Disclaimer: Don't own Naruto, but maybe one day I will own a copy of Pokemon Scarlet or Violet... seriously, what the actual hell? I started this fanfic shortly before XY and I think I even referenced buying Pokemon X in one of my early chapter disclaimers. How the actual fuck has my story lasted long enough that FOUR fucking generations of Pokemon have gone by?

(remembers I went one year where I didn't update a single time, and another year with only a handful of updates) Oh... that's why... XD

One Week Ago…

Upon returning to reality from the Kamui dimension, Obito reappeared outside of Kumogakure. The Uchiha was still for a moment as he watched a handful of the missing ninja that the Akatsuki had hired fleeing the village. A scowl developed on his face as he shook his head.

'What an absolute farce!' He snarled.

"Hey boss! Was looking for your chakra signature!"

Obito turned his head forward as Zetsu emerged from the ground. The plant-like creature took a step forward as Obito's eyes narrowed.

"Report." He nearly hissed.

"Plenty of our numbers are dead." Black Zetsu spoke-up: "I initiated a retreat order to preserve what we have left. So far, I can confirm that both Hidan and Sasori made it out alive."

"And Deidara?" Obito asked. 'Zetsu' shook his head, causing the Uchiha's scowl to deepen: "So, he's dead too…"

"Kabuto managed to get out, but he's never been one of us in our eyes." White Zetsu added.

'Of course he ended up living…' Obito took in a breath before shaking his head: 'Well, lucky for him. With our numbers depleted like this, turns out he won't be expendable any longer. He'll actually be necessary, so we can't get rid of him so easily anymore.'

"Did all of Pain's bodies get destroyed?" Black Zetsu asked.

"Yes." Obito nodded his head: "He will need to be addressed. In the state he's in now, he's useless."

"His original body is still at Natagumo Lake." White Zetsu noted. "It-"

"Of course he's still there!" Black Zetsu interrupted its counterpart: "It's not like he has the capacity to move himself far without someone's help."

"I'm not worried about him leaving, but I do need to move there sooner rather than later." Obito noted as he started to walk off: "I'd rather 'discuss' a few things with Nagato before any of our remnants arrive back there."

As Obito began to walk off in the direction of Natagumo Lake, Zetsu's eyes focused on the Uchiha. It tilted its head, studying his 'boss'.

"You aren't going to just use Kamui?" White Zetsu asked before Black Zetsu continued: "It would save you time."

"Kamui isn't particularly safe for me at the moment, and I don't know how long Kakashi plans to linger there." Obito noted: "I'll get there quickly regardless. The trip on foot there will give me a moment to think about what to do with Nagato."

"Oh?" Black Zetsu tilted its head, a smirk developing on his face: "Are you debating about killing him?"

Obito's response was to pick-up his face and start running towards the lake. His lack-of-response only earned a chuckle from 'Zetsu' as the creature sank into the ground, disappearing without a trace.

'I think I lost him…'

After running for what felt like days, Yakushi Kabuto finally came to a halt in the countryside multiple kilometers away from Kumo, ending his use of the Swift Release kekkei genkai. He remained still, making sure that he was no longer being pursued, before finally relaxing, taking the moment to catch his breath.

'Damn Yuge no Han. Damn his speed…'

Kabuto knew that the Gobi jinchūriki was fast, but he never assumed he was this fast. If it was not the newly acquired Swift Release kekkei genkai, the man would have caught him, and that was not a fight he wanted to do solo at the moment.

With the adrenaline rush of the fight with the jinchūriki over, as well as Han's pursuit finally finished, Kabuto was finally able to reflect on the invasion properly.

Of the almost perfect destruction of the village that ended up becoming all for naught.

Of the lives of formidable allies that were lost, unable to continue assisting Akatsuki.

Of the Edo Tensei that he summoned that were sealed away.

Kabuto's teeth began to grind as he recalled the final moments of Orochimaru's Edo Tensei as his former master was sealed away by Sasuke and Sakura. With tightened hands, Kabuto immediately ran through hand signs.

"Summoning Jutsu: Edo Tensei!"

No coffin rose from the ground. Kabuto remained still for a moment, his hands beginning to shake as he repeated the same hand signs.

"Summoning Jutsu: Edo Tensei!"

Again, no coffin rose from the ground. Kabuto's breathing became heavier-and-heavier as he repeated the same hand signs a third time. Once again, no coffin rose. He proceeded to shake his head, his eyes reddening.

'He's gone… I wasted Orochimaru-sama's spirit. I won't be able to consult with him anymore. I won't be able to show him my progress when I accomplish our goal… I… dammit!' His tears fell from his eyes for a moment before a scowl developed on his face. He wiped away tears quickly before hands tightened on the temple of his glasses: 'And for what? This invasion was handled so fucking poorly!'

His scowl deepened as memories of Pain's goal came to his mind – the goal of destroying all the major shinobi villages and ushering in peace. He began to grit his teeth.

'We could have handled this so much better. We were so focused on the jinchūriki and capturing them when we could have just focused on wiping Kumogakure out. Killing the Raikage, killing the shinobi, destroying the village entirely, killing – not capturing – the jinchūriki… we had the resources to better accomplish this goal, and yet we focused on this bijū project?' Kabuto took his glasses off as he began to grind his teeth more-and-more: 'Pain-sama has the wrong plan. There was a much more efficient method.'

An image of a masked Uchiha entered his mind: 'And I think I know exactly where that idea came from.'

Letting go of his glasses, Kabuto took in a deep breath. He remained still for a few minutes, focusing on recovering his energy and as much of his chakra reserves as he could within a moment. After his rest period finished, his eyes narrowed as he turned his head towards the planned meeting ground for the Akatsuki after the invasion's completion – Natagumo Lake.

