The Bijuu Wars

A painful farewell

Naruto: Yeesh, took long enough for this one? Where were you, on sabbatical or something?\

Sakura: Oh shut up Naruto. He probably had a case of writer's block. It happens to all good authors you know.

Naruto: Yeah yeah, whatever! Can we just hurry up and get going!

Neokenshin: Actually, this was a rough chapter. I couldn't figure out how to put all this to words, especially since things really start changing. Oh well juust remember Naruto isn't owned by me.Chapter 18: A painful farewell

Shikamaru, Asuma, Kotetsu, and Izumo continued through the forest in search of the two Akatsuki that had supposedly been located. Shikamaru continued to go over the picture that Tsunade had given him in order to study and see who they could be going against.

"Based on Itachi's reports, there's no way that Pein could be the one that caused this. That also rules out Konan as well, since Itachi said Madara and Pein keep her close to the two of them. I doubt Kisame would be this articulate in the design either, and Zetsu seems to only be a spy out of all of them." Shikamaru said to himself while he studied the pic. "The only two left I can think of would be Hidan and Kakuzu, but which of the two would cause something like this."

"Any luck with that photo Shikamaru?" asked Asuma.

"I have an idea. The only two I can think of that we may be running into are Hidan and Kakuzu, the two we probably don't want to deal with right now." Shikamaru replied with a solemn face. "If we run into those two, we're dealing with some serious trouble."

"Why is that?" asked the Sarutobi.

"For one thing, we have no idea if they are carrying a Hoshi no Tama. Since Ino and Chouji aren't here to back us up, we'd be in trouble if they summoned Shinja-sama or Tsukune-sama, but if they summoned Hiroshi-sama, then we're really screwed without those two." Shikamaru explained. "Not only that but we have to deal with the fact that Hidan has that strange curse ability that links his body with another person. If any one of us were to fall under that curse, there's no telling just how far he'd go."

"I see." Asuma said, after jumping off another branch. "Then we're just going to have to play this carefully. If it comes down to it, you have a way to get in contact with Ino and Chouji. If we're in a critical situation, we'll retreat until we can meet up with them."

"Yeah, let's hope we don't get in a critical situation." Shikamaru said to himself.

"Oka-san, are you busy?" asked Naruto as he found his mother relaxing in the living room.

"What is it my kit?" asked the Kyuubi.

"I know this sounds a little crazy, but Sasuke, Sakura, and I were talking after our little run in with that freak Sai." Naruto grumbled as he took a seat. "There's something we don't understand."

"And what would that be?" Akane asked, getting a slight hint at what his question was.

"All of us have our Overdrives, but we notice Kasumi-chan doesn't. Considering you're her matching Bijuu, we all wondered why she didn't have hers unlocked the moment we learned more about it." Naruto said. "We understand why Itachi won't have his, but it just doesn't make sense that Kasumi-chan isn't at full power."

Akane sighed, after having to go off on Yugito earlier about the same subject. "Naruto, crazy enough as it seems, I already blew up at everyone else about this earlier. Please don't be upset with me when I say this, but right now I don't feel that she's ready to access the Light Overdrive just yet."

"But what's stopping her? She's had more exposure to Illumina Power and has been closer to her Bijuu than any of us." questioned Naruto. "Is it because you feel that being the strongest Bijuu would put her under more stress than anyone?"

"No honey, it's not that. Look, I'm going to tell you something, and I need you to keep it quiet until we're ready to tell everyone else." Akane said, flashing a quick seal and tapping Naruto's forehead to cause Natsumi to split from him. "And this goes for you too as well young lady."

"Hey I'm not as bad as Naruto when it comes to keeping quiet." Natsumi replied in her defense. Of course Akane just gave her a look that said 'Yeah Right!'. "Really! I'm not that bad!"

"Whatever. But I'm serious about keeping quiet for now. What I've learned is that your Aunt Kagome had a spiritual reading. In her reading she said that in the future, one or two members of Team Illumina will be killed...and it's going to be by someone that goes traitor." Akane said, instantly causing the two blondes to go in shock.

"What the hell! There's no way!" Naruto replied.

"Who's the one that does it?" asked Natsumi.

