Things go from bad to worse!
Naruto: Wow another chapter so soon. Guess that writer's block left huh?
Neokenshin: Yeah a little. But after I finished the last chapter I was able to get this one going. Besides I still have a lot more ideas and with the first major Super Battle coming up, I still gotta keep everything in line.
Naruto: Coolness. Well they all know the deal, Kishimoto owns Naruto, yadda. Let's just get on with the chapter.
Chapter 19: Things go from bad to worse!
Five more months had passed since training began at Makoto's temple. Kasumi, Hinata, Haku, and Temari had all taken their respective training to new levels and due to Makoto's extensive training; each became a first level black belt in their assigned style. Today was the day that the group would be heading home, but before that, Shiori was set to undergo one final test before she would be considered a black belt.
"Alright Shiori, this is the final test. You told me that you would shatter 5 blocks of Demonic Ice and prove to me that you are worthy of Shikou Ken. Today is the day I take you up on that promise." Makoto stood before her and everyone else in the Kyokugenryu Temple as Shiori looked upon her final test.
Shiori stood still in concentration, focusing everything in her being as she prepared herself. "In the past half year I've been through so much. Finally becoming a true girl, forging my own path in life. I can finally prove that I'm strong enough to not only protect Kasumi-hime, but to fight by her side as her equal." She began to unwrap her bandaged hands and looked upon them. No longer were they the dainty little hands that she arrived with, they had been forged into hands of a true warrior through training and determination. "I am ready Makoto-sensei."
"Very well. Take your position and show me the fruits of your training." Makoto looked on as Shiori moved in front of the ice blocks and got ready. "To all my students, as you know this school has five disciplines that each of you may study. You all know by my standard, in order to be accepted as a student of the most powerful discipline, Shikou Ken, you must first master Zanretsu Ken, Ko-oh Ken, Gen'ei Kyaku, and Raioh. Even then you must prove you are worthy by shattering 5 blocks of Demonic Ice. Only then will I acknowledge you as a true student of Shikou Ken." She then held in her hand the piece of ice that Sheldon had broken in one of his testings. "As you know, this is the largest piece of ice ever broken off by a student, namely Sheldon Himura. However today, the one I have chosen as heir to the Kyokugenryu School will now attempt to prove her worth as heir. Shiori Uchiha of Konoha has come forth, and has undergone the harshest training ever known to master all four main disciplines in just 3 months. As Heir, she has also been trained in Shikou Ken, but now she wishes to prove she is worthy of that training. If she succeeds, then she will be allowed to learn the final skill of Shikou Ken, the Mugen Kami Kyokuken." Makoto looked over to see the other girls talking to Shiori one final time before she underwent her trial.
"Shiori-chan, are you sure you want to do this? I mean you're still getting used to your own chakra system and body chemistry. Aunt Makoto said you didn't have to do this you know." Hinata asked, hoping Shiori wasn't about to do something dangerous.
"Yeah princess, I'm already happy that you've come so far. You don't have to prove anything to me anymore." Kasumi added.
"I'm happy all of you are concerned for me. But this is something I need to do. This is my final test that will finally say I am Shiori Uchiha, my own girl. I can now prove that I'm no longer a manifestation of Sasuke. Everyone in Konoha will know that I am me." Shiori stated. "Not only that but it will prove to me that I have the strength I need to stand beside all of you as we take on Akatsuki, and I'll be able to truly fight with all my ability."
"But Shiori-chan..." Kasumi said, before she was cut off.
"It's ok Kasumi-hime. I'm glad you're proud of me too. I wanted to do this for you as well, so you'll always know that I'll be there to protect you." Shiori said with a kiss. "You've been part of my strength and I couldn't be happier."
"Alright you stubborn Uchiha. I swear you're just as bad as Sasuke sometimes." Kasumi said. "But that's why I do love both of you. Alright girls, let's see what she's got."
The four moved back and stood beside Makoto as they all looked on at Shiori. Makoto nodded to signal that Shiori could begin her trial.
"Hey wait a minute, why doesn't Shiori have the locking seals released? I mean you gave us our chakra and Illumina power back Aunt Makoto." asked Haku when she noticed Shiori's features were still human.
"That's because Shiori wanted to do this solely using her Ki Energy alone. I tried to tell her she could use everything, but this is what she wanted." Makoto explained to the girls. "Plus I think it would be more satisfying to her if she accomplishes this without her chakra."
"Wow that...hey do you feel that? Her aura is insane!" The girls put focus back on Shiori as she channeled every ounce of Ki in her body.
"This is exactly what I felt when I first met her, but it was wild and unrefined. What you feel now is the aura of a true warrior." Makoto explained, but she noticed the intensity increasing. "But it wasn't supposed to keep getting stronger!"
"But what's that...you don't think she could have?" Temari asked, wondering if Shiori did know it.
"There's no way! She's only seen it done one time, and I disabled her Sharingan when it happened! If she knows the..." Makoto said before she overheard Shiori.
