Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto

Those who wage war know my name…

Chapters 15 through 18 are now Re-written Etheral-23

Chapter 18: The Prelims Begin!

XxX ~ last time ~ XxX

Calming down Kushina smiled back to her son; "Well if he isn't training you right now. I will train you and this Sakura-Chan if you like?"

Naruto literally beamed. "You will?!"

"Of course. I wanted to train you myself anyways. Plus I can meet your girlfriend," the redhead Uzumaki smirked knowingly.

Naruto blushed while Hiruzen chuckled. "Did that old pervert Jiraiya have you sign the Toad contract yet?" Kushina asked.

Shaking out of stupor Naruto shook his head; "Not yet."

The female Uzumaki beamed as she looked at Hiruzen; "Where is it?"

"I'll have an Anbu fetch it in my personal archives."

"Fetch what?" Naruto asked.

Kushina winked; "The Uzumaki Clan's summoning scroll. I was relieved when Jiji was able to save it."

"We have our own summoning?"

"Yep!"

"Cool Dattebayo!"

XxX ~ Team Kumo ~ XxX

"Orochimaru is here," Samui spoke in a rare shock in her voice. "This is not cool."

Sitting in their private room Yugito and the others have been giving their teammate and substitute sensei the details of what happened in the forest. Rescuing Naruto the Konoha Genin and Kyuubi Jinchurriki, joining with Kiri and another Konoha team and forming an alliance which was led brilliantly by the Shoton user. Then they spoke of their showdown with the Hebi Sannin himself. Samui was impressed they held out as long as they did till help came in the form of the Hokage and a full platoon of Anbu. Her sole regret she was not there to help her team being stuck as their substitute sensei.

After that, finding Naruto's team and faced off against Oto and beating them. If that was not enough the last Uchiha had gone crazy from a curse mark given by the Sannin and attacking his own team.

Then the icing on the cake learning Naruto is in fact the son of the legendary red death of Konoha. But none were sure why no one told him he has a clan, which being the Uzumaki. But that was not their problem.

"So what does any of you think of Naruto-San?" Samui asks.

"We can trust him" Yugito said honestly.

Her three teammates look at her in shock. Normally it's Yugito the longest to trust anyone next to Samui. Karui is usually suspicious while Omoi is the optimistic. So hearing this from the best Genin in all Kumo was something.

Yugito gives looks to all three; "He led two foreign teams which worked perfectly in sync with each other. Perhaps had the best tactics to go against that damn snake. And lest not forget he sealed off that curse mark on the Uchiha. I'd say that proves a hell of a lot in my books."

"And the old fox is my husband," Matatabi spoke up.

He…WH… YOU'RE HUSBAND?!

"Kind of forgot to mention that didn't I?" the cat Bijuu chuckles.

Samui, Karui, and Omoi were looking at Yugito who seem to space out. Talking to Nibi no doubt. But why was did she looked shocked and pale?

"Yu… Yugito…"

A hand in front of her face from Omoi snapped the blond Kunoichi out of talk with her Bijuu. Looking around as the sole male of the group sat back down she saw everyone looking at her with concern.

"Everything okay? You looked overwhelmed," Omoi asked.

Rubbing the back of her head sheepishly she shrugged; "Just Matatabi deciding to fill me on late details."

Everyone settled down as they got back to their topics to do.

XxX ~ Hokage Office: Tower ~ XxX

Having fixed everything up in the room from the chakra pulse wave from Kushina's return, Hiruzen turned off the special silence seals in the room. He simply enjoyed watching his two precious people playing catch up while sitting on the couch. Though he did wonder when one would bring up Naruto's father. But what he got was not what he expected.

"Kaa-chan, why did Tou-san seal the Kyuubi within me?"

This question shocked both Kushina and Hiruzen; the redheaded Uzumaki looked at her son. She eyed him gently.

"You know who your Tou-san is don't you?"

The blond Uzumaki nodded; "Minato Namikaze. In the dream of you I saw him there, and I felt warmth radiating from him. But also deep regret."

