Team 7: A Retelling
By: Tellemicus Sundance
#16: Won by a Landslide!

Eastern Fire Country

The train carrying the bulk of the samurai army's supplies and weaponry was traveling at a somewhat slow speed, even for a freight train. This was due in large part because of the immense weight and number of freight carriages the poor steam-engine had to pull, well over three dozen carriages, all overflowing with equipment, weaponry, and several dozen men to guard it all while in transition. But it was also because of the slow pace that the train was moving at that the people aboard were given a suitably smooth ride and the locomotive operator had little trouble navigating the little-used mountainous terrain tracks.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi was seated upon a small pad in a darkened room, his katana Namikiri rested upon his crossed legs as he meditated. He was under no illusions that he was likely marching to his death, along with his army. However, Oda-sama was passionate in his obsession and Hideyoshi would be lying if he said that he hadn't gotten caught in all the hype and energy that the fledgling rebellion was creating. Hideyoshi also wished to see the samurai return to honor, beating the ninja menace back into the shadows where they belonged. All that being said, even if he had to do it all by himself, would see his and Oda-sama's dreams come to fruition.

Things had been looking up for them for quite a while. They had found and recruited a lot of peasants who were starving for an honest living or whatever personal reasons, trained them in the use of Oda-sama's various inventions, and prepared them well for the war they'd be fighting in. They had had access to regular shipments of money for the expenses of recruiting, training, and arming the large force that would be required to kill the Hi Daimyo. They had guidance from a wise, if shadowy and antisocial, master who had also been the one to grant them access to all of the aforementioned supplies in manpower, wealth, and raw materials. They were ready, their army was ready, nothing could stop the rise of the samurai!

Then that team of ninja-brats arrived and they were forced to rush their plans. Despite the serenity that Hideyoshi sought to achieve as he prepared himself for the coming battle, he couldn't help snarling to himself at the memories of that cocky blonde brat. He would freely admit that he'd underestimated the boy's strength and cunning due to his loud mouth and the circumstances of their meeting. Meeting almost anyone chained and imprisoned in the Shogun's dungeons would color anyone's opinion. But now Hideyoshi realized that that was the ninja's oldest and most reliable tactic, used in the most blatant manner he'd ever heard of: misdirection and deception to shock their enemies and lull them into assuming they had control of the situation.

'I will not be taken by surprise again,' he swore to himself for the umpteenth time since that incident.

"Captain," a voice outside his chamber called, worry obvious in his tone.

"I asked not to be disturbed," Hideyoshi answered, his voice very stern and reprimanding.

"My apologies, sir," the soldier quickly stated. "But we've got a problem! We've spotted those ninja brats again. They're following us and closing the distance fast!"

Taking Namikiri, Hideyoshi slipped it back into his sheathe as he quickly stood back up, gently shaking his limbs to loosen them up and get his armor resting more comfortably on his body. He exited his meditation room and followed the soldier, a mere grunt from the looks of him, towards the command section of the train. Entering it, his eyes immediately flew to the large screen that was presently showing the rear of the train. There, shown prominently in the middle of the television screen, was the trio of ninja-brats. The two boys were pumping at the levers of a track cart that was just barely big enough to fit them. The girl was out front and reaching forward, clearly trying to grab hold of the train.

"Where are the caboose guards?" Hideyoshi demanded, causing the four men inside to turn and snap to attention, acknowledging his rank and presence. "Why haven't they killed those brats yet?"

"They're dead, Captain," one of the men said. "The ninja were somehow able to hit them with kunai and shuriken from a distance, before they could even get a shot off."

Hideyoshi nodded, scowling. These brats were persistent, if nothing else. "Have the men in the back of the train arm up. No muskets or grenades, a stray spark could blow us all to hell. Tell them to keep the brats busy until I get back there. I'll deal with them personally. In the meantime, order the operator to double our speed however he can. Send word to our forces at the rendezvous to prepare for our 'visitors' properly."

Receiving confirms from the various men, Hideyoshi turned and left the room at a quickened pace, his hand resting upon the Namikiri with an eager yearning.

