Chapter Three: Ever have to wake up early for something that you generally don't want to do… and then for some reason wake up an hour before that for no reason at all? It is indeed a great evil that must be solved and murdered with sadistic glee.
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.
o. o. o.
"Let's see." The blond looked at the remains of his mother's old town from the top of a tree on the outskirts. "Overall unimpressive ruins of a normal looking village at the coast of the sea. Tons of rampant and unrestrained plant growth. No obvious signs of human life. Average signs of animal life. No outstanding chakra signatures inside or outside of the place. And no signs of recent major conflict or activity… I'm betting a thousand ryo that I accidentally trigger at least a dozen traps while we're here."
"I have no need for your human money, and even if I did have it I know better than to go up against odds that bad." Kurama snorted right next to him.
"Same here." Minato agreed from within his son. "Any money we would have would technically be yours anyway."
"… Would any of you like to take out a loan?"
"Hell no." His mother snorted, clearly in a bad mood. She had not seen her old home since she was taken away as a child, and while she did consider herself a citizen of Konoha, the view before her still hurt.
"Eh. Couldn't hurt to ask." The youngest there shrugged. "So what do you guys honestly think? Considering this was supposed to be a pretty sizeable village back in the day means that there should have been quite a number of people here over the years. Its location made it pretty valuable as a military base too if the Daimyo wanted to use it, but since it's all rotting and left alone…"
"It's likely that there are indeed old traps here." Minato concluded. "No one wanted to work on the place out of fear of triggering them and loosing men and resources. Plus it's a bit out of the way, so even getting the proper people and equipment here would have been expensive. Since the shinobi nations are demilitarizing or had more important tasks at the time, I wouldn't be surprised if the lord just left the area alone. The locals probably don't come here because they are aware of the traps, but also believe that the place is haunted or something along those lines."
"A fine way to respect old comrades, wouldn't you say?" The fox yawned. "Say what you wish about me, at least my kin does not overflow with hypocrisy."
"No, they just blow things up mindlessly and do absolutely nothing productive in the mean time." Kushina snarked.
"Oi oi. Calm down you two. Honestly, sometimes I wonder who the married couple really is. You can go for one another's throats after we explore the potentially dangerous dead village." Naruto sighed as he took out a scroll and unraveled it to reveal two sealing matrixes. With a brief pulse of chakra, two humanoid puppets dressed in ANBU gear, only with black masks with white fox decorations appeared and floated in front of him. Another instant later Naruto had put his hands on their backs and forced his mother's and father's souls into the constructs, causing them to gain color and flesh. "You guys good?"
"A bit stiff." Minato joked as he hopped a little bit to get used to his temporary body. He did not have as much power as he did when he was alive as he couldn't regenerate his own chakra anymore, being completely dependent on his son in order to keep on existing, but he could still give most S ranked shinobi a run for their money as he was before being forced to return again. "I take it that Kushina and I are to go on ahead and check for traps?"
"Seals." Naruto corrected as he put his scroll away. "Normal traps I can handle, but seals are your specialties. You know that I'm nothing special in that department."
"You're not bad. You're no master, but you aren't talentless." Kushina hugged her son briefly. "It's not like being an Uzumaki automatically makes you special at it or give you some miracle bloodline that would make you understand every seal you see or let you make seals as fast as your father. That would be stupid. You just have your specialties in a different area."
"Royally screwing everything up." Kurama nodded knowingly before getting slapped upside the head by Minato. "I will end you!"
"You already did. Remember?" The former Hokage countered wryly.
"Why do you think I'm sending these two first?" Naruto snorted knowingly at the growling fox, not at all insulted by the earlier comment. "Besides, this trip was more for Mom and Dad anyways. Anything we find will more than likely help them out more than me." He paused briefly. "And can you stop with the dead jokes already? Ero-Ni should have never introduced you two to Brook."
"Skull joke!" The married couple chanted at the same time merrily.
"No!" The youngest snapped. "No skull joke! Bad! You know I hate all things revolving around necromancy unless I can exploit it in some way or if the results don't suck! I had a hard enough time wearing that damn half zombie guy thing as a backpack because for some log forsaken reason his stomach was a hammerspace!"
"Sometimes I wish that the shinigami just took my entire soul that night. It would have made things so much simpler." The fox groaned, ignoring the zombie backpack incident. "A living skeleton with an afro that gets better by drinking milk. It is so bizarre that I can only rationalize it by associating it with you Naruto."
"Come on Kurama, he's a good guy. Even you liked his music." Minato tried to placate the demon.
"Oh quit your moaning. At least you can say that you aren't related to them." Naruto grunted just as evenly before turning to the two that he was related to. "Just go on ahead and experiment with the possibly deadly traps that may or may not exist will you? I'm just going to wait here a bit. Kurama, you're in charge of making sure I don't do anything stupid."
"Great, I have the dangerous job."
"Sucks to be you." Kushina smirked under her mask, not at all arguing against the Fox's statement before disappearing in a shunshin.
"We'll be back soon." Minato nodded before also vanishing.
"Well they're gone." Naruto yawned as he lay back on the branch he was on. "I'm gonna take a nap. Haven't slept since we got back actually."
The fox looked at its container warily. "You actually wish to sleep without your kin or I inside to stabilize your mind? You wouldn't be able to get five minutes before waking up in a cold sweat."
The blond shrugged as he closed his eyes. "Hey I gotta get used to it sooner or later. I can't rely on you guys for every time I get a mental breakdown."
Kurama shook his head and curled up into a ball on a nearby branch. "Suit yourself. I will keep watch in case something irregular does happen in the very brief time you are asleep, as unlikely as it is."
"Who are you kidding? You're rolling with me Kurama. Never doubt the odds." Naruto smirked before he slowed his breathing and allowed his exhaustion to slowly wash over his mind and body, clouding out everything he perceived of the outside world…
Walking down the hallway, he could hear the screaming of countless people. Gender, race, age, intelligence, family, health, religion, country, species, condition, it made no difference. They were all there. There was no discrimination. They were all tortured ruthlessly.
And he was unable to look away even though he wanted to. His body was not under his control.
He saw a small colored girl bolted to a chair scream her lungs out as her left leg was skinned to match her skinless right. Around her the sadistic doctors paid her no mind and merely kept notes.
To his right, he saw a married couple in two fused but separated prison cells watch as the other was either avoiding being eaten alive by the rats around their feet, or pecked full of holes by the crows around their heads. Neither had not a scrap of clothing to protect them in the slightest. He could already tell that several toes and fingers were eaten away and half their hair was gone. It looked like one of their eyes was taken out too.
The animals didn't care about their predicament. They were just hungry. There was nothing inherently evil about their actions.
A little further he saw some sort of female humanoid alien with several insect like arms, half of them already removed, being raped by a group of rather crude and disgusting large men in every way possible. He couldn't look away as the one of them complained about her being too loose, and as a result prompted one of the other men there to cut off another of her arms, apparently to make the pain cause her to "tighten up" again. It seemed to have worked because the one who complained earlier moaned in pleasure moments later.
An hour later, they had gotten bored with her and chopped off her head before moving to another alien woman, this time she was part fish or something.
At least they ended her quickly.
Why won't it stop already?
Even further down he saw some sort of giant insect species dragging people into their nests where they were wrapped up in some sort of silk and injected with a peculiar fluid from their stingers. They were all very much alive and awake and in pain. He watched as one of the older human residents, a young boy no older than ten screamed frantically as his webbing expanded and burst out in blood and gore. From the dead child's body emerged dozens of smaller versions of the insects that wasted no time consuming the body mindlessly.
Every image of the boy's skull being cracked open and his organs torn apart was permanently etched into his mind.
Then again he was already dead by that point. Might as well put his remains to use. Not like there was any difference between feeding those monsters and feeding countless worms…
This is so sick and annoying and wrong. Just free me and let me stop this shit already! All of this is pointless!
Living human musical instruments. People trapped in their own minds. Creatures treating mankind as cattle and vise versa. Experimentation. Genocide. Fratricide. Suicide. Isolation. Overexposure. Lobotomies. Insanity. Rationality. Confusion…
He was getting too used to watching it all…
He could have stopped it all. His body was there as well as his power and equipment. Unrestrained. Unguarded. Unhindered... but his body was not under his control, so he could only watch.
If only he was in control again. If only he could move as he wished, he could save all these people… stop their suffering… make their screams stop… end this endless show… give him peace…
Yet the twisted carnival had more tricks to play on its lone spectator. Without warning reality began to twist upon itself. It did not stop the show, but instead merely changed who the performers were. Not illusions, but echoes across the realities met the trapped teen's eyes as he saw each torture start anew with different people, ages, numbers, species, genders, religions and other specifying traits played the roles of both torturer and tortured. All without caring about his existence. All without end.
A man's voice broke through the violent chaos. It was not gentle, serene, holy, or anything along those lines… however it was calm. Calm and stern and full of finality that emitted a sense of stability and rationality that was not present anywhere else in this land of hell.
"There was a saying that to truly test a person's mettle, give them power… however this is not the only way. Give them the ability to change. To influence. To affect others… then take it all away. Make them watch the world turn in all its cruel glory. Ensure that they cannot look anywhere else or run. Make them realize how helpless they truly are to stop things when it mattered, that it would continue even if they could move as they wished… and then free them… and let them fall."
"It makes one wonder, if they do ever manage get back up after crashing to the earth that they thought they knew so well…
…What broke from the impact… what was broken before they ever landed?
Better still… did they ever realize they were still falling when they finally did land?"
Naruto's eyes snapped open as he breathed heavily, looking around himself frantically to see that he was still in the forest.
"Well then. You proved me wrong once again." Kurama stated calmly from his spot.
"You managed to sleep for eight minutes this time."
o. o. o.
"Well this is a new setup." Ino mused as she walked to Kakashi, Sakura and Sasuke just before they went into the Hokage's office. "I don't think we've been put together like this before."
"The raw offensive capabilities of the old team seven with Ino's sensory and poison skills." Kakashi mused as he opened the door for the others. "There're only a handful of missions I can think of that would require our unusual status."
"The odds are likely that the one I give you falls under that category." Tsunade frowned as the door closed behind them and the room was instantly sealed to prevent anyone from eavesdropping.
Sasuke rose an eyebrow skeptically. Normally the office wasn't sealed during mission briefings for anything short of high A ranked or S ranked missions. Given the stern look on the Sanin's face, the Uchiha was willing to bet that this job was going to be a pain in the ass.
"I take it you all know that Ghost is back." The Hokage stated factually.
"I heard it through the grapevine." Kakashi shrugged as he read another book that he had taken out while no one was looking.
"I helped treat him a few nights ago." Sakura stated evenly. "Not even a full day here and he managed to get thrown out of the window four damn times. You should have heard the other nurses complain about fixing up the windows and rooms he destroyed."
"Sakura told me." Sasuke answered simply.
"Didn't need to hear about it." Ino yawned. "The air around the village is active again with his chakra. It's not interfering with my sensing, more like a very faint annoying buzzing in the background that I have to get used to. Only the more sensitive sensors are able to pick it up from what I can tell, let alone know what it is."
