Tsunade read over Ibiki's report from his interrogation of the former Otto/Akatsuki member, Karin. Like Iruka had predicted, she seemed to have given up the ghost and was very forthcoming with her information. As it turned out, Orochimaru had been hit hard by the death of his former right hand man, Kabuto, and had been using progressively weaker and weaker vessels, each deteriorating faster than the last. That was where the scientist had come in, she was responsible for researching and experimenting on prisoners in an attempt to lengthen the snake sannin's life span. She had been partially successful, this current body was holding up far better than his previous one and seemed to have shortened the time between when he could transfer hosts to mere months instead of years. One of his objectives when he re-entered Akatsuki was to try once again to get the sharingan, by using Itachi to lure Sasuke or Naruto out to him.

While the information she provided on Orochimaru's activities was helpful, it was the insight she was able to shed on the Akatsuki's plans that truly helped Tsunade, yet at the same time it frightened her the most. Hideaki had taken the trouncing his organization took during the Gaara rescue too well for Tsunade's liking, and though she couldn't put her hand on it, it did seem that despite the recent decimation the group had taken, there had been no change in the leader's demeanor or plans. The Hokage was only stirred from her musings by Shizune who had brought news from Jiraiya. The missive was short but to the point and confirmed another bit of Karin's inside information. Otogakure was amassing troops near the border of Fire country.


Sasuke stirred in his hospital bed, the first movements he had made in the week since his fight with Itachi. His eyelids squeezed shut tighter, trying to keep the morning sunlight from penetrating. In the end it was futile and he rolled onto his side and pulled the blankets over his head. Thankfully no one was in the room at the time, or they might have marveled at how childish the teen was acting. His reprieve from the light was short lived as the protective covers were pulled from his head by Anko who seemed to be rather pleased with herself.

"Rise and shine." She ordered, gripping one side of the hospital mattress and flipping it over, spilling the still reluctant Sasuke, who quickly removed himself from the pile of sheets and blankets.

"What the hell was that for?!" He yelled at the top of his lungs, arms pantomiming flipping a mattress off it's frame.

"Well, for one, you've been asleep for a week straight, two, I felt like it, and three...well there isn't really a third reason, but give me five minutes and I'll come up with something." Anko smiled, glad to see that her son was up and about once more.

"A week, really?" Sasuke seemed shocked that he had be invalid so long. "So, what did I miss?"

It took the better part of an hour, but Anko spared no detail in recounting Caruso's less than spectacular performance with Hinata and Tenten, at least what she knew of it, he'd have to grill his brother for the whole story later. Once the lighthearted comedy at Naruto's expense was out of the way, Sasuke asked about how Naruto was, and what else had happened while he caught up on his Z's.

"Well, Haku returned from her mission just a couple of days ago, she would be here now, but every time she comes in to see you, one of the medics insists on admitting her for the wounds she took in her fight."

Sasuke wasn't sure weather or not to be pleased that his girlfriend came back with her sense of humor intact, or worried about the injuries she suffered at the hands of the late Kisame.

"As for Naruto," Anko paused for a second. "look, I don't know what happened, or if you'd even know anything about it, but last night, when I picked him up from the Hokage's office, his right arm was...well, the term over-cooked sausage was used a couple of times."

"And you want to know if I know what's happening with him?" Sasuke surmised. "I'm afraid not, if he's working on some new technique, than he's just started it, believe me, if he hadn't already told you, he would have told me, Naruto can't shut his mouth when it comes to new juts us."

Anko was relieved that her sons weren't keeping secrets from her, but was still concerned about Naruto's health. If it wasn't a new technique, than what could have caused that amount of damage and deterioration?

"Well, let's see about getting a medic in here and getting you out." Anko chirped, trying to wash the worry from her face. "I get the feeling that Haku-chain would be pretty disappointed if she knew you were up and didn't see her."

Sasuke laughed, though deep down, he didn't want to face the wrath of his girlfriend anymore than he had too. He was sure to get quite the tongue lashing for doing something as reckless as he did, what with taking on Itachi with no back up...


