The proctor called for them to start, and Hinata jumped back, throwing down the precious poison gas grenade as she did so. White smoke filled the area where they were. Hinata landed and waited for Neji to charge out of the smoke. Even a few seconds exposure would slow him down and Hinata knew she needed every advantage she could get.

Neji let out a contemptuous snort.
"Byakugan."

Neji took a deep breath, unheeding of the smokes true nature. Hinata had done her homework and used a tasteless, odourless toxin. Neji wanted to let the Clan Heiress know exactly what she was before he beat her down.

"You really thought that my eyes would be stopped by a little smoke, Hinata-sama? These eyes see all, and they see your fate: to be defeated here today by me. I have watched you, Hinata-sama. Watched you struggle to hold on to your friends, your family, your position.

"I see a girl too weak to hold on to anything. Her friends only stay with her out of pity. They know that she can't achieve much, but because they themselves are failures, if not quite to the same degree, they stay with you. Not because they want you, but because they feel sorry for you.

"They feel sorry for the failure who cannot even defeat a girl four years her junior in a spar. They feel sorry for a girl who was so afraid of the world that she stuttered until they helped her out of it.
They feel sorry for someone who, despite having so much, is worth so little.

"But they'll learn, just like your family learned. Learn that you are weak, spineless and a waste of their time. Too weak to be a ninja, too sheltered to be anything but a burden to those around her. They will leave you. One of them already did once, only to be guilted back. How long will that guilt hold?

"I have seen your fate, Hinata-sama: to be alone, broken and weak. You cannot escape your destiny."

Hinata didn't flinch as Neji's words slammed into her. She could feel her faith in herself fading. She wasn't strong; she couldn't even hold on to Naruto-kun. She was weak; her own family was talking about sealing her...she wasn't...

Naruto's words came back to her.
Neji is going to slam you into the ground with his mind games if he can. Don't let him. You are stronger and better than that. You take that hit and you ignore it. That'll rattle him more than anything else.

Hinata gave herself a mental shake. Naruto was right...but he was wrong, too. She wouldn't let her friends down, she wouldn't fail her nindo. She would triumph and make her clan into a family, and although ignoring Neji might have been the easy thing to do, it wasn't what she was going to do.

"Byakugan," She said quietly, but loud enough for Neji to hear.

"I am not weak. I am not a failure. I am Hinata Hyuuga; I will change the clan for you, and all my family. I will not give up; that is not who I am anymore. You can try to stop me and fail, Neji, or you can join me. The choice is yours. I don't want to fight my brother Neji, but I will if I have to."

Neji listened to her words.
"Weak words from a weak heiress. Allow me to show you your fate!"
He charged out of the smoke cloud, launching a palm strike at her.

"No," Hinata said quietly as she deflected the strike over her shoulder.

She launched a hard palm strike of her own into Neji's chest, sending him back.
"You will not."

Neji staggered and felt his world blur. He was so tired; why was he so tired? Thoughts went through his head, rejecting ideas. A kai showed how it wasn't a genjutsu, so what was it..wait. That smoke bomb...hadn't been just smoke, Neji realized. It was a poison.

His hand reached into his jacket for a universal antidote; it wasn't as effective as a proper antidote was, but it would keep him going long enough to beat her.

Hinata rushed him, trying to destroy the vial. Her strikes were fast, flowing, and worryingly unpredictable. Neji blocked, dipped and dodged as best he could, but with one hand occupied and the poison continuing to slow him down, he couldn't get free.

He needed space, he needed it now. Throwing the vial up as hard as he could, Neji slid into a stance and revealed his first trump card.

"KAITEN!"

Hinata had just enough time to bring her arms up to protect her body as the blue chakra dome span into existence sending her flying. She landed ten feet away on one knee with both her hands on the ground. She could see the vial falling with her Byakugan. No matter what, she couldn't let Neji drink the antidote.

