Explosions went off in rapid succession as Kidomaru jumped out of their radius, narrowly avoiding each blast. He launched a web from his right set of hands and yanked himself up into the trees as the last of the explosions went off.
Tenten quickly rushed to find her own cover, diving behind a tree. She unraveled the last inch of her scroll, having exhausted the weapons sealed within it. There was only one seal left, and she activated it. A cloud of smoke appeared, and Tenten grabbed a kusarigama before moving to more cover, as the smoke would likely attract her foe.
Kidomaru sat in the trees, watching the brunette scurry around the ground like a fly. He huffed bitterly before he looked around to try and find out where his 'backup' had gone. His partner was supposed to be watching the pillar for the other woman's terrain altering jutsu, while Kidomaru himself kept look out in the trees so nobody could sneak up on them. There was no way he'd know to expect an underground attack, especially not so far out from where Akatsuki's hideout was supposed to be at underground. Yet somehow, the uninteresting trash had caught Kidomaru off guard, and he intended to make her suffer for it.
He activated his first stage Curse Mark, intending to finish the fight quickly, "Minor character...difficulty, minimum. You should be grateful I'm exerting even this much effort to take your worthless ass out."
Kidomaru's eyes moved to the side, and his head followed, after hearing a soft whistling sound. He quickly jerked his head back, narrowly avoiding what appeared to be a lightweight kunai with holes in it to give it the whistling sound. He realized it was meant for distraction, and quickly snapped his eyes back forward just as a swarm of shuriken came at him. He scowled furiously and raised his arms up to shield his body and face from the barrage. The projectiles all hit with dozens of repeated thuds, as if they were sticking into the side of a tree.
When he removed his arms from his face, Kidomaru revealed that he was covered in a thick, golden colored armor. The shielding fell off like brittle stone, and Kidomaru underneath it was completely unharmed. He stared down at the ground where the shuriken likely came from before turning his gaze to where the lightweight kunai came from.
'Diversions...and those attacks were too close together. She...set up a trap that quickly?! Maybe this trash is a little more interesting than I thought...'
Deciding against his Summoning Jutsu, Kidomaru began forming a bow out of his sticky chakra molding abilities. Once the weapon was crafted, and pulled out of his mouth, Kidomaru flashed a small smile, ready to find and finish off his new found prey.
Deidara scowled as he circled around his target, who stretched his body out like rubber to reach him. The artist quickly hopped off of his mount and onto another one that swooped by. So far, Deidara had three of his artificial birds in the air, and he alternated between them to avoid Nurari's attacks while trying to find some weakness to exploit.
'Okay think! Any attacks, whether I hit him or explosive, they just bounce right off like rubber! Come on idiot! I bet Naruto could have beaten this lackey by now!'
Nurari shot at Deidara again, stretching his body out. The artist, being infuriated at how tedious and time consuming the fight hand been, hurled a fist-full of clay at his opponent's face and detonated it without even crafting it into any artistic piece. Nurari cried out and his body slapped back to its regular size, holding his face as he went crashing to the ground. Deidara found this startling, as nothing else had worked against the rubber ninja before.
'Wait...' Deidara remembered kicking Nurari in the face on their first encounter, and there was nothing solid underneath, like stepping into a puddle of goop. He also realized that his body and limbs could be stretched out to even reach Deidara in the air, but his head constantly stayed the same size. 'Y-you...' Deidara's eye twitched in irritation with himself as the answer seemed so obvious to him now. 'You call yourself an artist?! You're an idiot!'
Deidara and his two other mounts all came together and nose-dived side by side towards Nurari. The rubber ninja got up, his face scarred and bleeding as he sneered at Deidara, "That won't work on me! Haven't you learned that explosions don't work?!"
The blonde sprung off of his mount and let the three large birds hit the ground with devastating explosions. Nurari moved quickly out of the smoke, only to have Deidara's leg hit his throat. The rubber ninja cried out in shock, coughing up some blood from the sudden and forceful impact before being brought down to the ground. Deidara quickly pinned Nurari's arms down, used one hand to grab his throat, and then shot his fist at his face. Once again, Deidara's fist sunk in with no real impact to speak of. Nurari's loosely hanging face smiled, or what Deidara assumed to be smiling, and laughed.
"Gotcha," Deidara stated with a gleeful grin. Nurari looked shocked before Deidara's hand snapped back and came back forward with a handful of clay, all within a second. He shoved it into Nurari's face, forcing the clay into his mouth and down the rubber ninja's throat. Nurari tried to scream as best as he could, but no sound came out from the clay. "You're not as good as you think buddy. I'm guessing with your body stretching, you can also readjust your insides how you want, right?" Deidara's hand remained firmly clasped over Nurari's mouth, preventing any kind of response. "However, it's the suit, isn't it, not your actual body?" Horror spread through Nurari's eyes, while malice filled Deidara's. "You can shift your organs and body around to avoid any fatal or critical strikes...from the outside anyway." Deidara formed a single hand sign and chuckled, "But your insides, are still your insides."
A small, muffled pop went off as Nurari's stomach expanded suddenly and then deflated very slowly. Smoke came out of his nose, along with a copious amount of blood that also came from his eyes, which were rolled up into the back of his head. Deidara removed his hand from the corpse's mouth, and flung the blood and spittle off of his palm with disgust.
"Glad nobody was around to see that...honestly, those last two attacks were really beneath an artist like me." The blonde turned back to Nurari's corpse, that had smoke coming out of all the openings, as well as a foul smell. "Good thing you won't be telling anyone, eh buddy?" Deidara stood up and looked around to find the next, nearest fight.
Several thunderous sounds, as well as some dulled and distant explosions went off. When Deidara turned his head, he saw a large purple snake, a red toad of, and a large white slug all battling each other ferociously. Deidara paused for a second and stared silently. He knew that they were the Sannin's personal summons, and that he could be as much of a hindrance as helpful.
"Oh screw it," Deidara murmured, throwing caution to the wind before crafting himself another owl mount. As soon as it expanded, he hopped on and took off towards the Sannin's battle.
The echoing shrieks of the bats caused Neji to fall to the ground, clutching his head and dry heaving, as he had already emptied his stomach completely. Off to the side, smirking confidently and arms crossed, Rinji stared down at the helpless Hyuga prodigy as his bats tore his head apart.
Without a single motion, the bats suddenly stopped, and Rinji slowly walked closer towards Neji with a slight limp. "You never stood a chance you know? Your eyes, the Byakugan? Don't get me wrong, an impressive kekkei genkai to be sure. But sounds affect your perception. I can make you disoriented, confused, helpless without lifting a finger. Your eyes can't counter that."
Neji simply stared at the ground, panting heavily as sweat poured from his face and gently rained onto the stone floor. Rinji chuckled and shook his head after a few seconds of Neji's silence. "You're...losing..." The arrogance on the spy's face washed away immediately, turned into panic. Neji chuckled weakly, his arms shaking with strain to hold himself up. "Orochimaru's forces...have lost too many...th-there's no comeback."
"Damn it," Rinji scowled as he signaled his bats to him. One of them squeaked rapidly, as if it were talking to Rinji. Each noise seemed to bring more and more fury to the man's face before he turned to Neji.
In a fit of rage, Rinji ran up to Neji and kicked him in the stomach. The already weakened Hyuga coughed pathetically, holding his gut as Rinji continually kicked him. "You think you're so smart huh?! Stall me long enough to play a game of chance that Akatsuki could win while we were disorganized?!" Rinji stopped his assault and took a few steps back. The bats once again continued their shrieks, though much louder and high pitched. Neji screamed in agony, trembling as Rinji glared daggers at him, "You think you're so clever! Well you're gonna be dead regardless, you scum!"
