Summary: As Naruto, Kakashi, and Jiraiya settle into their new lives back home. Each of them take on the new role of husband, as all three have married the loves of their lives. However, their joy is short-lived, as they are forced to turn their attentions towards each of their respective mortal enemies. What the future holds for them and all those around them nobody knows, but one thing is for certain. They will have to fight to protect not only their friends and loved ones, but for their very lives as well.
Naruto vs. Sasuke: The Aftermath
Chapter 75: "The Wedding Gifts"
Many of the civilians attending the wedding reception cried out both in distress at seeing the young Konoha shinobi collapse to the floor in a bloody heap unconscious. But also in abject fear upon hearing the name the ninja had shouted out. That name alone brought a sense of terror and foreboding in both shinobi and civilians alike. However, before the echoes of their cries had died away. Shizune and Sakura had already shunshin'd to where young ninja had fallen and were giving medical aid.
Sakura hands glowed green, as she moved them over his body to perform a medical scan. While Shizune ripped open the shinobi's shirt to expose his wound. Upon seeing his injuries, the first apprentice of Tsunade gasped in shock and openly cried out.
"Kami, it looks as though his chest was ripped open at one point!"
"It must have been, because he's lost a lot of blood." Sakura replied, before adding.
"But it seems like someone tried to close and suture the wound, but what did they use?"
Shizune examined the thread used to close the chest wound, before she answered in amazement.
"I'm not positive, but it looks like fishing line to me."
At that point Tsunade, Jiraiya, and Ibiki Morino had arrived at the scene along with a small contingent of Leaf shinobi who were holding the curious onlookers back, as Shizune and Sakura attended the fallen shinobi.
"Report Shizune and Sakura!" Tsunade barked out in command.
"His injuries are serious Lady Tsunade, but I believe he can be saved. Shizune quickly answered in response, followed by Sakura's reply.
"The biggest threat to his life right now milady is the severe blood loss he has suffered. We need to get transfusions started right away."
"Who is he?" Tsunade then asked.
Sakura reached up to rip the dog-tags off from the Leaf shinobi and tossed them to the blonde Hokage. However, they were snatched midair by Ibiki, who silently examined them for a moment, before turning to Tsunade and stated.
"His name is Kenji Nakamora, he's a Leaf village Chunin grade eight in our ranks Hokage-Sama."
"Send someone over to the Konoha Shinobi Command Center to find out where this young man was stationed." Tsunade quickly ordered.
"There's no need for that Hokage-Sama. Kenji Nakamora was part of a five-man squad under the command of Mamoru Soto, who are manning the Konoha Supply depot at the Village of Usuki." Ibiki calmly and succinctly answered.
"How can you know so easily where this young ninja was stationed at?" Mei Terumii the Godaime Mizukage of Kirigakure asked in wonderment. As she and the other Kage's present had made their way over to where Tsunade was.
Ibiki merely turned his battle-scarred head to gaze at the Mizukage, before he replied in a reserved tone of voice, so as not to give any offense to the foreign Kage.
"It is my job to know where all of the shinobi under my command are currently stationed at Lady Mizukage."
"Lady Tsunade, we need to get this man to the hospital to begin blood transfusions immediately." Shizune declared, as the shinobi was loaded onto a gurney.
"Go with him Shizune, you to Sakura. But I need to know as soon as possible when he can talk. We must find out what he knows of Orochimaru." Tsunade ordered to her two apprentices.
"Hai Milady!" both Shizune and Sakura replied in unison, before heading out with their patient.
As Tsunade watched them leave, she heard behind her the deep voice of Ei, the Yondaime Raikage of Kumogakure contemptuously remark.
"I don't know why you need to wait until your shinobi can talk Kage-Tsunade. It's fairly obvious judging by his last word that the Leaf village traitor has attacked this Village of Usuki he was stationed at. You should just mobilize a force and send them off to this village at once. It's what I would do."
Tsunade had to bite her tongue to keep from telling the Raikage where he could stick his unsolicited advice. But was actually beaten to it, when Oonoki, the Sandaime Tsuchikage of Iwagakure commented to the Raikage in a derisive tone of voice.
"So Kage-Ei, you would just send a shinobi force off with no idea or any intel whatsoever about size, strength, and capabilities of the enemy forces they might encounter. In fact, you can't even be certain about their location, it's just a guess at this point. No wonder Kumogakure did so well against Konohagakure in the Third Great Shinobi war following brilliant military strategy such as that."
Ei seethed at the sarcastic barb Oonoki had sent his way and growled out in fury.
"You had best keep your opinions about my military strategies to yourself old man, unless you'd like to test them out on the battlefield yourself!"
"Kage-Ei,...Kage-Oonoki,...now is not the time for such petty squabbles. Remember, we are all here as guests representing our respective Daimyou's of our countries. I do not believe they would appreciate a war being started between two of the esteemed Kage's at a wedding reception." Gaara stated in a calm, yet firm tone of voice.
Both Ei and Oonoki stared at the young Godaime Kazekage of Sunagakure, before Oonoki being of a cooler head than the Raikage relented first and stated with sincerity.
"You are indeed correct Kage-Gaara, my most sincere apologies Kage-Tsunade for my part in this minor...dispute I had with Kage-Ei."
Not to be outdone by the Tsuchikage, Ei quickly declared with as much sincerity as he could muster.
"My apologies as well Kage-Tsunade. It was not my place to tell you how you should conduct something that is strictly a Konohagakure affair."
"Apology accepted to both of you." Tsunade politely answered, before then adding in a subtle political maneuver to help diffuse the tense situation even further.
"Actually, both of you are indeed correct about the matter. I do need to mobilize a Leaf shinobi force to investigate what has happened, as you suggested Kage-Ei. But I also can't blindly send them forth without first gathering as much information and Intel as I can about what they might be facing when they are sent out."
Tsunade then turned back to Ibiki and ordered.
"Ibiki, get with Shikaku Nara and put together a plan and mobilize a strike force to move out as soon as we are able to after learning of what exactly has transpired."
Tsunade then turned to her fellow Kage's and declared.
"Since there is little more we can do at the moment, please return to your seats and enjoy the rest of this reception." Tsunade then turned to the nervous crowd in the reception hall and made a similar announcement to them. Before she and Jiraiya returned to their own table to rejoin Kakashi, Kurenai, Naruto, and Hinata. The blonde Hokage wore a bright smile upon her face to alleviate any concerns some of the civilian might still harbor. However, that smile was just a facade, as she grew more and more anxious, as she wondered what new evil her former teammate had unleashed upon the world on her very wedding day.
A few hours later, Tsunade had quietly slipped away from the wedding reception to check in with Shizune and Sakura about her fallen shinobi.
"How is my unexpected wedding crasher doing?' Tsunade asked with humor in an attempt to ease the tension of the moment.
"We've managed to get two liters of blood into him and have gotten him stabilized. Sakura was also able to re-suture his chest wounds. I would say his chances are good that he's going to recover Lady Tsunade." Shizune replied.
"We were right milady, whoever previously sutured his wounds had used fishing line to do it." Sakura remarked to her mentor.
"Hmm, it appears this shinobi has an interesting tale to tell us when he awakens." Tsunade openly commented,
"Well it's a tale we need to hear as soon as possible my love." A stern voice behind the blonde Hokage declared.
"Jiraiya-kun, what are you doing here? I thought I told you to stay at the reception and entertain our guests."
"Kakashi and Naruto can handle that. You and I need to know what that bastard of an ex-teammate has done." Jiraiya stoically answered, before adding.
"Is there any way we can wake him up now?"
"I don't know, his body has already suffered some severe trauma today. I'd rather he wake up on his own from the sedatives we've administered than put any more stress upon him by giving him stimulants to revive him." Tsunade quietly said.
"I understand my hime, but we need to find out immediately if there is an imminent threat posed to the Leaf village. With all the foreign dignitaries and guests, not to mention the four of other Kage's of the elemental nations within our village for the wedding. It would be catastrophic if Orochi-teme chose to launch an attack against us."
"Do you really think he would attempt such scheme? I mean the Konoha's security has never been higher because of all the important people gathered here for our wedding."
"I'll admit from a strategic standpoint; it doesn't make much sense, as we already know Orochi-teme doesn't have the sufficient forces needed right now to carry off a successful attack. But he is an unpredictable bastard and we can't afford to take the chance he won't. So for the sake of the village, we need to revive this shinobi and find out what he knows."
Tsunade's brow furrowed in deep thought as she contemplated what her new husband had just stated. After a moment she looked over to Shizune and nodded her head to them before she ordered.
A few minutes later, both Shizune and Sakura were monitoring closely the IV solution with the stimulant to awaken shinobi Kenji Nakamora. After about 10 minutes, Kenji's eyes began to flutter, before they slowly opened. He blinked several times to clear his vision and take in his new surroundings. Tsunade leaned over and in a soothing voice asked.
"Do you know who I am?"
Kenji slowly nodded his head and in a raspy voice choked out.
"You….you're….my Hokage…La…..Lady Tsunade."
"Very good, now do you know who you are, can you say your name?"
"I…..I'm Ken…. Kenji Nakamora. Lea…..Leaf village Chunin grade eight….Hok….Hokage-sama."
Tsunade held a small cup of water and let Kenji drink to alleviate his dry throat. After a moment, the young shinobi pulled away from the cup and Tsunade placed it onto the bed-stand before she then asked.
"Shinobi Nakamora...Kenji...can you tell me what happened? All you said before you collapsed was the name...Orochimaru."
Upon hearing that name, Kenji's eyes grew wide in fear and the monitors hooked up to him showed an immediate spike in his blood pressure and heart rate. His breathing also became more rapid, as Tsunade attempted to calm the young man down.
"Kenji,...Kenji...it's alright, you're back in the village, you're safe!"
The young ninja heard this and realized that the Hokage was misinterpreting his reaction and shaking his head vigorously cried out in a desperate voice.
"No, no Lady Tsunade, I'm not worried about myself, its Commander Mamoru and my comrades at the supply depot in Usuki. Orochimaru was attacking the village, we must send reinforcements to Usuki immediately and save them!"
An ugly pall of silence fell over the hospital room like a shroud. As Kenji looked around and saw the sullen and crestfallen faces of everyone around. It was then the stark realization of the situation hit him like a smack to his face. Dropping his head down in sad remorse, he openly remarked to everyone present.
"I'm being stupid and foolish aren't I? Commander Mamoru and my other comrades are probably dead. There is no way the four of them could have survived against Orochimaru and his forces. Which if I had to guess was at least 100 enemy shinobi and also included the Leaf village traitors Kabuto, and Sasuke Uchiha."
"Sasuke was there!" Sakura gasped in shock.
Tsunade shot a stern look at her young apprentice, silently sending the message to her to be quiet. However, the blonde Hokage was pleased that Sakura no longer attached the loving prefix of "Kun" to his name anymore. She then turned her attention back to Kenji and in a calm and collected voice asked the young ninja.
"Kenji, can you tell us what happened?"
"Hai Hokage-Tsunade." Kenji smartly answered, before inhaling and exhaling a deep breath to begin his tale of sorrow.
"I was stationed and part of a five-man squad under the command of Mamoru Soto. My fellow Chunin comrades were Ryo, Naoki, and Toru and we were manning the Konoha Supply depot at the Village of Usuki. We were the main supply depot for the front lines guarding the border between the Fire and Rice countries."
Tsunade nodded her head in understanding, before Kenji continued on.
"It was an uneventful morning today, as it always is being so far behind the front lines. I remember foolishly complaining to Commander Mamoru and the others about how bored I was and wanted to see some action. Little did I know that my wish was soon going to be granted in the most awful of ways imaginable."
(Flashback 11 Hours)
Kenji was desperately leading a group of about 50 villagers towards the south gate of the Village of Usuki. He was picking up a few more villagers here and there as they went, but he know he couldn't save everyone. Kenji could hear behind him the screams of those he wasn't able to save and he felt physically ill with guilt about it. However, Kenji could also hear the sounds of explosions and battle and knew Commander Mamoru and his other comrades were fighting fiercely to buy him the time he needed to save the villagers he could. As the young shinobi and the villagers he had gathered exited the south gate, a bone-shaking roar was heard in front of them. Kenji looked ahead and the sight he saw made his blood run cold with fear.
