Thunder of Darkness, Sister-Pupils at Arms is part of the Shards project and follows its guidelines accordingly.

This article, Thunder of Darkness, Sister-Pupils at Arms, is the property of Doom149

The Briefing

Akemi and Kimi are sitting beside each other, facing none other than the famed Beauty of the Leaf, Sayuri Uchiha, who had recently taken them in as her pupils in the quest for greater power. The two younger kunoichi were expecting a briefing on the day's training session after breakfast like always, but little did they know today's training would be a more hands-on approach.

"What will we be doing today, Sayuri-sensei?" Akemi asked.

"Ah, yes, about that. Today you'll be leaving the hideout, and go about doing some field work." Sayuri said plainly.

"Field work? So like a mission?" Now Kimi's turn to ask.

"I suppose you could put it that way, yes." Sayuri answered.

"What will this operation entail then?" Kimi asked once more.

Sayuri then started to explain, "Recently, a group of bandits who banded together have been outright burning down the surrounding minor villages, most located in the countryside. I'm honestly surprised the Shinobi Union still hasn't done anything about this."

"So... you want us to go do vigilante work? That's new." Kimi remarked.

"Not exactly." Sayuri replied, her expression neutral, "They're quickly coming closer to the hideout judging from the pattern of their raids. If they learn of the hideout's location, they could become a major threat to our operations if the Shinobi Union manages to capture one of them alive and extort information from them. Hence, I'd like you to remove them from the map for me." Sayuri smirks, "Besides, it's a good way to test how far your training's come."

"What does 'remove' entail in this case?" Though Akemi tried to hide it, she seemed apprehensive of Sayuri's choice of words.

"Obviously, I'd prefer it if you just killed them." Sayuri said the works as if she was asking some trivial chore of the two girls. "As long as they are alive we risk them attracting attention to our location. This isn't a problem, is it?" Sayuri's eyes shifted to meet Akemi's.

"No Sayuri-sensei, it's not."

"Excellent then. I expect to see the two of you back here before dinner, I've got some nice chicken breasts that I am just so excited to try." As she spoke Sayuri quickly rose up onto her toes and lowered herself again, causing her own breast to nearly shake loose of the black kimono she was wearing. "Just try not to make too much of a ruckus, the purpose of this assignment is to help keep a low profile."

"As you wish, Sayuri-sensei." Akemi said, averting her eyes away from Sayuri's cleavage.

"Wouldn't it be more advantageous if we were to strike them at night?" Kimi asked.

"Now, that would be too easy, wouldn't it? And sometimes, you just don't have time to wait for nightfall to strike down an enemy. True shinobi should be very resourceful, and surprise attacks are possible even during daytime, which is when they least expect being surprised." Sayuri quickly winked her eye at her last words, then proceeding to reach into her clothing to produce a scroll, which she handed to the two kunoichi, "Here's a map with the coordinates of their most recent encampment. Their numbers range from around 15 to 20-ish men. Piece of cake, yes?"

"Hai, Sayuri-sensei!" The kunoichi said in unison, before Kimi taking the scroll from Sayuri's hand and opening it to examine the contents.

Akemi leaned over to get a better view of the map. It appeared that the encampment that they were supposed to assault was perched atop a plateau only about twelve kilometers away from the hideout, indicated by a red "X" that Sayuri had drawn on the map. From what Akemi could tell, the bandits had picked an excellent spot to set up. The plateau provided full view of the area and forced any would-be attackers to give up the high ground. In addition, the nearby ravine made an attack from the East drastically more difficult. The abundance of natural defenses would surely make the task of removing the bandits notably harder, but still neither Akemi nor Kimi showed any hint of concern.

"Well, what are you waiting for? Get going!" Sayuri ordered after the younger girls took a moment to analyze the map.

"Y-Yes!" Both replied, soon after hurrying out of the hideout in a ninja dash.

The Operation

Hidden away in a treetop, Kimi spied on the makeshift, temporary settlement established by the bandit group through a small pair of binoculars, her Sharingan active to better aid her in the collection of intelligence about their targets.

"Hm..." Kimi hummed once, slightly intrigued, likely to arouse curiosity in her partner.

"Was our intel on the situation correct?" Akemi asked, biting on Kimi's attempt to lure her into conversation. "Roughly twenty hostiles present?"

Kimi kept her eyes on the binoculars, "More or less, I'd say about between 20 and 30 men, but there's something about their chakra that just appears strange, I'd even dare say unnerving..." Kimi said, her usual cool monotone voice more analytical this time.

"'Strange' is too vague of a term. It would be better if you tried to articulate what you mean with a little more detail."

This time, Kimi turns to face Akemi, "Nomadic countryside bandits like these usually don't get enough education to properly make use of chakra, yet the walls they've built around their encampment were clearly made with a relatively adept-level ninjutsu. No way they would be able to build it all by hand in such a short time and only for temporary use, despite their numbers. What's more strange, is that their chakra appears somewhat disrupted, as if under some sort of genjutsu, but... not quite like a genjutsu. I can't explain it, it just appears... strange."

"Perhaps they've found some artificial means of augmenting their abilities, as unusual as that would be. Regardless, whether or not there is something unnatural about the targets doesn't change the orders we were given by Sayuri-sensei. They all must be eliminated." As Akemi spoke several black crows landed on the tree branch next to her. The five birds stood perfectly still, not even bothering to look at their summoner before disappearing in successive puffs of white smoke. "It doesn't appear that there is anyone else in the area surrounding their camp. Interesting that they didn't bother to patrol the area."

"If they're augmenting their abilities through unnatural means, then we should be on our toes. We should silently take out as many of them as possible before any can notice they're being attacked." Kimi said while storing away the binoculars, then looking back to Akemi again, "That being said, got any ideas for a plan?"

Akemi pondered for a moment, her eyes drifting towards the sky. "Our best option would be to try and lure all the targets into one centralized location and taking them all out at once. If we are smart about it we may be able to eliminate a majority of the targets with a single attack. In addition, they may have an excellent line of sight from their camp, but we still have several options for slipping in. I believe the more intelligent move would be to utilize my Earth Release and infiltrate the encampment from underground. The only real issue would be the targets located in the four crude guard towers they have in place along the wall. It is unlikely we will be able to corral them in with the rest of the group, so we will have to come up with another way to eliminate them, otherwise we risk allowing them to launch a counterattack from their advantageous perches."

"There are two pairs patrolling the walls just outside, and one pair for each tower. That makes twelve bandits outside the encampment proper." Kimi said, looking at the encampment with her Sharingan, even without the binoculars, "You should be able to infiltrate and start taking them out from within. I'll take out the ones on watch in the towers and patrolling outside. Once you see the ones on the towers falling, that's your cue. Are we in agreement?" Kimi asked, looking back to Akemi one last time.

"That seems like an adequate plan. Now we just need to ensure the execution is just as satisfactory." Akemi averted her eyes downward, gauging the distance to the ground to be roughly forty-six feet straight down. "I'll only need a maximum of three minutes to get into position. I'll strike at the first sign of confrontation. We should be finished here somewhere between five and seven minutes, depending on the effectiveness of our enemies' counterattack. I..." Akemi trailed off, looking away from Kimi. "Just... you... I hope that... Good luck, Kimi."

Not waiting to see Kimi's reaction to Akemi's attempt at compassion, the kunoichi leaned forward until she fell forward off the high branch. The flames had already begun to appear before her feet left the bark, licking at her feet and fingertips. As Akemi rapidly descended, the flames quickly spread, engulfing her entire body in a matter of moments. Once there was none of Akemi's body left visible in the mass of fire, the flames began to disperse. By the time Akemi would have hit the ground, nothing remained but a wisp of dark smoke.

Kimi merely stared back as the older kunoichi dived down into the floor below, a small smirk spread across her lips, perhaps even unconsciously, "Three minutes, huh? I bet I can take out those twelve bandits in one!" Kimi spoke to herself, not sure if Akemi heard her or not, but not caring either. Kimi focused her crimson stare on the encampment and performed a one-handed ram hand seal before disappearing amidst sudden lightning.

