"Bijuken Sentai Retsuranger"
"Tailed Beast-Fist Squadron Strike Rangers"
Chapter 6: "Dog's Fang, Fox's Tail"
Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto, Viz, and Shonen Jump. Power Rangers belongs to Disney and formerly Saban Entertainment. Super Sentai belongs to Toei. I only own the plot of this story, and even that was given to me by someone else. (Thanks, Reaper INI.)
Author's note: Yeah, things are starting to heat up, aren't they? It's Naruto's turn at bat now, and his opponent is Kiba Inuzuka. Just how will Naruto fare against Kiba, and can his Fox-Spirit Beast-Fist stand against Kiba's style? How will the other Strike Rangers stand against their opponents, and how will their true enemy reveal himself? And what about Orochimaru? For the answers to those questions and others, read on.
Naruto Uzumaki and Kiba Inuzuka moved to the arena, facing each other on opposite sides. "How's about we have ourselves a good fight?" Naruto asked.
"Yeah, it'll be good, all right," Kiba retorted. "I'll wipe the floor with your ass."
Naruto smirked. "We'll see who wipes the floor with whose ass."
"Begin!" Hayate called out before moving out of the way.
On Kiba's head, Akamaru barked loudly. Naruto tilted his head in confusion. "Did he just say he was gonna kick my ass?" Naruto asked.
"Something like that," Kiba replied snidely.
Naruto shifted into a fighting stance. "Bring it."
"Sure, but first . . ." Kiba popped a pill into Akamaru's mouth, which Akamaru swallowed. "Beast Human Clone!"
Immediately, Kiba shifted into a feral crouch and Akamaru transformed into an animalistic replica of Kiba. Naruto looked at the two in shock. "Damn . . . why'd you make him as ugly as you?!"
Kiba snarled. "You're gonna pay for that!" He and Akamaru charged at Naruto with incredible speed, speed that Naruto was honestly ill-prepared for. The duo surrounded Naruto, clawing and slashing at him with inhuman speed and strength.
"Ah, crap!" Naruto yelled. "What the hell?!"
"Ah, good old Four Legs Technique," R.J. remarked from the balcony. "Among the proud ranks of Inuzuka clan taijutsu. It operates on somewhat similar principles to Beast-Fist, only using an actual animal to fight alongside you instead of an animal spirit synchronizing with a human body."
"Come on, Naruto," Yugito snapped. "It's no different than fighting R.J.-sensei!"
Naruto skidded back from Kiba and Akamaru. "She's right," he muttered to himself. "Dogs and wolves are both canines, but one's domesticated and the other . . . isn't." He chuckled sardonically. "Hey, Kiba! Do you know that dogs are just watered-down, domesticated wolves?!"
Well, it was actually somewhat more complex than that, but the goal wasn't scientific accuracy. The goal was getting under Kiba's skin just enough to throw him off-balance. The goal was achieved, as Kiba snarled to Akamaru, "Let's show him what 'domesticated' and 'watered-down' really mean."
Akamaru snarled back in response and both he and Kiba charged Naruto again. This time, they launched themselves at him while spinning like high-speed drills. Once they got within striking range, they tore into Naruto, slashing and swiping and clawing at him until they threw him aside, bleeding.
"You're not so tough, after all," Kiba remarked. "Are you? Are you?!"
Hinata looked at the scene in horror. Kiba was her teammate and friend, but Naruto was . . . Naruto was . . . What was Naruto to her? An idol just out of reach? A faint ideal? A childish crush? An object of near-fanatical obsession? The boy she . . . she . . .
"Naruto . . ." she murmured. "Naruto . . . Naruto . . ."
Kurenai and R.J. looked at Hinata's troubled but increasingly resolute face with interest. "Hmm?"
"Naruto . . ." Hinata exclaimed. "Get . . . up . . . get up . . . GET UP!"
