Naruto walked through Rice Country with Haku by his side, as he headed for the one place that made sense for someone like Orochimaru to hide, and yet stay close to the Leaf should the opportunity to strike against it would become available. Out of all the different countries surrounding the Land of Fire, only Rice Country was without a Shinobi village, and was recently neutral until the announcement of a small one being formed.
Sephiroth smirked, as he remembered what Iruka mentioned the history of the Shinobi villages, how the Feudal Lords funding them had setup international rules in terms of the founding of a Shinobi village, and how foreign Shinobi entering another village for the Chuunin Exams were given temporary immunity. Whether it was the Jounin senseis sponsoring their Genin team or the Genin teams performing for their respected Shinobi village, it was known that unless fights were in an official setting approved by all parties involved, there would be no attacks on either side, and to violate them would bring about the full wrath of the provoked country itself.
It was one of the reasons why the people in Konoha felt safe when the Chuunin Exams were held in the Leaf knowing that the Fire Daimyo and his armies would help them. It was also why all the minor villages were hesitant to send their sometime overeager Genin teams to places like Konoha. Having one of the strongest Shinobi villages coming after you was one thing, but the military might of the Fire Daimyo's samurai was something else entirely, and no one wanted to face off against that!
"You really think we can get an audience with Orochimaru of the Sannin here in Rice Country?" said Haku, as she had first heard of the rumors of where the man was hiding mere days before she first met Sephiroth, but she felt the rumors had a sliver of truth in them, and should be checked out just in case they were accurate.
"I know we will Haku. Whether Orochimaru is here in this place or not doesn't matter since he will want to find me too. Still, be on your guard at all times, and keep your eyes open for any attacks aimed at us. Given your bloodline limit Haku, you are a much of a target as I am when it comes to the Sannin if the rumors for why he left the Leaf are true, and he will no doubt seek to claim your power for his own devices," said Sephiroth now sensing killer intent rising within Haku knowing that she would rather die then be the snake Sannin's plaything.
"If he looks at me wrong I'll destroy him," said Haku with conviction and Sephiroth had no doubt she would.
Stopping suddenly, the two saw themselves quickly surrounded my Sound Shinobi on all sides, and had weapons drawn for battle. After what appeared to be a long standoff with them, Sephiroth turned his head slightly to see a grayish white haired boy with glasses walk into the clearing with a smile on his face, and bowed his head at them.
"Welcome to Rice Country and the territory that is Sound village. My name is Kabuto. I have been ordered to take you to Orochimaru-sama. He is most interested in meeting you both," said Kabuto, as he motioned for the Shinobi around him to stand down, and then motioned for his two guests to follow him.
"Should we be forced to fight, hold nothing back, show no mercy, and crush all that stand against you," said Sephiroth in a whisper with Haku nodding silently.
"So you're the one that killed the Sandaime Hokage. I must say a mere child killing a Kage is most impressive," said Orochimaru looking down at the swordsman from his dramatic throne in the room with his forces filling the room and his bodyguards were beside his throne.
"Hardly. Considering my heritage, did you really expect anything less from a Namikaze, or the reincarnation of its founder?" said Sephiroth, as he saw the Sannin smile at him, and it sickened the One-Winged Angel.
"No. I suppose not. You met my expectations quite well. Unlike my old sensei, I don't like to mess with prophecies, and attempt to stop them," said Orochimaru before looking at Haku with calculating eyes.
"Yes. Your former teammate Jiraiya made the same mistake your sensei did too, but I have yet had the time to slay him, and spill his blood over all of Fire Country. I actually came here to offer a small...proposal. If you're interested that is?" said Sephiroth seeing Orochimaru's eyes turn back to him like he planned so they wouldn't wander to Haku.
"Really? And what do you have to offer me that I could want?" said Orochimaru with narrowed eyes.
"My help in the Leaf's destruction. Isn't that why you are amassing forces in a country that neighbors the Land of Fire right under the Leaf's very nose?" said Sephiroth seeing Orochimaru's eyes widen in surprise and then narrowed dangerously.
"I could order my men to kill you right now for releasing that information so casually to my face," said Orochimaru seeing his force slowly drawing weapons to fight his guests.
"Then you would be ordering them to their death and your plans to crush Konoha would die with them...along with you. Amachi learned the hard way that opposing me is not in the best interest of one's health," said Sephiroth coldly, as he let his power consume the room, and made everyone around him freeze under its influence.
'Such incredible power I must have it! But not now. Not until he has his guard down. And what did he mean by Amachi? I haven't seen him in a short while with all of his aquatic experiments,' thought Orochimaru, as he raised a hand to tell Sephiroth to stop, and found that it took considerable effort on his part to make the motion.
"I can either be your enemy or I can be your ally. Choose wisely," said Sephiroth, as he saw Orochimaru calculating the odds in his head at having him as an enemy, and then as an ally.
It didn't take a genius to know what the Sannin chose.
"I choose to have you as an ally Namikaze Sephiroth and welcome you to my village," said Orochimaru with his forces putting away their weapons and leaving the room.
"You chose...wisely," said Sephiroth, as he left with Haku right beside him, and decided to find them a place to stay for a short time.
"Is this wise Orochimaru-sama? Word will surely spread of his presence here in Sound and so many will seek to hunt him down," said Kabuto, as he saw Orochimaru smile at him, and saw the Sannin was planning something.
