Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. It is the propriety of Kishimoto.
Hello everyone. I present you the third chapter of Infinite Supply. I hope you will like it.
I know I haven't updated in a while but I was stuck on a fight and couldn't quiet write what I wanted to describe. I rewrote the fights in this chapter at least 3 times before being satisfied. And even then I still think I could have done better than that. So I eagerly wait for your opinion on the fights in this chapter.
Also you will notice that this chapter is awfully long. That is because I didn't think the fighting scenes would take me so long.
To answer one of the review I read. No I didn't lose my inspiration because I know exactly where I am going with this story. When I write a story I first write every important characters and their abilities. After that I write the summary of each chapter. For example, I have the summary of the prologue until chapter 8 currently. This way, when I stop writing a story for a while and come back later on, I simply need to read the summary to know exactly where I am and need to go. So you don't have to worry about me stopping this story. The reason it take times is because developing my ideas are time consuming and sometimes I think of something else to add to the plot, which make me rewrite some parts.
From now on, I will answer any review by sending a PM to the reviewer. This way I don't waste your time by answering in a author's note and quickly send you a reply.
Anyway, let's head back to the current chapter. Before publishing it, the title was Invulnerability, but with the changes I made in the chapter, the title changed too.
Chapter 3: Double Impact
WITH NARUTO –
Sitting at the edge of a cliff was Naruto. He was garbed with a large black cloak. The hood of the cloak was dangling on his shoulder, leaving his face visible for anyone to see. For the past few days he had taken to sit on that place to meditate. While something surprising for him, he took this exercise as easily as fish took to swimming.
It became a necessity after a while as it helped him get in touch with his supply of chakra. The end result was his control growing by leaps and bounds. He had long since completed all the existing chakra control exercises but despite this accomplishment, he was far from having perfect control over his energy.
That is why he undertook a brainstorming to create new ways of improving his control. The meditation he was doing was one of the several exercises he came up with.
In the end though, he reached a level of control over his chakra, adequate enough to be able to use the technique he stole from Kabuto.
The regeneration technique.
It had been a relief for him to finally be capable of walking without feeling excruciating pain. After having taken the information directly from Kabuto's mind, it took him a little more than a week to perfectly learn the technique. While still not as proficient as Kabuto, he made it up by not being limited to the amount of chakra he used to heal himself.
Concretely, using this technique for Kabuto was like using a scalpel while Naruto's own use matched that of a knife. Naruto wasted too much energy to accomplish the same task but that wasn't an issue for someone like him.
Naruto, still looking at the forest far below him, felt one of his clones approaches him from behind and immediately turned around to face him.
"If you are here, it means you have completed your review of the scrolls then!" He asked his clone who slowly nodded while sitting beside him.
"I left the other ones to look at the information once again just in case we missed something but I am positive everything was accounted for."
Naruto sighed at that. They, as in the clones and him, have been looking at the scrolls coming from the archives ever since he finished sorting them and the more they looked at it, the more unanswered questions they got.
"We were supposed to find an answer to Uzugakure destruction but in the end we only found more questions." The clone spoke after a moment of silence.
"The first question would be why the first hokage gave away the tailed beast to the other villages." Naruto added without looking at his clone. Instead he slowly exhaled as if he was still doing a meditation breathing exercise.
"There are too many speculations to be sure of anything. It could be that he really wanted to balance each country's power." The clone replied only for Naruto to scoff at the idea.
"This is just a propaganda to make the Shodaime seems like a peaceful man, but the countless missions he sanctioned in those archives are proof that he was anything but. If nothing else he was more like a ruthless leader who would stop at nothing to bring Konoha to the top."
The clone just nodded knowing the kind of missions Konoha did back then when they were a newly formed village. He had never been more convinced about the saying 'history is written by the winners'. None without the knowledge kept in the archives could understand just how far Konoha went to become the top dog of this world and to keep the position for so long.
They would systematically destroy any power that had the potential of rivaling them. That was their real politic.
"Do you think he gave the beasts in the hope of destroying the other villages?" The clone suggested again to a contemplative Naruto.
"That is a possibility. After all, every country that received a Bijuu suffered high causalities before they were able to subdue them. And that was only because my clan gave away the knowledge needed to create the seals to subdue them."
"Why did they give it away anyway?" The clone wondered out loud.
Naruto didn't have an answer to this question though. As it was, he was stumped as to why his clan would go out of its way to help strangers that clearly were power hungry. It wasn't difficult to come to the same conclusion, as all of them were quick enough to accept the Shodaime proposal without even taking into account their own protection against the weapon they sought.
The question remained then, if he could realize this, then surely experienced members of his late clan should have seen the same, so why would they help them?
Especially when the consequence of this lone act was the advertising of their capabilities in the sealing arts.
That act had been the catalyst to all the problems the Uzumaki clan faced later on. By showing to the world that they were that advanced in this arcane of power, they became a worldwide threat. The power granted to a practitioner of the sealing art was clearly too great to be dismissed.
He looked back at his clone and replied. "I don't know why they did it but they must have had a reason. I simply cannot fathom them doing something so reckless without something to gain in return."
He looked at his clones still reading the scrolls. "Forget about the Shodaime for now. Did you notice that there were only a few battles involving ninjas against other ninjas in the first shinobi world war?"
"Yeah I did. This is also very strange. Compared to the other wars, the first was like a series of skirmishes. The only important event of the war was the death of the second hokage. The Shodaime having been slain just before the war started."
"Yes" Naruto nodded. "Surprisingly the group that took most of the damage was the samurai. The war was fought mostly by them and in the end, very few survived. Nowadays, they are only found in Iron country."
Both of them remained quiet after that as they still couldn't make sense to the information they acquired. There were several pieces of information they couldn't quiet understand as they weren't exactly in the correct perspective.
An example was the fact that the second shinobi world war was caused by Konoha, as the latter wanted to expand its territory. Seeing this, the other countries reacted in kind which triggered the war, and soon enough, every country joined the battle. None wanted to be left behind and see as their neighbors gained in power and land.
Iwa wanting to take their revenge on Konoha for the last war caused the third shinobi war. This one act, while not suspicious, was strange in the fact that they waited for almost twenty years to act. Some would say they were amassing resources and waiting for the right time to strike but that was incorrect because a decade before the start of the war, they were already ready for it and had the number needed to do so.
The final piece of information that struck them as odd was the land of Sky. It was a hidden village that possessed advanced technology and challenged the five great nations during the second war. They attacked Konoha and quickly overwhelmed them thanks to their technology and by attacking from the sky.
But on the verge of completely destroying Konoha, they surrendered.
Just like that, they surrendered. They had Konoha on the palm of their hand but they withdrew from the war. Of course in the information available to the public, the five great villages in a counterattack destroyed the land of Sky. But from the archive he learned the truth, that none of the village could rival against them. The land of sky had all but won the war when something happened that caused them to fall back.
What? No one knew and it wasn't explained in the archives.
At this point Naruto could only guess that the land of Sky was somehow forced to surrender. But even thinking about a power able to subdue a country that had the five great countries on their knees was astonishing at best. He shuddered as he guessed the power that would be needed for such task.
He was about to keep the conversation going with his clone when he sensed another chakra signature closing on them. Having been in contact with the individual holding this particular signature, he relaxed somewhat and waited until the person was standing a meter or so away from him.
The person slowly kneeled in front of Naruto, neither showing anger nor surprise at being recognized so easily. He was wearing a brown coat that covered his whole body. The coat was large enough that it was difficult to determine whether the owner was male or female. Furthermore a mask was covering his face not unlike the one Hatake Kakashi usually wore.
"Master!" Kabuto replied without meeting Naruto's eyes, not that the latter was looking in his direction. "I am here to report that I am well enough to accomplish whatever task you have for me."
The emotionless tone reminded Naruto of Sai's voice. The only difference being that one gained it through mental fortitude to hide his emotions. It had been a shock to Naruto when he found out that Kabuto had lost almost all of his emotions following his mind rape. At first he thought he had been too rough on the young man before him when he searched through his mind but further investigation revealed that he wasn't the one behind Kabuto's current plight.
No, the ones responsible for this were Kabuto's former masters, Sasori and Orochimaru.
When Sasori turned Kabuto into his spy, the latter undertook a process that completely wiped his mind clean. Such thing would have been lethal for the man if he wasn't so young when it happened. In any case, the damage was done and Kabuto lost the psyche he gained while growing up.
Orochimaru, by removing the seal that Sasori applied further shattered Kabuto's mind. He was still able to function normally but his mind became so frail that even a simple mind attack would have proven fatal for him if the attack had worked. The fact that Kabuto trained his mind to keep others from finding out his spying activities was the only thing that kept him safe all these years, as none had been able to overcome his mental defenses.
Now came Naruto. Upon taking over Kabuto's mind and searching through it for the information he needed, Kabuto's mind broke from the strain to the point of destroying his then current psyche, leaving behind an empty husk. He was still able to function properly and still possessed the skills he developed over the years but his mind wasn't in the right place in a manner of speech.
Then again, had his mind ever been in the right place?
Nonetheless, Naruto was then confronted to a difficult decision to make. He could dispose of Kabuto as his usefulness had expired or he could make use of the latter. Both solutions had their advantages and drawbacks but in the end Naruto chose to make use of Kabuto's talents by thoroughly brainwashing him.
A task that was extremely easy given Kabuto's state of mind at that time.
The final result was kneeling in front of him and was completely devoted to him. He thought he would feel bad for doing such thing to Kabuto but in the end he didn't find it in himself to care about it.
