The group continued walking in formation with Naruto in the lead, followed by Tazuna, flanked on either side by Sakura and Sasuke with Kakashi at the rear

The group continued walking in formation with Naruto in the lead, followed by Tazuna, flanked on either side by Sakura and Sasuke with Kakashi at the rear.

"Kakashi-sensei, a lot of powerful shinobi have nicknames right? Can you tell us about some of the most famous and powerful ones?"

It had been about an hour since the confrontation with the Onikyodai and conversation had dried up, the Genin and Tazuna on edge as they grew closer to the coast. Kakashi's occasional perverted giggles and the sounds of nature from the forest surrounding their path thankfully prevented an oppressive silence from taking hold.

"Well, the most powerful ninja are the Kage, or Kage-level shinobi. There aren't many famous ones though; most are only known by high level nin or high ranked individuals. Their skills are simply that good; few are able to learn anything about them."

Sakura's brow furrowed in confusion. "But sensei," she asked, "what about the Shodai and Nidaime? We learn all about them in the academy, and the Yondaime as well."

Kakashi turned a page in his book and giggled before replying, giving Naruto the opportunity to switch notebooks and grab a pen, jotting down notes as they travelled.

"That is because Shodai and Nidaime are very important to the history of Konoha, as is the Yondaime. Even so, very few details are given about their abilities to anyone, despite the fact they are long dead. There is even less information about ninja currently active."

"There must still be information about the most powerful nin, even if it is only rumour." This came, surprisingly, from the arrogant Sasuke, seemingly disinterested in the conversation.

Kakashi eye-smiled, a happy lilt in his voice as he continued his impromptu lesson.

"That's right," he replied, "that is how most shinobi learned about the Yondaime, from rumours of Konoha no Kiiroi Senkō and his description. Even so, most shinobi know nothing about his techniques or how the jutsu that earned him that nickname works or even how it was used. The most information you will find on any shinobi will be from the bingo books which usually only list threat levels and specializations of any individual."

This time it was Naruto who prompted the Jounin to continue with a pointed statement.

"You still haven't told us about the famous ones yet sensei, or their techniques."

Kakashi waved one hand in a placating manor.

"Gomen, I got a little distracted," he said cheerfully. A thoughtful look crossed his face for a moment before he continued.

"Hmm, since Konoha has most information on our own nin, I'll tell you a little about ones from other countries. Let's start with Suna, since they are currently our allies.

"Their most famous Kage would be the Sandaime Kazekage. He was also the most powerful. He was able to use his chakra to control magnetic forces and used the ability to manipulate Iron Sand, Satetsu. It's rumored he based the ability on a technique used by the Ichibi no Shukaku.

"The second most famous nin from Sunagakure is Akasuna no Sasori, the legendary puppet master. Using chakra strings with such control and precision he could manipulate over one hundred puppets simultaneously in battle. Currently Sasori is an S-class missing nin exiled for using a Kinjutsu to create puppets from human bodies that retain the abilities of who they were in life."

Sakura blanched at the thought of being turned into a puppet and dancing around in one of those little festival booths as an evil shadow loomed overhead pulling her strings.

"On the other side of Nami no Kuni is Mizu no Kuni, where Kirigakure is based. Their most powerful and famous nin are the Kiri no Shinobigatana Nananin Shu. Seven shinobi swordsmen, each with a different specialty, all of them are Jounin level or higher. If you want to know more, check the Bingo book once we get back to Konoha."

"Wait a minute; you said something about all the Hokage except the Sandaime. You can't leave out the current Hokage like that, tell us something about him. I mean, he's so old he must have gotten some kind of reputation," Sakura said, her head cocked in curiosity and a thoughtful look on her face.

"Maa, you don't know? And I though you had the best test scores of your class," Kakashi teased playfully.

"The Sandaime is probably the most feared ninja alive. In his prime he was known as Shinobi no Kami, his other nickname being The Professor. He not only knows all the jutsu in Konoha, he has also mastered them to the point he can modify and combine them on the spot and knows the tactical advantages and disadvantages of any technique in a given situation. His three students are known as the Densetsu no Sannin, each one a Kage-level nin, and the Sandaime is a better ninja than all three and has survived two Great Ninja Wars. It's because of his presence that Konoha has become the strongest of the hidden villages."

"Wow," was all Sakura could say, a sentiment shared by the others of their little group. Who knew that kind old Sarutobi was so powerful?

