A/N: It has been a while, hasn't it. Let me first start of by saying that this was actually finished quite some time ago, bu ti never got a chance to upload. I have already started writing the next chapter so inspiration for that one is not an issue, I just hope i can write it before the semester starts back. Anyway, as usual, Read, Enjoy and Review.
FIVE DAYS TO WAR (PART 2)
Day 3 continued
What is a ninja? At a point in history, before the coming of the Rikudo Sennin, there would have been no definite answer to that question, because as a ninja, even though everyone knew that your kind exists, to prove it would be nothing more than a witch hunt. They lived in contradiction, and obscurity was their one true partner in everything that they did. This was the source of a ninja's power the silent hands that troubled wary minds, causing demonic images to take on the life of the nameless and faceless ninja.
Naruto was taught this; to be silent, to be deadly, to be feared and most importantly, he was taught to contradict all the thoughts that all may conceive of him and as the newest head of the ancient shinobi way, it was his duty to ensure that the way did not die out and that it was passed on to the next generation. So, while they did not know it, this was the reason why he made it mandatory that in Arashigakure no sato, that no ninja ever take upon themselves the symbol of the village without being able to become like their ancient ancestors, or at least a close resemblance.
For this purpose he himself designed the test, a simple game where the student would have to steal a certain item kept under guard in the woods near the academy by a team of chunin and return it to the starting point. Of course, like everything else, this test had another purpose; a hidden agenda that would forcefully teach a valuable lesson to all the would-be graduates whether they knew it or not. These were humility, the importance of knowledge and team work, and the test taught it in the most simplistic of ways.
It was impossible to pass.
Unless a student just happened to be one of those prodigies that appeared once in every generation, then there was no way that the student would be able to steal the item and return within the limits of the test.
The limits were, they would be shown a picture of the item, then they would be sent in individually without being told where exactly in the woods the item was being guarded, just a general direction, and steal it without either being caught or detected. Ideally, they were to remain undetected.
Next the student would have to return the item to the starting position undetected or without being caught. Everything was allowed for this exam, be it ninjutsu, genjutsu, taijutsu, whatever it took, it was allowed just as long as the task was completed
Every bit of stealth and cunning would be needed.
Having understood what was required of them as it was explained by Naruto, the students prepared until they were called.
"Before I forget," Naruto said, with a foxy grin, "the chunins guarding the item are all members of the assassination unit and have been given instructions to treat this as if it is a real mission."
The eyes of the examinees all widened upon hearing that and some even started to shake a bit.
"W-we're all going to die," thought one examinee.
"However while you have permission to use lethal force, they are not allowed to kill you," Said Naruto, relieving some of the tension that had built up, "but don't for any second consider this to be any less dangerous, because that doesn't mean that something worse cannot happen."
"W-what could be worse than death?" asked a random examinee raising his hand.
However, he soon regretted it after Naruto looked at him and his expression seemed to change.
"Let us hope you never find out the hard way," he said before quickly switching back to his more boisterous self, "any way, let's see, SoutaTakame, you are up first."
"Hai," he said before bounding up to the woods.
However, soon after entering, the sound of an explosion went off and Takame came flying out of the woods, landing just in front of his fellow examinees.
"Don't worry, he is just unconscious," Naruto said, allowing one of the medics to take him away and check him over.
"What the hell was that?" shouted out Jubei, "you mean there are traps in there too?"
Naruto simply turned his head towards the boy and with all the wisdom bestowed upon him by master Jinta Kyosh, answered.
The test was over, and each and everyone of the examinees, lay on the ground broken and defeated. Why were they like this? Not a single one of them succeeded in acquiring the item and returning with it.
No matter what they did, no matter how quiet, clever or sneaky they were, for some reason, they never got close. Only the special advance students Jubei, Kimiko and Kuroran managed to get within striking distance of the item but when they got there, there was either an ambush waiting or a trap that seemed to be freshly engineered specifically for the person it sneered.
Currently, all the students were sitting in a class room. It was uncharacteristically quiet with a bit of gloom hanging in the air. Some of the students even had tears creating streams on their cheeks.
"It doesn't make any sense," Kimiko said to herself.
"What doesn't," Jubei asked, knowing exactly what the girl was talking about, "we all failed, that's all there was to it."
"It's just not fair," she said, "I tried so hard, but no matter what I did, they always knew where I hid, if I used bunshin, even where and when I was moving."
Just then, the door to the room swung open and in walked Naruto with Hayame, Tsubaki, Hinata and a red haired girl who looked like she was not too pleased to be there or with the Kanshisha since she kept shooting annoyed glances at him. Naruto either didn't seem to notice or to care what the red head was doing. That didn't mean that Tsubaki didn't shoot a warning glance at the teen.
Naruto walked towards the front of the class while his entourage stood behind him. Hinata walked up beside him and placed a box on the table and smiled to the class. It was strange, because she didn't look disappointed in the slightest, in fact, she looked pleased.
"Sadistic bitch," thought the class unanimously.