Running along the top train, the trio of fledgling ninjas raced as quickly as they could towards the forward.

"Remember, guys!" Sakura yelled, her voice partially drowned out by the strong winds of both the train's speed and the mountain ledge they were upon. "Don't try to destroy the gunpowder barrels if you can help it! The explosion would probably incinerate the train, and us! You saw what happened to Mount Akago!"

"No problem, Sakura-chan!" Naruto called back as he jumped from one freighter to the next.

Just as Sakura and Sasuke were about to join him, blades suddenly shot up through the roof. The men inside the compartment were either trying to fruitlessly impale Naruto, who had carried on running ahead, or were trying to dissuade the other two from joining him. Either way, Sasuke and Sakura glanced at one another for a moment.

"You take care of this, I'll keep an eye on Naruto." Sakura ordered Sasuke before taking a mighty leap and flying over the protruding blades. Rolling as she landed, Sakura sprung to her feet and ran after her wayward teammate. Sasuke just hopped lightly down between the two carriages, grabbing the sunroof, and swung feet-first into the compartment, knocking the door asunder and dropping several men at once.

Meanwhile, Naruto had found himself in a bit of trouble himself. Up ahead of him, a group of soldiers had climbed upon the train roofs and were taking up firing positions. Seeing this, Naruto unsealed the large tessen he was carrying with him. Opening it partially, he channeled what Fuuton chakra he could into it and swung the giant fan towards the soldiers. Yet due to his lack of experience at using such an attack, the giant wind blade that he created was horribly off target, slicing through the air over the soldiers' heads. Despite missing however, his attack still worked to his advantage by sending the men scrambling in terror for a few seconds until they realized that the attack had sailed high above them.

However, those precious few seconds they scrambled about were enough to allow Sakura to come falling out the air above them, her mass increased by thick layers of heavy ice armor. Landing in their midst with that considerably great weight caused the roof to dent and collapse around her, throwing the men's balances off. As they struggled to regain their footing, it was child's play for her to send them on one-way trips off the sides of the train.

As she sent the last soldier off the train, Naruto drew up short of her, staring past her. Cautiously turning to see what he was staring at, Sakura caught sight of a samurai dressed in his full battle armor, complete with his crested helmet. His hands were clenched in fists, crossed over his chest where he could grab and draw his katana and wakizashi with one quick motion. Jumping out of the crater she'd made, Sakura turned to face the man next to Naruto in preparation.

"So, you're the big boss we gotta fight before we can win the game?" Naruto grinned cockily as he called out to the man.

"I'm so glad you could make it, children," the samurai called out, ignoring Naruto's statement. "Now I can deal with you personally before I complete my mission."

"The Shogun is dead! This mission is pointless now!" Naruto yelled out, trying to reason with the man, which was somewhat surprising to Sakura. "You don't have to continue doing this anymore!" He added, trying to drive the point home.

"Oda Nobunaga-sama is dead?" the samurai repeated, his tone clearly conveying equal parts surprise and grief. For a moment, the samurai fell silent, even his posture seemed to deflate, giving Sakura hope that he might actually change his mind. Then he visibly collected himself as he loudly declared, "THEN, FOR MY FALLEN MASTER, I WILL SEE THIS THROUGH! TO THE BITTER END, I SHALL SEE THIS MISSION COMPLETED!"

Growling out in annoyance as well as exertion, Naruto and Sakura charged forward to meet the rushing the samurai. Naruto went high, drawing out a pair of kunai that he hurled at Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi simply batted them aside with his armored arm. Then, in one fluid move, he shifted slightly to the side, grabbing and punched powerfully into Sakura's ice-armored abdomen in the same movement. The power of the punch was so great it actually deeply cracked the ice and sent the girl flying up towards the locomotive engine, nearly sending her completely off the train.