Neji's eyes snapped open, widening in fury as he glared directly at Rinji's direction. The spy felt a bit unnerved for a slight moment before Neji jammed his fingers directly into his ears. As soon as he did, blood gushed out. Rinji stared in confusion before realization started to dawn on him as Neji stood up to his feet, despite the screeching. Despite his weakened state, and the blood now streaming out of his ears, Neji held his stature and stared at Rinji before turning his head and cupping his hand around one of his ears.
"Sorry, did you say something?"
"Y-you...ruptured your eardrums?!"
Neji charged forward, eyes burning furiously before landing two precise jabs on Rinji's torso, "Two palms!" The Hyuga landed two more hits afterwards, increasing his speed and force with each strike, doubling the hits as well, "Four palms! Eight palms! Sixteen palms!" Rinji's body thrashed wildly against each strike he took. His eyes were wide with the overwhelming, numbing sensation that slowly spread throughout his entire body as his chakra pathways were cut off one by one. "Eight Trigrams: Sixty For Palms!" With a powerful, open palmed strike, Neji hit Rinji's gut with tremendous pressure and force, sending the spy flying back and imbedded into a stone wall. Rinji froze for a moment, mouth opened in a silent scream as his body trembled before he slowly fell off the wall and onto the ground in a lifeless heap.
Neji's eyes scanned Rinji's body to ensure that he was dead, and his chakra pathways were stopped completely. As soon as he did, a swarm of bats flew right past Neji, startling the young ninja as they moved to find the closest exit in a hurry. Neji had guessed that with the death of their master, the bats were now just regular creatures with no direction.
With his Byakugan, he scanned what remained of the catacombs, and saw that everyone seemed to be moving towards the exits. Neji realized it wasn't a half bad idea with the constant shifting of the ground itself. His eyes continued to expand their radius before he saw Gaara battling what appeared to be a Jinchuriki, partially transformed and with four tails. Neji saw that the chakra was similar to the Kyuubi, but he also noticed that the being was not Naruto.
"What's happening," Neji asked himself. He continued to search, knowing that somebody like Orochimaru would have a backup plan in case a frontal assault failed. Soon enough, his eyes caught sight of two targets to the south and the east. In the forests to the east of the hideout, Tenten was in a skirmish, fleeing from a multi-limbed foe with a bow and arrow, and extreme accuracy. In the plains to the south, where Jiraiya and Zabuza buried Sakura's uncle, Ino cowered while clearly trying to think of some way to fight the very burly opponents with his chakra levels. 'Damn it...don't make my choice easy why don't you...'
'Neji?! Is this you?'
The young Hyuga's face twisted in confusion at the sudden, unknown voice in his head, 'Uh...w-who...?'
'Thank goddess, I've been trying to reach you so that you might be able to tell us the enemy's positions!'
Instead of taking the time to question whether or not the Rinnegan could do the same, Neji stowed his curiosity, 'It seems like they've got the Serpent Five stationed at each cardinal direction. Tenten is fighting one of them on her own in the eastern forests, and Ino is on her own against two foes to the south. They both need backup immediately!'
A few seconds passed before Nagato answered, 'Backup is on their way. Quickly, what else?'
'Kiba is...he's getting his butt handed to him in the west. But it looks like somebody is already on their way. And at the north, Jiraiya and Lady Tsunade have already engaged Orochimaru in battle. There are a few injured, a battle besides the Sannin's, and at least one dead for sure.'
'Some kind of psuedo Jinchuriki is battling Gaara in the southeast. I'm not sure how, but it has the Kyuubi's chakra. Gaara is holding it off well enough, but I don't know if he can actually defeat it.'
'Alright, everyone is preparing to evacuate right now Neji, just in case things get crazier, and to also move our fights outside. You need to do the same.'
'I'll move to support Ino. She doesn't stand a chance, and I'm closer to her than Tenten, just make sure her backup gets there in time!'
Without waiting for further orders or instructions, Neji turned and ran towards the south, busting through the wall that stood in his way with a fast and strong Rotation.
Kiba staggered up to his feet, panting with a heavy wheeze as he clutched his bleeding side and glared at his foe. Sakon had his arms crossed and simply shook his head, having lost interest with his punching back. "Can't you at least try and make this interesting?"
Kiba huffed before pulling out four small, rounded pills from his pouch. Sakon narrowed his eyes skeptically before the young Inuzuka swallowed them all. In a blink, Kiba's chakra spiked up, enough to startle Sakon and bring Fuen's attention from her scroll. A wicked sneer grew over Kiba's face as his features became more feral, and his nails grew to small claws.
"Yeah, I think I can make this interesting!" Sakon matched Kiba's grin before the two rushed each other.
Sakon threw his triple punch at Kiba, who immediately dodged it and sliced upwards across his foe's chest. The double headed boy cried out as blood sprayed from his chest for a second before jumping backwards. Kiba grinned as he held up his blood tipped claws to show them off. Sakon glared at the Inuzuka and gently placed his fingertips against his bloodied chest.
"Tunneling Fang!" Sakon jumped out of the way of Kiba's rapidly spinning body. Kiba stopped on a dime and rebounded off of the ground before starting the jutsu again, "Tunneling Fang!"
"You little," Sakon muttered in anger and disgust. He bent backwards as Kiba flew right over him. As soon as he passed, Sakon flipped over on his hands and landed on his feet, looking back at where Kiba eventually stopped.
"Tunneling-," Kiba was cut off when something popped up out of the ground behind him. He quickly turned his head and saw a figure almost identical to Sakon grab him in a full-nelson. "H-hey! What the hell?!"
Sakon chuckled and stood up before moving to the side, revealing the hole in the ground, "That's my older brother, Ukon." Kiba's eyes saw the hole, and realized that when Sakon bent over backwards was when his brother had to have buried through.
"Damn it," the young Inuzuka muttered angrily.
"Are you going to kill him the old fashioned way, brother?"
"I should just snap his neck," Ukon muttered angrily. "You've been toying with this idiot for far too long to begin with."
"I'd rather you not kill him," a feminine voice stated. Sakon and Ukon, as well as Kiba, turned their heads to the side before a blur tackled Ukon off of Kiba's back, pinning him to the ground. Hana had her hand opened, nails turned into claws, and ready to pierce Ukon's face.
"Brother!" Sakon hurled a kunai quickly at Hana. The older Inuzuka quickly snapped her head to the side and jumped off of Ukon as the knife flew by them both. The older brother quickly jumped back over to Sakon, both of them glaring at the Inuzuka siblings.
"I didn't need your help," Kiba snapped as his sister landed by his side.
"You clearly had that all under control," Hana replied with a toneless, condescending voice. "Look, these guys are apart of Orochimaru's best. Now isn't the time to act like some hot-shot. Now's the time to kick their asses, no matter the cost it does to your ego." Hana forcefully poked the side of Kiba's head at the last statement, getting a disgruntled huff from her brother.
"Siblings against siblings eh," Sakon pointed out. "And she looks older...she's likely smarter and more skilled than the idiot brother."
"You're one to talk," Ukon fired back. "Let's not hold anything back against them. This fight has dragged on long enough, Sakon."
"If you say so brother." Sakon sounded wary before straightening his back to stand tall next to his brother. The two smiled as odd, flame-like designs spread over their body, covering their skin. Hana and Kiba watched in shock before the designs started to spread over all of their body, forming a single horn coming out of their foreheads, right where their hair parted. When the transformation settled, the two brothers had longer, lighter hair, red skin, and elongated, sharpened teeth. "You freaks won't survive this."
