AN: Here's the next chapter. Nothing to say really. I'm just glad I was able to find the time to get this all typed out.

Let's get this started.


The Belly of the Beast

Naruto arrived in the Hokage's office with his parents. Immediately his eyes fell upon the people waiting for them there. The Sandaime, Kakashi, Shikaku, and a red headed woman he didn't recognize. She had sharp eyes and a scowl on her face. She glared at him the moment they appeared. He glared back. Naruto didn't know what he'd done to her exactly, but he wasn't in the mood to take any crap from anyone.

"This your fuckin' vag gremlin?" asked the woman. Naruto couldn't manage to keep the glare on his face. His surprise was too strong.

"Do not call my son that… that," sighed Kushina, "will you ever clean up your language, Tayuya?"

"When I guzzle a Kunai," Tayuya scoffed before she shut her mouth with a click and brought a hand to her chin, stroking it. "Actually, not even fucking then. No." Naruto was close enough to his mother that he could hear her slow, deep breaths.

"Right… Naruto, this is Tayuya. She was one of Orochimaru's sound four, but she is also an Uzumaki. When I gave her the option of being free of Orochimaru or remaining in his services until a sticky end, well, she made the right decision. Tayuya, this is my son, Naruto."

"Sup, fucker." Tayuya said, raising a hand in greeting.

"Tayuya." Growled Kushina. The younger Uzumaki woman brought her other hand up to join her first in surrender.

"Uh… nice to meet you? Tayuya… nee?" Naruto replied, still trying to grasp exactly what kind of person he was talking to. He wasn't adverse to curse words. No, he used them often enough himself. But he'd never met anyone curse as much as she did and he'd only known her for a few moments.

"Before Tayuya can further anger Kushina, are we all here?" asked Shikaku.

"Yes," Minato replied, "let's just go over the plan quickly for Naruto and Tayuya's sake and we can be on our way."

Shikaku nodded and spoke. "Right. As most of you are aware, Naruto did battle with Orochimaru in the Forest of Death and lived. In the process, he managed to tag Orochimaru with his Hifuushin seal. This is an opportunity we won't let pass us by. Minato will help guide Naruto into successfully transporting Kakashi, Kushina, Tayuya, Minato, and himself to Orochimaru's location. It is likely that Naruto will either be very weak or unconscious by then.

"So everyone's roles are quite simple. Kakashi and Tayuya will protect Naruto after the Hifuushin while Minato and Kushina do battle against Orochimaru and whatever forces he may have. Should Orochimaru attempt to flee, Tayuya will make sure we don't lose track of him due to her knowledge of his base. Should Minato find an opportunity to tag him with his own seal, that won't be necessary. But there are no guarantees here. So plan for the worst case scenario."

"I will remain here and coordinate our continued efforts to find where Danzo took our missing villagers," said the Sandaime, scowling.

"And I will remain to assist him," Shikaku added. None of them made any sort of comment on the plan, positive or negative.

"Seems we're ready to go then." Said Minato. "Gather around and make sure you're all in physical contact." They did as he said, Tayuya being the most clueless. Kushina made sure to keep a hand on her shoulder.

"Ready, Naruto?" Kushina asked. Her son shrugged.

"Ready as I'll ever be." Naruto closed his eyes and a few moments later they vanished in a flash of white.


Orochimaru took a long, deep breath. His lips stretched into a wide, curling, smile that didn't quite fit Sakon's face. He felt at his stomach, abundantly pleased to find unpunctured skin. He had assumed he would be unharmed upon changing bodies, but he had not been sure. He'd never quite experienced anything like what Hijiri had done to him.

He was exceedingly pleased to know whatever that woman had done did not persist through his transfer. His lips twitched at the mere thought of the word. He chuckled lowly, but soon it turned into a full-blown laugh. Orochimaru felt wonderful.

"Ah… this feeling. How I relish it." Truly, Orochimaru did not think there was any single feeling more euphoric than taking possession of someone else's body to extend his own life. They always writhed delightfully within his stomach before their struggle came to a slow, slow end. He loved every moment of it. the feel of their body, mind, and soul giving the reins over to him.