"All my focus, my concentration, power, rage, hopes and dreams are all in this one strike. I attack with EVERYTHING I HAVE!! MUGEN KAMI KYOKUKEN! (Infinite God Extremity Fist)" Shiori's fist shined in an immense blue aura as all of her Ki Energy was channeled into her fist. She struck the first block of Ice with everything she had, sending the energy barreling through the Ice Blocks. She even surprised everyone in the temple by going beyond that and shattering another 10 blocks behind it! "I said...I would do it." Her energy exhausted, she fell to her knees.
"Shiori-chan!" Kasumi ran down as quickly as possible to check on her girlfriend, hoping she was ok.
"Did you see me Kasumi-hime?" she said weakly.
"Shiori-chan...I have never been more proud of you than I am now! You were unreal out there!" Kasumi said proudly.
"Holy cow girl! That was some serious power! You demolished those ice blocks!" Haku added.
"Shiori, this is official, there is no way you're anything like Sasuke now." Hinata said.
"So how about we go home and show off just what we've learned, huh?" Makoto went over and crouched down to the girls. "Shiori, never have I seen anyone with the sheer potential as you. I was right in choosing you as my heir to this school and I know it will be in good hands." She then went over and removed the two sealing armbands from Shiori's wrists, unsealing all of her chakra and revealing her kitsune features once again.
"Now there's those kawaii ears I love so much!" Kasumi started tickling Shiori's ears, getting a nice laugh out of the Uchiha girl.
"One question Shiori, how on earth did you know how to do the Mugen Kami Kyokuken? If I remember correctly, you've only seen it one time and your Sharingan was sealed up." asked the Rokubi.
"Oh that...um well...the nights you did unseal my Sharingan, I kept seeing that image of you over and over again, so I guess I copied it from my own mental image. Honestly I didn't even think it was going to work at all." Shiori replied with a dumb look. "Guess I got lucky?"
"Lucky! Shiori, you literally have the entire temple going nuts! To come in here and become a master of this style in just 6 months time is amazing. And you shattered my record by a few hundred miles!" Sheldon explained as he helped her to her feet. "I just managed to break a chunk double in size, but 15 blocks! That's too much!"
"Sorry about that." Shiori apologized, but no one really cared. They were all happy for her anyway.
"Well girls, there's one thing left. Better go get packed up and ready to go. We'll have the promotion ceremony and it's head on to Konoha." Makoto stated as she directed her students to begin cleaning the main hall.
The award ceremony was prompt, with Makoto awarding Kasumi, Hinata, Temari, and Haku with their black belts for their respective disciplines. Shiori was awarded a brand new custom made fighting outfit with chakra enhanced pants, a sleeveless fighting robe, and a pair of fingerless gloves to help her channel her Ki. She tied it off with a new Ice Blue sash to match Makoto's color. It also had the Konoha emblem on her gloves, her Uchiha emblem on her back, and a blue wolf emblem on the right side of her robe.
"Ok who are you and what did you do with my fiancée?' Kasumi asked when she saw the new look.
"You...you don't like it Kasumi-hime?" Shiori said shyly.
"Are you kidding? I love it!" Kasumi replied. "But it is gonna suck that I won't get to see it for a while. Oh well you're still cute in your snow outfit anyway." She pressed the button on her transformer and was now geared back up in her snow gear. "Well you guys ready to go play in the snow?"
"Well if dealing with my dork sisters is ready enough, then I guess so." Makoto said. "Toshiro, I leave you in charge as senior student." Toshiro nodded as he directed everyone to line up in respect to their departing master. "Well Kasumi, it looks like you left with a lot more than you arrived with. New skills and two new allies. I take it this should help our side greatly."
Kasumi nodded to her and Sheldon, who would also be joining them, "Yeah. Akatsuki's in for some real trouble now!"
The trip was much easier to travel since Makoto was able to control any raging snowstorms, so the group had a nice little trip back. Once they got back to Fire Country, all of them were glad to be back in the warm air. Getting to Konoha had new revelations as well as the group arrived and headed back to the Training Center to check in.
"Hey...did anyone notice there were two new guys guarding the entrance?" Hinata asked as they walked through town.
"Yeah, maybe Izumo and Kotetsu finally took a vacation or something." Haku replied.
"I doubt it. For some reason the village just seems really down. Hope nothing bad happened while we were gone." Temari commented on the morale of the village. She could feel the general aura and it felt slightly depressing.
"Hey instead of heading to the Training Center, let's go by my house first. Oka-san might be there with Aunt Mai and Aunt Yugito." Kasumi said. "Plus we need to get Sheldon and Aunt Makoto moved in."
"Sounds fine Kasumi." Makoto replied while Sheldon also agreed.
So the group headed to the Uzumaki mansion instead only to notice an explosion coming from the dojo...
"What in the world?" The girls all ran in to see Naruto and Konohamaru going crazy! Naruto looked like he was calm of course, but Konohamaru seemed like he was out for blood!