Conversation petered out shortly thereafter as they arrived at the shore, a light mist rolling in off the sea obscuring their vision slightly. A silhouette of a man standing on a small canoe like boat coalesced from the deeper mist out to sea, slowly resolving into the form of the ferryman who would be serving as the party's transport to Wave, the gentle sound of waves lapping at the side of the small fishing trawler accompanied him as he coasted to shore.

"Yo Tazuna! Bout time you got here, you flea-bitten son of a deckhouse whore! I've been waiting half an hour."

Tazuna seemed unperturbed by the ferryman's coarse words and sour face, clapping him on the back in a friendly manner.

"Ha ha, quit complaining you old sea-dog, I know you love any excuse to get out onto the water and out from under the thumb of that wife of yours."

The "old sea-dog" grinned at that. Or maybe he grimaced, it was hard to tell from his weathered and age lined face. Looking at the Konoha-nin the man snorted derisively before turning back to the bridge builder.

"This what you went to Konoha for? A bunch o' diaper wearin' gaki? They're barely more'n a stain on their daddy's drawers and probly twice as useless!" the two old men laughed a bit at that, seeming to find the Genin's reactions hilarious.

Sakura's face went red with fury at the insult as she silently fumed, fists clenching and unclenching at her side, her eyebrow twitching sporadically.

Sasuke grunted in annoyance, his face twisting into a derisive sneer-or maybe he was just constipated?-before returning to his brooding.

Naruto tucked away his book and pen into the inner pocket of his coat and calmly stepped into the boat before addressing the two laughing men.

"A bunch of diaper wearing gaki to protect an old drunkard and his toothless and impotent ferryman? Seems about right. Especially with the two of you needing your own diapers."

Once the two men had stopped spluttering from outrage the group shoved off from the shore, quietly slipping into the mist and disappearing from view.

"Wow, I've never seen a bridge that big before!" Sakura gasped as the group passed within meters of the incomplete and unnamed bridge that would (once completed) join the land of wave to the mainland.

The rest of the group agreed, even Kakashi impressed at such a massive undertaking. Naruto didn't think it was anything special. Once you had seen monoliths that took lifetimes to build, feats of architecture that more resembled art than any building has a right to, a simple bridge (whatever the size) just doesn't compare.

What impressed Naruto was that Tazuna had been able to build the bridge despite the poor state of Nami no Kuni. It would have taken a great deal of work and sacrifice on behalf of all involved and it increased his respect for the people of the island exponentially.

"Keep it down," the ferryman (whose name no one seemed interested in, hence it hadn't come up) whispered harshly, "Gato's got boats patrolin' all over. If one of em' catches us we're done for."

A subdued hush fell over the boat as everyone stared ahead towards their destination. It was several minutes before the silence was once again broken by the gnarled old sailor.

"'Ere we are. I'll 'ave ta drop ya off in the mangroves. I can't risk takin' ya any farther than this," he said regretfully as the mist thinned ahead, revealing that the small boat had reached shore in a mangrove glade, just as the man said.

Tazuna smiled as he stepped out onto shore after his escort, giving the ferryman a friendly pat on the shoulder.

"It's alright old friend, you've done more than I should have asked from you. Thank you for bringing us this far."

The old man waved it off with a chuckle as he paddled his boat silently back into the mist, quickly disappearing from view.

"Anythin' ta get away from the missus!"

Half an hour later found Team Seven and their client walking quietly down a dirt road towards Tazuna's house. Everyone was on edge, the mist dampening sound and giving an eerie feeling of anticipation to the travellers. Kakashi had even tucked away his ever present book, though that could have been to avoid water damage from the moisture in the air.

The alert look in Naruto's eyes sharpened momentarily as he passed a bush several metres ahead of the rest of the group, the sound of metal imbedding itself in wood alerting the rest of the team to something amiss.

"What was that?" Sakura asked nervously.

"Hn," Sasuke grunted, his attention focused on the bush as he approached, kunai held in a defensive position, Sakura hovering at his back as though seeking his protection. Upon reaching the bush, the pair took a deep breath before moving aside the obscuring shrubbery.

'A rabbit?'

There, petrified in fear, sat a snow hare, a slim five inch long kunai-little more than a dart-embedded into the wood between it's ears, scant millimetres from its scalp.

"Oh you poor rabbit! Look what that nasty Naruto did you, he almost scared you to death," Sakura cooed sickeningly to the trembling bunny.

'That is a snow hare; it shouldn't have a white coat this time of year unless it has been raised indoors. It must have been trained for Kawirami. It looks like our next opponents are going to show themselves soon.'