"Heh, we're the freaks huh," Kiba questioned sarcastically. "Take a look in the mirror."
"Kiba, focus," Hana snapped.
Ukon huffed and turned to his little brother, "I like her. I'll make sure her death is painless."
"You were always a softy for the older women." Ukon huffed at his brother's remark before they both charged forward. Hana and Kiba both readied themselves for the oncoming assault against the two brothers.
Metal clashed against metal in a battle of speed as Haku and Kabuto clashed, with the latter holding the advantage. The silver haired medic slid back against the ground before snapping his head towards Naruto, who began his own skirmish. Kabuto easily avoided each swing Naruto threw at him before finally retaliating with a slash of his Chakra Scalpel. Naruto jerked his head to the side, only losing the tips of a few hairs, before rolling out of the way.
When Naruto was out of his sight, Kabuto saw only Sakura's leg as it came towards the side of his face. He quickly ducked under the blow that would have otherwise knocked him senseless, and moved to impale her with his Chakra Scalpel. Before he could make contact, his arm suddenly stopped against its will. Kabuto scowled and snapped his head to the side, seeing Izumi, still lying on the ground, pulling her arms back to keep Kabuto from striking.
"You never learn, do you?!"
"You guys can't win by just hitting him! He can regenerate from any basic attack you throw at him!" Izumi pulled her arms, rolling her body over to bring Kabuto stumbled away from Sakura.
"Lady Izumi managed to injure him earlier," Haku stated. "She might stand a chance against him!"
"Fine, I'm on it," Sakura shouted. As she turned towards Izumi, her eyes popped open and she launched herself forward, slamming her fist into a giant beast that attempted to squash Izumi underfoot. A monstrous ogre creature stumbled backwards before falling onto its backside. Sakura lifted the puppeteer up and quickly moved to avoid the attacks from the next two beasts. "Where the hell did those come from?"
"The redhead," Izumi replied, turning her head to look back at Tayuya playing her flute. "Damn it...they're going to coordinate their attacks. You won't have time to heal my legs."
"I'm not leaving you to fend for yourself!"
"You may have to." Sakura dodged a club from one of the beasts and scowled. Izumi turned to Sakura, who had a visibly fowl look on her face. She knew what Orochimaru did to Sakura's uncle, Higure. Though the two had never interacted, Izumi felt sympathy, and a fellowship towards the young kunoichi, due to what Sasori did to Chiyo and Ebizo. "You have to go on ahead," Izumi stated before using her arms to shove herself off of Sakura.
The pink haired kunoichi turned her head, calling out Izumi's name in horror. The puppeteer concentrated her chakra into one point, sending a powerful surge that shocked her nervous system. She still couldn't feel her legs, and then did so again. The second surge managed to bring feeling back into her legs, just as the Doki with bone-claws wrapped to his wrists sliced into her.
The pieces of the body fell to the ground, littered with thick, wooden clanking noises. Sakura gasped when she saw this. The Doki completely wrapped from the body appeared above Sakura, threatening to smash his feet down on her. Sakura cringed and waited for the inevitable, shattering force of the large creature on her body, but instead her a booming sound that shook the ground beneath her. Sakura looked up, seeing that she was covered by some kind of archway, until she looked at either end and saw it was a puppet styled after a crocodile.
Izumi was standing next to Sakura, startling her as the puppet master seemingly came out of nowhere. "You need to grab Naruto and move on ahead."
Izumi turned her eyes to Sakura, her light teal pools reflecting the pinkette's green emeralds, "This fight carries no weight for you. You're upset and angry because the person who took your life away from you is up ahead." The surprise and bewilderment was visible on Sakura's face. Izumi turned her head and wiggled her fingers slightly. A panel opened up on the Crocodile's back opened up and unleashed a powerful, shredding force of wind that completely consumed the Doki and hurled it several meters away. As it crashed into the ground, the Crocodile's back started snapping back from separated panels, which allowed it to encompass a larger area, back into one solid puppet. "I know if it was Sasori here instead of Orochimaru...I'd want nothing but revenge. Even if the Sannin did stand in my way."
"Sasori," Sakura murmured softly to herself. Her mind immediately started to remember Izumi's face, until she remembered Mao's coronation as Fourth Tsuchikage.
She was with her uncle, and for the first time, Sakura was introduced to the Honored Siblings of Sunagakure. There was barely any interaction between them, but Sakura remembered Izumi from that party as Chiyo's apprentice. It wasn't long after that party that news of the Honored Siblings' treachery towards the Alliance was made public.
"You..." Sakura's face hardened before she gave Izumi a firm nod, "Thank you Izumi. I definitely owe you one." The pinkette ran off towards the battlefield, leaving Izumi behind as she smirked to herself.
"Give 'em hell child," Izumi murmured to herself, repeating the words Chiyo would always say to her. As the other two Doki closed in on the puppeteer, Izumi quickly vanished, leaving only a slight amount of dust kicked up from her departure.
Naruto and Haku stood across from Kabuto, both of them panting softly while the silver haired medic grinned to himself. Izumi then appeared between the three boys, glaring at Kabuto specifically. "In order to better combat them, Haku, you need to go after the redhead with the flute." The ice user looked off towards the two oncoming Doki, and beyond them, the already transformed redhead. "You have speed and taijutsu prowess, while she has a sharp mind, but hides behind her summons. If you can get past them, she'll be helpless."
"Always the quick thinker, aren't you," Kabuto asked with an arrogant tone.
"I'm the only one capable of combating Kabuto effectively. Naruto, you need to go help Sakura when she gets to Orochimaru." This seemed to shock everyone, especially Kabuto.
"Wait! She's going where?!" Without waiting for an answer, Naruto shot off to the side, catching Sakura in the corner of his eye quickly enough. "Sakura-chan! Wait up!"
Haku stared at the two with a worried expression. He shook his head, but stayed silent of his disapproval nonetheless before heading off to confront Tayuya.
Kabuto, clearly irate, glared at Izumi, who dispelled her Crocodile puppet. "You're a fool. With Sakura backing you up, and Naruto providing brute force for Haku you could have stood a much better chance."
"I'm aware," Izumi replied calmly as she rolled up her sleeve. Kabuto stared at her arm as the puppeteer began to reveal a series of tattoos riding up her flesh. "However, Sakura's grudge is with Orochimaru. Just as my grudge is with you. Besides, against you, Naruto is a liability. Against Tayuya, he might have helped, but his head-on fighting style would still put him at as much risk as Haku, thus creating another potential problem. One-on-one, while riskier, has its advantages."
The medic sneered as Izumi drew blood from her thumb and dragged it across her arm, "Is that what the old woman told you?"
"Ebizo did, actually. Besides..." Izumi slammed her palm into the ground, creating a large cloud of smoke that covered her. Kabuto stood ready, pulling out a slightly curved kunai. When the smoke cleared, Izumi stood with a hunched over looking puppet with two bull horns on either side of its head, a shield on its back, and an arm that it used as a cane.
"The Hermit..." Kabuto recognized Ebizo's signature weapon immediately.
"In this case, one-on-one means I get the pleasure of gutting you myself..." Izumi's teal eyes then widened with pure malice as she zeroed in on her target.
