Chapter 254: "Siblings...!!" – Inside a medical greenhouse in Hidden Sand, Sakura completes 3 antidote potions.

Kankurou begins to stir and Kakashi states he can track Sasori using a piece of Sasori's mask. Kankurou reflects on his brother's ideal to follow Naruto's goal to prove himself and be Kage. Chiyo and her brother travel to the puppet storehouse and remove two mysterious scrolls. The group sets to leave Hidden Sand and Chiyo tags along. Temari and Kankurou remain behind to guard the village. In Akatsuki's cave base, a large bound statute is summoned and Akatsuki prepares Gaara for their plans... Chapter 255: "Close By!!" – In the cave, the members state their jutsu will take 3 days and nights to be performed. As it is cast the statute's mouth opens. Nine spectral dragons emerge and slam into Gaara. An essence begins to then leak out of the Kazekage. Team Gai continues their travels to Hidden Sand. They meet Pakkun who says Akatsuki has been tracked to the River Country, where Team Gai now is. From a distance, Akatsuki member Zetsu watched Team Gai. He alerts his fellow members that Maito Gai is among them. One member states he will fight Gai since he has no Jinchuuriki yet, Kisame states he'll take care of it since he still owes Gai from their previous encounter. As Team Gai travels again, Pakkun and Neji are alerted to an incoming presence. Samehada rises from the ground like a shark fin and Kisame emerges to confront the Leaf ninja, but Gai remarks he doesn't remember Kisame. Chapter 256: "Those Blocking Ones Way!!" – Neji remarks that Kisame has a huge amount of chakra. Kisame takes action and summons a large body of water. Lee, TenTen and Neji all launch attacks at Kisame but he is able to avoid taking any damage. Much to Kisame's frustration Gai still states he doesn't remember the missingnin. Team Naruto continues their travels and Chiyo tells the group about the "bijuu," tailed demons which the hidden villages used in ages past for military purposes. In Akatsuki's cave, the extraction process continues on Gaara. Zetsu watches as Team Naruto approaches and alerts his fellow members. Another member decides to interdict them before they reach the cave. As Team Naruto comes to a stop, Uchiha Itachi stands before them... Chapter 257: "The Value of Kakashi's Experience" – Chiyo states it is possible to defeat an Uchiha if you have higher numbers. Kakashi

replies that Itachi is no normal Uchiha. Kakashi remarks that Mangekyou requires a high amount of chakra. He then asks Itachi how bad his eyes have become. Itachi is surprised by Kakashi's remark. Kakashi states he can take Itachi with the help of his teammates. Gai continues to attack Kisame and manages to steal Samehada away from him. Neji, TenTen and Lee all launch an attack but become captured in Mizu Bunshin prisons. As Gai goes to strike Kisame with Samehada, scales emerge from the handle to slice his hand. With the three younger ninja imprisoned, Kisame gloats that now the true battle can begin... Chapter 258: "Gai Vs. Kisame" – As Kisame looks on, Gai withdraws some nunchacku. Kisame then charges... Back at Team Naruto, Kakashi charges at Itachi. As he strikes, an Itachi Bunshin charges at Naruto. The Leaf Genin forms Rasengan with one hand and strikes the clone, causing it to puff away. He is surprised to then notice his whole team knocked out. As he turns, Chiyo rises and changes into another Itachi. Elsewhere, Kisame and Gai continue fighting weapon to weapon. Kisame knocks Gai deep into the water and does his Goshokuzame (Five Sharks Meal) attack, before the water sharks can reach Gai, he opens the Sixth Gate, Kei-mon (View Gate). The water blasts away under Gai's chakra. Neji manages to free himself from the prison and frees his team. Lee watches on and reflects that it's game over. Gai does a massive kick, launching Kisame into the air. Gai then does Asakujaku (Morning Peacock), pummeling Kisame and launching him back to the earth. The team gathers around the impact crater where Kisame's body rests. Standing over the body, Gai looks surprised... Chapter 259: "Itachi's Strength...!!" – Multiple Itachi’s surround Naruto. Taking action he throws kunai and hits each in the chest. The Itachi in front of him disperses into a flock of dark birds. Some of these birds coalesce back into Itachi. Naruto chides himself and states he never looked into Itachi's eyes, Itachi replies that he can inflict the Genjutsu with just his finger. Naruto remembers back to his training with Jiraiya. Jiraiya explained an opponent controlling your minds chakra creates Genjutsu. If you can cut off that flow or overpower it with a stronger chakra, the illusion can break. Naruto tries to break the spell but several of the birds turn into shuriken and cut into him. As he tries to focus, the right side of his face peels off to reveal Sasuke in his level two cursed seal form. Kakashi, Sakura and Gaara also

