Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto (unfortunately). I do own all of my own characters.
Thank you to all my reviewers! You ppl r so nice :-)
"blah" speech
'blah' thoughts

place-your-name-here - sry, but i'm not playing off the ever-lasting scenerio.

Peter Kim - hey thanx, you really helped me out w/ the list of ppl that were still alive :-). As for Shizune, I'll give u ur pick, burning in the lake of fire or fried in the lightning storm... I'm leaving her as an unaccounted casualty of war.

xXFissshBonesssXx - You actually saw the Leaf as friendly? Thank you for the flattery :-)

200 IQ - I really could care less who Shikamaru gets paired w, in this fic it was Ino, in my next fic it might Temari or no one at all.

sephynarutocloud - ok, I admit that the hint was quite vague, but somehow I had assumed that the ending was more or less visible from the reader's standpoint...

whohasamonkey - Kage Bushins appear real under sharingan and byakugan.

vampchic - That's a good idea! I'll make sure to use that in my next fic. -evil grin-

Binnybobarino - You have to understand that the kinjutsus Naruto uses, most high-lvl jounin don't even have enough chakra to perform. Lake of Fire and Lightning Storm drain btwn 15-25 depending on power/intensity and radius; and Naruto used them for 100+ of their destructive power. As much as I would like it, Naruto is not a God; he has limits.

You'll get the extra long version of A/Ns at the bottom of the chapter.

Chapter 21 – Failed Spiral

All the teams were in position. Fully equipped and well rested, waiting silently, and somewhat anxiously for their leader to give them permission to scale and/or destroy the walls, which lay no more than two hundred yards in front of them. They had silently witnessed as both armies left the village, one to fight the Rain and Cloud on the borders of the Fire Country and the other to fight the demon fox, which their leader had summoned.

Miya was sitting in tree overlooking her regiment, using chakra every so often when the ground shook from the movements of the summons. No one in the Sound except her knew what the beacon looked like, for security reasons Naruto never showed anyone, but it was one of those one-of-a-kind jutsu that you can't mistake for anything else.

'He sure is taking his sweet time,' thought Miya, as she observed that the Leaf army was sufficiently far out of the village. She scoffed at the Leaf's stupidity when they were blasting the demon fox with fireballs, 'While Kyuubi may have been afflicted with Doton and Suiton, his brother, Hachbi, is afflicted with Katon and Suiton. You may as well be giving the fox chakra, since he absorbs any kind of fire. One size does not fit all, but these people are too ignorant to realize things like this.'

Miya was about to wonder how come the ground hadn't shook in such a long while, when she saw a pillar of flame go sky high, 'The Beacon!'

She instantly shifted her attention down to her regiment and shouted, "The beacon has been lit!" She jumped down to the ground and looked about fifty yards in front of her regiment, to a solitary figure sitting on the ground. "Jiro, you're up!" she shouted.

The Sound-nin, by the name of Jiro, slowly got up and did several hand seals before slamming his palms into the ground, "Doton: Doryo Dango," he shouted. Within several seconds he was holding a giant mud cannonball, twenty yards in diameter. After a bit of weight adjustment, he gathered all his strength and threw it, at high speed, straight into Konoha's wall.

A loud explosion resonated through the forest and a dust cloud rose up above the impact area. By the time the explosion was heard, Miya's regiment was already halfway to the wall, and before the dust had a chance to settle Sound-nin were already in the village.

The explosion was bound attract attention and that was exactly what the Sound shinobi were counting on. There were two regiments to the left and right of Miya's that would silently infiltrate Konoha and act as backup for Miya's regiment.

Asuma was one of the few jounin left to guard the village. He had wanted to be out on the front lines with his friends, but knew the importance of the position he had been given. Asuma looked at his team and scanned the surroundings for the hundredth time now. 'Something is definitely amiss, I've been having shivers run down my spine since we first started patrolling.'

Under his command was one his old students, Chouji, who had made it up to high-level chuunin despite his injuries and two other chuunin, whom he had met only in passing, and had no real experience with. Snapping out of his thought Asuma noticed that they were coming up on Kurenai's location, 'We should stop and trade information, and I'll ask if she's having the same bad feeling I am. She did always…'

However before Asuma could even finish his thought, the wall slightly behind them blew apart. The whole team stopped dead in their tracks for a second before exchanging quick glances and running there. Within a minute they had arrived.

