Author Note

Hello there!

I was taking some time reading this story from the first chapter, so that I could cover some plot holes, when I saw that the last update was three months ago. Unfortunately, my addiction for new stories is the only one to blame. Therefore, I've picked my two oldest stories (besides Tired and Lone Wolf, which are already finished) and already devised plans to end them. They are Full Moon and the Path of the Hunter-nin. Each will have five more chapters and one epilogue, if necessary. I've already prepared the contents of each chapter and I'll begin right after this one.

With this, I can focus on the rest five (Cursed Eyes, Meshii, Regret, After the Storm and Accursed Brothers), and even a sequel for either Tired or Lone Wolf (the choice will be made by the readers – check poll on my profile.)

I'm open for any ideas regarding the stories and ways to finish with style.

Now, last chapter, the wave arc met its end. Naruto won against Haku with Sasuke's assistance and Zabuza was killed by Kakashi. I'm not going to bother with the aftermath from the fight, but the time in Konoha a couple months later, instead. There will be a bit more interaction with Naruto and his family, as well as his first sensei Tonbo. Also, I'll write a small part regarding his training and even a couple of C-ranked missions that his team will perform. This chapter will be the last before the chunnin exams arc.

Here it goes!

Chapter 11 – Trouble at the border

Beta: Kyuubi123

The sunlight blessed everyone in Konoha with its sunlight. It was one of the warmest days ever registered in Konoha and everyone, who wasn't doing anything important, took the opportunity and filled the lakes that surrounded the village. Some were located in the middle of training grounds, but, much to the shinobi population's frustration, no one cared much about interrupting their training. In their right mind, only a lunatic would be practicing right now. So, the shinobis abandoned their training grounds, from fear of hurting the civilians, who were busy freshening themselves at the lakes.

One person didn't, though. He didn't even care as he practiced the katas of his kenjutsu style.

That fact alone irritated the locals that were trying to enjoy themselves near the lake of Training Ground number 10. What infuriated them even more was the shinobi's identity. Naruto could see the same looks as before, directed at him. However, if he wasn't busy training, he would use both hands and give them the finger…twice. Never in his life was he cautious around others, so he wouldn't start now. It's been three months since the mission to Wave Country and, since then, nothing much happened in his life. His team had two more C-ranked missions since then, but none of them were as dangerous. One consisted in delivering a scroll for a business man located in Fang Country and the other was an escort mission towards Bird Country. The latter was quite different from the first escort mission his team had as it didn't involve missing-nins; only a few bandits here and then, but nothing that the team couldn't handle.

Beyond that, the team, overall, managed to improve their teamwork. Shino's bugs worked well with Naruto's Meiton techniques. Naruto and Shino would constrict the enemy, allowing Hinata to land the finishing move with her jyuuken. Another great move was Shino casting a genjutsu learned by Kurenai at a group of ninjas, while Naruto and Hinata attacked; Naruto with his reversed blade and Hinata with her jyuuken. Overall, the team was growing in terms of skill and Kurenai couldn't be happier about it. When they trained together, it was mostly to improve their taijutsu and chakra control exercises. Since each of the genins learned the heavy stuff on their own, there was no need to focus on each one separately. Shino and Hinata had an entire clan worth of knowledge and experience and Naruto, although also from a clan, managed to learn stuff on his own or when he trained with Sasuke and Kakashi on occasion. Speaking of this new level of rivalry, Naruto and Sasuke sparred against one another almost every day now. Sasuke with his evolved Sharingan and Naruto with his chakra no myaku technique resulted in a very impressive fight for just genin level shinobi. Like Kakashi and Gai, Sasuke and Naruto each had their own share of wins and losses, which further improved their level of rivalry.

They would now compete on how long it took for them to learn a new raiton technique.

Of course, that was only possible once Sasuke agreed not to use the Sharingan once Kakashi used the technique he wanted to teach. Kakashi taught the two genins, two new raiton techniques since their return from Wave Country. The first consisted of sending a shockwave that travelled from the ground, called Raiton Jibashiri (Lightning Release: Earth Flash Technique). The other was the Raiton Kage Bunshin no Jutsu. Of course, it was meant more for Naruto to use, seeing as it required a larger capacity of chakra, but Sasuke appreciated nonetheless. Naruto even attempted to merge lightning with meiton, but he couldn't do it. Kakashi's theory was that at the time, Naruto was feeling angry at not being able to perform a technique, so his anger triggered the dark chakra. Regardless, it wasn't much Naruto's intention at least not for now.

He needed to improve his physical skills.

The reaction time between his awareness of the enemy's movement and his actual movement was the key to win the fight. His technique would pinpoint the opponent's movements, but Naruto was simply taking too long to act upon it. In order for him to advance in skill, he needed to move his body almost by instinct. Unfortunately, though, from what Kakashi and Kurenai-sensei told him, his ambition would only occur with time and experience. They would advise him to practice the movements constantly, but when it comes to muscle memory, nothing worked better than experience on the battlefield.

