KG: I think I've resigned myself to the fact that I might be writing Naruto fanfiction for the rest of my life. It sounds fun and terrifying at the same time.
Music of the Week: Olympus by Johannes Bornlof
Quote: "Everyone gets an ending. Whether or not it's happy is up to them." by Stephen Chbosky
Slowly, the daytime was replaced with the night. The citizens of Konoha slowly departed from the streets, those of the dutiful sun were replaced by the easygoing of the moon. Naruto returned back to the compound and spent most of his time in silence. For once, he just wanted to be alone, to tend to things in his own right. Still, Kyuubi had been insistent that he still train. The blond didn't even feel like putting up a fight to argue. He just agreed and next came Dan.
Surprisingly, this one was an easier merger than the one with Gari. Of course, it had its difficulties, but Naruto found a kindred spirit in Dan. How could he not? The man was the one who Tsunade told him wanted to become the Hokage. He was one of the many reasons that Tsunade took up the mantle of Godaime Hokage. Unfortunately, they were both susceptible to tragedy. Dan had lost his life in the war, bringing Tsunade into a very heavy trauma and depression that would last for many years.
It was rather ironic that because of Naruto, Tsunade had reignited her love for Konoha in taking the Hokage position. That love for her village then led her to banishing him which ruined his dream of ever becoming the Hokage. There was definitely some kind of poetic evil in it, but the two actually had a rather lengthy discussion on the subject. Of course, Naruto didn't like it, but he understood the position he'd forced Tsunade into. That he was even back in the village was a great show of trust by her.
It wasn't much for comfort, but Dan actually told him that only a Hokage-candidate could understand and conquer such a heavy pain for the village. "You would have made an amazing Hokage, Naruto-sama," Dan said and Naruto chuckled humorlessly. Would have… eh?
Until this problem stopped persisting, Naruto decided to stop working on the Death Sage Mode that the Shinigami had been teaching him. Luckily, ever since his revelation from the God of Death, he'd felt much calmer and much more assured of himself. Surely someone who caught the attention of the Shinigami had to be something special, except Naruto sure didn't know what that special was.
Instead, Naruto immersed himself in his sealing jutsu. He'd criticized Yuri for lacking in her studies, but he was the same way. He hadn't done much practice since then. Until tomorrow, when he could help the Cabinet get more Jashinists. As he studied, he kept Shizune and Ebisu near him. The two helped him in cleaning up the Uzumaki vault, cleaning up after any mess he might have made while also supplying him with ink, paper, and tools. As always, the two walked with great guilt on their faces. When the summoner of the Shinigami asked Dan why he wouldn't talk to his niece, the man merely sighed and shook his head.
"Naruto-sama, I think it would be best if you properly punish my niece and Ebisu-san," the former jonin said.
Confused, Naruto continued to do his work and spoke. "Huh? I am punishing them!" he said.
Dan chuckled and shook his head. "Naruto-sama, failure is the disease of an honest pride. Any man can work and still think less of himself. Proper growth comes with proper discipline. Of course, I'd love to talk with Shizune, but it's not what she needs. For their pride, let them feel the weight of their sin. Regardless of what you believe or how much you wish to dissuade them, in their minds they failed as shinobi of their village. Where is the pride for a shinobi that fails their home nation?" he asked.
Naruto remained silent as he saw the sheer dejection and shame on their faces. He narrowed his eyes and then stood to his feet. "Shizune-neechan, Ero-oji, come here. Right now," the blond ordered. The two perked up and quickly presented themselves to Naruto. They looked at him, not speaking a word. The look in his eyes told them that he wasn't pleased with either of them. They wondered what else he had for them.
"You both betrayed Konoha," the patriarch of the Uzumaki clan said, not sparing either of them the accusation. When Ebisu opened his mouth, a sharp glare from Naruto quickly silenced him. The two shivered beneath his gaze and he stood up.
"You both failed and allowed yourselves to become the pawns of the enemy. You took up your kunai and pointed them at your home which you both swore to protect with your last dying breath. When teachers at the academy speak of exemplary shinobi and those who sacrified much for this village, your names won't be among them. You'll be among those pitied, only having your worth be in a 'Good Job' at the end of the day to help you sleep. You're both not the best Konoha has to offer," he said, feeling the pain in his chest when he saw the tears on Shizune's face. The utter shame on Ebisu's visage nearly made the blond drop his stern expression, but he pressed on for them, because they needed him.
"In other words, you're both trash," Naruto said, which made them widen their eyes. Never would either know just how much it pained Naruto to say that. Yet, he pressed on.
"Kakashi-sensei once told me that those who don't follow the rules are scum and trash. If you're trash, then Konoha and I are worse than trash. I wasn't considering just how much you two were suffering and neither was Tsunade-baachan. Konoha abandoned you both when you needed her the most. It's my responsibility to make you not trash anymore. I will restore your pride," he said before he pointed to a wall.
"Stand there! Both of you will stand there with your arms raised in the air," he said.
Ebisu and Shizune looked at each other. They followed Naruto's orders and rested against the wall. Shizune held her arms in the air, her long sleeves falling to her shoulders. Ebisu did the same as well. Meanwhile, Naruto sped through a myriad of handsigns and touched their arms. Suddenly, the two groaned in pain as strange seals marked their skin. He then placed five large bricks in Ebisu's hand. He then placed six in Shizune's.
"Nee-chan, you get more because you were an aide to the Hokage, you were who Ebisu-san should have looked to for strength. You will bear the weight of that failure. Each stone will mark each failure you both made to the village. You will stay like that until I decide you may lower your arms. If your arms are lowered, then those seals will activate. Great pain will follow until you raise your arms again. I will send for someone to feed you and provide water for you both while you stay here. Now, I'm not heartless. If you both want to speak to pass the time, then have a go at it. However, don't think you're getting out of this anytime soon," he said as he went back to work.
As he sat down, thinking not only about his sealing jutsu but also what Shin told him, that the answer to his problem would come soon, he wondered if he was doing the right thing. Discreetly, he eyed Ebisu and Shizune. They held the bricks up without a word of complaint. He then turned back to his work before being greeted by Yuri.
"Nii-chan!" she exclaimed as she walked inside, her body raked with injuries and bruises. He smiled at her and answered her question when she took notice of Shizune and Ebisu. Confused though she was, she trusted her lover's judgment and left them alone. She took the time to embrace him while he asked her about her day. Into the night, she spoke to him as she decided to delve into her own training.
Dan smiled within the depths of Naruto's body and nodded. "A Hokage must make the hardest decisions, Naruto-sama. You've made one for their benefit, whether they know it or not," the man said to himself, continuing to have his soul strengthened while under the merger with his master.
Sakura yawned as the night ran late again. She couldn't tell why, but she'd been sleeping funny lately. Day or night, break or shift, she always felt like someone was watching her. It wasn't the patients. It wasn't her fellow coworkers. It wasn't even the visiting family members. It was like a creeping thing in the back of her neck ever since she'd logged into the computer about a day or two ago.
