(Arc 1) Fading Light

Chapter 1:

In the Hokage office the ruckus is big. Tsunades is about to explode because of some problems.

"It's over one month since then, the Mission was supposed to end at highest after 2 weeks, even if they got involved in a chase of the enemies. Even for Naruto I had expected it will not cross the mark of freaking 3 weeks and not even a report." And she smashes her table to tiny pieces. To understand her anger we must go back in time a bit…

It was more than just a bit of time since the Shinobi alliance end up victorious in the fourth great Ninja war against Akatsuki and Madara. In the end the Zetsu clones ravaged many lands before Madara and Kabuto got defeated. They just fled and their location is currently unknown. The remaining few squads of Zetsu also retreated to nowhere known. Suspicion says they all headed for the far west to the rather unknown neighborhood to reform. Whatever it was they fled and the war stopped. Nothing assures it is over but at least it is sure there won't be any more battles for a while. The countries' do rebuilt already and are concerned with many other things but not war.

This night is quiet and peaceful. The moon sickle lies low like a giant thin smile this night. Dinner is served in the households and people go to bed worriless. A bright idea of Naruto a while ago to use Ninjutsu to support the carpenters succeeded. It is by far not much and at best on baby level to be of good use but with using Ninjutsu to for example make bricks and planks or to speed up the hardening of mortar much of Konoha got rebuilt in no time. However, other countries that got not damaged as much aren't convinced of this method because of the many failures that nearly make it a loss that doesn't balance the resources used and prefer the conventional way. However, the skilled Konoha Ninjas tried and made it though the others didn't catch and made it the same way.

The people sleep and have nice dreams. Only Tsunade does not, her dream is filled with a prediction a ghost from one she loves but is long since death is delivered, a message from the realm of dead.

She dreams of a sad day in her live, the day when Jiraya left Konoha for the last time to enter Amegakure. The day when she knew, it is the last time they meet but didn't want accept it and then the day she learned of his death. Remembering that she cries's in her sleep but does not wake up to end the horror. She is alone in her office; everyone left for gaining intelligence and she cry's silent. After a while an image of Jiraya appears and she can't believe it. "Ji… Jiraya? How…" "Hey there Tsunade, you better believe it though I'm still death I'm here to warn you and I have not much time." She tries to touch him and she can." "Woah, Tsunade. You know, strong spirits can appear in the dreams of the people dear to them sometimes, even after death and give them a message or warn them from danger they saw through the world of dead. Anyway, now listen… "but I…" he lays a finger on her mouth to make her shout. This gesture is unlike Jiraya but Tsunade is happy about it. "A danger is rising beyond and through the world of dead. Evil exists since the beginning of time and although the Juubi is already old, ancient and long since forgot forces of evil move again. This is probably not the only ancient darkness existing but it is strong and it is moving right now. Madara might have suffered a loss but the real war is not over yet. He sure will come back to execute his plans but for now something else is imminent and makes Madara and the Bijuu look like small prey. Madara may even join them if he learns about it but that is not the point." "To stand against this new evil we must obtain artifacts from the time this force last roamed. I don't know enough about it to be much of a help but I can point out the first step to it."

"As I learned in this realm between life and dead, I am stuck now. I also met others. In an unreachable room just next to us I as well can feel Sarutobi, Minato, Kushina and the other part of the Kyuubi and I do not know what I should think of this. This room is some kind of space that I do not understand neither does anyone else here. I also have no clue why Minato and others who fought for the light are stuck close to here and yet unreachable though I have some hints… Anyway, what lurks forward is mighty and it will use us deads for its dark scheme." He breaks his speech a moment and Tsunade immediate acts. "What do you mean by that?" she wonders. "I mean I soon have no other choice than to fight humanity and the light under the command of this evil as does others that were sealed or captured in here this way or another."

"Without these artifacts we could and probably will be erased and a force that is even able to cheat the Death God and use us like pawns is a very serious problem, spoken in a mild way. Among these artifacts there are god blessed armors that were forged with the power of many gods or godlike beings in ancient times. But this is just one part of it. I have no idea what else. If there is armor there sure are weapons and tools as well. The first clue about this whole treasure should be found in the abandoned Black Mountains in the south-west of our continent, at the edge of the wind country where green plants and trees stand strong against the desert."

"Is that all, nothing easier than that… Retrieving lost and unknown artifacts shouldn't be hard…" "Bad humor Tsunade, bad humor… Anyway, this is just the first step. Only few special Ninja will be able to wear the armor at all although I don't know how many armors are there and how many Ninjas of our time exist, that could be able to wear them. I only know those Ninjas have to lead the assault against the darkness. Further I can tell you that the armors only accept those who have a strong and matured spirit that makes one problem." He ends for a moment. "And that means we are screwed or something?" "Well, you could say that because one other thing that I know is that Naruto is probably the one who has to be the leader of them all."