Standing on the road before them was some sort of hideous monstrosity that Kenji could only surmise had once been a man, but was now something very...different and most certainly...evil.
Before him stood a creature one could only conjure in nightmares. The monster stood over seven feet in height and was bipedal in form, but its overall body had a skeletal biomechanical appearance and its skin color was bronze. This beast also possessed large protruding bone spikes emerging from his shoulder blades and a long spiked tail extended from his tail bone. The tail was segmented and blade-tipped and Kenji could only liken it to scorpion-like in appearance but on a massive scale. In fact the tail looked so deadly as a weapon, it appeared to be strong enough to impale and lift a man with seemingly little effort.
However, it was the structure of the head of the fiend before him that made Kenji truly question whether anything human remained within it. The skull was elongated and cylindrical, and though it still had human-looking eye sockets within. The eyes themselves had yellow irises and black sclera surrounding them. All in all, it was such a monstrosity in appearance that one could argue that this had to be a demon risen from the depths of hell.
(End of Flashback)
"Kami, what a horrible creature!" Shizune exclaimed in dread at what she had heard.
"Kenji, was there anything else you can remember about this monster you saw." Jiraiya, questioned in curiosity.
"H-hai Lord Jiraiya! This monster was also covered from head to toe with these strange black shapes or markings."
Both Tsunade and Jiraiya looked to one another and nodded in unison, before the Toad-Sage bluntly remarked.
"A Cursed-Seal monster."
"Strange black shapes or markings covering its body. Sasuke had those when he fought us during the Sound invasion of the village a few years ago." Sakura lamented, as she shivered slightly at the memory.
"I, I don't understand, what's a Cursed-Seal monster?" Kenji openly asked to everyone in the hospital room.
"A Cursed-Seal monster is a creature created by a special seal Orochimaru developed and are a form of power and control, used by him. The seal grants the bearer power in the form of chakra; when releasing chakra the seal can be activated, and when active it draws out chakra from deep within the user."
"You mean a seal is what turned a normal man into that freak I saw and fought with!" Kenji cried out in stunned disbelief.
"I'm afraid so Kenji, the cursed seal has two levels, level one and level two. Once receiving a cursed seal, the bearer is only able to access level one, whereas level two is something that comes over time - either when the user has been affected by the cursed seal so much that they are able to access it, or if bearer drinks a Seishingan drug. When a user activates level one of the cursed seal, the seal will glow and a black pattern will spread across at least half of the body. Level one allows the user to draw out more chakra and enhances their abilities. When a user activates level two of the seal a more dramatic change is experienced creating a very powerful and deadly monstrosity as you saw today." Jiraiya stoically answered, before adding.
"Which brings to my next question, how exactly did you survive? I don't mean to demean your skills, but a level two cursed powered being can fight on par with a top level Jounin. So what happened? How were you able to win your fight against such a creature?"
"I, I didn't win Lord Jiraiya,…..I lost." Kenji softly replied in sadness.
(Flashback 11 Hours)
Kenji could hear the horrified shrieks and cries of the villagers behind him as they gazed with terror at the vile monster blocking their path on the road. The young ninja was equally as scared as everyone else, but hid it, as he made a stark realization to himself. He was going to have to make the same sacrifice for these people that Commander Mamoru and his fellow shinobi were currently making for them. Kenji exhaled a soft sigh, and a single tear welled in his eye, as he thought of Mariko and knew he was never going to see her again. Quickly wiping the tear away, he turned to one of the few young men of the village he had gathered and ordered with as much authority as he could in his voice.
"When I engage that monster in battle, I want you to take everyone and make a break for it to the next village and warn them of what has happened. I also need you to get word to Konoha and alert our shinobi forces there and tell them as well."
"Are you crazy, there's no way you can take on a demon like that and survive!"
"Maybe not, but at least I can keep it occupied long enough for all of you to get away."
"It's a suicide mission son, let us help you fight that beast." An old man by the name of Roshi pleaded to the young ninja, as well as a few other young men who echoed Roshi's words.
Kenji lost his temper, as the magnitude of the sacrifice he was about to make hit him hard at that moment and he snapped angrily at them.
"Don't be stupid! None of you have any fighting skills to help me! Damn it, I'm not asking you to run away to the next village, I'm ordering it!"
It was then Kenji saw the hurt looks spread upon the faces of Roshi and the other men who were willing to stand and fight with him after his scathing remarks. Exhaling a regretful sigh, he then stated in a contrite and subdued tone of voice.
"I humbly apologize to you. I appreciate very much that all of you want to help me to fight that creature, but it would be for naught if you did. You would just be needlessly sacrificing yourselves in vain, and I swear to Kami above, you would be of much more help to me to get the women and children, along with yourselves to the next village as quickly as possible. We need to warn them and Konoha of what has happened. Please my friends, I will buy you all as much time as I can, as I engage that monster in battle, but when I do, I need all of you escape so that my sacrifice and mine alone won't be in vain."
All the village men around Kenji dropped their heads in sadness, but nodded their understanding and compliance to what the Leaf village shinobi was asking of them. As the moved away, Kenji caught the arm of Roshi and leaned in to whisper in his ear.
"Do me a favor honored elder. Please go to Konoha after this and find a girl named Mariko Otami and let her know that Kenji Nakamora loved her very much."
Kenji then let go of Roshi's arm and turned around to face the Cursed-Seal monster. Pulling two kunai's out and twirling them both in his hands, he shouted at the creature with bravado.
"Alright you ugly motherfucker, let's dance!"
Kenji then rushed at the monster with both kunai poised to strike.
(End of Flashback)
"That was very brave of you Kenji-san." Sakura offered in genuine compliment.
"Not really Sakura-san, I was so scared it's a wonder I didn't piss myself, but it was my duty to try and buy as much time as I could for the villagers to escape."
"My apprentice is correct, you were very brave in attempting to fight that creature and you upheld your duty and the Will of Fire our village is based upon most splendidly Kenji. But you still haven't answered my husband's question, how were able to survive?" The blonde Hokage asked, echoing Jiraiya's previous query once more.
"I survived Lady Tsunade, because of the sacrifice of one kind old man." Kenji stated with remorse etched in his voice.
(Flashback 11 Hours)
As Kenji fought the Cursed-Seal monster with everything he had, he soon realized it was hopeless. At the start of the fight, the young ninja had surmised that the only way he could win was to utilize his speed against his opponent. To use lightning strikes and then quickly retreat, as speed was the only advantage he had. However, after a few minutes, Kenji made the stark and brutal realization that there was no winning of this battle by him. Although the creature looked cumbersome and slow, the truth of the matter was the exact opposite. This monstrosity was actually much quicker than Kenji had been expecting. It was all the young shinobi could do to avoid the sharp claws of his foe and even worse than that was the incredible speed it could lash out with of its tail.
On top of all of that, the few strikes Kenji was able to inflict onto his opponent did very little damage. The skin of the vile beast was just too tough to get serious penetration to do any real harm to it. Coupled with that was the unbelievable stamina the monster possessed, that after 10 minutes of fighting, Kenji was nearly spent. While his foe was as strong and quick as it was at the start of the battle. So it was inevitable that Kenji made an error and that the creature was able to land a serious slash across his chest, before the young ninja could shushin away in time.
Reappearing 100 yards away from his opponent to try and put as much distance as he could between himself and the monster after receiving the vicious wound sapped the remaining strength Kenji had left within him. Collapsing to the ground, the young shinobi knew he was finished. What little time he had left on this earth was however long it took for this demon to walk over and finish him off. As Kenji laid his head down onto the ground and closed his eyes to await his fate. His thoughts once more drifted to the beautiful image of Mariko in his mind and Kenji realized how stupid he had been to question whether or not he loved the girl with Commander Mamoru and the others in his squad. He knew right then and there that he loved her very much and also knew that she loved him. All Kenji could do as a tear rolled down his cheek, was to say a silent prayer to Kami to grant Mariko and long and happy life.
Suddenly Kenji was broken out of his thoughts by someone cupping his head and bringing a canteen of water up to his lips to drink. Opening his eyes while taking a sip, the young shinobi was startled to see the grizzled yet smiling old face of Roshi staring back at him. Coughing a bit on the water, Kenji sputtered out in dismay.
"Cough, cough...Ro-Roshi, what are you doing here? I told you to go with the others!"
"Yeah you did, but I'm about 60 years your senior and I don't take orders from young pups like you, haven't in a long time."
Kenji took a quick glance at the fiend he had been fighting and saw it had started moving slowly towards their position. In a panicked voice he pleaded in desperation.
"Roshi, you need to get out of here, I'm done! I don't have the strength left to continue and fight this beast. I can't protect you!"
"I know, I know, I've watched your battle since the beginning, by the way, you were magnificent young warrior the way you fought that thing." Roshi calmly replied.
"Yeah, so magnificent, I let that thing open up my chest." Kenji spat bitterly.
"Well, your wound looks bad, but I don't think its life threatening at the moment. Besides, if you get to where the rest of the villagers are camped at waiting about half a mile from here. I think they can get you patched up long enough until you can see a real doctor about it."
"Half a mile, are you people crazy? You should still be on move and much farther away by now. You don't understand, this creature is faster than he looks. After he's done with me, he'll be able to catch up with the rest of you in no time unless you go back and get them moving right now!"
"Why don't you let me worry about thing catching up and you go to the villagers and get them moving yourself."
"Now I know you're crazy, that beast will kill you instantly if you go up against it."
"You're right, it probably would, but like I said earlier, I saw most of the fight and I think I've come up with a way to take that big ugly down."
"What are you talking about Roshi?"
"Tell about that exploding paper thingy you threw at that big bastard early in the fight."
"Exploding paper thingy? You mean the exploding note I attached to a kunai and threw."
"Yeah, the exploding paper thingy, note, whatever, tell me about it."
"There's not much to tell, the exploding note is a piece of parchment paper which has script on it that serves to facilitate its explosive properties. As you saw me do, you can attach the note to another object such as a kunai and throw it at an opponent, as when the note is set, it begins a slow burn which results in a large explosion."
"Yeah, I was really surprised that such a small piece of paper could cause such a doozy of an explosion. How many of those things have you got left son?"
"I've got seven notes left." Kenji answered, as he pulled them out of his ninja pouch, before he then remarked in frustration.
"But if you saw the fight, then you know they won't do any good. That son of a bitch was quick enough to avoid the kunai and exploding note and get far enough away from it for it to do any damage."
"Yup, for as big as he is, he sure can scoot when he wants to. But he saw that kunai thingy coming and had time to dodge it. What if he doesn't have the time to dodge it, do you think seven of those notes can take him down?" Roshi asked, while he casually took the notes from Kenji's hands.
"I, I don't know Roshi, I really don't."
"Well let's say we find out." Roshi declared, before standing up and turning to face the hulking monster stalking towards them.
It was then that Kenji realized what Roshi was about to do and he suddenly found a small reserve of strength and struggled in an attempt to rise and stop the old man. However, Roshi activated the notes and turned to Kenji and said.
"Get out of here kid, go take care of my people and get them to safety. And deliver that message to that gal of yours back in the Leaf village yourself."
Kenji that watched in horror, as the old man sprinted forward with speed he could scarcely believe one so aged could still have. The young shinobi then watched Roshi leap and attempt to tackle the monster. And though he could not bring the beast down, he held onto its legs with a vice-like grip. Even as the monstrosity brought its tail around and repeatedly stabbed Roshi over and over again. Suddenly, a massive explosion rocked the battlefield and as the dust and debris of the blast settled. Kenji could see with tears in his eyes that Roshi had succeeded in stopping the creature, as he slowly stumbled away to rejoin the villagers a half mile away.
(End of Flashback)
"What happened after that?"
