A Change in Plans
I know that I had said in the last update that Jiraiya and Tsunade weren't aware who were Naruto's parents, but I've decided retract that last author's note. It just doesn't seem like it would make the story flow real well. Once again, I don't own anything!
'Blah'- inner thoughts
"Blah" - talking
'Blah' - demon/monster speaking
"Blah" - jutsu being performed
"BLAH" - really angry yelling
#- scene change
Chapter 4: The Resulting Violent Reaction
Outskirts of Konoha
"My lord, are you sure it is wise for you to be up and about, especially after you've just recently transferred to your new body?" asked Kabuto, as he and his master were leaping from tree to tree towards their destination.
"This is far too important for me to just sit on the sidelines and risk having my shinobi blunder everything, Kabuto. Matters of grave significance such as this, requires a more direct approach. I wouldn't have ordered you to perform those extra surgeries after the transference ritual if I could have had one of my minions perform this task." oiled Orochimaru. His current body was still wrapped up in medical bandages, but his face looked the same as he did when he had his previous body.
"But what I don't understand why it has to be Naruto. Surely, the test subjects we have imprisoned in our bases would be more than enough for you to conduct your research? Why go to all of the trouble of capturing this boy, when a few days ago you deemed him as a future threat that needed to be eliminated?" questioned Kabuto.
Orochimaru spared him an irritated glance. "I thought that you would be more observant after all the years you've served me, Kabuto. Despite the fact that Sasuke desires vengeance for himself and his clan, he is still motivated by his damaged pride. Since he is one of the few remaining members of his clan, he will be unwilling to let go of his family pride. For my plan to succeed, I need Sasuke's anger and hatred for Itachi to be at the point where he will be prepared to forsake everything that he once treasured to acquire the knowledge and power that I have. That will allow me to finally obtain the Sharingan, with the least amount of trouble from him. Yet, according to the reports from our provider within the village, and from what I witnessed at the chunin exams, Sasuke has resisted the Curse Mark of Heaven's influence. Even though he has used the mark before, and knows what is capable of, he only uses it as a last resort."
"So, is that really a bad thing? The fact that Sasuke has used the curse mark just proves that he can be tempted to come to you for power." replied Kabuto.
"Normally, it wouldn't if we were dealing with an average person. But, this is an Uchiha, and they have always had a strong sense of pride in their clan. And that pride has often gotten the better of them. It motivates them to believe that they can accomplish anything."
"Like what happened with the Kaguya clan." added Kabuto.
"Precisely! Even though Sasuke is eager to go towards any methods to obtain power, his Uchiha pride will not allow himself to become subservient to anyone. That being said, I would always have to be on guard whenever he tries to betray me once he believes that he has learned everything that I have to offer him. Even though I am confident that I can handle anything the runt of the Uchiha clan plans to attempt on me, it doesn't hurt to be on the safe side, now does it?"
"I see, so that's why you want to do more research on the curse marks. You want to modify the seal so that it suppresses the wearer's free will, or so that it will leave a stronger imprint of your own mind in their subconscious."
"Hm, quite an accurate deduction, Kabuto." replied the snake, with a smirk.
"But that still doesn't explain why you need Naruto for the new seal." added Kabuto.
"Ah, yes…the legacy of the Fourth Hokage, in ways this village has yet to realize." said Orochimaru, his smirk morphing into a predatory grin. "What better way to test the strength of the curse mark, than to use the son of Minato Namikaze and Kushina Uzumaki as the test subject."
"I still can't really believe that young fool is the Fourth's son. If what you said is true, then why has he been treated so poorly? Why was he allowed to grow up into the loud, brash buffoon he is today? I would have thought that the village would take better care of a kage's son." countered Kabuto.
"Hmph, please, just because the majority of the village's population worshiped the ground the Fourth walked on, doesn't mean that he was without detractors. Sarutobi Sensei most likely kept little Naruto's heritage a secret so that he could protect the child from his father's enemies, both from within and outside the village. Although, it seems that action was ineffective, as the villagers still treat him with ill-disguised hostility due to his status as a jinchuriki." explained Orochimaru.
"And how does Kushina Uzumaki enter into all of this?" asked Kabuto.
"Think, Kabuto. Throughout the entire history of the Leaf Village, there had only been two members of the Uzumaki clan that lived in the village: Mito and Kushina. Mito was the First Hokage's wife, and by proxy, Tsunade's grandmother. Kushina was around Minato's age, and they were in a serious relationship, ever since he saved her from a group of Cloud ninja that kidnapped her in one of their attempts to use shinobi with unique abilities to breed more bloodlines. This relationship would eventually progress to the point when the two eventually got married. Now, don't you find it odd that there exists a child bearing Kushina's last name, and looks almost exactly like Minato? And more to the point, do you know why out of all the children that were born during the fox demon's appearance, Minato chose Naruto to be the host of the most powerful tailed beast?"
"…I see. Forgive me for not realizing it sooner."
"Heh, you're not the only one to have overlooked Naruto's true pedigree. The current Tsuchikage has not yet ordered any assassinations on the boy in retribution for Minato's actions during the Third Shinobi war, nor has the Hidden Cloud Village tried to kidnap him, so it's easy to deduce that the Third managed to keep it a secret from nearly everyone. I myself almost didn't notice it, until I recalled the times I had spent with that fool Jiraiya's genin team. But, now that the truth has been discovered, it'll make little Naruto all the more favorable to help me with my studies, what with the blood of the Uzumaki clan and The Yellow Flash running through his veins."
Kabuto was silent for a moment. He didn't like where this idea was heading, but knew better than to call his master out of it. Yet, there was one nagging thought that continued to plague his mind.
"You do know that the Akatsuki won't take too kindly to this action, right?" the spectacled nin asked.
"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it." Orochimaru simply stated. "Now, do you remember what is required of you once we infiltrate the village? There can be no room for failure." his tone taking a more deadly tone, letting the unsaid threat linger in the air.
