Authors Note: Surprise!
No excuses, no reason
I took way too long with this chapter,
I'm Sorry :(
I mean common, what's with this 10 month thing I'm doing!
But I suppose I should mention
Ok everyone may ROYALLY hate me buuuut...
No manga spoilers :(
This chapter is THAT big
(and I would REALLY suggest reading it in several short bursts XD)
The Hanging Memory
After Danzo had left the Hokage office, Tsunade had asked for the room's seals of security and silence to be activated. It was an ancient precaution put into place for solely one reason;
A war which threatened the village itself
Tsunade knew that during her current reign as Hokage, she had only used it twice
First against the village siege against the Sound shinobi
And second against the first battle against the Root and Danzo…
The Hokage massaged her head briefly at the second…
More death and destruction was soon going to come to the village's shinobi due to the stupidity of three of the most senior members of the village
It irritated her beyond belief that two were her old Sensei's teammates
And even more so that the third was the very man who had attacked them previously but had idiotically been pardoned due to his 'Years of service'…
And it was insulting beyond measure to know that she had practically no knowledge of any of them
Tsunade leaned back into her chair at the shinobi who waited patiently for her guidance
Or her answer in the case of the Sand shinobi and the Akatsuki agent were concerned
The Dark Kunoichi had chosen to stay for her own enigmatic reasons…
But she felt she had one pressing matter to discuss first;
"You are aware Naruto, that behind his 'formal' appearance, Danzo is a very proud individual who steadfastly refused to be insulted. In fact, if I remember correctly, he has often been known to exact some measure of vengeance on those who wrong him…and more often than not, they are deadly…" Tsunade explained succinctly
The Kyuubi container raised a brow
"You know Baachan, you're right…I think I should go and apologise to him…" Naruto said with a small smile as he made his way to the windows behind the Hokage desk, all eyes following him curiously
Naruto surveyed the grounds below, knowing someone as high and mighty as Danzo wouldn't…
"Ah, there he is" said the blond shinobi, spotting the easily distinguishably robbed form of the Root leader quickly enough, rather pleased that he hadn't disappeared as shinobi usually did
Naruto opened a window and positioned himself to lean out, using his waist and one hand for balance
Bringing the other to his mouth
"HEY DANZY!" he yelled, waving briefly as the aged shinobi slowly turned to him, and even from this distance, the blond shinobi could see him adopting the same disappointed frown he had left with
Taking a deep breath, Naruto brought his palm next to his mouth again
And in that one moment, all the inhabitants, young and old, civilian and Shinobi of ranging from the youngest genin and academy students, busy in their studies and training, to the oldest Jounin busy with mission reports and free time;
All within 30 minutes of the Hokage tower paused in their daily activities and listened as the air reverberated with the sound of;
Hundreds of villagers blocking their children's ears and covering their mouths in shock
At the ramen stand, the owner and his daughter briefly paused in their daily duty as did their customers.
The old man laughed "I always knew that boy would eventually do something like that" he said with smile to his daughter who stifled a giggle
At the Hokage tower, the aged shinobi seemed to walk off with increased and renewed vigour
Amongst the constant snickering and all out bouts of laughter from many of the young shinobi, the Hokage felt the tell-tale sign of yet another headache begin to appear as she rubbed her forehead, ignoring the fact that her old teammate was using the table as support after he had fallen over in his humour…again…
Naruto had walked to re-join the small group in the middle
He was nodding at some hidden agreement
"He took it well" he said simply, scratching his chin
Tsunade found herself failing to hold back a smile from appearing…even if they did have a large disagreement earlier…
She in fact found herself wondering briefly if she could perhaps try something similar in the foreseeable future…
The brat had that effect on people.
"Naruto…" Tsunade began "You are aware of course, THAT was not what I meant" she pointed out with some annoyed humour
The blond shinobi looked genuinely surprised at the statement
"What do you mean? I'm serious, we're best buds" Naruto said with a somewhat confident nod "We're planning to hang out some time, and later on we are going to a restaurant and have nice dinner togeth…" he said trailing off as he had a mental image of the scenario and looked at small group
"That came out wrong" he agreed, looking slightly nauseated
"A little, yeah…" said Shikamaru from the side, forcing a small chuckle out of Temari, who slowly formed a thoughtful expression, akin to one confused about an apparently well-known fact
"Hokage-sama may I ask something about the coming confrontation, assuming of course that me and my brothers will be assisting?" Temari asked politely
Tsunade and Jiraiya exchanged glances with one another, the seal user raising his hands in a non-involved gesture before directing his old teammate at the Sand kunoichi and her siblings
"Would you?" asked the Hokage curiously
"I'm afraid I don't understand..." Temari responded
"Well..." Tsunade said slowly, though the thought the appropriate protocol was a tiresome affair she didn't truly want to be involved in
"This is solely a Leaf matter, to all intent and purposes, neither you nor your brothers have any official..." she began before pausing at the slightly surprised look on the young Nara's face at the last spoken word
"...or rather political..." Tsunade said smoothly, a small smile appearing at the content face the Shadow user had "Reasons for fighting..."
"If you would like I could have you three escorted to a village safe house for the duration of this situation..."
"SCREW THAT CRAP!" shrieked Temari, hurting the ear drums of near everyone in the room
Tsunade smiled at the Sunan
"Why the hell wouldn't we want to fight in this!" demanded the wind kunoichi
"Hey now, just stating facts, and if I'm not mistaken your own village has the exact same rules" Tsunade answered mischievously
Temari closed her mouth with a snap, a look of annoyed embarrassment flushed her face
Shikamaru mustering all his will power to not snicker at it
"I speak on behalf of Suna..." Gaara interrupted "We would like to offer our services on the coming battle
"Much appreciated" Tsunade said sagely
"Kami knows village protocol gets old" Jiraiya added, shaking his head in annoyance
"Now, Miss Sabaku, I understand you had query you would like to discuss?" silently willing to ignore the same protocol for discussing potential high-level village information that similarly drove her to tears with boredom
"Right..." Temari quickly remembering her previous point "I was going to ask, what is it exactly about the Root shinobi which has everyone worried? I mean numbering your own ANBU, and this village's shinobi, and this lot" Temari said gesturing to the Konoha 10 "Surely it would be a simple matter of devising strategies for outnumbering them and anyone else they might bring whilst planning appropriate methods of attack and defence?"
Tsunade stared calmly back and then looked towards the young shinobi, many of whom were looking at each other knowingly
"That would be the usual method of dealing with these kinds of situations…but neither you nor your siblings…or indeed Miss Hyuuga, were here the last time they tried to take power…" she said slowly, staring at each individually before finally at her previous agent
The dark kunoichi choosing to ignore the weak title…
"They're tough" Naruto added admittedly "REALLY tough…I mean I've fought shinobi from more or less every major village and otherwise…but none of them match what Root can do" he said shrewdly
Shikamaru turned towards her
"They are statistically stronger, faster, are able to think at superhuman speeds, and have a near unbroken mission success rate…" he said calmly
"Near unbroken?" Temari repeated curiously
Shikamaru looked back at her darkly
"The only time they've ever failed…was when the Root Coup was defeated a year ago" he said quietly
"Kami that was a hard fight…" Naruto said shaking his head at the memory, several in the room nodding their heads in acknowledgement
"Ok, not to be rude or anything Shika, but you haven't really said anything yet to make me really…"
"Well I suppose I should mention that I can't devise a single strategy against them which could be carried out to the letter" the shadow genius said quietly
Temari paused mid-sentence, her mouth opened slightly
"What…well why not?" she asked, the answer baffling her in its peculiarity
Shikamaru sighed and looked at scroll on the Hokage desk which the Dark kunoichi had delivered
"There is a difference between forming stratagems against a normal opponent and the root…it's a bit like shogi…" he said with small smile, realising how often he makes that similarity "Shinobi are capable of human error, we are not perfect by any means…we make mistakes, either mentally, emotionally or physically and sometimes we can fix them. In shogi, you can predict everything your opponent can do a hundred of moves ahead and alter your play style accordingly, developing theories based on mistakes, openings, methods of offence or defence that they may make in the future…" he said, his voice becoming quieter at the harsh reality coming towards them "But when it comes to the Root…it's like a blank slate, there is no clear line, no foreseeable strategy, no ploy and not even a shred of emotion…it's as though you make the plans for every logical action they could possibly do, and they counter in turn by producing a reaction which could only be explained by changing the rules of the game itself" he said looking back at her
"With them, you're only allowed to think in the present, not the future" Shikamaru summed up "And the last time we fought them, the number of casualties we suffered was completely unpredictable, terrifying and mathematically impossible for their numbers and flaws that we tried to exploit", noting with some degree of discontent the dread expression she had
"And this scenario, the likelihood is…" said a dark voice, sending a shiver down the spines of several in the room like a cold wind
Temari turned towards the Akatsuki
"They have evolved…" said Hyuuga Hinata calmly, looking at the scroll she brought
"This will be quite the learning experience for us" she said staring at the three Sand siblings in order of oldest to youngest
Each feeling an ice like tremor from her stare
Naruto couldn't help but notice the slightly sliver of humour she had in saying that
Tsunade had listened attentively and looked back at wind kunoichi
"In a nutshell" she said simply, a small humourless smile appearing, she soon lost it as she turned back to the shadow user
"When would the earliest would we expect a retaliatory action from them?" she asked the genius
Shikamaru thought about this for a moment, diverting his gaze as hundreds of likely scenarios played in his head;
"There is a possibility of an action early as later this evening…but in regards to the full scale assault…if there will be one…perhaps tomorrow at noon…" he said cautiously
"No they won't" Naruto interjected
Everyone in the room stared at him
The blond calmly surveyed the room
"He won't be attacking for at least a day or something"
"You believe the Danzo will wait?" Tsunade inquired, fingers held together in contemplation
"He's right…" Shikamaru said slowly, staring into nothing as his eyes widened in mental realisation
"It would be far too easy to attack tomorrow…it's by far the most foreseeable and predictable moment…meaning…"
"We have to call their bluff" Naruto interrupted as to answer the question, his arms folded and his eyes sharp.
The Shadow genius nodded slowly, knowing that a single miscalculation could mean the deaths of hundreds of loyal shinobi;
Like he did the last time…
"That would be a tremendous risk if we guess wrong, Shikamaru, Naruto" said the Hokage looking from one to the other
"You're not wrong, Baachan…but Danzo wouldn't attack immediately, the fact he got annoyed when I insulted him means that if he did attack, it would be really obvious to everyone…and someone as proud as him would know that too…he'll play it safe and wait…and besides, him attacking would also look like he was taking petty revenge against what I said" said the clone shinobi, remembering all the unfortunate times where he had spent in the company of the aged tyrant.
Hinata for her part silently agreed on the idea
Though she would never say it
But truth be told they needed something potentially to risk in order for Danzo to halt his...
"The townspeople..." said the Akatsuki quietly
"Pardon?" Tsunade asked
The Akatsuki agent stared emotionlessly at the village leader
"Do not evacuate the townspeople, keep them unaware of this situation" she said calmly
"ARE YOU INSANE!"