Drawing another kunai, Naruto let out a loud yell as he descended for the samurai. Hideyoshi smoothly spun around, drawing his wakizashi and slashing up at Naruto in the same motion. Even though the blonde managed to shift his kunai just enough to deflect the blade and protect himself, the small sword still managed to gouge a deep slash into the metal, nearly cutting it in two. In the split second it took Naruto to gawk in disbelief at his damaged kunai, Hideyoshi continued his spinning motion and lashed out with a kick that knocked Naruto bouncing back the way he'd come and in the opposite direction of his teammate, effectively separating them. Even with his legendary resiliency, Naruto's breath had been completely knocked out of him and his chest throbbed in agony. He was scarcely able to hoist himself up onto his elbows to look back at the samurai with a newfound respect for his strength and power.

'I must've simply taken him by complete surprise back in the citadel,' Naruto realized, trying to rationalize the weak guard captain from before with the powerhouse that now dominated the fight between them. 'This guy is easily Jounin-level in skill and strength!' Even in his own mind, he acknowledged that that was a slight exaggeration…he hoped.

"Arrogant little ninja," Hideyoshi spat in disgust as he walked menacingly up to the downed blonde. "You think that the only ones who can become strong are ninja? That without the secrets of your precious ninjutsu, a samurai could never fight on par with even a lowly genin?" Reaching Naruto, he raised his wakizashi up to make a killing stab into the boy.

"Naruto!" Sakura yelled as she rushed forward in her spiky and bladed Attack armor.

Her ice-swords were already formed upon her arms as she lunged for the samurai's back. As Hideyoshi turned to face her, she lunged at him, swinging and stabbing her ice-swords with all the power and speed she could muster. Hideyoshi sidestepped and deflected the ice with almost careless ease before spinning around and lashing out with another powerful kick, hitting Sakura in her jaw with such force that she was lifted off the ground and sent into a spinning tumble as she collapsed.

Bending over the downed girl as she tried to push herself up, he growled out, "Your master did not teach you well!"

"Leave—her—alone!" Naruto gasped out angrily, his adrenaline helping him push his pain to the back of his mind. He climbed to his feet and leapt at Hideyoshi, his Kazeken winds springing to life around his hand. Hideyoshi turned to face the boy, sidestepping his attack while punching the boy in the face. The punch not only sent him tumbling through the air, it disrupted his concentration in the Kazeken which vanished into a gust of wind. As the boy was still midair and spinning, Hideyoshi kicked him in his unprotected back and knocked him flying back the direction he'd come, disappearing between the gap between the train carriages.

As Hideyoshi made to walk over and finish the boy off, Sakura reached and grabbed ahold of his leg, trying to keep him from leaving and attacking her downed teammate again. Hideyoshi wasted no time in spinning around and pummeling her face with strong punches. After the third, she lost her grip and collapsed to the roof below her. Not wanting to let her grab him again, Hideyoshi stepped to her side and stomped down onto her unprotected back with all his strength. Her ice armor chipped and cracked as the air was driven from her lungs.

It took all her concentration to keep her focus on maintaining the armor, thus somewhat protecting her vulnerable body and life from the repeated savage stomps Hideyoshi began delivering to her without remorse. Seeing that the girl was putting up a better fight than anticipated, Hideyoshi stepped to the side as he drew out his Namikiri katana. Raising it above his head, he slashed it down with all his strength, aiming for the noticeably thinner layer of ice around the girl's neck.

But, just as the katana was nearing its target, a pair of blades suddenly slid under it, intercepting and even managing to halt the lethal strike, a loud yell of exertion screaming out from next to him. Hideyoshi had only a split second to turn and face his new opponent, recognizing him as the third of the little genin team, before the dark-haired boy kicked him in the torso with a surprisingly strong and fast kick. The blow actually knocked him sliding several meters away from the girl. Rather than bend down and tend to the girl, the boy slid smoothly into a protective crouch in front of her, holding his two stolen katana in the common high and low guards.

"So glad you could join us, little ninja," Hideyoshi growled menacingly, sheathing his wakizashi and taking the Namikiri into a two-handed grip. "Now, you'll all die together."

