Chapter 5-The Coming Storm Gathers
Naruto scowled. Not just scowled. He looked increasingly upset. Why? Because of the end result of the Preliminary match between Hyuuga Neji and Hyuuga Hinata had not been a pleasant in the slightest. Not even close. The match itself was unexpected by all parties watching, as the drawing of names on the board were suppose to be completely random, but Naruto long suspected when the names came up that such a coincidence was not the case, and that someone under orders from the Sandaime Hokage had made that happen. He couldn't prove it of course, such an investigation would take time, and time was something he didn't have right now.
"Hyuuga Hinata is unable to continue fighting. The winner of this match is Hyuuga Neji," stated Naruto with his sword drawn, the tip of it pointed at Neji's face, and the Hyuuga Branch family member was restrained further by the other Leaf Jounin senseis.
"You dare defend this weak coward? She deserves to die!" protested Neji before he was blasted by killing intent from Naruto and the Hyuuga saw the boy's eyes become red with slits.
"Neji! You promised me that the affairs of your clan would not have influence or any part in these exams," said Gai while ignoring the sweat running down his face since he was behind Neji and felt the killing intent aimed at his student.
"Promises to a commoner aren't worth keeping. Even if you are my Jounin sensei," spat Neji while Gai frowned.
"I'm disappointed in you Neji. If it were up to me, you wouldn't even participate a Month from now in the Chuunin Exam Finals," said Gai with Neji smirking.
"Well then, I guess I should be thanking Fate that the decision is not up to you," replied Neji before the killing intent from Naruto increased.
"No you shouldn't. You shouldn't because the decision is up to me. Due to Hyuuga Neji's lack of respect for his opponent, who is also his own cousin, he is hereby disqualified, and the match is now officially ruled a 'no contest'. I enforce this ruling as the Harbinger of the Fire Daimyo and not even the Hokage himself can overrule this decision," replied Naruto while giving the Third a look that said "don't even try it" while the Sandaime was scowling at him.
"You can't do this! Do you know how much trouble the Hyuuga Clan will make for you? This an abuse of power!" replied Neji in anger while Naruto kept his cold eyes on him.
"Unlikely. When people hear how you tried to kill your cousin when she was on her last leg after the brutal beating given...your clan won't have a leg to stand on much less any ground to put that leg on," countered Naruto before he quickly sheathed his sword and caught Hinata before she fell down.
"Did I...I do well...Naruto-kun?" asked Hinata with Naruto smiling down gently at her.
"You fought with honor and worked hard to get this far Hinata-chan. You could have taken the easy way out by forfeiting or using the Cage Bird Seal on Neji. But you didn't. You stood your ground and fought with all of your being. It doesn't matter if you lost to Neji. You pushed yourself and now know what to do to get stronger. Through this one defeat, I have no doubt you will achieve many future victories. Now rest," replied Naruto before seeing Hinata smile weakly at him and closed her eyes.
"She will forever be destined to lose. No amount of training will provide future victories like you so pathetically put," remarked Neji while Naruto handed Hinata to some Medics and waited until they were gone before turning to face the Hyuuga Branch member.
Before Naruto vanished from everyone's sight for a second and was in front of Neji with his hand wrapped around the Hyuuga's throat. Neji was surprised he couldn't see such high level of speed, more so when the level of strength behind the iron grip on his throat felt like he was being gripped by the jaws of death, and the Namikaze's eyes were filled with a rage that brought fear to the Hyuuga's heart.
"Naruto! Release him now!" commanded the Hokage, but found the boy unmoving, the various Jounin around the two trying to break the grip Naruto had on Neji's throat, and failing in that aspect.
"How does it feel Neji? How does it feel to have your life held in someone's unmerciful grip? How does it feel to stare into the eyes of death knowing that he will take you no matter how badly you plead or beg for mercy?" asked Naruto coldly with Neji's face first going red, followed by purple, and then blue before he finally let go of the dying Hyuuga Branch member.
The boy fell to the ground grasping for breath, his eyes wide with fear, and looked up at the now cold red eyes of the Namikaze. Neji knew that he had escaped death only on a whim because of Naruto had other things to do and killing the Hyuuga Prodigy was not that high up on his "to do" list at the moment.
"You have been spared death by my hands twice now Hyuuga Neji. There will be no third time. The next time you cross me on a level like this again...I will end you," remarked Naruto coldly before looking at Gai and made a small head motion to get the Hyuuga out of his sight.
'Scary guy. He's practically at Gaara's level of instilling fear if not higher,' thought a now sweating Kankuro, as he had heard the rumors about Naruto, and his position within the Fire Daimyo's Court.
'Such an authority figure out ranks the Sandaime Hokage? Interesting. Perhaps we can work this to our advantage with Temari. I'll have to run it by the Kazekage first,' thought Baki, as he saw Temari watching the boy with interest, and wondered if she would even go for it.