"Hi everyone, it's time to share the results, well, not the results," Naruto said crossing his arms trying to get his words right, "I'm going to call out the ones who passed."
All of the students groaned at having the kanshisha reveal the fact they already knew. They had failed.
"What?" Naruto asked, "Just because you didn't accomplish the task didn't mean you failed, you know."
This seemed to perk the students up, although, they were still confused.
"Let me explain," Naruto said, "the point of the exam was stealth and cunning. In order to fully see how well you are at that, I gave you an impossible task."
Naruto had a foxy grin on his face before continuing.
"Let me introduce you to Karin," Naruto said, putting the red head on the spot, "she is the best sensor in Arashigakure, probably the entire shinobi world."
After revealing this, the gloomy mood that had permeated the room before seemed to disappear and be replaced by something more malicious. To be exact, the students all started glaring at Naruto, even Kuroran was not immune to these feelings of resentment.
"hehe, it seems to be a little hot in here," Naruto said before revealing a list of names, "well, let's get on with it. Passing students and teams are..."
Next day (4)
Level zero holding, the place where those that were not clearly enemies yet still could not be openly trusted were kept. This ranged from foreign ninja to foreign dignitaries. To call it holding may be a bit of misdirection since it appeared to be more of a luxury resort with all the conveniences, even a maid service to tend the needs of the "guests".
That was only on the surface since any ninja worthy of the title and capable of seeing underneath the surface could attest. This is why the current residents, the former ninja of Oto, always remained wary.
They knew that despite the luxury and the helpful service they received, they were still essentially prisoners. No one was allowed to go out at night, the gate in the wall surrounding the building was always closed and they were not allowed outside. Even the servants that served them they were wary of because it appeared that they were not normal maids and butlers either.
Within the centre of level zero holding, was a square sunken field – a fighting pit – about the same size as the field in konoha's stadium. It was open to the sky. Obviously it was meant to be used by the residents to train, but none used it, either for fear of being spied on or simply due to wanting to enjoy as much of the service as possible while it lasted.
However, today was different.
Early that morning, one of the people that brought them here came and requested them all to the sunken field.
"What's this all about," asked a man.
"Since you are all here, Kanshisha-sama has seen fit to view your skills today," answered the man as they reached the field, "sit here until they arrive, but when the kanshisha arrives he will be announced and you all are required to stand and bow."
"Fine, whatever," said another person, "but what is going to happen?"
"That's simple, you will have one duel to impress kanshisha-sama, you may chose whoever you want to fight, whether it is each other, or even me, one of the Juryuu no arashi, it is okay," said the member of the Juryuu, "anyway, my name is Danjo, it was a pleasure, and it looks like the others are arriving."
As he said this, people started to trickle in one by one. At the back of the group of former oto ninja, a young man wearing rather shabby clothing kept glancing to his side at a blue haired woman wearing green robes with a Camilla printed on it. His glances did not go unnoticed however as the woman turned a disdainful eye towards him.
"What do you want?" she asked curtly.
"Sorry, but are you Guren-sama?" he asked.
"What if I am, do you have a problem?" she asked, obviously not in the mood.
"No, no, no problem at all," he said, waving his hands frantically, until Guren turned her fierce gaze away from him and he sighed in relief before continuing, "it's just that, you were one of Orochimaru-sama's elites and I am not all that confident in my skills so..."
"Spit it out already," she snarled, "I have no time for this, if you think I am going to pick you just to go easy on you to look better than you can forget it and stop bothering me."
"Nothing like that Guren-sama."
"You are so strong, there is no way they won't want you to join them as probably their elites as well."
"Of course," Guren said, enjoying the praises the man was giving her, "so what, do you want me to put in a good word?"
"You are too kind Guren-sama," the man said, but before he could continue, Guren laughed.
"Hah, I could do that, but what can you offer me in return?"
"Information," the man said, "information on the top members of this village who looks like they will all make an appearance today?"
"Oh," Guren said with a predatory smile on her red painted lips, "is that so. Well then, lets here what you have to say, and if it proves useful, then I would think about it."
The man, realizing that he had given away his only bargaining chip cursed mentally. Unfortunately, he saw no better options, worse yet, he now had something that one of Orochimaru's elites wanted and everyone knew that those people get what they wanted... one way or another.
So, knowing there was no guarantee that his life would get better as a result, he relented.
"Fine," he sighed, "that first guy that walked in, the one with the black hair and black eyes; he is Kouga Kai. He is the head of the hunter nin department, he was a former s-class missing nin hunted by all the villages, but it seems the kanshisha himself persuaded him to join."
"Hmm, that is interesting, I recognise him, and that name sounds somewhat familiar," Guren mentioned.
"It should, Orochimaru wiped out the rest of the kouga clan hoping to acquire their Hijutsu."
Guren narrowed her eyes at that, especially when Kai took a seat on the raised deck opposite from the oto ninja and glared in their direction.
"Oh, that woman there, with the purple eyes and long purple hair that walked in, I don'tknow her exact position, but word is, she is pretty important, maybe even at the same level as kai since she is here too," said the man, "but the best part, is, I heard that she is someone quite special to the kanshisha."
