Folks, sorry for the delay on this chapter. I know its been a while and the size of this installment isn't enough to really satisfy some of you who have been waiting. I've had a lot of interesting stuff going on in my world for the last few months, hence the delay. I'm actually going on vacation for a few weeks so I won't be around to work on the next chapter for a bit.

Enough excuses. Enjoy.

Anko stared out over the gathered genin with a hint of amusement. As much crap as she gave Ibiki for leaving so many, she had the feeling that the man hadn't simply been trying to assuage his own ego when he had declared that they had a good group this time. She wasn't surprised to see Naruto and his team there, despite her act back in the classroom. She figured after dealing with her whims for the last year or so, nothing that scarface could throw at the boy would be able to faze him. Well, short of actually injuring him. Anko mused before taking another look over the genin. She recognized Kurenai's team, as well as that smokestack, Asuma's team. Gai's team was towards the back of the crowd and she already pegged them for passing this test. Unlike Kurenai's mouse of a Hyuuga, Gai's was capable and talented. His other difference from Kurenai's little princess was the fact he was willing to use extreme force when the situation called for it.

She watched them in silence, allowing them to take in the perimeter of training area 44. She was familiar with the place, as it was one of her favorite training areas. As such, she was more than used to the sight of the insanely wide trees that seemed to twist and turn through each other towards its outskirts. The makeshift metal fence blocking entrance was there only to keeping the unwary civilian from entering, though she figured it would be no loss if one did manage to wander in. The sight of the trees and the forest's unnatural darkness that could be seen from outside the fence was an unsettling thing to see, even to some of the shinobi who had used the training area before. The signs of 'Danger' and 'Keep out' added to the location's ambiance, and thus increasing the subtle mental pressure she could feel building in the genin's minds.

She grinned sadistically, Time to start increasing that discomfort. "Welcome to the second stage of the exam. Practice area 44, otherwise known as the forest of death." She heard the muted mutterings of some of the genin, even in some of the older ones from the foreign villages. Once she was sure she had all their attention, she sighed theatrically. "Well, I'm sure you'll all figure out how it got that nickname soon enough."

Anko's eyes landed on Naruto, who seemed to be frowning at the forest. Unlike his two teammates and most of the other genin, he seemed more confused than disturbed the misshaped forest. Probably because I dragged his ass out here on more than one occasion. When no one spoke up, she let out another sigh. She had actually been hoping for some loud mouth genin (preferably Naruto, as she already knew the scene in the classroom spooked most of the genin), to make a wise-ass remark about the nickname so she could have a little fun. Needless to say, she was somewhat annoyed that no-one had taken the bait. Instead she reached inside her coat and pulled out the stack of papers. "Before we go any further, I need you all to sign these release forms."

Some genin from Takigakure raised a hand and she gave him a nod. "Release forms?" he questioned.

She nodded, rubbing the back of her head sheepishly. It was part of the act of 'carefree and insane examiner' that she was using for her test. Granted, she had to admit to herself, it's not really too much of as stretch on the way I usually act. "Well, there will be deaths in this test. And since I don't want your respective villages blaming me for your lack of skill and coming after me, you have to sign these forms, saying it's not my fault when you die in there." She enjoyed the looks of disbelief on most faces she could see and continued, "I'll explain the test, then you can sign these forms afterwards. Once all the members of your squad sign, bring it to the booth over there." She finished, gesturing over her should at the makeshift booth that had been set-up for this exam. She paused for a moment to let them absorb all that before speaking again, "And now I'll explain the second exam."

She went through the information that the genin required for this stage of the exam. It wasn't the first time she had given this speech, and provided she didn't die before the next time Konoha hosted a Chuunin exam, it wouldn't be the last. She didn't really pay attention to the words coming out of her mouth about the course, or the rules for their survival battle, instead taking the time to watch the reactions of the genin being tested. Some became decidedly more nervous as she went on, but most either looked intrigued, confident, or showed nothing.

Eventually her eyes went to Naruto, who was staring at her, as if seeing her for the first time. She didn't really want to take the time to think about what might be possibly going through her sometimes student's head, but did meet his gaze as she finished up. "Last bit of advice, don't die out there."