"After that, I made my way to where the villagers were waiting, but I wasn't in very good shape because of my wounds. However, Roshi was right and the villagers did get me patched up well enough to get them to the next village. Albeit they had to use fishing line to sew me up to do it. Unfortunately, the next village was small and didn't have a messenger bird or telegraph system for me to use to contact Konoha. So I took all the Hyorogan (Military Ration Pills) I had to replenish my chakra and set off to get to the Leaf village as quickly as I could. Hoping that the stitch job I got from the villagers wouldn't unravel on me before I got back here to warn everyone of what had happened."
"It damn near did unravel on you Kenji-san." Shizune commented to her patient.
"Well I'm glad it didn't, if it had than Roshi's noble sacrifice would have been for nothing."
"Roshi was a brave man."
"Yes, he was Shizune-san. Braver than I was, because he did what I couldn't do and that was bring that monster down, even though he knew it would cost him his life in doing so." Kenji solemnly replied with guilt and remorse.
"You shouldn't feel that way Kenji. You were just as brave as he was and also willing to lay down your life. You just didn't think of the tactic of using the exploding notes like he did. Plus, I think this Roshi had lived a long life and wanted to see you and all those people you rescued have a chance to live as long a life as he had. So praise his sacrifice, honor it, but don't feel guilty and sad about it. By doing that then you insult the sacrifice he made, and from what I just heard, Roshi deserves better than that you."
Kenji pondered Jiraiya's words deeply as his brow furrowed in deep thought. After a minute, he nodded his head and looked over to Jiraiya and stated in an apologetic tone.
"You're right Lord Jiraiya, that would be insulting, not only for the sacrifice Roshi made, but to the man himself."
"I promise you, Roshi's act of valor will not be forgotten. I will personally award posthumously The Hokage Medal of Freedom for Roshi's meritorious contribution to the security and national interests of the Fire Nation. And not only him, but also Commander Mamoru and your fellow shinobi comrades as well."
"Thank you Lady Tsunade, I'm not sure if Roshi were still alive he would care all that much about receiving a medal, but he certainly does deserve one, as do the Commander and the others." Kenji solemnly remarked.
"At least Roshi was able to kill that monster, before he died." Sakura openly commented.
Kenji looked over and sadly shook his head, before he then made a statement that shocked everyone in the room.
"I wish that was the case Sakura-san, but you're wrong, he didn't kill that monster."
Kenji then exhaled a sigh, before he continued on.
"That creature was still alive when I left, even though the lower half of its body was blown away. It was still trying to crawl its way towards me...to kill me or anyone else that it could get it hands on."
A pall of silence once again enveloped the room, until after a minute Tsunade broke the eerie quiet by ordering.
"Get some rest now Shinobi Kenji Nakamora, you've earned it. And know that as your Hokage, I have never been prouder of any of the shinobi I have under my command than I am of you."
"Thank you Lady Tsunade." Kenji contritely replied, before he then asked.
"If I may ask Hokage-sama, what about the Village of Usuki and my comrades?"
"We've already started putting together a security force to respond to this attack. They will be heading out as soon as possible."
"I would like to request to be a part of that security force Hokage-sama."
Tsunade shook her head and answered in a calm voice.
"I know you would, but your fight is done shinobi, get some rest and heal."
"Besides, if you were to rush right out again Kenji, I think you would be greatly disappointing this lovely young lady here." Jiraiya announced to the room.
Everyone present turned to see a beautiful young girl standing nervously in the doorway of the hospital room looking around with awe.
"MARIKO!" Kenji cried out and held his arms out towards the young woman.
"KENJI!" Mariko shouted in return, as she rushed forward into his arms and the young couple hugged one another fiercely, while everyone else in the room exited quietly to grant the two some privacy.
When Tsunade and the others entered her office at the hospital, she ordered Shizune and Sakura to put together three shinobi medical squads and have them ready to move out in two hours. As the two apprentices of the slug Sannin left to carry out her orders. Tsunade flopped into her chair, and looked at the clock, sighing heavily as it was just past midnight. She then reached down to open up the bottom desk drawer in front of her and pull out a large bottle of sake and two glasses. Pouring herself and Jiraiya a drink, she held the glass up in the air in a toast.
"Hell of way to spend one's honeymoon, don't you agree Jiraiya-kun."
The Toad Sannin clinked his glass with hers, before he answered with bitterness.
"It's not the night I was looking forward to that's for sure, but leave it to that bastard teammate of ours ruin this night. I'm sure that's exactly what he was counting on."
Both Sannin then downed their drinks and Jiraiya handed his glass back for a refill and then said.
"You know, with so many important and foreign dignitaries and guests here in the village to attend our wedding. We can't put together a large shinobi force to go meet this threat. We simply don't have the manpower. For all we know, this was an attack by Orochimaru to draw a sizable force away from the village so he could attack it. If anything were to happen to those people, it would shame and disgrace the Fire Daimyou and cause serious problems with our relations with the other Elemental nations."
"I know, I know, it's definitely situations like this where our philosophy of quality of shinobi over physical numbers of shinobi places us at a disadvantage."
Tsunade then downed her drink and declared in frustration.
"But we have to put together some shinobi force in response!"
It was at that moment someone knocked on the office door. Jiraiya strode across the room and opened the door and both he and Tsunade were surprised to see Gaara the standing in the doorway. Bidding the Godaime Kazekage of Sunagakure to enter, the red-headed Kage bowed slightly in a show of respect to his fellow Kage, before he then asked.
"Kage-Tsunade, I've been chosen by my fellow Kage's to speak to you, if it's not too much trouble."
"It's no trouble Kage-Gaara, what is it you and the other Kage's wish to discuss?"
"We would like to request that we accompany you and your shinobi strike force when you leave to investigate what has happened in the Village of Usuki."
Tsunade was shocked and a bit bewildered by this request, but kept her face neutral, showing no emotion or reaction whatsoever, before she answered.
"A most unusual and puzzling request. What has or has not happened in the Village of Usuki is strictly a Leaf village and Fire nation matter. I would think it would hold very little interest to my fellow Kage's."
"In different times and under different circumstances you would be correct. However, the Yondaime Raikage of Kumogakure, has been pressing us to have a serious discussion regarding what he feels is a major problem and threat to all of our villages and nations in the future."
"What problem or threat?"
"The Akatsuki Kage-Tsunade."
The blonde Hokage stiffened slightly upon hearing this, before she quickly recovered and asked.
"What do the Akatsuki have to do with the Village of Usuki?"
"Perhaps nothing, but Ei feels certain that what he thinks has happened in that village will provide a visual example to his other Kage's of the danger the Akatsuki pose to all of us, seeing as Orochimaru was once a member of that organization."
Both Sannin pondered silently what Gaara had just said, until after a minute something sparked in Jiraiya's eyes and he stated.
"In the spirit of compromise and of keeping good relations with our fellow Kage's and their respective nations. I am recommending to Lady Tsunade that she accept this request."
Tsunade was bit taken aback by this and shot a fervent glance at her husband, who slightly nodded his head to her in assurance, before he then added.
"However, I must point out that if you and the other Kage's come along, know that Konoha's first priority on this mission is the potential rescue and recovery of one of our villages from a hostile invading force. We will not be able to maintain security and protect you and the other Kage's during this mission as diligently as we have while you've been guests here in our village."
Gaara nodded his head in understanding and acceptance, as he declared with no hesitation or uncertainty in his voice.
"I understand completely, and let me assure you completely, your security forces on this mission need not trouble themselves with the safety of either myself or the other Kage's. We will accept the responsibilities of protecting ourselves during this proceeding. Also, we will not interfere or involve ourselves in any way during this mission, unless requested by you Kage-Tsunade. We are strictly attending this as observers only."
Tsunade nodded her head in approval and granted her fellow Kage's request, before instructing Gaara to have them meet her at the main gate in two and a half hours' time to head out. After her fellow Kage left, she turned to Jiraiya and asked in bewilderment.
"Why did you so quickly want to agree to the other Kage's request to tag along?"
"Two reasons my love, one it does help strengthen the good relations we're trying to maintain with the other Elemental nations. But the main reason is it solves the manpower problem we were discussing before Gaara's timely arrival."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean we don't have to risk taking a larger shinobi force on this mission and potentially weakening the security and protection of the Leaf village and of the foreign dignitaries and guests here at this moment, any more than we have to. As you already know, when you took on Orochimaru and his 100+ shinobi during the invasion. Any one of our elite shinobi is ten times the ninja his are in terms of skill and power. Hell even our lower ranked shinobi were five times better, when you compared the losses both sides suffered. So if we take at least a dozen of our elite Jounin shinobi and reinforce them with some high-ranking Chunin. Plus with the other Kage's potentially backing us up if needed. That should enough to handle anything we might run into."
"You seem to be forgetting that our slithering ex-teammate is one of the most powerful shinobi in all the Elemental nations. And his two apprentices and fellow Leaf village traitors are no slouches either." Tsunade remarked with concern.
"I'm forgetting nothing my love, just leave Orochi-teme to me, while Kakashi and Naruto take care of Kabuto and the Uchiha brat. If those three bastards are stupid enough to still be there when we arrive. Then the Village of Usuki will be their final tomb!" Jiraiya answered in a cold and deadly tone of voice Tsunade had never heard from him before.
The blonde Hokage shivered slightly at the fierce determination of Jiraiya's declaration, before she then asked.
"Kakashi and Naruto, do we really need to have them on this mission? I mean it is their honeymoons after all."
"Unfortunately, we do need them. The truth of the matter is Kakashi and Naruto are the only shinobi we have who can take on Kabuto and Sasuke one on one and have a reasonable chance of winning. Plus both of them have a serious personal stake with each of those assholes just like I do with Orochi-teme. They would be extremely pissed if we were to run into them and they weren't there. Besides, if them coming along bothers you that much, you can always assign Kurenai and Hinata to the strike force as well."
"No, that is not an option." Tsunade sternly proclaimed.
"Because I'm very fearful of what we are going to find once we get to the Village of Usuki. You and I both know the depths of the depravity and evil Orochimaru is capable of. And I don't want Kurenai and Hinata to associate for the rest of their lives in memory, what has happened to that village and its people when they think about their wedding day."
"But it was your wedding day to."
"I know, but going there is one of the prices I must pay for being the Hokage." Tsunade replied in a voice tinged with sadness.
Jiraiya walked over and wrapped Tsunade up in a loving and comforting hug and held her tightly, before someone knocked on her office door once more.
"Enter!" Tsunade called out, as she and Jiraiya broke apart from their embrace.
A moment later, Shikaku Nara and Ibiki Morino entered the office.
"Lady Tsunade, Ibiki and I have chosen the shinobi for the emergency response mission to the Village of Usuki. However, it's troublesome, but I must point out that if we take this many shinobi, we run the risk of not being able to provide sufficient security of the Leaf village and its guests. Especially for protecting the high ranking foreign dignitaries and the Kage's as well. We simply don't have the manpower to do both proficiently at this moment. Not with many of our forces still manning the front lines between the Fire and Rice countries."
Tsunade was not at all surprised that Shikaku had so readily seen the problem both she and Jiraiya were just discussing earlier. So she gave a small smile to the Strategic Commander of her shinobi forces and stated.
"Well let's take a look at the shinobi you and Ibiki have chosen, as I have some news for you that may allow us to reduce that number a bit. So then we won't have to lessen the amount of safety and protection we are currently providing to our guests."
Nearly two and a half hours later, Tsunade, Jiraiya, Shizune, and Sakura arrived at the main gate with three shinobi medical squads. The blonde Hokage surveyed the scene and the people already at the gate. Tsunade quickly noted her fellow Kage's and their bodyguards standing off to the side from the Konoha shinobi strike force that been assembled. Besides herself, Jiraiya and Shibi Aburame would be the two highest ranking senior officers on this mission. However, the blonde Hokage, along with Jiraiya and Shikaku Nara had already decided that Kakashi would lead the strike force with Naruto and Shikaku's son Shikamaru as his lieutenant commanders.
