Important Notice: As of this date, I have decided to classify this story into Books; i.e. Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, ect. I was thinking about it, and if this story goes as planned, it's going to be really long. As of now, this story is around 290,000 words, and according to a questionably reliable google search, the last Harry Potter book was 204,796 words. So, to make this more realistic in a way, the story will be divided into different books. It will all be under The Second Born, so it's like subsections. I'm not sure how long each book is going to be, but this one is going to end with the Wave Arc. That means either this chapter or the next. The title of this book is just The Beginning, which is a safe and simple title. Each chapter will have what book it is under.

Another Important Notice: This is another notice worth being bolded. I seem to have made a mistake quite a long time ago, and while I was re-reading my earlier chapters I realized what I did wrong. Remember back in chapter three where Naruto received the two special scrolls from the old master who helped him make his katana? I've changed the name of one of the scrolls, because I somehow confused the ideas that I had planned. One of them is called the Elemental Taijutsu scroll, and that will stay. But the other one is now renamed Elemental Techniques scroll. Not too big of a change, since we haven't heard about them in a while, but they will be brought up again this chapter.

Let's Begin!

The Second Born

Book One: The Beginning

Chapter 15: Reunion on the Bridge Part 1


Land of Waves, Forest

"One week?!" Sasuke complained, looking at his sensei with disbelief in his eyes.

Kakashi eye smiled at his Uchiha student and nodded his head. "Yep! We won't be able to go on patrol duty as guards for another week. That's how long it should take for me to heal. Not everyone heals as fast a Naruto, you know," he added in a matter-of-fact tone.

Sasuke grumbled and slouched against the tree that was closest to him. "But Sai's team gets to go and patrol! Why can't we just go there with them?"

Kakashi sighed at the pushiness of his student. "Because we are not Team 11. We are Team 7, who is currently not functioning because your sensei is incapacitated!"

Sasuke still mumbled something under his breath but didn't pester Kakashi anymore. Hinata, who was standing close to the two, tried to encourage her crestfallen teammate.

"A-Ano, it's alright Sasuke-kun," she encouraged, trying to think of what Naruto would say, "At least we can train now, together!"

Sasuke snorted at this. "Not even! Naruto's off with clones doing that 'levitate a leaf' training!" Hinata was silenced as she didn't know what to say to that. It was true; Naruto had been training more with his clones recently than with their team.

"So then why don't you guys train with Naruto's clones as well?" Kakashi brought up, causing both Sasuke and Hinata to quickly look at him. "I mean, what better way to practice than with enemies that you can actually use your techniques on?"

Hinata quickly nodded, immediately liking the idea of being surrounded by Naruto...for training purposes, of course. It took Sasuke a moment of careful consideration before he nodded too, agreeing with the plan.


Elsewhere, Hilltop

"Chief," a voice sounded in his head. Naruto stopped what he was doing and closed his eyes, his Rinnegan eyes looking in his mind.

"Your team is headed your way. They are a quarter mile away and should arrive in front of you in five minutes."

Naruto connected with his clone and saw the mental video of Kakashi, Sasuke and Hinata traveling through the woods in his direction. Man, his Rinnegan Clones were awesome! He may never have to be surprised again!

"Thank you…clone," Naruto thought back at the Commander Clone that contacted him. Damn…he needed to start naming these clones. He had read a scroll on the Shadow Clone jutsu that showed him how to make the same clone be summoned each time, similar to a summoning contract. So, in a way, Naruto could personalize a specific clone, and if he desired, summon that one exclusively. The clones weren't permanent; creating a solid and human clone was impossible. But still, that way he could get familiar with his clones and establish levels of orders…like one second-in-command Commander clone, and then different squads…he would definitely come back to this thought later.

"Would you like me to think of ideas for you?" the Rinnegan Clone offered, surprising Naruto. The original blonde smiled at the thought. He guessed that he didn't have to do any thinking after all!

"That would be great! I'm sure you'll know what I want…because we have the same minds…"

"Hai. Your team is three minutes away."

"Perfect. Dismiss my clones and send me the information that we gathered."

"Hai."

Naruto nodded, opening his eyes and looking at the own area that was in front of him. While it is true that he could see with his normal Rinnegan vision as well as what his clone was seeing, it was actually quite difficult, and he hadn't gotten used to the whole sensation yet. But, practice makes perfect.

Seconds later, all of the hundreds of clones in front of him which were doing various training customs dispersed, and Naruto's mind flooded with the experience of each and every clone. He deeply inhaled as the light-headed feeling passed over him, though his mind cleared moments later. He decided to wait for his teammates to come to him, so he just fell back on the grass and waited.

True to his clone's words, after several minutes Kakashi, Sasuke and Hinata all walked into the clearing and headed over to him. Naruto sat up again and smiled at everyone, waving them hello.

"Hey, everyone!" he greeted, wondering why there were all standing over him and staring at him.

"Yo."

"H-Hello, Naruto-kun!"

"Hn."

…silence. Naruto stared back at them, waiting for an explanation for their arrival. After a few moments, Kakashi cleared his throat and leaned forward on his crutches.

"So," he began to explain, eye-smiling down at Naruto. "We need to train together as a team more, so I decided that Sasuke and Hinata will be using your clones as well to work on their techniques and whatever else I decide to teach you guys," Kakashi briefed.

Naruto shrugged under his mask, smiling.

"Sure, why not?" he decided, thinking on how it would benefit his team more. "How many clones should I create?"

Kakashi looked up in his brain, trying to think of what would be best.

"Well, let's see…how many can you create?"

"Enough." That earned a Naruto a chuckle from the silver-haired ninja.

"Alright, alright. How about thirty for Hinata, and thirty for Sasuke?" he guessed, wondering if Naruto in fact could successfully make that amount.

Naruto nodded his head, and stood up, forming his signature seal, pushing chakra through his hands.

Instantly, exactly sixty clones appeared behind him, all standing regularly, waiting for further orders. Kakashi nodded; clearly impressed that Naruto was able to make the perfect amount.

"Split up with the clones and go to your separate area," Kakashi instructed, giving them the go sign. Sasuke nodded first and jumped off into the woods, with thirty of the clones following him. Hinata merely stayed where she was, and thirty clones stepped up in front of her, of course all smiling at her, which was causing her already to redden.

Kakashi eye smiled contentedly and pulled out a familiar orange book. "Perfect! All see you guys in a few with some new training material!" With that, he vanished in a cloud of smoke, leaving an annoyed Naruto behind.

"Man, that's pretty lazy of him!" Naruto complained, putting his hands behind his head and looking upward. After a moment of silence, he looked back in front of him and saw that all of his clones were staring at him, along with Hinata.

"Um, what are we supposed to do?" one of the clones asked, earning the nods of every other clone in agreement.

Naruto shrugged. "Not sure. Why don't you start off as being Jyuuken targets for Hinata so she can get used to closing off the points of a moving target?"

Another clone whined at that. "Seriously?" he complained, not looking happy, "That's gonna hurt like hell!"

Naruto was unmoved. "So? If you can avoid her, then avoid her! I bet you'd rather have Hinata train with you than Sasuke and his fireballs."

There were thirty unanimous nods of agreement before they turned back to Hinata. "So do you want one target first, or…?"

Naruto smiled and walked away, giving himself more space from the scene. He had his own training to work on after all. Walking about thirty meters away from where Hinata was, he plopped down on the grass, and reached inside his blue tunic, pulling out a special scroll titled Elemental Techniques. The scroll itself was organized by the elements themselves. Naruto had looked through the entire scroll several times before, and he found out that it had many different sections specializing on the elements. Each section held many different basic and advanced techniques; there was a page for wind, water, earth, force, fire, and lightning. After these sections was a combination section, where there were really, really cool techniques where different elements where combined for deadly effect.

But of course, the beginning of the scroll had mentioned that before you could move on to the different combination techniques, you had to master the elements. Also, before you could work on the Elemental Taijutsu scroll, Naruto had to master the corresponding element.

In short, Naruto was disappointed to find out that he wouldn't be learning any combination techniques anytime soon. Or water, earth, force, fire and lightning techniques. Before, when he had wanted to try it out and ignore the warning, Naruto went to the fire section in attempts to learn a cool jutsu that would blow things up. Well, he got what he wanted, but not in a good way. After completing the described seals and pushing chakra into his hands, he was rewarded with several sparks that lit up around him before the area directly in front of him exploded. If he wasn't gifted with extraordinary healing, he would be embarrassed to explain to everyone why there were burn marks all over his body.

Naruto decided to listen to the scrolls advice and not learn any advanced jutsu until he mastered the elemental affinity…well, for a certain time. He tried to use Shinra Tensei, which was listed in the scroll, but the result was even worse than before. He was rewarded with absolutely nothing! And when he would try to use big water techniques, the same thing happened, which was nothing.

Naruto shook his head and stared down at the scroll in front of him. He had thought that he had mastered wind, but oh, how naïve he was. Being confident in himself, he skipped to the section for master wind techniques. The first one shown was how to form a pretty basic air blast without any hand-seals. But when Naruto tried it, all he got was a gust of wind strong enough to blow out a birthday candle from his hands.

So, he was back at the beginners section of the scroll, re-reading the basics of his element. He had learned (the hard way) that no element or jutsu is mastered until you can do your techniques without hand-seals. He had to start from very basic 'using your wind chakra to cut a leaf', which, using his Rinnegan, took him only minutes to learn. By now he was on how to produce several low rank wind attacks without hand-seals. No, he couldn't just stick his hands out and produce a tornado. There were specific body movements that had to accompany it, big and small. The element of wind was all about circular movements, so sometimes Naruto would perform a small circle with his arms to create a blast, or create simultaneous blasts by taking a two 180 degree steps forward, making a circle.

The scroll was quite valuable. Even if you had one affinity, you could learn insanely powerful techniques of it. However, if someone else discovered it and wanted to steal it, they would be disappointed to find out that it could only be read with a Rinnegan activated. Naruto discovered this when he offered Sasuke to read the fire section of it. Sasuke accepted, though only to discover that he couldn't read it at all. In fact, neither could Hinata, or Kakashi, or anyone else! Why that sword master Shujinko would have two 'Rinnegan only' scrolls, Naruto couldn't even begin to-

"Chief."

Naruto looked up from the scroll and saw that he was surrounded by his five Rinnegan clones which he had created several hours ago to go and read up on several things. "Report", he said, waiting to hear the information they had learned.

"Each one of us learned a lot, actually," the clone that had first spoke responded, "do it might be easier to just send you the information mentally."

Naruto nodded, and seconds later, his brain was flooded by images and facts, causing him to squint his eyes in concentration to collect all of it. After another several seconds, he stood up and shook his head. "Wow," he responded, trying to comprehend it all.

The clones nodded in agreement of Naruto's response before they dismissed themselves. There was a lot more about the shadow clone technique then Naruto had originally thought. Who would've guessed that-?

"Naruto!"

Naruto's thoughts were interrupted once again when Sasuke yelled out his name from behind him, causing the blonde to turn around to look in question.

"More clones!" he bluntly said with a smirk on his face, causing Naruto to smirk as well. If Sasuke wanted to work off his clones so much, he would give the Uchiha a surprise!

Naruto formed the seal once more, and he summoned another thirty clones for Sasuke, who left off with them shortly after.

_______________

Ten Minutes Later

"What the hell, Naruto-teme!" Sasuke yelled at him, though the blonde was rolling on the ground laughing. Sasuke was currently covered in ash and his hair seemed to be smoking, giving him quite the comical look.

"Why the hell would you make one of the clones explode when I punched it?!" he questioned, preparing to attack Naruto.

The Rinnegan user only smiled in response to Sasuke's anger. "I just thought that you need to be more aware of your fighting," he pointed out. "After all, with your Sharingan, you should've been able to spot out the one clone that was explosive!"

Sasuke hn'd, embarrassed that Naruto had a point. "Teme! Just make me some more!"

Naruto shrugged, and formed his seal once more. This time, he created double the amount of clones, so sixty of them followed Sasuke back into the forest. He also created about five explosive clones for him, so that he would have to take his time in which attacks he used.

Sighing to himself, Naruto decided to go and check on Hinata and see how she was doing with his clones, and if she needed him to make more. He walked over a little bit, and looked over the hill, and was surprised to see Hinata…surrounded by exactly thirty clones, parrying each one that was attacking her, though she wasn't striking back.

"Er, Hinata-chan," Naruto called out to her, causing all of the audience to look up to Naruto. "You're supposed to actually hit the clone!" he said, wondering why none of them had dispersed. The young Hyuuga blushed and nodded quickly, beginning to fight back against the clones, dispersing the occasional one.

Naruto sighed again and walked back over to where he was sitting down before. When his Rinnegan Clones had passed him the information, he had been surprised. Very surprised.

Apparently, he could actually change the complete appearance of each and every clone he created, and 'save' that clone by placing a special seal on its body, so that he could summon it again and deal with the same one. Naruto frowned thoughtfully, and activated his Rinnegan, forming the Kage Bunshin seal. He began to funnel a massive amount of chakra within his body, and he tried pushing as much as he possibly could into his hand-seals. He began pushing so much of his Rinnegan's chakra into the seal that it almost felt like his chakra coils were going to break.

"Shadow Clone Jutsu!" he actually yelled out, enjoying the relieving feeling of the chakra finally escaping his body. A cloud of smoke appeared in front of him, and he was pleased to see a Rinnegan clone appear from the smoke.

Naruto was going to start off making his own, military squad, you could say, of his shadow clones. So he started off by making one Rinnegan clone with as much chakra as he could manage, to be his second-in-command. According to what he had absorbed, the more chakra he put into a clone, the more durable, intelligent, and so on it became. Naruto could probably punch the clone for a minute or two before it would actually disperse. Not only that, but it would adopt as body system much like a regular human, since it was durable. It would breath, eat, and bleed, just like him.

