Author's Note: Yeah, yeah, I know. He finally updated! Where the hell has he been?! Its been over a year! Well, sorry guys, but I do have an explanation. Allow me to introduce the world's biggest writer's block... I mean, seriously, we're talking about the Mount Everest of blocks here and I simply could not get past it! All I could think about was the Assassin's Creed/Naruto story, so I just wrote that.
Anyways, I hope you all like this update. More of a filler than anything serious, but please enjoy!
Chapter 24 – The Costs and Benefits of Being Legends
Three weeks had passed since the Invasion and in that time, much had happened. Countless shinobi had been either injured or killed and a good quarter of the village had been damaged or outright destroyed. But in times like these, any and all differences are put aside as the people of Konoha came together to heal the injured, bury the dead, and work to rebuild their war-torn home. The Raikage and his shinobi had returned to their country, but they kindly offered some monetary and military support during this crucial period.
Team Seven was among those helping with the repairs and were currently at a lumber mill on the outskirts of the village, having just collected the latest load of lumber to be brought back to the carpenters.
"Got everything, Sakura-chan?"
"On the count of three then, Sasuke."
"Yeah, yeah, let's get this over with."
"Alright. One… Two… Three!"
"Ugh… Kami, this is heavy!"
Naruto and Sasuke grunted as they lifted several pieces of lumber onto their shoulders and headed over to the nearest construction site. Their pink-haired teammate trailed closely behind, carrying cement bags in one arm and a basket of medicinal herbs in the other.
The streets were alive with chatter and construction. Everywhere you looked, workers could be seen laboring over rebuilt homes, structures, and buildings. And as Team Seven strolled through the busy streets, many of the villagers actually stopped to bow or gave them looks of respect and near reverence.
Word of their efforts against the Invasion's final wave had spread across Konoha! They, along with the rest of the Konoha Fifteen, were now considered heroes!
It was unnerving to say the least. All eyes were on them now… And not just their village, but the whole shinobi world was watching them now! They had prevailed against all odds, successfully defending the village from the final wave of the invasion and surviving! It was an accomplishment that only a handful of Jōnin could claim!
A few of them (Kiba and Ino… cough, cough) took all this in stride. Even relished it a bit.
Others simply ignored it, like Hinata, Neji, and Sasuke. Being members of respected and well known clans, the three received this kind of attention daily.
But the rest of them couldn't help but feel somewhat uncomfortable. Naruto in particular was extremely averse to the attention. He was used to being shunned, hated, and ignored and while he did pull pranks in his youth, it only ever received negative reactions, never ones of respect or admiration. Now, with word spreading that he had been the one to lead the defense and the blatant showing of his angelic wings, everyone's opinion had taken a complete one-eighty.
Apparently, a religious order had formed with him as their holy protector!
Regardless of whether they loved or hated the attention, there was really nothing they could do about it.
"Oi! Naruto! Sasuke! Sakura!"
"Yo, Tenten!" Naruto called back, waving at the brunette as they arrived at their destination. "Where's Lee? I thought he was helping you?"
"Goro-san sent him to get more lumber!"
"Well…" the bun-haired girl muttered, scratching the back of her head sheepishly. "That and his cries of youth were getting on the carpenters' nerves."
"Not just the carpenters," Shikamaru grumbled, exiting the house he was working on. "I couldn't sleep with him shouting all the time! Troublesome…"
"Sleep?" Naruto asked. "Oh, don't tell me…"
"You were sleeping in there, weren't you?" Sakura finished, scowling at the lazy Nara.
"Trying to," he yawned. "But all this racket makes it impossible, even with Lee gone."
"Weren't you supposed to be helping the electricians with the wiring?"
"Yeah, but it's too much work…"
"Kami above, how did you become a shinobi?!" Tenten demanded.
"By doing the bare minimum… Any more than that is just too troublesome."
Shaking his head at Shikamaru's typical attitude toward anything that required effort, Naruto looked around. As it so happens, most of the Konoha Fifteen were working on the same site. Neji, Heizo, and Tenten were hammering in nails on various buildings, Shino was using his insects to reattach wires for electricians, and Kiba was digging out trenches for plumbing. Nearby in a medical tent, Haku, Hinata, Kira, and now Sakura were hard at work creating salves and herbal remedies from the local plant life in the area while Chōji and Lee were out at the lumber mill getting more wood for the carpenters.
Speaking of which, "Oi! Goro-san!" Naruto called. "Where do you want these?!"
"Put them over there by Akimichi-dono's pile!"
"Uchiha-dono! Dairyū-san would like your help at the smithy when you're done!"
"Fuck, again? This is Hi no Kuni! There must be hundreds of shinobi with a fire affinity! Why do they keep asking for me?"
Sakura couldn't help but smirk at this. "You're just hotter than them."
Sasuke just gave her a withering glare as he walked off. "Fine, I'll be right there!"
At that moment, Lee arrived in full sprint with a huge load of lumber in his arms. And he made sure everyone knew that he was here. "YOSH! GORO-SAN! I HAVE RETURNED WITH THE LUMBER YOU REQUESTED!"
"Dammit, gaki! Stop yelling in my ear!"
The spandex-wearing specialist balked at this, horrified that he had yelled in an elder's ear, and immediately started doing push-ups. "GOMEN! I WILL DO ONE THOUSAND PUSH-UPS AS PUNISHMENT!"
"You don't have to do tha-"
"AND IF I CANNOT DO THAT, I WILL DO TWO THOUSAND SQUATS!"
"Lee-san! You don't ha-!"
"AND IF I CANNOT DO THAT, I-!"
"GAH! If you want to apologize to me so badly, go bother somebody else! Geez!"
Cue mass sweatdrop.
"Hey Shika," Chōji called, having just arrived with his own load of lumber. "Where's Ino?"
"She's at the Torture and Interrogation Division's headquarters," Shikamaru answered, laying on his back and staring at the clouds. "We captured a lot of prisoners during the invasion and Konoha needs every member of the Yamanaka clan to extract information. She said she'd meet up with us at lunch though. Speaking of which…"
Sighing, Shikamaru slowly got back onto his feet and ambled over to the food station with the rest of his group. Bento boxes in hand, the Konoha Fifteen (including Ino who had just arrived) were soon settled on the ground by the wood piles, joking, laughing, and conversing as they ate.
"How's the arm feeling, Kira-chan?" Naruto asked, taking a bite out of his sukiyaki.