"We'll see about that," Sasuke growled back, his Sharingan blazing in repressed rage.

In a burst of speed, Sasuke attacked Hideyoshi, slashing with both his katana in a blur of motion. With the power of his Sharingan, he could see the various openings in Hideyoshi's stances and movements and aimed for every single one. But the samurai was several times faster and more experienced than he'd initially predicted, able to shift and counter Sasuke's strikes with a speed that, while considerable, was also enhanced by decades' more experience than the young Uchiha had.

Sasuke was so focused on his attack that he failed to notice the dangerously deep chips and gouges that his katana were acquiring the longer the swordfight lasted. But Hideyoshi did notice and he grinned behind his facemask, knowing the boy had fallen into the most basic of traps that the young always fell into. He just bided his time, letting the boy press his attack, while further deepening the damage done to the inferior weapons he was wielding. When the boy made an especially aggressive stab with both swords, Hideyoshi sidestepped and brought the Namikiri down in a powerful chop, cleaving the two katana cleanly into halves.

Unlike what happened with his blonde teammate, the dark-haired boy didn't freeze up when this happened, as Hideyoshi expected him to. Instead, the boy dropped the useless katana hilts and lunged forward with his raised hands, catching Hideyoshi's wrists as the man attempted another quick chop at the boy. The boy was obviously using his chakra to enhance his body's strength, but Hideyoshi brought his full strength to bear, quickly forcing the boy to his knees.

A sudden increase in wind strength from the side drew Hideyoshi's attention. Looking over, he spotted the blonde kid charging forward with a maelstrom of winds circling around his cocked fist. Twisting his body, Hideyoshi kicked the dark-haired boy in his side and sent him flying towards his blonde teammate, forcing the blonde to cut power from his ninjutsu to catch his friend. He was able to catch his friend but was nearly sent flying himself, and probably would've had the pink-haired girl not been there to brace and reinforce his faltering stance.

"Is it just me or are we getting our butts kicked?" Naruto asked once he'd managed to get his feet back under himself.

"It's just you!" Sasuke and Sakura snapped simultaneously as they stepped up next to the blonde, glaring angrily over at the samurai.

"It's like fighting against Kakashi again back on Day 1," Sakura muttered, more to herself than the boys as she gingerly held her throbbing and painful chest, her ribs and back hurt something fierce.

"That's it!" Sasuke gasped, his eyes widening in realization. "We've let him dictate the rules of the fight. Letting him fight where he's most comfortable!"

"Time to change the rules!" Sakura said, instantly catching onto Sasuke's train of thought, Naruto only a few moments behind them.

Bringing their hands up, each of the genin started forming their own individual sets of handseals. Sasuke's seals were those he'd committed to memory shortly after he gained the Sharingan and practiced constantly in secret for years. Sakura carefully went through one seal after another of a ninjutsu of her own creation. This would be that jutsu's second use in a 'live-fire' exercise. Naruto, always the reckless one, shot through a series of handseals for a ninjutsu he'd only briefly reviewed back in Konoha and hadn't yet had the chance to practice, though the theory behind it was simple enough for even him to understand. All three reached the end of the seal sequence together and inhaled deeply as the molded chakra in their bodies took form.

"Hyouton: Aori!" A blast of wind, razor-sharp snowflakes, and small chunks of diamond-hard ice flew from Sakura.

"Raiton: Rakurai!" A bolt of lightning emerged from Sasuke, large, bright, and deadly.

"Fuuton: Daitoppa!" A blast of high-powered wind shot from Naruto.

As the two elemental powers on either side of him erupted forth, Naruto's directed blast of wind drew in the two attacks unintentionally. The lightning arced through the core of the cycling mass, sparking off the ice and snow, increasing their already deadly killing power. Sakura's Aori formed the mantle of the deadly new ninjutsu, an opaque gray-white-blue twisting mass that promised to freeze and shred anything that got caught in its path. Naruto's winds merely formed the shell of the attack, giving them rotation and direction.

