Here we are at Chapter 10. I am very sorry that this took so long to turn out, but Life has been demanding my constant attention. In case you all need a re-cap, please read back a few chapters to get up to speed.

AREA 44 CENTRAL TOWER...

Four days had passed by for Team 7 very slowly, since they had been watching the Oto Team very closely, mostly Saki. She had done nothing hostile during that period, most likely ordered to keep a low profile and not attack anyone until told to do so. Orochimaru had made no moves out of the ordinary, except that he was exhausting every resource he had trying to find out what had happened to the Uchiha he desired only to find out that the three brats in the forest were telling the truth, that Sasuke was serving a twenty year sentence in the highest security wing of the most notorious prison in the Elemental Countries. Breaking him out would be one hell of a feat, even for him.

During their stay in the tower, they ran into Haruna, who was in charge of the medical station there in the tower for the exams along with Yui being her assistant and head nurse. Haruna was surprized to see that they had passed this portion of the exam so quickly, but at the mention of Orochimaru, her danger senses slammed into overdrive. She had known about the devious fallen Sannin, feeling ill at ease around him when he was still a Konoha shinobi. The fact that he was lurking within the forest and looking for the Uchiha was nothing but bad news. She kept it on the DL, but she knew that she had to be vigilant.

Now...The time limit for the second exam had finally expired. All of the Konoha Rookie teams had made it to the tower safely along with the Suna and Oto teams and one more Konoha team, but one of their number (*Cough...Kabuto!) bowing out, making a total of 20 Genin that had advanced to the final round. All of them had been gathered in tthe arena to hear a speech from the Sandaime, who stepped up to the dais and cleared his throat. He gave a speech on what the Chuunin Exams really were, just small proxy wars that were fought to prevent major wars from breaking out. Some of the genin protested to being used in such a way, but he would not hear of it. He continued to explain until a Jounin asked something of him.

"Hokage-sama...I believe that I should be the one to explain this part as the proctor of this portion of the exam." A sickly looking man interjected.

"Ah...You are correct, Hayate-san. I'll let you take over from here." Sarutobi stated as he stepped aside.

"I am Hayate Gekkou, the proctor of the third exam. From this point onward, your individual abilities will be tested, pitting you against one another in one on one combat. I believe you know the rules...Any tools are allowed but interferance is not. Other than that, anything goes." The sickly jounin explained Anko turned their attention to a large display board.

"Up here, the combatants will be displayed. When your name comes up and ONLY when that happens, you will hustle your little asses down here and get ready to fight." The Snake Mistress ordered crisply as the names flashed at random, running through them for a few moments before it settled on two.

KIN TSUCHI Vs. TENTEN

"First match? I can live with that." Tenten hummed as she hopped down to the floor.

"Let's do this." Kin stated to herself as she too hopped down to meet her opponent, a fellow kunoichi as Hayate met them in the middle.

"Now...Let's have a good fight. Ready?...FIGHT!" He announced, the two kunoichi simply studying each other.

'Hmm...What can she do? I need to test her without giving anything up.' The weapons specialist mused as she darted in and engaged her in a brief Taijutsu bout to gauge what her specialty was.

Kin was surprized that this Konoha kunoichi was as skilled as she was, believeing that most were pampered fangirls nowadays, struggling to defend herself against the brown haired girl's furious assualt. Palming some senbon, she used them as a pair of improvised claws to add some range and authority to her attacks. Tenten spotted this and backed off for a moment to digest what she'd learned, only for her to launch the senbon at her, forcing her to dodge again to think.

'Not much in the Taijutsu department, so she must be a Ninjutsu or Genjutsu-type and judging on what I can feel, she's a Genjutsu user. Easy pickings as long as I keep her from casting anything.' Tenten thought as Kin was having her own inner pow wow.

'Dammit...She's a much better fighter than I thought. This one takes her training seriously. I KNOW she's not the Nin or Genjutsu type, so I just need to stay out of her reach, pepper her, then finish her off.' Kin reasoned as she withdrew more senbon.

"Time for the main course." Tenten smiled ferally as she pulled out a storage scroll and took out a wooden staff, giving it a few twirls for effect as Kin's eyes widened.