Pushing herself up off her feet, she ran towards Neji, throwing a brace of shuriken at the vial. Neji threw his own back. However, by then Hinata was in striking distance, and she let her strikes flow into a distracted Neji with all the desperation she had, her chakra attempting to overwhelm his and shut down the tenketsu in his arms.

Naturally enough, Neji was not on board with this plan. Even as Hinata attacked he blocked, dodged, and counterattacked her back. Even with the poison slowing him down, he could still match Hinata. However, each redirected attack, each block saw him becoming weaker. Neji snarled at himself in his frustration. He was a genius, he was better than her and no poison was going to bring him down before he took her down. One shot he had to be fast enough, to do this before the vial hit the ground.

"You...are in range of my divination," he said.

"One Palm!" A sharp blow into Hinata's stomach, the tenketsu valiantly trying to stay alive.
"Two Palms!" Two more blows. Hinata couldn't move, the tenketsu couldn't hold on.
"Four palms!" The hits were beginning to move faster now.
"Sixteen Palms!" The invading chakra burned her tenketsu, it hurt, it hurt so much.
"Thirty Two Palms!" Can't breath, can't think, have to stand.

The sound of glass shattering on the ground.

"Sixty Four Palms!" Neji continued his attack but the blows slowed, and stopped as he fell down.

Hinata caught Neji before he hit the ground, too. Her insides were on fire, but she could endure. She had won...finally. Have to see the medics and get fixed before her next match, though.

"I told you, Neji," she gasped out.

Hayate looked at the fallen genius. This was certainly an upset. He wondered how many people just lost their wallets.

"Neji Hyuuga is unable to battle. Hinata Hyuuga is the winner."

Hinata allowed herself a smile.
I did it, Naruto...Father...I won, She thought to herself. She took one step towards the exit, carrying Neji with her, when finally the damage she took caught up to her, and she collapsed.

X-X-X-X-X-X

Naruto let out a deep breath as the doctors finally reached Hinata and Neji. They seemed to provide some basic first aid before carrying them off.

"Well that was...impressive. Neji's a genius, from what I hear, and Hinata won," Sakura said.

"Yeah."

"You don't look happy."

"She won...but she's still out of the tournament."

"Oh. Why?"

"Neji might not have been able to put her down for the count, but that last attack will make her chakra too screwy to risk going forward with."

"Oh"

Sakura turned and looked as two new fighters came on to the field.

"It's Kiba and who again?"

"TenTen, no family name. Weapon specialist, projectile mostly. Kiba's going to have a hard fight."

"Why do you say that? Kiba might be...a little too into dogs and thinking like them...but he's strong, right?"

"Kiba is strong. In everything but flexibility, he has the advantage physically..."

"I'm hearing a but."

"Kiba's my friend, and he's always fought with his heart. TenTen fights with her mind. That's always an iffy match up. The heart can make you do things you never thought you'd do...and according to the Will of Fire, make you go beyond your limits. Thing is, though...the heart has to be in the fight."

"And you don't think Kiba is?"

"I think that Kiba is going to be worried about Hinata...so am I. That's going to hurt him."

"But TenTen was Neji's team mate. Won't she be worried, too?"

"She is, but again, fights with her mind. She can work past that."

"You think so?"

"That was the impression I got when I worked with her. She has emotions and can tell you off if you're being a dick, but in a fight...well, she specializes in steel. I think Kiba can and will win. I just wonder about the price."

X-X-X-X-X

TenTen breathed in and out, looking at the boy across from her. Everything she found out about the Inuzuka told her that Kiba fought with his dog and would try to overwhelm her with sheer physical power.

Lee tried to do the same thing when they sparred. She knew how to handle that sort of thing. TenTen knew she could win this.

"Second match of the first round between Tenten and Kiba Inuzuka...begin."

Kiba smirked and dashed forward to close the gap between them. TenTen had already jumped up and back while dropping a grenade. Grenades were not a common ninja tool, bulkier than explosive tags and prone to misfires, they did have one thing over sealing tags: the ability to carry shrapnel

The spray of metallic shards exploded into Kiba, who had just enough time to block his face. The metal didn't wound exactly, but it hurt.