'Obito… you better not have left Pain to die after that fight.' Kabuto nearly hissed as he ran through hand signs: "Swift Style: Acceleration!"

In an instant, Kabuto disappeared in a blur, scattering leaves in his wake as he rushed off.


That shout echoed through Nagato's mind as he watched through the eyes of his Deva Path as Uzumaki Naruto pulled the body towards him as he slammed an orb of chakra directly into his face. A strong, painful sensation rushed through the Akatsuki leader's mind before his eyes were forced shut.

"Argh!" He shouted.

After a moment passed, Nagato opened his eyes. He tried to concentrate on his Deva Path, to continue with his fight against the Kyūbi jinchūriki, but despite his best efforts, he was unable to connect with the body. His consciousness only remained in the bushes of Natagumo Lake, surrounded by the spiders that called the area home, and was unable to access the Kamui dimension any longer.

Naruto had accomplished his goal; the Deva Path was no more.

'No… Dammit…' Nagato bit down on his lip: 'It… really is…'

'Yahiko' was no more.

Nagato's body began to shake. If he were not already restrained to hold him up in place, he was certain he would fall to the ground. As he was positioned now, however, all he could do was simply stare forward in quiet despair.

The invasion was a failure. Akatsuki failed to capture even a single jinchūriki. Akatsuki lost so many of their strongest assets. Nagato had lost all six of his 'Paths of Pain', his tools to interact with the outside world. He had now lost Yahiko for the second time… and he has also lost Konan, as well.

'Dammit… God dammit…' He grit his teeth as angry tears began to form in his eyes. 'Konan… I failed you…'

'Pain' was a familiar concept to the man: so much so that it became his chosen identity to the world. He had experienced it before on multiple occasions throughout his life, with each passing instance of 'great pain' being greater than the last. This soul-crushing defeat in Kumogakure, with the subsequent losses of his Paths of Pain and Konan, continued that cycle; this was easily the worst pain Uzumaki Nagato could ever recall experiencing.

'I called myself the god that was going to usher in a new world…' More-and-more tears fell from his eyes as he shook his head: 'And yet, I've accomplished nothing… what kind of 'god' falls at the hands of mortals like that?'

The red-haired man bit down on his lip, which immediately started to bleed almost instantly. Nevertheless, he continued to bite down, causing blood to start pouring from his lip at an alarming rate, dripping down on the grass in front of him.

Nagato remained like that in a daze, with seemingly no end in sight. Time felt like an eternity for the man as he remained alone in his grief and despair until he sensed a familiar presence arrive at Natagumo Lake.

He shook his head, his consciousness focusing on the world around him, just in time to come face-to-face with Uchiha Obito.

"Our invasion was botched, huh?" Obito nearly snarled. Nagato did not respond, which only caused Obito to scowl in response: "Anything you'd like to say?"

"… What are you wanting to hear from me?" The Uzumaki asked.

"Fair question, to be honest. I don't know." Obito turned away, a sigh escaping his lips: "Nothing you or I can say or do right now can turn back time. This mission of ours was a failure and puts back our plans exponentially. It'll probably take us years to get to a financial and strength level where we can go back to planning from here."

Nagato, again, remained silent. Obito looked back towards the Uzumaki for a moment, waiting for the figurehead leader of Akatsuki to say anything, but the man had no words. After nearly a minute of silence, Obito simply shook his head.

"You truly are broken now, aren't you?" He asked. Nagato's eyes focused a little more intently on Obito, which earned him a chuckle from the Uchiha: "When we began working together years ago, after the incident with Hanzō, you were devastated, but I felt a righteous anger in your soul that you were ready to fight despite it. But you're different right now. You have no desire to fight back at all anymore, do you?"

"… I'm not certain." He answered quietly, his eyes moving downward: "I need time. We weren't strong enough-"

"You." Obito corrected sharply, his eyes glaring at him: "You are not strong enough. You are the one who is crippled beyond repair, with no 'Paths of Pain' to assist you. You even destroyed your last one in a petty attempt to get revenge for Konan." His glare intensified: "I thought better of you, Nagato. I never saw you as someone to lose yourself in the moment to your emotions like that. It seems when things don't go your way, you become a liability. And our goal cannot afford any liabilities."

Nagato was quiet for a moment, his eyes widening as he processed Obito's words. A few seconds passed by before he finally glared back at the Uchiha.

"If you are as strong as you're claiming to be, then I did not witness it during our fight. If you were, Konan and Yahiko…" Nagato began to grit his teeth as he shook his head. "I made a mistake in my judgment during this battle, but do not speak to me like you are superior."

"And you are mine? Because 'you're a god'?" Obito asked with a chuckle as he took a few steps forward.

Nagato's Rinnegan narrowed as Obito grew closer. Within a second, they pulsed as chakra began to release from his body: "Shinra Tensei!"

A strong gravitational force rushed forward at Obito. The force, however, passed through his body. This only caused Obito to chuckle further.

"I probably didn't even need to use Kamui to block that, did I? I know just how low your chakra reserves are." Obito noted. "Although, thanks for trying to attack me. It does prove to me what needs to happen."

"Killing me won't help you." Nagato shook his head: "Akatsuki is my organization. Our remaining affiliates won't work under you."

"But would they work with you if they saw you like this? If they saw the real you?" Obito asked, causing Nagato to bite his lip in response: "Although, you're right that whatever's left of Ame won't want to work with me, but I highly doubt Sasori or Hidan would truly care if you die. I'll rebuild Akatsuki just fine on my own." He chuckled as he reached Nagato's side. He then reached forward with his right hand, towards the Rinnegan: "Now, go rest with your 'friends', Nagato. I'll take over from here-"

Before Obito could pull the Rinnegan out of Nagato's head, an adamantine chain rushed forward, surrounding Obito's body. The Uchiha's eyes narrowed as he was pulled backwards.