"That's what we don't know. Kagome didn't say who would be killed, or who the killer was. As far as we know every single one of you is at possible risk...and possible suspicion." Akane explained. "And yes I'm even talking about the genin too."

"Oh come on Oka-san! Do you really think that someone like Akemi-chan or Konohamaru-kun could really go that far?" Natsumi thought that her mother's statement was off the wall, but when Akane's look stayed the same..."Oka-san, you're serious, aren't you?"

"Dead serious Natsumi-chan. Don't forget, the Support Team now has their Elemental Armor, and that armor gives them the equivalent of your Level 1 power." Akane explained carefully. "Did you also forget that if you were to go up against...say Konohamaru, he does have access to the Kage Bunshin and the Rasengan. Or did you forget that you taught him those jutsu?"

"Kaa-san, do we have any idea when this is going to happen?" Naruto was hoping to get more info to try to be ready.

"We have no idea. It's bad enough that we're dealing with Akatsuki, but now this? Considering all of you have Overdrive now, that's only going to complicate things even more!" Akane sighed as she slumped back into the chair. "You know there was even talk that Hinata might be the one to go evil."

"An Evil Hinata??" Naruto and Natsumi said in shock.

"You know that's the same reaction everyone else had when it was brought up." Akane said with a chuckle.

Naruto just sat there with a glossy look in his eyes. He was already back in his mindscape trying to picture Inner Hinata if she went evil...but that sure wasn't working. "Ok I have Hinata in my head right not and I can't even picture her evil."

"So you see why you need to keep this quiet for now? The one thing we don't want is for you guys to become distracted with this. Plus Arashi may think that her revelation is wrong. He did bring up Sasuke's dream from two years ago when he thought he was going to kill Kasumi." Akane reminded the two.

"Oh yeah, we ended up being the ones dead instead of her." Natsumi rolled her eyes with her comment. "But whatever, if it's just like last time, then we're just gonna have to change it like last time."

"I only wish it were that easy, my kit." Akane thought to herself over Natsumi's last statement.

"Kotetsu, Izumo, you guys picked up anything yet?" asked Asuma as the group continued through the trees.

"Nothing. Whatever those Akatsuki are using is concealing them pretty well." Kotetsu replied while continuing to scan the area.

"Damn. It's times like this when a good tracker would be helpful. Too bad Hinata, Haku, and Kasumi are off training, and Neji, Tenten, and Kiba are on another mission." Shikamaru mumbled to himself. "Even Naruto, Sasuke, or Kimiko would have really been good with their advanced senses."

"Once again in thought Shikamaru?" Asuma looked over to see his former genin in distraught.

"It's nothing." Shikamaru shook off his distraction and went back to the task at hand.

"Konan, you seem troubled. Come, converse with me." Pein was looking over intel brought to him from Zetsu when he saw his female companion.

"Of course Pein-sama." She obediently replied and sat at the table beside him.

"I've noticed your morale has slightly dropped and your performance has not been to par. Is something troubling you?" asked the Rinnegan wielder as he looked over at her.

"It is nothing Pein-sama. I was not focused on my task and was careless. I will not fail again." Konan apologized dearly.

"That's not what I'm talking about. I think this had something to do with Itachi." Pein commented. "It seems that since he left to go back on reconnaissance, your mood has dropped."

Konan looked at her leader, and though she was quite obedient, she did have some form of opinion. "Pein-sama, Itachi is a trusted ally. We all work to the same goal for Akatsuki. I only show concern for him as he would me." She stated that coldly, not knowing she gave a very faint hint of blush in her cheeks.

"I see." Pein took note of the blush, thinking something was obviously up. "Well then, do not let your concern for him distract you. We have important plans for you in this war."

"As you wish Pein-sama." Konan bowed in respect and took her leave. Pein watched on after she left thinking...

"Forgive me my dear sister, but right now you are far too valuable to our mission. I sense that you are developing feelings for Itachi, but now is not the time. Maybe after we have succeeded in our goals, then maybe you have time to be what you should be. But for now you must stay our Angel of Akatsuki." Pein thought to himself as he continued to read over his intel.

"Danzo-sama, things are going according to plan." Sai reported in to his superior inside the hidden ROOT headquarters. "Right now Shikamaru and his sensei are headed to meet Hidan and Kakuzu."

