Orochimaru shifted impatiently as he waited. Considering how late it was getting, the possibility that the ninja he'd sent out to kidnap Sasuke's son had run into trouble between Konoha and here grew. News that the first part of the mission was successful had arrived long before. The shinobi he'd sent out had yet to do so as well however.
Otogakure was three days away from Konoha as a Genin or freshly minted Chunin could travel, but fo a Jounin, especially one that was as heavily modified as the one he'd sent out, that travel time could be brought down to a day or less if they were going full tilt as someone who'd managed to successfully kidnap one of the Uchiha infants should be. The only things he could think that could have gone wrong was that Danzo who was keeping a stable of his own little Uchiha pets had gotten wind of his plans and decided to add another to his batch while the location of the only Uchiha son was still in question. He would have heard if other villages had gotten wind of his plans, as the results would have been rather...messy, and likely would have ended up with the infant dead in the struggle over it.
Kidnapping Sasuke's offspring wasn't the only plan he had in his arsenal when it came to getting Sasuke's Sharingan, but it was one of the easiest, and since the time to change bodies was coming soon...
People wondered why he didn't give up on Sasuke, but the truth was, Sasuke was just about his only possible means of acquiring the Sharingan since Danzo guarded that arm and stolen eye of his jealously. Trying Itachi again would just be suicide on a stick, and the same went for Tobi, both the more public Tobi who had controlled the Mizukage and the Akatsuki and the more private Tobi who tended to vanish into the background as if he were never there quietly doing things that supposedly furthered Madara's "plans", completely oblivious to the fact that Uchiha Madara was long since dead and gone.
Seeing as there was no second option, and no alternative, it would appear that he would have to do something more direct in order to acquire Sasuke. Perhaps if he let slip that he was the reason that the boy's son had been taken...
The Uchiha would do anything for revenge after all.
Uchiha Sasuke felt numb as he entered the Mission Assignment room. He knew that that would soon change however after the Shock wore off and the reality of the situation set in. He would have to be away from Konoha when that happened, far away, or there's no telling what he might do. Based on past experience, he knew that he would either turn his anger inward or outward. If he turned it inward, he might possibly do something that could destroy him. If he turned it outward, there was a possibility that with his current skill level he could go on a killing spree that could make the Uchiha Massacre seem almost tame in comparison by the time the village shinobi managed to contain him and bring him down.
He was going to need to kill something soon, and it would be best if it wasn't a citizen of Konoha. Not because he particularly liked or cared for Konoha, but because it would be nearly impossible for him and his to live here if he did. While not absolute, as was illustrated by the disappearance of his son, Konoha provided a measure of protection that he would not be able to have out on his own. Were he on his own, he would have to look over his shoulder every second of every day, and he would not have guards to relieve him so he could rest, or helpers that could deal with the more mundane tasks so he could focus on protecting his children.
"I want the highest ranked mission you can give me." he said when he reached the Mission Assignment desk which was currently being manned by that pair of gate ninja he'd occasionally seen doing odd jobs around the village.
The one on the right, Kotatsu? Kotetsu?, winced slightly. Apparently, they'd been given orders regarding just such a situation.
"I'm sorry, but I can't give you anything higher than a C. Hokage's orders." the man said, confirming his suspicions.
"Do any of the current C's include killing?" he asked.
One of the numerous bandit clearing missions that cropped up every once in a while when people's greed overrode their sense of self-preservation, or people simply got desperate enough that the thought of ninjas coming to kill them no longer frightened them since they had no other option was slid across the desk towards him. Knowint that it was the best he could get under the circumstances, he took it, read the particulars, signed off on it, marking it as a solo job, and left.
All too soon, he was past the village gates and on the road. Many would think him cold and callous for leaving the village so soon after his son had been taken rather than gathering his other children all the closer and spending every moment with them that he could in case something happened to them, but it was because he didn't want something to happen to them that he was leaving. He knew that his mental and emotional state was precarious at the moment, and if he didn't get his head screwed on straight, it was entirely possible that he would do something he'd regret, do something like what that one cousin of his did to make sure that nobody would ever hurt her children. He passed by those three small graves every time he visited those of his parents.
Naruto blamed himself. If he'd given the rumor which had been the result of an actual security leak, and had actually been important more credence rather than mentally cataloging it with the others regarding Orochimaru and Sasuke which hadn't really panned out, the village would have been on higher alert, several ANBU would still be alive, and Sasuke's son would be in the village right now.
