Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Bleach. It is respectively the propriety of Kishimoto and Tite Kubo.
Hello everyone, I present you the next chapter of Shinigami. Hope you like it.
Summary of the previous chapter: Tsunade has a meeting with the elders who try to cancel Naruto's promotion. Jiraiya and Naruto have a little dispute on the way to search information about the Rinnegan. Afterwards, Naruto visits Kakashi and tests a technique solely designed to counter the Sharingan. At the same time he is spied upon by Saï from Root. Said root ninja concludes that Naruto is weak.
Chapter 5: First move
"Damn that gaki for ruining my mood!" Jiraiya grumbled as he moved into the night.
The sun had been out for a while now. He could see the countless lights that illuminated the village. From this far away, it looked like a convergence of fireflies.
"Implying that I'm botching up the search for the Rinnegan's powers while He should be thanking me for everything I've done for him!" Suffice to say that he wasn't happy.
His latest clash with Naruto was still heavy on his mind. Those clashes weren't as recurrent as before, but they still happened. And most of the times, it involved Akatsuki one way or another. If he wasn't trying to keep up his dignity, he would be cursing that group right now. They had been and still were a major part of the tumultuous relationship he had with his godson after all.
The forest blurred around him as he ran.
"Does he think I'm goofing around for nothing? I've been searching for clues about that damn dojutsu ever since I came back here!"
And that was true.
The first thing he did once he returned to the village with Naruto was to call in the few favors he had to advance his research. First was the Hyuga clan.
They owed him a lot. After all, maintaining the caged bird seal wasn't easy a task. Few knew this, but the seal was always updated to prevent anyone from cracking it with a newly created sealing method. And who better than a renowned seal master like him to do the job.
That favor had him granted the privilege — as the Hyuga clan put it — to inquire about their knowledge of eye based bloodline. The clan had made a lot of inquiries and searches on the subject for the sole purpose of advancing their own dojutsu.
Despite this, that avenue had been closed. The Rinnegan was but a myth to them. They had come to this conclusion after the lack of proof of its existence for so long ago. And who were they to blame for their unfortunately wrong conclusion? For more than a century, no one — that they knew or heard of — had manifested the illusive dojutsu.
Jiraiya's next step had been the Uchiha clan. Unfortunately no member of the clan was alive or aligned to Konoha these days. This forced him to resort to the only option left: breaking into the Uchiha compound. A task that turned out to be easier than expected.
This had happened two days ago, on the same day he came back to the village. He had combed through the clan housings until nothing was left unturned.
And to his great pleasure, he had scored gold.
While searching the Naka Shrine, he had spotted a sealing formula on one of the mats in the main hall. The design of the seal was that of the sharingan in the middle and several seal formulas surrounding it.
Intrigued by it, he immediately studied the seal in order to decipher it. After a while, and finding nothing, he left the Shrine, leaving behind a clone of his to continue the analysis. That had been two days ago.
Now he was going back there because his clone had finally decoded the formula.
At last he slowed down and stopped just in front of the Shrine in question. The only light in the area was that of the moon. Despite this though, his white mane was still visible from several meters away. With a confident stride, he walked into the Shrine until he reached the main hall. Looking around for a bit, he spotted the mat he was looking for and moved close to it.
From his clone analysis, the mat was in fact a rather large block of dense earth. The block was obstructing a tunnel that led somewhere deeper in the ground, though he had no idea where. The sealing formula on the block was a real piece of work. It countered any possible method to reach the tunnel except the one that was sealed by the block.
He had tried to move underground to reach the tunnel but somehow he always found himself back where he started, as if he was circling around. And despite his vast knowledge on seal, he still had no clue which part of the formula made that possible. The only thing he had been able to decipher was the way to move the block of earth away from the tunnel.
Which he was doing by going through hand seals right now.
Once he finished, he felt the ground rumble for a while before the block was slowly lifted off the ground and dropped beside the newly revealed set of stairs.
Smiling at his success, he created a clone and sent it to the tunnel.
"Better be careful. No need to get myself killed by mistake" He thought out loud while waiting for his clone to dispel itself.
He didn't have to wait that long. A rush of memories assaulted him and as if he had a vision, he knew exactly what was below there. Assured of the safety of the tunnel, he confidently went down the stairs and followed the tunnel until he reached a dead end.
