Pairings: Madara/Sayo. Sakumo/Sakura. Slight Aoi/Takara

Warnings: AU Universe. Slight Konoha bashing. Dark fic. Violence. Blood. Gory scenes. Lemon scenes

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and any of the characters, but the OC characters belongs to me

Chapter Thirty Eight: To Be Human

"There are things out there that people go through that are worse than death. They think that when they die, they'll be set free from everything." - Uchiha Sayo


Three months after the fall of the Dragonfly Village and two months after Sayo, Seina and Madara have chanced upon the resting place of Toshigaki Rie found the situation of the world taking a turn for the worse.

Reports from all over have been coming in by the dozen to the Six Powers that the various Jinchuurikis have found themselves a target by the Raven's Gate organisation. As majority of the world sees Jinchuurikis as nothing more than demons or monsters—and with the world now currently plagued by demon attacks, the Jinchuurikis suddenly found themselves on their own when Raven's Gate started knocking on their door.

The only exception to that had been the attack on the Kazekage of the Sand, when all of Sand band together to try to repel the intruders. They failed trying to repel the intruders, and the Kazekage—Sabaku no Gaara, had gotten himself kidnapped, with his elder brother poisoned with a type of poison that had never been seen before.

As Tsuki was tied up with dealing with five simultaneous demon attacks near their borders at that point in time, they weren't able to send aid, and thus, Konoha had sent a team to Sand to deal with the kidnapping of the Kazekage. A team consisting of Namikaze Takara, Katou-Senju Aoi, Hatake Kakashi and Namikaze-Uzumaki Kushina had been sent.

The Yondaime Hokage had sent a letter to Tsuki a week after the mission had concluded, informing Tsuki what had later transpired during that mission.

The poison that the Kazekage's brother had been poisoned with had even the best of Suna's poison specialists and medics baffled, including the Sand elders, Chiyo and Ebizo. Had it not been for the timely arrival of Katou-Senju Aoi, one of Konoha's best medics at this point in time, thanks to his mother's tutelage, Sabaku no Kankuro would have died.

Following that, the Konoha team, along with the addition of Lady Chiyo had taken to pursuing the tracks of the nin that had kidnapped Sabaku no Gaara, with the Hokage sending out Team Gai as backup. To undo the seal that would allow them to reach the Raven's Gate member and the Kazekage however, Team Gai have separated in order to tear off the paper seals at the same time which unfortunately delayed them, as each member ended up having to fight their own doppelganger. This results in Team Kakashi and Kushina having to take on Akasuna no Sasori on their own.

It had been a long and hard battle, as the redhead isn't a member of that notorious organisation for nothing, but Konoha had emerged victorious, though Gaara had lost his tailed beast to Raven's Gate. Chiyo had ended up having to use a forbidden technique to exchange her own life for Gaara's own.

And now, nearly a month after Gaara had miraculously escaped death, Tsuki had gotten some sombre news.

"Hidan and Kakuzu, huh?" Madara mused, mulling over what his wife had just told him, Zabuza and Seina.

"By the looks of things, they're starting on whatever plan that they now have in mind." Seina added. "The time with Sasori set aside—Konoha has problems dealing with one man even with five of them fighting him. If we ever decide to go after Kakuzu and Hidan, we'll be dealing with two of them at the same time. It isn't good odds."

"Regardless, we can't let a chance like this slip by." Zabuza said with a frown. "But what are they doing, heading towards the land of Fire?"

For a moment, no one spoke until Madara and Sayo exchanged looks. "My guess is that Kakuzu is heading for the bounty station in Fire Country." Sayo said at last. "There is at least one in every nation save for Tsuki and Ame—reserved for the outlaws to collect bounties by killing ninjas or samurais of prominent names. And last that I'd heard, the Fire Temple was attacked about a week ago."

"One of the 12 Fire Guardians then." Madara sighed. A member of the 12 Fire Guardians—the personal bodyguards of the Daimyo of Fire himself is like how the Akatsuki is to Tsuki. "Is Konoha doing anything? And do they even know about this?"

