For all those people out there who care, I just got out of surgery this week. Ankle is now sore and wrapped up but hey, only 6 weeks till I'm back to 100% =D
Naruto's eyes lit up as the information was received and he called out to the two Jounin nearby.
"Kurenai, Anko! We're heading over to meet up with Tsunade-baachan! Jiraiya worked out how to find Naruko!"
Both spun around, eyes wide. "Really? How?"
Both Naruto's shrugged. "Don't know, he didn't say. All I know is that we need to get back there now."
Climbing down from the roof they were standing on, Kurenai dusted herself down. "Right. Lead the way then."
Nodding once, both blonds disappeared in a flash, quickly followed by Kurenai and then Anko.
Kakashi merely raised an eyebrow once the information had been transmitted. Sighing, he tucked his hands into his pockets and jumped down from the tree he was searching. Landing in a crouch, he eyed up the now determined Naruto and internally smiled. It was good to see some life back in his student. Straightening up, Kakashi looked around.
"Would you mind leading the way? I'd rather not have to try pinpoint the Hokage's location."
Rolling his eyes, Naruto grumbled something about lazy sensei's before jumping into a tree and then vanishing.
Back with Tsunade, Naruto nodded. "Alright, everyone is on their way here. Except Gai. He managed to pop my clone with him a while back."
Sighing, Tsunade rubbed her forehead. "To be expected I suppose."
Pulling out her radio, she tuned it into Gai's frequency and barked out a sharp order. A static filled cry of "YOUTH" spat back out of the speaker before falling silent. Rolling her eyes, Tsunade spared a thought for the Genin under the eccentric Jounin's tutelage. How they all weren't all wearing green spandex by now was beyond her. Tucking it away, she turned back to Jiraiya who was still kneeling down. Walking over, she tapped his shoulder and broke him from his concentration.
"So how is it that you suddenly managed to discover Naruko's whereabouts?"
Shaking his head, the tall man got to his feet. "I haven't worked it out yet, but I know a sure fire way to. Rather than tell everyone individually though, I'll wait for them to get here."
Nodding reluctantly, Tsunade backed off and waited for the group. Unsurprisingly, it was Gai that turned up first, the man barrelling through the leaves and branches like they didn't exist. Landing, he snapped into a salute directed at his leader. "Awaiting orders, Hokage-sama!"
The lady waved him down. "Nothing needed just yet. Wait for the others to arrive, then Jiraiya will explain."
Shouting out in agreement, the man then jumped back, landing in a handstand. Raising himself onto the thumb and forefinger of one hand, he began doing push ups, all the while calling out the numbers loudly.
Groaning, Tsunade rubbed her forehead. "I hope this doesn't take too long. I don't know how much of that I can take."
To her pleasant surprise, Kurenai and Anko popped through the trees just as she finished speaking. Landing quietly, they dashed over to Tsunade.
Tsunade shook her head. "We have to wait for Kakashi. Jiraiya doesn't want to repeat himself."
Frowning, Kurenai nodded while Anko laughed. "Might as well pitch a tent then and get settled down for the night."
"We'll be eating beforehand, yes? I'm a bit hungry."
The snake wielding kunoichi turned to spare the masked man a curious glance before shrugging as he jogged up to them. "Not anymore."
"Shut up, the both of you and come see Jiraiya."
Instantly at attention, they both forewent their bickering and hurried to join the group around the tall Sannin. Seeing them gather around, Jiraiya jumped right into it.
"Ok, I'm not wasting any breath here so listen up cause I'm saying it once. A couple of days ago, I worked with Naruto and Naruko to try establish a power reading after the split. During that time, I discovered that their chakra is attracted to each others in a rather unique way. It actually pulls towards the other as it is generated. Using that, we can basically use Naruto here as a homing beacon to find Naruko."
Eyes widening in surprise, everyone looked down at the startled boy.
"How come I didn't think of that? Hell, why didn't you think of that before Ero-Sennin?"
Jiraiya shook his head, clearly annoyed with himself. "I don't know. Something like that should have jumped straight to my mind." Growling, he continued. "Never the less, we also have another problem."
The group leaned in, eager to hear more. "I don't know if it's because Naruko isn't producing any chakra at the moment, or if it's because of distance, but while Naruto's chakra certainly moves towards her, it's that weak I can't really pinpoint its direct location. I only just realised this so any suggestions would be appreciated."
Kurenai instantly spoke up. "It works with his clone too, yes?"
The man nodded.
"Good, we'll have Naruto create a few more clones and then fan out. Using the slight differences in angle, we should be able to find the epicentre."
Smiling, Jiraiya flashed the attractive woman a grin. "Ah, good thinking there. Konoha's lucky to have you."
Flushing ever so slightly, Kurenai managed to maintain composure. Pervert or not, praise from one of the three Sannin was a big thing.
Turning to the boy, Jiraiya smiled at the downright scary look on the boy's face. "Ready to find your sister?"
The original as well as every clone raised their hands in a cross. "You damn well better believe it." And in a puff of smoke, over one hundred clones surrounded the surprised adults.
"Naruto! That was a little overboard don't you think?"
Growling, Naruto shook his head. "If this finds her faster, then I'll be doin' it."
Getting ready to generate chakra, Naruto quickly paused and then looked up at Jiraiya sharply. "Hang on a second, if this works, then does that mean Naruko might be in my mind, like, with the fox?"