"Oh crap…" "Exactly, Naruto might have the ideals and a strong spirit, fitting for the spearhead of the light but he is a hopeless child if it comes to leading matters." "So what do you want me to do?" "She asks despite she already has some ideas of what he means. "You must assure Naruto can lead a group as a Chunin at least if not as a Jounin as soon as possible." "So you want me to do the impossible, great. So, any ideas how I am supposed to do that," she sighs. With the hand on the back of his head and a clueless and funny look he suggests, just the way he normally is, something. "Well, not exactly. Send him to a mission with two Anbu, tell him it's his chance to acquire the Chunin rank and his only one. This might be enough and the Anbu can safe his ass in case he fucks up and provide advice." "Uff, you know what you just did; you brought me close to despair again. I haven't even digested your dead entirely, just suffered another war I rather would forgot and now you appear in my dreams to tell me another, worse war is coming. It is already bad enough Kabuto used Edo Tensai to revive Dan during the war and now you also tell me soon you will also battle me and someone like Naruto is our best hope, with just vague information about the solution." She already cry's unstoppable and tears flow down her face. "Can you see how miserable I just feel?" "I can and I understand but I also know you are strong enough to come over it." An insight of Jiraya he didn't shows that often. "You have a whole village you have to look over and you have to be strong for." This calm doesn't help much. "I'm not strong enough, not anymore, not after I heard all this." She still cry's rivers. "I know you do, you have to make sure the future of Konoha is bright and you did great so far. Now continue this, not just for Dan or me but for Konoha." "…" My time is over now and your have tasks to attend to as well. You have to make Naruto a Chunin or above in any case and you have to warn the other countries. Legends similar to what I just told you exist everywhere and some will sure pay believe in this if you tell it right. I know you will and please, for the sake of all, don't hesitate, even if we have to fight each other… Good Bye Tsunade, start by checking for information on the 7 Sinners and the 13 Devils." Now he vanishes completely. "But I don't think I can do that again…"

In the midst of the night, where the moon stays at its highest she wakes up in a bed that is totally wet from her tears and that was it for her night's sleep. She spends the rest of the night for preparing the task Jiraya gave her.

In the same night in a rift between space and time just a bit before Tsunade had the dream the root of the evil Jiraya discovered meets.

"Finally, after so many centuries in banishment the seal that keeps us is weak enough that we can send our best subordinates to engulf the world in enough chaos and darkness to finally free us." A voice echoes through the darkness that no one can see. "When the Sun turns black, the fields are stained in the red of blood and dead walk among us the ancient terrors will return and bring all to Mukona. This is our legend and surely long since forgotten. Nothing will stop us this time." One other being states while laughing with his most evil laugh. "This time the light won't be able to retrieve all sacred relicts to seal us away." The next one is confident as well. "Our subordinates will prepare the world for our holy rise by using dammed dead to destroy these lands. With this key they will be able to open 'The Halls of Dead' and 'The Chambers of the Death God' to release the most fierce fighters of their time and then make the good bow before the evil." "Dead amplified with our godly dark powers in their original body, formed with nothing but chakra and Elements but fully functionally will taint every enclave of light that holds us in here and then we are free to roam..." "We might even find some new powerful allies to use because the world went through many dark times lately. The darkness created by them but invisible as it is now is very concentrated. We might even be able to grip a few of the light artifacts for us and change them to our own dark tools." "That horrible light these items emit will not be able to hide before us now," a voice full of disgust states.

"Enough talk already. We wasted enough time now. You know that sooner or later one of our potential soldiers will sense us and warn someone so they can prepare. What we now can do is just shit. We are still stuck here and the first wave of our Dark energy is pretty weak, which means we can easy be stopped if they are prepared enough." "The leader of this bunch of evil that is not the kind of person that overestimates his ability's or the ones of his enemies and has the most brain warns them. "Dokuri, Fangumo, Kanae and Kuran, you are the most suited for this job. You know the plan. Search and activate the Dark generators and stop the flow of the light energies wherever you find them. Use the dead to cause Kai and find us some of these incarnations of the 'good light' to bring it here so we can touch it. You know where some of our lower soldiers sleep so wake them up and rebuild the first part of our army of darkness. Failure is not an option and in this special case we are unable to revive you if necessary anyway so you better succeed or you know what happen." The leader commands ice cold. "Yes sire, we won't fail you. Just have patience. Once on the other side we will rebuild your kingdom as soon as possible to concentrate the darkness at the black mountains like in your time an draw the evils of this time period near."

Soon after the 4 leave through the portal up into Naruto space. Back in the rift three more joined the party already though the portal is shut off now. "Master why didn't you send us in, we are the strongest of us seven." One of the three newcomers argues. "I know but the special abilities they have are in a better use if used to free the rest of us." "And if they fail?" he wonders. "They are weak but what is currently out in that world is way weaker so I have no doubts they will succeed. You just keep your patience because you will have the honor to be the final key to set us free." "Yes my lord." The group leaves.

