Short Intro No Jutsu: The Chunnin exam arc with a alternate path! The divergence point begins when Team 7 arrives at the entrance to the first exam room.
Still annoyed from their encounter with Lee, Team Seven stormed down the hall towards the REAL room 301. They had almost reached it when suddenly Kakashi appeared in a puff of smoke.
" Good to see you all showed up." said the Copy Ninja in an unusually cheery voice.
" Why?" asked Naruto.
" Because I lied. The exam has to be taken as a group." explained Kakashi. The looks of shock from his students prompted him to continue. " If you knew that but thought you weren't good enough, you would have been pressured by your teammates into trying anyways. This test is something you should only do if you have confidence in your abilities."
While Naruto and Sasuke smiled, believing themselves more than ready, Sakura gulped. She didn't have much faith in her abilities, as she was easily the weakest member of her team. The only thing she was good at was chakra control, but she doubted that would help her much.
Unfortunately, she couldn't quit now, unless she wanted Naruto and Sasuke to hate her forever.
" Good luck!" said Kakashi, vanishing with their forms. Naruto eagerly threw open the door, revealing a large room full of people staring hatefully at them.
" What is this?" said Sakura under her breath to her teammates as they cautiously entered. " Why is everyone glaring at us?"
Naruto could see genin from Kohona, as well as a number of other countries. He spotted people from the Sand they had met the day before, who looked about the scariest of everyone. He could see several other tough looking groups, such as the Sound genin staring at Sasuke (Why always Sasuke?, thought Naruto.) and some Rain ninja with umbrellas like the guy who had kidnapped Moegi the day before.
" Sasuke-kun!" said Ino, appearing out of nowhere and glomping onto Sasuke's back. The Uchiha began to push her off as Sakura yelled at her.
" You guy's came too? Man, this will be too troublesome." said Shikamaru, walking over with Choji in tow.
" Hey, looks like the gangs all here!" laughed Kiba, arriving with the always enigmatic Shino and Hinata. The diminutive Hyuuga was hiding behind Kiba and peeking out cautiously, her fingers in their signature tapping formation,
Also, Akamaru was on Kiba's head. Mustn't forget the puppy.
" What are you doing here, Naruto?" said Kiba, jabbing the blonde with his elbow. " Your going to get your ass kicked!"
" Yeah right!" said Naruto with a growl.
" Don't fool yourself." said Kiba with a smug smirk. " My teams been training hard. There's no way you can match us."
" Don't make me laugh." said Sasuke, who had freed himself from Ino's amorous grip. " On the last mission we took on two jounin." He nodded to Naruto, who could still vividly recall the fight with Haku.
" Those guy's must have been losers then." said Kiba with a sneer.
" They are telling the truth." said Shino. It seemed like he was focusing on Naruto from behind his sunglasses. " Sasuke and Naruto freed Kakashi, the Copy Ninja, from a Water Ninja named Zabuza in a dual attack where Sasuke threw a disguised Naruto as a shuriken. Later they fought a individual named Haku with a unique bloodline that allowed him to manipulate and create ice, similar to the First Hokage's wood creation jutsu. Kakashi reports that Zabuza stated that Haku was stronger than him, meaning he was a S-ranked individual. Sasuke was able to activate his Sharingan and intercept Haku's attacks until he was rendered unconscious when he saved Naruto by interposing his body in front of fifty senbon."
" Sasuke-kun is so heroic!" squealed Sakura and Ino in tandem.
" Woah." said Choji, blinking. Sasuke stood, looking cool, while Shino continued.
" After that, as I quote the report, ' I went crazy and punched the ice things until that guy who looked like a girl had to come out and then I punched him until he gave up'. Naruto, unfortunately, was rather vague in his description, but we can assume his hand to hand abilities have improved dramatically."
" How do you know all this?" asked Sakura, shocked. She had read her teammates reports, but she couldn't remember all that.
" We're a reconnaissance specialist team." said Kiba haughtily. " We have information on pretty much everyone, especially you guys."
" Can you tell me about Rock Lee?" asked Sasuke hopefully.
" I was not sharing that information to make your team stronger." said Shino, peering at Sasuke. " I was informing Shikamaru's team so they would not underestimate you so that when Ino succeeds in pestering him into going after Sakura, her rival, and the rest of your team during the second part of the exam, which means they will do more damage to you and leave you less able to fight us."
Team seven ground their teeth as the bug user stood motionlessly.
" And I was putting Kiba in his place. As I am team leader, I should be the one to communicate with other teams." said Shino, turning to the Inuzuka, who sulked.
" Shino…it's alright." said Hinata timidly. " I'm sure he'll remember on the tests."
" You really saved Naruto's life?" Shikamaru asked Sasuke.
" My body moved on it's own." said Sasuke in a huff.
" You guys are really in trouble." said a voice behind them. The genin turned to find a silver haired leaf genin stand behind them.
" Who are you?" asked Naruto defensively.
" My names Kabuto." said the boy, smiling. " So you're the Rookie Nine?"
" Huh?" asked Choji, blinking.
" Three teams, fresh from the academy." continued Kabuto. " Your not very popular. Most genin have to wait a few years until they take the exam, so they're jealous."
The Rookie Nine looked out on the classroom, where they were being watched appraisingly.
" Why are you telling us this?" asked Sasuke suspiciously.
" Well, as a fellow leaf ninja, I want to see you guy's pass." explained Kabuto. " The more Kohona ninja that pass, the better. Plus, I remember being a first timer and would rather see you guys die because you didn't know what to expect."
" You've taken the test before?" asked Naruto.
" This is my sixth time." said Kabuto embarrassedly. " Thing's keep going wrong. But, I have quite a bit of information to show for my mistakes."
He then took out a stack of cards and demonstrated the information he had gathered by showing them where the genin in the exam had come from, warning them about the Grass, Rain, Sand, and Sound teams, and asking if there was any information they were interested in.
Sasuke couldn't believe his luck. Why couldn't I get someone like this for a teammate?
" Do you have info on Rock Lee?" asked the Uchiha. Kabuto smiled and pulled out a card.
" Rock Lee. Leaf Ninja, student to Might Guy. Teammates, Tenten and Neji Hyuuga. His taijutsu has improved rapidly and is probably the best of any genin on the exam, but his other skills are almost nonexistent. One of the top picks for this exam."
" N-Naruto." came a quiet voice from behind. Everyone turned, finding a scared looking Hinata.
" Sure." said Kabuto, grinning wickedly. Naruto gulped. If the Kyuubi's listed on that card…
" Naruto Uzamaki," read Kabuto as the rest of the genin listened intently. Sakura and Sasuke were hoping for some answers on how Naruto had managed to beat Haku and learn shadow clones when they could not. " Leaf Ninja, student to Kakashi, the Copy Ninja. Teammates are Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno. Possesses mediocre taijutsu skills and physical abilities, but can use a forbidden jutsu and has Kage level chakra reserves. Your not rated too highly, but it looks like the Third and ANBU have significant interest in your development."
Naruto felt quite uncomfortable as every eye in the room fell upon him. When Kabuto had began to describe the noticeable boy, a number had began to listen in. He then noticed a knowing look from Kabuto and a reassuring smile.
He knows about the Kyuubi! Naruto thought, quite alarmed. But then he became confused. But…he didn't tell anyone. Why? Then it struck him. Kabuto was being nice to him. He wasn't afraid and didn't hate him, even with what he knew.
Naruto definitely wanted to get to know the older boy.
Meanwhile, the other teams were whispering in concern.
" Kage level chakra?' whispered Tenten to Neji. " Check that."
" Byakugan!" said Neji, focusing on Naruto and doing a though, full examination of the boys chakra coils. " His reserves are impressive…but there's something else." Neji focused his eyes to a extent that strained even his bloodline, allowing him to see a near microscopic oddity in Naruto.. " He has a second color of chakra mixed in. It's only red specks, but it's there."
" Two types of chakra? I've never heard of that." whistled Tenten, sounding interested.
" That explains it." said Lee, nodding. " He must have been holding back to lure me into a false sense of security." He had been rather suspicious when the boy went down in a single hit.
" The Uchiha has backup." said Dosu, his visible eye narrowing.
" We'll need to keep him busy." said Kin, holding up her genjutsu bells.
" This could be more fun than I thought." said Zaku, flexing his arms.
The Kyuubi boy…how interesting. thought Orochimaru.
" Hey Gaara…I bet your looking forward to killing him, aren't you." said Kankuro with a smile. The look on Gaara's face was enough to tell his brother he had guessed correctly. Kankuro almost felt sorry for them.
" S-sorry, Na-Naruto-kun." apologized Hinata, blushing deeply. " I-I ju-ju…"
She didn't want to admit it, but she hadn't been asking for Naruto's card. She'd actually been trying to get his attention so she could tell him how she felt….
" Not a problem, Hinata." said Naruto, smiling brightly. " I guess your looking forward to fighting me then?"
Hinata's eyes went wide with shock. I never even thought about fighting Naruto-kun!
" Kage level? What kind of training has that Copy guy made you do?" asked a very stunned Kiba.
" None, unfortunately." said Team Seven with a unanimous sigh. Naruto then got a evil look on his face. " Hey, Kabuto, let's see Sasuke's."
" What?" asked the Uchiha, shocked. This is bad. I don't want everyone hearing my abilities! he thought, looking to the now completely attentive genin. Fighting a Uchiha was supposed to be like fighting a living legend, so the other genin all wanted to know what they were going against.
