Standard Disclaimer: Disclaimer-chan! I don't own Naruto!

Author's Notes: The battle continues on!

To the reviews!

HikaruOfDreams: Not very talkative, are you?

Katt: Don't worry. I plan on finishing this story. However, it'll take awhile; the battle against Akatsuki (Naruto's memories of the fight anyhow) compromises part 1 of this four-part story.

Thalian: UPDATES!

Jenniyah: You'll find out what the eclipse is for…but what do you mean by dial?

Dragon'sSword: Uh…I'd prefer not to be a god. Olympus is full enough as it is.

Great Merciful Goddess: If you read chapter 2 again, you'll realize Itachi refers to Gaara as the 'One Tail'; it refers to Shukaku's single tail, hence the 'One Tail'. Kyuubi has nine tails, hence his name as 'Nine Tails'. The number shown indicates the number of tails that particular demon possesses.

Alana Quinn: Actually, I understood where you were coming from. I just used your review as a springboard to tell everyone else not to get mad if my story deviates from the manga.

Begin!

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Ferocity of the Shark! Can Naruto make a Comeback?

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/Banshee's Gorge, Eastern Highlands, Wind Country/

The full moon shined brightly upon the arid, barren, and mountainous land that compromised the eastern portion of the Wind Country. Right now, the ten ninja of the Leaf were spending the night in one of the few passes that led to the central portion of the country. Although there were some valleys full of sweltering heat and smothering sand amongst the highlands, they paled in size when compared to the larger deserts beyond the Eastern Highlands. Fortunately for travelers, some small rivers and lakes were located near these passes, allowing for less experienced travelers to survive. Nomads, small rodents, scavengers, and hardy vegetation were common in the Eastern Highlands.

The pass that the Leaf ninja were spending the night in was known as Banshee's Gorge. It was called this because when the wind passed through – which was quite often – a high-pitched, howling shriek was created, like the sound of a banshee howling. The Leaf ninja were currently sitting on a large ledge that overlooked the deep gorge. Also, three tightly bound knapsacks were sitting beside them. They were large enough to hold a human, and for good reason; the bodies of Orochimaru, Itachi, and Kabuto lay within them.

Kiba grimaced as he held his arms together, his teeth chattering together. "Dang it…it's freaking cold here…" A muffled 'ruff' from inside his jacket caused the Chuunin to scowl. "Darn it Akamaru, you've got my jacket and FUR! Of course you're warm!"

Hinata slightly smiled; even though it seemed like Kiba and Akamaru were arguing, it was lighthearted in nature…but it was true. Tonight was going to get VERY cold. Especially in the Banshee's Gorge. As the wind continued to howl, Hinata cringed; it sounded like a monster screaming.

Neji suddenly dropped down at them from above. His face was sullen. "No good. I've looked everywhere within a five mile radius. There aren't any caves or caverns around here."

Shikamaru sighed ruefully. "Well…that's not good. It's only going to get colder, and the wind chill doesn't help at all." The concerned Chuunin grumbled; they hadn't dealt with this problem on their way here. They had camped for the night in the relatively warm marshes of the nearby River Country. The next day – which was THIS day – they had crossed the border and crossed the Eastern Highlands. By the time the sun had set, they had reached Sunagakure. Now, they were going backwards…but Shikamaru didn't know if spending the night in such an unforgiving environment was a good idea. Maybe they SHOULD have spent the night in Sunagakure…

A gust of wind blew by, bringing with it its characteristic shriek. Ino grimaced as she clutched her arms. "Man…I'm freezing…"

Sakura breathed heavily, her breath condensing in midair. "I've got goosebumps…" (Inner Sakura: I know exactly who can warm me up…if only Sasuke was here!)

Rock Lee's ears pricked. He quickly shifted a glance at Maito Gai. Gai smiled as he flashed Lee a thumbs up. The look in his eyes said it all: go for it.

"DO NOT WORRY SAKURA-CHAN!" boasted Lee as he leapt to his feet.