After she met with Tsunade and explained her predicament, the Hokage even agreed to upgrade her identification temporarily. However, the Godaime advised her to proceed with extreme caution. Sakura didn't know what to make of the warning, but she'd do better than disregard what her master told her.
Just so the feeling inside her could dissipate somewhat, she didn't even go to the computer yesterday. In fact, she hoped it was just her nerves messing with her when dealing with an unusual file. Plus, she was working on it in a hospital in the dead of night. Sakura didn't want to believe in ghosts, but knowing that Naruto was the summoner of the Shinigami, she… would have to reevaluate her stance on that subject.
"I'll need to get to that computer somehow. Maybe I'm just being silly. This is the last day I've got. Might as well take the chance," she thought to herself before she noticed that once again she was the last one in the hospital again.
The pink-haired girl inhaled and then exhaled. She pushed herself back from her desk, staring out into the dimly lit hallways. "Sasuke-kun, you owe me for this!" Sakura thought as she stood up and walked out her office. She fiddled with her ID card and stepped through the halls of the hospital, her heels clacking and reverbing away through the deep corridors.
Sakura found the computer lab and sat in the same chair. She came up to the computer and logged in. She entered the same database and found the same file. "Alright DL06789, you're gonna let me see what you've got this time!" Sakura said as she found the file and moved the mouse over it.
Instantly, Sakura shivered when she turned her head to the door. She saw nothing out there, but she undeniably felt the large burst of killing intent directed at her. Her eyes narrowed and she looked at any patches of darkness that she could, but again she found nothing.
Settled, yet cautious, Sakura turned back to the computer. She clicked on the file and she grinned when the folder opened. "Yes!" she exclaimed quietly before a list of all the bodies of those who used the coroner's table appeared in front of her.
Despite her excitement, Sakura continued to keep her wits about her. Her eyes speedily glanced back at the door. She made sure it was locked and she still didn't feel safe. She moved back to the computer and began clicking through numerous files. She pulled out Sasuke's piece of paper that he gave her and looked for any information in the last twenty years.
She looked through as fast as she could, all while she felt the nagging dread growing further and further within her. She couldn't explain it, but whatever was stalking her was in the room with her. She hadn't even heard the door open or close. She looked around the room, but nothing was there except the dim lights around the computer lab. She looked all around her, but as far as her senses were concerned, she was alone. Yet, she knew she wasn't! She could feel it! Something within her defied her senses and told her of the immense danger surrounding her.
She turned back to the computer, paranoid enough to grab a kunai and hold it beneath her desk. She looked through the patients of the table before she was finally rewarded with the image of the Jashinists she'd seen in the old newspaper article. Her eyes narrowed before she continued to look at the rest.
"Strange. Everyone who's used this table has been a Jashinist. Not to mention they've all been looked at by three of the same doctors. Method of capture is the same as well. All of them gave up without so much as a fight. Why would they do that? Wait, what's that?" Sakura thought to herself and she stared at the screen, still keeping in mind the feeling of being watched.
The apprentice to the Godaime stared at the past twenty corpses. Each of them had some type of tattoo-like marking on their bodies. Some had it on their faces, others had it on their stomachs. What was all of it for?
A hand appeared behind the former kunoichi of Team Seven. Her eyes quickly narrowed and she turned around in haste. "Think you can sneak up on me! Don't underestimate m-" Sakura widened her eyes when the hand covered her mouth. She widened her eyes when she saw Sasuke behind her. He placed a finger on his lips. He pulled her away from the computer after she logged out.
"You're in danger, Sakura. Follow my lead. We're leaving. You can't go home either. You'll stay with my mother and I. We've already moved your mom and dad to a secure location," the Uchiha said as he dragged her to the door. Sakura stammered as the young man opened the door. He glanced left and right.
The two sped out of the computer lab. "Wait, Sasuke-kun, what's going on? What happened to my parents?" Sakura asked.
The Uchiha sucked his teeth. "Quiet, Sakura! The dobe's mother is distracting the Jashinist right now. I've been following you from a distance all day. I thought you'd be safe, but then Kushina warned me you were in danger. We had to get here quickly," he said.
"But I still didn't get all of the…"
"It doesn't matter anymore. Just keep your head down!" the Uchiha said with a scowl on his face as they exited the hospital. The Uchiha quickly glanced left and right, staring out into the dark streets. The two quickly transformed into regular civilians. Sasuke dragged Sakura until they made it into a crowd of people.
Despite their transformation, neither Sasuke nor Sakura felt fully safe. He dragged her through an alleyway and into another section of the street. Both expertly weaved through the civilians that populated the streets. "Wait, Sasuke! We have to warn Tsunade-sama! She has to know!" she replied.
Sasuke scowled. "Someone's already alerting her to the issue. That's not your concern right now. Just keep your head down," he said as he suddenly brought her through another alleyway.
Sakura stiffened when he brought her into his arms. In any other circumstance, the young woman might be relishing this contact… even though her crush was taken. Old habits died hard. Either way, she shivered when she saw the crowd moving this way and that. Who were they? Who were the Jashinists? In this group of hundreds, someone could potentially be a psychotic murderer bent on nothing else but complete destruction of all life.
Sasuke and Sakura moved through Konoha quickly, yet stealthily until they finally came up to the Uchiha Compound. Sasuke pushed her inside and closed the door. "Sasuke, you're late for din… what's going on?" Yuna asked. She'd just gotten off her shift as she and Mikoto saw the heir of the Uchiha clan bringing in his former teammate.
"Yuna, I'll answer your questions later, I promise. However, right now, take Sakura into one of the lower rooms. Set her up with anything she needs," he said as the sister of Shisui quickly saw the urgency in her lover's eyes. She nodded and took Sakura from Sasuke.
"Follow me," she said.
"R-Right. Thank you, Yuna-san," Sakura answered. Yuna brought her through the halls while Mikoto stared at her son with great worry. She watched him check the blinds as Mikoto slowly stood to her feet.
"Sasuke, what's going on? Talk to me!" she urged as the Uchiha slowly took a breath once he was sure they weren't followed. The male Uchiha turned back to his mother and sat at the table.
"It's as Kushina thought it was. A Jashinist was in the Konoha Hospital. Kushina alerted me through one of the spirits appearing in front of me. She told me to quickly intercept while she changed into Sakura. I don't know where she is now, but I can only hope she lost the enemy without alerting him. Apparently, one of the doctors was stalking Sakura and he was ready to take her out if Kushina didn't draw him away. She probably made him think that the Sakura in the computer lab was a clone to do work. I've got no doubt that the spirits are alerting the dobe and he's going to send one of them to the Hokage. Turns out Yugao made the right call. We wouldn't have gotten this far without Naruto," Sasuke said.