After being satisfied with the training, Naruto returned the sword to its respective holster strapped on his back. Right now, it was time for him to visit his sensei like he promised to do. This wasn't the first time he tried, though, to find Tonbo-sensei. The man was a jounin and one highly considered by the Hokage for high level missions. He even met his neighbor, a tokubetsu jounin kunoichi named Anko. The boy admitted having almost zero interaction with others, but even then he could tell that the woman was rather different. Naruto wasn't even bothered when she found out that like Tonbo, Naruto was blind. She even attempted some ridiculous maneuvers to get a rise at the Sarutobi. He didn't tell the woman that he could see everything and eventually, she stopped it. Naruto's chakra could see Anko's body detail and from the first time, he blushed. He might be used to torturing others and even gets a rise at their scream of pain, but never before he had seen breasts as voluptuous. His technique couldn't tell that Anko was wearing a fishnet clothing to cover her skin, so in his teenager clouded mind, the woman was naked.

Despite it all, Naruto managed to compose himself and ask her to give a message to Tonbo-sensei. However, it would be quite some time before the image of Anko's breasts escaped from his mind. The message was for Tonbo to meet him at the Ramen Stand, precisely at lunch time, today. He had no way of knowing, of course, if Anko even had the opportunity to give him the message, but at least he hoped so. A smile suddenly appeared on his face, when he saw the jounin sitting on the first counter of the ramen stand. Tonbo appeared to be talking to the ramen stand owner and his daughter, so the way it appeared, Tonbo was clueless when Naruto appeared inside and took the seating next to him. Of course, seeing that he didn't need to turn his head to look at his ex-student, Tonbo's line of sight remained forward. Naruto was doing the same, which was rather confusing to Teuchi and Ayame.

"Hi Tonbo-sensei, glad you could come." Tonbo could see Naruto smiling at him.

"It's been a while, Naruto-kun, you've grown quite a bit, since the last time we saw each other. I trust that Kurenai-san is treating you well."

"At first, she was the same as everyone, but in time, she got over it and we got along fine. I hear your genin team managed to pass the chunnin exams last year, congratulations Tonbo-sensei." A smile appeared on the man's face as the ramen was served. The two ate in silence for a while, as it was expected from them. Neither enjoyed a lively conversation; their company was enough. Tonbo, though, was analyzing Naruto the entire time. He heard from his peers that his ex-student was considered dangerous because of his new ability called Meiton ninjutsu. Despite what everyone said, though, Tonbo knew better than to believe them. He saw how people used to treat his student once and he was ninety nine percent certain that time did little to ease the tension whenever Naruto is around a civilian or even a ninja with a grudge.

Naruto's posture and awareness were evident to the jounin, as the genin no doubt have been practicing with great effort to overcome his lack of sight.

Those shinobi, that commented on him being dangerous to society, also complemented the boy on his skills. He remembered Kakashi-sempai telling him that Naruto managed to develop a healthy bond with Sasuke Uchiha, a prodigy from Naruto's class. Kakashi, at the time, attributed Naruto's ability to Tonbo's teachings, but actually, the jounin did very little in that regard, only giving Naruto the tools necessary to overcome such an obstacle. It was Naruto alone who crossed the bridge. Tonbo even saw the sword strapped on Naruto's back and smiled at the prospect of his ex-student learning the hidden art of kenjutsu. Overall, Naruto's growth was nothing short of amazing, especially considering that many even had doubt that he would be able to walk without proper assistance.

"Tell me Naruto, I've been hearing bits and pieces about your new skill, but I've never seen up close. I was wondering if you could provide a demonstration later on."

"Sure thing Tonbo-sensei; I was even wondering if I could solve something with you, regarding the chakra no Myaku technique." When Tonbo ushered him to speak, Naruto continued. "On my last mission to Wave Country, I ended up training a lot with Uchiha Sasuke. At the beginning, I was able to anticipate his movements and move accordingly. However, recently, he managed to completely evolve his Sharingan. Even now, I can anticipate his movements; however my body still can't react in time to avoid the hits. Do you happen to have a solution to this? If not, then tell me, then I'll start to think a way out…" Tonbo turned to think about it for a while. For someone his age, Tonbo actually faced less Uchihas then Naruto did. Those that were on his class always made fun of him for not being able to see, so they didn't bother to fight him.

"In some aspects, our ability is similar to the Sharingan, Naruto. Like them, we can predict the enemy's movements by hearing the noises created by the enemy's muscle joints. If what you say is true, than you just need more practice that's all. In time, your body will be more attuned and will learn to react faster. However, well, there is something you could do to diminish the time needed." That was the good news that Naruto was hoping to hear. Tonbo continued to explain, seeing as he finished his bow of ramen. "We always use chakra to increase our hearing perception, but what we shinobi don't realize is that even before the knowledge of chakra, blinded warriors managed the same level of hearing without it, perhaps even better. They would train their hearing sense so much that they could react as soon as the muscle is constricted, allowing the warrior to move even before the opponent begins to attack."

