A Nugget Of Advice, Chapter 28

They escaped Konohagakure through tunneling – Jirōbō's doing with his usage of the Doton: Moguragakure no Jutsu. Chaos sounded off in the background as they hit the road and disappeared into the forest. Orochimaru congratulated them from behind the wall of the seals, purring practically in contentment. To him, it would be only a few more hours until he was resurrected and able to take Sasuke Uchiha's body for his own.

As they ran with the Uchiha in tow, Tayuya wondered how things could have been different. She wasn't a mawkish, "woe-is-me" type of person – far from it anyway. She did not cry about the pain of not knowing her father or her mother. Her life was her life and despite the shittiness of it all, she tried to roll with the punches. From an earlier age, she had decided long ago that the world was a crap-sacked place and that only the strong survived, so she did everything she could to become strong.

And it paid off. Being one of Orochimaru's strongest shinobi had given Tayuya luxuries that other peons that licked at Orochimaru's boots couldn't possibly dream of. She hardly had to worry about being some experimental freak in one of the Snake Sage's hideouts dotted across the continent, nor did she have to be some cannon fodder used to test out the limits of a person of interest to him. Instead, she was Hokumon no Tayuya and she was one of the strongest shinobi of Otogakure.

But sometimes, like now, the Oto kunoichi wondered what that meant. Tayuya had no real love for her village or nation. Otogakure was not a home for her. She could go on about everything she hated about Orochimaru and his Otogakure. She didn't quite hate that she was strong; she enjoyed it because it, again, gave her luxuries. She hated the person that gave her the strength. She hated that no one in the village liked each other, out to get each other. She hated the way she had to claw her way to the top to become strong.

The hell that Orochimaru put her through was something not many could endure. Every scrap, bruise, wound, broken bone, or any other grievous injury she may have received had been because of him. He treated them like they were replaceable at any second; if they failed, they would be more ready to rise and take their place. Unlike the others who were Orochimaru's loyalists, she felt she hated him uniquely.

So, when she learned that Orochimaru had kicked the bucket that faithful day in Konohagakure, where the Sound Four was locked in battle with the ANBU, Tayuya was ecstatic. Of course, her elation with her boss' death was shelved temporarily as the fallout of Operation Konoha Crush happened quickly after, and she and her compatriots had to run for their lives from ANBU. They were able to slaughter quite a few of their forces by tapping into their Cursed Seals, but they still almost faced capture.

When they got back, they quickly found that – besides Kimimaro and Guren – they were the strongest that Otogakure now had to offer. Kabuto Yakushi, the former right-hand man of Orochimaru and slimeball-extraordinaire, was not with them. Without Orochimaru, Kabuto would have been the man in charge, but he was not present – and he should have been.

Clamors of betrayal and treachery were around the people of Otogakure. Those who were led by Kabuto outside of Konoha and Hi no Kuni claimed he ran off in the dead of night while they were resting, undetected by those who were watching for Konoha's forces. That, of course, roused everyone.

Otogakure had two sorts of people to them: those who truly followed Orochimaru because they believed in him and those who only were obedient to the snake summoner because he put the fear of the gods in their hearts. When they learned Orochimaru was dead, it didn't take long for in-fighting to happen, and soon, there was a civil war on the lands of Oto no Kuni.

Hell broke out, and the ragtag village consisting of outposts and underground bases quickly erupted as ninjas fought each other for survival. This was expected and Tayuya wanted to make the best out of the situation by getting the fuck out of the village. While she would simply run from Otogakure like Kabuto had done, she knew it was impossible.

For one, Orochimaru was truly not dead.

Oh, how could he be when he barked in their ears angrily at his failure? He bemoaned his fate, angry that the Sandaime Hokage had won, and wanted swift revenge to be dealt to Konoha. The Cursed Seals made sure Orochimaru would at least have eight more lives left to use. All of the Sound Four, Kimimaro, and those two in Konoha – especially Sasuke Uchiha – were to thank for that.

And she, Orochimaru's slave, could not escape. Not when she wore his brand for the world to see.

Besides knowing Orochimaru knew where she was at all times, viewing the world through the seal, Tayuya knew that Orochimaru also had very strong loyalists. The freak twins, Sakon and Ukon, were loyal. Jirōbō's fat ass was loyal. Kidōmaru, the six-armed freak, was loyal. If she ran, Tayuya would quickly be sniffed out by her teammates and killed.

And even if she did evade the Sound Four, she knew it wouldn't be for long, because Kimimaro was loyal.

The civil war quickly ended after a week. Kimimaro was bedridden for most of the talks and conflict of the war in their village, but during the last few days of the conflict, he miraculously gained enough strength to make sure the war ended quickly. Call it renewed strength, an unholy rage, or simply from Orochimaru whispering and encouraging him, Kimimaro recovered enough to put an end to the war and killed anyone who threw their allegiance to Orochimaru away.

Even sick and ailing, Kimimaro was truly the strongest of Orochimaru's chosen.