Eyebrows raised as Jiraiya thought over the possibility. "Well, yes, actually, if it isn't distance that causes a problem though. Can you try it out now?"
Dropping to the floor, Naruto already had his eyes closed. "Way ahead of you Ero-Sennin."
Opening his eyes, Naruto wasted no time in jumping to his feet and dashing down the sewers of his mind till he reached the giant cage. Taking a deep breath, Naruto cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted.
"NARUKO-NEE! OI, YOU HERE?"
"Shut your gaping hole human, I was sleeping."
Naruto spun around to see the massive face of the fox glaring down at him. "You! Have you seen Naruko-nee in here?"
The demon spat off to the side. "And what makes you think I'd tell you such a thing? Get out of here before I overload your chakra coils."
Naruto just glared right back up at the monstrous being. "Like hell you could, fuzz ball. The seal stops that and you damn well know it. Now, have you seen Naruko or not?"
"I said I'm over here!"
Turning, Naruto ignored the fuming demon behind him to see his sister standing there, frowning. Rushing forward, Naruto took her up in a massive hug. The girl make a choking sound as the breath was squeezed from her before she was set down. When she looked back up into her brothers eyes though, her own features darkened as she saw the fury in his tear filled eyes.
"I've been so worried. Do you know where you are now?""
Shaking her head, Naruko growled and tussled her hair with a free hand. "No, unfortunately. The second they grabbed me, they stuffed me into a bag. When they finally took me out, all I could see was that I was in some big dark room. There were a few people off to the side I swear I could almost recognise, but then something chopped the back of my neck and I woke up here."
Frowning, Naruto stepped back. "So you didn't see anything of any use?"
Again, the girl shook her head. "No."
Sighing, Naruto took her hand in his and gazed fiercely into her eyes. "Well, don't worry, we're coming to get you! You remember how when we trained, our chakra pulled together? Well that's how we're gona find you!"
Eyes widening, Naruko's face lit up. "No way! That is so cool!"
Naruto nodded, but then frowned. "It is, but for some reason, it's not working as well as it did that day. Ero-Sennin thinks it might be because we're too far away from you, or because you ain't generating any chakra at the moment."
Naruko had a quick think. "Well, I'm not too far away I don't think. I wasn't travelling all that long before I was unbagged."
Nodding, Naruto released his sister's hand and stepped back. "Well, that's good. If you get any chance, you try explode out all the chakra you can, ok?"
His sister smiled back, looking every bit as dangerous as Naruto. "Don't you worry. I'll level the entire building if I get the chance."
Barely thirty seconds later, Naruto opened his eyes and stood up. "She was in there. I asked where she was and all she could tell me was that she was in a big dark room. She doesn't think she's too far away though because she wasn't travelling that long."
Nodding Tsunade stepped back and pointed to the mass of clones before her. "Alright then! Follow Kurenai's idea and fan out, single file. Then, get generating and let's find this girl!"
In a unanimous cry, the blond mass before her thinned out. Quickly reaching position, they all clasped their own hands and began generating a sizeable wave of chakra. The adults then looked at the blue glow surrounding the group and frowned when they saw its pull. Making a hand signal, several ANBU appeared by Tsunade's side, all waiting for her command.
"Naruko has been located. Spread out over the Hokage monument and seal off the boundaries. Go!"
Grunting in acknowledgment, they disappeared. Seeing them vanish, Tsunade walked forward.
"Hokage Mountain hey? Well, time to move!"
As the group dashed towards the massive monument at the center of the town, they managed to pick up a few other Jounin along the way after they sensed Naruto's chakra raise. Asuma was one of the first to join in, falling back beside Kurenai and getting filled in off her. Shortly after him, Genma Shiranui appeared, toothpick and all. He was briefed by the Hokage before nodding and disappearing, going off to assist the ANBU with their mission. Others appeared and were promptly spread out with the ANBU as well. Drawing closer to the mountain, Jiraiya noticed that the tug on Naruto's chakra was increasing.
"Oi Naruto, start cancelling clones, it's getting easier to detect her."
Grunting in affirmation, Naruto dispelled fifty of the clones.
"Oh and Naruto..."
Looking over his shoulder, the boy eyed up his mentor. "As much as I know you want to start blowing holes in the mountain, this will be a silent mission, meaning NO noise until we reach Naruko. Got it?"
Frowning, Naruto looked forward again but nodded never the less. "Got it. But once we find her..."
He let the threat hang in the air. Sighing, Jiraiya shook his head. "Naruto, I know what you're thinking and I'll seal all your chakra away if you don't listen to me. We need you with your head screwed on straight, not just as a mindless destruction ball."
Turning around in protest, Naruto fixed his angry gaze on the old man. "But what about the bastards that snatched Naruko-nee, huh? What are we doin' with them?"
Jiraiya matched the glare levelled at him easily. "We capture them and then send them to Ibiki."
The silent response as the blond turned back around unnerved the Sannin more than if Naruto just blew up in his face. He could try and imagine, but when it came to working out that boy, he could never be 100% sure what he was going to do.
Deep within the mountain, a certain less than reputable individual's senses perked as they picked up a very slight change in chakra from the village Jinchuuriki. It seemed that the boy was on the move. Chuckling to himself, he took a sly look at his counterpart. The man beside him hadn't taken his focus off the naked girl before him, such was his concentration. Just then, a masked ninja tried to interrupt them, bowing low.
