Disclaimer: While I don't own the rights to Naruto in the slightest, I did own tickets to see the Demon Slayer movie in theaters! Which fully-vaccinated guy safely watched the highest-grossing movie from Japan, contributing it to becoming the highest-grossing movie from 2020?


With the conversation finally ended, Han got into position to charge forward, channeling chakra throughout his body: "Boil Style: Steam Cataclysm!"

In an instant, Han rocketed forward towards Pain's Animal Path body. His body crashed into the Animal Path, blasting it with extremely-hot steam that burnt the body entirely. Within seconds, the body was blasted away into the bleachers of the stadium, completely unmoving and its skin entirely unrecognizable.

"Wh-Whoa!" Fū gasped slightly, her eyes focused on the Gobi jinchūriki.

'That jutsu he did is really affecting the battlefield…' Kisame noted with a scowl, his eyes focusing on the visible steam: 'I won't be able to flood the battlefield like this. Guess focusing on him will be a waste of time.'

"First one down." Han noted as he immediately turned his attention towards the nearest Pain – the Deva Path: "Let's go for a round two!"

The 'Deva Path Pain', seemingly unphased by Han's complete destruction of the Animal Path, simply held out a hand forward. Han's body, again, was coated in steam as he charged forward at him.

"Shinra Tensei!"

Before Han could attack Pain, a shockwave directly in front of him, hitting him with such an extensive force that it not only stopped his charge, but sent him flying backwards. He hissed in pain as he flew through the air backwards.

"Han-nii!" Naruto called out.

Konan and the Asura Path Pain rushed forward, the Asura Path running next to the Gobi jinchūriki while Konan flew above him. The puppet-pain's head proceeded to open up, revealing a canon while Konan started to flap her wings directly in Han's direction.

"Back off!" Fū shouted as she flew forward at Konan.

Konan managed to fly upwards, narrowly avoiding Fū's tackle, as she changed direction and flapped her wings directly at her, releasing a barrage of paper needles directly at her. Fū's chakra armor took the attack head-on, but the paper still managed to hit at her skin, causing her to hiss in pain.

Before the Asura Path's canon could be launched, Rōshi jumped forward, swinging his staff at him. The attack connected, knocking the Asura Path's head slightly, causing the canon to launch the explosive blast outward into the stands, blowing up a whole bleacher section of the exams.

"Looks like that would have destroyed one of us." Rōshi noted before his eyes narrowed on the Asura Path: "I thought your objective was to capture us. Did that change?"

"I'm confident any of you would have survived." Pain answered.

"That, you are right about. We'll survive anything you throw at us." Yugito hissed in reply as she took in a deep breath: "Flaming Cat Roar!"

"Lava Style: Dragon's Breath!"

Yugito breathed out a massive blue-colored fireball at the same time as Rōshi breathed out a stream of lava from his mouth directly at the Asura Path. As the two techniques closed in, the Preta Path jumped forward and held out its hands. A white, translucent barrier formed around it and the Asura's Path bodies. Both the fireball and lava stream connected with it briefly before they were absorbed into the barrier itself.

"That…" Yugito bit down on her lip, her eyes narrowing: 'That doesn't appear like it's simply protecting them. I think whatever jutsu they're using is absorbing chakra.'

"You really have no idea the extent of what we are capable of." Pain spoke, the Deva Path shaking his head: "It's about time you learned to truly fear God."

The Asura Path's arms opened up before launching a barrage of missiles from the opening. The other nine jinchūriki were forced to jump back as the missiles proceeded to follow them, homing in on their bodies.

"Ten-Finger Drilling Bullets!"

"Paper Drizzle!"

"Water Style: Rain Four Shark!"

Kabuto swung his hands forward, launching barrage-after-barrage of bone bullets while Konan flapped her wings, sending another wave of paper spikes at the group, and Kisame spat out a deluge of water that changed shape into sharks that flew through the air. Within seconds, the jinchūriki were all surrounded by multiple projectiles, unable to dodge.

"Ultimately Hard Defense: Shield of Shukaku!"

Sand rushed from Gaara's cloak, taking the likeness of Shukaku as it surrounded all nine jinchūriki and formed a protective barrier. The moment it formed, however, the Shukaku barrier started to shake rapidly and sand started to fall apart as it was bombarded by continuous attacks over-and-over.

"They're fighting incredibly aggressive." Gaara said sharply. "They don't want us to be on the offensive at all."

"Most likely because Han killed one of them the second we started fighting." Rōshi noted. "They don't want to give us even the littlest bit of leg room."

Killer Bee nodded his head. "The moment will come when we can strike, so for now, we need to stand strong and survive this fight."

"Right." Rōshi crouched down on the ground and started to channel chakra into the earth.

Before anyone else could make preparations, a spiraling vortex started to appear on the front of half of the Shukaku-shield. Within seconds, the sand was sucked into the Kamui vortex, creating an opening.

"Banshō Ten'in!"

'H-Huh?' Naruto's eyes widened for a moment.

Naruto felt his body stiffen for a moment before he became entirely weightless. His body then was pulled out of the opening in the Shukaku shield, flying directly towards Pain's Deva Path and the other Akatsuki members.

"Naruto!" Yagura called out as he extended his right hand: "Water Style: Coral of Isobu!"

Gaara, too, took a step forward as he extended his right hand.

In an instant, a long piece of blue coral rose from the ground and grabbed onto Naruto's right leg. A stream of sand rushed from Gaara's chakra cloak, grabbing onto his leg, and preventing him from flying over to the Akatsuki.

'Thanks, guys.' Naruto sighed in relief before focusing on the Akatsuki. His eyes blinked at the sight. 'One of them is missing… one of those 'Pain guys' isn't here anymore… worry about that later.' He shook his head as a scowl developed on his face: "Nice try, but let's see what you all think about this! Nine-Tails Beam!"

Nine tails of chakra formed around Naruto's body as he proceeded to release reddish-orange chakra beams directly from each tail, all aiming at the eight adversaries. Kabuto and Kisame proceeded to move away, starting to run as the beam followed them. Tobi remained still, the beam phasing through his body. The remaining Paths of Pain positioned behind the Preta Path, who created another translucent barrier that absorbed the chakra of the beams.

The final beam, however, connected on Konan. The blue-haired woman hissed in pain as her body was frozen in place in the sky, unable to move.

'I was wanting to hit more than just one of them, but I'll take it.' Naruto's eyes focused on Konan's form for a moment as he opened his mouth and began channeling chakra into his palms: 'Let's kill another-'

"Dance of the Clematis: Flower!"

Naruto turned his head back in time to see that Kabuto had closed the distance between the two of them, his arm now converted into a large bone drill. Naruto, instead of trying to block the attack, brought his hands forward, forming a large, spiraling red orb of fire.

"Scorch Style: Incinerating Flare Technique!"

Kabuto's eyes widened as Naruto blocked the drill with the flare orb, creating a massive explosion that send both flying backwards, simultaneously ending the nine-tail beams and freeing Konan. Both Naruto and Kabuto were burned by the attack, but both appeared unphased the attack. Kabuto's eyes narrowed on Naruto for a moment as he adjusted his glasses.

"How did you use that jutsu?" He demanded.

"I learned it. Guess I was naturally able to do it?" Naruto shrugged his shoulders as a grin developed on his face: "I know I didn't steal it, at the very least."

"You… developed Scorch Release naturally?" Kabuto asked, shaking his head.

"Worried that I know how to do something you worked so hard to 'add' to your jutsu repertoire?" Naruto asked, his grin widening: "No need to worry; I'm already much better with it than you are!"

"Don't mock my research, Naruto." Kabuto hissed in response as he began to channel chakra into his hands: "I'll-"

His words died on his lips as the other jinchūriki rushed out towards the Akatsuki. Killer Bee led the charge, rushing directly at the Preta Path Pain. Electricity surrounded his body and the horns on his head seemed to elongate.

"Lightning Style: Lariat!"

The Preta Path Pain created a barrier, blocking Bee's initial push forward at it. Bee's electricity and traces of his bijū chakra were absorbed by the barrier, but the Hachibi jinchūriki was able to keep pushing forward and slammed his arm into its neck, the horns on his head piercing its body completely.

"Heh, well what do you know? It blocks ninjutsu, but taijutsu is too much, though."

"Shinra Tensei!"

Before Bee could strike any further, a strong gravitational force collided with his body, pulling him away from the Preta Path. The man's hand went to his injuries for a moment before it jumped back to the rear for a moment.

'While that one's weakened for a moment, I ought to try something.' Utakata noted as he took in a deep breath and crept his body to the ground.

The other jinchūriki, noticing Utakata's movements, proceeded to move out of the way. Both Naruto and Fū flew into the air while Gaara elevated himself, along with Yugito, Yagura, Rōshi, Han, and Bee into the air on pedestals of sand. Once they were airborne, Utakata began channeling chakra.

"Alkali Bath!"

The ground of the stadium floor immediately changed coloration, turning into a dark, deep purple. Immediately, a painful, burning sensation rushed through all of the standing Akatsuki members.

'What?' Kabuto's eyes widened as he stared at his feet: 'This liquid is melting off the exoskeleton of the Shikotsumyaku… what the hell is this jutsu?'

