Author's note: Wow, it seriously has been a long, long time since I updated. Online exams are a bitch, and on top of that, our college has the nerve to assign us projects just one month before the exams. I seriously am out of words to curse my college right now.
Mini rant aside, I've been distracted. Ideas have been floating in my head for several stories, and I'm just itching to write them down. The only reason I haven't is because if I do, I would want to then start on another. To those who are writers like me, maybe you can understand.
I've got a bit more to say, but I'll do it at the end of the chapter. For now, enjoy!
If Naruto had to describe his position right now, he would describe it as being remarkably similar to those cliché cowboy movies that Temari once had a liking for.
Standing on a bridge, facing down a notorious villain, with breeze blowing every now and then with the ominous creaking of the wood of the bridge. Naruto almost shivered in excitement. He knew the missions parameters, but the thrill of a damn good fight was calling to him.
The dumb look on Orochimaru was gone in a split second, replaced by one of barely restrained fury. Naruto was all too happy to gloat in his face.
"How's it hanging?"
Orochimaru's eyes narrowed to the point they really looked like slitted eyes of a reptile. "What did you do?"
Wow, Naruto had to give the guy props. He was so obsessed with snakes he almost perfectly managed to copy the way they hissed with a normal human tongue. Naruto gave a small shrug.
"Oh nothing, just whisked him away. We have a few questions we think he might know the answers to."
A cold smirk appeared on the Sannin's face. "Kabuto will not break."
"Then you clearly don't know Ibiki or Yamanaka Inoichi as well as you think."
Naruto spread his arms slightly away from his thighs, an expression of mock hurt aimed towards Orochimaru. "You know, I at least expected a nice greeting. You are the most polite of the Sannin. I'm actually disappointed."
Orochimaru just glared at the blonde. He was not anticipating that Kabuto would be captured so easily. Then again, almost anything was possible with Hiraishin no jutsu.
He knew how Kabuto worked for Danzo before he did for Sasori, and for Sasori before himself. He daresay Kabuto was the best spy in all of the elemental nations, for he was never once suspected of working for another party. To be honest, Orochimaru was plain curious when Kabuto told him he was supposed to meet Sasori at the bridge.
Of course, it wasn't as if Orochimaru was going to just sit and do nothing. Betraying Akatsuki hadn't gone well for him, and now those bastards were after him just as much they were after the jinchuriki, if not more. It wasn't as if this was an inconvenience. Akatsuki was never able to find out where his bases were. It was just plain annoying and a sting to his pride that he, one of the Sannin, had to resort to hiding. He would never admit to anyone but himself, but he was no match for Akatsuki's leader.
Which was why, he saw this as the perfect opportunity to kill his old partner and put a dent in the organization. Sasori's death meant the loss of a precious spy network for the Akatsuki, and it would make their work much harder to find anyone.
So he tagged along. He knew just how to beat his old partner, and he had been itching for a fight for quite a while now.
Therefore, it stood to reason as to why he was completely caught off guard. He wasn't expecting Namikaze to suddenly appear and teleport his spy away. The fact that Sasori had yet to do anything meant he wasn't Sasori at all.
"Why don't you drop the disguise? It's clear that you are working with Naruto-kun here. And call those rats out. They're not really hiding."
Naruto heard the wood falling apart behind him, and a flicker of surprise passed through Orochimaru's eyes. Yamato came to stand beside him, his left arm giving a signal to Sakura and Haruto. The two jumped out of their hiding places and landed behind the two jonin.
Orochimaru smirked as his gaze landed upon Haruto. "Oh? I don't know there was another redheaded Uzumaki alive. My congratulations to you for finding a member of your long lost clan, Naruto-kun," he said with a tip of his head, a knowing glint in his eyes.
Naruto had to give the guy credit. Orochimaru was the only person who could be this polite and condescending at the same time. Then his brain caught up to the words.
Another redheaded Uzumaki? Another? Does he know of another Uzumaki, or is he just talking about my kaa-san?