"Oh crap..." Kin muttered as her opponent shot in again.

She was forced to dodge the incoming blow that would have rendered her unconscious and a follow-up kick that clipped her side. The Oto girl cursed the fact that not all of her senbon were in place yet to activate her genjutsu, so she was forced to play this cat and mouse game with a girl who seemed to be carrying around a weapon stores worth of sharp, pointy objects. Finally, she found an opening and threw the last senbon she needed and rang the bells attached, the ringing combined with her Genjutsu bringing Tenten to her knees with nausea.

"No more shooting gallery for you." Kin smirked as she sauntered up to her immobilized target.

'Shit! What the hell is this?! How do you dispel genjutsu again? Oh yeah! Pain!' She thought quickly as she bit down on her tongue, drawing blood but her vision and senses returning to normal.

She kept up the facade of being incapacitated just to draw her victim in closer.

'Yeah...That's right...Just as little closer and it's light's out.' Tenten smirked inwardly as her target was finally in range.

"Sorry, tree hugger, but I win." Kin stated, but her target snapped up and served up a line drive with a mighty swing of her staff, putting all of her strength into the blow.

"Nope...Goodnight." Tenten quipped with a slight smirk.

"Wow..." Neji commented, stunned at what his kunoichi teammate had just pulled off.

"That was amazing!" Lee hollared at the top of his lungs.

'Ouch...That's going to leave a mark...' Dosu grimaced and shuddered as Tenten was declared the winner, Kin being scraped off of the opposing wall by the medical team and helped into the infirmry as the next pair was shown.

TEMARI Vs. NEJI HYUUGA

"A Hyuuga, huh? Too bad I won't let him in close." Temari smirked, leaping down to the arena floor.

"So...One of those Suna Genin? I just hope she will be a challenge." Neji harrumphed as he walked downstairs, the two meeting in the middle.

"Heh...'Mari's got this in the bag. Hyuuga's have to get in close to use their skills." Kankurou chuckled.

"This one is supposed to be a prodigy among even the Hyuuga, so do not get careless." Baki, the Suna sensei chided as they paid attention to the match.

"Second match...Temari versus Neji Hyuuga...FIGHT!"

Temari wasted no time in launching wind blasts at Neji, who was hard put to dodge them until one caught him dead in the chest, launching him back into the wall and forced him to re-evaluate his opponent.

'She can use wind blasts from that fan to keep me at a distance. I need to close in somehow...' Neji thought, wishing he could use those Kage Bunshin Naruto could toss around, but he had been told of the horrendous chakra cost for just a few of them. They would suck him dry in mere moments.

However, thinking of the cagey blond made him remember one of the things he was notorious for, his pranks and tricks. He had learned this much from Hinata, who does nothing but try to emulate him and idolize him, Hanabi even learning a trick or two from the devious Genin. He reached into his pouch and palmed a handful of smoke balls, thinking up of a distraction. This may not be the way a proper Hyuuga would fight, but he didn't feel like finding a solution the painful way.

"So...You must use that fan for your jutsu...Unique." Neji commented, tensing as he readied himself to dodge.

"Yep. Too bad I'll just blow you away, though." Temar bantered back as she lashed out again, the wind blast hitting near Neji's feet.

He anchored himself to the ground with his chakra and created a quick bunshin, looking like it had been hurt and winded while he followed the dust cloud. As it cleared, she did just as he hoped, concentrate on the clone while he was unnoticed. As soon as she closed in on the clone, he chucked the pellets at her, causing the entire floor to be covered in smoke and it allowed him to use his Byakugan to move in and take her out before she could react. Once the smoke cleared out, all they saw was Temari face down, unable to move with Neji standing over her.

"Naruto-kun...He used one of your pranks!" Kurumi pointed out.

"I'll be damned...He did." Naruto breathed.

Neji had loosened up quite a bit after their teams had clashed and had even asked for advice on how to be more unpredictable, since it seemed to work for Naruto.

"I can't believe that you actually pulled a trick..." Tenten muttered in a daze.

"Even I could stand to learn something from this village's top trickster. As he said to me, we are ninja, after all." Neji replied, drowning out the cries of youth and such from Gai and Lee.