The one with that spoke about the myth before realized something. "Ah, I see. The other one '7 sacrifices will bring the key to finally set evil free.' Even if they fail the first way, after all died for this cause our portal opens anyway." One of the women pinpoints something next "Yeah, but in the second case our powers will be missing a too long time to act." "It just delays the inevitable though it gives more room for preparations, if they are aware of the second case which was already pretty much lost the last time so no worries." "Anyway, what is with 'Viper' that already slipped through a small hole that opened approximately 23 Years ago and possessed a baby?" the next one asks the leader. "By now, if he is still alive with his weak powers he took with him he should have realized what happened and is on his way to our realm in the Black Mountains to join and navigate the others. This could speed up the progress." "Right Dragon but I have to talk to him after we meet him again because he left without telling us about the hole, where we could send our spirit through and possess someone to speed up all this." "Come on Hokuda, he might have escaped alone but he took the risk to leave with weak powers that made him woundable and vulnerable. He is the craftiest of us and has the most brain of us all, excluding Kuroma. He probably thought it would be the better way because he can simply survive just with his head." "Tsk, anyway I just hope this whole shit doesn't take too long. I want to cause some Kai already, as my name implies that's what I exist for." This last words mark the end of the conversation for now.

As already mentioned Kabuto is indeed on his way. As soon as the rift opened a tickle flew through his body and like in hypnosis made him leave his hideout, formerly one of Orochimarus. "Good, the war was enough for the last drip to make the barrel blow. Madara didn't realize I had my own cause for helping him and now fled in the west to reorganize his army. They are of no use for us anymore but they are no danger as well so we might just let them do as they please and later add them to our army. For now the Kingdom must be rebuild, our soldiers must be awakened, the energy flow manipulated and as many of the sacred treasures as possible must be found and taint. Much work to do but no problem with the nose of Fangumo. I'm sure 'Kuroma' sent him along with some others that have useful abilities and of course the key that allows me to use Minato, Kushina and others without sacrificing body's and chakra with Edo Tensai. By just using existing Elements I can build a perfect copy of their original body and then enhance them with darkness. This is why we are immortal and why we are like gods, we can create and alter life. Muhahahahaha." Laughing he leaves with a certain goal.

The stones of history start to move again. Whoever ends up victories does not matter; the events that just start will decide the future.

The first part of the Sinners arrives at the black mountains center. The ruin of the once mighty fortress of darkness still stands but the time was as merciful to them as the builder of em where towards the world.

Fangumo, a man rather lean and has a dark brown hair that reminds a shark fin. His teeth are filed spiky and are slipped slightly to the outside. Each time he speaks he makes grinding sounds with his mouth. He is the one that opens the discussion. "Landed good and it seems we really were away long. Looking at this I doubt anyone has the slightest idea this was once an enclave of evil." With a swoosh someone appeared behind this group. Kanae is the fastest to notice and realizes who she actually speaks to. "Ahh, Viper, so you are indeed still alive. Too bad for you because Hokuda isn't too happy you slipped away and some of the others already suspected you have no intention on sharing this dimension with them. "It is not uncommon for him to be a bit of a douche so who cares and for the rest, that's why they are in their position. If trust would be our strength we would be some goons of the light. Anyway while you enjoyed your holiday I did my own work and located some of the Darkness valves and caused the one or other bloodshed to make things easier." He teases. Fangumo is pissed on Kabutos comment. "And how exactly do you think this would help us? With my nose I already locate the first close to here." "Of course you did Fangumo, even I know where the nearest one is because on the deepest inner of our citadel or whatever is left of it one is sleeping." "Funny Dokuri, very funny... but I talk about another one in a cave not that far in the north-east of here and someone, without knowing it must have started it already though it doesn't have much effect now. We can fix that problem fast." "With no obvious reason Kabuto cracks up for a second. "Madara that idiot, if he had knew about the power source right below his feet he certainly wouldn't hide his tail in the west now…" "And what was that just now I might ask Viper?" "I'll tell his story another time Kanae, after hearing it you sure will understand my reaction just now. Anyway, I'm the only leader in this realm for now so from now on you all better start taking my orders and pay respect proper. First we will start the generator here and Fangumo will search for it under earth. This rubble left does not even hint the right direction to the secret entrance anymore and further it will be blocked, so we have to create another shaft to it." "And why should I accept your orders?" Fangumo is not willing to get bossed around by Kabuto. "You left the most of your power in the banishment; even Dokuri could easily take you out now. I did nothing because I thought you might be helpful to us at the beginning but as I see now you didn't bring something useful here or irreplaceable with you." With no hesitation Kabuto chained him with Snake Cuffs just as easy as well as the others to prevent any dumb movement.

"Because of this my friend," he glared. "I don't need you to achieve the goal, just your key which I already secured from you Kanae. (Actually I can achieve it by killing them all now and later the rest of the bunch as soon as they cross over here anyway) But you might proof useful, that is the reason why I didn't kill you all already. Kanae acts first, "Convincing as the rest of you and I actually don't care because for me the goal is all what counts and therefore I will obey with no objections." A break of just a few counts later the rest of them agrees as well, first Kuran a bit foul then Dokuri with her high voice and Fangumo the last with slight disgust. "Yessir" "Of course Mylord" "mumble… got it master" he emphasizes 'master' especially strange. "(Oh boy, I can already see I have to kill Kanae and Fangumo sooner or later, seems I already have decoy in case of problems.)"

