Book three Chapter 3: Renown
It had been a while since Naruto saw proper action after his first encounter with Karin and Jugo. A tense feeling escaped in the air, one much different from when he faced Jugo. It was different, yet familiar as well. As the last time he had this kind of tense encounter with enemy shinobi was when they had faced Haku and Zabuza.
The blonde looks to his side and sees Sasuke already reaching for his sword while Sakura was cracking her knuckles. He turned back to the trio that was watching from above looking at them with grins on their faces.
Seriously, what is up with jerks and their tendency to be arrogant shitheads?
"Three young pups with fangs barely sharpened. I guess Konoha has indeed fallen on hard times. Dotou-sama was right in looking at Kumo for a trade deal."
The better looking of the two men spoke. Naruto had to take note of that as well. Yapping out state decisions didn't seem too professional of them. Especially when Konoha, Kumo's bitter rival, was within their presence.
"That or the tree huggers are too arrogant in sending a bunch of wet behind the ears brats to face Yuki Shinobi." The only female of the group said this while Sasuke, Sakura and Naruto remained silent.
Sasuke had to be impressed with his teammats, in the past, Naruto would have cried with indignation and Sakura would have reacted by bashing Naruto's head in for taunting his opponents. They would have been too distracted to notice that the enemy began to move or would do their best into destroying any sort of cohesion that they had. But not anymore.
He was looking at the two as more like equals now rather than being inferior to him. A voice in his head creeped into his ear and whispered words of disbelief and disgust thinking that he was superior to any baseborn warrior without any sort of distinction.
Sasuke would have agreed back then, but now he simply dismissed the voice's words as nothing more than meaningless boasts.
"They thought wrong then." Said the other man as he looked at his armored hand and flexed it by its claws.
Surprisingly, it was Sasuke that was the one who spoke first, "If you are done posturing and sizing us up, why don't you try us? Or are you uncertain that you can match up to three 'wet behind the ears brats'?"
The better looking of the man raised an eyebrow at this and showed his smug expression, "Ho? I like this brat, he thinks they can beat us."
Naruto stepped forward with a grin of his own as he pointed his right index finger at the general direction of the opposing trio, "If you're just going to talk and act like douchebags, I'd like to get straight to the point."
The lone woman of the Yuki Shinobi smirked, "I'd like to see you try, you little shi-"
A powerful blast of wind escaped from Naruto's fingers as it forms a powerful stream making its way towards its intended destination before the three Yuki Shinobi could react.
A sizeable hole was left on the peak of the iceberg as they saw the aftermath of the jutsu. The trio had already scattered.
Alarmed, Sasuke activated his Sharingan only to see something surging from beneath the snow. One of their enemies began their descent as he rode the board downwards, but he wasn't going for them. Instead, he was heading straight to the crew!
Naruto was the first to act as the boy dashed back towards their protectorate as Sasuke had stopped the advance of the other man that had popped up beneath the snow. With a well-placed Katon blast. The man had jumped from beneath the snow but Sasuke already predicted this with his Sharingan and in a matter of seconds, the man had no time to react when a long blade of lightning at least ten meters long rose into the air and aimed at his chest.
Sakura, meanwhile was suddenly ambushed when the lone female had appeared from above and dived directly below her. Sakura had managed to get out of the way in time to see the woman embed her foot on the thick snow beneath her. Sakura then proceeded to lean forward and charge at the woman at a pace that would surprise Sasuke.
She cocked her right arm back and swung her fist with a hook as the woman ducked from the punch. But Sakura did not let up, as she rolled with her momentum and spun in midair with a thrusting spinning kick to the woman's face.
The woman noticed the power behind those attacks. With just a single swing, she could hear Sakura's arms cutting against the chill arctic winds and the blow would have most likely broken her skull and neck.
And when she seemingly had her opening, Sakura rolled with that momentum and used its force to increase the potency of her next attack. The woman could have sworn that Sakura's leg would have impaled her at the chest with that one blow. So she made the correct decision to back up. A cold bead of sweat escaped her. Surprised that she would be bugged out by the girl's striking power.
Sakura, this time, smirked, a sadistic one at that, "For supposedly being more skilled, why is it that you can't attack me? Changed your mind?"
This had the effect of ticking the woman off.
"You arrogant little bitch." The woman replied, now she was pissed. But before she could react, Sakura changed her mind and instead of fighting hand to hand, she brandished her twin double edged swords from her back, they glowed a blue almost incandescent hue as she charged at the woman in unrelenting haste.
The woman jumped back as Sakura swung down the sword in her left hand and Sakura took a step forward and lunging at the woman with a thrust of the sword in her right hand. The Yuki Kunoichi had to sidestep as it almost impaled her armor.
The woman was getting nervous. Even with the blades, her swings were dangerously powerful and quick.
The woman then deployed the wings of her armor and flew back to create more space between them. If she wasn't going to get a hit in at close range, then she will go after her opponent at long range.
Naruto meanwhile, increased his pace as his opponent was getting faster and faster. The blonde had then performed the Shunshin no jutsu as his body became a blur. Before he used his jutsu, though. He had seen Yukie's expression.
She looked terrified as she held on to Sandayuu for dear life. She knew that they were coming for her.
Naruto's face changed to a look of determination as he took off.
As a prerequisite of his training with the Hiraishin (Flying Thunder God), Jiraiya had him practice the Shunshin no Jutsu (Body Flicker Technique) extensively to get him used to moving at high speed. Every single day, he had been tasked with improving his time with closing distances with this jutsu. Jiraiya had noticed that Naruto would only use this jutsu for travelling or getting away and less during fights as Naruto relies heavily on his creativity in his battles. It was noticeable during his fight with Neji. The Hyuuga was superior in his use of the jutsu and his quick reflexes along with the Byakugan allowed Neji to overcome Naruto when using this jutsu. The Hiraishin required a body that is suitably built for speed and quick reflexes. Something Naruto had but Naruto did not have the vision that the Hyuuga and the Uchiha have in order to react accordingly. The Hiraishin mitigated this drawback with the use of the seals used by the Yondaime and Nidaime Hokage. But even before that, these two legendary shinobi had been training for high speed combat all their life that made the jutsu deadly. Naruto was only starting to get there.