Kisame growled out in pain as he jumped into the air, trying to relieve the pain. Tobi hissed for a moment before his feet began intangible, relieving the pain. The Deva Path jumped into the air, reaching Konan, who proceeded to grab onto the body and carried him away safely. The remaining Paths started to grow hotter-and-hotter as their sandals started to melt away. The Asura Path was affected the most, as its feet quickly melted off.

'Good work, Utakata. But let's see if I can spread the affect of this.' Han clapped his hands together before he raised his hands in an upward gesture: "Boil Style: Geyser Impact!"

The ground underneath opened up, creating three geysers that launched boiling water into the sky, and by proxy, spraying the alkalic liquid into the sky. Konan and the Deva Path flew through the air, narrowly avoiding both the hot water and the alkali, while the liquid connected with Kisame's skin, creating burns that started to change his skin's color.

"AGH!" He growled in pain.

'Perfect.' Utakata grinned in response: 'Let's see if I can kill Kisame while I have the chance-'

Before he could react, the sky above his head opened up in a spiraling vortex. Within a few seconds, the large chunks of sand from the Shield of Shukaku that Tobi had absorbed fell back to the earth, colliding with Utakata's body. Immediately, the ground turned back to normal.

"Utakata!" Yugito called out.

'Dammit.' Gaara bit down on his lip as he made a pulling gesture, immediately calling back the sand.

The sand returned back to his side, joining with his cloak once more, but Utakata looked heavily bruised and staggered.

"Gaara, your sand is most strong, and right now, that's not a compliment." Utakata grumbled to himself, taking in a deep breath.

Gaara frowned in response: "My apologies."

'That's right. We have to be careful of anything that masked bastard sucks into his alternate dimension.' Naruto grit his teeth as he turned to face Tobi: 'At least, until our secret weapon manages to-'

"Shinra Tensei!"

A massive gravitational force was forced onto all eight flying jinchūriki. Gaara's sand pedestals all dissipated as all jinchūriki on top of them, alongside Naruto and Fū, were sent crashing into the ground, each creating eight craters.

'God, what a ruthless jutsu.' Rōshi hissed as he pulled himself off the ground. 'Gravity manipulation… never even knew such bullshit was possible. The Rinnegan is really a pain in the ass in the fight.'

"Are you starting to understand how fruitless this effort is?" The Deva Path Pain asked, his arms crossed as both he and Konan descended to the ground. "No matter how strong you all are, or how cohesive of a group you are, nothing can be done against the will of God."

"I'm already sick of hearing this 'god' crap." Naruto spat-out, shaking his head: "I can't believe you used to be a student of Jiraiya; you really learned nothing from him!"

"He has spoken with you about me?" Pain asked.

"I know about both you and her." Naruto replied, turning to face Konan. The woman's eyes narrowed on him: "You all are turning your back on him and everything he did for you back in Ame. It makes me sick!"

"Does it now?" Pain asked, a soft chuckle escaping his lips: "Then if I may ask you, where was Jiraiya-sensei when Konoha sent agents to assist Hanzō in his attempts at destroying our organization? Where was he when Yahiko died?"

Naruto's eyes briefly widened in response. Pain stared at him for a moment, expecting him to respond, before simply shaking his head.

"No answer. I assume you do not know as much as you just implied you did." He noted. "It would be best to not speak of things you are unfamiliar with."

Naruto bit down on his lip: "I don't know all the specifics of everything that happened, but that doesn't mean-"

"You can say that he did 'so much' for us, but in the end, his time with us changed nothing." Konan spoke sharply. "If it did, then Yahiko would still be alive with us. No, we couldn't rely on Jiraiya nor his philosophy. In order to obtain the goal we were aiming for, we needed to change our tactics."


"Summoning Jutsu!"

Attention shifted away as the giant drill-beaked bird, the same one that Yugito had cut into half, flew forward at the jinchūriki, flying directly at Naruto. Before it could drill into his body, however, Fū jumped in the way, grabbing onto its beak with her hands, capturing it.

"The hell?" Yugito's eyes widened: "I cut that to pieces! Why is it back?"

Gaara shook his head: "Even if it somehow survived, it shouldn't have been able to have been brought back, since-"

Before he could reply, the Animal Path Pain jumped back into the battlefield, standing alongside the remaining Akatsuki agents in the battlefield. All jinchūriki stared at it in horror.

"I killed that one. I know I did." Han mumbled, his hands tightening into fists: "And it looks entirely unharmed. If it was still alive, it should be burnt to a crisp."

"What a way to fill us with dread. Did that thing come back from the dead?" Bee asked.

'It must have.' Yagura's eyes narrowed on the Animal Path for a moment: 'That must be an ability of some sort of his.' He then turned his attention on the Deva Path, scowling: 'Gravity manipulation, ninjutsu absorption, these accursed summons, mechanical weapons, revival capabilities… what's even the limit of the Rinnegan's capabilities?'

Pain noticed the gaze of the Yondaime Mizukage. He chuckled in response: "It appears one of you is starting to comprehend the futility of your situation. And by the end of this, you all will understand." His eyes twitched slightly as he clapped his hands together: "By the end, you all will truly understand pain!"

'This woman… she's really starting to piss me off!' Oyashiro grit his teeth as he jumped backwards, avoiding a strike from Misora's scythe.

Oyashiro did not want to risk any chance that either the Terumi or the Hyūga would get away, so he wanted to simply get rid of his opponent as quick as possible, and the fastest way of his disposal would be to simply make eye contact with her and allow the Ketsuryūgan's brainwashing genjutsu do its trick, and simply command the girl to end her own life.

This ended up being an impossible task, however, as the moment the battle officially started, Misora closed her eyes and proceeded to fight him without the use of her eyes, keeping up with him as if they were not even needed.

"I certainly hope there's more to you than what you're displaying right now, Oyashiro. If I were to be honest, I'm disappointed." Misora noted, chuckling slightly: "I had assumed that a man who organized an empire in the criminal underbelly of the Elemental Nations would be able to fight better. Or perhaps you are better at delegating work?"

"Cheeky bitch." Oyashiro's teeth grinding grew harder-and-harder: "It's not like I see you landing a hit on me yet. All your doing is literally wasting my time, which is the worst thing in the world one could waste!"

"I suppose I shouldn't waste any more of your precious time, after all. You do have an appointment with the devils of hell, do you not?" Misora asked as she brought her right hand upwards: "Ninja Art: Hidden Mist Jutsu!"

Within seconds, the battlefield became encased in a thick mist that quickly spread over the hallway. As Oyashiro's body was surrounded in the mist, he felt the mist starting to tighten around his neck, almost like a noose.

"Urk…" He briefly froze, his hands going to his neck, the blood rings around his body falling to the ground, forming a large pool of blood around his body.

Misora quickly reappeared right behind him, gripping her scythe tightly. She then swung her scythe, aiming directly for his neck. 'Good riddance-'

"Blood Barrage!"

A shiver went down Misora's spine as the blood pool rose up, forming bullets that flew directly at her body. The Kawada tried to jump away in time, but three of the bullets hit her body, piercing her right shoulder and right arm and creating holes. She screamed as blood started to drip from her wounds: both hers and his.

In an instant, Oyashiro's hands moved away from his neck as a grin developed on his face.

"Oh, did you think I was immobilized because you were strangling me with that stupid mist jutsu or something?" He chuckled as he brought his right hand to his chest, over where his lungs were: "Someone who dies from strangulation dies because blood flow is cut off from the brain. Against a normal person, sure, it would be immobilizing, and maybe even fatal outright, but against me – someone with a dōjutsu that gives me complete control of my own blood flow and my blood production?" His chuckling grew louder and his grin widened as he held out his left hand: "I'll say I'm impressed you were in a position to even attempt to strangle me, but let me save your breath kid; I'm the last person you could hope to kill via strangulation!"

It was Misora's turn to grit her teeth: "A careless observation on my part-" Her words cut off as a strong stinging pain developed in her arm. She immediately tensed as she started to channel her chakra into her arm: "Water Style!"

More-and-more blood started to pour from Misora's open wounds. She tensed, forcing herself to drop her scythe to the ground, but she continued to channel her water elemental chakra into her arm. A few seconds passed by before the blood stopped pouring from her wounds. Oyashiro's eyes narrowed on the Kiri shinobi for a moment as a sigh escaped his lips.

"God, first you're not making any eye contact with me whatsoever, and now you apparently are skilled enough with Water Release that you are able to keep me from draining your blood?" He grumbled.

"Blood is mostly compromised of water… and the blood in my body is still able to be influenced by my chakra…" She replied, breathing heavily. "At the very least… I'll be able to keep myself from being drained."

'Great. Just great. This girl really is going to be a time-killer-' Oyashiro's fists tightened and his eyes narrowed as he turned his head in the opposite direction: 'Now that's a rather strong chakra presence approaching!' He clapped his hands together, running through hand signs, the pink line at the center of his Ketsuryūgan eyes widening slightly: "Blood Mirage!"

Oyashiro's body proceeded to glow a bright red coloration before hundreds of images of Oyashiro appeared in the room, all appearing identical. Just as quickly as they had formed, a deluge of molten lava rained down from the ceiling, falling onto the blood mirages. The real Oyashiro was able to slip away, while the majority of his 'mirages' fell apart, reduced to blood puddles that now covered the battlefield.

