KG: I'm here. You're here. The story's here. My cream soda ISN'T HERE! FUCK!

Music of the Month: We Are The Rulers by Hidden Citizens

Quote: "Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace" – Nelson Mandela


The Hinoken team sat around another table beneath the Uzumaki Compound. Four of the six of them sat in stunned silence. "There's a traitor in the Cabinet?" Mikoto asked.

Kushina slowly nodded. "Yes. It's the reason why our Kakashi's puppet didn't work. He wasn't killed randomly. They knew that he'd been captured and that we'd interrogated him. By Naruto's own words, they're operating somewhere in Otogakure. The doctor who was close to attacking Haruno Sakura was killed by the assumed head of the cult," she said as the other four looked at each other.

"He's a definite old guy. I didn't think it was possible for there to be someone older than Jiji, but there's a lot of things I'm learning today," Naruto said while Kakashi leaned back and stared at the ceiling.

The jonin sighed. "I see. I had thought of that possibility, but it seemed so small that I hoped to not entertain it. I can see why you kept it to yourselves until now. There's enough mistrust being gripped around the neck of the village. It wouldn't be good if the Cabinet starts doubting itself as well. I assume you told Tsunade-sama?" he asked.

Kushina glanced at her former husband's student. "I'm still a part of the shinobi corps, Kakashi. I'll try to keep my personal feelings out of my duty. She's aware of my news as well. I've no doubt that she's going to tell Jiraiya. That means we'll have to be even more careful than we thought," she returned. He immediately agreed.

Yugao tapped on the table with her finger. "Well, it's troubling either way. This rules out all six of us, Jiraiya-sama, and Tsunade-sama. Everyone else is still a very important figure in our village. Inoichi is the one who heads the department for assessing the psychological state of our shinobi forces. If he's compromised, then there's a massive hole in Konoha's strengths that could work to the advantage of our enemies. If it's the council members, then they've had an exact voice in the ear of the Hokage in how to run the village. Shikaku-san… Ibiki-san… the Head Anbu… every last position is one with devastating consequences," she said as she massaged the side of her head.

Sasuke stared at the rest of his team before he turned to Kushina. "We need to find a way to get into the Land of Oto. If we could find the cult and slip into their ranks, then we could destroy them from the inside. If they're worried about their inner workings, then it'd dismantle the cell in Konoha," he said.

Kushina sat back in her chair and placed her elbows on the table. "Which is why I have no doubts that Tsunade's discussing sending the five of you into Oto as we speak on a secret mission. Since we can't have the cabinet knowing about it, it'll more than likely be an unsanctioned mission. You'll be assumed to be moving on your own without her consent. Above all, you guys can't get caught. It'll be hard to rescue you if you are. Naruto and I can't go since we'll have to stay and capture more of the Jashinists still in the village. If that mission does come to pass, Kakashi will be in charge."

Sasuke, Yugao, and Mikoto glanced at the one-eyed jonin. The smile on his face was reflected in his eyes before Naruto called for their attention.

"I'll set up some long-range communication between us and you guys with my summons. They'll try to warn you guys of any danger once you enter Otogakure. They're already mapping out the rest of the Jashinist cult grounds. You won't be going in totally blind," Naruto said, hoping to comfort them with that knowledge.

Of course, that information had its intended effect. The others eased and Mikoto cleared her throat. "So then what's our timetable? Clearly we don't have half a year since that was what Shikaku-san was worried about. While I'm glad there is great faith in our skills, I don't think we can take these people down in as little as a week or two."

"Which is why we'll just have to wait for Tsunade to make that decision. In the meantime, you all should go back and prepare for a mission of at least a month. Also, I want all of you to find out about a plan called The Great Slaughter. He also said… the summoner of the Shinigami wouldn't be able to stop them," Kushina said, sending a shiver through the rest of the group while Naruto narrowed his eyes.

"The Great Slaughter? It's not a comforting name…" Yugao murmured while the others remained quiet for a moment.

"Well, we can guess a bit from the name itself. Whatever it is, they certainly plan on a massive massacre. Whether that's simply of Konoha itself or the world at large is unknown," Mikoto said. She then noticed Sasuke staring off to the side.

"Sasuke?" she asked, getting his attention. Everyone turned to him and noticed the thoughtful expression on his face.

"I'm just thinking that we might have to invest further into the loser's training of that Death Sage Mode that he's been learning. Think about it. It was because of the gods that the Jashinists attacked the Uzumaki Clan. That's why we're even aware of their existence in our village in the first place. Whatever's happening, they're challenging Naruto's authority, or at least the Shinigami's. If they bring out more like Hidan, who only Naruto and maybe Kushina could kill, then there might be a great slaughter as no one will be able to stop them," he answered.

Naruto narrowed his eyes and Kakashi nodded. "Yes, Konoha's survival seems to be dependent on Naruto. However, we still don't know what's wrong with him that's drawing all these evil spirits to him. If we're not careful, one of them could take over his body and who's to say it's not a Jashinist? You also heard the Shinigami, there are many beings out there aside from our world. Beings more powerful than we can even begin to imagine, both good and evil. We're stuck between two very difficult positions."

Kushina patted her son's shoulder. "Then we'll make sure we're not crushed between the two of them. Now, we're dismissed. We've been gone for long enough. Continue to go about your business, but do it carefully. Remember, they know that we're aware of them now. Who knows what they'll try to do," she said.

The rest of the group agreed and they swiftly, yet discreetly left the Uzumaki Compound. Kushina kissed her son and quickly summoned Chiriku. The blond held his head down before he walked off with the former Fire Temple Monk. For the next few hours, there came more lessons and teachings. Each of them seemed more profound than the last. Of course, they all confused the hell out of Naruto, but he certainly felt more relaxed than he had usually.

Of course, throughout the whole time, Yahiko kept himself connected to Naruto. The two quickly crafted a rather friendly bond, especially since they were students of Jiraiya. Of course, there was a bit of iffy-iness when Yahiko said that he, Konan, and Nagato were the ones who created the Akatsuki. However, the blond felt much of his initial anger dissipate when Yahiko spoke that he wanted to follow in Jiraiya's ideals of peace. Their home country of Amegakure had been ravaged by war from the Five Great Nations. Nevertheless, their fame grew too high. Yahiko sacrificed himself for Konan and Nagato by killing himself. Unfortunately, what Akatsuki turned into was not what he'd envisioned at all.

