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The fight was on. Yūgao Uzuki summoned her chakra; the power coiled through her like a mad beast. She raised her sword, and swung down with it. The purple-haired ANBU captain was beyond angry. The audacity of these shinobi from Oto and Suna; their arrogance in attacking Konohagakure, and the slaying of several innocent doctors, nurses, and chūnin guards. Even other members of the ANBU – her brethren.

She was in combat with another swordsman. The teen was hold his own against her well, with a generic sword that matched her own ninjatō's size.

Her team was assigned by the Hokage to guard and keep Sabaku no Gaara – the jinchūriki of the One-Tailed Beast of Sunagakure – and his siblings, the children of the Kazekage, in the hospital. She had prided herself of being one of the ANBU's best sensor-type shinobi. She knew something was up when she felt no familiar pulse when she used the ANBU seal and set a pulse to it to see if her allies' seal would do the same in return. She got no such pulse, putting her and her team, Team Daiki, in battle mode.

In Konoha, the group had a tattoo that not only was distinctive, but served a purpose outside being simply a traditional thing. The ANBU's signature spiral tattoo was actually a complex seal, serving as a way for every member of the ANBU to identify themselves. Every member who got it, had their chakra synced to it, and it acted like their registration card. Their history, their skills, and their own names were placed into the seal by their chakra. None of these people, who acted like one of the teams guarding the children of the Fourth Kazekage, were familiar. The team who were placed inside the room were dead.

So Yūgao signaled her team, and they gotten ready. Operatives Tori, Kyo, Shin, and Yumi all prepared their weapons. Kyo summoned lightning release chakra into his blade; Shin had brought out two kunai, one in each of his hands; Yumi was summoning chakra, no doubt preparing for a ninjutsu; and Tori looked ready unleash a kenjutsu. The enemy finally stopped acting like they were allies. Their faces were revealed, and Yūgao growled under her mask.

There were five people. There was a teen with light blue hair and violet eyes. His teeth was sharp like a shark's, and a confident smirk on his face. The teen immediately sent a burst of water towards one of her teammates' way. Operative Tori, Yūgao's teammate, moved out of the way of the blast, but just barely because the room they were in was incredibly small. Tori moved away, and to the doorway of the hospital room.

Then, another enemy struck and Operative Maki, another teammate of Team Daiki, found herself engaged in combat with another one of the members of the enemy group. The second enemy was a kunoichi, who had blue hair, red lipstick, and wore a green outfit. The chakra Yūgao could sense from her was jōnin-level, alarming her. The woman also was fighting with a strange ability, creating shuriken-shaped blades that looked like they were made of crystals. A Kekkai Genkai, perhaps?

Then she held a piercing scream that haunted her as one of her teammates, Operative Shin was executed on the spot. White blades stuck through him, almost looking like bone stuck out of him. No… It was bone, as Yūgao thought with a chill running down her back. Only one clan was capable of doing that. There was a Kaguya here? The purple-haired ANBU started to sweat under her porcelain mask. Yes, there was a Kaguya, and to kill Shin, a powerful shinobi, in one shot? The Kaguya didn't even look all that old either. A teen with fair skin, white hair, and green eyes who looked coldly at the squad of ANBU.

The fourth person was not much of a problem. The fourth person wielded a kunai, who clearly showed his allegiance with having an Oto headband on his head, and swung it in the face of her fourth teammate, Operative Kyo. Kyo, who was faster than the Oto shinobi, retaliated, and cut the shinobi down with one swing of his lightning-infused sword. The enemy wailed in pain, and clutched futilely to his diagonal wound on his chest, before succumbing to his injuries. Kyo made a beeline towards the final shinobi of the enemy's squad.

The last person was someone she did recognize. Kabuto Yakushi stood in the back of the battle, and focused on the person in the room: Gaara. He was doing something to the boy, possibly waking him up and undoing the paralysis seal placed upon the boy after he was disqualified from the Chūnin Exams and brought to this special part of the hospital. How did these people get in here so easily? There were two squads posted in this branch of the hospital. How could they have killed the team inside, without Team Daiki knowing beforehand.

Kabuto dodged Kyo's swing, but did not attempt to combat Yūgao's ally. Instead, the Kaguya came forth with speed belonging to an elite shinobi, and a white bone protruded out of his palm. Operative Kyo seen it, and dodged it by backing up towards the window. Glass shattered, and the female ANBU squad captain watched as Kyo jumped out the window, with the Kaguya following.

The ANBU captain told her subordinates to move. Being in close corners with the enemies was putting them at a huge disadvantage. The hospital halls were not that better, but it was better than keeping inside the hospital room where Gaara was. Her teammates followed her commands, but two of the enemies followed, and the captain noticed Kabuto was not one of them. The blue haired teen came forth first, and went for Uzuki.

The purple haired squad captain of the group of ANBU moved out the way of the swing of the blue-haired swordsman's sword, drawing her own sword. She unleashed her chakra, letting it flow onto her sword. Then she swung, and made contact, but something strange happened, and her sword went through her enemy's body like water. Another bloodline she would have to worry about? One that actively changes the user body into liquid? It was useless trying hit him with a weapon, she quickly deduced. She barely dodged the next attack, when the teen's fist doubled in size somehow and almost smacked her in the face.

Maki and Tori fought the blue-haired kunoichi, who seemed to hold up well against them, which was a problem. Then she split into two, and held her ground against the ANBU. That definitely confirmed the enemy kunoichi was a jōnin-level shinobi. Yūgao attempted to help, but the blue-haired youth was proving to be annoying. The teen swung his blade in the ANBU captain's face, and kept Yūgao on the defensive.

Then a dread came over her, as she felt a chakra – inhuman – come forth from the room Gaara was contained in. Kabuto hadn't come out before to fight them; whatever he was doing to the Suna jinchūriki, had worked. A roar that sounded scarcely human, and more so demonic, rang out in the hallways of the hospital floor. The ANBU and the enemy shinobi turned to see the jinchūriki running out the room with a warped face – half-demon and half-human. Half of his body, transformed into a demon. He turned his head, and saw all the ninja in the hallway. He roared again, and a sandy arm came flying through to attack all of them.

"Move!" Yūgao shrieked out, more so telling her teammates than the enemy shinobi. However, they too moved out the wild attack from the Ichibi jinchūriki.

The blue-haired male shinobi turned into water, his sword dropping uselessly to the ground. The blue-haired woman jumped up to the ceiling, and stuck to it like glue. She could not see what Kabuto Yakushi, or her two teammates were doing to dodge the attack, and didn't bother to find out. Yūgao herself divebombed into a nearby room, which had its door open conveniently (and luckily enough), and watched a clawed tentacle of sand fly by forward to the direction of a wall. A loud crash sounded out.

"UZUMAKI! I'M COMING FOR YOU, UZUMAKI!" The sounds of glass shattering and wall being smashed was heard, and Yūgao stopped hearing Gaara. The boy fled from the hospital.

"Suigetsu, Guren!" A male voice – no doubt Kabuto Yakushi – shouted. "We're going, now!"

After some sounds of movement, they too left, and the three members of Team Daiki were left alone.

The purple-haired captain finally moved from her spot in the room, and near the exit of the room she was in. She looked both ways, and seen where the enemies had fled the hospital from. A sizable hole was made where a wall and window used to be. "Maki, Tori, are you already?!"

"Affirmative, captain!" Tori had yelled back. She walked out of her spot – which was a hospital room.

"Affirmative!" Maki had also confirmed she was alright as well, jumping down from the ceiling. "What now, captain?"

"We must contain the jinchūriki, at all cost! We're going after Gaara, now!"

"I don't think so!" A new voice said out to the three Konoha ANBU. The three turned to see a great gust of wind coil in the hallways of the hospital, tearing up wall and floor alike. The captain of Team Daiki was able to move back in the room in time, but Operative Maki and Tori were blow back from the attack by their yells. The gale carried them towards the direction the hole was.

"Kankurō! Let's go!" The captain of the ANBU squad growled at hearing the feminine voice bark orders. Temari and Kankurō, the children of the Kazekage, were also out of their confinements. All three of the Kazekage's children were strategically placed far away from each other in this hospital, so if they even broke out, they wouldn't know where each other. Kabuto's doing, no doubt.

"Right!" Kankurō stated, and both passed by the room Yūgao was in, and towards the hole leading to the village.

The captain was infuriated. Her teammates were gone – all of them. Shin was dead, Kyo separated from them, and both Maki and Tori were – literally – blown away. Their status was unknown and she could not look for them. Hopefully, they could reconnect back with her, but the purple-haired ANBU had little time to waste. Her mission was to make sure Gaara stayed contained, and the boy had gone out. She didn't even know where he was going.

Collecting not only her sword, but her thoughts, she realized Gaara had screamed out a specific name: Uzumaki. There was only one Uzumaki she could think of, and he was still taking participating in the Chūnin Exams today. The demon container was heading to the stadium where the exams were taking place. If she could not get back to her squad, she would have to link with another squad. Oh, her poor team. She wanted to search for them, but there was no time for any of that.

There was no more time to ponder, regain her bearings, and mourn for anyone. She had work to do.

Gaara would be at the stadium in a few minutes.


The aftermath of the fight between Sasuke Uchiha and Neji Hyūga had the crowd buzzing for the remainder of the hour break the Hokage had said would be given out. People talked about the past matches, and some were predicting who would win the tournament. The four final contestants of the exams were all genin from Konohagakure, something many were proud about. That was one major topic in the crowd.

The jōnin in the stands were no stranger to the hot topic.

"Ha! It looks like my student, Neji has defeated your Sasuke, Kakashi!" Gai grinned. "I'm proud of my Neji and Lee making it to the top! My students will definitely overtake this tournament. Yosh!"

