Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to Naruto. The only thing I have right now is a really nice tuna sandwich I have prepped for dinner at work instead of wasting more money buying food.

... What's this? Meal-prepping? Get that responsibility bullshit out of my face! We'll see how long that habit actually lasts XD


"Just die already, Kakashi!" Obito shouted.

Kakashi side-stepped as Obito tried to punch at him. The Uchiha then tried to sweep him off his feet, but Kakashi jumped into the air in response and tossed a kunai. Obito deflected with a kunai of his own before rushing at him, using the shunshin to get behind Kakashi. The silver-haired jōnin turned around just in time to block Obito's kunai strike with another of his.

The two former teammates found themselves locked into a battle of taijutsu as they tried to overpower one another, using only their fists and legs. Neither side gained the edge over the other; they went back-and-forth trading blows, dodging one another or blocking with their own attack.

As their battle continued, the world around them began to change. Instead of the twisted Kamui dimension, the two saw the forests of Konoha. In Kakashi's mind, he saw the Uchiha Obito he remembered; the loud, goggles-wearing boy. Obito, for a brief moment, saw Kakashi as his younger counterpart as well; a young boy with two regular eyes and a dour, serious expression.

Obito shook his head, the image of 'child Kakashi' leaving his mind. Seeing the image of his adult former teammate caused his eyes to steel as he ran through hand signs.

"Wind Style: Air Current Dance!"

Obito held out his palms just as Kakashi was about to punch him in the face. Immediately, gusts of wind appeared in the Kamui dimension, rushing towards Kakashi like blades of air. Kakashi immediately jumped backwards, avoiding the wind blades. The wind, however, changed directions and continued to fly towards Kakashi.

"Fire Style: Phoenix Flower Jutsu!"

The Uchiha breathed out a series of fireballs that connected with the air currents, causing the fire to expand rapidly throughout the dimension. Kakashi's eyes widened as used the shunshin to disappear.

In response, Obito gestured with his right hand, causing one of the flame-covered air currents to reroute towards him. As predicted, Kakashi appeared directly behind Obito just in time to get hit by Obito's jutsu. He growled in pain as the wind cut into his skin while the fire burned away at it. Within seconds, however, Kakashi's body dissipated, turning into pure electricity.

Obito scowled in response as he jumped backwards, avoiding the stray bolts from the electricity: "A lightning clone?" He turned around again to see Kakashi behind him, having used the Shunshin once more. He caught Kakashi's knee before it could connect with his head: "You'll have to try better than that."

"I'm aware. I'm making sure to keep up with you." Kakashi acknowledged, shaking his head as he pulled himself away from Obito's grip just as the Uchiha redirected another air current at him. He dodged once again: "You have gotten better. Much better."

"Time does that to a shinobi. We get stronger." Obito said sharply, his eyes narrowing: "We change."

"If I didn't know that before, I know that now." Kakashi said, shaking his head. His right hand began to glow as he channeled lightning chakra throughout it: "It's getting easier to see you not as my teammate, though." He pointed his hand outward: "Raikiri Senbon!"

The Hatake pointed his hand towards the fire-covered wind blades. As each blade grew closer to him, his lightning struck at them, causing the wind to scatter and the flames to dissipate. Within seconds, the attack was gone.

"You're finally facing reality, hmm?" Obito asked: "Took you long enough."

"Your death changed me. Shook my entire lifestyle to its core. So yes, it took 'long enough' to process everything." Kakashi said, his eyes narrowing:

Obito snorted in response: "Were you that weak-willed? I always thought you were an asshole when we were growing up, but if there was one thing I respected about you, it is that I always thought you were unshakably strong." He chuckled slightly: "All it takes is for one 'ally' to die to change you, huh?"

"Friend." Kakashi corrected: "And what did you say about friends? 'Those who abandon their friends are worse than scum'."

"I didn't abandon anyone!" Obito hissed: "What I'm doing right now is going to be the betterment of all my friends! Even you!"

"I still don't know what you mean, nor do I really care." Kakashi shook his head, sighing: "It's disheartening to see you like this. Minato-sensei and Rin would be disappointed in you-"

"Shut your mouth!" Obito shouted as he rushed at Kakashi, trying to punch at him: "Don't act like you knew what she thought!"

Kakashi blocked with his left hand. He was pushed back slightly at the force behind Obito's punch, causing his eyebrow to raise slightly. His glare, in response, only intensified.

"So, this is about Rin, then." Kakashi noted.

"It's more than Rin." Obito snarled out in response as he tried to punch Kakashi with his other hand. The man managed to catch his other fist with his right hand: "Rin's death only served as my awakening! There's… there's so much that needs to be done to make this world a better place!"

"And you think Rin would be okay with it?" Kakashi asked.

Obito grit his teeth in response as he pulled his fists away from Kakashi's grip: "Shut up!"

He charged forward again, trying to punch at him, but Kakashi jumped backwards in time.

"You think she'd approve of you trying to hunt the jinchūriki?" He asked.

"Shut up!"

"Or that you killed Minato-sensei and Kushina-san?"

"I said shut up!"

"None of what you are doing is right, Obito. Why don't you understand-"

"SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY!"

With one loud shout, Obito extended his fist backwards. His fist quickly covered itself in tree bark as Obito rushed at Kakashi.

The silver-haired jōnin stepped out of the way slightly, but was not able to fully get away; Obito stabbed him through his left shoulder.

"Ack!" Kakashi gasped, coughing up blood inside his mask.

His eye then watched the wood that had impaled his chest start to expand. Pushing past the pain, Kakashi channeled lightning chakra throughout the tenketsu in his body, causing lightning to tear into the wooden pierces and destroy them. Obito tried to pull away his wooden hand in time, but he was still too close to Kakashi's technique and was struck by the lightning. He hissed in pain.

Kakashi then charged forward, focusing all his lightning chakra into one singular point on his hands: "Raikiri!"

Kakashi lunged forward, plunging the Raikiri into Obito's heart. Obito's eyes widened in pain as choked out blood heavily, his eyes starting to close slightly.

'Obito… I don't know what changed you, but I'm sorry.' Kakashi shook his head, tears starting to fall from his non-Sharingan eye: 'I'll-'

Kakashi's thoughts were cut short, however, as Obito's eyes opened up once again. The Uchiha punched Kakashi in the face, pulling him out of his heart, and causing more blood to pour out.

"Urk… s-so that's what Rin must have felt, huh…" Obito grumbled to himself between breaths, rubbing at his lip as he pushed the blood away.

'How?' Kakashi's eyes widened as he focused on Obito's wounds: 'His body was resisting my attack well, but this time, I know my Raikiri hit his heart. How? No one should have survived that-' His eyes widened as he watched the injury on Obito's body start to close in on itself slightly: "You're… regenerating?"

"I am…" Obito responded. His breathing calmed down and he turned to look towards Kakashi with a scowl: "See how this is all pointless? You can't kill me, Kakashi. All you are doing is stalling!"

"… You aren't immortal." Kakashi shook his head, his hands tightening: "So it seems I made the mistake of aiming for your heart. Next time, I'll help you test your regeneration and see if your body can regrow a severed head."

"Interesting offer, but I refuse." Obito shook his head as a spiraling vortex formed around his body: "I'm not dying."

With those words, Obito vanished, using the Kamui to leave the dimension. Kakashi's eyes narrowed, preparing to take this fight to their normal reality once again.


"Brace yourselves everyone." Rōshi said sharply as he and the other seven jinchūriki all tensed-up.

As the Asura Path approached them, its hands opened up, launching a barrage of missiles towards them. All eight jumped away just in time as the missiles connected with the ground, creating massive explosions that scattered debris. As they all made distance, Naruto grabbed onto Gaara's unconscious body.

'I need to get Gaara to Mount Myōboku with the other genin.' He told himself as he began to make hand signs.

"Banshō Ten'in!"

Before Naruto could finish his Summoning Jutsu, however, a strong gravitational force concentrated on Gaara's body. The Kazekage was pulled out of his grip, flying directly towards the Deva Path.

"Let him go!" Naruto growled out.

"And let you whisk the Kazekage out of our grip?" The Deva Path shook its head: "No. When today's over, we will have all of you captured and ready for extraction."

"Water Style: Coral of Isobu!"

Before Gaara could reach the Deva Path, coral shot forward from Yagura's chakra cloak, rushing towards the Kazekage's floating body and grabbing onto his legs. He then grit his teeth as he pulled the Ichibi jinchūriki back over to his side before tossing his body to Naruto.

"Summoning Jutsu!"

As quickly as Naruto summoned Gamatatsu, Naruto handed Gaara's unconscious form over to him before the toad retreated back to Mount Myōboku.

'Gaara… rest well, okay?' Naruto closed his eyes for a moment in prayer.

The Preta Path Pain's eyes narrowed: "You are only slowing down the inevitable-"

"Inevitable this. Inevitable that. Let's show this fucker he's full of crap!" Bee exclaimed as he jumped forward. Octopus tails developed from his chakra cloak, all gripping his seven swords: "WHEEEE!"

"Dance of the Willow!"

In response, Kabuto jumped in between Killer Bee and the Deva Path, bones extending from his elbows, knees, palms, and shoulders. The silver-haired shinobi's bones blocked all seven of Bee's strikes. He then adjusted, continuing to block Bee as the Hachibi jinchūriki began to jump around, trying to strike at Pain.

"Certainly you are able to do more than that." Kabuto taunted, more bones forming from his body as Bee tried to sneak a strike past him.

"Who do you think you're talking to, ya fool? The one Killer Bee ain't balking, ya fool!" Bee's eyes narrowed as he began to channel chakra into the tips of his blades, covering them in ink.

As Kabuto blocked another strike, the ink on all seven of Bee's swords started to spread, quickly moving onto Kabuto's bones. As soon as they formed, Kabuto channeled chakra into his joints, causing the bones to launch themselves from his body like spikes before they could spread to his body. Bee jumped backwards, narrowly avoiding the launched spikes.

