Number Two was in Konoha, enjoying the blue skies. He preferred the salty air of his beach, when he used to live on the volcanic island, but the clear blue skies and the lush green forest suited him just fine as well. He was dressed in his green robe with the inch-thick black rope belt. Sitting on top of the Firsts head, he had a clear view of Konoha, and the surrounding forest. However, in his mind things were no as tranquil. He was having a meeting with his superior, Number One.
You wanted me to keep tabs on him, and now you dont want to know what Ive found?
Very well, what did you find out?
Well, it appears that he could get in easily and kill her, but I fear we may lose control of the situation. The higher-ups seem to be on edge about something. There are more guards around than normal. In addition, the White Fangs son has also been hanging around the Vessel more and more, and the Vessel seems to be reforming bonds. My advice: Change the contracts. I dont think that he can handle it mentally. I know that the Konoha Hokage is the only one not under our sway, but I suggest we leave her be, for now. Also, about the Uchiha Contract, the Uchiha has been training with the Akatsuki defector, Orochimaru. With his Sharingan, Orochimaru would become quite the nuisance. It would probably take one of us, and the Vessel to take him out of the picture. However, I dont think that Orochimaru will be in the picture for much longer anyways. The Sharingan is not to be toyed with.
I would have to agree with you there. Even, I would toy not want to fight another of the Uchiha clan. Is there anything else I should know before we convene?
Yes; the Vessel seems to be getting very close to a local.
Yes, a Hyuuga. Not a strong Hyuuga, but a Hyuuga none the less. It also appears that the Vessel was in a battle with Number Six. But before I could get there, he incinerated his chakra coils, so there was nothing that I could get. But after talking with Number Five about when he was training the vessel, it seems that he can control up to three of his tails, after that, he loses all sense of awareness and becomes a rampaging monster.
Yes. I was already privy to this information. Number Six broke our laws, and he got his punishment. There is no room for error here.
Yes sir. One last thing before the meeting: Number Four died while fighting Deidara. From what I reconstructed from his latent chakra he only took off Deidaras right arm before getting himself killed by an explosion to the head. From the information, I should be able to put together a scroll on his strengths and weaknesses.
Good. Anything else?
Not at the moment.
Then Ill contact you in a few minutes.
Number Two was released from the jutsu. He spent the next few minutes collecting his thoughts before the meeting. He felt a familiar presence below him and to the right, down the street. He spotted the Jinchuuriki walking down the street in the company of the Hyuuga that he had apparently become fond of. Something had to be done soon, otherwise he might lose control of the vessel, and the entire time it took training him would have been wasted. He flared his chakra just enough just to make his presence known to the Vessel; not enough to attract those pesky Black Ops, but for someone who was familiar, it should have been easy for him to sense. The Vessel looked up with a somewhat surprised look. Number Two motioned for him to come up. Naruto shook his head silently and jerked his head toward his companion. Number Two pointed at her and held up two fingers, silently saying her too. Naruto shook his head vigorously silently pleading him not to involve her. Number Two sighed and held up his hands in a gesture of resignation, and then he held up two fingers again and tapped his wrist with one, then proceeded to tap his temple. Naruto nodded in understanding, and said something to his comrade. She blushed a little, and bowed, then ran away. Naruto promptly jumped up and joined Number Two on the rooftop.
Thank you. Was all he said, looked at where she had disappeared from view.
So do you return the feelings for her?
Naruto sighed, No, but I must keep up my appearances. Im going to have to buy my time with my assignment though. Shes dangerous.
That wont be a problem. Youre being taken off that contract.
What? Naruto looked at him in surprise.
Youre too close to her. Number One doesnt have the confidence in you that Number Five does.
Then whos going to take the contract?
Number Eight? Are you kidding me? Theres no way that he can defeat her all by himself.
That may be the case, but its his contract now, and it is neither yours nor my place to argue that. Check your book, your targets have changed.
Targets? Why not the Uchiha?
Thats not for you to ask. The less you know
the less I can reveal under torture. I know that law. Either way, Im going to see him. I just got- Naruto was cut off with a sign from Number Two.
I guess. I still dont understand why we have to go into my mind to do this.
Number two put a hand on Narutos back, making a seal with his left hand. One, because Im here, and two, because Number One likes being near Kyuubi. It makes him feel like he can take on the world.
From the way you speak of him, it sounds like he can.
I dont know. Ive only been in his presence once, but I could already tell that he knows what he is doing. His mind is the only one I have no desire to enter. But, I digress; on the topic of minds, its time to get stared.
