Chapter 1


Tanzaku Gai was a city of vice, always had and always would be. It was a place of gambling, drinking and whoring, a place for human desires to seek satisfaction only to find a craving for even more in the next drink, in the next slot-machine or card table, in the next scantily clad woman. Certainly it was a place of great joy for many and certainly there were those who managed their desires at least somewhat, coming here for a few drinks and a session or two at the card tables and being content with that. Yet for all too many it was an addiction, a pounding addiction for ever more pleasure. People standing by the machines and the tables with eyes glowing with hunger, or glazed over by the bars or indeed in the alleys where they drank themselves into a stupor, or at the whorehouses where some whores had managed to gain several obsessive admirers that needed to be thrown out by force.

And where the insane hunger reigned, organized crime reigned. Tanzaku Gai was a city of crime. Not the crime that mugged people at knife-point, though there was no shortage of that as well. The crime that scammed people at the tables and threw them out when they objected, that mixed roofies into the drinks in return for being allowed to record what the buyer was going to do with his victim, that pushed people to gamble away their entire lives and clasp them in fetters as indentured servants. Pleasure, money and lives was the trade of Tanzaku Gai, all these being things the crime syndicates thrived in.

Anyone who claimed the syndicates were about brotherhood, honor or simply protecting your home were either deluded or lying. Whatever purposes the syndicates had started out for, they were nexuses of greed, fear and power-lust only. They were places where people were used up by their overlords and made to serve through money as well as large amounts of hot air about loyalty and terrifying examples made of all that didn't obey, cults formed around rapacious greed rather than manic worship of some deity, with utter control being wielded by those at the top in both cases. Like with the now departed Gatoh, money was king and what money couldn't buy, violence cowed.

This was the true nature of Tanzaku Gai, a fetid carbuncle hidden behind a facade of lights and levity. A rainstorm had drawn in over the city, making a brave, but futile, attempt to quell the perverse high spirits of the city. The droplets struck the roads and rooftops with a pitter-patter mirroring that of the feet inside the casinos, bars and whorehouses as well as on the roads outside as people hurried between these. Through these streets a small group of people were walking at the moment, their steps carrying none of the brisk eagerness or desperate hurry of everyone around them. Dressed in wide, hooded ponchos they were walking down the roads steadily, almost ominously. The middle figure of the trio looked up towards a street-sign that hung on the corner, brow furrowing before she turned left with the other two following her down it.

Their steps took them through the rain and into a more ominous part of the city of Tanzaku Gai, beyond the glittering facade and towards the seedy underbelly. The roads they came onto were not a tenth as lively as before. Some stores could be seen here or there as well as some smaller, run-down gambling establishments. Yet the biggest and most noticeable feature was the three-story building further down the street. Despite the relatively unremarkable construction, the way it seemed to spread out where it lay was easy to see. This was a house that had taken its place, the builders knocking down whatever got in the way. The sign hanging outside only made it even clearer what this was.

'Tanzu Group Headquarters', the sign said, marking this place as the headquarters of one of Tanzaku Gai's oldest and most vicious syndicate. The three figures came to a halt there, staring up at the sign for a second.

"This is it?" The second of the three figures asked, his male voice breaking through the almost oppressive silence that had come with the rain.

"Tanzu Group." The third figure said. "Has to be. They wouldn't have a decoy headquarters, they're too arrogant for that."

"Let's do this," the first figure said now walking up straight towards the door and opening it with a rough shove. It is important to keep in mind here what these buildings represented to the average man. This place was a place of dark power, the seat of a criminal emperor that shied no means to keep his power and who gladly killed just to make a point. This figure walked straight in, shoving the door open without any kind of hesitation. The either brave or insane action caught the attention of the thugs in the smoke-filled foyer, several tattooed men looking up in surprise as the trio entered. Some had been playing shogi, a few had been reading a magazine and others been sitting around talking. The intrusion drew all their eyes to the door however, shock and anger visible on their faces as they scrambled to their feet.

"Ey, the 'ell you think you doin', eh?!" A large, scarred man yelled as he stood up, coming over with a hand on his sword. He was a piece of work indeed, with tattoos visible at the neckline and wrists under his yukata and towering at least a foot above the three intruders. He blocked the way for them his entire body language showing his aggression and cocky arrogance.