Hiruzen tipped his hat as he looked ahead mournfully. Kushina lowered her own as she clinched her fists that rested on her knees.

"If not for that masked bastard the Kyuubi would have stayed inside on me."

"Wha…"

Looking up at her son as tears prick her eyes; "I am the second container of the Kyuubi no Kitsune. As per the orders of Mito Uzumaki-Senju."

Naruto's eyes widen in shock as he looked over to his grandfather who nodded sadly, confirming it. "Also Mito-sama was the first Jinchurriki of the Kyuubi after Hashirama-sama released it from Madara's control."

Naruto heard the most enraged venomous growl from Kurama mentioning the ancient Uchiha matriarch. "The fox really does not like Madara," Naruto muttered.

"That was about the only thing I or Mito-baachan ever learned. Otherwise he was silent no matter how hard we tried to speak with him. I never saw anyone so full of such rage and hate," Kushina said sadly.

"Tell that woman I do not desire nor want her pity! As if her or that insufferable Mito could ever understand my hate," Kurama growled out.

Kushina and Hiruzen both noticed Naruto looking away distantly. When the old Kage was about to say something the redheaded Uzumaki stopped him.

"If neither me nor Mito-baachan could get the old fox to open up. Maybe sochi can."

XxX ~ Naruto's Mindscape ~ XxX

Inside his mind Naruto and the fox stare evenly at each other. "I heard you talking to Matatabi-chan back in the forest."

Instantly the room was flooded with pure killer intent as the fox's eyes glows the purest red Naruto ever saw.

"NEVER SPEAK OF MY MATE'S TRUE NAME!" Kurama roared shaking the very room.

To the fox's mental surprise Naruto remain completely unfazed by the monstrous killer intent and malice. The boy's cerulean eyes stayed focused on only the fox's. For a moment he swore he saw the damn woman Mito in the brat's eyes.

In a strange way he is like both Mito and Kushina…

"Sorry."

The killer intent and malice fade back into the cage but not the rage in Kurama's eyes.

How did he even hear my conversation with Matatabi? Furthermore what is he plotting?

"You said us humans are an insult to your father's teachings. That's the Rikudō Sennin right?"

"Your point human?"

"Help me understand what he tried to do so maybe I can help you be free of your own hatred," Naruto said without fear or hesitation.

The fox widened his eyes for moment before narrowing them. Soon came a chuckle then proceeded into booming laughter. Naruto could tell he was being mocked so didn't take the bait.

"YOU! A mere child barely knowing how to crawl believes he can free me! Kurama the Bijuu King from his hatred!"

The fox's laughter boomed as Naruto stayed steady and true. "You never wanted this anymore than I did. Or my kaa-chan."

The fox's laughter stopped in a heartbeat as he glared hard. "What I wanted was to be with my mate! But that wretched creature Madara Uchiha only saw the Bijuu as weapons and used his cursed Sharingan to enslave me. I was forced to watch as he willed my body to attack his enemies and face that fool Hashirama!"

"But Hashirama freed you."

"But had me sealed into his wife soon after! Then captured my mate and the others to be used as bargaining chips to keep the peace in the nations that had yet to grow into what they are now. You think I want to thank him for freeing me?! I hate him just as much as Madara for he saw our kind as the same thing, weapons!"

Naruto's mind did remember that part in history in the academy. Since he saw all the Hokages as his heroes. During the time after killing Madara, the Shodai went into peace talks with the growing nations and he offered the captured Bijuu as peace offerings…

The blond bowed his head; didn't anyone ever try to understand the Bijuu? Or does humanity really only see them as tools to be used as they saw fit. Narrowing his eyes with determination he looks up at the Bijuu King who glares back.

"I make a promise I will set you free from your hatred. Because I will never see you as a weapon. You are a living intelligent being, but I am also doing this for Nibi-Chan."

The fox snorted; "Bold words Ningen. But pray tell why you also do this for my mate?"

Naruto looked at Kurama with what the fox saw to be, sadness. "Because I felt how much pain she was in just seeing you like this. I will free you from your hate to bring back the person you were. I promise you Kurama."

