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Chapter 28

Death in the Forest

Tsuchi Kin dropped to her knees in exhausted defeat, and slumped against the nearest tree, as the inevitable finally happened - she had run out of chakra.

She wasn't stupid, and had known the minute her team-mates had begun to come after her that unless something incredibly unlikely happen, like another team attacked them, or someone decided to take pity on her and rescue her, that this would happen. She was no chakra powerhouse - not like Zaku was; and she didn't have the physical fitness of Dosu. She had known full well that she couldn't out run or out last either of them.

Using what little chakra she had to extend her escape when her muscles had finally given up the ghost had been a desperate ploy for time, in the hope that something, anything, would happen. Hell, she'd take being killed at the hands of another Genin squad then let these two have the satisfaction. Added to that thought was the previously ruthlessly suppressed idea that both her team-mates were just old enough, and had grown up amongst the stories of other Oto shinobi and their 'conquests', that the idea of them taking a little more than just her life was just likely enough to make Kin worry.

She dragged herself to a standing position, and palmed a kunai nervously, knowing the blade was no longer singly intended for her enemies. They would get no satisfaction from her while she was alive. She'd make damn sure of it.

"Betraying Orochimaru is something the intelligent simply do not do, Kin."

Dosu's nasally voice broke through the silence of the clearing like a mace through glass, and Kin couldn't repress the flinch - couldn't stop the fear that emerged on her face at the knowledge she was at best, about to die.

Zaku simply laughed, hands stuck nonchalantly in his pockets even as he leered down at his former teammate.

"Unfortunately for you Kin," Dosu continued, his lone visible eye fixing Kin with a chilling look that she just couldn't quite discern the meaning behind; "it is not a mistake you are going to have a chance to make twice. Orochimaru has ordered your death."

"Orochimaru can go to hell!" Kin snarled out in response, unable to fully suppress the anger that Orochimaru's name drew out of her. "He's using you, just like he was using me. And he'll carry on 'till, you're dead or as good as - a living cadaver for his fucked up experiments!"

Dosu's features twisted into something that was unmistakably a smirk, as Kin spoke, and he never broke eye contact, not even as he replied. "Ah Kin, still so defiant. That's good, I've heard it's so much more fun when they struggle..."

His voice however, didn't come from the figure in the trees, but from right behind her.

Kin's blood ran cold, and she found herself unable to breath in the panic, even as two hands grabbed her wrists from around the back of the tree she had leant against, pinning her up against it so that no matter how she struggled she couldn't move. And as she watched Dosu's image slowly fade out of existence, and the realisation that she had been fooled by a clone hit home, she couldn't help the tears that finally began to slide down her cheeks, even as she trashed and struggled against Dosu's grip, and Zaku, still leering, leapt down from the tree and began to approach.

"Kuchiyose no Jutsu!"

And just like that, Kin's world was turned on it's head all over again as a large blue blur she only caught a glimpse of out of the corner of her eye rocketed to the area behind her tree, and impacted with Dosu, sending him tumbling across the ground, and subsequently freeing Kin, allowing her to slump exhausted to the floor.

"Well I was gonna go help the boss out with his fight, but I really don't think I can ignore this now, can I?"

Kin's eyes snapped to the new figure in the trees, and recognised him almost instantly - after all, it's not often you forget somebody who managed to wrangle your entire team with a lightning jutsu that, as far as they had been able to tell, had been used without hand seals, is it? True enough, she couldn't be certain that this boy was even nearly strong enough to do anything more than buy her time; but at the very least, he had fast enough reflexes to have stopped them from attacking Kabuto, and was good enough with one jutsu to use it without hand signs, something usually considered incredibly difficult.

And despite the fact the boy was fairly small in stature, Kin couldn't help the hope that blossomed at the fierce look in his eyes, the determination that practically radiated from his stance; nor could she help the second bout of tears at the idea that someone had come - had actually come - to help her.

But the boy didn't say a word to her as he leapt down just in front of her, landing between her and a scowling Zaku, his eyes never leaving his opponent.

"Gamasenso, you can sense me right?"

"My sensory abilities aren't as good as many of my kin, but yes, I can sense you. I understand the situation."

The exhausted black-haired Oto-nin couldn't help but jump in surprise as the blue blur that had freed her from Dosu's grip literally jumped to the side of the red-armored Konoha shinobi in front her. It was a toad - a vivid blue toad - wearing what looked like a karate gi; and Kin was momentarily embarrassed that she hadn't instantly realised it was a summon.

The blond in front of her sighed. "It's a shame, but I probably wont be able to fight alongside you for long before I run out of steam and have to get her out of here. I would have liked a better fight for our first together, Gamasenso."

"Do not fret, Naruto. There are a lifetime of battles ahead, and we shall share many of them. Today though, your duty must take priority. If you must aid the girl, than I will buy you the time you need to do so."

The boy - Naruto, apparently - raised his left arm and clapped what Kin supposed was the toads shoulder amiably. "I appreciate your help, I really do. I'll get the girl out of here, you deal with these guys." Naruto turned back to her, before pausing as though he had suddenly remembered something, and turned his head back. "Gamasenso, these are two of Orochimaru's goons that have infiltrated the exam, so don't feel the need to go easy."

The toad didn't reply, and only nodded tightly. Obviously the toad summons had some kind of grudge against her former master too - not that she wasn't certain he didn't deserve whatever punishment they intended to mete out, of course; but, given how Orochimaru's forces were made up almost entirely of people utterly loyal to the Sannin, and she had been mostly raised as part of those forces - away from the outside world - it still caught her slightly off guard when she was faced with a reminder of just how many people wanted the snake dead.

"Can you walk?"

Kin was shaken out of her thoughts at the kindly voice of Naruto, know kneeling just in front of her, a small, gentle smile upon his face. "I-I don't know... I-" Her voice came out an disorientated babble - too many things had happened, in too short a space of time. She was entirely out of chakra, utterly exhausted, and she had gone from desperation, to resignation to her fate, to sheer unbridled terror at the turn of events, before having hope given back to her from just about the least likely source on the planet all over again. It was too much.

But it was Naruto that stopped the oncoming panic attack before it even set in. He placed both hands on her shoulders, and looked directly into her eyes. "I need you to breathe deep breaths for me, and just listen. Can you do that?"

She nodded, wide-eyed and jerkily, before complying without even really thinking; breathing deeply, the combination of the blond's voice, his firm but painless grip on her shoulders, and being able to focus on a task rather than the events of the past ten minutes, strangely reassuring her.

Seeing that she had calmed, Naruto pressed on ever so slightly. "That's real good. Now, can you tell me your name?"

She took one last deep breathe, and gathered herself before replying, far more steadily than she thought she was capable of. "It's Kin, Tsuchi Kin." Her eyes never left Naruto's, and his hands never left her shoulders; and idly, Kin noticed the sounds of clashing fists, and the launching of wind attacks - Zaku's, and the vague realisation that Naruto's summon and Zaku had begun fighting. But Naruto she knew, was intentionally trying to monopolise her attention - keep her focused on him, and nothing else, in order to prevent the panic attack she had come so close to. It was an impressive feat, given everything that was going on.

"Okay then Tsuchi Kin, don't you worry about a thing. I'm gonna get you out of here and safe before you can even blink, okay - and that's a promise."

"Not if I can help it!" Zaku's voice roared over the clearing, just as Dosu rushed out from nowhere, leveling a swing of his gauntlet at Naruto's summons forcing him back slightly from Dosu's team mate, who now stood with nothing between him, Kin and Naruto, palm outstretched, facing them. "Sorry but, you're both going to die right here." He finished with a savage grin, as he prepared what was his trademark attack back in Oto.

Kin realised much too late that they had of course underestimated Dosu. He was easily the strongest of the three of them, and the best at strategy. He had obviously waited out of sight while Zaku fought the toad, waiting for it to be distracted enough to take it out of the fight temporarily, giving Zaku a free shot at the Konoha Genin and Kin.


The name of the technique ushered forth a vicious deadly torrent of wind towards them, and for a split second as Naruto shifted to face the threat, Kin thought Naruto was just going to move out of the way and leave her to her fate - but he never faltered.

In one movement he was back on his feet, turning smoothly to face the oncoming slicing winds, and almost from thin air, the blond was holding a staff in his hand, rapidly spinning it as he held it out in front of him, spinning it so fast it was just a brown blur to everyone watching.

And then the jutsu hit, and even as the wind whipped around her, carving chunks out of the trees either side of the one she and Naruto had their backs to, digging a channel in the very earth to mark it's path - not one blade of deadly chakra infused wind made it past the blond now crouching in front of her panting heavily as the jutsu dissipated and the maelstrom died down, as though a pocket of invulnerability had been created around just the two of them, making them immune to the effects of the jutsu that had decimated the surrounding area.

Kin was at a total loss. She had never seen anything block Zankūkyokuha before - it was Zaku's most powerful attack, a guaranteed kill. What this Konoha genin had just done was unprecedented for ninja at their level.

"Gamasenso, I can't do that again, this clone is pretty much spent!" Naruto ground out to his summons, his staff disappearing as quickly as it had come. Overloading his weapon with chakra, and then spinning it to form what was tantamount to a 'chakra shield' was something he had come up with while experimenting by himself, and was particularly proud of. Overloading a chakra sensitive weapon left it leaking chakra, unable to contain what the user was channeling. Spinning the weapon and pumping even more created a wall of defensive chakra in front of him, capable of soaking up attacks just as he had done here.

It was however, incredibly chakra intensive, and while that wasn't normally a problem for him, this Bunshin was practically running on empty, and the jutsu had been powerful enough that he'd needed to channel even more chakra than he'd ever had to before.