"I don't understand much what…."

"In our case, we move after the movement is performed, right?" Naruto nodded, so Tonbo continued. "What if, instead of waiting for your opponent to complete his movement, you anticipate his position and attack." The genin, then, tried imagining how Tonbo's theory would work in practice. He saw an image of a leg muscle constricting, before the opponent jumps to a certain location. Now, he started analyzing the movement in slow motion. The muscle would begin the constriction, but before its movement was complete, Naruto would be upon the enemy, forcing him to stop whatever he was about to do. He considered Tonbo's hypothesis as valid after that, but for it to happen, Naruto would have to eliminate all sorts of outside sounds and focus solely on the determined muscle.

"Wouldn't that be hard, I mean, there are lots of sounds on the battlefield. How can we focus only on the enemy's muscle?"

Tonbo nodded, though, because he was thinking the same thing.

"That's the point, isn't it? Our way of fighting is dirty, quite different from the samurai or a warrior. If we focus on muscles alone, the sound of a kunai may be missed and that's the end of it. However, I believe that with enough practice, we wouldn't have to focus solely on one point in particular, Naruto. As I taught you before, each of our five senses are powerful on its own right. Each one, if trained hard enough, could better assist the shinobi through the mission and I'm not speaking about blinded shinobi only. Perhaps, your friend Uchiha could aid you in this regard, seeing as aside from him, there isn't many genins who would oppose you in skill. The Sharingan is a powerful weapon, but the eyes alone aren't much if the body is underdeveloped. That means that Sasuke must train his speed constantly. You could use that to your advantage, Naruto."

"Of course, even if he managed to anticipate my movements, I could anticipate his afterwards as well. That way, I'll be able to move after he does."

Naruto may be adopted by the Sarutobi Clan, but Tonbo guessed that the genin ended up incorporating the clan's intellect. Of course, understanding the theory was one thing, but applying it to practice was another. Tonbo knew one thing, though, which he most admired in Naruto. There wasn't anything that Naruto couldn't do if he really wanted to. The boy's commitment towards improvement was off the charts and Tonbo had no doubt that the genin would be able to overcome said obstacle. They resumed talking for a while, when Kurenai walked inside the tent, greeting the two blinded shinobi. It was quite humorous to see that they greeted her as well, without even turning their heads to see her.

Obviously, by this time, she was accustomed to the fact that Naruto wouldn't need to face her, to start a conversation.

She told him that his team had a new C-ranked mission. Naruto apologized to his former sensei, but the man just nodded at him with a smile on his face, saying that Naruto could show his Meiton techniques another time. Tonbo just asked if Kurenai could give them some time alone, since he wanted to tell something to Naruto; something that he wanted his student to know, given the boy's actions since he learned the use of dark chakra. The woman was able to sense the seriousness behind Tonbo's voice and nodded to the man, only telling Naruto that he needed to meet her at the gates in two hour and he was supposed to pack for a week long trip.

"I was hoping to talk to you after your demonstration Naruto, but I guess now is as good time as any." Naruto could see that the man's heart was beating fast, meaning that, whatever he wished to discuss, was a sensitive manner. "Hokage-sama explained to me how your Meiton techniques work. Although both you and I are surrounded by darkness, it doesn't mean that our actions have to be guided by it as well. The chakra no Myaku technique is a blessing to us since it allows us to overcome darkness. I know that the angrier you feel, the more powerful you become. I know that you didn't start any of the fights you've been involved in, but you must learn how to better direct your anger." Tonbo didn't know how to ask this of his student, but it was for the best. He didn't want to see Naruto having to defend himself his entire life. The genin remained silent for a while, absorbing what Tonbo said to him. So far, there wasn't any reason for him to believe that Tonbo was against his actions regarding those who believed he was the demon.

He could see concern coming from his sensei. Naruto's mouth showed a timid smile at the man's concern.

"I know that I can't act like I used to against those who wronged me, hence why the attacks ceased when I became a genin; whether the headband is the reason or not, it's irrelevant. Don't worry Tonbo-sensei, I have those who see me for me. There is you, my family, my team…to me it's enough. However, while I won't use my techniques against civilians anymore, I can't say the same with chunnins and jounins. Every time I walk throughout the streets, I can sense people's hatred directed at me. Who's to say that a chunnin or even a jounin wouldn't attack me? I'm not saying that I would move for the kill, but I'd punish them just as they would do, if I was caught." Upon hearing it, Tonbo sighed in dismay. He supposed it was a victory, considering that Naruto would put it past him, the civilians' actions. But he couldn't say the same for the shinobi population. In the end, though, the man believed that any higher ranking official, who dared to attack a genin, would have to suffer punishment for it.

