Rippling Future @airheaded_dude
Phantom

Chapter Thirteen: Phantom


Tsunade looked on in trepidation as she held her anxiety back in front of Konoha's hospital. The reason being, she was afraid that she had to confirm a death that her mind would practically not accept such grim tidings.

Three days ago, she had received a report that Uzumaki Naruto was killed in the midst of his kidnapping. The culprit was none other than Akatsuki. Specifically, Uchiha Itachi and his partner, Hoshigaki Kisame were the one responsible for this whole mess. She had to hold back her anger. It would not be fitting for the leader of the village to look so emotionally distraught.

She had been asked by Kotetsu and Homura to at least try and perform an autopsy as she was the best in the business. But being the one to perform such a thing was cruel even for her. She had seen enough loved ones die to practically lose it. She had succumbed herself into the paperwork of dealing with the village. Her mind was so laden in distraught that she had tried to immerse herself in her work saying to herself that she had to mentally prepare for this event. She could not take it if the person she saw as her son would die so abruptly. She had to be ready, she had to strengthen herself.

Jiraiya had come back a few hours ago, furious and out of his own thoughts. He was less reserved on what happened and had stormed out of the office to vent his rage outside the village. Tsunade had envied her former teammate; he was much freer to let out his emotions than she ever could. But she had to be strong, she had to make sure that she stood up to the examples of the previous Hokage and like Naruto, she couldn't back out of a promise she had made to herself and to the loved ones that perished before her.

Kakashi had the unfortunate job to be the messenger for Iruka.

As she finally mustered the courage to enter the building, she was met with the gazes of the hospital staffers who were looking at her and soon went back to their duties as Tsunade wordlessly made her way to the morgue.

The sound of her footwear hitting the tiles were all that they could hear as the doors to the morgue were opened with an audible creak before closing behind her, blocking anyone from view as she made her way to the dead boy that was formerly known as Uzumaki Naruto.


Yakiniku Q:

Everyone was quiet. Shikamaru noticed his peers looking much more sombre than usual, and some were even missing. He noted that Sasuke was nowhere to be seen as well as Hinata. But aside from the missing two people, everyone was in attendance, even Lee, who was discharged just recently was present. He was out of his crutches now, and he walked fine.

Out of all the people in this circle though, the one who looked most distraught was Sakura. Her hair was dishevelled. Three days of losing sleep had made her eyes baggy and puffy from the traumatic events of the past three days. Her hands were on her head, stroking back her bangs as she held it in a tight grip. Ino was trying her best to console her.

"Sakura, please, don't take Naruto's death as your fault. We've been over this. Naruto wouldn't want you to blame yourself for something you had no control over."

Chouji nodded as he said, "Ino's right, Sakura, don't lose sleep over this. We're all here for you and Sasuke."

Sakura could only reply in a bitter laugh, "You wouldn't be saying those words if you have all heard what Naruto said to us before he… He…"

Sakura had once more cried as she held her eyes, "The things that I had done, the things that I tried to accomplish, all of those were of my own selfish accord… Even in the end, I couldn't do anything, I couldn't save a teammate and now Sasuke has decided to close himself off further and further away from us… That idiot didn't even curse me in his last breath. Didn't even utter a bad word to me in his final moments, all I could think about, was how effectively useless and cruel I was and how futile it was for all my training and knowledge that I couldn't save him. I should have been more empathic with him… I should have tried to understand him."

Shikamaru scowled at this, "What did you learn, Sakura?"

Sakura couldn't say a word as she continued to cry.

"You learned about his greatest secret, didn't you?" Shikamaru asked. To this, the rest of his peers turned to him with a questioning look. Sakura nodded.

"Shikamaru, what are you on about?" Kiba asked, beating Ino to the punch as Shikamaru sighed and closed his eyes.

"It would be useless to keep hiding this from you, seeing as Naruto is gone. But I have to ask you to keep your heads at an even level. I don't want you to all look at this village in a bad light because this would be an insult to our friend, who despite his status, loved this village deeply and called it his only home. This is my only request."

They all looked at each other, wondering what Shikamaru was talking about but decided to nod anyway.

"Make sure you mean it then." Shikamaru commented as he looked upwards.

"I learned his secret two months ago, during the invasion. Asuma-sensei had accidentally stumbled on his words and from there; I had to piece every little bit of information together, thanks to Shino's dad."

Then, Shikamaru began his tale. He was concise, to the point and spoke out factually thinking of the details that he could vaguely remember as the minutes go by, reliving that moment in hell two months ago. He had then grabbed his glass and drank the water as he sighed once more.

Many of his peers looked on in solemnity and surprise as Shikamaru told them about the status of Naruto being a jinchuuriki, a person who is essentially the village's deterrent for war.

Ino had turned to her teammate and asked, "How long have you known this? Why keep this secret from us?"

"Because Naruto was afraid that we would all treat him the way the adults did when we were younger." Shikamaru answered. At least that's what he could come up with, trying to rationalize Naruto's actions about being the container of the Kyuubi.

"Nobody deserves such an unlawful treatment." Lee commented, looking down as his fists were shaking with rage.

"Calm yourself, Lee. It would not do well for us to stir trouble in the village." Tenten reprimanded by firmly holding her teammate by the shoulder.

"I completely understand you but this…"

"… Is deplorable, I understand but we must remain calm. Why is this? Because as Shikamaru has stated, lashing out against the village would be an insult to the memory of our fallen comrade." Shino replied pacifying the more emotional members of their little group, Kiba scoffed at this.

"To be treated like shit is something I don't just let go, lying down. Naruto may have been forgiving, but I sure as hell am not."

It was then that Chouji spoke out against Kiba's opinion. He knew he was just as affected as much as anybody was in the room, but he knew Shikamaru was right.

"Kiba, listen to yourself! What's a genin supposed to do against someone like Asuma-sensei or Kurenai-sensei? Do you think that they would be in on this just because Naruto was mistreated? Do you think you'll be able to look at Naruto in the eye one day if you try to make things your way and suddenly get killed? No, you won't! You'll be swatted like a fly!"

Kiba stood from his seat and looked at Chouji with a scowl, "I dare you to say that again to my face, fat-"

"That's enough." Neji had decided to cut in. Both Chouji and Kiba had to stand down, they both respected Neji for being a genin strong enough to put them in their place.

"I understand all your concerns, but we all need to look at this tragedy as a reminder of how fleeting our lives are as shinobi. Naruto fought well, but even then, he was killed by those stronger than him, Jinchuuriki or not. But he had told us what we must do before his death."

