Hinata's Sensual Adventure

BY : The Feelz
Category: Naruto > General
Dragon prints: 11649
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: Naruto is a Japanese Manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto with an Anime adaptation. I do not claim ownership for this series nor the illustrations used as my profile photo.

+ Hinata's Sensual Adventure - Allied Shinobi Force & the Final Prophesy +

Impasse — Destiny in Motion!

Hours Earlier:

"Even though you had a hard time, you sure gained a nice eye," Kabuto said quietly, looking down at his colleague, who had suddenly equipped a new and more fashionable mask.

"It was mine to begin with," Madara corrected coolly, sitting on the ground in his new get-up honoring the Uchiha Clan, studying the man before him.

Kabuto was perfectly tucked away in a hooded coat, as if he were an innocent introvert. But the snake he had as a tail readily reflected how contrary that proposition was; the man was a conniving fiend, just like Orochimaru.

"We got this, as well," Zetsu informed with a smug smile upon his arrival, his torso pushing up eerily from the ground.

"And that is?" Kabuto veered his attention to the scroll.

"Intel from Kisame. We know where the Kyuubi is."

"Looks like things are finally starting to go our way," Dark Zetsu mused as his other half, White Zetsu, handed over the scroll to Kabuto.

"Eh. This is from Kisame?"

Madara drove the steel rod at the tip of his new weapon into the ground as he pushed to his feet, his cool disposition winning everyone's attention. "We're going to get the Kyuubi!"

"Wait," Kabuto interjected, smiling intently underneath the darkness of his hood. "I'll go to where the Kyuubi and the Hachibi are."

There was a moment of silence.

"Why would you do that?"

"It's a good opportunity to get you to trust me in our common goal. Also, wherever the Kyuubi's Jinchuuriki goes, a copy of the First Hokage called, Yamato, goes with him. I want his body for my experiments.

If I can't have him —" he veered his eyes to the side, casting Zetsu a sidelong glance — "I could take this Zetsu's body, instead. That is, if he'd share some of it with me."

Zetsu frowned, both light and dark sides.

"It's not like that would delay the plans for the Juubi's resurrection."

Madara's head tilted a bit in his caution, deliberating. "You seem to know a lot. Apparently, Orochimaru managed to secretly find out quite a bit."

Kabuto smiled, his serpentine eyes glinting behind his glasses. "According to the intel we got from Kisame, the Shinobi Alliance army has a total of about eighty-thousand soldiers. We also know where they're stationed. But the base of our military power is Zetsu, right?"

"Just how much do you know?" Dark Zetsu uttered, their body tilting in apprehension.

"With my knowledge and the research data I've gathered, I'm certain I can make him stronger — but only if you take me there."

"What do you say, Tobi?" Zetsu inquired, looking up at his perfectly composed comrade. "Can we trust this guy?"

Madara thought about that for a while, staring at the snake through his mask with unflinching scrutiny, as if weighing the truth of the his trustworthiness. Surely the man knew the consequence of betrayal. "If you can get me the Kyuubi, I'll give you one Zetsu. Come with me," he said coolly, leading the way into the core of his underground lair.

Double wooden doors creaked open to reveal a poorly lit chamber enclosing a gigantic humanoid figure. It was made of stone and sitting crossed-legged in an artificial flower. It's hands and legs were cuffed, its mouth muzzled, and nine closed eyes etched in its forehead.

"This is... the Gedō Mazō," Kabuto uttered, awestruck as he ambled into the dull chamber. Then he grinned, admiring the unique structure — the medium that would pave the path to their glorious future.

"It's down here," Madara prompted, leading the way down a zigzagged flight of stairs jotting from the side of a sheer wall. It seemed to stretch down to infinity. But Kabuto and Zetsu followed without a breath of complaint.

On the lowest floor was a murky reservoir radiating a bright lime green glow. It stretched roughly two-hundred-and-fifty feet down with the stem of the flower, upon which the Gedō Mazō sat, extending all the way to the bottom, massive roots jutting out in all direction.


"Yes. It's alive," Madara confirmed, taking note of Kabuto's interest even with his back turned. "The First Hokage: Senju Hashirama."

The synthetic torso, neck and face of the late Hokage jutted from the flower's large stem. His eyes were closed, skin pale, face expressionless — as if he were captured in a state of suspended animation.

"Well, it's just something I made by cultivating a living cell I took from him during that fight. It has no will of its own."

Kabuto approached it in awe.

"What I wanted to show you is farther down."

The man's eyes dilated briefly in his surprise, and then he knelt with an exuberant smile, gazing down into the white horde. "...Amazing. When did you manage that?"

Madara watched him, rigid in his prolonged scrutiny. "However, there are risks involved. In order to create this many, I had to use a lot of the chakra of the Bijuu in the Gedō Mazō, and I'd like to retain as much of that as possible. Delaying the Juubi's resurrection means delaying my entire plan."

Kabuto looked up curiously beneath his hood. "How many do you have?"

"Roughly one-hundred-thousand."

The parasitic-based clones stood clustered together, like ants, patiently awaiting instructions from their superior. The Shinobi Alliance would utterly and hopelessly be crushed by their sheer numbers and combined strength.

The world was about to change.

Perched on a pedestal, Motoi's messenger owl flexed its wings, taking a much-deserved rest after its long flight to the lofty peaks of Kumogakure.

"Now that they know our plans, we need to come up with new strategies," the Tsuchikage said calmly, sitting around a conference table along with the other Kages, including Mifune — General of the samurais. "That said, they know we discovered the intel leak so, they will be careful when using that intel because it's easy for us to set up traps."

"What about the island?" the Hokage added in question. "We can move the island, but it's still not safe enough. Those two are the enemy's targets." Her frowned deepened. "They will certainly go looking for them."

"I have the route of the island planned out for just such circumstances," the Raikage assured with his customary scowl, his dark, beady eyes set steady below thick eyebrows. "It's also covered by clouds; the enemy cannot find it easily."

The Mizukage cast the man a pair of cool emerald eyes. "If they come searching, the enemy will probably send out a small scouting party first. I doubt they'd allocate a large portion of their forces and attempt to comb the area."

The Kazekage offered a pair of cool eyes, too. "However, Kisame has probably provided them with a map with the coordinates of the island; even if it moves, they just need to search in the vicinity." His eyes narrowed. "We can't let our guard down."

"We should send reinforcements," Mifune suggested. "However, it would be pointless to send a large group, which would draw attention. We need to send a small elite force."

"I'll go!" the Tsuchikage volunteered with a lean grin.

"Tsuchikage-sama..." the Mizukage was a bit surprised by his decision, considering the man's tender age.

"Hmpth. Gramps Ōnoki, huh?" the Raikage was a bit amused, yet the scowl perfectly sculpted in his forehead did not fade. "That should do just fine."

"Also, you can fly... so you can get there quickly." the Hokage added.

"Are you sure about this?" The Kazekage was a bit anxious.

"Don't worry, Kazekage," the man reassured exuberantly. "I am the Tsuchikage feared as Ōnoki of Both Scales!" He said pushing to his feet and driving his hands down on the table with an unrestrained boast.

CRACK! — a most unpleasant sound rose from his spine, echoing for yards outside the lofty edifice.

"Ahh! My back!"

The Kazekage sighed, blinking slowly. "I should go. I can get there quickly on my sand."

"S-Stupid lad!" the man protested behind the pain. "I said I'm going and—"



Enter the Fray!

The Fourth Great Ninja War Commences!

While Kabuto was gearing up to leave with an Edo Tensei of Deidara — who would have provided his means of transport — to uphold his part of the bargain (capturing the Kyuubi), the Tsuchikage and his two loyal followers, Akatsuchi, and his granddaughter, Kurotsuchi, were also making preparations to depart over the sea.

Seeking the same coordinates, both parties eventually made contact on route to the moving fortress, and a fierce fight ensued in the sky.

Knowing there would have undoubtedly be an ambush, Kabuto had summoned and dispatched a genetically advanced Manda (Orochimaru's favorite snake) to scour the sea for the enemy's hideout while he was preoccupied with the assailants.

Manda didn't take long. In just a few short minutes, there was a hoarse and throaty roar of distress echoing from a distance; the serpentine predator had driven its fangs into the defenseless tail of the sea turtle, slowing the reptile's movement.

Kabuto capitalized on the Tsuchikage's abject shock and flew off in the direction of the loud shriek, achieving the preemptive strike to further his ambitions.

Instructing Deidara to mold a powerful bomb beneath the creature's underbelly, the clever and conniving shinobi was able to flip the turtle on its back with the explosion's shockwave, immobilizing it. And Manda instinctively took the opportunity to coil its massive body round the reptile's neck, holding the creature dangerously close between the threadbare line of life and death.

It didn't take long for the Tsuchikage to catch up to the tenacious terrorists — and the man had officially snapped, much to Deidara's discomfort. While he kept the Kage and Akatsuchi preoccupied, Kabuto was forced to contend with Kurotsuchi, who was later accompanied by Yamato, Motoi, and Aoba.

Strategically allowing himself to fall victim to the enemy's immobilizing attack, Kabuto feigned hopelessness so that his enemies would drop their guard. Then he patiently waited for his prey to get into range before shedding his skin (Orochimaru style) to free himself, swallowing Yamato in one fell swoop and slithering in full career in a hasty retreat.

Kurotsuchi desperately tried to apprehend the serpentine bastard, but to no avail. Quickly hiding inside Manda's nostril, Kabuto undid the summoning technique, withdrawing to safety. And Deidara was also withdrawn — spirited away by a coffin that was a byproduct of Edo Tensei's dark workings.

Kabuto dropped Yamato to the ground, like a rag doll, the man's arms bounded behind his back by a snake whose coils were even more impressive than that of a rope.

"Not quite the present I was expecting..." Madara said calmly despite the undercurrent in his tone, ambling forward with Zetsu by his side.

"That's true," Kabuto said repentantly, his pale, serpentine features a grotesque imagery in the gloom of their dark lair. "But he was the Kyuubi's guard and has confidential information. Also, with him, I can strengthen the Zetsus quite a lot."

Zetsu frowned.

"When I caught him, I decided to withdraw while I was in a favorable position; favorable for you."

"Then get on with it!" Madara said sternly, almost menacingly, his Sharingan and Rinnegan set in a crave stare behind his mask. "This left eye (Rinnegan) lusts for war."

To avoid any further ambushes that potentially loomed in the wake of the former — using his unique powers — the Tsuchikage reduced the sea turtle's weight to practically nothingness and carried the colossal reptile through the sky along the rest of the journey to Kumogakure.

Being outwitted and bested by Kabuto was an unfortunate blunder, but Yamato was taken prisoner and, no doubt, invaluable information would be extracted from him. Regardless, the tides of the consuming conflict would not cease; the war would go on and the Four Great Shinobi Nations needed to band as one and secure victory to preserve their future.

Anko knew the truth of this and, despite her fatigue, she was busy at work with her infiltration squad. Upon discovering the enemy's secret hideout, they were busy trying to ascertain further information on what the evil masterminds were planning. Hopefully, with this intel, the playing field would be even or entirely in their favor, despite the information leak following Yamato's kidnapping.

Upon receiving coordinates from the insects of a bug user that were dispatched to investigate, a member of the Hyūga clan was instructed to peer deep inside the enemy's underground base. There, beyond layers earth and ancient roots, he saw the thousands of white Zetsu warriors that were eager to be let lose to stir chaos in the world.

Both the sight and thought was appalling.

This intel was swiftly sent to Kumogakure via messenger hawk, where the six leaders were able to interpret the information and plan respectively.

The enemy's base was known as the Mountain's Graveyard. By land, they would have to go through Yugakure and Shimogakure to get there. In light of that truth, Gaara suggested that both countries be alerted to evacuate; the enemy count was around one-hundred-thousand — surely the people would be caught in the crossfire, should they be left to reside in their homes.

"Given this large regiment, it's likely that only a small number of them will take the sea route," Shikaku promped, waving a wand around at a map positioned at the center of the conference table. "However, if they manage to surround us, we'll be in trouble."

"If it comes to that," Mifune clarified. "The winner will be determined by whoever strikes first."

"First, assemble an Ambush Squad," the Raikage instructed his female subordinate. "Next, form divisions from the rest of the regiment, and confirm each military formation."

"Yes, sir!"

Tsunade looked to Shikaku. "Similarly, make sure the Medical Logistics Support Unit has all the necessary medical tools equipped. Shikaku, you brief the Intel Division on their routes."


The Mizukage frowned as she pivoted her head around to greet her subordinate. "Contact Ao in the Sensory Division. Tell him to hurry."

