Hey! Again, I apologize for the slow update, but I have been busy with my new job and also having to focus more on my duties at work. I do hope you guys enjoy the new chapter, as I have changed this style of wirting up a bit rom the first few pieces.

Anyway, I hop eyou guys enjoy!

Read & Review!

- VH

P.S.

(^Xx( )xX^) - Signals a change of scene.

(-) - Signals a temporary, and brief, change of character focus

^Xx( )xX^

"You know, I always did hate these type of missions, man...I don't like that whole quiet and calm scouting vibe...it creeps me out, horribly..." sighed a young Chunin, his as he ran a hand through his spiky brown hair. They had been sent on a simple recon mission, with the objective of heading to a small town, Fujinami, outlying just inside Rain Country's borders. Normally, the town itself would have warranted no attention, when reporting its monthly progress to the Amegakure Shinobi and Public Relations Council.

It was that very fact, that had garnered them concern.

They hadn't reported, nor even sent representatives, nearly two weeks behind schedule. Ame had already sent a four-men team only a week prior to the deadline.

"Calm down, Yuki, you're being such a coward about this...it's always this superstitious nonsense you spout, that scares you...haven't you ever heard of that Placebo Theory?" replied his partner, an older shinobi, whose face was covered in a light stubble. His face was outlined by a rather prominent jawline, although a scar traced just along his right cheek.

A testimony to the constant fighting Ame shinobi were to face, even as Chunin.

"Jyuu-san, are you always this critical? Seriously, you should start putting more weight on instincts, not reasoning..." stated Yuki, as he shook his head.

"Yeah, well, kid when you see the things, that I've seen in my time as a vete-"

Noticing the sudden pause in his partner's sentence, Yuki glanced to the side, halting his own search through the forest they had been walking through.

"Hey, Jyu-san, why did you sto-...wh-what happened?..." he stuttered, falling to his knees, as he took in the terrifying sight before the duo.

No more then a half mile ahead of their position, atop the hills surrounding the designated town...stood the remains, of said town. Buildings, that they knew were once shops, houses, and even shinobi posts, were now laying on fire and in heaps of rubble. Walls that were meant to have provided protection, currently fell to the ground as if lifeless marionettes.

It was as if an army had razed it.

"Wh-what...but...but how?" asked Yuki, his voice cracking as if he was a teenage boy.

"No...but...we only sent a squad of soldiers here, not three weeks ago..." whispered Jyu, as the elder shinobi glanced around...hoping to find even a single witness.

Unfortunately, he could see no more then the burning ruins, and crumbling structures, that were in obvious sight. He would have to draw closer, and inspect the surroundings in person.

"Yuki...get up" he growled, a scowl gradually spreading across his face, as his fellow Chunin partner nodded solemnly. As he rose to his feet, Yuki and Jyu each heard a small rustle to their left, only a dozen or so meters away, drawing an instant reaction form the trained ninja; each pulling out a kunai respectively.

"Who's there!? By Law of Pein-sama, you are to come out and surrender yourself!" shouted Yuki, his body beginning to tense up as his hands shook ever so slightly.

"Is...is that...Yuki, check it out...that isn't...what I think it is...is it?" asked Jyu, as he cautiously drew nearer to the source of sound. Yuki simply took a few steps forward, assuring himself that he stayed just a step or two ahead of Jyu.

They could both see what looked like, to be a slumped over townsmen, who was asleep.

"Je-jees...how the hell, does anybody sleep through this? The stench of burning concrete is bad enough to wake me u-...Jy-Jyu..." stuuttered Yuki, as he came just near enough to the villager, to see the state of the body clearly.

"What is it, Yuki-san? What are they doi-...n-no...what...what ha-happend to them?" asked Jyu, as he stumbled backwards, holding back the urge to vomit.

The body, which was slumped over a tree, was badly burnt, but had obvious signs of having been maimed and eaten, as the flesh had been torn off and ripped, with what could have been jagged teeth.

"Wh-what in...who could have done this?..." asked Yuki, as he looked around. Jyu merely shook his head, unable to say a word in response.

"Get...finish it!...over...hit it!" shouted voices in the distance, drawing the shinobis' attention.

"Over there! Jyu-san, we need to find out what happened!" declared Yuki, recieving a nod from the recovering Jyu, as he stood up.

Within a single motion, the two Chunin leapt forward, rushing to the ruined town, where the voices had originated.

They would find out what had happened.

^Xx( )xX^

"Let's see...first step, is to draw the chakra into your hands...allow it to collect, as if filling a balloon with air..."