The Akatsuki turned her deathly gaze at the blond shinobi, who bore a look of stunned disbelief, as did several others in the room
"You want to risk the villagers!" Naruto spat incredulously "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!" he roared
"There is little reason that Danzo would halt his attack otherwise, he needs the villagers alive to rule as Hokage...and this way you gain the necessary time you need" Hinata said coldly
"Hinata, your theory has so many ways of backfiring..." Shikamaru spoke, notably startled by the concept
The Akatsuki smiled ironically, the genius felt though he was staring at something truly inhuman...
"I thought you were the one with the shogi metaphors?" she said rhetorically
She was likening the villagers to pawns...
That wasn't an option
"The villagers are not expendable, Hinata!" countered the shadow genius
"I never said they were..." said the Akatsuki smoothly
"Wrong" Shikamaru dismissed "Keeping them in their homes would put them in jeopardy, which you think Danzo would actually pause to consider before attacking...that's no better than calling the villagers expendable" he said tactically
"Only a monster would even think that..." said Naruto coldly "Wow...those bastards really messed you up huh?" said Naruto, shaking his head at the apparent idiocy she was displaying
The name making the Akatsuki dig her blade like nails into her palms
"And why aren't you saying anything!" Naruto said over her shoulder at her cousin, who raised his head at the call.
Neji was often called by the Hokage and was widely known to be a wise counsellor in times of warfare…but now he wore a face of one who was emotionally conflicted by the situation.
"Because..." he began, he broke eye contact...
"The idea is a feasible one..." he said quietly
He was grabbed hard from his shirt and brought face to face with the clone shinobi
"Want to try saying that again...?" Naruto said dangerously, his face taut with anger and disbelief
Neji calmly and peacefully placed a hand on his and removed his grip
"Listen to me..." requested the Hyuuga genius "The very thought of using the villagers for any part of a military delaying strategy leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of any right minded person who attempts it, and so too does it everyone else here" he said looking at the assembled group "But you know full well that Danzo's overall ambition is the rule Konoha...and following the previous reports of Root ANBU strategy, they have never followed a strategy involving acceptable losses when concerning the villagers...he wouldn't risk endangering the villagers who would simply refuse to follow him if they were aware the Root killed a number of them..."
"They HAVE KILLED SOME OF THEM!" Naruto roared angrily into the Hyuuga's face
Neji remained stoic
"I know Naruto...but from what I have gathered on the situation...the non-shinobi population of Konoha are still unaware that he was the enemy behind the coup a year ago" he said calmly
Naruto looked taken aback
"What...?" he asked quietly
"It was hidden by the village elders; to the villagers it was a minor incident following mercenary shinobi and criminals..." Neji said with a sigh "Utatane-dono and Mitokado-dono seem to prefer village stability over truth it seems..."
"Who?" Naruto asked curiously
"You know, Utatane is the elderly woman on the council who always seems to have her eyes closed and Mitokado is the senior councilman she is usually with who wears glasses..." Neji reminded, gesturing to himself to make the point clear.
"Oh..." Naruto answered slowly "Wait a second, I remember them, and I hate those two!" he said annoyed
"Don't we all..." Neji said out loud
Causing a snicker from the Hokage
"I mean...!" Neji apologised quickly, realising his error in etiquette
"It's fine Neji..." Tsunade said with smile "Koharu and Homura have been driving me crazy from the first day I became Hokage" she said leaning back into her chair staring at her desk just like she did the countless times she was criticised by the two for the number of pointless reasons and breaches she apparently did
"Yes..." Jiraiya said thoughtfully "But I cannot help but wonder what they will have to say about this..."
"Oh screw them! They are the ones who excused him in the first place!" Naruto said angrily
"Well, if you live up to your promise Naruto, I don't think they will able to help him with politics this time..." Jiraiya reminded quietly
Naruto closed his mouth, before letting out a small chuckle
"Yeah, you're right I suppose..." he said darkly before turning back towards the Hyuuga genius
"But Neji, let's say for a moment we consider not telling the villagers...We could still be wrong about Danzo not attacking tomorrow!" he said frantically
"Naruto, you and I both know that's exactly why you insulted him here and now, because we all know he would let pride overtake his logic and pause" Neji said knowingly "But we have to combine it with a threat even he wouldn't ignore, in this case unfortunately it would be the villagers...if there was anything else he would have wanted, like jutsu scrolls or forbidden technology we would use that but there isn't..."
Naruto thought for a moment
"What about him?" he said;
Pointing to his stomach
To the seal
And the Beast
Neji's eyes widened a fraction before sighing tiredly
"No" he said shaking his head
"It's true he wouldn't kill the Kyuubi...but when it comes down to it Naruto..." Neji said darkly
"He would kill everyone in this room except you..." he said frankly
Hiding the knowledge that Shikamaru had told him of Gaara...
"But in all honesty, I fully imagine him killing you after he extracts the Kyuubi from you" Neji said uncomfortably
Naruto heard a voice from within
"Always nice to be treated like a living weapon..." said the Kyuubi sarcastically, shaking his head at the tired old opinion
"Well I guess he's in luck there" Naruto said with humourless laugh "If he gets the Kyuubi out of me, I die" he said folding his arms
"Brat, what did I JUST say!" exclaimed the daemon fox
Naruto ignored him, but turned around to face the Akatsuki in the room
"And I know for a fact that you know that, right?" Naruto asked, knowing full well what happens after a Bijuu is removed from its host
Hinata's gaze was unnaturally sharp
Naruto looked back at the most humane Hyuuga in the room
"So we should not tell them?" he asked finally
"No" Neji replied honestly
The pair broke eye contact again
The room was deathly quiet
Knowing the decision could potentially sound the death knell for countless innocent civilians
Shikamaru who was listening attentively was silent
It was true
The gambit had a titanic margin for error
It could go wrong with single word...
Not even that
A single notice of commencement was all that was needed
A nod, a look or a snap of fingers and innocent men, women...and children...
Would all die
He looked back at the Akatsuki who returned the gaze
An emotionless mask who could very well be reading his very thoughts...
With eyes which could peer into your very soul...
But she was right in this...
As much as it pained him to agree
"Wait a second..." said Temari, breaking the uncomfortably silence that had fallen in the room "Is that why you insulted him?" Temari asked Naruto curiously "So Danzo would hold off his attack?"
"Yeah of course, why would I do it otherwise?" Naruto said with a shrug
"Because you are universally known as a hyperactive dolt?" Hinata answered coldly, turning slightly in his direction
"Better a hyperactive dolt then a dark and sadistic bitch" Naruto countered, returning a look of anger
The Akatsuki's eyes widened by a fraction;
And with it, the sense of death which threatened to flood the room in that instant was on the verge of making several shinobi gag and retreat into a distant corner...
Except the Kyuubi container
Who instead stared patiently back at the Dark kunoichi
"Oh please, you should know by now that doesn't work on me" said the blond shinobi, absentmindedly scratching his nose
The slits of ice had returned
"And could you stop that!" Naruto exclaimed gesturing with lone finger pointing at her and then his own eye "It got old the first time you did it!" he said in an annoyed tone
Some of the room's shinobi stared at each other at the strangeness of the scenario
The aura soon died out as though a sudden theory came to mind of the Akatsuki
"No...You wouldn't have done..." Hinata said quietly
Naruto baring a perplexed and tired expression of confusion
"You didn't tell him did you?" asked Hinata, slowly turning to face Shikamaru
Naruto snapped to attention, eyes widening slightly in recognition awake from his reverie, his defences suddenly tested and weakening in an instant
"Did you tell him?" asked the dark kunoichi, with a near frosty sense of politeness
"No I didn't" he admitted carefully
"Why not?" Hinata inquired
"Because I knew you were lying" Naruto replied steadfastly
Standing against the wall close to the Hokage, the copy Ninja's eye widened in immediate understanding…
A name mentioned when Hinata was reading the messages from her old team
The Immortal shinobi Hidan;
The destroyed shinobi Hidan
Or so it was apparently believed…
A small sharp smile crept onto the dark kunoichi's face
"Indeed…?" she hissed
"What are you two talking about?" asked the genius, his eyes shifting from old friend to old friend
Hinata turned slightly to face him, knowing that he would be already trying to find the truth himself.
"Nothing important, she just told me a lie a few days ago" Naruto said quickly, his posture remaining unmoved and calm.
The face of the shadow user was as tired as ever, but his eyes were sharp…which was intently studying his loudmouth friend's face. His father taught him how to analyse and interpret the slightest facial twitch and body language…something which a few years ago aided in discovering a male S-ranked assassin masquerading as a decrepit eighty-eight year old woman in a room with over 300 people…
But Naruto was, as ever, the exception to the old teachings
He knew Neji would agree immediately without any debate;
Naruto was near impossible to read and only allowed people to see what was on the surface, and anything which one could read was often a trap...the actual truth was unreachable…
"I think we should let Shikamaru-kun to be the judge?" asked the Akatsuki
"DON'T you dare" Naruto growled, taking a step forward menacingly
A small crystal smile appeared on the face of the otherwise emotionless kunoichi
"You believe the lie then?" she asked curiously
"No" replied the shinobi, feeling the nervous unwanted anticipation of the truth like a developing poison in his gut "But telling him would make the situation worse, especially now we got another coup breathing down out necks…but sure, believe what you want"
"Isn't accepting an obvious lie somewhat counterintuitive…?" Hinata remarked snidely
"I don't CARE; just keep your mouth shut…" Naruto said darkly "We can't have the group 'thinker' thinking about that freak…"
"Wait, freak?" Shikamaru interrupted sharply "Who are you talking about, and enough sidestepping, tell me right now!" he said with an near uncharacteristic amount of force
Which Naruto noted immediately as he was aware of the near slip up
"Don't worry about it Shika…it can wait until after we've dealt with…"
"Who?" Shikamaru repeated, interrupting him once more
Naruto paused again, his mind racing with possible options;
An idea appeared
Admittedly it was a long shot
But then again;
"Sai" he said finally
Shikamaru seemed taken back slightly
The Kyuubi container didn't need to see to know that name made several others the room also stand alert
"She said she saw Sai" Naruto said with believable certainty, he tried to keep his heart beat steady as seemingly possible, preventing Neji from noticing, and tried to keep any involuntary action from occurring on his face which Shikamaru was famous for able to discern and explain with unnatural accuracy
"She told me she saw a Root ANBU with short cropped black hair and ink scrolls holsters…" he said looking at the Akatsuki
Hinata stared back at him silently, unfamiliar with the name which all present knew…
"Who?" asked the Wind kunoichi, Gaara and Kankuro on their part seemed to looked around expectedly for an explanation
"A Root shinobi…" Shikamaru answered finally "And we all pretty much guessed that he would be alive and be part of this, Naruto" he said tiredly "That wouldn't be a lie…"
Naruto shrugged, praying that Hinata wouldn't say a thing
Shikamaru was slightly interested with his nonchalance to the matter
"Out of curiosity, tell me Hinata, which sleeve of his was covered?" he asked politely
Naruto immediately became alert
"Are you saying I'm lying Shikamaru?" he accused
Shikamaru silently looked back
Reading between the lines;
"I'm not implying anything, Hinata has never met him so she could have seen anyone" he said subtly
Naruto seemed to partially accept this
Temari on the other hand could see the friction and discontent between them
As could everyone in the room…
"I am uncertain of what you mean, Shikamaru-kun…" Hinata finally answered "All I said was that I noticed a Root shinobi slightly different to those I had seen previously…" she replied calmly "He was unaware of my presence, but he was wearing the typical garb of a Root ANBU, but his chakra signature was notably different"
She had already guessed that he would be different…especially if all present knew him by name.