They stood on rubble that had just a minute ago been a wall. They didn't have to wait long to find out who had done this, as a rain of shuriken fell on top of them. Asuma's team easily dodged or deflected them, but had gotten split in two. Asuma and Chouji were standing face to face with two Sound jounin, while the other two chuunin were facing two more Sound jounin.

'Those two are barely mid-level chuunin, they won't be able to handle two jounin,' thought Asuma. 'But it's not like I will be able to help them very quickly either.'

Asuma quickly did a couple of hand seals and two Kage Bushin appeared next to him. But before he could send them to help the chuunin, hundreds of earth spikes came up all around them. Asuma and Chouji managed to jump away with only a minor cut on the ankle and thigh, respectively; Asuma's Kage Bushin were instantly destroyed.

Jiro looked sideways at Asuma and Chouji, "That's genin-level usage of the Kage Bushin… but it seems that your friends didn't fare as well as you did."

Asuma spared a glace at his companions, only to see them being single-handedly slaughtered by a green-haired Sound jounin. Asuma's frown soon turned into an angry scowl, "You'll all pay for that!"

Jiro laughed at Asuma and nodded to his teammate, "Takedo."

As Jiro finished his hand seals, Takedo nodded back and vanished from sight, slightly startling Asuma. "Doton: Land Bind," said Jiro as he pressed his palms to the ground.

Asuma had seen this jutsu before so was able to evade it and Chouji had already activated his Baika no Jutsu and as soon as the ground had started to move around him he had begun Meat Tank no Jutsu. Jiro used Doton: Shinjuu Zanshu to escape the Meat Tank, and started doing seals while underground. "Doton: Surface Quicksand," he said channeling chakra into the ground above him. This was meant to at least slow down, if not completely stop Chouji. Fortunately for the Sound-nin, Chouji had stopped his attack when he was unable to find his opponent, so as soon as he came out of the spin he was instantly caught in the quicksand.

Asuma wasn't fairing against his opponent any better. As soon as Chouji had rolled off, Takedo appeared behind him with a drawn katana ready to slice Asuma in half. The veteran Leaf-nin barely managed to block with his own daggers, making the katana only cut his vest. The Sound-nin did not relent his attack even a little bit and continued to press Asuma until he had managed to cut a tendon on Asuma's left shoulder. Satisfied that the Leaf-nin's left arm hung useless, Takedo kicked Asuma in the left part of his back and then jumped back into a defensive position.

Asuma, meanwhile, was calculating the maximum amount of damage he could inflict upon Takedo, since he knew that he could not come out as the victor. While surveying his surrounding he glanced to the side and saw a wall of earth rise up around Chouji who had been captured by the quicksand; Asuma felt a pain in his heart knowing that another student and friend of his was going to die. However a long ways past Chouji, Asuma saw Kurenai weaving a genjutsu around that green-haired Sound-nin; Asuma smiled a little.

Takedo followed his opponent's gaze and scoffed, "Do you really think a team of only four Sound jounin attacked this part of the village?"

Asuma instantly realized the validity of the Sound-nin's question. "You threw yourselves in as bait?" he asked Takedo.

"Yes and our reinforcements will close around your own shinobi as soon as they all come here," Takedo smirked darkly. "A sort of fly trap, not that we need it," noticing Asuma's confused look he decided to elaborate. "You, a jounin, didn't even make me use my second blade. The green-haired one that you saw your comrade casting the genjutsu on, used to be part of the Akatsuki," Asuma's eyes widened and Takedo laughed.

Takedo suddenly stopped laughing and put on a completely cold demeanor, "Game over," he disappeared in a cloud of smoke. Asuma realized too late that he had been talking to a Kage Bushin. He felt a quick pain in his back and chest, but his world darkened too fast for him to realize exactly what happened.

Takedo walked up to Jiro, who was climbing out of the ground, "I know we're considered elite, but this is a joke."

"They were weak and you know it," replied Jiro.

"Did they really send out anyone who could stand up to us to fight against Naruto-sama?"

"We haven't even gotten more than two hundred yards into the village," countered Jiro, "I'm sure we'll have some formidable opponents."

"I hope so, either way we gotta go help Miya-sama."

Miya found herself slowly being pulled into a mid-level genjutsu. She kicked her last opponent away and sent a kunai right after him, so that when he hit the tree the kunai pinned his heart to it. During the kick, Miya snuck a peek to her side, 'Must be that red-eyed one doing the genjutsu… and Jiro and Takedo look to be finishing up with their opponents.'

