The Actual Storm
"Welcome to our reception Konoha," Pain greeted their opposition.
On the grounds stood the gang comprising of Shikamaru, Temari, Naruto, Sasuke, Chouji, Ino, Neji, Tenten, Kiba, Hinata and Sakura.
"So how we doing this huh?!" Kiba barked up at the roof where the rest of the Akatsuki stood on either side of Pain.
"Quick to LOSE I see," Kisame responded with a chuckle.
"Why you-!" Naruto gritted his teeth.
Pain raised his arm, "Enough of this childish idle chatter, we will state our terms now."
Konan then stepped forward towards the edge of the building and jumped down to stand in front of them.
'Did she just jump down a two story building without even blinking? Well I guess it would make sense to stand in front of us so she doesn't have to yell down at us to tell us the rules. I should stop being so surprised with these people really...' Temari thought to herself.
"You will enter the front entrance behind me," Konan began to explain, "There is a clear path to take as it is clearly signed. If you stray from the given path and try anything that hinders the competition, it is an automatic disqualification. If you leave the grounds without a proper reason, such as serious injury, then the team is at an automatic loss and the game will end. I will also state that these terms apply to us as well to make sure it's a fair game."
'Who would've thought the word 'fair' even came across these people's minds. Maybe some of them aren't so bad...some...' Temari looked over to Hidan who then licked his lips as he caught her eye.
"You are allowed to break off into smaller groups as you progress through the course, however, anyone who happens to lose in competition along the way, cannot participate again later on, nor assist fellow members, unless it's for medical reasons. If this rule is broken, then this could also lead to an instant disqualification or overall loss. Of course this means the left over winners can continue on the path and catch up to team mates who may have moved on. The 'extras' are allowed to follow and walk with the rest of the team, but cannot participate unless for medical reasons, otherwise again, instant loss. Deidara must follow this rule too."
"CAN WE MOVE ON WITH THIS ALREADY?!" Hidan yelled down obnoxiously to Konan.
Pain and Konan gave him a death glare, which Hidan in response swallowed hard and stayed silent.
"Finally, I will also add that not all 'obstacles' are mere brawls or fights. They may contain a different sort of challenge." Konan finished.
'Different huh' Shikamaru thought to himself.
At this moment, Zetsu jumped down from the ledge next to Konan just as smoothly as she did, "Well, are we ready to start?' he asked.
"Yes, we are" Konan responded coolly.
"Everyone, positions" Pain ordered, and soon after, each member disappeared one by one.
"Sasori..." Gaara murmured under his breath still not breaking his gaze from where Sasori stood.
Konan walked towards the door, "The challenge starts as soon as you enter these doors, remember the rules and see you at the end."
"Now wait a moment Konan," Zetsu suddenly spoke to what seemed to be at Konan's surprised as her eyes widened slightly in response, "You know I like the outdoors, I want to make them go through me first." He grinned.
"Now that sounds more like it!" Kiba grinned, pounding his fist into his palm.
"Ki-Kiba..." Hinata was about to speak until a loud yell could be heard from a distance.
"SORRRRYYYY I'M LATEEEEEE!" a man with a bowl haircut could be seen with a cloud of dust following behind him as he ran over.
"Not this guy..." Zetsu sighed.
"You!" Lee suddenly stood in front of Zetsu and pointed at him, "I've decided you shall be my first opponent!"
"Lee! You can't just suddenly decide this!" Sakura scolded him.
"Don't worry Sakura! I promised to be of assistance to you guys and I will start here. The rest of you go! Leave this guy to me!" Lee then grinned and a sparkle of light reflected off a tooth.
"We can't leave you to take him on by yourself," Tenten spoke up to object.
"Don't worry, I will assist Lee in this," an ominous, yet somewhat familiar voice spoke from behind.
The gang turned to see no other than Shino standing behind them.
'Suddenly popping out of nowhere must be a Konoha trend or something...' Temari pondered.
"Ah, didn't think I would see you here Shino..." Zetsu grinned as he spoke.
"Zetsu, I heard you would appear here, so I thought I would give you a visit" Shino responded.
"You guys know each other?" Neji questioned raising an eyebrow.
"Their rival companies, I believe, in the gardening business." Shikamaru added.
"Well then, I guess you will be my partner today Shino! Let's run off and leave everyone to do what they need to do and always NEVER LACK YOUTHFUL SPIRIT!" Lee then ran off.
"Ugh, I guess we should follow him..." Zetsu pulled an annoyed face and went towards the direction Lee went.
Shino followed silently.
When they had left, Shikamaru suddenly spoke, "We just broke a rule didn't we...?"