The fox narrowed his eyes as his tails sway behind him. "I will not be holding my breath…"

The blond smirked; "One step at a time. You will be free from your hatred."

That was the last Naruto spoke as he vanished from his inner mind. Kurama look at the spot where his container stood before snorting and lowering his head on his crossed claw-like hands.

You will find my hate is not easily broken… Kit

XxX ~ the outside World ~ XxX

Kushina sat as she watched her son with his eyes closed. Hiruzen stood beside her watching with concern. It had been over thirty minutes since Naruto went into his mindscape to speak with the fox. Both sigh with relief as his eyes soon open.

He looked at his mother and grandfather; "How long was I in there?"

"Thirty minutes sochi. So what happened?"

The blond Uzumaki looks at them both with strong determination. "I am going to free the Kyuubi from his hate."

Both adults looked surprise by such a strong declaration. But soon Kushina slowly smiled as she ruffled her son's hair.

You might just get your wish after all Mito-baachan Dattebane!

XxX ~ Naruto and Kushina ~ XxX

Appearing at the top of the tower, wanting to get some much needed air, Naruto and Kushina brighten seeing the late afternoon sun. Stretching the redhead lies down on the roof with her son following suit, as they both look at the sky above.

"Sochi…" Naruto looks over to his mother as she continues to look up. "I know I have a lot to make up for. And promising to be your sensei along with this Sakura is a start, but I want to ask-"

"Am I angry at Tou-san for what he did?"

Seeing his mother look away he knew he hit the nail on the head. "I understand now why he picked me. How can you choose someone else's child but not your own? It had to be me. I'm not mad anymore, but I still want to punch him."

Kushina lightly chuckled before looking back to her son; "And me?"

"I was just afraid you would hate me for being Jinchurriki."

Quickly sitting up she looked at her son sternly; "I could never hate you. You're my child. You grew right here for the nine most precious months of my life."

When grabbing his hand Naruto sat up when she placed her son's hand on her stomach. It was flat and toned; the blond could hardly believe he really came from there. Letting go of his hand she grabs his shoulders letting their eyes lock.

"I love you more than I could ever say in words. And I will always be proud of you."

"Damn it," Naruto voice grew horse as he rubbed his damp eyes. "Why can't I stop crying?"

Kushina smiled warmly as she hugged her son tightly. "Because you're happy silly."

She rubbed her son's back gently as she felt her son relax. When both finally let go, "Now Naruto, I'd like to see how well you're doing with my taijutsu. I will talk to this Sakura-Chan tomorrow when everyone gets here"

"Prelims?"

Kushina winked; "it's a step before the actual third exam. That is if there were too many survivors from the second stage. And from the chakra signatures I am sensing there will be a prelim."

"Makes sense; but where can we train in here kaa-chan?"

Placing her hand on her son's shoulder both Shunshin into a massive room with an area floor. There was also what looks like a high stand floor for people to watch on the first floor, there were two stairways on either side which went to balconies. Also there was a large statue of two hands doing the ram sign.

Naruto looked around in wonder while the female Uzumaki watches with a pleased smile. "The prelims will be done here. It will be one on one matches, thought there can be exceptions. Jiji will give out his normal lecture and then a jounin will take over and go over the rules. You win by rendering you opponent unconscious or killing them. If the proctor says it's over the match is over. Remember that Dattebane."

Taking one last look around Naruto nods as he stands in front of his mother he nods.

"Now hit me," the redhead said simply.

Naruto blinked and looked concerned Kushina sighed seeing this; "Sochi since I am going to taking over you and this Sakura's training we will have to spare. And from jiji told me you learn like how I do. And I want to see how well you're doing in using my taijutsu dattebane. So hit me."

Steeling his nerve Naruto dashes forward, rears back his fist. He only sees his mother's smirk before he somehow found himself on the ground looking up at his mother who only smirked down at him.

"Very amateur at best Sochi. Your stance is too rigid and your punch was sloppy. Then again Ero-Sennin is not the right sparring partner for using my Taijutsu. I won't be able to work the kinks out today, but let's see what we can do. And maybe get you a sword."