Miya quickly did a few hand seals, "Dokumori: Poison Seeds," she whispered and threw a few needles to Kurenai's feet; upon landing the needles disappeared in a cloud of smoke. Kurenai smirked and continued focusing chakra.

'Good,' thought Miya, 'she thinks those were Kage Bushin and that I am actually disoriented from her initial genjutsu.' Miya quickly activated her Mind Bubble, which made it so that half of her mind felt the effects of the genjutsu while the other half didn't; the one that didn't feel the effects was the one in control. 'Dual layer genjutsu, first layer to disorient me and allow her access to my nerves. The second layer creates the illusion that I am captured by a tree and then she appears right behind me to slip my throat… well, nice try, but it's time to break it.'

Miya dispersed the Mind Bubble that was containing her real mind and forced control over to herself. Kurenai noticed the counter too slow and was swept off the feet and punched into the nearest building. Before she had even slid to the ground a kunai was already imbedded into her stomach.

Kurenai coughed up a bit of blood, "How did you? You were trapped, I made sure."

"A part of mind was trapped yes, but most of my conscious was isolated from your genjutsu," Miya was about to finish off Kurenai when she felt a chakra signature closing in fast from her right. Instinctively Miya dodged, barely escaping a fireball. 'Shit! I got too careless.'

Sakura ran up to Kurenai and quickly pulled out the kunai and started a simple medical jutsu, to close the wound. In several second the wound was mostly healed, since it wasn't so deep. "Thanks Sakura."

Miya narrowed her eyes at the new comer, 'Short pink hair, body build, chakra quantity and distribution… I think this one is Haruno Sakura, a newly appointed jounin, but more importantly Naruto's genin teammate.' Upon hearing Kurenai's words Miya's suspicion was confirmed.

"Haruno Sakura," Sakura whipped her head around, surprised that the Sound-nin knew her. "Naruto-kun's former teammate and a newly appointed jounin, after being an academy teacher for a prolonged period of your chuunin career."

Sakura's eyes narrowed at the mention of her teammate's name, "You seem to know a lot about me, why don't you introduce yourself?"

"That is not really necessary, but if u must know who is going to kill you then I will just say that my name is Miya."

Kurenai jumped a little at that, "You're one of the two remaining members of the Akatsuki," Miya nodded. "Sakura, you can't take her on. Retreat and gather up a force of stronger jounin."

Sakura scowled at being called weak and held her ground, "No, I will fight her."

"No, are you crazy? This is suicide," yelled Kurenai.

"I will prove I'm strong," whispered Sakura.

Kurenai sighed, knowing that she would not be able to talk her pink-haired comrade out of it. "Fine, but I'll back you up," Sakura nodded. Sakura quickly started making hand seals, followed closely behind by Kurenai.

'They are both genjutsu users, they are each weaving different genjutsus around me…' she frowned. 'Mind Bubble is out since one of them can keep sustaining the genjutsu while the other attacks, and I can't move while in the Mind Bubble.' Miya quickly jumped towards the Leaf-nin, attacking with taijutsu and doing several seals for the Cobra Strike.

However she never made it, Kurenai was focusing on the outer layer genjutsu; and this time she was using the highest lever she knew. Miya fell to her knees holding her head. Sakura grinned thinking that Miya was done for. Sakura was greatly surprised when Miya slowly stood up, shook her head, and closed the distance between herself and Sakura in less than half a second delivering a mighty punch to Sakura's mid-section quickly followed up by a kick to Sakura's right elbow and finally a spin kick right under Sakura's chin; Sakura was sent flying backwards.

After the dust cloud had cleared from her landing, Sakura looked around to understand what had gone wrong. That was when she saw a man with a katana standing behind Kurenai.

"Genjutsu users… slow on the defensive," he watched the blood drip off his blade. "I trust you can take her?" he motioned to Sakura as he let Kurenai's body fall freely unto the ground.

"Yes, go on ahead," Takedo nodded and jumped off toward the center of the village.

