Summary: Jiraiya returns with some welcome news for Konoha.

AN: Assume AU after the Chuunin arc. Most of Rookie 9 including Naruto are Chuunins (around 15 yrs old) in Konoha. Sasuke defected and is with Sound.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto & co or Inuyasha & co, someone else does.

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...ooO News and Surprises Ooo...

Tsunade, Godaime Hokage, stared at her fellow sannin. After several long seconds she managed to pull herself together.

"Are you sure Jiraiya?"

The Toad Sannin was unusually serious. "Positive Tsunade. I recovered enough body parts to identify several Akatsuki members." He shuddered slightly. "It was like their chakra coils exploded from within."

Tsunade was intrigued. "A Hyuuga?"

"No. Damage like this only occurs in suicide attacks. Pump so much foreign chakra into the target the body cannot handle the alien energy and so rips itself apart. Unfortunately the attacker is drained to death in the process."

"Could a jinchuriki do it and survive?"

Jiraiya frowned and considered the question. "It is possible. But these techniques take enormous power, knowledge, and control. Naruto can't duplicate the attack. Not yet anyway."

"Which Akatsuki members did you confirm as dead?"

Jiraiya rattled off a list of names and identification methods used. "The rings they use to identify themselves are permanently bonded to the body using chakra. It cannot be removed, only cut off. From what I could gather this retaliation was so unexpected I doubt any of them had time to carry out any plan to fake their deaths."

Tsunade shook her head still amazed. "It is so hard to believe. The Akatsuki is no more."

"Not all of them. There are still the missing-nin they used for the legwork. And Uchiha Itachi."

"Any evidence of injuries he might have suffered? Missing body parts?" Tsunade was in a mood for blood, to enjoy the pain the Konoha nuke-nin must be feeling. There was no way he could have escaped an attack that had massacred his allies.

Jiraiya shook his head. "Not really. A little blood, nothing too serious from the amount spilled."

Tsunade pouted then pulled herself together. Itachi was alone, off-balance, and wounded - perfect prey for Konoha hunter-nins. Then her expression turned sober.

"Jiraiya… what caused this? Who could have killed so many S-class missing-nin at once? I have never heard of any other Sannin who could have done this feat."

Jiraiya hesitated before speaking. "It wasn't a person."

"What do you mean? Only a chakra-specialist could have caused such damage. They must have tried to eliminate a potential threat or kidnap a jinchuuri that got the upper hand."

"Last I heard they weren't after a jinchuuri; they were looking for something called the Shikon no Tama."

"Shikon no Tama? Jewel of Four Souls." Tsunade tasted the phrase. "What is it?"

Jiraiya shrugged his broad shoulders. "No one knows. It is supposed to be an artifact of enormous power that pre-dates the Fall, even time itself."

Tsunade was skeptical. "Surely if such a weapon exists it would have been secured by one of the Hidden Villages."

"Not this one. It has its own power, protector and agenda. All shinobi sent after it never returned whole. Some die peacefully with a smile, others were burnt to crisps, most were shredded and partially eaten, a few were driven so mad they had to be killed. After a while the Hidden Villages stopped sending teams and made the tale an unspoken secret."

Tsunade smiled bitterly. "So Akatsuki bit off more than they could chew. Couldn't have happened for a nicer group of psychopathic power-crazy bastards."

"All except for one." Jiraiya warned. "Itachi is still alive. You cannot write him off until you have his head."

Tsunade nodded. "Hai hai. We'll update the Bingo Book. He will be marked as presumed alive." She made a note on her scroll. A few scratches later she looked up. "Jiraiya, what do you think the Shikon no Tama Is?"

"Power. Power that kills those that covet it. Power that kills the greedy and envious."

Tsunade nodded. "No one can know about it. The official reports will say the Akatsuki tried to control a jinchuuri and failed; the bijuu escaped and killed them."

Jiraiya nodded. "Yes. No one must know an artifact like the Shikon exists."

Tsunade snorted. "Not unless we want our enemies to destroy themselves." She smiled evilly. "We should really let Orochimaru find out. Let him bleed his resources trying to secure it."

Jiraiya laughed. "Tsunade, you are a very cruel woman."

The Slug Sannin sniffed. "You're just realizing that? Where have you been all these years?"

Both Sannin broke into laughter. One threat against the boy they loved was eliminated. Naruto would be in less danger with the Akatsuki gone.

- - -

At that very moment things were not very pleasant in Hidden Sound Village.

Uchiha Sasuke had just received word from Kabuto - Akatsuki was destroyed and his cursed brother presumed dead due to the damage suffered by the bodies.

It was enough to send the shinobi into a rage.

The rage was enough to release the Cursed Seal - black markings erupted all over his skin and spread until his skin turned black and his hair turned white.

"NOOOO!!!"

The Oto-nin ducked and evaded several Katon jutsus that damaged and destroyed the Training Hall equipment and furnishings.

"He was mine!!! Mine to kill!!!!"

Kabuto took shelter behind a stone pillar. He wasn't quite sure if Sasuke would stay in Hidden Sound. Itachi had been the reason why the Uchiha turned traitor and left Konoha; he left Hidden Leaf to get power and training from the Snake Sannin, to become strong enough to defeat and kill his elder brother, the brother who had slaughtered the entire Uchiha clan.

He hoped Orochimaru was adjusting his plans to keep the boy in Sound. It wouldn't do to lose the prized Sharingen eyes, the last Sharingen user. At least not before the boy bred with some suitable females. It wouldn't do for Hidden Sound to lose that Bloodline because some hot-headed brat ran off and got himself killed.

- - -

Of course neither Hidden Sound nor Hidden Leaf knew the true state of affairs.

But they would find out soon enough.

...ooOoo...

TBC…

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AN: The Fall - a presumably mythic event (WWIII) that resulted in the current feudal system - shinobi using chakra being leaders, fragmented society, no real evidence of real industrialization, hi-tech electronics or scientific R&D.

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