"Have you regained the use of your skills?" The clone beside Naruto asked the kneeling ninja.
"Yes! Physically wise, I have regained all my former motor skills. Same with my strength."
"And everything else?"
"I have tested all my former techniques to see if I still could do them and the result was satisfying. Although I noticed a slight decrease in the speed at which I can use them while in battle."
"Did you find the cause?"
"My guess is that I do not have any memories of using them in real combat. Taking this guess as a fact, I concluded that the only thing left to do would be to regain my experience by doing missions."
Kabuto explained while looking at the clone he was speaking to. He turned his head though when the original finally spoke.
"Very well. I have in mind the perfect mission for you. It will be easy enough if the news I heard in the world out there is indeed true. Seek out the clone observing the ones currently reading and he will explain to you what your mission will entail."
Kabuto nodded as he moved away, toward the clone he was sent after. Naruto watched the process without flinching. Mirth could be seen in his eyes as he ironized at having Kabuto as his own servant.
"Do you think it is a good idea?" Naruto looked at his clone again as the latter elaborated.
"Can we trust Kabuto? I know you pretty much erased his mind and made him think that he has always been loyal to you when you injected those false memories, but by sending him out there, there is a chance that he will encounter someone from his past." The clone looked at his creator with a concerned expression.
"Don't worry about that. Even if he comes to suspect anything, it will be too late anyway. In the meantime we will deal with more pressing issues." Naruto replied to his double while he rose from the ground.
"Is it time already?" The clone wondered as he looked at the stretching Naruto.
"Yes. Now that I am back to full health, I can go back to my previous agenda."
"I see." Mirroring Naruto's action, the clone stood up. "You are going to the ruins of whirlpool country then."
He asserted as Naruto simply shrugged as if the matter wasn't important.
"You are right. I think I have delayed my trip long enough now. I think it is time to face the ghost of my past."
"You speak as if you've been there at sometime." The clone smirked as he saw his creator glare at him. "What? You have never been there or known someone of that country in the first place. There is simply no reason for you to use 'ghosts of my past'."
"Asshole! You can't stop yourself from ruining my dramatic speech, can you?" He glared to a grinning clone that mouthed 'nope' before moving toward the reading clones.
Naruto sighed at its clone behavior and almost regretted the fact that each one was different if only by a small margin. They each possessed their own individuality.
Having already packed everything he possessed and sealed it in a scroll, except the archives that would be hidden in a safe place by his clones, he moved at the edge of the mountain and looked below him. He couldn't even see the bottom of the mountain as he was too far up to discern anything.
He estimated the elevation to be around two kilometers. He could feel the strong wind that threatened to throw him off the cliff. Only his applied chakra on his feet kept him from falling.
He knew what he was about to do was dangerous and reckless but he couldn't help it, he wanted to raise his adrenaline after all this time without action. He plotted his path and like an expert pool diver, he jumped a few meters away from the cliff with his arms and legs outstretched and his body parallel to the ground.
He could feel the strong air resistance that tried to push him back. He could feel the gravity that ruthlessly pushed him to the ground. He could also feel the biting wind that scarred his face. He could feel all of this at the same time.
But he didn't mind.
The air resistance was ignored, the gravity was welcomed and the cuts on his body were healed almost as fast as they appeared.
Before long, he touched the mountain's slope and with practical easy, he controlled his speed to a bearable level. He dodged any obstacle in his path like an expert runner. He was running almost vertically.
For what seemed like an eternity to him while in reality it was less than a minute, he skimmed the slope until he reached the trees of the bottom of the mountain.
For a person looking from ground level, the only thing they would see was a cloud of dust falling from the top of the mountain at an unimaginably fast speed. They would then expect whatever it was to crash on the ground but what happened was simply too unreal to understand.
Before touching the ground the cloud made a ninety-degree turn and moved a little above the trees. Then upon coming in contact with the top of one of the trees, a shockwave blew away the cloud leaving nothing behind to explain the phenomenon; only a deafening sound was left as a reminder of it.
Thanks to his unreal speed, Naruto was already more than two hundred meters away. Despite the way he moved, he still could easily discern every little details on his path. That is the reason why he quickly noticed the huge wall of hardened earth that rose off the ground an hundred or so meters away in front of him.
Were he a regular ninja he would have crashed on the wall due to the speed at which he was moving. As it was, he wasn't a regular one. That is why he was able to slow down his speed until he was a few meters away from the wall. Then he jumped above it, with the intent of landing on top of it.
His eyes widened though when the top wall turned itself into spikes that seemed intent on drilling through him.
Maneuvering through them he was able to dodge each ones until he found himself between two spikes with his feet resting on their side. He sighed in relief but it was short-lived as he heard a sizzling sound.
A deafening sound covered the area, lifting dust around and letting place to falling chunk of earth.
Twenty meters beside the impact area, Naruto appeared. He looked at the cloud of dust in relief. 'I would have been toast if I wasn't touching solid surface.' He thought as he was once again reminded that for his speed technique to work he needed to have a support stand.
The surprise of the attack over, Naruto looked at his surrounding hoping to catch the one behind this ambush. He didn't delude himself into thinking that it was anything else.
It was then that he noticed to his growing horror that four hardened wall of earth had him surrounded. Moreover, each one of them was about twice the size of the earlier wall, thereby shocking him.
'To be able to raise such huge wall, whoever is attacking me must be a master of earth style jutsus.'
Not knowing what was happening and what would follow this attack, he looked up and prepared to jump over the wall as it was now his only way out. But what he saw stilled him. Shock, horror and despair were ones of the many feelings he was experiencing. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. It had to be a bad dream he was in.
Because above him was the biggest ball of earth he had ever seen.
A huge meteor was falling and his only escape had been closed off.
UNKNOWN AREA –
Alone in his room, Sasuke laid on a bed his eyes wide open. He had been staring at the ceiling for a moment now, lost in his thoughts.
'Still not strong enough!' He thought as he raised his right hand to look at it.
He scowled as he saw the white medical strappings that covered it. 'Despite all my training...' He never finished his thoughts as he recalled the reason behind his current state.
Following the death of his one time master Orochimaru, he gathered strong followers that could help him achieve his dream: to kill Uchiha Itachi. On paper it was a straightforward goal but reality-wise, it was problematic, more like close to impossible.
Why? Because his brother was always with his partner, one Hoshigaki Kisame, a former member of the seven swordsmen of Mist and among its strongest members.
He knew he could take on his brother if everything went according to the plan he prepared. But the simple interfering of Kisame or anyone else would put everything in jeopardy. That was the primary reason he gathered his team composed of Karin, Suigetsu and Juugo. Each ones possessed an unique skill set that could come in handy.
Karin with her exceptional sensory ability, Suigetsu with his immunity to physical attacks and Juugo for his sheer raw power.
Nevertheless, after creating his team, he immediately went after his brother. He was then faced with his second problem. How was he supposed to find Itachi when several hunter nins never could? At first he thought about looking for the one his brother was after, in other words Naruto. But the severe humiliation he received at the hands of his ex-teammate quickly removed that idea from his mind. It was one thing to go after someone you knew you could take care of; it was another to go after someone that would turn the table around and make you the hunted instead of the hunter.
While he knew he was exceptionally powerful, Naruto possessed something that still made him highly dangerous for everyone, his ungodly speed. Even Orochimaru admitted when the two fought for dominance over his body that he wasn't willing to face Naruto until he had a way to negate the latter's advantage.
No, he scratched that idea as quickly as it came. Surprisingly the answer literally came knocking at his door in the form of Deidara and his partner Tobi, both members of the illusive organization his brother belonged to. And that was the reason behind his current state.
The battle that ensued after the meeting was a grand one. Powerful jutsus were thrown one after the other. In the end it came down to whoever better understood the other capabilities and effectively countered them. He was obviously the one who came victorious, as unlike his opponent he was still alive.
For a first battle against an Akatsuki member, he was proud of how he faired. But despite this, he couldn't get out of his mind the thought that his brother would have easily dispatched the late Deidara despite the latter's boasting of having trained himself to fight Itachi.
He would have continued his sulking were it not for his teammates rushing in the room with a panicked look.
"Sasuke – kun we have to leave!" Sasuke slowly leaned on the bed and looked at Karin expectantly.
She blushed in embarrassment when she remembered that Sasuke didn't know what was going on unlike the other boys.
"Sorry about that, I was just in a hurry and forgot you weren't with us earlier."
"What she is trying to say is that she was so flustered by see you naked that she lost it!" Suigetsu smirked as he said that until he felt Karin punch him. It was difficult to say if he simply didn't care or wasn't prepared for the attack. No matter, his face dissolved in water before reforming just as quickly. No traces of the attack were visible on his face.
"How long was I asleep?" Sasuke's question stopped the two as they were in the process of threatening each other.
"A day long. Apparently that Deidara follow kicked your ass." Suigetsu replied while smirking at Sasuke. The latter only scowled for being reminded of his recent battle. Further discussions were stopped when the last member of the team spoke.
"Haven't you forgotten what made us rush here in the first place?" Juugo softly asked his fellow ninjas.
"Yeah!" Karin began as she became serious again. "It seems that your last battle attracted unwanted people."
"Who?" Sasuke, who rose from his bed, ignoring the many bandages that covered his body, interrupted her.
"I can't be sure yet. I have never felt their signature before, so I cannot identify them. What I do know is that there are seven of them."