Hearing Hinata shout for him to get up snapped Naruto fully awake, as he sprang to his feet. "Sorry, Kiba. But it's been my mistake, holding back on you like this. Had to get a feel for your style. You fight a lot like R.J.-sensei, speed and strength and animal ferocity in one package. But . . ." Naruto smirked. "He didn't need a copycat partner to help him fight me."
"Yap, yap, yap," Kiba sneered. "Is that the only way you can fight me?"
"No," Naruto retorted. "It's just fun getting under your skin. Now come on . . . both of you."
"You asked for it!" Kiba shouted, as he and Akamaru launched into another Dual Piercing Fang attack. This time, Naruto calmly waited for them to get close enough for him to strike, and then he broke out into a series of fast dance moves that ended in punches and kicks to both Kiba and Akamaru while directing him away from their assaults.
"What kind of fighting style is that?" Kakashi asked.
"Fox-Spirit Beast-Fist," R.J. replied. "Its main strengths are speed, misdirection, and unpredictability. Hence why it looks like a dance."
"Sounds mighty impressive," Guy remarked. "Now I want to see how he fares against Lee or Neji even more."
Naruto grabbed Kiba by the wrist and flipped him overhead, while whirling into a kick to Akamaru that brought him down. "How do you like me now?"
"Bastard!" Kiba snarled, launching into a solo Piercing Fang, the final strikes of which Naruto blocked and deflected with incredible speed and skill until he seemed to get bored and threw him back to Akamaru. Akamaru looked at Kiba and then they both turned to Naruto, growling at the Fox-Fist user. They moved to attack him again, zipping around him to deliver quick strikes and then dodge out of Naruto's way before Naruto could retaliate. "Hope your fancy dance moves can save you now!"
"Actually, they can," Naruto retorted, twisting his hips while on the ground to launch himself into a series of whirling kicks to both Kiba and Akamaru, knocking the duo against the walls.
"He's got moves . . ." Sakura remarked.
"Yeah, who knew dancing could also be a fighting style?" Ino agreed.
Sasuke scoffed, muttering, "Whatever."
"Now, Sasuke, don't tell me you're jealous," Kakashi remarked.
"I'm not," Sasuke answered coldly. "He's just nothing special."
"Don't tell me that's all you've got!" Naruto shouted. "Weren't you the guy talking trash about how he was gonna kick my ass?"
Kiba and Akamaru rose to their feet from opposite sides of Naruto, moving to attack him on all sides at high speed. Naruto merely broke out into a series of quick strikes with his elbows, feet, fists, and knees that came off as dance moves at first. Managing to strike them both down, Naruto pulled out a smoke bomb and threw it to the ground, the bomb exploding on impact and spreading a crimson miasma.
"You think that's going to be enough to save your ass, punk?!" Kiba yelled, charging right into the miasma, running for where he'd last seen Naruto. Immediately, he was punched by someone, and he punched back, knocking that someone to the ground. "Yeah, nice try, Fishcake!" Of course, when the smoke cleared . . . he saw two animalistic replicas of himself instead of just one. "Come on, this isn't funny, punk! You think I can't tell which one you are?!"
He punched one of his replicas, and he almost gloated in triumph . . . only for that self-satisfied expression to melt into horror when the Kiba replica he'd struck turned into Akamaru's natural form. "What the hell?!" He whirled upon the other Kiba replica, whom he figured to be Naruto. "You bastard!" He punched that other Kiba replica, only for him to turn into Akamaru's natural form as well . . . and for the "Akamaru" he'd punched to turn into Naruto. "What kind of game is this?"
"The smoke was just to confuse your senses," Naruto answered. "Not only your physical senses, but also how your mind interpreted them. Basically, I just mind-screwed you into knocking out your partner . . . Sorry."
"Son of a bitch!" Kiba yelled, charging Naruto for the kill. With a few more dance-styled moves ending in kicks and punches, Naruto brought Kiba down.
