Sasuke and Ino both stood cautiously against their foe. Kiba was still missing, and to their knowledge, he was possibly dead. Ino kept one eye on the Kusagakure ninja, but her other on Sasuke. She decided, that she would only act based on how the Uchiha did, and he had yet to make a move, as if he was planning something.

"This woman gives me the creeps…" Ino thought. "Something about her definitely isn't right. And where in the world is Kiba?! We could really use him in a situation like this…"

"I suppose you would like to steal my Earth Scroll, wouldn't you?" the Kusagakure woman suddenly asked. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the said scroll, holding it out for Sasuke and Ino to see. "I'm sure it would go quite well your Heaven Scroll…"

"How… When did she--?!" Ino began to question, looking at Sasuke.

"I'm not sure how she knew..." Sasuke replied, reaching into pouch on his belt which held their Heaven Scroll. "But let's not worry about that now. Let's just take her down, get her scroll, and then find Kiba."

"A bold statement, Sasuke-kun… However, there's more important things to worry about than this silly scroll…" the woman chuckled. She raised the scroll for both Genin to see, just before she literally ate the item right in front of them. "Now… Let's put this whole silly scroll business aside for the time being… And get to the real matter at hand…"

"Matter at hand?" Sasuke repeated.

"Indeed…" the woman replied. "A fight to the death!"

The woman slowly raised a hand to her face, her fingernails clawing into her own skin around her eyes. Suddenly, she ripped her hand forward, sending forth a downpour of blood, engulfing both Ino and Sasuke. Both Genin found themselves slamming into a tree trunk, and falling to their knees. Through the blood sailed two kunai, one each embedding itself into their foreheads, managing to pierce straight through Sasuke's hitai-ate even. Both Genin sat on the ground, shaking in fear. Neither one able to move an inch. Slowly, their eyes widened as the blood and kunai disappeared.

"A genjutsu… It was just an illusion…" Sasuke whispered.

He felt something in his stomach gurgle, and he fell to his knees just in time to vomit. Slowly, Sasuke managed to regain his composure just enough to fall back onto his backside, staring in fear at his attacker.

"I… I could have sworn that we were dead… I felt it… The pain… It was so real… Just who the hell is this?!" Sasuke thought.

He gazed over to his teammate quietly and slowly.

"Ino…" Sasuke whispered.

Ino didn't respond though. Her body was shaking. Tears were streaming from her eyes and down her cheeks. Sasuke cursed under his breath as his eyes shot over to the Kusagakure woman who was laughing once more.

"Damn it… We're dead if we don't get out of here…" he thought.

"What's the matter, Sasuke-kun? Paralyzed with fear?" the Kusagakure ninja taunted.

"Not quite…" Sasuke replied as he managed to shakily rise to his feet, a kunai resting in his hand. His Sharingan eyes were active once more. "I can move just enough…"

"Is that so?" she replied. "Then let's see just how much…"

The Kusagakure ninja flicked her wrist in the direction of Sasuke and Ino. Sasuke's eyes darted to Ino beside him, and suddenly, he managed to take off running as he looked back, spotting two kunai flying through the air, embedding themselves in the trees as Sasuke managed to get Ino out of the way just in time.

"Too close…" Sasuke thought. "A minute later, and she'd have been gone… Ino's still out of it too…"

He paused as he looked down at his kunai. Slowly, he brought it up, his wrist shaking as he did so.

"No choice…" he continued to think. "I have to do it."

The sound of steel breaking flesh entered the air. Ino's eyes suddenly blinked, and she stared in shock at Sasuke. The Uchiha had taken his kunai, and driven it into his thigh, using the pain to keep himself alert and moving instead of falling back into that near paralysis state. The Kusagakure ninja watched this from the trees with amused eyes.

"Good, Sasuke-kun… It appears you are far more worthy of my time than the common prey… Keep it up…" she thought.

Ino was worried about Sasuke though. That measure he had taken was quite wild. And he seemed to be losing his cool quickly as he breathed heavily.

"Sasuke… Are you alright?" Ino asked, only to receive no answer. "Sasuke? Sasuke, what is it? Sasuke answer m-"

Sasuke's hand quickly went overtop of Ino's mouth, silencing the girl effectively. Her eyes widened as Sasuke began to panic, looking around for any trace of the two's attacker.

"We've got to move fast, or she'll find us again…" Sasuke thought. "But… Where do we go… Where can we go?!"