Hideyoshi just watched as the approaching attack neared him at admittedly considerable speeds. Had the genin launched this attack on stationary ground, it probably could've been even faster. But as it was, Hideyoshi just adjusted the grip on the Namikiri, raising it above his head, and waited. Just when the ninjutsu was within striking distance, the Namikiri suddenly gained a blue glow as the samurai gave a powerful chop. Impossibly, the katana was able to slice the maelstrom clean down the center, sending it shooting off in halves as it raced past the samurai, leaving the man utterly unharmed. The three genin could only gawk in disbelief as they watched this happen.

Standing back up and holding the Namikiri proudly before him, in a surprisingly gentle tone of voice, Hideyoshi said, "There is a reason this blade is named the 'Namikiri', children."

After only another moment of staring, Sasuke let out a slight snort as he stared at the katana before him. "Namikiri, eh? …I want that sword."

That was when something ahead of them on the mountain cliff overlooking the train tracks caught the genins' attentions. It was thanks to his Sharingan, allowing him to see not only considerably greater distances but chakra silhouettes that were somewhat hidden atop various rocks and boulders, that Sasuke quickly realized just what they were seeing. There was a group of at least five ninja, high Chuunin levels if anything, that stood up as the front of the train reached them, flashing through a familiar sequence of handseals.

"Oh no," Sasuke moaned in resignation and annoyance, staring at the large fireballs that had been launched. Hideyoshi had only a moment's warning, the sudden shifting of his shadow across the roof of the train carriage they stood upon from the light caused by the fireballs, to realize that something amiss. Not that that split second realization was enough to help.

Each fireball slammed into a separate train carriage as the locomotive passed by. However, it was the fourth fireball that caused everything to go downhill…literally. The fireball had blown through the carriage roof and caught the massive stores of gunpowder crates on fire, causing a massive and almost deafening explosion of fire. The sheer shockwave of the explosion alone was enough to blow the train into halves and send the carriages on either side reeling up into the air. Momentum continued carrying the rear carriages forward which, combined the airborne ones, caused the entire chain to crumple in on top of itself, derailing many of them in the process.

Hideyoshi had managed to crouch down on the roof, jabbing his katana through it as an anchor for himself while the shockwave raced over and through him. Though the genin managed to glue themselves to the roof with their chakra to avoid getting blown off by the blast itself, they were forced to abandon this tactic as the train started folding in on itself. As one particular carriage somehow got wrenched apart from the others, it got knocked upwards and started rolling across the tops of the others ahead of it.

The genin barely managed to see it coming in time to react. Naruto leapt for safety to another carriage, almost missing it had he not yanked out a pair of kunai and jabbed them through to siding, slamming him bodily against the carriage as the one above nearly crushed him. Sasuke made a titanic leap upwards, hoping to bypass the careening carriage entirely, but he overestimated his leg strength. This resulted in him getting clipped by the carriage and sent flying off to the side where he crashed into several small trees before falling heavily onto his chest on the ground, driving the air from his lungs forcefully. Sakura leapt to the opposite side of Naruto, sliding to a halt atop the roof of another carriage and watching as the careening one passed by her harmlessly.

Hideyoshi merely stood up from his crouched position, hefting the Namikiri over his head as the blade acquired an even brighter blue glow. Then, just like with the genins' combined jutsu, he slashed down his blade and sliced the entire carriage into halves, which tumbled past him just as harmlessly as Sakura. As she was staring at Hideyoshi with a slightly wide-eyed gawk of disbelief, Sakura caught sight of the samurai's sudden heavy breathing and a visible sheen of sweat appearing upon his brow. 'I see,' she realized. 'The Namikiri may be able to slice through almost anything, but it derives its power from the wielder. Must be some type of special chakra-molding to be able to do that and must be fairly labor-intensive…or he doesn't have very high reserves of chakra available to use.'