Mikoto nodded with a smile before she quickly took in the story. "Hmmm, Tsunade's definitely not gonna raise the alarm. It'll just alert them that we're onto them. But what are we going to do? We can't just make Sakura disappear. That'll only make it even more suspicious," she said.
Sasuke leaned back in his chair and folded his arms. "Which is why I'm gonna ask for the Hokage to change her hours a little. It's standard to assume that she spends a lot of time in the hospital. Plus, she's a young woman who lives with her parents. I bet she gets into arguments with them sometimes which is why she'd leave her parents house for a little while. In order to minimize her stress, Tsunade will not have her working late. It's not the best story, but it's what I can come up with right now. I'm sure we can get more creative when we have more prisoners," he said.
Mikoto slowly nodded. "Then unfortunately, we'll have to use up two of the time stops from Naruto. If I recall, one portal uses two of those. We could leave them in Uzushio until this little… problem resolves itself. Are you sure Kushina will be alright?
Sasuke nodded before he stood up. "I'm sure we'll have a lot to talk about tomorrow. For now, we'll just have to count our saving grace that I got to Sakura in time," he said.
Mikoto leaned back and frowned. "Still, we have no idea how they're going to change things once they've realized that Sakura's escaped. Don't drop your vigilance, Sasuke. We'll need all of us to keep the village standing," she answered.
Her son quickly nodded and walked upstairs. "I'll head to the roof and scout the house. I'll make sure we weren't followed before heading to bed," he said.
Mikoto wanted to say something, but she wasn't able to before her son left. She watched him go and sighed. She shook her head, an unfamiliar feeling welling up in her chest. In order to distract herself from it, she'd go down the stairs and meet up with Yuna and Sakura. After that, she'd meet up with Yugao under the guise of some female companionship. It'd give them the time to discuss the next steps.
With that being her plan, Mikoto walked down to the lower rooms. She quickly found Yuna and Sakura hidden away. "You have a lot of stuff. Do you really need all of this?" Yuna asked with a frown while Sakura sighed.
"All of these are important, especially if I'm going to be living here and I'm being targeted. I can't wear your clothes," Sakura argued.
"Something wrong with my clothes?" Yuna asked with a glare while Sakura laughed.
"Well, you wear a lot of… dark colors," Sakura replied back while Yuna could already feel her annoyance rising. As much as she wouldn't wish for the death of a fellow Konoha kunoichi, she really hoped this wouldn't be a long assignment.
Mikoto chuckled and made her presence known. "Now, now. Let's not get to fighting already. It's only been a few minutes. Yuna, get Sakura's things later. You have to get up early in the morning, don't you? Get some sleep," Mikoto said while Yuna relaxed her shoulders.
"Understood, Mikoto-sama. I'll head to bed after I finish my mission's report," the lover of Uchiha Sasuke replied before she sent one more glare at her lover's former teammate. Yuna exited the room and her steps echoed away.
Sakura cleared her throat. "D-Did I come off as rude? I know I can be a bit hotheaded, but it's just stuff that's familiar to me. Knowing I was close to being killed by a Jashinist has my nerves a little fried," she said with a chuckle that didn't quite reach her face.
Mikoto stared at the young woman and closed the door. "Yes, you've been in a very tough situation, I can imagine. Sasuke's going to be making sure you two weren't followed. While he does that, I want you to tell me what drove you to such a reckless position. I hope you found something," she said.
Sakura stiffened when she felt Mikoto's sharp gaze. She always hoped she'd be calling her mother-in-law, but that dream seemed all but dead now. She definitely didn't imagine it going like this. "Well, Sasuke-kun wanted me to look into something suspicious on the reports in some old news articles targeting the Jashinists. As he's not…"
"I know that part. He told me about all that. Skip to this night. I'm sorry for being pushy, but I really need to know," Mikoto hurried.
"U-Um, right. Well, I managed to get into the file and I found something strange. All the people who have used that particular morgue table have all been Jashinists. From what I've seen of them, all of them had these weird symbols at some part of their bodies. I wasn't able to think about what they meant before Sasuke-kun grabbed me. However, I noticed that the bodies have been marked as disposed, but none of their records were signed off by the Head Doctor as terminated. It's a standard procedure to do this when dealing with the deceased, whether enemy or ally," she answered.
Mikoto frowned and thought about what she'd been told. However, Sakura continued on. "If you're wondering why I risked it then, it was because I felt I'd be letting Sasuke-kun down. He came to me for help and… I felt I was being watched. However, no matter how much I investigated nor the time of day, the feeling never went away. I thought I might just be uneasy from working so late. I admit I felt the killing intent, but I felt if I left then I'd never get anymore data. You may criticize me if you'd like, but I don't think my move was wrong."
Sakura tried to hold strong onto that statement, but her eyes darted away under Mikoto's intense gaze. "Hmph, I think I see why Naruto might have fancied her once upon a time. She certainly has Kushina's stubbornness and brashness," the black-haired woman thought to herself before she sighed.
"You wouldn't say that if you knew what was at stake here, but it's not for me to judge your decisions, Sakura-san. You'd just better hope you made the right ones. Don't misplace my son's trust in you. Now, did you write down or print any of the picture's of these symbols?" she asked.
Sakura sighed, shaking her head. "I wanted to, but Sasuke-kun grabbed me too fast. At this point, I wonder if I would have had the time to print them anyway. The killing intent kept getting stronger and it was getting hard to even look at the screen. I remembered my hands shaking as I held the kunai," she replied back.
Mikoto bit her lip. If something like that happened to a chunin-level kunoichi, then clearly whoever was in the hospital was a very powerful individual. At least maybe they could find the description of this person once Kushina grouped up with them tomorrow. "Is that all?" Mikoto asked.
"As far as I could get for today," Sakura answered.
Mikoto sighed tiredly and nodded. "Alright. Thank you for that, but I'd like you to make a report and give it to me in the morning. I'll make use of it tomorrow," she replied before she turned around and left.
Meanwhile, Sakura sighed as she heard her door close. Sometimes, she wondered if maybe she'd chosen the wrong career. She threw her legs on her bed and leaned her head on her pillow. With all of the excitement fading away, she quickly fell asleep.
Naruto bit his lip as he sat in the middle of the room while Ebisu, Shizune, and Yuri observed him. The latter turned to the other two. "Keep your arms up! Ni-chan didn't say you could drop them!" she exclaimed which caused the two to quickly resume their strenuous punishment. Once she saw that, she looked back at her lover. His mouth was moving in small ways, speaking as if relaying instructions. She tried to be as quiet as possible in order for him to focus.
Everything seemed to happen so fast after a half an hour of her and Naruto spending time together, practicing their sealing jutsu. Naruto was suddenly stunned into shock. He released the spirits in his blade and they shot off into the sky. Apparently, that Sakura girl was being attacked. Yuri hoped everything was alright.