"Special, you say?" Guren smiled in interest, "that could prove useful. She seems young though."
"That other woman, who just stepped in is the head of the medics, I think her name was... Mika, yes, that's it, Mika."
"Hmph, doesn't seem like much," Guren said; the next person walked in, "she seems a little more interesting, though, rather young too."
However, Guren nearly gasped when she saw the girl's eyes.
"Is she a..."
"Yea, that is Hyuuga Hinata, she may look young but I here that she is one of the most powerful ninja in this place."
"I will believe that when I see it myself," Guren smugly remarked, "that child is still wet behind the ear."
"I know what you mean,I barely believed it myself, especially since she looks like a doll more than a ninja, but she obviously has an equal rank to Kai and the purple chick, but the best part is, about a week ago, she single handedly killed Hoshigaki Kisame. I'm sure you heard of the names of Aotenpi and Tsukihana."
"Well, she is Tsukihana,"
"That certainly is surprising; I wonder if we will also see the infamous Aoitenpi as well?"
Before the ninja could continue Danjo began to speak.
"Show your respect for the Shodai Kanshisha, Uzumaki Naruto-sama."
As he said this, all the oto ninja stood up and followed Danjo as he bowed on one knee with his head facing the ground.
Guren however, was curious as to who could command the respect of these people and if he was truly worth her time. So she peeked, and what she saw did not impress her.
"A brat?" she thought, "there is no way I am swearing loyalty to some wet behind the air punk. I would be surprised if he even knows how to throw a shuriken straight."
Naruto was dressed simply in a yukata with his Haori over it. In front of him was Hagen Riku, to his sides were Hinata and Tsubaki and behind him were the councilors and the rest of the Juryuu, with the exception of Mataza and Tenoko who was charged with hunting down kakuzu and Hidan.
Naruto and Hinata sat first upon the raised floor especially prepared for him opposite from where the Oto ninja were. The others sat after him.
"Arise," he said formally, there was no time for making jokes or acting unprofessional in a setting like this.
They all rose from their kneeling bow.
"You are all here because I extended my hands towards you, and you have accepted it of your own free will," Naruto started, "however, that does not mean you shall be given a rank freely. Today you shall all earn your ranks and a name for yourself. Afterwards, if you prove yourself loyal, then the doors to true strength shall be open to you."
Naruto paused for a moment to allow his words to sink in as the oto ninja mumbled amongst themselves.
"Now," everyone quieted down to hear him speak, "if you have not already been told, these are the rules; you can choose anyone here to duel against to show off your skill. Afterwards, your rank shall be determined. You shall fight until one person is defeated or I am satisfied."
All the ninja seemed to be satisfied with the terms and with that, Naruto nodded to Danjo to continue.
"You will be provided with everything you need to fight with, even poison if that is what you prefer," Danjo said as he walked to a covered table and unveiled it, "when you are called, enter the arena."
They were chosen at random and the chosen person would select who they wanted to fight. Unfortunately, after the first fight, they all learned a very valuable lesson, which in hindsight, they should have learned from Orochimaru a long time ago.
Appearance can be deceiving.
"I choose her," the first randomly chosen ninja shouted out pointing to the sundress wearing Shigure who was preoccupied with playing with Koko.
Shigure was abruptly brought out of her musings when she realised that everyone was looking at her.
"Wah, me?" she said pointing at herself in a clueless manner.
"Are you sure you want to chose her?" Danjo asked, "You could even pick amongst the others, even the elders sitting at the back."
"You said anyone, so I chose here," he said, starting to lose his patience.
"Very well; Shigure, you're up."
"Moe," Shigure grumbled before setting koko down and skipping into the arena, "I didn't want to fight, today."
"I'm so lucky, I get to pick first. This girl is so weak that I'm going to look really good defeating her," the man thought "she is even s high ranking ninja if she is here."
Foolish logic but logic none the less. The looks of some of the Arashi ninja face-palming and looking on with sympathy further spurred him on in his thoughts of gaining an easy win. This was not the case. They were looking at him with those sympathetic eyes, because, of all the members of the Juryuu no Arashi, he just happened to pick the one who was most likely to kill him by accident. It was well known that Hikari Shigure, while childish and looked like the picture of childlike innocence, she was a member of the Juryuu for a reason, and her kekkei genkai was not the only reason.
The fight began with the ninja throwing two kunai in rapid succession at the girly girl, and while his opinion of her was not that high, he did survive in oto, so at least thought that she could dodge or deflect the thrown weapons. As such, he ran towards her in the wake of the thrown kunai with another one in his hands poised to end the fight quickly and impress his judges.
Shigure saw the two weapons coming and skilfully dodged them. However, she then rolled backwards when the man suddenly appeared in front of her to end the fight quickly. She leapt backwards to avoid him but he didn't relent and continued to chase after her.
He soon started to grow annoyed at her antics and of her only retreating so he decided to taunt her.
"Stop running you coward and face me, what's the matter, is that all you can do?"