She looked far away towards the woods surrounding the place they were at. Her teammates guessed she was looking in the direction those ninjas were at.
"Two women and five men. Their level ranging from Chuunin to high jounin. Also there is a dog among them. Does that help?" She wondered out loud as Sasuke closed his eyes in deep concentration.
'There are so many people I pissed off out there; I wouldn't know which one it is. But few ninjas use dogs except...'
"Probably Konoha ninjas. Only they possess a clan reputed for their use of dog and I happen to have gone to the ninja academy with one of them." He looked at all of them as he said that. "Do they know our position?"
"Probably. They have been moving in our direction for a while now. But I wonder how they can pinpoint us from so far away."
"If I have to guess, I would say they must have gotten my scent after my last battle." Sasuke answered Karin's unasked question.
"Ohh they can do that even after so much time has passed? They must be good." Like the bloodthirsty ninja he was, Suigetsu removed his sword from his back as if preparing for the confrontation.
"What the hell do you think you are doing Suigetsu? Don't you see the state Sasuke – kun is in? We have to get out of here while we still can. No need to fight a useless battle." She grumbled. Suigetsu's violent attitude was seriously pissing her off for no apparent reason. She had just never liked the guy and didn't think it would ever change. But that was fine by him as the feeling was mutual.
"I may have an idea." Quietly, Juugo offered his help.
Once the plan was elaborated to the other members of the team, Karin couldn't help but see the giant of a man that was Juugo in a new light.
A mile or so away from team hawk position, the Konoha team was quickly moving through the trees. They had been after the Uchiha for several days now, and finally their effort was about to be paid. A day before, as they were looking for information about the last two Uchiha, they saw a huge explosion not far away from their position.
They investigated the source of the explosion and were pleasantly surprised to detect their target scent on the place of the battle. Although the scent abruptly disappeared, they were able to find it again after a while and were now chasing Sasuke and his team.
Kiba and Akamaru were in front the others as they followed behind. Thanks to their particular talent in tracking, Kiba and Akamaru were able to guide the team toward Sasuke's position. Unfortunately, they couldn't move too fast as it took time for Kiba to clearly discern the scent and follow it.
It was while they were moving that Kiba suddenly stopped and growled.
"We have been detected."
"How so?" Yamato asked the Chuunin.
"Before there was only one track for Sasuke's scent but for a while now, several other tracks have appeared. All leading to a different direction." Kiba bite back as he fully turned and looked at his teammates.
"I see. Clearly they must have noticed our approach and taken measures to destabilize us." Kakashi took it from there and calmly explained his theory. 'But how were they able to notice us so far away? A sensor perhaps?' He wondered.
"What do we do now then?" Sakura asked clearly frustrated. 'I was this close to meeting him again.' She thought.
They all heard the unmistakable voice of Hinata as she activated her dojutsu and looked beyond what they could ever hope to see.
"Found them!" She finally said after a moment. "There are four of them, two males and one female. They seem to be heading northwest from here." She reported as the team quickly moved again, this time faster than before.
They were quickly closing the gap between the two groups.
Team hawk was still fleeing from the Konoha team when Karin yelled.
"They are still following us and ignoring the dummy tracks. They must have a sensor too to be able to follow us like that."
'Shit! They just had to pick this day to chase after me!' Sasuke scowled at that. He was incensed by the situation and was about to go back there and dispose of them, violently, for pestering him when Karin suddenly stopped.
Likewise Sasuke, Suigetsu and Juugo stopped too and looked at her for an explanation when they saw her shaking from head to toes. Obviously she was frightened. She must have sensed something that scared her because she had never behaved like that, even in the presence of Orochimaru.
"What is going on now?" Suigetsu asked exasperated. Not only was he forbidden from killing a bunch of trees hugger but he was also forced to follow a crazy girl.
"The... There... There are two signatures that appeared in my range just now. They are moving to intercept the Konoha team." Karin finally said in a whisper as if she was afraid someone would hear her.
"So what? Did you recognize their signature or something? Because right now you look like you have seen a ghost." Was Suigetsu's cold reply not quiet getting why the girl was so scared. There were many ninjas out there, of course they would cross path with one of them at some point in their journey.
"You don't understand. Their chakra... it is so huge. I have never felt anyone with that much chakra. Even Orochimaru didn't possess that much chakra. And the speed at which they move... It is frightening. We have to get out of here fast."
She was almost hysterical by the end of her speech. That alone was enough for team Hawk to understand how serious the situation was. Following her advice they quickly got out of here, leaving the Konoha team to face whatever danger lurked behind them.
On the other side of the forest, the Konoha ninjas were fast moving toward their target when Hinata widened her eyes and abruptly stopped.
"What now?" Kiba wondered as she stopped beside his teammate. The others did the same too.
"Just now, I saw someone. No, I saw two people. They were moving toward us but they were so fast that I never noticed them until now."
She wildly looked left and right as if she didn't trust her dojutsu to be accurate enough. This immediately alerted the others as they took a defensive stance in preparation for an attack.
"I told you they would be an interesting bunch partner, especially the cute looking girl who saw us. No wonder she was able to find us though, she is a Hyuuga."
A voice boomed across the clearing not allowing the Konoha ninjas to find where it originated. But Hinata did, as her dojutsu was able to pinpoint their location and she quickly looked at one of the trees in front of her. The Konoha ninjas seeing this quickly mirrored her action, never lowering their guard as two ninjas walked out of the shadow and into the light.
They obviously belonged to the Akatsuki, going by the black cloak with red clouds they wore. They were of average size except one of them who seemed exceptionally tall. A hat was further hiding their features making them difficult to identify. Nonetheless the Konoha ninjas were quiet frightened by them. It was one thing to know the statistics of Akatsuki's members and plan accordingly against them. Now though they were about to go against them for real.
"We meet again Hatake Kakashi." The shorter one of the duo spoke as he tipped his hat showing his eyes. "Although unlike before, I am here in person."
All of the Konoha ninjas widened their eyes, especially the former members of team 7 when they recognized the eyes and the person possessing them.
SOMEWHERE IN FIRE COUNTRY – WITH NARUTO –
The sight that met Naruto was something akin to the after-effects of a natural disaster. An humongous cloud of dust could be seen miles away. But that wasn't the worst.
Where before there were flourishing trees, there now was bare ground.
The forest had been destroyed, around the impact zone. Chunks of earth literally covered the ground. With the cloud and dust that was leveled, one would think they were in a wasteland.
In the middle of all this, Naruto stood unflappable. The only sign of shock that could be discerned was his abnormally wide-eyed gaze. The magnitude of the attack was primarily what shocked him. He had seen devastating attacks before but never on this scale. This was way out of proportion to him.
'I wouldn't have escaped this if it wasn't for my quick thinking.' He thought as he looked at the palm of his hand. He could see the scar in a circular pattern that was quickly healing.
When he understood that he wouldn't be able to jump above the walls that had him surrounded, before the meteor crashed, he chose to force his way out. Using Oodama Rasengan and his speed technique to drill through one of the walls did this. The task done, he fled the impact zone as fast as he could.
Because of the hurry he was in, he didn't have time to properly create the Rasengan, which resulted in the wound on his palm. Although being alive was enough to dismiss this issue.
While his body healed itself, Naruto looked at the forest that was in front of him. He was about an hundred meters away from the tree line with his back facing the impact zone.
"This is the first surprise of the day, you are alive!" A voice said behind Naruto. Unlike the meaning of the words said, the tone implied that the voice's owner wasn't surprised at all.
"And you are?" Naruto wondered out loud. He didn't turn around to look at the owner of the voice. He did conclude that it was his attacker though.
Behind him stood an average sized person. The person was covered from head to toes by a large travelling brown cloak. A hood covered its head. The only part visible was the stranger's face but even then it was protected with an anbu mask. In short nothing could be discerned from the individual, its age, its gender, nothing.
"Before asking questions, shouldn't you face the person you are speaking with?" The stranger asked back slightly amused to a silent Naruto.
Neither talked for a while as if gauging the limit of their patience. Still not facing his attacker, Naruto replied.
"I would be inclined to do so if only you were real."
The response was short but to the point. From the narrowed eyes of Naruto's attacker, he perfectly understood Naruto allusion.
"You surprise me again. To be able to differentiate my clone from my real body is no easy task."
"You speak as if you know me or my skills. Why is that?" Naruto fired back not caring about the fake surprise his attacker tried to convey.
"You seem to be doing a good job in analyzing my every words, so why don't you do the same to answer your question."
"Obviously you won't answer my questions, so I won't bother to ask you why you attacked me."
"You also learn fast, how curious." The lazy tone did nothing to assuage Naruto's growing concern as he gazed at the area he knew the real attacker to be hiding.
This was the wrong thing to do as upon noticing Naruto looking directly at him even though he was hidden, the stranger commanded his clone to attack.
The clone behind Naruto ran at the latter at high speed as his body shimmered out of sight. Appearing directly behind Naruto, he threw a punch at Naruto's neck. Shock wrote on his face when Naruto disappeared from his sight for a moment before he felt a brutal kick to his ribs. The whole time Naruto still kept his eyes trained on his attacker's real body stood.
A good decision as the real one got out of the trees canopy and went through three handseals before the ground shook. A dragon several stories tall was formed from the earth and glared menacingly at Naruto.
'Clearly his control over the earth element is phenomenal.' Naruto thought as he zoomed toward his attacker, not caring for the beast standing in his way.
