Long time ago...
The Earth faced a hideous menace, dark as the void itself and as old as time, they say.
This menace took the form of an immense monster of darkness, and had power unseen by any mortal man.
They said this monster was in fact a true ungod of destruction, but no-one can be sure of it's true nature. They gave many names to the monster, but the one that lived longer than the others was Kugaya.
However, the mortal men who the monster deemed so weak and insignificant were the ones to defeat it. For there were two that rose in battle against that menance. The first was known as the Sage of the Six Paths - once to be respected as the creator of the ninja world as we know it. The other was one who has long since been forgotten, but bore the title of the Ronin of the Hidden Destiny.
The battle that ensued was massive, and the heavens themself felt like they were falling when the mightiest of mortal men faced the ungodly beast of destruction. In the end the heroes managed to separate the chakra of the beast into it's two halves - the Yin and the Yang. The Yin was like a deep pit, malicious and filled with darknees. The yang half was like a burning wildfire, raging and uncontrollable but made of sheer power. The Sage of the Six paths managed to seal the Yin half of the chakra inside the Moon with his Chibaku Tensei, they say, while the Ronin of the Hidden Destiny took on the Yang half, making the ultimate sacrifice: He used a forbidden technique called the Soul Combination Technique, and combined his entire existence with that of the Yang chakra of the monster. This sacrifice formed a new entity, but the Ronin of the hidden Destiny disappeared not long after the fight took place. Where he went, only he himself knew.
But a long-forgotten legend was, that he would return to fullfil his destiny once and for all when the time was right...
The Masked Shadows begin their movement
At the entrance to the dark cave, a figure was standing, ignoring the rain pouring over him. His form was hidden by his pitch black clothing, which left no spot of his skin for the outside world to see. Soon his thoughts were interrupted by another shadow coming out of the cave. The second figure was very clearly female, as she was wearing clothing that didn't leave much space for speculation. Her face, however, was covered by a mask, as was the male figure's. The male's mask was an empty black oval with eyeholes, but the female had a mask resembling a fox's face.
"So... it really has begun, Kurokamen-sama?"
"That's right. The time to take what is legally mine has truly arrived. Remember, Kitsunekamen... This is the beginning of a new era... our era."
A lightning flashed in the clouded skies as the two figures in masks jumped on the nearby trees and begun travelling towards their dark destiny.
A new mission for Team Hotaku!
It was a bright morning in Konohagakure, and a yellow-haired ninja was running down the main street with incredible speed. There was a good reason for him to be running with max speed: He overslept again and was about to be late for the meeting of their team, led by the young but talented jonin Hotaku Kamateru. Hotaku was okay with him being late for a couple of minutes, but his temmates, oh, they would scold him for it again. And that would not be nice for someone, who was supposed to be the son of the Hokage himself, Naruto Uzumaki. "Takatsuke Uzumaki, you're not gonna let them look down on you anymore", thought the young ninja. "I'm gonna be at the meeting place in time no matter what!" Thinking this, he accelerated his running speed even further, making himself look like a yellow blur passing by to the Konoha civilians.
Takatsuke actually made it in time. When he arrived at the meeting place, Hotaku wasn't there yet, but his teammates were. Katoru Uchiha (the other male genin of their team) and Hikarime Yakama (the only female in their team). Even though Takatsuke was in time, the looks on the faces of both Katoru and Hikarime showed clearly, that they knew Takatsuke had overslept and were not pleased by it. They had no time to scold Takatsuke however, because as soon as Takatsuke had arrived, the team leader Hotaku landed on a nearby rock. Hotaku greeted his team with a broad smile and said: "Guess what, my spunkiest-of-all genin team? We have a new mission!" Hotaku always went straight into the business, which made him an ideal leader in the case of a battle, but required the some getting used to from his team. "What rank is this mission?" said Katoru, who spoke a little and was most often even more straightforward than Hotaku. "It's rank C. Should not be too hard, considering you all have gained experience and are not rookies anymore", Hotaku answered. "This mission includes delivering these scrolls to Sunagakure safely", he continued while holding three scrolls for the genin to see. "These scrolls are nothing secret, really, but it's not nice if they end up in wrong hands or get lost, so take good care of them." After saying this Hotaku threw the three scrolls to the genin, one for each. After jumping off the rock he was sitting on, Hotaku led his team forward towards Sunagakure.