"Yeah. When the Fire Temple was attacked, the Hokage sent a team to investigate. And I'll be very surprised if they couldn't manage to track down the pair that had attacked the Fire Temple." Sayo said albeit sarcastically. "From what I know, a jounin and three chuunins were sent – former Fire Guardian, Sarutobi Asuma; Nara Shika, Hagane Kotetsu and Kamizuki Izumo."

"I've heard of the first two." Zabuza said slowly. "Sarutobi Asuma is a pretty powerful ninja in his own right. And that Nara kid had been getting a bit of a title to his name in recent years, especially after his showing at the chuunin exams. But the other two… I'm afraid that I hadn't heard of them before."

"Even still, a team like that is only going to get themselves killed going against Hidan and Kakuzu." Seina said with a frown. "It is never a good idea to engage in close ranged battle with those two, which if I'm not mistaken, is Sarutobi Asuma's speciality. Engaging in close combat is akin to suicide."

Madara nodded at that. As one of the 12 Fire Guardians, Sarutobi Asuma had some sort of reputation as well, especially with his contribution during the last ninja war. He then frowned to himself. Honestly speaking, as those two are in Fire Country, they have no jurisdiction.

And then again, only himself and his wife knew what those two are capable of. Those two have lived for nearly as long as he and Sayo did after all. They have fought them more than once. And if those Konoha ninjas fight them without knowing what they're capable of… Well…

Madara sure doesn't want their deaths on his hands.

"Damn it, I know that I'm going to regret this later." Madara grumbled, and the remaining occupants in the room exchanged amused looks. For all his grumbling and cussing of Konoha, everyone in Tsuki knew that their kage isn't a heartless man—contrary to the image that Konoha has of the famous Uchiha, and he isn't one to leave someone to die if he could help it. "Sayo, assemble a team." He told his wife who nodded. Apart from Madara, Sayo is the only other living person who knew what Kakuzu and Hidan are capable of. "I'm sending you out."

"Okay. Seina, I want you on this. Gear up." Sayo told Seina who nodded, and the latter immediately started to mentally calculate what type of equipment that she needs on this mission, and what she has to pack. "Zabuza, get your old team. I need them on this too."

Zabuza nodded. He knew that his former students are currently all in the village, as they've just been on a mission the day before yesterday, and are still resting up from it. And as their former teacher, he knew where they would go to relax.

"Should we get Itachi on this?" Zabuza asked, suddenly recalling that he hasn't seen the Uchiha youth for a few days now, and he could usually be seen around the village in the village shop stocking up on his stash of Pocky, or even teaching the younger kids. For all his aloof personality, Uchiha Itachi attracts kids like bees to honey.

Madara, Seina and Sayo exchanged looks. "Don't worry about him." Madara said at last. "I sent him on a job."

Seina frowned at her brother-in-law. "About…'that'?" she asked mysteriously, and Madara nodded.

"Okay. We're moving out in an hour." Sayo interrupted before Zabuza could ask any further questions. "We're meeting at the portal gates. Let's go."

"Be careful, all of you."


The group of Konoha ninjas studied the man sitting just in front of the bathroom quietly. Their intel had told them that the 'bathroom' is really the entrance to one of the bounty stations for outlaws, and for good reason. After all, who would think that the entrance to the bounty station is in a bathroom?

"Black cloak and a silver raven chain. That's him." Kamizuki Izumo noted, studying the man from head to foot. "A member of Raven's Gate."

"Where's the other?" Nara Shika wondered. "From what Tsuki had told us, this guy has a partner. The one who had invaded Konoha three years ago."

"He'll appear soon enough." Kotetsu nodded. "It will be a pretty nice present for Tsuki if we can get the both of them."

"All right." Sarutobi Asuma nodded, readying his trench knives. These guys are dangerous, that had been what their Hokage had warned them when he had heard about the Fire Temple being attacked by a pair of guys in black cloaks with silver raven chains. They have to go on the offensive right from the start. "It's show time."


Hidan grumbled and cussed beneath his breath as he waited at the entrance of the 'bathroom' for his partner to finish doing his business. And this time, he really meant business. He wondered for the hundredth time what Hiore had against him that he paired him up with a guy as money minded and selfish as him. And come to think of it, why are the two of them the only ones who work with partners anyway? The other three worked alone.