"My Lord, something urgent that requires your immediate attention has – "
The man was silenced by a kunai that sunk in between his eyes before he could even move. It seemed the high profile person was quite serious in his command to not be disturbed under any circumstances.
Licking his lips in anticipation, his eyes flashed as the boy neared. He would have liked to have known who else was out there, but the chakra suppressing walls stopped all but the strongest signals getting through. Smiling, the man merely went back to observing the girl before him. He liked surprises sometimes. It made things fun.
The group now rested at the base of the Hokage monument. All but seven of Naruto's clones now remained, each having suppressed their chakra as low as they could manage. Though it was a sensible idea, the boy and his clones still argued vehemently against it.
"But how are we meant to find Naruko if we don't follow my chakra?"
A clone dispersed as Jiraiya cuffed the back of its head. He tisked in annoyance that it wasn't the real one. "Sometimes, you just have to make do without. By all means, you could charge right on in there with your chakra blazing, but you may as well walk in with neon lights strapped to your arms and legs, shouting at the top of your lungs and have a massive kill-me sign lit up on your back."
Grumbling to himself, Naruto crossed his arms and fell silent. Sighing, Jiraiya turned to the rest of the group and motioned them in closer.
"Alright, we'll each take one Naruto with us to try and find a way in. I'll take the real one as to protect him the best. Kurenai, you head west and scour the bottom of the mountain. Anko, same deal, except you're up high. Kakashi, Gai, you two head east and look that way. Tsunade and I will look around on top. Asuma, stay here and be on the lookout for anyone suspicious. Once you find something, pop your clone. Understood?"
They all nodded once and disappeared. Grabbing a Naruto in each arm, Jiraiya and Tsunade then began scaling the face of the mountain expertly, each melting into the shadows and effectively disappearing from sight. Upon reaching the summit, Jiraiya dropped the two kids and they all disappeared into the trees. Quickly gathering under the roots of a particularly large tree, Jiraiya made eye contact with the other three members.
"Alright, you already know what we're trying to find, but not what it could look like. Kakashi and Anko have a history of these kind of hide outs so there was no need to tell them this. What we're looking for is something hidden in plain sight. It could be as insignificant as a pebble that opens up the ground. The one thing that will help you find such a thing though is numbers. Nine out of ten times the 'pebble' will be hidden amongst a host of other pebbles to make it less obvious. So large patches of grass by themselves, rock clusters, anything like that is worth looking into. Stay low to the ground and make sure you don't get caught."
He said the last line while glaring meaningfully at Naruto. Naruto glared back, but nodded once in recognition. With that, they dispersed.
It had been about ten minutes since the group had broken up and both Anko and Kurenai were beginning to get frustrated. The old stone wall held many promising looking openings that all turned out to be nothing but lizard or snake holes. They had each been nearly bitten several times by angry creatures when reaching in to see if a latch was hidden in there. When one such small mammal managed to sink its teeth into Anko's finger, the thing found itself chopped in half and flung across the rooftops with an angry grunt. Dropping to the ground, Anko sucked her finger as she reached into her bag to pull out a small bandage. The chunk of flesh that had been torn from her finger was sizeable. Seeing Kurenai near her, she tried to speak around her finger while she fumbled about.
Kurenai shook her head. "No, I thought I had something about fifty yards from here but it turned out to be a deserted route that had caved in. It atleast tells us though that there has been activity here relatively recently."
Winding the flap of skin closed, Anko tied off the knot. "That means that they probably relocated it somewhere nearby here. While I was with that pedo-snake, when something like this happened, they merely shifted the entrance over a couple hundred feet. It rarely happened though so I'm not sure if that's what they'd have done here."
Kurenai nodded and turned. "Alright then. I'll search the far side of the entrance." Watching her jump off, Anko sighed and began hunting around her end.
Kakashi and Gai though were fairing somewhat better. Gai had quite literally stumbled over a rock a third of the way up the side of the cliff when it opened a small hole in the wall. Gai had always said that luck was a part of a ninja's arsenal and it had just paid off in spades for the Jounin. Kakashi and both Naruto's had managed to squeeze in without too much trouble, but Gai had quickly found himself stuck due to his broad shoulders. Kakashi looked over his shoulder as the man continued to try follow his rival.
"Gai, just accept that you can't fit in here. Hold onto one of the clones and keep looking around. A doorway is hardly ever this small, so it probably means it's an air vent or something similar. Check down lower to see if the door is there."
Growling in defeat, the big man retreated. "Fine then, Kakashi. You win this round. But never fear, for next time I will emerge victorious!"
Disappearing from the hole, Kakashi sweat-dropped slightly at the boisterous man. "So... when did that become a challenge?"
Dropping to the ground, Gai looked around; half hoping his luck would pay up again. Naruto landed silently by his side a moment later, looking at the rock face intently. He fingered several indents, inquisitive fingers playing across the holes rapidly. He then jumped as a heavy thump sounded out behind him. Spinning around, he saw Asuma standing there, disinterested look on his face while holding a strange ninja under his arm.
"Got this guy before he escaped. Little blighter managed to get my Naruto though. The ANBU have been picking off other fellows like this all over the shop. They keep appearing from who knows where, and they've begun to start fighting back. At first they were just spectating, but then it started getting messy."