"Misora, thank you for confronting this man and holding him back." Mei declared as both she and Aō rushed into the room.

"Great. Now the fucking Mizukage is here. Can this day get any more difficult?" Oyashiro sighed. He reached into his pocket, pulling out a pocket watch. He shook his head, pocketing it as a scowl developed on his face: "I'm wasting too much time now, dammit. By this point, I'm sure those brats are now dead in the crossfires of some Akatsuki jackass."

"I trust any of the genin are fine, especially Kinosaki-kun." Mei spoke sharply, taking a few steps forward as she cracked her knuckles: "And he will remain fine. He is not coming with you, En Oyashiro."

"No, he is." Oyashiro growled out, his eyes twitching heavily as the pink lines in his eyes started to vibrate, traveling up-and-down from the top to the bottom of his eye: "I'm getting my reward for this. I already lost a Boil-Release asset for this mission; I'm not losing my chance to reclaim another!"

"… Ah yes. I heard about that. A Boil-Release user under your care was killed here." Mei glared, making sure to keep her eyes focused on his feet: "You had no claim to his life, nor to anyone else's."

"Fortunately, today is the day you're going to die." Aō commented, his hands tightening: "It won't make up for the lives you've already killed, and the many more you have ruined, but it'll at least be a start."

Oyashiro was quiet, trying to keep his composure. His Ketsuryūgan moved from Misora's position, to Aō's, back to Mei's.

'Three against one.' He noted. 'And one is a goddamn Kage. Not good odds. I need to even the odds a bit more. Ideally, I'll be able to hypnotize one of the others to even the score, but in the event that doesn't work out…'

Oyashiro pulled out a kunai and stabbed himself in his chest, close to his heart. The three Kirigakure shinobi tensed-up slightly at the action, but despite the depth of Oyashiro's self-wound, not an extensive amount of blood poured out from his wound. Oyashiro's right hand touched the open wound before he ran through eight hand signs, culminating in the 'Dragon' hand sign.

"Hidden Blood Art: Blood Clone Formation!"

Maintaining the 'Dragon' hand sign, Oyashiro moved his hands to his ride. Immediately, a splotch of blood moved from his wound to his ride. Oyashiro then repeated the gesture to his left, to his front, and to his back, forming more splotches of blood.

"Blood Clone A!"

"Blood Clone B!"

"Blood Clone O!"

"Blood Clone AB!"

The four blood splotches quickly expanded until they formed into near identical copies of En Oyashiro. The four clones jumped to their summoner's side, forming a line of five variations of Oyashiro.

"Clones…" Aō's Byakugan narrowed on the four newly-formed copies of Oyashiro before he shook his head: "Those don't appear to be normal clones."

"I feel that as well. They all have a near identical chakra signature to him." Misora added. She snapped her finger, causing the mist still scattered in the room to grip onto her scythe before it flung it back to her: "I don't quite know if we'll be able to identify which is the real Oyashiro, or if there is any gimmick related to them."

"Easy solution; kill all five." Mei said sharply: "Oyashiro, no matter what tricks you attempt on pulling, nothing will work. For your crimes against Mizu no Kuni, all of the Elemental Nations, and humanity in general, it is my distinct pleasure to sentence you to death!"

"Quite the serious proclamation, Mizukage-san." All five Oyashiro spoke in unison, the voice echoing in the battlefield: "Unfortunately, that's not going to happen. All that's going to come out of this is that Kirigakure is about to lose another Kage, and after both that and the fall of Kumogakure, I'm not sure how long your little village is going to last in this giant power vacuum!"

With those words, Oyashiro and his clones all made identical hand signs.

Deidara flew on top of his dragon above Shikamaru's and Kurotsuchi's position, reaching into his pocket as he pulled out a series of clay orbs. His eyes moved down on the two of them, noticing that they were still staring at Sasori's new puppets, as a scowl developed on his face.

'I can't let you assholes be so focused on Sasori no Danna's art. I'm here too, dammit, and my art needs to be appreciated!' He internally growled as he tossed the clay orbs downward on top of them. 'Let's see how you feel about this! C1!'

Both Shikamaru and Kurotsuchi were forced to turn their attention away from Sasori as they noticed the clay orbs approaching them. Shikamaru immediately got into position, gesturing for Kurotsuchi to get close towards him.

"Shadow Protection Jutsu!"

Shadows rushed to Shikamaru's and Kurotsuchi's side, forming a protective barrier around the two. Deidara's bombs detonated against the shadows, creating shockwaves inside of it that nearly toppled Shikamaru and Kurotsuchi from standing.

'God, he's even more ruthless than I remembered.' Kurotsuchi hissed. In an instant, the explosions stopped. A shiver went down to Kurotsuchi's spine as a similar feeling of chakra around her formed. "Shikamaru, cancel your jutsu, now!"

The Nara nodded his head and undid the shadow barrier. As the shadows dissipated, the two were surrounded by a large, three-dimensional cube of chakra.

"Hell no." Kurotsuchi hissed as she clapped her hands together, forming an orb of white-colored chakra and launched it into the surrounding cube. "Dust Style!"

As soon as the orb connected, Sasori's 'Dust Release' technique was shattered, falling to the ground like glass before it dissipated into the air.

'Dust Release is the most effective counter to Dust Release. What a cumbersome enemy to have to face, being one of very few shinobi alive who can actually counter my Tsuchikage puppet.' Sasori grumbled as he gestured his left thumb: "Earth Style: Erupt!"

The Kitsuchi puppet quickly slammed its palms into the ground, and in an instant, the ground underneath opened up, launching the two into the air as a large rock formation formed.

"Appreciate that." Deidara grinned as he clapped his hands together before throwing out more pieces of clay.

In an instant, clay birds started to fly around Shikamaru and Kurotsuchi.

'Shadow Protection was moderately effectful, but maybe puts us at risk of Dust Release, and I need to conserve more chakra for Holy Barrier in case I really need it. Let's try a different tactic in combatting these.' Shikamaru took in a deep breath as he channeled senjutsu chakra into his mouth. He then began to swirl around in a circle: "Sage Art: Slug Acid Bath!"

Shikamaru spat out a deluge of acid that rained down all around them. The acid connected with most of the birds, causing them to melt and drip clay onto the ground. Two of the birds, however, avoided the spray of acid and managed to get in close to the two.

"Thought you could counter that easily, hmm?" Deidara's grin widened in response as he made a hand sign: "Not going to happen, brat. Katsu!"

In an instant, the birds detonated, creating a massive explosion. Seconds passed by before the dust dissipated revealing both Shikamaru and Kurotsuchi unscathed, a golden light surrounded their bodies.

Deidara's eye twitched in response: 'This is getting fucking stupid. I'd almost prefer fighting against Itachi or a goddamn lightning release user to this!'

"Calm yourself, Deidara." Sasori hissed as he gestured with his middle finger: "Scorch Release: Incinerating Flare Technique!"

The Pakura puppet took a step forward before launching a large reddish-pink orb from her hands directly at Kurotsuchi and Shikamaru. The Godaime Tsuchikage's eyes widened for a moment before she clapped her hands together, creating another three-dimensional cube of chakra. She sent the cube around the Scorch Release technique before the jutsu could ignite, causing the massive firestorm to only spread out within the confines of Kurotsuchi's 'Dust Release' prison.

"Good timing-" Kurotsuchi's eyes widened as she saw both the Kimimaro puppet and the Shirakawa puppet charging at her: "Shit!"

As the Sandaime Kazekage puppet approached, mechanical blades formed on its wrists, while the Kimimaro puppet's arms changed shape, forming into two, large bone drills on each. Both tried slicing directly at her, but she managed to dodge just in time. Despite her movement, however, one of the blades on Shirakawa's wrists sliced her arm, creating a deep wound.

'D-Dammit.' She hissed. 'Can almost already feel the poison traveling down my body. Going to have to use Particle Removal to get that out.'

Kurotsuchi closes her eyes as she focused on her body, removing the poison from her bloodstream on a molecular level with her Dust Release, before opening her eyes. She then breathes in as she ran through hand signs: "Lava Style: Ash Stone Sealing Jutsu!"

The Tsuchikage breathed out a massive cloud of ash from her mouth that connected with both the Kimimaro and Kazekage puppet. The cloud quickly solidified into a solid substance that rooted the puppets into place.

'Well that takes care of two-'

The Kimimaro puppet's body quickly began surrounded with sharp bone that punctured into Kurotsuchi's sealing jutsu, dissipating it and freeing both it and the Kazekage puppet.

'Dammit, that was too much to hope for, wasn't it?' She grit her teeth in response.

'Try as hard as you like, but you'll never ensnare my puppets. Not when I have the puppet of that Kaguya clan shinobi.' Sasori's eyes focused on the white-haired puppet; the first of Kabuto's 'gifts' to him, and easily one of his favorites. 'The Shikotsumyaku is such a versatile technique. That one did not even require much extra prep-work to make combat ready; all I needed to do was convert that one to a puppet for it to be ready for use.' His eyes then moved to the Kitsuchi puppet: 'But back to business.'

The Kitsuchi puppet jumped into the air for a moment before landing back on the ground, causing a large wall of earth to open up from the ground in front of Kurotsuchi and Shikamaru, before it fell on top of them. Both shinobi jumped back just in time, landing on the ground that was marked by the melted clay.


