LND 20

(Battle field)

"Nice save Shino." Naruto commented as team eight stood behind the giant earth wall Shino had erected to protect them from the fiery explosion of their opponent. Shino gave a short nod as they heard Deidara shouting at his partner.

"You idiot! Warn me before you do that. You almost hit me!" the bomb expert shouted in anger. Deidara never thought he'd miss Sasori and his inability to recognize true art but at least Sasori didn't try to kill him every few minutes.

"Hinata-chan are you sure about this?" Naruto asked his teammate.

"Hai. It's the best solution." She replied as Shino let the earth wall fall.

Hinata immediately brought forth her angelic chakra and formed her bow. She shot a chakra arrow at Deidara's head only for the blond to avoid the strike.

"Close but not close enough girl!" Deidara said as he opened his hands and revealed two clay birds. The small projectiles flew towards Hinata before a blast of fire destroyed them in mid air.

"What are you doing?!" Deidara shouted at his partner, though he received no response. Team eight was also surprised to their enemy fighting amongst one another but it did make their plan much easier to achieve. Simply put they planned to divide and conquer.

"It seems your partner doesn't want you to interfere. I feel the same so why don't we take our battle elsewhere?" Hinata said to the bomb maker.

"Sounds good to me. The farther away I am from this idiot the better. Try to keep up girl." Deidara said with a smirk. He took off farther into the distance.

Hinata turned to Shino and Naruto and after receiving a small nod from both went after Deidara. Flame let her go, his gaze never straying from the two in front of him. Naruto and Shino stared in the blood red eyes of a man that both felt nothing but contempt for.

Both were also remembering the words spoken to them by others.

(Naruto Flashback)

It was the night before Naruto, Hinata and Jiraiya were to return to Konoha. Hinata was peacefully asleep, unaware of the conversation between her boyfriend and his mentor.

"I'm going to kill him." Naruto said simply as he stared at Jiraiya.

"So you've said but have you thought about the consequences?" Jiraiya asked. Seeing Naruto's confusion he began to expound upon his statement.

"I see a lot of anger and hate within you Naruto. It's a look I know all too well from both my comrades and myself. I saw it often in the second great ninja war. That kind of anger and hate can fester in a person and warp whatever was good about them. Haven't you ever wondered why some of the most powerful Konoha shinobi seem to have some sort of eccentricity about them? Kakashi spends most of his time reading my glorious creations, Gai is self explanatory, Tsunade drinks enough sake in a day to put ten men under a table." Jiraiya said.

"And you're a super pervert." Naruto added only to see Jiraiya shake his head.

"No I've always been a super pervert. I have issues with remaining in the village for any prolonged length of time." The toad sage said.

"Pretty much all of these behaviors are coping mechanisms. War is hell Naruto. The things we've seen and sometimes had to do can drive men and women insane. I've seen it far more times then I wanted to. War breeds hate, despair, anger, bloodlust, and so many other dark emotions. If you can't control them in some way then you will be lost to them and find yourself nothing but a soulless monster." Jiraiya said with a pointed look at Naruto.

"You're afraid that I could become the demon that most of the village always believed me to be?" Naruto asked, a bit of anger in his tone at the unspoken accusation.

"No but I am afraid that when you kill out of anger and revenge that you'll find that a much easier path to walk then looking for alternate solutions to solve an issue." Jiraiya responded.

"You don't have to worry. I know full well that when this mission is over that I more than likely won't find any real solace for what happened. Saya will still be dead as will her mother and those villagers. Killing their killer won't bring them back. However I won't allow myself to fall into that darkness." Naruto said as he paused to look at Hinata's slumbering form.

"I know what that looks like. I saw it in Sasuke when he was unable to focus on anything but his lust for vengeance against his brother. He allowed the darkness to consume his heart and he turned into a monster just like Itachi. When he killed Hinata I gave into my hate and slaughtered Sasuke without any remorse. Do you know how I felt after I did that?" Naruto asked.

"Empty." Jiraiya said in a knowing tone with a nod of his head.

"Exactly. Hinata was still dead and nothing I could do to Sasuke was going to bring her back. I went on a rampage after Danzo and even after killing him the void in my heart would never be filled." Naruto said with a downcast, almost haunting, look on his face. Remembering those days few days was something he always made an effort to avoid. Hinata was alive once again and for that he thanked Kami every day.

"I know that I will still have to live with my failure to save Saya and her village as long as I live but I can at least eliminate their killer so no other village will have to suffer the same fate from him." Naruto said.

"Are you doing this for that reason or is revenge a larger factor." Jiraiya said. He saw Naruto look off for a while.

"I won't lie and say revenge doesn't have something to do with it. I want his head on a stick for what he did and that emotion won't leave but I won't let it control me. That's the best I can tell you." Naruto said as he turned to leave.

"That'll do Naruto." Jiraiya said to himself.

(Shino flashback)

Shibi Aburame watched as his son returned home from a long day of training with the Kumo representative Samui. His wife had expressed a lot of concern for their son after they discovered Haku's injury and the culprit responsible. Her concern only heightened when Shino told them outright that the Hokage had charged team eight to bring the ninja and his Akatsuki partner to their end.

"Shino I wish to speak with you." Shibi said as his son was walking past him.

"How may I assist you father?" Shino asked softly.

"Your mother is concerned about your next mission." Shibi responded.

"Are you going to tell me that I am acting irrational for an Aburame as other in our clan have claimed?" Shino asked seemingly without any emotion, though Shibi could read his son easily.

"An Aburame must keep control over their emotions at all times my son, this you know well. However few in our clan understand or remember the days of the great shinobi wars." The Aburame clan leader said.

"Few still remember those dark days and the kind of monsters that emerged from it. I have not forgotten." He continued.

"I have tried to rationalize my opponent's actions as our clan teaches but I find that I cannot do so. He did not kill them for food, money, power or any other discernible reason."Shino said after thinking on his father's words.

"Some men aren't looking for such things. There are some men who simply want to see the world burn." Shibi said as he placed his hand on his son's shoulder.

"I won't tell you to decline this mission. I will only tell you to keep your mind clear for the safety of yourself and your team. Too many in our clan have foolishly come to believe that not feeling at all is the same as controlling our emotions. You are still human my son and can feel anger, pain, and hurt like everyone else. However never allow these emotions to control you." Shibi said as he walked away.

Shino looked at his father's retreating form and felt a wave of anxious leave his body. It felt good to have someone aside from his team that could understand what he was going through. With a new sense of purpose Shino went to his room to rest until tomorrow's training.