emerge from Naruto's body to play on his worries. As he begins to grow tearful he awakes due to the help of Sakura and Chiyo. Kakashi tells Naruto to be ready, and put his heart into fighting. Chapter 260: "Kakashi Vs Itachi!!" – As Naruto awakens, Itachi and Kakashi continue their fight. Itachi unleashes a Goukakyuu fireball at the Leaf ninja; Sakura and Naruto jump out of the way and only a hole remains where Kakashi once stood. Suddenly Kakashi bursts from the ground to deliver an uppercut! Itachi grabs him and attempts to use his Genjutsu but it falters. Itachi realizes he is grappling with a Kage Bunshin. Emerging from the hole in the ground, Kakashi yells for Naruto to strike! Naruto and a Kage Bunshin clone then unleash Oodoma Rasengan (Big Ball Rasengan)! It connects and Itachi is defeated. The team stands over the body in confusion, elsewhere Team Gai also wonders what happened with Kisame... Chiyo recognizes the body as Yuura! Sasori's underling who helped him invade Sand! The team surmises Akatsuki had used a new technique to make a sacrificed body act as a puppet! The body looks like the ninja and utilizes their techniques and is only restricted by however much chakra the original donates to them. In the cave, Sasori is perturbed that his two underlings were sacrificed. The "leader" states the two men should have been lucky to become real Akatsuki in some form using his Shouten no Jutsu (Shape Changing Technique)! Chapter 261: "Jinchuuriki...!!" – The group surmises they were delayed so Akatsuki could continue the bijuu extraction. Chiyo states some countries could control the bijuu power and imbue them into persons. Once properly synchronized with the demon, the ninja gets their power. Sand itself has had three jinchuuriki in its history. Such reverse balance must then be used when extracting the demon, and when fully extracted, the result is death for the host. Sakura takes this news hard but Naruto tells her not to worry. In the cave, Itachi tells the group Naruto's team and Sasori's grandmother are coming. Elsewhere Zetsu consumes the dead Shouten Kisame. As Team Naruto rests for the night, Chiyo remembers back to her son and wife and their newborn son Sasori. In the morning Team Naruto and Gai each continue their journey. In the cave, Gaara appears on an ethereal type plane and questions his existence. As his body begins to draw further away, the Akatsuki leader says it's done... Gaara's body falls to the cave floor. Outside the cave, Team Gai has arrived!

Chapter 262: "Racing Emotions...!!" – As Team Gai stands before the cave, Neji uses his Byakugan to see inside. He states the view is difficult to put into words. Gai attempts to strike the boulder but a seal barrier protects it. Inside Akatsuki realizes they have visitors. As Team Naruto continues, Naruto again imagines Gaara all alone growing up. He grows determined and changes into his Kyuubi appearance. Chiyo asks Kakashi why Naruto is so determined, and Kakashi relates that Naruto holds the Kyuubi, and though Gaara is from a different village, Naruto knows Gaara went through the same thing he did growing up. Naruto feels Gaara is a person of like mind, when he learned Gaara became a Kage, Naruto felt a bit jealous but he was happy from the bottom of his heart. Chiyo states she never felt very close ties to other villages. She was too self-absorbed in village matters, even going so far as to seal Shukaku within Gaara. Chiyo begins to regret how her past actions may have doomed the village, but she knows still has more she can do. At the cave, Gai tells his team the barrier is a five part seal. Naruto's team finally arrives and the teams are happy to see each other, after introducing Chiyo, Gai and Kakashi prepare to take action...