Unknown to Yuri, everything wasn't as alright as she hoped. "Kaa-chan, turn to the right. Try to make no suspicious moves!" Naruto said as Kushina slowly nodded, turning herself down a corner under the guise of Sakura.
Naruto was surprised when Sasori and Deidara came alerting him to the situation. Kushina and Sasuke had already begun their plan when the two told Naruto that a Jashinist had been stalking Sakura for at least two days. He was prepared to kill her and the two Hinoken members were moving to intervene. Naruto quickly released the others in his blade to help. As they flew away, he connected his senses with all of them, seeing what they saw. By the time they got there, Kushina was already leading the Jashinist away and through a crowd of people.
The blond had Suiren possess his mother for a moment so that the three of them might share their thoughts. "Got it," she said as she tried to whistle a nonchalant tune. Even now, she knew the killing intent hadn't lessened, but it was much more concentrated so it wouldn't alert anyone else in the vicinity.
"Good, you're almost to the Hokage Mansion. Once you get there. He should stop his pursuit. You can then drop the transformation and disappear," he said as Kushina nodded.
Meanwhile, Naruto had his other spirits floating around the man following her. They took in every piece of his facial appearance while Naruto continued to instruct Kushina through the masses of people until she finally made it into the Hokage Mansion. Pakura, Dan, Gari, and Kimimmaro watched the man scowl before he slipped away into the darkness. However, they hadn't lost him, they continued to trail after him as Naruto released a sigh of relief.
"He's gone, Kaa-chan. Come home," Naruto said.
"Roger that. I'll see you soon," Kushina replied as Suiren released herself from the redhead's body and flew back to her master.
Meanwhile, Naruto eased himself and released his powers over the dead. With a groan, his white hair turned back to blond. Yuri noticed this and quickly helped him. "Nii-chan, what happened? Is everything alright?" she asked.
He looked at her with a smile while she wiped off some of the sweat from his face. "Y-Yeah, Kaa-chan's returning home. It seems like the enemy's backed off. I'm gonna have them tail him back to wherever he's going," he said before he turned to Yuri.
"Listen Yuri-chan, to be honest, I wasn't supposed to tell you about the Jashinist, but since you know, I need you to not draw attention to yourself. There are a lot of these guys in the village and we're working on cracking them down. Try and continue as you've always done. If you see anything suspicious then whisper it into the air. I'll have one of my precious summons go with you. Trust me, it's so severe that it's the only reason I'm in the village right now," he stressed as he whispered in her ear.
She shivered from his breath, but she quickly nodded. "You can trust me, Nii-chan. I know when to keep my head down. You just get those bastards before they do anymore damage," she said before she kissed him. Her lips were just as soft as ever while her hands caressed his cheek. When they separated, she smiled.
"I love you, Nii-chan. I can't wait to begin my own marriage with you as well," she said while Naruto widened his eyes.
"Is that a proposal?" he asked with a grin.
"No, that's your job. I'd punch you into next week if you had me propose to you! I'll wait for you as long as you need because you're the only one I'll give my heart to," she said while Naruto laughed. He nodded as he patted her shoulders before the two continued their training for a little while longer before they decided to call it a night.
When Kushina came home, she saw Naruto and Yuri waiting for her. She grabbed her shirt and pulled it over her head, leaving her in some mesh armor. "Kaa-chan, are you alright?" Naruto asked.
She sat in a chair and sighed. "I'm fine, surprisingly. Sasuke took Sakura back to the Uchiha Compound. She'll be staying there for the time being," she said as she placed a hand on her head.
"So what was Sakura-san investigating that she'd get attacked by a Jashinist?" Yuri asked.
Kushina raised an eyebrow before she glared at her son. The young redhead certainly wasn't supposed to know that information. All she got was the aversion of her son's eyes from her own. He made a pitiful performance of a whistle while Kushina pinched the bridge of her nose.
"Well, it's not like he can't get any more banished than he already is," she thought to herself before she shook her head.
"We'll be discussing that tomorrow. Right now, I'm very tired. All I want to do is go to bed," she confessed before Naruto called for her attention.
"Well, I've got some of the spirits following him even now. They've also got a complete visual image of him. Tomorrow, you and I could get a hold of him if he returns to the hospital. He also won't be able to hide. After tonight, he'll no doubt be contacting every member that he can. We'll break right into the heart of those bastards!" Naruto exclaimed.
"Your enthusiasm is infectious, Sochi. However, we have to remain cautious. Something tells me that's not going to work a second time. Plus, I felt the guy's hatred. He would make even a jonin tremble in fear. These people are powerful. We're also only attracting the obvious ones. Who knew how many were watching us move," she said.
"Well, it's not so bad right? If you get this high-ranking guy, then he most likely knows where the leader is. If you two catch the leader and kill him, then Nii-chan can just make him tell you where all the others are right?" Yuri asked, a little hopeful.
"...assuming the leader's in Konoha," Naruto responded when his two lovers looked at him. Ah, that was actually a good point much to the dismay of Yuri.
"Well, we're in this for the long haul dattane. We were prepared for the worst case scenario. Anyway, that's enough about this stuff. Let's all go to bed. Someone has to get ready to go to Iwagakure," Kushina said while Yuri grimaced.
Soon, the three Uzumaki made themselves ready for bed, exhausted from the day's events. As Kushina and Yuri went into the bathroom, Naruto summoned Suiren and Yahiko. The two stood next to his bed before they bowed before him. "Alright, go now. Anything you find along with the others will be useful," he said.
"By your will, Shikyō-sama," the two of them said before they flew through the ceiling and sped off. Meanwhile, Kushina and Yuri returned. The latter turned off the lights and they rested with Naruto, laying their heads on his chest.
Through the darkness of Konoha, a lone figure walked up to a door. He knocked on the door six twelve times, then another twelve, then six times. The door opened and he was led inside. When the figure stepped inside he saw that he was surrounded by a group of men and women, each sitting around a table smoking away while playing cards. He confidently walked over to the group and stood behind one of the figures. He grabbed a card and laid it on the table.
"It's hot today," one of them said.
"Take a nice long bath. It's best with a cup of red wine," the figure said.
"Last time I drank anything, I lost my fucking mind. If you're that hot, then take your own bath over there," another said before they pointed to a door.
"Your loss," he said as he walked towards the door.
When he opened the door, his wides widened with murderous glee when he spotted a lone man tied up and blindfolded. The figure knelt before the man and licked his lips. "Ah Jashin-sama, I give glory to thy name! May all life be returned to the slaughter in your name. May the Shinigami know true fear that his realm is only powerful by your hand. I praise you for this meal in which I am about to partake. If ever my penchant and lust for destruction hath wavered, may my body be disciplined by your saving madness. May I make a great kill!" He exclaimed.
"mmmmMMmmMMMNNnhphnH!" the captive screamed as the figure leaned forward and licked the captive's cheek.