"If there are no further protests on how I do things we can continue," said Naruto, as two new names quickly appeared on the board, and the Chuunin Exam Preliminaries rolled on once more.
(Konoha T&I Department-Days Later)
"This information we got out of Kabuto is most disturbing," said Ibiki, as he was in his office with Anko standing beside him, and both were staring at Naruto looking over all of the information the two had gotten out of the spy for Orochimaru.
After he was detained by Itachi and Shizune, the two hauled the man into the T&I Dept. for information extraction from the two best in the field, and brought in Inoichi to make sure the info was indeed truthful. Naruto had spoken to Ibiki and Anko after the Prelims. were over in private. He told them to triple check everything that Kabuto did and make sure that nothing was left to chance that the spy would lie to them no matter how skilled the top two interrogators were at their job. If Kabuto could take the exam seven times and not get caught on their radar, then there was a chance the spy had means of resisting even their skills until a possible rescue attempt was made by outside forces, and not to take chances of him knowing counter torture techniques.
"Indeed. Orochimaru is in Rice Country and running Sound village. Though that place is merely one of many bases throughout Elemental Countries he runs according to the info here. Kabuto isn't just a spy, but a Medic Nin too, and has been key to Orochimaru's own survival on many occasions. Assisting in his many experiments, killing innocent people, and the failed experiments that followed trying to bring about their victim's potential," replied Naruto, as he read over the info several times, and handed it back to Ibiki.
"I still can't believe our village's security is this lax. To do this seven times and not get caught makes us look incompetent," remarked Anko with Naruto nodding.
"That's what happens when arrogance poisons a village Anko-san. You become stagnant. You do not change while others around you do change and wait until an opportunity to strike makes itself known through your predictable habits. Add to the fact that there are forces inside Konoha in key places making it happen only makes this situation worse," added Naruto with Ibiki and Anko frowning since they knew that was true.
"You honestly suspect the Sandaime is involved in this? It makes no sense," questioned Ibiki, as he had known the Third since being a Shinobi, and until now had no felt any reason to doubt the Hokage.
"And yet Kabuto's confessions from his years of spying and the verification made from his memories says otherwise," countered Naruto with Ibiki sighing and it was clear the man believed in the village though this news was shaking the faith he had in the Will of Fire.
"The Hokage wants a report on the matter. He's been demanding it since we started," said Anko knowing that the only reason the Third had not interfered personally at any point during the interrogation process was because Naruto had forbidden it with the support of the Fire Daimyo.
"Of course the Hokage does. He wants to know what you've learned from Kabuto. If the spy has implicated him in his connection to this inevitable invasion by Orochimaru with Suna allying with the Sannin," answered Naruto before smirking at them.
"You have a plan?" asked Anko with Naruto's smirk increasing.
"Yes. You will draw up two different reports One report goes to the Fire Daimyo and the Clan Heads with the exception of the Uchiha Clan since they can't be trusted. The second report, which will be false, goes to the Sandaime Hokage, and the Uchiha Clan Head due to him running the Police Force throughout Konoha. As far as the latter of the two sides is concerned, you didn't get anything from Kabuto about the Sandaime Hokage, and his connection to Orochimaru. You will only learn of the impending invasion, what is going to happen, and that the means of countering it are on a need to know basis of the highest level. When the time comes, sides will be chosen, and the battle lines will be drawn with the Shinobi of this village having to make a choice on who to side with. The Sandaime, Danzo, the Shinobi Council, and the Civilian Council are all aiding Orochimaru in his schemes while keeping his two remaining students in the dark about it to have plausible deniability. That way, when the end result happens, which I have an idea of what it is, one of his two students can take the mantle of Hokage without smearing their reputation when their credentials are examined, and no one would question whether one of them was right for the job," replied Naruto with Ibiki and Anko going wide eyed at this since they pieced it together from their own skilled minds at deducing things.
"The Sandaime Hokage plans to make people in Konoha be reminded of the Will of Fire by orchestrating an invasion. He plans to be a martyr and is using Orochimaru to do it with Suna being weakened at the same time. If Konoha expels an allied invasion aimed at destroying the village and dies fighting in the process...it would mean his way of doing things could go on unopposed long after a successor was named," concluded Ibiki with Naruto nodding.
"No one would be able to oppose the Sandaime Hokage's way of doing things, even if the next Hokage didn't like it, as Danzo, and the Councils would constantly remind people of what the old fool died believing. That his way was right and his victory over Orochimaru and Suna were proof of it. The people would rally behind such things and would remove the Hokage that didn't follow it under the belief that the Sandaime's successor was not the passionate protector the old man was when fighting the enemy invasion," added Naruto with the boy seeing both Konoha Shinobi not liking this one bit.
