Sakura rounded the corner at full speed. Her heavy black boots echoed off the tile floors and down the corridor as she ran. Her heart beat heavily in her chest. Sunlight filtered through windows into the hallway she was in now. Right now the normal late-afternoon sunlight was mixed with a strange orange glow. Sakura knew exactly what that glow was, but she forced herself not to look. She couldn’t look. Not yet. The way her heart was drumming in her chest told her she still wasn’t prepared to face what she would find if she looked into that courtyard. She had to calm herself. She couldn’t lose her head this time, or she would be of no use to anyone.
As Sakura reached the entrance, she nearly ran over two elder council members walking purposefully toward the exit. They nodded to her politely, as if they were just passing on the street, and not fleeing a place of immanent danger. With them was the founder of ANBU Root, and an object of Sakura’s scorn, Danzo. Danzo took more than courteous interest in her. They made eye contact. Sakura narrowed her eyes, betraying both her distrust and her unspoken question. Why are you here? Danzo continued on after the elders without a word.
Sakura brushed past Danzo and into the courtyard, and skidded to a stop at the horrific sight. She had tried to prepare herself for what she would find. Naruto was in the middle of the courtyard. His bandages had begun to tear, burn and come unraveled, the cast had broken free of his arm, and it looked nearly healed. He leaned forward onto his hands as if they were a pair of front legs. His face was contorted, his incisors growing into long fangs. His eyes were red and menacing. The cloak of the Kyuubi had already formed two tails, a third was rapidly forming as he thrashed against the bonds that held him.
Sakura almost felt relieved when she saw Yamato’s sealing jutsu forming around Naruto, but she immediately realized something was going wrong with the technique. Yamato was holding the final sign of the summon, straining against his own hands as if he was in a tug-o-war with himself. The spiked wooden pillars struggled to grow completely out of the ground. Some unseen force kept trying to pull them back under. Two ANBU flanked Naruto on either side, and her master was in the middle, shouting orders. Tsunade held a small piece of paper in her hand., on which was a symbol of some kind that Sakura couldn’t make out.
"Keep him distracted!" Tsunade was yelling to the two ANBU and Yamato. "And are you sure this wing has been evacuated?"
"It was done as you ordered, Lady Tsunade." Said the female ANBU after dodging a strike from one of the tails. The impact drove dust and grass into the air. Sakura cried out in surprise and covered her eyes with crossed forearms as the ground trembled beneath her and an unnatural wind blew grass, flowers, and other debris her way. At this, the Fifth Hokage noticed her apprentice.
"Get her out of here!" Tsunade ordered.
"But Master!" Sakura called back.
Sakura didn’t get the chance to argue. She found herself instantly scooped up on the shoulder of the male ANBU as he sprinted for the door. The impact of the ANBU’s speed knocked the wind out of Sakura. Sakura struggled to look up, and found herself being carried away from Naruto feet first. A three tailed Naruto took notice, and tried to leap after them, but the bonds of Yamato’s jutsu held, and he was thrown to the ground. Seeing her chance, Tsunade pounced.
Sakura had difficulty tracking her master’s movement as she approached Naruto through his blind spot at full speed. Tsunade slapped the paper-seal onto Naruto’s forehead with perfect precision. Naruto froze, the red aura around him dimmed. The tails began to disperse. Sakura’s long time friend collapsed onto his belly, gasping.
Sakura grabbed the doorframe as the ANBU took her back into the hallway. Just as a large chunk of the doorframe broke off, she heard her master say,