"I understand, Lord Orochimaru. I shall not fail you." replied Kabuto, his attitude becoming dead serious. As the view of the Leaf Village was but a few meters away, the duo split up, each with their own objective to complete.
Naruto's anger had not subsided since he left Sakura at the hospital. The previous events were flashing forward in his mind, as if he were experiencing them for the first time. He still couldn't believe that Sasuke was willing to kill him with his sensei's personal jutsu. Was that how he thought about him all the time when the team was together? Not to mention, he always seemed hell-bent on making him feel completely worthless. But what upset him even more was how nearly everyone he knew seemed to turn a blind eye on anything bad that the village's "oh-so precious" Uchiha, and just focus mainly on his faults. And to make things worse, he was on a team in which Sasuke practically had his own entourage!
'What did I do in my previous life to deserve this constant shit storm?' thought Naruto as he walked down the street.
"NARUTO!" came Sakura's voice from behind him.
'God Fucking Damnit! Just the person that I needed to see right now: the co-founder of the bastard's fan club! Maybe if I just keep walking and pretend not to hear her, she'll just leave me alone.' thought Naruto.
"Naruto! Naruto, wait up!" shouted Sakura, the sound of her footsteps getting louder.
'So much for that idea.' thought Naruto bitterly. Deciding to prevent one of her infamous violent outbursts from happening, he decided to at least humor Sakura and listen to whatever she wanted to say to him. "Okay, what do you want now, Sakura?" he asked without any attempt to mask his anger.
Sakura was momentarily put off by the blonde's angry tone and hard glare that was never once directed towards her. It caused her to stop momentarily, as she began to realize that perhaps things weren't as swell as she thought they were.
"Naruto, there's something that I need to talk you about." she started. "Something that you deserve to know about Sasuke."
"Save it, Sakura. I'm not interested in listening to the million reasons way Sasuke is wonderful." muttered Naruto. He did not want to deal with her usual behavior.
"But this is important! Sasuke hasn't been himself ever since the chunin exams-"
"Really? He seemed like his normal self when he tried to kill me back at the hospital."
"But it wasn't his fault! He-"
"God, why do you keep on making excuses for him, Sakura? Am I really that beneath your contempt that you could care less if Sasuke slit my throat in my sleep?" snapped Naruto, his temper beginning to rise again.
"No! It's not like that! I wasn't going to say anything like that! Naruto, you need to know that something really terrible happened when Sasuke fought Orochimaru in the Forest of Death whilst you were knocked out! He didn't tell you about it because he didn't want you to worry about him!"
"HA! If that's the reason, then how come you know, huh? Why are you so willing to let me in on your little lover's secret with the bastard now? I thought you wanted to share something special with him."
"Kakashi Sensei and the Third Hokage knew about it as well. I wasn't the only one besides Sasuke that knew about it." Sakura said in her defense.
"Big deal! So the higher ranking ninja know about Sasuke's dirty little secret. The fact that you and Sasuke kept it from me, shows what you all truly think of me as your teammate, and as a person. And quite frankly, I've had just about enough of people talking crap about me for one day, thank you very much!" growled Naruto, as he stormed off.
"Please, Naruto, don't go!" said Sakura, distress heavy lacing her words. It got the desired effects, as Naruto immediately stopped in his tracks. "I know that Sasuke and I haven't been very good teammates, and that we should have treated you better. But, this is really important. If you just give me chance, I'll explain everything to you. No more keeping secrets from you, I swear! Just please, trust me!"
Naruto stayed silent as an internal debate was raging through his mind. On one hand, he could just tell Sakura to bugger off, and walk away. After all, he wasn't obligated to obey her every demand. But on the other hand, no matter how angry he was, Naruto just couldn't bring himself to be outright spiteful to anyone.
"Alright." sighed Naruto. "Alright, Sakura, I'll listen to what you have to say. But can we talk about it a bit later? I need some time alone right now."
"Sure. How about we meet at our team's regular training grounds in thirty minutes?"
"Sounds fine. See you 'till then." replied Naruto, as he walked away to be alone with his thoughts. Sakura watched as Naruto left before she went the other way. She too needed some time to get her thoughts together. But what neither of the genin noticed was the figure that was listening in on the entire conversation.
"So, the demon is gonna be at the Third Training Ground, eh? The others must here about this." the mysterious figure said, before disappearing in a shunshin.
Leaf Wall Outpost 13
Guard duty. One of the most mundane and boring jobs that a shinobi could have. In these somewhat peaceful times, it was seen as a test of one's character and patience. If it was during a war, then things would've been different. The ninja that were assigned to the wall outposts were usually newly promoted chunin that had originally thought that they were above being assigned boring missions. But, they had the assurance that their task was not as painfully boring as gate guard duty. Kotetsu Hagane and Izumo Kamizuki had the privilege of being assigned that job. Still, for the new chunin that were stationed at Outpost 13, things looked as if things were gonna be a nice and quiet for the entire afternoon.
That is, until a violent chain of explosions on the wall shattered the tranquility, and plunged the entire outpost into chaos.
"What the crap is going on?" shouted one of the chunin, as he was beginning to panic.
"Are you kidding me? We're under attack! Why didn't you see this coming?" shouted the kunoichi.
"Because the attack came from within the village!" exclaimed the male chunin.
"What? Are you serious?" exclaimed the kunoichi. "If this your idea of a prank, then…"
"I'm not joking, the attack came from inside the-"
"Stop panicking like a bunch headless chickens, the both of you!" interrupted their superior officer. "You're all chunin, so start acting like your rank, and not like greenhorn genin!"
"Captain, I've got a visual on the possible perpetrator. He's heading twenty degrees due west from our position!" exclaimed the first male chinun.
"What?" Not wasting time, the captain snatched up the binoculars from the shinobi, and aimed them at the area that his underling had mentioned. Sure enough, he saw a cloaked figure fleeing into the wooded area behind the village's protective barrier. "Mobilize Squadrons One through Three immediately. They are to detain the suspect by any means necessary. I want this bastard brought back alive, and wanted it done yesterday, people!"