"I thought I told you to come at me like you're going to kill me Boss!" Konohamaru screamed as he threw another set of green wind blades at Naruto. "You said it yourself, if I want to get stronger to kill Hidan, I have to be pushed to my absolute limit!"
"Kill Hidan...Konohamaru wants to take on an Akatsuki? Just what in the world happened?" The girls were all confused, but Makoto sensed it.
"He's lost someone dearly to him and he craves for revenge. His rage is blinding him." Makoto said. "You feel it, don't you girls."
The girls took note and focused, sensing his anger. "Something's happened and we need to find out what it is." Kasumi said, hoping to get some answers. "Hey Naruto, you got a minute!"
"Hey...huh...Kasumi-chan? When did you get home?" Naruto saw the girls and before he could make his way over to them...Hinata's glomping sense reacted. "Oof! Hi Hina-chan. I've missed you."
"Missed you too Naru-chan. Now where's Natsumi-chan?" asked Hinata as she started kissing all over Naruto.
"She's out with the other girls." Naruto replied. "Hey Konohamaru, take a break man. No need to kill yourself."
"Whatever. I'm going out back to train some more." Konohamaru stormed out of the dojo, leaving everyone else confused.
"What's his problem? He's acting like Sasuke was right after the Uchiha Massacre." Kasumi asked.
"Things really haven't been too good around here. Thanks to Hidan, we've already taken a bad hit on our side. And Temari you're gonna want to hear this. Shikamaru's taking this pretty bad as well." Naruto started to explain.
After Hidan's battle with Team 10, Ino was pouring everything in her being into Asuma to try to keep him alive.
"Please Asuma-sensei, you have to fight! Don't die on me!" she cried as she started pumping her Illumina Energy into her healing chakra.
Asuma said nothing as Shikamaru and Chouji stared down Kakuzu. Both boys were ready to strike at a moment's notice when Kakuzu walked over to Hidan.
"And where the hell do you think you're going?" questioned Chouji, his fist ready to strike again.
"It seems that we are needed elsewhere. Do not worry; I will be back for the body. It will pay a hefty sum." Kakuzu replied after he picked up the corpse they were carrying earlier. "Until our next meeting."
"You're not going anywhere!" Shikamaru shot out his shadow but the two were covered in a black dome and soon vanished. "Damn!"
"Forget about them Shikamaru, we need to handle the others." Chouji took notice of the area. "But at least we did get one little spoil."
"What's..." Shikamaru noticed Chouji point to a small green crystal...namely Shinja's Hoshi no Tama! "I see. Let's just get back to base and recover. We'll do better if..."
"Damn!!!" Sakura slammed her fists into the ground, causing a mild quake. "I couldn't save them!"
"Sakura, are you ok? What's wrong?" Shikamaru asked.
"Its Izumo and Kotetsu...I did everything I could but I couldn't stop that curse. They're both dead." Sakura cursed under her breath. "This wasn't supposed to happen!"
"Wait if...ASUMA!" Shikamaru took note of Ino struggling to keep her healing chakra going full force.
"Dammit Asuma-sensei, don't give up on me! Please, you have to stay alive!" Ino cried as she kept her green hands over his chest. "Say something, anything!"
Sakura rushed over and began a diagnostic jutsu. "Ino, he's still alive, but barely. Somehow I think your words are getting to him, but we need to get him back to Tsunade-sensei and fast!" She placed her own hands over Ino's and began focusing her own healing chakra through Asuma. "Chouji, can you get Izumo and Kotetsu please? Shikamaru, we're gonna need your help in getting Asuma-sensei back to Konoha."
"Alright Sakura." Chouji used one of his hands and enlarged it just enough to take hold of the two fallen Chuunin. Afterwards he used his other hand as a makeshift stretcher for Asuma while Shikamaru moved him onto Chouji's hands. "Let's move people!"
Within 15 minutes the four Knights returned to Konoha and charged full speed into the hospital. Sakura immediately called ahead to have Tsunade and Akane meet them.
"Sakura give me details on his vitals." Tsunade was carefully overlooking Asuma while she had two medical Chuunin and Shizune fast at work on healing. "And tell me everything that happened."
"It was Hidan of Akatsuki. He used that blood curse of his and linked himself to all three of them." Sakura explained. "For one thing there should have been no way he could have done that, since Itachi's intel said that Hidan can only link himself with one person."
"Was he using anything else to augment his chakra?" asked Akane. Chouji nodded and pulled out Shinja's Hoshi no Tama.
"From what happened earlier, he summoned Shinja-sama and sent her to attack Shikamaru. Luckily his orders were vague and Shika outsmarted him." Chouji handed over the Hoshi no Tama to Akane for safe keeping.
"What did he do?" asked the Kyuubi.
"I played her in Shogi, and she utterly killed me." Shikamaru replied calmly. "Hidan ordered her to kill me, and she did."