"Is that enough for you?" Naruto asked. "Or do I have to hit you a little harder before you get it?"
Hayate looked at the tableau before him. "Since Kiba cannot fight any longer without risking permanent injury or death . . . the winner is, Naruto Uzumaki."
"A gas that disrupts the senses and reasoning ability of the target?" Kurenai uttered. "It's like genjutsu, almost. But since it isn't, how is Naruto able to not suffer the same effects as Kiba?"
"Because Naruto built up a resistance while learning how to use it," R.J. replied. "He had to, or otherwise he'd be risking his own sanity every time he used it."
Naruto and Kiba both returned to the balcony, glaring at each other. "You're one sick puppy, kid," Kiba said to Naruto.
"You're one to talk," Naruto retorted.
Hinata blushed as she looked back from Kiba to Naruto and vice versa. Kurenai gave her a gentle nudge, and the soft pressure gave her the courage to walk up to Naruto and give him some of her healing ointment. Naruto smiled softly at her. "Thanks, Hinata."
"So you won," Sasuke remarked. "I'm glad."
Naruto smiled coldly at Sasuke. "So am I. You won. I won. We both advance. And that means I get another chance at fighting you."
"Your chance might come sooner than you think," Sasuke answered.
The screen flashed again . . . and showed two names, Sakura Haruno vs. Ino Yamanaka. Hayate called for them both to step into the arena, which they did, glaring at each other as though they were one step away from killing one another. This caused Naruto to look at the other genin and their jonin-sensei with some modicum of concern. "What's up with those two?"
"Bad blood," Asuma replied. "Over a boy." He shot a glare at Sasuke, who looked as though he could care less.
"Him?" Naruto deduced.
"Yeah," Shikamaru confirmed. "Rookie of the year, brooding bad boy, a girl's dream come true." He snorted. "And they wonder why I don't date."
"That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard," Yugito spat.
"Have to say I'm with you there, Yugito-chan," Naruto agreed. "But let's see how they actually do."
It wasn't exactly worth talking about, Sakura and Ino's fight. Mostly what they did was try to evade each other's strikes, and when they struck, they left so many openings that even a shinobi of average taijutsu skill could thrash them. It was quite . . . shameful, and Naruto could tell Yugito felt like getting into a fight with either girl just to show them how it was done.
Yugito whirled upon Kakashi and Asuma. "Have you two taught them nothing about close-quarters fighting?"
Kakashi sighed. "We can't all be insane Beast-Fist warriors."
"True," Yugito conceded, "but this is just sad. I wouldn't count on either of them lasting a day on a solo mission."
There were some positives to the match. Despite Sakura's and Ino's lack of technical skill, Sakura was decent at trickery with genjutsu and standard clone techniques. Ino was also rather decent with her clan's mind-warping techniques, using them to temporarily usurp control of Sakura's body after luring her into a trap using her discarded hair. Of course, Sakura's mind was far stronger than Ino had given her credit for, and she managed to shake off Ino's possession.
When the fight ultimately ended, it did so with what was almost a double knockout, except Sakura stayed on her feet seconds after Ino had fallen. Of course, Sakura ultimately collapsed herself, although with Ino having fallen before her . . . "Winner: Sakura Haruno," Hayate called.
Matsuri scoffed. "Is this what your kunoichi are capable of? If so, Konoha's a joke."
"Watch your tongue," Guy warned.
"As pathetic as their kunoichi are, we have no need to antagonize anybody," Temari remarked, placing a hand on Matsuri's shoulder. "Of course, if their kunoichi were anything worth talking about . . . they wouldn't be so offended, now would they?"
"Look at it this way," Naruto suggested. "They're not completely hopeless, even if their taijutsu isn't that good. Takes some modicum of skill to use some of those techniques."
"Maybe you're right," Yugito conceded. "But they still suck at actual fighting."
"Gaara? Karasu? What do you guys think?" Naruto asked.