The Shadow genius visibly relaxed
"Then it might have been him" he said, sighing as the scenario played in his head, he looked back at the clone shinobi "But you still could have just told us Naruto"
"He's not your problem, seeing I let him live…but it looks like that was a mistake if he's back and with Danzo again" he said
"If I recall correctly Naruto, he fought me the last time" Shikamaru reminded, remembering the sheer annoyance of the scenario;
Like desperately to predict ahead in a book which only formed letters as you read it in order…
But practically pointless
And it didn't help that Sai accomplished in wounding him, something he decided to keep secret from his overly protective, albeit slightly insane, girlfriend
He found himself involuntarily rubbing his shoulder…
"I haven't forgotten Shika, but that confused bastard was assigned to Team 7 first" Naruto said with a furrowed brow "I should just have just ignored anything out of Yamato's mouth and stuck him when I met him" he said looking directly into the eyes of his most recent team leader
"It would have been counterproductive for our mission if…" Yamato began but stopped mid-sentence as he saw what the blond prankster was doing;
Aiming a lazy right middle finger at him with a look of annoyed boredom
"Go-fuck-yourself" he said slowly before putting his hand down
"You have quite the mouth today, Naruto" said the Seal sannin, with an air of nonplus and amusement
"I suppose, but trying to justify that guy being on my team is more than I can handle" Naruto said with certainty
Kakashi raised his visible brow at the comment but remained quiet
Sakura noted the look but remained quiet
"And let's not forget the billions of 'Got wood' jokes I've got for this guy he said pointing a thumb at the Yamato, forcing a small snicker out of several of the more rambunctious of the younger shinobi
The wood user frowned slightly in annoyance.
"But back to my point, she saw Sai, end of story" Naruto summed up
Hinata's face a blank slate
But her half closed eyes told him more then he needed…
Naruto knew it too
He had backed himself into a no win situation
There was no debate about that…
Telling Shikamaru that the murderer of Asuma still somehow lived, not mention the question of how someone can survive being literally blown to pieces, he would be too distracted to focus on the battle coming up…
Against an opponent which could actually catch the already legendary shadow genius himself by surprise
That he recalled actually did
On the other hand;
If Shikamaru had found out he had been lying to him;
About Hidan of all people…
He didn't need to know what would happen
It would not only severely damage if not destroy their friendship…
Like he had already done to three other members of the old Konoha 12
Thinking of a certain lost Uchiha, a medic savant and a dark kunoichi...
But to the point
And kami forbid if Hidan actually lived…
Naruto slowed his heartbeat
It was impossible for something that big to get past the famed Shadow genius
He breathed quietly
All the while maintaining the unreadable stance he had fine tuned over years of practice
He knew he had to tell him
But for the greater good of the village he needed to keep quiet;
He never liked the idea
It was an overly oily excuse used by too many to answer for truly terrible things they did.
And it completely against everything he believed in.
He repeated in his mind that he had no choice
Naruto focussed on the scroll that Hinata had brought.
One which he had not known existed
"So what's in the scroll?" he asked the village head and his most recent teacher
Tsunade looked down on the Root scroll
"It lists possible areas of resistance and points where efficient forward bases could be established and easily protected…" she said carefully "But most of it is too…"
"Risky?" Naruto asked
"Obvious…" Tsunade answered catching the blond clone user unaware "The defensible capabilities of the areas described are understandable and we have secret passages linking to every one of them…something which the Root are more than aware of due to simply being previous leaf shinobi…anyone have an idea for why that might be?" she asked the room, her eyes travelling from one young face to another and eventually leading to the strategists in the room.
"There is more than one can see through their eyes" answered the dark kunoichi drawing the eyes of everyone.
"Shikamaru-kun" she said simply without turning to face him
The shadow genius understood the request quickly and calmly walked towards the desk
"I'll take it for analysis then…" he began
"No" said the Akatsuki with an air of absolute authority, turning to face him
"Study it here, now" she said simply, her collar was open to reveal her whole face rather than previous encounters from being veiled by her coat's collar, but her vision was still sharp and the shadow genius could practically feel the piercing stare like needles on bare skin.
Shikamaru looked at the village leader for allowance
Tsunade waited for a moment as she thought of the reasons…and eventually nodded
Nowhere was safe at the moment...
Shikamaru nodded in kind and moved to hover over the scroll and began studying the writing intently.
Coming to a feasible conclusion in seconds
He shook his head
"It was made to look this easy…the Root seem to only trust their true shinobi with the actual information" he said shrewdly
"Then why would an inaugurated to-be kunoichi have it then?" Hinata inquired, her curiosity didn't lose its ice like tone
"I believe that, whatever the message is hiding would have been made clear after the necessary…changes, have taken place following success in joining the Root, which raises questions of how they are recruited or what is exactly done to them following…" Shikamaru said darkly
An attentive sigh was heard at the room's head
"It is true that the Root's training methods have always been a well-kept secret to all…" admitted Jiraiya "And I doubt even the Third had any real idea of what Danzo was capable of doing…"
"I've on occasion had time to study various blood samples of Root shinobi…" Tsunade said "Suffice to say that they often have…irregularities…"
Shikamaru listened intently and went ahead with his original plan of deciphering the scroll and opened the scroll fully, its entirety travelling off both sides of the Hokage's desk with ease
Placing his left hand flat on the scroll, he let out a small drown out breath from his nose as he spread his fingers. Near immediately, ink like shadows remained and spread like liquid to the rest of the scroll.
Shikamaru closed his eyes
He waited for the necessary signs…
"So?" Temari asked from behind him "Anything?"
"Not yet" he replied
In the shadow…
"Temari could you please just SHUT UP, I'm trying to concentrate!" Shikamaru said forcefully looking over his shoulder to face her
The Wind kunoichi seemed taken aback but remained quiet
Shikamaru turned back
Ignoring the looks from all present
So, waiting for the necessary signs, within the shadow, along the skein
He was too agitated
"I'm sorry" he said quickly over his shoulder, making the stone face of the Wind kunoichi soften as a smile slowly appeared
He knew he was going to have to do something for her later to really make that go away
But that worked for the time being
'Alright, back to work'
Along the plains…
On the skein
In the shadow…
Almost like tiny specs of coloured lights which spoke more than their initial worth…
"Chakra infused message points...?" Shikamaru said aloud "Clever…" he admitted, he was reminded of something his father had once taught him which seemed appropriate at the moment;
'Never underestimate the significance of a pin prick'
Certainly made sense at the moment
But he approached them hesitantly
On occasion of reading an encrypted message, he was close to falling prey to points meant to lead prying eyes astray and straight into defence mechanisms that they often had
And by Defence mechanisms, he meant incendiary techniques…
Bypassing several on the way, he found what he wanted.
The message was unusually difficult to read however
Ideas which only would make sense if one would know their context…
The Shadow genius briefly wondered if the Fallen Hyuuga had this much trouble, it was near a proven fact that those with doujutsu, especially the Hyuuga apparently, were able to discern such messages with incredible speed and accuracy without even remotely leading towards any type of danger…
Shikamaru read several and the same irregularities came time and again
Words and signs which he was not able of interpreting
But a word constantly appeared;
"There is a name which constantly comes up, but has no definition of its nature or its relation to the areas described…Hinata did you read this?" he asked aloud, his eyes still closed and focussed
"Yes…and I assume you can see the same name as I did" replied the dark Hyuuga
"What name?" the Hokage inquired
"Earthblood" answered the Akatsuki quietly
There was a momentary silence in the room
"Earthblood…?" Naruto repeated curiously, folding his arms and a his brow furrowed in thought
"Or Project Earthblood to give its full name" Shikamaru added
"Hmmm Earthblood…earth blood…earth…wood maybe?" Naruto pondered out loud "blood…blood…crimson, scarlet...red…red…?" he said slowly
Before his eyes opened in horror
"Oh my…they're investing in REDWOOD FURNITURE!" Naruto exclaimed "Those TREE KILLING BASTARDS!" he roared
Everyone stared at him blanked faced
"What?" he asked politely
"Troublesome…ok Naruto I think I speak for everyone when I say 'Moving right along'…but I don't suppose you have any real ideas?" Shikamaru asked tiredly
"Well I don't remember anything the Root used which has that name…do you have any idea what that is?" Naruto asked the dark kunoichi
Hinata stared calmly back
"None…" she said "However simple analysis of the name would suggest it involves manipulation of the body to incorporate aspects likened to that of Earth jutsu…however that would not explain why that would be a well-kept secret…Earth jutsu can defeat easily enough…regardless if it is within them" Hinata summed up
"However this is mere speculation…I doubt Danzo would attempt such an absurd technique"
"I don't know, the idea of adding additional elements is disturbing enough" Shikamaru reasoned
"Enough to ensure the success of a coup when outnumbered?" Hinata countered
"Potentially" Shikamaru maintained
"No" Naruto dismissed "Danzo is a pretty determined guy, but just adding more element styles is not much of a winning strategy…it is one sure…but not enough to win"
"This is the Root remember?" reminded the genius
"That's why the idea of adding more element styles being the main thing makes no sense…I mean the idea kind of sucks if you think about it" replied the blond shinobi
Everyone in the room looked at him with the same curious brow
The loudmouth shinobi's eyes zipped from face to face and back again
"What? It's lame!" Naruto exclaimed exclaimed "Seriously, we beat them once with their shinobi doing all sorts of weird crap, adding another element style is boring!" he noted with a tired expression
"Hmm you may actually have a point Naruto" said the Toad Sannin
"He does?" Tsunade asked, staring at her old teammate in the same manner Naruto's teammates did to him
"Not to disparage the young Nara" Jiraiya said quickly "But I would imagine that Danzo would have more imagination and cunning then that…mind you the name does…ring some bells for me…I unfortunately can't quite place it…" mused the Sannin, scratching his chin in thought
Trying to link a face and name to who the concept of 'Earthblood' would make sense...
"But…" he said suddenly "We should still be careful, we now know an idea of theirs…but that can be studied for another time, I think it would be best to call it there for today" Jiraiya concluded
"Yes...except Naruto, Hinata, Neji who I would like to ask to please wait outside, everyone may leave at their leisure" Tsunade agreed "And one final thing to say;"
She sighed sagely
"Watch for Tommorrow" she said calmly
Three words which spoke volumes to all present
Watch for themselves and their comrades…the fear of Root assassinating the members of Konoha 10 was far too much a likely option…
This was also the more strategic option as many of the intelligent of them immediately realised.
As the room began to empty, Tsunade gestured silently to Kiba and Shino who nodded and left the room to perform an unknown errand, and soon only her personal students, Naruto and the black robed kunoichi remained.