"Then go!" Came the response, as the toad disengaged from Dosu and leapt back to Naruto's side. "I apologise. My lapse of concentration was an unforgivable mistake, and has made your mission far more difficult than it should have been."

"Don't sweat it, you're doing more than enough by getting me a chance to get out of here." Naruto glanced back towards her, how tired he was evident in his face. "I'm gonna go now - don't be afraid to dispel if you're in trouble, I'll only need a window of a few minutes to get out of tracking range."

Kin had thought it impossible for the tension in the clearing to increase, but she had been wrong. Nothing more was spoken, but the toad's muscles had gone tight, and Kin could picture the murderous intent on the amphibian's face.

The summon's grudge against her former master apparently ran incredibly deep.

A moment of utter silence reigned - Kin's old team mates surprisingly quiet, but almost out of nowhere Gamasenso finally rocketed towards Dosu and Zaku, and Naruto turned back fully towards her, and scooped her up bridal style, before taking to the trees in a dead sprint. A glance round Naruto's back at the fight that had just broken out told her that the toad was more than enough to keep her team mates busy - and as long as he could keep that up for a decent amount of time...

She would live.

Not once in her life, had Inuzuka Hana felt like this.

She had been a ninja for a good few years before, and she had seen her comrades in danger and wounded more than she cared to count, and it had never done this to her. Hell, on her last mission, she had watched Naruto and Shikamaru fight a desperate battle for survival against frankly awful odds - and during it, there had been a moment where she was certain at the time, that Naruto had been killed by a particularly vicious blow that she was still semi-certain should have been fatal. Of course, she didn't exactly know either of them that well at the time, but they were comrades, so that was irrelevant.

She had been worried, and frustrated, sure. Even a little angry at their enemy.

But nothing like this.

As she arrived in the clearing, her eyes had immediately fixed onto Kiba's bloodied and unmoving form, and a fury and protectiveness began to boil inside her that she frankly, hadn't expected. It was the first time somebody so close to her, so undeniably part of her pack had been so hurt in front of her by an enemy, and she had to bite back real and genuine blood lust in order to go about her duty - and even then it was her total faith in Naruto's ability to get her brother away that allowed her to even do that.

Thankfully, none of Kiba's wounds would be permanent - just a few admittedly nasty bodily scars of the kind that most shinobi accumulated. But he was dangerously low on blood before she had treated him with a plasma pill and some dressing for the wounds, and a minute or so later, and he would have been killed by the teenager standing in front of her now.

And it was this situation now that was utterly alien to her. She had experienced the initial, almost uncontrollable burning fury, and expected it to intensify when the time came to fight. But now, finally looking into the eyes of her enemy, everything was different. Her anger had increased, but it had changed, transformed, and something entirely new had awoken within her. An ice cold rage. She was calm, and in control, but right behind her eyes, it burned more intensely than she ever thought possible.

She was calm, and in control, but for the first time in her shinobi career she also knew without a doubt, that she would kill this man.

The triplets seemed to sense the change in situations too. Their eyes had narrowed, and their teeth were bared, but their posture, and actions were entirely new. They had forgone their usual battle formations in favour of fanning out around their enemy, prowling steadily in a circle, their eyes never leaving his throat. Instead of their usual intimidating growls, and they moved in total silence, not making a single sound. And instictively, Hana knew what she was seeing, what she was leading.

These were no longer ninken, but wolves on the hunt, stalking their prey, waiting to strike. All they waited on was the word of the alpha. Hana's word.

"Shikakyu no jutsu." She intoned glacially, after a few hand-seals; and immediately she felt the rush of chakra, the myriad of change to her body bringing her even closer anatomically to a canine; and her cold stare changed into a bloodthirsty grin as her enemy's cocky smirk dropped into a cautious frown.

Like all prey, he instinctively recognised the aura of a predator, and was on edge, nervous. He seemed to have realised that Hana was on a different level to the Inuzuka he had just beaten, and that because of his actions, this was an entirely different kind of fight.

He opened his mouth to speak. Pre-fight banter? A threat? It didn't matter, because Hana chose that moment to explode into motion, launching herself at her target. There was no need for words any more.

Her opening strike was a vicious clawed uppercut specifically meant to claw his eyes out of his face, but was parried by his raised arm. There was a infinitesimal pause in the action as they made contact for the very first time, before both launched into a ferocious storm of melee combat; both fighters striking out with slashing motions, and thundering kicks, each met by a block or air as they ducked and weaved out of each other's blows, evenly matched. Hana parried a straightforward slash to her face with her forearm, and had to bite back a wince of pain as she returned her own attack.

He was using chakra to mimic her true blue Inuzuka Claws, making him just as dangerous with them as she was. Worse still, as far as she could tell, he hadn't used any enhancing technique, and yet was matching her with her Shikakyu no jutsu perfectly, making it look simple. Every time she tried to pull back to give one of the Haimaru brothers a chance to break from their stalking of the fight and attack, but he wouldn't allow her the room. The were fighting too chaotically, with too much motion for them to attack without risking Hana in the process.

Their usual strategy rendered ineffective, Hana opted for a different approach. "Use Jūjin Bunshin!" She ground out as she ducked under an attack and lunged with her right hand for the throat of her enemy - only for him to sidestep her and throw a knee into her midriff, the momentary lapse of concentration costing her a painful blow to her ribs before she refocused.

The job however was done, and within a few seconds of her shout, her opponent was attacked from two sides by two snarling copies of Hana. He managed to duck under the first attack, but the second was well practised, and perfectly timed, and the Bunshin's shin met his face with the satisfying sound of flesh meeting flesh hard, and he was sent stumbling back.

The Jūjin Bunshin had worked perfectly. It was an Inuzuka technique that allowed ninken to transform into identical copies of their human partner in situations just like these.

Now, Hana knew, was time to press the advantage. "Gatsuuga!"

She rocketed towards her enemy in a spiraling tornado of blows, intent on finishing the battle as well as the so-called Genin as quickly as possible. Naruto's opponent had set her on edge, and despite the fact that she knew his skills had already eclipsed hers by some way, leaving Naruto alone to face him made her distinctly uncomfortable.

However, Hana's attack had a distinct weakness - the Gatsuuga heavily impeded the user's vision, so she never saw her enemy recover his footing faster than she had expected, nor did she see his flurry of handseals.

"Katon: Kakudai-en!"

If she had seen the attack - she would have laughed before she had a chance to really process the name. A tiny wisp of flame emerged from his mouth, fast enough that one would assume the air rushing past it would blow it out, if they hadn't already surmised that chakra kept it alive. However, the fact that the boy had even used a ninjutsu at all only really came to Hana's attention when the small touch of fire impacted the tip of her Gatsuuga technique, and suddenly engulfed it in enormous flames that worked their way into the attack, making it a fiery tornado spiraling straight at the Kusa shinobi.

Hana hadn't been able to hold the attack together through the flames, and she rocketed through what was left of the mix of of fire, chakra, and air; and tumbled to the ground painfully, rolling forward in singed uniform, covered with minor burns - straight past the bastard who had done it, now smirking at the success of his tactic.

His overconfidence cost him.

The two Jūjin Bunshin and Hana he could see, but the third had slunk away, and he had forgotten about in in the face of Hana's Gatsuuga. He was however reminded of it incredibly painfully, when the final ninken lauchd it's own Gatsuuga directly into his back in retaliation for what he had done to Hana, and set him up into the air, only for him to be struck again in mid-flight by a second of the same attack from one of the Bunshin, and then again in a third and final time, in a potentially deadly game of keepy-ups.

After the third attack had sent him spinning, he dropped like lead towards the ground, too dazed and hurt to even begin to to recover himself in mid-air, and impacted the ground with a sicking crunch - and to Hana's relief, as she pulled herself to her feet, didn't move again.

That's for my brother, you murderous bastard; she spat mentally, with aggression that surprised even her, until she calmed herself.

"Okay, there's one down. Look sharp triplets, we've still got to go and help Naruto - and it'd be just like him to have picked an unnaturally powerful Genin to duke it out with while we were left with some crappy imitation of an Inuzuka."

"Didn't your... Sensei... Ever teach you... To make sure your enemy was... Dead?" The raspy, gurgling voice from behind her sent her body rigid, and as it's owner launched into a series of harsh, wet coughs, Hana felt chills run down her spine, and slowly turned to where she had left their defeated enemy. There was just no way...

But he was. Standing shakily on his feet, but still standing - his left leg bent out at an awful angle, three ribs having broken pierced his chest outwards, now protruding from his uniform, and blood running from an impossibly deep wound on his head, practically cascading down his face, drenching his beige shirt where it met the neck.

He should be dead.

He shouldn't be even standing.

"Crappy imitation?" He asked her, managing to sound irritable despite the awful gurgling of blood at the back of his throat, indicative of the catastrophic internal bleeding that he surely had. "Not even close. I had no idea there were Genin this good in Konoha - 'specially after that weak bunch that you're trying to rescue... I think its time I showed you exactly why Orochimaru spent so much time to get me to join him, why I have been chosen as a potential host for my master."

Hana didn't register a single word, nor did she register the slight whining of the triplets, or even her canine instincts screaming at her to run.

All she registered, as she stared wide-eyed at her enemy, was the pale yellow eyes, with beady black pupils, that now occupied the space his eyes had been.

The eyes of a wolf.