As the sentries scrambled to chase after the attacker, the cloaked figure continued his escape into the forested area, despite knowing that there were now pursuit teams gaining on him.
"Heh, it took them long enough." sniped the assailant, as the wind pulled back his hood to reveal the face of one Kabuto Yakushi.
Unknown Abandoned Building
"My comrades, from what Kaji has heard, the demon fox is planning to meet one of its teammates at Training Grounds 3 in roughly thirty minutes. This is the moment that we've all been waiting for: the chance to finally finish what our Fourth Hokage started. We shall lie and wait at this location, and when that wretched demon arrives, we strike it down hard and fast!" said a sunglasses-wearing jonin. The man was wearing the standard shinobi blue shirt and pants, as well as the regular green flak jacket. He also wore a pair of steel plated gloves. But unlike the normal guarded gloves, the fingers weren't cut off. He also had a full beard and a mop of short brown hair.
"Yeah! Lets kill it once and for all!"
"It's been alive for too long. The Third Hokage should have killed it the day that it was born!
"KILL THE DEMON!"
"BURN IT ALIVE!"
These were some of the shouts that filled the darkened building. Judging by what was seen from the luminescence provided by the numerous candles, there were about twenty-five people in the congregation of men and women.
"Hold up for a minute, Gendo!" exclaimed an older looking jonin, with graying black hair. "Are you sure that you want to risk exposing all of use for this foolish attack? The child could still be of use to this village. You remember how he single-handedly stopped that Gaara boy from the Sand/Sound invasion?"
Gendo focused his gaze upon the older shinobi. "It has rediscovered how to use its demonic chakra at will, and has the ability to summon toads, Fuyutsuki. We can't allow to regain its full strength and destroy us all. And as for stopping that sand demon's rampage, it is well known that demons are naturally territorial, and will defend their turf to the death. Despite the fact that the fox demon succeeded in stopping Sand's own demon, recent events have occurred that have deemed it too dangerous to be kept alive. Ritsuko had just recently spied it using the Fourth Hokage's treasured ninjutsu, the Rasengan, in attempt to kill Sasuke Uchiha."
"It did what?" exclaimed a woman.
"That monster had the nerve to try and kill our Uchiha?" roared a male chunin that wore goggles and a helmet.
"That settles it! The fox must be killed before it finishes what it started thirteen years ago!" shouted a shinobi, whose tall stature and cheek markings signified that he was a member of the Akimichi clan. This outburst brought out several shouts of agreement, their drive to finally kill the village's demon reaching the boiling point. But as soon as Gendo raised his hand, the entire room became silent.
"We mustn't waste this opportunity. Get to the training grounds, and await my command. Comrades, today we finally rid the Leaf of the plague that is the Nine-Tailed-Fox Spirit! Move out!"
The shinobi instantly vanished via shunshin, except for Gendo and Fuyutsuki.
"I hope you're know just how much is riding on this, Gendo. You know what will happen to all of us if we get caught." said Fuyutsuki, before he too left via shunshin, leaving Gendo alone in the candle-lit room.
"It will work, I swear it." said the Gendo, his eyes taking a hardened look behind his glasses. "I swear on my life, you will be avenged, my beloved wife." Seeing that he was completely alone in his group's temporary meeting place, the man left via shunshin, the wind extinguishing the flames, leaving the room in complete darkness.
With Jiraiya and Tsunade
Tsunade was once again looking through the stacks of paperwork that were on her desk. It was taking all of her will power not to use all of it as kindling for a fire. She found it bitterly ironic that she used to get on her sensei's case whenever he complained how he sometimes got fed up with being Hokage.
"Why can't you use the door like everyone else, Jiraiya?" asked Tsunade, her eyes glued to a scroll she was reading.
Said ninja suddenly appeared from behind her, an annoying smirk plastered on his face. "Because, everyone uses the door. I prefer to be more…unique." replied the toad sage.
Tsunade just snorted in a very un-lady like manner, before putting the scroll away for later. "Please, your pick up lines are just corny as they were thirty years ago. And how do I know that you weren't ogling at my breasts again?" she asked with a raised brow.
"Heh, I've been punched out this village by you countless times. I think I've gotten the message that you were trying to pound into me all those years ago by now. I know when something is a lost cause."
Tsunade was immediately on guard, the memory of what Naruto said about Jiraiya acting weird racing back to her mind. This did not sound like the Jiraiya that she knew. And in a way, she felt somewhat disappointed that he didn't respond back to her barb like he usually did. But, she couldn't let him know that she was aware of his change in behavior, not immediately at least.
"Then would you care to explain why you continued to peep on me if you knew that I wasn't interested?" asked Tsunade.
"Well, you know the old saying: old habits die hard." smirked Jiraiya. His expression then quickly shifted to that of a serious shinobi. "So, what is it that you wanted from me, Lady Hokage?"
Again, that serious tone almost made her cringe. It was like she was talking to someone completely different. But she had a job to do, and couldn't appear that she was out of it.
"I was going over some of the reports of the chunin exam, more specifically the second part that involved the Forest of the Death. The fact that Orochimaru has branded Sasuke with his Curse Mark doesn't really sit well with me. Unlike Anko, Sasuke looks as if he would be more willing to actually use the mark to fulfill his own needs." she said.
"I actually just observed a fight between him and his teammate, Naruto. It was actually quite nostalgic." added Jiraiya.
That threw Tsunade for a loop. "Care to elaborate?" she asked, curious to what her old teammate was going with all of this.
"From what I've seen, this year's Squad Seven is almost identical to our old team: they have a talented genius that sees himself superior to everyone else, a somewhat clumsy klutz that everyone immediately sees as the dead last, a kunoichi that has a crush on said genius and constantly degrades said klutz at every chance she gets, and a teacher that has the tendency to play favorites amongst his students." said Jiraiya, his tone never changing.