Closing his eyes, Naruto drew in a deep breath, before sliding his feet outwards to should-width distance. Lifting both hands, he clasped the bottom of both palms in an outward direction, aiming at a distant tree. Gradually, he began drawing chakra from his body, into his hands.

"O-okay...ne-next...push it...pu-push it outwards...all-allow it to...be-become...a dense man-manifestation...of ch-chakra..." he groaned, as he began feeling a heavy sense of weight form on his arms. He could almost see the wind around his hands begin to twist and contract, as the chakra had begun pressurizing itself around his chakra. Within moments, he could hear a dull roar, as the chakra had become a visible, swirling, uneven ball of energy. He could have sworn, the bones in his forearms had creaked form the pressure and force being used in simply keeping the chakra in place.

"Th-then ke-keep...con-control!...do no-not...unleash th-the attack!...un-until...th-the right mo-moment!" he growled, feeling the strain of the held attack taking its toll upon his body, and even chakra coils within his muscles.

He had to hold it, just a few more seconds...

"C'mon...yo-you blasted...cha-chakra!"

Ten...nine..eight...

He could begin to see the look on his face, once he managed to succeed in mastering the new jutsu, that he himself had created. Before he could realize what was going on, however, Naruto felt his knees buckle, as he fell onto the floor, the chakra still collecting in his arms.

The density of the attack was causing his body, and the surrounding ground, to collapse from the sheer force.

Seven...six...five...

He could sense the weight building continuously, only serving to produce more internal stress on his muscles. He knew he wouldn't be able to hold it more then a few seconds, if he could manage that alone.

Four..three...

He was almost there, no more then a moment's distance away frpm success. He couldn't fail, he wouldn't allow himself the humiliation of knowing that Narumi would hold more power and skill then him. He refused to fail, and permit his Narumi form overshadowing him then she already had.

"N-no...I ca-can't...I won't...let some...pompous and...spoiled child...beat me!" he snarled, a newfound sense of power suddenly igniting itself in his mind.

Seconds be damned, he would hold the attack for as long as he could, regardless of time limit!

"I won't let her become stronger!...I refuse to be cast as a failure!...let...let's see who's the...final one laughing...wh-when I beat y-you! Narumi!" roared Naruto, as he pushed out one last burst of chakra, causing the amount he had previously collected, to rocket outwards directly at the tree ahead of him.

Far behind him, hidden behind a tree and unbeknownst to the blonde teen, was a dark-haired man, who had been keeping a close on the blonde-haired boy's private training session.

"Just...what are you doing...Uzumaki Naruto?" he asked himself, in a rhetorical manner. He had been watching the boy over the past few hours, honing his unique Taijutsu style, and even observed as he developed his ability with chakra control.

Never before, with the exception of a select few elite shinobi, had he witnessed anybody focus such effort into mere training. He had watched, and stood by at a distance, as the child had not only broken what should have been physical limitations, but shattered what many would have labeled their point of exhaustion.

While there were few Anbu within the Ame ranks, those who were, had ben keenly trained by Konan-san and Shisui-senpai personally in chakra-detection to a mildly skilled point. Neither Konan, nor Shisui, were natural chakra sensors, so they could only teach what they knew themselves.

Yet here, he had sensed the boy deplete his chakra twice...yet by a defiance of nature, had managed to draw out a reserve seemingly out of pure willpower..not once, but twice!

Wh-what is this kid made of?...it's like he doesn't know what reality is...he simply defies the Laws of Chakra Exhaustion, as if they were Academy rules for children...

Meanwhile, Naruto collapsed onto the hard ground, gasping for air, as he felt a horrible and throbbing pain spread throughout his arms. Unable to lift himself up, due to him not even managing to lift his own arms, he decided to simply lay down there, helplessly watching as the blast of chakra he had launched crashed into the tree...only to do nothing.

"All that fl-flash and noth-"

CRACK!

With a resounding explosion, and a screeching cracking sound, the tree's trunk, which had been unharmed on the outside, exploded, shooting splinters and wooden debris in all directions.

Namely at his general area.

"AAGH! No no no no no no!" shouted the blonde, as he hoisted himself up in a rush of adrenaline, sprinting as fast as his tired legs could carry him.

He need to find cover before the various wooden remains turned him into a pin cushion!

^Xx( )xX^

"Is this what it's come down to, Pein-sama?" asked a young red-haired woman, as he cast aside a Fox-like Anbu mask. She seemed familiar, yet a silhouette covered the larger portion of her body, shrouding her true identity.

"It is, Kitsune-san...I see you came alone, correct? You do need any help, nor backup?" asked a tall man, whom could only be assumed to be Pein.