As he sat there going back over and over the manner in which he'd reported the rumor he'd gotten from his informant rather than decoding the seal that Jiraiya had given him, he wondered which words he'd used that had caused it to be marked down as "not serious". He'd been rather tired, and put out from having to deal with Satoshi who'd thought he'd been having fun despite the fact that drinking and hooking up with people hadn't been one of his favorite pastimes when he'd turned up at the Intelligence department. Had it been the grumbling manner in which he'd delivered his report which had marked it as low priority? Had it been the fact that the information was rather vague in and of itself?
"Takeru" had done his best to get what little he could. The traveler who often made forays into the smaller countries and had his finger on the pulse of such places as a matter of survival had come through for Jiraiya and Konoha in turn in the past. This time however, he had failed through no fault of his own. What little information he'd gathered, which was what little there was to be had had simply been too little too late, especially because a total ditz who should have realized that it was more significant than the usual "threats" had completely failed to deliver it in a way that would cause it to be taken seriously, mainly because he himself hadn't taken it all that seriously.
Because he'd failed and had been more focused on his minor discomforts, several good shinobi had lost their lives, and Sasuke's son had been taken to parts unknown, parts that could quite possibly be Orochimaru's lair where he would be kept for nefarious purposes.
Jiraiya had warned him something like this could happen, told him that something like this had happened to him several times before, but did he listen to him? No. Instead, he'd stood there and told the man that he was mature enough to be responsible for at least part of his spy network, which was obviously not the case as this situation clearly illustrated.
He couldn't give the responsibility back however, because the instant he'd lightened the old pervert's load, the bastard went and just about overextended himself taking on extra responsibilities that he wouldn't be able to manage if he dumped his share of the load back on his shoulders. Jiraiya may have been legendary when it came to his strength and skill, but he wasn't getting any younger, and even the strongest of men had a breaking point.
Considering what he'd already survived, he wondered what his would be.
Raccoon barely held back her tears as she signed the last of the documents regarding the autopsy of one of a half-dozen ANBU who had been casualties of Uchiha Fugaku's kidnapping. With this signature, Rabbit's file would be closed out, the body of a young man who was only a year and change older than her would be returned to its family, and a mask would be up for re-assignment. In a week or two, there would be a new Rabbit with a new paint job, and it wouldn't be the Rabbit she knew, the Rabbit who'd occasionally joked with her in the ANBU breakroom when he'd noticed that she was feeling out of her element as rookie ANBU were wont to do.
She didn't envy the Hokage the responsibility of having to fill vacancies in her forces, especially in this day and age when, except for a lucky few who'd had the drive to do extra training and had the right mentors to help them on their way, the shinobi candidates she'd seen were so...unqualified it wasn't even funny. If she didn't know any better, she'd say the Academy curriculum had been sabotaged, but since it was the same as what she'd studied back when she was in the Academy, that couldn't possibly be the case.
After signing the form that released the former Rabbit's body to his relatives, she delivered the file to Administration who'd deliver it to the Hokage whom she rarely ever saw even though she was ANBU and therefore had theoretically been picked by her to serve her needs and answer only to her. Once the file had been delivered, she headed back to ANBU headquarters where she shucked her equipment and had a much-needed shower. Once out of the shower, she signed out for the evening, hoping to find comfort in the one place that hadn't yet let her down, though there had been a time or two that she'd wanted to strangle its inhabitants.
"What's wrong Sakura?" a worried Haruno Barako asked her daughter as she came through the door.
"Just...Work stuff." Sakura replied as she seated herself at the table, despite the fact that it wasn't mealtime, and she wasn't really in the mood to eat.
Obito had made his speech, exhorting Naruto to join him and was holding his hand out, awaiting the boy's answer. Naruto was barely paying attention to his father's former student however, as he seemingly only had eyes for someone else, namely the other man standing on the head of the Jyuubi.
"Are you really Madara?" Naruto asked.
"Yes." The resurrected Uchiha Madara replied.
"Are you really, really, Madara and not just another Tobi like that old dude whasshisname?" Naruto asked.
Twin mutters of "I thought he died" came from the Uchiha following that question.
"Yes, I'm really, really, Madara." Madara replied, wondering if having his minions going around using his name had really been all that bright of an idea now that he thought of it...
"Great!" Naruto said cheerfully before pulling a storage scroll from his vest pocket and pulling out a battered copy of A Treatise on Traps.
"Can you sign my book?" Naruto asked.