Disclaimer: Still don't own Naruto.

The Goodwill Tournament was canceled after the confirmation of an attack on Tetsu no Kuni territory. Mifune had done a good job preventing the audience that attended the ceremony from leaving in a panic, but there was still general fear in the air; samurai escorted civilians back to their homes while others went on patrol around the city, looking for signs of any more intruders.

After assuring his people were sufficiently calmed down, Mifune organized a meeting in his office. The Samurai General kneeled on the ground, Okisuke sitting to his right and Urakaku sitting to his left. Naruto, Hinata, and Yugito kneeled across from him, with Namikaze Chiasa and Masayuki a few feet behind.

Once gathered in the office, Hinata told everyone about the 'dreams' she and Neji had where Tōneri communicated with them. Mifune closed his eyes as he focused on her words. When she finished speaking, the Samurai General took in a deep breath as he brought his hands together.

"Ōtsutsuki Tōneri, hmm…" He mumbled the name: "And this man has the Tenseigan, you say? One of the secondary subjects you shinobi came to research."

"Yes." Hinata said, her voice neutral in tone: "I was unaware of his existence, though, until three days ago when he first made contact Neji-nii-san."

"You've known about this figure for three days now and did not think to alert the Samurai General?" Urakaku asked, eyes narrowing on her: "How utterly careless!"

"Oi, how was she supposed to know this guy would get involved like that?" Naruto asked, glaring at the samurai: "Especially in that first 'dream' with Neji, he didn't seem like a threat. Suspicious, yeah, but not a threat. Don't try and blame her for this shit!"

Urakaku turned towards Naruto, matching his gaze: "Something 'suspicious' should always be reported-"

"Calm yourself, Urakaku." Mifune stated.

Urakaku closed his eyes in response before nodding silently and turning to face his leader.

"Now, these 'dreams' you mention. They seem to be a concern to the Hyūga Clan. I do not fault you at all for not sharing, nor do I think it was your responsibility." Mifune continued. His eyes then briefly narrowed: "Although, I do trust you would have discussed it with me prior to you going to the Sanrō Mountain Range. The tallest mountain – Mitsunari – is named after the very first Samurai General, who is buried at its summit. It is a holy location to us and access to the general public is limited."

"We were still undecided about going at all, especially as we grew more wary of Tōneri, but I promise I would have asked first." Hinata admitted.

"Limited to the general public you say?" Yugito asked.

Okisuke nodded his head: "A temple was built there. The only people who should ever step foot there are the monks who reside in it unless a samurai is there for a mission."

"If he has taken up residence there in some capacity, then that is a grave concern to me." Mifune acknowledged: "But it is even more concerning that he managed to enter our city and attack it without detection. I find it most disturbing that he managed to come here without detection."


Before Hinata could say anything, Mifune proceeded to bend downwards, bowing towards the former Hyūga.

Everyone's eyes widened in response.

"Mifune-sama?" Both Okisuke and Urakaku nearly gasped in unison.

'I don't think I've ever seen him bow once!' Masayuki rubbed his eyes in disbelief.

"Mifune-sama, p-please-"

"It is an embarrassment that I allowed an enemy enter the village, but it is even more troubling that your cousin got roped into this as a result of my incompetence. Hinata-san, you have my deepest of apologies."

"D-Don't apologize!" Hinata stated, shaking her head. "You-"

"If anyone is at fault, it is myself." Urakaku spoke-up: "I was within the vicinity of the library when the attack occurred, and yet, I did not sense anything until it was too late. It is unbecoming for someone of my rank and I will take responsibility."

"No, I was there as well." Yugito admitted, biting her lip as she turned to Hinata: "If anything, I have even more responsibility. I… tried to get Neji to take a break from his studying to go to lunch with me. If that had happened, he would not have been there…" She grimaced as she bowed her head as well: "No, this is all my fault."

"… Please. All of you stop." Hinata shook her head: "I'm… the only one at fault. Tōneri did this to Neji because of me. Because I didn't 'take him seriously'." Her eyes began to water slightly: "I'll never be able to-"

"Enough blaming each other!" Naruto shouted, drawing attention towards himself. He then began to point to Hinata, then to Yugito, then Urakaku, and finally to Mifune: "None of you are at fault! You know who's responsible for the attack and for Neji's kidnapping? Ōtsutsuki Tōneri. And as a result, he's the only one who should 'take responsibility'."

"Uzumaki-san is correct." Okisuke spoke-up: "We should lead an assault against this man."

"… I concur." Urakaku nodded his head.

"… Yes." Hinata mumbled, rubbing at her eyes as she removed the few tears that had formed: "I… I was planning on going after him. I need to… to get Neji back. And to kill him."

"And I'm going with you." Naruto added.

Hinata then turned towards Naruto, a surprised look on her face: "Naruto, he said in my last dream that if anyone, especially you came, he'd-"

"That he'd kill me?" Naruto finished. Hinata paused for a second before he began to chuckle: "Not going to let that stop me. He's not going to kill me, and I'm sure as shit going to be by your side in case there's some type of trap!"

"I'm going as well, then." Yugito nodded her head: "And I imagine Han would as well."

Naruto nodded his head: "Yeah, I bet he'll be back to normal soon. Just got to give the Gobi a chance to help his healing."

"I will also accompany."

The group quickly turned to Mifune, who pulled himself up to his feet.

"I do still believe I share some responsibility in this matter, but regardless of that fact, this is an individual who managed to attack our capital city while I was present. I will not accept such a spit to my face." Mifune stated sharply.

"Then we shall accompany as well." Okisuke stated as both he and Urakaku stood-up.

"I… understand that all of you want to help, but I guess I should remind everyone here that Tōneri has the Tenseigan." Hinata said, bringing her hands together: "We do not know his full combat capabilities, but we can probably assume he is at least on the leader of the Akatsuki's level. This is a man above Kage-level. Are you certain you want to get involved?"

"I have never once lost to a shinobi." Urakaku said sharply, his hand going towards his own sword: "This will be no exception."

"If I turned down an assignment because the enemy was stronger than I, then that would be the sign that I need to retire my blade." Okisuke added, closing his eyes: "Any man who attacks anyone in Tetsu no Kuni, let alone someone in our capital city, has forfeited their life."

