Scorpion's Masterpiece

Chapter 6

– Konoha, Hokage's Office, Late Afternoon –

Hiruzen sighed, an action he found himself doing far, far, far too much recently and let his head fall with a loud thunk on top of his desk, the Hokage's Hat toppling off of his head and resting on the desk as well.

"Getting tired of the job Hiruzen? I'd be happy to take over if you retire."

The eldest Sarutobi's head snapped back up (OW! Dammit, I'm gonna feel that for the next week!) Standing there in the doorway was the one-eyed bane of his life, Shimura Danzō, smirking at the sight of the Leaf's esteemed Hokage lying down on the job.

"Danzō." Hiruzen sighed, leaning back in his chair. "What are you here for?" Danzō walked up and sat down in the chair normally kept there for those meeting the Hokage.

"I am here about the Nine-Tails host...Uzumaki Naruto." Hiruzen, taken aback, eyed the ROOT Leader with disbelief. That was virtually the first time Danzō had ever referred to Naruto by name. Previously, it had always been 'jinchūriki', 'host' or rarely, 'boy'. Never anything that would admit that Naruto had individuality, identity, or a fate beyond that as the village's most powerful weapon. For Danzō to do so meant something, as the man hardly said or did anything without reason, and was careful with his words.

"What about him Danzō?" The Third asked lowly, fixing his rival and on-again, off-again friend with a cold stare.

"I want to suggest that you give him a traveling license, as Jiraiya has."

Had Hiruzen been drinking, there would have been a powerful spray of liquid that would have soaked Danzō head-to-toe.

"W-what!" He sputtered. "Why in the world would I do that! Naruto needs to stay here in Konoha-"

"So that you can continue to observe and study him to see if he's a criminal and traitor still?" Danzō frowned at the expression on Hiruzen's face. "Oh please Hiruzen, don't be so surprised. It's pathetic. You didn't really expect me to believe that 'three year training mission' trash, did you? It was plainly obvious, after all of your manipulations, that the boy grew fed up and left. I was surprised to learn that he was being taught by Sasori, but that was the only real shock in the situation." The Hokage merely stared, before slumping.

"I suppose I shouldn't be surprised." He muttered. "You are you, after all."


"Still, Naruto must be watched, and that is best done in the village. The missions are for his and the village's benefit, to make it seem as though he was fully accepted back."

"And who do you think you're fooling with that?" Danzō demanded, receiving a sigh and a bitter smile in return.

"Certainly not Naruto." Hiruzen muttered. He was getting more and more shocks. This conversation was the most he and Danzō had talked peacefully in decades, and the elder of the two (Not that one would know that, judging merely by appearance.) was the most emotive he'd been since Tobirama-sensei's death.

"Precisely. He knows that you and the others of your little conspiracy are still suspicious of him, and he's come back only to obtain something or complete some objective of his, whatever that may be. The current situation is one that he can end at any moment - and when the opportunity comes, he will do so without hesitation, have no doubt about that."

"And what do you suggest I do about that?" Hiruzen snapped. "Giving him a traveling license will only connect Konoha to whatever crimes and atrocities he might commit in the world! The village's reputation is still stained from the horrors Orochimaru committed, even though we disavowed him as a shinobi of the Leaf and labeled him a missing-nin!"

"I believe you might be over-reacting somewhat Hiruzen." Danzō said, smirking again at the repeated gawk. "While you might not have wished for this outcome, the results of Uzumaki's upbringing, Sasori and all, have produced what is perhaps the perfect blending of our respective goals for him. He is not emotionless or without morality, and retains the determination from his childhood days. He is capable of being ruthless when required of his duties, as seen in the reports of him prior to his departure, and does not shy from killing. The only issue is his loyalty."

Hiruzen had to admit, they probably couldn't have made such a psychological chimera composed of each other's ideals if they'd tried. However...

"And what of Sasori? He most likely holds the majority of Naruto's loyalty, and if he should-"

"Sasori is hardly a threat to Konoha." Danzō snorted. "In fact, I am assured that he is no threat to any shinobi village at all. I've read psychology reports on him from several villages' archives–"

"I don't doubt that."