Exceeding her own expectations, Akemi found herself beneath the enemy compound in a mere forty seconds. The soil was surprisingly light, allowing her to rapidly move through the ground utilizing the Earth Release: Hiding Like a Mole Technique. Above her, Akemi could hear the footsteps of her targets through the earth, concentrating hard to try and pinpoint the individual movements to ensure her assault was as pinpoint accurate as it could be. Though Akemi had given herself a full three minutes to prepare, it seemed more likely that Kimi would begin the assault whenever she felt ready to do so. The thought irritated Akemi. If she had been alone she would have simply used her summoning birds to destroy the guard towers. No coordination would be required and the planning would have taken a fraction of what it had. Group work was always such a hassle.

One of the pairs patrolling the walls would be the first to fall. The two men were occasionally chatting with each other as they made their round, until one's face suddenly contorted in deep pain and fell limp into the other's arms, who would become rather worried with his friend's sudden loss of consciousness. However, the last thing he would see would be a kunai stabbing deep into his friend's back, before his own would get viciously perforated by steel claws and darkness claimed his vision.

Kimi had used the Shadow Clone Technique to cut down the work by half, the clone headed for the southern and western towers while Kimi herself took on the eastern and northern towers, claiming the second ground patrol on the way. Kimi and her clone made sure to dispatch the bandits as swiftly and quietly as possible, preventing them from alerting the others inside to the massacre that was about to ensue. If already above ground, Akemi could notice quick bouts of silent lightning striking each tower before leaving behind a fine crimson haze on the air above. Kimi would have killed all the bandits outside and on the towers in around forty seconds following Akemi's infiltration.

Kimi now held the last bandit by his shirt as the man bled from his mouth, "Hmph... pitiful." Kimi spoke in her usual monotone, her crimson gaze fixated on the dying bandit, "Y... you... you bitch!" The bandit gurgled, before his shirt rent from Kimi's hand and he stumbled off the edge of the tower. The young Uchiha still attempted to grab hold of him again, but the man fell off before she could properly reach him, crashing down on top of a tent and very likely drawing the attention of his fellows, "...Shit!" Kimi snarled.

The commotion by the tent was immediately noticed by several nearby bandits, every one of them witnessing their ally crash through the side of one of the tents, pulling out one of the stakes and causing that side of the tent to sag. Upon spotting the kunoichi, her claws still dripping with the blood of her last victim, the guards immediately went for their weapons. They appeared armed with little more than kunai and cheap swords, and as one of the guards called out to the rest of the bandits, more of these weapons began appearing around the camp.

"You hear me!" One of the bandits continued to yell. "There's a girl-" The voice was suddenly cut off, the bandit's eyes going wide as he turned as looked down at a massive diamond spike that had come up through the ground and pierced his heart. The man managed a few silent movements with his mouth before his eyes rolled back and he went limp. Mere moments after, more spikes began shooting up from the earth, each one swiftly impaling the bandits that occupied the center of the camp. As an eerie hush fell over the camp, Akemi emerged from the ground, stepping out of the earth with sand covering her head and shoulders.

"If I counted correctly, my technique has struck about fifteen targets, and I don't believe any missed." Akemi said, trying not to look directly as any of the limp corpses hanging from her diamond spikes. "How many targets did you eliminate?"

Kimi merely stared down at the proverbial graveyard that the bandit encampment had become in an instant, a tinge of disappointment upon her face. Then suddenly, Kimi goggled her eyes as her expression became more aggressive, her Sharingan staring down at Akemi, before she would leap into the air from the tower, launching several shuriken towards the general direction of her sister-pupil and igniting them on fire with fire breath!

Akemi was legitimately caught off guard, her eyes widening as the flaming steel spun her way. Had her sister pupil suddenly decided to resume the confrontation they had had in Sayuri's hideout? Had Akemi somehow offended her? Akemi's hand were instinctively moving towards one another to attempt to form a hand seal, but as the shuriken drew near her hands stopped. With her adrenaline pumping, everything seemed to be moving slower than usual. The flaming shuriken flew past Akemi, but only just. The kunoichi felt a volley of heat as the flames from the shuriken licked at her body, one passing so close the ends of Akemi's hair were singed.

As it turns out, from Kimi's point of view, three of the remaining bandits had suddenly emerged from a black mist that had formed behind Akemi. Kimi managed to spot the mist in time due to the presence of the strange chakra, thus launching a preemptive strike on whatever was about to attack Akemi. The burning shuriken struck the bandits, who were already about to strike the redhead, setting them on fire and sending them on a frenzy all over the camp as they screamed in pain, before finally collapsing.

Kimi landed swiftly on the ground, her expression slightly calmer but still focused, "Don't let your guard down! These guys aren't as ordinary as we thought." Kimi stared down at Akemi, her eyebrows furrowed.

Akemi blinked hard. She hadn't quite been ready for what had just taken place, but there would be time to sort out the details later. Kimi was right, it appeared that the targets were more capable than originally predicted. Akemi removed her kukri from its sheath and turned away from Kimi, turning her back to her ally.

"Um, back and back?" Akemi suggested to Kimi.

Kimi stared at Akemi for a moment, before she herself turned her back towards her partner, "Be on guard. I feel this is not over yet." Kimi said, her Sharingan eyes constantly shifting around to look for possible ambushes.

Suddenly, four more bandits jumped from underground and clapped their hands together while on the air, causing earthen walls to erupt from the ground and advancing very quickly towards the two kunoichi, threatening to crush them.

"Here they come!" Kimi shouted, disappearing in a flash of lightning as the walls crashed against each other and crumbled to rocks. The blue lightning that Kimi had become suddenly flashed in front of one of the bandits, who got the bitter end of Kimi's steel claws and the bitter taste of incoming death as he screamed in agony.

Not wanting to be upstaged by Kimi, Akmei tossed her kukri into the air and formed a quick series of hand seals as the rock walls closed in around her. As it seemed the young kunoichi was to be crushed like an insect by her enemy's technique, Akemi leaped upward and placed her hands on two of the stone walls. Outside the rock formation, several of the bandits were pelted with melon sized stones as their rock walls suddenly broke apart in a volley of flying projectiles. Several of the stones passes just in front of Kimi, tearing the unfortunate bandit away from Kimi's claws and ripping apart the dead man's torso.

Kimi was slightly surprised at the man being abruptly shredded away from her claws, but thought nothing of it. She wasted no time in dispatching the last remaining bandit, moving towards him with incredible speed. The terrified man still managed to block her claws with his knife, but Kimi quickly countered, nimbly jumping over the man and slashing his shoulders with her foot-claws, before flipping in the air and shooting a fireball back at the bandit, incinerating him as she landed swiftly on one knee a few feet behind him.

Akemi snatched her kukri as it descended past her just in time to witness Kimi dispatch the final target. The bandit's screams quickly faded and his dark silhouette collapsed within the flames. As the corpse burned, Akemi stood in her battle stance, expecting another ambush to occur at any moment.

"I believe we may have underestimated the targets." Akemi stated, her eyes carefully scanning the small collection of olive drab tents.

The sound of sand being crushed is heard, as someone approaches both kunoichi. Kimi immediately shifts her eyes towards the source of the sound and remains frozen in caution. A rather large man walks towards them, he's wearing an assortment of animal hides as clothing and wielding a spear, and some scars are visible on his body and face, "So, you think you can just come in here and slaughter all of my subordinates without retribution... from me?" The man spoke in a deep voice, halting his march as he finished his sentence, standing around fifteen feet away from the girls, "I'll rip your heads off and plant them on a pike for your arrogance!!!" he barked angrily, clutching his spear with both hands and steadying himself for battle.

Kimi slowly arose to her feet and turned to face the chieftain, "So you're the chieftain, I assume?" Kimi asked in her usual cool monotone, her crimson eyes focused on the man.