But Naruto still had room for improvement. And it was why in a matter of seconds, before his opponent could lay his hands at Koyuki, Naruto had already intercepted him as he kicked the man's armored hand away before flipping in mid-air and unleashing a hail of shuriken at the man.
His opponent shielded himself as the Shuriken bounced uselessly on the man's armor. Naruto then landed on the ground, then stomped his foot forward before landing an elbow thrust on the man's chest sending him flying away from Yukie.
Naruto looked back to Yukie who remained stunned and scared for her life. Naruto nodded.
"That's a good face to have. It means you haven't given up on life yet."
Naruto turned back to his opponent and said to his protectorate without looking back.
"Go. Get to the ship. I'll keep you safe."
With that Naruto vanished in a blur as he went after his opponent in hot pursuit.
Yukie could not find words within her as she stared at Naruto. His words had somehow reassured her.
'I'll keep you safe.' Her father's words echoed through her ears as Sandayu held his lord's daughter up and took her to the ship to hide.
Naruto's opponent now stood up. He was now at the base of the slopes of the iceberg. The man tumbled in the snow and rolled on it before ending up further away from his target. He watched as the supposed princess of his nation scurry away back to the ship and he scoffed. As if that was going to do anything.
He turned his sights back to the speed demon that had managed to cross a longer distance than him with less time needed. The boy was fast, he thought. It was either this boy was used to fighting at a blistering pace or he was just desperate enough to stop his advance towards the heir. Which confirmed their suspicions about the actress Fujikaze Yukie.
Naruto stopped just a few meters away from his opponent as he looked back to his protectorate.
Nobody was supposed to know they had the true heir of the royal family outside of their knowledge, Naruto thought. It was impossible to know unless one of the crew was a spy. Or at least, one of the crew members on the ship were. This man had specifically targeted Yukie and made his intentions clear. Meaning that he knew that the actress was Kazahana Koyuki.
Grim implications entered his mind. Who else knew? How did that information leak? Was it the ones inside the ship?
No, that couldn't be right. The only ones in the ship that knew of Koyuki's true identity were them and Sandayu.
No, Sandayu was loyal to Koyuki's father and by extension, to the heir apparent.
The possibility of looking for a mole would have to wait. As the man suddenly began to move as he slid down from the slope with his snowboard and headed straight to Naruto at breakneck speeds.
Naruto would not give him the chance, though. The blonde was going to give him no quarter and he knew just how to get his answers.
Meanwhile, Sasuke was perplexed when his Chidori Eisou (Chirping of a Thousand Birds True Spear) had not pierced the armor of his opponent. He had tested how much piercing power the spear had and it went through thick stumps of fairly large trees and even metal. But why did his jutsu not work?
It was then that he would get his answers when his opponent had landed down, holding his chest with Sasuke hearing a low hum from the armor. He could see a little bit of his chakra lingering before it was absorbed by the armor.
"Chakra absorbing armor." He concluded and the man's smug returned.
"That's right. Witness our country's technology rise above with our ninja! The old ways of the five major powers will become obsolete!"
Sasuke didn't seem fazed at this discovery. This fool may be protected from Ninjutsu, but he certainly isn't invincible enough to be overwhelmed. Sasuke had understood then that he couldn't use Jutsu that could be emitted or sent directly to his enemy so Sasuke knew how he was going to fight. Unfortunately for him, his opponent began weaving hand seals and slammed his hands on the snow.
"Hyoton: Haryu Moko (Ice Release: Tearing Dragon Fierce Tiger)"
The ice surged below him and rose up as it raced towards Sasuke, with one turning into the shape of the dragon and the other changing into the shape of a tiger.
Sasuke's hands sparked in lightning and burned with flames. He then held his hands together as they began to take shape into a sword and brandished it beside him, the temperature increasing enough that the snow around him began to melt.
"Enton: Hihiiro'kane (Blaze Release: Red Colored Metal)"
Sasuke then grabbed the sword Murakumo from his back and applied fire chakra to it as well, turning the blade into a burning sword.
Sharingan spinning wildly, Sasuke vanished from his opponent's vision and a few seconds later, his ice constructs were destroyed and turned into nothing more than puddles of water that began to turn to ice as it fell to the snow. Sasuke closed the gap between them and the man was surprised by the sudden leap in speed. He reacted quickly enough by dodging to his right when Sasuke slashed at his opponent with his blazing sword and his chakra blade. His opponent would have absorbed the jutsu, were it not for a fact that Sasuke continued to pressure by landing a kick to his clavicle, sending him away and smashing through one of the iceberg's peaks and crashing on the ground below.
The man was surprised.
'What was that? A simple shunshin shouldn't be that fast!'
"I would have easily dodged it if it was a simple Shunshin, right?" Sasuke had cut off his thoughts when the Uchiha looked down at him despondently as he paraphrased what the man was going to say.
"Don't put words into my head, you…"
"… Damn psycho." Sasuke finished and a chill ran down on his opponent's spine as Sasuke dispelled his jutsu.
This time, it was Sasuke's turn to play mind games.
"What's the matter? Still thinking we're a bunch of brats?"
The man had clearly changed his opinion in a matter of seconds. The moment he saw the eyes of the Uchiha, he knew that he had to take this seriously.
The man jumped and charged at Sasuke and Sasuke reacted in kind. The two clashed beside two ice pillars as they jumped at each other going upwards before the two stood against each other on opposite peaks. The man had sustained cuts as with each clash Sasuke drove his sword to the weak points of his armor, tearing them one by one or injuring him in the process. The Uchiha had his sword pointed at him wordlessly as Sasuke remained still.
The man growled and gritted his teeth as he prepared for another set of hand seals as he touched the snow beneath him. He would rather take out the entire area rather than be humiliated by some snot nosed punks.