"Good." The eldest there frowned. "Then you know that the current story around town with regards to Naruto is that he made a detour to Myobokuzan to do some last second training with the toads before returning to active duty."
The four standing in front of her looked at her with resignation emanating from them in one way or another. "And the real story is?" Sasuke sighed, knowing he wasn't going to like what he was going to hear.
Tsunade maintained her poker face, however no one there missed the killing intent in the room slowly rise. "Long story short, Naruto somehow managed to successfully ambush Ghost while they were in the elemental nations and ran away to more or less… be on a self imposed vacation."
The room was silent for a good while as the four digested the information.
"… I shouldn't be surprised by this." Sasuke shook his head. "I really shouldn't."
"I won't kill him." Sakura smiled serenely while flexing her hands to crack her knuckles expertly. "I'll just break his limbs in several places and ensure that the Kyubi can't heal them. Killing him is Hinata's job and she will no doubt far surpass my expectations."
"Just when you think he can't outdo himself, he raises the bar." Ino groaned. "Again."
"I may have understated it when I called him the village's most unpredictable shinobi." Kakshi sighed, surprised enough that he actually put his book away. "I see why we were gathered here now. We're a tracking, heavy assault, and capture team. Dare I ask if there was any reason in particular why Naruto decided to take his leave on his own? He does do impulsive things, but rarely without reason."
The Hokage closed her eyes and sighed heavily. "This information is not to leave this room under any circumstances. It is S ranked and punishable by at least expulsion of the ranks and having your memories wiped."
The mood in the room instantly turned somber.
"Naruto's training turned out to be harsher on his psyche than anyone originally anticipated." She continued darkly. "While he is exceptionally stronger physically and mentally, his emotional capabilities have been wrecked. In particular, his ability to empathize with others in distress, or in layman's terms he's virtually unable to feel people's pain anymore or tell when his actions might hurt others emotionally. From what I've been told he is very much aware of this and he sure as hell doesn't like it. It's one of the leading reasons why he chose to do what he did. His logic is that he needs to spend time with normal civilians and people in order to regain some of what he has lost. There's a sense of stability and normalcy out there that he would not apparently be able to get in Konoha."
"Can't technically argue with that." Kakashi mused as he went over the list of more chaotic individuals that resided in the hidden village. More often than not they had some sort of strong connection to the blond.
"Desensitization and drastic reduction of empathetic concern?" Ino frowned as she briefly went through the psychology lessons that her clan crammed into her head. "Naruto was nuts but he always cared about how everyone else felt. He was also one of the most stubborn people in the village. What the hell did Ghost do to him?"
"Without going into details, Ghost showed the brat too much." Tsunade stated ominously. "He showed the brat too much and prevented him from looking away for even a second."
"That certainly brings up a few unwanted memories…" Kakashi mused as he recalled similar training during his time in the ANBU to remove any sort of emotional hesitation he might encounter during his mission, although he had a feeling that the immortal took it up to untold extremes in his version.
"Why me though?" Ino continued. "Wouldn't Hinata be better? She's a hell of a lot stronger than me and she's got a better relationship with Naruto, not to mention she's got the byakugan."
"Hinata's byakugan is strong, but it does not have the range and chakra sensitivity that you possess." Sakura answered, already putting the pieces together. "We have a better chance of finding him with you. If we can't find him, we won't be able to fight him in the first place."
"So why aren't I with the tracking team then?" The Yamanaka continued. "We'd have a better shot of finding him that way."
"Naruto has mastered his wind manipulation so much that he can fly over long distances." The Hokage state bluntly, causing the team to wince. "It wouldn't be difficult to imagine him already on the other side of the continent from where he started by now."
"Ah." Sakura grimace as she looked at Sasuke. "So that's why we were picked then."
"This mission is to be told to no one." Tsunade continued as she took out a scroll and handed it to Kakashi. "Inside is all the data we have on Naruto after his training, straight from Ghost. It has his new moves, his habits, pictures, and an overall estimation of his mental condition."
"Another question." The Ino raised her hand. "How the hell are we supposed to take him down if things somehow get too rough and he goes Kyubi on us?" A brief flinch from the rest of the group indicated that they too just remembered that Naruto's abilities extended far past his arsenal of massively destructive techniques.
"There's no need for concern there." The Hokage sighed and rubbed her temple. "For better or for worse, apparently, Ghost "overdid" it with Naruto's training and claimed the brat was too strong if he used the Kyubi's chakra or his other backup power in a fight, so he sealed them off "to keep things interesting.""
"… Are you sure we can't just keep him out of the village?" Sasuke asked skeptically. "I can't help but feel safer if we did that."
"We already have the Oogakari here Sasuke, might as well let Naruto join the fun too." Kakashi sighed.
"Is there anything else we need to know about Tsunade-sama?" Sakura asked warily, knowing that any additional information given by this point would be both good and bad news.
The eldest one there nodded darkly. "Mm. A bird came in a couple of days ago. I was going to announce it to the others later today, but this takes priority with you. Akatsuki's finally begun to move for the jinchuriki."
"Already?" Kakashi asked as the rest of the shinobi there frowned, their irritation with Naruto vanishing in an instant.
"We've received word that the Rokubi has already been captured. The bird I mentioned was from Suna. Gaara was attacked by two of their members, but with some help from Shikamaru and some of the residents there, he managed to heavily injure one and push them back. Unfortunately though both Sasori of the Red Sand and the terrorist bomber Deidara managed to escape with their lives."
"And behind the official story?" Kakashi questioned, already able to tell that there was something omitted from what they were just told.
"The Kazekage informed Shikamaru through the veil of casual dialogue that Naruto was there and helped protect his people from one of Deidara's more… creative bombs without anyone noticing." Tsunade admitted shamelessly. "Gaara was the only one that Naruto revealed himself to, somehow he managed to pick up some of Ghost's annoying stealth habits, so not even Akatsuki is aware that he was there thankfully. According to the Kazekage, the brat seemed to behave the same as usual, however there were times where he was a bit more impulsive and recklessly without thinking his actions through. He was concerned about Naruto's mental health, noting that he did seem to have undergone some sort of major traumatic experience. There were distinct signs of sleep deprivation and mental exhaustion."
"Gaara would know about that." Sakura nodded. "He spent the first dozen years of his life constantly awake after all."
"I'm kinda surprised he told us this." Ino rose an eyebrow. "Aren't he and Naruto tight? Why would he rat him out like that?"
"It's because they're close that he's doing it." Kakashi answered. "Obviously he's worried enough about Naruto's well being to ignore his request. Considering how much we tend to ignore his behavior and trust him to do the right thing but Gaara told us anyways, I don't consider it to be a good sign."
"Do we have a better idea of what Naruto meant by "vacation"?" Sasuke inquired. "You know how we tend to twist the meaning of words around to get what we want."
"From what Shikamaru sent us, we're under the impression that he's just wandering around the elemental nations doing whatever the hell he wants for a few months without supervision. He won't instigate anything on purpose or confront the Akatsuki, but that doesn't mean he won't get involved if he feels it is needed as the event in Suna shows." The Hokage summarized. "He even stated that if Akatsuki started going after him in particular again he would come right back, but until then he's flying wild."
"Several months is a long time." Kakashi mused as he filtered through all of what he remembered from the future. "Any chance he mention about how he was going to do damage control when his luck tanks again?"
No one missed the fact that he said "when" and not "if".
"Can we possibly not be around when that happens?" Ino asked hopefully, only for the rest in the room to give her a sharp look in response. "Figures."
"We're under the impression that he will occasionally go to locations that are or rumored to be experiencing unusual activities. Obviously this would more than likely cause things to go out of control, however his track record for stabilizing such situations speaks for itself. At the very least though, he should be smart enough to not announce who he is to everyone in a five kilometer radius."
o. o. o.
Naruto stood on top of a giant robot standing in the middle of a war zone consisting of primarily demons, knights, and wizards, all of whom were staring at him with a similar expression that could be summed up as WTF, with his arms crossed and his chest puffed out proudly.
"I AM THE FERAL GALE! I AM THE STUDENT OF THE CURSED MEMORY! I CAST THE WIND MAGIKS THAT MAKE THE PEOPLES FALL DOWN AND THE OTHER STUFFS BLOW UP! COME AT ME BITCHES! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
To this day, Naruto couldn't remember how he managed to get his hands on the giant robot, let alone get it to the middle of the battlefield without anyone noticing.
o. o. o.
"… Hopefully." She added at the end of her sentence in an almost pleading tone.
"So while we're out running blind, you'll be sending stronger teams out to missions that fit that category." Kakashi summarized, making a list of all the missions that fit that category.
"Unless you have a better idea." The woman snorted. "The brat was a pain to keep track of when he was only in the village."
"Why not use the Oogakari to find him?" Ino asked. "Wouldn't Ghost be eager as hell to get back at him?"
"He would if he didn't already say that he deserved it and then some before crying about how proud he was that the idiot finally managed to get one up on him." Tsunade rolled her eyes.
"Should have seen that coming." Sakura groaned.
"And the others?" Sasuke asked.
"They refused." The Hokage once more lamented on how frustrating it was dealing with individuals that she had no genuine control over that lived in her own damn village. For a leader of assassins and warriors, it was more than a bit frustrating. "They're more interested in how things will turn out like this than actually controlling the situation. They won't help us in the slightest unless something exceptionally big happens… maybe."
"Sounds like something they'd say." Kakashi nodded as if agreeing that what she had just stated matched their profiles. "Overall though, the mission is pretty simple. It's just finding and getting Naruto back will be exceptionally hard."
"Trying to fight him head on would be stupid. We don't want to deal with damage control on his level so soon." Sasuke shrugged. "His danger would triple that in mid air, though thankfully he wouldn't be able to break as much there. I doubt anyone would be able to overpower him in the sky save for Ghost or maybe the Tsuchikage."
"How DID Naruto pull one over on Ghost?" Ino raised an eyebrow.
"Trust me. You don't want to know." The Hokage deadpanned. "I found out, and I got pissed. Then I found out the details and I decided not to bother asking about any more of the Oogakari's mental traumas. It's just not worth it."
"Noted." Kakashi stated without missing a beat before taking the files and scrolls that his boss left out for him. "We'll go over the data tonight and leave tomorrow morning. Any ideas as to where he could be now?"
"He was last seen in Suna several days ago, but with his mobility he could literally be anywhere now. If he's smart he'll stay away from any major cities, villages, or places he's made a name for himself. This includes Ame and Iwa. If he's being reckless he'd at least show up in one of the more visited tourist areas or places that are deemed off limits."
"And if he was just doing whatever the hell he wanted on a limb and just didn't want to be bothered by any of his normal chaos just yet?" Ino offered skeptically.
"He'd go to somewhere either isolated or dangerous, but notable to him in some way. He'd probably make some crack about hoping he didn't wreck it while there at some point too." Sasuke shrugged. "I know I would."
"Didn't the Uzumaki have its own village that got destroyed?" Sakura raised an eyebrow thoughtfully. "No one ever built on top of it did they?"
"He was interested in visiting it at one point or another." Kakashi nodded. "But it would be too obvious of a place to visit first. He'd know it would be one of the first places we'd look once we found out that he was gone."