"I do appreciate the concern, Hinata-san." Mifune said, chuckling: "But do not worry about our lives. Together, we will do our part to end this man's life and get your cousin back."

"There's a lot of us who are ready to help, Hinata." Naruto said, smiling. "Nothing to worry about."

His wife was silent for a moment, her eyes moving from the shinobi to the samurai in the room. As she locked her eyes with him again, she nodded her head, smiling back.

"Right." Hinata said, tightening her hands into fists: "Then, we'll go together!"

'What… the…'

The first realization that came to Neji as he regained consciousness was the cold; he was freezing more than he ever felt before in his life. Nothing – even the few times Gai had him and his team train under a waterfall in the middle of a Konoha winter – compared to the bone chilling sensation rushing through his body.

He tried to wrap his arms over his body to preserve heat, but as soon as he tried, he was given a second realization; his hands were tied.

'What… happened… to… me?'

The last memory he could recall was skimming through the pages of another book in the library. There was a brief feeling of chakra around him – as if a great chakra force had materialized around him – but before he could even question it, his memory ended. Whatever force he sensed at the last second must have knocked him out.

"Oh? Are you awake?"

Neji heard the voice, but he could not immediately piece who it belonged to. He slowly opened his eyes as the rest of his cognitive functions came back to him.

He was in the middle of a snow-covered field in the mountains, sitting by a modest campfire. Wind was blowing heavily, spreading snow throughout the field. He looked upwards and noticed the top of a mountain; it was not far from his position and would probably take maybe five minutes max to reach the very top. The moon shone over the top of the mountain and, from Neji's perspective, the moon had never looked this close in his whole life. It almost seemed feasible that someone like Naruto that was able to fly would be able to reach the moon's surface from the top of this mountain!

"Are you alright, Neji?"

Neji turned around and came face-to-face with Tōneri. The man had a smile on his face and his eyes were, just as Neji remembered in his dream, closed.

"You…" Neji's eyes narrowed. "Wh-Why-"

Neji bit his lip, the freezing wind proving too much for him to even speak. Tōneri tilted his head in concern for a moment before a sigh escaped his lips. He then held out his right hand, creating a green orb in his hands.

"I was uncertain how you'd handle the cold. Forgive me, I seem to have overestimated the average human." He apologized: "Allow me to help."

Tōneri released the green orb from his hands, sending it flying into the fire. Upon impact, the fire expanded greatly while also releasing a blast of energy throughout the snowy-field, heating up the air around them.

Neji's shivering slowly came to an end. He was still cold, but it was infinitely more bearable. He took in a deep breath before turning back towards Tōneri.

"What… are you up to?" He asked.

"Hmm?" The Ōtsutsuki tilted his head again in confusion: "Keeping you alive. I don't intend for you to die, Neji. Your death would greatly upset Hinata, after all."

"You don't want me to die, but you dragged me all the way up here…" Neji mumbled, shaking his head: "What are you truly after?"

"Well, you have to understand. I had to bring you here because it seemed like Hinata was no longer interested in coming on her own accord. This point right here is the closest point to my home, after all. Once Hinata arrives and I get the chance to explain everything to her, I intend on bringing you both with me." He said before pointing upwards. "Up to the moon."

"What?" Neji's eyes widened in response: "The… moon?"

Tōneri did reply to Neji's statement, but the Hyūga did not pay attention to his words. Instead, information that Hinata had shared with him, as well as his own brief research into the Tenseigan, began to click in his mind.

'The Moon… it was not just the home of Ōtsutsuki Hamura.' He realized. 'While the Hyūga-line of his descendants remained on earth, another branch remained on the moon with him.'

"Why…" Neji spoke-up, seemingly interrupting the Ōtsutsuki from whatever point in his speech he was at: "Why… do you wish for us to come with you to the moon?"

"Well, if I were to be entirely honest, you're more of a concession to keep Hinata more comfortable. I also intend on bringing her sister for the same reasons, and maybe her father. I have not made up my mind regarding him…" Tōneri replied, his words beginning to drag for a second. He then shook his head before focusing back on Neji once more: "But Hinata is to come with me to become the new matriarch of the Ōtsutsuki Clan."

Neji's eyes widened in response, a strange combination of dread and disgust filling his stomach: "What?"

"You must surely have noticed, right? Hinata is too good for this world." Tōneri noted, a smile forming on his lips as he took a seat in the snow across from Neji: "She's compassionate to all. She's hard-working. Never judgmental to all the sinful people around her, even to those who have wronged her." He then pointed his index finger at the Hyūga: "Even to you."

"That-" Neji bit his lip in response, but quickly shook his head, pushing those thoughts out: "Hinata would not consent to this. She not only does not know you, she is already married to-"

"Yes, yes, I'm well aware of that wretch of a husband." Tōneri nearly growled in response, his smile fading as quickly as it appeared and turning into a scowl: "I intend on removing him and whatever hold he has over her heart!"

"… Naruto's 'hold' on her heart is consensual. Hinata will now allow this." Neji stated: "I don't know what kind of twisted feelings you have towards my cousin nor do I know why, but-"

"Twisted? Me?" Tōneri's scowl deepened: "No, it is you accursed earth-dwelling humans that are twisted! With your perversion of Hagoromo's and Hamura's wills, the bastardization you all have done to ninshū, the wars your kind has waged, the destruction you have done to the nature around you… no, I'm not the twisted one here."

The Ōtsutsuki pulled himself up as he finally opened his eyes and stared at the moon. Neji stared at the blue colored eyes with a dark blue pupil, with a white floral pattern that surrounded the pupil.

Despite the quality of person he was dealing with, Neji could not help but stare at the man's eyes with reverence: 'This… This is it. This is the Tenseigan.'

"Judgment is coming." Tōneri stated, pulling Neji out of the trance that the Tenseigan had held him in: "Whether it be by my hand or the hand of the Rikudō Sennin's successor, this world will end and a new one will be built on top of the rubble. And when that time comes, I want Hinata to lead our clan anew. I feel certain that she will the cornerstone of a prosperous future for all of mankind."

