A/N: Some spoilers for the Buffy season 8 and the Naruto manga (obviously) comics in this chapter. You’ve been warned. The bits I’ve included about Taki will probably only partially accept the events of the second OVA because it presumably isn’t canon anyway, but it does provide some insight into that village.
Naruto, sitting atop Hokage Mountain, stared out into the dark horizon. He was still trying to sort out all the memories he had gained with his own memories. It was all so confusing. Every time he reached for people in his life, he ended up with people Buffy’s life. Thoughts of Tsunade inevitably led to thoughts of Joyce, Jiraiya brought out a very pervy, immature Giles, and Sakura of course led to Willow. This was perhaps the most difficult of all since, in a way, Sakura was Willow.
The memories also made him feel a bit stupid sometimes. Buffy’s memories of leading the Slayers just showed how ill-equipped he was to be Hokage. This was a mixed bag, however, since those same memories showed him how to be an effective leader.
Then there were the anatomy lessons. Buffy’s memories of the menstrual cycle had been fairly disturbing to Naruto, as had her sexual misadventures. Angel, Parker, Riley, and Spike squicked Naruto a bit. Satsu, on the other hand, had greatly intrigued him. Those were memories Naruto was very willing to explore.
The physical changes were disturbing as well. His strength and speed had grown to astounding new heights, so that he wasn’t sure of his new limits. He knew Slayers had impressive physical abilities, but this was far beyond anything any Slayer he could remember.
He hadn’t gotten any prophetic dreams, yet, but he had inherited another Slayer ability. He could sense the other bijuu much in the same way Buffy could sense vampires, though it obviously had a much wider range, an entire continent compared to a single building. There were two to the northeast, very close to each other, one to the southwest, one to the east, and two to the northwest, though they were fairly far apart.
He focused intently on them, seeing if he could tell a difference. Suddenly something appeared in front of his face and he fell backwards, letting out a startled yelp. He jumped to his feet and blushed a little when he saw it was Sakura. Hovering in mid air.
“Sorry,” she apologized, “I just wanted to show you I’ve got flight down.”
“Wow!” Naruto exclaimed, “It took Willow years to get that down!”
She floated forward a little and landed.
“Yeah, I know all the spells Willow knew, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to do it with chakra instead of magic,” she said.
“Why can’t you just use magic?” Naruto asked.
“Whatever happened to the world to make it like it is now must’ve gotten rid of all the magic as we know it,” Sakura speculated, “Chakra works just as well and is very similar, though it feels a bit different. Of course my chakra reserves aren’t anywhere near the amount of magic Willow had.”
“Could Twilight have won?”
“It’s possible,” she replied, “My memories cut off just after we finished off the vampires in Japan.”
“Same here,” Naruto said.
“Do you find it odd how culturally similar the Shinobi Countries are to Japan?” she asked, “Or for that matter, how much our language sounds like Japanese?”
"Huh, that is
There was an awkward pause.
“So…have you figured out how to do anything besides flying?” Naruto asked.
“I’ve tried a few simple spells that Willow learned when she was first starting out and they worked, but flight has been the first major thing I’ve tried. I’m hoping to be able to teleport people to me soon.”
“Hey! Then you could bring Sasuke back!”
“That’s kind of the point, Naruto.”
He blushed a little and began rubbing the back of his head.
With unexpected suddenness he found himself inside the sewer-like space of his mind, before the cage that imprisoned the Kyuubi. Enormous red eyes stared back at him, though carried almost none of the malice they previously did. There was still bloodlust there, but it didn’t feel directed at him like before.
“What am I doing here?” Naruto demanded, “Hey, stupid fox!” “Silence, you impertinent brat,”
the Kyuubi said, its voice now a combination of its original voice, thousands of individual female voices, and another deeper voice all speaking at once, “I have something very important to tell you and very little time.”
A bit of light slipped in through the cage bars to reveal black fur rather than the Kyuubi’s characteristic red.
