New Yellow Flash
"Wind Style: Great Breakthrough!" Naruto and his three clones shouted, great torrents of wind suddenly pushing out from the encircled Konoha-nin in every direction, carrying with it the throwing weapons used by the combatants. To his surprise, by the time the jutsu reached the enemy's position, it had weakened much more than he would have expected. It barely left any marks on the trees, something that he hadn't seen since his original training session with Danzo. He had thought he put more into it than that but assumed that he must have not been used to using the technique in combat yet.
Regardless, it was enough of an opening for him to start stage two of his thrown-together plan.
"Multi Shadow Clone Jutsu!" There were now closer to one-hundred clones of himself, each already knowing their goal. They spread out in every direction, taking the fight to the ambushers. It would only be a matter of time until they had a captive that Ino could get information from; until then, he would stay with his team just in case. He should have been able to make more than that but maybe he had used more chakra already than he thought? But that didn't really make sense, did it?
"Naruto, do not overdo it on chakra. It is clear to me that you have already used quite a bit!" Bushy-Brows said, causing Naruto to notice for the first time that his own breathing was a little heavy. Had he really used that much chakra with only the Hiraishin, Great Breakthrough, and Shadow Clones? Or maybe it was just the high intensity of the situation taking its toll on him. It hadn't ever really been a problem before though; if anything, he could always draw out more when the situation got more desperate. But that's when he noticed Neji also breathing heavily and came to a conclusion.
Something was being done to them.
"Neji, you wouldn't normally be so exhausted from using the Byakugan and Rotation this much, would you?"
"No, I wouldn't. I wondered if perhaps I had somehow been poisoned but that seems impossible. The spread out individuals I noticed earlier must be using some type of fuinjutsu which is affecting us in addition to somehow preventing you from using Hiraishin."
"Right, damn, that must be it." Naruto remembered his weaker than usual wind jutsu from moments ago. What could be going on? Was their chakra being drained? That made the most sense, but he was pretty sure he had at least as much chakra as anyone attacking them, so how could they be unaffected?
"Are you guys going to be able to continue? I mean, if you're already this exhausted... I know we don't have any option but to fight, but Lee and I need to know if you two aren't going to be able to do it," Ino said, disrupting his train of thought. However, when he looked at her and noticed she seemed to be in peak condition, that's when everything began to make sense in his head.
"I suspect that we'll be fine." Neji, at this point, had caught his breath. "We should be able to adjust to the drain easily since we now know of it. But I do wonder if the enemy are being affected..."
"It's only when we use jutsu," Naruto found himself saying, as all their eyes turned towards him. "Just think, with all the enemy surrounding us, they only attacked with kunai and shuriken. Thrown weapons only; no jutsu."
Neji instantly responded. "I thought perhaps they were worried about hitting each other should their attacks miss."
"Maybe, but I also haven't seen any of them use any jutsu since I started hearing that whole Plan Yellow thing. They must be using some kind of fuinjutsu that forces us to use more chakra for our attacks somehow, but I don't know why that would affect the Hiraishin..."
"Hey Boss!" A clone jumped onto the scene, a Kumo shinobi about the same age as all of them on its shoulders. "Managed to secure one; it's a little rough out there right now. Everyone is fighting super defensive but this guy was a total pushover. The others should already know that I captured him and so they're onto the next stage of the plan."
Neji, Ino, and Lee all turned toward him, ignoring the clone. Naruto figured they were asking about the plan. "They're going to stall for time so Ino can do her thing. But, it'd be a waste of time if we just sat here..." Suddenly, an idea came to him. "Neji, you said there were four people you noticed standing out. Can you tell if one of them would be the leader?"
The Hyuuga sat in silence for several long seconds, Byakugan still active, with a look of concentration on his face. "There's no way to be sure. I can see their chakra systems but they're not different enough in any way to discern something like that." Neji was clearly frustrated that not even his special eyes would be able to pick that out.
Naruto frowned; he supposed that would make things too simple.