Tsunade's unease only doubled. Perhaps, Naruto was right about Jiraiya after all. "That aside, what do you propose should be done with Sasuke? Kakashi has reported that he had applied the Evil Sealing Method to the seal, but he's worried that the boy has been using it willingly."
"Hm, it would probably be a good idea for me to have a look at. Perhaps, I could see if there's something that might help subdue the mark that so that it isn't just Sasuke's will that is keeping it at bay. However, given how we know very little about Orochimaru's curse marks, I doubt that whatever I come up with will be very effective in the long run. Although, if you ask me, he should be closely monitored. During their little sparring match, Sasuke seemed a bit too eager to use the Chidori on Naruto. If Kakashi hadn't stopped the fight before it became too dangerous, I shudder to think how differently that match would have ended." said Jiraiya, bitterly. "Now then, aside from that, is there anything else that you need from me?"
Tsunade bit her lip slightly. It was now or never. "Actually, yes, there is. Is…everything alright with you, Jiraiya? You seemed a bit…off, on the way back to the village, as if, there was something bothering you."
Jiraiya just gawked at her, before he merely raised an eyebrow. "Are you drunk already, Tsunade? Because you're saying things that you wouldn't normally say when you're sober."
"I'm being serious, you pervert. Even your student was able to sense that you were acting differently." the woman replied tersely. Jiraiya tensed up at his old comrade's statement. It looked like he too fell victim to Naruto's deceivingly naive behavior. But now wasn't the time to contemplate on how to get back at the boy for the situation he was in. He didn't feel like discussing his problem with Tsunade. She wouldn't talk to him about Dan when they were together, so he felt no obligation to tell her about Shina. Unfortunately, Tsunade was just as bull-headed as she was during her younger years, and wouldn't let a topic go, especially if it was about him.
"I don't think it's any of your business. You disappear off of the face of the earth for years, so I'm entitled to keep a few secrets from you." retorted Jiraiya, hoping that would end things quickly. Unfortunately, it seemed as if things were set against the Toad Sage today.
"Yes, but I'm the Fifth Hokage, now. And, as Hokage, I can't afford to have one of my best shinobi emotionally compromised." she said as she laced her fingers together in front of her chin, her elbows propped on her desk. Her face showed on signs that she was going to drop the subject. "So I'll ask you again: what is bothering you?"
Back With Naruto
As Naruto made his way to the training grounds after having some time to cool off, he began to think back to what Sakura had said to him before. Even though he was angry that he was kept out of the loop, again, he thought that maybe they did have a good reason for doing it. Hell, he'd been keeping one of the biggest secrets in all of Leaf Village's history. And considering that Orochimaru was the one that branded Sasuke with that damned mark, then perhaps Sasuke really was being influenced by it. Given what he had seen in the Forest of Death, he was willing to believe that he traitor was capable of accomplishing just about anything unnatural.
Suddenly, Naruto heard the sound of a twig snapping from his right. Whirling around, the blonde tried to see through the forested cover in order to find the source of the noise. Silently cursing that he wasn't from the Hyuga clan, Naruto tried to extend his senses to try and locate where the source of the noise was. Yet, despite his best efforts, he couldn't pinpoint where it came from. Accepting defeat, Naruto continued his way towards Training Ground 3, unaware of what was awaiting him. In a short while, he soon saw the three familiar wooden posts, as well as Sakura leaning against the post that was towards his left, staring at the ground deep in thought. Seeing that she was waiting for him, Naruto quickened his own pace to meet her. Hearing the sound of footsteps, Sakura looked up to see Naruto hurrying towards her. Not wanting to seem rude, she rushed over to meet him.
Neither of them were expecting what was about to happen. One second, they were running towards each other, the next a line of kunai landed in between them, the explosive notes tied to them already smoking. Despite seeing the danger in front of them, they had very little time before the explosives detonated with a loud and powerful explosion, blowing them back with extreme force. Since Sakura was caught somewhat flat-footed, she couldn't move as quickly as Naruto could and thus was blown back further from the point of origin than Naruto, and was slammed against a tree, landing in a heap at the trunk.
"Sakura!" yelled Naruto, as he scrambled to his feet despite the unsteady feeling that was coursing through him.
"Stay away from that girl, demon scum!" was the only warning Naruto got before he was nearly crushed by an enlarged fist. It was only thanks to his fast reflexes that he managed to escape the devastating attack from the unknown Akimichi. Before he could even shout a curse at the fat ninja, his instincts told him that the danger was far from over. The blonde leapt to the left to avoid being bisected by a ninjato-wielding shinobi, only to leap forward in order to avoid being blasted by the Fireball Jutsu that was launched by a kunoichi. To make matters worse for the boy, he could see more and more shinobi and kunoichi appearing, all of them looked ready to kill. Figuring that this was one of those times to run instead of fight, Naruto dashed to where Sakura was in order to get the away from the angry horde of ninja. Sadly, his efforts were for naught, as a Jonin wearing gloves and orange-tinted sunglasses sent him flying back with a surprise front kick.
As Naruto got to his feet, he saw that he was completely surrounded by the mob. Right away, memories of his past experiences with mobs came flooding into Naruto's mind. Even though he always made sure to make it back home before midnight, he sometimes ran afoul with an angry mob that seemed to always know where to find him when he was younger. Sometimes, there were a few shinobi mixed in with the mass of people, but most of the times they were mainly composed of vengeful civilians that wanted payback for the suffering they endured from the fox demon. The Third Hokage tried his best to stop these attacks, but nothing seemed to permanently but an end to them. When he became a genin the attacks seemed to have stopped all together, that is, until now.
"What's going on? Wha…what do you all want from me?" said Naruto, his eyes darting from left to right.
"We're all here to finally rid the world of your evil, demon." said the sunglasses-wearing jonin, hatred visible in his eyes, despite being shielded by orange-tinted lenses.
"You tell it, Gendo!"