Tsunade and Akane just looked at him like he was crazy. Did he honestly get out of a fight with a Bijuu by just playing Shogi?
"Ok I gotta hear this one for myself." Akane channeled a part of her chakra into the Hoshi no Tama and placed it on the ground, summoning Shinja once more.
"Look you stupid Akatsuki…Uh…where am I?" Shinja looked around and saw she wasn't back in the field but she did see everyone else. "Shikamaru, what are you doing here?"
"Alright Snakey, time to answer some questions." Akane said, instantly getting the Hachibi shaken up over that name.
"Akane-nee-chan? You're the one that summoned me?" Shinja asked, but was immediately put in a death hug.
"You know it's good to finally see you! But the reunion can wait. We need to talk." Akane said, tending back to the task at hand.
"Fine with me. But thanks for getting me out of that sealing pit for a while." Shinja replied. She then saw everyone rush into one of the emergency rooms with Asuma. "Hey that was one of the ninjas with you Shikamaru. Is he ok?"
"We don't know. After Hidan hit himself with that fatal hit, Asuma's hanging on to life itself." Shikamaru replied when he noticed Shinja's face go grim.
"It was somewhat my fault that he's like this. Hidan was using my chakra in that battle. That's the only way he could have made his curse the way he did." Shinja apologized only to see that Shikamaru and Chouji were unmoved.
"We're not blaming you Shinja-sama. You had no choice since he had your Hoshi no Tama. Look Asuma's gonna fight this." Shikamaru replied. "And once he's better, we're going to find Hidan and kill him for this."
"Guys, we need to get to the hospital! We gotta check on Asuma-sensei!" Haku said as she and the other girls were about to rush out when Naruto stopped them.
"Wait…that won't work." Naruto said, causing the girls to fear the worst. "He's not there anymore."
"Naruto, please…don't say he's…" Temari was shaking just over the fact he was about to say something that they didn't want to hear.
"He is Temari. We lost him about four months ago." Naruto replied, causing all the girls to freeze in place. "Baa-chan and Oka-san were able to get him on a stable life support system, but they racked their brains trying to find a way to heal him over the curse."
"What about a demonic blood transfusion? Couldn't that have saved him?" asked Haku when she saw Naruto nod his head.
"No, they were ready to try that, but they noticed that even with combining demonic blood with his own, Hidan's curse caused it to reject any healing properties. Even Aunt Kagome's purification didn't work." Naruto explained as he wiped the sweat from his brow. "From what Kimiko explained to me, Aunt Kagome used one of the most powerful purification spells she knew, and not even that worked!"
"Well what about some of Aunt Mai's tears? That's the strongest healing reagent known." Hinata said, but she was met with the same response.
"Even THAT didn't work!" Naruto replied. "Itachi even went back to Akatsuki headquarters and popped the question on how to counter the curse."
"What was his answer?" asked Kasumi.
"The only way to stop the curse if someone didn't die from the fatal strike…is that Hidan himself has to die outside of a blood curse circle. And since he's apparently immortal…well…" Naruto said.
"This is awful. Ino, Chouji, and Shikamaru must have been devastated." Haku replied in grief.
"It was hard for them, but Konohamaru took it even worse. He was completely destroyed at the funeral, simply because it now meant that he was the last surviving Sarutobi." Naruto told them.
"That's why he's acting like Sasuke was!" Kasumi said, realizing the similarity.
"Exactly, and Akemi-chan has been doing everything she could to try and get him to calm down. Except this time…it's not working so well." Naruto said. "This is why he's been training with me so much. Needless to say his chakra capacity and jutsu have improved, and he's gotten a lot better with his Wind Armor abilities, but all of us fear he may try to run after Hidan and get himself killed!"
"Ok, well things are gonna change for the better. The full team is back and now that Haku-chan has her overdrive, Akatsuki's gonna be in some serious trouble." Shiori said. "I can't wait to use my new skills on any of them!"
"Oh yeah, you never introduced me to your other friend." Naruto got up and walked over to Sheldon, offering a hand. "The name's Naruto. I'm Kasumi and Haku's sister, and Hina-chan's fiancé."
"Sheldon Himura, student of Master Makoto. A pleasure to meet you Naruto." He took Naruto's hand in a firm shake. "I look forward to working with you in the future."
"You know this guy I like. Not like that prick Sai." Naruto said as he released the handshake. "Well guys let's get you moved in. Aunt Makoto, you'd probably like to meet up with Oka-san and the others, so I'll take you to meet them."
"Thank you Naruto. It will be nice to meet them after so long. But tell me…are they still a little crazy?" asked the Rokubi.
"Oh you missed the 'teen' escapade. That was trouble enough in its own!" Naruto chuckled a bit as he led the way.
"Hey guys, I'm gonna go find Shika-kun. I'll catch up to you later." Temari said as she headed back out of the dojo.