With Sakura, as the woman had attained flight, Sakura contemplated that maybe it should have been Naruto who should have faced her. Her areal abilities allowed her the necessary range to keep her out of Sakura's range.
Ever since then, she had been peppering Sakura with senbon that can change direction and multiply as Sakura was forced to be on the defensive end of her opponent's attacks. Sakura growled as she performed a Katon Jutsu to melt the oncoming wave of ice senbon.
She had to note that these jutsu that they were doing were not the true Hyoton she had come to know in Naruto's telling of his fight with Haku. They were cheap imitations compared to the real thing.
Sakura began to think. The girl would most likely come down in a few minutes. Sakura thought that her enemy couldn't maintain her flight for long. So she had to bide her time and be extra careful not to get caught in the woman's onslaught of needles. It was a good thing that the Hokage had taught her how to dodge and the importance of being in one piece as a medic. Sakura was grateful that her teacher was hard on her.
The woman however, found it frustrating that her opponent was just too hard to hit even with her attacks becoming more in clusters, she was expending chakra like all hell and she still hasn't had a hit in. Most shinobi would have stumbled by now, but this girl just kept evading her attacks like she had eyes on the back of her head!
Running low on chakra, she decided to mix and match her attacks. She grabbed another batch of her swallow shaped Senbon and let it fly as she clasped her hands together and began weaving hand seals.
"Hyoton: Tsubame Fubuki (Ice Release: Swallow Snowstorm)!"
The senbon seemingly came to life as it bent and glided in the air like a swallow and swooped down below to Sakura. The woman did not stop her onslaught as she unleashed three more batches, the patterns of the senbon changed direction and trajectory as it went another way and with her hoping that it created a much needed opening.
The hail of swallow shaped senbon intensified as Sakura let her footwork do its job, evading and weaving through the rain of senbon. She rolled on to the snow as she noticed that the jutsu had then surrounded her in four directions before it descended on her. Sakura, without any options left, reeled her right arm back as she clenched her hand into a fist and slammed it on the snow and ice below her.
The senbon had managed to find their mark, but it never reached their target. As they were impeded by a wall of ice that rose from the ground and the shockwave sent snow and shards of ice upwards that they had managed to protect Sakura from the oncoming wave that would have left her as a pincushion.
It was then that the woman saw her opportunity.
She swooped in downwards quick and landed on the snow her hand now touching the ice and with a menacing grin, she shouted the name of her jutsu, "Hyouton: Hyouro no Jutsu (Ice Release: Ice Prison Technique)!"
Pillars of ice rose from the ground and Sakura looked down below as the shards of ice began to assimilate her. With a split second decision, Sakura performed a set of hand seals, hoping against all hope that her gambit might work.
The woman looked proud of herself, when she saw her opponent trapped within the ice. Unlike the water prison, this jutsu was more lethal as her opponents suffer against the snap of the cold within seconds and die of hypothermia within her jutsu. She looked at her prey and smirked, this was a job well done.
Her smirk turned into shock when she saw her opponent not within the ice but rather, only her cloak remained. She was about to look around when Sakura had struck beside her like a looming shadow that had just found its prey.
"Soryu no Kajo (Coiling Twin Dragons)!"
In seconds, the woman's world turned black and white and could she suddenly feel pain on her right leg, and then noted her back was much lighter. She looked behind her and saw Sakura tearing her wings to pieces with her swords. Her chakra absorbing armor shattered not a scant few seconds later as a gash of blood erupted from her right leg and back.
Sakura had managed to cut off her leg in one powerful swing as she looked back at her opponent.
The woman slid down to the floor of ice as she frantically looked for her Senbon, but Sakura struck the woman's left arm, cutting it off as well and Sakura's gaze turned as cold as the icy seas themselves.
"You're too dangerous. I can't let you live." Sakura said this and steam began rising from around her, the snow beneath her began to melt as Sakura placed the swords on her back and her right hand had folded the ring and pinky finger, glowing bright as it turned into flames, her index and middle finger straight and extended while the flames danced wildly in her hand.
"Too bad for you, you faced the wrong enemy today."
"No, please! Have mercy!" She pleaded, despite the dismemberment and the pain that she was experiencing, Sakura
"Rekka Shinken (True Conflagration Sword)" Sakura then thrusted her finger to the woman's chest, now unprotected by her armor as she was immolated from within. She screamed for mercy some more, but Sakura had already done the deed.
She howled and screamed in pain as she burned into ashes.
Sakura looked on with no feelings of remorse whatsoever, her stoic look remains as she watches her enemy burn into nothing.
Tsunade had reminded her back then, that just as much as she is able to save a life, she can also take it away as well.
Was this what she would be expecting in Yuki no Kuni? What about the war that they were anticipating? Questions in her mind would have to be answered later as she saw a gigantic horned white whale emerging from the freezing ocean depths as it jumped upwards followed by a very loud and very powerful explosion.
As his opponent began to speed up and descend at him, Naruto pointed his finger at the man and fired his Shinkuu Ho directly as his arm received the recoil and forcing it up. The powerful stream of wind surged into the air and into his opponent who took it head on while Naruto looked astonished that someone was stupid enough to get caught in its path.
But his astonishment turned into surprise as the man simply absorbed the blow and the jutsu vanished as fast as it came.
That man was somehow absorbing his jutsu!
Naruto growled in frustration and began collecting chakra again at his right index finger and aimed it at the man again who was still charging at him. This time, Naruto decided to change his target and instead of a direct hit, he was going to slightly alter his aim. He crouched for a second and then slightly twitched his right hand to veer it slightly away at his opponent.
Naruto had let go of his jutsu and the recoil was much stronger this time as it sailed through the air with the man meeting that attack head on, but it would veer slightly off course as it sailed past him. Noting that the blonde was not good at aiming as he previously thought.
His gloating would have to wait as something had suddenly exploded behind him, sending shockwaves from there and him getting caught in the blast.
Naruto gave a menacing grin. It was just like when he faced Neji during the exams. His opponent could negate his jutsu, but he couldn't negate the impact if it missed slightly.