"Summoning Jutsu!"

Pain's Animal Path slammed its hand on the ground. A poof of smoke filled the air before the ground began to rumble.

"What the-"

The ground opened up underneath Killer Bee's body, revealing a large brownish with metallic scales and claws the Rinnegan eyes on its head. The shark's head managed to knock the Hachibi jinchūriki into the air as it continued to jump into the air, attempting to bite into Bee.

"Boil Style: Geyser Impact!"

Han raised his hands, causing a large geyser to form from the ground underneath the shark before it could attack Bee. The boiling water managed to prevent the shark from moving forward, but within a few seconds, the water began to splatter around the battlefield, revealing the shark, completely unharmed. The creature proceeded to fall back into the ground, sinking into it as the earth began to rumble.

"I'm still trying to figure out what kind of monsters those summons are." Yagura noted, rubbing his chin in thought: "They're more resilient than any other I've seen-"

"They're strong, yeah, but they've gone away after enough hits." Fū reminded, shaking her head: "Or, they go away once we kill the summoner." Her eyes focused on the Animal Path's body: "That one's fragile. It's died twice already. We can kill it a third time."

"Easier said than done, though." Yugito acknowledged, her eyes focused on the Animal Path. Its eyes were focused on the battlefield while the other Pains seemed to be keeping track of everyone's positioning: "You've surely noticed, right? Now that the one that could revive those bodies was destroyed, they've been more focused. Earlier, I think they were more focused on trying to overwhelm us that they would not care if one or two bodies were destroyed if it meant getting an extra shot on one of us, or at least a chance we'd all waste more chakra. Now, though? They're going to be more careful."

"That doesn't change anything." Fū, again, shook her head: "Even if they're fighting more carefully, we still were able to kill them. They're not unbeatable." She cracked her knuckles as she began to channel chakra: "Just gotta step up our game and-"

A spiraling vortex opened up next to the Deva Path's body. All attention moved towards it as Uchiha Obito, now unmasked, stepped out of the Kamui dimension.

'That's him!' Yagura's eyes narrowed: 'So that's what that demon looks like unmasked…'

"You appear to have been busy." Konan noted, moving next to Pain's Deva Path: "What was distracting you-"

"Get your Human Path ready!" Obito nearly shouted.

Pain's Human Path body's eyes narrowed in response, but it nodded its head as it rushed to Obito's side. On cue with its arrival, another spiral vortex opened up next to the Deva Path's body. Kakashi appeared from the void, lightning surrounding its right hand.

"Ningendo!"

Before Kakashi could connect his Raikiri into Obito's body, the Human Path reached out towards his chest and pulled. Immediately, a blue soul was ripped straight from the body.

Naruto's eyes widened: "Kakashi-"

The Human Path's eyes narrowed as Kakashi's body fell apart, being reduced to nothing but scattered lightning chakra. Obito, the Deva Path Pain, and Konan jumped out of the way in time while the Human Path was forced to take the lightning strike into the chest. The body grimaced in response as a hole was burned through its cloak.

"A lightning clone..." Pain mumbled as the Deva Path glared at Obito: "I was unaware you were facing off against Hatake Kakashi."

Before the Uchiha could respond, another spiraling vortex opened up. Kakashi appeared, standing alongside the jinchūriki.

"Hatake-san, are you alright?" Utakata asked.

"I'm fine. Thought it would make sense to fight out here with you all since Obito finally left." Kakashi said before his eyes narrowed once again on the Uchiha: "By the way, consider this a little friendly warning; I did leave a clone in the Kamui dimension. I would recommend avoid using it as a means of intangibility." He shook his head as he forced out a bitter chuckle: "I suppose you could go back to destroy it. That way, we can both return to Kamui and continue our reunion."

"You…" Obito grit his teeth in response for a moment before he started to laugh: "Fine. You've been distracting me enough already. You'll just be a collateral death here anyway!"

With those words, Obito clapped his hands together.


"Sage Art: Negative Emotional Manipulation: Wrath!"

With a loud growl, Nue opened its mouth and launched a barrage of black bullets around the battlefield, aiming for Jiraiya, Anko, and Gamabunta. The three proceeded to move around the battlefield, effortlessly avoiding the beast's attacks as it continued to try and strike at them. The 'negative emotional energy' bullets continued without stop, but none of Nue's enemies showed any signs of slowing down.

'This thing's more focused than last time. Unlike last time, where it struck indiscriminately, it's now focusing only on us.' Gamabunta noted. 'But that's not going to stop us this time. Especially with Jiraiya and Anko both in Sage Mode.'

As the three continued to avoid Nue's blasts, they started to make their way closer to the chimera. Anko jumped forward, gripping the Shibuki blast-sword tightly as she flew towards its neck.

"Sage Art: Explosive Blade Style: Eruption!"

With an upwards strike, Anko proceeded to slice into Nue's neck, cutting deep into it as the sword embedded senjutsu-enhanced exploding tags into the wound. Nue roared as it proceeded to unleash a singular bomb of 'negative emotional energy' at Anko's body, sending her body flying backwards with a large explosion. She shouted in pain upon making contact with the ground, bleeding heavily from wounds all over her face and her shoulders.

Before Nue could react, however, the exploding tags in its neck detonated, creating a massive explosion that consumed its entire body. Within seconds, its body parts were severed, flying in separate directions.

Jiraiya immediately rushed over to the nearest body part towards him: Nue's snake-like tail. Realization dawned on him as he pulled out a sealing scroll. 'It hasn't regenerated yet!'

"Seal!"

Moving as quick as he could, Jiraiya sealed away Nue's snake-tail. Before he could move onto the next body part, the remaining limbs of Nue floated through the air, converging with one another and reforming Nue.

This time, however, Nue was missing the snake-tail that Jiraiya had sealed away.

'We need to seal its body parts away.' Jiraiya realized his eyes narrowing: 'And it seems like destructive blows with senjutsu stall its regenerating progress. This is it. This is how we defeat it.'

"I almost felt that from where I am at. Your blast-sword is most certainly impressive, Mitarashi-san-" Tanuki's empty praises were silenced for a moment and a gasp escaped Nue's mouth. The creature proceeded to growl as Tanuki began to speak again: "Where is Nue's tail? What the hell did you to my creation?"

"Nothing too damaging. I'm sure you can fix it." Jiraiya said nonchalantly. A grin developed on his face as he watched Nue remain still for a moment, no doubt as Tanuki was indeed focused on 'trying to fix it'. "Well? What's taking so long? Running low on chakra already?"

"Jiraiya… Mitarashi… you two…" Tanuki's voice grew darker as a wave of dark purple chakra surrounded Nue's body: "I won't allow you to ruin my creation!"

"You don't really have any way of stopping us, asshole." Anko said sharply. "Maybe it'll take a bit, but it'll work. Your monster's about to get blown to bits, once and for all!"

Tanuki's only response was to growl through Nue's body before the chimera charged forward once again.


'Goddammit. I… I can't allow this! This can't happen!' Tanuki's mind was racing as panic coursed through his body.

The former ANBU researcher, as he had promised Kido, remained in the abandoned building in Kumo's Business District, hiding in what used to be an administrator's room. The man's eyes were closed, a dark purple seal all around his body as negative emotional energy radiated from his body.

Thanks to the nature of his Summoning, his focus was entirely on Nue. He remained focused, using his energy and chakra to guide his chimera into battle.

'I have spent so much work on Nue! I thought I lost it after Hatake Kakashi used space-time ninjutsu to destroy it, but the Akatsuki leader managed to salvage it! But this… if it falls under Jiraiya's control, then it'll be lost forever, if not destroyed!' Tanuki's breathing grew harder-and-harder as he started to hyper-ventilate: 'I… I've spent so long on making Nue perfect. It… It really is the perfect superweapon! It can't… it can't be taken away from me like this…'

Tanuki's mind started to lose focus briefly as he remembered a time years ago. Shigaraki Tanuki recalled a time when he was a teenager – a newly-appointed chūnin of Konoha, walking around with weak posture – approaching Shimura Danzō in an empty teashop.

The elder was quiet as he was taking a sip from his teacup as he stared intently at Tanuki. The teenager gulped slightly in response.

"I do not take apprentices." Danzō spoke harshly, his eyes narrowing further: "I'm not certain where you got the idea from, but you should go home. I have no need for you."

"I… I'm n-not asking to be a student, Danzō-sama." Tanuki replied, shaking his head. Danzō was quiet for a few seconds, which prompted the boy to respond: "I… I've heard you had a hand in ANBU. I want to join."

"A hand in ANBU?" Danzō shook his head in response: "The Hokage oversees it. You should speak with him." He then set his teacup down as he brought his hands together: "But you've already done that, haven't you? I assume that is why you are speaking to me."

Tanuki was quiet for a moment as he took in another deep breath.

"The Sandaime does not think I'm ready." He admitted.

"You aren't." Danzō nodded his head: "You are too green. You just made chūnin in the last exams, did you not?"

"Th-That's correct…" Tanuki bit his lip in response: "But… I want to help the village more." He looked downward: "I mean, our village was nearly wiped out in the Kyūbi Attack just last week. We lost so many shinobi, so many more injured, and we even lost our Yondaime! And I… I really didn't do anything." He then looked upward again, meeting Danzō's eyes with a determined expression: "I don't want that to ever happen again. I want to be able to fight something like the Kyūbi and keep the village safe!"

"Fight something like the Kyūbi?" Danzō asked, raising an eyebrow: "Do you wish to be a shinobi like our Yondaime?"

"… No." Tanuki answered. Danzō raised his eyebrow further, prompting the chūnin to continue: "Because Namikaze Minato is dead. And because of that, he can't keep the village safe."

"Is it not noble to die for your village?" Danzō asked.

