Sakura's warning came too late. Tenten turned her head just in time to see the beam come straight at her and coil around her. Tenten tried to resist, but the beam, having the consistency of a rope, tightly bound her arms, making her struggles useless. Tenten let out a scream as a strange energy began to emanate from the beam, permeating her whole body. Then, suddenly, she was yanked away the beam retracted and pulled her into the forest.
"TENTEN!" Sakura cried.
The leaf ninja rushed towards the forest to rescue her friend, but Temari held out her hand to stop her, knowing that they had to be cautious. Slowly, the two approached the edge of the forest, readying themselves for another attack. Within the forest, they could hear a distinct slurping and smacking sound, as if someone were messily devouring a large meal. They then heard a loud gulp, followed and punctuated by a throaty burp.
Disturbed by the noise, Sakura and Temari nevertheless remained still and kept their guard up. After a few seconds, a figure began to emerge from the forest. It was Marunomi.
"Well, hello girls," she said. "Nice to finally meet back up with you."
Sakura paid no heed to her words, as she was more preoccupied with the whereabouts of their comrade.
"You! Where's Tenten?!" she cried. "What have you done with her?"
"Your friend?" Marunomi said and then chuckled. "Why, she's right here."
Marunomi looked downwards, and Sakura and Temari followed her gaze. They looked at Marunomi's stomach, which had bulged out quite noticeably.
"You...You didn't," said Sakura, horrified.
"Mmm, she was tasty," said Marunomi, caressing the curve of her middle with one hand. She then stifled a small burp with her other hand. "Don't worry, you'll be seeing her soon, but for now, I'm up for a good fight."
As Marunomi took an offensive stance, Sakura and Temari prepared themselves for the fight to come. The two took notice of the Behemoth's Tongue on Marunomi's arm.
"Remember, Sakura," Temari said. "Our orders are to bring the Behemoth's Tongue back if at all possible, so we have to try to recover it."
With them already down one team member, Sakura wasn't sure she agreed that reclaiming the Behemoth's Tongue was a priority, but as Temari was team leader, she knew she had to comply.
"Right," she said.
"Good," Temari said. "Now, I'll try to disorient her with a wind attack. After that, get in and see if you can do some damage to her."
Sakura nodded and the two readied themselves for battle. Deciding to take the initiative, Temari flung her fan down and delivered a powerful gust of wind jutsu straight at Marunomi. The rogue raised her arms, protecting herself from the gust, but it was still powerful enough to temporarily immobilize her. Seeing her chance, Sakura rushed at Marunomi and delivered a devastating punch to her ribs. However, Sakura received quite a surprise when her punch seemed to sink into Marunomi, as if she were punching rubber. Marunomi's then pushed back against her, bouncing her away. Sakura was sent flying, but managed to land back on her feet.
"Wh...What the hell?" Sakura said.
Marunomi smirked at the confounded leaf ninja. "Sorry if I startled you, dear," she said. "It's my elasticity jutsu. By focusing my chakra, I can give my entire body the consistency of rubber. Any attack you throw at me, I can just bounce right back."
"Oh yeah? Then about about this!" Sakura cried.
Unsheathing a kunai, she rushed at Marunomi again and jabbed the weapon into her side as hard as she could. However, just like her fist, the kunai simply made an indent on Marunomi's body with no penetration.
"I can also make my body as hard as steel," said Marunomi. "Like I said, any attack you throw at me will just bounce right back."
She then grabbed Sakura by the arm, punched her in the stomach and tossed her away. Sakura landed right near Temari, the wind knocked out of her, but otherwise fine.
"Sakura, are you okay?" said Temari.
"Yeah...yeah, I'm fine," said Sakura getting back on her feet. "What are we supposed to do now? She seems practically invincible."
Temari thought for a moment and then came up with a new plan. "We'll just have to figure it out as we go," she said. "For now, let's focus on getting the Behemoth's Tongue away from her so we don't have to worry about damaging it. I'll distract her again with another wind jutsu and then you try to sneak in and take it from her."
"Got it," said Sakura.
As she had done before, Temari swung her fan, creating an intense gust of wind. Marunomi braced herself as the wind overtook her. Meanwhile, Sakura rushed in from the side, her eyes targeted on the Behemoth's Tongue. Once she was in range, she dashed forward with a burst of speed and attempted to yank the device off of Marunomi's arm.
*What happens next?