Hakureisaiga: Alright, readers, I am really apologetic that I have been holding back this chapter on the backburner for so long, I have been trying to implement different scenarios for this chapter and this is the end result, review what you think about it…with that, on with the show

Chapter 18: Neck and Neck: the Continued Race

The hospital was in a busy mood as the medical ninjas were all in a rush to prepare for the anticipation and possibility of hurt Genin and Chunin from the Sasuke Retrieval Squads, but despite of all this, nobody noticed a certain pink haired girl walking into the premises with a sinister and deranged plan of her own.

"I can't…no, I won't let Sasuke-kun be killed, I will make sure that it will not happen…all Sasuke needs to do is come to his senses and return, but no, Naruto won't allow that to even happen at all. I am sorry, but for Sasuke to live…Naruto must die." Sakura thought to herself in determination.

With that thought in mind, the Haruno reached her destination, which was the room where they held poisons that were collected and being analyzed at the moment. Sakura quickly read the effects of several and finally chose a deadly neurotoxin from Kiri that was very fast acting.

She also knew that with her reserves, she wouldn't be able to reach Naruto before the second squad aids them and that would be very bad if she had witnesses to her actions, so she also grabbed a watered down drug that mimics the Hero's Water attributes from Takigakure…only the side effects afterwards were less pleasant, the body would start to release the toxins by vomiting…but it was a sacrifice that she was willing to make for the love of her life. Quickly, she replaced the vials with decoys, using materials around the area.

Now for the hard part, this was passing by the constant gate guards as she walked straight to the entrance. Kotetsu and Izumo were conversing with each other as Sakura hid behind a nearby tree, then she slowly and silently pulled out a blowpipe, slipped a sleep dart in it and shot her target, which happened to be Izumo.

Izumo clapped his hand to where the dart landed and slowly began to fall asleep; Kotetsu turned to his friend, whose head slowly slump down onto the desk so suddenly, "Hey, Izumo, buddy…what's wrong with you?" Next, he too felt a stung to his neck and followed suit as well.

Sakura moved quickly out the gates and into the forest quickly, stopping a few minutes before she had gotten tired after moving in the forest with her chakra enhancing her limbs. Pulling out the Hero's Water knockoff, she took a deep breath before knocking it back down her throat.

Instantly, she felt the burning sensation throughout her chakra circulatory system and she smiled, "Wait for me, Sasuke-kun, I am coming and I will save you." She kicked off the branch in a burst of speed that she never had and went deeper into the forest on a euphoric high.

With Sasuke Retrieval Squad #2, the ladies moved through the trees, following the trail and Hana stopped to survey the area, "Looks like there was a brief battle that was fought here…there is a strong scent of perspiration and blood…not one of ours."

Haku nodded, "Good, now let's hurry and get this mission over with."


With that, the squad took off at double the speed into the forest.

Sasuke Retrieval Squad #1- "Well, this is just insulting now…" Naruto commented lightly. Shino replied, "What do you mean, Naruto-san?" The Uzumaki replied, "We have been on their heels for quite some time and we have not even encountered a trap or an ambush from them at all…which means…"

Shikamaru finished, "We are not a threat anymore…let's say we give them a bit of a surprise."

"Well, I haven't done a good prank in a while…let's do it." Naruto stated with a toothy grin. The Nara replied, "Alright…Naruto, you transform into Jirobo, you are the best out of us in keeping the Henge no Jutsu for long periods and you also know how the guy acts."

"This is going to be fun."

Sakon commented, "That fat bastard…he is late, did he get himself killed?" Kidomaru replied with a small smirk, "Nah, he is already here…" Jirobo came up on them and Sakon questioned, "What the hell took you so long, Jirobo-san?"

"Sorry, guys, one of them had a bit more chakra for a scruffy Genin…" With that, Kidomaru tossed Jirobo the canister and Jirobo commented, "You know, guys, I am in a good mood…a really good mood. I beat the shit out of some kids, have a full stomach on chakra and finally…dupe the shit out of you bitches."