"Sasuke…" Ino thought as she watched the Uchiha boy quickly fall apart. "I've never seen him so jumpy…So scared…"

Her eyes widened as she began to here a slithering sound. Slowly, Ino's eyes drifted upward, coming to meet those of a snake, slithering down the tree to behind Sasuke. She began to struggle, trying to get Sasuke's attention. The Uchiha's eyes shot over to his teammate's direction, and came face to face with the snake. He cursed as he quickly released Ino's mouth, both jumping of the branch as it lunged forward. Ino managed to land away on another branch, safe from harm. However, the snake had already attacked again, chasing after Sasuke as he moved through the air. The boy reached into his shuriken pouch, and pulled out a handful of the throwing stars, and quickly hurled them at the snake, piercing through the beast as its mouth was snapped open in an attempt to devour Sasuke. He sighed in relief as he landed on a branch to catch his breath, Ino doing the same as she watched.

However, the two's celebration didn't last long. As the snake landed on a lower branch, a sizable lump appeared in its throat. Sasuke's eyes widened as the lump began to press against the snake's skin, until a loud rip echoed through the air. From the hole in the snake rose the Kusagakure ninja, smiling in a sadistic manner as she eyed Sasuke.

"Shame on you, Sasuke-kun… Letting your guard down like that… Good prey stays on their toes…" the Kusagakure ninja taunted. "It makes the chase so much more enjoyable… for the predator…"

The woman began to wrap herself around and scale upwards against the tree. Much like a snake. Sasuke quickly grabbed his kunai once more, preparing himself for battle. However, before he could engage the ninja woman in combat, a gray blur spun out of the trees, colliding into the woman, knocking her to the ground below. Ino gasped in surprise. Sasuke's eyes widened in shock. The Kusagakure ninja frowned.

"Hey, Sasuke… I don't remember that damn password." Kiba said with a smirk as he eyed the Kusagakure woman.

Akamaru landed beside him, still in the shape of Kiba. He simply nodded in agreement, eyeing the Kusagakure ninja as his master did. Ino smiled and cheered.

"Alright, Kiba!" she shouted. "That was amazing!"

"Kiba, huh?" Sasuke thought. "About time you showed up, but it's too late now."

The Uchiha sighed as he put his kunai away. He slowly walked forward, gaining the attention of all who were present.

"Kiba…" Sasuke began. "I know you must be stoked to finally be doing something useful… Saving the day and all, but forget it. The best thing to do right now is retreat. This woman… She's way out of our league…"

The Kusagakure woman smiled.

"My compliments on defeating the giant snake, Kiba…" she said. "It is quite impressive that you managed to do so."

Kiba glared at the woman cautiously. Akamaru looked around and nodded, gaining the attention of his master. Kiba sniffed the air and nodded back.

"You're right, boy… I smell them coming from her too. She smells just like a snake." Kiba told the dog shaped like him. "And when I look at her, all that comes to mind is snake… I bet that big-ass snake was hers… And she's probably the one that beat the crap out of Sasuke and Ino like that…"

Akamaru nodded, and Kiba grinned.

"Let's take care of this." Kiba told the dog. He looked straight at the woman and smiled. "You've been having it pretty easy up 'til now, but you're out of luck! So go slither on back to whatever hole you climbed out of, 'cause you ain't got no hope of beating me!"

"That idiot!" Sasuke thought with a grimace. "He's going to get us all killed! I have to think of something, now!"

He looked at the Kusagakure woman and Kiba, and then frowned more. His Sharingan eyes deactivated, and he then slowly walked forward. He reached into his pocket, and pulled out the team's scroll.

"This is all I can think of… Here goes nothing…" Sasuke thought.

He gripped the scroll tighter, and slowly reached out. Kiba and Ino's eyes narrowed as the watched the display, Kiba beginning to feel more and more angry with every passing moment. Slowly, Sasuke extended his arm forward, holding the scroll for anyone to take.

"Here." Sasuke said as he eyed the Kusagakure woman. "If it's this damn scroll you want, then it's all yours. Just take it, leave, and leave us alone!"

"What?" Ino whispered.

"Sasuke, what the hell are you doing?!" Kiba demanded. Pure anger was hanging in his voice. "This better be some clever way of beating this woman and not just handing over everything we got!"

"Shut up, Kiba!" Sasuke shot back.

The Kusagakure woman laughed as she watched the display.

"Now now, Kiba…" she chuckled. "Don't be too hard on Sasuke-kun… I mean, it is only the natural defense of prey to try and distract the predator with tastier bait."

Sasuke spit in the woman's direction.

"Whatever…" he mumbled. "Just take the scroll and go."

The Uchiha tossed the scroll to the Kusagakure ninja. However, before the scroll got to her, it was intercepted by two gray blurs. Both Kiba and Akamaru had jumped in the way of the flying scroll. Akamaru, who was still shaped like Kiba, was holding the scroll tightly in his mouth. Sasuke stared at Kiba, anger welling up.

