Chapter Fifteen

'Almost there.' Jiraiya thought, heading to his next destination. 'Reports say that Kumo had to repel an invasion earlier this week. We need to ensure that the jinchuuriki are still there, so Minato can get them. I could probably get them, but I don't think I'm properly equipped for that.'

Jiraiya had no actual contacts in Kumo, unable to get any inside the village that didn't get caught too soon to provide him anything useful. Though to be fair Jiraiya didn't trust the concept of sleeper agents in the first place, their loyalty was too questionable for his tastes. So how did he gather information on the village? With an easily overlooked source, the clients and contacts of the village itself. The travelers also provided great information for the right price.

Shinobi services had a variety of prices, but they weren't always cheap. Often even the cheap D-rank missions had to be done more than once, and the price to keep paying for them added up. Theoretically, a genin in Konoha who never took a mission except the 'Capture Tora' mission and took it each and every time it came up for an entire year could easily afford that year's rent for their home if they lived on their own. So with so much money coming from clients to shinobi, Jiraiya discovered that if he were the one to pay them for a change, they'd give him all the information he could want.

It was an easy way to get information, especially since most clients didn't feel required to be loyal to any particular village of ninjas. Thanks to finding people who went in and out of Kumo regularly for business without being legally bonded to it, Jiraiya had contacts and information on the village that most shinobi wouldn't bother looking for with intent to silence. And thanks to these contacts, he found out Kumo just had some recent activity amounting to an invasion. The downside to his type of contact was accurate information was difficult to come by, requiring him to do some sleuthing to confirm what he heard.

Some information can be weeks old or some information can mislead you, thinking it's going to happen but won't. But Jiraiya didn't become a master spy for nothing even with the false information he got. He used it to pass on to the other nations and take it out of context witohut blowing it out of proportion, thus making Kumo look even more of the bad guy. A good part of the village's reputation had been based on Jiraiya's negative portrayal of them.

'Need to get inside the village first, then look for the jinchuuriki.' The only sennin not afraid to show his age thought before summoning a toad. "We need to get inside a hidden village."

"No problem." The toad said before growing much bigger than opening its mouth. Jiraiya climbed into the mouth and held his breath before the toad closed its mouth and shrank back to normal toad size. Jiraiya had summoned the toad near a river so it jumped inside, and managed to find a pipe buried underground poking into the water, pulling some water in. The toad went into the pipe, clinging to the walls to fight the current.

After a bit the pipe forked, with one end going left and the other end going up and right. The second one was brighter and had less of a current, which was a good sign to the toad, so they climbed up and got out into a still pond within Kumo's walls, likely put there for waterwalking practice and general scenery.

After a careful look to ensure no one was around, the toad got to a secluded spot on land and allowed Jiraiya to climb out of it's mouth. It was difficult since the toad couldn't grow without majorly risking alerting some sensors, so Jiraiya was stuck with a tight squeeze. "Thanks, this shouldn't be long. Wait for me here."

The toad nodded and Jiraiya henged himself to look like an ordinary Kumo jounin, complete with the white vest, dark skin, and appropriate hitai-ate. Other than that he looked like his normal self, and walked away as casually as he could as if he was a mere ninja off duty.

When he walked away, he had no idea that a fox came up and pounced on the toad before killing and eating it.

Kurenai was nervous. She hadn't been requested for a private meeting with the hokage before, not even back when they were trying to turn Hinata against Naruto which failed. Something she wasn't proud him because of her skills in genjutsu compared to the Kurama clan. But he had requested a personal meeting with her and she couldn't refuse his order. Besides, it wasn't like she had somewhere else she wanted to be. Without Hinata on her team, Kurenai found herself unable to really care about her students. Not to say she would let them die if she could stop it, but she found herself sympathizing with Kakashi for not making his sensei duties top priority.

"Kurenai, I asked you here because something has happened recently that involves you." Sarutobi started.

"Have you found a lead on Hinata?" Kurenai asked.

"No, the search for her and Naruto continues." Sarutobi answered, trying not to roll his eyes. 'She always thinks of that girl first. While being concerned for the effect the boy could have on her is one thing, Kurenai hasn't ever been concerned about anything else Naruto could have done. Almost like as long as Hinata isn't involved she doesn't care about who is. If I didn't know better, with this level of interest in one child not her own I'd start to wonder if Kurenai is actually a type of pedophile.'

Just because people pictured men when they thought of pedophiles didn't mean that there weren't any women who had the same kind of interest in children. Though Sarutobi hoped that wasn't the case for the red-eyed genjutsu mistress, as she had spent too much time with Hinata trying to mold her into a good kunoichi, he was beginning to wonder what Kurenai's real interest in Hinata was.

"What I called you for is an issue regarding your team. Your student Ami came here two days ago and requested leave of your team, saying you told both your entire team as well as my son's team that you believed the only good thing she could do was quit."

Kurenai just shrugged. "If she did then she proved me right."

Sarutobi lightly frowned. "Kurenai, right there, what you just said, is all the confession I need to know that she was not lying."

"I'm not ashamed to admit it, she wasn't lying. She had absolutely no business being on my team."

Sarutobi hit his table with his palms. "Why Kurenai? Was she a bad student? A threat to herself and the team? Or is it simply because she's not Hinata? For Kami's sake Kurenai, Hinata is gone! Get the hell over it!"

Kurenai matched his angry look with one of her own. "I will not! That girl was practically a daughter to me. All the time I spent with her trying to help her guide her while her father and clan gave up. Would you tell a mother to just get over their child being kidnapped?"