Naruto had the man dead to rights!
Recovering from that wipeout, the man was on his feet immediately as Naruto began shooting.
This time, the man had the mind to avoid the attacks completely weaving through the blasts of wind that Naruto was sending at him.
The man then aimed his armored hand at Naruto and fired his grappling hook.
Naruto was surprised when the armored claw hand launched at him quick. But with his quick reflexes, ducked from the claw hand and grabbed it by the rope with his left hand halting the attack. Not one to let this opportunity go, Naruto yanked the thick black rope with both his hands and flipped the man over his shoulder, who had let go of the board as he was slammed on the snow which, involving the distance from the man, doubled in power.
The man yowled in pain as the snow cushioned his fall. Naruto then crouched once more and dashed at the bastard who was recovering from his attack.
Naruto then appeared just to the front of his opponent and let go a massive uppercut on the man's chin. The man was sent upwards despite being twice Naruto's size and the man regained his balance once he took a step back, prebailing despite the power hidden deceptively in those blows. The man screamed bloody murder at him as he slams the ground with both his hands and the snow and ice were sent upwards. Naruto then jumped back, earning his original position as the man dashed at him now with his claws within his hands.
Naruto then met the man strength for strength as he was skidding back slightly as he was held by the man's hands with Naruto pushing back. The defiance of strength that Naruto made against him had surprised the man as no one had ever withstood him against strength alone until this day.
"I got you where I want you, ugly!" Naruto said and smiled with that dangerous glint in his eyes.
Soon, the man's right hand had seals creeping into them as Naruto patiently waited for the seal to take effect.
The man flinched when the seals began creeping its way to his chest. The man struggled to flail his arms only to finnd out how he couldn't move. Naruto then let go of his hands and said to his opponent, "Weren't expecting that, were you?"
Before any engangement had happened between them, Naruto had placed an incomplete seal for the Kanashibari at the palm of his gloves. The seals weren't noticeable unless Naruto revealed them but the blonde can complete the sequence when it makes contact to his targets, the seal will eventually complete itself with Naruto's guide and apply to his enemy upon contact.
The man struggled to get free as Naruto cracked his knuckles and began to ask.
"How did you know we were coming? Who gave you that information?"
The man didn't reply, Naruto headbutted the man by the nose and broke it. The bridge of the man's nose was now bent to an interesting shape.
He was about to beat the man up when he saw a giant one horned white whale as it rose from the icy ocean depths. He turned back to his prisoner and began to walk towards the creature. He could feel chakra surging from the thing and it was heading straight towards them and the ship.
Naruto effortlessly let the chakra of the Kyuubi take over as a red cloak surrounded him, this time with no tails. Blue eyes turning red and pupils into slits, Naruto had performed the Kage Bunshin and applied chakra to his hands. A mix of red and blue chakra began to spin madly in his right hand about the size of large iron ball, growing and growing bigger as his clone began applying wind chakra to it. Wind began to pick up as it began to swirl into his hand and four small blades of wind began to form and rotate around the sphere.
Naruto crouched law and jumped straight up on to the white whale. His right hand, containing the blue and red orb with the spinning blades of wind, reeled back and extended towards the jutsu once he got close.
"Fuuton: Oodama Rasengan (Wind Release: Great Ball Spiralling Sphere)!"
His jutsu clashed with the white whale's underbelly as the Hyouton technique shattered upon hearing a large explosion!
The white whale shatters upon impact of the jutsu.
Naruto was blown back as he was sent careening towards the iceberg and then landing on the snow and skidding back towards the boat but not before being caught by Sasuke and Sakura.
"How did it go?"
Sakura and Sasuke gave different answers.
"He got away."
Naruto smirked and pointed to his prisoner still frozen by the seal he had in place.
"We got a prisoner."
The man looked at the destruction that his opponent caused and soon realized that maybe, just maybe, they were the ones who were fucked.
Little did he know that these three teenagers were trained extensively by legendary shinobi and were soon about to make a name for themselves.
And soon, he would later find out.
Senju Tsunade sat at her desk as she anticipated her guests to come in. She had received report courtesy of one of her ANBU from the Southern Border outpost about their guest. Instead of either the grim news that she had come to expect about in the last few months, an opportunity opened up for her of news about the Mizukage and her entourage.
It was why, instead of having sent out Jiraiya to do his work today, she had her with him at all times. Her advisors, Koharu and Homura were competent people, they were sharp for their age and had been Hiruzen's council for most of their sensei's reign as Hokage. But she had a distrust of them with not on the same level as Danzo but it was still there. They had tolerated the rat just as much as they had stayed with Hiruzen. And although Homura and Koharu supported her during their selection for Godaime, they were not above stepping a few toes when they wanted to use Danzo either. To Tsunade, that was the last thing she needs in meeting up with foreign dignitaries who had the sincerity of using their leader first to negotiate the terms of a treaty.
It was why she had Jiraiya here instead of the two. Jiraiya may know a thing or two about what happened in Kirigakure and may help her gain the much needed understanding pertaining to what happened throughout the decade concerning the civil war there.
Jiraiya seemed willing to lend a hand here and the man looked serious for once.
"What do you know about the new Mizukage?" Tsunade asked her teammate and Jiraiya raised an eyebrow at this.
"Aside from the fact that she has two elemental Kekkei Genkai, not much. My sources tell me that she rose to power for the rebellion about three to four years ago, when one of the main proponents of the coup was discovered to be Momochi Zabuza who went rogue. It was her cunning and strategy that ultimately defeated Yagura, who, if you recall, was said to have perfect control of his bijuu, the Sanbi."
Jiraiya couldn't believe his ears when news reached to him how the current Mizukage had beaten Yagura who was seen as primed for complete control of the village with his might alone. Yet someone had done the impossible. And that someone was the current Mizukage.
A highly intelligent woman with the power to beat even a jinchuuriki in his perfect state. Tsunade anticipated that this woman might be shrew enough to turn the tides of the treaty more to herself than to Konoha.