"Gahh! Akamaru, you okay?"

The dog barked, having sensibly hidden behind his master when the grenade was dropped.

"Nice trick, but it won't save you twice."

TenTen let herself smirk.

"I don't need to use it twice."

Opening a scroll she let out a rain of metal caltrops on to the field. Kiba leapt back from the falling caltrops and the metal spikes scattered around the field. Tenten landed and immediately used more scrolls to create a field of caltrops between her and Kiba.

"...You expect this to stop me? They're just a bunch of metal spikes; I can avoid them."

"Really, you think this is all I have? You're good-" TenTen reached for the stink bomb and threw it at them.

"But not that good."

Kiba gagged as the foul odour assaulted his senses. Akamaru let out a whine of pain and discomfort.

"Damn it!"

TenTen felt her smirk grow wider, it was all going according to plan. She felt bad playing them like this, but she had to win. That was all there was to it. Sliding out senbon needles, she launched a small volley toward the still pained Akamaru. The needles hit the dog, who let out a yelp and then fell over. It looked like he was dead. TenTen knew that Akamaru wasn't, just in a near death state.

Kiba looked at his dog, then TenTen, and then back to his dog. Even from here TenTen could see something in his eyes snap.

"...I'm going to kill you!" he shouted.

Kiba didn't bother to evade or avoid the scattered caltrops, he just ran through them, building up speed as he launched into his Tsūga. TenTen was too shocked to move. Instinctively, she put up her arms to block as Kiba rained down blows on her. His claw like fingers tore her skin and pieces of her off. The force of the attack knocked her backwards, almost out of the caltrop field. However, her landing still left her with several of the pointed metal objects in her back.

TenTen grimaced; this was not in the plan. She forced herself to her feet. Thank Hotei she hadn't actually poisoned the caltrops. Kiba was still coming...too fast... need a melee weapon. Opening her scroll, she pulled out a staff and swung with all her might at Kiba.

The staff broke over his back. The enraged dog nin just kept coming. Even with the dozens of caltrops in his feet. It was like he didn't feel any pain, didn't feel anything...except the desire to hurt her.

There wasn't time for TenTen to block the next Tsūga. Again, claws ripped into her flesh. The pain of having her skin torn open was intense. The sheer force of the blow knocked her back down again.

Stand...stand, damn you. On your pride as a kunoichi, stand! TenTen raged at herself. She could feel blood dripping from her wounds. What the hell was she going to do...there was no choice. She had to use it.

Pulling out two scrolls and putting them upright she released her chakra sending them flying up in pillars of smoke. TenTen lept up between the two pillars that had now turned into dragons.
"Sōshōryū," she called.

Kiba looked up at her, waiting for the assault. TenTen didn't disappoint. Sōshōryū was not an attack of grace or elegance. It was a brutal all out attack of metal and edges. Kunai, kusari-gama, swords, axes, kama, spears, bladed sai, shuriken; TenTen knew them all, understood them. How to use them, how to throw them, how to get the most out of them. It was something earned through blood, sweat and tears. Now, the storm of metal descended on Kiba.

Kiba howled as the weapons began to hit their mark, then he moved. Not away from her, not out of the way of the storm of weapons, not what any sane, rational being would do, but he moved towards her. Tearing a sword out of his shoulder and using it to batter away anything too big to allow to hit.

More and more weapons, a knife, a rapier, a dao, a cestus. It didn't matter what it was, TenTen could throw it. Kiba just kept coming. He took wounds; in any other situation, he would have fallen before this storm if he didn't dodge. But, she hurt his dog, and he was going to kill her for that.

"Unbelievable," TenTen gasped as she landed, her arsenal spent. Somehow, against every single piece of sense and logic. Kiba was still standing and now he was near her. Blood dripped from the dozens of cuts and piercings that she had just made in his body. There was so much blood...she'd killed men who had less blood in them. Yet he just kept coming.

