Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto
Big thanks to my beta reader Hanabi's Biggest Fan
"Why are we going to Kiri?" asked Naruto, confused.
"The orange masked freak showed up during their chuunin exams. Took a leaf out of Orochimaru's playbook and had the sanbi attack while a large number of Kiri shinobi under a very powerful genjutsu staged a rebellion," explained Jiraiya.
"Shit, are our people okay?" asked Naruto. He was really asking if Karin and Fuu were okay but knew he had to be careful while still in Kumo's territory.
"As far as I know," said Jiraiya. "The sanbi had to be sealed into a new jinchuuriki."
"Is Isobu okay?" asked Naruto.
"I don't have all the details," said Jiraiya. "You'll know when I know. In the meantime, we need to get there and add to their convoy to return to Konoha. We're not taking any chances."
"We're going to war, aren't we?" asked Naruto.
"Ame," said Kakashi softly as if it was something to be worried over.
"And now with as much as we pissed off Iwa," said Jiraiya.
"It just backfired big time didn't it?" asked Naruto.
"If Akatsuki hadn't made a stink we could have given Iwa time to cool down before we attacked Ame but now... Expect Iwa to reinforce them and possibly even help them push into Hi no Kuni," explained Jiraiya.
"Fuck," breathed Naruto, slightly in disbelief.
"That about sums it up," said Kakashi, putting his book away.
The three stood in silence waiting for the rest of their party so they could get underway. Gai and his team arrived a few minutes later. Lee and Neji were still pretty banged up but fit enough to travel. Sakura was in peak condition so she wouldn't slow them down at all.
Samui and her teammates arrived a few minutes later with Darui in tow.
"We'll be escorting you out of Kaminari no Kuni and accompanying you to Kiri. Jounin Darui will be acting as a diplomatic envoy," spoke Samui quickly.
"Jounin now, Darui?" asked Naruto.
"Yes, I was re-promoted," said Darui with a slight smirk.
"Re-promoted?" asked Naruto.
"Yes, I was busted down to chuunin a little more than a month ago for sneezing without permission," said Darui, his smirk grew a little at seeing the dumbfounding look on Naruto's face.
"Son of a... That's just not right man," said Naruto, crossing his arms and huffing in annoyance.
Jiraiya just laughed. "Come on gaki, you had to know that was going to happen. I wouldn't be surprised if the old gnome did the same thing."
"Was C also a jounin?" asked Naruto.
"He was just promoted," answered Darui. "For the first time," he added as an afterthought.
"Congratulate C for me next time you see him," said Naruto, a hint of annoyance in his voice. He was still slightly sour about being set up like that, fighting against jounin instead of chuunin wasn't exactly fair play.
"Stop your pouting, gaki. You'll probably be promoted by the time we get home too," said Jiraiya.
"How much were you holding back?" asked Naruto.
"Enough," said Darui. "You're very good and probably would have still beaten me. Your strategy was clever and sneaky. Using the hiraishin at the start like that was pretty brilliant, it definitely threw all four of us off when you didn't use it again."
"Well," chuckled Naruto, "I haven't quite mastered it yet. That was probably the extent of my mastery over it so far."
Darui chuckled, "It was a good bluff."
"Give me a few months to train on it and I'll get it. It's ridiculously difficult."
"Let's move!" ordered Samui, leaving the village gates followed closely by her team and the Konohagakure teams.
It took two days for the group to reach the coast. Naruto renewed his teasing of Omoi and Karui, much to Darui's amusement who started joining in. And then another four days by boat to Kirigakure.
"What a mess," complained Karui as the group reached the village gates. All around them the village was in shambles. Several buildings were in the process of collapsing, others had broken windows or burned roofs. The people looked beaten as they worked to rebuild from the recent destruction.
"Let's get to the kage quickly," said Jiraiya. He was about push ahead before the group was stopped by the arrival of Ao.
"Mizukage-sama asked me to come meet you here and guide you to the bunker in which she and your hokage have been staying."
"Bunker?" asked Jiraiya. "Why a bunker? Are things really that bad?"
"That fucking genjutsu," said Ao. "As long as the people can't see the mizukage, they don't react. We're still working on breaking the damn thing but it looks like someone put it in a seal then implanted it in the brain. We have no idea how they got there or how so many of them at the same time."
"That's not good," said Jiraiya. "I can probably help with removing the seal but if it's in the brain... I have no idea how to even get to it."