(End flashback)

Naruto and Shino looked at one another and began to implement their plan of attack. Their foe didn't seem to be in any rush to attack them strangely enough. He merely observed them as Shino hung back and Naruto moved to attack first.

'We'll handle this guy Hinata-chan, just come back to me alright.' He thought as he summoned a dozen clones.

(A few meters away)

Hinata kept her eyes focused on the fleeing Deidara until they exited the tree line into a open field. Hinata immediately stopped drawing Deidara's attention.

"What's wrong? Don't tell me that you're getting cold feet little girl." He taunted as he hovered above her.

Hinata didn't respond except to draw a kunai and throw it into the ground a few feet in front of her. A large explosion shook the area immediately afterwards. Deidara's smirk disappeared quickly and a scowl took its place.

"You must have forgotten about my Byakugan. I can see below the ground and I know that this field has mines just like that one throughout it. You made it too obvious when you came straight here." Hinata said calmly.

"Pretty smart. Maybe killing you will be more fun then I first thought. Katsu!" He said quickly. Hinata looked down and noticed a mine under her feet that was beginning to glow with charka.

'How did that get there?' She thought as she leapt away from the explosion.

"Since you can see them there's no reason not to move them around a bit." Deidara said as he concentrated on his explosive weapons.

Hinata's eyes revealed that the mines were indeed moving around. This would make her job much more difficult. As it stood she would have to fight Deidara while also keeping an eye out to ensure a mine didn't sneak up under her feet before exploding.

'I'll just have to take that option off of the table.' Hinata thought as she jumped into the air after Deidara. He quickly moved and laughed as she fell back to the ground.

"Not as smart as I thought you were I guess." Deidara sneered as he moved his mines into position. No matter where she fell he would have a mines waiting to kill her.

Hinata calmly formed her chakra bow and, now that the mines where in close proximity to one another, quickly fired arrow after arrow into the ground setting all of the mines off and causing a great explosion. She disappeared in the resulting dust cloud and Deidara cursed her as he lost track of her position.

Because of the smoke he didn't see the 3 chakra arrows coming until it was too late and his clay bird's wings were blown off. As the large mount fell Hinata appeared in through the dust with her twin daggers drawn. She put one through his heart and the other in his head for good measure but immediately realized that she had struck a mud clone instead of the real Akatsuki member. Thankfully her Byakugan alerted her to the danger from behind and she turned and kicked Deidara in the head sending him into the still lingering dust cloud below.

Unlike Hinata Deidara had no chance of hiding under the cover of the dust because of Hinata's eyes. She quickly followed after him, not wanting to give him any time or distance to mount a defense against her. Deidara cursed the fact that he was fighting a ninja that was able to see through the dust cloud they were in. Close combat was not his strength and he was knowledgeable enough about the Hyuga clan to know that fighting one up close was akin to suicide. He ducked as Hinata came up behind him and tried to strike him in the head with one of her daggers.

"Back off little girl." Deidara said as he opened his hand and threw a small insect bomb at the ground. Hinata jumped back as it exploded and as she looked through the dust she saw Deidara form another large clay bird and take to the sky once more.

'He's not getting away that easily.' Hinata thought as she prepared to mount a counterattack. Her attention was drawn to the ground as she noticed something under the ground coming towards her. Her eye showed her a large white clay snake coming but unfortunately she wasn't fast enough and the serpent shot from the ground and wrapped around her body.

"Got you! Katsu!" Deidara said as the snake exploded. He chuckled at having fooled the Hyuga.

Her eyes were powerful but Deidara was a fast study. While she could indeed see things underground she actually needed to look down for that to be true. She was so focused on him and the smaller insect bomb he threw at the ground she never noticed the snake he made with his other hand.

Deidara moved his blonde hair away from his left eye and used the scope there to see if he had finished her off. He gave a grunt of annoyance when he only saw her smoldering jacket lying on the ground. He wasn't going to fall for the same trick twice though. He moved higher into the air away from the lingering dust cloud. If she wanted to shoot those chakra arrows again he'd be ready for her.

He got his wish as Hinata sprinted through the dust into the open field. Aside from some light burns on her arms she appeared fine though she was done to her lavender under shirt after having to ditch her chunin jacket in the explosion.

"You're pretty persistent but I'm getting bored. Let's see you dodge this!" Deidara said with a smirk as he held up a small clay statue.

Hinata's clod ran cold as she recognized what he held in his hands. It was the same clay statue that Gaara informed them after his rescue that Diedara used to threaten the entire Sand village.

'He's going to use that here?! I guess he doesn't believe in overkill.' She thought as she quickly went through all of her options to avoid being disintegrated. Her time quickly ran out as Deidara dropped the statue and it quickly grew several sizes larger.

"So long little girl. You should feel proud that I'm showing you this level of my art!" Deidara said as he flew even higher into the air to avoid the coming explosion.

"Kaiten!" Hinata shouted having no other choice. She pumped as much of her divine chakra into the ultimate defense as she could and prayed for the best as the bomb landed.

The explosion shook the landscape and decimated everything for several meters away from the blast zone. Trees were incinerated, boulders blown away to nothing and grass razed to the ground. High above the mushroom cloud Deidara loudly laughed to himself at his apparent victory. That bomb was strong enough to wipe out a village. He had little doubt the girl was dead.

'Still maybe I can find an arm or leg somewhere to show the Kyuubi brat.' Deidara thought to himself as he moved his clay mount down to the giant crater below him.

Hinata slowly regained consciousness with a groan of pain as she looked around. Apparently her Kaiten was strong enough to keep her from getting killed but the force of the blast and throw her quite a distance from the center of the blast radius, which probably saved her life.

'I doubt many ninja could have survived that blast and Deidara probably believes this as well.' She thought as she slowly stood to her feet and took a quick assessment of herself. She had no major injuries aside from a very bad headache and possibly a cracked rib or two. She reactivated her Byakugan and saw Deidara was descending and apparently looking for her remains. Knowing that she had the element of surprise on her side, Hinata moved to attack.

Deidara flew a few feet off of the ground and after not seeing any remains of his victim assumed that there was nothing left to find. His feeling of triumph quickly disappeared when his mount was hit with several chakra arrows and was destroyed. As Deidara fell to the ground Hinata attacked him in mid air with her daggers.

'How could she have survived that blast?!' He thought with a snarl as he did his best to avoid a killing blow. Despite his best efforts, Hinata was a much better hand to hand fighter and Deidara found himself in quite a bit of pain as she inflicted small but painful wounds on his arms and torso. Deidara found an opening by spitting blood in Hinata's eyes. Momentarily blinded she halted her attack and Deidara kicked her away.