As Naruto listened, and the two men melded their spirits together, he found himself unable to judge anything. Once again, the ravages of war and strife plagued those around the world with its cruel sting, organizing the destiny fixed between people. The Uzumaki patriarch said nothing as he and Yahiko continued their merger, set on righting the wrongs that so many men seemed to make to any end for their own greed.

Pretty soon, Yahiko detached himself from Naruto and Kimimaro took his place. "Greetings, Naruto-sama," Kimimaro said. The Kyuubi Jinchuuriki greeted his former enemy from two years ago. The two inhaled and then exhaled as they felt their thoughts and actions become as one.

Once that was done, Kimimaro wasted no time transferring all the information he'd acquired from looking through the underground chambers of the Jashinist Cult. Naruto felt a deep rage threatening to burst from within him when he saw what consisted of entertainment throughout the cult. Nothing about the men and women within the walls was human. The screams of a thousand spirits agonizing for vengeance and deliverance were heard. Naruto could only promise that their wrongs would be made right. It got to such a point that he asked for Kimimaro to stop with the transfer lest he be overwhelmed by all of it.

"Don't worry. They won't get away with this!" The blond said with a scowl on his face before he slowly stood to his feet. Well, at least he'd be able to make a map of the interior for the others who'd be going over there.

With this happening, Naruto couldn't continue his lesson with Chiriku. His spirit and his sense of balance had been thoroughly disrupted by a lot of what he'd seen. Naturally, the former fire monk understood, leaving Naruto with a few thought-provoking questions. Of course, the blond did his diligence and thought on them as he walked back to the compound. The walk was a little awkward with Kimimaro. Naruto had only fought the man briefly and he was an ally of Orochimaru at the time. It certainly didn't inspire the best connection.

However, the two tried to find some type of common ground. That common ground was met when Kimimaro spoke of how his clan had been slaughtered which left him alone. Now that was certainly something Naruto identified with, being the assumed last of a once great clan. However, he asked the bone user if it was possible for some of the Kaguya clan members to have escaped. Unfortunately, Kimimaro couldn't answer that question. "If they are alive, I'm not sure where they are, Naruto-sama," he said.

To be honest, Kimimaro wasn't even sure if he cared in the end. The Kaguya clan wasn't the same as the Uzumaki Clan, having such strong family bonds. In fact, Kimimaro would be rather happy to never see his clan members as his days in that cage remained a vivid memory within him. Besides, it wasn't like they were slaughtered for no reason like the Uzumaki Clan. They'd been destroyed by Kirigakure due to their own violence, bloodlust, and battle-hardened spirits. Maybe the world was better off without them.

"You remind me a lot of Sasuke," Naruto commented off-handedly, which got a chuckle from Wolf. Kimimaro didn't reply and the two settled into silence until Naruto stepped back into his home. Surprisingly, his mother was in the living room. He saw her with a list in her hand and upon closer inspection he noticed that she was creating her list of people she wanted at the wedding. Still, he wondered how many would attend a mother-son wedding. It sure as hell wasn't very orthodox.

The blond touched her shoulder and she saw the seriousness of his gaze. She sighed and put down her list. "What happened?" she asked, knowing that her son was currently linked with one of his spirits. There was a hint of silver behind his normally blue eyes.

"Kimimaro came back and gave me his knowledge of the base. Unfortunately, it's not all of it. I was starting to get overwhelmed by just how bloodthirsty these people are. Still, he and the others gave extensive knowledge of the inner workings of it. I'm sure Kakashi-sensei, Yugao-neechan, Mikoto-san, and Sasuke can sneak in and help dismantle them while you and I look for the traitor in the village," he said.

Kushina stood up and nodded. "Alright, then we'll work on that day for them. You feed me the information and I'll make the map. How we get this to them, I don't know, but I'll think of something," she said.

Naruto agreed and the two walked up the stairs to continue their work.

-x-

Tsunade grumbled as she continued to sign off on some documents, unsure of what to even do. So there was a traitor in the cabinet and she had no idea who it was outside the obvious. Could there even be more than one traitor? She felt a little stuck on what to do, especially when she was just sent back a report on the death of the victim from earlier. No one had been able to pinpoint any suspects at the moment, though an Inuzuka spoke of a very familiar scent. How the hell was Tsunade supposed to even say that she knew who the target was and that they'd already been captured? Talk about having your cake and not eating it.

Plus, Ibiki and Inoichi had come back with a complete interrogation on the two Jashinists. Once again, these were small fry. So supposedly their only objective was to receive reports from those higher in the cult. Each of them was assigned a target to kill during a certain time of the month. Of course, they had to keep them alive, but now Tsunade wasn't sure who to trust outside of Jiraiya and the Hinoken team.

Jiraiya was… Jiraiya. Naruto… well, Tsunade wasn't even sure what to think since he'd provided the information about this traitor to Kushina. However, with Jiraiya's little prophecy still on the horizon, the Godaime really wondered if Naruto wasn't somehow involved in all of this. However, despite what she'd done to him, she could never see him turning into a traitor. If he did, it would have been much earlier in his life when the village gave him a reason to.

Mikoto and Kushina were long dead. Kakashi, despite being a bit of a fragile profile in terms of monthly therapy for all shinobi, was about as loyal as they came. If there was anyone to be a flight risk, it'd be Uchiha Sasuke. That boy's profile was amongst the most damaged that she'd ever surveyed, especially after the Uchiha Massacre. She never thought he might have suicidal tendancies, but that definitely wasn't something that most sane people could overcome. Of course, he had no reason to join the Jashinists especially since Naruto had eased the blow by reviving Mikoto and Yuna.

It wasn't impossible for it to be Shikaku or Inoichi, but Tsunade found that highly unlikely. She'd been just a pre-teen when those two brats were born. Troublemakers they could be in their youth, they weren't the type to have the proper distinction for Jashinists. Plus, it wouldn't make sense for the cult member, Hidan, to kill the sensei of their children's team. Unless there was something she was missing, she doubted that was a part of any plan.

She was ashamed to say it was possible for it to be Ibiki. He also had a history of troubles and his work was very violent in nature, even by shinobi standards.