"He's probably at home or at Asuma-sensei's grave Temari. Tell him we all said hi." Naruto said.
"I will. Thanks Naruto." Temari replied.
Shikamaru stood in front of a headstone in silence, looking down on his fallen sensei. Ever since Asuma passed, he would go to his grave every day and just stand there, holding Asuma's lighter.
"I still don't know why I come here. It's just too troublesome." Shikamaru said to himself.
"Maybe it's because there's still a part of you that doesn't want to let go of him." Shikamaru turned to see Temari standing there, holding a bouquet of flowers. She walked up and placed the flowers on his grave, and said a small prayer for the fallen shinobi.
"I'm sorry I wasn't here for you when all this happened Shika-kun." Temari said as she got to her feet.
"Don't worry about it. It's not big." Shikamaru replied, trying to brush off his emotions.
"Look, I wanna say I know how it feels to lose someone you love that is so close to you." Temari said. "It's just hard for me to try and say something comforting when I never really had someone to love. I was always trained to be a battle hardened kunoichi, so I didn't really learn true love until I met you."
"Temari, it's ok. I ended up letting out a lot of my frustration after the funeral." Shikamaru said when Temari started to notice a small tear in his eye. "I just…"
Temari noticed the tears increasing, "Shika-kun, it's ok. Go ahead and let it all out. That's what I'm here for."
"I still can't believe he's gone!" Temari took hold of him and let him cry in her shoulder. "If my jutsu didn't fail, he'd still be alive!"
"Shika-kun, you're not to blame for this! You're not the one that caused his death, it was Akatsuki." Temari said, trying to soothe his pain. "Now that all of us are back, we're going to make sure that all of them are silenced for good. And I'll even be there beside you…because we are going to avenge Asuma's death."
The two just stood there, Temari allowing Shikamaru to finally release the last of his pent up emotion.
"Do we have any more leads on Akatsuki activity?" Akane was going over some of the latest intel that Itachi and Dr. Sakurano had processed.
"Nothing. For some reason they're keeping quiet again." Daisuke replied. "They must have some kind of motive for what's been happening."
"It was bad enough that Asuma was killed, and now Gai and Kakashi were both critically injured. Both are out of commission for the next year!" Arashi said. "But my question is this, why would they go after these specific Jounin?"
"Hmm, wait a minute. Didn't you guys notice that after Asuma died, Ino, Chouji, and Shikamaru all took a heavy hit in morale? Also the same was for Neji, Tenten, Naruto, and Sasuke." Inuyasha posed the question. "What was the connection of those Jounin to the Knights?"
Arashi immediately knew what was going on. "They're targeting the senseis of the Knights! Asuma, Gai, and Kakashi were all their Jounin senseis when they were all genin! That would have meant that Kurenai would have been next, had she not been on maternal leave!"
"Ok, here's the big thing. How did Akatsuki know that those were the Knights senseis?" Mai asked.
"It's simple…we have a spy in our midst." Makoto said as she entered the conference room.
"Mako-chan, nice of you to join us." Akane said. "Looks like the rest of the girls are back as well."
"Yeah, we figured you'd want to have a little bit of chat time with Aunt Makoto." Kasumi said. "Well we won't interrupt you guys. We're all going to Ichiraku's to catch up."
"Take care." Akane replied. "Well Makoto, I guess we need to get you up to speed."
"Sounds good." Makoto said, taking a seat beside Mai. "And I guess I need to go ahead and get this out…and I know Inuyasha and Daisuke are going to hate this."
"Oh great, Daisuke we're in trouble now!" Inuyasha grumbled as he looked upon his sisters.
"Why do I get the feeling a prank is in the air." Daisuke rolled his eyes.
"Because the Five Bijuu Sisters are back together and there's nothing you dorky boys can do about it!" Shinja said. Since they now had her Hoshi no Tama, they could summon her to Konoha. She could exist for about 24 hours before needing to return back to the sealing chamber, but it gave her a chance to be a liaison with Hiroshi and Tsukune. "So girls, after everything we need to have a good long planning session."
"Ugh!!!" Inuyasha and Daisuke both groaned in misery.
"Ok Kasumi, please tell me I'm not seeing this? I thought it was bad enough with Naruto alone…but there really is a female version of him…and it's not Natsumi?" Haku asked when she saw both Naruto and Kimiko downing an insane amount of ramen.
"What's so bad? I just like the stuff." Kimiko slurped up another load of noodles. "You know if we could get one of these places back in the Inu Village, people would love it!"
"That's it. Next time there's an extended mission, Naruto, you're the one going on it." Haku said as she took a seat in the booth.
"Ha ha, very funny. Hey where's Sasuke? I thought that idiot would have been here by now?" asked Naruto. "Any ideas on where he is nee-chan?"
"I think he's still at home. Shiori-chan went back after we split up so she'll probably come back with him later." Kasumi replied as she placed her order.