Dropping the man, he leaned down and ripped the strange animal mask from his face. They were all a little surprised though when behind it was the rather blank, unassuming face of a woman. Frowning, Asuma gave her a shake and began questioning her.
"Alright, what's going on here? Why were you preparing to attack fellow nin?"
The woman's face remained black. "I'm not at liberty to say. You were deemed a threat that had to be taken care of."
Gai stood over the woman, piercing eyes having absolutely no effect on her. "I assume you are a Konoha ninja?"
The woman nodded once.
"Well then, how can you justify attacking a fellow ninja? The life of a comrade is of highest priority! It is one of the first things we are taught!"
The woman shook her head. "No, the mission comes first and ALWAYS first. Any action required to complete it successfully is permissible."
Growling, Asuma scratched his head. "Well this sucks. Damn ROOT operatives. Nothing but emotionless drones. We won't get anything from her."
Gai frowned thoughtfully as he considered the problem. "Well, this in itself is even greater proof to Danzo-sama's involvement. We should report it."
Unbeknownst to the two though, Naruto had hesitantly picked up the discarded mask and flipped it over.
A wide mouth, two triangles on each cheek in what appeared a deep blue and wide set eyes.
Naruto's eyes glazed over slightly as the mask dropped from his hands.
The two Jounin barely had time to look around before they were blown away from the woman. Naruto, now shrouded in a thick, bubbling mass of red yoki mounted the lady, fists gripping the front of her shirt so tightly that his fingers pierced the tough fabric. Her eyes widened slightly, a single bead of sweat rolling down her cheek as she considered her options. Leaning in, he pulled her ear up so it came level with his mouth. He whispered into it, his quiet voice gravelly and laden with a paralysing killer intent.
"Where did you take my sister?"
"I-I cannot say... classified."
Pulling back a claw filled hand; Naruto moved his face in closer, burning the woman's face with the toxic shroud.
"Sure you don't wana tell me?"
She hesitantly shook her head, looking like she wanted to say something but unable to do so.
"Well then, you're useless to me."
Just as his hand descended, a kunai lodged itself in the base of his skull. His eyes and mouth widened in pain before he exploded in a puff of smoke.
Behind him, a sweating Gai had his hand outstretched from the throw. Wiping his brow, he looked over at Asuma, the man still sitting on his haunches. They then both looked down at the ROOT agent. Despite all her training, she was still staring off into the sky, eyes unfocused, coated in sweat and shivering slightly.
Swallowing, Asuma calmed himself before pulling himself to his feet. Dusting down his pants, he lit another cigarette and inhaled deeply. "Well, there goes our sneak attack."
Gai shrugged, still getting over that last bit of excitement. "We had already been detected. You said so yourself. It's just a good thing ANBU are taking care of that side of things. Never the less, everyone will be more on edge after that. We must hurry."
Grunting in response, Asuma walked over to the comatose kunoichi. He quickly tied her up in several layers of rope and fastened it securely. Once done, he hoisted the Kunoichi over his shoulder, settling her weight over it evenly. Turning back, he nodded at his fellow Jounin. Gai returned the gesture and then the ninja split, Gai doubling his previous efforts to find anything and Asuma taking the woman off to Ibiki.
Kakashi felt the brief chakra flare from below, before it cut short. At that instant though, Naruto flinched and nearly kicked the man's face in. Not even having to ask, Naruto growled out an explanation and stared shuffling forward twice as fast.
"Bitch down there was the one that stole my sister."
Sighing at the uncontrollable blond, Kakashi deduced that he was too reckless to keep with him. He quickly sliced the ankles of the clone and dispersed it. Tucking away the kunai, he prayed Naruto would forgive him as he began shuffling forward again.
Over with the women, they both whipped their heads over to the source of the chakra flare. Feeling it cut short, they instantly looked down at the Genin with them, each now growling dangerously.
"Naruto, what happened?"
Neither looked back, instead each taking a few steps forward. "Asuma-sensei found the one that took my sister. They also have a lead too. Let's go."
And before either woman could say anything, the blonds dashed off. Sighing petulantly, Anko dropped down beside her friend.
"That boy is way too energetic."
Kurenai nodded. "He still has much to learn. However, this isn't the time. Come on, let's catch up."
Both Jiraiya and Tsunade glanced over at the cliff edge before jumping on both Naruto's in a pre-emptive action. His surprise quickly turned to rage as his memories filtered back to him and he began thrashing, shouting loudly all the while.
"Oi, let me up! I gotta get down there! That woman who took Naruko is down there as well as a way in!"
Tsunade dispelled the clone beneath her with a single flick while Jiraiya settled for slamming the boy into the ground hard enough to crack it. Slightly dazed and now quiet, Jiraiya dragged the boy into a shaded spot, dropping him there just as Tsunade arrived. He quickly came to but found himself unable to scream his protests, having had a silencer seal thrust upon him. Instead, he sent his mentor the most menacing gaze he could possibly muster while flapping around. Slumping to the ground as a paralysis seal found a home next to the silencer, Jiraiya quickly began talking.
"Look, I know you hate me right now but there were several reasons I did that. The first being that after that, this place is going to be swarming with ROOT. Next, it's too far to be practical. Thirdly, there are going to be atleast four fully qualified Jounin there already. Us being there would make it too crowded and we'd get under each other's feet. And finally, yes, there may be a way in down there, but there MUST be more than one way in, so we stay up here and continue searching. While unwanted, that flare of yours will draw the most attention, so if we can get in through a back door, we'll get the drop on these guys twice as easily. Clear?"
