Hey all, I'm back and faster than usual. Hope you all enjoy it as a lot's going on again! Feel free to point out any errors, and I'll do my best to fix them.
Sakura had just been coming back from a run to get some water at a nearby stream when the group of Sound Genin had shown up. She'd initially sensed the chakra of two of them, but then heard the footsteps of a third member to the group. She realized she was terribly outnumbered, but with both Naruto and Sasuki unconscious there wasn't much she could do in the category of conflict avoidance.
She took action the second she saw movement in the bushes. Eight kunai, one in between each pair of fingers and each with an augmented explosive seal that she'd…acquired…during her initial search of Naruto while treating him before the Kyuubi's chakra had kicked in and taken care of the rest. They didn't look much different than normal explosive tags, so hopefully they wouldn't work too much differently either.
Of course, she was once again reminded of just how awesome it was to have a burgeoning seal master on her team when instead of the traditional explosions, bursts of pure wind chakra literally blew the approaching team out of the trees and brought them crashing down into the clearing Sakura had set her two team mates down in. "Note to self: have Naruto make more of these."
"Yeah, offer him a date to Ichiraku in return! Cha!"
Sakura would have blushed and argued with that statement if there hadn't been a fight to attend to. As it stood, there were three Oto Ninja picking themselves up off the ground with rather mean expressions on their faces. "Well, our mission outline during this stage of the exams was to just focus on the Uchiha, but I think Orochimaru-sama can deal with another casualty," the one with the bandages covering most of his face save for his right eye.
"Wait a second…" Sakura thought. "Why would Orochimaru want Sasuki dead? He just popped up and started ranting about how he could give her all the power in the world. You sure he's not just playing you? You do seem rather gullible what with that whole mummy look, which I'm assuming you're doing since someone told you it would look cool. I mean, the only guy I know that's capable of pulling that look off is my Sensei, and he's a tad on the weird side as it is."
"…Kick her ass, Zaku."
"With pleasure!" the boy with black spiky hair that also reminded her of Kakashi save for the direction in which the hair was curved replied as he pressed his hands together. Sakura took quick note of the small metal contraptions in his palms. However, when they released a pressurized air blast that forced her to go through a quick Kawarimi with a nearby log she began to wonder how small those devices really were.
"Are those things fused directly into your circulatory system!" Sakura asked in shock, revealing he hiding place in the tree she'd knocked the group out of earlier. "Who did that to you? It's definitely not self-inflicted, and can't possibly be natural! How the hell could you let anyone do that to you!"
"Ah, so you've noticed my modifications? You have good eyes. Yes, Orochimaru-sama likes to ensure that we each have our own…special…abilities to utilize in combat. Dosu here is rather sensitive about the more aesthetic results of his own, so he doesn't much like being teased about it."
Sakura swallowed hard. Her best shot for getting in close to any of them, which she still wasn't sure was a good idea, would be her very small repertoire of Doton Jutsu as the nearest source of water was the stream she'd just come from, and that was about a mile back. She still had a few of Naruto's chakra tags, but wasn't quite sure she knew enough about them to put them to use. From what she'd seen, they differed slightly from jutsu tags, which always had specific techniques sealed in them. These just pumped out raw Fuuton chakra.
But maybe she could make that work for her…well, if she threw caution to the wind and did something drastic. "It works for Naruto, so it'll work for me!" Sakura thought, forming the ram seal and deactivating her chakra and gravity seals. "Better use a little juice up first, just to make sure it's potent."
Zaku, Dosu, and Kin all staggered back a bit when Sakura let loose the remaining ninety percent of her chakra. Here she'd been preaching the horrors of mechanical augmentation to the body in order to become stronger when she was using seals to hold back most of her strength to the point she should very well have been nearly dead. They didn't have time to point out the hypocrisy in her statement as the pinkette instantly released a barrage of fast, powerful, and albeit a little sloppy punches, kicks, knees, elbows and the like. Zaku, the target of the assault, did his best to keep up with the girl. She was pretty good as it stood, after all.
"Still not good enough!" he thought, seeing his opening and palming the girl in the face. Before Sakura even finished the reaction of recoiling and cupping her nose, Zaku cried out "Zankuuha!"