"However," Neji continued, to Naruto's surprise. "From what I can see, the shinobi to our west is the most lightly defended. It may be possible to reach him rather quickly."
Ino chimed in. "That's going to be tough with me being unconscious and someone needing to carry our guest, don't you think?"
Naruto took a moment to think; he knew that many of his shadow clones had already been defeated and it would not be much longer until they were under attack again. He liked Neji's idea of attacking; after all, even if he tried to be a little smarter about it, sitting around and waiting was never really his style.
The Hyuuga responded. "We established that they know about my eyes; it's only reasonable that this is an ambush and all a part of their plan."
"Yes, I agree," Bushy-Brows said. "However, if it is the most direct route, then it is the one most worth taking in a time of need!
"Lee, you can't seriously be suggesting..." Neji began, before being interrupted.
"Lee's right!" Everyone's attention once again turned toward him, but Naruto continued. "It's true that they expected the Byakugan, and that this is probably a trap, but we also told ourselves that there's no way they could prepare for us. We can't back down because the enemy might have something planned; we have something planned too! Ino, we're heading that direction. Do your jutsu, get back quickly when you have something important."
There was silence for a moment, as the three sets of eyes bore into him. The idea of giving orders to his friends still felt strange, but he was confident enough in all of them that he knew they could get this done by working together.
"Right; I'm on it!" Ino said, before immediately forming a hand-sign. As she finished her jutsu, Naruto created a shadow clone which caught her body as it slumped to the ground before additionally creating another one to carry the captured shinobi. They grouped up, with Naruto in the front flanked on either side by Lee and Neji with the two clones in the middle.
"Many of your shadow clones have fallen already," Neji plainly stated with Byakugan blazing. "We won't have much screening, and it would be irresponsible for you to waste much more chakra before we know what's happening to us."
Naruto nodded his head. There were definitely going to be enemies along the way, so even if it wasn't actually very far to travel, it might as well have been the sands of Suna. As long as they moved quickly then they should at least be able to not end up getting swarmed by enemy shinobi. They jumped towards the west.
"To our right!" The Hyuuga yelled, as a group of three Kumo-nin immediately rushed towards them, two of whom held swords. Fingers held out in a cross in front of his body, Naruto made two more shadow clones which intercepted the attackers. It didn't matter whether they won, although they should be able to, all that mattered was getting them the necessary time.
"Naruto!" Lee burst, maintaining his stride, "You must be more careful with your chakra! What will happen if you run out?"
All he could do was frown. Sure, he appreciated the concern of his friends, but right now he had to be willing to give everything he had to make sure they got out of this situation alive. If something happened to any of them on his orders, and he had even an ounce of chakra left to give, he'd never be able to forgive himself.
"I'll be fine! We have to make sure we get through this, no matter what!" Bushy-Brows nodded, as Naruto refocused on the task at hand. It seemed like they'd barely moved at all when the next attackers came.
"Left and right! Ten total!"
Naruto created six more clones, which immediately divided into groups of three in order to at least hold them off. Of course, his clones should be strong enough to at least take care of most of them, but if there were any particularly tough shinobi then he highly doubted they'd last very long, especially without Hiraishin. Which just made moving quickly and not getting stalled even more important.
"Directly in front of us! Only one!" Neji shouted. Naruto kept his eyes forward, searching for any potential attacker, but failing to see anyone.
The urgency of Neji's voice made Naruto jerk his head upward, only now seeing an enemy shinobi only a body-width above him. All he could do was raise his arms to attempt a block as a devastating kick sent him careening to the forest floor, landing with an audible thump and his breath leaving his body. From his spot on the ground, he could suddenly see a large Shimo-nin standing in the middle of the group for a moment before everyone took a jump away.
"Well well, looks like I have the honor of facing the Yellow Flash myself." The man stood tall, smiling. "I can think of no better adversary!" Suddenly the man was once again on the offensive, charging at very high speeds right for Naruto, who rose to his feet and jumped away mere seconds before a massive cloud of dust filled the air from the Shimo-nin's attack hitting the ground.
