Chapter 50: Hunting Tobi, Hunting Fuu
"So…what exactly is this, hm?" Deidara asked. "Kind of a weird bunch, if you ask me."
"We're a joint task force," Onoki explained, rubbing his temples. "We're going after 'Madara', so we need my memories of the real guy, your firepower, and their potential ability to counteract his Sharingan."
"Be happy it's not Itachi," Shisui said brightly. "But you need a Mangekyo to fight a Mangekyo, after all."
"And I'm just really good at fighting guys with the Sharingan by now," Kisame said. "So come on you guys! Let's party!"
"Whippersnappers," Onoki scoffed. "All right, by seniority and rank I'm in charge! Hoshigaki, I want you to start tracking from this."
He handed Kisame a hunk of cloth.
"Um…this doesn't smell like Uchiha. Yes, you all smell similar," Kisame added to Shisui as he let Samehada have at the fabric. Shisui made a slight face at that information.
"It shouldn't," Onoki said. "It's from the jinchuuriki of the Seven Tailed Dragonfly. She's a loner and no one from her village has seen her in person in weeks, just gotten her messages. They don't want her to come back in now for fear of what happened in Suna."
"So she's bait, hm…" Deidara mused.
"Our objective is to get to her," Onoki said. "And see what Akatsuki goon is trying the same. Even if it's not 'Madara', we might be able to get information out of them like with that Hidan punk. As a bonus, if it's not Madara we should be enough to fight them off and escort her somewhere safe."
"All right, let's go kick their asses!" Deidara said, tossing a clay bird into the air to explode.
"…How do you handle that one, long term?" Shisui inquired.
"Barely," Onoki replied.
"So your plan to beat the stupidly evil technique you made…is to use the stupidly evil technique," Jiraiya said. "Yeah, you deserved that punch."
"Especially with your suggested targets," Tsunade snarled.
"I was suggesting how to stop him from bringing them into the fight at all, you idiots!" Orochimaru snapped before Tsunade re-buried him in the floor.
"Even if he's being an asshole about it, he has a point," Mizuki said. "The best way to stop them from summing really powerful dead ninja from our village and controlling them would be to summon those ninja first, keeping them under our control. Then we seal them and the other side can't use them."
"Stop being so blasé about perverting the laws of nature," Iruka said, elbowing Mizuki.
"They're already being perverted, I'm just rolling with it," Mizuki argued, folding his arms.
"Have some compunction about it, at the very least!" Iruka argued back.
"There are of course two problems with Mizuki's plan," Jiraiya said. "One, only Orochimaru knows the jutsu, and we can't trust him to even let some of the chakra suppressing seals off, much less let him use such a technique. Two, we don't have sacrifices."
"Oh come on, there's got to be some criminals or something we can off…" Mizuki sighed.
"Mizuki…" Iruka growled warningly.
"How about that one?" Tsunade asked, nodding at Orochimaru.
"Ooh, tempting, Lady Tsunade, tempting," Mizuki agreed.
"No," Jiraiya said. "Remember, life imprisonment for cooperation. That's his deal. We're going to do this right."
"So...other criminals then?" Mizuki said.
"Why is he allowed to give anyone therapy?" Tsunade demanded.
"How are we doing?" Deidara asked.
"I don't know, tracking from the air is hard," Kisame mused. "I know she's that way but I'm not sure how much further…I'm just really not used to this, even if it's after than walking."
"That's stupid, hm! I want to know when we'll be there!" Deidara complained.
"We'll get there when we get there!" Onoki huffed.
"So, how's Itachi treating you, Suri?" Sakura asked as the kunoichi joined their teams in rebuilding a shop.
"Pretty good," the genin admitted. "Though I think he's relieved to have a team not trying to prank him or mess with him or anything...even if he seems bored sometimes."
"Hmf. Sensei's a jerk—Itachi, not Kakashi. Kakashi's pretty chill," Sakura said. "I like him."