" Sasuke Uchiha." read Kabuto, rattling off the information. " Leaf Ninja. Student to Kakashi, the Copy Ninja. Teammates are Naruto Uzamaki and Sakura Haruno. Has activated the first two levels of his Sharingan, giving him perfect perception, the ability to see chakra, and most importantly, copy jutsu. He has not yet activated the Third level and therefore cannot use the Uchiha eye genjutsu."
Nearly everyone in the room sighed in relief.
"Chunnin rank in all categories, with high marks in ninjutsu, ninja tools, and taijutsu. You are also suspected to possess the strongest Uchiha bloodline in the last few generations. Looks like I'll have to watch out for your team."
" Everyone to your seats!" shouted Ibiki, entering dramatically with the proctors.
Team Seven found their seats sheepishly.
While she listened to the rules, Sakura felt herself begin to sweat nervously. Many of the genin were watching her, trying to see if she posed a threat too. She knew she wasn't, but everyone else….seemed ready to kill her.
Naruto was still in shock. He had Kage level chakra? That means I'm a shoo-in for Hokage! He smiled to himself, not knowing his foxy smile (with his extra pointy teeth easy to see) came off viciously, worrying many of the other teams.
At least my ninjutsu are still secret. thought Sasuke with a sigh. Since everyone knows what I'm good at, the fights are going to be harder. Of course, that might not be a bad thing…. Sasuke smiled, looking forward to the many challengers he would be facing.
" The test begins now!" said Ibiki, signaling for them to begin.
Look at her….thought Kin, watching Sakura scratch away at the problems. She could barely see the pencil moving, as it had become a blur. A number of other genin had also caught sight of the girls speed at answering the problems.
Because she was the ONLY one answering the problems.
She's a genius…probably fights like a tactician and focuses on directing her teammates. thought Temari. We'll have to take her out first.
I think she uses the same conditioner I do. thought Neji, looking at the pink hair with his Byakugan. Not a single split end and no dandruff.
I need to check what my card says on her after this…thought Kabuto, watching Sakura go. He could answer the questions, since he was really a S-rank medic-nin, but he was faking not being able to avoid rousing suspicion.
" You all pass!" said Ibiki, leaning back and laughing.
" What?" shouted Temari angrily, leaping to her feet.
" There was no tenth question! It was a test to see if you were brave enough to continue!" said the torture expert between chuckles.
" Then all the other questions were pointless?" asked Sakura, blinking in confusion.
" To test your ability to gather information with out being caught."
" We were supposed to cheat?" asked Kiba angrily.
"I figured it out from the start." said Naruto smugly, leaning back and putting his feet on the desk.
" Liar." said Sasuke, standing up.
" I-it's true." said Hinata quietly, covering for him. She pointed to Naruto's paper. " He didn't even write his name on the paper."
" Why?" asked Dosu as the Sound genin moved together to share their observations.
" Because that way, I couldn't get caught cheating!" fibbed Naruto.
He completely circumvented the test. thought Ibiki, quite amazed. His father did the same thing. The little brats going to be fun to watch.
" Heads up!" shouted someone, leaping though the window. She threw two kunai, which attached to the ceiling with a large banner handing behind her. " I'm Anko Mitarashi, the next examiner!"
" You were early." said Ibiki, peeking out from behind the curtain.
" Kinda lame entrance." said Naruto with a laugh. Every one of the Rookie Nine sighed, since the woman was exactly like Naruto. Loud and annoying.
" Oh? How would you have done it?" asked Anko, smiling evilly.
" Well…" said Naruto, taking his thinking pose. " First, I'd use my Harem technique to create a crowd of nude women, who would cartwheel in with pompoms and cheer my name. Then a secret door would open in the floor and I'd rise out on a platform on a throne while rock music began to play and the lights dimmed. Then the disco balls would drop and the fog machines would start."
" That's what I did last year." sighed Anko. " It's one of my favorites."
" It's a classic, isn't it?" laughed Naruto.
" Yeah, but paying the strippers is a bitch and one of the disco balls fell on Ibiki and cut up his head. Can you teach me that Harem technique? I heard about it from super-perv."
" The guy with sunglasses?" said Naruto, thinking of Ebisu. However, everyone turned to stare at Shino, who neither confirmed or denied anything.
" Yeah." sighed Anko. " Hey, anyways, you all need to be at the 44th battle training zone tomorrow at noon. Bring food for one day and night."
Shocked, confused, and wary (since something was obviously going on), the genin who were left departed.
" Nothing?" asked Kankuro.
" Nothing." sighed Temari, putting the scroll down. " Not a think about the blonde kid or the next examiner on the list."
" It's supposed to have everyone worth watching on it!" whined Kankuro as he sat back on the couch that was in the small room they were lodging in. Temari rolled up their recon reports while Gaara stood on the balcony, looking out at something.
Kankuro didn't care what it was. It wasn't him, so he was fine with the situation.
" Wow." said Naruto mutedly, looking up at the giant, evil trees. The other genin looked similarly worried as they looked to the Forest of Death.
" Pretty cool, huh?" said Anko, walking out to greet the genin while eating dango. " You'll be spending the next five days in there."
" But you said bring food for one day!" said a horrified Choji.
" Yep. I'm a bitch, ain't I?" said the examiner, batting her eyebrows playfully. " Now, each team is going to be given either a heaven or earth scroll in exchange for filling out these forms." she said, handing out release forms to each of them. " You have to beat up another team and take the opposite scroll, then get to the tower at the center of the forest. You have to do that within five days or you fail."
" But how do we know what scroll the other teams have?" asked Shikamaru.
" You don't. That's the fun of it." said Anko with a giggle. " And the forests filled with monsters and traps and toxic waste…. It'll be fun to fight people when your nearly dieing from the man eating slugs!"
" All right!" cheered Naruto, leaping to his feet. " This is gonna be awesome!"
A kunai flashed by his cheek, nicking it just enough to create a small cut. A moment later Anko was behind him, licking the blood from the wound.
" It's boys like you that die first…" said Anko in a low voice while holding Naruto close. " Lots of blood everywhere….and it's rather sweet blood too. The forests going to like you."
And then, everyone but Anko gasped as smoke rose from the cut as it sealed.
" Ooo…that's interesting!." said Anko, eyes widening. " I wonder how much you can heal…"
" Your crazy!" shouted Naruto, leaping away as she drew a katana.
Regeneration? thought Kiba, sweating. How the crap can Naruto regenerate like that?
" How'd you do that?" asked Sasuke, walking over to his teammate as Anko hissed menacingly.
" Do what?" asked Naruto, confused.
" Your cut healed."
" Oh, that always happens." said Naruto non-chalantly. " I'm just a quick healer."
" And the smoke that rose from it?"
" No clue."
Everyone face palmed. Here they had a genin who got more intimidating every second, and he didn't even know how his powers worked?
" Go!" shouted Anko. An instant later Team Seven was gone, leaving only a trail of dust.
For ten minutes they raced though the dark forest wordlessly. They came to a small clearing hidden by dense trees and bushes, so they decided to stop and form their plan.
" A lot of people are going to be looking for us." said Sasuke, sitting on the dirt and drawing a map of the forest in the dirt. He'd memorized aerial maps of all of Kohona and the surround area with his Sharingan.
" Yeah." said Sakura with a sigh.
" Naruto piqued that Gaara guys interest and Lee wanted a rematch." said Sasuke. " You could see it on their faces."
" And everyone wants to fight you, Sasuke-kun." said Sakura with a smile.
" Plus, everyone was interested in you during the first test." Naruto said, smiling at the pink haired girl.
" Huh?" asked Sakura, confused.
" During the test." explained Sasuke. " Nobody was able to answer the questions but you, so everyone watched you."
" Nobody else got them?" asked Sakura, blinking. " But they were easy!"
Naruto and Sasuke sweat dropped, as they hadn't even UNDERSTOOD any of the questions.
" Anyways, we need to get a plan ready." said Sasuke, pressing on.
" Hold on. I gotta pee." said Naruto, running to a bush.
" Naruto!" yelled Sakura, bopping him on the head. " Don't do that in front of a lady!"
" Dork." chuckled Kiba from the bush where 'Team Shino' was watching Naruto's group. They'd been looking for a place to setup a ambush when they happened across the clearing.
" W-we should move." said Hinata, terrified.
" We'll be fine." Kiba reassured her quietly. Akamaru nodded in agreement.
" Fine, geeze!" said Naruto, walking behind a tree and finding a large bush to relive himself on. He unzipped his pants and emptied his bladder, sighing in relief as he took the longest whiz of his life.
" So, what's the plan?" asked Naruto, returning to the clearing.
" I have a few ideas…how about you, Sakura?" asked Sasuke, making some diagrams in the dirt.
" Well…the logical thing to do would to find a location, scout it out, and prepare a ambush. We have a few days, and tactically it's better to be a defender than attacker."
" That's what I was thinking." said the Uchiha, nodding in agreement. Sakura swooned, glad that she thought the same way her crush did. It means were even more compatible! " We should move deeper in towards this river here," he continued, pointing at a small curve in one of the rivers. " We'll have water and can fish, so food won't be a problem, and if anyone crosses we'll see them."
" Lets go then!" said Naruto eagerly, leaping to his feet. Sasuke erased the map before they departed.
" Nobody ever hears about this. Ever." said Kiba as he emerged from the bush. He and Akamaru were soaked from head to toe.
" Agreed." said Shino, standing up with the unconscious, red Hinata. He and Hinata had been spared the spray, but the Hyuuga girl had not been prepared for what she observed and had, as she oft did around the blonde, fainted.
" Naruto-kun…." said Hinata faintly, blushing deeper.
