I don't own Naruto or anything else from any anime/manga, movie, show, book, or game.

"Talking"

"Thinking"

"Bijju/summon"

Hello again! Here is the next chapter for all of you. I know it's been a while since the last one but as I have said before I can't promise quick updates as my job and personal life don't leave me with much free time. All I can promise is that I will have them out as soon as I can.

Another thing I would like to mention since it's been asked a few times is, that "YES" I do know what Naruto's and Hinata's birthdays are in the original story. I changed them to fit my story better. And the reason I changed Haku to a girl is mainly because I like it when the character is portrayed that way in fanfics and because I wanted to keep the two-bit one-girl ratio of the other teams.

And once again, this will NOT be a harem fic. Frankly I have enough trouble writing romance for just Naruto and Hinata. More girls would be way too hard for me. Anyway, please enjoy the chapter and as always let me know what all of you think. Flames will be ignored as always.

XxX

Chapter 16

Hokage Tower

Naruto and his team stood in front of the Hokage ready to hear what their next mission would be. Naruto wanted it to be a mission in which he could show the strength and skill his team had worked so hard to gain.

The Hokage was reading through some mission scrolls. By the look he had when he finished the last scroll, he had found the one for them. The Hokage smiled at Naruto,

"I believe I have a mission acceptable to both the client and your team. It's a C-rank escort mission to the Land of Rivers."

"What are the mission details?" asked Naruto.

"A merchant is paying us to provide protection for his caravan while it travels from the Leaf Village to its home town, a village near the border between Fire country and the Land of Rivers."

Naruto nodded in understanding. "What's the mission duration and should we expect any complications?"

"It should take a week to travel to your destination, and no more than two days to return to the village once your mission is complete. You can expect heavy bandit activity near the border and once you enter River Country. You should also be aware that the Rain Village's border is near the area so you would do well to keep your guard up for possible ninja attack. It is unlikely that Hanzo would want to start any conflict with our village but be ready for anything."

"Yes, Lord Hokage," said Naruto.

"Very well, you have two hours to get ready for your mission. You will meet the client at the western gate."

"Yes, sir." Naruto and his team left to ready themselves for this mission.

XxX

One hour later Naruto was with Hinata at the Hyuuga compound. He told her of the mission and when she could expect him to return.

"Please be careful Naruto-kun."

"Don't worry Hime, it's just an escort mission. I'll be back before you know it."

Hinata didn't say it, but she had a bad feeling about Naruto's mission. She would have to trust Naruto would come back safely. Hinata knew his team was very skilled; so a typical escort mission would be no problem for them. But she couldn't help feeling that this wasn't going to be a typical escort mission.

After saying goodbye to Hinata, Naruto met his team at the western gate. After meeting their client, they left the village and headed for the border of River Country.

XxX

At an unknown location…

Two individuals meet in secret.

"So it's true then? The team from Whirlpool was sent on a C-rank mission yesterday?" asked the first individual.

"Yes, my sources have confirmed it," answered the second.

"No doubt the Hokage is playing favorites with them. We will use this to our advantage and rid ourselves of a problem. After all, there is no telling what could happen out on a mission."

"I have taken the liberty of making arrangements for their team to meet with… some unexpected complications on this mission."

The first individual smirked at that. "Excellent! And you made sure that things can't be traced back to us?"

"Yes," answered the second. "I spent a small fortune to make sure that the job will get done, and be kept confidential."

"Then we must make preparations for when the news is made public. We must be ready to take advantage of our enemies' weakness with the death of the Namikaze heir. I will take care of everything; be ready when I give the word."

"I will be. And will contact you as soon as the deed is done," said the second individual while the first nodded. They both left, certain that the Whirlpool team would not be coming back from their mission.

XxX

Four days after leaving the Leaf village Naruto and his team found themselves at the border of The Land of Rivers. While the traveling in Fire Country was uneventful they knew it was unlikely to remain so after they crossed the border.

The team had been traveling for only a few short hours in River Country when Haku returned from her scouting mission. The rest of the team met with her to hear what she found.