"Y-Yes, ma'am."

They all left.

"Tsuchikage..." Gaara veered his attention to the man, winning his attention. "While you were away, we came up with this."

"Oh, already?" the man was amused.

"Please accept this." the Kazekage raised a forehead protector in his hand, the characters engraved in the metal signifying the Four Great Shinobi Nation's unification.

"Ah... is that the Shinobi Alliance forehead protector? Not bad," he grinned.

"I designed it," Mifune informed happily. "All of you, who once fought each other, are now fighting as one shinobi." He stood. "Moreover, shinobi and samurai have now joined hands. Finally."

Everyone nodded, mutally feeling the perpetual flame of this unprecedented truth. And it ignited a driving force inside of them, a growing familiarity and ideal that would undeniably mold the future of the shinbi world.

Once distribution of the new forehead protectors was complete, all the various divisions congregated to be introduced to their respective captains. And, after being briefed on their initial objectives, everyone began ambling toward a rendezvous point.

"When I heard there were five divisions being formed, I expected them to be divided based on the five villages."

Shikamaru raised one brow incredulously as he shot Chōji a gaze. "No way it's gonna be divided like that; this is war, y'know."

"Indeed," Temari concurred, matching their steady pace along the torrid terrain. "It's not the time for each village to take credit and compete with each other."

"Right," Shikamaru agreed, his expression reserved. "The Great Alliance Combat Regiment is divided into five specialized divisions: Division I consist of shinobi specializing in mid-range combat — primarily, shinobi who use hidden tools or weapons.

Division II consist of shinobi specializing in close-range combat. Among all divisions, these shinobi fight best on the front lines.

Division III consist of mid-range and close-range fighters, who provide support for both Division I and II. This is where speed and stamina is the most important.

We are the long-range combat division. In close cooperation with the Intel Division, we are the frontline support. It is also necessary to protect the Medical Support Unit. We're also the special division with unique ninjutsu and attack methods."

"Special division?" Chōji cast him a quizzical gaze, once they had come to a alt.

"Yeah." the young chūnin broke out into a sweat. "Anything can happen during a war. It's a very rare situation where the divisions are neatly divided into each specialized group. Moreover, in terms of the tactical situation, we can recognize advantageous or disadvantageous battlefields. The ones who can cover that are shinobi with hidden ninjutsu."

Chōji frowned, considering that for a while.

"It's hard to say that preparations are complete," Temari added. "But it's all thanks to the mind of Konoha's Nara Shikaku that we're able to organize a total of approximately eighty-thousand shinobi into divisions in such a short time." She shot him a gaze from the corner of her eye. "Don't be a disgrace to your father."

Shikamaru frowned, breaking out into another cold sweat.

Chōji felt his friend's anxiety, but he was also hyperaware of the situation around them. "The war is about to begin..."

"The captains!" Someone from the crowd shouted briskly, all eyes now veering up to the massive, round wooden platform jutting out from the face of a lofty mountain before them.

Slowly, the five men bounded forward, and Shikamaru took the opportunity to introduce them to Chōji and Temari. "Division I Captain: He's said to be the Raikage's right hand man, Darui, of Kumogakure;

Division II Captain: Kitsuchi of Iwagakure;

Division III Captain: Kakashi-san;

Division V Captain: The General of the Iron Country — Mifune;

And, our captain for Division IV, as well as the commander of this entire battle regiment is Gaara, the Kazekage."

In neatly formed rows of five, eighty-thousand shinobi warriors eased into a fit of cheering, evidently more civilized and spirited than that of the enemy infantry. With their sheer numbers and the reputation of their superiors — surely, they would reign the victors of this deciding war. There was no force on Earth that could possibly stand against their combined powers and the supberb dictatorship of their military hierarchy .

Somewhere far away, however, in the distant mountains, a force was being assembled to be dispatched — the likes of which the world had never seen before. And, if taken for granted, this evil seed would take root in the soil of prosperity, flourishing into darkness and destruction on a global scale.

"It's time," Kabuto said with a frown, gazing at Madara with mutual ambition. Turning on his heels, he clapped his hands firmly together with malicious intent. "Summoning Jutsu: Edo Tensei!"

Suddenly, the thirsty earth began to tremble in utter reluctance and out erected dozens of wooden coffins, their doors falling to the ground at once in an eerie fashion.

Kabuto smiled, evidently pleased with himself and with the amusement that was destined to come later. "First, the former members of Akatsuki: Itachi, Sasori, Deidara, Kakuzu, and Nagato. On top of that, the former Jinchuurikis: Nibi Yugito, Sanbi Yagura, Yonbi Rōshi, Gobi Han, Rokubi Utakata, and Nanabi Fuu. Then, the former Kages: Second Tsuchikage, Third Raikage, Fourth Kazekage. Also: the Explosion Technique user Gari, Demon Zabuza, Ice Element user Haku, Hanzou the Salamander, Chiyo-ba of Suna, Kimimaro of the Kaguya Clan. From Konoha, Sarautobi Asuma, Dan, Hyūga Hizashi, and other famous people in their time.

Not only that. I'm also using Yamato, who possesses the living cells of Hashirama. It is indeed going as well as I thought. The most famous shinobi in history and the one-hundred thousand powered-up white Zetsus — what a magnificent view."

Madara ambled off toward the exist of the cave, ignoring the man's evident elation. "Here we go."

Kabuto turned to follow suit. "The Fourth Great Ninja World War..."


As opposed to the soldiers spawned of Edo Tensei, who were mostly passive souls being controlled by a singular mastermind, the Allied Shinobi Force consisted of shinobi who bore their own conscience — a frame of mind that didn't sit well with having to corporate with villages with which they harbored grudges; villages known for their devious and malicious acts in the past.

Dispute swiftly broke out amongst the ranks of the divisions, one after the other. But Gaara had no intention to allow these conflicts to gain root. He wouldn't allow such petty squabbles to deprive them of any chances to prevail in this imminent war. And, once it was over, he would strive to ensure that the countries' relationship persevered, along with the peace, prosperity and tranquility that would follow.

Using a measure of controlled sand, the Kazekage divided a few men who were engaged in skirmishes, winning the attention of others. "From the first Great Ninja War to the last, shinobi have wounded and come to hate each other for the benefit of their own nation and village. That hatred led to a desire for power, and created someone like me.

I, too, was once full of hatred and power. I was a Jinchuuriki. I hated this world and the people in it. I constantly thought of nothing but destroying it. I was no different than Akatsuki is now.

However, a certain shinobi from Konoha stopped me!" He raised his hands passionately, his words pure and true. "He shed tears for me, his enemy. Even though I hurt him, he called me his friend! He saved me. We may have been enemies, but we were also both Jinchuuriki!" He drove a palm to his chest, over his heart. "The moment we understand each other's pain, our malice will disappear!"

The four captains cast the man a solemn gaze, knowing, accepting the truth of it.

"There are no enemies here! We are all one, and it's because we've all been affected by Akatsuki! Suna... Iwa... Konoha... Kiri... and Kumo no longer exist! We are now only... shinobi!"

Everyone's eyes widened at that obvious but profound revelation.

"If you still can't forgive Suna, then I will give you my head, once this war is over!"

All of their expressions have changed, Kakashi noted calmly.

"Our enemy is now after the very friend who saved me! If they capture him, it will mean the end of this world! I want to protect him! I want to protect this world! However, I'm too young and naïve to do so! That's why..." he bowed his head humbly, pleadingly. "I need all of you to give me your strength!"

"We're with you, Gaara-sama!"

The crowd was in a frenzy. Irrespective of village, everyone shouted and cheered in exuberance, their merry sound reverberating through the hearts of every single soul and stretching for miles. And then the most unexpected thing happened — all the individuals who were in conflict earlier apologized to each other and made up with a hearty handshake.

Now the tides were even once more. The Shinobi Alliance would overpower the opposition with powerful emotions and diversity. There was no way warriors being guided by a mastermind, by a single, impure heart, could triumph against these aspiring warriors that were connected by heart and soul.

"Those who hear my plea, stand with me!" Gaara roared, stirring the crowd into cheering once more.

Then, with youthful charisma and flare, he started leading the alliance to the destined battlefield. The Medical Support Unit and Sensory and Defense Unit proceeded with their objectives in mind. The Ambush Unit took the lead to organize their preemptive strike, and the Informative Department were hard at work at Headquarters, ensuring that all channels are open and secured to receive and send information when needed.

Meanwhile, the Mizukage, along with a small assembled team, ambled along their path to tend to their mission of overseeing the Daimyos' protection.

The Hokage, Tsuchikage and Raikage remained behind at HQ to oversee procedures and instigate strategic instructions and advice to all the different divisions constituting the alliance.

"We will win the Fourth Great Ninja War!" the Raikage announced sternly, as if his statement would evoke that reality.

"Of course, we will!" the Tsuchikage agreed.

"Yeah," the Hokage nodded.

Gaara frowned beneath the weight of his ambitions. To protect our friends and this world, we will fight as one until our dying breaths!

The wind gusted.

Standing atop lofty pine trees amidst the mountain range far overlooking the valley, a few dozen identical ANBU agents stood watching the Allied Shinobi Force dashing toward their fates. The agents sported silver masks, which concealed their faces.

"Looks like the war is finally starting..."

"Yeah," another warrior said coolly, his hands folded across his chest. "To think we were dispatched weeks ago, just to prepare for this moment."

"And, even so, we still have work to do before we can impart the wealth of knowledge and skills we've amassed."

"Extremely important work," another added vehemently. "Until the original is able, we'll have to do what we can to even out the playing field and protect everyone."

"Someone left earlier on to watch over the Ambush Unit. The rest of us need to assign ourselves to the remaining divisions and pay close heed to how this entire war unfolds."

"Right!" Everyone nodded in agreement and then, in an instant, they were gone.

The Fourth Great Ninja War... what initiated the first one — and what about the other two that followed in its wake? Which sides had emerged the victors during each great conflict? Evidently there were no true victory, not if the same issues had evoked another war years later.

Majority of the shinobi who were apart of this monumental event had never experienced a war before, especially of this magnitude. Of course they were nervous, of course they were apprehensive — but, at the same time, they were adamant to protect their home and their family.

The cycle of hatred and revenge had kindled yet another war with alarming effectiveness, with Akatsuki being at its center; the primary source of fuel. This was it — the moment of truth; the demanding chapter within which Naruto needed to present his answer, his resolve. There was no more time. It was either he severed the cycle of hatred or have another war rise up in the wake of this one.

Though, judging by the magnitude of Madara's ambitions, there wouldn't be another opportunity for war or change. Failing to thwart the man's aspirations now would ultimately mean losing one's freewill. The entire world would be engulfed, imprisoned in a superficial realm governed by the tyrant's ideologies… forever.

Needless to say, Naruto wouldn't stand idly by while humanity was plunged into perpetual darkness, nor would he wait for a replacement to step up to the plate and assume his destined role. His parents, along with sensei, Jiraiya, left him with the responsibility of changing the world. And, even upon his dying breath, he would restlessly see to it that there was change — a magnificent change that would stretch through to infinity, for his family, his friends, and his people.

Using Sai's birds as a means of aerial transportation, the Ambush Unit cautiously flew to the threshold of the enemy's proximity. There, Kankarou — the captain of the Ambush Unit — designated responsibilities to everyone respective of their skills and abilities. Traps were to be laid, trenches dug and, at the same time, a scout was assigned to survey from above while a two-man team of sensory shinobi worked from below. Most importantly, an antenna was set up for chakra transmissions.

Not long after preparations were fully made, the enemy made their move — and a pretty decisive one at that. Using the shinobi from the Aburame Clan as a decoy, who was captured during his mission as a part of the Infiltration Squad, majority of the Ambush Unit were nearly taken out by a powerful bomb that was concealed inside the man's gourd.

A fierce fight broke out afterwards, where Deidara, Sasori, and Shin revealed themselves, along with a pair of Konoha shinobi from the Infiltration Squad that was being controlled like puppets by Sasori. Kankarou, Sai and Omoi switched to the offensive in response, along with their other comrades, where they were able to dismiss Sasori and Shin, while capturing Deidara.

Secluded far away atop a distant tree, an ANBU agent watched with a wanly smile as Shin (Sai's brother), along with Sasori, deteriorated, leaving only the Edo Tensei's sacrificial bodies behind. "There were a few close calls, but it looks like the Ambush Unit was able to pull through. Too bad I couldn't save that guy from the Aburame Clan, though."

Meanwhile. Elsewhere, Kabuto was sitting on a rock, feeling a bit perturbed about the manner with which his Edo Tensei technique was countered by the enemy.