Right after they set up a fire and camp. "First you will rest and collect strength, the transition has affected you, I can tell. Besides, darkness can be seen better in the bright light aka the day which makes it easier to pinpoint the gate." While telling that he threw in a bit of wood to make the flames grow bigger for the right moment of his sentence. Then it slowly crackles on.

As the next day breaks Kabuto is the first one up and rudely wakes the others. In the light of dawn the ruins of darkness look pretty but at the same time the light somehow gets sucked in the black stone. This causes strange shadows to appear, as if something were alive…

The group splits up at this point to look for even the slightest hint of where the entrance to the hall they look for is located. The mountains are big but the fortress is as well.

Some broken weapons lying on the ground where Dokuri looks indicate it was a barrack or close to one. The shoved stones that remain randomly lying on the ground destroy any chance of correctly guessing where in the fortress the place was or what it is. The way she follows pass along other facilities ruins like a smith and stable she thinks but is not sure about it. Obviously she heads in the town of the castle, so she believes. But even if this is true there is not a single hint for her thought and all she can do is sharpening her senses to feel extreme concentrated dark energies that imply the hidden location of the generator.

Kuran heads for the east as the only remaining direction no one took. This direction once lead to the storehouses and some more fields to grow anything, starting with wheat, fruits and vegetables up to weed as fodder for horses and sheep for wool to make clothes or cow for meat to eat and herbs for poison or threading wounds and that like. Now just a big, dark forest with strange deformed trees and who knows what creatures blocks the sight. He does not believe here could be where the generator stands and he is bored as hell, but because they can't locate the generators that are hidden in this way or another there is not much else they can do than looking in the beforehand estimated region. This could be a real pain in place like ice cliff or swamp areas but what has to haves to. Yawning he looks around and he does not bother to become overexcited and does not really try to find anything. "Well, there certainly is nothing here and I can't sense any concentrated darkness either but I like these deformed trees and I wonder what animals the dark brought forth here, besides I might get the chance to hunt some meat for us here, even gods servants must eat. I'll set up some traps and then take a nap. While this pressing atmosphere would keep normal slaves of the light away a being of darkness like me would love to live here. I might just do that while the whole investment gets rebuild later because until this fortress is fine and running again not even Dragon would start a war. If you warfare you need at least one tight defended base to work with." Not long after this thought and the setting of some evil traps he close his triangular black eyes to sleep.

Kanae searches a place that was probably a training field or the exercising plaza because still some bones lie around. Here for sure the one or other deadly practice battle took place. Walls stand connectionless in the free space probably depicting an enemy fortress. The giant crosses here and there of course mean something different than honorable graves. The stones on the ground are veined with cracks and some are already flushed to a point to build very small channels to draw off water or blood. The uneven mountain plateau cause the fluids to assemble in a small pond that could lie in the middle of the fortress used for practice. The space around here is big enough to hold two middle armies and a fortress. Further away the terrain is parted to simulate many different war situations and here as well is enough space for a small army to operate in each of the grounds, however if there once were many different terrains right now only high grass, sand, a plastered street, mountain stone and an uneven field remain. This whole field located at the outer rims of the mountain installment is multiple times bigger than the city could have been and it is practically an own country as well protected by many dangerous mountains but big enough to simulate whole wars. For attackers it also is very tough to get through everything, if the hard climb through the mountains wasn't enough but once you broke through some heavy obstacle you could practically found another country next to the original one and always watch the border with a whole army.

Kabuto meanwhile followed another trace. He takes his time to check the surroundings and soon notices something that looks, even after many centuries of withering like some kind of giant way and follows it. This way leads a while through nothing interesting besides some broken pillars and arches. It doesn't take long for him to reach a way with many piles of rubble on the sides. Under them some torches still appear to be enlightened. That however, should be impossible because since the region was destroyed many centuries ago. Then the rubble piles become smaller to fully expose the top of the torches where the flame normally burns. "Well, these dark flames still burn like in day one, no, even stronger and this means the darkness today is way deeper from the start then when it was before we first rose the last time. Darkness sure is concentrated in these times. I fear this could mean another Rikuddo may rise and destroy our ambitions sooner than expected and I suspect a certain one to be this savior of light... We must operate careful this time. If he awakes fully before all dark generators are operative and with the light generators still working no artifacts or just very few will be necessary to stop us again." What he not knows is that the light generators are already standing still, most of em at least.

"Whatever, seems I close in to the inner palace, which should be the best embattled building in this whole dark fortress. Even if this palace was once the mightiest, the time cost it much." He looks around and checks each remaining pile. His hopes to find a good preserved building fade away. It already comes to him, the rebuilding of this place won't be easy and it will take long, even with soulless and emotionless, already dead workers. "I wonder how much remained of it. Judging from everything else not much can be there. To clear up this mess we need much effort, especially considering how it originally was made."