"But we'd know that he would visit eventually." Ino pointed out. "If he was there, I'd be able to tell since his chakra infused air would still linger, and if he wasn't we could set up a trap."
"Sounds like a good enough starting point." Sasuke agreed while taking the folder. "I suggest starting on his combat potential first. We need to know what he can do just in case… though odds are if we do find him he'll just try to run away after the first few techniques. Those exploding clones of his are annoying as hell."
"Still better than the cows." Sakura mumbled as she pocketed her own scroll.
"Ain't that the truth." Ino snorted. "Choji still momentarily hesitates whenever beef is on the barbecue."
o. o. o.
"Any chance you gonna share while we enjoy the show this time?" Kisame asked Itachi casually as they stood on a balcony that overlooked a massive underground arena that Pain used to test potential members of Akatsuki. It was a wide and empty room, nearly a square acre with a high ceiling and several pillars to keep the ceiling up, but other than that it was fairly sparse and unremarkable.
Down below, Konan and Hidan stood a fair distance from one another. One was stoic and seemingly emotionless. The other on the other hand had no hesitation with his endless childish albeit violent threats that yielded no response.
Itachi didn't say anything as he continued to slowly gnaw on the piece of pocky in his mouth, hidden from the view of most by the high collar coat that he wore.
"Yeah." The swordsman sighed disappointedly. "I figured as much."
"Anyone want to make bets?" Kakuzu walked up to the pair without any reservation.
"Don't see the point." Kisame grinned. "You need someone to bet on both sides for the system to work." Obviously no one in the organization had any faith in Hidan's success despite his inability to die.
"Couldn't hurt to ask." The heart thief shrugged. "I'm somewhat hoping that she doesn't find a way to completely off him here."
"Somewhat?" Kisame's surprise was warranted. Kakuzu's loathing of his current partner was only matched by Hidan's hatred of him, something that was not a secret among the others there.
"Hidan's useful. He's the only partner I haven't managed to kill yet, so he serves more of a purpose than anyone else I've worked with."
The swordsman chuckled, flashing his unnaturally sharp teeth. "I'd suggest that you'd stop trying to do that, but until Itachi I was pretty much in the same boat. It's a pretty interesting feeling isn't it? Killing your comrades."
"They're just people I work with. The only difference between them and my targets is I spend more time with one. Normally." The oldest member of Akatsuki snorted impassively. "I don't get sentimental like you."
Kisame snickered. "My my. And they call me a monster."
"To each their own." Itachi spoke up finally without looking at the others but still gaining their attention. And just like that all three of them had silently agreed to change the topic of conversation.
"True enough." Kakuzu nodded.
"Speaking of wrecked teammates." Kisame nodded towards the other side of the room where Deidara and Sasori were arguing about something pointless again. The puppet master had been using a spare body to get around normally while he fixed his original, but it still did nothing to stop everyone from commenting in their own way on his appearance. "Word is that Sasori's out of action till he fixes himself up."
"He wasn't even the one that fought the jinchuriki." The fact that Sasori lost as badly as he did to his grandmother of all things and two teenagers had earned him a great deal of ridicule since he returned. Oh none of the members took his report on the Black Deer and Suna's potential lightly, nor his skills, but it did nothing to hold back the jabbing comments and jokes at his expense whenever they passed him in the halls. "Makes you wonder who Deidara's going to be stuck with for the time being."
"Who knows." Kisame was also pretty curious as to what would happen. Deidara was way too loose of a cannon to be left alone to his own devices, but then again sticking him with another group was just asking for trouble. Sticking two S ranked criminals together was already hard enough to cover up, and that was if they actually got along. Three was impossible to hide.
Then again, there was that large project that Leader was working on. If the whispers were true, the need for subtlety may be in short supply in the near future…
"Hey, just in case Konan does kill Hidan and you get Deidara, don't kill him ok? I've grown a soft spot for the kid. He's brings extra flair to our group."
Kisame turned to his own partner. "You saw it yourself Itachi. Now you can't say I didn't try to help him out."
Itachi replied by barely glancing at the taller man before looking down at the arena.
"Is he always this talkative?" Kakuzu asked skeptically. "Because if he is I wouldn't mind teaming up with him myself."
"Get your own." Kisame frowned. "This one's mine."
Itachi made a mental note to ask the swordsman later about how he was "Kisame's". Possibly with many sharp objects, illusions, and fire.
The snapping of the pocky in his mouth only proved his minor ire.
"What was that?" Kakuzu blinked before looking at the source. "… Are you actually eating candy? I didn't realize you were such a child Itachi."
"I wouldn't go there if I were you." Kisame laughed with a hint of nervousness that no one missed. Obviously he had understood why the candy had snapped in the first place. "Trust me. He doesn't like being called out on his guilty pleasure."
Neither of the taller men missed the fact that Itachi's Sharingan had taken a more malevolent flair right after the eldest's comment despite the fact that they were standing slightly behind him. While they were strong, neither one of them could claim that they were immune to Itachi's absurdly powerful illusions. Both were quite aware that all it took was a glance for the Uchiha to down them for good if he wanted.
"Who doesn't?" Kakuzu saved himself without hesitation. "Now if only Hidan didn't consist of nothing but bad habits and guilty pleasures…"
"True enough. I doubt that anyone here can stand him." Kisame spoke the truth. While many of the members of Akatuski didn't get along, Hidan was the one everyone could agree they disliked the most due to his personality and lack of skill. He was a good fighter true, but he relied too heavily on his immortality and voodoo jutsu to be respected by the others who had focused far more time on their craft. If it weren't for his special abilities, he'd at best be a jonin due to his severe lack of versatility. "Hell, it's because you don't hesitate to beat the shit out of him that you can keep him in line. The rest of us would give up and just ditch him after some point. Most likely in several pieces."
"Don't remind me." The heart thief grunted. "I'm just glad that someone else is doing the job for once. Speaking of which, I'm curious what Konan is going to do to him."
"Oh. That's right. You two have never seen her in action have you?" Kisame mused out loud.
Itachi and Kakuzu glance in the fishman's direction momentarily. The swordsman's statement reminded them that aside from Pain, Konan, and Zetsu, Kisame was rumored to be the oldest member of Akatsuki. Normally that would have entitled him to some sort of level of authority seeing as all three of the other founding members seemed to have a solid sway of things, however it did not seem to be the case. Hell, most of the other members tended to forget his seniority on them due to his casual personality and the lack of any sort of power he had over them.
"She is Leader's partner. That alone speaks for her strength." Itachi evenly stated the obvious... which Hidan had blatantly ignored in the first place.
"Regardless of what we know of her, we'll find out momentarily regardless." Kakuzu agreed, his eyes lingering on Kisame for just a bit longer than he would have liked before something caught his attention. "Well speak of the devil."
Kisame laughed as Pain's Deva Path appeared in between the two members. "Careful. You know the boss fancies himself a god. He might take that personally."
"Shut up. You're distracting me from the show."
Nagato looked through Yahiko's body to see Konan and Hidan standing in place, obviously ready to go. Of course most people were unable to tell much from Konan since her facial expressions did not change much since their friend and her lover died, however Nagato had been with her for years. He could tell that she was secretly itching to take Hidan down a peg or two. Hell, everyone in the organization wanted to do it, it was just he and his friend was far better at hiding it than the others. Besides, their goal was more important than putting the idiot worshipper of some random god in his place.
"You will fight when I say so. You will stop when I say so. You will not receive aid. You will keep the fight to inside this room. You will accept the outcome when it is over. You will obey my rules." Every command he stated was laced with finality to the point that even Hidan got the hint that it was in his best interests to follow them.
"Tch. Fine. Just don't bitch when I make your toy there scream." The priest grunted, clearly not liking the fact that he would have to stop. "Jashin-sama only accepts of total slaughter. Leaving the target alive is against my religion."
"Then I will just have to be thorough in my victory." Konan evenly replied, causing the real Nagato to momentarily develop a faint smirk.
"What was that you bitch?!" Hidan snapped.
"It is pointless to say anything else." The Deva path sighed before it disappeared in a cloud of smoke. "Fight."
With a sadistic cry, the priest unsurprisingly went on the offensive first and threw his triple bladed scythe at his opponent with speed that would catch most shinobi off guard.
Obviously though, Konan was no ordinary shinobi. The instant the woman was hit by the weapon, her body exploded into a large cloud of paper that for the most part harmlessly let the tool pass right through it before suddenly rapidly charging at Hidan.
Said target blinked in confusion. "The fuck? Paper?! Of all the weak ass shit I have to sacrifice to Jashin-sama…" Grimacing, the man jumped back to put more distance between him and the oncoming cloud before yanking back on the thick chord that connected him to his weapon. However he wasn't done yet. With a quick flair of chakra into the cable, one of the tool's hidden features and caused the three blades to spin in opposite directions and at different speeds, turning it into a massive deadly fan.
Moments before the flurry of paper that was Konan overcame Hidan, the crimson tool overcame her from behind and shredded apart the parchment that came in contact with it and forcing the rest, which was still the majority of it, away in every direction.
Kisame whistled as the insane man deftly caught his weapon as its spinning blades stopped with an audible click. "Didn't know that thing of his could do that. I always thought that his scythe had tricks to it. It was too big to think otherwise."
"He doesn't use it that often." Kakuzu snorted. "He complains that it kills his targets too quickly. Not enough time to properly offer them to his retarded god. Idiot."
That was as far as the conversation went as everyone saw the remains of the paper reformed itself in midair above the priest, revealing the top half of the blue haired woman with the addition of two passive paper wings that made her resemble a twisted sort of angel. Her body and skin were no longer unblemished as well as it appeared as if her figure had not completely made the transition between paper and human, looking like she was likely to fall apart into her element again if hit hard enough.
"And they think I like to showboat." Hidan snorted, clearly not intimidated by the woman's appearance just before the paper in the wings went rigid, giving her a more malevolent form.
And then she began to fire off paper like rain.
Swearing twice as much as before, Hidan bolted away as fast as he could to avoid the oncoming attack. He didn't bother to pay attention to area behind him getting hit so hard that it exploded as he jumped to one of the pillars in the room, landed on its side several meters up, and used it as a platform to reach the floating woman that was now within his range, not bothering to notice the dozens of razor sharp projectiles that was tearing him apart as he approached his target.
However, much to his annoyance, Konan merely floated out of the way during his second leap, preventing him from bringing the fight up close. His attempt to adapt to this by throwing his scythe again as he flew in the opposite direction of his target met with equal failure as Konan proved to be more agile in the sky than he had anticipated and flew around it as well… and then unleashed another salvo of paper projectiles at him.
Cursing once again as his weapon was still away from his body, Hidan frantically whipped his tool to try and get the woman from behind before he finally landed on the side of another pillar and quickly ran on its edge to get to the other side.
Without bothering to pay attention to the tool behind her, Konan wordlessly erected a paper shield as strong as steel at her back almost instantly, causing the scythe to bounce harmlessly off of it and spin widely around the pillar, inadvertently showing exactly where on it Hidan was hiding.