To this, the Hyuuga turned to Sakura and said, "I just have one thing to ask, Sakura. Answer me before I choose to go."

Sakura didn't respond, but Neji asked anyway, "Did Naruto fought to his dying breath? Did he continue to struggle even with those odds?"

Sakura could only give him a wordless nod.

"Then that's all the answers I'll need. I must go now, training awaits and I will improve to the point that no limits can ever restrain me. I will be a Hyuuga that defies fate much like how our comrade fought and decided his. This will be my way of honouring his sacrifice. I may not see this village the way that he does, but I will respect his wishes."

With that, Neji decided to walk out of the restaurant and soon enough, Lee spoke as well.

"I am strong for I worked hard. I am a rock and I'll see to it that I remain strong, I must sustain my fortitude if only to not let a tragedy like this happen again. Naruto-kun has encouraged me to keep fighting and if obtaining strength is the way to honour him, then I shall follow Neji's example!"

With that, Lee followed suit.

Tenten bowed her head to her juniors as she said, "Sorry, I have to go. I have two boys that need to be watched over and I can't do that if I couldn't keep up with them. Be strong, everyone. Especially now that this isn't all fun and games anymore."

With that Tenten followed suit, leaving behind six of the rookies at the restaurant.

Ino could see Sakura still crying as she held her best friend as support. Shikamaru clicked his tongue as he looked outside.

"Sakura, I want you to take me to Sasuke right now."

"Why?" Sakura asked, Shikamaru answered promptly.

"In order to stop both of your emotional train wrecks, I need to give both of you a way to snap out of this. Right now, both of you are in a bad shape. Your team will really do fall apart if this continues."

"Why be concerned about us?" Sakura asked, Shikamaru gave her answer that had convinced her.

"Your team was the closest thing to a family that Naruto has ever had."

The boy then looked outside as dark clouds littered the skies and he closed his eyes in silent mourning.

"If your team falls apart now, then Naruto's last refuge will be gone."


Hyuuga compound:

The youngest of the main house siblings had never really understood the pain of loss. She had known of their mother's passing only by the stories shared to her by her nurse maid. She was far too young to even remember what happened back then being just a new born. Such a loss meant little to her as she had not experienced fully her mother's love much as she wish she could just like her elder sister. But her elder sister was much as dear to her as would a child to a mother. Hinata was the closest thing to a mother that she could have and for that, her elder sister was enough.

She had seen her elder sister's motivation sky rocket these past few months and could see that underneath such a kind and loving exterior stood a fierce lioness. Just as she was admiring her beloved sister more and more, her fire was quickly snuffed out. She had returned two days ago, shocked, out of herself and generally unresponsive to the many people that was around her. Their father had told her to leave her sister for a while as coping with loss is one of the things she must overcome on her own.

She could not understand why Hinata looked so devastated at the death of her friend, a loved one as what her mind could only equate to for she had never experienced such a deep and devastating loss on her own.

Hanabi silently stood by the front door of her beloved elder sister. She had been waiting for several minutes, unsure of what to do that moment and hesitating if she should come in or not.

Hinata had not eaten since the moment she arrived. She was getting worried. Her sister did not succumb so easily on the many hardships of what life threw at her.

Does losing a loved one cause this much sadness to someone?

Their father was silent on the whole matter, often secluding himself in his office but not being productive. The man was looking out of his window, as if he was very deep in thought. He would occasionally glance at the pictures that lay in his desk and would linger much longer on the image of his late wife.

Their mother…

She had asked Neji how difficult it was to losing someone that they loved and Neji answered with something she could not immediately grasp yet.

"What you ask is difficult for me to answer, Hanabi-sama. Though I have experienced such a loss, no words can ever truly escape me as to how such a thing can be explained. It is unfathomable and at its very early ages, unbearable."

But she wanted her beloved sister back! She wanted to see her sister again! So she resolved herself to come and see her beloved sister in her room!

As she was about to reach at the door, Hiashi had beat her to it and spoke outside.

"Hinata, I wish to speak with you."

His eldest wordlessly opened the door and Hiashi gave a silent nod.

Hiashi knew that his eldest only relented because of him, if it were anyone else, then Hinata wouldn't respond.

He looked at his eldest, head cast down, hair messy and clothes wrinkled. He knew of this pain better than his own daughters. That is why he had to be the one to speak to her about it.

It would not do well for Hinata to just give up and let go of the progress and life that she had been given.

"Clean yourself up, my daughter. We are going somewhere."

Her eldest finally spoke, "To where, father?"

He answered her truthfully, "To visit your mother."

Hinata gave a wordless nod and moved towards her washroom. Hiashi went outside and closed the door behind him. He turned his attention to his youngest and said to her, "Hanabi, it would be best for you to come as well."

Hanabi gave a wordless nod and turned her back from her father and immediately scampered towards her room.

There were times that strict discipline was merited for his children and then there were times that now more than ever and that he would give his children the much needed report.

It was a duty of a parent to keep pushing their children in different ways as kind or as stern as possible that Hiashi would act as a parent.


Uchiha Compound:

Wordlessly, the six former classmates entered the silent and hollow district of the Uchiha compound. This was the place where a heinous crime happened. Wherein in a span of just a single night, the Uchiha were almost wiped out save for Sasuke and Itachi.

Thinking of the name of Sasuke's brother, Kiba couldn't help but growl and boil with rage.

Pack instincts indicated that you should never betray your comrades for superfluous reasons. It didn't sit well with him, or with anyone for that matter, that Itachi killed his entire family save for Sasuke in cold blood and torture the only exception that still lived to this day.

It would be much more impactful now, seeing as his recent exploit struck closer to home.

Needless to say, if he disliked Itachi then, he would most certainly and utterly hate the man now for his actions.

Sasuke may have first dibs on the guy, but Kiba was amenable for having a share.

When they made it to what they know as Sasuke's home, the first to knock was Shikamaru.

There was no response.

Annoyed that he would be snubbed, Shikamaru was about to knock again, when he heard the sound of a thousand birds chirping from behind the last Uchiha's house.

"He's venting." Shikamaru commented, Sakura gave a nod and looked down.

"He's been doing it for the past two days ever since we got here."

"Why?" Ino asked to Sakura as Chouji interjected.

"Could it be that he's blaming himself for not having done a thing against his brother?"

"Or he's getting antsy that he wants to train so hard so he could catch up sooner." Kiba gave a response as he clenched his left fist.

"If a friend dies at the hands of my sworn enemy that is difficult to beat, I know I would." He continued

They then heard the sound of granite exploding and the six of them began running to the back of Sasuke's house just to see what happened.