The girl looked at her arm, slowly flexing it and wincing slightly at the scars. "Better, thanks to you. Those Seiton Iryō Ninjutsu of yours are really good… The Medic-nins were talking about amputating my arm before you came in."
"Yeah well, you're not the only one."
"Oh right, you've been helping them out! And you healed everyone that helped us in the Final Wave," Kira said smiling.
"Well, not everyone," Naruto muttered. "Some of them lost a limb or something and even my powers have their limitations. And I've been depleting my celestial reserves every day trying to help the more seriously injured, but there's just too many."
"You did what you could. I'm sure they're all grateful."
"I guess…" he pouted, frustrated that he couldn't do more. Of all things, chakra depletion was stopping him from helping more people… HIM! The freaking stamina freak and chakra fountain!
"Hey, does anyone know what happened to that psychotic Suna-nin, Gaara?"
"Yeah, he got his ass whooped by the Nibi Jinchūriki, Yugito. Apparently, both went full Bijū and proceeded to have the mother of all monster battles near the Stadium."
"Is he still alive?" Tenten asked.
"Barely from what I've heard. The medical report states that he has fourth degree burns all over his body."
Everyone winced at that. "Oh… ouch."
"Even if he is a murdering psychopath, I can't help but feel a little bad for him."
"Yeah, no kidding.
Wanting to change to topic, Tenten asked, "So who thinks they'll get promoted?"
"I think we all know that Team Seven is going to get promoted," Chōji said in between bites.
"Sasuke and Sakura might. But me? Technically, I never got a chance to fight during the tournament."
"You'll probably get a field promotion," Haku said, nibbling her onigiri as she leaned against her boyfriend. "You were the one leading us after all."
"Maybe. It's not like it really matters though. Team Seven is regularly assigned missions well above our official military rank."
"Lucky…" Kiba muttered.
"Hey, not our fault that we're badass and you're not."
"What?! Why, you-!"
"I know the truth hurts, but you just have to deal with it."
"Oi! Now, look here! I-"
"I mean, everyone in the village knows that Sasuke, Sakura, and I could beat your ass into the ground without even trying."
"Poor Akamaru… I'm sorry you have to put up with him. He's a bad pet, isn't he, boy?"
"Though I have to ask, Shino, how do you deal with his sheer level of fail? His presence alone must bring down the awesomeness of your team down a few notches."
"I assure you, Naruto, it is not easy."
"Ano… Shino-kun. That really isn't nice to say…"
"You-! I-! Th-! ARRGHH!"
All of the sudden, over a hundred shinobi, armed and dangerous, appeared surrounding them. They hailed from every major village and many were glaring at them with undisguised contempt. Some, however, looked at them with interest, as if considering offering them something. Either way though, what was more concerning to the Konoha Fifteen was how so many enemy-nin had entered their village without the border patrols noticing…
Clearly, something was not right here…
"Can we help you?" Naruto asked, already fingering his sword handles.
"As a matter of fact, yes, you can," a shinobi from Kiri said, bowing slightly to the now even more confused teens. "The Mizukage would like to extend an open invitation for all of you to join Kiri's shinobi force."
That threw them all for a loop. Join Kiri? Why would they want to join another shinobi village?
But before any of them could voice their thoughts, an angry looking Kumo-nin stepped forward, brandishing a katana. "OI! What the hell are you doing?!" he yelled. And he wasn't the only one either. Dozens of shinobi, from Iwa, Kumo, and Suna, began to object at the Kiri-nin's invitation.
"What's it look I'm doing?! I'm offering them a place in Kirigakure!"
"That wasn't part of the deal!"
"We're supposed to kill them!"
"They're all too powerful to be left alive!"
"Let's kill them!"
"And waste their talents? Not a chance! Kiri could benefit greatly from them joining us!"
"So could Iwa!"
"They should join Kumo! We're the strongest village in the Shinobi Godaikoku (Five Great Shinobi Countries)!"
"First you yell at me and now you want them for yourselves?! Back off! I asked them first!"
The Kumo-nin sneered. "Do I look like I care? Raikage-sama will reward me greatly for bringing those three-" jerking his head at Team Seven "-the Hyūga, and the Hyōton user to Kumogakure. I don't care what you or those emotionless bastards say! They're just a bunch of traitors anyways and everyone knows that Kiri is the weakest of the Shinobi Godaikoku (Five Great Shinobi Countries)."
"You wanna fight?!"
As the shinobi continued to argue, many of whom started getting into fights with one another, some members of the Konoha Fifteen got up and started stretching in preparation.
"So they're here to either capture us or kill us," Sasuke muttered, twirling his scythe between his fingers. "And I thought I had enough on my mind with Orochimaru."
"But how did they get past the patrols and the barrier surrounding the village?"
"We'll ask them after we kick their asses! You lot can just stay seated. I'll take care of this."
"YOSH, SASUKE-KUN! LET US COMPETE TO SEE WHO CAN DEFEAT THE MOST OPPONENTS!"
"Teme! Who do you think you are giving me orders! Akamaru and I can take them all ourselves!"
"I cannot allow these people to bring harm to Hinata-sama."
"I believe I too will participate. Why you ask? It is because my Kikaichū have evolved after their exposure to Naruto's Yōki and they have been rather agitated as of late, craving battle."
"Oi! Don't go blaming me for what happened to your Kikaichū! You asked me for the Yōki!"
"I guess I could use the exercise."
"Boys…" Haku, Sakura, Tenten, Ino, Hinata, and Kira chorused as they watched just about every male member of the Konoha Fifteen stand up, itching for a fight. The only exceptions were Chōji, who was happily munching on his meal, and Shikamaru, who was busy snoring on the ground in his usual undignified manner.
A hundred against seven.
No matter how you looked at it, the fight was a complete mismatch in every way.
"Dead or alive?"
"Alive. I'm sure Jiji will want to interrogate them."
Yeah, sucks to be them…
Elsewhere and completely ignorant of the battle taking place, a very important meeting was underway. "Well then, shall we begin?" Sarutobi asked, shuffling through some documents. Standing behind him were each of the candidates' Jōnin Instructors. "In light of recent events, any and all judging, discussion, and decisions made for this year's Chūnin Selection Exams will be based off both the skills demonstrated in the tournament and their actions during the Invasion. We have several eye-witnesses, all of whom are shinobi, who will be giving us their personal accounts of each candidate's abilities during the Invasion. A written report has also been provided to each of you for your convenience. Once they've finished, the floor will be open for discussion and questions for that specific candidate. Please keep in mind that the candidates we will be judging actually progressed to the Final Stage of the Exams. Those who did not make it to the final round will be considered at a later date for a field promotion. Am I understood?"
