Disclaimer: Dearest reveiwers, readers, and fren-i-mies:

I do not own Naruto. Thank you and have a nice day.

Moriko: ORLY?

Me: YA RLY.

-

Walk Like a Shinobi

The Iwa Chuunin Takoto had never woken up. As soon as his prone form had been abandoned, Zetsu had swooped down and dleivered him to Madara. Madara had used his body and given it to Deidara's soul. Meaning Deidara was currently fighting in the body of a Chuunin.

It was not going well.

"Shiiit, un," Deidara hissed, skidding backwards and supressing the instinctive feeling of terror. "Damn Guardian. Damn greenhorn body. Damn Uchiha! C'mon, you oversized, acid-breath, mythical piece of--Arg!"

The Guardian roared, snarling and swiping at Deidara again with massive claws. The bomber missed being cleaved in two by inches and promptly ran up the wall to hang on the cieling. Turning his hulking head, the Gaurdian followed Deidara's movements and opened his jaws wide to revlead glistening teeth and a condensed ball of chakra that was slowly growing bigger...

"You missed," spat Deidara, launching himself from the cavern's ceiling and landing easily on the top of the Gaurdian's head. The clay in his hand was ticking away as he alpped it onto the thick scales..."Say hi to Manda for me, un!" Deidara hollered, leaping clear and sending chakra through to the bomb.

The explosion rattled the stalagtites, shook the floor and sent debris flying everywhere. The Guardian thrashed his head from side to side, howling in rage.

Lip twitching in a sneer, Deidara shoved down the cold spike of terror in his gut and got ready to try again. "Shiit, un."

He really didn't have much of a choice--Madara wanted the Gaurdians subduded by the time Uzumaki got here--three more days. After battling for four straight, Deidara was thankful that really, his soul was dead. Otherwise he wasn't sure he could have taken so much. He'd used nearly all his C3 explosives and the C4 he had just attached to the beast's head had done next to nothing. Three days left to make the Guardian a pet? Deidara snarled and lunged forward.

He'd show them--that was more than enough time for an artist like him.

"Die, un!"

-

Sasori spinned his head back into place and surveyed the wreckage of the lair. A distincitve, menacing rustling reached his ears, and he sighed. Stil? How many times did he have to kill this beast? Crouching, he felt the metallic wings unfold from his shoulders--Madara had been kind enough to upgrade his body while he'd been in Hel. So far, the adjustments had come in very useful in not being eaten.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-chhhhhhhh...

Here he comes...

With a blood-chilling hiss and a roar, a lithe shape exploded out of the rubble, curling in on itself like a bunge cord and shooting straight towards him. Springing into the air, the puppet master swervwed and dove and spiraled to avoid the vemon being spat at him--droplets of yellow poison the size of sail boats. Climbing into the sky, he pulled tight against the cliff wall and ducked into a slim crevice. Below him, he could hear the Guardian slithering along the ledge far below, waiting for him to poke his head out of the hole he was taking refuge in--oh, how the mighty have fallen...

Sasori allowed himself the smallest, briefest, most self-satisfied of smiles as he fingered the stings attached to his fingers. This wasn't over yet. Oh, no, not at all. He gave a little tug, not enough to set off the trap he had laid so carefully but enough to reassure him of their taughtness.

Now there was no escape.

-

Shino was feeling very disturbed. The large blobish impression made on his mind's eye by Kilelrbee's chakra was moving in the same direction as Naruto's and company. Only, Killerbee was moving much faster. He and the Konoha group were barley five miles apart, Killerbee being a bit more to the east of them. For whatever reason, the idea of the Kumo host meeting with Naruto sent shivers of dread rippling through the ranks of insects. Shino always trusted his bugs--he picked up the pace, closing in on the gap between him and the Konoha group. Far enough not to be detected, close enough to teleport if something went wrong.

But what was he talking about? Everything was going wrong.

-

The black-gloved fist slammed down on the table, rattling the untouched cup of tea and making Zetsu snap to alertness. Madara leaned across the table, gritting through his teeth in a dangerous, low voice, "You don't want to lie to me, Orochimaru." It was not a suggestion--it was a scalding command.

Orochimaru himself was unimpressed, his yellow eyes narrowed in a way that suggested he was throughly amused. Even so, Madara didn't miss the pale man's hands tightening on each other. The sneer he was given belied the purr that spoke, "Why, Madara, why would I lie to you?" In the corner, Kabuto fought down a grin. Zetsu shifted uncomfortably.

Madara was enraged, close to boiling over as he leaned further. "You know damn well why," he said, still in the same low voice, "And I will not tolerate it."

"Of course not," purred Orochimaru, "I never accept unfairness in my dealings."

"Then don't give me excuses," hissed the Uchiha, gripping the edge of the table so hard the wood cracked. "That scroll will be mine and mind alone in three days time, when this all comes to a head. You can have you village back and the Rinnengan exactly as promised once Konoha is gone."

"Then I see no problem."

"There had better not be."