"I can see your reasoning Naruto but you can see my concern. Just remember this, though, darkness is all around us, but it can't dictate our actions. Now, I believe you must pack for your mission."

The two blinded shinobi said their goodbyes to one another, before Naruto left in a shunshin. Tonbo left the Ramen stand afterwards and wondered if he should warn the Hokage in case of Naruto killing a chunnin or a jounin. He chose not to. If some chunnin or jounin attacks Naruto, for no reason besides a misguided hatred, then the man would have deserved his punishment. Placing both hands inside his pockets, the blind jounin started to walk throughout the populated streets. He could see that Kakashi was coming in his direction. As soon as their paths were crossed, Tonbo used the opportunity to report his attempts to the elite jounin.

"There is no reason for worry, sempai." Kakashi just nodded, while maintaining his path towards nowhere. However, the smile on his face was quite evident besides his mask.

===With Naruto===

As soon as Naruto closed the door of his house, his technique warned him of someone coming straight at him. The genin just sighed at the attacker's attempts and took one small step to the right just as little Konohamaru passed by him. The little Sarutobi fell on the floor hard, but he didn't cry because of it. He took a seat on the ground and started nurturing his nose. It wasn't broken, but it was hurting a lot. Despite it all, he looked at Naruto and wasn't surprised to see that his big brother was smiling at Konohamaru, something that the kid never enjoyed it. He wanted to be as good as his brother was, but he couldn't catch him off guard.

"Ah Naruto-niisan, you're so mean. How do you even know I was coming?" The genin kneeled and helped his little brother up.

"I use chakra for that Otouto, you know that. Now, I can see that your speed improved since last time. It took a second more for me to spot your attack. Tou-san must be training you hard, I see." Right now, the two brothers were walking towards the living room.

"Yes, he is. I want to be as strong as you are someday. You are blind, yet you are one of the strongest genins in Konoha. That's amazing Niisan." Boys his age tended to exaggerate on things, but still Naruto was curious.

"Who told you I'm one of the strongest?" He saw his mother entering the room.

"I did, who else?" Mikoto said, before Konohamaru embraced her affectionately. "I wouldn't take you for modest Naruto-kun. Everyone has been speaking highly of your achievements thus far. Your mission to Wave Country it's still the talk amongst the chunnins and jounins. It's not every day you stand up against one of the Seven Swordsmen and survive. And since then, you managed to show everyone how skilled you became. I'm quite proud of you, son. We all are." Naruto smiled at his mother's complements and nodded at her. Naruto didn't know many of the genins in Konoha, which is why he was curious when Konohamaru said he was one of the strongest.

"Thanks Kaa-san. We have another C-ranked mission that starts in two hours. Kurenai-sensei hasn't told much about it, though. I have to go pack." The woman nodded and kissed his head, before taking Konohamaru towards the kitchen to give him something to eat. Naruto watched them go with a smile on his face. He remembered what Tonbo-sensei said, and somehow, he almost understood what he was saying. He had people to protect. Memories from what Haku said to him now appeared in his mind. He went upstairs and started packing the essentials. Given the fact that Kurenai didn't give him an estimate on how long they would be gone, then packing clothes and supplies wasn't necessary. So, he equipped both pouches with shuriken, kunai and some trip wire, just in case. He took one last look at his sword and studied it for a second with his hand. By slowly feeling the metal, he could tell if it he could use it on the mission. His dad always advised him to do that. It was meant as some form of ritual, before a fight or a mission. Apart from finding eventual cracks, these few minutes would allow him to free his mind off anything that wasn't related to the mission or the fight ahead.

Distractions could kill you, his tou-san said many times.

Once he packed everything he needed for the trip, Naruto left his house towards the gates. He still had half an hour left, but he at least could get the mission briefing if Kurenai, or even one of his teammates, was already there waiting.

===At the Gates===

True to Naruto's plan, Kurenai was already there waiting for her team. Upon arriving, she told him that the others were already briefed, so he was the last to know about the mission. According to the woman, their team was supposed to deliver a scroll handed by the Hokage to a jounin that was stationed at the border between Fire and Wind Country. Kurenai reasoned that given the unimportance of the information, at least as enemies were concerned, their team wouldn't meet any opposition along the way. Naruto nodded and waited for his teammates to arrive. Shino was the second to arrive with Hinata close by. Overall, the entire team was only late for five minutes, so Kurenai didn't reprimand them.