"– and his obsession with art most likely extends to Naruto, who as his apprentice is perhaps a piece of art as well. Maybe even a masterpiece. And when an artist creates a masterpiece, what does he do with it?" Hiruzen contemplated Danzō for a moment. "He takes it on a tour, to show the world his genius. I don't doubt Uzumaki's tale of Sasori leaving him to his own devices. The Red Sand likely does have Uzumaki's utmost respect and loyalty - that is after all, natural for a student and his master - but I doubt that he will actually use it for anything harmful to us so long as we don't provoke him." Danzō further explained.

"And so, your...scheme?"

"Uzumaki still has ties here in Konoha." Danzō leaned forward. "That much is certain, and you yourself have made use of those ties in that group of chunin you formed. What we need to do is to add more ties, more connections, and earn his trust. Giving him a traveling license will show that, despite his desertion, you still trust him to do the village right, even unsupervised. And perhaps," Danzō added as Hiruzen thought, "A bit of an apology for restricting him so long ago."

"This is all well and good," The Hokage said, "But thus far you've only mentioned Naruto and I - what of the village leaders? The civilian guilds, the shinobi council and ANBU Commander–"

"You ARE the Hokage, are you not?" Danzō asked. "What right have they to challenge you? If they make trouble, deal with them. Although I suppose I could counteract them with my connections."

Hiruzen hesitated, but then sighed and nodded.

"I believe your suggestion to be sound, and favorable to both the village and Naruto."

"Perfect. Naruto has his freedom for his goals, and the village has the perfect weapon - untraceable, quick, and by all accounts, devastating." Danzō smugly stated, making Hiruzen want to punch his old friend just to shut him up.

Danzō left then, the old ROOT Leader had a knowing smirk on his face.

Uzumaki Naruto...You might be the one to do it.

Danzō had a dream. It was pure, and simple in its concept.

To create peace in the world, by uniting all of the shinobi in it under Konoha's rule.

The original plan had been conceived some years after Hiruzen became the Third Hokage. The choice Senju Tobimura, the Second Hokage, had made still rankled back in those days, but Danzō had to admit Hiruzen made a decent leader. Still, for his dream, Danzō would have to be Hokage, and so he'd began laying the foundations for him to become leader back then, which would in turn serve as the foundation for his dream.

But, it never panned out. Despite his efforts, Hiruzen had chosen that youth, Namikaze Minato as the Fourth, and had re-assumed the mantle of Hokage after the blond seal master's death.

As a practical man, Danzō admitted that he was getting too old, perhaps such that he would never see his dream accomplished, be it by his hands or another's. Certainly too old to make any reasonable progress towards it at this point, even if he did take the seat. But...

In the past, when Naruto had been the bumbling fool, he'd seen the boy as little more than a useless waste, squandering the time he had on foolishness rather than refining the power he held as the Nine-Tails' vessel. Now, however, the boy - no, the shinobi, had cunning and skill to use that power, the ability to fool those around him almost flawlessly, and the ruthlessness to do what needed to be done.

Yes...Naruto was a perfect candidate to fill Danzō's shoes.

I'll help you fulfill your old dream of becoming Hokage, Uzumaki...whether you still want it or not.

– An Hour Later –

An hour after Danzō left Hiruzen's office, the Hokage called Naruto up.

"Hey Old Man!" The blond greeted Hiruzen with a smile...well, he though the did, it was kind of hard to tell with that scarf over his lower face.

"Naruto." The Hokage nodded in return with a smile.

"So, what's up?"

"First Naruto, how are you finding Konoha now, after three years away?" The old man asked, leaning forward and clasping his hands together atop his desk.

"Well," Naruto said, scratching his head, "It's kind of nice seeing everyone from my class again - though, for some reason, Kiba doesn't seem to like me all that much - but other than that..." He sighed. "It's not that much different than before I left. Actually, with some of the civilians, it's even worse." He shrugged at that. "Guess absence doesn't always make the heart grow fonder."

"I suppose not." Hiruzen muttered. "At any rate, I want to give you a traveling license." Naruto blinked.



Then his eyes hardened.

"What's this about Old Man?"