"Do you think he noticed what she's doing?" Kisame grinned hungrily.
"What do you think?" Kakuzu snorted.
The Zealot decided to try his hand at ranged combat still as his scythe traveled behind the pillar and around the other side to keep up the assault. However before it even made it half way to the woman, Konan took the initiative and manifested hundreds of pieces of paper that spun around the stone, hiding it in a twister of white.
It seemed to be doing whatever Konan had intended if Hidan's increase of shouting was any indication.
As expected, the attack forced him to move out of his no longer safe location and he leapt to the side of the pillar, covered in both papercuts and pieces of paper that stuck to him like a second skin. The coil to his scythe still attached to his right arm which was whipping around frantically, though those watching could easily tell that the paper sticking to him was impeding his movements.
Konan dodged the first passing of the scythe as well as the subsequent slow arcs with ease before the tool lost its range and began to fall with its owner to the side. Seeing the opening, she once again began to rain origami hell upon the priest…
When the bladed end of the scythe, which was pointed at her, suddenly launched out like a spring straight at her and the topmost blade nicked the side of her face.
Kisame blinked. "Ok. Color me surprised. Since when did Hidan actually fight with a shred of cunning?"
Kakuzu shrugged emotionlessly. Obviously he was not caught off guard by the scythe's hidden functions. "There's a reason why the boss let him become a member. My guess is that he didn't realize how annoying the idiot was until later."
"Hindsight's always twenty twenty huh?"
"It would be less embarrassing if Hidan actually hid some of his tricks on purpose. Instead he doesn't use them because he's a childish fool who's more interested in his half assed god than doing his damn job." Kakuzu snorted as he watched his partner cheer insanely despite still being torn apart by Konan's attack in mid air.
"Spoken like a true atheist. I bet the only way you'd actually worship a god was if it was a god of money." Kisame grinned, not at all interested in the new turn of events. He already saw how the fight was going to end. "All hail money-sama."
"Keep talking Kisame. That topic of conversation was just what dead partners number four and nine were on before I tore their arms and legs off respectively." Kakuzu growled irritably as several black wiry tendrils wormed their way from his sleeves like agitated snakes.
"Oh?" The swordsman slowly reached for the massive sword on his back. "It seems I struck a chord with the closet worshipper…"
"Quiet." Itachi softly spoke up as Hidan landed on the ground and bolted around one of the pillars and farther back to begin his trademark voodoo ritual by stabbing his foot with his collapsible spare spike in his left hand while pulling back his scythe with the right. "The fight's not done yet."
The two men glanced at the second youngest member of Akatsuki. "So?" Kakuzu grunted just as Hidan's circle was hastily made and he rapidly began making the triangle. The priest loved his dramatics and properly doing his rituals which was why he normally took forever doing them, but when he was pressed for time he was actually pretty quick with the whole thing.
"The fight is merely an excuse." The Uchiha didn't bother to turn around as the seal was completed and red scythe finally returned to its owner. By this point Konan had just rounded the pillar he had been hiding behind. "It is rare enough that we have meetings with all of us present using leader's jutsu…"
Hidan laughed maniacally as he licked the tip of his weapon, drinking in Konan's blood and changing his skin to its distorted skeletal black and white patterns that made him look even more deranged. Already standing in his circle, he was more or less untouchable by Konan as any damage done to him would be dealt to her as well, only with Hidan's immortal state, he could take far more damage than she could. Without hesitating, the priest lunged with his spear at his chest…
Red blood sprayed everywhere.
"How long has it been since all of us were in the same location in person?"
Kakuzu and Kisame didn't bother to look at Hidan, who had not only been impaled by his own spike, by a paper spear of Konan's making as well which had gone through the madman's left arm, still holding the first spike, and through another part of his chest effectively pinning it to him, then further back and into the ground forcing his body to arc slightly backwards and give him a perfect view of his attacker.
"What?!" He coughed out liters of blood as his left and right lungs were impaled completely. Looking up at the floating woman with angelic wings, he saw that the only true blemish on her person was the tiny cut on her cheek that he had landed earlier. Her chest was not marred in the slightest, let alone twice. "What the fuck?!"
Had he been paying attention to what was around him, he would have notices that a small part of the seal he had made near one of the tips of the triangle had moved just enough to break the circle. Had he paid attention more, he would have noticed that not only that part of his seal, but several others were not drawn on the ground, but on pieces of paper that were laid flat on the ground that were the same color as the floor.
"Do you think that I would not know how your technique works?" The Angel of Ame stated emotionlessly as she moved her outstretched hand slightly, commanding more of the paper she had laid out on the ground when the fight started to move, dispelling the minor illusion that made them the same color as the surfaces they laid flat upon. He would have tried to jump away, however the dozens of pieces of paper that had latched his feet to the ground during his moment of shock made that impossible.
All it had really taken was for one piece that held part of Hidan's seal to move out of place for the technique to be rendered useless. It was actually kinda sad really.
Hidan's eyes widened as he realized what the woman was hinting at as he became trapped in another twister of white. "The hell? Don't tell me you did all of this from the beginning… that's fucking unfair! You knew of my moves but I didn't know yours!"
"It would have changed nothing." The woman coldly replied as the paper began to mummify the man. "This is your punishment for forgetting your place."
Struggling helplessly as his body was immobilized, the madman could do nothing as the Angel pierced him with a dozen more paper spears through all his major joints and his mouth so savagely that the tools impaled the ground as well, effectively securing and forcing him to arch back in a very uncomfortable position.
Kisame chuckled at the view. "Hell hath no fury. Looks like Hidan got on her nerves more than she let on. I bet she even earned a few bonus points with Sasori and Deidara with the way she left him. It does have an artistic feel to it..." He turned back to Itachi. "Now then, now that you have our attention Itachi do tell us what you think our dear leader wants by getting all of us here?"
It was only due to his familiarity with the Uchiha that Kisame noted the slightest of twitches in the Uchiha's facial expression as Pain appeared in the arena to officially stop the fight.
"… I don't know… however I doubt we will like it."
o. o. o.
Somewhere in the Elemental Nations:
Scabbard Oogakari was a businessman that could exploit virtually any system he was given to make a large profit. It was what he did. He was good at it. It was the reason why he legally owned his family in no less than seven hundred and twenty nine universes.
Illegally… well it was easier to just say that the others had stopped counting at this point.
However this did not mean that he did not have some particular habits or patterns to some of his businesses. In fact, he had many that he could utilize in many worlds at once simply because said worlds' societies were virtually begging to be exploited in such ways. Many areas of business, while ethically looked down upon in many worlds, could easily be put into a better light if the ones in charge could just manage and control their system professionally and humanely.
One of his more frequently used, albeit highly unethical tactics though was one that many would not suspect him of using due to his widely known loathing of fangirls…
He was a pimp.
No, it was more accurate to call him the foremost manager and producer of many if not all successful prostitution related programs in the multiverse. So long as the society was developed enough, corrupt enough, and he was there for a long enough time, Scabbard Oogakari could and often would create a wide ranging prostitution system that covered multiple fetishes (child and potentially harmful fetishes excluded for obvious reasons of course) that could put most rings out of business…
And give him a very well established spy ring in the process.
His system was somewhat simple, though more complex than his competitors. After making or taking over a medium sized town's whorehouse for himself through one means or another, the man would first establish ground rules.
Each woman was to take up a craft in their spare time. Something that could land them a decent job outside of whoring themselves out. Cooking. Cleaning. Writing. Sewing. Acting. Miko training. Managing. Medicine. Bartending. Espionage. Etc. Etc. Some were even trained in the shinobi arts, albeit the more covert ones. Should they prove themselves competent, Scabbard would supply them with a mentor of sorts to further their education as an apprentice.
They would still be prostitutes during their varying "hours", however after they meet certain requirements, they could do other things for their houses as well, such as cooking meals, putting on shows, managing the accounts, fixing the building, expanding their clientele, etc. It was not surprising to see his outlets completely self sufficient in most of the major maintenance areas.
There were no actual "pimps" in the system to collect the finances as the prostitutes were their own managers after enough of them received enough financial management training, which normally took only around three to four months and were proven responsible enough, in which they were elevated to what was dubbed "big sister" status. Should they earn money during their apprenticeship and training, they could use it to pay off what they owed and not have to "work" for it if they so chose.
While this was rather risky, the women were quick to realize that Scab supplied them with far more protection, overall security, and dignity than anyone else could. The amount he took was more than what their previous bosses did, but what he provided was so, so much more. Their quality of life was significantly better in his system than if they were to try to make it out on their own. The money they turned into the system went to food, medical, birth control, housing, education, accidental children (to a degree), younger family members staying there, and the carefully selected missing nin that were hired to protect them.
And no one could forget the large variety of pleasure rooms that his workers spent a good amount of time in, and the toys they used.
… There was a reason why Ghost was the most in debt to Scab in the family.
Of course there were checks in place to ensure that no one took advantage of his generosity without consequences, involving but not limited to a rather interesting seal that would erase the prostitute's memories of the place and their friends should they go too far and several other things, however that was neither here nor there to discuss.
Often though, the seals were not needed. Prostitutes were frequently desperate individuals in most societies. They wouldn't be prostitutes if they weren't. Hence, if someone threatened to ruin a very good lifestyle of theirs, they would without a doubt react accordingly.
Few realized this, but an angry desperate prostitute with resources, range of skills, and a goal could be a very dangerous force of nature. A well taken care of small army of them even more so. Especially in a reputation heavily eastern influenced society like in the elemental nations…
This of course made protecting, monitoring, and ensuring that certain wrongs were corrected much cheaper on Scab's end. They did most of the work for him without having to say a word after he set up the rules to follow.
While financially it was not initially as lucrative as being a normal pimp, Scab's system had the benefit of being very attractive to the other prostitutes, who normally had rather significantly less pleasant bosses, which he would have no issue with inducting into the system. This in turn caused his territory to grow rapidly with workers that were all very happy to be under his employment.
Virtually every "house" under his influence that was in a different city or location went by a different name and theme, as to ensure that outsiders would not connect the dots and realize that one person was controlling them all. Despite this though, each building had methods of communicating with one another nearly instantly thanks to a series of seals and devices that in the end acted like a standard desktop, allowing information to travel between the buildings and countries insanely fast when compared to the world's standard. Only the most trusted of information specialists in each building were taught and allowed to use them.
The immortal was not stupid enough to create such an obvious connection between one of his biggest investments and everything else it was related to. Internally however, each small family of abandoned women and men knew that they owed their turn of life to Scab and the greater hidden family they were a part of.
Idiots ran giant companies with the expectation to influence the world the way they wished. The smart ones only had to ensure that they could speak and listen to the right people whenever they needed to get the job done.
Many of the "houses" he had promoted quality entertainers of both genders. The experienced and sought after employees were encouraged to teach the others some of their tricks, though never all of them. Said higher members were often trained in espionage as well, as word of their skill and beauty reached the local lords nearby… and then the more prominent nobility…
His system did not simply stop there however. It would be insulting to Scabbard's intelligence if it did.