"What?!" Naruto exclaimed.
"Yeah, someone who wasn't meant to be involved is participating in the competition." Sasuke added.
Konan sighed, "Yes, but we also equally broke a rule by creating a challenge before the game even started, so we shall call it even by disqualifying all three of them and continue as per normal. Zetsu and his nature...I thought it was a long shot to ask him to stay cooped in a building for too long anyway."
"Can we just go into the building already ~" Naruto complained.
Konan grinned, "My thoughts exactly. Well then, best of luck and see you towards the end." She then entered the door.
"Here we go!" Naruto exclaimed and entered the door before much else could be said.
As they entered, the hallway looked no different to how it usually did any other day, however the doors along the way were locked shut and there were paper arrows stuck on the wall to show them their path.
The gang continued to move forward following the arrows until they reached a door that had a sign in front saying 'Checkpoint One. Only two may enter.'
"They're already trying to split us up, huh? Shikamaru pointed out.
Kiba's nose began to twitch, "I'm going in, you guys go ahead. That bastard is in there."
"Kiba, we're not allowing anyone to go alone." Ino firmly stated.
"I will join him." Hinata spoke up
They all looked at her and Kiba.
"I guess we have no choice but to leave it to them. Only two people can enter anyway, best to trust them and move on." Sasuke reasoned.
"Alright, let's get moving then. Good luck guys!" Naruto exclaimed.
"Be careful" Sakura gave warning.
"You better take care of her, Kiba." Neji advised rather harshly to Kiba.
Kiba simply nodded in response. He then took a deep breath and held the door handle, "hurry up and go! We haven't got all day!" he ordered.
The rest of the gang then nodded and walked off, however they did not remove them from their line of sight until Kiba and Hinata had disappeared behind the door, closing it behind them.
"Oh, I'm already feeling really nervous about all of this!" Tenten remarked.
They continued on until they came across the red headed Sasori who stood in front of a door to another room.
"Sasori!" Kankurou openly pointed out.
"Family..." Sasori spoke.
"Clearly this is our hurdle to clear, so the rest of you continue." Gaara stepped up in front of the rest to face Sasori.
"Yeah, this is now personal." Kankurou stood next to Gaara.
"I guess I need to be here too..." Temari moved to stand on the other side of Gaara.
Sasori then put his hand up in front of her, "Sorry Temari, been given strict orders that you cannot join in on this."
"What?!" Temari rebutted, "By who?"
"Don't worry; it isn't by the family or anything. Just simply how the competition works, you must progress further, unless your friends are willing to wait until we're done." Sasori replied calmly.
Temari clenched her jaw, "Fine," she managed to squeeze out.
"Sorry Temari, but leave it to us ok?" Kankurou smiled apologetically.
As silence crept up, everyone began to move on.
"Wait Temari," Sasori suddenly called out as she began to walk away, "Care for Hidan. Probably not allowed to say this, but he's someone to watch out for the most. He's cunning and very dangerous and not one to follow orders silently if they don't suit him. He's most likely plotting something of his own. Be wary."
"Since when was I a damsel in distress?" Temari looked back at Sasori and smirked.
Sasori grinned in response, then he and her siblings entered the room without saying another word.
"You know, for some guy who you haven't seen in a while that's a part of that group of sickos, he seems alright." Tenten noted.
"Yeah, Sasori, my brothers and I were pretty close. We grew up together and he was very much an older brother to us. He left for personal reasons as our family is pretty wacked, but it seems that our relationship hasn't faded." Temari explained.
"Join the club of wacked up families" Sakura laughed.
"Come on guys! We haven't got all day!" Ino yelled out to them as she was well ahead of the rest with Chouji.
"I think the next destination is the indoor pool." Chouji notified.
Ino and Chouji stayed ahead as the gang slowly catched up.
As soon as they entered the doorway to the pool, Chouji and Ino, who were still ahead, were suddenly scooped up by a couple of nets that were laid discretely below them.
"WHAT THE HELL?!" Ino screamed.
"Wh-wh-wh...?" Was all that Chouji managed to say.
Suddenly, the raised nets moved and zipped towards the other side of the room over the pool.
"Well, well, well, look what I've caught here. A couple of big fish, well, a big fish at least." A raspy voice could be heard across the room.
The gang could then see it was Kisame standing at the other end of the pool with Ino and Chouji still in their respective nets hanging on either side of him.
"Hey! Let me go you asshole!" Ino yelled.
"My, my, what a tongue we have here. Be careful, or I might just cut it off." Kisame then gave a toothy smile displaying his rows of very sharp teeth.
Ino opened her mouth, then closed it immediately.