There was no time to try and make the storm of metal attack him again as he launched a final Tsūga into TenTen, sending the girl flying into the wall.

How...how does he keep going?...He should be dead...he...just keeps coming. We're both Konoha ninja but...he really wants to kill me. Get up, girl, get up. You have to live, dammit!

Again, TenTen forced herself to her feet. Most of her weapons were too far away to use...the only one left was an old tsurugi style sword. Calling on her chakra strings, she pulled into her hands. It was a weapon that was all but broken. She had cared for it. It was still old, and had seen far too much. She only kept it because the thought of not having all of her weapons with her was abhorrent.

Kiba was on his last legs; still, TenTen was alive, so he kept going. He was going to kill her, that was all there was to it. He was going to kill her! It didn't matter that his body was so full of metal that it shouldn't be possible to move, He was going to kill her.

The enraged boy advanced on her, raining down blows. TenTen brought the sword up to attack, only to have it batted aside, shattering the old metal in two. TenTen could feel the claws dig into her. It was only some last desperate instinct on her part that the wounds weren't lethal. Finally, Kiba tired of this and settled for just wrapping his hands around her neck.

TenTen could feel her wind piped being crushed. Can't breathe, can't think; she fought the desperate impulse to to claw at her neck to try and pry the vice like grip from it.

'The sword, stab him and kill him before he kills you!', a primal part of her roared. TenTen struggled to keep her mind clear as she used her chakra string to call the sword back to her hand. Stabbing the broken blade into Kiba as hard as she could, TenTen felt the last traces of consciousness leave her.

The broken sword plunged into Kiba's torso. Only the lack of air had prevented TenTen from properly targeting the blow to make it lethal. Still, the shock, combined with all the other wounds he had taken, was finally enough to pierce Kiba's white hot rage. The Inuzuka boy dropped.

"Both sides are unable to battle...this match is a draw," Hayate got out.

X-X-X-X-X-X

"Wow,0\" Sakura said. It seemed inadequate, even to her.

Naruto formed a clone. The clone took off towards the infirmary.

"Checking on them?" Sakura asked.

Naruto nodded.
"Yeah...I've never seen Kiba that hurt...or that angry. I really hope Akamaru isn't dead."

A suppressed shudder. Killing an Inuzuka's dog...was like declaring a blood feud.
"Would TenTen do that?"

The blond shrugged.
"Maybe, maybe not. Maybe she just used senbon to put Akamaru in a false death state. I dunno."

Sakura shook her head.
"That was just brutal. I hope the next matches are a little more tame."

"Next match is Rock Lee and Shikamaru Nara," Naruto said, looking at the field

Sakura frowned, trying to remember the first name.
"Rock Lee?"

"Maito Gai's apprentice. Haven't seen him fight, but I hear he's a Taijutsu specialist like his sensei," Naruto answered.

"So, who's going to win?"

"I don't know," the blond admitted.

X-X-X-X-X-X

This, Shikamaru reflected, was such a drag. Rock Lee was probably one of his worst match ups. Faster, stronger, and generally better at the physical arts. Lee could take him apart with a single punch. Honestly, he just wanted to give up. However, he knew that his mom would be...troublesome if he did so. So, how to win? The answer was to make it so Lee couldn't reach him before the Kagemane no jutsu could.

There was no practical way to stop Lee from hitting Shikamaru if they started out in the ring together. So the Nara had concocted this plan: don't be in the ring when the fight started.
The bunshin that Shikamaru sent out reacted accordingly to the called start. Only to have Lee punch through it.

So troublesome. The tree he was in gave a measure of protection; there was enough shadow to make it so Lee couldn't get to him without being caught. At the same time, this relied on Lee coming to him. Still, the Nara mused, it should work. If Lee was anything like his sensei Maito Gai, then he would prefer to fight head on and would come at Shikamaru.