"Okay team, let's go…our objective is at least two days from here. Naruto will lead and Hinata will take the rear. Shino and I will be on the middle. Hinata, your Byakugan will aid us in spotting enemies from all directions. Naruto's technique will serve to scout ahead while Shino will use his bugs to form a perimeter around us. As I said to Naruto, it's my fair belief that we won't encounter any enemies, bandits quite possibly, but not other shinobi." The three genins nodded at their sensei, before charging towards the border between Fire and Wind Country. As per Kurenai's orders, Naruto was the one leading the squad and Hinata was the last one, using her Byakugan on occasion to see enemies from almost every direction. Kurenai looked at her team with a mix of pride and worry. She was privy by the Hokage regarding her team's real mission. While she knew that Naruto was capable of holding his own against chunnin level shinobi, she wasn't sure about Shino and Hinata. And if push comes to shove and the enemy manages to handle Kurenai and Naruto, then the other two would be on their own.

The fact that the other jounin would be present as well was a blessing, but still from what she understood, the number of enemies was an unknown factor.

Worst of it all was that the Hokage knew about this and instead of sending a highly qualified full assault team, he sent her team instead.

The Hokage wanted to send Kakashi's team, because this happened to be their field of expertise; however they were selected for another mission, something about bandits raiding a small village near Takigakure. The Hokage assured her that the jounin that was stationed would be able to handle anything related to C, B and even A ranked missions, so she shouldn't be worried for her team's safety. Kurenai admitted that the man they were about to meet was no pushover. He was a former Anbu, close to Kakashi's level and one of Konoha's best swordsmen. Nevertheless, a ninja is always supposed to trust his or her instincts and Kurenai never betrayed hers. Despite having two jounins on this mission, she would play cautious with her genins.

They are her responsibility after all.

After close to six hours travelling, Kurenai decided to call in for the day and ordered her team to make camp. Her decision was due to two factors. One, It was almost night time, so it was prudent to travel only with daylight. The other factor was both Hinata and Shino's chakra reserves. Because of the Kikaichuu, most of Shino's chakra served to feed the bugs, hence why he couldn't travel long distances, yet. His chakra coils are still developing, after all. Hinata was using her Byakugan constantly and was tired after a while. She didn't need to worry about Naruto, seeing as he had more stamina and chakra than, perhaps, a jounin. She even dared saying that his capacity surpassed hers. Kurenai always used genjutsu techniques, so her chakra coils were never truly tested. As a result, her chakra capacity suffered for it. Now, though, was too late as her chakra coils were already formed. She wasn't complaining, though.

She used a couple of ninjutsu here and there, but her style was her illusions. After a quick dinner, the team went to sleep with each ninja performing guard duty for two hours each.

Shino was first, Naruto was second, followed by Hinata and then Kurenai. When it came to Naruto's turn, he climbed a considerably tall tree and used a small log to get comforted, while he begins to mediate. His goal was to improve his hearing, without the use of chakra. According to Tonbo-sensei, by further improving his hearing capabilities, his ability to predict the enemy's movement would increase as well. He cleared his mind out of everything that could interrupt his concentration and just picked on the noises supplied by nature. He could hear the delicate sounds of a nearby water stream and even the relaxed sound of a small waterfall a couple meters to his right. Part of his training involved not only to hear the sounds, but to pinpoint where they were coming from. The blond was rather amused when a strong noise invaded his ears. Despite Shino's calm and rather collective nature, when he went to sleep, he ended up snoring a lot. Naruto didn't mind, neither did his teammates, so he focused on other sounds provided by nature.

Lots of animals were making their presence known, each with their respective sound. Naruto could hear owls from his left; he could hear monkeys presumably talking between each other, perhaps, on top a tree located a couple meters from his location. He could also pinpoint several fireflies emitting its high pitched noises, but he couldn't count exactly how many. It took some chakra for him to do that. As he focused chakra for his seeing technique, he realized that he enjoyed such exercises. He concluded that every chance he got, he would stop and listen for a while, trying to deduce the one responsible for the sound and its location.

===Two days later===

Two days later, the group arrived at their destination. The border between Fire and Wind Country wasn't a specific location. Its division only existed in maps, but as far as mission went, it was considered a specified location. However, Team 8 looked around for any presence that would indicate their objective's position. The area was empty, except for a few trees located on Fire Country's side. A few dead logs completed the scenery. Hinata was busy scouting the area with her Byakugan, but she had no such luck. Whoever the jounin was, he was nowhere to be seen. Kurenai already knew that the man's skill in avoiding detection, even from the byakugan, but she didn't say anything. She also couldn't pinpoint his location, but she was no tracking specialist.

The group was slightly surprised when a sudden blur appeared in front of them, revealing the jounin from Konohagakure.

"Greetings, Kurenai-san, what brings you here?" The man wore the standard jounin attire, except that instead of long sleeves, his was short, like a T-shirt. He had gray hair and a small ponytail. Kurenai's team could see a small scar located close to his mouth and a ninjato strapped on his waist. The fact that neither one of the genins managed to spot his location left them bewildered. All three of them happened to possess skills related to tracking others. Hinata had the Byakugan, Shino had his kikaichuu and Naruto used his chakra to see around him.