He continues further and soon reaches the remaining of the main gate. What still stand of it are the two mighty pillars that once carried the front gate and the first set of the wall. The 9 meter quadratic gatehouse that spanned the three parts of the defensive wall and contained the mechanism for the two shudder gates is absolutely gone. Even the shudders just left a small trace of rust on the ground. The stones that were located in between the two main walls and used as a crumble zone are merely black dust now. Some parts of the original small still stand around though they are reduced to just knee high now, from 15 meters to just around 55 centimeters, a progress about many hundred years of weather and nature influence. In the center a few walls and creepy brocaded still remain but even if planned to, it probably would be a bad idea to build at them though it could safe just a little time.

In his eyes a slight confusion of wondering appears. "If I remember the throne room should be close now. I just have to pass a few more not anymore existing rooms and the stand right before the last thick door."

Not long after he said that he finds the last bid of room. First comes the meeting room with a less valuable throne comes and after another door the real throne was located. The real throne could only be visited by the sinners, some close servants and the 13 devils commanded by Kuroma where allowed to meet. That what was the real throne room is located mainly centered but a bit arranged in the back of the fortress. Just behind the throne with a connecting corridor that may only be used by the leader and some others that lead to important rooms like the bedchamber or the dinner area. The military discussion room is located further back and as well closed with a door that could only be opened with a certain chakra signature but these doors are as well long since broken. A small room with a device to bundle the dark energies emitting from the dark generators around the continent vanished automatically in the ground and just a small elevation is there.

"So the mechanism worked as set up. And I hoped to glimpse a bit of the remaining dark energy to strengthen myself fast but not always you get what you want. Well, I'm not in a hurry or anything but I should at least stand on the place where his real throne was and check the situation." A tad further he just does that.

Meanwhile Fangumo is digging the ground to reach the generator, though without the key he can do not much and he is angry for a different reason. He clenches his fist while standing in one of the tunnels.

"How dare he treats me like that and I have not really the chance to do anything to him as now but the chance to get him and to grab his position will come eventually and then he will regret it. Anyway for what I saw is that many parts of the under earth hallways are as expected caved in but they look better than the rest of the structure and they still hold." Soon after saying this he punches a pillar with much power but all that whirls is dust, not even a single small stone drops to the ground. Sideway torches still burn and with the same flame and intensity like above. Spider webs that indicate one giant spider hang around everywhere. Interesting in this case is that they even smear the torches but do not burn. They are of course made by a special spider that can use chakra, one of the creatures that helped to trap human in the days of darkness when the devils walked free through the lands. These where commanded by Dark Moon and with no one to lead the all retreated in their own world expect this exemplar. Kuran does not care about this and smiles evil. "Well, seems I will have a little fun now and something to eat, since I entered here I didn't eat anything, of course I am hungry now. You won't eat me but I will eat you huahuhuhua." Soon he used his shark like teeth to cut these threads. Not long after he gnawed on the net to alert the spider, prey is here a big, tunnel filling shadow rushes towards him. With the six, hook and thorn covered legs, three pairs of small black eyes and the strange pattern of fur it appears very threatening. It could swallow Fangumo in one piece if it wants. Despite all that, Fangumo does not tremble of fear but of excitement. With a small tone of disenchantment he talks to the spider. "Too bad, you're just a big version of the small fry of your kind. The increasing darkness in this world seems to give you a small spurt of growth but nothing to fear of. I will enjoy this meal."

The spider attacks first and tries to make him unable to move with her threads but she rarely hits. He just digs the ground where he stands and evades them fast. Now she tries to hit him hard enough with her legs to get the small delay to catch him. It takes a few shots but she does really hinder his movement with it her nets and gets him with an attack. Soon she entangles him and then is about to inject her poison in him to prevent any further movement. Right in that moment Fangumo uses his Doton to let pointy pillars elevate and skewer her. To prevent any of her poison or acid blood hit him he also raises an Earth Wall to defend, successfully. "Fast and effective, I prefer it to finish something fast and now it is dinner time, I just have to wait until all the acid in her blood has become harmless. I might as well search further for the chamber of the generator while that." And he triumphing looks further down the tunnel.

As said as done, he continues to walk to the next tunnel he feels a feint, dark energy from. Looking around something familiar seems to speak to him through his eyes. "Well, if memory serves right I must close in to the palace. This should be one of the trap tunnels to lead intruders away from the palace by making them believe this would be a secret, unprotected backdoor, well, this was the doom of many as I see now. Piles of bones lie around here. Even some of the tools they used to penetrate the darkness enchanted construction. Should better take some with me, they could come in handy later. Then another route it is, if I turn right at the crossing I passed a while ago instead of straight…"

Up at the fresh air and way far to the east Konohagakure is waking up. Tsunade used the whole night to search for any information regarding the 7 Sinners or the 13 Devils but not much luck now though she has still some material left. Now however her daily responsibility of leading a village starts anew. Resource must be managed, missions assembled, paperwork must be handled, talks must be attended and of course problems like making Naruto a Chunin must taken care of.

Naruto is already having breakfast with his beloved Ramen which is not so likely for our normally long sleeping hero. Tonight he dreamt about his time with Jiraya and he woke up when the first ray of sunlight hit his eyes. The pillow he slept on was drenched in tears but that was all to it unlike Tsunade who cried enough and moved enough this night, before she woke up to completely cry her bedding wet.

