Author's Note: This one would have to be one of my favorite chapters thus far, as it's basically an end of an era in a way.

Just so you're not surprised, there is a technique in here that Guren uses that is inspired from the Criminal Brother Renga from the Naruto anime, which I thought was pretty awesome. If he can use ice crystals in that way, who says she can't use it better?


NARUTO

Drifting

Reality Check

(With Hinata and Choji)

Tumbling violently backwards, the young Akimichi rolled to a painful stop with a shout of agony and a groan of frustration, before looking up with a growl to see the opponent who had jumped out of the trees to confront both him and Hinata standing tall in the center of the field. Wearing the uniform and markings aligning him to the village hidden in the sound, the imposing male digging his feet into the ground leered at the fallen Konoha Genin and puffed both his chest and stomach out, immediately showing confidence in his superiority over his current adversary.

Chuckling darkly, the orange haired member of the Sound Four tilted his head cockily, "Is that all you've got, Konoha brat?" Cracking his neck, the man in the khaki uniform with the purple rope wrapped around his waist then began marching forward while popping the knuckles on his hands one after the other. The sound of his muscles tightening and his feet hitting the ground with earth-trembling stomps had Choji grit his teeth and back away from the large shinobi. "Heh, judging from the amount of flab hanging off of your sides, I'm surprised you're able to move as well as you do. Hell, your life would be so much better spent as a punching bag than a shinobi serving such a weak, trash-filled village… fatso."

It was this word that had Choji stop in his tracks and a tick mark instantly form on the side of his head. Fingers suddenly digging into the ground beneath him, splitting the rock hard earth with a violent crack, the boy then glared up at his impressive foe with the harshest glare you would ever see on the youngster. The blast of killing intent he also threw, though potent, did not register with his opponent right away, who continued to leer at the fallen Akimichi while approaching him.

"W-What did you just call me?"

Unable to sense the anger in the boy's voice, Jirobo's smirk only widened, "Oh? You want me to say it again? Alright then…" The man leaned forward with a much more intense gaze coming into play. Giving it a moment of pause, the man then spoke, adding special emphasis to each syllable so that he didn't need to repeat himself, "Fat-so."

Eyes widening in rage, Choji then let out a roar of anger and, springing from the ground like a wild animal, lunged straight towards his opponent with speed and ferocity the Otogakure elite just did not expect. Jirobo's expression quickly reflecting a sense of surprise, along with a moment of thought that practically said 'shit, I shouldn't have said that', the man was then drilled in the stomach by the boy head butting him directly underneath the sternum.

The blow caused Jirobo to cough out all the air in his lungs as well as a spray of saliva from his mouth, which flew through the air just as he almost did from the incredible force built up behind the sudden attack.

With his skull and plate buried in the man's gut, the Akimichi then, with deft hands, wrapped his arms around the wide man's beltline and, squeezing his foe tightly, let out a roar of effort as he then lifted the hulking shinobi right off of the ground and sprinted with his quarry in tow all the way across the entire clearing. With the raging bull of a boy kicking up dust along his path of travel, the discombobulated enemy was unable to respond in time before his back was plowed straight into the side of a thick tree, the impact of which caused it to crack and almost split in two at the base.

The second the earsplitting impact rang out, bouncing off of every tree and tor in the region, Choji then used that moment to press his advantage and, using strength very few knew he possessed, gripped his foe in a vice before lifting him up and over his body, bending backwards like a bow. Jirobo only had a couple of seconds to process exactly what was happening to him when, all of a sudden, his young opponent performed a perfect suplex on him, and attempted to bury him headfirst into the ground.

Jirobo's second impact was marked with another loud cannon round ringing out across the island, shaking the clearing and scaring dozens of birds from their roosts. When the shaking inevitably died down, Choji rolled back onto all fours and stared hard at the upturned body of his opponent. Glaring heatedly at the inert form of Jirobo, the Akimichi then saw the male's hand twitch and the elite four shinobi rise up from the earth just as he had beforehand.

Shaking his head to rid himself of the trauma suffered to his consciousness, the rotund warrior then sprouted an amused grin and looked up at his opponent, at the same time ignoring the trickle of blood that ran down his face from the cut on his head.

"Ho. You've actually got some fight in you after all. That's impressive for a little runt," Jirobo chuckled, slamming a hand onto his knee with a 'thump' and rising to his feet. When he came to stand over the Akimichi once more, who was already panting from the effort of the attack and his fight thus far, the Sound Four member then used this opportunity to flex his muscles again to bring his wrath down upon the young man without restraint. "Now… let's see how much fat I can press out of you!"

"Juken!"

Before the burly warrior could follow through with his plan to palm strike Choji into the ground, he instead received several sharp shots of what he initially thought were senbon to the side. The pinpoint blows, quick and fired in rapid succession one after the other, reverberated throughout the man's body like electricity, shocking Jirobo at the sudden stinging sensation he received until he stumbled away. Snarling, the elite shinobi's eyes then landed on his second opponent Hinata Hyuuga, who now stood glaring him down with her Byakugan activated and hands extended in her clan's trademark fighting stance.

Covered in several bruises and leaves from being hurled into the undergrowth of the jungle earlier on when she and Choji had been separated from Naruto by way of that unusual shower of crystals, the girl was now back on her feet and ready for action. To show this, she immediately went in for the opening presented to her by her opponent when he turned his back on her to focus on Choji, which allowed her to nail him with those finger jabs to his gut before he quickly backed up for space and air.

Now that he was staggered, the girl could once more throw herself into the fray and, upon seeing her target train his glare onto her and huff at the biting pain stinging his side, rushed in for another volley. Ducking the palm slap the hulking Jirobo attempted to slam her with, the girl spun in and began repeatedly striking him in the stomach. Her blows landed with the sound of cracking air as her clan's chakra burst style of fighting was put into action, hitting the man's internal organs repeatedly and driving him back step by step.

"Shotei!" (Palm Bottom) Hinata shouted, driving repeated palm strikes into the individual's ribs.

Growling in frustration at the continuous bolts of pain shooting through him from the irritating little girl, Jirobo let out an enraged yell and took several swings at the Hyuuga in an effort to deck her into the earth. However, in spite of his super-human strength, all his punches did was make impressive, club-swinging sounds as they cut through the air, missing their mark by feet when Hinata nimbly avoided each and every one of his blows, before once again diving in to drill her opponent with even more punishing shots to his abdominals. Her palms and fingers drove into him like knives, and after dancing in and around the man's attempted counterattacks for another minute, spun in once more and fired two palms right into the center of the man's belly.

"Tora Shotei!" (Tiger Palm Bottom) The double strike with her fingers curled plowed into Jirobo like a twin-barreled shotgun, the blast that reverberated from the impact point lifting the heavy man off of the ground and sending him blasting across the clearing like a rocket. A yell of agony and shock escaped Jirobo's throat as he was hurled into the tree line, where he crashed into the undergrowth and vanished in a violent shower of leaves and dust.

His landing was so intense, a couple of the figs surrounding the area he landed in collapsed on themselves, burying the man under several tons of wood.

Breathing out from her lightning fast combination, Hinata straightened up a little while her eyes focused on the man she'd handily sent away. Seeing his chakra network was still alive and well, she then threw her attention to her Akimichi teammate when she heard the boy stand up behind her and stagger on over.

"Are you okay, Choji-kun?" the Hyuuga heiress asked with concern yet firmness in her voice, as she still had her game-face on.

Gulping, the rotund Genin nodded quickly in response, "Y-Yeah. Thanks for the save, Hinata."

"You're welcome," the kunoichi replied politely, only for her eyes to narrow when she saw movement in the darkness. Eyes glued onto the man they were confronting, she widened her stance and brought both her hands up defensively. "Get ready. He's coming back."

"Seriously?" Choji balked, looking in the direction of the trees the girl had sent their opponent through. "That's ridiculous. I got him with a better than decent suplex and you nailed him with over a dozen palm strikes and sent him flying. How is he still moving after all of that?"

"I don't know," Hinata murmured uneasily, also finding the situation quite perplexing.

Not just anyone could get up after taking a serious of her juken strikes head on… and to the body no less. Hell, even somebody as infallible as Tsubaki was scared of taking her fighting form head on, the lightning user opting to avoid going close quarters with her at all costs during the second stage of the Chunin Exams when she confronted the members of Team 8. That more or less proved how much people feared going toe to toe with a Hyuuga, as their fighting style could take you down internally as opposed to beating you into a bloody pulp. This man however had just allowed himself to get nailed with over a dozen direct hits to the body and didn't even show any signs of wavering throughout.

Though it may have been a case of stubbornness and stupidity, there was a limit to how much the human body could take, and Hinata knew this better than most. "All of my attacks were right on the mark, b-but… there's something off about this man."

"Hm? What do you mean?" Choji asked, catching onto the worry laced in his partner's voice.

"I don't know what it is exactly, but his body's makeup is a lot different from an ordinary person's. The density of his muscles and the way they are structured allowed him to absorb the force behind my attacks somehow. I wasn't able to drive in any of my blows as deeply as I would have other people," Hinata continued, gritting her teeth as a bead of sweat ran down the side of her head. "This one… he's much stronger than those other soldiers we encountered earlier."

Biting his own lip, Choji focused on the tree line once again when they heard the sound of rustling leaves and twigs coming from the bushes. "Yeah. Who the hell is he?" He was obviously still pissed at the man for having a go at his weight and appearance. As far as he was concerned, this match wasn't over until he'd personally flattened this man underneath his fist.

In response to the growing threat being presented by the enemy, the young Akimichi reached into his pouch and cranked out a glass container with three large pills sealed inside of it.

However, before he could do anything with them, while Hinata was glaring into the brush with her special eyes piercing the shadows of the jungle, keeping a close watch on the man as he sifted through the bushes, her eyes suddenly widened when she saw the aura of the man's chakra system increase in intensity and his energy levels skyrocket. The flame that was the form it took from her point of view, almost exploded off of him, stunning the girl at its potency. "W-What? What's happening?"

Hinata continued to watch through her kekkei genkai as his output increased even more when he suddenly crouched low to the ground, buried two hands into the earth and, with a audible growl, began to pull, as if lifting an enormous weight from the floor itself.

All of a sudden, the ground around the two Genin began to tremble, moments before both Hinata and Choji saw the entire area in front of them rise up before seeing it begin to stomp towards them at a labored pace. Moments later, under the sounds of earth-shaking footsteps, the tree line up ahead was knocked down, and a still alive and well Jirobo marched out of the jungle to stand in plain sight of his adversaries. However, he didn't come empty handed, as he not only emerged relatively unscathed from his beating but had reentered the clearing carrying an enormous surface of earth over his head with both hands holding it up. Having ripped the plate of rock right out of the ground, with trees, grass and all still attached to it, he then walked with the humungous mass into the open, and took aim with it at the two stunned Genin standing in the center of the field.

Hinata, stepping back at the sight of the slab of earth, then turned her attention to the man carrying it, and recoiled when she saw his slightly banged up body was now covered in strange markings. The black tattoos crisscrossed over much of his skin, resembling a series of interconnected triangles running like streams down his arms, across his face and chest. It was a freaky sight, and one that even Choji balked at when he caught sight of their enemy bearing down on them.

Grinning from ear to ear, the now bulked up Jirobo, complete with earth slab, cranked the massive boulder back and let out a yell of effort. "Try this on for size, Konoha trash! Doton: Doryo Dango!" (Earth Release: Earth Mausoleum Dumpling) With that, he hurled the piece of earth right at the two youngsters, the shadow of the meteor sized boulder falling over both Hinata and Choji, and forcing the pair to take evasive actions.

Leaping out of the way, the two Genin were able to avoid the plate from crashing down on top of them and crushing them into paste. Instead of holding their ground, Choji and Hinata were able to move in time to see the meteor barrel into the jungle behind them and tear through the woods effortlessly, carving an enormous trench for several dozen yards before coasting to a stop with a thunderous bang. The impact of the attack shook the entire area like an earthquake, kicking up dust into the air and leaving the two youngsters speechless at the display of raw power.

After staring in disbelief at the sight of the boulder for several moments, Hinata then realized she'd turned her back on her foe and gasped in surprise. Spinning around, she set her gaze back onto her enemy just in time to see the man rushing at her shoulder first, which she responded to with a quick finger strike to his side. However, her attack unexpectedly bounced off of his body before the man plowed into her with his running attack, knocking the girl off her feet and sending the Hyuuga flying across the field and into a tree like an arrow. When she slammed into it, she cracked the trunk at the impact before falling back to her feet.

Coughing up blood, the girl looked up to see the man sprinting at her once again, fist cocked back for a punch he aimed to power right through her. Expression showing his intent, Jirobo grinned murderously and launched his attack.

"You're finished, girl!"

"Nikudan Sensha!" (Human Bullet Tank)

Just when Hinata thought she was done for, a massive spinning green ball suddenly flew in from the side and crashed straight into Jirobo at high speed, at about the same time the man swung in with his punch. The burly shinobi had barely any time to respond to the sudden attack, which collided into him at full power and sent him crashing into a distant tree. The enormous ball continued rolling with him, grinding the unsuspecting Jirobo under thousands of pounds of force between it and the trunk, until the spinning Choji skidded to a stop and stood in place against the bent over tree.

A second later, the confused Choji still transformed into a ball was then lifted off of the ground and sent blasting away when a loud cannon shot echoed out across the clearing, which forced the Genin back into his normal state and sent him bouncing over the hard ground. When the Akimichi eventually came to a painful stop, sprawled out on all fours, the youngster looked up through a cringing expression towards the tree line he'd ended up pushing his foe. When Hinata rushed over to see if he was okay, both Genin then saw Jirobo standing perfectly alright with his hand extended and a smirk on his face.

"Nice try. But it'll take more than that to bring me down," Jirobo chuckled, rising back up to full height and standing off of the tree he'd been thrown up against. Looking incredibly grungy from being hit by the full power of Choji's signature move, as well as bruised from being thrown through several solid objects beforehand, the Sound Four member simply shrugged off the damage, brushed away the blood dripping down his head and dusted his shirt off. He then grinned towards the boy that'd attempted to take him out. "I was right all along. You are quite fun to hit, fatso."

Gritting his teeth, Choji snarled, "Shut up!"