Very few people could boast about going toe to toe with a jinchuuriki with complete control and coming out on top.
"Is there anything else that I should have to worry about?" Tsunade asked her teammate and Jiraiya shook his head.
"For now? Nothing. Kirigakure has been decimated by civil war. They are in worse shape compared to us. I would dare say that Suna is more dangerous compared to them at this point."
A soft click then enters their ears as Hatake Kakashi came inside with the delegates from Kirigakure behind him. The masked shinobi bowed to the Hokage and to Jiraiya and introduced his query to two of the Sannin.
"Jiraiya-sama, Hokage-sama, this is Terumi Mei, Godaime Mizukage of Kirigakure. They came here asking for your audience that concerns a proposal from Mizukage-sama herself."
The Mizukage bowed to the two as she made her way to her seat and Tsunade nodded to her as well. Tsunade had to take note of the Mizukage's beauty that seemed as elegant as the many aristocratic women she saw at the capital. But that elegance was tempered by years of war. She seemed like a calm woman that had a friendly enough demeanor. Tsunade looked at her side and saw Jiraiya looking serious.
She was surprised that he didn't make a fool of himself in front of a pretty lady.
"I thank you for entertaining my idea and for your hospitality, Hokage-dono." The Mizukage said with a smile her body language didn't seem to betray her expression, Tsunade and Jiraiya nodded.
Tsunade nodded, "It is of no consequence. Frankly, I would have made the proposal myself but since we are currently looking at something dangerous, we had to sort out all our ideas first before sending a missive to all affected countries. This seems like the best way to do so now."
Mei nodded as well, "Yes, I agree. Which is why before we can formally begin this meeting, I would like to share with you what we know about this organization named Akatsuki."
Jiraiya and Tsunade's attention were now fixed on the Mizukage as she began to tell what she knew about Akatsuki and how their influence has spread even to an archipelago nation like Mizu no Kuni. Jiraiya and Tsunade still did not know how deep the rabbit holes go, but if Kiri was anything to go by, then Akatsuki's influence stretched beyond borders of the mainland. Truly, a terrifying notion to have.
It was here that Jiraiya and Tsunade knew that the more they uncover about Akatsuki, the more terrifying they've become.
The public library was open most days. It was here that many people with time to spare went inside to do some reading. There was another library in Konoha, but it was off limits to any non-shinobi of the leaf.
So it was rare to see shinobi at this library reading more civilian books instead of other shinobi related business that seemed more important to the rest of the civilians.
But it was here that Sai was found, reading books and looking into different ways to blend in with people not out of genuine interest, but out of imperative from Danzo to slip by within Konoha's forces normally.
Ever since the blonde's return, Danzo had Sai reassigned back into his base out of fear that his agent would be compromised by Naruto. The blonde had a reputation to be a fool but that foolishness may as well be a front if he can be perceptive enough to recognize Sai's jutsu.
Quietly, he slinked back into the darkness and Danzo had him reassigned as more as an observer role rather than an infiltrator. It was much safer for the organization as a whole, anyway.
He vanished into the night just as much as he silently came as an infiltrator within Naruto's peers. He had made a lot of people upset with his words, words that spoke truth, to him anyway. And these blunders had made him stand out inadvertently.
Now, he must remain quiet and at a distance while doing his mission. Pr he would risk jeopardizing the entirety of ROOT.
"Sai, is that you?"
Sai's expression of total apathy was replaced when he saw a blonde haired girl about his age recognized him by appearance.
Sai was so startled at this that he had drawn a kunai from his sleeve. He was about to stab the girl until she approached him with a smile.
"It's been more than a week, Sai! Had Hokage-sama found a team for you?"
Sai had to calm his nerves down as he sat on front of Ino. If he was startled, he didn't damn well show it.
Sai regained his composure not a few seconds later, a hollow smile practiced with ease to hide his true intentions escaped him.
"No, I haven't. It seems that the Hokage has yet to find a team suitable for my skills."
Ino looked at Sai calculatingly for a few seconds, obviously telling her that his polite gesture and inviting smile were artificial at best. Like a mannequin.
He was tense from what Ino could deduce. The fact that his hands were in a closed fist so tight that it made his knuckles turn white and his feet were looking like he would jump anytime was an indication of training for saboteurs and professional infiltrators and assassins. Ino had to thread carefully, Sai knows she is part of her father's project. Sai would probably have enough suspicion to keep her at arm's length.
"That's weird. With your skills, you could just fit to almost any team."
'You are being watched. Someone is making sure you don't get what you have planned in mind.' Is what Sai got from Ino's words. The game of cat and mouse was beginning to unravel itself.
Sai remained calm and replied to Ino as mundanely as he could.
"There are just no teams available currently to have me as a replacement."
Ino remained quietly for a moment, looking like she was trying to decipher Sai's words as she then priedore to her conversation.
"Speaking of teams, what happened to your previous team anyway that got you placed in the reserves?"
Sai was now the one who remained quiet. The usual story that he would have come up was that his team had been killed. But against someone who usually involved herself in intelligence, that would be shaky at best. So he came up with a lie covered with enough truth.
"I didn't have a team, Ino-san. I was selected at a very young age in the orphanage to be trained by the ANBU and had been an agent since I was ten. My trainers had only given me teammates that I didn't personally know and their faces where hidden by masks. Sometimes we are paired more than once but most of the time, I didn't know who the person was behind the mask."
It was a lie made in truth for Sai, he had indeed been selected by the ANBU of Danzo's organization, but he knew of one agent personally. But Sai would rather not think about it.
Ino's expression turns serious as she asked, "How often is that common practice for ANBU to pick up orphans for their program?"
Now, Sai remains quiet again. Danzo had operated this way more often than not. Unlike the Hokage's ANBU, Danzo was not picky with his agents as long as they were able.
This time, it had taken him a few more seconds to reply, with Sai mentally reprimanding himself with that gaffe.
This time, Ino was able to pick up on Sai's silence. She started to pry further.
"You seem to be uncomfortable talking about your life there, Sai. Do you want to talk about your time as a trainee and agent?"
