The Hokage's Will
Chapter Fifteen: Inverse
Sasuke was fortunate to have escaped with a hair's breath. That punch that Sakura did shattered the log he replaced himself with. He looked around, seeing Sakura chase after him like a rabid blood hound. Sasuke cursed as he backpedalled as fast as he can, as he then jumped to the grove that surrounded the metropolis like village of Ame, Sasuke used his arm and grabbed a strong branch, he swung to his right feeling his weight almost tearing his arm off, he let go off the branch as he landed on a sturdy trunk. Just as he saw Sakura's back exposed, he lit up his Chidori for a second before feeling the effects of Kabuto's poison encroaching his system. Sasuke coughed blood as the sound of chirping of his jutsu was immediately noticed.
Sakura, for her part, flipped in mid air and landed on another sturdy trunk, her knees bent as her weight shifted downwards before giving a tremendous leap at Sasuke.
Sasuke immediately saw this with his Sharingan, as the pinkette dashed towards him, her hand glowing in blue chakra as she was about to deliver a devastating punch. Inwardly cursing, Sasuke ran up the trunk and jumped to another one, as the tree that he stood on before, shattered from the immense power that Sakura had used.
'This is like the time when I faced Gaara in his demon form… She's putting the weight lower for a higher output in velocity in using Shunshin no Jutsu, if I hadn't dodge in time, I would've seriously died. It's a good thing that the start up of that technique is slow compared to my speed and too linear that it's too predictable.' As Sakura stood on another branch, this time on the same level with Sasuke, the Uchiha had one thought in mind,
'I can't underestimate her.'
"Sasuke-kun… Back then when you said, 'Thank you', what did you truly mean when you said that?" Sakura asked, as she squatted down and started pumping chakra to her legs.
Sasuke only replied, "It's not for you to know."
Sakura closed her eyes for a moment and jumped back, she descended to the ground below, escaping Sasuke's vision, he had noticed it though, Sakura was avoiding full on eye contact. He inwardly grinned, the perfect technique to disable a person happened to be a technique Sakura wanted to avoid, it seemed that only an Uchiha or a perfect jinchuuriki was able to counter such a powerful Genjutsu.
Silence fell in the grove, as the rustles in the leaves swayed from the wind that it brought. Sasuke remained unmoving, trying to feel Sakura with her chakra. He tried to concentrate as he forced himself to feel something that would indicate a movement of the girl. It was then that he heard a powerful rustle; Sasuke looked to his back as leaves fell from the ground, another rustle and Sasuke turned around, the fallen leaves dancing as they descend to the ground. His Sharingan started looking around, feeling the rustle was Sakura's movement, it was like she was moving to his blindsides like a ricochet jumping and changing directions every trunk that would ever get in her way.
It was then that Sakura had appeared above, her skin as black as ash once again, as she descended on Sasuke her right leg extending upward, about to strike him with a powerful axe kick.
"Tsutenkyaku (Painful Sky Leg)!"
It was then that Sasuke jumped out of the way as Sakura's leg tore through the tree that he stood on before finally crashing through the ground with a thunderous boom.
Seeing his chance, Sasuke leaped into the dust and smoke that spread from where Sakura stood, his Sharingan fully active, he shielded his eyes after drawing Kusanagi from its scabbard and landed on the ground, Sakura immediately saw Sasuke descend upon her like a hawk, his right hand holding his chokuto as it tried to slash Sakura down and disable her. To her credit, she instinctively reacted and leaned to her right, evading the slash and the tip touching her cheek, but Sasuke did not draw blood, the sword and Sakura's ash coloured skin gave a resounding high pitched sound as if a sword clashed with a sword, the tip of the blade gave a tiny spark as the sword went past Sakura. Immediately seeing her chance, Sakura cocked her right fist back, and without proper collection of chakra for an instant attack, she smashed her iron enforced fist to his gut. Sasuke felt the sudden pain electrifying him, as he coughed out blood before being sent flying from the blow in a powerful force, colliding with several trees before being entrenched on the ground and halting before a large stone.
Sasuke tried to get up but could feel the pain of his body instantly coming back full force. It was hard to even breathe!
He cradled his side as he felt a sudden pain from his right side. From what he could feel, some of his ribs were shattered from that last attack, if he hadn't stepped a back a little that time, he would have met that punch full force.
It suddenly occurred to him, that Sakura had him in dead to rights. She could literally kill him if she got close enough and exploited his weakness now. As long as she was out of his sights, it was futile. As long as she doesn't make any eye contact with him it was useless and it was even harder just to capture her. It was a hard situation indeed.
