The battle in Cloud Village had ended almost a day ago, and the Konoha survivors were taking a rest in a cave on the edge of the Land of Lightning.
Raikage was a fearsome foe, Kakashi had to agree, and the fact that everyone was already somewhat startled and tired after fighting the Eight Tails’ didn’t help their cause. But fortunately, it seemed the Raikage had lost an arm in his fight against Neji so the battle wasn’t lost from the start.
The problematic part was that Raikage was going all out from the start— his every attack intending to kill, and he did succeed in doing exactly that to the Root members. Kakashi didn’t pity them though, they were better off dead. The problem was, that Raikage had suddenly started to target Hinata point upon realising she was Neji’s cousin, and he didn’t seem to want to kill her, but Kakashi could tell from his dark eyes that he had something worse in mind.
Luckily, he failed. With Kakashi deciding to team up with Sasuke for that small instance, they both managed to defeat the Raikage— making him lose his other arm upon Sasuke setting it in Blackflame. He would have died actually since he couldn't stop the fire from spreading to his entire body, but Kakashi used Kamui to tear his arm apart to save him. Killing a Kage would have huge consequences that Kakashi didn’t want the world to face when he could stop it from happening.
Unfortunately, before Kakashi could shift his focus and see an end to Sasuke, the Akatsuki member with an orange mask who he had recently heard about appeared out of thin air and then grabbed Sasuke’s squad and Killer Bee before teleporting away from there.
Doing their best in that state, the Konoha Ninjas barely managed to stop the masked man from grabbing the boy named Jugo and the girl named Karin, allowing "Tobi" to leave with Suigetsu and Sasuke.
Though if Sasuke’s enraged yells that said— “Let me go! He doesn’t deserve the Sharingan! I will see an end to this!” —to the masked man worthed to anything, Kakashi may get the chance to put an end to that stuck-up brat once and for all.
For now though, everyone agreed that they leave for the Land of Earth on the Village Hidden by Rocks— where Kakashi theorised should be Neji’s next goal, if his hypothesis about Neji going around to steal strong Jutsus and Kekkei Genkai was right.
Kakashi just wanted to ask Neji- “Why?”
Or so he planned.
He found something of more importance to care about that any longer.
They hadn't heard the news due to being on the run, but after leaving the cave once they asked some people if they saw a man with long silver hair, things changed. They didn't, apparently, but the people themselves looked shocked once they looked at their Konoha Headbands. Upon further conversion, the Ninjas learned the horrible truth.
Konoha was, apparently, erased from the map of the world. Literally carved out of the ground.
Some said the Hidden Rain Village had faced the same fate, but these Ninjas could care less about that. They all made their way back to Konoha in a rush, going at full speed which allowed them to reach the village in just a few hours— but in truth, they were too late.
Konoha really was… no more.
A circular dessert that, if not for the village gate and the Hokage faces on the mountain, would never strike anyone as the Village Hidden in the Leaves.
Everyone was broken at the sight— especially Asuma who knew his wife was pregnant with his child, yet wasn't sure if any of the both had survived this assault or not.
Kakashi regained his cool before anyone else and realised something was still intact in the village- no, they weren't intact, they were rather made after the assault ended. A shelter where a few wooden houses existed. It didn't look like a handmade house though, having known Tenzo for a long time Kakashi knew those houses were made with wood style. To his knowledge, only one living person could use ‹Woodstyle›.
"Neji…" Kakashi muttered as everyone turned to him. "Neji came back here, perhaps hearing about the destruction just like we did. Given the existence of multiple houses, we can assume some citizens survived as well. But they're not here now, so perhaps they are on the move with Neji?"
"...What about the Rain village then?" Asuma asked, his voice soft and weak.
"The Rain…" it was Shikamaru who spoke. "Wasn't the leader of Akatsuki in the Rain? That's who killed Lord Jiraiya. Perhaps… that guy came to Konoha and left it like this? Then…"
"-Neji went to Rain to give them the same treatment." Kakashi finished Shikamaru's musing. "That seems plausible, but still just theories. Let's not waste any more time, we should move towards the Land of Earth. If Neji really is heading there, we may end up too late given his flight speed."
Every one, though shaken, nodded quickly and followed his lead at running.
Hinata Hyuga in particular, though, looked lost as she ran like a mindless puppet. If losing her crush wasn't enough, losing her entire family and clan may be a bit too much for her…
At least she seemed to be hoping one of the few people who survived and took the shelter was her family.
She could hope.
— - —
If it was not for the fact that he now had the Mangekyo Sharingan, Sasuke Uchiha would never have believed what he was seeing.
Naruto Uzumaki, the long-time annoyance in his life that a deeply buried part of him still considered a friend, was looking down at him with his red eyes, within which three black tomoes glimmered.
How the hell did Naruto get the Sharingan?
No, why was he wearing the Akatsuki uniform?
From the bed he was lying down on, injured, Sasuke glared at Tobi who stood beside Naruto. "What sort of Genjutsu is this?"
"It's not a Genjutsu, Sasuke." The Sharingan-wielding Naruto spoke, in a voice that Sasuke was very familiar with, but in a tone that sounded so foreign. "It really is me, Naruto. Doesn't matter if you don't me believe it."
That only made Sasuke's belief firmer that this wasn't Naruto. He would never say not to believe in him. Sasuke just shook his head and ignored the boy. He was probably a clone, a lookalike even— if not a Genjutsu.
"Enough of that," Sasuke looked at 'Madara'. "I did as you said, I brought the Eight-Tails— now bring Itachi here, let me fight him!"
"Well, technically I brought the Eight-Tails along with you, but yeah sure." The man spoke in his fake, high-pitched voice. "I guess it's about time."
Sasuke frowned. Wasn't that too easy? He was very much expecting excuses from the man.
In either case, Sasuke grunted and was about to stand up, but Tobi got flustered. "Whoa, whoa, calm down, you still have broken ribs— Raikage did you dirty."
With Orochimaru absorbed within him, thus empowering his curse mark, he had a higher regenerative factor, but he still had a few broken ribs.
"You wanna go fight your brother in this state?"
"Then what do you suggest?" Sasuke scoffed. "We don't have Karin here, she was captured, and is probably getting her mind raped in Konoha by now. I am not sad for her, but she could at least heal me if she was here."
"Well, we have someone better," Tobi shrugged as he looked at the Naruto copycat. "Naruto, if you will."
The fake walked over to Sasuke, and he barely managed to hold back from lighting him up in Amaterasu. That seemed to be a good choice because, when the fake touched his shoulders, extreme yang energy erupted from the touch and spread to his body, healing all his bodily injuries, and even the strain he felt on his Mangekyo until now.
"Yay! You are ready to go, now!" Tobi cheered. "Don't tell Itachi that you've been working for the Akatsuki though, he may run off just to find and kill me~"
That made Sasuke's confusion vanish, and made him narrow his eyes in shock. Was it a joke? Or could Itachi really do that…?
If so, he needed to be extremely careful in their fight.
But at least, finally, he could put an end to the man who he once called his brother.
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