As soon as Takedo had gone Miya turned her attention back to Sakura. "Genjutsu is quite useful, but only under the right circumstances," she explained quietly. "Like when your opponent isn't aware of you or simply doesn't see you. Or when you have someone to hold off the opponent while you trap them in the genjutsu. Otherwise, you are completely exposed to your enemy's attack." Sakura had gotten up while Miya was talking and was working on a healing jutsu for her fractured elbow, which was proving difficult since she had a really hard time making seals. "So you see, a genjutsu user is a team player and very rarely can one do much alone," Miya cocked her head to the side. "Do you see any teammates around?"

Sakura flinched at the implication, but kept her concentration on channeling healing chakra to her elbow.

"But you already knew that… you recently became the Hokage's apprentice because you knew that genjutsu alone wouldn't be able to keep you alive against Naruto," Miya snickered. "What chance to you have against Naruto, if you can't even beat me? He was trained by the best of the best of the Akatsuki. Trained to be a killer, a mass shinobi killer. Trained to be able to take on one of your Sannin and walk away with minor wounds." Sakura frowned at what had become of Naruto.

"You frown now, but you didn't give a damn when he was young. Always infatuated with that idiot who couldn't take on Itachi even if Itachi did not have the Mangekyou," Miya sighed. She was getting worked up; there was no need to get worked up. These people were just a bunch of fools.

She sighed again, "I'm done with you," she held up her index and middle fingers in front of her mouth and channeled the appropriate chakra. At first Sakura did not understand what the Sound-nin had done, but soon she was a thin layer of green smoke cloud her vision. Looking down she saw the poison coming up from little balls on the ground; she started coughing.

"The needles I threw during my battle with Kurenai were actually those balls in Henge; Poison Seeds, I call them. They take root in the ground and expel poison once activated," Sakura tried to stomp them out, but was only laughed at by Miya. "You can't destroy them once they have taken root. This technique is usually useless, since most of my opponents are taijutsu/ninjutsu oriented, so they move around a lot and are quite conscious of what is below their feet. Genjutsu users are less attentive, especially a newly appointed jounin, who is still in the beginning stages of mixing medical jutsu and genjutsu into an effective fighting style."

Sakura was feeling light headed as if her body did not have enough air, but she could breathe just fine. She ran a quick diagnostic scan on herself and was horrified to find the poison was tearing apart her lungs. As soon as she realized what exactly was happening her chest began to hurt like hell. She had lost a complete sense of what Miya was saying; all her senses seemed to concentrate on the pain in her chest. She desperately tried to heal herself, but it just wasn't working. She thought she heard Miya saying something about not being able to extract the poison, but she wasn't sure, neither did she care. Try as she might, she knew that she was going to die and that she was still weak. That she had failed her friends, family and her village.

Sakura died a slow painful death, her face contorted in a silent scream.

Once she noticed that Sakura was past the point of no return, Miya just walked off leaving Sakura to die alone. 'I better take a look around and see how the other teams are doing.' She ran off toward the center of the village where most of the fighting would likely be concentrated.

'The demon fox had been unsummoned sometime during my battle with the genjutsu users. Naruto specifically ordered that no one approach the forest battle ground until after the demon fox was gone. Really I shouldn't worry, Naruto's reinforcements, namely fifty jounin and chuunin are going to comb through what's left of Konoha's army searching for threats (AKA survivors) and making sure Naruto is alright,' by now Miya was completely absorbed in her thoughts.

'So if everything goes according to plan he should be in the village in several minutes,' Miya concluded. 'And if he is really hurt, I'll find the person that did it and chop them up into little pieces and use them as fish bait for the rest of my life.'

)))))In the Forest(((((

Naruto was leaning against a tree, gasping for breath, "Note to self: don't run at full speed when low on chakra."

Suddenly Naruto heard some faint rustling up ahead of him. Naruto quickly pulled out three shuriken and launched them into the foliage. No sooner had the shuriken disappeared from view they were deflected back out and Naruto heard some people cursing; he prepared himself for strong opponents.

"Otokage-sama, is this a test of our ninja skills?" he heard coming out of the bush, before a Sound-nin stepped out, whom Naruto instantly recognized.

"Kenji, what the hell are you doing here?" asked Naruto.

"Searching for you of course," answered Kenji as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

"You were assigned as the top medical team for the invasion," said Naruto calmly, "so could you please tell me what you are doing outside the village?"

"Well you are part of the invasion, and as you said yourself we are the top medical team. And the Otokage reserves the best medic-nin, so here we are," explained Kenji; Naruto grimaced.