Naruto only nodded as he was tugged from the real world into the depths of his mind.
Naruto waited in the damp hallway listening to the ominous drip-dripping that he had learned to hate. It represented everything that had bound him to this mission. If it werent for that damned fox he, he could be off somewhere, lying on a beach, watching Hinata swim in the ocean. Wait what? No! I cant let her get in the way. I must obey Number One; he said that you cannot get attached. I have to focus. I must convince Number One to let ME kill Sasuke. Otherwise Ill never get that voice out of my head. As if to punctuate his thought, a deep, rolling chuckled filled the room. Not yours! he yelled, Id give my left arm to get you out of my head.
Oh come on, what would you do; where would you be without me? Dead! If it were not for me, you would have been killed by that Haku brat, or by that pitiful Uchiha for that matter. And where would you be without my advice over the past few years? All I ask is for a little time in the outside world to kill a few people, and eat a few hearts. You know that your power hasnt caught up to the Uchiha. Release the seal, and I will trust my power completely to you.
Ha! Even if I could let you out, do you really think I would? Youd keep killing and killing until this entire planet would be dead.
He he, maybe you arent as stupid as you once were. Ok then how about a little time with your pretty little girlfriend?
She is NOT my girlfriend!
Funny, the way you think of her, it seems like she is.
Naruto ignored the voice until it finally gave up and left him alone, saying, Fine, and Ill even keep your little beach fantasy a secret from the mind-reader. By the way, thats quite the interesting crowd youre hanging around these days. Its nothing at all like the people you used to hang out with. The voice trailed off, Although, you ARE a little more unstable now then you used to be. Oh well, all the better for me. Sooner or later youre going to get very emotional. Then Ill take that time to strike.
At this point Number Two entered the room. Naruto crossed his arms and huffed, leaning against the wall, Where have you been?
Around. He said as the remaining 5 members of the Yoinokuchi buzzed into a circle.
Before anyone could say anything, the shortest member spoke up, Man, this place gives me the creeps, why do we have to hold them here? Naruto just chuckled to himself. And what are you laughing at?
If you think that this PLACE is creepy, then you have no idea where we are. Punctuating his comment, a gigantic set of claws reached out of the bars, clawing gouges into the floor.
What was THAT? replied the short figure as it recoiled. Naruto just chuckled again.
The spiky haired leader spoke, Now that we are all here, lets begin. Number Eight, what do you have to report?
The shorter figure off to Narutos right grumbled, Number Nine let him get away, but I succeeded in taking of his right arm at the elbow. However, since the Zombie Brothers are a part of his group, I would suspect that it will be reattached. On a better note, I think I may have found where my assigned Jinchuuriki is living. Its on an island to the south of the mainland. I will be leaving with Number Nine shortly to make contact.
The shortest figure spoke again, I still dont see why I have to go with you. They havent found me yet. When we fought Deidara, I know I didnt release any of its chakra.
The leader spoke, The only reason youre alive, is because you still have a part to play. Soon they will come for you, that is why you will not be going with Number Eight. You will be teaming up with Number Three from now on.
Number Two spoke up, Are you sure thats wise?
Number One silenced him with a wave of his hand, Nevertheless, Number Three, You will see to it that she does NOT get captured.
Narutos brows rose Unfortunately, that wont be possible. I have been given a mission, and for the sake of my cover, I must follow through with it. A shinobi came forwards with information of Orochimarus whereabouts, along with the Uchiha that I had been given a contract for. If I disappear now, it will raise suspicion, and Konoha will become a thorn in our sides. No doubt they would send very powerful shinobi after me.
Number One seemed to think for a minute, Very well then. Number Nine, You will meet with Number Three in the Village Hidden in the Leaves, under the pretence of a Mist Shinobi looking for asylum. Number Nine nodded and One continued, One last order of business; due to the recent deaths, we will be reordering. Number Five, you are now Number Four. Numbers Eight and Nine, you are now Five and Six. Number Two will be recruiting candidates for the future.
Yes. Number Two answered and then he was released from the Jutsu, buzzing out.
Thank you master. Said the large hooded figure of the newly named Number Five, and then he too, was released from the jutsu.