It was then that Ino sees Sai's expression for a second and she could see it all at once. Panic, terror, regret and fear. It was as if Sai had made a huge mistake. But within under that same second, Sai suppresses them with nothing but sheer will.
With no words to be said, Sai quickly picked up his things and left the library behind. Ino was about to give chase but stopped. She notices a small drawing book at the desk and picked it up. She sees a drawing of Sai, flipping it on its back, she sees another picture of another person, one she couldn't recognize.
Ino frowned. Sai had lied.
Yuki no Kuni:
Sasuke, Sakura and Naruto gathered around their prisoner, bound by a seal and secured thick rope. Naruto was currently applying a modified seal of the Kanashibari to maintain his grip on the man as he kept struggling and refusing to answer. Sakura had tried to drug the man to confess but no such luck. It seemed the man's brawn was equal to his mental fortitude.
"This is getting us nowhere! At this rate, we might as well surrender Yukie once we reach dry land!"
Naruto complained as Sasuke and Sakura looked at the blonde. It was his idea to begin with, so why was he complaining now?
With a sigh, Sasuke turns to the man and activated his Sharingan. The three tomoe began to spin slowly as he put the man into a trance when Sasuke stared at him.
"Your name." Sasuke commands and the man replied.
Sasuke then says another command, "Tell us everything that you know of Yuki no Kuni's military."
Like clockwork, the man named Mizore began to talk all that he knew about the shinobi of his country and their current dealings.
A few hours later, Sasuke asked his teammates to go into the deck as he brandished his sword.
Sakura and Naruto nodded grimly at what Sasuke intends to do.
A body bag and a few rocks later, the Shinobi are seen tossing something overboard with Naruto's clones cleaning up the room that they just used.
"A few thousand shinobi hired as missing nin and a delegate from Kumo to consider an alliance. I think this just got more complicated than we originally thought." Sakura commented as she tries to pry her thoughts away about disposing a person out of necessity. This mission now had no room for mistakes. A wrong move could spiral the entire continent into chaos.
"They had no idea who Kumo sent too. Must be a testament to their isolationist policies. We should avoid engaging Kumo as soon as possible." Sasuke added as Naruto nodded.
Their contemplations soon ended when they saw the harbor. Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura made the prudent decision to go first towards land and secure the area. All three of them ran on the surface of the water with Makino pointing to his camera man.
"YOU SEE THAT SHIT? PUT IT ON FILM BEFORE THEY'RE GONE! HURRY!"
It was at the port that Team Seven saw the entourage that was about to meet them. A group of ten people garbbed in winter clothes gathered around the harbor that they could tell was abandoned. That or it was a makeshift one, done in secrecy and away from towns. It was the most logical thing and seeing as the port was situated beside a mountainous area, that was difficult to traverse even for shinobi. Sandayuu had thought of everything, they commented.
'If the crew of the ship knew, then it meant that the ship's workers were also part of the rebellion. Which meant that the mole was outside of their current crew and inside one of the factions of Sandayuu's forces.'
Naruto thought, Sasuke and Sakura came to the same conclusion as well.
"Are you part of Sandayuu's help?"
One of the men asked, it was Sasuke who nodded.
"We are the Jounin bodyguards for Fujikaze Yukie. We made it our decision to secure the area before the ship disembarks here. Are you part of Sandayuu's group?"
One of them nodded and replied, "We are. We were supposed to be a group of twenty people. But current circumstances has forced us to act in smaller groups. The current Daimyo is cracking down on our group harder than before and supplies are dwindling. We apologize if this is all we can offer until we get into our base of operations."
Naruto nods at this and replies, "This is more than enough. A smaller group is much more efficient in movement. For now, we'll secure the area and be on the lookout for Dotou's troops. Once the film crew disembarks, are you planning on the ship here? Because we need to move fast."
The ten men, showing their garb beneath their cloaks shook their heads.
"The crew is also part of the rebellion. They will have to remain here and if discovered, will have to sink the ship."
The three all looked at each other before turning to the ten men and Sasuke replied, "You'd have to either move them away to a nearby island to hide them or have them come back to a scheduled time. Because we have bad news for you. Dotou knows who the heiress is and tried to have her captured. We think you have a mole in your ranks."
This put the men on edge as the mole could have jeopardized not just the whole operation but the entirety of the rebellion itself.
As soon as the film crew disembarks, they were ushered in by these ten men and advised them to move as quickly as possible.
A few hours of walking, Makino decides to film again and this time, it was by a neaby tunnel. The trio shrugged as Sandayuu's retainers had the perfect expression tonhide their dismay. Team Seven then does a head count and finds Koyuki missing.
This alarmed the retainers as they began searching for the heiress while Naruto and the rest had noticed a trail of footprints leading into the tunnel.
"For the love of... Sasuke, Sakura! I'm going inside! She musn't have gone that far!" Naruto shouted as he ran inside the tunnel leaving behind his teammates. Sakura had no time to remind her teammate about her warning earlier as Naruto had already gone inside. Sasuke shook his head at this.
It was going to be inevitable.
Naruto was starting to get annoyed about this whole mission. Beating up enemies? He was fine with that. Overthrowing evil despots? Sign him the fuck up. But what really gets him annoyed where these crazy situations that had to be needlessly complicated!
Naruto growled as he finally finds her, running away as best as she can and stumbling down for her efforts. Naruto found it pathetic, really. Inari was much the same way but more antagonistic until he regained his hope. This one looked like she had no fight her.
"After everything I said and you still run. Why do you keep doing this?"
Koyuki looked at her bodyguard, her eyes were filled with so much despair that she only looks down.
"I know, I'm pathetic. I could tell by the way you look at me. But this is the only thing I can do. I'm no warrior and I'll never be one. I don't have the strength that you and your team has. I can't even ask you to risk your life for me. I can't be the Daimyo, I just can't!"
Naruto stops his thinking for a moment and looks inside him as Asura held his shoulders. The man nods at Naruto wordlessly as if telling him to help. Naruto nods back and goes to Koyuki.