On the palm of his hand Takatsuke weighed the scroll he had recieved and wondered what it might contain. He knew very well that he wasn't allowed to open the scroll, but that didn't stop him from theoretisizing. "They needed ninja to transport these scrolls, so even though Hotaku-sensei said it's not secret it has to be important." From this on, Takatsuke's wild imagination managed to create wilder and wilder images of what those scrolls might contain. Concentrating on his thoughts Takatsuke didn't notice that Hotaku was beginning to look more tense. Takatsuke's thoughts were interrupted by Hotaku poking him and whispering "Consentrate, Takatsuke. Even though this is a C-rank mission, a ninja must always be alert!" "Why are you whispering?" asked Takatsuke. "Don't make yourself look more of a goof than you are. I'm pretty sure that there's an ambush set up for us, and if we continued going we would walk right into it." Hotaku turned to Katoru. "Can you use your Sharingan to find out wheter there's any chakra visible ahead?" Katoru didn't answer, but activated his one-tomoe Sharingan and after a while told that there indeed was chakra visible ahead. Takatsuke immediately stuffed the scroll in his ninja tool bag and took a kunai in his hand instead. "An ambush becomes useless if the people the ambushers are trying to attack know they are there. When the ambusher don't know that we know it becomes our advantage" explained Hotaku. "We're going to walk in to the ambush, but instead of being dazed by it, we will instantly strike back and take out the ambushers." All the members of the team nodded and prepared themselves to fight while keeping on the move towards the awaited ambush.
Takatsuke decided to stay close to Katoru - not because he thought he needed assistance, but because he had in mind to show off a little bit in front of Katoru. Katoru had never considered Takatsuke to be useful in battle, even though he had already mastered the Shadow Clone Technique and could take advantage of using his clones to attack the enemy or scout the surroundings. Katoru shortly glanced over to Takatsuke, but didn't say anything.
Team Hotaku had arrived to the foretold ambush site. For a second it looked just like any other patch of the forest, but all the sudden the peace was broken. A kunai flew from the trees towards Hotaku, who easily deflected it, but then he was surprised by a ninja jumping out of the trees. The genin didn't manage to see who it was because the attacker took on Hotaku very quickly and then retreated, prompting Hotaku to follow him, as this ninja was clearly jonin level, so Hotaku would have to deal with him to secure the genin. In the meantime the genin were being pushed by kunai and shuriken flying from the trees. Katoru managed to dodge and block them with ease with the help of his Sharingan, and Hikarime was not bad either. Takatsuke, however, took a different way of approaching. He created a bunch of shadow clones and had them jump towards the trees the kunai and shuriken were coming from. Needless to say, the clones were halted by kunai and shuriken hitting them and making them disperse. Takatsuke wasn't stopped however, and continued attacking head on. "Don't waste your chakra on all those clones, you idiot! We should try to pinpoint the location of the attackers and then take them with a coordinated strike!" Katoru yelled him. "Would you mind your own business?! I have a lot of chakra left!" Takatsuke yelled back at him. "Whatever!" Katoru angrily answered and then started doing hand signs. "Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique!" With that, he blew a large fireball towards the tree tops, trying to force the ambushers to come out and fight fairly. This action ended up having a few downsides though. When the fireball hit the trees, a ninja suddenly came down behind Hikarime, who's attention was being stolen by the fireball. The ninja caught her and pushed a kunai on her throat. "No more games! Surrender now, or I'll take out this girl!" Both Katoru and Takatsuke stopped moving on that instant.
"Shit! If I don't do something, Hikarime will die! But if I do something hasty that doesn't work, she'll die anyway! What am I supposed to do?" thought Takatsuke, now clenching his fists tightly and sweating of fear. The thought "What am I supposed to do?" with the thought of his own helplessness to save his comrades filled his mind as he squeezes his eyes tightly shut. Then something snapped inside him.
Katoru was not much less troubled with the situation than Takatsuke. Every option he considered to save Hikarime ended with her, and in the worst cases, his own death as well. Then, something happened. Takatsuke opened his eyes, and Katoru couldn't believe his own, Sharingan or not.
Takatsuke's eyes had changed form. Instead of the bright blue inherited from his father, his eyes were deep red. The pupils were slitted and vertical. And the entire eye was encircled by a rag-edged red patch. Katoru had never heard of eyes that would look exactly like that. Then Takatsuke disappeared, atleast from the sight of Hikarime and the enemy holding her. Katoru could barely see it even with his Sharingan. Takatsuke moved with an amazing speed and delivered a single kick to the head of the ninja holding Hikarime, bringin him down. At that instant kunai and shuriken began flying from the trees, but Takatsuke moved like a hurricane and deflected every single one with the kunai he was holding, not letting them touch Hikarime. Then the two ninja who had hidden in the trees came down to face the genin. "This kid is better than it first seemed. You take the Uchiha brat and I'll consentrate on the mighty midget", said the other one.