Jirobo disappeared in a puff of smoke to reveal Naruto in his place with the barrel, "Later, losers!" With that, the Uzumaki bounced off a branch and moved in the opposite direction with Sakon and Kidomaru pursuing him, "Get back here, you bastard!" Sakon shouted in pure rage, activating his Cursed Seal.


Neji along with Choji and Shino sprang out to intercept the two remaining members of the Sound Four. "Ninpo: Bubun Baika no Jutsu: Arm!" With that, Choji drew back his enlarged arm and swung at the two men, who dodged to the opposite sides, where Neji and Shino were waiting on the wings.

"Hakke Kuushou!"

"Ninpo: Muchidama!"

Kidomaru cursed as he crossed his arms to cushion most of the air push sent by the Hyuga while Sakon used a substitution with a nearby log to avoid having his chakra eaten and appeared in front of Shino, "You little shit, Tarenken!"

The multiple punches hit Shino square in the chest and send him flying into Naruto, who lost his grip on the barrel, causing it to fall toward the ground. Kidomaru shouted, "Damn it, Sakon, you lost the primary item!" With that, Kidomaru spat out a net of webbing to catch the barrel and then launched a tirade of the same coating on to our heroes, trapping them.

"Now I have four little flies caught in my web…wait a minute, there were five of you…where is the pineapple kid?" the spider man questioned. Suddenly Kidomaru felt like he couldn't move an inch and Sakon turned to Kidomaru, "What is the matter now?"

Suddenly Kidomaru sent a punch to Sakon, which he caught…with a hand coming out of his stomach, "The fuck is going on with you, Kidomaru?" Kidomaru replied in frustration as his other arms were used to keep the second in command in place, "How the fuck should I know? Somehow I got converted to a NPC!"

Shikamaru appeared behind the cover of the trunk, "Now this is better, Naruto…can you guys get free?" Neji cut himself free while Shino let his kikaichu eat the chakra within the webbing around himself and Choji; Naruto simply burned it with a flash of the Kyuubi's foul chakra to make his bonds corrode.

"Yeah, we are good…now let's get the barrel and get the hell out of here, Shikamaru."

Shikamaru nodded and pushed out at empty air before releasing his Kagemane no Jutsu, causing Kidomaru to push Sakon over the edge and into the air. Sakon growled out as he fell into the air, "Those bastards, I will rip them to shreds!"

"You mean we…"

"Right, Ukon…"

Soon Sakon's second head twitched and jumped out of Sakon's body, grabbing his arm in the process to latch on to a branch. "Fly, brother!" Ukon shouted as he flung his twin towards the Sasuke Retrieval Squad.

Choji's eyes widened as he realized that his trajectory was headed for Shikamaru and the young Akimichi moved in front of Shikamaru to intercept the blow, sending the three of them over the ravine. Naruto shouted out, "Shikamaru! Choji! Shit!"

The Uzumaki rushed towards them, but was forced to dodge several golden boomerangs. He glared over at Kidomaru, who was grinning, "Oh, no, you are fighting with me…you three are my prey today."

"Hmph…ever so cavalier with your games, Kidomaru-san."

Kidomaru stiffened up as he slowly turned around, thinking, "That voice…it can't…he isn't supposed to be here." Surely enough, there was a pale, white haired man with light green eyes along with two red dots in the middle of the forehead.

"K-K-Kimimaro…" Kidomaru stuttered out in fear.

"Why haven't you killed them yet, Kidomaru? They are nothing but common trash." The pale man stated in a cold tone. Kidomaru didn't answer him, but shot back with another question, "How the hell are you standing? Lord Orochimaru said that your body was useless."

"I am moving this body of mine with sheer willpower…only to retrieve and do what you could not, return Orochimaru's next vessel to his hands. You are part of the elite force that was the Sound Five under my jurisdiction…now I suggest that you finish them off…now."