Laughing, Jirobo raised his hand and patted down his stomach again, "That was a solid effort on your part. But like all Konoha ninja, you're all talk and no bite. Weak. Useless. Trash. It shouldn't take me too long to do away with you brats. A few more hits from me at full power should be enough to finish the job, and then I'll be able to get on with my work… and grab something to eat afterwards." Smirking when he saw the pair back down slightly at the look in his eyes, he then turned his attention to the Hyuuga, who'd spent the better part of the last few minutes trying to beat him into submission. Seeing her nervousness, the boy decided to capitalize on his advantage to intimidate his opponents a little more and spoke up in his booming voice. "Your half-assed fighting style won't work on me either, little girl, not when my body is able to absorb the chakra in your hands the second you make contact with me."

It was this that had Hinata break her glare and look up in surprise, "A-Absorb?"

Jirobo chuckled, massaging his abs before then taking another fighting stance, "I'm always hungry… always wanting to eat. Little shots of chakra to my body only get assimilated into it… and I can use that energy to help me fight longer." Stomping forward, the burly shinobi prepared for another round. "Thanks for the extra juice."

Cursing their luck, Choji reached behind him and yanked out a chain of kunai. Whipping it through the air around him, he then held it between his hands and readied himself for another round, just as Hinata did when she slid into another fighting stance.

Since the start of this match, their fight hadn't been going so well for them as they'd hoped. Not only did they get ambushed by some unknown assailant that was able to shoot crystal kunai at them from a distance, but they were then blindsided by this monster that was not only physically imposing, but had almost superhuman strength capable of lifting great chunks of earth and could absorb chakra through his pores and muscles. Adding up their own skills and abilities, not only was Choji's brute force method of fighting not even budging this guy an inch despite giving him a couple of bruises, but Hinata's Gentle Fist style of using chakra to shut down his internal organs wasn't working either, as he was absorbing her chakra shots through physical contact. Since her fighting style at this point involved coming into contact with a person and since their opponent could soak it in like a sponge, it basically meant her Juken style was out of the question.

Or was it?

"Choji-kun, we'll attack him head on with everything we have at the same time," the Hyuuga said with a voice filled with determination. Wiping the blood that trickled down from the corner of her mouth, the girl took on another fighting stance and braced herself. "That's the only option we've got." After all, this guy was walking through everything they were throwing at him.

They needed to circumvent his endurance somehow or at least wear it down to the point they could finally deal him some real damage.

The Akimichi, sensing his teammate's determination, nodded affirmatively. "Right."

Jirobo, having heard the kunoichi's intentions to continue fighting, leered in the pair's direction while at the same time balling his fists. "So you want to take another shot at me? Heh. You two are either bat-shit crazy or even stupider than you look." Muscles popping as he stretched his neck out, the man then slid into his own fighting stance and brought both hands forward. Stomping on one foot to the next in classic, sumo-wrestling style, the burly shinobi gave another chuckle and a manly growl. "Alright… if that's how you want to play it… bring it on!"

OOO

(With Naruto)

Meanwhile, some ways across the island in the direction his battle had taken him, a series of invisible explosions ripped through the trees, tearing the misty, thick canopies apart and turning whole trunks into splinters, before an enormous explosion of dust and debris clogged up the sky, with an effect similar to a mushroom cloud. The explosion, sending a whole line of trees toppling into a nearby lake, resulted in more plumes of smoke that choked up the air and blocked out the sun, hiding the one responsible for the calamity inside of the blast zone. Several seconds later, the wall parted, and a slightly frazzled Naruto came floating out of it with his wind propulsion system blasting off of his feet and back, keeping him suspended.

With his Tsubame no Koto (Soaring Swallow) activated, the boy floated in place glaring up towards the sky, where he saw Guren also hovering in the air with her arms crossed gracefully over her chest and a smug grin worn proudly on her face.

Normally the sight of another ninja capable of flight would have left Naruto scratching his head. However, the second the jinchuriki decided to engage this woman in battle and went after her with guns blazing, the boy was able to experience firsthand exactly what this woman was capable of. Not only was she ridiculously fast and every bit as good at taijutsu as Lee and Kakashi, maybe even better, but this Guren chick also had this unique ability to form crystals out of thin air.

Judging from the composition of the crystals and the way the atmosphere shimmered during the production of said element; Naruto guessed the kunoichi was somehow able to use the moisture in the air to produce the incredibly hard substance.

While it initially didn't seem like something for the blonde to be concerned about, the moment he started going on the offensive, he realized just how dangerous she actually was.

She was apparently also immune to his poisons, a trait a lot of Orochimaru's top henchmen seemed to share with one another. On top of her physical strength and dexterity, Guren was awfully creative with that crystal style ninjutsu of hers. Not only was it deceptively strong, but it was incredibly versatile, as the kunoichi was proving to him right now by hovering in the sky above him and taunting him, levitating using the crystal blocks she'd formed around her feet.

A smug grin worn proudly on her lips, the blue haired woman floated up higher, performing an acrobatic flip before throwing her arms out, fanning her coat tails behind her at the same time.

Gritting his teeth, the air boosters on Naruto's feet opened up and he rocketed up towards the enemy ninja hanging several stories above him. However, just as he was making a well timed approach on his target, he saw Guren cock her left hand back and, with a devilish grin in play, swing it through the air following an upward direction.

"Shoton: Kessho Hariha!" (Crystal Release: Needle Crystal Blade) The second Guren's hand sliced the air there was a sudden flash of pink light, followed immediately by a shower of over a thousand crystal needles that shot towards Naruto in a cutting arc.

Spotting the incoming attack, the jinchuriki responded immediately with a stunned blink before dodging the approaching shot, slipping the rain of crystals and looking down in time to see the long blade of needles hit the lake beneath him, parting the water right down to the bottom where it struck before the rest of the attack hit the land, following the line Guren's sweeping palm had followed. Naruto then watched for the next few seconds in amazement as the arc of lightning fast needles sliced down an entire row of trees and ground all the way to the beach front with such force, had it been thrown with a bit more power it would have cut the damn island in half.

"Whoa," Naruto murmured, turning his gaze back towards the woman floating up in the sky.

Grinning when she saw her opponent look at her with a nervous scowl, Guren cocked back her right hand for another round. "Want more?" Without even needing an answer, the blue haired woman fired two more blades of tearing needles through the air towards her adversary, intent on either bifurcating him with one of them or impaling him with dozens of crystal senbon should he fail to avoid it in time.

However, in spite of the speed she launched the crystal blades, Naruto was able to avoid them, slipping left and right, and watching the enormous arcs of needles cut down a rocky tor twenty stories tall behind him and another to his right. Upon seeing the towers of earth topple to the ground and crush the surrounding trees at their respective bases, the jinchuriki gritted his teeth in annoyance. Realizing he wasn't going to be able to approach his opponent from this angle without being struck down by her incredibly swift attacks, the blonde opted to change tactics and, cutting off the air ejection points at his feet, plummeted to the lake below.

Guren watched confidently from above as the boy took a deep breath and dove into the lake feet first, an amused grin in play as she wondered what her opponent was going to try next.

Completely submerged under water and out of sight of his foe, Naruto then wasted no time in swimming straight to the bottom, where he then took a few seconds to find the right position to launch his next move. Upon securing a spot directly beside a boulder, he then marked his point by looking up through the blue towards the sky above, where he could see his opponent's form still hovering in place. Certain he was exactly where he needed to be he then took aim with both hands and pumped chakra into his palms.

"Okay… now! Fūton: Senpūken!" (Wind Release: Whirlwind Fist) In the blink of an eye, a shockwave exploded off of Naruto's hands followed by a twisting sensation, which tore through the surrounding waters and made its way to the surface at speed. The force of the jutsu stirred the lake up something fierce, forming an enormous whirlpool and waves, before a waterspout suddenly shot straight into the sky and towards the kunoichi like a rocket.

"What a fool." Seeing the approaching blast of twisting water and air flying at her, Guren chuckled at the hilarity of the attack and raised a hand, intent on taking it out with a jutsu of her own. "Does he seriously think an attack of that level can take me out?" However, just as the crystal user began gathering chakra in her palm and had her eyes glued firmly on the incoming waterspout, she failed to notice Naruto materialize out of thin air in the sky above her. It was only when she detected his presence nearby Guren's head snapped to the side and recoiled in shock when she saw the blonde diving straight towards her. "Huh?!"

So now, not only did she have an attack coming at her from below, but her opponent had somehow shunshined ahead of it and was now flying towards her from her blind spot. Baffled, and unable to pick which one to focus on, Guren took action on the basis that the water drill flying up at her from below would strike first. With her left hand still extended towards it, she then raised her right arm into a guard, gritting her teeth in frustration as her limb crystallized over to take the attack she suspected her opponent would attempt to throw at her from the side.

"Kessho no Yoroi!" (Crystal Armor)

However, in spite of protecting herself on both sides, Guren didn't count on the nimbleness of her foe when Naruto, with lightning speed and accuracy, threw a kick straight down at the woman, slipped it through her guard and nailed her with a crushing blow to the side of the head. "Chaser!" The diving kick sent the kunoichi flying with the clap of a gunshot ringing out, and the moment the jinchuriki managed to blindside his foe, dodged to the side to avoid his own wind blast mixed with water from taking him out.

Guren meanwhile, flew off at speed, a cry of pain echoing out over the island seconds before she crashed into the peak of the mountain they were fighting around, literally taking out the top of it in a hail of debris and rubble.

Upon seeing his foe vanish inside the cloud of dust, Naruto lowered his guard a little and relaxed, breathing out raggedly from the effort of trying to hit her while she was confused. But then, after a minute of staring at the smoking pile of rubble on the very top of the island, he then bore witness to another incredible sight of the rocks beginning to shift and roll, before all of it was blasted away by enormous slabs of crystal jutting out of the mountain's peak to form an all new crown. This unusual development continued on for several moments longer, until a large spear of it shot into the sky to stop level with the height Naruto had secured and was still suspended above the ground using his wind jets.

Standing atop this tall pillar of crystal, a perfectly fine and alive Guren could be seen with her arms folded, blood trickling from the corner of her mouth and a smirk on her face. In spite of the blow that buried her under tons of rock, the woman was able to bounce back from it in fine style, and the moment she was up, slapped her hands together to form a seal. Upon concentrating her chakra, more rumbling followed, which was quickly accompanied by the sight of the gigantic slabs of crystal she'd produced from the rock levitating into the air to hover around her as if they were in orbit.

"Shoton: Ochiruyama!" (Crystal Release: Mountain Fall)

Gritting his teeth, Naruto leaned forward and blasted towards the woman at full speed, intent on taking her down with his wind jets spewing out all they got. Before he could get even half way across the skies however, Guren responded to his approach with gusto, throwing both hands forward that in turn hurled the floating boulders of crystal orbiting her towards the blonde haired Jonin. All at once, every single one of the two dozen rocks rocketed towards the jinchuriki in an unbroken cluster, who looked up with an exclamation of surprise at the spread and, attempting to stop his flight prematurely, crossed both hands over his face before colliding with the incoming mass.

The rain of boulders smashed into him like a train, practically squashing him before they went plowing through the jungle several dozen yards behind him. The masses of rock hard crystals literally ripped through the trees, tearing a trench through the terrain and leaving a massive gap in the woods. When the boulders eventually coasted to a stop, many of them laid scattered along the ruined landscape while most of them were piled on top of one another, with ground, trees, roots and all sorts of jungle crap wedged between the slabs.

Jumping back down to ground zero from the peak of the island, Guren then strolled over to the spot she'd dumped her opponent. Pausing when she was several yards away from the smoldering mass of crystals and standing at the beginning of the trench she'd carved, the woman, confident she'd managed to flatten her foe, then recoiled when she saw the crystal boulders shift, before a whole bunch of them were sent blasting towards her, propelled by ejection points of wind.

Gritting her teeth, the woman held her hand forward and fired an invisible blast of chakra, which allowed her to shatter the crystal boulders she'd created approaching her back into dust particles, dispelling the Jet Hand prints they were stamped with and effectively rendering the surprise attack useless. Feeling the hot winds of her crystal's particles blow past her, Guren glared towards the heart of the pile, where she saw her opponent standing inside of the crater looking banged up and was glaring at her with his eyes reflecting nothing but seriousness and anger.

Spitting out blood, Naruto quickly brought both hands up and formed his familiar cross-fingered hand seal, lining up his target directly in the center of it before putting his chakra to good use. "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!" (Shadow Clone Technique) The second he spoke the incantation, dozens of copies sprung up all around him and, without a moment wasted, charged in all at once. The platoon of orange wearing doppelgangers crisscrossed as they made their advance on the woman, with many springing at her from the ground and coming down on her from above.

Frowning, Guren brought her arms up and, focusing her chakra around the fore parts, produced a mass of crystals that began to gather and take shape. "Shoton: Suisho To!" (Crystal Release: Jade Crystal Blade) The second she spoke the incantation, the blue crystal plates formed into two blades, which she then held out and assumed a defensive fighting stance. "You wish to dance with me? Very well. I accept your invitation." With the flat ends of her blades flashing under the light of the sun, the woman allowed a smirk to take hold before intercepting the kunai blows from the clones coming at her from all fronts.

Sparks flying, the woman blocked the first wave, six clones driving into her with knives. However, the moment they lunged in with their weapons, the squad was then immediately dispatched when their target, using strength and agility they didn't see coming, spun on the spot and threw all of them onto the wind. The resulting flurry of slashes cut the clones to ribbons, dispelling them instantly before the kunoichi began focusing her efforts on individual clones, leaping forward to meet the advance and taking them head on.

Within seconds, the jungle clearing around the crash site of the meteor sized boulders turned into an all-out battleground as the dozens of Naruto shadow clones ran circles around Guren now dancing between the squads, cutting all of the doppelgangers down in their droves. Copies jumped in left and right, only to be knocked out of the air or dodged as the blue haired woman expertly engaged them with a graceful yet lightning fast fighting style, her crystal blades flashing through the air as she chopped down adversary after adversary, dispersing them into the smoke they'd originated from.

Cutting into a copy coming at her from the side, the woman then back flipped to avoid another attacker coming up from behind. She landed behind it and kicked another clone that followed, knocking it into the ground until she was forced to duck a swing from the clone she leapt over striking out when he realized she was behind him. Guren quickly did away with that one with a slash across its chest, before spinning and slicing across the neck of another diving in from her blind spot. Throwing an elbow back into a doppelganger trying to slap a palm into her back, she then mounted his spine with her hand and flipped to crouch atop its shoulders, performing a split kick to a pair of shadow clones jumping at her from both flanks before then springing off of this copy and burying it into the ground at the same time.