"Ok this has been bothering me since I got here and everyone told me about it. How can you be engaged to both a guy and a girl at the same time Kasumi?" Kimiko asked. "I mean I can understand one or the other…but both?"
"Don't forget to add that they were technically both the same person." Haku added.
"Honestly I really don't know. I mean when I look at both Sasuke and Shiori, I do see the same person, but I also see two different people that I love. Sasuke's always been there ever since we were genin, and when he created Shiori, I still knew it was Sasuke." Kasumi answered. "I guess after 3 years, Shiori just decided she wanted to be her own self, and even though she's now her own girl, I do still see her as a little bit of Sasuke."
"But isn't the whole wedding thing gonna be really complicated? I mean how is that whole ordeal gonna work?" Kimiko said.
"Actually Hinata answered this one a long time ago back at her engagement party." Kasumi said with a chuckle.
"Oh come on Kasumi-chan! That was bad enough when she did that!" Haku said. "She had all of us on the floor groaning!"
"Yeah and I nearly choked on the ribs I was eating too!" Naruto added.
"Is it my fault that her Kage Bunshin joke did that? You guys wouldn't leave her alone about who her maid of honor was gonna be!" Kasumi said as she got her order. "Seriously, as long as you've known us, did you really think it was gonna be anyone else but me?"
"And this is why my family is absolutely insane." Haku sighed as she dined on her ramen.
"Here's the information you requested Pein-sama." an unknown shinobi handed a manila envelope to the Rinnegan wielder. "All of Team Illumina has now regrouped and is back in Konoha."
"Excellent. I'll begin preparations immediately for the next phase of our plan." Pein replied as he took out the information inside. "Danzo, you have served us well. It looks like Madara-sama will be able to soon begin his fox hunt."
Pein headed back into the inner chambers where Madara was in conference with Naraku.
"So Pein," asked the founder of Uchiha. "What news do you bring from Konoha?"
Pein handed over the folder, "I believe you requested information for your 'fox hunt' if I'm correct?"
Madara took out the information and overlooked all of the pictures given, "Well well, we have an interesting array of colors. Are there any that catch your eye Naraku?"
Naraku took note of the pictures, feeling a little disgust when he saw the picture of Kimiko. "All a nice selection. However other than the worthless dog girl, these two seem to be just perfect for our goals."
Madara separated the two Naraku picked out and looked over the descriptions, "Yes, both would be very valuable, although it seems this one may put up some resistance. Now this young vixen on the other hand, I think she will submit quite nicely." He handed the pictures back to Pein. "Send Kakuzu and Hidan just as a warning. Also make sure our boy Sai is put to good use."
"As you wish Madara-sama." Pein took his leave to relay the orders.
"Soon…you'll be begging for mercy…Kasumi Uzumaki." Madara let off a sinister laugh.
A few days later…
Konohamaru thought his training couldn't get any tougher…well that was until he did the one thing he never should have done. He ticked off his girlfriend.
"Akemi-chan, what's your problem! What on earth did I do to make you so mad?" Konohamaru picked himself off the ground after Akemi slammed him into the walls of the Uzumaki dojo.
"For four months…I've tried being nice. I've tried being supportive, and I've tried everything that Sasuke-kun said Kasumi-chan did for him. But no, you still want to go on this power trip just to get your petty revenge!" Her chakra was flaring since she tapped into all four tails of her kitsune chakra. Needless to say this wasn't a 10 year old temper tantrum…it was about to become a 10 year old blaze of fury! "Do you really think that trying to push your body to the point of death is going to make you strong enough to kill an Akatsuki?"
"You don't understand! He killed my uncle! I have to avenge my family as the last Sarutobi!" Konohamaru tried to fight back but Akemi slammed another sharp punch right in his stomach.
"Oh right, and I'm supposed to sit back and watch the last Sarutobi kill himself, and watch a clan be wiped out!" She grabbed him by his neck and tightened her grip. Konohamaru could feel the tips of her fingernails starting to slightly pierce his skin. "Tell me, is that what you really want? You want me to be absolutely miserable for the rest of my life because the boy I love decided to go off and kill himself for no reason?"
"No but I…" Konohamaru felt her grip tighten before she threw him to the ground.
"You're lucky I love you, or I'd kill you myself for being so stupid." Akemi's chakra finally began to calm down. "But you listen to me Konohamaru Sarutobi…if you want me to still be your girlfriend; you better lose this stupid avenger attitude. All it's going to do is get yourself killed. Got is?"
"But…" Before he could even finish, Akemi fired off her Starburst Ray and came within inches of his head.
"GOT IT?" She screamed, getting him to nod in agreement immediately. "Good, now I'm gonna go take a nap." As she walked through the hall, Naruto, Sasuke, Hinata, Kasumi, Shiori, and Haku were all watching the major beatdown that poor Konohamaru suffered. "What do YOU want?"
"Nothing, just maybe seeing if you wanted to go grab a bowl of ice cream later?" Kasumi asked, hoping not to tick off her little sister anymore.
