Hello there and welcome to another chapter of Nidaime no Sairin.
I plan on writing the Invasion Arc in two chapters overall and I have made a few key changes to it all, so I hope you'll enjoy it.
Now, here is the chapter.
Nidaime no Sairin
Chapter 17 – Invasion
As the two last combatants faced each other, the crowd remained silent in complete anticipation for the fight to come. So far, Gaara's skill, from the audience's perspective, remained a mystery, but Naruto's…well, most of the audience, despite hating his guts, had to concede that the Kyuubi brat had solid skills. As such, for now, the entire audience wanted to see more of Naruto's skills. However, they also wanted to see him being beaten just as much. The Genin from Konoha were also in dire anticipation as they were the few along with the Jounin that had witnessed exactly what Gaara was capable of. So, the Genin were torn between wishing for Naruto to quit and to see the blond Genin being pushed into revealing even more than what he had revealed thus far.
The Jounin, for their part, also witnessed what Gaara was capable of in the preliminaries and some even knew the precise similarity that Gaara shares with Naruto.
However, their focus right now wasn't so much on the soon to begin standoff, but rather the more subtle changes that occurred in less than a minute. Kakashi, for his part, looked at some of the seats in the audience which were previously taken by regular civilians and now were taken by members of the ANBU Corps, all of them dressed in hooded overcoats.
"It seems an attack is imminent…" Asuma casually pointed out, while lighting up a cigarette, earning a subtle nod from Kakashi. Anko and Kurenai were also wary of the sudden replacement.
"Eight members…two platoons are too few…What is Lord Hokage thinking?" Anko turned to her brunette friend who raised the concern, as Kakashi surmised.
"It can't be helped. Without knowing how or when the opponent would make their move, it can't be helped that the ANBU are dispersed and deployed in different areas." The other Jounin quickly concurred, before their focus returned to the final match. Kurenai paid special attention to her ward's mannerism. She was surprised to see a tensed shoulder and rigid posture from Naruto, though considering just who his opponent is, it's understandable to play it safe for now. A different behavior wouldn't belong to someone worthy of the promotion.
Still, a small part of her couldn't help but worry about him.
"Don't worry Nai-chan…" Kurenai turned to Anko, who was showing a full-out grin in confidence. "I know that the gaki is still due to show everything he can do."
===At the Arena===
Down at the arena, Naruto eyed his opponent with key focus, getting a thorough read at his chakra. It was nothing short of mayhem in his sensory perception as Gaara looked to be barely able to keep it together, threatening to burst from his coils at any moment. Also, Naruto was working his mind through a suitable strategy here. He remembered seeing the older Konoha Genin named Rock Lee's fight against Gaara in the preliminaries. While Lee appeared at that time to be winning the fight, it all went sideways the moment that Gaara trapped Lee's limbs with his sand and crushed it into multiple pieces. Naruto still remembered to this day the agonizing sound mix between bones breaking and pain-filled screams. As such, he couldn't allow himself to be caught by Gaara's sand.
Aside from that, Naruto could use his own agility to get inside Gaara's sand guard, though it would be the same as what happened to Lee.
This match was different from the others, because Naruto couldn't see a clear weakness to exploit. He would just have to plan the field carefully along the way and react when needed.
Still, the maniac look on Gaara's face was intriguing.
"Is there something you wish to say to me? You certainly look like you're in a personal vendetta or something." Gaara just kept looking madly at him, though.
"You're strong…" Naruto narrowed his eyebrows at the rasp tone of voice. "Facing opponents like you is what makes my life meaningful." Gaara then chuckled some, making both Temari and Kankuro shiver slightly, while Gaara continued. "…killing you…hearing your bones break one by one by my sand…just feeling your blood running down my sand…you'll be amongst many whom I will use to feed my mother." The entire stadium felt the weight of these words as the civilians started to sweat at the amount of killing intent emitted by Gaara. Hell, even the Genin in the arena were feeling the strain. Naruto, though, just widened his eyes momentarily, having felt this immeasurable fear before and the chakra similarities. So much that he could practically hear the low growl from the Kyuubi no Kitsune.
This fight just escalated from tough to downright dangerous if Gaara was truly someone just like him.
Genma was busy just chewing the senbon as he eyed both Naruto and Gaara. Clearing his throat, the Jounin stepped forward and lifted his hand upward to make the move down and initiate the fight. However, before he could authorize the fight, Gaara had quickly maneuvered his sand and attacked Naruto. The Konoha Genin was caught by surprise and took the direct hit like a hammer. Genma frowned at the cheap shot, while the crowd gasped at the noise. Naruto, still in mid-air, recovered his wits and removed his sword, slashing the sand in one move, before landing on the ground and clearing the trail of blood from his mouth. Naruto looked quickly at Genma, wondering if that was a legal move, before having to dodge the relentless sand assault. He gathered wind chakra through the sword and was using his agility while slashing the small grains of sand with his sword, while the crowd had their own opinions of what happened.
Up from the Kage's Booth, Hiruzen noticed the Kazekage chuckling and puffed on his pipe.
"Quite up to Sunagakure's shinobi's reputation to rely on trickery like this, wouldn't you say Kazekage-dono." Both of Suna guards snarled at the comment made by the Hokage, though the Kazekage just chuckled.
"What can I say, Hokage-dono, there isn't much fairness in a fight between shinobi." Hiruzen resolved himself to merely make throat noises in acknowledgement, before turning to the arena as Gaara worked furiously in keeping Naruto on his toes.