"Sai, you have yet to fail me. Make sure that only Shikamaru survives that run in. All the others can die." Danzo explained. "Pein-sama wants the Jounin of Team Illumina all dead in order to break their morale and we'll be the ones to handle it."

"Of course Danzo-sama. The plan will proceed accordingly." Sai nodded before vanishing back into the shadows.

"Smart boy. If only we had more like him." Koharu and Homura made their way out of the shadows themselves as they listened in on Danzo's instruction.

"Yes, it's a shame we can't bring Team Illumina under our leadership." Homura said. "Akatsuki would greatly prosper with that much power."

"Those fools think they are winning this war, but they are far mistaken. In time Tsunade will be stripped of the title of Hokage, the Bijuu will be sealed and Konoha will be under new rule. Our time has come my friends." Danzo had a sinister look on his face, knowing there was trouble brewing. "Once those fools return with the Rokubi, the plan will definitely tip the balance of power...in the favor of Akatsuki."

"Damn Kakuzu, how much further do we need to drag that worthless carcass around?" Hidan complained as the duo continued through the forest.

"Mind you that carcass is worth 30 million. As you know we need money to continue our goals." Kakuzu replied calmly. "Unless you would rather not have your lavish incense during your blasted praying rituals."

"I'll have you know that my blasted praying rituals are quite sacred." Hidan snapped back. "Jashin demands obedience and I follow."

"Who cares. But it looks like we're about to make another 35 million." Kakuzu looked ahead and saw the four Konoha shinobi. "Hidan, we have visitors."

"Heh, that we do." Hidan threw down the body he was carrying and drew his war scythe. "Jashin, allow me a glorious bloodbath this day. Let me kill my opponents slowly to make them suffer."

Kakuzu looked over at his partner, "You really are a freak."

"Guess we get to start the party early." Asuma took note of the two Akatsuki. "Izumo, Kotetsu, I want you two to take the masked one. Shikamaru, you're with me and the other one."

"Damn, it had to be Hidan and Kakuzu." Shikamaru was already thinking it was a bad situation. "We're going to have to be even more careful now." With that he summoned his armor and got ready for one hell of a fight.

"Shikamaru's already summoning his battle armor. We may be in for more of a fight than we bargained for." Asuma took note and prepared himself.

"So we get to deal with shinobi of Konoha. Nice to know you're here to entertain us." Kakuzu said.

"Cut the chatter Kakuzu. What are you doing here in Fire Country anyway?" Shikamaru demanded of the two. "We already know that you're severely lacking in the Bijuu department."

"Oh so you want to talk about Bijuu. Then why don't we bring one out for you to deal with in the first place!" Hidan cackled as he took out a small glowing pendant.

"Damn, they're on the move already. Shikamaru, get on the communicator and call in Ino and Chouji." Asuma ordered. "If you can't get them, get Naruto or Sasuke here now!"

"Oh don't think you're going to get help now! You're already screwed!!" Hidan screamed as he sent is chakra into the pendant, causing it to glow a dark green.

"Forest green…he's going to try and summon Shinja-sama!" Shikamaru realized the summoning and opened up a communication channel immediately. "Ino, come in! This is Shikamaru."

"Ino here. What's up Shikamaru?" asked Ino.

"I need you and Chouji to come to my location immediately! We're engaged with Hidan and Kakuzu of Akatsuki." Shikamaru said. "If you can bring as many others as well!"

"On it Shika. I'll try to at least get Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke. If not I'll try to bring some of the other support." Ino replied. "But why do you want all of us there when Chouji and I were the only ones on call?"

"Hidan's already summoning Shinja-sama. We don't know if Kakuzu has the Hoshi no Tama for Hiroshi-sama or Tsukune-sama. But since they don't know that you have Overdrive, we have a serious advantage." Shikamaru responded. "Just get here quick!"

"Got it. Ino out." Ino closed off communication and began to gear up immediately.

"Don't think calling for help will save you! You're still going to die!" Hidan placed his hand on the ground to complete the summoning. "Now Hachibi, come forth and serve your master!"