Suddenly Shigure stopped; a cute pout on her face. Suddenly, wires burst out of the ground wrapping themselves around her.
"You're mean," Shigure said, not struggling against the wire in the slightest.
The man smirked, realising he had won his fight in a short time.
"I can't believe you fell for such a simple-"
His words ended abruptly when pink chakra feathers suddenly appeared from the area of her tale bone, and easily burst the wires.
"Kujaku MyÕhÕ: muchi"
Now it was his turn to run, however, when he thought that he got out of the range of her technique he heard her speak again while holding the bird seal again.
"Kujaku MyÕhÕ: kemono"
The chakra which was in the shape of a whip a few seconds ago shortened and then turned into two grotesque looking quadrupeds.
Again, the chase continued, and he soon realised that he was trapped in a pit with a monster. It did not last long as she then removed her sword and faster than he could blink, a pink chakra blade extended from the tip of the sword.
"Enough," Danjo said, just as the chakra bade was mere centimetres from his forehead.
"Okay," Shigure said cheerfully, as she cancelled her techniques, "thanks for playing with me."
With that, she skipped back off to where she was before.
After seeing what happened with the first guy, the rest of the former oto ninja was not willing to see what the other, more dangerous looking ninja was capable of. So, they chose amongst themselves.
Things went smoothly for a while, until it came to the last ninja. It was no mystery that no one was willing to pick her, she was Guren, one of orochimaru's elites, and like all his elites, they had no qualms against killing those they thought were weaker than them. And they knew they were weaker than her.
Guren didn't mind this one bit though; she didn't want to get mixed in with the rest of them as she didn't think highly of them in the slightest.
"So, who do you want to fight against?"
Guren smiled at the question while she caught the eye of the one person she wanted to put down.
"Him," she pointed across the area at the blond Jinchuuriki, "I want to put that brat in his place for making me waste my time like this."
That insult ruffled a few feathers, but Guren didn't care as she continued to stare down Naruto in a superior manner.
"This should be interesting," Naruto said as he stood up and made his way down to the arena after taking off his haori and handing it to Hinata.
Guren simply took her time to walk down to meet him, further infuriating some of the others with her disrespect.
"You don't seem to know much about respect," Naruto said, off-handedly as if talking about the weather, "you must be Guren."
Guren laughed haughtily.
"Oh my, for someone whose subordinates don't even respect him, you sure know a lot, little boy."
Naruto simply laughed at that statement. He knew what she was talking about. She had insulted him many times but only a few had bothered to show their displeasure. The thing was, they were all angry due to her words, but they also knew that of all the persons she could have picked, she picked the one person who would defeat her in more ways than they could count –and not just the physical kind.
"I think I like you already," Naruto said, his voice slightly more serious, "I will let you attack first, and as a bonus, I would even let you attack me from the back."
As Naruto said this, he turned around and showed his back to Guren. At first Guren was taken aback by his proposal and then that melted away into anger. This little brat was looking down on her and went so far as to intentionally show her his back.
She grit her teeth.
"You will regret that," she thought with malice.
No one disrespects Guren like that and gets away with their lives... especially not this upstart fool of a brat.
In the forest surrounding Arashi, within the genjutsu barrier that keeps it safe, a group of ninja surrounds a man who lay on the ground. His breathing was deep and it was clear that he had almost run himself into the ground; a foolish thing to do indeed. Those who oversee the barrier and all those who enter it would not allow a person or group moving at that speed to get by easily or unimpeded.
The poor fool ran the entire night without pause and even into the day until the team within the barrier had to forcibly stop him. Fortunately for him, he was already exhausted so the scuffle was quick and he went down with his life intact.
"Your mask is reminiscent of konoha ANBU," asked one of the arashi ninja, his voice deadly serious which was a strange contradiction to the smiling visage of the masks they wore.
"Yes... I am... a konoha ANBU," he said, barely able to speak due to his exhaustion as he breathed and gasped for air, "Hokage-sama sends... important news."
"What is this message?" he asked.
"Must deliver... direct," he gasped out, his breath returning.
"That is out of the question," he said, "but I am the captain of the barrier team, you can leave the message with me, it will be in good hands."
"This message is... of the utmost... importance, will affect... the entire shinobi world," he said, "i must ensure that... it is delivered... by my own tongue to... fulfil hokage-sama's orders."
"hmm, then we have a problem since I cannot just let an elite such as yourself within striking decision of our kanshisha," said the ninja after which he turned to his team and whispered something after which the ninja disappeared in a shunshin, "but if what you say is true then I cannot impede your mission. So for the mean time, you would have to wait a little."
"What? you don't under-" before the ANBU could finish the statement, he was knocked unconscious from behind.
"It looks as though something is on the horizon," said the ninja.
"Yes, this is to blatant to be an attack and it is too soon since the departure of Hatake and his team to be considered a follow up," said the teammate that knocked the konoha ANBU unconscious, a woman, by her voice, "I just hope it's nothing too serious."