Naruto just glared at the Sannin for a moment until Jiraiya remembered the seals.
Removing the silencer seal, Jiraiya held a finger to his lips. "So are you going to cooperate?"
Naruto growled but then sighed in resignation. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Just let me up so we can keep searching. I wana find these pricks now and rain down hell on them!"
Tsunade rolled her eyes and motioned at Jiraiya to undo it. "That's the best we'll probably get for now. Let him up so we can get on with it."
Nodding, Jiraiya stepped backwards as Naruto flexed an arm. Jumping to his feet, his eyes blazed intensely as he began marching back out. He was quickly pulled back though as Jiraiya knelt down. "Now remember, this is about stealth. Not everything is about massive explosions and fancy jutsu. This is real, and if we're not careful, something very bad could happen to Naruko. So I want you to promise me you'll focus and not let your emotions control you."
Visibly shaking, Naruto managed to speak out through his clenched teeth. "I... I promise."
Jiraiya held his hand out. "Shake on it."
Naruto just glared up at him. "You know that my promises are unbreakable. I never go back on my word. Now quit stalling and let's get on with it."
Sighing, Jiraiya dropped the hand. "Well, atleast relay it to the remaining clones ok?"
Nodding once, Naruto created a clone only to coat hanger it a split second later as he softly stomped off into the trees. Moving up, Tsunade rested a ghost of a hand on her tall friends arm. "I'm worried about him. I've never seen him so angry."
Jiraiya nodded. "Indeed. This is the worst thing that could have happened. Taking away family that he had only just been reunited with was just begging to have him to level the area. I'm just glad he's still able to have sense talked into him."
Tsunade nodded. "Any more of this though and we'll have to immobilise him. We cannot have him risk his and his sister's life like this."
Grunting in response, Jiraiya began walking after the boy.
Kakashi grunted as another stray rock dug into his shoulder. Shuffling past it, he paused as he reached a sharp bend. This could prove a problem, assuming he got stuck. While not a claustrophobe, being wedged seventy feet into a mountain was enough to make him nervous.
"Well, all or nothing."
Twisting onto his side, he managed to get his torso around easily enough. Now came the hard part. Turning a full one-eighty degrees, Kakashi groaned as his back cried out in protest at the overly extended angle. He just had to get his thighs past it... and with a painful crunch across a sharp rock, they did. Sighing, Kakashi ignored the trickle of blood that began running down his knees. He now really hoped this had an exit because he would have next to no chance of getting through that backwards.
He crawled forward for a small while longer until his fingers touched something solid in the dark. Running them around the edge of the object, it seemed like a dead end. Uncharacteristic panic began to fill his chest and the Jounin took a moment to calm his nerves. Surely there had to be a reason for a hole this deep into the mountain. Running his fingers around the edges again, he quickly verified there was nothing there. Moving across the face of the blockage though, he found a little latch that he flicked. In a joyful moment, a grey light filled the hole as tiny vents opened across the stone. The stone wasn't even that thick either. Creeping forward, he peeked through the holes to try work out where he had come to. He didn't really get a chance though when he heard a body's movement behind him. Tensing, he knew he wouldn't be able to put up much of a fight like this. Hearing an evil chuckle, he readied himself.
He then jumped as a hand slipped itself up his pant leg and wiped away some of the blood.
"My my Kakashi, you really do taste nice."
Letting out a relieved sigh, the man turned his attention back to the portal. "Anko. What brings you down this merry way?"
He heard a chuckle as she shifted behind him. "Oh, not much. Just when I heard you decided to crawl down here, I couldn't help but follow! Call it the snake in me."
He sighed as he visualised her wink.
"I will say though that I'm rather impressed you made it past that tight corner. Of course, I didn't have too much trouble but for a male, you're surprisingly limber."
Kakashi tried to ignore the woman's breath on his legs as she moved up beside him. How she did that in such a tight space though was beyond him. Shuffling over, he let her squeeze up beside him.
"Well isn't this cosy? So where are we anyway?"
Not looking at her, Kakashi watched a ROOT operative walk past them. "I think we've stumbled into one of the ROOT change rooms, if the humidity is anything to go by."
"Oh! Men or women's? Not that it matters though."
This made Kakashi look at her. "Excuse me?"
Anko smiled and licked her lips. "What? I can admire a well proportioned female. Why do you think I hang around with Kurenai so much? I'll tell you now, it's not just because she's loyal. Loyalty being most of the reason, but not all."
Kakashi swallowed and turned back to the vent. Not sensing anyone, he gave the opening a tentative nudge. It didn't move too much but still gave somewhat. It looked like he'd have to break it. Placing both hands over it, he gave it a little more of a heave. The rock strained but didn't give.
"Anko, place your hands over mine."
The odd kunoichi grinned but did as asked. "My Kakashi, in here? But that would be so naughty!"
Kakashi sighed. "Are you intentionally trying to distract me from the mission or is this just normal for you? I need you to push with me to break through."
Chuckling, Anko nodded but didn't answer the first question. On count, they both pushed and the rock gave way with a soft clatter. Quickly double checking the area, Kakashi slipped out first and ducked behind a locker. Anko followed, but not before she swept the rocky remains into the hole. Crouching, she looked over his shoulder, face now finally serious.