“What the hell happened to you?” “I am no longer just the Kyuubi no Yoko. I have become one with the Slayer spirit and the entirety of the Slayer line. But now is not the time for that, you jinchuriki are in danger and the entire world with you. The Akatsuki already have three bijuu in their possession and each one they capture brings the world closer to the apocalypse. The Akatsuki leader intends to use our power to create a jutsu of unimaginable destruction, but I have seen what will truly come to pass. An abomination will be spawned from combining us and its power will make even me look like a helpless kit. You must prevent them from capturing any more bijuu.”
“How do you know this stuff and more importantly why are you doing this?” “Have you forgotten the Slayer’s ability to see the future? As for why I’m doing this…”
His mouth spread into a large toothy grin. “The little girls inside me won’t let me stand by and let the world end. Shukaku will be first, but if the witch flies you there you should be able to get there in time. However, I suggest you tell the old woman to send others after the other bijuu. The witch can use a locator spell or something to find them. Now go!”
With that Naruto found himself back in the real world sitting on the ground with Sakura standing over him looking concerned.
“Sorry, I guess I just…” he began.
“It was the Kyuubi, wasn’t it?” she interrupted.
He froze. It felt like someone had punched him in the stomach. How could she know about that?
“Please don’t lie to me Naruto.”
He hung his head in defeat and sighed heavily.
“Who told you?”
“I actually kind of figured it out on my own. It makes sense if you think about it. You were born on the day of the Kyuubi attack, people have been scowling and glaring at you for as long we’ve been in the same squad and willing to bet it’s been longer than that, you had no friends up until after you graduated from the academy, and then there was that weird chakra I felt coming from when we were up against Zabuza and Haku. But it didn’t really come together until I got Willow’s abilities. Your energies are off, like there’s something foreign inside you. Once I sensed that everything else just confirmed it.”
Awkwardly she leaned down to embrace him. He felt a slight blush on his cheeks at having her so close.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispered, “It must’ve been so hard and I certainly didn’t help things.”
“It’s okay, Sakura-chan,” he said.
She pulled away and regarded him with those emerald eyes. She looked like she might cry as lowered her head and put her hands together.
“But it’s not okay. I treated you like Cordelia treated Willow and Xander for no other reason than that’s how everyone else acted and for that I’m really sorry. I swear I’ll make it up to you.”
“Sakura-chan…” he trailed off, then perked up a little, “Don’t worry about it! I don’t hold it against you. You were just trying to fit in and I can understand that. Besides, when I’m Hokage, none of that will matter because everyone will respect me!”
She looked back up at him and smiled a little.
“Oh Naruto…so what did it want?”
“Oh yeah! We need to go see Tsunade-obaachan! I’ll explain it on the way there.”
He looked around a little and then gave Sakura a sheepish look as he rubbed the back of his head.
“Can we fly there?” he asked a bit shyly.
She seemed a little taken aback by his request, but nodded.
“I guess so,” she said, “but you do realize she’s just right down there and you won’t be able to explain on they way, don’t you?”
He rubbed the back of his head and laughed a little.
Tsunade rubbed her temples in annoyance. She and Shizune had been preparing to head home for the night when Naruto and Sakura had appeared at her window with a very troubling request. On top of that, Sakura had some how figured out about the Kyuubi using her new powers, which meant it was possible the others might also. She was still cursing herself for allowing that to be used on them. However, now was not the time to worry about that.
“Let me get this straight,” she said, “you want me to bring all the bijuu, some of which could be sealed in enemy ninja or not sealed at all, here to Konoha on the word of the very creature that attempted to destroy it.”
“Heh,” Naruto replied, “Basically, but it sounds a lot better if you don’t phrase it like that. Besides, it’s not all of them since Akatsuki already has three of them.”
“Do you have any idea what the consequences of that could be?! The Council will be livid and it could pose an unimaginable threat to village security, not to mention it will draw the full attention of the Akatsuki on us!”
Naruto banged his fist on her desk.