There were very few things, Naruto decided, that he hated more than waking up in a hospital bed. There was shots, and Teuchi and Ayame Ichiraku's birthdays. Now don't get him wrong, he loves them like family, but closing the store down on their birthdays was almost torture to the ramen addict.

Yup, waking up in hospitals was a solid third on the list, and to be fair, the first place event took place in a hospital, so maybe he just hated hospitals.

The sun was just beginning to peek over the skyline, and instead of wasting precious time, Naruto gathered his belongings and headed home to change out of the clothes he wore the night previous. Progress had to be made on this technique, or else...well...there wouldn't be any more hospitals to wake up in...


The Hokage read over the latest intelligence reports she had been getting from the border, Otogakure forces were less than forty-eight hours away from the border, meaning she either had to send reinforcements there now, or she had to recall the patrol and scout teams, and she had to decide now.

Knowing that confrontation was inevitable, and that fleeing would only bring the war closer to the walls of her beloved village, Tsunade began to assemble her assault and strike teams.

Twenty minutes later, and after far less debating and shuffling than she had imagined, the blond Hokage was done and a smile graced her face. She was either a genius for coming up with this strategy, or insane for risking the lives of so few shin obi

"Shizune!" She yelled at her assistant, who promptly threw the doors to the circular office open in surprise. "I need you to get these people to meet me here as soon as possible."

As Shizune turned and walked out to fulfill her duties, Tsunade felt a hint of worry creep into her mind. Could a group of fifty beat an entire division of 300?


It took a while, but eventually all the members of the strike team were assembled, though it had taken some threatening and bribery to convince Naruto to drop whatever training he was doing and come to the briefing.

The group was diverse, encompassing two generations of Ino-Shika-Cho trios, the entire Mitarashi family and the final member of their gennin team, Sakura, four members of the Aburame clan including Shino and his father, Shibi, Iruka, Yuuhis Kurenai and Haku, Sarutobi Asuma, Kakashi, Maito Gai and what used to be his gennin team, Rock Lee, Hyuuga Neji and Tenten, and a seven person squad of ANBU. The Hokage's office was quite cramped, so as soon as soon as Kakashi arrived (only thirty minutes later than everyone else), Tsunade quickly began to brief the group.

"For the past couple of days, Otogakure has been amassing military forces outside our boarders in preparation for an invasion. I need this group to stop them."

She gave the statement a bit of time to sink in. With the exception of the older jounin, none of the ninja in her presence had experienced war on the scale that they would soon be facing.

"From the intelligence reports that Jiraiya and the scouts at the boarders are sending us, you will be facing something on the order of three hundred ninja of varying rank, though most are expected to be no better than chuunin. Less than thirty are reported to be of jounin quality and unless Orochimaru makes an appearance himself, those thirty are the toughest resistance you will be encountering." Shizune had just finished passing out the last of the information that had been hastily assembled for the thirty men and women on this mission.

"Now that everyone has their briefing booklet, I'll start to outline what I know and what needs to happen. Shikaku and Shikamaru, start game planning how we can do this with the least risk of casualties as possible. Now, here's what we know..."


In the Akatsuki lair, Hidaeki was waiting on the arrival of Orochimaru, so they could begin the sealing of the Nibi. A smile had been plastered to his face lately, and only his teammate and partner, knew why. Every single one of his plans, from assembling Akatsuki, to capturing the Bijuu and jinchuriki, to the blitz attack on Iwa that would be taking place in the coming days, everything was going as planned.

Orochimaru's astral projection lit up the dark cave with it's hazy light, illuminating Yugito's injured and unconscious body. Without a word, the three remaining members of this masterfully organization began their work. It was ironic that this extraction would take much less time than the extraction of the Ichibi, despite the Tanuki being weaker and the seal less stable. The seal that held the feline demon was actually too strong. It had chained the demon's soul not just to Yugito's body, but to her soul as well. Where one went, the other had to follow. Seven eyes slowly opened and the process of sealing the chakra and soul of both container and demon began.

'Soon.' Hidaeki thought. 'Soon all will witness the fruit of my labor...'