The last memory Naruto dreamed of was from the late journey not too long before they returned to Konoha. There he had a talk about leading the village with Jiraya and Jiraya made fun of Narutos ambition of leading Konoha. He said, "An idiot like you would never be able to lead a village. You're just too obvious for situations and you are reckless. You act out of anger and cannot think rationally. All traits a village leader should have are missing on you. Some of these things would change eventually through the time but during our journey I learned one thing for sure, you are not the kind of guy that ever would be able to silent work through paper which is what a Hokage also has to do very often."

In that time Naruto took it as an insult though it rather was a compliment, what he realized quiet a time later. Right now he remembers situations where he acted exactly like this. For example when Gaara was abducted and he heedlessly chased Deidara that could have ended badly for all parties. Some missions later where he acted similar come to his mind as well and he starts to realized his idiocy completely.

"Well sensei, even if I don't like it to admit you were right back then. After all this missions I went through with Team 7 and others later I should have learned one thing or another from Kakashi like checking and being aware of the surrounding, choosing camps that are protected well through Nature and/or bid good chances of defending and setting up traps. As a troop leader you are also responsible for the health and life of your comrades and not only the one yourself. This also means to avoid unnecessary trouble if possible to protect your comrades. You must be aware of all ability's or at least some of your friends or subordinated to deploy them proper. Many things to consider and I doubt I can do that easily, well that is probably what differences Jounin from Chunin not just Chunin from Genin. And you are right, I probably am not able to count that in because I'm too dumb and obvious like during the war where I childish reacted to the situation and not even thought this could mean something else. Probably another point Jounin have in advantage of Chunin, they can imagine and conclude more and better. Can I ever manage to do so? The next mission I do under a lead I should try to be more aware of such things. I should start to do things myself and not to rely on others so much, I rather should be the one others can rely on." His expression becomes depressive as he starts to realize his standing. "I have a long way to become responsible enough to lead Konoha."

In his thoughts he doesn't assure anymore that no obstacles are in his way and it won't take much longer until he either hits a wall, one of this many trees standing sideways the street or the stable of boards on the ground.

Staring the sky and walking uncoordinated he soon will end up hitting something or someone. Around the next corner Team 8's member Hinata and Kiba walk along and talk a bid about this and that. They also speak of Naruto. "I still can't believe Naruto got this great idea of using some Jutsu to speed up the work of the carpenter. I still think it sounded more like a random idea. His expression afterwards states this to me as well." "Accept it already Kiba, Naruto is not the Naruto that beat you during the Chunin exam pre-qualification. I still can't believe that you still bother with that. He proved more than once he can do immense things" she energetic replies to Kiba. This surprises him. "Tsk, every time we speak about Naruto you react so harsh. I don't know how to take that. Some time you speak of him like he is the man and other times it is like you detest him to the core. Is it because he still didn't thank you for your act when this Pain destroyed the city?" Hardly said Kiba gets hit by an outburst from Hinata to throw him off of Akamaru and pin him against the next close wall. Akamaru immediate follows to check the condition of his holder and friend. In the same moment she is sorry for it and hasty excuses. "Sorry Kiba, sorry. I didn't mean to hit you so hard, I mean I didn't want to hit you at all… are you all right?" but he does not get much of this because he is a little dazed for the moment. "Urgh, you sure hit hard if you want. (Seems she got a little problem there but I better shut because I don't want to get another one. At least she hits not as hard as Sakura. I every time wonder how Naruto endures this. The one time I caught one from her was way enough) I'm OK. Help me Akamaru, will you." As his friend asked Akamaru gets closer to Kibas head to give him something to shore and soon, but still a bid wobbly he stands again. Hinata is already bowing in excuse for her action when behind Sakura shouts she needs some help with carrying something. They turn around and a crash between them and the currently a little cloudy headed Naruto is prevented by Sakura. Naruto will not bump into Hinata but this doesn't safe him from other obstacles in his way.

An interesting set up of tools and boards farther before him waits for someone careless to crash into. Boards lie on some rocks, constructed like a seesaw with some open cans of mineral water on the lower part, close to a tree with overripe fruits just waiting to fall down on someone's head bid the perfect chance to see a bad surprise. Naruto trips over this boards and turn it a little before his weight makes it wag to launch the cans high in the air. His irritation of this let him crash into the tree and a bunch of fruits attack his head. Sticky he things "great" and looking upwards, just to see the cans shower him clean again. "Oh boy, this is great just too great. Man, I should keep an eye on the way while I think to prevent such events. Lucky no one is around to see me, what picture would it make." Too bad for him is that Konohamarus troop followed him since a bit. Because he was just air headed he couldn't notice them and now the laugh out of there hiding. Naruto of course immediate recognizes this laugher and face palms himself.