"I could just make a sword with my Shoton," Naruto grunts in pain as he stood. Holy hell his mom could hit harder than Sakura could ever dream!

Kushina gave a thoughtful look, "True. But it never hurts having a backup. Plus, I wanted to teach my kenjutsu anyway."

A million watt smile crossed Naruto's lips as he nearly danced all over the room. Kushina chuckled; this will be extremely intense Sochi, and you and this Sakura girl will not like me during the month before the third exams but you will both be as you were meant to be, I promise!

XxX ~ Hiruzen ~ XxX

The elder Hokage does not move as he feels a presence behind him. He'd told Kushina and Naruto, after they had returned, to wait outside while he called for someone who would most certainly want to see Kushina.

"Neko reporting Hokage-sama" Proclaim the purple haired Anbu, kneeling before her lord.

Hiruzen smiled. "Ah Neko-san. You must be wondering why I brought you here" The Anbu only remained kneel ed professionally, whatever matter her Hokage had called for, she would comply without hesitation. As it is expected of any Anbu. "Certain… events have come to pass. Wonderful events I must say. Someone who was one lost to us has returned"

Yugao tilts her head in confusion. "Hokage-sama?"

It was then that the Anbu felt a familiar chakra making itself known. Yugao knew that chakra very well. The owner had been an important part of her life. She could suddenly feel the chakra standing behind her. Turning around quickly now standing, her breath was caught in her throat.

There she was, looking nearly identical as the last day she had seen her –Minus the big pregnant belly- The same red hair, the same violet eyes, the same blinding toothy smile.

"Neeh Yugao-chan is that you? Oh of course it's you. Just look at you" Her teacher, Kushina Uzumaki, said with a wide smile. "You got so big!"

Yugao could only stare with wide eyes behind her mask, moisture gathering in them. "How?" Whispered gob-smacked Anbu.

"A one-time use kinjutsu that save my life that night" Explained Kushina. "I was sealed this whole time, healing my injuries. Until Naruto undid the seal"

The young woman was shaking with joy. A few droplets of salty water dripped from her chin. "H-Hokage-sama" Yugao says shakily. "Permission to break most of the Anbu directives"

Hiruzen chuckles heartily. "Permission gran-" He hasn't finished speaking when Yugao had peeled off her mask and thrown her arms around the redheaded woman.

"I kept practicing with my sword" Sobbed the kunoichi, holding unto Kushina as if her life depended on it. "Day after day like you told me"

Kushina smiles and softly runs a hand through her student's purple hair. "Jiji told me you kept up your training and continued protecting the village with all your heart. You grew up into a strong beautiful woman. I couldn't possibly be any more proud than I am right now"

Naruto waited outside as his mother reunited with a person very important to her as he was told, her student. He didn't want to impose –Though he really wanted to his mother's apprentice- so he waited. Light steps draw his attention to the hallway, and saw his pink haired teammate walking towards him.

"There you are" Said Sakura with exasperation. "I was looking all over for you!"

Naruto scratches his neck sheepishly. "Sorry Sakura-chan, a few things came up"

She sighs. "You've been gone so long I thought something had happened"

"Hehe, were you worried?"

She crosses her arm while looking away, a blush forming on her cheeks. "Don't get so full of yourself. You're my teammate and I need to make sure you're alright"

A thought suddenly occurs to him. Giving hear a smile that threatened to split his face, he grabs her hand and guides her towards the office.

"Sakura-chan, there is someone I'd like you to meet."

Before she could answer, the pass through the door and were received by the strange sight of an Anbu woman crying, with a beautiful red haired woman with her hands on her shoulders.

The rosette blushed as Kushina turn to look at her letting go of the tearful Yugao; she is sooo beautiful… And Naruto-kun seems different, more alive now. Who is this woman?

"So you're Sakura-chan eh?" The redhead gave a teasing smile to her son before looking back to the rosette.

Sakura nodded. She nearly jumped back when Kushina was kneeling down right in front of her face in a millisecond. Dark purple looked into jade as Kushina stared the young rosette down. Placing her hand on the girl's chin the female Uzumaki moved Sakura's face side to side then let her go.