It had been a tense three days since Konoha had assembled it's strike team. The thirty ninja had left Konoha roughly thirty six hours before the invasion was to begin. They would meet up with the scout and patrol groups from the boarder and together, they would make up the strike force. Roughly fifty ninja in total, against what accounted for the entirety of the Otogakure army. Some had voiced their opinion that this was a suicide mission, while others relished in the chance for a good fight.

The plan was straightforward and simple. The most devastating techniques that Oto could use would be ones that would stun and disorient, allowing the larger force to move through with ease, so strike team had to be prepared. Most of those techniques would be illusions, and so dispelling them would be paramount if the Leaf ninja wanted to minimize injuries. Kurenai and Haku would be in charge of dispelling those illusions, while Iruka was to help them if needed, other wise he would be up to his usual magic tricks.

The first actual attack would come from Tenten, Sakura, and the ANBU. Sakura, who had spent many hours training with her newfound explosive abilities, would set off seemingly random explosions designed to separate and scatter the main group of shin obi, while Tenten and the ANBU would rain steel down upon the shocked masses.

The next wave would be a blitz attack while the enemy was still trying to figure out what was going on. Naruto, Gai, Lee and Anko would attack and try and collapse the surviving ninja inward, where the Airframes and Nara's could envelope them at their leisure.

The Yamanakas and Akimichis would be working as one unit, confusing their opponents and driving them into the physical powerhouses that were the gentle giants of Konoha.

While all of this was going on, Kakashi, Sasuke, Asuma and Neji would be keeping an eye on the battle, the two sharingan wielders would be looking for unknown techniques that might prove deadly if left encountered, Asuma, not a bad strategist in his own right, would be making sure no unforeseen complications arose, and Neji would be reporting in to the son of the Sandaime.

According to Shikamaru, this plan, if done correctly and without any unforeseen complications, should allow for a Leaf victory with less than twenty five percent casualties, of which, less than ten percent might be fatalities.

The sun was creeping down lower and lower in the sky, lengthening the shadows for the Naras, just as been planned when the bulk of the Otogakure formation moved into Fire country. All of the Konoha ninja were well hidden and waiting for the signal. Time slowed to a crawl and the sounds of birds and running water filled the air. A wolf howled off in the distance...


Ninja, unlike Samurai or body guards, don't move in large masses. It defeats the purpose of the ninja to be in large groups, as their best asset is stealth. Even in war, where ninja would meet on the battlefield in hundreds and thousands, they traveled to the skirmish in smaller groups. If one unit were ambushed and killed, better only three or four ninja be lost than if a platoon or squad were decimated.

Yet Otogakure had shown up as one biomass. One force of three hundred and fourteen. To the Konoha shin obi this was both good and bad news. Had they come in staggered groups or small platoons, ambush tactics could have been used to their full effectiveness. But because they were fifty against a force six times their size, they would have to settle for being the mosquito to Otogakure's elephant. The good news was that this force was all that could be mustered against the Fire nation, they traveled in numbers because it was safest for their remaining fighters. That inlet had been sent back to Konoha through coded message and would be on the Hokage's desk by the end of the day.

The three hundred troops were entering battle in a circular formation, whilst it's defenders were spread out in a bow shape, with the convex side meeting the enemy first. The wolf call was the signal that would begin Konoha's second defense of it's homeland against the forces of Orochimaru.


The first wave of explosives hit near the rear of the sound forces, exactly as planned. Shock waves sent bodies flying, driving the injured forward into their comrades. Pushing the foremost edge of the enemy formation into the apex of the defenders lines. The might of Otogakure was met initially by Chouji and his father Chouza, as well as the scout and boarder patrol. They erected barriers of earth so as to slow the forced shove of Otogakure, but against the sheer mass of the invaders, spurred on by more and more explosions and the screams of wounded and dying ninja, each wall eventually crumbled. Before any of the Konoha ninja were badly wounded, the small force retreated, giving the Sound ninja, the momentary feeling of victory.

And like a firework, it was a fleeting flash as Shikamaru's master plan went into it's next phase. As the convex bow of defense retreated from the center backwards, it turned into a U shape and the farther that Oto chased, the deeper they dug their own graves. The invading hordes were being bottlenecked into a column five or six wide and about forty deep. What had once been the rear of their force was now broken into small groups of dead or dying men and the occasional kunoichi. Those that weren't already wounded from Sakura's bombardment and the explosive notes of Tenten, were cut down by kunai and shuriken that seemed to have no end.