"With you permission Jiraiya-sama," interrupted Neji, "if you can teach me to break the seal then I am sure with my byakugan and jyuuken that we could remove it successfully."
"That might work," said Jiraiya, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "Let's go see Tsunade first and see what she wants to do."
"Then follow me," said Ao, turning and leaping up to the nearest intact rooftop followed closely by Konoha and Kumo shinobi.
Silence. Absolute silence accompanied the contingent from Iwagakure as they made their way back home. Even the winner of the chuunin exam finals was stoically silent as they traveled.
"I will kill that bastard one day," mumbled Kurotsuchi, anger boiling up within her.
Onoki leveled the young woman with killing intent and a glare that promised pain if she said another word effectively silencing her and forcing her into submission.
Silence was the order of the day, only hours from the village and still not a word was to be uttered.
Onoki came to a halt as he came through the final mountain pass before Iwa would be in view. Except that the view was blank. Nothing was there but a hole in the ground a hundred meters deep. "No," whispered Onoki. Forming a few quick hand seals he shot up into the air and towards his village. Where his village should have been. Where a hole in the ground now laid.
Onoki landed moments later at the bottom of the crater that once was his village. The buildings were little more than chunks of rock. Bodies stuck out in various locations. In the center of the crater were a few tents with some of his shinobi lingering about. They all looked completely and utterly defeated.
"What the hell happened here?" demanded Onoki as he approached his men.
"Akatsuki," whispered one man, his voice haunted and hollow as if there was nothing left of the man that once was.
"What do you mean Akatsuki?" asked Onoki.
"Father, you're back," said Kitsuchi.
"What the hell happened here? How did this happen?"
"Akatsuki did this," said Kitsuchi. "A single man appeared floating above the city two days ago wearing a black cloak with red clouds. He used a single technique that completely crushed Iwagakure. There was no warning, no negotiation, nothing. He was there, he attacked, and he vanished. But before he vanished, he dropped this." Kitsuchi handed a scroll to Onoki.
Onoki reluctantly took the scroll.
Flashback: two days earlier
Kitsuchi had a very busy week and half during his father's absence due to the chuunin exams. Thankfully it had also been a quiet week in spite of how busy he'd been.
"Excuse me, Kitsuchi-sama," a young woman interrupted his reverie.
"What is it, Toko-san?" he asked gruffly.
"Just more paperwork," she said, setting down another stack of papers.
"Any word yet on the chuunin exam results? I would have expected to hear something by now."
"No sir," said Toko, bowing once then leaving.
Kitsuchi leaned back in his father's seat. He was slightly worried about his father and daughter but he also knew they were more than capable of taking care of themselves. He would send a search party tomorrow if he hadn't received word by then. In the meantime, he simply assumed that the results were not favorable and thus his father was enforcing an absolute silence.
Without warning, gravity seemed to shift suddenly, small objects began to levitate off the desk and float in the air.
"What the hell?" he whispered to himself. Springing out of his chair he rushed outside to see a similar effect all over the village. Then he noticed several people pointing skyward.
Looking up where the people were pointing, he saw a man with orange hair and a black cloak with red clouds floating above the city.
"Shinra tensei (almighty push)," echoed throughout the village.
Kitsuchi could only watch in horror as everything around him was crushed. Pulverized. Decimated. Nothing remained but a crater and rubble.
Kitsuchi had dug himself out hours later to see the end result. A few survivors loitering near the center of the crater.
Kitsuchi walked slowly towards the other survivors, putting his shoulder back in place as he walked.
"Kitsuchi-sama," a few of the men whispered as he approached, a small spark of hope left in them.
"Kitsuchi," called a chuunin he didn't know by name. The boy had run errands for his father around and near the village. "You survived, glad you finally decided to join us."
"Why aren't you digging for survivors?" demanded Kitsuchi, snapping into command mode.
"We've been all day, the men and women that survived are exhausted, mentally and physically," snapped the chuunin.
"Watch your tone with me, chuunin," snapped Kitsuchi in return.
"With all due respect, to hell with you and your traitor family," said the chuunin.
"And what the hell is that supposed to mean?" demanded Kitsuchi, his anger boiling up quickly.
The chuunin threw a scroll at him rather harshly then stormed away.
Kitsuchi reluctantly opened the scroll and read, turning paler by the second.
"Have we recovered any of the communications devices? I need to contact the daimyo," ordered Kitsuchi, urging some of the men to work.