"First, according to all evidence and even your report, she wasn't 'kidnapped' but left of her own free will. Clearly she cares more for the boy then she does for you." He noticed her frown got more focused at that. "Is that what's got your panties in a bunch? The girl you'd do anything for won't return the favor? This may surprise you, but most girls do leave their mothers for boys someday."

"I'm not convinced she hasn't been influenced by that boy in some way, and I intend to get her away from him to find out and reeducate her if necessary." Kurenai proclaimed, folding her arms and looking at the Hokage to leave no room for discussion on the subject.

"Anyway, back to the reason I called you here, something happened the same exact day that your student requested leaving your team. She was murdered." Sarutobi said.

Kurenai actually looked surprised. "Murdered?"

Sarutobi nodded. "Yes, murdered. We don't know by who though."

This was a surprise because by shinobi standards murder had an entirely different meaning. Because they had to kill on the job, they used terms like assassination, casualty of war, or accidental death. But murder, that was used in only one circumstance, when it was clear the death had nothing to do with shinobi work. For a ninja to be murdered, even a genin, it meant that the victim wasn't on the job and the killer wasn't on the job either. Nothing about the death was professional or business-related, it was just killing someone for the sake of killing them.

"That is strange. And while I admit I had no love for the girl, I didn't want her dead." Kurenai stated. "Do you need me to help in the investigation?"

Sarutobi nodded. "No, we need to operate under the suspicion that the murderer had more in mind than just targeting this one student of yours. It's possible that your entire team is at risk, so if you actively try to find this killer, they will know how to avoid you."

"Which would implicate that this isn't murder, but a vendetta against my team and they went for Ami first because she was the easy target." Kurenai hypothesized. "Hokage-sama, my team is still new and has only done one mission out of the village. The only people I can think of that would bother to target us are either Asuma or Naruto."

"Asuma? Why him? I know he and his team were there when you had your little demotivational speech, but surely that's not enough to make him want to kill off your team."

"No, but he could have someone kill my student as a means to try and claim superiority over me and my team. How was she killed anyway?"

"According to forensics, no weapons was left behind at the scene of the crime, but the injury was clearly a kunai's cut." Sarutobi answered. "A weapon anyone in Konoha can acquire."

"Well using his trench knives would be too obvious." Kurenai claimed and pointing it out what kind of weapons he carry with him all time times. "And don't forget Naruto, the boy could be forcing Hinata to prove some kind of misguided loyalty to him by attacking the team she would have been assigned to if he hadn't taken her."

'Still clinging to the slim hope that the Hyuuga girl didn't want to leave her.' Sarutobi noted. "Your observations are noted Kurenai, but let the CSI teams handle their job and you handle yours. We unfortunately cannot fill in the hole in your team now until the team graduation, so just teach your two remaining students while you can. If they're still willing to be your students that is. And you better hope for your sake neither Tsume or Shibi hear about what you said."

"Why? I didn't say anything to their boys."

"Maybe, but no doubt if they hear, they will confront you about how you are training them, since you clearly refuse to get over not being able to play favorites. If they request it, I will have no choice but to remove you from being a sensei, for quite possibility the rest of your career." Sarutobi warned.

Jiraiya was no sensor, that was not his talent, so finding the jinchuuriki wasn't going to be easy. He couldn't go up to someone local and ask them, Kumo might not have been as strong as Konoha but they were still ninja, and Jiraiya hadn't lived as long as he had by assuming the enemy was stupid.

But he had a trick. The chakra compass he made specifically to find Naruto if he ever went missing should in theory work just as well regarding other jinchuuriki. And here was a good time to test that theory.

Sitting on a bench to avoid looking like he was looking for something, he took out the compass and gave it a moment to find any source of appropriate chakra. To his surprise it worked rather quickly, pointing to the northeast.

'That was rather easy. And since Kumo has two jinchuuriki, does this mean they're both this way, or one's not in the village right now?' He asked himself. 'Only one way to find out.'

Getting up and walking casually, Jiraiya headed northeast, pausing every once in a while to reaffirm the direction of the chakra source without drawing attention to himself from Kumo's Anbu. As he did, he noted that the Anbu weren't behaving as if security was tightened, as if they were pretending an invasion hadn't happened what so ever. He didn't understand it, but it was definitely better for him.

He was lead to an alley with the compass pointing to a large cardboard box. 'Their jinchuuriki must be a bum, guess that rumor I heard about them treating the weapons like people was false. Looks like Kumo is smarter than I gave them credit for.' He thought before lightly kicking the box. "Come on out."

"Please, leave me alone. I won't hurt anyone I promise." A scared young voice called out.

Jiraiya looked inside the box, and he silently gasped. Right there, looking like he had been in a cage for a long time, was Naruto, looking exactly like the picture Sarutobi gave him, huddled up and scared against the back of the box. "I can't tell you any more about Konoha. Why did you take me in the first place?"

"It's okay kid, I can help you." Jiraiya said in a soothing way, though on the inside he was grinning ear to ear. 'What luck! Somebody up there must really like me to let me find this brat here. I don't know how Kumo managed to take him, but thank Kami they haven't done a good job of containing or reeducating him. I'll get him back, and everything can go back to the way it's supposed to be.'

"Why should I believe you?" Naruto asked, grabbing a broken bottle and holding it like a weapon weakly. It was no real threat to Jiraiya, but not something he could just ignore either.

Jiraiya released his disguise. "I'm from Konoha too. I was sent here to find you and bring you back home."

"Prove it, tell me something only someone from Konoha would know."

'Must not be as gullible as Sensei told me.' The toad sage remarked to himself, trying to think of something Naruto would know too. With his limited education, that would be difficult, but he thought of something. "You used to call the Hokage Jiji didn't you? You're Naruto, the one he loved like a grandson. He's been worried for you and has been looking everywhere for you."

