Prologue: Oh snap, shit's gonna go down at some point or another maybe.
I don't own Naruto, any of its characters, or any references in this story. If I did, horrible things would happen. Neither do I own any other anime that I reference. I do own all OC's and new Jutsu in the story as well as every ounce of pure awesome spawned by this.
No one owns the log though. The log owns you.
o. o. o.
Two males stood casually at the center of the newly made wasteland. The air was absolutely flooded with residual power to the point that anyone with sensory abilities would be unable to detect anything more than a few feet from them. The land was scarred, lifeless, and absolutely flat. The fact that the earth was completely made out of stone made no difference as it too was cut into without discrimination.
One of the two men there was almost six feet tall wearing a black trench coat with long dark brown hair in a ponytail and sunglasses that prevented the world from seeing his eyes. With his cargo pants, t-shirt and boots, he was slightly odd looking but otherwise appeared quite simple and casual.
He was infamous among the higher deities of many if not all universes for, among other things, possessing the ability to end everything should he will it. The Cursed Memory. The God of None. He is an absolute existence of the greatest quality and influence in a human's body. His continued living is an insult to the actual gods of the multiverse as he, originally born a mundane human with no history or unique qualities of any sort, is now not only beyond their influence, but above it… with the exception of a few rather specific gods.
He is also terrified of Chinese food, addicted to and experienced in various forms of sex, and enjoys slipping small pebbles into people's shoes when they aren't paying attention in his free time because he thinks it's funny.
The other young man with him appeared to be in his mid teens and reached five and a half feet. Much like his companion his clothing was not that unique in appearance with his dark tan pants, long sleeved white shirt under his hooded black sweater. The stained orange fire spiral on the front of his sweater was a bit eye catching, but otherwise nothing out of the ordinary. His hands however, were encompassed in furry burnt orange and black fingerless gloves that extended up his arms and under the sleeves of his white shirt.
What were more outstanding were the teen's facial features. Three deep and distinct whisker like scars donned each of his cheeks, under his animal like slit eyes, each of which were a deep and endless blue. If the eyes were the window to the soul, a person would say that this boy's soul was wild, chaotic, free, but surprisingly deep and possessed an underlying strength that could not be measured with a simple glance. To complete the look his head was covered with a thick spiky mane of blond hair, long enough that gravity managed to pull down the bigger spikes down towards earth, but short enough that nothing would swing around wildly or impair his vision.
This young man was one of many possible versions of Naruto Uzumaki that existed in the infinite expanse of the multiverse. This one in particular had the unique luck, for better or for worse, to catch the attention of the former male and was his apprentice. Despite his appearance, he was closer to being twenty than sixteen, however due to the situation when he met his master, he had been forced to go back through time to gain a second chance at the events in his life. Now known as the Feral Gale, the teen had already obtained a significant list of achievements in his new life that easily dwarfed what he had accomplished in his old one.
And despite said long list, he knew very well that the real challenge was coming all too soon.
"Soooooooo…" Ghost drawled as he lazily looked around at the seemingly deal land around them. "… Gotta admit, I'm impressed."
"I thought you'd might." Naruto panted slightly. His stamina levels without the aid of the demon inside of him were already absurd when compared to the standard of the other ninja in his home universe, but even as winded as he was performing his strongest technique, the destructive output of it was simply put fucking ridiculous. "Thanks for keeping me out of the blast radius by the way."
"Anytime. Don't want you to die for good before you get to humiliate yourself some more after all." The immortal shrugged as he extended his senses and whistled as a sign of being impressed. "Damn. From what I can tell, you managed to get this thing to reach out a good distance. I do believe that you also managed to distort some of the timespace here as an aftereffect. Not bad at all."
"And then there's the shockwave to take into account. Those tend to do almost as much damage as the explosions after they get big enough." The teen sighed as he massaged his hands to lessen the ache in them. "… You're gonna seal away a good part of my power aren't you?"
"Obviously." Ghost snorted. "It would be no fun at all if you could go buck wild on everyone right off the bat. You're already good enough without Kyubi and Sage Mode to take on most of your world's S ranks on even ground. Sorry, but you're just going to have to make due without your demon, sage, or demonic sage states for a while." He sighed dejectedly. "And here I was trying to make you not strong enough to prevent this from happening. Such a shame."
"You're a saint." The blonde rolled his eyes but clearly not bothered or surprised by the turn of events. "Kurama's somewhat pissed about you sealing him away. If you block him off completely, I can't let him out on occasion to get some fresh air."
The elder male waved his hand lazily. "Meh. Give me a bit. I'll come up with some loophole for him before I make the seal. I'm not a complete asshole after all."
"No, you are. You just prefer people suffering out in the open where everyone can see more than in some cramped place where only a handful of others know what's happening." The Feral Gale smirked, revealing one of his slightly longer canines in the process.
"Ah. There are few versions of humiliation that are more satisfying than that of the public variety." Ghost sighed aridly, not denying his companion's accusation in the slightest.
"The scary thing is that you exercise most of them on the people you care about the most." Naruto stated in a monotone voice, no doubt due to the fact that he himself had been subject to the man's whimsical chaos on far more than a few occasions.
"It's not my fault that said group of individuals are frequently the ones that are most available for such mockery." The immortal pouted childishly before shaking his head and straightening himself. With an almost invisible flick of his wrist, he tore a small gap into the world itself several feet away from him, large enough for a human to walk through. "Come on minion. Let's get to the shack and get set up. It's time for us to bring our special brand of crazy back home."
A rather hungry grin made its way onto the Uzumaki's face. "About time. After all the crap you put me through, it will be nice to be in a world that's within my skill and power level again."
"It wasn't THAT bad…" Ghost mumbled sheepishly as he pressed his fingers together.
"You put me through training regiments, situations, warzones, violent creature nests, and twisted sections of pseudo reality that were designed to, and did, kill me, only to bring me back from the beyond a moment later. And then before I could regain feeling in my body, you threw me into previously mentioned deathtraps again." Naruto stated in a dead tone.
"… You looked like you were having fun after a certain point though." The immortal shrunk childishly under his student's lethal gaze.
We both know that's in fact a bad thing. Not a good thing Ero-nii. Bad. Very, very bad. In addition to that hell, you forced me to hijack giant robots with my bare hands while said giant robots and their pilots actively tried to kill me…"
"Chicks dig giant robots."
"… Made the population of a small society believe I was the next incarnation of a demon god…"
"In my defense, you have a demon in you and you ARE being taught by a god like man person thing."
"… Convinced an entire world that I was a sexual deviant…"
"… Then there was the zombie incident…"
"You're going to have to be a bit more specific. Was it the natural, the black magic, the vampire, or the biohazard zombie incident?"
"… Somehow made me the figurehead of not one but three separate and unrelated planet wide anarchist uprisings in a single night…"
"A new personal record. Viva la revolution!"
"Swapped my gender no less than seven times…"
"That complaint is null and void. You were doing that long before I got to you. Besides, at least you look good as a chick. My boobs are lopsided when I change. That's like, having one ball bigger than the other. It's just not right."
"… Got me arrested and stuck in a jail where they hold secret super powered fights to the death every other day…"
"Hey you learned some solid tricks there."
"… Tried to hook up my dad with a tentacle monster…"
"Don't even try to convince me you weren't slightly curious about where that was going."
"… Then there was that "Ultimate Showdown" fiasco…"
""Of Ultimate Destiny." Get the name right. I worked very hard on setting that thing up."
"… Sold my organs to aliens as delicacies…"
"You grew them back from your regeneration and we made a great profit from it."
"… Froze me in my fox form and then donated me as a class pet to a middle school for magical girls that were all having angst issues that all could have been solved by a remotely trained shrink…"
"That, I admit may have been a bit much."
"… Abandoned me at that Ryuzanpaku place for six months after sealing away pretty much all of my chakra, where I am still convinced the masters there took the same educational teaching courses you did given how many times I nearly died…"
"You know as well as I do that Lee would have killed to get a piece of that action."
"… And you framed me for the murder of some royal bastard groom on his wedding day by dumping me into the main guest area drenched in literally all of his blood, followed by dumping his body on top of me. Drenched in his blood. In the middle of all the guests for the wedding. And his mother."
"… I will not apologize for art."
"Were you even the one that killed the guy?"
"Surprisingly enough no."
"So you, on a whim, drained a freshly murdered body of its blood, dumped it on your apprentice, and then dropped said apprentice in front of murdered man's friends and family just for kicks?"
"That and I didn't like the entire family in general. Nobles and royals in most worlds tend to be ignorant dicks and the almost bride to be was too good to waste on them. This way, the guy who actually did the killing would never get caught. It was my good deed of the day."
"Coming from the guy who pinned said murder on his innocent apprentice."
"I never said I wasn't a dick too."
"I am so going to kill you."
It should be noted that at this point, the jinchuriki was glaring murderously down at the tiny elder male who now appeared to be at most a twentieth of his original size.
The blonde began rubbing his temple, very frustrated. "And don't even get me started on that fiasco involving the other versions of me from an entirely different MULTIVERSE."
"Hey I wasn't at fault for that once, it was all your alternate self's doing. I told you before, gods in general tend to be major pricks when it comes to dealing with humans, regardless of when and where they are from. … On a side note, I'm still gonna have to block those particular memories so that you don't use the info you got from that shit storm to solve your own world slash universe."
The teen paused for a moment, his righteous anger giving way for something more solemn. "… I'd like to at least remember that I saw more than a few good friends die. It would suck if I was hit with flashbacks at a crappy time." The air went still as something seemed to command it to stop moving. "If possible, I'd also like to remember that I helped fuck over the stain that killed them in the first place. You know. For closure."
"Yeah yeah. I know what you mean." The immortal sighed as he returned to normal size again, not at all disturbed by the unusual phenomena happening to the air and began to pick his nose. "Trust me. I've done the whole "murder violently for revenge but still sorta doing it for the general greater good even though you don't really care for the latter" thing too. Several times in fact. To be honest though, it kinda loses its thrill after about the third time."
The elder turned to the portal in front of them. "So you wanna go straight back home after packing or do you feel like one last massive party with the guys back at the Big House? They seemed to be pretty eager to host you a good luck bash."
The blonde's irritated expression melted into something more tired. "Nah. Those things wipe me out, and that's if a fight doesn't break out and I end up bedridden for a week. I can party with them when I get back. Let's just go already. It'll be good to be home where things are a bit saner." With that he jumped through the tear in reality and disappeared.
Ghost shrugged as his student vanished through the portal and turned his attention to the booger he dislodged from his nose. "Don't see how you can claim your homeworld is sane when you worship a log of all things. Plus there's all the children soldiers and horrible sense of logic that everyone has. Oh well. To each his own."
The booger suddenly burst into black flames, constantly burning on the tip of his index finger.
"Gotta admit though, the kid has come a long way. Probably doesn't even need to use sage mode or the furball's power until Pain, Madara, or the Jubi shows up."
With a light flick, the small flame dislodged itself from the man's finger and flew lazily through the air. By the time it connected with the ground, the immortal and the rip in the air had both disappeared, just in time to avoid the entire area become immolated in a black inferno that spread out for miles in each direction at near instantaneous speeds…
And extinguish just as quickly to reveal a massive forest that stretched out as far as the eye could see several hundred feet higher in the air on top of an equivalent amount of earth and complete with local wildlife going about its business without a care or worry…
It was if the hour the pair had been there had never existed to begin with.
o. o. o.
In a cave somewhere in the Elemental Nations:
"Well well." Kisame chuckled as he looked at the other ghostly members of Akatsuki in front of him. "Looks like we're all back together. So are things finally about to get interesting, or does it mean that someone somewhere screwed up big time again?"
"Oi. Why are you looking at me when you say that? Hn?" Deidara's transparent image grunted irritably.
"Probably because you're the least subtle one of us here next to Hidan." Kakuzu grunted. "And the reason why he isn't being accused is because my idiot partner is neither capable of mass destruction nor able to make anyone think he is anything more than a psychotic religious nut."
"Jashin-sama will have your soul! I swear it!" Said religious nut shouted in clear rage.
"Case and point." Sasori grunted.