Literally, though, the clone did look just like him…no different from any other clone he made…

"Alright," Naruto started, speaking to his clone. "You are my second-in-command clone, who will also be in charge of all of my forces. Congratulations!" Naruto said, trying to be somewhat goofy.

The clone merely bowed his head in thanks. "Arigatou, Naruto-sama," he spoke in a voice identical to Naruto's, though lacking the humor.

Naruto nodded, already liking the way sama sounded on his name.

"Great! So, I think you need a name," Naruto continued, scratching his head with confusion. He was not that good at making names, and he kinda felt like a parent at the moment. "Um…you're a commander clone, so why don't I just call you...Shirei?!"

The clone nodded in a serious manner. "Hai. My name is Shirei."

Naruto nodded as well, taking note of his clone's serious tone and personality. He liked it a lot.

"Very well. Shirei, I think I'm gonna change your looks too to separate you from normal clones," Naruto continued, "Do you have any preferences?"

Shirei looked thoughtful for a moment, but he eventually made up his mind. "I would prefer my hair to be black," he said, "as well as my Rinnegan. For that matter, each Rinnegan clone you make should be separated with a different color. And, if you're going to play the role of God, why not make me physically stronger and faster? And don't forget to change the color of my tunic to black as well as my under-armor."

Naruto nodded, completely agreeing with his clone. "I'll make your hair somewhat longer than mine, too. Here I go!"

Forming his signature seals again, Naruto pushed chakra into his technique and aimed it toward the clone he had already created. He had learned that just like he could henge himself, he could henge his clone, though it would be permanent on them. Just like before, a cloud of smoke erupted around Shirei, the clone in front of him, and when it cleared, Naruto's eyes widened at his work of art.

Just like he had planned, Shirei had black hair that was slightly longer than his. He was surprised to see that his Rinnegan was black as well as the tunic he was wearing, with his mask. Also, Naruto could notice that Shirei's muscles were slightly more muscular than his own, just like he had thought of when changing him. Oh, the wonders of the Shadow Clone!

Shirei looked at himself, and nodded in appreciation. "Naruto-sama, I advise you to perfect your Shadow Clone technique even further." Naruto raised an eyebrow in confusion at this.

"The cloud of smoke that comes up every time you use this technique as well as the popping sound is exceedingly redundant. A perfected summoning should be silent, with only an unnoticeable shimmer of wind. If you were on a stealth mission and needed to be silent, you would be unable to create clones do to its brashness."

Naruto nodded, once again completely agreeing with the clone. Of course he already knew this, but he decided to postpone that training until later. He guessed that he would spend the week perfecting that as well.

"Also," Shirei continued, "if you are creating further clones I advise you to give them a different variety of weapons. If they were to attack the same enemy, the enemy would have a harder time defending against different weapons as opposed to the katana that you and I have."

Naruto agreed, making a mental note to do that the next time he created a permanent clone. "Now, I need to make sure I can summon you specifically. Let me see if I can remember the seal I had learned…"

Naruto looked back into his mind, using his Rinnegan, and he mentally scanned over the seals that were engraved into his memory. When he found the one that he desired, he pushed it forward in his mind until it was in his eyesight. Carefully, he projected it forward until it was on the chest of the clone in front of him.

"Cast!" Naruto yelled out, forming a hand-seal to use his chakra precisely. The seal in Naruto's mind suddenly glowed in the center of Shirei before it disappeared, leaving nothing.

After several moments, Naruto stared at his clone curiously. "Well, did it work?" he asked, unsure as to how he would know if it did. Shirei was about to shrug when he felt a slight sparking feeling on his shoulder. Trying to inquire what it was, he lifted his black sleeve up and was surprised to find a black tattoo of a spiral on his upper shoulder, right at the top of his arm.

"Whoa," Shirei stated, shocked at the new image he had engraved on his body. Naruto smiled, satisfied that the first part had worked. Now, all he needed to do was test it out and see if it really worked!

"Let's try it out!" Naruto said, clapping his hands together in excitement. "Disperse yourself and let's see if I can summon you!"

Shirei nodded and was about to disperse when a sudden idea came to his mind.

"Naruto-sama, can I make one more request?" he asked, showing a slight glint of mischief in his eyes. Naruto shrugged, waiting for him to continue.

"How about a pair of dark sunglasses, you know, to completely separate me from other clones?"

Naruto snorted at the idea but agreed nonetheless, forming his clone seal once more. In a small puff of smoke which covered Shirei's face, dark sunglasses appeared on his face, causing him to smile before he dispersed.

Naruto shook his head once more, smiling to himself at the antics of his clone. But one thing was true, with the clones black sunglasses, hair and tunic, he did look pretty badass! Naruto formed the seal once more, and imagined in his mind Shirei. Trying to find the right amount of chakra to summon, he opened his Rinnegan eyes and-

Poof!

"Yo, Naruto."

Naruto's eyes widened as he screamed and fell backwards, surprised at the appearance of Kakashi sensei right in front of him. Kakashi merely laughed at the misfortune of his student, closing his favorite book of his and helping Naruto off the ground.

"I have some new material for you guys to study over this little break of ours," he explained, eye-smiling.

__________

"So here's the thing," Kakashi explained, with his three students in front of him. He gave Sasuke a curious look when he noticed that the Uchiha was nearly smoldering, covered in ash, which he was responded with a muffled 'hn'. "Last time I taught you guys on a training mission, it was on two specific jutsu, the Assimilation Technique, and the Camouflage technique, which, might I add, still aren't perfected. So this time, I want to teach you all ninja skills, instead of specific jutsu. I think there's a phrase about that, something like: Give a man a fish, he has food for a night, but teach the man how to fish, and he has food for life."

Kakashi was responded with three blank stares. He scratched the back of his head nervously, clearing his throat.

"Or maybe teach a ninja a jutsu, and he has one attack, but teach a ninja how to learn jutsu on their own, and they have an entire life ahead of them to learn more." The three students nodded thoughtfully, catching on with his thought process.

"Um, going on, I think teaching you all team skills will better your chances, per say in the Chunin Exams which will be coming up shortly after we make it back to Konoha.

"You three have great teamwork, or at least the potential to comply with each other, so it would be beneficial to improve on that. You all saw firsthand that you three were able to take on a clone of Zabuza's when you were functioning properly. But that's not good enough! You three are too strong for that. Together, you should be able to nearly take on Zabuza himself! You're all too strong individually to have to stand out on the sidelines and hope for the best! So, starting today, I'm going to only advise you on what you all should do, but you will learn how to fight as a team.

"I, or actually, my clone, will be your opponent. And my clone will be fighting back as hard as it can, that is, unless you think Zabuza will be going easy on you when we meet him next."

He was glad to see three undisputed nods from his Genin. "Good, I hope you take this training seriously. Our first situation will be stealth battling. I am going to be standing in different spots, and you three must sneak up on me and engage me, ending the battle as quickly as possible. If you don't subdue me in under a minute, then you fail the activity and then you must all do thirty push-ups before starting it again. Tomorrow, we'll move on to upon combat, and so on and so forth. You'll either win, as a team, or lose, as a team."

Kakashi continued to hold a stern face at the shocked look of the students. He couldn't help but imagine his own team of himself, Obito and Rin standing before him, just like when his own sensei first told them about this special training. They were lucky they were just fighting his clone, and not him. Luckier than his old team, at least. Fighting Minato-sensei was not one bit fun unless you enjoyed bruises.

"I'll start by standing here in the clearing. Oh, and you have four minutes each segment to think of a plan, and one minute to actually execute it, so this should be fast paced. Begin!"

Naruto, Sasuke and Hinata disappeared from sight as they jumped away in chakra burst, coming together to think of their plan.


Unknown Location

Pain crossed his legs comfortably as he sat on the throne of the Leader of Akatsuki. His orange Rinnegan eyes seemed to almost glow in the dimly lit room, giving them their own sense of power. He had summoned Silent, the true assassin of the organization, to report upon his mission on this time. He had no doubts that this…special ninja would get the job done, and get it done as his name suggests, silently.

Nagato respected the ninja to a certain degree, and, in that specific degree, he feared him as well. There were two members who Nagato did not know if he was stronger than them or not; one was Obito Uchiha. Pain was shocked when he discovered that Obito had unlocked the Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan somehow or another. With his own advanced Rinnegan, he could tell the power which radiated from Obito's eyes, and the sheer evil which came from it as well. When he had fought against him, Obito had only used his right eye with the mask attached, and Pain had no idea what power the other eye held.

Silent was the other Akatsuki member who caused Pain to worry. Unlike the other members, Pain didn't need to send Silent with a partner to go and assassinate a strong opponent. No matter the strength of the person who he fought, Silent had managed to find and kill the person within a very short period of time. From there, Silent would give the body to Zetsu who turned it in for money. Pain had discovered Silent's power when he had sent Zetsu to spy on him. Aside from himself and Obito, Zetsu was the fastest member of Akatsuki who could travel great distances in a short amount of time and remain undetected while doing it. So when he saw Silent fight, he was impressed and reported everything to Nagato.

Taking a deep breath, Pain closed his eyes as he felt a new chakra force enter the castle, though it was nearly unnoticeable. Surely enough, when he exhaled and opened his eyes, he found Silent kneeling before his throne. Had he relied on his ears, Pain would have no idea that the man had even entered.

"Report."

Silent stood up and looked toward Nagato. Being the only member with a hood over his face instead of a high collar, Nagato had difficulty seeing his eyes.

"Kintaro is dead and nobody will know for days. Zetsu is possession of the body now."

Pain nodded, expecting such an answer. "Very well," he said, preparing to dismiss him. However, before he opened his mouth, a thought entered his mind, and he spoke it to the man before him.

"Where do your loyalties lie?" Pain asked, his Rinnegan eyes boring into the man.

For the first time he could remember, Pain heard Silent chuckle quietly before responding.

"Loyalty? Such a word is meaningless to me."

Pain nodded again, also expecting the answer. Perhaps…perhaps he would have…greater use of this assassin later on.

"Very well, you are dismissed."


Tazuna's Bridge

Gaara leaned coolly against the railing of the bridge as he waited for further orders. He and his team had been watching over Tazuna as the builder and his small work crew continued their progress on the bridge. The runaway Sand ninja had put his elemental skills to good use, and he had been used excessively for creating platforms and bridges, or even heavy lifting, such as the massive metal beam he had let down a moment ago for the grateful workers. His teammate Sai as well had been using his artful skills to create manners of transportation for heavy objects. His other teammate, however, had spent most of her time distracting him, which she had quite a talent-

"Hey! Gaara-kun!" Kairi called out, running over to him and tackling him with a bone crushing hug which caused him to flinch very hard. It didn't matter how long he had been with his best friend, or how many times she hugged him, he still wasn't used to any sort of contact. Other than Kairi, his sand would automatically block everyone else away, after all.

"So…how are you doing?" she asked him in a light manner, leaning right next to him on the railing. Her white hair blew ever so lightly in the wind as she turned her head to look up at him, smiling as usual.

Gaara sighed, not even turning to look at her, which he had found annoyed her to a certain extent. But, he would go out of his way to annoy Kairi just to get back at her for always bugging him.

"Just as good as the last time you saw me, which couldn't have been more than five minutes ago," he responded, earning himself a small giggle from her. He turned his head and noticed that she too was leaning on the rail. "I see you've gotten over your fear of heights," he pointed out, noticing that it was a pretty long drop into the water below.

Kairi smiled at Gaara again, though this time she punched him in the arm, once more causing him to flinch. "Yeah, I have! It doesn't matter though, 'cause you'd save me if I couldn't help myself!" she pointed out in return, smirking at the shocked look Gaara would always get whenever she punched him.

Gaara rolled the pain in his shoulder away, scoffing at his silver-haired friend. "Whatever. Don't you have work to do?" he asked, giving her an annoyed look.

"Don't you two have work to do?" Anko asked loudly, walking by them carrying a cinderblock on her shoulder. "I expected Kairi to slack, but I'm surprised that you aren't pulling your fair share of work, Gaara," Anko said, walking by him with a disappointed look. Gaara sighed deeply, now giving Kairi another annoyed look as she began laughing at his expense.


One Week Later, Training Grounds

Naruto stood next to Shirei, his commander Rinnegan Clone, in front of four other clones. He knew that he could only split his Rinnegan, in a way, into six other 'beings' aside from himself. He didn't really understand why, but he decided to make himself five different squads, with a Rinnegan clone in charge in each squad. So, like he did with Shirei, he decided to customize each Rinnegan clone he had so that he would be able to recognize them not only by names, but looks. Sure enough, he had been able to successfully been able to summon Shirei again, by merely thinking of the clone and the seal he placed on him.

The next clone he had created was named Endo. He was around the same height as Naruto, though instead of having yellow hair with a yellow Rinnegan, he had scarlet hair with a red outfit and a matching scarlet Rinnegan. When he had first created the clone, he had been expecting a focused and obedient clone much like Shirei, but he was surprised to find out that this clone was more…fierce and ferocious. Naruto had intended to make a frontal attack force, a unit with strong clones meant for physical attacking. Maybe it was that he was originally thinking of a war-like clone when he created Endo, because that is exactly what he produced. Still, the clone technically was a clone of himself, so he still wasn't all business all the time.