Sasuke stood up, there was only one jutsu to stop her attack, based from how powerful her defence was, Sasuke guessed that it was a Doton based Ninjutsu. It was hard just trying to pump chakra around his body, hell he can't properly form Susanoo right now, so this was his best shot. The Uchiha planted Kusanagi on the ground and crossed his arms in an X like position; he closed his eyes and concentrated. The flow of chakra seemed restricted; he could feel it as any way of exerting himself would aggravate the damage done by Kabuto's poison. He concentrated, as Sakura had suddenly tried to capitalize at the exact moment.
Sakura dashed at Sasuke, her hand now glowing with blue energy as she made her way towards the Uchiha. She wouldn't go for a killing blow, no, she had realized just how valuable Sasuke's knowledge on Madara would be, Konan had said that although she was exposed to the plans of Akatsuki and most of their bases, Madara didn't share any information about himself, probably due to the fact that he didn't trust any more of his members as did Nagato and Itachi. They had differing goals, each one of them, and Madara remained the most mysterious, he came and go as he pleased, and went to places that he wouldn't mention. Madara was careful, cautious, cunning, and had more secrets than anyone could possibly ever have. If Madara had exposed Sasuke to one of his strategic locations, it might probably be where his main base of operations reside, something that Sasuke may have information about.
Dashing towards Sasuke with his back turned, Sakura prepared for a brutal punch on Sasuke's back, this would paralyze Sasuke for good. It had been bothering her that Sasuke wasn't able to whip out jutsu after jutsu, when she attacked. As a single Chidori could have probably done the job, but nonetheless she had to take advantage of what she has. Sasuke had requested, no, demanded that he be relieved from his sickness or whatever seems to be bothering him. She COULD possibly do it. But the problem was that Sasuke has to answer to a lot of questions first.
As Sakura dashed towards the Uchiha at her best speed, Sasuke had outstretched his hands sideways as Sasuke spread his legs to have a wider base and shouting forcefully with gritted teeth.
"Chidori Nagashi! (Chirping of One Thousand Birds Current)"
Lightning danced and sparked its way all around Sasuke, piercing Sakura's Domu (Earth Spear) as it literally began to eat the iron like skin that Sakura had adapted earlier.
Sakura screamed in pain as she fell to the ground, sliding and entrenching herself a little as she went straight to Sasuke's position. Her jutsu slowly dispelling, the effect of the earth spear was slowly crumbling away.
Sasuke stood over his former teammate as he was gasping for air; just controlling his chakra was getting even more difficult.
"Now Sakura, you will heal me…"
As Sasuke leaned down and tried to grab the girl, Sakura suddenly sprang up and nailed Sasuke in the cheek with a strong punch.
It was a surprise move, his Sharingan deactivated; Sasuke had thought he had finally stopped this uphill battle. But when Sakura had suddenly sprung up like that, he had been totally unprepared for that punch straight to his face.
The force of the blow flapped the opposite cheek that Sakura had hit as Sasuke was thrown back by the immense strength. Sasuke tumbled across the muddy ground, before hitting a large rock behind him.
Sakura approached Sasuke in apathy as she had a kunai ready just in case.
Sakura looked at Sasuke's unconscious form that seemed unmoving as of now, just in case, Sakura had activated her chakra scalpel and began cutting off tendons so that Sasuke can't move.
With that, she carried the Uchiha on her shoulders as she began to trek her way back to Ame, intent on getting the answers that they need and finally putting a stop to this war.
Suigetsu vs. Shino:
Suigetsu thought he had chosen the wrong opponent to pick a fight, or rather; the bug boy had apparently prevented him from facing the former Akatsuki member. He was the weak point of the woman. But unfortunately a Konoha Ninja, who can suck chakra with tiny bugs, had happened to prevent him from doing so.
Did Madara not calculate the fact that the woman would have another escort? If so, that masked bastard better try to come up with a good excuse next time they see him. Because there was no way in hell would he ever let that madman use them like he did back at the summit ever again.
As Suigetsu was immediately surrounded with insects, the apprentice of Momochi Zabuza liquefied himself crawling away from the swarm of bugs that tried to stick close to him, as he got out; Suigetsu smirked to himself as he drew Kubikiri Houcho once again. He looked at the bug boy who was merely walking towards him with his hands in his pocket, seemingly calm in the whole fight.
It was then that Suigetsu felt himself slightly drained. He noticed that his jutsu earlier used more chakra than it needed to! He inwardly cursed as Shino held out his right index finger and an insect landed rather gently on the tip of the nail.
"Give up, the fact that my swarm has surrounded you should be an indication of the advantage that I posses and the handicap that you wield."