Naruto forced back the desire to jump to Hana's aid as her own fight began in earnest. His own enemy's stance was taut, ready for movement at any moment, but also relaxed, as though while he expected a good fight, he was utterly confident that he would beat Naruto easily. A few months ago,
Naruto reflected, that would have riled him more than he cared to admit, and probably would have rushed the guy. Now though, he was unaffected. He simply regarded his enemy carefully, trying to find a weakness, gathering as much info as he could.

Katana, loose clothing - Shino had stated he was an agile, talented swordsman, likely his integral skill, very fast striking - making his Sansetsukon a solid counter both bound and unbound. However, he had not been seen to have performed any ninjutsu or genjutsu - but had used chakra to power movement and increase speed. A glance at the milky white and faded eyes confirmed to Naruto that Shino was correct, and the man definitely was blind - not that Naruto doubted the intelligent and stoic Aburame - but yet had some way of gathering an intimate amount of knowledge of the surrounding area.

That would be key.

Idly, he released a shuriken from the seal on his wrist - making no noise, and the barest of movements, and watched the Genin twitch in response, and smirked. He could sense chakra, then. Curious - that shouldn't really provide him with enough sensory information to fight. He needed more, and so flung the shuriken at his opponent - also utterly silent, with minimum disruption to the air - and watched as the Kusa shinobi made no move to react, until suddenly he seemed to snap to awareness and lashed out with his katana, deflecting the projectile. However Naruto knew better - he had been focusing on the Genin's legs and hips, watching for any changes in how he was holding himself.

The Kusa-nin had tracked the shuriken all the way, following it with his body weight. How though...

"Intriguing that you didn't need to leaf through your ninja tools to find your shuriken - I would have heard it. I only noticed you had even thrown anything when it got close enough for me to sense. I wonder how you did it... Fuinjutsu?"

Naruto's smirk grew. That had been a lie - he had sensed it the moment Naruto had summoned it, and then followed it all the way, before making a show of suddenly noticing it and batting it away. He was either trying to make Naruto under-estimate how far his sensory abilities stretched, or he was trying to make Naruto think he had actually only sensed the shuriken via sound, or air movements. Naruto was guessing at a combination of the two, but mostly the latter.

He could obviously sense chakra to an extent, but the feedback he was getting was far too detailed for it to have been simply a sensory ability. He was using some kind of technique to get his chakra to interact with the rest of the world, and getting a picture from that. The technique would be the way Naruto could win, he sensed - the boy was trying to make him focus too hard on his potential for improved basic senses, and miss the fact that he was using a jutsu or trick to enable him to 'see'.

All Naruto had to do was figure it out, and then stop it, and the fight would be his.

"Yeah, I know a little - seemed more convenient than carrying round a whole bunch of stuff." Naruto responded airily, trying to mask his own intelligence.

"Fuinjutsu is a very difficult skill to master."

"I haven't mastered it at all - I asked my sensei to draw the seals for me. He agreed 'cause he thought it was a pretty smart idea." A barefaced lie - no sense in giving away any of his abilities.

The Genin didn't reply, or even respond in any way, and Naruto was given more time to ponder his abilities, before his mind went back to something the Genin had said earlier. That he could sense Naruto's chakra, his strength. That didn't make any sense - why admit so casually that you can sense chakra, only to then go out of your way to distract from any chakra sensing abilities you might have? Furthermore - you can't sense how strong somebody is by their chakra! Sure you can tell how much somebody has, or how potent their chakra is - but that didn't equate to somebody's ability, skill or strength.

There was something he was missing, something he wasn't getting, and it was starting to get on his nerves. He summoned another shuriken and threw it, before racing through a set of hand-seals, and silently used the Shuriken Kage Bunshin no Jutsu to replicate it into a hundred shuriken in a wide arc in front of him. He watched as the Genin's eyes widened slightly as the shuriken materialized, before he replaced himself with a log using a Kawarimi - and then came barreling at Naruto from behind, forcing him to spin and parry the horizontal slash, signaling the start of a flurry of close range combat, as Naruto desperately blocked and parried his opponents relentless and frenzied strikes.

He ground his teeth together in frustration as he started being forced back by the Kusa-nin, and thanked his lucky stars for his training against Yuugao's sword. This boy was not even close to her level, but he was better than Naruto with a weapon, and it was only his practice against a real sword wielder that kept him in the game.

He decided to up the ante slightly, creating two Kage Bunshin behind the enemy; but to Naruto's utter horror, the guy span almost immediately and destroyed both just as they were forming, before rounding on him again. Shellshocked, Naruto tried once more to summon assistance, but paid for it as the Kusa-nin lashed out at one with a kick, slashed at the other, before bringing the grip of his katana to bear on the original, fiercely driving the pommel into Naruto's nose, possibly breaking it.

The blond tried to ignore the blooming, agonising pain and pouring blood as he reeled and stumbled back, stunned - and only just had the presence of mind to perform a Kawarimi of his own to dodge a strike aimed to cleave him open from pelvis to throat.

The enemy stared up at him, smiling, even as Naruto's mind raced. How an earth had he done that? It's almost like he was moving before they had even properly materialised... Wait, that's it! Not many people used Kage Bunshin enough to know the jutsu on the intimate level Naruto did - which was also why not many people knew that prior to a Kage Bunshin is formed, there is for a brief time, a dense gathering of chakra in the location it is forming in.

He was sensing the Kage Bunshin and striking, even before they had materialised, effectively drastically weakening his own fighting smile.

Naruto couldn't help the grin. He wasn't bad at all. What's more, the knowledge that he could sense pure chakra converted for jutsu use in the air, was yet another clue to unravelling this guy's abilities. Naruto had never heard of a sensory ability that allowed you to do that - there was definitely something going on here.

For now though, how to approach this fight against an opponent better than him in close quarters - his own expertise. Plus, he wanted to test this guy's physical limitations, as well as just how good his sensory abilities were.

Thank Kami for Jiraiya and his passion for ninjutsu that might well be greater than Naruto's own.

He silently created a large group of Kage Bunshin behind him, and had them fan out around the area, ready to take advantage of any opportunity they saw. If the guy could sense his Bunshin as they're being formed, than there were several ways to get around it - but the safest for somebody with as much chakra as Naruto was to simply create a bunch whenever enough space opened up for him to do so.

Destroying Bunshin as they formed was one thing, but destroying them once they'd already formed and were capable of defending themselves was quite another, and judging by the way the smile on his enemies face gave way to a frown, he knew it too.

Naruto grinned and threw out a cheeky wave to his opponent, before silently performing a Kawarimi with one of the clones that had spread out and hidden themselves in the dense forest around the clearing, and frowned slightly when the Kusa-nin began shifting his weight slightly, as if he wasn't certain where Naruto was. Was it a very skilled bluff, or was he genuinely confused as to where Naruto was? The latter would mean that his sensory technique had a range - he could sense everything within a certain distance from him. It was something Naruto could try to exploit, a small weakness - but he couldn't trust that it even existed.

He unsealed a kunai, and his opponent didn't react. Weakness or not, it was time to exact some payback out of this guy. Naruto had seen all too clearly the intent to execute Shino - and it had been far too close for Naruto's liking. The idea that he intended to go on and kill an already beaten Hinata only added to the fury that Naruto was holding back in order to keep his mind clear, something he was getting increasingly good at. Still, calm and collected or not, he could still hear Hinata and Shino's words of acceptance and offers of friendship ringing in his ears when he had told them about the Kyuubi; he could feel the bond he shared with Hana, someone who had known all along and had not judged him on anything other than the person he was - and then accepted and decided to befriend that person, Nine Tails and all. And here was a person who had tried to take that away. He'd tried to kill them.

The blond's focus was sharp, and his thoughts clear; but that didn't mean Naruto wasn't going exact his pound of flesh from this guy.

"Kunai Kage Bunshin no Jutsu." Several voices spoke the words at once, and Naruto threw his kunai; and in unison, the three Bunshin around him mirrored his action, and within moments, three kunai had become a veritable storm of bladed weapons hurtling towards the foe, who seemed to sense them a moment too late to truly dodge the onslaught.

The Kage Bunshin smirked at the momentary fear that their enemy had displayed when he sensed the kunai, and at the panic in his movements as he dashed to the side to get out of the way of as many as possible. 'Oh no you don't!' The Bunshin took a deep, gasping breath, before firing out a series of wind based spheres of cutting chakra, Futon: Goukuuhou, aimed just where the Kusa nin was attempting to escape to, forcing him to alter his route and leap backwards out of the way - only to be caught up in the onslaught of kunai with no time to Kawarimi away, frantically parrying and dodging the projectiles to no avail. Several blades nicked his legs, arms, and face, and one lodged itself directly in his thigh, eliciting a grunt of pain.

Naruto however, wasn't about to let up on the advantage he had while it was there. Before his opponent could recover from the barrage of kunai, two Kage Bunshin that had been using the Doton: Shinjū Zanshu no Jutsu to conceal themselves underground burst out from the forest floor either side of him, thrusting upwards with the end of their Sansetsukon. The Kusa-nin seemed to sense both, and shifted his weight to dodge the leading Bunshin's strike, and lashed out with a vicious stamp, dispelling it. The second Kage Bunshin adjusted the aim of it's thrust, and before the enemy could react, he landed a savage strike to the lower jaw, actually launching the shinobi into the air.

With the Kusagakure ninja dazed and airborne and thus unable to properly maneuver, the Kage Bunshin Naruto had replaced himself with followed up his earlier Futon attack by channeling his chakra through his Sansetsukon, and thrusting the end of the staff towards the body of his enemy, molding his chakra as though he was trying to shoot it from the tip of the weapon as a solid beam of chakra. The staff separated into it's three parts connected by Naruto's chakra, and behaved like an extendable pole, the final section firing off towards the enemy propelled by a rigid stream of Naruto's chakra. It slammed into the solar plexus of the Kusa-nin, catching him mid-air, and sending him spinning back into a tree, before slumping to the ground dazed from the sudden onslaught of attacks.

