Chapter 6 – The Rise and Fall of Minato

The team returned to Konoha, but Amegakure was secure, thanks to the service of Team Sarutobi in the war. Nidaime Hokage promoted the Sannin ninjas to Jounin rank, the highest possible, which was a great honor for them. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before another battle ensued, claiming the life of Nidaime Hokage. An emergency meeting was held by the council of elders. Hiruzen, being the strongest ninja in all of Konoha, was offered the position of Hokage, and he took it.

The war and the loss of a beloved Hokage changed the Sannin. Tsunade found love in a man named Dan. Dan died on a mission in front of Tsunade. She turned to gambling and studying medical techniques which she felt could have saved Dan's life. Orochimaru spent all of his time trying to find ways of increasing his power. Jiraiya started writing

The war came to a close eventually under the leadership of Sandaime Hokage. Treatises were signed and new alliances were forged. It was a delicate truce, and many of the former enemies of Konoha were precariously perched on the edge of sedition. To stave this off, a kind of contest was created to help nations show power without waging war. The Chuunin exams were an arena event which showcased the power of each nation and let warriors blow off steam in person to person combat.

Jounin were selected to train academy students for the Chuunin exams. Jiraiya needed the work, so he ended up training a scruffy kid named Namikaze Minato straight out of the academy. The two of them became very close over the next few years.

When Jiraiya felt the boy was ready, he took Minato to Myouboku Mountain; Minato became the second person to sign the contract before the Great Sage and inherit the powers of the toads. It wasn't long before Minato had grown into a teenager. He mastered all of the jutsu Jiraiya had to teach and invented a few of his own. Jiraiya had nothing more to teach him, and the two of them returned to Konoha.

Jiraiya decided he wanted to finish writing his book. He was short on money, so he decided to publish his journal as a work of fiction. He spent a couple of years writing the draft copy. Finally, he had something worthy of publishing, but he was missing a good name for the main character.

He sat at a ramen stand slurping noodles while sketching some drawings for his book. After clasping a piece of shrimp with his chopsticks, he decided his protagonist would be named "Naruto". The name sort of just popped into his head. He wrote the name down, closed the book and walked off that very day to the local publisher to sell the publishing rights for some travel money.

Jiraiya's book, "The Gutsy Ninja" was in print; he was so excited about it, he asked Minato for a review.

"How about I invite you over for some home cooking? You can meet my wife and it would give me time to read it."

"Good idea!" Jiraiya replied, "I'll be there."

Jiraiya showed up at Minato's house later that day. The two sat down in some comfortable chairs.

A young woman entered the room and brushed back a loch of her long red hair. Her name was Uzumaki Kushina; she was a young, beautiful and very pregnant kunoichi from Uzu no Kuni. She asked Jiraiya, "Would you like something to drink, Sensei?"

Jiraiya smiled and nodded, "Thanks. I'd like some tea, if you have it." He paused and then turned to Minato, who was flipping through pages and asked, "So, Minato, what do you think of the book?"

Minato finished thumbing through the book and then closed it, "I really liked it...It almost reads like a biography."

"Yeah, but... It didn't sell at all," Jiraiya groused then thoughtfully added, "Maybe I should try and sex up the sequel a little... That's my real forte, after all."

"I really love the way the protagonist refused to give up, even at the end. That was really cool." Minato smiled thoughtfully, "He's just like you, Sensei."

Jiraiya laughed incredulously, "You really think so?"

"Actually, I was just thinking." Minato replied and gestured towards Kushina. "We would like to raise our child to be a Shinobi like the one in your book. That's why we decided to name our baby after him."

"Are you sure about this?" Jiraiya asked in surprise, "It's just a random name I came with while I was eating some ramen..."

Kushina rubbed her swollen belly and said, "Naruto is a beautiful name."

Jiraiya joked. "If I name him, then that makes me his godfather, right? Are you sure you want that on your heads?"

"Absolutely! You're a man of true skill... An example we should all follow. I can't think of a finer Shinobi than you."

Jiraiya shook both their hands and said, "Then I accept."

Orochimaru stood in a dark room, surrounded by grisly reminders of his misdeeds. He had been pacing the dusty floor of a forgotten library. The sum total of all jutsu knowledge surrounded him. 'The problem is, there is more here to learn than I could in a lifetime.' He thought. That was when it occurred to him that he would have to find some way to extend his life; to make it possible to live long enough to perform every jutsu possible. He had been working on such a plan, but it had been slow going, especially when the other members of the elite ANBU squad were growing suspicious of what he was doing.

Orochimaru left the library and walked briskly down the marble hallway of the Hokage mansion. He had renewed interest in finishing one of his experiments he was working on.

After arriving in a disused damp basement somewhere in Konoha, Orochimaru flung open the doors to his lab. The smell of decayed flesh was unpleasant, but it reminded him of the importance of the work he was doing. Ignoring the scent, he flicked on a small lamp. On the counter under the illuminance of the white light, a severed hand was stuck onto a clamp. Orochimaru laughed quietly to himself as he recalled the manner in which he killed this particular person. 'The look on his face was priceless.' He thought with a grin. The chalky-skinned Sannin felt a brief moment of joy.