Then there were the council members, Koharu and Homura. She always assumed that they had Konoha's best interests at heart, but their ability to disagree with every peaceful solution her predecessor, Hiruzen, made for better relations certainly could have been Jashinist influence. She didn't want to admit it, but it also could have been the case when they wanted to have Naruto detained permanently. Nevermind Koharu's apparent dislike of him, but even Homura never seemed favorable to him either.

Then lastly, there was the Head Anbu. The implications of what that might mean worried Tsunade even more than the two councilmembers.

"What a mess, but even if they are aware of us, we have to make our move while they're still split apart by Oto and Konoha. I can only send the Hinoken Team. They're the only ones who'd know what to expect. If I send anyone else, there's no way they'll go unnoticed. The only problem is what should I say to deceive the traitor in the Cabinet. It'll be strange if most of the team is gone. However…" Tsunade thought to herself.

The Hokage sighed and pushed herself back from her desk. Not a moment of time to herself and she'd be having to face the village with a smile on her face as she made public appearances, speeches, and other sorts of stuff to keep the illusion of peace in the village. She… also wanted to see how Shizune was doing. Then, she hoped that they wrapped this up quickly. Teams were already being sent out to Iwagakure for the Chunin Exams. She'd spent a long time signing off on teams to leave. She even signed off on Yuri, Konohamaru, and Moegi. She also signed off Yukimaru, Hanabi, and their Inuzuka teammate. Both teams along with others would be going to Iwagakure.

The Godaime leaned back in her chair before she heard a knock on her door. "Enter," she said.

She quickly noticed Team Gai come through the door. "Greetings, Lady Hokage. We have returned from our assignment!" Gai said with an exuberant grin on his face. Neji and Tenten shook their heads while Lee offered the same enthusiasm.

Tsunade clenched her fingers and placed her elbows on her desk. "Right. And what do you have for me?" she asked.

"Information on the whereabouts of Shimura Danzo as you instructed. We've located a few hideouts and there have been a few assaults from previous Root agents. We also found a rather interesting discovery. We ran into Yura Uzumaki and a few of her team members since she left the Konoha Shinobi Corps. It seems that they are pursuing the same thing. We coordinated our efforts with her group for a little while," Gai said while Tsunade raised an eyebrow.

Ah yes, how could she forget the outburst that Yura made in her office a few days ago. What would she be investigating Danzo for? No, wait. This could actually be a good thing. Yes, actually!

"I see. And who is a part of this team that she's put together?" she asked, genuinely curious.

"Not anyone we've seen before. In fact, it's quite the variety of characters. Juugo, Karin, Suigetsu, Kotohime, and Konan," Tenten said, which made Tsunade frown for a moment. She'd heard the last name in that group before somewhere. However, she didn't exactly remember where.

"I see. Did Yura say what she planned to do with Danzo should she find him?" the Godaime asked next. As much as this group seemed competent, especially given that three of them used to be a part of Uchiha Sasuke's old team, she knew just how slippery that old warhawk could be. She also knew how powerful he could be as well. There was a reason he'd survived for so long.

"She didn't say. She didn't seem too happy to see us, well aside from Neji I guess. Since our interests aligned we just decided to not push it. When we entered the Land of Stone, Neji found a few Root agents tailing us. Yura and her team dispatched them quickly. It didn't take them long to kill themselves when they were caught, but Yura-san continued on anyway," Tenten continued.

Tsunade hummed, tapping her finger on the table before Lee handed her a scroll. "All the information is present here, Tsunade-sama!" He said with the same exuberance.

The blonde took the scroll and placed it away. "Very well, but I wa't you all on standby. I might be sending you back out to continue the assignment. If Danzo is there, then it might be a good chance to capture him. In fact, I might be sending you with another team. Either way, thank you. You've earned a good rest," she said.

"Nonsense, Hokage-sama! Our youthful endeavors would only be more training to endure the hardships for Konoha! Yosh, Team Gai, let's head to the training ground and prepare ourselves for another youthful mission!" Gai exclaimed.

Tenten and Neji groaned while Lee shouted as well. Tsunade rolled her eyes as she watched them leave. "Fucking idiots," She thought to herself before she bit on her thumb and summoned a small slime body of Katsuyu.

"Katsuyu, take this message to Mikoto. Make sure you aren't seen by anyone in the village. You're the only one I can count on right now," Tsunade said.

"Very well, Tsunade. I also hope you're properly getting sleep. You seem very tired," the small slug said before she took the scroll into her body and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Tsunade leaned back in her chair and sighed. "Well, it's hard to sleep when you don't know if you'll wake up the next day," she thought to herself before she closed her eyes for a few minutes. Maybe a little nap before all the chaos was appropriate.

-x-

"I see. So that's what's been going on," Yuna said as she sat in the deepest parts of the Uchiha Compound. She leaned against Sasuke as they stared at the wall. Sasuke nodded as he wrapped his arm around her shoulder.

"Yeah, it's more likely we'll be sent out on a mission very soon to try and take them down. I might not be in the village for a little while," he said as Yuna chuckled. She then jabbed him in his side.

"Then try not to miss me too much. But do your best out there. Let me tell you that dying isn't as great as some make it out to be," she said with a small smile on her face while Sasuke remained silent for a second. He quickly turned her head to him and he kissed her fervently. She widened her eyes and sighed when he brushed his hands through her long, black hair.

When they separated, Sasuke stared into her eyes. "I've seen my clan die once before. I won't let you die again. When this is over, I want you to marry me," he said as she widened her eyes.

Yuna looked at him in shock, but he only stared at her with strong eyes that she could only find attractive. She opened her mouth and then closed it, unsure of what to even say. "Sasuke…" she said before he nodded.

"I've dragged my feet long enough. Once I'm done with this mission, I want you in my life, and I want to rebuild my clan with you," he said as she turned away from him and chuckled.

She then shook her head. "You suck at proposals. You could at least have been a bit more romantic about it," she said before she pinched the bridge of her nose.

"Well, I don't know any other woman who'd put up with you aside from me. However, in order to make sure you succeed, I won't give my answer until you finish your mission. Though, I'll give you some advice. Be sure there's a ring involved. I'll punch you otherwise," she said and Sasuke nodded.

"...I'll do that," he replied as she leaned on his shoulder.

"Good."

The two stayed like this for a little while longer. "Yuna, why don't you ask Naruto to bring back your brother? I'm sure you miss Shisui as well," he said as they continued to look at the wall.