Rock Lee looked at the dispelling bunshin. How unyouthful. Looking around, he tried to find Shikamaru.

Part one of the plan was a success. Now Shikamaru just had to draw the boy into a shadow. To that end, it was time to give away his position.
I just want to watch clouds. Troublesome.

Rock Lee heard the kunai coming before he saw it, and had moved out of its way before it could reach him. Looking at where it landed, he guessed that it came from that tree. Which meant that was where Shikamaru was.

"I see. So the unyouthful Shikamaru hides in the trees to avoid an open match."

Lee slammed his fist into his palm.
"I will restore his flames of youth!"

The...hell? Shikamaru looked at the strange boy in the open area. Lee took off towards the shade of the tree. Got you, Shikamaru allowed himself to think.

Only for Lee to jump. The older genin looked down at the tree trying to find Shikamaru, who was camouflaged. Looking, he couldn't see anything. Only one thing for it: take the tree down.
It is impossible to change direction once you were in midair without an outside force.

Lee didn't change direction, but chambered a kick and went through the tree branches. The sound of snapping wood and rustling leaves filled the air. Shikamaru already had his hands in the rat seal that his clan's Shadow jutsu favoured. Shadows came out to hold Lee, down but the boy was moving too fast and the chaotic swirl of the falling leaves and branches made it difficult to navigate to Lee's Shadow. Waiting until the last moment before Lee landed and pushed off again, Shikimaru used his jutsu

"Kagemane no jutsu: Success."

Lee grunted as he felt his body freeze up. He looked towards where Shikimaru was standing.
"This is a real drag, so-"

Shikimaru walked along the branch forcing Lee out from under the tree. He could feel each step was like moving a mountain..what the hell did this guy eat to weigh so much?

"-I'm just going to make you quit."

Shikimaru raised his hand. Lee began to raise his own in the gesture of surrender and then stopped. The hand was visibly trembling with the effort, but Lee was resisting the effects of the jutsu...how?

"I am not going to quit. I have to prove that I will be a Splendid Ninja."

Hold on, hold on. More chakra, make him quit before he breaks the jutsu, Shikamaru told himself.

"MY FLAMES OF YOUTH ARE NOT SO EASILY QUENCHED!"

The Kagemane jutsu shattered as Rock Lee put his hand back down. Shikamaru knew this could happen in theory, knew it could happen, but he never actually had it happen to him before. Before he could formulate another plan, Lee jumped up and planted his fist firmly into Shikamaru's face.

The lazy genius was unconscious before he hit the ground.

X-X-X-X-X-X

"Well, that was...dull."

"Shikamaru wasn't prepared for his strategy to fail, and didn't have time to come up with a new one."

"Still, after the first two matches-,"

"It's nice to have one that didn't end with both parties needing medics to get off the field."

"I thought you'd be more blood thirsty."

"... ."

"Sorry."

"Well, I can kill because of the job or mission..it doesn't mean I like seeing people on my own side hurt."

"Who's the next match?"

"Shino and that Hidden Sound Ninja, Dosu."

"Hidden Sound?"

"They're a minor village. This is their first year, so getting to the finals is kind of impressive."

"Will Shino win?"

"Yes."

X-X-X-X-X-X

Hayate shouted, "Shino Aburame versus Dosu Kinuta, begin!"

Neither Shino or Dosu moved. Shino watched his opponent. There had been maddeningly little information on his opponent. Then again, there wasn't much on how Aburame fought beyond insects being used to drain chakra.

Still, Dosu had given away some of his abilities earlier in the stands. Shino had attempted to place some kikachu on his opponent. While technically cheating, everyone knows that if you aren't cheating, then you aren't trying. Dosu had used some sort of sound based technique to kill them.

It wasn't deafening them or attacking the hearing organs, it was just shattering them through vibrations. Which meant, that although Dosu could create resonance, he couldn't adapt them that well, Shino reasoned. He also reasoned that the frequency was probably set to humans, thus the twin kikachu in his ear serving as makeshift earplugs.