"Looks like you've rubbed off on some people, Naruto." Kakashi chuckled as the matches went on.

CHOUJI AKIMICHI Vs. SAKI

The entireity of Team 7's eyes went wide, but knew that they couldn't say anything out loud. Kakashi simply walked over to Asuma to speak with him as Chouji made his way down there.

"Aw, man...I feel kinda bad about fighting a girl." Chouji whined, but set off an indignant Ino.

"You spar with me all the time! I'm not a girl?!" Ino yelled.

"Yeah, but...You, me, and Shika all grew up together though..." Chouji replied meekly as Shikamaru spoke out.

"C'mon, Ino...Cut him some slack." He muttered as the rotund genin continued downstairs.

Over on the otherside, Oto's Jounin whispered instructions to the Steel Angel.

"Do not kill, but feel free to inflict as much pain as you wish. A death here would bring about suspicion." He whispered.

"Yes, master." She replied in dead monotone as she lept down there to face him.

In the stands, Kakashi ran over to Asuma.

"Asuma...Tell him to forfeit, NOW!" Kakashi urged.

"But...Why? It's nothing he can't handle." Asuma reasoned.

"You don't get it...That girl is dangerous. It's like she's not human!" Kakashi tried to convince him without spilling the beans completely.

"You're not giving Chouji enough credit...So just stand back and watch." Asuma retorted as the match started.

'W-wow! She's kinda hot!' Chouji blushed as he readied himself to fight.

"Okay...Third match, ready...FIGHT!" Hayate announced as he got back, Chouji wasting no time in engaging his opponent with an enlarged fist...

But sadly...His powerful attack had been stopped cold by a single hand. The girl didn't even flinch.

"What...The hell?" Chouji stammered as everyone else went wide eyed.

"How the hell did she do that?" Shikamaru asked, stunned that this girl accomplished what even their sensei couldn't...Just like that Kurumi girl.

"Dammit, Asuma...Stop the match!" Kakashi urged, but Asuma was too stunned to do anything.

"CHOUJI! JUST QUIT! SHE'LL KILL YOU!" Naruto bellowed, but he was ignored.

"Life termination prohibited. Commencing target destruction." Saki uttered in her dead, hollow voice as she wrenched down on the large fist, managing to break a few bones in his wrist before he yanked himself free.

"Wh-what the hell is she?" Chouji wondered as he went for the big guns.

NIKUDAN SENSHA!

Chouji expanded himself to many times his normal size and began to bear down on his opponent, intent on flattening her before she could do more damage. Saki just watched impassively as he careened toward her and just before he reached her, she plunged her fist into the fleshy boulder, stopping it dead in it's tracks. Chouji then reverted to normal size, but there was something wrong as Hayate moved in to check on him. His eyes went wide as he bellowed out for the medics to come, himself stopping the match.

"Winner is Saki form Oto!" He quickly announced, Saki walking back to where she was while the medics worked on the downed boy, whose coloring was beginning to fade as Doctor Haruno rushed out there.

"This is bad...He has multiple internal ruptures and bleeding. I can treat him here, but we need to move now!" She ordered her medics to quickly get the boy into the E.R.

"I...I didn't know..." Asuma stammered at how is team's physically strongest and toughest member was completely destroyed in two moves.

"I tried to warn you...Just...Go see your student." Kakashi said as Asuma did just that while Shikamaru walked over to Team 7.

"You know something about her...Don't you?" He stated more than asked.

"...We can't tell you, Shika. Just...go make sure Chouji's alright." Naruto said firmly, Shikamaru narrowing his eyes but told as he was told, an extremely worried Ino following him.

"...I wish I had drawn her...Only a Steel Angel can match a Steel Angel in strength." Kurumi murmured.

"Chouji's tough...He'll be fine." Sakura said, trying to reassure both Kurumi and herself.

'These Angels can truly be terrifying...Her eyes, they do not show the life Kurumi's do, but are those of a lifeless doll. Only Orochimaru could be so sick and twisted...' Sarutobi scowled.

"Destruction complete, master." Saki told Orochimaru, who chuckled cruelly.

"Yes...Indeed it is, Saki-chan." He replied as the next match was announced.