"You idiot!" he shouted as he turned to the dog ninja. "Stay out of this! You're going to ruin everything!"

Sasuke didn't have another chance to say anything though. Kiba made sure of that, as his clawed hand flew right into Sasuke's jaw, sending the Uchiha falling on his ass. Ino gasped in shock, and the Kusagakure ninja merely watched in amusement.

"Kiba, what the hell are you doing?!" Sasuke demanded.

"Shut up, teme!" Kiba shouted. "I forgot the password, so I can't prove it… But you clearly are not Sasuke!"

"What? You idiot! I AM Sasuke!" the Uchiha demanded.

"I said to shut up!" Kiba replied. "Sasuke may be a teme… But he's not some chicken! He doesn't quit just because something gets tough! Besides, even if we did hand over the scroll… This woman may not let us live. So not only are you a chicken, but you ARE the idiot!"

At this point, the Kusagakure woman was no longer chuckling, but laughing as hard as she could. She smiled as she wiped a tear from her eye, looking at Kiba and Sasuke.

"Kiba, you are a riot…" she said, licking her lips. Slowly, she pulled up the sleeve on her right arm, revealing a snake shaped tattoo. "You are right, though… Why bargain… When I can simply kill you all and take the scroll!"

The woman quickly bit her thumb and dragged it across the tattoo, leaving a line of blood down the middle. Kiba and Akamaru both growl and ran on all fours at the Kusagakure ninja. Kiba bared his fangs and claws as he launched himself at her, yet the woman remained perfectly calm. Although the said can't be said for Sasuke, who began to panic once more.

"Kiba, get back here and stop it!" he shouted.

The Genin in question didn't reply, however. He didn't stop charging either. Kiba's sights were set directly on the woman, and he was ready to take her down.

"Damn it…" he said aloud, though in a hushed voice. "My faith in Uchiha is completely shot…"

Kiba's eyes narrowed as he and Akamaru neared their target. A mass of chakra began to build up around the woman, and then it swirled outward. A massive shape began to form underneath the Kusagakure woman, revealing a giant snake. The woman smirked as Kiba and Akamaru's eyes widened.

"Damn it!" he shouted as the snake snapped itself forward, breaking the branch that Kiba was charging on straight in half, and sending both the boy and the dog into the air. "Akamaru!" Kiba shouted as the dog hit the ground with a thud.

A puff of smoke erupted from the mark where the dog hit, transforming him back from a Kiba look-a-like, to his normal, tiny dog form. Kiba landed on another branch. His eyes were glaring at the Kusagakure woman with pure hate.

"Alright, you teme…" he muttered as he got on all fours again. "No more foolin' around. You will go down here!"

"A foolish attempt…" the woman from Kusagakure replied. "Finish him off, but make sure to eat him too. I don't want to take anymore chances."

The snake seemed to nod and charged forward at the branch Kiba was standing on. Kiba remained silent and still as the snake charged. Sasuke and Ino looked on in anticipation. He waited a moment more, and then began to run along the branch as fast as he could. Kiba then launched himself through the air, still keeping his sights on the snake and woman as they got closer. Slowly, a grin came to his lips, right as the snake opened its mouth to swallow Kiba.

"NOW!" the Inuzuka shouted.

Kiba began to spin at a rapid and furious rate once more. He spun right into the snake's mouth, and literally began to rip through its inners. Sasuke and Ino watched in shock and amazement as the boy tore through the serpent, which was also impressive to the Kusagakure woman as well.

"Incredible… Kiba took it down like it was nothing…" Ino thought.

Kiba smirked as he landed in front of Sasuke. The snake crashed down to the ground shortly in front of him. Breathing heavily, Kiba arose to a normal stature and looked over his shoulder at the Uchiha.

"Hey, Sasuke…" he said with a sneer. "Are you alright, ya big chicken?"

"He is…" a familiar voice muttered. "But you should worry more about yourself.

Kiba and Sasuke's eyes snapped upward to meet those of the Kusagakure ninja. She began to laugh as her tongue shot out of her mouth, and wrapped around Kiba, lifting him up into the air. The Inuzuka began to struggle around in the air trying to free himself. The Kusagakure woman smiled more at his feeble attempts.

"You've gotten in the way enough, boy…" she muttered to Kiba, as her tongue slammed him into the ground. "So I think it's time that you took a little nap…" Kiba screamed in pain as he was slammed into a tree. "So sleep…" This time the boy was slammed into the ground again. "And stay out of business that does not concern you."