Looking through the dust, Naruto was unable to see anything. A second later, however, a large figure was approaching him quickly while Naruto was still in mid-air. Eyes wide, Naruto braced himself to block the incoming punch. When it connected, he was once again sent flying through the air. Before he had a second to come up with a plan, the opponent was upon him. This guy was definitely fast, faster than he was without Hiraishin, and his punches were crazy strong.
Attempting to use the Hiraishin to get out of harm's way, he realized now that he was no longer able to feel any of the kunai. Apparently, while he had initially been able to sense the ones that were still close to him, that fuinjutsu the enemy must be using was able to take that away as well. Now the ability had been taken away entirely which was definitely not something he had been prepared to deal with on this mission. One of his foes' kicks opened his guard, and Naruto was momentarily defenseless against the next strike.
"I have you now!"
A loud crack rang through the forest as Lee's kick connected with the Shimo-nin's forearm, which was raised into a block at the last second. The force of the attack knocked the shinobi backwards, as Lee himself came to a spinning stop on the ground, assuming his signature fighting stance. There was a grimace on the Shimo-nin's face. Naruto, meanwhile, rose to his feet, happy to be able to collect himself and to better examine the opponent.
"And who are you to interrupt my fight with the Yellow Flash?" The Shimo-nin was probably only a little older than them, with a head of short, spiked-up white hair. He had obvious muscles and very light blue eyes alongside pale skin. His voice was energetic and it was clear that he was eager for a fight.
"I am Konoha's Beautiful Green Wild Beast, Rock Lee, and I will be your opponent in this fight! You blocked my dynamic entry despite being distracted, so I already know that you shall prove to be a valuable test of skill!"
The shimo-nin's eyes gleamed with excitement as he smirked. "Oh really? Well, I am Haro Fukasaki, the premier Taijutsu specialist of Shimogakure. And I'd prefer not to waste my time with a small fry like you."
Naruto looked up to see Neji and two shadow clones still standing in the trees; he knew that he couldn't afford to waste time fighting this opponent, but it was very clear even from such a short encounter that this Haro guy was highly skilled. His punches had a lot of strength and his speed was top notch. While Lee could almost certainly match that, he couldn't help but worry a bit that this Haro guy could know some jutsu that may swing things in his favor.
"Are you sure you can handle him, Lee?"
"Yosh, of course! Continue onward and I shall join you shortly!"
Naruto chuckled. "Alright then; go get him, Bushy-Brows!" With a thumbs-up for assurance, Naruto leapt back into the trees; he saw that Haro guy trying to chase after but Lee kept the Shimo-nin at bay. The two of them were now squaring off, a flurry of punches and kicks that seemed like a warm-up from the looks on their faces. Honestly, getting into a Taijutsu fight was not something he would have enjoyed, especially if he couldn't use Hiraishin. Neji and Ino had already proven they were the right choices for this mission, and now Lee was going to do the same.
Roaming the area known to be Team Ten's Training Grounds, Naruto saw his target in the distance, laughing at the fact that the guy was kicking a tree.
Rock Lee did not pause in his training. "Naruto! How excellent! It would be an honor if you would be my sparring partner for the evening!"
"Sorry Lee, but I'm kinda here on business. What about Bushier Brows-sensei?"
"Gai-sensei has entrusted me to continue my training on my own currently; I believe he himself is looking to push past his limit given recent events. Truly, an inspiration to all of us!"
"Umm... yeah, definitely. Anyway, Lee, there's an S-ranked mission coming up and Tsunade said I need to get approval from everyone I want on my team. That means Neji, Ino, and you. What do ya think?"
"The flames of my youth would certainly be tested in such a mission."
"That's great..." Naruto began, only to be interrupted.
"However! I do feel it would be best to talk with Gai-sensei about such an idea! In fact, why don't you take him instead? He is certainly much stronger than I!"
It really didn't seem like too bad of an idea, but the thought didn't sit well with him.
"I think it will be better if Gai-sensei is available to lead other missions; besides, I've seen you fight before so it'll be easier to work with you."
