Really sorry it took me so long to update,

I just completed my degree and spent most of the time ensuring that I got the credits needed for it.

Sorta ate up my time.

Chronocidal: Naruto doesn't want to summon right now. The only two summons (that I'm aware of) that can reverse summon people are the two toad sages, and Jiraiya might have need of them.

Yes, I know that Jiraiya could have arranged for him to be reverse summoned, but he didn't do it inside Ame either, he could have, easily.

Maybe there was more to be gained than just the time.

Who knows?

Only time will tell.

And as for the chapter, here it is.

Might be a bit rusty on the writing though, so, forgive me.

X—X—X—X—X

Without Uchiha Sasuke

Chapter 40

These were no ordinary clones.

No, Kidoumaru had figured that out with the first clone he had dispelled.

Being a guardian of a Sannin, he had come across many a clone technique and each of them had produced clones that were solid.

Yet, he had never faced a clone technique such as this before.

These clones were weak, much weaker than the others, taking just one simple hit before dispelling, but they were doing one thing that none other had done before.

They were learning.

Every time he dispelled a clone, Kidoumaru found that the rest immediately corrected their directions, all towards him, narrowing the angle, trying to flush him out.

Jumping from tree to tree, branch to branch, Kidoumaru took out another clone, this time from behind, and saw, to his amazement, that the spread still adjusted their directions, scarily accurately towards him.

Kidoumaru narrowed his eyes, as he speared the furthest clone from him, one that the others had no clear vision of.

And again, the whole spread changed their direction, straight towards him.

It seemed to him as if they knew everything that the dispelled clones had experienced in their short lives, even the pain of death.

If these experiences were in fact, truly shared, then he could only assume that the user of the technique also shared the same experiences.

This clone technique, whatever it was called, was useful, the possibilities and applications of it endless and Kidoumaru could think up many ways to take advantage of such a technique.

It didn't matter though.

Kidoumaru was one step ahead of the clones, and it would stay that way.

As long as he kept on moving, then, the clones would never be able to trap him, nor would they be able to take him out of the equation.

And that, allowed him to keep taking out more clones, and in the end, cause the blond nin to waste more of his precious chakra, chakra that he would need soon, if he wanted to stay alive.

Smiling to himself at the simplicity of his plan, as well as the stupidity of his opponent, the six armed Oto Nin jumped from his spot, confident that Oto would be the ones to come out on top this time.

X—X—X—X—X

Tayuya, much like Kidoumaru, was having a great time and more over was enjoying the battle.

Unlike her partner, Tayuya had a first row seat to the trouble the blonde Nin was having against them, and she had honestly never witnessed something that had made her more pleased.

She watched him duck and dodge the attacks of her Doki, all the meanwhile finding it near impossible to get anywhere close to her.

Every single time he made a break, they were there, their agility as well as speed, increasing along with the tempo of her melodies, allowing them to block off, as well as push him back away from her.

Her glee had hit a new level when she had summoned the spirit worms inhabiting the Doki's bodies, adding yet another obstacle to the set of problems the Konoha Nin was facing, knowing that as time passed, they were the ones who were closer to victory.

The brat was getting noticeably weaker as the fight wore on, the worms taking bites out of his physical energy with their hungry mouths.

Not only that, the new batches of clones he had to make to send to keep Kidoumaru occupied was adding to it as well, as the boy neared chakra exhaustion.

Tayuya increased the pace of her melody, increasing the speed and the ferocity with which her Doki attacked, to be rewarded by the blond boy going down on one knee.

Tayuya's heart leapt at the sight, racing at the prospect of achieving something that not even the other three of the Sound Four had managed to.

Not wanting to let the opportunity slip by, Tayuya commanded both Doki to attack him at once, her plan to squash him under the weight and force of the two summons, her mind already filling with the praise and rewards Orochimaru would shower her with when she returned with the blonde's head.

Kidoumaru, she decided, could share in the glory, for without him, it might not even have been possible.

The red haired Oto nin watched in glee as the spikes on her Doki's arms impaled the Konoha nin, blood spurting from the exit wound much like it would on any other living being, before the spike ripped the body apart violently, for effect.

The woman crowed in triumph as the body of Uzumaki Naruto crumpled onto the branch.

It was over.