The husky man simply huffed and replied "Congratulations. I shall reward your perception with a swift death upon the end of my spear."

The man quickly twisted the spear around in his hand, the massive spike now pointed downward, and threw the weapon with all his might. The spear soared past Kimi in a blur, Akemi standing directly in the weapon's path. Twisting her body to the side and away from the spear, Akemi managed to catch the shaft of the weapon.

Kimi glanced at the spear slightly surprised as it bypassed her to strike at Akemi, but wasted no time after Akemi caught the spear to quickly rush towards the chieftain, her claws ready to strike. However, the spear in Akemi's hands was suddenly pulled away hard, forcing Akemi to let go off the weapon; the chieftain had apparently used Chakra Threads to quickly return the spear to his hands and block Kimi's attacks, deflecting each blow of the claws with an audible clash of the metal. However, Kimi faintly noted a type of dark chakra emanating from the chieftain's arm when he finally managed to push her away and kicked her back. Kimi rolled on the ground a bit before getting on one knee, somewhat surprised by the chieftain's ability, who awaited the girls' next move with a smug smirk.

Taking Kimi's hint to act, Akemi moved forward, kukri in hand. The chieftain quickly maneuvered his spear in his hand once more in preparation for a throw, but Akemi interrupted his attack with a single swipe of her free hand, sending several diamond shuriken in his direction. Abandoning his throw attempt, the chieftain knocked each of the shuriken out of the air with a single wide swipe of the spear's shaft. Akemi was now upon her target, moving with her near paragon form to deliver an upwards slash. The chieftain narrowly managed to maneuver his weapon to block Akemi's attack, driving the spike at the tip of the spear into the ground to add leverage to his block. Just like when Kimi had lashed out, the two weapons met in a flash of sparks, though Akemi could see the diamond edge of her kukri had bit just slightly into the spear. Now it was only a simple matter of striking while the spear was stuck in the ground. Akemi began stepping to the side of the spear and spinning the kukri in her hand. Now with one quick motion Akemi would lunge to the opposite side and drive the kukri between the chieftain's ribs, likely puncturing a lung in the process, surly bringing about a swift end to the-. Akemi wasn't able to deliver the intended blow, as the chieftain ripped his spear from the earth, kicking up dirt and sand into Akemi's eyes. Her eyes stung and forced themselves closed. When Akemi opened them a fraction of a second later, she could see the shaft of the spear being swung once again. Akemi braced the down turned kukri against her forearm and used it as a makeshift shield to block the incoming attack. The force of the hit surprised her, sending a wave of shock and pain throughout her arm as it pushed her back. Fearing a follow up attack, Akemi quickly hopped several paced back next to Kimi.

Akemi growled as she wiped the dirt from her face, furious that she had fallen for what was in her mind a simple schoolyard trick. She was supposed to be the genetic pinnacle of kunoichi; an unbeatable human weapon. Seeing the chieftain's cocky grin as he spun the spear around in his fingers only made her more angry and the fact that she had just allowed Kimi to see her frustrated made her angrier still.

Kimi kept her Sharingan gaze upon the enemy as Akemi made her attempt at dispatching the chieftain, furrowing her eyebrows upon her discovery; again, the dark chakra emanating from the man as Akemi's strike seemed certain to hit home! The bandit chieftain appeared to be using some strange ninjutsu to momentarily augment his reflexes and reaction times, not very different from what the Sharingan offered.

"...I don't think we'll be able to beat him if we keep attacking individually..." Kimi spoke to Akemi, but keeping her gaze fixated on the chieftain.

"Agreed." Akemi replied as she sheathed her kukri. "Working together seems to be the safest course of action. Should we aim to eliminate the target with precision or overwhelming force? I am compliant with either method."

"He's using some sort of technique that allows him to move faster momentarily to dodge our attacks, we should..." The lightning-charged spear is suddenly hurled at both the kunoichi, who barely avoided it by jumping out of the way in their opposite directions, "You're in the middle of a fight! Did you really think I would just let you strategize to your pleasing?" The chieftain barked, retrieving his spear with chakra threads, still cackling with lightning.

Kimi jumped a few feet away in front of the chieftain, swiftly performing the hand-seals for the Great Fireball Technique, inhaling and consecutively blowing a large fireball at the chieftain; the large man easily side-stepped the rapidly incoming ball of death, the dark chakra once again visible in Kimi's Sharingan. Directly behind the chieftain was Akemi, right in the fireball's path of destruction, but Kimi had noticed her prior to her attack and didn't seem the least worried.

The massive fireball struck Akemi, shrouding her body in intense flames. "How foolish!" The chieftain shouted, preparing to throw his spear one more time in Kimi's direction. However his assumption that Kimi had accidentally incinerated her ally quickly proved to be incorrect. The flames around Akemi began twisting around the girl's body before disappearing in a shower of embers that hung in the air. Her body felt like it was boiling from the inside, the heat from the fire she had just absorbed swelling inside her body. By the time the chieftain realized he had been deceived, Akemi's hands were already in the Tora position.

"Fire Release: Rivet!" Akemi yelled, thrusting her palms outward. A concentrated blast of flame shot from Akemi's hands, roaring towards the chieftain. The large man once again moved impossibly quick, attempting to evade the incoming attack, but this time it wasn't quite enough. The fast moving flames devoured his spear arm, along with most of the right side of his torso. The chieftain let out a blood rattling shriek as his flesh was reduced to charred meat. The spear fell from his grasp, parts of the weapon beginning to glow red hot. The burned man began to stumble, small cries of pain escaping with each breath.

Kimi's stoic expression turned into a slight smirk upon seeing the chieftain get caught by surprise by Akemi's counter-attack. The burly man fell to his knees, his healthy arm pressing against the ground to prevent him from falling completely, "Dammit! DAMMIIIIIIT!!!" The man howled in pain and frustration, "This ends here." Kimi spoke in her usual cool monotone, lifting her right arm and readying her claw for the fatal strike, her crimson eyes set upon the now helpless man with an ice-cold gaze.

Akemi watched Kimi methodically moved towards the now defenseless chieftain, the sunlight reflecting off the steel claws. Her arms still felt warm from the technique she had just used. Fire Release: Rivet wasn't a move she used very often, and rarely used both hands to perform. In this instance, two hands was required to expel the flames she had absorbed from Kimi's attack. The effects were as desired, completely incapacitating the target. Now Kimi was free to finish their adversary off. As Kimi drew near the chieftain turned his head to look at Akemi and Akemi immediately averted her eyes and turned away. She had no desire to see the lights go out in the man's eyes.

Noticing Akemi's lack of reaction, the chieftain planned his escape, "Not stopping me, are you? Then I'll just escape into Yomi!" The chieftain shifted his eyes towards his hand, the dark chakra visible only to Kimi surging once again in the chieftain's hand touching the ground, slowly but steadily increasing the size of a pool of dark mist, the latter clearly visible to Akemi now, "He's doing something again! Stop him!" Kimi shouted, quickly advancing towards the man.

Having been distracted by her thoughts, Akemi wasn't nearly as quick to react to Kimi's warning as she needed to be. Going for her kukri, Akemi turned and began to sprint in order to lunge at the chieftain. However...

As the pool of darkness grew in size, peering through it, the chieftain's expression suddenly went from urgency to a state of complete terrifying shock; an expression of absolute terror...