"… Surely you know that not all people are the evil beings you claim them to be." Neji said: "To punish them for wars that were not their fault, for blood they did not shed… how can you claim to be any better than those that you are planning to kill?"

"Don't try and appeal to my sympathies. The amount of evil in this world far outweighs the innocent, enough that it's not even worth considering them." Tōneri said with a shrug as he turned back towards Neji. The scowl he had on his face dropped and was replaced with a perplexed expression: "It's surprising to hear you care about this, though. I thought you would understand that there is evil in this world that needs to be purged with your situation."

"I beg your pardon?" Neji's eyebrow raised in response, frowning: "What is that supposed to mean?"

The Ōtsutsuki sighed: "I wish to have no sympathy for you considering how you treated Hinata while you were growing up-"

"How do you know-"

"But I do feel some sense of sadness for you considering the dynamic of the Branch and Main Families." Tōneri continued to talk over Neji: "What happened to your father was cruel. The elders of your clan were truly horrid for organizing it. Your uncle and the Hokage were cowards to simply allow it." His expression then shifted towards a small smile: "And, while I will never condone your animosity towards Hinata, I will admit I saw myself in your own hatred."

"… What?" Neji blinked in response: "You… saw… yourself?"

Tōneri nodded his head: "Your resentment to the fate that bound you. Your hatred for the Main Branch around you. I saw myself in how I viewed the world below, seeing all of these people destroy one another and completely ignore the wishes of the Rikudō Sennin and his brother, to the point that they became forgotten myths to the majority. I sympathized with your plight."

His smile then widened slightly: "It is how I know Hinata is truly the one. For if she were to calm the anger and rage of your heart, then she is surely the perfect partner for me. No one is more fit to be the Mother of the New World. Our offspring will never know the evils of today's humans. We shall give birth to a world that it is truly worth living in."

"That… This…" Neji shook his head, a scowl forming on his face: "You… You can't be serious! I'm not… Hinata would never-"

"If you do not mind, I intend on getting some rest. Hinata should be coming in three days and I really do need to finish my recovery." Tōneri said as he made a hand sign. "We can discuss ethics and the future tomorrow if you truly desire. But for now, rest."

"No, we aren't done-"

"Temple of Nirvana Jutsu!"

Before Neji could finish his sentence, his vision was filled with white feathers that flew around him alongside the snow. His thoughts came to a close as he succumbed to the jutsu, his consciousness fading once more.

As Naruto had predicted, Han only needed a little longer before he was conscious with a good portion of his strength slowly recovered. Once he was awake, the shinobi met with one another in Naruto's and Hinata's hotel room to discuss the updates.

"So, the mission is to find and kill this Ōtsutsuki Tōneri, correct?" Han asked. Naruto nodded his head in response, causing the Gobi jinchūriki to mimic the gesture: "I believe I only need one day of rest to get back to my full strength. If you can wait until tomorrow morning, I am more than willing to come with you all."

"We're actually going to leave in two days." Hinata said, a sigh escaping her lips: "That is when Tōneri wishes to meet, after all."

"Why wait until then?" Honoka asked as she crossed her arms: "Wouldn't it be better to get the jump on him?"

"This Ōtsutsuki guy seems to always be observing us, if the information he's been giving Hinata in her dreams is accurate. Plus, he directly got involved here in some way without detection to kidnap Neji." Yugito said, scowling: "There's no chance in sneaking up on the bastard. He'll know we're coming."

"Plus, I don't want to play around with his expectations too much. I don't want to come early and have him call off the deal for whatever reason." Hinata admitted. "Not when Neji-nii-san's life is on the line."

"But isn't your deal to come alone?" Kankurō asked: "If you're bringing Naruto, Han, Yugito, and some of the samurai, you're breaking that deal."

She shook her head: "He warned me that if I came with others, he'd kill them. That implies he's suspecting I'll bring people anyway, and that it seemingly would not affect whatever plan he has with me and Neji."

"'He'd kill them'?" Chōjūrō repeated with a gulp, his right hand going over to his head: "Are you sure it's b-best to even go?"

"Absolutely!" Hinata's eyes narrowed, her fists tightening into fists: "I'm getting Neji-nii-san back, no matter what!"

"And just because some crazy guy threatens us doesn't mean we aren't going with her." Naruto added: "Yugito, Han-nii, and I were able to fight off the Akatsuki and Pain, who had the Rinnegan. I feel fine that we can at least keep up with this guy, y'know?"

"… Are you sure it has to be just you all, though?" Risho asked: "We can definitely help get Neji-san back!"

"If we went with them, we'd be holding them back." Dosu admitted, crossing his arms. Risho turned to the tokubetsu jōnin, scowling at him, which prompted him to continue: "As Naruto said, it's safe to say this 'Ōtsutsuki Tōneri' is at the very least, on a similar level to the leader of the Akatsuki. And just like in that situation, we are going in with little information on what the Tenseigan is capable of. As such, the only people who should be going are those who could be argued to be S-Rank level."

"That…" Risho's hands tightened into fists as he shook his head: "We can provide-"

"If any of us go, we're going to die in the best-case scenario." Dosu stated sharply, causing Risho to stop talking. Dosu sighed as he looked downward: "And in the worst-case scenario, we'd get in the way and potentially get one of them killed."

"… I don't think I would have put it as bluntly as that, but he's right." Yugito noted with a frown: "This fight against Tōneri… we need only the shinobi and samurai that could be considered Kage-level fighters."

The room grew silent. Chōjūrō and Honoka both looked downwards in response to both hers and Dosu's words. Risho grinded his teeth, trying to find anything he could say to counter their logic, but nothing was coming to him.

"… That's probably true." Kankurō spoke-up, frowning: "Hell, the tournament today probably proved it. Risho and Honoka lost tough fights against probably an upper A-Rank samurai, Chōjūrō lost decisively to Mifune, and I got my ass utterly handed to me in one of the most embarrassing moments of my life."

