Chapter 9: A New Goal: Tsunade
Naruto's Mindscape – One Week Later
"You look so handsome." Kushina almost squealed at the sight of her son.
"Thank you…mother." Naruto grinned at her. Just hearing him acknowledge her as his mother brought tears to Kushina's eyes. She fully expected Naruto to be angry at her for keeping such a thing from him. And he was for a bit, but it quickly subsided as he told her that while she did lie to him for a while, she didn't hurt him nowhere near as much as the people of Konoha did. Hell, with her healing him from his injuries, she was in fact helping him when most others didn't give damn if he lived or died.
Kushina looked her son over. Jashin's power had effectively transformed the twelve year old boy into a nineteen year old young man. His formally blonde hair was now dark red, as were his eyes. His whisker marks were also more defined, looking more feral than before. Gone was the hideous orange clothing. In its place, Naruto wore a black skin-tight shirt, black shinobi pants, combat boots and a trenchcoat with ripped sleeves. Across his forehead was his new Yamigakure headband. Wrapped around his left arm was his old Konoha headband with a deep slash across it and around his neck was his Jashinist pendent.
Naruto also wore his primary weapons: a pair of gauntlets with razor sharp claws for fingers (think the Demon Bros. Gauntlets). The gauntlets had been enhanced with demonic chakra; if Naruto slashed someone with the claws, the cuts they left would have some traces of demon chakra that would affect the nervous system of his victim, most notably the pain receptors. And it didn't stop there. Not only would the wounds be resistant to medical jutsu, they would be agitated by it. Plus, the demonic chakra would also slow the natural healing process, resulting in painful scars that never truly heal.
"Like what I did with the place?" Naruto asked. Instead of a sewer with a giant cage, Naruto's mindscape now resembled a feudal castle with scrolls depicting demons on the walls. Where Kushina's cage used to be, there was now a demonic looking throne with several pikes on the sides. A couple of them had skulls on them.
"I like it." Kushina said with a smile. "Even when I was human, I always fancied the dark side. But I wouldn't mind being back in the real world, which is why I called you here. When Jashin gave you some of his power, the seal keeping me here was weakened substantially, although it is still strong enough to keep me here."
"It shouldn't be too much of a problem to break the seal now." Naruto said.
"True, but there's still one small problem." Kushina said. "My soul merged with the spirit of the Kyuubi when I was sealed here. As a result, both mine and the Kyuubi's physical bodies were destroyed. Long story short, I need a new body to inhabit."
Naruto thought for a moment before hammering his fist into his palm as if realizing something. "I got it! I'll just make a shadow clone, have it cast the Sexy Jutsu on itself and presto! Problem solved."
"I wish it were that simple Naruto-kun, but there are several flaws with that plan." Kushina said as she sat down on her throne and beckoned her son over. Naruto walked over and stood beside his mother. "One, I need an actual physical body. A clone body will dissipate after a single hit. Two, I need a female body. Even if I use one of your clones and it uses a henge to appear female, it will still be a male body."
"So?" Naruto shrugged his shoulders.
Kushina sighed at how slow her son could be on the uptake. "If I inhabit a male body, it would cause some…abnormalities."
"Like what?" Naruto asked.
"Let me put it to you like this. You know what a transvestite is, right?" Kushina replied
"Yeah, it's a…" Naruto stopped in mid-sentence as what his mother was telling him sunk in. "Oh." The former blonde said in a low voice as a disturbing mental image formed in his mind. Kushina used two fingers to bop her son on the head.
"You do realize we're in your mind right? I don't need to see something like that." Kushina snapped.
"Sorry." Naruto said. "So, female body right? Any preferences?"
Kushina smiled evilly at her son. "I'm so glad you asked. Because as it turns out, I know of the perfect vessel that would figuratively and literally be the perfect fit for me. Finding her will be a bit of a chore, but that never stopped you."
Naruto mirrored his mother's smile. "Her name?"
"Tsunade Senju." Kushina replied.
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Temple of Jashin – Armory
Naruto exited his mindscape and re-entered his body. The dark redhead heard the sound of whetstone against metal as he opened his ruby colored eyes. To his right, Kin was sharpening her tri-scythe with a small whetstone. She now wore what looked like a sleeveless black kimono with a red obi tied around her waist. The outfit was meant for ease of movement as it did reveal a generous amount of Kin's skin, particularly her long legs.