"Such a scandal could bring Konoha to an all time low. It would make people question whether or not staying in the village is worth it. The Shinobi may question if this place is worth fighting for," said Anko with Naruto nodding.
"After the way the two of us have been treated in the past? How the very people behind it were those we once trusted without question? Do you honestly believe that this village is worth fighting for?" asked Naruto with Anko looking at Ibiki, who nodded that he would keep quiet about her answer, and saw the woman becoming deadly serious.
"The village itself as a whole? No. But there are a rare few people in it worth fighting and dying for that I know I can trust," answered Anko with Naruto nodding and smiling.
"Good answer. Its actually the correct answer," replied Naruto before getting out of his chair.
"What do we do with Kabuto? Or that Karin girl we learned was another spy under the disguise of being a Grass Nin?" questioned Ibiki with Naruto thinking for a moment.
"Keep Kabuto locked away in the deepest darkest cell you have here. No one is allowed to see him. Not even the Hokage. If he asks, just tell him that I forbid it, and my word is an extension of the Fire Daimyo. As for Karin? She is an Uzumaki. Like myself. Send her to the Namikaze Estates. I wish to speak with her about siding with family over the snake she serves," answered Naruto before leaving to check up on things with Jiraiya and see if the perverted fool was on the path to redemption.
"I'm sorry Hinata. I have failed you," said Hiashi, as he stood before his daughter lying in the hospital, looking at him with shocked eyes, and wondered if he had been that cruel to his daughter in the past to cause her to look at him with such disbelief.
"Father?" questioned Hinata with Hiashi sitting in a chair with his head leaning down in pure shame aimed at himself while Shizune was beside Hinata and checking her injuries over to ensure they were healing nicely.
"I have tried to be a loving Father to you my daughter. I have tried and failed to be the Father I know you have always wanted me to be in life. That I have always wanted to be in life. I have tried to help you without the Clan Elders interfering, but I fear their reach is too long, and deep into the clan to prevent any chance of that happening. This is possibly the only time where I can confess this to you without the Elders stopping me from ever speaking my mind. They have felt that showing mercy to family for whatever reason there may be one, is a sign of weakness, and it is their belief that a noble clan like ours cannot have any weakness. That those that are weak within the Hyuuga Clan are that of the Branch family and are made to serve them without question. I have never embraced this like they have, mostly because of my brother, your Uncle Hizashi was a member of the Branch family, and your Mother despising the Cage Bird Seal long before they both died the way they did. Please Hinata. Please forgive me for not being stronger. Forgive this foolish old man you call a Father for being so weak that he cannot defend his family from the clan itself," replied Hiashi with tears running down his face and holding his daughter's hand.
"I forgive you Father. It wasn't your fault. I have seen the sadness in your eyes despite many attempts to hide it from everyone," answered Hinata with Hiashi crying harder.
"Just like your Mother. You see things that others do not. What most of our clan does not despite out eyes being boasted at the best in perceiving things where other Dojutsus do not," remarked Hiashi, as he smiled at Hinata, and she smiled back.
"Looks like you have another visitor," remarked Shizune, as she saw the two look to see Naruto standing by the door with flowers in his hand, and a smile on his face.
"Naruto-kun!" exclaimed Hinata happily while blushing at the sight of her crush walking into the room with the flowers.
"Hi Hinata-chan. Resting well and getting stronger I see," replied Naruto with Hinata blushing further while Hiashi decided to quietly observe the two along with Shizune.
"I wouldn't say I'm getting stronger," countered Hinata shyly.
"Yes you are and on a personal family matter front too. There are many different ways to get stronger Hinata-chan. This being one of them," Naruto explained using the training he got from the Shinobi Monks at the Fire Temple.
"He's right Hinata. Dealing with family matters like this helps heal mental wounds and scar no Medical Jutsu can heal. Something MY former sensei forgot to learn much less teach me a long time ago," added Shizune with a hint of sadness in her tone.
"Some things can't be taught by someone Kaa-san. You have to learn certain things on your own. You have long since surpassed Tsunade-san on that front," stated Naruto with Shizune smiling at him.
"Thank you Naruto," replied Shizune while finishing up with Hinata and leaving the three to discuss some things.
"How are things regarding Neji's behavior?" asked Naruto with the two Hyuuga looking depressed for a moment while he put the flowers on Hinata's bed.
"My Nephew is acting as a Nara would say, troublesome in regards to being removed from the Chuunin Exams, and the Elders went to the Fire Daimyo demanding your own decision regarding his expulsion from the Finals be overturned. When the Fire Daimyo refused, stating that Neji's actions against his cousin were horrifying, and inexcusable to say the least...the Elders were irate. They threatened to make this a political nightmare for him and he countered saying his own actions could make things difficult for the clan as a whole," answered Hiashi with Hinata looking nervous since the Elders could take this out on her or her Father.
They usually did in some manner or another.
