Human beings kill for many different reasons, it could be for food, for money or even fame. People kill over differences in beliefs and over differences on maps. I don't kill for any of those reasons. I kill to feel alive, to feel anything. The adrenaline pumping through my veins, the smell of blood and steel in the air, they give me sensation in my own numb world.

And right now that feeling is more intense than I've ever felt it! The normally cool steel in my hand has been heated quickly by my body heat as I watch the empty streets before me. The thought of what I'm about to do hypnotizes and excites me; every move I am to make I've planned out in my head, the order, the method, everything within my power has been planned out and thought through.

Despite my enthusiasm for my task, I'm not out on my own tonight. This night, I'm an agent of my village, tasked with sending a message to it's enemies. A message I've been instructed to write in blood and post publicly.

My targets are not particularly evil men, though they are far from innocent. They've never killed, raped, molested or abused anyone, at least, not directly. Yet these five people, four men and a woman, have blood on their hands. My first target it in a lavish hotel room below me, sleeping off the handover he gave himself earlier on in the night.

Gaining entrance to Takanabe-san's hotel room was as simple as picking the lock, a sure sign that this town didn't deal with ninja very often. Yamamoto Takanabe was a fat man who enjoyed spending the millions he had inherited from his rich father on food, drink and women. Tonight was one of the rare times when his bed wasn't shared with one hooker or another and I was going to take full advantage of that.

I stand over his snoring mass and contemplate where to cut him first...the choices delight me as they race through my mind before my arm acts almost on its own. My first knife embeds itself into his throat, perpendicular with the mattress. Takanabe's eyes peel open and his mouth gapes wide, but no sound will come from him. Before he can reach for the first blade, my next two pin his hands to the headboard and I feel my heart race as I watch his silent final moments. The only sound in the room is the occasional dripping noise as the mattress becomes super saturated and cannot contain all the liquid that I'm spilling onto it as well as the comforting ticking of my watch.

It takes just over three and a half minutes for the fat man to bleed out, and I close my eyes and breath deeply for the first time since I entered his room. The feeling is purely cathartic, but I have to hold onto some of my desire, I have my trophies to collect and four more to add tonight.

Sneaking into the hallway, I'm held up for a moment by the sight of a drunk couple, room door half ajar, ripping each other's clothes off and grasping at each other's bodies as if they were drowning.

It was sickening.

Once I'm back on the roof, it's just a matter of leaping onto a lamp post and then swinging hand over hand across the street on a banner advertising the grand opening of a new barbecue stand. I'm across the empty streets in no time and making my way down the rear of my second victim's store. I know every brick of this store, every nuance of the wall I'm walking down. I've been watching all my victims for days now, a luxury I do not always have. Yukitake Arata's store was well kept, the floors were cleaned daily and the shelves stocked at the end of business every night. Sure, the laundry detergent might have been a bit pricey, but on average, the goods were of outstanding quality and reasonably priced.

Arata slept on the second floor, directly above his cash registers. He was in good health and though he was beginning to gray a bit, considered handsome by the women of the town. Had he cared for anything besides his store, maybe he would have found someone to love, but alas, the store was Arata's wife and mistress. The trek from his rear door, up the stairs and into his room was made longer by the pounding of the blood in my ears. I felt the adrenaline return to my system and the ecstasy begin to build.

His breathing is deep and even, beneath his eyelids I can see the movement of REM sleep and wonder about exactly what he's dreaming. Whatever he saw, I doubt is was a eight inch chef's knife being driven into his heart. His final breath rattles against the hand I have clasped over his mouth but his eyes do not open. There isn't even enough time to retrieve my time keeper, I've killed him too quickly, a cardinal sin for sure, but as I said, tonight isn't all about me.

After quickly taking my prizes, I'm back out the door and onto victim three on the night. Soujiro and Nina Hiroto have been married for nearly five years now, but their careers have kept them from having children just yet. Perhaps it is for the best, now I won't be orphaning any children when I kill them. He is a lawyer, in a town this size he's one of only a handful, so while his specialty is defense, depending on the situation he has been called on to represent the public on a number of occasions. Nina refers to herself as a gardener, but in reality, she's a stay-at-home mother with no children to raise.

They live in a moderately priced two story home just outside the main square of town, Only a ten minute walk from Ukitake's store. Living outside the city, even just this little bit, must have made the couple feel safe, because they never bothered to lock the back door when they turned in for the night, not that it would have changed this particular outcome. For whatever reason, the master bedroom was on the bottom floor, Nina had turned the up stairs into a hope office/library and was quite pleased with herself.