The Sandaime of Konoha held his pipe in his hand, but it was left unlit. It was more of a nervous habit than anything else, and he knew that despite how much he could use the relaxation that the herbs brought, he would have to go without today. He stared into the crystal ball that had been handed down since the time of the Shodaime. Contrary to what one may believe, it was no mere conjurer's ball of prophecy, nor was it something fortune tellers used to scam people. The crystal was engraved with very shallow seals all around its circumference. So shallow that most would never notice, even if they ran their hands over the surface. It was a tool to be used by the Hokage, and one that Sarutobi had used many times to monitor members of his village. The seals in place allowed him to search for and find keyed individuals, but only if they were within a certain distance. He also needed to know what the person looked like.

He was currently using the ball to watch team 7 dash through the Forest of Death, the second exam having already begun. To say he felt unsettled would be an understatement of massive proportions. Today is the day that Naruto predicted. Today is the day where either truly begins, or truly ends...

His orders to the main Anbu squadrons had been clear. Remain unseen, and follow team 7. Then engage anyone who appeared that seemed above Chuunin level. No, not just engage, signal for backup and terminate with extreme prejudice. A secondary team had been sent of the team of the 'known' spy, Yakushi Kabuto. They carried similar orders, only to wait until the team was alone before proceeding.

After all, appearances had to be kept.

He let out a sigh before focusing chakra into the ball again. The current vision of team 7 faded, only to be replaced with a grayish fog. Sarutobi cursed mentally, knowing what this sign meant. Damn it, Naruto. You should've been back by now! He dismissed the foggy image before resettling it on team 7.

He had wanted to be the one to lead the Anbu against Orochimaru but Nanashi had stated it would be unwise. "The snake knows your chakra signature too well. If he senses you anywhere near the forest, he's going to know something is up."

Sarutobi had frowned at the explanation and then questioned on why Nanashi should be there then.

Nanashi had only grinned, "Because he has no freaking clue I exist, old timer. And thus, I have the element of surprise."

Sarutobi shook his head out of the memory, turning his attention back to team 7. Whether Nanashi made it back in time to confront Orochimaru was irrelevant now. The Anbu squadrons should be able to prevent what was to come, and hopefully, take down the biggest of Sarutobi's mistakes. Though a small part of him still wished the future version of Naruto was on hand. The fact he hadn't yet returned from Kumogakure was unsettling on many levels, and he did not want to speculate why.

Hurry up, Naruto! I've got a bad feeling about this...


The man smirked as he and his two subordinates simply waited in the path that he knew the Uchiha's team would follow. Genin were so easy to predict, after all. The three would-be Kusa-nin were simply waiting for their prey now, the leader with almost giddy anticipation. He never thought it would be this easy to complete his plans. Granted, he didn't really respect the security of his former village as much as one would think, but even he was disgusted at how easy it was to switch places with the three fools from Kusagakure.

"What are you orders, Orochimaru-sama?" The snake master turned his attention to the disguised Kimimaro, the leader of his personal bodyguard. The Kaguya had been an asset, and the notorious nukenin felt it was such a waste that the prodigy that served him was not long for this world.

"They'll be passing through soon. You two will wait here while I play with them." Orochimaru smirked at that before his senses detected something that had not been there before. He immediately lost the smirk, the fires of anger already pooling in his soul. "Oh, it looks as if we have guests."

His two subordinates were instantly alert, Kimimaro already having a pair of bone sabers ready and Jiroubou already ready to unleash the Doton jutsu that his master had imparted to him. As if coming out of the trees themselves, like some sort of mist, the ANBU squadron showed themselves, silent as the rolling mist they seemed to emulate. They took up positions around the three but did not immediately engage. They seemed to simply watch and wait, but obviously prepared for anything. Or at least they felt they were.

"Isn't it against the rules for the ANBU to get involved in the genin examinations?" Orochimaru queried with a smile. Internally he was frowning though. They found out this quickly? I had guessed they wouldn't find the bodies until the second exam was complete. I guess they deserve some credit after all.

One of the ANBU spoke, but due to the masks they were wearing, as well as a minor genjutsu, it was impossible to determine which one it was. "Orochimaru, by the laws of Konohagakure, you are to stand down and submit yourself to us. Your time is up, traitor." This was immediately followed by the lighting a chakra flare, shooting red smoke high into the air, through the trees.