"There is room for improvement," Gaara replied stoically.
"Whatever," Karasu responded. "Not my issue."
After Sakura and Ino had been moved out of the arena, the screen flashed again, revealing two new names: Shino Aburame vs. Zaku. Hayate coughed once before calling for Shino and Zaku to enter the arena, which they did, moving to opposite sides. Zaku's arms hung limply against his sides, still suffering from their dislocation at Sasuke's hands.
"Begin!" Hayate shouted.
Shino looked at Zaku through his sunglasses and said only one word. "Forfeit."
"Why the hell should I?" Zaku asked.
"You came into this fight injured," Shino answered. "I'm simply warning you for your own good. Forfeit."
Zaku flexed his fingers and slowly raised his arms. "You really think I'm going to listen to you?"
Shino's face barely twitched. "I felt it would be polite to warn you first."
"Well, don't waste time with that bull!" Zaku yelled, lifting both arms. "I'm going to end you in one hit!"
Shino just stared ahead, seemingly completely uncaring of his fate at Zaku's hands. "You're a fool."
"Slicing Sound Wave!" Zaku shouted . . . and to his surprise, his arms exploded into bloody stumps. "What . . . what the hell?!"
As insects of various sizes and species began to crawl out of the bloody mess left behind by Zaku's exploded arms, Gaara realized what had just happened. "Shino clogged Zaku's vents with insects."
"Damn . . ." Naruto muttered. "That's brutal."
"Winner: Shino Aburame," Hayate called.
Shino stoically returned to the balcony, saying only, "I warned him."
"So you did," Karasu remarked.
The screen flashed again, and this time it showed the names Karasu Kuronin vs. Sai Tenma. Hayate coughed, and then called for Karasu and Sai to enter the arena, which they did in their own ways. Sai performed a simple Body Flicker, while Karasu sprouted a black energy wing and glided into the arena.
"Some flashy moves aren't going to help you," Sai stated. "Girly boy."
Karasu rolled his eyes. "Is that the only way you can interact with people? Insult them?"
"I don't much care for the company of others," Sai replied, withdrawing something that looked like a cross between a quill pen and a dagger.
"Interesting weapon," Karasu remarked.
Sai stabbed the point of the quill-blade into his hand, withdrawing it once the tip was saturated in his blood. Immediately, he began to scribble into the air with the quill-blade, "drawing" the image of a tiger that became substantial in a rather cartoonish way once he'd finished. Immediately, the blood-formed tiger charged at Karasu with incredible speed. In response, Karasu re-formed his spectral wing and flew out of the way of the Blood Beast, which turned around in preparation to attack him again.
This time, Karasu summoned his second wing and wrapped them both around his body, spinning like a drill as he descended upon the Blood Beast, causing it to explode in a shower of crimson upon contact. Karasu's spectral wings unfurled, revealing him standing in the middle of the blood spray.
"What did he just do?" Choji asked.
"That's Raven-Spirit Beast-Fist," Yugito answered. "Harnessing the spirit of the raven for an incredibly maneuverable fighting style. That move you just saw? Rekkishire Tsubasa Kyaku, the Violent Grinding Wing Kick. I don't think I need to explain what it does."
"Not bad," Sai commented. "I think it's time I tried something else, though." He dipped the quill tip into his hand again and scribbled furiously into the air, trails of red energy following his quill tip. When it stopped, arrows made of red energy pointed at Karasu. "Blood Arrow Barrage."
Immediately, the arrows flew at Karasu with such speed that Karasu was unable to dodge all of them. Most of the arrows that hit him merely grazed him, but they were sharp enough that even that hurt a great deal. When the attack was over, Karasu was bleeding from multiple small cuts all over his body. "You're not so bad yourself," the Raven-Spirit wielder snarled.
"I'm glad you acknowledge your better, girly boy," Sai taunted.