Risho, again, shook his head: "That-"

"It means that we need to get stronger for the next time." Kankurō said sharply, causing Risho to stiffen in response: "Cause there will be a next time, whenever the Akatsuki decides to strike again. And when that happens, all villages will need to have their shinobi be ready." The puppeteer crossed his arms for a moment as he closed his eyes: "I'm gonna go back to Suna, give Gaara all the info I got on potential Edo Tenseis, and then I'm gonna get in my workshop and fine-tune all my puppets. And then I'm going to train my ass off. Until I'm S-Rank." He then opened his eyes again, looking back to Risho: "And you should do the same. To be able to do your part next time."

The Iwa shinobi's eyes narrowed on the puppeteer for a few seconds before his gaze softened. He sighed before reluctantly nodded his head.

"Understood…" He said.

"Risho…" Han reached over to his former student, gripping his shoulder tightly: "You are not far from that level. You will be ready. When we get back to Iwa… I would like for you, Roto, and even Kurotsuchi if she can spare the time to accompany me and Rōshi in training."

"… I would like that." The swordsman nodded his head.

"Yeah, we're going to have to kick our own training up several notches." Honoka admitted with a frown: "We're members of the Seven Swordsman of Kirigakure; we should be as strong accordingly."

"I-I… I don't want t-to be weak." Chōjūrō nodded his head in agreement: "We… We'll get stronger."

"… Color me impressed, Kankurō-san." Dosu admitted with a chuckle: "You've actually seem to have inspired us here. I did not think you had such a way with words."

The Suna shinobi frowned in response: "Is that an insult?"

"It wasn't intended to be." Dosu shook his head before he turned his attention towards Naruto and Hinata: "I've… I've always resented how much further behind I have gotten from you both and Shikamaru. And perhaps when I was not chosen to go to Kumo for the Invasion, I began to internalize and accept that. But no more." The tokubetsu jōnin brought his right fist into his left palm as he nodded his head: "For now, though, best of luck. Get Neji-san back."

"Hey, we're not heading out just yet." Naruto replied as a smirk formed on his face. He then gave a thumbs-up to his friend: "But yeah, we'll have him back with us!"

"Right!" Hinata nodded her head as she closed her eyes. For a brief moment, the image of Tōneri entered her mind once more: 'You'll regret this, Tōneri. I promise you, three days from now, you are going to die!'

After the meeting between the shinobi to discuss the events, Naruto hurried off to meet with his grandparents for dinner. Hinata had been invited as well, but she refused, claiming she was not hungry and instead focusing on some extra training. As a result, Naruto met with Chiasa and Masayuki alone, the three sitting at a small ramen stall close to their hotel.

"When we approached Hokage-sama with the idea of this mission, I never assumed something like this would ever happen. If I knew something would happen up here…" Chiasa said as she brought her hands together: "I'm so sorry to have put you all in danger.

"You didn't do anything!" Naruto shook his head: "Honestly, based on how he's talked to Hinata in her dreams, it sounds like that Tōneri guy was going to do something sooner or rather than later no matter where we were. Have to think he would have tried something if were still in Konoha, y'know?"

"That may be true, but we'll never know." Masayuki added, frowning: "We're still-"

"Obviously, he took Neji because he wanted to send Hinata a message. If we were back in Konoha, maybe something else could have happened to him or Hanabi. Or her father. Or anyone, really." Naruto said, frowning: "Again, don't feel bad about this. This guy… something like this was probably all going to happen."

"… If you say." Chiasa sighed in response. She then brought her right hand towards her chin, rubbing it in thought: "Although, I'm still stunned by all of this information. To think that someone with a kekkei genkai from essentially myths is alive to this day."

"I know you are an extraordinary fighter, as is everyone who will be going alongside you both, but be prepared for anything." Masayuki warned: "A man like this is surely to be much more dangerous than you could imagine."

"Oh I know." Naruto replied, his eyes narrowing: "Just cause I'm confident things will go right does not mean I'm not taking this seriously. I'm expecting this creep to be strong."

"The fact that he still considers himself an Ōtsutsuki is my concern." Kurama stated: "You humans may not have properly recorded this, but the Ōtsutsuki were otherworldly in strength. It is beyond essential that, in addition to getting your mate's cousin back, you kill this man."

'That's the plan.' Naruto replied to the fox: 'But I'm thinking that-'

"You need more than just to take this fight seriously. You need results." Masayuki stated, pulling Naruto out of his mindscape: "You can't afford to let up in any capacity. Even though this man has someone hostage…" The elder Namikaze shook his head: "You… You need to be resolute. And go in for the kill."

Naruto was quiet in response. The three did not say anything for a few moments. When the ramen chef came by with their orders, they simply ate quietly in the silence for a couple of minutes.

The silence only ended after Naruto finished his bowl of ramen. He sighed as he pushed the bowl to the side before turning towards his grandfather.

"Masa-jī-san… what are you worried about?" He asked.

The former samurai stopped eating for a moment as he looked downward. He let out a sigh as Chiasa reached out for her husband, rubbing his right shoulder.

"It's… I never knew a man who was more confident than your father." Masayuki admitted. Naruto's eyes narrowed slightly, but he did not reply as his grandfather continued: "He was never cocky or arrogant, but when it came to his own skills and his own missions, he was aware of who he was and what he was capable of. When he accepted the title of Hokage, he accepted knowing he had the capabilities of the job and that he was the correct man for the position. I…" He then bit his lip sightly: "I just know he must have been confident on that night."

'… The night when he faced off against Obito.' Naruto nodded his head in understanding. A small smile developed on his face as he reached out for his grandfather, grabbing onto his left shoulder and giving it a gentle squeeze: "I promise, I'll be okay. I'm not underestimating this. And I'm not going in unprepared. I'm… I'm going to come back alright."

"… You better." He mumbled: "We… We just learned you were alive, Naruto-kun. I don't want to have this time end like this. We already buried our son… I d-don't want to have to-"

Naruto tightened his grip on Masayuki's shoulder. The former samurai stopped talking as he turned back towards Naruto. His eyes then widened.

For a moment, he did not 'see' his grandson; instead, he saw the image of Minato. His son was dressed in his traditional Konohagakure shinobi attire and had finished his preparations for his first mission during the Third Shinobi World War.