"Now, now. My students did well for themselves. I'm not in the slightest disappointed." The gray hair jōnin spoke pleasantly, as he flipped through a page in his book. "I am proud that all of them, especially Sakura and Sasuke. They have improved considerably."

"Your students may made it, Gai, but both of mine are still in the tournament," Kurenai smiled at the man in green. "They aren't going to lose to Neji or Lee."

Gai grinned in his peer's direction. "You wait and see, Kurenai-san! Naruto and Shino are formidable, but they don't have as much as experience as my two."

"'Experience?'" Kurenai snorted. "You and I both know that's a moot point. Especially since my two kids made it to the top, and they have only been rookies for a few months now."

"Hey guys, why don't we spice it up, and start a little wager on who's going to win?" Asuma interjected, a grin on his face. "We bet on who will be the winner of this whole tournament. Whichever one of us is right, gets 20,000 ryō from the others."

"Oh?" Kakashi looked up from his orange book with slight interest. "This should be fun."

"Eh." Kurenai shrugged. "Why not? I'm down."

"You're going to participate, Zabuza-san?" The bearded Sarutobi asked to the ninja on his far right.

"I have no clue on whose gonna win. All four of these brats are good." Zabuza grunted. Pausing for a few moments in thought, he shrugged. "Eh, what the hell? I'm in. How much money are we betting again?"

"20 thousand."

"You're on." The swordsman grinned under his mask. "I can make a cool 20 Gs if the brat I bet on wins."

"Ah! Gambling! Such an unyouthful thing!" Gai exclaimed, a small frown on his face. "Vote on the victor and put our money on them? I'm sure our students wouldn't want us betting on them."

The copycat ninja rolled his visible eye. "Then don't vote, Righteous Gai. I, on the other hand, am interested, and I do believe everyone here have a fighting chance."

"So who do you vote for then, guys?" Asuma grinned. "My money's on the fellow wind user in the tournament, Naruto. Definitely believe he has the best chance in winning."

"I have to say the same." Kakashi smiled under his mask. "Naruto has done quite the interesting things today, from what I heard from you all. Defeating Gaara was no easy feat, I gander, and I argue that Gaara was the strongest genin in the tournament since he's a jinchūriki."

"My money's on Shino Aburame." Kurenai smirked.

"Shino? I'm surprised, Kurenai. I thought you once said Naruto was the strongest one on your team. Does Shino have something on Naruto?" Asuma raised a small eyebrow towards his not-so-secretive girlfriend.

"I did admit once that Naruto was my best student, yes. However, Shino is my smartest, and his bugs are a natural advantage against Naruto, who relies heavily on his chakra to win his battles. Not to mention out of all of them, Shino has the most experience against Naruto. I'm sure Shino can find an answer." The woman finished explained to her peers with a small smile on her face. 'If Naruto was working incredibly hard this last month to improve, Shino has done the same – perhaps even much more. Getting training from not only me, but his father and some of those scrolls Kakashi gave him for his Doton techniques. Not to mention, it's a good chance Shino could win.'

"I doubt Shino's insects will do much to Naruto," Kakashi started, thinking about how much chakra Naruto had. It was like thinking about an animal drinking from a river or lake. The animal could drink all it wanted from the lake, but they would never be able to drink all of the water. "But if he has something to put him down, I think Shino does have a good chance."

"I say that Lee kid got a chance." Zabuza uttered, putting his two cents in the conversation. "Those techniques from before looked killer, and I figured he's the fastest of the genin in this match. The blond brat and that Aburame might be able to stall him out with attrition, and that Hyūga be able to shut him down with that 'Gentle Fist' crap, but he's proven that he can out-speed them. Out-muscle them. Not to mention, I recognize those techniques he was doing. He opened some of the Eight Gates." Zabuza looked over to the silent Mighty Gai. His lips curved upwards under his mask. "Teaching one of your brats how to tap into one of the Gates? You're a savage."

Gai grunted in displeasure but said nothing.

"Not a bad one, Zabuza-san." The Sharingan user, Kakashi, nodded. "Very true. Someone as young as Lee all of that is very good."

"Hm." Was the member of the Seven Swordsman Of The Mist's noncommittal response.

Asuma smiled. "I still think Naruto's got a good chance against him."

"As do I." Kakashi shrugged, smiling also under his mask.

"I bet on my Neji!" Gai finally entered the conversation. A fist pumped in the air. "Let's go, Neji!"

"Gai? What earned this change of mind?" Kakashi asked, raising an eyebrow in the eccentric man's direction.

"I simply don't want nobody forgetting about Neji." Gai flashed a large smile and a thumbs. "Neji has proven himself worth of such. I'm quite proud of both my students. However, I believe Neji can defeat all three of them. Shino can't approach Neji, and so can't Naruto. Out of all of them, Lee may come the closest to defeating him, but Neji also stands a great chance against him."

"Supposing he survives against my Shino." Kurenai smirked.

"I am betting he does." The taijutsu master smirked back at her.

"Put your money in, people. The matches start soon." Asuma grinned. "This should be good, win or lose. I don't actually mind losing or winning here."

"Pft, you only, pal. I need a couple of bills in my pocket." Zabuza huffed.

Stop The Future

Chapter 26: Chūnin Exams Rumble! Finale

Rock Lee was up, and ready to go, and looking better than he did when he had his first match. As soon as the hour break was done with, Rock Lee had entered back into the Fighter's Booth. To show that he was able-bodied, Rock Lee made a small showcase of how many push-ups he could do with one hand.

"70. 71. 72. 73. 74..."

Naruto grinned over his opponent, and watched. "Hey, Lee. You're gonna tire yourself out before the match begins."

"Hmph. This is nothing to the fool." Neji muttered, but Naruto heard it. They were all near each other, crowded in a circle. Lee was in the middle doing push ups, while Shino, Naruto and Neji looked onto the boy do a rep of push-ups gleefully.

"..." Shino opted to silently stare at the boy who did push-ups in front of them. 'Quite a bit of energy.'

"98. 99. 100!" The excited Rock Lee finished, hopping to his feet. Moving closer towards his teammate, Lee pumped his fist. "Yosh! I completed my goal and yet, there is still time before our matches. I can't believe it. I have made it so far."

"Congrats. Now, you best save some energy for me now. After all, you're going to need it." The blond boasted with a grin. "I'm not going to go easy on you if you expended a lot of energy on that."

"Those push-ups weren't anything to me, Naruto-kun. Don't you worry! I'll glad match your youthful spirit in this match!" Lee smiled brightly, and gave Naruto a thumbs-up.

"Nice!" The Uzumaki teen matched his thumbs-up.

"Hmph." Neji snorted. "Looks like Lee might burn up your energy before you even make against me, Uzumaki."

"Assuming you win your match against me, Hyūga-san." Shino frowned. "You best not worry about Naruto-san, or else you might lose your energy as well."

"Please. It's not my fate to lose to you, Aburame. I'll deal with you, and then Uzumaki over there, should he defeat Lee in combat."

Shino said nothing more, opting to simply stare at Neji with the corner of his eye.

"Me and Shino gonna make it to the top, boys. You don't have worry about that." Naruto wiped his nose cockily. "Worry about actually showing enough to be called chūnin after this."

"Yosh! Me and Neji-kun shall be the final two, ne, Neji-kun?!" Lee clapped Neji on his shoulder, and held his hand there momentarily. Neji then shrugged his grasp off, and separated from Lee.

At that moment, the proctor came inside the Fighter's Booth. A smile graced Gemna Shiranui's lips, and he took a look at the four boys in the booth. "So, you are the last four? Congratulations on making it this far. Looks like things are heating up in here, huh, kiddies?" Genma, the proctor of the exams grinned. "Keep all this tension in the battle. It starts soon. Let me get the first two who is about to fight: Naruto Uzumaki and Rock Lee."

The two named boys stepped up, and walked out the room with Genma. Neji and Shino both walked up to the railings of the contestant booth, and looked down to the arena. It didn't take long for the three shinobi that left the booth to appear down front. Genma grabbed his microphone, as the two fighters separated. "Welcome back from our short break. We shall begin with the first match of the second part of the semi-finals: Naruto Uzumaki vs Rock Lee! Both contestants hail from Konohagakure! Let the match begin!"

The crowd's reaction was instantaneous; loud cheers rang out from the collective body of people, excited to see two shinobi duke it out.

Lee already had placed himself in his fighting stance, the Gōken. "Let us have a good battle, Naruto-kun!"

The blond boy smiled at his friend. "Of course we'll put on a show, Lee. Show no mercy, Bushy Brows!"

"I intend not to!" Lee yelled before making the first move.

Lee made a dash towards Naruto, in a great burst of speed, with an elbow strike at Naruto. Naruto put up an arm to protect his face, grunting at the pressure Lee applied to his upper extremity. Lee was taller than him, his muscles more developed, and he was a monster at close combat – more so than Naruto at this stage of his life. Lee was dangerously fast. Naruto tried launching a kick to Lee's side as he recovered from Lee's elbow strike, but Lee slapped away the kick, and launched a kick to Naruto's jaw.

It hit clean, and Naruto spun in the air like a rag doll, before hitting the ground roughly. Lee put his foot down, and smirked in Naruto's direction. "That's not going to get me, Naruto-kun."

Naruto grunted, and sat up. Rubbing his jaw, and nursing the pain away, Naruto nevertheless succeeded in getting back up to his feet and looked across to his opponent. Lee was faster than him, even with the weights he had on. He knew Lee had them on – otherwise, he would be something of a green blur now. If Naruto wanted to win this one, he would have to get a little more serious. If he could not beat Lee by speed, he had to win by purely overwhelming him with attacks Lee couldn't guard against. Even if he didn't work, he did have something to fall back on. He couldn't use Sage Mode to increase his speed and strength, but he did have something else, and he had wanted to test it out anyway in battle. Why not here? If he knew Lee, he would have to use the Eight Gates soon anyway.