Deciding to put a pin on it for now, he stood straight. "Thanks, now if you'll excuse us, we'll be on our way."
Orochimaru's smirk widened. "Now, why are you in such a hurry? We have met after three long years, after all."
The air suddenly saturated with heavy killing intent. Everyone stiffened up, except for Orochimaru. He was still standing in that deceptively open stance.
Naruto weighed his options. On one hand, if his team grabbed onto him, he could whisk them away before Orochimaru closed the distance between them. But on the other hand, this was a good opportunity to try and get some info out of the Sannin.
Naruto kept his voice light. "Sure. What do you wanna talk about?"
That infuriating smirk remained on the snake's face. "Don't you want to inquire about the well-being of your former teammate?"
"Pretty sure he's doing just fine," Naruto returned.
"And how would you know that?"
Naruto smirked. "Now that is somewhat of a long answer. I really should get going now though."
"Why, I never thought you would be so afraid of me, Naruto-kun." And didn't he look just delighted when he said it.
Naruto took a step back. "It's not that I'm afraid. You just haven't given me anything that could make me stay here any longer."
Inside though, his brain would running at speeds that would put the Hiraishin to shame. This could be a really good opportunity to kill the guy. Orochimaru's demise would at least make Sasuke think a little about returning to Konoha. Plus, there was a possibility that if he pressed the Sannin hard enough, he would eventually go running back to his hole.
With a nice, pretty tracking seal on him.
Yamato whispered to him. "Naruto, we should move."
Orochimaru outright grinned. "Please don't listen to him, Naruto-kun. I'm extremely interested in finding out how my former teammate trained you in these three years."
The killing intent hadn't reduced at all. Naruto was sure that Haruto and Sakura were sweating by now. And he had a feeling as to what was going to happen in the next few moments. Orochimaru wasn't a guy who took "no" for an answer.
Naruto made a show of shuddering. "Thanks, but no thanks. Your interest in guys younger than you is extremely disturbing to me. And I'm already married."
As he was saying it, he made motions with his left hand so the others could see.
The Sannin's eye twitched a little, but the grin remained. "Looks like I'll have to persuade you."
He lauded the reaction of his teammates. They jumped back as soon as Orochimaru closed the distance between him and Naruto, a fist heading right at his face. But Naruto was faster, his left hand coming up in a perfect block. Orochimaru didn't falter at all, and brough up his knee in an attempt to knock the wind out of him.
Naruto used his right hand to slow the knee, as well as pushing himself off it and putting some distance between him and Orochimaru.
The Sannin made the mistake of flickering his eyes to the seal that now adorned his thigh. Naruto was already behind him, landing a wicked 540 kick to the side of the Sannin's head, sending him flying right from the side of the bridge and down. Naruto didn't waste time following him. The force behind that kick would have snapped the neck of most of the shinobi. But Jiraiya had told him that Orochimaru was one slippery bastard.
He was right. Orochimaru had just finished setting his neck in place when Naruto was upon him. Orochimaru blocked the kick, and they settled in a furious bout of taijutsu.
The Sannin looked gleeful even as he avoided the attacks more narrowly than he liked. "Excellent Naruto-kun! Your speed surprises me even now."
Naruto dropped low, then spun on his hand to land a kick on the side of the Sannin's knee. "The fact that you're surprised means you're slipping. Looks like someone hasn't been keeping up with their training."
The kick caused Orochimaru to dissolve into mud. Naruto narrowed his eyes, then spun around to catch a sword heading for his head. "Oh, I've been training just fine."
Orochimaru grinned as blood dripped from Naruto's hand from catching the Kusanagi. With the Kyuubi inside him, he won't die, but he would slow down just enough for Orochimaru to land a critical strike.
But the Sannin's eyes widened and he barely jumped back in time before "Naruto" exploded. The shockwave launched him back, and he flipped to land on his feet. The landing would have been perfect had Naruto not flashed right beside him and cut his arm off. Orochimaru let out a shout that was more of surprise than pain. Thankfully, it was his left arm. The Kusanagi was still clutched in his right.