Jirobo stared intently still at the small mound of dirt that was only a few feet away from himself and Fudo. The brute knew that in case he and his teammates had to activate their barrier jutsu in a last ditch effort to destroy the Akatsuki, that he'd need to be in his precise positioning for it all to work. Still, his curiosity continually nagged at him. Who did the unmarked grave belong to? If it was someone of importance, and someone Orochimaru could use in the Edo Tensei, then wouldn't it be worth it to dig it up?
A rustling in the bushes drew Jirobo and Fudo's attention. "Deal with it," the larger of the two brutes stated in his annoyance. Jirobo glared at the muscular ninja. It would be a lie to say he wasn't use to being talked down to, but he wasn't about to stand for some shinobi he held no respect for to belittle him.
Regardless, Jirobo slammed his palm onto the ground. A flat section of earth from where the rustling came from suddenly snapped up, launching up a body. Both Fudo and Jirobo looked up at it as it sailed through the air. Jirobo jutted his fingers into the ground, lifting up a sizable chunk of earth before getting ready to hurl it at the airborne body.
"Wait," Fudo snapped. Jirobo paused and snapped his angered eyes back at his temporary partner. A split second after, the body hit the ground, revealing to be a stuffed dummy. "Someone planted that...likely as a diversion for part of a grander plan."
Jirobo placed the rock back into the ground and dusted his hands together before approaching the dummy. Using his foot, the large shinobi rolled the motionless thing over, revealing a seal written in ink, saying 'flash.' Jirobo nor Fudo had time to react before a blinding burst of light erupted from the distraction.
"GAH! DAMN IT!" Jirobo furiously rubbed his eyes, seeing nothing but repeated spots clouding up his vision. Before he knew it, a powerful hit struck the brute and sent him smashing directly into the ground. Pain surged through Jirobo's body as he let out a pained cry. The bright, flashing spots in his eyes suddenly became dark. Somehow, he knew that all the light had been taken away. Shortly after, he felt himself being pulled down into the darkness, forcibly crushed on from all sides. "N-no! What the hell is this?! Stop! Fudo!? Where the hell are you?!"
Up on the surface, Fudo stood over the patch of solid rock that he had just buried Jirobo under. He then knelt down and picked up a single kunai next to his feet and put it to his throat. He swiftly jerked his arm to slice his own throat, and then stopped suddenly.
Fudo's expression changed from neutral to rage before he hurled the dagger off to the distance, glaring furiously at the trees and bushes around him, "You...I know you're out there! Judging from that technique you used to control me, you're from the Yamanaka Clan! And the only member of Akatsuki from that Clan is...Ino Yamanaka. The heiress to that pansy group."
"We're not pansies," an angry woman's voice shouted back. Ino cringed and began moving, 'Crap! Keep your mouth shut woman.'
"You attempted to have me kill myself after ending that fat hog's life, but killing me while you're in my body means that you die too. It was a good plan in theory, too bad you lack the will to end your own life."
"It has nothing to do with that," Ino called out as she silently moved throughout her cover. "Everyone in Akatsuki is willing to give up their lives for a greater cause. Ending you immediately just wasn't worth suicide."
"Well it's a coward like you against me," Fudo shouted, "so why not come on out?"
Ino smirked and lightly tapped the side of her nose with a smug hum, "Because you're about to get another foe to deal with big guy."
The ground exploded upward, much to Fudo's shock. Immediately, an ugly looking beast with red skin and a wild orange mane of hair came up and attacked him. Fudo defended himself, utterly shocked by the amount of brute force the creature carried.
"What the hell is the big idea trying to kill me," Jirobo questioned furiously. "I'm going to kill you, you bastard!"
"Hold on you moron-," Jirobo slammed his head into Fudo's face, throwing the shinobi sailing into a thick tree. The older brute became enraged and stood up before Jirobo, in his second stage Curse Mark came at him.
Ino sat in the bushes and watched from a distance, smiling proudly at the small bit of trouble she caused had worked so beautifully to her favor.
Gaara stood across from his foe, panting heavily as Sora's transformed state heaved before him. It seemed that both combatants were reaching their limit, and nobody seemed to hold a distinct advantage. During the pause in their battle, Gaara took note of the battlefield that was completely barren and leveled from the amount of destructive force Sora held in his current state.
Even more obvious to the actual Jinchuriki now, was that it would have been easy for him to win this fight if he allowed Shukaku's influence to give him strength. Ironically, Gaara wouldn't allow it despite the Bijuu's mental requests to have a go at the fight. Staring at Sora in his mindless form was an ugly reminder of the destructive force a Bijuu could do when in control, and Sora even lacked the true Kyuubi inside of him.
Sora's body tensed, ready to pounce. Gaara prepared himself immediately for whatever attack he would throw. In the instant before Sora readied to attack, white tendrils shot up out of the ground, completely surrounding the psuedo Jinchuriki. Gaara paused and watched in confusion, while Sora just froze in place, watching the odd looking things coming out of the ground. The tendrils closed in quickly, trapping Sora inside a swirled looking trap that was quickly dragged deep into the ground.
Gaara quickly manipulated his sand to spearhead down into the ground after Sora. He dug several meters deep into the earth, but found nothing, not even a tunnel in which the psuedo Jinchuriki could have been taken through.
Ignoring his own curiosities in place of his duties, Gaara lifted himself up on a cloud of sand and scouted the area with his eyes. Seeing the closest sign of commotion, Gaara headed towards it. He knew that despite Sora being taken and left unattended, that it would pose a huge threat. However, Gaara knew he couldn't do much about it regardless with no trail to go off of.
The clash between siblings escalated rapidly as Hana held her own against Ukon fairly well despite the increased power from the Curse Mark, but Kiba struggled immensely against Sakon. The youngest of the Inuzuka was slammed into the ground, with Sakon crouched over him, a hand on his face and a sneer reflecting in Kiba's fury filled eyes.
"You're pathetic. You're garbage from a worthless clan that deserved to die." The toothy grin widened as Sakon's hand started to meld into Kiba's flesh, much to the latter's shock and horror. "After I kill you, I'm gonna have some fun with your sister, alongside my brother!"
Kiba took a swing at Sakon, but he quickly merged into the young Inuzuka's body before the blow actually hit.
Ukon grinned and jumped out of Hana's range before turning to Kiba. Hana carefully followed her foe's gaze, seeing Sakon's head popping out of Kiba's shoulder. "What the...Kiba, what happened?!"
"I don't know! This freak just jumped into me somehow!"
"Very observant," Sakon stated. "It's our kekkei genkai. We can fuse with any flesh, any body on a cellular level. Right now, I'm working on the worst possible assassination technique. Right now, I'm corroding and rotting away your cells...and soon, you'll be dead from the inside out." Sakon turned his head slowly towards Hana, "Unless..."
The eldest Inuzuka had her eyes narrowed on her brother, who shot her a brief, pleading gaze. Hana's eyes focused on her brother before shifting to a grinning Sakon.
"Unless you hold still so I can gut you," Ukon shouted as he attempted to bounce Hana from behind. She quickly spun around, catching Ukon by his extended arm, and slammed him immediately into the ground. Hana wrenched the knife out of her foe's hand and snapped her eyes forward.
"Kiba...you gotta trust me, alright?" Without hesitation, Kiba nodded. Hana threw the kunai at her brother, the tip of the blade piercing his shoulder. Kiba and Sakon both howled in agony, the former clutching the wound.
"What the hell sis?!" Before Kiba could get a response, Hana kicked him across the face. Both Kiba and Sakon grunted as the former fell on his back. The eldest sibling then crouched on top of her brother and clutched his throat tightly while glaring at Sakon's exposed head.