Naruto stood there patiently with his back towards a snarling Guren with his arms open wide. It was a foolish thing to do. One must never turn their back to an opponent in a fight, least of all a ninja. To make matters worse, she was one of Orochimaru's elite with a great deal of experience. You could say whatever you want about Orochimaru, but he had an eye for talent and knew how to cultivate it, even if it was for his own selfish endeavors.
So, it was with great surprise that, while he may have been expecting either a rushed attack, a thrown weapon or even a genjutsu or ninjutsu, Naruto did not expect, for his feet to suddenly start to become heavy and encased in crystal which climbed slowly up his body.
"W-what the hell is this," he asked as he tried to turn his head to look at Guren.
Guren was accommodating to his plight so she walked around so that he could look at her face, or rather, so she can see that last look of desperation on the boy's face before she completely ensnared him. She made sure that it moved fast enough to cover his hands so he would not try something fancy or worse, clever and escape. Although if he did escape, she could enjoy herself more by slowly picking the brat apart for his insults.
"How pathetic," she said, her beautiful face twisted into righteous fury as smugness played in her eyes, "is this really the best you have? Is he really the leader of this place?"
She received no answer, so she continued.
"Well isn't that sad," she said as she started caressing the crystal statue of Naruto, "but it is no surprise a pathetic leader would have pathetic followers."
As she said this, she noticed the hands of the dark haired leader of the hunter division clenching. She smiled at this. Her smile got even wider when he stepped forward but was stopped by a hand from Hinata on his shoulder
"What's this, I thought you had some courage, but I was wrong," her eyes turned to Hinata who looked at her without any kind of emotion, "to be controlled so easily by children. I will be taking over this village from now on. If any of you think you can challenge me, then come now and I will put you down like your pathetic leader."
No one came forward, in fact, the only thing that happened, was Hinata starting to giggle. It was not the false laugh used by those in tight situations to cover up their true feelings, but an actual sound of mirth. This did not sit well with Guren, not in the slightest, but she mastered it well.
"Do you really think you can laugh in this situation shÕton: suishÕtÕ," crystals emerged from her right forearm in the fashion of a tonfa as she raised it to smash the crystal structure of Naruto, "he may be still alive inside there, but if I smash him now then he really will be dead. So, do I have your attention now?"
The smile didn't leave Hinata's face however.
"Quite, but you had my attention all the time," she said meekly, "but you shouldn't take your attention away from your battle."
Guren scoffed. If the stupid little girl was that dense then that was fine with her. She would just take them by force. After all, their leader was easily defeated by doing something as foolish as turning his back to her. So, with a victorious smirk, she smashed the captured Naruto. However, as she smashed it, she saw something particular.
It smiled at her.
She was not certain, but then she realised something was wrong. Something was very wrong. The same man who was about to step forward was way too calm. In fact, everyone was way to calm. She had just destroyed the ruler of their village and insulted them all yet they were all calm. No, they were not just calm, it was as if...
Guren heard from her side. Her eyes widened.
"That was a shame," the voice said, "I thought I looked good in jade."
Out of pure reflexes, Guren leapt away from the voice as quickly as possible and looked at her previous location. There he was, standing as he had when the fight had started... without a single scratch or unruffled article of clothing.
Guren's eyes narrowed at him as he looked at the pile of crystal that was once his prison then panned his head towards her.
"How, I know I caught him," she thought before looking at the pile herself and noticing that there was only her crystals, not even broken pieces of crystallized flesh, "Must have been a kawarimi, but how, I didn't even sense him."
"You are pretty arrogant you know," Naruto said, "all that time and all you could have done was trap a clone. Then you gloated about it. That couldn't have been funnier if I planned it."
At this, Naruto started to heartily laugh at her. To add insult to injury, everyone watching the fight, even the former oto ninja, started to laugh. At this point, Guren was seeing red. At first she may have simply left him half dead and go about her way, but now... only his blood staining her hands could satisfy her anger.
"You brat," she seethed as another blade emerged from her other forearm, "I am going to kill you for this, and I am going to make it slow and painful."
Naruto stopped laughing and looked at her. He started walking towards her. He moved slowly, precisely, like a predator, yet with a playful look in his eyes. As he got closer, sweat began to slowly build on Guren's brow. When he was within meters of her, she took an unconscious step away from him.
"What is this feeling?"Guren asked herself.
"Really?" he asked, "can you truly kill me... while retreating like that?"
The taunt was simple and direct, but Guren responded none the less. She gritted her teeth and lunged herself at Naruto with her blades ready to end his life. Despite her state of emotion, Guren was not affected by it. She saw how he was dressed, in a simple yukatta and noticed that he had no weapons on him. This may mean that he either didn't use weapons due to his own style, or he was trying to have a fair fight.
Either way, a frontal assault with her weapons was the best choice for an opening attack. He had already proven to be slippery; she would not let him out of her sights again.