So, she tossed any sort of idea she had about running from Otogakure. She instead dipped her toe into the water and found herself – along with the rest of the Sound Four – being led by Kimimaro through the forests of Hi no Kuni. With Kimimaro now back in the group, they were what they were originally: The Sound Five.

Kimimaro was no real tactician, but with Kidōmaru, who was the group's brains, the Shikotsumyaku user had come up with a plan to get Sasuke Uchiha from his village. That involved getting any freak branded with Orochimaru's juinjutsu and foisting them at the village.

Kimimaro decided he would go against the Hokage to stall for more time and keep the heat off of them. The tall weirdo that joined them, Jūgo, whom Kimimaro had picked up from the Northern Hideout (and who kept muttering to himself), was a part of the plan. They would go for the Hokage directly.

And regardless of how that would work out, the rest of the Sound Five had retrieved their target. It was indeed messy. Admittedly, they underestimated the Uchiha, but they had succeeded.

So, she braced herself and decided it was better to be a live slave to Orochimaru than a dead one.

Before this mess, the Hokage was just settling down in the Hokage Residence. It was close to 11 o'clock. He had finally made it to his bed, ready for some well-deserved rest. He was halfway dressed into some sleepwear when he heard the explosion.

Jiraiya ran to the window, observing the plume of smoke arising from the front gate of the village. Stripping himself of his sleepwear, he threw on some battle attire, just forgoing whatever took time to put on like his gauntlets or his horned "Oil" forehead protector. Without the forehead protector, he let his white spiky hair blow wildly in the evening night.

He stepped outside onto the top of his abode. The Hokage watched what was happening from the Hokage Residence, as it towered over most buildings and had a good view of the main street of Konoha that the main gate led into. Most of the citizens were inside; Jiraiya instilled a curfew for most that started around 9 pm two weeks ago because of worries about this. Only a few that were on the street were supposed to be issued inside by chūnin.

He flickered himself across the village until he got a better look at the front gate on a nearby rooftop.

ANBU had already raced onto the scene as Oto ninja poured into the village. Brown earthen walls raised into the air, boxing in those who didn't make it far into Konohagakure. ANBU poured into the box to deal with them. The stragglers who did, and weren't trapped in the Earth Release ninjutsu were engaged by ANBU who were on the ground, and a joining amount of chūnin and jōnin.

So far, so good, until out of the smoking plume, he felt the chakra of some newcomers. One of the side effects of being used to Orochimaru's juinjutsu and its wielders was that they had all Orochimaru's senjutsu chakra placed into their seals. Jiraiya was no sensor outside using his, admittedly, half-baked transformation of Sage Mode but as a by-product of being adept with senjutsu, he was used to sensing chakra of that nature. He knew what Konohagakure was facing.

"Cursed Seal users," Jiraiya uttered, now jumping closer to the action. He had seen some of them transform. State One of Orochimaru's juinjutsu had the user's seal spread across their bodies. The second state had the wielders of the cursed seal transform their bodies into monstrous creations, befitting the sick mind of Orochimaru. Their bodies were covered in adulterated, perverted sage chakra.

Luckily, these people were merely prisoners, experiments of Orochimaru. He could tell by the way they were dressed – in beat-up white shirts and shorts. None of them had the finesse of a well-trained shinobi and did not display techniques. Simply madmen yelling and cackling madly as they raced to their doom. Fast indeed, yes, but can be simply thrown away.

He closed into where they were coming, on the main street, and enacted his next move.

Jiraiya contorted his fingers into hand seals in a rapid blur, sucking in the air. He gathered the necessary chakra in his stomach, transformed it, and exhaled the wind in the form of the Fūton: Daitoppa. The technique was simple: a release of wind to blow away targets. However, its strength varied and relied on its user's chakra. Jiraiya placed more than a modest amount of chakra in the technique, as it sent out a massive, almost hurricane-level gale of wind. The gigantic main gate and whatever trees were in the path of the destructive wind were collateral, but it dealt with many of the shinobi who were running straight inside the village.

He sacrificed more of the landscape as he added fire into the wind, and the gale-force wind became a howling firestorm that burned and melted anything – human, plant, or any poor animal – caught in the follow-up ninjutsu. Fires burned, lighting a path in the darkness.

"Sensors," he barked out to nearby ninjas as he landed on the street. "Any stragglers?"

A pause. "Very little left, Hokage-sama!"

Then, one of the ANBU yelled as spikes made of white bone impaled through his metal armor. Jutting through his chest and neck, his death was brutal and instant. Bullets made of the same bone followed next, taking out any unfortunate ninjas nearby. A white-haired youth looked at them with a cold stare.

Above them, loud cackling began. The Hokage dodged a stomp from an airborne combatant. To his shock, Jiraiya sensed full-on, unadulterated senjutsu with a demented-looking ninja that was fully transformed and blades protruding from his arms. He, along with his partner, hacked down any poor ANBU not fast enough to get away.