The young woman nodded, before dropping into an offensive stance.

"I do not need the aid of my comrades, in order to take down scum, such as you...surrender, and I will see to it that you and your subordinates are tried fairly, and with mercy, Pein..."

Letting out a bitter laugh, the man known as Pein erely shook his head, before sitting down in a chair nearby. He was facing a large window that overlooked, what seemed to be an industrialized village that was burning down. The sounds of fighting and war cries could be heard through the sattered remains of the glass opening.

"I believe that would be...out of the question, Kitsune-san..." he replied, earning a sigh from the young woman.

"Then so be it, Pein-sama, you are hereby under arrest upon the order of the United Villages Coalition, for crimes against the villages of Konohagakure no Sato, and Sunagakure no Sato...by Martial Law of the Villages, you will be detained, and executed if deemed necessary..."

"Oh? Will I?...you seem to believe we are alone?" asked Pein, not even turning to look at the Anbu female named Kitsune, as a young man calmly strode between her and Pein.

His hair was styled into a faux-hawk, he sunshine-yellow locks swaying softly with the wind that came from the shattered window.

"Kitsune-san...what a coincidence, meeting you here..."

"Yo-you?...what are you doing here? You're on his side?" she asked, confused at the turn of events.

It was clear the young man was somebody she trusted, or was close to...

"Me? Simply enjoying the view, of you crushing my home village...I must say, tat doens't help much with my modd..."

"What do you mean, home village!? You're supposed to be with Konoha!" shouted the girl, much to the blonde's laughter.

"Ko-Konoha!?" he gasped, howling in mirth.

"Yo-you...betrayed us..."

"...betrayed you?...no...I would call it...bringing justice upon you..." he growled, as he began to walk towards her, each step bringing more menace then the last.

"N-Naruto..."

"-shina! Kushina!" yelled Minato, grasping and attempting to hold his thrashing wife, as she began to spasm in their bed.

They had ben quietly asleep, although in truth, he had been staring at the ceiling, pondering what to do with the upcoming meeting with the Yondaime Raikage tomorrow.

Such was the life of the Hokage, though that process of tought was quiclkly and violently interrupted by the distraction of his wife's nightmares. He had been given no warning, when Kushina's fist connected painfully with his jaw, knocking him off their bed.

He could only barely make sense of what she was saying, but he could hear through her pained moans, bits of "...young girl...Pein...fight...burning village...man...menacing..."

It was far more then enough to warrant his worry, and concern.

"Kushina! Wake up! Please, wake up!" he pleaded, shaking her gently, and even resorting to splashing cold water on her face. All to no avail.

"Wh-what's going on!?" shouted voices from downstairs, as Jiraiya and Tsunade, both came rushing in at a frantic pace. They could watch as Kushina continued to convulse in Minato's arms, before Tsunade grabbed the redhead, placing her hands on the woman's temples.

"Minato! Jiraiya! Go to the guest room, and fetch me y supplies and the chakra seals right next to the bed post! Now!" she barked, causing both shinobi to nod and dash out of the room. The blonde Sannin could only sit and watch as she carefully put Kushina in a state of unconscious sleep.

No dreams, were better then terrifying nightmares, any day...

"So what was that about, Minato? Kushina looked like she was being plagued by a demon, or something..." asked Jiraiya, as he watched Tsunade place one final seal on Kushina's forehead.

"...that should keep her brain from forming any sort of dreams, for the moment..." murmured the blonde kunoichi, as she straightened up.

"Thank you, Tsunade-sama...I don't know, Jiraiya-sensei...it never came up until a few month ago, but then it wasn't as bad...she would have a few sleepless nights, yet that was all..."

"So she only recently began having these...moments?..." questioned Tsunade, her curiosity growing. Minato nodded, before closing his eyes.

"Yes, Tsunade-sama..."

"Could be a heavy conscience..." stated Jiraiya, earning looks of confusion from his two fellow shinobi.

"What do you mean, Jiraiya?" asked Tsunade.

"It started right around the time Naruto was last seen, is what Minato said just now...Kushina could be having nightmares, due to the possibility that she may be casting herself a large amount of blame for failing to find him...call it, a Mother's Regret, I suppose..." sighed the white-haired man; crossing his arms.

"So she won't ge better until Naruto-kun returns?" asked Minato, his voice soaked in concern.

Jiraiya nodded.

"Or until she finds peace...one or the other, would be the only answer" added the man.

Minato sighed, rubbing his face with his hands in exasperation.

So much for being a good family man...this would bite him in the ass, when atonement time came...he just knew it.