"Not for someone like him." Tanuki shook his head: "With the Yondaime's strength and reputation, he would have kept the village safe and would have functioned as a war deterrent. I have no doubt Iwa would never strike at Konoha when their feared 'Yellow Flash' was in command. Now, though?" His eyes narrowed as he tightened his hands: "He's dead, and our village is weaker because of it. I do not wish to be like that. I want to grow strong to protect our village, and I want to stay alive in order to keep it safe. No matter what."

Danzō was quiet for a moment. After a few seconds passed by, he took another sip of tea before his eyes softened on the boy in front of him.

"Meet me here again tomorrow, at three. No later." The elder stated. Tanuki's eyes widened in response: "Hiruzen is right; you do not have the experience needed to be in ANBU. However, I think you have potential. You certainly have the right beliefs about the importance of keeping Konoha safe. You are not quite there yet, but you can be molded. With the right instruction, I think you have what it takes to do whatever it takes to keep our village safe. I will do what I can to help you grow in that regard."

Immediately, Tanuki's reality turned back to normal. He returned to his position in the abandoned building. He gasped for a second as he tried to calm his breathing.

'Nue was meant to be a superweapon for Konoha… and then the village ruined it. They ruined everything! They betrayed Danzō-sama, and now, Jiraiya is trying to destroy Nue!' Tanuki began to grind his teeth as he channeled more negative emotional energy: 'I can't allow that! Nue needs to fulfill Danzō-sama's will, and it must avenge his death! I need to-'

"Eight Trigrams Sixty-four Palms!"

Tanuki's eyes widened as he was forcibly ripped away from his focus on Nue and returned to reality.

He was now face-to-face with Hyūga Hiashi, who had charged forward at him, striking him with two palm strikes. He was then hit by a barrage of subsequent strikes as he began to choke out blood.

"Two Palms! Four Palms! Eight Palms! Sixteen-palms-"

"Sage Art: Negative Emotion Manipulation: Envy!"

With a gasp of air, Tanuki released a burst of dark purple energy that collided with Hiashi's palm before he could strike again. The resulting attack hit Hiashi hard, knocking him backwards with a force equal to that of his palm strikes. The Hyūga Clan crashed into the wall of the room, hissing in pain.

'It feels like some of my tenketsu were just sealed… not all, but some.' Hiashi grumbled as he pulled himself up: 'I'm not certain how that worked, but I will need to be more careful.'

Tanuki glared intently at the Hyūga Clan head: "Hyūga Hiashi, what are you doing here?"

"Do not ask questions you already know. It's unbecoming." Hiashi replied sharply as he got back into position. "Now, if you would like some personal advice, I would advise dispelling that creature you summoned a moment ago and trying to flee. If you do so, I'm certain you will be able to preserve enough chakra that you might be able to escape me."

"Don't try to threaten me, Hiashi." Tanuki hissed in response: "You do not have the skill to back that up. In actual combat, I will kill you!"

"Are we so certain about that?" Hiashi asked. "Shall we find out?"

'He's distracting me from Nue. I'm not controlling its movements, so it's all going to be remote…' Tanuki grit his teeth in response as he began to concentrate on channeling chakra: 'I'll have to end him quick! I need to focus my energy on Jiraiya!'

With those words, the two shinobi charged at one another.


When the dust settled from Deidara's C3, Shikamaru undid his jutsu as both he and Kurotsuchi took in the sight of the devastation. Their eyes widened.

Deidara's explosion had turned their battlefield – the tight streets of Kumogakure's Residential District, with some toppled and destroyed buildings and greenery – into a twenty-five-meter crater. Residual flames were scattered on the crater where some buildings had once stood, but for the most part, there was not a single thing present in that stretch of land.

'How could one man do so much devastation like that?' Shikamaru wondered, his eyes looking up into the sky with a mixture of horror and anger: 'That bastard…'

"You're shitting me!" Deidara scowled as he lowered the position of his clay owl, bringing both him and Sasori closer to the battlefield: "My specially-made C3 should have had a much larger area of affect! I should have wiped out the whole residential district, at the very least!"

"Perhaps your art isn't as 'destructive' as you claimed." Sasori commented with a shrug. Deidara turned to glare at his partner, but before he could argue back, Sasori continued: "Or perhaps you could think logically for a second and realize that, while her Dust Release did not succeed in preventing your explosion, it most likely affected its strength."

"That… makes sense." Deidara rubbed his chin in thought for a moment before he turned downwards, glaring back at Kurotsuchi: "Just like the Old Man, huh? You're also trying to get in the way and stifle my art."

"'Art' this. 'Art' that." Shikamaru spoke-up, glaring at the blond Akatsuki agent: "This all really is some game to you, isn't it? You don't give a shit about the lives you ruin and kill. All you care about is your artwork."

Deidara snorted in response: "You really trying to guilt me or something? I don't know any of these people, and if anything, I got a bad image of Kumo. Why should I feel guilty about-"

Shikamaru responded by tossing a kunai with an explosive tag in the air directly above his head. Deidara and Sasori tensed-up slightly in response, but the weapon was not aimed even remotely near them.

After a few seconds, Shikamaru made a hand sign and detonated the explosive tag, creating an explosion in the sky. As smoke filled the sky from Shikamaru's explosion, the Nara turned his head back to Deidara, his scowl deepening.

"That was just as magnificent as your 'precious artwork'. And literally anyone can do it." He stated: "All you've been doing is property destruction and terrorism; not art. Call it whatever helps you sleep better at night, but I can tell you for sure that, if it's art, it's nothing special. Anyone can do it after all."

Deidara's eyes widened in response. Sasori chuckled to himself for a moment.

'A little moralistic about it, but he's not wrong-' Sasori's thoughts died on his lips as he noticed the clay owl that he and Deidara were on was starting to fly directly towards Shikamaru and Kurotsuchi. He turned his head to face his partner as he began to hiss: "What are you doing-"

"Nothing special, huh?" Deidara nearly growled out as he pocketed his hands in his bag for a second before quickly pulling them out and clapping them: "Well let's see if you appreciate an up-close look at one of my favorite works of art! Say hello again to my C2!"

Deidara separated his hands together, creating a clay dragon figurine that began to fly ahead of him. The clay dragon quickly grew into a much larger size. It opened its mouth, roaring as it grew closer to Shikamaru and Kurotsuchi.

In response, Shikamaru ran through hand signs: "Summoning Jutsu!"

As the clay dragon began to glow, seemingly about to detonate, Katsuyu appeared in a poof of smoke. The giant slug fell downwards, crushing the clay dragon before it could fully explode. While the dragon did detonate, the explosion was contained and launched into the ground, causing heavy tremors but no other real damage as Katsuyu's body absorbed most of the blast radius.

"Shikamaru-kun, Sando-san mentioned you once summoned him to take a spray of lava for you. I can see you have similar respect for me." Katsuyu replied, shaking her head.

"Apologies, Katsuyu-sama." Shikamaru replied, his eyes narrowing on the slug: "How much of your power did I summon you?"

"Thirty-five percent." She answered.

'Most I've ever done.' Shikamaru took in a deep breath. He briefly glanced over towards Kurotsuchi, who nodded her head, before turning back to face Deidara and Sasori: "Please, assist us in this fight."

"The Boss Summon of the Slug Clan is… problematic to see, to put it as plainly as possible." Sasori noted as he gestured with his thumb, ring, and index fingers: "Our goal should be to contain it."

With Sasori's gestures, the Kitsuchi, Sandaime Kazekage, and Kimimaro puppets proceeded to take action. Pillars of stone and bone rose from the ground and spikes of iron sand flew from the Shirakawa puppet. All three jutsus proceeded to strike at Katsuyu's body, forming a wall of sort around her body, preventing her from easily moving.

'That wouldn't stop Katsuyu-sama, who could just divide into smaller slugs, but I suppose I could help with the progress.' Shikamaru noted as he made a hand sign: "Are you ready, Katsuyu-sama?" The slug nodded her head: "Shadow Slug Catapult!"

Shikamaru's shadow split apart, forming into multiple shadow threads that flew directly at Katsuyu's body through openings in Sasori's attacks. The shadow threads, upon connecting with Katsuyu's body, caused her to split apart, sending tiny slugs into the sky like a catapult, each with a shadow thread still piercing their bodies.

"The hell?" Deidara's eyes widened as he watched the slugs fly above their heads: "This isn't-"

"Deidara, move!" Sasori shouted.

The Iwa missing ninja caused their owl to start flying away from the Katsuyu slug's body, preventing them from being underneath her shadow. Shikamaru scowled in response, which caused Sasori to smirk.

"Clever trick. I imagine at some point, he would have used the slugs' shadows like his own for that Shadow Possession technique." Sasori acknowledged as he gestured with his index and middle fingers: "Not enough, though!"

The Kimimaro and Pakura puppets reacted to Sasori's movements, causing them to attack. The Pakura puppet launched a scorch-release fireball from her hands while Kimimaro charged forward, its arms converting themselves into large, oversized bone drills.

"Dust Release!"

Kurotsuchi, after clapping her hands together, created a three-dimensional cube that surrounded the Scorch Release fireball and detonated, causing the flames to dissipate. The Kimimaro puppet, however, continued its approach as it rushed at her, trying to drive its drill arms into her. The Tsuchikage jumped away, but the Kimimaro puppet proved almost too fast and quickly caught up with her, impaling her in the stomach with its left drill. She began to choke out blood in response.

Before it could plunge the drill on its right arm into her heart, however, Shikamaru sent another wave of shadow threads towards it, grabbing onto the puppet and forcing it back slightly and away from Kurotsuchi.

'He's not using that light barrier technique. No doubt the chakra restrictions of it are starting to take affect. Summoning the Boss Slug most assuredly did not help.' Sasori noted: 'If we keep up the pressure, Deidara and I will surely overwhelm them at this point!'

As Shikamaru focused on holding down the Kimimaro puppet, the Sandaime Kazekage puppet flew forward, large blades forming on its arms. A scowl developed on Shikamaru's face as he pulled down with his right hand, causing a shadow thread to come towards his body and block the puppet's blades.