Neither Shikamaru nor Kurotsuchi could react in time as the ground underneath their feet erupted, sending both flying away as burn marks formed on their body and debris scratched heavily into their skin. As they flew into the air, Sasori gestured with his right ring finger, causing the Sandaime Kazekage puppet to open its mouth, forming a large block of iron sand. The iron sand then quickly separated into tendrils that flew directly at Shikamaru's body.

"Ninja Art: Holy Barricade!"

Before they could connect, however, Shikamaru's body proceeded to glow a golden color as the iron sand tendrils failed to pierce his skin. The iron sand, however, continued to push back against him, trying to pierce the barrier jutsu.

'That technique of yours… it's powerful, but it's still got a gaping weakness in that you can't keep it up forever.' Sasori grit his teeth as he kept his Shirakawa puppet focused on the iron sand: 'All it takes is continuous pressure and you'll get skewered, brat.'

Shikamaru took in a deep breath as he began to channel his senjutsu chakra into his shadows: "Sage Art: Shadow Thread Jutsu!"

Shikamaru's shadow split apart, forming shadow threads that rose from the ground and sliced forward into the iron sand, cutting it into like a blade and causing it to drip to the ground.

Sasori's eyes widened in response: 'He cut it? The Sandaime Kazekage's iron sand? Just like that?' He grit his teeth: 'What is the extent of Sage Mode?'

With the iron sand now away, Shikamaru canceled his Holy Barricade. He then took another deep breath as he clapped his hands: "Sage Art: Shadow Thread Ignite Jutsu!"

The shadow threads around his body proceeded to ignite, coating themselves in flames. He then sent them flying towards both Sasori and towards Deidara. Deidara flew further into the sky, doing his best to avoid the flying fire needles, while Sasori gestured with his left thumb, causing his Kitsuchi puppet to modify the ground and create a barrier of earth around his body.

"Close." Shikamaru noted, gritting his teeth.

"Shikamaru." Kurotsuchi spoke-up, taking a step forward towards her boyfriend: "We've been letting them stay on the offense too long. Considering how destructive both of their fighting styles are, that's not a good idea. No matter how defensive our options are, we can't let them keep us on defense the whole time."

"I know." Shikamaru nodded his head as he turned his attention back to Deidara, who was still flying through the air to avoid Shikamaru's fire-coated shadow threads: "We'll be fighting better this time."

'Damn these brats.' Deidara grit his teeth as he continued to fly on his dragon, narrowly avoiding the shadow threads: 'Thought this bullshit lasted as long as his shadows could extend. How much shadow does he have?' His eyes then moved towards Shikamaru's body, noting his eyes: 'Probably some Sage Mode bullshit. Bah.'

'Neither of these two have landed a hit on us yet, but I don't like that they have defensive capabilities to counter our attacks. Deidara and I need to take this more seriously.' Sasori noted, taking in a deep breath as he watched the earth barrier around his body start to crack from the pressure of Shikamaru's fire shadows: 'We need to change tactics.' His eyes then moved back to the village around him. In the distance, he could see more-and-more shinobi fighting. A grin developed on his face: 'Or perhaps, we just need to return to the original mission!'

"Keep your guard up, Ē!" Abunai called out.

The Sandaime and Yondaime Raikage locked themselves into a hand-to-hand fight as the two tried to beat down on the other, lightning surrounding both of their bodies. Ē's right fist connected with his father's left arm, blocking it and causing a bolt of lighting to scatter from the clash into the ground, creating a burn mark and a crater as a result. Abunai then attempted to sweep his son off his feet, but Ē jumped away in time, avoiding it, before jumping back into the air.

"Guillotine Drop!"

Abunai side-stepped as Ē's foot crashed into the ground, creating another collision that scattered lightning around the two. The Yondaime Raikage then blocked as his father tried to punch at him with his right hand, then punched at him again wish his left.

"Yondaime-sama and Sandaime-sama are moving so fast, I can't even see them!" One Kumo shinobi bystander noted: "Is this really what a battle between two Kage shinobi is like?"

"Wh-What can we do?" An Iwa shinobi asked, staring intently at the two.

"Nothing." A second Kumo shinobi replied, shaking his head: "They're both above our level. If we try and fight, we'll only get in the way of Yondaime-sama."

While the other surrounding shinobi watched, trying to figure out how to approach the situation, Masakado kept his eyes focused intently on both Raikage, waiting for an opening.

As the father-and-son continued to fight, Ē landed a hook on his father that knocked him back slightly more than usual. Masakado immediately gripped his pen tightly and drew on his bronze shield.

"Uzumaki Fūinjutsu: Unstoppable Offense!"

Four golden spears formed once more around Masakado's body before they flew directly at Abunai's body. The Sandaime Raikage blocked another punch from his son and was unable to block the oncoming spears, skewering his body. This time, however, the spears floated into the air, bringing Abunai into the air.

Masakado reached into his pocket and pulled out a kunai with a sealing tag attached to it: "Uzumaki Fūinjutsu: Binding Winds!"

The sealing tag lit-up as soon as the kunai connected with Abunai's body, causing a ring of wind to form directly around Abunai's body. The wind seemingly blew throughout Abunai's body, dissipating the lightning around him as he struggled to move.

"Raikage, be ready in case he breaks free from that." Masakado called out as he took a step forward, pulling out a scroll: "While he's still restrained, I'm going to begin the sealing process."

"Impressive as always I see, Masakado." Abunai noted with a bitter chuckle: "Uzumaki Sealing Arts are truly revolutionary to face-off."

"I'm well aware of that." Masakado hissed as he took a step forward: "So revolutionary that you had to try and kill us off!"

"It is a fact, you know." The Sandaime Raikage replied, shaking his head: "Your clan was the first to experiment with sealing elemental chakra into sealing tags, creating easier to use ninjutsu. And your clan was so secretive about exactly how one was able to create those types of seals, on top of other secrets."

"And those 'secrets' were so threatening you had to order our village routed?" Masakado snarled.

Abunai's eyes narrowed, meeting Masakado's glare: "I regret morally launching the invasion on Kumo, but I would order it again if I ever had to. Uzushio was an enemy of Kumo, and as the leader of Kumo at the time, it was my duty to remove all enemies no matter what. If I could have, Konoha would have been burnt alongside your village."

Before Masakado could reply to his statement, Abunai's body became encased with lightning once more. The lightning quickly shifted color, turning black.

"Masakado-san, seal me away faster next time!" Abunai cursed as he felt his hands overpower the wind ring around his body. He then clapped his hands together: "Lightning Style: Black Lightning Vortex!"

Immediately, the Sandaime Raikage's body became encased in a spiraling storm of black lightning that rotated like a tornado, scattering bolts of black lightning all around, hitting a few of the bystander shinobi, killing them instantly.

Both Masakado and Ē immediately tensed-up as they felt their bodies start to move towards the storm.

"Wh-What bullshit is?" Masakado hissed as he did his best to remain still.

"Black Lightning." Ē answered, gritting his teeth: "Father invented this technique himself and only passed it down to Darui, but his version doesn't hold a candle to my old man's." More lightning surrounded the Yondaime Raikage's body as he strengthened his Lightning Style Armor. "I hope you have some type of defensive seal, because if you don't, a few stray bolts of Black Lightning should be enough to kill you."

"It'll take more than this to finally kill me." Masakado hissed in response as he drew a seal onto his bronze shield. Instantly, the same ink seal appeared on his skin: "Fūinjutsu: Thick Skin!"

A few more seconds passed by before both Masakado and Ē were pulled off into the ground and sucked into the spiraling black-lightning tornado. Upon entering, the two were assaulted by bolt-after-bolt of lightning.

'Hmm…' Abunai's eyes narrowed from the top of the vortex. He watched Ē grit his teeth in response as the lightning continued to strike at him: 'Ē's physical condition and the Lightning Release Armor does make him a prime candidate to survive this jutsu, but the Uzukage…' Abunai then turned his attention back to Masakado, who was also gritting his teeth from pain. Burn marks were developing on his skin, but that was the only damage that was seemingly appearing: 'His fūinjutsu really is hardening his body to the point he can even withstand this. How… intriguing.'

As the Edo Tensei's cognition realized that the vortex was ineffective, the jutsu was canceled. As both Masakado and Ē began to freefall, Abunai flung himself from the air directly at Masakado. The elder Uzumaki attempted to block, but the Raikage struck too fast, punching him directly in the face and sending him face-first into the ground, creating a crater.

"D-Dammit…" Masakado grit his teeth as blood started to drip from his face, his nose broken. 'I figured he would be strong enough to bypass Thick Skin, but that was like getting hit by a fucking train. Gods…'

"Lightning Style: Thunder Bomb!"

Ē clapped his hands, sending a barrage of lightning discharges flying at his father's body. The Sandaime Raikage turned his head towards him and held out his hand, capturing each discharge. Within seconds, he had caught all of Ē's attack and merged the stray discharges into a single, large ball of pure lightning.

"Thunder Bomb is a collaboration jutsu, and here you are pulling it off yourself." Abunai noted, chuckling slightly: "Quite an impressive feat."

"Don't patronize me, father. It doesn't feel impressive when you literally caught each lightning bolt." Ē grit his teeth in response.