The blast of pressurized air made the technique live up to its name. It didn't actually take her head off, but Sakura sure felt like it had when she went flying back, her skull cracking against the thick wood of a tree trunk. Struggling to stand with her head woozy, Sakura had just the technique in mind to take care of this new arrival, and the perfect plan to set it up. "Time to spam some low-cost jutsu!" she grinned.
She took off charging and occupied herself with dodging smaller versions of Zaku's air blasts as she zig-zagged left to right. Finally she got in close and waited. When Zaku went in for a point-blank attack like he had before, she quickly Kawarimi'd with another log and back into the treetops. From there, her plan of being the most annoying thing to grace the presence of this team went into play. It seemed that every time she revealed herself and they attacked, she'd simply become a log.
Their frustration was evident when this happened around the fiftieth time. Sakura was feeling a little winded, but decided that she could kick it up a notch and change her strategy just a bit. This time when she emerged from the trees she was in the company of a battalion of Bunshin. This threw the Oto Genin off a bit as they adjusted to finding the real her, and even when they did she still replaced herself.
"I've had enough of this!" Zaku screamed at this, crossing his arms in preparation for what Sakura took as a cue to begin her attack. Again she burst forth from the tree line with Bunshin galore, but the key difference this time was that she wasn't really among the clones. "Zankuukyokuha!"
The Bunshin all faded, leaving Zaku even more furious than he had been; furious enough that he didn't notice the hand emerging from the ground and gripping his ankle until it was too late. "Zaku!" Kin cried as the boy was pulled snugly beneath the ground by Sakura's Shinju Zanshu. "Dig yourself out of that while I deal with your friends," Sakura stated bluntly as she charged Dosu, engaging with the boy while dodging Senbon from Kin's location.
Another massive burst of cutting wind blew Zaku to the surface, the boy only receiving minor cuts as the blasts were directed outwards. He blasted at Sakura with new vigor, prompting the pinkette to rush in and slam her hands against his chest, continuing to push until they hit a tree. "My turn!" Sakura screamed.
It was at that specific point in time that Zaku took note of the seal tags covering Sakura's arms. The tags had blasted them with pure wind chakra before, but he didn't think this girl would use herself as the medium to launch the explosion. So what was her plan?
Sakura smirked, letting all the wind chakra from the tags flood into the chakra points in her arms, then pushing it to her hands before the foreign chakra did too much damage. If these seals had just contained normal chakra then the transfer wouldn't have been a problem, but since the chakra in these seals were already "pre-programmed," so to speak, to attack. Sakura was pretty sure they'd wreck her arms. Still, it was worth it when she saw the look on Zaku's face when she screamed out "Zankuuha, bitch!"
Zaku threw his head back and screamed in pain at the force of the attack. The force of the blow cracked the tree, toppling it with Zaku following soon after. "That should knock him out for a few minutes. Now for you two," Sakura said. As she began to turn though, a stinging pain shot threw her arms, followed by a feeling of numbness to which she was not accustomed. She decided to not let the sudden weakness show, opting to charge Dosu and begin a combination of intricate kicks. Why she had ignored Kin during the entire fight she couldn't really say, but she had to admit that she seemed the least threatening of the group. "Meh, let's let Shikamaru fight the girls. He hated sparring Ino, Hinata and I in The Academy. Now won't be much different."
"Ino, I don't see why we have to wait and watch Sakura fight. I don't mind the break, but being this close to the fight is just too…"
"Shut it, Shikamaru. We're waiting because once this fight is over the winner is going to have at least two scrolls and be weak. We'll strike then, and get what we need," Ino cut the lazy genius off with a whispering hiss. Honestly, why did she have to lead this team? Shikamaru called everything troublesome, but in reality he was the one causing her the most trouble.
"And if all they have is what we don't need?" Shikamaru countered.
"You're the genius; you tell me the chances of that."
"One in four."
"Good, so it's better than the daily lottery at the convenience store, and I've won that plenty of times," Ino said with a smirk.
