Chapter 7 The Ground Beneath Our Feet

Three days had passed since the incident at the inn. Wide areas had been traversed with Kakashi leading them, and both of the younger shinobi now had no idea as to where they were. The jounin, however, had apparently crossed this area many times, and knew all the paths that should not be taken. Thus they arrived at the hidden village of storm, the city of konohagakure survivors.

Many familiar faces greeted the two boys (well, not quite boys), but there was no time for reunions amidst the clatter of the newly formed city. The Hokage had summoned a council of all the jounin, and Kakashi was taking them along.

Two uniformed guards stood at the entrance to the main building. Sasuke and Naruto were awestruck. A giant, feudal-era castle was nestled in an almost sheer rock face. Looking out, one could see to the northern sea.

"When you enter," said Kakashi, his single eye fixed on the doorway," bow first to the statue on your left, then to the Hokage. Many things have changed here, and this is not a place for true shinobi." The two guards nodded at each other and pulled aside the huge maple doors. Inside was all the proof the group needed to tell that this was not a place for them.

Politics seemed to be all that the remaining "shinobi" cared about. Assistants wandered to and fro carrying out menial tasks, while others busied themselves attending to the lavish decorations. A large group of pathetic-looking men hung around the new Hokage, who was seated on a throne of ivory. Rock Lee.

Much to the dismay of Kakashi, Naruto strode forward with a bold step, dismissing all ritual.

"What the fuck is this? I've never seen so many losers arranged so neatly in one spot. This is the amazing team of Jounin? More like cadets from the school if you ask me. What's that? You didn't ask me? WELL TOO FUCKING BAD!"

"How dare you shout such insults and accusations in my hall!" yelled Lee, obviously not used to having his pride insulted.

"Get your ass off that chair and take a look outside. You may have been a good fighter once, but I can already tell where this is leading. All you want is power, and you will forsake your people for it. You've broken down and become some paper-pushing political ass who thinks power is in signing stuff and filling out those damn sheets. Get the hell out of my sight before I tear out your throat!"

"That's it, no one can insult the Hokage like that! Guards, arrest him!" Before anyone moved, however, Naruto was behind Lee with a kunai to his throat.

"I said, get the hell out of here before you die in your own hall and be forever remembered as the Hokage who couldn't even survive in his own fortress." With that, Naruto turned and in one strike decimated the throne behind him. Shards flew through the air, and not one person in the room was not struck with awe.

"Guards, GUARDS!" Rock Lee yelled in vain as a blonde boy he once knew advanced on him with fiery eyes. "What do you want from me?" he shrieked in terror. Naruto smiled.

"It's simple enough. I want every true shinobi here to follow me to their revenge."

"And what for? What is there to take back?" shouted a distant voice. Turning, Naruto was taken aback. In front of him, sitting coolly in a chair by the window, was a blonde girl he barely remembered. She stood, fairly short, but was still much taller than she used to be. Her eyes met his, an uncaring gaze that held nothing but his reflection. Two senbon held her hair up in a ponytail, and the only other weapon she wore was a small sword on her back. Naruto stood for a moment, and then walked slowly towards her. The moment continued forever. Or, at least, until the explosions took out the support pillars.

Again, it's happening all over again was all Naruto could think of when the building collapsed. He wasn't too happy about the swarm of mercenaries, either. But what held his attention, still, was that blonde girl who was now fighting for her life and still held no expression on her face. Sakura, what's happened to you? he thought. Taking the nearest enemy, he stopped questioning and began living.

Sakura fought with the grace of the wind. Her facial expression never changed, her footing never faltered, and she decimated opponents right and left. One particularly brilliant move left Naruto astonished. One shinobi was coming out of the ground, while another attacked her from behind. Sakura had flipped into a spinning handstand on the head of the first shinobi, and in doing so threw more shuriken than was needed into both of them, dismounting with a front flip and a kick into another chest. Ha, that's right, she was learning break dancing back home. Funny.

Naruto and Sasuke were not doing badly themselves. Sasuke, while calm in nature, still wore his amazing intensity born of hate while in battle. He picked up a kunai that someone had thrown, not even noticing how fast it had been flying, and had thrown it before his glowing red eyes even registered what he had done. Needless to say, no one's skills were lax here.

Kakashi, though apparently old, was faring much better than Rock Lee. He sported a nice gash running down his arm, but other than that, he probably could have taken on Zabuza again.

When the fighting was over, there was almost nothing left. Here weren't many people left, for that matter. The esteemed Hokage had fallen very quickly, thus beheading the troupe of followers in his wake. Only the best survived, it had been every man for himself, and that was just how Naruto liked it. He said nothing, just looked skyward and whispered to himself," 1,000."