His business went further to offer alternative jobs to the prostitutes that did not wish to sell their bodies all the time to make a living, going out of its way to promote the men and women to educate themselves. Quite frequently, these people who were unfortunate enough to never obtain an education of their own, who learned crafts while selling their bodies, earned solid occupations and even occasionally opened their own stores. Quite often they obtained a small investment from the generous if a bit emotionless father figure in the process to give them a small boost in their new path of life… and remind them where they had come from and where the family that helped pick them up would always be…
And thus Scab's ears and eyes expanded further.
But why stop there?
More often than not, many of the individual businesses that were started by his former employers would start to produce products that the rest of the world had never seen before. New fabrics. New inventions. New tools. New chemicals. More efficient banking systems. New toys. Etc. Nothing provided was exceptional of course, but they were enough to catch the interest of the public…
And most importantly, little to none of it would have to do with the Shinobi world.
Prostitutes once more came into play here. Marketing was after all so much easier with a small army of attractive men and women that frequently interact with the local populaces of virtually every major city around at your beck and call with samples to throw in everyone's face… among other things.
On and on these minor discoveries would appear in a controlled and believable manner, causing the businesses and companies under his influence to grow into very sizeable empires. This in turn would of course catch the eyes of both the greedy and savvy nobles there, gaining him even more influence over society.
From there, all it took were the right rumors and words for him to gain a very heavy influence in the government.
It was not uncommon for the man to completely and indirectly own lesser developed countries via this method without their knowing within six years so long as he wasn't too distracted.
By the time Naruto had arrived from his training, Scab's empire, which had been started since he first arrived roughly four years earlier, had extended its reaches to every layer of the elemental Nation's societies in all of the major countries and many of the minor ones. He was known, under his alias as "Fenrir" or "Papa", as the largest supplier of quality entertaining individuals in the elemental nations.
Many of the businesses he had established behind the scenes were only just reaching the significant status needed to gain the attention of the nobles, so it would not be long till the Legacy's Prophet would more or less be able to control the nations as he wished if he bothered to use them.
Still, thanks to his setup, Scab could find out much in the matter of days. Not anything, no. He was never foolish enough to assume that, however there was little he could not discover so long as it was not a nationally kept secret. All in all, while it was slower to set up and didn't give him nearly as much access to the hidden villages and shinobi world like his weapon dealing business did, it did give him far more of a hold on the economy and political world while staying anonymous.
Needless to say, there was a small period of time when the rest of his family called him "Little Finger" in reference to this particular approach.
They stopped after he exploited his system to rob them of every penny they had in a single day. They had no evidence that he was responsible for it, but everyone sure as hell knew he was.
To his mild surprise, while Jiraiya indeed unknowingly frequented his businesses while gathering information, not once had the Sage actually do more than openly flirt and drink with his employees. Apparently he was more loyal to Tsunade than people thought…
It still didn't prevent him from recording some of the man's more interesting drunken escapades for blackmailing later.
He knew roughly where every member of Akatsuki was in general at a given point in time for example, as well as figure out what they were doing when comparing their location with events occurring in the area. He knew the strength of all the hidden villages. He knew of at least three dozen of each hidden village's major storage areas outside of their town walls. He knew of who had just become missing nin. He knew of where said nin were…
He knew that a year ago, an unknown group of shinobi consisting of an Earth, Lava, Lightning, and Genjutsu master absolutely wrecked a good part of Amegakure before Pain and Konan could push them back.
He knew that seemingly random graves and tombs had been robbed over the past few years.
He knew which countries were planning to set up peace and trading treaties with which other nations, and which ones were secretly preparing to wage war when said deals were made.
He knew that Naruto was flying solo and was doing whatever he wanted.
However, all of that didn't matter now, because at the moment…
"Why the hell did you make me meet you in the middle of a whore house?!"
He had to deal with his current apprentice and her team.
"Indeed. This is most unyouthful." Lee frowned as he attempted to not look at the various attractive women they passed by as his team followed Scab deeper into the building. The blush on his face was clear for everyone to see, as was his lean but obviously ripped body since he had not abandoned his beloved spandex suit with a chunin vest over it. He had however decided to drop the orange leg weights and wear shinobi pants over his suit after much pestering from Kin, pointing out that even martial arts masters aren't hindered by them and can help mask his leg movements somewhat.
His new constant training method came in the form of gravity seals, complimentary of Tenten.
In addition his standard pouches and bags, the martial artist also had a large nasty looking combat knife strapped to his thigh, easily twice the width of a kunai and nearly three times as long.
No one ever saw him use it in combat. No one ever did.
"Careful Lee." The immortal stated in his usual bored tone without turning around. "Many of my employees here would consider that as an insult to their appearance. They work very hard to look as good as possible."
As expected, the energetic taijutsu user froze and began to look around feverishly before bowing deeply and apologizing to any and every woman that he thought was looking at him funny. The women there merely laughed and enjoyed the show the boy was giving them.
"Employees?" Tenten gaped. "You OWN this place?!"
"I own many places." Scab vaguely responded with the barest hint of amusement in his otherwise even tone. "I find them useful for various purposes, and I have decided that they are established enough for you should be privy to them too. Of course, their existence is on a need to know basis."
"A generous offer." Neji frowned. "However please do not be insulted if my use of such locations is sparse."
"I'd be more concerned if it was frequent." The immortal stated. Once more his bland even voice made it nearly impossible for anyone to tell if he was being sincere or sarcastic. "However it would be foolish to disregard a potential valuable resource."
"I'll keep it in mind."
"Other than his haircut and eyebrows, he's kinda cute." One of the attractive young women there mused as she inspected Lee, dressed in a robe that revealed a good amount of cleavage and leg, but not overly so. "It takes a real man to wear something as tight as that out in the open like that."
Neji took that as his cue to grab his teammate and bow briefly. His forehead protector slanted like Kakashi's so that it covered his byakugan, meaning that the eye he was using to stare at the woman was the slit blue one that once belonged to Naruto. Save for that peculiar look, his clothing was fairly standard for a member of his clan with white and tan robes. "My apologies, however my friend here already has a girlfriend. For all our sakes, please do not fluster him more than he already is."
The woman momentarily shivered as she held the slit eye's gaze. "Oh. My my you are an interesting one too. So polite. Do not worry. There was no harm done." She purred. "Do tell me, what happened to your eye? I bet there's a very interesting story behind it."
The corners of Neji's lips twitched. "It was a wound I sustained several years ago during a mission gone bad. One of many I received at that time actually. It was gouged out by an enemy's thumb while he held me by my head with one hand."
And like that the mood was killed.
"I'm so sorry about that." Tenten apologized as she pulled back her smoking fist from Neji's head. "My boyfriend sometimes gets a bit carried away when he gets too much unwanted attention. He has a thing against talking about his eye."
The prostitute regained composure before laughing in good nature. "Oh it's no problem. It's my fault for asking in the first place. He's not the first shinobi to do something like that. It takes a special woman to truly get along with those types after all."
"Preaching to the choir." The weapon specialist shook her head in resignation.
"I must say though, your boy toy here has some fine taste." The woman continued as she took in Tenten's image, with her snow white hair wrapped into her two usual buns and her dark tan skin showing where her deep green, white, and rust brown Chinese themed attire hugged her body. "You have such an exotic look. Not overly developed, but still curved in all the right places. Someone like you would definitely get top dollar by the hour here…"
She paused to briefly smell the girl. "… Although we probably would have to give her a bit of a cleaning and makeover first. Smoke and iron are unfortunately not very appealing aromas the last I checked."
"As flattering as your impressions are, you know she's not here for that reason Yumiko." Scabbard stated evenly, cutting off his apprentice before she said something she thought was witty. Despite being a proud fighter, the girl still didn't like people taking shots at her femininity. "They are here for another sort of business. If you don't mind, I would like to speak to my student and her team in private."
The now identified Yumiko blinked in surprise before looking at Tenten as if seeing her for the first time. "Your student? Oh my my. She must be a special one then Papa. No one ever said anything about you having a student."
"That's because I never told anyone." Scab evenly replied. "I expect her to be treated with the same respect you give me."
"But of course. We might even take it up a step and actually hug her and give her that makeover anyways. It's not like you're one for large displays of affection." The woman smirked. Obviously the man's cool disposition was not a negative or uncommon trait in her eyes.
"Careful. It almost sounds like I baby you lot." How the man managed to say the line with a dead even face and tone while still obviously being sarcastic was beyond anyone's guess.
"We love you too Papa." Yumiko blew the man a kiss before walking to another part of the building, swinging her hips seductively in the process. "Well then back to the books I guess."
"Books?" Lee asked curiously.
"Yumiko's in charge of most of the taxes and bills for this building. She's quite intelligent. Her family was blind to abandon her at a young age merely because she refused to get married to some fool of a Noble's son for a small sum of money. Then again, I wouldn't have her under my wing if they didn't." Scab explained as he walked to his office. "She's training to be a financial manager or a banker, however I would not be surprised if she ends up staying and managing the building full time. She is quite attached to her friends here."
"You mean to say that she is actually fine living in such conditions?" Neji politely asked, though what he really thought of the place was no secret. As the member of a noble family, such places were seen as distasteful. More so since he was here with his girlfriend.
"She is forced to do nothing she does not wish to do. She has a solid meal three times a day. She is clothed, educated, housed, but still is urged to work hard for her own goals, which no one discourages, and surrounded by those who support and care for her. It is far more than what most in her situation could hope for." Scab sat behind his desk, silently urging the others to do the same. "She must earn her keep, but that is something that should be obvious to anyone who works for a living. She knows this and understands this, which is why she focuses hard on her studies in the mean time. What she does with her body is her own business, I merely ensure that she has more to look forward to and possibly achieve in the future. I highly doubt that you three completely agree to everything that you do and encounter in your profession, so why should she?"
The three shinobi glanced at one another warily, knowing that what the eldest one there had said was very true.
"Now then, back to business." He interlaced his fingers and rested his arms on his desk. Instantly the mood of the room took a darker feel. Not deadly, but certainly more morose. "I take it that your mission was successful since you are here and seem to be in no hurry."
Tenten nodded as she took out a scroll. "Yep. One dead conspirer against the Daimyo and three missing nin. ID'd, tagged, and ready for turning in."
"They were fools. Their estimation of their abilities was grossly inflated." Neji shook his head pityingly. "They assumed they could have killed half the court with a few well placed poisons and replaced staff members, but with their skills they wouldn't have even gotten past the main guard. Lee killed them all before they even knew something was wrong."
"And I was so ready to test out Hrunting this time. Get them all in one shot." Tenten grumbled.
"I dislike not giving them the opportunity to surrender, however their unyouthful methods and plans all but ensured that they would perish at one point or another." The most energetic of the group sulked.
"Either you do or you don't. It is regrettable, however the way society works it is often better to cut loose ties than to just let them go and hope for the best. You can only trust your judgment as to when to follow this rule and when not to, and hope that you made the right choice. Regardless, your decisions and actions are your own, and you must live with the subsequent results. This applies to everyone." Scab answered as he unraveled the scroll and activated the seals to reveal the four severed heads stored inside. No one in the room flinched at the sight. "They appear to be in good condition."