As soon as a gap appeared between the force pushing inward, and the destroyed rear guard, the blitzkrieg part of the plan went into action. Gai and Lee teamed up to spear through the front of the onrushing ninja, splitting the column right down the middle. They reached the center before the invading ninja realized what had happened and before any retaliation could happen, the two taijutsu experts opened the first three gates.

"Initial gate, second gate, third gate, open!" They yelled simultaneously. The shockwave of chakra that was released blew the center of the advancing column apart more effectively than any wind jutsu or exploding tag. Those closest to the youthful pair were lifted off their feet and flung with enough force to break bone upon impact with anything harder than another human.

Those ninja far enough away to be spared the explosion of youth still had to cover their faces as the wind and pressure washed over them, kicking up dirt and leafs. The moment their heads were bowed or otherwise protected, Anko and Naruto hit like Whirling Dervishes. Anko's sais' stabbed and sliced through any ninja that came too close. Her weapons were similar to Sasuke's only in that she could wield any chakra element that she chose. Unlike every other weapon in her family, her zanpakuto's had multiple names, and not simply because their were two of them. Tsunami and Raigeki were merely the incarnate of water and lightning, each element had it's own impressive appearance. Now, she used Kamikaze and (burning land) to simultaneously separate and cauterize in two moves that came so fast it seemed to be one stroke.

Naruto had forgone the use of his zanpakuto, opting instead to use magnetism to suppress the metallic weapons that were primarily used by the Sound forces. Bells for crippling genjutsu were rendered useless and melody arms were silenced as the moving parts needed to generate their paralyzing sound waves were magnetized together. So as not to be slowed by his own force, Naruto used his ice abilities as well as those of the corpse bone pulse to further separate the surprised invaders.

By now, the one time impressive force was now split into six smaller groups, not counting the smoldering section that had been their rear guard. Each of these sections had less than twenty five soldiers in it. The invading ninja had been cut in half with only a handful of injuries.

Now the Aburames, Naras, Yamanakas, and Akimichis went to work, draining chakra, attacking from the shadows and creating havoc from within the Oto ranks themselves.

Within the first minute of this combined assault, the invaders were looking for any way to retreat, only to find themselves surrounded. They still outnumbered the Konoha shin obi, but from their original number, only seventy five were still alive, and only about fifty of those were in fighting shape. Quite suddenly an odd thing happened. Over half of the remaining ninja, turned on their comrades, independent of any Yamanaka mind control. These were the poor of Otogakure, who had been forced into joining the military or face death. They had no attachment to Orochimaru and once they saw that their final assault had been crushed, had promptly decided to seek clemency from those they sought to destroy.

Caught unawares by the sudden mutiny, the handful of faithful followers were quickly put down and the remaining combatants surrendered.

It took a moment for this to sink into the Konoha ninja, but quickly the fog of war was lifted and the skirmish came to an end. The Konoha forces quickly took measures to restrain the defeated and treat their wounds. There had been only a handful of fatalities on the Konoha side, almost all of them were from the scouting group that had re-engaged after their initial diversion was over and had encountered a concentration of enemy jounin. But as group after group continued to check in via short wave radio, and injuries were documented and healed by Sakura and an ANBU medic, the victors began to unwind from their battle ready state.

Once their own were healed, Konoha turned to the aid of their prisoners. The survivors were mostly unharmed, due to the fact that the majority of the fighting was done hand to hand, allowing each ninja a greater ability to identify their target and focus on one objective at a time. Water was handed out, and the most grievous of the injuries were treated. By this time, the sun had completely sunk beneath the horizon and so fires were built for a well deserved hot meal.