The rest of the strike force was made up of both veterans and the rising stars within the Leaf village's ninja ranks. Might Gai was on this mission along with his prized pupils Rock Lee and Neji Hyuga Others that were also participating were Anko and her student Ino Yamanaka. And from Kurenai's team both Shino Aburame, as well as Kiba Inuzuka along with his canine familiar Akamaru would also be in the strike force. Two of Tsunade's finest Tokubetsu Jounin, Genma Shiranui and Yuugao Uzuki would also be coming. And finally, Keko Yamanaka would also be there, as Tsunade wanted a trained mental health counselor on hand for her people out of fear of what this strike force was going to discover. Not counting herself or Jiraiya, the blonde Hokage was confident that she had put together a very formidable force of 16 of her best shinobi. And backing up all of these elite ninja would be a contingent of 20 high-ranking Chunin. Most of them veterans and all of them volunteers, as most of them knew and respected their fellow Chunin Mamoru Soto.
All in all, Tsunade felt comfortable that if Kenji's estimate of the number of forces Orochimaru used in his attack on the Village of Usuki was accurate. This strike force would be able to handle them, if the invading enemy was still there. As Tsunade was about to and give the order to move out. Oonoki, the Sandaime Tsuchikage of Iwagakure stepped forward and asked his fellow Kage.
"Kage-Tsunade, is it your intention march to this Village of Usuki?"
"No Kage-Oonoki, I do not intend to march, I intend to move just as fast as we can. I estimate that at full speed, this strike force can arrive at the village by dawn."
"I thought as much. If I may, I know myself and my fellow Kage's promised not to interfere with this mission, but if you would accept. I believe I have better way to move your forces and ourselves to this village just as fast if not faster, and without your troops wearing themselves out to get there."
"What did you have in mind?"
"If you would allow me, I can use my Keijuugan no Jutsu (Light Rock Technique) to reduce the gravity of a body of rock, making it much lighter. I can also reduce the gravity of my body with this technique and all of us can take flight to this village without anyone expending and energy to get there. Except for me of course."
"A most generous offer, I would be foolish not to accept."
A few minutes later, on a slab of rock about the size of a football field was flying through the sky with a contingent of 78 people standing atop it and one little old man piloting the earthen plane underneath it.
"Man Kakashi-sensei, this is one amazing technique! I can't believe that little old man can do this!" Naruto uttered in awe, as he looked over the edge of the rock he was standing upon and seeing the earth below rush by.
"I'd keep those little old man comments to yourself kid, Oonoki is a little sensitive about his age, but don't let that fool you. You don't become the Sandaime Tsuchikage of Iwagakure and rule for over 60 years without being a pretty powerful and skilled shinobi." Jiraiya remarked, as he walked over to where his grandson and Kakashi were standing.
The Toad-Sage then said with both sincerity and regret.
"By the way you two, both Tsunade and I are very sorry and feel terrible that you were assigned to this mission and had miss out on your honeymoons. However, given who we're potentially facing, we really didn't have much of a choice, but to include the both of you."
It's alright pervy-sage, sure Hinata-hime and I were a little disappointed, but we both understand the seriousness of this mission. I think the thing that upset Hinata the most was not being included on the mission." Naruto replied.
"Well I can tell you that's what pissed off Kurenai the most." Kakashi commented with a moan at remembering how mad Kurenai had gotten when she learned that not only was her honeymoon canceled, but that she couldn't even spend time with her new husband on the very mission that was causing the cancellation.
"Well, Tsunade-hime had her reason, damn good one I think for not including Kurenai and Hinata. So those two might be mad now, but years from now, I think they'll be thanking her for not including them on this mission." Jiraiya declared in a stoic voice.
"Hey Naruto!" Someone called out and the blonde Jinchuuriki turned around to see Shikamaru ambling towards him.
"What's up Shikamaru?"
"Can we talk in private?"
"Sure, let's go over there." Naruto replied and pointed to an unoccupied section about 50 yards away on the slab of rock they were standing on. Once the two young shinobi arrived, Naruto asked.
"So what's up?"
"It's troublesome, but I need to ask you something. Now I know from talking to Kakashi-sensei, that you can transport at least two people with you using the Hiraishin no Jutsu, but can you transport more than two people and if so is there a limit to that number?"
"I don't know, I've never tried to transport more than two people using the Flying Thunder God technique. So, I have no idea if I can transport more than two people or if I've got a limit to how many I can do. I guess it's something we could checkout at some point."
"How about we check it right now?" Shikamaru suggested.
"Are you serious, you want to check it here?" Naruto uttered in surprise.
"Just a quick experiment, normally I'd say we could wait until were back in the village, but it's kind of important for me to find out."
"Alright, if you say it's important. How do you want to do this?"
"Let me ask you this, can you key in on one of your shadow clones and use him as a marker to teleport to?"
"Yeah, I can do that."
"Excellent, go ahead and create a shadow clone and leave him here then."
Naruto quickly made the necessary hand-signs and called out.
"Kage Bushin no Jutsu."
A moment later, an exact copy of the blonde ninja appeared in a cloud of smoke. Naruto ordered his clone to stay there, while he and Shikamaru made their way back to where Jiraiya and Kakashi were standing.
"So what now?"
"Hang on Naruto, I want to call over a few more people before we do this." Shikamaru answered, before he called out.
"Hey, Neji, Kiba, Lee, Ino, Gai-sensei, and Anko-sensei! Can you guys come over here for a sec?"
When everyone arrived, Ino was the first one to speak up and ask her former teammate in curiosity.
"What's going on Shikamaru?"
"I just need all of your help to check something. I need to find out if Naruto using the Flying Thunder God technique can transport more than two people with him. Including Naruto, this group will give us a nice round number of 10 for his to transport over to where his clone is standing. It's troublesome, but trust me, it's important to find out." The Nara heir explained, as he pointed towards Naruto's clone 50 yards away.
"If it will help the flames of youth within my comrade to glow brighter, I will be glad to help!" Rock Lee vigorously proclaimed.
"Well said Lee!" Might Gai complimented.
"It won't hurt will it?" Kiba asked with hesitation.
Naruto merely rolled his eyes, before he answered with a bit of irritation.
"No it won't hurt! At worst, except for Master-Jiraiya and Kakashi-sensei since they've experienced it before. You might feel a bit dizzy afterwards. But once you've done it two or three times, even that goes away after you get used to it."
"Well I'm game, how about the rest of you?" Anko announced with a grin on her face.
Everyone else nodded or gave their permission to proceed. Naruto then had everybody link arms and form a sort of human chain, before he concentrated and then in an explosion of golden light, the group of 10 Leaf shinobi disappeared. A scant second later, they all reappeared to where Naruto's shadow clone was standing. Upon their reappearance, the dizziness that Naruto had warned them about hit many of them, including both Ino and Kiba who promptly fell on their butts to the ground. Anko would have followed them, but was caught at the last moment by Jiraiya and lifted back to her feet.
"Thanks for catching me Master-Jiraiya, but can I ask you a question?"
"Think nothing of it my dear and of course you can."
"Is there a reason why you chose to catch me from falling by my butt, instead of somewhere else?" Anko questioned, while cocking an eyebrow at the Toad-Sage.
"It was merely a spur of the moment catch my dear Anko. I really didn't have the time to consider the placement of my hands in preventing you from falling." Jiraiya innocently replied in his defense.
"Oh ok, then can you explain why your hand is still gripping my ass?" Anko then asked in a voice laced with potential anger and pain towards the recipient of her query.
Jiraiya quickly pulled his hand back and rubbing the back of his head much like Naruto does, he hemmed and hawed for an answer that would save him, before he sputtered in meek explanation.
"W-well, it's such a soft and supple...posterior, one of the finest I've ever held. That I just got lost in how good it felt in my hand."
Anko eyed the white-haired Sannin up and down and Jiraiya was sure he about to get a beating that would probably rival one of Tsunade's, before the Snake Mistress of Konoha smiled brightly and said.
"Good answer, do you mean it? Is it one of the finest you've ever held?"
Jiraiya made a crossing motion with his hand over his heart, before lifting it by his head, palm forward and declared in earnest.
"I swear to Kami above that it is my lovely Anko."
"That's sweet of you to say." Anko replied, as she leaned up and kissed Jiraiya on his cheek, before she sauntered away, her hips swaying as she walked away. While all of the men present who had witnessed what had just happened stood in shock with their mouths agape in awe. It was Kiba who broke the stunned silence when he turned to Ino and asked.
"Hey Ino, would you have reacted like that if I had caught you the way Master-Jiraiya caught Anko-sensei?"
Ino's response was to punch rather hard Kiba's shoulder causing the Inuzuka to wince slightly, as she then harshly answered.
"In your dreams dog-boy!"
The Yamanaka heiress then raced off to catch up with her sensei, leaving behind a still relatively shell-shocked group of men. After a minute, it was Kakashi who finally asked with interest.
"Shikamaru, you said earlier that it was important to find out if Naruto could transport more than two people using the Hiraishin no Jutsu. And I remember you also asked me about this at the wedding dinner party. Why is knowing this so important?"
"I wish I could tell you Commander-Kakashi, but I can't, because it's classified. However, if you remember from the party, I said that the Hokage had tasked me with a problem that even my Dad couldn't solve and that I was beginning to wonder if even I could."
"That's right, I remember now, you also said that if Naruto can transport more than two people using the Flying Thunder God technique. Then you might have the answer to the Hokage's problem. So do you?"
"I think so, I still have some parameters to work out, but I believe it can work."
"C'mon Shikamaru, can't you tell us anything about what this problem is?"
"It's troublesome Naruto, but I can't. However, once I get the go ahead from Lady Tsunade, you'll be the first to know. Since I'm going to need you as part of the solution anyway."
"Fine, I'll wait!" Naruto grumbled in an annoyed tone to his friend.
It was half an hour, before sunrise, as Oonoki landed his rack transport one mile from the village of Usuki. The Konoha strike force had stopped briefly in the village Kenji had escorted the villagers to he had rescued during the attack There they had found out that no one had attacked that village and that everything seemed normal, although the villagers did remain on high alert. Tsunade also spoke to the survivors of Usuki, who desperately wanted to go back home and find out what had happened to their homes and loved ones they had left behind. It broke the blonde Hokage's heart to deny their pleas to return to their village. However, Tsunade promised that they would be able to return as soon as it was deemed safe. Moving out, they approached the Village of Usuki cautiously, before the blonde Hokage nodded her head to Kakashi who ordered with authority.
"Gai, Rock Lee, I want the two of you to use your speed and check the entire perimeter of the village and then return here."
"Hai!" Both green-clad ninja answered in unison, before racing off with amazing speed towards the village.
"Kiba, take Akamaru and head to the west, the wind is coming from that direction and I want to find out what your keen senses of smell are picking up. When you do, report back here at once."
"The rest of you, I want a free flowing defensive perimeter set up 200 yards surrounding Lady Tsunade and the rest of the Kage's. Use the Alpha formation!" Kakashi barked out to the rest of the Konoha strike force.
"I thank you for the gesture Hatake Kakashi, but as I stated at the start of this mission to Hokage-Tsunade. You need not concern yourself with mine or my fellow Kage's safety. With our own...formidable skills, as well as our bodyguards with us. I can assure you we are quite capable of keeping ourselves safe." Gaara politely stated to the silver-haired Jounin.
"I understand that Godaime Kazekage and my orders were not meant to disrespect you or your fellow Kage's. Those same orders would have been given if Lady Tsunade were here alone and not in the company of her fellow Elemental nations Kage's. So merely view our protection as a simple happenstance of you and the other Kage's being in the presence of our esteemed Hokage on this mission. Kakashi contritely replied.
Gaara nodded his head in acceptance of this.
About 10 minutes later, both Gai and Rock Lee returned immediately reported their findings to Kakashi.
"Both Lee and myself circumnavigated the entire village within a quarter of a mile. We encountered no hostile forces and did not detect any movements or sounds coming from the village."
"From what I and Gai-sensei could see Commander Kakashi, the village appears to be deserted."
"Or dead!" A voice called out and everyone turned to see Kiba and Akamaru step out of the forest canopy and walk towards them.
"What do you mean dead Kiba?" Tsunade asked in a concerned tone of voice.
Kiba paused a moment to exhale a deep breath, before he then stated in a somber tone.
"What I mean Hokage Tsunade, is that the only scents Akamaru and I are picking up is the smell of blood...a lot of it. As well as just an overall smell of, of..."