"Don't worry Kabuto. This base is only temporary. We have hundreds of them scattered throughout the different lands of the Elemental Countries. Besides, this alliance will only last until the end of Konoha's destruction, and by then I will have everything I desire in the end," said Orochimaru smiling deviously at how everything he wanted would be his after the Leaf fell.
Including a new vessel to call his own.
"I told you to persuade my Godson to come home peacefully so we could talk to him in a reconciling manner Jiraiya. What part of that order don't you understand?" said Tsunade, as she was pissed at Jiraiya's actions, and it was clear the Sannin in front of her didn't care.
"Those were your orders Tsunade. The Fire Daimyo's are higher up and he told me to do what needed to be done to take down Sephiroth. No talks. No persuasion. Just take him down and take him alive if possible for trial. That's it!" said Jiraiya seeing Tsunade was not pleased with his answer and looked ready to sock him one right in the face.
"The man only wants to posture and puff out his chest. The trial would be for show only and we both know it," said Tsunade, as she didn't want that, but saw Jiraiya didn't care, and knew that the Fire Daimyo didn't either with what she wanted for her Godson.
Their Godson when she thought about it, but Tsunade doubted Jiraiya actually wanted the position, and didn't want any part of the responsibilities the title brought.
"That's for when Sephiroth is taken down. That's politics. Shinobi don't handle that part of the world Tsunade. You know that. I know that. Even sensei knew that even though he was an expert in it," said Jiraiya seeing Tsunade narrow her eyes at him.
"That's what sicken me the most about him right now. The older sensei got, the less of a Shinobi, and more of a politician he became. Politicians can't lead Shinobi Jiraiya. Trying to blend the two is a dangerous combination. It was why my Grandfather had made laws to keep certain bodies of government from within the Leaf from taking too much power and our sensei chose to weaken during his old age because he couldn't handle the weight though tried in order to recapture some form of glory," said Tsunade seeing Jiraiya not meeting her eyes and she knew that he knew she was right.
Though his pride wouldn't let him admit it.
"Why are you bringing this up about our sensei now Tsunade? This isn't like you," said Jiraiya before Tsunade revealed leather paper filled book that the Sannin recognized was their sensei's journal.
"This is why I'm bringing it up. Sensei wanted to make sure everything he ever did in this world was recorded as a just in case contingency should something happened to him and didn't want certain people to think they could get away with things in their life. I found some very interesting chapters going back quite a ways, including what really happened the night of the Uchiha Massacre, and how a certain Sannin talked him into using Itachi later to be his spy for a certain organization hunting down the nine tailed beasts. Care to explain why the true reason behind the loss of the Uchiha Clan wasn't brought to light, and give me one good reason why I shouldn't expose it now?" said Tsunade seeing Jiraiya scoffing at her like she was an idiot.
"Damn it Tsunade. You know full well the problems that would arise from such a thing. The Uchiha Clan betraying Konoha would have made the Leaf look so weak! How would Konoha's enemies react when they learn we can't trust one our own clans? They'd swarm on us like sharks smelling blood in the water! The only reason they didn't was because the Fire Daimyo pledge to support us temporarily until the village stabilized from the loss of the clan," said Jiraiya seeing Tsunade scowl at him.
"I highly doubt the Fire Daimyo would do any less for us if he knew they helped betray us more then once to our enemies. They've sabotaged missions, leaked information to our enemies about our informants in their territory, and they helped destroy the treaty with Kumo nearly a decade ago. The only reason Kumo didn't demand more then the body of Hyuuga Hiashi or go to war was because sensei told them about the prophecy and that he would make it happen if they didn't back off," said Tsunade seeing Jiraiya letting out a sigh.
"What do you want me to say Tsunade? We had to choose the lesser of two evils on both counts. The village needs to survive no matter what and if that means sweeping up certain sins under the rug then so be it," said Jiraiya being an expert in the cloak and dagger ways of being a Shinobi then Tsunade was.
"So damn the consequences if innocent people get hurt in the process. Is that it?" said Tsunade seeing Jiraiya shrug.
"That's the way of politics in the Elemental Countries Tsunade. We have to do the dirty work and the people above us spin it in a way that suits everyone's best interests," said Jiraiya knowing that was how things were done and that it was Tsunade's fault for being out of the game long enough to embrace such naïve line of thinking.
"Get out! Get out before I smash my fist through your skull and damn the consequences of my actions," said Tsunade, as she would have too had Jiraiya not seen the look on her face, and left before acting on the impulse.
(Fire Daimyo's Palace-Several Weeks Later)
"So the Hokage isn't happy with my orders to you," said the Fire Daimyo walking with Jiraiya through the palace hallway.
"Sadly no. Tsunade has always wanted to have a child, but the loss of her lover Dan kind of ended that possible life in being a Mother, and only her Godson remains in terms of having any parental ties to this world," said Jiraiya, as he saw the Fire Daimyo shake his head in disappointment, and it was clear he disproved of Tsunade's way of thinking.
"I may have to consider removing her from the position as Hokage if this continues," said the Fire Daimyo, as she knew it was only done in extreme cases when a Feudal Lord has a different view of a Kage, and the Kage won't bend to the Feudal Lord's wishes when the situation warrants it.
"Don't give up on her yet. She just needs to see Sephiroth in action and when Tsunade does her whole perception of him will change," said Jiraiya, as he knew that while his former teammate had a difference of opinion of things, she was still a good Hokage, and the Leaf needed her in charge.