"I take it they were also displeased with Hinata's performance?" questioned Naruto with Hiashi nodding.
"Unless something is done, the Hyuuga Elders will push for her being marked with the Cage Bird Seal, and moved to the Branch house of our family," answered Hiashi with Hinata flinching in fear.
"There might be a way to do that, but...it would be a dangerous route to take considering it would involve me, and the Uzumaki Clan," replied Naruto with Hiashi looking at him for a moment with suspicion and Hinata herself was curious too.
"You're talking about...a marriage. An arranged marriage approved by both clans between yourself and Hinata," deduced Hiashi with Hinata blushing and now pressing her fingers together.
"Officially, yes. Unofficially, it would be a means to keep Hinata from being branded with the Cage Bird Seal. We can set it up that the arrangement can end at any time if either Hinata or myself wished it to with both of us reaching a mutual agreement that it should," replied Naruto with Hiashi nodding and Hinata looked a little sad at first before she realized they both had to agree if they wanted to the arranged marriage contract to become void.
"Agreed. If you prepare the proper papers, I can sign them, and make it official before the Hyuuga Elders can make their move against Hinata. Once I sign them, you must take the scroll to the Fire Daimyo, and have him put his seal on it to prevent anyone from trying to nullify the arrangement. Once the Fire Daimyo makes it official, it is unbreakable, and not even the Hyuuga Elders much less the rest of the clan can oppose it no matter how hard they may try," stated Hiashi with Naruto nodding.
"There is also the issue of me falling under the CRA to take to restart both clans. Will that be a problem for either of you?" added Naruto with Hiashi nodding in understanding while Hinata was still blushing.
"I don't believe it will. Hinata?" replied Hiashi with Hinata trying to keep her composure.
"I don't mind, as long as they don't marry Naruto-kun for his status. It should be for the right reasons," answered Hinata with Naruto smiling at her.
"A rare flower if there ever was one," remarked Naruto with Hinata's face getting redder by the second before she fainted.
"Just like her Mother," added Hiashi with a sigh.
"I'll leave you two alone. I have to take care of some things elsewhere in the village," said Naruto before bowing and then leaving.
(Namikaze Estates-Hours Later)
"I can't believe another Uzumaki exists. Well...half an Uzumaki anyway," said Karin, as she had been held in a cell soon after being taken away by the ANBU after the incident in the Forest of Death with her stupid team dying via pissed off bear, and was greeted to the sight of one Morino Ibiki.
Though rather then be grilled for information about Orochimaru, she had been told about what happened to Kabuto, how they knew everything, and how the only reason she was not in a cell with the spy was due to one of her kinsmen being in such a high position. When she heard that, Karin was shocked to hear an Uzumaki aside from herself was very much alive, well, and in high standing in terms of influence. When Karin asked for the name of her mysterious benefactor by blood, she was floored once more that it was one Namikaze Uzumaki Naruto, and that he wanted to meet her at his home in the village.
"You and me both Karin. It was quite a shock to hear that there was an actual Uzumaki among Orochimaru's ranks. I'm actually surprised an Uzumaki would join his ranks in the first place," replied Naruto with Karin looking a bit sheepish.
"Well...it wasn't like I had much of a choice. To be honest, I never liked Orochimaru, and only stayed because I didn't have anywhere else to go," answered Karin with Naruto now frowning.
"What about your parents?" asked Naruto with Karin looking away.
"They died when I was very young. When I was a few years old. I don't know how it all happened, only that Orochimaru took me in, and he trained me to be his spy along side Kabuto. Though I did learn he took my parents journal before the fire they were in had consumed everything. I was able to get a glimpse of it and learned my parents were in fact Uzumaki and they tried to get in contact with Konoha for some time while they were living in Grass Country," explained Karin with Naruto frowning further.
"And they were unsuccessful?" questioned Naruto with Karin nodding.
"They sent a message straight to the Sandaime Hokage himself. Explaining the situation they were in and wanted to come to Konoha. When they didn't hear back, they feared that something was wrong like their message got intercepted, or the Hokage had yet to read the letter they sent despite the Uzumaki Seal on the scroll. A man as old as the Sandaime Hokage should easily recognize the clan symbol and act quickly," answered Karin, which made Naruto frown even harder, and wondered what the boy was thinking.
"That bastard. That evil old bastard screwed my clan over once again," whispered Naruto with Karin frowning.
"You mean the Third Hokage? Are you saying that...that the Sandaime Hokage...that he sent ANBU to my family's home and killed them?" questioned Karin with Naruto slowly nodding.