KURUMI Vs. ROCK LEE

"YOSH! ONCE AGAIN, I AM GIVEN THE CHANCE TO WIN OVER THE BEAUTIFUL KURUMI-CHAN! I SHALL POUR ALL OF MY YOUTH INTO THIS FIGHT!" Lee howled to the world while Kurumi grimaced.

"This guy again?" The Steel Angel groaned.

"You beat him once, Rumi-chan...You can do it again!" Naruto encouraged.

"I know you can take this guy. Kick his ass!" Sakura cheered as Kurumi felt pumped up and ready to fight, hopping down there to face him.

"I'm warning you...I only belong to Naruto-kun!" Kurumi growled, but Lee was pretty thick-headed.

"I shall win you over with the power of my youth!" Lee declared as he got into his Goken stance, Kurumi mirroring him and that drew a few gasps.

"She watched us train and I believe she has quite the photographic memory. However, she asked me for permission to use it and I allowed it." Gai assured calmly.

"Wow sensei...I thought you'd be backing Lee up 100% on this." Tenten asked.

"Lee has to learn that no matter how hard one works some things, like matters of the heart, are not meant to be. Kurumi-san's heart belongs to the Uzumaki boy and he to her. I can see it in their eyes." Gai stated poignantly and calmly, which made the other members of Team Gai check for a Genjutsu as the match got underway.

"Okay...Ready?...FIGHT!" Hayate announced, getting out of the way.

Lee wasted no time in engaging Kurumi, who stood her ground against him and fought back with equal intensity. After the first brief Taijutsu clash, Lee backed off to gauge his options.

'She is so strong! It was like hitting metal...But I must win and show her my Youth!' Lee thought as he looked up at Gai, who nodded.

"Go ahead, Lee...Take them off!" Gai replied as Lee removed his weights.

"YOSH! YOUTH IS NOW AT 110% PERCENT!" Lee howled as he blurred from sight, moving so fast even Kurumi had trouble tracking him.

She managed to block and the dodge the first blows, but a monstrously powerful blow caught her square in the stomach and launched her into the sidewalls, but she simply stood up and dusted herself off, only getting angrier. Seeing his best shot just shrugged off, Lee decided to go for the big guns.

"You leave me no choice, Kurumi-chan...I will win...With the power of my YOUTH!" Lee howled once again, now opening the Hachimon.

One gate...

Two gates...

Three gates...

Four...

Five...

The onlookers were in sheer shocked amazement at what Lee was accomplishing. At this point in time, he was currently on par with a Kage in terms of speed and raw power.

"Lee...had this much power? Was he holding back all this time?" Neji wondered.

"...Yes and no. Just wait and see." Gai instructed as Kakashi walked over.

"The Lotus? I hope the boy knows what the consequences are if he goes too far." Kakashi warned.

"I rarely let him use it, my rival. These exams are the only exception other than extreme danger." Gai replied, his face a mask of stone as Lee finished his build-up.

"GRRAAHHH! ACCEPT THIS FIST...FULL OF MY FEELINGS FOR YOU, KURUMI-CHAN!" Lee bellowed as he shot straight at her, but she planted her feet...And caught his attack.

"I told you..." She growled, a dark miasma starting to collect around her as Team 7's fears were climbing.

"Is she...?" Sakura gasped.

"I hope not..." Kakashi replied, ready to end this match if she turned.

"That I only belong...TO NARUTO-KUN!" Kurumi screamed, her free fist sending the badly dressed genin sailing across the arena floor and embedding him in the statue nearby, the dark miasma fading away with her subsiding anger.

"Whew! I feel a lot better!" She chirped happily, not even waiting for Hayate to declare her the winner as she wrapped her arms around her master.

'GAH! Let him go, damn you!' Hinata thought as she glowered at the pair.

"Whoa...She's pissed..." Kiba whispered to Shino.

"Yes...It would be best to let her simmer down." Shino advised, Kiba nodding and giving her some room.

"I won! Praise me, Praise me, Praise me!" The pink haired Angel said exclaimed, bouncing in place like a hyperactive puppy until Naruto patted her on her head.

"Good girl, Kurumi-chan!" Naruto praised her, as if he were placating said puppy.

'So much power...But so simple...' Sakura facefaulted.