"You . . . are not my better," Karasu snarled. He started running at Sai, wisps of black energy seeping out of his wounds. The black energy collected around him in the shape of a raven, which launched him into the air and brought him down in a flying kick to Sai's chest. Unsatisfied with this, Karasu twisted and maneuvered himself into an uppercut that caught Sai in the chin. Still not done yet, Karasu landed with a brutal elbow slam to Sai's stomach.
Karasu got up and began walking away from Sai, who had managed to get up and was now lashing at the air with his quill tip in a pattern of organized chaos. This time, he'd drawn a multitude of kunai . . . all pointing at Karasu's back. "Not a wise idea to look away from me," he taunted the Raven-Spirit user. "Blood Kunai Barrage."
This time, Karasu wrapped himself in his raven spirit's wings, using them as a shield to deflect the blood-formed kunai. Once the barrage had stopped, Karasu unfurled his raven spirit's wings and flew at Sai like a missile, tackling him. Of course, Sai had managed to hold on to his quill and was now using its blade to slash at Karasu, although Karasu managed to dodge most of Sai's attacks. The one that got through, though, left a long gash in Karasu's chest.
"I suppose it's time I finished this," Karasu murmured. "Otherwise, you'll kill me. I should warn you, though; you're not the only one who can power their techniques with blood." Calling forth his raven spirit through his blood, he channeled it into his arms, forming talons over his fingers. Immediately, he launched himself into the air and came down slashing Sai with his newly formed spirit talons. With a finishing swipe of his talons, Karasu brought Sai down . . . and Sai didn't look like he'd be getting up any time soon.
"Winner: Karasu Kuronin," Hayate called.
Both Karasu and Sai were escorted out of the arena by medical ninja, due to the wounds both had sustained in their fight. "Wow . . . you guys play rough," Matsuri remarked to the Beast genin.
"For keeps," Gaara added.
"I wonder who's next," Yugito mused aloud.
Just then, the screen gave a clear indication of who was next . . . by flashing two names, Hinata Hyuga vs. Neji Hyuga. Hayate coughed briefly before calling for both Hyuga clan members to step into the arena. Just before Hinata could go, Shino clapped his hand on her shoulder. "Be careful, Hinata. Forfeit if you must."
"Thank you, Shino, but I . . . I cannot forfeit," Hinata replied. "Not in front of . . ."
Shino sighed, resigned to what he was certain would happen next. "I understand."
Hinata and Neji moved to the arena, facing each other on opposite sides. Neji's pearl-colored eyes narrowed as he stared into Hinata's identically-colored eyes. "Forfeit. It's your fate to lose. Why not spare yourself a lot of pain right now?"
"I . . . cannot forfeit," Hinata answered. "I . . . will not forfeit."
"You're a pampered child of the main house of the Hyuga clan," Neji sneered. "What the hell do you know about what it takes to be a shinobi?"
"Why's he talking to her like that?" Naruto asked indignantly. "Aren't they supposed to be brother and sister?"
"Close, but no cigar," Kakashi replied. "They're actually cousins, but since their fathers were identical twins . . . they do share a close enough DNA relation to be siblings."
"Not the point," Naruto snapped. "I wanna know why he's talking trash to her!"
"You seem awfully mad," Kakashi remarked. "Something you wanna share with us?"
Naruto looked Kakashi dead in the eye. "I remember now. Why she was so worried about me. Why she wanted so desperately to help me. She was the only one . . . who wouldn't look at me with hate in her eyes. She was the only one in this village . . . who was ever kind at all to me. That is why I cannot watch her suffer at this bastard's hands."
"You are aware you're not allowed to interfere in the match," R.J. said. "You do that, you forfeit your own chance to move to the next round."
"I don't care," Naruto spat. "That's not what we're here for, and you know it." He turned back to the arena. "Hinata! Don't you dare let him psych you into giving up! You might think you're alone down there, but you've got a rooting section up here!"
Neji glared at Naruto. "Quiet, you."