"Before I forget…" Tsunade began, looking at her former agent "Hinata…could you excuse us for a brief moment, I need to have a word with Naruto…would it be possible for you to wait outside in the first meeting room on the left?" she asked politely
Hinata remained quiet
"So very eager…" she said simply shaking her head at a private joke
The idea of a Hokage commanding an Akatsuki agent was amusing in of itself
"There is something we need to discuss; we'll try to be quick…" Jiraiya added peacefully, a small smile punctuated his authenticity.
Hinata remained quiet, her crystalline eyes and carved features eerie beyond belief
She turned to leave, a wisp of smoke appeared as she summoned a straw hat in her gloved right hand, her claw like nails delicately evading damaging it, as she placed it on her head without bothering to close her collar.
She turned her otherworldly gaze at Sakura
The medic felt small traces of electricity travel under her skin
"Time is fleeting for all of us Sakura..." Hinata said darkly
"But some more than most..." she said simply before leaving the room.
The clone shinobi watched her leave
Every step of the way
Closing the door behind her she noted that her cousin was waiting obediently outside with his hands inside his sleeves, looked at her peacefully
He smiled slightly at her appearance
Hinata looked back unemotionally, silently wondering he was truly as well as he seemed…
Or if the injury was still bothering him…
She continued walking to her destination
The meeting room was 15 steps away from the Hokage office, meant for more private meetings with dignitaries, jounin and ANBU leaders.
Opening the door, Hinata noted the room was empty save a large expensive wooden table, polished to a reflective sheen, and well kept, its circular shape meant for its users to be able to see everyone with ease, and enough seats to comfortably fit 16 people.
She walked to the window, pausing briefly to place her straw hat on the meeting table, she stopped to briefly enjoy the sun filling the room with a warm glow.
It always seemed rather ironic that prior to bloodshed the world seemed so pleasant…
The sound of the door opening broke her concentration
"I was beginning to wonder when I got to meet you" said a friendly voice
Hinata remained quiet
'Surprises abound…' she thought to herself
Looking out at the window again
'And yet still so very pleasant…' she thought cynically
She briefly activated her bloodline, noting with a degree of acceptance the lack of any problems following her earlier attempt
The Akatsuki didn't accept it was gone…
She studied the newcomer
True enough her chakra signature was unchanged, if slightly greater than previously.
Silently deactivating her doujutsu, she turned to face the room most recent visitor
"Kurenai…" Hinata began…an old title almost left her lips;
Her old teacher smiled
"Well I suppose the days of you calling me Sensei are long gone…you have grown into a truly beautiful, wise and intelligent kunoichi…" Kurenai said kindly
"And you have not aged a day…" Hinata noted quietly, she was dressed in her old uniform and her face was unchanged. It seems the years apart had still been kind to her, and it certainly didn't seem that she was previously with child; she appeared as fit and strong as she had done three years prior…and it caused her some confusion that her old sensei apparently ignored the dread garb she wore…
And she certainly didn't appear to be a widow either
The Dark kunoichi wondered just how much sorrow she is holding within herself over the loss of Asuma. Indeed, she had yet to speak of the subject to the members of team 10, however it appeared that none among them showed any inclination of guilt or disturbance on the matter, especially Shikamaru who she remembered to effortlessly that he and Asuma had come quiet close as teacher and student, not quite as disturbing as Lee and Gai were universally known for but still close enough. Part of her had a dark curiosity on the matter of how the three would react if she did mention their fallen mentor.
True enough Hidan was more than willing to tell the tale
And it was also true that she first found the news of his loss to be fairly…unsurprising…
Hidan was after all an immortal
And Asuma had no real talent in genjutsu, or indeed eternal genjutsu would have been needed to stop him. Ninjutsu had little or no effect on him as he had an unnatural regenerative ability…
That would have left Asuma with taijutsu, which actually had a modicum of success considering he had managed to decapitate him;
With the aid of Shikamaru
She lingered on the thought
Asuma needed Shikamaru to accomplish defeating Hidan
…if defeat was the word one could use…
It seemed more appropriate to use the term 'Stall'
Asuma still died that day at the hands of the immortal
"Really?" asked Kurenai " I must say I feel I have aged a decade and then some, but that's sweet for you to say…and as I understand it, by the numerous duels and engagements and indeed reports about you, you are most likely the most powerful kunoichi currently in this village…" replied her old mentor before her smile changed to incorporate an unhappy realisation
"Oh, does something of my persona trouble you?" Hinata asked rhetorically, her voice an icy whisper
"It's your eyes" Kurenai said with a slow shake of her head "They seem so…"
"Dark? Dead perhaps? Or simply blank?" Hinata asked in quick succession
"Sad…" said her old mentor "So very sad…and afraid" she began
"I disallow fear, I don't accept it, or feel its pathetic cold embrace like I did in my youth" Hinata hissed, her hate filled aura returning
"You say you are without fear, but you're terrified of reverting back into who you were" countered her old teacher, feeling the ice like death instinct which many claimed hovered around her previous student like a shadow
"She's dead, betrayed by those she thought were friends and comrades, and left for dead on a battlefield, to die a slow death by those same friends who did so out of petty jealousy" hissed the dark kunoichi
"You can be as ostentatious as you want Hinata, but I could probably bet my jounin status and my forehead protector that you hate your genin days to such a degree that a return to those times would be nothing short of a nightmare for you" Kurenai summed up smoothly
"OSTENTATIOUS!" Hinata roared angrily, her mental barriers breaking with greater ease then it had done over the short time she had returned "My past is of weakness worthy of ridicule and, I LOATH IT DUE TO ITS LACK OF WORTH!"
"Exactly…" her old mentor said calmly, her arms folded as a sad sigh left her. She could practically see the air around her former student faze and shift, the odd spark travelled
"Tread lightly sensei, your child is still too young to be made an orphan" the dark kunoichi said dangerously
Hinata burned inside
Could the wench truly exacerbate her ire with such ease or read her so plainly?
To reduce her into a spoilt child who is chastised for inappropriate behaviour?
"You wouldn't kill me Sweetheart…"
"DON'T CALL ME THAT!" Hinata roared, the lightning around her flared suddenly, the sound of glass breaking as the windows were riddled with cracks at her displeasure
Kurenai seeing the damage with shocked confusion
"Alright alright…but you still wouldn't kill me…you need the, for use of a better concept, political immunity, you were most likely given in the wake of this newest threat from the Root ANBU" Kurenai said softly, treading lightly around the furious form of her former student, looking briefly at the previously undamaged windows behind her which cracked as her old students ire was fanned.
The Akatsuki herself was deathly silent
Shadows seemed to draw to her, light coming from outside bending away as though unable to approach her…her eyes like white shards in the darkness, ones which could see into her very thoughts
The anger she felt had disappeared as though it had never existed
The genjutsu expert hated that she couldn't deny that there was something deeply disturbing concerning her former student
The being before her had the power to topple the greatest shinobi of the hidden leaf as though they were mere distractions…true enough she was recently hospitalised following her most recent engagement…but only after bringing low one of the most talented shinobi in Konoha's history…
And as she heard it nearly killed him.
That thought alone frightened her beyond belief.
Her old student, the previously kind hearted and gentle Hyuuga Hinata had almost ended the life of Hatake Kakashi, the copy ninja of Konoha, student of the Forth Hokage and unanimously known as one of the greatest shinobi the village has ever trained.
Kurenai also heard that she was also capable of incapacitate both the Hokage and Sannin Jiraiya…
But what disturbed her most of all, even beyond the overwhelming sense of corrupt power;
Was the vendetta she carried...
The very concept of her old student having such a deep rooted, hate filled grudge against anything was bizarre enough, not to mention her confusing allegiance to Akatsuki…
And relationship to Uzumaki Naruto
That thought at least made her smile
Regardless of how bitter it seemed
The two loved each other…
Which made hearing the constant clashes between them all the more painful to hear
More so that Hinata was recently bested by him following forced chakra depletion…which the jounin knew was immensely painful to Hyuuga who used a direct physical change for their doujutsu and direct self chakra system manipulation for their Juuken.
"Word does spread quickly…" the dark kunoichi mused
"So you are planning to fight then?" Kurenai asked delicately
Hinata paused as though answering one who only moments ago angered her was barely tolerable
Her old sensei smiled kindly
"I'm sorry, I know I was being the critique spouting teacher type just now, but you sometimes have to be…" said the jounin kindly
Hinata's eyes narrowed
"NOT to say what happened to you was acceptable…" Kurenai said quickly, sensing the tactless nature of her last comment immediately "I admit I have not heard the whole thing but as I understand, it was nothing short of horrific"
"It was…" Hinata admitted quietly, staring out the window as though looking into the past…
"But to answer your earlier question, yes, I will be…participating…in the upcoming battle" replied the dark kunoichi "The Root attacked a year ago as I understand it?" she asked
"Yes…" Kurenai answered "It was horrible…they practically outmanoeuvred us at nearly every direction and were quite close to achieving victory"
"What held them?" Hinata inquired
"Naruto" Kurenai answered immediately
"What?" asked the Akatsuki disbelievingly
Kurenai smiled slightly
"He really turned it for us…well there was him, Shikamaru…Asuma…" she said trailing off softly
Hinata stared at the quiet form of her Sensei, practically able to see the sorrow she held at that
"Will you attend in this battle?" she asked
Kurenai remained silent at the moment
Letting out a long sad sigh, each second passing carrying a memory of its own…
"No…I have other responsibilities now" answered the red eyed jounin folding her arms as a small smile appeared
"I am assuming you mean…" Hinata began before a knock was heard at the door
"Come in" Kurenai answered
The Dark kunoichi's crystalline gaze turned slowly towards the door
'Will the irregularity of this day never end…' she thought sourly
Predicting several possible entrants
And the most logical being;
Finished with their original errand, the remnant of her old team entered with a large white canine who she realised had not met as of yet and was following in tow
And with a hamper of sorts…
Kiba and Shino entered quietly but immediately paused at the sight of her.
The pair staring between their sensei and the previous comrade
"Huh, didn't know you would be here" said the beastlike shinobi
"Kiba, we were instructed to meet Kurenai here, it is only logical that Hinata would have asked to come" chastised the hooded Aburame "Why…? He asked suddenly, looking back at his previous lost teammate
Hinata looked back emotionlessly
"Because we are team 8" Shino said finally
"Answering a question that no one asks AGAIN, Shino!" Kiba asked, annoyed
"I know, right?" Kiba said in some unknown agreement
Akamaru barked again
Kiba laughed loudly
"Probably!" he said with a grin
"What did he say?" Shino asked
"He said he wondered if you got bugs in your ears" Kiba answered with laugh
Kurenai chuckling slightly
Shino was not amused
"Man, you never laugh" Kiba said sourly
"I don't laugh, Kiba, I simply agree when asked if I find something amusing" answered the bug user plainly
"Yeah that's definitely the same thing..." Kiba said sarcastically with a nod, folding his arms tiredly.
