Master of Puppets, Demolition Chief

By: Dirty Reid

A.N.: Sorry about the long wait! It's just that college and a brand new Xbox take up a lot of attention and time!

Chapter 8: Elusive

'Well ain't this just the bitch,' Deidara huffed. His thoughts were so due to him being strapped to a very uncomfortable upright gurney. The ANBU hauling him along the halls of the Konohagakure Containment and Correctional Facility weren't too shy about jangling him about so that the steel cuffs that bound his wrists and ankles rubbed against him. Those would be leaving nasty bruises for later.

Itachi wasn't too much better. He was bound to a similar gurney. This one though, had chakra-conducive coils running through it; coils that generated a nasty little shock when some energy was pumped into it. He was blindfolded by a cloth that remained in place through absorption of chakra, just to cap it all off.

Deidara looked away from his fellow captive to get a look at where they were. They were moving through a hall separated by very thick bars, heading into another section titled 'Extreme Incarceration'. In Deidara's experience, any place with the word 'extreme' in it was never a good thing.

"Oh, this can't be good," he muttered uneasily. Perceptive as always, Itachi heard him.

"What's up Dei? Where are we?" he asked. Deidara quickly checked their escorts. He mentally smacked himself for forgetting that they had masks on.

"We're heading for 'Extreme Incarceration'. Is that bad?" The former pyromania terrorist asked. Itachi almost twitched.

"Yeah, it's ARGH-br-br-br-br-br-br!" He began babbling nonsense as he took a jolt from his stun cuffs.

"Quiet, Uchiha," one of the guards ordered, their voice just barely tinged with a bit of feminine reproach. After he stopped panting, Itachi grinned, to Deidara's curiosity.

"Megami-chan, is that you? ANBU at sixteen and my, my, you sound grown up!" Itachi exclaimed to the guard on his left. Megami, as she was called, did not respond. Deidara grinned.

"Old girlfriend, Weasel-Boy?" Deidara asked, unable to keep his grin from widening.

"Nah, I wasn't into dating at that point. She was twelve last time I saw her and had a huge crush on me. Isn't that right Megami-chan?" Itachi asked good-humoredly. While ANBU were not supposed to show emotion in the face of certain death, no one said anything about showing emotion in the face of embarrassment.

"N-no! Shut up!" Megami snapped. Deidara could almost hear the girl blushing.

"Aww, don't be embarrassed Megami! Weasel-Boy's a really hot guy- not that I'm gay or anything, I can just appreciate these things- that you'd only have to be crazy to lock up when you've got him all to yourself!" Deidara piped up. Megami looked down, as though embarrassed. The three other guards, although cursing Itachi and Deidara for screwing with her, were also making sure that they didn't start laughing.

"… Don't call him Weasel-Boy," Megami murmured quietly. Not unnoticed by said Weasel-Boy.

"Aww, thanks for defending me Megami-chan! I'll give you a kiss if you let me go …" Itachi waggled his eyebrows suggestively. The sliver of Megami's ears that were visible became the colour of raw beef.

"C'mon cutie, you know you want-AAAAABR-BR-BR-BR-BR-BR-BR-BR!" Itachi erupted in spasms as another blast ran through his stun cuffs.

"That's enough." One of the other guards finally droned. Deidara turned around to analyze the mostly triangular room and saw the cells they were to be placed in. The bars appeared cleft in the middle, maybe able to open sideways. The cells were about four metres by three metres. Steel bed frame and toilet, both fused to the floor. Deidara and Itachi were placed in cells on opposite sides of the room. While Itachi remained blindfolded, Deidara was able to see the control room at the far end of the room. To get to it though, one would have to cross a chakra-conducive floor which fed electrical power cells. 'Not pleasant,' Deidara gulped silently.

"Last chance Megami-chan," Itachi crooned in a way that would have made the laywoman melt. Megami though, she kept herself composed as she and her three compatriots left them.

"Well," Itachi sighed from across the room. "That didn't exactly go as well as I'd hoped." Deidara grinned and shook his head.

"Don't sweat it 'Tachi, this isn't the worst you've screwed up." Deidara placated his fellow inmate.