Yuna's lips curved upwards and she shook her head. "Yeah, my stupid little brother. I have thought about it, but I know Shisui. He was always burdened by his eyes. I just never knew how much given that Danzo would make him plan with Itachi for him to suicide. Clearly, I've failed as his older sister to protect him, even though he was way more powerful than me. He was an Anbu and I was simply a chunin. Still, I believe Obito would be satisfied with how he lived his life. Though, I'm not sure it's wise to burden Naruto-sama with more summonings and revivals given his current problem," she said.

Her lover grunted. "I suppose," he replied as Yuna pushed up her coat. It'd been falling down the side of her shoulders.

"I believe I've seen that many of the people Naruto-sama's revived are those who still had things left unfinished in this world. Me, his mother, your mother, and so many more of us. In addition, there are those who need them around, to fill the whole left by their disappearance. Yet, there are those of us who have old wounds reopened when we see those we've lost. But, I for one, am happy with my life, a life I wouldn't have had if Naruto-sama had revived me."

Sasuke held her close and agreed. "Yeah, the dobe's good at making people want to surround him. Even people like me. I want you to be careful when we're out of the village. They can be anywhere and some of them are very powerful," he said while she punched his shoulder.

"I'm not weak, Sasuke. I'm still a kunoichi, but I promise I'll be careful. I suppose it wouldn't do well for me to lose my second life," she said and he wholeheartedly agreed before the both of them heard a knock on the door.

As typical Uchiha, the two pulled away from each other just in time for the door to open. Mikoto popped her head in and sighed. "You know, there's no point in trying to act like you weren't doing what I think you're doing when I know you're both dating. Anyway, I suggest you both do what you have to before we head out. We'll also need to give Sakura the keys to the compound. She'll also have to make sure she's not followed," Mikoto said while Yuna exhaled.

"I'll keep an eye on Sakura. I could even invite some of her friends over here for a few days. It'd give the compound some eyes and ears," she answered and Mikoto quickly agreed. She then smiled and left the two alone.

Seeing this, Sasuke and Yuna glanced at each other. The latter quickly grabbed the former by his collar. "I've got some time before my next shift and you don't know when you're leaving. I can think of a way to pass the time," she said with a grin on her face while Sasuke closed his eyes and submitted to the whims of his lover.

Meanwhile, Mikoto stood outside the door and closed her eyes. She leaned up, walking away until she made it back to the main floors of the compound. She slowly sat down on a chair and placed her head in her hands. "I must be crazy," she thought to herself before she got up and walked back to her room.

-x-

Kushina had long since left the Uzumaki Clan Compound. She was currently wearing some civilian clothes so that she might not draw attention to herself. Nevertheless, her eyes continued to move through the crowds of people, hoping to find one person or two who slipped up. While she wouldn't be able to do anything about them now, she'd at least be able to remember their faces. That'd make it even easier to grab others for later.

In any case, she was on her way to the Uchiha Compound to deliver the map to Mikoto before they left. Any advantage they could get before the four of them entered Oto would be good to have.

In time, she arrived at the compound. Every step she felt the Honshou within her growing stronger from her son's extended practice. She wished she could be there with him to practice more with it. Admittedly, she'd also been neglecting her training as well. Once she rejoined with the Hyuuga Clan and finished the meeting, then she'd return and do her own training. Her son would also have to start working some of the more political aspects of their clan, even in spite of what was happening in the village.

Kushina walked up through the almost deserted compound, feeling rather melancholy. So many souls, innocent and guilty, had their blood drunk up by the dust and dirt of the ground. All of that had been due to protecting the village. It was almost the same for her own clan. Destroyed because it'd either grown too powerful or too arrogant. Who could tell anymore?

The fiancee of Uzumaki Naruto found the main building and knocked on the door. After a few minutes of waiting, the door was opened by Mikoto. "Kushina, what are you doing here?" Mikoto asked while the Matriarch of the Uzumaki Clan held up a basket of the Uchiha Clan's favored desserts. "I bear an offering for my friends, dattebane. Never know when you might need something to make you happy!" she said with a wide smile on her face.

Mikoto returned the smile and agreed, opening the door to let her friend inside. Instead of the kitchen, the two walked up the stairs until they made it to Mikoto's room. Kushina stared at the numerous weapons and scrolls on the bed. She almost wondered if Mikoto was going to war rather than infiltrating a cult.

"You're certainly… taking a lot," she said while Mikoto closed the blinds. She then held up the dessert basket and found a piece of paper hidden beneath it. She grabbed it and pulled it off. Once she opened it, she saw the map that Kushina made with Naruto.

"Better to take a long than not take enough. Besides, we're dealing with over a thousand members and there's only four of us. All things considered, we might actually be facing an army if we somehow get caught. Also, what is this?" Mikoto asked. Obviously, it was some kind of map, but she couldn't tell of what. Hell, she'd never seen one so organized.

"It's a map of the cult hideout. Naruto's summons have been hard at work relaying all the information back to him. Apparently, some of the things they do are so horrific that even he can't look at them. I really don't want to know what they do either. All I know is that you guys better be careful. For all we know, they could be expecting us."

Mikoto looked back at the map and furled it up. "Got it. We'll make sure to keep our wits about us. Besides, I think this will be a good experience for Sasuke as well. Though I have no doubt we'll all be going to have some mandatory therapy sessions in order to return back to active duty," Mikoto said as she sat on her bed. Kushina laughed and sat on the bed as well.

"And where is Sasuke anyway? Shouldn't he be packing as well?" the redhead asked while her friend blushed. She looked away.

"Yeah, he's… packing in his room. He's doing… a lot of packing," Mikoto said as Kushina stared at her friend weirdly. However, she quickly noticed the look on her best friend's face and gained a mischievous look.

"Mikotoooo, what aren't you telling me?" Kushina asked as the woman turned to her, confused. Kushina quickly wrapped her arm around her shoulder and grinned.

"You're hiding something from me. I know you. What's going on?" she asked before Mikoto rolled her eyes.

The Uchiha Matriarch nearly wanted to groan. This was definitely not what she needed right now. Sometimes Kushina was too perceptive, and nosy, for her own good. "Nothing's going on!" Mikoto exclaimed.