"Quiet." Nagato ordered calmly from the body of his friend Yahiko. "All of you have performed your duties as expected. Do not start to ruin things now." He opened his eyes. "It is time to begin our main project and start gathering the biju."
"Oh?" The swordsman in the group grinned savagely. "It's time for that already?"
"Yes." Pain confirmed. "We have prepared enough that we have enough resources and information to handle our main operations. The Ichibi through Hachibi have all been identified and located to an extent. Zetsu has already obtained the Rokubi and is in the process of delivering it to one of our bases for extraction as we speak. You will all be called to participate in the process within the next few days."
"The Rokubi?" The bomber grunted with some mild distaste. "That's the slug right? How boring. Thankfully I didn't have to bother wasting my art on something like that."
"Your ignorance never ceases to astound me." The puppetmaster growled in irritation.
"Oi boss. What about the Kyubi?" Hidan asked skeptically. "Last time we talked about that brat, he managed to take out the Gobi by himself before he apparently disappeared off the face of the map."
"He has yet to make an appearance since the Gobi incident. However, rumor has it that the Kyubi will be returning to Konoha very soon." The black half of Zetsu grunted.
"No doubt the kid is probably a handful by now." The white half smirked amusedly. "He was already quite a person to watch three years ago. I'm curious to see how much trouble he can cause now. Should be fun."
"In order for our plan to succeed, we need to seal the Kyubi last." Pain stated calmly. "By the time we capture the other biju, he will no doubt have made his appearance in the Elemental Nations once more, and it is then that I shall take him myself. There is no need to concern yourself with his capture."
"What a shame." Kisame sighed. "I wanted to see how much the brat had improved, and get a little revenge for humiliating me in the past."
"A shame it is." Kakuzu nodded. "No doubt if you encountered him again, you would have greater need of my services than you had before."
"What of the main villages?" Itachi spoke up quietly, but instantly drawing attention the instant he did so. It was not often that he spoke up after all. "There have been rumors of us circulating for a while."
"Oh?" Hidan snickered. "Don't tell me that the mighty Itachi is scared?"
"Hidan. Shut up." His partner growled. "Itachi has a point. Over the past couple of years, there has been an unusual increase of notable newcomers make it to the bingo books despite the fact that the villages have been slowly demilitarizing. Suna for example has spawned the Sora no Mai (Dancer of the Sky) and the Kuro Suna (Black Sand). Not to mention its new Kazekage, who happens to be the Jinchuriki of the Ichibi, has both considerable control over his beast and a tremendous terrain advantage while in the desert."
"I've heard that Kiri's managed to spawn a new generation of the Seven Swordsmen." Kisame chuckled eagerly. "Incomplete and weak they might be, what with being made out of brats and all, but it would be best not to underestimate them with their swords being what they are."
Kakuzu continued. "Then there's the Tsuchikage's granddaughter, who's managed to shape up pretty nicely if the rumors are to be believed. She didn't inherit his Gekkai Touta, but her ninjtusu's supposedly top notch regardless. Also there's word that the Yonbi's container has managed to get complete control over his beast too, so his threat level has jumped up considerably among our targets. It should also be noted that since the Gobi incident the general shinobi populace has increased its dislike for Konoha and motivated itself to increase its quality despite Onoki's efforts to calm them down." He snorted and shook his head. "The poor fool. He's far past his time to deal with such idiots. I almost feel bad for what's going to happen to him."
"The fuck are you talking about Kakuzu? You're older than he is!" Hidan snorted.
"He's got you there." Kisame snickered, as did Deidara and Zetsu.
"What about Kumo and Konoha?" Pain asked calmly, not at all responding to the jabs his subordinates were throwing left and right.
Kakuzu paused for a moment but not taking his eyes off of the one he was most likely to maim once the meeting was over. "Kumo hasn't produced anyone significant recently, but like Iwa the general quality of their shinobi has increased a bit, mostly due to higher quality equipment and supplies. While it doesn't seem like much, I must remind you that Kumo's military in general was the least weakened by the demilitarization and as such they have in general the strongest standard forces out of the five nations right now. The Raikage for that matter is not one that can be handled easily, and word is that at least one of their jinchuriki, either the Nibi or the Hachibi has absolute control over their biju. If it's the Hachibi, we may need to approach him with a great deal more caution than the others." He paused and closed his eyes. "As for Konoha, that's an entire story in itself."
"I believe I can offer some insight on this." Sasori stepped in. "Out of the five villages, Konoha's seen the most change lately. Externally it hasn't changed much. They still worship a piece of wood as much as Hidan worships whatever the hell he worships, and they still believe in their will of fire. But internally there has been much going on. The quality of their younger ranks has jumped greatly, as have their equipment. While neither are of great threat to us, it will none the less prove to make them more irritating to deal with should we not take note of this. More importantly though are the names that have been coming up from there recently."
"You'd be happy to know Kisame that your old friend Zabuza is now considered an S ranked shinobi like us." Kakuzu stated factually and pretended to ignore the slight twitch in the shark man's eye at the mention of his old ex-comrade. "But in addition to him, there are a few other names that have been sticking out lately. For example, the latest batch of Ino-Shika-Cho from Konoha has another nickname that they are known by. The Kuro-Majo-Yama (Black Witch Mountain)."
Deidara raised an eyebrow. "Kuro-Majo-Yama? I've heard of them. Un. Rumor has it that they mess with your head almost as bad as Itachi can. Sounds pretty obnoxious if you ask me."
"It's not." Sasori corrected. "There's a bounty out that rewards the one who can deliver them all at once a pay higher than some S ranks. Individually the Kuro Nara (Black Deer), the Nikoyaka Majo (Smiling Witch), and the Yamaou (Mountain King) all have bounties that border between B and A rank. Such a price wouldn't be given unless there was a good reason for doing so."
"Another team to be noted of is the rumored assassination squad." Kakuzu spoke up again. "There isn't much info on them, but word is that they're codenamed the Kajiya (Blacksmith), the Shirou Oni (White Demon), and the Musei Yajuu (Silent Beast). They've also supposedly taken out a good number of bounties and missing nin. Word is that they each use some very unique jutsu."
"Don't forget those two women that have been making quite a stir." Zetsu's white half grinned. "Orochimaru's old apprentice, the Hebi Okami (Snake Mistress) and Sanheimen no Hana (Flower of the Three Planes) have been quite popular lately."
"Humph. With all these nicknames coming out, I'm willing to put money on the idiots making up half of the things they say they've done just for the extra attention." Hidan rolled his eyes unimpressed.
"He's just jealous that he doesn't have one." Kisame muttered to Itachi who as expected stayed in character and didn't respond.
"Hey, what about Itachi's brother? Un?" Deidara spoke up with a smirk, trying to get a rise out of the person he hated the most in the group.
"A rank and a Jonin." Kakuzu replied without missing a beat. "No titles, but he is recognized as one of the more promising young members of Konoha's forces, next to the Black Deer and the Hyuuga Heiress."
"Ah, the Hime (Princess)." Sasori nodded. "I've heard of her. There's been talk that she's quite the piece, both in beauty and ability. There's also rumor that her eyes shine like the stars themselves. It would be a great boon if I could turn her into a part of my collection, though it may be best to let her age a bit to gain some more quality."
"I think you're too old for her. You're what, over twice her age?" Hidan snickered.
"What of the one responsible for the incident last year?" Nagato spoke up, instantly silencing another argument before it picked up steam. "Has there been any progress into discovering the identity of the culprit? What about his location?"
"Nothing." The eldest one there grunted from his mask, clearly not pleased with the current topic. "Whoever made the mess out of Ame is either extremely good at covering their tracks, or they must not come into contact with a lot of people on average. Possibly both. Any potential leads I had on the guy dried up before I could even get far. Honestly, Orochimaru was easier to track than this guy. The snake had a system that reached everywhere. No one knew more than they needed obviously, but you could at least get a direction to follow if you managed to get a hold of one of his followers. This guy on the other hand is clearly a loner and keeps it that way."
"As much as I dislike admitting it, I have had similar results on my end." Sasori stated in a dark tone. "Whoever this guy is, he's not to be taken lightly. The few I have confirmed that he's come in contact with more than once have had alterations made to their minds that wipe out their memory of him if he is brought up. It's something similar to what I do with my spies, but I know of no one else alive that is able to do something like this. The best I can think of is a highly trained medic shinobi, but there aren't any missing medic-nin of that caliber to my knowledge."
"I think I know of one or two, but it would take me time to track them down." Kakuzu replied.
"Make that a side priority while you finish up the last of your bounty hunting. There will not be as much time available once we begin hunting the Biju in masse." Nagato ordered with underlying killing intent that made everyone there fall in line. "I will not tolerate anyone making a move against me and get away with it so easily."
"I take it that you have something else in mind for Deidara and I." Sasori rasped curiously.
"You two are to obtain the Ichibi after we seal the Rokubi. While it is technically the weakest of the jinchuriki, its current location will make it significantly more difficult to obtain if it is expecting our arrival. Sasori's knowledge of Suna's defenses and Deidara's aerial combat ability will be essential for the task."
Kisame asked with a raised eyebrow. "The zombie bros and the art freaks have their fun little chores, but what about us?"
The Rinnegan user looked at the fire and water element specialists with a passing glance. "You two will come back to Ame to await further instructions. Depending on how things turn out with the other two groups your orders may change. It is a good position to start from regardless of what your new orders are."
"Haha." Deidara chuckled. "Looks like you just got benched. Such a shame. I guess you two just aren't important enough to be used for now."
"Zetsu." Nagato continued before Kisame made things worse. "I will tell you of your task later, though I believe that you already have an idea of what it entails."
"I have a good guess as to what it might be." The dark half of the man muttered ominously. "But are you sure you want to do this so soon? It might backfire…"
"No one knows what your abilities truly are." The leader argued calmly. "So long as you make sure that no one sees you, there should be no issue."
"Easier said than done." The white half snorted, but didn't bother to elaborate on the matter.
"Oi boss." Hidan spoke up much to everyone's displeasure. "When the hell are you going to make Konan do something? I've been with you guys for nearly three years now and I've still yet to see the bitch do jack other than show up whenever you do." He snorted. "Don't tell me that all she's good for is…"
The priest's tirade was cut short as an extremely heavy killing intent fell down in the cave as if the ceiling fell on top of everyone. Despite the fact that everyone in the meeting was an accomplished shinobi of renowned skill and ability, all of them would admit that their leader was by far the most powerful and dangerous one there.
"Once more you do not bother to contemplate the repercussions of what you say Hidan." Nagato stated in a dead even tone. Had there not been any killing intent flooding out of his person, the others would have sworn that he was talking to the man as he always did. "Rest assured that there will be repercussions for your lack of forethought…"
"Pain-sama." Konan spoke up, gaining the attention of everyone there as she spoke less than Itachi at the meetings. "Allow me to manage the punishment. I am after all the one he has grievances with. There is no need for you to bother with such a minor issue."
The image of the leader stared at the image of his partner for several moments before his rippled eyes closed and his intent died down. "Very well. You shall be the one responsible for his atonement. I trust that you will ensure that he remembers his lesson." He turned to the rest of the members of Akatsuki. "You all have your tasks." And with that, his image disappeared, quickly followed by Konan's.
The cave was silent for several moments before Deidara chuckled. "Sucks to be you Hidan. I expect you to be turned into an interesting piece of art by the time Konan's done with you. Un."
"For once I agree with my partner." Sasori nodded. "Even he is not foolish enough to question Konan's presence like that." With that the artists disappeared.
"You don't have my sympathy Hidan." Kisame snickered. "Even a retard would know that the person that stands by the boss' side the most would be strong enough to hold their own. Enjoy getting your ass kicked." He and Itachi disappeared seconds later.
"… Idiot." Both halves of Zetsu muttered at the same time before he vanished as well.
Hidan's image glared expectantly at Kakuzu's for several seconds before he finally lost his patience. "What? No comment about how I fucked up this time?"
The miser snorted. "No need to."
o. o. o.
Somewhere in the land of Fire:
Chaos reigned in the bandit camp as the inhabitants attempted to regain some sense of stability while their numbers were quickly being mowed down by one mean or another. Despite the fact that their leader had been a high ranking member of Oto before its collapse and had managed to train most of his men in basic shinobi techniques, the forces stood no chance against the opposition they faced.