A shiver of excitement bubbled inside him, running from his head to his toes. Naruto was going to have his fun in this match. Out of all of these fights in the tournament, Naruto wasn't out to prove a thing. Not to knock some sense into Gaara, and not in the hopes to humble Neji. No, it was about fun. Plain old fun against one of his friends. Someone who was a lot like him. It was about truly showcasing some of his skills. Along with being just simply entertaining. Rock Lee, or "Fuzzy eyebrows", was an excellent opponent, and worked incredibly hard to become a formidable shinobi to this day. It was his hopes to fight the guy in this tournament, because every time him and Lee fought in Naruto's former past, he always enjoyed it. Naruto had no thoughts about losing though. He would become chūnin today – damn the consequences!

Something similar ran in the mind of Rock Lee – taijutsu expert of Team Gai. To him, Naruto was just like him. Vilified in the Konohagakure Academy because of the mediocrity of his skills. Only when he left the academy did he bloom into a grand flower. Now, a fūton and fūinjutsu user. Fast, and was able to defeat Sabaku no Gaara, a powerful shinobi in his own right. Naruto was perfect to fight. A genius of hard work, much like Lee himself. However, it was unfortunate they had to fight. Lee had no wishes to lose today, not to Naruto-kun. Instead, he wished to move on in the tournament and fight Neji, his own teammate in the finals and show him that he had grown. From a weak boy who was smacked around by Neji Hyūga in all of their spars, to a young man of great prowess, Lee would get his wish. He was faster, stronger, better than he was before. In order to show him, however, he had to defeat another genius of hard work in battle. If he had to do, so be it.

Rock and Uzumaki stared at each other, both with smiles but eyes that told the other, "I am not going to lose to you." Not a word between them, both slipped into a fighter's stance. Naruto had already started channeling chakra inside his body, while Lee was with his Gōken style, hand in front of him. Then, he flexed his hand and beckoning Naruto to come. A few seconds later, Naruto grinned, and struck first. A wind release technique launched at Lee, Naruto firing the attack out of his palms. He hadn't even seen Naruto use hand-seals to call forth the attack, nor did he announce it beforehand. A spear flew towards Lee's direction, ripping through the wind incredibly fast.

However, it would not hit Lee. The spear dispersed somewhere behind Rock Lee. Lee had already moved out of the way of the path of the wind attack, sprinting to his opponent. Lee swung at Naruto, who block the strong punch. Lee pushed forward, applying his stronger muscles, bigger frame and height against the smaller genin, Naruto. Naruto gritted his teeth, relented and allowed Lee to go forward before he was pressed more. Naruto jumped back and threw a few shuriken towards Lee.

They served to be simply a distraction to Lee, and the boy easily moved through the shuriken, and approach Naruto again. When Naruto fired out another wind spear towards the disciple of Maito Gai, Lee jumped in the sky, high. The attack moved forward and occupied the space Lee once stood at, before dispersing into nothingness again. Lee then aimed towards Naruto with a dive kick. Naruto rolled to the left of Lee, hopped to his feet and this time attacked Lee head on, slamming a kick to his chest. Lee shot his arms up quickly and blocked the kick. He grunted at the pain that followed, but suffered not much damage to his forearms. Naruto bounced off Lee's arms, and dodged Lee's following low sweep kick. Naruto backed up and moved quite a distance from the taijutsu user. No doubt to prepare another technique.

Like he did with Temari, he approached again, not allowing anymore distance between them. Any sort of distance a wind user gotten, and Lee would find himself in trouble. He aimed for Naruto's head with his signature move. "Konoha Senpū!"

However, Naruto would have none of that, ducked and rolled under Lee's jumping rotating kick. He recovered from his roll, stayed crouched dug into his back pouch, and brought forth a kunai and placed it in the palm of his hands. Naruto generated chakra, bringing it to his palms. After saturating his palms with chakra, he converted it to wind, and allowed his chakra to spread across the metal of the kunai. A blue aura wrapped around the metal, becoming a sharp edge, much like how a sword would be. Naruto stood up and held the handle of the kunai, like he held the handle of a sword.

Lee looked over at Naruto's newer weapon with bemusement. The kunai looked like a proper sword. Did this have to do with his wind chakra? "Ah! An advanced technique, Naruto-kun. I never seen something like this before..."

Naruto smirked. "Application of wind chakra to my weapon. It's called Chakra Flow. A little trick I picked up. Now, let's see you dodge it!" Then Naruto rushed at him with the kunai in his hand. Lee dodged the swipe at his chest with relative ease.

Or at least thought. He heard the ripping of fabric, and stared down to see his green jumpsuit top rip open diagonally. Lee wasn't hit, but his favorite outfit, ruined. He wondered how. Naruto's new weapon could attack him, at a distance? It would seem much harder now to attack Naruto. Naruto then summoned clones, four which had the same wind kunai in their hands, and held it like a one-handed sword. Then, they went full force to him.

Lee dodged their swipes, or tried, and ended up cut up with stinging vertical, and diagonal wounds in his skin. He hissed in pain. Just like he found in his match against Temari, wind attacks were not fun to be hit by. His outfit, getting maimed every time a Naruto approached. Lee would need more speed to deal with them. He made a made dash away, and already crouched, reaching into his leg warmers. Naruto's clones had already been sent out to attack him. Lee threw one of the weight set at the clones, and a following "BOOM" followed. Lee could hear the clone pop, and smiled. Then he took the other weight, and chucked it in the same direction, just in case a Naruto clone, or Naruto himself, wanted to try attacking him upfront again. Another "BOOM" shook the arena.

Lee flexed his legs, and grinned. Unburdened and limber, he rushed towards Naruto with greater speed than before. After the dust settled from his weight-throwing attack, he did find two clones of Naruto that survived that attack he threw at them. They came, and threw their wind-sheathed kunai at him. Lee spun around the two blades, and approached the clones head on. The two clones tried attacking him, but Lee swung a kick in an arc, and dispersed them into smoke.

Lee felt that was… Easy. Almost too easy. Where was Naruto at?

Suddenly, he could hear and feel a rumbling of the ground from his feet, and seen a fist come from… Under him! It came so fast, Lee had no time to guard, no time to move, and no time to parry. Naruto came from the ground, and socked Lee right in the jaw with a powerful uppercut. Lee yelped in stark pain. That hurt extremely badly, and Lee flew back in the air. He heard more bursting of the ground, and more clones came forth. From all angles, the clones assaulted him. Two launched a set of successful kicks to his back, and two others slammed a kick to his spleen, launching him higher in the air. Lee could barely register what the clones were yelling, but… It seemed like they were spelling out… Naruto's last name? "U-ZU-MA-KI", they yelled.

That seemed to not be the end of the attack. Lee watched helplessly as all four of the clones grabbed one of his limbs each. His legs and arms interlocked in tight grips. The Naruto who hit him – whether or not it was a clone, Lee did not know – jumped out of the hole he made in the ground, and to him. Jumping over the body of Lee. He held his head back in pain, knowing what was coming, he could not block. As Lee fell back down, Naruto spun in the air, and dropped a rotating heel drop kick to his stomach. Lee yelled out in pain, as his body bounced against the ground. Lee's body burned with fire. He had wanted – just briefly – right there, to stop.

The crowd's cheering started to dull to his ears. He was close, close to slipping into unconsciousness-

Until he heard someone screaming for him to continue the match. "LEE! GET UP, LEE! DON'T YOU DARE QUIT NOW! RECOVER, AND KEEP FIGHTING HIM, LEE!"

It was his sensei, Gai. He recognized the voice. He seemed so incensed, so angry. The man kept yelling for him, and yelling, and yelling until he could not ignore it. Then he heard in his head Tenten as well, "GET THE HELL UP, LEE! FIGHT HIM! COME ON, FIGHT HIM!"

"YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHH!" Lee yelled, and fought to get back up to his feet. It hurt so badly, but he wouldn't lose here, not to Naruto. He would fight Neji in the finals, that he swore! 'No matter what, no matter what, I will not lose this! Not like this!'

His opponent chuckled. Naruto had stood in front of his clones, folding his arms. "Still won't stay down? That's good. Keep fighting me, Lee!"

However, Naruto did not give Lee any time to do any sort of damage control, and to breathe. All of his clones launched at him with the familiar elemental attack. "Team of four! Fūton: Shikūdan!"

The spears all came forth, and Lee sent forth chakra to his feet. It was difficult to feel and mold the correct amount of chakra to any sort of limb of his body, but he had mastered both the tree walking and water walking exercises before. He augmented his legs, and jumped high in the sky, dodging the spears of wind as they cracked together, and created an explosion. However, Naruto must have predicted Lee would jump, as Lee could hear chakra spiraling in back of him wildly. Lee pivoted in the air, and grabbed the wrist of the younger boy, before using his superior strength, and throwing Naruto away from him and to the ground. Naruto gracefully recovered, landing on the ground with a crouch.

This was getting insane, Lee thought to himself with a frown. Times like this, Lee wished he had access to ninjutsu. Naruto's blatant abuse of the Kage Bunshin no Jutsu was frustrating, especially for someone like Lee who had no way of figuring out where the real Naruto was. The blond was especially good at using clones as distractions or switching with them when Lee was sure he got the real Naruto.

Not to mention, his sensei banned him from using his two strongest techniques in the Eight Gates. No Omote Renge or Ura Renge can be used – at least on people from his own village. It would kill anyone quickly. He could use any gate level, but he could not use those two techniques. It fit Lee just fine. He wasn't out to kill anyone – especially someone who he considered an ally – today. But he needed more to handle Naruto and his shadow clones.