"We've played this game before, Mikoto. I press you. You fight back. I wear you down. You tell me. It's an endless cycle, dattebane. So why don't we just skip the war and go straight to the treaty? You have that look in your eye the first time you saw Fugaku. Who's the lucky guy that's occupied your thoughts?" she replied before Mikoto groaned again.

"I feel like we've vastly shifted subjects here."

"Good. We could use something lighthearted during a stressful time like this."

"The only thing I could use is you getting out of my room and leaving me to mentally prepare for my mission. You can see yourself out!" Mikoto said as she picked up Kushina and pushed her out, much to the amusement of the redhead.

"I'll get it out of you eventually!" Kushina hollered as Mikoto slammed her door closed. The Uchiha matriarch shook her head as she slid down to the ground. This was definitely not how she was planned on bringing this out. More than that, what was she bringing out at all? There should be nothing. Yeah… nothing.

Meanwhile, Kushina decided to leave her best friend alone. Mikoto had always been one who kept her secrets close to her chest. Trying to get one out of her was like trying to pull out fucking teeth. Stil, Kushina had been one of the few with a decent track record on the attempt. Even she could practice patience when it was convenient. Something told her she was on the verge of something grand. She wasn't gonna let this go so easily!

The redhead walked down the room. She then left from the clan's main compound and proceeded to exit the Uchiha Clan Grounds. "Still, what's got her so bent out of shape?" Kushina thought to herself.

While she entertained herself with the question, Kushina walked through Konoha. She still kept a firm eye over those passing through the village. If nothing else, she had to hand it to the Jashinists. She had no idea how a cult of psychotic murderers could keep such neutral expressions that not even seasoned shinobi could point them out.

Nevertheless, she finally made it to her target. She stood before the Hyuuga Clan and exhaled slowly. The conversation from last time had been rather… promising until she had to cut it short. She was quickly seen by the guards.

"Kushina-san, good afternoon. This is perfect timing as Hiashi-sama wanted to send out someone to ask for your time. I'll inform him that you've come!" A member said. Kushina nodded with a bright smile of her own. She waved him away and she only had to wait about five minutes before she was led back to Hiashi and Hinako.

In no time, she found herself standing in front of the heads of the Hyuuga Clan. "It seems we have impeccable timing. I understand that our meeting got interrupted. Thank you for meeting with me so quickly," she said

Hiashi nodded. "By your tone, it wasn't a casual matter. Has it been resolved?" he asked.

Keeping her face neutral, she answered him. "Well, yes and no. It's been taken care of for the moment," she said.

Hiashi and Hinako took note of her words, nodding in affirmation. It was clearly something that couldn't be discussed in the open like this. Both understood the necessity of silence and discretion. "I see. Well, I pray these matters of yours come to a close soon. Anyway, Hinako, the elders, and I have discussed the matter and your proposal extensively. Hinako has also discovered that there are a few Hyuuga that are indeed interested in potential life in Kumo. It would seem that time is indeed a healer of wounds as many have slowly forgotten the event from thirteen years ago," he said as he thought of his brother, Hizashi, who was currently out of the village on a separate assignment.

Kushina remained hopeful as Hiashi cleared his throat. "We are willing to agree to your proposal provided we are allowed to judge the marriage partner should be a condition in order for Naruto to find out this mysterious problem of his. We also ask for a share in the shares of the Uzumaki Clan Household," he said.

Kushina scratched her chin and sighed. "I don't think my son would disagree with that, so I'll speak for him this once and accept the deal. We can agree to that. We'll also put a priority on all Hyuuga Clan members in terms of sales, and discounts from all stores affiliated with the Uzumaki Clan. I'll even provide Hanabi with some classes in Uzumaki fuinjutsu," she said.

Naturally, all of these benefits made Hiashi and Hinako pleased. "My, that's very kind of you, Kushina. Well, it would be rude for us to decline, especially since this is a matter that could aid Naruto-sama," the wife of Hiashi said with a bright smile on her face.

Kushina breathed a sigh of relief and accepted the words. "Thank you, both of you. I hope I'll never have to ask for something so heavy from either of you again," she replied back.

Hiashi shook his head, leaning his body up. "No. What Naruto has given the Hyuuga Clan can almost never be repaid. You are our family just as we are yours now. I'm ashamed to say that we've forgotten that as well. How could we not help you, especially my greatest friend?" he asked.

Kushina chuckled before she glanced off to the side and blushed. "Yeah, my son seems to be helping so many people these days. And, I'd be honored if the rest of our "family" would come to our wedding," she said, which made Hinako widen her eyes.

"You and Naruto-sama?" she asked.

"I-It's already embarrassing if you repeat it back to me dattebane!" Kushina responded before she saw the brightest smiles on the faces of the mother and father of Hanabi and Hinata.

"We'd be honored to attend. However, please do not take it a fault if some in the clan do not share the same sentiment. Indeed Naruto-san and I discussed the idea, and I'll admit that I… might have had a hand in stoking the flames of your relationship, but such practice as the Hyuuga isn't meant for such close-knit relationships like yours. Many might not be so understanding," he confessed truthfully, but Kushina shrugged her shoulders.

"Come what may, in my heart I'm already my son's wife. I defer to him now. The best thing I can do is make sure we never question ourselves nor the path we've chosen. For Naruto, I was the holder of the Kyuubi no Yoko. Our elder, Mito-sama, once told me that there was a lot of hate embedded deep in the fox. At the time, I was terrified of becoming the one to hold it. And you know what she told me?"

Neither Hiashi nor Hinako spoke before they saw Kushina touch her chest. "She told me that only love could overcome the immense hate that rested in the body of the Kyuubi. I can remember three different times where I felt so much love that I felt like I could have overcome anything hate might have thrown at me. One, when Minato and I were married. Two, when Naruto was born. Three…"

"...when he confessed just how much he loved you," Hinako finished while Kushina nodded.

"And I'll feel happiness the fourth time in my life when he becomes the man that I will spend the rest of my life with. Never will I take anyone else. For me, that is worth anyone's personal feelings about us," she said before she dismissed herself. Hinako waved her goodbye, but Kushina suddenly stopped when she opened the door. Her lips curved upwards before she marched over to Hinako.

"Hiashi, be a good man and go do something else for about an hour or so. We're about to have some wife talk!" Kushina said with a wide smile on her face.