On one side of the encampment, two figures bolted between the inhabitants there tearing out their sides, limbs, and other body parts en masse without slowing down in the slightest. While no part of the assault was lethal precisely, the assault was none the less effective as the wounded men and women there were either rendered helpless or occupying the time of the ones that weren't injured to try and gain medical aid. The few bandits there that were good enough to know a few offensive ninjutsu were worse than useless against the pair as their slow attacks not only woefully missed their targets, but went on to deal damage to their comrades and make things worse for their side.
After what seemed like the fifth nonstop pass through the bandit's ranks, the pair of savage blurs skidded to a stop a few meters past the edge of the group, giving the victims a good look at their attackers. One of the two was a teenage boy with red marks on his cheeks and a confident smirk on his face. His clothes were of good quality with long dark pants and a dull green loose vest over a black shirt, but had their own wild look to them as well with the purposefully ripped off sleeves exposing his well muscled arms ending with sharp almost animal like claws that did not seem to tear through the gloves he wore, and the fabric of the clothes showing signs of wear. All in all he did not look like a pushover and the grin on his face indicated that he knew it as well.
The second of the pair though had the bandits pause though as he was unlike his partner an actual animal. A white dog the size of a small horse stood there hunched over and baring his equally massive teeth and claws that were each more than capable of dealing debilitating damage at the very least and lethal at the most.
"Last chance losers." The human partner growled cockily. "Give up to us, or give up your lives."
"Shit!" One of the violent thieves swore. "It's an Inuzuka!"
"Humph. A brat and his mutt. Honestly, I'm surprised that they could manage to cause as much trouble as they have." A middle aged bandit snorted as he began reaching for the pouches on his hips before he began to throw kunai in every direction around the offending pair. It took less than a few kunai to notice that there was a bunch of wires linking each knife to the user. "Inuzuka generally attack by spinning around and moving a lot. Take that away and you've already won half the battle with them."
Channeling some chakra into another pouch on his side, the bandit commanded the wire in it to follow along the wires connecting the man to the kunai and within seconds had erected an impressive web around the pair.
"Oh?" Kiba smirked as he sniffed the air, not at all bothered with his situation. "Let me guess, the chakra you're running in these things make them stronger in addition to enabling you to control them."
"That's right kid, a single one of those wires could hold back an Akimichi, and now that you're trapped, all we have to do is throw kunai at you from a safe distance until you and your mutt bleed out." The man grinned savagely. "I hear that the going rate for an Inuzuka Hound's pelt is pretty high."
The Inuzuka male chuckled as he walked forward and placed a claw tip onto one of the wires. "Yeah, I've heard the same thing." The teen paused for a moment and didn't seem to take note of a dull glint reflect off of his gloved claws before he reached out with one of them. An instant later the wire in front of him was cut soundly by his nail, surprising the men in front of him. "They're too good to be wasted on trash like you, right Akamaru?"
The white wolf next to the teen barked deeply before all of its claws and teeth burned a bright red…
o. o. o.
On the other side of the camp, the bandits were having trouble dealing with a swarm of insects that seemed to just spawn up at once and flood the entire area. While not enough in numbers to naturally block the bandit's view, their constant moving in various directions proved more than enough to limit their perspective of what was around them. Combined with the fact that the trapped soon discovered that their chakra was being drained by said insects and it was soon apparent that there was more than a few individuals freaking out inside the mess…
And then it began.
Without any prior notice, various men and women began to fall to the ground with slash marks and stabs on their bodies. Some were lethal, others were debilitating, but all were clearly decisive blows in order to take them out of the fight. One by one they fell, instilling more panic and chaos into the minds of the trapped as they were further weakened by the swarm of insects
"Enough!" One of the stronger bandits yelled angrily as he formed a few seals and made his body erupt into flames, burning away any insects that were near him and some of his comrades as well. "Show yourself Aburame! I know you are there! Are you too much of a coward to fight us up close?!"
At first there was no reaction as the insects continued to buzz around rampantly and assault the bandits there that were not on fire or already taken out. Moments later however the bugs began to gradually spread further away from the front of the burning bandit and reveal a single shinobi standing casually in the middle of the chaos, not bothered by the insects in the slightest. He wore a large hooded jacket with the hood up and the front unzipped, revealing his darker clothes underneath, complete with sunglasses and giving him an overall intimidating appearance.
"You are familiar with my clan." Shino stated in an emotionless tone.
The bandit snorted. "Of course I do! I used to live in Konoha before I got fed up with their annoying hippy ways years ago. All the Kage there are too soft and they're too strict with the no killing rule. So what if I killed a client or two? They deserved it for talking back to their superiors." The fire surrounding the man doubled in intensity, causing the insects to give him an even wider birth. "Before I left though, I at least researched the strengths and weaknesses of the major clans. Unfortunately for you Aburame freaks, your weak bugs won't be able to touch me like this. How about you do us all a favor and give up. If you do I promise I'll kill you almost slowly and not drag it out."
The teen didn't seem worried at first as the insects around them continued to buzz loudly to the point that it was hard to hear the screams of the other bandits there at times. "It is true. With your jutsu I am unable to attack you with my Kikaichu, thus it is pointless to do so. However I am not worried about my victory."
A large carapace like claw impaled the stunned burning man from behind, completely caught off guard by the fast and undetected killing blow. Using the last of the strength in his body to turn around to just barely see what had killed him, the bandit's eyes widened as he saw another copy of the Aburame standing behind him with his right arm transformed into an insects' sickle like appendage, which was what had killed him.
"Why do you ask? Because I do not rely solely on them in order to take down targets." The teen stated with finality as he twisted his arm with a sickening crack and the non human appendage broke off his arm an exposed his clothed flesh and blood appendage to the world once more. The moment he let go of the temporary appendage, his prey no longer possessed the ability to stay up, and thus the dying man collapsed onto the ground in a pool of his own blood.
Looking at their surroundings silently, the two copies of the Aburame investigated the status of their enemies before coming to a silent decision. Without a single warning, both of them burst into more insects, and once more the area was filled with the screams of people being cut down in a swarm of locusts.
o. o. o.
In the dead center of the camp, the bulk of the bandits were having trouble of their own as their ranks were falling down left and right like flies.
"What the hell is wrong with you idiots?! It's just one girl!" One of the leaders of the troupe shouted hysterically as he sent more men to try and take out the teen standing literally in the middle of at least thirty bandits without a hint of concern on her face.
Despite not having grown up fully, she was clearly a beauty to behold with her long thick black hair, angelic face, curvy and well developed body, and smooth skin. Her pure white eyes while abnormal on a normal human somehow managed to add to her ethereal beauty. Her long blue pants hung off her hips fashionably, but were in no way at risk of falling off as her shin guards and belt with scrolls hanging off of them kept the cloths firmly in place. On her top half she wore a tight but not form fitting chainmail black shirt combo that exposed a small bit of cleavage. This bit of her body was further hidden by the headband loosely hanging around her neck. To complete her image, a cream white and dark purple overcoat that extended to her thighs hung loosely over her body, bearing the Hyuuga clan's symbol on the back for everyone to see.
Her appearance was so appealing it was enough to distract some of the bandits from noticing the two dozen or so bodies that were strewn on the ground around and behind her.
With the latest insult, at least half a dozen of the thieves lost their patience and charged forward from all angles at the girl with weapons drawn, intent on cutting her down where she stood. Given the circumstances she should have fallen, or at least injured by the assault. Few could manage to deal with being attacked by multiple directions by individuals that were each larger than the one attacked, let alone do so without getting harmed in the process…
This girl however was beyond such a classification as an invisible ring of chakra expanded from her body almost instantly without any physical movement on her part, and sliced through the offending parties cleanly, as with some of the bandits that had held back but not far enough. The result of the attack caused them all to fall to the ground helplessly at roughly the same time.
Their bodies were not marred. There was no blood or broken bones on any of the fallen men. Despite this though, any experienced medic that examined them would instantly be able to tell that each and every one of the fallen had had their insides, their organs and chakra network, torn apart where the ring had severed them.
"Please surrender." The teen asked politely with a small hint of remorse at the unnerved bandits. Unlike the other parties attacking their home, they had no idea what the hell this girl was doing to take them out. There was no warning when she attacked, and even when she did they couldn't determine where the assault was or where it was going. "I do not wish to kill anymore than needed. I will request for reduced punishment if you give up now, but I cannot guarantee such benefits if you continue to resist."
"Anyone that runs, I will gut and whoever you give a damn about alive." Growled the deep and slightly insane voice of a rather tall and pale man as he made himself known. Clad in worn Oto shinobi gear he walked to the front of the bandit crowd uninhibited. Even if there was a chance he wasn't the boss of the group, he was at the very least one of the more feared and or respected individuals there as the bandits around him parted away rather hastily until he stopped just a few yards from intruder.
His unstable yellow eyes bore down on the girl. "Hinata Hyuuga. The Princess. There's a big bounty on your pretty little head."
"So I've been told." The outnumbered child stated calmly and not at all bothered with being identified. "I take it you do not wish to surrender."
"Heh. Looks like there are some pampered royals that aren't complete idiots after all." The middle aged man faux laughed. "Tell you what brat. You service me and my boys here and I might think about letting you get back home a broken wreck. Hell, I might even let you keep those eyes of yours. If not, I'll just keep you as my personal trophy and those balls in your head go to the highest bidder."
Despite the vulgarity of the "offer", Hinata did not show any sign of being insulted and smiled sincerely at the offending man. "As generous as that is, I'm afraid that I am already spoken for. If you have anything else of questionable quality to suggest though, I'm more than willing to consider it."
The thinly veiled insult did not go over anyone's head as a few scant chuckles were heard from the group. The leader, surprisingly enough, included. "Huh. Seems our royal guest has a sense of humor to match her confidence and reputation after all. No wonder there are so many flattering rumors about you." It was at that point that several odd markings began to spread across his skin as if he was alive, causing his chakra to spike dramatically. "Let's see if you'll still have it after I'm done! Behold the power that Orochimaru-sama bestowed upon me!"
The young woman's eyes widened in surprise for a moment before regaining her composure. "Curse seal…" She swore under her breath.
It had been years since the Snake Sanin had died at the hand of his old teacher, yet it had done nothing to quench the flow of old experiments from popping up gradually all over the elemental nations. Even though many of the man's bases had been located, gutted, and destroyed shortly after the man had died, it seemed as if there had been just as many places that remained hidden, slowly emptying its warped contents into the world like a poison.
Men and women who had been used as experiments were among the prime concerns among the shinobi community as of late, and none more so than those who bore curse seals. An individual who was standard chunin level could take out a standard platoon of shinobi with ease when using the seal, and it only got worse when it was found on those with greater skill and experience.
Any and all missions involving curse seal users were at least A rank due to the danger the users possessed. In fact, due to the fact that curse seal users had been spreading out lately, any missions to unstable areas were all at the bare minimum B rank for most of the major nations simply because of the risk involved sending shinobi there. Normally, teams of jonin were made specifically to take even one of these guys out, and facing them one on one when they began to tap into their power was considered near suicide…
"There's no escape!" Her foe roared victoriously as he launched himself at absurd speeds that would give most shinobi trouble following.
Had he known what was going to happen next, he would have used that power to run in the opposite direction.
Between the first blink where the man charged from his standing position and the second where he would have made contact with his prey, the Princess had instantly conjured up an immense amount of chakra from every point on her body and spun it all rapidly around her still frame, conjuring a massive dome made of pure chakra around her person.
The missing-nin roared out in pain as he collided with the dome full force and felt the individual streams of chakra that made the dome tear apart his body where they touched, setting his nerves on fire and shocks of lightning down his very bones. Despite the fact that he was only in contact with the defensive technique for at most a couple of seconds, the damage that had been done was all but decisive to most individuals. A small surge of power added onto the destruction as it threw his frame back violently through the air.
The time he floated in the air had been nearly endless to the damaged man's mind. The pain was indescribable. He had been injured too much. Close range combat with the Hyuuga had been a mistake after all. He had underestimated the girl. He needed more power. He needed to go to stage two of the curse if he wanted to win. Barely managing to correct his body's position as it flew backwards, the demented man prepared to tap into more of the corrupted chakra of the seal as he landed back onto the ground.