So Lee escaped away, and started to tap into his inner chakra. Being without his weights were not enough to trump his opponent in speed. He had to dig deeper. A wave of power came to him, filling his body. Then, he released it. "Kaimon, release!"

A surge of chakra rolled forth in Lee's body. Lee's face strained for a second, before he relaxed and let the growing chakra unfold in front of him. Muscles becoming stronger and augmented by chakra, the First Gate was unlocked.

Lee dashed towards Naruto and for the first time in the match, Naruto could not match Lee's speed. The taijutsu expert cracked the jinchūriki across the face with a bone crunching hook. Then a kick, and finally another to put Naruto on the ground. The clones came, and Lee could see them from the corner of his eye. One came with a wind-cloaked kunai, another with a blue glowing orb in his hand. Another raised his right palm after completing a sequence of hand seals, and the last one was at a further distance, running in while flipping madly through some hand-seals.

"Fūton: Shikūshō!" The clone from the far right shot first. A spherical attack of wind chakra came forth fast at him, as the technique launched from the clone's right palm. The other clone from his left threw the wind kunai at him as well.

Lee moved, and backed off. The clones were all closing in on him. Moving forward would not be the right thing. Lee practically tore his kunai pouch off him, and chucked a kunai at the clone who attacked him. The kunai flew at a speed that would make Tenten proud. The clone moved away, barely, and Lee seen his opening as he became a blur. One punch was enough to destroy the clone, and Lee saw nothing but smoke. However, Lee trusted his hearing, and heard the noisy blue orb the third Naruto clone had in his hand. He cartwheeled out of the way, and the clone who ran at him with the orb overextended its attack, and slammed the orb to the ground. Lee's form became a blur again, and he kicked the third clone in the head, satisfied as another clone was dispersed.

Finally, the last clone who was in the back, safeguarding the real Naruto (who watched the battle unfold sitting down), completed his technique, and released it. Finishing with a dragon hand-seal, Clone-Naruto called out his name of his attack. "Fūton: Shippūya!"

Lee found himself again on the defense. A barrage of wind attacks, shaped like arrows, flew full throttle at him. He couldn't count how many arrows were coming at him. Having no choice but to once again move, or get hit, Lee opted to move away. However, Lee noted a weakness in Naruto's technique. The move only went one direction – seemed only to be straight, at the time. Lee also could keep dodging, but he rather finish off the clone and Naruto quickly as well. Lee once again sped off in a flash of speed, and reappeared in front of the clone, who got his face full of Lee's foot. The real Naruto was no longer on the ground, had gotten up even before the clone succeed in completing the wind release technique before, and disappeared from Lee's peripheral vision again.

The older genin then parried a strike from Naruto from above, guarding himself with a forearm before Naruto's punch connected. Lee swung with his other good arm, and Naruto could do nothing in his position. Lee's punch connected a solid face. However, Lee found it to be a big mistake. As soon as he did, Naruto's face lit up, his eyes glowed, and became nothing but light. Lee could do nothing and was knocked off his feet, blasted away by the resulting explosion.

Lee almost went unconscious again. If the thrashing Naruto gave him from before was painful, the explosion was much worse. It didn't blow up one of his limbs – but it made his left arm, and shoulder numb. His face ached something fierce, and he felt like he was going to go under quickly. However, Lee refused, and willed his body to get up again. Today had been something else. He gotten swept off his feet dozen times by ninjutsu or taijutsu that hurt. Naruto Uzumaki could not be played around with anymore, not even if Lee was enjoying the match. He was sure the only thing that was helping him stay up was adrenaline, and sheer force.

Lee climbed to his feet, and summoned his strength again. Another gate would have to be released. "Kyūmon, release!"

As soon as the second gate was unlocked, Lee's body immediately felt better. His arms felt better, and his aching stopped. It would be temporary, but it would help. Not stopping there though, Lee was ready to tap into the Third Gate, Seimon...

...And this was not lost on Naruto. The blond narrowed his eyes, watching the older boy's chakra aura dramatically increase, and an underlying green aura erupt. 'He's going for the next gate. He's looking to finish this. I got hit before when he was just in the first gate, and it hurt badly. If I get hit by something like the Omote Renge, or the Ura Renge, no matter what power I got, I'm done for. Fuck, even a simple punch could put me down.'

Up in the stands, Kakashi narrowed his eyes to Maito Gai. "You taught your student how to use more than one gate, huh? How many can he tap into?"

Gai adopted a serious expression. "Five, as of now."

Zabuza chuckled, "Five? That's fucking insane, man."

Kurenai frowned deeply. She too thought that was "fucking insane" of a boy like Lee to know how to open something as dangerous as the Eight Gates, especially five of the eight levels of that power. Now, he was using it on someone who he considered a countryman. "Isn't that quite extreme?"

The ninja clad in green shook his head. "It was necessary, Kurenai-san. Unlike everyone here, he cannot mold enough chakra to use any ninjutsu or genjutsu properly. Not even the E-rank ones they teach you in the Academy."

The former missing-nin, Zabuza, snorted after hearing Gai. "You think someone like that should have become a shinobi then? Typical that you Konoha ninja let someone like that in your forces, just because you believe in letting people 'follow their dreams.'" He promptly ignored Gai's icy stare back at him and shrugged. "Hey, I'm just saying."

"Remember now, Zabuza. You too are a part of Konohagakure as well." Kakashi chided the swordsman, who grunted and folded his arms. Kakashi then addressed the irritated Maito Gai. "But, are you sure about this, Gai? Lee could not only end up hurting Naruto seriously, but himself too."

"He knows restrain, Kakashi. Don't insult me." Gai frowned. "I banned him from using any sort of taijutsu that can kill Naruto or himself. He's simply aiming – like Naruto – to incapacitate, not kill."

Kakashi did a noncommittal hum, not exactly sure that it was appropriate for Lee to tap into that power against an ally like Naruto. However, he did continue the conversation. "He's a genius, you know? To be able to open one of the Eight Gates at his age is astounding." Kakashi himself could only unlock one, and felt that was enough there. "Then again, you were around the same age when you could unlock a few of the gates as well too, huh?"

Gai chuckled lightly. A little of the tense air dissipating. "Yes, I was. Lee is just like me. I see myself a lot in that boy. I too, like my father before me, was inept in ninjutsu and genjutsu, so I focused on taijutsu. To prove myself worth of the title 'shinobi'. I was not going to let that weakness stop me from becoming a powerful shinobi to this day. I would never give up. I would never give in. I would never quit, even when things gotten tough. Finally, I always pushed myself, always setting difference challenges and things to accomplish. These are my rules. My way.

Gai smiled, and gave a thumbs up to Kakashi. "Lee is like me. Like Naruto. Like my father. All hailed losers once in our lives. We were all late bloomers. We're all geniuses in sheer hard work, and determination. In the end, I'm proud Lee has made it this far in the exams. He's one step closer to becoming a chūnin. He's also very responsible. What a chūnin needs to be. He's not aiming to hurt Naruto, but you best damn believe he's going to give Naruto the fight of his life."

Kakashi looked back at his old friend, not holding back the small smile developing under his mask. "I'm sure Naruto is going to give him the same."

"That, I do not doubt for a second, Kakashi."

Back down in the arena, Naruto watched as Lee exploded with chakra around him with eagerness. "Well... Since you're getting serious, Lee. I should too." Naruto smirked, punching his fist into his palm. "I should test my limits against you since you are opening your gates." Naruto's face then fell, the smile wiped off his expression. It was instead replaced with a grim face of determination.

Naruto then summoned a total of one hundred clones. He was starting to feel his chakra lowering to a less uncomfortable level. Throwing all those ninjutsu out was starting to get to him. "Distract him for a minute. Gonna take a bit to rev up the old fox's chakra." 'I haven't trained with this chakra very much, and I need more time re-learning how to control it, but let's do it anyway!'

"Seimon, release!" Lee yelled. His eyes became nothing but white. His skin reddened, and his face tightened. With a war cry, Lee disappeared from existence with a simple step of his feet. A few of the clones formed a formation around Naruto, and Naruto was moved by his dopplegängers to a safer distance. Naruto watched as Lee immediately plowed into a few of his clones. The immediate backlash of the clones popping at once started to wear on him, but it did not break his concentration.

Lee had tried his best to hit the boy but was blown back momentarily by a new wave of chakra. Naruto's visible chakra, first blue, was now vermillion. It flared angrily, keeping Lee away from it, and from Naruto until it died, and Lee could get a good look at Naruto's newer appearance. Naruto's hair stood up in more golden spikes, his hair looking more wilder. His visage twisted into a tight snarl; Lee could swear his eyes were now red The markings on his face darkened and enlarged. Once there were small lines that almost looked like whiskers on Naruto's face. Now there were six black, almost triangular, marks on his face.

Those were his most defining features at the moment. What a curious transformation. Naruto seemed to change much like Lee's Eight Gates transformed him. He wondered what was this power, and where was it coming from. Was this work of a bloodline?

He was not the only curious about it. Jiraiya the Toad Sage looked over from his spot in the crowd and blinked curiously. 'Huh. Is that the Kyūbi's chakra? How interesting. Me and Naruto never truly went over how to use that chakra. Seems like he can use it, of course… How strange. Something else for him to tell me about later on.'

Naruto felt hot. His body felt hot. It was not warm and fuzzy, but blazing and almost uncomfortable enough to be considered pain. He only worked with this chakra for a little bit in his training, and it seemed like he needed more training with it. This chakra was something of a "gift" – the Kyūbi's last "gift" to him from his time. In actuality, it had been simply a chunk of Kyūbi's power. However, it was still very volatile and powerful chakra, something his small body could barely withstand – at least without constantly working with it. He still had a long was to go in re-learning how to control this power, but he can control this level of power enough, without suffering some dire consequences.