"It's time that you die for what you've down to our village thirteen years ago, monster!"
Similar outbursts were shouted towards Naruto, bringing back horrid memories that he had worked hard to repress.
"What are you talking about? I had never hurt any of you! I don't even know who any of you are!" shouted Naruto.
"Don't lie to us, monster!" shouted the Akimichi. "You know full well what you have done to the Leaf Village, and all of her children thirteen years ago! We lost our Fourth Hokage because of you!"
"The Third Hokage may have prevented us from finishing you off while you were younger, fox. But now that he has passed on, there will be no escaping your execution." said Gendo, in an eerily calm tone, his facial expression still retaining that scowl. This brought out mass uproar of cheers and angry remarks.
"What does it take for you morons to get it that I'm not the damn demon!" shouted Naruto. The mob responded in turn with angry insults and death threats. Naruto, having enough of dealing with the mob, decided to try and make his escape. If he was lucky, he could probably grab Sakura and hightail it towards the Hokage Tower. As he was still making his plans, Naruto suddenly felt a sharp twinge on the back of his neck. Reaching to where the sudden irritation was and pulled out a senbon needle. The moment he had the weapon in his hand, his vision began to swim and he felt his strength leave him. He tried desperately to move out of the ring of shinobi, but his legs quickly became lethargic and slow moving, which resulted in him finally tripping over his own feet and crashing to the ground. But before he finally lost consciousness, he caught sight of a blonde-haired woman with a mole on her left cheek, smirking triumphantly at him.
Back With Sakura
Sakura's head was pounding from the explosion, and it didn't help that there was a large commotion assaulting her already hurt eardrums. But then, for some reason, the pain in her head suddenly lessened drastically. Once her vision cleared, she saw that a woman with blonde hair and green eyes was performing the Mystical Palms Jutsu on her. The fact that she was hearing what sounded to be a large fight not too far away from where she was immediately put Sakura on edge. As she tried to get to her feet, the blonde woman gently pushed her back into a sitting position, while positioning herself so that she was in front of Sakura's line of sight.
"You shouldn't be moving, right now. You took a pretty nasty concussion when you hit that tree." said the woman. If you let me treat your injury, you will be just fine." said the woman. But Sakura noted that her tone seemed like she was stalling for something. And still, the sounds of fighting were assaulting her eardrums. From behind the woman, the girl could see that there was a large gathering of shinobi that were gathered around something on the ground. She could see that they were kicking and striking at it.
"Hey, what's going on?" asked Sakura as she tried to get a good look behind the woman but moved to blocked her view.
"It's nothing that you need to worry yourself about." said the woman briskly, placing a firm hand on her shoulder, keeping her in place.
"But what are they doing? And who was it that threw those-" Sakura's voice stopped the moment she caught sight of a familiar trace of orange surrounded by the horde of shinobi. Jerking her head to get a better look at was being put through such a violent onslaught, she saw the person that was laying face down on the ground was none other than…
"Naruto!" shrieked Sakura, her discomfort and pain instantly forgotten, "Stop it, all of you! What do you think you all are doing to him?" She leapt to her feet and tried to get towards her teammate, but found herself being grabbed in a Full Nelson hold. Looking behind her, she was confused, and at the same time angered, that it was the same woman that had helped her.
"What is wrong with you? Let me go! They're killing my friend!" shouted Sakura. She tried to break out of the woman's hold, but she found the medic to be a lot stronger than she first appeared. "What the hell's wrong with you? Let me go! Can't you see that they're going to kill him?" screeched Sakura, as she tried to desperately break free of the blonde woman's hold.
"I'm sorry, but I can't let you interfere. It has to be done." said the woman, her tone sounding as if she were comforting a fussy baby. "This is for the village's own good."
Sakura blanched at the blonde woman. She couldn't believe what she had just heard with her own ears. The way that the woman spoke was if she had been relieved of a huge burden. Just looking at her smile serenely as Naruto was getting beaten to death by the horde made her sick.
"What are you talking about?" demanded Sakura as she continued to struggle against woman's hold.
"The beast you see before you has been alive for too long. For thirteen, long, horrible years, it served as a reminder of what we have all lost. Everyday it was allowed to live, the souls of our loved ones cried for retribution, yet we were prohibited by the Third Lord Hokage to help those poor souls pass on. But now, thanks to Gendo, we will finally grant those lost souls eternal rest. We will be seen as saints in Kami's eyes. The brave few that had the courage to act, while the masses did nothing."
"You're insane! You're absolutely insane! Naruto's no monster!" shouted Sakura, her unease steadily increasing the more she listened to the woman.
The woman just chuckled. "You poor child. You've been in close contact with the demon for so long, that your common sense and judgment has deteriorated. But, don't worry, it will all be over soon. Gendo is about to end it all." said the woman, her gaze directed towards the mob. Following the deranged woman's gaze, she saw, to her horror, a shinobi wearing sunglasses, obviously Gendo, standing before a severely beaten and unconscious Naruto. Cuts and bruises were littered everywhere on Naruto's body, his bright orange jumpsuit ravaged by rips and stained with his blood. Her eyes darted back to Gendo, and saw that the man held a ninjato in his hand. As she watched Gendo raise his weapon, the tip pointed towards Naruto's neck, she began to struggle with all of her might. Desperateness finally kicking in, Sakura slammed a stomp kick onto her captor's foot, stunning the woman long enough her the pinkette to escape. Once free, Sakura rocketed towards the jeering crowd that surrounded Naruto and Gendo, hoping that she could get to the blonde before Gendo struck.
Meanwhile, Gendo stared long and hard at the crumpled form of the Nine-Tailed-Fox demon. He refused to call it the name that some of the shinobi and civilians had gotten comfortable using. He and his wife were of the many shinobi that were tasked of distracting the fox demon whilst the Fourth Hokage finished preparing his plan to defeat the demon. Although he had managed to survive the ordeal, his wife was one of the many that weren't so fortunate. When he had heard that the damned fox was sealed into a newborn baby, he was amongst the numerous people that were in support of simply killing the baby to permanently end the threat of the demon. Of course, the Third's laws concerning the baby angered Gendo to no ends, and he had vowed to one day finish what the Fourth Hokage had set out to do, and make sure his wife's sacrifice was not in vain.