And it was at this moment, just as the last of the stew and soup was passed out, that the counter attack came. Throughout the Oto ninja, screams and moans of pain began to ring out. In the flickering fire light it was difficult to see what exactly was occurring, but when the first POW staggered into the main camp with a horrid mixture of blood and green puss oozing from every orifice, everyone knew that something terrible was happening. The closest medic from the Scout group rushed forward to examine the man who couldn't be more than thirteen. The medic began the signs for a basic healing technique, and his hands began to glow a bright green, but he moment his hands made contact with the suffering man, the glow died. He tried again with identical results. On the third try, he used a stronger jutsu and this time upon contact, the teen let out a scream of agony. His back arched and the medic grabbed the paining boy to lay him down, but before anyone could do anything, the boy screamed in both pain and without warning, released all the chakra in his body, bathing the onlookers in a blue glow, before something gave, and the boy exploded, killing the medic and two others close by.

Before anyone could lift their heads again, there was another explosive inside the refugee camp.

"The prisoners are absorbing any chakra they come in contact with!" Neji yelled over the radio.

"Stop! All medics, stop using chakra!" Sakura ordered, hoping to prevent another explosion.

However, instead of stopping, the explosions suddenly increased in number. Everyone frantically surveyed the area and calls for status went out. Even with his byakugan, Neji was having a tough time making anything out in the dark, even with the light from the campfires. At first he just saw a movement at the edge of his peripheral vision and when he looked more carefully, couldn't find anything to indicate that it hadn't just been a Leaf shin obi crossing behind him. But then his impressive eyesight caught another flicker of movement just before another victim exploded. Again, there was a whisper of movement. Perhaps the flutter of a leaf or coat. Again, a poor drafted soldier exploded, taking other with him.

Leaf ninja began to scatter to investigate, giving constant radio reports on their location. Then, one by one, each radio began to fall silent. Something was spicing off the scouting unit and ANBU that had gone out.

Another explosion emanated from the camp along with a scream, this time of terror before it's maker was killed. This time, Neji caught a full look at the ambusher.

"It's Akatsuki!" He yelled, sounding the alarm.

It was Akatsuki, but only two of them. Orochimaru and Chiyoko strolled towards the well list camp. Behind them, not a single refugee was moving, likely they were all dead.

Everyone steeled for the fight that was inevitable, but they waited for the notorious criminals to make the first move. Needless to say, the two attackers trying to make small talk wasn't the move most had in mind.

"Sorry to intrude, Oro-san here seems to have misplaced his test subjects for a chakra detonation virus. Have you seen them?" No one thought Chiyoko's attempt at humor was very good, nor was it the time for such a thing, but besides some growls rising from those who had been on the Gaara retrieval mission, no one made a move.

The staring contest continued until the Chiyoko made a move to the ring on her right middle finger. Everyone tensed but didn't know what to do. They simply watched as she removed the clay ring with a small black sphere made of onyx and palmed it. On some unknown signal, she tossed the ring high into the air above the heads of the remaining Konoha ninja. Those with good eyesight, like Neji, Sasuke, Kakashi, and Naruto, watched as a the onyx stone pulsed with chakra and began to expand. It flattened out and grew until it covered the entirety of the camp. From the black hole in the sky, rocks began to fall. It as if a land slide had just appeared in the sky. The Leaf ninja were caught completely by surprise and would have been crushed had it not been for Anko and Kakashi hastily erecting a very sturdy barrier of earth.

But more rock continued to fall and pile on top of the already crushing mountain. Naruto and Sasuke, along with Chouji and his father, rushed to help hold up the dome that was protecting them from being crushed. Eventually the sounds of falling rock stopped echoing through the dark cavern, and those ninja without earth affinities began to worry about how to escape. It was Sasuke that actually noticed his mother and Kakashi melding into the rock and disappearing. Before he could voice his protest, the others who were contributing to the strength of the dome noticed the absence of the two ninja. Having to now concentrate much harder on holding up the life saving earth barrier, no one noticed Iruka escaping the crushing earth in the same fashion as Anko and Kakashi.