Not unlike a real being, the dragon's eyes followed Naruto before spitting large mud balls at him. But Naruto was too swift as he made his way through the onslaught of balls and dodged left and right, never stopping, never retreating.
His opponent seemed unperturbed by that though, as he made another handseal. The dragon stopped spitting mud balls and instead reared his head backward before abruptly diving at the incoming Naruto, his mouth wide open.
Naruto's retaliation to this was swift as he reared his hands backward and gathered chakra on his palms. Once the unmistakable ball of chakra was formed in each palm, he combined the two in one hand, making it twice as big as before. Upon coming into contact with the dragon, a distinct yell of Oodama Rasengan was heard as he slammed the ball inside the dragon's mouth.
A violent explosion rocketed the place as the dragon was blown apart, throwing chunk of earth everywhere.
From it emerged Naruto still running toward the impassively standing stranger. The latter hadn't reacted to his attack being countered. Instead there was a glim in his eyes. What it meant, only he knew but it didn't bode well for Naruto.
Ignoring the strange behavior of his opponent, Naruto kept running until he was but a few meters from his opponent when the ground shook again. Unlike before a dragon didn't take shape from it. Instead spikes at least three meters tall, sprung from the ground surprising Naruto but they didn't stop his progress as he weaved through the spikes, circling his unmoving target.
Still he closed the gap separating them and before long he had a kunai in his right hand and was swinging his arm at his target. A smirk of triumph was on his face as he attacked. But it quickly changed into one of shock as around the stranger, spikes sprung from the ground faster than before in a protective shell.
Naruto was faced with a quick decision to make, moving forward and severely injure his opponent but losing his arm in the process, or retreat.
He chose the later and he did a backward somersault. But he wasn't fast enough as one of the spikes cut his forearm quiet deeply.
While in mid air, he was able to see the smile that formed on his attacker's face. "First blood!" He heard him mutter much to his annoyance.
Though upon touching the ground he was forced to keep doing back flip in order to dodge the spikes that sprung wherever he landed. A moment later and he was back to where he began his attack.
'To hell with it!' Naruto thought frustrated at having to retreat like that.
On the last back flip he kept his body crouched and skidded backward, generating enough smoke to hide his movements. It worked well as the moment the cloud of dust was lifted he was gone.
Barely a second later he appeared behind his opponent's back with a Rasengan fully formed and his hand thrusting forward. But what happened next definitively stumped him, as the stranger seemed to know what he was doing even with his back turned and his high speed. He expertly moved his body and caught Naruto's hand between his right armpit. A left elbow hit Naruto's stomach forcing him to dispel the attack. He rotated his body until he faced Naruto.
A snap was heard as Naruto's bone arm was broken from the sudden movement. Gritting his teeth in pain, Naruto tried to disengage but to no avail as his opponent used this close contact to deliver several well placed punch and kick, finishing with a sweep of Naruto's leg and a spike that sprung from the ground and drilled through Naruto.
Blood flew around the body in a gory display.
The stranger grinned at that, but it quickly turned into a frown as a log replaced the body. He looked sideways to see Naruto holding his broken arm and looking at him in shock.
'How... How did he block my attack? I was moving almost at sound's speed. He shouldn't have been able to follow me, let alone block my attack.' He raged in his mind as he tried to find a reasonable answer for his technique's failure. Until now, this technique had been his life saving ace. None could keep up with him when he moved that fast. He should know as neither Orochimaru nor Tsunade and Sasuke even with his Sharingan could do it.
To see an unknown ninja able to do so with seemingly ease didn't help in calming his already enraged state.
"Quiet the technique you have there, little boy. Pumping chakra in your body to enhance it that much must take quiet a lot out of you. If I didn't know exactly what you were I would say that you had at most two or three shot at using this technique before you succumb to chakra exhaustion." The stranger said conversationally. He cared little that a few seconds ago they were engaged in a deadly fight.
He looked closely at Naruto and whistled appreciatively. "Wow, you are already healed from the wounds I gave you? The Kyuubi works really fast, hm!"
Naruto made no attempt to correct his opponent and let him assume that it was the Kyuubi's doing for his fast recovery. Instead he focused on a way to get the upper hand on this battle. Since the beginning he had been on the losing side after all.
'First I need to understand how he is able to keep up with my speed...' He didn't think further as his opponent spoke again.
"When I came here, I wasn't expecting much of a fight but I must say that I am even more disappointed. Your Taijutsu is more like street fighting; you have no Ninjutsu beside the Rasengan and that speed enhancer. You expect to win your battles with this little arsenal?" He ignored Naruto's incredulous look and continued. "Right now it would be a massacre to keep fighting you by myself. That is why I will let you fight with something closer to your level."
Around the stranger, five earth clones took shape from the ground. They looked definitively sturdier than the first one but beyond that there were no differences.
Naruto looked at them then the original in shock and concealed humiliation at what the man was implying. He had never been so angry before. He had just been pegged as nothing more than the man's clones. The shock turned into anger as he lost control of his emotionless facade. Then the anger was gone, replaced by a cold and calculating look.
"So you think you have me all figured?" He asked his ambusher who seemed pleased to see his inner turmoil.
"I am sorry, was I unclear before?" Was the reply Naruto got.
The bangs of Naruto's hairs fell over his face, concealing his eyes as he looked at the ground, his fists clenched.
He didn't react when the five clones charged at him from all sides.
He didn't react when they went through handseals presumably to launch a jutsu of a kind.
He didn't react when the original muttered 'weak' thinking Naruto couldn't hear from his position.
But when the clones were but a meter away from him, he acted.
Three hands made of dark blue chakra sprung from the ground and rotated at high speed around their creator, forming a protective shell and destroying the three earth clones that weren't fast enough to escape.
The other two did a backward somersault and stopped, opting to stare at the Jinchuuriki in wonder. But that was their mistake as the chakra hands flew quiet fast and ensnared them in their strong grip before crushing them like bug.
The stranger looked at the display in shock. Since the beginning of the fight, this was the first time he was shocked or at least couldn't hide it. 'Is he that advanced to have already mastered this aspect of being the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki' He thought not voicing his thoughts.
Not that it would have mattered as the chakra hands dissolved into nothing with Naruto stopping feeding them on chakra. It was his other ace after all, it wouldn't do for him to use it too much, less his opponent found a weakness to it.
"If you want to play with clones..." Naruto stared coldly at his opponent. "You should at least create enough to make me sweet, asshole"
To make his point, he did a handseal and with a puff of smoke, fifty clones appeared around him, all of them facing his target with angry eyes.
The stranger idly looked at the display, his earlier shock already forgotten. 'Maybe I was wrong. This is shaping to be an interesting fight indeed.' He thought as he slid into a fighting stance waiting for the clones to attack.
He didn't wait long as all of them ran at him, circling their prey. Naruto looked at the stranger fight against his clones with amazement. He didn't expect something like this. The stranger was weaving around his clones dispelling each one at a time with utter ease. In one minute flat, he was alone again with his opponent. Granted the latter seemed a little tired, it still didn't mitigate the surprise he was feeling.
At least the attempt wasn't useless as he did notice something from the fight, something that could explain why his attacker seemed able to keep up with him speed-wise. Wanting to test his theory he created two hands of chakra and sent them after his target.
The latter having seen the attack proceeded to run around the battlefield, dodging the hunting hands that were after him. Knowing that sooner or later he would be caught if he didn't do something, he did several handseals and tossed large chunk of earth at the standing Naruto, forcing the latter to move too and lose his focus.
What followed next was a running battle as the two of them ran around the battlefield, one hurling balls of earth, the other extending his chakra arms to his target. Even kunais and shurikens were tossed but none hit the mark.
Seeing it didn't work, Naruto did another cross-shaped seal and dozen of clones appeared in a line blocking the stranger path. Behind Naruto's opponent was the forest that wasn't touched by the earlier meteor. Each clone formed a Rasengan in their hand and ran at the retreating target.
'I can't believe he pushed me toward the forest without my notice. Could it be that he discovered my secret?' The stranger wondered in alarm as he was now jumping from tree to tree, with the clone quickly following behind.
Without warning, he fell a sharp pain to his ribs and looked to see that another Naruto had wounded him with a kunai. A backhand later and the clone was dispelled. But that distraction was enough for the chasing clones behind him, to close the gap and slam their Rasengan on him.
An explosion later and the clones could only dumbly see as a charred log remained behind. Then out of nowhere, tigers made of earth chewed on them, dispelling them in the process. He looked around for a sign of Naruto but saw nothing.
"I have finally discovered how you were able to follow me all this time!" Naruto's voice rang in the forest, startling the stranger. "I must admit that if it wasn't for your overuse of this technique I wouldn't have noticed."
"If you are so sure of yourself why don't you come out then?" The stranger yelled, as he didn't know where Naruto was.
"And lost the advantage I have now? Thanks, but no thanks." Mirth could be detected from the voice, annoying Naruto's attacker. "It was quiet clever of you though. Using that devastating meteor attack first. Because of this, I thought it was easy for you to do something of that magnitude, thus proceeded with caution. But truthfully you cannot use that attack as easily as you made it seems. What you were hoping from the attack was to destroy the forest we were in." Naruto's voice rang while his attacker's body stiffened.
"Of course at first I thought it was to prepare the field for your earth attack. But that wasn't the main reason, was it?" He asked mockingly but didn't expect an answer so he continued. "The real reason was that by forcing me to constantly be in contact with the bare ground, I played right into your hands. Why? Because you use a special technique that allows you to know instantly what is directly touching the ground around you. With this, you always knew where I was. Now that we are in this forest, I don't need to touch the ground and because of this, you don't know where I am, do you?"