The second lesser commander he created was strangely…happy and much less mission-focused than his other two, so in a way, he most represented the actual Naruto, himself. However, he was also the calmest of all of them, and inhabited a 'monk' like personality. He was also the same height of Naruto, but his main 'color theme', as Naruto had come to begin think of it, was white. That meant white hair, Rinnegan, clothes, mask, and so on. And yes, all of his clones wore masks (after all, they had to keep up the reputation). This clone's name was Jiyuu, and he was in charge of the elemental jutsu portion of Naruto's soon-to-be future clone squad.

The third clone Naruto put extra effort into was named Ryozo. Ryozo had specially been made to be in charge of the special assassination and tactical squad (something for which Naruto would have to officially name later; he felt like stealing the name from Anbu wouldn't be original), and he was a master of stealth (or at least he would train to be over time, just like the rest of his clones would). Ryozo was somewhat arrogant and smooth, not unlike from Sasuke, Naruto had to admit. Also, Ryozo had been upset that his color theme couldn't be black, so he settled with dark purple. The clones he would be in charge of would be all super charged in a way so that they could manage to do both ninjutsu as well as taijutsu.

The clone jutsu was so magnificent and specific in its many ways. Naruto couldn't just sup up one clone any more than he did with his original commander, Shirei. But what he could do, instead of allowing his clones to be mediocre in every subject of fighting, he could make a 'special' clone, which excelled in one particular subject. Of course, all of his Rinnegan clones would be much stronger than any other normal clone he could make, but still, each clone the Rinnegan clone would be in charge of would specialize in a ninja art. For example, he could design a clones chakra to be exceptional in ninjutsu, though they would disperse if they would be hit once. On the other hand, he could make very durable clones that couldn't perform ninjutsu.

Finally, Naruto's eyes came to rest on his last clone, and he couldn't help but slightly flinch. After making his first four clones, Jiyuu, the white haired and 'peaceful' clone, had come up with the idea of making a girl clone. A girl!!! Naruto would've laughed the idea off if Shirei hadn't thought it was a good idea, for 'clone diversity' as he had put it. Funny enough, the two other Rinnegan clones, Endo and Ryozo, had agreed as well. So, Naruto now had clone diversity. Before him was what he would call a girl version of himself, with brown hair, a big smile, six identical-to-Naruto whisker marks, and a brown outfit with white pants and sandals. All of his other clones as well had white pants similar to Naruto's, with the exception of Shirei, who had decided to go all black. This girl clone of his had decided to go with the name of Natsumi, a traditional Japanese name meaning summer beauty.

Naruto had always thought that when he created a clone, he would create a mind exactly similar to his own who thought the same thoughts as he did. However, he found out that the clones had completely different thoughts than he did. He had originally thought that creating a girl version of him would be just creepy because she would think like him, a boy! But is seemed like this girl Rinnegan clone was…actually a girl!…And now that he thought about it, his other clones weren't really like him, with the slight exception of Jiyuu, who was also looking on the bright side. All of the clones he made had their own minds, the type that he thought of when he created them. Of course, they would keep Naruto's basic thoughts, such as a love for ramen, because even when Naruto was thinking of a girl clone, he didn't change his thought of ramen.

…If he had known about this earlier, that he could create a clone with a generally different mind than his own, he would've made a genius clone that would give him ever Academy answer he needed…and do his homework for him…damn, he really should've thought of this earlier.

"So, how should I start this?" Naruto asked mostly to himself, rubbing his hands together and looking at his Rinnegan clones who were all staring back at him with different expressions: serious, mischievous, arrogant, and happy. He flinched again when his eyes landed on his girl clone of himself, which caused her to huff her long brown hair out of her face.

"Um, Natsumi," he said, scratching the back of his head somewhat nervously. Oh, boy, what was his problem? Sometimes he just couldn't function that properly around girls. He absentmindedly wondered if Natsumi had all of her…you know, girl parts…God, this was weird…

"Hai, Naruto-sama!" she responded in a girly voice…suitable for a girl, though still smiling.

Naruto eye smiled at her as he tried to focus normally in front of this female. Perhaps he would loosen up over time. "Well, um… you kinda have to wear a mask," he mentioned, tugging on his own absentmindedly. "It's like a theme, kinda, sorta."

She huffed again, and put her hands on her hips, frowning at Naruto.

"But I'm a girl!" she responded, as if that explained everything, pouting at Naruto. Naruto's face blanked and he looked at his other clones, almost for support, even though he was the leader of the group. Endo, the serious war-like clone, was attempting to keep a straight face, though Naruto noticed that his lips were twitching upwards curiously. Jiyuu, the monk clone, was now openly laughing, throwing his head back while Natsumi sent him a nasty look. Ryozo, the Sasuke-clone (in a way) was smirking at Natsumi, chuckling while shaking his head.

Finally, Shirei broke the awkward silence by crossing his arms firmly and glaring down at Natsumi through his impenetrable black glasses. "Natsumi, you will obey the will of the Chief, no matter what it is! And you will do it without hesitation!" he coolly hissed out, making Naruto wonder whether he was actually mad or not.

Natsumi 'hn'd and crossed her own arms, leaning back and pulling up her brown mask over her face. "Who put you in charge, grumpy?" she answered back, causing Shirei's eyebrows to scrunch together in aggravation.

"The Creator did, and don't forget that!" he said in such a low voice it made Naruto somewhat flinch. It made him feel really special though, the utter loyalty Shirei seemed to give him. It kinda felt like he had his own body guard. Ha! Soon enough, he would have his own army!

"But brown is such an ugly color!" she continued to complain, looking back at Naruto after sending Shirei a death glare. "Can't I at least where something…more colorful?" she inquired, hoping to get what she wanted.

Naruto merely shrugged, not really understanding why it mattered what color she got. Maybe being a girl really did mean they had such different minds!

"Sure! What color would you like?" he asked, ignoring the aggravated look Shirei had on his face.

Natsumi smiled at him and responded, "I want to change my outfit to green!" she asked, holding her hands in prayer. Naruto shrugged, and after holding together his custom seal, Natsumi's clothes shimmered for a moment before they instantly turned green, earning a nod of approval from Shirei. Over the week, Naruto had been practicing in his free time how to be able to silently summon the shadow clones without the need of the large and loud smoke cloud. Now, to a certain extent, he can summon a fair amount of clones silently, with only a shimmer of wind to reveal their presence. He was quite proud of this achievement, especially being able to do so with all of the grueling training Kakashi had been putting them through.

"Thank you, Naruto-sama!" Natsumi said in appreciation, not forgetting to stick her tongue out at Shirei before she pulled her mask over her face. Her hair was still brown, but now she had a pretty green outfit!

"Alright, moving right along," Naruto continued, his attention now being focused at the entire group. "I'm going to be assigning you all responsibilities, most of which you already know.

"Endo," he started, turning to his red-haired clone. "You will be in charge of the frontal attacking force. The clones I will make for you will be durable and specially made to be good in combat with above average taijutsu and kenjutsu skills. They will also be able to withstand a few hits before they disperse. But, on the downside, they won't be able to perform ninjutsu. Now, as you know, you have enough chakra within yourself to be able to summon and create these clones, so I'll give you a special seal to do that after I make them."

Endo nodded, waiting for Naruto to continue. Rolling his neck around, Naruto formed his favorite hand-seal and pushed a large amount of his chakra into the seal. Because his Rinnegan was activated, a pale glow of gold surrounded his body as the special chakra was pushed into the seal.

Instantly, around two hundred regular clones of Naruto shimmered into existence in the field in front of him, all looking toward their group of six. Naruto let out a deep breath in relief of the jutsu, and turned his attention back to Endo.

"You will be in charge of the largest amount of clones. I added several explosive clones in the ranks, around twenty, just in case, so make sure you know which ones are which."

Focusing his Rinnegan, Naruto concentrated and placed special seals on each clone, which took about thirty seconds for his eyes to come in contact with each one. Naruto's eyes targeted each one, and when he casted the jutsu, a spiral became engraved into each of the clones shoulders. Then, turning to Endo, he gave his commander a special seal as well to be able to summon his own ranks.

"Right!" he said, clapping his own hands together. "Endo, dismiss your clones. Actually, we'll start calling these guys 'fighters' from now on. If you want, you can personalize each clone, even though there are a lot of them."

Endo nodded, waving his arm which caused each clone to silently disperse. Naruto then turned to his next clone.

"Jiyuu," he said to the white haired clone, "you will be in charge of the ninjutsu clones. All I kinda know now is wind techniques, but I'm hoping that will change over time."

Naruto formed his seal once more, and like before, he created multiple clones. These clones, however, were trickier to make. Because he needed to give them more chakra, for their ninjutsu, he ended up making only around 70. This number was significantly lower than his previous amount, but, after all, he wanted to make sure the clones didn't disperse after using just one jutsu. On the bad side, these clones were much more delicate than the fighter clones, so they would most likely disperse with a single hit.

"We'll call these guys 'casters'," Naruto said, after placing seals on them and Jiyuu. "You can also personalize anyone you want," Naruto finished, motioning for Jiyuu to dismiss them.

When these clones were gone, Naruto turned to Natsumi and made his hand-seal. An instant later, around 30 clones came into appearance around the group.

"These clones will be used to protect both me, and whoever I need protected. We'll call them…'protectors'! They'll be like my personal guard! When I need them, I want you to make sure they surround me, so I always know what is going on around me, alright?" These clones had a considerable larger amount of chakra, so that they could combine the use of both ninjutsu and taijutsu. But, because of this, Naruto wasn't able to make a lot of them.

Natsumi nodded, and after the sealing process, she happily dismissed her clones. Finally, Naruto turned toward Ryozo, the purple-haired clone of his.

"You will be in charge of the spying assassination group, like the Anbu," Naruto told him, causing Ryozo to smirk. Naruto formed his seal and this time, after difficult exertion, 15 clones appeared around them. These clones would be best for stealth, similar to the previous clones Naruto created, though Naruto took more precaution when making them.

"If I want you to spy on the enemy or give me information on anyone, you guys will do it unnoticed," Naruto instructed, going forward with the sealing process so Ryozo could summon his own clones. When he was done, and the clones were dismissed, he clapped his hands happily, happy that this part was over and quite exhausted, mentally more than physically.

"You all know that Shirei here is my second-in-command, and what he says, goes," Naruto continued, earning him four nods of approval. "He can also summon whatever clones he wants to, as well as you guys. Now, it's time to meet up with my team and train with Kakashi, so let's give them hell!"

"Yes sir!"


Later, Forest

Kakashi's clone sighed in a bored manner as he stood leaning back against a tree, in the middle of the forest. He had instructed his team to stay in the main training grounds while he went to choose a place to hide. They were instructed to find him, create a plan to disperse him, and then fight him, all in five minutes. Four minutes to find him and think of a plan, and one minute to engage and disperse him.

And, not only did they have to disperse him, but they had to disperse the other clone who was hiding close to him. Because Zabuza had an ally, the original (Kakashi) wanted them to be able to fight more than one strong opponent.

The clone shrugged nonchalantly. Having a partner made it better for him, as well. In the beginning of the week, Team 7 had been able to find him and disperse in the time limit around half of the times. The other half, they were either unable to disperse him, or unable to do it within the time limit, especially when he chose to flee. But, as the week went on, they began failing less and succeeding more, to the point where they would disperse him nine out of ten times.

The other clone had henge'd into a clone of Zabuza, along with his large sword. This way, they really would be getting better experience in how to-

Kakashi's clone's eye widened and he jumped away from the tree, moments before a katana impaled itself through the back of the tree and out of where he had just been leaning. He cursed to himself, realizing his mistake. After all, he should've suspected that it wouldn't take as long for them to actually find him, due to Hinata's Byakugan, and-

The Clone cursed again as he jumped into the air to avoid the blast of fire that had just been propelled his way. Sailing into the air, the clone's eye darted around, searching for any signs of his attackers, until it landed on Sasuke, who was looking up at him with his crimson Sharingan eyes after casting the fire attack. Quickly, the clone pulled down his own mask, revealing his Sharingan. After all, though it would consume his chakra rapidly, the group only had around 55 seconds left…

Naruto smirked under the cover of the trees, mentally reaching out to his previously created clones.

"Jiyuu, now!" he called out to his elemental commander clone, initiating the next step in their plan.

An instant later, multiple torrents of air flew up out of the forest and into the airborne clone, which had no chance of avoiding such a wide-spread attack from all angles aside from protecting his body with chakra covered arms. The result was not strong enough to disperse the clone, though it did significantly push the clone higher into the air, giving it less of a chance to move or fight back.

"Chief!" a voice sounded in his head, with Naruto somehow recognizing it as Shirei's. Perhaps he had changed their voices as well…"There's another clone nearby in the forest, rapidly approaching!"

Naruto's golden Rinnegan eyes widened at the change of events, realizing he would have to change his plans.

"Alright, send out a unit of Fighters to distract him until we finish off the first clone," Naruto instructed, receiving a sharp 'Hai!' in response. Hopefully, that wouldn't be long. After all, if everything went as planned, Kakashi's clones should be dispersed any second now…

Up in the air, Kakashi's clone regained his composure from the powerful impact. "Since when did Naruto learn such a large wind technique?" he thought to himself, waiting for his momentum to reverse and gravity to bring him down. However, he never had the chance as his Sharingan eye widened, sensing movement behind him.

Kakashi's clone's head snapped around, just in time to see Hinata fall out of the clouds above him, her palm thrust forward glowing with dangerous looking chakra. Though his eye could see it, he didn't have enough time to bring his hands up to block, resulting in Hinata, slamming right through him, making him instantly disperse.

__________

Kakashi nodded as he received the memories of the first clone. He was surprised that they had managed to dispatch his clone in such a time, which was a record for them. That only meant that his powerful clone didn't have the chance to actually fight back, otherwise it would take a much longer time for Naruto, Sasuke and Hinata to beat him. He had no doubt that his students really where improving."