"Consider it," Hiruzen sighed, "An apology. For everything you went through before you left." He awaited for the blond ninja's response. Naruto stared at him, with cold, flinty blue eyes, until the chunin sighed and sat down in the chair in front of the Hokage's desk.

"I'll level with you Old Man." He said. "I never intended to stay in Konoha." The Hokage's gaze locked firmly onto Naruto. "I only came back because I wanted to find Neji, and to see how everyone was doing. After that, I was just going to leave and get on with my plans. Which I'm going to have to change now, come to think of it." He mused.

"You were planning on harming Konoha!" Hiruzen asked, shocked.

"Not really, no." Naruto said, sheepishly rubbing his head. "But some of the things I was planning on doing, if I did them now, would more than likely have rather...negative consequences on Konoha's rep."

"Like what?"

"Eh, nothing to worry about anymore, really..."


"Like, ah, maybe...invading-the-other-shinobi-villages-cough." Naruto muttered.

"WHAT!" The Hokage, again, stared at Naruto, who was sheepishly scratching his head, again. "You know what? Nevermind. I don't want to deal with it. At any rate, there's another mission for you here." Naruto glanced up sharply at that. "As I'm certain you're aware of, Hyuuga Neji disappeared from the prison two years ago. No one has ever figured out how, as there are no signs of any doors being opened, and only his manacles were left, but recently, I've received information that he's been sighted in the main complex of Otogakure."

Hiruzen was quite aware of Naruto's interest, the blond having reassumed a piercing ice-cold glare.

"Other information has stated he is to lead a team of Oto-nin into the Land of Fire, to begin sabotaging its economy through the destruction of major trade and manufacturing villages. Your mission," Here Hiruzen handed Naruto the mission scroll, "Is to stop that, and capture Neji - listen to me Naruto, capture him, and bring him here for trial." Naruto glared at the Hokage coldly, for several long seconds. For a moment, Hiruzen feared that he was going to refuse.

Then Naruto sighed, and nodded his assent.

"Good. You are to leave tomorrow."

– Next Day, Village Gates –

It was early morning, and Naruto was itching to be off.

He was assigned another mission, and this time with a larger team - everyone that had come to pick him up about a month ago, as a matter of fact. Ino, Kiba, Sakura, Sasuke, and Shino. It was a bit different than the usual 'three-man team' set-up normally used, but then Naruto figured that they and the old man were getting more cautious after that display with the Bakegitsune Puppet as the 'Avatar of Kurama'.

"Hey Naruto!" He turned and saw Sakura jogging up, Sasuke and the others close on her heels.

"Yo Sakura!" Naruto said, raising a hand and imitating Kakashi's 'eye-smile' with both optical organs, noting how she stalled and shivered before forging on and standing before him.

Man, he loved messing with them like that.

"So, where are we going?" Sakura asked.

"Some trade village in the north." Naruto said, taking out the mission scroll from yesterday and tossing it behind him to her as he went through the gates.

"Trade village in the north? Why would-" Sakura's voice stopped cold when she actually read through the scroll. " says we're going after Neji..."

"Yep. The Arch-Bastard himself." Naruto replied, with a grin that made the others shudder.

"Er, Naruto." Kiba spoke up, reading the scroll from over his shoulder. "It says that we have to capture him and return him to Konoha - alive."

"I know, I know." Was the orange-coated ninja's reply. "But he just has to come back with the psychological and physical ability to answer Ibiki and Anko when they ask him questions. He doesn't really need limbs for that, now does he."

Sakura and Ino exchanged looks, as did Shino and Kiba. Sasuke merely nodded, perfectly understanding, although he himself probably wouldn't do the same for Itachi if there ever came a mission to capture his older brother.

"Let's get moving." Naruto said, voice turning cold before he jumped up and into the tree boughs above. A pause, and the others followed.

– Ten Hours later –

It was a while after their departure from Konoha, and truth be told, the five ninja of the NRT were tiring, mostly due to the relentless pace Naruto set.

"Naruto!" Ino shouted. He didn't respond.

"Hoy! Bastard!" Kiba tried. No response. Finally, Shino darted forward, landing next to Naruto on the next bough he landed on, and laid a hand on his old friend's shoulder.