The stranger looked around nervously. 'He found out!' His body stiffened though when he heard a whisper behind his ear.
"It is over" Naruto said triumphantly as he plunged a big Rasengan on his attacker's back.
The sphere of chakra quickly covered his target body before hurling him across the forest, then exploded outward in a raw display of chakra.
Naruto waited until the dust was lifted to check on his opponent's body. But imagine his surprise when he saw the stranger standing still and looking at him with an angry gaze. He looked at his opponent's body and his eyes bulged as he noticed it was covered in a shining material that he easily recognized. The only part of the stranger's body that wasn't covered by the material was his face, his clothes having been destroyed by the attack. This was the second shock.
Because standing in front of him was none other than Utatane Koharu with her body covered in diamond.
WITH KONOHA'S TEAM –
A soft breeze passed between the two groups. One group composed of Konoha ninjas while Akatsuki members formed the other. Tension was in the air as each group prepared for the showdown that was sure to come. For what seemed like hours they stared at each other, several emotions raging in their minds. Fear, hopelessness, determination, apathy were some of them. It quickly became a contest as they waited for the first to break the silence.
"What are you after this time?" Kakashi broke the silence as he cautiously asked the question to Itachi who had yet to blink.
Instead of answering, Itachi slowly studied the Konoha contingent before bringing his observation to an end upon gazing at Yamato. The look he gave the latter was almost hungry like, as if he was starring at a piece of meat. As fast as the emotion appeared, it left Itachi's face, leaving none the wiser.
"What would be the point of answering?" He softly spoke settling his gaze back on Kakashi. "You wouldn't understand anyway."
"Try me." Kakashi replied to a silent Itachi who seemed to appraise them.
A moment later he finally answered. "Let's just say that white lotusshould keep a better eye on their asset and leave it at that."
Like Itachi predicted, no one in the clearing understood what he was implying. Even his partner Kisame looked at him from the corner of his eye in confusion.
'What was Kakashi hoping for? These guys are lunatic. We would need to be crazy too to understand them.' Kiba thought as he put a hand on his partner Akamaru to calm him down. The dog was behaving erratically ever since the Akatsuki members appeared.
"Your brother then?" Yamato asked, disregarding what nonsense – in his eyes at least – Itachi previously threw at them. "After all, it cannot be a coincidence that you are here exactly when we are about to close in on Uchiha Sasuke."
A stoic gaze met him. Neither Itachi nor Kisame deigned answering his question. Instead Kisame grinned, showing his distinct sharp teeth. This sent alarms to all the Konoha ninjas and they quickly took a defensive stance. Not a second too late as Itachi pulled out his left hand from his sleeve and launched an unassuming rubber ball with seals sketched on it, above the two groups.
Kakashi having removed his eye patch recognized the seals on the ball and reacted accordingly. "Everyone close your eyes!"
But it was too late as the ball exploded in a flash of bright light. The light was so bright it blinded everyone in the vicinity. It had a more profound impact on Hinata whom Byakugan was activated at the time. Although she was able to turn off her dojutsu in time, she still suffered from it and lost her balance.
Using the distraction, Itachi appeared in front of Kakashi before delivering a straight kick to the chest. The kick was strong enough to send Kakashi flying toward the trees.
Kiba, Akamaru and Sakura, having regained their senses quickly retaliated by punching and kicking Itachi. But the latter dodged each strike while moving through handseals. Seeing that nothing worked, Kiba and Akamaru distanced themselves from Itachi to get the space needed to deliver a more powerful attack. Meanwhile Itachi finished his handseals and put his right hand beside his mouth.
"Katon Gokakyou no jutsu." (Fire release: Great fireball) He spat a fireball toward the downed Kakashi who looked at it with widened eyes. A pain filled scream was heard not long afterward as the ball exploded upon contact.
"Gatsuga" Kiba yelled as he and Akamaru drilled through the air toward Itachi. Sakura having noticed Kiba's plan got out of range of the attack.
Itachi remained unfazed though as he easily weaved through the attack and upon being behind the two spinning devils, he held them by the back of their outfit like one would hold a cat by the scruff of its neck. He used the already moving human and ninken to rotate on himself before slamming Kiba and Akamaru heads together.
Behind him, Hinata ran at him before delivering several palm strikes. Itachi, after carelessly releasing Kiba and Akamaru, turned around just in time to dodge the attacks and keeping his distance with the lethal girl.
'Hm, her hands' speed is far greater than her overall speed. Learning the Jyuken has its perks I suppose. I will have to be careful with her' He thought as he did a backward flip just as Sakura slammed her fist on his last position. The ground cracked from the impact and that was enough to stop Hinata's charge.
Upon touching the ground, Itachi felt an attack from his back. From the corner of his eyes, he saw a large tree trunk growing at an alarming rate toward him, courtesy of Yamato. Thinking quickly he swept Sakura's legs and did a roundhouse kick that threw the latter on Hinata like a bowling ball hitting the pins. Then he sealessly replaced himself with a trunk, which was destroyed by Yamato's attack.
Yamato seeing his jutsu had failed, was about to follow Itachi when a shadow felt from the sky. Thanks to his quick reflexes he was able to dodge the sword that slammed on the ground by jumping backward. But Kisame quickly was on him and swung his sword like a lunatic.
"Your fight is with me!" Kisame yelled as he gave pursuit to the retreating Yamato with a bloodthirsty look.
The next minute was certainly the longest Yamato ever experienced as he tried to survive the onslaught of attacks. He had come close to losing a limb two times already. Only quick use of Kawarimi saved his life.
Knowing he was no match to Kisame in close range, especially with the lethal sword the man possessed, Yamato did a backward somersault and moved through handseals while in mid air. Upon touching ground he slammed his hands on it. "Doton: Doryu Taiga" (Earth release: Earth flow river).
The ground dividing the two was turned into sticky mud that made it difficult to move on. Kisame was forced to stop his advance much to Yamato's satisfaction.
"So you want to play that game!" Kisame grinned even further as he looked at Yamato. "Let me give you a taste of your own medicine." A shudder went through Yamato's spine when he heard that and saw his opponent go through handseals. 'The report stated that Kisame is extremely proficient in water jutsu. I must prepare accordingly' He thought as he went through the list of jutsu he could use to stop whatever attack Kisame prepared.
"Suiton: Bakusui Shoha" (Exploding water colliding wave) Kisame yelled as he spat a vast amount of water in Yamato's direction. The amount of water was enough to create a wave more than thirty meters tall and completely turn the landscape into a water filled one.
Yamato finished his handseals at last and joined his hands together. "Doton: Doryu Joheki" (Earth-style Rampart) A wall at least fifty meters thick rose from the ground, easily matching the height of the wave coming at him. The two jutsu clashed in a violent sound and battled for dominance.
At the same time, Sakura appeared behind Kisame and punched him in the back. The punch was so strong Kisame was launched to the newly created wall and slammed on it. With no one sustaining the water attack, Yamato's wall succeeded in stopping it. He sighed before looking at Sakura to convey his thanks when he noticed something behind her.
"Look out!" He yelled at her but it was too late as a lightning crow smashed on her back and electrocuted her. She cried in pain as she slowly fell toward the water like a puppet with its string cut.
Behind her Itachi looked at his handiwork with a small smile on the corner of his lips. He had used the distraction to sneak behind the girl before launching his attack. 'One down, five to go' He thought as he looked at Shino who had been trying to suck his chakra for a while now.
His eyes widened though when he felt pain on his chest. He looked down only to find a protruding hand filled with lightning.
"Raikiri!" A voice muttered beside his ears. A voice he recognized as Kakashi.
'How?' He thought as he looked at the area Kakashi's downed body earlier was only to find nothing.
"I see. An illusion then!" He muttered but it was loud enough for Kakashi to hear, prompting the latter to confirm his suspicions.
"Indeed. I didn't think it would work at first but I suppose your eyesight has gotten even worse than before for you to fall for such trick."
Itachi couldn't answer back as he took his last breath and slumped on the ground beside Kakashi. The latter held his right hand with his left with lightning still coursing through it and looked at Kisame who had gotten out of the earth rubble.
He was shocked though when the body on the ground dispelled in crows leaving nothing behind. The confusion turned into worry, as he couldn't find where the real Itachi was. Before he could continue his search, Hinata and Shino landed beside him, staying afloat on the newly created lake.
"Kakashi – sempai." Hinata called.
"Hinata! uses your Byakugan to find Itachi, quickly." Kakashi told her and she executed herself knowing the situation was dire.
Activating her dojutsu, she looked around for any traces of Itachi but found none, further alarming them.
'How is it possible? I know Itachi is close by. How is he able to escape the Byakugan notice? It doesn't make any sense' Kakashi thought while keeping his guard up.
A good thing he did as a voice was heard several meters away from them. "Suiton: Goshokuzame" (Five feeding sharks)
Kisame yelled with his hands on the water surface. Suddenly five sharks made of water were created inside the lake. Each one was about three meters long and looked ferocious with their protruding teeth. Without wasting anytime the sharks charged at their targets – Kakashi, Hinata, Shino and Kiba –.
Meanwhile Itachi materialized at the edge of the lake and looked at the fighting ninjas. As soon as he appeared an earth dome surrounded and trapped him inside. Yamato appeared behind him with a smirk on his face. He could feel Itachi's chakra being drained by the technique but he didn't want to take any chance.