Suddenly the door burst open. Sandaime Hokage and ANBU ran in.

Orochimaru chuckled and said, "It seems I've been caught. How disappointing."

"Orochimaru, what is the meaning of this?" Hiruzen demanded.

Orochimaru smirked and said, "I set up a lot of booby traps, but it seems they were bypassed. I was surprised, but I see why, now. It was you."

One of the ANBU members with an owl mask commented, "People have started turning up missing lately in the village; Genins, Chuunins, even ANBU members. Also, we received information that you were acting weird recently."

Another ANBU member spoke, "Orochimaru-sama, why is a great ninja like you doing this?"

Orochimaru laughed, "Shall I kill you too?"

Hiruzen's face showed disappointment, and he said, "Orochimaru, so you were behind all of that. Tell me, what were you doing here?"

"Now that you caught me red handed, I guess lying won't help." Orochimaru said, turning around to face the Hokage. He coolly replied, "I was developing…a new technique."

A man in a cat mask asked, "Is that why you killed your fellow ninja?"

Hiruzen closed his eyes, not wanting to believe the truth. Fully understanding, he said, "A forbidden technique, huh?" He opened his eyes and looked at Orochimaru with disapproval and said, "What are you trying to accomplish?"

"Everything."

"Everything?" Hiruzen asked, confused.

"I want to master all techniques, and understand the truth of this world. The one that mixed blue and yellow for the first time called the new color green. I want to do something similar to that. If blue represents chakra, yellow represents seals, and green represents the technique. As there are many different colors, there are tens of thousands of techniques in this world. But to master all existing techniques and understand the truth takes a lot of time. The person who spends that amount of time and understands everything is worthy of being called 'the ultimate being'. To me, the body's lifespan is too short. It is too transient. Even if I were Hokage, everything would end after I died."

Hiruzen pensively asked, "Orochimaru is the technique that you were researching here…?"

"Yes…you probably have the right idea." Orochimaru confirmed, and then added, "A technique dealing with eternal youth and immortality."

Hiruzen frowned, "I'll have to stop you."

Orochimaru called his bluff, and ran for the door. Hiruzen prepared himself to release a terrible jutsu that would probably instantly kill Orochimaru, but he felt his will weaken. Orochimaru was his student since he was a child. He felt conflicted. Unfortunately his hesitation cost him the kill, and Orochimaru escaped.

Hiruzen was depressed over his loss of Orochimaru to evil. He decided to retire as Hokage because of his shame in letting Orochimaru go. The village elders convened with him and they made a final decision to make Namikaze Minato the Yondaime Hokage of Konoha.

At the ceremony, Uzumaki Kushina sat on a seat in the front of the crowd. Her belly had grown gigantic, and she winced as a sudden pain struck her. "Stop kicking mommy, Naruto." she complained. She waved at her husband and tried not to show him her pain.

Hiruzen handed Minato the robes of the office of Hokage and the crowd cheered.

Jiraiya whistled and cheered with the crowd. The boy had truly become a great man, and Jiraiya couldn't be happier.

Burning embers shot off of a wooden plank that was suspended over a doorway where Minato stood. Behind the man was a monster of immense size. He had just avoided getting trampled by it and burned by its chakra bursts. The name of the horrifying monster was Kyuubi, the nine tailed fox, and it was tearing up Konoha, two years after Minato's appointment as Hokage.

Kyuubi's foot slammed deeply into the soft ground, leaving a huge footprint. Minato gasped; the foot nearly grazed the doorway he was standing in. Minato shielded his eyes from orange flames eating away at the door sill. Many smells came to his nose. Some of them, he didn't want to try to identify. The source of the smells came from farther from him. Waves of heat scorched the air.

Minato looked up and could see strange pulsating balls of black chakra emitting from Kyuubi's mouth. It was black in the center with a burning corona of energy surrounding it. A sickening feeling washed over Minato after he witnessed it shooting out of the monster. His eyes tracked it all the way to a building which vaporized instantly. The shock waves from the blast shook the ground like an earthquake. Nothing, not even ash was left where it struck; only a glowing sheet of glass on the ground.

People were screaming; even the elite ninjas seemed unable to do anything about it.

Minato ran back into the hospital where he came out of earlier, scanning each room for survivors. He finally reached the one where his wife was at. She was not doing well. The sheets all around her were soaked in blood and she was screaming in pain. The doctor gave her a sedative, but kept looking around the room out of fear that the monster might decide to destroy the building at any given moment.

Minato asked, "Is she going to be okay, Sensei?"

"I want to say yes, but there was a complication…" the doctor replied and grimaced. He put his hand on Minato's shoulder and shook his head sadly, "The bleeding is really bad."

Minato felt his stomach churn.