Then Number One addressed the two remaining figures. Number Six, remove your hood so Number Three will be able to know you. The figure nodded and pulled her hood back revealing a black-haired girl who couldnt have been any older than 19, with pale skin and two offset colored eyes; one of fire and one of ice. The mismatched eyes made Narutos brows furrow. Number Three, when you find the Uchiha, eliminate him. He mustnt be allowed to live. He said as Number Six buzzed out of sight as well, and Number One addressed him one final time, Number Three do NOT let my brother take her. It would be very bad if she was to be captured. So by any means necessary, DO NOT let my brother get his hands on her.
It shall be done. Naruto bowed. He was released from the jutsu, and opened his eyes to the darkening Konoha sky. Its getting late, and Im going to need my rest. Number Two took his hand off of Narutos back, and allowed him to jump off of the roof towards his apartment.
Naruto leapt from rooftop to rooftop wondering if he could actually kill his brother. No doubt he wasnt going to get much sleep tonight.
Kakashi sighed, I dont like this.
You know that, at his current level, especially with the Kyuubis chakra, that he is more than a match for you. You wont be able to calm him down, should he get out of control. When they return, you and Yamato will continue his training. I dont know where hes been, but I would have to assume, since the jutsu he learned were mostly water, that he was learning from someone very powerful in the Land of Waves.
I still think I should go with him. I feel that he thinks of me as almost an elder brother, if not a surrogate father.
Which is exactly the reason why I cant send you. Should you die, and some people arent coming back from this mission, I dont think Naruto could handle it. Someone has clearly grabbed Naruto and changed him. You must have noticed the difference.
Hm... Kakashi nodded. Unfortunately, I think youre right. He looked up at the third figure in the room. Tell me youll take care of him?
I will. Tsunade-sama, it is a good thing that you happened to give him your grandfathers necklace. It will help if I ever need to subdue him.
Let us hope that never happens.
Naruto stood at the gates once again. It had been a few days since he had gotten the mission, and he used the time to practice with his sword. He never had much use for it, but since the traitor had added that Sasuke had a sword, Naruto felt a little apprehensive about not practicing with it. Of course, slicing logs doesnt count for much; he would still have to ask Number Four to give him lessons.
He had read, from the report, that Sasuke had learned how to use a sword; a standard katana, although his capabilities were still unknown. Naruto felt confident that he could hold his own with his sword. He unsheathed it from his side and looked at it, balanced it in both hands, palms up. It wasnt like most shinobi blades. They tended to be straight, and simple. His came from the far north, well past Fire Country.
He had gotten a contract on a certain man. This man had been terrorizing his subjects enough for them to pool together to hire someone to get rid of him. When Naruto confronted the man, he was told how he actually hated the way he had treated his people, but he did it in order to attract powerful shinobi to best him in combat. Naruto really didnt care because he had a job to do, but the man offered him his sword if he could be defeated, as it had been his tradition with his forefathers.
To say the sword was beautiful was a sever understatement. The eight-inch long grip was a dark brown, inlaid with a gold striping spiraling from the pommel, to the thorn-looking spur that served as the guard. From the guard to the pommel, it curved slightly downward. There was a raised spur immediately in front of the grip that rose about an inch from the main body, and a similar spur a little over a hand span down the sword that poked downward, which allowed the user to grip that part to pull the sword out of the enemy. In front of that was the seventeen-inch-long blade. It was slightly recurved, giving the entire sword a slight S shape. The blade gleamed in the sun, its highly polished surface reflecting his image back to him. It was said to have been forged from the metal of a fallen star, hence its name, Hinotama. Along the blade there were kanji that said, I am Hinotama, divine judgment. He really didnt know what it meant, but he suspected that it was something religious from the people who forged it. Though he never really did like using the sword, he still decided it was for the best. Swords were ungainly, much like kunai. The only reason for him keeping the sword was because its previous owner fought and died with honor.
Naruto sheathed the sword. When sheathed it resembled a rose stem with two thorns. The gold striping from the pommel continued all the way to the tip of the casing, giving it an organic appearance. He tied the blade onto his left leg and sighed. This battle was going to decide his fate. Either way the battle went, he would go by the guidelines he had set for himself.
Naruto leaned back against the bench, looking around. He felt a presence behind him. It seemed calm, so he switched with a Kage Bunshin and snuck up behind the onlooker. He jumped onto the branch behind the onlooker. He was about to speak up when the sword clanked against his leg. He looked down real quick, and muted it with his hand. He looked up to see if the person had heard him; too late. His left arm was paralyzed and he tried to fling out both are to balance himself, but since his left didnt work, he toppled over backwards and out of the tree. He landed on the ground very ungracefully on his back with a thud. Ow was all he could manage.