"W-what just happened?" Tenten stammered out, not knowing how Lee could have lost as he was.

"She used his speed against him. He may be extremely fast, but Lee doesn't have much experience using his extreme speed, so he was much sloppier. Kurumi managed to catch the attack using something similar to Lady Tsunade's super strength technique and then put him away." Gai explained to his team as the next match was displayed.

GAARA Vs. AKADO YOROI

One of Kabuto's teammates stepped down from the upper deck, a smirk hidden under his veil.

"Heh...This will be easy." He told himself as her continued down to the floor.

"..." Gaara was dead silent, save for the scowl on his face as he used his sand to teleport down to the floor, his unnerving stare still fixated on his newest victim.

"Are you both ready?" Hayate asked.

"Just hurry...Blood...I need...Blood..." Gaara muttered, his body beginning to twitch.

"What's wrong with him?" Sakura whispered to her male teammate.

"Kyuubi explained it to me before...He's like me, a Jinchuuriki. But, there's something wrong with his seal and the demon drove him nuts." Naruto explained what he had been told by his own inner demon.

"He's right. Something is very wrong with him..." Kakashi added as they watched.

"FIGHT!" Hayato yelled as he got back and not a moment too soon, as Yoroi darted into to claim what he thought would be an easy victory...

But what he found was his greatest and last nightmare. A tendril of sand had stopped him cold and held him fast.

"Wh-what? L-Let me go..." Yoroi stammered, trying in vain to free himself from the sand's ever tightening death grip as it began to cover his entire body.

Soon, the sand had completely enveloped him, leaving only his head exposed.

SABAKU KYUU...

"P-please...Release me..." Yoroi pleaded, but Gaara's face held a vicious scowl as he lifted the ball of sand plus Yoroi into the air.

"No...Don't do it..." Naruto whispered. He knew what Gaara was about to do.

"Mother...Wants your blood...Give her what she wants..." Gaara's dead voice droned, Hayate trying to end the match, but he was too late to stop him.

SABAKU SOSO!

Gaara's fist closed, his sand following with the force of a hydraulic press. The Genin's body was reduced to nothing but pulp as the head fell to the ground with a sickening crunch, his sand seemingly drinking up the blood as it retreated back into his gourd. As he slunk back up to the stands, he was declared the winner as they tried to clean up what was left of his opponent.

"Horrible..." Kurumi whimpered into Naruto's shoulder, Sakura doing the same with Kakashi.

"Suna's vessel...Something is very wrong with him..." Kakashi muttered, his eye showing that he was frowning as the next match was announced.

NARUTO UZUMAKI Vs. DOSU KINUTA

"So...I get the blond idiot...Could have been worse." Dosu stated as he ambled down to the floor.

"...I don't have time for this." Naruto muttered in annoyance as he thought of a quick-killer to deal with this person without showing off too much.

The only thing he could think of was to overwhelm his opponent with low-powered Bakuhatsu Bunshin, or Kamikaze Clones as he called them, and detonate them, dealing with him in the easiest manner possible. He had bigger problems to sort through right now, like how there was another Steel Angel running around and the apparent brutality of his fellow Jinchuuriki, than this guy right now, on top of all that he still had to comfort Kurumi, who was still reeling from both of those mentioned before. He lept down to the arena floor and readied himself to put his plan into action.

Dosu, on the other hand, knew that the blond was more than he seemed. they managed to elude Orochimaru in the forest, deal with higher ranking ninja, and managed to reach the tower at the same time they did.

'I shall need to use caution to deal with this one.' He thought as he slouched over into his stance as Hayate gave the signal to start.

Naruto immediately created a tidal wave of Clones and had them all bum rush his surprised opponent. Everyone in the arena was in complete shock at how much chakra was being expended out there, but Naruto looked like he wasn't even breaking a sweat as the horde of clones reached their opponent and overwhelmed him, beating him within an inch of his life as he thought better of revealing the fact that his clones could explode on command. The sheer shock of how fast the Dobe ground this powerful Genin into paste lasted for a few moments until Naruto got Hayate's attention.

"Oi...What's the call, ref? I wanna go back to my teammates." He asked, slightly irritated by all of the staring. He just wanted to go back to Kurumi and make sure she was coping alright.