While Naruto and Kenji argued about the slight inconsistency and ambiguity of Naruto's orders, the medics had healed Naruto's minimal wounds and had given him a special soldiers pill, to refill his supernatural chakra capacity. Halfway through Naruto had given up the argument and was content to know that Kenji's team would follow him back to Konoha and carry out their original orders.

"See? That took like twenty minutes and you're back at a hundred percent," laughed Kenji. Naruto just sighed and started running towards Konoha, with Kenji's team trying to keep up.

Naruto arrived at the main gate to see that half of it was gone and the other was flung completely open. From inside the village faint explosions could be heard and several pillars of smoke were visible.

"Any word from our allies?" inquired Naruto while walking through the main gate.

"The Cloud said that they were easily able to break through the Leaf shinobi," replied Kenji. "There hasn't been any word from the Rain yet."

"The Leaf-nin on the Cloud's front will probably retreat back to Konoha, we will need to be prepared for them," said Naruto. "And also send a team to find out what is happening with the Rain."

"Otokage-sama, the Cloud messenger said that the Cloud army would follow the Leaf shinobi as far as Konoha and help in their extermination."

"Great," said Naruto with a small smirk. "Now that I'm here, direct all the messengers to me or if I can't be found Miya or one of our generals."

"Yes, sir!" bowed Kenji and left with his team.

Naruto took a deep breath and slowly let it out, "So Konoha, we meet once more." Naruto then ran off towards the Hokage monument.

Halfway to his destination, Naruto heard a loud explosion quite close to him and decided to stop and investigate, maybe help if the situation required it. So he rapidly changed direction and soon landed on top of a building overlooking the fight. He instantly recognized both sides.

There were two Sound-nin and two Leaf-nin. The Leaf-nin were Tenten and a Hyuga, while the Sound-nin were both part of the Onpasaki clan. 'The Hyuga is dealing with the short-range combat and Tenten is helping doing all the long-range fighting,' observed Naruto. 'But this has already been tested five years ago, the Onpasaki clan were able to defeat the Hyuga clan. I wonder why this battle is taking so long?' wondered Naruto until he took a closer look at the Sound shinobi, and almost gave away his position by laughing out loud. 'Of course, those are the Onpasaki twins, the two prodigies.'

Suddenly a barrage of kunai and shuriken was launched at Naruto who had managed a Kawarimi with his Kage Bushin, and so was now sitting on the wall of the building looking over at Tenten. "Let me guess, the Hyuga found me and you just decided to make me join the battle, so that there were no unknowns, right?"

Tenten immediately recognized who it was and gasped; the Sound shinobi also recognized their leader and bowed slightly in a formal acknowledgement.

"Ayaka, we can't win this, the best strategy right now is to run," said Tenten to her companion.

"No, I will not run away from my opponents," said the Hyuga arrogantly.

Naruto chuckled, "Just like Neji, I see. A Hyuga prodigy that thinks everyone is below her."

The Hyuga snorted, "I'm nothing like Neji, I'm from the Main Family and I don't die on simple rescue missions."

"Main Family? Didn't I kill everyone in the Main Family?" asked Naruto.

Ayaka's eyes narrowed in anger, "So you were the one that killed Hanabi. I have trained to avenge her death and now I will do so."

Naruto sighed and looked over at the two Sound shinobi, "Would you two twins please finish her off."

Ayaka smirked, "As if those two could even lay a finger on me."

That last statement got the twins riled; one of them went through a series of quick hand seals and launched a sound blast right at the Hyuga. Ayaka simply did a Kaiten to deflect the attack. Tenten used this time to attack the twins by throwing several spiked spheres with explosive tags at them.

The twins had anticipated this and the second one had already prepared a wind jutsu that knocked away the explosive spheres. By the time the wind jutsu was done the first twin had already prepared his next ninjutsu, "Fracture Waves." Ayaka was about to laugh and say that nothing happened when Tenten suddenly screamed and fell down holding her knees.

The Hyuga suddenly noticed that only one of the Sound-nin was standing in front of her. Using her Byakugan she instantly spotted the second one firing off some sort of attack at her from behind, so she activated her Kaiten without even thinking; after all the Kaiten was an ultimate defense.

"Decibel Overload," he calmly said and fired off his attack despite the fact that Ayaka was within her Kaiten. Within several seconds the Kaiten broke apart and Ayaka was on the ground holding her head and screaming in pain.