"I hope you're right Jiraiya. Keep trying to track that monster down. I want him brought to me alive, but if you have to kill him, then do it, and bring back his head so I can have it as a trophy to further instill fear in my enemies. If you can't...," said the Fire Daimyo with his warning to the Sannin clear as day in his voice.
(Sound Village-At the Moment)
"You want me to lead this weak Genin team into Konoha for the Chuunin Exams?" said Sephiroth with Haku beside him looking at the trio seeing them glare at his person for the insult.
"Yes. I was originally going to do it in your place, but with Sarutobi-sensei dead, it will be more difficult to escape Tsunade's much more keen eyes, and she knows what I look like easily if enough of my features are showing. I have another means to get into the Leaf undetected, but you being there would certainly help secure my entry into the village with all eyes on you, and your new Genin team," said Orochimaru, as he knew that with everyone focusing on Sephiroth being in the Leaf for the Chuunin Exams, it would help mask his plans for the invasion, and keep Tsunade's eyes off of him.
"So I take the heat while you enter Konoha without getting burned," said Sephiroth, as he sensed Orochimaru would do something like this, and didn't really have a problem with the plan.
If anything, the One-Winged Angel preferred it, and would have even suggested such a move.
"It's the only true way I can let my dream of destroying the Leaf become a reality," said Orochimaru, as he studied Sephiroth's reaction to his plan, and found the unreadable face of the swordsman to be even more difficult to read then Itachi was when in the Akatsuki organization.
"I know it is Orochimaru-san, but you must understand that, given your nature to betray people, I have to be sure you don't sell me out, and for your own personal gains. Such actions aimed at my person can have some...serious consequences," said Sephiroth before leaving the room, but not before turning to the Sound team, and blasting them with killer intent to make them understand just how beyond their level he really was.
Their faces were paler then Orochimaru before he left the room.
"I do not trust him," said Haku when they reached their small home, as she saw Sephiroth smirk, and wondered what was going on inside his head.
"I know you don't. I don't either. How is Kimimaro doing?" said Sephiroth, as he found out about her brief run-in with the albino Kaguya when first traveling with Zabuza, and how the two were very much alike when it came to pain.
"Not well. He's coughing up blood more and more. I think it's a rare disease from his clan created due to the environment of Water Country. It's a shame Kimimaro has it. He's was considered the strongest of his clan before they were destroyed. From what I learned of his past, they even sealed him up in fear of his power, and would only let him on certain occasions to engage in heavy battles," said Haku, as she saw him scowl, and knew it was because Kimimaro was a lot like him too.
Being treated like some animal. Told when to heel, to beg, and to fight when the Master commands you to only for that Master to lock you away in a cage until it was time to be used again.
"He needs a medic beyond the one here if Kabuto himself can't heal what's slowly killing him. He needs Senju Tsunade," said Sephiroth, as he saw Haku look at him with a frown despite the mask she wore, and sensed her confusion.
"Couldn't you heal him Sephiroth-sama?" said Haku knowing he had the power to save lives along with taking them.
"I could, but there is always the risk of Kimimaro still being loyal to Orochimaru after using my powers to heal him, and our albino friend still needs to shift his loyalties away from the snake before that happens," said Sephiroth knowing how devoted the Kaguya was to Orochimaru.
"I understand...at least I think I do," said Haku, as she wanted to learn from Sephiroth, and was finding it difficult to see what he did despite her training.
"Don't worry yourself Haku. In time, you will be able to keep up with me, and may even foresee my plans before they're even finalized. Like Hyuuga Hinata, I see lot of potential in you, and will try to bring it out," said Sephiroth, as he had been spending time with the girl in terms of Taijutsu due to Haku's reliance on her speed, and bloodline limit to help win battles.
However, her Taijutsu was average at best, and knew that there were people out in the world capable of removing Haku's strength with their own abilities.
"When do we leave for Konoha?" said Haku while trying to keep her blush down despite the mask covering it.
"One week from now. In the off chance we are pinned down in some kind of ambush, I want you to flee, and find Zabuza," said Sephiroth seeing the girl freezing in place before rushing in front of him and pulling her mask off.
"No! I won't! I'll die defending you!" said Haku, as she wanted Sephiroth to see just how much his influence effected her, and how deep her loyalties lied with him.
"No, you won't Haku. I will not let them capture you, put you on trial, and then sentence you into a life of Hell where they will no doubt force you to breed them a child to turn into their toy. In the event of my capture or death, I want you to find Zabuza, and stay with him where it will be safe," said Sephiroth seeing Haku shake her head once again in protest.
"Please don't ask me of that Sephiroth-sama. How can I ever be a tool worthy of your greatness if you cast me aside knowing my skills could change the outcome?" said Haku, as she hugged him now, crying into his shirt, and listened to his heart beating.
"One of the rare problems in being a master tactician is sometimes you foresee your own destruction regardless of victory gained in the end," said Sephiroth before slowly putting a hand on her head and gently petting it though for what reason he did was boggling his mind.
"Then I want to fall in battle with you. To achieve my purpose," said Haku, as she held on even tighter, and heard him chuckle.
"My dear girl, your purpose in life is not to die, but rather to live, and witness all that you can so the story of your experiences with me lives on until my end," said Sephiroth while Haku shook her head in his chest with denial and continued to sob.
"I will not let your story end so quickly Sephiroth-sama," said Haku hearing the sound of his heartbeat again while trying to burn the sound of it into her mind so it wouldn't be forgotten.
"Nor will I let it end Haku. Come now, it's time to get some sleep. Are you sure you don't want your own bed?" said Sephiroth seeing Haku blush knowing her answer, but still had to ask, and knew why she didn't want one.
