Somewhere at the outskirts of the Land of Ancestors,
"Orochimaru… you are a wanted criminal. A rogue ninja from Konoha. Tell me… why shouldn't I capture you and hand you over to Konoha."
A masked figure in red clothes faces Orochimaru.
"Now… now. Both of us have the same goal. You want to plunder all of Konoha's resources, whereas I want to destroy Konoha."
Orochimaru licks his lips as he stares at the figure.
"Orochimaru… We had signed a peace treaty with Konoha. Stop festering baseless assumptions of your own." The masked figure rebukes Orochimaru.
"Hoh… No wonder, Sasori calls you two-face. If I want to destroy Konoha… I can ally with any other nation. But I choose to talk to you for a reason."
Orochimaru takes out a scroll and throws it towards the masked figure.
The masked figure catches the scroll and reads its content.
A frown appears on his face as he holds the scroll tightly.
"Orochimaru… you are also aware of the fact that Konoha has many formidable ninjas protecting it…" The masked man remarks.
"… the third Hokage is a formidable shinobi of his time. Then your former team members, the Fifth Hokage and the Jiraiya of the Sannin. Don't even forget about the White Fang.
These are just the shinobis of the past generation. I have yet to factor the shinobis of the current generation."
The masked figure slowly walks up to Orochimaru.
"… the Copy Ninja 'Kakashi', the Teleporter 'Shisui Uchiha', Itachi Uchiha of the Sharingan and the most troublesome of them all, The Silent Shinigami 'Izuna Uchiha'. Tell me, Orochimaru… how you plan to deal with them?"
The masked figure stands in front of Orochimaru as their eyes confront each other.
"So… you don't mind joining the fray." Orochimaru has a sly expression on his face.
'Agree to him.'
Another figure beside the masked man whispers in his ear.
"Very well." The masked man nods his head.
The red-clothed figure disappears with his men.
Orochimaru licks his lips and flickers away.
Inside a hidden underground cave,
"I have done what you asked me."
Orochimaru speaks to a figure cloaked in black garments.
"I will give you the rest of the research information after you fulfill your end of the deal."
"Very well. Remember this, if I find anything missing then you won't find a hole to hide."
The figure threatens him.
"Just bring me the body of Izuna Uchiha and I will give you all the information you need. Slick…"
Orochimaru licks his lips.
'Soon… my dream to possess a perfect body will be complete.'
"Remember your end of the bargain."
The black figure disappears from the cavern as his words echoes
"Finally, I will have my revenge. That old geezer Hiruzen, I will make him regret his decision."
Orochimaru disappears from the cavern.
Inside an underground laboratory,
Orochimaru appears in the middle of the room.
"Orochimaru-Sama, you are back."
A spectacled figure picks up a scroll and passes it to him.
"Kabuto! get ready for the infiltration. You know what to do."
"Yes… Orochimaru-sama." Kabuto adjusts his spectacles.
"How are the new test subjects faring?"
"The battle royale just ended. The results are out."
Kabuto points towards the underground arena.
Orochimaru notices five-exhausted figures lying on the floor of the arena.
"They might serve as my new replacement. Let me taste their chakra. Slick…"
Orochimaru turns into a snake and slithers towards the arena.
Cries of pain and agony echo through the arena as Kabuto turns his head and readjusts his spectacles.
"I believe Orochimaru-sama would be able to complete this venture successfully."
Across the streets of Konoha,
"This is the place. I am sure you will love the taste of Ichiraku-ramen."
Izuna brings Mei to Ichiraku Ramen.
"Yes… Ichiraku Ramen is the best ramen I ever ate. Dattebyo!"
Naruto raises his fists in the air.
"But isn't it the only ramen you ever eat?"
Sasuke calmly replies.
"Damnit Sasuke. You?" Naruto balls his fist and turns towards Sasuke.
"Onii-san… this smell… it's so good."
Ayaka smells the aroma wafting in the air.
"It smells really good." Mei nods her head.
"Ojou-san… my ramen is prepared with the best ingredients available around here." Teuchi picks up a silk-like strand of noodle as he soaks it in broth.
"Then I can't wait to taste it." Mei takes a seat.
Izuna sits beside her and places his order.
"An extra bowl of Miso Ramen with Menma toppings."
"I will take the same as him." Mei also places her order.
"Aye! Coming right up."
Teuchi prepares the ramen.
"Aah! it was so tiring, Shizune." An exhausted Tsunade walks through the streets as Shizune supports her.
"Tsunade-sama, please drink less sake next time." Shizune rebukes Tsunade.
Tsunade's stomach rumbles.
"I am hungry."
Shizune's stomach also growls loudly.
"Let's… let's grab something for breakfast."
"This aroma… it's so good."
Tsunade smells the aroma of ramen wafting out of the Ichiraku ramen.