"Not so ultimate, huh?" asked Naruto.

Tenten was watching in horror as Ayaka just kept screaming, "What the hell happened to her?"

"The Onpasaki clan's blood limit is the ability to manipulate pure sound waves," explained Naruto. "While most sound waves are created using chakra, the Onpasaki clan is able to create sound waves without using chakra," Naruto threw two shuriken at Ayaka's head to put her out of her misery.

"That's how Hinata died, isn't it?" asked Tenten.

"That would have been our father's work, he was the one at the Oto-Konoha meeting," replied one of the twins, that had appeared behind her and knocked her out as soon as he said that. "Should we kill her?"

"Wouldn't want clan secrets out in the open, now would you?" asked Naruto.

"No, I suppose not," the one behind her sighed and slit her throat.

"How is the situation in the village?" inquired Naruto.

"Most of the fighting is taking place in the middle of the village," they reported. "There are of course some isolated fights on the outskirts. As ordered our clan is specifically searching out the 'white eyes' most of which were within their manor and were pretty easily taken out by several Doton and Sound jutsu while they were still unawares. A small party was obviously trying to get someone important out of the manor, so we and several others followed them and here we are."

Naruto nodded in approval, "Good, good. Anyone know where Miya is?" the twins both shook their head.

Naruto sighed and waved a little goodbye before heading for the Hokage monument again; the twins jumped of in the other direction. But he didn't get more than a hundred yards before he was attacked by a kick from the side. Naruto didn't even bat an eye; he turned around in mid-air, grabbed his attacker's leg, pulled him closer and punched him in the stomach.

This attacker was special though, and burst into a cloud of bugs as soon as Naruto punched him. 'Shit! Aburame,' cursed Naruto. The bugs made to wrap around Naruto, but he used a Kawarimi and they only consumed a log.

During his training Naruto received extensive information about very many advanced bloodlines, so he knew that he wasn't in the clear yet and that there was probably a bug somewhere on him that was revealing his position. 'I hate using this jutsu,' Naruto mentally sighed. He prepped the jutsu that he was going to use, but waited before actually activating it. 'Bugs may be quiet, but with my enhanced senses I can hear the flapping of wings,' Naruto concentrated more chakra to his ears. 'There!' thought Naruto, but didn't give any outward sign. 'Let's see, he's not attacking so that means he's setting up some sort of trap,' Naruto heard some faint shuffling behind him, 'for his partner…'

Naruto waited for a little bit longer until he heard the Aburame moving, then he activated his jutsu, "Katon: Body Burn," he said and expelled chakra from several points all around his body. His body lit on fire for several seconds, completely giving away his location, but also burning off any bugs that were on him, as well as some of clothes.

Knowing that he had been completely exposed, Naruto used Split and leapt forwards as his clone leapt backwards. Naruto soon came to face-to-face with the bug user, who was still a little surprised that his tactics had been known and was none other than Shino.

"Hey, Shino, how is it going?" asked Naruto politely and even with a small smile. Shino just narrowed his eyes and Naruto heard the bugs moving to attack. "Come now, I have nothing against you. If you just turn and leave I won't chase you; you can get out of here with your life," offered Naruto.

"I am loyal to my village," Shino answered simply.

Naruto sighed, 'I really have nothing against him,' and got into a defensive stance.

Suddenly Naruto felt the ground beneath him shake a little, and realized a little to late that the bugs would be attacking from below. 'Shit!' thought Naruto as a swarm of bugs burst through the ground and wrapped completely around Naruto. 'Two times in a row, god damn it!' cursed Naruto as he quickly went through the same hand seals from just a little while ago, plus a few others. "Chakra Skin," said Naruto and quickly followed up with, "Katon: Body Burn."

A skin-tight armor made of a thin layer of chakra covered Naruto's body before Naruto had activated the Katon jutsu. Almost immediately after the fire shot out from the Naruto, the bugs either dispersed or were burned by the flames. The bugs that did move away, made no move to return to Naruto even after the flames had died down. Surprisingly, most of Naruto's clothes remained unburned, 'Thank you Itachi, for having fire resistant cloth.'

"Bugs are afraid of fire and burn easily, maybe that's why your clan moved to the Fire Country, so that the fire wielders wouldn't be against you," Naruto calmly dusted himself off.

"It doesn't matter the bugs did their job," said Shino stoically.