^Xx( )xX^

"Well...that...wasn't the result I expected.." whispered Naruto, as he panted for air. He could his lungs sting with each breath he took, most of it due to the fact he had forced his every muscle fibers to run during that...escapade. After all, how was he simply going to stand by and allow a wave of incoming debris injure him?

Man, that was one awesome jutsu...but...the charging time...and the strain...I'd have to be at full strength to be able to pull it off, without exhausting myself...I'd say...it used up about forty-percent of my entire chakra reserve...

"Not bad, kid, not bad..." stated Shisui, as he stood by a tree just beside Naruto.

"Huh?...Shi-Shisui-san?..." he asked, plopping down on the ground, as he continued to observe the smoldering remains of the innocent tree. The Uchiha nodded, before glancing at the same object that his blonde student had so mutilated.

"...well...at least we have no worries over your new technique lacking raw power...although, the after effects...could be more desirable..." he sighed, taking in the sight of Naruto, watching the blonde struggle for breath and simple movement from his body. It was obvious his training sessions, and practice, had taken their toll on his physical being...he could only imagine the strain he had placed on his chakra coils.

"Ha...ha...yeah, I guess...I overdid...it a littlle, huh?..." gasped Naruto, laughing softly. Laying down, he groaned happily as the gentle soil and grass relaxed his body.

"So what's your motivation, Naruto?" asked Shisui, catching the blonde off guard.

"Wh-what?"

"You motivation, why do you train so hard? Do you seek simple power? Is there somebody you wish to protect? What is it that pushes you to test your limits, like you do?"

"My limits?..."

Shisui nodded.

"Yes, how do you draw the willpower to actually train so diligently? You rarely take a break, even less put your sessions on hold...I know Jonin, who have less focus then you..."

"..."

"...well, Naruto-kun?"

"To be the shinobi, my family never imagined me to be" replied Naruto, giving Shisui a blank stare.

It made the Uchiha feel somewhat awkward.

"What do you mean, the one they never imagined you to be?"

"My family, never truly bothered with training me..."

"Ah, yes, that...reports said, Uzumaki Narumi was the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki, correct? Your sister?"

"...yes..."

Scratching his chin, Shisui let out a small sigh, before shaking his head. He could give a rough guess, as to what the consequences would have been, with a sibling housing a Bijuu. So, starting with the fact that Jinchuuriki required extensive training in order to control the malevolent chakra, they would thus mandate special guardianship. That would obviously mean, Minato and Kushina, who were the legal caretakers, had been placing more and more focus on Narumi's training, rather then evenly distributing their attention and affection to both children.

Ironic.

"Is she your motivation? To outdo your sister? To display, how they made a mistake in giving her all the attention?"

"No"

Taken by surprise, at the blonde's simple answer, Shisui raised an eyebrow. In an all honesty, he by no means, had expected that abrupt answer in such a short time frame.

"Y-you don't?"

Shaking his head, Naruto lean back against the trunk trunk, before closing his eyes. Letting out a sigh, the young Uzumaki smiled softly, almost as if reminiscing on a cherished memory, from long ago.

"...I can't really explain it, Shisui-san...but...but I could care less about their opinions of me...I only care for the present, and not the past...I'm going to grow stronger, and I'm going to be the greatest shinobi to have ever lived..."

Nodding, the Uchiha let a small smile slowly spread across his face, as he took in what the blonde had said.

He's much smarter and wiser then most people older then him...many would be so focused on their anger and the prospect of revenge...Uzumaki Naruto...just what are you destined for?...

^Xx( )xX^

"So how did training go for you, Narumi-chan?" smiled Ayame, as the ramen waitress served the red-haired girl her fifth bowl of noodles.

"It was awesome, Ayame-chan! Kakashi-sensei taught us how to properly begin sensing chakra levels!..he said it'd months, before we could improe to a point where we could sense more then a few dozen meters, however..." she replied, somewhat gloomily towards the end.

"Awh, really?...well, look at the bright side, Narumi-chan! You have a challenge to overcome! You should see it as a hurdle to motivate you, rather then a point that you haven't reached!"

"Huh?...a...hurdle?...I guess...I see it...yeah, yeah! Thanks Ayame-chan! You know how to cheer me up!" grinned Narumi, scratching her head sheepishly.

I need to get stronger, and become the greatest Hokage ever, if I want to bring back Naruto-kun!

"Somehow, I figured you would be here, Narumi..." sighed a voice, in more of a innocent manner, as she turned around to see the source.

It was Sarutobi Hiruzen. The former Sandaime Hokage.

"Ojii-san!" she exclaimed, rushing to hug him tightly.