The fanged shinobi stared as he saw his long-time beast partner calmly move over to the silent form of the kunoichi who had remained quiet on their arrival
Akamaru moved within two feet of Hinata staring curiously at the cloak, sniffing the familiar and yet unfamiliar scent
The dark kunoichi looked back unmoved
The large canine cocked his head slightly though to see from a different vantage;
Before barking happily
"Yeah it's her" Kiba answered
Akamaru then let out a sad whine as he cocked his head
Kiba looked at his old teammate
"He wants to know where you've been hiding" he said with a grin filled with enough irony to make his thoughts known
Hinata looked back at the large beast she knew well from her genin days
"I've been away…" she said simply
Akamaru looked back puzzlingly before plodding along and behind Kiba who affectionately scratched him behind his ear
Hinata slowly turned her gaze towards her old mentor...
And the small bundle of blankets she was carrying
Her eyes narrowed in thought
'I was unaware she was holding her child?' she thought to herself
True enough she hadn't known of it other than her message
But not to notice it when Kurenai retrieved it from the hamper?
Her old mentor noticed her gaze
"Oh sorry I was just doing something" Kurenai said apologetically "This little one has a knack of taking all my attention" she said with a smile, gazing into the bundle of blankets
Hinata seemed unmoved at the gesture
As Kurenai slowly shifted the soft material slightly so the child's face was showing
Hinata looked at the small face as it turned towards her
The Dark kunoichi noting the brief pause she felt at first glance
With fuzzy hair she assumed akin to her father, with the same red eyes of her mother...It seemed odd that it seemed peaceful with her sensei and her relations, yet appeared bloodthirsty among the Uchiha
But appearance wise...
It was still too early to tell to who she would be more similar to facially, a 1 year old was hardly in any position to really tell...but for the time being she certainly appeared kurenai's daughter
And that said, she silently knew that it would be preferable for a girl to largely have the facial features of her father...
Why was she thinking of children and their parentage?
It had nothing to do with the matter at hand
Whatever that was;
"What is your business with me?" asked the Dark kunoichi "And why did you bring her?" she asked, her crystal eyes staring into the child's
Who seemed surprisingly unafraid or oblivious to what they represented to every shinobi within immediate vicinity and beyond
Kurenai looked slightly confused by the question
"I actually have no real business to discuss with you, technically team 8 does not really exist anymore besides the occasional mission brief" Kurenai answered plainly "And I've taken a teaching position in the academy..." she said with a small smile
"Why...?" asked the Akatsuki, her curiosity betraying a small hint of imbalance
"Well I recently realised it is far too dangerous to go out by myself now, and now Kiba and Shino are Chuunin, we are no longer obligated to travel together" her mentor said sadly, looking into the face of her only child
Before looking back into the face of her previous student
"My only real reason for being here is to get a small chance to see you, before you head off to battle...considering I never got the chance the last time..." Kurenai said quietly
Hinata's eyes lowered at the sentiment
"That..." she began
And with it the flood of memory...
The calm quiet...
And the bitter taste of silent treachery...
Her eyes hardened
"...Is irrelevant" she hissed, the last syllable released with a forceful grit
Kurenai looked sorrowful at the comment
Kiba shifted uncomfortably as he felt the air itself respond to his old teammate's displeasure, noting in particular that Akamaru let out a sad whine as though feeling it
Shino seemed unbothered by the shift in the room
Hinata's gaze turned to her old comrades
"And what is the reasoning of you two being here?" she asked Kiba and Shino
"Well..." began the beast rider
"We were on the verge or inquiring whether or not..." added Shino
"You want to be part of Team 8 again" Finished Kiba
A frown appeared on the kunoichi's mask like face, though the suggestion was now completely alien to her
"And what benefit would that be?" Hinata asked spitefully "The power balance would be upset and I do not fight as I once did, relying on others for information in correspondence to team 8's old ethos of the location of an enemy" she said with knife like precision
"Friends don't need to be able to work together to be together" Kiba said wisely
Hinata looked at him darkly
"An old friend also stabbed me in the back and left me for dead if you recall Kiba...and I have no intention of working with a team in the coming battle...it is my current preference work alone"
"And what of her...?" exacted the Fallen Hyuuga, sharp eyes aimed at the small child
Kurenai was quiet
"Well I'm sure Kakashi delivered our messages, and I did say that you needed to meet her" she said with a smile
"Do you want to hold her?" asked the young mother, moving closer expectantly.
"No" replied the Kunoichi
Kurenai looked slightly saddened by the dismissal
"No?" she repeated inquisitively
Hinata raised a single hand from her long coat sleeves
The leather of her glove was tight against her skin, but had sizable slits for her fingers
Fingers which ended with dagger like talons...which had been used numerous times already during the course of her return to shed and draw blood...
Kurenai looked at each slowly
"You probably will need to trim those" she said with an amused grin
Hinata lowered her hand slowly
"Some other time then" Kurenai said with a sad smile "She'll be waiting" she said gesturing to her child, her face changing as a question appeared in her mind
"Actually Hinata I do have a question if I may" she asked
Hinata remained quiet and simply blinked though in agreement
"Are you going to be comfortably fighting against the Root, alongside the Leaf Shinobi?" Kurenai asked
A look of slight tired puzzlement appeared on the statuesque face of the Akatsuki
"I have no qualms with them, there is but one kunoichi who I truly reserve the entirety of my loathing" replied the Akatsuki honestly
"Really?" Kiba interjected in a confused tone
Hinata's eyes darted to him instantly
"I must agree with him..." Shino added "Of all the shinobi present in that room, your 'loathing' seems to be spread between Haruno Sakura...and Naruto"
"Yeah I mean you two were really at each other's throats in there" Kiba said cautiously, gesturing to the Hokage meeting they just had
"Animals go for the throat, Kiba..." Hinata hissed
Turning her piercing gaze at him
"It is my preference to go for one's mind and heart..." she whispered, and with it the beast like shinobi could almost feel the temperature of the room drop...
"But to answer your question, Kurenai sensei, the beauty of vengeance is that there is practically all the time in the world...so I will fight..." Hinata hissed purposefully
"And Naruto?" Shino asked politely
"What about him?" Hinata replied angrily, though the name had become a byword for interruption and distraction
"You have not explained what is to come of him..." said the Aburame, his near monotonous tone clear and direct "Has he become a target?"
Hinata pondered this for a brief moment
It was true that in the few days since her arrival, Naruto has time and again hindered her from her goal and desire...true enough she felt for him...to some unknown degree which even she couldn't quite logically explain anymore...
Was it logical to kill someone you love?
Even one with whom you had fought against?
It was also true...
That her feelings and patience for him have been severely tested since her return...
And she didn't need her eyes to tell her, that he felt close or even the same as her
What was needed to break it?
"He is...A stone..." Hinata said simply
Kiba looked confused at the concept
Shino lowered his head slightly
Understanding it fully...
A stone can ignored
A small stone can be picked up and carried with you
Or it can be placed in the palm of your hand and thrown...
Or be crushed into dust...
And a multitude of other less important reasons...
Shino could only wonder if Naruto had an important place for Hinata anymore...
"Other than that is not important" said the Akatsuki, looking out the nearest shattered window towards the still bright blue skies
"You shouldn't let someone as important as him go so easily, Hinata...you'll never know what is around the corner" Kurenai said sadly, remembering clearly the last moment she saw Asuma before he left on that tragic mission...
She remembered placing the same roses he had given to her as seeds on his gravestone...
"I assure you sensei..." her old student said quietly
Hinata slowly turned her head to look over her shoulder towards her old teacher
And with it, the remnants of team 8 noticed an unnatural shade fill the room, though a great dark sheet had blanketed the sun and a forced eclipse was eliminating the light within the room
And at its heart was the dark kunoichi
Kurenai sensing the forbidding aura that many before her had felt in her presence
"Whilst Asuma was murdered by an unfamiliar other..." said a voice in the darkness, as the sound of a blade being drawn from its holster, as the twin slivers of silver were seen, and from them a ghostly blue mist was let off though they were shards of ice.
The glowing pale eyes in the dark...
"It is not the unfamiliar Naruto-kun should fear..." she whispered sinisterly, her voice as cold as winter's breath.
There was a sound of the door opening behind them
She raised her bladed arm and swiped it horizontally, the deadly mist trailing after it
And though a curtain had been cut, the shadow disappeared and the light returned.
The three members of team 8 stared at Akatsuki agent
And the possible extent of her ability
"That was a nice trick, Hinata, can you do anything with cards?"
All eyes was drawn to the door and its newcomer
It was Naruto, looking quiet bored at the display
"When you're done here, baachan needs to talk to you...or do you want some time to finish showing off first?" he said unimpressed
The Akatsuki and the Daemon container exchanged glares
One was heated as untamed fire
The other cold as death
Naruto looked away first, instead staring at the remaining team 8
"Sorry to interrupt, sensei, just passing a message..." he said with an apologetic smile towards Kurenai
"There's no need to apologise Naruto" said the genjutsu specialist with a sad smile
Looking from him to Hinata
...and feeling the friction which she knew was building...
Naruto was staring at her child
"Hey there cutie, remember me?" he said moving towards the child and offering her a digit which she held happily before letting out an amused noise
"Yeah nice to see you too" Naruto said with a smile before gently prying his finger and heading towards the door
"See you guys later" he said looking at team 8...
And seemingly ignoring Hinata
Who was staring needles into his departing back
That the entire of team 8 noticed but remained quiet
"I will assume our business is done here?" Hinata asked serenely
"Unless maybe you want to reconsider?" said Kiba hopefully, punctuated by a bark from Akamaru
"The battle will most likely involve me fighting alongside all of you...so who knows?" Hinata said honestly
"Well that's good enough for me" said the beast user smiling
"We will meet again preferably in a short space of time" Shino said calmly
Hinata nodded before moving to retrieve her straw hat, deciding to simply carry it rather than pointlessly placing it on her head
She looked at her old sensei
"Take care of yourself, Hinata...hope to see you again soon...and that goes for you three as well!" Kurenai said first at her previously lost student and then at Shino, Kiba and Akamaru
"The future is unwritten so far..." said the dark robed kunoichi heading for the door"...So we will have to see..." she said turning
"Kurenai sensei..." said Hyuuga Hinata
The Dark kunoichi reopened the door to the Hokage office
Realising now it's only occupants were the Hokage, her students...the seal Sannin
Kakashi and the Wood user had disappeared...
Though she was certain they were still nearby...
Tsunade focused her attention
As the few remaining shinobi were left, it was the Akatsuki agent who broke the silence
"That...was uncalled for..." she said quietly
"Kurenai wanted to see you, who was I to deny her that?" asked Tsunade
"You mean other then the Hokage?" reminded Jiraiya with a mischievous smile
Tsunade growled angrily at him
Instantly telling him to stay quiet
"War calls for us to look inside ourselves in the best and worst of times...that was just another necessity which the two of you needed" Tsunade said looking back at the Akatsuki
Hinata's eyes narrowed in apparent recollection
Staring once again at her prey...
'Worst of times...' Hinata thought to herself
Seeing into the past...
A slow death...
And the best of times
Sakura's tortured expression on their first meeting.
"You may have a point, Tsunade..." Hinata agreed, with a hint of some underlying meaning
The Hokage sensing this immediately
"So...who will you now assign as Sakura's new…caretaker, I somewhat doubt the possibility that you would give me free reign" said Hinata, knowing full well that the Hokage didn't believe for a second that it would be safe for an Akatsuki agent to remain out without some degree of regulation
Tsunade remained quiet and collected as she stared back
"As a matter of fact, considering that not one of Sakura's protectors have been able to stand against you…I would believe that the safest precaution we can take is perhaps our approach towards you" she replied calmly
"Approach towards me?" repeated the dark kunoichi, she said tilting her head to one side in curiosity.