Naruto gave no quarter. He let loose a couple of shuriken, and just for assurance, added something on top of that.
Kage shuriken no jutsu!
Five shuriken turned into fifty, and they peppered Orochimaru's body until he resembled one of those wooden targets Naruto used to practice on when he was particularly frustrated by something. The Sannin fell over onto his back, an expression of shock on his face. By all accounts, the man should be dead due to how deep the shuriken were buried, but Orochimaru once again proved him wrong.
Naruto began moving as soon as he saw the man's mouth moving, because the mouth of a corpse shouldn't be moving at all. Dog-boar-dog-bird:
Futon: Kaze no ken! (Wind style: Wind fist)
He began charging his right fist with wind chakra, waiting for just the right moment. In a disgusting way that completely ruined the possibility of him eating any food for the next few hours, Orochimaru climbed out of the mouth.
First came the hands, spreading the mouth impossibly wide. Then came the head, covered in fluids that Naruto really didn't care to know about. Just as enough of his body came out to be a sure target, Naruto punched forward with all his strength.
Orochimaru lifted his head up, a mocking grin on his face. "Just kidd-"
He wasn't allowed to finish his sentence, as highly compressed wind flew at him and right through him, creating a gaping hole in the middle of his body. His expression became amusingly identical to that of the corpse he just came out of.
Naruto smirked. "Spit out another body. I dare you."
Orochimaru scowled heavily, and proceeded to do just that. However this time, there were no theatrics as he practically jumped out of the mouth, missing the wind by a hair's breadth. Naruto whistled as he leaped away.
"You have got to be the most disgusting motherfucker I've had the displeasure of meeting."
Orochimaru just chuckled as he continued to swing the Kusanagi against Naruto, who parried it with wind chakra laced kunai. "You are more crass than that fool Jiraiya, and that's saying something."
Naruto moved in for a stab, and wasn't surprised when Orochimaru literally bent his body out of the way as if there were no bones inside him. "Oh yeah? How did three years with your favorite boy toy go for you? Did he give monosyllabic answers for everything?"
Up on the bridge, the remaining team was closely observing the battle. Sakura had wide eyes full of shock in them. She knew she really shouldn't be surprised that Naruto had gotten this good- he had taken care of Kakashi-sensei like it was nothing -but Orochimaru was a whole another level. To force Orochimaru of the Sannin into a corner not once, but twice…she didn't have any words to say.
"Damn, it's like that time when Naruto was up against Jiraiya-sama," Haruto whistled in appreciation.
Yamato couldn't quite hide his surprise at that. "Naruto pushed Jiraiya-sama in a fight?"
"And beat him," Haruto added nonchalantly.
He then glanced at Sakura, who was looking at him with her mouth open. He chuckled and gently pushed her chin up with his hand. "Close your mouth, Sakura. Flies aren't that tasty."
Turning to Yamato, he asked. "If Naruto manages to kill him, will it be good for us?"
Yamato's mind was working at a furious pace. If Naruto does manage to kill Orochimaru, it would be quite beneficial to Konoha. One less person to worry about who's concerned with destroying their village. But the mission was already complete, and he tried to see the situation from Naruto's standpoint. Naruto very well knew that the mission was complete, so why was he engaging the rogue Sannin? Trying to buy his team time to get to a safe distance? Or was there something else in his mind?
"We'll wait for Naruto. It looks like he has the situation handled. If it becomes to tough for him, then we'll step in," he decided at last.
Below them, the fight was escalating. Orochimaru had once again substituted with a mud clone, but Naruto was right beside the original in a flash step. Spinning on his heel, he grabbed the back of the Sannin's head and bashed him face first into the rocky wall. Orochimaru grunted in pain- his nose was broken, but before he could use body flicker to get away, a foot smashed into his chest and sent him tumbling through the air to the other side.
The Sannin flipped to his feet and glared at Naruto, who merely smirked in a self-satisfied manner. The blonde brat really had improved in the last few years, enough to give him a challenge.