Hinata's face flushed a rosy red. He . . . believes in me?
Naruto smiled cheekily at Hinata, flashing a thumbs-up to her. "Go for it. Teach him not to underestimate you!"
Neji snarled. "You think your stupid encouragement's going to do anything to change the outcome of this fight?!"
"Begin," Hayate declared.
Hinata slowly began to smile, resoluteness in her eyes as the veins surrounding them bulged and clear pupils formed in their centers. "Defend yourself . . . my brother."
Neji glared at Hinata, the veins around his own eyes bulging and clear pupils becoming visible in their centers. "I should say the same to you."
The two Hyuga clan members began to fight, lashing out at each other with vicious thrusts of their index and middle fingers at pressure points in each other's bodies. Both moved at incredible speed as they parried and deflected each other's assaults, determination visible on Hinata's face, much to the surprise of her sensei Kurenai Yuhi. "Wow . . . Hinata . . ."
"Amazed?" Kakashi asked. "So am I."
Kurenai smiled slightly. Naruto Uzumaki, you just became a lot more interesting.
"What are they doing?" Sakura asked, having returned to the balcony.
"It is their fighting style . . ." Lee replied. "The Hyuga clan taijutsu, Gentle Fist. With the slightest touch, they can forcibly shut off the chakra-generating points in someone's body, which their bloodline limit the Byakugan enables them to see. The style requires incredible dexterity and precision, something that the Hyuga clan members are taught from a very young age."
"Why is there so much hate in his heart when he speaks to Hinata?" Gaara asked.
"It is the sad story of their clan," Lee explained. "The Hyuga are divided into the main house and several branch houses. The members of the branch houses are bound in servitude to the members of the main house. Hinata is from the main house. Neji is from a branch house."
"So Neji's side of the family is enslaved to Hinata's side of the family?" Naruto deduced. "That's just wrong!"
"It is clan tradition," Guy spoke. "It is not a tradition I think is just or fair, but it is their tradition and outsiders are barred from interfering by the village rules."
"What about the Hokage?" Naruto asked. "Can't he do something?"
Guy sighed. "If he could . . . he would."
Naruto growled. "So they're gonna be at each other's throats . . . forever? And there's nothing anybody can do?"
"Basically," Kakashi replied somberly.
Naruto was about to retort, when he heard a wet coughing sound. He turned, and saw blood leaking from Hinata's mouth with a small puddle of it on the floor before her. "Hinata!"
"One more thing, Naruto . . . the chakra-generating points in the body are connected to the body's vital organs," Lee said. "A sufficiently forceful strike can not only cut off chakra, but also damage those organs."
"What is he trying to do, kill her?" Naruto asked.
"Give up," Neji spat at Hinata. "It's been your fate to lose to me ever since you stepped into this arena. You were never strong enough to be a shinobi. That just wasn't your fate."
"Fate . . . fate . . . you are terribly obsessed with fate for someone who seems resigned to his . . ." Hinata whispered in between gasps for breath.
"What are you talking about?" Neji asked.
"I'm talking about . . . that you and I are the same," Hinata whispered. "I am struggling not to be as weak . . . as I have been. And you are struggling . . . to be more than what the clan has decided you are to be. Don't you see, Neji? We're the same."
"I . . . am nothing . . . like you!" Neji screamed, charging Hinata for a finishing blow that might very well kill her.
"NO!" Naruto screamed, lunging off the balcony, fiery red chakra surrounding him. He lashed out with the chakra, forming a chain-whip that grabbed Neji's striking arm just before he could crush Hinata's windpipe.
"Stay out of this!" Neji snapped.
"I'm not letting you kill Hinata," Naruto retorted, his voice full of deadly calm. "I don't care what your family grudges are. You have no right to take it out on someone who hasn't done anything to you."
"Don't dare to presume to tell me what my rights are," Neji snarled.
"Naruto, get out of there now!" R.J. shouted.