"What's wrong?" Madara asked, his eyes sharp and scrutinizing.

"No, it's nothing," Kabuto replied calmly, his expression controlled. Edo Tensei... it's still a technique that holds many mysterious. But I've got a pretty good feel for it now.

There was a moment of silence.

"Madara," Kabuto was holding his gaze now, his eyes gaurded. "Head out to the front lines. I'll hide myself here while focusing on the technique."

The Uchiha ignored the order, his contrasting eyes drawn to the woman that was elevated behind the fiend by the white snake that was his tail. It was Anko of Konoha — captain of the Infiltration Squad.

This woman... she managed to get this close to our hideout. Kabuto was aware of this, as well; he led her here on purpose. Kabuto, you sly fool. From the start, you planned on having me and the Allied Shinobi Forces take each other out. But that's not happening. You're the one being used.

"She seems to still be alive," Madara said as the serpent tightened its coil, wringing a moan from the unconscious female.

"Since Orochimaru-sama's Cursed Seal has merged with her body, his chakra still runs through her veins; we can't kill her yet," Kabuto protested coolly.

"No," Madara disagreed without skipping a beat. "Finish her off now; she knows the location of our hideout, as well as its entrance."

"It is essential I absorb Orochimaru-sama's chakra from her body while she lives," the man pressed, hoisting her up farther with a smile. "You could say Orochimaru-sama and I have the same body — it enables me to increase my own power. It also enables me to magnify Edo Tensei's power.

Moreover, another vital aspect is... this jutsu uses the body of a living person. That is why I'm keeping this woman alive. Correct me if I'm wrong but, doesn't increasing our arsenal help your ultimate goal?"

Madara held his composure, his eyes shrewd. "As they say: today's friend could be tomorrow's enemy; there's a possibility that your benefit could become my disadvantage."

Kabuto stood, his eyes fixed. "Do you still not trust me? What can I do?"

"Prove to me right here and now that Edo Tensei requires a live body," Madara invited nonchalantly. "And... tell me everything about this jutsu — including, of course, how to stop it."

Kabuto's eyes narrowed to daring slits behind his spectacles. "What if I refuse?"

The Uchiha's eyes were grave, too. "You will never obtain that which you desire, and that which you desire will never be the same again." His eyes were menacing now. "It'll be your life."

Kabuto sustained his cool, considering his options. It wouldn't be a good idea for me to fight someone with the Rinnegan. However, I still have my trump card. I have no reason to rush. "Very well," he conceded. "But, I have no one here to sacrifice." He looked to Anko who was still unconscious due to the effects of the poison used to subdue her. "I already said I can't use this woman."

Without a word, Madara used his Sharingan to summon two of the subordinates that Danzō had by his side when they fought — and, without delay, Kabuto began walking the man through the secrets of the forbidden technique.

Apparently, Edo Tensei was a branch of the Summoning Technique. The user is able to summon the soul of the deceased from the afterlife to the living world. However, to meet the requirements, a portion of flesh from the individual the user is trying to resurrect is needed, which acts as an element to identify that person. Otherwise, the technique would not work.

Once it was possible to summon the desired soul, a living human being was needed to play the role of the vessel for it. Then, the Edo Tensei was complete. Furthermore, a tag was implanted into the vessel's body to control emotions. All of the individual's abilities while they were alive would return, and they would become immortal pawns that executed the user's every command.

Moreover, the technique wouldn't stop, even if the caster is killed. Instead, one would have to strive to control the user, perhaps using a illusionary technique and have him or she perform the "dog", "horse" and "tiger" hand signs to dispel it. Or one could opt to seal away the soul of the resurrected, instead.

Meanwhile Division II was faced with an army of Zetsu warriors that were travelling underground — as indicated by headquarters — the proceeding Ambush Unit made contact with the enemy and immediately fired off a beacon, subsequent to launching a series of explosive attacks to annihilate the targets.

It didn't work.

Haku managed to see through the attack and protected Zabuza in the nick of time using an ice-based defense, while the other two products of Edo Tensei merely regenerated from their injuries.

Exerting his power, Haku was easily able to unmount the squad from their ink-based aerial transports, sending Omoi, Sai and Zaji to the ground in a crash landing. Zaji quickly broke out into a sweat upon realizing that, three of the four shinobi they were confronted with, were Bloodline Limit users.

Just before they were swallowed up the elite byproducts of Edo Tensei, Kakashi, Gai, Lee, and an ANBU agent came to the rescue — driving their hard, cold kunai against that of the assailants.


Everyone came to a sudden alt.

Despite the fact that the undead soldiers had been to the world beyond, farther than any living human had, Haku and Zabuza's eyes dilated in surprise when they recognized their former adversary before them. They didn't think anything could astonish them at this point.

"Kakashi-san!" Haku whispered in his state of disbelief.

"Thank you, Kakashi-san!" one of the shinobi rejoiced, reassured now that the distinguished Copycat Ninja was amidst their ranks.

The Jōnin cast them a sidelong glance. "I wouldn't relax just yet," he warned. "These guys can really cause us some trouble."

Zabuza deepened his already typical frown. "I knew I'd have to fight, but I didn't think it would be against you, Kakashi."

The man's eyes narrowed with open familiarity as he reminisced about his ordeal with the so-called devil of the Hidden Mist village.

"You were supposed to have finished me off on that bridge and sent me to hell," Zabuza said in a husky tone. "But, when I opened my eyes, I was next to Haku. This looks like neither heaven nor hell."

"This is the real world," Kakashi informed calmly. "You were summoned here by the Edo Tensei technique."

"Edo Tensei?"

"Yeah. Akatsuki resurrected you from the afterlife."

"Does he know them?" a shinobi from Division III queried.

"Wait for Captain Kakashi's signal," another man urged.

"Zabuza. Haku," Sakura uttered unconsciously, watching them cautiously.

Regardless of her intentions, she had won their attention. "That kunoichi of yours has grown quite a bit, Kakashi," Zabuza remarked in a tone that almost sounded merry. "How's that other kid doing?"

Haku's eyes widened in nostalgia at the topic of their conversation now, the tides of reverie sweeping him back to that moment in time, when he first met Naruto in the forest. He had mistaken Haku for a girl.

"We lost thanks to that kid," Zabuza declared, nonchalant despite the inconvenience. "He must be all grown up now. And famous."

"Yeah," Kakashi comfirmed. "They named that bridge the Great Naruto Bridge, and everyone in the village calls him the hero full of miracles; he's performed daring and incredible feats since your day."

Haku giggled.

"The two of you helped Naruto find his own Way of the Ninja. He made a promise at your graves, and has grown into a real shinobi since then."

The ANBU chuckled — a familiar and merry sound. "I'm glad you think so, Kakashi-sensei."

Shock. Shocked faces everywhere.

Kakashi grinned behind his mask, his eyes cool and appreciative. "I had a feeling that was you, Naruto. You're the same Kage Bunshin that challenge me, aren't you?"

Naruto used his free hand to push his mask to the side and grinned. "I'm surprised you figured it was me — yeah, I'm the same clone that fought you."

"Na-Naruto-kun! What're you doing here?" Lee questioned heartily.

"Don't worry about the details. Just know that I'm here to help."

Gai frowned. "But the enemy's looking for you. Naruto, you—"

"It's fine, Gai," Kakashi reassured. "This is just one of Naruto's clones; the original plan hasn't been compromised."

Haku smiled. "I knew you'd become even stronger."

Naruto's smile tightened into a thin line. "I'm sorry it had to come to this... but I promise I'll put an end to it."

Zabuza heaved a wolfish grin behind his mask. "This time, I'll leave it all up to you, kid!"

"I think that's enough catching up," Kabuto said from somewhere deep inside a cave. A flickering light from a torch revealed a large paper comprised entirely of evenly drawn squares and, on top of it, was over a dozen tiny pebbles strategically placed, which essentially were the Edo Tensei soldiers that were under his command. "It's time to get serious," he said to himself, a seal on the ground connecting both him and Anko. "My power is rising! Let's raise the curtain!"

Suddenly, something snapped — a thread, a link that connected the Edo Tensei bodies to their will, their conscience, their rationality.

"Kakashi, Naruto...," Zabuza groaned, his body suddenly enveloped by a dark, demonic power that was the essence of his nature. "Stop us..."

Haku and the other two shinobi were entirely engulfed by their elemental chakra, as well — a powerful and menacing aura. And Kakashi quickly told them to fall back.

"Naruto… shouldn't you be where Hinata is?" Sakura inquired curiously once he was beside her.

"And miss being a part of Team 7 with all this action? No way," he grinned.

Sakura allowed a grateful smile.

Sai resumed his defensive stance. "Kakashi-san, they're..."

"Yeah, there's no mistaking it."

Sakura frowned, bracing herself for her personal prologue of the Fourth Great Ninja War. "Momochi Zabuza, the Demon, and Haku of the Ice Element!"

Kabuto grinned, even as he focused his power to tighten the reins of control over the diabolical powers of Edo Tensei. "Zabuza and Haku are fighting my orders rather well," he mused. "I haven't bound them completely yet. It's time I turned them into puppets for killing; they are my tools."

"Kakashi," Zabuza struggled in his mental resistance. "Don't show us mercy; do whatever you can to stop me. I'm already dead. I died as a human."

"Hah, I know," the man replied softly, pushing his forehead protector upward, revealing his Sharingan.

"Thank you, Zabuza-san," Haku uttered in an undertone, a stream of tears spilling from his left eye. And then his conscience was gone, leaving the shinobi an emotionless vessel with Zabuza and the other two warriors swiftly following suit.

"Get ready!" Kakashi prompted, silently disgruntled by the reality unfolding before his eyes. Naruto felt the same way, but he steeled his nerves for what he was about to do.

"Captain Kakashi," a man from his unit called. "I know that guy from Iwagakure — his Tekke Genkai (Bloodline Limit) utilizes the Explosive Element. He's Gari, and was part of the Explosives Unit like Deidara!"

"And that's Pakura, a Sunagakure woman who uses the Flames Element Tekke Genkai," a female from said village prompted cautiously, a note of sentimentality etched in her voice. "Please watch yourself!"

"That's pretty rough," Naruto admitted coolly.

"So, they all have Bloodline Limits," Kakashi frowned his anxiety, and even more so when Zabuza assumed an all too familiar stance to initiate a jutsu.

Ninpou: Hidden Mist Technique.

"All sensory ninja, line-up for combat," the Jōnin instructed with just alarm. "Everyone else, maintain a swastika formation at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock! We will target Zabuza by sound alone!"

Anticipating the demon's trademark technique, based on their unfortunate encounter in the past, Naruto had already gone ahead and sat in a cross-legged position, gathering valuable Senju Energy from the environment. In Sage Mode, his sensory capacity would've rendered the mist ineffective and opened up a window of opportunity.

Knowing what his intentions were, Sakura, Sai, Kakashi, Lee and Gai established their swastika formation around him.

"The mist is thickening," Gai muttered, his senses expanding in his heightened caution. "We won't be able to see soon."

"Regardless," Sakura began. "We need to protect Naruto until he's done meditating; it's crucial that he's not interrupted."

Lee was in awe, gawking at the shinobi with a sidelong gaze. He swallowed. "So, this is what it's like... when he's transitioning into Sage Mode."

Kakashi's eye suddenly narrowed to a crimson slit. "Here they come!"

"Now the air is chilling," a Sunagakure shinobi said in his growing anxiety, and then he gave a pained scream as his life was abruptly ended by the young commander of ice.

In the same beat, another man was swiftly dispatched by Zabuza's silent killing technique, meeting a cruel end by the sharp, cold blade of a customized kunai.

"It really is different than previously." Kabuto's serpentine features was now accentuated after extracting entirely what he needed from Anko's now lifeless body. "To be able to bind them so strongly, Orochimaru-sama's chakra really is something. It even surpassed the control tags I had put in place.

I let them keep their personalities to inflict emotional pain on the enemy, but that weakened my control and their souls died when they experienced a change of heart. I'll be sure to wipe out all emotion this time. However, I don't yet know which one of my pawns I will do it to. I guess I'll use this war to collect data.

As for my other pawns, I'll bind them enough to obey my orders, and allow them to go where they please. I'm sure it would be best to leave the emotions of certain individuals intact."

On the dreary battlefield, a body laid motionless on the ground, skin dark and shriveled beyond recognition, smoke rising from the mouth and empty eye sockets.

"His body was mummified...," a kunoichi murmured, appalled by the grotesque sight. "This technique is..."