He almost didn't notice the fact that the girl had already been on top of him before he even made contact with the earth before the world exploded into pain again. In fact he wouldn't have if it weren't for the fact that the girl's narrowed eyes were now glowing a purer white than he had ever thought existed. Like when he used to play with fireworks in the middle of the night as a kid, the white eyes seemed to leave a blinding trail outlining where they were just moments before, leading up to where they were now just inches from his doomed person.
At that last moment, he knew that he was doomed.
Every pressure point, every tenketsu, every nerve cluster was assaulted rapidly and relentlessly to the point that his entire body had within moments not only shut down, but the remaining processes that had remained operational were working incorrectly and doing additional damage to his body.
What seemed like an eternity for him lasted only at most a few seconds before the girl cocked back her right palm, enveloped it in so much chakra that it was not only visible to the naked eye, but the power itself took the shape of a lion's head, and then struck his torso so hard he flew back and took out several of his men, a good number of his tents, and crashed through some trees before finally stopping halfway through a boulder.
The entire area was quiet as the now leaderless band of thieves and marauders looked upon the straightening girl with wonder and fear. Their boss, who they had seen take on squads of shinobi by himself and win without a scratch, had just been killed in less than ten seconds by a mere girl with her bare hands…
Before any of them could begin to express their panic, confusion, or rage outwardly though, they were suddenly overwhelmed by the sensation of a massive source of silver light above the girl. … No. It wasn't really there, but the feeling that they were in the presence of one was. Overwhelming. Overpowering but without any intent of any sort. …Pure and alien, yet remarkably familiar at the same time. They would not be able to touch the phenomena, nor its source.
"Now that the distraction is dealt with, I will ask for a final time." The girl with the white with a hint of lilac colored eyes that glowed so fiercely they bordered silver smiled peacefully. None ignored the fact that the veins near her eyes bulged ominously in the process. "I am offering you a chance to surrender."
o. o. o.
It was a sunny and beautiful day. The birds were chirping. The market was full. None of the animals of the forest of death had escaped. The shinobi were jumping across the rooftops, and Iruka was walking into his classroom to teach the latest first years in the Academy.
Looking around at the innocent children he was about to turn into fighters for the village he couldn't help but smile and enjoy the peaceful and non violent environment he was in. Taking in a deep breath he began to make his speech to his new class. "Hello everyone. My name is Iruka and…"
The main door of the classroom exploded and in jumped in Shadow Oogakari covered in blood and dragging in with her a heavily cut up and bleeding Crypt. "HEY KIDS! WANNA SEE HOW TO BEAT A GUY TO DEATH WITH HIS OWN SKULL?!"
Before anyone could even process what horrors had just entered the classroom, more chaos ensued. Much to the shock of pretty much everyone there, part of the ceiling burst downward due to Zuzushi, now roughly twice the size of a large horse by Iruka's guess, forced her also blood covered head through the metal and plaster, grinned evilly at the terrified children with the meat and organs of… something, hanging out of her mouth, and then roared directly at them with unmatched ferocity.
o. o. o.
"… And that's what happened." Homura reported in an even tone to Tsunade, who in turn was hitting her head rather hard and constantly on her desk.
"I assume that we shall be adding this incident to the list as well." Koharu sighed, referring to the list of events that the Oogakari has done to cause chaos and make new laws on in order to never have it happen again. Since it had been made, more minor laws had been passed on specifying public indecency than at any other point in Konoha's existence. It should be noted that many of these laws were so outlandish that many people had trouble actually saying them upon first sight with a straight face.
"Please do." Tsunade grumbled while continuing with her current task of trying to imprint her forehead into the mahogany desk through physical trauma. "Also, when you fine them for this incident, add on the expenses for therapy for the brats being scared shitless and hush money for the parents."
"Consider it done. Where was Waltz-dono when this happened?" Koharu asked wearily. "Leaving Shadow-kun and Crypt-kun together is always a recipe for chaos. Everyone knows this."
"He was covering for me at the hospital. This is why I hate it when Scabbard goes out for months on end to address his spy network. Waltz can't keep an eye on both of them at once all the time." The Hokage wept with her head still down. "Crypt's still banned from there after the pudding incident in the recovery ward which is why he wasn't with the old bastard."
The elderly pair shivered as they remembered that horrific event.
"And then there was last month when Shadow somehow managed to fill every bath house in the village with a different flavored ramen." Tsunade continued in a haunted tone.
No one wanted to know how she managed to pull that off without anyone noticing until it was too late.
"It is somewhat concerning how, active, the Oogakari are becoming lately." Homura muttered tiredly. "Normally they keep their more… outlandish events further spread apart and less involved with the public."
"It's probably because Naruto and Ghost are scheduled to come back soon." The blonde sighed depressed, causing the other two in the room to slowly pale dramatically.
"This isn't good." The lone male in the room muttered ominously. "We have to find a way to reduce the amount of damage they will do the village as efficiently as possible."
"We can't put Uzumaki-kun on missions outside of the village." Koharu pointed out. "If the reports are true, then Akatsuki will be on the move soon. We can't risk the Kyubi being stolen…"
"Naruto will be put on missions outside of the village." Tsunade grunted, but without much force behind it. Unlike in the previous timeline, the jinchuriki had a sharp mind going for him in addition to his increased skill and power. Any real doubts in his ability were feeble at best at this point. Making some big speech about having faith in his abilities now would more than likely just make her look like an idiot. "He'll probably be strong enough to handle himself by now, and unless you haven't noticed yet, missions he undertakes have a tendency to be bumped up by at least a rank. I'd rather keep that danger outside of our walls thank you very much."
"Then why not simply force him to continue to train inside the village and not give him missions?" Homura suggested. The looks he got from the other two females in the room gave him his answer. "Right. Silly idea. My mistake."
"I suggest we make final decisions on what to do with him after we reevaluate his abilities upon his return." Koharu stated. "That way, not only will we have a better idea of where he should apply his abilities, but we have an excuse to promote him. I shudder to think of what would happen if he realized that he was the only person in his age group that below the rank of special jonin."
Tsunade snorted. "He'd probably ask how many of them he'd have to take down at once in order to get promoted to jonin. Then if that didn't work he'd most likely challenge me directly." She paused. "And if I don't agree, worst case scenario says that he challenges one of the Oogakari to a public fight."
"That's what I'm afraid of." The elder female muttered darkly. "The potential collateral damage from such an event would be immeasurable."
"I'd just stick him on missions that we know will go wrong since we know he can handle himself." The Slug Princess yawned. "And when he's back, keep him occupied with politics, the Namikaze estate, or throw him in the Hyuuga compound. Hiashi and Hinata seem to be able to rein him in a lot easier than the rest of the village put together."
"Done." The two elders spoke at once. "What of his situation with the revelation of his father?"
Tsunade grimaced. In order to prevent things from getting out of hand with Iwa, she had indeed revealed the fact that Naruto was the son of Minato Namikaze while he was out of the village, and also informed everyone that until recently even he did not know who his parents were and was treated as a normal individual to prevent giving him any unwanted attention.
In a sick sort of way, Hiruzen's decision to reveal his status as a jinchuriki to the villagers had helped keep the blonde off the radar as the civilians' blind hatred prevented anyone from connecting the dots with their own prejudice. The only problem was that said prejudice ended up being just as much of a threat to the boy as enemy shinobi did at some points.
Regardless, the fact that the bulk of Konoha didn't know of Naruto's lineage worked in their favor as the sheer amount of initial disbelief that ran through the general populace became very well known among the other nations via the standard spy networks that every village has in every other village. While it did embarrass the village in the leaves on an international scale, it also somewhat tempered the mood in Iwa. Oh the general population still wanted to kill Naruto and maim Konoha and would grab any chance to do it, but their impulse to do so was slightly lowered by seeing that the son of Namikaze was for most of his life street trash. Given what they heard about the kid's past, they decided that it would be good to let him live a bit more to let their rivals wallow in their own guilt for a bit.
Plus the fact that the kid tended to make an ass out of himself in public made them want to see Konoha's reputation drop even further as their golden child embarrass them in front of important clients.
But of course, at least according to Sasuke and Hinata, the real problem that cropped up with the announcing of Naruto's lineage was the new swarm of fangirls that emerged overnight after his identity was revealed. Messages of all forms were made out to him and flooded his mailbox within a week.
Since no one else wanted to deal with the endless letters containing marriage proposals, "meetings of mutual benefits", and other bull like that and sort out which ones were actually important from the ones that were just a waste of space, Shadow took it upon herself to provide a solution… for a price of course.
She didn't go into details into how she managed to reduce the small mountain of paper to a twentieth of its size in an hour, consisting only of important documents and meetings with significant individuals, but she did make comments about blood rituals, a possessed chainsaw named Steve that liked bubblegum, and liberal amounts of fire.
What she did with the remains of the other letters could only be speculated, but many assumed it had to do with Scabbard destroying the Oogakari compound (again) a few days later in a fit of rage, and as everyone knows, only fangirl related subjects can make Scabbard rage.
Then there was the one and only time that a group of the unfortunate fools got the bright idea to try to ask the Oogakari for their favor in an attempt to try and get closer to Naruto.
Scabbard was the one that opened the door.
That day did not end well.
… It should be noted that Hinata had trouble not smiling for almost a week following the incident.
"Same as before. Keep him with the Hyuuga and give him missions." Tsunade offered almost instantly. "Between the two of those, almost any undesirable idiot that wishes to contact Uzumaki will be blocked off before so much as seeing him. There will of course be ones with significant positioning in the world that cannot be deterred that way, but we will have to deal with them on an individual basis and above all else, keep them away from the Hyuuga."
The other two elders nodded, knowing of the Hiress' relationship with the blonde boy and her reaction to any potential threats was not something that could be ignored without consequences arising.
"And for Ghost-kun…" Homura spoke up.
"Stick him with Anko and Hana of course." The blonde rolled her eyes. "As absurdly overkill as it sounds to put those three together, we can at least ensure that they focus their boredom on one another instead of the rest of the village. Besides, we'll be able to take more assassination and S ranked missions that way. Log knows how many missions that idiot would be willing to take without those two to make him."
"That sounds reasonable enough." Homura nodded as he looked out the windows to look at the village and sighed. "… Honestly, how is it that we are in the middle of a political standoff with Iwa and we consider the impending return of two of our strongest assets to be most concerning issue?"
"Consider it a blessing." The blonde wearily looked at him. "With their addition to our ranks again, combined with the rookie twelve and the rest of the Oogakari, many would claim that we could manage to win a war with two of the other great nations and still come out strong. The fact that most of the other nations are warming up to us instead of throwing accusations around means less trouble for us in the future."
"Indeed." Koharu nodded. "This recent generation is quite impressive. All of them received such high promotions at their early ages despite it not being war time. I oversaw some of their tests myself. It makes me glad that the future generations are being placed in competent hands."
"Same here." Tsunade nodded with a smile. "I have a good feeling about the future generation too…"
A sudden explosion in one of the farther parks wiped the smile off of her face instantly. Above the cloud of dust, two human shaped figures flew straight up into the air before falling straight back down again limply.
Apparently Waltz had just discovered what Shadow and Crypt had done at the academy and gotten his hands on his beloved family members.
"Now if only we could make sure that the Oogakari don't mess this up for us…"
o. o. o.
"So then." Zabuza yawned as he sat on a rock next to Haku and looked at an opened scroll in his hands. Despite his rise in position over the past few years both in skill and in political importance, his appearance had not changed in the slightest "Shall we go over the list one last time?"
"Of course." The teen smiled gently. Unlike her beloved master, she had indeed changed She was still dressed in a kimono, albeit one that was a bit larger than her old ones, her color scheme had not changed much as she still wore dark sea blue with white trimmings. Likewise her hair style did not change as she still held all but her long bangs in an elegant bun when she was working.
However as her feminine figure developed more she decided to forgo her old turtleneck thick shirt underneath for a more revealing long sleeve black mesh shirt that revealed more of her chest. It was not enough to be considered indecent, however it was enough to catch the attention of the lesser trained male gender.
Fun fact. Inexperienced opponents distracted by an opponent's cleavage have a tendency to aim more for said cleavage than where they should be. They also had a tendency to miss their opponent making single handed seals when their other hand was holding senbon in front of their chest.