Once they reached the place, they saw pieces of rubble scattered about, some trees were burned or toppled even bisected laterally while two rocks had holes the size of a person. In front of one the destroyed rocks stood Sasuke, his back turned against them, as if he wasn't even acknowledging their presence in his property.

"So this is what you've been doing for the past two days." Shikamaru commented

Sasuke never answered, instead he merely turned around. They could see the signs of dirt and grime spread over his clothes and face. He wasn't wearing his forehead protector as he frowned.

"What are you doing here at my house?" He asked tersely.

"Nothing, I was just wondering why you've closed yourself off once again." Shikamaru commented, Sasuke merely scowled as he turned to the tall slab of stone that stood at his front and looked up.

"Whatever it is you think about me, I don't give a damn and whatever it is that I feel is none of your goddamn business. Now, fuck off my property before I boot you all out."

Kiba didn't like the tone of Sasuke's abrasive dismissal, "What the fuck is your problem, Sasuke? We're all concerned for your team and you go acting like an asshat!"

"Well then your concern is not needed. I'm fine on my own."

"Says the idiot whose idea is destroying his own backyard to vent..." Shikamaru trailed off.

Sasuke didn't seem to take it kindly. He growled when he turned to see Shikamaru. His eyes slowly turned red from his own anger at those words.

"Get. Out." Sasuke was gnashing his teeth in cold fury, he was ready to beat this team down to a pulp as he could feel drops of blood coming from his mouth and unnoticed by him, his eyes.

"I'm not budging an inch here, Sasuke, not until we talk about this. Preferably, now is the time." Shikamaru replied as he looked at Sasuke straight in the eye.

"I've lost my family, my clan and my friend to a monster who takes pleasure in my suffering! You don't know what it's like to have both the guilt and the fury of having to carry this for the rest of your life! YOU HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA!"

His sharingan slowly began changing form and the boy grunted in pain as he held his right eye. Red and black swirled as it formed a six pointed star.

"Every single day is a painful reminder of the life that I once had and how it was taken away from me by a madman's quest for power! Do you think I would feel okay if I were in my own team after what happened!? Are you fucking with me, Shikamaru?"

Shikamaru thought he was going to have to fight off this Sasuke, but he remained calm and not once did he remove his hands in his pocket.

"So you're okay to see the people that remain and who do care fall apart, too? That same amount of people who Naruto had genuine care for? Those same people that had watched him die?" He asked and to this end, Shikamaru pointed to Sakura who was looking at him with wide almost scared eyes. Sasuke calmed down and relented as he clicked his tongue and turned away.

"You're not the only one suffering." Chouji interjected.

"We all are, Sasuke. It hit us hard too. So much that thinking about this organization that your brother joined in makes every drop of my blood boil in anger. After the treatment he got from this village, it makes it even more angering. I can't think straight, I want to tear something apart. But unlike you, I don't have your talent and I don't have your skill so I have to remain calm and find a way around my weaknesses. But you're squandering yourself away, looking for power that can't be given to you immediately. So fuck you if you think Naruto's death hasn't affected us! You're not the only one who's hurt, Uchiha." Kiba said as he looked around, the arid heat from the embers of the smoldering trees mixed with the cold winds crept up to their skin.

"You've been given something better, Sasuke-kun. Naruto entrusted you with his request to give them hell. But your way is not and will not work. If you want to beat Akatsuki and avenge everyone, you have to work with us." Ino added as she held Sakura's shoulders, giving her a nod and gently pushed her forward, urging her to speak.

Sakura looked at Sasuke in trepidation but nonetheless spoke to her remaining teammate.

"Sasuke-kun, about what happened to Naruto, I'm sorry. I wasn't good enough." Sakura said as tears began falling from her face once more.

Sasuke's hazy vision of rage slowly decreased as he looked down. The grip of his anger slowly trickling down as he saw his only teammate left speaking to him.

"If only I had the skills of a good medic, he'd probably be still alive today… He'd probably be here, bothering you and throwing insults at you instead of you lashing out, instead of just waiting for Kakashi-sensei who was always late… I wish I could've saved him." She said between sobs.

"But I couldn't! I wasn't good enough! He was bleeding everywhere and all I could've done was prolong his suffering! But please stop pushing us away, don't lash at everyone just because they care… It's not for you to carry on your own."

Sasuke turned his head away and closed his eyes.

"I don't blame you because you couldn't save him." Sasuke then looked at the stone before him and punched it with all of his might.

"I blame myself for not having the strength enough to stop Itachi."

"Sasuke…" Shikamaru then was about to step forward but stopped when Sasuke said to them.

"No, not another word… I just want all of you to go away, now. I want to be alone." Sasuke then turned back and went home, unmindful of the blood that was dripping in his hands.

"Listen here, I've just had about enough of your emo shit…"

As Kiba had said, he had enough of Sasuke's attitude. Everyone was grieving and none was hit more so than Team Seven and Hinata. He knew it was terrible, but Sasuke acting like a complete jerk was not something he would slide.

He was about to approach Sasuke when Shino grabbed him.

"Everyone has different mechanisms of coping. Do not think for a second that Sasuke is pushing everyone away immediately, Kiba. We must give him time to arrange himself or else he will fall apart." Shino had warned him. Shino never did that, he never immediately asserted control over his teammates and merely gave small quips of advice. Kiba knew his teammates well enough. He knew that when Shino intervened, it was something much more serious.

Chouji then spoke to them looking crestfallen. Perhaps out of the entire rookie nine excluding Hinata, Chouji was much more empathic than the rest of them were, "Let's go, this is all we're going to get through with Sasuke. We have our own lives to be worried about as well."

With that, the six of them left the compound as Sasuke went inside his house and the blood that seeped from his eyes went unnoticed.

'This isn't about revenge anymore. This is about keeping the things of what's left with me going. One day, I'll stop Itachi and once I do, I'll be able to face my family and Naruto with a proud face.'


Konoha cemetery:

Hiashi had asked himself how long he had gone and visited his departed wife ever since her death. His guess was that not that many or even not at all. The pang of loss had hit him so hard back then that he had buried himself in work, retreated within himself to make him stop grieving.

Hiashi may have known that they were married out of convenience, but he knew that when he had lost his wife, he felt a part of him died with her.

Lady Hikaru Hyuuga had touched his life as much as he had hers.

As the three of them lay standing before the grave of his wife and Hinata and Hanabi's mother, Hiashi couldn't help but close his eyes in regret and thousands of apologies as he spoke.