It made his skin tingle. It truly was a shame he could only enjoy this bliss every three years. Briefly, he wondered if he would be able to use the knowledge of Naruto's body to perfect this technique and shorten the time. Eventually, much to his sadness, the tingling stopped and Orochimaru rose his hand. He turned it over, once, twice, thrice. For the most part he felt fit, but he was annoyed that he would not have the time to properly tailor this body to his needs. Not yet, anyway.

Orochimaru knew he would have to leave soon. Konoha would eventually make a sweep of the entire land of fire. They would find this base. It was only a matter of time and a loss he'd accepted the moment he returned. He did not believe they would be here soon, but he didn't wish to take any chances. Not anymore.

He didn't have any agents left, but he didn't care. He may have lost some significant pawns in the land of fire, but he still had numbers under his control elsewhere. The only true downside to having lost so many today was the fact that he no longer had a way to keep tabs on his potential threats. Minato could be anywhere, as could Hijiri. Orochimaru honestly did not know which one worried him more. He needed to be careful with his next move.

With a hum, Orochimaru slipped his hands into the sleeves of his yukata and strolled toward the door. He caught a flash of white in his peripheral vision. It seemed particularly bright in the dimly lit room. Reflexes honed from years of battle, Orochimaru ducked just as a blade scythed through the air where his head once was. Continuing to follow the pull of his reflexes and his gut, Orochimaru jumped away.

Dust and bits of stone exploded into the air as a horrible cacophony of deafening grinding assaulted his ears. The ground where he once stood was little more than a crater of jagged, furrowed stone. He landed a few feet away from his opponents and allowed his momentum to carry him back a few more steps. Orochimaru narrowed his eyes and scowled.

Across from him stood Minato, his wife, his student, an exhausted looking Naruto, and—to his mild surprise—Tayuya. He had speculated on her fate for some days. For a time, he'd wondered if they'd killed her, but he'd dismissed such thoughts quickly. He knew who he was dealing with. Kushina wouldn't have needed to harm the girl at all.

"Well, well. The fourth hokage in the flesh. Might I ask how you came to find me?" Orochimaru asked. His eyes slid to Tayuya, but only for a moment. Brief as the thought was, he knew this was not her doing. If she'd been the one to lead them, they wouldn't have been able to sneak up on him like this. His eyes landed on Naruto. Orochimaru remembered that exhaustion on the boy's face. he remembered the flash of white too.

Orochimaru pulled his hands out of his sleeves. "To think Naruto would be capable of reaching me even here… that seal must not ever vanish, either. For it to survive through a body transfer… truly fascinating." Neither Kushina nor Minato confirmed nor denied his observations. Orochimaru didn't need them to, however. He knew he was correct.

He needed a plan. Orochimaru's next thoughts came quickly. He knew Naruto would not be able to use his technique again. Running now would do him no good either. Kushina and Minato were faster than him and Tayuya would ensure they knew his escape routes regardless. Her death was a priority before he could escape. Naruto's as well. He was no threat currently, but Orochimaru couldn't allow someone with unchecked access to his person to live.

"I am surprised to see you here, Tayuya."

"Thought mama bitch offed me?" Tayuya replied. He couldn't help but smile as he heard her voice tremble just so. She's afraid. Good. Orochimaru watched Kushina's eye twitch ever so slightly. He was not surprised. Tayuya simply had a way with people.

"No. I just did not think you foolish enough to come looking for your own death." Orochimaru replied. Tayuya flinched. His smile widened.

"Do not talk to her, snake." Spat Kushina. Orochimaru favored her with his full attention and his muscles tensed as he eyed the sword hanging almost limply at her side.

"It's just a friendly conversation between myself and an old employee, Kushina. You needn't be so uptight."

"You've hunted my son twice. You've hurt my boy. You've hurt Karin. You've been hurting Tayuya for years. That all ends now. They're the only members of the Uzumaki family I have left. You are going to die for what you've done." Kushina growled. Orochimaru chuckled.

"We'll see, Kushina."

The next moment was a blur. Orochimaru darted forward, his eyes set on Tayuya. Kushina was faster. Orochimaru was forced to halt his forward momentum and jump to the side in order to dodge her swing. Before he could regain his footing Kushina was just there; in front of him in a blink. The hilt of her sword was nearing his face. Orochimaru tilted his head to the left as his mouth opened.