“But if we don’t do anything it’ll be the end of world!” Naruto objected, “Let the old geezers be angry, but my past life taught me that Councils are good for nothing but stupid rules that put people in danger!”
She couldn’t help but smirk at his determination, but his demands were still outrageous. She quickly put back on her serious face.
“Listen brat. I have a responsibility as Hokage to do what’s right for this village.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, this village is part of the world and if the world gets destroyed, so does Konoha!”
“And what if the Kyuubi is lying? It has no reason to like us or want to help us and I’d be willing to wager there’s something in it for the fox. That’s a bet even I could win.”
Naruto was about to make another outburst when Sakura laid a hand on his shoulder. He looked at her and she smiled.
“Tsunade-sama,” Sakura said, “Naruto is right.”
Both blonds in the room raised their eyebrows in surprise.
“If we underestimate this threat, if we sit around and do nothing, we may very well lose something precious and ourselves with it.”
Naruto felt a pang of sympathy as he continued staring. She was talking about Tara. Even if this was a new life, something like that still had to be painful.
“The cost of inaction is too great,” she continued, “Naruto and I spent the better part of our former lives sacrificing everything for the sake of the world. If we must, we’ll do the same in this life.”
Tsunade seemed quite taken aback by her words and her cold tone.
“You’ll become missing-nin?” she asked plainly.
Both of them nodded in unison. Tsunade sighed and put her hands together. A tense moment passed as they stared each other down. Shizune and Tonton seemed more than a bit uncomfortable.
“You kids will be the death of me,” she said, “Fine, but you should realize that my ass is on the line here and I will hold both of you responsible if anything happens. I may like you two, but I’m still the Hokage.”
Naruto’s face split into a huge grin.
“I knew you’d see things our way!” he exclaimed.
“Don’t make me regret it,” she replied sternly, “All right, I’ll see what intelligence I can get on the bijuu to narrow down their locations. If I can track down Jiraiya I’ll have him put his information network on it as well.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Sakura said, “I know a few locator spells that should allow us to find out where they are. I just need to go get a few supplies from my house.”
She went over to the window and stepped out onto the roof.
“I’ll be right back,” she said and flew off.
“Show off,” Naruto muttered under his breath.
“Naruto, can Sakura really locate all the bijuu using just a map and few herbs?” Tsunade asked, “I’ve seen a few demonstrations of her abilities, but nothing like that.”
He gave her that characteristic Naruto smile.
“Of course!” he replied, “Willow was an awesome witch and I’m sure Sakura is every bit as good!”
Tsunade grew thoughtful for a moment.
“Do you suppose she knows any spells that can alter probability?” she asked.
Naruto, Shizune and Tonton all sweatdropped.
“Tsunade-sama!” Shizune chastised, “How can you think of using Sakura’s power for gambling.”
“I wasn’t referring to gambling,” Tsunade replied quickly, “I was referring to using to turn the tide in a fight. Luck can play as much of a role as skill.”
Shizune still seemed a bit dubious, but nodded.
It didn’t take long for Sakura to return. She quickly set about preparing for the spell. The map was stretched out on Tsunade’s desk and Sakura placed incense burners in each of the cardinal directions. She also had several herbs burning in a stone bowl placed above the map.
She began muttering a language long forgotten to the world. Naruto would identify it as Latin, but to Tsunade and Shizune it sounded as though she was possessed.
The smoke from the incense swirled above the map and then dispersed. Nine spheres of light hovered over the map. The kanji for ‘one’ and ‘seal’ appeared in the sphere over Suna. Two points landed over Kumo, one with the kanji for ‘two,’ one with the kanji for ‘eight,’ and the both with the kanji for ‘seal.’ The kanji for ‘three’ appeared over the ocean between the Fire Country and the Water Country, but this one lacked the kanji for seal. The kanji for ‘four’ along with ‘seal’ appeared on the border of the Earth Country and the Grass Country. ‘Seven’ and ‘seal’ appeared over Taki. Finally, ‘nine’ and ‘seal’ settled over Konoha.