Aside from the occasional night terrors that would spring up in her sleep from time to time.
"No. The bed I have now is fine," said Haku meekly, as she cherished her time in bed with Sephiroth, finding his presence surprisingly soothing when they slept, and the night terrors being rare now with him beside her person.
"Just checking," said Sephiroth simply.
(Konoha-1 Week Later)
The Leaf was busy with anticipation of the Chuunin Exams, as word spread of the Rookie Nine, and Maito Gai's team being sent to participate in the rank advancing event. Many held high expectations for Gai's team and even Team 8 after surviving the battle with the One-Winged Angel of Death with the story of their mission to Wave Country becoming legendary. They exaggerated with how they face Sephiroth in a great battle that shook the land and made the sky rumble from their intense fight for survival against their foe.
"Do they really need make the story of that mission more inflamed then it already is? Its like they think such theatric tales will bring fear to the hearts of those traveling here for the exams," said Tenten, as she really didn't mind simple praises from people, but this was getting ridiculous, and would complain more if it wasn't for the increased business their shop was getting.
"I agree. Some of the Clan Elders are have been pressuring my Uncle to remove the Cage Bird Seal on my head and to place it on Hinata-sama's in the belief my potential has long since surpassed hers regardless of Hokage-sama's training," said Neji, as he had spent a certain amount of time in his cousin's presence partially on the Clan Elders' orders, and observed Hinata's training regiment while talking to her about things not related to things not pertaining to Shinobi.
"Unbelievable! Your cousin gets an honor countless others would kill for and they want to do that to her. I don't know what's worse! Her getting possibly being branded with the seal or the fact they want it to keep Hinata-san under their thumb regardless if she learns Tsunade's skills that will never be used in the process?" said Tenten, as she hated that seal on Neji head, and the thought of it being used on a fellow female Shinobi made her blood boil.
'I agree,' thought Neji before he froze suddenly, as a chill went up his spine, the hairs on the back of his head stood on end, and the unmistakable energy signature of Namikaze Sephiroth was felt by his keen senses.
Tenten sensed it too, as she reached for one of the many weapons in her possession, and looked around for their foe that was clearly nearby. Neji found him first however, due to his Byakugan being active, and it was clear by the look on his face that he knew where the swordsman was at the moment.
"Where is he Neji?" said Tenten, as she looked around, and wished Lee was here to give them an extra pair of eyes.
"He's at the Academy. Along with a girl wearing a mask and Shinobi outfit. They seem to be...talking to what appear to be a trio of Genin from...a village I don't recognize from the symbol of their headbands," said Neji before his eyes widened and began rushing towards the Academy.
"Neji wait up! What's the rush?" said Tenten surprised that her teammate could move this fast.
"Its Hinata-sama! She's walking their with her Genin team and Jounin sensei. She will see him in less then 2 minutes!" said Neji, as he didn't know if Sephiroth would strike down his cousin this time around, or what his intentions were should the two meet.
Personally, Neji didn't want to know, and didn't want to see it happen.
"Crap!" said Tenten, as she hurried along with him to the Shinobi Academy, and hoped their third teammate was there waiting for them.
They were going to need all of his "Flames of Youth" today.
(Konoha's Shinobi Academy-Third Floor)
"Do you three know what needs to be done?" said Sephiroth looking at the trio with eyes filled with a serious intensity that spoke of no room for failure to do anything else, but toobey him, and knowing the price that would be paid if they didn't except that.
"Yes Sephiroth-sama," said the trio at the same time knowing their orders stood from what Orochimaru told them though Sephiroth managed to alter them should the plan for the termination of Uchiha Sasuke not go as planned.
"Good. The first part of this exam will be the hardest. Survive this and you will have the means to complete the mission," said Sephiroth, as he wore a Sound village headband on his forehead, and had his papers brought with him that had him down as being the Jounin sensei of these three.
Granted, the title of Jounin sensei was just a formality then anything, but he did teach them some things that Orochimaru didn't during the short time they were his, and that involved using their heads more then the toys the Sannin gave them from the start. The mind was the most powerful weapon the human body possessed and Sephiroth himself had proven that time and again in the past.
In truth, all the Sound team needed was patience, and not letting their individual as well as group pride get in the way of things. He beat that quite literally into their heads since Orochimaru gave them to him with Haku's help and tested them by pushing all three to them to the brink of nearly losing their minds.
"We understand Sephiroth-sama," said the trio again acting as one in speaking before they left for the room behind them knowing that they were truly ready thanks to their teacher.
"You make a good teacher Sephiroth-sama," said Haku seeing Sephiroth himself looking at the door shutting behind his Genin team with a faraway look on his face.
"They could become great Shinobi one day. Not like you of course, but certainly Jounin level, and could be quite devastating in the right hands. It's a pity Orochimaru sees them being used only for the sake of being pawns in this game against Konoha," said Sephiroth before turning around to head for the room where all Jounins were allowed to congregate regardless of what village they were from.
By now, word will reach the Fifth Hokage of his return to the Leaf with the Genin team from Sound, and wish to seek an audience with him. Before that happened though, the swordsman wanted to see, which Shinobi of the Leaf that were Jounin senseis had signed up their teams for this little event, and make a note of who could be a threat during this exam.
Even though pawns could never become players during a game, Sephiroth always felt they could become more then their current rank if played just right, and he so wanted to see his team to shine their brightest before Orochimaru burned them out.