Suigetsu smirked, "Heh, even if you try to consume my chakra, it would be too slow. I'm made of water as such, your bugs would have a hard time consuming that energy, are you sure it was wise to pick me as an opponent?"
It was then that mist had started to form around them, as Suigetsu's smirk turned into a vicious, toothy smile. Shino's visible eyebrow rose to a certain point but remained quiet.
"I know that insects can detect other insects through the release of subtle aromas like pheromones. But if I had enough moisture to dull those senses, I wonder if they would ever coordinate an attack like you do."
It was then that the fog surrounding the two fighters got thicker and thicker as the toothy boy said, "Ninpo: Kirigakure no Jutsu (Ninja art: Hidden Mist technique)"
Suigetsu then added under the veil of the fog, "I'm not the student of the acclaimed Momochi Zabuza for nothing. And from what I remember of Zabuza, he was proficient in this style."
"I prefer a much more direct approach but I can't afford that to someone like you." Suigetsu mentioned, the temperature around seemed to have decreased somewhat, as Shino kept his guard up, he could feel the temperature around him decrease to an even colder one.
From the outside, one would wonder how much fog has gathered around the small grove near a water source just outside the metropolis of Ame.
Inside, Shino remained calm as he stepped to the right and heard a sword being swung down almost cleaving him in two. Shino forcefully stepped on the blunt part of the gigantic blade with his left foot, as he outstretched his right hand and punched the one who attacked his back earlier, a splash was heard through out the fight as Shino was about to yank Kubikiri Houcho away from Suigetsu's grasp.
"H-How?" Suigetsu asked before pulling his sword against Shino's hand away, jumping back. Shino looked eerily calm as he stepped forth in Suigetsu's direction.
"How did you know I would be coming from that direction? I've made no sound, no indication that I would be coming at you from there." Suigetsu asked in a serious tone.
"No person is capable of producing no sound. I may have not heard you, but the vibrations that you caused are loud enough for insects to detect like a door being slammed open." Shino answered for him, it was then Suigetsu noticed that the bugs that flew in the air were minimal compared earlier. The ground however, seemed littered seemed to have the said bugs crawling around.
"Insects have the ability to sense enough vibrations on the ground. They flee whenever they feel that the ground near them is stepped. I took advantage of that trait they have and simply have some of them stay there to detect where you come from, with how they move and how they communicate, I immediately sense it and do the most appropriate action."
Suigetsu's scowl turned into a smile again as he hefted the giant blade on his shoulders again.
"Well, damn it. It looks like I'm going to have to put more effort in to this than I thought."
Suigetsu then began to liquefy, splashing on the ground as the atmosphere around the two combatants began to condense, the puddle that was Suigetsu began separating like cells initiating Mitosis as it began to separate into six puddles. The puddles then began to rise up from the ground forming a humanoid figure. All of them formed the figure of the shark like boy holding the heavy sword on their shoulders. All of them gave confident smirks as they all said in unison, "Suiton: Mizu Bunshin no jutsu (Water Release: Water Clone technique)."
It was then that the clones began initiating the stance of the Muon Satsujin Jutsu (the art of silent killing). Each of them silently treading around the heavily dense fog, Shino looked down and saw many of his insects scramble every which way. Spreading around and causing enough chaos that he barely registered in time that two clones of the swordsman had appeared on both his sides. One had the blade aimed high horizontally to his neck while the other was leaning forward below, about to cut his legs off.
Shino was quick to react, as he spun in the middle of the two, letting both clones go past him as the two said clones stared on in surprise at the bug man. Shino landed perfectly between the two as he gathered some of his insects from the ground to around his hands and raised it in an arc, completely tossing them in a wave towards the two clones.
A small disruption of the chakra produced in them and they quickly dispelled and cascaded on the ground, turning into puddles.
The Aburame looked on the ground and monitored his insects erratically going about. He could not detect which was which. Suigetsu's steps were precise, and used his colony's sensitivity to vibrations at its fullest. Shino had to acknowledge one fact about the man he was fighting.
He was a master assassin.
This time, three identical images of Suigetsu headed towards him, they were all in striking distance already as they leapt towards Shino, aiming for his chest, legs and neck. They came at him from his back, and two from his opposite sides. In an immediate rush of seals, Shino quickly replaced himself with a log just before the three enormous blades could slice him to pieces.
The log splintered and scattered as the three scowled at the sudden change. They were sure they had him.
Shino had suddenly appeared from the side of one clone, giving the said clone with one smack on his right forearm, quickly returning as a puddle on the ground. Another Shino had then appeared from below one clone and quickly dispelled revealing a huge swarm as it surrounded the second Suigetsu clone and consuming the chakra.