The sudden blast of air pressure that sent all three members of Team Ten flying back suddenly discouraged Ino's hope that she'd be able to get a scroll out of Sakura. "Okay, so maybe my idea isn't the best…but we should still stick around. If Sakura winds up needing help we might be able to group together. With three scrolls, all we'll really need to do is find one more, right?"
Shikamaru just sighed, lying back and trying to find an opening in the canopy so he could look for clouds.
Sakura wasn't in much of a good way right now. Dosu had taken quick note of her nearly useless arms and used them to his advantage. He instantly went for her hair, and had no trouble grabbing at the long strands. Pulling her to the ground and repeatedly punching her in the face didn't seem to require much effort either. With twitching hands Sakura reached for a kunai, a shuriken, anything with a shard edge to cut herself free. That was, until one last good his rocked her consciousness.
A green blur arrived on the field of battle, crashing into Dosu and sending the Oto Nin flying back. The entire right side of Sakura's face felt swollen and numb, and she knew she must have looked terrible. "Are you well enough to stand, Sakura-san?"
Sakura looked up, her eyes registering the very blurry outline of Lee. Between the sharp pain in her arms and the state of her face, she didn't even have to think about shaking her head no. Lee nodded. "Very well then," he said as he proceeded to lift her and carry her over to the tree Naruto and Sasuki were lying under and sitting her up against it gently. Maybe it was the physical exhaustion talking, but Sakura mumbled out a thank you as Lee was turning to go back.
"No need for thanks, Sakura-san. As a fellow Shinobi of Konoha it is my sworn duty to protect you. I shall return shortly, but for now I wish only that you rest."
Sakura nodded, closing her eyes and focusing what little chakra she had left into her arms to begin self-healing. Little by little feeling that wasn't harsh stings began to flood back into her extremities, and she welcomed it with a relaxed sigh. She'd taken it a little too far, it seemed. She almost laughed at herself. She had been one of the people to yell at Naruto for taking things too far. She was really a hypocrite, wasn't she?
For now, she'd just sit back and watch Lee do his thing. From what she could tell, this boy was almost as strong as Naruto. He'd be able to save them if anyone could.
The spandex-clad taijutsu specialist's eyes narrowed in determination as he faced Dosu and Kin. "You have made a grave error in attacking Sakura-san. If she is willing to give her all in a fight against you, than I will not insult her by holding back."
Lee charged, his blinding speed playing a key factor in getting the first punch in on Dosu. However, soon after things seemed to be going a little south as Dosu seemed to be causing massive damage every time he flicked the metal gauntlet of his. Lee wasn't looking too hot, to say the least.
"It is time…that I ended this," Lee said shakily. He moved fast, kicking Zaku up into the air and jumping after him. "Kaimon, Omoto Renge!" Bandages wrapped firmly around Dosu, temporarily exposing the rather gnarly state of Lee's knuckles from the amount he'd used. This wasn't a subject Dosu touched on, whether it be because of his own deformities or his own disorientation due to the rapid rotation he was currently experiencing.
Zaku, now slightly more conscious from his escapades with the pinkette, sent a disruption along the ground, attempting to soften the impact as best he could. "You owe me one," Zaku mumbled, rolling over onto his back and taking a deep breath. He was out of chakra, and because of that he felt like his best option was to take a nap until the fight was over. He'd done his part.
Kin stepped over to Zaku, shaking her head in frustration. Had he totally forgotten about the soldier pills that Orochimaru had given them? Honestly, it was like the boy was just looking for a way to not do anything. She took one of the small purple balls out of her equipment pouch and slipped it in between Zaku's lips. The boy chewed and swallowed, but what happened next freaked Kin out on a level she compared to first meeting Orochimaru.
The boy's entire body began to convulse, dark purple chakra wafting off of his body. "Uraaaaaaa!" he cried. Kin tried to steady him, but Zaku 's convulsions were so strong they knocked her away. Dosu smirked at this, pulling himself up out of the ditch Lee had made for him.
"Hm…good idea, Zaku. Orochimaru-sama's special combat medicine would be perfect for this situation," Dosu said as he popped one of the pills into his own mouth. He soon began to exhibit the same symptoms as Zaku, sending Kin and Lee staggering back in fear. The chakra coming off the two was so malicious that they were surprised they hadn't lost their sanity from it yet. Oh wait. They had.