Abunai frowned in response: "Wasn't my intention, although I suppose it could come across that way."

'It's becoming more-and-more clear how accurate history really is. This monster needed the combined force of ten thousand shinobi in order to finally put him down, and even then, he took the majority down with him.' Masakado took a deep breath as he gripped his pen tightly: 'In a battle of attrition, Ē and I have no chance to beat him. If either of us have any hope of stopping him, we have to seal him away now.'

'D-Dammit. I was way over my head taking this mission.' Iruka winced as he rubbed the back of his head, feeling the large bump that was starting to form.

Even though he knew he was brought along only for his newly-acquired studies in fūinjutsu as a way to counter the Edo Tensei, he still considered it a major honor to travel with the Hokage and other elite Konoha shinobi on a mission of such important gravitas. He had psyched himself up throughout his time in Kumo, practicing the seals Jiraiya had shown him and prepared for his first job to seal away an Edo Tensei.

Unfortunately, he never anticipated his first Edo Tensei opponent to be so beyond his physical level.

Walking closer to him was the reanimated Jūzō Biwa, gripping a near perfect replica of Kubikiribōchō – the sword he had used back when he was a member of the Seven Swordsmen of Kirigakure. As he moved in closer to the Konoha chūnin, he stepped over bodies of Kirigakure and Kumogakure shinobi that he had just killed.

"Got to say, it's been a real honor being brought back to life just to see all of this. Looks like that fledgling Akatsuki organization I joined really took off into the big leagues after I died." Jūzō noted with a chuckle as he continued to approach Iruka, gripping his sword even tighter: "Anyway, it's been fun, but I'd rather spend my time hunting down an Kiri shinobi that are here right now. So, die for me, alright?"

"I'm not going to go down that easily." Iruka growled as he reached for his back and pulled out a fūma shuriken with a sealing tag attached to it: "If I'm going to die, I'm going to spend my last moments sealing you away!"

Iruka tossed the shuriken directly at Jūzō. The man quickly swung the Kubikiribōchō replica, sending the shuriken down on the ground. As quick as it was sent flying, another shuriken revealed itself, having flown in the shadow of the first. This time, Jūzō jumped up, avoiding the attack. Iruka then pulled back with his left hand, revealing string attached to the fūma shuriken. The shuriken flew back directly at Jūzō's head, but the man side-stepped, avoiding it. Iruka frowned as he caught the shuriken with his left hand.

"Your instincts are good, but they're not enough." Jūzō chuckled as he continued his approach towards Iruka: "You're years away from taking me on, punk. And unfortunately, you'll never get to that point, because you were a dumbass and chose to take me on!"

"Many Hidden Shadow Snake Hands!"

Before Jūzō could chop Iruka's head off, snakes rushed from the side, biting into his body and ensnaring him. The Edo Tensei growled in response as he struggled to free himself as both he and Iruka turned their head to face Mitarashi Anko, the Shibuki blast-sword attached to her back, and Sage Mode activated.

"Anko-san!" Iruka called out.

"Iruka, get this guy sealed-up already!" Anko hissed. "Don't know how long he'll stay put-"

On cue with her words, Jūzō managed to pull himself out of the snakes' grip, freeing himself.

"And who the hell are you-" His eyes widened as he noticed the sword on her back: "Is that Shibuki? How the hell did a Konoha shinobi obtain the blast-sword? Did you kill Jinpachi?"

"Answers are yes, I'm a member of the Seven Swordsmen, and yes respectively." Anko replied as she pulled out the blast-sword, gripping it tightly.

"He's dead, huh? Good riddance. That asshole was unbearable-" Once again, Jūzō cut his words shot as Anko's second answer dawned on him. His eyes widened further before he shook his head: "You can't be a part of the Seven Swordsmen. You're not a Kiri shinobi, for fuck's sake!"

"Nah, I'm a member. Went through the orientation and everything." Anko replied with a smirk: "Received honorary status as a Kiri shinobi too as a result."

"… Kirigakure really has sunk lower than I thought possible. I'm even more glad I bailed on that shithole." Jūzō shook his head before he tightened his grip on the Kubikiribōchō: "Well, as a member of the Swordsmen, you have become my priority target. Prepare to die, Kiri scum!"

He rushed forward at Anko quickly, swinging his Kubikiribōchō replica at her. Anko quickly adjusted, blocking with the Shibuki's blade. Upon contact, an explosive tag flung from the scroll attached to her sword, which detonated instantly, forcing the two out of their blade clash.

"Hmph. At least you seem to understand that Shibuki is useless in a clash between two swords-" For the third time, Jūzō's words were cut-short as Anko proceeded to swing the blast-sword towards him, like a shuriken. He side-stepped, narrowly avoiding its blade: "What the fuck are you doing?"

On cue, the blast-sword unraveled another part of its scroll, creating more-and-more explosive tags. Anko smirked: "Explosive Blade Style: Boomerang Sword Blast!"

Immediately, the sealing tags detonated, blowing Jūzō's body into two halves, just as the Shibuki flew directly back to Anko's right hand. She gripped the handle tightly before turning to Iruka.

"Quickly already! Get him sealed-up before he gets back together!" Anko shouted as she held out her left hand.

"R-Right." Iruka nodded his head as he pulled out a scroll.

Jūzō Biwa's body quickly reformed together as quickly as it was separated. More shadow snake hands rushed from her hands, surrounding his reformed body as Iruka prepared the scroll.

"What a travesty…" The Edo Tensei summon gritted his teeth as he struggled to free himself: "I'm losing this fast already? What a disgrace."

Anko nodded her head in agreement: "Suppose it is. Guess Zabuza is a better fit for that sword."

'Zabuza obtained my sword? That brat-'

Iruka finished unsealing his scroll and, after finishing his prep work, the body of Jūzō Biwa was completely surrounded in the scroll. Iruka finished with a sealing tag placed directly on its body, finishing the deed.

The reanimation of Jūzō Biwa was no more, his soul returning to its final resting place.

"That… geez." Iruka took in a deep breath before turning to face Anko, a smile on his face: "Thank you, Anko. Feel somewhat pathetic that you took him down so effortlessly when he was close to killing me, but nevertheless, thank you."

"It's not pathetic. You sealed him up. That's something only you and a couple of others can do." Anko said, smiling back. "You're doing good, Iruka-"


Anko's eyes widened in horror as she turned to face the giant chimera in the distance. A sinking feeling developed in her skin as she noticed the air around becoming thicker.

'The Snake Sage said that in Sage Mode, I can sense things better… I can sense what that thing is doing… it's absorbing the natural energy of the village.' Her grip on the blast-sword tightened. She then turned her head to face Iruka: "I got to go, so keep yourself safe, alright?"

Before Iruka could respond, Anko rushed off, heading in the direction of the Nue.

Hanabi, Kanji, and Katsumi hurried through the halls of the Dengō Raigō stadium as Hanabi followed the traces of genuine chakra signatures they could see.

As they made their way through the hallway, more-and-more clones of the Amegakure shinobi started to rise from the ground, all holding kunai and throwing it at the three genin. The group all side-stepped the barrage of weapons as they made their way, but one of the kunai managed to strike at Kanji's right arm, cutting it slightly. He hissed in pain.

"Aren't these things genjutsu?" The Yamanaka asked, his left hand going to his newly formed wound: "How the hell are they actually injuring us?"

"The clones aren't real, but the weapons are." Hanabi shook her head: "I can see that they are some type of stone-type weapon. I think one of the enemies is an Earth Elemental and is able to create realistic rock-shaped kunai for the 'clones' to wield."

"So one of them has a really long-range earth type jutsu that they are overlaying with their genjutsu. How fucking annoying." Katsumi grit her teeth slightly: "Hopefully these techniques show they overly excel at long-range fighting, but in close-range, they're wimps."

"That's my expectation too, but they might be stronger than that." Kanji noted, shaking his head: "We have to be careful."

Team Nine grew quiet as they focused on moving through the stadium. After maneuvering their way through the hallways and avoiding the attacks of the clones, the three finally escaped the stadium. Hanabi's eyes narrowed, focusing on one end of the giant storm cloud that surrounded the building.

"Yes, I know for certain. There in a building near the entrance to the building, just outside the stadium." Hanabi stated sharply.

Katsumi nodded her head: "Then let's hurry and fuck them up!"

As the group took a step into the cloud, Hanabi stopped in her place as she noticed a chakra source rushing towards them. She immediately held-out her hands.

"Guys, stop! There's an enemy with a jōnin-level chakra approaching us!" She called out.

"Jōnin?" Kanji bit down on his lip as he immediately reached into his pocket for seals.

"Which way is the enemy coming from?" Katsumi asked.

"They're…" Hanabi grit her teeth, concentrating on the chakra source before turning her head upward: "Above! Watch-out!"

"Sword of the Thunder God: Scatter Bolts!"

Hanabi, Katsumi, and Kanji jumped away from their position just in time as their enemy slammed into the ground, causing bolts of bright, yellow lightning to scatter throughout the area.

"Lightning Style: Spider Web!"

Kanji held out his hand, causing an electrical spider web to fly from his hands into the air, splitting off into strings that managed to reach his teammates. The electrical strings managed to intercept the lightning bolts, stopping them in their tracks and causing a burst of energy that sent Kanji, Katsumi, and Hanabi backwards slightly.