Kidomaru nodded slowly while Kimimaro sped off into the distance with the barrel. "Damn it, he is getting away with Sasuke!" Naruto growled and Neji spoke up, "Naruto…go, Shino and I will handle the man, I fear that you are the only person who could handle that guy."

"Be careful, you two…" Naruto said before shooting off into pursuit, but Kidomaru moved to stop him, "You will not escape the game, you must battle me to reach the next boss! Spider Web Flower!" He spat out several web nets at the Uzumaki, who turned around and flipping through hand signs, "Hyoton: Touketsu Ibuki!"

Next, Naruto put a hand over his mouth and blew out a torrent of blizzard-like ice toward the nets and Kidomaru. The nets were frozen on impact of the ice and Kidomaru dodged while the foliage behind him was destroyed, allowing Naruto the means to escape Kidomaru's hands.

"Damn it!" the spider man said as he moved to pursue, but the Jonin-level shinobi was blocked by Neji and Shino, the latter who spoke in monotone with a hint of anger, "You will not pass us…I have been ignored for too long and with this battle…I will show just how dangerous I can truly be."

Kidomaru frowned as he saw Shino's kikaichu appear from within his sleeves, "Dealing with insects, my spiders will feast upon you and as for you…" He trained his eyes on Neji, "I will say that I will kill you in three minutes or less…that is how the game will go."

On that note, Kidomaru began to spit out adhesive spider webs at the two of them, causing the two of them jump away from each other. "First, I will deal with the kid who does his Gentle Fist on my web; the bug boy shouldn't be a problem after that as soon as I have captured them in my web."

Both Neji and Shino dodged and weaved as webs passed them by until fatigue came in and caused them to slip, giving Kidomaru's webs to trap them against a tree, but Kidomaru took note of Neji's hands and covered them heavily with a reinforced web.

The Oto ninja frowned as he spoke, "It has only been a minute stating my game and when it ends like that, I lose interest very quickly. I think I will just kill you both and be done with it, I wanna play with the blonde kid again."

Wordlessly, Neji and Shino both bristled in anger and looked at each other silently just as Kidomaru shouted within the crevasses of his mind, "Kumo Nenkin: Yari!" A spear of his gold unique spit erupted out of his mouth to pierce his first victim, which was Neji.

In a split second, Neji's web bonds were broken and he landed on the golden spear which was still connected to the adversary's mouth and the Hyuga quickly moved down towards the spider man, "Although I admit that Naruto has grown within leaps and bounds in his strength, we are not to be taken lightly…your arrogance is the cost of your downfall. Hakke: Rokujuyon Sho!"

With swift, but angry strikes, Kidomaru was sent through the tree trunk and down, hurdling to the ground floor with Neji rushing after him. To the Hyuga's brief surprise, Kidomaru was covered with his Armor of Sticky Gold, "Hmph…so the information on you was correct after all, looks like I will have to try harder."

"What information?"

"Oh, don't you remember your teammate that you abandoned back at your failed invasion? Yeah, she told us everything…about your bases, your teammates and your abilities, which is why I am fighting you right now. Due to our intel, your web nets have still need chakra to be functional to keep someone down, but as a Hyuga, you will find me not so much as easy prey."

Kidomaru growled in realization, "You mean to tell me that your group, your whole group was formed to not only as a retrieval group for Sasuke-sama, but a group that is solely based on neutralization of the Sound Four group?!"

Neji smirked, "Precisely…"

"You bastard! I will kill you!" Kidomaru shouted in rage as he sprang at Neji, who deftly dodged and slammed his palm into his chest, sending the opposing ninja away. "It's over…or as you would say, Game Over."

Kidomaru's face contorted with rage and Neji's eyes widened as red flame-like tendrils curled over his skin and turned black. "You will DIE! Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" He jumped up into the air and summoned a huge spider in the air, the spider immediately produced a large sac and the spider man secreted a weapon from his mouth again to cut open the sac as he shouted, "Rip them to shreds!"