Suddenly, the assailant appeared, falling to the ground like a sign that portrayed "death". It was Pakura, and she attacked someone with a kunai who was able to defend himself with a mirroring weapon. Then she brought her leg around in a reverse roundhouse kick, striking another shinobi who was able to hoist his arms on the defensive. Regardless, both men gave a stifled moan and stiffened, falling to the ground after a sudden piercing fire staved through their torso, robbing them of every ounce of moisture.

Flames Element: Heated Steam Killer!

Elsewhere, a Kumogakure shinobi was exchanging a rapid succession of blows with Gari but, with one careless jab, the byproduct of Edo Tensei was about to drive a punch home, triggering a piercing explosion against the man's chest.

Explosive Element: Land Mine Fist!

"He... He blew Tajiki up!" A follow Kumogakure ninja snarled in response, anger and recklessness boiling beneath his skin. And, as soon as the breath of revenge brushed his ear, he charged toward the undead bastard.

Before he could be betrayed by his fury — quickly and efficiently assassinated by Haku using his demonic mirrors — Lee and Gai swept in to the rescue using a dynamic double kick.

Konoha Tsumuji Senpuu! (Twisting Whirlwind Leaves)

Haku blocked the assault, flying a few yards backward.

"Comrades die on battlefield," Gai exclaimed, casting the man a sidelong gaze. "It's sad, but you must accept it! If you lose focus, even more comrades will die! Put their deaths out of your mind! Got it, newcomer?"


Elsewhere — while Sai and a few others protected a meditating Naruto — Sakura was busy healing a downed ally. "You're doing great. Don't worry."

"I finally understand how the enemy operates," Kakashi muttered, clashing with an emotionless Zabuza in the concealing mist. "It's my turn now!"

Kabuto heaved an eerie titter, transfixed on his miniature playing board. "I'm not foolish enough to give my enemy time to counter." He unfurled his hand, revealing a few pebbles that represented his Edo Tensei soldiers.

On the battlefield — as instructed by their conniving puppet master — Pakura and Gari dropped to their knees and slammed their palms down to the ground with sudden purpose.

Summoning Jutsu!

The surrounding earth shook and cracked violently as it gave way for six coffins that erected from the ground in an ominous foreshadowing. In the same beat, to dodge being wounded by Kakashi's kunai, Zabuza eased into a successive series of backflips until he was safely behind the wooden chambers. Then, suddenly, the doors of the coffins fell to the ground, one and then the other, before the demon of the Hidden Mist Village was joined by his notorious brethren.

And he had been reunited with his great cleaver, as well.

"I don't believe it..." Kakashi was in disbelief. "They are all the former members of the Seven Shinobi Swordsmen of Kirigakure."

"These guys are the strongest members in the history of the Seven Shinobi Swordsmen," someone added in a panic.

Capitalizing on the fact that the menacing band of swordsmen were not armed with their notorious weapons, Division III went airborne and assaulted the expressionless bastards with a barrage of various elemental attacks and weapons.

There was utter destruction.

Regardless, the seven demons of Kirigakure had already began their swift regeneration, their eyes set in a passive but hostile stare. And, as soon as they were all whole, one of the men brought forth a scroll and summoned four swords — now five of the seven warriors were dangerously equipped.

No sooner were they armed than the mindless puppets began vanishing behind the thick veil of mist — heartless predators whose puppeteer was more than ready to commence the requiem of annihilation.

Despite the impending peril and the growing anxiety of his comrades, Kakashi maintained his composure and quickly devised an elaborate plan, which would require the help of two men from Konoha's most distinguished shinobi clans along with, Maki, who would use her Cloth Binding technique to completely seal the target.

Once everyone was briefed, Kakashi charged a lethal Chidori and darted into the void after Zabuza with the aid of a sensory ninja. Following suit, all the shinobi from the Ambush Unit and Division II dashed into the fray, to act as their captain's guard. Unfortunately, the valiant warriors soon learned that, against the might of the Seven Shinobi Swordsmen, they couldn't even guard themselves.

Ringo Ameyuri

The wielder of Kiba — the lightening sword — Ameyuri sliced through two hopeless shinobi in a rapid forward spin, dispensing of the warriors in an instant.

Akebino Jinin

The wielder of Kabutowari — the bluntsword — Jinin leaped upward as he confronted a tall, gigantic shinobi holding up a dual cleaver in both hands, as a means of defense. Driving his axe down upon the burly warrior's blade, the soldier of Edo Tensei then drove his hammer down atop his axe, breaking the man's weapon and cleaving him in twine.

Kuriarare Kushimru

The wielder of Nuibari — the longsword — Kushimru launched his needle-like sword with deadly accuracy and precision, staving through over a dozen helpless shinobi. Then, flexing the razor sharp wire attached to the hilt of the sword, he inflicted additional damage to everyone pierced by the weapon.

Munashi Jinpachi

The wielder of Shinbuka — the blastsword — Jinpachi makes a one-hundred and eight degree spin, using but a single hand to swing his massive sword around. Three shinobi huddled together to block the massive blade using their sword and kunai but, before they could respond to the dozens of explosive tags they realized was covering the surface of the sword, there was a fierce explosion.

They were annihilated in an instant.

Suikazan Fuguki

A pair of shinobi quickly homed in on the big-boned product of Edo Tensei, readying their vicious assault, only to be pierced to death by a barrage of earthen projectiles from the man's long, ebony hair.

Fuguki was the first shinobi to wield Samehada — and he did so exceptional well, as much as its latest owner, who was Kisame from Akatsuki.

Hōzuki Mangetsu

Mangetsu, the elder brother of Suigetsu, stood over the warm corpse of a most unfortunate ninja, a finger still piercing the man's jugular in the eerie gloom of the mist. Kunai and shuriken littered the surrounding area, accompanied by the dead bodies of souless shinobi who faced the manevolent fiend.

Mangetsu was the only member of the group who could wield all seven swords. He was known as the "Second Coming of the Devil". And as his body solidifies from his liquid form, that claim seemed to be nothing but the truth.

Naruto Uzumaki (Kage Bunshin)

Naruto's eyes snapped open, his pupils and eye lids accentuated with the sign of the sage. Sai, Omoi and the other shinobi guarding his motionless body felt a spell of relief as the teenager pushed to his feet with a cool and reassuring demeanor.

Despite the obscuring mist, Naruto's his eyes flitted about quickly, assimilating all that was happening with his sharp sensory abilities. And then, suddenly, he was gone — throwing himself into the fray concealed of grey.

Indeed, this clone didn't possess as many techniques as the original, nor did he pack the same wallop — but he shared the same level of guts and determination in having his goals bear fruit. And, right now, he was adamant to sample the sweet taste of victory once more.

Kakashi's eyes widened in abject shock as his hand plunged through Haku's borrowed heart with a sickening crack, blood splattering on Zabuza's back — the man the teenager opted to protect. As the young slave of Edo Tensei clutched Kakashi's arm, holding it tightly in place, the Jōnin couldn't help but surrender to a memory and recklessly marvel at the irony of the situation.

The moment Zabuza turned around, Kakashi knew exactly what would follow. But, unlike in the past, this corpse of Edo Tensei wouldn't hesitate to cut through his beloved subordinate, and through him, in turn.

The demon whirled his sword around in a fierce and deadly curve, intent on proving that undeniable truth.

The mist around them suddenly dispersed as Naruto appeared in an abrupt burst of speed and calm. He was kneeling, his arm guard supporting the back of a sword that had a blade reinforced by wind-natured chakra. Sparks gashed from the two steels as our hero's sword sliced through the cleaver, like a hot knife through butter.

The severed blade flew in a spiral and stuck point down in the ground.

In an instant — capitalizing on the puppet's disadvantage — Kakashi had forged another Chidori and was more than ready to retaliate with the finishing move.

He looked down on the flickering current.

Zabuza and Haku — despite how troublesome the fight against them in the past was, Kakashi was happy they were the first with whom Naruto had fought. The experience taught the young aspiring shinobi that, to become really strong, he needed to have many things that he needed to protect.

Zabuza and Haku... their death and their tears... they were those of a true mutual bond. As a fellow shinobi, there were things that Kakashi wanted to protect, too — and the way the two roughs died was one of those things. After all, he was their final adversary.

Naruto, what do you think?

The man averted his gaze from the illuminating play of electricity in his hand to look at the youngster. The sage's eyes were glum and reminiscent, his lips pressed to a thin, telling line; this was an emotional battle for him, as well, and he would rather see its end sooner than later.

Heeding the silent request, Kakashi made quick work of the puppet and demanded that Maki performed her Cloth Binding Technique to seal them both.

Before long — following the dispatching of the caster — the mist gradually began fading, revealing the imposing forestry and the remaining six members of the Swordsmen clan.

Pushing to his feet, mirroring Naruto's action, Kakashi grabbed the hilt of Zabuza's sword and watched in awe as the blade repaired itself using the remnants of blood that was smeared on it.

He lift the massive cleaver with one hand. "Edo Tensei... this technique cannot be forgiven! Sai," he called to the former Root operative. "On the next one, we'll use the sealing technique you learned in Root. Follow me!"

The youngster frowned. "But, I haven't learned that technique yet!"

"Danzō had thought very highly of you, didn't he?" Kakashi replied questioningly, reassuringly. "There's no need to hold back your emotions anymore."

Naruto allowed a short smile as he sheathed his sword.

"Well, it usually takes a while for me to get fired up, but this time, my fuse was shorter than it has been in a long while." His forehead creased in his exasperation. "I'm Kakashi — the Copy Ninja who has copied over a thousand techniques. From now on, as my name suggests... I will unleash them!

Naruto!" He looked to the sage who was still silently fuming with the feat he had to perform a while ago, eager to vent his fury on an unfortunate soul. "Will you fight with me?"

Naruto spied the bastard he wanted to crush beneath his rage, his eyes fixed on the emotionless corpse, like a predator stalking its prey. "Do you even need to ask? Let's do this, Kakashi-sensei!"


Elsewhere, the main battle unit (Division II) was about to make initial contact with the enemy, as well. And they were quite eager to bare their fangs at the target of everyone's misfortunate and disdain. Acting on the intel they received from HQ, Kitsuchi — the captain of the division — along with Kurotsuchi, his daughter, performed a synchronized earth-based technique to eject the parasitic clones from their underground route and cover.

Earth Element: Elevating Ground!

The earth trembled in reluctant submission as a ginormous, volcano-like structure towered up from the ground. Then it erupted but, instead of red molten lava and brimstone — there was an eruption that was ivory in color.

Thousands of Zetsu clones spewed high into the sky, casting an ominous shadow upon the land and daunting the shinobi with their sheer numbers and grotesque figuration. But, suddenly, Kurotsuchi's eyes narrowed as she spied a spec of yellow amidst the menacing sea of white, looking passed the ANBU attire to the man's familiar face.

"Wait. Isn't that the kid who interfered when Iwagakure rogues ambushed Akatsuchi and I at the port?"

Division II watched in utter anticipation and curiosity as the airborne Kage Bunshin summoned two more clones at his side, to assist in the forging of a gigantic ball of energy. Glorious, imposing, frightening, in its blue radiance, it glinted in the sun, growing larger by the second. By pouring their entire chakra reserves into the orb in a sacrificial effort for victory, the clones were certain the tides would've risen in their favor.

The sphere hummed in a high-pitched whistle as its carefully integrated with wind-natured chakra, which formed of a large shuriken around it. All three clones continued injecting their life force into the sphere until it became destabilized, swelling roughly seven times its regular size.

Then it exploded.

The sphere expanded rapidly until it was covering a vast diameter, disintegrating the crater of the earthen structure and swiftly annihilating all the parasitic clones that were within range, including the three casters. The destructive field of the blast lingered, dismissing clouds and shaking the earth but, above all else, obliterating the continuous wave of genetically engineered bastards that catapulted from the earth.

And the wind gusted, blasting the shinobi with violent repercussions that forced them into a hasty retreat.

"I see that kid's still as reckless as ever," Kurotsuchi murmured, looking to her father who was evidently bewildered by what he had seen. "But, to think he was this strong... all along."

Kitsuchi watched as the lifeless corpses fell to the ground, tattered and destroyed on a microscopic level. He was awestruck, but quickly shook off his fascination upon realization that roughly over a thousand out of the twenty-thousand emotionless soldiers had survived the deadly impact. "Don't lose focus, everyone! Attack!"

"That Naruto's always tryin' to show us up!" Kiba heaved a wolfish grin as he charged toward a horde of Zetsu warriors, both him and Akamaru gearing to launch into a spin. "But I won't sit back while he hogs all the spotlight!" Gatsuuga (Fang Passing Fang)!