And then again, it is probably because of Sasori's recent demise that Hiore had insisted on the both of them working together. Zeref don't even need a partner, as you'll be considered crazy or suicidal if you ever decide to fight him. Even as much as Kakuzu or Hidan prided themselves on their immortality, not even they would dare to fight a Tatsuyama. As for Hiore, don't even go there.

And because of Sasori's recent demise, Hirore had recently announced that he'd be getting that guy to take Sasori's place.

The sounds of light footsteps reach Hidan's ears just then, and he grumbled. "Took you long enough, Kakuzu. What the hell were you doing in there—"

His eyes then widened slightly in realisation as he then realised that the newcomer was not his partner, and he immediately leapt backwards with his scythe even as several shurikens came flying towards his direction. Hidan was quick to swing his scythe, thus deflecting every single one of the shurikens.

But it was too quick to relax, as right on cue, Sarutobi Asuma came flying towards him, his trench knives in each hand. The former Fire Guardian was quick to dodge out of the way of Hidan's scythe even as Izumo and Kotetsu came towards the S-class criminal with their own weapons.

"Where did all of you come from?" Hidan demanded even as he got ready to swing his scythe to cut off their fucking heads, but then froze, as he then realised that he can't move.

And then, he saw it. A long shadow stretching from his feet towards the roof of the now demolished building of the bounty station where a teenager of about fifteen was sitting, dressed in the standard chuunin green vest, his hands locked in a hand seal.

"Shadow Possession, successful." Nara Shika grinned triumphantly at Hidan's enraged expression.

"Nice, Shika!" Asuma grinned. "Izumo! Kotetsu! Now!"

"Roger!" The two best friends grinned even as they raised their weapons, and as one, slashed Hidan across two of his vital spots, also tearing the black cloak that he had been wearing at the same time. "That's one down."

"Where's the other?" Izumo wondered, not realising the danger that he and his partner is in.

Shika was the first one to notice the danger. The chuunin's eyes widened in horror, releasing his technique in his shock. "Izumo! Kotetsu! Get out of the way!"


It was then that the two chuunins realised what is wrong. Despite the fact that they've clearly 'killed' Hidan and that he should be dead, the guy is still standing on his feet, scowling fiercely at them. "Ow! Oi, that hurts, damn it! What the hell is wrong with you?"

"What's going on?" Kotetsu was confused, bewildered and horrified all in one. "We killed him!"

"Stop moving, damn it!" Hidan complained. "That hurts!"

"What the…?" Asuma was taken aback. "What…is going on?"

Then, Asuma remembered what the Hokage had told every single jounin in Konoha during that emergency meeting that he had called three years ago when he had briefed them about the Raven's Gate organisation, and what they knew thus far from Tsuki.

"They're all immortal, or at the very least, extremely difficult to kill."

"Oh dear god…" Asuma muttered, looking at Hidan in horror. "I'd almost forgotten. He's immortal!"

"Geez, what gives it away?" Hidan said sarcastically even as he yanked Izumo and Kotetsu's weapons out of his person, ignoring it even as blood gushed out of his open wounds like a river, thus staining his cloak red. "Who the hell are you?" Even as he asked them that question, Hidan then spotted the Fire Guardian sash that Asuma had been wearing, and he groaned to himself, knowing quite well that his partner will want to claim the bounty on this guy, and that means walking into that hellhole of a place once more. "You've got to be kidding me! I'm going to have to go inside that place again?"

"We're ninjas from Konoha." Asuma said warily, keeping an eye on Hidan. "Like with all members of your organisation, there is a kill-on-sight order for you. We were told to carry that out. But seriously…" He steadied his trench knives. "Somehow, I've got a feeling that you're not going to make this easy on us."

Hidan grinned evilly even as he readied his scythe. "You got that right," he said. "And once Kakuzu gets here, you won't be walking away alive. Any of you."

There was a loud sound of something collapsing just then, and Shika's loud cussing—a first for the usually lazy ninja. The three older Konoha ninjas then turned around just in time to see that whatever remains of the building that Shika had been sitting on had collapsed all of a sudden, with dust kicking up everywhere. And when it had cleared, to their bewilderment, a confused Nara Shika was somehow on his knees on the ground, covered in dust, but otherwise safe and alive. And standing protectively in front of the Konoha chuunin was Uchiha Sayo who had stopped Kakuzu's fist with the palm of her right hand. And she looked pissed.