"Naruto." Shino started. "We cannot continue at this pace. None of us have your stamina, and if we arrive at our destination at this rate, the rest of us will be too tired and drained to aid you, and will in fact more likely be hindrances. I have no doubt that you could take on a dozen ninja, even with this draining pace, but it would be better to have us rested and able to aid you in case of any complications." Naruto stood still. "Kiba and I understand how you feel. Hinata was our team-mate, and we would like nothing more than to see him dead. But we won't be able to see that happen if we arrive tired and unable to help you capture him properly."

Naruto stood still, until he sighed and nodded. "I understand, I just..." He trailed off, looking into the distance, before sighing again. "Thanks for stopping me Shino. I think there's a clearing up ahead that-" Then his eyes widened, and he shoved Shino off of the branch, just as a flash of white darted for him, going through the space Shino inhabited just seconds ago, and exploded.

"HA! See that Juugo? One shot and he's down for the count, yeah!" A voice crowed, before its source appeared, a blond man appearing out of a body flicker technique on a branch several meters away from the other Konoha-nin.

"Deidara! Pain-dono wanted us to capture the Nine-Tails jinchūriki, not blow it apart!" A man, well, more like a boy, appeared next to the blond, making to hit him. The blond deftly ducked under the swing, jumping off to another branch.

"Chill freak! He's a jinchūriki, yeah! Sad to say, I doubt one of those small C1 bombs I hit him with would be enough to take him out permanently! It's a pity we have to capture him though, I'd have liked to discuss art with him-" And then, a small red bird swooped out of the sky, fluttered its wings and landed on Deidara's shoulder. The blond Akatsuki member glanced at once curiously before turning away - and then jerked his head back around and looked at it again.

It was covered in black seal markings.

"Ooh, he's a clever boy, yeah."

Then Deidara exploded.

"Deidara!" Juugo cried, as the explosion knocked him aside. As he fell, Naruto appeared on the forest floor, swinging a punch that landed and shot the orange-haired boy away and into a tree trunk.

"Wha-what was that!" Ino shouted, jumping down from her branch and followed closely by the others.

"Akatsuki." Naruto replied grimly. "You guys should get out of here, I-"

"The hell do you mean we should get out of here?" Kiba demanded. "If you can take these punks-"

"Kiba." Naruto growled. "These are S-Class Missing-nin. S-Class. And they're after me, not any of you. You've gotta get back to Konoha and get help."

"I'm afraid we can't allow that Naruto-kun." The cool, calm voice elicited extreme reactions in two of the group. Naruto immediately closed his eyes and turned his head towards his feet, while Sasuke's eyes widened and his face twisted into a grimace, as he swung his head about to glare at the source, Sharingan blazing in his eyes.

"ITACHI!" The youngest surviving Uchiha roared, as his elder brother stepped out of the shadows of the trees.

"Fuck, it's Itachi." Naruto muttered. "This whole thing was a trap wasn't it?" His eyes, the Konoha-nin were startled to see, were orange with slitted pupils, and his voice was emotionless and calculating.

"How smart you are to discern that." Itachi said tonelessly, before turning his whole attention to his brother. "Sasuke. Do you hate me?"

"With fervor." The younger Uchiha snarled, his hands twitching with the desire to kill.

"Good." Itachi's eyes narrowed. "Harness it."

"My, my, Itachi-san, I thought you killed your clan." The voice drifted out, as a blue-skinned man with the features of a shark appeared next to Itachi. "Who's this?"

"My little brother." Itachi responded cooly. "Don't bother with him. Naruto-kun is our objective, go capture him while I deal with the rest, Kisame."

"Ah, it might be a little late for that." Kisame said, pointing past Naruto.

"For Pain-dono!" Juugo roared, his mutated form shuddering in its transformation that turned the formerly mild boy into a bloodthirsty grey-skinned beast. A scream, mixed of joy and rage, tore itself from the transformed boy, and he charged at Naruto.

The orange-coated shinobi didn't move or dodge, and instead matched the punch thrown at him. A thunderous crack filled the air, and the two leaped aside, Naruto cradling his arm as Juugo howled.