In front of him stood a tablet. From far away it looked like a tombstone, but upon closer inspection he saw a lot of written information. Information that detailed the Sharingan and its techniques. It even had the different method to train it to mastery.
But it was useless to him.
Most of it was already known to him. "And now Naruto too." He added silently as he remembered the technique Naruto developed to counter the Sharingan. He was the one who provided the information on the Sharingan and its functioning.
What he needed right now was something, anything related to the Rinnegan. He needed to know what powers was granted to its user. The only things about it he knew for certain was that its user gained affinity for all elemental chakra and the extremely dangerous power over gravity.
"That last one was learned during Naruto and Yahiko confrontation. What a terrifying power it is." Only thinking about that confrontation made him shudder in fright.
He wasn't easily frightened by ninja techniques. After all he had witnessed so many already. But the power of that one technique had been horrible.
"With two words, that boy ended that battle and everything around him!"
He would forever remember those words, those words that invoked hell upon earth.
Focusing once again on his surroundings, he sighed in frustration. Another avenue closed before his eyes and his chances of finding anything about the Rinnegan dropped even further.
Turning on his feet, he moved back to the secret entrance when, out of the corner of his eyes, he saw something glistening. Stopping dead on track, he shifted again and closed the gap between him and the tombstone. Trying to find whatever light show he saw was about, he examined the stone once more, trying everything he could think of to pry whatever secrets it was hiding. But to no avail.
"Dammit!" Cursing his bad luck, he backed up once again, but this time still facing the tombstone, hoping for something to happen.
"There again!" He exclaimed at around five feet from the stone. "That soft light appeared again. Could it be…"
The last part was muttered. The hope in his voice clear as day. He had an idea of what could cause that show. Without wasting any time, he took out his ink and brush, then started designing a sealing formula he was very familiar with.
Before long his task was over. The final design was that of a pentagram with sealing scripts at each corner. Inspecting his work one more time, he smiled, satisfied that he couldn't detect any mistakes in the seal. He rummaged through his breast pocket and retrieved a blank scroll that he put on the middle of the seal formula. Then he channeled his chakra to the seal, activating it.
The pentagram was illuminated with a bright red light that seemed to encompass the room. As if by magic, the seal formula was replicated in each wall of the piece, thus increasing the light show. Few minutes later, the light show ended, leaving Jiraiya to observe the result of his technique.
And he wasn't disappointed when on the tombstone, a complex looking seal appeared.
"Victory! I'm really good at what I do." Jiraiya grinned from ear to ear, praising himself from another job well done.
The seal he had used was one that had been invented during the third shinobi world war by his own student no less. In a nutshell it revealed every seal present in an area. Of course there were method to fool this technique but it was never publicly revealed. So no one out there knew of its existence.
The sealing arts, although very difficult to change, were nonetheless prone to evolution, especially in the face of annihilation. If this technique was revealed, ninjas out there wouldn't rest until they found a way around it. It was just too much of a security risk after all.
The designer of the seal on the tombstone, although certainly extremely talented, couldn't have guarded its seal from a technique that hadn't been created during his time or even that he didn't know the existence of.
Before long, Jiraiya had finished copying the seal on a scroll that he pocketed immediately afterward. He knew he was in for several long nights of research because of the seal. A simple glance at it told him that it was even more complex than the one guarding the entrance to this room.
"I didn't get that far with that one seal. I really wonder if I'll crack this one. Just my luck to find a piece of the puzzle but being unable to solve it… for now."
He easily traced back his steps and closed the tunnel before disappearing in a swirl of leaves to another location.
HOKAGE TOWER — TSUNADE'S OFFICE —
As usual, Jiraiya got inside Tsunade's office by passing through the windows, prompting the latter to throw furnitures at him.
"When are you gonna walk through the door like everyone!"
"Sorry that's not my style, I prefer the back door if you catch my vibes."
Another wall dented with Jiraiya's head later and everything went back to normal. Jiraiya rubbed his head, all the while grumbling. "Man, why do all women even remotely pretty got to be bitchy."
"You said something!"
"No, nothing!" Jiraiya quick reply may just have saved his ass from another beating, but that he would never know.
"Anyway, you wanted to see me?"
Tsunade, sitting behind her desk, sighed. "Yeah I did. I got a visit from our happy triad."
