Hello everyone. Mexicano27 here again. If you checked out this story at any point in the past year, you'd know that for quite a while now I've been busy editing many of the chapters of this story in an effort to bring it up to a standard of quality that I'd be happy with. Unfortunately, the longer I worked at this, the clearer it became that it was an impossible task. I simply screwed things up too badly.

In my mind, the only solution is to scrap all the chapters and start over from the beginning. For this reason, I've decided that I'm going to delete every single chapter except for the very first one, then start the story over in what will hopefully be a much improved version.

I'd delete the entire story, but I did have to consider the fact that it has just over 600 subscribers. Unless they had also subscribed to my author profile, this story would simply disappear from their list and they'd have no idea what happened; they'd likely assume that it was abandoned, when that's not the case.

For old readers who have been following this story (and still remember after all this time what happened in it), I'd like for you to know that, for better or worse, the plot will remain virtually exactly the same as its current version. Was there a scene or plot point about this story that you really liked? It'll almost certainly appear in the rewrite. Was there a scene or plot point that you really hated? Again, it'll almost certainly still be in the story. Five years ago when I wrote this, I rushed to crap out chapter after chapter as quickly as I could manage, and as a result I skipped, ignored, or forgot things that deserved much better focus than they received. In the rewrite, some chapters will be shorter, some story arcs will be longer, and hopefully the story won't be the enormous steaming pile of shit it is right now.

This note is going to be posted at the beginning of both the first and last chapters of the story, and I'll leave it up for approximately a month, so that old and new readers alike will know what's going on. Once a month has passed, I'll be deleting every single chapter except for the first, and I'll begin posting the rewrite.





Ignis Bellator

By Mexicano27

Chapter 1: Forming Teams

Iruka Umino had had a long day. Or at least, that's how it felt to him, even though it was perhaps midmorning at the latest. It was all Naruto's fault, as usual. And as usual, he did his best to stay out of the whole affair as much as he could. Today's "Naruto Catastrophe" had had something to do with him kissing someone, causing almost all of the girls in the class to gang up on him and beat him to a bloody pulp. Iruka had no idea what the hell that was about, but seeing that Naruto wasn't seriously wounded, he simply stayed at his desk.

Today was an especially important day. He had spent the past month cobbling Genin teams together, doing his best to get them nice and balanced so they could have a chance at passing the test their new Jonin instructors would put them through. Despite his efforts, he knew that most of the class was doomed to fail; traditionally, very few teams passed their Jonin's first test. Iruka could admit to himself that he had favored some students over others. He had to, in a sense: why would he put a child with poor motivation and lousy grades in a team with a very competent student? That team would likely end up failing, and the student with the potential would be held back from beginning their ninja career.

Naruto may have had lousy grades, but he was clearly one of the most determined and motivated students in the entire class. In Iruka's opinion, he deserved as much as anyone to begin working as a Genin, and learn what it really meant to be a ninja. Accordingly, Iruka had set up a nice team for the little troublemaker, teaming him up with both Sakura, one of the most intelligent kunoichi in the class, and Sasuke, the most capable student in the class, dubbed by the instructors as the rookie of the year. Put in the same team as those two, Naruto couldn't possibly fail at his Jonin's first test!

It might have been cheating, sort of, but…well, Iruka owed him this much, at least, for having his life saved from Mizuki. Though he had at first thought that letting Naruto graduate the Academy was enough of a reward, he had later realized that it wasn't. Naruto had displayed the skill and resolve required to become a true ninja, and Iruka knew that that was the sort of potential he should do his best to help along. There was no doubt in the instructor's mind that Naruto would grow up to be a highly valuable asset to the village. Giving him skilled teammates wasn't a mere personal favor; the sooner he became a Genin, the sooner he'd succeed in getting promoted, and the more he'd be able to contribute to the Leaf.

Iruka returned his thoughts to the present and got up from his desk. Moving to stand up in front of the class, he saw that most of the students had settled down after the previous uproar. He saw Naruto, looking beaten and dazed, sitting at the same row as his soon-to-be team members. All the better! Naruto was probably already making friends with both of them.