"Then, let's begin! Hisako-san, if you would start us off? Please state which Genin candidate you witnessed and how, a ranking of their skills, whether or not you'd promote them, and your reasons why."
"Hai!" the kunoichi answered. She was one of the surviving Chūnin that fought with the Konoha Fifteen during the Final Wave of the Invasion. "Heizo Keiyaku under the leadership of Jōnin Zabuza Momochi, Registration ID 012820. I witnessed Keiyaku-san's abilities during the Final Wave of the Invasion. His skills and my ranking of them are as followed: Overall, I would place Heizo Keiyaku as a low B-ranked shinobi with Mid to High-Chūnin level skills in Taijutsu, Bukijutsu, Fūinjutsu, and Ninjutsu. His skills in Genjutsu are unknown. He is quick, smart, has demonstrated excellent leadership skills, and knows how to prioritize in combat situations. Based off these qualifications, I would recommend Heizo Keiyaku be promoted to Chūnin."
Sarutobi looked at the other witnesses who had participated in the Final Wave of the Invasion. "Would you all agree with Hisako-san's assessment of Heizo Keiyaku? Feel free to add anything you consider noteworthy."
"There is nothing else to add, Hokage-sama."
"Excellent. I now open the floor to the Council and Judges," Sarutobi announced. "Please keep in mind that Heizo Keiyaku also fought one match during the tournament against Tenten Kazuki."
Ibiki was the first to speak. "You mentioned that Keiyaku knew how to prioritize in combat situations. What did you mean by that?"
"During the Invasion, Keiyaku-san gathered a few other Chūnin, myself included, to protect Genin Shikamaru Nara. It was quickly apparent that he did so due to Nara-san's keen tactical intellect. Such a scenario could easily be translated to escort missions and protection detail and is invaluable in wartime scenarios."
"Indeed… An excellent observation and analysis, Hisako-san."
Homura was next. "What would you say is Keiyaku-san's strongest skills?"
"Ninjutsu and Fūinjutsu."
"Fūinjutsu? That is a difficult art… And one rarely demonstrated during war with the exception of basic storage scrolls. How did he show it?"
"Before the Final Wave, each of us were given a mirror shield as means of redirecting projectiles and for basic defense. Many of our numbers were skeptical, so Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze and Keiyaku-san explained how they worked. While I did not understand the technical jargon, we were essentially told that the mirrors combine Space-Time Ninjutsu and Advanced Storage-Seal Mechanics to redirect any projectiles that touches its surface."
"Fascinating… We should find a way to incorporate those skills toward our armor."
"His mirrors were quite unusual," a judge muttered. "I've never seen anything like it."
"Zabuza-san, would you be able to better explain the mechanics behind his techniques?"
"No can do," the demon-eyed swordsman said, shaking his head. "I only recently started working with the brat. You should just ask Naruto. He's pretty good at breaking the technical things down in techniques."
"I will consider it."
"His Ninjutsu aside, I think we are all in agreement here that Keiyaku-san should be promoted."
"Hai, though I do think his outfit could use some modifications toward being more discreet during infiltration missions. Nevertheless, he has demonstrated all the skills needed to be a Chūnin."
"All in favor?" Sarutobi called, seeing the judges give a unanimous agreement. "Then it is agreed. Next, we have Kira Tatsumi. She was not able to fight in the tournament, which would have been against Shino Aburame, so we will make our decisions based off the accounts of our witnesses. Juro-san, if you would…"
"Hai, Hokage-sama!" This time, the shinobi who spoke was a massive seven-foot tall Jōnin with a scar running across his face from the left temple, over the bridge of his nose, and ending just shy of the ear lobe. "Kira Tatsumi under the leadership of Jōnin Zabuza Momochi, Registration ID 013195. I witnessed Tatsumi-san's abilities at the Merchant District where she, three Genin, six Chūnin, and I fought against the invaders. Her skills and my ranking of them are as followed: Overall, I would place Kira Tatsumi as a low C-ranked kunoichi with High-Chūnin level skill in Taijutsu, and Low-Chūnin level skills in all other fields. She is fast and physically powerful, but she's also reckless and impulsive, regularly attacking without taking the time to assess dangers or priorities. Based off these qualifications, I would not recommend Kira Tatsumi be promoted to Chūnin."
"To those of you who witnessed Kira-chan's abilities during the Final Wave, is there anything you'd like to add?" Sarutobi asked, looking at the other witnesses.
A one-armed Chūnin, having lost the limb during the battle, stepped forward. "Only that I agree with Juro-san's assessment. Kira-san was one of the first to be taken out of commission, when her arm got badly mangled in a fight against a particularly powerful demon. The creature was clearly far stronger than she was, and such a foe should have been faced either by a team or one of Team Seven's members, all of whom clearly have experience with fighting demons. However, I would like to point out that she did so protecting one of our injured comrades and it's thanks to her efforts that they live today."
"Noted… Would anyone else like to comment?"
The witnesses looked at each other before shaking their heads. "No, Hokage-sama."
"Then I open the floor to the Council and Judges."
Tsume, head of the Inuzaka Clan, took the lead this time, directing her question at Zabuza. "Kira Tatsumi… She wields the Kekkei Genkai, Yasei no Yobidashi (Call of the Wild), right?"
Zabuza grunted an affirmative.
"From what I've heard, that Kekkei Genkai is supposedly quite similar to my clan's abilities. They use an animal, or animals in their case, to mimic their physical capabilities and movements. Is that correct?"
"Basically yeah," the former Kiri-nin said. "The Yasei no Yobidashi (Call of the Wild) focuses on specific aspects of each animal. Tiger for strength, snake for flexibility, monkey for dexterity and adaptability, etc. You can considered it a jack-of-all-trades in comparison to your bloodline."
"So her bloodline is strictly physical and does not influence her mentality in any way, correct?"
"You're talking about her recklessness."
"Then yeah, you're right."
"I see. In that case, I would have to agree with the general assessment that Tatsumi should not be promoted to Chūnin at this time."
"I agree," a judge said in the background. "While she is physically capable and qualified, her mental and tactical abilities need improvement before she can advance. Gauging the battlefield, planning your moves, and picking opponents within a shinobi's ability to defeat are all vital aspects of being a Chūnin. She is not ready."
"All in favor?" the Hokage called, getting only a majority this time. "Then it is agreed. Next will be Tenten Kazuki. She fought against Heizo Keiyaku in the tournament. Yoshinori, if you would?"