"Hmph. Quick thinking on your part."

Upon steadying themselves, the Team Nine genin turned their heads to the center where they had been pushed from, coming face-to-face with Rokushō Aoi. The man, still wearing a fake Konoha forehead protector, grinned as he gripped the hilt of a sword that was made from pure lightning.

"A Konoha shinobi?" Katsumi snorted, glaring at the forehead protector: "Get that shit off your face! You know that's not real!"

"True. I'd never want to be associated with such a shit village more than I already am." Aoi chuckled in response as swung his hilt around in a circular fashion: "This is the only thing of value that came from the village. Anything else can go to hell for all I care."

"Speaking with such venom." Kanji's eyes narrowed: "Are you a missing ninja from our village?"

"Perhaps." Aoi shrugged his shoulders.

"That sword…" Hanabi's eyes narrowed on the Raijin no Ken: "That's not a real blade, is it? I don't see a physical form other than the hilt. It's literally just lightning."

"It's not a real-" Katsumi's eyes widened as a realization dawned on her: "Ahh! That's the Nidaime's Sword!"

"You recognize it?" Aoi grinned in response.

"I know all about the fighting styles of the former Kage. That sword was designed by Senju Tobirama after being inspired from seeing the Kiba Blades of Kirigakure, and was designed to augment his Water Release techniques." Katsumi said, her eyes narrowing: "It belongs back in our village. It does not belong in the hands of some shitty no-name missing ninja!"

"No-name? NO-NAME?" Aoi grit his teeth as his grip tightened: "I am Rokushō Aoi, a jōnin of Amegakure! I'm one of Pain-sama's trusted generals, brought here to help destroy the five major shinobi villages. Remember that name!" He then jumped forward at Katsumi: "But most of all, remember it as the name of the man who sent you to hell!"

Katsumi quickly drew her sword and attempted to block Aoi's strike. The Amegakure shinobi's 'Sword of the Thunder God', however, overpowered Katsumi's blade, splitting it in half.

'What-' The resulting clash sent a shockwave into Katsumi's body that sent her flying backwards, electrocuting heavily: "AGH!"

"Katsumi!" Hanabi called out, her eyes narrowing on Aoi as she took in a deep breath, a gesture Hebihiro imitated: "Ninja Art: Poison Darts Jutsu!"

Both Hanabi and Hebihiro spat out a barrage of poison darts directly at Aoi. The green-haired man proceeded to side-step the darts effortlessly before he reached for the umbrella attached to his back with his left hand. He then threw it into the air before making a hand sign.

"Ninja Art: Senbon Rainstorm!"

The umbrella proceeded to spin rapidly, sending a barrage of senbon flying around the battlefield, aiming directly for all three genin. Kanji made a hand sign, using the Headhunter Jutsu to sink underground, while Katsumi jumped to Hanabi's side and made a hand sign, creating a large bedrock to rise and form a makeshift shield. Senbon continued to pound into the rock, creating cracks before it broke apart.

"Shit." Katsumi grit her teeth as she made hand 3 signs: "Earth Style: Rising Rock Jutsu!"

Another large boulder rose from the ground and flew through the sky directly at the senbon umbrella, crushing it instantly. A frown developed on Aoi's face before it was replaced with a grin.

"Did you really think you did something?" He asked.

He then disappeared in a poof of smoke before appearing directly behind Katsumi and Hanabi. He attempted to stab at them with his thunder sword, but the moment his foot touched the ground, his body became rooted to the earth as electricity poured into his body.

"AGH!" He growled out.

On cue with his screaming, Kanji rose from the ground: "Fūinjutsu: Paralysis Trap!"

'Good timing, Kanji-kun.' Hanabi smiled at her teammate before turning back to Aoi. She bent slightly and got into a stance as Hebihiro extended his body around her neck: "You're in the field of my divination. Hyūga and Ryūchi Cave Combination Art: Eight Trigrams, Thirty-two Palms!" She then took a step forward, slamming her right palm into his body: "Two Palms!"

Upon landing a second strike, Hebihiro extended his head, biting down on Aoi's skin in the same location as Hanabi's strike. The man hissed louder in pain.

"Four Palms!" Both Hanabi and Hebihiro struck in unison once again as she continued to strike at him. "Eight Palms! Sixteen Palms-"

Before she could land her sixteenth palm strike, Aoi's 'Sword of the Thunder God' started to grow larger before a giant discharge scattered from it, directly at Hanabi in the face. The Hyūga screamed as the lightning struck her hard, sending her flying backwards.

"Hanabi!" Katsumi shouted, her eyes widening in horror.

"Hmph. Lucky shot." Aoi growled as he finally forced his body to move. He then turned his head to face Kanji, his sword getting longer as more lightning developed around it: "What a disgusting seal! I don't fuck with fūinjutsu users, so congratulations brat, you're going to be the first of your little friends to die!"

Aoi charged forward again before Kanji could react. The Yamanaka's mind shattered for a moment as he braced for oncoming death.

"Earth Style: Stone Golem!"

Katsumi opened her mouth as a large earth golem developed from her chakra. Just as Aoi was about to skewer Kanji's body, he was forced to turn around as the stone golem rushed his backside, attempting to punch him. Aoi sliced forward, cutting the golem through its chest and splitting the bedrock in half. The stones, however, proceeded to fly forward directly into Aoi's body, hitting him with enough force that it cut into his skin heavily.

"Another lucky hit. You snots seem to know some interesting, painful jutsu. Shit that most genin aren't capable of." Aoi hissed: "However, that's not going to stop me! In the end, you're all still inexperienced genin! None of you three have a hope of surviving!"

Katsumi's eyes narrowed in response as she opened her mouth, creating a second stone golem. Aoi crouched slightly, preparing to strike at it once more, but he stopped as he felt a chakra presence approaching him. He jumped backwards, avoiding a barrage of shuriken.

"Are you three alright?"

Ebisu jumped down into the battlefield, landing directly side-by-side to Katsumi's stone golem.

"Ebisu-sensei." Kanji nodded his head in acknowledgment: "We're… we're fine. We're still alive."

"That man… he's got the Nidaime's sword." Katsumi warned.

"I see… I recognize him, too." Ebisu's eyes narrowed from behind his sunglasses: "Rokushō Aoi, what a displeasure to see you."

"Ah, the closet pervert from Team Fourteen! Did I just heard them call you 'sensei'?" Aoi snorted, a grin developing on his face: "Probably the biggest indictment of Konoha I've ever heard. The fact that you of all people are considered a jōnin of that village…" He then crouched again, tightening his grip on his sword: "But I suppose if you're here too, guess I should go all-out. No need to toy around with some genin; I'll show all four of you exactly what I'm capable of doing!"

Kanji rushed over to Katsumi's side just as Hanabi pulled herself off the ground, her forehead heavily burned from the close-quarters lightning strike. The three genin prepared for another strike as Ebisu briefly glanced back at them.

"Aoi's a ruthless man. I know he'll prioritize chasing after you if you all try to leave, even more than simply fighting me, so it's best if you all just stay put and help me put him down." Ebisu stated: "Just be careful. Understood?"

"We understand." Katsumi nodded her head as she brought her hands together. The stone golem she had formed seemed to adjust itself, as if it was preparing to strike: "We'll follow your lead. Let's kill this bastard!"

"Ē! Masakado-san! You need to hurry this before it gets too late!" Abunai shouted as the reanimated Kage brought his left hand to his right shoulder. Immediately, black lightning started to surround his finger tips before it traveled through his whole body: "Damn, it may already be too late. Brace yourselves, gentlemen!"

"More of this black lightning…" Masakado grit his teeth slightly at the sight: "What is he going to do?"

Before Ē could respond, he watched his father raise both his hands to the sky. The black lightning proceeded to rise into the air before entering some of the low-bound clouds above the village. Horror crossed the Yondaime Raikage's face as he turned to look around the village.

The village gates were still teeming with his village's shinobi – while the majority of the bystanders had 'wised up' and moved away from the crossfires after Abunai's last attack, there were still plenty of Kumo shinobi – along with other shinobi from the other Major Shinobi Villages – engaging with the Akatsuki's numbers. Furthermore, he could still get a good glimpse of the village as a whole.

"I know what he is going to do. My father is about to use the technique that allowed him to take down his last enemies in his last stand." Ē grit his teeth for a moment before he turned to face Masakado: "Please. I'm going to need to spend every amount of energy I can muster trying to save my village. I need you to seal him as fast as possible." He closed his eyes for a moment as he clapped his hands together: "I am begging you."

Masakado's eyes narrowed on the man for a moment before he nodded his head: "Do your job, and I'll do mine. We'll keep this village safe."

The Yondaime Raikage nodded his head back in response as his Lightning Style Armor appeared to develop even more.

"Lightning Style: Black Lightning Armageddon!"

Abunai brought his hands downward as hundreds of black lightning bolts began to rain down onto the village gates and the surrounding area. The black lightning first struck the guard towers adjacent to the village gates, destroying them instantly and scattering wood, stone, and metal debris around the area.

"Wh-What is that?" One Suna shinobi noted, making distance between himself and the Akatsuki affiliate he was fighting.