Guren came in with a round house, forcing Naruto to lean way back to avoid the added threat of her jade crystal blade. She then followed it up with another round house attack, this time at his stomach intending to disembowel him, but this was avoided by quickly pulling his gut in and curving his body to avoid the attack. Guren was not done there. Seeing his position, Guren then pulled back her extended arms to cut into Naruto's face but he ducked under it. Guren expected this as she then raised her knee and kneed Naruto's nose forcing him to stumble back a bit.
Guren quickly took advantage of the situation and flashed through a quick series of seals.
Crystal formed around her arms, forming into a lrod which then extended into a lance, impaling Naruto before he could get his bearing.
Or so she thought.
As the lance pierced his stomach, Naruto burst into a puff of smoke.
Guren realised, as she looked around the field for her opponent, only to find him crouched at her feet, smiling that predatory smile, without any wounds from their previous round.
"My turn," Naruto said as Guren leapt away from him, abandoning her crystal lance.
However, no matter how much she retreated, he always seemed to get closer and closer to her and each time, she would lose sight of him before he appeared again.
"He is not moving that fast and I can follow his movement," Guren thought, "but how am I losing sight of him like this?"
The human eyes and mind was tricky like that.
As she retreated again, she noticed that each time he would get closer, until he almost seemed to appear right in front. Guren was too shocked to react and as a result, she paid for it when she received a hard punch to her solar plexus.
Guren retreated again, but as she ran, Naruto appeared at her side and with frightening speed; he delivered a round house kick to the same area, doubling her over his shin. She fell to the ground seething and holding her midsection.
"Get up," Naruto said neutrally, "is this how you are going to kill me?"
Naruto had to retreat however as he was suddenly bombarded by a multitude of what appeared to be crystal shuriken.
"ShÕton: shuriken ranbu"
After the two attacks Guren had received she realised something, something that infuriated her. The brat was playing with her. She would show him that she was not someone to be played with.
Naruto danced and weaved nimbly through the barrage of crystal shuriken as he observed Guren go through another set of seals.
"ShÕton: SeichÕ kessho toge"
The barrage of shuriken ended, but Naruto couldn't rest yet as he had to constantly move to avoid getting pierced by the growing branches of the growing crystal structure. No matter where he went, it constantly followed him.
"It looks like she is actually seeing me as a threat," Naruto thought, "I guess that means its time then."
Act like a fool and take foolish chances. Make your enemy think they have the high ground and only fight to survive. Then, start to build momentum so that they see you as a real threat so that they start fighting seriously, and when they do, they will be in a hole, a hole that you shall bury them in with fear. It was almost that time.
"Is this it?" Naruto taunted as he dodged the crystals, "is this how you will kill me?"
As Naruto continued to dodge, he formed some hand seals.
"futon: hageshi kaze bakuhatsu"
From Naruto's mouth came many tiny vacuum spheres. The spheres surrounded him and each time the crystal came to Naruto, they would implode and destroy it.
Meanwhile, Guren didn't answer him, and she didn't take the bait, or so she thought. She formed another set of seals.
"This is over," she said, "ShÕton: suisho tougoku nami"
As she said this, the growing crystal that tried to skewer Naruto suddenly stopped. However, tiny crystals started to form from the very air.
"I figured that you were also able to crystallize objects," Naruto said as the crystals fell like snow and crystallized him as it touched him, "well done Guren, you have passed the first of my three tests."
He said it with a smile even though his body was rapidly encased in the crystal. Guren didn't have to worry about him escaping via kawarimi. If he did, then he would still be in danger. The arena didn't provide any kind of cover so he would always be in danger.
"You fool, you failed mine," Guren shouted as she rushed to shatter the crystal to make sure she finished him.
It was not to be.
As she was about to smash it into a million pieces, a hand burst out of the structure. Guren was too stunned to react. However, she soon got her bearings and decided to try and fight back and get away, but his grip was stronger than steel. Her fear started to grow as the crystal slowly started to fall off. With each piece that hit the ground, her heart beat a bit faster. With each part of his body that was uncovered, she tried more desperately to escape, and when he was completely free, she tried some one handed hand seals, but Naruto snapped her wrist in a quick and fluid motion before tossing her away from him.
The smile on Naruto's face was gone now, and Guren realised something that she had already known, but this time, she realised it in a different light.
He was playing with her, not toying with her, just playing to see where she stood but unfortunately for her, play time was over because he had his results. This terrified her because he had already proven that she could not hit him with taijutsu. She would have considered ninjutsu, but one of her wrists were broken so ninjutsu was out of the picture.
She still had choices left, but none of them seemed fitting; to run, to hide, to accept defeat and yield or to continue fighting and hope to somehow come out on top. None seemed favourable.
"How did you escape?" she asked, stalling was the only option she had, "no one could escape that technique."
"Kagebunshin no jutsu is quite a useful technique, you know," he said, this time, there was no humour in his voice, "let me ask you something; how many?"
"What?" Guren asked truly confused.
"I started this fight intending only to test you so I avoided doing any serious damage," Naruto said as he walked to her, "but now I have realised that you are quite the powerful adversary that has no problems with putting others in danger to accomplish your goal. So tell me, how many pieces should I carve out of you?"