Quickly, the blade began to overpower the shadow. Before it could pierce it and strike at Shikamaru, however, the Katsuyu slug attached to the shadow thread descended onto the puppet.

Sasori was quick to pull back on his ring finger, forcing the Sandaime Kazekage puppet backwards just in time before the Katsuyu slug could crash into it.

"Sage Art: Shadow Acid!"

The shadow thread connected to the slug began to change color into a red shadow. That Katsuyu slug proceeded to open her mouth and spat, causing the shadow thread to launch forward from her mouth at a faster rate, moving faster than Sasori could pull away.

The acidic shadow connected with the Sandaime Kazekage's chest. Immediately, a red coloration began to form on the Sandaime Kazekage's body before its body parts came falling apart.

'What?' Sasori immediately pulled back with both of his ring fingers, causing the individual pieces of Sandaime Kazekage puppet to rush back to him one after another. As he looked at each of them, he noticed that the red coloration was slowly causing the parts to melt away.

A scowl developed on his face as he pulled out a scroll and sealed the puppet pieces away: 'Hopefully sealing will slow the melting. Damn him. My puppets are designed to withstand fire and other similar forces, but I don't believe I've had the opportunity to test them against acid this potent.' His eyes narrowed on Shikamaru as he began to grit his teeth: 'I'll need to be more careful. If his acid is able to affect my puppets, it might be able to affect my body as well.'

"Well, that's one of his puppets out of commission, at least." Shikamaru said, sighing with relief.

"Only four more to go." Kurotsuchi said sharply as her eyes focused on the Kitsuchi and Ōnoki puppets before turning back to Sasori: "Or we could try and focus on the puppetmaster and end this shit faster!"

"Or you could also stop forgetting that I'm here too!"

Both Kurotsuchi's eyes widened as they noticed Deidara flying their heads, now on a separate clay owl from Sasori. The blond-haired shinobi spat out a deluge of clay that quickly formed into a large clone of Deidara's body.

'That…' Shikamaru's eyes widened at the sight of the clay figure as it continued to grow, growing more-and-more massive. 'Is that… another bomb?'

'This one is even more massive than the last…' Kurotsuchi bit down on her lip: 'How… How are we going to contain this?'

"Fucked around with my C3, hmm? Think my art isn't anything special, hmm?" Deidara grinned as he clapped his hands together: "Well, let me see if, in your last moments, I can change your mind! Say hello to my greatest work of art!

As quick as the Deidara clone formed, it began to glow a bright coloration and expand outward.

"Now, let's end this battle once and for all with a real explosion! CAUSE MY ART IS SOMETHING ONLY I CAN DO! C4!"

Immediately, the giant Deidara clone detonated.


"Tailed Beast Shockwave!"

Hinata jumped as Kido opened his mouth and shouted, creating a massive shockwave that rocketed forward. The shockwave connected with the buildings around the two, causing them to collapse and scatter debris. The Hyūga then continued to dodge as Kido continued to launch more-and-more shockwaves.

'What's his aim? This jutsu is keeping me away from him, but I doubt that's what he's trying to do.' Hinata's eyes narrowed on Kido. While the man continued to shout, releasing more shockwaves, she noticed him bend down to the ground and place his right hand onto the ground: 'Wait-'

"Lightning Release: Tiger Scissors!"

The ground underneath Hinata's feet opened -up, revealing a large, glowing beartrap made from lightning. Hinata tried to jump away in time, but the beartrap sent out a massive burst of electricity, electrocuting her and paralyzing her.

"Fun fact about this jutsu you are facing. While it normally requires it to be set in a particular location and is more of a trap that I need to hope I can spring on someone, thanks to the influence of the Kyūbi's chakra, I am able to 'summon' it based entirely on remnants of my chakra scattered around the battlefield." Kido explained, a grin on his face as he snapped his fingers, causing another wave of electricity to rush through the beartrap. Hinata screamed in response, causing his grin to widen: "Thankfully all that scattered debris is covered with my chakra."

Hinata bit down on her lip as she watched Kido channel chakra into his mouth, creating a massive black orb of bijū chakra.

'I… I don't know how to get out of this…' Hinata grumbled to herself. She watched Kido's bijūdama start to grow further in size before she began to channel chakra into her mouth: 'I'm not going to get out of this beartrap in time. So I need to see… is it possible to make him miss?'

"Bijū-"

"Sage Art: White Rage Technique!"

Hinata spat out a red dragon from her mouth that was gripping onto an orb in its hand. Immediately after being summoned, the dragon coiled on itself and began to screech and glow, creating overwhelming noise and light sensation throughout the battlefield.

"AGH!" Kido's eyes widened. A growl escaped his lips as he staggered slightly before he launched the Bijūdama forward.

The jutsu flew towards Hinata's position, only barely missing her. Instead, the bijūdama collided with a part of the 'spikes' of the electrical beartrap, causing the lightning to dissipate.

Immediately, Hinata was freed. She took in a deep breath as she adjusted her body. Her eyes slitted more as she took more of the appearance of a snake, causing herself to block out the light stimulation. She also channeled natural energy into her ears, creating a blockade the repelled the senjutsu chakra from her own attack.

With a defiant look on her face, Hinata charged forward at Kido, her arms becoming encased in blue-chakra shrouds that resembled lions' heads.

"Gentle Step Twin Lion Fists!"

Kido attempted to block Hinata's oncoming attack, but the sensory overload prevented it from recognizing where her strike was coming from; Hinata landed a punch directly to his face. He growled in pain, his nose cracking as Hinata pulled her fist backwards.

'That punch… is it draining my chakra?' Kido nearly growled as he began to channel chakra into his body: "Nine-Tails Burst!"

Channeling his artificial-bijū's chakra through all of his chakra points, Kido sent out a massive burst of chakra that connected with Hinata before she could punch at him again. The resulting attack sent her flying backwards.

"Bijūdama!"

"Bijūdama!"

"Bijūdama!"

Kido proceeded to spin around in a circle as he began to launch bijūdama after bijūdama in an unorganized fashion, striking at everything around him. Hinata barely had to move to avoid all the blasts. One of the bijūdama, however, managed to connect with Hinata's 'White Rage' snake, causing it to explode upon impact and finally ending the light-and-sound sensations.

With the sensation finally ended, Kido ended his constant use of the bijūdama. Taking in a deep breath, he took a step backwards, placing further distance between himself and Hinata.

"I was unaware that you have a jutsu that can drain chakra. What a nuisance of an ability to fight against." Kido acknowledged.

"Are you concerned that I'd be able to drain all of the bijū chakra from your body?" Hinata asked, her eyes narrowing as she gripped her bow tightly: "That if you were to lose the bijū's chakra, you wouldn't have anything?"

Kido glared in response, but shook his head: "No, but it is unsurprising to see a Hyūga make such an assumption about me. Your clan is based around on classist prejudices, so naturally you think someone not born with natural talent is useless."

"I never said that." Hinata said, a frown developing on her face: "All I said was-"

"You don't have to say it. I just know the type of person you are. The type of people your clan is." Kido said sharply. Hinata's eyes narrowed further, but he continued before she could speak: "Your clan reminded me of the noble class from my home village. Your family is filled with they type of people who would walk past a starving, dying child without a second thought."

"Don't make such accusations!" Hinata's frown turned to into a scowl: "I'm not like that! Nor is my father, cousin, sister, or anyone! The Hyūga is-"

"Were you about to say different?" Kido interrupted, shaking his head again: "No, they're not. And just because your clan has only one 'seal' does not change that fact. Fixing your clan's own internal problems does not change the fact that your clan is filled with smug, traditionalist, holier-than-thou men and women who do not understand a thing about the world."

"… Is there a purpose to this?" Hinata asked, her grip on her bow tightening: "I obviously don't see things your way, and I doubt I can convince you otherwise. You don't seem the type to just rant for no reason-"

Hinata's eyes widened slightly as she jumped into the air just in time as another lightning bear trap formed in the ground. She proceeded to fly through the air until she landed on top of a fallen roof. Her eyes narrowed once again.

"You're not going to distract me so easily like that." She said sharply.

"I would hope not. It would be a shame, after the fight you've put up, if you died that easily." Kido replied as he made a hand sign: "However, I really should be ending this. So, my apologies, but I'm going to cut this short Shadow Clone Jutsu"

A poof of smoke filled the area. Within seconds, the entire ground was filled with a hundred Kido clones.

'I've never seen anyone other than Naruto-kun make this many clones… Ah.' Her eyes widened in understanding: 'I suppose with bijū chakra, he would have the reserves to make as many as Naruto-kun.'

"It's the end, Hyūga Hinata." Kido stated as his clones all started to channel black chakra in their mouths in unison: "Time to die! Bijūdama!"


"God… dammit…" Karui grit her teeth.

She, along with Omoi, Samui, and the Team Ten Konoha shinobi, were rushing through the burning streets of Kumogakure as fast as they could, looking for any medical shinobi they could find. The only shinobi they continued to find, however, were engaged in combat with other Akatsuki affiliates. It was a struggle making it through the streets without getting in the crossfires of the fights.

As they continued to move, Hidan's 'decomposition' jutsu was started to spread further on their bodies. Their strength grew weaker and weaker as the necrotic tissue began to spread. After a few minutes of running, the six were forced to walk, and even that was strenuous for them.

"We're going to die… we're really going to die…" Omoi mumbled to himself. "Going out so slowly… what a pathetic way to-"

"Omoi-san, be quiet." Shino interrupted, taking in a deep breath: "Your whining is only making it worse."

Omoi bit his lip in response as he shook his head: "Whining-"

"He's right. Omoi, cool yourself." Samui stated sharply.

'He's right, though, that if we continue like this, we're going to die.' Ino noted, taking in a deep breath. She took a few steps forward and made six hand signs. The Yamanaka then brought her hands to her head: "Mind Transmission Jutsu!"