"Level 1" was the term he gave this power, as a red aura bubbled around him. A shroud of red, demonic chakra once belonging to the Kyūbi. More chakra came forth, and a tail was created from the shroud of power. Level 1 was simply a term for the condensed transformation for his initial jinchūriki state, and his one-tailed form. The seal he had sectioned out the demonic chakra nicely. A fraction of the power this seal's power.

In a sense, there was no more Kyūbi, no more fox, no more nine-tailed beast. Instead, there was now a human who had a portion of the former demon chakra sealed inside of him. A small amount, that was a thousand times smaller than what he had access to when the Nine-Tailed Fox was still around. It was all that he had since the beast was extracted from him. However small the chakra of the Kyūbi was, it was still very much large enough to keep him going.

The power of this chakra felt nasty, intense, and destructive. Naruto felt more aggressive, more wild. The power given to him was like a stimulant. It was seductive. Chaotic. It also was packed with… With emotions. Hatred was one of the most intense one, and he could feel it. The former Nine-Tailed Beast's hatred, for what Naruto thought was for mankind. Even in death, the old monster was still causing problems. Then again, within him, the fox still lived.

Ultimately, the chakra felt evil and quite alive. This power. Even without the demon itself willing its chakra, the chakra had almost a mind of its own, and its heady power could make you lose control. Naruto felt different, more prone to causing damage. However, he was convinced the power could be controlled. Naruto could take control of it, eventually. His body just couldn't handle extended periods in this form. Something he was working on. Slowly.

Hell, it was kind of painful using this power now.

But he was sure it wouldn't be that long to master. After all, if his lineage of the Uzumaki was any factor in this, he was already predisposed to using powerful chakra like this.

He could feel intense emotions in this form. Especially negative emotions like hatred. He could feel the citizens of this village – both shinobi and villagers alike, and their hatred for him. Like little candles shining in the dark. The strongest amount of hatred he could sense that was close to him was the hatred radiating off Orochimaru. Compared to the "candles", Orochimaru's hatred lit up like a beacon of light. A conflagration of evil. His senses went into overdrive, and he could see Lee now approach him, almost like it was normal. Despite the boy running at Naruto at top speed, Naruto could see it easily. Lee rushed up the stadium wall where he stood at, with a fist, but Naruto batted his opponent away with turning his red shroud into a fist made of chakra.

It smacked into Lee's face and the boy went flying to the stadium floor. Lee however recovered quickly, enough to dodge Naruto next swipe at him, which razed the ground Lee once occupied. Lee's chakra surged again, and he dashed away from Naruto, who sent him a savage grin.

"Where you runnin' off to, Lee?" Naruto grinned toothily. His sharp incisors showing up in the smile. "Let's get back to it, shall we?"

Across the field, Lee chuckled. "Naruto-kun. I never had so much fun in my life. Yosh! Let our youth bloom like a flower!" Then he channeled more chakra in him, and released a cry. "I won't lose, Naruto!" He blazed forth at Naruto with speed that most chūnin could only dream of. Naruto did the same, and matched his speed.

The crowd could not see anything. Not to the normal, untrained eye. Hell, some trained eyes couldn't even follow the speed. Kakashi himself let his three-tomoe Sharingan track Naruto and Lee and could barely follow them. Then only thing one could count on knowing the ninja in front were still fighting was the sounds of cracking and blows being exchanged. Lee would sometimes yell, and Naruto growled and roared back.

The two were – in Kakashi's opinion – ahead of their former classmates in sheer taijutsu skill and raw speed. Rock Lee was a master of the Gōken, and with that amazing speed infused with perfect strength, he was a powerful genin with taijutsu that was better than most chūnin. Add in that crazy fact that he could already access three of the Eight Gates, and he was a monster. If the exams was based on pure strength, Rock Lee would already be a chūnin.

Then, you added in Naruto Uzumaki, and things got more interesting. Naruto didn't come off much as a taijutsu master, because he wasn't. He however used a specific style, something Kakashi could not put his fingers on, because it certainly looked familiar but was not coming to him. Whatever Naruto was trying did have substance, but some of the moves were rigid, as if he was trying a style that was more fit for someone older than him. It lacked strength, and sometimes height. Naruto was one of the shortest genin of his graduating class in the Academy. However, what Naruto lacked in strength, he made up in speed, tenacity, and incorporating ninjutsu in his taijutsu.

Then came out the Kyūbi's demonic chakra, and Naruto's speed and strength was augmented to the point where he could go toe to toe with Rock Lee's Third Gate transformation. It didn't look bad either. In fact, the power looked in control. Contained. He heard from Kurenai that Naruto went to train with Jiraya-sama for a month. Was this Jiraiya-sama's doing? Helping the boy work with his inner demon's chakra? How interesting.

The two moved at insane speeds that Kakashi could barely keep up with. Without the Sharingan, it was impossible for him; the two boys appearing to almost two flickering figures of light. However, Kakashi knew he was wasting a great deal of chakra looking at them with the Uchiha dōjutsu, so he hid his eye back up and looked around for reactions from his fellow jōnin. Asuma and Kurenai looked at the two beings of "light" with slacked jaws and shocked expressions. Gai grinned at Kakashi's side, enchanted by the display of pure taijutsu, but didn't seem to be able to track their movements at all. Zabuza had widened eyes, and was over by the jōnin, muttering, "What the fuck are these kids on?"

The Sharingan user, Kakashi, looked over to the source of the question. Then he shrugged and said, "Hell if I know."

The clashing stopped for a second, with Lee and a Kyūbi-fied Naruto staring at each other. They stopped, almost like they were taking a small break, staring intensely at each other.

Then, it started again. Lee jetted across to Naruto. Naruto guarded, but Lee moved in almost instantaneous speed, moving behind the blond, and sent a kick to the back of Naruto's head. Lee hit his target, but Naruto's head went up in smoke, as did his body. Lee realized quickly that what he hit was a shadow clone, and immediately looked around for Naruto. He didn't have to wait long, as Naruto came at Lee's back with a claw. Lee dodged the swipe, watched Naruto overextended the strike and let the bandages he had hanging loose wrap Naruto.

To his displeasure, the shroud around Naruto acted almost like a fire, and dissolved the paper bandages. The demonic looking Naruto bared his teeth at Lee in a smirk/sneer and the shroud sent out a fist made of chakra at Lee. Lee dodged, and moved quickly away from Naruto. The Uzumaki looked back and wagged his finger mockingly at Lee. "Now, now. None of that, Lee."

Lee frowned and felt some of that adrenaline that his transformation gave him disappear. Instead, it was replaced with some pain. Lee could tap into the gates easily, but he was still a young boy. He could feel his muscles being pressured, asking Lee to finish this quickly. So he had to. Lee forced his body into a crouch, and summoned more chakra. Naruto was just as fast as him, and had access to clones to switch with him at an instant. His Kawirimi no Jutsu was extremely good, and Lee had no way of telling when he was going to switch with a clone since Naruto did both of the techniques without usage of cumbersome hand-seals. He needed more speed, more strength.

When the right chakra bubbled up inside his gut, and traveled inside his body to encompass everything, supercharging every living cell in his body, he knew it was time. Yelling, he screamed out, "Shōmon, release!" The Fourth Gate, the Gate Of Pain.

The Fourth Gate was an immediate change in speed and strength, and he felt even stronger than before. However, the effect was immediate and his muscles started to scream out in pain, like the gate was named. He was not used to this transformation. The first three gates he had mastered to the point his body was used to it, but the fourth was a massive difference, and already changing between the gates was wearing him down. He had to put out Naruto out of commission.

He could already do the technique before in the last gate, but with the added power this gate gave him, he could end this. The green aura became greener, and more fierce. He didn't let Naruto summon any more strength or time, and became a blur of speed. He slammed an elbow to Naruto's gut, who yelped in extreme amounts of pain, and kicked into the air. Then Lee punched, and punched, and punched, and punched Naruto until he was satisfied. The shroud of red flickered dimly for a second. It was time to do it.

He quickly wrapped his bandages around Naruto, and cocooned him up. Naruto looked brutalized for a second by Lee's former beating, then the healing began, and the wounds and welts inflicted by Lee disappeared. Lee cocked back a palm back, looking somewhat horrified as the shroud flickered back on, and Naruto growled at him. Then Naruto opened his mouth and simply roared, and Lee flew back. The red aura came back on, Lee's bandages completely burnt off him, and Naruto swooped out the sky to follow Lee down. Lee landed on the ground awkwardly, but recovered, pivoted, and jumped after Naruto.

Naruto cocked his palm back, ready to strike. At the same time, Lee cocked his arm back as well, determined to match Naruto. However, Lee saw an opening, and struck first, slamming a punch into Naruto's face, while he took a palm strike to his shoulder.

A loud "CRACK" was heard.

Both went down to the ground with a loud crash. Dust and dirt flew high in the air. Both laid on the ground in their own crater, created when they crash landed on the ground. And then there was silence. There was no way Naruto was getting up from that one.

At least, that's what Lee hoped. Lee laid the on the ground, weak, and no longer desiring to fight anymore. After the crash, Lee immediately cut the power of the Fourth Gate, and returned back to his base form, before he was inflicted with more damage by the Fourth Gate. Every one of the muscles of his body was on fire, and he felt like yelling. He was sure his shoulder was broken as well. He could not get up at all. To move would be incredibly painful, and that was a problem with the transformation. It offered huge amounts of power, but it made his body immediately weak afterward. He hoped that the last attack had did in Naruto. He really did.

However he found to his horror a familiar presence loom over him. "You okay there, Lee?"

Lee's eyes widened, and for a moment, he did not speak. Finally, he chuckled, despite feeling pain by just doing that simple action. "Shadow clone again?"