Completing her appearance, the girl had replaced her baggy shorts with slightly less baggy pants of the same matching color. She did not get rid of her wooden sandals.
Neither of the pair was at all bothered by the fact that they were in an underground cavern or that there was an unnatural amount of mist in front of them. Save for the occasional drop of water falling from the ceiling to the ground, the cold cavern was unusually silent when no one spoke.
It was the perfect place for a person to train in silent killing.
"We trained the next generation of seven swordsmen without maiming or crippling them." The man began casually.
"It was very difficult for you to do that, I'm sure." The girl laughed lightly.
The masked man leered at his adopted family member skeptically. "If memory serves, the only time Suigetsu was found close to being permanently injured was after he had an encounter with you."
The ice user shrugged. "It is not my fault that he would not take no for an answer. I was merely putting my foot down on the subject in a way he would understand."
The swordsman snorted. "Who said I was voicing disapproval? The little shit is nowhere near good enough for you." He looked down at the list again. "Improved relations between Konoha in Kiri."
"On the other hand, I fully approve of Mei-sama." Haku teased almost innocently. "She's good looking, strong, and you get along quite well."
"Yeah. Yeah. Laugh it up kid. I'm just glad that I enjoy performing my "political duties" for once." He chuckled. "Most of the time I had to deal with old annoying idiots that couldn't even count the money they were stealing from their people properly. Made me want to slit my throat so many damn times. Fucking inbred morons."
The ice user raised an eyebrow. "Oh? But I thought a good portion of the time those meetings were used as a cover for you to actually kill those politicians later. When people accused you of doing it, you would use the excuse that you had a deal in the works with him and so there was no point in you doing it. That way you could frame the crime on political opponents."
"Yeah, but it didn't change the fact that I had to talk and listen to them." The assassin shamelessly snorted. "You'd be surprised at how many hits Scab's put on a good number of nobles and lords under secret alias'. Trust me, the human gene pool would be better off without them."
"Is that why I've heard rumors about Kakuzu doing many political assassinations for the past couple of years?" Haku asked curiously.
"It helps green hair keep track of the guy without getting caught too." Zabuza shrugged. "You know how the bastard likes to multitask." He looked at the list again. "Get used to using Isobu's chakra. I think I'm doing pretty good there."
"As much as we can given our status. I am not Kurama. I do not possess his resiliency, so it is still difficult for me to control my powers given the fact that I have spent over a decade in insanity and have had half my chakra torn away. Communicating in your overcomplicated human tongue alone still takes effort for me to accomplish." The giant turtle in his body growled irritably with an accent that could only be described as animalistic. Over the past couple of years the Three Tails had regained a good portion of his sanity with his interactions with Zabuza. Unfortunately he was still very prone to falling back into animalistic frenzies if he was agitated enough, preventing his container from pulling more than a single tail's worth of power at any given time.
Still, their relationship was rather close given that they shared a mutual enemy that had taken away their mutual close friend away from them.
"Isobu-san is arguing with you again isn't he?" Haku giggled lightly.
"Not in the slightest." The male lied without hesitation.
"Why couldn't the Legacy's Prophet have sealed me into the girl instead? Even if she can't talk to me directly she's still more polite than you ever were." The Sanbi grumbled.
"Because our suffering keeps him young. That's why."The swordmaster mentally berated his tenant sarcastically before looking at the list for the last time. "So there's all of that done, and then there's the trap…" He glanced to his side. "… Which I do believe is set up, primed, and ready."
Haku nodded as she glanced at the thick heavy mist that hung over a massive underground lake. Even though she couldn't see it, she knew that there was a small island in the middle of said lake that held a small shrine. Inside aforementioned shrine was a large scroll that possessed the other half of the Sanbi.
She also knew that it would be near impossible for anyone who did not know of the set up security measures set up around the scroll to be able to reach it, let alone make it ten feet past the edge of the lake.
The positioning of the scroll and securing it had been a horrifically guarded process. Each participant in setting it up was carefully selected, as were the location of the underground cave they were in and the jutsu used to protect the scroll in the first place.
As such it came as no surprise that Haku, as one of the people that designed the entire setup, knew that one of the people involved preparing the rigged vault, one that had many political links and resources, was actually a confirmed spy. She also knew that said confirmed spy had already sold the location of the Sanbi to outside sources half a month ago, and was subsequently captured and legally tortured for all sorts of other information.
She knew the precautions would not keep Akatsuki away… but then again, Akatsuki would probably not expect anyone to try to use the Biju themselves as live bait…
… Nor that the bait would be rigged.
o. o. o.
"Hey guys!" Ino shouted loudly and happily as she, Choji and Kin walked into the village, having returned from a mission, to come across Sakura, Sasuke, and Sai talking to Izumo and Kotetsu. "Long time no see! What's up?"
"Hello Ino. Everything's fine. We are just collecting documents around the village for Hokage-sama." Sai smiled, his skin still pale, but not quite as sick looking as it had before. His outfit had not changed much since several years beforehand. He still wore primarily dark colors and thankfully due to the other's intervention he had abandoned altering it to show his midriff like he had in the previous world. "I see you are returning from a mission. Is Shikamaru once again acting as an envoy to Suna?"
"Keyword. Acting. Everyone knows that the lazy bum manages to finish almost all his work within the first few days of getting in Suna so he can spend the rest of his time there with the Kazekage's sister." Kin smirked as she walked forward.
Now standing at nearly five six, the girl had developed into a very good looking young woman and she did nothing to hide it. Wearing a black spandex bodysuit underneath an open dark green shinobi vest, arm guards, shin guards, and a short green skirt that held several weapons pouches off of her hips, the girl was a sight to behold. Completing her look was a headband over her forehead and a thick dark blue scarf around her neck that hid the bottom of her face a good portion of the time.
While her choice in her attire did draw looks from many people, the populace in Konoha knew better than to comment on it. They had long learned what would happen to anyone who mocked spandex suits to the resident taijutsu masters or any of their confirmed significant others.
It tended to end in a savage beating and possibly a crater in the ground.
"Considering the fact that Gaara hasn't killed him in the past two years, I think it's safe to say that there's no problem with that." Sasuke stated tiredly as he showed up behind Sai, appearing to be casual. Out of all the shinobi in their generation, Sasuke's had changed the most. Dressed predominantly in ANBU gear even though he wasn't one, with the addition of his ever present sword hanging from the back of his waist belt, the teen looked more lethal now than ever. Despite his attire, people knew he wasn't a member of the black ops due to several reasons.
First of all he didn't wear the standard ANBU animal mask, instead preferring to go with the half face mask Kakashi used. When he was asked why he wore a mask at all, he replied evenly that the last time he tried such a thing there had been a massive fangirl riot outside his home.
Another fact was that he didn't expose his shoulders like every other operative, instead wearing a long sleeved shirt over his arm guards. While there were some operatives that were dressed otherwise, it was commonly agreed upon that if an ANBU was in uniform, their shoulders were exposed to reveal their tattoos that signified that they were among the black ops. Rumor had it that the tattoos were actually some sort of seal that could help identify when an operative was real or fake, but no one could or would confirm it.
Last, but not least was the large Uchiha symbol posted on the back of his vest and shirt that gave him away. If you wanted to keep your identity a secret, you don't put unique symbols on your person for everyone to see. Even the civilians knew this.
"Well, we'll just have to wait and see about that." Ino grinned mischievously. Dressed in a dark no sleeved black top that hugger her body and showed off her midriff, and long slit purple skirt with black trimming that showed off one of her legs showing that she still wrapped her legs with tape underneath up to her thigh, with a black mesh shirt underneath her top, she had developed quite a dangerous kunoichi. Off of her waist and legs she held multiple weapon and medicine pouches.
To this day no one knew exactly what she held in all of them, or how many of them were legal to own. All people knew was that when she was asked, the constantly smiling teen's grin would widen to such a degree that most would immediately take back the question. There was a damn good reason why she was called the Smiling Witch after all.
"Most people in power don't want to have a lazy know it all brother-in-law that could probably do a good part of their job better than they could." She giggled amusedly.
"Better one of those than some deadbeat that doesn't do anything." Sakura sighed as she finally joined the group, putting Izumo's and Kotetsu's report into an envelope. Instead of a bright red top, she now wore a dark red bleeding into dark green kimono top over a black mesh shirt combo, giving her an appearance similar to Tsunade minus the woman's massive bust and hairstyle. "How was your mission Pig?"
Ino ignored the childish jab and shrugged, pulling out a senbon and twirling it in her fingers with practiced ease absentmindedly. No one dared to ask if it was poisoned or not. "Eh. It was all right. Standard escort mission to some Noble shmuck with more money than looks and let me tell you, he didn't have that much money compared to most nobles."
"You know Ino, if I didn't know you better, I'd be really unnerved by what you just said." Choji sighed dejectedly. Easily the largest person in the group, reaching five ten and with a good amount of weight, the boy displayed all the marks of being an Akimichi. He still had the spiral tattoos on his cheeks and he wore his bandanna headband over the top of his long needle like hair, but his clothes have changed a bit. He still wore thick metal bracing over his arms and legs, and he still wore a metal plated black kilt over his waist that hung over his rust red pants, yet his upper body surprisingly enough did not possess such protection. Instead he wore a rather tight red long sleeved shirt with the Akimichi family's logo on the front, all under his open standard vest which he dyed dull steel grey.
It was an odd appearance for a shinobi, especially for such a high ranking Akimichi to have… but for those who knew what the boy was capable of it was perfectly acceptable and understandable.
"Aww. Don't worry Choji-kuuun." Ino turned to her boyfriend with puppydog eyes and hugged him tightly. Thankfully she remembered to be careful with the senbon she was playing with this time. "No one can replace you. You're too cute and cuddly and strong to get rid of. I just wish you would do something about the clients doubting you all the time and show them up. All you would have to do is use one of your combos and…"
"Look stupid as I realize that you hit them with a sleeping poison before I manage to pull anything off." He laughed knowingly. "It's ok Ino. I don't need their recognition. So long as things go without any issue, I'm fine with their comments."
"Is that right?" Sai raised an eyebrow. "Does that mean that you don't get angry anymore when someone calls you fa…"
The ROOT agent was floored as he was simultaneously shocked, suckerpunched, and covered in poisonous needles.
"That would be a no." Kin rolled her eyes, having being the only one other than Choji to harm the pale boy. "I think you may have gone a bit overboard this time."
"Not my fault." Sakura flexed her gloves casually. "Choji's even stronger than me physically when he goes on a rampage and I didn't know if the others would get to him on time."
"I felt Choji's killing intent spike and acted on instinct." Sasuke shrugged, not paying attention to the small number of electrical arcs flashing around his left hand.
"Why do you think I have to knock out the clients when they make fun of him?" Ino raised an eyebrow skeptically, twirling the same senbon in her hand that she had been before, albeit a bit faster than before.
"Still didn't save the idiot that one time you weren't around." Kin snorted before pausing and tilting to the side to see something behind the other group. "… What the hell is she doing this time?"
Before anyone could ask what Kin was talking about, a series of grunts and the sound of something heavy being dragged across the ground met their ears.
"Hurgh!" Rumble. "Gah!" Rumble. "Nargh!" Rumble. "Stressful noises!" Rumble.
The six teens and many other people in the area turned to see the odd sight of Shadow Oogakari dragging a giant thirty yard tall stone Buddha statue towards the gate.
"Against my better judgment… what the heck are you doing this time?" Sakura asked the clearly stressed woman as she approached the exit of the village.
The dark haired woman did not seem to acknowledge the girl's question as she rather frantically tried to drag her load outside. "The balloons!" Rumble. "They have once more!" Rumble. "Developed a taste for my flesh!" Rumble. "They HUNGER!" Rumble. "FOR MORE!" Rumble. Rumble. Rumble.
Everyone didn't have anything intelligent to say about the insane woman's statement as she slowly disappeared down the road with the giant statue.
"Ok… I don't know about you guys, but that was a bit off even… for…" Ino began skeptically before turning around and instantly stopped talking and began to twitch her eyebrow.