"So, how was your visit with your mother?" The raven haired girl asked as she scooted next to her companion.
"Very enlightening." Naruto replied. "Where's Tenten?"
The sound of pain-filled screams could be heard outside. "Practicing." Kin replied as she leaned her tri-scythe against a wall. "She'll be out there for a while. More than enough time for us to…" Kin said in a silky voice as she started to straddle Naruto.
"Much as I'd love to Kin, my mother has a mission for me and I could use yours and Tenten's help." Naruto said as he reluctantly got up. Kin pouted as she followed Naruto out of the armory. "Besides which, the armory Kin-chan? Really?"
"It would be a first." Kin shrugged her shoulders.
As soon as the two got outside, they saw Tenten standing about twenty yards away from five people tied to training posts. A couple of them were skewered by long red crystal shards. Another two looked like they were wrapped in razor-chains made out of the same red crystal. The lone remaining man was frantically waving his head back and forth. Any sound he made was muffled by the gag in his mouth.
"Don't worry, it'll be over very soon." Tenten said maliciously. She wore a kimono similar to Kin's, only Tenten's had long sleeves on it, presumably to conceal her hands and weapons. Strapped to her back was a large scroll. In a sudden movement, Tenten swung her arms at her target. As she did so, a stream of red viscous liquid shot out of her sleeves towards the defenseless man. As the liquid flew, it quickly took the shape of several spiked chains and hooks. In the same instant, it hardened into a crystalline substance. The crystal chains wrapped themselves around the man and the spikes and hooks sunk into his skin. The bound man let out several muffled screams.
With an evil grin, Tenten pulled on the chains and the man was torn to pieces. As his body parts hit the ground, Tenten pulled her chains back to her. As she did, the chains liquefied and flowed back into her arms through several cuts on Tenten's forearms. As the last of the liquid seeped in, the cuts healed themselves.
Needless to say, Tenten was adapting rather nicely into her new role as a knight of Jashin.
"Here for practice?" Tenten said as she walked over to Kin and their shared companion.
"Not really Ten-chan. My mother's sending me on a little errand, more of a hunt actually. And I was wondering if you and Kin would like to join me?" Naruto said.
"Will there be killing involved?" Tenten asked
"More than likely." Naruto replied. "Plus, you may like this Tenten. I'm actually going to track down someone you happen to be a fan of."
Tenten raised an eyebrow in legitimate curiosity. "Who?"
"Tsunade of the Sannin." Naruto said.
"You're serious?" Tenten said, eyes wide in surprise.
"Yes." Naruto replied. "Mother needs a female body to inhabit before I can release her from the seal and Tsunade will do perfectly."
"Sweet." Tenten said. True, the brunette weapons mistress idolized Tsunade, but one thing she really wanted to do was test her skills against her. And this was the perfect opportunity.
"So when do we leave?" Kin asked.
"Now." Naruto answered.
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Sarutobi sat in his office chair puffing his pipe. From the look on his face, the old man was in deep contemplation. Jiraiya, Koharu and Homura were also in the office.
"Sarutobi, why must you be so glum?" Koharu asked her former teammate. "An attempted invasion was thwarted and the Sand Village has unconditionally surrendered. Shouldn't things be more festive?"
The old Hokage exhaled the smoke from his pipe in a sigh. "While that may be Koharu, it was sheer luck things occurred the way they did at the Chunin Exam and our village sustained little to no damage." Sarutobi then turned to face his former teammates and student. "The situation and the outcome could've easily have been different. Looking back at the events over the past month, with the looming threats of Orochimaru and the Akatsuki, the abduction of the Kazekage's youngest son and the sudden disappearance of Naruto, I have a feeling that we may not be as lucky as we were this time around."
"What are you trying to say Sarutobi?" Homura asked, even though he had a general idea, as did Koharu and Jiraiya.
"According to Temari and Kankuro, the Kazekage's other children, their younger brother and the Jinchuriki of the Shukaku, Gaara, was taken by two members of the Akatsuki organization. This combined with the fact that Naruto has gone missing means that both Konoha and Suna have lost their respective Jinchuriki and it won't be very long before the other villages become aware of those facts."