Her jump landed her between five more Naruto replicas, which leapt at her at once to try and cut her down, but ended up getting chopped up instead. The flashes of her crystal blades were the only things visible in the air as the entire squad was done away with, but were soon replaced by reinforcements.

Gritting her teeth, Guren leapt into the sky to avoid another three charging clones attempting to tackle her, but was able to avoid them easily. However, just as she was leaping backwards and making a count of the copies that remained, the real Naruto suddenly materialized directly behind her, his back turned to the woman before he performed a perfect summersault in midair and slammed a kick right into the crook of the kunoichi's neck and shoulder. A shout of agony accompanying her stunned expression, Guren was sent spiraling into the ground where she crashed face first in a cloud of debris and dust.

Coughing out spit, the crystal user spun around and glared up at the sky where her opponent was still suspended using his air jets. But the moment her gaze fixed on him, she saw him vanish with a crack of air, which had her eyes widen in shock before a couple of footsteps landing directly behind her brought her face back around. The second Guren looked, the feeling of two hands being pressed against her stomach, followed by the equivalent of a thousand pounds of force, exploded against her chest as she was then sent flying by two Jet Hands being slammed against her diaphragm.

Plowing through trees at bullet speed for a third of a kilometer, Guren's cry died out on the wind when she then crashed into the base of the island's main mountain in the background. As dust and debris blasted up into the air to block out the sky, Naruto, dispelling his remaining clones, took up position at the beginning of the trench his projectile of an opponent had carved through the jungle and threw both hands forward. The moment the appropriate amount of chakra formed in his palms, he unleashed hell.

"Tsubame Rendan!" (Swallow Barrage) With a roar of effort, the boy unleashed a storm of multiple Hien rounds in rapid succession. The blasts of wind rocketed from his palms in a hail, converging on their target's landing spot like missiles and absolutely decimating the already damaged mountain side. More debris flew from the landing zone as the area was bombarded by concussive wind bullets, which struck the rock face with the force of cannon fire, before Naruto inevitably stopped the attack. Lowering his hands, the jinchuriki breathed out at the effort of his assault. "Well? How did you like that?"

Watching the smog lift, Naruto was then shocked to find resting at the bottom of the crater a crystal statue of his opponent, banged up and reflecting the damage of his more than vicious assault. Lying in a sprawled out position, the Suisho Bunshin(Jade Clone) of his foe cracked and splintered, before inevitably transforming into powdered remains, which seeped into the soil beneath it and vanished. The sight had Naruto bare his teeth and narrow his eyes.

"She switched places with a clone? Shit. So if that was a copy, then where is the…" Eyes widening, the blonde spun around when he sensed a presence underground and fixed his glare on the earth several yards away from him.

The moment his attention hit the soil, he then heard a muffled yell from beneath the grass. "Shoton: Omiwatari no Jutsu!" (Crystal Release: The Gods' Crossing Technique) At that exact moment, spears of crystals began jutting out of the earth at high speed, with a line of the massive spikes heading straight towards the jinchuriki.

Alarmed at the sight of the approaching attack, Naruto began back flipping away to avoid the string of crystals, leaping up the ledge of a nearby plateau and avoiding the threat of instant death by impalement. Once he'd secured the advantage of high ground, the blonde clenched his teeth down at the field below, where he saw trees and boulders become absolutely riddled by the sudden forest of crystals that had sprung up seemingly out of nowhere. It was a bone chilling sight, especially when you considered the fact that the strength of those crystals was comparable to that of steel. The thought had the blonde clench his fist nervously.

"Damn it! This woman is ridiculously strong," Naruto mumbled, now beginning to think he may have bitten off more than he could chew with her. She was clearly much more powerful than Tsubaki and Gaara, and had the intelligence of a shinobi three to four years their senior. Hell, she could definitely have Kakashi dancing circles around her with ease the way she was leading him around. That was S-Class skill right there. Her creativity with her jutsu and skill in combat was unquestionable. "Fuck. If I don't find a way around her abilities soon, then I'll just be uselessly burning my chakra dry."

Sensing danger behind him, the boy spun around to see more crystal spikes the size of shacks split the earth and emerge from the rock. As soon as they did and the jinchuriki took a fighting stance, he saw his opponent's face appear in the crystal in front of him, before the original Guren stepped out of it with a smug smile on her face and only a single bruise on her right cheek from the kick he'd landed on her when he sent her into the island's peak.

On the other hand, Naruto was battered, bruised, and bleeding from the head. That was a good collection of wounds to have, considering the fact he'd been buried under tons of crystals before.

"You really know how to show a lady a good time, brat," Guren spoke in a sickeningly sweet tone of voice as she leered at the beaten up runt of a ninja. Dusting her shoulder down, as if this fight wasn't even making her sweat, the woman then adjusted her gloves and set her sights on her adversary. "Getting kicked into a mountain, hit in the back and then blasted through a line of trees. Hell, if that isn't a good time, then I don't know what is. I'll bet you'd be able to give Kimimaro-chan a run for his money as well. The little punk could use a challenge every now and then."

Frowning, Naruto got to his feet and wiped the blood out from above his eye, "Thanks for the compliment, but if you think I'm backing down now just because you've shown off a few fancy tricks, then you've got another thing coming, lady. I'm not going to stop until you're either dead or unconscious at my feet."

Feigning a cringing expression and a pained hiss, Guren grinned, "Such tough words. Do you think you can back them up, little man?"

"Sure. Watch me!" Naruto shouted while forming a hand seal.

"Like hell," Guren grinned, crossing her arms over her chest before swiping them forward, "Kessho: Rokkaku Shuriken: Ranbu!" (Crystal: Hexagonal Shuriken: Wild Dance) The moment she struck out, the blue haired kunoichi unleashed a barrage of snowflake shaped crystals the size of ninja stars hurling towards her opponent. The wave came in hard and fast, the blades spinning like buzz saws on their approach.

However, just when her first barrage of a dozen was set to riddle the boy and turn him into a pincushion, she suddenly saw her attack veer off course and her opponent reappear several yards out of her line of sight. The result was her attack missing him completely.

The stunned Guren then looked to her left, "What the…?!" Unable to comprehend missing her opponent when he was standing right in front of her, she then saw her opponent skip on the spot before vanishing in an orange blur. His increase in speed had the kunoichi bare her teeth and her eyes shoot left, where she then leapt clear into the air and dodged her foe swinging down at her with a killer overhand, a kunai in his grip meant to impale her head. "Fuck me! This kid is quick!" Spinning through the air as she sailed over the side of the plateau, the woman crossed her arms again and hurled a series of crystal senbon down at her opponent.

However, unlike before, while she did see her projectiles make their mark, they passed through her target when Naruto momentarily turned transparent before reverting back to normal. When his eyes locked onto her again, he then vanished in another orange flash.

Balking in shock, the kunoichi looked up, "Geez. He really is fast." Crossing her arms over her head, the woman produced a sheet of crystal over her entire body, her specialized armor coming into play when her opponent reappeared directly above her and slammed a kick straight down on top of the woman's guard. The connecting blow echoed out with the sound of a cannon going off, the force of his blow shattering her armor, before the woman was sent plummeting to the ground at speed.

Crashing through a tree and bouncing off of the solid soil of another clearing, Guren then righted herself and landed on all fours, sliding to a stop before looking up with a glare. Seeing her opponent land, she clicked her tongue and got back up, bringing her hands about and throwing them forward. When she did, she hurled a barrage of thick crystal needles straight at the boy, only to see Naruto's form blur out and zigzag between them at lightning speed, dodging all of her attacks and vanishing completely.

Snarling at another miss, Guren began looking around again to see where he would pop up. However, what she got instead was the most outrageous display of speed she'd ever seen when multiple after images of her foe began running circles around her, kicking up dust and causing her eyes to shoot all over the place in paranoia. A bead of sweat running down the side of her face at seeing her opponent literally multiple himself using his speed, the crystal user brought her hand up and formed another jade blade along her arm.

"Come on? Are you just going to run circles around me the entire-ARGH!" the kunoichi shouted, only to be plowed into from the side by an orange blur zipping past her. Stumbling across the clearing, the woman gripped her side where she was nailed with a shot to the ribs, before her body was suddenly hurled in another direction by Naruto coming at her again, and then a third time, and then a fourth time, and so on. Soon enough, Guren started to get smacked about like a pinball by her opponent coming in at her from all sides, attacking her from the platoon of after images he had dashing around her, disorientating her, and knocking her senseless.

Sparks flying off of Guren repeatedly as well as the sounds of dull thuds, Naruto gritted his teeth as he stayed hidden within his Zanzo no Jutsu (Afterimage Technique), and his glare fixed firmly on his opponent. "She's still covered in that crystal armor of hers. That shit has got to go." Taking up his kunai again for his thirtieth run of her, the jinchuriki ran several more laps before vanishing completely from sight using his shunshin.

Her stumbling ceasing, a now more bruised up Guren glared up through the pain and spat, the visible cracks covering her body from the transparent armor of crystal protecting her from the assault beginning to heal over as well. In spite of being able to defend from his kunai strikes, the armor didn't stop her from feeling blunt force trauma, especially when her opponent hit like a train. The sensation of getting smacked around had her curse.

"That's it. Enough with this stupid game of here we go round the mulberry bush." Slapping her hands together into a seal, Guren bared her teeth and focused her chakra. A split second later, an enormous crystal jutted out of the ground at her feet and encased her completely inside the transparent rock.

The moment the crystal emerged, so did Naruto, who drove in with his blade, only for it to slam into the barrier and have a loud crack to follow a split second later. Shouting out in agony, the blonde leapt away at speed while holding his wrist, at the same time releasing his knife before skidding across the ground to a stop. Wincing, the jinchuriki looked down at his hand.

"Fuck, I broke my wrist." He didn't see that coming. The woman defended herself with an absolute defense just like Gaara's, only hers came as a big surprise to the audience as opposed to it being a recurring element in her style. Biting back the pain from his attack being parried the way it was, Naruto fixed his gaze back onto his adversary and scowled. "Alright. This is crazy. How many more moves can this woman dish out?"

Grinning from within her protective barrier, Guren then flew through even more hand seals before ending on Boar. "Let's see how you like this one, sweetie. Shoton: Suishoheki Hachi no Jin!" (Crystal Release: Jade Crystal Wall Eighth Formation) The moment she finished gathering chakra, the trembling of the ground drew the blonde's shocked gaze to the floor, where he then saw enormous slabs of crystal the size of buildings begin shooting up from underground and towards him in an effort to trap him.

Seeing the crystals catch trees and fast freeze them inside the large crystal pillars, Naruto immediately deduced that there was no way in hell he was going to get caught by those, and teleported the hell out of there. Within seconds, the entire clearing and a great portion of the jungle surrounding them the pair were once fighting in was filled to the brim with enormous towers of crystals fanning out like a flower, capturing trees and leveling more of the jungle as the widespread attack took its full effect.

Reemerging from his shunshin in another clearing just outside of the range of the landscape changing jutsu, Naruto glared back towards the village of mineral standing before him, and remained standing there until he saw Guren once again step out of the wall she'd created.

Apparently she could walk through her own element like she was a part of it. That sucked… for him of course. But then again, it was her kekkei genkai.

The kunoichi grinned, "So… ready to give up now?"

Naruto growled, "Hell no!" He then vanished in another shunshin…

Only to walk right into a counter when Guren summoned a twister made up of crystal needles to spin around her, before throwing her hands forward, which in turn hurled the wall of shiny projectiles towards the invisibly fast jinchuriki. "Shoton: Shuriken Ranbu!" (Crystal Release: Shuriken Wild Dance)

The wall of needles fanned out like a wave, the attack literally knocking Naruto out of the time zone he'd entered in an instant and forcibly reversing his flight path. With his arms folded protectively over his face and eyes shut tightly, the entire front side of his body was cut into by the hail of deadly weaponry.

Upon being sent flying at the force of the sudden attack, Naruto hit the ground hard, rolled once across the dirt before then jumping back to his feet and sliding to a stop. Teeth bared and biting back against the pain now racking his form, the boy glared up towards his opponent with a hard scowl, where he then saw Guren smile and wag a finger at him.

"That speed-freak shit won't work on me twice. Running can only take you so far in a fight, boy."

Clicking his tongue and remembering that that was exactly the same thing Kotohime did during her fight with him, Naruto quickly brushed and yanked out as many of the crystals embedded in his body as he could, before then flicking his thumb over one of the entry wounds and slamming his hand into the ground. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" (Summoning Technique) The moment he executed his next move, a white cloud of smoke exploded around him, where it was then quickly parted by a spirited wave of a pair of wings and a flap of a large tail feather. To go along with this grand reveal, the air also became filled by the screech of an enormous bird.

In that instant, Saito made his grand appearance to the stage.

Guren, blinking in surprise at the sight of the summon, cracked a smile and crossed her arms, "Oh. That's interesting."

Blade talons scraping along the floor, the giant king of the swallows with the golden crest emblazoned above his brow glared across at the woman standing several yards away. Taking note of the crystal mountain positioned directly behind her and the fact she was staring him down with a smug grin in play, he then glanced over his shoulder and saw his partner, whom was covered in holes, cuts, and senbon made of crystal, and was bleeding out all over the place.

Upon giving the jinchuriki a once over, a frown then appeared on Saito's face, "I see you're getting your ass kicked again."

"Hello to you too, Saito," Naruto chuckled with a grin. "Think you can help me out? I'm having a bit of trouble against this one."

"Heh. No problem." Fanning his wings again, the giant bird crouched low before the boy and fixed his sights back onto the woman standing out of range and watching the pair silently. "A simple flap of my feathers should be enough to bring this adversary down."

Upon seeing the animal's predatory eyes fall upon her, Guren then allowed a sly smirk to cross her lips before raising her hands and slapping them together to form a seal. After flipping to a ram seal immediately afterwards, the ground at her feet began to tremble violently, moments before an enormous length of crystal shot out of the wall behind her and began snaking through the air at speed. Within seconds, the enormous structure of hardened matter took on the form of a monstrous, snake-like dragon with antler-like horns, blue eyes, and a jagged body made even deadlier by the fact it was constructed entirely out of the diamond hard substance.