Naruto could see that the Kusa-nin was very clearly not permanently out of the game, and apparently several of his Kage Bunshin had realised this too, as another pair that had been hidden around the clearing burst out of hiding and took to the air next to each other, both taking a deep breath before firing out their respective jutsu, fully intending to put this fight to bed before this guy had really had a chance to go all out.

The Bunshin on the left fired out a high powered Futon: Daitoppa, pushing as much chakra into the technique as the Bunshin had, dispelling it; and the second Bunshin formed it's own technique, Katon: Goukakyuu, in precisely the same way, meaning both Bunshin had effectively only been worth this one attack.

But what an attack it was.

Not for the first time since Jiraiya had demonstrated the potential of combination attacks to him, Naruto was left in awe of the sheer power and destruction that the could mete out. The high powered Daitoppa had created a veritable maelstrom of deadly cutting winds, an almost inescapable wall of slicing force; but the moment the fireball created by the Katon technique caught the very edge of the chakra soaked winds, the two jutsus exploded together into a ferocious inferno that burnt hotter than just about anything Naruto had ever felt. It was a cascading wall of fire that Naruto had unleashed at his enemy, and it raced towards the shaken Kusa-nin at terrifying speeds, engulfing the entire area in scorching fire.

Naruto stood stock still as he waited for the fire to dissipate somewhat so he could ensure that his enemy was indeed defeated. The two Bunshin still left in the clearing itself stood similarly frozen, eyes nervously darting, searching for any sign of movement.

Quickly though, Naruto realised his mistake in unleashing such a fearsome Katon technique in this place. Smoke was beginning to fill the area as tree leaves and shrubbery in the dense forest burnt and the fire began to spread around. Within minutes it would be incredibly difficult to see, and smoke was already dense enough in some places to conceal a skilled shinobi.

According to it's memories, the first Kage Bunshin sensed absolutely nothing besides during the briefest moment between the kunai impacting the base of it's skull from behind and death. The second only caught the briefest flicker of smoke, and a flash of silver, before it's head was cleaved from it's body and it disappeared in a puff of smoke.

"I-" The voice that issued forth from within the smoke paused, taking several labored breaths before continuing more firmly than before. "I can't believe it has come to this. Forced to use Orochimaru-sama's gift for the first time, against a Konoha ninja. He told me I wouldn't need it, that Konoha was too weak... Does this mean that I'm not as strong as he expects? I can think about this later... All that matters for now is that I take my master's power, and use it to crush my enemy."

The Kusa-nin walked slowly out of the smoke while he spoke, a slight limp on his left side where the kunai wound was, his breathing ragged and difficult, obviously heavily damaged. His katana was still held on one hand, and the other tightly clutched a spot just where his neck met his shoulder. But, despite his exhausted appearance, Naruto couldn't help the knot of nervous tension that formed in his stomach at the mention of Orochimaru.

The Kusa team were working undercover for Orochimaru then. But did that mean Kusa had allied themselves with the Sannin? Or had the Genin team they'd sent just been yet more victims of Orochimaru and this pair of his subordinates in order to fulfill the twisted man's ambitions - whatever the hell they even were, besides getting at Konoha.

Naruto, for just a brief second found himself distracted by the thought of how strange the phrase 'allied themselves with the Sannin' actually was. Naruto's internal dialogue, and indeed the reality of the situation, was that the strength and value of the Sannin was such, that allying yourself with one was tantamount to being the equivalent of an alliance between two countries.

That was the kind of power Orochimaru wielded so casually. He was a Kage level ninja, and like Jiraiya, had used his life setting up a network of resources, contacts, and influence that he could use alongside his actual power - at least, as Jiraiya told it, anyway. He had enough of all of those elements to establish a network of bases so hidden, that even Jiraiya struggle to trace them, and then set up an entire hidden village, something that truly should have been had only conversed with him briefly about Orochimaru before refusing to say anymore outside of a warning not to fight him, and even then it had been strangely detached and professional, as if the older shinobi was simply giving a report on the man's capability to harm Konoha - a defense mechanism Naruto thought entirely understandable. What Jiraiya had said however, was that the village the man had established in combination with the Sannin's treacherous cunning, now possessed the military might to cause serious damage to Konoha.

An alliance with the right village (or the wrong one, you could say), and there might not be a Konoha left to fix up once the man made his move.

The blond's eyes hardened further, as his resolve to end this shinobi's life re-solidified. Orochimaru was in the forest, along with a team from his village, and several guys undercover. That was already an alarming amount of enemies to have, essentially, infiltrated Konoha. Jiraiya was certain that Orochimaru was gearing up to make a move, and it looked like this was part of it.

He wasn't naive enough to believe that Suna's heavy presence at these exams was a coincidence either, especially given Gaara's presence. If the Snake has truly formed an alliance with Sunagakure, things were going to get incredibly unpleasant, and as he was now, there was only so much he could do. Beat this guy, beat Gaara, and the other Genin when the time came, perhaps. The real conflict would be settled between Jiraiya, Orochimaru, the Sandaime, and the Jonin of the villages.

That said, his fight against Gaara could end up crucial. If Gaara was capable of loosing his Bijuu within the village... It didn't bear thinking about. Naruto had to stop him before that happened.

Suddenly, Naruto shivered involuntarily; a wave of instinctive fear and nausea breaking over him, his body reacting naturally to the utterly foul chakra that was now seeping from the clearing like a pestilent miasma, it's sheer malevolence reaching the blond's very core. Any other Genin would have been frozen in terror, sickened and terrified of the chakra that was apparently pouring from his now grinning enemy - but Naruto wasn't any Genin.

A brief impetuous thought stole through his mind that if this guy wanted to compare evil chakras, Naruto should show him exactly who he was messing with. He crushed it in favor of peering at his foe, curious black marks now covering his face that had morphed into an expression of maniacal glee. Naruto noticed a moment too late that his milky blind eyes were fixed squarely upon him.

"My master's gift improves my senses more than you can imagine. I see you."

"The Hokage Tower - unharmed and undiscovered." The small amphibian stated, a slight hint of pride in the accomplishment coloring his voice. Shino bowed his head in thanks after shaking off the sensation of being forced out of the toads mouth, and marveling slightly at how complex the jutsu must have been.

"We are in your debt, Hyōro-san."

"Not at all kid. We're not the sort to let Naruto-kun's comrades get hurt. Besides, he's the one doing the fighting that gave you the chance to get away." Out of the corner of his eye, Shino noticed Hinata's head jerk up from where she was treating some of an unconscious Kiba's smaller injuries with some medicinal cream.

"N-Nartuo-kun is still fighting them?" Hinata spoke for the first time since she had woken up inside the toad and begun to silently treat her team-mates, shock and worry clearly evident in her voice.

"Ah yes, I suppose you wouldn't know, having been out of it at the time. The look in Naruto-kun's eyes... No, Naruto has no intention of walking away from that battle. He's rather like Minato-kun and Jiraiya-kun in that respect. I'm not sure how well you truly know him, but he will not forgive the attempt on your life easily - nor will he allow the threat to his comrades those shinobi posed to persist. He intends to protect you all, one way or another. I wouldn't worry yourselves too much, he's stronger than I think you know."

And with that, the toad disappeared in an explosion of smoke, no doubt returning to wherever the clan of toads resided. Shino turned his attention to Hinata, who had gone peculiarly rigid at the toad's declaration, before she began hurriedly rummaging through Kiba's ninja tools.


The girl uncharacteristically ignored him, before she removed her hand from the holster she had been searching through in grim triumph, and suddenly, Shino knew exactly what Hinata intended to do.

"Hinata, you can't-"

"I won't let him fight by himself and do nothing. Not... Not when it's to p-protect us..." I won't let him risk his life for me. "I m-might be weak... But if I can do anything to help, even if it's just distracting the enemy..." Even if die trying... "I'm a shinobi of Konoha, and I will do it!"

Shino's mouth snapped shut at Hinata's fierce tone, at the determined expression - neither of which he had ever seen from his Hyuuga team-mate before, and Hinata used the stunned silence to pop the soldier pill she had taken from Kiba, activate her Byakugan, and dart off into the forest at a speed she shouldn't have been capable of in her condition.

Shino wanted to curse incredibly loudly as he glanced between his rapidly disappearing team-mate, and the other on the floor. Instead, he settled for clenching and unclenching his fists under the long sleeves of his coat, a gesture unusually expressive for the Aburame.

Hinata had put him in an impossible position. There was every possibility that Hinata's exhausted body would give out before she even reached Naruto, even if she managed to progress without running into another team. Running into another team would at best, result in her defeat, as fighting three on one in her condition was impossible. Even then, should she actually reach Naruto's fight, there would be nothing she could do. The enemy was too strong.

Truthfully, Shino had no idea how strong Naruto was; but he understood that as a shinobi, there came a time that he simply had to place his faith in his comrade's strength as there was nothing he could do to help.

Now, Shino had to choose. Leave Kiba, out cold and undefended; or stay and leave Hinata to her fate in the forest. He stole another glance at his remaining team-mate, and made his decision. Kiba might begrudge him hiding the Inuzuka and leaving him with naught but a few insects for protection, but he would never be forgiven if he stayed and Hinata got hurt.

Hinata raced through the forest at a speed that she scarcely thought she had been capable of.