Neither Koharu nor Homura would admit it, but Sarutobi had a point. Losing the demon brat dealt a severe blow to Konoha's strength and it wasn't going to take villages like Iwa or Kumo long to detect the weaknesses that both Konoha and Suna now had.
"I'm not getting any younger my friends." Sarutobi said. "The next time Orochimaru or a possibly greater threat emerges, we may not be as fortunate as we were at the Chunin Exam. That being said, we need someone to take the mantle of the fifth Hokage." After a few moments of silence as Sarutobi's last statement sunk in, Koharu and Homura looked over at Jiraiya.
"No way." Jiraiya simply said as the two advisors looked at him expectantly. "My place is out in the field. Besides, can you really imagine ME running this place?"
Before Koharu could object, she paled slightly as she did indeed envision what Konoha would be like with Jiraiya in charge. The hot springs would never be the same. "Perhaps you're right." The old woman grunted. Homura just snapped his fingers in annoyance and pouted. He too envisioned what things would be like under Jiraiya, particularly the hot springs, and was looking forward to it. Koharu smacked the old man on the head at that.
"Plus if I were always cooped up around here, I'd never get a chance to work on my books." Jiraiya added.
"A valid point." Homura said a little too quickly. Koharu just glared at him.
"However, if you two want a Sannin to run this village that badly, you seem to forget that there is another one out there…and I'm not talking about Orochimaru." Jiraiya said.
"You mean…?" Koharu started.
"He does indeed." Sarutobi said. "I see no other candidate to fulfill the role of the Fifth Hokage than ..."
0 0 0
"Tsunade?" Kabuto blinked. He and Orochimaru were inside the Snake Sannin's throne room / lab.
"Yes Kabuto." Orochimaru answered his right-hand man. "Our invasion of the Leaf may not have gone anywhere near according to plan, but it has succeeded in one aspect. Sarutobi-sensei may have won that day, but he knows it was a mere fluke. As a result, now more than ever, the old fool is questioning his mortality. Even he is more than aware of the fact that the end is near."
"So he'll be looking for a successor." Kabuto said as the pieces came together in his head.
"Precisely." Orochimaru said with mirth in eyes. "The fools in the council will try to have someone like that arrogant fool Danzo take over, or perhaps one of the clan heads. But, Sarutobi-sensei will want someone he knows for a fact he can trust. He won't choose Jiraiya, because he knows that fool will turn the place into a train wreck within a week. That only leaves Tsunade."
"But you told me that she renounced Konoha." Kabuto stated.
"She did." Orochimaru said. "Time doesn't heal as many wounds as one would think. A fact that may work in our favor."
"So what are we going to do with Lady Tsunade, Orochimaru-sama?"
Before the Sannin could answer, a slight pain spiked in Orochimaru's hand. Not very painful, but just enough for discomfort. Something that did not go unnoticed by Kabuto. "As you are most likely aware Kabuto, my boy, Tsunade is regarded as a foremost expert in the field of medical jutsu. As many advances that I've made with my experiments, it could pay off to have not one, but two medical geniuses in my employ."
Kabuto liked the sound of that. Working alongside Tsunade was a personal dream of his since he was an academy student. It would be interesting to say the least. But then something came to the silver-haired young man's mind. "With all due respect Orochimaru-sama, how can you be so sure she'll cooperate? She may have no love for Konoha, but from what you've told me, she's not a very big fan of yours either."
Orochimaru just smirked evilly. "I'll simply make her an offer she can't refuse. I wanted to show Sarutobi-sensei a certain technique back at the Chunin Exam, but I was unable to because we were so rudely interrupted. But I think Tsunade will enjoy it even more. And if she still refuses, we'll simply eliminate her to keep her from going back to the Leaf. Either way, problem solved."
"Shall I send our spies to get information on her whereabouts?" Kabuto asked, although he already knew the answer. He was half-right.
"Yes. However, when it comes time to leave, inform the Sound Four that they'll be joining us. Best to err on the side of caution, especially considering my old friends from the Akatsuki were the ones who ruined the invasion." Orochimaru said.
Kabuto gulped at the mention of the organization. "You think they may show up again?"
