Chapter 11: Lady Chiyo's determination and a familiar enemy appears
I had been running all night, tracking the scent of the enemy, as I approached The Land of Rivers, that bordered The Leaf and The Sand, I started picking up Gaara's scent as well. I came to the edge of a cliff, and in front of me, was a cave blocked by a huge boulder that looked like it had a seal of some kind on it. I sniffed the air once more, and both Gaara's scent and the scent of the enemy were coming strongly from the direction of the cave "So, they're in there" I kept looking at the entrance "If I get any closer I might be spotted" and with that I turned and headed back towards The Sand Village to report my findings to Kakashi.
Lady Chiyo's P.O.V:
I had decided that I was going with the Leaf Shinobi, to save The Kazekage. I knew, that with Sasori involved I would need two special puppets along with my own, the two I would need, were the very first puppets that Sasori ever created, The Mother and The Father. I took out the key for the room where all of our puppets were stored, and unlocked the door. Light filled the room, for the first time in years, illuminating the box which held the scrolls of Sasori's first creations. As I entered the room, I heard footsteps in the corridor, I had a feeling it was my Brother. I unlocked the box that held Sasori's puppets, once they were revealed I heard my Brother say from behind me "Hey Sis, you're going to take those with you?" I was quiet for a few seconds before I answered him "Fate has arranged our meeting, if I'm going to see him, I'll be needing these. I have lived a long life" and with that, I took the puppet scrolls, and left the room, locked the door once more and headed out of the building.
It was morning now, and Pakkun had just returned and informed me of what he'd found, as he pointed to The Land of Rivers I asked him "Hm, you're sure that's where their hideout is?" he nodded and said "It seems more than likely, since Gaara's scent was coming from there as well." that was a little reassuring "I see. I've got one more favour to ask you." he looked at me, a little confused "Huh?" I told him what I wanted him to do, as I finished explaining his new task I was distracted by Naruko yelling out "Whoa!" Pakkun and I looked over only to see that she had rolled out of bed. She sat up holding her head saying "Oh that hurts my head." and Pakkun decided to announce his presence "Oh Naruko, you're up." she turned in our direction, immediately noticed him and said "Huh? Hey Pakkun!" I interrupted at this point, we didn't have time for them to chat "Alright, better get moving Pakkun." He looked at me, then back to Naruko and said "I'll see you around, Naruko." And with that he left. Naruko got back onto her bed, and watched out of the window as Pakkun left The Sand Village again, as I began strapping my kunai pouch to my leg, she turned to me and asked "Kakashi-Sensei, does this mean that they found where The Akatsuki are hiding out?" I told her as I stood up "Yup, get ready Naruko, 'cause we're moving out" she nodded and I left the room so that she could get ready, and went to meet up with Sasuke and Sakura to brief them on the information Pakkun had given me.
I was resting, but was awakened by Temari shouting "What, Gaara?! You're sure?!" did they have a lead? I turned my head towards the entrance to the room and heard someone else talking as well, one of our Shinobi must be with her "Yes ma'am. They found where The Akatsuki have taken him. The Leaf Village Shinobi are getting ready to move out" that was great news, I heard her reply "So will we. I want you to put together a Pursuit Squad, and be quick" so she wanted to go with Naruko and the others, I heard the Shinobi she was talking to say "Right" then I heard his footsteps as he left to assemble a Squad. No way was I missing out on this, I began to sit up and I called out her name "Temari!" she ran in, when she saw me trying to get up she said "Kankuro what do you think you're doing? You're not going anywhere, you need to rest!" I looked at her in shock, was she serious? Judging by the look in her eyes she was, she held up a fist and said "I give you my word I'll get Gaara back" I just stared at her, but her determination wasn't fading at all so I just gave her a smile, and she smiled right back then left to get ready.