"Get out of my way," the girl at the front of the group said, her face turning into a slight sneer as she looked at the man. "I'm here to see your boss, and I'm already in a bad enough mood that you don't want to push me further," she told him. The thug didn't listen, sadly, and after a second of shocked indignation he reached to pull out his sword. And yet, the girl stepped forward, slamming her palm towards the pommel of the sword to keep it there, her other hand shooting up to punch him in the cheek before she bent her now raised arm to bring her elbow into the man's solar plexus. The blow hit the diaphragm and the man collapsed like a wet rag onto the floor as the girl began to walk by him, stepping over the man's now curled up body as she headed for the door.

Another thug called out now, many of them reaching for their weapons, yet the third of the three figures raised his hood a little now, revealing what was beneath the hood. His face, as well as the forehead protector he wore, became visible. It was a forehead protector with a stylized leaf upon it.

"Try it, tadpoles," he told them with an amused voice, "just try it. It won't help, but try it." He smirked, looking at the thugs as he reached into his clothes for something. In that instant, all the bluster vanished from the thugs and they shrunk away, anger replaced with fear. Only one of them, a young man who had "fresh meat" written all of him, didn't back down.

"Don't you look down on the Tanzu Gro..." he began before an older man pulled him back and placed a hand over his mouth.

"P-pardon us, shinobi-sama," the older thug said now, bowing and pushing the younger man to bow as well. "I-I'll personally bring you before the boss," he added before whispering to the young man. "They're shinobi you idiot, if they want to they can kill us all!" The younger thug went pale now, his bravado vanishing as fast as that of his seniors. He withdrew quickly, the three intruders now pulling back their hoods.

"That was easy," the third figure said as his short brown hair came into view. Sarutobi Konohamaru smirked as he said this, looking at the thugs.

"Would I step out of line if I suggested more diplomacy from now on?" Uchiha Sasuke asked as he pulled back his hood as well. Compared to Konohamaru he seemed much like he had three years ago, only having grown taller and more mature. He looked to his teammate with a dry look on his face.

"Just bring us to your boss, will you?" Namikaze Kimiko said as she pulled back her hood as well. Her eyes were narrowed, focused and not the least amused. She looked at the thugs that now were slowly backing off with neither amusement nor dispassionate watchfulness, rather with contempt. Whatever childish roundness had been on her face had largely vanished and been replaced with a lean teenager's build. The whisker-like marks were still there, as were the short hair and the eye-color. But the eyes were different, much different. Compared to the Kimiko of three years ago, it was hard to see that it was the same person. The eyes had hardened, lost their vibrant, wide-eyed intensity and instead gotten the dull gleam of steel in them.

The intimidated thug nodded and hurriedly escorted them out of the foyer and deeper into the large compound. He led them up to the third floor and deep into the building, past room after room, many with activity of all kinds inside them, from what seemed like small parties to outright business meetings. In the end they came up to a large sliding door, guarded by two ronin who only reluctantly stepped to the side to allow them inside. They were shown into a massive room inside which the leader of the Tanzu Group was sitting. The man in question was in his sixties, a wiry, worn man with a wrinkled face, hard eyes and a mouth perpetually locked in a displeased scowl. Dressed in a yukata, he was sitting on a pillow in front of a table, seemingly having been in the middle of composing a letter. His pale green eyes turned to stare at the trio of shinobi that entered the room, narrowing as they fell on them.

"I didn't think you Konoha shinobi were given to dealing with my kind," he said with a hard, lifeless voice. "Especially not the little princess of Konoha. To what do I owe the honor of having Namikaze Kimiko herself visit me?" he asked, a sarcastic drawl in his voice. Kimiko entered the room, as did her companions, and they closed the door behind them. Kimiko walked up to the man, standing in front of him as she spoke.

"You're sheltering someone," she said, going straight for the business at hand, "I want to meet that person. You can do whatever you want with him after that, but I want to meet him." The old man behind the table narrowed his eyes a little more at this and slowly put away the brush he had been using, clasping his hands in front of himself and looking up at her.