"When Hikaru and I were wed, we were wed out of convenience. The clan had decided that we should carry out this marriage in order for the benefit of both of our clans."

Hanabi and Hinata looked at their father before looking at their mother's grave once more.

"I had thought that the marriage would be loveless and just a way to secure the next heir to our family. Your mother and I weren't even given a choice at the matter but we both knew that it would be for the best of both worlds so we had agreed."

Hiashi sighed as he spoke, "But I was wrong. As time grew, so did our affections. Back then we would just meet each other out of duty, but we genuinely grew to care for each other. A casual dinner turned to something more meaningful and I grew to love your mother not just out of convenience. I can never speak for your mother, but she would return what little affections that I could give to her gladly with a smile. She was considerate of our situation and I have grown to love her for it."

"When she died, I could not face reality that she was gone. Her death had affected me more than my brother's. It is the kind of pain that will never heal but one thing that I will carry for the rest of my life."

Hiashi kneeled down and caressed the tombstone with his wife's name. Away from his children, he gave a soft smile as the deafening silence of the graveyard echoed throughout the place.

"When one perishes, they take along with them, the hopes and dreams of other people. When your mother died, she took with her my love. It still rings true to this day, that her loss is a pain I have not recovered from. It will be hard, but we must remain strong. Your mother may have died, but I will carry this pain for as long as I live. That is why we are shinobi. For her sake, I will carry this pain and endure. Much like how you two must understand and much as how your cousin Neji has come to an understanding."

Hinata had always known her father a distant figure in her life. He was stoic, stern and can be heartless. But she knew that stern parents sometimes meant well. For all her father's faults, she could not find any reason to hate him. He was her father after all, the one that brought her to this world, the one that gave her the chance to live and experience life even if it was harsh. He had taught her much as how Naruto did, and that she must endure.

For Naruto's sake and for those still alive with her, but she could not hide the fact that she now had a growing resentment to those that denied Naruto of his future.

If Sasuke could become an avenger meant to kill one person, then she would be the one to destroy every living trace of those that killed Naruto.

This was her vow.


Unknown location:

A dreamless sleep, darkness was all that plagued him. Everywhere he turned, every area he had walked, nothing but the pitch black scenery was present. He saw nothing, could hear nothing, nor could he feel anything.

He couldn't even feel himself, his perception of time was eschewed. He hadn't known how long he had been walking in this empty place. Nothing escaped here, not even his own visage was there. He walked in silence, his did not know where, but it was better than doing nothing, drifting off in nothing. Seconds turned to minutes, minutes to hours, and hours to days. At least from what he could gather.

His mind was not working properly, as if stripped and left with nothing but the bare bones of his instincts.

All his mind could tell him was walk and walk he did. As he traversed this nothingness into who knows where, into oblivion or into something, he cared not. As long as he saw something and felt something, he would be fine.

Then, a glimmer of light, warm, bright red and orange flickered at his periphery, he turned around, and saw a torch upwards as a flight of stairs materialised beneath his feet and to his front, spiralling all the way to that simple light.

He began scaling up the stairs, going up as he did so. His simple and calm walk became brisk, and his brisk walking turned to a jog then to a sprint. He could feel his mind beginning to hasten, he could see his arms, his legs, everything about him. He could see, he could hear, he could feel!

That small glimmer of light soon began multiplying, lighting a hallway that was once pitch black. He continued to run, run until his legs give out, and run to something that could lead to anything.

Anything but this empty, black and hollow place…

A screen let go of a static connection until it stabilized and showed the face of a bandaged man on his forehead and encircling the right part of his said face.

"What is the current status of the jinchuuriki?" He asked, the mask wearing person sitting in front of him holding a chart replied in a monotonous tone.

"Brainwaves are starting to indicate movement, most likely he is in REM state as opposed to absolute nothing from a few days ago. He has absorbed the cells of Shodaime-sama well throughout the procedure and there are very few traces of it in his body. The seals expert has also notified that the Fourth Hokage's seal on the jinchuuriki's stomach is stable. We do not know the reason why it appears so but we are further looking in to any possibility of Uchiha Itachi tampering with the seal."

The man gave an amused smirk slightly as he turned his vision on the glass container holding the jinchuuriki. There, Uzumaki Naruto lay naked as the day he was born. The most surprising thing though, were the patches of ashen grey spots that littered his torso, a mark as the scar of brutality that Hoshigaki Kisame inflicted on him and suspended in liquid that he had otherwise learned the composition of from Hiruzen's former student, Orochimaru. It helped contain highly unstable test subjects that had been infused with gene altering properties like his cursed seals or the cells of the Shodaime Hokage.

"That boy has done well for the sake of Konoha. The spirit of a true shinobi truly does seep into his very veins like liquid fire." To this, the man chuckled. Danzo was pertaining to Itachi's unbreakable loyalty to Konoha's ideals.

"He is still useful to this very day."

There was no denying that Uchiha Itachi truly would do everything in his power to protect Konoha, even if it meant sacrificing a Jinchuuriki in order for the village to keep its bijuu even though from the injuries that the jinchuuriki had sustained were most probably done by his partner. Itachi knew that should he forcefully try and stop Kisame, his cover would be blown and all information concerning Akatsuki would be held to a certain point.

And that would simply not do. Danzo knew the origins of Akatsuki started within Ame, knew of its leader dying by the hands of his own comrade, that they were picked off one by one by Hanzo's loyalists. This fringe group that now worked internationally and composed of the most dangerous of criminals in the known world was something he would not pass up if it meant they were a threat to his village.

To Itachi, a loss of someone like Uzumaki Naruto would simply be incomparable to the loss of an entire village. Itachi did not want to place the cart before the horse, so to speak. Danzo had the same mindset, he would not hesitate to kill one in order to save the rest. Naruto may be an important piece, but he was only a miniscule part of the Kyuubi. Sad as it was that the line of the fearsome Namikaze Minato and equally dangerous Uzumaki Kushina would be abruptly halted, he knew for a fact that Naruto was simply nothing more than a shinobi with very little to offer in the grand scheme of things. The boy did not have Minato's intuitive mind or Kushina's special chakra. He only had large reserves of chakra and a mind that was only just flourishing.

And nothing could be grander than the prosperity and safety of his village.

But it was strange when they discovered that the seal was still strong enough to hold the beast back, Danzo knew that seals, such as the one on the boy, were implied to be tied to their life forces. To see it never wavering was a testament to how powerful the boy's life force was or how much of a genius both Minato and Kushina were in the field of the sealing arts.

Either way, he would see to it that he take advantage of every opportunity that presents to him including this one, if he could do anything about it.