Sharpening his focus to prepare for imminent attack, Kakashi tucked away the fact that he hadn't seen Naruto move, let alone throw the kunai. Not to mention the boy had sensed the hidden ninja when Kakashi himself hadn't.

The repetitive chopping whoosh of displaced air was the first indication they had of something amiss.

Kakashi's eyes widened as he dived forwards, dragging Sakura and Tazuna to the ground even as he shouted his warning.

"Get down!"

Sasuke reacted instinctively as he followed the Jounin's instructions just in time for a huge Zanbato to fly from the surrounding mist, barely missing the crouched figures as it passed through the area they had previously occupied.

Naruto, on the other hand, merely stared down the spinning blade impassively. As it grew closer to his position he calculated the timing before stepping directly into it's path, grabbing hold of the hilt and allowing it to drag him a few steps as he bled out the Zanbato's momentum, coming to a stop with the blade resting casually across his shoulders, the hilt held firm in his right hand.

"Hehehe. That's pretty impressive gaki. There aren't many who can even lift Kubikiri Houcho, let alone catch it."

The groups attention was drawn to the source of the voice casually standing with arms folded across his chest as he stood on one of the lower branches of a tree several metres ahead of them.

The figure was tall, taller than any in the party by several inches and dressed as a shinobi. Winter camouflage pants and arm warmers with standard shinobi sandals completed his atire, leaving his chest bare. His face and neck was covered in bandages up to the bridge of his nose, hiding his expression from view and serving as a form of mask similar to Kakashi's. Atop his head sat an off kilter Hitaiate bearing the symbol of Kirigakure with a solid slash bisecting it through the centre, marking him as a Nuke-nin. His grey skin gave him an almost death like appearance, as though he were a spirit returned to take vengeance upon the world.

"I see, you are Momochi Zabuza, Nuke-nin of Kirigakure no Saito."

Kakashi's voice was deceptively nonchalant as he stood from his crouched position, the others quickly following his lead as they scrambled to their feet.

"And you are the infamous Copycat Nin, Sharingan no Kakashi."

The two groups faced off silently before Zabuza chuckled, uncrossing his arms and letting them hang loosely.

"I'm afraid I have to kill the old man."

Tazuna began to sweat from the mild killing intent that leaked from the seemingly relaxed Nuke-nin.

"But I guess I'll have to kill you first."

Kakashi was completely focused upon his opponent as he reached one hand up to his Hitaiate and pushed it aside to reveal his Sharingan eye.

'How can he have the Sharingan? Is he an Uchiha?' Sasuke thought, his frustration and confusion making him agitated.

"Ah, the Sharingan, I feel flattered to see it so soon."

Zabuza seemed amused and reeked of anticipation for the upcoming battle.

"What is this 'Sharingan'?" Naruto asked Kakashi casually, still staring directly at Zabuza, his stance unchanged since catching the enemy nin's Zanbato.

It was Sasuke who answered.

"It is a Doujutsu that can see through all Gen, Nin and Tai Jutsu, also negating them. In addition it allows the user to copy an opponent's techniques instantly."

Zabuza chuckled.

"Exactly. Horrifying, don't you think? Now let us begin."

In an instant Zabuza blurred from his position in the tree to the surface of the nearby lake, standing atop the water with his hands in a broken ram seal, his left hand raised above his head whilst his right was held at chest height as he charged the water beneath his feet with chakra, water being kicked up into a spiral around his form from the force of the technique.

'What is he doing?'

Almost as soon as the question entered Kakashi's mind it was answered.

"Kirigakure no Jutsu."

A dense mist rose from the lake, quickly covering the area and reducing visibility. Zabuza's form seemed to disappear, fading from view as the mist thickened, a single leaf drifting down to the surface of the water where he had been standing.

"Sensei, who is he?" Sakura's hands trembled slightly from nerves as she spoke, kunai held defensively in a double handed grip as she and Sasuke fell into the defensive formation they were taught at the Academy, protecting Tazuna.

"His name is Momochi Zabuza, former member of the Kiri no Shinobigatana Nananin Shu. He specialises in silent killing. Make sure to watch each-other's backs in the mist."

The unusually serious response from their sensei caused Sakura to swallow thickly as she nervously watched the thickening mist, eyes darting from one side to another. Sasuke stood impassively, seemingly unmoved by the Jounin's warning.

'Finally, a true test of my strength!'

Naruto remained motionless; his head lowered slightly, his eyes obscured from view by his hat and Zabuza's sword draped casually over his shoulder still.