Secret Technique: Bug Ball, Shino chanted, setting millions of his bugs on a handful of enemies, coating them jet-black with vicious insects that completely sucked them dry of chakra. "Naruto just keeping climbing higher," the Chūnin added, keeping a vigilant eye out for close-ranged enemies. "At this rate, we'll be left too far behind to even see his back."

"Well, I won't sit idly by and be outperformed by a mere Genin," Neji announced coolly, zipping toward a cluster of soldiers, his Byakugan activated and focused.

Stopping a few meters away from the enemy, he eased into a spin, expelling chakra from his body that enclosed him within a protective sphere, downing multiple enemies within proximity.

Eight Trigrams Palms Revolving Heaven!

The moment he ceased rotating, his back turned, a Zetsu soldier took the opportunity to capitalize on his blind spot, imprisoning the Jōnin with curving spikes jutting out from its body.

"Ne-Neji!" Kiba called, noting his comrade's dilemma.

"There's too many of them!" Neji snarled and yet he kept his wits about him.

Averting his eyes to the side, he realized that the fiend was absorbing his chakra. Knowing that time was the essence, he focused his mind, releasing a sudden burst of energy from his chakra pours, which blasted the enemy, rendering him motionless upon the ground. But, with each fall of the enemy, a dozen more appeared in their place.

"Geez, there's no end to them!" Kiba argued, flanking Neji now.

"Stop complaining and move!" the Hyūga commanded, feeling the pressure from the enemy's sheer numbers, as well.

"Each one is strong and persistent," Shino informed, felling that same clone that tried to imprison his comrade. "This is turning into a battle of attrition."

All of a sudden, an ANBU agent plummeted down in the center of the battlefield, driving his sword into the earth in the same beat. For a moment — his eyes closed — he seemed to use the blade of the sword as a medium to feel the wavelength of the earth, pinpointing the foothold of all the enemies on the battlefield.

Earth Element: Skewering Spears!

No sooner had the words left his lips than every parasitic soldier within a half mile radius was scewered into oblivion by an earthen spike, elevated high into the air like a scene from a horror film — a massacre; complete and utter domination.

Kiba gasped in shock, and then scowled at his peer, a fang poking from his mouth. "Dammit, Naruto — why do you have to be so friggin' awesome!"

Shino frowned behind his shades, comparing how pale in comparison his Ninjutsu was to this mere counterpart of Uzumaki Naruto. Naruto... you challenged me just a few weeks ago, but just how much stronger are you, exactly? And when did you learn to wield earth element techniques?

Neji's cool demeanor betrayed the profound shock he felt at the warrior's remarkable feat. But he held his composure, his caution still piqued.Naruto. If just one of your clone is capable of such tremendous power and skill, then I am reassured that Hinata-sama is within good hands. Please keep the princess safe.

"Hey, kid," Kitsuchi called in a friendly tone, recognizing the earth technique the warrior had exhibited, as if it were his own.

Naruto pushed to his feet and effortlessly stomped the ground, manipulating the earth in such a way that it ejected his sword into a spiral, which he caught with a pizzazz that made Kiba's blood seethe beneath his skin.

Relinquishing his Sage Mode before pushing his mask to the side, our hero looked to the man with an appreciative grin. "Hey, Grumpy-san!"

The man returned a crooked grin of his own. "After stalking me for days on end and whining for me to teach you Earth Ninjutsu, I thought you were going to prove to be an ungrateful apprentice and leave your mentor here to die."

Naruto heaved a laugh and laced his fingers behind his head. "You may be as stubborn as rock, but I wouldn't abandon you like that."

Kurotsuchi was dumbfounded. "Dad — you know him?"

Before the man could reply, however...

"Captain Kitsuchi — message from HQ!" a fellow comrade called, his expression that of dismay. "Thousands of enemies are passing right beneath us!"

"Dad!" Kurotsuchi called tellingly.

"Shut up, I know!" He looked to Naruto whose frivolous facial expression had hardened into lines of seriousness. "Naruto — think you can keep up?"

"Hell yeah!"


Kinkaku's Undying Wrath!

The heat was excruciating.

Even the elements would not offer any sympathy for the shinobi who would dare defile her bosom. A lizard dashed from a distance into the cool shade casted by a rock. The torrid wind swept over golden dunes and across rocky pillars dominating the barren terrain of the imminent battlefield. This was the region, however dry and desolated, where a revolutionary and memorable battle would soon unfold. This was where ideologies and conflicting ambitions would clash to decide the future of the world.

An incredibly powerful byproduct of Edo Tensei, a man wrapped from head to toe in bandages ambled along the sandy wasteland — a direct medium to the conniving puppeteer. Suddenly, the emotionless soldier halted in his tracks, quickly flying through a series of seals to summon three coffins before him.

"The Second Tsuchikage, the Third Raikage, the Second Mizukage and the Fourth Kazekage," Kabuto mused from his new hideout. It was brighter. "It's too bad there's no Hokage, but I still have four former Kage gathered." He tittered. "I'll have them kill their successors to their hearts' content."

He awakened them.

The Raikage, Mizukage and Kazekage opened their eyes, instantly curious as they assessed their surroundings. The Tsuchikage — calm and collected despite being within the ranks of his enemies — took the liberty of explaining the current situation to the men. After all, awareness was a necessary and reassuring recipe for shinobi.

Several kilometers away, according to the Tsuchikage, he could sense a man with the same chakra-nature as the former Kazekage and he was backed by a large army. Likewise, Gaara was using his technique to acquire visual on the four men, knowing that his foes were strong with one of which being his father. Surely this fight wouldn't be limited to the assertion of physical power, but a clash of emotions, too.

After receiving information from HQ, Shikamaru and Temari took the initiative to inform Division IV that the Ambush Unit had already came into contact with the enemy and that the masterminds were using the forbidden Edo Tensei technique to revive the dead to fight in their stead.

Quiet chatter and cold unease washed over the ranks of the shinobi, but then everyone held their tongue and gazed up at the young commander as he raised his hand in a telling gesture.

"That's the signal," Shikamaru translated. "The enemy must be close."

The valiant warriors steeled their nerves at that jarring revelation, knowing that anxiety and fear would not contribute positively toward their endeavor to protect their home and family. Each man and women placed the responsibility of defending their honor and pride upon their own shoulders; they would not cower away or sit idly by while their nation and believes are trampled without regard by the enemy.

They would not yield! Never!

Meanwhile, at headquarters, the head of the sensory department was busy focusing on filtering through all the parasitic clones of Zetsu so that they could identify the real threats, which would be those individuals resurrected using the taboo arts of Edo Tensei. Whether their emotions were intact or not, they were the most polished and refined threats — second to the puppet masters, of course.

Finally, after a few minutes of deep meditation, Ao — the head of the sensory department — was able to identify the shinobi that were brought back from the afterlife. And his findings were so alarming that he couldn't help but break out into a sweat. Tsunade and the Raikage broke out into a sweat, too, once informed that they had family who had been brought back, as well. For the Raikage — it was his father, while Tsunade had his lover returned — no, not Jiraiya but, Dan.

Unit I was stationed at a beach front. Large, deadly spikes secured along the threshold of the shore. Regardless, the parasitic bastards were slowly advancing toward the hazard, eager to drive the resistance into oblivion as they were specifically programmed.

"Here they come," Darui murmured, with more annoyance than anxiety. "Give the signal to prepare for battle."

"There are so many of them..." Tenten was appalled, unconsciously wondering if she had enough ninja tools to face so many enemies.

"It's not just their numbers I'm worried about," Hiashi added with that Hyūga-flavored nonchalance. "HQ was right. I can distinguish several powerful ones with my Byakugan."

The man's composure was suddenly jostled when he spied Kakuzu sauntering toward the shore and, even more so, when he saw Asuma, flanked by Dan and Hizashi, his younger brother. Just what manner of unholy deed had he performed or condoned why he was faced with such distress? Was he perhaps being punished for what happened years past regarding the enemy's covert operation to kidnap his daughter?

The Raikage was in a fiercer uproar when he caught wind that Kumogakure's Gold and Silver Brothers: Kinkaku and Ginkaku, where also a part of the Edo Tensei regiment. In retaliation, he decided it was perhaps time he made a scene onto the battlefield. But, Shikaku was able to convince him otherwise, reinforcing his persuasion by using a table-sized map to aid in the presentation of a strategic plan — one of which was deemed superb by the Tsuchikage, down to the most meticulous of details.

The logistics were quickly broadcasted amongst the communication groups and shared with each division.

However, to ensure that the plan was indeed destined for success, the elderly but well-seasoned shinobi decided he would face off against his former master, Muu (The Second Tsuchikage). It was the second who taught him how to wield the Dust Release — a Bloodline Expansion, which is the simultaneous combination of three natural chakra natures to form a new element.

In addition to exclusive exposure to the Fourth Great Ninja War, the man couldn't help but muse regarding the consequences of being blessed with long life. But he enjoyed a great challenge.

Meanwhile, at the coastal battlefield, Zetsu soldiers stand stationary atop the salty blue tides, as if waiting for a signal to charge. They were clustered together in the thousands, their eyes fixed, their brows furrowed.

Beyond the daunting spikes slanted in the sand on the shore, were thousands of shinobi warriors perched on the sheer cliff side overlooking the beach. Standing in the forefront as their captain was Darui, and he was more than willing to start dispatching the bastards to hell.

"It's pretty dull, but I guess I'll show you why I was entrusted with this coastal area." The men watched him. "I'll start! Follow me!"

"YEAH!" Everyone assumed an offense stance in one fluid motion, their combined morale and determination portraying an ominous and dangerous aura.

Darui formed a seal and focused his power — simultaneously combinding lightening and water to unleash a black, purple and white bolt of electricity from his body.

Lightening Release: Black Panther!

The lethal surge of raw power took on the form of a feral panther. With shining eyes and razor sharp fangs, it zipped out into the water, swiftly electrocuting the defenseless Zetsu soldiers.

"Ahhhh!" They screamed a black curse.

"Black lightening?" A Kumogakure shinobi said questioningly.

"Captain Darui is the only one the previous Raikage-sama passed the lightening tattoo on to!" another shinobi informed with a smog grin, as if tasting victory already.

"Sorry 'bout that," Darui murmured coolly, dispatching another ferocious lightening-forged panther at the emotionless bastards, wringing another high-pitched scream from them.

But those that were outside of the current's range of attack quickly took to the air in a high vault, adamant on getting to the shore and crushing the opposition as they were specifically commanded. In retaliation, however, Tenten retrieved two large scrolls holstered at her sides and evoked a space-time technique — hurling a fusillade of projectiles at the incoming horde. And the other shinobi followed suit, storming the parasitic clones with a barrage of shuriken and kunai, felling them in one fell swoop while they were airborne.

But the clones were persistent and vast in number; those at front inadvertently acted as a shield for those at the back, who eventually made their way to the forefront without being scathed.

"Don't let them break through the barricade," a team leader instructed robustly, prepped and eager to charge forward. "Go! Defend the fort!"

With their blood bubbling beneath their skin and their adrenaline at its peak, the gallant warriors leaped into a destiny fraught with peril; determined to slay the evil that overshadowed their loved ones and a future of prolonged peace.

Following Kakuzu, Dan and Asuma eventually joined the fray. And, upon paving a path to the cliffs, they were confronted by a headstrong Akimichi Chōza, who is the father of our little piggy friend, Chōji.

Elsewhere, Hizashi was ambushed by a group of shinobi stationed along the narrow ridges of the mountain face. And they were aware they didn't stand a chance against the Hyūga, unless they used their numbers to their advantage. Before their barrage of shurikens could reach the man, however, he eased into his Eight Trigrams Palms Revolving Heaven to protect himself. But, no sooner had he ceased his rotation than he was confronted by an even more pressing threat: his elder sibling.

"Brother..." the man's voice was low and conflicted.

Hiashi didn't utter a word.

"Forgive me. I, a member of the branch family, sworn to protect the main family, have become your enemy." He frowned. "This is my punishment for betraying the main family long ago. My body moves on its own. It seems like my wish to die for the sake of the village has been negated, after all."

Hiashi's frown mirrored his brother's, even as a memory of the man's last words rose to the surface of his mind:

— "Therefore, please tell Neji this: that I was not killed while protecting the main family, but that I willingly chose death, to project him… my siblings… my family… and my village."

"This must be my fate as a member of the branch family."

"There is no such fate!" Hiashi said sternly, assuming an offensive stance. "Your son has been fighting to prove just that! So has my daughter!"

Hizashi's eyes dilated in his shock. Neji and Hinata-sama have...

Hiashi grinned inwardly, recalling the defeat he endured under the weight of Naruto's resolve and the strength of his fists. "It's no longer about the branch family protecting the bloodline of the main family. We protect each other simply as comrades!"