The blonde then crouches before Koyuki and held her shoulders firmly with his hands.
Koyuki notices now, that even though this boy was younger than her, his hands felt bigger than hers and his grip was warm enough to stave the cold away.
"If you can't fight, then you can borrow my strength and I'll fight in your steed, you can borrow my friends' as well. When people stumble and fall, there will always be others who will come to you to help you. All you need to do is ask, and they will. No one is powerless when they are surrounded with people. That's knowing what true strength is, to gather the strength of others, to become a force to beat all adversities. To make ideals come true."
Naruto then looks back inwardly towards Asura and then to Kurama who were looking at him intently. Asura, smiled and Kurama gave a huff even if the visage of the old man sage was in the presence of his current container.
Naruto then continues, this time tightening his grip on her.
"What is it that you truly want? What is it that will set you free? You can run away now, live life in seclusion knowing that danger is always around your shoulder. I won't fault you with it, not anymore. But you will never know what you are truly capable of and you will never know peace or what you were truly meant to be. Or you can borrow my strength and I'll fight for you, even if my legs and arms are cut. You will see me take down your uncle and you will see yourself giving the people of this country what they rightfully deserve. Do you want to run away? Or do you want to live?"
Koyuki had never seen someone so forceful with their convictions, so sure and certain of his words. She had been wallowing in her own darkness for so long that when a she finally saw the light, she immediately had clung to it for dear life.
Koyuki had grabbed on to the blonde and embraced him tightly never wanting to let go.
"I WANT TO LIVE!"
Naruto grinned at this and shouted, "That's right! LIVE!"
The smell of steam and the growing temperatures brought the blonde out of his thoughts as he noticed a track of iron laden beneath him. Then hebheard something loud, like the roar of a raging elephant and then the rumbling beneath his feet.
A streak of light suddenly faces them as Naruto's eyes widens. It was a train.
Naruto cursed and turned his back and started to run.
Naruto then shouted to Koyuki.
"Hey, Koyuki, do you want to see a miracle?"
Koyuki looked at the blonde grinning ear to ear as he continued to run while carrying her in his arms.
"We're going to fly!"
Naruto shouted as he jumped up, a cloud smoke billows from his feet as a board with multiple seals in place appears below him.
The blonde stomps his feet on the board in mid air and the seals all activated at once as they picked up the pace with the blonde now wearing a par of goggles from his eyes.
the wind picked up as they flew accross the tunnel picking up speed faster and faster as they finally went out and flew upwards.
Koyuki looked on in surprise, seeing as she now was in the air, with Naruto holding her tightly. A clone suddenly pops up beside them with the original handing over Koyuki to his clone with the blonde saying to her, "Watch me make a miracle."
Down below, Sakura and Sasuke were quick to evacuate the crew once they saw the iron train tracks. Dotou was moving quickly than anticipated but at least it confirms one thing for them, Dotou has an inside man. And it was not with them.
A few seconds later, They could hear something rumbling and a hiss from inside the tunnel.
Then, Naruto bursts out of the tunnel on his board with Koyuki in their arms as the two watched a train exit the tunnel and coming a full stop before them.
Steam wafted from its body as it gave a loud his, then the sound of metal moving occured and multiple little barrels filled with arrows and javelins began pointing at them.
"SAKURA!" Sasuke shouted as Sakura was already at work.
Sakura slams her foot hard at the snowy floor and the earth shook. Mounds of earth and stone popped up from the ground as Sakura's Jutsu took effect and it blocked the oncoming wave of arrows and spears. Sasuke then turned towards Sandayuu who was preparing himself as well as his fellow samurai about to charge straight into the train but Sasuke shook his head.
"Don't. We need your men alive Sandayuu. We have a country to fight. We can't have all of you dead if there is no army to fight yet!"
Sasuke then peered and saw a man of tall stature stand from one of the carts with Roga kneeling beside the man, now covered with bandages.
Sasuke watched as the man changed commanded the crew of his train tonchange the loadout of his weapons to high explosive ones to 'snuff out the little rats' hidden behind Sakura's earthen wall.
"Sandayuu! I'm a merciful man, hand over the princess and I will spare you the life of you and your retainers! Your family will grow in renown and you will live the rest of your life in luxury!"
Sandayuu honor bound to his lord and lady, had to reply despite Sasuke's warning.
"And let you kill the rightful daimyo of my counry? I am no fool! I and many of my men might live happily, but I will not stand by as you let the rest of our people suffer! You are a despot! You are a blight to the people with only power in your hands! I will not tarnish the Kazahana family in the name of your quest for power!"
'But it is a preferrable solution rather than see chaos.' The voice in Sasuke's head commented.
'What happens when you leave people to their own devices? You will see them more often fall into their own instincts. They will fight for their own survival. Because nothing ever exists in a vacuum. it will be filled, one way or another.'
Truth be told, the voice in his head had a compelling argument for that. Sasuke thought. But now qas not the time to contemplate on human nature.
Down below, Dotou looke almost dismayed. He turned to his crew and says, "He has made his choice. He will die. If the initial volley of explosives do not get him and this rabble, deploy fifty shinobi out and kill everyone beyond those walls."
Roga nodded as he jumped from his place with Dotou going back to the cart, fifty shinobi had deployed to outside the train. They were looking raring to go, but before a single shot had been fired, they heard a high-pitched whistle coming from the air with the pitch getting lower and lower followed by a loud booming sound.
Dotou looked around and saw Naruto coming straight for the train with gale force winds surrounding him as his speed began to pick up, faster and faster.
Dotou's eyes widened and had shouted to his crew, "Get us out of here, now!"
The turrets had no time to change as Dotou had the cart disengage and a baloon grew in size above his head levitating it upwards with Naruto crashing to the locomotive at front.
A little earlier, Naruto had began circling the air around the clone and Koyuki and she watched as Naruto got faster and faster woth each new spin before he rose up for a few meters and descended straight down like a dive bomb, the wind gathering around him. Koyuki saw all of this as she saw the boy be embraced by the winds itself as he went down below.