__________

Sasuke and Naruto charged forward to where Naruto motioned, realizing that there was another clone, which was currently being bombarded by multiple shadow clones of Naruto. The clone itself was apparently henge'd to look like Zabuza, and it was swinging it's sword around, taking down multiple clones with each swipe.

"Thirty seconds left!" Sasuke called out to Naruto, who nodded in return. Quite frankly, Naruto was distracted, noticing how each clone of his actually looked…different. His commanders must have taken his idea of making each clone an individual seriously, and Naruto noticed that the clothes and style of each clone were all different! Suddenly, an idea came to the blonde ninja, and he motioned for Sasuke to halt for a moment, which the Uchiha did.

"Endo", Naruto thought out to his Rinnegan clone who was in charge of the Fighters. "Send in several explosive clones and detonate them around Kakashi!"

"Hai."

Sasuke was about to ask Naruto what he was thinking when the area in front of them exploded violently, causing Sasuke to flinch in surprise. The large blast caused a pulse of wind to travel through the forest, though Naruto still frowned when the smoke began to clear from the area.

"He's still alive. Twenty seconds."

When Hinata arrived at the scene, both Naruto and Sasuke were looking up, now noticing the figure of Zabuza who was falling down quickly down on them.

"Spread out!" Naruto shouted to his friends, jumping to backwards while Sasuke and Hinata jumped to the sides. The moment the clone landed, Naruto drew out both of his katana and waited for Sasuke of Hinata to initiate.

"Water Release: Water Torrent Jutsu!" Hinata called out first, bringing her hand-seal to her mouth and releasing a power stream of water straight towards the clone. Kakashi's clone of Zabuza managed to block Hinata's attack by spitting out his own stream of water to overpower hers, though it left him open.

Sasuke utilized this opening by throwing several kunai quickly at the clone, though once again the plan was thwarted by the clone swinging his zanbato to deflect the shuriken.

By now, this was more than enough time for Naruto to concentrate his chakra to form another of his favorite techniques, though this one wasn't the shadow clone. The next instant, Naruto used a shunshin to quickly appear in front of Zabuza, and under his range of attack, since he had just swung his arm. Quickly, Naruto thrust both of his katana forward into the clone, who after a moment of shock, dispersed into a puddle of water, falling harmlessly at Naruto's feet.

The three teammates nodded at each other, all of them panting heavily, though they were happy that they had managed to beat Kakashi's practice fight.


That Evening

Haku smiled warily as she was once again welcomed into the Tazuna household, courtesy of Team 11 who had met her in the forest. Believe it or not, she was not instructed to spy on them by Zabuza; she was actually there…just because she felt like it. The warm feeling that enveloped her whenever she was surrounded by such a friendly environment was so welcoming, that…

It was a shame that she would have to kill them tomorrow.

Zabuza was fully recovered, and he had made plans to attack the bridge next morning. Haku had to agree that his plan was somewhat shaky, but Kakashi and Tazuna would have to die tomorrow. But, if Haku truly played her part right…she might be able to get away with leaving everyone else alive!

Because Kakashi had outclassed Zabuza that last fight, her sensei had formed a grunge with the silver-haired ninja, and whenever that happened, seldom as it did, the person would be dead within the week. But, Zabuza, bloodthirsty as he could be, wasn't a supporter of senseless murder, and he would tolerate with Haku merely subduing her foes. And that was all she could really hope for.

"You okay there, Haku-san?" Sai asked her, snapping her out of her trance. She humbly nodded with a bow, mentally kicking herself for her strange before. Zabuza wasn't the only one to have recovered. Kakashi Hatake was alive and well, and if for some reason he found out about her true identity…

Her eyes darted around the room quickly. Anko, Kakashi and Tazuna were happily chatting about something or the other, Tazuna's daughter Tsunami was busily cooking dinner, Gaara and Kairi were leaning against a nearby wall, and Naruto, Sasuke and Hinata were-

Slam!

"First!" Naruto shouted, tumbling into the room with an improvised somersault. Sasuke tumbled in on top of Naruto, coming in an instant after Naruto.

"There's no way!" the Uchiha complained, pushing off the ground and standing over Naruto. "Clearly, I entered first!"

As the two argued on, Haku noticed the third member of their team quietly walk in, silently smiling at the antics of her two friends, which caused Haku to frown. She really wondered what it would feel like to have two best friends, or even just one friend. They always seemed to be having fun around each other, smiling and laughing together as if they didn't know that they could die any day!

"Oh, hey there, Haku!" Naruto greeted, after Sasuke deferring from the argument, calling it stupid and pointless.

"Ohayo, Naruto-san," she greeted back, politely bowing to him, which in return he gave her a confused face.

"So, what's for dinner?" Sasuke smoothly asked, gliding to his spot at the table, sitting next to Kakashi. "Smells like fish."

Tsunami scoffed at the ninja's comment but nodded nonetheless. "Yes, we are having fish. Hinata dear, would you mind helping me season the fish?" she asked, earning an eager nod from the Hyuuga who happily jumped up to assist Tsunami in her favorite hobby.

Haku's eyes darted in surprise to the door when it began to open once more. Surprisingly enough, a teenager with black hair and sunglasses (despite it not being bright outside) walked in the room, clothed entirely in black, and masked up to his eyes. With the black tunic outfit and katana strapped across his back, this guy figuratively screamed out 'ninja assassin', and Haku would have jumped to defend herself if she didn't first notice the lack of reaction from everyone else.

Strangely, some people in the room did have a reaction to the intruder.

"Um, guys?" Kairi asked, pointing to the figure that had just entered. She looked at the uncaring expression on Gaara's face. Sai too was looking strangely at the new person.

"Who's that?" he asked for her, motioning at the person.

Naruto smiled and slung his arm around Shirei's shoulders, earning no emotional reaction from the clone. After all, with his dark shades, you couldn't see much of him anyway.

"Oh, him? This is Shirei, my strongest Rinnegan Clone! He's the second-in-command of my clone ops!"

Well, that certainly raised a bunch of questions. Haku made sure to pay attention as each person in the room (who didn't already know about this) asked questions about what Naruto was talking about. This information was vital, and it would be especially helpful to them during the oncoming battle!

"Hn! He's not that cool," Sasuke shrugged it off, unwilling to admit that he actually did think it was cool. Insanely cool. Well, if he didn't have enough chakra yet to create as many clones as Naruto could and remain standing, he had to do what he could do best, which was piss Naruto off.

Well, what Sasuke intended worked, and Naruto began furiously explaining to the 'uncaring' Sasuke how cool his clones all were, with Hinata silently backing him up while she was cooking. Everything was back to normal in the room, and Haku was able to relax, before her attention was once again diverted to a new person entering the large room. It was certainly getting crowded in here!

"It doesn't matter!" a childish voice sounded out from the stairways leading upstairs, gaining the immediate attention of everyone. "Nothing does! You're all gonna die anyway! Gato is too strong! He'll kill all of you…just like…just like he killed…"

The mood in the room completely reverted as a palpable cloud of gloom floated in along with young Inari. Silence was the only response that the fiery eyed boy was greeted with, for a dramatically long time where Haku could swear that if the stove wasn't sizzling, she could hear a senbon drop. She unconsciously held tightly on to her supply so to avoid that from happening.

Finally, it was Tsunami who was the one to break the deathly silence, trying miserably to laugh off the situation with a half-effort chuckle. "Come on, Inari, you don't really mean that! These ninja here are strong and they'll be able to protect your grandpa until he finishes the-"

"That doesn't matter!" Inari shouted back, sick to his guts with all of the happy attitude that was circulating through the house. "Gato will win, bridge or no bridge! Gato always wins!"

Naruto's mind was rapidly spinning as he attempted to quickly find a way to rid of the negativity that so easily destroyed the evening mood. "Ha! That's what you say, kid," he scoffed, feigning his happy tone. "Leave the job to us ninja, and-" His words cut off as he saw the way Inari was grinding his teeth together and clenching the bottom of his shirt. Hinata, whose eyes had been darting back and forth between Naruto and Inari, finally chose to step in, trying to follow Naruto's example, like she always tried.

"Ano, Inari-san," she tried comforting, "it's alright, really! We're all strong ninja, and we'll be able to-"

"Shut up! Shut the hell up!" Inari screamed, unleashing his pent up anger of the past week on poor Hinata. "Don't talk to me like I'm some sort of a baby! I've been through more than you can imagine! I know what's going on here more than any of you happy-go-lucky Konoha ninja! You may be able to return to your peaceful village, but we don't get to! We have to stay here in this hell, with Gato still out there! You don't understand what it's like to suffer! You don't know what it's like to have someone loved suddenly stripped away from you!" he shouted at Hinata, whose eyes were wide with shock.

"None of you understand that-!"

Inari was unable to finish his ranting when he suddenly found a hand restricting his throat, and gold Rinnegan eyes boring into his very soul.

He was then somehow lifted into the air with what felt like unbelievable strength, and it was all he could do to hold on to Naruto's arm in attempts to get gasps of breath in. He was hearing shouting around the room, but all of that rapidly began to fade to silence until all he could see was the two gigantic spiral eyes in front of him, and the voice of a very pissed off Naruto.

"Bore me all you want with your sob stories," Naruto ordered, time stopping around them. Inari could swear Naruto was glowing with a gold aura. "But the second you start shouting at one of my friends…"

Naruto didn't finish the sentence, but Inari could have easily completed it for him. Just as quickly as Naruto had appeared, the golden orbs disappeared and sound began to return to the world as Inari was dropped to the ground, gasping for breath.

He looked up, seeing Naruto being held back by the silver haired man from before, who was looking just as angry as Naruto was. He looked to the side and he saw the other sensei woman holding back the other male teammate of Naruto. After some more shouting and yelling, Naruto finally snapped out of Kakashi's grip and silently left the house, with the black haired ninja wearing sunglasses following him.

"I'm very sorry for my student's behavior," he heard the silver-haired one say, bowing politely to both his mother and his grandpa. "As a ninja, he should know who to control his emotions better."

Tazuna walked up to Kakashi and friendly patted him on the back. "Ah, it's alright, Kakashi-san. With the bridge so close to being completed, everyone is a little…pent up. Naruto's risked his life more than once for me, so I can easily forgive him for getting angry. Why don't we all just enjoy dinner together and cool off?" he questioned, clapping his hands together, embarrassed at the way his grandson had behaved.

Inari simply shook his head and ran upstairs, before slamming a door behind him very audibly.

__________

"Don't you think you overacted?" Shirei questioned, standing next to Naruto who was currently slumped on a tree branch in the middle of the nearby forest. "Judging by the way your sensei restrained you, attacking your client's son doesn't seem like something I would suggest."

Naruto shrugged, not wanting to think about it logically. "I don't care about that. All I know is that that kid was yelling at Hinata, who didn't do anything but try to help the situation. No one yells at my teammates like that, especially when I'm right in front of them!"

Now Shirei shrugged, confused at Naruto's logic but accepting it nonetheless. "Fine. Let's just hope something like that won't get you fired. How would Sasuke and Hinata feel if you all failed an important mission because of your uncontrolled outburst?"

Naruto frowned, obviously not thinking about that. All he saw was Inari yelling and Hinata's face and he had sort of lost it. He didn't even realize that he had his Rinnegan activated, and he had no idea how he could subconsciously activate it anyways. What was it with bloodline limits and anger anyways?

"I hope that doesn't happen…"

"You're damn right, dobe!"

Naruto's and Shirei's heads snapped around at Sasuke who had somehow managed to get on the thick branch above him. "Hurry up and come back so you can eat dinner. Hinata's worried sick about you," Sasuke mocked coolly, now using chakra to hand upside down on the branch.

Naruto looked up nervously at his teammate, scratching the back of his head. "Um, is it okay? Is Tazuna mad at me?"

Sasuke scoffed, flipping down to the ground and walking back to the house. "Nope. He understands, or at least that's what he said. Kakashi's pretty mad though."

With that, Sasuke made his way back to the house, not waiting for Naruto to follow. The blonde sighed somewhat in relief and slumped back against the tree for a moment.

"Well, I think you should dismiss yourself now, Shirei," Naruto instructed his commander clone, who turned to look at him. "…I actually have a question," Naruto asked him, quickly before the clone was dismissed. "Where do you…you know…go, when you dismiss?"

Shirei nodded, guessing that it was a good question to ask.

"That seal you gave each of your clones, including myself, so that you could specifically summon us, really was special," he explained. "You created our own world, actually, within your subconscious. We have become more than simple clone, us with the Rinnegan, we have become summons."

Naruto's eyebrows shot up on his head in sudden curiosity. "You said…you were in my subconscious?! My…inner place?!"

Shirei nodded, crossing his arms across his chest in a matter-of-fact way.

"Yes, and it isn't as…spacious…as we would like it to be, due to a certain…occupant."

Naruto's eyes widened now in realization, deeply inhaling his breath. "You guys stay in the same place as the Kyuubi?!" he nearly shouted, which would have deeply shocked anyone should they have overheard.

This statement actually caused the generally calm Shirei to chuckle.

"No, not exactly," he continued explaining. "While it is true that the Kyuubi is also in your subconscious, he is inside his own prison, due to your father's special seal. We merely roam outside of that area, which is surprisingly large, though extremely simple."

Naruto nodded, sighing in relief. If each time his clones were dismissed they had to go to the Kyuubi's cage…he would be greatly dismayed. At least they were outside of the cage.

Now that he thought about it, he actually had been inside his own subconscious before, the night the Cloud ninja had attacked Hinata many years ago, after his own true powers had awakened. And…it wasn't exactly…homely. That last he remembered it, it scenery was like a giant dripping sewer/prison. Guilt began to seep into him again as he thought of how his clones had to stay in that environment.