Zaku and Dosu both charged Lee, the boy firing up the second gate out of pure reflex as he fled. "Raaaa!" Dosu cried, delivering a solid punch to Lee's face, which was blocked. The opening was abused by Zaku, who launched a violet-tinted Zankuuha at Lee's torso and sent the boy flying back, coughing up blood.
The feral cries of the two as well as their continuous assault on Lee left the Beautiful Green Beast of Konoha little more than a writhing puddle on the ground. Sakura's fear steadily growing, she mentally cried out for Naruto, Sasuki, anybody to intervene.
The sudden explosion of demonic chakra ironically sent a shockwave of relief through the pinkette. "Naruto!"
The raven blur encompassed in red that followed Sakura's mental cry threw her. Naruto was typically orange, wasn't he?
Sasuki's fist collided with Dosu's face, tearing his bandages and revealing scarred tissue riddled with small metallic bits. Sakura cringed, but still couldn't shake the contrast in Sasuki's aura.
"Whoruno…" the girl asked. The pinkette felt relief that Sasuki was still coherent enough to speak, though her voice contained same feral undertone in her voice as a Kyuubi-influenced Naruto. "These guys do this to you?"
Sakura nodded weakly, still wondering just what it was that was happening. Sasuki turned and grinned at Dosu and Zaku, their insane state seeming to make them immune to the immense amount of killing intent present in the air.
"Wanna dance, boys?" she asked, turning to face Zaku and Dosu. How was Sasuki utilizing the Kyuubi's chakra? Did it have to do with those odd, swirled black marks originating from her neck? Did Orochimaru do that to her? Then how was she using demonic chakra instead of The Snake's like the Zaku and Dosu?
The following massacre made the two ninja that had taken down Lee look like Genin fresh out of the Academy. Wait…weren't most of the Konoha participants in this exam still technically considered fresh out of the academy? Meh, semantics. The point was, Sasuki was literally clawing Zaku and Dosu's faces off.
After effectively knocking out the two of them, the Kyuubi's chakra seemed to recede, an action mimicked by the swirl mark around Sasuki's neck, face, and probably the rest of her body. Sakura felt well enough to crawl over, and noticed that in the spot where Orochimaru had bit the girl there was a decently sized black mark consisting of nine of the smaller versions of the swirl marks that had covered her body. If Sakura didn't know better, she'd say that they almost looked like tails.
"You okay, Sakura?" Sasuki asked, helping her up. The pinkette nodded.
"You went on a bit of a rampage back there. Are you…feeling alright?" Sakura asked.
Sasuki nodded, thinking back to just how odd her dreams had been before waking up.
She'd woken up as an eleven-year-old girl on her way back to her clan compound. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew which night it was, but just couldn't bring herself to break away and run. Her mind was murky, almost like she was asleep. She probably still was, but that knowledge was of little consolation as she began walking past the bodies of the several clan members that riddled the streets.
It was when she flung the doors open to her parent's room, suddenly noticing that she was running, that the horror finally struck her consciousness. Itachi stood there, an insane smirk on his face. It was so out of character that if she were fully conscious she wouldn't have been afraid, but as it was she was petrified.
Itachi's ninjato cut through her father and mother's necks like butter, and his final words to her began echoing throughout her mind.
"If you wish to kill me, then hate me and curse my name. Your hatred will make you stronger and stronger. But to hate me, you must run. Run and cling to life like the little insect you are."
Then things got trippy. Like those civilians who got addicted to special Genjutsu trippy. The world turned to nothing but swirls of purple and black. Itachi stood behind the headless corpses of her parents. "You do want power, don't you?" Itachi asked in a voice that wasn't his own. The rogue Uchiha brought his hand up to his face and peeled away a portion of the skin to reveal a yellow eye with a slit pupil.
Sasuki whirled around to see Naruto leaning against the wall with a cold expression on his face. She was shocked that he was here, but for some reason his presence calmed her down. Had she bothered to check, she'd realized that she was suddenly in the form of her current self, rather than how she was during the massacre.