He was now face-to-face with Yakushi Kabuto.

"I serve Pain-sama's Akatsuki. I will not serve yours." Kabuto stated, his eyes narrowing.

"Yakushi Kabuto, your timing is impeccable as always." Obito growled out. Within seconds, his body became intangible and the adamantine sealing chains fell to the ground. "'Pain' doesn't even exist. Are you really claiming loyalty to that man?"

Kabuto turned his briefly to look towards the 'true' body of 'Pain'. The man did not resemble the leader he had grown to know. He was a pale, red-haired man whose body was emaciated, completely strapped inside a mechanical worker, with large black receivers attached to his body. The quiet, commanding confidence that always surrounded Pain was absent and was replaced, instead, with a sense of defeat and despair. The sole recognizing factor between this man and 'Pain' was the Rinnegan eyes.

As he continued to stare at Pain's true form, the man made eye-contact with Kabuto. His eyes widened as he recognized his state.

'Just like me… when Orochimaru died in Konoha…' Kabuto's hands shook slightly, recalling his own, pathetic state in the mirror as he hid away in Orochimaru's labs in the aftermath. 'This… This is a man who truly knows what 'pain' is.'

"… Nothing changes." Kabuto shook his head: "This man is still 'Pain'. He is still our leader." He then turned his head back to Obito: "And that makes you a traitor."

Nagato's eyes widened at the declaration while Obito sneered, turning his full attention to Kabuto.

"I'm so goddamn sick of you! I should have never allowed myself to be talked into letting you join!" He hissed as he began to make hand signs: "You don't know shit, you've never known shit, and you need to be put in your place already!"

"Funny, because I feel somewhat similar." Kabuto smirked as his body began to change – his skin developing dark grey scales, fins on his hands and feet and a spiky, black dorsal fin on top of his head. "You're not the mastermind behind the scenes you think you are! You are a petulant brat who needs to be put down!"

"Fire Style: Blast Wave Wild Dance!"

"Torrent Style: Wave Crash!"

Obito breathed out a massive stream of fire as his Sharingan pulsated, causing the flame to fly towards Kabuto in a spiraling fashion while Kabuto released a large burst of dark-colored water from his mouth. The two elemental jutsu collided, creating a massive explosion that knocked both shinobi backwards from the impact.

As the smoke cleared, Obito had vanished. Kabuto tensed-up, looking around for any sign of attack.

"Use all the false kekkei genkai you have." Obito's sneers echoed around Kabuto's position: "You're going to need every trick you have in order to survive even a few minutes."

"Ironic, coming from an Uchiha with Wood Release." Kabuto replied.

Kabuto turned around in time to see a spiraling vortex opening up. Obito rushed forward, chains attached to his hands like gauntlets. The Uchiha's body quickly passed through Kabuto's before the chains connected with his neck, surrounding it and choking the man.

Obito smirked for a moment as he tightened his grip with the chains before large bones spawned from Kabuto's neck, extending outward towards Obito's hands. The man immediately pulled back, releasing Kabuto as he jumped back to avoid getting his hand skewered.

"Say what you want about all my kekkei genkai, but I do think I'm better than a one-trick pony like yourself." Kabuto noted with a chuckle as the bones receded into his skin: "You overuse that Kamui jutsu of yours, so much so that your fighting style resolves around it. But unfortunately for you, once one is aware of it and its weaknesses, you're not nearly as strong as you think you are."

"You think you know anything about me?" The Uchiha asked with a snort: "Quit acting smarter than you actually are-"

"I know plenty about you, Obito-kun." Kabuto said, a smirk developing on his face.

Obito tensed in response. He began to grind his teeth as he shook his head: "Don't say that name!"

"Why not, Obito-kun?" Kabuto repeated, his smirk widening further.

"Damn you, Kakashi!" The Uchiha growled out: "Revealing my name, and letting a freak like this learn that…"

"Oh, no need to curse Kakashi-san. I actually learned your identity prior to this invasion." Kabuto admitted: "I did some research. Discovered you had to have been an Uchiha who 'died' during the Second or Third Shinobi World War and did some digging around to find out who you specifically were."

"A 'convenient' theory." Obito shook his head.

"Do you think I'm lying?" Kabuto asked. He laughed, earning a glare from the Uchiha, as he began running through hand signs: "Then I'd like you to explain this, then! Summoning Jutsu: Edo Tensei!"

A coffin arose from the ground directly in front of Kabuto's body.

"Who are you summoning? Not a single shinobi will be able to help you fight me!" Obito shouted as he brought his hands together: "Fire Style: Grand Fireball Jutsu!"

Obito breathed out a massive fireball directly at the coffin just as it opened. The coffin then sank back into the ground as the Edo Tensei took a step forward before becoming consumed by the flames.


The Uchiha's eyes widened at the voice as his eyes now focused on the Edo Tensei.

Kabuto's summon was a young girl with straight brown hair that went down to her shoulders and purple, rectangular markings on her cheek. She wore a black top and shorts with red stockings and a pink apron-skirt tied around her waist. She had the Konoha forehead protector on over forehead and her eyes were colored black, typical of all Edo Tensei summons.

"If I truly didn't know you were 'Obito', then how'd I know to go acquire this particular asset to my Edo Tensei collection?" Kabuto asked, his laughter growing louder.

Obito did not pay attention to the man. His eyes, instead, were focused solely on his summon: "R-Rin?"

"Obito… why are you hurting me…" She spoke softly, Obito's fireball still burning onto her body. Her Edo Tensei made no effort to remove the flames and seemed focused on remaining in the blaze in pain: "Wh-Why?"