"K-Kushina-san!" Hinako exclaimed while Hiashi looked between his wife and his friend's fiancee. He closed his eyes and sighed.

Hiashi stood up. "Try not to take too long," he said before he left while Kushina sat with Hinako.

"Kushina-san, is this really necessary?" the female Hyuuga asked while Kushina nodded vigorously.

"Yup, once my mission is finished, I need your help! You see, our precious Mikoto-chan…"

Hinako's eyes slowly got bigger and bigger as she saw the prankster-like grin on her friend's face. "R-Really?" she asked. Kushina nodded.

"...I'm in!" Hinako said as her lips curved up into a wide cheshire-like grin. For a clan of those not known to smile much, even Kushina felt rather unnerved by her appearance, but… it was worth it.

"That's my girl dattebane!"

-x-

A few hours passed and the four members of Hinoken were called to the Hokage Mansion. Tsunade quickly took the four of them to an undisclosed location. Kakashi, Yugao, Sasuke, and Mikoto sat around a table with the Hokage. She'd just gotten through a meticulous process of making sure they weren't followed. Some of that involved lying to her forces, but there was no way around it. That was better than the alternative.

"We're heading to Stone Country? Why would we do that? Naruto claimed that the cult of Jashinists was in…"

"Yes, I know. I also understand that I'll be asking for a lot from you guys in this mission, which is why you'll be paid for this S-rank assignment. I wish I could say there's no repercussions for failure, but if you fail then this could virtually lead to the death of our village. I'm counting on all of you!" Tsunade said as Yugao, Sasuke, and Mikoto turned to Kakashi. As the one appointed to the leader role by Kushina, they deferred to him.

Kakashi took notice of their gaze before he exhaled a breath calmly. "What's the plan, Tsunade-sama?" he asked, his tone notably more serious than usually known for him.

The Godaime looked at the four of them and exhaled. "I'm glad I listened to you, Yugao. I highly doubt we would have made much headway as we did with Naruto. However, the brat and Kushina are indeed too slow. As Shikaku stated, it'd be too long in a war of attrition against them. With that being the case, I'm not going to risk them knowing where you four are going and alerting their group. I have reports that Yura and a few forces with her are in Stone Country. They're looking for Danzo," she said.

That made the four of Hinoken surprised for a moment. Tsunade continued on.

"I want you four to head there and find out what she's up to. Even though Yura's not a member of the village anymore, she's still hunting a Konoha-interest target. If you can find her or any member of her team then make brief contact. If you're being followed, then I hope that'll drop their guard. Stay there one or two days, but after that make a quick turnaround and head to Otogakure to infiltrate the village. You leave tonight," she said.

Kakashi leaned forward. "And what should we do with the information we receive about Danzo?" he asked.

Tsunade massaged the bridge of her nose. "Find a way to send it back to me. I'll probably assemble another team to follow up on it. Your jobs are to bring down this cult anyway you can without exposing yourself. If things get really tough, then don't overextend yourself. Also, find out what this Great Slaughter is!" she said.

The four nodded before Mikoto held up a piece of paper that she had hidden away. "This is a scroll of the underground building mapped out by Naruto's spirits and drawn by Kushina. We can use this to find the structural weak points and exploit them," she said, passing it to Kakashi.

He looked the map over and hummed. "Then before we leave, we'll ask Naruto to map out the village as well. If they have a regular rotation of guard that we can get past, then we'll also be able to make use of it," he said.

The rest agreed while Tsunade smirked. "The brat's full of surprises. Alright, I wish you all the best of luck. Be the blades that Konoha wields and cut the throat of our enemies," she said as she slammed her hand on the table.

"Hai!"

The four stood up and, after a meticulous process, exited the Hokage Mansion. "We move out soon. I'll be studying this map in the meantime," Kakashi said to all of them. Yugao, Sasuke, and Mikoto firmly agreed.

"Then, I'll head to the dobe's house and ask him if he can get his spirits to map out the village for us while we run toward Stone Country," Sasuke said.

Yugao then responded. "It's probably best if we don't leave out the main gate of the village. It'd draw too much attention. If we want them to be off guard, then we should leave as stealthily as possible."

"Then we'll just have to leave off the side of the walls. No one should stop us and we'll leave under the cover of night," Mikoto said and the others agreed. Sasuke then ran off and the Matriarch of the Uchiha Clan watched him go for an extended period of time. It got to the point that Yugao touched her shoulder.

"Are you alright, Mikoto-san?" Yugao asked.

The black-haired woman broke out of her gaze and slowly nodded. "Ummm, yes. Thank you," she said before she walked away. Yugao and Kakashi looked at each other in confusion before they decided to get their own work done.

Thankfully, it didn't take Sasuke too long to get to the Uzumaki Clan Compound. Naturally, he made sure he wasn't seen until he came right up to the door. The sun was beginning to go down and it wouldn't be long until the team left. He knocked on the door and after a few minutes, it was opened. "Ah, greetings, Sasuke-san," Komachi said, having answered the door.

"Where is Naruto? I need to see him," he said and Komachi fully opened the door.

"Follow me," she said as she led him inside. When Sasuke followed her in, he noticed Guren lazily waving at him as she watched TV in the large room. Yukimaru was seated in the middle of the room, scratching his head as he read through a book with tens of papers of failed seals. When he looked up, he silently waved to the Uchiha heir and Sasuke acknowledged him with a nod.

Komachi led him outside and took towards the room which housed all of the Uzumaki Clan's sacred sealing materials. "Please wait here," she pleaded before she weaved through a myriad of handsigns. Sasuke watched the seals on the door unlock and the doors behind it open. She walked inside.

Not even a minute later and out came her with Naruto in tow. However, he noticed the way his teammate looked. He was currently merged with one of his summons. Sasuke didn't know who, but he could tell from the silver hair covering the head of his friend. That wasn't all. The former blond's eyes radiated with great power, the power of the summoner of a god.

Out came Shizune and Ebisu. Sasuke noticed the latter two looked utterly haggard, each of them holding large slabs over their heads. Their hair was unkempt and bodies were riddled with sweat. They looked like they hadn't slept in days, yet neither spoke a word of complaint.

"Can't say I'm happy to see you, Teme, but I take it this isn't a social call," the blond said while Sasuke snorted.

"Of course it's not, Dobe."