"Gee, thanks," Itachi said sarcastically. His brow quickly furrowed. "Wait, what d'you mean, 'this isn't the worst I've screwed up'?" he demanded.

"Umm, that one time in Onnagakure (Hidden Women)?" Deidara answered condescendingly. If he had not been blindfolded, Itachi would have given Deidara an affronted look.

"How was that a screw up!? I convinced all of those drop-dead gorgeous women- who wore less than a fur bikini on a daily basis- to let you, Naruto and I sire their daughters! If anything, that was my greatest achievement!" Itachi protested. Deidara rolled his eyes.

"Itachi, did you not hear what they said when you convinced them? 'For trespassing into our home, you will snu-snu with us until you can snu-snu no longer.'? They were going to ride us until our dicks fell off, we died or they killed us! How do you consider that a success?!" Deidara exclaimed.

"… Hmm, I didn't really hear anything after 'snu-snu'. But that's not the point! We could have been gigolos right now instead of locked up in a maximum security facility!" The pink-clad Uchiha defended himself.

"We would have died there because our dicks would have fallen off from overuse!" Deidara's voice started to rise with anger.

Itachi countered "I don't see how having sex for the rest of your life would be a bad thing!"

"Right, just like the stunt you pulled on that tobacco farm wasn't a bad thing either…"

"Oh, I can't believe you're bringing that up…"

Naruto twirled his goldenrod scroll a couple times before he placed it back into one of his cloak's many pockets. For the last day-and-a-half, he had aided in the reconstruction of Konoha in between quality time with Kin. The girl still reverted to a state of semi-shock after her near-death experience with Orochimaru- the man who had given her asylum, power and a purpose- every now and then. Fortunately for Naruto, the prescription was plenty of hugs and kisses. He was never one to turn down puppy love when he had gotten none of it during his childhood.

On the negative end of the ballast though, Naruto knew he was being watched constantly. He never saw his pursuants, but he knew they were there. As it was, he simply went about helping out around the village, spending time with Kin, just menial tasks. Unfortunately though, he being watched kept him from busting Deidara-nii and Itachi out of the slammer. He wasn't even sure he could do that anyways. Though loathe admitting it, he knew he wasn't that good.

'They're resourceful guys, they'll figure something out.' Naruto assured himself. Sasori-nii and Zetsu had buggered off to who knows where, and Naruto couldn't find them either. Not that he would endanger them by seeking them out anyways.

"Hey kid!" A voice that had very recently become familiar called. Naruto stopped ambling aimlessly and turned his head, raising the anterior portion of his straw hat to confirm it was Jiraiya walking briskly to catch up to him.

"Can I help you Jiraiya-san?" he asked neutrally. He prayed mentally that the reason one of the most powerful shinobi in the country had sought him out had nothing to do with his ties to the criminal world.

"Indeed you can," he answered. While his tone was mostly neutral, with a slight tinge of joviality in it, Naruto felt no less unnerved.

"I was just offered the position of Hokage, but I know I ain't cut out for that job. I'm about to go out and find someone I know can do it, and I want you to come with me." Jiraiya explained. Genuinely curious, Naruto turned around.

"And why is that?" he asked, being careful to keep his tone neutral instead of guarded.

"As awesome as I am, trying to find her on my own would take months. I've heard that you're quite accomplished, but even the seemingly greatest shinobi is not bereft of weakness." He said sagely, his eyes becoming distant. As if mirroring him, Naruto's thoughts drifted to Sarutobi Hiruzen. Konoha would never be the same without him.

"Think of it as repaying a debt, too." Jiraiya murmured as an afterthought. Naruto blinked. Of course he would say that. Wanting to ensure the success of a former student's progeny seemed reasonable enough to Naruto, but the blonde still felt that the old man was hiding something. The only other motives Naruto could think of that could possibly be going through Jiraiya's head was that he (Jiraiya) wanted to protect him, or ensure that he couldn't get to Itachi and Deidara. Saying that probably wouldn't be the wisest decision.

"… Sure," Naruto shrugged, "I was getting bored here anyways. I'll have my supplies ready in five." He said as he used the Hiru Banshō to sink into the ground.