Of course, such thoughts on the matter were abruptly halted when he along with Haku had turned the corner to find Genin team 8, and their Jounin sensei Yuhi Kurenai of Konoha stopping mere seconds from colliding with them. Instantly Kurenai leaped back, as did Shino, and Kiba with Akamaru growling fiercely at the swordsman. Haku for her part drew senbon needles and was prepared to defend her Master from these weak fools.
What neither side counted on was Hinata was standing right in front of Sephiroth looking him right in the eyes and the One-Winged Angel looking back into hers. The Hyuuga girl knew she was doing a full body blush from being so close to him, as she always did long before Sephiroth became Sephiroth, and yet she couldn't bring up the mental command within her brain to tell the legs she possessed to backup away from him.
"Hinata! Move away from him," said Kurenai, as she feared for her students life, and knew any hope of stopping Sephiroth from capturing Hinata was slim to none right now.
"Hello Hyuuga Hinata. You honor me again by gracing my presence with your own in such a short time since the last moment we had together back in Wave Country," said Sephiroth, as he saw sensed killer intent from Haku rising at his close proximity with Hinata, and his words to the Hyuuga girl.
"T-Thank you Namikaze Sephiroth. W-What brings y-you to K-Konoha?" said Hinata trying to be respectful to him while seeing the headband on his forehead.
"The Chuunin Exams actually. My team is participating and I just saw them off. You're here to participate in the exams too I hope?" said Sephiroth seeing Hinata nod while he also sensed her teammates not liking the close proximity they were in.
"Y-Yes," said Hinata truthfully despite knowing Kurenai-sensei would disapprove of her admitting it.
Then again, denying it would be to lie, and liars never had good fortune when within an arms reach of Sephiroth.
"Good. You and your team will go far if you can survive the first part of the exams. Still, be mindful not to let it go to your head, and remember to keep your mind focused at all times no matter what," said Sephiroth smiling at Hinata, who now felt her face had been set on fire, figuratively of course, and could only nod at his words while he now slowly walked around her.
Haku mentally growled at the Hyuuga girl, as the desire to ram her senbon needles into Hinata's slim neck, or her eyes now becoming something of an irritating itch the ice user felt almost compelled to scratch right now. However, the urge left her when Sephiroth stopped to look at Haku with a frown, and shaking of his head in disapproval. It made the ice user's heart want to freeze up and shatter at the notion of receiving her Sephiroth-sama's disapproval over such jealously. To her, it was a proverbial punch to the face, or the gut while telling Haku that if she kept this up he might cast her aside for letting such an emotion cloud her judgment.
Instantly, she was at his side, head down like a shamed dog beside its owner after being caught doing something wrong, and knew a punishment was going to happen the moment they were alone. Not that Sephiroth had ever punished her, but then again she had never done anything to warrant a punishment until now, and was more then a little terrified at being punished by her Master. She had let emotional jealousy get the better of her, in a semi-public area for that matter in front of others, and could be considered a weakness against him to exploit in the future to possibly kill him.
"Stay away from Hinata," said Kurenai to the swordsman in a protective Motherly way rather then speaking like a Jounin sensei.
"Do not make threats you cannot backup Yuhi Kurenai. Unlike me, you do not have the required power to backup your threat, and not one of your fellow Jounin can help you should the desire to achieve it was there," said Sephiroth in chilling voice that made the woman tense before walking away from all of them.
"I'm sorry Sephiroth-sama," said Haku in a whispered voice.
"I know you are Haku," said Sephiroth calmly though his voice was a bit cold for Haku's liking when she heard it.
"May I inquire to what my punishment is?" said Haku, as she needed to know what it was ahead of time, and know not to make the same mistake again in order to prevent such a punishment in the future.
"You will sleep in a separate bed until the second stage of the Chuunin Exams are over. At the same time, I will not come to comfort you in the event of night terrors, and no amount of begging will change my mind," said Sephiroth, as he knew such a punishment was harsh to the girl, and judging by the sudden stop in Haku's walking he knew that she knew it too.
"I...I understand Sephiroth-sama. I accept my punishment," said Haku, as she only had herself to blame for receiving it, and would not protest knowing such an act would not change his decision.
If anything, it would only make the punishment worse, and Haku didn't want that to happen either.
"Dynamic entry!" said Rock Lee appearing out of nowhere, as he threw a flying kick at Sephiroth, and would have it if not for Haku intercepting the limb by catching it before throwing him into a nearby wall.
"Lee!" said Tenten quickly drawing out two kamas after seeing the masked girl throw her teammate away.
"Where's my cousin? Where is Hinata-sama" said Neji in his Gentle Fist stance.
"In the room down the hall at the very end with her team and Jounin sensei. Why?" said Sephiroth calmly while Lee got up from the ground shaking his head to get the cobwebs out.
"Why are you here?" said Neji seeing the headband more clearly on Sephiroth's forehead with the musical note symbol.
"The same reason you are here, only my reason is different, and more professional. Come Haku. Let's go see who else will send their teams to this test and doom," said Sephiroth, as he walked towards the two members of Maito Gai's team, and saw them tensing with each step he took with neither one wanting to drop their guard.
"It would be wise to lower your weapons and limbs unless you wish to lose them. If Sephiroth-sama wanted you dead he could have done it easily without my interference," said Haku coldly, as she saw them look at her, and then at Sephiroth before doing what was advised to be in the best interest of their health.
Letting the two pass, the members of Genin team 9 watched them leave, and then decided to head to where the other Genin teams were located.