" Perfect." smiled Sakura as she set the tripwire. While she had set a number of swinging log traps in the trees (since she was the best at tree walking and could do it easily), Sasuke had been planting explosive tags in a perimeter around the small peninsula they had built their camp on.
Meanwhile, Naruto was catching fish since neither of them trusted him to be careful enough to conceal the trap.
Just as Sasuke had predicted they had a good view from the peninsula, but the trees on it were surprisingly thick, meaning it was easy to hide and observe on it. Given their superior position, they were all feeling quite confident as the sun set.
Man, these look great! thought Naruto, smiling widely as he examined the three cooking fish. They had build a fire pit to conceal the light, so they didn't need to worry about being spotted.
Just in case, though, they were each taking alternating hour long watches.
" I'm surprised we didn't see anyone." said Sasuke, leaning against a tree.
" It's the first day, so I bet everyone is bring cautious." said Sakura from the branch she was standing on.
I bet I can get the biggest one when they aren't paying attention. thought Naruto determinedly.
" We'll start doing some patrols before dawn." said Sasuke as he took out a kunai and whetstone and began to sharpen it. " If you encounter someone, retreat back here and signal everyone else."
" How?" asked Naruto, inching closer to the fish.
" Make whoever's following you run into a explosive tag."
" Your turn, Naruto." said Sakura, leaping down. Before he could complain she grabbed the skewer with the largest fish on it and bit hungrily. Sighing he leapt onto the branch and began to peer out.
" We need a code phrase so that if we can identify each other." said Sasuke. " After we meet back up, you have to be able to answer " What time does a ninja choose to strike? A ninja chooses to strike during the night, so they are hidden by the darkness and their target will be asleep."
" How am I supposed to remember that?" whined Naruto.
" Come on! It's not that hard." said Sakura though a mouthful of fish. " I memorized it instantly."
" Man." sighed Naruto, leaping from a bough down towards the ground. " Where is everyone?"
It was nearly noon on the second day and they had yet to encounter anyone. They'd been alternating patrols, meeting back up every few hours, and searching valiantly, but there just wasn't anyone.
Or so Naruto thought.
" We need to be careful." said Dosu, who was leading the Sound genin. They had been following the blonde for ten minutes as he raced around randomly. " It would be best to take him down in a single hit rather than risk a extended fight."
" Which means your out." said Zaku, nodding. " Since you focus on taijutsu, it might take a while with his healing. I might have a shot at it, but I don't want to have to go full power this early. I might hurt myself."
" I'll do it." said Kin, sprinting off in a burst of chakra. Dosu and Zaku watched the girl, who they had only met two weeks ago when the team was created, leave. They didn't care much for the genjutsu user, but they needed her alive so they could pass.
And besides, it was always good to know your teammates jutsu in case you had to kill them.
Naruto skidded to a halt, looking around for the voice he had just heard. He cautiously moved in the direction it had came from, making his way though a patch of bushes he hadn't noticed.
When he emerged, he found Sakura face down in a pool of blood, covered in slashed and stab wounds, and a battered, bloody Sasuke lying against a rock, his eyes carved out of his face.
" Sasuke! Sakura!" he cried, leaping forward and checking on the pink haired girl. His blood froze as he felt how cold she was.
" Is…she alright?" asked Sasuke with a cough.
" What happened?" asked Naruto, too stunned to think.
" I don't know. I got hit by something and when I came too I couldn't see. I could hear Sakura screaming for a while as they tortured her. Is she going to live?"
" S-she's dead." said Naruto. He couldn't look away from Sakura's corpse.
" No." said Sasuke quietly before falling silent.
" She's dead. She's dead. She's dead." Naruto repeated. He could feel the strange feeling he had felt when he thought Sasuke had died rapidly growing within him, like fire was spreading though his body. He looked over to Sasuke, tears poring down his face. The Uchiha had stopped breathing and lay motionless.
" He completely fell for it." smirked Kin from where she and her team watched Naruto struggled around under the illusion. Kin had trapped him in her technique by throwing a single senbon with a bell past him, the sound the bell made disguised to sound like his teammates calling for help. After that it had been child's play to lead him on.
" One down." said Zaku with a smile. He might not like the kunochi, but she was pretty useful.
" Sasuke!" said Naruto shaking the air where he believe Sasuke was lying. " Don't screw around! Wake up!"
The Sound genin paled as the blondes chakra spiked insanely.
" Wake up!" he shouted with enough force to send a breeze though the forest, a cloud of leaves flying in ever direction. " WAKE UP!"
" We should leave." said Dosu shakily as Naruto's killer intent began to pour though the air, thick enough to be felt. The Sound genin fled hastily.
" Where is he?" asked Sakura, becoming quite annoyed. Naruto was ten minutes late for their rendezvous. " Do you think he found someone?"
" He might have gotten caught." sighed Sasuke.
" Hey!" said Naruto, waving as he ran though the trees towards them. Sasuke tried to show no emotion as he noticed that Naruto's kunai holster was on the wrong side and his incisors weren't pointed enough.
" Naruto, your late!" Sakura shouted angrily. " What the hell happened?"
" Sorry, sorry, I got lost." he said, laughing as he scratched the back of his head.
Seizing the opportunity, Sasuke sunk a punch into the impostors gut, knocking him onto the ground a short distance away.
" Sasuke!" cried Sakura, eyes wide. " I'm mad that Naruto was late too, but that was too much!"
" What was that for?" asked the impostor, keeping up the guise.
" Your disguise is full of mistakes." said Sasuke, standing up straight. The impostor chuckled as he changed form, revealing a Rain genin with some sort of breathing mask and a black jumpsuit.
" Your quite good." he said, standing up and drawing a kunai. Sakura drew her own and stood ready.
" I'll take this guy. Watch for his teammates." Sasuke told Sakura. She nodded and he leapt in a flying kick towards the genin. The genin ducked, coming back up with a slash towards Sasuke's neck. Sasuke rolled to the side, swinging a punch which the genin blocked. Unfortunately, Sasuke hit harder than the impostor had expected and he was knocked back. Having made a opening, Sasuke delivered a vicious uppercut to the genin, knocking him into the air. Before the genin could recover Sasuke leapt after him, delivering a kick to his midsection and launching him towards a tree.
Surprisingly, at the last second the battered genin caught his balance and spun so he landed safely, throwing the kunai towards Sasuke as he tried to leapt to a low branch. Sasuke leapt over the kunai, then forced chakra out of his foot like he did using the tree walking jutsu, catching the kunai to his foot magnetically. He kicked back, launching the blade at the genin who was unable to dodge in air. It hit him squarely in the chest, piercing several inches in. The genin fell backwards, landing heavily on the ground.
" I'll have to…urg…come back." said the genin, struggling to his feet. " I didn't expect you to be this good." He vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving them alone.
" Sasuke-kun, your awesome!" cooed Sakura as the Uchiha walked over in his 'I am so badass' slouch.
" It was just basic taijutsu." said Sasuke dismissively.
" No it wasn't!" said Sakura adoringly. " I didn't even know that you could do that with the tree climbing technique! When did you learn that?"
" I just thought of it." said Sasuke, turning away. " So, where do you think Naruto is?"
" Hey!" shouted Naruto, running though the trees and waving. This one looked real to Sasuke and Sakura, but they stayed on guard.
" What's the password?" asked Sasuke.
" What time does a ninja choose to strike? A ninja chooses to strike during the night, so they are hidden by the darkness and their target will be asleep." said Naruto, reciting the phrase perfectly.
" Finally. What took…." Sakura began, but she was cut off when Sasuke punched Naruto again.
" You're a impostor too. Naruto could never remember that." said Sasuke, smirking superiorly.
" Impressive." said the disguised ninja, standing up and reverting back to the form of the strange looking Grass ninja. " I'm looking forward to testing the rest of your skills, Sasuke-kun."
" There it is again." said Dosu, glancing over his shoulder. They could feel Naruto's killer intent like it was following them.
They were all secretly worried it was.
" It's been a half hour. When are we going to lose him?" asked Kin. She was exhausted from all the running and having trouble keeping up.
" It looks like I don't have any choice." said Zaku, flexing his arm as the evil presence began to get closer.
" Don't overdo it." said Dosu, landing on a branch. Zaku smiled as he searched for a sign of the orange clad boy, who finally came leaping though the trees.
The Sound genin nearly ran when they saw him.
His eyes had gone red and psychotic while his teeth had become truly fang-like. His fingers had changed into claws and he stood on all fours, growling like a feral animal. Spotting them, he lunged with immense force.
Steeling himself against the pain, Zaku fired his wind cutter at full force. For his usual attacks he used safe levels, but his ultimate attack was to push the limits of his arms, which let him do truly massive damage. To his satisfaction the berserk boy was hit full on and blasted back violently, knocked though several large trees and sliced by a thousand blades of wind. They felt the aura fade as Naruto disappeared beneath a pile of rubble.
" Shit." swore Zaku, falling to his knees. His arms had been stretched outwards by the attack and the pain was nearly overwhelming.
" He must be some kind of berserker." said Kin, relaxing now that the danger was gone. " I didn't think anyone trained ninja like that anymore."
" We should find someplace safe so he can recover." said Dosu, helping his friend up. Kin nodded in agreement and a moment later the Sound ninja were gone.
Sasuke's heart felt like it was going to rip out of his chest.
He had been fleeing for his life with the comatose Sakura, who was still trapped in that Orochimaru persons genjutsu. The feeling of terror…the sight of his own death…it made the killer intent of Zabuza seem outright pathetic.