"Shoton: Hasho Koryu!" (Crystal Release: Tearing Crystal Falling Dragon)

Saito and Naruto then watched in astonishment as the large serpent made from the same stuff she'd used in her last attack, with a size that could easily wrap around the Hokage Building, landed on the ground directly behind Guren and slithered in front of her protectively. When its massive, spear-like claws dug into the earth and its gaze leered across at the jinchuriki and his summon with a threatening snarl, the kunoichi, still standing visible behind her dragon's immense form, grinned widely.

"Alright brat… time for round two."

OOO

(With Tayuya)

Springing through the trees as fast as she could, the plucky red haired musician gritted her teeth in frustration, ignoring the claw mark in her side as she tried to keep ahead of the vicious animal chasing after her. However, it wasn't any ordinary creature of habit or predator of the night that was pursuing her shadow, but something far more dangerous and persistent.

As it turned out, the wolf wearing the armor and cape that had attacked her before wasn't an ordinary summon or animal at all. It was in fact a woman, who had this unusual ability to transform into a half-wolf, half-human hybrid, and even a fully fledged adult wolf capable of physically impossible feats. The moment their fight was taken into the trees, the young lady quickly displayed an astonishing level of agility and flexibility, able to dodge Tsubaki's lightning bolt from above and all of the shuriken and kunai Tayuya started lobbing at her when she started chasing her between the trees. Using the natural setting to her advantaged, the she-wolf was able to leap through the branches and off of trunks at an astonishing speed, keeping the redhead moving while every once in a while managing to intercept her and take pot shots at her when her back was turned.

Not only was she insanely quick, but she was strong to boot and armed to the teeth… literally.

The woman had actually taken a chomp at Tayuya and got her in the arm, which now had a row of teeth marks embedded in her flesh and was bleeding quite a lot. The stinging pain of the wounds she'd already taken from the bitch making passes on her had the musician grit her teeth and shake her head.

"I'd better not turn into a fucking werewolf at a full moon. If I do, then I'm going to be fucking pissed, you stupid, mangy, dick-sucking, slobbering cow!" Tayuya thought, leaping off of another tree and avoiding her opponent when she came lashing at her from above, carving into the wood instead of her spine. Flipping through the air and landing on a branch across the way, the redhead then pulled out a cluster of kunai and hurled them at the creature, only to see the wolf vanish in a blur and dodge the barrage. "Damn it! She's all over the place! I can't get a lock." She wasn't just agile, but her taijutsu was sublime.

The enhancements granted to her by her wolf-like characteristics were really giving her a physical advantage in this area. Were the circumstances different and Naruto had ended up fighting her, this competition would be easily decided. The blonde would be able to beat this joker in close combat effortlessly.

Her on the other hand… Tayuya figured she would need a bit more practice before she was at his level.

However, that didn't mean she couldn't try.

Diving off of the branch she'd secured, the kunoichi spun around in mid fall and lashed out above her with her knife, a loud clang ringing out followed by a shower of sparks when her attack met the claws of her armored opponent making her reappearance directly behind her. Their respective attacks being deflected, the wolf-girl gave a loud snarl before seeing the falling redhead flip through the air and land safely on the ground.

"Nice move, girly!" the wolf-woman snarled, her red eyes piercing the shadows of the jungle as she crouched down upon the branch she'd landed on and leered at the kunoichi far below. "You're a lot tougher than I gave you credit for. I have to say, you've lasted a hell of a lot longer than those pitiful fools with the musical note headbands I fought with earlier."

Glaring up at her feral adversary, Tayuya saw that the armored female had now taken on a more humanoid appearance. Having once appeared as a fully formed wolf, she'd now reverted back to her normal form, only she still had one or two wolf-like aspects on her body. This included the sharp nails protruding from her gloves, fangs, and piercing red, animal eyes. It was a freaky sight, but the kunoichi wasn't deterred by it in the least.

"I'd like to ask who the hell you are and what the hell you're doing on this Godforsaken island, but I think I'd rather just kill your ass and be done with this," Tayuya stated, pulling out her flute and rising to her feet.

The armored woman chuckled, "My thoughts exactly. But just so you know who exactly is going to be putting you six feet under in the next few minutes, the name's Fugai."

"Tayuya," the redhead shot back with a deepening scowl, quickly finding this conversation boring. "The feeling's mutual."

The golden haired individual then jabbed a thumb into her ample chest confidently and stuck it out in an alluring pose. "Now that that's settled, your pretty little ass is mine."

"Bring it on, bitch."

Spinning her flute between her fingers, Tayuya then brought the piece to her lips and began playing a sweet melody. The sound waves of her instrument rippled out in all directions as fast as they were allowed to travel on the wind, a phenomenon that did not go amiss by the armored fighter in the canopy above. Balking slightly when her senses picked up the dangers behind the melody and feeling her settings begin to distort from the sound waves, Fugai then responded to the incoming attack instinctively.

Crouching down, she sprang from her branch and back into the forest. Letting out a laugh when she managed to get ahead of the music, the female werewolf then made it back down to ground level and, upon digging all four of her limbs into the earth, inflated her chest and reeled forward. "Whatever spell you're trying to put on me, I'll tell you right now that it won't work!" Upon gathering the right amount of energy in her throat, she then opened her mouth and unleashed a powerful howl, which took the form of an invisible blast of wind.

The sound waves ripped through the jungle with concussive force, tearing apart both trees and boulders before colliding with their intended target. Tayuya, not expecting to be taken down by that kind of attack, let out a cry of shock as she was knocked tumbling backwards across the hard ground, hitting every part of her except her face. After rolling for several yards, she then slammed her breaks into the ground and slid to a stop. Letting out a huff at the earthshaking attack, the red haired girl then glared back up in the direction the shockwaves had come from, where she saw her opponent let out a bark before advancing on her at high speed.

Frowning, Tayuya leapt forward when she saw her opponent lunge in at her with a snarl, planting a foot on the back of her head and using the temporary platform to springboard off of her. The kick sent Fugai tumbling forward and onto the ground, where both opponents ended up switching positions. When the two landed and righted themselves respectively, they then spun around and rushed at one another once more.

Ducking under her opponent's swings when she attempted to claw her, Tayuya eventually drew a kunai and took a slash at her from below, only for her adversary to duck under it and slam a kick into her stomach that sent her flying through the woods. Blasting through dozens of bushes, the redhead slowed her retreat by digging her feet into the earth and, after running a thumb over one of the scars in her side, slammed her palm into the grass, an intense expression in play as she focused her chakra.

"Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" Her incantation was immediately followed by an explosion of white smoke, which clogged up the entire area and had Fugai look up in momentary surprise. When the wolf woman saw the smoke clear, she was greeted by the sight of the musician's three enormous doki, which crouched low on the spot where they were called upon and brought their weapons to bear.

Stopping safely behind them, Tayuya pulled up her flute once again with a smirk. "I can guarantee you'll enjoy this performance." She then began to play, the melody she started filling the area with getting her three giant puppets to jerk back to life and start lumbering forward, with the one wielding the club dropping the hitting end repeatedly into one of its open hands in a threatening manner.

The sight of the approaching ogres and the sound of their one-ton footsteps had Fugai back up a tad, before the wolf woman allowed another grin to spread across her lips and expose her razor sharp teeth.

"My, my, you really are full of surprises," the woman exclaimed, at the same time running her tongue over her upper lip excitedly. "I guess I can play around with your toys for a little while. Let's see what they can do."

OOO

(With Tsubaki)

The site that was serving as the stage for Tsubaki and Temujin's battle had transformed from a once quaint, misty jungle setting, to what could only be described as a second No-Man's-Land. The match that had unfolded since the two knocked heads with their respective, opening swings had been as intense as Naruto and Guren's battle on the other side of the island's peak, where the entire jungle area outside of the cave entrance was subjected to the most brutal forces of nature imaginable.

Along with the smoking craters that had formed from both the kunoichi and the knight hurling long-range techniques at one another, trees had been ripped from their roots and knocked over, canopies had been set alight, once proud rocky tors ten stories high and limestone plateaus had been reduced to piles of rubble, and a formerly grassy clearing had been glassed from the heat of the scorching blasts the two ended up exchanging. The place had been brought to utter ruin, like a battle from one of the last great shinobi wars had just been fought, but instead of platoons of shinobi engaging one another, this was just a duel between two incredibly powerful rivals.

Needless to say, this previously quiet piece of land on the edge of Kirigakure territory had seen far better days.

Gritting her teeth when she ducked under the sword that came swinging at her, the orange haired Jonin of Kirigakure was able to avoid getting cut into by her persistent foe by spinning to the side. Keeping on her toes, the girl looked back to see Temujin coming right after her, the white knight lashing out with lightning fast, accurate strikes of his long sword, his blade carving through the air in flashes as the girl excessively ducked, dodged and weaved around his leading blows. When he spiraled in, using his shield to defend the whole left side of his body, he attempted to decapitate her with a backhanded blow, but the kunoichi managed to leap away to avoid it.

Rolling over a boulder that was standing in her way, Tsubaki used that opportunity to swiftly gather electricity around her hand before firing it in the form of a small bolt from her finger, which she attempted to hit her opponent with. The white knight however was undeterred, and Temujin effortlessly batted the attack aside with a simple swing of his sword before continuing his pursuit of his opponent.

Landing several yards away on the other side of the rock, Tsubaki cursed when she then saw the entire slab get diced up like a pizza before her opponent came charging out through the dust after her. With his shield leading him, the girl stepped back into a defensive position and growled. "This is ridiculous. This boy is only about as strong as that Neji Hyuuga, but his sense of timing is exactly like Chojuro's and his weapons are blocking everything I throw at him." Not to mention there was something off about this teenage warrior's techniques that had the orange haired girl continuously backing away for space whenever he closed in on her.

For some strange reason, the girl could not faze through this young man's attacks as she did with others. At the start of their fight, when he came in with his sword in a stabbing motion and the girl was forced to avoid when she sensed an unsettling disturbance in the air, she then received a shallow cut to the cheek that had her immediately become wary of the knight's abilities and his claymore style blade. From that point onwards, Tsubaki then spent the entire time engaging him at middle range, because whenever she attempted to hit him from the side or sneak up on him by aiming for his back, the boy always either had his sword pointed in her direction or his impenetrable shield ready to block her blows at a moment's notice.

The way he naturally assumed his stance and the way he fought ensured he was able to defend himself from all sides regardless of his position. On top of that, his taijutsu, though it mostly involved a lot of surprisingly graceful, almost feathery-light movements and an upright stance with his left or right hand orientation facing front, the boy was exceptionally good at close quarters and was swift enough to match her blow for blow. But thanks to his well-rounded combination of attack and defense, this kid was proving to be a much greater challenge than the kunoichi expected. Hell, he was proving to be an even harder person to fight than Naruto.

Not to mention since the beginning of the match his expression hadn't changed from that stoic frown, which irked Tsubaki to no end.

"He isn't even trying!" the kunoichi thought, deciding to change the pace and leapt forward for an assault. The moment she did, she cocked her foot back before driving it forward in a flying side kick, with her entire right heel glowing blue. "Alright then. See if you can block this! Raiton: Raigeki no Yari!" (Lightning Release: Spear of Lightning) A beam of pure blue energy then shot off of her foot, which was immediately intercepted by the boy's sword when he thrust it straight into the approaching laser with a stabbing motion.

The result was a loud shockwave ringing out when the two attacks collided, and Tsubaki's blast was split into multiple bolts that shot out in all directions, peppering the surrounding jungle and downing several trees in the process. When the excess remains of her attack faded away, it left the air clear and allowed the young girl to leap back to avoid the slash from her opponent who started advancing on her once again.

Cranking his weapon back, Temujin focused his glare on his foe and dashed forward as fast as he could, literally flying across the ground towards the girl at a surprising speed.

Frowning when she saw her foe approaching at speed, Tsubaki acted quickly, holding both hands in front of her, one over the other, and allowed electricity to course between her fingers, before her entire form started to glow blue. "Raiton: Yata no Kagami!" (Lightning Release: Eight Yata Mirrors) Once she was fully charged, her entire body broke apart into countless photons of lightning, which shot up into the sky and vanished from Temujin's line of sight in the blink of an eye. The teleportation was so fast that the white knight ended up lunging at thin air, his blade passing through nothing before he skidded to a stop and glared towards the clouds above.

When Tsubaki reappeared, she brought both hands up, crossed her arms, and began charging electricity inside of her palms once again. As a result, two orbs of lightning began to crackle between her fingers, electrical bolts flying off of her and striking the ground below at random, as if a storm was about to be unleashed. The sight of the woman charging her next attack had Temujin immediately take up a defensive stance, with the young Jonin glaring down at him from her advantageous position until her jutsu was completed seconds later.

"Raiton: Yasakani no Magatama!" (Lightning Release: Eight Shaku Curved Jewel) Then, in the blink of an eye and a yell of effort, Tsubaki unleashed the full power of her widest spread attack, a rain of millions of blue energy balls raining down from the sky when her hands were thrown outwards.

The hail of electrical spheres charged towards Temujin, who showed a momentary look of surprise before bringing his shield up to block the attack. A split second later, the entire jungle surrounding him, including the boy himself, was hammered away by countless bolts of electricity drilling into the earth. The hail of lightning shots proceeded to decimate the entire area, incinerating trees, exploding rock, and generally bombarding the entire area until it was either leveled out or covered in craters. All at once, the shower of deadly energy attacks spanning for hundreds of meters exploded in a series of consecutive blasts, lighting up the entire area and practically sterilizing it.

Once her attack ended, the Jonin from Kiri let out a breath of effort before dropping back down to ground level, landing several yards away from the wall of flames that had kicked up at the conclusion of her jutsu. Glaring through the smoke, the kunoichi expected the battle to be won and her enemy to have been slain, only to watch on in shock when the fire suddenly parted and a perfectly alright Temujin came strolling back into view, his large tower shield held up in front of him. Though the tool he'd used to defend was smoking from the head of it, the surface remained practically untouched, causing Tsubaki to bite her teeth in frustration.