That was when Sakura became aware of the carriages beneath her feet and around her were still moving, shaking, starting to angle off to the side. Looking about, she realized what was happening. The explosion and the train's decimation had happened upon a turn around the mountain's side next to a steep decline that eventually leveled off into a valley far below. The explosion had not only destroyed the train, but had caused the tracks under and near it to get blown apart and start sliding downhill. And given the way that the many different carriages were piled up against and onto one another, they were too were starting to slide down the mountain.

Even as she came to this realization, the carriage under her feet suddenly shot upwards sharply as the leading half of it slid over the edge and started sliding. Despite sticking herself to the carriage's roof with her chakra, Sakura had to frantically throw her arms about in an effort to maintain her balance. "Oh no!" she yelled out, drawing out her cry as she fought to stabilize herself.

"Sasuke!" Naruto called from where he too was clinging to his own carriage, staring down at where the Uchiha was pushing himself back to his feet, fighting for his breath. Unnoticed by the Uchiha, he was right in the way of Naruto's own carriage. "Move! MOVE!"

Looking back, Sasuke had just enough time to see, comprehend, and react to the danger he was in and roll desperately to side, narrowly missing getting his legs crushed. Pushing himself fully onto his feet and turning to face where he teammates were heading, Sasuke watched for a second, spotting both Naruto and Sakura fighting for their balance…and Hideyoshi leaping from one carriage to another heading towards the two with his katana still drawn. Without another thought, he forcefully suppressed his own pain and rushed forward, leaping up and catching hold of the closest carriage to him.

Jumping from his own carriage, Naruto landed unsteadily next to Sakura, who had to grab him to help keep him from falling off. Just as he finally found his balance, he saw Hideyoshi behind the girl pointing a flintlock pistol at the girl's back. Lunging forward, he bodily knocked Sakura onto her back, ducking down with her as a loud bang sounded behind them and the faint whisking sound of the ball passed over their heads. Quickly rolling off the girl, Naruto glared at the persistent menace as he reached into his weapons' pouch and threw a pair of shuriken at the man.

"This guy is really starting to get on my nerves!" Naruto yelled over the din.

"Where's Sasuke?!" Sakura yelled back, looking around for the Uchiha but not seeing him.

A sudden white and blue form materializing next to the samurai caught their attentions. The Uchiha landed a strong punch to Hideyoshi's side, knocking him off balance and causing him to drop the pistol he'd been reloading at record-breaking speeds. As the samurai recoiled, the Uchiha managed to snag the sheathed katana and yanked it off the man's belt. Just as Hideyoshi was regaining his balance and moving to counterattack and reclaim his sword, the Uchiha bounced away and looked for the relative safety of a nearby carriage that was tipping and swaying quite alarmingly.

"There he is," Naruto deadpanned. Before he could make any further comments, he saw that Hideyoshi had pulled out a second pistol and was aiming it towards Sasuke. "You go get Sasuke, I'll take care of that guy!"

"Allow me to be the badass for once!" Sakura snapped. Not waiting for the surprised boy to comment, the girl recklessly jumped off their shared carriage and landed upon the ground just ahead of the samurai, sliding and almost losing her footing. Glaring up at the carriage that was rapidly approaching her, Sakura brought her hands together to form another sequence of seals she'd created. "I've been wanting to try this!"

Finishing the sequence, she cocked her right hand back as a maelstrom of wind, snow, and ice rapidly formed around her clenched fist. Just as the train carriage was about to run into and over her, Sakura's arm flashed out and she punched the thing with all her budding might. In an explosion reminiscent of Naruto's Kazeken, the snowy air surrounding her fist blasted the carriage end over end, knocking it spinning as it was lifted completely off the ground and tumbled haphazardly to the side. Sakura couldn't help but gawk in childish pride and amazement at her accomplishment. Needless to say, Hideyoshi was sent flying and disappeared amidst the bodies of rolling, tumbling, and thundering train carriages as they continued falling down the side of the mountain.

Racing down the mountain alongside the carriages, Sakura grabbed ahold of one and pulled herself up atop it again. As she did, she was joined by Naruto and Sasuke, both of which were glued to the roof and trying to maintain their balances. In a small part of her mind, Sakura noted that the two looked remarkably like they were riding surfboards on the beach. That was when an ominous rumbling sound reached their ears and they looked back towards where the sound was coming from. What they saw was a billowing cloud of rock, dirt, and dust racing towards them high speed.