"If you're talking about the poison, then you should know that I'm immune to just about all," Naruto smiled cockily. "And those that I'm not immune to just take a little bit of time to filter out of my system."

Shino was startled by Naruto revelation and by the fact that his bugs had just warned him that there was a presence right behind him. Shino jumped away to avoid the imminent attack from behind, but it never came. Instead the real Naruto had opted for a frontal assault knowing that Shino had fallen for his Kage Bushin distraction.

A knee to the stomach greeted Shino in mid-air, followed up by an elbow to the back of his neck. His bugs managed to create a shield to block the elbow hit, but neither Shino nor the bugs anticipated the three needles that Naruto's clone had thrown up at Shino. The needles pierced Shino's neck and he fell to the ground in an unconscious state.

In mid-air, Naruto had felt his Chakra-enforced Kage Bushin break apart, so he wasn't surprised that he was forced to block half a dozen shuriken and kunai, with his katana, only several seconds after he landed. "You're a good shot… Iruka-sensei," said Naruto calmly.

"Naruto," he said in a bitter tone.

"Has it really come down to me and you?" asked Naruto.

"I won't let you destroy this village!" yelled Iruka.

"The village is destroyed with or without me."

"Meaning killing you now would make no difference, is that right?" asked Iruka.

"You know a very prominent figure in Konoha's history once said, 'If the most powerful cannot act accordingly, then they are undeserving of life.' Do you know who he was?" asked Naruto.

Iruka knew that he had heard that line somewhere, a very long time ago, but just couldn't place it. Naruto could see that Iruka was struggling with his memory and decided to help him out, "He was the strongest in all the Leaf."

Iruka's head shot up immediately, "The Yondaime Hokage."

Naruto nodded, "My father."

Iruka nodded sadly, "Yes, but how do you know that line? You weren't even alive back then."

"He wrote me a letter, in which he explained everything," answered Naruto with a sad smirk. "So my advice to you, don't die for the failed and incompetent."

"Failed and incompetent," repeated Iruka, "you mean Konoha?"

"Yes. Just walk away, hell, leave the Shinobi World altogether," suggested Naruto.

"No! If you think I'm going to abandon my home, you are sorely mistaken," yelled Iruka and charged at Naruto.

Naruto easily sidestepped, appeared on Iruka's other side and knocked him down to his knees. Then, using his claws, quickly stripped him of his kunai pouch and shuriken holder.

"I don't want you to die," said Naruto sincerely.

"I will die for my village," said Iruka defiantly, "I will not betray it."

"I will not let you die for the idiots that could not pass my father's test," replied Naruto and pressed several pressure points on Iruka's neck. Iruka lost consciousness instantly and Naruto gently put his body down on the ground, "I'll come back for you, old friend," and he disappeared.

Naruto stood on top of the Yondaime's head and looked out over the burning Konoha village, "Ironic how fire burns leaves…" he said sadly. "Iruka won't join the Sound, not after this, and he probably won't understand why I had to do this. It's alright, I'll transport him to somewhere outside the Shinobi World, hopefully without any memories, but we'll have to see what I can do in that department," Naruto mused out loud.

"Well Dad, this may not have happened how you had wanted... but life is unpredictable. I just hope that I can accomplish the dream that you set up for me..." Naruto sighed. "With destruction comes healing and creation… I wish it were only so simple, but then again these are just overall effects, minute details are never easy."

"The powerful must be kept in check," whispered Naruto. "Funny how both Itachi and the Yondaime found that to be true, yet no one truly understood the meaning behind their words."

Dear Naruto,

First of all, I must apologize for the kind of life I forced upon you. I, the Yondaime Hokage of Konoha, was your father, and to protect my beloved Konoha village I was forced to sacrifice not only my life, but the 'life' of my son.

I really do hope that the village will treat you like a hero, but my common sense is telling me otherwise. The villagers are mostly ignorant and tend to follow the crowd, and there are also many arrogant shinobi clans that will fear the power that I have passed on to you. Why do I love this village? Because of the few honorable and righteous people that can make the difference and keep Konoha highly respected.

However, I realized long ago that those few are too few, and in order for the whole village to progress the ignorance and arrogance must be done away with. But this kind of change cannot to forced, rather it has to be learned, through many tests and trials. I didn't intend for this to be their first test, mostly because of the magnitude, but it cannot be helped. Their ability to accept you as a person, not a monster or demon, will be their first test and probably last test, for it contains all the components of honorable, righteous and respectable.