"Oh...Uh...Winner, Naruto Uzumaki!" He announced as Naruto made his way back up.

"What brought that about?" Kakashi asked.

"I just wanted to get back to Kurumi-chan...What happened with Gaara and that Saki chick scared her." Naruto explained. Kakashi sighed, as Naruto did what he did because he was concerned about her.

"Talk about brute force...Quick and simple. Nice job, Naruto." Sakura stated from where she and Kurumi were waiting for him by the railing.

"You doing alright, Rumi-chan?" He asked her.

"Yeah...I'm feeling a little better. Thank you, Master." She replied softly as she drew him into a hug, the borad already flashing through names, stopping on the next pair.

KIBA INUZUKA Vs. SAKURA HARUNO.

"Heh...A girl? This should be easy, right Akamaru?" Kiba smirked as he hopped down to face her. Sakura heard his comment and kept her cool on the outside, but inside, she was enraged by his dismissal.

'Sexist jerk...I'm gonna kick his ass so hard, he'll have to take off his shirt to take a dump!' She bellowed inwardly as she made her way down there.

"KICK HIS ASS!" Naruto shouted as Sakura gave him a brief thumbs up and a smirk, showing that she has something insidious in mind for the chauvinistic Dog Boy.

"Ooh...Kiba shouldn't have said that." Kakashi muttered to Kurenai.

"Well, I'm not happy about that sexist comment, but she won't stand much of a chance against him." She replied.

"I beg to differ on that. That Sakura girl is devious with her planning and executions and she packs a nasty punch. I don't think a hot head like that Inuzuka kid will see anything she has planned for him coming." Asuma countered.

"You think so? Well, if she wins, Asuma and I will get Icha Icha bedtime stories from you in the appropriate wardrobe and voices. If you win, I'll...Well I'll let you decide that." Kakashi wagered.

"Ugh...Fine." Kurenai relented, but was REALLY hoping Kiba came through for her. If not...The Kitten and Ugly Old Ladies in the bath Genjutsu would be implemented. It was a punishment she created for him when he peeped on Hinata and herself at a bathhouse on their way back from a mission. It left him in a catatonic state for two days.

"Whoa-ho! Now I'm REALLY rooting for the girl!" Asuma cheered, his mood returning to normal since Chouji was out of danger. Dr. Haruno managed to treat him in time and stated that he would make a full recovery.

Kiba and Sakura both met in the middle of the arena floor Kiba with a confident smirk and Sakura with calm look, but she was ready to rip his face off. She was going through all that she knew about the Inuzuka and remembered that they relied heavily on their sense of smell, since their sense of smell was very sensitive. She fished around in her pack and palmed a pair of small Smelling Salt bottles, removing the stoppers with her fingers. She would wait until he got in close and literally shove the contents into his face, completely ruining his senses so she could finish him off.

Hayate started off the match and the two went into action...Well, Kiba did, wanting to get this match over with while Sakura bided her time and got the ampules ready. Once he was within range, Sakura lashed out with a lightning quick jab to his face while he was in midair, splashing the Ammonium Chloride solution in his eyes and nose, making his world explode with pain as she proceeded to finish him with a ridiculously powerful right straight that probably knocked a few teeth loose. Akamaru was completely lost without his master to guide him so the small pup backed down to who he considered an Alpha.

"Bastard..." She muttered as she was announced the winner of the match, making her way back up to the stands.

"Heh heh...THAT was smart thinking. That Haruno girl has a damn good head on her shoulders." Anko commended.

"Hmm...All of Team 7's members have advanced to the finals now. They have a very strong team." Shino surmised.

"I know...Tch. This is a major pain in my ass." Shikamaru groaned, not knowing just how tough the competition would be.

"Damn...Forehead wasn't messing around. She took Dog boy down hard." Ino winced, but her reaction was tame compared to Kurenai's pale expression.

"Well well...Looks like a sleepover and storytime tonight." Kakashi eyesmiled as Asuma beamed behind him.

"I never knew bedtime could be so much fun." The bearded Jounin grinned from ear to ear as he looked forward to tonight as the next pair was announced.