She felt incredible as the chakra and energy provided to her by the pill raced through her body, artificially boosting her beyond her limits. She felt just as strong as she did normally, if not even stronger.

She knew however, that it was a lie. Under the adrenaline and pill-induced euphoria, she knew her muscles frayed and screamed for rest, and her body begged for a respite. She knew, that even should she reach Naruto, and they won their fight, she would be in a bad way when the effects of the pill wore off. Truthfully, she wasn't even sure how long the pill would give her. You burnt through it faster the harder you pushed the body and the limits of it's effects.

She might not even make it to Naruto before her body stopped her dead in her tracks.

It did not matter.

Even as she ran, she knew she wasn't strong enough to protect him, but it did not matter. She had to try.

She admired him, and looked up to him. She was constantly inspired by his strength and determination to push on no matter what obstacles faced him, his ability to smile and laugh in the face of all of the obstacles and opposition that stood in his way... There were other feelings there, still growing and changing in ways even she didn't understand; and she'd be the first to admit, albeit only to herself, that she had developed a sizable crush on the blond. But she could honestly say that those feelings didn't come into this.

All that really mattered, was that they were friends, and comrades. And, as far as she was concerned, Naruto had stood and fought alone for far too long. She had watched him fight and struggle and done nothing far too many times.

Silently, there and then, she swore that he wouldn't have to stand alone ever again; no matter what he faced.

Kin stared at her rescuers grim expression as they sat in silence among the trees - within which, this Genin and his team-mate had apparently established a make shift camp - and wondered what he could be thinking that caused such a look. It was one that seemed to be a complete contradiction of the kind, reassuring smile that he had given her before there escape; and was an expression that she had already mentally associated on a deep level with the Konoha Genin in front of her.

She would never forget it, she was certain. It was the face of the shinobi who had saved her from death and worse. No matter how her life went from now - and considering she was, for all intents and purposes, in the hands of a village that were technically her mortal enemy until about an hour ago, it truly could go either way - she would be eternally grateful to Naruto.

The blond though, appeared to notice her attention, and his face eased into a friendly smile. Kin though, already having been aware of his mood, saw through the admittedly flawless faked grin. His intent to reassure was genuine, she was certain. But he was tense and worried, and the smile never quite reached his eyes.

"I guess I should explain to what the deal is from here on out. This is where my team-mate and I had camped out, trying to make sure the rest of the Konoha Genin made it through the exam okay. I can't really go into much detail, obviously, but there were plenty of reasons to be concerned. All of our teams have made it through the forest now, and almost all the real threats have been dealt with. My summon is dealing with your team, and the real me and my team-mate is fighting the last truly dangerous team."

Kin frowned in confusion. "The real you?"

"Ah! You might not have heard and noticed considering what was going on and everything, but I'm actually a Kage Bunshin."

The former Otogakure kunoichi just stared. A Bunshin. The Genin that had rescued her, that was talking to her now, was a Bunshin.

Not only that, but she knew how chakra intensive Kage Bunshin was - she knew also, that it was a kinjutsu. This was a shinobi capable of using Kage Bunshin, and creating clones with enough of their own chakra to summon and fight, and then stick around long enough to get her away. Just who was this guy? Then what he had said really hit home. The real him was fighting.

"Is that why you're so tense? You're fighting someone powerful?"

Naruto nodded seriously. "Way too powerful to actually be a Genin. He's wearing a Kusa hitai-ate, but he's admitted he's working for Orochimaru. A blind katana user." Naruto paused, and glanced at her curiously. "You know anything about him?"

"Yeah..." Kin started, swallowing thickly as she drew upon her memories of one of Orochimaru's many... Fascinations. "He was somebody Orochimaru-sam-" She cut herself of and scowled at her instinctive use of an honorific for her former master's name. "Somebody Orochimaru found and picked up because of a weird ability he had. He loves people like that, with weird or unique techniques or abilities... Takes them in, studies them, and tries to see if he can replicate them. Anyway, his name is Kōsai. Orochimaru took a special interest in him for a while, taught him a few jutsu and a kenjutsu style. About a year ago, he lost interest. Stopped tutoring him and started shipping him out on missions that probably should have killed him... It happens to everyone he loses interest in."

She sighed. "They never did, and he kept improving. Even Orochimaru couldn't ignore that. Kōsai started gaining notoriety in Oto, and climbing the ranks. He's a shoe in for joining the Orochimaru's personal guard - he even got the curse mark a few months ago."

"Curse mark? Those weird black markings?" He asked her, with an intensity that surprised her.

"Yeah? How do you know what they look like?"

"He's using it now. He's gotten way more powerful. The real me's having a spot of trouble."

"A spot of trouble?!" Kin cried, not thinking to ask exactly how Naruto knew what was happening in the original's fight in her worry. "If he's using the mark you have to get out of there! I don't know much of his ability, but I know he's strong even without it, and the mark makes you impossibly strong when you use it! You have to run!"

He scowled at her, and she backed off, suddenly realising she had gotten right up into his face trying to make her point. She colored slightly as she realised just how worried about him she had sounded, and how completely in opposition it was to the personality she had constructed for herself when she was working for Orochimaru.

"I-if you want to get yourself killed, that's fine by me. But at least wait until you've gotten me out of here and have handed me over to your village or whatever before you do it." She said with a poor attempt at a measure of finality.

Naruto's face softened, and he offered he a small smile. "Don't you worry about me, I've got a couple of things up my sleeve yet. The original's on the back foot, but I'm far from done. This guy's going down. Do you know what ability it was that had Orochimaru interested in him? Or perhaps even how he manages to sense his surroundings?"

She wanted to protest that he should run even further, but her own pride got in the way. "They're the same thing, the way I heard it. I've never even sparred or fought the guy, but Dosu, one of my team-mates is pretty good at sounding out information about people in my village. He said Orochimaru was interested in him because he used some kind of weird ambient chakra to see."

Naruto went rigid as the implications of what Kin was saying hit him. "Ambient chakra... As in, chakra that's just naturally in the air and environment around us?"

"Yeah, something like that. I've never heard of anything like that before though, it always seemed strange to me. Then again, I could say the same for half the guys that Orochimaru was interested in."

Naruto grinned fiercely at that. He'd finally figured out how this guy could see, he was sure. What's more, he had the perfect way to counter it, and render the guy blind, if everything went to plan.

"Right then-" Naruto started, an excited smile, resulting in a very confused Kin. "-I suppose I should explain exactly what I'm gonna try and do with you when we get out of here, and explain a few other things, before I dispel myself."

Kin started at that, and for the first time since she had been rescued, felt a stab of fear. "Why would you dispel yourself?"

"The original me needs to know what you just told me. I think it's crucial to beating this Kōsai guy, and when Kage Bunshin dispel, they transfer their memories to the original and any surviving Bunshin. It's the best way to get the message across without letting the enemy know that a message has even been delivered."

She grimaced at the knowledge that Naruto really did have to dispel. Being left alone so soon after what had happened, without even knowing what had happened to Dosu and Zaku, absolutely terrified her. But she supposed that was better than Naruto not getting information he needed and dying because of it, so she nodded despite herself. "So, what's going to happen when the real you gets here?"

"Try not to worry too much about it. Normally the procedure would be to hand you straight over to our interrogation guys since you've worked for Orochimaru, and let's just say they wouldn't be too pleasant about it no matter how willing you claimed to be about forking information over." Naruto shot her a reassuring smile, and it made her feel better despite the pit that had begun to form in her stomach. Konoha's interrogation department was infamous world over for a reason. Other shinobi liked to joke about how 'soft' Konoha ninja were, about their peace loving ninja and Hokage; but there was not a single person who had heard the rumours and stories told by shinobi that had been captured and released about Morino Ibiki, and did not fear capture by Konoha more than by just about any other village.

"Fortunately for you, I'm not really a standard procedure kind of guy. Even more fortunately for you, my Master happens to be Jiraiya of the Sannin; and he knows I wouldn't tell him you could be trusted unless I was dead certain. At the very least, that'll count for enough for the Sandaime to talk to you before we do anything else. So long as you're honest, and you answer everything as best as you can, the Old Man will do what he can to keep you safe from Orochimaru. You'll probably still have to talk to the interrogation guys, but talk is all that'll happen as long as you were straight with the Old Man."

The brunette blinked owlishly at Naruto, forgetting momentarily about the imminent threat of torture and what was tantamount to an interrogation by one of the five strongest ninja in the whole world. This kid was being personally taught by Jiraiya. The Jiraiya. Every bit as strong as Orochimaru Jiraiya. He seemed to be close enough to the Sandaime, the God of Shinobi for Kami's sake, to feel he could get away with calling him 'Old Man'.

Just who the hell was this guy?

"As for leaving you here, you shouldn't worry too much. I used what was basically the last of my chakra and summoned a toad while you were spaced out earlier after we got away from your team to send a message to Jiraiya. He knows who and where you are, and why you're with me. He's sticking around in the forest during the exam to stop Orochimaru from doing anything. I haven't seen or sensed him, but I know he's watching, and he won't let anything happen to you."

Naruto paused, looking slightly uncomfortable. "I don't really want to say this, because I really don't think you will try anything, but I feel like I should anyways... Jiraiya being here works both ways. I told him I think you're genuine, and that Orochimaru might be after you, so he'll be keeping an eye on you to keep you safe. But he's not nearly as freely trusting as me when Orochimaru's involved, so don't give him any reason to think you're trying to escape or anything like that... Just sit tight until I come and get you, okay?"

Kin nodded quickly before replying. "Of course. This... This is better than I ever could have hoped for. An hour ago I thought I would be dead, and you've already rescued me, and given me a chance... I don't intend to throw that away, Naruto. I owe you."