"What are you doing here, boy?" Itachi asked with spite in his voice. Naruto only smirked and brought up his left hand. With nothing but a snap, the world around the three shifted from the blood-stained Uchiha Compound to a sewer. Naruto's back was now against the bar of a large cage, with giant eyes staring eagerly at Itachi, who had now taken on a completely different physique.
"Laying claim to what's mine, Hebi-teme." Sasuki took a step back. This man was Orochimaru? Just what was going on? "You see, Sasuki-chan already has a mark on her, and that little hickey you gave her is a really poor imitation of one. Kurama and I were talking, and we'd figure we might as well highjack it and take advantage of a few benefits."
"What are you saying, boy!" Orochimaru shouted, "No one has ever resisted my mark before, and I'll be damned if I let you be the one to be the first!"
Orochimaru charged at Naruto with several snakes backing him up. Naruto only smirked, inclining his head as he pulled his hitai-ate down a bit. "Get 'im Ku."
Two gigantic red eyes with slit pupils opened up, and a monstrous roar sent a force so large from out of the cage that Orochimaru's assault was instantly halted. Naruto held a hand out to his side, his fingers fully flexed out as one of the bars disappeared from the cage and a humongous fox tail erupted, wrapping around the snake and pulling him inside. The bar was quickly replaced and the inhuman scream that Orochimaru exuded followed quickly.
Sasuki stood in awe of Naruto. He hadn't even attacked, but she got the feeling that he'd been in control of the battle. "What was that?"
"That's what happens to people who try to take away the ones I hold dear, Sasuki-chan."
"W-why are you calling me that? It's embarrassing."
Naruto grinned. "What? Still forgetting everything? Geez, and after all the trouble I went through establishing a mental link. I'm still unconscious, y'know. Fine, I guess I'll have to jog your memory a bit."
Another snap of Naruto's fingers triggered a massive flood of images all around the two. Every childhood spar from when they were young, how he'd treated her the day after the massacre, the Yondaime Festival where they'd battled in the ring and watched fireworks, her standing up for him against Sakura and Ino, their first kiss at the team assignments, and then again shortly afterwards, their bell test and D-rank missions, and everything that had happened between them in Wave.
Sasuki's eyes went wide at the sudden burst of memory that struck her. Even times when Naruto wasn't around came flooding back. She smiled wide, looking at Naruto in a way she hadn't since before the fight with Zabuza. Naruto returned the glance, deciding that it was time to explain how his augmentations to the curse mark would work.
"Alright, let me give you the rundown. This is Kurama, Ku for short. He's the Kyuubi. No time for stories about names, but the basics are that Hebi-teme tried to give you this thing called the curse mark. It's a type of Juinjutsu meant to erode the mind and make the body more fit for him to inhabit, which is why he looked a little different when we fought him."
Sasuki nodded in response to Naruto's silence, meaning she understood what he meant.
"Right, so I was like 'screw that, I already marked her.' Then Ku and I got to talking and he told me that I could probably kick him out and we could alter the seal a little bit. Right now I'm making it so that instead of Orochimaru being in charge and infecting you with his chakra I can put the chakra that I gave you when we marked each other in there and let it grow. Chances are that you'll have access to a bit of demonic chakra. It won't be enough to hurt you permanently, but it will cause damage when you use it. When you wake up, you'll probably get a little wild until you're accustomed enough to it to pull it back in."
"So does this make me a Jinchuuriki like you or something?" Sasuki asked. Naruto laughed and shook his head.
"Nah, I don't think you'll have enough to get the full perks like quick healing. At least, not when the seal is inactive. I think that the most the seal will contain is a tail or so of Ku's chakra, and it will regenerate over time in between uses. So while you don't have to worry about running out, I also don't want you going too crazy. Got it?"
Sasuki nodded. "Sounds like fun."
"Alright, cool. I'm going to be out for a bit longer, so I need you to go check on Sakura. Think you're up for it?"
"Of course," the Uchiha replied with an arrogant smirk. "She's probably getting her butt kicked by Kiba or something."
"Hey," Naruto countered, "she still has those suicidal chakra and gravity seals on her. She's more than a match for anyone. I'm just worried she's getting ganged up on."
"Alright, alright. I'll go save her butt."