Orochimaru glared and hissed. This is not what I intended. "Unsightly fools. Kimimaro, Jiroubou, kill them all. I have business to conduct." With a few fluid motions the Kusanagi appeared in his hand and he calmly began walking towards the direction that team seven was heading. He didn't even bat an eye as he was attacked. No one is going to get in my way. The Sharingan will be mine, fools. He continued walking through the fools who attacked him, leaving corpses in his wake. Kimimaro and Jiroubou would take care of the rest, and the reinforcements.

After all, his little date with Sasuke-kun wouldn't take that long.


Anko didn't dare let up her pace as she raced through the forest. She ignored the branches that seemed to conspire against her movements, her hand always snapping up in time to grab and break any offending branches that would strike her face and slow her down. She knew what she doing was foolhardy at best, but she didn't care. She had been waiting for this chance for longer than she could remember, and she wasn't about to let the Anbu cut her out of it, even if the old man had ordered them to do exactly that.

She wasn't proud of admitting it, but the fact of the matter was this: Anko would cut down anyone who stood between her and her former sensei, friend or enemy alike.

Anko brought herself out of her musings when she felt a spike of killing intent that was strong enough to send shivers down her spine. She imagined that whoever was the target of such a spike would probably be stunned, especially if it was some snot-nosed genin. But she immediately altered her course towards the spike, and was rewarded when she heard a familiar voice yell out in a blast of hot chakra and rage, "Fuuton: Kaze no Tate!"

Anko stopped and had to anchor herself to the trunk of the tree she was using when the blast of wind rippled outward. Naruto? Glad to see he's in the thick of things! After the wind died down, she continued towards where she had detected the spike of killing intent. She found herself staring down at team 7 and their attacker, and felt her blood boil as she saw who it was. She glared at the man and immediately began forming the seals for the strongest ninjutsu she knew. It was probably foolish, but she now needed to make enough of a scene for the genin to escape and for the Anbu to show up. Just in case... She thought to herself.

The fake Kusa nin seemed annoyed, and was glaring at the blond. "You are not amusing me, little genin. I suppose I will have to take my fun out of you in other ways." That long serpentine tongue trailed out, running over the man's lip. Before he could do anything else, he jerked his head up and to the genin's right. He hissed in outrage before leaping backwards, just in time to avoid a roaring dragon of what appeared to be pure electricity slam into the spot where he had been standing previously, sending sparks flying in all direction from the impact. The flickering sparks seem to saturate the clearing with the smell of burnt ozone and spent chakra.

Anko cursed to herself but didn't remove her eyes from her opponent for even a second. Her voice lacked any of her usual sadism or taunting as she spoke to the genin. "You three, leave now. Leave the intruder to me and head to the tower. The exam is compromised. As the executor of the second exam and Special Jounin of Konogakure no Sato, I am giving you a direct order to head to the tower immediately."

"Anko?" She didn't even look at him and just responded. She was rewarded by his usual yelp as her thrown kunai marked him.

"Now, you stupid brats! Move or I swear to kami that even the Kyuubi would weep in terror after its seen what I've done to you!" The three genin didn't need any more motivation after that, immediately scattering and heading towards the tower. Not a moment too soon either, as the Kusa nin stepped back out into the clearing, a curious look on his face.

He watched the genin go before looking back to Anko with a raised eyebrow. "I was under the impression that anything goes during this exam. It's not very... honorable for the proctors to get involved in a battle between genin."

"Drop the act, Orochimaru. We know who you are." Anko growled out, dropping to the forest floor, approximately fifteen feet from her former sensei. She was livid, and for more than one reason. One of her proctors had found three bodies after the start of the second exam. She had been called to look at three bodies that were found. She was surprised when she arrived to find an ANBU squadron already there, examining the bodies and talking on radio headsets. Upon seeing the state of the bodies, she had known it was him. The ANBU seemed to already know this, and informed her that they already had teams in the forest hunting down the snake and that some had already engaged him in battle. She issued some orders of her own, snagging the radio headset from the ANBU squad leader and using Shunshin to get back to the testing grounds, ignoring the squawk of protest. She leapt the gate without considering the scene she was showing the other proctors, already attaching the headset to her ear, finding the active channel reporting the position of the intruder.

All signs pointed to preemptive knowledge of the traitor's presence in the exam, and she had been obviously cut out of the loop. And that pissed her off to no end. Old man, we're going to be having words if I survive this.

The man stared at her, no expression on his face before a grim smile crossed his face. He slowly broke into laughter as he reached up and tore the faux face from his own, revealing his true visage as he looked upon his old apprentice with amusement. "Impressive, Anko-chan. I did not think the ANBU would get past my men, or discover me until after I was done here."