"Yes, scream with me that we might pray to Jashin-sama!" he said before he took a kunai and stabbed the captive's chest. A shower of blood erupted over his body as his mind gave way to an almost euphoric bliss. His body shivered as he stabbed the body over and over, blood staining his hands.
Once his deed was done, the figure clasped his hands together. "I take you for this great kill, Jashin-sama. May my hands do your will and may my mind reflect your thoughts," he said as he opened the door.
When the man opened the door, he was no longer in a shop. Instead, he was deep underground surrounded by thousands of religious symbols and sect members loyal to the Cult of Jashin. He walked through the grand halls, passing by numerous members. The sounds of horrific screams eased his soul as his smile grew wider.
His journey suddenly took him into the High Priest's Chamber Room. In front of the door was a large symbol of Jashin, guarded by at least twenty of his fellow cultists. "In the river of blood we bathe. In the end of all, all shall be in the end," he said.
Two guards guarding the door stepped to the side and pushed open the door. The man stepped inside and he quickly bowed his head down so that his eyes would not meet the great man who regularly communed with the great god, Jashin.
"Welcome, young brother. Your sacrifice pleases Jashin-sama. Yet, your countenance is filled with great worry and concern. Rest assured that Jashin-sama senses your hesitance and your great desire for destruction. However, all shall be done in due time. Now, what concerns have you?" an elderly voice asked.
"My Lord, the Godaime's apprentice continues to investigate the computer lab. She continues to access the records pertaining to our secret over the past years that we've infiltrated the village. Had I allowed her to continue she would have discovered the corpses. I thought to kill her or at least capture her, sir. However, now I believe that the higher ups are becoming aware of our existence. I believe Haruno Sakura knew we were stalking her and laid a trap. She walked into the Hokage Mansion even though I saw her in the computer lab," he said.
The Jashinist then heard the elderly voice laugh. "Interesting. Your zeal for Jashin-sama's cause is worthy of note. However, it is possible that your desire for blood has remained unrestrained for too long. Perhaps she took notice, or perhaps she just merely used a jutsu to make her work easier. Who can tell with the formidable shinobi of Konoha. And what of Jashin-sama's brother?" the elderly voice asked.
"Yes, we continued to monitor the Uzumaki Clan. We've seen no evidence of his summoner. I believe that we can proceed as…"
Before the man could continue, his head was severed from his shoulders. A fountain of blood sprayed out over his corpse as he fell to the ground. "Then clearly you haven't been doing your job appropriately. It's quite clear that we've been discovered, especially since one of our agents has already been taken. Has he been dealt with?" the old man asked as someone appeared next to him.
"Hai, Lord High Priest. We've also been informed that they've compiled a list of over a hundred agents hidden in the village. Our informant is working well for us. Would you have us pull them out?" one of the followers asked while the elderly man clasped his hands together. He remained silent for a moment before his lips curved up into a smile.
"No, we shall continue as conveyed by our god. We were prepared to die for this to happen. Let them come into us even more. They cannot stop what is coming, no one can. The Great Slaughter shall take place and we shall see which follower has the greatest devotion to their god. We shall lead each other to our destiny. Shall we slaughter death itself or shall there be the death of slaughter? May we find out, and may we lead the world to ruin," he said while the follower fell on their knees and nodded.
However, unknown to the man, Dan, Pakura, Yahiko, Gari, Suiren, and Kimimaro watched the elderly man. The team of six narrowed their eyes as they stared at him. This turned out to be a problem. The Jashinists weren't in Konoha. In fact, aside from some extreme measures, they were deep in the land of Otogakure. It'd been quick but the three had seen the jutsu go off. Surprisingly, Kimimmaro recognized the technique and the origin of the sealing matrix hidden beneath the corpse of the man the Jashinist had killed.
The six flew as fast as they could and they'd arrived in Otogakure, the former village of Orochimaru. The Sannin had used the village as a cover before the assault on Konoha in collaboration with Sunagakure.
"But why would they be here?" Dan asked as he floated next to his fellow summons.
"There were many aspects to Orochimaru-sama that many never knew. Not even I was privy to every one of his secrets. It could possibly be Kabuto-san. Many speculated that he'd be Orochimaru-sama's successor," Kimimmaro answered.
"But was he not taken by Shinigami-sama?" Suiren asked as they left the old man, floating through the catacombs of the Jashinists lair to find anything more that they could use. More often than not, they received a glimpse at the numerous gruesome torture chambers the followers used to satiate their evil desires.
"I don't believe all of his soul has been taken. Naruto-sama took a good portion of it, but not enough that he'd fade away from the face of the earth. Who knows where the snake sannin has slithered off to, but we'll get back to Naruto-sama and report it when he… No, Yahiko, you report it. Naruto-sama hasn't merged with you yet, so you can feed him all the information we've gathered while we're here," Pakura said.
Yahiko nodded and quickly flew off through the ceiling while the others stopped. "Pakura, Kimimaro-kun, Gari-san, and I shall stay here. We'll need to give Naruto-sama as much information as possible. If we can find out how they're coordinating their efforts, then we'll become that much closer to destroying them, especially if they're on the inside," Suiren replied.
Pakura nodded and sighed. "Alright, fine. But we still need to merge with him. Since we don't need rest, we'll switch shifts for each day. After Yahiko, Kimimaro will merge with Naruto-sama. I'm not sure how much more powerful he'll become, but it's better than nothing if we can keep these other evil spirits from possessing him," she answered back.
Everyone else agreed and she left with Dan while the others stayed. They flew off through the halls of this Jashinist Temple, increasingly concerned and angered at the amount of souls being sent to the Shinigami by hand of the cruel cultists.
Next morning came almost too fast for the Uzumaki household. Shi had long since left in the middle of the night while Naruto, Yuri, and Kushina awoke. Guren, Yukimaru, and Risa had long since left. Fuka and Tayuya were resting in their own rooms while Komachi went about her own business.
When Naruto woke up, he quickly remembered last night. However, it didn't take long for him to feel a surge of power when Yahiko merged with him. "Good morning, Naruto-sama. I'm not gonna waste any time, and I'll begin transmitting to you what we learned. It's a lot," Yahiko said as Naruto nodded.
"Go for it," He said as he closed his eyes and completed the merger of his soul with Yahiko's. There was a rather personal, yet familiar presence with it, but that was quickly moved away when the blond saw all the memories of Yahiko from last night. His frown deepened as he continued to learn of the Jashinists and the old man that seemed to be leading them. However, what worried Naruto the most was that he decided not to pull out the Jashinists from the village. What did he mean they couldn't stop what was coming?
Naruto slipped out of bed and readied himself. By the time he got out of the shower, Kushina was already awake as was Yuri. The two saw him and the former narrowed her eyes. "Naruto?" she asked before he asked for silence. He inhaled and exhaled slowly to steady himself. This merger was a little difficult despite how familiar it seemed.
"Something happened?" Kushina asked.