Tsunade turned to her old teammate for assistance
Jiraiya nodded once and brought out a scroll from within his sleeve. After opening it, he laid it across the top of the Hokage desk, having removed the earlier one she brought out, the dark kunoichi noted that it already had been written in, and contained the seal formula for…
"A Presence seal?" Hinata asked tiredly, fully aware of the reasoning behind it
"That's right" Jiraiya said calmly "Essentially, it's so we always know where you are, and thus making the idea of an agent of the Akatsuki working with us marginally less terrifying" he said with a smile
Hinata looked at the complex calligraphy before gazing back at the Seal master
"As you can imagine I will be giving Tsunade's pupil one too" Jiraiya continued "I think it would be better for everyone's sanity to keep you two as separate from each other as possible, and don't worry, it only pinpoints your location within 10 metres, not everything you do, so it's pretty much fine on the privacy side of things" he said, waiting patiently for the dark kunoichi's answer
The Akatsuki surprised him by not apparently giving any notion of disagreement…
"What must I do?" she said simply
The aged seal master blinked twice in surprise
While to the side, an arm folded Naruto simply raised a brow
"Well, all it will require is for you to place the tips of your fingers on the seal and move it a quarter clockwise following the direction of the seals" Jiraiya answered, pointing to the centre of the parchment and the focus for the seal
Hinata walked slowly up to the Hokage desk, all eyes watching closely.
She delicately placed her razor tipped fingers on the circle seal without cutting the
Slowly raising her head as she looked face to face with village leader who she was pleased to note had a small beat of perspiration travelled down her forehead.
The dark kunoichi slowly rotated her hand, her nails lightly scraping the parchment and desk…the ghostly pale complexion of her skin, tipped with dark talon like finger nails…likened the gesture to a venomous species of arachnid, moving to face new prey…
The calligraphy flared into life, painless glowing seals appearing on the back of the kunoichi's hand, before fading into the appearance to an ink drawn insignia,
"An appealing sign to be certain…" Hinata said with solemn acceptance, bringing it closer to her face for inspection, similarly to one studying a piece of jewellery.
"Thank you, and if you don't like it constantly showing, it'll fade away if you apply a small amount of chakra" Jiraiya said calmly with his arms folded, satisfied that seal was a success
Hidden to all, he had his doubts that such a seal could be applied to a Hyuuga…let alone one whose abilities were as, amplified, as the dark Kunoichi's were
Hinata stared at the seal and applied the amount of energy needed, without the need of her applying any physical contact, not that a Hyuuga needed it…and as promised, the seal vanished from sight
The Akatsuki lowered her hand and looked purposefully at the village leader
"Have I allowance to reside in the Hyuuga compound?" she asked curiously, betraying nothing of the importance of doing so
"I originally saw no reason why not…" Tsunade began, allowing a brief pause to prevent any miscommunication of aggression "But as a small point of concern, none in your family, in either the Main or Branch members know of your existence other than your cousin" she said indicating towards the silent form of Neji, standing sagely in the corner with his hands in his sleeves "I understand you have the capability concealing yourself against the greatest sensor shinobi the village has to offer…but I think it would be prudent for you to stay elsewhere…on the off chance Danzo sees your home a potential target…"
Hinata's eyes narrowed in thought before answering
"Where then do suggest?" she asked calmly
Tsunade felt as though she was walking a narrow line between ally and enemy at that…
The Hokage as she looked at the bored blond leaning on the wall, looking largely uninterested in the whole situation "Naruto has agreed to offer you residence"
Hinata slowly turned her head, her eyes moved a slow sharp line between Tsunade and the shinobi
Who seemed to surprise her at his lack of enthusiasm
"That will suffice…" the Akatsuki began before being interrupted
"Yeah whatever…" Naruto said with a shrug, surprising everyone as he made his way towards the door "You know where I live" he answered without a backwards look at the kunoichi before closing the door behind him
Hinata, Tsunade, indeed everyone remaining behind all shared some degree of shocked curiosity…
"Well...er..." Tsunade fumbled before collecting herself "He agrees"
"Quite so…" Hinata answered, slightly trailing off as she continued to stare at the door, briefly using her bloodline to see he was calmly walking down the corridors.
A thought came to mind
"Where is my sister?" asked the Akatsuki suddenly
Tsunade looked slightly shocked at the question
"Where is Hyuuga Hanabi?" said Hinata, turning her cold gaze towards her
"She is currently unconscious" Tsunade answered
Hinata was silent
Jiraiya from the side could sense the hidden discomfort
"She is currently recovering, so we had her placed into a type of restorative hibernation" he said calmly
Hinata's eyes narrowed questioningly
"She wasn't hit as hard as Shikamaru was..." Jiraiya began
"All I did was put her to sleep, I did not place a genjutsu on her" interrupted the Akatsuki
"Either way, she's having some serious nightmares" Jiraiya said sagely "The type you get when you go through something truly traumatic" The Seal user wondered if the nightmares were caused by the possibility of losing her older sister for a second time...
Intense grief had that effect on people, remembering what Naruto went through...
A small amount of confusion appeared on the face of the otherwise mask like visage of the Dark kunoichi
"But to answer your original question, she's safe, hidden out of sight and reach of Danzo and the Root, I personally made sure of that" Jiraiya assured "Now she's just a little sleeping beauty..."
Everyone in the room looked sharply at him, none more so then the Dark kunoichi
"Yeah I didn't think I could pull that off either..." he admitted, scratching his head embarrassed "sorry about that..."
"Is there anything else that needs to be done?" Hinata asked
"No, but allow me to be the first to thank you for your cooperation and assistance in this" Tsunade said formally
"I am not doing this for you, Tsunade" said the dark kunoichi "You would do well to keep that in mind" she said forebodingly
Tsunade decided to not respond for a moment and instead asked a question of her own
"May I ask what you plan to do? She asked courteously
The dark kunoichi thought about this for a moment
Looking at the sun's position outside to judge the time;
"I will retire at the Hyuuga compound for the time being and then relocate to Naruto-kun's apartment in a few hours" answered Hinata, before pausing to look at her cousin
"What was the purpose for you to wait behind?" she asked him
The Hokage answered for him
"Well, we guessed that you would want to go back to the compound first, so I asked Neji to wait behind as an escort" Tsunade said with a smile to the genius Hyuuga for his iron clad sense of honour and obedience.
...Much more so then a, to remain nameless, blond shinobi who is becoming more and more difficult to manage since the long lost Hyuuga had returned home
She found she didn't have the heart to blame him
Or the young kunoichi before her
OR her own student
The blasted psychopaths under the banner of the red cloud came to mind instead
"I do not require an escort..." Hinata said resolutely
"Not to remind you where you live, Hyuuga Hinata, but rather if Root were to attempt anything on route" Tsunade said quickly
The dark kunoichi's eyes narrowed
'And give me a guide that I am most likely wouldn't wish to harm in any way...' she thought 'Well played...cow...' she thought irately
"Oh and there is one more thing I wanted to discuss with you..." Tsunade said clicking her fingers in recollection
The Akatsuki waited silently
Hiding her impatience and annoyance at the constant delays
"Will you be fighting dressed like that?" asked the Hokage asked
Hinata raised a brow at the inanity of the question
"I think what my highly illustrative old teammate is trying to say..." Jiraiya said with some humour as Tsunade lightly slapped his arm...
Which he couldn't help but notice was actually quite painful
"That while we, your old friends and teammates may not mind your appearance, other Leaf shinobi may find you wearing an Akatsuki cloak something far less...appealing..." Jiraiya said lightly "We were wondering if you had anything else?"
Slowly, she raised a solitary hand, the tips of her middle and forefinger glowed blue and placed it over her figure revealing cloak, over where her heart would be
Instantly, like a drop thrown on still water a blue ripple of chakra travelled across her fearful black Akatsuki robe, it reverberated travelling its length before it seemed to hit several other points, each causing a ripple of their own. The red clouds travelled together as though they were each a petals thrown into a moving stream, travelling clockwise behind the kunoichi and out of sight. The black of the cloak followed suit..but this travelled dark flames having been extinguished...
And in their place came instead the purest white;
As though none of the bloodshed the Akatsuki had perpetrated had existed in the first place.
On the upper portion of her torso a strange phenomenon occurred
Glowing seals appeared, which surprised everyone that the cloak did not catch fire from, burned complex calligraphy on both sides on the upper portion of the cloak, being neatly bisected by the front of the cloak whilst being identical on both sides.
The seal master observed these new signs with professional interest
They were seal was an amalgamation of power, protection, negation and absorption seals in one...
Jiraiya realised that the young kunoichi had done this to properly discern the difference between the cloak now and the Akatsuki appearance...
This way, it had more the appearance of something the Hyuuga were famous for creating;
Weaponry and clothing which actually manipulated chakra further then their original purpose
The Seal Sannin couldn't help but remember the large number of katana which the Hyuuga compound contained, all of which did exactly this
The Hyuuga was not quite done though
Reaching into her jacket she drew an odd white mask and fixed it to the lower portion of her face...
Tsunade and Jiraiya raked their minds for when they had seen...
They simultaneously remembered
Looking at each other in recollection
Remembering the numerous formal gatherings they had both attended in their time where the Hyuuga were also present;
It belonged to her mother
The half mask fit neatly one her face, covering below her chin, her entire jaw and extended to reach just before her ears. The mask allowed the wearer room to speak, or indeed shout, easily and fitted comfortably on the bridge of the nose.
Though it had the appearance of smoothed white ceramic, Jiraiya knew that he wouldn't be surprised if it had some of the Hyuuga craft was incorporated in it on a millimetre level.
The appearance was of a female with a serene and light sense of joy on the verge of speaking, which allowed for a small space where word could be easily heard
Finally the Dark kunoichi placed the straw hat on her head as though to finish the change
Sakura noticed that now she looked less like a malice wreathed psychopath...
And now had the appearance likened to a Wraith
Or a witch...
The thought sent shivers running though her
She also noticed that either name wouldn't necessarily be out of place with what she was capable of accomplishing
"Does this satisfy you?" asked the Witch
The young medic snapped out of her thoughts, realising that she had fallen sway to her own fears as easily as she had when Hinata was garbed as a traditional Akatsuki agent
"It's certainly impressive..." said the Hokage, examining the new attire form a distance, realising that it could inspire a different type of morbid thinking as easily as it did previously
"The seal is indeed an ingenious concept, something from the Hyuuga I'm assuming?" asked Jiraiya
"Yes..." whispered the ghost like kunoichi, her words clear as though the mask was not present
"Now...unless you have anything else to discuss...?" said Hinata making her way towards the door
"Actually I have only one more thing to say..." Tsunade said, causing the Hyuuga kunoichi to pause before the door;
"Take care of yourself" she said peacefully
The Akatsuki agent turned slightly to look at her...
Before staring once more at her prey...
Sakura felt as though the old horror stories of her youth were coming to life in her stare...