"Guys, is that—?" Sakura yelled.

"An avalanche!" Sasuke answered.

"If that wasn't bad enough, look!" Naruto yelled, pointing back ahead of them. What they saw ahead them was a lush green forested valley, a lake in the center, and sheer cliff that was they were racing towards without no chance of escape.

"Anybody got any bright ideas?!" Sakura yelled, hoping against hope that one of her incredibly resourceful and brilliant friends and teammates might be able to pull out a win and get them to safety before they went over the edge and fell to their deaths, getting buried under untold amounts of rubble as added insurance.

"I do!" Naruto answered, an oddly serious look on his face as he turned to face Sakura pointedly. "But you're not going to like it, Sakura-chan! So, I'm just gonna say sorry right here and now, in advance!"

"What is it?!" Sakura asked, suddenly even more fearful. She was forced to split her attention between looking at Naruto and at the rapidly approaching cliff, they were only a few seconds away from falling over it.

Rather than answer verbally, Naruto created a clone while he rushed forward and grabbed Sakura around her waist, picking her up and throwing her bodily over his shoulder. As she was turning to yell back into his ear, Sakura caught a glimpse of the other Naruto doing the same with Sasuke before suddenly leaping high up into the air, winds springing to life around the clone's feet. Sakura had only enough time to yell out in frenzied panic before she and Naruto followed, rocketing up into the sky by Naruto's Kazeken. She screamed out in absolute, mind-freezing, terror-stricken panic as she watched the dear earth vanish far below her while the various train carriages reached the cliff and tumbled over it, soon to be buried by tons of rubble.

Naruto had no idea how high up they were and he really didn't care either. He was far too busy trying to hold the panicking Sakura he was carrying still and not lose his grip on her. At the same time, he was aiming for the large lake at the center of the valley since it'd offer the moderately softer landing than the trees would've. Keeping the Fuuton chakra constantly flowing out of the soles of his feet, Naruto angled them towards the lake, watching with growing satisfaction as they neared the water. 'I was right!' he mentally cheered to himself. 'I can fly with my Fuuton! And this is how!'

His celebration was cut short as the two of them came to a skipping crash into the lake's surface, closer to the shore than he was admittedly comfortable with. The crash they had caused a large fan of splashing water to spray out ahead of and around them, reaching the shore and drenching a few people there that he didn't notice beforehand. Pulling himself out of the water and quickly making his way ashore, Naruto turned around as he heard another splash and saw Sasuke and his clone disappear under the surface as well. Good, he managed to make it too.

"Naruto!" Sakura screamed once she'd resurfaced, rage and fright battling for dominance in her expression and voice. "WHAT'VE I TOLD YOU ABOUT TAKING ME F-F-F-FLYING!"

"Will you relax?" Naruto asked, holding up his hands in surrender. "I apologized already, remember?"

"That's not the point!" Sakura yelled rushing forward and grabbing ahold his vest in a tight hold. "I TOLD YOU IF YOU DID THAT AGAIN—!"

"Calm down, Sakura-chan!" Naruto yelled back at her, yanking her hand off him.

"CALM!?" she shrieked back. "HOW I CAN BE CALM AFTER THAT?!"

Acting on an instinct he didn't know he had, Naruto's hand lashed out and he slapped her cheek with all the strength he could muster. Only a split second after he did that did he realize just what he had done and he started to panic. But as he was straightening himself back up again, Sakura turned back to face him with a remarkably much calmer expression on her face.

"Thanks, I needed that!" she said, though it was clear that she was still not quite recovered. A faint smile crossing his face, Naruto's other hand suddenly flew up and he slapped her other cheek. "I needed that too!" Drawing back his hand, he punched her in the face. This time when she faced him, there was not a hint of panic or terror in her eyes, only growing anger. This was made even more obvious when she growled out in a bestial tone, "You're pushing your luck, Naruto!"