Guren was frantic as she tried to think of anything to defeat this man as she picked up a discarded kunai with her good hand. However, Naruto did that disappearing thing again. However, she was ready and predicted where he would appear so she plunged the kunai at where she thought he would appear.
The trick was a simple one but it was also a forgotten skill that Naruto, Hinata and Akira had learned from master kyosh. The human eyes, despite having a wide range of vision, don't actually 'see' everything in its range; instead it tries to focus on what is most important. Naruto, Hinata and Akira learned to expand that range as well as learn how to read others' range so they can slip through the cracks in their vision making it seem like teleportation or that they disappeared from sight. Though it was harder to do this to a ninja, it was not impossible, unless the ninja had a sharingan, byakugan or could sense the opponent.
Guren slashed with her kunai, but it was caught and her other wrist broken. This was all she could take, pride be damned. Guren decided to run. Unfortunately, that plan too was ruthlessly crushed as a sharp pain made itself known in her back. Her legs seized up and she fell to her knees.
Guren strained her neck to assess the situation, only to find senbon, lodged in the base of her spine. Her wrists were broken, so she couldn't pull them out. However, that was the least of her worries as a shadow suddenly fell upon her.
She looked up and what she saw made her feel a way she hadn't felt in a long time.
Naruto removed a kunai from his yukatta and then slowly blew on it causing the wind to extend the reach of the short weapon. To Guren's eyes it was artistically beautiful. It reminded her of the day orochimaru destroyed her village and for the first time in a long time something stirred within her. She felt fear; fear enough to make a tear run slowly down her cheek as she saw her death coming.
To be so easily and decidedly beaten and broken.
"You have lost," Naruto said, his weapon poised to strike, "why have you lost? Am I that stronger than you? Are you that weaker than me?"
"Y-yes," Guren said tears in her eyes, "you are stronger than me. Finish it then."
Even in defeat, she was proud, but at least she had learned a bit of respect.
"You are proud," Naruto said as he released the wind from his kunai, "I like that."
What Naruto did next would forever both haunt her and send cold chills racing up her spine.
"Be my proud ninja," he said as he wiped the tears from her eyes and moved in closer, "will you be a proud ninja with a proud home and serve me and this village?"
Guren could not understand what came over her, but her face started heating up and her heart started racing.
"Well?"he asked her, quietly in her ear, "will you become a proud kunoichi of arashigakure?"
"Y-yes," she said as she leaned unto him as if giving up all of her anger.
"Do you yield?" Naruto asked.
"Yes, I yield," she said, as she felt the senbon removed from her back, "I will become your kunoichi."
"Sleep now, Guren of oto," Naruto said gently to her as he cast a genjutsu on her, "sleep and when you awaken, you shall be Guren the proud crystal of the storm storm."
With that, she fell into the genjutsu induced sleep, a final tear rolling down her cheek.
He picked her up bridal style and carried her out of the arena. The placement exams were over.
"Uzumaki- sama, are you unharmed?" Tsubaki asked as she appeared by his side, "you were caught in this kunoichi's technique."
"I'm fine Tsubaki," Naruto said setting Guren down for the medics to take care of, "she is strong and her jutsu is powerful, but it has a weakness, or rather a few weaknesses."
The first time Naruto's kage bunshin was caught, he used the opportunity to try and understand her crystal element, and when it was dispelled, he realised something. While she could even crystallise the air and anything she touched, she could not crystallise energy.
"She cannot crystallise energy like chakra and Naruto-kun's chakra is very powerful," Hinata said as she checked Naruto over for any injuries when he returned, "but you could have found a better way to let her know she stood no chance."
"True," Naruto said as he scratched the back of his head nervously under Hinata's gaze, "but she is stubborn and just beating her isn't enough, I needed to break her."
So he started with her jutsu, one of the things she obviously prided herself on. Hinata understood this; after all, she might have done the exact same thing.
After the exams, Naruto, the department heads and the elders took some time to deliberate. Unfortunately, things were not looking very well. Most of them were fodder, nothing more than genin, at least by the standards of the storm. It was not all bad though, the ones that were chunin level showed great promise, maybe after some remedial training, they would make jounin. Say what you want about Orochimaru, but the snake man knew how to locate talent.
The best part however, was Guren. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that she was definitely Jounin and well deserving of it. In fact, she could even gain the rank of special jounin. However, before that could happen, before anyone one of the former oto ninjas could be official ninja of arashi, there was a final test.
Unfortunately, this test was as difficult for the examiner as it was for the examinee. It was a test of loyalty.
The solution was a seal given to each of the former oto ninja. It was a kill seal that could be activated remotely by only a select few. Of course, they did not know of this. After all, to truly test a person's loyalty, they must never know they are being tested.
They would be told that they had three months probation, but the reality was that they were actually given six months probation. During this time, they would be given free access to all but the most sensitive of areas. Trust had to be given in order for loyalty to be tested; that was one way of earning it. The extra three months, when they are not aware they were being tested, is when the true evaluation would begin. Only those truly loyal, or those truly paranoid would survive.