Hinata's eyes narrowed a fraction in apparent amusement before opening the door
Neji moved from where he was standing and bowed once to the Hokage before leaving after his cousin
With the door closed and a suitable amount of time had passed, Jiraiya looked at his old teammate
"That young lady is full of surprises" she said with a grin and slow shake of his head
Tsunade slapped his arm again
Neji and Hinata had returned to the Hyuuga compound and the pair separated for the time being and headed their own individual routes
Neji went to find Tenten
Hinata to her own bedroom
On arrival she removed her mask and placed it within her new cloak, before hanging it calmly on a stand she recalled used to hold her childhood jacket, removing her wrist blade holsters and gloves and placing them near at hand.
The kunoichi decided to simply stay in her dark coloured shirt and shorts which left her stomach bare save her fishnet undershirt which she wore under her cloak.
Hinata decided to spend some time in meditation before collecting her belongings and heading towards her temporary place of 'residence'
Sitting cross legged on the portion of the floor where her meditation mat was placed she noticed she found it difficult to actually stay calm
Her mind raced with the day's events.
Her defeat and ultimately her recovery
The meeting and the rather amusing fabrication that Naruto had told Shikamaru of her meeting someone she had no knowledge of
The necessary actions which were to take place
And though she would never admit it out loud...
The suggestion of not informing the villagers was an uncomfortable one
She did not desire their deaths, and even she disliked the possibility of Danzo attacking the village regardless of whether the villagers were safe or not
With a weapon she had no real understanding of
The name had a far greater meaning then the sum of its parts...
She had no way to know what the Root was planning
Breathing out slowly
Hinata wondered if...
She paused again
Blinking once as though an obvious reminder appeared in her thoughts
She was supposed to be meditating
Yet she found it...
Too many thoughts causing a cacophony in her mind
Hinata never found it difficult
True, her next meeting with Naruto-kun would certainly be a heated affair, and the possibility of battle the next day was certainly of some attention...but she never remembered sitting where she was and...
Not be at peace
The harshest of training and most bitter days of her youth didn't cause this feeling to happen...
Something was wrong
There was a slow build of anticipation in her heart
Hinata stared at her door across from where she was sitting;
Something was very wrong
It was not only that...
Now she actually realised it;
The Hyuuga compound always had a scent of clean, well maintained beauty, from the large gardens filled with roses and other flowers to the aromatic fragrances which were through the burning of incense and genuine cleanliness...
A doctor's medical store which was not maintained or hygienically sanitary, with the scent of numerous medicines scattered around the room in the middle of summer...
She slowly arose, using her chakra strings to wear her holsters and gloves, attaching to their correct position seamlessly
Opening the door, she noticed that the scent was amplified
The compound felt wrong...
What was that?
Neji noticed it shortly after entering the Hyuuga dining areas, on way to one of the training halls where he and Tenten agreed they would meet.
The air itself seemed...
Though something had somehow managed to disturb the sanctity of the Hyuuga's ancestral home and it in turn retreated in itself...
And the scent of artificial substances and ammonia was overpowering
It was in the afternoon but shadows covered large areas of the hallway
Neji activated his bloodline
Scanning the entire compound
Something was clearly amiss
There was nothing
He noted that there was no genjutsu or airborne pathogen to explain the scent, eliminating his original theory that the Root had introduced some type of poison in the compound's air system.
If there was something he would see it...
The realisation making his heart skip a beat;
He noticed only one person's chakra signature!
And it wasn't Tenten!
Where was she!
Was SHE STILL ALIVE!
The chakra signature appeared before on the other end of the corridor
Deactivating his bloodline he saw the origin
It was Hinata
He slowed his breathing
Keeping his heart rate in check
His training as a jounin coming back
Hinata calmly walked up to him, sensing his discomfort
"You sense it don't you?" she asked calmly, she seemed alert and aware as he was
"Yes..." Neji said simply
"What is the matter?" Hinata asked curiously, looking around the immediate area "Where is Tenten, did she come here?" she asked, suddenly aware of the cause of his distress
"I don't know... she said she would come straight here after the meeting" Neji said uncomfortably
Hinata remained silent, searching the area they were standing
They were in a square shaped walking area, the open sky shone light on a gravelled floor in the middle
It was quiet
Far too quiet
"Something is here" Hinata said in a whisper
Neji nodded slowly
A noise appeared to the corridor to the left
The pair saw something
Something that looked almost like...a heel...
It was bare
And it was pale
Then the two Hyuuga realised with a degree of horror
It was staring right at them
And they didn't even notice...
They couldn't see it...
With their bloodline
Hinata slowly drew her blades and held them at the ready before slowly moving down the hall, Neji dropping into a Juukin stance followed next to her
They paused at the turning
Neji realised with some fear that they were now in the Branch members section of the compound
The chemical smell was beyond belief
Neji looked at Hinata who looked back
He brought out three fingers in for timing
They stood ready
Hinata brought her arm back
The pair moved like lightning turning the corner
They scanned the area...
No sign nor indication of where that...thing...had gone...
Neji heard the sound of a door closing by itself though left open and was moving by the wind
He swallowed hard
The room was his
And he closed it when he left...
A small distance away he saw the Branch members gathering room was wide open...
As the door was torn violently torn from its hinges
Like something had been thrown though it
The room was octagonal shaped and each angle had shelves of books
The angle opposite the door's shelves side had fallen and there was a pile of broken wood, texts and what looked almost like...
"Tenten!" Neji exclaimed, exhorting all his will power from rushing over to her...
Where was the perpetrator?
Briefly activating his bloodline he noticed with shock and terror that he couldn't see Tenten's chakra signature
Though she was not there
But no genjutsu was present
He looked at his cousin
Hinata was staring at almost open door
"Nii-san, go and assist Tenten" she said simply, moving towards the door "It is safe at her location"
Neji paused for a second before slowly making his way over to her
Hinata was standing in front of Neji's bedroom door which she knew opened outwards
She briefly saw Neji moving the pile books and extracting the form of Tenten;
She was stirring
But a bit worse for wear if the torn cloths and scuffed front from where she had been struck with blunt force
Activating her bloodline briefly, she noticed she still was unable to see her
'Curious...' Hinata thought
Staring back at the door she stood a metre away it
The kunoichi kicked it open and stood at the entrance
It was empty
The perpetrator was not present but her vision was drawn to a hanging form, seemingly attached to the ceiling.
A Hyuuga shinobi of the branch members
One of Neji's relatives...
His face etched in his last terrified moment of agony
The usual white eyes of Hyuuga wide
His mouth in a silent scream...
What was most unusual the face, in fact his whole was horrifically gaunt, the bones clear under his skin though he was drained
Hinata saw 4 puncture wounds in his chuunin jacket...
He was drained alive...
A memory came back
She recognised him...
Sadness she didn't know she still had filled her and a single tear travelled down her face.
She walked up to him and placed a solitary hand on his chest
Her gaze going to the ground as her eyes closed involuntarily
His name was Ko
In her earliest years he acted as a caretaker for her, bringing her to the academy every morning and picking her up and escorting her home every evening, whilst genuinely asking how her day was...
He was a kind hearted, good natured man who took care of her without the demands of anyone...
Her gaze went upwards to his face...
And the noose which held him...
But it wasn't a noose...
At least it wasn't made of rope
On closer inspection she realised it was thin and red...with the consistency of...
The noose was made of veins...
And they didn't belong to Ko...
But was used with disturbing precision to hang him with the end strands actually digging into the ceiling and into the Hyuuga
Hinata reached up and used her blades to cut him down, catching him easily...
He weighed nothing...
He was near literally a sack of bones
Reaching for a nearby clean piece of cloth that Neji was on the verge of using to clean the desk, Hinata placed it on his face
She found she couldn't stand being in the room with him and left to stand beside the entrance
Looking sideways Hinata saw that Tenten had regained conscious and was consoled by Neji, but appeared unable to speak for the time being
Hinata and Neji locked eyes
He saw the sadness in her face and rushed over
"I am sorry Neji Nii-san...It was Ko" she said dejectedly not wishing to see the expression on his face looked away
She waited as Neji saw his uncle...
Neji dropped to his knees
His face was hidden
And he was holding onto the door frame for some support, his left hand shielding his eyes as he took several quick breaths
Hinata activated her bloodline once again
Noting that Tenten's chakra signature was now noticeable, but had traces of some foreign substance in her system
She walked towards Tenten who saw the form of Neji and looked at her face for information
She couldn't give it...
A heavy footfall was heard
Hinata and Neji leapt up and stared down the corridor right of the branch members meeting room...
8 metres away
Fading away in shadows
Without eyes, ears or mouth...
Its skin white as bone
It turned to 'stare' at Neji
Then a voice
A tortured, unnatural and unholy voice
Though someone was attempting an intake of breath through a tight, strangled windpipe;
Before fading into nothing
Even the shadows that hid it had disappeared, showing the actual well-lit hallway where it had been
Neji was quiet, still staring into the nothing where it had gone
But Hinata knew;
The Root may decide to wait...
But the battle had begun
And they had drawn first blood...
Authors Note: Deep breaths aaaaand...
MOOOOOOOOOOOOONSTER CHAPTER! CHAPTER! Chapter...!
(Both size and quiet literally XD)
Unreal tournament reference FTW!
But a long wait demanded a long chapter...but I hate largely talking chapters so I can't say I'm pleased with it overall, some parts sure, but largely too much talking
I actually found that last portion creepy to write that in dark XD
MANGA SPOILERS FOLLOWING!
MANGA SPOILERS FOLLOWING!
MANGA SPOILERS FOLLOWING!
MANGA SPOILERS FOLLOWING!
Yeah I lied :)
Holy crap, I've got a lot to talk about
Again, I would suggest not reading the whole thing in one sitting as it bore you to tears
But its slightly brief so it should be relatively quick
From chapters 548-584 (Ill just Keep to the important stuff)
Did I ever tell anyone that I actually really like Nagato and Itachi?
Especially the latter who is my favourite Akatsuki
I think Itachi is awesome (Even with what I did to him in my story XD)
Yeah he has changed, Nagato
AWESOME FIGHT SCENES!
Sorry Bee, you'll have to try a little harder
Samehada: Can store your weapons AND cut through fireballs...wouldnt use that thing in the kitchen though...
(Probably start eating the fridge whole)
Ok...I originally didn't want to say this but...
Does Kishimoto have some kind of obscure vomit fetish or something!
Think back for a second, jutsu being used from mouth, Animals coming out AND IN!
Moving along ¬¬
...Wow, Itachi is really in a league of his own huh?
It's the guy Itachi lied about!
And he was a crazy powerful genjutsu user...
Sorry Itachi, the idea kind of failed
Aw he's cool
Yikes, Nagato has the combined powers of ALL his previous Peins
Even the mechanical puppet guy!
Lord, not that moon thing again!
Someone kill it
TRIPLE TEAM ATTACK!
Beast bomb, the Resen-shuriken and Yasaka's Magatama
Cool move Itachi
...Sad last words :(
Good bye Nagato, you were AWESOME!
(even if you did stab Hinata and give ALOT of Naruhina fans, including myself, a heart attack XD)
Itachi is coming for you :)
Man I really feel sorry for Naruto actually, he's trying to single-handedly to stop a WAR!