Naruto's expression softened, but he didn't lower his weapon. "Who are you?"

"I'm Jiraiya, I'm your jiji's favorite student and I taught the Yondaime Hokage myself. I'm one of the strongest ninja in Konoha."

"How did you get here? Or find me?"

"I snuck in, and see this?" Jiraiya showed him the chakra compass. "This was made so I could find you if you were got kidnapped. It took me a while to track you down, but you're safe now."

"For real?" Naruto asked.

"We can't talk for long, please come with me if you want to go home." Jiraiya insisted.

The next thing he knew, everything went black.

It wasn't long before Jiraiya regained consciousness. When he did, he saw he was chained up to a stone pillar, positioned with his back to the pillar and arms wrapped behind him, kept apart to ensure no hand signs, and legs positioned and chained to make it seem like he was kneeling. His mouth and head however were unbound.

"Oh good, you're awake."

Jiraiya blinked, and saw Naruto standing before him, smiling and armed crossed. The scenery was no longer an alley in Kumo but in an open field still within the walls but next to one of the village's mountains. There was no one around. "What's going on? I don't understand."

"Of course you don't. You have to be able to think in order to understand." Naruto remarked, pulling out the chakra compass before snapping it in half and stomping on it. He didn't stop until he was sure there was no chance of repairing it. "Hope that wasn't expensive."

"What's the deal Naruto? Are you saying you're loyal to Kumo now?" Jiraiya asked.

"You see a hitai-ate on me old man?"

"Naruto, I don't know what happened to you, but you must listen to me."

"And why should I, Godfather?" Naruto asked, surprising Jiraiya.

"How did you find out?" Jiraiya asked. 'He wasn't supposed to know about that. Sarutobi-sensei would never tell him.'

"Let's not get into that just yet, I want to talk about why should I listen to you?" Naruto asked. "And don't bother insulting me by playing the godfather card, if that meant anything to you then you would have been there for me when Konoha was doing... well, I'm sure you know full well what they did.

"Naruto, I wanted to help you, but I was busy." Jiraiya said, trying to play on Naruto's sympathy and convince him that he actually wanted to be Naruto's caretaker but was a victim of circumstance.

"Okay, even if I didn't know that your role of godfather is nothing but a token title to ensure no legal action was taken against those that hurt me as long as you pressed no charges, you think I'm dumb enough to believe you were busy 24/7 for the better part of thirteen years?" Naruto challenged.

Jiraiya tensed, it was clear this fugitive knew more than he was supposed to. Maybe he could find out how much he knew. But also how why is he inside of Kumo but one thing crossed his mind. "How did you leave the village? Who took you away?"

"I'm the one asking the questions here you slave-to-hormones." Naruto said grimly. "Where is that dickwad Namikaze?"

Jiraiya immediately frowned. "Don't you dare call him that you son of a bitch!"

"Oh, son of a bitch is he?" Kushina said, appearing right beside Naruto.

"What? But how? This is impossible." Jiraiya sputtered, unable to comprehend this revelation. He was staring at Kushina standing next to Naruto, while she is supposed to be dead.

"Go ahead, call her a bitch to her face. I dare you." Naruto taunted, ignoring the question.

"That's okay son, after all, if one of your parents is a bitch we both know it's him and not me." Kushina said with a smile. "After all, the reason he ever got any woman into his bed was by force."

"You got some nerve!" Jiraiya shouted, trying to reach out to her to choke her with his bare hands. But after a few minutes of struggling he stopped and realized something he should have a few moments ago. 'If she's somehow alive, then this explains everything. She came and took him, and is trying to ruin everything for us all over again. Well Uzushio-slut, it didn't work then and it's not going to work now. Though I need to find out just how she cheated death, and why she'd come to Kumo of all places.'

"Let's cut the crap Jiraiya, my son knows everything. He knows that your miserable excuse of a student is still alive and intended for him to be his personal slave until it was time to kill him, and that you've been a part of this since before my son was just a sperm and egg." Kushina told the sennin. "But surely you didn't come here looking for him. What were you really here for?"

"Go fuck yourself cum-dumpster!" Jiraiya responded. Kushina came up and swiftly kicked him in the nuts, making him sing soprano for a moment.

Naruto winced. "Ah, so that's why you chained him up that way."

"Yeah, besides this guy's barely a threat. All you have to do is show him something of interest, like a naked girl, and he's blind to the rest of his surroundings." Kushina added, referring to why it had been easy for her to attack him from behind when her son had been the bait he couldn't ignore. "If anything he's got his title of Sannin by association more than merit."

Jiraiya glared and bared his teeth at the Uzumaki. "You think you're tough? Picking on a helpless old man?"

"This helpless old man is the one who not only encouraged his surrogate son to rape a girl, but gave him the means to do it." Kushina reminded him.

"You don't know your place. Neither of you do." Jiraiya defamed.

"I know your place bastard, six feet under." Kushina stated, then smiled proudly. "Before I send you there, I want you to know a little something. I had an encounter with your queen of implants not too long ago."

"Who?" Jiraiya asked.

"Tsunade numb-nuts."

"Tsunade does not have implants!"

Kushina rolled her eyes. "Oh please? At her age? If those things were real, then I'm a blonde. Doesn't matter, you'll never see them or her again."

Jiraiya narrowed his eyes dangerously at Kushina. "What did you do to her?" Kushina quickly ran her finger across her neck, implying a kill strike. "You lie! There's no way you'd succeed at killing her!"

Kushina surprised him by pulling out the stolen bit of Tsunade's hair. "Oh but I did, and I loved every second of it. Her crony, well that wasn't as much fun."