Naruto smiled widely, before he seemingly remembered something. "Oh, that's right! I never really introduced myself, did I? Well Tsuchi Kin, my name is Uzumaki Naruto; shinobi of Konoha, and future Hokage. Nice to meet you!" He reached out his hand for Kin to shake, and the girl smirked before reaching out in return, and shook his hand back.

The handshake lasted only for the briefest of moments, before Uzumaki Naruto exploded into a cloud of smoke, leaving a bemused Kin alone in the treetops, wondering exactly what was to come for her.

Either way, it was one hell of a step up from Orochimaru.

A pair of webbed blue hands gripped the Genin's skull by the back of the cranium and the jaw, and yanked in opposite directions, instantaneously breaking the boy called Zaku's neck before dropping his lifeless corpse to the floor.

Gamasenso always felt a tinge of sadness when he was forced to take a life no matter what kind of enemy they were, and it was multiplied infinitely when it was someone so young. It was a pity. The boy's shinobi techniques were unique, if a touch predictable, and he obviously trained intensely hard to achieve the level he was at.

Unfortunately, Gamasenso was strong, and the boy too brash and impetuous. He hadn't noticed the toad working him into the corner until it was too late, and the toad suddenly threw itself forward, landing several devastating strikes to the boy, effectively taking him out of the game.

He was out cold when the summon finished him just to be certain.

The other boy on the other hand, Dosu, Gamasenso was certain had noticed the toad's focus on his team-mate, and had decided that getting a look at his abilities was worth more than his team-mates life. Gamasenso truly didn't enjoy killing, but there was a certain kind of satisfaction in ending this particular kind of scum. Remorseless killers, people so twisted that they were utterly irredeemable. It was written in his eyes, just as it was written in the boy's dirtied chakra. If he wasn't killed here, he would carry on his killing upon the orders of that twisted snake he called master, spreading misery, pain, and hatred.

Just as well he died here, in that case.

His powerful back legs allowed him to launch himself at his enemy, covering the distance in one enormous leap, webbed fist impacting with bandaged face, sending him sprawling backwards dazed.

Their fight had been going on for around ten minutes, and Dosu and Zaku had been about to drop from exhaustion before the toad had decided to wrap up the fight. His ears rung from Dosu's peculiar sound based jutsu, and he had sustained a few light blows, including a glancing hit from the Futon technique of the other child; but overall, Gamasenso could see why Naruto was so disappointed to have required his assistance here.

This wasn't the first fight they had both imagined together during their time training and sparring. It simply wasn't worthy.

Dosu struggled to his feet shakily, beaten and bloody, his breath ragged and tired. The boy was dead. He just wasn't aware of it yet.

"S-surely there is some k-kind of deal we could make? My master-"

"I want for nothing from your foul master, boy." The toad spat in the face of his enemy's begging. "Your master is the reason you will lose your life today. The toads of Mt. Myoboku will have no mercy for those who work under that man, nor those who threaten the home of out summoners. You are doing both."

The panicked expression in Dosu's eyes only grew more desperate, and he took a deep breath, before darting back into the trees in an attempt to escape his fate.

"Coward." The muttered insult was heard by no one as the toad gave chase, and moments later, Kinuta Dosu was dead.

Gamasenso sighed softly to himself. "Next time, then, Naruto. Next time, we shall fight alongside each other properly, against a truly worthy opponent. Until then, my friend."

And with that, the shaolin toad returned to Mt. Myoboku, the only evidence of his presence the two corpses of his defeated foes.

Shock kept her in place for far longer than it should have done. No human could still be standing after the injuries she had given this guy, no human could still be alive.

And yet, here he was, yellow predatory eyes gazing at her, ribs protruding from wounds on his chest, and leg broken.

The colour change of his eyes should have told Hana that he was about to do something, and the maniacal grin, and assured confidence the mortally wounded Genin held himself with should have confirmed it. But all Hana could do was stand and stare at the enemy before her defying everything she knew about medicine and the human body.

"Before I joined Orochimaru-sama, I could only do this at certain times, on certain nights... But he found a way, a way that I could use my power whenever I saw fit." He rasped softly, but Hana didn't really register his words as she tried to wrap her head around the sight before her. "Before I met him I was just a freak, a monster. People hated me, they feared me... But when I met him, I became useful... I had a purpose..."

Hana still wasn't really paying attention as she frantically examined the wounds he had suffered, trying to work out how they weren't fatal; but finally she was brought out of her stupor by the whimpering of the triplets, and finally she noticed it.

The stink of unnatural chakra that had began to seep through the area of their fight, the pair of them having moved away from Naruto during their opening skirmish. It was growing, emanating from the Kusa shinobi in front of them, and it made Hana's skin crawl, her instincts screaming at her to retreat, to escape. It reeked of predator, roared danger at her and like her ninken, she had instinctively tensed and dropped into a defensive crouch.

"Good. You sense it. Your instincts understand what I am better than you ever could. You should listen to them, Konoha girl." The shinobi grinned at her, wide-eyed, blood still leaking from his mouth, filling the gaps between his teeth. He wanted her to run. She didn't know how she knew, but she knew. He wanted her to run, so he could chase. So he could hunt. "Not going to run? A shame. Stretching my legs would have been enjoyable... Never mind. Watch closely Konoha girl, this will be the last thing you ever see."

A smart ass response caught in Hana's throat, her usual capacity for insults and trash talk stopped dead in the face of the sudden sharpening of the chakra all around her, the focusing of it, and the gradual withdrawal of it from the environment... Directly back into her enemy, who was now looking at the ground, fists clenched, and a look of intense concentration on his face.

Suddenly, the Genin's shoulders spasmed violently, jerking wildly several times, forcing him into a pained hunch, panting loudly from the sheer pain. Suddenly, his right arm convulsed independently from the rest of his body, and with what seemed to be great effort, he drew it up to his own face, watching with intense fascination as five three inch long claws ripped themselves free from under his skin, blood flowing freely from the wounds.

Hana watched with a sense of morbid horror, terrified to look, but even more terrified to look away as the process repeated itself with his other hand; only this time, attached to the claws were five entirely new fingers, larger, but still somehow appearing long and spindly, covered in a thick earthy brown fur. The new fingers seemed to force their way out of both of his hands, leaving his old fingers dangling loosely, almost as if they hung from a hinge at the knuckle, blood flowing freely down the skin of his arms.

Soon, the process came full circle, as his old hand were torn apart, the skin on the palms stretched and then torn down the middle, as entirely new hands forced their way out from underneath; expanding even as they did so, sinewy muscle visibly stretching and shifting unnaturally beneath ragged fur matted with the man's own blood.

Without warning, the man let loose a half roar, half strangled scream of agony, and literally tore the shirt from his body and dropped into a deeper hunch to the point where Hana could see his upper back, convulsing and jerking as he did so. The flesh beneath the skin across his back seemed to ripple and bubble, bulging, testing the limits of the flesh above; until suddenly, the skin tore away all the way across his upper back, a new, larger, more muscled back forcing it's way out in a torrent of blood and torn muscle, splintered remains of the old spinal column and ribcage pinging away from the monstrosity, as a whole new creature tried to escape from the inside of what had once been an enemy shinobi.

He jerked his head up, yellow eyes meeting her own, and his mouth wrenched open in a silent scream of sheer terrible pain, before Hana heard a sickening crack, and the man's lower jaw dropped slack, his mouth wider than it would normally be possible to go. He began to choke it seemed, coughing and hacking as though he was a cat trying to remove a hairball from it's throat, until Hana finally caught sight of an elongated snout that screamed wolf at her emerging from within his mouth.

Like the rest of the creature, the snout forced it's way from him using pure brute force, the man's face splitting horizontally across his jaw line, his lower jaw dropping to the ground with nothing left keeping it attached; before his head was torn in half vertically from the upper lip straight to the top of his skull, the two halves of what had been his head flopping to the floor after his jaw, leaving only the enormous half-man, half-wolf head of the beast underneath, the man's blood moistening it's fur.

The creature jerked upright, and the man's corpse, split in half, stretched and torn, slumped to the floor; now nothing more than a fleshy sack of whatever was left of the man's internal organs.

Even through her own shock, and sheer terror, Hana almost instinctively searched for her enemies previous injuries, only to find they were no longer there.

The wolf-man stood before her, pure menace and hate, it's fur moist from blood, and it's terrifying yellow eyes fixated hungrily upon her. It somehow stood upright, towering several feet above Hana herself, it's shoulders broad and slightly hunched; it's body heavily muscled, each tendon visible to her twitching occasionally, indicating that it was ready to burst into motion at any given moment.

Hana however, perhaps understandably could not tear her eyes away from the teeth lining the creatures unmistakably lupine jaw. They were enormous, terrifying things; lining his jaw like the jagged silhouette of an indomitable mountain range. They were designed only to tear flesh from bone, to kill, and then consume, and even for one raised among dogs bred to behave and kill more as wolves than as actual dogs, these things terrified her right to her very core.

This was not a natural creature, not a being produced by any kind of evolution, nor God. It was not even a demon, or supernatural spirit. It was a twisted mutation of nature, born of the taint of evil encroaching upon life. It had to be. Hana could not believe it was anything else. For this to be natural was too horrifying a thing for her to comprehend or accept. For it to be a demon or spirit meant her life was surely forfeit, for she was not the Yondaime, or anything even close. She could not beat a demon.