"I do this for you, Yui." said Gendo to himself. But just as he was about to finish the demon off for good, the ground suddenly jolted and shuddered with great magnitude, causing him to lose his balance momentarily. That one brief moment would cost him dearly, as he had to leap away from Naruto before the incoming Rasengan collided with his stomach. As he safely distanced himself, he saw that Tsunade and Jiraiya were standing in front of the demon, along with the snake whore Anko Mitarashi, some chunin with a scar across his nose, a kunoichi wearing a battle kimono, the infamous Copycat ninja Kakashi Hatake, and Sasuke Uchiha himself. As his eyes darted around, he noticed that each of his followers were being restrained by an ANBU Black Op, including Ritsuko. Gendo barely contained the rage that was building up inside him.
"What is the meaning of this?" roared Tsunade, her eyes never breaking away from the shinobi Jiraiya nearly hit with his last attack. Behind her, Shizune was applying immediate first aid to Naruto. Although she only got a small glance of him, what she did see angered her immensely. Looking around, she saw Sakura rushing towards them, which brought up several questions as to what part she played in this entire fiasco. She was even more surprised that Sasuke and Anko were here as well, but now wasn't the time to ponder their reasons. As she set her sights back on the mob's ringleader, something clicked in her mind.
"Gendo, what is the meaning of this? Attacking a fellow shinobi with the intent to kill is punishable by death. You do know that, don't you?" said Tsunade dangerously.
"I will NEVER call that monster my comrade." Gendo grated out, his facial features hardening.
"Watch what you say, Gendo. I could have you executed in a matter of seconds." retorted Tsunade.
"You aren't the Hokage yet, not until you have gone through the coronation ceremony. So, you have no sway over me, Lady Tsunade. I will not stand by and allow the monster that you're protecting to live another day." growled Gendo.
Sakura frowned in confusion. Why was Gendo calling Naruto a monster, and why was he so desperate to kill him?"
"You've already violated the laws of proper shinobi conduct, Gendo. Don't make it even worse on yourself by breaking the Third Hokage's law as well." said Jiraiya, struggling to restrain himself from killing the man right where he stood.
"Hmph, the Third Hokage is no longer alive to enforce his useless laws." stated Gendo.
"Despite his death, the Third's laws are still valid and are to be enforced. You've just added treason to your list of crimes against the village, Gendo." interjected Kakashi.
Gendo glared at Kakashi, his self restraint seemed to have finally snapped. "Don't you dare call me a traitor. The Third committed treason to the highest degree when he prohibited us from killing the demon once and for all! Thousands of lives were lost trying to buy time for the Fourth Hokage, and instead of eliminating the demon before it could attack again, you fall for its deceivingly innocent reincarnation and allow it to live! I don't care if I have to go through you, your naïve allies, or your mindless drones, Tsunade, I will kill that monster if it's the last thing I-HRRKK!"
Before the crazed man could finish his rant, a thin double-edged blade suddenly protruded from his throat, resulting in a shower of blood. Not a moment later, the ANBU agents and mob members suffered the same fate, save for the blonde woman, who managed to twist her neck out of the way of the blade that went through the neck of the ANBU detaining her. As the bodies collapsed to the ground, the remaining people saw that each corpse had a small white snake slither away from them. The group watched with morbid fascination as the snakes congregated towards a spot behind the surviving mobster and disappear in a cloud of smoke. When the smoke dissipated, there stood none other than Orochimaru, fashioning his trademark serpentine smirk. The snake-like man's sudden appearance caused the blonde woman to scream in fright, but she was immediately sent flying towards a tree by the snake nin's powerful backfist, knocking her unconscious.
This instantly made the two loyal sanin extremely wary of their former comrade, as that last attack showed that he was longer limited to just his legs and snake style ninjutsu. The group tensed up once again when the traitorous sanin turned his attentions back towards them.
"Well now, if this is how you treat your loyal shinobi, Tsunade, then it looks as if abandoning this cesspool of a village was the smartest decision that I made in my entire life." said Orochimaru, while idly massaging his right wrist.
"Orochimaru! You've got some nerve! What are you doing here?" declared Tsunade, still reeling from the fact that the Otokage had changed bodies faster than she'd originally expected him to.
"If you must know, Tsunade, I was just doing some rehabilitation training, after our last fight, and decided to take some time to see how much damage my failed invasion caused. The fact that I've gotten past your security forces without that much of an effort shows just how much of an…impact…I've left on my old home. But then, out of the blue, I decided that I might as well take care of some unfinished business that I'd left behind." said Orochimaru, as if he were discussing the weather with old friends.
"You're talking about me, aren't you?" said Sasuke, his scowl still on his face. He was not having a good day. Seeing the destructive power from Naruto's jutsu had left a bitter taste in his mouth, and to make things worse, Kakashi had tied him up to a tree to give him some sappy lecture about how his life would be ruined if he continued down his path to revenge. What the hell did he know what he was going through? It was clan business, and Kakashi had no right to stick his mask covered nose where it didn't belong.
"Kakashi, what the hell were you thinking bringing the brat here? Don't you know that bastard of a snake is after him?" seethed Anko, her eyes never breaking away from her former mentor. She was poised and ready to strike at anytime. She had to make her move first, before Orochimaru immobilized her through the curse seal that was still branded on her neck.
"Ah, good, both you and Anko are already here, Sasuke. This saves me the trouble of hunting the two of you down. Now just remain still, this won't take but a second." said Orochimaru as he brought his hands up in an inverted tiger seal (AN: the seal that he used to place the curse mark on his victims, the one with the middle fingers crossed over the index fingers).