The other ninja engaged Katoru in a fierce exchange of blows with kunai. With his Sharingan Katoru had no trouble countering the attacks of the ambusher. "I'll certainly teach you one thing", said Katoru. "I am no brat. I am a true Uchiha!" With this, he threw a shuriken at his adversary, who deflected it with his kunai. This left just the opening for Katoru to use, and he managed to stab the attacker with his kunai and finished it by kicking him to the head, knocking him out. Now looking back at Takatsuke, he saw something even more amazing than the last time.
While Katoru was taking on the first ninja, Takatsuke was focusing on the other one. Deflecting all of his blows seemingly easily, Takatsuke began to throw the mind of the attacker out of balance more and more every minute. Takatsuke's slitted red eyes followed his every movement, his swiftly moving body canceled his every attack. "I don't know what you are, but I'm definetely going to finish you!" the ninja yelled at Takatsuke and plunged towards him with a kunai in his hand. Takatsuke wasn't phased by the attack at all, and caught the hand holding the kunai. "Now that you will surely stay still... I can use my new jutsu on you without having to worry about you running away!" He threw his kunai away and created a shadow clone with a single handed hand sign. The clone began spinning chakra on his hand, faster and stronger every second. Finally it was ready. "Rasengan!!" Takatsuke slammed the Rasengan to the gut of the ninja, sending him flying backwards with him eventually crashing a tree. "This jutsu was taught to me by my father and invented by his father! Rember: I am Takatsuke Uzumaki, the son of the Hokage!" with this said, Takatsuke's eyes returned to normal and he fell down on the ground.
Hotaku vs. Kurokage
While the genin were taking on the weaker ninjas Hotaku drove away the Jonin-level ninja to insure the safety of his team. However at a nearby meadow the enemy stopped and said: "No more games. We fight here and now while your brats are being taken care of." Hotaku landed on the opposite side of the meadow and glared his opponent. "Why did you attack us? The mission we are on is not important enought to be interrupted by a jonin-level missing-nin." The villainous ninja smiled. "Heh... Maybe I'll tell you... Maybe I wont!" With this, he attacked ferociously, barely levaing Hotaku the time to block his attack. They exchanged a few blows, after which Hotaku spoke again: "I think I know you. Kurokage Yomino, a missing-nin from Amegakure." "Oh, I'm flattered to be known in Konoha; after all, I'm a ninja from a small country's village." "Be sure not to be flattered too much!" answered Hotaku while throwing two shuriken at Kurokage. The missing-nin dodged them easily, but then with a few finger movements Hotaku changed the paths of the shuriken. "Adding wires to control the shurikens' paths! Clever!" thought Kurokage. "But not clever enough!" He did a few hand seals and activated his jutsu: "Earth Release: Earth Spear Cage!" Several sharp spears rose from the earth around Kurokage to protect him, and after that he wasted no second. He was on Hotaku faster than a lightning and another change of blows began. hotaku took a little distance and created a shadow clone to keep Kurokage busy for a while. He started focusing chakra to the tips of his index and middle fingers. "Raisho!" A beam of lightning shot from his fingers and went through his shadow clone towards Kurokage. The puff of smoke from the clone dispersing hid Kurokage from the view for a while...