"Yes, I can see how that does make sense."
"Besides, won't taking missions like this help you become a stronger shinobi like him?"
"Of course, you are right! Gai-sensei tells me all the time of his many missions, and it would be foolish for me to think that training alone can match field expertise. I shall go, and if I cannot complete this mission, then I shall do ten-thousand push-ups upon my return! And if I cannot do that, I should run around the village no fewer than twenty-five times! And if I cannot do that..."
"It's great to have you on board, Bushy-Brows!"
Naruto, alongside Neji and his shadow clones, leapt away from the taijutsu match; he noticed the Haro guy attempt to cut them off but Lee managed to get in the way. Naruto smiled, thinking that the Shimo-nin had better not underestimate Bushy-Brows. He had learned that lesson way back during the Chunin Exams and could only be thankful his preliminary match had been against Kiba instead of Lee.
"There are no more enemies between ourselves and the target."
"You sound worried."
"This is a trap, but I don't know what else we might have done. We must be extremely cautious with this adversary and expect all kinds of tricks."
Naruto nodded, wondering if this was the correct plan after all. It didn't seem too smart to play into the enemy's hand but it also was not likely that the four of them could handle fighting through all the enemy forces. Waiting around for Ino to end her jutsu would make them prime targets and probably would get them swarmed by enemies. He could see ahead, through the trees, a man with short black hair sitting at the far end of a clearing; he stopped, with Neji and the clones doing the same.
"Anything you can tell me about this guy Neji?"
"No, I don't see anything noteworthy..." A serious look came across Neji's face but Naruto didn't even have time to process it before he was grabbed by the collar and forced to jump forward into the clearing.
"What-" his question was interrupted when what seemed like a flash of lightning struck the tree directly where he had been sitting. "What was that?"
"If it were actual lightning, it would have hit us. Since no one else is visible to me, it must have been a jutsu of his doing."
The man at the end of the clearing stood up, and Naruto could tell now that it was a very muscular man who was probably about the same age as Kakashi. He wore a dark gray jounin outfit but it looked different than the other outfits Naruto had seen up to that point. It seemed to have thicker padding and had a worn-down appearance that made it look older. In his right hand was what appeared to be a simple metal pole. Although there was a large distance between them, it was obvious that the man's eyes were focused on him and not Neji.
Naruto got into a fighting stance, and for a long moment, the two of them did not move. He could feel it in the air that this man wanted to fight him, but that was a good thing. The main objective at the moment was to buy Ino time to get any useful information."Neji, guard Ino. I'll handle him."
"Right, be careful."
Naruto looked at the Hyuuga and gave a confident smile.
Neji shook his head. "How silly of me. Don't be too reckless."
"I'll see what I can do."
The Kumo-nin silently charged, metal pole extended in front of his body. Naruto charged in return, thinking it'd be for the best to gauge his opponent's strength first. Normally he'd use shadow clones to attack first, but that nagging chakra drain whenever he used jutsu would make that not worth it. He'd already used a decent amount of chakra and it'd be stupid to waste any more without it being necessary.
That thought, however, would quickly be pushed into the back of Naruto's mind. His opponent was attacking with a flurry of strikes, using the pole as a staff, and everytime Naruto dodged one of the blows he would immediately have to be looking for the next. The man's movement was fluid, constantly moving in-and-out of strikes with measured precision. Naruto jumped to avoid a sweeping hit to the legs but was hit in the ribs by the other end of the staff. It held a lot of force but it was nothing he couldn't handle. Seeing the Kumo-nin attempting an overhead swing, Naruto dodged to the left only to be intercepted mid-leap by a strong kick from the man that sent him backwards.
They stood, each in a fighting stance, sizing the other up after their brief initial confrontation. Despite taking a few hits, Naruto wasn't feeling the effects yet and mostly considered how he could take the offensive. Defense was never really his style.
"Yellow Flash," the man suddenly said, his voice quiet but deep, "I've looked forward to this. Please don't make all the preparation wasted."