"Of what Kiba?"
"Death Commander-Kakashi, all we can smell is death."
A pall of cold and disturbing silence spread throughout everyone there, before Kakashi turned and asked.
"Your orders Lady-Tsunade?"
The blonde Hokage pondered this question for a moment, before she answered stoically.
"Proceed to the village commander."
A few minutes later, everyone approached the Village of Usuki via the south gate entrance. However, before they arrived, a startling discovery was made outside of the village.
"Milady, you might want to see this!" Sakura called out as she stood next to a smoldering pile of...something.
As Tsunade and the others approached, they could see that what Sakura was standing next to was a severely burned up corpse. However, what made this corpse interesting to Tsunade and some of the other Konoha shinobi was that it was missing the lower half of its body. Some of the shinobi glanced at one another, as they remembered Kenji stating that the lower half of Orochimaru's Cursed-Seal monster's body had been blown away by Roshi's sacrifice. As everyone stared at the corpse, it was Sakura who tentatively questioned.
"Milady, do you think this was the monster Kenji fought?"
"I believe it was."
"But why burn it?"
"The beast was critically injured and of no use to Orochimaru anymore. He probably burned it to hinder anything we could learn from its corpse." Jiraiya openly answered.
"We'll take it back with us to Konoha, perhaps we can still learn something about it despite Orochimaru's efforts to eliminate any evidence." Tsunade announced, before she signaled to some of the Medical-nin's to process the body and get it ready for transport back to the Leaf village.
"Neji, give me a scan of the village!"
The veins around Neji's eyes bulged out, as he surveyed the village with his clan's trademark doujutsu. After a minute, he deactivated the jutsu and reported to Kakashi.
"Commander, I can confirm Gai-Sensei's report. I can detect no movements within the village and there appear to be several bodies littering the grounds."
Kakashi contemplated this a moment, before he then loudly ordered.
Alright people, move out, but stay sharp, we're going in."
A few minutes later, the Konoha strike-force entered the Village of Usuki and what greeted them were sights that would be burned into their memories for the rest of their lives. As the shear destruction, depravity, and perverse evil of what they would see was beyond any scope of what one could call humanity.
Kakashi immediately set up a picket line formation, as they moved through the village Kiba had been correct. If one could only describe this village in one word, the word death would be appropriate.
Because any direction where you looked, that's all you would see...death.
At first glance, one could easily see that widespread looting and arson had taken place, as nearly every building had been burned to the ground. Bodies were strewn about everywhere and most of them appeared to have been slaughtered where they had stood. However, after a few minutes most of the shinobi present realized that those had been the lucky ones. For it was quickly discovered that most of the women and some of the men and even worse some of the children had been stripped naked and brutally raped before they were killed. Upon closer examination, some of the bodies showed clear signs of being tortured before they had died. And as if the visuals of what they were finding wasn't bad enough. The swarm of flies that infested the village now and had laid eggs creating maggots, which were already feeding upon the dead was horrific to see. And combined with the overwhelming stench of death, it was all most of the people there could do to keep from emptying the contents of their stomachs.
"Man, I'm so glad I listened to Kakashi-sensei, when he said to skip breakfast before we got here." Naruto whispered to Shikamaru.
"I agree, but I'm still having to fight the urge to throw-up." Shikamaru whispered back.
Suddenly Tsunade barked in command.
"Shibi and Shino Aburame! Please use your Kikai insects on this swarm of flies now infesting the village."
"Hai Hokage-sama! Both father and son answered in unison.
A moment later, seemingly thousands of Kikai insects burst forth from their shirt sleeves and spread out throughout the village. In a manner of minutes one could nary find a single fly or maggot still alive. And while this brought a modicum of relief to everyone present, it could do nothing for the sights and smells they still had to endure while still searching for survivors within the village.
When the strike force had reached the Konoha Supply depot, several Leaf shinobi entered the building only to emerge minutes later and report to Tsunade.
"I'm sorry Lady Tsunade, the entire depot has been looted."
"I'm not surprised." The blonde Hokage uttered in disgust, before everyone moved forward towards the main gate of the village where the attack had begun.
Everyone's breath hitched in their throat when they turned a corner and suddenly halted, as their gaze fell upon a scene of unmitigated horror. Bodies were strewn about everywhere and there was so much blood that it had literally turned the ground crimson in color. The brutality was unparalleled and the majority of those killed were women and children who had been raped, tortured, and then beheaded. While many of the men had been bound and forced to watch what happened to their women and children, before they too were killed. However, four men had been prominently displayed and crucified upon crudely built wooden crosses that were hoisted into the air. The extensive torture and mutilation these men must have experienced and endured before they were killed was indescribable.
Without even needing confirmation, Tsunade, Jiraiya, Shizune and Sakura knew these men were Commander Mamoru and the rest of Kenji's shinobi squad Ryo, Naoki, and Toru.
A single tear rolled down Tsunade's cheek, as she gazed upon her fallen Leaf shinobi, before she shouted out in furious grief.
"GET THOSE MEN DOWN NOW!"
Several of the Medical-nin's hurried over to lower and retrieve Kenji's comrades for proper honors and burial back in the Leaf village. Everyone else stood rooted to the ground, as they stared at the ghastly scenes around them, before sharp orders from Kakashi sounded out and they all returned to trying to find any survivors of this massacre, but all of them knowing deep down that they wouldn't. Sakura rose up after checking and finding no pulse of a child who couldn't have been older than five. Seeing such an innocent so young and so brutally murdered, it was all the pink-haired shinobi could do to keep the bile in her from rising to her throat. Suddenly, Ino spoke up behind her and said.
"You know Sakura, after seeing this, I actually hate myself for being so foolish and stupid."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean look around at all of this evil and horror that were seeing. It's like a nightmare brought to life from hell itself and Sasuke was a part of this! I hate myself for ever thinking I could have feelings for that son of a bitch! For him to have willingly taken part in this, he's no longer even human in my mind anymore. He's just a vicious, cold-blooded monster, who needs to be put down, before he can unleash and spread his wickedness onto innocents like these villagers again in the future."
Sakura could only nod her head in silent agreement to what Ino had just declared, as she looked around her, before she quietly stated.
"I guess we never knew the real Sasuke at all. I mean the slaughter of his family by Itachi must have unhinged him more than anyone realized."
"Unhinged him, this goes way beyond unhinged Sakura, he's bat-shit crazy!"
"Actually my dear daughter, I believe the correct diagnosis for Sasuke would be that he's a Psychotic Sociopath." Keko Yamanaka proclaimed to the two young women, as she walked towards them.
"What's does that mean?"
"That means Sasuke is a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is amoral, antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks any sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. He also lacks the ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, is extremely egocentric, and he fails to learn from his experiences because of his inflated ego."
"Ok, so I was right, Sasuke is bat-shit crazy."
"Crudely stated, but accurate nonetheless." Keko answered, before she then said.
"Come on, we can't stand around here all day, let's see if we can find someone still alive."
"Do you think we will Keko-san?"
Keko softly replied in a morose tone of voice.
"I don't Sakura, but we still have to try."
As the three women resumed their grim task of checking the bodies around them, Kiba's shout punctuated the air.
"Commander Kakashi, Naruto, I think you two need to see this!"
Both Kakashi and Naruto glanced at one another, before they along with Shikamaru, Neji, Lee, and Gai moved towards the entrance of an alleyway where Kiba and Akamaru were standing. When they all arrived, Kakashi quickly asked.
"What is it Kiba, what did you find?"
"In, in there Commander, two women, both of them raped and killed." Kiba stammered in response.
"So why do we need to see them Kiba?" Naruto asked.
"Be, because of the messages that were left in blood beside them, they were addressed to both you and Commander Kakashi."
Both Naruto and Kakashi glanced warily at one another, before they entered the alleyway, followed by the others.
Inside the alley both women had been brutally raped and then killed. Someone had taken the time to display prominently their battered and naked bodies by imbedding them into the wall with kunai. However, the most disturbing thing was how similar their physical appearance was to two women all of the Leaf shinobi present knew, but none more so than Kakashi and Naruto.
"My Kami, they both look like Kurenai and Hinata!" Shikamaru openly exclaimed in shock.
Everyone else was silent as they stared at the two women and it sent a shiver down everyone's spine, as they tried not to imagine that it was Kurenai and Hinata that they were looking at. It took monumental effort on Kakashi and Naruto's part to remain in control, before they tore their gazes away to view the messages inked in blood on the stone wall by both of the women.
Kakashi viewed the message next to the brunette haired women and ground his teeth, as he felt his rage growing with every word he read.
Congratulations on your marriage to Kurenai. I must admit I am a bit peeved about it, as I had hoped to claim her for myself. I tried to work through my frustrations with this delectable little wench I found who bore a very striking resemblance to your bitch. However, in the end I found her a poor substitute, as she acquiesced too easily to me. I like to think that Kurenai would provide much more….. resistance shall we say, before finally succumbing to my unique charms. So I consider what I did to this whore nothing more than a trial run, practice if you will, for the experiences I plan on granting Kurenai in the future. So please do me a favor and pass on the message to your wife that I will be coming for her soon. Now I'm sure you're puffing out your chest and probably declaring in some machismo type rhetoric that I will only get to Kurenai over your dead body. Let me make one thing perfectly clear to you Kakashi, I have no problem with that scenario whatsoever. For the day I do come to claim your wife, is also the day she becomes a widow!
As Kakashi was reading the message left for him, Naruto was gazing at the message next to the mutilated young woman with indigo-colored hair.
Take a good look at this bitch laying before you, it's my wedding gift to you. Granted she's a little lacking in the chest in comparison to that big-titted Hyuga slut you married. But, I still wanted to provide a visual for you of my future plans for your new wife. However, to put your mind at ease, I don't plan killing her like I did this whore. No, Hinata is to be the catalyst to bear a race of Uchiha's who have both Byakugan and Sharingan abilities. Yes, she will be caged for the rest of her life like any other lab rat, which if we're being honest is all that she would be to me. It's of no matter, as I only tell you this, because the next time I see you I will kill you once and for all. I just wanted to let you know what your new wife's future holds for her and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. And to borrow your favorite idiotic shinobi nindo, I make that the promise of a lifetime to you dobe!
The killing intent within Naruto skyrocketed the further he read, causing everyone around him to grasp their chest, as they found it difficult to breathe and had to step away from the now enraged blonde Jounin, who was glaring at the message with murderous focus. Naruto's arms hung low at his sides and his hands were balled up into fists so tight, his knuckles were ghostly white in color and seemingly threatened to burst through his skin. Suddenly, Naruto roared in angered frustration and punched the brick wall destroying the message, while nearly bringing the entire wall down due to the tremendous force of the blow.
Everyone stood frozen, none of them knowing what to say or do at that moment, before Kakashi calmly asked Naruto.
"Do you feel better?"
Naruto exhaled a heavy sigh.
"No, I don't."
"And you won't until its Sasuke who is the recipient of your punch."
"Oh I plan to do a hell of a lot more than just punch that teme!" Naruto declared with unwavering certainty.
"I understand." Kakashi stated in agreement, before he quickly flashed through a string of hand seals and called out.
"Karyuu Endan no Jutsu!" (Fire Dragon Flame Projectile Technique)
The silver-haired Jounin then inhaled a deep breath, before exhaling and blowing a large jet of fire from his mouth and incinerated the message left by Kabuto.
Kakashi then turned and sternly said to the others around him.
"Kurenai is never to know about this message, understand!"
"And the same goes for Hinata!" Naruto quickly added, in a tone of voice that would brook no argument from anyone.
Shikamaru and the others silently nodded their heads in agreement, as they watched both Kakashi and Naruto kneel down and pick up the two murdered women and carry them out of the alleyway for a proper burial.
A few hours later, the entire Village of Usuki had been searched and any hopes Tsunade had harbored were dashed. When the harsh reality of what they had found was like a smack to the face...there were no survivors, except for those fortunate ones Kenji had saved. As Tsunade and Jiraiya watched Kakashi approach them, even with his mask covering his face, they could tell he had nothing but grim news to report.