Breathing heavily he leapt downwards, landing on the mossy ground. He was almost at his physical limit, so he needed to hide. He ran forward and quickly found the fresh rubble of several newly destroyed trees. It was the perfect spot, since the ground was already disturbed. He put Sakura into a hollow log hidden from view and dug his way under a large leafy branch that was lying in mud.
It wasn't a second later that Orochimaru morphed out of the mud besides him.
" Your quite the disappointment." said the pale man, ripping the fake face off as Sasuke skittered backwards. " I had heard you were quite the genius, but you don't even compare to Itachi. Why you and that useless girl would be on a team with Naruto…that is his name, right? Why you would be paired with him is beyond me."
" What are you talking about?" asked Sasuke as he shakily drew a kunai. He mentally counted the wires, shuriken, explosive tags, and weapons he had while trying to plan an attack.
" You don't know?" said Orochimaru, laughing. " Amazing! Here I was hoping for a replacement for Itachi, but what have I found? The first half-wit that the Uchiha have ever produced! I'll show you. He's not far away."
Orochimaru performed a hand seal and suddenly Sasuke felt a spike of chakra from the rubble unlike any he had ever felt, along with killer intent that rivaled Orochimaru's. Sasuke leapt from his hiding place to better footing as Orochimaru walked calmly onto a stump.
Then, there was a explosion like a geyser erupting as red colored chakra poured out of a pile of debris, Naruto flying out.
…but it wasn't quite Naruto.
" Bastards! Where are you!" he screamed in a superhuman voice. Sasuke felt fear as he looked at his teammate. The red chakra was gone, but Naruto had somehow grown claws and fangs and his eyes were a deep red that made them look rather like Sharingan.
" Naruto! Get out of here!" Sasuke shouted, trying to warn off his friend. Naruto looked to him and suddenly his entire form shifted back to normal as a tears began to form in his eyes.
" S-Sasuke." he said quietly. " I thought you were dead."
" Naruto, you have to get away! This guy is way to strong!" shouted Sasuke, not having time to find out what Naruto was talking about.
" Naw, we can take him!" laughed Naruto, leaping over and landing by Sasuke. Tears were streaming down his face as he smiled widely.
" Naruto, he's way above our level! We have to run!"
Sasuke fell backwards, crumpling under the punch Naruto had gave him.
" Sasuke, what the hell happened while you were dead?" Naruto shouted, eyes going red again.
" What?" asked the shocked Uchiha, rising to his feet.
" Did dieing turn you into some kind of coward?" asked Naruto in a growl. " There's no way the Sasuke I know would run from a fight!"
" Naruto, we can't even match this guy." said Sasuke, turning to the amused looking Orochimaru.
" Then I'll deal with him, scaredy cat!" shouted Naruto, lunging forward so fast the wood shattered where his foots touched. He slammed a fist into Orochimaru, who exploded into a cloud of mud. Suddenly the pale ninja, his lower torso like that of a snake, morphed out of the tree trunk and arched towards Naruto. The blonde boy began to turn a Orochimaru's tongue lashed out towards him, but it was too late to dodge. The tongue slithered around him, binding him tightly. Orochimaru pulled the helpless genin towards him while Sasuke stood, unable to move.
" I really wish I had time to play with you. You'd be quite entertaining." said Orochimaru, raising his hand. Five blue flickers of fire appeared on his fingertips and he brought his hand down towards Naruto.
However, he never connected.
Sakura had awoken a minute before and climbed out, finding Sasuke and Naruto faced with the ninja that had trapped her in genjutsu. She watched in horror as Naruto was caught and finally made her move, focusing a burst of chakra for maximum speed and lunging with a kunai towards the helpless Naruto. She focused the remainder of her pathetic chakra reserve to her arms and slashed at the tongue holding Naruto, slicing though it like it was a thick cable. With the inertia she possessed she had slammed into Naruto, knocking them both out of the way to safety.
" Sakura!" cried Sasuke as his teammates fell onto the rubble. Orochimaru retracted his bleeding tongue into his mouth, smiling crazily. He turned his attention to Sakura, who was struggling to stand as Naruto freed himself from the tongue.
Sasuke knew then, unless he acted now his teammates were going to die.
Racing forward, he activated his Sharingan and dove towards Orochimaru. The pale ninja spun and blocked his punch and countered, but Sasuke ducked and spun in a low kick. Orochimaru flipped backwards to avoid the hit, leaping himself open. Sasuke leapt up, catching his opponent and sending them sailing off the fallen tree. He locked his feet around Orochimaru's head as he flipped him over and drove him into the ground in the Peregrine Falcon Drop, one of the Uchiha clans finishing taijutsu moves. He doubted it would stop Orochimaru, however, so he leapt backwards and rejoined his team.
" That was disgusting!" whined Naruto, wiping spit from his hand.
" Sasuke-kun, did you beat him?" asked Sakura, who was panting heavily. She had used two large bursts of chakra to make herself fight at a decent level, if only for seconds, leaving her exhausted.
" No. I need you two to help me, I have a plan." said Sasuke, taking out his shuriken and wire. " I'm going to hit him with my post powerful ninjutsu, but I'll need help. Sakura, with me, Naruto, distract him with clones but don't get close. Whatever jutsu he was going to use on you looked pretty bad."
" Got it!" said Naruto, forming twenty shadow clones as Orochimaru pushed himself out of the ground. The clones charged forward and Orochimaru began to dispatch them with ease. The genin turned and fled, leading Orochimaru to a position that would better suit Sasuke's plan.
Orochimaru followed, feeling rather amused. When the Uchiha was fighting for his teammates he was quite impressive, so he had decided he'd rough them up a bit more to see what the boy could do. He smiled as he landed on a large bough and found himself surrounded by more clones.
" Now!" shouted Naruto, directing them to mob Orochimaru. The snake ninja parried their punches and kicks as if he was not even aware of them, then destroyed the clones with graceful, effortless swipes of a kunai. As the last clone disappeared, however, a number of shurkien, trailing wires, flew out of nowhere.
He watched in amazement as six wires wrapped around him and the tree trunk, binding him tightly. Another shuriken embedded itself into the wood by his head and he looked up, his eye following the wire to Sasuke. Sasuke performed a hand seal and breathed out a intense jet of flame that followed the wire down to Orochimaru.
Amazing! he thought before pulling himself deep inside his body. His outer skin was like that of a snakes and could be shed, and it formed a protective barrier around him. He may be better than Itachi after all.
" We got him!" cheered Sakura, running up the tree trunk and landing by the charred Orochimaru. She had pinned him to the tree with wires for Sasuke so he could focus on his jutsu.
" Finally." sighed Sasuke, leaping down next to her. He was tired, battered, and nearly of weapons and chakra.
" Who is this guy?" asked Naruto, walking over. For the first time they noticed that he was covered in slowly vanishing cuts and bruises and his clothes were completely torn up.
" He said he was Orochimaru." said Sasuke, taking a seat. " I recognize the name but I can't place it. He claimed to be seeing how I was progressing compared to Itachi."
" Itachi?" asked Sakura.
" My brother." said Sasuke, feeling a wave of hate as he thought of the traitor.
" Man, everyone is always here for you!" whined Naruto.
" Hey!" said a voice. Naruto paled, recognizing it. Moments later, Anko landed by them. " What the hell are you three doing?"
" Resting. We just killed him." said Sasuke, pointing to Orochimaru.
" He isn't dead." said Anko, forcing them to their feet. " Move back."
Confused but not willing to argue to their examiner, they all leapt to a branch a distance away. They watched as Anko began to look over Orochimaru's body, who tensed the moment it moved.
" Impressive, Sasuke. Your not a disappointment after all." he said as his skin began to fall away slowly. However, when he looked up to Anko, his eyes widened in horror. " No!" A moment later he froze as a snake protruded from Anko's sleeve and bit him, filling him with paralytic poison."
" Yes!" she said with a laugh, jamming a kunai into his face. She continued to cut, tear, and hack her way though the helpless ninja until he fell to the ground. She performed a number of hand seals and jutsu, burning him, causing his form to shift as if bubbling, and draining all his blood out, until she finally sat back.
And began to cackle madly.
" You three, over here!" she said between joyous guffaws. The genin joined her, wary of the corpse. " I have to thank you three. That attack you used, he avoided it by using his favorite technique, which forms a replacement body inside your old one. It takes a little bit, but it's really useful. Now, I could never have killed him normally…and I don't think anyone could. But since he thought it was only you punks, he was totally off guard!"
" He wasn't that tough." said Naruto with a grin. Anko's eyes narrowed.
" That was Orochimaru. He was more powerful than the Hokage. He was just playing with you. Thanks to a fluke, you helped me kill the most wanted missing-nin to ever come from this village."
" Why do you want to kill him?" asked Sakura, backing away from the corpse.
" He used to be my teacher, but he ruined my life then cast me aside when he decided I was worthless." said Anko, revealing a mark on her neck. " He was experimenting with cursed seals. I might not look it, and I'm only a special jounin so you don't have to believe me, but I used to have the potential to become as strong as the Third."
" Really?" asked Naruto, impressed.
" Really. The old hentai even admits it. But when Orochimaru put this seal on me, it screwed me up. I couldn't progress without his aid and I was bound to him."
" He was after Sasuke-kun!" said Sakura in alarm. " He was probably going to do the same thing!"
While Sasuke showed no reaction, he mentally sighed in relief. He'd dodged a serious hurdle in his quest to kill his brother there.
" Well, you got lucky then." said Anko with a cheery laugh.