"Um, I've actually been there before, now that I remember it," Naruto explained to Shirei, who nodded in response. "Do you think…that there is a way that I can go back there, sometimes, you know, just if I wanted too?" he asked, not really knowing himself.

Shirei pondered the thought for a moment, before he gave another quick nod.

"Since you've been there before, I am sure it is possible for you to return. I will inquire with the other clones, and possibly the Kyuubi himself, and see whether or not we can figure out a way for you to return."

Naruto smiled under his mask, glad that a way for him to return there could be possible. He was thinking that he might even be able to find a way to…make his own subconscious more…livable for his clones, if that was even possible. He really hoped it was.

With that, Shirei waved a goodbye and vanished in a shimmer of wind, leaving Naruto to return to the household again.


Tazuna's House

Naruto returned to the kitchen, hoping that everyone had gone off so he could eat alone. However, he found out that Hinata, Sai and that village girl remained in the kitchen, apparently laughing at something or the other. When Naruto entered, Hinata's eyes widened and she snapped around to the stove behind her, pulling off something from it in a quick manner.

She rushed over to the table, and laid down a plate of food at the seat where Naruto had chosen to eat for the past week. "Ano," she started, now nervously pressing her fingers together, though she was able to maintain eye contact with him. Why did she do that again? "I've been heating up your meal, so i-it should still be warm…I hope." She began to look doubtfully at the plate, probably thinking that she should've heated it up more.

Naruto smiled at her under his mask, and politely bowed to his teammate. "Thanks, Hinata-chan!" he responded, before jumping into the meal and hogging it down with the occasional complements to the blushing chef.

Haku tilted her head curiously at the two, observing what was going on. Why was the girl blushing like that? Sai, who had noticed Haku's face, smiled to himself and leaned over to her.

"She really likes him," he quietly whispered, so that no one else would hear. Not that anyone else could, with Naruto's loud antics. "She does whatever she can to make him proud of her. In a way it's what she lives for; others being proud of her, Naruto especially."

Haku nodded, a smile growing across her face. Finally, she could somewhat understand why Naruto had always been a 'touchy' subject around Hinata. She still didn't understand why that had anything to do with the girl's cheeks heating up, but some of the confusion was cleared.

"Wow, that meal was great!" Naruto explained, finishing the meal in record time, as if he hadn't eaten in days. Eventually, his face sobered up and he looked up to Sai, Haku and Hinata, with slight worry in his eyes.

"Um, is everything with Inari…alright? Was Tazuna pissed?" he asked, trying to get a full scope with what's going on. He was relieved though when no one looked angrily back at him.

"Yeah, everything's okay, for the most part," Sai responded. "But why did you attack Inari in the first place? It looked like you were going to kill him from where I was looking! One second you were sitting down, and the next, you were lifting him into the air and glowing with gold! You didn't even say anything to him; you kind of just glared at him until Kakashi pulled you off!"

Naruto chuckled nervously and scratched the back of his head. What did he mean he didn't' say anything? He remembered telling Inari…eh, whatever.

"Well…err…I'm not really sure why I didn't just scold him properly or something," he tried explaining, attempting to word his thoughts correctly. "I just saw him screaming at Hinata, you know, and something went off inside me! No one screams at Hinata-chan like that without a reason! She didn't do anything to deserve it! She never does!"

Sai nodded, along with Haku, beginning to understand now why he would do something like that. He was just mad that his friend was getting yelled at and he wasn't thinking. Hinata however, wasn't able to take such a complement with everything heating up and her eyes going into tunnel vision, focusing on Naruto.

He…he really d-did that f-for me?!

"Anyways," Naruto said, trying to change the subject, "Haku, where exactly are you from?" he asked, trying to get to know this newcomer more. He didn't catch how she jumped a little at the question, but she instantly regained her composure and was able to respond in a clear voice.

"Um, I'm originally from Kiri," she responded, hoping the conversation would end on that. Naruto shrugged and nodded, happy enough with that answer, but Sai decided to continue the interrogation.

"Yeah, I remember seeing you there," he added, nodding thoughtfully to himself, thinking back. "So then why did you come over here to the Land of Waves?" he asked, curiously looking at her. Now, it was time for Haku to start making up some random facts, and quickly.

"Well, you see," she started, suspiciously nervously, not that anyone caught it, "My…um, sensei, decided that we should come over here…I'm not that sure why, though."

Hinata now decided to join the conversation, now fully recovered from Naruto's compliments. "A-Ano, you have a sensei?" she asked, somewhat curiously. "How come we've never seen him? You're over here all the time, so I feel like we should have met him by now…"

Haku smiled lightly, tilting her head.

"He's not very social."

"Still, I kinda want to meet this guy," Sai said. "After all, he must be a good instructor!" he insisted, smiling his usual fake or real smile. (Nobody could tell the difference)

"No!" Haku said rather loudly, mentally cursing herself for doing that. "Um, I mean, he's really not that social!"

"What's his name?" Naruto now asked.

"Um…he didn't tell me…"

"That's pretty strange. What rank is he?" Sai continued.

"A-Anbu."

"Where do you live?"

"With sensei."

"What? You don't have a family?"

Now, Haku's head fell down to the ground, showing sadness. "They died…long ago, when I was young…"

Naruto and Sai's eyes widened and they stopped the interrogation. "Oh…sorry about that," Naruto said, scratching the back of his head. "If it makes you feel any better, we all understand your pain. Each of us has lost both or one of our parents, so we've been through that experience."

Haku shrugged it off, deciding to talk about herself. After all, it's not like she had ever told anybody her story before, aside from Zabuza.

"It's okay. They weren't even my real parents. They adopted me when I was really young."

"So…do you have any siblings?" Hinata asked now, being careful with his questions. Surprisingly, this caused Haku to shrug again, apparently deep in thought.

"I think I do, if that means anything. I had a brother, long ago, if I remember correctly. My adoptive parents told me that a young man who claimed to be my brother dropped me off at their doorstep when I was an infant. They didn't tell me his name, or anything, so I still don't understand what my last name is. My brother still could be out there, and I could walk by him on the streets and not recognize him."

Naruto's eyes widened, now really connecting with Haku. "You too? My brother left me a long time ago, and I still have no idea why. Sasuke's brother left with him, along with a girl close enough to Hinata to be her sister. We're all planning to look for them after we become Chunin and train really hard!"

Now it was Haku's turn to be in shock. They all had parents who had died too, and siblings who had deserted them?! They really were alike!

"I used to have a brother as well," Sai surprisingly said, causing everyone to focus on him. Naruto's reaction was immediate and he jumped up from the table.

"What?!" he shouted, looking at Sai in great surprise. "You do?! How come you've never told us about that?!"

Sai shrugged, not really remembering why he didn't. "Cause I never really knew him, so he wasn't a big deal to me. Apparently, I'm not even from Konoha!" he stated, causing Naruto's and Hinata's mouths to widen.

"When I was an infant, like Haku, I was dropped off at this village by some mysterious young man. I have no idea who he is, and neither did the Hokage, but he wasn't from Konoha. When the Hokage was deciding what to do with me, Danzo offered to take me in as part of his 'family', which I did. Since then, I grew up a part of Root."

Naruto fell back in his chair, really surprised with all the new information that they were learning.

"Sheesh! I can't believe that all of our siblings deserted us!" he stated leaning his head back and looking upwards.

"But I think we'll all find them one day! Who knows, there could be a place where all runaway siblings go off too when they leave their village behind!"


Later that Night

Inari sat outside of his room on the built in patio, staring up at the moon. Occasionally, a sparkling teardrop would fall and splatter on the photo of his father that was being held in his shaking hands. Kaiza wasn't his genetic father, but he had taken up the role swiftly and with ease for the past few years of Inari's life. Inari had finally been happy to live with a father that he never grew up with! But of course, all that had to change when Gato began to take control of their humble village of the waves.

Kaiza had been the only man brave and bold enough to defy the reign of Gato. And in the end, the only way for Gato to get rid of this threat was just that; to get rid of it. Kaiza was humiliated and killed right before his own terrified eyes, never once begging for the mercy that Gato was screaming for him to plead for. He lived the life of courage, and died in courage. Inari thought that maybe he could grow strong from his father's example, and one day defy Gato as he had, but all that came to mind when he thought of his past father was sadness, and a grief and anger strong enough to make him cry.

And to think these Konoha ninja who come out of nowhere can just act like everything was fine? Like the village wasn't going through a great depression? Gato is sure to understand the significance of the bridge; it is the only light of hope everyone in the village has for escaping the man's grasps! Did they think that he was just going to let them finish the bridge undisturbed? That Gato he knew, the one that killed his father in front of him, destroyed all hope. He was more likely to hire an army than let the bridge be complete!

"You're lucky to be alive."

Inari's head snapped around at the sudden sound of a voice that appeared to come from behind him, shocking him out of his depressing thoughts.

"I thought Naruto was going to kill you. If there's one thing to know about Naruto…never do anything to his precious people that he doesn't like."

Inari squinted his eyes and looked up to the shady figure that was standing on the roof above him. His red hair was illuminated by the eerie moonlight and the wind blowing it to the side, revealing a strange tattoo on his forehead, and Inari could tell that this guy probably didn't have a problem with death. Still, Inari's pride began to surface and decided to fight back with the strange ninja.

"I couldn't care less about this guy's 'precious people'!" he retorted back at Gaara, who frowned down at him with deadly distaste. "And I don't care about him either! Within this week…he's dead! I guarantee it!"

Gaara continued to frown and crossed his arms. "Is that how you think of the ninja who saved your grandfather's life already?" Gaara asked, causing Inari's eyes to widen slightly. "Here's another thing you should know about Naruto: he doesn't go down easily."

Inari shook his head and began to chuckle. "You Konoha people just don't get it, do you?!" he began to raise his voice, starting to get annoyed with these newcomers. "I don't care who Naruto is, opposing Gato is like trying to make a river flow the other way! You can't do it!"

Gaara looked up at the moon now, thinking more to himself now. "If Naruto's friends were endangered, I'm sure he would find a way to do that," he replied, quietly. "He has a way of…surprising people."

Inari grinded his teeth together in aggravation. "You talk about this guy like he's something different from every other normal human here!" Inari shouted, shaking his head angrily. "He's always smiling and laughing…but he'll learn! You'll all learn what it feels like to lose someone precious to you! That's something Gato has a talent of doing!"

Inari was surprised when Gaara's only reaction to that statement was a low and long laugh, which really ticked Inari off. He was even more surprised when the image on the roof dispersed into sand and Gaara appeared several feet in front of him.

"You know nothing about suffering," Gaara hissed out in an emotionless way that scared Inari more than if he had been shouting at him. "And don't act like you know who we are, either. Every Konoha ninja who is here has been through more suffering than you have. But you just like to stay in your little world of self pity, not caring to think that there could possibly be others beside you who suffer. You disgust me."

Inari now took a step back, his bottom lip trembling for reasons he didn't know why. He unconsciously clutched the picture of his father harder in his hands, causing Gaara to look down at the picture.

"Judging by the picture, and the fact that I've never seen your father, I would guess that he somehow died, and Gato had something to do with it," Gaara concluded, causing Inari's eyes to widen. "He was probably a nice guy too, right?" Inari nodded, slowly.

"Well let me tell you something about myself," Gaara continued. "My father was always cruel to me, and he would often send assassins to try and kill me. They never did. My only caretaker and friend to me tried to kill me as well. My mother was sacrificed before I was born to help place a demon inside of me, for which was the cause of the misery that I endured growing up without friends. I planned to kill my father, and eventually kill myself when I was done, but instead I had friends who gave me the will to live. I met Kairi…she's probably the only reason why you haven't heard that Suna was destroyed and everyone in it was killed."

Inari did all he could do to keep his gasps and sharp intake of breath as quiet as he could.

"I'm not the only one. Kairi lost her family, and so did Sai. Sasuke's family was forcefully killed by his own brother, Hinata's mother died and her sister figure deserted her, and her own father puts her down and insults her. But Naruto…Naruto has made the biggest loss of all of us.

"He was raised without any parents, and he found out that everyone in the village hated him for reasons he didn't know. However, he had one brother who he adored and aspired to be like. It was that brother, who gave him hope in a light of darkness that left the village a murderer, not telling Naruto anything. Only to add things on, Naruto found out that his own father had died protecting the village and sealing a demon inside of him. Then, to top it off, Naruto found out his real destiny, that one day the fate of the world will rest on his shoulders. I'm surprised that he can sleep at night."

And with that, Inari was left alone and Gaara once more disappeared in a gust of sand and wind, leaving Inari to dwell in new thoughts.


The Next Day

"I've found him."

Sub-Zero's eyes widened Itachi reported back to him after they had left searching for information the past night.

"Ah, finally. Lead me, then. It's finally time to kill Zabuza. I've been looking forward to this!"


Elsewhere

"Are you ready, Haku?"

Haku finished packing her senbon in her pouch, and when she was finished, she pulled her hunter mask down over her face. Today, they would kill the bridge builder, collect the money and leave the Land of Waves to avoid the two killers who were after them.

"Hai, I am prepared, Zabuza-sensei."

Zabuza chuckled, flexing his large muscles in preparation. "Good, good. It's finally time to kill that damn copy ninja and the bridge builder! I've been looking forward to this all week!"


Elsewhere

Kakashi jumped up and down on the balls of his feet, stretching his arms as well.

"Well, I think I'm finally ready to get back on duty," he said to the very anxious Genin before him.