"I'll be okay, Dad. I'll come back home to you and Mom. It's a promise, alright?"

"I'll be okay, Masa-jī." The image of Minato faded away as he, once again, saw Naruto. His grandson smiled at him: "I'll come back home to you and Chiasa-oba. It's a promise, alright?"

Masayuki's eyes began to tear-up in response. Nevertheless, a small smile formed on his lips as he nodded his head: "V-Very well. I'll trust you."

"We'll be counting on you to do so, Naruto-kun." Chiasa added: "These next few days… do what you need to do and get ready. Train, or strategize; whatever you have to do. Focus on the mission and bringing your friend back. And when you get back, we'll be waiting."

Naruto turned towards his grandmother with the same smile as he nodded his head: "Will do!"

When the 'Temple of Nirvana Jutsu' began to fade, Neji returned to consciousness. It was now daytime and, alongside the fire that was still burning strong, the summit felt infinitely warmer than it had yesterday.

As he began to look around, he noticed that the empty summit was now filled with new figures. Each figure wore dark grey cloaks over black pants and had on a black forehead protector with an insignia that resembled a yellow crescent moon. The individual 'figures' all had minor differences in appearance, but overall they resembled one another to the point of eeriness.

They were also a familiar sight to Neji. His eyes widened: 'Those two samurai in the corner of the library…' He gritted his teeth: 'Curses. I can't believe how careless I was!'

One of the figures looked over at Neji's appearance, seemingly acknowledging that he was awake. Within seconds, Tōneri appeared on the summit, his eyes closed once more as his trademark 'serene smile' formed on his lips.

"Good morning, Neji. While the sleep may have been forced, I hope you feel well rested." He said.

"… I am fine." The Hyūga stated, his eyes briefly moving towards the puppets: "Who are these people? Are they your clansmen?"

"In a manner of speaking. These are all the family and friends I've known since my father passed away." Tōneri answered: "They are the Ōtsutsuki Clan's puppets. They tend to my needs and services as I see fit."

"Puppets?" Neji blinked in response, his Byakugan instinctively activating on cue with the word.

As Tōneri had claimed, the figures around him were, indeed, lifeless. Their bodies were constructs of wood and machinery, with the only sign of 'life' in them being chakra.

"You are a puppeteer shinobi?" He asked.

"In a manner of speaking, yes." Tōneri chuckled in response: "They are efficient tools in combat. I have hundreds as my disposal. I could easily take over a village if I wanted. Maybe even a country, such as Tetsu no Kuni." He then opened his eyes, which narrowed on Neji: "Perhaps even Hi no Kuni and Konoha."

"… I have nothing to say to you." Neji hissed in response, his Byakugan deactivating as he shut his eyes.

"Are you certain? Perhaps we could discuss something different that you'd like to know?" Tōneri asked. Neji, again, gave no response. This earned a chuckle from the Ōtsutsuki: "What about the precious Kūsho Byakugan you've been researching?"

"What?" Neji's eyes shot-open once more.

"My ancestors have always been observing you humans, especially our sister clan – the Hyūga. Of course we noticed when Hyūga Shimon obtained something that none of you should have ever obtained." Tōneri stated, shaking his head: "Poor Shimon-san. I almost pity him."

"Pity? You, a man who claim to have humanity for the war and violence of a few, pity one of the men who was responsible for so much war?" The Hyūga mumbled, shaking his head: "How? Why?"

"Oh, do not get me wrong, Hyūga Shimon deserved his eventual death and I hope his soul is in torment. But still, there are circumstances of him that I find pitiable." The Ōtsutsuki noted: "For example, have you ever wondered what the 'cost' of the Kūsho Byakugan would be?"

"Cost?" Neji repeated, frowning.

"You know of the Mangekyō Sharingan, do you not? Were you aware that constant use of the eyes would render its user blind unless they were to swap eyes with a blood relative who also possessed the Mangekyō Sharingan?" Tōneri asked.

"I… am aware of the Mangekyō, but the 'cost' was something I was unaware of." Neji admitted.

He knew that Uchiha Sasuke possessed the Mangekyō Sharingan, but he was unaware of the finer details about the eye. It was a topic that Sasuke did not feel comfortable talking about in great detail and neither shinobi had a relationship beyond simply 'acquaintances'.

When – If, Neji could not help but clarify in his mind – he returned to Konoha, he vowed to rectify that and discuss this topic with the Uchiha in greater detail.

"Well, allow me to tell you that the Kūsho Byakugan is similar, but the cost is different." Tōneri noted as he brought his index finger up towards his head: "That upgrade to the Byakugan will do quite a bit of impact on your sanity the longer you use it."

"'Your sanity'?" Neji repeated.

"The Kūsho Byakugan is also linked rather heavily to one's mind. The extent of the vision and power it provides is rather overwhelming to the mind, from what I understand. Using it can put great stress on the mind, as the user constantly gets overloaded with sights and information and power only unique to its users." The Ōtsutsuki noted as he brought his hands together: "And if the user were to continuously use it, their mind will shatter. They'll revert to some of the most basic of human emotions: fear and anger. They'll simply be a weapon of mass destruction that can be pointed in any direction it seems fit; anything that it perceives as a threat to itself"

Neji's eyes widened in response. He felt his body begin to shiver in response to the Ōtsutsuki's words.

'It… It made sense…' He recalled seeing passages of how Hyūga Shimon changed shortly after obtaining the Kūsho Byakugan, becoming more paranoid and easier to anger. His aggression grew to exponential levels to the point that he would become one of the most notorious warmongers of his generation and of the Warring Clan Era in general, causing the Hyūga to have a bad reputation and make them such a target for kekkei genkai thieves that they created the Caged Bird Seal to combat it.

It made sense. 'Hyūga Shimon lost his mind through overuse of the eyes.' His hands tightened as his eye twitched: 'That… means…'

"You've realized it, don't you?" Tōneri spoke-up. Neji did not look towards the man, but he realized that he was listening, prompting him to continue: "It would be in your best interest to avoid obtaining those eyes, lest you wish to lose yourself."

'All this time… Hinata and I spent so much time looking into this upgrade… and this is what it is? This is what it does to oneself?'