"You mean the elders?"
"Who else would I be talking about? Are you sure you're alright, you seem pretty slow tonight."
"And I bet you know slow!" With a lecherous grin, Jiraiya winked at Tsunade.
"I won't even dignify that with comment. Can we be serious for a moment."
"Ok sorry about that. I just got a rough evening. So what does Danzo's band of misfits want this time?"
"What do you think? They learned that Naruto got promoted to Jounin and tried to rescind it."
"And you did?" Jiraiya asked her with a serious look.
"Of course not. The boy trained like hell to get there. If I did that I don't even want to imagine the consequences. Moreover he beat Kakashi for fuck sake. That is way beyond most of our jounin."
"Damn right he deserves it." He smirked as he proudly recalled how Naruto handled Kakashi. "So what did they do. I assume they didn't accept kindly your refusal."
"Indeed they didn't. They ambushed me with a meeting with Danzo and tried to have Naruto shadowed at all time by one of Danzo's ninja. Obviously I declined their offer."
"Then everything is fine then. So why would you have me here?"
"Jiraiya this is the elders we are talking about. If there is one thing I learned about them is that they never take no for an answer."
"What you are saying is…"
"That even though I refused, they'll still send ninjas after Naruto to observe him. You have to tell the boy to be careful from now on. I don't know what Danzo wants with him, but that can't be good.
Jiraiya smiled at her before jumping on the window, ready to leave. "Don't worry too much about that. If there is someone that should be careful, it is the elders. If anything, should Naruto get wind of them spying on him, it will shift his attention on them."
He left her with partying words that had her shaken. "And it is never a good idea to have the attention of the Shinigami."
Ignoring that he was the object of several conversation, Naruto was partying with his friends. What were they celebrating? His promotion to Jounin of course.
"Ayame, another bowl of Ramen!"
"Coming up Naruto-kun." Ayame yelled from the kitchen.
"Really? You gonna take another bowl after the last five you had?" Sakura screeched at him. She was sitting on his left, with the other members of Konoha twelve all around the table.
"Trust me, you ain't seeing nothing yet. Naruto could eat out Ichiraku's reserve if he wanted." Chouji supplied while munching on a roasted chicken wing. He wasn't alone as Kiba and Shino were eating too.
"Yeah me too!" Kiba added his own cents. "Us big boys gotta eat you know. How do you think we got this strong?"
"Said the man who has been stuck Chuunin for what, two years now." The table erupted in laughter at Kiba expense.
"I totally resent that Tenten. For your information I just don't want to get there that fast you know. I wouldn't want to bruise people's ego by blowing out the competition."
"Your ego you meant!" Neji added, smiling at Kiba for the come back. "We all know you'd challenge Hokage-sama if given the opportunity."
"Of course I can totally do that. Obviously I would be going easy on her though. No need to humiliate her after all. But seriously I got too much on my plate already to add the Jounin status too. Speaking of which, how was your test Naruto?"
"Yeah Kiba is right, you didn't even told us about your test. How did it go? Obviously well if you got promoted."
Naruto looked at Sakura wondering how he should answer her question. He looked around the table and saw that all of them were waiting for his reply.
"You all know I'm not supposed to be talking about that, don't you? Especially you Neji, you are a jounin too. I'm sure you didn't tell them how your test went."
"Don't pin that on me. I wasn't asked this question, so we are not on the same boat." Neji smirked as he put back the attention on Naruto who looked at him in fake betrayal.
"How could you? I thought we helped each other between fellow jounins. Are you saying all that speech they gave us about helping each other out after the exams was nonsense?"
"I never got that speech, so I wouldn't know."
"Liar!" Naruto jumped out of his chair with an accusing finger pointed toward Neji who just smiled innocently.
"You got no proof!"
"I sure as hell don't need one. I call bullshit when I see it."
"Shut the fuck up you two." Silence descended on the table as an enraged Sakura slammed her hand on the table, not unlike an angry Tsunade.
"Jeez, she's like a mini-Tsunade. I feel sorry for her future husband." Kiba muttered. Unfortunately, his voice wasn't low enough.
"What did you say?"
"Nothing, Oh god nothing! I swear!"
"Everyone is having fun I see." A drawl coming from the stand entrance was heard. As one they looked at the speaker, only to see Shikamaru move the curtain away. Behind him, an irritated Temari followed.