"Yeah, sure thing Hokage-sama," a laid-back shinobi replied, taking a swing from the bottle of sake in his hand. "Woo, that hits the spot! Now, where was I?"
"Kami, why did he have to be a witness?" Inoichi muttered, a sentiment shared by everyone else in the room.
Yoshinori was well-known among the shinobi forces. While a powerful Jōnin, he was also a laid-back alcoholic and acted pretty much like a frat boy. It was rare for him to be seen without a sake bottle in-hand, harassing civilians and shinobi alike. He was also, unfortunately, a bit of a pervert.
Obviously, Jiraiya loved the bastard.
So it was with great reluctance that he had been called as a witness.
"Right! So, yeah… Tenten Kazuki under the leadership of Maito Gai, Registration ID 012573. Dude, I tell ya, this girl totally kicks ass! I saw her fighting outside the Stadium just after the Invasion started, which was totally uncool by the way, but she was fucking awesome! Beating everyone with her weapons and scrolls and music! So cool… And she's pretty cute too… Heh, heh…"
"Yoshinori-kun, please try to stay on track here."
"Oh, right! Sorry. Anyways, overall, I'd say she's Mid-Chūnin or so… Solid C-rank. She definitely rocks Bukijutsu and Ninjutsu with High-Chūnin class skills and everything else is around Mid-Chūnin. Oh! And get this! She has a wind affinity! How awesome is that?!" Yoshinori crooned. "Cute, strong, and has a rare affinity! What more could a guy want from a girl?!"
"Yoshinori-kun, based off her reports and everything you've seen, would you consider Tenten Kazuki ready for the responsibilities and hardships of being a Chūnin?" Sarutobi asked, ignoring the Jōnin's last comment.
"Thank you, Yoshinori-kun. You are dismissed," the Hokage said, grateful when the man swaggered off. "Now then, would anyone like to add anything before we open the floor to the judges?"
"Just a logical assumption, Hokage-sama, and one I believe everyone should take into account before reaching any conclusions," Kakashi said, not taking his eyes off his book. "Tenten is currently under Gai's leadership. She is also teammates with Rock Lee."
"She's been around Gai and his mini-me for over a year and is still mentally sound."
"YOSH! TENTEN IS A MOST YOUTHFUL KUNOICHI! HER FLAMES OF YOUTH SHINE AS BRIGHTLY AS MY OWN!"
"Huh? Did you say something, Gai?"
"CURSE YOU AND YOUR HIP WAYS, KAKASHI!"
"And this Lee kid is just as bad as Gai?!"
"She must be very level-headed to put up with those two."
"Anyone who can put up with Gai and his disturbing miniature protégé deserves a promotion!
"If only to save what sanity she may have left."
"Doesn't Lee also have a rivalry with his teammate, Hyūga Neji, like Gai does with Kakashi?"
"Kami! She puts up with those two and their rivalries?!"
"Ouch… She's got it rough then."
"The girl's got my vote."
"All in favor?" Sarutobi called, smothering a grin upon noticing Gai's mildly offended look at all the comments toward his… youthful character. "Then it is approved! And while we are on the topic of her teammate, Rock Lee, let us deliberate on him."
"Gai…" the elderly Hokage sighed. "Please try to refrain yourself from any more outburst."
"MY APOLOGIES, HOKAGE-SAMA! BUT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO CONTAIN MY YOUTHFUL EXUBERANCE WHEN MY BEAUTIFUL STUDENTS ARE BEING CONSIDERED FOR CHŪNIN! THEIR SPRINGTIME OF YOUTH IS TRULY MAGNIFICENT!"
"I understand, Gai, but do try to contain yourself. Anyways, if you would, Tetsuya-san?"
"Hai!" a raven-haired shinobi replied, stepping forward with a shaky limp. During the Final Wave, a particularly nasty demon had attacked him with a highly corrosive poison and it was only thanks to the combined efforts of Naruto's holy celestial chakra and some extensive surgery that saved him. His leg though, which had taken the brunt of the poison, was beyond repair. In the end, they were able to do just enough to avoid amputation, but Tetsuya would forever walk with a painful limp.
Still, it was better than nothing.
"Rock Lee under the leadership of Maito Gai, Registration ID 012561. I witnessed Lee-san's abilities during the Final Wave of the Invasion. His skills and my ranking of them are as followed: Overall, I consider Rock Lee a C-ranked shinobi with Low-Jōnin level skill in Taijutsu and Mid-Chūnin level skills in Bukijutsu. His skills in all other fields are non-existent. While physically powerful and incredibly fast, Lee has proven impulsive, reckless, and easily provoked. In addition, he has a tendency toward telling his enemies of his strengths and weaknesses. Based off these observations, I would not recommend Rock Lee to be promoted to Chūnin, even though I highly admire his spirit and determination."
"Thank you, Tetsuya-san. Feel free to take a seat. I can see you are in quite a bit of pain still."
"Thank you, Hokage-sama."
"Now then, do any of the witnesses have anything they'd like to add?"
"Hai," Hisako replied, stepping forward. "Lee-san appears to be overly eager and does not consider the dangers of the battlefield before charging in. He was the first person to charge into battle during the Final Wave instead of simply waiting for the enemy to arrive to us."
"I see… Thank you for informing us. Is there anything else?" No response. "Then the floor is open to the Council and Judges. Please keep in mind that Lee-kun fought Sakura Haruno during the tournament."
"That was a magnificent fight."
"A true showing of Taijutsu skill. And both use hard styles."
"I just wish the boy would discard that nightmarish spandex suit… ugh…"
"Don't remind me, Sora."
"According to these reports," a judge said, steering the conversation back on track. "Lee does not possess any skills in Ninjutsu or Genjutsu. His unique condition prevents him from expelling chakra outside his body in any large amount. He can still perform some basic techniques like surface clinging, water walking, and Taijutsu enhancement, but everything else will forever be out of his reach."
"And yet, he has excelled to this point with his skill in Taijutsu alone. Quite admirable."
"Can't the boy also open the Hachimon?"
"Five if I recall…"
"But will that be enough? In our world, power, whether it's raw strength or chakra strength, is not everything."