"Rin!" Obito nearly shouted as his Sharingan pulsated.

In an instant, the flames around her body vanished as Obito charged forward towards her. He then pulled the girl into a hug, nearly crushing her body as he embraced her.

"Rin… Rin! RIN!" He said her name over-and-over, his eyes starting to water.

'It's… It's really her.' Obito's mind repeated the thought, as if not acknowledging it would cause her to go away: 'It feels like her. It sounds like her. It's her!'

Kabuto continued to laugh as he shook his head. His eyes briefly moved away from Obito and Rin towards Nagato. The red-haired man was staring at the Uchiha with wide eyes, which only caused Kabuto's laughter to grow louder as he walked towards him.

"I'm assuming you didn't know about this side of 'Uchiha Madara', did you?" Kabuto asked.

Pain turned his head towards him, his eyes still wide in shock: "How… How did you…"

"Know about her? Once I confirmed that Tobi was a man named Obito, I learned about this squad member of his that he was 'particularly' close to." Kabuto noted, adjusting his glasses slightly: "Nohara Rin… she quickly became one of my most necessary Edo Tensei. Just for this moment."

Nagato did not reply, only turning his head back to face Obito and Rin. Kabuto did the same, chuckling some-more as he shook his head.

"He called you broken, yes? To the point that you had no use to him? Prepare to witness the face of someone who is 'truly' broken beyond all use." Kabuto noted.

As Obito continued to hold onto Rin, crying into her shoulder, the girl did not reciprocate his gesture in the slightest. After a few seconds, she pushed forward, knocking the Uchiha backwards. Obito's eyes, still red with his tears, made eye-contact with her dead, black eyes filled with anger.

"You… what did you do?" She stated sharply.

"Do?" Obito repeated, blinking: "What do you mean?"

"To Minato-sensei and Kushina-san!" Rin nearly hissed, her hands tightening: "You… You killed them!"

"I…" Obito bit his lip in response: "I didn't mean to cause them harm. In fact, they'll be brought back-"

"Brought back how? Like this?" Rin asked, gesturing towards her eyes: "I'm dead, Obito! They're dead! What's dead stays dead!"

"I… It won't be like this. You see…" Obito's breathing grew harder-and-harder before he finally pulled his attention away from Rin towards Kabuto. A scowl developed on his face as he began to grind his teeth: "You… What did you do to her?"

"What did I do to her?" Kabuto asked as his laughter grew further.

Kabuto placed his hand on his chest as he was overcame by his laughing fit, laughing harder than he has ever laughed in his entire life. He adjusted his glasses once more as tears formed from the laughs before he finally calmed down. He shook his head as his eyes focused intently on Obito.

"You should be asking 'what did you do to her' instead." He noted.

"What I did?" Obito's scowl magnified as he began to radiate killing intent: "I'VE DONE EVERYTHING FOR HER!"

Kabuto tensed-up in response for a moment: 'I've never experienced killing intent like this. Not even Anko-san showed this much killing intent towards Orochimaru-sama… I truly tested his boundaries, haven't I?'

Despite the feeling of dread that had rushed through his body, Kabuto managed to chuckle again: "Perhaps that was your problem."


Before Obito could charge forward, he felt a slap to his cheeks, knocking him back slightly. He looked towards Rin with wide eyes, who was glaring intently at him.

"How could you?" She demanded. "After everything Minato-sensei and Kushina-san did for us… how could you ever raise a weapon at them at all?"

"R-Rin, I…" Obito shook his head: "He's lying-"

"Summoning Jutsu: Edo Tensei!"

A coffin rose-up from the ground once again. The coffin stood next to Rin, completely sealed.

"If you'd like to face the source of her information, feel free." Kabuto offered. "Then, we can find out if I am a liar or not."

Obito turned towards Kabuto. He stayed still, glaring at the man, before shaking his head. Immediately, the coffin sunk back into the ground.

"I… I didn't want to believe him. Yakushi-san said so many harsh things about you that I couldn't believe. But then, he… he confirmed it all…" Rin tightened her hands into fists as she glared at her former teammate: "Obito, why?"

"Rin, you have to understand!" Obito shook his head again. He then reached out for her to touch her shoulder: "Everything I did-"

"Don't touch me!" She hissed, swatting his hand away.

Obito was still for a moment, his eyes moving towards his hand before moving back to Rin again.

"I… I promise you, Rin. Everything was done in order to fix this whole world." Obito said, a small, forced smile developing on his face. "Y-You, Minato-sensei, Kushina-san… I was planning on bringing all of you back and giving us all a new world. A better world."

"A new world? Dammit Obito, this was our world! I liked this world!" Rin hissed: "I don't want you to do anything to it!"

The Uchiha flinched in response: "Th-That's… things will be different once you see what this world has to offer. I promise you-"

"And is this world going to be built on the blood of our fellow shinobi?" Rin asked: "I… I heard you just tried to kill Kakashi, after all."

"Kakashi…" Obito repeated the name as he began to grind his teeth: "He would-"

Rin slapped him once again, interrupting the man a second time. The Uchiha stood still, his cheek starting to redden heavily.

"Obito, why are you leaking killing intent saying his name? He was our friend, and you want to kill him so badly that you can't even talk about him?" She shouted: "What kind of monster have you become?"

"Monster?" Obito's eyes widened once more.

The Uchiha took a step backwards from Rin. His hands began to shake slightly as he turned back to Kabuto, his eyes unable to make eye contact.

"You… You're making her say these things to me." He stated. "Why?"