"Umph!...we-well! Aren't yo-you happy!" he gasped, rubbing his sides in somewhat mild soreness.

The girl clearly had a bit of a resemblance to a young Tsunade's strength...he would make it a point to instill patience into her, for the sake of all young mens' safety...

"Yepp! Ojii-san! I learned how to sense chakra today! So did Sakura-chan and Sasuke-kun!" she grinned, much to Hiruzen's slight surprise.

"You did? Well, congratulations, Narumi-chan...most shinobi don't learn that until a later part in their careers...it seems your team is incredibly talented" he chuckled, ordering a bowl for himself.

Narumi nodded proudly, before looking down at her own bowl.

"...my dream is to be even stronger then Tou-san...to be an even greater Hokage then the Yondaime..." she whispered. Hiruzen could only stare in mild awe, as he took in the sight before him.

"So you wish to become an even more legendary shinobi, then your father?" he asked, a small spark of pride igniting in his chest.

"Yes...I'm going to become the greatest kunoichi and shinobi that ever existed..." she smiled warmly, earning a pat on the back from the famed shinobi.

"You'll be a great Hokage, Narumi-chan, you will...but still, you should remember that being a Hokage is not simply about knowing how to fight and how to defeat ninja..." he added, drawing the girl's attention.

"...I know, Ojii-san!...that's why I've been spending time with Shikamaru-kun and his family! They've been giving me tips on how to play Shogi, and how it can be used in planning for fights and combat tactics!...oh, and Tou-san is also teaching me about how Council meetings go, so I'm also learning that! I can actually make up to six Kage Bunshin! So I'm having them study for a little bit at a time, so that I can still train and not get overloaded on information!" she beamed, causing the elderly ninja to stare at her in pride.

She's only so young, yet...she's already pacing herself, and even studying the mental and intellectual side of a shinobi's career...Namikaze Narumi...what things are you destined for?...

^Xx( )xX^

"So what do you think this means, Konan?" asked Zabuza, in a manner so quiet, even the azure-haired woman had a difficult time discerning his words a feet away.

Over the past few days, since Shisui had taken his team out on their extended mission and training session, Pein had sent her and Zabuza on a mission to investigate the disappearances of numerous town residents. The first had been some little village to South-West of Amegakure, whom had failed to report almost two weeks ago. They had yet to hear from the reconnoissance squad they had dispatched a week prior.

All of this had then resulted, in Pein taking a tighter grip on Rain Country's supervision. They could not afford to allow such errors constantly repeat themselves, if Ame was to enter a bid as a Great Village in the future.

"Be quiet, Zabuza...have you found anything, at all?"

"No, not a single shred of evidence..."

Cursing under breath at their luck, or lack thereof, Konan scanned the surrounding area once more. All she could see, however, was blackened rubble, and what little remained intact of the town before it burned down.

"I don't get, though...how did all this happen? We had four Jonin, and a few Chunin stationed here on reserve duty...they couldn't have just up and left, or even have been attacked, without us knowing of it..." stated Zabuza, as the Swordsman glanced at the buildings.

There's no chance that the whole town simply abandoned it, either, as the border to Rain Country is sealed off tightly...which means, they should technically still be here...or at least, withing the country...

"-buza! Look!" shouted Konan, a few meters behind him, as he kneeled next to what was left of a side wall.

She was holding a small, and burnt, scroll.

"A piece of parchment? Does it say anything about what happened?"

"...no...just...some strange code..." sighed the woman, as she handed him the scroll.

"Oh...well...we...may, uh...need help..."

22.1-24.8-33.2.2-98-09.102.20-34.78.586

298.32.3-3398.4.4987-38.3.3-5.78.7

67.09-6.07.096-67.678.5-45.43.44

This would definitely be a blast...

^Xx( )xX^

That's it for this chapter!

A few of you PM'd me about character stats, so here is how I rate the following two characters. According to my estimates, anyhow.

Naruto

Strength - 3/10

Stamina - 5/10

Agility - 3.5/10

Intelligence - 4/10

Chakra Control - 2.5/10

Chakra Reserves - 4.5/10

Ninjutsu - 3.5/10

Taijutsu - 3.5/10

Genjutsu - 1.5/10

Fuinjutsu - 0/10 Total - (31/100)

Narumi

Strength - 2/10

Stamina - 3.5/10

Agility - 4.5/10

Intelligence - 3.5/10

Chakra Control - 4.5/10

Chakra Reserves - 3.5/10

Ninjutsu - 3.0/10

Taijutsu - 2.010

Genjutsu - 2.5/10

Fuinjutsu - 0/10 Total - (29/100)