They would need to have a serious talk with the others before the exams started if what Gai told them was true about Kakashi's team entering.
(Jounin Waiting Room-10 Minutes Later)
"Did you hear the rumors?" said Kakashi to Gekko Hayate coughing slightly a nice safe distance from him.
"About Sephiroth being here? How could I not. It caused quite a panic. Even now the Hokage is having the ANBU searching for him," said Hayate, as he hope Yugao would be okay, and didn't do anything foolish in encountering Sephiroth alone.
"She also has a group of ANBU near the Academy for the exams in case he heads there to kill the next generation of Shinobi. It would be a big disaster for the Leaf and discredit her in being Hokage of the Leaf if it happened," said Kakashi, as he continued reading his book, but when the door behind him opened, and turned to see if it was one of his fellow Jounin...the orange tomb of perverseness fell to the ground in shock.
Namikaze Sephiroth was standing in the room.
Poor Hayate went into a coughing fit while trying to draw his sword with little success at seeing what his fellow Jounin saw while cursing the person who thought of putting the Shinobi alert button right near the door. To Sephiroth, it was quite an amusing sight to see the two stunned Shinobi in the room looking at him, and their different reactions to his presence.
"Dynamic entry!" said Maito Gai from behind trying to strike against Sephiroth with the result being the same for him as it was Lee only this time the One-Winged Angel caught the kick before sending the man down hard onto the floor with enough force to break his leg.
"Don't do that again Maito Gai because the next time you do...I'm going break your neck instead of your leg," said Sephiroth healing the broken leg, then he walked further into the room, and sat down with Haku right beside him while eyeing Kakashi behind her mask ready be her Master's shield.
"So have you come here to gloat about the Leaf's mission to Wave Country nearly being a disaster with two teams leading it?" said Kakashi, as he had read the mission report, and had to admit it was brilliant what Sephiroth did.
"Do I really look to be the arrogant type? I'm here because my Genin team is here for the Chuunin Exams and I was under the impression this was where Jounin senseis go to talk among themselves. Though Suna's Jounin sensei seemed...distant when I spoke with him briefly in the hall. I wonder why?" said Sephiroth looking at Haku, who could only shrug, and did when it appeared the question was aimed at her.
"I see. So you joined a minor village knowing you could enter Konoha using one of the laws of the international treaty setup by the Daimyos of the Elemental Countries for the Chuunin Exams," said Kakashi, as he saw the headband on Sephiroth's forehead, and saw it was from a village he didn't recognize.
"Of course. After I heard about my Godmother becoming the new Hokage, I was curious about her, and wanted to see how she was running the village in the Sandaime's place," said Sephiroth, as he saw Kakashi's eye narrow at the mention of the Third Hokage, and knew it would touch a nerve for the Jounin.
"You should treat the man with respect. The Sandaime Hokage was a great Shinobi in his day," said Kakashi seeing Sephiroth scoffing slightly.
"In his prime perhaps. However, in the end he died a spineless old man, and was more of a politician then a Shinobi," said Sephiroth while hearing Kakashi's hands tighten into fists and ignored the glare from Hayate.
"You're just saying that because your bitter over what the Sandaime, the Yondaime, and Jiraiya did to your previous body," said Kakashi trying to hit the same nerve Sephiroth had hit him with.
"Actually I'm not bitter. How could I be bitter when I killed him and my Father on the same night," said Sephiroth seeing Kakashi's shocked and confused look on his masked face.
"What do you mean? The Yondaime Hokage died 12 years ago!" said Kakashi, as the cruel memory of that moment flooded his mind, and the urge to ram a kunai into the One-Wing Angels face was starting to feel more appealing with each passing second.
"Yes, but a piece of his soul was still connected to the seal in the off chance the Kyuubi could get out, and I met him within my seal the night of my return. We had a few...words before my Mother appeared and helped me push my Father into Kyuubi's cage for the fox to get his revenge," said Sephiroth chuckling at the memory while Kakashi was livid at this information.
"YOU SOLD OUT YOUR OWN FATHER TO THE FOX!" yelled Kakashi in anger now standing up not caring if anyone heard them and actually preferred someone did.
"Considering what he did to his own son with the help of Sandaime and Jiraiya I think it was only fair for him to understand the ramification that resulted from of his actions. The fact my Father didn't care about how I was abused by the people of the Leaf when I was Uzumaki Naruto only gave me further incentive to see him suffer and my Mother was in full agreement with me," said Sephiroth not caring that Kakashi yelled and was expecting it given the man's deep connection to them both.
"Your Father was a great man and all he asked of you was to endure a little pain to ensure lives would be spared an unholy wrath by a monster made flesh!" said Kakashi angrily, but the anger was nothing compared to Sephiroth when the swordsman turned his now icy eyes at the Jounin, and rose to look the man even closer in proximity.
"A little bit of pain? When I was Uzumaki Naruto and just 8 years old there was a group of those so called people my Father wanted me to protect tried to set me on fire! They were laughing, calling me a demon, an abomination while saying they were going to heaven for killing me, and doing Kami's work in ending my life. A year earlier, another group tied me to a tree, and used my body as target practice for their throwing weapons. The people of this village are scum and the fact you would side with them knowing they brought the prophecy on themselves makes you just as bad as them," said Sephiroth, as he saw Kakashi narrow his eye at him, and wanted to slug the boy hard in the face.
"It was necessary for the good of the people of the Leaf and the world," said Kakashi in a deadly voice.