"Hmm, something like that, yeah." Naruto responded cheerfully. "Sorry, man. I know ninjutsu is really a bitch against someone like you. I made a few clones in the beginning of the match and kept switching with them. I knew you couldn't tell the difference, so I kept switching. It took a lot out of me though, and you got some clean shots on me."

Lee looked bemused. "You really just kept using that technique, huh? How much chakra do you have?"

"A lot." Naruto grinned. "Kind of tired now, I admit. You got me good when you kicked it up to that last transformation you used. Almost lost there. Had to hightail it out of there after I got you away from me."

Lee sighed forlornly. "I had no chance from the beginning, did I?"

"Of course you did. I just had an advantage with my clones, but if you got me once with any of those funky taijutsu moves, I would have lost. Not that durable. I couldn't even outmatch your speed for a second there."

Lee hummed, pleased to hear he had given Naruto a good match. "I had fun, Naruto-kun, but I cannot go on any further. I reached my limits. You win."

Genma walked over, with a smirk. "Damn, kiddies. You two really put on a show. Anyway, I'll take that comment as a forfeit, Lee-san." He raised Naruto's arm. "Winner: Naruto Uzumaki!"

The crowd went wild, clapping for both contestants. Gai was one of the loudest people in the crowd, cheering for not only his defeated student but for Naruto as well. "Naruto-kun! His youth is truly showing! I believe Lee has earned another eternal rival to look to overcoming!"

Kakashi started to whisper over to Kurenai, "Might want to warn your student about that. Talking from experience, the whole 'Eternal Rival' thing sucks."

"Yosh! I'm so fired up!" Gai threw a fist into the air, high above his head. "Makes me want to spar myself. Kakashi! Let us have a battle after this!"

Doing the best thing to get Gai off his case, Kakashi pulled out his Icha Icha Paradise book, and adopted a bored expression. "Hm? You say something, Gai?"

"Curse you, Kakashi!"

Zabuza rolled his eyes, "Oh brother. Doesn't this guy shut up at all?"

Asuma shrugged his shoulders. "You'll get used to it."

"I'm not." Kurenai shook her head. "I've know the man since we graduated with him from the Academy, and I still am not used to his eccentricities."

"Alright. This match will determine who will make it to the grand finals! Shino Aburame vs Neji Hyūga!" Genma announced in his microphone. "Let the match commence!"

Shino looked towards his opponent with a hard look. His eyes never leaving Neji. Never in his life has he felt such annoyance towards a person before. Neji Hyūga was an insufferable lout who took his anger out on his cousin, Shino's teammate, last month because of politics in his clan, the Hyūga clan. Hinata had never wronged Neji, and he almost killed her. He would have, should his stroke had been higher, and Hinata just a second unluckier. Someone was going to lose today, and Shino would make sure it would be Neji.

The Hyūga stared back at Shino. "You're going to glare at me all day, Aburame, or will you face your fate and lose here?"

"Words mean nothing. Do not think you can intimidate me, Hyūga-san. It is not in my 'fate' to lose here today to you."

Neji chuckled mockingly. "You think that, don't you? But I seen how you fight. Don't think you can trick me into falling into one of your traps. You're a smart guy, aren't you? You should know the Byakugan sees all."

"We shall see about that. Prepare yourself." Shino already started generating some of his insects in his body. They came to the sleeves of his jacket, ready to strike.

Neji smirked, activated his dōjutsu, the Byakugan, and applied his Jūken stance. Immediately, Neji was on the defense, as a cloud of darkness flew towards him. Applying an amount of chakra to his two-fingers, Neji shot out two invisible "spikes" of chakra towards the cloud of bugs, and went towards the left. Shino could not see it, only hearing the sound of the attack slapping against his insects. The chakra spikes hit a good chunk of the flying offenders, and dispersed the rest. Four miniature groups of bugs flew towards his direction. Neji shot another needle, and another needle out his index and ring fingers. The technique doing wonders against the bugs and eliminating them.

However, Shino did not wait for Neji to kill all of his insects off. Shino had already done the necessary hand seals for his Earth Release technique. Neji had seen the technique before, and moved out of the way of Shino's Doton: Ibara technique, a barrage of kunai covering his retreat. The technique Shino used to incapacitate the puppeteer from Suna was something he did not want to be caught by. If Neji gotten hit by that, Kaiten could not help him in the situation. Shino had seen the technique Neji used in his last fight against Sasuke Uchiha, and learn some thing about it over the course of the hour.

On the other side of the field, Shino scanned Neji running away from him impassively as he sent out two large clusters of his insects to pursue his opponent, as he reviewed the abilities of Neji Hyūga. Shino's stationary fighting style would come in handy in this battle, as all Neji displayed in this tournament was an over-reliance on close-range abilities. Before the hour break finished, Shino had found, met up, and conversed with Hinata Hyūga about some of the techniques of the Hyūga Clan. He figured he could use the time wisely and gather information about it, instead of simply waiting for the hour to finish.

Hinata had been very helpful with what he asked about the technique Neji used on Sasuke Uchiha. "The Hakkeshō Kaiten is a technique that our clan uses to protect ourselves from all forms of attack. When spinning, the Hyūga user releases all chakra from every tenketsu of their body. We can actively control the size and power of that chakra."

"Intriguing. Can you use this 'Kaiten' as well?"

The question prompted the girl to look down in some shame. "No one has taught me how to use the Kaiten yet. However," Her expression turned from shame to confusion. "I wonder why Neji-nisan knows it. It's a technique only the Main House knows about, and Neji-nisan is a… Branch House member..."

Shino hummed, though he wasn't truly interested in why Neji knew the technique. "So. The only way theKaiten is useful is if he can spin?"

"Yes." Hinata nodded. "Stop him from being able to spin, and the technique cannot protect him."

As the train of thoughts finished in the brown-haired Aburame's head, Neji then turned and started running towards him. Shino shot a burst of his insects to distract Neji once again, while he retreated to a safer distance. He knew he would not last a second if he decided to stay in Neji's face and combat him in close-quarter combat. Taijutsu wasn't Shino's strongest suit – something he had been working on remedying this month with his father and Kurenai-senei, but it hadn't made him the taijutsu master Neji was. Not even close.

Sounds almost equatable to a gunshot rang out in the air, and he knew Neji had once again dealt with his bugs.

As Neji raced toward his opponent, and gave out a pulsating chakra attack, he saw the move pierce through the body of Shino. Only for said "body" to dissolve and become nothing but clones. Neji was getting quite annoyed with these clone techniques, and his inability to see through the ruses. Shino's variation of the Bunshin no Jutsu was quite dangerous. While Sasuke's clone made of lightning-nature chakra was dangerous, and Naruto Uzumaki's abuse of his shadow clones were also something to be wary of, Shino's clone looked like him, felt like him, and was created out of nothing but bugs.

These bugs then pursued him, buzzing together in the air, as he retreated yet again for the umpteenth time. Neji would get no such breather however as he backed up, and more things came to him. Rising out of the ground, Neji saw three more of Shino's clones come forth and rush towards him. This clone technique stuff was really grating on his nerves. 'Perhaps I should learn some bunshinjutsu, seeing as everyone likes to use it so damn much.'

Nevertheless, Neji was still very much faster than Shino, and he still could defend himself. If anything got any closer to him, Neji could always count on using Kaiten to get them off. Physically touching any of the clones without any sort of chakra involved was suicide. Neji hated to admit it, but Shino was a good hard counter against his fighting style. While Neji concentrated on out-speeding his opponents and using taijutsu to shut them down, Shino could very easily stay far away, turn his bugs into clones of him (somehow fooling the Byakugan), and if dispersed, the bugs could still attack him until he killed them. Shino didn't have unlimited bugs, Neji knew, but he had to have so many in order to use this many attacks at once. He didn't even look like he was tiring either.

And he was very sure the real Shino Aburame wasn't even on the battlefield. He was hiding somewhere… Perhaps underground. If so, looking for Shino would take so long, it wasn't even funny.

But Neji didn't have to wait long, as he felt his legs grabbed by two hands. Then with a heave, he was pulled underground as a human-sized hole appeared. To his side, he could see a single Shino appear, and then sealed up the hole Neji was placed in with a single palm to the earth. Neji was buried up to his neck; his head being the only thing topside. His body underground started to feel weak and faint. Moving with his arms, legs and body was starting to become difficult as bugs started to crawl all over him. He growled in frustration as the lone Shino approached him; a kunai in his hand. Shino crouched and placed it towards his neck.


Neji scoffed. "Why should I do that?"

"You're completely finished. I have disabled you; you cannot go further." Shino declared. Neji snorted. The guy must have thought he truly had won.

Nevertheless, Neji couldn't help but feel curious. "How did you find me all these times? Are you a sensor of some sort."

"No. I was able to find you because I had you tagged the entire time with an insect that helped me find you. I simply kept underground, and hid until I had my chance to strike." Shino briefly explained to the older teen under him.

Shino had only explained to the boy because he figured Neji was finished and the proctor was about to call the match. An ability Shino had picked up over the month was the ability to travel underground – the technique being called Doton: Moguragakure no Jutsu. Like the name implied, he was able to travel underground much like a mole, and used the ability to track his opponent, and keeping himself hidden, so as long as Neji didn't have any clue.

Covering himself with clones done just the trick for Shino, enabling him to sneak up on Neji. Shino easily tracked Neji unseen by two ways. One way was by his underground burrowing technique. The technique detected magnetic forces, allowing him to find where Neji was. However, the most effective he found Neji was by Shino's own insects' help. As Neji fought several of Shino's insect clones born from his Mushi Bunshin no Jutsu, his other insects inside of him were able to track him from a distance.

From the beginning of the tournament, Shino had placed an insect on each of his opponents, even those who had been eliminated before, and continued to do so over the course of the tournament, even if the planted insect was killed. It was quite easy to do, really. His insects made little to no noises, and planting them in certain places (because of the insect's ability to plant them down with chakra and not move for hours) where the target wouldn't check so easily was simple to do.