"Who else knew you and your parents were of Uzumaki blood. The old man sends a team to kill your parents, Orochimaru picks you up soon after, and uses you to be part of their shared Master Plan for the Leaf. The Sandaime knew if your parents made it to Konoha, they would learn of my existence, and would have adopted me into the family on grounds of the Uzumaki blood running in my veins made me part of the Uzumaki Clan. A clan he has ensured was wiped from the pages of history and the memories of the people within this village all to control me. You were kept alive in the event the fox ever got out and a new Uzumaki was needed to seal him into you with Jiraiya no doubt being the only Seal Master capable of doing it," replied Naruto with Karin looking at him in shock.
"I was going to be a...backup Jinchuriki for them?" questioned Karin with a look of pure horror on her face knowing the stories of how Jinchuriki were hated by the villages they lived in even though the villages were responsible for making Jinchuriki in the first place.
"It makes sense. Only an Uzumaki can contain Kyuubi. Whether you are a full, half, or a quarter Uzumaki it doesn't matter. You are a prime candidate to hold a Biju," answered Naruto with Karin looking like she had just been stabbed in the chest by a close friend.
"I...I almost became a sacrificial pawn and didn't even know it," whispered Karin, as she had collapsed into her seat on the couch, and Naruto sighed.
"I've been there Karin. Believe me when I say I know the feeling. But that won't happen now with me around. I've already spoken to the Fire Daimyo and he's agreed to grant you amnesty if you help me during this time," stated Naruto with Karin nodding.
"I'll do it. I'm going to enjoy sticking it to Orochimaru and the Sandaime Hokage. They think they can manipulate me, you, and the Uzumaki Clan? Well I say fuck them and their plans! I say we grab them by the balls and twist hard until their nuts fall off before shoving them down their throat!" exclaimed Karin with full blown anger on her face and in true Uzumaki fashion too.
"I like your passion though we must do this with precision. Even if we were to face them now, it would not be as impacting as it should be, and still leave room for our enemies to escape the level of punishment we would like to inflict. First, we need to keep you here away from the Sandaime Hokage, his followers, and Shinobi loyal to them. I've already had the two Sound Shinobi that lost during the Chuunin Exam Prelims detained and the other made it sadly to the Finals so he can't be touched by us. So far, Orochimaru does not suspect we know just how much of his plans we know, nor does the Hokage suspect how much we know of his own involvement, and I'd like to keep it that way," explained Naruto with Karin nodding.
"You will get no argument from me. Though I would like to get into the fight when the time comes to do the fighting. I may be more of a Medic Nin, but I can still hurt people, and I know exactly where to hurt when the time comes. Believe it or not, Orochimaru actually did like Senju Tsunade's idea of a Medic Nin on an assigned Shinobi team, and made sure I was one since my teammates were weak. Not that it mattered since the damn bear killed those two before we even knew the animal was upon us," replied Karin while Naruto just nodded in agreement.
"I'll see to it we expand your education with help from my adopted mother Shizune. She was Tsunade's apprentice at one point. Whatever skill you need to Master, Kaa-san can help with, and then some so you'd be in good hands," stated Naruto knowing the girl being the full blooded Uzumaki that she was, would no doubt get anxious while staying cooped up all day with nothing to do, and would need a healthy outlet for all her energy.
"Really? Thanks!" exclaimed Karin happily since she wanted something to do and not let her skills get rusty.
"No problem," replied Naruto, as he left for his Father's old office, and moved to take care of the business with the Hyuuga Clan to protect the girl that didn't deserve what she got from her family.
(Jiraiya's Home/Hut-One Week Later)
"I found out some things for you gaki. Things that I never wanted to believe were even remotely true," replied Jiraiya sadly with Naruto nodding since he had seen some of those things himself.
"I thought as much. Still think your sensei is the great man you once looked up to in the past?" said Naruto calmly while looking over the information and cross referencing it with what he knew from memory.
"Had you asked me that two weeks ago, I would have said yes without hesitation, and told you to get lost. But now...now I can't even say that with conviction in my heart," answered Jiraiya, as he saw the boy, who was his student's only son scowling at him, and the image of Minato seemed to project itself behind Naruto with that same scowl.
"I don't expect you to say it at all! Your sensei is scheming with Orochimaru. He along with Danzo, the Shinobi Council, and the Civilian Council are going to benefit from what is to come regardless if the Third lives through it or not. If anything, your sensei is going to die a supposed martyr to his cause that is meant to wipe his past sins we've uncovered away, and any future Hokage that succeeds him will have to follow his example or lose the support of the village majority. Your own student, who is my Father would never have done that, and we both know my Father would have killed the Sandaime for what he's been doing over the years since coming out of retirement," replied Naruto seeing Jiraiya looking down in shame knowing the boy was right.
"I know. I know! But what do you expect me to do? Even if I go against sensei, the man trained me since I was a Genin. I grew stronger because of him and showed my sensei that even a dead last could shine brighter then any Prodigy. I thought with Orochimaru out of the village due to his crimes and doing whatever the old man asked of me...I would finally get his respect in outshining my genius for a teammate who has constantly casted a large shadow over me," said Jiraiya in a defeated tone.