"Is it true?" asked Kitsuchi, it was more of a demand. "Did you betray our people to them? Did you have so little confidence in your own people to do mission that you would hire a mercenary group like them? A group we know Deidara has aligned with? And you betrayed your own village, regardless if they were jinchuuriki."
Onoki bit down on his rage to read the missive from Akatsuki.
You have betrayed our trust and our contract with you. The first betrayal: you hired us to complete missions you were too cowardly to accept in exchange for information on the whereabouts of your jinchuuriki. Information that did not mention they knew of our existence or that they would unite to oppose us. The second betrayal: your jinchuuriki attacked members of our organization causing significant injury and damages. The third betrayal: you failed to submit to the will of Akatsuki. Your village has been found guilty of three betrayals and is sentenced to dissolution by death and destruction.
"I'll kill them all," said Onoki.
"Answer me, Onoki," demanded Kitsuchi.
"It's true," said Onoki.
"As the last remaining village council member and with the authority of the daimyo I hereby strip you of all authority and rank. You are to stand trial at the capital for treason," Kitsuchi read aloud from another scroll, this one bearing the mark of the daimyo.
"They betrayed me," insisted Onoki.
"You working with them at all betrayed all of us!" yelled Kitsuchi. "Surrender peacefully and I'll plead for a quick death."
"Surrender?" asked Onoki quietly, the disbelief clearly written on his face. "You want me to surrender... but I'm... but I..."
"Surrender tou-san," said Kitsuchi gently. "Please, don't make me force you."
Onoki's fist suddenly clenched. "You? You would raise a hand against me? You think you really have the strength to stop me?"
"Don't make me do this," said Kitsuchi. "Face what you've caused and take responsibility for once in your life."
"Responsibility, huh?" asked Onoki. "Fine, I'll take responsibility. I'll kill every last one of those shit stains." Onoki shot into the air and vanished from sight in an instant.
"Good luck, tou-san," said Kitsuchi. He fully expected Onoki to try. He expected Onoki would even take out a few of them before he died. But he knew it very unlikely he would never see his father alive again.
Six months had passed since the fall of Iwagakure and in that time Kitsuchi had been name Tsuchikage. Now, all five kage had gathered for a rare but important gokage kaiden (five kage summit).
"I am Mifune, Taisho of Tetsu no Kuni, I will be the moderator for this gokage kaiden. Please maintain order or my men will be forced to act." Mifune was an older man. He had a long, well cared-for goatee and mustache. His gray hair was long but also well groomed. And around his head he had several bandages wrapped.
"Now that we have all assembled, kage, please place your hats on the table."
The five kage did as instructed.
Kitsuchi placed his hat on the symbol for Iwagakure that was carved into the table top.
Mei placed her hat on the symbol for Kirigakure.
A placed his hat on the symbol for Kumogakure.
Gaara placed his hat on the symbol for Sunagakure.
When Konoha's turn came to place their hat, Tsunade stood and took a step back from the table and motioned someone from behind her forward. "I am Hokage of Konohagakure no Sato, nothing about that will change with this meeting. However, my successor will be my proxy for this meeting. She remove the hat from her head and held it out.
Naruto took the hat and set it on the symbol for Konohagakure and then sat behind it.
"Does anyone have a problem with this decision?" asked Mifune.
It was obvious that the tsuchikage wanted to protest but held his tongue.
"As long as the boy behaves," said A, surprisingly restrained.
"He will, or else..." said Tsunade with a small glare at Naruto.
"Very well, if there are no further protests, let us begin. Given that Konohagakure requested this summit, I will allow them to state their cause."
Naruto stood and swallowed once nervously before steeling his nerves and beginning to speak. "Akatsuki has grown to become a threat such that they can no longer be ignored and allowed to do as they please. Thus, we are here to seek a joint declaration in which the villages unite to permanently eliminate this threat to our way of life."
"This would require an immediate end of all hostilities between our nations and the formation of a joint task force with the autonomy to cross borders as needed to seek out and eliminate all assets and personnel of Akatsuki.
"To that end, we will be confronting S-rank criminals from several nations, both major and minor. As such, we would seek to assign all active duty jinchuuriki to this task force as well as several high-ranking shinobi from each nation."
"You want to form an authorized organization similar to Akatsuki in order to defeat them?" asked Gaara.
"That is correct, Kazekage-dono," said Naruto.
"And let me guess, you want to be in charge?" asked Kitsuchi.