The pair continued to stand motionless, looking at each other. Each going over how an opening move would go. Kick to the knee, block and-no that wouldn't work. Palm strike to the jaw, counter kick to the abdomen. No, too open. Shino frowned minutely as attacks were discarded like clockwork. That gray device on his arm was a weapon. Letting a weapon hit you was a bad plan. But with it attached to Dosu's arm, it made it incredibly difficult to engage in hand to hand and not get hit by it.

Shino's mind discarded a feinted roundhouse kick as leading him to eating dirt. The problem was that with the Kikachu essentially nullified, hand to hand is what he had left.

Twin lengths of wood slid out of Shino's sleeves. He had hoped to reveal this later but that arm worried Shino too much to not use the twin tambo. The ebony sticks were about as long as his forearm and treated for the rigours of most ninja combat. If hand to hand was too dangerous, then weapon to weapon would have to do.

Shino rushed Dosu, striking low with the tambo in his left. Dosu swung a haymaker at Shino's temple. The second tambo was brought up in a second to block the Melody Arm from connecting.

Dosu grunted as the hard wood slammed into his kidney. Shino allowed himself to mentally congratulate himself. The force applied would be enough to cause the blood vessels to burst. Now to withdraw and let blood loss take care of the rest.

The Sound ninja had other plans, as a wave of sound extended from the Melody arm. The tambo kept it from touching Shino, and Shino's kikachu served as a decent barrier for himself. However, no such protections had been afforded to his kikachu. True the queen and breeders lived deep enough inside Shino to be safe. But in a little under ten seconds, Shino lost half his hive.

Shino staggered back, reeling. Losses in battle were accepted and expected, but to lose that many at once was something that would shake any Aburame. Their relationship was symbiotic.

Dosu again swung his Melody Arm at Shino. On instinct more than anything, Shino pushed the sticks into the Melody Arm, keeping it far enough away that the deadly sound wouldn't claim anymore of his hive.

Again and again, Dosu brought his Melody Arm down on Shino, attempting to get that flesh contact to finish the fight. Again and again, twin sticks of ebony blocked and deflected the sound weapon. The crowd watched with baited breath as both struggled to get the upperhand.

Both parties were painfully aware of their time limit. Shino knew that his tambo would only last so long under the assault. Although designed to handle the power of a full on Gatsuga, the Melody Arm attacked the wood in a different way, one that it hadn't been treated to defend against. When it did break, he was screwed.

Yet Dosu had his own time limit. That opening strike against his kidney had hit and hit hard; his kidney was partially destroyed. The human body pumped all of its blood through the kidneys every five minutes. That much blood loss would kill him.

Shino parried another strike away from him and jabbed with the other tambo into Dosu's solar plexus. Dosu grunted as grabbed the stick and pulled it as Shino tried to bring it up. Shino stumbled as he was forced closer than he wanted.

Dosu straight up headbutted Shino in the face once he was in range. Shino staggered back, blood dripping out of his nose and colouring his jacket. His trademark shades shattered.

"Take that, you Leaf punk."

Shino settled for glaring. The headbutt had changed things, broken the rhythm that had settled between blocking attacks. Dosu overwhelmed Shino the Melody Arm forcing Shino to his knees as the world swam.

No time for finesse, no time for logic or tactics, Shino realized and tackled Dosu from his kneeling position, knocking the Sound Nin over. The two struggled for dominance both fighting on pure instinct. It wasn't a fight between ninja, cool, professional and detached; it was young teens doing their level best to kill each other.

Naturally, the crowd loved it.

The pair struggled until Shino managed to force Dosu onto his back and stay there. Dosu continued to fight as Shino drove a brutal finger jab into his eye. Dosu screamed as he was blinded.
Shino grabbed Dosu's arm and with a sickening crunch snapped the elbow so it was bending at a 180 degree angle. Dosu's screams got louder didn't last long as Shino brought the Melody Arm down on Dosu's head and forcing chakra into it. The soundwaves shook them both, but Dosu was so much closer to the wave that his brain vibrated into a pulp. Blood streamed from Dosu's ears as his brain finally had enough and turned to nothing more than goo.