"If he truly respected you, the old fool wouldn't have secretly supported Orochimaru, and let things get this far out of hand. We both know the man doesn't respect you and never will respect you. He is using you Jiraiya. To him, you are nothing more then a tool, and Orochimaru is the son he always wanted in life. He has been playing on your desire for his affection and respect as one of his greatest of students. But I know that the Sandaime Hokage will not because it would mean he backed the wrong horse, and the old fool's pathetic pride will never let him do that even at this late stage of his life," stated Naruto with Jiraiya flinching under his truth filled words.
"What do you want from me?" asked Jiraiya in a defeated tone knowing the boy was right and he had been the biggest fool that ever lived.
"We know what Orochimaru is planning, we know who is going to be where when the invasion starts, and who among the enemy are the biggest threats of all. Orochimaru gave Suna temporary snake summoning scrolls to use in the attack outside of Konoha while Suna has Sabaku no Gaara with the one-tailed Biju sealed inside of him being unleashed during the Chuunin Exam Finals. Orochimaru is going for a pincer movement in which he attacks Konoha both from within as well as without while everyone in the village gets slaughtered. Suna will no doubt be the main bulk of the combined army since we both know Orochimaru couldn't get many top quality Shinobi among the ranks of his Sound forces in such a short time. Meaning you my former Godfather, are going to attack the summoning team outside of Konoha, and make sure none of the snake summons breach the village's walls," ordered Naruto with Jiraiya nodding knowing the weakness of a pincer movement is one of the sides not attacking when it should.
Both sides of such a move needed to work together at the same time in order to create an air tight trap filled with lots and lots of dead or captured people.
"Consider it done. What about Tsunade?" said Jiraiya with Naruto frowning.
"Keep her out of the loop for now. She won't believe me no matter how much evidence I bring against the old monkey. I could Show her a video of the Sandaime doing business with Orochimaru and Tsunade would still hate my guts while calling me a liar. If you do it, she'll ask where this evidence came from, and wouldn't believe you if knowing it came from me. Chances are, Tsunade will tell the Sandaime, and the old monkey will change some if not most of the things in their shared plan," answered Naruto with Jiraiya not liking the idea of keeping this from Tsunade.
"She is the Granddaughter of the Shodaime Hokage. I would think that she would defend the village from Orochimaru when the attack happens," countered Jiraiya with Naruto leaning in close to the Sannin.
"Do you really believe that? Or do you believe that she will use the chaos from all of the fighting to kill her former student after Shizune left to help me?" questioned Naruto with Jiraiya sighing again knowing Tsunade better then most.
"You're right. She would do that. Hell, I imagine Tsunade would move to kill you if she saw an opening, and claim it was an enemy combatant. But she's not going to sit on her hands and knees while the Chuunin Exam Finals take place. Chances are, Tsunade will be there to heal the competitors there of their injuries, and that is in the Medical Center in a section below the stadium spectator area on the west side," explained Jiraiya with Naruto nodding.
"I am the Head Proctor again for the Finals. The Fire Daimyo wants to ensure there are no unfair decisions regarding Konoha Shinobi or any Shinobi for that matter currently assigned to compete. He feels Konoha's current low standing reflects upon him as well and has try raising his own by showing he isn't favoring the village's past actions. He hopes to raise Konoha to some degree though it will have to be earned on the end of its Shinobi. Meaning everyone is in for the long haul," replied Naruto with Jiraiya nodding.
"I understand," stated Jiraiya with Naruto nodding.
"Good. Perhaps there is hope for you yet. And remember Jiraiya, do NOT tell Tsunade a single damn thing!" reminded Naruto with Jiraiya nodding once again.
"Not a word," replied Jiraiya before Naruto left his home.
(Suna Team's Hotel Room)
"A seduction mission?" questioned Temari while looking at her sensei Baki like he had just told her that she was the Jinchuriki of the group and not Gaara.
"Yes. Our information about Namikaze Uzumaki Naruto has indeed been proven accurate from our own contacts in the Fire Daimyo's Court. The boy has the eyes and ears of the Feudal Lord of this country. He trusts the boy and has been called the Harbinger of the Fire Daimyo himself when it comes to enforcing his will," answered Baki, as he carefully explained to them who Naruto was, and his title as the infamous Ying Yang Fox.
"So Temari has to somehow seduce him and then what? Kill him?" asked Kankuro with Baki looking at him like he was an idiot.
"No! Of course not! Do you honestly think Temari will survive the aftermath of such a scandal? The Fire Daimyo would demand her head if she killed him. To kill the very eyes and ears of the Fire Daimyo, a young boy who has probably the most favor of anyone in Fire Country is signing their own death sentence. Temari would be outcast from Suna and Wind Country while having a massive bounty on her head. You would be hunted down by all sides, including our own village, especially our own village to remove the shame we would have endured from it, and have to hand her over to the Fire Daimyo for the trial with the execution that followed," replied Baki with Kankuro flinching at that.