Hinata cleared her eyes and saw Deidara fleeing. She threw one of her daggers and struck him in the back. However her byakugan saw the buildup of chakra and knew that she had struck an explosive clay clone. As the clone exploded she walked up and retrieved her dagger. She searched for her opponent but couldn't find him.

'He couldn't have gotten far.' She thought as she slowly backed up while using her divine chakra to enhance her vision.

"Did you lose something girl!" Hinata looked up and saw Deidara standing on top of a giant clay dragon. Deidara opened his hands and sent down dozens of small clay insects.

Hinata did not want to use the kaiten again. While it was effective it also forced her to remain in one spot until she broke the protective chakra sphere. Deidara had already proven that he could create bomb strong enough if not to break the kaiten to at least disrupt it enough to make it a risk to use. The only reason this fight wasn't over when she'd lost consciousness earlier is because the force of the explosion blew her far enough away to recover before Deidara found her. So she decided to go a different route.

"Protection of the 64 empty palms!" Hinata called out as she formed small thin chakra blades and began to weave her arms in an intricate web that struck and destroyed the mini bombs coming at her.

She looked up just as Deidara had his clay dragon open its mouth and fire a smaller replicate of itself at her. She moved back but unlike his other bombs this one followed her. Hinata found herself on the run from the small clay dragon and tried to think of the best way out of her situation.

'I can't destroy it without it exploding and I'm too close to it right now to do it safely.' She thought as the dragon was in hot pursuit.

Deidara was watching all of these feeling very pleased with himself. The young Hyuga was dangerous up close and even from a distance with those chakra arrows she could fire but all he had to do was keep his distance and wear her down. Her defensive techniques were good enough to stop his art but he could tell it took a decent chunk of her chakra to keep using them and he had all day. As he watched his small clay dragon continue to chase her he decided to strike while she was still preoccupied. He looked at the tail of his dragon and made his decision.

The dragon was one of his strongest techniques as it could repair itself if it was damaged and didn't just explode as a result. However that regeneration was tied directly to its tail which was wear the extra clay was held. When he used it to form the smaller copy chasing Hinata he had to use about half of its tail. If he used more then there was a good chance that he wouldn't be able to have it regenerate itself due to a lack of remaining clay. Still, it was worth it in his mind to finish Hinata off, or at the very least incapacitate her. Deidara order his dragon to form another small clone of itself and sent the second deadly bomb after Hinata.

Hinata was still trying to avoid getting the dragon chasing her but her Byakugan detected the second dragon coming in a pincer type maneuver. If she didn't think of something fast then she was going to be hit from the front as well as the back.

'I have no choice.' She thought as she again pumped a very large amount of chakra into her body and began to spin.

"Kaiten!" she called out as the swirling orb of chakra actually glowed a bright white color, showing just how much of her divine chakra she was drawing upon for the technique.

The two dragon hit the defensive jutsu from both sides and the resulting explosion obscured Hinata from sight. Deidara began to laugh at the sight, very pleased that even with her precious Byakugan Hinata couldn't do anything but hide and pray for the best. Deidara had a severe hatred of dojutsu's ever since Itachi defeated him in the past and forced him to join the Akatsuki.

'Just wait Itachi. After this you're next.' The blonde missing ninja thought. Deidara could care less about the Leader or his plans for the tailed beast. Deidara wanted his shot at killing Itachi for retribution.

Deidara's thought on revenge ended when out of the dusk cloud 5 chakra arrows came for him. He moved to the side only to find that this was exactly what Hinata wanted. One of her daggers flew up and struck the wing of the dragon. Instead of slicing it off it stuck and Hinata connected a ling of chakra to the dagger and pulled herself up to land beside Deidara. She'd done this so quickly that Deidara was taken completely by surprise. Hinata struck him in the shoulder causing his left arm to go dead. Deidara quickly jumped off his dragon and tried to create space.

Expecting Deidara to detonate his dragon Hinata jumped after him. Surprisingly enough the dragon did not explode but flew down after Hinata. She turned in mid air and quickly decided on a different attack this time.

"Eight trigrams: Empty palm!" She thrust her arm forward and shot out a compressed ball of chakra. It hit the dragon and tore a hole in the middle of it. She once again was surprised to see that it didn't explode. Instead numerous spherical clay bombs dropped out of the hole she had blasted in it to land on the ground and bury themselves into the ground.

Hinata landed and immediately tried to find the mines. She could see where they had landed and for the moment they seemed to be stationary. Knowing that Deidara had to be the one to control them she focused on finding her foe. However Hinata went to one knee and coughed up blood. The last explosion from the clay dragons hadn't broken her kaiten but the concussive force was strong enough to damage her internally. Hinata had no choice but to find a place to hide and heal herself.

Meanwhile Deidara was hiding in one of the trees that were still standing from his earlier actions trying to regain feeling in his arm. The girls blow had disabled it completely and with one arm he wouldn't be able to mount a defensive against her, especially since his dragon was gone. That was one of his most powerful but also one of the most clay consuming techniques. He'd have to be careful how he rationed the rest of his clay or else he'd run out.

'She's tougher then I first thought. Still she can't have much energy left and once she runs out she's all mine, hn.' He thought to himself as he slowly felt his arm regain movement and feeling.

Hinata was also healing herself as best she could with her remaining chakra. She was running low and would have to be conservative in this final confrontation. She activated her byakugan and tried to pinpoint Deidara's location. She found him hiding a couple of meters away in the branches of a tree and he seemed to also be tending to his wounds. She needed to strike now.

Hinata moved from her hiding spot and ran towards Deidara's position. He still didn't seem to notice her approach and she was going to take full advantage of that. She however made the crucial mistake of not checking to see where the earlier mines had landed. When she saw Deidara move his hands into a known hand seal she felt time slow down as she looked down and saw she had run right into the field of mines. While she had healed herself Deidara had moved them and made the entire field between the two of them a mine field. The first exploded and threw her back into another and soon Hinata disappeared in the multiple explosions.

"Art is a blast." Deidara said from his perch in the tree.

(Naruto and Shino)

Naruto watched as another dozen of his clones were destroyed before they could even touch their foe. Flame hadn't actually moved from his earlier position yet. He was content to let off extreme level of heat and anything that got within a few feet was affected. In Naruto's case his clones simply weren't durable enough to handle it and he had tried from a few directions. The only way he was going to be able to fight this guy was up close and hope that his divine charka could protect him.

"Shino I'm going." Naruto said shortly as he drew his sword and called upon his divine chakra. Naruto was going into this battle a bit handicapped but he would make due.

None of his dragons were in any shape to help him. His ninjutsu was primarily wind based and that would only make Flame's attacks stronger so they were of no use to him as well. Finally while he could use his new bijuu chakra form he had no control over it and that could get him killed against such a dangerous opponent.