Naruto cheered and threw up his hands in excitement. "Ah! Finally!" he shouted, dancing around. "Does this mean that we can go back on patrol duty and not train with you anymore?!" he asked, very excited to not train.

Kakashi shrugged nonchalantly, pulling out his favorite porn…err, literature. "Sure, I don't see why not."

Naruto shrieked in excitement, turning around to see if his teammates were as happy as he was. Hinata was smiling as usual, and Sasuke was smirking to himself. "Yes!" he shouted, dancing around Sasuke, really annoying the Uchiha. When he realized that Sasuke was ignoring him, he changed his direction and picked up Hinata, swirling her around to her secret delight.

Kakashi chuckled and began walking towards the bridge. "I don't know why you're so happy," he commented to Naruto. "I don't think that bridge duty is going to be that exciting…"

Naruto scoffed and put Hinata down, who was flushing a healthy shade of red. "Ha! You, sensei, of all people should know about the Road of Life! Wherever important people go, important things happen!"

Kakashi chuckled again, shrugging his shoulders. "Touché, Naruto. Let's see how the Road of Life will come into play."


Trail to the Bridge

"So let me get this straight," Sasuke said, looking at Naruto with curiosity while the team was walking towards the bridge. "You created near-permanent clones that all look different and can communicate with you through your Rinnegan?"

Naruto nodded. "Yep! That's pretty much it. You've already met Shirei, but you haven't seen my other commanders! There's Endo, Jiyuu, Ryozo, Natsumi…"

Both Sasuke and Hinata's head snapped up straight upon hearing the last name.

"Wait, you have a girl clone?!" Sasuke asked, looking at Naruto incredulously.

Naruto nodded, somewhat nervously. "Yeah, I'll introduce you guys to her!"

Naruto closed his eyes, and activated his Rinnegan. He had already summoned his commanders and deployed them around the area, so that they would be prepared for anything, if worst comes to worst and something happens with the bridge.

'Natsumi, I'm going to summon you to my location," Naruto called out to his clone. She wasn't that far away from him; after all, it was her responsibility to protect Naruto.

"Hai."

He looked in his memories for the mental image and seal of Natsumi, and when he did, he projected the seal onto the ground next to him. Cast!

In a shimmer of image, Natsumi appeared next to Naruto, smiling and playfully saluting at him. "Ohayo, Naruto-sama!" she greeted, looking around at the group who was staring at her.

Sasuke was expecting some blond girl that looked exactly like a girly version of Naruto…but this girl was…different!

Hinata couldn't help but frown at the beauty of the girl clone of Naruto. She didn't look that much like him, but for some reason, she could immediately identify the clone as Naruto's. Strange…she hoped that this clone of his wouldn't get the wrong ideas and try to get with her Naruto-kun…

Kakashi giggled as he flipped the page in his porno book. Man, it didn't matter how many times he re-read this! It was incredible!!

"Everyone, this is Natsumi Namikaze," Naruto introduced, giving her a formal introduction, "and Natsumi, this is my team, who you already know!"

Natsumi gave a polite bow to everyone, and then she dispersed, going back to her previous position hidden elsewhere.

Naruto smiled when he noticed the mixed looks that he saw on his team. "So, now do you think my Shadow Clone Jutsu is cool?" Naruto egged Sasuke, elbowing him in the side. The arrogant Uchiha grunted and crossed his arms, feigning indifference.

"Hn."

The group walked on through the trail in the woods, headed on track to the bridge. They conversed happily with each other as they were all exited to get back on duty and finish the job. Their little 'escort' mission had turned into a full time 'save the village and defeat an A to S-ranked ninja' mission, which gave them reason to be excited for completing it. Naruto could only imagine the look on everyone's face when he reported back to the village. Iruka especially would freak out over such a mission.

Also, the Chunin Exams were coming up, which Naruto was really looking forward too. He and his friends would finally achieve the rank of Chunin, and then they would leave the village and search for his brother…as well as find out more about this 'Evil King' the scroll spoke about.

All of that would soon come, but only once this bridge finally finished. Tazuna said that with the rate they were working, it would only take another several days and then it would-

"Naruto!" a voice shouted in his head, causing Naruto's eyes to widen. It was Shirei's, his head Rinnegan clone, and he really did not like the way he had said his name.

"What is it?!" Naruto asked, thinking back to his commander, who he had sent ahead to the bridge earlier this morning.

"The bridge…" his clone seemed to be panting, as if it had just finished a long sprint. "It's under attack! Zabuza and his apprentice have come back! Their destroying the bridge and killing the workers!! You have to come-"

Naruto's mind went blank when his connection with Shirei was broken and the conversation stopped. He was instantly flooded with the memories of his clone, and they were not pleasant in the least. The majority of the bridge was covered in an advancing thick mist that was rapidly growing. Naruto could see memories of workers running by with senbon covering their bodies, or some getting decapitated by a very family zanbato. He saw sand swirling around to protect the workers and Zabuza, and Sai engaging the masked apprentice. Anko had been battling off Zabuza, but even she was getting tossed around in the fight, being thrown side to side.

"The bridge!" Naruto shouted out loud to his team, so that they could all hear. "It's under attack! We have to go!"

Team 7 reacted immediately and, behind Kakashi, they all dashed into the trees, heading immediately over to the slaughter which was happening on the bridge.


Tazuna's House

Ryozo sighed in a bored manner as he sat on top of Tazuna's rooftop. He had been assigned by Naruto to keep watch over Tazuna's family in their absence, should anything happen to them. Ha! As if! He thought that he was supposed to be in charge of the badass clone group; not the baby sit group! You know what? He didn't care anyways. Besides, this way he could catch up on his napping time. He placed his bow and arrow next to him and laid back, sighing happily.

Each of the commander clones had been given different weapons shortly after their creation. He had requested for a bow and arrow, because he needed a weapon with range, seeing how he was in charge of a group relying on stealth. Sure, he could ask for a katana, but how unoriginal was that? He had practiced with the bow for the majority of his little free time (organizing his ranks consumed a lot of time) and he had gotten quite skilled with it. Also, because of the fact that his arrows were generally medium to long range, he had some short ranged weapons as well. He had chosen to wield kunai for the moment, but he had another weapon in mind that he would have to ask Naruto about. And of course, whatever skills he learned were passed on to Naruto because of their mental link.

About fifteen minutes into his nap, Ryozo felt a nagging feeling in the back of his head, and he sat up on the roof, yawning. He looked around, and his purple spiral eyes immediately widened when he saw two unknown men armed with samurai swords walk toward the house. He smirked, chuckling to himself.

"Haha! Finally, some action!"

__________

Inari cowered in fear as his mother was thrown against the wall by the strange men who had burst into the room. They had demanded for them to 'accompany' them, but of course his mother had refused and asked them to leave her house immediately, which in turn caused him to be thrown into the wall.

"Alright then," one of the mean looking men said, cracking his knuckles. Inari could guess that he wasn't upset at all that they would have to force them. "Looks like I'm gonna have to use a little muscle to convince you two!"

The man walked up to Inari, who couldn't do anything to stop him but helplessly bunch his broad chest, which only made the man angry. He picked up Inari with one strong arm, and tucked him in the arm to restrict his movements.

"Let go of my son!" Tsunami yelled, storming at the first man, only to be grabbed by the second.

"I'm really sorry ma'am," the sly looking one claimed in a voice dripping in sarcasm. "But I'm going to have to decline your offer. Hey, do you think I can have a little fun with this one first?" he asked the bigger guard with a sickening chuckle. "She's kinda cute and-"

Swish!

The man was unable to finish his sentence as an arrow lodged itself through the back of his neck. He gasped in pain and grabbed his own neck, and gagged for a second before he fell over, dead.

Tsunami's eyes widened in horror at the grotesque scene in front of her as well as the other two people in the room. The first guard's eyes darted to the door that they had left open, and he cursed loudly. He tightened his grip around Inari and held the boy out, almost fearfully. Whoever was out there was obviously skilled, as they were able to hit his partner in a vital spot through the open door and remain unseen.

"Wh-Whoever's out there," the guard stumbled out, trying to lose his fear. "I have the boy! If you want the boy to live, then-"

This man was also interrupted when a hand reached around his neck with a kunai and slashed him open, causing him to fall to the ground silently.

When the deed was done, both Tsunami and Inari looked up at Ryozo in horror before they noticed his similarity to Naruto, though he strangely had purple hair.

"N-N-Naruto," Tsunami stuttered out, fearful that this could be another attacker. "I-Is that you?"

Ryozo shook his head, smirking under his mask at the looks he was receiving. "Nope. I'm his shadow clone, if that means anything to you," he responded, waving his hand to the side. Instantly, several other masked clones appeared in the room, and each looked differently. They picked up the fallen bodies, and disappeared as silently as they appeared.

Ryozo yawned again, someone disappointed in the outcome of the fight. These guards sent out to capture the family weren't that talented, though it wasn't as if Ryozo gave them the chance. Naruto, his creator, probably would have given a speech about how it was cruel to do their acts, but he wouldn't waste his breath. In many ways, he was more…efficient than Naruto. Yes, he would lose in a fight with his creator, but, they thought differently, in major ways. Naruto would also most have likely ran in the room and thrown a Rasengan at the two, but he decided to end the battle before it got anywhere.

He turned to look at the shivering and fearful looks he was still getting from the two.

"Those two needed to die," he said, as if that explained everything. "I'm sure you two understand what would have happened had I let them lived. And don't get me wrong, I could've killed them before they even entered the house, but I needed to understand why they came in the first place."

"Bodies have been disposed."

Ryozo nodded at the message he received and headed out the house. However, before he could actually leave, Inari stood up and shouted to him,

"Wait! Where are you going now?!" he asked, causing Ryozo to turn his head.

"The bridge. If you two were targeted by those lowly swordsmen, it means that someone out there knows that you guys were 'alone' at home, and that it was the time to capture you. Also, I've contacted my Commander who informed me that the bridge is currently under heavy attack."

With that, he briskly left the room, leaving the two silent behind him.


Bridge

When Team 7 arrived at the scene, they were shocked to discover the carnage that littered it and the destruction of a portion of it. There were several large snakes which were being attacked by even larger massive water dragons which snaked up from the sides of the bridge from the water below. Mist covered the majority of the bridge, which made it nearly impossible to see all of the details.

Suddenly, Gaara jumped down next to the group, panting heavily and carrying two bodies on his shoulders which he laid carefully on the ground. They all immediately recognized them as the bodies of Tazuna and Kairi, which caused their eyes to widen in fear.

"He got us by surprise," Gaara panted out, falling on his knees in exhaustion. "One second everything was normal and the next the sky was full of raining senbon and a water dragon ran into the side of the bridge! I was lucky that I was able to shield Tazuna and Kairi from most of the damage, but their unconscious now."

Kakashi nodded, immediately pulling down his mask to reveal his Sharingan. "Good work, Gaara. Stay back and protect the bridge builder and Kairi while we fight off Zabuza. Hinata, stay with Gaara and be his eyes so that no one can sneak up on him and get them. Naruto and Sasuke, go help Sai with the hunter-nin! NOW!"

"Hai!" a chorus of salutes rang out before they all quickly dispersed. Gaara and Hinata jumped back with the unconscious bodies farther on the bridge while Naruto and Sasuke dashed off into the mist where they could see the feint image of Sai battling the mist ninja.

__________

Sai twisted his body sideways to avoid the senbon which flew by him. The area he was fighting in was generally clear of mist, as his opponent needed to see as well. Strangely enough, Sai recognized that this female hunter-nin was holding back from her true potential, which he saw the last time they fought, which greatly confused him. Before, she had only been aiming at his vital points, but now Sai could tell that she was aiming particularly for the spots that wouldn't kill him. But that still didn't make her an easy opponent.

To his great relief, he saw two shadows run through the mist and into the clearing next to him, revealing themselves to be Naruto and Sasuke.

"Sai!" Naruto called out, jumping to his side and pulling out a katana. "Are you alright?!" he asked though his Rinnegan eyes zoomed in on the target in front of him.

Though the painter ninja was out of breath, he was able to nod in response. The three formed a triangle with each other as they had practiced before in training, and they were about to attack their opponent when she began walking towards them, slowly.

"I was going to spare your life," she said in a strangely familiar muffled voice. "But now it seems that trying to disarm all of you will be impossible. I'm sorry, but it ends here."

With that, Haku went through several hand-seals ending on one that Naruto had never seen before.

"Ninja Art: Shadow Senbon!"

Haku threw her arms forward and dozens of senbon began to rapidly fire out of her sleeves, forcing the three to separate and evade the attack. Taking initiative again, she flew forward in the air to her opponent closet to her, Sasuke.

With his Sharingan activated, Sasuke managed to block her attack and push her arms to the side, but he was pushed backwards as she reversed her momentum and hit him with a surprisingly powerful mid-section kick.

Right when she landed, she flipped backwards to avoid a gale of wind sent at her, courtesy of Naruto. However, just when she regained balance she had to lean her head back to avoid a kunai which sailed by her head. Sai, the one who threw it, continued his attack and formed several seals, shouting out,

"Ink Release!"

Holding his seal to his mouth, he spit out a thin geyser of black ink which flew at Haku. But, halfway through its path he formed a different seal which caused the ink to shift into a snake, preparing to rear its head and bite her.

However, Haku was once again able to avoid being hit by destroying the creation with quick thrown senbon. Directly after, she through her hand up to the side and formed a solid wall of ice in front of her to protect herself from the stream of fire she saw Sasuke produce out of the corner of her eyes.

Seconds later, she turned around and parried Naruto's mid air katana attack with her own senbon without a moment to spare, though she was unable to block his lightening fast follow up kick which knocked her to the side.