'Oh? Your words lack the venom they once had. Interesting…' Kabuto chuckled again as he shrugged his shoulders: "All I did was summon her to show proof that I knew who you were before this invasion. Anything she says to you… those are her own thoughts and words. But you should know that, since aren't you supposed to be close with her? Shouldn't you be able to tell her own genuine thoughts and words?"

Obito was still for a moment, unable to focus on Kabuto's body. A few seconds passed by before he heard footsteps. He immediately took a step back, his eyes not leaving Kabuto's face.

"Stay back!" He shouted.

"I'm not approaching you, and you're terrified of me? Why?" Kabuto's chuckles grew louder once again as he turned towards Nagato: "This is the man who claimed you were too broken to be useful?"

Obito turned his attention back to the Uzumaki. Nagato's eyes were focused intently on him with an unreadable expression on his face. He proceeded to shake his head after a few seconds.

"You have no place in the Akatsuki, Uchiha." He stated sharply.

Another footstep entered Obito's ears. He took another step back.

"I said stay back!" He growled out: "O-Or else I'll-"

His words died on his lips as he felt a strong, sharp pain. He immediately choked up blood as he reached down to his chest.

The approaching footsteps was Rin. She had stabbed him through the heart with a kunai.

"Obito… I can't. I can't let you kill take more lives. I can't let you take Kakashi." Rin stated, her eyes narrowing in him. "Not while I have a chance to stop you."

Obito choked up more blood as Rin dug the kunai further into his body. The Uchiha made eye contact with his former teammate one more time. Her eyes were filled with hatred, made more apparent from the deadness of her Edo Tensei state.

'No… Rin… You can't… be…'

"Boss, you should get out of here! Now!"

From the ground by Obito's side, 'Zetsu' emerged. The creature grabbed onto Obito's body, causing him to choke out even more blood as the kunai was forced out.

"You are not welcome in Akatsuki either, Zetsu." Kabuto stated sharply.

"The organization without us is dead." 'Black Zetsu' stated while 'White Zetsu' focused his attention on the Uchiha: "We need to get out now! Come on!"

Zetsu's words echoed in Obito's unconsciousness. His breathing grew heavy, realizing his current state, and his Mangekyō Sharingan activated on instinct. Within a second, both he and Zetsu were swallowed up by his Kamui, moving to its dimension.

"Hmm, I was expecting more of a fight from him." Kabuto noted, turning towards Rin. A smile was on his face: "Although I was hoping to get a chance to kill him now, I suppose you really rattled him enough that he won't be in our way for the time being. You have my thanks."

"… Don't thank me. I… I didn't want to see him like this. Ever." Rin mumbled to herself. The cold anger in her eyes faded away, replaced with a sense of despair. Tears began to roll down her eyes as she looked towards Kabuto: "Please… never summon me again…"

Kabuto shook his head in response: "Unfortunately, I can't make that promise. After all, you were incredibly useful just now and I may need you again in the future. But for now, I can promise you temporary rest."

Before Rin could retort, her body was pulled into its coffin before sinking back into the earth, having returned her soul to the afterlife once more.

Now alone with the Akatsuki leader, Kabuto took a step forward towards 'Pain'.

"So, this is the real you." He noted.

Nagato was quiet, his eyes focusing on Kabuto's face, looking for any sign of a reaction from the man. He watched as the silver-haired man's eyes focused on his body.

Nagato continued to wait for Kabuto to say anything or have some reaction on his face. Instead, the man's eyes continued to move all over Nagato's body.

"You are disappointed, I assume." He finally spoke.

"Did I give that impression?" Kabuto asked, chuckling as he adjusted his glasses. "I'm just assessing the state of your body?" His eyes then narrowed slightly: "How long have you been in this state?"

"Sixteen years." Nagato answered.

"… How are you even alive?" Kabuto asked, shaking his head. Nagato did not answer, which caused him to sigh: "What exactly happened?"

"That is a long story." The red-head stated sharply: "One I have zero desire to sharing right now."

Kabuto shook his head again: "I'm not certain if you have a choice on that. I'm sure whatever else is left of Akatsuki will be arriving sometime today, and when they're here, they'll be looking for their leader. If you don't want to disband your organization, you'll have to explain." He then shrugged his shoulders: "So, you should probably just tell me to get the experience."

Nagato's eyes widened for a moment again. He focused on Kabuto before he shook his head, his shock fading.

"Do you intend on still following Akatsuki?" He asked.

"Why wouldn't I?" Kabuto asked: "When we spoke earlier in Tsuchi no Kuni, I told you about my goals. I told you I believed in your plans for peace. Nothing has changed since."

"You believe in my ideals." Nagato nodded his head for a moment before his eyes narrowed: "But do you believe in me?"

"Are you not Pain?" Kabuto asked.

"… I am. And I am not." He said, closing his eyes: "… Since you are looking at me this, I should let you know that my birth name is Nagato."

"Nagato. Pain. The name doesn't matter." Kabuto stated: "You are still the same person I swore loyalty to. You still possess the ideals I intend on fighting for."

"Even despite our loss today?" He asked: "Even though I am not the man you assumed I was? That I am not the all-powerful god 'Pain', but a crippled, broken man?"

"I'm not sure how many times you need to hear this, but nothing has changed." Kabuto said.

Nagato opened his eyes once more, making eye contact with Kabuto. He studied his face for a moment before he saw the image of Kabuto disappear.

In its place, instead of the silver-haired man, he saw Konan, who was nodding her head, smiling.

"Konan?" He repeated her name.

The image of his recently departed friend disappeared and Kabuto returned in her place. The man tilted his head slightly, a frown on his face.

"What about Konan?" Kabuto asked.

"… Nothing. You reminded me of her for a moment." Nagato shook his head. He took in a deep breath: "Very well, Kabuto. Let me share some things about myself."