"Understood." Shino said as he stood back and waited. Naruto rushed forward and began with an attack.

"Dragon Strike!"

The golden dragon shaped blast of energy headed for Flame. The fire user raised his hand and shot a fire ball to intercept the resulting explosion shook the ground but didn't stop Naruto. The now golden haired chunin leapt through the smoke and moved to pierce the Akatsuki through the chest. Flame moved back and kicked out at Naruto. Naruto ducked under the blast of fire that came from Flame's foot at the move and tried to stay inside his defense.

Shino watched Naruto battle their foe and forced himself to stay put and keep his cool. He didn't like waiting but they had to stick to the plan, especially since it was one that he himself had thought up. Though that didn't mean he had to like it.

Naruto slashed his sword and nicked Flame across his chest. The opponent responded with a kick to the side that moved Naruto back a few feet. He looked down and saw that his clothing on that side were scorched off. Still he smiled at the cut on his foe's chest.

"First blood is mine freak." Naruto said. He didn't get a verbal response. In fact it seemed that Flame was unaware that he had been hit. He went on the attack and began hurling fireballs at Naruto.

'How can he do that without handseals?' Naruto thought grimly as he moved to dodge the coming projectiles.

Seeing that he was going to get closed in Naruto performed a substitution and avoid the attacks. He shot another dragon strike at Flame and saw a wall of fire rise up to block his attack. Flame followed this up by doing a sweeping kick and sending a wave of fire towards Naruto's legs. Naruto jumped high to avoid the blow and Flame followed. Naruto brought his blade up to guard against the fire cover fist that Flame sent towards him. Naruto blocked the blow with his sword but the force behind it threw him back. Naruto righted himself in midair and landed safely. He looked up and saw flame cover himself in fire and fly down for Naruto.

Naruto raised his right hand and focused his chakra into the rasengan. He jumped up to meet his foe in midair and ignoring the intense heat slammed the rasengan into Flame's chest. The ball of chakra drilled through the blaze of fire that was covering Flame like a shroud and connected with his chest. The force of the blow pushed them away from each other and both fell to the ground. Naruto landed on his feet. Flame smashed into the earth on his back.

Naruto removed his chunin vest and his cloak. Both had been badly damaged in his clash with Flame and were more scraps than anything else. The black dragon tattoo was easily visible and Naruto looked as Flame got to his feet as well. The rasengan had all but destroyed his Akatskui robe and Naruto looked at the heavily tattooed flesh of his enemy. Intricate black lines ran across his chest and up towards his face. Flame's bald head was also covered in black crisscrossing lines and his crimson red eyes stared at Naruto in manic glee.

'Who is this guy.' Naruto thought to himself. He didn't recognize him from the bingo books he'd borrowed from Kakashi and Kurenai-sensei so he wasn't a missing ninja. However Naruto found it hard to believe someone this strong would be able to fly under the radar of all of the major or minor villages until they had met on that fateful mission. Flame raised his arms and two swords of fire formed in his hands.

'That's Haku's technique!' Naruto thought to himself in anger at the reminded of his wounded friend in Konoha's hospital.

He had no more time to think on it as Flame dashed to him with his two swords made from his element. Naruto ducked under one slash and blocked another with his sword. Flame brought the other down to Nauto's legs and Naruto jumped over it. However he lost leverage with that move and Flame pressed forward toppling him over. Naruto landed on his back and moved his head to avoid getting a blade of fire through his skull. Seeing no other way out Naruto raised one hand and sent a burst of wind at Flame's chest. While it moved the man back enough for Naruto to get to his feet he saw that his wind had also strengthened the red aura that Flame kept around himself and used to heat the air and affect his opponents should they get too close.

Naruto was suddenly finding his breathes to be heavier and more labored. He'd been using his divine chakra cloak around himself to protect against such a thing but as the battle went on and he used more and more chakra it would begin to have an effect on him. Still it wasn't debilitating at the moment so he could and would fight on.

Naruto summoned three clones and sent them after Flame. The fire sword wielding ninja cut tow down in seconds and a third fell shortly after but they had served their purpose. Naruto used the smoke his clones gave off when they dispelled to mask his movements. He appeared in Flame's face and with a two hand grip brought his sword down at his head. Flame crossed his swords to block the blow. Naruto pushed as much power into his sword as he felt was safe and broke flame's swords. The broken blades of fire turned into smaller fire spikes and moved to skewer Naruto. He did a took superficial wounds to his arms and chest but was able to move back before taking any more significant damage, though he was getting truly pissed off.

'That was another of Haku's techniques.' Naruto thought in anger.

Shino was thinking the same thing as he watched the battle and his insects were reacting violently to his emotional state. He desperately wanted to join the battle but they had to stick with his plan. He would get his retribution soon enough.

Naruto calmed himself before he made a mistake. His opponent had already formed a large broad sword made of fire and taking a two handed grip of the construct moved to engage Naruto once again. They crossed blades with one another and Naruto again wished he had more at his disposal to fight with. However he more than anyone knew that complaining about your situation would solve nothing. Only actions could change things. Naruto jumped back suddenly and called out favored, if not often used, technique.

"Dragon Storm!" Naruto called out as he pointed his sword to the sky.

Flame looked up as a giant white colored dragon head of energy rained down towards him. Flame dispelled his sword and taking a strong stance on the ground raised both hands and unleashed a torrent of fire to counter the attack. The two met but Naruto's jutsu would not be denied and tearing through the fire slammed into the ground causing a large explosion.

Naruto didn't relax his guard at all and that proved to be fortuitous as Flame appeared through the dust cloud with his flaming sword ready to remove Naruto's head. Naruto blocked the blow and quickly formed a rasengan and slammed it into his chest pushing him back and dropping him to one knee.

"What's the matter? Not winning as easily as you thought you would?" Naruto taunted the downed man.

Naruto was expecting the usual smirk of disturbing laughter to come from his foe so he was surprised that when Flame raised his tattoo head his eyes were dark with hatred and a snarl was apparent on his face. It was unnerving but also a welcome sight to Naruto.

'I'm getting under his skin.' He thought with a smirk. He turned to look at Shino for a moment and seeing the Aburame nod knew that he too had caught the change in temperament of the man and that they were close to starting stage two of their plan.

Naruto turned back when he saw the red aura surrounding Flame begin to expand and contract with the man's deep and heavy breathing. Naruto could see the heat radiating off of the man. He felt a wave of oppressive heat fall upon him and he couldn't breathe anymore as he fell to one knee. Well aware of what was happening Naruto tapped into more of his divine chakra and got back to his feet. He still could feel the effects of the intense heat Flame was giving of but it was no longer debilitating.