"So what now?"
Kakashi's eyes flicked to a shadow that moved. Just a towel. "Now, we search for Naruko the old fashioned way. Let's go."
Since Anko left, Gai and Kurenai and the two remaining clones were shuffling around the base of the cliff, desperately trying to find any semblance of an entrance. Groaning, the smaller of the two stood up, stretching her back.
"Blast it all. Anko and Kakashi were the ones good at this. Why did they have to be the ones to leave?"
Gai spoke up without looking back. "I would have gone with Kakashi, but due to a bit much youthful training, I was too big to fit down the hole. As for Anko... well, have you ever been able to stop that woman when she wants to do something?"
Kurenai sighed. "No, I guess not."
Turning, she looked into the trees behind her and considered having a poke around in there. "What was it they said about the latch? It was hidden amongst other similar things?"
Gai grunted in agreement. "Yes, I believe that's what they said. If you would like, you can search in the trees for anything."
Accepting the offer gratefully, Kurenai jumped into the trees. A sudden burst of movement instantly had blood rushing in her ears and a hand on a kunai in a split second. Moments later, a body dropped to the ground below. An ANBU flashed before her, quickly offering an apology before collecting its catch. Hand on her racing heart, Kurenai chastised herself for losing concentration and got back to searching.
Minutes passed and nothing was found by either Jounin. Despite both usually being very controlled, even their own considerable patients was being pushed. Gai, surprisingly, was the first to crack. Shaking his head, he called out quietly to Kurenai.
"Kurenai-san, have you found anything useful yet?"
The trees rustled and the woman dropped from above. "No, nothing. It's like that entrance you found is the only one!"
Dropping onto a rock, the kunoichi sighed. "This is impossible."
Gai though, noticed something when she sat down. Looking around, he noticed several other rocks.
"Kurenai, may I request you to sit down on that rock again a bit more forcefully?"
Sending the eccentric Jounin a suspicious look, she stood up slowly. "What would you want me to do that for?"
Not really listening, Gai just waved at her to drop. Blushing ever so slightly, the woman crossed an arm over her chest just in case and dropped. She winced as her backside landed on the edge of the rock, but wasn't given the time to let it sink in when she was quickly pulled off it.
"Gai! What is the meaning of this?"
Gai was now searching around the rock intently, looking for something. "I noticed when you sat down the first time that the rock seemed to move ever so slightly. Under someone of your light weight, it shouldn't have done that. When you sat down again, it moved once more, so there must be something suspicious here."
Kurenai sweat-dropped as she watched the man scratch about. "Surely it couldn't be that easy?"
A soft click sounded out and as Gai pulled himself up, the top of the rock depressed slightly under his hand. They turned as a soundless tunnel opened in the wall behind them. Gai sent the kunoichi a grin before running forward.
"Come now, we don't want to be the only ones to miss out on all the fun!"
Charging at the entrance, Gai nearly entered when he literally bulldozed his way through several ROOT agents on their way out. They all fell off to the sides of the concrete-come-human, either concussed or knocked out. Ignoring that though, Gai quickly ducked under several incoming punches, grabbing a flat rock as he was down. Grunting, he chucked the object at the men, blunt side showing, with a considerable force. Vortices flew off from it before it connected, driving the hapless target back along with all those unfortunate enough to be behind him.
Kurenai was also under siege, having managed to capture several operatives in her powerful Genjutsu's. The annoying ninja had also managed to pop both remaining Naruto's in their first attack. Pulling one close, she glared at him.
"Why are you doing this?"
Wincing under the mental pressure put on him, he stuttered out an answer. "W-we have been o...ordered to protect the base at all costs. The f-future of Konoha lies in there."
Kurenai's eyes thinned. "What do you mean?"
Shaking under the pressure he still managed to shake his head. "C-c-classified."
Sighing, Kurenai waved and every ninja in her illusion was knocked unconscious. Backing up against Gai, she held her kunai at the ready.
"You get that?"
The taller man nodded. "Indeed." He then grinned. "This is exciting though, is it not? We'll hardly miss out on anything at all!"
Rolling her eyes, the woman sighed exasperatedly. "Honestly Gai, try and focus here! We need to get inside the mountain, not play out here with this lot. Where are the ANBU when you need them?"
Gai's eyes twinkled as he easily knocked away the first attacker. Looking off to the side, he saw various masked ninja begin to engage in combat, soft clinks of metal on metal sounding out around them. "Ah, but to get there were must finish them off first! The faster, the better too. So, let us begin a most youthful fight for Konoha!"
Tsunade and Jiraiya were looking around near one another, each having come across a potential hidey hole.
"Got anything, Hime?"
"Not yet. Stop asking."
Grinning, Jiraiya cast a sidelong view at his team mate. Bless the soul who thought to hide secret entrances on the ground. Tsunade bent over was a beautiful thing. Oh the possibilities.
Getting back to searching, he quickly reached out with his senses to check where Naruto was. The boy was standing still for some reason, like he was watching something. Not that it really mattered, so long as he knew where the brat was. Scanning the area before him one last time, he stood up and dusted his hands off. Walking over to Tsunade, the woman stretched and looked up at him.
"No deal there either hey?"
Shaking his head, Jiraiya grimaced. "No. Best we move on."
Seeing something though, he pointed at a small mossy patch. "Hang on a second, what's that?"