"Now that you two are friends again," Sasuke said as he stepped forward, having watched the whole spectacle without comment. "Let's go see what we can learn about those ninja who ambushed the train."

As if suddenly remembering everything that just happened, Naruto let out a loud cheer as he jumped up in the air with his arms thrust high in victory. "Check it out, guys! We totally won by a landslide!" he cheered exuberantly as he began laughing hysterically.

Smirking despite himself, Sasuke nodded in agreement. "What do you expect from Team 7 of Konohagakure?"

"Juggernauts on the battlefield," Sakura agreed, smiling widely now that her panic attack had fully passed. "Completely unstoppable!"

As the three were high-fiving in victory, a sudden bright flash off to the side had all of them freeze up. For several long moments of silence, it almost seemed like the loud, boisterous trio had been switched out for statues. At least until Naruto whispered out in a voice that was heard by not only his teammates but by those who had also been watching the entire scene. "Guys, what was that?"

"A camera flash," Sakura whispered back, unwilling to move from her position as growing horror and embarrassment began to rise up in her. "Who's there, Sasuke?"

"It looks like we've crashed a movie-set of some sort," he answered back lowly, staring past his teammates at the large group of people he hadn't noticed earlier due to Naruto and Sakura. To his immense embarrassment, he could see that no less than ten different cameras were pointed towards them and all of the actors (some apparently drenched from the splashes they'd made as they landed) and personnel were staring at them with wide eyes and rather slack jaws.

"Great, just great," Sakura hissed. This was even worse than she'd feared!

"I say we ditch them on three," Naruto suggested, glancing meaningfully between them, both of them catching onto what he was hinting at.

"Good idea," Sasuke agreed. "Okay—"

"THREE!" All three yelled together as they vanished in a cloud of smoke, leaving no trace of their presences once it dissipated.

"And cut!" the director yelled, waving a little flag to accent the command. The eccentric man had had his cameramen filming the entire avalanche scene and just the thought of how he could incorporate it or elements of it in his newest movie, it just sent excited shivers down his spine!

Turning back to his crew and the actors, he loudly declared, "THAT is how a victory scene plays out! What drama! What suspense! What a scene! That's it! That's going into the movie!" Before any of his actors or advisors could protest, he stood abruptly out of his seat as he barked out. "Cut! Print! Check the gate! We're moving along!"

(Author's Note) Sorry about the LONG wait. I have no excuse beyond simply saying that my attention was swept away on different projects. I hope this chapter at least was somewhat enjoyable to read. I wonder how many people will be able to see the 5 different references I made in this chapter (admittedly 3 are from the same movie).

Please remember to review!

Namikiri - Cutting Wave

Team 7 Databook

Tsumetai Raiu/Freezing Thunderstorm—Sasuke, Sakura, and Naruto combine their Fuuton: Daitoppa, Hyouton: Aori, and Raiton: Rakurai to create a single blast of freezing and electrified air meant to incapacitate or kill their opponents. B-Class Ninjutsu (Team 7)

Hyouton: Soufun/Ice Style: Frosty Air—Sakura covers her fists and or legs with high-speed winds, razor-sharp snowflakes, and ice-chips. The jutsu blasts anything in its path away on impact while also slashing them apart with the snowflakes. Based off of Naruto's Kazeken. C-Class Nintaijutsu. (Haruno Sakura)

Raiton: Rakurai/Lightning Style: Lightning Bolt—A blast of highly-concentrated and high-speed lightning chakra that has very high killing potential, limited only by the amount of the user's chakra. In many ways, it is the Raiton version of the Katon: Goukakyuu. B-Class Ninjutsu. (Sasuke)

Fuuton: Daitoppa/Wind Style: Great Breakthrough—A gust of high-powered and concentrated Fuuton chakra that, depending on the user's power and skill, has the potential of blowing over even fully grown trees in a single blast. C-Class Ninjutsu (Uzumaki Naruto)