"And why, pray tell, should I indulge such a request?" he asked. "You've given me no reason to do so. On the contrary, you barge into my home, threaten and indeed beat up my men, and now you make demands out of me? If you want something of me, you're doing a very poor job of getting it."

Kimiko glared down at him now, eyes narrowing for her as well as she slowly bared her teeth. "How about," she began now, "That if you don't, I'm going to raze this place to the ground and have you worked over with genjutsu until you squeal." If she had intended to be intimidating, it seemed she had failed, for the old man only smiled wryly.

"That's not how this works," he told her, "If you want something off someone it's common courtesy to offer something in return. While you shinobi tend to deal in violence, surely you're not unfamiliar with that concept?" he asked, Kimiko baring her teeth now.

"Your life," she said. "The continued existence of your extortion and gambling ring and that you'll keep that person when I'm done. Sounds like a decent deal for me. If you're so well-informed of everything you should know what I'm capable of."

"Little girl," the old man said now with a contempt-filled voice. "I've been in this business since before your father was born. You might be a jinchuuriki, but I did not get to where I am now by being a pushover myself. But go ahead then," he said. "Tear down this place, and let all of Fire Country buzz with the rumours of how the Hokage lets his daughter run loose, destroying whatever she pleases. I'm quite sure the Daimyo would take exception to have entire city blocks randomly demolished by the Shinobi that ostensibly are subordinate to him." He smiled now, evilly, and looked up at Kimiko without the least anxiety.

Kimiko only smiled however, staring down the man now as a tremor started going through the air. Her eyes slowly changed color, the pupils stretching out upwards and downwards to form into slits. She smiled, showing off her teeth which were slowly growing sharper and sharper as the almost palpable sensation of pure blood-thirst filled the room. An ancient, rage-filled hatred flooded the room, drenching everyone inside it in it's choking miasma and Kimiko's eyes locked straight onto the man, staring him down with all the force and terror of an ancient demon pouring out of her.

"Is that you giving me permission?" she asked, her voice reverberating with the force, the potency and the sheer HATRED of the ancient Kyuubi no Kitsune, all of it focused on the man in front of her. The man, who had been staring her down with a contempt-filled sneer, had now broken into a cold sweat. His hands were beginning to tremble and his breathing became quicker. Kimiko lashed out now, grabbing him by the clothes and pulling him in. "Do you remember when you were little?" she asked with a growl as she stared him down. "The monster under your bed? The thing you couldn't escape, that you cowered before? I am that monster, and it doesn't matter what you are. Give me what I want and I leave, otherwise, I will eat you!" Her last words made the entire room shake

The man trembled still, staring in fear into the eyes of terror itself as it held him, giving him no quarter, no escape, no way to avoid it but to submit. So he did, nodding frantically now and scurrying away when Kimiko let go of him. All his dignity was lost, the man cowed into obedience by primal horror. Kimiko towered above him and even as the man got up, standing taller than the young girl, he was subjugated with raw force. Konohamaru and Sasuke, who both had been standing silently by the door, exchanged a single glance as Kimiko followed the man out of the room, right behind him. If he had thought that he could make the shinobi stand down, he had not counted on just how far Kimiko was ready to go.

The aged man led Kimiko out of the room and down the stairs again, this time heading into the basement. The young kunoichi had lost the bestial appearance but not the ruthless determination in her eyes. None of them said anything as they got to the basement, where the old man pulled a small, hidden lever in the doorway which made a secret, heavy door open in the wall, a section of the wall rising to reveal a corridor beyond, a large, long corridor disappearing into the darkness.

"He is down there," the man said, looking back at Kimiko, who only shook his head.

"You're going as well," she said, fixing him with her glare. She moved to block the entrance out of the basement, giving the man no option but to obey unless he was planning to take her on. Gritting his teeth, the man slowly turned around and began down the hallway. Konohamaru and Sasuke were a few meters behind her and looked at her back now.

"Think this'll work?" Konohamaru asked Sasuke. "Will this 'defector' really spill?"