Evil though, evil was something she could fight. It pervaded humanity and nature at every level, infecting anything it could; and therefore it came at different levels of strength. If this was a creature of evil, she had a chance. She could fight,

And she was an Inuzuka, she was sure as hell going to fight. If nothing else, she couldn't allow this perversion of nature, this twisted form of the canine species to continue to exist. It was wrong, and every instinct, every impulse inherited from thousands of years of ancestors screamed it at her.

It opened it's jaws wide, and cocked it's head back to the sky, and let loose a horrifying howl; a call to the hunt so very much like that of true wolves, but also almost the exact opposite. The howl of wolves was a wonderfully haunting sound, an age old song that told the tale of an aeon of hunts, of victories and defeats, of triumphs, and of loss. It told of the ranges and forests that wolves made their home, and of the instinct that drove them in everything they did. A wolf cry spoke to the Inuzuka in an incomprehensible way, that Hana couldn't even begin to explain or describe, apart from that it was beautiful.

This howl held no beauty or song. It told no stories, and it contained no inherited history. All it spoke to her of, was the pain of the creature before her. The tearing agony that it suffered for every moment it remained alive and unsated. It was a foul thing, and it made her blood run cold all over again. Her ninken had remained stoic during the horrifying transformation, prowling agitatedly behind her, waiting for the conclusion and inevitable attack. Only now, upon hearing that hideous noise, did the triplets flinch back, and display their own individual horror at what was happening before them, hackles raised, ears flat back against their skulls, growling defensively at the wolf-creature.

It seemed to grin at their fear momentarily, enjoying the sight of it, before dropping to all fours and launching itself at them, covering the distance faster than Hana could have imagined possible for such a gangly, ungainly creature; lashing out ferociously with it's enormous front claws, Hana only having just enough time to scramble to the side and avoid the blow, whilst giving one of the triplets a chance to launch an impromptu Gatsuuga at the creature.

She couldn't be sure, but she was certain that the close range affected the potency of the technique, because the creature shifted to the left slightly, before throwing all of it's weight into a vicious right handed strike aimed at the side of the spinning tornado her ninken had created; eliciting a sharp yelp from the canine and stopping the technique dead, and sending the ninken tumbling away with several deep gashes along it's side.

Hana stood in shocked silence. She had seen Gatsuuga countered, avoided, and defeated before. She had seen it defended against. But she had never seen a ninken simply brushed aside and struck mid-way through the technique - it was supposed to be impossible.

A sharp warning bark from one of the triplets shook her free of the shock - it was a scolding one, a rare reprimand from one of her partners. Her ninken, unlike her, had ignored their surprise in favor of trying to co-ordinate an attack, much like true wolves. They had launched a Gatsuuga each, low and from the creatures sides, the simultaneous attack forcing the creature to leap to avoid, leaving it vulnerable in the air. Her job should have been to take advantage of that fact.

Her partners now needed a few seconds to recover, and now she was vulnerable and the creature knew it. For some reason, it was fixated on her, and it ignored the even more vulnerable and closer ninken to dash at her, forcing her into a series of ducks, rolls, and desperate scrambles away from attacks certain to be totally fatal should they hit. Interestingly enough, she recognised the attack patterns the creature used, and was using that to gain a fraction of a second of time on the creature - it was the same as the enemy before had been using, almost as if he had created it and practiced it with the wolf in mind.

Was the Genin still in there somewhere? Was it some kind of elaborate transformation technique?

A claw lashed out dangerously close to her face, and even nicked her just beneath the eye, and Hana decided such distracting thoughts were better considered later. Preferably when this thing's head was on a plaque on her bedroom wall, and it's bloodstained and matted fur had been washed and turned into a damn rug.

She rolled to her left, avoiding a hammer blow of a vertical slash, taking out two kunai as she did so; the claws provided by the still-active Shikyaku no Jutsu insufficient to penetrate the creatures hide, and stepped inside the creature's guard, ducking and weaving through the flurry of blows, before lashing out with the bladed weapons in her own strikes, treating them as they were her own claws.

Her first attack landed home, a heavy slash across the creatures left breast, carving a deep gash into it's torso, finally drawing some of it's thick, almost black blood. Triumph was short, and the creature snarled at her before the intensity of it's attacks increased, and the predictable attack pattern turned into a flurry of feral strikes that Hana was hard pushed to avoid.

Her muscles strained and burnt, her body being pushed to the limits even with the Shikyaku no Jutsu active, almost unable to react at the speeds she required. She moved to duck under a left handed slash intended to remove her head from her neck, but was forced to desperately readjust when the attack stopped, only for a right handed jab that would spear her through the heart to replace it in an impressive display of body muscle from the beast, and Hana staggered back to avoid the blow.

Off balance, she was easy pickings for the follow up, and the creatures massive, powerful left hand gripped her by the throat, and lifted her off the ground, and squeezed robbing her entirely of the ability to breathe. She jabbed desperately at the creatures wrist and arms with her kunai, and through her rapidly blotching and darkening vision she saw her ninken leap to her rescue, leaping up onto the creature intending to take chunks out of it's throat, only to be beaten aside by it's remaining hand.

However, outside of her vision, working it's way behind the wolf-man, was the third of her partners, heavily injured and bleeding badly. It launched itself into another desperate Gatsuuga to save her, aimed at it's back - but the creature sensed it, and spun to face him, and repeated the maneuver from before, sending the ninken tumbling away, injured even further than it had been previously.

That moment of distraction, that slight lapse of focus on squeezing the life out of her was all that she needed. The creature had given her enough air to force her way free from it's grip and drive her kunai into it's throat at the jugular, forcing it to drop her and stagger back clutching at the wound, howling in agony.

She fell to the ground spluttering and choking, desperately taking massive, gulping breaths, reveling momentarily in her regained ability to breathe. Her muscles burned fiercely, and a deep, heavy ache of exhaustion had set in, and she knew her Shikyaku no Jutsu had worn off at last, and that she was at her physical limit.

The medical ninja watched grimly as the creature tore the kunai from it's throat, followed by an almost comical spray of blood from the wound until it reverted to a more natural pouring flow; before it turned it's narrowed, angry, lupine eyes upon her once more.

There was only one recourse really available to her now. A jutsu between her and her ninken that they had not even close to perfected - though to be fair, their clan was one hundred shinobi strong, with two dozen Jonin level, and of them only her mother had. If she had not tried to learn this in secret in preparation for these exams, it was likely she would be regarded prodigiously for coming as far with it as she had, for it was the very pinnacle of Inuzuka jutsu.

"The two of you who aren't wounded, on me. We have to try that." The two of her ninken without serious injury eyed her determinedly, even as the wolf-creature began to stalk towards them, rage in it's eyes, and lined up either side of her as she crouched down and placed either hand upon the back of each. "Focus. Our chakras and intents need to be perfectly in sync, working in perfect harmony. We may not have this down perfectly - not even close, but we've got it well enough to take down this freak."

She grinned slightly as she felt the chakra of her partners stir wildly, but with a focus upon her purpose. It was one of the most difficult parts of the jutsu, following the wild, animalistic chakra of the ninken. Inuzuka were naturally more wild than most other humans; but they were still people, the impulse to control and refine one's instinctual impulses was still strong in them, and so submitting to one's basic instincts to truly become one with their partners - whilst also remaining in control - was phenomenally hard.

Her relationship with her ninken was strong - stronger than almost any within her clan - and that had been the key to her incredible success in getting as far as she could. She felt their chakras begin to stir and blend together, combining together within their chakra pathways almost violently, but all three different forced moving in sync, with a unified purpose.

Even their chakra behaved as though a pack, and Hana as the alpha led the jutsu to it's completion.

If the wolf could understand human speech, all it would have heard was a soft intonation of "Jinjū Kongō Henge: Santōrō", before it's target was obscured by an enormous explosion of smoke.

It watched with curiosity, even as it continued to stalk forward towards it's prey was hidden by the smoke, wondering what the small creatures would attempt next in order to escape their fate. Suddenly, it paused as it's instincts screamed at it to evade. It did so, leaping to the left, even as an enormous creature flew out of the smoke, snarling and chomping, clawed paw raised and swiping with enough force to actually fatally the wolf-creature.

It regarded it's new foe cautiously, growling lowly as it skidded across the floor and turned to face him, allowing the wolf to truly see it's new enemy. It was a large, canine-like creature, easily larger than him; it's muscles finely sculpted, perfectly designed for hunting, it's jaws lined with teeth long and sharp enough tear even the creature limb from limb. But it was not this that had the creature on edge.

It was the fact that the new enemy had three heads, all individually snarling and biting at him; six beady black eyes staring at it, transmitting their intent to end the creatures existence. For the second time in all the times this creature had come into existence, it felt a trickle of fear; the twinge of it's own long unused fight or flee reaction, instructing it to flee.

It crushed the unfamiliar feeling ruthlessly. It was the apex predator here. Before him stood an enormous, dangerous beast, but the wolf was not fooled. Underneath it was the small morsel. Easy to rend, to cleave to pieces and consume. Nothing but weak flesh and blood. Prey.

The creature flung itself forward intent on proving this to be true, launching into a ferocious flurry of clawed strikes with superhuman strength pushed into each, it's entire intent dedicated to ripping this new enemy asunder. But intent soon gave way to frustrated anger as the three-headed foe reacted faster, and stuck back infinitely more powerfully than the girl and her pack had ever been capable of. His first two strikes had been evaded, and then his third and fourth were caught in the jaws of the heads on either side of the central one, before the enemy brought up a fiercely swinging paw, claws extended, intending to open the wolf creature up from lower stomach to throat, spilling his insides onto the forest floor.