'Itachi must surely have a technique to get out of here before I drain him completely. I also have to help my teammates.' Understanding the situation, he quickly went through handseals before muttering under his breath. The dome fluctuated for a while before an earth-shattering explosion took place.
A moment later, Yamato looked at the dome or what was left of it with a satisfied smile. 'Even if he survived this, he won't be unscathed.'
With the situation dealt with, at least temporarily, Yamato went to help his teammates against Kisame.
Kakashi, Kiba, Shino and Hinata were in a difficult posture. They quickly learned that each time they destroyed one of the water sharks another took its place by using the water around to reform. They came to the conclusion that the only way they would get out of this situation was by attacking the source, Kisame.
Despite their best effort only Shino was able to escape the onslaught of the sharks and was currently fighting Kisame one on one.
'Logically this is a bad matchup for me. He obviously has too much chakra for my bugs to drain him fast enough.' Shino thought as Samehada – Kisame's blade – passed through his body, cleanly cutting him in half.
But instead of blood, Shino's body changed in bugs that flew around Kisame in an attempt to ensnare him. But with a swipe of his sword, the latter shredded a whole lot of them, forcing the bugs the back off.
"You have nothing better, little boy?" Kisame taunted his opponent. "You should hurry, your teammates are counting on you to save them." He added mockingly but Shino kept his cool much to his disappointment.
"I have faith in my teammates. They will find a way around your technique soon enough." The conviction in Shino's voice would have shaken a normal ninja but Kisame wasn't one. If anything else, he liked the challenge.
He responded by attacking the Konoha ninja with renewed vigor. Unlike before though he didn't hold back. One moment Shino was defending against another onslaught of sword strikes, the next he found himself in the mouth of a water shark that rose under his feet.
The shark with his prey in his mouth dived back in the water, all the while keeping in check his struggling victim.
Kisame didn't have time to celebrate his victory as a water dragon rose behind him, glaring fiercely at him.
"Suiton: Suiryudan no jutsu" (Water dragon bullet)
He heard the voice behind him and reflexively stopped sending chakra to his feet and sank in the water to escape the attack.
At the edge of the lake, Sakura looked at her teammates' battle in apprehension. She had just finished healing herself and was about to join them when two sinister looking Sharingan eyes appeared above her head. She felt her heart stop at that. Obviously Itachi had survived Yamato's attack and was now after her. That thought passed through her mind before she felt the wind shift. With a reflex gained from fighting with her mentor, she made a one hundred eighty turn and used the rotation to increase her momentum. Then she punched whoever was behind her, taking care of releasing a devastating blast of chakra upon impact.
Though the sight that met her was definitely unexpected and ugly, because instead of hitting flesh, her fist collided with a lightning charged hand.
"Raikiri?" She wondered out loud. She knew only two people were capable of using that jutsu. One of them wasn't present and the other was currently trapped in the lake. Obviously something was very wrong but it was too late to think about such thing because the moment the two attack collided she knew she had lost.
Pure chakra against lightning chakra wasn't really a fair battle, especially with a highly refined lightning attack like Raikiri. She could only watch in horror as the lightning attack went through her arm, destroying it to the shoulder, leaving behind a stump.
A shrilling scream stopped the ongoing battles as they diverted their attention to the direction the sound came from, only to see Sakura on the ground with her right arm missing. Standing above her was Itachi, a little disheveled presumably from the earlier explosion. The Konoha ninjas couldn't even begin to understand the fear they were currently experiencing. They were finally confronted to the possibility of losing their lives, something they had dismissed until now.
Yamato saw red when he looked at the damage done to his short time student and went through handseals at a fast pace before looking at his target in the eyes. That was the first and last mistake he made as a whisper of Tsukiyomi and a second later he fell on the water, sinking in the depths of the lake. Unlike Kakashi's experience with the jutsu, Yamato's mind was destroyed beyond repair by the attack and the Konoha ninjas knew it.
The situation was becoming bleak as time went on. Especially as the distraction caused by Itachi was enough for the water sharks to catch Kiba and Hinata in their mouth, leaving only Kakashi behind to defend their team. The latter swam to the surface and came face to face with Itachi and Kisame looking at him with the same impassive gaze. He snarled at them and was about to charge when Itachi spoke.
"In our last standoff you addressed my sight degradation, questioning my ability to see the world for what it really was. Now it is my turn to ask, how bad has your eyesight become for you to miss a simple illusion like this one?"
Upon registering Itachi's words, Kakashi's eyes widened. 'Don't tell me...' He never finished his thoughts as the world around him was shattered like glass. The first thing he noticed was that he was still standing in the clearing they met the Akatsuki duo and there was no body of water anywhere. He quickly looked around himself and saw to his growing worry Akamaru, Kiba, Hinata and Sakura on the ground, their eyes blank presumably from the shock of the illusion they all were caught in.
The only ones left standing were Yamato, Shino and he. But by looking at the state they were in, he knew they were close to losing it too. In front of him Itachi and Kisame stood calmly. Itachi showed signs of stress certainly from the Genjutsu he used on all of them but beyond that he was perfectly calm.
"How long?" He demanded while looking at Itachi in shock. "How long have you caught us in this illusion?" For all his effort the only answer he got was a patronizing look.
Obviously his opponents wouldn't reveal such details. So he took it upon himself to analyze everything that happened. The result of his analysis floored him. 'The flash bomb was a decoy to force Hinata to deactivate her dojutsu. Once her Byakugan went dormant, it was easy for Itachi to fool the girl into thinking she had her dojutsu activated in an illusion. Even I was fooled into thinking I had removed my eye patch during the battle.'
He scowled at the end. Of course he never knew it was possible to fool the Byakugan like that. It was always assumed they were immune to Genjutsu as they could literally see through them. This showed just how shortsighted they were for not thinking of such possibility.
But what scared him the most right now was that by using the illusionary world, Itachi had gleaned all of their techniques as the world left the victims' ability to use whatever jutsu they knew. He could only hope that his teammates had the foresight of not using all their aces at once.
"Itachi you forced on your Sharingan again. I think I will take it from here." Kisame said all the while advancing on the Konoha ninjas with a toothed grin on his face.
WITH NARUTO –
If someone had told Naruto that he would be witnessing such sight he would have laughed in their face for being foolish. But the proof was there. In front of him stood someone he always considered an old geezer. Someone who, while having been powerful in the past was but a shadow of his former self. He never thought that Koharu, of all people, could still be able to fight like that, let alone be that powerful.
He looked in front of him to see the only woman among the elders of Konoha – Koharu – standing with her arms crossed on her chest, sternly gazing at him.
"I have to admit I underestimated you." Koharu's voice came true this time as no device altered her voice like before. "Then again, it is difficult to believe something until you see it."
Naruto raised an eyebrow at that. "Your power, that is!" Koharu clarified before adding. "We learned of your stalemate with Tsunade and believed she overstated her estimation of your level..."
"We?" Naruto narrowed his eyes as he read under the lines, prompting Koharu to grin.
"You noticed? Another thing we vastly underestimated coming from you. Your attention to the details is extremely developed, same with your analysis capability and coming to the correct conclusion. You were able to take apart my technique and come up with a counter in such a short time. That is impressive."
She looked at Naruto and guessed he wasn't really interested in her speech right now. 'He must be waiting for my answer on the 'we' matter.' She thought as she slowly stretched her limbs trying to remove the stiffness in them.
"We, as in our group. Does that answer your question?"
"Not really" Naruto replied. If his opponent was willing to give away information, who was he to deny her.
Koharu sighed at Naruto's response. "Let me answer this question by my owns. Haven't you read the archives by now? Haven't you noticed several things that didn't add up, like the eradication of the samurais? Does the name white lotus ring any bells to you?"
The more questions she asked the more shocked Naruto became as his mind was quickly piecing together all the pieces of the puzzle. But the conclusion he came to was too ludicrous to be true. At least he thought so.
"Denial." Naruto looked at Koharu as he heard the latter speak. "That is the first step." She explained.
"What do you mean?"
"You are certainly not the first person to learn of the truth. And each time they reacted in the same way as you do. First was denial." As she talked she made a gesture with her hands to make a point.
Naruto narrowed his eyes at the elder as he recalled everything he learned trying to find something that would invalidate his assumptions but he found none.
"Next came fear." He heard again and this time didn't deny it. It was true he was scared right now. Scared of the implications.
"You are now wondering just how powerful is that group if they were able to do everything you think they did in the past." Koharu added as she arrogantly walked toward a frozen Naruto. His bangs were hiding his eyes and he looked at the ground.
"And last comes either resignation or madness. I wonder which path you will follow."
She finally stopped at arm reach of Naruto. The latter was still dealing with the intake of information and considering his next course of action because it would determine whether or not he would risk facing such dangerous group not counting Akatsuki that was already after him.
"So boy, what path will you choose?"
At Koharu exhortation, Naruto slowly gazed at his attacker, his eyes full of determination.
"I see!" Koharu spoke as she looked at Naruto's eyes. "You made your decision then. How unfortunate for you..."
"I have come too far to stop at this point!" Naruto interrupted her.
A staring contest between the two started at that moment. Each side was unwilling to falter. It would have continued like that were it not for the smirk on Koharu's lips that sent a warning to Naruto. Too late though, as he felt a fist smash on his forearm. A crater formed under him because of the blow's strength.