" Hey, wait a moment., he swallowed a scroll we need." said Sasuke, hoping to recover it. To their disgust Anko cut into Orochimaru's stomach and pulled out a slime covered scroll.
" I bet you needed this." said Anko, tossing the earth scroll to Sakura, who grabbed it out of reflex. She seized up a moment later as the goo began to drip down her hands.
" Let's head back to camp." said Sasuke, motioning for them to follow.
" Why? We should go to the tower!' protested Naruto.
" I'm beat up, Sakura's out of chakra, and we need to talk." said Sasuke in a commanding tone. Sakura nodded in agreement with her crush, which was enough for Naruto. The genin raced off, leaving Anko alone.
" Oh, man, everyone's gonna freak." said Anko, hefting Orochimaru's corpse over her shoulder.
" How did you not notice these?" asked Sakura, digging another large splinter out of Naruto's back. The blonde hand his shirt off and was facing towards the fire while Sakura helped patch him up. Beaten up as they were ( Sakura had chakra exhaustion, Sasuke had a deep wound in his leg where he had to stab himself to escape the genjutsu, and both had been knocked around by Orochimaru for a while), it turned out Naruto was in worse condition.
" I donno." said Naruto lamely. " After that guy hit me with the air blast I hit a couple trees, so I guess it happened then, but I was kinda not paying attention."
" You should have died." said Sasuke, checking his bandages. " I saw the debris. That area was completely destroyed, but you took the hit full on and lived?"
" I guess I healed." said Naruto, looking down.
" And it has nothing to do with the red chakra or the changes you went though?" asked Sasuke, cocking a eyebrow. " I think you should tell us what's going on."
" What? Red chakra?" asked Sakura. She had not seen what happened.
" It happens when I get angry." said Naruto quietly, biting his lip. " Like when I thought Haku killed you."
" That's how you beat him?" asked Sasuke, glad to have an answer at last.
" I also saw you two dead, but I think I was tricked." said Naruto with a sigh. " That's why I was changed when you found me."
" We were dead?" asked Sakura, brow furrowing.
" Probably genjutsu." said Sasuke calmly, looking up at the dark sky. He could make out a few stars twinkling faintly.
" And what were the changes?" asked Sakura.
" Here. I'll show you." said Sasuke, turning to Naruto. " Ramen tastes like shit."
" Bastard! Take it back!" shouted Naruto angrily. Instantly, his eyes went red with slit like pupils, the whisker marks spread, and his incisors grew more fang like. Sakura backed away in shock.
" I was lying." said Sasuke calmly. Naruto reverted instantly. It tastes worse. thought the Uchiha.
" What the hell!" shouted Sakura. " When did that start?"
" When Haku put fifty senbon into Sasuke." said Naruto, scratching the back of his head.
" Do you know what causes it?" asked Sasuke hopefully. Naruto hadn't been able to explain the healing, so if his was related, which was likely, they would still be answerless.
" Yeah, but I'm not telling you." said Naruto with a laugh. Sakura, who knew Naruto's smiles quite well, was able to see that this one was a hastily formed mask for something very painful.
" Naruto…whatever it is, you can tell us." she said softly. " We're your friends. We know your just some dork who likes ramen and wants to be the Hokage, not some sort of demonic killing machine."
Naruto sweat dropped.
"…you're a demonic killing machine?" asked Sakura, blinking.
" Not really." said Naruto nervously. " Promise you guys won't scream and run away?"
" Of course!" said Sakura, feeling insulted.
" The Kyubi is sealed in my stomach." said Naruto with a sigh. " The Fourth couldn't kill it, so he had to trap it in someone. He chose me for some reason. When I get scared or angry and need to fight it helps me."
" Naruto, I'm serious." said an annoyed Sakura. " What is it really? A bloodline?"
" I'm telling the truth!" said Naruto defensively.
" Oh, come on!" shouted Sakura, bopping him on the head. " Your telling me that we've been lied to our entire lives, that the Fourth isn't really a hero, and some how a thousand foot tall monster fit in your stomach?"
" It's not really in my stomach. That's just where the seal it."
" Then why can we see it?"
" Fine!" Naruto channeled chakra and the black marks appeared. Sakura nearly fell back in shock.
" Holy crap." she said, eyes wide.
" Hn." said Sasuke casually. That certainly explained everything.
" So, what's it like?" asked Sakura curiously.
" What's what like?"
" The seal, everything. Can you talk to the Kyubi?"
" I don't think so." said Naruto, thinking deep. " The old man asked me if I ever talked to foxes when I was little, but I said no. I don't think about the seal and that stuff most of the time."
" Great." sighed Sakura, leaning against a tree.
" What?" asked Naruto cautiously.
" Sasuke-kun's got the Sharingan and he's a genius, you've got the most powerful creature in existence helping you, and what do I have? Good chakra control and a large forehead." sighed the pink haired girl. " How am I supposed to compete with you two?"
" You could try not flirting and training more." grunted Sasuke.
" Wait, you two aren't scared?" asked Naruto, feeling relieved.
" Naruto, you aren't any more threatening than before." said Sasuke plainly. " And it's not as if I couldn't take you down."
" Oh come on! I would kick your ass!"
" Naruto, if I ever had to kill you, I would just put poison in a bowl of ramen and hand it to you."
" What kind of poison?" asked Naruto, considering the risk.
" You idiot." sighed Sakura as she pulled a stick out of his shoulder. She frowned, noticing that scabs had barely begun to form.
" Naruto, are you feeling alright?" she asked, dabbing a large cut.
" You aren't healing like you were." said Sakura, taking out some more bandages. " Maybe using the red chakra makes it harder for you to heal?"
" Or, it might be the red chakra that heals him and he used it all up." said Sasuke. " Every power has a weakness."
" I'm still better than you." said Naruto, glowering.
" Want some ramen?"
" Here I am, born to be queen, champion of the universe!" sung Anko, kicking open the door to the Hokage's office. The assembled jounin were waiting for information on their teams progress in the exam, but that was forgotten as the examiner pranced towards the stunned Sarutobi, a mutilated corpse slung over her shoulders. With a giggle she slammed it down on top of the paperwork.
A number of foreign jounin were wondering if the 'nice guy' reputation that Kohona tried to maintain was a blatant lie.
" Anko…is this….?" asked the Third, looking over the remains.
" Yep. Orochimaru. Me and Kakashi's brats killed him dead." said the nearly psychotic woman.
" Go team seven. Yay." said Kakashi, not looking up from his porn.
" Welp, I'm off to celebrate my victory with sake and male strippers!" said Anko, waving as she walked out of the room. The stunned silence was very gratifying for her. She made her way down the stairs, skipping and humming to herself.
You did well.
Anko collapsed against the wall, feeling the seal surge. The pain was overwhelming, similar to like it had felt when it had first activated, but now there was a feeling like it was spreading though her. She drew a well polished kunai and held it like a mirror, and to her horror found that the ink like seal seemed to be flowing though her skin though her veins.
I never really expected you to win, but with the right circumstances, anything is possible, isn't it, Anko-chan?
" Fuck you." she growled at the voice in her head.
But I must digress, I had a backup plan. If you got lucky enough to kill me, your seal assured I would not die. And I get a nice young body out of the deal too!
" FUCK YOU!" she shouted at the top of her lungs, stabbing the kunai into her stomach. She fell backwards, reeling from the pain as black blood poured from her.
That won't work, Anko-chan. I've already won here.
Suddenly, she felt her mind pushed aside. Her body seemed to move on it's own, getting to it's feet. She pulled the kunai out, finding that the would was already sealing. The blood evaporated, making it seem like nothing had happened.
No… no no no! she cried in despair.
" Yes." said her body, now fully possessed Orochimaru. " Now, I think we should go see how those dear little children are doing."
" Anko! What's…cough…going on?" said Hayate, racing down the stairs.
" Oh, nothing. I just tripped." said Orochimaru, imitating Anko's laugh.
" And you swore at it?" sighed Hayate before coughing.
" It tripped me. You know I hate tripping."
That night had been tense. Since they were trying to recover they were trying to rest and stay hidden, but out of fear of being attacked none of them slept well. As the dawn of the second day began, they still felt like weak, even though Naruto wouldn't admit it.
" We have two options." said Sasuke. They were hiding in a pit they had dug and covered with bushes for extra cover. Between the thick tree cover and trap perimeter, they felt pretty safe. " We make a break for it now, or we rest up for a while longer."
" I say we do it now!" said Naruto enthusiastically. " I hate all this waiting around!"
" Naruto, your still not healing much." said Sakura. It seemed without the red chakra Naruto didn't heal very well, and though he had finished scabbing up, it would be a while before he was better.
" It would be best if we waited to make our break for the tower until we were healed and refreshed, but if we wait too long, people will probably be waiting by the tower in last ditch attempt to get a scroll. Since we have to go there eventually, that's the one place everyone will be waiting."
They were distracted from their conversation by a series of exploding tags detonating.
" Shh." said Sasuke, hunkering down. They genin lay silently until Kabuto and his two teammates landed in the clearing. They looked slightly burnt, but they had avoided the traps full effect.
" Can you sense them, Misumi?" Kabuto asked the genin with the cloth mask as glasses. The other, who had some sort of black lenses for eyes, looked around cautiously as Misumi focused, trying to sense nearby chakra signatures.
" They've been here recently." said Yoroi, looking at the small fire pit. " Within the last couple hours."
" I'll bet they will be back. With all those traps, it's quite safe here." said Kabuto, adjusting his glasses. Misumi nodded to him and the two spun, tossing shurkien into the brush where Team Seven was hiding.