"Damn it. Even that didn't work." Seeing as how long range attacks weren't having any effect, Tsubaki then decided to test this boy up close. Bringing out a pair of kunai from her pouch and holding them in forward facing grips, the lightning user gritted her teeth and flew forward, disappearing in a blue flash.

Spotting her opponent coming in from up ahead, Temujin brought his shield up and blocked the driving blow from the Jonin's knife when she came in with a thrust motion. Sparks flying and a loud clang ringing out, the orange haired girl then proceeded to fire away at the boy's shield with repeated strikes from her duel blades, embers flashing through the air when every stroke from her knifes crashed against the ridiculously hard defense. A chorus of battle ringing out over the trees, Tsubaki gradually began to drive her opponent back, and pressed home with her offensive.

Grunting in effort, the orange haired girl started lashing at the boy's shield more viciously, attempting to get around it, only to have it moved to block her path when she swung out to the side. She then slashed down at it with greater speed, a shower of sparks flying past the gap at one of the shield's corners, where Temujin's unnerving and emotionless gaze could be seen peeking around at his feverishly attacking foe.

Backing up some more, Temujin moved his shield left and right repeatedly, parrying more strikes before suddenly closing in on the girl when a gap appeared in her combination.

Tsubaki's expression then took on a brief look of shock when her field of vision was obscured by the boy's shield. This effectively broke the girl's rhythm, allowing Temujin to slip around his defense and lash out at her with his sword. Responding quickly to the counter, the kunoichi blocked his upward swing with a cross block from her blades, sparks flying when she was knocked several yards away. The second her feet touched down, the white knight sprinted forward to engage.

Dashing at Tsubaki at surprising speed, the boy thrust his sword forward for an obvious strike, forcing the Jonin to try and parry it, only to suddenly feint and drive the bottom edge of his shield into the girl's chest. The surprise blow from his shield plowed into the girl and knocked her off her feet, the kunoichi letting out a grunt of surprise when the force of the attack shook her up.

In the midst of the hit, Tsubaki glared down at the weapon smashing into her.

"He struck with his shield?!" Baffled, the girl was then thrown across the field once more when Temujin followed through with his blow, sending her flipping across the clearing before she eventually skidded to a stop. When her momentum ceased, the girl glared up furiously, her expression twisted in anger. "Shit! This guy's fighting style is absurd! I can't work around it!" She then saw him charge in guard first, a smirk on his face as he boldly advanced on her position, getting the kunoichi to frown. "Don't act so smug. I'm not done yet."

Electricity crackling off of her in rage, the girl blasted forward, meeting the teen in the center of the field and clashing blades with him once more. Hammering repeatedly at the barrier blocking her path, the girl would periodically move back to parry the counter strikes thrown with his sword arm, before then attempting to hit him through his defense when he pulled back. But at every turn, no matter what they tried, both opponents ended up getting nowhere, their attacks barely grazing the other as they exchanged blow after blow in a flurry of lightning fast attacks.

Eventually, the monotony of the trade off was broken when Tsubaki's form suddenly became incased in lighting, her frustrations getting the better of her as she then tried to force her way through. Chakra spiking when her lightning armor enveloped her, the kunoichi drove forward with her kunai with a powerful stabbing motion, digging into the shield and the tip of her blade grinding into it with battering force. The attack had Temujin slide across the ground, expression conveying a sense of shock at the power behind the technique before spinning around, allowing his opponent to sail past him in a flash of lightning. The bolt eventually landed several yards away, where the orange haired Jonin emerged glaring back at her foe with a deep frown on her face.

Lightning aura dissipating, Tsubaki brought both kunai up again and held a defensive position.

"You have splendid reaction time," the Jonin remarked with a frown, "And your shield is as tough as a diamond. What the hell is it made of?"

The white knight merely brought his sword around and pointed it at her. "My weapons were forged by the finest craftsmen from my continent. This shield in particular was created during the wars of the First Age, and belonged to one of the great kings of the human realm. It can deflect any and all physical attacks… even yours."

Tsubaki blinked in slight surprise before smirking, "I thought the cat had your tongue." When she saw his gaze harden on her, she returned his gesture in kind and crouched low. "Even so, there's no way I'm going to let you win this fight. You may be able to hit me at base speed… but how will you fair when I'm coming at you at shunshin speed?" Sparks of electricity shooting off of her once again, the kunoichi then turned to the side and vanished in a flash of lightning, with a cloud of dust settling being the only indication of the direction she'd traveled.

Losing sight of his foe completely, Temujin gritted his teeth and brought his sword around. Swinging it out in an arc, a glowing green symbol suddenly appeared on his chest plate before fading away, a phenomenon that was slowly followed by another when, after holding out his claymore, his blade suddenly ignited and a liquid green energy began spewing off of it like a raging flame.

Just before he could do anything with it however, he brought his shield up to his side and deflected a barrage of lightning bolts that came flying at him from his blind spot, the attacks ramming into him before bouncing off to hit the surrounding area. Immediately after which the boy then spun around and, using his same shield, blocked a large bolt of lightning that came shooting at him from the other side, the entity cloaked in crackling energy colliding with him at full speed and sending him sliding across the ground.

Digging two trenches into the earth with his boots, Temujin stopped himself and glared up, sweating nervously as he was barely able to keep track of his now teleporting foe. "She's increased her speed and is moving around the area faster than the human eye can track her." Upon seeing a shot of electricity fly past him over his shoulder, the young man's gaze narrowed as he retook his stance. "No matter… I can still turn this around." And that was precisely what he aimed to do next.

With his sword still engulfed in the liquid-green energy, the boy loaded his weapon arm and, after cranking his blade back and taking aim with it, sliced it through the air in a 360 degree arc, the energy output on his sword skyrocketing and flooding across the entire area in a wave. The power behind it tore across the ground like a hurricane, blasting rubble and tree remains across their portion of the island in all directions.

"Rising Thunder!" Temujin roared, laying waste to the whole quarter of the landmass with a single stroke of his blade, the energy rippling across the battlefield with great speed.

Moments later, a part of the energy wave struck something traveling through the air, with Tsubaki emerging out of her lightning form with an expression of horror slapped across her face as she was literally knocked out of the sky. The energy attack crashed into her like a tsunami, the force of which cut into her like an actual blade, which had her cough up blood before being sent hurling across the ruined landscape caused by her earlier jutsu. The Jonin bounced repeatedly and painfully over the rolling hillsides, grunting with each impact before eventually losing all momentum and coming to an abrupt stop. Brought to her hands and knees, bleeding profusely from the mouth and a mark slapped across her chest and stomach resembling third degree burns, it became obvious that Tsubaki had taken a really bad hit.

Groaning in agony, the stunned kunoichi glared down at the scorched floor she was lying on for several seconds, before then looking up towards her opponent, whom she could see striding towards her, blade and shield in hand and the former still burning with the fiery green wind energy. With his helmet covering his head and casting an eerie shadow over his blood red eyes that pierced through the gap of his visor, the sight of his glare had Tsubaki grit her teeth and her gaze shimmer in terror.

"W-What the hell are you?"

OOO

(With Naruto)

The sky above the island became almost akin to a raging storm as Saito, the magnificent swallow summon and ruler of his kind, battled it out with the enormous crystal dragon the enemy had conjured up to do battle with him. Due to the fact that the dragon was sentient in nature and had skin as tough as steel armor, the giant bird was having quite a bit of trouble subduing the damn thing, especially since it was also capable of flight, much like its master.

The two animals battled each other above the land, with Saito going in for sweeping attacks of the artificial beast and attempting to take it either at the back of its head or along its body. He even fired several wind blades at it from his wings and tried clawing at it with the spear hooks fixed to his talons, but all he managed to do was scratch and chip the dragon at several different spots.

It was a tough fight for the bird… but not as tough as the fight that was now unfolding for Naruto down below.

Having previously fought on even grounds with the dangerous woman that had separated him from his teammates, the blonde was now fighting defensively just to stay alive.

Kicking off the ground at speed, creating a shockwave that punched a deep crater into the earth, Guren propelled herself towards her opponent across the rocky, uneven clearing, a smirk worn proudly on her face as she advanced on the blonde in the blink of an eye. Her speedy approach had the jinchuriki grit his teeth irritably, before he then swayed back to a ridiculous angle to dodge the kick she threw at him. When her leg pulled in after the miss, the blonde bolted upright again and responded with a roundhouse kick of his own, sending it straight into the woman's head.

The blue haired kunoichi brought an arm up and blocked it instantly, managing to deflect the force with a scowl before flipping forward onto her hands. When she did, she dropped a heel kick right on top of her opponent, the youngster expertly sliding across the ground at an odd angle and dodging the foot, which buried into the ground with an ear-splitting crack. As soon as her foot impaled the earth, Naruto responded immediately, and countered. Using his hand to pivot, he curled up his body before unloading a kick right into Guren's face while she was in the process of removing her foot from the ground.

The boy's blow landed with the sound of a gunshot, cocking the woman's head to the side and sending blood flying out of her mouth. In spite of receiving the staggering attack, which would have knocked out any other foe, Guren's face twisted into one of anger and she came back around with a snarl, grabbing the boy's ankle and violently pulling him through the air for a toss.

However, just as she was proceeding to throw him one-handedly, Naruto managed to use his natural flexibility to twist himself toward the woman and unload another kick with his free leg into the side of her head. The blow crashed into her mug, forcing the kunoichi to release him prematurely and allowing him to leap back to safety. As soon as his feet touched ground and his left fist cocked back, the jinchuriki then fired a Hien round straight towards the woman at bullet speed.

Smirk appearing, Guren responded immediately to the incoming round by throwing both hands up and fanning her fingers on either side of her face. "Shoton: Hen'i-kyo!" (Crystal Release: Mirror Displacement) In the blink of an eye, a pink, crystal mirror formed into a perfect circle appeared directly in front of her face, which the wind blast ended up hitting and getting absorbed into before the mirror vanished a split second later.

Recoiling in shock, Naruto gritted his teeth and took a defensive stance, at the same time failing to notice the same mirror appear directly behind him until his sixth sense picked it up. Spinning around, the boy was unable to react in time when the Hien round he'd fired at Guren came shooting out of the mirror like it'd just been portaled, and struck the ground where he was standing flying out of the blast radius trailing smoke. Shaken up by his own attack, the young Jonin leapt across the field, where he was quickly pursued by Guren dashing after him.

Growling, Naruto hit the brakes and skidded to a stop, spinning around to see his adversary lunging at him with her fist cocked back and encased in crystal, which she aimed to plow straight through him. Responding to the incoming threat, the jinchuriki crouched down and sprang forward in a blur. It was when Guren swung out at him that Naruto's approaching form suddenly became transparent, which resulted in the woman's attack passing straight through him, before the boy faded past her completely.

The after image had the kunoichi's eyes widen and skid to a stop, where she then looked over her shoulder in time to see the rest of the jinchuriki's transparent form fade into nothingness.

Distracted, the Jonin from sound was completely taken by surprise when she received a knee straight to the face by her opponent materializing out of the air in front of her and throwing the attack. The second he hit, the jinchuriki vanished in a shunshin, his form reappearing directly behind the stumbling woman above the ground. Spinning through the air, Naruto chucked a roundhouse kick straight into her face when Guren spun around to try and track him, and ended up eating his shin with the sound of a cannon ringing out on impact. Upon landing his kick, the blonde once again vanished in a shunshin.

Completely disoriented from being smacked around by the kid, Guren gave a loud growl, ignoring the bruises on her face as her eyes cut about in paranoia. "Fucking hell, I know I've said this before, but this kid is outrageously fast." Eyes shooting left, she balled her hands into fists and focused her chakra. "Fine. If that's the way you want to play it." Her gaze shifted again to her right, where she missed the sight of her opponent flickering back into view directly over her shoulder opposite her gaze, a kunai in hand and body crouched low to the ground.

Attack loaded, Naruto let out a yell and sprung at the woman, swinging around at her with his knife, which he aimed straight for her jugular. He was just inches away when the woman recoiled in shock at finally catching sight of the blonde coming in from her blind spot, with his blade right in her face…

But then that moment of surprise was quickly replaced by a cocky smirk and, all of a sudden, Guren did something completely unexpected.

"Shoton: Kessho Shunshin." (Crystal Release: Crystal Body Flicker)

In the blink of an eye, her body began breaking up into particles of crystals, her entire person disassembling at light speed as the cube shaped shards slipped away and dispersed into the air at an alarming rate, ending with her entire form fading away until she was completely gone. The instantaneous execution of this unique teleportation resulted in Naruto's swing missing its mark by miles, as his kunai ended up impaling nothing but air as he then spun himself to the ground.

Eyes widening in disbelief, the blonde leapt away from the spot his opponent had previously been standing in, his stunned gaze fixing on the air ahead until he noticed the same particles his opponent had used to escape reforming in front of his chest. Seeing a crystal hand form out of thin air, the boy gasped when he saw an explosive tag igniting in the center of its palm, before the rest of Guren's body, encased in crystal armor, rematerialized with her other arm wrapped around him as she shoved the explosive tag into his chest. A split second later, a fiery explosion engulfed Naruto, the boy letting out a yell of agony as the blast ripped into his skin.

When the flames ebbed away and the smoke began to disperse, Naruto stumbled out of the cloud with burns all over his front and his clothes torn to shreds. Expression showcasing his frustration and shock, despite jumping back enough to avoid the brunt of the blast that would have blown him to pieces, the blonde glared towards the cloud to see Guren's form bleed out of it as well, only she didn't emerge alone.

Hovering in front of her was another mirror, only this time it was shaped into a snowflake and had multiple circular lenses floating behind it, which grew smaller in size the closer they got to her. With its forward surface as well as its other mirrors glowing white hot, the woman behind the formation of crystal could be seen grinning excitedly as she then held her hands out in front and aimed the telescopic weapon in the jinchuriki's direction. Naruto only had a split second to balk before he saw the lens at the front suddenly form a glowing white ball directly in front of it, which shrunk down to size before the unthinkable happened.

"Shoton: Kami no Ya!" (Crystal Release: Divine Arrow) As soon as her attack was loaded, Guren unleashed it, the white sphere of energy hovering in front of her crystal telescope firing a sharp beam of energy that flew towards Naruto at light speed.