The planted insect was a special kind who – because of its female gender – emitted a scent his male insects in his colony of insects could track. He had quite a large amount of females, but his female to male ratio in his colony were dwindling. Almost all of the combatants in the Chūnin Exams had their insects destroyed or taken off. Sasuke Uchiha, Rock Lee, Sabaku no Gaara, Neji, and Naruto Uzumaki – Shino's teammate – due to an emission of chakra from them, had destroyed the female insects on them, while the puppeteer Kankurō, the wind release user Temari, and Shino's fellow villagers Sakura Haruno and Shikamara Nara, still had their insects on them.

Shino kept pushing through the underground, turning the hardened dirt into fine sand he dug easily through – a side effect of the Doton: Moguragakure no Jutsu. He was coming to enjoy his earth affinity, and the techniques he had picked up during the month. He had been actively trying his best to learn more techniques, and besides working on his taijutsu, and learning an Aburame Clan technique, he had worked extensively on increasing his earth release ninjutsu.

And now it was paying off.

Neji glared up at him defiantly, while Shino gripped his kunai to his neck. "Surrender." Shino repeated.

"You know, you were a strong opponent indeed. Strong, but quite foolish. Let me explain something to you."

"And that might be?"

"It's not my fate to lose. It never was." Shino looked somewhat confused, until he felt a sharp amount of chakra lance in three places on his body: his hand holding the kunai, one of his legs, and then his chest, catching him somewhere there he did not know.

It gave Neji enough time to disperse into smoke and then Shino saw one of his clones that he kept nearby was in the same spot Neji once had been inside. It was a sign of the Kawarimi no Jutsu, something that confused Shino. 'He can… use the Kawarimi without the use of hand seals?'

"Kaiten!" Shino heard the cry behind him, but was too disorientated to do anything about it. The Aburame and the remaining insect clone behind him flew away. After the clone hit the ground, it dispersed into insects that retreated back to their master.

As Shino fought to get back to his feet, and barely succeeding, Neji had already met him there with a double-handed palm strike.

"Two palms!" Neji yelled in fury as he shot Shino in his chest again with chakra. "Four palms! Eight palms!" Neji had already started wreaking havoc inside his body; organs being attacked mercilessly, and Shino started to feel himself getting weaker and weaker. He shook violently, yelling in pain as chakra pushed itself in his body. The only way he was standing now was because Neji was attacking Shino at a such a rapid speed, that it was impossible to do anything else.

"Sixteen palms! Thirty-two palms!" The last barrage of attacks sent Shino flying down to the ground once again. "Hakke Sanjūni Shō!"

Shino gritted his teeth in pain and frustration, aimed at not only Neji, but himself. How could he have let this have happened. He had made a huge mistake, counting on Neji's over-reliance on his clan techniques that he wouldn't do anything else but just fight like that. He did not count on Neji's ability to use a simple E-rank technique without even using hand seals like that.

He felt too weak to command his insects. He could see Neji walk up to him in a shaky haze. He knew he had lost this one.

"Let me explain something to you, Aburame." Even in the haze, it looked like Neji was smirking. "You see, a lot of people confuse us Hyūga for being able to only to release chakra from the tenketsu in our hands because the name of our fighting style is called the 'Jūken'. That is a bit of a misnomer. While we can release chakra from our hands, and it is arguably the easiest form of release, we can do more than simply our hands. In fact, there are more tenketsu in our feet that of our hands alone. But that's not how I escaped. Oh no. I escaped because you left an opening for me by gloating on how you won. Not only that, but you should have just placed me entirely underground, and not let my face open for the world to see. There are tenketsu there too..."

In the few seconds they had been talking, the chakra in Neji's face (his cheeks to be exact) had already gathered up, and he released it in three small needle-shaped bursts. Shino didn't even see it coming at all because the "needles" were invisible – regular chakra being so as well. Then as he substituted with a clone Shino so foolishly placed nearby him, and released all chakra from his body, effective repelling any bug on him, or anything near him.

The rest was clockwork really. "I told you, Aburame. It was not my fate to lose here to you. I already defeated Hinata-sama, and now you."

Shino wheezed under him. "Perhaps... But you will not win again."

"Oh? Am I to lose against Uzumaki? I admit, he had me quite surprised when he defeated Gaara and Lee, but he shouldn't think that really that matters to me. I defeat Lee all the time in our battles." Neji looked over to the approaching referee coolly. "Proctor, call the match."

Genma snorted in some amusement. Despite how obnoxious the kid's behavior was, he was definitely an intelligent combatant. His skill with his clan's abilities were astounding, and so was his great chakra control. In his opinion, Neji would probably become a chūnin by the end of this. "Winner: Neji Hyūga!"

In the stands, Ino was growling loudly in anger. "That bastard won again!" The crowd didn't seem to share her displeasure as they cheered quite loudly behind her.

"I told you he would." Tenten smirked, pleased that one of Team Gai's own was going on to the finals. "Shino is definitely strong, but he's still a freshly new genin, of course. We have had a year's experience over your graduating class, remember?"

Sakura glared at Tenten, wanting nothing for her to stop trying to deliberately piss off Ino. "Tenten..."

"What? It's the truth."

Besides Ino glaring at the brunette kunoichi, Kiba was also getting annoyed by Tenten as well. 'What is he, your boyfriend? Stop the dick-riding, Tenten.'

Hinata wanted to shrink into her seat, feeling quiet uncomfortable with all of this. Tenten had been doing this quite a bit over the course of the matches (yet had been strangely quiet when Lee lost his match against Naruto). She supposed she understood how Tenten was feeling. She was quite proud that Naruto-kun and Shino-kun had made it so far in the exams, even though Shino lost to her estranged cousin Neji in the match. However, Tenten was coming off as obnoxious if anything.

Tenten leaned back in her chair, a smile on her face. "Lighten up, guys. I'm just happy one of Team Gai's own is in the grand finals. Hell, Lee made it to the final four too, despite him losing. You should be happy Team Kurenai was in the grand finals too, Hinata-chan."

"I bet she is, but she isn't gloating over there like you are." Ino cattily responded to Tenten, before Hinata could say anything. "You act like you're in grand finals yourself."

Tenten chuckled, raising her hands up in defeat. "Alright, alright. Sorry. I'll stop being annoying now."

It was something all three of Tenten's friends were happy about.

Meanwhile in the stands with a group of jōnin in the stands, Gai looked pleased himself. "Ah, and now we enter Grand Finals territory! What a youthful day it has been! I must say all matches today were enjoyable to watch."

"Indeed," The red-eyed woman next to the boisterous Gai smiled. "But now it's up to your student and mine."

"Oh yes it is." Gai smirked. "I think, no matter who wins, I will also enjoy that match."

"I noticed you didn't say Neji will win. You're having second regrets, huh?"

"To be fair, you stated before Shino would win." Kakashi interjected, still looking down at his dirty book, Icha Icha.

"I said Shino has the best chance against Naruto." Kurenai corrected, chuckling.

"That doesn't mean you're not going to owe me at least 20,000 ryō, Kurenai."

"Hmph, perhaps. However, I'm now betting Neji is going to lose to Naruto."

Asuma grinned. "Agreed."

"Hmph. That Naruto guy's totally going to kick Neji's ass, Gai." Zabuza chided.

Gai only grinned. "If anything, I am sure Naruto's going to have a hard time with Neji. Neji has already proven himself a crafty shinobi, and worthy of the title of chūnin. I do hope Naruto doesn't think he can turn his back on Neji for a second."

Naruto couldn't believe it, but history was going to repeat itself here again. Naruto vs Neji, part two. He honestly thought Shino was going to win when he got Neji again in that technique he caught Kankurō with, and he was going to see his teammate in the grand finals of this tournament, but much to his surprise, Neji managed to pull it off. Hell, he was genuinely shocked – no pun intended – when Neji managed to escape Sasuke when Neji gotten himself electrocuted by Sasuke's lightning release nature shadow clone – something he noted down about Sasuke in case he had to worry about that in the near future. However, Neji pulled a surprising mastery of Kawarimi no Jutsu out of his ass in the match, and again, against Shino. It was small, but it was definitely a good show of talent.

But he was not going to lose to Neji here. Oh no, he was going to show him up, and knock it out of his head that "fate" didn't exist in this world. Hell, Naruto was a testament of such.

Again, the proctor had given them another break, although it was a shorter 15-minute break compared to the hour-long break they had gotten when they entered the final four matches. Naruto had felt himself return back to normal, finding his chakra levels to be just fine, and his former slight exhaustion. Yet he could not help but feel some sort of apprehension.

After he won against Neji, and won the Chūnin Exams, what was going to happen next? Would the Invasion take place? Would it at all since Gaara and his siblings had been taken out? Gaara was Suna and Oto's trump card in all of this, yet he was sure Orochimaru would still have the testicular fortitude to try and still attack, because that's how Orochimaru was. He was arrogant as all hell. Yet, the Snake Sage had been not exactly all talk and no action. He killed Sarutobi-jiji in Naruto's original timeline, so that spoke miles.

However, Orochimaru would not get to kill the Sandaime Hokage here. Not while Jiraiya, and his own clone Arashi, was there to help it. He would not leave here alive.

For now, however, Naruto was facing his last opponent in the exams with a big, stupid grin people had equated him to. The match had been already announced, they had a stare-down for a good few moments. Neji, on the other side of the field, stood tall and stoic, his face much like stone itself.

Naruto begun speaking. "So, it came down to this, eh? I thought so."

"I didn't. I was sure your little win streak would end with Gaara."

"Eh, nah. Gaara isn't as intimidating as everyone believes."

"I must admit, you have surprised me today, Uzumaki. You're stronger than what I gave you credit for..." Neji then smirked, placing himself in his fighting stance. "But you're still not winning against me."