"What say you Kakashi?" Tsunade hesitantly asked.
"The Medic-nin's found this note attached to Commander Mamoru's body, it's addressed to both you and Master-Jiraiya."
Kakashi then handed over the note, which Tsunade unfolded, as she and Jiraiya read the parchment in silence.
My dearest teammates,
I would like to say congratulations to you both on your wedding from my heart, but that would be a lie, as I have no heart. Nevertheless, I still wanted to give the two of you a wedding gift to celebrate your nuptials on this day. But I found myself at a loss, as to what to give to my rival and to the girl who had once pledged her love and heart to me so many years ago. How fickle love must be with Tsunade wouldn't you agree Jiraiya. However I digress, as I was still plagued with what I could give the two of you to truly express my feelings towards you both. Then an epiphany struck me in the form of the old wedding phrase "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." Although I decided to add my own personal little twist to that saying and instead of getting you something blue. I instead got you something in blood! I do hope that when you look back upon this joyous day of your lives, that you will always remember and appreciate my gift to you both.
With all the hate I hold for you,
Tsunade tore her gaze away from the note and saw that Kakashi was still standing before her and she asked through clenched teeth.
"What else Kakashi?"
"I'm sorry Hokage-sama, but I'm afraid we have the final tally of the villagers killed."
"471." Kakashi somberly answered.
"My God! That bastard slaughtered nearly 500 people for no other reason than hurt you and me Jiraiya-kun!" Tsunade uttered in anguished despair, as Jiraiya wrapped his arms around his wife to comfort her.
Kakashi waited a moment for the blonde Hokage to compose herself, before he continued on.
"We've also tracked the invading force and confirmed that they crossed the border back into the Rice country several hours ago. Unfortunately, because they had already crossed, we were unable to pursue them, as per the agreement the Fire Daimyou made with the Rice Daimyou after the Oto invasion a few years ago."
"Yes, we are still handcuffed by our esteemed leader's financial deal he cut with the Rice Daimyou to fill his coffers with plenty of ryo's, the bastard!" Tsunade spat with frustration and derision, before she then added.
"However, after this latest incursion and massacre of Fire country citizens. I don't think even that fool can ignore the Rice country's crimes against us out of greed any longer!"
"I hope you're correct Kage-Tsunade, but the one thing I have found that every single Daimyou of the Elemental nations has in common in their boundless capacity for greed and avaricious. I sometimes wonder why we as Kage's serve such men?" Gaara stoically asked, as he and the other Kage's approached.
"We serve them Kage-Gaara, because even though our leaders now are greedy fools who care about little but themselves. That was not the case in the past with the men who served as our respected Daimyou's. And who are we to decide that a political system that has successfully governed our respective lands for hundreds of years is to be eliminated because of the...shortcomings shall we say of our current leaders." Oonoki offered up in explanation.
"Bah, we are not here to discuss the fools we serve and why we do it! We have more pressing concerns to discuss like the Akatsuki to deal with!" Ei growled out in annoyance.
"I agree, the five of us do need to have a discussion regarding the Akatsuki threat, but not here. There are too many eyes and ears around us right now and any conversation we have needs to be private."
"I also agree with Kage-Mei, here is not the place to hold such talks." Gaara succinctly proclaimed.
"Then why did we even bother to come, if we're not going to talk about them?" Ei angrily asked.
"What are you complaining about you great ape? It was you who suggested we attend, because of Orochimaru being a former member of the Akatsuki, that it would provide to us a visual example of the depths these people would go to and the danger they possess to us all. Well congratulations, it worked! After seeing this atrocity, we do need to hold a Kage summit in the future to discuss our nation's course of actions with regards to the Akatsuki threat. But now is not the time and this is definitely not the place to hold those talks." Oonoki firmly answered to his fellow Kage.
The Raikage of Kumogakure looked around at all of the other Kage's, who nodded their heads in agreement with what Oonoki had just declared. Seeing he was outvoted, Ei exhaled a frustrated sigh, before he begrudgingly stated.
"Fine, we'll wait to talk, but we shouldn't wait too long about this!"
"And we won't Kage-Ei, I promise you that." Tsunade proclaimed.
A short time later, one of the villagers that Kenji had evacuated from the village had arrived by escort, a man by the name of Shinzo Abe who had run the only General Store within the Village of Usuki. Because of this, he knew virtually everyone in the village and now had the unenviable task of identifying the dead. It nearly broke everyone's heart from the highest Kage to the lowest ranked shinobi watching this man struggle to keep himself together, while he went from one body to another identifying those people who had once been his friends and loved ones. As the Tsunade and the other Kage's watched this, it was Ei who spoke up once more and offered.
"What has happened here is a terrible tragedy Kage-Tsunade. Perhaps I can speak to my Daimyou and loan you some of our shinobi to help you guard and shore up your border between the Fire country and the Rice country. I'm confident he would agree...for a nominal fee of course."
Tsunade stiffened after hearing this offer and thought bitterly to herself.
'Nominal fee my ass, the Daimyou of the Lightning village is every bit as greedy as our own! I've no doubt this nominal fee would be outrageous, not that it mattered. The only thing that surpasses the Daimyou's greed are their egos and pride. And no matter how badly we could use it, our own leader would never accept help from the Lightning country under any conditions and risk losing face with his fellow Daimyou's. No, this is still our country and Daimyou's problem, which means it's my problem to deal with.'
Then as if sent by Kami himself, Shikamaru who had been standing nearby, spoke up and declared politely for her. Saving the blonde Hokage from having to humble herself and decline the Raikage's offer.
"I'm sure our Hokage appreciates that offer Kage-Ei, but it is not necessary. The Fire Country and more specifically Konohagakure has the sufficient forces to monitor and protect our borders. What happened here is a tragedy, but it is a tragedy that I can assure you will never happen again."
The white-haired Raikage turned his attention to Shikamaru and glared down directly into the eyes of the young Leaf Jounin. Furious that this young man had the audacity to step in and speak for Tsunade. Shikamaru to his credit didn't flinch or move under the intense gaze and stared unblinking right back into the eyes of the Raikage. After a minute, it was Ei who shockingly broke eye contact first and gruffly stated with contempt.
"You have an impertinent shinobi under your command Kage-Tsunade if he feel he can speak upon your behalf without your permission! I would never allow such a brash and arrogant ninja under my command to commit such an act!"
"How you see fit to command your shinobi is your affair Kage-Ei! What you consider as impertinent, I consider forthright, as I had already tasked this officer in developing a viable solution to strengthening our borders. So if he says that your gracious offer to help is not necessary, then I have full confidence in his assessment of the situation. Thank you Mr. Nara, you may leave us now." Tsunade replied in a stern and commanding voice.
"Nara!" Ei exclaimed, before he then asked.
"Is this shinobi related to Shikaku Nara?"
"Why yes he is, allow me to present to you Leaf village Jounin Shikamaru Naru. First son and heir to Shikaku Nara of the Nara clan of Konoha."
The Raikage stiffened a bit, as he watched the young shinobi bow his head slightly to him, before turning and leaving per Tsunade's orders. Shikaku Nara was already famous as the Commander of Konoha's shinobi forces and as one of the most brilliant minds and strategist in all of the Elemental nations. Ei had also heard whispered rumors the past few years that Shikaku's son might be even more exceptional than his father. The Raikage's thoughts were interrupted when he heard Oonoki mockingly ask.
"Guess the kid isn't so brash and arrogant anymore now that you know who he is ehh Kage-Ei?"
The Raikage could only muster a glare at his fellow Kage.
Tsunade smirked a bit at Ei's discomfort, before she then announced to the other Kage's.
"I'll be leaving a contingent of shinobi here to finish processing the village. The rest of us can return to the Leaf village within the hour."
Tsunade then turned to the Tsuchikage of Iwagakure and politely asked.
"Do you wish to return to Konohagakure the same way we arrived here or will we travel by land on our return trip?"
"Yeah, are you strong enough to bring us back old man?" Ei added in a derisive voice.
Oonoki shot a fierce glare at the Raikage, before he turned to Tsunade and stated with confidence.
"I am fully capable and ready to return all of us to Konohagakure whenever you are ready Kage-Tsunade."
"I thank you Kage-Oonoki." Tsunade replied with a respectful bow of her head.
The next day, standing before Tsunade in her office were Shikaku and Shikamaru Nara, Jiraiya, Kakashi, and Naruto. These were the people Shikamaru had informed Tsunade during the return trip to the Leaf village he wanted present when he revealed his plan to shore up and increase the security and protection of their border with the Rice country. The blonde Hokage cleared her throat, before she then openly announced.
"Alright Shikamaru, the floor is yours. Please tell your idea on how we can beef up our security on the border to prevent what happened to the Village of Usuki from ever happening again."
Shikaku looked over at his son in peaked interest, as he had been called upon to solve this problem by Tsunade months earlier and had been unable to do so, not under the parameters she had given him. So he was quite curious to hear what solution his son had found, where he could not to the Hokage's request.
"I'm intrigued son, I was unable to come up with a viable answer to this problem. I find it most troublesome that you were able to devise a solution whereas I could not."
Naruto inwardly chuckled to himself, as he always did when hearing Shikaku utter what appeared to be the Nara clan mantra of the word troublesomethat his friend always used.
"Don't beat yourself about it Dad, under the restriction that was placed in coming up with an answer, it was an impossible problem to solve."
"But apparently not for you." Tsunade declared.
"What restriction do you speak of Shikamaru?" Kakashi inquired.
"To answer your question first Commander Kakashi, the restriction was that we could not increase the number of our forces patrolling the border. But to strengthen our security on the border with the Rice country, it's troublesome, but that's the only solution to the problem."
"You all have to understand, I've discussed this with Shikaku and he agrees that we are already stretched as far as we can go in terms of our shinobi forces out in the field, while still retaining enough to provide adequate security and protection for the Leaf village. We simply don't have any more manpower to draw upon." Tsunade offered up in defense.
"So we're right back to square one."
"Not necessarily Master-Jiraiya. Shikamaru declared, before he continued on.
"Under normal circumstances, this would be an impossible problem to solve, but we have an unusual circumstance that I believe is the answer."
"What unusual circumstance?"
"Funny you should ask that, because the unusual circumstance is you Naruto."
"M-me?" Naruto stammered in confusion.
"Please explain Shikamaru." Tsunade questioned in earnest.
"You were right Lady Tsunade, in the past we didn't have the manpower to sufficiently guard our borders and provide protection for Konoha, so one of the two had to suffer and in this case it's our border security. However, with Naruto's return to the Leaf village, I believe now we do and he is the answer to this problem."
"I'm only one man Shikamaru, how can I be the answer?"
"Oh Naruto, at times you are much more than just one man." Shikamaru stated in a strange veiled tone, which confused everyone. It was Shikaku who finally gleaned the hidden meaning of his son's statement and exclaimed.
"Of course, why didn't I think of it, you're talking about Naruto's Kage Bushin technique!"
"Exactly!" Shikamaru declared with a smirk.
Everyone present save for Shikamaru silently pondered what the Nara heir had just revealed and its ramifications. After a minute, Kakashi spoke up and voiced what he felt was a serious flaw in the young shinobi's answer.
"Alright, I understand that Naruto's Kage Bushin technique can be utilized to solve the manpower problem, but I think your solution is flawed Shikamaru.
"Why do you say that?"
"I say that, because while it's true Naruto can create more shadow clones than anyone else and maintain them for longer as well, even he has limitations. It's not as though he can create an army of them to strengthen our shinobi forces in the field and maintain them indefinitely to patrol and protect our borders."
"I'm afraid I have to agree with Kakashi." Tsunade remarked in a defeated tone.
Shikamaru looked around the room and saw everyone including his own father nodding their heads in agreement with the silver-haired Jounin, before he spoke up and replied.
"I to would agree with Commander Kakashi, if that was how I want to use Naruto out in the field."
"I don't understand?" Tsunade questioned in confusion.
"Troublesome, what Commander Kakashi just stated is absolutely correct. For as amazing as Naruto's Kage Bushin jutsu is, he can't create an army of them and maintain them forever to solve this problem. However, that doesn't mean his technique can't be used to still solve this dilemma."