"You have monstrous strength." The scorpion's disciple coldly noted, his slitted eyes flitting from Juugo to his broken arm. "Strength I can't match as I am now, although I bet Tsunade with her better chakra control could do it." He grunted, snapping his broken ulna and radius into their proper positions and let the bones flow back together, just as strong as before. "I suppose I'll have to use it."

Deep inside the seal, Kurama's grin stretched wider.

Naruto unbuckled his belt and unzipped his coat, letting both drift apart as he took his arms out of the sleeves, and let the whole garment flap behind him like a cape.

For a brief instant, Akatsuki and Konoha-nin alike saw the physique normal to a teenage ninja that worked out regularly, nothing special.

"Dead Bone Art: Armor of Yomi." Naruto growled out, preparing himself for pain.

(A/N: I'm not normally one to interrupt in the middle of a chapter, but I had to say: Go to youtube, search 'sengoku basara the last party: nobunaga revived anime theme ' and click the first video that shows up)

Then the spikes of bone tore themselves from his flesh, emerging from the spinal column, the clavicle, the ribs, the humerus, femur, from what seemed to be each and every bone in the human body. And then they shifted, melted, merged together, forming into plates, into gauntlets and greaves and pauldrons. From Naruto's skull erupted horns that molded around his hitai-ate to form a happuri, armor that covered both forehead and cheeks, even as bones that tore from his mandible formed a skeletal fanged mask around the rest of his face. The only visible element of his head left was the eyes. Eyes that burned now, with the Nine-Tail's bloody red chakra.

One hand, encased in a taloned gauntlet of bone, reached down to his side. From his body erupted a hilt, and he grasped it and pulled, unsheathing a wide, straight-bladed sword that curved to a point near the end.

"K-kaguya!" Juugo, stunned, stuttered out, his cursed form receding somewhat. "Like Kimimaro?"

"Oh?" The deep, guttural voice that emerged from the armored figure that stood in the center of the halted battle was little like Naruto's. "You knew the Kaguya I killed to get this ability? Such a coincidence." Juugo's face twisted, snarled and his form returned to its previous state, changing even more as his arms became pistons topped by enormous bony fists.

"I'LL MURDER YOU!" He roared, leaping forth with a single bound, one fist leading and lashing out atop its piston - only to be intercepted by Naruto's coat, now glowing red as a shapeless mass with the Nine-Tail's chakra coursing through it. Unperturbed, Juugo's other fist lanced forth, intent on shattering the ribs of the one who slew his friend.

Naruto's gauntlet caught that fist, stopping it in its tracks just as easily as anyone would catch a normal fist.

Juugo's face, shocked even through his madness and battlerage, became even more so when the bone-sword sliced across his midsection, catching on his ribs and tossing aside the curse-formed boy a dozen meters.

"Don't think brute strength will help you anymore!" Naruto shouted, Kurama's bloodlust leaking out into his voice and giving it an even more frightening sound. "This armor helps my strength-enhancement technique! Tsunade herself couldn't overpower me like this!"

The only response from Juugo was a guttural howl as Pain's devout follower launched himself at Naruto for a third time. As he approached, Naruto lifted his left hand, index and middle fingers pointing together at Juugo for an instant before he spoke.

"Inferno Release: Kitsunebi!" Wind-natured blue chakra swirled around the fingers, before a small amount of Kurama's red chakra mixed with it, making the air flash purple for an instant before the mix exploded, sending a thin cone of azure-flamed wind blades out at Juugo. The blades tore through the air, earth, and slammed into the transformed Akatsuki member, throwing him back a meter. "Man, you really are tough! That technique would have eviscerated anyone else!" Naruto sort-of praised, before he raised his blade, upon which the legendary blade, Samehada smashed into it.

"Heh, you seem to have gotten better!" Kisame chuckled. Then he frowned, when Samehada shivered unpleasantly, and leaped back as Naruto's cloak snapped at him, lashing out under the influence of Kurama's chakra. "Whoa! What's up with your chakra? Samehada doesn't like it at all!"

"And what makes you think I'll tell you? Tail-Wind!" Naruto roared, whipping his cloak around with force enough to generate a powerful, chakra-laced gust of wind that blew into the Kiri missing-nin, forcing him to interpose Samehada and dig his heels into the dirt.


"Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique!" Itachi called out, exhaling a frankly huge ball of flame that flew right for the bone-armored jinchūriki. The fireball engulfed him, exploding in heat and flames.

"NARUTO!" Sakura and Ino screamed, while the others of the team were shell-shocked into immobility.

Damn it Itachi! Sasuke snarled. Not again! Then the flaming ground where Naruto stood blew apart, the red chakra-engulfed cloak fluttering back as its master, pointedly not looking at the traitorous Uchiha, gestured at him with the same two fingers he'd pointed at Juugo with.

"Kitsunebi Barrage!" There were multiple, rapid explosions, each firing off its own number of weaker flaming blue wind blades in a more concentrated cone at Itachi. The Akatsuki member was already moving, and the slicing, burning blades missed him each time by literally centimeters.

Then the earth erupted out in front of him, a cloud of insects swarming from the hole to engulf him.

"Sasuke!" Shino called, "Get him now!" Sasuke started, before snarling and flashing through hand-seals.

"Chidori!" The chunin roared, racing forth to stab his older brother with the lightning technique. Kisame, seeing the death coming for Itachi, moved to intercept Sasuke.

"And where do you think you're going!" The bone-forged sword slashed for Kisame's face, and the shark-like man had to stop and block with Samehada.

And thus, Kisame could do nothing but watch as Sasuke plunged his lightning-encased hand into the cloud of insects covering his brother. The swarm dissolved, returning to Shino and revealing a wide-eyed Itachi...right before he tore apart into a murder of cawing crows.

"Damn! Genjutsu!" Sasuke snarled, his Sharingan eyes darting about in search for his brother.

Back with Kisame and Naruto, the former grinned and drew his blade back to swing at Naruto. The blades clashed, and then broke apart as each of their wielders swung at the other again, Kisame forced to resort to a two-handed grip under the strength of the armored Naruto's blows.

"Damn, you're strong!" Kisame growled, his eyes glinting with glee as their two blades clashed again.

"Of course." Naruto growled. "With me and Kurama working together like this...we can match you perfectly, Tailless Beast!"

"So you know my nickname! I guess I shouldn't be surprised, eh, One-Man Orange Platoon? Speaking of which, where are those puppets that got you that name eh?" Kisame chuckled, battering Samehada against Naruto's curved sword again.

"I don't need them when I'm like this!" Naruto answered, slamming his blade down on Samehada again, before jabbing forth at Kisame with two fingers. "Grand Kitsunebi!" Kisame's eyes widened briefly before the technique's explosion and wind-blades threw him back, Akatsuki cloak aflame. It took some patting and a D-Class water technique, but the flames were easily put out, leaving the missing-nin with a torn, burnt wound on his torso.

"Eh, I've had worse." He shrugged, taking Samehada in both hands again and facing Naruto.

Just then though, a flock of white clay birds flew from the sky, darting right for the bone-armored shinobi. Naruto ignored them, advancing for Kisame, as his red cloak coiled about him, shielding him from the exploding sculptures.

"Hey! Don't think you can just get rid of me like that!" Deidara angrily shouted, dropping down from the trees. "I'm not some unskilled painter to be ignored, yeah!"

"My apologies Deidara-sempai, let me greet you appropriately." Naruto said, before his cloak burst, red birds and orange butterflies emerging from it as Kurama used his chakra to trigger the appropriate scrolls, unraveling and unsealing them within the cloak. Over three dozen redbirds and nearly three hundred monarch butterflies flew in the sky above.

In the next instant, several redbirds darted down, homing in on Deidara and detonating in his face.

"Huh, your art's pretty good, yeah." Deidara commented, emerging from the ground after the destruction of his latest clay clone. "But mines better!" He shouted, hands darting into his bags to grab handfuls of clay for the mouths merged into his palms to chew and spit out.

"C2! Dragons!" Deidara announced gleefully, the clay dragon sculptures he produced puffing into smoke and becoming life-size, mobile clay dragons that flew for Naruto. However, before they could go far, an arc of lightning intercepted them.