"Water Release: Water Wave Jutsu!" she called out as she as she was able to gather her chakra again. Naruto's eyes widened in surprise when he saw the attack coming, forcing him to jump in the air to avoid being swept away.

"Wind Release: Wind Scythe Jutsu!" Haku called out again, once more shocking Naruto. This girl had three elements? How could she use ice, water, and wind? Naruto thrust his hands forward in a quick and seal-less wind jutsu which was able to counter hers, though he was pushed away in the air from the recoil.

Haku's eyes then darted back and forth between Sasuke and Sai, who were charging at her with their weapons raised. She was finally going to have to use that jutsu, after all. She couldn't play around with these guys anymore without the heavy risk of her getting caught off guard which would lead to her death. However, she knew that with the way things were going, she was most likely going to have to actually kill them, which was something she really didn't want to do.

But her feelings didn't matter, not when Zabuza's dream was endangered.

"Ice Release: Crystal Ice Mirrors!" she shouted out, forming her own signature hand seal.

Instantly, multiple mirrors of ice began to form around the trio of Konoha ninja, which greatly confused them. And, just as quickly, Haku immersed herself into one of the mirrors, surprisingly reappearing in each and every image.

"This is my unique ice technique," she explained to them, in that same familiar voice which caused all three of them to wonder where it came from. "No one has ever escaped from these mirrors alive, even ninja much stronger than you three now," she claimed, hoping to discourage them. It was possible that if they didn't fight back to hard, or grew weary, she would be able to hit certain points on their bodies that would knock them out for good, without killing them! Then she would be able to fulfill Zabuza's wish and get away with not killing her friends!

Ha, as if they were considered her 'friends'. No friends would fight each other to the death like they were doing now.

Naruto's Rinnegan eyes quickly scanned back and forth between each mirror which levitated motionlessly in the air before him. He could see a ridiculous amount of chakra in each one, and he knew that it would take a lot more than a kunai to shatter one of them. In fact, he didn't think any of his wind jutsu would take them out…aside from a Rasengan…there was a ridiculous amount of chakra in each mirror. He would either have to hit one with a strong attack or escape through the openings between each one.

He looked at his friends along side of him and he knew that they understood the same thing. Nodding at each other, they each made a quick dash to different sides of the prison, running as fast as they could to make it out in time…

But just as they almost made it to the edges, a blur appeared in front of them and they were painfully kicked back to the center. Naruto shook his head in dizziness, wondering what the hell just happened.

"She's so fast!" Sasuke commented, being able to see it with his eyes. "She used an advanced shunshin to move between the mirrors and appear in front of each of us!"

Naruto swore to himself as the images of the hunter-nin once more appeared in the mirrors in front of him. Thinking quickly, he summoned around ten clones who all ran to different corners of the dome, though each one was immediately pierced and dispersed before they could reach anywhere.

"That's not going to work," Haku commented in a bored manner, her voice emanating from each mirror. "These mirrors of mine are as hard as metal, probably harder. Nothing can penetrate from the outside, and nothing can from the inside. Also, within these mirrors, I can travel at speeds faster than any of you combined, so escape is impossible. I am sorry, but you will all have to die now."

As soon as she finished that sentence, dozens of senbon rained down from each mirror, making it impossible for them to dodge. Naruto, Sasuke and Sai managed to block several from hitting them at first, but quickly they became pierced with the needles and they fell over to the ground in pain.

"Give up and die easily," Haku spoke again, almost in a pleading voice. "There is no other way for you to get out!"

Naruto tried pulling out the senbon in his arms and legs and grunted painfully as he stood up, watching Sasuke and Sai do the same. They were in big trouble if they couldn't get out of this place and fast. Each one of those senbon could have possibly killed all of them, and they were extremely lucky that they hadn't. He closed his eyes and thought hard, trying to find a way to get out of this devastating situation.

"Endo!" Naruto called out to his fighting Rinnegan clone, hoping for a response. He was responded with silence, which could only mean that his clone was dispersed at some point during the fight.

"Jiyuu!" Naruto mentally called out to his elemental clone, hoping to hear something. But once again, all he received was silence, which meant that that clone had also been dispersed in the fight. Shit! He had sent out of his commander clones to help fight Zabuza or save the workers, but apparently each one of them had already been dispersed!

"Naruto-sama!" a voice called out in his mind causing Naruto's head to snap up. It was Ryozo, his special ops clone! He had forgotten about him! He had left him back at guard duty to protect Tsunami and Inari!

"Ryozo!" Naruto called back to his clone. "We're stuck in the ice mirror dome! I need you to hit one of the mirrors with a Rasengan!"

"Hai!"

Naruto snapped back to reality when Sasuke stood up and blew out a large ball of fire, hoping to break or melt the ice mirrors. Unfortunately, the fire ball dispersed upon contact and the ice didn't show any signs of damage.

"Please," Haku called out once more to all of them. "Give up and let me kill you all easily! It's the only way!" she pleaded, trying to get them to understand.

"Never!" Naruto shouted back, glaring at each image in the mirror with his spiral Rinnegan eyes. "We're Konoha ninja, and we never give up! That's our way of the ninja!"

Haku sighed, hoping for the best as she pulled out a large number of her nearly infinite senbon.

"Very well. Then I am force to-"

Haku was interrupted as a loud swirling sound was heard from outside of the dome, which Sai and Sasuke immediately recognized. Moments later, one of the top mirrors erupted into shards as if exploded in a large boom as Ryozo came flying through with a Rasengan in his hand.

"Now!" Naruto shouted to his friends, all who jumped forward into the opening, hoping that Haku wouldn't be able to catch them.

To their great astonishment, by the time they had jumped into the air, dozens of more senbon flew at them, causing them to once more fall to the ground in pain. Ryozo, after being impaled by around seven of the needles, dispersed and left the three back to themselves once more. Naruto was forced to watch the ice mirror reform once more on the ground as he tried to pull out the needles which restricted his leg movements.

Haku frowned to herself from within the ice. What was that attack and how did it manage to break through her mirror? Her chakra within the mirror was supposed to instantly protect it and reform it after any sort of attack! She shook her head, trying not to worry about it. After all, her enemies were lying before her on the ground now in pain, just trying to stand up. Now would be the best time to knock them out…

To her surprise again, all three of the boys before her managed to stumble to a standing point, panting heavily but still ready to fight. Why wouldn't they stay down! They could only live if they would just accept defeat! But if they kept fighting her, she would eventually be forced to kill them!

Suddenly, Naruto charged up his hand with a strange ball of white colored chakra and charged at one of her mirrors. Noticing that it was the same design as the one that had just broken through her other mirror, Haku had no doubt that Naruto would be able to break through another one, which was a big problem to her plans. Naruto, her biggest threat so far, would have to go out first. She would have to knock him temporarily unconscious, like she was trained to do. With the greatest precision, she was able to make someone temporarily 'dead', and they would seem dead to everyone else, even keeping their heart beat low enough to be undetectable.

Right before Naruto reached the mirror, Haku's image appeared in the mirror and she swiftly stepped out of it to his surprise, grabbing his chakra filled arm with amazing speed. With her other arm, she pulled out a senbon and began to thrust her arms forward at insane speeds towards Naruto.

To Sasuke, it was almost as like he was seeing this in slow motion with his enhanced eyes. He had saw Naruto dash toward the mirror, and for a moment, he thought that his best friend could make it…but the Hunter-nin was just too fast. Now, he could see where Haku was planning to strike, and he knew that it wouldn't end well. He could also tell that that Naruto wasn't a clone, and that he was the real deal.

With insanely fast speed, Haku's arm reached up to Naruto and she promptly thrust the senbon into his neck, causing his eyes to widen for a split second and his Rasengan to distinguish. In what appeared to be slow motion to Sasuke and Sai, Naruto staggered backward for a second before he fell to the ground, deathly limp.

Sasuke's and Sai's eyes widened with horror when Naruto fell to the ground, lifeless as a doll. The presence of death was around on every mission, but to actually see Naruto…

"NO!" Sasuke shouted, charging at the Hunter-nin with all of his speed to catch her before she stepped back into the mirror. But right before he reached her, she was able to easily kick him back to the center without him even touching her.

"Knowing that he wouldn't be able to make it," Haku commented dryly, looking at Sasuke with pity, "but still trying to free you all anyways…he was a true ninja who deserved respect. Is this the first time a friend of yours has died? This is the way of the shinobi, and you of all people should know that-"

But what she wasn't expecting was for several ink snakes to jump out of the ground beneath her and enwrap her arms and legs, prohibiting her moving. She gasped in shock and looked up just in time to see Sai now running at her with his fist raised in the air.

"You BITCH!" he shouted at her, slamming his fist into her face, shattering her mask with the sheer force and actually breaking her out of his own snake bond and sending her flying into one of the mirrors. This time, she didn't merge back into it, and instead she slammed into the surface before painfully falling back to the ground.

Sasuke and Sai were both about to charge at her and finish her off when she lifted her head to look at them and the last remnants of the hunter mask fell of her face, revealing her true identity to them.

Immediately, they stopped in their tracks and stared at her in shock, not believing what they were seeing. It was Haku, the village girl who had befriended them for the past week!

Haku looked up sadly at the two shocked boys from a kneeling position, truly not wanting to see their reactions. Sai slowly walked up to her, shock and anger appearing in his normally calm eyes.

"Haku…" he mumbled out, stopping a safe distance away from her. "How…how could you? Naruto…you…"

Haku looked at Sai with remorse, and held her hand out to him. For a second, Sai looked down at her, wondering what she was doing, but suddenly several needles of ice erupted from the mirror behind Haku, swiftly impaling Sai all over, causing him to shout out in pain.

To Sasuke's horror, Sai slowly fell to the ground motionless like Naruto had done before him while Haku slowly crept backwards into her mirror, merging with the ice. Sasuke himself dropped to his knees, looking back and forth between Naruto's body and Sai's, trying to force himself to wake up from this nightmare.

"The ninja world is full of deception and death," Haku said, her voice emanating throughout the dome. Her image disappeared from the mirror in front of Sasuke and appeared in another one next to it. "As I was saying before, you should be able to understand this fully. As you told me before, your clan was killed off by your brother who abandoned you afterwards. You should've used that anger as your dream to become stronger…but it's too late now." Her image disappeared again and began appearing in different mirrors, though Sasuke's eyes never left the bodies of his friends.

"How could you?" he mumbled out, not acknowledging what she just said. "We trusted you…"

Haku shook her head, seeing as how he didn't understand. "I have a dream to fulfill, and you are not going to stand in my way," she said, pulling out senbon in the mirror's images. She continued to appear in random mirrors, hoping that Sasuke wouldn't be able to follow her.

"I have a dream as well," he claimed quietly. "I have to know why my brother did what he did…and if I have to nearly kill him to find out, then I'll do just that. I was going to do that with my friends…but you've taken that away from me! YOU will not stand in my way! I'LL KILL YOU!"

Sasuke looked at Haku for a moment, his eyes pulsing with hatred and chakra. Suddenly, he closed them in pain, and it felt like they had temporarily ignited with fire. Falling to the ground, he clutched his head in pain as he squeezed his eyes closed, yelling in pain.

Haku looked at Sasuke with deep confusing as his screaming subsided and he continued to lie on the ground with his hands on his head, deeply breathing. Confused or not, Haku recognized her opportunity to strike, so she pulled out several senbon, and, aiming for the non-vital points on Sasuke she threw them at him with deadly speed.

When Sasuke opened his eyes, he was shocked as he saw the world with a new clarity. Looking up, he saw several senbon flying toward him, almost in slow motion, as if everything in the world aside from him was going much slower. He lightly jumped backwards, easily avoiding the senbon, noticing the powerful chakra that was pulsing through his body coming from his eyes and the seal on his shoulder.

Suddenly, it dawned on him what was going on. He had activated the next part of his Sharingan! He looked in a nearby mirror and focused on his reflection, noticing that indeed he had three tomoes in each eye; the sign of a full and complete Sharingan. But that also meant that after the battle, he would pass out and have to fight with his own Kagai Mangekyou again, for his life. Things were not going to be fun.

He looked up again, and noticed that Haku was once more switching between mirrors, though much slower than before to him. Eventually, she jumped out from one of the side ones and nearly flew towards him in the air with a shunshin, though he caught the motion out of the side of his eye.

Turning, he snapped he hand out and grabbed her wrist, using her momentum to throw her in the other direction, causing her to slam against one of the mirrors again.

Haku cursed as she slowly reentered her mirror again. What was going on?! She had used a shunshin within her dome! How had he even seen her, let alone counter attack?!

Sasuke pulled out his katana slowly, walking toward the mirror that Haku had retreated to, grinning evilly. He was going to get his revenge on this girl for killing his friends, and he was going to like ever second of it. He could feel his eyes and seal taking charge of his body, giving him mental suggestions, and he allowed it to happen, loving the powerful feeling. This was supposed to happen each time he 'upgraded' his Sharingan, and though he knew that it was very dangerous letting his seal have control, he currently didn't mind. The anger that he was feeling was replacing the sadness and pain, which was a great thing to him.

Haku, almost on default, threw a volley of senbon at Sasuke, either to harm him or slow him down. However, all he did to stop the quickly thrown needles was swipe his katana, batting each and every one away without blinking. Haku's eyes widened at the incredible feat, also noticing that most of the senbon had been cut in half.

Sasuke looked down at his own katana, which was glowing with a strong blue chakra. He strongly felt the urge to impale Haku with it, and he saw the image of Haku being pierced with it, so he smiled, agreeing with his eyes.