"More than likely, they were at the Chunin Exam because two Jinchuriki were there." Orochimaru explained before turning his gaze towards an amputated skeletal arm in a glass case on his desk. There was a ring on one of the fingers. "But still, I have something they want."
Should we have Kimimaro ready, just in case?" Kabuto asked.
"No. I don't want to use him unless it's absolutely necessary." Orochimaru said. "Send out the spies."
Kabuto bowed and left.
0 0 0
Akatsuki Sealing Chamber – Location Unknown
Garra of the Desert was floating in a bubble of blue chakra with a stream of red chakra flowing out of his mouth and into the mouth of the nine-eyed statue inside one of the Akatsuki's many hideouts. Standing on nine of the statue's ten fingers were holographic images of the Akatsuki members. Each of them appeared to be concentrating. Pein, the leader of the organization, opened his bizarre colored eyes and saw that the stream of red chakra was thinning. "Almost finished." The Rinnegan user said.
After a few more moments, the red chakra finally left Garra and entered the mouth of the statue. After the chakra entered the statue, one of the nine eyes fully opened and an iris formed in the center of it. As this was happening, the blue chakra that was holding Garra in the air dissipated, sending the young redheaded boy falling towards the ground. He landed head first with a sickening snap, indicating that his neck was broken.
Luckily for the Kazekage's youngest child, he was already dead before hitting the ground.
"One down, eight to go." Pein said.
"About time." Hidan groaned. "There has got to be a quicker way to seal these things." Although Hidan's complaining annoyed most of the other members of the Akatsuki, they did share the Jashinist's feelings. Sealing the tailed beasts took three days and nights without a break. Sitting still for that long was something that no one looked forward to. Plus, meeting while projecting holographic images of themselves left their physical bodies vulnerable.
Normally Kakazu would tell Hidan to shut up, but in this case, the masked man from the Waterfall Village was inclined to agree with his fellow immortal. When Pein called all of the members to assist with the sealing of the Shukaku Jinchuriki, Kakazu and Hidan were hot on the trail of a rogue shinobi who was worth around 25 Million Ryo, Kakazu's biggest bounty to date. With three days lost, the odds were good that the rogue ninja was either long gone or cashed in by another bounty hunter. Needless to say, the temperamental Kakazu was in a fouler mood than usual.
Deciding not to get into a pissing match with Hidan, Pein addressed to rest of his group. "Well done everyone. It was sheer luck that we managed to obtain the Shukaku when we did."
"No trouble at all boss man, hmm." Deidara said while Sasori nodded.
"However, I find it surprising that four of you were at the Leaf Village, and yet, we only got one Jinchuriki." Pein said as he turned his Rinnegan gaze towards Itachi and Kisame.
"The Kyuubi Jinchuriki was already gone by the time of our arrival Pein-sama." Itachi calmly explained. "However, we managed to gain some information on where he went."
"Go on." Pein said.
"Before you recalled us, our spies informed Kisame and myself that the Naruto Uzumaki had departed Konoha at least a month before our arrival. No one caught him escaping, but during the Chunin Selection Exam, the boy was seen having several conversations with a team of genin from the Village Hidden in the Darkness, particularly a young girl."
"Feh, so the little shit was talking with some girl from another village. So what?" Hidan sneered, putting up a tough front, but on the inside, the Jashinist Priest was getting anxious. "The cult is pretty spread out across the Elemental Nations, but a good number of my master's followers are in Yamigakure. It could be a coincidence."
"Actually Hidan, I think you will find this most interesting." Kisame told the former Hot Springs Nin. "It turns out that this girl is part of your particular religion."
"What?" Hidan snapped, his reddish eyes widening in total surprise. "Kisame, are you absolutely sure?" The Jashinist asked, his tone was dead serious.
"Yes." The Kiri Swordsman replied with a smirk.
"Oh no." Hidan groaned, putting his left hand over his face. "This isn't good. I knew that chill meant something."
"I assume there's a problem Hidan." Pein said to the Akatsuki's newest member.
"Yeah, there is." Hidan replied. "If your little world domination plan requires ALL of the tailed beasts, then I'm afraid we're shit out of luck. The Nine-Tails is officially out of our reach."