It was finally over.

X—X—X—X—X

The summoning came off without a hitch as the familiar weight of the two toad sages appeared on top of his shoulders.

The awkward silence that lingered between the two masters and their pupil lasted for a good five seconds before it was broken by the toads.

"So the day has finally come, eh, Jiraiya-chan?" Spoke Fukasaku, to which all Jiraiya could do was nod.

The lump in the Sannin's throat only grew larger as his vision grew moist.

He had made peace with his death the moment the battle began, and it had been as clear as day as it had gone on.

But for some reason, the goodbyes he was saying now felt like the hardest thing he had to do in his entire lifetime.

"Jiraiya-chan."

The soft call of his name from the female Toad Sage brought a smile to the now wart covered Sannin's face, but somehow, the words he needed to say got caught in his throat, the moment he tried to say them.

A soft pat on the back, along with the words, "We know", was all that Fukasaku was able to give his very first student before the form of Gamahiro crashed through the house in front of them, dispelling as the blue form of Hoshigaki Kisame smashed into him.

Forcing his mind back on to the task at hand, Jiraiya jumped towards the blue skinned man faster than he had ever gone, slamming a kick into the man's midriff, sending him skidding away into the debris, before turning his attention to his once team mate.

Goodbyes said, plan in motion and his mind fully focused on it, the Toad Sannin set about luring the Tailed Beast without a Tail as well as Orochimaru to the edge of the barrier.

The one place where he could end things, as well as the one place where the chances of himself being 'ended' were much higher.

X—X—X—X—X

The pain was unbelievable.

The pain of losing a loved one added on to the pain of being speared by what he could only think of as a tusk combined, was something that he couldn't even put into words.

It was sharp.

And it was prolonged.

Uzumaki Naruto grabbed at his shirt, his eyes widening at the intensity of his 'death', failing to notice that the melody from the flute had stopped reaching his ears.

This new version of the Kagebunshin lasted longer, could use more jutsu and even lasted longer, yet he had only ever used it in training earlier and it was only now that he understood that like everything else, the phantom pain was also amplified.

It wasn't until the crow of triumph tore out of Tayuya's throat that he came back to his senses, his mind immediately going back to the plan he had set in motion not too long ago.

Another flash of phantom pain through his head told him that his plan was close to coming to fruition and that the time to take down the first of his hunters had come.

The redhead's partner, had lost himself in the glee of killing his clones, and now was nowhere close enough to help her.

The blond boy dispelled his henge as an ant, mere feet away from the Oto Nin and made his final dash, a spinning orb of chakra in his hand, blades of wind rotating about it as he closed in on her.

He would forever remember the shock in his opponent's eyes, as he finally brought her glee crashing down from its heights, ending it along with her life.

X—X—X—X—X

Kidoumaru didn't realize where he was until Tayuya's crow of triumph reached his ears.

Slightly disoriented, the four armed man looked around, revealing his third eye, only to figure out that he had been led away.

Led away from his target.

Led away from his partner.

Led away from where he could provide support.

Led away from where Tayuya desperately needed him to be at that very moment.

The clones!

He realized.

They had never been meant to flush him out and kill him.

All they had been meant to do was to herd him.

The Uzumaki had no friends in the vicinity for sure.

If he had, they would have intervened way before this chase.

They would have intervened when Orochimaru had arrived to aid the Akatsuki.

The plan could never have been to lead him to them.

The only thing that could have been the objective, and had to be the more the he thought about it, was to lead him away from Tayuya, where the blond pain could go toe to toe with her alone.

Cursing himself at his stupidity, at himself for getting complacent, for getting lost in the joy of having things go his way, for playing straight into his mortal enemy's hands, Kidoumaru raced towards where his team mate was, notching an arrow into his bow knowing that he would need it.

However, the clones had very effectively managed to separate the two halves of the hit squad, and Kidoumaru knew that if he didn't really hurry, he would never get to Tayuya in time to save her.

The four armed man was never given the chance to intervene, a clone appearing in front of him, hands pointed towards him with a fox like grin on his face, as he sang the words, "Fuuton, Reppuusho".

The gust of wind hit the Oto Nin before he could loosen the notched arrow, lifting him up and into the trees, further away from where he needed to be that very moment.