HINATA HYUUGA Vs. INO YAMANAKA

"I have to fight that wierd, creepy girl? Hmph. Should be easy enough." Ino stated, but Asuma warned her.

"Don't underestimate your opponent. The Hyuuga can do some very nasty things to your innards if they get hold of you with only a single touch." Asuma chided, but the blond girl was still feeling over-confident from what she know of Hinata from the Academy.

However...Hinata got her hands on some interesting information recently. She found out that Ino was trying to muscle in on Naruto just because Sasuke was revealed for the vile douchebag he always was, and that pissed her right off. One girl already living with and taking Naruto's attention from her was bad enough, but Ino was an unwanted annoyance that would have to be...Corrected. With brute force if need be.

"I hope you can put up a better fight than back in the Academy." Ino taunted, but the Hyuuga girl's rage was roiling just below her shy surface, ready to erupt at a moment's notice.

"FIGHT!" Hayate bellowed as he lept out of the way, and just in time too.

Hinata had been working on her skills day and night, her efforts rewarded with a very narrow victory over Neji, but still a win for her. She had also been working on a new type of Taijutsu based on the Jyuuken, but much more forceful. It turned out that she has bountiful reserves of chakra, nearly as much as her father already but her control was just as good. She watched Naruto train and used the Kage Bunshin Bakuhatsu and got an idea. She would gather chakra into her palms and make it explode on contact with her enemy instead of shoving it into them. This gave one of her sparring partners a nasty surprise, sending a few of them through the dojo wall. Hiashi saw it differently, though.

'She recreated Lady Tsunade's super strength technique! Amazing!' The Hyuuga patriarch thought as he allowed her to expand on it.

"GRRAAAHHHH!" Hinata roared, completely catching Ino off guard and her explosive blow sent the blond sailing into the cheap seats, impacting just next to where Team Gai was standing.

"Ahh...I feel better." She sighed as she was announced the winner.

The entire arena was silent. No one expected shy, sweet little Hinata to be as vicious as a Wolverine.

"Does she have a split personality or something?" Kiba whispered to Shino.

"I'm betting on Bi-Polar." Shino replied as Hinata made her way back up to them, still leaking a small but disturbing amount of Ki with a pleasant smile on her face.

"Shino-kun…What was that?" She asked, a deathly haze seemingly blazing behind her, that smile seeming even more disturbing.

"Nothing. Nothing at all." He answered quickly.

Across the arena, Asuma had pried Ino from the wall she was momentarily decorating and had some thoughts of his own.

"Damn...That Hyuuga girl's got some anger issues." He commented.

"Indeed...She has become quite scary in our sparring matches. The last person went through two walls after he taunted her and the medics still can't figure out what she did to his bowels. As close as they can tell, he now urinates and defecates in the opposite manner as you are supposed to." Neji related to them, making everyone in earshot nearly lose their lunch at the thought of such a horrifying thing.

"That...is just sick." Shino commented bluntly, his own face a shade of green.

"I'm never making fun of her again." Kiba swore, cringing as she gave them a sickeningly pleasant smile while the prelims ground on.

Shino and Shikamaru tried to avoid her gaze, as if it could set them ablaze or steal their soul while Kurenai was thinking about penciling her in for a visit to the Yamanaka's for a therapy session…And maybe some meds.

AFTER THE FINAL MATCHES...

Things kept on going along, as they tend to do, right through the last matches. Who won, you ask? Well...Kankuro managed to outwit Misumi while Shikamaru and Shino nearly a double disqualification, due to the fact that they both just stood there for ten minutes without even moving, pissing off everyone in the Arena. However, Shikamaru had to concede defeat, since Shino's bugs drained his chakra dry and made using his Kage Mane impossible, effectively eliminating his trump card. Finally, after the plesantries were taken care of, Sarutobi took the dais once again to address the Genin.

"Now...Those of you who are left, I congradulate you all on making it into the final stage of the Chunnin Exam. This was a rather grueling exam, so you all should be proud of yourselves for making it this far. The real Final Exam will be held in one month from now, giving you all time to prepare yourselves for whomever your opponent may be. Now, Anko will come before you with a box, from which you will draw a lot number. We will determine who faces whom by luck of the draw." He announced as Anko did just that.

"Seven." Sakura.