He knew who one of them was, judging from Sasuke's description of the white-haired youth. It was one of Orochimaru's so-called boogeymen. He raced to Jiraiya with black symbols painting his face and upper body. The Hokage was ready for him, but Tsunade decided to step in as she sent a fist into the ground, causing a rupture to the ground.

The Kaguya jumped back and looked at the two with deadened eyes, unafraid he was facing two Kage-level shinobi. The red-haired smiled evilly at the two, also not worried in the slightest. Most people would be a bit perturbed or cautious. And like the universe gave him an answer to his inquiring thoughts, an aching pain started in his hand. Jiraiya knew what was up. The seal glowed bright and angry on his hand. If these two were here, then that meant all this chaos the Oto ninja ensued was merely a distraction, he believed.

It was an indication of one thing – that Sasuke Uchiha had left the village.

"They got him. I'll handle these two, Tsunade; go after the ones who took Sasuke," Jiraiya commanded to his councilor. Tsunade nodded wordlessly. He gave her a paper seal. "You can track him with this. If you can, get anyone available on your way out. Hurry."

Protrusions from the tall gray-skinned redhead started to glow blue – an indication of chakra. Jiraiya had slammed an open palm fist into his face, which made the half-demonic ninja roll back in a tumble. The Kaguya sent an array of bone spears to the Senju, but Tsunade had already disappeared into the night.

Jiraiya was already in the white-haired teen's face, who now sported the working of Orochimaru's cursed seal. A kick punted the teen to the roof of a building before he could defend himself. By the time the Hokage allowed his leg back down, the maddened redhead ran back at him swinging a blade created out of his arm. Jiraiya weaved through the flurry of attacks, noting the shinobi was not very skilled. He was sure that this young man was more of a berserker than a real ninja.

A quick intone of ninjutsu summoned wind out of Jiraiya's palm to blow away the enemy. He followed with a tiger hand seal to shoot a fireball shaped like a dragon's head out of his mouth. Uncaring if the berserker ninja was hurt by it, the Godaime pursued the more dangerous of the two by launching himself to the roof. As he jumped to the top, he dipped to the left to avoid bone-white, bullet-shaped projectiles before taking to the skies again. The Godaime Hokage heard the maddened cackling from before, performed a half-ram hand seal to create a clone of himself, and directed his creation to deal with the other shinobi.

The berserker shinobi and the Kaguya both shared the same thought, engaging the Hokage and his clone in taijutsu. The Kaguya showed swordsmanship with a blade made of bone, swinging deftly at Jiraiya with finesse and controlled, surgical strikes. The madman shinobi shifted his arm to create an axe-like appendage and started swinging at the Hokage's clone not caring one bit about technique. Jiraiya had flung several shuriken stars at his opponent, watching as the Kaguya deflected them away with his bone sword. His clone smacked his enemy with two blows to his face. Both of them jumped mid-air, their backs facing each other.

The clone turned to face the berserker and breathed in deeply. Jiraiya mimicked the idea, facing the Kaguya. Hand seals flashed from the tiger, then the bird, then the dragon, the tiger again, and finally, the horse seal. "Katon Gassaku," they started to call out, "Yūdachi Yakeru!" A rainstorm of searing flame pelted the rooftop with superhot fireballs; fire dug into the tiles underneath viciously. If their enemies were hit, their skin would easily melt.

Boosters were created on the back of the tall teen to escape the fireballs, while the Kaguya similarly dodged with his enhanced speed. The clone of the Hokage pursued the redhead, while the original creator focused on the Kaguya. An influx of chakra the Hokage could sense; senjutsu again, this time from the Kaguya, which signified usage of the cursed seal.

The Kaguya's skin darkened to a dark gray, the sclera of his eyes blackened, and his eyes became piss-yellow, glowing in the night ominously. He even grew a tail, looking somewhere between the mixture of a human and a dinosaur. Bones sprouted from the Kaguya's back. Somewhere, the Kaguya decided to ditch the sword for a new weapon. He leaned forward, crouching low, as he produced his spine lengthened and manipulated to become a macabre-looking whip.

Yet, the Hokage was not unnerved, as he deflected the whip as it swung at him with a quickly-formed Rasengan, which had the whip spin back and out of his opponent's hand and away from them. The Kaguya gritted his teeth, seeing Jiraiya enter his guard before more bones sprouted from his body to prevent the Kage-level shinobi from doing more damage. The Kaguya backed up, trying for his whip again, dodging as Jiraiya one-handedly sent spheres of fire his way. He swung his whip at the Hokage again in a dance. Jiraiya was still too fast for it as he jumped over the whip and detonated the Rasengan on it. It shattered down the middle, as the bone whip broke into two halves and fell to the floor.

Jiraiya moved in the Kaguya, dodging spikes growing out of the ground. The technique held the Kaguya in place in concentration, which made Jiraiya's next move all the easier to pull off. He stomped on the ground as a bog from the Doton: Yomi Numa prevented his enemy from escaping.