The anger within him swelled even further, as another cry from Tayuya reached his ears, this time, filled with pain, this time, the last one he would ever hear from her.

X—X—X—X—X

Tayuya had always wondered what people meant, when they told her that life would raise you the highest, just before it took it all away.

But as she turned around to gaze at the face of the blond boy, so close, so close to her, she knew what they had meant.

All that triumph.

All that glee.

All those rushes she had felt, came crashing down, the moment she noticed that the body had stopped bleeding prematurely.

A simple poof of the dismembered clone told her everything she needed to know about what had happened.

Tayuya went numb as the realization struck in.

She now knew she had been played.

For how long, only Kami knew.

But she now knew that all of what she had felt and seen, had been on purpose.

All of it, had been just to get her to lower her defenses.

It had taken just one cry of happiness from her, for him to pull the trigger.

A moving form to her right alerted her to exactly how well she had been played.

He was close, far closer than she should ever have allowed him to get.

A surge of chakra in his hands told her of the incoming technique, the one that had killed Jiroubou.

She had seen how devastating a technique it had been then, and she could only imagine it had grown stronger within the years.

Her heart raised and her life flashed before her eyes as she raised her flute in a desperate attempt to block the incoming blue orb of chakra.

The flute was made of Doki bone, the most resilient material she had ever come across, the most resilient thing she had upon her person.

Yet, at the last second, when she saw those blades of wind chakra form around the jutsu she had come to know as the Rasengan, she knew that not much would have stood in the way of this particular version.

As the blades of wind tore through her flute and into her body, she screamed yet again.

A scream unlike anything she had ever screamed before.

A scream that didn't even contain the barest hint of anger.

As she died, she thought the scream fitting, considering the amount of screaming she had done at her team.

As she had lived her days screaming, she would end them with a scream as well.

X—X—X—X—X

Tayuya was dead.

If anything, Orochimaru's seal told him that.

As with the deaths of the twins and Jiroubou, as well as Sasuke and Kimimaro, the death of one bearing his curse seals was like extinguishing a beacon of light that soared into the sky.

The loss of one of the three last beacons, caused anger to well up within Orochimaru.

It seemed as if the blond brat had cost him one more after all.

And that thought, was all the distraction Jiraiya had needed to send him flying once again.

"Snake! Focus!" came the words from Kisame as Orochimaru was plucked out of the air, moments before he came into contact with what he realized was the barrier Itachi had erected.

When had they allowed Jiraiya to chase them that far?

And where was Itachi, then?

But even as he thought the last question, a better one appeared in his mind.

Why had Jiraiya chased them this far in the first place?

"Doton: Yomi Numa (Earth Release: Swamp of the Underworld)"

Countless days of sparring as well as fighting against Jiraiya had honed both Orochimaru's mind and body, the Sannin leaping up into the air the moment he heard the jutsu voiced out.

Hoshigaki Kisame, however, wasn't as lucky, and found himself sinking into the bog that Jiraiya had summoned.

Orochimaru lifted his arms, buffeting himself, trying to stay afloat long enough to make some sense of what his old team mate was doing.

The movement slowed down his rate of descent slightly, but also allowed Jiraiya to create two clones of himself, who immediately went through hand seals resulting in three different techniques.

"Sage Art: Wind Release Stream."

"Sage Art: Fire Release Stream."

"Toad Oil Bullet."

The Snake Sannin gritted his teeth as he watched the three techniques combine into a stream of lava, incinerating everything it touched.

Jiraiya had planned all of this, not in so many steps, but the purpose to pushing them to the edge of the barrier was the very jutsu he had just unleashed.

There was nowhere for them to run, not a single spot he could land on and to make it worse, the marsh was catching fire as well.

A shout of "Suiton, Suirou no Jutsu" found himself watching Kisame as the Akatsuki member floated in a sphere of rapidly evaporating water and couldn't help but curse himself for not having such a defensive jutsu.

He had earth techniques that would block the lava stream, but they all required him to be in contact with the ground and that, was something he was not doing.

Unlike Kisame, who was converting his own massive chakra amounts into the water that kept him afloat and away from the lava, Orochimaru had no such jutsu to keep him afloat.

The snake Sannin channeled chakra through his body, preparing to leave the moment he touched the lava.