We were assembled outside of the building we'd stayed the night in, when Kakashi-Sensei spoke "Seems we'll be working in conjunction with a Squad from The Sand Village. As soon as they're here, we'll head out" then I heard footsteps approaching and then Temari's voice "Sorry to keep you waiting" we turned, and there she was with a group of Sand Shinobi. Sakura then said in surprise "Oh, Temari" and Sasuke added after her "If that's everybody?" I nodded and said "Ok, there's no time to waste, let's get this show on the road" then Baki appeared "Wait!" we looked at him, he nodded to our team then turned to Temari and said "Temari, you and your group are to stay here. Patrol the perimeter" this had us all gasping in surprise, then she said in response to what Baki had just said to her "Are you kidding me or what?!" he just looked down and said "Orders, from above" and she gasped, so The Council was behind this decision huh? Baki then continued "If word gets out that The Kazekage is missing, our enemies may use it as an opportunity, to launch an attack on the village." One of Temari's female Squad members spoke after this "Come on!" then Temari added onto that and she was clearly trying to hold back her anger and frustration "Don't you get it!? That's all the more reason we have to get him back as quickly as we can! Look at these Leaf Shinobi, they left their village and came all the way here just to help us rescue Gaara! And Gaara's not even their leader, he's our Kazekage. The Sand Shinobi should be the one's to save him!" he just looked down and said with a voice that to me sounded full of regret "I'm sorry" then suddenly a voice yelled out "Well I'm going!" we all looked up, and there standing on the roof of the building we'd been staying in, was the old lady who'd tried to attack Kakashi-Sensei yesterday. Seriously she wanted to come with us? She yelled down to us all again "If a Sand Shinobi is needed, then I'm the one to go!" Temari then said her name in surprise "Granny Chiyo?" and Baki added after her "But, but you're so..." he didn't finish and the old la… I mean Lady Chiyo then said in response to him "I'm retired yes. Which means of course that I'm free to do whatever I want" then the same Shinobi that spoke after Baki initially told Temari and her Squad they weren't going with us yelled up to her, "Yes but, the journey will be difficult!" and Chiyo yelled right back with "Bah, don't treat me like a fossil!" and then she…LEAPT OFF OF THE BUILDING!. Was this woman crazy, as she got nearer to the ground I yelled out "What in the?!" Sasuke, Sakura and myself leaned out of the way in shock, expecting her to be hurt or worse when she landed, only for her to land on the ground in a crouch, perfectly fine, Kakashi-Sensei just looked like Gai-Sensei had challenged him to something ridiculous, then Chiyo said whilst standing "After all, it's been a while since I doted on my adorable grandchild" and with that we headed to the main gate of the village.
Naruko's team, along with Lady Chiyo were now outside of the village, they were facing us, Naruko's Sensei addressed Baki "Alright, we'll head out on our own then" Baki nodded and said to him "Thank you, I'll try to convince The Council to change their mind" and I added after him "Don't worry, we'll catch up with you" it was Naruko who replied to me "Ha, Temari, by the time you could catch up with us, we'll have already rescued Gaara" well somebody was confident, then Sakura said to me "We'll see you soon" and with that they left, and we could only watch as they became nothing more than specks on the horizon.
I couldn't take this anymore, here Naruko and her team, and the Shinobi of our village were doing everything they could to find and save Gaara, and I'm stuck in the hospital. I held up my hand whilst saying to myself "Oh man, I hate this! I'm the one who should go after Gaara. If it weren't for these injuries" and I looked down, closing my eyes, and gritting my teeth in frustration at myself for being so reckless in chasing after and engaging the enemy in battle, without knowing their strength.
We had been moving as fast as we could since we left the village, then from behind me I heard Tenten shout "Hey slow down a little! We've been going at full speed since we started! Would it kill us to take a little rest?!" it was Lee that answered her "Tenten, you are really not training hard enough" if that was true maybe I needed to make their training a little tougher, suddenly Neji shouted "Lee, up ahead!" we all stopped moving, the leaves in the tree opposite us were rustling, and then a Ninja Hound appeared "Hey Gai, wait!" I recognised that voice immediately "Pakkun!" if he was here, that could only mean he had a message from my eternal rival, Kakashi.