"Won't envy him if he doesn't," Sasuke muttered as they began after Kimiko. Neither of them envied the crime boss. Though he was a vile man, he was also the victim of three years of pent up impatience that now reached a boiling point. After three long years, the first trace of damn near anything concerning the Akatsuki had appeared and Kimiko had pounced on the clue with her fangs out. Their teammate was going to tear down earth and sky, and the man that now began into the corridor was caught right in her path. Kimiko followed him into the corridor with Sasuke and Konohamaru only a couple of meters behind her.

Then the man looked back at them for a second before lashing a hand out to the side, slamming a hand into the wall and pushing a secret button. In a split-second, the massive steel door that had hidden the corridor slammed down between Kimiko and her teammates. A loud bang echoed through the entire level, Kimiko looking back in surprise and finding only a thick metal wall behind her. As her eyes left the old crime boss, however, the man reached into his clothes and took out a kunai.

The distance between them was bridged in a second and Kimiko, still turned away, didn't see the man as he slashed towards her neck with a speed that made him turn into a blur. The knife dove towards her, seemingly about to impact yet only a split-second before impacting with her the neck moved away. Kimiko bent where she stood, with a gymnast's agility she leaned forwards, pulling one leg in and when she was bending almost downwards she kicked straight back, the foot burying itself deep in the man's stomach with force enough to shatter rocks. The man doubled over, his bulging eyes meeting Kimiko's ice cold as he folded over her foot like a wet rag. Legs and upper body both were propelled forwards even as his midriff flew backwards.

Then his mouth, open in shock, opened even further. It opened impossibly wide, a choking sound coming from it that turned into a ripping. Then, in a spray of fluids, something came out of the mouth and leaped at Kimiko, who stood with one leg in the air and was unable to duck quite in time. It slashed at her, Kimiko managing to leap backwards yet it didn't stop the attacker from tearing up a gash across her face. Spinning around, Kimiko leaped to the other side of the corridor and landed with her hands up, ready to fight and with bared teeth. Yet when she saw what now stood against her she blinked, the anger draining from her face.

Having landed on all fours in an inhumanly low stance, the figure that had emerged from the man's mouth moved, almost slithered, across the floor and stood up with graceful, serpentine movements. She reached up, running a hand through the soaked, stark white hair, pink at the roots, stroking it backwards as she looked at Kimiko with a cool, confident smirk on her face. The other hand rested against her hip, she wore a cherry-patterned yukata that hung loosely on her slender, pale frame and her eyes, pale green, were slitted. Kimiko's confusion and shock was in no way mirrored in the visage of the other woman, who only looked amused.

"S...Sakura?" Kimiko said after a few seconds. The disbelief was clear in her voice, the dismay equally so.

"My you've gotten violent Kimiko-chan," Sakura said, her voice so different from the voice Kimiko remembered. None of the hesitation she had shown during their first time as friends, none of the passion that had replaced it. Instead, she spoke with a sultry purr, a seductress' voice, and Kimiko, who never had been into girls, didn't find the effect anything but jarring, plain wrong. That wasn't Sakura's tone, not one bit. "Is that the bijuu doing it to you?" Sakura asked her with a smirk.

On the other side of the door, meanwhile, Sasuke and Konohamaru had both rushed up to the door, standing now and pushing against it, trying to find the entrance.

"Of course this had to happen," Konohamaru snarled, "Her impatience bit us all in the ass, why can't anything surprising ever happen?!" he yelled as he banged a fist against the heavy steel wall

"Stay back," Sasuke said as he stepped back himself and raised his hand as it began to glow, arcs of lightning dancing between the fingers as the light grew blinding and a chirping sound filled the air. The Chidori blazed in his hand as he reached back to slam it straight into the wall. He was stopped though, someone coming up behind him and slashing at him. Sasuke ducked under the slash and cut the figure down, seeing one of the mobsters fall down dead to the ground, yet dozens more of them coming at the two shinobi, all with drawn weapons.

"Oh fuck me," Konohamaru said with a grim grin on his face as he pulled out his fighting staff, Sasuke raising his sword as he had to release the Chidori to focus on the battle. Inside the corridor, meanwhile, Sakura and Kimiko kept staring each other down. Kimiko, whose face had been caught in shock, eventually shook her head.

"There was no defector, right?" she asked, her voice quivering a little at the sight of her old friend. Sakura smiled widely, a smile that would have seemed kind, were it not so deriding. She looked at Kimiko like she was a funny little girl only, a child just having solved a simple riddle.