From within his jaws a snake darted out and opened its own maw wide. The sword of Kusanagi slid forward from the depths of its throat, blade first. Kushina's sharp gaze never strayed from his own eyes as she dodged his attack, her sword arm shifting to allow the hilt of her blade to crack against the side of his head. Seventeen blows crashed into him as if at once. Orochimaru's body flew. With a grunt he slammed into the wall on the far left of the room, his sword clattering to the ground next to him.

He jumped to his feet and avoided another slash as he gripped the hilt of Kusanagi and hefted it up, trying to use its blade to parry and cut through Kushina's. Eighty slashes in the time it took him to take two steps to the side and not once did she strike anything but the flat of his blade. He had to admit, Kushina was a frightening swordswoman. Lifting his left arm, snakes leapt from the darkness of his sleeve. Kushina leapt back as he cut his snakes down and Orochimaru put a bit more distance between them.

His eyes briefly flicked toward Minato, but the man had not moved. Was he supposed to be extra protection for his son? No, Orochimaru didn't think that was the case. Kakashi and Tayuya would be enough to stall him. Not that he was going for Naruto right this moment anyway. His eyes settled on Kushina again as he inhaled.

Orochimaru's exhale brought four fireballs with it. they scorched the stone as they flew towards Kushina. She did not even blink as she made a single hand sign and produced a dragon of water from her sword. It devoured the fireballs, filling the room with a thick cloud of steam. Orochimaru took his chance.

Vanishing into the cloud he moved for where he last saw Tayuya. He saw a silhouette in steam and lashed out. He wasn't entirely sure it was Tayuya, but he didn't care he supposed. Any death would increase his chances of escape. Kusanagi slid into his target with ease. Too much ease for his comfort. He tried to yank the blade away but found he couldn't. A vicious wind blew the steam away and Orochimaru laid his eyes on Tayuya.

His blade was lodged into her stomach and she was gripping the sword with her hands so he couldn't pull it away. Orochimaru narrowed his eyes. I should be slicing through her hands with ease. This is not Tayuya.

"Inton: Kusari Bunshin."

Orochimaru watched as the Tayuya before him vanished in a cloud of smoke, revealing itself to be a human-shaped mass of chains that was anchored to the floor. A few feet behind it stood Kushina and Tayuya. He sneered. The chains writhed and launched themselves at him. Orochimaru was impaled, only to be replaced by a slithering horde of snakes that hissed and launched themselves at Kushina. She stepped forward and the snakes were reduced to slivers of flesh.

"You might as well take this seriously, Orochimaru. You won't escape from here without managing to kill all of us, after all." Said Kushina, her eyes landing on a dark part of the chamber. He stepped out of the shadows with a grin.

"You may be right. Shame. I'd planned to let you live. For now." Orochimaru said. Kushina rose a delicate brow. She snorted. The two of them blurred into motion. Thunder clapped as Kushina's sword ground against Orochimaru's Kunai. The ground exploded beneath them as chains rose up like greet vines from the earth. Orochimaru slid through them all, and with a single hand sign a spike of earth lanced up. Kushina sliced through it.

They blurred away again; the clang of metal sounded before Kushina flew into the opposite wall with a grunt. Her sword clattered to the ground as Orochimaru approached. She leapt to her feet and the hand to hand battle began. Keeping track of Kushina's hands was like trying to see through a haze, his eyes barely able to keep up. Suddenly she dropped low and swept him off his feet only to twirl around him and thrust her open palms into the back of his head. She stood to her full height, following the upward motion and kneed him in his back. Orochimaru substituted with one of the chairs lying about in the room, but the moment he appeared his eyes widened as Minato was before him in a flash of yellow.

"Rasengan!" Orochimaru tried to move out of the way but found that his entire body was locked into place. The jutsu crashed home, burrowing into his stomach before launching him into the wall.

"How di—" his sentence was cut off by his own heaving. Red splattered the ground before him. With a wheeze he wiped at his mouth, leaving a red smear at his jaw.

"You must have been through quite a lot today, Orochimaru. Did you honestly think I wouldn't know my husband's own seal? I applied it to you. Along with a paralysis one. You should never allow an Uzumaki's bare hands to touch you, snake." Said Kushina as she retrieved her sword. Orochimaru chuckled. He should have known better indeed.