"As much as I'd like that Kasumi-chan, I really don't feel like having ice cream today. Can one of you wake me up when Oka-san has dinner ready?" Akemi said, still blowing off a little steam.
"Yeah, yeah…we'll let you know. Have a nice nap kiddo." Naruto said in haste. After Akemi was gone they all rushed in to see Konohamaru groaning in pain.
"Boss…is she still mad?" Konohamaru asked while Kasumi, Haku, and Hinata were working on healing him.
"Yeah…pretty much." Naruto replied. "But dude…I gotta say this. I have NEVER seen anyone survive an Uzumaki female beatdown! The last time I saw someone that pissed was back when Otou-san and Ero-sennin went on an all day Icha Icha binge with Kakashi-sensei and Oka-san saw all of them with piles of books!"
"Honestly, I don't think I've even gotten that mad! I know Sasuke's done some crazy stuff, but he's never ticked me off that bad." Kasumi told the young Sarutobi. "So I take it you're off the whole 'Avenger' thing?"
"Yeah it's not…ow, that hurts!" Konohamaru winced as Hinata set one of his broken bones in his arm. "But yeah, I think I'm over my need for revenge. I'll make sure I'm fighting with you guys."
"That's better, now let's get you to Oka-san so we can get a cast on that arm." Naruto kneeled down while Hinata and Kasumi hoisted Konohamaru up onto his back. "Alright I'll catch you back at the training center in a bit."
"Alright. Just take it easy for now Konohamaru. We need you back up in full shape soon." Haku waved as Naruto and Konohamaru took off to the hospital. When they were out of range, that's when the humor kicked in…
"Holy cow! Can you believe she just up and beat the crap out of him!" Sasuke was on the floor in tears laughing his head off. "I don't know what's crazier, when she went completely demon, or when she hit Konohamaru with a backhand and knocked him into that wall!"
"Look we really shouldn't be laughing…but still you gotta admit…ok it was just too funny when she drop kicked him." Shiori snickered as well.
"Sasuke-chan, you do know if you had been that way, you would have probably suffered the same fate." Kasumi said, trying to keep herself composed.
"You kidding? I probably would have run scared if I had to face you as a demonic 10 year old!" Sasuke was gasping for air after still laughing so hard.
"Look let's just get over to the debriefing they have going on." Haku said, hiding her own laughter. "Then we can tell everyone and really start cracking up."
So after an hour of getting all the humor out of their system, the group finally met back up at the Training Facility to get the new debriefing on the latest motives of Akatsuki.
"Now Danzo, explain to me just WHY the hell you're here?" Tsunade was quite miffed at the fact that the old war hawk was at the debriefing.
"It's obvious. I feel it right to be here since my protégé Sai is a part of the team. Therefore as his advisor it's only befitting I join you." Danzo said with a sick smile.
"Hmm, I sense a lot of darkness in him and his student. We may need to be cautious in the future." Makoto thought to herself over seeing Danzo and Sai.
"Alright whatever. Now to…hey where's Konohamaru and Akemi?" asked the Hokage.
"Well…they kinda had a little lover's quarrel." Naruto said, keeping himself from laughing.
"So she finally beat some sense into him over the stupid 'avenger' thing huh?" Mai said. "I knew he was gonna get it sometime."
"Well at least he's recovering for now. But to get back to the task at hand. We've gotten reports that Akatsuki is lurking around in Fire Country again. One of Jiraiya's spies saw two cloaked figures about two hours distance away. Unfortunately they weren't able to tell who it could be, so we may be facing down Hidan, Kakuzu, Kisame, or Zetsu. Itachi still reports that Konan, Pein, Madara, and Naraku are still back in Ame. Jiraiya himself has gone on a special infiltration mission to get more information outside of Akatsuki's base." Tsunade explained.
"Right now we believe the best chance of investigation is to send a small group to scout the area. If everything is good, we can start plans on our assault on Ame to rescue the remaining three Bijuu and to stop Madara and Pein once and for all." Arashi continued Tsunade's explanation. "For now we're sending Kasumi, Neji, and Kimiko out to investigate."
"If I may Arashi-sama, I believe it would be better to add Sai to this scouting party. His mastery of Ink Jutsu will be quite beneficial for scouting and reconnaissance." Danzo interjected, causing a slight bit of uneasiness.
"Are you sure? I mean we still haven't gotten the full team used to each other, now that we also have Sheldon joining the team."
"It's ok Otou-san, we'll be in great shape. I'm sure his jutsu will come in handy." Kasumi replied, getting a fake smile out of Sai.
"Very well then, Kasumi, Kimiko, Neji, and Sai head out. Everyone else stay back on alert. Maintain communication as necessary. If you don't find anything within the next four hours, return home. Kasumi you're leading the group."
"Understood." The four understood their orders and immediately set out.
"Well then I await good news Tsunade-sama. Hopefully our team will be successful." Danzo said as he took his leave.