"Did you see anything unusual on the road ahead Haku-chan?" asked Naruto.

"Yes I did Naruto-sama. Approximately five miles away there are a large number of bandits hiding near the main road. They're likely waiting to ambush their next target."

"Which will likely be us," said Naruto.

"How many bandits are there?" asked Shigure.

"I counted 27 bandits. After watching them for some time I don't believe them to be a high threat as far as skill. We only have to worry about their numbers."

"What do you think is the best way to deal with them Naruto?" asked Shigure.

Naruto knew she was testing him, testing his ability to strategize and lead his team. "We have several options. First we can look for an alternate route to avoid the bandits altogether. While preferable, this choice will cost us time and could lead to other unexpected complications. Second we can continue to lead the caravan and defend it. This would put our clients and his property in danger but with our combined strength we can subdue the bandits."

"Is that what you recommend we do?" asked Shigure.

Naruto shook his head. "What I recommend is that we split our team, someone staying here to guard the caravan and others ambushing the bandits at their camp. With the element of surprise we should be able to remove the threat to our client without placing him in danger."

"That would increase the level of danger for our team though" stated Shigure.

"We are ready for this, our client is not," answered Naruto.

Shigure nodded. "Very well, do you wish to remain with the client or handle the bandits?"

Again, she was testing him. Asking if he would choose what was easy and safe or choose the difficult and dangerous way. "I will take Haku and Kimimaro with me and take out the bandits while you keep guard over our client."

Shigure nodded. "If you're not back in an hour I will come for you."

Naruto nodded in acceptance, and immediately left with his team. The clock was ticking.

XxX

Naruto and his team wasted little time in silently reaching the bandit camp. The plan was simple, hit the bandits fast and hit them hard; take as many of them out as quickly as possible before they could counter-attack.

The plan worked marvelously. The team spread out and using special communication seals and signal from Naruto once they were in place; all three of them rained down shuriken, kunai and senbon down on the unsuspecting bandits. In less than one minute most of the bandits were dead or dying from team Whirlpool's initial attack, leaving only 10 survivors.

The survivors rallied together in a defensive formation, blocking the incoming projectiles with skilled teamwork, making it hard for the team to get hits on them. Naruto knew the element of surprise was gone and now they were going to have to finish the job the hard way.

"Kimimaro, I need you to scatter them. We'll pick them off one by one."

"Yes Naruto-Sama." Without hesitation Kimimaro jumped down from the tree he was in and rushed the group of bandits, a bone-blade emerging from each of his palms. The bandits were shocked by the speed and power Kimimaro displayed. He cut down two bandits before the others were able to react to his assault. Using his unique bloodline abilities Kimimaro was able to defend himself from their attacks and kill three more using his Digital Shrapnel Jutsu. After watching half of their numbers cut down by a child the rest of the bandits did what Naruto knew they would… they fled.

Haku and Naruto were able to easily pick them off with kunai and senbon as they tried to run away. Once the last of the bandits was killed Naruto and Haku landed next to Kimimaro.

"Great job you two. I know none of us likes to needlessly take lives but this was necessary. We couldn't let them continue to hurt people for their greed," said Naruto. Haku and Kimimaro nodded. "Ok, let's get back to Shigure-sensei." Naruto's team was about to jump onto the tree when suddenly…

"Senbon Shower". Naruto's team jumped back as hundreds of senbon rained from the sky. Once the shower stopped the team warily watched as three ninja with umbrellas landed in front of them. They were wearing headbands that identified them as ninjas belonging to the Village Hidden in the Rain. The leader, a man with green hair and a striped purple outfit, was smirking at the Whirlpool ninja.

Naruto's team was immediately on guard. Haku and Kimimaro took flanking positions at either side of Naruto. Naruto placed a hand on the hilt of his sword before speaking. "Who are you and why are you attacking us?"

"My name is Aoi Rokusho, Jonin of the Hidden Rain Village. And to put it simply for you to understand, someone wants you dead real bad. My team will make a fortune once we kill you."

"You can try, but I assure you it won't be easy." Naruto drew his sword while Haku brandished many senbon and Kimimaro grew a bone-blade from each palm. Naruto's team was ready for a fight; the Rain ninja didn't look worried at all.