"Good work Kimiko," she said with sarcastic approval, raising her hands to give a small clap. "Good work indeed. I was honestly afraid your brain wouldn't be good for anything still, but lo and behold, you actually can see what's right in front of you." Kimiko's eyes narrowed, hackles rising at the insults flung at her from one she once had called friend and who had vanished so suddenly out of her life.

"Why?" she asked now, looking at Sakura with pain, anger and sadness in her eyes. "They killed hundreds of people, just because they could. They're trying to kill me! Why are you with them."

"And yet you're here," Sakura said, smirking as she did so. "Despite this oh-so-great risk, you're going after them. You've nothing to blame but yourself when you die because of this."

"I'm not going to die," Kimiko growled, flexing her fingers now. "You got the drop on me and still only gave me this," she said as she pointed to the already healed nick. "You really think you're strong enough to beat me?"

"Survival of the fittest Kimiko," Sakura smiled now, her smile turning only more and more vicious. "Strength is irrelevant, adaptation to the circumstances you're in is what matters. And I tricked you into this corridor, I isolated you, and what more," she said as he smile turned near psychotic. "You might be starting to feel a bit woozy now." Kimiko blinked now, reaching up to her head near instinctively as she stumbled. Eyes widening as she felt how the dizziness came over her, Kimiko realized she'd been poisoned! "Silly, silly little girl," Sakura purred as she began towards Kimiko, walking slowly as she raised her knife again.

Kimiko only growled, charging Sakura now and giving up a wild cry as she lashed out with a kick that Sakura dodged. Yet Kimiko turned the kick around, bringing it back the other way around and left Sakura bending over backwards to duck. The wild attack continued, Kimiko not relenting but keeping it up. Her moves might be sluggish and forced, yet they kept coming towards a Sakura that kept ducking and weaving, moving with serpentine speed and fluidity as she dodged every blow, no matter how many Kimiko threw. The girl kept it up though, pushing through with grim determination. Not in blind anger or stubbornness, however. Kimiko was buying time.

On the other side of the wall Konohamaru kicked the last of the thugs in the head, sending him cartweeling backwards and landing with his neck twisted at a strange angle. All around them now, the thugs lay unmoving as the young Sarutobi looked back to his Uchiha teammate, motioning towards the door.

"Get that thing down now, now now now!" he said, the look on his face betraying his anger and his concern both as he repeatedly stabbed his finger in the direction of the door, looking around with his staff in his free hand. Sasuke said nothing, only raised his hand and forming a chidori again. Without any hesitation he slammed it into the door, tearing through it and creating a deep hole in it, a hole almost a foot across. Tearing out his hand, he formed another chidori to begin tearing down the wall bit by bit.

Inside the chamber Kimiko delivered a wild spin-kick and landed unsteadily, but grinning herself.

"Teammates, heard of that!" she yelled. "You got... got about twenty seconds before they're through, think your poison is that fast!?" Sakura only chuckled however, darkly, and took a step back as she lashed her hands out to the sides, fingers faintly moving.

"Oh Kimiko, so you've got two boys helping you out?" she asked, the thin strings of chakra attached to her hands, dozens of them going out in all directions, through the small holes in the ceiling and out into the room on the other side of the giant barrier, down through the ceiling and finally into the heads of the unmoving thugs, who twitched. The downed men slowly began to move, pushing themselves up, moving with jerking, stiff movements as dull groans came from them. Konohamaru and Sasuke both looked backwards to them, seeing how the men they just had defeated stood up. Their eyes dead, their bodies moving like puppets, their hearts still but their bodies coaxed into obedience once again. "I've got a hundred," Sakura whispered.

"Oh for fuck's sake..." Konohamaru whispered as the thugs got up again, all pretense of being more than mere corpses having fallen away now, revealing their undead state. Shambling and stiff, the corpses nevertheless charged with immense speed. All mortal restraints and limitations removed from them, these corpses now struck without any heed of the damage their movements caused to their bodies. Konohamaru managed to get in between the nearest corpse and Sasuke, whose hand was deep inside the steel door, parrying the undead attacker before it struck his Uchiha teammate.