We were moving through a forest now, Sasuke and I were at the head of the group, behind us were Kakashi-Sensei and Lady Chiyo and Sakura was bringing up the rear. Suddenly Sasuke said to me "Naruko, can I ask you a question? How long do you think The Akatsuki have been after you?" his question caused me to gasp in shock, I looked down and an image of Itachi and his partner Kisame appeared at the forefront of my mind, but I still answered him "Honestly, I don't know, Sasuke" and after I'd answered, I knew everyone had heard his question because Kakashi-Sensei said after me "Two members of The Akatsuki came to The Leaf looking for Naruko once. But it's been three years since then, and no sign of them. And now they're back" Sakura asked her own question once he'd finished "But why do you think they waited so long to make another move?" I had to admit I was curious about that as well. Then Kakashi-Sensei answered her with "It could be, they wanted to act before this but for some reason they couldn't. Maybe because Master Jiraiya was around, and they didn't wanna face him" then Lady Chiyo added her thoughts into the mix "That's not it. From what I've learned, there was an entirely different reason they had to wait this long" what was she talking about, Sakura asked her about it "What reason?" and Lady Chiyo explained "If you're going to try and draw out the Tailed-Beast that dwells within, a great deal of preparation is involved. They just needed some more time" draw out…the Tailed-Beast? Sasuke then asked "What are you talking about?" and the Sakura asked right after him "What Tailed-Beast?" and Lady Chiyo answered her "My, my, you're a student of that old Slug Queen Tsunade, and you don't even know that? When The Leaf itself is host to The Nine-Tailed Fox?" this had us all gasping in shock, how did she know that. Kakashi-Sensei decided to speak to her at this point "The Nine-Tailed Fox is not something we talk about outside of the village. It's considered top-secret" Lady Chiyo just said "Really? Well not surprising I guess." and then she explained for Sakura "Tailed-Beasts are demon spirit's with one or more tails. The Sand, have had a single Tailed-Beast since long ago. That's the Shukaku sealed within Gaara" I had a feeling what question would be coming next, and I was proved right as Sakura asked it "So then, there's more of these demon spirit's?" and Lady Chiyo gave her a very detailed answer that made all of us think hard about the situation "Oh yes, there are a total of nine of them in the world. Each with distinct characteristics, and each with a different number of tails. The demon beast of the sand with it's single tail, a two-tailed spirit, three-tailed and so on, all the way up to The Nine-Tailed Fox of The Leaf. The beasts are huge concentrations of Chakra, and during the great war, every nation competed for control of them for military purposes. They fought relentlessly over them, but the Tailed-Beasts powers were beyond human imagining. No one could control them. I don't know the intentions of The Akatsuki, but that kind of power is far too dangerous for anyone to get a hold of. Eventually with the coming of peace, the Tailed-Beasts were forgotten. But nether the less they still exist, all nine of them scattered over the world" I then realised that if The Akatsuki were hunting the holders of all the Tailed-Beasts, they'd soon go after Yugito and Bee. Yugito would obviously be their next target as she held the Two-Tailed Cat, I would have to send a message to the Raikage once we got back to The Leaf, or returned to The Sand with Gaara, no way was I not informing him about The Akatsuki's intentions of capturing the Jinchuriki Hosts after he'd agreed to let the Jinchuriki of his village help me control The Nine-Tails.
Pakkun had just finished explaining the current situation to us, then he explained why he was here "Kakashi sent eight of us Ninja Hounds out to scour the countryside, and try to pick up The Akatsuki Organizations scent. Well we soon discovered, they were headed for The Land of Rivers, bordering The Leaf and The Sand" that was interesting, why would they pick a place so close to both our villages, Neji responded to what Pakkun had just said by asking "The Land of Rivers?" Pakkun just nodded then said "That's right. And since your squad is on it's way from The Leaf Village to The Sand, I guess this is your lucky day you're the closest. If you could call it lucky" this had us all gasping before Lee spoke up saying "Alright then" with that Pakkun stood up and said to us "I'll show you the way. Follow me and I'll explain the rest as we go" to which I nodded and said "Right, you heard him everyone. Let's move out" then of course Tenten complained by saying "What, already?!" and with that we were on the move again.
Akatsuki Leader's P.O.V:
We were all focusing on the Jutsu and extracting the One-Tail, when Zetsu spoke "Our location has been discovered. The enemy approaches" so they'd found us already? Deidara spoke up after Zetsu "Which enemy is that?" and the reply he got was "A very skilled, and dangerous one. His name is Might Gai" I'd never heard of him, so I asked "Might Gai, who is he?" and Itachi was the one to answer me "An elite Leaf Shinobi. A master of Taijutsu, don't underestimate him" and Kisame added after him "Ahh, that strange beast again" looks like it was time to use our new Jutsu "We'll use that Jutsu against him" after I said this one of our members said "I'll go. Let me take care of him. It'll give me a chance to make up for failing to find a Jinchuriki host" before I could answer him Kisame said "No, leave him to me, you see I know him. I have a personal score to settle with him" well I guess my decision was made already, with Kisame having the most Chakra of all of us, it was better to send him anyway, so I told him, "Yes, as you have the most Chakra of any of The Akatsuki, you're probably the most suitable to employ that Jutsu. Very well Kisame" he just replied with "Excellent" then I told him what I would need from him in his absence "But I'll still require 30% of your Chakra here" and with that I focused on the task at hand once more.