The high pitched whistling sound gave away his presence but it eas too late as the crew of the train had no idea what was to happen next.
"Fuuton: Kamikaze (Wind Release: Divine Wind)!"
Naruto crashes to the train headon and immediately, the engine at front was torn to pieces like paper with the winds tearing through the iron easily. Those operating the engine had no time to evacuate as they were immediately torn to shreds in an instant with the winds piercing the second cart destroying it as well, scattering coal around it as Naruto pierces the third cart, a stock room. Tons of high explosive rounds suddenly goes out in flames as Naruto's wind chakra caused friction in the ammunition setting off a powerful explosion but leaving Naruto unscathed as he pierces the fourth kart, one of the turrets, setting off another explosion with the crew inside.
If it weren't for Naruto's destructive winds, then they were surely incinerated or blown off with the blast.
Sasuke watched as Naruto caused untold destruction in his wake as a blimp escapes by the eighth cart. He motions for Sakura who nods at him. Sasuke then goes to Sandayuu telling him to remain in his place as they would handle the rest.
Sasuke jumped from their cover followed by Sakura as they both began preparing for their most widescale Jutsu yet. Sasuke began going through hand seals at a rapid pace as Sakura stuck her swords together, chakra gathering between the blades and it began to grow to turn into one colossal blade of chakra.
One thing Sakura had liked with her equipment was that it helped her store more chakra than necessary and helped her had backup as she needed basically doubling her longevity in a fight. But it also allowed her to do absurdly powerful jutsu without affecting her usefullness in battle.
"Zankanto! (Mountain cutting Sword)"
Sasuke ends his seal with the tiger seal
"Katon: Ryuen Hoka no Jutsu (Fire Release: Dragon Flame Caterwaul)!"
Sakura then jumped as her ever growing chakra blade crashes down to the Yuki Ninja with the chakra expelling on the ground and causing forth a wave of destruction, severing and dismembering shinobi in half with twenty dead or dismembered.
Sasuke's jutsu did not leave any one alive as the flames danced inbthe sky and began bomabrding yuki ninja left and right, incinerating them before theybcould even act.
His Jutsu may not be as destructive as Naruto's or Sakura's but he wasn't going to use his Mangekyo Sharingan now. And his jutsu would serve its purpose as it managrs to hit a stray explosive near his foes and going up in flames as weel.
Fifteen Shinobi lay dead at his feet as Naruto destroyed the rest of the train passing through the tunnel again and crashing on the snow at the other end.
Dotou watched as his small regiment of ninja get decimated in a matter of seconds. The girl with the pink hair and the black haired boy were cutting down stragglers left and right, burned and electrocuted. He watched as the blonde recovers and the boy secures Dotou's target, Koyuki. Dotou clenched his fist hard.
It seemed Konoha didn't underestimate him at all. But rather, they had sent their most dangerous.
His right hand man, Roga watched as these three lay waste to an entire regiment of ninja, eighteen entire platoons dead, with not even any survivors expected to make out alive.
They were an unstoppable force for any normal ninja. Not even their weapons and equipment could put a stop to them. Roga was shaken by this realization.
These were fledglings, yet they acted and moved like undefeatable gods.
Hakai no Mikami (Three Gods of Destruction).
Of Wind, of Fire and of Earth.
These will be their names. And Roga, for the first time in his life, prayed for a god to save him from this three.
Because they were going to destroy Dotou.
To be continued...
I wanted to give Sakura more flash in her skills. And although many of her moves have become pretty good fpr combat, what she needed was a Rasengan or a Chidori of her own but had to be different from her teammates, thus, Rekka Shinken was born.
As you can see, the new three way deadlock is born much earlier than in canon with Sasuke still in the village.
This small force will not be all for Dotou. He still has a small army at his side and the Kumo Ninjas are still very much in the country.
Next chapter will be the finale for this arc and then we can see the mayhem.
Read and Review folks
Original Jutsu corner:
炎遁: 緋々色金 Enton: Hihi'irokane (Blaze Release: Red Colored Metal)- A- rank- a jutsu that creates combines fire with lightning creating a supplementary sword for Sasuke's swordsmanship. Anything it touches gets incinerated and is sharp enough to cleave stone cleanly. The rank is high due to its very difficult nature to do. The basis of this jutsu is a mythical japanese alloy that turns red when forged. Probably an ore that Kimetsu no Yaiba has taken inspiration from as well in concern for its Nichiren blades.
烈火真剣 Rekka Shinken (True Conflagration Sword)- A-Rank- Sakura's very own jutsu unique for her control. This jutsu converts chakra into flames with so much intensity, that it first acts like a blow torch. The fire pierces the target and it burns them from inside out and instantaneously flash fires them within seconds leaving nothing but ashes. This is a dangerous technique as it requires Sakura to perform the jutsu without setting fire to herself by kneading the chakra just above her fingertips with enough later to protect herself from the heat. The inspiration for this is a combination of the Third Raikage's Jigokuzuki and some creative elements from an old manga called Flame of Recca.
風遁: 神風 Fuuton: Kamikaze (Wind Release: Divine Wind)- A- Rank- A jutsu that requires preparation time. Naruto gathers momentum in the air and as he does so, converts his chakra to wind and continues to gather them before he dive bombs straight at his target. The sheer force of his velocity, and with the added power of his wind chakra arround him, crashes and tears through most of his obtacles. The inspiration for this comes from Eureka Seven.
山切刀 Zankanto (Mountain Cutting Sword)- A-Rank- A destructive jutsu that creates a very large sword made of chakra. Sakura uses the chakra stored in her backpack and unleashes it on to her target. The target/s are then either blown or bisected with the sheer force of this jutsu. It is A-Rank for its destructive capability but exhaustive chakra use. It will be rarely used by Sakura as storing chakra in her pack takes time as much as the seal of the Byakugo no Jutsu. The inspiration for this comes from Super Robot Wars games, from Zengar Zonvolt's famous sword that transforms into a larger/different blade due to its special metallic properties.