"Come out of your hiding Konohamaru, there is now way you could hide noisy like that." They do so. "Hahahahahaha bro, this was just too much. This sight just makes you laugh no matter what." Still laughing Moegi states then more while Konohamaru is already hiccupping out of laughing, "You just look so dumb now. Naruto. It can't be helped; if you act this foolish much longer Konohamaru will become the Hokage before you." While in other scenarios Naruto would explode now he calm reacts this time. "You might be right, why do I just feel like Sakura lectured me now." He smile and then laugh a little too. "But enough of the laughter already, with this freezing wind I better go back home and change this wet clothes. Keep going on helping to do the last rebuilding work. We will meet later anyway I think. See ya." This time aware of his steps he heads back in his residence.

Meanwhile two Anbu meet Tsunade in her office. The one with the rabbit mask starts the conversation. "You called for us Hokage-sama?" I did because I have a special assignment for you. In this mission you both won't wear a mask and your cover names will be Kou for you and Shen for you. I need to receive special items I just have vague hints where to find." The other one wearing the rat mask falls in her word." Shouldn't be too hard and why as normal Jounins?" Kou lectures him. "Shen, you shouldn't interrupt her." "..." "…Anyway, the reason is Naruto. "?" both look up. "In his Sage Mode he is sort of a sensor type Ninja and probably the only one that can scent out these special items." Shen again,"so we should babysit…" "Not exactly, I believe Naruto is strong enough to get this done on his own but there is more. I want him to learn how to lead a Team, he must learn this sooner or later and your main assignment is to assure he doesn't fuck up to much and safe his ass if it comes worse. Further you shall give him advice if necessary. You will meet him this noon on Training ground Zero. Dismiss and prepare. You will in any case start in the south-west corner of the wind country with the search. With normal speed you should reach the Black Mountains in approximately one week. Travel with light luggage and stock up in the towns you pass on the direct way. While that you might get some intelligence of strange items that appeared lately and if you hear about topics regarding the '7 Sinners' or the '13 Devils' send them immediate here even if they seem totally off. This means it also is an intelligence gathering mission but not prior. These information could hint towards the other items we need." They soon depart. She then sends Shizune after Naruto but he is not home.

After he changed he left for the memorial stone to pay Jiraya, his father and his mother respect. It is the first time ever he decides that. He never could collect the courage to face these heroes. Another one had the same idea. Kakashi did as well visit for Obito. He is surprised to see Naruto here. "Naruto, since when do you come here. I always thought you can't bear it to think on Jiraya or your parents who died because they had to, to prevent worse." Kakashi tries to encourage him. I never could muster the courage to face them because I always had the feeling I don't live up to their expectations. I now think I know why. I acted not as a responsible Shinobi and always looked like a clueless child the whole time." Tears trip his face. "A child that wants to change something but with no means to do so, blind idealism with no idea how to render it... Now I finally start to realize which steps I have to take until I achieve major changes." "(He starts to be a real man. I know it Naruto, you will make it.) Well, there is a mission I have to attend to now Naruto. It's been a while since I last had such a proud moment, until next time."

Naruto remains a few minutes here to be reminiscent at his journey so far. Through luck Shizune spots him there. "(What does Naruto do here? Is he confronting his sad past or something? He seems to cry. I better wait and see.) He then swaps away his tears. "Sensei, father and mother, I will assure you put your faith in the right person" he states confident. Shizune seizes him soon after he left this place to inform him about Tsunades call. "Are, there you are Naruto. I was looking for you already. Lady Tsunade wants to speak with you. It seems she has a task for you." "Alright, I'm coming." With Ninja speed they cross the village.

Despite knowing full well he is so much faster than Shizune he does not try to overhaul her. It doesn't take long to reach the office.

Tsunades is already waiting for Shizune and she is agitated because Shizune took so long. "Shizune" she shouts "what the hell took you so long?" "Naruto interrupts her. "It wasn't her fault Tsunade." "(Since when does he call me so and not granny, today is the first time ever, not much better though…) and why?" "I was visiting the hero monument of Konoha for the first time to pay my respect to Jiraya and my parents." "I… see…" she reacts a bit confused. Then, realizing that it would be better to drop that subject for now she goes on "anyway, I called you here for a mission I have for you." "What is it?" Naruto speaks in a perfect calm. This of course surprises Tsunade even more. "It is a mission only you can manage to accomplish." She expected him to act all worked up now but he still calmly listens. "Well, first of all I can't say you definitive which difficulty it is because we lack in information. It could be just a simple D-Rank mission up to an X-Ranked one that only a Ninja as skilled as me could attend to, depending on which other force is already after it." "Naruto, we also don't know much about this item or items for that matter, only that it has a different chakra signature. You are the only one that can probably see it in your Sage Mode, which is the main reason I choose you for it. As Sage you have a sensor type ability superior to all of natural sensor types. You're the only one that possibility can differ this special signature from anything else." She takes a breather while looking close to Naruto to see his reaction.