Naruto smirked. "It'll take more than a few hits to put me down, so don't get ahead of yourself."
"It would be disappointing if it were so easy."
The next round of combat started similarly, with Naruto dancing around staff strikes. Following a narrow dodge, he attempted an uppercut that the enemy barely dodged. He followed that with a spinning leg sweep, expecting it to hit, but it was dodged when his opponent stuck the staff in the ground and lifted his entire body off the ground. Naruto barely processed it before he got hit in the shoulder by a kick. Irritated, he planted into the ground and didn't move at all from the force. A moment later, he created a shadow clone that immediately kicked the man into the air.
"Now's my chance!" He created ten more clones, each jumping after the man with the intention of ending the fight in an instant with his signature Uzumaki Barrage. However, that was when he noticed a bright flash in the sky; the next second, the same lightning-style jutsu that almost hit him earlier cut through most of his clones. Naruto had been watching the Kumo-nin and the jutsu hadn't actually come directly from him so what exactly had happened? Was somebody else interfering in the fight? That seemed impossible, since Neji would have mentioned it. So this guy was using a lightning-style jutsu that he could launch from outside his body?
While he had been thinking, the rest of his clones were dispatched. The man landed in a fighting stance, ready to resume. Naruto readied as well, before being interrupted.
"Naruto!" He heard a feminine voice yell from the forest, looking over to see Ino standing on a branch. "Plan Yellow was a plan specifically designed as a counter to you. They knew there was a high chance you'd be sent here if our village decided to attack. I didn't get much since this shinobi is low-level, but apparently that guy you're fighting now had some theory about how to stop the Hiraishin. The plan was to lure you in and activate some type of barrier fuinjutsu to trap us."
If nothing else, he could be a little proud of the fact they had designed a whole strategy around him. How many shinobi could say that?
"Thanks Ino!" Naruto eyed his opponent, who had no visible reaction to the news. It may not have been much information, but it at least let Naruto know that a victory against this foe would probably be necessary to get the use of his Hiraishin back.
"Wait, there's one more thing! Most of the enemy's elites are already further into the Land of Bears; the shinobi here are mostly experienced genin and chunin, with a few exceptions."
That was mixed news. It definitely increased the chances that the four of them would be able to get out of this, but it also meant Hoshi would be having a very difficult time holding out. It was good information to have, but not really anything he could act on. Experienced enemies could definitely be a problem regardless of what their rank was, and the exceptions mean there could be at least several highly elite enemy jounin.
Neji's voice suddenly rang out. "There are enemies on the way! Ino and I will serve as a distraction while you deal with him."
Naruto nodded his head; that seemed like the best course of action. He saw Ino say something to Neji, probably asking about Lee, before jumping back into the forest. Looking back at his opponent, Naruto saw a very determined gaze.
"If I had to guess," Naruto said, "I'd say you wanted a fight with me all alone anyway."
"Yes, that is true. Many years ago, in the Third Shinobi World War, I was one of the few who survived seeing Yellow Flash Minato Namikaze on the battlefield. I was merely a genin, and had seen him kill many shinobi far superior to me. And yet, somehow, his strike against me missed its mark, only wounding and failing to kill me. A one-in-a-million mistake from so skilled an opponent. Days later, when I awoke in a field hospital, I decided I would figure out some way of taking away that special ability of his. A way to make the Flying Thunder God return to the realm of the mortals and end its tyranny. For years, all but Raikage-sama himself mocked my efforts.
But now!" The man raised his voice, staff extended fully outward. "All my efforts shall be rewarded when I slay you where you stand, Yellow Flash Naruto Uzumaki!"
A/N: Hey everyone! Seemingly as always, it's been a while. I'll just give my apologies and move on.
The introduction of some OC major enemies was a tough choice but, ultimately, I think the right one. I look forward to expanding on them further and to see your opinions on them. I hope you'll give them a chance. I don't really have much else to say, and I feel like that's a good thing.
As always, thank you for reading. Please feel free to follow, favorite, review, or simply carry on.