Within a few seconds, Ino's mind linked to all shinobi within a four kilometer radius whose chakra signatures she recognized. Her allies' eyes widened as the image of their location entered their mind.

"Attention! This is Yamanaka Ino, heiress to the Yamanaka Clan! If any medical shinobi sees this, please get over here now. My allies, including two other Konoha shinobi and three Kumo shinobi, and I are in mortal damage. Please, come quick!"

"Oi, what the-"

Immediately, the image disappeared from everyone's minds. Ino immediately fell to her knees and her breathing grew heavy.

"D-Dammit." She grumbled, closing her eyes to fight off the pain: "Guess this jutsu is affecting me too much… I couldn't even hold the jutsu for more than a second or two."

"That message…" Samui's eyes narrowed in on her fellow blonde: "That went to any shinobi within a certain radius, correct? So, is it safe to assume that enemy shinobi could have heard that?"

Ino shook her head: "I… I tried to minimize the chance of that, so I only sent it to chakra signatures I recognized running across during my time here." She bit down on her lip: "Here's… hoping that at least one of them was a medic."

Conversation ended as the group remained still, waiting. After two minutes of waiting, the six shinobi started to feel the necrotic tissue spreading further on their bodies. They all hissed as they fell to their knees one after another.

'I'm not able to get up. I… doubt they're able to either.' Chōji closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath: 'Dad, I'm sorry. I won't be able to see you-'

"Paint Fūinjutsu: Healing Canvas!"

Healing chakra washed over Chōji's body for a moment. He opened his eyes to see that green, visible chakra was rushing over his and his allies' bodies. He then turned his head to face two redheaded shinobi, one from Konoha and the other from Kusa.

"Uzumaki Susumu…" Shino's eyes focused on the Konoha shinobi for a moment before moving towards the Kusa shinobi: "And you… you're Naruto's cousin as well, correct?"

"Yep. Uzumaki Karin." Karin stated, her eyes narrowing on the group: "Now, what the actual fuck happened to all of you? You all look like living corpses, and I mean that literally!"

"It was a jutsu from one of the Akatsuki agents…" Samui spoke-up, taking in a deep breath as she tried to pull herself up. She succeeded, but quickly fell back to the ground: "D-Damn."

"Please, stay still." Susumu pleaded, shaking his head: "I'm only marginally treating the wounds. Treating this decay is going to take a lot longer."

"Which is why I got to start my treatment." Karin grumbled as she took a seat on the ground.

Before anyone could say anything to her, Karin held out her right hand, releasing six separate adamantine sealing chains. The chains quickly grabbed onto all three members of Team Ten and the three Kumo shinobi, pulling them all directly next to her.

"Shit, that hurts!" Karui hissed.

"Wh-What was that for?" Ino asked.

"I just watched one of you all fall over. I'm not going to waste time waiting for you all to stumble towards me." Karin replied as she pulled up her long-sleeve shirt. "Alright, so let's get this over with. I need all six of you to bite me."

Silence filled the air for a moment.

"… What?" Chōji finally spoke-up, blinking in response.

Karin sighed, adjusting her glasses slightly: "You heard me correctly. My body has a strong natural life force that I inherited from my direct ancestry. The best way I can put it is that if you bite me, it'll spread that life force to you all and help your healing process!"

"… This sounds like entrapment." Omoi mumbled. "If we bite you, then we'll be-"

"You all are fucking decomposing!" Karin shouted, causing him to yelp: "You don't have time to be stupid! So get this shit over with and bite me already!"

Her words were met with no resistance as all six started to bite down on Karin's skin, while Susumu continued to try and heal their wounds with his own chakra.


"Chidori Arrow!"

The Susanoo around Sasuke's body started to glow for a second before it manifested a large longbow in its hands. Within seconds, the Susanoo – and its longbow – were encased in lightning.

Sasuke pulled his hand back, causing the Susanoo to launch an arrow of pure lightning from the Susanoo at a rapid speed. The arrow collided with Orochimaru's body before the Sannin could react, causing it to explode, reducing it to dust.

With the Sannin's body destroyed, Sakura was let go. She landed safely on the ground just as the thousands of snakes on the ground disappeared, having been dissipated.

'What a destructive amount of force.' Manda's eyes narrowed on Sasuke in interest: 'How rare to see a human possess such skill. He has an inherent strength that I would respect him if he were a summoner of my clan.'

A few seconds passed by before the dust began to form once more. Sasuke scowled as his Sharingan began to pulsate, using Amaterasu.

Orochimaru reformed and moved quickly to avoid the black-flames. His eyes briefly focused on the flames as they followed him before turning to face Sasuke.

"You've grown quite strong, Sasuke-kun. Why, in normal circumstances, I think that arrow might have been enough to kill me. Unfortunately, this isn't a normal circumstance." Orochimaru noted as he made a hand sign. A malicious grin developed on his face as he began to channel an extensive amount of chakra: "This is my new beginning!"

Before Sasuke could properly respond, his eyes widened as his curse mark began to pulsate: "ARGH!"

The Uchiha hissed loudly as he fell to his knees. His Susanoo began to flicker, briefly turning intangible every few seconds, before it finally collapsed. As the Susanoo finally faded away, the curse mark on Sasuke's neck began to glow a dark orange color as black markings began to form for a moment before receding.

"Sasuke-kun!" Sakura's eyes widened in horror.

"What… the hell… is happening?" He growled out.

"This is something I wouldn't be capable of doing to Anko-chan. After all, her curse mark is old and was implemented back when I was still experimenting with my sealing arts." Orochimaru chuckled to himself: "But you, however? Your curse mark is only three years old, is it not? And it was placed on you when my skill with fūinjutsu was at its peak!"

Sasuke continued to hiss in pain, his hands gripping onto his neck tight enough that he was affecting his own breathing. The cursed seal makings continued to spread over his body before receding in a forwards-backwards motion. Periodically, Sasuke's skin color would turn grey in color and appendages began to slowly form in Sasuke's back.

"How often did you use my Cursed Seal of Heaven, Sasuke-kun? One or two times? Maybe not even once, hmm?" Orochimaru wondered as he took a few steps closer, his chuckling growing louder: "I've been told it's difficult to process sometimes if you didn't grow accustomed to it. Right now, at the rate its spreading, its overwhelming, isn't it?"

Again, Sasuke said nothing. Finally, the curse marks fully spread over his body. Sasuke's skin-coloration turned grey entirely and the appendages on his back continued to form, turning into wings. His howling in pain continued to grow louder-and-louder.

Orochimaru continued to walk over towards Sasuke's body, grinning the entire way: 'His mind can't process my chakra flooding into his bloodstream like this. Him not using my mark at all worked to my favor, since he has no way of controlling it.' Orochimaru smirked as he finally reached Sasuke's body. He then reached forward for Sasuke's neck: 'In this state, he won't fight back. Now, I can finally be reborn-'

"Fūinjutsu: World Crusher!"

Before Orochimaru could begin his jutsu, Sakura jumped forward at him, attempting to punch at him with her strength-enhanced fist. Orochimaru jumped away in time, causing Sakura's fist to collide with the ground instead, causing debris to scatter around the battlefield as a massive crater formed in its place. A scowl developed on Orochimaru's face as Sakura stood between him and Sasuke, cracking her knuckles.

"I won't let you lay a finger on him." She stated.

"You are not strong enough to stop me." Orochimaru said sharply, his eyes narrowing on her: "I may have complimented you a moment ago, but you are not on my level yet, Sakura-chan."

"Yeah, well let's find out, shall we?" She stated as she made a hand sign: 'Fūinjutsu: Illusion Flames Jutsu!'

In a moment, both Sakura's body and Sasuke's body exploded in a sea of pink flames that spread throughout the battlefield. Orochimaru's eyes narrowed as he made a hand sign. A moment passed by, but the pink-flames stayed on the battlefield.

'This genjutsu she's using is being augmented by something. But what?' Orochimaru bit down on his lip as he noticed the pink flames approaching him. He allowed some of the flames to connect with his body. Some passed through his body, as he expected, but one flame, upon connecting with his body, ignited, causing him to catch on fire. 'Some of these are real flames. Intriguing jutsu, however…'

"Manda!" He called out.

The Boss Snake Summon glared in response, but nodding his head as he slammed his tail into the ground, creating a massive crater – larger than the one Sakura created – and scattering debris haphazardly. The debris collided with the remaining flames, extinguishing the real ones.

As the ground continued to shake from Manda's strike, Sakura was forced out of the ground, holding Sasuke's still-twitching body. A grin developed on Orochimaru's force as he charged forward at her. He snapped his fingers, causing the Kusanagi sword to fly back to him. He gripped it tightly as he rushed forward them.

"Fūinjutsu: Thick Skin!"

Before Orochimaru could plunge the Kusanagi into Sakura's body, her body resisted, as if his blade collided with a shield. He then opened his mouth, causing his tongue to rush out and surround her neck. He tried to grab onto it tightly, but he could not get a good grip onto it; it felt as if her neck was somehow resisting.

'What exactly is she-' Orochimaru's eyes widened as his tongue had pushed upwards on the collar of her top, revealing the trace of a sealing tag on her shoulder: 'Ah, clever girl!'

A grin developed on his face as he pulled the Kusanagi sword backwards and sheathed it. He then brought his hands together.

"You're not going to get me again like that, Orochimaru." Sakura scowled in response as she gripped her fist tightly: "You won't get past me-"

"Five Pronged Seal!"

The fingers on Orochimaru's left hand became encased in purple flames. He quickly reached for her shoulder, slamming the seal directly onto the sealing tag.

"What-" Pain quickly traversed through Sakura's body: "AGGGH-"

Sakura's screaming was cut short as her body lose its protection. Her neck, no longer protected by her seal, was easily silenced as Orochimaru's tongue began to strangle her once again. Her eyes and body twitched as a seal began to form on her shoulder around the sealing tag on it that connected with her skin.