Naruto grinned. "Good girl," he said. He walked in close to her, giving her a soft kiss on the lips. "See you in a few minutes."
She'd woken up to a surge of power after that. In all honesty if she hadn't been dreaming, she would have freaked out a lot more when Naruto had told her about the Kyuubi – Ku's – chakra. Everything seemed to have worked out though, and she trusted Naruto so she wasn't really worried. Now she and Sakura were sitting around a hastily made campfire as the sun was setting and they were in the colder months. They were careful not to burn anything alive or wet, as that would cause too much smoke and give away their position. Lee's team had come to pick up the taijutsu specialist about a half an hour ago, and that was when the Oto Genin had retreated despite being quivering piles of fear on the floor earlier.
"A few minutes my ass," Sasuki said aloud. She poked Naruto in the head with a stick a few times before tossing it in the fire. "When are you going to wake up you lazy ass?"
Sakura giggled at the antics. "So do you really have your memories back now, Sasuki?" she asked.
The Uchiha nodded, "The important ones, anyways. I'm just glad that Naruto's Fuuinjutsu skill came in handy after the pedophile tried to give me a hickey. If not I might be a little unstable right now. Well, a little more unstable than usual, at least."
The two girls laughed, and the blonde behind them stirred. "So, what'd I miss?"
"Sakura went Super Saiyan, but only because she stole your chakra tags and pulled a you."
"WHAT!" Naruto cried, shuffling around on his person. "Sakura, it took me months to figure those out. They were my secret weapon for the finals, and now I can't use them! I don't have any cool tricks left now! This is blasphemy, blasphemy I tell you!"
"Calm down, Naruto. Just make some more," Sakura sighed. "Don't your eyes let you do that? Automatic seal inscription and all?"
"It's NOT THE SAME! The people you used them on will totally expect it! Now I only have a few hours to think up of something or any fight I get into is totally going to be boring!"
The blonde wasted no time in deploying a few thousand clones into the forest with the simple order of "make up something cool!" the two girls were laughing at him, and all of his clones when they came back with ideas like new taijutsu combos. "No Taijutsu! It has to be flashy and original! I'm totally not copying Lee! Ninjutsu or Fuuinjutsu only!" he quickly 'killed' the ones who came in with stupid ideas, and it looked like he finally got something he could work with by the time Sasuki and Sakura were putting the tent for the night.
Ignoring the fact that he was probably the luckiest man in the universe by getting to sleep in the same tent as two very attractive kunoichi, Naruto entered the sleeping bag in the middle and taking a deep breath of relief.
"So, finally come up with something?" Sasuki asked, unexpectedly awake. Naruto took this as a pleasant surprise, and nodded with a wide grin on his face.
"That fight with Hebi-teme gave me an idea."
"Wanna give me some spoilers?"
Naruto shook his head. "Let's just call it a new twist on an old classic."
"You're no fun," Sasuki retorted.
"Psh, I don't know what you're talking about. You have bijuu chakra now. Would a person who was no fun give out cool abilities like that?"
Sasuki closed her eyes and tilted her head back in thought. Then she rolled over, resting her head on Naruto's shoulder. "No, I guess not. I suppose I can wait until your next fight to see it. Just…promise me something."
Naruto's expression softened, looking over to her and making eye contact. She could see the worry in her eyes. "Anything."
"Don't get yourself hurt just to be original. I don't care if you can't use anything but Kage Bunshin and the Rasengan forever, just try your best not to get hurt."
Naruto pushed back her hitai-ate to plant a kiss on her forehead, pulling her a little closer and wrapping his arm around her waist. "That's not fair. Jutsu creation is ten percent talent and ninety percent perspiration for a reason you know."
"I'm not worried about the sweat, I'm worried about the blood," Sasuki shot back.
"Fine, fine. But there's no reason to worry. Like I said, this is just a little variation of an old technique. Totally harmless."
"I'll hold you to that."
Naruto nodded, the two of them slowly drifting to sleep, back in each other's arms for the first time in months. Naruto was absolutely ecstatic. Sasuki-chan was finally back.
Fastest update time EVER! So yeah, leave reviews and tell me how you guys liked it! I love reviews.