"Do your worst." said Sasuke stoically. While in his mind, he was barely containing his excitement of what the snake sanin was planning. The curse mark was incredible. It had given him power that he could only dream about. But what was the sanin planning? Was he going to help make the mark stronger? Whatever the snake was plotting, the Uchiha was sure that it would make his vengeance easier and faster to complete. As for Orochimaru, it took all of his self restraint to just grab Sasuke and escape back to the Sound Village, but, he reminded himself of his plans, and that it would pay off in the long run.
The other shinobi, on the other hand, instantly snapped into action. Shizune, Iruka and Sakura stayed put to watch over Naruto, whilst Tsunade, Jiraiya, Kakashi, and Anko charged the snake sanin. Sasuke didn't move an inch, as he waited for whatever jutsu Orochimaru was planning on performing. All them, however, were in for the shock of their lives.
"Release!" declared Orochimaru, before channeling massive amounts of chakra into his hand sign. Immediately, the pained cries were heard, as Anko and Sasuke collapsed to the ground thrashing in pain, clutching at where their curse mark was located. But as soon as they started, the two marked ninjas became still, their labored breathing the only sounds coming from them. Slowly but surely, Anko unsteadily got to her knees, but she felt something was off; it felt as if something was missing. As she unconsciously clutched at her left shoulder, her eyes widened in shock.
"The curse mark…I can't feel the curse mark anymore!" exclaimed Anko.
Upon hearing that, everyone rushed over towards Anko and Sasuke to confirm if what the former said was true. Sure enough, instead of seeing the black tomed curse mark, the remaining ninja saw nothing but clear, unmarked skin. For the first time, Anko finally felt at peace with herself. No longer would she feel as if her former master had an influence over her actions. Sasuke, however, wasn't as ecstatic as Anko was. Possibly the greatest chance he had at killing Itachi was now taken away from him, and by the same man who had given him the power to begin with.
"What the hell was that for? Why did you take the mark away from me?" roared Sasuke, eliciting a gasp from Sakura.
Ororchimaru just chuckled as lowered his arms to his side. "I am sorry to say this, Sasuke, but you no longer meet the requirements for the power that I have to offer."
"WHAT?" exclaimed Sasuke. "I am an avenger, determined to kill the very man who took everything from me by any means necessary! How does that not meet your requirements?"
Orochimaru's smirk never left his face. "It's quite simple, actually. You see, dear Sasuke, despite all of your grand speeches and fearless facades that you put up, they are nothing more but pitiful fronts to cover up what you truly are deep down inside: a spoiled little boy, desperate for his father's approval, but always ending up being outdone by his older brother. Honestly, if there's anything that I find more pathetic than the so-called Will of Fire that Sarutobi Sensei constantly preached about, it's sibling rivalry fueled by the desire for parental affection."
"You have no idea on what you're talking about, nor of the pain and hatred that I constantly go through!" yelled Sasuke.
Orochimaru's smirk twisted into a scowl. "There you go again, saying that you experience hardships and pain everyday, yet you still live a luxurious life with people, young and old, worshipping the very ground you walk on. Anything that you desire can be easily obtained by using your deceased clan's name. Yes, you truly do live a harsh, and unforgiving life that absolutely no one deserves to experience."
"Fine, we get it! The little Uchiha doesn't interest you anymore!" interjected Anko, before Sasuke could say anything that would cause the tense stand off to erupt into violence.
"This isn't like you at all, Orochimaru." stated Jiraiya. "Why would you go through all the trouble of branding Sasuke with your curse mark, only to come back to remove it? You never do anything that doesn't benefit you in the long run."
Orochimaru's smirk returned, even more sinister than before. "And who said that I would be leaving empty handed? You are correct, Jiraiya, I didn't come all this way only to destroy Anko and Sasuke's seal. No, the other reason as to why I am here is to pick up someone that better fits my standards. Once I've retrieved that person, I'll be on my way." The snake relished at the Leaf nin's reactions. But out of all of the ninja present, no one's reaction gave him greater joy than Sasuke's. It looks like his plan would run smoothly after all.
"And what makes you think that we'll just let you to abduct another innocent for you to perform your sick experiments on? Just who is this person that you've targeted?" questioned Kakashi, his lone visible eye narrowing.
Orochimaru just sent a smug expression towards the veteran jonin. "Please, as if any of could actually stop me, even if you all worked together. But, if you must know Kakashi, the person that I'm looking for is someone that has the potential to be the most powerful shinobi that this sad excuse for a hidden village has to offer, someone who knows first hand how cruel the so-called civilized people of Leaf can truly be, someone that has known hatred and anger since the day he was born, someone…wearing an orange jumpsuit, and is currently in a bloodied and bruised state of unconsciousness." said the Orochimaru, as he pointed towards that very back of the group of ninjas, more specifically, the comatose blonde that Shizune was holding in her arms.
"Naruto?" exclaimed Sakura, shocked at the sudden turn of events. Sasuke's shock was quickly replaced with newfound anger and jealousy.
"What are you playing, Orochimaru? During our last battle, you've tried to kill the boy countless times! Why are you so interested in him all of the sudden?" interrogated Tsunade.
"Yes, I too am curious about this development, Orochimaru. Especially since you told me that Naruto would never amount to anything. You specifically said that he had no talent, and that only those that could master countless jutsus were true ninjas. What made you change your mind so drastically?" added Jiraiya.
"Kukuku, true, that was my original ideal." answered Orochimaru. "But, that all changed after I witnessed young Naruto perform the Rasengan on my underling, Kabuto, which that in itself is quite a feat to accomplish according to the less than stellar reports I've read about him. Then again, deception is ashinobi's life blood. And even before that little encounter, Naruto was able to stop one of my more larger summons from attacking his teammates. You remember that moment, don't you Sasuke? Where the supposed dead last was more courageous than you?"
Sasuke made no vocal response to the barb aimed at his moment of cowardice, not wanting to give that backstabber the pleasure of getting to him. Yet, his teeth gnashed tighter together, and his gaze hardened.