Meanwhile, Kimiko heard the moans and the snarl of Konohamaru, looking to Sakura with bared teeth. "Why!" she screamed, attacking again. "We were friends! Why did you go with them?! Did all the lives they ended mean nothing to you?! Answer me damn it!" She screamed, her eyes starting to mist up as she struck again and again, hitting nothing but air as Sakura half ducked half danced out of the way. The pale young woman's movements were lightning fast, writhing and slithering, making her as easy to hit as a cloud of smoke to Kimiko in her dizzy condition.

"Friends?" Sakura asked, lashing out now as her fingernails slashed across Kimiko's arm, ripping up four long gashes on it as Sakura shot past Kimiko, coming up behind her in a split-second. "That's what you want to call it?" she asked. "You were, always were, a thug looking for a fight, and protecting a nerd was a paper-thin justification for your violence,"she said as she'd backed off and now was circling Kimiko with the pacing gait of a panther. "Friendship? Our relationship was built on using each other. You were a shield against bullies and I was your intellectual alibi, the only thing that kept you from failing," she said, giggling before she dashed in and blocked a blow before kicking Kimiko in the face to send the girl tumbling backwards. "And yet you, little idiot, kept seeing something where there was none," she said as she advanced on Kimiko. "For that... you die."

"I...I..." Kimiko said, the poison and the blow both making her dizzy. She was down to one knee, holding onto the floor for support as Sakura pulled out a bottle of something, uncorking it. Making a flowing gesture, she pulled out the fumes from inside it and blew it towards Kimiko. Coughing, Kimiko threw up a hand in a futile attempt to defend herself but the fumes struck her and she fell down. "I..." she whispered hoarsely as the fumes seeped into her nose, her mouth and her ears. She lay on the ground as Sakura advanced on her to take her away.

Then, the surge of ki filled the room. In one instant it went from nothing to choking, a force as ancient as time that made the seemingly deranged apprentice of Kimiko's renegade brother freeze in her tracks. Kimiko pushed herself up and turned her head to stare into Sakura's eyes.

"I am getting real tired of your emo bullshit Sakura-chan!" She said with a voice filled to the brim with malice, rage and steel. Her eyes had turned from bright green to bloody red, the pupils forming into slits and her teeth into fangs. The faint whiskers on her cheeks had turned into wide stripes and through the skin a faint, glowing web of tattoos could be seen. Her fingers curled up and claws were growing from the tips that dug into the stone floor and left deep scratches in her wake.

Sakura had taken a single step back at the sight, staring at Kimiko with actual shock and indeed fear in her pale green eyes. "H-how..." she whispered. "That was enough to sedate a dozen people..."

"You think some extra chakra is the only benefit to being a jinchuuriki?" Kimiko asked through her clenched, bared teeth as she stood hunched together on all fours, seemingly more animal than human. "Say hello to oniichan's handiwork. Last and only chance, surrender or I'll beat you to a pulp and drag you back to Konoha. You're not beating me, not like this. He made me more powerful than you can imagine!"

Sakura was left staring at Kimiko in shock and no small amount of dismay. She was caught off guard by the transformation, suddenly standing in front of not merely a young kunoichi, but the nigh-avatar of the nine-tailed fox itself. The dismay and shock gave away after a few seconds though, Sakura's face morphing into pure rage as well; poisonous, insane fury. With a shriek, Sakura launched herself at Kimiko, lashing out towards her throat but having the hand caught in a grip like a vice. Kimiko tore Sakura's fist downward to lock her against the floor but Sakura merely dislocated her arm and spun around to kick Kimiko in the side of the neck, sending the Jinchuuriki stumbling as the kick perfectly hit a nerve cluster and paralyzed most of her left side.