The final clone had the back of its head grabbed as the insects crawled from Shino's arm, quickly dispelling it.
"I admit that I am impressed at your skill in using the infamous Muon Satsujin Jutsu, barely a few members of our ANBU have this level of skill." Shino commented, trying to force out a reply from Suigetsu, who was silent throughout the whole ordeal.
Shino merely stood there, waiting for the next set of movements that his insects might show. His insects remained in stasis, causing Shino inwardly perturbed.
His opponent could have gone for Konan right about now and those clones could have only served as a distraction. He knew that a paper master like Konan had weakness in the form of liquid. It was probably the reason why his bugs were on stasis.
'I have you now...'
Thought the person, who was now high above Shino, he wasn't making a sound. He was as silent as the gentle wind and as cold as ice, sword held sideways, he strikes down Shino from his shoulder blade, down to his stomach. Suigetsu landed with one knee on the ground. He didn't look back at his victim; he never needed to, for he had expected blood to spill from that.
Something definitely spilled, but it wasn't the sound of a shower that he had expected, instead, tendrils of bugs had escaped from the jacket, revealing the boy wearing sunglasses on his long sleeve undershirt. The swarm of insects at his side holding what seemed to be his hoodie that was sliced cleanly in two.
Suigetsu didn't feel himself move, as the bugs started to consume him, eating away his chakra. His expression of shock was present all over, it was the third time in his whole life that he was surprised and the first two involved the two monstrous jinchuuriki of Konoha and Kumo.
"H-How did you…?" Suigetsu was interrupted by Shino in a matter of fact voice.
"Know that you were going to attack me there? It seems that you have forgotten one off the primary principles of Muon Satsujin." Shino continued.
Suigetsu began to shake as the bugs began started to consume his chakra, contemplating on the one most important principle in Muon Satsujin Jutsu.
'Always attack from the back.' It was the most important rule in the style that Zabuza taught him, to perform this means to use the exposed back of the opponent as the target, to walk silently and to tread fast; it was the matter of execution that made Zabuza such a master of it.
"It seems that you caught on. Indeed, Muon Satsujin is a force to be reckoned with. It's so silent that you will never even realize that you already died. The skill of the practitioner of such an art should not be taken lightly; even a jinchuuriki could fall given the right preparation and situation."
Suigetsu's body was slowly and literally being covered by insects, crawling on his skin and seeping away at his energy as Shino continued.
"However, its primary principle is also its main weakness, thus making it predictable. Therefore, a solution on this was to come up with a plan to lure the original user out; 'A deception to counter a deception', as Shikamaru and Hokage-sama put it."
With that, Suigetsu's body became fully covered with insects as the Aburame continued, "Do not fret, and rest assured that I will be sparing you alive. Your information is valuable in ending such a pointless war."
Suigetsu couldn't feel anything at that moment, as it all eventually turned black.
Juugo vs Konan:
It was all that Konan felt as she saw the monster that was the tall orange haired man going on about, trashing wildly at her as she evaded every blow delivered against her. The man before her was a berserker, a mindless fighter drawn on the acts of violence and bloodlust, but earlier, he seemed tranquil, awkward. The man didn't seem like a person of violence, it was more like he hated to show such brutal force, he hated fighting. It reminded her about Nagato so much except for this particular mood swing.
"Get back here!" The monster roared, his body contorting and shape shifting once more, as his back began to grow holes with chakra seemingly being concentrated in them.
Konan dispersed herself in a sea of paper cranes, surrounding Juugo as he blasted all around with beams of chakra to every which way. Konan looked perturbed, this wasn't the man that she had noticed earlier, the man earlier was soft-spoken, always concerned and did not look anyone in the eye.
He was easily intimidated.
This person was different; he was more psychopathic, insane, and bloodthirsty. The markings that he showed around his face before definitely indicated one of Orochimaru's experiments, more precisely, the cursed seal. Konan could only do some kind of sympathy for the man. Perhaps the seal hasn't truly disappeared yet?
No, that would not be the case; the seal was tied with Orochimaru's life force. Even a small sliver of life was enough to maintain the seal; then what on earth is this person?
Juugo gave another unbalanced grin as his hands morphed to another appendage that Konan immediately noticed.
According to Sasori (whose spy was the double agent Kabuto), those branded with the cursed seal are given a set beast like transformation that gives them a special ability in accordance to said transformation. Not only that, there was also an added text that there may have been some minor psychological influence given by the seal. So how is it that this person in front of her could shift from one form to another and how is it that the seal affects his psyche so much?
Juugo's hands finally finished transforming once again, as Konan landed behind him, forming herself from the countless paper cranes that she had transformed into earlier. Her hand outstretched, paper began compressing into a thin spear, just before her palm it floated like it was made for flight, chakra condensed and formed thin as each paper condensed into one shape, the shape of a perfect javelin spear.
