*sigh* I grow ever more tired of this. The amount of flaws in this story pain me and I'm really beginning to wish I was able to plan stories out before I write them, but alas I'll struggle on as best I can, however I can't hide my pleasure that the story passed the 400 review mark. :D. Seriously though this story will end soon. Please don't leave hateful comments if the end seems a little rushed. Only a few chapters left.

Chapter 33:

Danzo folded his hands as he looked through the reports of the ANBU captains. "You have proved yourself again Lord Hokage. The casualty reports are very impressive. I think I speak for the rest of the council when I say less than twenty death's for Konoha is an astounding figure after such a battle. What may I ask were the enemies losses?"

Minato cringed at Danzo's praise for within it lay the subtle but obvious reality that Danzo knew Minato could not stand; eighteen Konoha ninja had fallen in battle and their names would be engraved on the Memorial for fallen soldiers. Eighteen subordinates Minato had been unable to protect.

"The enemies suffered losses ranging from 250 to 300 dead and around 50 captured. A handful fled the battle and elite teams 1 and 2 are in pursuit. The success must be in part attributed to Naruto's abilities. His deep chakra reserves have proved most useful to the village."

A council member nodded. "You must be very proud to have fathered such a ninja. However, Minato, considering the boy's value to the village using him in such a way is extremely dangerous. You must not forget who your son is and what he contains."

Minato's face flushed. "I apologize I had not intended him to fight but after the assassination attempt I was given little choice."

"You always have a choice, Naruto is worth more than a handful of ninja's lives, you know that." Danzo said.

Minato could not help but scowl at Danzo's provocation. It was unclear Danzo's intentions but Minato understood that his focus had something to do with Naruto and decided to force Danzo to address his concern once and for all.

"Danzo I'm unclear as to what you would have me do with Naruto. He has worked in ANBU for over two years and like any other ninja in the village he operates under orders with concern for his fellow ninja. How would you go about telling him to put his life above those around him above the lives of his friends?" Minato asked fiercely.

As Danzo smiled Minato realized he had fallen into the old man's trap.

"Does Naruto know what he is?"

The council members all took note of the fear in Minato's eyes and did not need to hear the answer Minato would give them. Still Danzo asked the question again when Minato did not answer just to enjoy the humiliation of the man that had taken his seat as Hokage years before.

"Naruto is unaware that he is the possessor of the Kyuubi and I would keep him unaware until his eighteenth birthday."

"Foolishness!" Danzo cried with sincere anguish. "Why do you continue to keep such information from him? It is necessary that he learns to harness the demon's powers as the jinjuriki in other villages have. Why have you not told him?" Danzo demanded.

How many times have you practiced this speech, Danzo? Minato wondered, clenching his fists. "I have my reasons and I'm sure you can figure them out. Now if you'll excuse me I have to speak with Jiraiya about reorganizing ANBU squads on accounts of death and lasting injuries." Minato turned and left disregarding the demands of the council for him to wait.

Danzo frowned wearily. He had won the engagement but Minato had cut his losses by retreating and Danzo could not increase his advantage. His face twitched in annoyance and he left the council as well. For many years he had battled with Minato in scuffles such as this one. These small battles Danzo engaged in to remind the Hokage that he was there and that he was still bitter over losing his chance of becoming Hokage. Still the arguments over Naruto did hold significant importance and bitterness did not come into play when Danzo asked why Naruto still had not been told that he was the container of the Kyuubi.

The boy had become powerful, Danzo could admit that but he saw that the boy's potential had not yet been reached and he craved to see this weapon of Konoha develop. Had Minato died that fateful day when the beast was placed in Naruto perhaps he would have become Hokage or at least moved into a position of greater power, however, Minato did not sacrifice himself. Danzo was forced to protect the village his way focusing his efforts on Root his own division of ANBU. While Root had been extremely successful in the past years keeping at bay the many hidden threats to the village the organization had very little success at fighting Akatsuki and this worried Danzo.

Danzo had with increased effort in recent months attempted to gain more information on the groups goals and members and had discovered nothing. All Danzo was aware of was the groups desire for the power of the tailed beasts which in turn meant a desire for Naruto. This knowledge was the true stem of Danzo's frustration. For in the old man's eyes if Naruto could not harness the power of the Kyuubi and learn to control it he would be no match for the Akatsuki members sent to capture him. As if that wasn't enough there was also the possibility of Naruto losing control to the Kyuubi if the boy ever used up all his chakra.

With these worries on his mind Danzo exited the building receiving respectful bows from many passersby on the street. What the old man lacked in actual power he more than made up for with influence and fame even if all he could use were these two things he would make Minato listen to reason.

Although Jiraiya had originally meant to confront Kabuto with Asuma alone Shikamaru had joined them at Asuma's request. The three ninja representing three generations of Konoha ninja had set out to confront Kabuto and locate Naruto not fifteen minutes after Jiraiya had been originally asked. Now the group had all ready left the walls of Konoha and were searching for the white haired villain who was tormenting Konoha as his predecessor Orochimaru had.