Sensing the danger behind the blast, the jinchuriki quickly leapt to the side, avoiding the attack that grazed past him and burnt his shoulder. The second he touched down safely, Naruto then looked in the direction the ball of light had gone, and watched it literally tear through the jungle, disintegrating and blowing an entire line of trees away before reaching the coast of the island. From there, the attack continued traveling onwards across the ocean, till it inevitably reached one of the smaller surrounding islands, and struck its cliff face at full speed. In the blink of an eye, a flash of light went up before the entire island was engulfed in an explosion akin to an atomic bomb going off.

Within seconds of the blast going up, the sphere shaped explosion faded, revealing an entire island had been wiped off of the face of the map.

Expression showing his disbelief, the boy looked back at his opponent to see Guren standing there with her arms folded and a grin on her face. The crystals she'd conjured disappearing back into the particles they'd originated from, the woman then raised her head at her opponent confidently. "That was one of my stronger moves. By using my crystal mirrors to absorb and magnify the sun's light, I can create a beam capable of incinerating anything in its path. Hell, if the conditions were right, I could disintegrate every single island in this area, but thanks to the position of the sun, the best I can do right now is glass and sterilize this island. In spite of how troublesome an opponent you're turning out to be, since this is such a valuable piece of real-estate to Orochimaru-sama, I won't be able to do that."

Naruto, clenching his fists and teeth in frustration, then allowed a smirk to cross his lips. Even though he was in complete agony from the hazing he'd received from his opponent thus far, he was still conscious enough to focus on the here and now. "If you're not careful, then that restraint is going to cost you big time."

Guren tilted her head at him and frowned, "Considering the amount of damage I've already dealt you, I would avoid giving warnings to your opponent at this point. I think you should focus more on keeping yourself alive above everything else."

The jinchuriki, crouching down and reassuming his stance, allowed his expression to become serious once more as he took aim at his adversary. "Well… that's one of my plans. My other one is beating the hell out of you first!" He then vanished from sight in a flash of orange.

Scowling, Guren turned her gaze upwards, where she saw Naruto rocket down towards her using the wind jets on his feet.

Letting out a yell, the blonde threw a flying roundhouse kick on approach, only to see the blue haired woman duck under his sailing blow and throw a kick back at him in kind. The jinchuriki however caught her leg with his hand and used the momentum to spring over it, avoiding the blow altogether. As he flipped through the air, he then pitched a cluster of shuriken down at the woman, the ninja stars separating before converging on her position.

As soon as Guren saw the projectiles approaching her, the kunoichi gave a quick, playful chuckle before her form once again broke apart into countless particles of cube-shaped crystals, which faded away on the wind like dust and vanished from sight. The shuriken ended up missing their target by a hair and peppered the ground behind the woman's previous station, a sight that had Naruto grit his teeth as soon as he touched down and look around quickly to see where his opponent had gone.

Picking up on something to his side, the blonde brought a kunai up and blocked a blow from an arm with a crystal blade attached to it materializing out of the air beside him. Sparks flying from the weapons colliding, Naruto quickly back-flipped away when the rest of Guren's body reformed out of the crystal particles in the air, the woman throwing a kick at him to try and land at least one blow, but ended up missing when the nimble Jonin managed to get some space. As soon as the kunoichi was fully materialized she backed up, just in time to see her opponent stop and take a stance.

Eyes locking onto his foe, Naruto crouched down and prepared to move forward, but then jerked to a stop when he saw Guren's body start to break apart into crystals again, her smirking form fading backwards piece by piece at light speed.

Clicking his tongue in frustration, the jinchuriki acted quickly and, throwing both hands forward, he fired a tornado of wind straight towards the woman's disassembling person. "Oh no you don't! Fūton: Senpūken!" (Wind Release: Whirlwind Fist) He hurled the blast of wind straight at the spot Guren's face was hanging, where he saw it cave in her mug as the rest of it faded onto the wind.

A split second later, an explosion occurred several yards away from Naruto's position, the boy looking to his left to see Guren's body rematerialize from the particles she was traveling with, stumbling into view, trailing smoke, and blood flying from her mouth. Apparently, she could still be hit with wind techniques while in the process of using her crystal shunshin, which gave the jinchuriki the opening he was looking for. Lacing his fingers together while he still had his hands held up, the blonde rounded on his staggered opponent and charged, letting out a war cry as he advanced on her.

Guren, managing to stop herself, looked up with a growl and attempted to counter the approaching boy with her blade, only to receive the mother of all haymakers when the jinchuriki ducked under her attack and swung his blow right into her jaw. The strike impacted with a gunshot, knocking the woman off her feet and back through the air.

"Your crystal armor can block my blades, but it can't cushion the force from my punches! How'd you like that?!" Naruto shouted triumphantly.

Coughing out in surprise, the blue haired woman stumbled away and, snarling at the youngster, retreated to get some space. As soon as she landed about a dozen yards across the field, Naruto charged forward again, fist cocking back and becoming enveloped by a twister of wind. When Guren spotted the attack he planned to land on her next and the linear trajectory of his advancement, the kunoichi took note of another opening for her to exploit and grinned widely.

Raising her left hand, the woman ran her finger through the air, producing a perfectly straight, horizontal white line of crystal particles. These particles gathered together and compressed to form a solid line in front of her, before the crystal structure shattered, and Guren fired off her attack without warning or hesitation.

"Shoton: Hama Yari Jigoku!" (Crystal Release: Needle Mountain Hell)

Naruto spotted the phenomenon as he charged towards his opponent at his fastest running speed, but was unable to react in time when Guren suddenly threw her hand across and unleashed the wave of crystal shards towards him, the quantity and scale of which suddenly increased and flew straight at him in a wall of flying death.

Letting out a yell of shock, Naruto cut his attack off short and crossed his arms over his face, a split second before he was hit full on by a blast of wind filled with crystal pieces that ripped into him like debris from an explosion. The shards scratched, cut, sliced and impaled his entire body from head to toe, knocking him backwards and drawing blood that splattered across the ground behind him. The attack lasted a glorious ten seconds as the Jonin's entire form and the battlefield around him became absolutely riddled by crystal shards, before the jinchuriki inevitably skidded to a stop and remained standing with his guard still raised.

Up in the sky, Saito, still battling the enormous crystal dragon, watched the impressive attack fade away from up high and his partner get hit full on by it, with the island being subjected to yet another landscape altering jutsu. Upon seeing the blonde stumble and take another stance, blood dripping from the countless wounds now patterning his form, the swallow's eyes widened fearfully and, performing a graceful aerial maneuver, dove for the ground, intent on saving the young man from a premature fate.

"Naruto!" However, before Saito could go any further, the bird was cut off when the dragon flew around to intercept him, and the swallow king was once again left to fight the synthetic creature.

His arms, legs, chest, stomach, shoulders and flesh impaled by crystals, Naruto shakily held his ground in the center of the hell he'd been put under before looking up from behind his guard, his expression twisted in pain as he then focused his attention back onto his enemy. However, the moment his eyes landed back onto Guren, he saw she'd teleported directly in front of him again, and was now swinging in with an open palm with several crystal bits wedged between her fingers. Eyes widening in shock, the blonde attempted to evade, but the kunoichi, taking advantage of his crippled state, was too fast for him, and ended up striking out in a perfectly executed swipe.

"Shoton: Mori Rendan!" (Crystal Release: Harpoon Barrage) In the blink of an eye, the crystals in her fingers increased in length and size, transforming into multiple crystal spears which she buried inside the jinchuriki all at once and impaled him in the shoulders, chest, stomach and legs. The multiple, steel hard weapons pierced right through him to the other side, like a piece of meat stuck with half a dozen sticks, an attack that lifted the young warrior off the ground and sent him flying backwards with a look of horror and disbelief slapped across his face.

Blood flying from his mouth, the Jonin from Konohagakure bounced across the ground before colliding with a boulder several dozen yards away, where his form ended up engulfed in a cloud of dust and rubble. Once the blast of debris settled, it revealed the plucky young Naruto lying motionless in the collection of rocks, eyes shut and bleeding profusely from the multiple spear wounds riddling his now broken form.

In a few, simple words; he was done.

Smirking when she saw the state of her opponent, Guren straightened up and dusted down her coat and gloves. Appearing perfectly fine, despite the bruises on her face, the kunoichi strolled over to take a closer look at her handiwork. After stopping at the boy's feet, she placed her hands on her hips and kicked the sole of his sandal a couple of times, before an amused chuckle escaped her lips.

"Well that takes care of you," the kunoichi chirped, before then noticing something off about the boy's body. Glancing down at one of the spears she'd embedded in him, she saw an odd, bubbling sensation of orange chakra start to bleed out of his skin at an alarming rate. Narrowing her eyes on it, wondering what the hell it was, she then saw the same effect take place on other spots along his crippled form, before his entire body became cloaked in the thick, fizzy aura. Feeling the heat coming off of it, Guren took a step back and frowned. "Wait. What's going on?"

All of a sudden, the kunoichi from Otogakure saw the boy's eyes snap open. Awakening from his coma in an instant, Naruto's blue irises then flashed a blood red, and he looked up at Guren with canines bared and a loud snarl escaping his lips. Recoiling in shock, the woman sprang away just in time to avoid the explosion to follow when the orange cloak surrounding the boy expanded in the blink of an eye, disintegrating the crystal spears and shards impaling him, and freeing him from his crucifixion. Once the kunoichi managed to regain some distance, she saw the blonde rise out of the crater and crouch down on all fours, with three tail-like appendages sprouting from the back of the orange coating now enveloping him.

"Whoa. What the heck is happening to him?" Guren thought as she stared at the boy for several moments longer, before balking when she saw the dozens of open wounds inflicted upon him heal over and the cloak continue to fluctuate like crazy. The sight had her frown and step back into a defensive stance. "So… he's a jinchuriki. Figures I get stuck fighting someone out of this world. This kid is unreal." Concern growing when she felt the field become flooded with killing intent as the boy fixed his now more animalistic glare on her, the kunoichi decided to ready herself for another round.

Forming a hand seal, the powerful woman cranked back her right hand and took aim, particles of crystals gathering and forming into an enormous, snow-flake shaped shuriken. Once she had it propped in her palm, she pulled back before hurling it toward her target with a yell. "Kessho: Kyodai Rokkaku Shuriken!" (Crystal: Giant Hexagonal Shuriken) She let fly the attack with a full swing, the enormous projectile cutting towards the three-tailed Naruto in a wide arc and growing in size as it approached.

Spotting the incoming attack, the transformed blonde let out a menacing snarl and vanished in an orange haze, the enormous crystal shuriken striking the ground instead of him and carving a trench straight through it and the forest behind before spinning to a stop.

The sight of the disappearing Naruto had Guren react in alarm before forming a hand seal. Flying through more, she then gathered chakra around her and fired off her next move without waiting another second, "Shoton: Kessho Gokakuro!" (Crystal Release: Crystal Pentagonal Prison) In an instant, crystals the size of boulders began exploding up and out of the ground around the kunoichi in an outward pattern, forming a defensive barricade around her position. As a result, a wall of crystal blocked the Kyuubified Naruto's path as he flew straight towards the growing forest and slammed a clawed hand into it.

The boy hit the wall with an ear-splitting crack, the barrier stopping him momentarily before crystals suddenly began to incase him. Quickly finding his arm and legs fast freezing, the transformed Jonin let out a growl and pulled back, only to find he was stuck fast as the rest of his body began to be overwhelmed by the substance. Upon speedily assessing the situation, the enraged jinchuriki then opted for the next best thing, and with a loud howl, his chakra output increased and the crystals attempting to put him into suspended animation shattered like glass. The shards flew off in all directions, freeing the boy and allowing him to get some distance again.

Growling like an animal, the transformed Naruto raised his hand and, upon producing the rotating wind drill around his arm, his signature Tsubame Gaeshi (Swallow Return), he threw himself at the still growing prison of crystal and plowed right through it. The walls and boulders of minerals shattered as he dug his way through the field, plowing a path all the way to the other side where Guren ended up stepping out of through her own element with an annoyed expression on her face.

"Damn, this kid is crazy," the kunoichi exclaimed, looking back to see the crystal she'd jumped out of explode and her transformed foe come flying after her. Retreating through the air, Guren then allowed another grin to form across her face as her body once again broke apart into millions of crystal particles, all of which faded away into nothing when she shunshined out of sight. The Kyuubified Naruto ended up hitting air when he lashed out with his chakra claw, skidding across the ground to a stop before looking around wildly for his adversary.

Just as he was beginning his search however, a shockwave going off nearby had the feral boy look across the clearing, where he then saw the enormous crystal dragon created by his foe pinning his courageous summon Saito to the ground. With the bird wounded and beaten, the serpent prepared to bite its head off, until the sight of the orange glowing Naruto caught its attention.

Relinquishing the swallow from its grasp, the beast instead charged towards the jinchuriki with a roar, only to be run into by the transformed boy himself, who plowed straight through its entire length from nose to tail before coming out the other side, shattering the enormous dragon in an instant.

The giant swallow, lying wounded on the ground, looked up in shock at the amount of energy the boy was currently exuding, and blinked in disbelief. "So… this is the Kyuubi's power?" Its chakra was radiating from every pore of Naruto's body, and from the way he stood crouched on the ground on all fours, his three tails waving behind him in fury, he could tell how potent its anger and rage was. "N-Naruto…"

Growling loudly, the Kyuubified Naruto's eyes then snapped towards the center of the island and up to its ruined peak. When he did, he saw Guren materialize out of the air at the very top of it. As soon as she reappeared, the devilishly quick kunoichi formed a single-handed hand seal and dug deep into her gut, before allowing her chakra to skyrocket. When it did, an aura of blue energy exploded off of her like a flame, her eyes whiting out as she gathered all the power she needed to finish this battle.

"Shisho Tenketsu!" (Pressure Points of Harm and Death) Her energy spiking, the woman flew through seals before then holding her hands out, her cloaked form expanding to new heights as she gathered crystals in front of her once again. "Let's see you dance up here, sweetie." As soon as she'd secured a good enough position and conjured up the same lenses she had before against her opponent, she aimed her telescope right at the three-tailed Naruto and waited for his response.

Letting out a bark, the blonde then vanished in an orange haze, Saito watching from his grounded position as the transformed Jonin tore a trench right up to the top of the mountain. His form blurring back into view, the swallow saw the jinchuriki leap up at Guren with an enraged roar, before the sight of gathering solar energy at the front of Guren's mirror weapon had the bird's eyes widen and the swallow reel forward in panic.