When the smoke cleared, Kurokage was shown to be seemingly okay. A dense cloud of blackness was floating in front of his torso, apparently having prevented Hotaku's jutsu. "Face my Secret Technique: Manipulated Darkness! It is what has brought me my reputation as the Assassin of Shadows!" Hotaku jumped off the tree he was on as the shadows Kurokage created started following him. In his mind Hotaku tried to figure out how this jutsu worked. "This jutsu... It's similar to the Nara clan's shadow techniques, but this is used offensively, and it can block ninjutsu... Well atleast I can get some help in this situation... Summoning Technique!" With a puff of smoke, a bright-furred and quite big fox appeared, and Hotaku landed on its back. "You certainly pick wonderful situations to summon me in, Hotaku!" the fox said when it had to start dodging the shadow attacks. "It's just because I regard you as a great help in this kind of situations, Hakutsuba!" The fox gave Hotaku a smile and then asked: "Have you figured out this jutsu yet?" "Not exactly. That's why I summoned you. We can throw some attacks and see how that darkness reacts to it." answered Hotaku. Hakutsuba called out "Wind Release: Drilling Air Bullet!" while Hotaku performed "Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique!" Together those two attacks formed a formidable combination: "Great Blasting Breaktrough!" reasulting a gigantic explosion with wind-boosted fire. To shield from the attack Kurokage had to wrap himself in his shadows, and the shadows he used to hunt Hotaku and Hakutsuba crumbled. "So, it seems those shadows are weaker if they get further away from him! That's a good thing!" stated Hotaku. Kurokage wasn't happy, however. He yelled over to Hotaku: "Don't think you have won just because you have figured out a weakness in my secret jutsu! And learn, that I can use your weapons against you! Fire Release: Flame Call!" With this jutsu, Kurokage pulled the flames from the trees Hotaku's and Hakutsuba's combination jutsu had hit and hurled them at the duo. "Water Release: Water Encampment Wall!" shouted out Hotaku, and a wall of water rose to defend him from the flames. A big cloud of steam covered the battlefield...
Suddenly the earth shook under Kurokage's feet, and with a flashing speed Hakutsuba pummeled himself up from the ground and sank his fangs to Kurokage's leg. "Aagh! You pest...!" yelled Kurokage. "This is Earth Release: Tracking Fang Technique", murred Hakutsuba from between his teeth. Hotaku prepared another Raisho, but before he could use it Kurokage used his black shadows to attack Hakutsuba. "Hakutsuba!" yelled Hotaku as his friend was pierced by several shadow spearheads. "Your little pest of a friend is going to die, and so will you!" yelled Kurokage in rage. The shadows sweeped over towards Hotaku, with the Konoha ninja thrown out of balance. The shadows managed to hit him, tearing his left leg as he barely managed to escape a deadly hit. "Shit! If this goes on, he'll tear me and Hakutsuba to shreds limb by limb...! With my leg damaged, my ability to move is decreased! There's only one option... I'm gonna have to use the jutsu I have not yet completely mastered...!" He drew out a kunai from his tool bag... but this kunai wasn't a normal one... "But the kunai has to hit him or at least get close to him before anything can be done... Lightning Release: Kunai Special Charge!" The kunai was surrounded with lightning aura, and he threw it into a spot he thought the shadows were weaker in... and the kunai did manage to pirece in his inner Shadow layer, his defence... Hotaku was now smiling...
"Flying Thunder God Technique!" With this, Hotaku disappeared from sight and appeared right near Kurokage. Him still having lightning chakra stored in his hand, he used it to power up a basic jab and hit Kurokage to the chest, piercing it. Blood splashed and the menacing shadows turned to dust and disappeared from existence. Kurokage was not dead yet, but he would be quickly. Ignoring his opponent for the moment, Hotaku moved over to Hakutsuba, who sill laid damaged on the ground. He was alive; Hotaku sighed in relief. "For a moment I thoght you were goner, partner." "Yeah... But I'll be fine if you just let me back to the Fox Land..." Hakutsuba managed to mumble out. "The least I could do for you", and with that Hotaku reversed the summoning jutsu and sent Hakutsuba back.
Now Hotaku turned back to his defeated opponent. "I... never thought... you would... know a jutsu... like that..." Kurokage managed to word out. "I did. Now tell me. Why did you attack us in the first place?" asked Hotaku sternly. Kurokage smiled. "I... was... hired..." "By who?" Hotaku wanted to know. "I... don't know... but... she had... a mask... a fox mask..." Kurokage coughed up blood. "I... quess... I'm... going... where... I... belong... Hell..." with that said, Kurokage's body turned limp and the Assassin of Shadows was dead.
In a tree, without anyone noticing, a fox-masked figure disappeared after seeing all that was nescessary.
Team Hotaku's troubles
Team Hotaku had assambled once again after defeating the ambushers. Takatsuke was still unconcious and Hikarime was still shocked from her scary experience. Katoru was in an unusually talkative mood, as he wanted to know Hotaku's opinion on what happened with Takatsuke.
"Hotaku-sensei, there was something that happened with Takatsuke..."
"Something to do with his current state?"
"Well you could say so. When Hikarime was caught by the enemy ninja... Takatsuke changed..."
"Changed?" Hotaku became more interested.
"His eyes changed. They were red, the pupils were vertically slitted and the eyes in entirity were surrounded by some sort of rag edged patch of red..."