He would only get one chance to do this.

If he failed, or even got the timing slightly wrong, then he was as good as dead.

X—X—X—X—X

One down, one more to go, thought Naruto as he jumped through the trees, heading towards where he felt the last member of Orochimaru's henchmen.

He no longer was blinded by the pain, nor the rage he felt at himself.

No.

Uzumaki Naruto was now calm.

Not okay, but still, as calm as he could be, considering what had happened.

He had analyzed the situation, and it had seemed to him, that the best option would be to rid himself of any and all tails as soon as possible.

Just in case they came after him again.

He had seen two alliances within the space of three years.

The first between Orochimaru and Danzo, had caused major losses to Konoha and the second, which was going on right now between Akatsuki and Orochimaru.

If Orochimaru survived today, there was no guarantees on whether an alliance would be formed between the three parties and on the off chance that there was, Naruto knew he needed to lessen the number of quality opposition that they could bring.

His mind clear and sharp, the blond double checked his weight seals, making sure that they weren't activated, and that all his chakra had been removed from them.

He had a plan.

And he would need every bit of chakra, as well as every bit of his speed, if he wanted to pull it off flawlessly.

X—X—X—X—X

A sense of pride filled the heart of Fukasaku as he watched Orochimaru fall straight into Jiraiya's Goemon, the body instantly catching fire the moment it touched the stream of lava.

The toad suppressed his urge to yell out his joy at the triumph, keeping in mind that he and Shima both were in the midst of preparation of their most powerful technique, the genjutsu.

The plan had worked beautifully, the Sage mode had allowed Jiraiya to bully both Orochimaru and Kisame towards the barrier.

Towards something that even they would be backed up against.

The whole idea, was to trap them inside the Goemon.

The target, to drive Orochimaru out of his 'body'.

Orochimaru had to have a medium for his soul.

Something he used to transfer his soul from body to body.

All three of them knew that.

Orochimaru wouldn't be able to transfer his soul otherwise.

Kisame had simply been a bonus, a bonus that had gone slightly awry when he had pulled out his Suirou, preventing the Goemon from killing him or hurting him at all.

But, the technique had bought them the time.

Time enough to prepare for their duet.

Time enough to prepare the genjutsu.

The one that would end at least one life, if not more.

The moment Orochimaru's body hit the flames, the wanted objective had been accomplished.

A long snake like creature erupted from the flesh as if it was a mere hollow container, straight into the air, the timing so perfect that it landed mere seconds after the lava had hardened and Kisame's barrier had dropped.

But it was too late.

Fukasaku and Shima shared a glance as they opened their mouth, the melody of the genjutsu flowing, trapping everyone that heard it in an unbreakable genjutsu.

There was no way Orochimaru nor Kisame were leaving this battlefield alive.

X—X—X—X—X

Kidoumaru cursed at himself as he threw himself sideways and away from the incoming blond.

There had been a reason Orochimaru had sent them as a pair.

Tayuya would provide the close to mid-range abilities, while he was to provide support from afar.

Yet, he had lost himself that advantage when he had allowed himself to get distracted and herded.

Kidoumaru cursed at himself again for assuming that the boy would run.

Run back towards Konoha, where he could get help.

He hadn't.

He had come looking for Kidoumaru.

And they had run into each other causing Kidoumaru to lose the small advantage his range had offered him as well.

The six armed man replaced himself with a nearby log, hoping that it would distance himself from the blond Nin that seemed to be their very bane.

Hoping that it would allow him to fight the battle on his terms, using his strengths.

But his hopes were extinguished when he felt the release of a massive amount of chakra, followed by the invocation of one mass scale technique.

"Tajuu Daikamaitachi no Jutsu. (Multiple Cyclone Scythe Technique)"

X—X—X—X—X

Orochimaru of the Sannin sat, coiled, unable to move as the four toad guardians kept him paralyzed and unable to move.

He had known what it was the moment he had heard the first note.

But like every organism with an ear, he had had no choice but to listen.

He had had no choice but to fall victim.

A sense of peace washed over the Snake Sannin.

A sense of peace that came out of nowhere.

He knew he had been beaten.

Pieces of his soul would live, inside the cursed seals he had put on his subjects.

But he knew that he couldn't revive himself, once he was killed here.