"It is a pity that your whole existence was bent on violence and urges you have no control over. Do not worry, for I shall end your suffering."
The last of the papers then stuck itself at the near tip, the perfectly cone shape like spear completed, she aimed it at Juugo whose left hand turned into a talon like appendage.
Konan instantly fired the spear made of paper, as the said object left gale forces strong enough to cause a sonic boom in its wake, entrenching the ground below as the spear travelled at an enormous speed. Juugo, clearly seeing the danger he was in, had let the full power of the cursed seal take him over quickly, and used his other arm to create a shield and block the spear with his said arm. The spear managed to reach to the shield, skidding Juugo back as his feet were entrenching the ground that he stood on, dirt and rubble picked up and scattered as Juugo tried his best in stopping the spear made of paper as the said paper began dispersing, one page at a time.
Juugo tried to put his weight forward with his talon like right arm grasping his left as if trying to lighten the strain from the force of the impact. Thirty meters later, the strain on his left arm was too much and felt the limit of his human endurance shatter, sending him flying and tumbling on the ground.
As Juugo tried to get up, he looked over to his left arm; it was limp and bleeding all over.
He looked over at the former member of Akatsuki walking towards him as paper started to collect around her once again, dancing around and began folding, turning to small windmills. For the first time, Juugo could feel dread as Konan was walking over towards him with no trace of emotion.
It rotated and spun around Konan, as it soon began spinning faster and faster, before the said objects flew towards him like spinning shuriken.
"Kaminari Shuriken (Paper Shuriken)" Konan mentioned simply, with no hint of hesitation.
Juugo shielded himself with his only enabled arm as he felt the sting of each blade going past through him or embedding itself at him.
"GAAAAHHH!" Juugo writhed in agony as he fell on the ground with a hard plop. Konan stared at the boy in front of her, the orange hair was reminding her of Yahiko, but Yahiko was never soft-spoken, that was Nagato and both weren't psychopaths like this one.
Juugo looked up at the woman, as she gave him a frown, Juugo could feel the pity in her eyes as she stared at him from above.
Konan raised her hand and paper seemed to form into the spear that she had done earlier, Juugo looked absolutely scared, no wonder the woman was a member of Akatsuki, she was absolutely terrifying in battle, almost the same like Sasuke was, and that blonde Hokage who had lodged him to the wall.
"Juugo!" Shouted a red head, Konan eyed her with a frown of her own, before deflecting a set of shuriken with her spear made of paper.
Juugo suddenly took his chance, tackling Konan to the ground as she was taken by surprise. But it all seemed for naught as Konan scattered and began latching on his skin like leeches sucking out the life out of him.
As Konan reformed from her state, she looked at the area where that red head had appeared from, she was nowhere in sight.
Konan held her hand towards the paper wrapped Juugo, finding his kneeling and struggling form. She was about to do the deed. Until she closed her eyes and stopped. Even though it was the wrong thing to do, the most illogical thing to do, to her, right now, her love of her friends meant more than reason.
"No, this isn't what Nagato believed in… This isn't how he would have done it after meeting Naruto."
Juugo struggled for a moment before falling unconscious.
Madara's request for Konan's assassination had failed.
Madara sat on a chair, purely out of necessity. He was shaking earlier, it had been a long time since he had controlled a bijuu and just as he remembered, it was taxing, winding, and absolutely horrendous.
The strain of controlling the bijuu increases with each increase of tails. He grasped the arms of his chairs as he was bracing for the intense pain about to come. He looked to his right and saw the countless collections of Sharingan placed in the jars. In a sick and twisted sense of mementos, the man that had left his clan out of contempt stored the Sharingan of his dead family members in jars, he looked at them with mild fascination and said, "Just a few more steps and all is complete…"
He then removed his mask and placed it in front of his table, he grasped his face as his right Sharingan came to life once more.
"Everything will end… And all will be with me."
Alliance camp, Iron Country:
Five of the six leaders of the alliance had now met in complete battle attires. All of them wore their hats to signify their position as Kage. They sat down on a round table all of them looked battle weary since two nights ago. The Kiri-Konoha forces had managed to meet up with their forces three days ago and had to move
Ryuutenbi no Onoki eyed the young leader of Konoha in front of him, to say the least he was disappointed. After months into this alliance, the Hokage indeed was inexperienced in dealing troops, perhaps that fool Mifune had been relying too much in emotion. He scowled at the Hokage who looked absolutely sullen all throughout the campaigns. Onoki shook his head, he was right, he was still a child. Not to mention, the rumours of his incognito were putting a dent into the morale of the troops.