F̛̼͈̻͈̘͍̠̊̐͜͡͞O̷̥̟̳͔̱̹̣̯̬̩͊̐́͛̋̑̓͒̂͡O̰̥̱̙͇͕͆͑̈̀̏̂͠͡L̴̛̻̟̗̖͍͊̊͂̊̆́͐͛͢͞I̶̧̨͈͇̋̓͊͗̿́͜͠S̨̡̨̳͇̹̪͓̓̂̽̊͢͡H̵̯̩̱͇͖̼̽̊̈̽̌̉͛̒̐͜ Ň̡̳̲̼̝͕͒̍́̅̀͛̉͘͝I̸̻͖̮͔̖̩͋̏̾̌̍̄͞N̰̥̖̙̫̟̆̔͑̂͆͑͗͞͞G̦͚̘̠̱̫̩̒̔̽̆̅Ę̮͉͍̙̫̹̗̀̈́̃̆͘̕͡Ṋ̴̭̩͍̲̘̺͋͒̀̄͢͞͞͡.̴̧̺̳͍̤͔͍̖͉̒̓̃́̆͜.̸̞̬̘͕̭̱͂͆̀̽̆͜.̨̨̭̣̮̘͇̭̬͌̌́̋̋̓̄͘.̨͉͈̤͈͖͐̒̒̃̍̔͟͢ͅ.̶̢̢͎̲̪͇͕̍́̈̊͘͜͡.̴̧̡̛̪͙̹͚̙̫̱̈́̍͌̔̇̏


A booming, otherworldly voice with a feminine tinge to it echoed in the valley, but at the same time it sounded as if whatever hellish being produced it were standing right next to each one of them, this while the vision of bright fuchsia eyes and a nightmarish smile amidst pitch-black darkness quickly flashed across the minds of Kimi and Akemi, halting their advance before the chieftain as a similar petrifying horror easily overcame the mildly battle-hardened kunoichi. Their blood began running cold as ice.

"...W... Wh-what-t..." Kimi managed to croak while visibly shaking in fear, her eyes no longer focused on the man, but rather staring off into the distance in perpetual terror as thick, pitch-dark mist began pouring around them from the pool.

Akemi remained silent but the horror was visible on her face despite the face paint. She stumbled back, her eyes wide in shock, she tripped on a small rock protruding from the earth and fell on her rear. She continued to scoot away and managed to regain her footing. Even after increasing the distance between herself and whatever was happening before her eyes several times over, she still wanted to run, but her pride kicked in and prevented her from submitting to instinct.

D͍͈̬̞̞̣̰̟ͨ̐ͥͭͬ͑̉A̸̴̶͍ͣͫͫͮR͒̾ͤͫ͑ͭͫ҉̸̯͎͢K̰̺̜̬͎͎̙͓̈͌͆ͯ͑̈͘͟͞ͅN͙͚͉͚͛ͭ̆͊́̄͛̊̚E̢̛̜̪̮͕̰͕͂̅̃̇͑̊͝ͅS̶̴͍̭̫̻̳̺͇̉͆̐ͪ̅S̮ͦ̒͐̃.̶͑̆̑̋̔͞҉̦̝̪̜͈͈̟̩̼.̷̛̟̲̣͔̆͊̅.̧ͣ̌ͩͣ̀̽̆̏҉͓̞̻͚ ̓͛ͬ͏̧͚̣͖̬W̲̪͇̳̙͌̉͆̃I̝̘̟̖̤̤̿̇ͫ͊̚͢L̷̯͍͓̳̟̙̽ͮ̈̈ͤ̽͝L̷̖͍̼̘͔͐͂ͭͪͨ̊ͧ͑̋ ͇̺̦͔̅̑̔ͥ̆͋́͞C͚̥͔̼̑͛̍́͂̿͊̀͘͟O̝͇̩̩̟̺̥͕̾́ͪ̿̿ͧ̽͡͞Ṇ̝̬̹̰̰̗͌̇ͨ̌̐Ṣ̴̢̜̻̓͢U͈̱̽ͩ̃͆ͣ̄̉͝M͂̃̑̐ͯͤ̎͛͏̗̟̖͉͇͠Eͤ҉̺̹̪̗̻͍ ̺͙̯̭͓̮̰̆̾ͤ͂̋ͨ̔͜A̴͍͍͙̝̅̾͛ͥ̓̉̽͋͘͡L̦̖̃͋ͣ͋̔ͨ͌͟L̸̡̟͍̻̣̓ͫ̽͞!̊͑͏͉͚͍̘̟


The dark mist around the kunoichi began converging in front of them, and soon started taking form: it slowly grew into a pitch-black humanoid shape, with vaguely feminine features such as a slightly curved body and what appeared to be very long hair; however, a less human-like feature seemed to be horns, growing from what was supposed to be the head. It grew until it towered over Kimi and Akemi, ominous, disembodied whispers resounding all around them as the figure blocked the sunlight and everything turned unnaturally dark, the air itself becoming noticeably heavier and hard to breathe. Once the darkness settled in, the figure opened its eyes, three in total counting with the vertical eye on the forehead, all glowing a bright fuchsia light, and then a disturbing, malefic grin revealing long and sharp fangs.

Kimi wanted to believe it was merely a genjutsu, but not even her own gifted eyes could quite comprehend or grasp just what exactly was going on, however, one thing was for certain. The terror was real. The entity's eyes pierced her soul like some twisted and wicked dōjutsu she had never heard of. The feeling wasn't entirely different from what she had experienced in Itachi's Tsukuyomi, but even that seemed like a preferable fate to what was happening right now.

A pitch-dark arm formed from the figure's shape, and its clawed hand slowly began to reach for Kimi, who was nearest.

C̷̘̬̤̙̟̭̦̼̗ͮ͒̈̔̓͂H̗̙̩̭̣ͨ͋̇ͯͯ̅͘I̶̢͍̖͆͗̅́L̡̽̋͗̋ͥ͏͎͜Dͧ͂̑͋͏̣̜̜̻̼ ͖͇̳̤̟̝͌ͭͥͨ̎̈́͝O̱̣͚̜̹ͣ͆̑ͯͬ͊ͧ̕F̟̙͎̞̒͋ͧͫ̍́ ̬̯ͨͪK̬̼͕̘̜̝̰̄̊ͦͫ͒̕A̱̤̻̭̜̗̬̻̿͛̂̒͜G͆ͫ͏̦̫U͚̮͙͕͉̮̲͗ͩ̔̎̄̚͟͢͡Ȳ̧͍̦̪̪̰͎̥̖̰̌͛̒̑Ǎ̶̝̭̱̙̟͉̥̟̦͆ͧ̋́̚.̼̻̲̝͖ͩͭ.̭̣̤̀̎ͫ̀̓͞.̠̞̩̞͆̓̈̌ D̤̩͚͉̬̞̗̈͋̋ͨ̋̓́A͚͆ͣ̊͑͌ͦR̶̘̺̹̳͇͔͍̿ͭ́͝ͅK̴̟͎̥͓̲͋̏̏͠͡N̴̯͉̩͆̒́ͦͦ̈͗ͤE̩̞̯̺̝͎ͧͤͭ̽͆Ş̨̖̬͙ͣ́̌̕Ṡ̴̲͈̄ͤ͒ ̶̶̮̖̮̥̦͉̫͎̬ͪ͞H̷̺̳̠̰͈͐̿̅A̐̍͊ͦ͢҉̖̮̖̙͕̻̹̮S̍ͦ͏̺̬͓͚̩̜͕ ̮̳̮͈̖̲̩ͣ̿̕͟Â̬̫̓̀̉͐̍͂L̷͔̠̖̗̇͛̂̔͌̅R̴̘̦̮̀̋̉̈̿͐͊̌̕Ẻ̶̡̥̱͉̙̘͓ͪͧͩ̓̍͛̆A̟̝͍̲̺̦͚̩͆̾͒̽͛̒ͫ͝D̩̭͉̤͍̭͔̫̄̑̊̊͂̕Y͓̹̟̦ͨ̓ͪ͛̓͂ͪ͠ ̸̨̘̺ͫ̒ͮ͌Ţ̡͎͚̠̜̿̾͛̍͋͋͊ͮƠ̻͔̩̺̙͔͙̽̀͆̕͠U̵͙͖̟̞̭̦͙͒͛ͦ̆̓́C̶̘͙̝͔̊͝H̤͔̥̳̻̆͛ͧ̄ͤ͐͝E̛͚͔͎͍̭ͤͯ́D̪̻͙͇̭̍͒̓̀ ̶͔͚̟̳̹̲͈̟͇̌ͩͯẎ̴̷̼̦̤͑͛̀͛ͥ͋̂̚͟O̷̫̖͑͋͑̋̾̅̋͡Ŭ̵͚̝͇͚̝͓͉̂͂ͥ̾͒͆́ͬ͝!̷̨̘̖̹̦̄̃͐̀ͥ̒ H͖̣̠̱̰͙͔̼̉̋̐̏͠A͉̼͚̗ͬͪ̊̊͆́̚H͇̼̪̯ͥ́͌ͬͤ͜ͅAͬ̋ͧͭ҉͏͕͎͈̥̻̘Ḩ͈͖̜̪͓̂͊̕A̧̛̖͕̬̮̤̯͙̻ͥ͋͝ͅH̨̺͚̖̝͗͆̑̈́͌̎́́A̧̛̳͙̮̻̦̳̲͍ͤ̃̊̃ͯͤ̚͠H̷̳͕̮̰͖̰̞͙͌̆͂ͩ̔̏̋̏A̸̝̯̯̪ͫ̈̌̄͜H̸̤̝̠͎̝͕͐̂̈́́̕!̡̫̠͇̫̘̱ͥ͊͂̂͂!̛̰̞̹̱̤͗͒ͬͥ̎͐͑̈!̪̦̮̠ͮ̔̊ͧ̽͘͡'