"You've already won, Neji," Hayate said. "Hinata cannot continue without risking lifetime injury, if not the end of her lifetime entirely."
"I. Don't. Care," Neji answered coldly, and in a surprising burst of strength, he broke free of Naruto's chakra chain and went for the killing strike. This time, Kakashi, Kurenai, Guy, and Asuma stopped his charge, restraining him forcibly, much to Neji's ire. "Special protection for the main branch?"
"No," Kurenai answered. "Stopping you from killing a fellow Konoha shinobi."
Just then, Hinata's legs gave out . . . and she collapsed, prompting the medic-nin to show up immediately. They unzipped her heavy jacket, revealing a dark halter top with mesh filling out the parts where skin would have shown. The medical ninja began working on her immediately, enabling her to recover just enough to look at Naruto.
"Naru . . . to . . . did I . . . did I . . ."
Naruto was at her side in a flash. "It's ok, Hinata. You did your best. You stood strong and you gave it your all."
"Excuse me, young man, but we need to get her out of here if she's going to be able to recover," one of the medic-nin advised him.
"Sure . . ." Naruto answered, reluctantly allowing the medic-nin to carry Hinata away on a stretcher.
"Nice try," Neji taunted Naruto, having been let go by the Konoha jonin. "All your encouragement really amounted to was Hinata being crushed worse than she would have been had she just listened to me. You can't change your fate. Nobody can. Failures will always be failures."
Naruto's eyes flashed a vicious red and he turned to Neji. "You son of a bitch!" He charged at Neji, intent on beating him to the ground . . . when tentacles of sand forcibly restrained Naruto. "Gaara! Let me go!"
"I cannot, Naruto," Gaara answered. "If you fight him now, while you're so full of rage, the monster within you will win. That is why we have trained in the Beast-Fist Fierce Style, to control the monsters that dwell within us, to counter the evil that they would unleash upon this world if freed. As you are now, the just heart that the Fierce Style requires is being overwhelmed by your wrath."
"He . . . he was going to kill her!"
"And so you'll make it right by killing him?" R.J. asked calmly. "Naruto . . . I understand your anger. Someone you cared about could have died because of the actions of a reckless and hate-filled individual. But if you give in to your own anger, your own hate for this man that harmed the one dear to your heart . . . you will become no better than he is."
Naruto's posture began to relax, and Gaara released the sand tentacles. Naruto then kneeled before the small puddle of blood that Hinata had coughed up, and dipped his fingers in it. With his other hand, he opened his jacket and shirt and drew the symbol of the Hidden Beast Village over his chest. "Rest assured, Neji Hyuga. I'm not forgetting this. We'll face each other again . . . and when we do, I'll make sure you pay for what you did to Hinata. I swear on my life, on the power of the Beast-Fist, and on Hinata's blood!"
End Notes: This is probably a good point on which to end this chapter. You've seen a taste of Karasu's real powers, what Naruto can do with the power of the Beast-Fist at his beck and call, and just what happens when family feuds cross paths with justice. If you're wondering why Sakura won her match with Ino here, while it was a double knockout in canon, it's simple: I have plans for her. For those of you complaining about Sakura being a useless fangirl, she is that as of right now, but Shippuden showed us that she didn't stay that way and I want to do my take on Sakura's induction into "The Halls of Badass Ninja."
In the meantime, this story is far from over; you're going to see Yugito vs. Matsuri, Gaara vs. Lee, and Dosu vs. Choji. After that, I'll be using the one-month pause in the Chunin Exams to set up further plot developments, like Sakura's training, Naruto meeting Jiraiya, and . . . Sasuke revealing his true nature as Dai Shi's vessel to all of Konoha. Considering that the finals of the Chunin Exams attract all kinds of people, you might even be seeing a few familiar faces from the Power Rangers/Super Sentai canon. Heh, and with that little tease, I'm off. See you around.