" Shit!" swore Sasuke, drawing his last kunai and deflecting the projectiles. Naruto rolled over, avoid two and leaping out of the bushes. Sakura, unfortunately, had been in the middle and was unable to dodge.
Can't panic! she thought, panicking as the star shaped blade flew towards her. If only I was as fast as Sasuke-kun! Suddenly, the scene of Sasuke catching the kunai with the chakra focusing technique flashed before her eyes and she held out her arm, focusing chakra from her palm. The shuriken stopped in midair a short distance from her, caught in the energy, and she drew it safely into her hand. She cringed as she felt the little chakra she had recovered completely drain. It had been far easier to run up a tree then catch the shuriken, since the tree wasn't moving.
" Easy." said Sasuke, walking out of the bushes. " If we have the same scroll, there's no need for us to fight." I have the heaven scroll and Sakura has the earth scroll, so either way we can fake it.
" Show us." said Yoroi in a taunting voice, taking out the green earth scroll.
" Here." said Sakura, catching on to Sasuke's plan. She drew out the earth scroll they had captured from Orochimaru ( she had spent a good deal of time cleaning it) and held it out for the other team to see. Kabuto and the others sighed.
" Figures. You're the third team with a earth scroll we've run into." he said, putting away a kunai.
" Yaaaaa!" shouted Naruto, leaping from the trees in a flying kick attack. Before Sakura or Sasuke could stop him, Misumi's arm extended and caught onto Naruto. " Let me go!" cried the blonde, struggling. I hate getting caught like this! Why does everyone on this test got some gross extendable body part! he thought angrily.
" Naruto, we're not going to fight them." sighed Sasuke.
" Oh." said Naruto, blinking as Misumi set him down.
" In fact, we might as well trade." said Kabuto, taking a seat. " You guy's look pretty beat up and we're low on some supplies."
" Can't help you there." said Sasuke with a sigh, preparing a lie. " We lost most our weapons against the Grass team."
" Yeah. There was some weird guy with a long tongue." said Naruto, taking a seat. Sakura quickly bopped him on the head to stop him from continuing. " What?" he asked, nursing the bump.
" Don't give away any information." she said darkly. Naruto gulped, then shut up.
" Well….I see you have fish at least." said Kabuto, motioning to the remains of their dinner from the day before. " You catch some for us I can patch you up."
" Deal. I'll go for the fish." said Sasuke. " But one of you come with me so my team's not outnumbered."
" Yoroi, go with him." said Kabuto, who appeared to be the team leader. The genin nodded and followed Sasuke towards the river. " So, who's first?"
" I'm just out of chakra. Naruto's in worse shape." said Sakura, brining Naruto over. Naruto removed his shirt, revealing a large number of bandages and cuts. As he removed them, Kabuto looked impressed.
" Who bound his wounds?" he asked, tossing the bloody cloth to the side.
" I did." said Sakura with a sigh. " I'm not very good at it…"
" Actually, you did perfect. I'm training to be a medic-nin, and I don't think I could have done much better." said Kabuto, giving her a reassuring smile. Sakura blushed slightly, feeling proud. Kabuto looked over Naruto's scab covered torso, then performed a jutsu and began to heal the wounds instantly.
" I'm surprised you didn't heal." said Kabuto as he worked.
" I got pretty beat up. One of the Sound guy's shot wind out of his hands and knocked me though a tree." said Naruto, wincing as a cut sealed.
" Naruto, it was at least ten. I saw the damage." sighed Sakura.
" Oh. I didn't count." said Naruto, scratching the back of his head.
" Your pretty durable them." said Kabuto, stopping the jutsu. " I can't heal you much more, since my team comes first, but I have these." He drew a small vial and poured out three black pellets, handing them to Sakura. " Both of you take one and give another to Sasuke. They're all purpose soldier pills. They help you recover blood, contain a bunch of nutrients, and have solidified chakra to boost your reserves. It won't be much, but it's something."
Sakura kept the pill for Sasuke and handed Naruto his. Naruto crunched down quickly, making a face at the bitter taste. Sakura swallowed hers and, a few moments later, felt a surge of chakra.
" Woah." she said, feeling steadier and rested. " Those things work great."
" Really?" asked Kabuto, looking at the vial. " I thought these were a little mediocre."
" Oh. It's probably because I have a pretty low chakra reserve." said Sakura with a sigh. " A small burst fou you is a lot for me."
" Were back." said Yoroi as he and Sasuke walked into the clearing. They had several fish and Sasuke quickly built a fire with a jutsu. Soon, the smell of cooking fish rose though the air.
" I got something." said Choji, sniffing deeply.
" How close?" asked Shikamaru, stretching. This was the third team they had detected, and hopefully this time it was someone weaker than them.
" Half a kilometer. Six fish, Fire country river trout, cooked on a open fire with a rotating spit." said Choji, sighing as the aroma wafted though his nostrils. A new, pungent smell was added. " Someone just added spices. Some basic pepper…salt…garlic…sage?"
" Sakura." said Ino, smiling widely. " She used to pick it all the time because she liked the smell. Let's go."
Sighing as Shino's prediction became true, Shikamaru and Choji followed the bossy blonde.
" Well, we need to go." said Kabuto after his team had eaten. " Good luck."
" You two." said Naruto, waving as the genin departed.
" We need to move." said Sasuke, standing and stretching. "They'll probably give away our position and I think it's a good time to head for the tower."
" All right!" said Naruto, leaping to his feet. He was too happy with the prospect of continuing to argue with Sasuke for giving orders. They packed their meager supplies and had just begun to leave when Sasuke suddenly froze.
" Sasuke-kun?" asked Sakura, wondering why he had stopped.
Then he backhanded her.
" Sasuke-kun is mine, forehead girl!" shouted Sasuke, to the confusion of Naruto and Sakura. Sakura rolled to her feet, dodging a shadow that was moving across the ground. Naruto didn't see it in time and it touched him pooling around his feet. He suddenly froze as fell, seeming to lose control of his body. Sakura drew a kunai as Shikamaru walked out of the trees, the shadow connecting to his feet.
" Give up, Sakura." he said in a bored tone. " I've captured the baka and Ino's touring Sasuke's body. We've won."
" Nyeahh." said Sasuke, sticking out his tongue at her.
" What the hell is going on?" asked Naruto angrily. " Why can't I move?"
" Shadow possession." said Shikamaru with a sigh. He raised his arm, forcing Naruto to mimic his movement. " And Ino has a jutsu that lets her take over bodies."
" That's awesome!" said Naruto excitedly. " Can you teach me those?"
" No." said Shikamaru flatly. " No, who has the scroll?"
Crap….I don't know what scroll they have so I can only guess. thought Sakura. What I need to do is distract them so I can free Naruto and Sasuke-kun, though, so it's not a problem.
" Here!" she said, drawing the earth scroll and tossing it towards Shikamaru. She drew a kunai and began to sprint towards him He didn't even try catch it as it rolled across the ground.
" Figures." he said with a sigh, the shadow moving away from Naruto. " We have a earth scroll too."
" Oh." said Sakura, skidding to a halt.
" So close." sighed Sasuke. Suddenly, he got a evil smirk on his face. " Hey Saaakuraa….I just realized I'm closer to Sasuke then your ever going to be."
" GET OUT OF THERE!" she shouted. Suddenly, the smug smile turned to one of horror as Ino's soul returned to her body.
" Never do that again." growled Sasuke as Ino walked out of the bushes.
" Sure, Sasuke-kun!" said Ino, giving him a adoring look.
" Well, that was lucky." said Naruto, reaching for the scroll. A moment before he touched it, however, a blur moved past him, snatching it up. The genin in the breathing mask from before had returned and was escaping.
" After him!" shouted Sasuke. Not needing a second command Naruto and Sakura leapt in pursuit after him, chasing the Rain genin though the trees and leaving Ino's team behind.
While he wasn't a great fighter, the Rain genin was fast. They could barely keep up as he bounced and weaved though the tree branches, making his way into a dark section of the forest. They realized he was leading them into a trap, but they had no choice. He landed on a humongous mushroom, turning to face them.
" Stay back." commanded Sasuke. " We need to watch for his team."
" I'll do this!" said Naruto, forming a squad of clones. While they kept back the clones rushed in, triggering two explosive tags and being struck by a number of kunai.
" Well well…you avoided the trap." said the Rain genin in a muffled voice. A number of dark shapes morphed out of the shadows around them, completely surrounding where they stood. " But we were prepared for that."
" Clones." said Sasuke, drawing his kunai.
" Ha! Mine are better!" said Naruto, forming a ring of thirty shadow clones around his team.
" We could use weapons." said Sakura. Naruto nodded and several transformed into Fuuma shuriken.
" A clone user with kage level chakra…you will be a interesting opponent." said the lead Rain genin. He signaled the others and the clones charged in.
" I'll get the scroll back!" shouted Sasuke, hurling the large shuriken and cutting though several mud clones.
" Right!" said Naruto as his clones charged outwards.
Sakura threw the Fuuma shuriken in an arc, sending it whirling though the air in a half circle, cutting though a number of clones. If I calculate the trajectories, I can do a lot more damage. she thought as she hurled the second transformed clone. " Naruto, I need replacements!"
" Right, Sakura-chan!"
" You beat me before, but I won't make the same mistake twice." said the Rain genin, pocketing the scroll and charging. Sasuke activated his Sharingan and lazily caught the genin's feeble punch. He hadn't had a chance to do so before, and now it was laughably easy to beat the foreign ninja in taijutsu. After several more failed attacks the genin backed away, forming a pair of mud clones. With his Sharingan active Sasuke instantly memorized the seals.