There were light sounds of feet landing on ground just then, and the other four in the area turned only to see five Tsuki ninjas standing in front of them, their faces grim.

"It's been a long time, Kakuzu." Uchiha Sayo said stoically, and the mentioned ninja leapt backwards immediately, keeping a certain distance between himself and the redhead. Any ninja worth their salt will know better than to engage in close combat with a seals master.

"By the fact that you're here, am I to assume that you're our allies in this?" Asuma asked, glancing at Sayo warily. Despite the fact that he knew Tsuki isn't their enemy and all, it is still a little unnerving to see someone whom he knew had lived well over eighty years ago still looking like she's in her teens, and standing in front of him.

"We're not your allies." Sayo said simply, drawing out a kunai, and ignoring the brief looks of shock on the faces of the Konoha ninjas. She then glanced at Asuma out of the corner of her eye. "But just this once, I'm not against you. You Konoha ninjas back us up. We'll handle them."

Like all jounins in Konoha, Asuma knew that most of their intel regarding Raven's Gate had came from Tsuki, and thus, out of the entire world, they are the ones with the most knowledge on what that accursed organisation is capable of, and what they could do. Thus, the jounin nodded immediately. After all, by the looks of that dangerous looking scythe, it is best if he don't get in close combat, which unfortunately, is his speciality.

And unfortunately, Kotetsu and Izumo seemed to have second thoughts about that strategy.

"Are you sure? I mean, there are two of them." Kotetsu said in concern.

Uchiha Seina looked annoyed. "Are you underestimating us?" she said dangerously, and Kotetsu gulped. "Don't worry about it. We'll be fine."

"I see some pretty nostalgic faces here." Kakuzu stated, looking from Sayo to Seina and back again. "All that it needs is Uchiha Madara and Izuna, and the Golden Four from the time of the shinobi clan wars will be complete." Angry scowls adorned the faces of Seina and Sayo. Kakuzu then caught sight of Asuma and his Fire Guardian sash, and a thin smirk appeared on his face. "A former Fire Guardian? I see that the lure of money has gotten you in for once, Hidan."

Sayo frowned, studying the two Raven's Gate members in front of her. Out of everyone, she knew more about that organisation than anyone else, and knew how to handle them. Kakuzu, she has fought before—once back during the time of the shinobi clan wars. Madara had fought him three years ago during the Konoha invasion, and he had told her how the battle had transpired. Thus, she more or less knows what he's capable of. But she also knew that Kakuzu wouldn't have shown all his tricks, and would have come up with new ones. And his partner…

"All right. Seina and Kyo. You're both with me. I'm handling Kakuzu." Sayo said curtly. "The rest of you, his partner. And don't let down your guard."

"Roger." Zabuza nodded. "Rihan and Haku. Defensive formation." He ordered, readying his sword. "As for you Konoha guys, I don't really care what you do, and who you are going to back up. Just don't get in our way, and don't underestimate them just because we have numbers on our side. You'll get yourselves killed." He warned.

"Like you could kill us." Hidan scoffed before drawing a symbol on the ground with the blood on his person and clothes.

"Hidan, don't underestimate them." Kakuzu warned, one eye on Sayo.

"Relax. We'll be done in a minute." Hidan reassured, finishing his 'art', which seems to be that of some sort of seal—a circle with a triangle inside of it.

Sayo's eyes twitched slightly. He did not just… He did. Oh, it is on.

"What's that?" Rihan frowned, eyeing the seal on the ground carefully. It doesn't seem like any seal that he had learned, and he had never seen anything like it before. "Is that some sort of seal?"

"Don't get yourself cut by his scythe." Sayo warned them without looking away from Kakuzu. "Once he obtains a sample of your blood, any damage that he sustained whilst inside that circle will also be done to you."

Kakuzu narrowed his eyes. "…I see. I had wondered for some time now why the several ninja nations seemed to know so much about us, particularly Konoha and Suna. Now I see why. You're the reason." He scowled.

