Tsunade produced a scroll and pressed it into Naruto’s good hand. Naruto stared the scroll for a moment, recognizing the type of animal contract immediately.
"This is . . ." breathed Naruto.
"The blood contract with you is already complete." said Tsunade. "Hurry up and summon him."
"But wh-" Naruto began.
"Just do it!" Tsunade snapped.
Naruto flipped the scroll in the air, bit his finger, and then unbound it in one motion. Slamming his palm onto the seal with perfect timing as it struck the ground in front of him, a large plume of smoke emitted from the scroll. When the smoke cleared, in its place was a medium sized frog about a large as Naruto’s forearm. The frog’s orange-brown skin looked leathery and old, and it had big bushy white eyebrows and a small pointed beard of the same color.
"Yo, kid." said the frog in a wheezy voice. "Nice to finally meet you."
Tsunade stood up and began walking towards the entrance.
"There’s no time for pleasantries I’m afraid, honored elder," said Tsunade without looking back.. "He needs to know now, before . . ."
"Before what?" said a shrewd, contemptuous voice from the entranceway. The voice had come from a weathered looking old lady, a long hairpin holding her silvery hair in a neat bun. She peered at Tsunade, and then at Naruto with beady little eyes that seemed to be barely open. Naruto recognized the council member Koharu Utatane immediately. Naruto had seen the other council member with her before too, but couldn’t place the name of the silver haired man wearing dark glasses. A third man that was in tow behind the two looked even more injured than Naruto. He walked with a cane, had only one arm, and his forehead was bandaged in such a way that it covered his right eye as well.
"Before there are any interruptions." Tsunade finished.
"You mean before we catch you going behind our back again. Don’t you Tsunade?" said the male elder."
"This matter is a private one for Naruto," countered Tsunade. "And I treated it as such."
"Nothing concerning the Jinchuriki is a private matter, Tsunade" the man chided. "Surely you must realize that?"
"I don’t remember reading that law, Homura-San" Tsunade spat.
Now Naruto remembered. The Man was called Homura Mitokado. He was the lady Utatane’s team mate from ages ago. But the sickly looking man Naruto still did not recognize.
He just stood there, still in the hallway, watching the whole exchange without so much as a twitch to his expression. He remained passive, almost oblivious, but yet Naruto could see a keen mind working behind the one uncovered eye. If anything was certain, that man was dangerous.
Wanting to escape the tense moment building between the village leaders, Naruto eyed the old little frog who had jumped up into his lap after being summoned. A closer look revealed a strange series of numbers branded across its back. 9, 31, 8, 106, 7, 207, and 15. What in the world could these mean? Naruto wondered.
"Its not about the law, Tsunade." said Koharu menacingly. "Its about your reckless actions. Allowing Master Jiraiya to go on that foolish errand for instance. You threw away one of our best assets!"
Naruto felt a cold chill in the pit of his stomach. What had the elder just said?
"Hey, kid!" said the old frog in his lap. "Stop listening to the bickering of old fools. We got business you and I."
"B-But what did she mean by . . ."
The frog suddenly looked sad . . . well . . . for a frog anyway. Naruto was getting more and more used to the subtleties of the small amphibians. And this one was definitely upset.
"It’s true, kid." said the old frog. "I was there with your teacher in the end. These numbers on my back were his last message to you. You’ll understand what they mean later, but first . . ."
"No way." Naruto said. "Ero-Senin is . . . Jiraiya is . . ."
It couldn’t be true. There had to be some mistake. He had to be just goofing off some pleasure house somewhere. He must have faked it. The cold feeling spread from Naruto’s belly outward to his chest. He couldn’t breathe. His eyes glazed over. He began to feel hot. The heat battled the cold, spreading from a place between his ears and rushing downward.
He’d felt it before. It was raw, untamed power, and already it wanted to consume him. But Naruto wouldn’t, couldn’t ever let that happen again. He took some deep breaths. Not this time, you damn fox! Naruto thought.