The three remaining spheres hovered for a moment, then gracefully descended on the River Country and disappeared through the map.
“I guess those are the three they’ve already got,” Naruto said.
Shizune and Tsunade both looked stunned.
“I can’t believe it was that easy to locate them,” Tsunade said while staring at the map, then she looked up at her student, “Sakura, when this is over I’m ordering you to begin teaching magic at the academy.”
“Yes, Tsunade-sama,” the pink-haired kunoichi replied.
“Hey Sakura,” Naruto piped up, “Do you think you could find that Akatsuki with this spell?”
“Probably,” she replied, “That’s actually a really good idea. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that.”
She turned back to the map and began incanting again. This time the smoke formed into ten red clouds that looked very much like the clouds on the Akatsuki members’ cloaks. Each one also had a kanji on it.
Clouds containing the kanji for ‘zero’ and ‘white’ descended onto Ame. Two clouds with the kanji for ‘blue-green’ and ‘sphere’ descended over the Wind Country, not far north of Suna. A cloud with the kanji for ‘boar’ descended onto the River Country. Clouds with the kanji for ‘scarlet’ and ‘south’ descended over southern Grass Country. ‘North’ and ‘three’ clouds moved over the northeast of the Fire Country. Finally, ‘sky’ rested over Oto.
“Forget the academy,” Tsunade said, “You’re going to be teaching ANBU, but that will have to wait. Shizune, send for Kakashi, Gai, Asuma, Kurenai, their teams, and Temari and prepare a request that the Raikage and the leader of Taki come here to come here to Konoha and bring their jinchuriki so that we may assess the situation.
“Right away, Tsunade-sama,” Shizune relied.
Shizune was only gone a few minutes and had only just stepped back through the door when Team Gai arrived. All three carried their zanpakuto, Neji and Lee at their waist and Tenten horizontally on her lower back. Neji now wore an odd headpiece and a silk scarf. Rock Lee now wore an eye patch over his left eye. Tenten had cut and styled her hair into a shorter style. Gai, of course, had to go on about how strong and youthful his team had become.
Team Eight was next. Hinata now wore a white jacket and red pants and had both a bow and a quiver full of arrows across her back, making her look somewhat like a miko. Shino was much the same as always, only adding a shakujo to his arsenal. Kiba’s new ears and hair color change were the only difference in him. Considering his clan’s association with dogs, most people assumed this was the result of some new jutsu.
Team Ten come shortly afterward. None of them looked any different than normal, extremely surprising considering how different they had looked not long ago. Apparently they had figured out how to change between forms. Temari had come with them, causing Naruto to again raise his suspicions of a relationship between her and Shikamaru.
Kakashi, as always, was the last to make it.
Tsunade cleared her throat once the entire group had arrived to get their attention.
“I have called you all here because some very disturbing information has come to light,” she began, “the criminal organization known as ‘Akatsuki’ has been capturing bijuu for some unknown purpose. However, whatever Akatsuki’s ends, we have reason to believe they pose a huge threat not just to Konoha, but to our allies. For that reason I am sending you all on an S-rank mission to deal with the Akatsuki and possibly bring the jinchuriki and bijuu here for safekeeping. I’m also declaring any information pertaining to this mission as an S-class secret. It will be extremely dangerous, but after the descriptions and demonstrations of abilities I have received from each of you after you underwent Zensei Ryouhou, I believe you to be fully capable of defeating them.”
She pointed to the map before her.
“First of all, I’m going to assign Kakashi, Naruto, and Sakura to escort Temari back to Suna and protect the Kazekage from the two Akatsuki members who shall be known as ‘Blue-green’ and ‘Sphere.’ Gai, Neji, Lee, and Tenten, you four are going after that Akatsuki members ‘Scarlet’ and ‘South’ and, should the jinchuriki be non-hostile, try to bring him back as well. Asuma, Shikamaru, Ino, and Chouji, the four of you will be pursuing ‘Three’ and ‘South.’ Prevent them from making it out of the Fire Country at all costs. At the very least, keep them from getting into the Lightning Country. I’m going to make contact with the Raikage and the leader of Taki to discuss what should be done with their jinchuriki. Do any of you have any questions?”