"Is your mother Mebuki Haruno?"

"How do you know my mom?" Sakura asked in shock.

She was caught off guard when Kushina gave her heartfelt hug. "Your mom was one of my best friends. Did they get the store going?"

"Uh… Yes… Hokage-Sama, Naruto-Kun who is this woman?" Sakura asked while still being hugged.

Her hug feels so warm and loving. Like mom's…

Naruto smiled brilliantly as he tried not to cry as he said it. He was still reigning down his emotions after all –who wouldn't-!

"Sa-Sakura-chan. Meet my kaa-chan, Kushina Uzumaki DATTEBAYO!"

The rosette's eyes widen as she quickly looked at the woman and her teammate. They had the same face and overall skin tone. Her body trembled, not with sadness or joy, but with rage. And Kushina saw and waited for the reaction.

Naruto's eyes widen seeing the rosette slap his mother.

Everyone froze as Sakura glared tearfully and shouted right in her face; "Now you come back! Naruto-Kun needed you! Where were you, you're his mother!"

Hiruzen stopped Yugao from telling the girl off. Kushina just smiled. Oh I like her, she's got a spine.

"I placed myself in a sealing scroll. A specialized Kinjutsu healing seal that puts a person in a state of suspended animation where time has no meaning. Jiji just finally remembered the damn thing today Dattebane."

Hiruzen grunted in embarrassment as he looked away.

Dattebane? Sakura blinked in confusion as her anger eased up. Naruto somehow got in between his mom and crush as he tried calming her down. Kushina chuckled as she saw her son arguing with the rosette, more with annoyance than anger. Placing her hands on each teen's shoulder she grabs their attention.

"Sakura, yes there a lot I must make up for and I intend to make up for the last twelve years of Naruto's life. But I also intend to help you."

Tilting her head in confusion Sakura only sees two Uzumaki's smiling at her. She had to admit it was heartwarming to see, even if she still was a little mad. She would least hear the woman out since wanting to make up for not being there for Naruto till now.

"Since you'll have some time before the phase of the exam to prepare. I'll be training both you and Naruto so you'll rock the test."

The rosette's face brightened as she nodded rapidly; "Hai"

XxX ~ Next Day ~ XxX

It was early morning for Sasuke. He was jerked awake by being hit with a pillow.

"What the hell?" he yelled muffled.

The pillow was pushed off as he stared wide eyed to redheaded woman staring down at him with his two teammates beside her. Wearing Black hip hugging Anbu pants, covered with shin guards, with a red sash wrapped like a belt and shirt –which snugs her large bust- with a sleeveless gray trench coat, arm guards and sandals. On her right bicep is a Hitai-ate tied on.

She looked down at the Uchiha with a smirk identical to Naruto's. "Good morning princess." Naruto and Sakura both snickered.

Groaning as he sits up rubbing his eyes. "Who are you?" Sasuke grumbles.

Kushina puts her hands on her hips as she keeps her smirk; "Name is Kushina Uzumaki. You know my son dattebane!"

Sasuke's eyes nearly popped out of his eyes, Naruto's mom is alive?! Looking over at the said blond he nods fast as he smiles.

"Kaa-chan is back and she is gonna stay this time!"

It takes a few seconds for Sasuke to properly register that. "Wait. How is she alive?"

"Long story" Drawled Kushina. "It involved a kinjutsu, a bijuu, lots of fire and destruction. Wasn't very nice really"

Sasuke only stared. He couldn't stop the mix of emotions from making his stomach twist. Surprise was obvious. Then there was the jealousy. That Naruto's mother had returned that he had now family to fall back into. While the only thing he had was that soul crushing empty clan home to where he would return every day.

Yet strangely a part of him felt… relieved, happy even, that Naruto had someone to be there for him.

"Hard to believe you grew up so fast. You were a little thing when I saw you with Mi-chan in her arms."

The Uchiha blinked as the three left.

She knew my mother?