The woman slammed Kiba into the ground one final time, and smiled as he was reduced to a motionless mass in her grasp. The woman smiled as she reached into his pocket, and pulled the team's scroll out. She then tossed Kiba into the air, and right over her shoulder. Ino's eyes widened while Sasuke remained motionless, watching the event taking place before him. Quickly, the Yamanaka fired a kunai after Kiba, which managed to snag through the back of his coat, and embed itself into a tree, managing to keep him hanging there in the air before he fell to the ground.

"Whew…" Ino sighed. "Got him…"

She looked over at the boy hanging in the air, and then back over at Sasuke. Sasuke was still watching the display, not joining the fight at all. Ino felt herself get pissed. Slowly, she got up, and walked over the branch from where she once stood, and jumped over to the one Sasuke was, and smacked him. Loud and hard.

"H-How could you… How could you just sit there and watch that?!" Ino demanded. "Kiba just fought with everything he had, and you gave up! Sure, he's nothing like you at all… Kiba's loud, annoying, he smells bad, and he's a pain in the ass to deal with almost all the time… But at least Kiba's not a chicken who gives up like you!"

"Ino…" Sasuke whispered. "Arigato…"

Ino's eyes widened as she looked at Sasuke. She gasped as the Sharingan eyes reappeared once more. The Uchiha rose to his feet once more, and began to walk toward the Kusagakure ninja again. She smiled as he walked closer, slowly licking her lips in anticipation.

"It appears that Sasuke-kun is going to come at me with the strength of his ancestors…" the Kusagakure woman thought. "Well then… I'll take my time, so you can show me what you can really do…"

Sasuke reached into his weapon pouch on his belt. He quickly pulled out a large shuriken, and several kunai. His Sharingan eyes glared at the Kusagakure woman, before he charged off in her direction, ready to strike once more. The Kusagakure woman watched in amusement. Quickly, Sasuke jumped down the tree, and fired off his kunai in her direction. The woman smiled and ran in a motion resembling a slithering snake. She easily managed to dodge all the blades, and ran straight for Sasuke. The Uchiha's eyes narrowed and he grabbed the bark of the tree to slow himself as he fell. He managed to swing around the tree, making it to where he was facing the Kusagakure woman as she ran along the branch. Sasuke threw his shuriken at the woman, who easily managed to dodge the attack by jumping over the weapon. However, as Sasuke threw the shuriken, he swung back around the tree. Taking a final kunai that he had been holding onto in his mouth, Sasuke took a deep breath, carefully eyeing a wire that had been tied around the loop on the base of the handle. Sasuke focused some chakra into the kunai, and then flipped around the tree to face the woman once more, letting the blade fly in her direction. The woman smiled as she leaned in one direction to dodge it, but this only lasted a moment.

It was at that moment as that Sasuke quickly leaned back against the tree, and pulled back as he did so. A string was in his mouth, and one in each hand. The woman traced each string. One in the kunai he had just fired, one in a kunai he had threw just a moment ago, and one from the shuriken she jumped over. The Kusagakure woman's eyes shot back at Sasuke, who smirked in satisfaction while making a quick hand sign.

"Way to go, Sasuke-kun!" Ino cheered. "Now finish him off!"

The Kusagakure woman smirked, but this went unnoticed by the Uchiha. He began to breath gently, sending a flamed down the wire which he held in his mouth. Stray sparks of flame managed to land on the wires held in his hand, catching all three on fire, and the flames heading straight for the woman. She began to laugh as the flames went by her, and to the surprise of Sasuke and Ino, engulfed the woman's head as well. They watched as the flames died, and the woman slowly turned around. Ino gasped in shock.

"Her face…" she whispered. "It… It looks like… It's melting…"

"Not only that…" Sasuke thought as he looked closer. "There's something else… A face underneath…"

"Marvelous… Simply marvelous…" the woman applauded. "That one so young would have such a mastery over the power of the Sharingan… I was right to come after you after all…"

"Sasuke…" Ino whispered as she leapt over to the branch the Uchiha stood on.

"You truly do live up to the name of Uchiha…" the Kusagakure woman said as she brought a hand to her hitai-ate.

She rested her palm over top of the grass symbol, before slowly lowering it to reveal a music note instead.

"A music note…" Ino thought. "Where have I seen that before…"

"You really are his brother, aren't you?" the enemy ninja asked. "You have potential… Such power… There are you can see and conceal with those eyes that Itachi never dreamed of…"

Sasuke froze in horror at the mention of that name. His eyes darkened. His hands clenched together, as he glared at the enemy ninja with a new level of hate.

"How… How do you know that name?" Sasuke asked. "Who the hell are you?!"