"It was necessary to amuse a mob of bigots and arrogant fools. People like you think that just because you survived so many horrible things that you're invincible and that you are superior to others because of it. Your not! You and the rest of the fools that believe such nonsense are the reason I exist. I exist in this world to remove such people from it and to bring things into a proper balance," said Sephiroth before leaving the room with Haku beside him, as they had enough of this place, and those within it.
"Is what Sephiroth said true Kakashi?" said Hayate, as he had heard rumors about the boy's abuse, but never had some of it confirmed by the kid himself, and with such hate behind the words.
"It doesn't matter. The point is the boy should have sucked it up like sensei wanted," said Kakashi while glaring at Sephiroth's back.
"I doubt you would be saying that if you were in his shoes. Remember Kakashi, you say he should suck it up now, but if you were in his situation, I think the tune you are singing would change, and wouldn't be so accepting of the Yondaime's decision," said Hayate before he left the room to report to the Hokage of his sighting of Sephiroth.
"Idiot. What does he know?" said Kakashi before sitting back down.
"He knows enough my rival. He knows that the Leaf brought the prophecy on ourselves and its people are too arrogant to admit it," said Gai having heard everything and let the swordsman pass him without resistance.
"Shut up Gai," said Kakashi, as he was in no mood to hear from people questioning his sensei, the Sandaime, or Jiraiya of the Sannin for that matter.
Tsunade was trying to hold onto her patience, as she waited for Sephiroth to be escorted into her office, and hoped the people that did weren't idiots to provoke him. All of the international laws the Daimyos setup were for the most part a two way street, as the host village, and country of the Chuunin Exams could be punished if there is evidence of the village mistreating its guests.
Even the Fire Daimyo had to play by the rules knowing that while Fire Country was the strongest of the Elemental Countries, could still be stopped by the overwhelming force of the other countries wanting to put the Feudal Lord in his place. The man had become arrogant with his power since the end of the last Shinobi war when the Yondaime took office and more so after the defeat of Kyuubi giving the Feudal Lord of Fire Country considerable bragging rights.
Arrogance was a poison on humanity and right now it infested most of the village and the only power higher then the Hokage's in Fire Country.
"Tsunade-sama! He's coming," said Shizune entering the room looking nervous.
Working quickly, Tsunade wanted Sephiroth to look upon her impressed at sight of his Godmother, and quickly removed all things that would make him think less of her. The female Hokage quickly hid the paperwork that she still needed to be finish, the sake', the emergency sake', the other emergency sake' for when Shizune took the others, and had to quickly make sure her own features were not out of place. Hair, skin, clothing, and even Tsunade's boobs needed to be checked to ensure everything was set for when Sephiroth stepped through that door.
Within moments of Shizune giving Tsunade a thumbs up, the door to the room opened, and Sephiroth entered with Haku by his side while ANBU were behind them looking ready to strike the moment they saw any signs of attack aimed at their Hokage. As for Sephiroth himself, he along with Haku were looking around the room before stopping at the Hokage's desk, and the current Hokage sitting behind it.
"Welcome back to Konoha Namikaze Sephiroth. Thank you for meeting with me. Leave us!" said Tsunade while smiling at her Godson before pointing at the ANBU to leave.
"With all do respect Hokage-sama, this thing is responsible for killing your predecessor, and it would be risky to leave you here without protection," said the ANBU Captain, as he saw Sephiroth glance at him, and saw the smirk on the swordsman's face.
"I'm not asking. I'm telling you, as a direct order from your Hokage, and you wouldn't be disobeying an order from your Hokage now, would you Captain?" said Tsunade, as she glared at the man, and waited until they finally obeyed her orders.
"Some things in this village haven't changed since I was here last not that long ago," said Sephiroth sitting down in his chair while Haku did the same with her own though she made sure they were both free of potential restraints to capture him.
"Regrettably so I'm afraid. Sephiroth I...I want you to know that I wouldn't have left you here to the pain you suffered under my Grandfather's village. Your Mother and I were very close when growing up. Kushina was the daughter I always wanted and when she asked me to be your Godmother after all that had happened in my life in losing people I cared about...I couldn't refuse. After Kyuubi was sealed, the Sandaime came to see me, he said that you had died after the sealing due to the strain, and you along with the Kyuubi were destroyed. At the time, I had no reason to doubt my sensei since he rarely ever lied to me in the first place, and when I came back for his funeral after learning the reason behind his death...I just couldn't bring myself to mourn him properly. What your Father, my sensei, and my former teammate did to use you the way they did was wrong," said Tsunade, as she saw Sephiroth close his eyes for a second, and take a long deep breath while she held her own inside.
"I believe you. There are no lies in your words. Only sorrow laced with the truth. For that reason, I offer you this warning, and information regarding this village to protect those worth protecting," said Sephiroth sensing Haku's shock at him helping the Leaf.
"What warning? What piece of information?" said Tsunade, as she saw Sephiroth eye the wall to his right, and then motioned for Haku to deal with it in a second.
"Orochimaru plans to invade Konoha during the Chuunin Exams," said Sephiroth after Haku moved quickly, decisively, and threw a barrage of senbon needles at the wall he had looked at to reveal a now unconscious Root Shinobi that had been concealing himself under a Genjutsu before having been turned into a living pin cushion.
"I see. Anything else you can tell me?" said Tsunade, as she eyed the Root Shinobi on the ground, and snarled in anger at the fact this one of ANBU Captain level was listening on their conversation on the whims of Danzo.