"… You said the Mangekyō Sharingan had a way to reverse its effects." Neji mumbled quietly: "Would… Would the Kūsho Byakugan have a way as well?"

"Who's to say? Hyūga Shimon is the first person to have actually obtained the dōjutsu. The information I have only comes from my ancestor who observed him almost religiously ever since he awakened it." Tōneri shrugged in response: "I can say that if it involved switching eyes, he was out of luck, as no other Hyūga obtained it. But truthfully, I doubt that would be how one reverses its cost. After all, it's not an ocular cost but a mental cost. Surely a different approach must be used to fight against it."

Neji grew silent once more, processing the man's words. Tōneri stood still, seemingly waiting for a response.

Minutes passed before the Hyūga finally found his voice.

"Why…" He mumbled: "Why tell me this? About your puppets… about your plans… about the Kūsho Byakugan…" He shook his head: "What… What do you gain?"

"I already told you, Neji, that I intend to take Hinata as my bride and to enter the new world alongside her. And I have also mentioned I wish for you to be there as well." Tōneri said, smiling at him: "I am not your enemy. As such, I hope you understand that I share all this with you out of good faith. Out of my good will." He then chuckled as he brought his hands to his side: "And, when Hinata comes to speak with me about you, I am hoping you will vouch for my character and help her come to her senses; to come to me."

"… I won't do that." Neji said, shaking his head.

"I'm sure you will change your mind in time. As I'm sure she will as well." Tōneri replied with another chuckle: "For now, though, let me leave you to your thoughts. Let's talk again soon, though."

Neji felt Tōneri's presence vanish from the summit once more, but he did not properly pay attention as to where he left. He remained quiet, his eyes staring blankly into the sky, as he processed on the information he had learned.

'If I were to lose my mind… if I were to simply turn into a monster who killed indiscriminately out of fear or anger, what would even be the point?'

Two days was, objectively, not a long time. For Hinata, however, it felt like eternity.

Hours dragged as conversations blended together with seemingly no end. She recalled meeting with Naruto, Han, Yugito, and the samurai as they discussed their plan of action, and while she knew she contributed to the conversation, she could not recall anything said.

Once again, she was lacking sleep. She knew she needed rest, but she was concerned of seeing him in her sleep and, while she was ready to face him, the last thing she wanted was to meet him in her dreams again: when she was at her most vulnerable. When she actually let her guard down.

A tired sigh escaped her lips as she pulled herself out of bed once again, unwilling to sleep as she walked over to the window of her room. She looked outside towards the moon in the sky. Her eyes narrowed.

'Tomorrow's the day…' She tightened her hands into fists: 'We'll be done with you. We'll… get… Neji-nii-san… from you-'

"Hinata. Please, sleep."

She stiffened slightly as she heard Naruto pull himself out of their bed. She did not look back towards him as he walked over to her side.

"… Hinata." Naruto spoke-up again, frowning as he reached for her shoulder: "It's going to be okay. I already got plenty of sleep today, so I'll stay awake in case if he tried anything, okay?"

"…" She bit her lip in response as she tightened her hands into fists: "It's… When Tōneri has come into my dreams… both times, I left feeling…" She brought her hands to her shoulders, her lip starting to bleed as she continued to bite harder: "I'm going to lose my damn mind. He's hijacking my sleep, he's hijacking my thoughts when I'm conscious. And then there's Neji…" She shook her head: "He's… It's my-"

She stopped her words as she felt Naruto grab onto her hands on her shoulders. She was then pulled towards him, finally looking her husband in the eye.

He stared at her with such an intensity that she nearly gasped.

"This guy… this scum. This is all his fault. You had nothing to do with this." Naruto reminded her: "You did not order him to take Neji."

"Y-Yes, but-"

"And you sure as shit should not simply do whatever this guy wants just to get him back or keep him safe!" Naruto stated, shaking his head again: "We're… going to get him back the only way possible. We're going to kill this guy and bring Neji back, alright?"

"R-Right, but-"

"But you know how Dosu and the others realized they'd be holding us back if they went? It'll be the same with you if you don't get sleep." Naruto said: "It's not going to do you or any of us good if you're too tired to move or fight against him at the pivotal moment."

"I… know…" Hinata mumbled to herself.

In her mind, she saw her and Naruto back in their academy days. She saw herself standing next towards him. The two then began to move forward together, walking in the same direction. In her vision, she watched the two age – to their genin days, to their time as chūnin, to their promotion to jōnin, to the beginning of the Kumo invasion. As soon as they reached that point of history, and the two changed clothes to their wedding attire, Naruto began to walk further ahead of her. Finally, they changed appearance once more, resembling them as they are now, in their warm attire for the Tetsu no Kuni temperatures, and the gap between her and Naruto had become larger than ever before.

"… Heh." She shook her head, tears rolling down her face once again.

Naruto's grip on her shoulder ended as he reached for her waist, pulling her into a hug. She stood in his hug, not reciprocating.

"It's… I got so excited earlier, seeing myself able to compete against you, but… the gap between us… it's never just been abilities. It's also been your confidence. Your drive." She spoke before a forced chuckle escaped her lips: "You… Y-You and I… we've never been on the same level ever, have I? I… have no hope of catching up to you-"

Naruto interrupted her by pushed his forehead against hers in a light headbutt. She winced slightly as she reached for her forehead, rubbing it slightly.

"Last I checked, you managed to stand up to the elders of the Hyūga Clan and your grandfather and literally change the history and traditions of your clan, because you saw a problem that needed to be changed. And I also remember you in Shimo no Kuni calling out the Raikage on his bullshit." Naruto stated, a small smirk on his face: "I also remember you decking him in the face. Twice."

"That…" Hinata began to mumble again before she shook her head: "That's not-"

"Hinata, just because you're stressed about something, just because you're overwhelmed about something, does not make you weak or anything. It's normal, y'know?" Naruto replied, his smirk softening into a smile. "What matters is that you are able to work through those feelings, either by yourself or with someone. And you can do that. Cause you are strong." His smile then widened: "Cause honestly, you don't know how strong you truly are. If anything, you're on another emotional level that I need to catch up to!"