"Larynx, spine, lungs, liver, jugular vein, sub-clavicle artery, kidney and heart."

The words echoed hauntingly in the mist, sending shivers of fear down the spine of Tazuna and his two protectors.

"So many points to choose from, how should I kill you? But first, I'll be taking back my sword gaki."

By now the mist had grown so dense that visibility was cut to no more than three feet in any direction, isolating Naruto and Kakashi from the rest of their group and each other as effectively as a brick wall.

In an instant Naruto became a whirl of motion, the stolen zanbato twirling and spinning around his body skillfully, appearing as a hurricane of steel to deflect the storm of kunai and shuriken attacking him from all directions.

A subtle twist of his foot caused a sudden change in momentum as he spun and lashed out at a point directly behind his previous position, sparks flying with a screech of metal on metal as the force of his blow was brought to a stop.

Zabuza chuckled darkly even as he struggled for dominance against the unknown Genin that had the nerve to take his blade.

"I see. It seems you have some skill to wield Kubikiri Houcho so easily."

Naruto smiled beneath his mask, his eyes matching stare for stare with the Nuke-nin unflinchingly, each nin's cold eyes filled with the promise of death.

"I admit; the name is fitting, but your blade is…somewhat lacking."

Doubtless the contest of wills would have continued had the two not been interrupted by the appearance of Kakashi stabbing a kunai into Zabuza's side. For a few seconds the three stood still, a sense of anticipation filling the air before Zabuza chuckled darkly.

"Fool, you can't kill me so easily."

With that the Mizu Bunshin dissolved into water. Kakashi barely had time for his eyes to widen in surprise before he was slashed in half by a kunai, he too dissolving into water and revealing himself as a mere water clone, leaving Zabuza to stare in momentary amazement at the puddle lying at his feet.

'He copied my technique through the mist!? Incredible.'

The moment of distraction was all it took for a presence to make itself known behind him as Kakashi appeared in a burst of speed holding a kunai casually against the Nuke-nin's throat in a backhand grip, ready to slice through his neck at a moments notice.

"Looks like I win Zabuza."

The swordsman snorted derisively as he stood calmly with the blade at his throat threatening death at his enemy's whim. Turning his head slightly he looked at Kakashi from the corner of his eye.

"You think it's so easy? You don't get it. You can't defeat me, with your monkey-like imitations!"

With that his form lost shape, quickly losing cohesion as the water forming his body burst apart and splashed to the ground, revealing him to be another Mizu Bunshin.

Without delay, given no time to react, Kakashi found himself on the receiving end of a devastating kick; his body sent flying several metres through the mist to land in the water of the lake.

Quickly struggling to the surface, the Jounin took a moment to gather himself before rejoining the battle.

'Wait a minute, the water… it's too heavy; I can hardly move!'

A sinister voice spoke from above his position and he knew the fight was over; he had lost.

"Suirou no Jutsu."

'That baka.'

Naruto was annoyed.

Looking at the form of his imprisoned sensei he couldn't help but wonder how anyone so lax could survive to reach such a high rank as shinobi.

'Seriously, I knew something was up as soon as that leaf touched the water without a ripple. How can you not notice the water acting like jelly?'

"Now I'll take care of your cute little students. I'll deal with you later."

Zabuza was obviously enjoying the fear in the air as he had allowed the mist to mostly dissipate, allowing him to see the expressions on the Genin's faces.

"Take Tazuna and run! He can't move whilst holding the prison!"

Kakashi's shout merely served to reaffirm the group's resolve, determination spreading across the faces of Team Seven.

"One who abandons their teammates is worse than trash, right sensei?" Sasuke stated rhetorically with a slight smirk on his face as his confidence returned.

"Regardless of our chances against Zabuza, we still have to save our sensei. We wouldn't be very good subordinates if we didn't," Naruto concurred, Sakura nodding along with her teammates.

Zabuza laughed darkly.

"Look at these cute little genin playing at being ninja. In my bingo book is listed all the most dangerous targets from every hidden village. Until you get in that book, all you are is a bunch of gaki! So run, run and hide from the Kirigakure no Kijin!"

Kakashi paled visibly within his prison.

"So it was you…"

Sakura looked confused and frightened as she spoke up.

"Kakashi-sensei, what are you talking about?"

The Jounin's eyes sharpened as he re-focused his attention on his prison, more desperate than ever to break the technique and protect his students.