Anko said nothing to that. She had rushed here in order to fight the one who abandoned her to her fate so long ago, but now she realized what her true role was to be. I have to kill him, or at least stall him until the ANBU can break through his little minions. Glad I did though, or who knows what the hell he would have done to those kids. "All this time, and here we stand, sensei." She allowed several small throwing daggers to fall into her fingers from her coat sleeve before speaking again, "I'm going to kill you, here and now!" And with those words, she let her daggers fly, following closely after them.

Orochimaru seemed amused by her passionate claim and allowed her to close. He snatched the thrown daggers out of the air with casual grace before whipping his tongue out at his ex-pupil. The slimy appendage missed her face by centimeters due to a head dodge, but it was clear that it wasn't meant to actually strike her as it curled back around to grasp her windpipe. Anko's charge slowed as the air was crushed from her but reacted quickly, throwing up her arm to the tongue and allowing the Shadow Snake hand to form around the tongue, the vipers chasing down the muscle to its owner. Orochimaru was caught off guard by the fast reaction and that momentary distraction allowed Anko to use chakra to anchor herself and twist, using the snakes and the grasp on the tongue to throw her sensei over her shoulder and slam him into a tree trunk. The tongue crushing her air loosened and she swiped at the muscle with a kunai, almost slicing it off as he retracted it back to his mouth. She was upon him in an instant, a pair of kunai in her hands as she went to blind the bastard.

Orochimaru recognized the danger and twisted his body. It allowed him to avoid being impaled by her charge, but not enough to avoid the knee strike aimed into his gut. He didn't even have time to buckle over when he felt a palm strike hit him hard in the face, slamming the back of his head into the tree trunk again, leaving a small crater where the back of his head hit the wood. With one more quick motion, an explosive tag was out and against his face, and he could feel the chakra flowing through it, promising his death. "I'll see you in hell, sensei." The woman's voice ground out, obviously prepared to kill them both with this suicidal attack. Her right hand was holding the tag against his face in an open palm grasp, and her left had restrained his right hand from moving. Far from the best hold, but for the amount of time the tag needed, it would work.

Anko's knew that this attack would kill her as well, but she knew it was worth it. After all, it was what she had always wanted when she thought of her traitorous sensei. Her moment of victory was snatched from her when the body she was holding against the tree trunk dissolved into mud. She cursed, throwing away the tag and jumping away from the resulting explosion, barely avoiding turning herself into a crispy critter. She was forced to roll as she landed, in order to put the flames on her coat out. She stood, turned and glared at the irritating laughter that still haunted her dreams and saw Orochimaru sitting leisurely on an extended tree branch, leaning back against the trunk as if he were just taking a relaxing break.

He looked down at his pupil with a disturbing smile, as if amused by her attacks. Like they were nothing more than the antics of a child. She didn't delude herself, she had known she would be outmatched, but she also knew that she needed to do this. "So reckless, Anko-chan. Coming alone to fight me, and then fighting so wildly. I taught you better than that." He then pulled one hand into a seal and smirked, "And one should punish poor students, after all." He watched in amusement as the woman's face went pale and she all but dropped to her knees in visible agony, one hand going to her neck where Orochimaru knew his little gift remained. Oh he knew that fool Sarutobi thought he had devised a counterseal but Orochimaru knew it wouldn't truly block the effects of his masterpiece. He casually slid down and walked towards her, relishing in his grunts of pain. "This is the first time we've seen each other in so long, and you're still so passionate about me. I'm flattered, my dear."

Anko glared but forced herself to grunt out the question. "Why are you here? To kill Hokage-sama?"

Orochimaru continued his little walk. "No, I don't have enough men for that. I thought I'd check the talent here and see if I could find some promising pupils. Just like how I found you, Anko-chan."

"So which poor bastard did you mark?"

He frowned at the question. "I had hopes for the young Uchiha, but you got in my way. He looks to be talented, from the reports I have, and he is perfect for my next successor." He frowns before shaking his head, "No matter, I'll have other chances. He stopped before her and ran his hand alongside her face. She twisted away from it, amusing him further. "Though, if I had known you would become so beautiful, my dear, I wouldn't have tossed you aside so casually."