Flame raised his hand and shot a giant blast of fire at Naruto. Naruto dodged to the side and raced forward Flame, hoping to close the distance. Flame continued shooting burst of fire at Naruto but the blonde pressed forward. Flame ducked under the sword strike and raising a hand caught Naruto right on the chest with a blast of fire that sent Naruto flying back. However Naruto's chakra protected him from the worst of it and he was still smiling.

'It's almost time. Just a little bit more.' He thought.

"Hey Kyuubi brat!"

Naruto turned at the sound of the voice and felt his heart stop in his chest. Just a few meters to his right was Deidara flying on a much smaller but still dangerous clay bird. However the thing that froze his blood was the bloodied and beaten form of Hinata in Deidara's arms.

"You want her? Come and get her!" Deidara cackled as he turned his mount and flew away.

"Hinata!" Naruto shouted. He was instantly hit with a giant blast of fire. If not for the still present, but weakening, shield of divine chakra around his body that hit would have crippled him. Naruto got up and turned to glare at Flame but the fire based enemy had made no reaction to Deidara's appearance and obviously wasn't about to let Naruto leave their battle. He raised his hands to unleash another torrent of fire only for a large wall of earth to spring from the ground and stop the attack.

"Naruto go after Hinata." Shino said as he came to stand beside his friend.

"What about the plan?" Naruto asked. It took more control then he thought he had to wait but he couldn't in good conscience leave Shino alone for fight Flame.

"Plans change. I will deal with the monster before us. You go and save Hinata." Shino said not turning his head from his goal. Naruto nodded shortly and took off after Deidara.

Shino didn't have to wait long before he saw the middle of his earth wall glow a bright orange. No more than a second later the wall broke as Shino was forced to jump to the side or be hit by the wave of fire that swept his defensive jutsu away.

"I am your opponent now." Shino said softly as he removed his glasses. It was time to implement the final stage of his plan. He just hoped he walked away from it alive. Flame looked at Shino for only a moment before turning his back and began following Naruto. He was stopped when another large mud wall cut him off. He turned to glare at Shino only to see the Aburame focused on creating another wall to connect with the first. Two more shot from the ground and all four connected to enclose Flame in a box.

"I already told you that I am your opponent. If you are in such a rush to finish your battle with Naruto then kill me quickly if you can." Shino said as he looked at the giant trap he had caught Flame in. as expected he saw, and felt the buildup of fire as it began to gather more and more strength to break him out of his prison.

'As expected.' Shino thought as finally a wave of fire broke through the four earth walls and revealed the bane of the Shino's existence.

"Come." Shino said as he moved back to avoid a fire ball. He now had Flame's full attention and the scowl on the evil man's face let Shino know that he also had his wrath as well.

Meanwhile Naruto pushed himself as much as he could to catch up to the fleeing Deidara and the captive Hinata.

"Get back here!" Naruto shouted as he kept his eyes on Deidara. He would soon regret that decision as he stepped on a patch of earth that suddenly swelled and Naruto was blown back from the mine he'd stepped on.

"I guess you're just as stupid as your little girlfriend brat!" Deidara laughed as he hovered above the smoke crater that his explosion left behind.

Naruto got up slowly and nearly fell back on his face. His right leg was badly burned from the explosion, though he was lucky it hadn't been blown completely off. As it was he couldn't use it effectively at the moment and he had no clue where the rest of the mines were at. He could be in the middle of them and would never know until he stepped on one.

"I'm surprised you're girlfriend is in one piece. She ran into a least half a dozen of my art before passing out." Deidara taunted Naruto as he grabbed Hinata by her long hair and dangled her in the air obviously threatening to let her drop and either die from the fall or from landing on one of the mines.

"Shadow Clone Jutsu!" Naruto called out. He created dozens of clones that ran in all directions. One by one the clones set off the mines around Naruto in multiple explosions. The dust cloud that was kicked up was just the cover Naruto needed for his next move.

"Wind slash Jutsu!" Naruto called outas he slashed with his sword and sent a projectile of wind that blew the dust cloud up around Deidara. The former rock ninja released Hinata in a reflex as he raised his arms to cover his eyes and nose. Naruto jumped up and grabbed onto her and landed on his good leg.

"Dragon strike!" Naruto called out as she unleashed his attack with one arm. Deidara was able to avoid the attack and reached into his bag. He found that he was almost out of clay. He had to finish this now.

Naruto created a few clones to take Hinata to a safe place and to watch over her, just in case Deidara tried to recapture her or use her as a target. Naruto was not in great shape at the moment but neither was Deidara. He could tell that much from the way the man moved. Hinata had given him a good beating it seemed.

"Time to show you my best art boy." Deidara said as he jumped from his mount and sent the clay bird at Naruto.

"Slicing Cyclone!" Naruto called out as he thrust his hand forward and sent the small cyclone from his palm at the clay bird. The attack connected and forced the clay bomb to detonate safely away from Naruto though his sight was obscured by the dust that followed from the collision.

Naruto sent out another wind slash to disperse the hindrance and quickly found Deidara only a few feet behind him, trying to sneak up in his blind spot under the cover of the dust. Naruto threw his sword and embedded the blade in Deidara's chest. The Akatsuki member fell to his knees and clutched at the sword.

"Nice try but this battle is over." Naruto said as he limped over and pulled his sword out of Deidara's chest.

"Yes it is and you lose." Deidara smiled as he began to grow in size. Recognizing the familiar technique Naruto moved as fast as he was able over to Hinata. He had one of the clones that were guarding her to grab her and used the second to help him as they attempted to create as much separation between themselves and the coming explosion.

Naruto turned to look at the giant Deidara clone that continued to grow before it burst. However contrary to what Naruto was expecting the clone didn't explode. In fact he could see anything haven been affected at all.

'What's going on?' Naruto thought to himself.

"You ready to give up yet brat?" Deidara said as he appeared a few yards from him.

"You're last bomb was a dud and you want me to surrender?" Naruto asked in disbelief. He knew Deidara was a long ranger fighter and yet the man was only a few short feet away. Also he wasn't trying to defend himself nor was this one a clone if the ragged clothes and bruises to his body were any indication. For all appearances Deidara was defenseless.

"A dud? How dare you insult my art! Let me show you just how powerless you really are." Deidara snarled as he made a hand sign.

Thinking that Deidara had snuck another mine under their feet, Naruto had his clones jump and take him and Hinata into the air. However the moment they jumped, both clones dissolved before his eyes. Naruto grabbed the falling Hinata and landed on his back, breaking her fall.