Hinata was quiet for a moment, processing his words. They echoed in her head for a near minute before she finally accepted them.

She the finally reached back out, returning his hug. She continued to cry, her tears falling on his back, but a small smile began to form on her lips.

"We'll… call it even, then. We're standing together then." She mumbled, her grip on his body tightening: "I… I don't want it any other way."

"Of course." Naruto grinned back in response.

"I'm… sorry to have worried you-"

"There's nothing to be sorry about." He shook his head: "You shouldn't feel bad for whatever you're feeling!" He then broke their hug, his hands moving to her cheeks, cupping them: "I love you."

"I-" She was unable to finish her sentence as he closed the distance, claiming her lips with his own. She melted into his embrace once more as she let her body answer for her: 'I love you too.'

It was not fully there, but it was a start; she was finally getting to relax for a little bit. And she was finally ready to let out some of her stress and sleep so she can be refreshed and ready for the next day to get back Neji.

As soon as the sun rose in the sky, Naruto and Hinata hurried over towards the gate to the Capital City. Shortly after arriving, they were joined by the rest of the group.

"At a steady pace, the Sanrō Mountain Range should take a few hours to reach." Mifune noted: "Scaling the Mitsunari Mountain, however, will take longer. But we should reach the summit a little before sunset." He then glanced over towards the shinobi: "I hope you are all prepared for the cold. Temperatures up in the mountains are extremely low, especially during this season."

"We'll manage." Han replied.

"Let's not waste too much time." Hinata noted, her eyes focusing on the Samurai General: "Mifune-sama, whenever you are ready. Do not worry about slowing down, we'll all keep up."

"Oh, we won't be going slow at all." Mifune replied, shaking his head as his hand went towards Kurosawa: "You're not the only one who wants Ōtsutsuki Tōneri dead. While no one died in the incident no one has ever attacked my city in all of my years as General until now, and I refuse to allow him to live another day."

Okisuke and Urakaku nodded their heads in agreement.

"At your command." Urakaku stated.

"Then, let's move out!"

With those words, the group rushed out of the Capitol City and headed north into the snowy terrain of Tetsu no Kuni.

The group moved quickly, following a brick road headed towards a village up north. They continued on this road for twenty minutes before they drifted onto an unmarked snowy trail. The new terrain did not slow them down, however, as they continued to rush through the wilderness.

As they moved further north, the snow of Tetsu no Kuni seemed to fall a little harder. After about an hour of travel, the group had entered a blizzard as they continued on their pursuit.

"I can see why you bothered to mention the cold…" Naruto mumbled, briefly shivering for a moment before he began to rub his hands together, channeling a small portion of Kurama's chakra into them.

"None of you are bothered by this, I hope?" Urakaku asked.

"Thanks to the Nibi and her chakra nature, I'm able to regulate my body temperature well." Yugito replied, shaking her head: "Right now, I'm fine."

"Same." Naruto admitted, continuing to rub his hands together as his body slowly warmed up. "I feel it a little bit admittedly, but I'm fine."

"And with my Steam Armor, I have complete control of the temperature I'm experiencing." Han stated: "Even if it should get colder, I will be fine."

"Hmm. Quite useful." Okisuke mumbled before briefly glancing towards Hinata: "And are you alright?"

Unlike the others, Hinata's only sources of warmth were the heavy cloak she wore over her outfit and her chakra control trying to help her preserve body heat. This, however, was not enough and she did really feel the effects of the weather.

She pocketed her hands deeper into her cloak as she nodded her head: "I-I… I'll be f-fine. Once we get th-there…"

"True. A battle will help surely keep you warm." Okisuke nodded his head.

"For now, though, you should focus on trying to ignore the temperature." Urakaku offered: "Think of something to distract you."

"T-To distract me…" She mumbled before her eyes focused on the samurai: "S-Speaking of, I had something I wanted t-to ask you… U-Urakaku-san?"

"Yes?" The samurai shifted his head slightly.

"W-Well…" Hinata started, doing her best to speak clearly through her shivers: "Y-You didn't participate in th-the Goodwill T-Tournament, so I was wondering wh-what your fighting style is l-like."

"Urakaku never competes in our tournaments, even when I ask him personally." Mifune noted with a chuckle: "It's to the point where I no longer invite him."

Urakaku sighed in response: "I see no point in fighting for glory or prizes. My sword is reserved for the battlefield, only."

"The tournaments also help give our civilians comfort knowing the type of samurai that truly guard them." Okisuke noted, shaking his head: "They're also good tools to train in a manner that may truly push oneself. They're more valuable than you admit."

"Hmph. That may be your opinion, but that's not how I see them and the culture surrounding them. I have zero interest." Urakaku scoffed in response before turning back to Hinata: "But you have a point; it would be wise for you shinobi to be aware of my skillset, and I of yours."

The 'Left-Hand of Mifune' proceeded to reach for the hilt of his sword. Upon touching it, the hilt started to freeze as a thin layer of ice began to form on it.

All four shinobis' eyes widened in response.

"Was that Ice Release?" Naruto asked.

Urakaku nodded his head: "My full name is Fuyu Urakaku. My clan and the Yuki Clan share common ancestors that separated paths when it came to their views of chakra. While the Yuki became shinobi and settled in the south in Mizu no Kuni, the Fuyu Clan stayed north in the perpetual cold, where our Ice Release was able to be fine-tuned into the ultimate style of kenjutsu."

"Speaking of opinions…" Okisuke noted, a small smirk forming on his lips. "I would not be so cocky if I were Urakaku-san to assume my kenjutsu was superior to other styles, but there is some truth to his words."

Urakaku frowned in response: "It is not me being cocky. The Ice Swordsman Style-"

"Is just another kenjutsu style, just like any other." Mifune noted. Urakaku's frown deepened, which caused the Samurai General to chuckle: "But his confidence is not misplaced. The Ice Swordsman Style is aggressive, and Urakaku-san's variation of it is no exception."

"Did you know there's some Yuki Clan members that are trying to revive the clan in Mizu no Kuni?" Naruto asked, a smile on his lips: "You should stop by and visit them-"

"I am not a Yuki. I am a Fuyu" Urakaku stated, taking his hand off the hilt and causing the ice that had formed to melt. "Our clans separated long enough that I have zero interest in meeting them."