The Hokage was not surprised when his opponent flashed away, using the Kawarimi no Jutsu to substitute himself with a piece of the bone whip from earlier, now digging into the bog and the rooftop. The Kaguya was already closing in on the Hokage, but Jiraiya was still fast enough to miss the newly created bone drill on his arm. He planted a foot into the side of Orochimaru's shinobi with speed that the Kaguya couldn't possibly counter and stab his foot with his bones.

It sent the Kaguya back but it still didn't deter him from approaching again. Ninjas from the Kaguya Clan who had mastery of the Shikotsumyaku were hard to kill with normal conventional means, which was why Kirigakure deployed them in the Third Shinobi World War, and why they lasted long enough in the world war.

But they were not impossible to kill, especially not for a shinobi of the Hokage's caliber. Besides the usage of his Kekkai Gekkai, and some other basic ninjutsu, the Kaguya Jiraiya was fighting didn't display anything too advanced like elemental ninjutsu, and he doubted genjutsu as well. A powerful shinobi was his opponent, but he still did not have what a kage or even most jōnin-level shinobi should have, which was well-roundedness and mastery in all three schools of ninja techniques.

This is why he created an earth-natured clone, who started to charge at the white-haired shinobi. At the last moment, bones jutted out of the Kaguya's frame as Jiraiya "skewered" himself. Quickly, the Kaguya found himself ensnarled again in ninjutsu as the clone exploded into mud and caked the entire body of his opponent with earth. Further application of earth chakra created the Doton: Yomi Numa's bog again to make sure the Kaguya couldn't do anything. The technique could ensnare even large summons, so Orochimaru's ninja wasn't going to do anything.

Jiraiya opened his mouth and blasted the Kaguya with brown oil.

"The Shikotsumyaku truly makes it hard for someone to outright use taijutsu and bladed techniques against you. You can heal through nearly any sort of conventional damage. Even further, Orochimaru's seal made your skin downright hard to penetrate. But it doesn't exactly make you fireproof, right?" After that, Jiraiya finished a set of hand seals for a Fire Release ninjutsu, puffed his chest, leaned back, and shot a ray of flame at the young teen.

To his credit, the Kaguya did not yell or shriek in pain as his skin was stripped away. He concentrated. For many cycles, he would heal back the flesh and bones until his chakra finally fizzled out – a testament to how dense his chakra pools were. The fire ate at him finally and the last bit of regeneration he had was finally stopped. The Kaguya's skin was dust in the wind; bones became nothing but ashes.

But he did not scream. All he did was stare at Jiraiya as if he was trying to curse the Toad Sage before he perished. Yellow eyes became green until the eyes melted into nothing with everything else of the Kaguya. Spooky shit.

He kept the fire up for a few more seconds to make sure the Kaguya was dead, truly believing for a second – somehow – this young man could come back. Jiraiya stopped feeding the conflagration with his chakra, steely looking at his handiwork for a moment. He had been completely sure that that was the last of the Kaguya Clan he had slayed.

And it had been a shame. Such a powerful shinobi could have been nurtured differently had he not fallen into the hands of Orochimaru.

The Hokage turned, and on cue, his clone had returned. He brought with him the redheaded teen, carrying him over his shoulder. Notably, the berserker shinobi looked more human as any sort of transformation from before had receded.

"There's something different about this big guy than the other curse seal users like that Kaguya," the clone commented, dropping the dead body of the Kaguya's former partner.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, we can sense that they were using senjutsu chakra, right? Even without our Sage Mode, we can feel that power a bit and its definitely senjutsu. All users of that cursed seal Orochimaru cooked up were using that power. This guy right on my shoulder was brimming with it as well."

"So? He too was a cursed seal user, right?"

The clone shook his head. "I didn't see any sort of seal-work adorned anywhere on his body before I killed him. Yet he could use senjutsu chakra. Yes, he transformed like them, but he lacked Orochimaru's mark."

"Hmm," Jiraiya began, stroking his chin. "Might be some sort of Kekkai Genkai. I should have Tsunade analyze the body or take him back to the toads at Mount Myōboku so they can give some insight too. If he could transform into a state that could use senjutsu chakra without some outside help, then maybe they know about it. That, and I'll have to do some research on it in the outside world because I have never fought a shinobi that can transform into that state.

"Then I know the reason why you haven't destroyed the boy's body," Jiraiya finished, unable to keep an excited smile off his face.

"Yeah." The clone copied the grin. "If we can figure out how this boy and the cursed seals are related, then perhaps with some tinkering, we can get rid of ol' Orochi's seal once and for all."

Leaving the village was smooth, but leaving the country had not been so. The four members of the Sound Four hadn't even made it more than an hour away from Konoha before they were stopped.