Shino staggered to his feet and picked up his tambo. His entire body felt like it had been shattered and put back together. Still, he had won and that was what counted.

"Winner: Shino." Hayate called.

The Aburame nodded and staggered off to the medics. This fight had taken a lot out of him and even though he could keep going, logic dictated getting himself healed as much as possible.

X-X-X-X-X-X

Ino stepped onto the field, walking to the center. This was her chance, her chance to show everyone that she was good enough and strong enough. Sasuke's death had shaken her, even though they hadn't interacted since that day the Hokage talked to her. Ino had still hoped to build a friendship and romance with Sasuke after she became Chunin. Afterall, she couldn't let Sakura win.

That no longer mattered. Sasuke was dead; there was nothing anyone could do about that. All that was left was the need to become Chunin, and finally get this choker off her neck. She squared her shoulders back. Everything she had put herself through since that day came down to this. The long hours training her taijutsu, learning katon jutsu, mastering the use of kusarigama. All that work, so she could get her family hijutsu back.

The boy across from her, Zaku something or other, smirked at her. Probably thought this would be easy because she was a girl. Ino felt her temper flare even as she gave a pretty smile at him. She'd show this asshole the pride of the Yamanaka.

"Ino Yamanaka versus Zaku Abumi, begin!" Hayate shouted.

Zaku wasted no time bringing up his hands and launching a torrent of air at Ino.

"Zankūha!"

Ino leaped to the side, avoiding the worst of the blast but felt a piercing sensation in her shoulder. Looking, she saw it had been nicked barely. Even a glancing blow is enough to pierce my skin, I can't afford to take that head on, she thought to herself.

The sound nin redirected his arms and fired again.
"Zankūha!"

The blonde ran to the side avoiding the blast completely this time.
Is that all he knows how to do? She wondered.

"Zankūha!" Another blast.

Ino dodged that blast and another. Looks like it. Then, if I can get his arms down, this match is mine.

The Yamanaka continued to dodge the blasts from Zaku, continuing to circle closer and closer with each dodge, pulling out her kusarigama. The chain would work perfectly here.

"Zankūha!" Zaku screamed, frustration clear on his face.

Whirling the chain around in a circle, Ino launched it at Zaku's arm. The metal links wrapped around the boy's arms and pulled them together. Pulling on her end of the chain, Ino forced Zaku to stumble and go to the ground.

Ino took advantage of Zaku being on the ground and came behind him. Pulling his arms so that the deadly air tubes were pointing at something else, Ino placed the tip of the sickle against Zaku's spine

"Surrender," Ino hissed.

"Fuck you, bitch!" Zaku snarled back.

Zaku fired the sound and air again. Only this time instead of directing it in a simple straight line blast. He sent it backwards, knocking Ino away. She kept her grip on her chain though. The metal pulled tight against Zaku's arms, tight enough to break the skin as physics continued to pull Ino farther and farther away. The delicate air tubes were dented just as the chain snapped off the kusarigama.

Ino looked at her broken weapon, then back at Zaku. What the hell had just happened? She had him dead to rights and then he just decided no? That bastard. At least her injuries weren't so bad. He must have held back because of the redirection.

The Sound Ninja got up, looked at his arms and then looked at her.

"YOU BITCH! YOU RUINED MY ARMS!"

"Right. I did that," Ino said as she processed this.

Zaku charged her, clearly expecting Ino to be unable to handle him in hand to hand. Ino danced out of his palm thrust and elbowed him in the jaw, showing Zaku why he was wrong. The Sound nin attempted to to kick Ino, who blocked and reached under his leg and stabbed into a pressure point below the knee. Zaku grimaced as he wrenched his leg out of Ino's grip.