"To think that such a time would come to pass..." Hizashi said, focusing the power of his eyes. "Then, brother... that is all the more reason why I wish to fall by your hand!"

Right then, they lunged toward each other, driving their palms forward to make one. The collision generated a fierce gust of wind that stirred both sand and debris — repercussions befitting two masters of the Gentle Fist.

Meanwhile the battle raged on, HQ transmitted new orders to both Division I and IV. Apparently, Division IV had to be divided in half and sent to reinforce Division I for the time being. Shikamaru felt reassured about the strategy despite Temari's anxiety, and, even more so, when the third Tsuchikage arrived at Gaara's side, to aid as reinforcement.

Hopefully their combined strength would suffice in taking down the Second Tsuchikage and his Bloodline Expansion. And then there were the other three Kage, as well.

At the coastal battlefield, lifeless corpses of Zetsu soldiers lay scattered across the beach, like dead leaves, courtesy of the relenting and overwhelming might of Division I. Regardless, the parasitic pawns kept spawning, adhering to their sole purpose of seek and destroy.

In Darui's case, however, he was faced with a fiercer and more prominent pair of enemies — the Two Lights of Kumogakure: Kinkaku and Ginkaku. On an attempted to capture the Kyuubi in the past, the two brothers were swallowed by the beast for two weeks. During that time, until they were spat out, the brothers feasted on the creature's belly and eventually became hosts to its chakra.

Joining Darui in the fight was Samui — one of the Raikage's personal and trusted assistants — along with her brother, Atsui. An epic fight ensued on the ocean's surface where the two siblings were eventually consumed and sealed within a gourd, which was one of the four weapons the brothers possessed that supposedly belonged to the legendary Rikudō Sennin.

As the fight went on and the situation developed to its bleakest hour for the young division captain, the man pulled off a clever stunt — or rather, his luck transcended all facets of understanding. He was able to turn the tablets around and seal Ginkaku in the process, upon obtaining the gourd and the sword that supplemented its unique power.

Kinkaku was livid. He didn't utter a single word. And his eyes were cast in shadow as blood seared through his veins in a telling rage. His body pulsated. "Bastard!" He finally said, a familiar aura engulfing his body with ominous intensity. "How dare you?" His eyes flashed. "Who are you?!"

The water exploded around him then, shooting up into the sky, like a geyser, masking the man's heinous and animalistic transformation. As if the man's rage had stirred that of the ocean's, the water suddenly went violent, pushing Darui back.

On the shore — sensing the imminent danger — the shinobi fled in an instant, abandoning the parasitic clones to the rising tides and the wrath of the waves. On the cliffs, too, the shinobi retreated just in time to avoid being pummeled by one of the Kinkaku's deadly tails, which had suddenly stretched and expanded immeasurably. Unfortunately, the clones' fate was not as convenient; they were utterly annihilated in the swift and merciless assault.

"What's happening?" Darui exclaimed, trying to retain his footing as the tides persisted in its endeavor to swallow him.

The exertion of ominous power ceased and the water gradually calmed itself, revealing the complete transformation of the enraged byproduct of Edo Tensei. Kinkaku was different — by no means a human, dead or alive. His entire body was layered a rusty shade of black and red, eyes and mouth a radiant white abyss, and five large tails swayed sinisterly at his rear.

Oi-Oi..., Darui's eyes were wide with horror. This almost looks like...

"How dare you do that to Kinkaku!" the fiend growled, and then a nasty sneer quickly turned into a boisterous roar, dripping with disdain and fury.

"It's as if he's the Kyuubi's Jinchuuriki," Darui murmured past the sharp gravity of fear that was crashing down on his chest.

"That seems to be the case...," a voice said, low and muffled.

Its sudden import brought Darui's attention to his right flank, where he saw a motionless man slowly rising from beneath the water, defying the laws of the unruly element. He was dry and clad in a concealing mask and ANBU attire, perfectly composed as he knelt atop the placid waters from which he had emerged.

"...Who are you?" Darui asked, desperately trying to slow the panicked quiver of his heart. He didn't sense any hostility emanating from the mysterious agent, who evidently hailed from the hidden leaf. But he was still curious. Regardless, he did well to keep his eyes on the source where the real threat lie.

"I'm an ally," the man responded confidently, keeping his eyes on the source of their turmoil, as well. "I saw your fight earlier. You were able to seal one of the brothers into that gourd, right? I'll help you to seal this guy, too."

"That won't work," Darui prompted, tasting the bitterness of that grim reality. "For that to work, I would need to draw out his word-spirit using the Koukinjou. But it's now hidden beneath the Kyuubi's Cloak."

"Tch!" the warrior clicked his tongue, most displeased with what he had been told. He pushed to his feet. "I can't say if I'll be successful, but I'll try to retrieve the Koukinjou on his arm. I'll keep him preoccupied. In the meantime, try to come up with some other means of sealing him, just in case."

Darui frowned, breaking out into a sweat. "You don't intend to fight that thing on your own, do you? This is the Kyuubi's chakra we're talking about here."

The nonchalant hero grinned behind his mask. "Right now, I'm the best chance you've got to pull this thing off — so just save the sentimentality, okay."

Darui thought about that for a while, but then he shook his head. Each second he spent in denial and hesitated, countless number of shinobi were losing their lives on the battlefield. All this needed to end. "Alright," he turned to leave. "I'll leave this up to you."

The man nodded as he assumed an offense stance. "Hey, you. Imposter — I'll be the one to take you on. Bring it!"

Despite the warrior's open challenge, the creature scowled and then shot three of its tails at Darui with deadly accuracy. Light on his feet, the man was able dodge each assault, his retreat leading him back to shore where he took refuge behind a sizeable chunk of rock that had broken off from the sheer cliff behind him.

But the fiend didn't allow its ruthless attack to go to waste — each tail stretched farther upon missing its mark, slamming into the face of the cliff with destructive power, swiftly vanquishing both enemy and ally alike.

"Wha-What is this?" Tenten murmured, flabbergasted by the sudden decimation that unfurled before her. In her curiosity, she traced the tail still set in the cliff to its source, where she saw a familiar beast obscured by mist and, beside it, was a masked warrior that she knew quite well. "Na-Naruto," she whispered beneath her breath, and she felt a sudden spike of confidence by his presence.

Somewhere on the cliffs, Kakuzu smiled amusingly, even as he strangled two Iwagakure shinobi into oblivion. "Haven't seen Kinkaku like that in a while. That means Ginkaku must be down."

The proclaimed shinobi of light roared to the skies, relishing the aura of death and agony that lingered on the battlefield — but it wasn't enough. Such an insignificant death toll wouldn't cool the fires of vengeance that burned hot through his veins, pounding relentlessly in his head — a constant reminder of his brother's capture.

Suddenly, there was the echoing hum of swordplay and Kinkaku's mighty tails were cut clean through. Before the creature could respond, however — time slowing to this moment — Naruto delivered a thunderous punch to the fiend's jaw, sending it crashing and tumbling, cleaving through the water's surface until it came to an explosive halt.

Water spewed into a high column. Everyone was dumbfounded by what they had witnessed, but Kinkaku quickly recovered and regained his footing. That wasn't enough to down the enraged beast, and its severed tails began to regenerate — giving the fiend the opportunity to extract sweet vengeance.

"What's taking the backup so long?" Shikaku queried in his impatience to Inouichi. "What's the status of Darui's First Squad?"

"Ginkaku, one of the key enemy fighters, has apparently been captured," the man informed slowly. "But Kinkaku is going berserk wrapped in the Kyuubi's Cloak..."

The Raikage pushed to his feet abruptly. "Go, Mabui! Begin preparations!"

"Sir!" She acknowledged, swiftly taking her leave.

Knowing that it would almost be impossible to subdue Kinkaku in that form, the Raikage came up with the alternative to seal the man using the brothers' last Treasured Tool — the Amber Exorcism Bottle. Apparently, it was one of the Treasured Tools used to keep the Hachibi sealed. Unlike the gourd, Benihisago, which was used to seal Ginkaku — this will record and seal the target's voice just by having them respond to the wielder's call.

Using Mabui's technique to transfer matter at the speed of light, the Treasured Tool was instantaneously teleported to Darui on the battlefield. At the same time, Shikaku was put in charge of coming up with a bullet-proof strategy as to how the tool would be used, considering the fact that Kinkaku would know how to counter an instrument of sealing that once belonged to him.

In his ferocious and intimidating Kyuubi form, wrapped and shielded by the demon's evil chakra, Kinkaku began to circle our hero. Claws of black steel, body as blistering fire and relentless night, eyes glowing white — insidious crystals from the deepest depths of hell itself. The giant devil sniffed, putting to memory the human whose life was about to come to an end.

But Naruto was still, his senses swelling, his instincts as sharp as the blade he held firm in his hand. While Kinkaku's rage howled for retribution for but his brother, Naruto had a responsibility to defend the entire shinobi world, and the Senju Energy coursing gloriously through his body would assure his ambition.

Kinkaku blinked. And Naruto was gone, accelerating faster than the fiend's eyes could perceive. In but a fraction of a second, the speedy sage was above him, pounding the beast down into the unforgiving blue where he was met with a water serpent of Naruto's creation.

The serpentine water-deity restrained the beast in its powerful jaws as commanded, towering from the dark depths into the sky, where Naruto quickly followed up by slamming a massive Rasengan into the heinous fiend.

Sage Art: Ultra-Big Ball Rasengan!

The sphere's high-pitched screech and sound of impact echoed throughout the coastal battlefield in a deafening wave, winning everyone's attention. And a circumference of the ocean bent into an indentation by the force of the blast.

But Naruto wasn't through.

A hundred feet above his head, a Kage Bunshin performed a three-hundred-and-sixty degree spin and released another clone toward the ocean's surface, like a meteorite traveling at a phenomenal speed from the deepest cosmos of outer space. Slowly, the original stepped to the side, and the humanoid rocket collided into a motionless Kinkaku, his two feet crashing down into the fiend's stomach, like a sledgehammer.

Following the domineering cry of the Rasengan, a loud explosion bounced off the walls of the mountain face, water rising to the heaven's once more, the salty blue plunged into turmoil below the sage's feet. But, despite the extensive damage he must have dealt to the savage beast, he did not lower his guard, not for an instant.

Kinkaku eventually resurfaced from the unforgiving tides, breathless, glowering. He was missing an arm and three of his five tails were crudely severed — all from the assault earlier. Even though he was a byproduct of Edo Tensei, even though he was an immortal warrior, the gleam of rage in his eyes had, instead, been replaced by a speckle of fear. He feared for his ego — for his sense of pride and superiority.

With his sharpened sense of sight granted by his animalistic characteristics, Kinkaku gazed into Naruto's oceanic eyes through his mask. The sage's eyes were deep and calm — and somewhere within those enigmatic depths, the man knew his adversary was yet to unleash his full force.

Despite being gripped by the icy hands of fear, Kinkaku was able to witness when Darui received the Amber Exorcism Bottle, and assumed that the strategy was to permanently immobilize him. But he wouldn't get sealed; he wouldn't allow himself to fall prone to their half-assed plan.

Like a tethered projectile, the fabricated fiend fired its tail toward a hidden Darui in an attempt to silence the man's futile plot, but Naruto was suddenly there, effortlessly deflecting the tail with the back of his hand, like a don.

The dust cleared to reveal four additional Darui. The Treasured Tool had been duplicated, as well. The man was using the Replication Technique — a superb tactic in confusing the enemy and buying time.

Darui grinned. "I appreciate the help, but I would've been cool without it, too."

Naruto spared him a brief gaze. "It's better to be safe than sorry when the stakes are this high. Besides, I can tell those ninja tools require a lot of chakra to be used."

The man frowned, clutching the gourd beneath his arm and the sword within his hand. "Just who are you, exactly? You're awfully strong for a shinobi without rank — and you're not wearing the Allied Shinobi Force forehead protector..."

Naruto smiled behind his mask. "If I wanted my identity to be known, I wouldn't be wearing this mask now, would I?"

Two groups of shinobi flanked Kinkaku, with another group appearing at the forefront, adamant in subduing the melancholic demon with their combined attacks. "Protect Captain Darui with your lives!" said a group leader, throwing his arm forward. "Fire Element Squad — attack!"

The group of shinobi formed the respective seals and quickly engulfed the beast in an undulating river of flames, ushered into optimism by the creature's pained howl. But the naïve warriors had only made severe their own downfall; with one sweep of its fire-imbued tail, Kinkaku was able to be rid of the tenacious insects.