"East Gate!" Jiraiya called just before Naruto vanished completely.

"Honey, I'm home!" Naruto called. When no response came, Naruto's brows knitted as he quickened his pace into his home. His uneasiness melted away when he saw Kin asleep on the couch. He grinned a little at the sheer cuteness that was his tousle-haired girlfriend. He slowly walked up to her and trialed his left index finger down her cheek. Kin shivered and groggily opened her eyes. She smiled happily and stood to hug Naruto when she saw it was him.

"Kin-chan, I'm going to be leaving the village for a little bit." Naruto stated. Kin pulled back from her hug to stare at him.

"Why? What is it?" she asked as her brows knit.

"Jiraiya's asked me to help him find the best person for the position of Godaime. He says that she's really hard to trace, so he could use the help of someone 'accomplished' like me. I didn't say it, but I think he's hiding something from me." Naruto explained.

"What do you think it is?" Kin asked.

"Not sure, but clearly it's something beyond the scope of my powers." Naruto answered as he went off to gather some food stuffs and camping tools. "Guess this means I'll just have to be extra careful while we're out on this Hokage hunt." Naruto finished as he sealed his tools (and a small bag of weed) into a single black scroll. As he placed it into one of the pockets of his cloak, he returned to Kin and lightly wrapped his arms around her. Kin smiled as he leaned forwards and pressed his lips to hers. They lingered in their lover's embrace for a moment before separating with a faint smack.

"Love you," Naruto whispered.

"Love you too," Kin answered, smiling again as he sank into the floor.

Jiraiya was surprised that Naruto actually showed up five minutes later, scrolls rubbing against the inside of his cloak. He was expecting to wait for maybe eight or nine.

"Where do we start?" Naruto asked.

"If I know her, she'll be in a town with a large gambling sect. The closest possibility is a place called Nyota. Should be a day's walk." Jiraiya answered as he began to exit the gate. He stopped when he noted that Naruto was not following.

"You comin'?" he asked. Naruto said noting as he fiddled with the clay in his hands.

"Yeah, yeah, hold on a sec…" Naruto mumbled before he tossed his clay up into the air. BANG! Jiraiya jumped a little when a large clay eagle fluttered down to the ground. Naruto wasted no time in vaulting onto its back.

"You comin'?" Naruto asked cheekily. Jiraiya shook his head with a grin as he jumped easily onto the eagle. The animated clay avian beat its huge wings and departed the ground. As Konoha became smaller, Naruto looked at it forlornly.

'Deidara-nii, Itachi-nii…' he murmured internally 'please be okay,'

Night had fallen inside the Containment Facility. Neither Deidara nor Itachi were particularly enjoying themselves. Deidara despised not being able to move about very much, and the food sucked. Itachi despised not being able to remove the blindfold on his head, and the food sucked. All in all, the food sucked.

"Itachi, we have got to figure out a way to get out of here." Deidara said after a long bout of silence, dropping his characteristic 'yeah' in such a serious predicament. The torture of a sleepless night was shared by Itachi.

"I knoooooow," Itachi moaned. They had had this talk so many times that he had almost memorized it word for word.

"No, I mean we have to get out of here. Based on what Zetsu said to us a little while ago, those Akatsuki guys should be starting to hunt for the Jinchuriki right about now. Naruto's good, but standing up to us is different, because he knows how we fight. They on the other hand, are complete wild cards." Deidara elaborated. Itachi stopped to consider this for a moment.

"Point," he said finally. "But how the hell do we get out of here? You don't have any clay to blast through this place, and I can't exactly go around using Amaterasu or people will know we flew the coop." Itachi reasoned.

"Maybe make a huge ruckus and take the investigating ANBU hostage?" Deidara suggested. Had he not been blindfolded, Itachi would have given the explosives expert a 'WTF Look'.

"How stupid do you think those ANBU are? They weren't just handed those masks on a whim, you idiot." Itachi snapped quietly.

"Okay, okay! Sheesh, there's no need to be mean." Deidara grumbled. Itachi remained silent for a moment.

"How good are you at acting?" Itachi asked. Deidara quirked his visible eyebrow.

"What does that have to do with anything?" the blonde asked.