"What an interesting seal you made for body augmentation." Orochimaru noted with a chuckle: "Makes for an interesting gimmick. I'm certain that you might be able to take a few shinobi by surprise with it. However, I am not one of them." His eyes then narrowed as he gripped Kusanagi once more: "Now, die already-"

"CHIDORI!"

Before he could plunge Kusanagi into Sakura's body, Sasuke charged forward with a massive Chidori that was black in coloration. Sasuke impaled Orochimaru's chest with the lightning before aiming downwards, pinning the snake down.

"What-"

Before he could continue his sentence, Sasuke's eyes pulsated: "AMATERASU!"

Rings of black fire began to form around Orochimaru's hands and feet. The flames, however, did burn his skin off, but functioned as bindings, pinning the Sannin down. Orochimaru growled as he struggled to pull himself up, but he was unable to.

Immediately, Orochimaru's grip on Sakura's body came undone, causing her to return to the ground once again. She began to breathe heavily, her body struggling to relax as she tried to focus on the scene in front of her.

"You… I can feel you. Your chakra is rushing through my veins." Sasuke stated sharply, his eyes narrowing as he felt a darkness rush through his body that was intoxicating. Almost overwhelming. He took in a deep breath as he focused his glare intently on Orochimaru: "I assume you were wanting to use it. There's so much chakra of yours in my body, I bet you could have revived yourself."

"You… Y-You…" Orochimaru grit his teeth in response: "What are you-"

"It was overwhelming when you first triggered it. And it still is. I can hear your disturbing whispers in my ear right now, telling me to free you. Promising me more power if I free you." Sasuke stated. His glare tightened as he dug his Chidori further into Orochimaru's skin. More dust began to scatter, but Sasuke kept his Chidori embedded where it was, now allowing the rest of his body to be destroyed yet: "Hilarious. You thought you'd be able to control me at one point, didn't you?"

"D-Damn brat…" Orochimaru growled in response.

"Maybe in a different life, you could have. Maybe in a different time, I would have needed your power. Maybe I would have seen you as useful." Sasuke acknowledged. In a moment, the grey-colored skin returned to normal and the wings vanished, causing him to return to normal: "However, I know better right now. I'm already plenty strong and I'll continue to grow stronger on my own, without the help of a monster like you!"

He then turned his attention to his teammate: "Sakura, get the sealing scroll!"

Despite her current state, Sakura nodded her head as she pulled out the necessary scroll and began to unravel it.

'No… not like this…' Orochimaru grit his teeth before turning to face Manda: "MANDA!"

The Boss Summon stared at Orochimaru for a moment.

He recalled Orochimaru summoning him to face off against Jiraiya and Ōnoki as nothing more than a distraction so that he could flee. The snake's eyes narrowed in response before he shook his head, causing Orochimaru's eyes to widen.

"You are no summoner of the Snake Clan. The only summoner I recognize is Yakushi Kabuto." Manda stated sharply: "Now, this time, stay dead."

With a poof of smoke, Manda disappeared, returning back to Ryūchi Cave. And with his disappearance, Orochimaru's only hope at survival was gone.

'No. No! It can't end like this!' Orochimaru began to twitch in response as a shiver rushed through his body as he watched Sakura surround his body in the sealing scroll: 'I REFUSE TO LET IT END LIKE THIS! I AM NOT LIKE YOU! YOU CAN'T SEAL ME LIKE THIS-'

His internal screaming was cut-off as the scroll quickly surrounded his body and the sealing process was finished.

As he had planned, Orochimaru's tenure as an Edo Tensei has finally come to an end, but not in the way he had intended. His soul was now stuck in the afterlife once and for all.


Deidara's C4 Clone detonated in an explosion that was self-contained, only causing the clone to simply fall apart. Both Shikamaru and Kurotsuchi stared forward for a moment, waiting for something to occur.

'This isn't right. He wouldn't have hyped a jutsu up like that only for nothing to happen.' Shikamaru's eyes narrowed as he brought his hands together into the 'monkey' hand sign, prepared to activate Holy Barrier once again: 'Are the bombs invisible-'

"AH!" Kurotsuchi's eyes widened in response as she noticed something approaching them: "Dust Release!"

Kurotsuchi clapped his hands together before she proceeded to unleash microscopic orbs from her fingertips forward.

To the plain eye, it appeared as if she was firing randomly around her. However, as the orbs flew forward, they connected with 'something', causing a massive detonation.

"You can see them?" Deidara's eyes narrowed in response: "… I suppose that makes sense. Your fucking kekkei tōta is based on microscopic elements, so I guess your eye must be trained to see shit like this."

Kurotsuchi did not respond to Deidara's attempts to get a rise out of her, instead channeling her energy into her jutsu.

Deidara's C4 clone had sent out literal thousands of microscopic bombs. And it was taking all of her concentration to destroy them before they could get closer to her or Shikamaru.

The battlefield became encased with so much smoke as each of the microscopic bombs were detonated, completely obfuscating Shikamaru's vision. It also caused Kurotsuchi to tense-up as it became more-and-more difficult to see the bombs.

'I need to be able to help as well-' Shikamaru's eyes widened as a pinkish orb of fire rushed through the smoke directly at Kurotsuchi: "Sage Art: Shadow Thread Jutsu!"

Creating shadow threads, Shikamaru sent them up into the sky directly at the oncoming fireball and redirecting it into the sky, where it detonated, raining pinkish fire down onto the battlefield. Shikamaru then went back to the 'monkey hand sign', creating a holy barrier that covered his and Kurotsuchi's body. The flames, however, did connect with the multiple Katsuyu slugs, causing a few of them to hiss as they started to melt.

"K-Katsuyu-sama!" Shikamaru called out.

Within seconds, the slugs rushed back together once more, forming in Katsuyu's full form. The Boss Summon shook her head, her eyes narrowed at the raining melting fire.

"I don't recall every facing such destructive enemies at any point." Katsuyu admitted, shaking her head: "The longer this battle goes on, the more of a disadvantage you all are at."

'It's been like that all fight. Especially since I'm running through so much chakra keeping up the Holy Barrier as long as I have been, despite Sage Mode' Shikamaru clenched his fists in response: 'It's only going to get worse. We need to take this on the offensive! One of those two has to die already!' His eyes then narrowed on Kurotsuchi, who despite the Holy Barrier still active on her, was still fighting against Deidara's C4 microbombs: 'And I think that Deidara is the one whose blowing through his chakra the most, as well as the one most likely to make a mistake we can capitalize on. Sasori's too careful, but Deidara… I think-' He shook his head: 'No, we can kill him now!'

"Katsuyu-sama, I need your assistance." He requested as he jumped away from Kurotsuchi's side and headed towards the Boss Summon Slug: "I need to have two slugs attached to my body, and then I need to get launched up into the sky towards the Akatsuki members. After that, I'm going to need you to launch more slugs into the sky."

Katsuyu nodded her head as two smaller slugs detached from her head and climbed up Shikamaru's body, one connecting to his back while the other climbed onto his shoulder: "Are you ready?"

He nodded his head: "Yes."

The Boss Slug lowered her head before launching it back upwards, catapulting Shikamaru up into the sky, flying through the smoke and causing him to fly through the air directly above Deidara's and Sasori's positions.

Sasori's eyes narrowed as he tightened his grip on his puppet strings. Immediately, his four puppets stiffened, with his Ōnoki puppet starting to form a three-dimensional cube between its hands.

'Shikamaru took in a deep breath as he clapped his hands together: "Sage Art: Shadow Thread Jutsu!"

On cue, Shikamaru's shadow flew from his body downward, directly towards the clay owl that Deidara was flying on. The Iwa missing ninja proceeded to fly away before the shadow thread could connect with either him or the owl.

"Ha! Is that the best-" Deidara's eyes widened as he looked back through the smoke: "What… the…"

As Shikamaru had ordered, more-and-more Katsuyu slugs were being launched through the air at different angles and flying towards both Sasori and Deidara.

"Acid Slime!"

In unison, all Katsuyu slugs proceeded to spew out large quantities of acid from each of their mouths directly down at both Sasori and Deidara. The two Akatsuki members proceeded to fly away, avoiding the attacks. Sasori gripped his puppet strings tightly, causing the Kimimaro puppet and Pakura puppet to start firing off bone bullets and scorch-release-enhanced fireballs at the slugs while Deidara created more clay birds. Before their jutsus could connect with any of the slugs, however, the bodies of each individual slug became covered in shadow.

'What?' Sasori's eyes narrowed. His eyes then turned to Shikamaru's position, who was still freefalling in the sky, his right hand was now touching the Katsuyu slug on his shoulder, channeling chakra into it: 'Can a jutsu he casts on one slug impact all of them?' His eyes then widened as he noticed Shikamaru's body was no longer encased in the 'holy barrier': 'He let down his jutsu!'

With a grin on his face, Sasuke gestured with his left pinkie finger. The Ōnoki puppet finished creating a three-dimensional cube in its hands before it launched it directly at Shikamaru's body.

Shikamaru's eyes narrowed as the cube rapidly approached him while he continued to freefall. He tightened his grip on the Katsuyu slug before throwing her upward, directly at Deidara's position. The Akatsuki member, again, flew away in time to avoid the attack. As Katsuyu flew directly by him, Shikamaru switched into a different hand sign.

"Sage Art: Shadow Thread Variation Jutsu: Grasp of the Underworld!"

On cue, all the Katsuyu slugs freefalling in the sky released shadow threads that all honed in on the highest Katsuyu slug and, by proxy, Deidara.

The Iwagakure missing ninja tried to fly away in time, but the shadows moved too quickly from too many different directions; within seconds, Deidara and his clay owl were latched onto it and dragged down into the ground.

"A-ARGH!" He growled out.

In addition to bringing Deidara downward, the shadow threads also brought all of the smaller slugs together once more, forming into the larger body of Katsuyu once more. The Boss Summon Slug's body began to freefall much more rapidly as it rushed through the sky towards Deidara's body, keeping it trapped in the shadows as it moved to crush him.