Sasuke then turned to Komachi. "Thank you," he said. Komachi nodded and bid her cousin a goodbye. He then turned back to Shizune and Ebisu.

"What's going on with them?" he asked.

Naruto glanced back at the two and shook his head. "They're being punished. That's all you need to know. Anyway, what's up?" he asked as Sasuke glanced off to the side for a moment.

"You have a quiet place?" Sasuke asked.

Naruto's powerful eyes narrowed before he led Sasuke away. The summoner of the Shinigami dismissed Shizune and Ebisu. Both wordlessly walked back inside as the two young men of Hinoken found a very vacant hallway. Sasuke leaned against the wall while Naruto stood next to him.

"We got our mission from the Hokage a few minutes ago," he said.

Naruto didn't seem surprised. "Yeah. It makes sense that Baa-chan would send you guys out today. To be honest, I thought she might wait till tomorrow, but I guess we don't have much time," he replied.

Sasuke snorted. "Yeah, we're heading to Stone Country to try and find Yura. We're told she's assembled a team to find Danzo. We're gonna do this so that, if we're followed, we won't make any of the Jashinist suspicious. We can only hope they get bored of us and then we can begin our real objective. Naruto, could you send someone out to inform Yura that we'll be heading her way? Also, could you have someone map out the village of Otogakure? It would make our mission easier," he explained.

Naruto folded his arms and hummed. "You'll be out of the village. Even if I could make a map of the place, I couldn't properly get it to you," he said before the Hinoken Uchiha shook his head. He quickly summoned a small snake in palm.

"Give it to Yanora. She'll give it to me. Until then, she'll stay with you," he said. The tiny snake bowed to Sasuke and forked her tongue at Naruto. She then slithered into his pocket.

"I'll do what I can for you guys then. Also, if you guys ever need help, call for me and Kaa-chan. We'll be there to help you," the summoner of the Shinigami urged.

Sasuke chuckled. "Like I'd ever call your ass for help, Loser," he responded back stubbornly, yet smiling. Naruto sucked his teeth.

"I'd save the other three first before I ever saved you, Teme," Naruto said before he walked away. The smile on Sasuke's face fell for a moment. He hoped it wouldn't get to that point.

Sasuke left the Uzumaki Compound and came back to the Uchiha Compound. There he stayed with his mother and his lover until the moon flew high into the sky. He quickly kissed Yuna and she wished him the best. He also gave Sakura a goodbye when she returned to them.

Soon, he joined Kakashi, Yugao, and Mikoto on top of a roof. The air was filled with a pleasant breeze as they pulled up their masks over their mouths.

"We'll run through the night. We're on a short timeframe. I hope we'll be in Kusa by evening. We should then be in Stone Country by the evening after that. Sasuke and I will take the first watch," he said while Mikoto and Yugao agreed.

The four then grabbed their blades and dashed on top of the village wall. The moon became their light as they ran off from the village and towards Kusagakure. Their agile footsteps landed them on tree trunks. Their legs blasted them forward as a brush of cold air blew against their faces. Yugao pulled up her mask.

If any civilian was even lucky enough to give a glimpse, then they would just seen four shadows moving swiftly through the trees. Hell, they probably couldn't even be counted as shadows. Perhaps several blurs was more appropriate.

However, what no one living knew was that they had a right to be cautious. Five or six shadows, a few miles behind them, moved just as quickly. That said, not even THOSE shadows knew that they were being followed as well.

-x-

Kushina slowly opened her eyes. Naruto stood with her in their bedroom. "They're definitely being followed. Asuma and Deidara have found six Jashinists tailing them. What should we do?" she asked while Naruto reached into his hand and pulled out Yanora. She flicked her forked tongue at him while he started to write on a piece of paper.

"I'll have to use Yanora to alert them. I wish we could have spotted them before they left the village. I could have used my new jutsu to finish them off. Still, I hate how short-range it is," he said as he handed the scroll to her. Yanora bowed and quickly dispelled while Kushina stood to her feet.

"Have you sent out someone to alert Yura?" she asked.

"Yeah. They should be getting to her location right now. Besides, this'll give me a chance to learn what she discovered about Danzo," he said before he slowly fell into silence. Kushina noticed the look on her son's face.

Even without him telling her, she had a good idea of his thoughts. They were being pushed too far and in too many corners. If something urgent about Danzo did come up, what could they do if they couldn't leave the village that was full of Jashinists?

She patted his shoulder. "Trust in them. They'll be fine," she said.

Naruto's lips curved upwards and he surprised his mother with a kiss. She happily took it and sighed blissfully. "I love you, ya know," Naruto said as he hugged her.

"I know, but it's nice to hear you say it."

The mother and son lovers stayed like this for a little while before the Kyuubi snarled.

"Enough of your sickening bonding, brat! Hurry up and get in here! You've got more training to do!" Kyuubi bellowed as Naruto silently groaned.

He then reluctantly pulled himself away from his mother. When she looked at him curiously, she saw the irritation on his face. "The furball says I need to finish my training. I don't think I'll be getting much sleep tonight," he said and Kushina agreed.

While she was still apprehensive of the Nine-Tailed Fox, clearly there had been some type of new relationship established between it and her son. So long as it remained amiable, then she'd trust her son's judgment. "Alright. I'll do some light training myself. However, don't work yourself too hard," she advised before she left him alone. Naruto wasn't too ashamed to say he enjoyed the sway of her ass as she left.

Once she was gone, Naruto sat on the ground and exhaled slowly. He then found himself in the depths of his mindscape. He saw Pakura. As she was the one he was currently bound to, she appeared there with him. When he took a good look at her, it seemed that the Kyuubi was right. His summons could grow more powerful from having a strong, stable connection with him. There was great power radiating from her, even more than before. Strange markings like those of the Shinigami summoning contract started coming over her skin. Her hair was notably longer as well.

Had Naruto not had his mother, Yura, and Yuri, he would definitely have fancied Pakura. Even then, she was definitely a beautiful woman. He watched her curve up her lips, but she didn't say anything.

"Hurry up and finish your training, brat. So far we've been rather lucky that nothing's possessed you. Link up with the woman and you will continue training with the three of us!" The Kyuubi said as Mōryō and the Kindred stood around them. Meanwhile, Naruto sighed.

"Haven't I trained enough today? Just because I can't die, doesn't mean I want to!" he said before the Kyuubi bellowed.