"Twenty years ago there was a tradition in Kirigakure that earned it the nickname Bloody Mist. The tradition was an exam with a fifty percent failure rate where students were paired off in a fight to the death, with the prize being the title of Genin."

Kakashi's eyes flickered briefly towards Zabuza before he continued.

"The practice was discontinued when a child, not even a member of the Academy, slaughtered the years graduating class. Over one-hundred genin candidates died. That person became known as the Kirigakure no Kijin."

Renewed fear appeared within the eyes of those listening, though Naruto seemed unaffected by the story as the missing nin gained a look of reminiscence in his eyes.

"Ah, good times. To feel their blood coating my hands, staining my soul red. I miss it."

Naruto was annoyed.

Although the fear tactics were obviously working on the other three still functioning members of the party, he found them easily poked apart with a little logic.

It was obvious that the only ones with any chance against the nuke-nin were himself and Kakashi. Even a simple Mizu Bunshin could easily take care of the other members of the group from what he had seen, despite its obvious weakness compared to the real thing. So why didn't Zabuza do so? Why try to scare them off?

To Naruto it was simple. It was for the exact same reason as Kakashi was helping the missing nin in his scare tactics. Both did so in the hope that the group would flee, removing the need for them to be eliminated. Neither of the Jounin wished to be responsible for the death of defenceless or near defenceless children.


Everyone turned to face him in surprise, the tension broken by the suddenness of the sound.

"I'm tired of listening to your puerile attempts to scare us off. Kakashi-sensei, I will free you shortly. Zabuza, prepare yourself."

Striding forward at a steady pace, Naruto neared the edge of the lake. For a moment everyone thought he was going to wade into the water to reach his target or possibly walk across the surface of the water in the same manner as the two Jounin.

Neither were correct.

As soon as Naruto's foot touched down on the surface of the water, it froze solid. With each step he took, the ice spread faster until, by the time he stood a mere two metres from Zabuza's shocked form the entire lake was frozen solid apart from the hovering ball of the Suirou no Jutsu. Zabuza recovered quickly, using some of the remaining mist to form a Mizu Bunshin to maintain the water prison whilst he walked forward to confront his opponent.

'This kid… he's something else. To freeze the entire lake like that, with no effort at all… he could be even better than Haku.'

Stopping his approach just outside the reach of his zanbato, Zabuza assessed his new opponent coldly, as only an ANBU can.

'No visible weapons but he was able to toss that kunai earlier without being seen. Haku barely got out in time. So he has weapons hidden on his body and his speed is going to be dangerous.'

"You know, all your intimidation tactics are really annoying."

Zabuza chuckled. He seems to do that a lot.

"You think so, eh gaki?" his head tilted backwards slightly, though his eyes never left Naruto's own, giving the nuke-nin a slightly unhinged look. "Better ninja than you have fallen prey to my techniques. Even now I can taste the fear in the air from your team-mates."

Naruto casually looks back over his shoulder at Sasuke and Sakura standing back from the shore, protecting Tazuna, almost inviting Zabuza to attack whilst his guard is down. He doesn't.

Turning back to the missing nin, Naruto continues to speak casually, though there is an intensity, a focus in his voice that belies his façade.

"So your techniques work on rookies and old men. Psychological battle might decide your conflicts with other shinobi, but not with me. Where I come from there is only one way to solve a situation where two fighters meet at odds with one another."

The air is thick with bloodlust and killing intent as Zabuza shifts slightly, preparing himself for battle as his senses scream at the threat that stands before him.

"Oh, and what is that?"

Naruto's movement is almost a blur as he strikes with a diagonal slash, Kubikiri Houcho cleaving a jagged crater in the ice as it impacts the former location of the Kirigakure no Kijin.

"Mortal combat."

'How can he be so far above me?! He wasn't this powerful when we took the bell test!'

Observing the fight from the shore it was clear that Naruto had the advantage. In addition to being able to keep pace with the enemy Jounin without any apparent effort, Zabuza was having difficulty manoeuvring around an opponent that displayed such skill with a Zanbato whilst he himself was deprived of his primary weapon.

It pissed Sasuke off.

'I need this power!'

'Damn it! This kid is good,' Zabuza thought, barely avoiding a blow that would have cut his head in half. If he were to be honest, his current opponent was far more than merely "good." He was better than Zabuza himself at utilising Kubikiri Houcho, able to flow from attack to defence and alter the blades momentum more effectively than Zabuza had ever been able to.