"But, how?" Naruto asked through gritted teeth.
"He went to gather information of the Akatsuki leader," said the frog. "But ended up running afoul of him. But nevermind that for now, first this is about your destiny! I have another summon for you and . . ."
"Damn it." Naruto growled. He gripped the arms of his wheelchair tightly, and the metal began to crack and bend. "Damn them. Damn them all! I won’t forgive them! I won’t!" Hot tears began to stream down Naruto’s face.
"Get a hold of yourself, kid!" the frog shouted.
"Yes, I would advise that." Jinchuriki, said the one armed man. Who had slunk forward toward Naruto as the two women bickered. "Emotions will lead to your ruin."
"Stay out of this, Danzo!" Tsunade snapped.
Danzo! Thought Naruto. So this was the man who Yamato had thought might want to wrest control of Konoha for himself. Naruto looked at the man with burning red eyes. He could feel his teeth begin to grow and grind, pleading with him to let lose, to tear the traitorous bastard limb from limb. This was the man who had ordered an assassination attempt on Sasuke!
Still Naruto fought with everything he had to calm himself. He had to know what this old frog was after. Old lady Tsunade was obviously risking much bringing him here. But why had she taken so long to tell him about . . . about . . .
"Why do you resist, brat?"said a voice from deep within Naruto. "Let us dispose of this threat to your precious village here and now, hmmm?"
Naruto began to feel more and more like he was trying to stay afloat in a riptide. Something dark and menacing was threatening to pull him down into the depths of his own heart, to places he dare not go. He fought for control, but he could feel it slowly starting to slip away. Naruto fell out of the chair and onto his knees, and when he looked at his good hand he saw it had begun to glow orange. His cast disintegrated, and suddenly his wounds had no pain. The old frog leapt away from him and up on top of the bench, while the two ANBU took up strategic positions at the open roof of the courtyard.
No! Thought Naruto. I have to stop this!
"Yamato!" cried Tsunade. "Help him. Quickly!"
"Right!" Said a voice from the corner.
Even though Naruto’s vision was clouded with red, he could see the spiked wooden stalks of Yamato’s sealing jutsu begin to grow out of the ground around him. So Tsunade had come prepared. Naruto began to feel relieved.
"Its useless, brat." Taunted the Kyuubi within Naruto. The demon had a way of goading him when he least wanted it. "Your master is dead because you were weak. You are too weak without me. Why do you delay the inevitable. Together we can put a stop to all of this foolishness."
"You see, Tsunade!" the elder Koharu spat. "Now you have endangered us all!"
"I recommend council members," said Danzo. "That we withdrawal from this place. You see now how our Hokage’s emotions have lead us astray. Of course, I expect you will take action to consider the steps necessary to place the Jinchuriki under my care? Just like I promised I can guarantee to keep him safe and out of the way."
Naruto couldn’t believe what he was hearing. And it enraged him further.
"You . . ." Naruto growled in an unnatural voice. "You mean lock me away! I won’t allow it!"
"Danzo! You fool!" Tsunade screamed. It was the last coherent thing Naruto heard.
Naruto spiraled downward into blackness. His skin began to burn. This part always hurt so bad. But he hurt worse on the inside. Everything hurt. His master was gone. Danzo had the council in the palm of his hand, and now . . . now they wanted to lock him up! The fox was right, there was no escape.
"Nooooooooo!" Naruto yelled. His voice an unnatural demonic scream as he assumed a posture like a four-legged animal. He could feel the power of the tails forming behind him, and his face contorted and began to change. But he couldn’t move, as if he was struggling against heavy chains. All he desired now was to break those chains, and lash out at his enemies.
"Hokage-sama!" A distant sounding Yamato called. "I can’t hold it! Its like before, when the masked Akatsuki was around, like its adapting to my seal!"
"Yes, boy. They can no longer hold you back." Said the demon fox into Naruto's mind as if in response. "Its time to claim your destiny."