As Orochimaru got to his feet he wondered if maybe he should have prioritized getting rid of Kushina's hands. He supposed that's why she took his sword from him.

"You Uzumaki's are always such a nuisance." Said Orochimaru. Kushina felt her spine tingle.

"Kai!" the genjutsu he'd cast vanished. It had been something so small neither she nor Minato had noticed. And now they were too late. Orochimaru finished his last hand seal and slammed his hands to the stone below.

"Doton: Doryukatsu!" The room shook and then the ground split open beneath them. The room began to cave in. Tayuya and Naruto fell into the freshly created chasm immediately. Kakashi leapt up to the ceiling and Minato vanished in a flash of yellow in that exact moment. Orochimaru made a run for the door as he tried to close the ground up with them inside. Kushina gave chase.

Orochimaru was taking turns left and right. He knew these halls like the back of his hand. Kushina, however, was not one to scoff at. Her blade flashed over his head and Orochimaru was forced to drop into a roll to avoid the innumerable slashes he could feel with his senses, but not see with his eyes that followed.

Orochimaru came out of the roll, prepared to push back into a run only to catch a heavy fist to the face. As he fell to his back, he laid eyes on Minato, Tayuya, Naruto, and Kakashi.

"I had hoped you wouldn't be able to save them in time. Or be too injured to pursue me. A shame," grunted Orochimaru. And then he was in motion. Hand flat on the ground he summoned a snake that threw itself at Kushina's throat. He jumped to his feet and swung at Minato. Kushina dodged to the left before cutting the snake in two and Minato blocked the blow with his forearm and brought his knee up to Orochimaru's gut. The snake Sannin caught the blow and was just about to headbutt Minato when Kakashi yelled out.

"Kushina, Minato! Move!" Kushina hugged the wall and Minato flashed away. Before Orochimaru could move a Naginata slid through the back of his skull like butter. Everyone watched Orochimaru fall to the floor and bleed out, but Naruto? Naruto's eyes were trained dead ahead, locked onto the approaching form of Hijiri. She looked different. Her headband was struck through the symbol of Taki, probably by a kunai. The mark of a missing-nin; a traitor to her village. Her hair—which he'd always remembered in a high ponytail that reached the center of her back—now hung free, cascading down to just above her butt. Her clothes were concealed by a black cloak adorned with red clouds.

"Hello again, Naruto," Hijiri greeted as she neared. Each step she took echoed in Naruto's head like a ticking clock, counting down.

"You! You almost killed Fu!"

"My my, only almost? I suppose I've gotten rusty." Hijiri sighed and then a moment later she shrugged as she came upon Orochimaru's corpse and pulled her Naginata from it with a squelch. "I could finish the job, but I suppose it is better this way. Now I'll know where the Nanabi is for next time."

Hijiri's Naginata spun around her body at her command, blocking a strike from Kushina's blade. And then with deft hands Hijiri blocked every blow that followed it. Kushina grit her teeth and poured on more speed, only for Hijiri to continue blocking without even turning to her.

"Guh!" spittle flew from Kushina's mouth as Hijiri lowered her leg, never having turned. Kushina flew down the hall, Minato vanished in a flash of yellow and reappeared at Hijiri's left, Rasengan in hand. She took a step back. The attack slammed into the wall, reducing it to rubble and Hijiri kneed Minato in the gut. Naruto seethed.

Kyuubi!

Say no more, brat! Take my chakra and make! Her! Pay!

With a yell that tore at his throat, Naruto leapt at Hijiri as red chakra bubbled up around him, three tails bursting from it. He threw out an arm and though Hijiri dodged it with ease, another chakra appendage extended from the cloak of demonic energy around him. Hijiri blocked that with her Naginata and dropped to her knees to avoid another swipe from Kushina. Kushina clicked her tongue and grimaced as her follow up strikes only saw Hijiri replacing herself with Orochimaru's corpse.

Minato was on her the moment she reappeared. She blocked his first strike before grabbing hold of his other arm when he tried to follow up. Twirling around him she twisted it behind his back and spun around once more. Kushina's blade stopped at her husband's throat. Hijiri smirked.