"DAMN YOU!" Jiraiya shouted, struggling to get out of his chains. "LET ME OUT AND WE'LL SEE HOW TOUGH YOU REALLY ARE!"

"No thanks, I like you right here instead." Kushina said before making her claws appear and jabbing them into Jiraiya's left shoulder, making him bleed and cry in pain. "So tell us, where is Namikaze?"

"You won't get anything out of me." He claimed.

"Looks like I'm getting blood out of you. I can go deeper if that's what it takes." She stated, digger her claws in deeper until they hit bone. She even added a bit of her chakra to her fingers, knowing it will slowly decay his reserves.

"You're a sadist you know that?" Jiraiya insulted.

Kushin smirked at that. "Flattery will get you nowhere!"

"Hurt me all you want, I'll never talk." The white-haired pervert said, clenching his jaw.

"All I heard was 'hurt me all you want'." Kushina said before removing her hand from his shoulders and holding it out, an orb of red chakra forming above her palm.

Jiraiya's eyes widened at the sight of it when he realized that it was a Rasengan, but then he paled. "W-what're you gonna do with that...?!"

"Just a little lesson in how effective a jutsu can be when you learn it the proper way instead of steal it." Kushina said, referencing both the fact Jiraiya and Namikaze stole jutsu from the Uzumaki, as well as the fact Namikaze made a jutsu based on the time he had seen a bijuu-dama. What she had in her hands was essentially a handheld version of a bijuu-dama, a TRUE rasengan if you will.

Jiraiya paled even further seeing how close the ball of chakra was coming. "C-c'mon, Uzumaki! L-let's be reasonable here!"

Kushina looked like she didn't know whether to laugh or erupt with fury. "Considering what you and your student think is reasonable, I'd say this is downright worthy of a gold medal."

Jiraiya was sweating profusely and unconsciously tried to back away from Kushina as best as he could. "C-can't we talk about this?"

"You know what I want to hear old man. So unless it's that, the next thing to come out of your mouth will be a bloody scream. Both literally and figuratively."

Jiraiya felt like he was going to piss his pants than soil himself after that. If he didn't talk, then he had a VERY good idea of what part of his body she was going to use that on. But he was NOT going to talk and risk the prophecy and Konoha's safety that easily. Even if the part of him that he suspected she'd use that on meant so much to him.

"He has more than one base scattered around, making sure threats like you can't track him down. He never goes from one to the next in a set pattern or timing, telling people like me where he is only when toad messaging isn't enough. There are only two people in the world who would know his exact whereabouts right now, Minato himself and his lover."

"Lover?" Naruto repeated.

Kushina frowned. "So, some woman was stupid enough to share her bed with him voluntarily?"

Jiraiya glared at Kushina for that. "You should feel honored that he even used you to bring that little brat next to you into this world, so shut the hell up!"

Kushina responded by thrusting her chakra orb right into Jiraiya's genitals. His eyes widened in agony when her alternative to the rasengan made contact with his 'family jewels'. For a split second, he was silent, but it didn't last long, for he soon let loose a bloody scream that some would later claim could be heard across the nations.

The effect of the attack itself was different from a normal rasengan. It wasn't like his fun parts were being shredded in all directions at once. Rather, it was like they were being erased, pulled apart cell by cell with the nerves still working. At the same time, the chakra seemed to be cauterizing the wound at the same time it was creating it, erasing then healing then erasing then healing in a never-ending cycle within the span of an instant.

"What did you do that for?" Jiraiya wheezed when the attack stopped and the pain lessened enough for him to speak.

"Consider that your punishment for what you said about me and my son!" Kushina spat, her tone dripping with venom.

"It doesn't matter, you think you can stop Minato? No one can. He is fated to rule this world, and all who defy him will perish. You can't win. Prophecy is inevitable." Jiraiya proclaimed.

Kushina rolled her eyes. "Oh, spare me the propaganda, Jiraiya!"

"It's not propaganda! It's foretold!"

"But it can be changed. Nothing is set in stone." Naruto replied.

"How do you even know that that so-called prophecy means that the "Child of Prophecy" mentioned in it is supposed to rule the world? For all you know, by trying to turn Namikaze into a ruler to bring about peace, you could be sowing the seeds for the world's DESTRUCTION! For that matter, how do you even know that Namikaze is the "Child of Prophecy"?" Kushina pressed.

"Don't talk like you know the prophecy better than me."

"And don't use it as an excuse for what you and the others already intended to do." The red-haired woman countered. "You assume that bastard will win while everyone will stand by and let him do as he pleases. Well they won't."

"It doesn't matter, he will win and create a world that is meant to exist. One where there is nothing but peace because no one will have the power to stand against Minato. It will be like the peaceful times of the Sage again, with an even stronger man this time." Jiraiya insisted.

Naruto, having gotten sick and tired of hearing the perverted Toad Sage rant about how Namikaze was supposed to win, grabbed a kunai and stabbed Jiraiya in the eye.

"Bet your precious prophecy didn't see THAT coming!"

"That's my boy." Kushina praised, hugging her son with one of her arms and messing up some of his hair.

Jiraiya glared, the kunai still in his eye socket to prevent major blood loss. 'Obviously these two are more interested in torturing me than killing me. They really are no better than the demons inside them.'

"I'm curious, what woman would be stupid enough to spread her legs for that man without being forced to?" Kushina asked, cleaning some of Jiraiya's blood off her fingers she hadn't bothered to earlier.

Jiraiya smirked. "Oh, wouldn't you like to know. If I were you, I'd be more interested in how much stronger he's gotten since the first time he killed you. Meaning your second death is going to be all that much more terrible, for you anyway."