There was some talking between the members as all eyes were on Hidan. "Would you care to explain Hidan?" Konan asked.
"The Church of Jashin is a religion that is widespread throughout the Elemental Lands. Most of Jashin-sama's followers are nomadic, never staying in one place for very long. However, a considerable number of Jashinists are very well established in Yamigakure. It is often regarded as a safe haven for the practitioners of my religion."
"Hidan, what does this have to do with the Nine-Tails Jinchuriki?" Pein asked.
"If Itachi and Kisame speak the truth, then the Jinchuriki is under Jashin-sama's protection." Hidan replied. "If you still want the kid that badly, then I'm afraid you're gonna have one hell of a fight ahead."
"I have heard of Yamigakure's shinobi forces." Zetsu's pale half spoke up. "Yeah, they're no pushovers. Add in a group of Jashinists and you got one mean group of ninjas who tend to attack first and don't even bother with the questions." Zetsu's dark half added.
"Only a fool would willingly take on such odds." Kakazu said.
"Indeed. This is most problematic." Pein said, stroking his chin. After thinking on the next possible course of action for about a full minute, the Rinnegan user spoke. "We'll worry about the Nine-Tails when we get to it. For now, we shall concentrate on the prep work to capture the other Jinchuriki. It will take us three years to prepare for the sealing of the other beasts. Itachi, Kisame, for now the both of you shall assist Kakazu and Hidan in hunting down rogue shinobi and collecting their bounties. As for the rest of you, your assignments are the same. We shall reconvene later."
"Hai, Pein-sama." The other Akatsuki members said before their images vanished along with the statue, leaving the corpse of Garra of the Desert to rot in the cave.
0 0 0
"Never thought I'd say this, but Hidan's right, there has to be a way to speed the sealing process up." Kisame said as he stood up and stretched.
"Orochimaru's departure has hindered the Akatsuki in more ways than one." Itachi said as he too stood up. Without him, or should I say, without his ring, the process will be continue to be a slow one."
Kisame let out a growl. "If that's the case, it would behoove Sasori to find Orochimaru before I do, because I can't guarantee that there will be much of him left."
"Actually, perhaps we should pay Orochimaru a visit." Itachi told his partner. Kisame looked at the rogue Uchiha with a confused look, at which Itachi continued. "You heard Pein-sama. Since we cannot go looking for Naruto, we are to hunt rogue ninja and collect their bounties for the time being. And Orochimaru is a rogue with a sizable price on his head.
"Ah, I see where you're going Itachi." Kisame's eyes lit up as he smiled his shark-like smile. "We track down Orochimaru and not only do we get a nice payday for the Akatsuki, but I get to vent my frustrations as well. Not a bad arrangement."
"Not only that my friend, but we can also re-obtain the Void Ring he took with him when he left. Once we have that, all Pein-sama has to do is find a new member to wear the ring. With ten members in the Akatsuki once again, it will surely speed up the sealing process." Itachi said as he started to walk with Kisame in tow. "We will be accomplishing two objectives at once."
"Heh. I hope Sasori won't be too disappointed when we get to Orochimaru before he does. The same can be said for Kakazu when we show him how the bounty hunter game is really played." Kisame laughed, looking forward to the new mission.
0 0 0
Land of Shadows – Near Yamigakure
"So, where do we start looking for Tsunade?" Kin asked as she walked beside Naruto on his left and Tenten on his right.
"Well, Lady Tsunade is known for many things." Tenten explained. "But one thing that exceeds her reputation for her medical skills is her reputation for gambling. So we should start with the gambling hotbeds."
"That doesn't really narrow it down." Kin said. "Wouldn't it be easier to send scouts out to get a fix on her and then we swoop in?"
"We could do that Kin-chan…but then we wouldn't have the fun of finding Tsunade ourselves." Naruto said with a smirk.
Kin was about to object when she realized what her lover was saying.
"And besides, this is a good opportunity to get the Prophecy rolling." Naruto said.
"And we shall spread chaos throughout the land in the name of Jashin-sama." Kin recited the Prophecy that was foretold on the day she was born. With that the raven haired girl started to laugh with Naruto and Tenten joining in.
The sound of evil laughter could be heard for miles.
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