Now I would finally be able to fight that beast again "Well, well finally. I've been waiting to pay him back for that kick he gave me" and I had a flashback to when I'd first encountered him in The Leaf Village.
I was headed towards the Shinobi that had just fought with Itachi, to finish him off when a voice yelled out "Severe Leaf Hurricane" and I was kicked in the face, so hard that I was pushed back to Itachi's side. As I recovered from the blow I looked at our new opponent and said "Well, who have we here?" and he replied with "The Leaf Village's fiercest beast of battle, I'm Might Gai"
I chuckled knowing I would finally be able to pay him back.
We were now running over what looked like a dried out river, when suddenly Pakkun began scenting the air so I asked him "What is it Pakkun?" his response was "Someone's coming!" and myself and my team gasped in surprise. A few seconds later I heard Neji shout "Byakugan!" he was searching for whoever or whatever was approaching our location, then he yelled something that immediately caused us all to stop "It's behind us!" we all turned to face the direction in which he was looking, when something wrapped in gauze erupted from the ground and started heading towards us "Huh?" we barely managed to dodge as it struck the place we had just been standing, shattering an entire boulder to dust. As the dust began to settle the silhouette of a man appeared through the dust, "Huh? Wait a minute?" this guy looked a little familiar, but I couldn't remember where I'd met him, from beside me Lee asked "You know this person, Gai-Sensei?" but I didn't answer him, as I couldn't really remember where I'd met this man, so I asked him "Who are you?" and everything became silent.
Akatsuki Leader's P.O.V:
The sealing of the One-Tail was going well, then Zetsu said "More intruders" I looked at Deidara and said to him "You didn't cover your tracks very well, did you Deidara?" he just gave me an uneasy glance and said in response "Uh well, as I said the Jinchuriki host, proved more powerful than we thought hm" then Sasori added his personal opinion of his partner into the mix "You're a bumbler and a fool. Your methods are too crude for any sort of secret operation" and here we go again with those two "Crude, huh! Those clumsy traps of your's were hardly subtle my friend! Hm" Sasori wouldn't like that comment "Why you!" I interrupted before a full fight could break out between them "Stop bickering amongst yourselves. Focus on the Jutsu, now then who to send this time?" and again the same member that wanted to go after Might Gai spoke up "Me. This time it must be me" but Zetsu spoke before I could "This time a Leaf Shinobi should go" and only one of our members was an Ex-Leaf Shinobi, Itachi "Very well, it's decided then"
We were approaching a clearing, when I suddenly felt a Chakra Signature. Looking up as we began to enter the clearing, I saw the one person I hoped I'd never meet again after our first encounter. Knowing that he was probably here to delay us I stopped my team immediately "Everybody stop!" once they did, I heard Sasuke and Naruko gasping in shock, then Sakura asked aloud "Who's that?" no one answered her 'So soon' from beside me I heard Naruko growl and say "I know you!" this was not good, she was losing her cool, just from the sight of our opponent. Then I heard Sasuke whisper "Of all the times for him to show up, it had to be now" and I couldn't help but agree with him, this was the worst possible time for an enemy Shinobi to appear.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing thanks to my Byakugan. I never imagined I'd ever meet someone else like Naruko, this mans Chakra Reserves were the same as hers, maybe more. I said aloud to my team "Unreal, his Chakra level is off the charts! I've never seen anyone but Naruko with that much Chakra" it was Lee that responded to what I had just said by saying in shock "That much!". Then our opponent addressed Gai-Sensei "Your memory's as bad as your haircut" it was obvious that they'd met before from what this guy was saying, but our Sensei on the other hand, I wasn't too sure his memory was the best at this point "Can it be that you're?" well maybe I was wrong about Gai-Sensei's memory "You've finally remembered, have you?" our enemy must've thought that to, then Sensei proved just how unintelligent he can be "You've met me somewhere before?" good grief it's clear they have 'Why, out of all the Jounin in The Leaf, did I have to get this one as a Sensei? And what's worse, thanks to Lee, Tenten and I have to deal with practically two of him' "It's no wonder you're called a beast, your intelligence is certainly sub-human. Well, don't worry I'll refresh your memory soon enough" looks like we'll have to beat him if we want to catch up with Naruko's team anytime soon.