The voiced boomed once more with a devilish laugh at the end. Kimi stared wide-eyed in horror at the appendage coming her way, "NO! Stop it! Stay away!!!" She mustered the courage to swat aside the hand with her own steel claws, shredding it into black mist again. She then took a few steps back, but was still evidently horrified and slowly panting due to the ever heavier atmosphere.

Hearing Kimi's screams snapped Akemi out of her horrified trance. There was no doubt that whatever was happening was well beyond her understanding, but that didn't mean she could allow herself to be immobilized by fear. As she had thought to herself many times before, if she was going to die today, death would not take her easily. Thrusting both her hands forward, Akemi launched her diamond spikes into the upper section of the sinister apparition. The attack harmlessly passed through the target and passed over Kimi's head.

"Kimi!" Akemi shouted, hoping her fear wasn't evident in her voice. "Get away from it!"

Akemi's crystals pierced the darkness incarnate, leaving misty holes behind, but the entity didn't seem the least bothered.

F̛̼͈̻͈̘͍̠̊̐͜͡͞O̷̥̟̳͔̱̹̣̯̬̩͊̐́͛̋̑̓͒̂͡O̰̥̱̙͇͕͆͑̈̀̏̂͠͡L̴̛̻̟̗̖͍͊̊͂̊̆́͐͛͢͞I̶̧̨͈͇̋̓͊͗̿́͜͠S̨̡̨̳͇̹̪͓̓̂̽̊͢͡H̵̯̩̱͇͖̼̽̊̈̽̌̉͛̒̐͜ Ň̡̳̲̼̝͕͒̍́̅̀͛̉͘͝I̸̻͖̮͔̖̩͋̏̾̌̍̄͞N̰̥̖̙̫̟̆̔͑̂͆͑͗͞͞G̦͚̘̠̱̫̩̒̔̽̆̅Ę̮͉͍̙̫̹̗̀̈́̃̆͘̕͡Ṋ̴̭̩͍̲̘̺͋͒̀̄͢͞͞͡!̡̫̠͇̫̘̱ͥ͊͂̂͂.̴̧̺̳͍̤͔͍̖͉̒̓̃́̆͜'


Y͊̍̓ͫ̽͗̀͌͝͏̻̼Ỡ̶̟̰̗̬̳̮̬̾̓̂ͮ̆̓͜U̬̲̹͕͗̀ͩ͛̆̉̐̇.̢̧̗̠̤͎͉̬̊͐̆͂̌.̌ͣ̔ͨ̈́͆ͪ͏̧͈̤̤̖̟̣̼.͙ͮͨ̎ͮ̄͢͟ ̸̉ͣ͝͏͔W̦̱͕̜̾͐̎̀́͢I̝̲̣̙̰̜̰̩̰ͩ̈̍̀L̸̙̘̻̫̞͕̳̣ͫ̽̽͑́̀̚͟L̳̣̖̭̘̯͙̳͐̏̉́ͮ̇͠͡.̷̵̴̱̰̺ͥ.̨̳̜͖͓͙͕̫͕̚ͅ.͓̮̻͙͍̥ͪ̎̿ ̉̀̃̿͏̷̘̭͕͉̥D̻̬̣̭ͬ̑̉͛̆̍ͦ̀͠Í͉͈̙ͣͩ͒ͯͅE̦̬̩ͪͮ̀̚̚͜!̶̸̭͇̱̟̜̮̈ͥ̿͆͐̅̂̌'



The entity spoke yet again, ending with another hellish laugh that continued as all the dark mist constituting the being and floating around the area started being vacuumed back into the pool, which in turn the pitch-black matter snaked around the fear-petrified chieftain and began forming an even larger pool a few feet behind him. The unnatural twilight returned to the normal sunlight natural at that time of the day, and the air started feeling less heavy, but the sense of dread still lingered on...

From the giant pool of darkness, an orange-colored, clawed humanoid arm erupted, smashing at the ground with tremendous force shortly after as whatever it belonged to seemed to be crawling out of the pool, the action confirmed as a second arm did just about the same, and a large creature started rising from the darkness, ferociously snarling. Once it was completely out, the creature measured at around twenty feet tall, its robust and muscular body covered in light orange fur and a long, silky mane of a darker shade of orange with a matching tail; two short tusks emerged from its fanged mouth, fierce and savage white eyes staring with murderous intent; for clothing, it seemed to only wear an elaborately patterned, tribal-like loincloth and shorts; there also seemed to be a dark tattoo on its left arm, faintly resembling kanji upon close inspection, but too distorted to be read properly at least for now.

The bandit chieftain hesitantly looked back, still horror-stricken and not one less bit at ease. Instead, his face only getting paler as the monster abruptly snatched him from the ground and glared him in the eyes, drooling, "YOU! HAVE FAILED ME!" The monster spoke in a deep and savage tone, "N-n-n-n-o-no no no! P-p-p-lease! F-for-give me!!!" The bandit chieftain whimpered, and the giant curled his lips even further, revealing more of its mad grin as he clenches hard on the chieftain, gray and dark mist-like chakra then being expelled from the man as his blood-curdling scream echoes in the encampment. The beast opens its maws to absorb the chakra into itself. All the while, Kimi stared agape, still somehow horrified by whatever was happening.

Akemi wasn't faring much better, the moment of courage having passed at the sight of the hellish monster that she had been presented with. The creature radiated menace and evil, appearing before her like something from another dimension. How could such a beast exist?

Whatever remained of the chieftain after the demon had finished was an emaciated corpse devoid of color and life. The beast raised the corpse and crushed it into dust with a single hand movement, meanwhile already eyeing both kunoichi with a bloodthirsty snarl. As Kimi and Akemi reluctantly anticipated a confrontation with the terrifying beast, it roared loudly in their direction, wind blowing fiercely through both kunoichi, "I! KUROSHIN! DEVOUR YOU IN NAME OF DESTROYER KALI!" It boomed shortly after.

Akemi wanted to protest the monster's desire, but the lump in her throat blocked her words. Instead, she began slowly walking back, keeping an eye on the beast as she moved. Finally she managed to get a word out, but rather than the retort she had wanted she simply found herself screaming "Run!"

Kimi wasn't one to run from a fight, no matter who the enemy is, coupled with the paralyzing horror she had just witnessed, Kimi merely stood there, staring with the same terrified expression as Kuroshin advanced towards them with heavy steps and an almost deranged expression upon his visage, saliva occasionally dripping from his mouth.