“Wait a minute,” Shikamaru said examining the map, “I was always told the Yondaime killed the Kyuubi, but according to this it’s sealed in side of someone.”
“Hey, yeah!” Ino exclaimed.
Naruto tensed noticeably and a nervous look passed between the four jounin sensei.
“Perceptive as ever,” Tsunade said, shooting Sakura a look for being so careless, “All of that information is highly classified and has a death penalty attached to it so I suggest that you drop it.”
Ino looked a bit disappointed and sent Sakura a questioning look, but a shrug was her only reply. Shikamaru, on the other hand, seemed to already be trying to puzzle it out.
“Hokage-sama,” Kurenai interrupted, “What is my team’s assignment?”
“Ah, I was just about to get to that,” Tsunade said, “As I understand, Hinata and Shino possess powerful spiritual abilities and were able to purify yokai in their past lives. I would like to know whether they can believe this will work on the bijuu on a large enough scale to kill or seriously injure it.”
“It is difficult to say for certain, Hokage-sama,” Shino replied, “From what I understand, bijuu are creatures composed of chakra, though their chakra is somehow different than human chakra. Likewise, yokai are composed of yoki molded into physical form rather than true flesh. As such, we should be able to purify their demonic chakra in the same way that we can purify yoki, but there is still a chance it would not work.”
“Hinata, your thoughts?”
“I agree with Shino,” she said, trying her best not to stutter in front of the Hokage, “I would imagine there isn’t a major difference between yoki and demonic chakra.”
“Very well, your assignment is to go after the Sanbi. Kill it if you can, capture it if you can’t. There’s a small port city called Mita near the Land of Waves. I’m appropriating funds for you to rent out a ship to find it and, if necessary, drag it back. I know of a captain there who knows how to keep his mouth shut. You will be coming ashore here” she indicated an uninhabited area in eastern Fire Country, “where a group of shinobi will be waiting to help you transport it back. If they cannot give you the names of your preincarnations, attack them immediately.”
She turned to Temari.
“As you are not a ninja of this village, I cannot give you orders. However, as our ally and the sister of the Kazekage I trust that you will only reveal any of this to your brother. Please extend to him an invitation to attend the meeting with the Raikage and the leader of Takigakure.”
She returned her gaze to the whole room.
“Those are your orders. I want you to leave within a half an hour. Dismissed.”
Everyone nodded and began to head for the door.
“Wait a second,” Sakura said.
They all gave her their attention. She motioned at the spheres and clouds on the map, which immediately flew to the group assigned to them.
“These will lead you to your targets,” she told them, “If you need to hide them for stealth, just grab them and stuff them into something.”
Tsunade held back a sigh until the last of them, Naruto, exited the room. She promptly reached into her desk and brought out a bottle of sake.
“The Council’s gonna kill me when they find out about this,” she said plainly, “I really need to learn some self control when it comes to those brats.”
“So what are you going to do about the four others?” Shizune asked.
“‘Sky’ is obviously Orochimaru, though I’m not sure why Sakura’s spell would still count him as an Akatsuki member,” Tsunade replied, “‘Boar,’ ‘Zero,’ and ‘White’ bother me. Boar is the only one without a partner and both Zero and White stayed put in Ame while the others moved around throughout the entire meeting and Ame doesn’t have a bijuu. I’m going see what intelligence Jiraiya’s network can get on what’s going in the Rain and River Countries.”
Sasuke looked at Kabuto disinterestedly as the medic nin took a seat next to him. His gray hair was severely out of place and he had dark circles under his eyes that very nearly rivaled Gaara’s.
“Has there been any change in his condition?” the traitorous Uchiha asked, maintaining his aloof demeanor.