"Wise words, Izumi-san," Sarutobi muttered. "I happen to agree with you in this case. Lee-kun is undoubtedly a splendid Taijutsu specialist, but his inability to perform other basic shinobi fields is a severe detriment to not only himself, but his teammates as well. More importantly, Lee-kun has not yet demonstrated the appropriate mentality needed for Chūnin. There are many ways he could have strategically applied his abilities in his match against Sakura-chan, but he always took the most direct route. Such a straightforward approach could've easily led to the death of himself and his teammates in a real combat situation. Until he learns to fight with more care and forethought, I am of the mindset that we should not promote him."
No one could dispute the Hokage's words. Even Gai, who appeared absolutely desolate at each harsh criticism made against his beautiful Lee, could not fault their logic.
"Is everyone in agreement?" the Sandaime asked, getting unanimous approval. "Very well, let us move on. Next, we have Shino Aburame. Shino-kun was not able to fight in the tournament, which would have been against Kira Tatsumi, so we will make our decisions based off the accounts of our witnesses. Juro-san?"
"Hai!" the massive scarred Jōnin answered, stepping forward once again. "Shino Aburame under the leadership of Kurenai Yuhi, Registration ID 012618. I witnessed Aburame-san's abilities at the same time and place as I did with Kira Tatsumi. The two of them were the only Genin that survived our battles in the Merchant District. His skills and my assessment of them are as followed: Overall, I would place Shino Aburame as a Low to Mid C-ranked shinobi with Mid-Chūnin level skills in Ninjutsu and Low-Chūnin level skills in all other fields. However, despite his lower rankings, Aburame-san is a very calm and collected shinobi, a stark contrast to Tatsumi-san. He is highly observant, tactical in his combative approach, and utilizes his Kekkei Genkai to great effect. Based off these qualifications, I would recommend Shino Aburame to be promoted to Chūnin."
"Thank you. Is there anything else anyone wants to add to Juro-san's account?"
Hisako stepped forward once again. "I am unaware if you, Hokage-sama, or the Aburame Clan have knowledge of this, but I believe the Kikaichū inhabiting Shino Aburame's body have mutated from feeding on the Yōki during the battle. They are now capable of leaving burns at their mere touch and can create explosions on a scale similar to a Class 3 Explosive Tag."
This revelation sparked quite a bit of interest. A new breed of Kikaichū? And one capable of exploding at that… The military possibilities of having all the Aburame shinobi capable of performing such a feat were staggering! But there was also fear as well… After all, these effects may be a result of their exposure to demons.
One man could not help but voice his concerns to the Head of the Aburame Clan and father of the currently discussed Genin. "Do you know of any detrimental effects of feeding on Yōki, Shibi-sama?"
He shook his head. "There are none as far as I know. And this breed is not due to their exposure to Yōki, but the result of an experiment introduced to us by Naruto-sama in his capacity as the Creator. He proposed the idea of having some of our Kikaichū feed solely on our elemental chakra. The result is as Juro-san states…"
Eyes widened all around.
"Have the rest of your clan been able to produce similar results?" a certain one-armed, one-eyed elderly shinobi asked. Surprisingly, Danzo had remained silent throughout the entire judging up till now… Something that had Sarutobi suspicious.
"They have, though only with fire. We do not yet understand the effects of those possessing earth, lightning, or water affinities, and wind affinities do not exist in my clan."
"And what about the Yōki? Does it produce no effects?"
"According to my son, the Yōki did augment the powers of his Kikaichū."
"Interesting… Very interesting."
"Indeed," the Sandaime said, quickly intervening in the conversation. He did not like where it was heading and sincerely hoped his old rival did not do something foolish with this new information. "I would say everyone's opinion on Shino-kun's promotions is clear. Does anyone have any objections toward Shino Aburame becoming a Chūnin?" No one answered. "Very well then. Next…" Upon seeing the names, Sarutobi couldn't help but smile. "We have Team Seven."
This got everyone's attention.
The infamous three that led the defense against the Final Invasion.
They were hailed to be the next Sannin.
The greatest shinobi produced in their generation.
"Sasuke Uchiha, Sakura Haruno, and Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze… Those three have accomplished wonder after wonders since their Graduation Day. I could not be more proud of them... But enough of my ramblings, let us hear our witnesses' accounts of their abilities. We will be judging these three as a single team, so please hold off any recommendations and questions until after their assessments are given. Now then, Chinatsu-san, if you would start us off with Sakura Haruno?"
"Of course, Hokage-sama" a fiery haired ANBU replied. "Sakura Haruno under the leadership of Kakashi Hatake, Registration ID 012601. My account of Sakura-san's abilities will be the culmination of several ANBU squads' reports alongside my own observations, which were done before, during, and after her battle against Reiko and Seigen Datenshi, both known and highly dangerous Jōnin-level shinobi of the Datenshi Clan. Her skills and my assessment of them are as followed: Overall, Sakura Haruno is easily an A-ranked kunoichi with High-Jōnin level skills in Ninjutsu and Low-Jōnin level skills in everything else. Most notably, Sakura-san is capable of effectively wielding all five elements and combine several of them to create what was once believed to be Kekkei Genkai-only fusions. This ability is likely due to her possession of two of the Elemental Talismans. In addition to these skills, Sakura-san has proven to be incredibly intelligent, possessing of an eidetic memory, and has a talent for Genjutsu and Iryō Ninjutsu. In tactics, she seems to prefer contemplating and analyzing plans before executing them, but also desires to prove and test herself, as demonstrated during the Taijutsu battle she had with Rock Lee in the Tournament. Finally, she has developed an ability she christened as Gears, which appear to drastically increase her natural abilities in some way despite her enemy, Reiko Datenshi, nullifying chakra within her immediate area. Other than that, I do not understand how they work, though I believe Yūgao-sempai and Tenzo-sempai could explain some of the mechanics."
On cue, the highly attentive audience turned to the mentioned ANBU.
The two looked at each other before shrugging and Yūgao stepped forward. "Chinatsu-san was mostly right in her analysis. Sakura-chan's gears work by containing and implementing a high amount of elemental chakra toward a specific body function. In the case of Gia Sekando (Gear Second), she uses the Elemental Talisman of Water to safely increase her blood flow, metabolism, and osmosis rate, thus providing her muscles with more nutrients and oxygen to maximize her physical potential."
Eyes widened all around as the Council finally learned just how Sakura's Gears worked.
"And what about Gia Sādo (Gear Third)?" Danzo asked, an unnatural glint in his eye. "How does that work?"
"It utilizes the Elemental Talisman of Lightning to increase her electrical activities and responses beyond their natural limits. In this state, her reflexes, mental processing, and natural speed are all boosted, making her nearly as fast as the Raikage himself!"