"If I was tasked to, I would. However, I believe Kazekage-dono would be the better choice of leaders. He is much more rational and a stronger strategist than I. As he is also a jinchuuriki, having him lead such a group would make more sense then having me despite being the chosen successor to the hokage."
"You would ask for some of our strongest weapons to combat a group that specifically wants to obtain those weapons. Is this not folly?" asked A considerately. It was out of character for him to behave in such a manner, but a welcome change, nonetheless.
"We have a choice, either we destroy them or they destroy us," added Mei. "I for one, am in favor of this plan."
"And if you do succeed? What will happen once Akatsuki has been dealt with? What will you do then?" asked Kitsuchi.
"We would go our separate ways," said Naruto. "This group would hold no claim over the shinobi that are placed in it. This would be a temporary, one-time arrangement to deal with a very real threat in a quick and efficient manner before they become an even greater threat."
Kitsuchi frowned. "And what of my jinchuuriki? Will you return to my village?"
"Your jinchuuriki requested asylum after your village betrayed them. You will have to talk to them directly if you want them to return. I do know that they have already agreed to join this group if all five of the great nations agree," advised Mei.
"And how much is this going to cost us?" asked Kitsuchi. "My village's financial status is not favorable at this time."
"We are not asking for financial contributions, the daimyo have already agreed to fund this project. We only need your approval, your jinchuuriki, and two to four of your shinobi that would be valuable assets."
"You already have daimyo approval?" asked A. "You consulted my daimyo without my permission?"
"No, my daimyo reached out to his cousins and brothers and together they decided they would fund it if their shinobi agreed to participate," said Mei coolly, narrowing her eyes at A. He was far too calm as were his guards.
A crossed his arms calmly.
Just then the door to the room was smashed open, clear of its hinges. "What the hell is the meaning of this?" demanded A.
Naruto looked up in surprised at seeing another A. He sniffed the air once. The new A and his two guards all had familiar scents but the A that was here from the start as well as his guards all smelled the same.
Naruto threw a brace of kunai and shuriken at the fake A and guards suddenly enough that only two of them dodged. The third, Darui, took a kunai to the forehead. The body shifted into an unknown form as it died.
A clapping from above them surprised the assembled group. "Well done, well done indeed," said the man standing upside down, his single visible eye glaring at Naruto from beneath his mask.
"Madara," hissed Tsunade and Mei, both taking defensive stances.
"There is no need for that," said Madara with a small chuckle of amusement. "I am not here to fight today. Well, not anymore. No, no, I am most intrigued by this Akatsuki no Taishite (Against the Red Dawn) you wish to form. Let us play this game shall we. My Akatsuki against your Taishite, winner take all."
A snorted a moment before vanishing from sight, appearing at his village's desk, and crushing the two remaining imposters. "If you think we'll bow down to any psychopath's whims then you're even more delusional than I had been led to believe."
"Well, I suppose I could have Pein make an example of your village next," said Madara.
"I do not make idle threats," interrupted Madara, an edge to his voice that was absent until now.
"I see," said A, sitting down at his seat, tossing the fake hat and placing his hat on the table where it belonged. "And why would you agree to something like this?"
"Call it foolish pride or willful amusement," said Madara. "Do this, or prepare for open warfare on a scale none of you could have never imagined."
"So what are your terms?" asked Gaara.
"You form your team. You train for one year. Then open season begins. You hunt us, we hunt you. Death, destruction, and mayhem and if any of yours are still alive and mine are not, well, I suppose you'll get a shot at the title holder, me."
"Will you leave the villages out of our conflict then?" asked Mei.
"No, once open season begins, anything goes," said Madara.
"You're a real son of a bitch," hissed Kitsuchi. "You attack my home unprovoked. Kill hundreds of innocents and hundreds more shinobi."
"Do you have a point in this speech?" asked Madara, disregarding Kitsuchi's anger as if it meant nothing at all.
"Why would we wait even a day longer when we could mobilize every shinobi in the elemental nations and move on you now?" demanded Kitsuchi.
"And how many would die in the process?" asked Madara. "Is my generosity not great? Am I not kind?"
"You're a sick and twisted individual," said Tsunade, a snarl tearing through her voice at the end.
"Maybe yes, maybe no," he answered, "but can you really risk not taking me up on my offer? Or do I need to level another of your villages first?"