'It's like facing Sensei all over again…'

A little know fact about the Shinobigatana Nananin Shu; most of them were not primarily swordsman. Zabuza himself was an assassination expert and swordsmanship (especially the kind involving a blade like Kubikiri Houcho) had never been one of his strong points.

Until he entered the ranks of the Shinobigatana. At that point he and the others selected for the legendary squad were trained by the greatest swordsman in Kiri, a man who dedicated his entire life to the art of the sword.

The mountain air was cool and crisp, the mist at this altitude constant from the hot-springs dotting the peak, though they did little to stave of the dangerous cold. Lesser men had been frozen solid, statues of ice a testament to the power of the elements as they failed to reach the summit where there could be found a temple of rich woodwork, pristine and almost glowing with an ethereal strength.

It was within the walls of this temple that Zabuza found himself kneeling before a weak old man, his back bent from age, he used a sheathed katana to support himself as he hobbled around the seven men kneeling in respect before him that would in the future be known as the Shinobigatana.

White robes clad his body, loose and flowing in the manner of a warrior to facilitate ease of movement, his pristinely flowing white hair and long, narrow beard almost seeming to meld into the material. Eyes an unusual bright green sat like chips of hard emerald in his aged and lined face, the strong cast of his features almost that of nobility. This was a man who wore his age with pride, as testament to his skill and dedication to his art.

"You have come here to learn from me the way of the blade." The old man spoke firmly, his voice commanding respect and obedience even from these men, trained killers all, though his voice was quite. "Each of you has their own specialty. Physical combat, deception, manipulation of the elements and others besides and as such each of you will choose a blade or set of weapons from my collection to suit your own style. At the end of your training you will forge your own blade as an extension of your body and soul. At that point you will leave this place and never return lest I strike you down myself."

Zabuza seethed in anger at the threat. Who was this old fool to threaten him, Kirigakure no Kijin, whose hands were stained with blood? He should fear and respect him!

Those kneeling beside him seemed to feel the same as the killing intent within rose up like a tsunami, ready to crush the old man in an instant should he falter even slightly.

The old man smiled coldly as he unleashed his own aura, squashing the killing intent down with the sheer presence of his hidden power, the shinobi left trembling in a combination of fear and shock in the aftermath. Such power! They were as sheep to the wolf when compared to this man.

"From this point onwards you shall address me as Master. When I believe you have earned the right, you will cal me Sensei. Never will you speak my name, nor learn it, until you have defeated me and are deemed worthy."

The first time the Sensei had shown him the potential of his chosen weapon it had been something like this. No matter what he tried, Zabuza was unable to do more than keep pace with his opponent in melee combat.

'Time to change things up a bit.'

Leaping back from the most recent exchange of blows, Zabuza cast his damaged kunai at Naruto, stalling his pursuit as his hands flashed through a set of hand-seals.

"Suiton: Suiryuudan no Jutsu!"

Naruto stopped his approach five metres from the focused Jounin, awaiting the attack.

Nothing happened.

Zabuza's eyes bulged out as he ran through a new set of seals, pumping more chakra into it than before.

"Suiton: Daibakufuu no Jutsu!"

Once again the technique failed.

"Having trouble Zabuza?"

The offhand comment put the Nuke-nin on guard as he settled into a defensive stance, two kunai held in reverse grip in his hands.

"What the hell is going on?! What did you do to me?" Zabuza roared.

Naruto hurled Kubikiri Houcho into the ice between himself and the Nuke-nin before answering, half of the blade disappearing beneath the surface of the lake as it came to rest.

"When you first used the Kirigakure no Jutsu you didn't just perform the technique. You embedded massive amounts of your chakra into the water to make it easier for you to manipulate into your jutsu."

The Jounin was surprised at this answer, most didn't notice the difference.

'That shouldn't matter! If anything it should make it easier to perform my techniques, not render them useless! Unless…'

Narrowing his eyes at the Genin that had somehow managed to go toe to toe with him till now the Kirigakure no Kijin's eyes widened in understanding. Naruto nodded in response, seeing no reason to explain further now that Zabuza had figured it out.

'He froze the lake to the floor, overpowering my Chakra with his own in the process. Otherwise there would be no way for him to freeze the whole lake and I would still be able to use the water imbued with my chakra no matter the distance separated by ice. I never had a chance in this battle.'

It was with this thought that Zabuza attempted to reclaim his lost sword in a last ditch effort to take down his opponent. He might not survive the exchange, but at least he would go down fighting.

Naruto made no move to stop the desperate Nuke-nin, instead waiting calmly as his opponent approached as little more than a blur to the watching Gennin, ripping his sword from its place as he went.