Taking a closer look at Sakura, however, he noted that she was glowering at Naruto. Frowning, he wondered if Sakura had been one of the girls that had been whaling on Naruto earlier. Iruka looked around at the classroom briefly. What girl hadn't been beating up Naruto earlier?

His eyes slid over to a girl with dark hair near the door. She hadn't moved from her seat once since she had arrived. Yup, the Hyuga girl was certainly a funny one. Iruka recalled putting her in the same team as Shino Aburame and Kiba Inuzuka. They all came from renowned clans, so they would probably get along fine. Flawless logic, to be sure.

Well, the class was quiet enough. Iruka addressed them all as he stood before them with his list of teams.

"As of today, you are all ninjas," he began. His speeches always seemed to begin by him stating the obvious. "To get here you have faced difficult trials and hardships. But that's nothing. What comes next will be far more difficult. Now you are only Genin, first-level ninjas. All the Genin will be grouped into three-man squads. Each squad will be led by a Jonin, an elite ninja."

The entire class seemed to be in shock, which confused Iruka. He had figured that the vast majority of the students would have already known this. Hadn't any of their parents told their children old war stories (Naruto and Sasuke excluded, both being orphans)?

Whatever. Iruka cleared his throat and began calling out the teams starting with Team 1.

Eventually, he got to Team 7, Naruto's team.

"Team Seven," he said. "Naruto Uzumaki. Sakura Haruno—" He was interrupted by a loud cheer from Naruto, who had stood up and lifted his arms over his head in elation. Apparently, he was pretty happy about having Sakura in his team; Iruka couldn't help pausing slightly in confusion. He had thought that Sakura might have been at least partly responsible for the thrashing Naruto had just been given, but judging by Naruto's reaction, that wasn't the case. He could scarcely imagine that anyone would actually cheer about the news that they were being placed in a team with someone who had attacked them. He saw that Sakura, for her part, was not happy with this arrangement. She wailed and hung her head in disappointment.

Sighing inwardly, Iruka shook his head slightly as his gaze returned to the list in his hand. He had no idea what was going on between those two, and he wasn't sure he wanted to know.

"Sasuke Uchiha," he finished. This time, Sakura let out an elated cheer of her own, in a fashion very similar to Naruto's. Naruto, unfortunately, was less than happy. Instead of hanging his head in disappointment like Sakura had, though, he had jumped to his feet in rage.

"Iruka-sensei, no!" he bellowed, and the class reeled in shock. "Don't put me in the same team as that jerk!" Naruto looked furious. Iruka was surprised at Naruto's rudeness, but recovered quickly, adopting a stern expression as he narrowed his eyes.

"You were put in the same team as Sasuke because the teams are meant to be balanced, Naruto. Sasuke is the most talented ninja in the class. You, on the other hand, have the worst grades in the entire class." The class erupted into laughter, but Naruto was unfazed.

"I don't care! Sasuke sucks! Put me in a team with someone else, anyone else, please!"

At this, the Chunin's expression softened slightly, his brow furrowing with worry.

"Naruto…" Iruka was now unsure about the arrangement he had thought was so fantastic earlier. If Naruto was acting like this now, how bad would things get with Sasuke further down the line? Would they even stand a chance at passing their Jonin's test if Naruto continued to behave like this?

By now, most of the class had recovered from their surprise at his outburst, with many of them murmuring amongst themselves. Sakura, however, flung herself at Naruto in blind rage and began strangling him, and Naruto's face turned several shades of blue. Sasuke merely glared at the two, clearly not caring one way or another. To Iruka's surprise, another one of his students, Ino Yamanaka, suddenly spoke up.

"I think that Naruto has a point, Iruka-sensei," she said sweetly. "Sasuke doesn't belong in the same team as those two. Why don't you put him in, ummm…you know, someone else's team?" She then flashed Iruka a huge grin, leaving no doubt as to whose team she thought Sasuke should be in. Sakura got up off of Naruto and started yelling, too.