"What we'll do is have you fake an illness, and when the ANBU come to cart you off, you take them out- having the element of surprise- and bust me out." Itachi explained. Deidara evaluated the situation in silence.

"… Okay, while that is a fairly good idea, I'm putting that in the 'Maybe' column because of my not-so-great taijutsu skills. It's a good plan, but there are too many weak spots." Deidara answered after his analysis. Itachi nodded in silent agreement.

"Any con-artist exit strategies won't work on shinobi, so there's a whole list of possibilities down the tubes…" Deidara rested his chin on his hand. For the next fifteen minutes, the 'Extreme Incarceration' chamber was filled with ideas the thief and the traitor bounced off of each other.

"Smash n' Bash?"

"Too simple; brute force doesn't cut it. Dig our way out?"

"With what?"

"… Good point."

"I swear trying to think of a good prison break attempt is harder than sitting the ANBU Theory Exams."

"Well I wouldn't know, Mr. Uber-Genius." Deidara grumbled. He sat back and looked at one of the walls. As he scanned the scratches that counted days and said many different words and phrases. As he stared at them absently for a moment, one particular section of scratches caught his eye. Curious, Deidara tore off a small section of his sleeve and ignited it with a severely underpowered Katon jutsu. In the dim and flickering light, Deidara read the scratchings, a cross between a smile and a frown developing on his face.

'This is either the greatest jutsu ever invented, or whoever drew it up was totally coked out of their gourd. Worth a shot.' Deidara concluded. He looked over the seal sequence (it was a long one) and began to go through it slowly. His Uchiha companion felt the change in chakra movement from his partner.

"Deidara? What are you doing?" he asked, sincerely hoping Deidara wasn't about to use some highly destructive jutsu to bust them out. His reputation in Konoha was bad enough as it was. He didn't need to add a prison break onto the extensive amount of crimes he had been charged for.

"You'll see!" Deidara declared smugly. Itachi felt a vein pop on his forehead. Deidara, sensing Itachi's irritation, simply laughed as he finished the seventy-seven seal sequence and announced the name of the technique.

"Deus Ex Machina no jutsu!"

Silence. Dead silence. If the floor hadn't been so hard, Itachi would have face-faulted.

"… You cannot be serious." He groaned. Deidara remained still for a moment before he turned to look across the room at his partner-in-jail.

"What?" he asked. "The guy who scratched it on the wall seemed to know what he was talking about!" he defended. Itachi slapped his head.

"'Deus Ex Machina no jutsu'? That has to be the most retarded attempt at a prison break attempt I've ever heard of! Don't you think that if that worked, it would have gotten out by now?" Itachi hissed.

"How often are people brought in here?" Deidara retorted crossly. "D'you maybe think that the guards would disregard anything the possibly insane prisoners in here scratch on the walls? I mean, if you were watching over someone insane in here, would you pay attention to them if they were scratching on the walls, let al-"

"Shhhh!" Itachi hissed. "Someone's coming!" He threw himself back on his bed and convincingly managed to feign sleep. Deidara lowered his torso to his bunk and turned his head to the side of his cell. The footsteps that he had not heard over his ranting were not loud to begin with, but he could still pick them up. The large bulkhead door clanked quietly and slid open with an almost imperceptible groan of metal on metal; a testament to the sheer amount of money and maintenance Konoha put into its detainment facilities.

Deidara refused to roll over and observe the three ANBU in the room, as that would immediately tip them off that he was awake. He heard their footsteps moving towards the middle of the block and vanish into the control room. Silence ensued for a moment before he heard a soft whine as the locks on the retractable bars disengaged. The sound of the footsteps returned and shuffled off to Itachi's side of the block, where the bars opened slightly.

"Come Uchiha, we-" the voice of a male ANBU cut off with a faint sound of flesh hitting flesh emitted. Deidara turned over to see the second ANBU turning to their smaller companion, only to fall to Itachi's hand clenching down upon a nerve at the junction of their neck and shoulder. Deidara watched as the second ANBU fell while saying nothing. Inside his head though, a chibi version of him was dancing around and screaming crazily.

'AAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! The Deus Ex Machina no jutsu worked! How's that for a retarded attempt at a prison break, Weasel-Boy?! Everybody do the Deidara-Dance! W00T!!1!ONE!!'

Itachi though, was quite bewildered. He sputtered in surprise when the blindfold was lifted from his head, and he was able to look upon the chestnut ponytail and crane mask of his 'dear' Megami-chan. Megami flicked her mask up to reveal a face that could only be described as 'Unhealthily Cute'. 'That's a face that'll never get ugly.' Itachi noted.

"Megami-chan, to what do I-" Itachi halted his sarcastic remark when Megami seized his head and yanked his lips to hers. The pink Uchiha's eyes bulged momentarily before he gently ran his fingers through her hair and kissed her back. Deidara simply watched in amusement. After Megami had locked lips with Itachi for almost thirty seconds, he cleared his throat loudly.

"While I'm not above being the audience for a prison porno, I'd rather not do it in a cell. A little help, please!" Deidara demanded with a large grin. Itachi and Megami parted with a loud smack of the lips. Megami flushed furiously, hurrying over to Deidara's cell and unlocking it. Itachi had pried the garments from the smaller ANBU, and was pulling them on over his own clothing. Deidara hurried over to the taller ANBU and followed Itachi's lead.

"A 'retarded attempt at a prison break attempt' eh? Eat your heart out, Mr. Cynical." Deidara whispered smugly. Itachi narrowed his eyes.

"There's no proof of that. She could have been coming to bust us out and you doing that 'jutsu' just happened to fall within the same time frame." He pointed out.

"Bullshit. You just don't want to admit I'm right." Deidara shot back as he placed a Henge- overlaid by a genjutsu- over his ANBU to make him resemble the blonde and placed him in his former cell. Itachi followed suit as Megami tapped her foot impatiently. They finished donning their disguises and placing their decoys into the cells before Megami locked them up and they exited the block.

They moved through the facility with absolutely no trouble. No one even said anything when they entered the 'Confiscated Objects' room to retrieve the two former prisoners' effects. As soon as they went through the hidden exit disguised as the back of a broom closet in the Hokage Tower and jumped out the window, Megami picked up the pace. In silence and shadows, they whisked through the forest to a less guarded area near the East Gate.

After ensuring they were alone, Itachi lifted his lizard mask. Megami did not object when he similarly lifted her mask to look into her eyes.

"Thank you, Megami-chan." He said softly. Megami failed to keep a small amount of satisfaction from twinkling in her eyes as she wrapped Itachi up in a kiss again. Deidara rolled his eyes as the two Konoha nin made out. He reached into his pouch and began to sculpt their escape transport. He was almost finished when they two teenagers parted.

"Be careful Ita-kun," Megami whispered. Deidara cocked one of his eyebrows at the affectionate nickname. He looked at Megami, and could have sworn he saw fear run through her eyes. 'For Itachi's safety, or because she just busted two dangerous criminals out of a maximum security prison? It's probably both; I'd be scared as hell.' Deidara concluded. Itachi, apparently, was thinking the exact same thing.

"I will come back for you Megami-chan. I swear." Itachi vowed solemnly, pressing his forehead to hers and stroking her cheeks. Megami sniffed unhappily before stealing one last kiss from her crush. They parted slowly and never ceased looking into each other's eyes, even as Deidara's transport lifted Itachi to the heavens. When Megami was visible no longer, Itachi turned to look forwards with Deidara.

"Were you just saying that because the moment called for it?" Deidara asked as he removed his fish mask.

"No. After what she did for us, the least I can do is bust her out if she gets locked up for treason. Plus, she's really cute and she likes me." Itachi replied simply.

"Good point." Deidara agreed with a small nod. "Where to?" he asked.

"We need to get away from Konoha, link up with Sasori and Zetsu. They'll be the ones who know the most about these Akatsuki, and where to find them."

"Alright. We'll have to sweep the surrounding villages. If anything, they wouldn't have gone far from Konoha." Deidara concluded aloud, commanding their large bird to ascend into the sky, carrying them off into the cloudy darkness.

Though he said nothing, Itachi was well aware that someone very familiar was trying their hardest to follow them.