"What's what?" Quickly leaning down to check the area, Tsunade fingered it tentatively. Finding nothing, she looked up at the man. "Well?"
Sighing, he shrugged. "Sorry, I thought I noticed something amongst it. Let's go."
As Tsunade turned though, Jiraiya let a lecherous grin grace his face quickly before schooling himself. He couldn't help but get a close up look of that fine behind once more.
"Oi, if your done eyeing up Baa-chan, get over here, I think I found something."
Swallowing, Jiraiya glanced nervously at Tsunade. Naruto's little remark had clued the lady into his game and she was not impressed. Trust that boy to ruin every little moment. Coughing Jiraiya strode forward purposefully, getting a safe distance away from the explosive woman. Leaning down, he glared at the boy.
Naruto sent Jiraiya a mildly disgusted look before turning back to the blocks before him. "Well, you said that people hide switches amongst other things, so I wonder if there's anything here. This one is loose but I can't get it to do nothin'."
The object before Naruto ended up being the tomb stone of a proficient Shinobi merchant that had sold within Konoha for years. Around it were gravestones of similar importance. Giving it a test shake, Jiraiya noted it was indeed a bit loose. Looking around, Jiraiya tried to think.
'Right, this is loose, so it may be held in place by several locks. Think you old goat you, think!'
Looking around, he noticed a tiny chip in the side of the rock. He then noticed three other gravestones with a chip in the exact place. Together, the four stones made for a diamond shape. Small, but recognisable to one such as himself. Nodding slowly, he moved over to the left one and gave it a shake. Ever so slightly loose.
"Tsunade-hime, I need you to stand by that grave over there, we might have something."
Raising an eyebrow, Tsunade complied. Jiraiya saw it wobble when she rested a hand on it. Quickly forming a shadow clone, Jiraiya pointed at the last corner. When it got there, he looked at his group members.
"Alright, I'm not sure how they arranged this, so it might sink into the ground, fold backwards or lift out. It's like picking a lock. We must do this in coordination though. One my word, we all push down."
He spoke again, and they all pushed. Nothing happened, but Naruto's rock seemed to depress further than the rest. An idea sparked in the old Sannin's mind.
"Ok, maybe each has a different way to unlock. Naruto, you keep pushing down, but Tsunade-hime, you push or pull your rock and see if anything happens. Clear?"
Seeing their nods, he gave the word. Naruto's rock shifted slightly and when Tsunade pushed forward, the stone leant in. Jiraiya and his clone quickly adjusted for this. Jiraiya's rock easily pushed forward as well while his clone struggled a bit longer until it managed to lift the stone out of the ground a few inches. Once worked out, everything clicked into place and the grave situated in the middle of the four switches sunk into the ground.
At that instant though, several ROOT operatives dived out of the newly uncovered entrance, one aimed for each corner of the locking system. Jiraiya caught the incoming fist with an iron grip before catching the man's head and bringing a knee up into his nose, breaking it instantly. His clone mimicked him, except he drove the man's skull into the memorial rock behind him. Tsunade just settled for side stepping the attack, before slapping the agent into the ground. A loud crack sounded out as his head sunk several feet into the hard ground upon impact. Naruto however, was caught unguarded and only just managed to dodge the attack by falling flat onto his back. Seeing an opportunity, he kicked up and caught the ninja in the ribs, winding him slightly. The man then slumped forward as Jiraiya's clone slapped a paralysis seal onto his neck. The clone pulled the man's mask off and started sifting through his targets pockets as it questioned him.
"Why did you attack us? ROOT is meant to protect its own, not kill them."
A black face stared back at him. "I cannot say; it is classified."
Jiraiya rolled his eyes before chopping his neck, rendering him unconscious. Leaving the man, Jiraiya walked back to his original and handed him some papers he found before dispelling itself. Shuffling through them, Jiraiya clicked his tongue as he went.
Tsunade walked over, Naruto a little more hesitantly. Being ambushed like that never sat well with him after the Wave mission.
"So what was that?"
Jiraiya hummed to the question. "Well this pretty much guarantees Danzo's involvement in all this. Looks like we found the official entrance, too. The fact that we weren't swarmed by even more ninja though reinforces my statement earlier about them focusing elsewhere. These though are partial layouts of the tunnels beneath us. I have no idea why this guy has something like this, but I'm not about to look a gift horse in the mouth."
Tucking the maps away, Jiraiya walked over to the comatose nin and drew a permanent paralysis seal on each of them. Satisfied with it, Jiraiya turned back to the hole. Jumping in, he was followed by the two blonds. Moments later, the grave and surrounding tombstones slipped back up to their original positions with a soft click.
Kakashi and Anko tip toed through the hallways quietly. There wasn't much to distinguish between the different paths. They all had a light grey coat of paint on the walls, light bulbs every 20 steps and a few light switches along the way. Thankfully though, the paths that branched off to the side sometimes had a few stairs that helped the two ninja keep their bearings.
Thus far they had been moving away from the intense little battle they felt behind them. As such, they had only really had one scare when they had to duck into a spare room as someone ran past. They were currently counting to the standard one hundred breaths before moving on. Turning to her counterpart, Anko grinned.
"Nothing like a little break and enter to get the heart pumping, right Kakashi?"
Kakashi just looked up to the roof lazily. "Truthfully, I'd rather be home right now. I'll miss out on my much deserved sleep."