Naruto widened his eyes as he looked at the diamond hand that hit him. 'What monstrous strength she possesses!' He thought as he maneuvered his hands to lock Koharu's between his. Then he pulled the latter toward him and delivered a crushing knee strike on Koharu's belly. He suppressed a gasp of pain though when his knee met hardened diamond.
Koharu smirked at that before using her free hand to disengage, forcing the two apart. Despite the space that was created between the two, she closed the gap and delivered another bone crushing punch that was blocked by Naruto with a crossed arms guard. But the latter skidded backward for a few meters before coming to a halt.
"Doton: Meikai Hebi" (Earth release: underworld snake)
He raised his head to look at his opponent only to see a raging snake made of earth quickly closing the distance between the two. He raised his right hand to meet the beast head on with a ball of chakra when he noticed a shadow above him. He took a quick peek and saw mud falling on him. The mud was quickly hardening and taking the shape of a giant diamond hammer bite much to his shock.
Thinking fast, he materialized two chakra arms and positioned them in front and above him. Then he created a huge Rasengan in each new appendage to act as his shield. A second or so later, a deafening explosion reverberated through the clearing.
When the dust was settled, Naruto was standing there without any noticeable wounds indicating he was able to overcome the attack. He sighed as he just escaped a very dangerous situation and looked at his opponent only to see a wall blocking his view.
'Oh no you won't catch me with that attack again' Naruto thought recalling the ambush attack he suffered not long ago.
This time three chakra arms burst out of his body and were extended until they met the walls that surrounded him. The arms wrecked the walls until only chunks of earth were left. He noticed though that some chunks were hardened diamond and narrowed his eyes. 'If she had time to convert the earth in diamond, I wouldn't have been able to get out of this trap. I have to keep moving' He thought just before vanishing from sight.
Koharu looked around herself, trying to find her target but to no avail. 'Blasted boy must be running on the trees branches to avoid my detection.'
And she was right as Naruto was using the trees to avoid coming into contact with the ground. Then he propelled himself toward Koharu, his right fist encased with a thick layer of chakra. He appeared behind Koharu with his fist imbibed on the latter's back. A resonating 'GONG' was heard as his fist encountered Koharu's diamond armor. Though then, she wasn't exempt from the kinetic force as Koharu skidded a few meters away before coming to a stop not unlike Naruto did earlier.
This attack revealed Naruto's position to his opponent who quickly launched a tiger shaped earth attack at him. The tiger smashed on Naruto's position at the same time Naruto appeared again in front of Koharu, blocking her view from the beast and proceeded to deliver a series of punches and kicks all over her body. He was trying to find a weakness in Koharu's armor but after a while he gave up on that and disappeared again.
For her part Koharu was looking around herself, doing her best to hide just how tired she was getting. 'This cannot keep going. Using this armor grants me invulnerability but it uses too much chakra. I have to finish this fast.'
She took a deep breath and tried again to find Naruto but failed miserably. 'I have to get rid of those trees again. But it will cost me too much chakra. After that I will use my finishing move! To hell keeping him alive.'
Her decision made, she moved through handseals but before she could finish them she finally detected Naruto behind her. She turned around and was met with a sight that sent a chill up her spines. In front of her stood Naruto with his right arm in front of him. On his palm was a huge orb of chakra half the size of his body. Gravitating around the huge orb were three orbs half the size of the central one. Three chakra arms supported these orbs.
Looking at the jutsu, Koharu knew that despite her armor, if the technique hit her, she would be in a world of pain. Unfortunately Naruto was already upon her and it was too late to dodge.
"Ninpo: Wakusei Rasengan" (Planetary Rasengan) She heard Naruto yell the name of the jutsu as it impacted on her.
Not only were the orbs of chakra extremely devastating, the gravitational force they generated, due to their dissimilar rotation, tremendously increased the power of the attack. Upon impacting on the target, a giant dome of chakra covered the area, with Koharu in the middle, fighting against the gravitational pull and the attack itself.
It was a desperate battle. The attack only lasted fifteen seconds but to Koharu it was like an eternity passed. Only the thought of retaliating later on kept her from giving up. She fought until the bitter end, not willing to give her opponent the satisfaction of having beaten her. She fought and fought and fought...
And she succeeded.
When the attack subsided, she fell to the ground as the attack had her stay in mid air. Naruto looked at her and was satisfied to find a messed up ninja. Although surprised Koharu lived through the attack, he was still happy to see her patronizing gaze gone and replaced with one of shock and anger.
Koharu looked at the boy she had underestimated for so long.
Gone was the boy that couldn't do a simple Bunshin.
Gone was the boy that couldn't throw a decent punch to save his life.
Now in his place stood a warrior. A ninja willing to do anything to achieve his goals. A ninja who possessed devastating attacks that could clearly decimate a small village. And he was willing to use them if needed.
She looked at her limping arm covered in blood. Her clothes were thorn, leaving only enough to cover her private assets. 'If I had not pumped enough chakra on my armor, I would be dead by now.' She looked at Naruto and could see, despite his efforts to hide it that her opponent was out of breath. 'The attack must be demanding on his body if he is this tired. He must still have a huge pool of chakra to use but physically wise he must be as tired as I am. I have to use this opportunity to wrap things up.'
And she was right. While Naruto had an infinite pool of chakra, he wasn't immune to fatigue. He had never fought at such high level for this long and it was taking a toll on his body. He was contemplating fleeing right now to fight another day, now that he knew Koharu's limits when he noticed his opponent forms handseals at an alarming rate.
Like before four walls of earth surrounded him with a fifth above his head acting as a ceiling. Because the walls were too far away from him he didn't get the chance to destroy them until they turned into see-through diamond structure. He was now encased in a cube made of diamond and knew he was in deep shit.
"I don't know how you became this powerful so quickly but this is where it ends. Meet my final and most powerful jutsu." Koharu spoke as she kept moving through handseals as she talked.
Naruto looked at her wondering where this was going on. Though his eyes turned into dinner plates when he saw diamond spears burst out of the wall until every inch of their surface was covered with it. Then he saw the walls slowly closing on him.
"I created this technique to eradicate an army. While you are not an army in number, your level certainly indicates it. I never wanted to kill you in the first place but you left me with no choice. This is the end for you." Naruto heard Koharu speak as he looked at the attack in alarm and a good amount of fear.
He knew there was no escaping this technique. No matter where he ran he would encounter a wall that would shred him. His only solution was to face the attack head on. And he did so by forming five chakra arms and created a huge orb of chakra on them before placing them in the path of the five spiky walls. Once the two attacks collided, they fought for dominance.
Sweat rolled down Naruto's forehead as he fought with all he had to overcome Koharu's attack. But he could see the walls gaining ground and slowly pushing his arms back.
"It is useless boy. The diamond used in this attack is my strongest one. You won't be able to push it back" Koharu gloated as she looked at the futile fight Naruto did.
Hearing this, Naruto turned his attention toward his opponent and looked at her with hate. The elder was quickly getting on her nerves. That is when he had a flash of insight and he smirked at her. 'This may work in my favor.' He thought as he divided his attention to himself as he formed strange handseals. This action caused the walls to gain ground even faster than before but it was a gamble he was willing to take if it meant saving his life in the end.
Koharu noticed the change and looked at Naruto again to see him moving through handseals. At first she didn't understood them but when Naruto stopped on the last handseal, she widened her eyes as she recognized the kind of jutsu he was about to use. 'No... It can't be!'
"Ninpo: Seishin-tekina bakuhatsu" (Psychic blast) Naruto yelled as he completed the jutsu he was about to use.
'Not that jutsu… He couldn't have learned it!' Koharu yelled in her mind as she felt rather than saw the effects of the technique.
The technique was a forbidden one that had been banned by the Yamanaka clan several years ago because of his dangerousness. The goal of the technique was to scramble the mind of the target. At best the target would be facing several days of migraine but that was if the later was extensively trained in the mind arts. At worst, the target's mind would be destroyed beyond recovery. But that wasn't the reason the technique was banned. It was because the jutsu attacked everyone in the vicinity of the user, be they allies or enemies. It didn't differentiate his targets. Also if the user wasn't proficient enough, he could very well destroy his own mind in the process.
On that day, Koharu thanked every deity she knew for having trained her mind art skills so much as she quickly erected a mind barrier to resist the attack. But that was fine by Naruto. Destroying Koharu's mind wasn't his real goal. Because of the lack of concentration on her ultimate attack, the diamond walls lose their hardness. And by the time Koharu recovered from the mind attack, the walls had been destroyed beyond repairs, leaving a panting Naruto standing in the middle of it, one knee on the ground but still looking at his opponent.
Koharu wasn't in better shape as she too kneeled on the ground and looked at Naruto with a myriad of emotions passing through her face.
"How... How did you learn the Yamanaka forbidden jutsus?" She asked to Naruto.
"Do you really think I will reveal such information to you?" Naruto retorted all the while smiling, although the smile was cold.
"You have revealed so much to me thinking I wouldn't be able to get away. That is your mistake and you will have to live with that, knowing that you engineered your own demise." He continued as he rose from the ground. Koharu did the same or at least tried to as she thought Naruto would finish her off now.
"Don't act so scared, it is really unbecoming of your station." Naruto mocked as he slowly gathered chakra around his body.
"Today I learned your limits and your weaknesses. I will come back for you when I am ready to deal with you. I wish you the worst of luck until the day we meet again, member of the white lotus."