"Greetings, Hayama-san, we were sent by Hokage-sama to deliver you this scroll."

The jounin took the scroll and opened it, while Kurenai and her team waited his response. Seeing as the team's experience with missions of this caliber, the genins weren't certain of what to do next. It was their fair belief that once the scroll was delivered, the mission was completed. When Kurenai just stood there, waiting for the man to finish reading, the genins started looking at each other for an explanation. Hayama sighed once, before closing the scroll and burning it right in front of them, much to everyone's shock, except Kurenai. It was standard procedure to get rid of the message, after receiving it. Who knew what could happen if an enemy village took a hold of a mission report signed by the Sandaime Hokage of Konohagakure.

"So, you four are the backup I requested."

Hayama knew from the scroll that they weren't briefed properly regarding the second part of their mission. Seeing the look on their faces, he decided to explain. The blond genin wasn't looking directly at him, which bothered him a bit. He didn't know Naruto's condition, so he figured that the boy was ignoring him. Despite this, he began the explanation. "A few miles away from here, in Wind Country's territory, a village is being terrorized by missing-nins recently and the village leader requested help to the Wind Daimyou. The man, for some reason, hired Konoha instead of Sunagakure to see what was going on. I was dispatched by Hokage-sama to scout the area and see what was really happening. The missing-nins' identities are unknown, which means that their skills aren't too threatening. However, when I assume they lack in skill, their numbers ends up compensating. From what I could gather, there are a total of ten missing-nins, four from Kirigakure, three from Kumogakure and the rest is from Takigakure. The second part of my mission, which now became yours; it's a B-ranked, regarding the capture of these missing-nins, if possible. We are allowed to kill them, if capture is impossible."

When the expression 'B-ranked' was spoken, the genins visibly flinched. It was understandable, seeing as they left Konoha for a simple C-ranked mission and it turned into a B-ranked.

"Now, I already know Kurenai-san's abilities and since I'm the leader of this mission, I have to take your skills into consideration so that I could devise a suitable strategy. I've worked together with the Aburame and Hyuuga Clan before, so I have a pretty decent knowledge of the two of you." He, then, turned to Naruto. "I don't know much about you, though. Who are you and what are your skills?" Naruto was at first surprised that the man asked his name, because he guessed that every single human being in Konoha already knew his name, because of what he contained. Despite it all, he answered the question as accurately as he could.

"My name is Sarutobi Naruto, Hayama-taichou. I focus in Elemental ninjutsu, genjutsu and kenjutsu. My element is lightning and I possess the ability of using dark chakra techniques." Despite the man's stoic expression on his face, he felt like punching himself repeatedly. He knew who Naruto was, the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki. When the boy was born, he had joined Anbu and thus he had private access to any available information there was about the jinchuuriki. He even knew what the boy meant by dark chakra techniques. Hayama, like every Anbu, didn't think badly of Naruto. But he admitted not caring much about him. He was surprised, upon remembering that Naruto had lost his sight right after birth. So, now, it wasn't such a surprise that Naruto wasn't looking at him.

"Okay, everyone, the village is in siege right now and the missing-nins took control. We cannot just barge inside and attack them. First, because I couldn't see any villagers, which means that if anything happens to them, the villagers may be harmed. Secondly, we don't know what their skills are. Besides their village of origin, we don't have much to work on. So, basically, we're going in blind. Since you three are Kurenai's genins, I'll presume that you understand the art of illusions. Here is the plan I came up with…" Hayama began to explain what he believed was the proper action plan in order to regain the control of the village.

===the village===

Kegon was busy protecting the village's entrance as the leader of the organization instructed him to. Kegon was a C-ranked missing-nin from Takigakure. He was kicked out of the village once the village leader caught him threatening a civilian. He had black hair, a black goatee and he wore a simple green t-shirt and black Anbu style pants. He was cursing each second there as, according to his called comrades, he was doing the mission a favor by guarding the village. Kegon knew, better than most, the reason why he was the one chosen to guard the village entrance. He was the weakest of them all, so it was only fair to give him such a low-class assignment. The man was surprised once he felt something wrong, all of a sudden. The sky was, slowly, losing its blue color and he was he could feel tension all around him as if an enemy was nearby. His senses were on edge the entire time and he even grabbed a kunai in preparation for the assault. His comrades would regret underestimating him.

The man was shocked when in front of him, hundreds of kunais travelled towards his position.