'Almost got him. We-' Shikamaru's thoughts were interrupted as the Ōnoki puppet's three-dimensional cube. 'Dammit! Katsuyu-sama, you better be able to finish it.' He bit his lip as he finally went back to the monkey hand sign: "Sage Art: Holy Barrier Jutsu!"

"Dust Style: Atomic Dismantling Jutsu!"

"Shadow Slug Burial!"

A bright light surrounded Shikamaru's body just as Ōnoki's Dust Release exploded. Simultaneously, Katsuyu crashed onto Deidara's body before hitting the ground, creating a massive crater that scattered debris everywhere.

"A-ARGH!" Kurotsuchi shouted as the shockwave from Katsuyu's fall was felt throughout the battlefield, forcing her off her feet. 'What the hell…'

As Kurotsuchi finally composed herself, she noticed that the microbombs had finally seceded. Deidara's jutsu was finally over. Before she could sigh in relief, she noticed that the 'holy barrier' around her body had also faded.

Her eyes widened in horror as she rushed forward: "Shikamaru!"

The dust finally seceded a few seconds. With the Ōnoki puppet's jutsu finally stopped, the cube was destroyed and opened-up, revealing the falling figure of Shikamaru's body. Kurotsuchi rushed forward towards him, grabbing onto falling body.

Shikamaru's body was covered in burns from the explosion of Ōnoki's jutsu, but his 'holy barrier' jutsu protected both him and the Katsuyu slug from being atomized. His eyes flickered on Kurotsuchi for a moment before they closed, falling unconscious.

'He's… he's still alive…' She noted, biting her lip: 'But I don't think I've ever felt such a lack of chakra in a person before…'

The Katsuyu slug on his back came to the same realization. She proceeded to squirm up his body, latching onto his neck – the first bit of open skin she could reach.

"Make sure he never uses that Holy Barrier technique so liberally again." Katsuyu stated: "Shikamaru-kun's body is injured heavily, but more seriously, he is so close to dying from chakra exhaustion. If he wasn't in Sage Mode, he would have died." She shook her head, cutting off Kurotsuchi before she could speak: "I'm funneling as much chakra as I can into him, but he'll need medical treatment immediately. You need to him get him to someone… or at the very least, keep him safe while I try and preserve his chakra network to the best of my abilities."

"I… I understand." Kurotsuchi nodded her head: "We-"

Her words died as a large explosion sounded throughout the area. Both Kurotsuchi and Katsuyu turned their attention towards the much larger Katsuyu slug.

The slug had been detonated, causing the body to burst into tiny slugs. The majority of those flying slugs were forced to dissipate, returning back to Shikkotsu Forest while only a few remained. As the explosion finally subsided, Deidara was revealed.

The Akatsuki member's body was covered in burns and bruises and his cloak was reduced to ashes. Immediately upon taking a single step, his body collapsed to the floor. He tried to drag himself forward, but he was unable to move even on the ground. He then reached for his shirt to pull it off. He managed to pull it off, revealing stitching over his chest. He tried to reach for the stitching and to open it, but the bones in his arms finally gave out, and his body collapsed, his arms going to his side.

"D-Dammit… c-can't reach it. Can't use my final explosion." He growled out, his eyes starting to water slightly in frustration: "Can't even go out in a bang… what a goddamn waste…" His eyes then moved upward towards Sasori, who was still flying on Deidara's clay owl: "OI! Sasori no Danna!"

The Sunagakure missing ninja's clay bird flew without his own volition; within seconds, the owl flew down to Deidara's side. Sasori jumped off the bird as he looked down at his partner.

"I'm… yeah. This is it. I'm not blind, hmm. You… guess you were right about your art versus mine. Mine fizzled out…" He grit his teeth for a moment as he looked at Sasori's puppets, his eyes focusing on the Ōnoki puppet: "You… I changed my mind… I want my art… to last forever…"

Sasori's eyes widened in response before a small smile developed on his lips. He pulled out a sealing scroll: "I can make that happen."

"You better…" Deidara stated as he looked back over at Kurotsuchi. His eyes then narrowed on the unconscious Shikamaru in her arms: "Now… show those heathens… the meaning of true art…"

With those words, Deidara succumbed to his injuries and closed his eyes permanently. Immediately, Sasori sealed-up his body, pocketing the scroll.

'You came around… I suppose it's fitting. In your last moments, you realized what's truly important about art.' Sasori noted, gripping the scroll tightly: 'I promise you, Deidara, I will make your puppet my finest work of art. That is my promise to you, from one artist to another.' He then turned his head to face Kurotsuchi as a grin developed on his face: 'But that wish of yours can wait. I suppose I need to focus on your other wish first.'

Kurotsuchi sat Shikamaru's body down on the ground. She took in a deep breath as Katsuyu continued to focus on supplying Shikamaru's body with chakra.

"Katsuyu-sama, if you would, please have one of your other slugs search for any medical shinobi to help him." Kurotsuchi pleaded. Her eyes narrowed on Sasori's figure: "I'll keep this asshole at bay for now."

"Kurotsuchi…" Katsuyu nodded her head as one of her slugs proceeded to squirm off as fast as she could. The slug on Shikamaru's body stared intently at her: "Be careful."

"I will be." She nodded her head as her expression tightened.

She then watched as Sasori sent his Kitsuchi and Kimimaro puppets forward towards her


"Kanzeon Lotus King!"

Within seconds, a massive wooden statue with a wooden frame around its back and head and multiple wooden hands – numerous smaller lands closer to the main body and six larger arms that extended well past the main body – formed behind Obito's body.

"That statue…" Yagura's eyes widened in horror: "I… I recognize that… that's one of Senju Hashirama's most infamous techniques…"

"No." Rōshi shook his head: "It's inspired by it, but I've heard stories of the Shodai Hokage's jutsu long ago, when there were still shinobi alive at the same time as him. This feels a much smaller scope of his jutsu; not his."

"Do you really want to compare my jutsu to his?" Obito asked, snorting slightly as he shook his head: "Why don't I give you a taste of what it's capable of? All is Suffering!"

From on top of the wooden statue, five smaller heads formed and opened their mouths, releasing five elemental blasts – one fire, one water, one earth, one wind, and one lightning – downward into the ground. The jinchūriki and Kakashi all jumped away as the five blasts connected with the earth, causing the ground to explode once more and sending another wave of debris around.

'This poor stadium. At the rate of this destruction, I don't think it'll be fixable in my lifetime-' Yugito bit down on her lip, shaking her head as she turned her attention back to the statue: 'Not the time for that!'

As the jinchūriki started to steady themselves, the giant wooden statue two of its larger hands together before the smaller hands started to elongate, launching themselves at the jinchūriki and Kakashi. The nine rushed through the battlefield as the hands collided with the ground. More-and-more hands followed suit, forcing them to keep on their feet.

"This thing was made with Wood Release, right?" Naruto asked. "Maybe we can counter with fire?"

Yagura shook his head: "Fire release never was known to be effective against your Shodai, Naruto."

"Against the Shodai Hokage, yes, but that's to be seen against this asshole." Naruto stated, his eyes narrowing on Obito's body: "He's using Wood Release because he has Senju Hashirama's DNA in him, right? Well, I'd say that should make his jutsus a lot weaker than his! So let's see how good they are against lots of heat-"

"Shinra Tensei!"

Before Naruto could finish his statement, a massive gravitational force crashed into the bodies of all the jinchūriki and Kakashi, sending each of them flying backwards.

"Mud Style: Mud Entrapment!"

All nine crashed into the ground as mud hands rose from the ground, latching onto their limbs and preventing them from moving.

"What the…" Fū hissed as she tried to pull herself up.

"Someone else, keep it up." Kabuto stated sharply as he continued to channel chakra. Immediately, the mud hands tightened their grips on their opponents. "Their endurance can only take so much."

"Thank you for stating the obvious, Kabuto." Obito snorted in response. Kabuto frowned in response, but Obito already turned away, facing the Asura Path: "Your time to shine."

The Asura Path nodded its head before it took a step forward, opening its hands, revealing launching pads for missiles.

'We're damned if we can't get up.' Utakata bit down on his lip as he concentrated on the Rokubi's chakra, affecting the pH of his skin. To his frustration, the mud hands on his body were not affected: 'Come on, dammit! Melt!'

Utakata's skin began to turn into a brighter red color as his body's natural pH grew more-and-more acidic. The Asura Path finally launched its missiles at each of the jinchūriki's bodies. Utakata grit his teeth as his skin turned a deep darker color, his natural pH registering at zero.

Finally, with his body at its most acidic, the mud arms melted away. Freeing himself, Utakata pulled himself off the ground and reached for his pipe before taking in a deep breath.

"Water Style: Soap Bubble: True Acid!"

Utakata breathed out a series of red soap bubbles that flew through the air towards the oncoming missiles. The bubbles made contact with the missiles, causing them to melt away instantly, before they continued to fly through the air towards the Asura Path.

'Mud's chemical composition does not melt easily.' Kabuto's eyes narrowed on the oncoming red bubbles: 'How acidic is that jutsu of his?'

In response to Kabuto's thoughts, Utakata turned around and breathed out a series of red soap bubbles once again. Each bubble connected with the mud appendages holding down his fellow jinchūriki and Kakashi, freeing them.

"We can't afford to be careless." Utakata said sharply as he turned his attention back to the Asura Path: "Keep up the force, you all. We can't let them overpower us."

Obito's giant Kanzeon Statue brought several hands down, trying to intercept the red bubbles, but the bubbles floated with the air, avoiding them. They continued to float towards the Asura Path, but before they could connect, the Preta Path jumped in the way and held out its hands, creating a barrier that absorbed the acid.

"That thing absorbs techniques, hmm?" Kakashi observed, his Mangekyō Sharingan narrowing on the Preta Path.

"That may be true, but taijutsu is something it can't undo." Bee stated as he tightened his position: "Utakata's right, we need to be more aggro. So allow me to bring that thing to the gallows!"