"It's decided then… let's eat Ramen for breakfast."
Tsunade drags Shizune along with her.
"But… but… Tsunade-sama… Ramen is not good for breakfast." Shizune resists.
"It's fine. Don't mind the minor details."
Both of them approach the Ichiraku Ramen.
Naruto notices Tsunade walking towards them.
"Granny… you are also here for breakfast. Slurp…"
He slurps his ramen as he asks her.
"Don't call me that… Naruto." Tsunade bonks his head as she notices Izuna and the rest of the group.
Her eyes meet with Mei as she curiously inspects the latter.
"I have to say the new Mizukage is quite the beauty."
Tsunade sits beside Mei as she orders her ramen.
"It is my pleasure to meet with the legendary Sannin of the shinobi world."
Tsunade and Mei exchange pleasantries as Izuna finishes his Ramen.
"That was good. Ichiraku Ramen is just so good… I can't get enough of it."
"Yes… it is the best. Dattebyo!" Naruto gulps down three bowls of ramen.
A giant hand falls on Izuna's shoulder.
"So, the pervert Sannin is also back to the village," Izuna replies without turning back.
"I have to talk about something." Jiraiya clears his throat as he signals Izuna.
Izuna notices the serious expression of Jiraiya and nods his head.
"Well, ladies… you can have your chat while I attend to this pervert." Izuna stands up and follows Jiraiya.
"Oye! Don't spoil my image in front of ladies?" Jiraiya retorts.
Jiraiya and Izuna walk towards an alley as Izuna rests against a wall as he listens to Jiraiya.
"So… what do you want to talk about? Seeing your serious expression, I can deduce it must be something really important."
"Yes, it is." Jiraiya has a grim expression.
"After our last meeting in the Land of Waterfall, I tracked down the traces of Orochimaru…."
Izuna nods his head as Jiraiya continues.
"While looking for the tracks of Orochimaru, I came across a very strange man."
Jiraiya recounts the incident.
"The man had a facial tattoo with a strange numerical. He wore a black hooded cloak with silver-colored lining fastened to his right shoulder with a metal pin."
Jiraiya takes out a scroll and draws the appearance of the man from his memories.
Izuna's eyes widen as he recognizes the image.
'This is the appearance of an Inner Kara member.'
"This man was lurking around the Orochimaru's lair. So, I thought of incapacitating him and interrogating him about the whereabouts of Orochimaru.
I tried to sneak up on him, but he noticed my presence. Both of us engaged in a fight. He was more than my match."
Jiraiya scratches his forehead as he remarks.
"That man was a monster. He could be compared to the likes of you. He easily overpowered all of my ninjutsu, genjutsu, and taijutsu skills.
Left with no choice, I tried to use Senjutsu, but he made some weird hand signs and punched me. After that…"
Izuna nods his head as he is lost in his thoughts.
'Kara seems to be more active than usual. Looks like something has made them hasten up their plans. Pride and Wrath are secretly terminating the sleeper agents of Kara. Maybe my intervention has forced their hand.'
"… that punch drained my entire chakra, and I lost my conscious."
Jiraiya recounts the entire incident to Izuna and turns towards him.
"I have never heard or met such a powerful person before. If Orochimaru were to ally with such people… then I can't even imagine what kind of catastrophe he will lie on Konoha."
"Jiraiya… he could be a member of the Akatsuki. Orochimaru was a former member of Akatsuki, after all. He might still have some dealings with the group." Izuna tries to divert Jiraiya's attention.
'Kara is too dangerous for the like of current Jiraiya. He will face certain death if he fought against any inner Kara member. I won't be able to face Tsunade if he died because of my carelessness.'
"Oi… are you listening?"
Jiraiya shakes him.
"Yes… you should thank me. I saved your life inadvertently."
Izuna stops Jiraiya.
"What? How? That man, he did nothing to me."
"Oh! Are you sure about that?"
Izuna has a smile on his face.
"Mind taking out the scroll which I gave you."
"Well… If you say so."
Jiraiya takes out the scroll from his pocket and inspects it.
"Here it is. What's the matter?"
Izuna makes some hand signs and infuses some chakra in the scroll.
The scroll shines brightly and a Fuinjutsu formula appears on it.
"I planted a fuinjutsu formula with my Amaterasu programmed in it. I set it to go off the instant it detects a life-threatening danger to your life."
Jiraiya's eyes widen in surprise as he examines the scroll.
"I believe you, boy."
Jiraiya recognizes the Fuinjutsu formula.
"I owe you one for saving my life."
"Hoh!… you spoke too early. I haven't forgiven you for ruining my reputation through your novel."
Izuna cracks his knuckles as he turns to Jiraiya.
"It's time for payback."
"Wait… wait… we can talk this out." Jiraiya panics as he tries to flee.
"No… there is no escape."