Orochimaru resisted the urge to grin, despite the fact that he was the one getting pushed. It had been a long time since anyone except his former teammates and the Akatsuki leader could give him a worthy fight.
He closed the distance between them once more. "Yes," he hissed with glee, "show me what you can do."
Naruto narrowed his eyes. Orochimaru was enjoying their fight. Not that he couldn't take the same claim as well. A good fight always got his blood pumping. It was just that, he didn't know why the Sannin was fighting him. An obvious reason could be that he wanted to assess what he was capable of right now and then catalogue it later so he could teach Sasuke to counter his moves. But it wasn't as if Naruto had gone all out. He was still refraining from using the Rasengan and its variants.
He would stick to the regular Rasengan for now. And he really needed to get that damn sword out of Orochimaru's hands! His jonin vest had already received two cuts from it.
The sword came from above, and he used a move that Jiraiya had taught him. The move was particularly useful to disarm opponents of their weapons.
He curled his right hand into a fist, with the bend of his index finger protruding from it. He moved and jammed the finger onto the underside of Orochimaru's right wrist just as it was coming down, causing the Sannin let go of the sword with a surprised grunt. A well placed palm thrust sent him back skidding a few feet.
Naruto smirked as he held the sword from its handle. "You wanna see a magic trick? I have a sword in my hands," he waved it, "and now I have no sword."
Indeed, the sword vanished from his hands, almost as if he never had it in the first place.
Orochimaru snarled viciously; it had taken him a long time to acquire Kusanagi no tsurugi, and now this troublesome blonde had taken it right out of his hands. He hissed out, his patience dangerously thin by now. "Where is it?"
The blonde bastard had the nerve to put on a show of being confused. "What, your sword?"
Naruto put his hands up. "Whoa! Calm down man. I sent it to…..somewhere," he finished with a shit eating grin.
Above them, all three jumped when a sword suddenly appeared right in front of them. Sakura managed to stammer out, "T-That's Orochimaru's sword!"
Yamato picked it up, looking at it in part awe and part shock. "Kusanagi no tsurugi…it's one of the legendary blades of the world, even more than the seven blades of the mist!"
Haruto peered at the sword from his position. "What's so special about this sword?"
Yamato turned to him, a smirk on his face. "The blade is coated with a poison that has no counter. And it can extent beyond it's length, any length that the user wants."
"And Naruto took it from Orochimaru."
Yamato turned back to the fight with a smile. "Guess it's coming back with us to Konoha now."
Down below, Orochimaru snarled, his patience and rage snapping like an eruption from a volcano. He took a deep breath, but before he could bend down and unleash one of his deadliest techniques, Naruto was right in his face, so fast that he wasn't able to block in time.
The fist crashed into his nose, sending him flying back. He substituted with a rock that took the second hit. A small sense of confusion hit him in the haze of dizziness.
That wasn't the Hiraishin. How is he moving so fast without it?
But Naruto was right there, again. A kick literally to his ass sent him in the air. Naruto whipped out seven of his special kunai and threw six of them right at Orochimaru. Just as they were about to reach him, he flashed.
Hiraishin: Tengoku chumon! (Flying thunder god: Heaven sequence)
He flashed to the first one and slashed. He flashed to the second one and slashed. As Orochimaru went higher, Naruto flashed to the kunai closest to the Sannin and slashed. Six slashes later, he flashed right behind the Sannin and stabbed Orochimaru right in the back of his neck. The force behind the swing sent him crashing to the ground.
Naruto landed, keeping an eye out for another body coming out through the mouth. His kunai buried themselves into the ground behind him.
Gotta hand it to him. He really does shed skin like a snake.
Sure enough, Orochimaru leapt out of the corpse's mouth, an expression of rage on his face. Never in his life had he had to use his customized substitution jutsu so many times in a fight. His reserves were rapidly depleting, and judging by the aggravating smirk on the blonde's face, he knew it too.
Snakes came out of his sleeves and raced towards Naruto, who cut them down with clean, precise slashes. "Anko-sensei used to do the same until I figured out how to cut things with wind," Naruto revealed in a tone that said 'you are an idiot if you think this would work on me.'