Naruto smirked as well. "We'll see, Neji. You beat Shino, but let's see you try me."

"Hmph." Then the brown-haired genius became a blur, and appeared in Naruto's face, already sending a strike. His eyes were equipped with the Byakugan. Naruto met it with a swat of his hand, and tried sending a leg towards Neji's legs, to which the Hyūga slapped down, immediately pushing chakra into his target, only to find his opponent had switched with a clone (or had never been there in the first place), and his face was bombarded with smoke.

Neji stayed on his guard, the veins in his eyes bulging, trying to see through the smoke. No one was on any of his sides, and Neji had a hunch on where Naruto had been, so he prepared his chakra. His instinct were correct, as he felt himself being grabbed by his legs – a maneuver Naruto's teammate, Shino, pulled off in their last game. Neji never so much relied on his Kawirimi so much in his life – a log taking his place instead.

Naruto seemed to take it in good stride, almost expecting him to do so, because a clone was already summoned at his right, trying to slam his fist into his body. Unlike Sasuke or Shino, Naruto had the guts to try and fight Neji in close-quarters, which was not as bad and foolish as he once thought, because of Naruto's gross usage of shadow clones. He already started to disdain clone techniques at this point.

Neji dodged a punch from the back of his head, and another aimed at his face, letting the clones foolishly attack each other, exploding into white smoke. Neji sped away from the smoke, being followed out by three other clones who came out of the smoke itself. The real Naruto was not here, and Neji had believed Naruto had the same ability to hide underground, much like Shino. It would not surprise him.

The clones then surrounded him, and from them, a barrage of metal weaponry came flying towards him. Neji growled, and jumped before they could hit him, not trying to be forced to use his Kaiten and waste anymore chakra. Byakugan helping him, Neji dodged a kick from another Naruto from the air. Whether or not this was the real Naruto, Neji did not know, which annoyed him, and what was worse was Naruto had no problem using these many clones. Unlike Shino and Sasuke, he could not defeat Naruto by sheer outlasting him, so he had to find the real Naruto and quick.

Neji was fighting blind, and he didn't like it one bit.

Neji landed on the ground but did not stop, as more and more clones came for him, racing towards him in all different angles. He could see in back of him the Narutos chasing him were doing the familiar hand seal of the Kage Bunshin no Jutsu and was creating more clones. 'His clones can make clones. Fuck this.'

"Are all you going to do is throw clones as me, Naruto?" Neji mocked, his face sweating with exertion, as all the clones summoned there were surrounding him. "I thought you were better than that."

"Why would I do anything more though?" One Naruto rang out in the crowd.

"Yeah! It's not like you can do shit!"

"You can't find the real me, Neji!"

"Why don't you give up?"

Neji smirked. "I'm not the giving-up type, Uzumaki. I'm not going down without the fight." Neji however inside was panicking. He was starting to realize how badly matched up was he against his opponent. The annoying blond teen had Neji right where he wanted him. He needed some sort of luck right here to help him out.

Naruto, on the other hand, was quite disappointed with Neji's performance against him. Then again, Neji at this point of his life hadn't quite learned the more advanced forms of his clan's techniques, and Naruto had a plethora of techniques at his disposal. "So, I guess I was right about something."

"About what?"

"About 'fate' and how it doesn't exist. Our futures are not set in stone, Ne-" The Uzumaki was interrupted by a plume of sand flying towards his way, and flinging him away. Neji's eyes widened, and he saw to his side a monstrous being.

A human-sized beast looked at him coldly with gold eyes and a menacing smile. A sand beast looking almost like a… tanuki… stared at him; black markings patterning his entire body. Neji felt weakened as a wave of unreal killer intent swept over his senses, making him tremble. 'S-So much chakra. What is this thing?' Then he could remember back to the only person he seen use sand in this whole tournament. Gaara! Wasn't he disqualif-

Neji never finished that train of thought before a blast of sand was sent out to him. Neji dodged the first blast, but another came and the bullet of sand knocked the wind out of him, sending him far away. He hit the ground hard, disorientated by it all. Neji watched slowly in stark fear as a wave of sand floated over him. It almost got him too, if it wasn't for someone's interference, as a person came in and retrieved him.

Neji got back to his feet by being yanked up by two clones of his former opponent. One of the Narutos glared at him, but they weren't talking to him. "Move, dammit! He wants me! Get Neji the fuck out of here!"

Then an explosion was heard from the top of the stadium, and Neji knew things were going to be much complicated.


A/N: Fucking finally! I finished this shit, man. After forcing my damn self to finally focus and finishing this, I fucking did it! I'm fucking finally done with the Chūnin Exams, the hardest fucking part of this story by far. Thinking of shit for this story was freaking challenging, and trying to make the fights entertaining was one of the hardest things I ever had to do for a fic in my years of being on this site. Shit, glad its done.

Now I'll be running a poll. The poll question will be: should I make a remake of this story? I been fighting between just going back and editing older chapters, or restarting and just add in some newer content (slash delete any crap I disliked from here). If I do end up making a remake, be warned this story will end soon. A lot of this was written in 2011, and I feel my writing has significantly improved over time. I'll let the people decide.

Now, the ending of this story. I decided against a simple one-sided beat down from Naruto to Neji because, let's be honest, Neji's worse match up in the tournament was quite possibly from Naruto from the get-go. In canon alone, Naruto beat Neji with just the Shadow Clone Technique, and knowing how to tap into the Kyūbi's chakra. If that Naruto knew more techniques and abilities much like this one present in this story, Neji wouldn't stand a chance. The Byakugan can't see through the Shadow Clone Technique at all, or tell the difference between the real one or the clones, and Naruto knows this. So Neji is kind of boned, especially since the Naruto I portrayed abuses the fuck out of the technique, and why wouldn't he? I would do the same if I knew my opponent couldn't do anything against me. Ninjas fight dirty.

I hoped I did justice to Neji throughout the tournament however, and made him one of the strongest genin. The technique with releasing chakra from his face was new, and I never seen anyone do it. I got the idea from not only reading up on tenketsu/chakra nodes from Naruto but also from "The Empty Cage" by Rathanel. A mighty good read, it is. I implore you to read it if you're interested in a what-if story if the Kyūbi occupied Naruto's body without Naruto actually being alive. You might find some good things about it. Bear in mind though that the story was written in 2011, so many of things it states may be debatable, and don't read it if you're expecting a "super powerful Naruto" story.

But yeah, back to what I was explaining. So in "The Empty Cage", the author brought up a good point: the Hyūga Clan is taught to release chakra as a fighting style called the Gentle Fist (Jūken), using that chakra to inject into a target forcefully. A Hyūga's Byakugan helps sees the target's tenketsu/chakra nodes in their body, helping a Hyūga disrupt or increase a target's chakra flow. To do this, a Hyūga releases chakra from their own tenketsu, which are spread throughout the body at 361 points. Tenketsu also isn't limited in one person's hands as well as the series has portrayed mostly – it's in many places on the body. I looked up the body mapping of the tenketsu, and to my surprise, I saw some nodes in a person's face and head. Lo and behold, Neji had the ability to release chakra from his face, driving home the point that Neji is quite the prodigy. I quite like the idea, and it has given me different and new ideas for this ability for not only Neji but for any Hyūga in the near future.

In other news, we have Naruto and the "Kyūbi situation". Naruto has revealed that he still has the chakra of the Kyūbi, but it seems there is no nine-tailed beast as of now. Why? Because of prior extraction before has took the Kyūbi and most of its essence. Naruto, however, was left with a small portion of Kyūbi's chakra in him. The reasoning behind that will be soon answered.

To be honest, my former intention was to have Naruto's seal eventually absorb the Kyūbi and its chakra, but I decided against it, after not finding a good enough reason to do so. Then the story line I had changed. I planned to have Naruto getting captured by the Akatsuki, and his demonic chakra extracted; Kakashi and Tsunade (yes, them) would have used a combination of the Dead Demon Consuming Seal and a newer seal designed by them onto Naruto, reseal a portion of the chakra from the Kyūbi back into Naruto (therefore signifying their deaths), and Naruto gains a whole slew of new abilities but I decided that was stupid and too complex.

So I decided Naruto had his inner demon's chakra mostly extracted and he survived by a small amount of Kyūbi's chakra inside of him.

However, the question is now is what does that mean for that "creature" from before then?

We will have to see.

I hope I also did some justice to Shino and Lee as well. If Lee could be able to use his Eight Gates more dangerous taijutsu moves, I would have added it in, but I believe Gai has said more than once (like Kakashi had said to Sasuke) that moves that could kill should not be used against allies in a tournament setting, or in spars, or at any time. So, Lee could not use that against Naruto. Lee was kind of gimped that way. In all honesty, because of Lee's inability to use ninjutsu or genjutsu had damned him.

As for Shino, I think he did quite well. I haven't read many stories where Shino fought actually in the exams, much less use anything outside clan techniques, but I quite enjoyed how I wrote him off, and his development of earth release ninjutsu. Adding the ability for Shino to dig underground while tracking his opponents is going to be great in the future. Pity he got one-upped.

Overall, I am satisfied with the exams. Up next: we have the invasion of Konohagakure once again. One more chapter of a great amount of battles to do, and then I can relax with them for a while. Geez, writing so many fighting scenes are tiring. After that, we're going off tangent of canon for quite a bit.

Translation List:

Doton: Moguragakure no Jutsu – Earth Release: Hiding Like A Mole Technique

Hakke Sanjūni Shō – Eight Trigrams Thirty-Two Palms

Kaimon – Gate Of Opening

Kyūmon – Gate Of Healing

Mushi Bunshin no Jutsu – Insect Clone Technique

Seimon – Gate Of Life

Shōmon – Gate Of Pain