My first stop inside their home was the kitchen, I needed to borrow a couple of their knives for this. Once I had what I needed, I stole towards their bed, taking a moment to commit their sleeping forms to memory before I started. I moved to the left side of the bed and watched Soujiro's deep breathing. For some reason, the rise and fall of his chest became hypnotizing and my own respirations began to mimic his. In and out, inhale, exhale. So melodic and rhythmic! To stop such a symphony mid stride was almost too painful to do.

Almost.

The pain is what wakes him up, but the shock is what starts me laughing. You see, this couple is going to be a bit different than what I usually do. So instead of slicing his neck or skewering his heart, I first peeled his eyelids off. If you've never seen someone try and open their eyelids when they aren't there, it's quite funny, I assure you. His mouth opens to make a sound but I don't let him. Using one of his own dirty socks, I gag him before just as his wife wakes up due to his struggling.

It takes her a moment to process a dark form over her husband holding a knife, but quickly she puts two and two together and bolts from the bed, right into the arms of my shadow clone. She too tries to alert someone, anyone to her plight, but my clone's hand is keeping her quiet for now. He slides her own paring knife through her spinal cord, paralyzing her from her stomach south.

Her powerless legs collapse and she plummets towards the ground, but is held up by my clone, who tosses her back onto the bed. Until this point, Soujiro has been too shocked to fight back. Seeing his wife have her back broken must have jolted him to consciousness, and despite the blood flowing into his eyes, I'm forced to subdue him with the handle of the cleaver I've lifted from their kitchen. Nina must watch with wide eyes as I start my work.

The term for this is vivisection. If you've never heard of it, I won't be offended, it's not something that gets thrown around in conversation a lot. 'Hey, did you see that great vivisection on TV last night?' You never hear that. Let me say this. If Soujiro were dead, it would be called a dissection or autopsy. No anesthesia and a whole lot of blood and pain. It's messy, smelly and entirely too slow for my liking, hence why I've never done one until now.

The make a classic Y shaped incision, running from either side of his neck to just over the center of his rib cage, and then down to his navel. It takes me a few minutes, but I soon peel the skin away from the muscle and slice through his abdominal muscle wall to expose his intestines. I can't get to any of the organs inside his rib cage because his diaphragm impedes me from the bottom and I can't reach through his rib cage. Once I cut that, his breathing will all but stop and he'll suffocate in moments. Instead I take the heavy cleaver and use it's weight to help me crack his rib cage right down each side and take of the breast plate, giving me unfettered access to his organs. But this is where I stop, for now. He's passed out due to the shock and pain, and so I move on to his wife.

She takes a bit longer, but soon both are in the same state, and in equal realms of unconsciousness. With two quick slices, I cut through their diaphragms and just to be sure, I slice into their lungs and wait. It has taken me fifteen minutes to do this to these people and I've just doubled the amount of time that it took me to kill Yamamoto and Ukitake and get to this house. I don't like it.

Looking at the gore and viscera I've caused, I pause...it doesn't feel wrong, but it doesn't give me that rush that I live for. Given the chance, I'll never do this again. It's time to move on, only one is left for tonight, the big one. The head honcho. The Mayor.

His house is a mansion, three floors, four wings and over two and a half acres of total land taken up. There's some guards, but since the mayor is only important to the people of the town, nothing that a good gennin shouldn't be able to sneak past. On the inside it's a maze of doors and rooms leading to nothing and containing...not a lot. It's a poor town, and this mansion was taxing enough on the economy, to fill it would ruin the town. Hiroshi Daisuke is just old enough to be considered wise, but young enough to still be controlled by someone stronger. He's an ineffective politician and the only reason that the people of this town don't rebel and kill him themselves, is that he's the Daimyo's favorite cousin's father. Not favorite uncle, merely he had the fortune to be related to the Daimyo's favorite cousin.

For all his flaws, being related so closely to the Daimyo should have afforded him better security, but alas, his son disliked him half the time and only tolerated him the other half. I guess he didn't care what his father did, as long as he didn't have to deal with him.

I got into the house with no problem, having only a perimeter guard was obviously not enough, and it didn't get much better inside. The two guards that were supposed to be guarding the Mayor's bed chambers, were instead, guarding an empty bottle of sake and doing so in the kitchen. I got next to Daisuke's bed without encountering a single person.

I never really thought about it before now, but there wasn't a lot that I had to do. With the rest of my victims, they weren't very important, so their deaths had to be more and more shocking to cause the effect I wanted. But this man, this man was the mayor! The Daimyo's uncle! I could have poisoned him and the mere fact that he was dead would have caused the panic and fear that I wanted.