"He is close to waking up, sir." His subordinate had interrupted him of his thoughts as Danzo gave a wordless nod before he gave another order.

"Remove him from that stasis chamber and prepare a bed for him. See to it that his ability to mold chakra is restrained. I want Uzumaki to wake up, as normal as he could possibly fathom. I do not want an unstable jinchuuriki waking up and cause any stress levels that could possibly mean a compromise to this base."

His subordinate replied with a nod.

"As you wish, Danzo-sama."

With that, the screen with Danzo's face fizzled out of existence and shut down.

Within the mind of a comatose shinobi, Naruto continued running as the higher functioning processes of his mind slowly began returning to him.


The solid stone and brick ground he was walking on soon turned wet, water was now flooding the area that reached just above his ankle. He didn't give any heed to it as he continued to run with the torches lighting up before him as he made his way towards something. This place wasn't a hallway now, it was a tortuous labyrinth and every time he had passed an intersection, a part of his memory was slowly going back to him. Every twist and turn through this maze made him recall his past like how he grew up, his mistreatment, his loss of hope.

All emotions of despair, anger, hatred and seclusion hit him like an enormous tidal wave of strong utter resentment and malcontent coming from a sea of pure bleak darkness. He stumbled, slowly lost his footing for a moment but he continued to run, the weight of his feet splashing on the water was slowly weighing him down. But he continued, persevered throughout his struggle as the light of the torches guided him to where they were leading him, anywhere but the nothingness that had embraced him earlier.

His desires to see through this trial made him push himself farther, ignoring the weight of the water bearing down on his legs. It was difficult but not tiresome, his body never tired.

He didn't know how long he had run, the concept of time still was not present to him. All he knew was that he had to continue, he didn't want to look back. Nothing was there and the only feeling he could have there was the feeling of emptiness.

He didn't want that.

So he ran.

He ran as far as his legs could take him and he simply would not care.

He did not want to be in such a dark and lifeless place any longer.

He would grab this chance, a chance to be free from such a place.

A chance… To be alive!

Soon enough, his patience, however thin as it might be, was rewarded. The hallways were getting larger and larger as he continued his pace and right then and there; he ended up to the very edge of this road.

He had stood in an area on what he would call a hub, or at least at the very center of it. In front of him stood a gigantic gate, made of ivory and gold with a thin piece of paper plastered in the middle and the word 'seal' written on it.

Blue energy began to coalesce at his front, forming there, a visage of a full grown adult. He was tall with messy, pointy hair swinging about every which way held up by a head band with his side bangs being held with small pieces of cloth as well and pointy sharp eyes that were filled with much wisdom of the world. The man wore a simple long overcoat with the collar propped up to his cheeks, six symbols of the Magatama surrounding his chest in a semi-circular pattern and a sash that covered him. His long sleeves have covered his right hand as his left held a shaku staff.

The man looked down on Naruto and he smiled.

"Your persistence bears merit, child."

Naruto could only give out the best response a bewildered child could ever have and asked in confusion, "What?"

Soon, the boy added, "You were the person from my dreams… Why are you here? Who are you?"

The man gave a reply as he held the shaku staff just above the boy's forehead.

"I am your distant past." The man gave a reply as he grinned.

"I am one who is bound to the cycle of transmigration, the second son of the Rikudo Sennin who once was heir to the teachings of ninshu. You were me hundreds if not thousands of years ago. You are but one of the many lives I chose to live in the past. But one that is most undeniably, the one I share the strongest connection yet." He said as his Shaku staff lightly tapped Naruto on the forehead.

A ripple of chakra resonated from his forehead and Naruto looked at the man with wide eyes. And all at once, Naruto saw the multiple people that this person's soul had lived on to.

"Ootsuki Ashura… Why are you here? How is it that you are able to talk to me?" Naruto asked, the chakra construct looked behind him and beyond the ivory and gold gate of that lay behind him.

"It is because you have a fragment of the past that shares the same essence as Ashura."

Naruto turned his attention to the creature inside the cage and couldn't help but ask, "Kurama?"

"Death has surprisingly dulled your mind, brat. But unsurprisingly your bravado lay strong still."

The fox commented and he looked at the boy with a smirk, bearing his sharp and large set of teeth at the boy.

"What exactly do you mean?" Naruto asked, the fox gave a huff as it looked at the construct that was Ashura and then looked at the boy.

"During your stasis, you were never retrieved back to Konoha. You were taken by someone I know not. But what he did have and what was familiar to me, were the cells of the First Hokage, Hashirama Senju, the last person to be transmigrated by Ashura before you. It is why you have a stronger connection to this man than any other soul who has housed the spirit of the second son."

"The cells of the Shodaime… Just what happened? How long was I unconscious? Do you know where we are now?"

"Brat, you were very close to death. The only thing that kept you alive was Ashura's chakra that is bursting with yang chakra but be that as it may it was not enough to keep you alive. When you were carried into a bag, it was all I could sense before you were placed in a stasis blocking of any semblance of time as I detected a seal. You were carried to this place that I know nothing about. But by then, the cells of the first Hokage had already fused into you accelerating your healing factor by several times. When Ashura's chakra came in contact with the cells of the Shodaime, the cells reacted and recognized immediately that Ashura's chakra was alive and well and doubled its efforts to keep you alive."

"That's it?"

The fox grew irate for a moment but replied with a huff, "That's all there is to it."

"So now that you're active here, what's going to happen now?" Naruto turned to Ashura who looked up and began thinking.

"Honestly, I do not know. This is the first time I am having this kind of conversation with any of my reincarnations. What is it that you want to do?"

Naruto merely gave the best answer that he could think of at the moment, "Go back to Konoha, of course."

The giant fox snorted, "Good luck with that brat. I feel your chakra right now is being restrained."

Both Ashura and Naruto looked at the giant fox and asked in confusion, "What?"

For a moment there, Kurama thought that the two idiots in front of him were turning out to be complete carbon copies. The fox merely gave a grin when he felt Naruto's body was slowly recovering at a fast rate.

"You're about to find out."


Naruto was about to ask a question when he was met with a blue ceiling and a single rotating fan attached to it. He got up as he could feel his body sore from not being able to move very much. He looked forward to see a hooded man wearing a long coat standing at his front before he went out of the room quietly.

He looked to his right and saw green drapes overwhelming his vision as it did to the left. Naruto knew he was in a ward of some sort. He looked down to his hands and surprisingly found them bandaged and now restrained with big heavy metal cuffs with hundreds of seal inscriptions laced on to them.