"If you're trying to scare me you're doing a piss-poor job of it." Kushina commented, then chuckled. "Speaking of which, if you lived past this conversation, which you won't, you'd do a piss-poor job of... well, pissing." She chuckled some more.

Jiraiya looked to Naruto. "As a fellow male I'd think even you'd be a little sympathetic to this kind of injury."

Naruto rolled his eyes. "You mean even less to me than I do to you. I wouldn't waste my pocket lint on you."

Jiraiya bit back a growl and grit his teeth. How DARE this little brat talk to him like that! It was time to teach them both a lesson. "You should have killed me when you had the chance freaks!" Behind him, the tiny rasengans he had made earlier in his hands, made repeatedly when his concentration had been broken, had finally eroded the chains binding his hands, giving him enough slack to spring up, though he hadn't yet escaped the entire chain.

Seeing Jiraiya spring up, Kushina wrapped him up in her chakra chains still on him. "I don't think so!"

His legs free for a moment, Jiraiya moved to make himself stand in Kushina's shadow and did a quick set of handsigns behind his back while his hands were close together. "Toad Flatness Shadow Manipulation Jutsu." He inhaled deeply and started to sink into the ground, turning grey as he did with the chains slipping off him. The kunai that had been in his eye stayed on the ground too, though for some reason his clothes went into the ground with him.

Kushina felt her body freeze up. "Naruto! He's doing something to me!" He disappeared completely, and Kushina's eyes glazed over. "Yes, that's right, I am." Jiraiya's voice said coming out of her mouth.

Naruto frowned. "What did you do to my mom?"

Jiraiya-controlled Kushina picked up the kunai and held it to her neck. "Make one move and I'll kill the bitch. Don't think I won't. It will be my pleasure and this time I will make sure she stays dead."

Naruto clenched his fist and glared at the Jiraiya-controlled Kushina. Then sighed and held up his hands. "Alright, I won't do anything."

Jiraiya-controlled Kushina smirked for a bit, keeping the kunai close to her neck. Only to suddenly get hit with fire from one side and lightning from another.

"But I never said they wouldn't." Naruto added.

His concentration broken, Jiraiya was forced to abandon Kushina's shadow and emerge back into the world. He had no damage, but immediately he got hit by a series of jabs all over his front. 'This... is the juuken!' He thought once he recognized it, seconds before collapsing.

"Mom? You okay?" Naruto asked, checking on his hurt and collapsed mother who was covered in burns, both fire and electric in nature. Joining him was Hinata, who had been hiding in case Jiraiya managed to escape.

"I'll be fine, even in my first life I could take worse than this and heal as good as new." She claimed.

Yugito and Bee appeared beside the Uzumaki matriarch. "Sorry about that. But you did tell us to attack as necessary."

"I don't blame you. I blame him." Kushina reassured, pointing to the white-haired hermit then kicking him making him groan a bit.

Jiraiya managed to lift his head despite his body's protests, glaring with his one eye left, which happened to be the left. "You haven't won yet."

"And what can you do? Your chakra is useless now." Hinata taunted.

'That's where you're wrong.' He thought, moving his hands to a seal on his thigh which no one bothered to stop since it looked like he was going for a kunai. What he was actually doing was something he got inspired by thanks to his runaway teammate Orochimaru, a seal that would allow him to summon without using handsigns himself just once. Jiraiya hadn't spent all his time keeping track of the snake sannin just to know where he was after all.

With a large puff of smoke, Jiraiya was quickly covered from sight. Hinata activated her byakugan to see what he was doing. What she saw was a giant toad appear under him, then swallow Jiraiya whole. 'What? Why is his own summons eating him? It must be some kind of-' Right then the toad disappeared, resulting in even more smoke. '-escape plan...' She finished with an edge of disappointment to her mental voice.

"Hinata, what is he doing?" Kushina asked as everyone got ready.

"You can relax, he escaped." Hinata confessed, not happy about it. "He somehow summoned a toad that took him out of here. I can't see him anywhere in my range."

"He must have escaped to the toad territory." Kushina noted, then clenched her fist. "Dammit, we should have just killed him! Now Namikaze will know about us! Dammit dammit dammit!"

"Luckily he doesn't know everything." Naruto pointed out. "He doesn't know we've got help, he doesn't know what we've become, and he doesn't know what we're really doing. He only knows we're alive and aware Namikaze is up to something."

Kushina nodded. "Kids, from now on we're upping your training. With the element of surprise gone, we have to work on strength and strategy, and hopefully use surprise when we can find it. Yugito, Bee, I'm entrusting you two to watch over the other jinchuuriki. You said you had the perfect hiding place for them?"

Bee nodded. "Yes, the perfect spot to not get caught. Trust me, Killer Bee, when I say it's hot and got what ya need and ya sought."

Kushina tensed her mouth for a moment. "Do you prepare all your answers ahead of time or do you just rhyme by accident?"

"It's a gift." Bee answered.

"More like a curse from where I'm standing." Yugito groaned, rolling her eyes. "What Sir Rhyme-a-lot is trying to say is we've got a safe haven in mind. A place no one can get to without already knowing where it is, and even then the location always changes so tracking it is nearly impossible. And even if by chance some enemy does manage to get to it, we wouldn't be their only threat."

"Let's hope it's enough. Fortunately Namikaze's group is only prepared to fight jinchuuriki one at a time. Several at once should be too much for them." Kushina noted. "We'll check up on you guys every once in a while. For now though, I need to get these two in better shape for the fight to come."