"If you can merge with your target on a cellular level, it's safe to say you control their bodies. And a symbiosis that intimate means that his pain is your pain, and any injury he receives, you do too." Kiba's eyes widened at his sister's analysis. "And I could try and attack your exposed head, but I've seen how your kekkei genkai works, and you could either hide in Kiba's body anyway, or change the placement of your head. So why not just cut out the middle man?"
Sakon, despite having nothing at his throat, coughed and wheezed through his teeth, "S-so what?! Y-you gonna kill y-your own brother?!" Hana looked back to her brother. With a fierce grin, Kiba nodded to his sister.
"I promise I'll make this up to you," Hana replied before she began punching her little brother in the face. For every blow given, every bruise received, and every bit of drawn blood on Kiba's face was received on Sakon's too.
Eventually, Kiba's hands snapped up and restrained Hana. Another pair of hands, Sakon's this time, came up and grabbed the elder Inuzuka's ankles. As Hana struggled, Kiba saw Ukon high in the air with a kunai drawn and ready to stab his sister in the back.
"NO!" Kiba forced his body to move to his will instead of Sakon's, and rolled Hana over onto her back so that he would take the hit.
"H-how did you-," Sakon's question was cut short as a the knife pierced Kiba's back. The two coughed up blood. Kiba turned his head as he did, so not to get his blood on his sister's petrified face.
"You FILTH!" Sakon slumped out of Kiba's right side and hit the ground like a bag of potatoes. Ukon slammed his foot into Kiba's stomach and send the young Inuzuka rolling across the ground, and clutching his stomach. "Brother are you-," Ukon turned his head as Hana quickly rose to her feet. The older of the two brothers looked horrified as Hana's features made her look like a rapid monster, before a searing pain that consumed his face blinded him. "GAAAH! You bitch!" Ukon held his scarred and bloody face with both hands, dropping his kunai to the ground.
Hana charged Ukon on all fours, snarling in rage before dashing across his body with two more slashes to the chest. Ukon howled in agony before Hana slid to a halt and sprinted forward again like a wolf.
"Brother," Ukon shouted in desperation. They were both injured, but if they merged their bodies again, they would be able to at least put up a fighting chance. A sudden, short grunt escaped Ukon's lips. His eyes were wide open, despite the blood, and his entire body went numb. He stared at the fury filled eyes of an elder sister before looking down at her hand that was almost halfway in his gut. "S...Sakon..."
As Hana ripped her hand out of Ukon's gut, she let his body fall to the ground in a bloody heap. She lifted her head up, seeing Sakon glaring daggers at her while limping forwards. Hana slowly walked towards Sakon to meet his pace, her eyes just as fierce as his. The two stopped just in front of one another, sparks flying between their eyes.
"Well, what're you waiting for?!" Hana pulled her arm back, claws ready to tear out his throat.
"Stop!" Hana and Sakon both turned their heads just as Konan floated down close to them. Behind the Akatsuki leader, a team of medical shinobi began working on Kiba. "We may need information from him about Orochimaru and the Alliance."
"What about the black haired girl," Hana said in a snarl. "Did we kill her already?"
"I managed to end his other partner easily enough," Konan replied, giving a slight nod to Sakon. "She was apparently responsible for changing the ground and with it, the caverns. After I killed her, everything changed back to normal. There's no telling who lived and who died after everything went back into place."
"You trash killed my brother," Sakon shouted. "There's no way in hell I'm giving any of you-," Hana slashed Sakon's throat to silence him, blood spraying from his neck. The boy wore a look of shock before falling to the ground. With blood covering Hana's body now, she angrily turned towards Konan who returned a firm stare.
"Punish me later," the eldest Inuzuka snapped as her features and chakra receded. She rushed to be by her brother's side and help with his treatments.
Konan watched her rush off before staring at the bodies of Sakon and Ukon, after their Curse Marks had died with them. The blue haired woman looked back up at Hana, who held such anger and a fierce expression only seconds before now had a worried and tender gaze towards her brother. With a sigh, Konan shook her head, knowing that if the situations were reversed she'd be the same way.
An thunderous boom of pure force echoed throughout the forest, causing birds to flee in a noisy flock. Tenten sat crouched behind a tree, panting heavily and clutching her arm which was oozing blood. Her enemy, Kidomaru, was still in hiding, and Tenten could only surmise that he was in the second stage of his Curse Mark, due to the increased power and damage. That each of his arrows shot.
She could tell by the holes punched through the forest by said arrows that Kidomaru had to be a few kilometers away at least. The game she continued to play was to try and lead Kidomaru further into the woods while she laid traps about for him to trip over. She would have never guessed that the spider ninja would have had such a long range with his techniques. Even for a weapon's master like Tenten, she couldn't even get close to that amount of distance, even with a clearing provided.
She leaned her head back against the tree to her back and sighed, staring up at the sky, "There's no way I'm getting out of this one, huh?"
"Tenten!" The brunette snapped her head up as Nagato, along with a few other shinobi behind him approached.
"No wait don't-," The shinobi behind Nagato were all either pierced or blown away by the powerful force of an arrow, that acted more like a missile. Nagato was only hit with a bit of the outward force, but turned his head towards the direction of the shot.
"Take care of Tenten! I'll handle this one!"
The remaining members of Akatsuki in the party moved towards the injured brunette, and a medical ninja immediately began focusing on her arm.
Another arrow came flying through the woods, aimed directly at Nagato's chest. The redhead noted the trajectory, impressed with the accuracy. Using his Shinra Tensei, Nagato effortlessly destroyed the arrow without losing any momentum. With the Rinnegan as well, Nagato managed to see Kidomaru perfectly.
The multi-limbed shinobi saw the redheaded, high ranking Akatsuki member coming for him. Granted there was more than enough distance between the two of them, but from a simple look at that ninjutsu, Kidomaru knew he was outclassed, and would have needed the element of surprise to have even stood a chance.
"Having some trouble," a soft, sultry voice asked. Kidomaru snapped his head back and saw his partner, Kazuma's subordinate Fuka, standing behind him. "That's Nagato of the Rinnegan, and a founding member of the Akatsuki. We're going to have to run if we want to stand a chance."
Kidomaru stared at the woman before shifting his eyes back towards the oncoming Nagato. He was proud of his abilities, but Kidomaru wasn't stupid enough to stand against the Rinnegan. He deactivated his Curse Mark with a scowl before turning back to Fuka.
"Orochimaru won't be happy about this..."
"There's better employment opportunities for someone like you," Fuka said with a smile.
Kidomaru huffed and followed the woman as she began to turn tail and run, "Like what? Kazuma and your merry band?"
"Kazuma is an idiot. He thinks that the Daimyo would be a better leader than Danzo. More peaceful, sure, but nowhere near as good."
"So what, you're an Alliance spy?"
"Please. There are only two leaders in the world who are more capable than Danzo. One of them is Saizo Hideyoshi."
"Since he's dead, I'm guessing you're working for the second. Who is it?"
Fuka gave a soft, but dangerous looking smile as she turned towards Kidomaru, "Madara Uchiha..."
Tayuya grunted as her back hit the ground, and she was pinned to the ground with three needles hovering right in front of her face. The Doki had paused just above her and the black haired boy on top of her, having no more instructions to follow after she was disarmed. The Akatsuki boy stared down at Tayuya, but with neither anger nor resentment.
"Ready to give up," Haku asked.
"Not like I have a choice," Tayuya muttered. She deactivated her Curse Seal, shooting an angered look at Haku. "So? Go ahead and kill me."