"Fool, you don't know how out of your league you are. I'm a Jonin! And by partners are both seasoned Chuunin. What chance do you think three Genin have against us?"

"Rank means nothing," Naruto said.

"I'll take the leader; you two handle the other two. Remember your training, we're fighting for our lives. Don't hesitate to put them down."

"Yes Naruto-Sama!" answered both Haku and Kimimaro.

Aoi just laughed. He ordered his partners to deal with the "spares" while he finished their target. "That's a nice looking sword kid. I have a nice sword too."

Naruto saw Aoi pull a small sword that made his eyes widen in surprise. Aio smirked thinking Naruto's shock was fear.

"I see you recognize my legendary sword." Aoi then activated said sword and the sound of electricity crackled loudly. "This is the famous Raijin, the sword that once belonged to the Second Hokage!"

"Are you going to attack me? Or are you planning to talk me to death?" asked Naruto in a bored tone. And while he appeared to be unworried on the outside, his mind was running through many scenarios of what he could do to assure his team's safety.

Aoi growled at the punk's attitude and launched himself at Nauto… the battle was on!

Xxx

With Haku…

Haku was surprised at how slow her opponent seemed to be. He was trying to get her with senbon that came out of his umbrella. Haku was way too fast for his attacks to land. Haku used her superior speed to get in close and land several well placed kicks and punches that quickly had her opponent on the defensive. When it was clear that Haku was the superior Taijutsu user her opponent switched to Ninjutsu.

"Water style: Water Bullet".

Haku used her agility and flexibility to easily avoid the attacks. Then Haku turned the water her opponent had summoned, against him.

"Water Style: Water Clone Jutsu".

Her opponent was suddenly surrounded by three clones that wasted no time in attacking him simultaneously. Even though the clones had only a fraction of the user's strength, the rain ninja had a difficult time defending against three opponents. When he finally was able to cut them down, the Rain Ninja was panting heavily and was covered in cuts and burses. He was looking around wildly for Haku. It was then that he felt the unnatural coldness in the air. Out of nowhere mirrors of ice materialized all around him, creating a dome that left him in the middle. The Rain ninja saw the reflection of opponent in all the mirrors.

"Forgive me, but I have no time to waste. Naruto-Sama may have need of me, so I will have to finish this quickly."

The Rain ninja saw the reflections draw handfuls of senbon. He only had time to widen his eyes before Haku launched a storm of senbon that the Rain ninja had no hope of evading. When Haku canceled her jutsu, her opponent was on the floor, his body so impaled by senbon he resembled a porcupine.

With her battle over, Haku headed to meet with her teammates.

XxX

With Kimimaro…

Kimimaro's opponent was desperately trying to keep the Bone-sword-kid at a distance since he was a long range specialist. Kimimaro's Bloodline Limit allowed him to easily defend himself from the Rain ninja's attacks. The Rain ninja had tried to defeat Kimimaro with projectiles, when those proved useless, he tried long-range Ninjutsu but that was ineffective as well. All that his jutsu managed to do was keep Kimimaro far enough away to keep him from attacking with his blades.

Kimimaro decided to attack him from a distance. Kimimaro withdrew the blades from his palms and pointed his fingers at the Rain ninja.

"Digital Shrapnel Jutsu."

The Rain ninja knew what was coming having seen the jutsu earlier but was unable to dodge the attack fully. Two of the bone projectiles landed, one on his left shoulder and one on his right leg. That was what got him in trouble.

Seeing his opponent unable to fully dodge his attack, Kimimaro continued to send wave after wave of projectiles until his opponent was down and completely motionless. Unlike Haku and sometimes Naruto, Kimimaro rarely hesitated to use deadly force. Though in his defense, when you were sparring with people as powerful as the teachers his team had in Whirlpool, you have to go at them with everything you got.

Haku landed near Kimimaro. "Let's go Kimimaro-kun. We must go and help Naruto-sama." Kimimaro nodded and both leaped away to go and find Naruto.