Chiyoko had just placed her ring back on her hand, when Kakashi and Anko burst forth from the ground, right under her feet. Neither she nor Orochimaru were surprised that these two had survived, or that they were the first to come up and fight. Having had enough staring and waiting, Kakashi rushed towards his sensei's old teammate, while Anko began her latest attempt at ending her teacher's life. Her fists were thundering against the pale guard of Orochimaru, and although she was pushing him back, she hadn't landed a solid blow. He grabbed her latest offering, a straight right punch, and attempted to use his tongue to latch onto Anko's neck, but was unable to, as she broke his grapple and ducked to her right. From her crouched position, Anko delivered a sliding kick right to her teachers left leg, pulling the rug from under his feet. Before he could hit the ground though, Anko followed up by planting her left foot into his stomach and knocking him into the air and backwards. As Orochimaru hit the ground, he turned into mud, revealing the last attack to have been in vain. His next attack came from behind Anko, as he attempted to impale her with his Kusangi, only for the legendary blade to be pinched between Anko's sais. With a whispered "Raigeki", the sai in her right hand transmuted from metal into tangible lightning. The deadly electricity attempted to conduct itself down Orochimaru's blade, but was stopped when he managed to break Anko's guard and ground the sword.

"Since when have you ever attacked from behind when you had the advantage?" Anko chided as she twirled Raigeki and stopped, now holding it in a reverse grip.

Orochimaru, never one to let a shot at his strength go unpunished, proceeded to use Katon: Karyuu Endan to create a blinding wall of fire in an attempt to use the Kusangi again. He was disappointed but not surprised when his former experiment extinguished the fire easily and again intercepted his sword with her sais, pinching his blade between two tsubas made of lightning.

Once more he was able push chakra through the blade, slowing the electricity enough for him to withdraw and ground his fabled sword. Her tribute to the Nidaime was beginning to annoy him slightly, and he began to plan his counter while nimbly dodging her strikes. He hated to admit it, but even though he was dodging and blocking her strikes, her constant suffocating offense wasn't leaving him any room to counter.

Reaching out to the cursed seal, he attempted to get some sort of reaction from it, but instead of the strong connection that should have existed at this close range, the cursed seal seemed to be beyond his reach.

"I see that idiot Jiraiya managed to seal up my gift more effectively." He gloated dodging a sweeping left and threading the blade of his Kusangi through the tsuba of Anko's sai, using her own defense against her momentarily. He knew that she hated to be reminded of what he had put her through, it was always a sore point of hers, to be reminded of a time when she wasn't able to defend herself,to help herself. It was that spirit that had attracted her to the snake sannin in the first place.

Instead of anger, as she would usually have responded, Anko merely grinned like the cat that had swallowed the canary. "It wasn't Jiraiya that did this. It was Naruto who was able to turn your taint into a gift. Not in your perverted sense of the word, but an honest to goodness, tangible gift."

The Kusangi was still locked with Raigeki, but with the point of the sword stuck into the ground, and a strong out put of chakra from Orochimaru, the deadly lightning wasn't reaching him. For the moment he was in control, but he was again usurped by Anko's overhead swing with her left hand that he was forced to avoid by retracting the Kusangi and leaping away.

Anko didn't stop her attack, and on command, her second zanpakuto transformed, reverting from metal into dirt and sinking into the ground up to the guard. From this point, a fissure began to grow and deepen, following Orochimaru's leap through the air. He would land right into his own doom of Anko had her way, but of course the pale snake had a trick up his sleeve. He summoned a snake large enough to prevent him from falling into the ground, and lived to fight another day. He didn't care as he watched the summon become buried alive by the ever widening gap in the ground. With a fleeting thought that Manda would be even more difficult to deal with, he returned to the fight.

He used an earth jutsu to divert a near by river, and change the battleground to an aquatic one, sinking (Fissure) beneath four or five feet of murky swirling water. He watched in pleasure as Anko cursed. Burying the giant snake had seemed like such a good idea at the time, but now she wished she had left the gaping maw formed by her weapon to divert the raging water. While two sai gave her a highly capable defense against the Kusangi, one wasn't nearly as good, perhaps only marginally better than a kunai.

Orochimaru knew this and pressed his attack, leaving Anko the one backpedaling. Despite being on the defensive, Anko was able to dodge and weave at her leisure, leading Orochimaru in circles. Without her second weapon, Anko could only dodge for now, this fight was now a stalemate...