"You! I'll never forgive you! We trusted you, Hijiri! Fu trusted you!" Naruto screamed. Minato moved a foot out to touch Kushina's leg and they flashed away as Kakashi and Tayuya ducked down a corridor on the side. Why? A malevolent ball of red chakra was hurdling down the hall, squeezed between the walls, no room between it and the large corridor that barely contained its might.

Hijiri did not move as it approached. And then, right as it was upon her, she rose a single hand. Naruto felt it before he really saw it. Wind rushed past his cheeks and ruffled his clothes. The crimson energy he'd expelled from his body as an attack lightened in color and lost its murkiness. He could see through it.

The energy exploded back towards him, carried by a repulsive wall of wind. He braced himself for impact but yelled out as his own attack carried him away only for him to be grabbed from the back of his neck and swung face first into the right hand wall.

"I did not come here to fight. Well, not to fight you, that is. No. Not today. I will be back for you, Naruto. Hopefully by then you'll actually be lethal enough to give me a proper challenge. See you then, little one."

"Let go of my son!" Kushina screeched, bring her sword down in a swift overhead slash. The multiple strikes tearing apart the ceiling itself and bringing the rubble down upon Hijiri with it. With one last smirk, Hijiri looked upon Kushina's incoming attack without a care in the world and allowed the blow to land.

She burst apart into a gust of cutting wind. Naruto yelled as his back was shredded faster than Kurama could heal and Kushina could only watch in horror as she blocked the blades that flew toward her.

The last thing Naruto heard was his mother screaming his name.


Orochimaru looked back in the direction of his hidden base near the outskirts of Konoha with a scowl. Next to him, Kabuto stopped walking.

"Orochimaru-sama?"

"Ukon's body is dead, Kabuto." Orochimaru replied. His bespectacled assistant hummed and adjusted his glasses.

"Well, it was to be expected. Even you could not do battle against the fourth Hokage and his wife without having had the time to properly strengthen your new body. Not to mention being restricted within the confines of our base. You could hardly go all out."

"Obviously… but that is not the issue here. They did not kill me. The woman who forced me to switch bodies in the first place did," Orochimaru hissed.

"She was there?" Kabuto asked. The two of them continued onward, picking up their pace.

"Yes. Though I do not know how she found me. It matters little, however. She will be convinced I am dead, and we can slip into the shadows until I have regained my strength."

"Yes, Orochimaru-sama."

The two of them moved from tree branch to tree branch, feeling confident that there would be a next time. Orochimaru was already planning out his next move and what base he'd need to stop at first to put his fledgling plans into motion.

Neither of them noticed Hijiri lounging against the trunk of a tree far beneath their feet. She stood up and stretched almost exaggeratedly. The bones in her back popped and she let a small moan of pleasure escape her throat in a hum. Hijiri grabbed her Naginata and followed after her prey leisurely.

It most likely won't take the Fourth Hokage long to discover that Orochimaru survived his encounter with them and my Kazegiri Bunshin thanks to the unique condition of his current host body, but by then I'll have already killed him and gotten what I wanted, Hijiri thought. She sighed. My time in Taki and Konoha did not end ideally… but I suppose I must do what I can with the hand I've been dealt. Besides… I have more than enough time to achieve my goals.

Hijiri came to a stop and turned her head one last time back in the direction of Konoha. A smile slid onto her face. "Until we meet again Fu, Naruto… don't let anyone else kill you before then." She giggled.


And that's the chapter.A lot happened here. I won't lie, this was difficult to write to some degree. I had writer's block at times and I can't say I was ever truly happy with the fight here. Regardless it is over. Orochimaru escapes because of Sakon and Ukon. Hijiri's got more objectives than just the Biju and shows that she is certainly no slouch on the battlefield. Not to say Minato and Kushina are weak, but I'd be lying if I said anyone was going all out in this chapter. Where they were forced to do battle simply wouldn't allow it.

On to other news, I've decided to go through with the discord. Below is the invite link. I'd still like to get reviews from everyone, but the discord is here for anyone wishing to just chat. Whether it be about the story or not. Thank you for reading and I hope you continue to do so dear readers. As stated above, leave a review, yeah? I'd love to hear from you all. See you next time!

discord dot gg/kSvA5vftJ9

Translations: —

Kusari Bunshin – Chain Clone

Doton: Doryukatsu – Earth Release: Earth Flow Divide

Kazegiri Bunshin – Wind Cutting Clone