In a flash of smoke, Shikamaru's team now stood before the final female Bijuu, the Hachibi. She was dressed in a forest green battle robe adorned with leaves. Her arm guards and leg guards looked as if they were made of wood, while her dark green hair had been tied back with a tie of roses. And behind her, her eight serpentine tails began to flow in the wind.

"What the hell do you want?" Shinja snapped as she looked at her summoner.

"Pitiful snake. You serve me! Now kill those infidels!" Hidan laughed again.

Shinja turned to see the four shinobi, and took note of Shikamaru's armor. "So that must be Shikamaru. Itachi told me he was one of the strategists for Team Illumina. He also said he was friends with the one who wields my power. I guess can fight him since he seems to be very skilled in tactics." She thought to herself as she overlooked everything. "I swear if my sisters saw me like this, they would be laughing their heads off."

"Shikamaru, that's the Hachibi?" Asuma was a little stunned, but then he did realize since she was one of the Bijuu, she was quite beautiful.

"Yeah. Nice to finally meet you Shinja-sama. Too bad it's a total drag that we gotta fight now." Shikamaru answered. "Least this is probably better than being trapped up in whatever sealing chamber they have you in."

"Oh you just don't know. You'd think they'd know how to give a lady a pedicure or something." Shinja chuckled at the idle conversation. "But yeah it does suck about the fighting thing. Might as well get this over with." She then rushed in and smacked Shikamaru with her tails, sending him barreling into the forest. "You know if I was still a teenager, I might have to chase after him and go out with him. He is kinda cute."

"Yeah, but you might have to fight off his fiancée first. I hear she's pretty vicious when she's angry." Asuma told the Hachibi.

"Now that's my kind of girl. Oh well, kick these guys asses for me, will ya!" Shinja said before taking off into the forest herself.

"Heh, Shikamaru always gets the good ones." Asuma laughed as he watched the eight tailed Bijuu chase after his student. "Now let's get down to business." He drew his Trench Knives and prepared for what he didn't know was his final fight. He also didn't know that Akatsuki had an ally in the shadows.

"Time to turn the fight in our favor." Sai took out a scroll and began to draw on it.

"I always knew fighting women was a complete drag." Shikamaru slowly dusted himself off and got to his feet. "And why do I get this feeling she's just like Temari?"

"So that's the name of the girl you're engaged to? I take it she has to put up with a lot for a lazy guy like you." Shinja stood on top of a tree stump she summoned from the ground and overlooked Shikamaru. "You know Itachi told me a lot about you guys."

"Oh and I can say I learned a lot about you from Akane-sama." Shikamaru replied. "Especially after that little mishap with the chocolate pudding."

"They won't let that go, will they? Honestly I wonder if they keep that story livid to blackmail me from time to time." Shinja cracked her knuckles, already knowing she didn't want to do anything, but since she was summoned and Hidan had her Hoshi no Tama, she had no choice. "Look I know you don't have Illumina Power, and we both know that in terms of raw power, I'd probably kill you in an instant. But I do also know you're a master strategist, so you got any ideas?"

"Well I did call Ino. She's the one with your element. She should be on her way here soon, so I dunno. I could use my Shadow Possession Jutsu to hold you in place, but I'd probably run out of chakra way too fast holding down a Bijuu and that would be way too troublesome." Shikamaru said, when he did get an idea. "Although, maybe we do have a more technical way around this."

"I'm listening." Shinja replied calmly.

"Think you can create a table and some stools?" Shikamaru replied, taking a scroll from his pouch. "Hidan did say you had to kill me. So I figure I'll let you kill me."

"That doesn't seem like much of a plan, Shikamaru." Shinja asked while she created the table and stools from the ground.

"It is when I let you kill me in Shogi." He opened the scroll and summoned a game board with the pieces already set. "I guess Hidan didn't think his orders over clearly."

Shinja was quite impressed. On one hand she had been ordered to kill Shikamaru. On the other killing him was so vague, that Shikamaru practically handed her his so called death warrant. "Amazing. I don't think I've ever seen anyone come up with the idea of being 'killed' in a few games of Shogi."

"Like I said, it's too much trouble to break a sweat. I just hope that it's enough of a stall to get Ino and my other friends here quickly. I really hate leaving Asuma out there with Hidan, especially with what could happen." Shikamaru took a seat and prepped for the first game.