"One." Saki.

"Three." Kurumi.

"Five." Naruto.

"Six." Hinata.

"Two." Gaara.

"Four." Neji.

"Ten." Tenten.

"Eight." Kankuro.

"Nine." Shikamaru.

The judges flipped coins, did choice ladders, conversed, and did everything short of using a Ouiji Board to determine the matches. As soon as they were satisfied, Anko cleared her throat to announce the finals matches.

"Alright, here we go:"

TENTEN Vs. SAKURA HARUNO

GAARA Vs. SHIKAMARU NARA

HINATA HYUUGA Vs. NEJI HYUUGA

KURUMI Vs. KANKURO

NARUTO UZUMAKI Vs. SAKI

All of the named combatants looked to their opponents, except for Gaara and Saki, Gaara too busy being crazy and Saki just not having any emotions. Kurumi was deeply worried about her master, even though he was far stronger than Chouji. Saki could still dole out life threatening damage if she managed to catch him, but had faith that he could come up with a plan that would allow him to stay one step ahead of her. Kankuro was feeling dread, having to face off against the girl who completely owned that Lee kid. Shikamaru was ready to give up then and there, not willing to face down the deranged psychopath. Neji merely nodding to his cousin in acceptance, acknowledging her as a worthy opponent. Sakura was busy trying to come up with tactics that allow her to neutralize Tenten's weapons. She figured that Kakashi might have something that could level the playing field.

"You will all be given a one month training period to prepare for whomever you may face. I suggest that you use this time wisely. That is all." Sarutobi announced as they were all sent back into the village.

"I'm really proud that all of you managed to advance to the final exam. Now, we will need to work out a training schedule for the next month." Kakashi stated as he gathered them all together and set out for the village.

Once they reached home and found that Haruna and Yui were waiting for them there, they all went inside to discuss everything over dinner.

"Now...Sakura-chan, that was extremely quick thinking down there. As much as you've improved, I think that Kiba would have beaten you easily in a straight up fight, but you knew that, too. You used his weakness against him and put him away quickly before he could recover. Now, you'll be facing Gai student Tenten. From what we saw, she is a weapons specialist, using them almost exclusively. She seemed to have some solid Taijutsu, as anyone would expect from Gai's students. Now, I want to hear what you have planned so far." Kakashi stated, letting her figure out a solution on her own with the information she had.

"Hmm...I need to find a way to neutralize her throwing weapons at range and make her get in close. I found a gas mask in the basement, so if I get hold of some paral

MEANWHILE...

Orochimaru had licking his wounds as well as briefing his forces on all that had changed in their plans. Since Sasuke wasn't in the exams as he had planned, he would now have to revise everything, especially since the Genin that he had encountered managed to escape and have no doubt alerted Sarutobi to his presence. In addition, two of his ringers had been defeated, and one of his spies was killed by Suna's weapon but they were inconsequential to his plans. All that mattered was that Saki and Gaara had made it to the finals, where they would begin their bloody rampage and aide him in stomping the village flat. Once they were dealt with, he could break Sasuke out of prison at his leisure, letting him stew and fester until he would agree to join him without a second thought. However, one thing was bothering him since the forest. The older pink haired girl, the one that had shrugged off his Ki as if it was nothing. Her presence was deeply disturbing, as he swore he felt something like that before. He suddenly remembered the legends of the Steel Angels and that Konoha was supposed to have one.

'Wait...That girl couldn't be a Steel Angel! Why would they allow her to have free will and take orders from some brat?' The Snake debated with himself. He decided that he shouldn't get all worked up over something that could very well be nothing to worry about, instead focusing on refining his attack plan.

"This time, I will crush that old fool for choosing that idiot Jiraiya's apprentice over me. All of Konoha will burn, my Dark Angel blazing the path to my darkest fantasies." The mad Sannin cackled madly as he stroked Saki's cheek, the girl remaining still as a statue.

A/N: Wow...I had a rough time cranking this one out. Sorry it took so long, but I've been busy with other things, on top of a severe inspirational drought. I've somewhat got my creative mojo back, and I'm working on updates as we speak. Once again, I have NOT abandoned any of my stories, I'm just in a rut of sorts on a couple.