We were just standing there, looking at this man, when from beside Kakashi-Sensei, Sasuke identified who he was "Itachi Uchiha!" I gasped, so this was him, Sasuke's older brother, and Naruko's tormentor 'That's, that's him! That's Itachi Uchiha' I was shocked at how much he and Sasuke looked alike, as this was the first time I'd ever seen Itachi, then I noticed out of the corner of my eye, Naruko trembling, and judging by the fact she was gritting her teeth and her fists were clenched, it was definitely out of anger not fear.
Of all the times for him to appear, it had to be now. I stepped forward, getting ready in case a fight began 'Itachi' then Lady Chiyo spoke "So, that's the one. The child who was framed, for wiping out his entire clan" I guess news of the truth of The Uchiha Massacre travelled fast once it was discovered, after that Itachi spoke for the first time, since we'd entered the clearing "Kakashi, Sasuke, Naruko. It's been a while" what was he up to? He was obviously here for a reason, but what?
We were just staring at each other, then I noticed his eyes 'His Sharingan, it's the same as Sasuke's! So he's the one who's been hounding Naruko all this time!'
As we all stood watching Itachi, I realised that his partner wasn't with him. It was possible he was intercepting Gai's team, or he could've been hiding in the forest waiting to strike. Then Naruko addressed him "I wasn't enough for you huh? You had to go after Gaara as well! I'll destroy every last one of you!" just as I was about too turn to her and tell her to calm down, I noticed Itachi moving his hands, once he made a Hand-sign I realized he might be about to perform a Genjutsu so I yelled out to Lady Chiyo and my team "Everyone, whatever you do don't look him in the eyes!" everyone gasped in surprise at my outburst. After a few moments of silence I explained why I'd told them not to look in his eyes "Itachi's Genjutsu is a visual Jutsu. Which means, avoid eye contact with him and his Jutsu can't take effect" as began watching his movements I noticed him take his hands out from the Hand-sign he'd made, before I warned everyone else. Naruko said from beside Sasuke "Yeah that I know" and Sasuke nodded in agreement with her, then Sakura asked me "Ok but then, how are we supposed to fight him?" and I'll admit that was a hard one to answer "That's the tricky part" then I had a flashback to when I'd asked Gai about that after our first encounter with him.
"Gai, how did you fight Itachi?" I was curious to know how he'd done it without being caught in his Genjutsu "Hm?" he turned towards me "There's only one way"
I then continued by telling Sakura and the other's the same thing Gai told me "You have to anticipate his moves, by watching his feet, his body", then Sasuke said after me "But that's like fighting with one arm tied behind your back. Even if it is the only way to fight him" and I couldn't help but agree.
I was getting more aggravated with the situation, the longer we stood here, the more worried I was getting about Gaara, I felt in my gut that something terrible was happening to him. But there was no way of fighting Itachi without possibly being caught in his Genjutsu, Damn it. Then from beside me Lady Chiyo spoke "The Uchiha Clan eh. It's been a long time since I've gone up against the Sharingan" I turned to her in surprise "Huh?" she must of seen my face because she said "Don't look so surprised, I've been around. And I know there's more than one way to fight a visual Jutsu like that" so, did that mean she knew a different way to fight the Sharigan? I asked her "Yeah, like what then?" and what she said in reply confused me a hell of a lot "If one against one abandon the field. If two against one take the rear and he'll yield" ok what the hell did that do, to explain it to me "What's that mean?" and she explained it better "Well the first part of it is pretty self explanatory isn't it? The Sharingan can never be beaten in single combat. But, if you outnumber the Sharingan user, if the battle is two against one, then even if one of you is caught in his Genjutsu, the other is free to strike from the rear breaking the Genjutsu's spell. Even if your attack from the rear should fail somehow, you're still free to strike your comrade yourself, and break the Genjutsu that way." Ok that definitely made more sense to me "So while one of us fights him face to face as a distraction, the rest of us will mount a series of attacks from the rear, where his Sharingan can't reach" that was a good idea, then Sakura said "Good plan" and Sasuke nodded. I looked to Lady Chiyo and said to her "I guess you learn a lot of stuff like that, if you live long enough" and I turned my attention once more to Itachi. I took a small step forward and said to everyone "Let's go, I'll take the rear" as I began moving forward again I was stopped by Kakashi-Sensei's arm and him saying "Wait!" I turned to look at him, I was confused as to why he'd stopped me.