Naruto had to ask himself once more to where he was as he looked around, but his thoughts on his current surroundings were cut off when he heard a voice over to a small speaker that was conveniently placed on his side.

"Good evening, Uzumaki-san. Before you ask, you are currently in a classified stronghold meant for highly trained assassins. I trust that your near encounter with death has been harrowing?"

"Sod off with those pleasantries. Where the hell am I?" Naruto insisted as he scowled at the voice, it sounded so forceful and authoritarian a stark contrast to the old man Hokage used to have.

"I will not dignify that response and give away this location. The fact of the matter is, you are alive because of me and I have made sure to cover everything in the event that you try to escape. Consider me your benefactor and your leader from now on."

Naruto growled, "What the hell do you want from me?"

The voice in the small speaker spoke quickly as if he already knew Naruto would be asking that, "You are a shinobi that carries within you, the most destructive bijuu in existence. For that, you are a liability as much as you are a powerful deterrent, a wild card if the current moniker is to be applied. I only wish to harness that power to myself and use it to serve for my purpose. However, the way it is now, you are inefficient. So I wish to refine such things and drill into you, the aspects of power."

"Why?" Naruto asked, the voice replied once more quickly.

"For the sake of everything, Uzumaki-san, for everything. The Sandaime Hokage was a fool to treat you so benignly. He was a sentimental old codger who had given more to his emotions rather than through logic."

Naruto gritted his teeth as the person behind the small speaker let it made known to the blonde that he was chuckling.

"Don't you dare speak about the old man as if you know him!"

"You are angry. Why do you look up to that man? He has done nothing more than to obscure you from the truth. He lied to you, manipulated you, and made you close to him so that you could only be loyal to him."

Naruto was now furious and let made known to the bastard behind the sound system know just what he thought, "Whatever it is you're trying to tell me, fuck off. The old man may have been stern and a pervert, but he at least treated me like someone."

"Ah, show them kindness and kindness will be rewarded in return, the Sandaime Hokage indeed is a great diplomat in all aspects of life. You are deluding yourself if you think the Sandaime showed you genuine kindness without any ulterior motives. That man isn't above using such tactics."

Memories of the old man teaching him how to read and write surfaced within him and Naruto felt like punching the damn speaker and rid of himself with this nuisance.

"All human actions contain motives beneath them. It is by nature that humans act in their own self-interests, selfish by all accounts and therefore justifiable since humans have been self-preserving since the dawn of time. Your precious Sandaime only became kind to you in return that your loyalty would be tied to him and only to him. Giving spiels of his actions meant for his village is nothing more than you adhering to him and his ideals, not for the village itself."

"Can we figure out how to get rid of this seal?" Naruto asked to the entities that were inside him.

Inside, Ashura and Kurama looked at the blonde before answering him truthfully.

"I can decipher the seal for you, but it would take us weeks or even months to figure this seal out without having prior knowledge of the seal's principal structure." Ashura answered him. The man seemed to recall his daughter who had taught him all about sealing.

"Getting impatient of that man, are you? For now, I suggest to bear with it while Ashura and I configure the seal and you can come back to your precious village."

Kurama gave a low laugh as Naruto went outside, his eyes narrowing on the small speaker just beside his bed. A statement from the man behind the speakers seemed to make a resonating impression towards him.

"What do you mean by lied to?" He finally asked after a few seconds of silence. The man gave a chuckle that Naruto wanted to punch the damn speakers so hard that not a trace of it would be left. He was keeping his very short temper in check or else he might do something he'd regret later.

"Uzumaki Naruto, an orphan during the siege of the Kyuubi no Yoko thirteen years ago, you were chosen as the vessel of the said beast at the cost of the life of the Yondaime Hokage, his wife and a multitude of shinobi. What many did not know, is the fact that the Yondaime Hokage used his own son as the sacrifice to seal away the great beast. The Yondaime's wife turned out to be one of the very last members of the Uzumaki household who had the ability to suppress the powers of tailed beasts with her chakra alone. There are no records being kept in your village. Your birth was done by secrecy. The only document that proves that you are indeed the vessel of the Kyuubi is your birth certificate. That was something the Sandaime had erroneously overlooked. But even then, the names of your parents were removed and blacked out."

Naruto's mind went blank all of a sudden as he held his breath from the shock of finding out of his parentage. He could not believe that his own hero, his idol, the yondaime hokage, turned out to be his father.

He did not know if he should be angry or glad. The person who he had idolized and deemed as the fastest shinobi alive was also the person who had condemned him to a life of misery and continuous struggle. The person who had given him the chance to live was also the one who made him realize the harshness of life itself.

"Do you hate your father now? Do you hate the way your life has turned for the worse since being told nothing about the absolute truth?"

Naruto, his voice shaking in the aftermath of his realization, asked the man behind the speakers all the while gripping tightly on the covers of his bed.

"How do you know this? Why would you say something this?"

"I know many things because I will do anything in my power to obtain my objectives. I will resort to every possible tactic that I can think of, for the sake of my ideals. In order to do that, I must set one of my biggest pieces free with the truth as my key. The truth is that, indeed, the Sandaime is not the man that you know, at least from where I can look. He is a liar, he will manipulate you to do his bidding and he will not hesitate to do so in order to wipe his hands clean off of any particular incident should it occur. He may have intended you to become that disposable pawn when the time came."

To this, Naruto had gritted his teeth and smashed the small speaker with his metallic cuffs. The boy was breathing heavy out of the anger that seemed to escape him. Naruto held his head of messy blonde hair as he sat on the edge of his hospital bed and bent down in confusion.

"Has that opened your eyes to the truth, Uzumaki-san? Have my words finally reached you? Or do you wish to wallow in denial once more? Whatever seems to be the case, I care not. My only concern is to train you up to snuff since I have wasted precious resources in restoring you back to full health and then some just so that I could just make things easier for me in tutoring a soldier like yourself. If you do not wish to comply, then feel free to be trapped here for the rest of your life or until such a time that I take away the Kyuubi within you. It is your choice."

The boy was surprised as he stood from his bed and pushed the drapes back only to see one side of the room having another set of speakers placed conveniently at the top this time. But nevertheless, the boy instead of breaking more things, decided to keep his already burning temper down to a boil. He had thought what the person was talking about when the man said he had used the man's precious resources on him.

Naruto thought that the man was talking about the First Hokage's cells being implanted to him.

What this man didn't know however, was that because of these same very cells, he was already figuring out how to get out of this place via the help of the apparition of Ootsuki Ashura.