"Nice to be liked," Kakashi called down from his spot on a high piece of framing.
"Shut up," Itachi muttered, aiming a fireball at the ever-present orange book. Kakashi blocked it with a water technique.
"You think there's some requirement for jonin to be weirdos?" Sasuke asked Suri's teammates, Jin and Mako.
Mako shook his head, "I don't know, Asuma Sarutobi seems pretty normal."
"Maybe he compensates for lack of crazy by chain-smoking?" Naruto wondered, rubbing his chin.
"Kurenai's pretty normal too," Suri said.
"Maybe that's why they like each other, they're the only non-bonkers options for companionship at their rank!" Mako said.
"Also, if anyone's wondering," Itachi said, appearing between Suri and Sakura without so much as a by your leave, "I'm not bored, Suri. I'm just not sure what to do with all this free time when my darling students aren't trying to drive me mad."
Sasuke, Sakura, and Naruto all pulled faces at him. One of Naruto's clones threw a rock and was poofed when Itachi threw a shuriken back.
"I'm so bored!" Deidara groaned, hanging off his bird at such a severe angle that Shisui was rather worried he'd fall off. "Why can't we find this chick?"
"Because Waterfall is a big country, okay?" Kisame said. "We're getting close so shut your whiny mouth and let the competent shinobi work!"
"Competent?" Deidara growled, sitting up. "Oh I'll give you competent you undercooked lump of seafood…"
"Deidara!" Onoki said warningly.
Rasa knew his children had not taken his temporary reinstatement well, even with the limited time of the position being heavily emphasized by Baki and Elder Chiyo. He would only hold the position until the end of the Akatsuki Crisis, at which point the search for a Fifth would resume. It was more a temporary military position than actually holding the role of kage, and the council maintained most of the power it had taken before he stepped back in.
None of which apparently mattered to the three teenagers who'd tensed the second he walked into the kage tower's kitchen.
"What do you want?" Kankuro asked. Rasa was surprised at just how much venom his elder son had managed to fit into four syllables.
"Breakfast," Rasa said. His hope was to try and engage his children on more informal ground, maybe…at least try to make it clear that in his mind they were at a truce. That he meant them no harm, despite what they seemed to think.
Sand hissed softly across the floor. While it had yet to do anything beyond simply move about a bit, Rasa knew it meant Gaara was either planning something or his control was slipping.
Gaara took his half-finished bowl of cereal to the sink, "I…remembered something I need to do…" He poured the uneaten food out and left the room.
"Thanks a lot, jackass," Kankuro muttered.
"Excuse me?" Rasa demanded. He could take the boy being surly but that level of disrespect was uncalled for!
Kankuro sneered at him, "My little brother doesn't even feel safe eating breakfast in his own damn home and you're concerned with what I want to call you? Go to hell."
"Don't start something," Temari said. "We've got more important things to deal with."
"Temari!" Kankuro said.
"We have academy students to train and direct in war preparations," Temari said calmly. "Don't waste your energy on this." She glanced at Rasa, "This truce either ends when the war does, or if you do something stupid to my brothers. Don't take this as my feeling any less upset with you than they do."
"I just wanted to talk," Rasa said.
"Sure," Kankuro muttered, finishing off his food. "I'm going to go catch up with Gaara."
"Wash your bowl this time," Temari said absently, making Kankuro moan and storm back to the sink to do it.
Temari remained in the room with Rasa until she was finished, but she didn't acknowledge that he was even there once Kankuro left. Rasa wasn't sure if that was better or worse than Gaara's blatant avoidance or Kankuro's rage.
"Here," Kisame said. "Land here."
"Oh thank goodness," Shisui sighed. "See, Deidara? We made it."
"Took too damn long," Deidara muttered.
"It would have been over twice as long on foot so stop your whining, brat," Onoki said. "Now, as much as this pains me to say the Uchiha is the diplomatic one so if we come across Fuu and she hasn't been attacked yet, Shisui will do the talking."