I glanced at the expensive grandfather clock on the wall, it was growing early in the morning, I should finish this quickly if I wanted to have enough time to get away cleanly. I look at the sleeping visage of the Mayor and make up my mind. Hiroshi Daisuke will never wake again. I see a set of swords on the dresser and quickly take the katana from it's sheath. It's a fine piece of metallurgy, don't get me wrong, but I'll still take a good kunai any day of the week.

I walk back to the bed and instead of the usual euphoria I would feel, this feels like a chore. I've never killed more than two people at once before and that old saying seems to have been proven true. I plunge the ornate sword right through Daisuke's rib cage and it easily pierces his heart. I take the time to verify my kill, but then I quickly leave my message and make my way out of the mansion and eventually out of the city. When I am far enough away to drop my disguise and get a hotel room, I fall asleep as soon as I touch the bed.

It's true what they say, mass murder is the most exhausting thing one can participate in...except for soccer.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

After my surprisingly peaceful sleep, I made my way back to Konoha in three hours. Twenty minutes after passing through over the gates (My mission was sanctioned, but it would be very odd for a gennin to be going on a solo mission, so I had to sneak out to complete it) I was in the Hokage's office delivering my report.

"I'm sure that by now, the five bodies have been discovered, Hokage-sama. If they get the message, you'll know in the next couple of days. If they are too dumb to recognize it, than they will put out the word for help." The point of my mission was to strike fear into the citizens of the small boarder town in Rice Country. The five I had killed had all supported Orochimaru in some indirect way. Either money, goods or safe passage. They didn't strictly fit the code, yet they helped Orochimaru to murder and kill everyday he sat in their land.

"That's good Naruto." There's a pause. "How are you, I know that this doesn't fit your code..." Then that probing look. If I answer incorrectly I may never be given this type of mission again.

"I didn't like it, in comparison that is. The idea is...intriguing, but those people just didn't feel right." I answer truthfully. I passed whatever test this was and the Hokage smiles at me with a mixture of warmth and worry.

"I want you to know that I won't be sending you on any more of these types of mission until you're older. This is the first real test of your code and I'm glad that it has held firm, despite everything you went through. The moment that you can no longer follow that code...I don't know if I'll be able to help you, Naruto."

I've gotten this speech before, but despite it's worn out message, I'm glad to hear it again. In the aftermath of my mission I want to be reminded of the edge, less I get too close and tumble off.

"You're dismissed, go home and get some rest. If I'm right, than you and you're team will be heading back to Rice country in the next week or so and Jiraiya wants to train with you some more."

Tsunade, the Godaime still doesn't trust me completely, and I understand her concern. I kill for the thrill of it, most ninja who do that go rouge and kill whoever they can to get away. But I'm still loyal to this village, to the Hokage and that's not going to change. It will just take me a while to prove that to her.

On my way home I stop and take a look at the stone visage of the Sandaime on the mountain overlooking the village. It's been just about a month since he died, killed by Orochimaru in his failed invasion attempt during the chuunin exams. I was fighting Sabaku no Gaara, the Kazekage's youngest son, who happened to be the vessel for the Ichibi, Shukaku. In the end we beat each other to our limits and couldn't kill the other. Due to Sasuke and Sakura being around to witness the battle, I had to fight the entire time in the character they were used to seeing and somehow, by lying through my teeth, I seemed to have changed Gaara for the better.

I don't understand it, but from what I've heard, he's becoming respected by the ninja of Suna. Go figure.

With the death of my father figure, Konoha, as well as myself, was left without someone to guide them and Jiraiya, my substitute sensei and godfather were sent to retrieve the third member of the Sannin, Tsunade.

I know that most people describe insanity as a cliff that one falls off of, but to me, it's a bit more subtle. I've always seen my self as the little kid who went swimming and got swept out too far. The Sandaime was an anchor, keeping me from going farther off the deep end, but not reeling me in any. With his death, I felt myself washing farther out from shore. Jiraiya was able to serve as another anchor and for that I cannot thank him enough.

Eventually we found her and after a week of training and a huge battle involving all three sannin and their summons, the Godaime Hokage returned to Konoha. I was able to complete one of my father's original techniques, the rasengan and in the process, partially won the trust of the woman who controlled my ability to hunt.

Seeing his face carved in stone, and knowing that I will never see it in person again is...disheartening. I know that I should be saddened. I should be crushed, he was the closest thing to a father that I had. He taught me everything that I know and trained me to be what I am.

I was lucky at the funeral. It was raining. But then, just like now, nothing comes from my eyes. I don't feel depressed, I don't feel sad and I don't feel like the world has crumbled around me. I just feel empty.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

A/N: There's an update, and I do realize that it's short, but in an effort to update more often (don't say anything!) I'm trying to write shorter, since I've tried almost everything else.)