Naruto finished before disappearing from sight, leaving a tired and broken Koharu to contemplate on the mess she made. It was easy to say that she was scared. After all, she just revealed the existence of her group and showed her abilities to someone that would be coming after her. It didn't even matter anymore if her group was involved in the Uzumaki clan demise. She had personally antagonized Naruto and he would be back to finish what she had started.
She was in deep shit indeed.
WITH TEAM KONOHA –
"Will the both of you be alright?" Kakashi asked his still standing teammates while keeping an eye on Itachi and Kisame.
Beside him, Shino and Yamato slowly regained their breath and looked at their opponent too. "Yes. I have recovered enough to continue this battle." Yamato confirmed while Shino just nodded. He was already trying to formulate a plan to retaliate.
On the other side of the clearing Kisame looked at Itachi in concern. "Do you think you can handle him quickly enough?"
Itachi looked at his partner from the corner of his eye. The look was enough for Kisame to know that Itachi would be fine. "Very well then. I think it is time for me to enter the party. I will leave him to you Itachi."
The Konoha ninjas heard clearly what Kisame intended to do and weren't about to let themselves be separated. They knew they would lose on a one on one fight. At least in a team battle they could surprise their opponents and capitalize on a mistake to win.
Kisame moved through handseals that weren't unfamiliar for the three of them as they witnessed it in the earlier illusion.
"Suiton: Bakusui Shoha " (Exploding water colliding wave)
Like before a colossal wave of water burst out of Kisame's mouth in the Konoha ninjas direction. "Yamato!" Kakashi yelled.
"I am on it." Was the concerned reply as he moved through handseals of his own. "Mokuton: Jukai Heki"(World of Trees Wall)
In front of Yamato, wooden branches grew from the ground at high speed. The branches interlaced to form a wide net-like wall. The wall's size matched that of the huge wave Kisame created. Before long, the two attacks collided but the wooden wall was able to resist the charge of the wave to the point of diverting its course around the Konoha ninjas position.
Kakashi looked at his left as he went through handseals of his own. "Raiton: Gian" (False darkness) He pointed his fingers toward the rushing water and a lightning strike flew out of his hand.
Once the lightning attack impacted on the water, lightning was broadcasted in the whole body of water. Like Kakashi expected, Kisame was standing on it and was thus affected by the lightning. They heard a grunt of pain from Kisame despite the wooden wall hiding their opponent from them.
Galvanized by it and knowing that the wave of water had subsided by now, Yamato went through another set of handseals before the branches of the wall rushed toward his enemies' position. As the wall was unraveled, the Konoha ninjas were able to see Kisame and Itachi jumping left and right to escape the moving branches. When a branch was too close, Kisame hacked it with his Samehada.
Tired of the attack, Itachi went through handseals until he stopped on the tiger handseal, indicating he was about to use a fire jutsu. But before he could ignite his attack, a swarm of bugs covered his body and proceeded to suck him dry. He only had time to look at Shino in shock as he kicked himself for forgetting about the Aburame ninja.
Kisame could only look at Itachi's falling body in wonder before he was forced to return his attention to the irritating branches that were after him.
Shino looked at his handiwork in surprise. 'I never thought he would fall for this.' He thought stunned that the elder Uchiha didn't notice the bugs until it was too late. So when Itachi's body exploded in smoke, he wasn't that surprised as he was waiting for this to happen. Unfortunately though no one knew where the Uchiha was.
That is until Shino and Yamato felt a breeze beside them and saw a blur moving toward Kakashi. The latter with his Sharingan on, was able to see Itachi running at him too fast for him to react. In slow motion, he saw Itachi right palm cover his face before he felt himself being moved far away from his teammates. A few seconds later and they were at least three hundred meters away from the other ninjas and he was released quiet violently toward the trees.
The impact was hard on his back as he collided with several trees before coming to a stop. Though he quickly gained back his senses and took a defensive stance while looking at Itachi's impassive gaze.
"So this was your plan all along? To separate me from the others? I wonder what you want with me..."
He never finished his speech as Itachi blurred toward him and slammed a Kunai in his throat. Kakashi sidestepped the attack, took a hold of the appendage and used his shoulder to bump on Itachi's face. But Itachi used his second arm to give a palm strike to Kakashi's shoulder before removing his caught arm from Kakashi grasp and doing a low sweep kick. Kakashi jumped above the attack and used Itachi as a springboard to land behind the later. While in mid air he went through handseals and when he landed, he took a deep breath.
"Katon: Gokyaku no jutsu" Kakashi spat a fireball at point blank range on Itachi who wasn't fast enough to dodge the attack.
An explosion later and Kakashi skidded a few meters away from Itachi. As he stopped and looked at Itachi in apprehension, he felt a discharge of chakra coming from the smoke. But the attack was too fast for him to dodge. With his slowed down vision, he was able to see the lightning laser that flew toward him. The attack went through his shoulder and out of his back.
He greeted his teeth, trying to suppress the yelp of pain. The pain was enough to make him stumble on the ground. Still he looked at his opponent and waited until the smoke was completely leveled. Standing still and looking at him with the same impassive gaze was Itachi. A bluish human like shape made of chakra covered the latter from head to toes.
It was rather disturbing for Kakashi but he didn't let this sight affect him. Instead he focused intensely on Itachi's head with only one thing in mind: kill the Uchiha.
'With the amount of chakra I have left, I only have one shot at this.' Kakashi thought as he gathered chakra behind his exposed Sharingan eye.
His Sharingan took the shape of a pinwheel and immediately afterward, the space around Itachi seemed to distort itself, as if it was tearing itself apart. Itachi seeing this widened his eyes in alarm. Without giving his target a chance to counter, Kakashi activated his technique.
The space around Itachi's head was distorted and seemed to suck up everything close to it in another dimension. With a strength of will Itachi didn't know he possessed, he was able to use Susano'o body – the human chakra shape that covered him – to push himself out of harm way. Unfortunately, he was only able to reduce the damage as by the end of the attack, he found himself missing an arm.
For the first time in a while, Itachi cried in pain. The trauma of having one's arm severed like that wasn't something that could easily be ignored. Still, he calmed himself after a while though and looked at the downed and exhausted form of Kakashi with murderous intent.
The murderous voice of Itachi boomed in the clearing as he gazed at Kakashi, his eyes bleeding profusely. Black flames engulfed the still form of Kakashi. The yell of pain coming from Kakashi would have frozen everyone.
'Is this how it end?' Was the last thought he had as he was completely engulfed by the flames.
While Itachi and Kakashi were fighting, Kisame, Yamato and Shino were going at it too. The fight has been going on for a while now. That is why when Itachi rejoined his partner the sight he was welcomed with was one that surprised him.
Floating on the lake was Kisame. He was shirtless and seemed to have lost a good amount of blood. His weapon was nowhere to be seen. Though after careful investigation, Itachi was able to find the remains of the weapon slowly decaying. Using his Sharingan he saw the sword being eaten alive by something. He didn't know what but figured he would ask later on.
Instead he focused on his prize: Yamato. Indeed, the wood wielder was down for the count a few meters away from the lake. Beside him was Shino's unconscious form. Itachi looked at Kisame with a questioning gaze.
"He is not dead, but he will soon be." Kisame confirmed his suspicions as he slowly walked toward the former Konoha anbu.
Kisame grunted at that. "It seems that an Aburame can do more than sucking one's chakra. His bugs possess the ability to spread necrosis on anything they touch."
Kisame angrily explained as he was still saddened by the loss of his beloved sword. He looked as Itachi rolled Yamato's body above a newly opened scroll. "I hope it was really worth it, Itachi. I just lost my fucking Samehada and you are even missing an arm."
In a puff of smoke, Yamato's body vanished and Itachi rolled the scroll, before standing and walking toward Kisame. "It was worth it. Do you know why there are no more Senju nowadays?"
Kisame didn't know the answer and made a negative gesture with his head to convey his lack of knowledge.
Itachi having expected this answered. "It is because Senju and Uchiha are like yin and yang. Divided they are not worth that much but united they are priceless. Only one person discovered this aspect of our bloodline: Madara Uchiha."
Not giving time to Kisame to ask any question Itachi continued his explanation. "Madara, by using the cells of a powerful Senju was able to create a jutsu that defy reality itself Izanagi. Using this jutsu, the user can reject the reality and replace it with whatever he wants. Of course it only apply on the user's body, but despite this set back, one can even reject death itself."
Kisame looked at Itachi in awe, never having expected the existence of such jutsu.
"Unfortunately this information became known to white lotus. Understanding the danger this represented to them, they reacted just like they always do, by removing the threat by all means necessary. At the time attacking the Uchiha clan wasn't practicable, so they did the next best thing, they eradicated every Senju until there was only one left, Tsunade of the sannin."
"So that is the reason behind the disappearance of the Senju clan…" Kisame mouthed before listening to Itachi's explanation.
"Though they didn't take into account the length at which Orochimaru would go to acquire the wood bloodline. Yamato was one of the experiments conducted by Orochimaru to replicate the Mokuton ability. Of course, the organization kept a close eye on him all this time, but the instability created by the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki defect has shifted their priority. This was my only chance to get my hands on Senju DNA. Not only will it cure my ailment but it will provide me a more secure plan for the future."
Itachi finished his explanation before giving Kisame the signal to depart, as their business with the Konoha team was over. They left behind a broken Konoha team with a member missing and another with an unknown fate.
I hope this chapter was pleasant to read. Now what will happen to the Konoha team? What is the Itachi's goal? And what about white lotus? You will have to wait for the following chapters to get your answers.
To be continued...