"Now kids. I'd love to stay all day here. Believe me I do. But there is someone I need to see right now before the part of the exam begins" She placed a long wet kiss on Naruto's cheek. Who blushed in embarrassment and whined a 'Moooom', much to the amusement of his teammates. "I'll be back soon"

XxX ~ Memorial Stone ~ XxX

The flag atop the Memorial Stop flapped gently with the wind. The kunai-esque shaped monument didn't show any kind of wear by the passing of time and the elements. Konoha's shinobi made sure to keep the stone in pristine condition. Of always remembering the names of those who had fallen in service to their beloved village.

One such man, a certain silver-haired Cyclops made sure to stop by every day, and remember those who had been dear to him. Not a single day passed in which he did not remember their faces, their smiles, their expressions as life left them.

Not a single day in which he didn't blame himself for what happened.

Death was a common occurrence in this kind of life. To put blame on someone or something was pointless. Yet Kakashi Hatake never stopped blaming himself. The scenarios replayed into his mind constantly like a nightmare that never ended. Had he been faster, had been stronger, smarter… had he been a better teammate, they would still be alive.

Life was a cruel thing. For if it was truly fair, his would be the name written on the stone. And not the people's he loved. He had tried to move on, but he kept coming back to the monument, his mind kept returning to those horrible days where he lost everything.

"They told me I would find you here"

Kakashi felt his heart stop in that moment. That voice… he knew that voice very well. Turning around, very slowly, he saw one of the faces that haunted his dreams. Long flaming red hair. Violet eyes that had looked at him and his team with the same kindness they were giving him now.

"So, this is what you've been doing with your free time" There was no question. Only an observation. "Losing yourself in bad memories"

An illusion. It had to be. He checked his chakra, and that around in the area's, but felt no irregularities. A very good genjutsu then. Revealing his sharingan, Kakashi… saw a chakra he had not seen in a very long time. The same fierce energy balanced with warmth that seemed to protect the village just by being there.

It was her… it was really her.

That or he had finally gone mad.

The woman began walking towards him. "I know this hard to believe. But I heard what became of you… I returned for my son, for Naruto. But I can't ignore when someone dear to me is suffering like this"

His eyes began to tear up. His shaky hands twitched. She was standing before him and could not understand how it was possible… but he didn't care.

He hugged her with all his strength before she could say anything else. And for a moment, for the first time in long years, he felt the heavy weight, the guilt, the pain be lifted from his heart.

Some time had passed and both were seated at the sides of the engraved names. With Kushina explaining how she survived, and Kakashi telling her about his life after that horrible night.

"When I first saw Naruto I swore I would protect him. Every time he was shunned, every time someone threatened him, I was there, from the shadows making sure he was safe" His gaze fell to the ground. "Yet I every time I saw him, all I could see was the faces of those I've lost"

"Kakashi…"

"Everyone I hold dear always dies… Keeping my distance was better. For me and for him"

For a moment, there is only silence.

She looks at him with piercing eyes. "So this is what you do? Drown in guilt and devoid yourself of contact with other people because you believe them being close to you will lead to their deaths?"

Kakashi remains silent.

The Uzumaki woman sighs. "You can't keep going like this Kakashi. Obito, Rin and Minato wouldn't want to see you like this… I remember a young boy who swore to be a better person, to never fail his comrades and his friends. Tragedy may have struck you time and again… But you are still here Kakashi; while others would have crumbled you carried on and continued serving Konoha" She places a hand on his shoulder. "You just need to give yourself a chance, move one from all that guilt you carry and see what you truly have" She gives him a smile. "Besides, not everyone you know is gone… I'm here now am I not?"

Kakashi looks at her for a moment. A small smile forms beneath his mask. "Guess I still have to grow up a little"

Her smiles widens, showing all her teeth. "I think you may have started right there"

XxX ~ Prelims Arena ~ XxX

As team 7 took their place in the group of surviving Genin, Naruto noticed both Team Kumo and Kiri gravitated beside them. However the real uproar was the kunoichi standing beside the Sandaime. Asuma dropped his cigarette while Kurenai looked like her eyes would pop out of her head. Samui kept her cool but never felt this level of shock in her system seeing a living legend.