'What just happened?!' Naruto thought as he turned to stare at Deidara.

"My last attack wasn't a dud brat. It's my finest art. When my clone exploded it released millions of microscopic bombs that are even as we speak getting into your body. All I have to do to make sure you end up like your clones is to detonate them and watch you turn into dust from a molecular level. And that goes double for your girlfriend there. How would you liked to watch her be taken apart atom by atom?" Deidara said with a crazed smirk.

Naruto again felt his blood freeze as he looked down to the still unconscious Hinata. The image of watching her disintegrating in front of him was a nightmare he couldn't bear to dwell on. He'd already lost her once and refused to lose her again.

"Now then how should we do this? Should I blow off a leg or an arm and let you watch as I kill your little friend? Then again Leader-sama might want to know about her strange chakra and if we could use it or not." Deidara said as he weighed the options of killing Hinata or capturing her with Naruto.

"Hoe about neither! Piercing Shadow jutsu!" Naruto quickly called out as he formed the seals for one of his more powerful techniques. Deidara cursed as everything fell under a shroud of utter darkness.

"You think this will stop me!" He shouted, or at least thought he did. He tried to shout but found he couldn't hear his own voice. Also he fell to his knees as his sense of balance and direction left him.

'What kind of technique is this?!' he thought to himself.

"Rasengan!"

Deidara felt a wave of pain flow from his chest and gave a cry of pain as the darkness lifted and he flew away from Naruto who had quickly formed and used his signature technique on the blond missing ninja. Deidara smashed into a tree and coughed up blood from his internal injuries. He focused on Naruto, who while still limping was moving in his direction and quickly formed a handsign.

"Katsu!" he shouted as Naruto coughed up blood and fell to his knees.

"I may not be allow to kill you but I think some damage to your organs is fair game don't you?" he hissed as he slowly got to his feet.

"N-Naruto-kun?"

Deidara and Naruto turned to see Hinata slowly regain consciousness and unsteadily get to her feet. Seeing the position Naruto was in Hinata raised her good arm and began to channel chakra into it.

"Gentle step: Twin Lion fists jutsu!" she said as the shroud of chakra around her hand took the form of a lion's head.

"Good luck using that girl. Time to die!" Deidara shouted as he formed his hand sign.

"NO!" Naruto shouted as he tried to get to his feet but knew he would be too slow.

"Katsu!" Deidara shouted as Hinata dashed towards him.

Expecting to hear her cry as well as see her disintegrate, Deidara was quite surprised when neither of these things occurred and she took advantage of his lowered defenses to slam her chakra encased fist into his chest. Deidara's chest caved in and with a final cry of disbelief the life faded from his eyes and he slumped over.

Pushing his body off of her Hinata limped over to Naruto and tried to heal him. She was quickly wrapped up in a bone crushing hug from her boyfriend and gave a moan of pain causing him to pull back with a wince of his own.

"Hinata-chan how?" He asked both immensely relived she was alive but also confused at the fact as well.

"I woke up when you had your clones move me away from your battle. I was able to hear what he said about the bombs and cleared my body of them. The Byakugan made it easy to see them and it was simple enough to use my chakra to destroy them. I'm sorry I wasn't able to do the same for you earlier." She said as she slowly cleared Naruto's body of the remaining bombs and helped heal his organs.

She knew she wouldn't have to do much. Their divine chakra would heal them, though it would take some time, but she wanted to ease his discomfort. Still both of them were in poor shape and wouldn't be of much use helping Shino.

"Wait, where is Shino?" Hinata asked. Seeing Naruto grimace she feared the worse.

"He told me to save you while he finished the mission." Naruto said. Seeing the horror spreading across her face he knew she was just as concerned about their teammate as he was.

"Were you able to finish weakening him enough first?" Hinata asked as they leaned against one another and got to their feet.

"I hope so. It's up to Shino now." Naruto muttered as they slowly made their way back to their friend and teammate's position. Hoping against hope he was able to kill Flame or at least survive long enough for them to help any way they could.

(With Shino)

It was finally his time. Shino had been waiting for this battle ever since they failed to protect Saya and her village. Aburame's were said to feel nothing. That logic dictated everything they did. There were those in his clan who felt and acted the same. Shino could have become like them if not for his mother. The free spirited woman seemed completely different then her stoic husband and many in their clan were confused how they made their marriage work. Still from an early age she taught Shino it was alright to have and express emotions. Shino was unsure until he met his friends and teammates Naruto and Hinata. They were the first to befriend him and not think his insects were "icky". They like his mother taught him that emotions were what made them human and not robots or monsters.

'And as father stated it is fine to feel emotions, just beware lest they control you.' Shino thought as he jumped back from a fireball sent his way. This would be a crucial point to keep in mind in this battle. For his plan to succeed he'd have to have an iron clad hold over them. Rage and anger would only get him killed.

"Earth style: stone spears jutsu." Shino signed. Large spikes of earth came from the ground and rapidly approached Flame's position.

The fire user prepared to move to the side only to have two large earth wall appeared and block his path. Glaring at the Aburame who had quickly formed the earth walls he gathered his power and slammed a hand to the ground. A tower of fire encircled him and moving forward it halted Shino's attack. He then put out his arm and destroyed Shino's wall with two well placed bursts of fire.

Wanting to end his opponent, Flame quickly moved forward and closed in on Shino. Shino's brow immediately became wet with sweat and the smoldering aura that seemed to surround the man came over him. However it was not at debilitating at Shino had experienced in the past which was both helpful and telling. Shino avoided the fire encased fists that Fame sent his way until he was caught at the throat and raised in the air. Flame prepared to incinerate him until Shino burst into a clone of insects. The tiny warriors flew at Flame hoping to drain some of his chakra until they were destroyed by the Akatsuki member covering himself in fire.

Becoming more and more frustrated by his opponents insistence to avoid close combat the crimson eyes monster of a man looked around trying to pinpoint the elusive Aburame. His focus soon turned a few feet behind him as he saw Shino sitting on the ground concentrating heavily. He raised a and prepared to finally finish the battle until he felt a shaking of the ground. Slowly curved walls began to rise from the earth with a radius of a few meters. Flame looked up as the giant earth dome rose to the sky and eventually combined above his head sealing Shino and himself in and cutting off not only any outside interference but also the light of the sun.

'Time to finish this. Stage 2 is complete and now on to Stage 3.' Shino thought as he got to his feet though he kept his eyes closed.

Shino's plan had been fairly simple in nature but in execution he and his teammates knew a lot could go wrong. While Naruto and Hinata were with Jiraiya waiting for Naruto to finish his training in gaining control over the Kyuubi's power, Shino had been sparring with Samui every day to try and think of a way to take down their opponent.