If he hadn't been such a good shinobi, he would have died in that moment. Orochimaru saw the woman's trembling halt as a small smile covered her lips. He reacted instantly, using a replacement immediately as the woman exploded in a blaze of pyrotechnic glory. He stared dumbfounded at the destruction before his gaze traveled upwards to where he sensed his student's true location was. She simply knelt there, on the edge of a long tree branch, glaring down at him. Finally he spoke, actual approval in his voice. "You've improved, Anko-chan."

Her only response was another onslaught of flying kunai. Orochimaru only grinned. Perhaps I should indulge her after all. There will be other chances, and how often do I get to play with my ex-protege? "Let us play then, child. I will show you just how powerless you really are."

Anko only snarled, forcing herself to calmness, despite her outward appearance. Don't play into his hands. He plays mind games constantly, taunting his opponents, making them make stupid mistakes. Be calm, and be unpredictable. He has no idea what you're capable of now, and all he knows is that his little love-bite isn't working properly. She took a breath to prepare herself before dropping down to his level, a thin kunai shooting out of her coat sleeve and already twirling between her fingers. "I was one of your men, a lifetime ago. It falls to me to be the one to make sure you never leave this forest alive. That is my responsibility, for being your pawn." Her hand lashed out behind her and she had to fight the smirk on her face as the kunai she had thrown behind her nearly struck the hidden man in the face, forcing to give away his true position. The mud clone that had been taunting her fell away and she immediately turned to raise a block to the incoming punch from behind. She grit her teeth as the force of the blow sent her sliding back several feet but she held her position.

Orochimaru followed up his initial attack her several more successive blows. She was able to block and parry them for a few exchanges before one broke through her guard, impacting against the side of her ribs. She cursed and bent from the blow and watched in pain as a snake-hand strike flew towards her eyes. As the blow landed, she collapsed into mud, causing the legendary shinobi to right himself and take in his surroundings. "Come out, come out, wherever you are..." He taunted in an amused voice.

Anko didn't wait too long to oblige her sensei. She watched from her position as several of her mud clones attacked from his flanks while one other prepared her trap. It did not escape her notice that Orochimaru had yet to use any real jutsu yet, and it even seemed like he was toying with her clones. It wouldn't surprise her, but as long as he underestimated her, she had a chance, albeit a small one. His movements were quick and contained all the grace and finesse that she never learned from his style. She had converted it into a brute-force style, rather than the defensive style of parries and counters that she knew he excelled at.

She watched as he easily countered and defeated her two clones before he looked directly at her hidden position. She cursed and immediately moved, only to watch her former position destroyed by a blast of flame. She spun in mid-air, her feet catching on the underside of a tree branch and she immediately moved down, her fingers already forming seals of her own as she saw the next blast of flame. She finished her seals and threw as much chakra as she was willing to sacrifice into it, slicing her hand down towards the center of the gout of flame. "Fuuton: Wind Blade."

She felt more that saw the thin blade of wind fly forth and split the ball of flames, sending the two halves to the sides of her charge. She had picked up the trick from Nanashi, and she was damn glad she knew it. While Fuuton and Katon didn't play nice together, usually with Katon coming out on top, there were a number of ways to cheat using wind ninjutsu to overcome the more powerful fire jutsu. Using a thinner attack to split the flame rather than cancel it out was one such way, but it wouldn't have worked if it had been a sustained flame burst, rather than a simple fireball.

She was caught by surprise though as Orochimaru was suddenly before her. His fist lashed out and impacted against her face in a hard blow that sent her flying through the forest, her right arm clipping the end of a tree trunk as she flew past. She screamed in agony as her right shoulder was dislocated from the impact , and although she couldn't' see it, she could feel the pain. She bounced a few more times before finally coming to rest at the base of a large redwood. Her head ached and she slowly moved her left hand to the back of her head, which was now resting against the tree trunk. When she saw blood on her hand, she was not surprised but didn't let it faze her. She slowly rose to her feet, paying little attention to her injured right arm as Orochimaru slowly walked toward her.

He stopped about twenty feet from her, crossed his arms in front of his chest and appraised her. "Hmm, I'm surprised that didn't knock you out, Anko-chan. You must at least have a concussion from the impact."

Anko only grinned, only now aware of the taste of her blood on her lips. "Though I walk through the valley of head trauma, I shall fear no concussion." She said flippantly, reaching across to right her dislocated shoulder with a loud popping noise that would normally have caused someone to grimace.