With a roar of defiance, Zabuza swung Kubikiri Houcho recklessly in an attempt to cut his enemy in half.

Zabuza, in his hast and recklessness, choreographed his movements to the point it was child's play for Naruto to complete his finishing move. Even as the Kirigakure no Kijin reared back his blade, Naruto pivoted on his foot, spinning into a crouch as he cut the distance between the two combatants, slipping beneath Zabuza's guard, seeming to almost slide across the ice as lightening crackled across his form. Once he was in position, mere centimeters before the two would collide, Naruto struck.

A solid bolt of lightening struck from betwixt Naruto's hands, held still in the Dragon Claw position with wrists touching as the lightening bolt slammed Zabuza into a tree and through it, continuing on through the forest for twenty metres before his flight was brought to a stop against a large tree, his impact leaving a large dent in the wood as the lightening still pressed into him for a half second before the beam of energy connecting Naruto's hands to the Nuke-nin's body dissipated, small arks of static left flowing across Zabuza's body causing him to twitch spasmodically as he fell to the ground with a groan.

Those same small arcs of electricity dancing between his fingers didn't seem to bother Naruto in the slightest as he casually rose from his crouched position.

"Rairyuu no Tsume."

An unnatural still silence befell the area, as though the world held its breath in awe a moment from the Gennin's actions.

With a splash of water the moment was broken as the Mizu Bunshin maintaining Kakashi's prison dissipated, leaving him soaking wet and freezing, but otherwise unharmed as he recovered from his shock at his student's actions and moved over to finish of the incapacitated Zabuza.

Or at least he would have had he not been brought up short by a pair of senbon needles doing the job for him.


Half an hour later found Team Seven and their client walking quietly down a dirt road towards Tazuna's house. Everyone was on edge, the mist dampening sound and giving an eerie feeling of anticipation to the travellers. Kakashi had even tucked away his ever present book, though that could have been to avoid water damage from the moisture in the air.

The alert look in Naruto's eyes sharpened momentarily as he passed a bush several metres ahead of the rest of the group, the sound of metal imbedding itself in wood alerting the rest of the team to something amiss.

"What was that?" Sakura asked nervously.

"Hn," Sasuke grunted, his attention focused on the bush as he approached, kunai held in a defensive position, Sakura hovering at his back as though seeking his protection. Upon reaching the bush, the pair took a deep breath before moving aside the obscuring shrubbery.

"Eh, what's up doc?"

There frozen with one foot in the air in the act of creeping along, long ears drooped either side of it's head with a kunai scant centimetres from it's nose was a seven foot tall rabbit, dressed in standard black and dark green jounin uniform, carrots taking the place of kunai on it's hip holster and a Hitaiate with the Warner Brothers logo tied to it's forehead.

Kakashi couldn't help slapping his face at the stupidity of it all as two of his students were drawn into an argument with the wisecracking Bugs Bunny, an argument that they were thoroughly losing by the sounds of things.

"I can just see the lawsuits coming now."

Sometimes it just doesn't pay to roll out of bed in the morning.

That omake just wouldn't leave me alone. It was like a recurring dream every time I tried to work on this chapter.

Just out of curiosity, does anyone else think that Suna (according to Kishimoto-baka's description and explanation of chakra) should be the most powerful village ever? I mean, they have Fuuton as a specialty, which implies a higher average of wind nature chakra users. Wind nature chakra that can cut a molecule in half (apparently). They have puppeteers, masters of the use of chakra strings, invisible (remember, only nifty doujutsu and magic anime cameras can see chakra) strings that can be used to manipulate physical objects from a mid-long range of distance. Combine the two… "HOLY SHIT I JUST CHOPPED MY PUPPET INTO ITTY BITTY PIECES FROM TWENTY METRES AWAY USING FUCK ALL CHAKRA. Let's see if I can't do it again."

If you like that idea, run with it. I wouldn't mind seeing it used in a story.

Ok, Today's rant-Misuse of the ranking system in fanfics. This really pisses me off for some reason. I mean, I get that you want to make your character seem powerful by giving them a high ranking in the bingo book, but for that ranking to mean anything the other characters have to treat it like it has meaning. Some of you are probably going "What the fuck is this dude talking about?"