Akemi looked back, seeing Kimi remaining stationary. A serious of panicked thoughts rushed through Akemi's mind as she considered abandoning her sister pupil, wondering what she would tell Sayuri sensei, considered saving Kimi, wondering how she could possible battle a creature far beyond her understanding, cursed herself for being afraid and repeated this series of thoughts several times in a few moments. She saw the creature raising its fist high in the air, preparing to crush Kimi in a swift attack. Finally, Akemi spun on her heels and slammed her hands together.

"Don't you dare touch her!" Akemi shouted, fear mixing with anger. Akemi slammed her hands upon the ground and following the sound of splitting earth a semicircle of diamond formed around Kimi. As the barrier surrounded Kimi, the hellish creature's fist audibly slammed against the crystal, sending small bits of diamond flying with the impact, but the dome seemed to be holding on firmly. It turned to look at her, its drooling visage sending another wave of chills down Akemi's spine.

As the sunlight dimmed due to the dome, Kimi could still hear the monster's heavy footsteps walking towards Akemi, slightly shaking the ground with each step. She followed it with her terrified face, falling on her backside as the creature stopped. She stared at the ground for a while, an expression of horror still evident on her visage, her mind racing with thoughts about what she just witnessed. If it weren't for her resolve to never back down from a challenge, she would've surely fled, whether Akemi were in danger or not, "What... what is that thing? Just what... am I doing?" Kimi thought, unable to think clearly, but Akemi's words rang in her head, "...Why?".

Meanwhile, Kuroshin abruptly began breathing a stream of fire towards Akemi, taking an weighted step at the same time to destabilize her balance, which cracked the floor underneath.

Akemi's knees shook from the tremor in the earth caused by the beast's stomp, but it mattered little. Fire was good, fire was something that Akemi could deal with. Thanks to the Kasai DNA embedded in her cells, granting her the ability dubbed "backfire," flames had never been an issue for her. Despite the terrifying presence of the creature, if all it had to offer was a fire based attack, Akemi was beginning to think that perhaps this was perhaps something she could actually handle. The flames twisted around Akemi's body, completely shrouding her in fire. Like so many times before, Akemi took a deep breath and the flames began sinking into every pore on her body. In a matter of seconds the fire would be absorbed into Akemi's chakra network, where Akemi could use the stored energy for an attack of her own.

"Futile." Akemi shouted at the creature, her voice suddenly showing confidence. "That won't work on me, no matter how-" Something felt wrong. Normally after absorbing a fire based attack her body grew warm, but Akemi could feel her body breaking out in a cold sweat. She couldn't breath, like something was constricting her airways. Before Akemi could even guess at what was happening, she found herself falling to one knee. With an involuntary scream, Akemi expelled the chakra she had just absorbed, sending a mix of orange and black flames spiraling around her. Akemi strained to look up and saw that the creature was continuing a methodical approach. "Damn." she muttered.

Upon hearing Akemi scream, Kimi snapped, her eyes turning into her Mangekyō Sharingan. Kuroshin made a sadistic grin as Akemi expelled the flames she had just absorbed, and then backhanded the redhead kunoichi, sending her flying against the encampment's wall. Akemi fell back to the ground, managing to slowly and painfully rise to her knees, only to the see the evil beast reaching for one of her diamond spikes, yanking it from the ground, and throw it at her spike first, intending to nail her to the wall with her own kekkei genkai. Akemi clenched her eyes tightly and grit her teeth, awaiting her ironic death.

But, it never came.

After a little while, Akemi slowly opened her eyes, and looked up to see Kimi holding the diamond spike with one of her Susano'o arms. She glanced at the dome she had made for Kimi, which lay shattered, but she had never noticed her breaking out.

"Kimi." Akemi found herself uttering. Akemi felt like she should thank her sister pupil for the quick save, but wasn't sure if it was appropriate to do so in the middle of a battle.

Kimi threw the spike back at Kuroshin, confused as to how the Uchiha appeared out of nowhere to deny him of his kill. He quickly backhanded the piece of crystal, snarling angrily, "D-Don't just stand there! We have to find a way to get rid of this thing!" Kimi barked, looking back at Akemi over her right shoulder, a single line of blood ran down her cheek from her Mangekyō eye, while a considerable amount dripped from two deep cuts on her right forearm; Akemi would notice the claws on Kimi's left arm were extended and stained with fresh blood.

Kuroshin would let out another earth-shaking bestial roar in a somewhat flexing pose, getting Kimi's attention again, "Akemi, move!! Now!!!" Kimi yelled, a tinge of panic audible in her voice.

Following the command of her ally, Akemi leaped to the side, her powerful legs propelling her an impressive distance.

Kuroshin slammed its arms on the ground, causing another tremor. He twitched and drooled for a moment, before rapidly jumping high in the air and comet-dive towards the kunoichi with a fist outstretched. Both Kimi and Akemi managed to dodge the attack, which hit the wall behind them and caused it to crumble instantly and once again shaking the whole area. Kimi's Susano'o arm vanished as she dodged, rolling on the ground and back to her feet to face Kuroshin; she performed the tiger seal with one hand and unleashed a wave of fire upon the creature as it turned around, who in turn let out a chilling roar as the flames consumed him in a failed attempt to block Kimi's attack.

Akemi immediately recognized that her and Kimi were beginning to build some offense, and that is was up to her to keep it going. Moving up so that she was parallel with Kimi, Akemi mimicked her allies tiger seal and unleashed another stream of intense flames from her own mouth. The two blasts of fire merged part way to the shared target, creating and inferno so intense that Akemi could feel the heat washing over her own face. Several of the tents that had somehow been spared from Kuroshin's lunging attack were now being slowly consumed by flames. Akemi wasn't even sure if the dual attack was even stopping the beast, but she didn't dare stop until the monstrosity was reduced to ash.

Kuroshin screeched in pain, then lightning began cackling around the fiery silhouette that the creature had become, the mark on his left arm glowing brightly with the energy, eventually lashing out at both kunoichi as hostile bolts! Kimi and Akemi goggled their eyes as they saw the lightning coming but weren't given enough time to dodge, "KYAAAAAAHHH!" Both girls screamed as the lightning bolts hit them, knocking them down a few feet away. Kuroshin fell to one knee, his skin clearly damaged from the torrent of fire the girls and launched upon him; however, as his skin cooled down, it also appeared to be regenerating. Kimi and Akemi managed to stumble back to their feet, still in pain from the counter-attack,

"Grh... he's regenerating?! Give me a break..." Kimi complained.

Meanwhile, Kuroshin also returned to standing on his hind-leg feet, and looking quite pissed off. He suddenly crouched and punched into the ground, but instead of making a small crater, he created another pool of black mist almost instantly, and after a couple seconds, he began to pull out a rather gigantic sword, but seemingly adequate for the creature's enormous size anyway; it had a rough and crude appearance, almost weathered aspect to it, with only a long, red strip tied around the top of the handle breaking the dull grey color of the material that composed most of the weapon. Kuroshin stabbed it on the ground beside him while crouched, and roared once more at the kunoichi, the black mist pool disappearing in the meantime.

Akemi glanced over to Kimi, who looked every bit as worried as she was. What exactly had they just gotten themselves into? The monster's regeneration capabilities made the situation several times worse than it already was and Akemi couldn't help but wonder if it was even possible to kill it. If that was the case then her and Kimi were simply wearing themselves out, gradually turning into easy prey. Still, Akemi somehow didn't think escaping the creature was really an option at this point either. Akemi guessed their best chances of survival relied in their ability to immobilize their opponent.

"I can try Earth Release." Akemi said to Kimi. "It may slow it down if nothing else."

"Unless you can grow a mountain around him, I don't think anything else is going to stop him..."

Kuroshin raises his sword to the air as high as possible, roaring as lightning struck the sword from the now somewhat cloudy sky, electrifying the blade, "And if we're hit by that sword, it's pretty much over..." Without warning, Kuroshin brought his sword crashing on the two kunoichi, " DODGE IT!!!" Kimi shouted as they manage to roll away from the sword, which hit the ground and cracked it. However, Kuroshin didn't waste time and quickly swung the blade horizontally towards Kimi at an alarming speed!