Not bothering to ask her what was wrong, they, against their instincts, looked to see at least several thousand balloons of various colors and shapes floating slowly and silently towards the group, out the gate, and in the direction that Shadow had just disappeared.
Sasuke was the first to regain control of himself. "So Sakura, I think Sai is still unconscious. How about healing him so we can finish our mission?"
"Sai?" The pink haired girl blinked in confusion before realizing what her boyfriend had just said. "Oh! Sai! The mission! Right!" She went down and began to pull out the senbon in the still unconscious boy's body. "Ino, do I need any antidotes this time?"
"I don't even want to know…" The blonde girl muttered to herself bewildered before absently tossing her friend a vial and began to walk absently towards the Hokage's tower. "Come on Choji! Kin! I want to get the report done with so I can get some private boyfriend time to counter the crazy!"
"That's a lot of boyfriend time." Kin muttered absently as she glanced back briefly at the shrinking swarm of flying rubber before following the girl.
"No complaints for me." The tallest teen laughed nervously as screams outside the village began to be heard. "I might need it myself. Later guys. Tell Sai I'm sorry for what happened."
"Done and done. You up for dinner at the Korean Barbecue tonight? Round eight?" Sakura asked while one hand glowed green and the other expertly opened Ino's antidote with her thumb.
"So long as nothing happens at home, you'll see me there." The Akimichi waved before chasing after his girlfriend.
"Hey guys!" Izumo shouted from the gate box. "You need help?"
"We're good!" Sasuke replied absently while still looking at Sakura work like a machine to remove Sai's deceptively mundane injuries. He had always known that his girlfriend was good at what she did, but over the past couple of years her skill has reached the point that she was considered one of the top five medical specialists in the village next to Tsunade, Waltz, Shizune, and Hana. She didn't have the experience that they did, but her natural talent was something that he had heard many of the doctors in the hospital whisper about on occasion when she passed by.
Though he wouldn't say it often, he would wholly agree that his girlfriend was definitely someone he would consider worth spending the rest of his life with. She was not only strong, but the most capable person he could think of around his age to raise a family with to be healthy and in line.
The next most capable female he could think of that fit that category was Hinata, but even if Sakura dumped him, there was no way in hell he would attempt to approach that one. He had been stuck in many dangerous and deadly situations in his short life… he did not think he would be able to survive it if he crossed either one of those two. He'd feel safer if he was locked in a room with a homicidal version of his brother.
He scowled. Itachi had been rather quiet as of late. Granted his brother had always been rather good at imitating being mute, but over the past few years they had managed to set up a secret way of communicating through some of the older Uchiha storage depots and fortresses that their father had dragged them to when they were small. At most they could only exchange messages once every three months or so, but it had been over half a year since they had managed to get anything to one another.
Considering the fact that there had been no rumors of massive black infernos running rampant for three days straight, it was pretty safe to assume that he had not been caught as a spy or killed just yet. The man was just too good to die quietly.
Something was happening in Akatsuki, and deep down he knew that it was going to rear its ugly head soon.
If he looked around at the people he knew and suspected were in the know about these things, he got more signs. The Oogakari were more active than normal with their chaos. The Hokage was sending out more diplomatic missions to the other nations. Zabuza and Haku have been spending more time in Kiri, Shikamaru in Suna, and Scabbard more so on his spy network than at home. Many of his group's old teachers have been spending more time with extreme training than normally expected of Jonin. That green haired kunoichi from Taki who he confirmed was a Jinchuriki was going on fewer missions lately and spending a good amount of time with the third. Sakura was focusing almost rabidly on her medical studies as of late, going over some injuries that he had no idea existed, let alone be able to pronounce properly…
The storm he was told about was finally coming. He didn't know when exactly, but it would come in hard, fast, and hit everyone. That much was for certain.
As much as he wanted to do something about it unfortunately, the Uchiha reluctantly had to admit that despite his power there was nothing he could do to his knowledge to turn things into his favor. Not yet at least.
What bugged him the most though, was that their own "storm" had yet to arrive.
Naruto was an unquestionable force of nature by himself, even before he left to train several years ago. There had been many guesses as to how powerful, and potentially off in the head, he would be when he returned. It had varied between having full control over the Kyubi, to miraculously spawning a unique dojutsu for some stupid reason or another, to mastering kenjutsu, to being able to use all five elements and so on. Each one more ridiculous than the last, but each in a way possible in everyone's minds considering how absurdly unpredictable the blond could be at times…
On a side note, Sasuke had put some money on the mastering Kyubi's chakra pool and the ability to use at least four elements pool. He felt that they were the safe bets.
The blonde was a, if not "the", deciding factor in the chaos to come, and his absence unnerved the Uchiha more than the idea of fighting people stronger than his brother. His best friend was the one that made somehow could make the worst shitty situations not only manageable but actually amusing…
Best friend. Hah. Those two words would have caused his heart to go up his throat just a few years ago. Honestly, he loved Itachi as the selfless brother and hero that he was… but the man would make a shitty father and leader. Technically Sasuke believed it was their father's fault more than anything. The man had pushed his brother too hard and was too into the clan's traditions and positioning in Konoha to actually treat his children like children, and it had resulted in his brother's ultimate hell.
Itachi had a good heart, but his methods of trying to help other people become strong were more twisted than the Oogakari's, and THAT was saying something.
Even if he didn't have the Mangekyo Sharingan yet, he knew that there were other ways to unlock it without killing someone close to you.
Sai's grunting snapped him out of his musings. "Ugh. What happened?" The pale teen turned to his doctor. "Did I by chance say something not acceptable again?"
"Yep." Sakura sighed as she stood and brushed her hands on her side. "You really gotta learn to be more careful with what you say to people Sai. You're better than when we first met you, but in some ways it makes your slipups more disastrous than ever."
"I'll take that to heart." The artist grunted as he picked himself up and smiled sheepishly. The other two teammates could tell he was still forcing it a bit, but it looked far more natural than it did when he first attempted the expression.
"Oh dear god the rubber! It's everywhere and the static is ruining my hair! Keep away from my candy safe Buddha! Its chocolate gut and badonkadonk core goodness is MINE AND MINE ALONE!"
"What was that?" The ROOT agent blinked in confusion as he turned to face outside the village.
"Something that you don't want to lose brain cells over." Sakura deadpanned as she walked in the opposite direction. "Come on. We still have a mission to finish."
"At least we know part of the reason why she had the statue with her." Sasuke sighed as he followed his teammate, already going through the standard steps to forget about the latest example of insanity that crossed his path.
o. o. o.
In one of the local parks:
Hiruzen chuckled lightly as he sat on a bench next to Waltz and Fuu. All around the bench, the bodies of completely exhausted children ranging from age seven to thirteen littered the ground. "I must admit Waltz-dono, this is far more relaxing and fun than I originally thought."
"Heheh. It was pretty fun watching the brats wipe themselves out while we did almost nothing." The jinchuriki snickered while nudging a small girl nearby with a foot.
"I told you." The eldest one there smiled gently, poking a borderline unconscious Konohamaru with his staff. "They seem to enjoy it as much as I do, and it does do wonders for their stamina training if what Iruka has told me is true."
"Get. You. One. Day. Old. Man." The foaming at the mouth boy gasped deeply. So much so that the elders weren't sure if he was aware he was being poked in the head.
"You've been saying that for years Konohamaru and so far neither you nor your friends have managed it once." The giant replied with a hint of overconfidence in his voice. He wasn't normally that brash, but the extra bit of taunting would help push the boy in his efforts later.
"Now now Konohamaru." Hiruzen chided gently. "You must prioritize now. You passed your genin test last week so you won't have time to play with Waltz-dono as much as before."
"Oh let the boy have some fun." Waltz rumbled gruffly. "Strict training is good, but you know as well as I do that people progress the most in subjects that they actually enjoy. The more they want to train, the longer they last and the more they get out of it."
"He's got a point." Fuu smirked. "They tried to get me to learn seduction training back in Taki when I was a kid. It didn't end well to say the least for obvious reasons. Fast forward to my stay here and a few bar hopping nights with Anko and now I can flirt with the best of them." She stroked her exposed arms sensually. "After all, who wouldn't want to play with a girl with nice tan skin like mine?"
"The ones that go for the T and A." The giant smirked while still poking Konohamaru's head absently.
The Jinchuriki developed a tick mark and made a fist. "If Choumei wasn't scared shitless of you old man I would…"
"Honestly you two. There are children here." Hiruzen grunted, though the twitch at the corner of his mouth gave his poorly hidden amusement away.
"Like they're conscious enough to remember what we're talking about." The immortal snorted as he began to expertly flip the Hokage's grandson like a pancake without the boy protesting in the slightest.
"Right. I understand you perfectly." Fuu nodded, apparently understanding what the ex Hokage had said before making a few seals and breathing out a cloud of very faint and fine dust over the area and the exhausted children. At first nothing seemed to happen, but that changed when the green haired girl emitted a spark of electricity from one of her fingers. Instead of staying where it was, the thin light jumped from her digit, zigzagged uninhibited in a random pattern that looped itself several times through the air, and zapped one of the kids to her right on the butt.
"Ow!" The eight year old shouted as he jumped up and grabbed his rear, gaining the eyes of all the other young ones there.
Zap. "Ow!" Zap. "Ow!" Zap. "Ow!"
Each feeble spark made by the jinchuriki's fingers traveled through the air as if it was a clean, albeit distorted circuit, and assaulted a different child's person, prompting them to jump up in pain despite their exhaustion.
"Old people are talking old important stuff brats." The woman yawned as she assaulted another three children in the process. "Leave now or forever lose feeling in you backside."
"This is a very interesting technique." Hiruzen mused as he watched the assault continue and ignored the screams of fear around him. "It enhances the control over external lightning manipulation techniques and reduces the cost of smaller techniques to virtually nothing…"
"It absorbs the moisture in the air, using it to take in the local heat, and in the end helps channel lightning chakra." Waltz observed lazily, also ignoring the screams of protest around him. "It's based off of ideal conditions for static electricity to happen naturally. Dry air and lower temperatures. The dust also magnifies the control and range of what the user is doing, but higher power moves would be destabilized by the conductivity and spread of the dust, destabilizing them. By itself the technique is probably nothing more than a D rank. It's very simple… but its ability to enhance the range and power low level lightning techniques is quite useful. If I'm right, it can also be used to disperse the charge of high power techniques of the same type as well." He nodded in approval. "A versatile move with multiple uses."
"Glad this move meets your standards." Fuu rolled her eyes while quietly noting to herself to experiment with the defensive property of her technique later with Kakashi.
"Run! Run from the pain!" Konohamaru shouted as he was tagged for the third time and escaped with the rest of the children there, not bothering to look back in case doing so might risk getting them shocked again.
"It seems as if my grandson still has to work a bit when it comes to being discrete." The grandfather sighed wearily.
"Kid needs to expand on his vocabulary too." Waltz chuckled.
"I dunno. He seemed to have a pretty wide range of swears when we were beating him and his friends into the ground." Fuu mused as she blew the small smoke away from the tips of her fingers and canceled out the technique surrounding them. Within moments the warmer local humid air had once reigned uninhibited. "So what are we talking about today?"
The water element master sighed before tapping the ground twice with his staff, instantly causing all the water in the air around them to absorb any sound that passes through the air that doesn't come or go from their heads. "It appears as if the game has finally started." He muttered wearily.
Fuu flinched at the news, but Hiruzen did not so much as twitch. "I believe that it has started earlier than last time. Who was it?" The elder asked with a glint to his eye.
Waltz leaned back into his chair. "Scab's found out that the Rokubi's container was defeated in Tea Country almost a week ago. Even if you were to amass our teams now or contact the other villages about it, odds are more than likely that attempting him would be a wasted effort. He might be sealed already for all we know."
"I see…" The container of the Seven Tails frowned. "Choumei never got along with Saiken. She said that the slug was too slow and boring to talk to for long periods of time, but she says that he still didn't deserve what happened to him." She glanced at the giant. "Who was it that did him in?"
The informant shrugged. "There wasn't much to go by when he got to the scene of the fight, but Scab suspects it was Zetsu, their spy and mokuton user, that did it."
"Another mokuton user." The Hokage shook his head. "I thought it was absurd enough when Tenzo survived Orochimaru's experiments, but there was someone else before him? It's just absurd."