Neji smirked as he thought, "That is right; keep your eyes on me…" Unbeknownst to the angry spider man, Shino was creeping up from behind, waiting for the opportune moment to strike with a vengeance.

With Shikamaru- The Nara heard his name being called out, "Shikamaru, Shikamaru, wake up, Shikamaru." The lazy boy opened his eyes slowly, "C-Choji? Is that you?" Choji gave him a smile of relief, "Thank Kami, you are alright, I thought that you were done in."

Shikamaru sat up, "What about you? You took the full force of that blow."

The Akimichi grinned, "I will be fine, my stomach took most of the blow, so it is nothing to worry about."

"You are right; you two have to worry about me…"

The two boys turned to see Sakon standing, "I am going to make you pay for what you have done to us, and you will wish that you would have never mess with the Sound Four." Shikamaru corrected, "Sound Two…"

Sakon narrowed his eyes, "What did you do to Jirobo?"

"Let's just say…he had a bad case of indigestion." Shikamaru replied with a smirk and Sakon smirked, "So your little pack of ants managed to beat him, too bad to tell you that he was the weakest one of us. Oh, and between you two and me, there is a reason why I am the leader of this group."

Choji grinned, "And there is a reason why we are paired up against you two."


Shikamaru replied, "We know about your little technique that involves your brother, you have a technique that allows you to penetrate a body by slowly merging with the host on a cellular level. We also know that your older brother is a weakling and can't stay out for long."

Sakon's eyes widened and cursed, "Tayuya…that bitch betrayed us!"

Choji smiled, "And they say you are not smart."

"You two…are dead." Sakon said, seething in rage. With that statement in mind, he ran toward the two boys with great speed and intent to kill. Shikamaru and Choji stood up together quickly, facing their adversary, "It's now or never, Choji, let's beat this guy and get back to the others."

He knelt to the ground and shouted, "Kagemane no Jutsu!" Sakon had to move in a zig-zag fashion to avoid the fast pursuing shadow only to not realize Choji was barreling towards them with a fist outstretched.

Sakon smirked, "You won't be able to touch me with that fist of yours, you tub of lard." At that moment, Choji shouted out in a loud voice, "Bubun Baika no Jutsu: Arm!" Sakon's eyes widened as he thought, "Shit, I forgot about that! He can enlarge his body, gotta dodge."

"Kagemane no Jutsu success."

Sakon felt his body trapped and Shikamaru said, "Sorry, you won't be moving this time!"

Choji's enlarged fist slammed bodily into Sakon straight into the ravine's wall and slowly the boy withdrew his fist from the wall and it returned to its original state. Sakon fell down to the ground for a moment and twitched as he got up, "Ukon, wake the hell up, we are going to Phase Two."

The head from Sakon's base of his neck spoke, "Hehe, never thought I would see you so quick to kill someone." Soon Ukon emerged from Sakon's body while changing into a grotesque oni with one horn protruding from one side of his forehead as well as plate like scales on his left side, his brother was the same except he appeared as a mirror image.

"You two will die here and now!" Sakon and Ukon declared.

Shikamaru frowned as he thought, "Shit, I didn't think that his brother would come out to actually fight and despite Choji's strength and my shadow techniques, we can't back each other through our collaboration techniques…we are going to have to hold out until one of the squad members gets here."

Naruto- The Uzumaki sped after Kimimaro and landed a few feet away from the pale boy, "Hey there, buddy…you mind telling me where you think you are going?" Kimimaro looked at him, "Orochimaru requires this boy to be used in the next life to pursue his dream of attaining all of the jutsu in the world."

"Long story short…he wants Sasuke's body to use the Sharingan to copy and analyze all jutsu, talk about a weird pedophile when you see one no less."

"Do not insult Orochimaru-sama in front of me! You filthy piece of garbage!"

Naruto smirked, "Oh, don't like me insult your leader, huh? Well, let me tell you something about the man…you know how many times I encountered that coward and he has failed to kill me? I would say twice and all of the time he always rambles on and on about Sasuke and how he is going to use his body. I am guessing that you were his favorite until you turned into the sorry state that you are in."