"Do you realize the gravity of our situation, Hokage-dono?" He asked in a stern and angered manner, Naruto didn't respond, how could he? The Tsuchikage had a point.
"You almost cost us a war with the whole world's fate at stake! Do you think it was easy enough to have control over an alliance such as ours?" The Tsuchikage bellowed. Naruto replied in anger, "Then what was I supposed to do? Do I just let an army guard me while we need most of our soldiers to the frontlines? Would I feel safe knowing that the greatest threat to humanity is out there that can bypass most of our men and take me away in an instant? If we want to win this war, then we need to do everything we can! That includes all of us, be it mentally or physically!"
"Don't think that you're the only one who has been doing their best here! You are a Kage; you sit at the back as you watch your soldiers fight and die for you and your village! The least you could have done is to have given them the morale that they need the most! Do you not trust your own men?" Onoki roared.
Naruto was taken back by this, as Gaara voiced his own opinion, "The threat of Madara does indeed put us in a precarious position, now that he has the federation under his thumb. I've had doubts reasoning that most of the minor countries aren't aware just how important people like us were and how dangerous Akatsuki was, it was a matter of feeding the other villages with information that we lacked, quite simply, we lost in a war of propaganda for the minor countries, something that we had not been prepared for so early on. We were one step too late against Madara. All of us are to blame for this not just the commander."
"The issue here is not the minor countries, Kazekage-dono! The issue here is that Hokage-dono has left his post to finalize his skills as a shinobi without ever being there for most of us, without ever informing us! Isn't that one form of neglect?" Asked Onoki, to this the Mizukage looked down and nodded her head.
"It is indeed true that abandoning your post on such a crucial time is an offense worthy of imprisonment. I admit even I had my doubts that Hokage-dono was clearly not the best choice to become the supreme commander. He isn't ready for a responsibility that would entail being a newly appointed Kage. It takes years to master the craft of leadership. The choice was foolish for all of us in the first place; we had relied on our emotion too much out of desperation."
It was then that the Raikage had spoken, "I agree that we had met the wrong choice in the matter in this. It seems the idea that Konoha was the only village that still possessed their host back then had blinded us from the fact that their Kage is still a young man. I agree that we had made a terrible mistake in this. I'm sorry Hokage-dono, you are not meant to be the supreme commander as of now. As the second-in-command, I will be the one to lead where you left off. It is only right."
Onoki had raised his hand to make a point, "That is acceptable, but what about Hokage-dono?"
Mifune looked at the sullen leader and closed his eyes as he started to take a deep breath, "After this is over, we will determine his punishment. But seeing as how the battle of River Country went down and the crucial information he has given us, we should give leniency on the decision."
Gaara looked at the Hokage and closed his eyes as well for a moment before finally saying, "The host for the Eight Tails, Killer B, is he in safe custody as of now?"
The Raikage nodded, as the Mizukage's visible eyebrow raised, what is the Kazekage planning?
"I just asked if the eight tails would be participating in this war." Gaara eyed the blonde with concern. He already had an idea on how to deal with this, if he played his cards right, then Naruto would be safe and alive.
"No, I've decided to place him to an island that is completely safe for him, I know that place as we trained there from time to time when we were younger. He's about to depart in three days time, so we need an escort there to see him off." Killer Ē said. Gaara's eye twitched as Naruto was listening intently, to his side; Shikamaru had kept quiet about the whole ordeal but realized that Onoki had a point. There was nothing that Naruto could do now.
"Very well, we shall prepare now for the next meeting and encounter." The Raikage mentioned.
As soon as they all got out of the tent, most of the Jounin outside stared as each of the Kages were frowning; none of them were pleased about how things were turning out. And it seemed like dissent was flowing already.
Once Naruto arrived on his tent, he sat down on his bed and looked down.
'Am I really, the saviour of this world?' Naruto thought looking down on his hands; he closed them as his hands shook.
Doubt was beginning to enter his mind; did he do the right thing? Did he really not trust his men?
Had he doomed the whole world?
Naruto punched his bed slightly out of frustration; this couldn't have happened if he had just acted earlier on! But no, it wasn't just that, he realized how selfish of him that the alliance had almost lost! He bit his lower lip so tightly that it drew blood.
He had failed, he had failed his sensei, his father, his mother and everyone in Konoha, he had failed them all. Was this the extent of his will of fire?
He held his face with his palms and held the sides of his head in frustration.
In the end, he was a failure, through and through.
"Hokage-sama." The figure said as Naruto looked up, he saw Kakashi enter into the tent.