Faster than Haku's previous speed, Sasuke hurled the katana at her image in the mirror, the blade whirling around in the air before it surprisingly impaled in the ice, though Haku was able to switch mirrors before it hit. To her great surprise, Sasuke's katana had actually managed to pierce through the ice, causing it to shatter and fall to the ground. He walked over to it, and bent down to pick up his katana, turning his head so that his Sharingan bored into Haku's very soul.

Crap! Haku thought out mentally, fidgeting around with her senbon. She could restore the broken mirror, but she had already used up far too much chakra, and for some reason she felt as if Sasuke didn't even want to escape anymore.

Taking initiative, Haku switched mirrors again and flew out at Sasuke from behind, though his eyes caught her and he was able to block her senbon with his katana. For a split second, they glared at each other, and Haku suppressed a shutter from evil she was seeing in his eyes.

Haku jumped back quickly before she was overpowered, and she was about to attack again when she realized that she couldn't move. "What's going on?" she thought to herself, freaking out as Sasuke began to walk toward her. Why couldn't she move?!

It wasn't until she looked into his Sharingan again that it dawned upon her what was going on.

Genjutsu!

Shakily and slowly, Haku managed to use her own senbon to stab herself lightly in her arm, though it was enough to break her out of Sasuke's paralyzing jutsu and go through several quick hand-seals.

"Ice Release: Dragon's Breath!"

Bringing her seal to her mouth, Haku poured chakra out from her mouth which transformed into a powerful stream of icy mist, enveloping Sasuke.

However, instead of the desired effect, Sasuke disappeared at the last second and appeared behind Haku, horizontally slashing his sword, slicing Haku in half. But instead of receiving the desired blood, Sasuke was rewarded only with water which splashed to the ground. Even with his new eyes, Haku was still apparently going to be a challenge to him.


Outside

Kakashi and Anko were having an equally difficult time with Zabuza, and they were both currently standing back to back together in the dense mist, wondering where Zabuza would strike next. The entire area was covered in the chakra filled mist, currently blocking Kakashi's chakra sensing doujutsu, and efficiently blinding him. Pulling out a kunai in precaution, Kakashi allowed himself to glance in the general direction of Naruto, Sasuke and Sai, hoping that they were alright.


Naruto's Mindscape

Naruto sat up in a dark room, immediately noticing the damp ground and eerie glow, recognizing it to be his own mindscape, specifically his seal. He stood up, brushing himself off and he began walking towards where he had gone last time; the Kyuubi's chamber.

He turned the corner of his ridiculously large and tall hallways, and looked on from a distance at the giant cage which he could feel the Kyuubi lied beyond.

"Yo."

Naruto turned around quickly at the greeting and he was surprised to see his squad of Rinnegan clones walk toward him, Ryozo, the cool purple haired one, being the one to greet him. Every one of them, including his commander Shirei, walked up to him, and stood next to him calmly.

"Hey guys!" Naruto greeted back, smiling happily. Still, he scratched his head and looked at them curiously. "Um…do you guys know why I'm here?" he asked, hoping that they might have an idea.

"You passed out unconscious," Shirei responded for the group, fixing the position of his dark glasses. "I'm guessing that you show up in this place every time you pass out, or almost die."

Naruto nodded solemnly, remembering what was going on outside his body. He just hoped that Sasuke and Sai would be alright…

"Your friends are alright…for now."

The entire group's attention quickly turned to the other end of the hallway, where Naruto had came from, where there was a tall figure walking towards them. His figure was mostly shaded, and before he could completely come into view, he stopped, his body partially covered in shadow.

"I'm not sure for how long though. Your friend, Sasuke, might lose control, and not only that, but I sense powerful chakra signatures approaching you."

Naruto was about to open his mouth and first ask who the stranger was, but he was interrupted by a loud and booming voice.

"Fools…all of you. Weak-minded little morsels," the Kyuubi commented in a terrifyingly low voice, causing the room to rumble with the pure bass of his voice. "If this seal didn't prevent my escape, and if your eyes didn't imprison my chakra, there would be no one out there to threaten you. I was cursed with an ignorant vessel…one with you, none-the-less, one with the Triforce."

Naruto was at a loss, wondering if the Kyuubi was referring to him or the new figure that had appeared. Finally, he had to ask what was going on before the conversation continued any further.

"Wait!" he shouted out, becoming the attention of all. "What's going on?!" The large and crimson glowing eyes of the Kyuubi began to focus on Naruto, a pure look of annoyance and hatred written on them.

"Do not speak to your superiors with such a tone!" he grunted out at Naruto, his own voice creating a gust of wind.

The other mysterious newcomer, however, laughed at the Kyuubi's comment, surprising Naruto. "Your superior?" he asked, finding the idea funny. "Ha! You forget who's behind bars, in the corner of someone's subconscious!"

As the man mocked him, the Kyuubi growled lowly and flared his teeth, worrying Naruto with how strong the bars that held the Kyuubi really were.

"We have little time," the figure stated, now speaking toward Naruto. "I will lend you my power for the moment, as you need to clear the evil from the bridge as well as Sasuke, and the two who are coming near. We will meet again…" he said, turning around to walk back to where he came to.

"Wait!" Naruto shouted out again, really confused. "How will I meet you again?"

The man stopped walking, and turned around, his figure barely visible. "Use your eyes, and look into your own mind. That is how you can enter this area and find me. That is how you can use me…or the pussycat, whichever you prefer."

With that, the figure held up his right hand, and the symbol of the Triforce, the three golden triangles, glowed brightly on the back of his hand.

Suddenly, Naruto's own hand began pulsing, and when he looked at it, he noticed that his own usually faded out symbol of the Triforce began glowing brightly as well, illuminating on the back of his hand.

The next thing he knew, the figure had disappeared and the world around him began to fade.

"Ha," the voice of the Kyuubi proclaimed, chuckling darkly. "Rinku…you've always been an arrogant fool…"


Bridge

Sasuke panted heavily and smiled as Haku stumbled to her feet, clearly exhausted. She had managed to avoid his blows and put up a good fight, but her ice style combination wasn't good enough to beat him with his new eyes and his power. He noticed that there was a dark glow of black chakra surrounding him, creating somewhat of an evil aura, but he didn't mind, as long as it gave him power. And it did, in great amounts!

"Fire Release: Fire Blast Jutsu!" Sasuke yelled out, flying through seals and blasting fire from his hands toward his opponent. To his surprise, Haku was able to counter his attack with a quick water jutsu which countered his own, turning his flames into steam. Grunting in annoyance, he prepared to charge at her when he heard a warning shout from behind him.

"Sasuke, watch out!"

Hearing Hinata's warning, Sasuke's eyes darted behind him where he quickly noticed the whirling of sword, coming quickly at him. Using expert acrobatics, Sasuke back flipped so that the large sword passed harmlessly underneath him.

Haku's eyes widened as the sword headed toward her, but before it reached her, Zabuza, the one who threw it, appeared in front of her and plucked it out of the air with expert hands.

"Haku, how are things going with you?" he asked in a light but dark manner, turning his head to look at her. He frowned when he saw the condition that he was in. "Hn…you did well, considering it was three to one, and I'm proud that you were able to take two of them out, especially the one with the Rinnegan."

Moments later, a tired looking Kakashi and Anko appeared next to Sasuke, who was looking genuinely annoyed.

"Sasuke!" Kakashi spoke to him, turning to look at his student concerned. "Are you alright? Where's Naruto and Sai?!"

Sasuke shrugged, uncaring, flaring his own dark chakra more. "Leave the girl to me," was all he responded, walking forward confidently.

Zabuza laughed at the boy's arrogance, and dashed forward to clash with him, expecting to slice him in half. However, to his surprise, and Kakashi's and Anko's, Sasuke easily avoided the slow moving swing by disappearing, reappearing directly behind Zabuza, continuing to walk toward Haku. Zabuza, annoyed, was about attack Sasuke from behind when Kakashi recognized his opportunity and dashed at him with a kunai, as well as Anko. The three Jonin engaged in a serious kenjutsu combat while Sasuke continued to walk toward Haku.

"I won't forgive you," Sasuke grunted, ignoring the battle behind him. "You're going to die, and I'm going to enjoy seeing you bleed!"

BOOOM!!!

The entire bridge began shaking violently with the sudden explosion, and a giant pile of smoke rose above the area, even above the mist surrounding them. Suddenly, an enormous torrent of wind blew across the entire surface of the bridge, causing Sasuke and everyone else to stop fighting and push chakra into their fight and cover their faces to avoid being swept off the bridge. What an amazing wind jutsu!!

Subsequently, all of the heavy chakra filled mist was blown away with the large wind, allowing everyone to see with perfect visibility once more.

Hinata, one of the first to recover, focused her Byakugan to find the source of the explosion. Her special eyes were previously clouded, because all she could see was the chakra around in the air. But now, she was able to see perfectly again, and she searched for who was by the end of the bridge where the explosion had gone off. What she found, however, was nothing like she had expected. There were two men standing on top at the end of the broken bridge, and not only did they both have massive amounts of chakra, but one of them looked extremely familiar to Hinata, causing her to choke up, nearly unable to breathe.

"What is it, Hinata?" Gaara asked, standing next to her and Tazuna, looking at her pale face and shivering form with concern. "What did you see?"

Hinata shook her head in fear, her eyes locked on the newcomers.

"I-I-I-Itachi!"


End

A/N: This chapter took a while to come out, but then again, for a period of time I was focused on finals, and now that I joined Track I've had less time after school for leisure. But anyways, I hope you've enjoyed it!

**Wtf?! Kakashi made his team train extra hard so that they could face tough opponents together, but then he separated them during the fight?! Yeah, it sounds stupid, but it made sense at the time. Their main mission is not killing Haku or Zabuza, it's protecting Tazuna. Realizing this, Kakashi had to make sure that Tazuna was going to be safe, so he needed Hinata's eyes watching over him.

A lot of my imagination recently was used up (if that's even possible) with a new story idea that's really been bugging me. So I dug deeper into it and formed a title, and a plot, and I was really excited to get it on this site! It's a new story called Sinister Chakra, and trust me, it's going to be really, really cool. It's a Naruto Sharingan story, but trust me; it's going to be different from all the others. So, if you like my writing at all, please go to my account page and check out this new story and give it some feedback. I've only got the first chapter out (as of now), but I'll be working on others later and adding to it.

No Omake as of now, as this chapter was really divided in half. I'll have one at the end of the next chapter, which will also be the end of the first Book of this story.

On to review responses. I'd first like to thank anyone who reviewed, as each one is really helpful to the story. Honestly, if you have a question, complaint, any random comment or you just want to say that you like this story, please review.

You. Yes, you. One of the many people who have read all of the chapters up to this point but decided not to review on any of them! Seriously, if you're out there and you've made it up to this point because you either like it a lot or just tolerate it, leave a review and tell me what you think. You don't need an account, and it's not that hard to say, "Cool, looking forward to the next update." If you have made it up to this point, then you do want to see the next chapter, and reviewing will make it quicker.

Oh, and treat the review responses (if you actually read them) as a FAQ, or a Q&A. I may have something worth noting in the responses.

Nightrain and Brownstone: I think I forgot to direct my response to you last chapter, so I apologize. But yeah, regarding OC's, I agree with you, and I won't be creating any more of them for now, at least not main characters. Thanks for reviewing and I hope you enjoyed the chapter!

Anotamous: Thanks! I really appreciate that you have stuck with this story and that you've reviewed every chapter of it since the first one! Sigh, if only every reader was as constructive as you were. Regarding your Omake request, I'm probably going to add it for next chapter's Omake!

Riku Uzumaki: I agree; Hinata's shyness around Naruto has always been enjoyable in the manga and anime, and I hope that I do a good job of portraying that here. Thanks for leaving a review!

dbtiger63: Zabuza was a monster in that last chapter, and I do admit that I have made him more powerful than in the anime, but for the right reasons. I believe that because I made other powerful people out there, specifically a stronger member in the 7 swordsmen, that Zabuza would be inclined to train harder, thus making him stronger. I hope you enjoyed the chapter, and I tried adding what I could about the elemental training!

Lightblade77: Yep, Haku's actually a girl! Gasp. Hinata's feelings will hopefully be revealed later on in the story though; it gives you something to look forward to! Like eating a doughnut when you know that the crème, the best part, is somewhere in the middle. (Terrible example, I know. I probably should delete that). Anyways…thanks for the review!

Rena the pirate jedi wizard: Thanks for another one of your reviews! I do look forward to reading them after all. I love Hinata's character too. Regarding Zabuza, its like what I said to dbtiger, he's stronger for a reason, which is that others around him are stronger, making him want to train harder when he was younger. Regarding Naruto's team being weaker, I agree and apologize to an extent. In my opinion, it was one of their first times facing such a deadly opponent, and they performed badly. Kakashi noticed this, which is why he made them train harder this time around. Anyway, Itachi entered this chapter, so I hope you're looking forward to their encounter the next one!

mackjav: Thanks for leaving a review. I think Gaara's stronger than Naruto right now, because he has almost reached his potential, and he is only building on it. Naruto can only use wind now, and Gaara can use both wind and earth to make sand. I didn't mention it yet in the story (on purpose), but elemental combinations, like sand and ice, will always be much stronger than their own individual elements. Also, he has amazing defense, and stellar offence, and he grew up without any love, and has more contact with his demon. Thanks for the review, and I like that you asked that good question!

RasenShuriken92 : Thank you, thank you!

Shurtugal Uzumaki : Thanks for the review! I hope you enjoyed it!

roshane: Yeah, I guess I made Kakashi and Anko seem weak, but only to make Zabuza look stronger. And I agree with you about Naruto learning more elements; trust me, coming along eventually. Thanks for reviewing!

GaruAlpha: I like the review as well. Thanks!