Neji sighed out of exasperation. "Not now Lee. Save any energy for keeping yourself warm."

Lee snorted as he confidently replied, "But I'm going to help us all get warm! If we can't find a cavern…" He got into his Iron Fist combat stance. "Then I'll make one! Konoha Hasai Ashige! Leaf Smashing Kick!"

Rock Lee leapt into the air and slammed his foot, heel first, into the cliff.

KA-RACK!

The impact of Lee's kick caused a shockwave to pass through the rock, pulverizing it into smaller pebbles and fine powder. The pebbles began to fall away, revealing the cavern Lee had created with his own foot.

The Leaf ninjas – save for Gai – blanched at the sight of Lee's handiwork (or should I say footwork?). Sakura smiled afterwards. "Wow…nice work Lee!"

Lee flashed a knowing grin to Gai, who gave him a congratulatory thumbs up.

As for Hatake Kakashi and Jiraiya…

Kakashi's mind remained in contemplation as he remained perched upon a rocky spire, his body situated into a crouch. Jiraiya, who leaned against the base of the spire – the spire in question jutted upward from the top of a cliff – spoke. "Let me ask you again; how did the battle go?"

"…we won, if that's what you mean," replied Kakashi, his voice deadpan in nature.

Jiraiya's eyebrow twitched. "I know THAT. How is the village? What are the total casualties? How's the Fifth and the other Leaf shinobi?"

Kakashi sighed. His voice droned on as he remembered the events of three days ago. "Well…if you want me to be specific…"

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/Kakashi's Flashback/

/Three Days Ago/

/Uzumaki Naruto's House, Konohagakure, Fire Country/

Hatake Kakashi sighed as he quietly opened the door to Naruto's house. Naruto had arrived at home rather late last night…but then again, after going to a student reunion at the Ninja Academy (hosted by none other than Iruka), the Copy Ninja wasn't surprised. A reason to get together with old friends and allies wasn't one to pass up.

Kakashi stepped inside, glancing around. The one-room house (although that room was large enough to hold a bed, a bookcase, a table, and a refrigerator) was messy; some scrolls were on the floor around the bookcase. The covers and sheets on the bed were ruffled. Kakashi checked the fridge; nothing but canisters of ramen and a carton of milk. He checked the milk.

He immediately sweatdropped at the sight of a moldy hand reaching out of the carton's top. Yep. It's spoiled. As he closed the top and tossed the carton into the trash, he remembered that Naruto had been away for three years; of course his place would be in disarray.

Strange though…considering how relatively early it was, Naruto should have still been sleeping.

A piece of paper caught his eye. It was on Naruto's bed. Kakashi picked it up and read it.

He suddenly paled. Oh no…if this is…then… "Naruto!" Kakashi immediately burst away from the house.

SLAM!

He immediately ran headlong into the chest of the taller Jiraiya. The legendary Sannin looked down at the Jonin with a measure of annoyance. "You seem rushed." He quickly swapped the piece of paper in Kakashi's hand and read it.

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Uzumaki Naruto,

We have the Kazekage, also known as Gaara of the Desert. He possesses a demon like you. We want it.

If you do not come to Sunagakure immediately, he will suffer a most unfortunate fate.

You have three days to get here. We shall be waiting for you outside the Hidden Sand Village. When you arrive, the Nine Tails will be ours at last.

Akatsuki

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Rather than gasp or pale, Jiraiya's eyes narrowed. "Hmm…as I thought. I've been receiving words from my informants that Akatsuki was about to make its move…but so soon? I must admit even I'm surprised…but with the recent kidnapping of the Kazekage, it should be obvious."

"This is a very troublesome incident," said Kakashi, his voice stern and serious. "We have to report this to the Hokage-sama."

KABOOM!

The southern wooden wall of the Hidden Leaf Village suddenly erupted into fiery flames. Kakashi and Jiraiya paled as alarms sounded throughout the village. Kakashi sputtered, "Akatsuki?"

"Perhaps…to distract us from Naruto," replied Jiraiya with a sense of conclusiveness. "They don't want any Leaf ninja to follow."