Kimi would likely have been done for if it weren't for her Sharingan, which allowed her to anticipate Kuroshin's move in time and jump over the blade, but she wasn't out of the woods yet; her foot still scraped against the fast-moving blade, causing her to fall to the ground sideways and become vulnerable. Kuroshin lifted the sword over his head, ready to finish Kimi off.

Instinctively, Akemi slammed her hands down on the ground and as the beast raised its weapon the earth beneath its legs began turning inwards. The rocky soil quickly consumed Kuroshin's hideous feet and began bringing down his shins next. The movement threw the monster momentarily off balance, resulting in a hesitated and clumsy downward strike with its weapon.

As Kuroshin's destabilized attack came down, Kimi easily rolled away from the sword, using the impact to quickly get back on her feet. She wasted no time and sprinted up Kuroshin's extended left arm as he struggled to pull his feet off the ground. Kimi jumped into the air, ready to strike at the behemoth; in turn, Kuroshin snarled at her and raised his free right hand into a fist, about to send Kimi flying off, but Kimi had obviously foreseen this. In a flash of lightning, Kimi struck faster than the eye could see, leaving only an ephemeral trail of said lightning, and a splatter of blood in the air. Kimi slid on the ground after her strike, turning her head to look at her handiwork: Kuroshin was now blind from his left eye, at least for a while, but was also absolutely furious!

Kuroshin roared and howled, thrashing around with his sword, causing the floor to crack heavily. However, this gave Kimi an idea: since they were literally standing on a cliff, maybe they could collapse it and send Kuroshin crashing down to his doom, or at least get rid of him for the time being; maybe Akemi's proficiency in Earth Release could help collapse the cliff faster!

"Akemi!", Kimi shouted, but was interrupted shortly after as Kuroshin broke free with a powerful leap and began to furiously slash at Kimi, "Shit...", she began to jump and backflip away from the enraged attacks, which in turn broke anything that was left standing in the encampment and leaving it a complete wreck. Unfortunately, Kimi reached the wall and couldn't get away anymore. Kuroshin slashed once more, deadset in ending Kimi's life in the quickest and most brutal way possible. In an act of desperation, Kimi's fuchsia Susano'o arms appeared once again, clasping the heavy sword between its hands and barely holding on at that; the strain in Kimi's visage was very evident and led to believe she wouldn't hold on for long.

While Kuroshin was occupied with Kimi, Akemi recognized that it was once again her time to strike the monster. Akemi dasher forward as her hands formed several quick hand seals. Mid-stride a large stone pillar shot upwards from beneath Akemi and propelled her upwards. Once she was even with the behemoth's sword wielding arm, Akemi leaped from the pillar, forming several more hand seals as the rolled her body forward. Akemi continued with her momentum as a large diamond construct engulfed her arm, jutting out like a massive sword. The weapon was a blur as Akemi began rolling at an impressive rate. The diamond blade made contact with Kuroshin's massive wrist and cleaved nearly all the way through. As a result of his hand nearly being severed, the remaining flesh easily gave way to the pressure applied by Kimi's Susanoo arms, making it easily for Kimi to tear away the sword and Kuroshin's hand.

The beast let out an agonized roar as blood shot out from his wound. Akemi, who would have otherwise landed directly between Kuroshin and Kimi, allowed the diamond blade around her arm to shatter into a glimmering dust before sinking into the earth as she landed. Underground she would quickly distance herself from the action, allowing Kimi to take advantage of the newly formed opening.

Doing as Akmei predicted, Kimi's Susano'o arms twisted the blade to the right, breaking Kuroshin's hand and tearing it away alongside the sword as it flipped away heavily on the ground. Taking the opportunity while Kuroshin once more roared in pain, Kimi focused on materializing the whole upper part of the skeletal Susano'o, which proceeded to gut punch Kuroshin with the right fist! Kuroshin bends over, saliva splattering on the ground; then, Kimi's Susano'o followed with a powerful left hook to the temple, sending the beast tripping back quite some distance until it fell flat on its behind, bleeding from the mouth.

Kimi fell to one knee, grasping at her eyes and grunting in pain as the Susano'o vanished, "Akemi! Use your Earth Release to collapse this cliff NOW! We can't-", Kimi was cut short by Kuroshin suddenly bending forward and shooting a lightning ball at Kimi; the Uchiha barely had time to goggle her eyes as the ball collided with her body, the kinetic force blowing her away against a wall and falling on the ground motionless.

Akemi rose up from the rock her hands already pressed downward into the ground as she rose. The earth began to quake and the crashes of splitting boulders could be heard growing in volume. Kuroshin was too busy seething over his severed hand (though it appeared to already be growing back) to immediately notice what was going on around him. By the time the monster became aware of Akemi, the rock floor beneath him was already giving under his weight. Without even realizing it, Akemi was releasing a drawn out roar that seemed to grow with the sound of crumbling stone as she exerted more and more chakra. Realizing the immediate danger, Kuroshin attempted to dash forward, but the ground beneath him provided no traction as it began to fall away. Soon on of the remaining wall of the bandit's compound began to crumble, threatening to break of into the ravine. Kuroshin's demonic roars could be heard over the landslide that Akemi had created, quickly fading as the beast disappeared from Akemi's sight down towards the bottom of the canyon.

Akemi tried to stand upright and look down to confirm that the demon had been crushed by the falling rocks, but as she did her legs bucked and she stumbled backward, falling on her rear next to Kimi. Her breathing was heavy, the after effects of the large scale technique evident. Akemi had used the Earth Release: Fissure technique many times before, but never on such a large scale. A section of the cliff stretching roughly seventy meters wide and thirty meters deep had been dropped into the gorge below along with the fiendish monster.

"I think we did it." Akemi whispered to Kimi between labored breaths.

Kimi, however, remained silent and motionless, laying face-down on the ground. Meanwhile, the remainder of the cliff started shaking, collapsing bit by bit because of the walls' weight; soon, the whole encampment would fall below as well, and take Akemi and Kimi with it if they didn't act soon.

"Kimi!" Akemi shouted, trying to stir her ally. There was no reply and Kimi remained motionless. "Kimi!" Still nothing. Without the luxury of time to fall back on, Akemi staggered to her feet, nearly falling over again as she did. Akemi slung on of Kimi's arms over her shoulders and wrapped the other arm around her waist. Akemi began moving forward, away from the collapsing cliff. Akemi had hopped Kimi would stir once she was off her feet and assist with the movement, but the unconscious kunoichi proved to be little more than dead weight as Akemi began dragging her to safety.

The ground was quickly giving way, the effects of Akemi's technique having destabilized much more than she had intended. The sound of crumbling earth felt like an entirely new monster on Akemi's heels. Despite the fact she refused to look back, it was obvious that the receding cliff was catching up to her and Kimi. As much as Akemi commanded her legs to move faster, they continued to move as an agonizingly slow rate as if time had suddenly decided to move at half speed. Without warning the earth beneath Akemi gave and she felt nothing but open space below. In an act of desperation, Akemi drew her Kukri and slammed it down into the earth as she fell. Kimi's weight threatened to force her to release the handle of her weapon, the only thing anchoring her to stable ground. With the last bit of chakra left, Akemi encased her hand in diamond, effectively merging with the kukri. The cliff had broken off at a steep slope, which allowed for Akemi to touch down with her feet and push off as she attempted to pull both Kimi and herself onto the stationary platform. Though it wasn't graceful, Akemi managed to wrestle Kimi's limp body up to safety, followed by her own.

This time, Akemi didn't even attempt to stand. Every part of her body ached and screamed. Rolling onto her back, Akemi turned her head to look at Kimi. Between the strands of snarled black hair, Akemi could see the streak of blood stemming from Kimi's eye. It was unlikely she would wake up feeling much better than Akemi. Both kunoichi hadn't been prepared for such an encounter and exerted extremely high amounts of chakra in a rather short period of time. Neither had any strength left to walk, let alone defend themselves. Despite this, Akemi couldn't help but let a smile slip. Despite everything, they were alive. Both of them were alive because of each other.