"My name?" the enemy ninja asked. Both Genin's eyes widened as the voice switched from female to male. "My name is Orochimaru… The Sannin of the Snake…"

Orochimaru held the scroll out, the one he took from Kiba moments ago, and grinned as it caught fire in his palm. He slowly looked up from the burning Heaven Scroll, and into the eyes of Sasuke and Ino. He smiled as Sasuke's eyes had returned to their normal state.

"If you should ever want a rematch… Then I suggest you finish this exam as fast as you can, Sasuke-kun…" the Snake Sannin said. "I'll see you again if you manage to survive this exam, and those of the Otogakure shinobi who answer to me."

"What are you talking about?!" Ino shouted at Orochimaru. "We don't want to ever see your face again!"

"Maybe not…" Orochimaru replied as he made a set of hand signs. "However, simply wishing will not make me disappear…"

At that moment, Orochimaru's neck shot forward. It slithered around, resembling a snake as it aimed straight for Sasuke. It traveled at a speed that neither Genin could track. Before he could move, Orochimaru had latched onto the back of Sasuke's neck, biting down with his fangs. He sat there for a moment, before slowly pulling away from the Uchiha's neck, and then the Sanin's own neck returned to its normal place. He smiled as the black marks appeared on the back of Sasuke's neck where the Sanin bit, and swirled around making an evil design. Sasuke began to shake slowly. He hunched over, holding his head in pain as he fell to his knees, screaming in pain.

"D-Damn it… It hurts… IT HURTS!" Sasuke screamed.

Ino tried to help Sasuke stable himself. Worry was evident in her eyes as she stared at the boy screaming in pain. The laughter of Orochimaru filled the air, causing her eyes to shoot back over to him.

"I look forward to seeing you again, Sasuke-kun…" chuckled Orochimaru. "In your quest for power…"

Ino frowned and rose to her feet, a kunai in hand as she shakily pointed it at the Sanin.

"You… What the hell did you do to Sasuke-kun?!" she screamed as she tossed the kunai at Orochimaru.

"Just a little something to remember me by…" the man replied as he began to sink into the tree, easily dodging the kunai in the process.

Ino was about to chase after the Sanin, but Sasuke's screams snapped her attention back over to him. She watched as Sasuke began to have a fit of pain. His body shook, as he screamed once more, trying his hardest to overcome the pain. Ino fell to her knees, trying to calm the boy.

"Sasuke… Sasuke, please answer me!" she pleaded.

The plea fell to deaf ears. Ino's eyes widened as one of Sasuke's hand rose into the air, as if reaching out for her. The Yamanaka quickly gave him a hand, grunting in pain as Sasuke tightly held onto hers. Ino watched with tears in her eyes as her idol… Her crush cried in pain, trying anything to get it to stop. Ino looked up and around.

"Sasuke… Please hold on…" she begged. "Kiba, get over here! Sasuke-kun is…"

She trailed off as her eyes met Kiba's limp form, still hanging from the tree by a kunai through his jacket. Ino's eyes followed the tree down, seeing Akamaru whimpering in pain at the base, as if every breath was a pain for him. Her eyes then went back to Sasuke, focusing on the black mark on his neck. Slowly, Sasuke's cries fell to a hush, as the boy began to fall unconscious. Ino quickly reached out and pulled the Uchiha in before he hit the branch of the tree, as if he was the final life line for her to hold to. Kiba, Sasuke, and Akamaru… All of them were down and out for the count. Ino realized that this time, she was alone… And the fate of the team, was now in her hands…


Mitarashi Anko cursed under breath as she leapt through the forest. It was already dusk, and there had still been no sign of her target. With every moment that slipped by, Naruto, all of the other Konoha Genin, the other participants of the Chunin Exams, and Konoha itself, slipped into danger. She wasn't sure what her target was doing here, but Anko knew that she had to take him down here and now. It was her goal, her mission, and her life's ambition.

"I have to find that teme and soon!" Anko said aloud as she traveled. "The darker it gets, the worse this whole mess will get. But why did you choose to show up now? What are you after?!"

She chuckled and shook her head as she leapt tree to tree. The only sound she made with each leap being her own breath.

"It doesn't really matter…" she went on. "If it really is you, then we'll end this here and now. This has been coming for sometime now… Years even… And I will be the one to kill you, even if it kills me."

She jumped to another branch, stopping to catch her breath. Anko rested a palm against the bark of the tree, and began to look around, slowly closing her eyes.

"After all, it's my duty… My life's mission! It's what I learned from my greatest sensei ever… What I learned from you…" Anko finished. A smile graced her lips as she looked back at a face appearing in the tree. "Isn't it, Orochimaru?"