Sakura and Ino landed in between Naruto and Deidara, the former with hands clasped and ready to speed through seals, while the latter wielded two elongated kunai.

"You'll have to go through us to get to Naruto!" Ino declared, Sakura nodding firmly next to her.

"Psh. Girls like you can't appreciate true art! Get out of my way, yeah!" Deidara huffed. "And, I think you'll be busy with something else," he added, stepping aside.

"For Pain-dono!" Juugo roared crazily, smashing through two trees and charging for the girls.

To the side, inside the thicker part of the forest, Shino and Sasuke stood face-to-face with Itachi.

This would be a battle to remember.

– The Author –

Well, I figure that's a good stopping point.

You know, when I originally finished last chapter, I had very different plans for this one. First, the battle with Akatsuki would be much shorter, with a smaller team, and end up with Naruto bringing Deidara down and then pretty much eviscerating Juugo as the others desperately tried to survive Itachi and Kisame's onslaught. And then, when they returned to Konoha, Naruto would have been accosted by Kakashi and the other jonin, under charges of poisoning the Hokage. Upon which, Naruto would activate the Armor of Yomi as seen above, slaughter a good four dozen Red Shirt Chunin and Mauve Shirt Jonin, and then leave to merrily start his future plans with Yūgure.

However, then I read a Naruto fanfiction (Really good, the title's Naruto: Wind Monk Banishment, it's still a bit young like this story, but looks like it's turning out well!) that mentioned in-story that Naruto's pretty much the embodiment of Konoha's history.

After that, I found that I had a taste to take the story in a different direction. Sure, an ultimately minor difference considering my overall plans for the story, but a difference none-the-less. Rather than being split off from Konoha, Naruto would get a special dispensation from the Hokage that allowed him to travel freely for long periods of time, completing both his own objectives and ones that Konoha needed done.

And it just so happened that I had the perfect catalyst to get it done, with the perfect motivation to do so, in Root's leader.

As for the original techniques, Armor of Yomi and (Grand) Kitsunebi (Barrage), I admit I was inspired by another series in their physical design. If the song didn't make it clear (or if you're unfamiliar with the source series) the Armor of Yomi's physical design was chiefly inspired by Oda Nobunaga from Sengoku Basara, and Kitsunebi is inspired by both the 'blue balls of fire' that classical kitsune had and the shotgun Oda wields. The armor, the leitmotif, the sweeping animated cape, all tied into my vision of how Naruto would develop. And especially Nobunaga's motto, 'Tenka Fubu', or 'The world under military rule', according to some translations, 'Unite the Nation under militarism' according to others, which not only match Naruto's current goals, but also Danzō's. It was just too perfect...

Anyway, back to Armor of Yomi, this obviously goes way back to Scorpion's Disciple, when Sasori was musing about how Kimimaro's heart would help Naruto, and the original concept was in fact part of Nobody102's original plans for Naruto. The Armor of Yomi has several effects, the most apparent being near-total protection of Naruto, as the bone armor is enhanced with Kurama's chakra to be self-repairing and even stronger than normal Kaguya bones. It also enhances Naruto's strength-improving technique due to the bones providing a better base for absorbing the recoil from Naruto's strength and allowing him to use more chakra for the direct portion.

Kitsunebi was, as stated, born from both classical kitsune legend and the workings of a firearm. It's only usable in Naruto's initial chakra cloak state (red eyes and aura, but no tails, ears or amorphous claws) and above, since it requires Kurama's help to perform. It's basically a combination of nature and shape transformation, Naruto forming a cylinder of wind chakra while Kurama changes his chakra into fire-nature and merges it, eventually producing an explosion that fires out a cone of slicing wind blades that burn with blue fire due to the heat of mixing wind and fire chakra.

Alright, I suppose that's enough exposition. And, since I've been informed that I can't write in other author's names into the story (not sure why, I've been doing it for four years now, but alright...) I guess I'll have to go without Review Replies.

Oh, and for those of you who are fans of my other stories, especially Gundam Seed: Killer's Realm, I've got a poll set up to pick which of three Gundam story concepts I've been agonizing over to write. Check it out, help out please.

Knightmare Gundam of Ni