A squad of four jōnin-level Konoha shinobi followed them, three men and one woman, and things got even dicier. If it wasn't for the usage of Stage 2 of their cursed seals, the Sound Four would have been overwhelmed and killed. The battle ended with their victory. However, they couldn't kill the jōnin as the woman, a med-nin, took her teammates and retreated.

The four of them did not pursue their enemies. They instead raced forward, too busy licking their wounds and trying to recuperate their strength – and their chakra. All of the team had dense chakra pools, as their deceased master had once stated to them, but that last battle had been long drawn out. Usage of their highest form of Orochimaru's juinjutsu had left them exhausted after the power trip was over. She didn't know about the rest of her teammates, but she had burned quite a bit of her chakra, and Orochimaru-sama had once remarked to her in private that she had the most chakra of the group – eclipsing the physically stronger Jirōbō or the Sakon/Ukon twins.

The Uchiha fucker was taken out of Kidōmaru's spider cocoon technique, the Kumo Mayu. They surrounded Sasuke's body in four angles, and all combined their chakra for a combination of a ninjutsu/fūinjutsu: the Shikokumujin. A purplish-black, foul fog engulfed the unconscious teen, and he was transferred into the coffin that Sakon had unsealed from a scroll.

"Kimimaro-san and his friend are still out there in that village," Jirōbō remarked first. "I hope they can catch up with us."

"Who cares?" Sakon responded callously. "You know they're just expendable. Kimimaro knew that too. We don't need them. Once we get far enough, past the Valley of The End, we'll unseal the Uchiha scum, release Orochimaru-sama from the Cursed Seal of Heaven, and go from there."

"You can sound a little less salty you got your shit rocked, Sakon. Twice in one day, no less. Damn. Couldn't be me…" The spider-like teased, to which the team's leader scowled at him.

"Oi, shut the hell up, Kidōmaru!"

Tayuya wasn't in the mood to bicker or talk. She just wanted it to be over with, already not liking the idea that Orochimaru would be back to life in just a few more hours, but knowing she had no choice.

Kidōmaru's snickering stopped, and his face tightened. "Wait, something's up. Someone just passed through my threads."

"Something wrong?" Sakon questioned, straightening up.

"Someone's coming for us." The spider-like teen did not have his characteristic smirk, Tayuya noted. He looked perturbed. "This person… is strong."

She started to feel it, the foreign chakra. It was like an ocean wave that washed over her. She did not have something like a ninjutsu that gave her strong sensory abilities like Kidōmaru, but she was still sensitive enough to foreign chakra and this person felt like being around Orochimaru.

"He must have gotten past the barrier tags we put on those trees back there," Jirōbō added, with a frown. "But without setting them off."

"How strong, Kidōmaru? Konoha sent us more trash like those shinobi at us?" Sakon queried, not happy either. "Is it like Kimimaro's chakra?"

"No, not Kimimaro."


"So much more! He has so much chakra, like Orochimaru-sama!"

Then who the fuck was it? Kakashi Hatake? Because she believed they could take him. Tsunade was way different of a problem, or – hell, did the fucking Hokage come to get them?!

Sakon, irritated, started to bark, "Kidōmaru, snap the hell out of it, already! Let's just-"

"Yeah, y'all probably should have just run instead of arguing. You're so loud, anyone could hear you out here." Sat on a tree was a red-haired man, with his head held up by a hand. An easy-going smile was on his face. "Ah, teens these days."

Jirōbō dropped Sasuke's coffin, preparing with Sakon for close-quarters combat, while she made for the trees with her flute now in her hands. Kidōmaru had spat out his golden web to form makeshift weapons himself.

"You. State your name, trash," called out Sakon.

Instead of doing so, a violent wave of water erupted from his mouth. Jirōbō instinctively jumped in front of the group as the usual meat shield of theirs when attacks like that one broke out. He held his hand up, his large body saturated with earth chakra. Tayuya watched as the weakest member of the team easily absorbed the chakra of the water. All that was left of the technique was the concussive force, which was further dampened by Jirōbō's chakra flow technique. All in all, Jirōbō was left unscathed.

"Not bad. A nice combination of Earth Release and chakra absorption, huh?"

Then, unannounced, golden chains erupted from the ground. Sakon and Kidōmaru had already moved away, all very agile enough. Jirōbō was slower, however, and the chains wrapped around him. With a flick of his hand, the red-haired enemy chucked her teammate away from a distance, throwing him further into the forest. Then, the redhead lazily landed on the ground, stalking slowly toward her direction.

Sakon rushed down their enemy with his usual taijutsu tactics aided by his twin, Ukon, who resided inside him. The light blue-haired threw a series of punches and they connected, but it was all for naught as the man's now revealed water-natured clone exploded into a large concentrated burst of water. It was all too similar to the thing that caught him off guard like what Sasuke Uchiha did.

Like Jirōbō, Sakon was sent flying, but not as far. She watched as he flew into a tree. He didn't seem to go unconscious this time, to his credit though. Unfortunately for him, with one specific hand seal that Tayuya recognized, a shadow clone was foisted his way, and Sakon had very little time to recover.