At first the training made little, if any progress. Samui was well versed in lightning techniques and one of the stronger ninja in the Cloud village, as shown with her defeat of Kurenai. She attempted to simulate Flame's debilitating heat aura but sending out pulses of lightning while fighting Shino. The pulses were strong enough to stun but not cause serious damage. This was done to see if speed would be enough to beat Flame as Shino hoped that using such a technique must have a small window that he could exploit if he or his teammates were fast enough. Samui brought up that this was a flawed line of thought as she was using next to none of her chakra to keep the field up and from what Shino had told her it was unlikely that Flame was using anymore than she. Samui, in a moment of thoughtful clarity told Shino to stop thinking like his teammate Naruto whom was a more run straight into the action and use his power to make things happen and to instead use his mind to find a better solution.

Shino had thought long and hard and came to a solution with the simple knowledge of how fire worked. It needed and ignition source, Flame himself, some kind of material to be ignited which in this case of Flame's chakra and most importantly it needed air. Cut off a fire's air supply and you would no longer have a fire.

Shino placed a hand on the large earth dome that he had made and tried to gather himself for the fight to come. As an Aburame he never would have a large chakra supply as a majority of it went to feeding his insects. The earth walls and dome itself had almost depleted him. Still it was worth it. He saw light approaching his location and silently moved to avoid it. Flame had raised a hand and used the fire in it to see. Hiding in the shadows he watched Flame turn to attack the dome itself and sending two streams of fire to a spot trying to break through. Shino had little to fear this was no ordinary dome of chakra. It would repair itself and retain its shape for a long as Shino had enough chakra to keep it active and Flame no longer had the power to overwhelm it. That had been the point of stage two of his plan.

Stage 1 was to separate Deidara and Flame. The two of them had been strong enough to attack the Hidden Mist village and get away with Yagura. They would have no chance if the two worked in tandem to fight them. Hinata had been the one to volunteer to take on Deidara. Her Byakugan would aid her greatly in seeing his bombs and though she was a close range fighter she was the best choice.

Stage 2 was to weaken Flame by making him use up as much chakra as possible. For this they would need their most durable ninja in Naruto. Though he couldn't chance using his wind jutsu nor his new Kyuubi power, his divine chakra could protect him enough to take and give much damage as he could to wear him down. Had Naruto been strong enough to kill him one on one then that would have been all the better but they all knew that wasn't likely to happen. Once Shino felt that Flame was weakened enough they would move to stage 3. Things had been going smoothly, mostly, through the first two stages.

Stage 3 was where things began to fall apart. When Deidara appeared with a defeated Hinata Shino knew that the plan was about to take a detour. While he was unsure if Naruto had weakened Flame enough to Stage 3 he nevertheless sent the blond shinobi after their friend and teammate. No matter what the safety of his team was more important than the mission. Shino proceeded to begin Stage 3 which was to trap Flame in the earth dome weakened enough that he could blast through it easily. However Naruto was supposed to be in the dome with Shino and both, with Shino giving guidance as he could navigate in the dark, would take on Flame in the dome where there was a finite amount of air. Flame wouldn't be able to use his full power without quickly using up the rest of his air supply.

'Now it's just me. I'll have to make due.' Shino thought as he continued to silently move aware from the light that Flame was casting, attempting to his position. Shino was thankful for all the sparing he had had with Haku over the years. The young woman was a master of moving silently just as her father Zabuza had taught her. Shino had picked up it and given that he was already a pretty taciturn person by nature it made it all the easier to sneak up on unsuspecting enemies.

Shino quietly pulled out his kusarigama. He had to save his chakra as best he could. If it grew too low the dome would crumble and the plan would fail. Silently Shino began to spin the weight at the end of his weapon. As Flame's back was turned he swung and connected with the man's head sending him to the ground. Shino swiftly moved as the expected fire blast from Flame in the direction of the attack came. Shino moved closer and before Flame would turn slashed the man in the back.

With a roar of anger the Akatsuki member sent a burst of fire that caught Shino. The Aburame hissed at the burns and took off his coat that was still on fire. However this gave his position away and Flame was on him quickly. Shino took the next few precious seconds dodging and doing his best to avoid the grasp of his opponent. He knew very well what would happen should Flame get a hold of him. The fact that Flame was conserving his fire attacks told Shino all he needed to know about both the fatigue of his opponent along with the air that was burned up whenever he unleashed one. It was apparent that he had no desire to suffocate trying to kill Shino.

Shino swung his sickle and scratched Flame on the cheek. It wasn't a deep wound but it made the man hesitate long enough for Shino to create space and disappear into the darkness again. He controlled his breathing as best he could with his fresh wounds and exhaustion. He swung the weight and wrapped it around Flame's arm. Before the man could react Shino yanked him off balance and began moving forward. He was running low on chakra and wanted to end this before the dome lost its structural integrity and Flame escaped.

Shino was not expecting Flame to right himself quickly and grasp the end of the chain. He pulled Shino to him and raised a hand. A fireball appeared in the palm of his hand, smaller than normal but deadly nonetheless. Shino panicked for a split second longer then he should have and the fireball was already flying toward his chest. To Shino's surprise a large cloud of insects appeared before him and took the attack for him. Shino quickly used his blade to cut through the chain and moved away before Flame could follow up on his assault.

'Why? Why did they do that?' Shino wondered to himself.

The Aburame clan had a partnership with their insects true but it was one of simple give and take. The Aburames would give up a large portion of their chakra and the insects would in turn to the Aburame's bidding. However this normally had to be consciously done by the Aburame and Shino had not been ordering his insects to give up their life for his own. He considered them not only a partner but as friends and he'd never have sent them on a suicide mission if he could help it. They had sacrificed themselves for him on their own accord.

'Thank you my friends. Let us finish this.' Shino thought and felt a noticeable buzz of approval from his swarm. He was loathe to use more of his small supply of remaining chakra but he had little choice.

"Aburame style: stinging death." Shino quietly signed. The long stinger appeared from his forearm and he readied himself.

Flame meanwhile had noticed the thinning air and knew he had to either escape or kill the Aburame, though he preferred to do both. He raised his hand and created enough light to see a few feet in front of him. The air supply was running out and he had to conserve his fire. He heard movement behind him and turned to shoot a small fireball. And the orb traveled it illuminated the darkness and Flame saw that the movement he heard was a swarm of insets.