"What? Are you sure about that?"
"Most certainly. I was standing a few feet away from him and had a perfect view on his eyes. They were just as I described."
"That sounds like no dojutsu I know of..."
"Is that so? I thought that you might know what it is... But anyway. After these eyes had appeared, he started moving in amazing speed and took out the ninja holding Hikarime. When he fought one of the ninja, he defeated him with a technique he said was taught to him by his father... Rasengan."
"Rasengan...! Well, I shouldn't be too surprised. It's the son of Naruto who we are speaking of here... but that dojutsu - or whatever it might be - you told me about puzzles me..." Hotaku fell deep in his thoughts. He continued his interrupted speech in his thoughts: "The vertical-slit pupils sound like the Kyuubi eyes... But Takatsuke didn't - he couldn't have - inherit any of Naruto's Kyuubi power... And Naruto didn't have a dojutsu like that either. I trust Katoru's description, so what the heck is this all about? And the fact that a dangerous ninja like Kurokage and his team were hired on us by a fox-masked woman... what the heck is that all about?"
Hotaku's thoughts were interrupted by a real surprise: Takatsuke bounced up and worded out: "When's the lunch?" Hotaku regained his ability to speak quickly. "Takatsuke! You are finally awake! Maybe now you can enlighten us about the fight you had with those ninja." Takatsuke looked puzzled. "Ninja? Oh yeah, I think I remember something like a fight... But it's pretty fuzzy... Like a dream I saw..." Katoru now opened his mouth. "It wasn't a dream! You invoke some kind of a crazy power and used Rasengan and..." Takatsuke looked even more puzzled now. "Me? Invoke a crazy power? Are you sure you weren't the one to dream, Katoru?" Katoru lost his calmness. "Okay! Say you don't know about it! But whatever special power you have, I'll figure it out!!" With this said, Katoru marched away. After a while of silently looking towards the back of the leaving Katoru, Takatsuke turned back to Hotaku. "Okay, sensei, when's that lunch going to be?"
The meeting of shadows
In a dark place, seven dark figures were assembled. Two of them were familiar: The black-masked male and the fox-masked female, but they were almost completely hidden by the shadows, as were their five companions.
The black-masked leader spoke: "You all are a part of something that shall rule over the lands and stand over the skies. You are the Masked Shadows! Remember that!... Now, on to more important matters... Kitsunekamen, what is the status of our little experiment?"
"He has experienced his first release of his true power, although only a small portion of it, Kurokamen-sama. He activated the Akashogan."
"Akashogan? At this early stage? My, my, aren't we being hasty. What is the level of his eyes?"
"They are at low level as of yet. His Akashogan didn't show anything special, merely aiding to defeat a weak ninja."
"Heh... He is certainly no threat at that level. We can continue working towards our goal without having to fear anyone's interference. The Masked Shadows shall be a name of great threat...!"
Bringing the mission to an end
Team Hotaku was on the move again - after eating the lunch, because Takatsuke wouldn't do anything before that was done. He seemed to be filled with energy even after all the fighting, asking the others to move faster, resulting angry answers from Katoru. Hotaku looked over to Takatsuke. Thoughts over what had happened crossed his mind again. "After all that fighting he's not tired? He fainted after the fight, and Katoru thought it was due to chakra loss... it wasn't. It's more like he would have more chakra now than before... Katoru was right. He awoke something, and not just an eye technique. I can feel it. His chakra pool has always been large, but just now it feels even bigger..."
From behind Katoru glared Takatsuke. "Whatever power you have, I'll certainly find it out... Just wait, Takatsuke. Act like a goof all you want. I know somewhere under all that stupidicy is the Takatsuke I saw during that fight... the cold-blooded-killer-Takatsuke, the fights-like-a-hurricane-Takatsuke... And I won't be surpassed even by that! I am an Uchiha!"
Hikarime had no idea what was going on with the team. Hotaku and Katoru were both looking at Takatsuke, who was oblivious of the fact and apparently filled with energy. That fight had clearly changed the team somehow. Hikarime just couldn't put her finger on it, but something was changed.
Quickly enough after all the jumping in the trees they arrived at the border of the Land of Wind, where the desert began. In that desert was their destination, Sunagakure. "Okay! From here on, we shall be moving in an area lot different from the forest - the desert. Be prepared!" said Hotaku, advicing his team. "Okay! Hotaku-sensei!" yelled Takatsuke, still filled with energy, and started running to the desert. "Takatsuke! Don't always just blindly run at everyting!" yelled Hotaku after him and ran after Takatsuke along with the rest of the team.