"Don't worry Ino. He's clearly doing this for a specific reason," Chouji reassured.
Kisame cackled, "The big fish seems to be the smarter one! He's right! I really just want to fight, but if I don't do something like this, I know you softies who have never had your hands stained with blood before wouldn't be able to go full out without a bit of incentive. Unlike the other members, I'm not as kind, nor boring enough to deal with this without a bit of violence...well a lot of violence actually."
'Other members without violence...well that's a bit of relief...' Temari sighed in relief to herself.
"I'll take you on sharky!" Naruto belted out.
"No, no, no, you're just some hot-head kid. I've had my fair-share of your type and really have had enough. I've already made my decision on who I want to go against."
Before Naruto could argue, Neji stepped forward.
"Ah yes, you." Kisame grinned widely as Neji came into plain view.
"I will support Neji, the rest of you move on." Tenten commented and walked over next to Neji.
"Oh yes. I did say you might have a chance to take me on if you had your girly to help you out." Kisame then looked past Neji and Tenten to the rest of the gang, "Well you heard what the girly said, get a move on. You can keep going by going through the door behind me."
"Be careful, this guy didn't sound like he was kidding," Sakura warned.
"Actually, Sakura you stay with them." Shikamaru suggested.
"What? Why?" Sakura questioned.
"I feel a bit uneasy that Ino and Chouji are both caught up in nets and there's a large pool of water in front of us. Also the water looks a bit different. We know they're going to actually physically fight, so they will most likely need your aid the most. He even blatantly pointed out that he wasn't 'boring' like the other members." Shikamaru explained.
Temari nodded, "It's probably best you stay with them."
"Ok then..." Sakura agreed rather uneasily.
They all gave each other a nod, "We'll make sure Chouji and Ino stay safe." Tenten commented.
With that, the remaining people of Naruto, Sasuke, Temari and Shikamaru exited through the door on the other side that Kisame pointed out.
As they continued on following the signs, they reached the gym.
Naruto quickly leaped for the handle and opened it.
It was completely pitch black inside.
None of the less, the four of them entered without much hesitation.
When they had all walked in, the lights suddenly switched on and Itachi could be seen standing on a platform that was hanging high off the ceiling.
The door automatically closed behind them.
"Ah, little brother, Naruto and friends..." Itachi greeted without changing his expression on his face.
Sasuke's face immediately changed into a dark expression that wouldn't be safe to show children.
"Itachi!" Naruto yelled out.
"I've been looking forward to this. I see your group has already been diminished."
"Itachi! No more of these stupid games of yours! Come down and face us already!" Naruto continued to yell out quite aggressively.
"All in due time, however, I'm rather concerned for your friends standing behind you. I have no interest in getting them involved, so if they don't mind, it would be best if they stand in that cage over there to your right. Don't worry, I'm not like Kisame, the cage hasn't got a lock and it's more for their safety, rather than anything else."
The sudden image of Sasuke beaten up on the day of the cultural festival came up in Temari's mind.
Temari looked over to the cage suspiciously.
"Temari, Shikamaru, do as he says." Sasuke ordered.
"You're kidding me? As if this isn't even a little bit suspicious to you!" Temari argued.
"There's one thing about my brother, he never blatantly lies. Also, he's not interested in anyone else but me and Naruto right now. It can get pretty dangerous, so please."
Temari gave a stern look to Sasuke.
Shikamaru then grabbed her arm and lead her to the cage and entered it closing the door behind them.
As Itachi said, there was no real 'lock', just something to hold the door securely in place.
"Alright, shall we begin then?" Itachi asked.
"BRING IT!" Naruto exclaimed.
Well, that's it for this chapter!
It went on for way longer than I thought it would so I had to stop here before my head explodes.
Don't worry, the situation of the others who split off from the main group will be told as well in the following chapters.
This chapter was mainly to create a setting for the whole 'challenge' and also make a bit of order since it's such a big group and there are so many characters to work with.
I am aware that Sasori is meant to be much older than the rest, but as I might've said at the beginning, I've adjusted all of their ages, so everyone in the Akatsuki are a bit older by a year or two (some have repeated a year due to failing in lack of attendance) Sasori included.
Hope you enjoyed the chapter anyway! It's been a while so hopefully it's still just as interesting.
I am going away soon, so not sure when the next chapter will come out, but definitely within the year! (Sorry again)
Thanks to all of you who have continued to support me and keeping updated! I really don't deserve it...
Also I would like to add, with this I have passed the 100,000 word count! Amazing!
I admit when I started writing this, I didn't expect it to go for so long, but I just kept adding more and more ideas on as they pop up and here we are!
Have a lovely holiday to those who are having them now!