Kakashi couldn't believe it. He was being completely outclassed in every way by his sensei's old teammate. He sported cuts from a weapon he couldn't even see and hadn't been able to so much as touch Chiyoko, despite his sharingan. She wasn't moving faster than he was, and she wasn't using any clone technique that Kakashi knew. But whenever he seemed to corner her or attempted to land a blow to her body, his arm would pass through what seemed like an after image.

Whatever she was using, the sharingan couldn't counter it. It wasn't ninjutsu or genjutsu. It didn't even seem to use chakra at all and even though his wounds were superficial, Kakashi was loosing stamina and strength rather quickly. He felt her next attack as she separated the tendon behind his knee in his right leg. The pain was intolerable, and Kakashi collapsed on his ruined leg. A sense of hopelessness dawned upon him, unequaled in his life except for the death of Obito.

In a blur of black and red, Chiyoko appeared over Kakashi and tsked in disappointment.

"Kashi-kun...you're not good enough to beat me now, and you never have been."

Kakashi suddenly felt himself lifted off the ground by Iruka and moved to a near by tree branch, just as a small but sharp protrusion of rock shot skyward, exactly where Kakashi had lay a moment before. The copy ninja was again shocked that his sharingan had failed to pick up on the chakra Chiyoko was using.

Iruka first used his limited medical knowledge to numb the pain of Kakashi's severed tendon before he covered the sharingan to preserve what chakra Kakashi had left.

"You need to save your energy, your sharingan won't help in this fight, misdirection isn't the same as genjutsu."

Chiyoko's voice seemed to come from everywhere around them, making it impossible for Kakashi to pinpoint, but Iruka seemed to have no problem.

"Oh, Iruka-kun, is that you? It's been so long since I've seen you." From Kakashi's vantage point, there seemed to be five points of black that suddenly blurred to form the Akatsuki member, standing in the middle of the clearing that served as the battlefield. Iruka could sense the confusion emanating from his comrade and preempted his question.

"Genjutsu is the art of illusion, in it, the user overtakes the victims senses and uses them to make the victim sense whatever the caster chooses. The flaw is that the caster must consciously and constantly control a flow of chakra to continue the illusion. Misdirection is the next evolution in illusion, where there is no chakra flow and the user doesn't have to impose their will on the victim. In misdirection, the users own senses give off false signals without being prompted or controlled. It is a skill only the two of us have really taken to it's full potential."

Now it made sense to Kakashi, the sharingan countered genjutsu by seeing through the flow of chakra used in genjutsu, making it's hypnotizing effects useless or allowing the ninja to counter the technique.. Without that chakra, the sharingan was no better than his regular eye He suddenly heard the sounds of fighting, which made no sense because Iruka was still crouched next to him...As he turned to look at the 'chuunin', he found that Iruka wasn't there. The sensation of Iruka's hand on Kakashi's knee, administering first aid, had lasted for five seconds after the Magician had left his side...Amazing.

Down below, Iruka was fighting the second in command of Akatsuki to a draw. Both had mastered th art of illusion to levels not before seen in the ninja world, and while it may have seemed that the two combatants were using steel blades, in actuality, they were trading fists and elbows. The mesh armor sewn into both fighters clothing was being strengthened and manipulated by chakra, making the sounds of knife battle, but to the eyes, there weren't any weapons. The brain, in an attempt to reconcile this fact, drew in the non existent weaponry. This was the most basic example of the art these two warriors utilized, it was fairly simple to play on a bodies preconceived ideas. 'You hear hooves, you think horses, not zebras'. You hear the sound of metal on metal, you think kunai, not mesh armor.

Iruka, despite the gap in age and experience, was finding that they were on equal footing, and it felt wrong. Chiyoko should have had every edge in this fight, and yet she was stalling. What was she waiting for? Backup? A timed explosive? Or was she trying to push him to some bobby trapped spot? Whatever her rationale, Iruka felt the hairs on his neck stand up as the fight wore on and on.

"Why are you stalling?" He asked, dodging beneath a right cross and attempting to sweep his opponent off her feet.

"Oh, don't worry your little head off, Iruka-kun. It'll be over soon enough and I'll be out of your hair. Until then, why don't you think of this as a test?" She smiled at the younger man in a warm manner.

"Because you already tested me, remember? You wanted me to abandon Konoha, like you did, and join you. You were never one to do things that weren't necessary. Why are you even here?"