"Not required," Haku stated as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Tayuya's brow furrowed in confusion at the boy. "Besides, you could hold information useful to us." With a quick chop to the side of the neck, Tayuya was knocked unconscious. "Hopefully you won't take prisoner life too badly..."
The ground shook violently as the colossal purple serpent, Manda, slithered about and avoided attacks from Gamabunta and Katsuya both, while throwing out his own counters at them. Standing upon the heads of each large summon were the Sannin, riding their respective animals.
Orochimaru finished performing the seals for a ninjutsu before launching a large stream of fire towards a charging Gamabunta.
The warrior toad countered Orochimaru's jutsu with his own, much larger Gunshot. A huge ball of water shot out of his mouth and went straight for the Sannin while extinguishing his flames. Manda easily moved so that neither he nor Orochimaru would take the hit from Gamabunta's jutsu. The ball of water then burst open just as it was above Manda's head. Orochimaru snapped his eyes skyward, seeing a massive, blue swirling ball of chakra in the hand of Jiraiya.
Orochimaru's neck shot up at Jiraiya, allowing him to sink his teeth into the larger man. Jiraiya had also slapped Orochimaru's neck with a seal that repressed all of the serpent's chakra. As markings slowly drew all over Jiraiya's body, and Orochimaru let out a stifled gasp as his own chakra was blocked off, he looked down to see that Tsunade was standing on Manda's head. Before Orochimaru could do anything, a earth shattering force hit his chest, sending him flying off of the colossal serpent's head and onto its back several meters down.
Tsunade then turned her attention downward, cocking her fist back before slamming it into the skull of Manda. The beast was send crashing into the ground with a fury and pain filled cry. Jiraiya landed next to Tsunade, clutching his neck as the latter came to him. She undid the seal, allowing Jiraiya's chakra to flow properly again.
Orochimaru had to bring his head back to his body to use his hands to rip off the paper seal Jiraiya slapped on him. "Two against one are less favorable odds than I'd prefer," Orochimaru muttered to himself as he gazed up at his old teammates standing upon Manda's head. 'Jiraiya poses the larger threat in battle, but if I focus on him then Tsunade can annihilate me, and patch up any inflictions upon him. Even with Manda, this battle is going to be one-sided.'
"You keep arguing this, but he needs to die," Tsunade snapped.
"He knows he can't win, and he's just stalling us out. If we can immobilize him-,"
"Do you know how many of our people he's killed today Jiraiya?! How much of our people's blood is on his hands?!"
"I'm not giving him a free pass, but he has information we need," Jiraiya said, staying calm. "If we kill him, any advantage over the Alliance is completely thrown out of the window." Manda's body began to coil around, signaling that he was about to rise again. Tsunade let out a ferocious shout and slammed her fist into the snake's head, pushing him deeper into the ground. "After we get the information we need out of him, then we can kill him, you have my word."
"That's not good enough. We-,"
"We're down in terms of numbers and manpower, and Kumogakure is still waiting on an answer from us. We need every advantage we can get after today." Tsunade scowled silently and stared daggers down at her former comrade in arms.
Orochimaru stared up at Jiraiya and Tsunade both, his serpent eyes analyzing them carefully as he tried to think of a way out of this mess. Via the countless Curse Marks placed on his subordinates, Orochimaru felt that nearly all of them were dead with only a few left, though their signatures were dying out. He even felt the death of Sakon and Ukon, as well as Tayuya and Jirobo's faint chakra. The only member of the Serpent Four who seemed to be active was Kidomaru, though he was fleeing from the battle.
Orochimaru knew he had lost completely in this endeavor. His only remaining option was to leave and somehow rebuild. He knew that escaping from his two former comrades would be a challenge in itself however, if not impossible.
"Congratulations on your victory here," Orochimaru said quietly to himself. He formed a hand sign and dispelled Manda, who was already disoriented and borderline worthless anyway by this point in the battle. Smoke covered the immediate area for several kilometers, effectively obscuring Jiraiya and Tsunade's field of vision.
"Damn that snake," Tsunade shouted as she and Jiraiya landed on the ground. "That fucking coward is getting away!"
Jiraiya turned his attention to something moving in the smoke, before it was completely covered. He turned his head in the opposite direction and saw more movement. "Tsunade...I think we're surrounded..."
The smoke parted enough to give Tsunade and Jiraiya a few yards of clear vision, where it was revealed that they were surrounded by dozens of copies of Orochimaru.
"They're all clones," Tsunade pointed out angrily.
"Likely to keep us busy while he flees. But after summoning Manda, our battle, and this large of a jutsu, Orochimaru's chakra has to be dwindling." Jiraiya pulled out a small bamboo shaft and held it up to the sky. A single, bright ball of fire shot up into the air as a signaling flare.
Tsunade smirked as she watched Jiraiya light the flare, "You had someone waiting the entire time didn't you?"
Jiraiya returned his partner's smile and looked back to her, "I figured it was time for the newest member of our council to prove his mettle."
Outside of the large cloud of smoke, Itachi raced around the border, heading for the most obvious escape route available, the forest. Using his Sharingan, he caught Orochimaru fleeing from the smoke. "Got you." The young Uchiha picked up his pace and gave the Sannin chase.
Kabuto ducked and continually avoided each of the dual strikes from Izumi and the Hermit. The puppeteer's fighting style was something Kabuto had never encountered, or even heard of before. Unlike most puppet users, Izumi moved to attack Kabuto head-on, and managed to use the Hermit for follow-up attacks, preventing any kind of opening for the medic to counter. Thanks to his speed however, Kabuto had yet to be hit or struck by Izumi either. He knew that the poison she put on her fingertips would likely only have one more use, the hand she had yet to stick in his gut, and kept his attention focused there.
Despite not having landed a blow, Izumi's demeanor was calm and collected as she attacked and moved in harmony with the late Ebizo's signature puppet. She threw a high kick at Kabuto's face, allowing him to bend backwards and flip onto his hands before launching himself to get some distance. Izumi's hand signs were a blur as her eyes followed Kabuto closely. The Hermit's arms extended outward, firing two concentrated torrents of poison.
Kabuto chuckled as he adjusted his glasses, kneeling to the ground, "You really don't get it. I can analyze that poison already, and it won't affect me!" The purple fog soon enveloped Kabuto and he simply shook his head before standing up to his feet. He walked forward, intending to meet Izumi head on. The medic took only a few steps before he saw his own reflection coming towards him. A look of shock crossed his face, showing in his copy. Kabuto soon panicked before looking around, seeing shining patches of ice in a dome-like structure. "No! When did-," Kabuto realized that Haku likely defeated Tayuya. It was nearly inconceivable that she could be bested so quickly already based on what the ice user showed in their skirmishes.
"No matter how weak the poison," Izumi's voice came. Kabuto turned his head, seeing the puppeteer standing in front of him, "Enough exposure will kill even the most resilient." Kabuto's rage built as he rushed Izumi, screaming in anger before swiping his hand across her body, only for it to move right through her. The light purple haired girl's body evaporated like smoke, flashing a smirk on her face before disappearing from sight.
"You witch! You damned witch! You think this is going to be the death of me?! I won't let this pitiful tactic kill me! Do you hear me Izumi?!"
Standing outside the ice dome, that was now colored in purple from the poison fog, Izumi stood between the Hermit and Haku, who carried an unconscious Tayuya on his shoulder. "He's really a blow-hard isn't he," Haku asked.
Izumi flashed a smile and nudged Haku with her elbow, "Thanks for setting that trap."
"He seems arrogant enough that he wouldn't pay attention to his surroundings. Wild guess."