Naruto-kun! the voice followed his out of the tree. Im sorry! I didnt mean to hurt you, you just startled me!
Im okay He winced, and sat up against the tree. He looked down at the sword on his leg, and muttered to himself. I gotta remember to tie that strap down.
Hinata gave him a quizzical look and followed his gaze down to the sword on his leg. Her eyes widened.
He saw this, and unsheathed it and held its grip towards her.
Oh no, I couldnt she said raising a hand to her chin and looked away. However, with a grunt from Naruto, she finally took hold of it and looked it over, taking in every centimeter, every kanji, before handing it back to him. As he sheathed it and buckled the last buckle, she said, Its beautiful.
Much like you… Naruto shook the thoughts out of his head. He wasnt an idiot. He knew what the blush meant. Look. I know the way you feel about me, but I cant return the feeling for you. He kept going before she could start crying. I have too much on my mind right now, and it wouldnt be fair for you. I wouldnt be able to give you the attention you deserve.
She looked away off to the side, unable to meet his gaze as she remembered the pictures from his book. As if reading her mind, he added, Im not going to kill her. I gave my word that I will protect everyone. Soon I will be powerful enough to keep my friends from dying. Then, maybe things can go back to the way they once were. She smiled remembering the Naruto she fell in love with, so carefree and innocent. But, he was innocent no more. Things are going to get very ugly soon, especially around me. So, for your own safety, Im going to have to ask you to stay away from me, and stay somewhere safe.
Suddenly, for the first time in longer than she could remember, she felt anger. No! I will not abandon you, my duty, and my friends to hide in some room waiting for news that you have died. I will be there where I belong; by your side. You
She stood up and pointed a finger at him, ...taught me to never give up, or to sit and watch the world go by. She suddenly composed herself and realized what she just did. You were the one who inspired me to get stronger, and to break free of those bonds that kept me submissive and complacent.
Naruto couldnt help but smile. He stood also, looking down at her. Fine, he said still smiling.
when I get back, lets do something together; as in a date.
Here eyes widened to the size of dinner plates. Oh my, Naruto-kun just asked me out. HE ASKED ME OUT!!! I mustnt faint! O-okay. She managed.
Naruto chuckled and looked around, sensing a few very large auras heading his direction.
A man walked up to him, followed by a strange black-haired kid, Sakura, Ino, Shikamaru, Choji, two ANBU members: a Cat and Bird, as well as Asuma and Genma. He was sure hed seen the older man with the helmet before, but he couldnt place his face; and the kid reminded him of Sasuke.
Good morning. The boy cocked his head and smiled. Naruto just stared back at him, arching an eyebrow. The boy seemed to check himself. Oh, did I use the wrong expression? In the book that I read, it said to smile when you meet someone.
Youve got to be kidding me. Naruto just looked at the older man, pointing at the boy silently asking Who is this kid?
This is Sai responded the older man, answering his silent question. He will be your new teammate, replacing Sasuke Sakura winced And I am Yamato, and I will be replacing Kakashi as you team leader.
What!?!? Sakura yelled. What happened to Kakashi-sensei? Why isnt he coming? Why are you just standing there Naruto? Dont you care about Kakashi-sensei?
Then why dont you say something?
dont you even know where were going?
No. Tsunade-sama said that Yamato-sama would explain when we leave.
Thats probably best. Naruto replied That way you wouldnt go blabbing to Ino about who you are going to bring back. Yamato arched an eyebrow, but Naruto ignored it and continued, Why do you think we have such high level ninja coming? Sakura shrugged, Sakura, were go to Rice Country. We are going to face Orochimaru, kill him, and bring back Sasuke. Yamatos other eyebrow joined the first. Sakura blanked out, the memories of Sasuke flashing in front of her eyes.
Lets get moving. Asuma said.
As they all headed out, Yamato waved Naruto off to one side. When they were out of earshot, he spoke, So, why didnt you tell her the dead or alive part?
Naruto thought for a second, Because she doesnt need to know that. It will just cause her to hate me even more than she does right now.
She doesnt hate you.
Okay then, why does she hate you?
Changing the subject, Naruto said, So, why you? Whats so special about you? Why not Kakashi-sensei?
The Hokage said that you wouldnt be able to take his death, should he die, so she decided to have him stay behind. Also, Im here to stop you if you lose control
What makes you think Im going to lose control?