"It's Sandaime-sama's ultimate technique." A Kumo shinobi answered, his face growing pale as his eyes turned to look towards the black lightning bolts: "That lightning is second only to the lightning of Shodai-sama's Weather Release. One hit… and…"

"Wait, is that shit going to hit us?" One Akatsuki affiliate – a missing ninja from Kumogakure – asked with wide eyes: "I thought they said those dead guys were on our side-"

A black lightning bolt fell from the sky directly at the man. The lightning strike killed him instantly, the force splitting his body apart into four pieces.

Before the lightning bolt could strike at the Kumo shinobi, however, Ē jumped in the way.

"Lightning Style Armor: Break!"

With a chopping gesture, Ē slammed his hand directly into the black lightning bolt. He scowled as the force of the bolt tore into his skin but his act managed to redirect the lightning bolt back into the sky.

Despite the burning sensation in his hand and the enemy-electricity running through his body, Ē proceeded to jump towards the next lightning bolt, redirecting it with his other arm this time. He grit his teeth as the pain doubled once more.

"Tsuyoi, what are you doing?" Abunai shouted, a frown on his face: "You are not strong enough to withstand my black lightning like this consistently?"

"And let you destroy my village?" Ē snorted in response: "You should understand better than anyone exactly what I am doing!"

The Sandaime Raikage's eyes widened as his body, on auto-pilot, continued its barrage of black lightning bolts from the sky. As more bolts flew rapidly down towards the shinobi and toward the village, his son would continue to jump in the way, redirecting the bolts of lightning away. With each passing hit, the Yondaime Raikage became slower and more injured, his skin burning heavily and his nerves starting to act-up.

Ē's movements were starting to cut it close, only narrowly managing to hit oncoming lightning bolts, but nevertheless, he continued to move and throw himself in the way of his father's onslaught.

'At this rate, he'll die…' The Sandaime Raikage bit his lip, watching his son destroy his body bit-by-bit. The Lightning Armor around Ē's body started to lighten slightly, which only caused Abunai's expression to drop even further: 'Damn you, Senju Tobirama. Why did you create this accursed reanimation jutsu?'

As the reanimation became so focused on his black lightning strikes, Uzumaki Masakado closed the distance between himself and the reanimation. Abunai finally turned his attention towards Masakado just as he finished drawing a seal onto his bronze shield.

"Uzumaki Fūinjutsu: Spiral Rotation!"

Four large, golden rings formed around Masakado's body that quickly rushed over to Abunai's body. The four rings surrounded his body, forming bindings over his ankles, knees, waist, and torso. Abunai, in response, looked upward.

"Masakado-san, hurry and seal me away!" The Sandaime Raikage requested.

"Don't need to tell me." Masakado replied as he pulled out the scroll.

One final black lightning bolt fell from the sky, directly at Masakado's position. Ē, once again, jumped towards the lighting bolt. He attempted to chop at the bolt once more and redirect it, but upon impact with his skin, the lightning bolt clashed in a stalemate with the Yondaime Raikage.

"ARGH!" Ē growled as the black lightning tore into his skin.

Masakado finally finished wrapping the Sandaime Raikage's body up in the scroll. He then created the final seal on the newly-wrapped body.

'Finished just in time…' Abunai sighed in relief. As his consciousness began to return to the afterlife, he recalled the image of his son, Tsuyoi, the fourth Ē, jumping throughout the village and personally blocking his Black Lightning Armageddon technique. A small smile developed on his face: 'I think, I can rest better this time, though… this jutsu was horrible, but at least I have confirmation that my son is keeping the village safe…'

With the Sandaime Raikage's sealing, the black lightning in the clouds finally dispersed into nothing. The bolt that Ē was clashing with, too, faded away. The Yondaime Raikage proceeded to fall to the ground, landing on his knees next to Masakado, breathing heavily. The lightning armor around his body had completely dispersed.

"Damn. That jutsu of his was worse than I ever heard…" Ē growled to himself: 'I don't know if I'm even in condition to help more… I need medical attention now, and I need my chakra to restore, before I can do anything.'

"Rest for now, Ē." Masakado suggested. He attached his bronze shield back to the holster on his back before he lifted up the Raikage's body, pulling him over his shoulder. The aged Uzumaki winced at Ē's weight on his body, but nevertheless, he started to move: "I'll get you to medical."

The Yondaime Raikage was unable to argue back. He was quiet as he took in the sight of the allied shinobi in the area that he managed to save from his father's technique before he took in a deep breath.

"Thank you, Uzukage-san." Ē noted.

Masakado's eyes widened in response at the words, but he said nothing in response, focusing on getting the Raikage to the nearest medical shinobi he could find.

'Hopefully I won't be out for long… for now, though, I'm trusting my village to you all.' Ē closed his eyes for a moment: 'Jiraiya. Kurotsuchi. Mei. Gaara, and all of you jinchūriki. All of the shinobi under all of you… and all the Kumo shinobi under me. I'll trust the protection of my village to your hands.'

"Summoning Jutsu!"

Another poof of smoke filled the stadium-ground. All nine jinchūriki tensed-up as a massive, three-headed dog appeared, all three sets of eyes possessing the Rinnegan. The beast growled loudly as it took a few steps forward towards the jinchūriki.

"That one gives off a particularly dark, strong energy." Yagura noted, staring intently at the multi-headed dog: "I have a feeling that of all those horrendous summons, this one might be the worst."

"They're coming after us with everything they got; it's about time we show off the skills we brought." Bee declared sharply: "No more playing defensive! Time to go on the offensive!"

"Bee's right about that. We got a little taste of what they got, and have seen some things that the Rinnegan is capable of. Now we need to respond appropriately." Rōshi noted, a grin on his face as he crept down to the ground: "And I think I got the set-up just for it. Lava Style: Monkey King's Vortex!"

The ground underneath proceeded to open up as four Lava Clones of Rōshi jumped out of the underground and started to spin rapidly in a circle, creating a jade-green vortex of lava that ensnared the Paths of Pain and the other Akatsuki shinobi.

In response, both the multi-headed dog and the drill-bird rushed forward at the jinchūriki. The bird squawked loudly as it dropped egg bombs directly onto the jinchūriki, forcing them to jump away in separate directions as the eggs blew-up more of the stadium ground. The multi-headed dog jumped directly towards Yugito, who extended her hands outward, causing her claws to grow more.

"Cat Claw!"

Yugito side-stepped the giant dog trying to slam its paw into her and proceeded to jump at a diagonal angle, severing all three heads. Immediately, however, two dog heads sprouted from each neck, now creating six, snarling dog-heads.

"These creatures just don't want to die it seems." Yugito grumbled as she jumped back, avoiding the giant dog as all six of its heads tried to bite into her. Her eyes then moved back to the giant drill bird in the sky: "They're basically giant distractions."

"Distractions that can kill us." Utakata reminded, his eyes narrowing as he took a step forward as he watched an opening in Rōshi's lava vortex start to form at the top: "We need to remember to keep on our toes! Water Style: Bubble Hell!"

Pulling out his pipe, Utakata blew out a flurry of bubbles that flew directly towards the top of Rōshi's lava vortex just as both Konan flew out, seemingly uninjured and carrying Pain's Deva Path once more. She proceeded to fly carefully, avoiding each of the bubbles as she made her way to safety. The Deva Path then extended its right hand.

"Banshō Ten'in!"

Immediately, Yagura's body started to pull itself towards the sky, heading directly into the sky. Konan's eyes narrowed as she flapped her wings, sending a barrage of paper needles flying towards him.

'Mistake to have chosen me.' Yagura smirked as he began to channel chakra throughout his body. Immediately, sharp coral sprung from his chakra cloak, surrounding his body and forming a shell: "Shell Spear!"

Yagura's shell immediately crashed into Konan's jutsu, crumpling the needles as if they were normal paper. Pain was forced to undo his jutsu and Konan flew upwards just in time, causing Yagura's spike-covered body to narrowly miss crashing into both of them. Now directly above them, Yagura's eyes focused on the paper in Konan's wings and recalled the paper needles before he reached for his staff and swung it forward.

"Water Style: Water Mirror Jutsu!"

In an instant, Yagura formed a mirror of water from the hook of his mirror, reflecting the image of Konan's paper needles. The mirror then released the paper needles directly at Konan and Pain. The sharp needles dug into both of their skins before they could get away, causing Konan to wince in pain as blood started to pour from wounds in her shoulders and her arms. Pain's Deva Path had open wounds on its body, but appeared to have no reaction whatsoever.

Yagura's eyes narrowed: 'None of these orange-haired men are living humans, are they? I can see how deep that wound is and it's not even bleeding. Taking into consideration the fact they all possess the Rinnegan and that one of them was seemingly revived. these must all be vessels for the 'real' Pain.' The Yondaime Mizukage's grip on his staff tightened: 'And if that's the case-'

Within a moment, a large adamantine sealing chain rushed upwards from the vortex of the lava vortex. Yagura's eyes widened as the chain surrounded his waist.

On cue, the lava vortex was finally extinguished, revealing the remaining Akatsuki members. The remaining Paths of Pain and Tobi appeared physically unharmed entirely and, while Kabuto and Kisame appeared to be mildly burned, neither seemed to be too injured. Kabuto made a gesture with his right hand, pulling down on the sealing chain he created, pulling Yagura downward.