Back in Myoboku, the toad region of the summons realm, Jiraiya was released from his toad's stomach. "That was a close one. Thanks Gamamio."

"No problem." The big toad replied then bounded off, normally only summoned when Jiraiya needed a very quick escape.

"Wait! I still can't move too well." Jiraiya called out, but got no response. 'Great, Minato is not going to be happy about this. That bitch is back, and apparently she's the reason the brat's gone AWOL. Even if fate is on his side, Minato's going to have to take them out first, and she's not going to make it easy. I need to tell him and Sensei so both can prepare, and then go see if I can find Tsunade, once I can move again. Damn that Hyuuga brat, her father should have had her aborted.'

Regardless of his opinion of Hinata, it still would take him roughly an hour to recover from her juuken. 'This is going to be a long night.'

Back in Shobikou Naruto was put right to work on meditating along with Hinata. The purpose of which was for improved awareness of their chakra and surroundings along with controlling their heart rates and breathing, beneficial for surviving deadly blows if they ever got any. But for Naruto it had a deeper purpose, obtaining the powers of his rinnegan.

Not fully aware how he does it, Naruto found himself in his mindscape, fox features revealed. Instead of a dank sewer like the first time he met Kyuubi, he was in an open white area where nothing could be seen and the ground he stood upon looked like white water instead of actual ground.

"You have returned, young one. Are you ready for the next path?" A voice asked Naruto, the source unseen but sounded a bit muffled.

"I am, but can you tell me who you are? Do I have someone else sealed in me besides Kurama-sensei?" Naruto asked. The voice all around him chuckles but not a taunting away, more like a innocent way.

"No, but thank you for saying someone rather than something." The voice said, one that Naruto at least knew was male if nothing else. "The way to obtain the second path of your doujutsu will be in principle no different than how you obtained the first. But the powers of the second path are different, and thus the trial to acquire and control them will be different as well. Are you ready?"

Naruto was silent for a moment, but he did not look undecisive. "The first time I came here, you asked the same thing. Then made me take some test where I had to get somewhere in a place without gravity, and I had to learn to manipulate it to get where you wanted me to go. I could handle that, and I can handle this. So yes, I am ready."

"Very well." The voice said, then before Naruto a tomoe shape appeared in the water with a door emerging from it, marked with kanji that read Asura Path. Naruto went up, grabbed the tomoe-shaped knob, and opened it, seeing nothing but darkness yet he went in.

In her own mindscape, Hinata with fox features showing was sitting in a grassy field with a light breeze. It was rather peaceful, not unlike Shobikou itself. The only feature she could see in it was a large tree, and on the trunk formed a face, one that strangely looked like it had three eyes.

"Welcome back child." The tree spoke in a woman's voice.

"Hello again. Will we have more time to talk now?" Hinata asked.

"Yes, the only reason we didn't sooner was because the shock of my presence frightened you out of here. I see that is not the case now."

Hinata shook her head. "I doubt you intend to hurt me. but I must ask, are you a presence sealed inside me like how Kyuubi-sensei was sealed in Naruto-kun?"

"No child, I am not inside you in that sense, but you and I are connected. You may call me Usagi."

'A tree named Rabbit? Weird.' Hinata thought. "How are we connected Usagi-sama?"

"Call it fate if you will. While your former brother figure might have taken the concept too seriously and to a fanatical degree, the fact is some things are simply meant to be. Not all things, and it doesn't mean the outcomes are inescapable. Just because you and I are connected doesn't mean everything you do is because of my involvement."

Hinata nodded. "Good, that means it will be that much easier to stand up to Neji if I ever see him again."

"Our connection is different than how the boy you like and the nine-tailed fox are connected. I am no bijuu, I am something else entirely. And I am the reason you are immune to genjutsu. You are blessed with my eyes, the strongest byakugan to have ever existed." Usagi told her.

"So you are an ancient Hyuuga." Hinata noted, not sounding too surprised.

"Yes, I am. And there's more my eyes can do for you, the one to inherit my power. Would you like to learn them?" Usagi offered.

Hinata nodded. "Yes I would, but would my being half-demon affect my eyes?"

Usagi grinned. "My dear, if anything that unlocks their true potential. I had a little demon blood in me in my original life too. And I wasn't afraid to use it when people needed to be taught a lesson. The only question then is... are you?"

Hinata smiled. "Against the people I have in mind? I will show no mercy."

Usagi grinned more. "Good. That's what I like to hear."

Back in his current location, Namikaze was relaxing in a hot spring. "Hey Toko, come on it, the water's perfect."

"Not just yet Nato-dear, just finishing up the last parts of dinner before it needs to cook. Then I can come join you."

Namikaze shrugged. 'I can wait, she makes great food and is good in the sack. A perfect woman, much better than the other one night stands I've had. Especially that Kushina.'

His thoughts were interrupted by a toad appearing on a rock beside the hot spring. "Yo, Minato, red alert."

"This better be good Gamakichi."

"It's not good, but it's very important." The orange toad replied. "Jiraiya was out checking out Kumo's jinchuuriki for your group, and he found something more interesting. He says and I quote 'I found Kushina and the missing brat of hers'."

Namikaze jolted so fast he nearly tripped and collapsed in the spring. "Care to say that again?"

"He said he found that kid you're looking for, and he's with some woman named Kushina he didn't seem too happy about. Who is she?" Gamakichi repeated.

"Are you positive he said that name? Kushina?"

"Yep, he made it very clear I got that name and told you. Do you know her?"

Namikaze was fuming so much that it was a wonder the hot spring wasn't boiling from it. 'Kushina? That lousy whore! How can she be alive? It's not possible! Sensei has to be wrong, but why would he insist it's her when he knows she's dead? Whoever this person is, they took my weapon from me, and they will die for it. And if it is her, then I'll make sure even the Edo Tensei can't bring her back.'