XxX

With Naruto…

After only a short while Naruto was able to get a good reading on his opponent. The first and most obvious thing Naruto noticed was that Aio was no swordsman. Aio did little more than hack and slash at Naruto, relying on the power of his sword to compensate for his lack of skill. Naruto could see how this strategy might work on someone else. The Raijin would normally be able to cut through anything while sending massive electrical shocks at the same time. That is what would give Aio an advantage against most opponents.

Unfortunately for Aio, Naruto was an Uzumaki. He had been trained in the most deadly Kenjutsu style of all and knew exactly how to defend himself against these pitiful attacks. Naruto also wielded one of the legendary elemental swords, the Arashi negated the Raijin's ability to shock its opponent and was strong enough to resist the cutting power of its lightning.

Aio for his part, was growing angrier by the minute. He was going at the blonde punk with everything he had and it wasn't working. The kid was actually BLOCKING the Raijin with his sword! That was something that had NERVER happened. Aio usually was able to use the Raijin to overwhelm his opponents. This brat kept blocking and evading his attacks, and Aio was getting tired of being made a fool by a GENNIN!

"HOW! How are you blocking the Raijin's power! There is no way that your that sword can be a match for its power. So how are you doing it!?" Aio screamed at Naruto as he continued to swing wildly at him with the Raijin.

"Well, the answer is actually a simple one," Naruto said as he continued to block and evade. "There are several legendary elemental swords known to exist. The Raijin of lightning which you stole from the Senju. The Ryujin of water, said to have been lost at sea in a battle between the Mist and Cloud village long ago. The Enraiha of fire wielded by the famous Kannagi Clan of Lightning Country. The Ruaumoko of earth, held by the Beifong Clan of Earth Country. The Kazejin of wind that was said to be have been owned by the son of the First Kazekage. And then we have my sword…" Naruto and Aoi stopped fighting, Naruto held his sword with one hand in front of him. Letting Aio get a good look at the sword he was wielding.

"The Arashi of storms, once owned by the founder of the Uzumaki Clan. Now wielded by me. I am Naruto Uzumaki, heir of the Land of Whirlpools!" Naruto then took his guard and Aio prepared to continue their fight.

"It doesn't matter! All that means is I'll have TWO legendary swords once I kill you!" Aoi then charged at Naruto again, but unlike last time when his sword stroke came down Naruto didn't block or evade… he simply disappeared in a blur. "What? Where did-"

"Right here!" Aio heard a voice from above and looked up.

"Hiten Mitsurugi Style:Ryusuisen!"

Aio could only watch as Naruto, who had apparently performed a powerful jump, used the momentum of his fall to strengthen the speed and power of his two-handed strike.

In a flash it was over. Naruto was next to Aio flicking his sword to remove the blood as Aio's head was heard landing on the floor with a soft 'thud', his body following to the ground shortly afterward.

Haku and Kimimaro arrived as Naruto was sealing the Raijin into a storage scroll.

"Naruto-sama are you ok?" asked Haku worriedly.

"I'm fine. I'm not sure how this guy made Jonin but he was surprisingly weak. He had no training in Kenjutsu that I could see, yet relied completely on his sword. How did it go with you? Are you both ok?"

"Yes, both our opponent were somewhat skilled but unprepared to deal against our bloodline abilities. Both Kimimaro and I are unhurt."

"Good, then seal the heads and burn the bodies. Someone planned this attack, and may have planned something else in case it failed. Let hurry and get back to Shigure-sensei. Once we get back to the village, I plan on getting to the bottom of this. Let's go!"

With that Naruto's team left to finish their task and complete their mission. Time for payback will have to wait until they found who ordered the attack. But once Naruto found out who, well they would find out why you never pissed off an Uzumaki!

Xxx

Well there you have it! Naruto and his team will have to deal with somebody wanting them dead bad enough to put a hit on them. Next chapter they will look for the culprit, deal with the Leaf some more and maybe get another mission? Well you'll all see next time!

As always I would like to thank my friend JS helping me with the story and pushing me to keep writing when I was feeling too lazy to do it.

Lord Rahl Master of D'Hara