But Orochimaru was smiling now, looking particularly pleased. It was almost as if the earlier anger at losing his sword was forgotten. "So Anko-chan trained you, did she? That would explain certain elements of your taijutsu, Naruto-kun. Tell me, how is she?"
Naruto smiled back, but it was all teeth. "She's just fine. You on the other hand, are not going to be."
Orochimaru grinned as well. "Won't I?"
He then bent down, and to Naruto's complete disgust and that of his team, puked out thousands of snakes that rapidly began closing the distance between them and Naruto.
Naruto was informed by Jiraiya that this was one of Orochimaru's signature jutsus, Mandara no jin.
Ten thousand snakes indeed, Naruto thought as he created a shadow clone. Both of them vanished in a flash step, appearing on Orochimaru's either sides. The snakes split, one half going for the clone and the other going for Naruto. Naruto's fingers flicked out a seal card from behind, and just as the snakes converged on him, he vanished once more.
The clone had flash stepped at the same time, going right into Orochimaru's space. Hands in a ram seal, he activated a paralysis barrier, freezing him and a portion of the snakes, along with Orochimaru. The Sannin grit his teeth as he tried to move, knowing one of the Naruto was still somewhere.
The original appeared back at his old spot, and palming the card, he slammed it on the ground. An array sprang forward from the card, forming a seal design until it stopped, circling Orochimaru and the clone. Naruto smirked and pulsed his chakra, activating it.
The seal patterns glowed orange, and Orochimaru realized too late what Naruto was intending on doing.
A spectacular explosion lit up the grounds, the pillar of fire going high up into the sky. That seal card was one of the ideas Naruto got from reading manga about an old guy who could use fire in a way no ninja could.
Haruto, Sakura and Yamato used their hands to shield themselves from the shockwave.
"What the hell is that?!" Sakura managed to scream out, loud enough to be heard.
"A sealing technique," Haruto answered just as loud, grinning stupidly. "He was inspired!"
Naruto, who had flashed away, observed the explosion with appreciation and pride. The Hellfire card was one of his favorites when it came to blowing things, namely a large number of enemies on a battlefield, up. If Orochimaru survived that, then it meant Naruto could finish things up here. There is no way that guy has enough chakra left to stay in the fight, not against an Uzumaki and definitely not against the Kyuubi jinchuriki.
Naruto would always win in a battle of attrition.
Naruto flashed to the kunai that were buried in the ground after his Hiraishin attack. Everything was on fire, but there was no sign of Orochimaru. Naruto kept glancing around, trying to find the elusive Sannin. There was no way Orochimaru would let Naruto think that he scared him off.
His neck buzzed, and he jumped back just in time, for Orochimaru suddenly burst from the ground in front of him, poised as if he was going to stab him just with his hand.
Naruto landed a good distance away. He grinned. "Nice job! You're the first one who survived my Hellfire card."
Orochimaru was panting as he gained his footing. It was extremely fortunate for him that he still had enough chakra to spit out one last body, otherwise he really would have been killed. Damn that clone, paralyzing him in place. He would have pulled off a substitution at the last moment if not for the barrier.
The clone had vanished the moment explosion took place, and he had taken the full brunt of the explosion for a full second before escaping.
Not only did he shed skin once more, but he also performed Moguragakure no jutsu without handseals. Not a big deal, but it took more chakra than it did with handseals, and he didn't like that.
He had good reason to stick to tai and kenjutsu against Naruto.
Damn him! At this rate I will certainly lose. He doesn't even look winded….damn Uzumaki genes. Damn Kyuubi! It's in my best interest if I retreat for now.
Before he could run away, Naruto was back and slashing at him with kunai. Orochimaru contorted his body into shapes not unlike a snake to evade the attacks. He was getting exhausted and not only that, but he was getting weaker.
This body won't last for long. I need to get Sasuke's as soon as I can.
