Whoa, surprise early update time! If you couldn't tell, Tsunade's my favorite character from the Naruto series, so please forgive me if a lot of the updates center around her. She's just such a deep, riveting character that I can't resist loving her. This chapter takes place right after Pain destroys Konoha and includes dialogue mostly from chapters 430 and 431. Without further ado, enjoy!

With a loud boom, the large stone hiding Tsunade fell to the ground. She blinked against the sunlight and felt her heart skip a beat. Her eyes widened in horror and her jaw hung slack as she attempted to cope with the sight before her.

Konoha was gone, reduced to nothing more than a huge pile of smoking rubble. "Wh – What?" The unbelievable sight soon hit her harder than the force of her own strength. She gnashed her teeth together and growled furiously, "Damn it . . . I'll never forgive you. . . I'll never forgive you Pain!"

She felt warm tears form in her eyes, but they didn't fall. Even if they did, she was too angry to be ashamed. The ANBU operative turned to look at her, awaiting her next move. Her breaths were short and shallow, but this battle was far from over.

The ANBU helped her to her feet. "Lady Tsunade –"

She would have never dreamed of saying her next words, but then again, she had never dreamed of becoming Hokage. That dream was Nawaki, Dan, and Naruto, but here she was. Against all odds she had claimed the seat of Hokage for herself. Forget whatever she used to utter against her village, it needed her now more than ever. "Take me to Pain."

"Lady Fifth! You can't –"

"I didn't ask for an argument! That's an order!" Tsunade interrupted forcefully. She was certain that everything in the ANBU screamed to resist, but he quickly led the way to the large crater that Pain had created.

Along the way, she caught glimpses of faces filled with pain, suffering, and despair. If she only had more time to defend against Pain's attack, maybe things wouldn't have turned out this way, maybe there would still be a village left to defend.

What was she thinking? Of course there was a village left to defend. Konoha's buildings did not make it a village; the people living there made it one. She had saved them from certain death, but it was still her duty to protect them.

When they approached the crater, Tsunade looked down inside. As she did, five of Pain's paths materialized out of the air. She spotted Naruto and instinctively jumped in front of him. She could not let this boy die here, not after how far he had come. After all, he was going to be Hokage someday.

She landed in front of Naruto and straightened. Her shortened breaths were becoming harder and harder to ignore, but she spoke as loudly and strongly as she could, only vaguely aware that the villagers were staring at her in shock.

"I am the Fifth Hokage –" she ignored the cry of the ANBU agent as he landed behind her, "– and I will never forgive you . . . for trampling on the treasure, the dreams . . . of those who came before me! As Hokage, I will put a stop to you here and now!"

The cold, indifferent stare Pain gave her seriously frightened her, but she held her ground. When he spoke, he sounded almost bored, "Looks like you understand a little of pain now . . . But . . . I have no use for you."

One of the paths suddenly lunged forward and flew straight for Tsunade. He grinned, "The one I want –"

She could only gape at the approaching monster. His hand was aimed directly for her neck and as he approached, jagged blades stretched towards her, screaming for her blood. She could only bring up her arms in an attempt to brace herself for what would surely be her death.


A crash echoed through the crater as Naruto smashed the path into the ground. The destroyed metal smoldered, but other than that, the path showed no signs of life.

She opened her eyes and gaped in shock at the power of the young boy before her. It was the same power Minato and Jiraiya had possessed.

"There's no need for Konoha's Hokage to deal with the likes of these guys. You just go enjoy a nice cup of tea or something."

"Naruto . . ." she whispered, still awestruck.

Any words that were said reached her ears, but she couldn't comprehend. With mostly all of her chakra gone, it was like her mind had started to shut down. Only when Naruto said her name did she snap back to reality. She strained to listen to the boy's next words.

"Granny, leave this to me! Tell the villagers not to interfere! It'll just make it harder to fight if I have to protect them at the same time."

"All right," she managed. "Then take Katsuyu with you, she should be useful." She pulled the slug from her jacket and added, "She has Intel on them."

The toad Fukasaku took Katsuyu from her hand and landed next to Naruto.

She began to feel the edges of unconsciousness tugging at her. She fought to stay awake, but knew that it was a losing battle. When Naruto spoke again, she struggled to comprehend.

"Maybe this isn't the best time to ask, but . . . now that I have natural energy, I can tell . . . I can feel everyone's chakra. Did Kakashi leave the village on a mission?"

Gamakichi lifted her off the ground. She had heard what he had said, but couldn't bring herself to answer, not when the situation was so bleak and dangerous.

"I get it . . ." he said quietly. "Go, Gamakichi."

She felt a rushing sensation of moving, but nothing else. Just as she was about to slip out of the world, she heard a panicked shout of her name. She recognized the voice as Sakura's and said her apprentice's name weakly. Longing to comfort the stressed girl, she muttered, "It's all right now."

The last remaining chakra faded from her body as Sakura lifted her hand. The wrinkled, roughened skin she strived to hide appeared and she lost grip on the world around her, fading away into the darkness.

Thank you to all of you wonderful readers out there, as well as those who have reviewed and added this to their alert lists/favorites. It means a lot to us writers, and I'm sure you all know that!