"No sensei, we'll make a perfect team! I mean, I'd be good in a team with Sasuke! Put Naruto in another team, not Sasuke!"

This seemed to get the entire class in another uproar, with students clamoring about how they didn't like someone in their set teams and wanted them switched out for someone they liked better.

Iruka looked around the classroom in desperation. Goddamn it, Naruto!

Naruto had torn his headband off at this point, and had by all appearances stomped on it several times in an outburst of rage; Sakura looked furious and was tearing at her pink hair in a fit. Both of them were screaming something at him, but he couldn't possibly make any of it out. Out of the entire classroom, Iruka saw a mere four students who weren't trying to get their teams changed, or, if their teams had yet to be chosen, trying to tell Iruka exactly who they wanted in their team. The Hyuga girl sat quietly at her corner, and the Aburame boy was behaving in a similar fashion, looking devoid of all emotion. Sasuke still had his hands folded in front of him, and he glared at anyone in his line of sight. In the row above him, Shikamaru Nara was also uninterested by all the commotion…he had fallen asleep.

"Everyone shut up!" Iruka roared. The class immediately quieted down, but Iruka knew that that wouldn't last much longer. Someone would pipe up, and set everyone off all over again. He looked down at his list quickly and desperately.

He skipped past Team 7 and looked at the next person on the list. In his anger, he didn't even bother to think of the consequences that would happen by changing the teams. All he knew was that Naruto and Sasuke would not mix, and he needed to make a firm decision that would stand a chance at working and would shut the rest of the students up.

"Team Seven!" he yelled out angrily, starting over from the beginning. "Naruto Uzumaki, Sakura Haruno, and Hinata Hyuga! That is Team Seven!"

"Y-Yes, sir," said the Hyuga girl softly, so quiet that he could barely hear her. Her compliance was drowned out by Sakura's shriek.

"Iruka-sensei, no!" she screamed, looking as though she were on the verge of tears. Iruka didn't care.

"Shut up!" he yelled at her. "If anyone has any problems with their team, hand me your headband now!" Sakura planted herself down in her seat and said nothing more, but began sobbing.

"Team Eight," he continued with a growl. "Sasuke Uchiha. Kiba Inuzuka. Shino Aburame." Sasuke was from a clan, so maybe his "kids-from-a-clan-get-along-fine thesis" was still valid. None of them seemed to have any problems with their team, but Ino let out a strangled cry.

"Ino, do you want to quit as a ninja?" he asked threateningly. She hung her head and shook it.

"Good," he said. He got past Team 9 with no problems. When he put Ino in the same team as Shikamaru Nara and Choji Akimichi, she groaned out loud, but otherwise made no protest. Iruka couldn't even tell if Shikamaru had been awake to hear his new team.

Iruka looked up at the ceiling and thanked God that everything had worked out fine. He sighed and concentrated once again on more earthly matters.

"After lunch, you'll meet your new Jonin teachers," he said tiredly. "Until then, class dismissed." The students grumpily filed out, most of them unhappy with their squads. Naruto, however, looked perfectly happy with his revised team, a huge grin on his face as he strutted out the door. He better be happy with his team, Iruka thought angrily. After all the trouble I go through for him to try and make sure he passes, he thanks me by yelling at me and getting the entire class rioting…

He returned to his desk and collapsed into his seat.

Naruto still had a chance at passing his Jonin's exam, right? The Hyuga Clan had the Byakugan. And if Hinata was even halfway competent at using the Gentle Fist style, that would make her a dangerous opponent. Yes, Naruto still had a good chance. He managed to convince himself that he had made the right decision in switching Sasuke with Hinata, and calmed down from his earlier panic. Naruto was put in the best team possible now. Sakura was smart, Naruto was strong, and Hinata was…well, he was sure that Hinata had her virtues. The important thing was that she wouldn't be arguing with her teammates.

And even after later learning that Sakura had tried to stab Naruto in a failed attempt to kill him, Iruka was confident that things would work out in the end. They almost always did.


Quote of the Day:

"It is not true that life is one damn thing after another—it is one damn thing over and over."

- Edna St. Vincent Milay