Kabuto tensed-up as Nagato began to share with him what had happened to him sixteen years ago, when the budding organization of Akatsuki under the leadership of Yahiko came face-to-face with Sanshōuo no Hanzō.

A tear opened up in the Kamui dimension as both Obito and Zetsu stepped foot. Zetsu's eyes began looking around the area for a moment, scanning for any other presence.

"Hatake Kakashi is not here. At the moment, it is safe to be here." 'Black Zetsu' stated before turning to face Obito: "Now, Obito. What the hell happened back there-"

"Rin… Rin…" Obito mumbled, his face contorted.

Zetsu's eyes narrowed on Obito. The Uchiha was breathing heavily as blood continued to pour out of the stab wound on his chest, dripping down and forming a puddle underneath his body. Obito's whole body was shaking heavily, seemingly using all of its strength to remain standing.

"Hey, Boss?" 'White Zetsu' spoke-up. "Are you listening-"

"Why…" Obito moaned, closing his eyes.

'Zetsu' was still as Obito continued to ignore them, lost in his own pain. A few seconds passed by before 'Zetsu' pulled itself apart, White Zetsu and Black Zetsu separating from one another. The two creatures walked closer to him, both staring at his wound.

"Why hasn't his body healed yet?" White Zetsu asked, frowning: "The altered cells in his body should have healed up his wound by now. But…" The creature's words stopped for a moment as it continued to walk the blood dripping from his wound: "What's going on?"

"He's fighting it. A part of his subconscious probably wants to die." Black Zetsu said, scowling: "So, it's stalling his own healing."

"He… wants to die?" White Zetsu's frown deepened: "Then, could he actually die?"

"No." Black Zetsu shook his head: "The cells in his body will heal him. It's just taking longer than it should."

"Rin…" Obito mumbled his friend's name, tears falling from his eyes.

"Are you seriously allowing a wretch like Kabuto to get to you, Obito?" Black Zetsu nearly snarled as it grabbed onto Obito's shirt, pulling him towards its face: "Did Madara choose wrong? You knew about that Edo Tensei jutsu, and know that he can control every aspect of his summons! Why are you letting that stupid girl's words get to you?"

"That… That w-wasn't him… R-Rin… that sounded like her…" Obito replied, shaking his head: "That… Th-that couldn't have been him… th-those were Rin's thoughts… those were her-"

"Shut the hell up!" Black Zetsu shouted as it dropped Obito's body.

The Uchiha promptly fell to the ground face-first, wincing at the impact.

"We've come too far for you to be second guessing everything just because of one summon. Move past it!" Black Zetsu shouted: "The Infinite Tsukuyomi is for her benefit, so what exactly are you still doubting? Get over yourself right now, Obito!"

"You're… You're right… but… Rin…" Obito mumbled to himself, his voice growing softer: "… Rin…"

The Uchiha closed his eyes. Both Zetsu stared at him for a moment before White Zetsu rushed over to his side and placed its head on his chest.

"… Well… he's still breathing…" It mumbled. The creature lifted its head and then stared at his wound, which had finally stopped bleeding: "And it looks like he's finally starting to heal…"

"I still forget that he was only a kid when we first recruited him. This incident, along with the invasion being a failure, must have taken him back for a moment." Black Zetsu sighed: "We'll let him rest. When he wakes up, he should be back to normal. Then we can strategize with him."

"Yeah, we're going to need to." White Zetsu nodded in response: "We… we probably need to put a hold on our plans for now, right?"

"Somewhat. The world is too alert for my liking to start hunting jinchūriki again. We have many problems to address. This will take years – potentially decades – to fix." Black Zetsu stated before starting to glare: "However, we'll need to address something with Obito. If Kabuto did succeed in turning Nagato against us, then he should be our objective. We'll need to either turn Nagato back to our side, or kill him and take back the Rinnegan."

Once Nagato finished his story, both he and Kabuto remained silent. The Akatsuki leader stared at Kabuto, waiting for any visible reaction. Kabuto, however, stayed focused entirely on the black receivers in the Akatsuki leader's back.

Seconds turned to minutes as the two stayed quiet.

"… Do you have nothing you wish to say-"

Nagato's words were interrupted as Kabuto took a step forward towards him. The silver-haired shinobi walked towards his back and reached for one of the black receivers. He gripped on it slightly, causing Nagato's eye to twitch.

"And what are you doing?" He asked.

"So you felt that, huh?" Kabuto noted, rubbing his chin in thought: "Hmm. I suppose after all this time, they may be linked to your nerves. That may take some extra time, then."

"Extra time?" Nagato repeated, tilting his head slightly: "For what?"

"To heal you, of course." Kabuto answered. Nagato's eyes widened, but before he could question, Kabuto continued to speak: "But the timeline is going to take a while. Your body is damaged in a way that I've never seen. To be honest, this might take a full year. Maybe two."

"You… can heal me?" 'Pain' asked.

"I'm going to try to." Kabuto said, chuckling: "And while I'm sure it'll be hell, I feel confident I'll manage."

"That… almost sounds too good to be true." Nagato noted, shaking his head: "I've had my body examined by a few medics affiliated with Akatsuki. None were able to help in any way."

"You say that like I am a normal medic." Kabuto snorted in response as he adjusted his glasses: "I am not only a medic, but also a scientist. I'm the former right-hand of Orochimaru, with plentiful experiences in the operating room on both him and his pawns whenever performing necessary experiments." He then pointed at Nagato's body: "And you have the Rinnegan, as well as Uzumaki clan genetics in your blood. Given time, I think we'll be able to get you moving and combat ready."

"… Why?" Nagato asked.