"Kakashi-sensei, what's wrong?" Naruto asked curiously as Kakashi took a deep breath and spoke to him, "Kazekage-sama has told me to come and get you to talk in his tent. It seemed urgent as he himself approached me along with Shikamaru. You have to hear what he has to say."
Naruto nodded, as he sat up and exited his own tent; he went towards the Suna army's side of the encampment. There, many of the folks that recognized him bowed in immediate respect and some even waved with a smile. Naruto could only wave back with a smile of his own.
Once he had reached the big tent with the character of wind engraved on top, Naruto entered inside immediately. Gaara was sitting on the table and waited patiently for the blonde.
"Naruto, I want to discuss with you about what happened earlier." Gaara started as Naruto immediately sat down.
"What happened earlier was a mistake in all of us. The old Tsuchikage, though he was better than before, is still pompous and too realistic. He has made mistakes just like you did, but he had never once admitted to them until recently, do you get where I'm coming from?" Gaara asked, Naruto nodded, as the red head continued, "I know it is wrong of me to take away your freedom of choice as to participate in this war, but remember that we are the only barrier that is preventing Madara to get his hands on you, and we have to rely on the most competent of people to get the job done. Though you might not like it, I feel it is the only way to keep you alive and away from Madara's grasp."
"But my responsibilities here…"
"… Will only lead to your capture." Gaara interrupted him. As he then said to the blonde, "With things the way they are now, we need a unified commanding center; I think you can do it, but the doubts set upon by the Tsuchikage and the Raikage had been great. If this continues, then before we might even know it, we would lose the war."
Naruto stood up at this, "H-How am I supposed to protect them then? How am I supposed to be safe from my enemy if I can't do anything?"
"Naruto, it is true that what you did was very reckless, you left your office but at least you had to do it because of one thing. I've realized it now more than ever, that what you did was both of foolishness and brilliance." Gaara looked to his side and grabbed a scroll.
"This scroll was a report on what happened days before your inauguration. I can understand the need of you to finally take control of what it was that hindered your progress. Even if you cannot participate in war, your rage would have most likely taken over and we would have a problem worse than Madara, Kyuubi's inevitable return if you didn't do it." Gaara said, Naruto nodded and said, "That's right, I needed to do it, I gave in to my rage when Danzo mentioned that he had my mother killed. Even right now, I'm still angry at that guy."
"It is such a shame that it had come to this, in the end, even if the world is at stake, politics still shapes this world." Gaara sighed. Naruto couldn't help but agree.
As both young leaders discussed that night, Naruto realized more and more on what he needed to do.
'But in order to do it, I'll need the help of the eight tails' host.' Naruto thought as he exited the tent when both were done for the night.
As he entered his tent, Naruto placed the quadrilateral hat before his chair with an amused look and said with a melancholic smile. He had decided.
The next morning:
"You're WHAT?" Killer Ē asked, utterly confused as to how the young leader spoke.
"You said you wanted a form of punishment, right? Well then, accept my proposal. I'm willing to take the fall if the alliance fails." Naruto mentioned in a smirk.
Onoki shook his head out of disbelief, "But to relinquish your title aside from being sent to the island with Bee-san this early on? What on earth is going on in your mind, Hokage-dono?"
"It's simple. We'll only bicker if this continues on; we can't have a fight like this over past mistakes. This is all our faults, but I'm willing to take the blame for this by agreeing to the punishment, I'm willing to relinquish my title as the Hokage with a three year exile from my homeland if it meant winning this war and stopping you all from committing senseless mistakes like I did. I've sent a team of messengers already for my predecessor and she'll be here in three days time, in the meantime, I will participate in most of the plans already laid out. This is my solution to the problem I've caused. I have to pay for the price itself since I was the one in command of our troops and I was completely caught off guard at being the supreme commander."
Naruto hoped that this would work, for it was the only thing that would free him from all of this crap, it was the only thing that would finally set him loose and finish things once and for all. His prankster self has never been so alive right now! This would be his biggest prank yet, and this time, Madara and the world would be his target. And by hell, he'll kick that son of bitch's ass even if it meant he would lose his title. It was high time to get this done.
Gaara had only given a simple nod, and with a small smile; he asked Naruto, "What would you gain if you sacrifice your title as Hokage? Wasn't it your dream to become one?"
Naruto gave Gaara a thumb up and said, "There's no denying that, and right now, I'm happy that I've finally experienced what a leader is like! A leader…"
Naruto looked up for once and continued, he seemed resigned to his faith, "… Is ready to sacrifice everything if it meant his people would be safe."
Gaara looked like he would none of it, but in reality, the blonde was right. In order to be a great leader, one must first relinquish what he can if it meant his people would thrive, even if it was everything he knew and loved.