Naruto, instead clicked his tongue and looked down. His upper body was surrounded by bandages, not a trace of flesh was present until his shoulders. He had remembered that his right arm was dislocated at the shoulder. Someone must have realigned it and let the Kyuubi's healing factor to do the work for him.

He had no choice whatsoever in the matter. If his ability to mould chakra was restricted, Kurama would be taken from him and he didn't know what kind of consequences that would entail.

"Fine then, training it is. I don't see why I should escape anyway, I don't have the ability to mould chakra and I can't exactly fight with my hands cuffed like this."

"You are not as dumb as people say you are, Uzumaki-san. I would have thought by now that escape would be your first priority seeing as you hate it when things do not go your way."

Naruto dismissed the thought of it even though he felt like punching something again, "Whatever, I don't want to talk about shit everybody already knows. Let's just get this over with."

He had already enough remarks about his intelligence and he didn't need it from someone who he doesn't even know.

"Well then, I suppose we can start tomorrow. Even with the Kyuubi's regeneration and innate healing jutsu that we have planted in you, you are still far too injured to do anything."

The voice then added as it chuckled, "Let me give you a word of advice concerning tomorrow's training method: Survive."

"Survive?"

"The order of business for your training, to become my trump card, requires that you must have a merciless understanding of battle. The only thing that is holding you back from your potential is not simulation, jutsu and the like but experience. You are still green even though you were officially promoted. With experience comes battlefield knowledge, the idea of how your opponents will move, how they will strike and to exploit openings and weaknesses with only taijutsu. Your training commences in twelve hours. You will be pitted against assassins who are debriefed that they are to approach you with the intent to kill. I do not need soldiers who are useless. So as your first lesson: kill or be killed."

Naruto growled at the man before he replied, "Some leader you are, choosing to sacrifice your men like that."

"With the work I do comes sacrifice, something that you hopefully do understand as the days continue."


Konoha, Night fall:

It was raining.

Dark clouds covered the blue sky as it happened. Thunder and lightning crackled above as water poured down on the village of Konoha.

Hatake Kakashi stared at the memorial stone with nothing but regrets in mind for tonight. He wasn't surprised when he called for a meeting earlier with his team that only a downtrodden Sakura who looked like she was carrying the guilt of her teammate's death with her appeared while Sasuke chose to skip that day. The boy hadn't appeared in training with his ANBU instructor as well. The ANBU instructor daftly noted that he was excusing Sasuke from his duties. The man wasn't a complete asshole enough to rub salt on fresh wounds. He found it highly ineffective and usually played with much stronger and unstable emotions.

The horrible job of being the messenger as well as team leader fell on his shoulders a few days ago when Tsunade had told him to tell those that were 'very close' to Naruto, particularly Iruka.

It was horrible enough that the man chose to weep inside the faculty room. It was more cringe inducing when Anko was there who tried her best to calm Iruka down.

Perhaps the most saddening thing to ever come out of Iruka's mouth was that he considered Naruto his own son and that a death of the child was more heart breaking when they die before the parent.

Kakashi looked at the name of his departed sensei and thought about it for very long.

"You would have been grateful of the man, yet utterly disappointed in me, sensei, and maybe even angry at me for letting this happen." Kakashi muttered and then knelt down before sliding his hand at the name engraved on the stone that stated 'Uchiha Obito'.

"He was so like you that he even died before his teammates. Your history were so much alike that it was painful in seeing it in him and it repeated once more when I tried to actively push those thoughts away. It seems failure actively courses through my veins."

The man closed his eyes, in silent prayer as he offered them to his fallen comrades. Kakashi had never felt so utterly disgraced today as he was when Obito was killed.

He was about to stand when he felt a familiar presence walk towards him.

"You're late." The man stated and turned towards Sasuke who was walking aimlessly with his hands in his pockets.

"You look like a stray animal, Sasuke. Do you want to talk about it?"

Sasuke merely gritted his teeth and replied to his sensei, "There's nothing to talk about."

"Then have you at least come here to honor the dead?"

Sasuke replied eyes burning in hatred as he remembered the words of his fallen teammate and the mistreatment he had suffered at their hands, "There was no honor with Naruto's death. He died knowing he had very few people who had genuine care for him. I would sooner rather see this village burned than let them pay their respects."

Kakashi shook his head as he instructed Sasuke, "Follow me, Sasuke."

The last and hopefully loyal Uchiha looked at the man in wonder as he asked, "Why and where are we going?"

"To realize that your statement is incredibly too broad and too generalizing, Naruto doesn't want you to stereotype anyone any more than they do him. You should at least have an understanding of that."

To that, Sasuke followed his sensei and wondered what he had meant.

They arrived at Naruto's favourite restaurant, Ichiraku Ramen. Inside, there sat a man at the table who was looking down at his ramen, it was Iruka and beside him sat Anko.

Kakashi had given the boy a gesture that told him to sit on top of the roof of the small restaurant.

When he was within earshot, Sasuke silently listened to the people below him.

"Has Tsunade-sama confirmed the boy's death, Iruka?" An elderly male asked.

To this, the familiar voice of their former academy instructor replied, "No, she has not. Tsunade-sama said that she would tonight after seeing the body."

"It's unbelievable that Naruto-kun would be taken away from us so abruptly." One of the females spoke in a rather low voice, almost as if she was saddened by the fact that reality had suddenly pulled them down.

"Unfortunate as it is, I grew a liking to that brat, too. For one he has enough balls to not even get a lick of fear from me. I know it's hard for Iruka and the rest of you, but at least Naruto fought it out until the end. A true shinobi, that boy…" The other female commented, Iruka then spoke out to his current seat mate.

"Even so… Naruto was like my son. To see a child go before a parent, I realize now how much something like that hurts. I now understand why my father and mother were fierce with their protection. A parent dying for their child is tragic, but a child dying before their parent is something else. It's much more painful and much more excruciating."

To Sasuke, it felt like a knife was wedged within his chest.

"We say the damnedest of things most of the time. We put our pain above others and in turn, we cause the same pain to them because of our selfishness." Kakashi mentioned as Sasuke looked away, eyes closed and teeth clenched.

"Try to understand, Sasuke. Pain is inevitable, we will have it one way or another and some more than others too. But Naruto, unlike many of us, rose above his pain. Do you know what's worse than losing someone?"

Sasuke looked at Kakashi and then looked out onto the rooftops of Konoha's buildings. The clouds were dispersing and the rain was stopping. He answered the man in a manner of calmness that was much different from what many were used to him, "Having no one at all. Loneliness that no one can bare, nothing to hold on to and nothing to have, it is a kind of pain that gnaws at your mind, it is insidious and inconceivable. I've seen what that kind of pain can do to someone, how much it drives anyone insane."