Gasps swept across the room.
As fast as the Raikage?!
That man was considered the fastest shinobi after the Yondaime Hokage!
"I imagine there are drawbacks, correct?" Sarutobi asked, knowing well that there would always be a price for power.
"Hai, Hokage-sama. For Gia Sekando, this state has a limited time period due to the rapid depletion of nutrients in her body. Currently, the maximum time she can use this form is four minutes and once deactivated, Sakura-chan will experience severe exhaustion and fatigue. We also suspect that the strain this state causes on her body may also be shortening her overall lifespan. As for Gia Sādo, this form is purely support oriented, as the heightened nerve activity also increases the sensation of pain. Even a scratch can cause excruciating agony… Sakura-chan has to be extremely careful when using this form."
"Those are some serious drawbacks," Homura said with a frown.
"They sound similar to the Hachimon (Eight Inner Gates)," another judge commented.
"Indeed, and those effects could easily cost her and her teammates their lives in the wrong situations."
"She simply needs refinement," Danzo said. "Perhaps we of the Council can arrange for someone to help her."
Silence followed this statement. It was blatantly clear that Danzo wished to be the one teaching her, but no one would be calling him out. The one-eyed, one-armed man was simply too dangerous to take on right now, even in a discussion like this.
"Well then," the Sandiame said after a minute of silence. "Let us move on. KUMA-san, if you would?"
"Hai, Hokage-sama," a tall and muscular ANBU replied. "Sasuke Uchiha under the leadership of Kakashi Hatake, Registration ID 012606. My account of Uchiha-dono's abilities will be the culmination of several ANBU squads' reports alongside my own observations, which were done before, during, and after his battle against Shisō Datenshi, a known and highly dangerous Jōnin-level shinobi of the Datenshi Clan. His skills and my assessment of them are as followed: Overall, Sasuke Uchiha is an A-ranked shinobi with all-around Mid-Jōnin level skills. Notably, he wields a fully matured Sharingan, possess the legendary scythe of the Shinigami, the Shikei, and is currently branded with Orochimaru's Cursed Seal of Heaven. However, it appears that the seal has somehow been altered and is no longer causing any detrimental effects. Uchiha-dono is generally oriented toward making plans before taking action, but he has shown to be quite bloodthirsty and will sometimes just jump in for the sake of battle. I believe that is a result of his month-long training session with Zabuza Momochi."
At this, the swordsman smirked.
If only they knew…
"In addition to these skills, Uchiha-dono has demonstrated a power the Elemental Nations has never before seen. I believe it may be attributed or possibly a direct result of wielding the Shikei," KUMA paused, clearly uncomfortable with this particular bit of information. "He calls it… Shiton (Death Release)."
"You must be mistaken!"
"Uchiha-dono wouldn't so blatantly disturb the dead!"
"Shiton (Death Release)…"
"Is this the path he's walking?"
"Tell me, KUMA-san," Sarutobi murmured, silencing the room despite the soft tone he spoke with. "What kind of power do these techniques possess?"
"Corpses raised and enveloped in hellfire, ghosts made of burning ash, wailing spirits that explode on contact… I believe this is but a sample of Uchiha-dono's full power with Shiton (Death Release)."
Silence echoed across the chamber. Not even Danzo spoke… These was no denying that these techniques bore an eerie similarity to the Edō Tensei in nature and that alone, despite the general favor toward the Uchiha, gave everyone pause. There was a reason why the Kinjutsu was classified as such… It desecrated morality, ethics, and human rights… It simply wasn't right. But now, the village's beloved Uchiha wielded a power even greater than the Forbidden Technique…
"Let us move on," the Hokage said after several minutes of silence. "TORI-san, if you would finish us off?"
"Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze under the leadership of Kakashi Hatake, Registration ID 012607. My account of his abilities will be the culmination of several ANBU squads' reports alongside my own observations, which were done before, during, and after his battle with Seigen Datenshi, a known and highly dangerous High Jōnin-level shinobi of the Datenshi Clan. His skills and my assessment of them are as followed: Overall, Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze is a High-Jōnin level shinobi with High-Jōnin level skills in Kenjutsu, Ninjutsu, and Fūinjutsu. All other fields are Mid-Jōnin level with the exception of Genjutsu, in which he is incapable of performing outside basic dispels. He possesses the lost Kekkei Genkai, Tentai (Heavenly Body), wields the legendary blades, Ten'yuu and Mugetsu, and has demonstrated the ability to combine his wind and water affinities to create ice. He has proven to be remarkably intelligent and a natural-born leader, having been the one to lead their group during the Final Wave of the Invasion. Personality wise, he is similar to his teammates: levelheaded, calm, but enjoys challenging himself… though certainly to a lesser degree in comparison."
"Outside our walls, Namikaze-dono is already known as the Shi no Tenshi (Angel of Death). Within, he is known as the Creator and has personally crafted multiple new and unique techniques."
"So he's the Creator!"
"Amazing… Some of the techniques he's given us are simply incredible!"
"And he wields both legendary swords, Ten'yuu and Mugetsu, and the Kekkei Genkai, Tentai (Heavenly Body)."
"It is said that the bloodline only awakens in times where great strife and darkness is coming."
"That's just superstition," Tsume argued.
"Is it really?" Hiashi countered. "Can you really claim such a thing after everything that has happened these past few years?"
"Even if it is, there's no denying that Naruto has become a very powerful shinobi with the Tentai."
"Not only that, but as the vessel for the Kyūbi no Yōko, his chakra prowess is beyond even Hokage-sama's!"
"So much power at his fingertips…"
"His whole team does!"
Throughout all of this, Kakashi had the smuggest looking grin on his face, hidden under his mask.
"The Kyūbi Jinchūriki…" Koharu muttered, shaking her head as she listen to the chatter. "After all the years our village shunned him, who would have thought he'd become one of Konoha's greatest shinobi and defender… Well," she smiled at the smug looking Hokage. "-except you, of course."
"I always knew he was destined for great things. I could not be more proud. And on that note, I have before you all my own personal recommendations for the team. What do you think?"
"Do you think they're ready for the responsibilities?" a judge said after looking through the paper.
"They've more than proved that they are," a woman responded further up in the chamber. "With everything they've done for our village, this is the least we can do. Their skills far exceed that of their generation and giving them anything less would, in my opinion, be a disservice to them and Konoha as a whole."
"Well then, I guess it's approved then."