"I see anything else I should now?" Again Naruto impressed Tsunade with his reaction. "Yeah, there is. Despite the given circumstances this mission is also meant to be more. I will appoint you to be the leader of a three man cell." Naruto startles. "?" "You know, you are the only one of your graduating class that still is a Genin. Even Sasuke, with leading Taka proofed to be at least Chunin level. If he would rejoin Konoha, what seems unlikely as the latest information, that still origin in the war imply, I could immediate promote him to Chunnin." "You want to become Hokage one day but to be Hokage many things are required, over all leading ability. That is but one of the requirements. To be appointed as a Hokage you must also lap up respect among higher Jounin and the villagers. This is where the problems begin. You already persuaded the biggest segment of villagers with your defeating of Pain and your deeds in the war but many, especially the elder Jounin do not now and will never respect a mere Genin as a Hokage and therefore won't give you their voice in a vote. Additionally you must also convince the landlord and his adviser to agree on this and they will most unlikely accept a Genin, no matter what you do, to take the seat of the Hokage. As Hokage you also must be aware of high politics to make decisions though this is just another factor of time. The main point is with the official rank of a Genin you won't come far." As she ended she expected him to go crazy but he didn't, in fact he took it and even agrees with that while looking straight up. "I understand that finally as well."

Shizune is speechless and let her chin drop. ("Woah, what happened to Naruto?") Also Tsunade stops for a moment. "Anyway, in this mission you will lead a three man cell. Two experienced Ninja will be your subordinates in this case so if you screw up somehow they can cover you. I may put much trust in you with this one but one thing you must be aware of as well is that this is your one and only chance to ever become a Chunin. I will not be able to stand in for you any longer if you fuck up this one. I already strained too much of the patience for you. Don't let me down; I know you can do it now. Just remember what you learned while you where on so many missions with others and use it wise. You must not actually succeed. You just have to show them your leading skills and bring them back alive so they can report me. Always keep your heritage and teaching in your blow head and you should at least proof you're a worthy Chunin. This will give me back a wider scope to use for you and Sasuke so show me I was right in putting my fate in you. Prepare for a journey with light luggage that you restock in the villages on the way. The first sector, one of these items might be located is around the Black Mountains in the south-west corner of the Wind country. You will meet your companions on the training ground zero at noon and they are advised to listen to you as long as your decision is not a total fail. They will advice you if necessary, which I hope won't. Good luck with your mission and come back in one piece." She also hands him some information material about his Teammates in this mission.

He now leaves to prepare for the mission. Naruto knows he should travel with light weight and restock during the journey anything necessary. What he takes is pretty much standard equipment like a few Kunai, Shuriken, some medicine and material to make fire, a few bandages and of course food pills. He still has some time to breeze through the information material Tsunade gave him and surprisingly did. Then he leaves for the meeting point.

He spots the two guys sitting on the logs he remembers just too well from the initiation test Kakashi made for Team 7 and goes on.

Leaned on the left log a man with short black hair, a fatherly and friendly smile and eyes in a green-blue as well as a small tail centered in his back head hair looks at him. The man wears normal Chunin wear and a small white bag on his belly.

Sitting atop the middle log a man with cool sunglasses, hedgehog spiked, brown hair, additional slots for items in his grey and black spotted clothes that makes him practically invisible in the night or some shadows and a necklace that could easily destroy the illusion of invisibility in the wrong ankle critical looks at Naruto with his almond eyes that look like the eyes of an owl.

Kou on the left greets him normally and candid while Shen already explains he is not happy with this leader. "Good day Naruto, I heard a few things about you and think we might get along well and if you need any help feel free to ask for our opinions." "For me I heard enough of you to know the chance of a smooth mission is gone. It won't even take an hour before you fuck up your first decision I believe but I have my orders to follow you and only advice you and will do so." Kou sighs after this. "(Well, I also heard a few things to be concerned of but we don't know that much so this was a bit overreacting. He should at least give him a chance and not makes it harder for him. But it probably can't be helped since Shen always sided with the elders…) Naruto acts not offended. "I already learned you could be a bit difficult to handle Shen and I in no way think I am good as a leader since it is my first time and therefore I know the one or other time I will consult you or Kou and ask for your opinions but I ask you to not think of me bad from the beginning just because you heard a few things. Make your opinion yourself while we work together." He ends his speech and both just saw a spark and start, without realizing it to like him a bit. "(At least he's not a cocky one as the rumors say.)" "(He just sounded a bit like master Kakashi when we first met and worked together. It appears his teacher colored him a bit.)" Kou continues. "Well, my name is Kou and it is nice to meet you in person." Then Shen "And I am Shen. As you hopefully checked I'm specialized in Stealth and Traps. You better use my abilities wise." "I am specialized with Nin- and Genjutsu and as well have some experience in medical Ninjutsu together with your good Taijutsu we should be pretty much prepared for the most cases." "Good, we can depart now. I would say Shen should remain a little back and keep hidden to back us up and later set up some traps behind us on the way if it should become necessary. I as a mainly close range fighter will lead and Kou, you should be able to cover some distance with your Ninjutsu in front of you and in your back. Any objections?" "No, seems a good basic formation to me." "Same goes for me either" "Then we can start." However, they cannot fathom where this mission will lead or how long they will be away from Konohagakure.

End of Chapter 1