To this Sasuke turned to Kakashi and continued, "Now that I think about it, I've seen something like that before. Without having anyone in their lives, they have gained no value within themselves and seek things to…"

"Validate their existence?" Kakashi had quipped and Sasuke had a chill running from his spine as he looked towards the faces of the Hokage. It was spine chilling how such a thought could create monsters like Gaara and how close Naruto was to have that same kind of attitude.

It was as if he looking at two sides of the same coin.

"Monsters are born for every selfish deed we do and they are killed mercilessly without as much as a 'reason'. But along with that comes people who are willing to be much more than what we designate as 'human nature'." Kakashi replied as he looked up, the full gaze of a half-moon had already appeared.

"They do exist within the confines of our own nature, it's just that it is much easier to live by the way we were intended to be, beasts with very little compassion. Iruka was the first person in Naruto's life to have risen above that." Kakashi then held the boy's head and ruffled it gently.

"Did you know that Iruka's parents died by the hands of the Kyuubi when it rampaged in Konoha?"

Sasuke looked at Kakashi in shock and then looked down at Iruka.

"Seeing Naruto every day during class must have been painful for him. To think that the living memory of his dead parents was sitting in front of him, being carefree or acting like a fool. But Iruka looked past his prejudices and soon realized that the boy who acted out was merely craving for attention just like him after the Kyuubi incident."

Kakashi then stood up from the roof as he noticed an eagle circling above him. He was being summoned to the Hokage's office.

"That is the lesson here Sasuke, we must look beyond our pre-conceived notions. In order for us to become truly strong, we must learn to take a great leap forward."

"But what about revenge? For what my brother did to my clan, my family and to my teammate?" Sasuke said as his fists were shaking in anger.

"Remember our little talk back then? I'm not stopping you for your quest for vengeance. Many of us look for retribution. But to be obsessed by it that you lose yourself in your hatred, it is something that I cannot agree with. Because once the deed is done, what do you think you will do after your revenge? Reviving your clan has become an afterthought, right? That's what all avengers understand. Obtain revenge, and everything will be back to normal."

Kakashi then held up a single sign as he said to Sasuke before vanishing in a cloud of smoke.

"Except that it doesn't, Sasuke, it never does."

Sasuke decided it was time to go away from the top of the ramen shop as he began to think.

"Vengeance… What lies beyond it?"

A question he had to ask himself was all he could think about that night and completely lay in the back of his mind for the next day. He was going back to the ANBU's training program.


Hokage tower:

Kakashi, whenever he was called alone in the office, usually meant that he would be tasked to do something difficult.

A shinobi of his calibre could only be trusted to do things that his leaders would trust him with. Whether it was something big or subtle, they would give him a mission that would truly test his very limits as the one deemed as the 'copy ninja'. Their unparalleled trust in him is the same as how the Hokage and her councillors would trust Jiraiya in obtaining information in regards to his network of highly important espionage teams and contacts.

To see both of them together in the same room with the Hokage looking dreadfully serious was not something he would take in passing.

"I have a secret mission for you two."

Kakashi raised an eyebrow at this as Tsunade gave the both of them folders of the exact same files.

When Kakashi had opened the envelope his eyes grew even more curious at the content of the mission profile, Jiraiya had beaten him as he asked Tsunade, "This is an autopsy report. An autopsy report of my godson no less, what are you implying Tsunade?"

Kakashi could feel Jiraiya's anger seething from him. He could feel Jiraiya letting loose a sliver of killing intent as Tsunade explained.

"It isn't the boy's true body. It was made to look like one, down to the last detail on his face and body build. I've ran some DNA tests and all of my results didn't match Naruto's records. There may be a chance that the boy is alive still." Tsunade commented, earning an incredulous look from Jiraiya.

"By the sage, Tsunade, who would do such a thing to Minato's kid? You aren't exactly thinking of what I'm thinking about this, are you?"

Tsunade gave a deep breath and closed her eyes before she leaned back on her chair and turned around to face the window of her office.

"I've had my suspicions, but we could be looking at this into another angle. He's the obvious choice from the list of suspects I've been examining for the past few hours. The problem is its all assumptions unless we have enough proof. Danzo and his lackeys are far too slippery for their own good. We won't have anything against him if he does manage to obtain Naruto, he's likely to remove his trail back then. He's that paranoid and that meticulous."

Kakashi then asked a question, "Then what do you propose, Hokage-sama?"

Tsunade stood up and scowled as she looked out the window.

"Find him. Right now, our priority is to locate the real Uzumaki Naruto, whether he's alive or dead. Danzo's goons are situated all around the country. Infiltrate every nook and cranny of Danzo's bases. Even Danzo's drawer shouldn't be left unchecked. This is off the books because of its secrecy. I want every piece of damning evidence there is that I can get my hands on. If that doesn't work, then getting Naruto home would be all that I need."

Kakashi and Jiraiya nodded.

What Tsunade wanted wasn't Danzo's head, she wanted closure.

And if Danzo's head were to be a consolation, she would not be complaining.

To be continued…


Chapter Preview:

"Orochimaru-sama has ordered us to retrieve you, Uchiha Sasuke. For you will serve as the vessel for him in exchange for power."

"Those who do not have their own beliefs and fight solely in the name of a bastard like him, they're not worth killing, just like you. What you should be getting from me is not a fight, but pity."

"Kurama! LEND ME YOUR CHAKRA, OVERPOWER THIS SEAL AND LET'S GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!"

Well, I'm back again and a lot worse for wear. I've been reassigned to a different group after everything was said and done and I'm a bit miffed. My last group was one of the best that I could ever had the joy of working with. The group I'm now stuck with has a member that I want to punch so badly but because she's a woman, I can't. Can you believe the amount of shit she gets away with while two of us get stuck in handling two hundred patients!? She makes these terrible excuses like her sister is sick or that she's not feeling well. One time, I received a call from a famous restaurant saying that she left her phone there and that I was the last person to have had contact with her phone when the excuse she gave me was that her boyfriend's mom was hospitalized.

What a fucking disgrace she's going to be, I'm glad she failed her oral exams. Someone like her does not deserve the right to be called a doctor. As much as I want to be as sympathetic and empathic, I could only do so much. A grown ass adult is still playing fucking hooky at the cost of the lives of hundreds of patients who can't even afford to buy their medications. I defended myself that if I were to have a repeat rotation in that hospital's section, I'm having her along for the ride and it is non-negotiable unless I present my findings to an attorney.

Also, double chapter since I skipped out.

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