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The next day, the Akatsuki received an order from Nagato to start secretly collecting and preserving the bodies of the Jonins that would diz in battle, leaving them intact.
While the Akatsuki did feel that this order was really strange, they did not argue much, and just complied.
Meanwhile, Black Zetsu, who had been lurking underground, also started to act.
After seeing Tendo Pain, he realized that Nagato had finally mastered controlling his Rinnegan. Therefore, he immediately passed the message to Obito, and then went to appear before Nagato.
Seeing Black Zetsu once again, Nagato seemed very calm. After mastering the use of his Rinnegan, he could perceive Black Zetsu approaching before the latter even showed up.
“Long time no see, Nagato!”
“Yeah, I haven’t seen you for a while now. I have to thank you for last time’s reminder!” Nagato’s face was expressionless.
“You’re welc… What are you doing?” Black Zetsu wasn’t through answering Nagato when he felt a powerful pulling force bringing him closer to him!
“Nothing, I just want to know; what on earth are you! [Shinra Tensei]!” The pulling force suddenly increased. With Black in his grasp, Nagato nailed him to him to the ground with a Black Rod.
There were not many things that could restrain Black Zetsu’s mobility, but the Black Rods made with the Rinnegan were certainly one of them.
“Nagato, what are you doing?! I’ve only been of help; why do are you treating le like an enemy?”
“I never said you’re my enemy! I just want to know what you are!” After that, Nagato made more black rods, piercing Black with them where his heart and brain should be: “You see, I know that you are not a human. No one could live after that!”
Nagato pulled out the rods, and Black Zetsu stood up shuddering under his gaze, unconsciously taking a couple steps back.
“Don’t be nervous, I won’t do that again. Just tell me what you want!”
Hearing Nagato, Black Zetsu was relieved. With the young Uzumaki being so kind, and him being around for so long, he could instantly recognize that he was honest. He said: “Nagato, we want to cooperate with you.”
Hearing ‘we’, Nagato frowned, and then nodded for Black to carry on.
“We want to end this chaotic world of Shinobi, and bring peace for all mankind, but we are not strong enough. You, you are the heir of the Rikudo Sennin! You can join us, and even lead us to a brighter future!”
Just when Black Zetsu started fearing that his story wasn’t taken seriously, he heard a question: “How will you achieve peace?” That goal intrigued Zetsu greatly.
“I’ll tell you that!” Another figure appeared out of thin air.
“Space-time Ninjutsu? And you say you’re not strong enough?” Nagato said with a smile.
“Nagato, this is Uchiha Madara sama!”
As Nagato heard that name, the smile froze on his face. The name, Madara, was certainly one he had heard before. This was the man who ended the Warring States Period with Hashirama forming Konoha, and a legend among all Shinobi.
However, after noticing the masked man’s black hair, Nagato sneered saying: “You said that’s Uchiha Madara? Uchiha Madara would be over 90 years old if he had lived! You want me to believe that he kept his black hair?”
“Is my black hair very strange?” The masked man’s voice sounded like that of one who had had a long life full with vicissitudes, and Nagato could feel a horrifying power coming from the scarlet eye that could be seen through his mask.
“Forget it. What does the great Uchiha Madara want from me? And what were you saying about peace?” Nagato had no time to argue about the masked man’s identity.
“My path to peace is to make the world feel pain. Only in pain could they find peace!”
“Peace in pain?” For some reason, the masked man’s words made Nagato remember how Yahiko fell to his side.
“Yes. Just talking and negotiating will never make people understand each-other. Only suffering and despair could link people who share the same pain, and bring them together.”
The masked man’s words made Nagato fall into silence.
These words were the exact opposite of what he had always believed. However, ever since Yahiko died, Nagato was thinking back of Jiraya’s teachings about peace, wondering if they were realistic in any way. Now, the masked man’s words hit that string, and he got his answer!
His eyes showed more and more resolve as he asked the masked man: “And how will you do that?”
“Our plan is to collect the Biju, using them to develop an ancient forbidden weapon. Its Chakra would be terrifying, and if we use that, we could destroy a country in an instant!”
“Destroy a country? That’s not peace; that’s war, war against the world!” Nagato’s face changed; this was not the peace he sought.
“Peace has no meaning without war! We want mankind to suffer pain and despair. The only way to make people avoid waging war is for them to fear its consequence more than they crave its benefits. Enough pain will guide the world towards stability and peace.”
Nagato once again did not answer, as Obito’s words had a massive impact on him.
Seeing him being shaken, the masked man continued: “Think carefully about this Nagato. You know this pain, the pain of losing your loved ones and friends. If everyone was to know that feeling, who would ever want to start a war?”
After a long time of contemplation, Nagato finally echoed the masked man’s words: “Let the world feel pain, and they will welcome peace…”
“So, will you join us?”
Nagato immediately shook his head saying: “No! You join me; join the Akatsuki!”
The masked man heard Nagato and wondered: “Why?”
While I agree with your path to peace, I will not leave the Akatsuki. My close friend, whose lifelong dream was to bring peace to the world of Shinobi, had left me this organization. I am inheriting my desire for peace from him.”
Hearing that, the man in the mask nodded, agreeing to Nagato’s requirement. He then told him that he was going to bring “his people” to the Akatsuki in the following few days.
After reaching a consensus, the masked man left the Akatsuki’s base with Black Zetsu.
“Space-Time Ninjutsu; that must be convenient!” Nagato muttered as he watched the two before him disappear.
Just then, Konan returned from a mission that she had that night. Nagato told her about the masked man and what he had said.
Her intuition told her that this man was no good news, but the flame that was reborn in Nagato’s eyes made her not know how to speak her mind.
In the end, she chose to compromise. She had lost Yahiko already, and could not afford to lose Nagato as well. She decided right then and there that whatever he did from now on, she would stick by his side.
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