It doesn't make sense how she knew what Hidan's circle could do however. Not even he knew until Hidan had told him when they were told by Hiore to pair up. It could be that being as much a master in seals as Uchiha Sayo is until more than half of the seals ever known in seal studies today had been created by her, she will know what the circle of Hidan's could do.

"Nearly eighty years ago, we once faced in battle, Uchiha Sayo. And then I faced your husband in battle again three years ago. Each time, none of us won. This time, you won't be walking away alive." Kakuzu proclaimed. "I will have your head."

For several moments, no one moved. Sayo exchanged looks with Seina who nodded silently, fingering her own knuckle knives. Having been in as many fights as they have, both women have worked together often, and knew what the other want even without having the need to speak. There is a reason why Kakuzu had dubbed them the 'Golden Four'. As much as how cheesy it actually sounds, that title kind of fits the four most powerful Uchihas in their generation back then.

And then, even as a leaf from a nearby branch fell and touched the ground, that was when they moved, and the battle began.

Sayo was the first to move, moving faster than is humanely possible, pulling out another kunai from her pouch in her free hand and sending wind chakra through the two kunais, even as she kept her eyes on Kakuzu, particularly on his hands and feet. Sayo swiped one of the kunais at Kakuzu's face, only to have him lean backwards, with the sharp edge of the kunai missing him by several inches. The man then raised an eyebrow at the small smirk on Sayo's face before a deep cut then appeared on his cheek.

The beautiful thing about wind chakra that had been imbued in weapons is that it is not visible to the eye, and had the ability to extend the reach of weapons. Hence why Rihan who is one of the few in Tsuki that possesses wind chakra is absolutely delighted when he learnt that he has wind nature, as coupled with his fighting style, that couldn't be more suitable for him. Wind is the battle element for a reason after all.

From behind Kakuzu, Seina was approaching him, with her knuckle knives in both hands, ready to dive into one of his masks on his back. Despite how he looks, he is still someone who had nearly a century's worth of battle experience on his hands—just like Seina and Sayo, and he immediately leapt out of the reach of both their weapons, only to miss seeing Tatsuyama Kyo standing behind him. The blonde had an almost evil grin on his face even as he twitched his fingers, and one of the masks on Kakuzu's back eroded and dispersed.

Kakuzu glared at Kyo even as he leapt to a safe place, and Sayo had a small smirk on her face. "You were saying, Kakuzu?" she almost mocked, and he glared.

With Hidan however, the man is considerably having more problems with his opponents, seeing as he is dealing with about more than half the number of nins as compared to his partner.

Even from the time when they were genins, just fresh out of the Academy, Zabuza had always made sure to train his team on their speed first of all, ensuring that they could easily outrun most seasoned jounins should something go wrong. That speed had also shown in the way that they fight, and it is obvious that Team Zabuza is used to fighting together as a team, even as much as they're powerful as individuals.

When one attacks and leaps away before the scythe could cut them, a second will be waiting to aim for Hidan's blind spot, with the third blocking the scythe for the second. And with the large and bulky scythe, there is no way that Hidan could use it to match their speed. And it didn't help matters that Zabuza had summoned a huge tsunami at the beginning of their battle, thus washing the circle away, and preventing Hidan from creating another one.

"Now I see why everyone fears Tsuki-nins so." Hidan hissed, almost glaring venomously at Zabuza. "You're good. And are you sure that those two are new Jounins? They're a bit too good for that."

"I trained them well." Zabuza said with a proud smile. "And someday, they're going to surpass me, and be the best ninjas in all the land." He said the same thing that he had said to nearly every single person who cared to listen when his entire team had made jounin nearly a year and a half ago.

A few years back, Zabuza would never dream that he would be saying this. But now, he can honestly say that he is really proud of his team, seeing them as the children that he never had. He could never thank Tsukikage-sama enough for forcing his team on him about three years ago. And to think that at the beginning, he never wanted them to begin with.

With Kakuzu, he is slowly getting frustrated, as neither Seina nor Sayo ever stay still in one place long enough for him to even land a hit. And getting close to that Tatsuyama kid is considered suicidal, even for him. He then gasped as he felt another one of his masks giving way and shattering, and looked over his shoulder only to see Uchiha Seina with a chakra imbued hand striking at the mask before leaping away once more.