Naruto's smile faded as he titled his head: "But, they have your kekkei genkai! Wouldn't it be cool to at least have some type of-"

"This conversation doesn't feel appropriate for our mission." Urakaku shook his head: "If you wish to bring this up, we can discuss after we bring back Ōtsutsuki Tōneri's head."

"… Right." Naruto nodded his head, sighing.

"For now, though, I would like to be more aware of your own abilities." He noted: "Would you shinobi be willing to share with me?"

In response, Naruto, Han, Yugito, and Hinata began to share information on their own capabilities. While they spoke, Hinata's eyes began to move from person-to-person in their group

Conversation ended once more as the group focused on moving forward. Hinata continued to shiver, but she managed to keep pushing past the cold as her thoughts continued to race in her head.

'We have a wide range in techniques. Three jinchūriki, three Sages, three different kekkei genkai, and Mifune-sama's experience and strength… no matter if Tōneri proves to match Pain, we should be able to handle this.' Hinata told herself. 'We have to!'

After traveling for an hour through the snow-covered fields of the Tetsu no Kuni countryside, Hinata activated her Byakugan in case of an ambush or trap. At first, everything still appeared to be peaceful on their path towards the mountain. It took only twenty minutes for that peace to be shattered.

"Mifune-sama… there's a village over here that's completely destroyed." Hinata noted.

The Samurai General and both of his attendants turned to look at Hinata with horror in their eyes: "What?"

At the base of the Mitsunari Mountain was the remains of what appeared to be a small village just a few kilometers away. She could see buildings collapsed and destroyed. She saw piles of bodies lining the paths of the village with the snow covered in blood. The only sign of visible life were a few scattered elk that were running around the area in a panic.

As Hinata recounted what she saw, she saw a mixture of different looks on each of the samurai. Both Urakaku and Okisuke were disgusted with each word she said while Mifune appeared to grow angrier, his hands gripping his sword tightly.

"That's a small hunting village named Kaiketsu. I know plenty of good folk who live out there." Mifune noted, shaking his head: "Unforgivable."

"This, too, is the work of Ōtsutsuki Tōneri, correct?" Okisuke asked.

"I mean, I don't know, but I'd have to imagine." Hinata replied. "The mountain is right there, after all. Maybe someone saw him coming and he killed them to prevent word spreading before he made a move?"

"… His death will not be peaceful." Okisuke noted with a scowl: "I can assure that."

"This makes no sense, though." Urakaku shook his head, a growl escaping his lips: "We had samurai posted there, as a response to Jashinist attacks in our country. I'm sure they could have sent out message of the attack in time; how did this attack happen without anyone hearing of it?"

"Perhaps this was a recent attack. Perhaps he attacked the village to intimidate Hinata-san and anyone who came to assist." Mifune said as he gritted his teeth: "Okisuke-san is correct. This man is going to die-"

"Wait." Hinata interrupted, her eyes widening as she focused on the village: "There's… that's impossible!"

"What's impossible?" Mifune asked.

"There's…" She bit her lip in response before continuing: "There's people at the village moving towards us. Almost an army."

"An army?" Han repeated the word before shaking his head: "I thought you said there was no life there."

"There isn't! These… 'people'… I don't see any signs of life in them. I only see chakra and-" She stiffened as she reached for her bow: "They're gaining speed!"

Naruto, Han, and Yugito proceeded to activate their Bijū Cloaks while Mifune, Urakaku, and Okisuke all drew their swords. Naruto, Hinata, and Okisuke then closed their eyes as they began to channel nature energy. After a few minutes passed, the three opened their eyes, Sage Mode activated.

"I… I feel what you mean." Naruto admitted, his hands tightening into fists as he began to channel chakra: "They're really close. I can sense the chakra coming, but there's nothing else to them. It's…"

"Unnatural." Kurama finished in his head.

"Well, Hinata, it seems you did bring company. I suppose you don't mind a few needless deaths."

The group tensed as a bright green light shined directly in front of them. As the light faded away, an image of Ōtsutsuki Tōneri stood directly in front of them. He briefly glanced at the other shinobi and samurai with a look of disgust before turning towards Hinata, smiling at her.

"Tōneri!" Hinata's eyes narrowed back as her grip on her bow tightened: "Where is Neji?"

"On the mountain-top, waiting alongside me." Tōneri replied, his smile widening: "I should clarify; this is not my original body. This is only a chakra projection of mine." He then turned his attention towards Okisuke, who was currently channeling his nature energy into his sword: "So if you attack me, all you're doing is wasting your precious senjutsu chakra."

"Monster." He hissed.

"Ōtsutsuki Tōneri, you have attacked my country on at least two separate occasions." Mifune stated sharply: "You will atone for these sins with your life."

"Oh, you are at least three decades too early to try and take my life." Tōneri chuckled: "Regardless, I don't care about you. Or the others here. I am here to speak with Hinata. The rest of you scum can stop here."

On cue with Tōneri's words, the Ōtsutsuki Clan Puppets could be seen approaching from the horizon. The majority ran forward at the group while a few others flew towards them on the back of other bird-shaped puppets.

"There's at least a hundred of these…" Han noted, his hands tightening into fists.

"And the amount of chakra they have is ridiculous." Yugito added as she held out her hands, her claws extending.

"My puppets are on orders to ignore you, Hinata. They will keep your company busy, though. Maybe one or two will survive, but I doubt it." Tōneri noted before his eyes briefly narrowed on her: "You should begin your ascent towards the summit of the mountain, though. I have been a patient man with you and I do not wish to harm your cousin, but keep me waiting too long and you might force my hand."

"Don't you dare-"

Hinata's words died on her lips as Tōneri's projection faded away, disappearing in a green light.

All that remained were the oncoming Ōtsutsuki Puppets, who were each channeling chakra in their mouths.

Author's Note: Well, chapter 143 is up. Not sure how long it'll take me to get the next one up, but hopefully it'll be sooner than this...

Sorry again. I'll be back as soon as chapter 144 is ready. Until then!