Naruto scratched his silver-haired scalp. "Yeah. I'll tell you when we meet with everyone. It's not exactly something good," he said while Yuri walked over to him. She quickly kissed him and shook her head.
"I wish I could help, but something tells me you guys already have your hands full. Go take them out, Nii-chan!" Yuri said with a beaming smile as she caressed his cheek. Naruto stared at her lovingly, nodding his head with great conviction. The young female Uzumaki then left the room to go get ready for her day.
Meanwhile, Kushina rubbed her eyes. "How bad is this?" she asked, massaging her head.
"I wish I could tell you, Kaa-chan. I think we have a traitor in the cabinet," he said which made Kushina stiffen.
"...Naruto, you've never lied to me as far as I know. This is a cabinet of Tsunade's most trusted people. Are you sure?" she asked.
The Kyuubi Jinchuuriki nodded as Kushina pinched the bridge of her nose. "Fucking shit!" she cursed as she sat on the bed and put her head in her hands. This just turned into the worst possible situation. Aside from the Hokage herself, and any member of the Hinoken team, it could be either of the council members, Ibiki, Inoichi, or Shikaku. Naturally, Kushina didn't want to believe it'd be the latter three. She'd known Ibiki since he was a young boy. He didn't seem like a traitor.
…that only left the two council members, assuming the other three weren't it. While Kushina didn't like either of them, especially given their favor towards Danzo and the disunity they seemed to cause when Minato and Hiruzen had their tenure, neither seemed too much like a traitor. Fuck, this wasn't good.
"Alright. Umm… we'll keep this to ourselves until the meeting is over. Then, we'll inform Tsunade. To be honest, I'd rather not force our hand and make the group panic, but this isn't something we have the privilege of keeping from her. Before you say it, I know we're keeping Konan from her, but I've already been thinking of how to rectify that. We'll have to tell her eventually," she said as Naruto stood in front of her.
"Hey, I'll handle Baa-chan. The two of you have been at each other's throats lately and I've had a few days to calm down from the whole ordeal. Besides, what kind of man and husband would I be if I let my wife handle all the stress?" he said as he made her look at her. Kushina blushed and laughed.
"Since when did you start dipping your tongue in honey?" Kushina asked as she grazed his arm with her finger.
Naruto offered her a wide smile before she moved and got dressed as well. If this weren't such a desperate situation, he'd have admired his mother's beautiful form more. Unfortunately, she quickly wrapped her scarf around her neck, grabbed her sword, and the two were out of the door.
Pretty soon, they found themselves gathered around with the members of the Cabinet. Everyone gathered around the table. Kakashi seemed notably tired and a little concerned as did Yugao. Sasuke and Mikoto sat together, taking stock of the table. Kushina and Naruto stared at the group, concerned that there was a traitor at the tablet. However, true to form, they remained calm, giving nothing away.
Tsunade cleared her throat. "This is the second day. We're gathered here together. Does anyone have anything to say before we begin?" she asked.
Sasuke stood up and brought everyone's attention to him. "Sakura was attacked by a Jashinist last night," he said, bringing up the first piece of the news. Shikaku, Inoichi, and Ibiki remained outwardly neutral to the news, but inwardly were more than a little concerned. Tsunade clenched her fingers even though she'd been told about the incident.
"How did that happen?" Ibiki asked.
"I had Sakura looking into an anomaly I found in some old newspapers regarding the Jashinist Cult. Apparently, she was being stalked by one of the doctors. For her safety, I managed to get her out of the hospital while our captain diverted the enemy. I've set her up at my house for now," Sasuke said before Kushina stood up.
"I can take over from there. With Naruto's help, I was able to lose the stalker by masking my movements as Sakura's. The pursuit ended when I entered the Hokage Mansion," she answered next as Yugao raised her hand.
"I've secured Sakura-san's family. They're currently in a secure location. I believe it would be best if we move them to another location far from the village until they've been wiped out. We shouldn't run the risk of them trying to capture them to get to her. It would make us more vulnerable than we already are," Yugao exclaimed.
"All are aware of their responsibilities to the village when they put on their hitai-ate. If she would falter from this, then she doesn't deserve to be the apprentice to the Hokage," Homura said with a stern expression.
Though no one agreed nor disagreed with the statement, already used to the council's obstinate views. "Well, it's our job to not let it get to that in the first place. I agree with Yugao-san's advice," the Head Anbu said while the others listened.
Tsunade turned to Kakashi. "How is our insider?" she asked before Kakashi shook his head.
"He died. Pakkun confirmed the loss of his life since I had him mark the target's scent. The killer has also left the village, but Pakkun has tracked the scent to a building of sorts," Kakashi answered back.
Koharu was furious. "What?! Why would they murder one of their own and this quickly? It makes no sense!" she exclaimed as Inoichi took his turn to speak.
"We gathered a lot of information out of him. Perhaps it wasn't all we wanted, but it's possible that they somehow knew he'd been captured. Either that or they're just that insane. Perhaps that's how they've staved off their need to kill the villagers and from drawing attention to themselves. We don't have a lot of information when it comes to these cultists. Maybe they kill off the weakest," Inoichi said.
Shikaku shook his head. "Doubt they'd be such a prominent and organized organization if they're in the habit of killing the weak, recruits or otherwise. That said, we got some insight into their abilities from Hidan of the Akatsuki. If they did somehow discover that he was taken, then there are many scenarios we can consider. One of those scenarios could be that one of them could be in here," Shikaku said, which got everyone to stiffen.
Jiraiya leaned off the wall and chuckled. "Never took you as a mystery novelist, Shikaku. You're getting paranoid in your old age. You think one of us might be a Jashinist?" the sannin asked, his jovial voice hiding the stress forming within him.
Almost immediately, everyone began staring at each other. Naruto and Kushina briefly shared a glance before Shikaku cleared his throat. "It is a possible theory. We must explore all avenues. The target dies the day we release him into the group? It's a little too coincidental. That said, the last thing we should be doing is distrusting each other. That'll help no one," he said.
Ibiki leaned forward. "Well, the point still stands that we have no one on the inside of the Jashinist Cult. We know that there are many agents stationed inside the village and they're preparing for something called 'The Divine Reckoning.' We have no idea what this means, but it's been something that the cultists have been planning ever since their integration into the village. It's not something they've done lightly. I doubt this is the work of sheer fanaticism."
Mikoto placed a finger to her chin before she turned to Naruto. "Naruto, you and Kushina have been in Kami's Realm, at least to witness the council of the gods. Does that term mean anything to you?" she asked.
All eyes were on the blond as Naruto thought about the question for a moment or two. "No. To be honest, all they talked about was the unaccepted interferences of them in our world. At least, when I was there. There wasn't anything about this reckoning thing if I recall," he said as everyone sighed.
"Would Shinigami-sama know?" Inoichi asked.