If anything, someone could revive him.

But they'd require three things.

First, the knowledge that it can be done, and how to do it.

Then they'd require the instruments.

A piece of his flesh, from which his body could grow.

And an intact cursed seal, with the bearer alive, so that the piece of his soul, could be transferred to the piece of his flesh.

The only one who would know to do this, would be Kabuto, his servant, but even Orochimaru had his doubts about his apprentice's loyalty.

Orochimaru chuckled at the word he had just used.

Apprentice.

Kabuto was that, yes.

Kabuto was the one he had taught almost everything to.

Yet, he was nothing compared to the two, no, three apprentices that Jiraiya had had.

The first, had become Hokage, a feat in itself.

The second, had shown clear emotion and loyalty to Jiraiya that very day.

Something, that Orochimaru honestly doubted Kabuto would do.

The third, if she even could be counted as one, was well on her way to greatness as well, already defeating one of the last Uchiha with her own hands.

Jiraiya had him beaten on all fronts.

He knew that now.

And with that knowledge, came a sense of peace and calm that he had never felt before.

A rare smile on his face, Orochimaru waited for his 'death'.

At least, until he was revived.

Then, he would have beaten Jiraiya on one front.

X—X—X—X—X

Jiraiya took a mental step back as he looked upon the scene before him.

He knew that he didn't have much time as only two Ishiken appeared before him, one for each target caught in the jutsu, one less than the number of people he had hoped to catch in it.

The two in front of him had been surely caught.

S ranked criminals, unmoving, as they stood, bound by the four toad guardians that surrounded each of them.

That meant that somehow, Itachi had not been affected by the genjutsu and was still free.

Jiraiya was running out of Senjutsu chakra.

The Goemon had taken a lot out of him, since he had performed it all on his own, without the aid of the two toad sages on his shoulders and the moment he ran out would be the moment he got pulled out of his Sage Mode.

Senjutsu chakra was unique as it gathered natural energy from the surroundings and combined it with his own, to create a stronger more potent version of it.

Jiraiya hadn't fully mastered the sage mode, and therefore had trouble absorbing natural energy on the move.

It was the reason he needed to summon the pair of toads and fuse with them.

They were the ones who collected the natural energy and feed it into him, yet with their concentration on maintaining the jutsu, they weren't able to do that and Jiraiya knew that it was best he got this done as soon as possible.

Jiraiya jumped off towards Orochimaru, one Ishiken in hand, as he pondered where to strike the literal Snake through.

Jiraiya wasn't that good with snakes, and had no clue where its heart was.

Settling for second best, he thrust the sword through Orochimaru's human head, going for the second most vital organ in the body, the brain.

He was rewarded when the body shuddered twice before collapsing where it had stood.

Jiraiya backtracked to pick up the second Ishiken, spreading his Senjutsu senses, noticing that Gamaken's signature was still in the vicinity, but not Itachi's.

He had barely made it to the sword when Gamaken's signature replaced itself with Itachi's, and finally everything made sense.

Gamaken had eaten Itachi, and as all toads bodies were in another dimension, he hadn't heard the melody of the genjutsu.

Somehow, the Uchiha had forced his way out of the toad intestine, dispelling the toad in the process.

Jiraiya picked up the pace, pouring his last bit of Senjutsu chakra into his legs as he propelled himself towards Kisame.

The sooner he was done with the Akatsuki Nin, the better it was for him.

Both targets dead would mean that the toad sages could drop the genjutsu, turning their concentration onto gathering Natural Energy for him to convert into Senjutsu Chakra.

That meant that he could remain in Senjutsu mode for longer, and in the end, give Itachi more than a run for his money.

Landing near Kisame, the Sannin thrust the sword through the missing Nin's abdomen, pinning the Shark-like man to the ground, a second before Itachi appeared in front of him.

Jiraiya jumped backwards, putting some distance between him and Itachi, allowing the toads some time to start gathering the needed energy to keep him in Sage mode.

What surprised Jiraiya the most was the fact that Itachi allowed him to distance themselves, instead turning to the body of his partner Kisame, bringing him into contact with Samehada.

It was obvious to him now that he hadn't managed to kill the Akatsuki Nin.

But it had never occurred to him that the sword could merge with its wielder, using the chakra it had eaten before to heal whatever injuries that Kisame had had.