Kidōmaru, who was up in the trees as the chaos unfolded, had all the time in the world to set up. Headband ripped off and thrown away haphazardly, the spider teen revealed a hidden third eye. Golden web stuck to his skin in an armor. He then spat out more of his golden web and started creating his bow and arrow. He sent out a volley of arrows but, another clone of the man easily moved and weaved through the shots. He was rushing towards the spider teen, who did everything to get away.

This usage of clones to split up the team unnerved the redheaded girl. The man seemed confident enough to split up his attention amongst the team. The enemy walked toward Tayuya with a slow, relaxed gait.

'Okay, fuckhead, I don't give a shit how strong you are if you're going to make this easy. You can't beat this one!' She sneered at the man's arrogance. She had her demonic flute out, whistling out a tune as the cursed seal's State One raced across her face.

The man did stop, but only for him to smile at her.

"Genjutsu, hmm? And sound-based? Such talent for someone as young as you. A pity that genjutsu of that caliber does not affect me."

Tayuya jumped away onto a gigantic tree's branch, perturbed again at the failure of her technique. The Mateki: Mugen Onsa, empowered by Orochimaru's juinjutsu, was her fastest illusionary technique because once you heard it, it would take effect. It should have stopped the man – at least for a bit. Instead, he walked up to her tree, and looked up at her from the ground, unbothered, with that smile that continued to disturb her. "Show me what else you got, young one."

She placed her flute in her mouth and slammed her palm to the tree's branch. A black arrangement of symbols stretched onto the bark, and from a plume of smoke, three ogres, the Doki, were summoned in back of her, towering over her. She grabbed the metal flute and played a melody that caused the monstrous creatures to move and go at the man.

As she did that, she moved away, having a feeling they were only serving as a distraction. She was proven correct, unfortunately, as she saw three eruptions of smoke and chains swinging back to their creator. One of her Doki's severed heads was launched in her direction with a stone skewer sticking out of its forehead. She panicked inwardly, 'Fuck, he dispatched them so quickly. How the fucking fuck?! Fuck, fuck, fuck!'

She was running out of ideas. Unlike her teammates, she didn't excel in purely offensive moves. Yes, her taijutsu was solid, but it was never her strength. Yes, she knew ninjutsu and fūinjutsu but they were either supplementary, combination techniques or they were purely defensive. Orochimaru hadn't even bothered teaching her elemental techniques, as she didn't excel in shaping her chakra like that.

"Is that all?" The man questioned with a mocking drawl. "Orochimaru didn't teach you anything to help combat your weakness to close-range other than summons? Were your teammates supposed to cover for you forever?"

She heard him from behind, and she twisted her body to throw a punch in his direction. Tayuya didn't have enough time to react, as golden chains grabbed her wrists, then her ankles dropped her and pulled her to her knees.

She yelped as she helplessly lay on the ground on her stomach and the chains snaked all around her differently, hogtying her. She tried flaring her chakra to somehow break the chains, but it was all for naught. She felt her chakra dissipate and the flow inside her body ceased. She tried to summon the other chakra from her seal but it did not come out. Orochimaru screamed petulantly that it was the work of a seal before his voice receded into the cursed seal as did his presence.

"Don't struggle. Not like you could move anyway."

Tayuya spat out with a venomous, "Fuck you."

"Charming words. Relax, I'm not going to hurt you."

"Whatever you're going to do, do it now, and get it over with."

"I'm not going to hurt you," he reiterated. "Why would I hurt someone of my clan?"

Huh? What the hell was he saying now? "Wait, what?"

"Yes, you are of the Uzumaki, young girl. I can feel it. Dense chakra pools that easily eclipse your teammates, that strange chakra only our clan has."

"What the fuck is an Uzumaki?!"

The so-called "Uzumaki" shook his head, sighing deeply. "Oh, Orochimaru, you piece of garbage. You never let this poor girl know who she was. I'm sure even he didn't know who he had on his side. If he did, he would have trained you, my dear, more properly. You could have been a great kunoichi if he knew you were an Uzumaki.

"Instead, all I see is a one-trick pony who can only work alongside others. Those three children were also pretty one-dimensional too – well, maybe not the spider boy since he could summon, create weapons, sense chakra, and had your master's juinjutsu. Shame I couldn't test him too much. He had very interesting chakra too. I think I fought someone from his clan a long time ago in the Third War…"

As he rambled on, she listened to the way the enemy was talking about her teammates. It was past tense. They were dead, weren't they?

A roar from behind them said one of them wasn't, as Jirōbō, now in his orange, monstrous-looking Stage Two form ran at them with the intent of tearing the Uzumaki limb from limb. Even with the added speed, her teammate could not touch him.

"Oh, still alive after I threw you at least a mile away? You've got some durability, I'll give you that."