GenMeiton Kuroiya no Kunai (Dark Illusion: Rain of Black Kunai Technique)

A drop of sweat appeared on his face as he realized that he just couldn't dodge all of them. He closed his eyes, waiting for the impact. When he didn't feel metal piercing his skin, he opened his eyes and saw that the kunais were passing right through him as if it were just ghosts. Kegon smirked, knowing this to be a genjutsu and hence it consisted of confusing his senses. But he wouldn't fall for such a low trick. He smirked knowing that he could defeat the attacker, when he suddenly flinched in desperate pain. He looked down and widened his eyes upon seeing a lone kunai piercing his chest. He was dead before he even had time to ponder anything. Before his body fell on the ground, the five shinobi from Konoha appeared and took his body, so that no one discovered their position. After placing him behind a faraway tree, Kurenai congratulated Naruto on the job well done with his new genjutsu technique. Of course for her to realize what Naruto just did, she was subjected, a couple weeks ago to the technique. The only real aspect of the technique was the kunai that was on the man's chest.

One down, nine to go.

After Hinata pinpointed everyone's position, Hayama gathered everyone and declared the initiation of the plan. They would be dividing in three groups. Naruto and Shino would form a pair and enter the village through the right side. According to Hinata, there are two missing-nins there, both from Kumogakure. Kurenai and Hinata will attack from the left side, where two Sunagakure missing-nins are located. Hayama would go alone towards the south entrance of the village. He would take care of the rest missing-nins. From what Hinata could tell, the majority of the missing-nins were C-ranked at best, but there was one that appeared to be stronger, almost jounin level. From the Hyuuga's description, it appeared to be Suien, A-ranked missing-nin from Takigakure. He conspired against his home village, aiming to steal the hero water. Hayama needed to be careful, seeing as he had to defeat not only Suien, but the rest of the missing-nins as well.

"Naruto, Shino…I'm afraid I'll be needing assistance from you two. Suien is an A-ranked missing-nin. I can take him one on one, but the rest of the missing-nins will be a bother. I'm counting on you two to deal with them." Both genins nodded, before each group went to different routes.

===Naruto and Shino===

Both genins were hiding behind the bushed as they spotted the two targets up ahead. Like Hinata explained, they were both from Kumogakure, but while the hidden village in the cloud was famous for producing top-notch shinobi, these two looked like they couldn't scare academy students. They both wore the standard chunnin attire from the village. The one from the right side had short black hair and he wore a pair of glasses. The other one, from the left, also wore glasses, but his were sunglasses like Shino used. He was bald and had dark skin. Overall, if appearances were true, they would look like fresh out of the academy genins. Analyzing the situation a bit, Naruto turned to Shino.

"We can't allow them to know of our position, Shino. We need to strike fast and precise. Here is the plan, you use a altering perception genjutsu on both of them and I'll take care of the rest, sounds good?" Shino had enough interaction with the blinded shinobi and just nodded.

Shino focused some chakra for his genjutsu technique, before they saw the Kumo missing-nins looking around frantically, wondering what the hell was going on. Naruto nodded and began his own series of hand seals.

Meiton Kuro Senbon (Dark Release: Dark Needles Technique)

The needles travelled fast and hit both missing-nins in almost every possible location on their bodies. The two of them were down for the count as Shino ordered his bugs to stop their fall and bring them to the Aburame's location. Hayama almost exhausted himself saying that the moment the enemy realizes that something was wrong, their mission was over. At least, until they caught all of the missing-nins, every villager was in danger. No one knew what happened to the villagers, but they presumed that after dealing with the missing-nins, they would search for the villagers afterwards. After dealing with the two kumogakure missing-nins, Naruto and Shino managed to infiltrate the village from their side. They were now hidden behind the last building as Naruto looked around a bit. He couldn't see movement from the street in front of them and he couldn't hear anything either. Even if the missing-nins had taken everyone hostages, the villagers would be kept somewhere. A lone insect left Shino's sleeve, surprising Naruto for a moment, before he nodded at his partner's initiative. A swarm of insects would alert the enemy but one wouldn't strike out as odd to them. For now, their path was to advance towards the other missing-nins, in order to aid the jounin Hayama.

Naruto at first thought about checking if Kurenai and Hinata were okay.

But they could handle themselves right now. Hayama was the most pressing concern, seeing as he was up against the strongest missing-nin. Upon hearing that this Suien person was possibly the same level as Zabuza surprised Naruto. He wondered if Hayama would be able to defend himself against the man and the other missing-nins. Moving with deadly efficiency and stealth, Shino and Naruto moved towards the location where the missing-nins were located. Their presence should only be revealed when at least the numbers were even. In order to avoid detection, both Naruto and Shino used a cloaking genjutsu around themselves, in order to avoid detection as they moved from building to building, towards their final target. AS they approached, the sound of metal clashing against metal and water jutsus showed them that the fight started.

True to Naruto's hearing, Hayama was doing his best in defending himself against Suien and three other missing-nins from Takigakure. As it appeared, the enemy knew only suiton jutsus, but that didn't mean they were weak, far from it. Zabuza only knew suiton jutsu and he was one of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist. Getting into position, Naruto signaled for Shino to cover him, while he prepared for his attack. Even if the enemy sensed the sudden flux of chakra, he wouldn't be able to react in time to stop it. Beginning the long hand seal sequence, Naruto's hands began to spark in electricity.