"We'll let you know what we find out." Tsunade said, getting a bad vibe.
After Danzo left, everyone felt a little better, but things were still fairly tense. "Something's not right at all." Shiori said after taking note of his aura.
"You felt it too? His aura is deceptive. We should be wary around him." Makoto said in agreement.
"You're right. I never trusted that old war hawk. So for now…Kagome, are you ok?" Tsunade noticed the miko priestess looked quite pale.
"I…just had another spiritual vision. I foresee very dark times ahead." Kagome said, trying to compose herself. "No…I even saw more…death…Jiraiya…he will not return from Ame."
"Kagome, you can't be serious! What happens to him?" Arashi asked.
"All I know is that he won't survive. I'm sorry Arashi." Kagome apologized.
"No it's ok. Right now we still don't know if your first vision will happen. I know Inuyasha said you were never wrong, but we're known to prove many people wrong." Arashi replied, when he realized that the rest of the group didn't know about Kagome's first vision.
"Uh Otou-san…what are you talking about?" asked Haku as everyone else was wanting to know.
"Great Arashi, just great. Alright I might as well fill you in…" Akane said, beginning her explanation of Kagome's first vision.
After about three hours, Kasumi, Kimiko, Neji, and Sai had done a wide range sweep of Fire Country, with no success.
"Guys, any luck?" Kasumi said over her communicator.
"Nothing here." Neji replied.
"Same here Kasumi-chan." Kimiko answered.
"I have seen nothing Kasumi-san." Sai replied.
"Great, well keep up the search for another half hour, then we'll head back." Kasumi said, getting a confirmation from everyone else. "This is just perfect. I've even tried sensing their aura and got nothing! Ugh, can this day get any worse!"
"If fox girl says it's bad then Tobi should be careful." Kasumi turned and saw up in one of the trees, the orange mask wearing Akatsuki.
"Alright, what are you doing here?" demanded Kasumi. "Answer me now or I'll have my whole team here in minutes."
"But Tobi is a good boy. He doesn't want to fight fox girl." Tobi swooped down and landed right in front of Kasumi. "Besides Tobi plans to hunt fox girl."
"Oh really? Well I'll have you know I don't plan on being anyone's prey. Say your…ow, what the hell?" Kasumi looked down to see a black snake slither off. "Yeah like some small snake venom is gonna…gonna…" Kasumi felt her entire body go numb as she fell to her knees. "That was…no ordinary…"
"Of course. It was one of my demonic snakes. The venom it injected is specifically designed to paralyze anyone possessing demonic blood, even a hanyou as yourself." Naraku rose up from the ground beside Tobi as Kasumi struggled with the venom. "For now you have no chance of resisting."
"Plus fox girl needs to rest if she wants to get better." The lone hole on Tobi's mask now shined with a red background. "This will help her sleep."
"That's…a…Sharing…" Before Kasumi could finish she blacked out from the force of Tobi's Sharingan.
"Looks like we got our fox." Madara removed the mask as his eyes returned to normal. "I told you fox hunting was quite refreshing for the soul."
"I never doubted you my friend. And now we begin the second phase of the plan." Naraku said as Sai arrived. "Ah and here's our renowned actor now."
"How may I serve you Madara-sama?" asked the ink ninja.
"Sai, you're about to give a magnificent performance." Madara said as his plan continued.
An hour later…
"Did you find anything?" asked Arashi as Neji and Kimiko returned.
"Nothing. Who knows what Akatsuki is doing now." Neji answered.
"Hey Uncle Arashi, has Kasumi-chan come back yet?" asked Kimiko. "We haven't heard from her in the past hour."
"The same could be said for Sai." Neji replied.
"You know everyone is quite suspicious of him. I think we need to keep an eye out for…" Arashi said when he saw a battered and beaten Sai trudging through the forest. "Ok, so much for suspicion."
"Sai are you ok? What happened to you?" Kimiko rushed over to start checking his wounds.
"It…was Akatsuki. We were…ambushed." Sai weakly replied. "It was…Madara himself."
"Madara! Ok now this is bad. If he's actually attacking now we need to move out!" Arashi said. "But one thing…where's Kasumi?"
"Kasumi-san….Kasumi-san…" Sai stuttered out. "Madara…has her!"
"This is bad!" Neji immediately opened communication, "All Illumina Knights come in! This is a critical situation."
"Neji, we're here at the Training Facility. What's the problem?" Akane responded.
"Kasumi Uzumaki has been captured by Akatsuki; I repeat Kasumi has been captured by Akatsuki!" Neji said over his communicator.Yeah I know a few of my readers may be a little upset that Asuma is dead, but I do want to say that it was crucial for Konohamaru. However he's not gonna pull a Sasuke-Avenger thing and go off on his own. Now as for Akatsuki...well it's gonna get ugly here thanks to them. But don't worry it's not gonna be for too long. For all the Kasumi fans, don't worry, she'll be rescued....