"But, that's just the tip of the iceberg!" said Orochimaru. "The fact that he had managed to single-handedly defeat the Sand Village's jinchuriki shows just how much hidden potential the young boy has. In a way, it's strikingly similar as to how the Fourth Hokage prevented the Nine-Tailed-Fox demon from razing the Leaf Village to the ground. It makes a person think that perhaps Naruto is the legacy of the Fourth Hokage in more ways than what's already known by the masses."
Jiraiya 's eyes briefly darted to his left, meeting Tsunade's gaze, before returning to his former friend. He had bad idea that Orochimaru knew something that was supposed to have been kept a S-rank secret.
"Even if that's true, what makes you think that Naruto would willingly accept you or your methods? He would rather die than follow a monster like you." Jiraiya growled out.
"Oh, but I beg to differ. Despite what you all may think, I can clearly see what little Naruto is hiding behind his mask. After years of torment at the hands of his teachers and peers, as well as the unwarranted violent attacks on his person, I sincerely doubt that Naruto could ever come out of that sort of treatment in all smiles. Why, even his own teammates and sensei treat him like a doormat. Even though he may tell you otherwise, I know that deep down in his heart lies the soul of a falsely persecuted boy, demanding vengeance and retribution upon those who have tortured him. And if Naruto has the power to stop a rampaging Shukaku, then just think of all the damage he can do to your village when he decides to exact his revenge for the first thirteen years of his life. Additionally, it'll give me the chance to test your theory of what makes a great shinobi, Jiraiya." said Orochimaru, sneering at the startled look at the self-proclaimed "ladies' man" of the Sanin. "You remember now, don't you? The part when you specifically told me that a true shinobi is one that endures? That the most important talent for a shinobi is having the guts to never give up? Well, I've decided to finally see if what you say holds any validity. And who better to test your ideal than the very person that's specializes in exceeding society's expectations of him? It wouldn't be too hard to get Naruto to join me. After a few therapy sessions with him, and tweaking a few important memories, I'm positive that I can get him to see things through my point of view. And besides, I think it's high time that Naruto serves a village that actually appreciates his abilities, don't you?"
"YOU SON OF A BITCH!" roared Jiraiya, as he leapt at Orochimaru, closing the distance between them in a second, a fully charged Rasengan in his hand. But as the spiraling sphere of chakra made contact with the pale skinned man, his body exploded into a mass of small white snakes. The snakes slithered quickly past Jiraiya before they once again converged to form Orochimaru, rushing towards where that majority of the group was standing.
"YOU'RE NOT TAKING NARUTO!" exclaimed Tsunade, as she rained down from the sky, with her trademark Painful Sky Leg aimed for his head. But instead of dodging the brutal attack, Orochimaru allowed the attack to connect, before he was engulfed in a cloud of smoke and was replaced by a log, that was splintered into several pieces. Behind her, she heard a sound similar to chirping birds. As she turned to face the source of the noise, she was greeted with the sight of Kakashi driving his lightning-coated hand through Orochimaru's chest. But Tsunade didn't time to relax, as the skewered Orochimaru collapsed into a puddle of mud. Panicked, Tsunade tried to get a sense as to where he went, but only saw Jiraiya and Kakashi, looking just as frantic as she was. Anko and Sasuke were on the ground, just barely hanging onto consciousness, but she could see that Anko desperately wanted a chance to pay Orochimaru back for all of the hardships she had to endure because of him.
Meanwhile, while the counter attack against Orochimaru began, Iruka, Shizune (still carrying an unconscious Naruto), and Sakura ran in attempt to get as much distance between them and the treacherous sanin. Unfortunately, the trio didn't get very far, as Orochimaru burst through the ground, nailing Sakura with a punch to the temple, instantly knocking the poor girl unconscious. Before Iruka and Shizune could react, they felt the wind knocked out of them from the two fists that slammed into their solar plexuses. As the two adults collapsed to the ground, Orochimaru swiftly grabbed the unconscious boy from Shizune's arms. He could have easily killed the three shinobi, as a way to instill sorrow and anger into his former teammates, but he had a better idea. As he sensed the three ninja that had physically attacked him, he slowly turned to face them, treasuring their horrified expressions once they saw who he had in his arms.
"Kukukuku, well isn't this just a delicious bit of irony?" said Orochimaru, as he yanked the blonde's headband off his head, the item bursting into ethereal flames seconds later. "The very person that convinced you to become Hokage, is the one person that you've failed to protect, Tsunade." With a sneer, the traitor threw the burning headband at Tsunade's feet, before he made a single hand sign, and slowly began to sink into the earth. "Now then, I believe I've wasted enough time here. I have plenty of work to do, getting young Naruto initiated and everything. But I promise this: the next time you all meet Naruto, he'll be nothing like the boy he was before." And without another word, both Orochimaru and Naruto vanished into the ground.
"NNNNNNNOOOOOOOOO!" exclaimed Tsunade, as she slammed her fist into the ground, in a desperate attempt to stop the snake from escaping. But as she searched the massive crater and fissures that she created, she saw that Orochimaru was already long gone.
"DAMN YOU, YOU SNAKE!" shouted Jiraiya, as his legs gave out, no longer able to hold himself up from the shock of having his apprentice abducted from him. Without warning he punched the ground out of frustration, angry at himself for not being able to get better acquainted to Naruto sooner, and for being unable to prevent the most vile shinobi from kidnapping him. Kakashi made no vocal response to what had transpired in front of him. Instead, his gaze was solely locked on the burnt and somewhat melted metal plate that used to be Naruto's headband.
To Be Continued…
And so it begins, Orochimaru's actions have forever changed the shinobi world. What unspeakable horrors will befall onto Naruto? Will he be strong enough to resist Orochimaru's attempts to awaken his dark half? Will Kishimoto FINALLY kill off those fecking Uchihas in the actual manga already? We'll just have to see!