" Thanks." he said as he channeled chakra into his eyes. His body instantly mimicked the jutsu and two mud clones of him appeared, matching the Rain genin's. As Sasuke and the clones lunged the Rain genin stood stunned and unable to defend himself as Sasuke wailed upon him.
" Another!" shouted Sakura, spinning and hurling her last transformed clone. It flew in straight, decapitating a pair of clones, then tilting to it's side and embedding itself in a third before reverting to a shadow clone. Around her the wild copies of Naruto were beating upon the mud clones recklessly. Both sides of clones were taking heavy casualties, but Naruto was able to keep making more.
" Here!" said a clone, leaping and transforming. Sakura caught it and hurled towards one clone who was holding back. He tried to dodge but it caught his leg, drawing blood.
" There's a real one!" she shouted to a number of clones. Saluting to her, they began to pursue the ninja as he fled. Sasuke landed by her a moment later.
" I got our scroll back plus one of theirs." said Sasuke, showing a second heaven scroll. " Let's go."
" Naruto!" Sakura called to the real Naruto. He turned and fell in with them as they raced away, leaving the clone battle behind.
They stopped after twenty minutes to catch their breath, hiding in the highest branches of the foreboding trees. It was nice to be able to see the sun and daylight after two days in continuous darkness, but they had no time to admire the view.
" Option one, we break for the tower." said Sasuke, panting heavily. The Sharingan still take up too much chakra…I can't risk using them for a few hours unless I want to collapse. " We might make it, but if we get attacked again we will not be fighting at full."
" Yeah." sighed Naruto. " I had to make way to many clones and I'm just starting to heal right again."
" I'm doing pretty well." said Sakura, wiping perspiration from her brow. " I'm tired, but I didn't have to use much chakra."
" So we rest for a little while as Sakura stands guard and then go for it?" suggested Naruto, standing up.
" I'm for it if you are, Sasuke-kun." said Sakura, checking her equipment pouch. She had two shuriken an a kunai remaining, but that would be enough for a short fight.
" Then it's…"
Sasuke never finished as a green blur connected with his face. Reeling from Lee's punch Sasuke tumbled downwards into the forest.
" I'll save Sasuke!" shouted Sakura, leaping after him. " Keep him busy!"
" Right!" said Naruto, turning to the grinning boy.
" I am glad Neji spotted you up here." said Lee, taking a 'bring it' stance. " I had hoped to fight you again. Please do not hold back."
" No problem there!" shouted Naruto as he formed a platoon of shadow clones. The raced towards Lee and leapt in a dual attack, half filling the air with kicks while the others rushed him on the ground. Just as before, however, Lee began to punch his way though them with blinding speed.
Below, Sakura had caught the unconscious Sasuke and landed on a branch. He had a severe nosebleed and a darkening eye, but after a quick check she didn't find anything too serious. She hear Naruto's battle cry from above as the clones met Lee in combat and drew her kunai. I can't match Lee, but I might be able to make a opening for Naruto…but I can't just leave Sasuke-kun alone…
" Pathetic." said a voice behind her. She spun and found Neji and Tenten standing on branches, having arrived soundlessly. " I had believed the Uchiha to be talented," continued Neji. " But I appear to be wrong."
" Lee's not having much trouble up there." said Tenten, watching the clones scatter from another taijutsu onslaught. " And we watched you, so we no your no threat. I guess you guy's were all hype."
Sakura gulped as the girl drew a handful of senbon.
" Don't worry. I'm just going to paralyze you." she said with a sigh, tossing them towards Sakura. The moved to fast for Sakura to get away and she could see that Tenten had good aim. She mustered her resolve and focused all her chakra at once, spreading it out though her entire body forcing it forwards. She caught the senbon like she had caught the shuriken earlier, holding them in the air as she collected them to return fire.
" What?" said Tenten, alarmed. " How the hell did you do that?"
" It's my specialty." said Sakura, bluffing. If I can make them rethink this, I might have a chance.
" Tenten, go back up Lee. You can't do anything here." commanded Neji, taking a combat stance. Tenten nodded once and leapt into the air to join Lee. Crap. thought Sakura as the Hyuuga charged.
" I asked you not to hold back!" said Lee, punching another clone in the face. He was standing in one place now, fighting them off with one hand.
" Want me to take him, Lee?" asked Tenten, landing by him.
" Yes. He was not as strong as I thought." sighed Lee.
" Shut up! I'm way stronger than you!" shouted Naruto in frustration. None of his attacks were getting though, no matter how many clones he attacked with. Before he could make more a senbon embedded deep into his right leg, making him stumble. In rapid succession twelve more struck him as Tenten used her deadly aim to shut down his movement.
" Wimp." said Tenten, smirking as she walked over. "Both your teammates went down easy too." she said as she glanced down to where Neji had finished shutting Sakura's chakra points. " Either you three are losers, your jounin sucks, or the teacher you had in the academy was a idiot."
" Don't insult Iruka-sensei." said Naruto, struggling to stand.
" I guess I struck a nerve." said Tenten with a smirk. " Sorry."
" You'd better be. You say anything about Iruka-sensei in front of me and I'll kill you." Naruto said with a gasp as he pulled out the senbon in his leg.
" I believe I know how to motivate him to fight!" said Lee, his eyes lighting up. " The fires of one's youth burn bright when fighting for the honor of one you care for!"
" Lee…." sighed Tenten, sweat dropping.
" Naruto!" said Lee, pointing towards the genin-turned-pincushion. " Your academy teacher was a poor ninja!"
" That's all you could co…." began Tenten, but she was distracted by the staccato sound of the senbon popping out of Naruto.
" Don't say anything about Iruka-sensei." growled Naruto, eyes gone red.
" Yosh! It works! Naruto, Iruka is not only a poor ninja, but he had bad body odor!"
Now pissed off enough that the Kyuubi's chakra was oozing from him, Naruto lunged upwards at full force, shattering the bark of the branch where he had leapt off. Lee and Tenten barely dodged as he swung a punch down towards them. He struck the bough and continued though as the section of the tree shattered.
" Pathetic." said Neji coldly as Sakura collapsed, cut of from her chakra and barely able to move. Behind her Sasuke twitched, waking up. Neji was about to say something more when the ripple of chakra came though, signaling that Naruto had begun to use the red chakra. Above, Lee and Tenten were dodging though the trees and Naruto smashed though everything with his insane strength.
He didn't even see Sasuke's roundhouse kick until it connected with his face. He flipped, landing on his feet and activating his Byakugan. His vision fell upon Sasuke, his Sharingan spinning rapidly.
Hyuuga techniques can't be copied, but I can learn his style and know what to watch for. thought Sasuke, taking a reserved stance. Jyuuken gives him a edge in taijutsu, but my ninjutsu are stronger, so I'll wait for an opening.
Sasuke dashed forwards as Tenten toppled from the branches above, rolling to a halt near Sakura. She had stumbled and been hit by a large piece of debris as she attacked Naruto. He's managed to hit her, but not before she sunk a kunai into his shoulder.
Not that he noticed it.
She's weakened. thought Sakura, getting to her feet. I can't use chakra, but I might get some hits in on her. She drew her shuriken and threw then, but Tenten was able to deflect them with two shuriken, even in her weakened state.
Sasuke leapt onto the side of a tree and raced upwards, Neji following close behind. He's forcing the fight to be at short range…thought Sasuke changing direction and going around the trunk. He'd seem a good number of Neji's hand to hand moves now and knew what to expect, but he was still outmatched. With his Byakugan Neji saw every attempt Sasuke made to get away and stopped it, leaving Sasuke at too close of a range to safely use his ninjutsu.
I can't handle him! thought Sasuke, panicking. He's almost as tough as Lee!
Suddenly, Lee crashed into the tree before him, rolling out of the way a second before Naruto impacted deep into the wood with a kick. Lee leapt away, Naruto following closely.
No way Naruto beats me again! thought Sasuke, enraged. He spun on the spot, forming the hand seals for the grand fireball technique. Neji was mere feet away when Sasuke exhaled, releasing the intense flames and blasting the tree apart. Sasuke was knocked backwards from the concussive force of the attack, falling to the ground below. He landed heavily, rolling though the bushes. Nearby him he saw Neji, his clothes burnt and hair singed, land roughly, coughing from smoke inhalation.
" Come on!" shouted Naruto, smashing another log as Lee dodged away. " I thought you wanted me to go full force!"
" I believe I was being reckless when I said that." said Lee nervously, flipping onto a large rock. " Tenten and Neji often tell me that that is my biggest flaw."
" I can think of a bigger one. Checked a mirror lately? You look just like that freak you call a teacher." growled Naruto.
Lee's eye twitched.
" Do not insult Guy-sensei!" shouted Lee, dashing forward as his arm bandages unraveled. He vanished in a blur of motion, appearing below Naruto and kicking him into the air.
" Naruto just lost." said Tenten casually. She'd fought briefly with Sakura, but now had a firm hold on the girl by the hair.
" Naruto!" cried Sakura as Lee appeared behind him, the bandaged wrapping around the blonde. They began to spin as they fell downwards and struck the ground with incredible force, creating a large crater. Lee flew from the dust cloud, skidding over the ground towards Tenten and Sakura.
" Lee, is he all right?" asked Tenten, seeming concerned. " It's be bad if you killed him."
Sakura's eyes snapped wide open. I'm just sitting here uselessly while Sasuke-kun and Naruto fight, again.