'Two down. Three to go.' Sayo thought to herself, glancing towards Hidan's direction only to see that Zabuza and the other two were doing pretty well on their own.

Truthfully, they don't really need the Konoha ninjas at all. And for once, those Konoha ninjas knew better than to step into their battle, as they'll only be more hindrance than help.

"You're joking, right?" Kotetsu muttered, seeing the fast paced battle in front of him, and suddenly feeling very inferior to the three young Tsuki jounins in front of him. Those three are less than half his age, and yet, stronger than him. What the hell had he been doing up until now?

"They're strong." Shika said with interest. "They're stronger than they were at the chuunin exams three years ago."

"This is annoying!" Hidan roared, waving his scythe around his head dangerously only to have it blocked by Zabuza's giant ass sword.

"Would you mind stop doing that? It's dangerous." Zabuza looked annoyed before he leapt out of the way before Hidan could cut his head off.

"I'll show you dangerous, you—"

"Even if you're supposedly immortal, if we destroy the masks that you have, you can die, won't you?" Sayo told Kakuzu. "And your partner. It is true that we hadn't yet figured out a way to actually kill him yet, but I wonder… If he can still manage to survive if his body rots away."

Kakuzu frowned. "I've been wondering this for some time now," he said. "Even if you are an expert in information gathering, how do you know so much about Raven's Gate? It is true that you've fought me before, so you have some idea of my abilities. But Hidan and even Sasori… How is it that you know what they can do, and how to fight them?" He narrowed his eyes. "Is it Zeref?"

"…I wonder?" Sayo smiled mysteriously. "It is true, what you've once said before. Ninjas are masters of deceit. There is no one better than a ninja when it comes to betrayal. We are pros at that. But you should apply that same thinking to yourself. In the world of the ninja, you can't trust anyone."

"So it really is Zeref!" Kakuzu snarled. "I'm going to kill that bastard!"

"You're wrong." Seina spoke from beside Sayo. "It wasn't from him that we got all this information."


"Tell me, Kakuzu. How do Raven's Gate even knew when to kidnap the Kazekage at a time when Tsuki is tied up, and thus, unable to send Suna aid? Who gave you that info?" Sayo asked with a cold smile, and Kakuzu's eyes widened in realisation.

"It can't be—"

Blood spurt out from his lips even as Kakuzu turned and glared at the person standing behind him, one hand deep into the third mask, thus shattering it. Uchiha Itachi stared emotionlessly back at him.

"Itachi… You traitor…"

Itachi stepped back from Kakuzu and stood by Kyo's side. "To be a traitor means that I have to first be loyal to you." Itachi almost spat. "Right from the start, I've never trusted you! I will rather die than sell out the only family I have left who actually treated me as family than a tool!"

"I see." Madara frowned even as he listened to what Itachi has to tell him, Sayo and Seina—with all four Uchihas now still in the Tsukikage's office at two in the morning.

Itachi had returned to Tsuki in a panic nearly an hour ago, almost stumbling out of the portals that allow people to leave and enter Tsuki as long as their chakra is keyed into the system. One of the guards guarding the portals have been concerned, and had taken Itachi to Madara who is fortunately still in his office with Sayo and Seina—all three going over the latest report of some high class mission.

"I thought that he would approach you sooner or later. I just didn't expect for him to come up with an offer like this." Sayo looked almost amused. "If total revival is possible, we would already have done it a long time ago."

"Should I just ignore him?" Itachi asked.

"No, I've got a better idea." Madara smirked. "Itachi, I want you to tell Kakuzu that you accept his offer."


"You want him to play double agent?" Seina was the first one to break the silence. "That's too dangerous! Even if it is Raven's Gate…"

"I agree with Madara." Sayo said after a moment. Before Seina could protest, Sayo put up a hand to stop her tirade. "Seina, listen to me for a moment. You know that gaining information on Raven's Gate is an almost impossible task. They're a dangerous group. And we don't have much time as it is. You know that. And now, an opportunity to get intel on the inside had just presented itself to us. I say that we take that opportunity."

Seina was silent. She knew that Sayo is right. "But won't they be suspicious if we knew their movements a little too well?" she asked. "Hiore isn't stupid."