"Shikamaru you are late. We started without you. Hope you are not mad, I was just too hungry to wait." Naruto offered smiling. Despite his mouth full of food, he still managed to talk audibly.
"No worries. We had things to do on our side. That is why we were late. Anyway I heard you got promoted, congratulations." Shikamaru replied while providing a chair for Temari to sit, then following after.
"Thanks man. At least one of us is happy about that. The others just want to know how it went while Kiba is jealous I got there first." The massive grin on Naruto's face said just how much fun he was having, especially at Kiba's expense.
"That's just a title, you got nothing on me." Kiba crossed his arm as if to make a point. "I can take you when I want."
"Really? You're gonna make us beg you to tell us how your test went?" Sakura having enough finally snapped at Naruto.
"Okay, okay. No need to get all angry at me. I got to fight against Kakashi sensei." Naruto finally answered.
They were for several seconds, waiting for him to elaborate and tell them how the fight went, but he wasn't forthcoming.
"That's it? You fought Kakashi, then what? What happened? Who won? You told us nothing man!" Kiba grumbled expressing the feeling of all on the table.
"That's all I can say. You all know that Jounin examination is confidential. Even if I wanted, I couldn't tell you more than that. Neji knows that. Why am I the only one being questioned?"
"Because you're the only one we didn't see for a while. Logically we got curious about your level." For the first time Shino talked and it sounded really strange for him to speak for so long. Still, Naruto could tell that they were really anxious to know about his training.
"Trust me he got plenty strong!" Temari's voice was like a sharp knife. It cut through and brought silence to the table. Of course, everyone looked at her in wonder, wondering what she knew that they didn't. Unless they were mistaken, Naruto didn't meet with the Sand jounin for just as long. So how would she know about that.
Though the look she sent Naruto definitely wasn't friendly. They looked back at Naruto who didn't seem to care and kept eating his Ramen.
"Sorry, is there a story between both of you." Kiba couldn't help but ask, smirking perversely.
Offended, Temari looked at Kiba with a scowl on her otherwise nice figure. "Why would I want to be anywhere near that asshole?"
The members of Konoha twelve looked at Temari as if she had lost her mind. They knew Naruto was often annoying with his ramblings, but an asshole, that was a first. They looked insistently at Naruto, wondering if he would defend himself, but the newly made Jounin didn't even bat an eyelash.
Shikamaru looked at the two in silent contemplation. 'Maybe I wasn't dreaming when I saw her look at him with contempt yesterday after all. This is so troublesome.'
"Why are you saying that Temari — san?" Sakura asked softly.
"Why don't you ask him. I'm sure he has lot to tell you. Oh I forgot he didn't tell any of you shit about his training. Don't you all wanna know what he did during that time?"
This time, Naruto stopped eating and laid the chopsticks on the table. Gone was the fun-loving Naruto. In his steed was a serious looking jounin, someone Sakura was quickly becoming accustomed to.
Though the act didn't intimidate Temari in the slightest.
"What're you looking at? You think that scares me? I got news for you, I grew up with Gaara and his look was way meaner than yours."
"Temari I think you should calm down." Shikamaru offered. He didn't want to intervene but he concluded that if things went too far, it would be even more troublesome.
But that wouldn't work. Temari had just too much on her plate. She had been repressing those feelings for so long that she just couldn't anymore. If she didn't found an outlet for it, she didn't know what would happen.
"Trust me Shikamaru I'm calm right now. If I wasn't I wouldn't be fucking speaking. I'd tear that egoistical asshole a new one."
"Oh shit! Things just got real!" Kiba shouted.
Sakura looked at Naruto again and yelled at him. "Naruto, aren't you gonna say something?"
"What do you think he's gonna say? Do you think he will apologize now for what he did when all this time he said nothing."
"What are you talking about? You are accusing him of something we know nothing about. Do you think we are gonna take that lying down without defending him?" Sakura finally snapped at Temari having enough of her badmouthing him.
"You would defend that trash wouldn't you. Go ahead, do just that. But if you think I'm gonna stop because of that, you got another thing coming." Temari shot back before gazing at Naruto once again. "Why don't you tell them how close you came to break the pact between Suna and Konoha? I'm sure they all want to hear that."