Again I am sorry to have to place such a heavy burden upon your shoulders, but this must be done, for the good of the world. You are to be their judge and deal out the punishment for failure, if that is to happen. The punishment being the destruction of Konoha. This might seem as a shock to you, but it must be done. After all, if the most powerful cannot act accordingly, then they are undeserving of life. I sincerely hope that you are not reading this in the Hokage's seat, but then again if you are then the test has been passes and you have nothing to worry about.

On the next page you will find my will, in which I leave you the newly bought estate and everything else I own. The Sandaime keeps insisting that you take your mother's maiden name, while I'd rather have you proudly wear my name, but I will trust his judgment on that issue. I hope you will have the best life a person can have, and that you find that one person for you and love her as dearly as I loved your mother. Best of luck and wishes to you.

Love always,
Kazami Arashi, the Yondaime Hokage

P.S. Always protect your precious people.

Naruto folded the letter back up and sighed deeply, just like he did every time he read the letter. "Well Dad, it's over… Don't worry I didn't have too bad of a life… and I found those precious people to protect."

He looked out over Konoha, the scattered fires still burning, gray smoke rising up into the late afternoon sky. The sun was setting right in front of him, soon the whole village would be swallowed up by the darkness.

"I wonder what tomorrow will bring," Naruto smiled contently as he saw the last rays of sun disappear behind the horizon.

The End

I had to repost this chapter b/c for some reason ppl thought that this wasn't the end. Sorry if you were expecting more, but this is it.
Chapter A/N:
This was probably the hardest chapter to title. It took me a good 30min to come up with the final one. The following four were all possibilities:
Failed Test - too revealing of the ending.
Full Circle - too vague and just didn't sound right in my head.
Broken Circle - I just liked the word 'broken' but this title just didnt make enough sense.
Broken Spiral - I needed to replace 'circle' with something better. And this worked pretty well considering the spiral is a symbol of the Leaf, and it is now broken.
But I wanted to have a reflection of the test, so I the failed replaced broken and here we are.

You know it's funny how I coulda sworn I saw ppl beg me not to kill some chars, and as I was writing Chouji's death I suddenly remebered, when to check, but didn't fidn anything... weird... But hey, I left some alive, and others are unaccounted for (meaning use ur imagination). In a war, you don't always find out what happened to so and so; ppl r just... lost.

Yea... I had to emphasize how Sakura died, hence the spacing on that part; though by that point she wasn't a big deal in the fic. I just hate her, and want her to get Mangekyoued in the manga... -sigh- I really do wish.

You know, I got to the end and I realized that I didn't really know what to say in the Yondaime's letter... so I just kinda had to make it up on the fly.

You guys might find this funny: I get halfway through the whole Tenten+Hyuga vs. Onpasaki fight. Only to realize the the Hyuga I had been using (Hanabi) was dead. Well that was a kick in the balls; I was sure I had more chars alive.

Entire Fic A/N:
You know back in June, I was actually going to wait for someone to write a fic about Naruto joining the Akatsuki. Boy that woulda been a long wait.

The evolution of a story as the writer initially sees to the final result is really something. Initial thinking: this was going to be a happy-ending fic; the meeting was going to be successful and they would live happy ever after (aww...)
But, I just could see what happened after that and so I decided to forsake that line and take the angle of what happens if the meeting doesn't succeed. Well you know the end of that. Though b/c of this change that chapter is really choppy and crappy and screwed up. In retrospect I shulda rethought everything... like maybe moving the Naru/Miya romance to before that and then having her by a Konoha assassin (revenge motive).
But all in all, I like how the fic turned out. Culd it be better? Of course. Would I rewrite it to make it better? No. My thoughts are elsewhere now, and have been for several months now. I shulda finished the fic a long time ago, but :-/ things just kept getting in the way.

Author's writing experience: while writing the end of Yondaime's letter, just about to sign it, I suddenly realize I completely forgot what I named him. So I got on a search for his name... lol... I've had a few of those moments, where I just completely forget something from an earlier chapter and then must go dig in my own story.

I hope you understood what I meant by "life goes a full circle." Basically that it started with the Yondaime, and him sealing Kyuubi into Naruto and putting into motion the test, and that it ends with Naruto destorying Konoha for failing that test.

Lastly, if you want a responce plz IM me or email me.