Chiyoko smiled again, pleased by Iruka's abilities and thought process.

"You are aware, I'm sure, that to seal the power of a Bijuu takes a tremendous amount of power. But not just chakra. To undo the power of human sacrifice takes another sacrifice. That's why we've gone through so many members, each time we seal a demon, at least one of them dies. Not necessarily in the process, but immediately afterwards. I'm just here to make sure that Orochimaru doesn't escape."

The implication of her statement hit Iruka. The Nibi had been caught and was now sealed. Yugito was dead.

Chiyoko suddenly picked her head up a bit.

"Well, it's time for me to go. You've grown very strong, Iruka-kun, I'm sure you've made Mom and Dad proud."

Before Iruka could react, his sister vanished in a bright flash of light and smoke.


Anko let out a grunt of pain as the Kusangi bit into her side. The poison that coated the blade burned like liquid fire as it entered her blood stream and began to spread. From the feeling of numbness that spread through her side, this was a very strong neurotoxin, designed to attack her nervous system, eventually halting her brains ability to send signals totally, including her ability to breathe.

She was now fighting the clock as well as her sensei. She had hundred of possible moves she could try out, but time for maybe only thee or four. She transformed her final sai into it's earth elemental form and threw it at Orochimaru who easily dodged the weak attack.

"Getting that desperate already?" The sannin taunted as he watched the fissure grow and eventually swallow up the weapon entirely. "Is your control slipping that much already? I trained you better, Anko-chan, I'm disappointed."

"So you keep telling me." She growled out, clasping her hands together in the ram seal and drawing on her chakra. "I told you that I've turned your curse into a gift, and this is it."

Orochimaru didn't hear her whispered 'Bankai' as he felt her chakra explode outward. He watched as her skin toughened and turned dark and the form she had taken after he completed her cursed seal reappeared before him. Everything was the same, the purple and yellow scale like skin, sharp blades that extended from her forearms and a slightly upturned nose and slit golden eyes. The only difference was that Anko retained total control of her actions this time, and Orochimaru couldn't do a thing to stop it.

In one movement, she moved with speed untraceable by Orochimaru's eyes and bit him on the neck, just like he had done to her many years previous.

She stepped away and allowed her transformed state to recede, watching her teacher suffer the effects of her bite.

"It's a combination of a hemotoxin and a coagulant venom. As we speak, the hemotoxin is braking down your red blood cells, destroying your ability to transport oxygen to your body, slowly suffocating you. As that is happening, your blood is clotting and turning hard. The official cause of death that Tsunade-sama will note is some kind of infarction."

True to her word, Orochimaru's breath sped up and became very shallow. He felt lightheaded as his blood pressure dropped and then solidified. All in all, it was a particularly horrifying way to die.

Anko watched her mentor die. She had her revenge, and in the end, it left more of an empty space than the hunt. He had ruined her life, made her a social outcast, a pariah. Every time someone spoke behind her back, for every insult that had been hurled at her, every time she had been avoided simply because she was associated with the traitor, this was for all those times. He had given her nothing but pain, all the times he had her train until she passed out, every time she was forced to fight stronger ninja in life and death situations. He gave her bruises, pain, isolation, a curse seal. And he had also given her a son.

Naruto, having him around made everything she had gone through worth it. For all the pain, Orochimaru had been the first person to believe in her abilities. He taught her almost everything she knew, he believed in her. Staring at his lifeless corpse, Anko felt the sudden urge to thank him.


Tsunade looked over the returning ninja. They were remarkably well off considering the odds they were up against. She was glad to see so many ninja return, though the village would mourn the loss of those who didn't return. The loss of Orochimaru would hurt Akatsuki, though the news that Yugito had been captured was worrisome. Now only Naruto stood between them and their goal, and the remainder of their organization would be brought to bear against the boy.

A shiver ran through her body, and something deep within her told her that it wasn't the oncoming winter weather.


(A/N: There! I wrote the thing! I hate it, well, part of it, but I wrote it. I swear that will finish this, but I don't know when. I'm writing again, which is a good sign, but well...I work in slow and mysterious ways.)