The sound of shattering glasses filled the piece. With shocked gasps, everyone turned around and looked at Naruto for more information. They couldn't believe what was just happening. Naruto, the boy who always proclaimed his desire to be Hokage, had come close to jeopardizing their safety. This was just too much.
"Naruto?" Chouji softly questioned him. Hoping beyond hope that everything that was said was false or that there was an explanation to this.
"Yeah Naruto, tell them!" Temari venomously added. "Tell them what you tried to do to Gaara, tell them how you tried to rip…"
"ENOUGH!" Naruto voice startled everyone. It wasn't that he was angry or something. Despite the increase in his voice's volume, no emotions was felt. That is what surprised them.
Suddenly an unnatural pressure filled the piece. One by one, the Konoha twelve, including Temari were forced to sit on their chair. The pressure was just too much to bear. Looking at their surrounding they got the feeling that the stand was shaking, frightening them even further.
'What the fuck is that?' was on their mind. They knew the pressure came from Naruto but they couldn't understand how or what it was.
The look Naruto gave Temari sent chills up her spine. She knew just who Naruto was. She knew that he could kill her if he wanted but for a short lapse of time she forgot all about that. She forgot that the man before her wasn't quite like the boy Gaara had admired at one point. This man was the Shinigami, whenever he took a mission everyone involved in it that he found guilty were swiftly terminated.
"You seem to think that your opinion and you childish behavior matter to me. Maybe I gave you the wrong signals. Or maybe I somehow made you think that you were entitled to talking to me like that. But whatever impression you got off me, you better forget about it and fast." The pressure in the room didn't seem to wane, if anything it just increased.
"I am neither your friend nor an outlet for you to vent your frustration. Speaking to you is beneath me. Yes, my actions made you reconsider allying yourself to Konoha. Yes, what I wanted to do was somewhat selfish. I never denied that. And trust me, if it wasn't for Jiraiya, I would have finished what I started."
Temari widening of her eyes would have been comical if the situation wasn't so serious.
"I know what you are thinking right now. Were you really willing to do that to Gaara? To your friend? The thing is I don't care. Simply because he wouldn't have been harmed in anyway. Only his fear and HIS cowardice stopped him from going through with it. And I just know that this will come back to bite us in the ass when Akatsuki do come after him. And when that happens — and it WILL happen — you better hope that you got the manpower to push back their attack. Because I won't lift a single finger for any of you."
Having spoken his mind, he rose from his sit and left the stand.
As soon as he left, the pressure was lifted, allowing those present to normally breath again. The shock of the confrontation hadn't worn off yet but they could only see Temari shakily rise from her chair, her eyes wide open, and leave the stand too.
The only comment that was voiced and by Kiba was "What the fuck just happened?"
SEVERAL MILES FROM IRON COUNTRY —
"Thanks for your help Koichi-san. As always, your work is flawless!" A man garbed like a samurai exclaimed to a merchant who stood behind the counter of a table exposing his goods. On the table laid several high quality weapons ranging from small knife to long sword.
"Pleasure to do business with you too. Remember how you always doubted my work! It took you almost losing your life because of a flawed weapon before you accepted that my work was the best!" Koichi grinned toothily as he said that to his customer. The latter looked sheepish as he scratched his neck.
"Let's forget about bad times, shall we? You know better than to remind me of such things."
"Just saying the truth dude!"
"Yeah, more like rubbing it in my face, damn. Maybe I should stop complimenting you. God only knows just how big your ego is." The two laughed at the banter as they exchanged pleasantries.
Koichi was a well known blacksmith in the area. Like several others close to Iron country, he specialized in high quality weapons. Unlike the conventional ones, the metal used to manufacture them was very durable and hard to come by. They were destined to people who valued a good weapon and were advanced enough to notice the difference with a standard weapon.
Today had been one of those days when the market was flooded with people. Samurais, civilians, tourists and even some ninjas had strolled past his counter all day long, looking for a gem. With the sunset coming, it was high time for him to close shop.
Yawning tiredly, he went about packing away his goods and storing them in the small cabin behind his counter. The cabin wasn't much. Each corner of the piece was used to store materials or shelves. On the shelves laid several weapons that had been exposed earlier on, while in the other corners rested his materials to manufacture weapons. This left the middle of the piece free, giving him greater freedom of movement, which was something he preferred.