Private security force her big breasts!
"Only that it's suppose to happen later in the game. He's getting all his pieces ready to invade while your pieces aren't even on the board. Even if they were, chances are that Orochimaru will know where to counter your pieces due to the spies in the Leaf, and other people wishing to take your title for themselves," said Sephiroth, as he saw his Godmother nod slowly knowing who was being referred to, and would make sure plans were put in motion to protect the Leaf on both fronts.
"I'll take care of it," said Tsunade before seeing Sephiroth rise from his chair to leave.
"My service here is done. Keep an eye on the Genin teams for these exams. Nothing is what it seems and the snake has the ability to shed its skin in order to prevent its death or capture," said Sephiroth, as he headed towards the door, and stopped when Tsunade called out to him.
"Sephiroth wait! If the people in the village were punished...would you come back to live here?" said Tsunade seeing him stop at the door to pause and weigh her words.
"In all honesty my Godmother, my answer is no to your question, and it doesn't matter if you did punish the people responsible for my suffering. The Fire Daimyo wouldn't let you punish them regardless. I know he supported the decision to have me suffer while I was in the form of Uzumaki Naruto and to have all those seals placed on my body," said Sephiroth, as he left the room, and didn't look back though Haku did before following behind her Master.
"That was an interesting conversation," said Shizune, as she saw just how protective the girl Haku was of Sephiroth, and how complex the swordsman seemed to be when they spoke.
"No shit. Even though he doesn't hate me, its clear Sephiroth is not happy with the Leaf, and I fear for the lives of those in the village that don't deserve his wrath. Even if such a number of people are only a handful," said Tsunade, as she sighed knowing things were getting out of hand, and it was through her Godson that it was happening.
Damn her sensei. Jiraiya, and any others that followed their line of thought.
(Konoha Streets-Moments Later)
Many people gave Sephiroth a wide open space to walk through the streets of the village, as the swordsman had a small smile on his face, and ignored the people whispering about him behind his back. He had heard all of it before, as they would say all their usual hate filled words, and wondering why the ANBU weren't here in this area to arrest or kill him. Many wondered who the masked person was beside him with the Sound headband, as the name of the Sephiroth's partner was kept tight lipped sealed by the Hokage herself, and that if the information got out then everyone who knew Haku's name would face Ibiki along with Anko in the I&T Dept. for a little chat.
The last thing Tsunade needed was someone trying to attack the girl and unleash a fury that the Leaf had no hope of withstanding at the hands of Haku's Master.
"Monster!" yelled a young teary eyed child filled with anger in his voice now several feet behind Sephiroth while in the middle of the street with a kunai in hand.
Turning slowly to see the child, who called him that name, Sephiroth came face to face with a scarf wearing boy wearing the Sandaime's war helmet, and was wearing a child like version of the Sandaime's uniform. From his own memories, Sephiroth recalled him talking to the Sandaime about his Grandson, and this kid seemed to look just like the old Kage.
"So the Grandson of the Sandaime graces me with his presence. And he's ready for battle too!" said Sephiroth in an amused voice while smiling slightly at the fool hardy child.
"You killed my Grandfather! I, Sarutobi Konohamaru shall avenge him!" said the boy, as he had now got all eyes on both of them, and just about everyone waiting to see what would happen.
"I've killed people in three countries and in this lifetime alone. What's your point?" said Sephiroth with a slightly raised eyebrow.
"You had no right to kill him!" said the angry child before he charged at Sephiroth, but was stopped by a flash of white light, and the tip of the older boy's sword now touching the tip of the Sandaime's helmet.
"I had no right? Is that what you just said? Before you jump rash conclusions that could get you killed child, I suggest you learn all the facts behind your Grandfather's demise, and not just what the arrogant people say just to spite me. Your Grandfather wronged me for first 12 years of my life. He fed me lies, he let people hurt me, and didn't care that I was constantly tormented by the fools around us. The man cost me a happy life to call my own and his debt had to be paid...by paying with his own life," said Sephiroth, as he saw the child look at him with denial, and would have shaken his head too if not for the tip of Masamune threatening to tear through it into the child's skull.
"He was a hero!" said Konohamaru defiantly.
"When he was younger, I'm sure the Sandaime was indeed the hero everyone made him out to be, and did his job nobly. However, the man I killed was a weak, sniveling old man, who had failed to understand the simple fact that some things cannot be stopped, and to try stopping them will only result in their manifestation. He let an innocent child suffer to prevent the sinner within that child from coming out, but the end result of his action just made that sinner come out, and let me take my revenge for the innocent part of my soul that should not have suffered in the first place. At the moment, you are too young to truly understand this, and worse is your mind has already been deeply poisoned by those that speak ill of me," said Sephiroth, as he dispelled his sword, and turned to leave with a shocked child in his wake.
"Where are you going? Why not kill me like you did my Grandfather?" said Konohamaru in shock and anger at being spared.
"Because despite your mentality being poisoned by those around you, I sense there is still a chance for it to be saved, and to see things from a far greater perspective. However, in the event that you cannot, I will have no choice, but to destroy you, and believe me when I say...I do not wish to do that," said Sephiroth, as he walked away from the still shocked child, and headed for some place peaceful where he along with Haku could relax.
Not many options considering just where they were.
However, like his Genin team, Sephiroth just needed to survive today, and live through tomorrow so his plans could come to fruition.
(A/N: YAY! I updated. Hope you liked it. Until next time...PEACE!)