"I know. That's why we're going to be using a few distractions here and there." Sayo said simply. "We'll let Itachi give some intel on our side to Kakuzu. Intel that we can afford to give. That'll gain him Kakuzu's trust. And unfortunately, it might put Zeref on the radar for awhile, as Hiore knew that we were friends. And then, we have to bide for time. And once the time comes, we strike back."

"That damned woman…" Kakuzu gritted his teeth, glaring at a smirking Sayo. "I should have known… A plan like that… Only you could have come up with something like this!"

"You've lost right from the beginning when you decide to go against Sayo." Seina said. "She isn't known as the legendary tactician for nothing. You've been in over your head right from the start. We will never be beaten. Not by someone like you."

"Damn you!"

As one, the four Tsuki ninjas leapt backwards immediately as a single black creature detached from Kakuzu's back, slowly standing up as hulking black masses that looks suspiciously like some of those demons that have been giving them so much trouble of late.

It actually helps that Madara and Sayo already knew what Kakuzu could do, but Itachi had filled in the rest of the blanks for them when he had told them everything that he knew about Raven's Gate and their abilities. Itachi had still been a ninja, and he excels in information gathering, even though that information hadn't been easy to gain. And honestly, Sayo has no idea how Itachi had even came across that bit of information, though she had a feeling that Zeref had something to do with it.

The masks on Kakuzu's back are his hearts. He had five of them, four of which turn into these black masses, each wielding the respective element of the person whose heart that he had stolen, with the fifth heart staying in Kakuzu's body. Hence, to kill him entirely, they have to take out all five hearts.

And they've already taken out three hearts, which means that there are two more to go.

"Kyo, we can handle this on our own. Help Zabuza with his opponent. He will need you more." Seina told the blonde who nodded and shunpoed away.

"All right. I'll deal with Kakuzu. Seina and Itachi, deal with that…thing." Sayo said, unsheathing her sword for the first time that battle, and giving it a few quick swings with her left hand. "It's wind element, so fire can beat it."

Not even stopping to ask how Sayo even knew that, both Seina and Itachi nodded and turned their attention onto the black mass that had just started howling.

Sayo frowned as her sword stopped a few inches above where Kakuzu's fifth heart would have been, being stopped by some of those…black tendril…things? Sayo has no idea how to describe it.

But seriously… Looking at Kakuzu now, he seems more demon than human, and knowing what Raven's Gate is capable of, and what they're planning at least, it seems almost ironic. Even when she'd first faced Kakuzu all those years ago back in Shometsu Village, it might be almost impossible to kill him then, but at the very least, he is still human.

Even so… Was he this weak before? Or even this slow?

Sayo has no problems with following his speed, and she could already have killed him about a hundred different ways had it not been for that 'defence' of his, or even his hearts. Did being an 'immortal' of sorts caused him to become complacent about his own skills, and think himself invincible? Now, why did that sound so familiar?

"I hope sincerely for your sake that you're joking around, Kakuzu. I don't recall you being this weak before. Back during our fight at Shometsu Village, even back then, you gave us more trouble than this." Sayo frowned.

Did losing three out of his five hearts weaken him so? She distinctly recalls Madara telling her about his battle with Kakuzu during the invasion of Konoha. Even if he did have some assistance in the forms of the Yondaime Hokage and his wife, Madara had to go a little serious on him at that time, though he was restricted with pulling out his best moves because of the concern that he might pull in some innocent people into the crossfire.

Even back then, Kakuzu was more powerful than he is now.

"Whatever." Kakuzu didn't seem to be bothered by Sayo's words indicating that he had grown weak. "I can see now why Hiore and even that bastard Zeref respected you and Madara, and your skills. Hiore said that you're a threat to us. I can tell when I'm outmatched, but unfortunately for you, I'm not dying here to—"

Faster than Kakuzu even thought possible, Sayo didn't even wait for him to finish his sentence, but was quick to take advantage of his distraction as she lashed forward with her sword, imbuing it with wind chakra at its sharpest and finest, thus allowing the sword to sail forward and sink into his chest and through his heart like butter.

And over with Seina and Itachi, they have just finished destroying the fourth heart at almost the same time when Sayo had stabbed Kakuzu's fifth heart.