"No more absurd than children learning to walk on walls and perform techniques of mass destruction." Waltz shrugged casually. His gesture almost conveyed that there was more to the subject that the other two knew of, but neither bothered to ask him what it was. They knew he would not answer the question.
"So the enemy's finally moving." Fuu hunched over and narrowed her eyes in an attempt to think. "Who do you think is next? Blondie's still gone and Akatsuki's probably still moving under the assumption that no one knows what they're doing yet."
"Hmm. Well we did guess accurately that they would go for the Rokubi first." Hiruzen nodded. "The issue is that virtually all of the other biju are in the main villages now. Naruto can move rather freely still as they have to take him last, but that still leaves seven possible targets in five locations, and they don't necessarily have to go for only one at a time…"
"I don't think they'd go for Matabi or Gyuki so soon." Fuu mused. "Sure it would be getting the hardest pair out of the way first, but getting Kumo involved early in the game would be a bad move."
"A logical assumption, but perhaps that is why they'd go for Kumo's beasts first, while the village still has its guard down." Waltz pointed out casually.
"Take out the strong and the weak shall follow." The elderly Hokage nodded sagely. "Following that logic, they would more than likely aim for the weaker secured biju next and attack Suna and Kiri…"
"Iwa and Kiri." Waltz corrected. "Suna's not in a borderline civil war, and Iwa has two containers to plunder, one of which is still kept under heavy lockup. Even if Roshi and Goku are in perfect sync with one another, the payoff for effort is much greater if they go for Iwa first."
"True true. My mistake." Hiruzen nodded as he delved into the scenario. "… And should they succeed it would be disastrous for negotiating with the other nations. As Konoha and Suna are in an alliance and young Fuu here is staying in Konoha, the last three biju would be in our possession. That would without a doubt cause many to start to ask questions and doubt our sincerity to the cause, even if we did warn them about it beforehand."
"And with six biju under their control, they would have more than enough power to utilize alternative methods of attack, even if they lost a good number of their members before that point." Waltz stroked his beard contemplatively before shaking his head with a wry grin. "Alas, that is just but one possible route that things can turn out. I am merely one of the invisible hands that guides the pieces in directions they did not know existed."
"Oh stop with the "I'm a god and know things you don't" crap already." Fuu rolled her eyes. "Sometimes I wonder whose side you're on."
The immortal chuckled dryly. "My dear child, the unfortunate truth is that when a person becomes as powerful as we are with no strings attached, the only side that he, she, or it can honestly say they are on… is their own."
o. o. o.
"This place is pretty good." Shikamaru grinned satisfied, dressed in the exact same way he did in the previous timeline at this age, as he leaned back against the chair in the restaurant that he, Temari, Kankuro and Gaara were eating at. As they were with the Kazekage, the four were seated in the best location the place could offer. It was an elaborate outside patio that was designed to give the customers a beautiful view of the city while ensuring that the sporadic winds that ran through the village would not touch them. "It's a bit high end for me to come to more often, but I'd definitely not argue against coming again."
"Amazing." Kankuro, still dressed in his puppeteer garb with his warpaint (though not around his mouth so he wouldn't risk smearing it). "Two whole sentences and he didn't say the word "troublesome"."
"I know." Temari grinned cheekily to her brother, dressed in a gray green wardress with protective plating over the front. "You have no idea how long it took me to train him to stop doing that."
"An impressive feat." Gaara stated evenly with his eyes closed before sagely drinking his tea.
"I'm more surprised that you managed to develop a sense of humor." Shikamaru glared at the Kazekage.
"Three sentences!" The puppetmaster laughed before drinking some more of his rice wine.
"I apparently have a unique taste in black comedy." The redhead continued to talk to the Nara, pointedly ignoring his older brother's laughter. "Unfortunately, sometimes people have trouble telling my jokes apart from me being serious."
"I blame Shukakau." His sister added. "That insane rat's completely desensitized you when it comes to violent and morbid things."
"For the last time, I'm not a fucking rat!" The biju roared from inside his container. "What kind of rat has a tail as awesome and epic as the one I have?! HUH!? Answer me!"
"Is he ranting about his tail again?" Kankuro asked with a knowing grin.
"If he is, I'm not paying attention enough to care." The younger brother shrugged before drinking some more tea.
"His tail?" The shadow user raised an eyebrow.
"Shukaku's obsessed with it." Temari waved a hand lazily. "Apparently you instantly jump from his "kill slowly" list to his "kill quickly" list if you compliment it enough times within his hearing range. Gaara even says that when he isn't going off on wild rants, the thing spends most of his time grooming the thing even though he's technically made completely out of sand."
Kankuro snickered. "While compared to what I've heard about the other Biju's tails he, does seem to be the most impressive looking, I think that the giant sand nut spend too much time drooling over it."
"You try comparing yourself with eight siblings that are all pretty much better than you in one way or another!" The Ichibi snapped inside of Gaara, getting a brief moment of pause from the Kazekage. "Matabi's tails are on FUCKING FIRE! BLUE FIRE! How the hell am I supposed to go up against that under normal circumstances!? And don't you dare suggest try to light myself on fire! I already tried that once a few centuries ago and it sucked! It didn't work that well either."
"… I am convinced that if Shukaku was just a bit smarter he'd get along with the Oogakari far more easily than I am comfortable with." The Kazekage frowned, causing his brother to burst out loud laughing and the rest of the group to hold back their chuckled desperately.
"At least his tails aren't tentacles." Temari commented between giggles. "From what I heard the Hachibi and the Yonbi's tails are those. Trust me Gaara, you'd be hard pressed to get a girlfriend if it was public knowledge that you had a tentacle monster in your gut."
"From what I've heard, the main reason why the Hachibi's container can't get a girlfriend is because he's an idiot that can't shut up." Shikamaru smirked.
"Agreed." Gaara nodded sagely.
"What is he? In his thirties?" the Naara asked with mock disappointment.
"Thirty four, but sometimes it feels like I'm talking to a ten year old." The redhead answered, shaking his head in shame. How someone like that managed to gain full control over his tailed beast was beyond him. "The sad thing is that even when he's not joking around it's hard to take him seriously."
Kankuro was now having trouble breathing as he drunkenly started hammering the table while laughing his lungs out.
"Humph. Gyuki deserves a better container than that idiot." The Ichibi snorted while picking at his tail's folds meticulously. "Unlike that prick Kurama, he was always the more reasonable of the higher numbered biju to deal with."
Gaara paused and decided to talk to his biju privately. "Shukaku… you are not one that a person would expect to talk about rationality and being reasonable. In fact I believe that the first time I have ever heard you talk about someone in a positive light."
"I am not a fool! Just because I get aroused from killing any and all that come across my sights does not mean I do not recognize those that have potential! Of course, I tend to kill those ones as well, but the ones I don't I at least remember!" The Tanuki snapped irritably. "Gyuki is the only one of my siblings that I actually like and won't kill on sight! Kurama though, I want to end with every fiber of my being!"
"Yes you've made that last bit abundantly clear several times over the course of our relationship." Gaara humored his biju dryly. While he and his tenant still did not get along for the most part, they could, occasionally, engage in somewhat lucid conversations. "But since I tend to want and need the ones you want to kill around the most, you are unfortunately going to have to look for another vice to waste long periods of time on. Your tail is rather impressive. Perhaps if you put that sort of effort into something else… like furthering your control and range of your powers…"
"… Are you calling me fat?" The Ichibi growled dangerously, completely missing the point.
The Kazekage's eye twitched once. "No, and I am not getting in this argument with you gain Shukaku."
"I keep telling everyone! I'm not fat! My gut is just larger so that I can breathe in more air because it's my element! I need deeper lungs so that I can KILL DAMN IT! WHY DOESN'T ANYONE UNDERSTAND THIS!? SO WHAT IF I'M THE ONLY BIJU WITH A BEER BELLY?! I'll KILL THEM! I'LL KILL THEM ALL!" The demonic tanuki ranted more to himself than anyone else, progressively getting louder and louder as he built himself into a murderous frenzy.
"Voices in your head giving you trouble again?" Shikamaru asked curiously, bringing the redhead back to the real world.
"If it was possible, I would very much like to harm a good number of the other biju for being very poor elder siblings." Gaara grunted irritably.
"Not even going to bother asking what that's about." Temari sighed as she swirled her wine in her glass and looked out over the village, leaning against her not-boyfriend. "It's a really good view tonight."
Indeed. With the unusually red sun setting to the side and not a cloud in the sky, the view was rather spectacular for the dinner party. It was a relaxing evening after a day full of politics and paperwork. It was nice to just relax, be with friends and let the gentle wind that was allowed to their dining area to pass over their skin…
All at once their eyes widened as the same thought crossed their minds…
o. o. o.
"Haha! Chug! Chug!" Ino cheered as she poured more sake down Choji's throat. Thankfully the teen's large body gave him a massive alcohol tolerance, but it did not unfortunately make him immune from the need to breathe.
"Ino! Calm down!" Sakura laughed, a bit tipsy herself as she leaned against Sasuke and held her drink. "Give the poor boy some space!"
"I've read that if a person tries to get one of their friends of the opposite gender very drunk, it normally means that they are going to try and take advantage of them later." Sai thoughtfully commented with a glass of water in front of him. As a ROOT shinobi, he had been trained to never drink alcohol under any circumstances save for when dealing with clients in social events.
"Sai, you know as well as we do that Ino doesn't need to get Choji drunk in order to take advantage of him." Kin snickered as she downed some rather strong alcohol. She had been drinking the stuff since she had been in Oto since everyone pretty much needed a buzz after seeing one of Orochimaru's experiments. The only things about her habit that had changed since going to Konoha was the amount she could drink (more), the frequency at which she drank (less), and where she stashed her drinks so Lee didn't accidentally get his hands on them.
"It honestly makes me fear for his life when you say things like that." Sasuke smirked with his mask still on. Since it was the middle of spring, the outside tables at the barbecue restaurant they were at were available and gave them a picnic like setting.
Also, since they were in public, Sasuke would not be caught dead without his mask on lest he risk attracting fangirls. Ever since he hit puberty, the mobs had been doubling their efforts to get to him. It was only by covering his facial features and being around Sakura was he able to curb the swarms to manageable levels.
Thank all that was holy that Kakashi taught him how to eat with the mask still up.
The largest teen's coughing drew everyone's attention. "Ino! Please! That's enough!"
The blonde girl giggled as she inspected the bottle in her hands. "A third of a bottle in a single go. Not bad. Not bad at all."
"Ino, I know you're good with curing poisons, but just how good are you with alcohol poisoning?" Sakura half curiously, half worriedly asked. "Downing that much that fast can't be good for him."
"Don't worry forehead." The Yamanaka sighed as she hugged her boyfriend and put a hand on his front and back before making them glow green with medical chakra moments later. "I'm more than good enough to make sure nothing bad happens to my baby…"
"That's one big baby." Sai stated offhandedly.
"And he's all mine." Ino grinned with the slightest hint of a challenge in her voice.
"Don't even try to do the same thing to me Sakura." Sasuke warned knowingly to his pink haired girlfriend. "Trust me. Large amounts of alcohol and Uchiha don't mix." There are reports from back when his family was still around and in charge of the police force as well as ones that were taken from the hospital and documented under clan business. The number of self immolations caused from sloppy drinking and reckless jutsu casting alone was more than enough to humiliate the Uchiha name for months if not years. All the skill in wielding the Sharingan would not help you if your face was covered in sake when spewing a fireball from your mouth.
"Of course I won't." The girl pouted, albeit somewhat too innocently. "I took the hypocritical oath. I'd get in deep if I got someone injured so I could have the excuse to use my medical techniques and run my hands over your very well kept body as much as I wanted…"
"I believe this is what being the third wheel is like." Sai spoke more to himself than anyone else as he watched Sakura begin to kiss Sasuke several times on the cheek since his lips were currently unavailable.
"This is nothing." Kin shrugged. "Try being alone with Lee and Gai-sensei."
"Hey Sasuke, ever get the feeling that when people compliment us on Ino and Sakura, they tend to forget that they're, you know…" Choji asked with a slightly red face.