"Was it wise to go as a three man group?" Shikamaru asked breaking the serious silence that had developed since their departure?"

"What do you not have faith in my abilities?" Jiraiya replied good naturedly sensing Shikamaru's unease. "I'm not one of the great sanin for nothing you know."

Asuma had known Shikamaru long enough to know that the genius was not troubled without good reason. "Why are you worried Shikamaru?"

Most people can't understand the mind of a genius. How it works so efficiently how its able to pick up on the little things. Shikamaru's genius was derived from his ability to see the relationships of things on a much deeper level than most people. In shogi he was able to see how things would develop because he understood the relationship of the pieces and their coresponding moves. Now using that understanding of relationships and the little he knew of Kabuto he feared that they were trying to find something more than they could handle.

"I'm not sure Asuma. I just think we ought to proceed with caution."

Asuma nodded to Jiraiya to heed the teenagers advice and while the sannin grunted with hurt pride he made note to keep alert.

Shikamaru's words could not have been more essential to the survival of their group for if Jiraiya had not picked up on the barely detectable chakra signature that a lazy enemy failed to hide completely he would not have dodged the sythe that attempted to lodge itself in his torso.

"Jiraiya!" Asuma cried out as if only to make the sannin aware he was there.

Out of the thick foliage and on to the dirt clearing appeared two men. Both tall and muscular one had silver hair that was slicked back-the wielder of the scythe- and the other wore a white hood and a black mask. The wore the the uniform akatsuiki black robes embroidered with red clouds.

Tsunade found Minato hunched over his desk reading intel that was piling up on his desk thanks to Ibiki's thorough work in the interrogation department.

The old woman stood in the doorway for a moment both to watch the handsome Hokage so lost in his work and to give him a chance to recognize her. Her admiration for her teamate's student vanished when she realized he was so caught up in his work he was not going to recognize her. Had she not known him so long or had she treated him so much she might have made her interruption more polite, however, because he reminded her so much of her teammate she was not quite as courteous as she might have been.

"How long do I have to stand in the doorway before you ask me in brat?"

Minato looked up startled and smiled. "My apologies Tsunade. Please come in."

Tsunade smiled as she entered shutting the door behind her. "That's better. Now let me have a look at you. You were nearly dead one moment and the next you were on the battlefield. You're much crazier than Naruto you know at least he wouldn't do something as foolish as that."

As much as Minato wanted to refute Tsunades statement he could tell by a tiny pause in her movements that she realized her mistake. He removed his shirt and after she looked him over he pulled it back on in a boyish fashion that made Tsunade shake her head.

"You're fine. What I want to know is why they let someone like you take over as Hokage."

Minato grinned, despite being in his thirties he still possessed the youthful glow he had when he became Hokage. The wrinkles and weariness so many other Kages acquired had escaped him and it was more likely for Jiraiya to become a gentlemen than for anyone to figure out he did it.

"I guess I got lucky."

"Hmph" Tsunade snorted. "Who would call becoming Hokage lucky? If anything its a pain in the ass. Now I guess I'll leave you to your work. Do your reports there talk about anyone who needs my attention?"

"No I think we're okay. Actually wait," Minato flipped to a folder he had pushed aside. "Ibiki was wondering if Ino was with you. He requested her help in the interrogation department because they're a bit overloaded but he couldn't find her anywhere."

Tsunade frowned. "I haven't seen her but I'll ask if any of the medics have."

"I've already asked them."

It dawned on them both that Ino was not a quiet person and her sudden disappearance was not something to take lightly. Minato began to tap his desk lightly. "I think I'll send out an alert asking for her presence."

Tsunade nodded. An alert was posted when certain ninja were requested by the Hokage or the council to appear before them when their particular talents or skills were needed. An alert could send fear into ninjas heart because the ninja called was one of the few if not the only person capable of neutralizing the threat. The last thing Minato needed right now was to send fear into the ninja squads but it didn't look like he had another option.

"Tsunade I'm going to wait twenty minutes. If we can't find her by then I'll send out the order. Will you see if any of the medics are withholding information?"

Tsunade nodded and exited Minato's office knowing that the alert would have to be issued.

Naruto was drained of his energy, his spirit abject, his logic blurred. You would suppose that Naruto's emotions were splinting his reasoning or that at the moment he was desperately looking for an answer, but that was not at all the case. He had for his two and a half years in ANBU locked away his emotions and now after only a few months of having slowly released them he was in no state to deal with the fear and doubt that racked his conscious.

A beast was within him. It had always been in him since he was born. This monster was part of him he looked back now and realized if only painfully that his father had always seemed distant when discussing with him their differences. His father's kind and shining face smiling sadly on him burned into the framework of Naruto's understanding of his father. Doubt was hunting down memories that showed his father disappointment. Their was a part of his father Naruto had never been able to understand and now he thought he held the key.