As a multitude of Leaf shinobi began rushing toward the site of the explosion, Jiraiya said, "I'm going to notify Tsunade that the village is under attack. Repel the invaders if you can!"

Kakashi nodded as Jiraiya leapt on the rooftops toward the Hokage's Palace. Hmm…I wonder who came to attack us…

As Kakashi turned around to go towards the site of the attack, he saw someone coming towards his position. It was a muscular man with a lean build; he wore brown camouflage sweatpants, and his brown hair was greasy and unkempt. Two katanas were strapped to his back. Kakashi stared straight into the man's red eyes. That's…

When the man stopped on the rooftop on the opposite side of Naruto's house, Kakashi frowned. "So I thought correctly…you're a Nukenin…"

"Kakashi the Copy Ninja…it is an honor to finally face you," said the Nukenin. "The name's Blaze."

The Copy Ninja sighed out of slight pity; Akatsuki had sent leftovers to hold the Leaf down. Did they think this lowly of the Leaf ? "I suggest you retreat. You're not in my league."

Blaze merely smiled as he drew both of his katanas and held them tightly. He roared, "Faiahasaki! FIRE BLADE!" Both katanas became alight with red fire.

Kakashi paled. This technique…a mere Nukenin shouldn't be capable of an advanced jutsu like this! The Copy Ninja leapt back as the Nukenin swung at him.

The brown-haired missing-nin smirked. "We may be Nukenin…but we are the cream of the crop. The 100 Nukenin that have invaded this village are all of the Chuunin and Jonin level…and let me tell you this." Blaze grinned maliciously as the flames danced on his blades. "We will not be so easily defeated as the Nukenin known as Zabuza."

This statement, oddly enough, didn't phase Kakashi. The Leaf ninja merely replied, "Tougher than Zabuza you say? Well…if that's the case…" Kakashi shifted his headband, revealing his left eye: the Sharingan. "…then I'll have to be serious, won't I?"

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Let us move on to a different battle now…

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/Naruto's Flashback/

/Earlier that Morning, Outside Sunagakure, Wind Country/

As Kisame dispelled his Junsai, Naruto frowned. He had to take a few things into account. For one, Kisame was a former Mist ninja…and, according to the Pervert Sennin, he had – like Momochi Zabuza – once been a part of the Mist's Seven Legendary Swordsmen. Secondly, his techniques were primarily water and mist-based. Third, his Samehada blade was capable of cutting through his chakra.

Inwardly, Naruto grimaced. Man…of all the guys to start out against…

SCARED?

NO WAY!

YOU SURE SEEM SCARED. PERHAPS YOU ARE MERELY POULTRY?

"RRR!" growled Naruto as his chakra began to glow. "Bring it on, fish-face!"

Kisame grinned as he performed a set of katas. "My pleasure. Suiryuudan no jutsu! Water Dragon Blast!"

A great rumbling sensation was felt in the ground. Naruto blinked out of confusion before paling at the sight of a watery dragon erupting from the ground; the rumbling in the ground had been Kisame bringing up the necessary water for the jutsu from an underground river.

As the watery dragon roared at Naruto, the Leaf ninja concentrated chakra in his feet. He quickly leapt away from where he stood; moments later, the watery dragon crashed into the ground, creating a massive splash of water. The moment Naruto landed, a deathly cold voice came from behind.

"Gotcha."

Naruto didn't even need to look back to know that it was Kisame behind him. He quickly jumped forward as the Akatsuki ninja swung his Samehada blade.

SPLICK.

Naruto cringed as the tip of the blade cut through the back of his right calf. A ragged inch-long cut was now visible. As he landed twenty yards away from Kisame, he winced again. Crap…crap crap crap! This isn't an ordinary cutting wound…

YOUR GENIUS ASTOUNDS ME.

Naruto bit back an angry retort as he stood. No time for bantering! Just heal it, or else we're both toast!

YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE WHO'LL PERISH BY THE END OF THIS DAY.