"I stored them within ten seconds of their disposal." Lee nodded with a hint of pride, though far less than what ne normally displayed.
Placing his hand on the first head, the Noble's given by how soft and pale the skin seemed to be compared to the others, the immortal allowed the electrons in his body to flow into the still preserved brain, and for lack of a better term hacked its contents almost instantly. The next few instants were utilized to make a copy of the data discovered that he stored in his own mind.
When he first showed this ability many assumed that he had copied the Yamanaka clan's techniques, however it had soon been proven that they could not be more different. While the clan's jutsu were based on spiritual and psychological manipulation, Scab's technique was nothing more than pure hard electron manipulation jacking the nerves of the target's mind and for lack of a better term hacking the contents.
How he managed to translate the nerve patterns in the brain into comprehensive information was beyond anyone's ability to learn. Really. It was just that complex.
"Seems like everything is in order. There were a few co-conspirators as expected, however they did nothing for the most part save for minor things that would not be enough to warrant our attention."
"He wasn't well liked. That much was certain." Neji nodded. "Most if not all his allies were due to business and familial connections. It was his wife that hired us for the job after all."
"Humans are often blind to those they are closest to." Scab nodded as he went through the other shinobi's heads. "Though I believe it would be obvious that she would not take well to her husband allowing these men to have their way with her."
Tenten's eyebrow twitched. "Sensei, would you be against informing me where this prick's grave will be dug?"
"He's already dead Tenten." Neji put a hand on her shoulder to calm her down. "Desecrating his grave can't hurt him."
"It will on the other hand make me feel better."
"I advise against it." The Immortal resealed the heads. "There have been a number of unidentified grave robbings all over the continent lately. High profile graves are being kept under watch these days."
"That and insulting the dead is most unyouthful." Lee stated as if it was obvious.
"Mhm. Sure. That too." Scab mindlessly agreed without any heart as he gave Tenten back the scroll before taking out a blank one and began to write on it. "I take it you're heading back home after this."
"You bet. I'm gonna spend a week in the bath houses and just relax." Tenten grinned. While the prostitute's comments about her smell did get on her nerves, she was still rather sensitive about her femininity and did try to keep herself at least clean in the mean time.
"I have not seen Kin-chan in weeks!" Lee stubbornly pouted. "I wish to see her as soon as possible."
"I suggest you ask one of my girls here for advice on an appropriate gift for her then. While they like to tease, they'll still be more than happy to help you out and have good taste. They'd find your commitment to Kin… admirable." He did not say "cute", "adorable", or anything along those lines. He had forever abandoned such vocabulary in his holy crusade against the unworthy hoard when it came to relationships and similar subjects.
He had no issue with using such language when taunting amusing fools though. For example, he considered random wannabe heroes that believed that they could outwit him to be absolutely adorable… like a small injured puppy trying to be intimidating.
It didn't stop him from kicking them when they were down though. He found the sounds they made when he did so to be just as endearing.
The idiots making noises of course, not the puppies. Kicking puppies was just pointless. Nothing came out of it.
… On the other hand there was that one world he knew of where if you kicked them…
"I want to see Naruto." Neji frowned, catching the attention of his teammates.
"That much is obvious." Scabbard didn't bother looking up as he continued to write and continued with his earlier train of thought in his subconscious. He knew for a fact that the teens in front of him were at least sensitive enough to chakra to sense his brother's and their friend's arrival.
He didn't tell them that the blond wasn't in Konoha. He'd let them find out that for themselves.
"I guess this means that things are picking up again." Tenten smirked bitterly.
"The Rokubi has been captured and Akatuski made a failed attempt at Gaara a few days ago." Scab confirmed the girl's suspicions. They would find out sooner or later, but at least this way they'd be on guard in the unlikely chance that they did cross paths with the enemy. "From what I've been told, our dear Kazekage had managed to elevate himself to the status of strongest Kazekage in history in the process even though he didn't manage to kill either one of his assailants. Something to do with manipulating all of the sand in the village's walls and becoming a living force of nature. Not bad all things considered."
"It is a comforting to know he's on our side." Neji shivered, knowing that such a thing might not just be hot air.
"Astounding! I would enjoy fighting him at one point to see how I measure up!" Lee proudly proclaimed with fire in his eyes.
"Hopefully you'll do that not in the desert. You'd be crushed in ten seconds flat." Tenten laughed nervously.
"Mhm. That sounds nice." Scab finished writing whatever he was doing on the scroll before handing it to his student. "Give that to Tsunade when you make your report. It contains information I gathered from your target's minds. Nothing vital, but important none the less."
Tenten had just pocketed the scrolls when the group heard a disturbance coming from the building. Screams coming from both men and women were heard in increasing volume, prompting all four of the warriors to end what they were doing and see what was happening.
They had entered the main lounge area to see a young man in rather expensive looking clothing standing proudly over the beaten, bruised, and crying girl that he had been spending his time with. Coming in from all the other hallways were residents and clients who had heard the ruckus and were curious as to what was happening.
The reason why no one helped the poor girl however was obvious, as the pair were surrounded by five very large and mean looking bodyguards armed with katana.
"Quiet you slut." The man kicked the girl. "You have no one to blame but yourself. Telling me what to do and what I could not. You forget your place."
"How uncouth." Neji frowned. "Its people like him that give Nobles a bad name."
"He looks familiar…" Tenten shook her head. "Ah. What the hell. Lee. Do your stuff."
The unnaturally silent Taijutsu master had momentarily vanished before Scab instantly put a hand on his shoulder and stopped him several feet away from where he had disappeared. "Sensei?"
"Just watch. My girls are far from helpless, and I see opportunity…" The man's eyes flashed hungrily.
"Is there a problem my lord?" An attractive middle aged woman walked forward, dressed in a very formal kimono, however still making it obvious that she worked in the building. She did not let the image of the girl's state get to her. "Has Maya done anything to offend you?"
"Your little toy here wouldn't put out when I told her to." He kicked her again to prove his point. "The second things got a bit rough the cunt tried to back out of her job. Went so far as to even hit me!"
"I tried to tell him!" The identified Maya wept. "I told him that I don't do the more extreme performances! I tried to tell him that Hina normally did that, but he wouldn't listen! He was hurting me! Please believe me!"
"Shut up! I give you money and you perform. What part of that does a stupid bint like you not understand?!"
"Peace my lord." The elder woman negotiated. "We merely have the results of a misunderstanding here. One that can easily be rectified. However I must ask that your men must leave. Weapons are not allowed in our facility."
The bodyguards laughed in response and slowly began to draw their weapons.
"Yeah. How about no you old hag." The lordling snorted. "How stupid are you? This place is on my father's property, so it might as well be mine as well. And I say, you do as I want or I'll execute you for treason."
The woman sighed aridly as if talking to a child, not at all bothered with the death thread unlike many of the other people there. "Is that so? A shame. And I was going to offer you proper compensation too."
"From your used up ass? I think the boss will pass on that." One of the bodyguards snorted. "I wouldn't mind a few shots though. You certainly look like you know a few things."
"Why offer it when I can merely take it?" The noble argued, admittedly bringing up a good point given the situation.
The manager took out an elegant decorated fan with a unique flowing design and hid her face behind it elegantly. "It is common knowledge that one can only take what one can reach with their own hands my lord. My humble abode has many connections that enable us to access quite a range of commodities for generous prices. Many of which even one of your status would be hard pressed to obtain. I am certain that there would be something that would fancy your interest and sate your justified fury. Should you ruin my humble house, my girls and I would be forced to relocate outside of your domain. Perhaps it would even evolve into a partnership of sorts should you wish it."
Only those with the shinobi training there noticed the very brief glance she gave to Scab, who kept eye contact with her in the process.
The antagonist frowned as he contemplated the woman's offering, for once forgetting the young girl crying at his feet. "You speak well for a whore. Just what sort of commodities are we talking about?"
The elder's eyes closed merrily. "The sort that would best be spoken of in private my lord. Away from the open ears and prying eyes of the common folk."
"… Should I find your so called connections lacking, you will be sorely punished…" The man frowned as he walked forward and gave the manager incentive to move to private quarters.
The second the thugs were gone, the other employees there instantly made way to the injured girl to tend to her.
"She's good." Neji noted. "And I do not doubt she has said resources, however I find it distasteful that she has to yield to such an unsavory individual…"
"Neji." Scabbard sighed as he leaned up against a wall. "Use your eye and tell me what you find on the building."
The Hyuga paused for a moment before moving away from the man with an insane amount of chakra. It was common knowledge among the clan that using their bloodline on or in a certain radius of the Oogakari was a surefire way to temporarily become blind. After getting to the other side of the room and covertly activating the eye under his headband, he instantly saw something that gave him pause.
"What did you see Neji?" Lee asked as his rival returned.
Looking around warily and licking his lips, he replied. "The entire building is covered in a massive seal array." He whispered. "Seals and some sort of rune style that I'm not familiar with."
"A security system." Tenten's eyes widened in recognition.
"Anyone who hires my employees have to sign a contract that ensures that they will follow the rules of the house." Scab elaborated, though he seemed to be focusing on something else. "Should any of my girls activate the array, those who have broken said rules will suffer an appropriate punishment and leave everything else unharmed. The array also protects the building from most outside interference as well, though it obviously would not hold against a solid shinobi assault or an army."
"Amazing…" Lee whispered while looking around him as if seeing the building for the first time.
"But if that's the case, why did she let that asshole do what he want?" Tenten asked with a frown. "Don't think I couldn't tell what that fan was. That woman's a shinobi and that fan's her tool. She cast a genjutsu with it just by waving and channeling a tiny bit of chakra into it."
The man lips twitched again, his version of smirking and held up a small microphone. "Because I told her to." His voice rang from the device without his mouth moving the slightest.
A shiver went up the teen's spines. They knew that look. It was the look the man got when he was leading some poor unfortunate fool to his doom without the idiot knowing it.
It was frequently on his face when he was abusing… employing Zabuza.
"That poor poor unknowing fool." Neji shook his head knowingly.
"I almost pity him… no, on second thought I don't." Tenten added. "Milk him for all he's worth sensei."
"There's no need." The man coolly yawned before taking out a momentarily glowing scroll and walking to the office where his new target was.
The shinobi there knew what the scroll was at first sight. It was the ones he used to create binding deals between two parties. Once signed and marked with blood, it was impossible to go against the contract without extremely painful consequences.
"How did you know that your youthful employees would be fine?" Lee asked curiously. "Had those men acted…"
"They would have died." The owner waved his hand lazily. "Hikairi was a special jonin before she abandoned Taki nearly twenty years ago. She specializes in espionage, seduction, and negotiation. The fact that you didn't notice what she was or did until Tenten saw her fan means that she hasn't lost her touch. That's the reason why she's in charge here."
It took nearly half a minute before Neji noticed the odd fragrance in the air and felt his muscles relax. "A distressing agent…"
"There might be more added to it as well." Lee frowned as he looked around warily, primarily at the young women that were still lingering around. "Perhaps a mild hypnotizing stimulant… used in conjunction with her genjutsu?"
"Your mission isn't completed yet." Scab reminded them as he returned from the office. "Don't worry. Everything is completely under control."