With those words, Killer Bee launched himself forward, jumping forward at the Preta Path. As he approached the body, Obito brought his hands downward, causing the wooden statue to bring more hands downward at Bee. The Hachibi jinchūriki jumped back to avoid the strike only for Obito to bring his hands into a 'monkey' hand sign. More hands rushed forward, surrounding Bee's body.

"You're not getting through-"

"RAIKIRI!"

Obito's eyes narrowed as Kakashi charged forward at the hands with lightning surrounding both of his hands. The Konoha jōnin jumped through the battlefield, dodging more hands from Obito's statue. Konan then launched paper needles from her wings at the man, which he continued to dodge until he was next to the hands surrounding Bee.

"Banshō Ten'in!"

Before Kakashi could dig the lightning into the structure, his body grew limp as the Deva Path dragged him towards his position. As Kakashi flew towards the Deva Path, the Human Path jumped in between its fellow Path and Kakashi as it held out its hand.

'We can't let him die, but how are we going to close-' Fū's eyes widened as an idea came to her: "Oi! Han! Naruto!" Both jinchūriki turned their attention to her as she started to adjust her position, flying horizontally, aiming her horn at the Human Path Pain: "I need a boost, if you wouldn't mind!"

Both Naruto and Han nodded their heads in response. Steam surrounded Han's arms as he grabbed onto Fū's waist before pulling her back, like a spear. Naruto, in response, clapped his hands together.

"You are not like the jinchūriki, Hatake Kakashi. Unlike them, you can die without affecting our plans." Pain spoke through the Human Path. As Kakashi continued to fly directly at the Human Path as it began to reach for his chest: "Ningen-"

"Wind Style: Great Breakthrough!"

Naruto breathed out a massive gust of wind forward at the same time as Han, using his steam-enhanced arms, launched Fū forward. The Nanabi jinchūriki launched forward with enough force that it created a sonic boom throughout the battlefield. The other jinchūriki, Obito, Konan, Kabuto, and the other Paths of Pain were staggered by the force as Fū rocketed through the air.

As Fū flew through the air, she released cocoon strings that grabbed onto Kakashi's body. Gripping with her right hand, she pulled the jōnin to the right, away from her line of flight, as the horn on her head grew larger.

"Shinra Tensei!"

"Striking Lance Edge!"

Fū's horn crashed into the Human Path with enough force that the body exploded upon impact, spreading body parts everywhere. Its destruction did not falter Fū's movement as she continued to fly towards the Deva Path.

Before her horn could collide with the Deva Path, a strong gravitational force rushed through her body, propelling her backwards. Despite the pain from Pain's attack, a grin developed on her face.

"Two down, bitch." She stated: "Now, let's-"

Her words died on her lips as she noticed a flurry of paper butterflies, all formed from explosive tags, flying around her body. Her eyes widened in response as she began to channel chakra around her body, forming a cocoon.

With a snap of her finger, Konan detonated the butterflies, completely encasing Fū's cocoon in fire. After a few seconds passed, Fū was sent flying back to the other jinchūriki, the cocoon being pulled off and burns all over the Bijū Chakra Amor she created. She crashed into the ground, creating a crater.

"Fū, are you alright?" Naruto asked.

"I've… been better…" She grumbled as she tried to pull herself up. As she slowly steadied herself, she turned to look at Konan's flying position: "How… why does she hit like a mountain?"

"I know Deidara is a member of the Akatsuki and uses explosives, but I think she has him outmatched even in his own element." Han acknowledged.

Obito extended forward, causing the wooden statue to launch more of its hands directly at the jinchūriki. Yugito quickly leaned downwards and grabbed Fū, pulling her over back as she jumped. Naruto, Utakata, and Yagura followed behind while Han remained still and held out his hands, catching the palms of the first hand that tried to crush him.

Channeling steam into his hands, Han managed to cause the wooden hand to melt slightly. After a few seconds, Han was able to overpower the hand and destroy it.

The second wooden hand then fell on top of him before he could grab onto it, crashing into his body and slamming him into the ground. More-and-more hands continued to strike at him before he could get up, pinning him to the ground. With each subsequent blow, Han started to choke out blood as steam started to leak haphazardly from his chakra cloak.

"Raikiri!"

Kakashi, finally free from Pain's last attack, charged forward at Han's position. The jōnin rushed forward as fast as he could, using his lightning to pierce the wooden hands holding Han down.

Within seconds, bark was scattered as the wooden hands were destroyed. After a moment, Han was able to free himself. With a sigh in relief, both he and Kakashi jumped backwards as more hands continued to descend on them.

"I owe you, Kakashi-san." Han admitted, rubbing away at the blood on his lip.

"And I owe you, Fū-san, and Naruto for saving me a moment ago." Kakashi smiled behind his mask as the two continued to jump, avoiding the hands that tried to crush them: "It seems we do have the force to destroy these hands, but the shear multitude of them makes it hard to crush all of them. And it certainly doesn't help that the other Akatsuki members are still here to get in the way."

"It's only a matter of time." Han said, shaking his head: "We'll manage-"

"Lava Style: Monkey King's Vortex!"

Both Han and Kakashi turned their heads towards the arms that were holding Bee in place. A green-colored vortex of lava surrounded them, quickly melting away at them and freeing Killer Bee. The Hachibi jinchūriki continued to jump forward at the Preta Path Pain, gripping his swords tightly with his octopus-tails.

"Shinra Tensei!"

Before Bee could strike at the Preta Path, another gravitational force rushed through his body, sending him flying backwards. As Bee flew through the air, a grin developed on his face.

'Now, it's time to confirm my theory about that thing.' His grin widened as he managed to look back towards the Preta Path.

The Preta Path's eyes narrowed on the green vortex of lava as it subsided and Rōshi jumped out from under the ground. The Pain held out its hands tightly as it generated a barrier around his body.

Before connecting with the barrier, however, the Bijū Cloak around Rōshi's body faded away, causing the man to return to normal. Rōshi, with no bijū chakra flowing through his body, easily pierced the Preta Path's barrier and delivered a punch to its face with enough force that he knocked it down. Rōshi then quickly got on top, slamming his body weight on the Pain as he dug his foot onto its head.

"Bee was right. This thing may absorb ninjutsu, but it can't do anything against taijutsu." Rōshi noted with a grin as he continued to apply more force: "And that's how this one dies!"

The Deva Path's eyes narrowed in response. Konan and Kabuto proceeded to attack, launching paper needles and bone bullets respectively, while the Asura Path released more missiles from its arms. All attacks were aimed directly at Rōshi, but before anything could connect, the other jinchūriki intercepted.

"Water Style: Water Mirror Jutsu!"

"Water Style: Soap Bubble: True Acid!"

"Nine-Tails Twister!"

Yagura generated a mirror of water that, after reflecting the image of the oncoming paper needles, created identical needles that collided with Konan's, causing both sets to clash against one another and fall to the ground. Utakata breathed out more red bubbles from his pipe that intercepted the Asura Path's missiles, causing them to melt before they could explode. Naruto launched a tornado directly at Kabuto's bone bullets, redirecting them and sending them flying back his way, forcing Kabuto to jump away.

'Well, look at that. That one isn't doing that gravity jutsu on Rōshi.' Killer Bee grinned as his eyes focused on the Deva Path, who seemed to be staring at Rōshi and the Preta Path: 'You keep spamming that thing, so it can't be a chakra issue. It must have a cooldown.'

The ground underneath Rōshi's feet began to shake. Bee immediately turned his focus towards the ground and opened his mouth, generating a massive black orb of charka: "Bijūdama!"

The bijūdama was launched into the ground just as the Animal Path's land shark was about to jump out. The orb connected with its head while still underground, tearing into its body until the creature disappeared in a poof of smoke.

As the other jinchūriki continued to block attacks, Rōshi focused solely on the Preta Path. Pain struggled to free its body, but Rōshi was applying too much force that it was impossible.

After a few seconds passed, Rōshi's pressure finally gave out and the Yonbi jinchūriki crushed the Preta Path's head. The body became limp as Rōshi rechanneled the Son Gokū's chakra once more, gaining his bijū cloak.

"Third body down." Rōshi declared sharply.

"Only six left; three more 'Pains' and three other assholes." Naruto stated as his eyes focused on the Deva Path: "How does it feel, knowing you're this close to losing? Are you starting to realize your loss was… inevitable?"

A snarl developed on the Deva Path's face as he held out his right hand: "Shinra Tensei!"

The battle was entering its final stages, once and for all.


Quick Note:

1: I am aware that 'Spiral Mask Zetsu' is the one that that uses 'Kanzeon Lotus King' and not actual Obito, but considering that Obito has 'White Zetsu' DNA running through his body and is already capable of using Wood Release, I decided that it was a jutsu that would be fine for him to know. As for not using Yamato/Tenzo as the basis like Spiral Mask Zetsu did... meh. I don't really have an explanation. I'll admit that. But ehhh... I think the jutsu (which isn't a direct copy of Hashirama's jutsu, it is a weaker, watered down version of his) logically should be possible without the need of Yamato's body. Just wanted to explain is all :P


Author's Note: Hey! Chapter 126 is done! :)

And as I just implied, the next chapter will be the conclusion to the Akatsuki Invasion on Kumogakure! Hopefully this invasion has still been hype for all of you and exciting! I know I'm REALLY excited to wrap it up and bring you all to its conclusion, so I'm hoping to have 127 finished as soon as I can! Ideally, I'll get some good writing done on my next set off days!

I'd like to get as much as done while I can in July, because August (or at least early August) is going to be another busy month for me, especially with my wife's birthday, so I need to get as much written as possible.

As an aside, I'm about to get actual, good health insurance. Meaning that'll be able to get a couple of things checked out. Which is something that's also exciting, but I know is also something that may take away some writing time soon. So... gotta make sure I get to writing asap! XD

Moving along... hope all of you are doing well. I'll see you when 127 is finished. Until then :)