"So what do I do exactly besides flirt, kiss, and get into this guy's pants?" asked Temari while not liking this at all.
"The boy is already famous for his recent actions in Wave Country for taking down a business tyrant named Gato. Whoever he marries will have considerable influence on Namikaze Uzumaki Naruto and by that extension the Fire Daimyo. You Temari are going to seduce the boy, gain his trust, his influence, and eventually marry him," explained Baki with Temari's eyes widening and Kankuro's jaw dropping.
"You want to use me in some kind of mission where I have to marry the guy? What you want me to have his kids too?" demanded Temari angrily.
"If it helps us achieve what we need to influence the Fire Daimyo through him then yes. As I said, you will seduce Naruto, get close to him, even marry, and convince the boy that Suna is a village the Fire Daimyo should take interest in over Konoha. That we have skilled Shinobi and are a wasted resource that would be a waste to ignore," replied Baki with Temari frowning.
"They say this Namikaze is like me. Is this true?" asked Gaara while Baki nodded.
"Yes to an extent. He has a Biju sealed inside of him. A stronger seal too," answered Baki with Gaara frowning further.
"Wait! We are nearing the day of the invasion with each passing day. Aren't we rushing things a bit with Temari getting all seductress here?" questioned Kankuro with Temari for once agreeing with her questionably gay (due to him wearing makeup) brother.
"We may not get another chance at this before the Chuunin Exam Finals and the invasion comes. If we can influence the Harbinger of the Fire Daimyo and show our might during the invasion, we can strike on two fronts, and show Suna is indeed the stronger village," answered Baki with Temari not liking this one bit.
"When do I start?" asked Temari with Baki looking out the window.
"Right away. Possibly in the next day or two," answered Baki with Temari nodding and leaving for her room to mentally prepare for this.
"I have a question. What if the Ying Yang Fox fights one of us and screws up the entire invasion? He does have a Biju of his own inside of him after all and the Kyuubi is much stronger then Shukaku," said Kankuro since it was no longer a secret that Naruto was the Jinchuriki of Kyuubi.
"Which is why Temari is running interference with this mission. If we can get him to like Temari, we can make him hesitate in fighting us, and seeing things our way when the time comes," replied Baki with Kankuro sighing.
"I still dislike us working with Orochimaru. There is something about the guy that makes my skin crawl," remarked Kankuro with Gaara silently agreeing with him though made sure no one knew it.
"Agreed, but the Kazekage has stated we are to work with him, and the word of our Kage is absolute in this manner," replied Baki with the two boys in front of him nodding.
Though one of them would have preferred to kill the Kazekage rather then side with him.
(Namikaze Estates-Sometime Later)
Naruto was practicing in his family dojo for several hours now with his bo staff, moving it around swiftly, decisively, and with deadly precision he had been taught by the Fire Temple Shinobi Monks. As he trained, Naruto thought about Konoha as a whole, the level of corruption that had poisoned it, and just how badly the poison had spread all the way down to the roots of the tree itself. The tree would soon lose all life to it and with enough strength from outside forces or even internal such as the ground around the tree being unstable...it would fall over.
The Kyuubi Jinchuriki always fancied himself to be a gardener on the side when he wasn't training and in his eyes he saw the village like one big garden with a tree in the center of it. However, without management, and care from the gardener then the tree can die from internal damage that spreads throughout the massive object of nature. Without the tree being strong, the garden would wither away, and die from the same lack of care as the tree itself.
Naruto had been commissioned by the Fire Daimyo to watch over this garden that was Konoha and to ensure the poison in this tree along with the plants surrounding it were protected from it.
And Naruto intended to do just that.
"Naruto-sama, you have a visitor," called out Karin, as she had taken the role of being his maid to hide her presence here, and so far no one that visited (the rare few that did visit and rarer few that even knew the truth about it) said a word.
"I'll be there in a moment," replied Naruto, as he dried himself off, and came to see who was visiting him today.
And saw it was none other then the Sandaime Hokage.
"Hello Naruto," said the Sandaime gently while two ANBU were behind him in flanking position.
"What are you doing here old man? You're not welcome in my house," replied Naruto with the ANBU going stiff as a board and their hands twitching in wanting to reach for their weapons to use on him for his supposed disrespect.
They only stopped because the Hokage had not given the order.
"I just came to checkup on you. The Chuunin Exams can be a pretty hectic event for one so young. Especially when a Shinobi is the Head Proctor for all three different parts of the Exams," offered Hiruzen calmly with Naruto scowling.
"I've been through worse. You of all people know that," replied Naruto with Hiruzen frowning slightly.