Jiraiya grimaced.

So not everything had gone as well as he thought it would.

He had hoped to kill both other members, but had only succeeded in killing one.

All was not lost though, he knew, as the fact that he was alive meant that things hadn't ended.

Maybe, just maybe, he could take them all out.

X—X—X—X—X

The gaki was smart.

Kidoumaru had to give him that.

The gaki was smart enough to destroy the terrain.

The trees that would give Kidoumaru the height as well as the multiple vantage points he needed to properly use his bow.

The trees that would serve as a barrier to anyone who was going to chase Kidoumaru around.

Worst of all, the gaki also had had the chakra capacity to do so, and for an area large enough that Kidoumaru had no option of running.

Okay, so the entire place had not been leveled, but it had still been chopped down to size and that, had been smart considering the waste of chakra needed to pull of that technique.

And boy, what a technique that had been.

Kidoumaru considered himself lucky that he hadn't lost more than one arm to the massive sickle blades of wind that tore through the trees, but that luck, could only take him so far.

Now he stood in front of his target, an arm down, and his bow nowhere to be found.

Sure, he still was way ahead in the number of appendages, but Kidoumaru had never had a need for close combat.

He had always managed to choose the place and time, and his third eye had helped choose the perfect moment for each kill.

Even in the worst cases, he had had the help of the rest of the sound 5, namely Jiroubou and the twins to help him, and in rare cases the help of Kimimaro.

But now, he had none.

It was just him, against someone who specialized in close combat.

Pouring chakra into his saliva and sweat glands, Kidoumaru created his golden thread, making sure to cover the stump of his missing arm before he set about creating weapons for the rest.

Killing Uzumaki was no longer an option.

He knew he couldn't.

All he hoped to do, was to delay the Konoha Nin, and again, hope that someone came to back him up.

X—X—X—X—X

Uchiha Itachi took a deep but hidden breath once he had brought Kisame to his sword.

The vital signs were very weak, and Itachi himself was not sure whether Samehada would be able to save him, nor if it would choose to.

The sword had a voracious appetite for chakra, and only allowed those with enough strength and chakra to wield it.

That meant that the sword could possibly reject Kisame as its owner, knowing that he had been beaten by someone else, quite easily at that.

But they had already merged, and now, there was nothing that Itachi himself could do for Kisame.

He turned around to face Jiraiya, the Sannin very much different from what Itachi was used to seeing.

"You have surprised me, Jiraiya-sama. I never expected you to be this strong."

"Didn't your Sensei ever tell you that true strength comes when you protect those dear to you?"

"My sensei wasn't much of a talker."

Jiraiya laughed at the rebuttal.

Itachi thought about his options.

He could drop the barrier, let Jiraiya go free, but Itachi had no clue what would happen afterwards.

In the best case, Jiraiya would leave, but that left a lot to be desired as well.

For One, Itachi did not know what would happen next.

If Jiraiya had been strong enough to take down Orochimaru and Kisame, then he would be strong enough for everyone except maybe, Pain.

That also gave the Sannin time to go back to Konoha and train Naruto, who, with the power and training Jiraiya could give him within one more year, would be too strong for Akatsuki to handle at all.

There was also the possibility that Jiraiya could still attack him, even after he had dropped the barrier.

Orochimaru was as good as dead, Kisame would be of no help for at least months and that left Itachi weak and without any back up.

Yes.

Jiraiya would attack him.

They had come for him once, and if Jiraiya let Itachi go, then Itachi would come back again for him.

There was no way that one of the Sannin would let a missing Nin go, especially one they had on the back foot.

No, dropping the barrier was not an option.

Yes, it would drop if Itachi died, but until he did, it would limit Jiraiya's movements, his range of available battlefields.

That, could prove vital to Itachi's chances of winning this fight.

Jiraiya's ace was strong, and it seemed like it was nowhere near running out.

But, Itachi also had an ace.

An ace that he had refrained from using, not because Jiraiya wasn't worth it.

But because using it, meant that they couldn't recover Jiraiya's body for Zetsu to analyze.

But here he was, alone, facing one of the, if not, the strongest of the Sannin alone and Itachi found no option but to use his trump card.