"So be it. We'll play your game," said A firmly. "I just hope you fully understand what it is you've done. You no longer have five villages, each with their own grudges and hatred of each other. Now, you've got our combined resources training an elite team of shinobi with one purpose and goal, your death and the deaths of all of your associates. There will be no quarter given."
"I'm counting on it so that when your 'team' fails you are left with a profound sense of hopelessness and understanding that resistance is futile and always was."
"Are all of the villages in agreement then?" asked Mifune, a frown marring his face. He was clearly not pleased with the breach in security that allowed this to happen.
All eyes now focused on Kitsuchi who was still glaring a hole in Madara. "And my father's personal vendetta. Will his decision to hunt you all down and kill you break the terms of this agreement?"
Madara barked out a single laugh before reaching into his cloak and removing a single scroll which he then tossed to Kitsuchi. "Consider him a moot point."
Kitsuchi frowned. He fully understood exactly what the scroll was or more specifically who was contained within the scroll.
"Iwa agrees," he finally said with a resigned sigh.
"Tetsu no Kuni also agrees," said Mifune, much to the surprise of those present. "You should not be so surprised, this threat also affects my nation and therefore we will also participate."
"You're assuming you're invited," said Madara.
Mifune leveled him with a glare. "Are you saying I'm not?"
Madara chuckled. "Well, if you insist then so be it. I'll leave you now to make your plans. I will give you one week to build and assemble your team then the timer starts." Madara then vanished into a vortex leaving no trace he was ever there.
"I really don't like that guy," said Naruto with a frown.
"Then make sure he dies painfully," said Kitsuchi.
"Oh, trust me, I will," said Naruto, cracking his knuckles in anticipation. "Now, before we go any further, what are we gonna call this group because I'm sure as hell not going to let that prick name us." That one comment seemed to bring a small level of calm to the assembled shinobi at just the right time.
"While Taishite may be accurate I am inclined to agree that allowing Madara to define us would be a mistake. Perhaps Akatsuki no Botsuraku (Red Cloud Downfall) would be a better name?" offered Gaara calm as ever.
"You could call it the 'Monkey's Ass' team for all I care. Team name doesn't matter, we have more pressing issues to deal with!" shouted A, thumping his fist on the desk in annoyance.
"A-dono is correct. Now, all of the jinchuuriki will be involved, that makes nine team members," said Mifune.
"Eight," said Mei. "The sanbi jinchuuriki is only recently sealed, has had very little training, and is also very young. I cannot in good conscience allow her to fight."
Mifune nodded once. "Then you will be arranging protection for her away from your village? If they have the ability to crush a village as they did with Iwa then it would make sense to not give them reason."
Mei nodded once in agreement.
"Konoha will be represented by myself, Hatake Kakashi, Fuu, Haruno Sakura, Uchiha Sasuke, and Uzumaki Karin," said Naruto. He may not have liked Sasuke but he deserved his shot at Akatsuki, more specifically at Itachi. "That's four combat specialists and two iryonin."
"Suna will be represented by myself, Sabaku Temari, and Sabaku Kankuro, all combat specialists."
"Iwa will be represented by Kurotsuchi, Akatsuchi, Roshi, and Han, all combat specialists," said Kitsuchi.
"Kiri will be represented by Utakata and Chojuro, both combat specialists. Unfortunately I cannot spare more of my shinobi at this time due to the recent attack on my village."
"Kumo will be represented by Killer Bee, Nii Yugito, C, and Team Samui, that's five combat specialists and one iryonin."
"Tetsu no Kuni will provide all weapons and armor for this team. My people may not be the best at fighting shinobi but our blacksmiths are far superior as is our steel."
Tsunade frowned slightly at Naruto's selected team but she had to have faith in him eventually to make the right decisions.
"Now that our teams have been chosen I would also like to offer Jiraiya of the Sannin as a dedicated trainer for the team," added Tsunade.
"Bee will also act as a trainer in addition to being a team member," said A.
"I expect there will be a lot they can all learn from each other," said Mei calmly. "The question now is where do we begin training our shinobi?"
"Konoha," said Naruto, with a slight look to Tsunade silently asking her a question.
Tsunade nodded knowing the question.
"We'll start with Konoha's SIPA," said Naruto.
"What the hell is this SIPA?"
"The Shinobi Institute of Performance Analysis."
A/N: So ends Naruto: Shinobi Institute of Performance Analysis. I will be putting out a sequel soon so keep an eye out for it Naruto Shippuuden: Akatsuki no Botsuraku.