"Everything okay out there?" Toko called out.

"Not quite." He called back, then looked to Gamakichi. "Did he tell you anything else?"

"Yeah, he said the boy is aware of your plan for him and intends to stop you."

Namikaze laughed. "Oh, that boy thinks he can stop me? The best trained ninja from Iwa couldn't stop me and he's nothing but the village retard. A blind man with a senbon in his teeth has a better chance at beating me than he does. Destiny has always been on my side, he should save himself the trouble and just give me Kyuubi."

"If Kyuubi is what you want from him, why did you give it to him in the first place?" The orange toad asked.

"Only because I couldn't replicate the Uzumaki's ability to contain the fox for myself. So I settled for obtaining the powers to control the fox while I needed an Uzumaki to hold it for me. Kushina was too tough for me to control at the time, so I needed a child which would be easier to control. Think of him as a mere storage unit for the fox until I need it, and if I can weaponize him until then, all the better. Unfortunately that's changed, so instead of playing to his naivety now I will simply find him and take the fox out of him, along with his beating heart for full closure."

"Jiraiya said he was in Kumo." Gamakichi pointed out.

"Maybe, but even Kushina's not stupid enough to stay there now that she's been found. Best for me to go to Shimo no Kuni to cut off their escape route to somewhere else. Tell him to go get Tsunade ready, she'll want to be ready for this encounter."

"Actually... Jiraiya mentioned that Kushina told him that she killed Tsunade." Gamakichi added.

"What?" Namikaze asked. "She killed Tsunade? Impossible. Tsunade is much stronger than she ever was, even with Kyuubi helping her. Without the fox, she's nothing." Standing there, he could only conclude Kushina must have lied since it was hard to believe that Tsunade would be dead. 'With her dead her skills are lost and she was the best person to have train the future medics for the upcoming war.'

"Then why make it a point to go after her?" Gamakichi asked. "If this Kushina is truly nothing, then wouldn't going after her be pointless?"

"It's a matter of pride. No one I've ever wanted dead has fought me and lived to tell about it. I refuse to let her be the one who breaks that for me. Not to mention she has the boy which I need soon enough anyway. Taking him from her will be perfect."

"But didn't you tell your group that with the Mizukage jinchuuriki dead it would be pointless to acquire any more jinchuuriki?" Gamakichi asked.

"It would be pointless to acquire them all, but collecting one more like this wouldn't be a bad idea." Namikaze clarified, finishing off with a sinister snicker that grew into a truly nefarious laugh.

In the dark room, Naruto could barely see anything. 'It looks like I'm in a large steel room. What I am supposed to do here?'

The room got lighter, then an orange flame flickered on the far wall. From out of the flame emerged a metal arm that looked like an iron skeleton. Muscles started to grow on it, and another arm appeared followed by a head, like some kind of creature was crawling out of the fire as if it were a hole in the wall.

'Alright, I must have to beat this thing.' Naruto thought, getting into a stance.

Half of the creature was out, up to the waist with the lower half still concealed in the flames. The creature looked like a skinless human wearing metal armor like a samurai with lots of places exposed, and it looked ready to claw Naruto apart. But Naruto looked ready to do the same. It roared like a monster, and the walls and ceiling of the room split apart into steel blocks, thousands of them, that scattered around, putting Naruto in an endless white void with only a small bit of floor to stand on.

Naruto smirked. 'Just like before, one of those cubes has the power I need inside it.' When acquiring the power of the Heaven Path, Naruto had to jump from block to block in an identical void where gravity was never consistent, until he found the one block that allowed him to control gravity to get around as he desired. 'One of these must have my next skill, and I'm guessing it's a combat one if I need to put to use against that creep.'

The skinless creature quickly attacked Naruto, and he jumped away to one of the nearest blocks, landing on it carefully. First thing he noticed was that there was no issue with gravity this time, but he was already sure that wasn't going to be a problem here anyway. He put his palm on the block and it turned black.

'Not this one, though it wouldn't- Whoa!' He had to stop his thoughts when a storm of curved daggers burst from the right palm of the creature at him, forcing him to jump to another block to escape being skewered. 'No think to think, just find it and dodge until you do.'

The process of jumping from one cube to another trying to find his new rinnegan power, while avoiding the various attacks of the monster there with him continued until Naruto lost all sense of time. It didn't help that there still seemed to be no end in sight to the blocks, and the creature had been able to get a few hits on him while he hadn't been able to attack back.

'There's got to be an easier way.' Naruto thought, jumping to another cube only to see it wasn't the one he needed. He took a chance to look around. 'Do any of these things stand out? Is there one different than the others?'

The creature tried to crush him with it's left claw, not giving Naruto much time to check. But rather than test ever block as soon as he got to it, the whiskered boy chose to stay on the move and keep looking around, trying to observe the right place to go rather than keep using an ineffective process of elimination.

After a bit he got behind the skinless monstrosity, and saw one box that just seemed unique to him. Like it was slightly tinted a different shade of grey, more ashen than metallic, only noticeable if you were trying to see it. 'That must be it.' He thought, rushing to it.

As soon as he landed on that one block, chains burst out of the creature's back and ensnared him. But touching the box made it glow white, and it spread to Naruto. The white glow snapped the chains and made the creature recoil as if it burned it.

When the glow faded Naruto stood bare-chested with two extra arms coming out of each of his shoulders giving him six total, another face on each side of his head giving him six eyes to see through, and some metal plates covering some joints like his shoulders and elbows, with a metal ring encircling his lower torso like a belt.