"Water Element!" another captain shouted authoritatively.

The passive waters readily surrendered to control and towered into cascading columns of spears, plummeting down at the ferocious fiend. But Kinkaku recognized the threat and effortlessly leaped from one spot to another, avoiding the assault. What he didn't recognize, however, was the fact that the towers of water was just a mere distraction to conceal the four faces of earth that had quietly constructed itself narrowly around him.

His eyes widened.

"Earth Element Squad!" the third group leader said instructively, clapping his hands tightly together as he molded his chakra.

His subordinates followed suit, linking to the same walls of earth to collectively pool their strength in forcefully crushing the grotesque creature between the two pillars. But the beast would not yield. His monstrous strength was holding the walls of its doom apart.

Suddenly, Darui and one of his counterparts were standing atop the structure within which the beast was trapped. "Sorry 'bout this," he murmured quietly, both clones' arm flickering with black electricity. "Double Black Panther!" they asserted in unison.

As feral and hostile as the very creature they targeted, the lightening-forged beasts pounced on the defenseless bastard — and, using the water beneath his feet as a conductor, electrocuted the cowardly imposter, paralyzing the undead fiend.

With a lazy rumble, the earthen walls slowly squeezed to a close.

"Did we get him?" the Earth Element Squad leader said questioningly, his anxiousness shared by all.

There was a moment of silence, and then Naruto warned them to get back, sensing that the creature was unfazed, feeling the renewed rage that would accompany its devastating retaliation. But it was much too late.

The structure began to crack. Then it exploded, raining down chunks of rock upon the unsuspecting shinobi, like cannonballs, crushing them like insects. Kinkaku followed up by using his tails to skewer Darui's clones before they could prove even more of a nuisance. "I'm gonna kill every last one of you bastards!"

Before the blanket of dust could waver, giving his position away to the one person who had proven a considerable threat, the beast careered from atop the water into the face of the cliff with destructive might, cleaving the landscape in two.

The defenseless warriors cried out as they lost their footing and their bearings amidst the falling debris and ensuing destruction. Both ally and foe fell prone to falling rocks, and those few who were able to get airborne before they were fatally crushed, only made themselves victims to the fiend's flailing tails.

From a higher plateau of the cliffs, Tenten and a few others watched in chilled horror as the creature made waste to the entire platoon of shinobi that were stationed below. They didn't stand a chance in the face of the fiend's animalistic fury — and, from the sinister look in its eyes, the rampage was just beginning. It wouldn't be able to rest until all was still and barren.

Tenten frowned, her scalp prickling with anxiety. "He got them all," she whispered, fearing that if she spoke even a single octave higher, she would be heard, snuffed out and slowly torn apart by the inhumane monster. "Naruto. Where are you…?"

Instead of Tenten, however, Kinkaku was more interested in piercing a hole through Darui's chest and wrenching his heart out for the man to see, just before he drew his final, jagged breath.

But Naruto wasn't about to let that happen.

The fiend had snuck up on its target from above, already descending in a free fall to end the man hidden behind a pillar of rock. Just before his claws could cut through skin, flesh and bone, in search of his vulnerable heart, Naruto summoned a serpent from the water. It flew upward, as if the sky was also its domain, intercepting the fiend midair by constraining it within massive jaws.

All of a sudden — to follow up with a finishing combo — Kitsuchi appeared and, using his right arm reinforced by hardened earth, assaulted the beast in a downward blow that send it smashing into the ground. The water-forged serpent was obliterated in the attack, too, and Darui made haste to retreat before he was caught in the blast.

The Division II captain wasn't alone. He had brought reinforcements, which included his daughter, Kurotsuchi. And, as soon as they were all gathered together, Darui quickly briefed them on the plan dictated by headquarters. Apparently, Kinkaku would be defeated using Konoha's Ino-Shika-Cho Formation and, until they had assembled, the warriors were to defend the coastal battlefield and the Amber Exorcism Bottle.

Reassured that the fiend's rampage would come to an abrupt end, the shinobi gave a unified battle cry and charged out into the fray to slay the parasitic soldiers.

Darui looked to Kitsuchi before the man also lunged into the chaos. "I understand that it was important HQ sent reinforcements, but what about securing your division's location?"

The man's lips stretched into a wide and almost egotistical smile. "My late apprentice has everything under control."

The man was referring to Naruto — which was really just one of our hero's clones. But, despite the fact he was but a mere counterpart, the power that the clone exerted was very much real and original. Supplemented by the benefits of Senju Energy, Naruto was one with his surroundings, especially the earth. He was a god within this realm; master of his craft. Every negative presence that dared trod within his range of detection was swiftly betrayed and cast into oblivion by the very ground that they walked upon.

"There's someone like that here, too," Darui murmured as he thought about their ANBU savor.

"What was that?" Kitsuchi didn't hear.

"Oh. It's nothing. Let's carry out the plan."


Promped regarding the mission at hand, it wasn't long before Ino, Shikamaru and Chōji was at the forefront of the battlefield, faced off against the vicious and tenacious fiend. They brought more reinforcements, too, which meant more kunai as everyone worked as a single unit in bombarding the beast with cold, heartless projectiles as a means of cover.

"You third-rate copper bastards!" Kinkaku sneered as he positioned his tails in front of his body, as a wall of defense, his words dripping with acidic scorn.

Suddenly, there was a chain of explosions. Some of the kunai had explosive tags cleverly tethered to them. Even so, Kinkaku was unharmed and undeterred. Instead, he hurled verbal abuse at the opposition with a level of disdain and malice that made some tremble in fear.

Human Bullet Tank!

In the blink of an eye, Chōji was through the veil of smoke — a spiraling mass of force that slammed into the gloating bastard with the weight of the entire Allied Shinobi Force. Kinkaku had the wind knocked out of him, his words low and muffled as he struggled to lift and throw the nuisance over his head, sparks gashing from his dark claws as he battled against the friction.

Finally, he succeeded. But his laboring was just a distraction from the real goal.

He couldn't move.

Shikamaru grinned. "Shadow Mimic: Successful!"

Livid, Kinkaku twisted and turned, eager to break free from his binds and dispatch the smug brat on a one way ticket to hell and beyond. His monstrous strength proved the greater — but, just before his tail could penetrate through the Chūnin's forehead...

I'm in! Mind Transfer Technique: Successful!

The Shadow Mimic Technique might have been compromised, but it proved an effective decoy in averting the fiend's attention from the real threat: Ino!

"Alright!" Darui rejoiced. "Kinkaku," he called, opening the lid to the Amber Exorcism Bottle.

"Yes!" Ino answered instantaneously on his behalf, having entirely conquered the reins of the man's self-control — his very consciousness.

With the summon-respond dynamics of the seal activated, an invisible force suddenly locked on to the creature's signature and began sucking him forward into oblivion, like the cold and relentless vacuum of space.

Despite having his consciousness pushed aside, Kinkaku was still able to — even if just a tad — push forward and put up a bit of resistance in his desperation. The wind continued to rage — vicious, invisible hands that wrapped around him, pulling him forth with a daunting force that held no warmth, no reason but eternal banishment and imprisonment. But, in his panic, Kinkaku couldn't help but cling to a rock.

As if the very laws of time and space had distorted reality to put him there, Naruto appeared with a Ōdama Rasengan and urged Ino to return to her body. She did in but a microsecond, which followed with our nonchalant sage delivering the final and deciding blow. And then, just as abruptly as he appeared, he was gone.

Kinkaku was gone, too... hopelessly swallowed up by the vile sorcery associated with the Amber Exorcism Bottle. The fiend would have done anything for another chance at vengeance, but his luck had unfortunately run out; he had a chance at life and then another by the immoral workings of Edo Tensei. Now his fate was forever sealed, his brother facing a similar imprisonment.

The Gold and Silver Brothers had lost their freedom, the battle, and their glint. Regardless, the war was far from over and Kitsuchi knew the truth of this. With a short but spicy speech of encouragement, to refresh the warrior's morale, he led his comrades into the fray once more. The parasitic clones had grown fearful since Kinkaku's banishment and the shinobi drew confidence from their evident cowardice.

Hiashi looked from his brother to his nephew, distressed by the sudden turn of events. "Neji... you shouldn't have to fight your own father. I'll—"

"And you shouldn't have to watch your brother slip through your fingers for a second time," Neji interjected, his tone stating his willingness to volunteer himself in this grim and bitter feat. "I'll fight him."

For the longest while, Hiashi said nothing. He but looked at his dearest younger brother, their eyes locked in a gaze of silent communication. Finally — after seemingly exchanging a thousand words of remorse — the man bowed his head and then he was gone.

Hizashi frowned. Before his son could be jarred whether by the hands of hate or sorrow, he took the initiative and apologized for what happened years past — especially for the fact that he had to abandon his only child to the loathsome and indignant laws of the Hyūga Clan.

But the young Jōnin held onto his composure. He told his father he knew of everything that had transpired and, while it was a resentful turn of events, he had come to terms with it. With passion and resolve burning in his eyes, he also mentioned Naruto's ardent desire toward unity — that true understanding and peace could only be found and attained through equality.

Emotional and proud, Hizashi's rebellious body allowed him a neat smile. "Neji... son, I've always been proud of you and that hasn't changed, even in death. You've always been clever and skilled, even as a child; I'm curious to see just how much you've grown over the years." He assumed an offensive stance, which was subsequently mirrored by his son.

Time slowed, and they shared a telling smile, their Byakugan fixed on each other, pinpointing the most ideal place to strike. Then they charged toward one another — father and child, seeking to compare the level of their masculinity, the level of their honor, ambitions and strength.

Shikamaru, Ino and Chōji might have sealed Kinkaku away, but they would soon learn that their trials were only just beginning.

On a cliff, strangling the life out of another hopeless shinobi, Kakazu looked down onto the trio of familiar warriors. Ino swallowed past a hot lump of anxiety in her throat, and Chōji shared her sentiments, as well. This man was a former member of the notorious Akatsuki Clan — the very group that declared war against the Great Five Shinobi Nations.

"Long time no see, Ino-Shika-Cho brats," the man said amusingly, as if fate had finally set the floor for his revenge.

"You're Kakuzu, right?" Shikamaru said inquiringly, obviously the only one to preserve his composure. He frowned. "We've taken the gold general. We know your bishop fighting style by heart, too. So, we're about to hit you with everything we've got."

"The shadow-wielding brat," the man replied, evidently not fazed by the bold threat. But why fear when he held the merit of immortality through Edo Tensei. "Since you're here, that must mean you stopped Hidan. Did he get his head cut off in mid prayer again? Or is he not here because he's not dead yet?"

"Like I care how long it takes before he rots!" Ino snapped, the trace of fear in her veins coaxing her blood to a boil.

"Humph." the man turned his attention to the squirming pray in his hand, effortlessly piercing the shinobi's chest to retrieve his heart, which he would now use as his own. "So, I have to fight defensively without a book, and having lost both gold and silver generals?"

He dropped the lifeless soldier into the water below.

"I remember," Ino announced loud enough so that his comrades could hear. "He has five hearts, which means we have to kill him five times before it sticks."

"Yeah, that was it," Shikamaru agreed.

"Now, then," Kakazu began, having equipped the stolen heart into his chest. "It's about time this piece got promoted."

The instant he leaned into an arch, laboring to eject his elemental puppets from his back, Naruto seemed to materialize out of nowhere, like a boss, driving the wicked bastard into the earth with an Ōdama Rasengan, pinning him there.

Kakuzu grinned, as if the assault had rendered him torpid and retarded. "Hey, kid — it's been a while. I see you're looking as dull as ever, even wearing that mask."

"And you're just as ugly," Naruto retorted.

"It's ironic that our paths would cross again. But, this time, I won't fall for that attack you used last time. Besides, the range of the blast would envelope everyone around us."

Our hero smiled behind his mask. "You should be more concerned about the Rasengan I'm using right now."

Following those set of hard, cold words, Naruto increased the rotation of the sphere suspended from his palm. The ball of condensed energy ran amuck in the man's defenseless skin, quickly crushing and shattering bones, forcing the man's structure into a spiral of blood-curdling destruction.

CRICK. CRACK — his bones continued to shatter and break, a sound more grim and horrifying than the man's own distressing howl of pain.

Shikamaru, Ino and Chōji looked on in distaste has Naruto annihilated the grotesque fiend before them, liberating them from its looming thirst for vengeance. But they didn't have enough time to feel terrified or disgusted by their savior's utter brutality; for true shinobi, war didn't condone such foolish recklessness.

As Naruto looked to the side in a telling gesture, Shikamaru, Ino and Chōji followed his stare, only to set eyes on an individual they never thought they would see.