While tidying up his place, he was startled by a grave voice that seemed to come from the cabin itself.
"Koichi no last name, grew up in Iron country with his parents. His father was a blacksmith not unlike himself, while his mother was a waitress. For the better part of his life, he worked with his father and helped him manage the familial store. After a while, he went on his own trying to leave a mark in the world. Did I leave something?"
Scared shitless by the disembodied voice, the only thing Koichi had to say was "W… Who is there?"
Cold laughter reverberated through the piece, further pushing Koichi to the edge. "Show yourself whoever you are, or I swear to god I'm gonna call the militia!"
"What are you waiting for then? Call them!" The voice replied, openly laughing at him.
This send a chill down Koichi's spine. The area he currently lived in was monitored by the militia, a sub-division of Iron country army. They were well respected and were in charge of maintaining order. Usually, when someone mentioned them, it was enough to make non-law abiding citizens back off. The only ones that weren't afraid of that group were ninjas.
And that is what made him so scared.
The fact that whoever it was could project their voice everywhere in the room was proof enough that the intruder was a ninja.
In a desperate attempt to flee the room and alert someone of his current predicament, Koichi rushed toward the door and clamped on the doorknob, engaging the mechanism to open the door. Or at least tried to do so, because the next moment he was sent back in the middle of the piece and he felt pain unlike any before, coming from his stomach.
Coughing blood, he tried to rise from the ground but only succeeded in kneeling. As he raised his head, he widened his eyes as the weirdest thing he had ever seen stood before him.
A man with a long black cloak with red clouds stood before him. The things that shocked though, were the venus trap like protuberances above the shoulder of his would be attacker.
"Let's make it simple Koichi-san. We can do this the easy way or the hard way, the choice is yours to take. Either way, by the time I step out of this cabin, you will have answered any questions I have. So what will it be?"
Koichi certainly wasn't a fighter and had never been trained as one. He didn't know what was going on but what he did know, was that the ninja before him wouldn't hesitate to kill him. If anything else, he felt like this man wanted him to be difficult, just so he could torture him. With that in mind, he made the obvious choice.
"Whatever you want I am giving it to you free of charge, just take everything you want, but please, I don't want to die." Real tears fell down his face as he implored his captor.
"Spare me your little drama. Your wares do not interest me. What I want to know, is if you sold or recognize this weapon." As if by magic, at least for Koichi, an image of an elegant handle, presumably for a short sword appeared in front of the ninja. The design was flawless, so much that with but a glance, Koichi knew that this was beyond his work.
Something he shared with the man in front of him.
"Do you know of someone capable of making it?" The ninja demanded once again.
"The only one I know of, is the current blacksmith of Iron country's army. I heard he could make wonders like this weapons. I know nothing more, please."
The ninja watched with disgust as Koichi begged with his head down on the ground. This was unfathomable for someone like him. He was tempted to leave this pathetic human alive but thought otherwise. He couldn't afford to leave proofs of his activity, less he alerts undesirable people of his actions.
'This isn't going as well as I thought it would. Already seven blacksmiths and none of them created the strange weapon used by Shinigami. I was certain it would be easy to find information on it and by association on Shinigami but so far, this is not going so well.' The ninja silently thought as he slowly melted into the ground, leaving behind the human that soiled his pants at his sight and a parting gift in the form of an explosive note.
'At least he gave me another blacksmith to investigate. Though this one will be tricky. The blacksmith of Iron country army is always well protected. I'll have to be careful for that one.'
Despite this setback, he was happy that he was making progress. The investigation he was doing was vital for his leader after all. They had to find at least the identity of their new opponent if they ever wanted to get a hold of him.
Naruto arrived back to his apartment a short while after the altercation with Temari. His mind was focused on the task at hand and not on the earlier event. Said event wasn't really on his mind. To be fair, the only reason he reacted so strongly was to stop Temari from revealing too much of his actions.
He didn't really care that much about the treaty between Konoha and Suna having been threatened for one simple reason: it hadn't been.
Suna wouldn't have rescinded the alliance because Gaara wouldn't have. Yes he did attack Gaara but both of them knew why he did that. If anything, it was just a spat between Naruto and Gaara, two fellow Jinchuuriki. While Temari's protective nature was commendable, her reaction was unneeded.