"You're nothing!" Sakura shrieked as she kept launching blow after blow against Kimiko. "You ride the coattails of something else, nothing but the funnel for power not yours! What do you know of power?! What do you know of him making you something greater!? I'm the one He made great! I'm ten times greater than you'll ever be! You're nothing but a failure, a discarded parasite!" The blows rained down on Kimiko, furious and unrelenting, striking at weak spots and nerve clusters with full force. Even powered-up by the Bijuu, Kimiko found the torrent of blows hard to take. Hadn't the first blow dug so deep into her diaphragm she could have fought back, yet now she had no air to work with. "Nothing! You're nothing! Without that beast you're useless! A brain-dead, useless freak!" she screamed as Kimiko ended up pushed against the wall, nailed there by the blows that just kept coming, cutting off the air for her and leaving her gasping. One, final blow from Sakura knocked Kimiko's head back and making cracks spread in the stone behind her head. Kimiko coughed, the bijuu's chakra receding. Coughing, Kimiko looked at Sakura, one eye swelling shut and blood seeping from where her fangs had bit into her lip.

"Y... you're right about one thing..." Kimiko said, despite the situation grinning. "He... he did make you great... damn, you fight like a devil these days..." Sakura, whose eyes had been glowing with rage, suddenly blinked. "And yeah... this thing inside me is where I get most of my power... but not all of it..." she said, glancing towards the steel door. "Some of it... I get from my friends too." She said, her smile turning into a massive grin just as the steel door bent inwards with a deafening shriek, bursting open like someone threw a boulder through rice paper.

"Yakuza and then zombies!" Konohamaru said as he and Sasuke came through the devastated door, both with weapons covered in blood and with a veritable sea of mangled corpses outside the corridor as evidence of their rampage "What's next?" he asked before his eyes fell on Sakura and Kimiko, "oh I see, It's little miss Forehead, all grown-up and whore-ified!" he snarled, twirling his staff around and adopting a stance

"Let go of her, now," Sasuke said, his red eyes narrowed as he raised his sword and began to pace around the two women to cut Sakura off. Sakura was hyperventilating still, teeth bared and her eyes glowing with rage again. In the end however, she stepped back and smirked, giving up a small, silvery laugh. As if the anger had never appeared, she twirled around in place, throwing out her hands.

"Very well Kimiko-chan," she said as she looked down at the Kimiko that had sunken, coughing, to the floor. "You win this round. But the red dawn is coming, and it'll be one of blood for you. Just you wait, just you wait," she said, her smile deranged again before she lashed out to the sides with her hands, sending out a cluster of smoke-bombs that burst mid-air, throwing out smoke in all directions.

When it cleared, only seconds later, she was gone with not one trace to be seen.

"Oh for the love of fucking..." Konohamaru called out. "You couldn't see her?" he asked heatedly as both of them hurried up to Kimiko.

"Chakra-blocking smoke... never seen that before..." the Uchiha said calmly as he looked around, sword still raised. "Are you okay Kimiko?" he asked as they came up to Kimiko and helped her up. She looked like she'd been trampled by oxen.

"Yeah... ow damn..." Kimiko groaned as she got up, the brutal beating she'd gotten taking its sweet time to heal. "Kono..." she said after a second, Konohamaru leaning in with a furrow on his brow to hear what she was going to say. What he got in the end, however, was a punch in the face. Stumbling backwards and landing on his ass, Konohamaru cursed loudly as he looked up at Kimiko, whose fist still was raised. "You don't call Sakura that," Kimiko told him, staring down at him with steel in her eyes. Konohamaru, massaging his jaw, looked up at Kimiko with wide eyes.

"Oh for the love of..." Konohamaru began. "She's been a missing-nin for three years, she stabbed you in the back and is with a group of psychos after your head!"

"And?" Kimiko asked. "You still don't call her that, or do I have to hit you again?"

"Sheesh, fine, fine!" Konohamaru said, getting to his feet and stumbling a little as he moved his jaw back and forth with a wincing grimace.

"Let's get out of here," Sasuke stated now, diverting Kimiko's attention away from the forbidden word used by her teammate and Team Seven quickly exfiltrated. Behind they left the entirety of the Tanzu group, all of them murdered to be used as decoys by their former, now rogue, classmate. It was subdued trio that left the building, then the block, then the city and finally took the road back towards Konoha.


So yeah... I did say see you in a few months, didn't I? Twelve is a few, isn't it... right...? Please don't kill me? Sorry about the delay, RL, writer's block and other stuff came together to dogpile me hard and it's first now that I feel even remotely confident in my work enough to start posting again. Ouroboros isn't dead yet however, and I hope you'll like the second installment of this story as much as you did the first.