"What's so special about that Hidan freak?" asked Shinja as she took a seat across from Shikamaru.

"Somehow if he comes in contact with a person's blood, then he can initiate some kind of blood curse, according to Itachi. When that happens, any damage or injury he takes will be transferred back to the person he's linked to. That means if he gives himself a fatal wound, he'll kill his opponent." Shikamaru made the first move while explaining things.

"Well let's just hope your friends get here fast before I 'kill' you. And trust me, even though I was a stuck up, egotistical, and snobby little princess when I was little, I did learn to play a mean game of Shogi." She came back with a very unusual opening move, one that Shikamaru never thought anyone did. "So you may die many times today. Hopefully Temari won't be mad."

"Oh brother!" Shikamaru said in grief.

So Shikamaru's plan was set in motion to hopefully delay enough time for reinforcements to show up. Luckily Ino, Sakura, and Chouji arrived and for what they saw…well…

"You're playing Shogi…with a Bijuu…that was ordered to kill you?" Ino asked as she saw the two go at it.

"Oh I've already killed him…at least 3 times." Shinja said with a smile. "Oh, make that four! Checkmate!"

"I don't get it. I've never lost in Shogi in years!" Shikamaru looked at the board. Every single move Shinja made was flawless and unpredictable. Every time she made a move it looked like she was risking piece after piece, but it was all carefully plotted out to set him up. "This is definitely troublesome."

"After all this is over, we'll play some more. I haven't had a good game of Shogi in ages." Shinja got back to her feet. "Since I guess your friends are here now, should we go ahead and get back to your sensei?"

"We should. I know Asuma-sensei should be able to hold out on those Akatsuki, but hopefully things haven't turned grim." Ino said. "I guess this is the part where I should probably hit you with my Overdrive and make it look like things have gotten bad for them."

Shinja nodded, but not before channeling what chakra she did have left into Ino's gem. "That is true, but first I'll fortify your gem. This should give you a little more power into your overdrive. Sakura, you should also notice that your armor should be a little stronger as well. Also this will help with your medical abilities since it will strengthen your Pollen Storm ability. The pollen you summon from the plants now will be more concentrated so they'll have a stronger effect." Shinja finished up and prepared herself.

"Thanks Shinja-sama. Oh yeah, before I forget…when we rescue you from Akatsuki, we are so going to the mall. I heard you have impeccable fashion sense." Ino said.

"Well duh Ino-pig! Look at what she's wearing! That says designer all over it!" Sakura replied. "I mean just look at that battle robe! She looks like she'd be going out to the night club like that! Honestly I bet she could round up more guys than Mai-sama ever could!"

"Now that's something. Me getting more guys than my shallow sister. I'll remember that." Shinja smiled at the response. "Ok Ino, Sakura, I wanna see the full extent of your Wood Powers. Don't worry about hurting me either. I'll have enough payback for Akatsuki."

Ino and Sakura nodded as the two prepared. "Alright Shinja-sama, we'll give you everything. WOOD OVERDRIVE!" Ino exploded in a burst of solar energy as she now pulsed with a dark green aura. At her feet, the barren ground suddenly became green with plant life due to her power. "Sakura, you're up first."

"Got it Ino!" Sakura's armored glove began to glow bright yellow as it absorbed the sunlight piercing through the forest. Combining that with her own chakra, she slammed her fist into Shinja, sending her skyward. "SOLAR STRIKE!" she screamed as her fist connected. "Least we know she's not mad at us."

"Yeah yeah, just get me up there." Ino ran towards Sakura and planted a foot in her hands. "Going up?"

"With pleasure." Sakura used her enhanced strength to send Ino skyward over the canopy of the forest where she would get full exposure to the sun. As she hovered in the air she could see the battle between Asuma and Hidan in action and knew she had to hurry to get back. "At least Kasumi-chan left some of her Kitsune capsules. I can pop one to get over the energy drain after Overdrive." She then looked over at Shinja and saw her give a small wink, "I really have to find out how she designs her clothes! They're just amazing. Oh well, whatever. SUNSTORM BLAZER!!" Ino called forth every ounce of solar energy in her body and unleashed it upon the Hachibi. That, coupled with the raining beams of pure solar energy bombarded Shinja with immense force, sending her careening into the battle area where Asuma and Hidan were. As she powered out of Overdrive, she quickly took the capsule and landed back on her feet.