Well, you havent seen Sasuke in a while, and I dont think youll like the answers that hes going to give you. Plus he might hurt Sakura, and I know you like her.
To tell you the truth, I dont like either. Naruto sighed She would get in the way when I went in for the kill. And I would probably ending up killing her and Sasuke at the same time. But dont worry, I wont completely obliterate his body. Ill leave you something to take back to your Hokage.
I dont belong in that village. If I do get out of control, I could obliterate that entire village in one shot.
Thats what Im here for. To stop you from doing that.
I dont care what you do, as long as Im not completely focused on you, you might get what you need done. I dont remember the last time I transformed. Apparently, I almost took off my senseis arm. He ended up with a scar on his right side, he held up his hands forming a circle the size of a dinner plate on his right shoulder. Luckily, he said the tail was so hot, it cauterized the wound.
Who is this sensei?
No one important. Cmon were falling behind.
Naruto, if you dont tell me everything, I wont be able to trust you. And if I cant trust you, I cant be your team leader.
Naruto shrugged. Either way suits me fine. Like I said earlier, I dont belong in this village. There no place in there for a monster like me. So I really couldnt care less if you trust me or not. The only thing that matters is that I can keep my friends from being hurt.
How can you do that if you are outside the village? You know youll be hunted down and found. Just as well, how will your friends ever live if you try to keep them bottled up inside of the village?
Hmph... Naruto huffed I eluded them for 4 years; I think I can do it again.
Yes, but dying is just another part of life. We must learn to accept it. Sure Jirayas death hit us all hard, but we rejoice in his memories. He would not have wanted us to mourn him for 4 years and then try to bottle up our feeling and smother our loved ones.
Just shut up! How the hell would you know? Naruto spat at him. Have you ever lost your grandfather, brother, and father before? Yamato just looked down. Heh, I thought so.
I still believe you need to let go. Youll never be able to enjoy life if you dont. Enjoy the time you have left with your friends. Dont live in fear of the future, live in the present.
...don't live in fear of the future, live in the present. The words echoed from Takashis training. Naruto sighed, Theyre getting too far ahead, lets hurry to catch up.
I believe that Ive pushed enough. Ill let him think on it a little more. Still, Im going to have to report this to Tsunade-sama. thought the ex-Anbu Black Ops member.
They hurried to catch up to the others as the entire troupe was heading off to meet for a final battle for some, and just the start for others.
Lord Orochimaru-sama, I have cured the princesss disease and she has been rendered catatonic. Should you wish, her body will be ready for transfer.
Orochimaru smiled cruelly to himself. Very good Kabuto, should Sasuke ever fail me, her body will have to do.
Her Kekkai Genkai may not be as easy to use as Sasuke-kuns, but it will prove useful in your quest to learn all the worlds jutsu. Sasuke may not be needed anymore Kabuto added. Because Sasuke-kun has been becoming a real pain in my ass lately.
Sasuke will always be needed; at least, his Sharingan will be. The capabilities of the Sharingan go for beyond that of the princesss Kekkei Genkai.
Yes My lord.
Send for Sasuke, it is time for his- ARG! Orochimaru coughed and clutched his left shoulder, falling off of his throne and breathing heavily.
Lord Orochimaru, Kabuto ran to his side. This is not good, it seem this body isnt as strong as the one before it. It seems to be failing at a quicker rate than the others. Youll need to perform the transfer soon.
Orochimaru grunted and got back up on his throne. Soon, the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki will come and fight Sasuke, and then I will make my move. He chuckled to himself, wincing, And to think I was going to let them live a little longer. Who knows maybe they will kill off another Akatsuki member or two.
Then Im sorry that I had to bring this up now, but it seems that Naruto-kun has been seen in the company of a man in green robes with a black rope belt.
No! That cant be. They were all killed! Orochimaru hissed.
It gets worse milord; Naruto-kun has been seen wearing this outfit as well.
This does not bode well for Sasuke-kun then. Perhaps I should help him in the upcoming battle.
I am afraid it gets worse than that. Naruto-kun was sighted leaving in the company of very powerful shinobi two days ago.
Not well indeed. It seems that we will require help for this one, Im afraid to say. The snake-man thought for a minute, then looked up at Kabuto who stood next to him and smiled evilly, causing the man to back away a few paces. Contact the Shadow Fox
again? But he hasnt even dealt with the Hokage.
She doesnt matter now. Our primary target has changed; it will be the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki. Inform him of this, and pay him what he wants.
Yes Lord Orochimaru.