The ice dome then suddenly shattered, bringing Haku and Izumi's attention back forward. Two figures raced out from the fog and towards the Akatsuki pair. Izumi moved the Hermit to action. The fingers on the Hermit's right hand snapped together as two sharpened blades came out on either side of his arm. The wooden limb pierced through the first body and sliced through it effortlessly. Its left arm snapped out to the side and launched its fingers as projectiles that pierced through the last body, dropping it to the ground.
"Wow," Haku murmured.
Izumi scowled before forming a single seal. Hermit's head turned towards the poison fog and opened its mouth. A vacuum began sucking the purple smoke back into its body, revealing a few pieces of ice littering the ground, and no sign of Kabuto. "Damn it..."
Haku observed the two attacking figures, and realized that they were corpses temporarily reanimated to act as nothing more than distractions. The ice user shivered a bit at the fact that Kabuto would have corpses on hand, let alone a jutsu to reanimate a corpse.
"They're done over there too it seems," Izumi spoke. Haku drew his attention back to the elder kunoichi and looked off to the distance.
The battlefield in which the Sannin waged their war was completely leveled, and the earth itself seemed almost shattered. Craters were scattered about, as well as a few fires, columns of earth jutting out from the ground. Haku swallowed nervously at the thought that such destruction was caused by only three shinobi, even if they were Sannin.
"I think we won," Izumi stated. A huge wave of relief washed over the ice user after hearing those words. He was unable to discern who had won the battle between the Sannin from the distance he was at, though he trusted the elder woman's word. "We should regroup and try to find a place to dump that one off with."
"Right," Haku muttered before glancing back at the unconscious girl on his shoulder. Izumi wiggled her fingers a bit, and the Hermit snapped his limbs and body into a simple case that the puppeteer threw on her back. Haku followed Izumi as they both headed towards one of the emergency exits where there would likely be more survivors.
Orochimaru growled under his breath as he continued through the woods, intending to put as much distance between him and the Akatsuki as possible. With his numbers virtually zero, and no DNA samples worthy of using for the Edo Tensei, his mind began working for a new plan. His first thought was blackmailing Sasori with the threat to reveal their plannings to the Alliance, if the Kazekage hadn't already done so.
The Sannin turned his eyes towards movement to his left. Out in the open, he saw one of the Akatsuki leaders following him from the treetops, not even trying to conceal himself. The Sannin scowled and shot straight for the rogue in a rage. As Orochimaru's fist nearly made contact, the figure burst in a flock of crows that flapped around Orochimaru, seemingly keeping him suspended in the air. The Sannin's rage grew at how deep his rash decision had already landed him, recognizing the genjutsu style immediately. The crows began flying together to form a single figure in front of Orochimaru, causing the scarred serpent to scowl.
"Normally, I would say it's a pleasure to meet a Sannin. After this though..."
"You didn't think I'd actually play servant to someone else, did you?"
"You did so for Danzo for years," Itachi stated. Orochimaru scowled. He tried to fight the genjutsu, to cast the simple seal he needed to break it, but Itachi's illusions were overwhelming enough to keep Orochimaru from moving. "You could have easily made your way through the ranks of Akatsuki, and made a difference. After this though...your going to give us the information we need to know, willing or otherwise."
Orochimaru gave a calm, cool chuckle as he smiled at the young Uchiha, "Do you really think that I'll trade the information over for my life? I'm not spineless, Itachi."
"I never said you were..."
Reality literally came crashing down around Orochimaru as his field of vision was replaced with a single, burning red eye with an unusual, four pointed shuriken-like design. The scarred Sannin's face went blank, and his eyes widened as a crow perched on Itachi's arm beamed the single Mangekyo Sharingan directly into the former's eyesight.
Orochimaru's face suddenly grew more serious as he looked back at Itachi, "I have a hideout that could possibly accommodate the Akatsuki's remaining forces. It's on an island off the shore of the Land of Fire in the southeast sea."
"That's a start," Itachi said as the crow moved up to his shoulder.
"It has some of the information I've gathered on the Alliance, but the hideout itself has been abandoned mostly. I can find a way to deliver more information to you, and the experiments Danzo has been working on."
"Everything you know would be useful. As well as gathering more information on the Alliance. And what about Madara Uchiha, do you know anything about his latest activity?"
"My partner in this endeavor, Kazuma, I believe he may have ties to Madara. Other than that, his activities over the years have even been kept secret from me. Though we managed to determine that he is working with the Land of Water after the Chunin Exams."
Itachi's eyes widened at this. He also heard rustling off to the side and turned his head, seeing an infuriated Sakura and a confused Naruto coming out of the bushes, "What the hell is this?! When are you and Orochimaru buddy-buddy?!"
"Sakura, calm down," Naruto murmured, gently placing a hand on the pinkette's shoulder.
"No! What's going on here?! Is this some twisted secret nobody told me about when I joined?"
"Sakura, I don't know what's going on either!"
"It's a long story," Itachi said with a sign. The crow turned its head, showing the unusual Sharingan to Naruto and Sakura. "The best I can offer right now is that this is an evolved form of the regular Sharingan," Itachi explained as he pointed to the eye in the crow's head. "It belonged to a friend, and it carries a powerful genjutsu that can alter someone's mind directly. Right now, Orochimaru is more or less...my subordinate."
"You've got to be kidding," both teens said in unison.
"It's true," Orochimaru stated.
"Like I said, it's a long story and I will explain everything. Later, but not now." Itachi turned his attention back to Orochimaru, who did the same for the Uchiha. "You said Madara is working for the Land of Water?"
The Sannin shook his head, "I should have said it earlier, but Danzo believed that the Mizukage was being controlled by Madara. It wasn't until the commotion Akatsuki caused that Madara revealed himself in person."
"Wait, when did this-,"
Naruto was cut off as Orochimaru continued, "Also, during the incident in the Land of Demons, my subordinate in the Alliance, Kin, encountered Madara leading the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist. She also performed an experiment on my behalf, attempting to clone a living person similar to the Edo Tensei, an easily controllable being with the same abilities as its original. The only semi-successful case was Naruto Uzumaki's clone. According to Kin, its power grew after absorbing Moryo's spirit, and Madara has taken to calling it, 'Menma.' That's why, Kazuma's son being infused with the remnants of the Kyuubi's chakra after the attack on Konoha, I believed Madara would have an eye on Kazuma himself."
"Why," Itachi questioned.
"Moryo was a being composed of Dark Chakra, while having a piece of the Kyuubi's chakra. According to Kin, it transformed, having Moryo's demonic structure, while being fueled primarily by the Kyuubi's chakra itself. With Sora having more of the fox's chakra, Menma's power would potentially grow."
"Go inform Jiraiya and the others," Itachi ordered with urgency in his tone.
"What are you going to do about him," Sakura demanded to know with a snarl. Orochimaru shifted his eyes to the young, fiery girl before Itachi turned back to her as well.
"He's going to gather information about the Alliance and Union for Akatsuki."
"You're letting him live?!" Naruto stayed silent during the matter. He understood Sakura's anger, and in his own mind believed that Orochimaru shouldn't be allowed to live based on a genjutsu. On the other hand, if Itachi managed to control Orochimaru completely, then it would be yet another asset the Akatsuki would have, and a rather powerful one at that.