Choosing to forget about the whole thing, he unlocked and opened the door leading to his room. He strode toward the corner he left his gear at and swiftly got dressed for an extended mission. Beyond the normal attire he usually wore, he added a large brown coat, then he fastened his sword to his hip. The sword was an elegant one and one he acquired during his travel in Iron country, a trip that was unknown to Jiraiya and everyone for that matter.
Apart from the obvious high quality of the metal, the sword was nothing more than a samurai katana. The blade was about 2 and a half feet long and 2 inches high. The hilt was of simple design as well, with a black material covering it to increase the adherence. The guard though was another matter. It was a work of art. It was round shaped with the material forming the yin-yang symbol.
Normally he would have gone for a simpler design but circumstances had forced him to go for this one. It was easily recognizable and that is exactly what he wanted. Just thinking about the reason behind it made Naruto smirk in anticipation.
Finally ready and having done a double check of all his gear, he positioned himself in the middle of the room and took several calming breath. What he was about to do required his complete focus. Unlike what Jiraiya thought of the nature of his spying network, the truth was way more complicated than that. The only thing his sensei knew about it was that it was suited for tracking people down.
Several times, Jiraiya had guessed that Naruto used humans or even animal to get the information he wanted, but this was so far from the truth it wasn't even funny.
"I wonder what he would think if he knew that the simple seal I asked him to design is the basis to this network." Naruto thought with a smirk.
One of the Kido techniques he had created had been specifically engineered to track people down. The technique vastly enhanced the user's senses and awareness. As such, when Naruto used it with his already high awareness, he was able to sense energy — chakra or spiritual energy — in a range of almost fourty miles.
Wanting to cover most of the elemental country, he had the idea to expand the technique reaches. After refining the technique to the max, he hit a wall that had stayed impenetrable for a while, until Jiraiya presented him a seal capable of storing a technique.
After some tweaking done to it with the help of the Toad sennin, the two had come up with a seal that could use the surrounding energy to recharge itself. The seal completed, it only left Naruto the task of placing it in several areas in the elemental country. This was done every time Naruto ditched Jiraiya, in order to preserve the nature of his actions.
That is how Naruto's spy network was born.
His focus complete, Naruto slowly kneeled on the ground before drawing a circle on it, using his reishi as ink. He divided the circle in four parts and drew a symbol on each quadrants. The task done he positioned both of his palms on the floor below the circle and uttered softly yet confidently.
"Bakudo 58 : Kakushitsuijaku" — Summoning of the tracking sparrows.
The circle glowed with a blue light and Naruto watched the symbols become animated and quickly shuffling between several numbers. Then as quickly as it happened everything stayed still.
While nothing seemed to have changed in the room, it was another story for Naruto. The latter had his eyes closed and seemed in deep concentration.
In his mind, he could feel everything inside and beyond Konoha. Everything possessing an energy was known to him, no matter how hidden it was to the world. It gave him a sense of euphoria so strong he had the feeling he could lost himself in it if he wasn't used to it by now.
He quickly sensed one of the seal used for his network and remotely activated it, thereby doubling his range. He did the same for every seal he could feel, but specifically in the direction of Water country where he knew the Bijuu energy he had sensed was.
In his mind, it looked like a darkened map of the world was slowly but surely illuminated. He could activate all the seals of the network but it took too much of his concentration to do so. So he preferred to focus on a particular area.
Once the technique was fully activated, he searched for the particular energy emitted by a Bijuu and as expected, found nothing. Though he did found once again the energy that drew his attention a few day earlier. It belonged to a young boy and seemed very close to that of a Bijuu. He didn't know how that was possible as he knew for a fact that the boy wasn't a Jinchuuriki, being familiar to the energy signature emitted by those. Nonetheless this required an investigation.
He was surprised though when unlike the first time he sensed the energy, he felt 7 energy signatures close by the boy. Although he recognized none of them, two of them had the chakra level of an A ranked ninja.
Having all the information he needed, he shut down the network and took several deep breath to regain his composure.
"This technique is really demanding." He muttered between breaths. "Time to go hunting it seems." He finally said.
Rising from his kneeling position, he raised his hand above his head as a long white piece of cloth spun around him until it tightly coiled around his whole body. With a white flash, Naruto vanished from his apartment, leaving nothing behind. Only the words Sentan Hakuja were left echoing in the piece.
To be continued...