Although the comment sounded like another insult, Naruto could tell that the demon fox was slightly nervous about what Akatsuki had planned. After all, they didn't even know what they planned to with Gaara. Who knows what they had up their sleeve?

Naruto scowled as he glared at Kisame, who had a self-satisfied smirk on his face. "Heh…now you've experienced the teeth of Samehada first-hand…last time, I merely cut your chakra…now I gave you a wound. I sincerely hope it feels like your flesh is burning…"

Naruto was silent…and then he chuckled as his scowl turned to a grin. Kisame arched an eyebrow out of confusion. "You snapped?"

"No…I'm just waiting for you to stop this crappy intimidation act…because it isn't gonna work on me!" boasted Naruto as he performed a set of katas. "Kage bunshin no jutsu!" Naruto split off into thirty shadow clones. All of them began performing katas as they shouted, "Now DIE! Konohaito no jutsu! Leaf Cords!"

Kisame blanched as large strands of leaves – all tied together to each other, forming leafy ropes – erupted from the sleeves of all thirty Narutos. Before he could react, they wrapped and bound him tightly, forcing him to drop Samehada.

The Naruto clones leapt forward, preparing to strike at Kisame with a flurry of punches and kicks. Oddly enough, Kisame wasn't feeling any fear.

Instead, he smiled. He quickly wrestled one hand free and performed katas with one hand. The Narutos blanched; they hadn't seen katas being performed with one hand since Haku.

Kisame roared, "Kiritou no jutsu! Knives of the Mist!" Mist suddenly coagulated around his hands, forming razor-sharp knives on his fingers. The leafy strands were cut by the sharp weapons, allowing Kisame to break free. He launched thirty knives.

Twenty-nine Narutos burst into smoke. Kisame frowned; where was the real one?

He sensed chakra behind him. Kisame whirled around to see Naruto in midair…holding onto the hilt of Samehada. "LET'S SEE HOW MUCH YOU LIKE IT!"

The Mist ninja smirked as he made one hand seal: the sign of the tiger. He then yelled, "SASU!"

Shark's teeth suddenly erupted from the hilt, piercing through Naruto's hands. However, much to Kisame's shock, the boy didn't let go. That kid's got guts…

"IT'LL TAKE MORE THAN A STUPID BITE TO GET ME TO LET GO!" roared Naruto as he threw the blade at Kisame. The Mist ninja grimaced as the blade slashed past his right shoulder, but he managed to grab the hilt in time; the teeth had retracted the moment Naruto had released Samehada.

Kisame grimaced as he watched the kid angrily lick his bloody hands; although he hadn't been generating a large enough chakra aura to be a big target for Samehada, the wound on his shoulder had cut a portion of his chakra away. Kisame chuckled bitterly; considering how much time had passed between the last time he saw the brat, the boy's chakra reserves had to have grown considerably, as well as his control (which explained how he had been able to keep his chakra from being completely cut from his wound on the calf; he had decreased the size of his chakra aura before the hit). And with his chakra being backed up by the massive stores of chakra possessed by the Nine Tails…Kisame smirked. Looks like I'll have to finish this fight now.

"Kage bunshin no jutsu!" Four Narutos stood in the place of one. Naruto smirked; the nifty thing about having a demon inside your body…it gave you a lot of chakra to mess around with.

YOU'LL RUE THE DAY YOU START TAKING ME FOR GRANTED.

Nag nag nag, is that all you do?

CONSIDERING IT'S ALL I CAN DO IN THIS MISERABLE PRISON, YES.

Naruto twitched. Smart-aleck, snot-nosed punk!

OOH. I'M SO AFRIAD.

Making a mental note to pay back Kyuubi (somehow) in the future, Naruto's mind returned to the task at hand. The four Narutos pulled out one kunai knife each.

Kisame merely performed another set of katas. "Mizu bunshin no jutsu! WATER CLONE!" Water came up from the ground, becoming three different copies of the former ninja of the Mist. Before Naruto did anything else, Kisame performed another set of katas. "Now…Kirigakure no jutsu! The Art of Hiding in the Mist!"