Ino went on the offence, using one arm to break through Zaku's guard and the other to land a punch on his solar plexus. Zaku groaned as he felt the wind knocked out of him. Ino raised her hand to grab Zaku's collar and pull him down into a waiting elbow. As the hard joint smashed into Zaku's temple, he staggered.

The Yamanaka bent at the waist to avoid the palm strike aimed at her chest. Giving Zaku a kick in the face for his trouble. Zaku's rage was allowing him to push past his limits, Ino could see that. The problem was that it also made him annoyingly resilient.
She slipped under his guard sending a palm strike at his jaw while punching him in the kidneys and finishing the little combo with a punch to his diaphragm.

GO DOWN DAMN YOU! Ino screamed mentally.

"Hah! You little bitch! you don't even-"
Zaku's pupils dilated as Ino kicked him hard in the groin.
"Hurt me," he squeaked.

Zaku's hand dropped to cup himself in his pain, allowing Ino to beat him into unconsciousness.
"And stay down, you bastard," Ino snarled as Zaku's eyes closed.

"Winner: Ino Yamanaka!"

Ino walked off the field with her head held high.

X-X-X-X-X-X

"Well, Ino stepped up her game, didn't she?" Naruto said, looking at the downed Ninja.

Sakura shivered.
"Yeah, she's...better than me."

Naruto gave her a half smile.
"For now, Sakura, for now. Still have to say kicking him in the groin was a bit of a bitch move."

Sakura snorted.
"Oh, like you wouldn't have done it."

"Point," Naruto said.

The pair fell silent briefly as Ino and Zaku cleared the field.

"Chouji's the last one in the first round, right?" Sakura asked.

"Yeah," Naruto answered.

Both wanted Choji to win, but neither knew him well enough to say one way or another, so they remained silent.

X-X-X-X-X-X

Choji felt nervous. He didn't really want to fight. He'd much prefer to just be a genin with Shikamaru. But Ino, Ino wanted to be a chunin. So, here they were. Choji watched the Sound girl as she looked up and down over him and gave a contemptuous snort.

"Choji Akimichi versus Kin Tsuchi, begin!" Hayate called.

"Oi, Fatass, just surrender," Kin said.

Choji felts his blood boil.
"What did you call me?" He asked quietly.

"Did I stutter, Fatass?" Kin said with a smirk.

Snap, Choji felt his temper explode into an inferno.
"I AM NOT FAT! JUST BIG BONED!"
Choji grew into a ball like shape as he screamed.
"Nikudan Sensha!"

Kin found herself looking up the mass of human flesh rolling towards her.

"Ah crap."
She tried to get out of the way, that attempt was the only thing that prevented her death. As it was, she still found her left side crushed beyond use. Her limbs refused to move, she would get better in time, but that attack had defeated her, and he was coming back.

Words, words that meant Orochimaru-sama would kill her, came to Kin's lips.
"I surrender."
Still, better to live and try for some redemption then to die now.

"Winner, Choji Akimichi!" Hayate said a sigh of relief.

Choji couldn't hear the proctor's call and kept coming. Hayate snarled something about assholes making him work for a living. Picking up Kin, he used the Sushin to get out of the way. Without a target, Choji stopped, realizing he had won.

X-X-X-X-X-X

"Well that was fast," Sakura said, watching Kin being carried off the field.

"Looks like she underestimated him and paid the price. See underneath the underneath and all that," Naruto replied.

Sakura was about to comment when a massive explosion echoed from the Hokage's monument. The two genin whirled their heads to look as Yondaime's face fell off the mountain, crushing the area below.

Neither spoke, they both knew without words, that the Chunin Exams were over. The Battle of Konoha had just begun, and their enemies had the initiative.

A/N: Good grief, it's been a while hasn't it. I have no excuses, only apologies. Anyways for all of those still reading, thanks for sticking with me. I'd like to thank my Beta Bookworm702 for his work hammering this into something readable. With any luck I can get the next chapter out faster. Happy Holidays everyone.