"And if she's been attacked, hm?" Deidara asked.
"Follow the asshole and beat them up," Kisame said. "If the attack's in progress, help her out. Pretty easy."
"Wow, the Tsuchikage's been personally teaching you how long and you don't know this?" Shisui asked.
"Shut up. Old fart never even told me he could make explosions until lie a month ago…" Deidara muttered before yelping as he tried to dodge a small explosive shot from Onoki. "Screw you, you ancient lump of criticism!"
"I almost miss the kids," Kisame told Shisui. "But I'll admit these two do a decent comedy routine…"
"Yeah, I—do you hear that?" Shisui asked.
"Sounds fluttery…" Deidara muttered after a moment. "Kind of like a hummingbird, hm…"
"Too large for a hummingbird, through," Shisui said, looking around. "Too much air being displaced, makes the sound resonate more…"
"Well we're looking for a girl with a big old bug in her…" Onoki mused. "She must be able to somehow fly…"
"So we're going the right way! All right, hm!" Deidara said, racing ahead.
"Get back here, idiot!" Kisame said as Shisui flickered after him. "You good to run, fossil?"
Onoki smirked and floated a few feet off the ground. Kisame laughed. "Show-off!"
They ran through the trees, trying to catch up with Deidara and Shisui. An explosion rocked the woods.
Onoki groaned, "If my idiot student blew up the jinchuuriki…"
"Move your saggy old butt, sensei!" the heard Deidara yell from up ahead.
"Ooh, someone wants a funeral," Kisame muttered as Onoki's face went dark with rage and he shot forward yelling about Deidara and smithereens and gravestones.
Kisame caught up to them in a clearing that probably hadn't been a clearing before Deidara started throwing bombs. Oh hey, Samehada said that girl was the girl they were looking for, great! A job well done and only some landscaping blown up and-
Oh, he'd been ignoring the weirdo in the orange mask across the clearing. No wonder Deidara had yelled for his sensei.
"What's the plan, Tsuchikage?" Shisui asked.
"Deidara, take Fuu and run," Onoki said. "Fly her right back to Konoha."
"Will someone tell me what's going on?" Fuu asked. "First that weirdo shows up and attacks me—lookout!"
Masky somehow appeared in the middle of their defensive formation. Shisui reacted fast enough to plant himself between the guy and Fuu as Kisame took a swing. To his shock Samehada slid right through the guy with no chakra pull at all as Deidara finally decided now was the time to do as his sensei said as seized Fuu before leaping skyward and summoning a large clay bird.
"No eye contact!" Onoki warned, aiming a blast at their opponent. Shisui and Kisame lunged back as fast as they could, bracing themselves for impact. The blast made a deep crater in the earth.
Shisui frowned, drew a kunai and flickered away.
"What's he doing?" Onoki asked.
"Probably trying to make sure-whoa!" Kisame said, ducking as Shisui was bodily flung at him. "Yep, maybe-Madara's not out yet!"
The smoke clear and to Kisame's annoyance he was right. Not even a scratch on the guy!
"We can't touch him!" Shisui said.
"Then we keep him here!" Onoki said as Kisame summoned a Water Shark Bullet to blast the guy.
Once again the asshole wasn't hurt and merely look upwards, tilting his head. Kisame realized that he was looking towards Konoha, where Deidara and Fuu were heading.
"Stop him!" Kisame yelled. Shisui flickered forward but it was too late. Their quarry had escaped.
A/N: Yes it's been forever, huh? Still trying to get this done, doing a bit of reworking to see how that maybe works out. Also posting on AO3 now, so far no changes beyond an added line here or there and some spelling fixes.
Next time: Deidara gets attacked on his bird by Tobi and we have a serious fight for Fuu while Team Break The Laws of Nature works on the Edo Tensei problem and the Sand Siblings vent. I'm thinking the chapter will be called Freefall