"Go," Itachi said, turning slightly towards Orochimaru. The scarred serpent nodded and then jumped on ahead. Sakura growled and clenched her fists, trembling with rage. She wanted nothing more than to chase after him, but it was clear where Itachi stood on the matter. "If you question my judgment, or believe that this is some kind of treachery against the Akatsuki, then by all means..." Itachi pulled out a length of chain from his pouch, "I was going to use this to originally bring Orochimaru in...until I found out Madara could be working with the Land of Water. It prevents any form of chakra molding." The Uchiha tossed the chain at Sakura's feet and then held his hands out to her. "Take me in if you think I'm guilty."
"I don't think anyone thinks you're guilty Itachi," Naruto calmly said, "It's just you're placing a lot of-," The Jinchuriki was cut off when Sakura picked up the chain from the ground and approached Itachi. Naruto quickly stopped Sakura and forcefully took the chain from her.
"What're you doing?!"
"Your new, and formerly of the Alliance," Naruto pointed out. "You think chaining up our newest Chief is going to look good? Besides, there's no way Itachi would have hid this from us."
"Honestly? I only planned on telling the other leaders of the organization," Itachi stated. "The genjutsu I placed on Orochimaru is the most powerful in history. The Kotoamatsukami. It's a genjutsu that belonged to my old friend, Shisui Uchiha. It allowed for him to use his Mangekyo Sharingan to enter a person's mind and alters their reality with false memories and experiences, making them believe their actions are of their own free will. The mentality I implanted into Orochimaru was that he became a spy for Akatsuki after outwardly betraying Danzo in Hell's Palace."
"So...he actually thinks he's working for Akatsuki," Naruto asked.
"Most of his followers were killed when Danzo's Root organization found their hideouts after Sasori ratted him out, and as such, Orochimaru had nowhere else to go. Seeking assistance, he managed to find Akatsuki with less than a handful of his own followers, and asked for sanctuary. Given the history, Jiraiya and Tsunade allowed this, though Orochimaru would gather intelligence for the Akatsuki, and acted separately from the organization, knowing nothing about its whereabouts or numbers."
Naruto swallowed the lump building in his throat as Itachi explained the new Orochimaru to them. It was mind boggling for the young Jinchuriki to think that someone like Orochimaru could be rewritten with a simple genjutsu. Sakura on the other hand had her arms crossed firmly over her chest and a scowl imprinted on her face.
"The Kotoamatsukami can only be used once a decade, when not implanted directly into Shisui, and thus it's my ultimate, more secret weapon. I kept it hidden for the hope that...perhaps if I got close enough to Danzo, and I could prevent him from using Shisui's other eye-,"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, Danzo has that same jutsu," Naruto shouted. Itachi nodded with a somber look on his face. "Jeez...but...he can only use it every decade or so, right?"
"The reports I've read in Konohagakure from our spies, there are several instances where it seems that Danzo can control the masses in a fashion similar to the Kotoamatsukami, but on a larger scale. Theoretically, it's possible with the right equipment and people to turn any genjutsu into something large scale. It's also possible Danzo found some way to shorten the time that it takes to use the Kotoamatsukami, likely with Hashirama Senju's cells. All of these abilities of Danzo's are merely speculation to be honest, but the evidence is there until proven otherwise."
"So...if Danzo managed to use that jutsu on you...you could break it right? I mean, you're the best genjutsu user there is." Itachi shifted his onyx eyes to his crow and then back at Naruto.
"The Kotoamatsukami is absolute. It's possible for one command from the eye to override an earlier command, but I don't think Shisui has ever done that before." Itachi turned towards the pinkette who was nearly steaming with anger. "I think there's been enough talking for now. If you wish, I'll follow you to the other Akatsuki leaders and face their judgment."
Naruto turned to Sakura, who unfolded her arms and nodded. The Jinchuriki reluctantly did the same, giving Itachi a regretful look. Itachi simply nodded back to Naruto, silently assuring him that there were no hard feelings. Sakura was the first to start heading back, with Itachi following behind her, and then Naruto in suite.
Kidomaru had his upper set of arms crossed while his mid-level pair rested on his hips, following Fuka into a dark cave. The multi-limbed shinobi started to have a feeling of dread that he might have made a mistake by following the witch in front of him.
The came to a clearing in the cave, which was dimly lit, just as a pained cry was heard. Kidomaru looked ahead, seeing the kid Kazuma called his secret weapon fall to the floor in a shivering heap. Standing above him was another boy with a fur collar, dressed in a long black robe, black hair, and a fox mask. Surrounding the masked boy was the chakra of a Bijuu. Kidomaru took a hesitant step back at the unnerving, confusing display.
Menma allowed the Kyuubi's chakra to soak into his body, and into his ever growing pseudo-Bijuu inside. After doing so, he held his palm out, opened at Sora's quivering form. A blast of concentrated Dark Chakra consumed and eradicated the boy from existence.
Kidomaru trembled and let out a frightened gasp, drawing the masked boy's attention to him. "Is this the only one of them that survived?"
"And this one," a voice called out from the shadows. A bruised and bloodied heap of Jirobo was tossed into the light, followed by a severely bruised Fudo, though he seemed to be unfazed by the marks. "He's an idiot though, wouldn't listen to me as I tried to explain to him that a Yamanaka controlled me."
"Manpower is manpower," Menma stated as he gazed at Jirobo's unmoving form. He turned his attention back to an increasingly uneasy Kidomaru. "We're not going to kill you, so calm down." Menma sat back on a rock and leaned forward with his arms resting on his knees, "You probably have a lot of questions. You can call me Menma. I serve Madara Uchiha."
"Is he..." Kidomaru looked around the shadows nervously.
"Here? No. He's got more important matters to deal with instead of holding my hand while I reacquire my power." The spider ninja turned his eyes to Menma and furrowed his brow, but chose to remain silent. "You came here, so that must mean you realize Orochimaru is a lost cause, just as Fuka and Fudo realized that Kazuma was a lost cause." The question of where Kazuma was entered Kidomaru's mind, but considering what he just witnessed with Sora, it wouldn't be hard to assume what happened. "You're smart, and you have untapped power at your disposal that Orochimaru wouldn't have bothered with in someone like you. Joining Madara, you'll be able to tap into that power of yours."
"You're trying too hard to sell me," Kidomaru stated, holding up a false bravado. "You offered to let me live, and a new purpose. I'm in."
"Good. I'm sure Jirobo won't take that much persuasion to convince either."
"I might though," a voice rang out. Everyone turned their attention behind Kidomaru, who hastily got out of the way. Footsteps could be heard approaching from the darkness before the figure himself stepped out. His silver hair a bit disheveled, glasses crooked with the left lens cracked, Kabuto held a firm stare on Menma.
"Orochimaru's most loyal dog...you might indeed take some convincing," Menma said. He lifted up his arm and rested the side of his head against his hand in a relaxed gesture. "So, what made you consider this?"
Kabuto noted the boy's attempts of manipulation, drawing on the fact that he came here of his own free will immediately. "I...witnessed a change in my former mentor. He believes he's working with Akatsuki. Whether that's true or not, I don't know."
"And Orochimaru suspects that Madara is apart of the Land of Water already I'm guessing," Menma questioned. "So in other words, you felt the need to spy on us directly, is that it?"
"Not at all," Kabuto replied. "Whatever changed Orochimaru, I want to change him back. I wish to accomplish what he set out to do." Menma hummed curiously and stared at the silver haired medic without moving a muscle.
"I'll leave your fate up to Madara...if you think you're going to be of any worth." Kabuto simply nodded. Menma then stood up and straightened out his robe with a few pats across his cloak. "Well then, I suppose I should introduce you all to your new master then..." Menma lifted his arm high into the air with his fingers extended upward. A blinding flash of light came from above, causing everyone in the cavern to turn their heads before a flash consumed them all.