A moment of silence as the single visible eye in Madara's mask glared at the snake-like orbs. Neither man moved. The menace wafting off them shimmered in the air like a heat wave. In their respective corners, Zetsu and Kabuto stirred. Kabuto felt a cold sweat break out on his forehead and blinked as his vision went hazy. Zetsu was trying very hard not to squirm in place--the hostility was shriveling him up. Another long second passed, the clock on the wall ticking queitly as though it too were afraid...

Near Madara's desk, the clay bowl suddenly filled and spilled over.

The silence broke like a twig being snapped in two, Orochimaru and Madara simultaneously glancing at the bowl. Moving out of his seat, Madara muttered, "Excuse me. This will only take a moment."

"Of course," murmured Orochimaru, head tipped to one side as he studied the small, average-looking bowl. "...An ingenious method of communication. Tell me, how do you accomodate for messages sent by shinobi with other chakra types? I take it the candle on your desk is how you speak with fire users, yes?"

"Correct," clipped Madara, and offered no further information. He kneeled and looked into the bowl. To Kisame, he snapped, "Report."

The shark-man shrugged and offered a toothy grin. "They don't trust me. I'm know Uchiha isn't buying that you brought the brat back to life, but he can't deny that this is his chakra signature." He grimaced, which wasn't much different from his grin. Gingerly, he touched the side of his face. "I hate faking how weak this kid is, though. One of the bitches here almost took his head off."

"Were you discovered?" asked his boss sharply. Kisame shook his head, swearing.

"No. The twat wouldn't give me her water bottle."

"Kisame!"

Kisame held up his hands hastily. "Hey, that's all, okay? Nothin' else is happening here. We're about three days away from the base, but you know that already, so unless there's any orders I gotta go. I told you they're watching me."

Madara thought quickly, asked, "There's nothing else?"

To his chagrin, Kisame hesitated. "Well--"

"Spit it out. I have a...guest. Hurry up, Kisame."

"

"Alright, alright. There's been this big ripple that comes and goes on my field of vision. Some big chakra signature. The Leafies haven't noticed it yet. I think it's a Bijuu."

"A Jinchurriki? Not Naruto?"

Kisame snorted. "Of course not. If I was detecting him anymore than I already am we'd be in trouble, wouldn't we?"

Madara sighed inwardly. "You think it might be the eight tails?"

"I dunno. The Hel should I?"

Another sigh. After another moment with Kisame looking around warily and Orochimaru watching with interest, Madara waved a hand. "Go."

A slurping noise and a splash, and Kisame was gone. The water in the bowl splashed over the sides and seeped into the ground as Madara stood and returned to the table. Orochimaru smiled, standing and signaling to Kabuto. "Well, then, I believe we've gotten what we came for. We are in agreement, Madara-kun?"

Again, Madara waved a hand. "For now."

"Till next time, then." With a woosh of foul-smelling air and a cloud of smoke, they were gone. Zetsu stood. His usually impassive face was twitching irregularly.

"Madara-sama."

"What is it, Zetsu?"

"I don't like this." "Shall I go secure the eight tails?"

For a thrid time the hand gesture dismissed the matter. "Forget him. We'll worry about when he gets here."

"Madara-sama, if he arrives at the same time as Naruto..." "...The prophecy, Madara-sama..."

"Don't worry about it, Zetsu. Go check on the others. Hopefully the Gaurdians haven't mutilated them yet."

"Yes, Madara-sama."

The tall man was left alone in his darkened room, the light of the lanterns failing to reach into the recesses of the blackness. Letting out a deep breath, Madara sat at his desk and rested his chin in his palm, thinking. A few unexpected bumps along the way, but that was alright. So long as nothing else popped up, he would succeed. The ghost of a smile hovered on his thin lips at the thought of finally completeing what he had started over a hundred years ago--Konoha would fall. The ninja world would fall. The order of things would be rewritten just for him.

Everything was going perfectly.

---

Author's Note: More like two weeks. Sorry about that.

Oh, dear. I just now realized I talked about both Gobi and Nibi when Hachibi was thinking about how to get Killerbee moving last chapter. Sorry about that. It's meant to be only Nibi.I suppose Hachibi just tricked Killerbee into thinking it was Nibi so that Killerbee would get moving. shrug That works too.

Hmmm. You know what? I think I'll recite the creepy old English nursery rhyme that I was thinking about when I was getting my CAT scan. Here goes--

Ten little soldiers went out to dine

one choked hisl ittle self and then there were nine.

Nine little soldiers stayed up very late,

one overslept and then there were eight.

Eight little soldiers travleing through Devon,

one said he'd stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little soldiers chopping up sticks,

one chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little soldiers playing with a hive,

a ((killer)) bee stung one and then there were five.

Five little soldiers went into law,

one got in chancery and then there were four.

Four little soldiers down by the sea,

a red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little soldiers went to the zoo,

a big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two little soldiers out in the sun,

one got all frizzled up and then there was one.

One little soldier left all alone,

he went and hanged himself and then there were none.

...See? CREEP-OLA!

Killerbee: Cool, man, I'm bustin' rhymes in old England! XD

Hachibi: induces coma

Me: wince