Let me break it down for you:

Onikyodai are Chuunin specialised in tag team tactics and with a reputation for not stopping till their target is down or their mission accomplished. They are bloodthirsty, violent and borderline psychotic. They also like poisoning their weapons meaning even a scratch is potentially fatal. These two are C-RANK MISSING NIN (or Nuke-nin if you prefer)

Zabuza, the Kirigakure no Kijin (Demon of the Hidden Mist) who slaughtered over one hundred Genin potentials before even entering the academy, is a former ANBU specialised in stealth and assassination. He attempted a coup de etat on the Mizukage and is also a former member of the elite group of Kiri no Shinobigatana Nananin Shu (Seven Shinobi Swordsmen of the Mist). He is an A-RANK MISSING NIN.

Kisame, formerly of the Kiri no Shinobigatana Nananin Shu, killed (or attempted to kill, I can't really remember the exact cause of his Nuke-nin status) the Daimyo of Mizu no Kuni, killing many ANBU in the process of his escape, (most likely for the fun of it). Owns a Chakra devouring sword that shaves/grates anything it comes in contact with. He is sadistic, bloodthirsty and psychotic with his specialties being Kenjutsu and Ninjutsu; he is highly powerful, if not Kage level than at least well above Jounin or ANBU class. He is an S-RANK MISSING NIN.

Ok, you can see how they fit in the rankings easily enough right? I even used guys from the same village for better comparison. The other characters all also treat them appropriately.

D-RANK-Low threat level, basically negligible unless you are a civilian.

C-RANK-Mildly Dangerous, low threat level, some caution may be necessary.

B-RANK-Dangerous, Caution advised.

A-RANK-High Danger, Proceed with caution. Avoid if possible. Backup recommended.


So with that in mind, if I remember correctly the ONLY SS-rank shinobi in canon was the Yondaime (if not he fucking should have been, even if he is only a one trick pony, that is one fuck you up trick). His Bingo book entry is very simple regardless.


So fucking simple. Very easy to understand the ranking system, something any ninja could comprehend, which is the exact reason it is so simple-it is easy to remember and gives a guideline for any encounters involving those individuals that can help a shinobi decide on a course of action. All of this makes sense so far right? Good.

SO WHY THE FUCK DO YOU BRAINLESS PIECES OF MAGGOT INFESTED, GOAT SODOMISING, TWISTED FREAKS GO AND GIVE YOUR FUCKING A-RANK AT BEST CHARACTER SS-RANK AND THEN HAVE EVERY HIPPY HOMO TREE HUGGING LIMP DICK SHIT EATER AND THEIR PARAPLEGIC TRANSVESTITE PROSTITUTE FUCK BUDDY DECIDE "oh, this guy has a ridiculously large bounty on his head and is marked as an SS-rank nin, the only other one of which wiped out an entire shinobi army single handed and defeated the most powerful demon to walk the earth. It should be fun to fight them, kill them and collect the bounty. Failing that, let's fuck with him and see if we can manipulate/use them for our own gain. It should be easy, entertaining and not at all dangerous. Ha-ha. Chuckle-snort."

Yeah, right. Dumbass.

If you want to see a fic that does this right and doesn't fuck it up, look for fics that have naruto as a puppeteer, over 40,000 words. One of them (can't remember right now which one, it being 4:20am and all, oh wait I'll go look now)

Puppet Master Naruto by SerpentSannin rocks hard and does S-Rank Naruto in the best way you are likely to see. Go read it and his Harry Potter story. Awesomely cool is all I can say about both stories. It makes me giddy every time I see a new chap for his HP one. Trembly with excitement even.

Rairyuu no Tsume(Claw of the Lightning Dragon)-This technique is utilised by the user crouching low and spinning rapidly as they approach their opponent. Using the friction created by this movement, static can be created and amplified using lightening natured chakra to coat the body in a negative charge of electricity. This gives protection as it will stun any opponent who manages to interrupt this stage of the attack. The static charge is also used to create a "sliding" effect that decreases the distance between the user and opponent rapidly with surprising speed and can also be used to increase the speed of rotation to generate more force for the attack and with the crouched position get in beneath an enemy's guard. Disguised as a taijutsu move, any attempt to dodge or block the attack at this point is mostly futile as the spinning motion gives a near instantaneous 360 degree targeting radius and the ranged nature of the technique means that an opponent cannot simply step back from the blow and remain unharmed.

Kirigakure no Jutsu(Hidden Mist Technique)-Creates a thick, dense mist/fog.

Suirou no Jutsu(Water Prison Technique)- Creates a sphere of chakra laden water that makes it impossible for the one trapped inside it to move or breath. This technique needs physical contact with creator or a clone of the creator to maintain.