Jirōbō growled, "Shut the hell up, trash! You caught me by surprise, but this time, you won't get the chance to do so!"

The man looked unimpressed. "Okay then. Lemme see if this new sage transformation makes you any better than before."

Another roar from her large teammate as he ran and engaged the man in taijutsu. The Uzumaki weaved through the sequence of attacks, pivoting on his feet deftly. When Jirōbō got in his face again trying to grab him, the Uzumaki moved to give the big teen a shove. The man dared to yawn.

"Too slow," he mocked. Jirōbō snarled in return and ran back at the Uzumaki, but his anger got the best of him. He overextended with a missed shoulder tackle, and the Uzumaki ruthlessly kicked at Jirōbō's head. The teen slid back, catching himself on a tree as he got up.

The enemy shinobi was already upon him, flashing forward at a speed she barely could keep track of. He pulled Jirōbō rightly up and slammed a series of punches into his face. A spinning heel kick lashed out at Jirōbō, launching the teen off his feet. It threw him back, damn near taking his head off his shoulders. Her teammate landed. Jirōbō recovered, wiping his bleeding chin and hawked out spit, mucus, and blood together.

"Come now, boy, can you try something else?"

"You old bastard!" Jirōbō roared. He slammed his hands into the ground, heaving up a huge piece of the earth. A mass of dirt converted into a large, hardened boulder. The man still looked unimpressed, as the shadow of the earth release ninjutsu overtook him. Golden chains were summoned and laid on the ground. All that went under Jirōbō's notice.

"Eat shit and die!" Jirōbō threw his technique out at the Uzumaki with impressive speeds, but it was all for naught. The chains that ensnarled her before and threw Jirōbō around, coiled around the boulder. The Uzumaki, with ease, redirected back Jirōbō's Doton: Doryō Dango. Tayuya only got a glimpse of Jirōbō starting to run as the ninjutsu made contact with the ground.

The boulder exploded into thousands of pieces. She was out of the range of the shrapnel, thankfully. Somewhere in between the rock bombing into the earth, a clone of the Uzumaki grabbed her and moved her further away. Anything in the blast radius of the stone meeting the earth would have been pelted and crushed by rock and dirt. She wasn't sure if her teammate got away.

Tayuya's worries were quelled as movement from the earth began. Ground and rock were used again as Jirōbō's summon walked the earth. A golem, Jirōbō's Dorō Gōremu, hustled towards the Uzumaki with a sprint – well, anything considered "fast" for a creature of such size.

"More rocks? And still so slow too." His mocking soon ceased when a dome of rock covered him, a sign of Jirōbō's Doton Kekkai: Dorō Dōmu.

"Got you now, bastard! No escaping when me and my golem make sure you don't have enough energy left!" Jirōbō slammed his hands onto his earthen construction, as did his golem from the other side of the earthen prison. The summon had the same ability to drain chakra from opponents as Jirōbō did.

In Tayuya's opinion, the combination of his techniques was perfectly executed by Jirōbō. At first, she was worried that somehow the man would escape the prison easily. The prison was durable and often made people panic inside it since it had no light inside of it, and then the chakra absorption began, draining your chakra away quickly. The only downside was on the other side of the dome, if one was aware of it, the dome could be broken through.

With the dome being covered by two beings that could absorb chakra, any sort of ordinary shinobi could never break out.

But Tayuya knew one thing. This technique never worked on Kimimaro, Guren, and certainly not on Orochimaru. Why? Because they were not ordinary shinobi.

A pit opened underneath the golem, causing it to fall in partially with its head sticking up. It was wiggling, trying to free himself but then, a pillar of red fire rose into the night sky. The flame pillar would incinerate any normal target, but Tayuya thought the golem could take it.

Turns out she was wrong.

As the pillar finished, there was nothing left of the golem except melting, molten rock that spilled over the pit and raced out back into some trees, that quickly caught on fire. The rest of it moved forward, snaking around the dome. Jirōbō had moved already, not desiring to be incinerated like his golem creation.

The raging fire and molten rock were quelled when it was directed into pits that swallowed it into the depths of the earth. Cooling water raced out of the dome the Uzumaki was trapped in from all directions, and the earthen prison exploded. Tayuya was placed in a strategic location by the clone of the Uzumaki shinobi, further cementing that the man wanted to keep her from harm. The Uzumaki himself stepped out of the remains of the dome, looking not very winded from all of what he was put through.

"Well, at least that was pretty interesting. Good attempt, but you probably need about a half-hour or so to absorb all of my chakra. We both don't have that amount of time, child."

This was fucking ridiculous. Three elemental affinities, the ability to produce clones, that chain ninjutsu/fūinjutsu or whatever, the ability to seal away chakra, enough chakra to keep throwing out such techniques, and speed and strength that easily could handle anyone of their caliber. And it felt like they were just on the iceberg of what this Uzumaki fuckhead could do. Tayuya had no such belief that Jirōbō could do anything against this man if all of his techniques weren't doing anything.