Two days after returning to Konoha, team Gai heard that the son of the lord they had killed was under investigation for potential treason by aiding his father's actions.
It didn't help his case that his first action after inheriting his father's position was to build a new large mansion for the local whores to own and manage.
Apparently when he was taken away, he had been crying about not being able to enjoy his part of the deal and about how he would have been able to enjoy himself if he had not become a lord so quickly…
o. o. o.
Somewhere under Konoha:
"So the Kyubi Jinchuriki is running amok alone." Danzo mused as he contemplated what Fuu had just informed him. It was by a stroke of luck that his subordinate had been tasked to retrieve information from his cousin the night before her departure. "And yet, despite the fact that he mastered the Kyubi, that fool Oogakari decided to seal it away because he believed the boy was otherwise too powerful…"
The leader of Root had a headache. It was times like this that he really wondered if attaining the Hokage's position was the right thing to do as it would require him to actually deal with not only the more trivial issues that plagued the village… but the perpetually unreadable Oogakari as well. "I don't know whether that fool Ghost is baiting us or if this is another one of his whimsical decisions that he did for his amusement."
"Word is that he is able to fly and travel vast distances quickly Danzo-sama." Fuu Yamanaka pointed out worriedly. "Even if we were to try and follow and capture him, there is little hope of catching up without a similar mode of transportation and the ability to combat the Jinchuriki in the air. From what we know of him… attempting to subdue or approach him would be… difficult."
Danzo merely tapped his index finger on his cane in response, indicating that he was thinking about the current dilemma. Fuu had understated what would be needed in order to subdue the jinchuriki. Without any way to tell where he was or where he was going, it was effectively impossible to find let alone catch up to the Uzumaki in the first place. Then, if the Oogakari's claim about the boy's strength was any indication, subduing the child would be another mind scarring task as well.
Briefly he contemplated just leaving the child alone to his own devices and just wait for him to return, but he instantly scratched that idea. Everyone knew that he was prone to attracting trouble, and without the Kyubi's chakra or backup Konoha was genuinely at risk of losing one of their major aces for good. The fact that he seemed to be mentally distraught, even if the results were something he could personally get behind, was another concern. Should the child misrepresent Konoha around the world, it could greatly hurt the country economically.
Sending more shinobi after the jinchuriki might be counterproductive though. He had been receiving word that the groups in Iwa that disliked the Tsuchikage had been unusually tame lately. Had they disbanded he would have assumed that their will to fight had finally submerged. He had actually contributed to the efforts to calm them down. While he would have more than enjoyed weakening Iwa greatly and plunging it into civil war, the fact that Onoki was actually in favor of keeping the status quo for once was pushing the ROOT commander to help him out for once. Should civil war break out, it would only instigate chaos an another shinobi war…
Only this one was not the one that Konoha was not preparing for. He didn't know what it was exactly, but he did know that Akatsuki was only the tip of the iceberg, and that the Oogakari and those closest to them were well aware of it and preparing for. For the moment, he decided to humor them, as he neither saw an opportunity for himself, nor did he see any reason to interfere… and instigating a civil war would without a doubt interfere.
With Naruto however, he did not see gaining control over the teen as interference. It was more akin to reallocating and optimizing resources to make them more efficient. They were both using the boy to Konoha's benefit after all.
The thing that made this opportunity most enticing was the fact that the boy was without any backup save for maybe the toads. This would possibly be the best time for him to get a hold of the boy without anyone noticing… even if it was at a risk.
But still he had Kakashi's team to deal with in the mean time…
Danzo stopped tapping his finger and opened his visible eye. "These are your orders…"
o. o. o.
"Well… that was boring." Naruto mused as he sat cross legged on top of a building.
"It was fairly uneventful." Kushina agreed. "You only triggered twenty nine traps."
"Thirty seven." Minato corrected. "I was with him when he triggered a cluster chain."
"And there was no one injured physically or emotionally throughout the entire process." The son proudly stated.
"You accidentally destroyed the ruins of my old home when I took you there."
"No injuries at all…"
"I find it interesting that as unfamiliar as I am with human family interactions, even I am aware that this conversation should be disturbing by your species' standards." Kurama raised an eyebrow.
"We crossed that point over a year ago." The jinchuriki brushed aside the comment without a second thought. "After being mutilated in dozens of different ways, only to be brought back by Ero-Ni's pretty much numbed us to it." He paused. "Though I still can't remember why I react so violently to people's hands near my face… nearly cut off that last guy's head off on reflex when he got too close…"
"I'd appreciate it if you didn't refer to me as "that guy"." Minato grumbled, remembering that particular slipup.
Kurama shivered, knowing that he was the only one that actually remembered that particularly messy encounter with another god. Having your head partially decayed and half your jaw eroded away was not a pleasant experience to undertake or watch. Thankfully Ghost was around soon after that event to counter and undo the otherworldly effects of a god's power. "It's another one of those things that you're better off not knowing or remembering."
"I seemed to have gotten far more of those than I originally thought haven't I?"
"More or less. Not like you can actually recall them to count how many there are."
"You're a psychologist's wet dream." Kushina shrugged. She knew she should be more sympathetic to her son's condition, but worrying about it now with no one else around would cause more problems than solutions. Unless things got extremely concerning, she was willing to wait for her son to be under the thumb of Hinata for the extra stability before she started working her maternal magic to its greatest throttle. As much as she disliked admitting it, her son's girlfriend was far more capable of providing a truly stable mental environment for Naruto than she was. "Or worst nightmare. Probably depends on if you're strapped down or not."
"You're such a considerate mother." Minato deadpanned.
"What sort of parental figure would I be if I lied to my child?" Said mother argued stubbornly.
"From what I've gathered from your kind… a normal one." Kurama answered.
"At least we found some interesting hidden stashes." Naruto glanced at one of his pouches, once more ignoring his mother and Kurama glaring match. "A few clan secrets and seals. Some history, family trees, jutsu, dirty facts that shouldn't see the light of day, letters to the future head… and a handful of artifacts and special weapons. Yeah I think this is enough to show off when I possibly start the clan again."
"You do realize that there's a minimum population requirement needed to qualify as a clan." Minato corrected. "It's part of the reason why your friend Sasuke has so many girls after him. In order for the Uchiha to qualify as a clan again, he also has to meet those requirements whether he likes it or not. Tsunade's missed that boat as the last Senju and only keeps her clan status out of everyone's respect for the first and second's achievements and legacy. It's what the CRA was created for in the first place even though no one ever really though it would ever actually be used. Technically speaking, the Oogakari don't qualify as a clan either."
"Meh. Mere details and legal bull crap that can easily be circumvented by blackmailing and awesomeness." Naruto brushed off his father's statement. "Besides, when I do get hitched up and have a kid, and if Nagato lives through all of this, then there'd technically be five legal living Uzumaki around. Me, the hag, Nagato, hopefully Hinata-chan and any kid I have. Seven if I can somehow manage to get him and Konan hitched and have a kid. Honestly? That dude seriously needs to get laid. I bet it would be a great stress reliever for him."
"You humans and your reproduction. Why you make such a big deal about it is beyond me. Especially for the ones who have yet to experience it…" Kurama rolled his eyes.
"He'd need to put on enough weight to not break in half in the process." Kushina snorted. "We've seen what he looks like through your memories. That poor man is a stick."
"Don't even try to see him now Naruto." Minato frowned, noticing the brief glint in his son's eyes. "You'd be doing more harm than good."
"Killjoy." The young man pouted before reluctantly taking out the scroll he used to store his parent's bodies. "Anyways, we wasted enough time here. Let's head to our next vacation spot. You two always did want to explore Moon Country's capital some more."
"I just want to relax on those private beaches again." Kushina sighed dreamily while her body began to glow with alongside Minato's. "It's been so long since I could just relax while getting a good tan and not worry about being killed because some immortal jackass can't stay still."
Minato nodded happily before his and his wife's souls shot into their son. "Nothing like resting on the beach without interruption…"
"And I'll finally exploit the system enough to get enough money to have my ghorram ramen pool." The Jinchuriki smirked so evilly that the casino owners all across the elemental nations shivered in fear as a premonition to the danger that was soon approaching. "I will not be denied this time damn it."
"You're just anxious because it's probably your last reasonable chance to achieve your foolish desires before you have to go back and your so called friends justifiably murder you for running away." Kurama noted without a shred of sympathy.
"THAT IS NOTHING MORE THAN A MINOR DETAIL THAT IS IRRELEVANT TO THE TASK AT HAND!" Naruto proclaimed without remorse before pointing to his stomach. "NOW SHUT UP AND GET IN MISTAH TUMMY!"
"I would normally threaten to slowly kill people that yell at me like that… but in all honesty I doubt I could do anything worse than what your friends will probably come up with by this point, so I'll just restrict your healing when you are beaten to a paste." The fox knew there was no point in arguing with Naruto when he got like this. Whenever he became eager over something pointless he was as difficult to deal with as the Oogakari. Sighing to himself, the biju turned into a cloud of chakra and fused with his container. "Have fun with that."
"You know I will… asshole." The blond teen took out a map and looked at it while mindlessly beginning to float up to the sky. "If we're here, and Moon country is… right, there… then the best way to make sure I get there without getting hopelessly lost in the middle of the ocean without any landmarks to use as reference points and eventually drown in an unmarked watery grave is…"
o. o. o.
Somewhere in the land of Earth:
Two nameless masked Iwa shinobi in full uniform stood on the outside of an out of the way and supposedly abandoned military base. Both were clearly very bored and not expecting anything to happen anytime soon.
"Hey." The first one asked the other one. "Do you ever wonder why we're here?"
"Well when a man and a woman love one another very much or get far too drunk to tell how hideous the other one really is…" The second one sarcastically began.
"Very funny." The first one rolled his eyes. "Seriously. Why the fuck are we here? Of all the abandoned bases in the middle of nowhere that we could be hiding out at to avoid attention, we're in the most boring as shit place of all of them. The southern border that leads to the land of Wind is a hundred kilos away from here, fifty to the western countries that no one gives a damn about, and nearly triple that to Iwagakure. We're so deep in the "who gives a shit" mountain range that even if full out war happened, no one would bother coming to this part of the country in the first place. It's not even set up to be that well hidden or defended. Who was the retard that thought that building this base at all?"
"Probably the one that knew that eventually it would make some idiot like you moan to someone like me about it." The latter ninja grunted. "We're here because no one would bother to think that anyone would use this place if they even remembered it existed, hence it makes for the perfect place to conduct our meetings."
"Meetings." The former rolled his eyes. "More like bitchfests. Complaining about Konoha and Onoki and how things should be. We haven't gotten anything actually done or do anything remotely productive in months because no one can get their shit together. Then there's the fact that getting anything actually done from where we are makes it twice as impossible. Messengers and equipment are disappearing left and right, and all in all we have no significant heavy hitters that would be able to back us up if things got really nasty. All anyone does is argue with no results these days."
"If you have such overwhelming faith in us then why the hell don't you do something productive and go off and kill the old man yourself?"