"Excellent," Sarutobi said with a wide smile. "Team Seven is to-"
The door to the council room suddenly burst open as Iruka came in. His breaths were labored, indicating that the man had run quite a ways to get to here, and in his hands were what appeared to be several black books.
"Hokage-sama! Naruto and the others… And you must see this!"
Taking one of the book, Sarutobi could not help but raise an eyebrow and smile as he leafed through its contents. "Well now, this certainly changes some things…"
"Final count… Thirteen."
"Thirteen? Oh… Not bad! Not bad at all… well, for a dog-faced ninja wanna-be."
"I'm sitting on number twenty-two."
"YOSH! SASUKE-KUN! MY FINAL COUNT IS SIXTEEN! WHAT IS YOURS?!"
"AS EXPECTED OF MY RIVAL! YOUR FLAMES OF YOUTH ARE TRULY MAGNIFICENT! I MUST REDOUBLE MY TRAINING SO THAT MY FLAMES CAN BURN AS BRIGHTLY AS YOURS, SASUKE-KUN!"
"Neji beat you too, Lee. He got seventeen." In an instant, the spandex-wearing specialist was by his teammate's side, yelling out challenges and praising his youthfulness. Poor guy… "And by the way, dog-breath, you got the lowest score. Shino got fourteen, Naruto got eighteen, and you just heard Lee's and Neji's scores. I told you that you sucked."
Littering the ground surrounding the bickering teenagers and the Konoha Fifteen were a bunch of unconscious, beat-up shinobi. Some were burned, some poisoned, some crippled, and some had deep lacerations… And not one of them was conscious.
"Something on your mind, Haku-chan?" Naruto asked, sitting on a small pile of unconscious bodies.
"Do you remember what they said?" the ice maiden asked. "Something about traitors."
"Yeah, not that you mention it… Apparently, they're emotionless bastards too. You don't think…?"
"It would explain how they got past the patrols and barrier."
"It's makes logical sense."
"They also mentioned a deal," Sakura piped in, having overheard their conversation. "And by the sounds of it, the deal involved our deaths."
"Makes me wonder what they would've gotten in exchange…" Naruto muttered. "But why us of all people?"
Haku and Sakura shrugged.
"Let's search them… Maybe we can find some sort of clue. And be careful of booby-traps."
Fifteen minutes later… "Hey guys! I found something!"
The group ran over to Sakura who was looking at what appeared to be a larger than usual Bingo Book. Curious, the girl opened the black book and began flipping through it. "Strange, this isn't like most Bingo Books. Looks like someone combined the listings from every country except for Konoha." It only took a minute for her to find why they were attacked. "Holy shit! We all have bounties!"
"Do we have nicknames?"
"YOSH! HAVING A BOUNTY IS MOST YOUTHFUL!"
"Dammit, Lee! Stop shouting in my ear!"
"I bet mine is higher than all of you! Haha!"
"That is highly unlikely, Kiba. In case you have forgotten, Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura all had bounties before this. It is also likely that Kira-san and Haku-san also had bounties before joining Konoha."
"Shut up, Shino…"
"Asking me to be silent will not change the truth, Kiba."
"I said shut up!"
"Ano… Please don't fight, Kiba-kun, Shino-kun."
"Shino's right though. Naruto, Sakura, and I already have bounties."
"As do I and Kira-chan."
"What is this, Pick-On-Kiba Day?!"
"Yes, it is."
"Didn't you get the memo?"
"Well, he is stupid. He probably did and didn't understand it."
"You're probably right…"
"You guys all suck…"
"Would you idiots please shut up?!" Sakura growled. "I'm trying to read!"
"Do we really all have bounties and nicknames?" Tenten asked.
"Yeah… And our entries are different than the other listings. The pictures they have of us are from the Invasion, not the usual registration photo."
"Really?" The group gathered around and peered at the pages, gawking at their contents.
Defenders of Konoha
Hinata Hyūga, the Byakkō (White Tiger) – 23,000,000 ryō
Shino Aburame, the Hotaru (Firefly) – 16,000,000 ryō
Kiba Inuzaka, the Jigoku no Banken (Hellhound) – 15,000,000 ryō
Ino Yamanaka, Notutorihannin (Hijacker) – 16,000,000 ryō
Shikamaru Nara, Shubō-sha (Mastermind) – 22,000,000 ryō
Chōji Akimichi, Gōwan Kyōjin (Strong Arm Giant) – 18,000,000 ryō
Tenten Kazuki, Shi o Hamingu (Humming Death) – 17,000,000 ryō
Rock Lee, Bāsākā (Berserker) - 18,000,000 ryō
Neji Hyūga, Sōhei (Priest Soldier) - 22,000,000 ryō
Heizo Keiyaku, Kyōmen (Mirror Surface) – 18,000,000 ryō
Kira Tatsumi of the Yasei no Yobidashi (Call of the Wild) - 21,000,000 ryō
Haku of the Arashi no Otome (Storm Maidens) – 24,000,000 ryō
Sasuke Uchiha, the Guren no Shinigami (Crimson Reaper) – 30,000,000 ryō
Sakura Haruno, Gogyōken (Five Elements Fist) – 29,000,000 ryō
Naruto Namikaze, the Shi no Tenshi (Angel of Death) – 32,000,000 ryō
The first person to react to the new bounties was, unsurprisingly, Kiba. "WHAT THE FUCK?! Why is my bounty the lowest?! Even Ino got a higher bounty than I did!"
"Hey! What's that supposed to mean?!"
"Didn't we already go through this?" Heizo asked, looking up from his own entry. "You suck, Kiba."
"Indeed… As Naruto and I have already explained, your abilities are inferior to everyone here," Shino said in his typical monotone. "It takes considerable effort on both mine and Hinata's part to compensate for your sheer level of fail."
"I'm going to murder you in your sleep someday, Shino. You and Heizo…"
"That is assuming Ino-san lets you live after you accused her of being weak."
"Yeah man, she's pretty pissed."
"YOU'RE DEAD, BAKA!"
As Ino beat the loudmouth boy into a bloody pulp, the rest of the Konoha Fifteen started excitedly comparing their bounties. Neji and Hinata were discussing how their status as Hyūga had likely been the cause for the high values while Sakura and Haku were boasting over the other girls. Lee, naturally, had manly tears of joys falling down his cheeks as he screamed to the heavens, both fists pumped into the air. "GAI-SENSEI! I'VE DONE IT! I'VE SHOWN THE WORLD I CAN BE A SPELNDID SHINOBI WITH JUST TAIJUTSU! MY FLAMES OF YOUTH ARE SHINING MORE BRIGHTLY THAN EVER, GAI-SENSEI!"