As she was weaponless, she reached over to Lee and grabbed the kunai from his leg holster. Before he or Tenten reacted Sakura sliced though her hair, then spun in a low kick. Tenten and Lee dodged it with ease, but it gave her long enough to get away and make a dash for Naruto. She found his legs sticking out of the ground motionlessly and grabbed them, pulling as hard as she could. Naruto popped out of the ground and she set him down, checking to see if he was alive.
" What the hell was that?" he shouted, his feral eyes snapping open.
" He's still going?" said Tenten in shock as Naruto got to his feet with Sakura's aid. Neji landed besides her and Lee as Sasuke joined his team, leaving the two sides facing each other. Neither was in any condition to fight any longer, but they stared at each other intensely, not willing to back down.
" I am ready to continue." said Lee shakily, taking a rough combat stance. He seemed exhausted and barely able to stand.
" Same here." growled Naruto.
" Neji, are you hurt?" asked Tenten, summoning a broadsword.
" I have some light burns, but I'm mostly okay." said Neji raspily. " I'm having some trouble breathing, though. It'd be better if we backed off."
" I'm not going to let you." said Sasuke, eyes narrowing.
" Tenten, buy us time." said Neji, supporting Lee as he fled. Tenten nodded and threw the sword towards Sasuke, who dodged to the side with ease. Naruto charged, instantly being struck by a number of shuriken which Tenten threw rapid-fire, but he just shrugged them off. Sasuke began for form hand seals and fired a number of small fireballs towards Tenten as she fought Naruto with a longspear. She managed to keep him at bay while dodging the flaming attacks, but it was obvious she couldn't hold out for long. Sakura grabbed several shuriken from the dirt and watched Tenten move for a moment, then hurled them when she found the pattern she was using to avoid the attacks.
Tenten saw the blades coming and dodged, but one grazed her left thigh and left a long cut. She stumbled, barely blocking with the spear haft as Naruto tried to punch her. The weapon broke and she was knocked back against a tree, where a blast of flame struck. As the fire dissipated, a cindering log fell to the ground, signaling that Tenten had escaped.
" Finally." sighed Naruto as the red chakra vanished.
" Yeah." said Sakura, relaxing. Sasuke came walking up shakily, then fell to the ground. Sakura managed to catch him, but a moment later Naruto toppled as well. Sasuke was in a cold sweat and had ragged breathing like Kakashi had when he had overused his Sharingan in the Wave country, while Naruto's wounds were all left only half healed, revealing he was out of red chakra.
" Naruto!" she cried, setting Sasuke down gently. " Are you alive?" she asked as she rushed to his side. She sighed in relief as she heard him being to snore. " I guess we're going to rest while I stand guard anyways." she said, looking to her downed teammates.
After a half hour of work she had moved them into a small rock cave not far from where they had fought. It was barely big enough for the three of them, but it was obscured by a number of shrubs. She'd collected the weapons Tenten had left behind, giving them a sword, a handful of kunai, and plenty of shuriken and senbon. She was tired and sore and had never before wanted to go to sleep as bad as she did now, but she was forcing herself to stay awake by means of pinching and the occasional slap to the face. Naruto snored lightly as he recovered and every now and then Sasuke let out a groan, spurring Sakura to remain vigilant. Day turned to night and night was beginning to turn to morning when Naruto sat up and let out a loud yawn.
" Naruto…your okay?" said Sakura weakly.
" Yeah. I slept pretty good." he said, blinking. Suddenly he remembered what had happened beforehand. " Where are we? Where's the others?" he asked, looking around the small cave. He didn't get any reply and realized a moment later that Sakura had fallen asleep and was leaning against him, head on his shoulder.
" Yosh." he whispered with a large grin, wishing he could do a arm pump without waking her up. I've been dreaming about this happening on a mission!
" Hn." grunted Sasuke, sitting up and covering his eyes with his hand. I think I'm okay now. he thought. He'd woken up for brief periods while he had been recovering, but hadn't tried to do anything. His body had been overtaxed from using his eyes as extensively as he had, even with his Uchiha bloodline. I still haven't mastered them so I should be more careful. he thought, peering though his fingers as his eyes adjusted to the light.
" We have to get there tonight." said Sasuke. Sakura and Naruto nodded. They had taken the day to recover and get some food, preparing for one final push. " It's the fourth night, so we need to get though tonight if we want to rest up before the next exam."
" We should focus on stealth." said Sakura. " We're still not able to fight anyone, so we can't just go full speed."
" I hate sneaking around." sighed Naruto, taking a bite of a mushroom they had found and identified as non-poisonous. It still tastes slimy and gross. Naruto thought, resisting the urge to gag as he chewed the fungus.
" Well tough, Naruto." said Sasuke, giving him a glare. " It's what we're going to do."
" Fine, fine." said Naruto, getting to his feet.
They left carefully, making sure nobody was watching. They had taken as many shuriken as they each could, planning to spam anyone they met with them and try to escape. It was a slow process to make their may though the trees without using bursts of chakra to leap from branch to branch, but they made steady progress. They had to cross a river, but nobody attacked to their relief. After that it was easier to progress onwards, since the trees became thicker and there were more overhanging vines. The forest slowly became swampy until they were walking though ankle deep mud.
" I hope there aren't any leeches." whined Naruto, gingerly walking though a puddle. Sakura and Sasuke turned and glared at him.
" What?" he asked , cowering under their gazes.
" Naruto, now there are going to be leeches." said Sakura, a vein on her forehead bulging. " Never say stuff like that."
" Aw, come on! Like I made them appear!" said Naruto defensively. His eyes suddenly went wide as a large slimy creature landed on his shoulder.
" Run!" shouted Sakura, dashing forward. Sasuke fled behind her, followed by Naruto who had threw the leech off and drawn a kunai. More began to drop from above, so they hacked though them and dodged as they escaped the swamplands. They finally came to the edge of the forest by the tower and fell to their knees panting for breath.
" There it is." said Naruto, looking to the large tower. It was only ten meters to the door. He stood up and was about to say something when Sakura suddenly slumped into a slouch, drew the spare heaven scroll they had captured, and threw if into the air. Ino leapt out of a tree and grabbed it as Naruto noticed the shadow coming from a bush to Sakura's feet break apart.
" Ha!" laughed Ino, dashing towards the door, joined by Choji and Shikamaru. Team seven sighed and followed them in, not bothering to run.
" You can't chase us in here!" protested Ino as they entered the small chamber. " We got to the finish with the scroll!"
" We did too." said Sasuke, drawing the two scrolls. " You stole our extra."
" You beat two teams?" asked Choji, sounding surprised.
" More." said Naruto, picking at a scab on his cheek. He'd never had them before and they felt weird.
" Well, in any event, thanks for helping us win, Sakura!" said Ino, sticking her tongue out at her rival. Sakura looked at her with a exasperated expression for a moment, reached down to her leg, pulled of a large leech, and threw it towards Ino, who screamed in terror and ran behind Choji.
" So what now?" asked Naruto.
" We open the scrolls." said Sasuke, lying the scrolls on the ground and rolling them out. There was a burst of smoke as Iruka appeared.
" Hey! You made it!" he said, smiling.
" Iruka-sensei!" said Naruto, face lighting up. " What's going on? Why are you here?"
" If you tried to open the scrolls during the test, I was supposed to appear and knock you out." said Iruka with a laugh. " But if you open them here, I'm to congratulate you on getting though!"
" Give me those!" said Ino, snatching the scrolls from Shikamaru. She unrolled them and Anko appeared.
" Hey there, brat." said Orochimaru, who was controlling Anko's body, smiling sinisterly to Naruto. Naruto leapt behind Sakura, shuddering. " So, who passed?"
" We did!" said Ino loudly.
" They got here at the same time." said Iruka. Naruto caught his eyes and saw that he looked very proud of him.
" Well, in with you!" said the possessed examiner, pointing to the door. " You've got some time to rest, and believe me, you'll need it."
The genin followed Iruka who lead them to some rather plain barracks. The genin collapsed on them immediately, noticing that Shino's team, Neji's team, and Kabuto's team were there as well.
" Hey!" said Naruto, looking to Kabuto. " You got though too?"
" Yeah." said the silver haired boy. " What happened? You guy's look pretty beat up."
" Ask them," said Sakura, pointing to Neji, Lee, and Tenten. " A Rain team, giant leeches, and some missing-nin guy who snuck in."
" Sleepy time." said Naruto, walking to a cot and falling onto it. He began to snore instantly.
" Is this everyone?" asked Sasuke, looking around.
" No. The Sand team and the Sound team also got though." explained Kabuto. " They keep the countries separated to prevent fights."
" Is there food?" asked Choji, stomach growling.
" There's some rice balls, but that's it." said Kiba, pointing to a tray of food. " There was some meat earlier, but I gave it to Akamaru."
As Choji burst out in tears, Sakura and Sasuke found their way to the two empty cots by Naruto. It wasn't a moment later that the entirety of Team Seven was asleep.
" Naruto is more dangerous than he looks." said Neji, dabbing ointment on a burn. " Lee, how does he compare in taijutsu to you?"
" Normally, he's very weak, but when his eyes went red and he tapped into his second chakra his strength and speed increased massively. I was barely faster than him and he hit as hard as Guy-sensei." said Lee, still feeling a punch he had taken to the jaw. " And he was able to get up after being hit by the Lotus."
" Sasuke's a big problem too." said Tenten. " He's got some strong ninjutsu and hit Neji pretty hard."
" I will be fine." said Neji, eyes narrowing. " But I want a rematch."