"What are you nuts? I have desires but I'm not stupid. Onoki would wipe his wrinkled midget ass with my remains if there was enough of me left and that's if I'm lucky. I hate Konoha in general and am sick of losing the good missions to them, but I know my limits. Chunin for life baby. Better to die in a remembered crowd then as a single stain that people laugh at. You know what happened to the last guy that tried to off the twin scales."
The only reason why people knew the fool existed was because he tried to assassinate the Tsuchikage while he was out on a public dinner with his granddaughter and the only battle capable jinchuriki they had left. The old geezer didn't even bat an eyelash before using his dust release to disintegrate the man in mid air before he went back to his meal and conversation with Kurotsuchi and Roshi.
The latter shinobi snorted with not pity. "Coward. Nothing but a weakling."
"It's kept me alive this far."
"I'm honestly surprised that none of us has killed you yet."
"You won't cause we need the manpower and I'm the guy that makes the field rations actually edible."
"That was you?"
"Gotta do something in my spare time other than mindlessly practice skills that won't get me anywhere further than where I am now. I'm a coward, I'm not lazy."
"No. You're just lucky your mindless hobbies were actually useful."
"Also, I'm one of the few medics in the resistance."
"You're shitting me."
"Believe it bitch. If we're in trouble, your ass and possibly your organs are in my hands. Feel free to suck up at any time."
"I'm not hearing this."
"How do you think I managed to get my rank in the first place? I'm a fucking minority. Affirmative action at its finest. No life threatening chunin exam for this medic. Just needed to pass a physical, a field test, a few paper exams, sign a few papers and bam, I got me a nice safe vest."
"Why the hell are you with us again? There's no way in hell that you're here because of your assertive attitude towards a better cause."
"Eh. Onoki's been in power too long and he needs to step down. Like, twenty years ago. At the rate we're going once he does kick the bucket we'll have no one decent enough to serve as Tsuchikage for a while without the other nations laughing their asses off at us. All in all I think it's his fault that Iwa's been on the decline lately. It's true that I lost a few relatives to the yellow flash when I was a kid, but in all honesty I didn't really know them in the first place so I don't use that as an excuse unlike roughly a quarter of Iwa's population. Plus, we were at war at the time you know. It's kinda expected that the heavy hitters would kill off a ton of the weaker guys during it. I'm sort of annoyed that we frequently ignore that fact. Blind loyalty over common sense can only lead to more problems."
A member of that quarter population who lost both his parents slowly reached for a kunai. "For your sake I hope that you have more than just that."
The medic raised his hands in surrender. "Ok! Geez. Chill. In addition to that, I may have said the former bit while drunk a few months ago and may have given the impression to everyone that I was already with you guys. Long story short, I decided to live up to their expectations in order to make ends meet. Better than hoofing it alone as a suspected traitor and getting offed in the process." He shrugged. "As it stands, the only guys I DO think are able to do a decent job of replacing Onoki were Deidara, Sinou, and Roshi, and no one knows where two of them are anymore, let alone if they're alive. Maybe his so called granddaughter in a few years, but I'm skeptical about how solid in the head she is."
The more mature of the two shinobi just stared at the other disbelievingly before closing his eyes and breathing in deeply. As much as he didn't want to admit it, the childish man was right. Iwa had plenty of capable shinobi, but exceptionally few were reliable and capable enough in enough fields to be a Kage. It was one of the many reasons why the bulk of the population of Iwa didn't side with those against Onoki… for now at least. "Just… just shut up already. You may not have any faith in the bosses, but I happen to know something's up. You know how Roshi's been a huge pain in our ass lately right?"
The underachieving ninja snorted. That was a rhetorical question if anything. Everyone in Iwa knew about the old lava user recently gaining full control over the yonbi and being a supporter of Onoki. Not a very agreeable one if their many arguments were anything to go by, but a supporter none the less. It was hard to forget the image of that giant monstrous ape casually talking with his voice to the Sandaime after he took out one of their first main bases in a single demon powered attack. It was why the rebel group had relocated themselves to this location in the first place.
"Don't tell me. Han has made a miraculous recovery, pledged himself to our cause, mastered his biju, and is going to take out Roshi and Onoki for us."
"Quit being an idiot. That mindless monster is practically responsible for our situation. If he had just killed the damn brat, then half our worries would be gone already and Iwa would be united again against Konoha." The more mature of the two snapped. It was common knowledge that the younger jinchuriki was still in rehabilitation and still very antagonistic to virtually anyone that came in contact with him. No one knew exactly what Onoki did to keep the freak alive after the stunt he pulled but even the most outspoken agreed that he wasn't worth the effort, even IF it meant agreeing with Konoha for once. "I don't know the details, but word is..."
A large rustling in the sparse forestry nearby snapped them out of their conversation immediately and instantly caused them to be on guard with kunai in hand.
"Who's there?" The stronger of the two demanded while slowly moving in front of his partner. As much of an ass as the man was, combat medics were very valuable. He could spy several large shapes barely hidden in the forestry and upturned stones. None of them resembled the local wildlife. "Show yourself!"
The two men had been half expecting the ones hiding to try and remain hidden as was standard shinobi tactics. Members of their rebellion had a way of communicating to inform that they were allies long before showing themselves so it was fairly obvious that these newcomers were at least not part of their club…
What they didn't expect was for four cloaked figures with indistinguishable features to jump out into the open, land a good distance in front of the men, drop down two bodies onto the ground, and then disappear again.
"… Well that was different." The medic slowly relaxed his guard as he looked at where the mysterious individuals vanished. "Are they friends of yours?"
"How the hell would I know that?" The combat specialist grunted as he looked at the bodies, noting that they were both women and still alive for some reason. Both were clearly kunoichi, unconscious, roughed up quite badly if all the bruises, burns, and cuts on their bodies were any indication, and more importantly not from Iwa given their clothing.
"Looks like they gave us some sweet gifts." The medic grinned as he made an earth clone that closed in on the women carefully. Despite his personality, even he was not stupid enough to simply approach an unidentified and unchecked individual.
"They're from Konoha." The disgust in the other's voice was more than apparent. "I recognize the vests anywhere."
"Konoha?" The land of fire was ridiculously far away and so far Iwa's minor civil war had not been touched by anyone save for those initially involved. "Why the hell where they brought here? You think they've been helping the old geezer behind everyone's back?"
"I wouldn't put it past them. Hypocrites." The man spat at the women from a good distance away. "I say kill them now."
"Uh… well the good news is that they aren't rigged with any traps… but bad news, well… I wouldn't do that if I were you." The earth clone advised. While normally suited for primarily combat purposes, the sturdy constructs did possess a solid amount of intelligence should the user be skilled enough.
"And why is that?" The leader growled.
The clone nervously reached down and slowly moved both women's heads so that they were visible while not aggravating their injuries or waking them up in the process.
"Oh… oh shit." The clone's master paled as he recognized the women nearly instantly and summarized the situation quite well. "This could mean a whole mess of something that I think I don't want any part of."
The man's partner had also sobered rather quickly at the recognition of the females. "Keep them alive, ready for transport, and most importantly unconscious. I'll get the captains inside and inform them of what has happened."
"You do realize that they're not going to believe you right?" The surreally of the situation was not lost on either of them.
"I mean, who is going to believe that someone just handed us Hana of the Three Planes and the Snake Mistress of Konoha to us on a silver platter in the middle of nowhere and just left?"
o. o. o.
Omake: Time number four:
The dust was kicked up by a brief gust of wind as Shadow stood in front of the hospital with her arms crossed, facing down Waltz and Crypt. The sun was setting in the distance giving the environment an ominous appearance, however the immortals paid it no mind.
"Weapons?" The old man grunted, taking out a modified paintball gun that looked more like five machine cannons fused together from his robes with one hand while the other stored his staff onto his back.
"Check." Shadow grinned as she materialized her own gun, which in true Oogakari fashion appeared to be a giant metal jet engine with a giant open core and dozens of smaller holes around the opening.
"Shields?" The Guardian of Tears rose an eyebrow as his free hand gripped the back of Crypt's clothes firmly and held the oblivious giggling idiot in front of him like a knight's shield.
"Yay! I'm a train wheel! HUG ME."
Shadow's grin darkened. "GHOST FROM ACCOUNTING!"
Once more the God of None fell helplessly from his hospital window screaming like a small girl from overhead before his sister mercilessly seized his neck from behind just before he landed and mimicked her brother's stance.
"What the fu… oh shit." The blind immortal paled as he realized exactly what was going to happen before struggling helplessly to avoid his extremely painful fate.
"Check." Shadow simply confirmed as her supposed paintball gun made noises that no paintball gun should ever make ever.
"Welcome back Ghost." The old man grinned as he took aim at pretty much both his siblings while using the one on hand as his own meat shield. "Draw."
o. o. o.
I told you guys that TTRT was going to be darker than YAWALEH. All that funny stuff that the Oogakari do to one another? Yeah, that stuff doesn't work so well with normal people, and I fully intend to fully elaborate on that as time goes on.
So as for why it took so long for me to update, allow me to go through my current daily/weekly schedule with you guys. Five days a week I leave home at 6:30 and catch a train to my new job in NYC, (Wall Street IT Management, yes. THAT Wall Street. Don't ask how. I'm still figuring it out myself, and no I didn't get it through family connections of any sort.) which is more training than anything at the moment, mostly learning UNIX and SQL at an insane pace. I don't get back home till 7:30 in the afternoon, which is where I sleep, and do homework. Why homework? Because on SATURDAYS (or Sundays given the teacher's schedule), I have my internet Power Engineering Grad school class for at least 2 hours, and then study the book afterwards because my teacher has a horrifically thick Indian accent and is teaching Power Economics. And yes, this is the summer semester.
By the time August ends, I should have no less than three certificates to add to my resume… so long as I don't kill myself first.
So yeah, I've been a tad bit sleep deprived and in lack of free time lately.
Back to the story though, I like how things are going to get all chaotic and dark right off the bat, as unlike YAWALEH, there will be little exposition and more meat and potatoes. As far as cannon goes, it'll be pretty clear that things are going to go off track very hard very soon, and it will be beautiful.
As for the Oogakari goes, I am trying to give the Naruto characters more screentime and make the story focus on them, however that definitely does not mean that everyone's favorite batch of immortals is going to take back seats to everything. There ARE going to be a couple more OC's that will show up soon that will further cause things to go haywire, in a bad way, and as a result several members will be elaborated on more and have extremely big roles that will put into perspective just how bloody powerful they really are when they decide that they really want to kill something.
They will also be important in that everyone will once again be exposed to just how different their mentalities are from normal people's and just how unfair and frustrating it can be, and it will cause issues.
More than the issues Naruto currently has with zombies. He REALLY doesn't like zombies.
Hope everyone recognized the shout out to Kagaseo's Echoes. That shit that happened to him there was 100% YAWALEH cannon, and there's possibly more suffering to come on that front for him. That's all I'm saying there.
Anyways. That's about it for now. I'll try to update faster, but don't hold your breaths. Sorry.
So REVIEW! WORSHIP THE LOG! NEVER ASK SHADOW TO MAKE YOU A PAINTBALL GUN! AND REVIEW AGAIN!