"WATCH OUT FOR HER BLAST!"

His warning came too late, as the next thing he saw was a flash of light and Guren firing an enormous blast of incredible power and spread, much more powerful than her previous attack, right into the face of the three-tailed Naruto directly in front of her. The blast engulfed the still approaching blonde for a couple of seconds, ripping at his body like a blowtorch before the force inevitably smashed him full in the body and sent him blasting backwards at an insane speed. At that exact moment, the still conscious Naruto's eyes widened in shock and, feeling the burn of a thousand suns cooking his flesh, let out a bloodcurdling scream of agony that echoed out across the entire island, a sound that was heard all around as he was sent rocketing to the ground, before the beam plowed him through the forest and towards the beach.

Naruto's path was marked by his body digging an enormous trench through the jungle, a journey that lasted a grand ten seconds, until the concentrated laser of solar energy faded, depositing his body on the sands on one of the island's coastlines.

Fires started in the woods as a result of the attack and black smoke began bellowing into the air to block out the sun.

Saito, shaking in his spot, scrunched his face up fearfully before the last of his strength gave out, and his head dropped to the ground with a thud. The swallow, giving his last few conscious breaths in that world, then balled his talons before closing his eyes in defeat. "N-No…" He then vanished back to his dimension in a puff of white smoke, the expiration time of his summoning reached. The only thing he could do now was recover, and hope that his partner was still alive.

OOO

(With Tsubaki)

On another part of the large island, an enormous tornado of lightning ripped across the skies above the jungle to clash with a large green tornado made out of wind, the attacks colliding and grinding into each other with destructive force. The howling winds caused trees to be uprooted and dust to be blown about, while the sheer heat from the attacks disintegrated the airborne trees and cooked the ground, glassing it within seconds. When the two techniques reaching high into the sky and up into the clouds eventually ebbed, they left a fifth of the land reduced to nothing but ruin, as the battle was taken to the cliff portions of the island overlooking the ocean.

Emerging from the jungle and out of her speed zone, Tsubaki stumbled into the open before collapsing onto her hands and knees. Panting heavily from the chakra she'd burned and the effort she'd exerted, the orange haired teenager poured sweat and blood onto the hard ground, before balling her fingers into fists and slamming one of them into the earth. Letting out an exclamation of frustration, she looked to her left to see Temujin appear from the forest and land on the same cliff as her.

Both facing each other down alongside the ocean, the kunoichi quickly got to her feet and brushed the blood away from her mouth. Throwing her hand out in front of her with a scowl, the Jonin then focused her chakra. "That's it! I'm finishing this fight right now! Raiton: Ama no Murakumo!" (Lightning Release: Sword of the Gathering Clouds Under Heaven) With her lightning created katana appearing in her grasp, the girl took it into a two-handed grip before charging forward with an almighty yell, vanishing in a blue blur.

Responding in kind, Temujin, gritting his teeth and holding his shield back, brought his sword up as if he were fencing and lunged forward with a stabbing motion, his own form vanishing in a green blur when his flame-like aura exploded around his blade. In the blink of an eye, the young knight stabbed several dozen times in rapid succession, his form creating multiple after images, whereas Tsubaki lashed out with a perfect, double-handed blow meant to carve right through her adversary. When the two eventually met in the center, the outcome was explosive.

Their blades intercepted but then passed one another, a loud clang ringing out when the two powerful fighters clashed with a single stroke. When they eventually rematerialized on opposite sides, a loud crack of thunder rang out and the ground behind them exploded from an incredible shockwave, which tore an entire chunk of cliff right off of the island's face and sent it plummeting into the ocean, where it then disappeared with a splash.

Both Tsubaki and Temujin held their positions, the former with her sword held forward in two hands, whereas her opponent stood with his sword pointed straight out. Eventually, the outcome of the exchange of attacks became all too clear, for as soon as the winds from the resulting shockwave died down, the white knight's sword cracked whereas Tsubaki's shattered, the lightning blade transforming into photons before vanishing on the wind.

At the same time, the Jonin from Kirigakure's eyes widened and she puked up blood all over her front, revealing a massive gash drawn across her stomach and her side. Straightening up, the kunoichi stumbled forward, expression showcasing her fatigue and disbelief, until she eventually turned, keeled backwards and plummeted over the side of the cliff into the ocean below. Tsubaki's last conscious thought after that was seeing her opponent on the ledge above sheath his sword at his side, before she hit the waves with a splash and vanished into the depths of the water at the foot of the long drop.

Upon seeing his adversary fall and drown, Temujin stared into the waves for a good moment longer. Sporting no damage on his person whatsoever and not even appearing exhausted, the white knight then turned heel and made his way back into the island, intent on reuniting with his allies, and hopefully his partner. He left a ruined cliff in his wake and the sound of waves crashing against the rocks echoing across the beaches.

OOO

(With Tayuya)

Leaning up against the side of a tree, covered in blood and claw marks, the red haired musician from Konohagakure stood breathing raggedly as she watched her werewolf of an adversary stagger back to her feet after defeating her Hayabusa marionette. With the samurai warrior disappearing in a puff of smoke, this left both girls glaring heatedly across at one another, one of them riddled with teeth and slash marks, whereas the other was burnt, cut up, had kunai buried in her back, and looking just as exhausted as her counterpart. Needless to say, their war on their still standing portion of the island had been long and fierce, leaving them in the battered states that they were.

Having transformed back to her normal form, Fugai let out a growl and snapped her teeth at her opponent. "You're pretty tough… for a scrawny runt."

"You're not too bad yourself… for an ugly mongrel," Tayuya shot back, gripping her side as she brought her flute up, intent on pulling off another verse. "For a dog with a lot of bark, you sure don't have much bite to you. I suggest sharpening those fangs of yours. They look like they're starting to go a little blunt."

Though she was still able to talk tough, that woman's attacks still hurt like a sunovabitch. She also had a ridiculously fast recovery rate, which was making it even more difficult for Tayuya to put any lasting damage on her. Just fighting the woman down to this state had been absurdly difficult, especially when her adversary had the advantage of fighting in the jungle.

Clicking her tongue, Fugai, having now lost her cape, stepped forward while baring a clawed hand threateningly. "I admit I may have bitten off more than I can chew with you. But don't think that just because you've got all these fancy tricks up your sleeve that you've beaten me. I can still rip you to pieces." The armored woman then began transforming back into a wolf again, a sight that had the Jonin up against the trunk react defensively, until she saw the female knight stop and look up suddenly. Sniffing the air, the woman in the blue armor looked about momentarily, her red eyes piercing the dark of the forest before a frown appeared across her face.

Wondering what she was doing, Tayuya also picked up on the strange phenomenon approaching them and looked around, before turning back to her foe to see Fugai retract her nails and step away.

Obviously annoyed, the damaged woman nodded towards the musician with a smirk. "You got lucky this time. Pray to your Gods that we never meet again." Without another word, Fugai then leapt away, quickly vanishing into the woods and leaving the still standing Tayuya behind.

Breathing out in relief, as she didn't think she'd be able to take any more of her opponent's abuse, the kunoichi from Konohagakure rested her head back against the wood, at the same time the sound of multiple footsteps entered her midst. A few seconds later, Team Samui along with Chojuro broke into the clearing, the four of them scattering when they saw the redhead propped up against the trunk and looking beaten to all kinds of hell. With Karui and Chojuro taking to the perimeter, the blonde from Kumo along with Omoi approached the musician and looked her over.

When Tayuya stared across at then with a pained expression slapped across her face, showing just how badly the wounds were stinging her, the boy with the sucker in his mouth blinked in shock.

"Whoa…"

"Are you alright, Tayuya-san?" Samui asked, reaching out and placing a hand on the girl's shoulder. Checking to make sure she didn't have any serious injuries to any of her vitals, the Jonin then glanced up at her fair face. "What happened to you?"

Taking a moment to register to the girl's words and then the presence of her allies, Tayuya allowed a smile to tug at her lips and shook her head. "You wouldn't believe me even if I told you…"

OOO

(With Hinata and Choji)

"DIE YOU STUPID LEAF TRASH!" a foaming at the mouth Jirobo roared as he rushed towards the Hyuuga kunoichi he could see standing in the center of the field. With a boulder in hand and eyes burning with unrestrained rage, the imposing form of the now transformed member of the Sound Four moved in to crush the girl beneath the weight of his next attack and finish this fight once and for all.

Jumping through the air, the Cursed Seal Level Two enhanced warrior descended upon the child at full speed, going in for the final, decisive blow.

Seeing the enraged Jirobo approaching her from above, Hinata, bruised up and missing her signature brown jumper, stepped forward into a low riding fighting stance, one palm facing forward and another held behind, and took careful aim at her approaching foe. With her shirt blowing on a gentle breeze and Byakugan enhanced eyes fixed squarely on her equally damaged adversary, the Genin from Konoha then began moving her palms in front of her in a crisscrossing manner. Using her natural flexibility very few kunoichi like her had, the girl began unleashing chakra from her palms in the form of thin, sharp blades, which cut through the air ahead of her and created a series of visible blue lines that she was able to draw with the motions of her arms.

Beginning to slice the air at a much faster rate, with her hand movements crossing in a blur and forming countless after images with her speed, the Hyuuga fired off her newly created technique, a sight that had Jirobo balk while swinging in with his own attack.

"Shugohakke Rokujuyon Sho!" (Protection of the Eight Trigrams Sixty-Four Palms) Hinata shouted, her form becoming surrounded by a sphere-like barricade of visible blue chakra that expanded outwards at an alarming rate. The net of intersecting blue lines fired from in front of the kunoichi crashed into Jirobo's boulder when he rammed it straight into the shield, only for his makeshift weapon to explode on contact before his body ended up flushed up against the barrier when it grew.

Feeling Hinata's jutsu cutting into him, the burly warrior could do nothing as the rope and front of his shirt was shredded, and the Hyuuga's shield expanded even more so. Unable to take the amount of power carving into his frame, the man attempting to force his way through let out a cry of shock as he was then sent rocketing into the jungle behind him. Bouncing across the ground like a ball, the colossal Jirobo crashed through several trees before coming to a shuddering halt right on the edge of the clearing. When the dust settled from the crash, the now badly wounded young man coughed up blood over his chest before beginning to sit up.

As he tried to rise back to his feet, the second form Jirobo had taken in his Cursed Seal state started to fade away, and the Sound Four member slowly reverted back to normal. The feeling of his chakra levels plummeting and the damage getting to his legs had the man growl hatefully, as he tried to get up and finish off his targets.

"Y-You little…" the elite shinobi snarled, but was unable to finish his death threat as the sight of a shadow falling over him had his gaze train upwards. When he looked to the sky, he saw his other opponent Choji descending towards him, hand seal formed and a smirk pulled across his bruised face. The sight of the approaching Genin had Jirobo's eyes widen, "What?!"

"Bubun Baika no Jutsu!" (Partial Multi-Size Technique) the wily Akimichi shouted, before his right arm expanded to a gargantuan size and the boy brought a fist straight down on top of his weakened opponent. The size that his hand and arm took literally eclipsed the entire sky above him from Jirobo's point of view, whose eyes only widened even more and a yell of fear escaped his lips before the man was crushed under the giant fist of his foe. The orange haired boy slammed the full weight of his punch on top of the Sound Four member, forming an even large crater with the shockwave and splitting the earth with its power.

Clearing shaking from the ground caving in on itself, Hinata watched exhaustedly from a distance as Choji finished off their enemy, the boy holding his position for several seconds before then leaping away and retracting his fist. When his arm returned to normal and his feet touched down, the young Akimichi stumbled backwards before falling onto his backside, panting heavily while looking across at the vile individual he'd just flattened.

Lying motionless at the bottom of the crater, the once seemingly indomitable Jirobo could be seen sprawled out with blood dripping out of his mouth, his ribs crushed and expression frozen in horror. His last moment had obviously gone by incredibly quickly, and through hell and high water, through the worst beating either of them had taken, Choji and Hinata had managed to defeat him together.

With the two youngsters breathing raggedly from their battle, they eventually collapsed to their knees and back respectively, with the Akimichi looking up towards the sky with sweat pouring down his face and Hinata staring ahead of her exhaustedly. Vision blurry, the young man looked behind him, where he could see the blue haired girl also sweating up a storm and breathing labouredly, which brought a smile to the young Choji's face before he laughed out loud.

Hearing her teammate's exclamation of delight, Hinata also formed a smile and giggled between breaths. "W-We did it."

"Yeah… we beat him…" Choji chuckled, both relieved and overjoyed at his victory. "And I only needed to use two of the three colored pills. Thank goodness." If he'd had to use the third one, the damage that would have come from it would have been more costly for him than beneficial, especially when it was a two on one battle.

Nevertheless, the fight had brought out the best in both of them against a foe that would have otherwise fought either one of them, one-on-one, to either a complete standstill or near death. If the two of them hadn't had the other there to back them up, then Choji and even Hinata was certain the man would have been able to deal them far more damage than they already had, and any victory they could have come out with would have resulted in them losing consciousness from exhaustion. Thankfully, their fight didn't take them that far, and both of them were left alive enough to savor the moment.

While catching their breaths and feeling the relief of winning come over them in the form of rest, Hinata was then suddenly drawn to the sound of distant thunder, and looked across the island with her kekkei genkai in the direction the disturbance had come from. Following it towards Naruto's end, her gaze was drawn across a desolate battlefield, along a wide trench, and towards the coastline of the island itself. There, she discovered to her horror the blonde haired Jonin leader of their contingent lying motionless in a crater formed from an attack she'd just missed…

His chakra levels dangerously low… and his heart…

"Oh no…"

OOO

(With Naruto)

Several minutes of silence later, with the atmosphere marking the end of the intense battle between the two high-level opponents pulling over their half of the island, the kunoichi responsible for the damage reverted back to her normal form and made her way down to the beach to confirm her kill. Following the path of destruction she'd literally brought to the area, the blue haired woman eventually reached the soft sands of the coast and made her way over the dunes. When she stopped at the crater she'd buried her foe in, she discovered to her surprise the jinchuriki lying conscious at the bottom of it, his gaze half-lidded, blood dripping from the corners of his mouth, his form burnt and beaten, and his breathing slow and ragged.