"Looks like everything went well?" asked Shikamaru.

"Yeah, she's back over with Asuma-sensei. Now we better get over there too!" Ino took off running with the rest behind her.

As for the battle with the Akatsuki…

"You worthless snake! I ordered you to kill and this is what you give me!" Hidan yelled in rage. He was already angry enough after having his head cut off by Asuma. Luckily Kakuzu repaired it…although it was still freaky enough seeing a talking head. "I thought I ordered you to kill, not come back a battered mess!"

"Idiotic mortal. If only you knew just what you were up against." Shinja just laughed as she knew the others were on their way to finish this battle. Unfortunately it didn't look like it was going well since Asuma had taken some very bad hits, and Izumo and Kotetsu were hurting enough as it was.

"Oh I know what I'm up against! And it's time I get the real killing started!" Hidan screamed as he began to draw the chakra from the Hoshi no Tama, causing Shinja to grimace in pain.

"What are you doing!" Shinja felt as if her very life was being ripped from her.

"Since you obviously can't do anything right, I'll finish this myself!" Hidan felt himself brim with more strength as he now had the Hachibi's chakra flowing through him. "Now where are those infidels I wanted killed?"

"I doubt you'll be killing anyone, freak!" The four Knights made their way back to the battlefield, assessing the situation. Sakura immediately headed over to Kotetsu and Izumo and began to heal their injuries while Kakuzu still stood by stoically.

"So this is the complete lineup of Team 10? Good, Jashin will be pleased that I slaughtered an entire team." Hidan licked his blade in delight.

"How does he know we're a team?" Chouji thought to himself.

"Ino, can you take care of Asuma, and Chouji and I will handle this nutjob." Shikamaru ordered. "So Chouji, ready to rock this joint?"

"Oh don't you know." Chouji cracked his knuckles in pleasure.

"As if you'll do anything!" Hidan sliced open his hand and let the blood drip to the ground. Using his foot, he drew a circle with a pentagram shape inside. As he stood inside his skin changed to completely black with white markings all over his body, almost as if he looked skeletal.

"Oh no…everyone, we have to get him out of that circle! He's activated his blood curse!" Shikamaru announced, causing all the knights to freeze. Since Asuma, Kotetsu, and Izumo were all injured, none of them knew which one he was linked to.

"Idiot. Who said I was linked to just one of these infidels!" He took his scythe and stabbed it into his leg, immediately causing Asuma, Izumo, and Kotetsu to grimace in pain. "Now I'm gonna get rid of those three, and then I'll deal with you idiots!" He then took an extendable spike from his robe and aimed it directly at his chest. "See all of you in…"

"Not on your life! GAIA CRUSHER!" Chouji slammed his massive fist into the ground, causing all of the earth to break up and throw off Hidan. It kept the blood circle intact, but since Hidan was no longer in it, the curse was inactive. Hidan also lost the spike he was using and it landed impaled in the ground where the blood circle was as well. "Shikamaru, we gotta move now!"

"I'm on it! KAGEYOSE NO JUTSU! (Shadow Endgame Technique.)" Shikamaru sent his shadow out at a blazing speed, causing it to split and grab hold of Hidan. "Time for the second part!" Using his chakra, he pulled Hidan back toward the group, directly in the line of Chouji's sight.

"Oh now it's over!" Chouji increased his fist size to massive proportion and punched the ground, launching himself in the air. "Hope you like this you Akatsuki freak!" Causing the earth around his fist to form several earth spikes, he slammed his fist into Hidan, then increasing the size of his other fist, Chouji unleashed a brutal barrage of strikes upon Hidan, pounding him deeper and deeper into the ground. To finish it up, Chouji immediately went into Meat Tank and coated himself in a rock shield. "I've said it once, and I'll say it again…CHUBBIES RULE!!!" With that he crashed full speed into Hidan with massive force.

"Oh brother, and he does all this just to munch on a bag of chips every now and then." Shikamaru sighed over seeing his friend. "Hey Chouji, think you might have overdid it back there dude."