A weak voice rasped out, "Minato…!" It was Kushina. She held her hand up weakly for him. Minato could barely stand to look; Kushina's sheet was soaked with blood. He swallowed the feeling of horror and ran to her side.

Kushina tried to smile, but it took an effort on her part. She touched her husband's hand gently and grasped it lightly. It was cold to the touch.

Minato's eyes filled with tears. Kushina took a breath, looked up at him and whispered, "I love you and please protect Naruto!" She squeezed his hand slightly, hers went limp. Minato pulled her body close to him and cried.

Explosions outside and the cracking of wood beams brought Minato's focus back to the issue at hand. He stumbled backwards from one of the shock waves and felt the agony of his emotions assaulting him. His wife was dead, and he had to put a brave face on for the sake of his village and his unborn child. He pursed his lips as he looked sadly at the doctor.

"I'm sorry, Hokage-sama." The doctor said sympathetically.

"Just save the baby. I don't have time to grieve," Minato said in a low, sad voice.

The doctor nodded and motioned for his nurse to help him. He quickly exposed Kushina's belly and made an incision. Minato didn't watch. His thoughts drifted to his training with the frogs. There was a technique he knew which would not only rid Konoha of the nine tailed fox, but would also provide his child with protection. The price he would have to pay to use it was death, however.

The doctor carefully reached into the incision area and carefully pulled out a baby, cut its cord and cleaned it up. The nurse cleared the baby's mouth, and it cried loudly. Minato sighed in relief.

"It's a boy, and he looks healthy," The doctor said with a bittersweet smile, "Would you like to hold him?"

"Yes, thank you."

The nurse wrapped the baby up in a cloth and unplugged its nose with a bulb syringe. The baby boy cried a little, but stopped after he was handed over to his father. Minato's held the baby close to him.

"Do you have a name for him?" The nurse asked, smiling.

Minato cradled the baby and answered, "He will be called Naruto." Little Naruto's mouth made a little yawn and he made some tiny noises. The doctor and nurse leaned in to look at the baby. They both smiled.

"Little Naruto," Minato cooed softly to the infant, but was interrupted by an explosion. It rocked the hospital building so hard that fixtures fell over. Minato just gritted his teeth, looking up at the ceiling. He wrapped the baby a bit more and said to the doctor and nurse, "I have to save us."

"What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to face Kyuubi."

The nurse walked over, intending on taking the baby in her care, but Minato shook his head. To the shock and surprise of the nurse and doctor, Minato held Naruto to his chest and ran out the door. He heard shouts behind him, but he didn't care. He knew what he had to do.

Just past the burning entrance outside, Minato stood in a giant footprint in the road. He slammed his free hand down on the ground and said, "Kuchiyose no Jutsu". Runes appeared on the ground around his hand and a giant puff of smoke appeared.

The smoke wafted away afterwards, revealing Gamabunta, the toad boss, smoking a huge pipe and wearing a kimono. He was as tall as some of the biggest buildings in Konoha. The giant toad squinted at Minato then at the nine tailed fox. He understood immediately why he was called.

Minato gestured to Gamabunta, who opened his mouth and picked Minato up with his enormous tongue. Minato walked off the tongue onto the toad's head, careful not to jostle the baby. He grabbed the collar of Gamabunta's giant kimono and said, "We need to get out of here. Find us a safe place."

Gamabunta nodded at the golden haired man and hopped towards the rural section of town. The two of them moved quickly towards a farmhouse, but Kyuubi noticed them and gave chase. Minato acted quickly and formed a series of hand seals while focusing his chakra energies. The ritual which was taught to him by the Great Sage had begun. The ebb of chakra energy filled him up, and he completed the ritual by clapping his hands together in prayer.

The air seemed to pull apart as though it were a cloak, revealing a large sinister looking being with long white hair and golden eyes. It carried a sword in its mouth. This creature was known as Shinigami, the death god. It was known to swallow souls, and any souls unlucky enough to end up like that would be trapped inside for all eternity. This was the price Minato was willing to pay to protect his son and his village.

Chained to the front of Shinigami was a featureless glowing form in the shape of a man.

Kyuubi sensed the presence of Shinigami and turned to face him. He bared his teeth and all nine tails bristled with hate, but before he could act, Shinigami released the glowing humanoid shape which reached out and pushed its ghostly hand through the baby's body. Its fingers uncoiled after exiting through the belly. The palm of the hand glowed, dimly at first, then as bright as the sun. The blinding light that emitted from it engulfed Kyuubi. Kyuubi shrank smaller and smaller until it fit into the hand. The hand pulled back, phasing Kyuubi through and inside of Naruto's skin.

Minato concentrated deeply and his fingers burned bluish white with chakra in the shape of sacred letters. He touched his baby's belly and yelled, "Fuuin Jutsu!" A symbol with runes appeared on Naruto's belly, and Minato collapsed onto the toad's back as Shinigami quickly devoured his soul as payment.