But not everyone was as enthusiastic as him. For some… "This is so troublesome!"
"Oh c'mon, Shika. It's kinda cool."
"Cool?! This is terrible! We're internationally known and now everyone in Konoha is going to be expecting us to take higher ranked missions! My mom is going to flip when she sees this! Do you know have any idea what this means, Chōji? Less sleep and cloud-watching! And for you, it means less time to eat!"
"Less… Less time to eat?!" The Akimichi's eyes widened in horror at this. "You're right… This is terrible!"
And for others… "Hah! I knew my bounty would be higher than yours, you bastard!" Naruto gloated, throwing his hands up in victory. "And by two fucking million too! Suck it!"
"Fuck! How could the class dobe get a higher bounty than me?!"
"Because I'm more badass than you! Hah!"
"Screw you, dobe!"
"Oi! I thought we agreed you wouldn't call me a dobe anymore!"
"Not when you're gloating, you bastard!"
"Oh, like you wouldn't have the same?!"
"HAH! I knew it!"
Startled, the Konoha Fifteen looked up from their celebration/gloating/sulking to see the Hokage and several squads of ANBU behind him. Surprise was evident in the (late) reinforcements' postures upon seeing all the unconscious enemy shinobi surrounding the teenagers. What the hell had happened?
"Is everyone alright?" Sarutobi asked, looking over the Genin with a worried eye.
Jiji!" Naruto cried, running up to his surrogate grandfather. "Yeah, we're fine."
"What happened here, Naruto-kun?"
The blond angel shrugged. "I'm not sure to be honest. They just appeared and had us surrounded. At first, they were talking about killing us, but some of them invited us to join their villages. Their rationale was that we wouldn't want to stay in a place that had traitors selling us out…"
Sarutobi and the ANBU froze at Naruto's explanation. Traitors… a word every loyal shinobi despised. Especially the Hokage. "ANBU, tie them up and transport them to the Torture & Interrogation Department. Make sure Ibiki knows he has my permission to use any means necessary, no matter how brutal. I want answers immediately!"
In less than five minutes, all the unconscious invaders had been carted off to the Torture & Interrogation Department where Ibiki was currently waiting with a shit-eating grin. There were so many new T&I techniques he wanted to try and thanks to the wonderful Hokage, he could now test them! Christmas had come early!
Meanwhile, back with the Konoha Fifteen, "Naruto-kun, Sakura-chan, Sasuke-kun, Haku-chan… come with me," the Hokage said, gesturing for them to follow. Confused but interested, the four teens waved goodbye to their friends and fell into step behind the elderly shinobi. "I have someone who would like to meet the four of you."
"Who would that be, Jiji?" Naruto asked.
"You will see, Naruto-kun. Patience."
Twenty minutes later and now deep in the forests surrounding Konoha, the group arrived at an ordinary rock formation… At least, that's what they thought before the Sandaime went through a long sequence of hand seals and press his palm against the rock's face. All of the sudden, a highly elaborate seal appeared, causing the rock to split perfectly down the middle and open up to reveal a stairway.
"This way," Sarutobi said, already heading down the steps.
The four shinobi quickly followed, slightly mystified as the torches lining the walls lit up on their own accord. It was at this point did Sarutobi finally began explaining just what the hell was going on. "Naruto-kun, Sakura-chan, Sasuke-kun, Haku-chan… The four of you along with your friends have done Konoha a remarkable service with your actions during the Invasion. But with that fame comes a price… As you now know, your names have spread across the Elemental Nations and every eye is on you. They are aware of what happened here and what you've accomplished despite the odds… Some countries may be content to take a wait and see approach, but others, as you've just experienced, want only your deaths. Either way, all of you are now in constant danger and the old shinobi saying cannot be ignored: After victory in war, tighten your armor."
Somber silence followed the Hokage's warning.
"But do not lose hope. Just as you've gained enemies, you have also made many friends. And your actions have caught the attention of the most powerful organization in Konoha… I believe you met one of their members just after your encounter with Orochimaru in the Forest of Death."
Eyes widened as the members of Team Seven recalled the meeting. That mysterious black-clad kunoichi who literally just faded away before their eyes.
"Who is this woman?" Haku asked, having not been present during this meeting.
"We met her after Sasuke got the Shikei and the cursed seal," Naruto answered. "She was unlike any shinobi or kunoichi we've ever met. She practically reeked of power, even though none of us could sense a speck of chakra. And we were only standing twenty feet from her! I can only imagine how powerful she really is!"
Sarutobi smiled. "She is very strong, as is everyone in her organization."
"What organization is that?" Sasuke asked.
"They are known as Yūgure (Twilight), an organization devoted toward the protection of the Elemental Nations to ensure that darkness never befalls us. Each and every one of their members are on par with an ANBU Captain and their Division Leaders are equal to that of the Sannin."
As strong as ANBU Captains and the Sannin?!
"Then, why are we here?"
"That, my dear, is what you are about to find out," Sarutobi answered, stopping before a massive door. On its own accord, it opened, leading to a wide circular chamber. In its center stood a single person, dressed in black, segmented armor with a hood and mask shrouding his facial features. The man radiated power on a level equal to that of the Hokage and his mere presence alone had all the teenagers standing straighter.
But then he spoke.
"Welcome to our Headquarters. I am the First Division Leader and the Commander of Yūgure."
Naruto's eyes widened. His posture went slack. All the blood drained from his face.
But, how could this be?!
"Y-Y-Yo… No… That's not possible. I met your soul!"
The trembling voice their teammate spoke with had the rest of Team Seven and Haku looking at him in worry. That worry turned into near panic upon seeing the pale and shocked expression on Naruto's face.
"Naruto, what's wrong?!"
"Naruto-kun, are you okay?! Naruto-kun!"
He didn't answer. All he could do was stare as the man before them pulled back his hood and mask, revealing his features finally. Messy blond hair, blue eyes, and a face that was almost identical to their teammate.
A face that everyone in Konoha knew as it was carved into the side of a mountain.
Author's Note: And there you have it! Team Seven finally meets with the mysterious Yūgure and its Commander, Minato! Anyone have any ideas on how he's alive?! Only one person has guess it right so far!
As always, please review and take a look at my newest story: Hidden Among the Tree Leaves, an Assassin's Creed. Obviously, this is a Assassin's Creed/Naruto crossover and its at a more moderate and serious pace. I hope you all enjoy!