One that would hurt a lot afterwards, but one that could possibly win him the battle none the less.

X—X—X—X—X

Jiraiya watched the thoughts travel through Itachi's mind, wondering what was so major that it was troubling a man at Itachi's level.

He thought to make a joke, and ask if he could help, but the sudden determination on Itachi's face told Jiraiya that the Uchiha had made up his mind.

"Gomen, Jiraiya-sama. It seems you have forced my hand."

The Sannin barely moved the focus of his eyes to the bridge of Itachi's nose before the pair of Sharingan eyes he had been staring into evolved into their superior form, the Mangekyou, a dark skeletal shroud covering the man in front of him, from head to toe.

So this was the legendary Susanoo, he thought.

Mighty.

"Jiraiya-chan."

Fukasaku's voice, and a finger pointed him towards the sword the shroud was wielding, and Jiraiya's breath hitched in his throat.

"The Sword of Totsuka."

"As expected, Jiraiya-sama, nothing gets by you."

Jiraiya frowned inwardly, knowing that things had gone from worse, to worst, with the usage of this jutsu.

The Sword of Totsuka was no ordinary sword.

It was an artifact from the age of the Sage, a sword that sealed everything that it pierced, one that would seal him the moment it touched him.

He glanced at the toads on his shoulders.

If they were sealed, which he knew they could be, then it was game over for the whole world.

Naruto would not get the Senjutsu training, and would not get the boost he needed.

Yet, Jiraiya knew that he himself would not survive, especially against the Susanoo, without the two of them gathering natural energy.

The decision was easy.

He was dead anyways.

Even if he lived past this battle, they would never stop coming for him, and would only send stronger opponents.

Letting out an audible sigh, he turned his head to a side and told them the exact thing he had told Naruto, not too long ago.

"Go."

This time, however, silence reigned, as both toads understood exactly what Jiraiya meant.

"We'll miss you." Came Shima's voice, the sadness evident.

"Give the gaki my love."

Jiraiya felt the Natural energy flow out of him once the merge was cancelled, his warts disappearing and nose going back to its previous size as he was pulled out of Senjutsu mode.

Twin puffs of smoke signaled the dispel of the summons and the toad Sannin found relief in the knowledge that they had gotten away safely.

All was not lost, and at least now, Naruto stood a better chance than he would have.

Bringing his focus back on to the man before him, Jiraiya spoke, cracking his knuckles for emphasis and a little bit of mind games.

"Well then Itachi-kun. Shall we finish this?"

Uchiha Itachi hesitated for a second before he nodded, pushing off the ground, dashing towards Jiraiya.

The toad Sannin mirrored the Uchiha's move, rushing in towards what he was now sure would be the last few minutes of his life.

X—X—X—X—X

Kidoumaru of the Sound stood inside the clearing that Naruto had made, barely.

Two of his remaining five arms were broken, the first taken by a blade of wind that took many a tree with it, a third hung limp at his side and the pain running through his left leg was preventing him from moving at all.

The sound Nin struggled to lift his two usable arms, but failed to find the strength to do so.

"How?" He breathed, his voice hoarse, little strength left in it, whatever strength he had used just to stand upright.

Uzumaki Naruto gave the Sound Nin a sad smile as a blue ball of chakra appeared in his right hand.

"If I don't kill you now, then you'll come for me again, and next time, you may not come for just me."

The blond was gone before Kidoumaru could utter another word, no doubt dashing towards him to finish the job.

Kidoumaru pumped whatever little chakra he had into his pores, generating the gold liquid that he did, trying to encase himself in a protective shell.

But much like Tayuya, he only saw the blades of wind that surrounded the Rasengan only when they cut through the armor, a little too late to dodge, not that he could have.

For the second time that very day, the Rasenshuriken found a victim, grinding another head into bits and pieces, memories that would forever stay with its user.

A flicker of light to the side alerted Uzumaki Naruto to the dropping of the barrier he had run away from and the pain of loss flashed through his body much like it had the whole day.

Jiraiya was dead and this time, he was sure of it.

Turning towards Konoha, the son of Namikaze Minato, second apprentice to the Sannin Jiraiya, used up the last of his chakra in the race to get back to the village, the pain of his loss, still fresh in his heart.

X—X—X—X—X

And as always.

Please.

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