Jirōbō raced through a couple of hand seals, slammed a palm into the earth, and tore the ground apart as stone and dirt broke and shifted. Trees were uprooted in the chaos caused by the last of the Sound Four. The Uzumaki jumped in the air and spat out a large amount of water, shaped like a dragon. It sped fast at him

Jirōbō slammed his hands to the ground as an earthen-style wall rose. He stood, had his hands out, and saturated himself further with earth-natured chakra. That was his last action alive as the water dragon slammed right through the wall and gored into him, launching the poor bastard off his feet completely as it threw him back into a tree. The technique had gotten through the wall and overloaded his chakra absorption, and the orange-haired boy's Stage Two transformation receded.

Tayuya was grabbed again, and they appeared down where Jirōbō ended up. She was unconcerned about being dropped so roughly. She instead looked at her teammate and shuddered. Inspecting a sizable hole where a part of his chest used to be, all she could stare at it and her. He stared back at her with lifeless eyes.

Then Sakon was dropped in front of her, similarly as dead as Jirōbō. He, and his twin brother. Next, Kidōmaru was no different from the rest of the Sound Four. She could feel her eyes burning. Oh Gods, she was about to die as well.

"Like I said, just disappointing. Every one of you was disappointing. Young children who couldn't fill the shoes your master put you in."

"P-Please, spare me!"

"I told you before: you are my kin. We Uzumaki do not kill each other. Even if you are quite the rude girl. I am disappointed in your skills but I can't blame you all too much. You simply never knew of your heritage."

"What the fuck do you want with me then?!" She paused. Then she looked even more desperate. She was helplessly in binds, and no one was here to defend her. She was a woman, and this guy kept saying that they were family… "No, no, just kill me!"

The man sighed exasperatedly, as he picked her up. She screamed, unable to free herself from his chains. "Put me the fuck down and just kill me already! I rather die than be your sex-"

She was thrown to the ground roughly. He grabbed the back of her head, raised her neck, and pressed a dagger on her throat. "See this? I could easily do what I want to you if I was that disgusting. But you're not only still alive but you have your dignity.

"We Uzumaki don't kill family but we aren't above beating the hell of them. I don't quite care for your accusations. I'm a seal master and a good medic. Unless you want to lose your speaking privileges, I suggest being quiet."

Cowed again, Tayuya held her tongue and just accepted her fate. Logic said there was nothing she could do realistically. Hot tears raced down her face. Confusion soon followed as the Uzumaki man walked up to the coffin Sasuke Uchiha was placed into.

With one hand seal, the five talisman seals of the coffin were thrown off. He lifted the lid of the coffin and threw his head back to avoid the black fog as it rose out. Sasuke reappeared, still unconscious and wrapped in the spider web. The man used the kunai that he threatened Tayuya with before to carve the Uchiha out of Kidōmaru's cocoon. Sasuke was lying there, dead to the world in a deep sleep.

'What the fuck is he doing now?' Tayuya complained, inwardly. The Uzumaki man walked a bit away from both Sasuke and her and started to do hand seals that she could not follow. An array indicating fūinjutsu bled ink into the ground. He bit his finger to draw blood, now making her think he was about to do the Kuchiyose no Jutsu.

She had been right, but out of the plume of smoke that followed after using the Kuchiyose, it was no animal that had been summoned. It had been a man, whose red eyes glowed eerily in the midnight light.

"Itachi-kun," the Uzumaki man had started, with a smile on his face. "It's been a while."

"Ichirō-san," Itachi Uchiha spoke in a baritone. "Indeed, it has."


A/N: Always interesting reading and seeing about the Sound Four/Five, always harder to write them in my opinion. But fuck all that noise.

ITACHI! Whathehellisheherefor?

Idk, guess you're about to find out.

And sorry, Kimimaro fans. Don't think he could have done much against Jiraiya – or any sannin, plenty of other S-rank ninja, etc. As cool as Orochimaru's Part I lackeys were, they just got the shit end of the stick here.

Onto the next chapter and such.

Translation List:

Doton: Doryō Dango – Earth Release: Earth Mausoleum Dumpling

Doton Kekkai: Dorō Dōmu – Earth Release Barrier: Earth Prison Dome of Magnificent Nothingness

Fūton: Daitoppa – Wind Release: Great Breakthrough

Kuchiyose no Jutsu – Summoning Technique

Kumo Mayu – Spider Cocoon

Mateki: Mugen Onsa – Demonic Flute: Phantom Sound Chains

Shikokumujin – Four Black Fogs Formation

Shikotsumyaku – Dead Bone Pulse

Technique List:

Fire Release Collaboration: Evening Shower Searing (Katon Gassaku: Yūdachi Yakeru) – Involving two users, the wielders of the technique get close to each other, synchronizing their chakra, jump in mid-air and rain down many small fireballs in a "shower" to cause damage to those in the range of the attack. The fireballs are said to be able to eat stone and flesh alike.