The search for Tsunade was not going particularly well. Jiraiya and Naruto had searched every town they had come to from top to bottom, and had only received confirmation that the blonde Sannin had been there anywhere from one to four months ago. On the plus side, Naruto's expert skills in thievery and tricks allowed for him and Jiraiya to hustle a moderate amount of cash along the way. No complaints there.

Currently, Naruto was holed up in their small hotel room and working on his latest project. At first, he had felt bad about this project, feeling as though it was disrespectful to the deceased- who had been rather close to him- but had shaken the feeling from his heart. He made sure that he kept telling himself that kicking ass with this puppet would ensure that its original analog would never be forgotten. The fact that Jiraiya had chosen him to accompany him on his quest to find Tsunade only reinforced his gut feeling that someone or something was hunting him; all the more reason to complete this project.

Knock knock

Naruto looked up from braiding a steel cable to the door he was sitting diagonally to. He frowned; Jiraiya couldn't have finished his sweep and random acts of lechery so quickly. Paranoid he was, but someone randomly knocking on his door could be nothing but trouble. Whoever was there knocked again. Clearly they were impatient. Also not good. Naruto reached into one of his clay packs, gathering a few small pellets. As his palm-mouth chewed on the clay, his uninvited guest rapped harder on the door. His heart began to beat faster as his time grew short. His palm-mouth finished chewing and spat out the wad of clay. Naruto did not bother to mould it into anything but a marble-sized ball as he sealed his project into his 'Elite' puppet scroll and began a slow walk towards the door after mapping out his exit. Adrenaline roared through his system as he turned the door and looked up at his uninvited guests.

They wore black cloaks with red clouds on them. 'SHIT! Akatsuki!' Naruto cursed as cold pinpricks began to sprout all along his body. He looked at the shinobi on the left, and immediately discovered why Kisame had been called 'Demon Shark'. The blue man was nearly seven feet tall. If his wide cloak said anything about him, it was that he was more heavily muscled than any shinobi Naruto knew, with the exception of the Bakemono before Naruto had slain him and turned him into a puppet. Kisame carried a large object on his back. Not having a good view of it, Naruto presumed it was a club of some sort.

Despite being very physically imposing, Naruto felt nowhere near as scared of Kisame as he was of his companion.

The slight figure and shorter stature, accompanied by the dark sheet of hair and attractive face identified the second as female. Her white face looked almost doll-like in its aristocratic beauty. Over her back rested two blades Naruto identified as some elongated variant of butterfly knives. As his gaze moves away from her torso, he noticed her eyes were bright red out of his peripheral vision, and immediately stopped turning his head to focus on her face.

"Smart kid." The Uchiha woman remarked, no small hint of amusement in her soft voice. "Not exactly hard on the eyes either." She added. Despite the dire situation he was in, Naruto still felt it was necessary to roll his eyes at the comment that damaged the serious atmosphere.

"You don't have to hit on everything, you know." Kisame grumbled.

"You're right, I don't." she answered. "But it's fun."

"It's also kinda creepy when the person you're hitting on is less than half your age." Kisame shot back. The woman glared at him.

"Shut up!" She snapped. That half-second of indiscretion was all that Naruto needed. Funneling chakra to his legs, he launched himself backwards with the force of a cannonball. As he soared through the air, he tossed the clay marble at the two Akatsuki, who had reacted immediately and were advancing into the room. With a vindictive smirk, Naruto released a brief pulse of chakra.


While the blast was not the level necessary to level a small apartment complex, it served more as a flash-bang grenade. It lit up in a brilliant flash of pale yellow, and the explosion was sure to be heard several kilometers away. Naruto felt his eardrums screaming in pain as he smashed through the window, riding the concussive blast and increasing his speed. He twisted himself around, took a hold of his fox-decaled cloak and pushed chakra into the microfilament mesh sewn into the cloak. WhCRACK! The cloak became rigid and caught the air with the force of a lash against flesh. Naruto's velocity dropped as he angled himself into a glide into the alley. As soon as he hit the ground, he threw off his cloak, a clear identifying feature, and placed it beside a dumpster. He walked briskly out of the alley and merged with the small crowd of people. Right now, hiding in plain sight was the best strategy he could think of.