"Among the most dangerous females on the planet and merely having their hands resting on our bodies is enough to put our lives in horrific amounts of danger?" The Uchiha finished with an amused tone, not at all uncomfortable with his current situation of his life being apparently in horrific amounts of danger with Sakura gently resting her head and hands on his side. "I believe that applies more to me than you my friend. Sakura doesn't absently play with poisonous needles in public."
"You're just jealous cause you lost your chance with me." Ino stuck out her tongue at the raven haired male childishly.
"I'll learn to live with it." Sasuke rolled his eyes.
"Keyword. Live." Kin giggled.
"She's not bad." Choji admonished. "Ino just gets… overexcited sometimes…"
"I bet that makes your sex life really interesting." Sai added cheerfully before pausing and seeing everyone stare at him warily. "… What? Did I say it too soon?"
"Too bluntly." Sakura corrected with a sigh.
"Speaking of monstrously dangerous girlfriends, how long do you think Naruto's going to last when Hinata gets her hands on him?" Kin asked with an evil grin.
Ino snorted. "Depends. If he's still afraid of "the hunt" and she doesn't snag him on first sight, she might just force him to snuggle for a massive amount of time after tying him down." She hugged Choji tightly. "I like the snuggling."
"The snuggling is indeed awesome." Choji nodded in agreement as he gently rubbed his girlfriend's back affectionately.
"And if she catches him early?" Sai questioned curiously.
Sakura and Sasuke sighed before the former answered. "Then we might have to save Naruto's life and what remains of his innocence."
The blonde in the group looked at the pair incredulously. "You're actually dumb enough to consider getting in between a fully charged Hinata and Naruto on their first meeting in years? The girl is dangerous enough on her normal days for me to not want to spar with her. Remember when she destroyed me, Kin, Shino, Kiba, and Tenten at the same time?"
"I try not to." The black haired girl winced at recalling the event. "I had trouble walking and eating for days after that one."
Sasuke shrugged. "She said might for a reason Ino."
"Point made." The mind reader nodded, conceding the argument at the drop of a hat.
"What about Tenten?" Sai asked. "Isn't she quite dangerous as well?"
Sakura snorted. "That's an understatement. The girl is so dangerous that even without being familiar with a tenth of those weapons she can make she's still a jonin. She doesn't have absurd speed or strength, but her jutsu…" She shivered.
"It's the ones she does know how to use, and can use, that you have to worry about." Sasuke shivered as well. "That red spear that she can make that goes for the heart still gives me nightmares occasionally. It was a mistake to try and watch the thing in action with my Sharingan. My head nearly split trying to figure out what happened."
"Makes you glad that your girlfriend is much simpler and only knows your body inside out better than you do, doesn't it." Sakura innocently cooed with a blush as she, like Ino, snuggled to her boyfriend's chest. She normally didn't act like this, but alcohol does do wonders for inhibitions after all.
"So long as you never play doctor with me." The Uchiha muttered under his breath. His mind had already been mess with horrifically by his brother. He'd like for at least his body and organs to remain unmolested.
Kin burst out laughing as the mental image of Sakura playing evil doctor on her beloved patient appeared, complete with corny music and costumes that would only appear in one of Jiraiya's books. Soon enough the rest of the group was laughing as well.
It was a good night. They were having fun with one another. Nothing serious was happening. The weather was good. The sky was clear. A brief breeze passed through the streets…
They all stopped laughing instantly turned to look towards the east…
o. o. o.
"Zabuza-san…" Haku excitedly spoke up as she looked towards the sea.
"No doubt about it." The large man nodded with an eager grin.
o. o. o.
Somewhere in the Land of Fire:
"Is something the matter Lady Hyuga?" The noble who had hired team eight asked as he held out the payment for the recent completed mission. His curiosity not unwarranted as the girl, in addition to her teammates and the dog they had with them had all turned at the same time in a particular direction as if they heard something. It did not escape him that the girl's normally calm and politely pleasant expression slowly stretched into something akin to elated…
o. o. o.
Jiraiya chuckled as he meditated on a slab of stone, balancing perfectly on the tip of a stone spire at least a hundred feet above the ground. Save for the pigmentations around his eyes, he looked as human he always did.
o. o. o.
"Bee!" A roared irritably as his adopted brother laughed hysterically from the top of the Raikage's tower. "Shut up and get the hell down from there! You're being more annoying than normal!"
The leader of Kumo and his guard were so preoccupied by the man's antics that they didn't notice Yugito leaning against a pillar nearby, not paying the slightest attention to Bee and instead looking in the same direction he was with a frown on her face…
o. o. o.
Roshi sighed as he sat on top of the Tsuchikage's tower and drank deeply from his stash of sake while looking towards the south.
"Roshi…" Goku spoke up cautiously from inside his container.
"Yeah." The Lava user replied in a soft dark tone, swirling the booze in his hand almost absently. "I know."
o. o. o.
Land of Rice Patties:
"Anko." Hana whispered with a hint of excitement into her radio as her comrade sneaked deeper into the abandoned castle that used to be a part of Otogakure.
"Oh yeah." The snake user replied just as softly, but with the underlying eagerness of a child on Christmas Eve.
o. o. o.
Scabbard Oogakari flipped through some spy reports in one of his many hidden offices. He did not blink, frown, or so much as twitch as the faint traces of wind passed by him through the air vents of the building he was in.
"A little earlier than expected, but it is not detrimental to the situation." The man muttered to the empty room.
o. o. o.
All around the shinobi world, people stopped and paused as a single small gust of wind passed them by, no more than a breeze. Many brushed it off as something inconsequential, but a select few knew what the air it brought contained… and what it meant.
They were back.
Akatsuki was coming.
The time available to prepare in safety was officially over.
The games had begun once more.
o. o. o.
Somewhere in the middle of the elemental nations:
"Hooh?" Ghost grinned as he turned his head left and right. "Well, there goes our chance to surprise everyone with our return. Quite a number of people felt our arrival."
"A shame, but when one door closes, another opens." The blonde teen smirked as he appeared through the rift in reality before it closed on itself, leaving nothing but air where it once was. Most of his equipment was sealed in scrolls that hung over his waist, but he also held some other unknown materials in a large round bag that was strapped over one shoulder and diagonally across his body.
"True true." The immortal nodded in agreement.
The jinchuriki looked around curiously. They were deep in the woods and there weren't any telling natural landmarks in sight or in his range of sensing that he could use to tell where he was. In the very far off distance he could barely feel the locations of shinobi in general, but once more it was not enough to get his bearings with. "Where are we exactly?"
"Somewhere near Kusa I think." Ghost shrugged. "I aimed for the general middle of the elemental countries. Wasn't really that specific when I set up the jump."
"For a man who supposedly trained himself to be a god killer, you tend to be remarkably lazy about important details at times." The blue eyed teen commented in an almost bewildered tone.
"It's a gift." The immortal brushed off the accusation. "Now onto more important things. Pranking and humiliation. Since we can't just say, "Hi we're back" while popping into someone's house anymore, I believe hiding near a place where people know you would be a good idea. Just sneak around them for a while and make the hairs on the back of their heads stand for a bit. Maybe give them a brief look at you before disappearing, just to mess with their heads… and then when they're freaking themselves out in paranoia… WE SHALL SHIFT EVERYTHING IN THEIR ROOMS, NAY THEIR ENTIRE HOUSES, NINETY DEGREES TO THE LEFT WHILE THEY SLEEP!"
Naruto nodded in complete agreement to his master's pointless, immature, and insane plan while reaching back for one of his scrolls. "Indeed, that is a pretty good idea for a later prank Ero-Nii, however I have a better idea we can use." He grinned savagely and tossed the curious man the scroll. "Check it out."
Ghost raised an eyebrow as he caught the scroll and opened it to see something was sealed inside. "Oh? Well far be it to ignore suggestions. Let's see what you got."
Poof. Boom. Crunch.
In an instant, the man was crushed by several tons worth of fried rice, dumplings, eggdrop soup, and other Chinese dishes.
"Hurgh? Murhwa? MEashrADHIEA?! GHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
It should be restated that the man is REALLY traumatized by Chinese food.
Running away as fast as he could, the blonde laughed loudly and maliciously. "Payback's a bitch Ero-Nii! I told you I'd get revenge for the crap you put me through! HAHAHAHAHAHA!"
Further and further away from his progressively freaking out master the teen ran, alone and for the first time in years alone to do as he pleased. No training. No abnormal time space chaos. No super powered psychos around him, warping his already view of reality even further than it had already been pushed. No working in some military system with the higher ups yelling at him to do one thing or another.
He was free. He was under no one's gaze…
He was running in the opposite direction of Konoha.
You had to hand it to Naruto. As far as opening moves went, this definitely was one that no one expected.
o. o. o.
Why Ghost is not the number one assassin in the Multiverse:
"I will get him this time." The immortal swore with his bone wings out and his swords drawn. One could feel the air in the room reverberating with energy stemming from the man, itching for a command to move.
"This again?" Scab sighed. "Must we go through this every year?"
"I will destroy him this year." Ghost growled. "I have learned his system. I am aware of his strengths and weaknesses. I have memorized his patterns. I will not lose this time."
"I'm not supporting this." Waltz sighed as he sat next to Crypt and Shadow, all eating popcorn and waiting for a show. "I'll enjoy it, but I don't support it in the slightest."
"I do." A new voice made itself known from the corner of the room, gaining everyone's attention. From the shadows that shouldn't exist, Old Saint Nick in his blood red suit walked out, massive hairy barrel sized arms crossed over his ripped chest with not a gut to be seen. A wry grin clearly visible through his thick white beard. All in all, he could have passed as Waltz' brother save for the opposite color scheme. "It gives me something to look forward to. No one else can give me a good challenge these days."
"SAAAAANNNNTTTAAAAA." Ghost all but hissed as if he was possessed.
"Same rules as usual then?" The man of the north chuckled innocently. "First one to get their loads delivered to all their locations on their half of the planet first without leaving a single trace for round one. Then for round two we see who can murder the most naughty targets, without leaving a single trace, and for round three …"
"We fight till the last one stands…" The blind man grinned demonically. "Or until one of us slips up and leaves a trace."
The two stared at one another intently for several seconds before they both disappeared without a trace.
Scab rolled his eyes. "You do realize the only reason why Mr. Kringle does this is because Ghost lightens his work load during the holidays."
"Give the guy a break." Shadow chuckled. "He manages an army of elves that not only make the toys he delivers, but also acts as an information network on every bloody person on the planet. They even give you a hard time once in a while."
"Then there's the fact that he can sneak into every house in a single night, and possibly leaves coal, which can easily start a fire if it is powdered, sprayed around the room, and then a spark goes off." Waltz shrugged. "Really he's all but saying that he can kill you and make it look like an accident whenever he wants."
"And to top it all off the world knows what he does, and instead of using their heads and realizing he's taunting everyone, they make a bloody holiday of it and worship his name. For centuries." Shadow concluded.
"Is it really any wonder why Ghost can't stand the fact that he's a better assassin than him?"
o. o. o.
Merry. Fucking. Christmas. You bastards.
I will not be updating this often. I am still focusing on FFD, but at least this should calm down everyone who's been asking me for the sequel already.
I had a bit of trouble starting this. I had to switch more than a few mental gears in order to get this down to the level that I liked and the amount of crack that I liked. I find that reading the Bobobo manga helps a lot… which may or may not be a bad thing.
On a side note, for those who get the reference, the events in the fic ECHOES by Kagaseo with the involvement of my characters is completely cannon. Check it out. The grammar is a bit rough at the beginning, but the guy kills off characters and make plot twists on the level of George RR Martin.
As for why this really took so long, blame real life. Grad school finals. Work causing me to stay late. The computer eating up roughly a third of the chapter that I had to rewrite. The list goes on for way longer than I like. If it didn't, I had planned, and would have, made a chapter of FFD to go along with this.
But yeah, once again, FFD takes priority. There's no way I'm diverting my attention from it now of all times.
Gotta finish this up before I go to grandma's for the Christmas dinner. That woman cooks like a pro.
So that's it folks! REVIEW! WORSHIP THE LOG! STOP ASKING ME ABOUT WHEN THE SEQUEL IS COMING OUT FOR FUCKS SAKE! AND REVIEW AGAIN!