As a cloud of mist covered the area, Akatsuki and the imprisoned Gaara watched on.

Akira chuckled. "This has been quite entertaining."

"Kisame's chakra is going to run low soon…yeah. The kid has a lot more, so that's why Kisame's going to finish this…yeah," said Deidara.

Koumorimaru snorted. "I just wish he'd hurry up and finish."

"What would you rather do? See a demon vessel fight to pass the time, or wait under the hot sun to pass the time?" sarcastically replied Akira.

Gaara was silent. He was too absorbed in watching Naruto fight…he was interested in how much the boy had grown since their fight three years ago. "…"

Naruto paled; he remembered this technique. Zabuza had used it to hide flawlessly from Kakashi and Team Seven in their first C-Rank mission to the Land of the Waves (officially, it was a C-Rank; unofficially, it was an A-Rank mission). It rendered almost everything invisible to the eyes.

Fortunately for Naruto, Kisame was not a former member of the Kirigakure ANBU. Although Kisame was capable of hunting by sound, his auditory acuity was not as great as the "Demon's".

Unfortunately for Naruto, he didn't know that.

So he forced himself to be cautious. Okay…time to get creative!

Moments later, one of the shadow clones was struck. Before he disappeared in a puff of smoke, the clone stuck his kunai knife into the eye of his attacker. The water clone was defeated. A puff of smoke and a mass of water was all that was left of them.

Naruto kept his ears open. Another Naruto was struck by a water clone. This time, he was unable to strike back. Naruto grimaced; two-on-three. He closed his eyes as he pulled out another kunai knife. He had to use his ears here. Okay…where are you…?

WOULD IT BE HELPFUL IF I SAID 'MARCO'?

Naruto's scowl was his reply. He now regretted informing Kyuubi of some human games and customs. He continued to concentrate.

Then, he threw one knife to the immediate area in front of him, and he threw the second one behind him.

Splashes of water greeted his ears. He opened his eyes with a smile; he had gotten the last two water clones. "Yes!"

"Heh…not bad. But while you've been striking at my clones, I've been preparing for two knockout blows! KAPPAJUUGAN! Art of the Demonic Water Bullets!"

Naruto gulped. He quickly performed a set of hand seals, roaring, "Narakuseki no jutsu! UNDERWORLD BARRIER!" A ghostly skull suddenly appeared above Naruto, flaring with dark energy. It then spewed black and blue fire, forming a protective sphere around Naruto.

The bullets erupted from the thick, dense fog. They were made of water, and they had the visage of a demon on their tips. They collided with the fiery barrier, evaporating into puffs of steam.

From within the depths of the mist, the watery bullets were being fired from the fingers of Kisame's right hand. He was busy performing katas with his left hand. Okay…this'll finish it! "SAKAMAKU NO JUTSU! SURGING WAVES!"

His cheeks suddenly bulged outward; he spewed forth a stream of blue water, creating a massive wave that roared through the cloud of mist.

Naruto paled at the sound of rushing water. Oh man, this is bad!

The watery waves slammed into his barrier of fire, dousing it completely. Naruto gagged as he was surrounded by water, tossing him every which way. He underwent an extreme case of vertigo, losing his sense of direction.

BAM!

Naruto groaned as he crashed into the ground, his lungs losing their breath. As he tried to get to his feet – his muscles crying in protest – a voice penetrated his ears.

"Suirou no jutsu."

Naruto's face turned white as the water around him coagulated upon him, trapping him within a sphere of water. He looked up to see Kisame's hand sticking into the sphere. A cocky smirk was pasted onto the Mist ninja's light blue face.

Kisame sneered. "Art of the Water Prison. Game, set, and match."

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To be continued…

Next time…

Fear of a Demon! Gaara's Kidnappers Step In!

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Author's Notes: The battle between Naruto and Kisame ends in the next episode! The battle for Konoha is kicked up a notch…and more!

See you soon, and please review!