"Quit your complaining! I've got a feeling that something bad's gonna happen, something extremely bad. You better be prepared for it brat," Kyuubi said.

Naruto's eyes narrowed. He never thought he'd imagine it from the furball of all people, but the Kyuubi almost, almost, sounded scared. Of course, the blond would never say that outloud, but… that's what it seemed like.

"Alright. What am I supposed to do?" Naruto asked.

"While I've been alive, I've seen some of the worst and best, no matter how small the latter is, that humanity has to offer. We're gonna get started on learning this… technique that the Shinigami wanted you to start comprehending. Paradise and Torment, Heaven and Hell. Comprehend these two while you fight us," he said.

Naruto and even Pakura stood confused. "And how is he supposed to do that? Those terms could mean anything," Pakura said before the Kyuubi glared at her.

"No, they do not. It is mortals that make their meanings anything. They have always been the same and meant what you think they mean. Now, you'd better get started because we're not going to hold back on you, brat while your physical body rests. Don't expect a good night's sleep any time soon," he said while Naruto grumbled.

Nevertheless, Pakura stood at his side while the Kindred readied themselves. Mōryō did as well, and Kyuubi stood amongst them as the largest, and most imposing individual. Pakura fused her soul with Naruto's and the blond charged at his three summons, the ancient, profound, and divine techniques of the Shinigami ready to be tested and learned.

-x-

"Are you sure we have to leave today?" Yuri asked while Konohamaru and Moegi looked at her strangely.

"But if we don't leave, then it'll be hard for us to get to Iwa. Shouldn't we use the time to look around the village and see what we can take advantage of? What's wrong, Yuri-san, you seem worried," the orange-haired girl said with a curious look on her face. Yuri bit her lip as she tapped her finger on her arm. Well, she couldn't fault her new teammates. They didn't realize the gravity of the situation like she did. Still, she'd done her best to make sure that she didn't give anything away. However, she must not have been doing a good job because Moegi and Konohamaru kept asking if she was alright. Even Isobu was telling her to calm down.

"It's not surprising why she doesn't want to go. She's Naruto-nii's girl! Of course she doesn't want to be away from him!" Konohamaru said proudly.

…well, he wasn't exactly wrong on either of those statements. Yuri sure as hell didn't want to be away from her cousin while Jashinists were in the village. She wouldn't mind cracking some of their heads as well for what Hidan did to Asuma and Ino's team. Yuri had actually been seeing the blonde for some time. In fact, she'd been hanging out with all the ladies of Naruto's former school recently. They were nice, a tad vain sometimes, but they had good hearts.

"Speaking of that, are you gonna marry Naruto-san, Yuri-san? I hope you'll invite me!' Moegi said while Yuri grinned.

"You're damn right I am, dattebayen! Still the fun part comes after the wedding!" she said while Moegi blinked.

"There's more fun?" the young genin asked as Yuri grinned.

"Yup! A lot of fun. But you'll learn about that when you're a little older," she said sneakily while Konohamaru and Moegi glanced at each other.

"You're only three years older than us!" Moegi fired back before Yuri grinned.

"A year changes a lot of things, Moegi!" Yuri said a little smugly before she felt the presence of someone above her.

"Well, in my eyes you're all a bunch of brats no matter how many years change, especially to a girl who somehow managed to burn down a shop's freezer."

Yuri grimaced as she looked up and saw Shiranui Genma looking down upon them. Apparently, one of their sensei got sick and he had to take over for them. "I fixed it and we got the mission done! Besides, who the hell keeps their food in the freezer while you need to have it cleaned?!" the female Uzumkai asked while Genma flicked a senbon between his teeth.

"So… this is what Uzumaki Naruto would be if he was a girl? The idea is oddly hilarious and terrifying at the same time," Genma thought to himself before he jumped down.

Once he stood in front of his team, he smirked. "Naruto's spent many years without you, Yuri. He can stand to be apart from you for about a month or two. Also, I hope you three have gotten enough rest. We'll be heading to Iwagakure soon. I want you all to be on your best behavior. The war between Konoha and Iwa has left many upset on both sides. I've got no doubts somebody in Iwa's gonna piss you off, but remember that you don't just represent yourselves, you represent Konoha, the Hokage, and represent Fire Country. Show not just me, but all of Konoha and the Shinobi World at large that you're worthy of becoming chunin," he said sternly.

Konohamaru and Moegi gulped but Yuri didn't seem particularly interested. Well, maybe that was the wrong way to put it. She knew what her cousin's father had done to the nation of Iwa. Though she didn't like reading, unless it was one of her bishounen novels, she was well aware of the history between Minato and Iwa.

"And if we get attacked?" Yuri asked.

Genma, Konohamaru, and Moegi looked at her. The latter two quickly turned back to their jonin-sensei. He sighed and rubbed the back of his head. "Then do what you think is right. I'll take responsibility for it, but you aren't allowed to engage first. Now, if you're done with your questions, I'd like us to leave now. Do you three have everything prepared?" he asked.

No, Yuri didn't have everything! "Nii-chan, please get married already! I could have used a good luck fuck at least!" Yuri whined before she shook her head, obviously dejected. Genma raised an eyebrow at her fallen demeanor, but he thought nothing of it. Instead, he nodded and proceeded to lead the three out of the village.

"Are your human mating rituals really that exciting?" Isobu asked. Truth be told, he didn't really get it. He always fell asleep whenever Yuri and Naruto were intimate.

"If you had a human form, you'd understand my suffering!" Yuri exclaimed while Isobu shook his head. However, he quickly narrowed his eyes when he felt a pair of malicious eyes on his young partner.

"Oi, girl. You just suddenly found a reason to go back home. You're being followed by someone incredibly dangerous. Definitely not someone you can contend with," he said.

Yuri stiffened. "What do you mean?" she asked.

"You know your Hokage, the leader of your village?" he asked.

Yuri nodded.

"She's worlds beneath this stalker of yours."


KG: You know, I could really go for a burger. I should get one one of these days. Anyway, I continuing to remember my passions for this fic. As for all the people who are complaining about Sasuke and Mikoto, then you're free to leave as I'll put your worries to rest. I've reached the limit of my own patience. Of all the things that I've written, if that's the thing that makes you uncomfortable then I question your priorities. Thank you!

KG: CREAM SODA!