“No,” Kabuto replied flatly, not even bothering with his polite mask, “I’ve run every test I can think of and I’ve had every medic and scientist working on it nonstop and our top interrogators have been using every method available to extract information from our spy, but I can’t figure out what happened to Orochimaru-sama. Every test and experiment indicated Zensei Ryouhou was perfectly safe and beneficial.”
“Perhaps I should see him for myself,” he suggested nonchalantly.
“Why would you want to do that?” Kabuto asked suspiciously.
For as long as Sasuke had been with them, Kabuto had never really trusted him. The Uchiha was only in this for power and was fully aware that Orochimaru intended to take his body. If he didn’t remain loyal to the friends who had cared about him and treated him so kindly and the village that had spent its time and resources to train him and instead chose the very man who would like nothing more to see both of those completely obliterated, then what reason did Kabuto have to believe that he wouldn’t turn on Orochimaru the first chance he got in order to go after Itachi?
It took a moment for Kabuto’s sleep deprived mind to process the fact that Sasuke had activated his Sharingan. The Uchiha was gone in a blur and Kabuto was painfully aware of how dulled his own reactions were as he attempted to duck. His last coherent thought was a curse at himself for being so careless as not to remember to take a soldier pill as Sasuke’s fist collided with his head.
“Pathetic,” Sasuke said as he strolled out of the room.
He expertly made his way down the halls of Orochimaru’s base. Various minions gave him bows and words of praise. Like their opinion of him mattered.
It didn’t take him long to reach Orochimaru’s room. Inside he could hear the Snake Sannin raving insanely. Many of the words were nonsense and others sounded like random names. He stepped into the darkened room to see Orochimaru cowering against the wall. He closed the door behind him and walked to the middle of the room.
Orochimaru turned and eyes him warily. There was no recognition in those eyes, only madness.
“Envy?” he asked, “Faith?”
“No, I feel no envy of you,” Sasuke mocked, “Nor do I have any faith in you.”
He began approaching the Sannin, drawing his blade. Suddenly Orochimaru slammed his hands onto the ground. Instantly the ground lit up and Sasuke couldn’t believe he had failed to notice the seal on the ground.
“Avada Kedavra!” Orochimaru shouted triumphantly as the world turned white.
Sasuke suddenly found himself in a completely empty space all alone. The infinite blankness stretched on for eternity. The only things that broke up the white scenery were too huge black gates on either side of him. One was bordered with statues of people and the other had a series of circles connected by lines on it. He activated his Sharingan to get for genjutsu, but found none.
“Well, well, it’s been a while since I’ve had a human guest, several apocalypses in fact,” a voice said.
“Who’s there?” Sasuke demanded, “Where am I?”
What appeared before him was the vague outline of a person that seemed to blend with their surroundings.
“I was once many things, ‘God,’ ‘Truth,’ ‘the Universe,’ to name a few. In this cycle I’m nothing, but that’s not really important nor is your location,” it said, “The important thing is what I can do for you, assuming you’re willing to pay the price. So tell me, what is it that you want more than anything else?”
“Power,” he said without hesitation, “The power to kill my brother and avenge my clan.”
“That can be easily arranged.”
It motioned to the gate with circles on it. It swung open to reveal a black void with a gigantic eye, out from which fell a strange stone sarcophagus. The gate promptly swung shut.
“I wish I could show you the truth like in the good old days, but it would be useless to you and the exchange wouldn’t be equivalent. Now, your payment.”
Sasuke felt a searing pain in his right eyes and immediately clutched it. He watched in horror as his eye appeared on the face of the Truth.
With a sudden rush he was back in Orochimaru’s lair with the stone sarcophagus next to him. The Snake Sannin himself was nowhere to be seen, but Sasuke had more pressing concerns, not the least of which was his missing eye.
Everything that had just happened to him made absolutely no sense and he still trying to puzzle it all out. He suddenly felt himself growing dizzy and he reached out to steady himself on the sarcophagus. A hole on the top of it opened and there was a strange whooshing sound just as Sasuke took a nice, deep breath.