Anko chuckled and wriggled her eyebrows at him. "Well aren't you lucky then? I get to keep you company the whole night. Not many other guys get to say that."
Sighing, Kakashi easily read between the lines. Why couldn't Kurenai have come down that hole instead of this insane woman? Finally reaching one hundred, Kakashi leaned around the door and looked out.
"Alright, stay low."
Sliding out, both ninja began running swiftly through the halls.
"So where are we headed first?"
Kakashi didn't look back. "I have a hunch this way would be a good place to start. What can you feel that way?"
Anko frowned as she concentrated. Raising an eyebrow after a moment, she looked at him curiously. "Nothing. What's so special about it?"
Kakashi smiled under his mask. He secretly took great pleasure from lecturing adults like her, a habit reminiscent of his earlier days as a Jounin. "That's exactly it. It feels like nothing. In fact, it feels like less than nothing. It's almost like a void of anything. That's where I'm guessing the interesting stuff is happening."
Eyes widening, Anko 'ahh'ed as she worked it out. "Nice goin' there Kakashi. I'm so lucky such a great man is taking care of me."
Rolling his eyes, Kakashi just hoped he was right so he could ditch the maddening woman behind him. Suddenly though, Kakashi skidded to a stop, pulling up Anko behind him. He had sensed some movement around the corner just in front of them. Sticking as close to the wall as possible, he crept forward and waited a moment before spinning around holding a kunai at the person's throat. He smiled as he felt a similar pressure on his own neck. Sheathing his weapon, Kakashi nodded to Jiraiya.
"Good to see you found a way in. I hope it was less cramped than mine."
Jiraiya nodded. "Yep, it was nice and spacious. Even had a welcoming committee. So where you headed?"
Kakashi flicked his head down the hall. "You feel that void? I'm guessing something interesting in happening in there."
Tsunade stepped forward and looked both ways down the hall. "Wow, talk about bland. Definitely Danzo."
Looking over her shoulder, she saw the Jounin nodding his greeting. "Oh stuff it Kakashi. You've done well but you're still in my bad books. Now let's stop playing tea parties and get moving."
Watching her run past him, Kakashi looked down at his blond student. The boy gave him a dirty look. "Thanks for popping me back in the tunnel Kakashi-sensei. Real smooth."
Laughing awkwardly, Kakashi raised a hand to the back of his head. "Ah, sorry about that. A sharp rock poked me and I accidentally hit you."
While the dirty look remained, it softened slightly and a small grin crept onto the blonds face. "Whatever Kakashi-sensei. Let's go get you're newest student already."
The group swiftly reached a large door that didn't look like it was being held closed by anything. Jiraiya quickly took head at this stage and placed an experienced hand on the cool metal.
"Alright, there has to be a seal on the other side of this door. The second I break it though, whoever is inside will know we're here. Get in, catch 'em, and see if we can't get some information from them."
They all nodded, yet none looked more serious than Naruto. Jiraiya could tell he was itching for blood. Focusing, he sent out a tiny pulse of chakra through the door, easily deactivating the primitive seal on the inside of the room. With a massive push, he opened it wide and the group stormed in.
High above the room, a pair of keen eyes looked down over everything. The owner of them had felt the powerful aura of Tsunade and Jiraiya drawing closer, yet his counterpart had still no idea what was going on. The man was clearly losing his touch in his old age. Having had excused himself, he sat in the darkest corner of the roof, waiting for the show to start.
Feeling a soft pulse of chakra run through the door, the man chuckled and licked his lips. It seemed the old man below had finally caught up to the current events too, if the slight widening of his eye was anything to go by.
"This will be interesting!"
The door was heaved open and several highly ranked Jounin and Sannin dashed in, quickly covering all areas of escape.
"What are you doing here?"
"We got you Danzo. It's over."
The man chuckled again as a cornered Danzo took a step away from his most recent experiment. His voice echoed throughout the room, making him seem even more alone. Suddenly, a powerful aura flooded the confined area and keen eyes whipped over to see the male Jinchuuriki ablaze in a red cloud of fury. Apparently seeing his 'sister' strapped naked to the cold steal bed was enough to break the boy. Yellow eyes lit up in excitement as a barely contained laugh broke free from his lips.
"Ku ku ku ku ku! The demon boy as well as little Anko-chan! This will be most very interesting indeed!"
A/N – Well, did I do as I promised or what? An extra length chapter for all you fine reviewers out there who asked for one. I am a kind author. Review me.
Sorry for the ending too . I know you probably all hate me for it, but you surely must know who the mystery man is by the end of it!
As for the overall chapter, I hope it wasn't too dark compared to the light heartedness of the rest of the story. The main driving force behind it though was Naruto's intense love for anyone who accepts him as their own. So with Naruko, I could only imagine it as a hundred times stronger.
Just wanted to say thanks as well to hinatasgreatestfan, Otherguy14, Duckboy2000 and deitarionSSokolow (again. This guy is the man). These four helped me quite a bit with looking over the story and making sure everything is believable. OOC characters without a basis is one of my pet hates so I truly try every time to stay as IC as I can.
Though brief as well, I hope the banter between some of the adults was enough to satisfy your need for a laugh.
I put a lot of effort into this chapter so any review I get would be greatly appreciated. If you spot any mistake I missed, please let me know!
So yeah, mass A/N aside, I leave you to your lives.