Naruto lift the broken criminal by his neck, even as his body began gradually regenerating. "I'll take care of Kakuzu until someone gets here who can seal him once and for all. Meanwhile, you guys need to deal with—"

There was an explosion. Plumes of deadly smoke and searing fire shot into the air from an elevated ridge of the cliff — and walking away from this sheer destruction and the death of many was... Sarutobi Asuma.

Uzumaki Natsumi?

The Inseparable 4 Explained!

Hinata's body was still flushed and tingling from the afterglow of her sensual adventure, her vagina still hot and swollen from her knight's delicious assault. "Naruto-kun really needed it, didn't he?"

Garbed in her customary attire, the princess sat in front of a mahogany dresser in their secret hideaway, watching Naruto surreptitiously through a mirror's reflection. He was standing behind her, his masculinity still bloated by his epic journey of conquest.

Naruto smiled sheepishly, gently passing the brush through her hair. "It was that obvious, huh?"

She nodded innocently, blushing.

"I... wasn't too rough, was I?"

The girl shook her head in denial, still watching his reflection in the mirror. His eyes were hooded, warm with liquid sapphire and framed by a thick fringe of dark lashes. Her cheeks heated. "You overdid it, but amazingly so."

He grinned, scratching at a blush that crept into his cheek. "By the way, Hinata," he said as he quickly attempted several hairstyles he had seen in manga. "Has your hair gotten longer? It's at your waist now."

The princess smiled shyly, delighted that he noticed the change. "In Fuugetsu... you told me that you liked long hair."

Naruto heaved another flash of his pearly whites. "Probably that's another reason why I went wild not too long ago; I love it, Hinata!"

Tilting her head back with a sexy flair, he leaned forward and took her lips in an upside down kiss, worshiping the soft, luscious curves with his own, savoring their taste. And Hinata surrendered to his sweet exploration, her body humming with renewed desire for him, her tummy doing a quick knot.

"...D-Do you remember when you sang to me?" She whispered against his lips, her eyes gleaming with a mixture of reverie and lust.


"Will you ever sing to me again?"

He heaved a warm grin, then bent his knees and looked at her reflection in the mirror from her shoulder. "I'll do more than just sing — we'll dance, too. I want to see those dance moves you've been secretly hiding under your belt."

She blushed.

"After the war, we'll go back to Fuugetsu but, this time, with our friends! We'll have a party and Octopops will be the DJ. Oh, that party could be right after our marriage ceremony!"

"Oh, Naruto-kun!" the princess exclaimed in her excitement, springing from the chair and glomming onto him. "You always know just what to say. I'm really looking forward to everything."

"Me, too," he whispered in her hair, coiling his arms around her. "I want you to be mine... in every possible way."

She held him tighter, burying her face in his chest, silently surrendering to his possessive embrace. But as the feel of him induced warm emotions in her heart, it also evoked a bitter memory. "Wha-what happened a few days ago?"

He frowned at her muffled words. "What do you mean?"

"...There was a crack on the Aura Stone."

"Oh — so you saw that. I'm sorry I worried you," he said softly, repentantly. "I was injured while settling a feud between some Iwa and Kiri shinobi. Aside from the fact that they have some bad history, they aren't all really happy about the alliance."

She held him tighter, trembling.


"I don't ever want to have to let you go..."

"You won't have to," he promised sweetly. "Your boyfriend has gotten a hell of a lot stronger — and his girlfriend is pretty badass, too. You'll protect me, won't you?"

"H-Hn!" she nodded adorably, still clinging desperately to him.

He patted her head gently, feeling her intensity. "What was it like... delivering a child for the first time? Were you nervous?"

Her grip loosened a tad. "Yes. It was very unnerving, especially because I didn't have any experience."

"Regardless, you did pretty well."

She smiled. "I'm just happy they had a healthy baby."

"You said her name is Amayo?"

Hinata nodded, looking up at him now.

"If we had a little girl, have you ever considered what you would like her name to be? Personally, I think Godzilla would be a great fit; all the bullies would keep their distance in fear of being clobbered." He grinned playfully.

"Naruto-kun!" She chided sweetly, sharing his goofy smile.

"So, have you ever thought of one?"

"Etto...," she pressed a finger to her lip unconsciously. "I like the name Natsumi."

"Mmm. Uzumaki Natsumi, eh?" He said slowly, as if testing the energy and worth of the name on his tongue. "I like it! Whenever she strikes her hero-pose and announces her name, she's going to sound so cool!"

They giggled together.

Suddenly, dispelling their pleasant ambience was an impatient knock on the stonewall. It was Kurama. "Kozo! Hime!" His voice vibrated deeply beyond the hallow barrier, and they could sense the undeniable urgency in his husky tone.

Releasing Naruto and standing aside, Hinata allowed the shinobi to open the chamber door for the anxious deity who stole inside, standing tall in his human form.

"We have a situation," he stated coolly, looking to them both.

Naruto frowned, his eyes changing. "A situation? What's going on?"

"We've been ambushed — and the Wood Element user has been taken."

The princess gasped.

"What? Yamato-taichou was?" Naruto felt a charge of panic. "But what about my Kage Bunshin? What the hell is going on?"


Kurama's eyes flashed.

A deity known for its many uncanny facets of sensory capabilities, even among the other Tailed Beasts, Kurama sensed a breath of activity — a miraculous spell of divine workings that was so miniscule it was almost untraceable.

Ignoring Naruto's alarm, the Kyuubi's attention veered away from the perplexed warrior and to the quiet Hyūga princess that stood adjacent to him. It was certain. He could feel a dramatic change in her — physiological processes that he couldn't entirely comprehend. But, for the most part, he knew well what this profound transformation meant and, despite the predicament they faced outside, the Nine-Tailed deity allowed a patient and compassionate smile.

"Hime. You're pregnant."




For a time, there was a long and silent pause.

Naruto and Hinata's eyes quivered as thoughts rummaged around violently in their minds. A plethora of emotions and reactions twisted in them, through them, leaving their bellies tight and tangled.


Our hero pondered it as his heart continued to swell in his chest. Sure he was awesome and his semen must have been, too. But the Kyuubi was adamant in preventing him for conceiving a child in fear of being sealed within another infant. Could the creature's intervention have been thwarted due to its weakened state — or perhaps the fact it was now isolated in a new and more improved cage?

But the time frame didn't make any sense...

"B-But how is that possible?" Hinata uttered in a seemingly dejected tone, unconsciously taking a few slow steps forward.

Her eyes gleamed in a mixture of hope and curiosity, her heart caught in a spell of palpitations. She needed to be certain before she dropped her guard; before she allowed herself to believe.

"...I'm not sure."

Naruto frowned, his chest heaving and his eyes alive with his seriousness. "Kurama... I need you to be absolutely sure; I don't want Hinata to get her hopes up on a mere hunch."

The deity looked to the princess who was already teary-eyed, a wistful fist resting over her chest, her heart on her sleeves. "I'm certain," he smiled reassuringly. "It's the same physiological processes that I sensed in Masaki and your sensei."

"Oh, Naruto-kun!" Hinata cried as every fiber of her being ignited with her elation, and she veered into his chest, holding him just as tightly as she did before. "You were able to keep your promise again! I'm so happy! I'm so very happy!"

"I... I'm going to be a dad."

"And I'm going to be a mom!"

While Naruto was evidently happy, he was also in a state of shock and disbelief. Hinata was always a caregiver — in that she's motherly, compassionate, responsible and, overall, just simply amazing. A hell of a cook, too! She never wanted to be a shinobi. She wanted to lead a normal life — to have a family and live in peace.

But Naruto, on the other hand, didn't grow up knowing even remotely what it felt like or meant having a family. He knew not of the warmth and compassion, the closure and protection. As a child, he was a prankster dedicated to winning everyone's attention through mischief. The attention he received may have not been pleasant, but at least it proved his existence was true.

With that said, was he worthy of becoming a father? Was he matured and disciplined enough? Would be eventually find the right etiquettes of being an ideal father and role model for their child?

Noting his anxiety, Hinata cupped the side of his face, winning the quivering seas of his blue eyes. "You're not alone...," she whispered soothingly, saving him.

Her words summoned the images of his mother and father in his mind, followed by Kakashi, Sakura, Yamato, Iruka, Tsunade, and all his other friends — and they were all smiling. Hinata was right. He was not alone, and there was nothing that the great Uzumaki Naruto couldn't do with his friends standing right behind him, pushing him forward, guiding his steps.

He was going to become the greatest Hokage in history, as well as the greatest father. He would change this world for the better — molding a new and more refined way of life for the new generation to be nurtured in. He would bring Jiraiya's vision and dream to fruition. And there was nothing that would stand in way.

Hell, Madara was going down!

Hinata beamed as Naruto's countenance changed. His eyes were soft and calm again, his features beautiful and alluring.

Then he frowned, holding her in a loving and protective embrace. "Now it's even more crucial that we win this war."

"There's another pregnant woman you might be interested in protecting," Kurama declared quietly, saffron eyes gleaming solemnly.

The couple turned around, sharing the same chain of thought. "You mean Kurenai-sensei?" Hinata asked with a smile.

"Shikamaru already keeps her perfectly safe," Naruto informed coolly. "To butt in would be to disrespect him."

"No, I meant the pink-haired girl."

"Pink-haired..." Naruto's eyes widened in disbelief as the description clicked. "Wait! Y-You mean Sakura-chan? You can't be serious…"

"B-But that can't be!" Hinata stuttered in her shock, even as she continued to consider it. "Sakura-san isn't in a relationship — who would the father be?"

Sasuke sat motionless in a crescent-shaped cushion, garbed in a navy-blue garment and blindfolded. The chamber in which he resided was mostly dark, except for the light of a few candles situated around the room.

The surgery to implant Itachi's eyes had been a complete success, and he could sense it wouldn't be much longer before they were fully healed and ready for a test run. They throbbed with deep and incredible power, and he couldn't help but muse at the idea they were alive and impatient to carry out both his and his brother's revenge on the Hidden Leaf Village.

Every single individual would share the same fate as Danzō. They lived and laughed in ignorance of Itachi's sacrifice and so they would all perish in that same pool of ignorance. Naruto and Kakashi would also perish, but they would suffer tremendously for their incessant meddling throughout these past three years.

As for Sakura...

Sasuke's dark eyebrows furrowed enigmatically behind the cloth that covered his face, his boiling blood rendered to a mere simmer now. Even if Kakashi hadn't jumped in at that precise moment on the Samurai Bridge — could he have really killed her? Could he have killed the only woman he truly and utterly surrendered himself to? The woman who filled his heart with mixed emotions? The woman who possibly bore the fruit of his seed — a baby Uchiha?

"Is it time yet?" He asked in a mundane tone, sensing as Zetsu appeared before him. The creature's aura was no less unnerving than when they were first acquainted.

"Not yet," the man's dark side prompt in a rasping tone. "Stay still." His lighter side smiled. "The next time you see, it'll be like a whole new world. It's going to be interesting."

"Humph." the Uchiha wasn't enthused. "I don't give a damn about your war, but I'm going to be the one who crushes Konoha."

Naruto sighed. It was a long and noisy sound. "Now I'm starting to doubt if Hinata's really pregnant — because there's no way in hell Sakura-chan could be pregnant; she loves Sasuke!"

"...Naruto-kun," Hinata clasped his open jacket, her eyes glittering with growing disappointment, her heart pounding a frantic tattoo at his sudden words.

Kurama turned on his heels, casting the couple a sidelong glance. "If there's one thing you can trust, it's my sensory abilities."

Naruto frowned wearily, a hand atop Hinata's head. "Okay. For now, we won't doubt your abilities or what you said. But I do plan to confront Sakura-chan to verify the truth."

"Fair enough."

Naruto's gaze was more serious now, steeling his nerves for the trails that lay ahead. "What's happening outside — you said Yamato-taichou was taken? By whom?"

"I'll explain on the way."

"Alright. Hinata." He swayed his eyes to hers now, gazing as if broadcasting some silent plea. "Um. Why don't you stay here where it's safe; I don't want either one of you getting hurt."

The princess frowned in her disobedience. "No way."

He grinned, a hand cupping the back of his head. "Well, it was worth a try."

"You read my journal, didn't you? I didn't train this hard just to be hidden away when my power is needed the most. Besides, Sakura-san will be fighting on the battlefield, too. And she's farther along than I am. We need to protect her."

"In that case..." Naruto looked to Kurama in a telling gesture, his eyes alight with the seriousness of the task he was bestowing onto the loyal deity.

Kurama smiled, a fang poking from his mouth. "I've got it covered."

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