"Naruto, I assure you the horrible events of your life leading up to the Fire Daimyo taking you in have been a considerable...misunderstanding on my part," countered the Sandaime with Naruto's eyes narrowing.
"Misunderstanding? I suffered under your rule, to be enslaved, controlled, and ultimately manipulated to being your weapon all because of a...misunderstanding?" accused Naruto with the Sandaime smiling nervously.
"Of course! You have to understand Naruto that the people of this village needed to have some kind of outlet for their pain and suffering. I allowed them that outlet because it was a risk to their mental health, the lives of their families, and I couldn't allow them to turn on each other," replied Hiruzen with Naruto not liking his answer one bit.
"And what about MY life? You couldn't lie to people? You couldn't lie to people saying the fox was destroyed? You couldn't lie to the people and let their hate wash away from knowing the Biju they hated wasn't around anymore?" accused Naruto with Hiruzen frowning again.
"At the time, the truth seemed more appropriate, and I...," explained the Sandaime, but was silence by an enormous amount of killer intent from Naruto with the two ANBU in the room ready to fall to their knees.
"Don't you tell me about appropriate! You tried to turn me into your dumb naive pet to heel and fight for a village that hated my guts the moment they heard the truth about the fox being sealed in my stomach. You didn't care if it ruined my life. You didn't care about the village's overall health. All you cared about was controlling the power I had inside of me and to manipulate if not kill whoever would prevent that from happening!" exclaimed Naruto with the Sandaime scowling fully and tried to fight back against the killer intent.
"Konoha has to be the strongest Naruto. Fire Country has many enemies. If we don't do what is necessary, then how can we stay the strongest, and protect what we love?! I have always done what was necessary to protect Konoha and will do so by any and all means necessary," countered the Sandaime angrily with Naruto now snarling at him.
"And I will do what I must to do what is right to see that you fail. Konoha has a cancer in its governing body. You! I will ensure that by the time the Chuunin Exams are over, the name Sarutobi Hiruzen is one that is not loved, but hated, and scorned like I was growing up," Naruto shot back with Hiruzen narrowing his eyes and it was clear the Hokage was itching to lash out at him but couldn't for fear of the Fire Daimyo investigating at such a time when the Feudal Lord could just order the village's liquidation regardless if there wasn't any proof of his own hands removing the boy from play.
"And how do you intend to do that boy?" asked the Sandaime with Naruto smirking now.
"As you said earlier old monkey...by any and all means necessary," replied Naruto while using the man's own words against him.
"We will see," said Hiruzen before leaving with the ANBU right behind him.
"Yes. We will see old man. Count on it," said Naruto with his eyes moving to Karin, who was secretly watching behind a hidden room where one could spy on people without the fear of anyone knowing.
"I say we kill that son of a bitch right now. Why wait until the Chuunin Exams when the invasion is going to happen?" questioned Karin with Naruto smirking at her.
"Because I want to gather all the people connected to Konoha's corruption to be gathered in one single spot. A place where violence and death with soon become temporarily legal through the chaos that will be this planned invasion. When killing a nest of serpents, all the snakes must be gathered together before springing the trap, and making sure none of the serpents escape when you set the nest on fire," answered Naruto with Karin's eyes going wide before smiling.
"I see. Clever! Does the Fire Daimyo know about Orochimaru's invasion?" asked Karin with Naruto nodding.
"Yes. He's sent a message back to the Capital requesting additional reinforcements, but that they arrive discreetly few days before, and during the Chuunin Exams. When the time comes for the invasion to start, the Fire Daimyo will be ready on his end, and we will crush the invasion along with all guilty parties within Konoha in one swift stroke," replied Naruto with his eyes burning with a fire that startled Karin.
Inside those blue piercing eyes was a fiery storm of simmering rage, one that promised to bring about untold destruction upon anyone that crossed him in the past, and just about everyone that would be his future enemy.
Karin was glad that she would never be on the receiving end of such a storm or at least hoped she wouldn't be anytime in the near future. Karin had no doubt that Naruto would never lash out at her maliciously and only if she had made the first move in betraying his trust would they become enemies. But an Uzumaki did not betray a fellow Uzumaki, as that was taboo on every sense of the word, and if they did...then they were not worthy of the blood running through their veins.
They deserved to have it running out of their body and die.
(A/N: YAY! I updated. I know I basically skipped through the Prelims. of the Chuunin Exams. To be honest, it was giving me trouble after the Hinata VS Neji fight, and I felt that was the only true significant moment I could right about the Prelims before I said the Hell with it. I might do a flashback regarding Gaara's fight with Lee in the next chapter or with his killing of Dosu, but basically its roughly the same as what you know (minus a few things if you reread the chapters) from the actual cannon. With that said, I hope this lives up to your expectations. Sorry this took so long. My mind has been all over the place and its hard to stick one story when ideas pop in for different things and your mind screams at you to write them. Until next time...PEACE!)