He flipped back to put some distance and hopefully buy some time to mold chakra for a body flicker, but there was suddenly a three-pronged kunai mere inches from his chest, and Naruto was nowhere to be seen.
But Orochimaru knew just where the blonde was, and he was too slow. Again.
Something brutally slammed into his back, rotating at high speed, grinding his back painfully. Naruto grinned as he pushed the Rasengan further, throwing Orochimaru away due to the extreme amount of blunt force the jutsu had. The Sannin was sent flying a few dozen feet, finally coming to rest on the ground, motionless.
Orochimaru grit his teeth as his nerves were sent into a frenzy. That Rasengan had completely destroyed his spine, broken his ribcage and it was excruciating, even for his pain tolerance. Oh, and best not forget the kunai lodged into the center of his chest, sticking out of his back. He hated to admit it, but Naruto had won this fight. There was only one way to get out of here now, and it was tricky, but he was sure he could get the timing just right.
He could hear the footsteps closing in. Carefully, very carefully, he began to mold his chakra. It wouldn't take much time, but he needed to get his timing right for the second part.
Naruto crouched low. "It's time to say goodbye to this world, asshole," Naruto muttered as he raised his kunai, prepared to cut the bastard's head off. He wondered what Jiraiya and Tsunade would say when he told them of Orochimaru's demise.
Orochimaru chuckled. "Too late, Naruto-kun."
And then he was gone in a swirl of leaves.
Naruto blinked, then snorted, not at all surprised at what just happened. "For someone who hates Konoha, he sure does like our style."
He stood up, just as the others landed behind him. "Naruto?"
There was a hint of concern in Yamato's voice that Naruto waved away. "I'm fine."
"Orochimaru got away? In his condition?!"
Naruto scoffed as he began to collect his kunai. "He's a true snake, Sakura. I wouldn't be surprised if he just spit out another body after arriving where he meant to go."
Yamato stepped forward, a serious frown on his face. "We should get going, Naruto. We have finished our mission."
Naruto let out a sigh, looking over the destroyed grounds. "Actually, I had something else in mind." He turned around. "Care to hear it?"
"…What is it?" Yamato decided to hear it out.
"I forced Orochimaru to retreat, which means there's a 99% possibility that he's gone back to his base. What say we check it out?"
Yamato shook his head. "Tsunade-sama emphasized that this was only supposed to be reconnaissance mission, Naruto. We have what we need, and we should go back."
Naruto raised an eyebrow. He knew that ANBU followed strict rules, but this was a golden opportunity. "This is a golden opportunity to get an insight on Orochimaru's plans, both present and the future. Do you really wanna let it go? If you're worried about Kabuto, don't worry. He's not going anywhere."
Yamato pursed his lips in thought. As a former ANBU, he knew the importance of sticking to mission parameters. They were there for a reason, one of them being keeping the lives of the shinobi at minimal risk. He himself had led many missions, and he could count on one hand the number of missions in which he had to go beyond the mission parameters. Sometimes it ended well, and sometimes it didn't.
There had to be a solid motive for a team leader to extend the number of mission objectives. Yamato couldn't fault Naruto for following Orochimaru to his base. Naruto was right, the plans they could get their hands on could possibly keep Konoha leaps ahead of Orochimaru. But Yamato wasn't a novice. He had experience in reading between the lines. He also heard what Naruto didn't say.
There was a high possibility that they would find Uchiha Sasuke.
He looked around to his team. Haruto and Sakura- and himself -hadn't participated in the fight, so they weren't drained at all. Naruto on the other hand, had so much chakra from what he could sense with his limited capability, that he could still fire A-rank jutsu for hours before getting tired. And he wasn't injured.
His team was full of energy, and they had motive. The question was, is it the right thing to do at this time?
AN: I'm gonna leave ya'll hanging here. Even I'm at a crossroads, because I still haven't decided which path would this story take before reaching the war. Kabuto's capture changes everything, and I need time to decide. Exams are coming up, and I'll be focusing on them.
How do you want the next chapter to go? Do you guys want this team to infiltrate the base, or go back? Leave your answer in the reviews!