"If he does, I doubt he'd tell us. As Naruto said, they're apparently interfering in our lives enough. Who knows what they will and won't tell us. We'd do well not to get on the God of Death's side by rousing his anger," Jiraiya replied.
Naruto nearly chuckled. Bringing that up, he wasn't sure he'd ever seen the Shinigami grow angry. Even when the lives of his family members were in danger, he was still a calm god as always. The anger seemed to simmer beneath that calm face.
"Well, it's not all bad. It's been 24 hours, so Naruto-san and Kushina-san should be well-rested. We also still have the list of the ones that Naruto listed. It's a place to start. I believe we should get to work," the Head Anbu replied next while Tsunade nodded.
"Naruto, if you'd please," she said.
The patriarch of the Uzumaki Clan agreed and stood up. He walked over to a separate part of the room and began the same process as last time. The insanely hot chamber suddenly became cold. Jiraiya shivered when he saw the divine aura wrap around his former student.
Despite the fear of death looming on them all, Tsunade tried to bring everyone back to focus. "Sasuke, can you tell us anything about what Sakura found on the reports in the hospital?" she asked.
Sasuke sighed and leaned forward. "You'll be disappointed. Whatever she did find is most likely being erased right now, or has already been. She told me that every Jashinist who's died had some type of marking symbol on their body. She wanted to print out some of them, but she couldn't before I had to get her off the computer," he said as the others frowned.
"So cultists mark and defame their body with these devilish symbols. Such a practice is hardly new," Koharu replied, staring upon the other members of the Cabinet.
"So why isn't there a record of any Jashinist having these symbols in any other report over the last twenty years?" the Uchiha asked.
"What do you mean?" Shikaku asked.
Unfortunately, Sasuke couldn't finish his point because Naruto slowly opened his eyes. He stood to his feet and turned to his mother. He nodded and she did as well. Though no one could see them this time, one of the spirits of a recently killed victim had alerted him to one of the Jashinists.
"Kaa-chan, you head out first. I'll focus on finding the others on the list we gathered from yesterday," Naruto said in a firm tone.
Kushina rolled her shoulders and nodded. She glanced at Tsunade. The Godaime nodded in return and stood up. The two women quickly left while Naruto started to sit back down.
"Naruto, it had been beneath my notice before, but have you ever had any history with the male councilmember?" The Kyuubi asked as he glared at the table of members.
Mōryō, the Kindred, and Dan turned to the large white fox in bewilderment. The Kyuubi narrowed his eyes while Naruto tried to keep his concentration despite the question. "Hmm? That guy? I don't really recall. I know he gave Jiji a couple of headaches back when he was alive. I don't think he and that Koharu-lady have a good opinion of me though. To be honest, I sort of stopped counting how many people hated me that still do. I guess my actions from a few days aren't helping," he replied before he started talking with a few other spirits.
"Something you wanna share with us?" Wolf asked as he floated around the Kyuubi. However, the fox ignored him as he continued to look between the two council members. He closed his eyes.
"It's nothing," the Kyuubi replied before he remained silent.
Meanwhile, Tsunade and Kushina returned to the Hokage Mansion before the latter began speaking with the former. "A traitor in the cabinet? Kushina, you know what that means! You better not be saying this lightly," Tsunade said as the two continued to walk through the halls of the mansion.
"Just who do you really take me for, Tsunade? This was the only reason you even allowed my son back in Konoha. The spirits he set out confirmed that they already knew not only about our operation, but also about Kakashi's plan. The puppet he'd placed under a genjutsu had been killed last night, as has Sakura's killer. It'll expose us, but you should increase security in the village. Now that they know we're aware of them, they might do things to persuade us off the chase," she replied.
Tsunade bit her lip as they two walked up the stairs. "Did you find where they are based?" she asked.
Kushina sighed as they came outside. "They're based somewhere in Oto. I don't think it matters. If Konoha's been bugged this much, then walking into the Land of Sound is likely to be a death trap for any group of shinobi. They've likely taken over almost all aspects of Orochimaru's former village," she answered back while Tsunade cursed.
"Just one thing after the other. Do you at least have any leads?" Tsunade asked.
Kushina felt the heat of the sun on her face and the breeze of the air. Amongst the two of them, the only sound was of her flapping scarf. "I'll say on my way back," Kushina said as she stood on the railing.
The Matriarch of the Uzumaki Clan quickly stopped time and dashed into the crowd of people. She ran as fast as she could toward the west side of the village. One of the spirits had just been killed and the target was still alone. She had to get to her before the bitch could get into a potential safehouse.
Thankfully, Kushina had found her target. She wasn't hard to miss. She was actually right in the middle of her little ritual, praying to Jashin as the mangled corpse of a woman that had been her prey. If there was one thing Kushina enjoyed about the time stop that her son had invented, she at least didn't need to smell the blood of killed enemies.
Kushina grabbed the female Jashinist and ran back to the Hokage Mansion. Unfortunately, she had to make use of the second time stop to make it back to the Hokage Mansion. She grabbed Tsunade and brought the two back down to the area containing the seal to teleport them to the Cabinet.
Once the jutsu ended, time resumed. "What the…"
The woman barely got to speak before Kushina blew the wind out of the Jashinist's lungs with fist buried in her gut. The woman fell over while Tsunade found herself in her surroundings. All quickly became clear when she saw the downed woman. "She must have just made a kill. She smells of blood. We were too late," Tsunade said while Kushina leaned against the wall.
"Then we'll honor their memory by stamping out the rest of them. Perhaps Naruto can right some of these wrongs, though I'm not sure how willing he'd be considering the circumstances," Kushina said as she picked up her captured target.
Tsunade sighed, once again being reminded of that moment. Clearly, Kushina was the type to hold a grudge. "So will you tell me who you suspect now?" she asked as she touched the seal and the three were transported back to the caverns.
"Well, it's obviously not the two of us. It's not Naruto, Sasuke, Mikoto, Kakashi, or Yugao. It's also not Jiraiya. That's the extent of my knowledge. I doubt it'd either be Shikaku or Inoichi. That only leaves four to investigate," she said while Tsunade quickly grabbed Kushina's shoulder and turned her around.
"Kushina, you're upset with me. Fine, I get it. But you'd better fear me if you're lying to me right now! Are you actually telling me that you think Ibiki, my head Anbu agent, or the two councilors is a traitor? Do you understand the repercussions for Konoha if any of those is true? Many of the events transpired within Konoha's walls could all have been orchestrated and even I, the village's leader, would have had no notice of it. This could lead to an entire overhaul of the village," she replied before Kushina scoffed.
"Tsunade, I was there when Minato was inaugurated as the Hokage. I know more than anyone else the security that comes with the village as far as responsibility goes. But if my son says so, then I believe him. There's been far too many that don't lately. Now, I told you what he relayed to me. As the Hokage, it's on you to make the decisions regarding this. That's what it means to be our leader," she answered back as Tsunade slowly released her. She rubbed her face and sighed, remaining silent until they returned.