"Because you are my leader." Kabuto said, a small smile on his face: "Plus, you and I share the same pain." Nagato's eyes widened further, which caused Kabuto to chuckle: "You remember saying that, yes?"

"… I do." He nodded his head.

"We have both been tormented by Konoha and the other major shinobi villages. You, through your village and country being ravaged by their wars, and me through forced indoctrination into being a spy. We've both lost our most cherished people: Yahiko and Konan for you, and Orochimaru-sama and Moth-" Kabuto shook his head, frowning slightly at his word choice as his eyes moved towards the bridge of his glasses: "Yakushi Nonō for me. Through our loss, through our pain, we understand one another."

Kabuto's smile returned: "You're different than anyone else I've ever served. You're not like Danzō, or Sasori, or even Orochimaru-sama. And that makes me want to follow you."

Nagato's eyes widened: "I… I see…"

Silence filled Lake Natagumo as the Uzumaki processed Kabuto's words. A minute passed by as Nagato's eyes narrowed.

"We lost the majority of our numbers during this invasion." He stated: "In addition, Obito intended on killing me before you arrived, and Zetsu has clearly chosen his side. It'll take some time for the Akatsuki's strength to recuperate from this."

"That is correct. We'll need preparation work to get the organization back on its feet. However, we haven't lost all of our resources. And we still have greatest assets." Kabuto declared: "You are still alive, your still have your Rinnegan, and I still have my Edo Tensei. We have plenty of time to regroup and reform. Plenty of time to add more kekkei genkai to my body. And plenty of time to heal your body." His hand then tightened into fists: "And then, you'll be able to achieve your ideals."

"Achieve my goals myself…" Nagato mumbled as his eyes moved towards his own body.

He had spent so many years in his current state that he could not even remember what it felt like to casually walk with his own two feet on his own, in his own body. The idea felt so foreign to me.

Nagato smiled on his face as he nodded his head at Kabuto: "Yakushi Kabuto, you have my eternal gratitude. For staying loyal to me. For giving me hope."

"Don't thank me for that." Kabuto smiled back. "Thank you for being a man who is worth my loyalty."

Kabuto turned his head away from Nagato and looked outwards, past Natagumo Lake and towards the direction of Kumogakure. He held out his right hand for a moment before closing his palm, as if crushing something. His eyes narrowed as his smile widened into a grin.

'Rest easy for now, but give it time. The next time the Akatsuki strikes, it'll be the way I want to. And none of your villages will stand a chance.'

As the moon rose into the sky, the remaining assets of Akatsuki's invading forces reassembled at Natagumo Lake. Upon their arrival, Nagato set out to meet his numbers face-to-face, with Kabuto standing at his side.

"Is that Pain-sama?"

"That looks nothing like him! That can't be him!"

"I think I recognize him!"

"No, that has to be Pain-sama! Look at his eyes!"

Kabuto chuckled as he heard the discussion between surviving Amegakure shinobi. As the group continued to discuss, he noticed two Amegakure shinobi – Ajisai and Oboro – look towards Nagato's body in adoration. The Akatsuki leader made eye contact with both, causing both shinobi to bow their heads in response.

'They recognize him. The rest will follow as well.' Kabuto noted.

His eyes then moved towards the collection of missing ninja that had survived. Amongst the crowd, he recognized Tanuki Shigaraki, who was staring off into space with a frown on his face. Standing nearby him were En Oyashiro's most prized assets – Chinoike Chino, Nowaki, and Kurama Yakumo – who were all staring at Nagato's face intently.

'Oyashiro's nowhere in sight… Heh. At least he's not a variable we'll have to work with.' Kabuto noted. His eyes then moved further into the crowd and noticed Sasori: 'Sasori-sama managed to survive as well. Good. He'll prove to be one of our most useful assets.' A smile developed on his face as he noticed Isaribi in the crowd. He made eye contact with her, who smiled back in response: 'Isaribi-san lived. That's a relief-'

"Oi, good to see you made it out alive, heretic!"

Kabuto turned his head towards his right to see Hidan approaching him, a grin on his face. Kabuto grinned back in response as the Jashinite walked up to his side and held out his fist, which Kabuto returned with a fist-bump.

"Did you doubt I would?" He asked with a chuckle: "I'm almost hurt, Hidan."

"Nah, wasn't worried. It's not your time. Jashin-sama has plans for you." Hidan answered, shaking his head. His grin proceeded to widen: "You're going to carry out so much bloodshed and carnage in his name, so there's no way you'd be going down yet."

"That's Jashin-sama's plan for me?" Kabuto snorted in response: "What a coincidence; that was exactly what I was planning on doing myself."


All the shinobi throughout Natagumo Lake stirred at the sound of Nagato clearing his throat. The red-haired man's eyes moved from person-to-person for a few seconds before he began to speak.

"I am aware many of you have never seen me in this state, so I think it would be prudent to properly introduce myself. My name is Nagato, the leader of Akatsuki." He began: "I chose the moniker of Pain, as my knowledge of the Cycle of Pain has always been my driving force. It is what the Akatsuki was built to combat. It is my goal to dismantle it through force."

"In the current state of the world, the cycle will continue onwards, and the Major Shinobi Villages will follow their same path. They came united against us here in Kumogakure out of desperation, but with time, that unity shall fade. One leader, or one action, will set things off, and war will return once again, held in the minor elemental nations. The minor villages will remain at their mercy." Pain's eyes narrowed on the Amegakure shinobi: "Ame will once again be at their mercy."

The crowd of Amegakure shinobi stiffened in response. Oboro looked away from Nagato's gaze while Ajisai balled her fists, grinding her teeth in response to his words.