Zabuza was trying –very hard- not to bow to the woman like a deity. Baki, the Suna Jounin, was in awe and deeply terrified, this will bring trouble. Anko was pale and looking like a fish out of water as she pointed at Kushina. Ibiki kept his senses, but his glance never left with suspicion that this is really the legendary Red Death. Maito Gai was for once speechless, but bowed respectfully to perhaps the truly one of the most dangerous taijutsu master in Konoha.

Leaning beside the other Jounin; Orochimaru masked as the Otogakure Jounin looks in rare shock.

This is no genjutsu, and that chakra signature is hers, there is no mistaking it. Just how is this possible? The Uzumaki were full of magnificent Jutsu's, but to bring someone back from the dead completely? Only the Rinnegan could do that. And he knew for a fact that there was none in Konoha who possessed those powerful eyes.

His own research on Edo Tensei indicated that it was possible to fully bring someone back to life with that technique –Many more sacrifices would be required but that was hardly an inconvenience to him- And he doubted anyone in this village would have gone to such lengths to bring Kushina back.

Whatever the truth was, he'd have answers one way or another. So you truly returned to us once again. A dark smirk appeared as his licked his lips. And when I take your son, I shall take you as well Kushina-Chan. Your unique chakra always fascinated me along with the ability to create the chakra chains. Sweet Minato-Kun can't stop me now, this will be entertaining. He'd have to update his plans for what is to come.

"That's fucking Kushina Uzumaki," Karui whispered to her group.

Naruto smirked as he looked over to his Kumo friend; "Yep! My Kaa-Chan is alive! I got to meet her yesterday after she finally returned from an extended SS-Ranked mission." Least that is what Jiji wants people to know for now.

Haku and Chojuro blushed; Kouhei simply grunted hiding his absolute shock. Omoi dropped his lollipop out of his mouth while blushing while Yugito looked like she'd had swallowed a bug.

Team Gai was in awe, but Tenten smiled brightly with an unnoticeable tear coming down her eye as she looked at her best friend. Thank you gods! Thank you!

Neji stood in shock, but faintly gives a dark smirk. So this is the gods answer.

When Team 10 and Team 8 they two were shocked by the appearance of the redheaded woman standing proudly beside the Sandaime.

Hinata blushed wildly seeing the crimson haired beauty next their Kage while Shino lifts an eyebrow. Kiba, being a natural full blooded male –and unaware of the woman's name- gives a wolf's whistle. Sakura quickly held Naruto's hand from preventing him from maiming the idiot.

"Who do you think that woman is? She is so beautiful," Ino whispers to Shikamaru and Chouji.

"Don't know, but has to be important to be beside the Hokage," the Nara heir grunts.

Chouji simply ate his chips as he smiled seeing his graduation class survived. Ino sighed as she looked over and but soon smirked seeing Team 7 also here. But was confused by something.

Why are Kiri and Kumo so close by them? They do seem friendly with Team 7. Or wait… are they only talking to Naruto and Sakura! There are some juicy bits somewhere and I will find you~!

The Oto Genin was there and while looking haggard, they looked okay. But a blind man would be seeing the sharp glare being sent between Naruto and Dosu. Kin snarled seeing Haku and Karui look at evenly while Zaku was lewdly looking at Sakura –which was creeping her out-. Dosu clinched his fist as he and the blond Uzumaki stared.

We are far from done Naruto Uzumaki. I will find one way or another to break your neck. Orochimaru's orders be damned!

The Suna Genin Temari just lifted an eyebrow seeing the killer intent thrown between Oto and Kumo, Kiri, and that one Konoha Team.

"What's got them riled up?" she asks out loud.

Kankuro just shrugged; "Maybe they had a free for all in the forest and want to finish it. Who knows?"

If only he knew how right he was.

Gaara was quiet as he locked onto Naruto and Yugito. For moment time stopped at the three Jinchurriki kin stared each other down. But the Suna Jinchurriki widens his eyes when Naruto mouthed 'Kyuubi' and Yugito 'Nibi'.