"Ibiki, work your magic," Kushina said as she dropped a female Jashinist in front of everyone. Ibiki and Inoichi quickly stood to their feet while the Head Anbu wasted no time tying the woman up. In the meantime, Tsunade turned to Naruto.
"Alright brat, it's your turn. Let's go!" she said as Naruto stood to his feet. He nodded as Kushina sat down.
The two left and it was a very awkward silence until they came up to the roof of the Hokage Mansion. Naruto always thought he'd be standing up here one day for his inauguration. "Naruto?" Tsunade asked as he stared out into the village. He moved his head back and forth.
"No, it's nothing," he said before he stopped time as well. He blasted off into the village and found a Jashinist who was luckily close by. He grabbed him and he ran through the streets for another. Thankfully, the spirits guided him to an isolated target. He grabbed them as well.
With two targets in his hands, he dashed back to the Hokage Mansion. Unfortunately, the time ended and he cast the jutsu again. He landed in front of the Hokage Mansion. With a heavy grunt, he picked up Tsunade onto his back and ran back into the room with the seal. He put all three down just in time for the jutsu to end.
The two Jashinists were quickly knocked out by Naruto as Tsunade sighed. "I'll probably never get used to that," she said as she teleported them back to the Cabinet. Naruto picked up his own captives as they made it back to the room. Everyone observed him put the two down.
"You managed to grab two?" Yugao asked while Naruto grinned.
"Yup! I'm that good!" he said while Jiraiya patted his shoulder.
The Head Anbu quickly tied them up as Shikaku dragged them over with the other. Ibiki and Inoichi nodded, ready to begin their own work while Naruto sat down and took a breath.
Meanwhile, Jiraiya took a step forward, pressing his hands on the table. "So how are we going to make sure that these ones do die like the last one? Perhaps it would be best if someone went undercover to act with them. The Yamanaka clan are specialists at altering memories. It shouldn't be hard to disguise ourselves as one of them," he said.
"And who would we send? How would we get messages out? We need to…"
"Let me handle that. For now, you're all dismissed. Remember that we can't remain gone for too long and it's been long enough. Sasuke, I want you to submit a report to me later regarding what you believe you've discovered from what Sakura was investigating. Homura, Koharu, you two will send out a force to pick up the body that Kushina discovered in the west side of the village. Also send out an announcement to all residents within Konoha, until otherwise stated there will be a curfew. All residents must be in their homes except for assigned personnel by 10pm," she said.
The two council members frowned. "Would that not be playing our hand? Surely, they'll recognize this as something strange going on. It could be alerting them!" Homura said, which made Tsunade quickly glance at him neutrally.
"Not only that, but it will greatly upset the civilian population, especially those who make their living in the more… night-themed activities. If we do go through with this, then we best make sure that it doesn't last long. It would impact our relationships with tra…"
Tsunade slammed the table, drawing all eyes to her. She slowly exhaled. "I know how it sounds, but they are currently killing our people! What is the worth of money when it's compared to the lives of those lost?! Shikaku, what do you think of this?" she asked.
The Nara head leaned back and tapped the table with his finger. "It will have to be done carefully. So far, it's only been civilians that we've captured. We still have yet to concentrate our efforts onto the shinobi in our ranks. This will seem suspicious, but who knows how many days it's going to take us simply by relying on Naruto and Kushina. It's been two days and we've captured at least four people. Assuming they could catch at least five people every day out of an average thousand Jashinists in the village, then that would take at least 200 days. That's six and a half months or half a year. We don't have that kind of time. There are times when we must sacrifice the pawn to move forward, that pawn will be our discovery of their existence. Even if they know that we're aware of them, so long as we can constrict their movements, then I don't think we lose out. In fact, we're given more time to deal with them," he said.
"Or we just make them angrier," Sasuke answered
"For every action, there is a reaction, Sasuke-san. What we must do is prepare for that," Shikaku replied as he stood up. Ibiki and Inoichi stayed behind to continue their interrogation while Tsunade led everyone out.
Once they were back in the Hokage Mansion, Shikaku and the Head Anbu walked away as did Homura and Koharu. Once they were gone, Tsunade tapped Kushina's shoulder three times. The Hinoken leader quickly agreed.
By a mixture of discrete signals, she alerted the rest of her team. The five nodded and quickly went their separate ways. Soon, the last of the group was the two Sannin. "Well, I guess I'll go do some more research. See you later, hime!" Jiraiya said before Tsunade grabbed his shoulder.
"You're not going anywhere. Keep an eye on Naruto. If there's any chance of that prophecy happening, then clearly he might somehow come under the control of the Jashinists. I-If you determine that he can't be saved, then… we will both have to confess our sins to Minato when its our time," the Godaime said with a shiver in her voice.
Jiraiya's eyes hardened. Though it hurt, he agreed. Of course, he didn't want to believe in the prophecy, but it was coming from The Great Toad Sage. All of his prophecies were highly accurate. "I know. I know. I've been observing him ever since I came back into the village. So far, I haven't seen any evidence of this. I want to have trust in Naruto, but everything seems to be going wrong for him recently. Still, if he came out a good seed despite what the village put him through, then… I want to believe he'll come out of this too," Jiraiya answered back while Tsunade nodded.
"As do I. I find myself betting on the brat all the time. He makes you inspire confidence in him, and you have no idea how much I hate the words coming out of my mouth. I hoped to keep this position long enough until he was mature enough to take this hate from me. Now, I've got no one waiting on it for me. Well, except for maybe that Sarutobi brat, Konohamaru. But, I can't bet on Naruto versus the entire population of Konoha, my grandfather's village. I hope it doesn't get to that point. I really do. However, in addition to that I need you to investigate the council," she said.
At this, Jiraiya glared at her. "Why?"
Tsunade sighed and rubbed the back of her head. "Kushina told me that the Jashinists knew about our plan. It's why the target Kakashi put under a genjutsu just died. Someone in our circle is a traitor," she said.
"What?!" Jiraiya whispered while Tsunade nodded.
"I hate to say it, Jiraiya, but Naruto's got a spy network that easily outclasses yours. They can go anywhere without being seen by the eyes of the living. I'm almost tempted to reverse his banishment just because of that fact. The information he could provide to the village is invaluable, however you know the village more than anyone else, even me. If anyone can find a traitor among us, it's you," she said.
Jiraiya rolled his shoulders and sighed. One by one, the powers of the world seemed to be moving in strange directions which no one could ascertain. Naruto, the bijuu, the Akatsuki, the Jashinists, and even the gods themselves. Honestly, Jiraiya wondered if the world at large would even be the same once all of these forces finished colliding. Yet, at the center of all of them was his former student.
KG: What I have planned for this arc might actually be the most insane and ambitious thing I've ever tried to achieve. I just hope it'll be as fun as I think it is.
KG: CREAM SODA!