Yeah listen to the guy who came an ANBU leader at age 13 (Still shocking me actually XD
i.e. DONT try to single-handedly stop a WAR!
Sorry couldn't help it
Aww Uncle Bee :) (I know I've said that before but still makes me smile)
Man the dead Mizukage cracks me up
"IVE ALREADY TOLD YOU TO ATTACK ME!
Hah the Tsuchikage back crack still funny
Yikes, multiple Rasengans to the chest
I didn't mean to win!
Dude you're a KAGE!
Wow the dead Raikage is powerful
Sorry I thought I was reading something immensely boring
Sasuke is stro...zzzzzzzzzzzzz
Yes yes, new sharingan, everyone is happy...¬¬
But the black flame arrow idea is intriguing...
REVERSE...Miss again...POINT BLANK HIT!
Yep he's strong
Lightning covered fingers!
XD (I know that sucked but again, couldn't help myself)
He fought the 8 tails by himself?
And beat it!
Maaan thats freaky (Still prefer the Forth Hokage though XD)
TAILED BEAST BOMB!...fail
Not yet then...
Huh RUBBER element!
...BAD TIME FOR A PEE BREAK BEE!
Didn't think we would see that again
And...at the elbow...
He gave himself one truly epic finger! XD
Ha...he fingered himself XD
Wow, good thinking from Naruto though
Gaara's Losing! D:
Huh the Mizukage is VERY strong
Shot through the neck!
OLD MAN! D: D: - Damn that was close !
Well I would probably be freaked out if I saw that huge face after apparently thinking I beat it XD
Exploding oil clone thing!
Cant beat the gold dude
Hah, golden duckling
Oh common that dead Tsuchikage guy is still mobile!
Yeah they do make a nice duo huh?
But wait - Beat down!
Hinata is gets hit!
Nope its a Zetzu
Wow this is getting slightly nerve wreaking
The REAL Hinata is going to be killed! D:
AWESOME HERO BLOCK!
Who is that guy summoning now...?
Kiba please...stop smelling Naruto...X(
Awww :3 (AGAIN!)
Hinata, it's ok, we're all still crazy about you
"It's in your eyes!"
HAH big fish guy got eaten by an ink tiger XD (On a side note, going to have a lot of fun with Sai in my story)
RUN UP AND fall...
Nicely done Naruto..DONT YOU REMEMBER ITACHI JUST SAID!
READ A FEW LINES ABOVE THIS SENTENCE TO REMEMBER!
But Naruto is STILL whopping ass all over the battle :D
ITS UCHIHA MADARA! D: D:
'ang on a tick!
Looks at the man formerly known as prince I MEAN Madara
'oos this then?
(hopefully I dont have to tell anyone that was 'Hang' and 'Who')
Beyond his prime...?
A frightening thought to be certain
Now THAT is a powerful shinobi, A wall of flame And dozens of butchered people
GIANT BALL RASENGAN!
...and his Susanoo looks terrifying
RASEN-SHURIKEN TO THE FACE!...Aaaand Madara has the Rinnegan...?
Don't do anything crazy old man!
Dang the Tsuchikage is going to kill me first from suspense
Now Madara can control wood...nice...
Wow even the Kyuubi doesn't like him!
And he's even helping!
A mob of Giant B R's ! (Please think what that means XD)
Yeah, go team!
Tsunade, PLEASE don't kill yourself ok?
Yeah, go small fish swordsman, also known as Chou-Jirou
Boom and Madara STILL lands safely, the other guy lands HARD
Haven't seen that in AGES
OH YEAH 5 KAGE!
Fight starts and Madara gets punched into a pile of Lava- Susanoo save!
Lightning Chop – Susanoo Save!
And a terrifying move from Madara
HA the sand woman is on top of the clag golam
Raikage "I can fly!"
I can almost imagine the Susanoo saying "MY RIB!"
WIN X 5!
Oh boy the Jinchuriki are strong
Ah Yugito, Hidan and Kakuzo thrashed you
'Madara..' heeey that's my name!
(Silence in the audience with the occasional cricket chirp)
Yeah thanks for the anticlimactic name
IM GOING TO TEAR THE MASK OFF YOUR FACE!...please do Naruto (Ha, yeah booooooy!)
TAILS, TAILS EVERYWHERE!
She can fly!
Yeah he totally didn't know about the link vision thing huh?
Rat hair ball?
QUIT CHECKING OUT YUGITO'S BREASTS!
SHE'S DEAD FOR GOD SAKE! XD
Moving along ¬¬
BOOT TO THE FACE...ouch
Eight tails Beast form!
Funny ink clones holding the carriers
Ok the awesome cloaks are back
Naruto got grabbed...
KAKASHI AND GAI!
Tobi fading away as usual...
SASUKE ENTERS THE BATTLE...who really cares!
Eight tales got hurt!
Huh the Five tails tried to break free and actually spoke!
Eight and Nine tails convo!
Second strongest after me..?
I'M GOING TO SLEEP!
Comedic genius right there XD
Gai and Kakashi back to back!
MORNING PEACOCK AND LIGHTNING CHAIN!
Naruto is going to get eaten!
I must say I like the Kyuubi's personality
The badass rogue who bows to no one XD
So every container or controller of the Kyuubi kept him under guard
But not Naruto?
HE GOT EATEN!
Ha Naruto didn't know which part of that was his actual name XD
Cool name (And not the least bit coincidental that the Dragonball z had its people turning into apes)
But cool name anyway!
Seriously? No one has ever apologised to a Bijuu before?
Well well well..
So that's the Nine tails' real name
Also a cool name
You're kind of talking to a kindred spirit there Son...
I say kind of ¬¬
You clearly have no idea who you are laughing at...
Ok maybe Naruto has a thing for vomit as well XD (His struggling and Idea faces was hilarious)
Man what must be going through Tobi's mind seeing that
The Stakes! GET THE STAKES !
(Man I loved that Naruto/Neji fight)
And overkilling the stakes much...?
Yes he was serious!
Giant fist pound! :D
...hey old dude :|
Ok five full size Bijuu
Kakashi and Gai: "Well...
The pair looked at the odd form of Khain255 who appeared from nowhere
"What I can help!"
The pair: "NO!"
Me" oh pleeeese! I'll use my over the top Author powers to make us invincible!
Kakashi and Gai" STILL NO!
Me: no fair!
Ok fine, I'll stick to writing then :(
Is the Kyuubi willing to cooperate?
GIANT KYUUBI FISTPOUND!
Gate lock coming undone;
Time to unleash...
Don't you dare trigger the 8th gate Gai! D:
5 Bijuu Dama's...reflected?
Wow, Naruto looks awesome like that
Hah, Godzilla reference
Naruto and the kyuubi took on 5 bijuu dama's all at once!
Yeeeeaah I think the Nine tails saying he is the strongest may have not been all that far exaggerated after all
Fancy meeting you lot here!
Ha Kyuubi made Naruto remember the Sasuke kissing incident
And made every male Naruto reader/watcher cringe at the memory which included me! X(
The four tails carrier remembered his name :)
4 tail Son Goku and Roushi
2 tail Matatabi and Nii Yugito
3 tail Isobu and Yagura
5 tail Kokuou and Han
6 tail Saiken and Utakata (Who was in a Naruto filler arc interestingly enough)
And 7 tail Choumei and Fuu
...Rest well guys :(
AWWWWWW baby Bijuu!
...I'm not actually sure if I find that adorable or terrifying
Or both XD
And they're STILL huge
Choji looks pretty cool thin
EPIC nose bleed from Inochi
Dang it Hinata, stop making me go:
She wants to stand beside him and hold his hand!
RUN LIKE THE WIND GUYS!
Hah, slightly stupid Naruto and slim Choji!
Hey everyone look...it's the boring Uchiha brother!
Karin has some severe emotional problems...or does she?
Yeah she totally does
I LIKE CUTTING THINGS IN TWO!
Ohhhh hidden store room, and of course he doesn't read the scroll out loud ¬¬
Yeah yeah, Sasuke wins a fight and ends it with a death threat that its intended target couldn't possibly hear
Eyes eyes eyes...lord thats getting old!
Ok Madara is uber powerful
HAH the old Tsuchikage had a moustache like a brush!
Woops lost the stone!
I have to say I love the Dust techniques
The guy has the first Hokage's face on his chest!
So he's a mix of the two of them
And he's a sexist punk
I didn't know that rule about medic nin but I'm going to ignore it
Tsunade has a new ability which breaks the rule!
She got him...!
Sasuke: I SAID WAIT (Uses Susanoo hand...!)
Itachi: SUANOO BITCHSLAP!
Itachi: Not NOW SASUKE!
Man that whole conversation made me laugh
Itachi had Sasuke beat!
Birds in the face!
(I know this doesn't follow in the manga but lets keep the sides separate)
Itachi: KNOCK KNOCK!
Hole in the wall
NOT GOING TO STOP THE HOKAGE THAT EASILY!
THERE, five clones for each Hokage, happy now!
I forgot about Anko!
Dang it Sasuke!
Stop thinking with your (Censored)!
We need him!
Well said Itachi XD
Hah, Dr Snakes
Under the hood?
Nagato and Karin are related to Naruto?
And they're from the Uzumaki clan!
And he has the water ability of Suigetsu, the nature ability of Juugo and the Healing of Karin...
That's...pretty cool actually
Hah, a giant snake smoking a pipe (Not sure why that looks weird when we earlier had giant frogs smoking but still)
Sasuke takes a miss – EPIC FAIL!
(Incidentally I love the word 'EPIC')
Kabuto is a Snake Sage?
Which is called a dragon apparently ¬¬
That's kind of awesome
And he has a giant snake coming from his stomach?
He was trying to eat Sasuke!
Itachi: Hey bro?
I: Remember when we tried to catch that giant pig!
S: Yeah it was awesome!
I:Yeah lets do it!
Kabuto, me and everyone else who saw that: O.O
And it still failed!
The thing which you tried as young children didn't work on a S rank enemy?
Kabuto...who wouldn't say no you You?
The ability to decide destiny!
Hah, Sasuke is a guinea pig
And Itachi blocked the spikes going for him and got stuck instead
So he was adopted
And his name means Helmet...
How can two people wear the same glasses!
Hmmm he made the greatest of mistakes in his life by being the one healing Orochimari's arm
And there's DANZO!
Being a little (Censored)
And Orochimaru is with him?
Wow, Kabuto has been everywhere
Ouch, harsh...he killed that Nonou woman :( who didn't recognise him?
Certainly not a face you want to see come from a pool XD
Wow, the Root were a real evil bunch huh?
Ahhh the horrifically disgusting things Orochimaru used to do just came flooding back
..I really wish they didn't
And the long history of Sound comes back
He pumped that stuff into HIS VEINS?
Wow the word limit skyrocketed at that, but the portion with the actual story is STILL not past my chapter 10 XD
I'm may decide to write my next chapter faster so I don't have to do that again
But just as a point of interest...
Keep your eyes my profile over the next few days :)
(And also I have the next chapter more or less planned, which is actually not what I want you to look for; these chapters take ALOT of time to write)
Take care everyone :)
And don't forget to rate the chapter!