"What exactly are you proposing son?"
"Just this, we need to increase the number of manned checkpoints all along the border with the Rice country. And while it's true Naruto can't maintain hundreds of shadow clones for an extended period of time, he can maintain say a couple of dozen or more. So in addition to the guarded checkpoints we already have established. What I propose is that we create and add to the areas along our border where we are weakness, additional two-man posts manned by two of Naruto's clones. That will increase our coverage area substantially and it should prevent if not eliminate completely any Otogakure shinobi forces from being able to sneak across our border without our knowledge and attacking like they were able to do at the Village of Usuki."
Once again, Tsunade and the other elder shinobi in the room contemplated what Shikamaru had just suggested. However, it was Naruto who brought up first what everyone else was thinking in some form.
"I don't get it Shikamaru, even if we do set up these extra guard posts using my shadow clones. It's not like those clones could have stopped what happened to the Village of Usuki if Orochimaru attacked with the size of the force he did. They just would have wiped out my clones first when they were discovered, before moving onto the village."
"That's true Naruto, but that's where your second amazing talent would come into play for this to work."
"What second amazing talent?"
"Your use of your father's legendary technique, the Hiraishin no Jutsu."
"The Flying Thunder God technique! How is that going to help?" Tsunade asked in bewilderment.
"I think I know, that's why you were asking us if Naruto had any limitations with the technique and then performed that little experiment with it on the way out to the Village of Usuki." Kakashi offered up in reply.
"Well damn it will one of you two start explaining!" Tsunade growled out in frustration at both Shikamaru and Kakashi.
"It's your plan Shikamaru, you do the honors."
"What a drag, I was hoping you would." The Nara heir grumbled in annoyance, before he exhaled a deep breath and spoke.
"The plan is actually quite simple Lady Tsunade. Using the two-man squads of Naruto's shadow clones. We set them up in a series of additional outposts along the border with the Rice country where we're the weakess. We should also have a couple of Naruto's clones posted at all of the existing security checkpoints and outposts we already have in place. Then if Otogakure sends another strike force to raid our country once again, they'll be discovered. At which point, one of the clones will disperse itself, immediately alerting Naruto as to when and where the incursion is happening. Naruto can then utilize the Hiraishin no Jutsu and gather up sufficient forces from the other security outposts to meet the threat, before then transporting everyone to where the attack is taking place. "
"And then we kick the shit out of those temes and send them scurrying back to Otogakure as fast as they can run! I like it Shikamaru!" Naruto exclaimed in excitement.
"Slow down kid, yeah it seems simple enough, but what are the drawbacks to this plan, because I'm sure there are some."
"It's troublesome Master-Jiraiya but you're correct." There are three main concerns about this plan that I have. My first concern is finding the optimal number of people that Naruto can transport with the Flying Thunder God technique at one time. I know from the experiment I ran when we were traveling to the Village of Usuki that he can move at least 10 people in one jump. But I would like to run some more experiments to find that optimal number he can manage to transport without leaving him wiped out afterwards." Shikamaru answered.
"Alright, that makes sense, what are your other concerns?"
"Well, another concern I have Lady Tsunade is to find out if there is a distance limit to how far Naruto can use the Hiraishin no Jutsu. I couldn't really test that like I did with the number of people factor. So, if there is a limitation, then we're going to have to post Naruto in a location where he can cover the maximum number of outposts. However, I believe we can work through these two concerns I have without too much difficulty. It's my final concern that has me worried and is most troublesome to me."
"What's got you worried Shikamaru?" Naruto asked curiosity.
"It's your chakra capacity Naruto to not only maintain these shadow clones for a great deal of time, but also over a great distance." Shikaku announced to everyone.
"Exactly Dad." Shikamaru proclaimed in confirmation.
"Hmm, that is indeed a serious problem. I know Naruto's chakra capacity is exceptionally high, but we're talking about a lot of miles along the border between the Fire and Rice countries that his clones would be stationed along. Tsunade openly lamented in doubt about the success of this plan.
"I can do it." Naruto quietly declared.
"Naruto, I can appreciate that you want to do this, but this might simply be too much even for you to accomplish."
"I can do it baa-chan, I'll just have to tap into Kurama's chakra, that's all."
"What? Who is Kurama?"
"Umm, well Kurama is the true name of the Kyuubi no Youko."
"The Kyuubi no Youko! What the hell are you talking about?" Tsunade shouted, while leaping up from her chair.
"Take it easy baa-chan, things have...changed between me and Kurama."
"Well yes I'd say so if you're on a first name basis with the bastard!"
'Kit, you had best tell that bitch to curb her tongue when talking about me! I don't care if she is related to you, I will not have her refer to me in such a disrespectful manner!' Kurama voiced with disapproval within Naruto's mind.
Tsunade swung around and directed her wrath at her husband and Kakashi and angrily asked them.
"Did the two of you know about this and if so, why am I only finding out about it now?"
"Master-Jiraiya didn't know, but I did Lady Tsunade. But I only found out about it recently. Naruto wanted to talk to you about this himself and I promised to honor his wish." Kakashi contritely answered, while holding his palms in front of him in mock defense.
Tsunade then turned back to Naruto, and spat out in fury.
Naruto exhaled a heavy sigh, before he spoke in a surprisingly calm tone.
"Ok, first off, like I said I've reached an...…..understanding with the Nine-Tails. He's actually not a bad guy once you get to know him."
"Oh not a bad guy, noooooo of course not! He's just the son of a bitch who murdered your parents and hundreds of other Leaf villagers during his rampage!" Tsunade growled out in disdain and sarcasm.
"KIT!" Kurama shouted in angered warning within Naruto's mind.
"Take it easy baa-chan and watch what you say, Kurama doesn't like how you're referring to him.
"I don't give a damn what he likes and further more…."
Naruto held up his hand to stop Tsunade midsentence, before he then stated.
"Please, just remain quiet and listen to what I have to say. When I'm done, then you can ask me anything you want."
Tsunade fumed for a minute, but finally nodded begrudgingly in agreement before Naruto exhaled a weary sigh and then began to explain.
Now, while it's true that Kurama did attack and nearly decimate the Leaf village all those years ago, but it wasn't his fault. He was being controlled by a human being. A human being by the way who had red eyes with strange black tomoe's within the pupils."
"An Uchiha!" Tsunade gasped in surprise.
"Exactly baa-chan, an Uchiha. And it was an Uchiha who was so powerful he was actually able to take control of Kurama and sent him to attack the Leaf village."
"Who could be that powerful?" Tsunade openly asked with confusion.
"The only Uchiha I know of who was that strong and could have pulled that off would be Madara Uchiha, but I don't see how? He would have been well over 100 years old at the time of the attack." Jiraiya answered.
"Baa-chan, I thought you agreed to let me finish first before you started in with questions."
The blonde Hokage bowed her head slightly in contrition and waved her hand for Naruto continue on.
"So anyway, Kurama never had any wont or desire to attack the Leaf village back then, but we'll address that later. Now, we were talking about my chakra capacity being big enough to handle all those clones over an extended period of time. And I said I can do it, by tapping into Kurama's chakra and using it instead of my own."
Tsunade was about to interrupt and speak once more, before she remembered her promise and closed her mouth. However, Naruto guessed what she was about to say and answered.
"I know what you're going to say and you'd be right. In the past when I've tried to use the Nine-Tails Chakra Mode it was initially marked by limitations due to the Nine-Tails refusing to cooperate with me. This prevented me from using one of the bijuu's most powerful weapons, the Tailed Beast Balls. Also, because I would essentially "shelve" my own chakra in this form and instead draw upon the Nine-Tails', the early uses of doing that came with a risk that the Nine-Tails would take that shelved chakra for himself, which would ultimately result in my death. Because of that, I had to be careful of how long I used the form for and how many shadow clones I created, as doing too many only increased the risk. However, once Kurama and I reached an understanding between us, he eventually stopped trying to take my chakra and soon after started cooperating, removing these limitations we once had."
Naruto saw that Tsunade bore a very confused look upon her face and continued on.
"Now once Kurama and I started cooperating and working together, our hearts synchronized and I was able to enter what I like to call the Kurama Mode. The Kurama Mode is basically a completed version of the Nine-Tails Chakra Mode. My pupils becomes slitted, and the whisker-like markings on my face become thicker to resemble the trigram, and the chakra shroud's shape alters to resemble a full-length haori, similar to the one Dad usually wore. What's cool about the Kurama Mode is like I said it's a completed version of Nine-Tails Chakra Mode: Tailed Beast Mode without the full transformation, meaning that I'm able to use Tailed Beast Balls now. Also I can partially manifest parts of Kurama's body if needed, such as his head and tails."
Naruto took another deep breath and exhaled, before he excitedly carried on.
"What's also really cool about me and Kurama working together now is that I'm able to transfer my own and Kurama's chakra to others, granting them chakra shrouds that greatly enhance their own techniques."
"I can vouch for what Naruto just stated." Kakashi spoke up interrupting Naruto.
"How so?" The blonde Hokage questioned.
"Well, when I found out about their new relationship, we tried that feature out on my Mangekyo Sharingan technique the Kamui and the power and the volume of the transferred chakra improved that technique at least three-fold."
"What is the Kamui technique, I've never heard of it before?"
"Troublesome, people were getting off track here again. We still haven't let Naruto finish explaining how he is going to be able to maintain all those shadow clones?" Shikamaru grumbled out in annoyance.
"He's right Lady Tsunade, I'll explain the technique to you later, please continue on Naruto.
"Ok, now where was I,…..oh yeah I was talking about how cool the Kurama Mode is, but it's not even the best mode I can achieve!" Naruto declared with a big grin on his face, before he continued on.
"I can also combine my Kurama Mode with my Sage Mode and to further enhance my abilities with the power of senjutsu that I learned from the toads. And when I combine the two modes together, I can absorb natural energy more quickly than usual while in Kurama Mode."
"That all sounds great Naruto, but what does it all mean?" Tsunade asked in desperation, unable to remain silent any longer.
"What it means baa-chan, is that I shouldn't have any problems maintaining my clones or the distance I have to spread them out to protect the border. Not with the amount of chakra I'll have and the various modes of chakra I can use it. So, I guess all we need to do is find out about Shikamaru's first two concerns. And that's figuring out how many people I can transport at once and how far I can do it." Naruto brimming with confidence declared in his ending summation.
Everyone remained quiet and contemplated all they had just heard. Finally, Tsunade spoke up and ordered.
"Shikamaru, I want you to set up a series of tests for Naruto to answer your questions and calculate about how many shinobi he can transport safely and effectively per jump and the distance using the Flying Thunder God technique."
"Hai Lady Tsunade." Shikamaru snapped in reply.
After this, the blonde Hokage turned her attention back to Naruto and said.
"Naruto I just have two questions for you, essentially everything you just informed us that you can do now is because you and...Kurama have reached an understanding as you put it with one another and are now working together."
"Hai, that's about it."
"Well then my questions are when and why?"
"I, I, don't understand?" Naruto stammered in puzzlement.
"I mean when did this happen, when did you and Kurama reach this understanding?"
"Ummm, it was shortly after you and pervy-sage told me you were my grandparents. As you recall, Kurama kind of ...influenced my reaction to that news with the two of you. Well, that pissed me off that he did that, so I went into my mind-scape to have a few choice words with him. And once we stopped yelling at each other and stopped talking to one another as enemies or adversaries. We were able to...I don't know, we sort of became like...friends."
Hearing this stunned Tsunade for a moment, as she sat silently in her chair and attempted to come to grips with what she had just heard, before she then asked.
"Alright, that tells me the when, now tell me the why? Why is the Kyuubi no Youko now willing to help and work with you? What did you say or do during that conversation to make him agree to that?"
Naruto paused a moment to formulate his answer, before he exhaled a deep breath and said.
"I honestly didn't have to do a whole lot, in fact the only thing I did was to learn the Nine-Tails' true name – Kurama."
"Oh come on, there has to be more to it than that." Tsunade exclaimed with skepticism.