Raiton Raikou no Ookami (Lightning Release: Lighting Wolf Technique)

From the energy that left his hand, a growling wolf charged at the unsuspecting enemy from Waterfall. When the missing-nin turned, he was shocked to see a blue wolf already inches from his position. When the attack made contact, the missing-nin screamed to the heavens as his body was bombarded with lightning. Naruto knew that a lightning technique was the most indicated, seeing as the man was a suiton user. Despite the fact that lightning was most effective against earth techniques, water is considered the best conduit for energy. So, instead of a quick and painless kill, the missing-nin suffered ever second, before falling on the ground. The fight stopped immediately and Hayama thanked the heavens that the boys gave him an opening to rest. Suien was a much stronger opponent than Hayama gave him credit for.

The other missing-nin from Takigakure attempted to attack Naruto, but he was surprised when a bunch of insects surrounded him and started sucking his chakra dry.

He was unconscious soon afterwards. Hayama took the opportunity and attacked Suien with his sword. As soon as he was within striking distance, he focused a great load of chakra and channeled it towards his ninjato.

Fuuton Shinkuken (Wind Release: Shock Blade Technique)

Suien was caught by surprise but managed to create a sword made of water quickly, blocking the attack. From that point on, the two high ranked shinobi engaged in pure kenjutsu battle, while Naruto and Shino dealt with the other missing-nin kunoichi. The woman had that arrogant look on her face and her outfit betrayed every standard notion there is to know about ninjas. She wore a gray dress a blue scarf around her neck. Despite this, Naruto could feel great chakra capacity from her. He grabbed his sword and charged at the woman, who like Suien, created a water sword and parried the blond's strike. Her skills with the sword were better than Naruto and her speed was superior to his.

She managed to force Naruto back, before transforming her sword into a water whip and hit the blind boy twice. Naruto, though, managed to grab the water whip after the second hit and focused lightning chakra through it. The kunoichi named Hisame was experienced and let go of the technique, before the current reached her. Shino used his bugs to charge at her, but her agility allowed her to escape. The bugs relented, though, and Hisame was forced to keep dodging. Naruto took the opportunity and prepared to catch her off guard. The woman was of a higher level than they had anticipated. Still, Naruto could feel that the woman was the kind of person that wouldn't be able to escape his technique. He had to thank Shino for the needed distraction.

Hisame was cursing the relentless bugs as she tried using her water ninjutsu against them. Even if she managed to take one or two, it was impossible to take them all with water. When the woman backed away one more time, she was surprised when from below the ground; black tendrils appeared trapping her. The woman snarled at her lack of attention for the other genin as she saw him in front of her with a smirk on his face. She snarled at him, even yelling him to let her go, but every time she did so, she felt the tendrils squeezing her harder. Not able to use her hands, she couldn't use jutsus to save her life, so she resorted to brute strength in a vague attempt to escape the tendrils.

It was her second and last mistake.

"No matter what you do, the angrier you are, the stronger those tendrils will become." By now, her anger was substituted by excruciating pain as the tendrils began to draw blood from the missing-nin. Eventually, the woman passed out from the pain and Naruto decided to release the tendrils, before the woman fell on the ground. Shino's bugs did their part and sucked her chakra dry. Afterwards, Shino and Naruto turned to see the jounin level battle just as Suien finished a long series of hand seals.

Suiton Suiryuudan no Jutsu (Water Release: Water Dragon Projectile Technique)

Hayama was already focusing chakra through his sword once more as he used the same technique he used to attack Suien earlier. The strong wind force was enough to hold the water dragon for a while, until he was able to dodge the technique. Hayama, then, whispered some incoherent words, before he multiplied. Suddenly, two versions of him attacked from both sides and Suien wasn't sure what was going on. After both copies of Hayama passed by him, Suien turned to his back, but he couldn't see either one of the copies. The man saw the shadow on the floor, but was too late to stop Hayama for using his sword and decapitated the missing-nin, just as Hinata and Kurenai arrived with their captured missing-nins. After every missing-nin was dealt with, Hayama turned to his team.

"Well, the missing-nins were dealt with, but we still have to locate the villagers."

Everyone saw a lone bug flying towards Shino, before landing on his fingernail.

"The villagers are inside a cave two miles east from this location. Naruto, Hinata and Kurenai smirked at their comrade and Hayama nodded. Shino was an Aburame after all.

Eventually, the villagers were freed from their cages and the ninjas from Konoha returned to their home village, taking both the dead and the captured missing-nins for the proper bounties later.

Author Note

So, what you all think?

As I said, this chapter was the bridge towards the beginning of the Chunnin Exams arc.

See ya next chapter.