Naruto looked at himself as best he could. 'This is strange, but I bet it's more useful than it looks.'

The creature turned around, but now Naruto was ready to fight back. He pounced at one of the exposed parts of the body, more specifically the left arm, and tried to hit it with all three right fists he now had. Right before he could hit, metal plating appeared on the creature's arm and deflected his fists, hurting his hands too.

The right hand came at Naruto from behind but thanks to the extra eyes Naruto saw it and avoided it, running up the arm towards the face. At the monster's left shoulder gun barrels emerged and fired kunais at him in quick succession. Naruto had to duck and press himself against the arm to avoid them, but metal cables came out and wrapped him up.

The right hand grabbed him and the cables merged with it, taking him from the left arm to hold him in front of the creature. Naruto knew he had to think fast. 'Okay, whatever this thing is, it has a lot of weak spots but a good defense. And a lot of weapons but not much aim. Maybe the point is to be quick enough to get around it and counter its attacks, but first I need to get free.' He tried to surge his chakra, but the cables only tightened.

The left hand morphed into a buzzsaw and inched closer to Naruto. 'I got to stop it, but how? C'mon, do something.'

As if responding to his command, the metal ring around his abs stretched and morphed into a serrated steel tail, but it didn't do anything else. 'Alright, that will do.' Naruto thought, then made it cut the cables holding him in place, making him fall to the floor left behind from earlier.

The buzzsaw went back to him, but before it could hit Naruto, his whole body became covered in plated metal, damaging the blade and breaking the teeth off. Grinning, Naruto pumped his arms. 'It's like my body has become a weapon now. What all can it do?' He looked at his hands and imagined one of them changing like the creature's hand had. His primary right hand changed into a sword right before his eyes.

"My whole body is a weapon, and you are my target." Naruto declared, pointing all six hands at the creature. Testing out his ability to find from a distance, he imagined his limbs as blades and long enough to hit the monster from where he stood.

Each hand changed into a blade like the first one, but they didn't stretch out like rubber. Rather the arm actually split between the wrist and elbow and shot out like a projectile, each tethered to the rest of the arm by a steel cable and moving fast. Two hit the eyes, one hit the throat, one hit the heart, one hit the right lung between exposed ribs, and the last one hit the inside of the beast's mouth.

The creature yelled from the hits then burst into flames, then the entire room was up in flames too. In the flames the creature thrashed around as if trying to get out of it, but it slowly sank into the heart of the pyre. After a moment it cleared, and Naruto was back in the water-filled room he had started in, with the door sinking into it. His body was also back to normal kitsune hanyou form.

"Congratulations, you figured it out." The voice said.

"That was a tough one this time." Naruto commented.

"Learning your talents is easy, it's putting them to use that is the true difficulty. You have to practice to fully master your abilities."

"Can you tell me more about this skill?" Naruto asked.

"The Asura Path is meant to be offensive and defensive. With it your body is any weapon you want, but no weapon is perfect, and every weapon is only as strong as the one who wields it. You must learn to be creative with what you create, and treat your weapons as an extensive of your body, even more than those that claim they already have."

"I'm willing to work on it. Are there any limits to it?"

"You will have to discover that for yourself." The voice said.

Before Naruto could even open his mouth, he was forced out of his mindscape.

After recovering and getting an eyepatch, Jiraiya reappeared in Hi no Kuni. 'I must find Tsunade. She can't be dead. And if she is, nothing will stop me from killing Kushina myself.'

Easier said than done, since he wasn't sure where to find her. In fact, he barely knew where to find Tsunade. All he could do was go to the last town he saw her in and track her down the hard way.

After asking some bartenders and various other contacts of his, Jiraiya was days later led to the town where Tsunade was last seen. No one had seen her in weeks, but no one could tell him where she went off to.

'A dead end, the trail's gone cold. Tsunade's managed to sneak out of village's unnoticed before, many times, but often her assistant leaves behind some clue for me to follow. But even that's missing. Does that mean she's still here? Or did the clue just vanish?'

Having nothing else to do, Jiraiya started to leave the village for the next one.


On the path out of town, he stopped, and looked around. Emerging from the forest was a sight for sore eyes for him. "Shizune?"

The disciple of Tsunade was running to him wearing tattered clothes and covered in dirt and scrapes. She looked like a classic escaped victim of torture or imprisonment. "Thank Kami you showed up! It was horrible! That woman... she killed Tsunade-sama right in front of me and smeared my face with her blood!"

"It's true? Tsunade is dead?" Jiraiya asked.

Shizune nodded. "Yes, and I don't know how, but it was that Kushina woman who killed my uncle. But how can she be alive? I was right there as she died when Namikaze-sama sealed the Kyuubi in his son."

"I don't know, but I saw her too. Something's going on, that woman must have had some kind of trick in store for if someone killed her, though such a thing should be impossible. Where were you?"

"I don't really know. She abducted me and did horrible things, trying to get me to talk. But I didn't. And she threw me to the wolves, literally, she threw me into a forest for wolves to kill him. Next thing I knew I was here and you were here." Shizune explained.

Jiraiya frowned. "And she has the nerve to call us the bad guys. We're the ones blessed by the gods, good and bad have nothing to do with it. But enough about that, did you get any information on them?"

"Some." She replied with a nod. "I found she's training the boy and wants to kill Namikaze-sama, but she has no idea where to start. All her hopes are pinned on the element of surprise, which we can ruin. Once he learns the truth, she's as good as defeated."

Jiraiya smiled. "Yes, she is. For now, let's get you taken care of. Maybe back to Konoha for a bit."

Shizune nodded. 'He fell for it.'