So, Naruto stood from his seat after the deliberation was done. He walked down to the center of the arena where the former oto shinobi were. They all bowed, some more willing than others.
"Stand," Naruto said, playing the part of stern and strict master of ninja, "We have deliberated and we have decided."
He paused as he looked at the faces of the ninja before him as well as for dramatic effect. Some things never die, and Naruto's sense of humor was one of them.
"You all shall be selected and incorporated," cheers went up at his declaration before Naruto raised a hand to calm the crowd, "in arashigakure no sato, we pride ourselves on three things, stealth and cunning, strength of will, and loyalty."
They listened on in silence, giving Naruto their full attention. Even Guren, who still grudgingly listened, paid him her full attention to his every word. She is a strong and prideful woman, Naruto had pegged her personality correctly, and with that pride, he beat her at her best and brought her to her knees. She listened to his speech of how stealth and cunning can be learned, of how the will can be strengthened, but she was caught at loyalty, how it is something not given cheaply or easily.
Guren was never loyal to anyone, not even orochimaru. She was envious of his power and was loyal to that. She would never betray him, but she never truly respected orochimaru or trusted him fully, only a fool would, and Guren was no fool. Quite a contradiction considering she would have laid down her life for him at a moment's notice and even willingly offer him her body... one way or the other.
Yes that was who she was, a strong prideful woman, vein both in the way she looks at herself and her outlook on things.
She was not easily swayed and her loyalty was not easily given, but when given it was given quickly and without question; whether it was to the person or to something the person possessed.
With their new hitai ite, they were each given a mark. They would wear them for their three month probation period. This was a moot point to Guren, she had already made up her mind. Naruto had already shown her a portion of his power and drew out warm tears. She now belonged to him and she knew that, after all, she had said it.
"Be my proud ninja," he said as he wiped the tears from her eyes and moved in closer, "will you be a proud ninja with a proud home and serve me and this village?"
Guren could not understand what came over her, but her face started heating up and her heart started racing.
"Well?" he asked her, quietly in her ear, "will you become a proud kunoichi of arashigakure?"
"Y-yes," she said as she leaned unto him as if giving up all of her anger.
"Do you yield?" Naruto asked.
"Yes, I yield," she said, as she felt the senbon removed from her back, "I will become your kunoichi."
She was now his proud kunoichi, and she would do anything for it to remain that way... anything at all.
"Why do I feel this way for him," Guren thought, "he is just a brat."
"Now, you are shinobi of the storm, and I, am your kanshisha," Nauroto finished as he watched out over the ninja assembled before him.
"Naruto, we have a situation," Hinata whispered in his ear.
The tone of her voice made it obvious that she was very serious.
"What is it, Hinata-chan?" he whispered back as the ninja all dispersed as they were now free members of the storm.
"The barrier team has intercepted a konoha ANBU," she said, and after seeing Naruto's eyes widen she continued, "my subordinate informs me that the ninja claims to be baring a message directly from the hokage to you."
"Hmm, that is interesting," Naruto said, "there is no way that kakashi and the others would make it back so soon for Tsunade to send any sort of reply."
"So what are you going to do?" She asked, "he could actually be one of Danzo's ROOT attempting to either gather intelligence or attempt an assassination."
"Or he could be telling the truth," Naruto rebutted, "either way, let's go see what this ANBU wants."
Naruto stood in front of a cell looking into its dimly lit depths. Inside was a man of average height and build. He was chained standing up, his arms spread wide and his hands fitted in stone gloves to prevent the formation of seals, and on his stomach and back, which were left bare, was an enscribed pair of matching seal used for suppressing chakra. They were quite effective, Naruto had designed them himself as a measure to suppress powerful chakras. Unfortunately, nothing short of a jinchuriki's seal could suppress the full brunt of a bijuu's chakra.
However, Akira decided they would still be useful.
The man looked up as he saw Naruto, but he was flanked by three women, Tsubaki, Akira, as the prison was the jurisdiction of her department, and Hinata.
"You are Uzumaki Naruto, Kanshisha of arashigakure no sato," asked the ninja, although it was more of a statement, Naruto nodded.
"Yes I am," Naruto said, "but you already knew that. Sorry about the treatment; precautions."
"That is unimportant, Kanshisha-sama," he said, "I have been charged by my Hokage with a message that must be delivered directly to you or no one else."
"And what is that message?" Naruto asked.
"Please come closer, this information is of the most sensitive nature."
Naruto considered it for a while before complying and opening the cell and walking straight in directly to the man with the three women at his back.
"Is this close enough?" he asked, almost challenging the masked man to try something.
Naruto was slightly surprised when the ninja did nothing, it would have been a little exciting to see just what he would have tried.
"Godaime hokage-sama wishes for you to know that the raikage has called for a meeting of the five kages.
A/N: Ok, I hope that my writing has not fallen any in the time that I was away, if not, please do not hesitate to tell me in what way. I do not have much to say this time, so until next time, Read, Enjoy, and Review.
Happy 2013 everyone.