All five hearts have been destroyed.

With a gasp, Kakuzu stumbled backwards, fear reflecting in his eyes for the first time in decades ever since he'd attained immortality with that ritual, and he then recalled for the first time ever since he had been a young man, just how afraid he is to die, and the reason why he'd even attempted the forbidden technique.

"To think…that I'll be beaten here." Kakuzu rasped, desperately trying to gather the air in his lungs. "And…by someone like you…"

Sayo cleaned her sword with the sleeve of her shirt before she turned to look at the dying man. "You and me both are from the time of the shinobi clan wars—an era in history that is so violent that the wars and battles raged back then is akin to a battle fought in hell," she said nonchalantly. "Thus, it almost seems fit that someone from that time should end your life. Our time in this world is soon over, Kakuzu. It is time for the young generation to take over. The future of the ninja nations will lie in their hands. There are things out there that people go through that are worse than death. They think that when they die, they'll be set free from everything. And that fear of death is your undoing, Kakuzu."

Kakuzu then fell backwards almost in slow motion, his back colliding with that of the ground. He never moved again.

Over with Hidan, Zabuza glanced over at Kakuzu and the three who were engaged in battle with him, and he smirked. "They're done over there. Guess it's time for us to clean up too," he stated before he sent his water nature chakra through his sword, making it lighter than it really is, and he then swung at Hidan's scythe, forcing it down to the ground, and trapping it beneath his sword.

"You're every bit as tough as they said that you are." Zabuza told the enraged Hidan. "And you're right in a way that we can't truly kill you, as even decapitation doesn't seem to work. But I wonder… If you can still somehow manage to survive even without a body?" He smirked.

Hidan's eyes widened slightly in horror before he then gasped, and gurgled. He turned his head slightly towards the side only to see Tatsuyama Kyo standing there with an emotionless look on his face, grasping hold of Hidan's hand.

And then… It begun.

And now, Hidan understood why the Tsuki jounins have brought this boy along. He is the one assigned to end his life, with his abilities as a member of the Tatsuyama clan, the clan that resides over Life and Death.

For as long as he had lived, Hidan is no stranger to pain. In fact, he revels in it, as pain represents his faith to Jashin. But this pain… He has never felt anything like it before. It almost felt like something is eating at him from the inside out, and when he fell to the ground, groaning in pain, he then realised to his horror that his legs are gone, and already flaking into dust.

So this is a Tatsuyama's power…

Zeref had never used his power in front of them before, and Hidan can now understand why Hiore had warned them to be careful of the Tatsuyama clan. Not even they who prided themselves as immortals are immune to their abilities.

"Damn…you…" Hidan growled, with more than half of his body gone now. "I'll kill you, you hear me? I'll fucking kill you!"

"Good luck with that." Rihan said simply.

"Damn it! I'm immortal! I've pledged my allegiance to Jashin-sama! He would never—"

No one managed to hear what he has to say, as the rest of Hidan's body then turned to dust, leaving him as nothing but a pile of ashes on the ground.

There was silence for several moments then before Sayo sighed, sheathing her sword and turning her eyes skywards. "Sasori, Hidan and Kakuzu," she said simply, ticking the names off on her fingers. "And if what Zeref said is true, and that Hiore had added someone else into their ranks after Sasori's death, then… There are two more we have to worry about."


A flame flickered and died, thus leaving the chamber partially in darkness, and Toshigaki Hiore said nothing for several moments even as he eyed the candle whose flame had just gone out mere moments ago.

"Sasori, Hidan and Kakuzu," he said nonchalantly, not seeming very upset at all that nearly half of his Inner Circle had just been taken out. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised, knowing what they're capable of. But…" He then closed and opened his eyes before turning his attention towards a shadowed part of the chamber where a figure could just be vaguely seen. "You're up next." He told the figure who nodded silently without saying anything. "It is time for Raven's Gate to start coming out into the open. And who better to start this party than you, Uchiha Izuna?"

A/N: I guess this marks my first update for the new year! It might be a little late, but Happy New Year, everyone! And my sincerest apologies for the late update! Anyway, I hope that you like this chapter, and please read and review! Reviews give me inspiration to update!