The creature though, twisted out of the clamped jaws just in time, jumping back so that the claws only grazed it, carving three deep gashes on it's abdomen. On sheer instinct, the creature lashed out with it's hind leg as it leapt back, it's own claws carving four cuts across the face of the central head.

Both with freshly bleeding wounds, the two evenly matched canine creature regarded each other carefully, circling one another, clearly now evenly matched. On an unspoken, silent signal, the two launched at each other again, claws flying, jaws lashing out at the other in an attempt to land anything more than superficial wounds on the other, before after a few minutes, they separated again, fresh bleeding wounds equally distributed among both.

Hana panted slightly in her new form, as the wolf-creature did the same, her body on fire as her chakra strained and fought against her own control, attempting to force her to let go of the jutsu that her body was not quite ready for yet. The physical strain of the transformation was extraordinary, and she knew, almost for certain, that she would at the very least, not be able to fight again until she rested once she let go of this jutsu.

Before that happened, she needed to kill her enemy, or else it would be her that died.

Despite everything however, she was feeling confident. She had pulled off one of her clan's most advanced, most difficult ninjutsu, and was fighting equally with the creature with it. More importantly, she was now certain that this wolf-thing had no techniques. It was pure beast, entirely physical prowess and instinct.

In that respect, she could match the creature - at least until her endurance gave out. However, unlike the beast, she in her new form did have a technique. All she needed was to work the room to use it.

They launched themselves at each other again, their flurry of strikes too fast for almost any Genin that had entered this exam to even keep up with, let alone try and counter; before Hana and her ninken as one, decided to try and change tact. The beast was pure instinct, it could only fight in one predictable way. Hana however, provided creativity and intelligence to combine with the base instincts of her ninken, creating an all around more effective and terrifying predator.

The cerberus-like transformation ducked low under a desperate slash, it's hind legs bent as though ready to pounce, before it launched itself, head lowered and shoulder first at the wolf-creature; barreling into it with force that Hana and her ninken couldn't hope to match individually - even with the Gatsuuga. The creature stumbled back clumsily, shocked at the sudden blunt impact so at odds with their previous battle of tooth and claw; and finally, enough space and time opened up between the two creatures for Hana to use their trump card.

She ignored the protests of her body as she readied the chakra for the technique, and she grew in confidence as she felt the chakras of her ninken join her, fully synchronised in purpose. She had only ever pulled this off two or three times before now, but somehow, she just knew that this time would be a success.

"Ooiga Gatenga!"

Hana surged forward in her transformed state, rolling into a ball as she flew at her opponent as fast as her legs could send her; the momentum, extended claws, and chakra turning her into a spinning ball of flesh-tearing destruction, ripping towards the wolf-creature almost like a giant circular saw.

The wolf had no chance to move or dodge, off-balance and stumbling as it was, and the attack tore into it's abdomen mercilessly, ripping and rending the flesh of the creature in a shower of gore, carving a crater into the creatures chest, paying no mind to the organs and entrails being ground into a fine red mist. Hana had long since lost awareness of anything other than her determination to make sure this attack downed her for permanently. She felt the successful impact, and poured every ounce of her chakra into maintaining the technique for long enough for it to be a fatal blow.

It could have been minutes, or mere seconds, but to her, it felt like she had been hours since her attack had hit when her body finally gave out; the reduction of her momentum finally freeing the lifeless wolf-creature corpse to flop back and tumble away from her, and her and her ninken, the transformation finally undone by exhaustion, dropped to the floor in an energy less stupor.

For minutes she simply lay there, dazed, and unsure of exactly how she should react or what she should do. Her, her ninken, the entire clearing were covered in the thick, black blood of the enemy she had eviscerated, and she idly noticed she was trembling.

A glance up to where her foe was, and her medical training alone prevented the natural reflexive retching at the sight. He was back in his human form, looking gaunt and zombie-like, very obviously dead. The would that had been like somebody had taken an ice cream scoop out of his chest on the wolf, on his human body, had left nothing other than a tattered spinal column, head, and a pair of legs, in the middle of which could only be described as a pile of viscera, and Hana had to look away.

Slowly she pulled herself upright, and glanced over the two ninken that had transformed with her, noting that they had no serious injuries, and were simply just as exhausted as she was. She detected movement out of the corner of her eye, and knew instinctively and by smell that it was the third of the triplets approaching her, limping, but his eyes rejoicing in the victory of their small pack.

She smiled at him and looked him over, applying what little chakra she had left to spare into healing his wounds as best as she could until she got some time and supplies to do it properly.

That thought sobered her somewhat, and she immediately reached for her ninja tools and supply of soldier pills.

"This is gonna hurt when we're done, but this isn't finished yet. Naruto is still fighting, and we need to make sure we can help."

All three of her partners silently signaled their agreements, exhausted but emboldened by their victory. Just like Hana, they were not the sort that would let anything short of death get between them and the defense of one of their pack; and the strange blond that smelt of fox, was most definitely that.

*Long chapter in a vain effort to beg forgiveness for it taking so damn long to get done*

Goddamn, I had a lot of fun writing the second half of Hana's fight. Like, I originally hadn't planned to have him go full werewolf at all; but I just got this image in my head while I was doing some other stuff of this werewolf tearing itself out from inside somebody. The whole idea of the 'wolf within' is a pretty standard werewolf film/tale cliche, but I don't think I've ever seen a film where the transformation takes that literally, and I decided that would be really fucking cool. It's always the man literally turning into the wolf - skin stretching, growing hair and claws, face literally growing into a snout... It doesn't really fit the idea of a super strength untameably feral and vicious animal residing within your very soul. The animal ripping and tearing itself out of you from within on the other hand...

I hope I did it justice, cause in my head, it looked damn incredible! I should probably also point out at this point that the creatures bites and scratches weren't infectious or anything. He wasn't an actual werewolf, in the old school fantasy sense - he just had a freaky weird ability that could be a one off thing, could be a kekkai-genkai... Hana doesn't know, and since he's already dead and has no future role in the story besides as a memory, it doesn't matter anymore.

I had intended to get Naruto's fight all squared up before I released this chapter, but by christ have I run out of steam writing this chapter. I have 1,000 odd words written out for the second half of the fight, but y'all will have to wait for a bit. This way, I can get the fight, the preliminaries, and post-second exam shenanigans all out of the way in the next chapter, followed by the training/otherstuffshutupmylipsaresealed interlude, and the straight out into the Final Round.

Which is a scary thought to be honest, cause after that; all that's left is the Tsunade arc, and my alternative to the Sasuke arc... And then like, that's it. Finito. Complete. Story fucking finished.

Well, until part 2, anyhow...

Jutsu List

Zankūkyokuha (Extreme Decapitating Airwaves) - A massive gust of cutting wind, that is capable of leveling the surrounding area, wiping out anything in its path.

Gijū Ninpō: Shikyaku no Jutsu (Imitation Beast Ninja Art: Four Legs Technique) - This technique grants animal-like accelerated fighting instinct and reflexes to the user. By enveloping their entire body in chakra and moving on all fours, they can obtain high speed movement and reflexes like that of a wild animal. An Inuzuka Clan technique.

Jūjin Bunshin (Man Beast Clone) - A technique unique to the Inuzuka clan ninken. This technique allows the ninken to transform into a perfect physical copy of the ninken's human partner, allowing for unique combination techniques.

Gatsuuga (Passing Fang) -The user, by themselves or with their ninken partner, spin at a ferocious speed and deliver many powerful beast-like attacks when contact is made with the target.

Katon: Kakudai-en (Fire Style: Expanding Flame) - This technique produces what is initially only a small flame, easily considered negligible of irrelevant. However, the flame has a large amount of chakra packed within, and upon making contact with something, the flame expands massively and explosively fast.

Shuriken Kage Bunshin no Jutsu (Shuriken Shadow Clone Technique) - A variation of the Kage Bunshin technique. Rather than producing copies of the user, this technique produces physical copies of a thrown shuriken.

Kawarimi (Replacement Technique) -This technique allows the user to replace themselves with a nearby object, allowing for an instantaneous escape from attacks.

Doton: Shinjū Zanshu no Jutsu (Earth Style: Double Suicide Decapitation Technique) - This technique allows the user to conceal themselves underground, and attack their enemies from below, including being able to drag them down into the ground too, trapping them.

Kunai Kage Bunshin no Jutsu (Kunai Shadow Clone Technique) - A variation of the Kage Bunshin technique. Rather than producing copies of the user, this technique produces physical copies of a thrown kunai.

Futon: Goukuuhou (Wind Style: Great Air Cannon) - The users gathers his Fuuton chakra into the lungs to blow out a sphere/multiple spheres of air at his target that can blow the opponent backwards causing blunt force and cutting wounds, their seriousness depending on the amount of chakra used.

Fuuton: Daitoppa (Wind Release: Great Breakthrough) - This is a relatively simple technique that creates a sudden gust of wind, but its scale varies greatly depending on the user. If used by a superior shinobi, it has enough destructive power to knock down a large tree.

Katon: Goukakyuu no Jutsu (Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique) - A technique where chakra kneaded inside the body is converted into fire and expelled from the mouth either as a massive orb of roaring flame or as a continuous flame-thrower.

Jinjū Kongō Henge: Santōrō (Human Beast Mixture Transformation: Three-Headed Wolf) - The user combines with their ninken to form a giant, three headed wolf. This drastically increases their size, speed, and power, whilst also gaining them sharp claws and canine teeth.

Ooiga Gatenga (Tail Chasing Fang Passing Fang) - The user curls into a ball and rolls at a ferocious speed towards the enemy, as if chasing after their own tail. The ultra-violent rotation created can tear through multiple enemies, rending them apart with ease.