Kisame grinned as he clapped his hands together before he jumped into the air, rushing towards Yagura's falling body: "Come here, little turtle!" He opened his mouth as his teeth seemed to grow and sharpen: "Shark Bite!"

Before Kisame could chomp into his former teammate, Naruto held out his hand and released an adamantine sealing chain, grabbing onto Yagura's waist as well and pulling him back slightly. The movement was enough to cause Kisame's attempted bite to miss. The Hoshigaki glared intently as both Naruto and Kabuto got into a stalemate as they both pulled onto Yagura's body.

"Your chains aren't strong as mine, Naruto." Kabuto noted, hissing slightly as he pulled: "I have the blood of Uzumaki Mito running through my veins!"

"Stolen blood. Might I remind you that I am an actual-born Uzumaki." Naruto replied, scowling: "I don't give a fuck whose blood you actually have; your borrowed bullshit can't compete against my natural skills!"

As they both proceeded to try and pull back-and-forth on Yagura's body, the Yondaime Mizukage grit his teeth at the pain of the chains pulling on his waist. He tried to break free on his own accord, but the chakra sealing aspects of the chain were making it increasingly difficult to break free. As he continued to struggle, he noticed the Asura Path hold out its wrist, releasing a barrage of missiles directly at Yagura's ensnared body.

"Wind Style: Drilling Air Bullets!"

Before the missiles could connect, Fū flew forward, breathing out a series of air bullets from her mouth. Her projectiles connected with the missiles, creating an explosion before they could reach Yagura.

"Don't worry, Kamui-s… er, Yagura-san. Sorry." Fū said, rubbing her head as she flew past his body, aiming directly at Kabuto's body as she began to spin rapidly in her approach: "Just don't worry; I'll get you busted out! Chōmei Hurricane-"

"Shinra Tensei!"

Before Fū's spinning body could connect with Kabuto's, a sharp gravitational force propelled against her body, sending her flying back into the sky. She hissed in pain as she was sent flying back into the sky.

'That took more force than I'd like to admit.' Pain noted, the Deva Path looking at its palm: 'The jinchūriki really have gotten stronger that they're requiring me to use this much chakra to propel their attacks with Shinra Tensei.' The Animal Path's eyes then narrowed on the giant drill-Beaked Bird in the sky: 'We need to handle this quickly.'

On cue with his inner commands, the drill bird screeched as it rushed itself through the air towards Fū's body. The Nanabi jinchūriki still staggered in the air, was quickly impaled by the bird, its drill-piercing her stomach. She growled out in pain.

"Fū!" Yugito shouted, her eyes widening.

"I'm… fine…" Fū grit her teeth as she slowly reached out for the beak, holding the giant bird in its place: 'Chōmei, how's the damage?'

"It pierced the Chakra Armor, as I'm sure you feel, but just barely missed any vital organs in your stomach. I'd say you were 'lucky', but this Pain guy is trying to avoid killing you, so I guess that checks out."

'I need to take advantage of that… they can't put in that bit of lethal force on us, but we sure as hell can.' Fū noted as she opened her mouth, releasing white powder fragments from her mouth. The powder quickly covered the bird's body as Fū proceeded to flap her wings rapidly: "Ninja Art: Demonic Firestorm!"

The white powder on the bird's body ignite, creating a massive firestorm. The bird shrieked in pain. Fū was able to pull the bird's beak out of her body on time as the bird fell to the ground hard, crashing into the battlefield once more before disappearing in a poof of smoke.

"Try to take a breather, Fū." Chōmei suggested. "Being in your Bijū mode will heal your body at a much faster rate than normal."

'Understood.' Fū nodded her head as she started to fly further up, trying to place distance between herself and the others. As she got higher into the sky, she noticed an orange-haired man hidden in a crevice amongst the bleachers. Her eyes narrowed: 'Hmm-'

Her gaze was forced off as a spiraling vortex appeared behind her body. Within a second, Tobi appeared directly behind her, a wooden spear protruding from his wrist.

"Wood Release: Cutting Sprigs Jutsu!"

Before Fū could turn around, Tobi stabbed the wooden spear directly at Fū's open wound on her shoulder. She hissed in pain as the wooden spear seemingly dug into the wound even further. Immediately, the wood on the spear started to spread, forming branches that quickly surrounded her body.

"AAGGGH!" She growled in pain as she was completely encased in the branches. Her body then fell back to the earth, creating a crater.

"Fū!" Yugito called out as she rushed over to her side, he claws extending once more as she proceeded to slash at the wooden branches.

Tobi chuckled to himself as he watched the Nibi jinchūriki fail to free Fū: 'She's incapacitated for now. That'll give us the upper-hand-'

The Uchiha's thoughts were interrupted as he noticed the Spear of Shukaku flying through the air towards him. After turning his head towards the weapon, the spear flew straight through his body. He chuckled again before turning his attention towards Gaara, who was rising on a platform of sand towards him.

"Surprised to see you are so willing to part with such a unique weapon, Kazekage-san." He noted. "What a waste-"

Tobi was interrupted as the Spear of Shukaku flew back towards him. His eyes widened briefly before the spear, once again, past through his chest.

'Close. I didn't expect that thing to be a remote weapon.' The Masked Man noticed, watching the end of the spear pass through his body. 'Now, to-'


Suddenly, a sharp pain developed on Tobi's chest. He started to bleed heavily from his mouth and he felt like lightning was rushing through his body.

'Who did that? Was that Killer Bee?' The Uchiha's eyes moved to the Hachibi jinchūriki, who was busy fending-off and distracting Pain's Multi-Headed Dog summon. 'No, impossible. This pain is coming from my chest. I couldn't be injured there, unless-'

Tobi's eyes widened in thought. His Mangekyō Sharingan twitched for a moment before his body disappeared in a spiraling vortex.

The moment Tobi's full body was sent to the dimension connected to his Kamui, he found out the source of his pain: a lightning-covered hand that had pierced the bit of available skin of his chest. Blood was pouring from the wound and scattered lightning bolts were striking all around the area.

He also entered the world in time to see a second lightning-covered hand try and pierce his newly-appeared face.


Tobi quickly forced the hand out of his chest and jumped back in time just as the Raikiri nearly connected with his face. Stray lightning bolts from the jutsu were sent flying directly, connecting with Tobi's mask, shattering it in an instant, revealing the Uchiha's face.

'Dammit.' He grit his teeth for a moment as he looked to face his combatant.

In the parallel dimension of Kamui, two former teammates and rivals stood face-to-face for the first time in over a decade.

"So, this is how they close to plan ahead for me, huh?" Obito noted, a scowl developing on his face: "How long have you been in hiding here?"

"The moment your invasion happened. Was waiting for the first sign of your presence here." Kakashi replied. His eyes narrowed on the man in front of him. He took in a deep breath for a moment: "It… It really is you, Obito."

'Hokage-sama was right.' Kakashi had prayed that Jiraiya was wrong. He had hoped that Itachi had gotten the wrong identity. He had hoped there was any other Uchiha with the Kamui ability. He knew deep down that his hopes were unfounded and delusional, but he had to hold onto the image of his friend: the boy whose death left a permanent scar on his heart, whose ideologies shifted Kakashi's.

And as he subconsciously knew, Jiraiya's report was right. The masked man aiding the Akatsuki was none other than his deceased teammate, Uchiha Obito.

"… Call me that if you want." Obito replied, his scowl deepening: "I've been going by 'Tobi' and 'Madara' lately. But sure, for old time's sake, you can use my old name."

"Obito…" Kakashi repeated the name, taking in another deep breath: "Why? Why are you doing this?"

"Now's not the time for words, Kakashi." The Uchiha shook his head, as he leaned down, preparing to rush forward. "I have a mission I need to get back to. So, do your old friend a favor and die already!"

Before Kakashi could respond, Obito charged forward at him.

Author's Note: Hey! Chapter 123 is now done! YAY :D

... Huh. In my timezone, it's 1 P.M right now. I'm really not used to updating chapters at this time of the day. Kinda like it; I don't feel entirely exhausted upon finishing the chapter! XD

Sometimes, I forget how hellish writing massive invasion chapters are in regards to balancing fight scenes and chapter length. These arcs definitely make me feel like a masochist writing them. Especially this one, since this one has a lot more going on than the Konoha Crush/Kirigakure Invasion/Taki Invasion had going on. But in the end, I'm still just so excited to keep moving through it and get to more-and-more of the scenes! And thankfully, I do feel like I have good 'end-points' picked out for the chapters during this invasion.

Side-note; there are still some important fights happening that I will be featuring that I haven't gotten around to starting yet. I'll definitely be introducing them as I see fit when they make the most sense to be introduced. Just kinda wanted to throw that out there real quick, even though I feel like that's sorta common sense. But whatever. XD That also goes for chapter-focuses! I know the Hinata vs. Kido fight, nor the fight against Nue were featured much in this chapter. They'll definitely get their focus more in upcoming chapters, especially as more fights end up coming to a close (i.e. the fight against the Sandaime Raikage).

Do I have anything else interesting to say at the moment... not really. My wife wants to go to lunch, so I'm probably going to cut this short before I get reminded again that we need to go. Anywaayyyy, I hope all of you are still doing good! And are still saying safe! Take care and I'll see you all when 124 is finished (and hopefully, that'll be real soon)! Until then :)