When Guren came to stand alongside him she saw the young Jonin fix his eyes on her, which she returned with a cool expression of her own and a smirk that formed across her lips, "You put up one hell of a fight brat, I'll give you that. But it'll take more than a few good moves and lightning fast speed to beat somebody like me. In the end, you still folded… just like everybody else who thought it was smart to go head to head with me."

Not speaking at first, Naruto struggled to move and get himself back into whatever game was left to be had. However, with the extensive damage done to his body, the high-speed healing, his zero chakra levels and his worsening condition, he was unable to budge an inch from his spot, with the results of his battle finally culminating in this one and final outcome. It was like somebody had strapped a hundred tons of weight to each of his limbs and fingers, and had left him to rot helplessly in his place.

Dispersing of his efforts to get out of the hole he was in, the boy instead focused his glare back onto the woman, even though it lacked the same potency he had when he was fighting her.

"How… are you… so strong?"

Blinking at the blonde's sudden question, Guren then gave a smirk. "Don't feel bad about losing. Out of all the shinobi under Orochimaru-sama's wing, I'm considered one of the strongest in his ranks… perhaps even the strongest. I haven't fought any of the other grunts high up on the food chain to prove that fact, but I'm still confident enough in my abilities to know that I'm also one of the toughest kunoichi out there." She placed her hands on her hips and tilted her head at the boy. "You lost this battle the moment I separated you from your friends."

Frowning as he looked up at the kunoichi, Naruto narrowed his eyes on her. "Y-You're working… for the Sannin… Orochimaru…?"

Guren's smile reversed at this next question and she gave him a hard stare. "Yes."

"Why?"

The Jonin deepened her scowl at the dying jinchuriki's insistence, but answered him nonetheless. If he was going to pass on like this, then she was at least going to honor him with a few parting words. "Because he is my master… a great man who took me in when I had nowhere else to go and gave me a home, a purpose, a reason to live and a reason to serve him. Anything he asks of me, I will gladly do in his name as his most loyal servant… even if it means sacrificing my own life."

Naruto, shaking his head and reflecting bewilderment at the woman's words, spoke up again under her glare. "You have all this strength… all this power… and yet… you use it to serve a man who would kill anyone he deems less worthy than him… and anyone who he believes is standing in his way." The boy's face scrunched up as he stared at her. "You would even kill innocent people in his name… men… women… children…?"

Recoiling at his words, Guren took a step back. "W-What's your point?"

Eyes still shimmering with life, Naruto took a deep breath before responding. "Tell me something… ever since he saved you… has your master done anything for you… or given you any thought or care beyond what possible use you could have for him in the future." Seeing the kunoichi's eyes widen, the jinchuriki continued to speak. "Of all the selfless acts you've done in his name… has he ever thanked you… or given you anything of worth in return… other then letting you live for a little while longer under his heel?"

Processing the questions being asked of her, Guren stood trembling in place, until her fists tightened and she glared down at the young man in outrage. "What do you know of it?"

In spite of the rise in the woman's anger and voice, the jinchuriki remained steadfast in his pursuit of answers, and continued to speak. "I've seen the extent of Orochimaru's 'kindness'… and the lives it has taken." Naruto's frown deepened as he stared hard at the woman towering over him and blocking out the sun. "That man is vile, selfish, and cruel. Everything he does… he does only for himself… and no one else. I know this… because two of my closest friends… once served under him." Seeing the woman lean back slightly, the jinchuriki then looked away and towards the sky above, where he could see the clouds passing overhead and the sight of birds traveling on the winds. "I can see it in your eyes. I'm sure that… somewhere deep down… there is something that man made you do in the past… that you regret… even today…"

Eyes reflecting a momentary shimmer of fear, Guren conjured up a crystal spear before stabbing it right through the center of the boy's chest. With a loud thud, she nailed the jinchuriki to the sand, and watched his eyes widen in shock before flickering closed moments later. When she saw him breathe out his last gulp of air, the kunoichi released the spear and left it impaled in his chest, before stepping away with a conflicted glare fixed on his lifeless form.

"Stupid brat… you don't know anything," Guren hissed, backing away before turning heel and beginning a slow march off of the beach.

Within seconds, she was gone, disappearing into the brush of the jungle.

Had she been inside of Naruto's head at that exact moment, the kunoichi would've been able to hear the deep voice of the Kyuubi speaking up out from the depths of the boy's subconscious.

"Damn it kid. No. It… it's… going dark... why is it going dark?" the giant fox growled in panic, his blood red eyes that once pierced through the shadows of the iron gate shutting as the darkness closed in around him, with the sewer that was his cage vanishing into the blackness. As the lights dimmed and the waters ran cold, so did the entity's own consciousness. "My chakra… it's fading… no."

With all the damage Naruto had taken, both to his body and in his three-tailed mode, the Kyuubi's chakra that would normally be able to heal his injuries and keep him alive, wasn't working. Thanks to the punishment he'd been subjected to by that woman, Guren had effectively cut off any and all remaining hope he had of bouncing back.

Soon enough, just as he breathed his last breaths in the dimension that was his prison, both the Kyuubi and his container were then enveloped in total darkness, and their respective presences vanished into nothingness.

For many minutes after that, nothing happened. The waves gently crashed against the beach, the sound of seagulls returned to the coast, and the sun started to set over the horizon, drawing the curtain on the many epic battles that had taken place in this region of the seas. But then, just when it seemed like it was all over and everyone was left to whatever fates they'd been dealt that afternoon, a familiar face suddenly appeared on the scene.

Emerging from the waters of the nearby ocean, crawling on all fours and gasping for air, a grievously wounded but still a very much alive Tsubaki emerged from the waves. Ignoring the foam washing against her body, the bite of the cold and the salt, with an arm wrapped tightly around the sword wound in her side, the orange haired girl struggled onto shore. With the scars of her fight still tattooing her form, showing just how hard she was now working to return to land, the girl managed to one-handedly drag her body out of the shallows and onto the wet soil of the island.

Coughing and panting raggedly for air, the absolutely soaked and beaten Jonin from Kirigakure looked up towards the island. Determined to rejoin her friends and to see if they were alright, her eyes suddenly fell upon a slightly smoking crater just a few yards away from her position. At first confused, and seeing what looked like a crystal made staff sticking out of the ground, the girl's gaze followed it down to its base, where she inevitably saw the familiar form of Naruto lying in the center of the hole. With his eyes shut and blood trickling out of his mouth, it took a moment for the kunoichi to realize what must have happened, and her eyes soon widened in horror.

"Naruto!" Voice raspy, Tsubaki slowly crawled her way over to him, picking herself up at the edge of the crater and almost falling into it when her legs nearly gave way. Struggling to maintain consciousness as well as to keep her body functioning, the Jonin hurriedly reached for the crystal spear and, with a loud yell and a pull, yanked it out of the boy's ribs. Tossing it away, she dropped to her knees and checked the young man's condition, wiping away some of the blood before looking for a pulse.

When her fingers landed against his neck, the kunoichi recoiled in shock.

"N-No…"

For the next few minutes, Tsubaki spent what little energy she had left using her lightning style chakra to cauterize Naruto's wounds, ripping apart pieces of her coat to cover his injuries, and using the remains of the samurai wear as a pillow for his head by folding it up and laying it on top of the material. Cleaning him up as best as she could, she also tried to rouse him from what she hoped was just a deep sleep. However, knowing better than that and knowing exactly what she was dealing with, the girl's efforts drew up nothing, and her pupils began to shimmer and glow with despair and disbelief.

Moments after she finished tending to the boy's wounds, she soon sensed the approach of several other figures, and looked up towards the jungle to see Samui, Omoi, Karui and Chojuro appear on the scene, closely followed by Tayuya and, several seconds later, Hinata and Choji, all of whom had apparently followed the trail of destruction down to here to see what had happened.

The team quickly rushed over to the Jonin, seeing her kneeling in a crater beside a body that all of them expected to be the corpse of a shinobi she'd just killed. However, when they all arrived at her side and looked down at the person Tsubaki was holding, they all saw exactly who it was.

It was a sight that had all of their hearts stop.

"Naruto. NARUTO!" Tayuya screamed, immediately dropping down into the hole and taking his head in her hands. In spite of being exhausted from her fight, the girl still mustered the strength to take his weight and, panicking beyond belief, looked over his pale form with a look of dread and fear reflected in her eyes. "No. No, no, no, no, no! NO! Naruto. No!" Taking him by the shoulder and shaking him to try and get a rise out of him, the redhead began to tremble and her heart rate started to climb, at the same time she checked for his. "You're not… you can't be." The kunoichi then looked up at Tsubaki, hoping for all hope that this was all just a big ruse, and that the cold nothingness she could feel resting in her lap was all a trick. "He… He's not…"

The Jonin from Kiri, eyes showing unshed tears and despair, looked back at Tayuya silently before lowering her head in a clear but quiet answer to her half-asked questions. Not wanting to believe it, the redhead quickly turned to the others standing alongside them, where she immediately saw Samui swoop down to rest by Naruto's head after going through the shock of seeing him the way he was. Her expression reflecting horror when she gingerly touched his cheeks with her fingertips, the blonde then placed her fingers to his neck and, just like Tsubaki before her, recoiled in disbelief.

"Please no…" Samui whispered, eyes beginning to water as she knelt in place.

Hinata, deactivating her Byakugan, laced her hands together tightly and covered her mouth in dismay, doing her best to hold back but unable to stop the tears from running down her face. She too shook her head in a clear 'no', as she couldn't believe what she was seeing. But both she and Samui saw for themselves when they checked the boy for life.

He had no pulse. No heartbeat. His heart had gone quiet and his chakra signature had disappeared. There was not a single spark left in him. Tsubaki sensed it too.

Choji, being one of the boy's closest friends, was also looking on, stunned into silence and eyes showing his incredulity and shock. Omoi and Karui, the two Genin from Kumogakure, also reflected nothing but astonishment and incredulity, unable to register to the fact that somebody they knew so well and knew to be one of the strongest ninja of their generation, was lying dead at their feet, at the very edge of the battle he'd fought. It was simply beyond comprehension.

Remaining silent throughout, Chojuro closed his eyes and looked away, knowing full well that this was heavy on all of them, especially on the boy's comrades.

Seeing the shock, sadness and hopelessness being thrown back at her everywhere she looked, Tayuya bit her bottom lip as tears welled up and began pouring down her cheeks. Panting, the girl quickly adjusted her position, placing his head back on the coat beneath him and taking up position by his chest. "No. I won't let this be the end." Quickly placing her hands on his chest, she began massaging the area over his heart, grunting as she furiously tried to coax life back into it. "No way! Not now! COME ON!" Seeing as how there wasn't anyone here who could use medical ninjutsu, she did the best with what she had and began working on bringing life back into him.

Desperately, she blocked his nose and, opening his mouth, placed hers over it and breathed into him, performing CPR. She switched between this and pushing his chest, trying again and again, over and over, to get him up. To bring him back to their world and to coax him out of his sleep.

She wanted to. She had to. There was no way she was going to leave him like this, not without trying… and there was no way she was going to let him leave her so easily.

Growling, the girl turned to Samui to see the blonde cradle the boy's head comfortably so that he was elevated. Once he was set, the redhead went on at a more furious pace.

"Come on! COME ON!" Tayuya shouted furiously, once again breathing down his throat. When she went back to pumping his chest, she began muttering all sorts of nonsense to him, hoping her words and hope would reach him. Her cheeks and hands were wet now from the tears running down her cheeks. "Get it together, shithead! After all the time we spent together… after all the fucking promises you made to me, there's no fucking way I'm going to let you back out of them now! You said you would become the greatest ninja ever! RIGHT! That you would become the greatest Hokage the hidden fucking leaf had ever seen? Yeah! Well, you're not going to become jack-shit if you copout now! COME ON!" She was practically screaming at this point as she massaged and smacked his heart with her fist.

Samui, also desperate to help, silently instructed Tayuya to keep working his chest at a faster pace while she performed CPR, breathing down his mouth with short breaths in hopes of jumpstarting and speeding up his circulation. The two worked in tandem, with the others standing back so that they had space to work, and Hinata, Choji and Tsubaki looking on with the most hope reflected in their eyes.

Hitting his chest with her fist, Tayuya cursed. "COME ON! DAMN IT!" Crying, she turned to look at the boy's peaceful face with a hard glare. "I know you can hear me, you selfless bastard!" She then pounded his chest again, massaging his heart even harder now. "You saved me twice. Now it's my turn to save you." She kept it up, even when she saw Samui stop when Omoi stepped over to them and grabbed his teammate's shoulder. The blonde fought against the boy, not wanting to give up, but inevitably conceded under his physical insistence, whereas the redhead kept working on his heart. "Wake up! Wake up! WAKE UP!"

"Tayuya."

"NO! DON'T YOU DARE! HE'S NOT FUCKING DEAD! HE'S NOT!"

"Stop," the voice of Choji hit her again, the young man stepping forward and taking her shoulder.

"GET THE FUCK OFF ME!" Tayuya practically screamed, violently throwing the boy's hand off of her and glaring at him with tears pouring from her eyes. "I'M NOT GIVING UP!"

"T-Tayuya …" Choji murmured, his voice so quiet it was barely above a whisper.

"He never gives up! NEVER! Something like this is not going to beat him! IT CAN'T!" the girl cried back, tears drenching her shirt and jumper when she snapped across at the Akimichi, who backed up under the anger radiating off of the kunoichi. Breathing loudly, Tayuya then leaned over and breathed into the boy through his mouth once more, but then rested her forehead against his, sobbing and trembling as she held his head in her arms. "It can't… it just can't…" the girl whimpered, unable to show her face to the others as she poured her heart and soul into the boy's body, when everything else failed.

Tsubaki, Hinata, Choji and Samui, all of them crying tears of sadness, lowered their gazes as Tayuya wept into the blonde's cheek. Eventually, her cries and sobs gave way to a wail of despair, the girl throwing her head back and crying out to the sky, her voice echoing across the island, and then fading into nothing.

With the sound of waves and seagulls returning to the scene, emphasizing the silence that fell over them, it quickly became clear what the outcome of the mission was.

A failure.

The casualties… one.

To all of them, especially to Tayuya, Samui, and Hinata, as they were the ones who cared the most for the boy with the sun kissed blonde hair, it was the end…


Author's Note: Well… Naruto's dead.

I'll see you guys next time.