Nagato was still for a moment before turning his head away towards the scattered missing ninja: "To some of you, that may mean very little. Some of you have deserted your village for unrelated reasons, and some of you actually miss the bloodshed during times of peace." Nagato briefly turned towards Hidan, who stared intently into the Akatsuki leader's eyes. The redhead nodded his head: "I recognize that, and to your wishes, I promise you all an affirmation of your desires. For the fulfillment of my desire to break the Cycle of Pain will come with the destruction of the Major Shinobi Villages."

"I wish to change this world, and twist it from a world governed by pain and hatred into one governed by fear – a fear of getting ravaged by a just god that will keep the people in line." Nagato stated, closing his eyes for a moment: "Humanity has proven time-and-time again that it cannot be expected to grow on its own. Every moment of peace is temporary, every positive change is reversible. As such, only a divine power will be able to change things. And in this moment, we shall be that divine power."

"Today, we were dealt a painful blow, but our organization will grow. We are a higher power and will learn from our mistakes. Corrupt individuals in our own organization have already been removed; all that remains are those who are capable of changing this world."

Nagato opened his eyes, his Rinnegan pulsating. The crowd of shinobi all stared intently at him as chakra began to pour from his body throughout the whole lake.

'This…' Sasori smirked as he bowed his head at Nagato's body: 'This is the chakra presence I recognize. This isn't just an empty shell of Pain; this man truly is Pain, and is just as strong as he always has been.'

"Those eyes…" Chino mumbled to herself, her Ketsuryūgan activating almost unconsciously: 'I… I believe him. Why do I believe him? Why do I believe him so much?'

"To any who have any doubts, I implore you to speak with me more about our mission. I can assure you all that the world we shall create will be beneficial to you all." Nagato said sharply: "So, I ask of all of you… follow me. Together, within the next coming years, this wretched world – run by hatred and pain, and fostered by the Major Shinobi Villages – will come to an end once and for all!"

Pain's words echoed throughout the lake. The crowd – Amegakure shinobi and missing ninja alike – were silent as they processed his words. A few seconds passed by before the silence was finally broken.

"All hail Pain-sama!" Ajisai stated bluntly, placing her right hand over chest: "All hail Nagato-sama!"

Her words started a chain-reaction as the crowd began to shout loudly in unison.

"All hail Nagato-sama!"

"All hail Nagato-sama!"

"All hail Nagato-sama!"

"Well, looks like everyone was bolstered once more." Kabuto noted, nodding his head.

"Hmm." Hidan mumbled, drawing Kabuto's attention to the Jashinite. The man stared intently at Nagato for a moment before he bowed his head: "Never felt like following a human before – a heretic at that – but your words, and the destruction you promise… you must clearly be chosen by Jashin!"

'… Whatever helps keep you loyal.' Kabuto shook his head, resisting the urge to chuckle. He then turned his attention back to Nagato. He grinned at his leader as he adjusted his glasses: 'This is the beginning of a rebirth for Akatsuki. This is your rebirth; not as Pain, but as Nagato.'

What should have been a low moment for Akatsuki – a resounding defeat that could have dismantled the organization – had done the opposite. What remained of Akatsuki had become more united than ever before.

It was an unfortunate consequence the rest of the Elemental Nations would come to understand sooner rather than later.

A Note:

1: Uzumaki Nagato. When I was first drafting this story, I had a lot of uncertainty about where I wanted to take Nagato's character development. I think Pain is one of my absolute favorite characters in the story and I think he's an even more incredible villain, especially with how he ties so well into Jiraiya's backstory and makes a great foil with Naruto that, despite being introduced well into Shippuden's runtime, does not feel like a retcon. Pain really hit a lot of good notes, especially back when I was an impressionable high schooler reading the manga as it was coming out.

Now. Pain's 'Rinne Tensei' and revival of everyone who died... I actually did like that scene and felt it gave some good closure for his character, especially since he ended up not being able to revive Jiraiya, so at the very least, some of the repercussions of his behavior would still be around while still giving him a 'death equals redemption' moment to a degree. But, I do think a lot of stories and a lot of people portray him too much as someone that could easily be redeemed. That just needed a push into being a better person

Uh. Yeah. No. I think the situation and Naruto being able to appeal to him made sense and worked, but that was as a result of very specific circumstances. And I really wanted to focus on a villainous portrayal of Pain. And then, when I learned about something Boruto, it cemented that in my mind.

I learned that Amegakure, in the Boruto timeline, was a deserted ghost town that the Kara organization set its base up. And to see that nothing had been done for the village, despite Pain's actions and motivations (and his history known to Naruto, who most likely communicated those thoughts to the other Kage) really pissed me off.

Yeah. With this story, I had no intention of ever letting Pain getting heel-face-turned. I want, for at least this story, for him to be the villain that I feel like he always could have been. The villain that Amegakure needs to get revenge for the shit it received in canon.

... Yeah. That's all. As we get closer to the ending point of this story, I'm so hyped to show off my plans for Nagato. I really hope you all like what I got planned for him!

Author's Note: Hey guys! Chapter 130 is done! :) It's actually a little shorter than I was expecting it to be. Usually, when it comes to these chapters, I end up making them longer than anticipated (to the point where I have to split the chapter into two halves... this whole arc's been filled with these cases). But this time, it was actually shorter. Kinda a fun surprise for me, at least XD

Maaaaybe I could have attached the content of this to last chapter, especially since that would have flowed better chronologically with my story, but I kinda wanted it to be its own thing. I am extremely excited to be moving onto bigger things for what's left of Akatsuki

With this chapter, the last half of events in Kaminari no Kuni is done, and I CAN FINALLY MOVE BACK TO KONOHA! THANK FUCKING GOD!

I'm cutting this author's note here, so I can go to work, but I really hope you all liked the chapter! I'll see everyone when the next chapter is posted. Until then :)