Team Hotaku had it's mission almost cleared. They walked trough the streets of Sunagakure towards the residence of the Kazekage.
"Man! I'm happy we're finally out of that desert!" said Takatsuke.
Hotaku smiled and said: "Don't say that too early, Takatsuke. We are going to travel back to Konoha too, you know."
"Maaan! These missions would be better without all that travelling, wouldn't they, Hotaku-sensei?"
"Well, you would certainly like them if they would be just fighting and eating, Takatsuke, but to have everything like that is not what it's about to be a ninja! To be ninja is to break your limits even when it's hard! That's what I believe!"
"You know, Hotaku-sensei... That's what I've been aiming for my whole life! Even if it's impossible, I will rise to be the brightest star!!"
"You've certainly got some spirit in you, Takatsuke! Okay, let's go now and finish this mission!"
The Kazekage Gaara was sitting behind his table when Team Hotaku arrived to finally deliver the three scrolls and end their mission. Gaara raised his eyes from his paperwork to see the enthusiastic Takatsuke bouncing a scroll on his palm. "We've got a delivery from Konoha to the Kazekage!" Gaara looked at Takatsuke for a while and then said: "Am I correct to assume that you are Naruto's son... Takatsuke, was it?" "Yes, you are correct, Kazekage-sama. I am Takatsuke Uzumaki, the son of the Hokage! I won't be left in the shadow of my father...!" At this point, Hotaku interrupted the beginning speech. "Takatsuke, I'm sure you can speak with the Kazekage about your future later. We're here to deliver three special scrolls." Hotaku collected the scrolls from the genin and passed them over to Gaara. Gaara opened them and looked at their content. "Yes. We've been waiting for these." Takatsuke peeked over. "What's inside those scrolls? Can you tell us? Please!?" "I guess I can. These are special item summoning scrolls that work only if all the three are in place. They contain a set of special weapons - as a gift from Konoha." "Well I guess that's cool enough. Now, where do you get the food in here?" said Takatsuke, moving from one business to another as quick as his sensei. Gaara answered: "There's a place right down the road from the Kazekage Mansion..." and before the sentence was even completely finished, Takatsuke had vanished from the door. Hotaku looked after him for a while and then said: "Well, that Takatsuke for you. Well, I guess our entire team could use some food. You two go after Takatsuke and make sure he doesn't do anything too stupid", Hotaku addressed the two genin still in the room. Katoru and Hikarime left after Takatsuke. After they had left Hotaku turned back to Gaara. "There is something I'd like to have a chat with you, Kazekage-sama. This mission wasn't all too easy. We encountered an ambush set by a certain Kurokage Yomino..." Gaara looked moderately shocked. "Kurokage Yomino? That jonin who defected from Amegakure?" Hotaku nodded. "Yes, that Kurokage Yomino. Before he died in my hands he said he had been hired to attack us by a lady wearing a fox mask. Since that fight I've been trying to make sense out of it. Why would this fox-masked lady hire a dangerous ninja to intercept a C-Rank mission? Unless it had nothing to do with our mission..." Gaara looked serious. "Could it have been to kill you? You are regareded as a highly dangerous ninja, Hotaku." Hotaku shook his head. "No. Something doesn't add up here. I have lots of mission which I do alone. Those would have been much better situations to attack me in case they would want me dead. This... and there was that one thing that happened with Takatsuke..." Gaara looked straight into Hotaku's eyes. "Something happened with Takatsuke?" Hotaku looked back into Gaara's eyes. "Yes. I wasn't at the place to prove it, but Katoru was, and I believe his statements... and after that battle even I could sense a slight but certain change in Takatsuke. Takatsuke... seemingly activated some sort of dojutsu..." Gaara looked surprised. "Dojutsu? But I thought Naruto's bloodline doesn't have any dojutsu?" Hotaku nodded. "His bloodline doesn't. That's why I was so surprised of it. And I'm beginning to think more every moment that this whole ambush was to push Takatsuke to release whatever power he might be holding inside his body." Gaara closed his eyes, sighed and opend them again. "You are going to explain all this thoroughly to Naruto, aren't you?" Hotaku nodded again. "You can be sure I will, Kazekage-sama. This is too weird for me to let slip by. This fox-masked lady or whoever... God knows who she is and what she wants of Takatsuke..." Hotaku turned and walked out the room to go after his team.