The distraction worked as Flame felt a slash across his back again. He turned and struck but hit nothing. Putting up his guard he prepared himself for anything. He then felt something puncture his forearm, an attack meant to pierce his chest and heart. Understanding that the Aburame was close and obviously mounting his final assault Flame threw caution to the wind and sheathed his hands in fire. He saw the Aburame in front of him moving swiftly.

For the next minute or so Shino and Flame brawled in close quarters. Shino with his sickle and poisoned barb and Flame with his fists traded blow for blow. Shino did his best to make sure the hits he took were glancing but he still was taking more and more burns on his arms and chest. He was returning the favor however and Flame had been hit with his stinging death attack enough time that Shino was sure the man would start showing the affects of the poison soon. Along with that Flame had man cuts and gashes from Shino's blade. Despite the injuries both fighters refused to give an inch and continued to battle.

Shino began to feel dizzy and found his breathing was growing more and more labored. He was unsure if his lightheadedness was from the pain of lack of air. It was probably both. He saw Flame getting slower and slower both from the poison as well as the lack of air. It was a race to see who would succumb first. One of Flame's hands lost it fire and Shino's stinging death dispersed as well. Shino could fell the strain on his chakra and could also hear the shifting of the dome's walls as they weakened.

'I have to finish this now!' Shino thought as he slashed up to force Flame to again move away from him. Flame used his fist to knock the sickle away leaving Shino defenseless.

Shino turned to look as his weapon disappeared in the darkness. This proved costly as Flame sent a small burst of flame that hit Shino in the leg dropping him to his knees. Flame kicked Shino in the head and sent the Aburame to the ground. He reached down and grabbed Shino's left wrist at the same time as he stomped on his injured leg. With so little air remaining Shino scream went silent as he felt Flame begin to scorch his hand. It was slower than the almost instantaneous killing of his other opponent either due to the lack of air, or Flame's low chakra reserves, or possibly because he simply wanted Shino to suffer. Shino's insects shot out of his body and swarmed the man but he ignored the bugs and gave a second to flame up to kill them as Shino felt his fingers burn and slowly lost feeling in the hand.

'It can't end like this!' Shino thought to himself. He felt a weight close to his hand and realized that while some of his insects had distracted Flame the rest had found his sickle and returned it to his left hand. Knowing his hand no choice Shino raised the blade and cut off Flame's arm. He kicked the man away and as he staggered back looking at his missing limb Shino got to his feet and raced forward.

His mind returned to the face of Saya and her village and the guilt, shame and anger he felt at having failed her.

He thought of Haku and the overwhelming agony of feeling her insect die and not know if she lived only to see her heavily injured and kept in forced unconsciousness.

He thought of the rules of his clan about never allowing emotions to control him.

'Just this once. I'll break that rule this just once.' Shino thought as he brought the blade down into Flame's skull.

Shino pulled the blade out as the earth dome crumbled around him. Flame fell noiselessly to the ground and Shino fell backwards onto his back and he took deep and quick breathes of fresh air. As he filled his lungs he also risked a gaze to his left hand. He quickly wished he hadn't and turned away from it.

"Shino!"

Shino wounds and exhaustion was catching up with him and his blurry gaze looked up into Naruto and Hinata's. He gave them a weak thumbs up before passing out. As everything went dark he clearly heard Naruto's voice.

"Good job Shino. Never a doubt"

(Cloud Village)

"Find them! They couldn't have gone far!" A the Raikage shouted to his elite ninja. They had come to Bee's hideout only to find the dead and unconscious bodies of the ambush party but no sign of Killer Bee or Yugito. As they continued to follow the path of destruction leading away from the village A felt more and more apprehension.

"Raikage-sama!"

A turned and rushed to where his right hand man Darui and saw the heavily injured but alive form of Yugito.

"Yugito what happened?! Where is Bee?" A said as he kneeled beside the woman.

"Gone Raikage-sama. Itachi Uchiha and Kisame Hosigaki came. They took out our reinforcements like they were nothing and then turned on us. We couldn't defeated them together I was injured and Bee turned into his demon to protect me. The last thing I remember was Bee grabbing me with one of his tails and telling me to stay safe before hurling me away from the battle. That's all I can remember." Yugito said with a wince at her injuries.

"Return her to the village and get her help. Everyone else move out we must find my brother!" A shouted as Darui slowly cradled Yugito and moved as quickly as he could to the village.

'Bee-san.' Yugito thought in worry before falling unconscious again.

(Akatsuki)

"Man that was a great fight!" Kisame said with a huge smirk on his face. The fact that his cloths were bloody and torn to rags didn't seem to faze him any.

"We lost the two tailed cat because of your foolishness Kisame." Itachi said calmly.

"Yeah but she's no threat. We can get here whenever we want. We already took down the big fish." Kisame said as he motioned to the near death Killer Bee that was lying on the giant sword of Kisame and being dragged behind him.

"I wonder if Deidara and that Flame guy captured the Kyuubi. I hope not. I'd love to be the one to bring him in." Kisame wondered out loud at the thought of having another shot at the Kyuubi container with his strange golden chakra as well.

Itachi didn't say anything but he too was thinking about whether or not Naruto had survived his battle and in what shape he would be in. He knew that it was very possible that their leader Pein would mount an assault on Konoha itself if Naruto continued to avoid capture. And if that happened an untold amount of chaos and devastation would befall the village he had sacrificed so much for.

There was also the possibility of the death of a young and annoyingly straight forward ramen server that for some reason refused to leave his mind.

As they entered their cave and dropped the form of Killer Bee for extraction they watch the holograms of Pein, his right hand and partner Konan, and Zetsu appear.

"Pein-sama we have lost the two tailed cat's container but did managed to capture the eight tailed beast." Itachi said.

"Deidara and Flame are dead." Came the soft response of their leader.

"Knew it!" Kisame said with a laugh that quickly died off as the eyes of their leader fell on him.

"Do we have enough members to extract the rest of the demons?" Itachi asked.

"We only need the five of us though the procedure will take much more time. Regardless prepare for the extraction. After it is over I think it's time I enter the battle myself." Pein said darkly as he summoned the giant statue that held the Bijuu. Konan turned to look at him as Kisame's smile again appeared.

"Finally time for the leader to stretch his legs huh? I can't wait to see this." The former ninja of the hidden mist said as the remaining five ninja jumped on top of the fingers of the statue and began their extraction.

(End)

Happy New Year! Here's chapter 20. Sorry for the long wait, again. However a new year means a new commitment from me to get these chapters out at a faster pace. Expect the next one MUCH sooner then this one.

Bee is captured. Flame and Deidara are dead. Pein is entering the battle as Team eight finally puts their dark past behind them. What's going to happen next?

That is a secret!

You won't want to miss it!

Till next time, Kyuubi123 out!