They are like me. But I do not see the blood and hate. So they mask who they truly are I see. Yes mother the host of the Kyuubi will suffer dearly as will Nibi…

But the most shocked from the crowd was Kabuto as he looked in amazement of who is beside the Sandaime.

XxX ~ Hiruzen ~ XxX

Gazing at the crowd with Kushina beside him he felt a swell of pride seeing most Konoha surviving stage two. He was also happy to see the alliance form in the last stage is still going on since Kiri and Kumo were beside Team 7. And it was as he thought; Naruto's sealing away the Curse Mark did the trick.

"I welcome you all to the tower and congratulate you all on your survival within the forest of death. Be proud of your achievement and always know you carry the pride of your nation in this exam."

While some smirked other remained impassive as they stood at attention in front of the Hokage. "Now I will explain the true meaning behind these exams."

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

While some Genin were surprised by old Kage's words, a few Genin understood it. In order not to set loose open warfare the exams were to display the skills of the up in coming of the Shinobi ranks of each village.

This in turn will bring the approval from their respected Daimyo and send more missions to their Hidden Villages. Thus this brings more honor and prestige to their nation. While some accepted and felt pride in the fact, others looked with disdain.

It was the bitter feeling of being pawns of the aristocrats.

"Now we will begin with the prelims," Hiruzen declared.

"What about the third exam Hokage-sama?" Temari asks.

Stepping up in front the Sarutobi Kushina takes overs. "Due to the high level of surviving Genin we must weed it down to a least around dozen and not around thirty. My name is Kushina Uzumaki and will be proctor of the prelims and third stage of the Chunin exams."

The Konoha Genin teams were in shock. Was that woman related to Naruto? Ino could not get over how gorgeous the woman is while Shikamaru and Chouji gawked. Hinata's eyes almost popped from her sockets while Shino nearly lost his shades.

Sniffing the air Akamaru barks once at Kiba who only gawks when he also picks up the scent; that's the dobe's mother! Holy shit!

Kushina thought their reactions hilarious, thank the gods Hiruzen convinced her to be a proctor for the prelims.

XxX ~ Earlier that day ~ XxX

"You sure about this?" Says Kushina with uncertainty.

"I know this is very sudden" Replies the Hokage. "But sooner or later we'll need to officially confirm your return with the rest of the Council and our forces. And I doubt we'd be able to keep rumors from spreading meanwhile. So I've decided to take advantage of the situation. Let the rumors about one of our strongest ninja returning spread to other countries. The Red Death back in Konoha will make a few think twice before messing with our village"

XxX ~ at the present ~ XxX

The Uzumaki could see the wisdom in his words. They Chūnin Exams were on right now, and they were all about showing the village's strength to other nations.

"What are the prelims?" Temari asks.

"Seeing how the last two proctors went easy on you, we have way too many candidates for the third stage. So we're going to weed them down in one on one or special matches tournament," the Uzu woman explained.

"But some of us just got here," Ino whined.

"In real life there are no breaks. But before that is there anyone who wishes to leave now?"

"I do," Spoke up Kabuto and his other teammate.

"Kabuto-San," Hinata looked at him gently.

"Yeah the second stage of the exam wore me down than I look. And my body has not even recovered from some of the beat downs," the silver-haired Genin groaned.

Ibiki said their names and ordered them to leave but Kabuto was stopped by his sole teammate that is staying Yoro Akebo.

"What are planning Kabuto," Yoro whispered.

"Nothing at all. Enjoy the prelims Akebo," Kabuto whispers back.

Kabuto adjusted his glasses as never looked back with dark smile forming.

You are full of surprised Naruto-kun. And for Kushina Uzumaki to be here and alive… no matter, Orochimaru-sama will be seeing over everything so I am not needed. Beside best not let the old me out.

"If that is all then we shall begin," Kushina declared.

A wall moved near the ram seal statue on the wall as a screen appeared. Names soon ran randomly until they finally stopped. Sasuke's eyes narrowed.

Sasuke Uchiha vs Yoro Akebo