Orochimaru didn't even grimace, nor take note of her taunting joke. "Reckless with the wind blade as well. You haven't changed at, have you Anko-chan?"

"Life is change, you bastard." Her hands then lashed together into the common release seal and she grinned, "Release."

The ground that Orochimaru had been standing upon was instantly blown apart, courtesy of the explosive notes that her mud clone had placed earlier. She had not been intended to use the trap so soon, but she couldn't just let it pass, especially after he gave her such a hard blow already. She was moving as soon as the debris was done flying, knowing that she hadn't killed him, but she wasn't about to wait around for him to come to her. She flew into the dust cloud that still covered the forest around them and instantly threw four more kunai towards the chakra source she could sense.

The dust was settled soon enough as a burst of wind lashed through, causing Anko to anchor herself, rather than be pulled along with it. That was a mistake and she realized it soon enough as hardened earth latched onto her left leg and held her in place. She cursed and twisted as much as her bound leg allowed, once again raising her forearm to block a crushing blow that send tremors of pain down her arm. Orochimaru seemed annoyed at her block but didn't let it stop him from following up his attack, slamming a front kick directly into her chest. The blow was hard enough to break her leg's stony confirement and send her flying again. Anko was in control much better this time though, and she reached out her arm to catch a thicker branch above her, using chakra to redirect her moment to flip back to the ground.

She hissed in pain as she landed, her left leg giving off an incredible burst of pain. Damn, getting yanked out of hardened stone when my body was twisted like that couldn't have been good. She didn't look at her leg; she didn't have time to. Once again, she sensed him before she saw him and turned again to meet his attack. Only this time she didn't block. She lowered her body at the last moment and lashed out with her right hand. His hand hit her left shoulder, but her hand impacted directly against his rib cage and although she was reeling from the pain in her leg and shoulder, she grinned in insane satisfaction when she felt something crack beneath her blow.

Orochimaru seemed surprised and jumped back a few feet. He looked at her as if she had suddenly grown two heads before that familiar sneer appeared on his pale face. "Perhaps you have improved Anko. But you know you can't keep up with me."

Anko ignored the pain in her body, and the part of her mind telling her to flee before he decided to stop playing with her. Instead she simply began forming seals, "Time to find out, sensei."

A shame that those would be the last words she would hear herself say in the fight.


Orochimaru slowly cracked his neck to the side, producing an audible crack as he slowly paced forward. He didn't know whether to be irritated or impressed that he could feel a bruise forming on his rib cage, a result of an unexpected counter from his former protege. He even licked his lips, tasting blood, his own blood, for the first time since... well, since the last war, probably.

He looked down at the woman, his face already moving into the smirk that he knew she hated. The one he imagined she had nightmares about. While little Anko-chan had surprised him, and even put up a respectful fight, she was still outclassed. While he may have a bruise or two and a split lip, she was considerably worse off. Her trenchcoat was in tatters, the remains soaked in her own blood and plastered against her own body. Her left shoulder was unresponsive and a quick glance confirmed that his latest blow had indeed dislocated it. It was almost a matching set with her right arm bent backwards at the elbow, as if the joint had reversed. She was lying on her back, her eyes glassed over as she stared upward, fighting to breath. The kunai driven into her stomach was obviously not helping, and a slow trickle of blood leaked from the wound. He imagined the only reason she had not bled to death already was because the weapon was still embedded into her.

"Not bad, Anko-chan. Not bad at all, my dear. Perhaps I was wrong about you." He said this, knowing she would take the bait. Even beaten as she was, he doubted that she would ever let one of his comments slide.

Her eyes seem to remain in her own little world before snapping into focus and she grimaced as she glared at him. "Go to hell, you bastard."

He actually bent down until his face was only a few inches from hers and spoke, "I hope you realize that you've accomplished nothing. You wanted to hold me until the ANBU arrived, yet I have no doubts my own men have... taken care of them. You wanted to stop me from having fun with that little genin team, but that also does nothing. After all, I know what the Uchiha wants. Hopefully he'll prove a better successor than you."

Anko spat in his face, phlegm mixed with her own blood. It hit his cheek and he glared, his hand lashing out and slapping her across the face. Anko's head jerked to the side hard enough to roll her body, despite her broken limbs. He rose slowly, no longer amused. Still, she is my child, in a sense. I'll give her a befitting death. He opened his mouth and allowed the Grasscutter sword to come forth, taking it from his tongue with a flourish that no one besides him could see. He slowly raised the blade and waited for his former subordinate and student to turn herself around.