Kimimaro bristled as Naruto continued, "And now that the man has a new fuck toy that he has discarded you like…what was the phase you just used, oh right, a filthy piece of garbage…which means that no more playing the master and servant role-play for you."

Kimimaro quickly unzipped his robes and fashioned himself a bone sword before going after him, "You will die for your insolent words! Tsubaki no Mai!" Naruto quickly moved back and dodged Kimimaro's chaotic and furious stabs until one of the Kaguya's attacks hit home to stab him in the stomach.

"Die, trash."

The Uzumaki coughed up blood and grabbed on to his arm tight, "Hehe…you first…" Kimimaro's eyes widened as Naruto suddenly blew up, sending Kimimaro flying back. Naruto appeared from the shadow of the tree and commented, "Good thing I sent in a Bunshin Daibakuha…but I doubt that sort of thing could keep you down."

"You…what is your name?" Kimimaro asked as he rose up with his singed clothes. "Naruto Uzumaki…" the Uzumaki retorted as he drew Oathkeeper from his sheath and aimed his katana's point , "Now I am going to ask you this one last time…hand over the Uchiha. Now."

"I am Kimimaro Kaguya, the former leader of the Sound Five and with my last breath; I will deliver Orochimaru's new body to him."

Naruto moved Oathkeeper within in a reverse grip and took a low stance before springing off like a jack rabbit toward Kimimaro, who used his short bone sword to stave off his attack before going into a standstill against him.

The two struggled against each other before flipping through one handed signs, "Hyoton: Daeki Senbon!" Using his saliva, he spat out a thin line at Kimimaro's face, which froze as soon as it came into contact with the air, causing the Kaguya to jump back in surprise to avoid the attack.

"Suiton: Mizu Bunshin no Jutsu!" Naruto called out as he jumped back, 20 water clones came out to attack Kimimaro, who in turn, responded in a cold tone, "Yanagi no Mai!" The Kaguya moved swiftly as he grew long sharp bones from his body, the Mizu Bunshins moved into positions to commit bodily harm, but to no avail as they were taken out shortly in a matter of minutes due to their opponent's quick footwork and sweeping strikes.

"Clearly, this man is at a Jonin-level, he is fast, he has bones as hard as steel, maybe even sharper considering the fact that he took out my clones despite having my kekkai genkai reinforced body." The Jinchuuriki thought to himself, "Which means…I am going to have to try harder to make sure I get out of here alive."

His fist clenched and he sheathed Oathkeeper, causing Kimimaro to comment, "Giving up so soon?"

"Hardly," replied the pseudo-hanyou, "I just have decided to destroy you with a strength of mine: ninjutsu." With that, he flipped through hand seals and called out, "Suiton: Teppodama!" His mouth bulged and spat out several water bullets at Kimimaro, who moved towards him with great speed and dodged the fast projectiles.

Naruto jumped back as the sickly Kaguya reached within his bubble to stab him a vital area only for the Jinchuuriki to use his dexterity to avoid the attack and sent a straight kick to his ribs only to stop himself as he noticed his ribs poking out from within his chest.

"You are really annoying with those bones of yours, Kimimaro Kaguya." Naruto commented as he moved back toward him and soon he sensed several chakra signatures coming towards their location, "Ah, company…"

But soon he realized that it wasn't for him as soon as he looked to see four figures appeared beside Kimimaro and out of the four, he instantly recognized, "Mizuki…" Mizuki grinned wolfishly, "Hello, demon, nice to see you again…time for you to die."

"Stand down, Mizuki…I am in charge of this squad and what I said goes." Guren stated with a smirk.

"As you wish, Lady Guren."

Guren turned to the two unnamed squad members, "Kajika…Kigiri, secure the vessel." Naruto moved in front of the barrel just as the two started to move toward where Sasuke was located, "This just got from bad to worse… Haku-chan, where are you?" he thought.

Haku thought to herself, "Naruto-kun…I am coming!"