It wasn't the most effective plan though. Naruto's chakra reserves towered over those around him by several orders of magnitude. A mere moment after he began his subtle getaway, several kunai and shuriken whistled through the air. Instincts flaring, Naruto lunged out of their path and ascended to the nearest rooftop so as not to endanger the panicking civilian populace. Naruto turned and scooped up another mouthful of clay as Kisame and the Uchiha woman rose to meet him.

"… Before we commence with the ass-kicking, I have to ask: Who the hell are you?" Naruto asked the woman. "Itachi told me he wiped out every Uchiha but his brother."

The woman gave a condescending chuckle. "Itachi can't kill clan members that he never knew existed." She explained. Naruto blinked.

"Listen kid, you've pissed me off plenty, but I'm still offering you two choices. One, you can come with us quietly and we don't harm you. Or two, you can resist, and we will mess you up in the worst ways we can think of." Kisame growled rather loudly, still recovering from Naruto's flash-bang bomb. Naruto's palm-mouth finished chewing the wad and spat it into his closed palm.

"Y'know Kisame, I think you'd be a riot to actually work with." Naruto remarked. The shark man cocked one of his eyebrows at the comment, unsure of whether to take it as a compliment.

"Trust me cutie, he ain't." The Uchiha woman answered for her fishy friend. Said fishy friend glared at her for a moment.

"Be that as it may…" Naruto sighed and steeled himself, "but I'm gonna have to go with option three: Escaping you with a bang!" Naruto declared as he poured chakra into his clay wad.

Fate though, had other plans. Murphy, who had just finished making the fickle bitch of a deity scream his name, cackled as he channeled his influence into the chain of events to follow.

Naruto turned to hear footsteps along the far roof. He groaned when he saw the form of his 'favourite' avenger charging at the woman, kunai in hand.

"Sarabi!" he roared, presumably at the woman. The addressee shifted her gaze calmly to Sasuke. Her red eyes darkened for the blink of an eye and she simply vanished. She reappeared and caught Sasuke by the throat. The avenger choked as he was brutally stopped. He shifted his vengeful gaze to Sarabi. Clearly, Naruto surmised, that was the wrong thing to do. Sasuke quickly looked horrified and began screaming. Kisame was also riveted in interest. The ear-splitting cries rent the air for all of thirty seconds before Sarabi released the comatose boy.

"Now let me see, where were we?" she asked far too cheerfully. Naruto began to sweat in fear. He did not want to end up like Sasuke.

"I think we were at the part where you left." Said a voice that made Naruto drop his bomb and deflate in relief. He looked to his left to see none other than his sensei and protector, Jiraiya of the Sannin.

Kisame grit his teeth barely noticeably. Sarabi narrowed her darkening eyes. She winked out again, reappearing behind Kisame, grabbing him around the waist, and winking out again. For almost a minute, nothing happened.

"Well that was… anticlimactic." Jiraiya remarked. Naruto nodded.

"No shit. Thanks for the save. C'mon, let's get Dead-Weight over there to a hospital." Naruto picked Sasuke up, slinging him roughly over his shoulder and walking towards the northern side of their town to retrieve his cloak and find the hospital. Jiraiya, still a little put off by the lack of a fight, jogged to catch up.

'This hasn't been the weirdest day of my life, but it's definitely up there…'


I've been getting a lot of PMs asking about when I'll update fics such as 'The Reaper's Art'. Well, let me tell you now that I update my fics in the order of whichever one has been static the longest. As of now updating Master of Puppets, the order I will update my stories in is as follows:

Alliances Across the Universe

A Swordsman's Road

The Reaper's Art

The Spider Fox

King of the Hive

Division Wars

All Manner of Horror

Death's Apprentice and Heaven's Hand

In addition, PLEASE MAKE YOUR REVIEW CONSTRUCTIVE! If you don't know how, see the following:

Tell me whether you liked this installment

Tell me what you SPECIFICALLY liked

Tell me what you specifically DIDN'T like

Recommend a suitable improvement.

And once again, please see my profile for your shot at writing a completely original crossover fic. Send me a PM if you wish to take up the challenge.

Dirty Reid