"We weren't half bad." Akemi said, hardly louder than a whisper.

Just as Akemi began breathing with relief, the earth began to shake again. A cold chill ran down Akemi's spine as she strained to get up on her elbows, her mind racing to give her body whatever measly amount of strength she had left so she could drag herself and Kimi out of there, as it sounded that the cliff wasn't done crumbling.

But... it wasn't the cliff...

The earth-shaking came in quick intervals, and seemed to be growing ever more intense. Akemi's heart skipped a beat as Kuroshin's regenerated hand emerged from the chasm and planted itself on the ground, his demonic visage emerging shortly after as the demon pulled himself up onto the edge of the cliff. He was drooling with rage and hatred - how could these two weaklings have possibly made such a fool of itself? Akemi laid there petrified, staring in shock and horror as the beast clasped its hands in the snake hand seal and lifted it high in the air, causing lightning to strike its hands and envelop them in the crackling energy. Kuroshin prepared to swing down on the kunoichi, planning to erase them from existence, the light of the lightning reflecting down on the frozen Akemi and the unconscious Kimi as they awaited their end.

Then... all of a sudden... a ripple opened in the air, a few feet above Akemi and Kimi. Kuroshin raised its mad gaze towards the phenomena with some surprise, curiosity, and irritation, but couldn't predict what was about to happen: out of the ripple jumped Sayuri at a high speed, left fist completely pulled back, crimson Sharingan faintly glowing in her eyes, and a deadpan serious expression on her face. Kuroshin didn't react at all, because as soon as the older Uchiha came in close proximity to his head, she let go off her arm like a sling, her chakra-enveloped fist almost burying completely in Kuroshin's dumbstruck face and causing a shockwave to resonate around the area; in a moment, Kuroshin blasted off the edge of the cliff head first far away into the chasm, the last thing heard from him being his body heavily crashing on the ground at a distance.

Sayuri lands on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the general area where Kuroshin landed. She doesn't say anything while she has her back turned to the battle-weakened kunoichi.

Akemi was mouthing "Sayuri-sensei" over and over again, trying to express the overwhelming sense of surprise and gratitude that had overtaken her, but she had trouble pushing to words from her throat. Finally, after several attempts, Akemi managed to make herself audible.


"...It's not over yet.", Sayuri spoke in a serious tone, still staring into the chasm. A small, soft-leather bag falls from her sleeve into her right hand, which she tosses at Akemi, "Here, eat one of these.", Akemi catches the bag and opens it, revealing a few food pills of a dry green color, which she takes one out to examine, "They'll instantly revitalize your body and chakra almost completely. Eat one, then chew another and feed it to Kimi.", she finally turns to look back at Akemi, "...Or do I have to do it for you?", her expression was deadly serious, her Sharingan faintly glowing in the waning sunlight.

"Excuse me?" Akemi asked timidly. She was pretty sure what she had heard was correct but the idea of feeding Kimi like a baby bird from her own mouth was more than a little uncomfortable.

"Now!" Sayuri barked.

Suddenly Akemi found herself getting over her discomfort. She thrust her hand hand into the leather bag and tossed the first food pill in her mouth. Almost instantly Akemi felt her strength returning and all the aching momentarily subsiding. There was no telling what Sayuri had made those pills from, but their effectiveness was beyond anything Akemi had ever experienced. Next Akemi popped a second pill into her mouth and turned to face Kimi. Her ally was still out cold and Akemi was forced to hold her mouth open. Akemi pressed her mouth to Kimi's and in mere moments the mushed food pill was sliding down Kimi's throat.

Soon after, Kimi's face began to slightly squirm in pain as she regained her senses. She slowly opened her eyes and slowly sat up, taking a hand to her head as it stung, but the pain seemed to be going away rather quickly. She looked at Akemi with a strained expression, "A... Akemi..."

"Good," Akemi said. "Sayuri-sensei's food pill worked." Akemi had no intention of informing Kimi of the unorthodox method in which she obtained the pill. If not for the black smear of her face paint masking her skin tone, Kimi would have likely noticed that Akemi was blushing.

"Sa... Sayuri-sensei?", Kimi turned her head towards Sayuri, who stood there looking back at her apprentices with her crimson eyes. Suddenly, the earth shook again. In the distance, a dome of darkness expanded where Kuroshin had landed, a line of the same substance reaching for the sky; the phenomenon was quite similar to a jinchūriki's transition into Tailed-Beast State 2, as Kimi would possibly recognize from her days in Kumo with Yugito-sensei, or even Sayuri and Akemi, if they had seen one before. Out of the dome, a ball of darkness jumped high along the trail very quickly, and seemed to be coming the kunoichi's way!

Sayuri followed this phenomenon with her eyes, "...Time to back off.", she said plainly, then turned and in lightning-fast dash grabbed Kimi and Akemi by their arms and launching them far ahead of her with her superhuman strength. However, the kunoichi's recently recovered strengths allowed them to skillfully spin around in the air and safely land on tree branches. As they turned to look back at Sayuri, who was quickly catching up, she shouted, "GO!!!", the earth ominously shook yet again, and not far behind Sayuri, the ball of darkness began to savagely tear down through the forest, a blood-curdling demonic roar echoing.

Though the rejuvenating pills hadn't completely alleviated the aches and pains both Akemi and Kimi felt in their bodies, the two young women move with impressive speed in the opposite direction of the dark sphere that pursued them. Neither of the kunoichi doubted that what perused them was the same creature, but now having entered some sort of enhanced state. It had survived being cast into the deep ravine twice, with one of the falls being preceded by a blow from Sayuri. The creature was nothing from this world. How could it be? How could something this evil exist?

"What is that thing?! Where did it come from?!", Kimi asked frantically to Sayuri as the trio hopped from tree to tree as fast as they ever could.

"Not now, we need to find clear ground and stop it first."

"It's still gaining ground on us!", Akemi shouted, reluctantly looking back at was chasing them.

"Let's slow it down then. Throw all the paper-bombs you can spare and use Fire Release on them!", Sayuri said, turning back midair to toss a few paper-bomb-attached kunai at the trees and ground, followed by Kimi and Akemi, then all landing on the next branch to execute their jutsu.

"FIRE RELEASE: GREAT FIREBALL JUTSU!!!", the three kunoichi shouted as they performed the hand-seals, then expelling an awing amount of fire from their lips at the paper-bombs before retaking their escape in a heartbeat. The explosion caused consumed the whole area, and would certainly slow down the beast even if for just a moment, the spine-chilling stomping and destruction behind them apparently stopping after the explosion.

Up ahead, a rather large clearing is visible, however, a large shadow was cast over the three kunoichi. The now burning monster apparently jumped forward and was about to crush them in a devastating impact! Sensing this, Sayuri once again grabbed Kimi and Akemi and tossed them as far away as possible into the clearing, before the beast landed on top of her in an unexpected kinetic explosion of fire that devastated another good chunk of the forest.

Kimi and Akemi tumbled on the ground as they landed, eventually raising their heads to look at the sea of fire and destruction that was the forest. Sayuri was nowhere in sight.

"Sayuri-sensei!" Akemi screamed as she and Kimi flew through the air.

It took a significant amount of effort for Akemi to twist her body around so she could land feet first, and act that normally was child's play for her. Kimi did the same and the two kunoichi landed in tandem with one another. The dust kicked up by the monster's crash landing obstructed the scene, making it impossible to tell what had happened. Akemi tried to tell herself that Sayuri was alright, that despite the monster's size Sayuri was too good to be finished by such a primitive attack. Despite her best efforts, Akemi could not turn off the panic in her mind.

"Kimi," Akemi asked, not able to conceal her concern. "Sayuri-sensei, is she alright? Can you see her?"

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