I knew I had confused Naruko, a few minutes after I had stopped her from advancing towards Itachi she said to me "Ok Sensei, we're waiting. But what are we waiting for?" I was thinking of the simplest way to explain my reason for stopping her when Lady Chiyo asked "Do you have a problem with my way of fighting the Sharingan? Are you suggesting my methods won't work?" I answered her immediately "No, they work fine against ordinary Genjutsu. But what we're dealing with here is something, much more complicated" as soon as I finished she asked "Meaning what?" it was Sasuke that answered her "My brother uses Mangekyo Sharingan. It's far more powerful than any other visual Jutsu." once he'd finished I continued on with what I remembered from my experience with that particular Jutsu "It only takes a second, but if he hits you with that Jutsu, it'll be the longest second you ever lived. Time itself gets warped, what seems like a second in the real world can be hours or days to someone trapped in his Jutsu. And trust me, I know, I wandered around in it for three days, and lost consciousness for more than a week. It's not a Genjutsu that can be broken just like that" it was quiet for a few seconds before Lady Chiyo said "That does sound tricky. What a troublesome fellow this is" then Itachi spoke once more "Very good Kakashi. I see your experience in my Tsukiyomi wasn't wasted" well that wasn't all I'd learned so I told him "Oh believe me, I learned something else as well. There's a price to pay for using that Sharingan. It exhausted you didn't it? You had to quit before the battle was over"
"Itachi, you've risked overusing your eyes. You know that's dangerous"
"We're not here to fight a full scale battle. Tempting as it may be, it's not the way to do this. Let's go"
"So in addition to using up a lot of Chakra, you risk permanent damage to your eyes every time you use that Jutsu, don't you Itachi?" he spoke once more after I'd finished "You seem to have learned a great deal, from our one brief encounter" I closed my eyes and grabbed my Headband "I wonder...just how much damage, has already been done to your eyesight" and with that I revealed my Sharingan, and saw him widen his eyes in shock.
I closed my eyes after Kakashi had said his piece. Could he really have figured out that much from our one meeting. I opened my eyes to look at him as I thought to myself 'Kakashi, could it be that you?'
So using his Sharingan was possibly damaging Itachi's eyes huh? As myself and the others looked at him Kakashi-Sensei spoke up "I underestimated you back then, I admit it. But I am not the fool I used to be. Things aren't gonna go the same way this time, I promise you that" he made a good point, things were a lot different now to when I'd first met Itachi. I smirked and said "Hm, yeah and don't go thinking I'm the same kid either. A lot of things have changed since then" I took a step forward when Kakashi-Sensei said "Naruko, leave him to me" and I couldn't help but immediately remember our first C-Rank mission to The Land of Waves 'This is just like the last time' and I had a flashback to when we'd encountered Zabuza Momochi, for the first time on that mission.
"Now quick, Manji Formation. Protect the bridge builder, and stay out of this fight" what was Kakashi-Sensei talking about "Huh?" that was Sakura then Kakashi-Sensei said "I taught you teamwork, now it's time to use it"
No way was he doing this again, so I said to Kakashi-Sensei "Not again. Not that kind of teamwork where we sit back and do nothing!" what he said in response made me smile "No, this time you cover me" and Sasuke gasped in surprise while Sakura just said "Huh?" then Kakashi-Sensei continued "I wish I could say 'You guys go on ahead, I can handle this alone'. But I never make the same mistake twice" I nodded and turned to face Itachi once more "Hmm. Good to know" then Itachi pointed at me and said "It's time you came with me, Naruko" and that's the last thing I remember before everything went black.