"Not really baa-chan, Kurama was really appreciative that I wanted to learn and know his true name. And that I was treating him like, well...sort of like a person and not an evil demon. Apparently, I'm the first Jinchuuriki who has ever tried to do that with him. And once we got to talking and started sharing aspects of our lives with one another. Well, it may sound corny to you, but over time it's like our hearts synchronized and that's when we discovered the two of us...together could achieve the Kurama Mode I just told you about."
The blonde Hokage was visibly stunned upon hearing Naruto's explanation and slumped back wearily into her chair, before she then asked.
"And that's all it took, there was nothing else?"
"I suppose there is one other thing."
"What was that?"
"Remember that I told you it was an Uchiha who took control of Kurama and sent him to attack the Leaf village. Well let's just say he's holding grudge about that, and he doesn't like that someone took control of him. So he pretty much hates anyone and anything about the Uchiha, so he made a pact with me."
"Hai, he knows I've got my own personal score to settle with a certain emo asshole of an Uchiha and Kurama has offered to help me take down Sasuke once and for all. And I've agreed that if we run into that bastard Uchiha who took control of Kurama all those years ago, that I would help to take him down as well."
A pall of silence fell over the room, as everyone present save for Naruto pondered deeply the ramifications of Naruto and the Kyuubi no Youko now working together and what that could mean in the future. After a minute, Tsunade cleared her throat and then ordered with authority.
"Shikamaru, you and Naruto get started with those tests. Kakashi, I'm going to assign you as Commander of the shinobi forces rotating back to the front lines in two weeks. But I want to strengthen those forces with Naruto and some additional shinobi. You and Shikaku get together and figure out who those shinobi need to be, but remember we're already stretched thin on manpower, so take that into account when making your selections. Jiraiya-kun, you stay here, I want to talk to you in private."
"Hai Hokage-sama!" Everyone said in unison, before Shikaku, Shikamaru, Kakashi, and Naruto exited the office, leaving only Tsunade and Jiraiya present.
"What is it you wish to speak to me about my love?" Jiraiya asked, as he sat beside his wife and took her hand and tenderly placed a kiss upon it.
"It's about Naruto, what I've just heard is well...astonishing. Just how powerful has he become Jiraiya-kun?"
"That's hard to say, if you're asking has he become some sort of Shinobi-God, the answer is no. I'm sure you realize that because of Naruto's lineage and with time, he would become one of the most powerful ninja in all the Elemental nations, and that's without using the Kyuubi's power. Now with the Nine-Tails augmenting Naruto's already considerable chakra with his own. Well once Naruto gains some more battlefield experiences, I've no doubt that eventually he will surpass any and all shinobi that are alive today. In fact, it won't surprise me in the least if one day he is considered one of the most powerful shinobi to have ever lived." Jiraiya answered with a little pride etched in his voice.
Tsunade could only shake her head in shock and disbelief, before she then heard her husband say in a more ominous tone of voice.
"And I thank Kami for that, because I fear we are going to need all that power from Naruto to battle the eminent threat we are facing in the future."
"You mean Orochimaru."
"No my love not Orochimaru. I didn't say anything before, but I do agree with the Raikage about the danger that the Akatsuki pose to us all. I don't know what they have planned, but I am fearful that whatever it is will make anything our former teammate does, pale in comparison to what they have in store not only for us, but the entire world."
Both Sannin sat in silence and squeezed each other's hand a bit tighter, as they reflected with dread what the future might hold for all.
Upon his return to Otogakure with Orochimaru and Kabuto after their attack on the Fire nation Village of Usuki, Sasuke was still giddy with young Uchiha had been able to try out many new and inventive ways and jutsu's to use to kill many of the villagers. Sasuke was also hopeful that the message to his former dobe of a teammate he left behind had viciously struck a chord within Naruto and caused him nothing but pain and anguish. In fact the entire massacre of the village that Sasuke had eagerly participated in had been an orgy of violence, rape, and blood and he had loved every minute of it. So much so, that still flushed with the euphoric feeling he had gained from the bloodbath, he pleaded with his master.
"Orochimaru-sama, please allow me to take another Oto strike force into the Fire country and lay waste to yet another one of their pathetic villages."
"Why Sssssssssasuke-kun, you ssssssssseem to be eager to strike another blow against our former homeland. Is not the ssssssssslaughter of...how many villagers' wasssssssss the final tally Kabuto?" Orochimaru hissed in query.
"471 villagers my lord, it does appear that perhaps a small contingent of villagers did escape via the south entrance to the village. As we found the Cursed-Seal beast we assigned to guard that exit dead. My apologies my lord, I don't know how that could have happened. We destroyed the body per your past orders."
"Very good, and there is no need to apologize, it'ssssssss not your fault. Besides, 471 dead souls still makes an excellent wedding day gift to my former teammates."
"Orochimaru-sama, will you allow me to attack another Fire country village?" Sasuke whined in request.
"Ahhh Sssssssasuke-kun, is 471 deaths not enough to quench your thirst for more blood?"
"It's not that my master, I just feel that we should strike another blow as quickly as possible. What we did in laying waste to the Village of Usuki had to have driven the morale down of Konoha. If we follow it up with another example of what we can do to them anytime we wish. It will drive Tsunade and everyone else in the Leaf village further into despair." Sasuke argued for his case.
"What do you think Kabuto?" The Snake Sannin queried to his first protégé.
"I agree with Sasuke my lord."
Needless to say Sasuke was quite surprised to hear this response, as he and Kabuto had what one could call an adversarial relationship with one another in vying for Orochimaru's attention and or favor. However, the young Uchiha was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth and listened intently, as his bespectacled rival continued on.
"I also believe that another attack would weaken the resolve and morale of Konoha even further than what it is now. Which can only help us in the future my lord, when you choose to strike back at them again directly."
"Besides, there would be little if any risk to our forces. We could have taken a strike force twice the size of the one we did to attack the Village of Usuki and still gotten across the border undetected. The security Konoha has along the boundary with the Rice country is a joke!" Sasuke smugly stated with arrogance.
"Tsk, tsk, Sssssssasuke-kun, so short-sighted, it is not a lack of talent or skill of Konoha's shinobi that leaves their border security weakened, but simply one of numbers."
"I don't understand?"
"Do you know why Konohagakure is considered one of the most powerful of all the shinobi villages in the Elemental nations?"
"No, I never did understand that, all the other shinobi villages have the leaf outmanned in shinobi numbers except Suna." Sasuke replied in wonderment.
"Numbers are not what makes a shinobi village powerful, it's the talent and sssssssskill of the ninja that village produces, that is what makes it powerful. And the shinobi the Village Hidden in the Leaves produces are….extraordinary. Even you would have to agree with that, considering we three are prime examples of the extraordinary shinobi the leaf creates."
"Your assessment is correct my lord. Konoha has always preferred quality over quantity when it comes to their shinobi forces. I mean look at the four Leaf shinobi our forces faced at the Village of Usuki. They killed 20 of our own shinobi, before Sasuke and I were forced to step in and handle the problem." Kabuto acknowledged with respect.
"That's true." Sasuke openly remarked in agreement, before Kabuto then stated.
"However, in this particular situation, quantity over quality would serve Konoha better in securing their border with the Rice country. Because they don't have the sufficient numbers to guard the border as fully as they should, it leaves them at a disadvantage."
"Exactly, and unless Konoha can suddenly produce more ninja out of thin air. We should have no problem exploiting the gaps in their security along the border and launch another assault to raze yet another one of their worthless village's." Sasuke proclaimed with excitement.
The Snake Sannin, brow furled as he pondered deeply Sasuke's request. After a minute, he finally looked up and announced.
"Very well, since you sssssssseem to have your heart set on this, I will allow it."
"Thank you sensei, when may I launch the attack." Sasuke gratefully questioned.
"Patience Sssssssasuke-kun, allow what we have done to the Village of Usuki to smolder within the hearts and minds of Konoha for a bit. Once we have done that, then you may attack!"
"How long must we wait?"
"You may launch your assault in six months, that should be ssssssssuficient time for the sorrow and despair of what we did to gnaw away at Tsunade's and the others minds and ssssssouls. As that memory of what we did in Usuki festers, it will be that much sweeter to add upon their misery after you destroy yet another of their precioussssss village's." Orochimaru declared in amusement.
Sasuke grinned wickedly, as he could hardly wait for the six months to go by. His mind already coming up with new ways to rape, torture, and kill more people. The only thing that greatly annoyed the young Uchiha, was the fact that he wished Naruto could be there to see it."
Author Note: Oh Sasuke, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Yes, a reunion will be taking place between the two former teammates. Who haven't seen each other since their battle at the Valley of the End. I promise you, it will be an epic reunion, but certainly not one that Sasuke will be expecting or like for that matter, lol. I've spent much of my recent days and nights finishing this chapter to post for all of you, per my promise of a few days ago and I am tired. However, all of you have waited patiently long enough for a new chapter which I appreciate greatly. So please don't burn me if I've got some stupid grammar and spelling errors, as I didn't get a chance to proof the chapter as much as I would have liked to because of time.
I do wish to thank everyone both old and new readers who took the time to review my last chapter. For those of you who did review, you all had a lot to say about it and I'm pleased that this story has such a strong fan base with readers who actually write out well thought-out reviews. Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed this chapter and I look forward to hearing what all of you have to say about it. I enjoy reading many of your reviews, so please leave lots of them, as they do help a writer get a sense of the thoughts and opinions of the fans of a story. They also can help lift the spirits of an author as well. Also, to any readers who are staff members to any C2 communities, please feel free to add my story to your community if you feel it is worthy of it. I won't mind, I swear. I'll even pinkie swear if I need to?
I'd like to give a birthday shout-out to myself, lol. I hope you all enjoyed the chapter as my gift to you.
I've inserted into this chapter a couple of subtle homage's. I think they're both pretty easy to figure out, especially this first one. The character of Roshi was gleaned from what I consider one of the top 10 all-time manga/anime ever created. The second one is a bit harder as the description of the Cursed-Seal beast that Kenji fought is based off of a very famous movie franchise monster. Guess the manga for Roshi and the movie monster and you'll get all cyber-pizza, beer, or soda you can eat and drink. Once again, all I ask is please don't leave a review with just your answer, but also say something about the chapter or the story in general.
Now since the Naruto series ended, my rants on the manga ended as well. However, the new Baruto manga has started up plus there is also theNaruto Gaiden and the special manga that was released with opening of the (Baruto: Naruto the Movie). So I will be renewing my rants in my future chapters. My first rants will be on the special manga, which was titled
"The Day Naruto Became Hokage Special – Manga"
So without further ado, here we go!
Ok, so with my first reading of this manga, I initially thought this was a fun and enjoyable read after I was done. And for the most part I still feel that way. However, after I reread it a second time I realized that Kishimoto screwed over Naruto in epic fashion in this manga.
First off, let me focus on a couple of the positives.
Number one on that has to be Hinata. She is portrayed like the most amazing wife and mother a person could have. Now, that might turn some people off, but I enjoyed it and think she deserves to be portrayed that way.
Number two, Boruto and Himawari are awesome as Naruto and Hinata's kids. Boruto is chip off the old Naruto block and Himawari is cute as hell.
Now let me focus on the biggest negative.
The main focus or subject of this manga is centered on Naruto finally attaining his lifelong dream and being inaugurated as the Seventh Hokage.
However, as is Kishimoto's style Naruto actually didn't get to experience that. Oh Naruto still became the Seventh Hokage, but he was denied the experience and the joy of being inaugurated in front of everyone. I won't spoil what exactly happened as to why he didn't get to experience that. If you want to check it out, just Google the title of the manga. But isn't it just so typical of Kishimoto to deny Naruto his most deserved joy of being inaugurated in front of all his family, friends, and loved ones. I guarantee if it had been Sasuke, Kishi certainly wouldn't have screwed the Uchiha out of the experience like he did Naruto.
Take care everyone and be good!
Definition: a strong or exaggerated sense of manliness; an assumptive attitude that virility, courage, strength, and entitlement to dominate are attributes or concomitants of masculinity.
Etymology: Spanish (Macho) to Americanism 1945-1950a.d.
Part of Speech: Noun