Shock is a lethal thing. The split second difference between reacting calmly to an enemies ambush or reacting with shocked hesitation in the ninja world was the difference between life and death. In Naruto's mind the shock had produced hesitation and the Kyuubi ended Naruto's control with the swift precision of a determined ambusher.

The Kyuubi's chakra engulfed Naruto and Naruto clung to the dark warmth fiercely. The beast was emerging after 17 years of slumber.

Shikamaru and Asuma watched as Jiraiya and the Akatsuki member, Kakuzu, dissapeared into the trees. Their initial encounter had involved a quick but violent exchanged that left Asuma and Shikamaru panting and Jiraiya holding Hidan's right arm like a trophy. As shocking as it was for Shikamaru to witness Jiraiya as a powerful ninja it was even more surprising when Hidan and Kakuzu fought to steal the arm back and easily reattach it as if they were sewing a button onto a jacket.

For a minute the metallic shriek of kunai on the scythes blade stung Shikamaru's ears. Asuma didn't move with as much grace as his opponent but even so his motions were efficient and he was strong. Every blow exchanged between the two sent them sprawling back to collect themselves. While Asuma staved off attacks Shikamaru struggled to catch Hidan in his shadow, but Hidan dodged his attempts easily and Shikamaru soon discovered that no attack pattern or strategy could overcome the pronounced speed and agility his enemy possessed.

"Asuma, we're going to need some help." Shikamaru spoke solemnly realizing the odds of victory were remote at best.

Asuma flipped over the the scythe and dodged the first two blades but was gently clipped by the third drawing a small amount of blood.

"I realize that Shikamaru. Right now we're just holding out for Jiraiya."

A maniacal laugh interrupted Asuma. "Its amusing that you think that old man will live against that bastard Kakuzu. If I could kill him I would have done it a long time ago. However," Hidan jumped back and snapped the scythe towards him, "You won't have the pleasure of seeing your friend again".

He brought the blade to his mouth and let his tongue savor the bitter red liquid. Hidan stepped back to where Jiraiya first attack had cut off his arm and hastily made a circle with his boot.

Shikamaru and Asuma watched stupefied as their enemy turned black while white marking on his head and chest give him the appearance of a skeleton. "Now tell me how you would like to die."

Two council members lay dead as Suigetsu let the bloody kunai fall from his hand. He would use a clean one for the Hokage so as to not arouse suspicion. Attempting a genjutsu would an unnecessary risk. He moved quickly but not so quickly that his presence would be sensed. The Hokage's building was so close, now barely a dozen meters. Midst step Suigetsu felt as though he was having a bowl movement.

Suigetsu felt the thrashing in Naruto's stomach. A pain that couldn't have been caused by anything less than a stomach exploding made him vomit and fall to the ground writhing like a decapitated snake. "AHHHH" Suigetsu cried clutching the body that he was just getting used to. He struggled to his knees when the pain eased in his stomach but no sooner had he managed to gain his balance the pain ran up his body and slammed into his head.

"Leave boy. If you desire your life."

A hopeless Suigetsu twitching and weak followed the orders and fled Naruto's body. The cancellation of the jutsu brought a faint Suigetsu back to his body but Suigetsu had not had the composure to kill Naruto while he had the boy as his vessel. However, Naruto was not brought to consciousness in stead a body void of a conscious lay motionless while a new force gathered itself to fill that void.

As if the gates of hell were flung open and the millions of damned souls of the earth were escaping to freedom. The Kyuubi exploded from his prison and the body of Namikaze Naruto became a vessel for the demon.

Vicious, burning red chakra surrounded the Kyuubi's vessel. The vessel stood no longer a puppet but a fully created entity bursting with life and power. The form of a human became distorted as the chakra around the body took the form of a beast.

"Jiraiya!" Shikamaru cried. "Why aren't you here?" The strategist who could see a thousand ways to attack his opponent could not see victory. He was barely dodging the attacks of Hidan and his efforts of fighting back were laughable. He rolled to his side and came up with a clump of a dirt which he whipped into Hidan's face. His sight blurred by tears Shikamaru jumped back rubbing the tears from his eyes.

Hidan wiped his eyes his sick smile breaking into a laugh. "Why don't you let me kill you? If you're not going to run at least let me kill you. You think you can save your master?"

Shikamaru couldn't help but look over his shoulder at his sensei. Asuma was pierced in several places and from a glance Shikamaru couldn't tell if he was still alive.

"Kekeke." Hidan laughed charging forward, "Didn't he ever tell you not to look away from your enemy."

Shikamaru stepped back and then stutter stepped to the left avoiding Hidan's lunge. With an attempt that would have been laughed at by another chunnin he attempted a counter but Hidan grasped his leg and after picking him up slammed him to the ground.

Blood spat out his mouth as his head connected with hard earth. As painful as being slammed against the ground he felt a hundred times worse as the hand of his teacher's killer stroked his face to cup the blood needed to perform his curse.