"Whatever Shikamaru, now where's my chips?" Chouji chuckled as he overlooked the crater where Hidan now lie. "So you think he actually survived that?

"It wouldn't surprise me. Though I'm still wondering why that other guy hasn't made a move yet. Is he still just watching us for some reason?" Shikamaru knew something was up, but he wasn't sure of just what it was this time.

"This is what I get to deal with? You call this pain!" Everyone turned to see Hidan slowly rising from the crater, laughing as if nothing happened to him. "Fools! Jashin will smite all of you this day and slaughter you all in cold blood!"

"Ok there is no way he survived that!" Ino said in shock over seeing the Akatsuki still alive.

"Oh I did…and you'll all die!" Hidan screamed in laughter as he used Shinja's chakra to summon some large thrashing vines from the ground. "I'll use your own power to turn you into plant food!"

Ino saw this and knew she had to make her move now, "You really think you're going to use plant control against me? You know, you Akatsuki really don't have anything going for you in the intelligence department." With a simple flick of her own wrist, she summoned the same vines that locked up with Hidan's. "You're going to have to do better than that."

"Oh I'll…what the hell! Release me!" Hidan looked down to see that Ino also snared him with some extra vines, leaving him wide open for attack.

"Not this time! It ends now! Chouji, finish him!" Ino ordered while she kept Hidan restrained.

"With pleasure!" Chouji reached down and grabbed a hold of the ground. Focusing his Earth energy, he pulled out a hammer made of pure rock. "Chouji steps up to the plate. He's on a streak today, going four for four! This hit will give Team Illumina the win! Can he do it?" With that he ran full speed towards Hidan, "The windup, the pitch…oh boy, it's a screaming fastball straight down the line. Chouji winds up, he swings!"

"Infidel!!!" Hidan screamed before getting a face full of stone.

"Chouji connects! It's a high one. Ladies and gentlemen, Chouji Akimichi just knocked that ball right out of the park!" Chouji cheered. Ino and Shikamaru just looked at him and sighed while he hammed it all up.

"That's one down, now time to deal with the other one." Shikamaru said as they turned their focus to Kakuzu.

"You may want to rethink that." Kakuzu pointed to the falling Hidan and pointed to where the demonic shinobi would land…namely the blood curse circle…with the metal spike ready to impale him!

"Oh no, if he lands on that in the circle…" Ino gasped at what would happen. With Hidan landing in the circle, the blood curse would reactivate and the others would be in serious trouble.

"Gotta stop this! KAGEYOSE NO JUTSU!" Shikamaru pushed all of his chakra into his shadow and sent it full speed to meet with Hidan's and push it out of the way. Unfortunately fate would side against him this day.

"This time, the win belongs to Akatsuki. NINPOU: CHOUJUU GIGA! (Ninja Art: Super Beast Imitation Picture)" Sai said from the shadows, creating a black boar out of ink. The boar ran out of the bushes and landed directly in the path of Shikamaru's shadow, completing his jutsu.

"NO!" Shikamaru couldn't believe his jutsu failed. There was no way he had enough time to react. Hidan slammed full force into the metal spike, landing directly on his blood circle, re-enabling the curse.

A sharp pain shot directly through Hidan as his curse activated. "I always enjoy...this pain. So soothing." He felt a rush of euphoria as the fatal wound took its mark. All eyes turned to Asuma, Izumo, and Kotetsu as they all grabbed their chests in extreme pain.

"Ino, start healing them now!" Sakura pulled out one of the spare Kitsune Capsules she had been supplied with and instantly downed it, concentrating her chakra tenfold. In seconds she immediately had two green palms over Kotetsu and Izumo's chest.

"You're not gonna die on us sensei!" Ino had done the same and was even forcing all her Illumina Power into her healing chakra. "You have to fight it with me!"

"Don't think you'll save them. My curse is final. Jashin will be pleased I have reaped three souls this day." Hidan spat out before he closed his eyes in bliss.

"No...no...it's not going to happen! ASUMA-SENSEI!!!" Ino screamed as she continued forcing all of her chakra into her sensei.Looks like the scales are starting to tip. Will Asuma make it, or will Team 10 have to say goodbye to their beloved sensei? Only time will tell. And this is just the first step leading up to the biggest change the Illumina Knights will ever face.

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