She didn't disappoint him, despite her broken limbs and being almost empty of chakra. Her glare was ever present though as she showed no fear at the sight of the legendary blade. "I swear to kami that I'll crawl from the gates of hell and kill you, Orochimaru!"

"Eloquent as always. Goodbye, Anko-chan." The blade then came down. Anko's last thought as she saw the flash of the blade was a plea to the one who had saved her after the man about to kill her first abandoned her. Hokage-sama, bring this bastard to justice!

She didn't close her eyes, but she still didn't see what happened. It was all a blur in her mind, but then again, it was probably the blood loss catching up to her. When she felt no pain from the sword, although the rest of her pain was still present, she looked up briefly. Orochimaru had jumped back, the hand holding the kusanagi twitching wildly as he stared towards her in what looked like absolute rage. It took a moment for her battered mind to realize that he wasn't glaring at her, but rather someone else. She didn't know how she could have missed him, considering he was all but standing over her. He stood in front of her, seemingly protecting her. It was the last thing she saw before finally blacking out.

Orochimaru allowed his irritation to show as he glared at the new arrival. Finally, he spoke, his voice regaining its composure. "Hmm, so little Anko-chan has herself an avenging samurai. I don't know you." The masked blond's eyes were like glaciers as they peered into the snake's. Orochimaru easily took in the man's condition, despite the attempts to disguise it. He was obviously exhausted, lacking chakra, and looked as if he hadn't slept in days. Still, even in that condition, he was able to sneak up on me like that. And he used a jutsu, probably a raiton of some kind since I can still feel the static. "Not very polite, are you?" Orochimaru sneered.

"I have no need to show respect for scum like you." The words were cold, and Orochimaru found himself wondering who this individual was. Despite his obviously poor condition, he still held a fighting spirit that seemed radiate around him with power.

"Touche. So what shall we do, my mysterious friend? Do you think you can kill me? Perhaps stall me until another squad of ANBU finds us?" Orochimaru took a few steps away, resting the sword against his shoulder, tapping it thoughtfully. "Then again, if you don't hurry, little Anko-chan will die." The man's glare seemed to drop to even icier levels and Orochimaru grinned at the reaction. He realized he had wasted too much time in this kami-forsaken forest. Saskue-kun eluded me thanks to Anko-chan, but I'll have other chances. There is no point in remaining. He finally turned his back on the masked blond. "I'll be taking my leave then. Tell the old man that if he cancels the exam, I'll crush his pitiful village."

"You really think I'm just going to let you walk out of here?" The man's words were heated now, unlike the previous coldness.

Orochimaru smirked an unseen smirk. He only casually glanced towards the man over his shoulder and said in a deadpan voice, "You will if you want her to live. Unless you're a medic-nin, then she needs a hospital."

The man seemed to be grinding his teeth behind his mask. "You damn son of a bitch."

Orochimaru only chuckled as he began sinking into the ground, "Pass on my message, boy."

"I'll kill you!" The man roared out, kunai already sailing through the air towards him. The shionbi was following in its wake but it was all for naught, as Orochimaru knew it would. Before the kunai hit the ground he was well on his way out of the forest.

Nanashi slid to a stop, glaring at the spot where Orochimaru had made his exit. It took every fiber of self-control he had to stop himself from lashing out at something, but a quick glance at his dying friend forced him to focus. He quickly went to her side, carefully shifting her unconscious body into a modified fireman's carry. Without any other hesitation he was already moving.

"You stupid bitch. You better live, Anko, or I swear I'll summon your corpse just to kill you."

I have to admit, that the original form of this chapter was actually much longer and far more confusing. I had to stop myself and figure out what exactly I wanted to do here. In the end, I decided to break the Forest of Death experience up into two separate sections, with one focusing on Anko and Orochimaru and the other focusing on Team 7. Before they were combined with a lot of perspective switching, but by the time I made it through about, eh , halfway, I realized that it was already ungainly, especially in terms of what had happened so far and who knew about what.

The next chapter will be the Forest of Death from Team 7's point of view. They'll interact with Orochimaru and further. It will touch on their encounter with the snake and then reveal the rest of the second exam that they will undergo.

Hope you enjoyed the chapter and thanks for reading.