Terumi Mei could only look on in shock as she said, "I've never seen a man act so foolish yet wise at the same time."
Gaara gave a small smile, "That is the Uzumaki Naruto that I once knew."
For the first time in a long while, Naruto gave a wide, toothy grin.
Ame, Three days later:
It had been three days since he was captured, three days since he was healed and right now, he was locked up in a prison where his hands were bound with seals preventing him to use Ninjutsu to escape, to his front, Suigetsu was laid with the same kind of treatment as he did the only added feature to this however, was the mouth restraints that Suigetsu had, how the guards feed the guy was out of Sasuke's question, he didn't want to know and would probably leave it at that.
A loud opening of the metal bars were heard as Sakura and Konan had soon arrived in his cell, Sasuke looked down to where his hands were bound as his former teammate asked him, "Sasuke-kun… You probably know that you guys are now criminals in the eyes of the world."
Sasuke remained quiet, he didn't care, he just wanted to fulfil his desire for revenge and restore honour to his slain clan.
"I could care less if I'm a criminal or a saint. My target is Danzo, and I want him dead." Sasuke replied, Sakura scowled at this, Konan stopped her and shook her head.
"Uchiha-san, I'm a former member of Akatsuki, and I know why Madara wants me dead. But if I must ask, if you want to roam this earth free and in search of Danzo, I can do that, all I ask is the location of where you headed out before you came here."
Sasuke looked at the blue haired woman and then asked, "What's it to you?"
"I want to end this senseless war that Nagato and Yahiko has hated. I want it to stop. I don't want Ame to be destroyed again. If you know what it means to honour the memory of your loved ones, then grant my request."
Sasuke remained silent for a moment. Before he said, "Madara would kill me and my team if that were to happen."
This time, it was Sakura's turn to talk, "We can give you your freedom if you tell us where Madara took you after the summit."
But Sasuke, somehow, found a way to smirk, "Really? Then do tell me how are you planning to do that? Only the Kages can give clemency to a criminal, and last time I've noticed, you aren't Naruto."
"Who said anything about clemency?" Sakura asked, Konan seemed to have caught on, should they let this dangerous man get away so easily? Sakura then added, "On the condition that you don't harm any citizen here or continue on with the assassination, we can let you off scot free. That is, if you cooperate, if not, then we can associate you as Madara's accomplice."
Sasuke was listening intently, at this, his smirk soon changed into a frown as he said to Sakura, "I could care less at that senile old fool. However if you do grant our freedom then I will do all your stipulations. Just don't say anything about why I'm doing this."
With that, Uchiha Sasuke spoke, and he spoke about EVERYTHING that had happened since the summit.
Karin had stayed hidden all through out the three days that Sasuke and the others were captured. She couldn't do anything but watch as each of her teammates were taken down and captured. She was lucky to have gotten away.
Karin knew the implications if she get caught. Ame was still on lock down, the reason why Konoha shinobi had managed to enter here was because of the Hokage and permission from the current leader of the village.
As she looked around, she felt the familiar chakra of someone following them. It had been a while since she thought about this, it was like this familiar person was always tailing her, and always keeping an eye on her. The question was however, why?
That familiar presence tailing her was underground, she felt this person had already been trailing them for sometime, she thought at first that Sasuke was its target, but it turned out it was her.
As she sat down for a moment, she soon realized.
Zetsu was tailing her because of the information that she knew. And if by any moment she lets her guard down and tells Sasuke about what happened after he lost consciousness during the summit, then that would mean she would die.
Karin had already kept the secret of the Uchiha Clan months ago after the summit. She didn't say anything to Sasuke, because she knew that Sasuke was their only chance of defeating such powerful S-Class missing Nin. If she had told him back then, Sasuke and their team would have most likely died from his compulsiveness. Karin didn't want that, she knew she had to keep her mouth shut. But it seemed Madara was willing to keep Sasuke under his control.
As soon as those thoughts hit her home, Karin realized that she needed to set Taka free as soon as possible if they want to live.
To be continued…
Surprised by the sudden change? The chapter title above indicates that everything that is happening right now will change here. Well, most of the materials I've done were already set anyway and I've been planning this out. I am now only giving a set up towards the concluding chapters which are to say that its 2-3 chapters left.
And before giving off flames on what is happening now, I'm reminding you all that these remaining chapters will be the set-up for the final clashes to come. That is, 3-4 battles left. Three of them are reserved for Naruto and one for Killer B.
Though I am permitting that if any of you would like to give an alternate ending to the one I'm planning then do so, I'm not restricting any of you, but I would like to be informed if any of you have any problems with the ending I'm about to give.