Naruto, for his part, kept up his focus while at the same time using his agility to dodge the sand projectiles and using his sword to slash when he couldn't dodge in time. It's time to begin the first assessment of Gaara's weakness. Right after dodging the last attack, Naruto had quickly made some hand seals and subtly invaded Gaara's chakra system. The Suna Genin had to blink twice as his perception awareness shifted. The audience began to wonder why Gaara was attacking nowhere, but Kurenai smirked proudly at Naruto. His movement was so efficient that she couldn't help taking deep pride at. It took Gaara two seconds to realize that he was trapped in a Genjutsu, before he broke it. However, that was all Naruto needed as he got within the enemy's defense and turned the tables around using Kenjutsu.
Like it happened with Lee, Naruto's strikes met the resistance of Gaara's sand, but Naruto knew that would happen. He kept attacking from multiple directions and in passing wind chakra through the sword, Gaara was surprised, just like Temari and Kankuro, to see the sword piercing Gaara's first line of defense and attacking the second line. His body became full of sand cracks, before Gaara gathered all the sand and used it to blast Naruto away. Naruto, still in mid-air, summoned a couple of shuriken and exploding tags, before hurling them at Gaara.
The Suna Genin used his sand to defend himself and Naruto once more took the opportunity to shorten the distance, using relentless sequence of Kenjutsu moves, until one horizontal sword slash aimed at Gaara's chest came rather close from hitting actual flesh.
Once more, Gaara used the sand to blast Naruto away, but this time, his head began to hurt like hell and Gaara started screaming at the pain of feeling the Bijuu's chakra coursing through his system.
The Suna Jounin Baki snarled, thinking it was too soon for this to happen. Temari and Kankuro did so as well, with Temari also remembering her own fight against Naruto.
"No…mother…please…I'll kill him for you…I'll get his blood for you….NOOOO!" Naruto this time saw the powerful chakra erupting from within Gaara's coils, before having to use all his knowledge in chakra control to further augment his limbs to evade the faster and stronger sand blasts. He cursed as the sand managed to dig a hole in the ground and he wondered what would happen to him if he allowed himself to get hit by that. The Jounin, from the stands, could also feel the power-up and looked at one another, wondering If they should stop this fight. The Kages were looking at the fight as well, with Hiruzen narrowing his eyes, worrying for Naruto's safety.
It appeared that Gaara was struggling for control of his own body, while the sand relentlessly chased Naruto's position.
Hinata and Sakura gasped in worry for Naruto as one of the sand blasts came close to hurting him badly. Naruto, then, lost his step and used his other foot and even his hands to steady his position. Everyone gasped when the sand towered over Naruto, completely blocking the sun, threatening to pound the Konoha Genin. One hit from that would have easily broken every bone in his body. Kurenai had to use every fiber of her Jounin training not to scream his name, urging him to get a move on quickly. Seeing no other way out, Naruto went through a quick series of hand seals. When it comes to life and death situations, it becomes necessary, in the end.
Suiton Suijinheki (Water Release: Water Encampment Wall)
He blasted a strong water jet stream that took Gaara's sand blast away. Not done and making just about every high elite Jounin and above widen their eye sockets, Naruto allowed the droplets of water from his previous attacks to linger around him, as he stretched both hands forward. Subtly closing his eyes, Naruto expanded the feel of the water chakra in the atmosphere, aided by his previous attack. Once he was sure that he had enough grasp on the technique, Naruto opened his eyes and joined his hands together in a praying motion, manipulating the chakra within his coils. The entire audience gasped as a considerable swirl of water began to form around Naruto.
Suiton Suishouha (Water Release: Water Shockwave)
Naruto, with a mighty scream, flared his chakra as the ravaging pillar of water erupted like a geyser skyward. The considerable amount of water formed by this mere Genin was enough for many in the audience to wonder about the absurdity of it all. To use this amount of water for a jutsu and without a water source to gather from, was unheard of…well, not unheard of as only the older and more experienced shinobi in the area could remember another shinobi with this same expertise. Certainly, one Hiruzen Sarutobi, was having trouble keeping it together right now as the water geyser wave smashed on Gaara and dragged him towards the wall. This much water made his sand heavier, thus his body was that much heavier as a result. Gaara just had to use his frail limbs to swim upward from fear of drowning.
As the water dissipated, a panting and kneeling Gaara then snarled at the cracks around his sand armor and decided that enough was enough.
With his sand, yet more hardened after Naruto's water attack, he closed himself inside like a cocoon, but not before summoning the third eye technique to check on his opponent's moves, while he prepared.
===The Village Outskirts===
While the fight was raging on, a team of ANBU were performing routine patrols around the village. The higher-ups knew that something would happen anytime now, so the scouts increased. One ANBU team jumped from tree to tree and then went towards the ground, using agility to scout the most terrain possible. Still, nothing appeared out of the norm, so the team moved to a different location. One of the members with the sparrow mask stopped, though, certain that he had heard something. The ANBU scout, however, soon moved along after being called by his superior.
However, if he had decided to check it out, this man would have spotted many shinobi from Sand and Sound, hidden by the village's dense foliage.
All of them are just waiting for the signal to begin.
===At the Arena===
Back at the fight, Naruto observed the cocoon in front of him, wondering why Gaara chose this venue of the fight. Just what protecting himself would matter…if Naruto didn't attack, then this fight would go on endlessly. The Konoha Genin then tried a few different attacks. Shuriken, kunai…all weapons simply ricocheted from the cocoon. Not even a kunai with wind chakra did much damage. Naruto, then, hurled a rain of exploding tags attached to kunai and it made a huge explosion. Once more, it barely made a dent to the ultimate protection.
Coursing wind chakra through his sword, Naruto then charged the cocoon with extreme agility. Dodging the sand spikes that emerged from the cocoon, Naruto unleashed a great sequence of sword slashes.
However, despite him being faster than the spikes, it didn't seem like his sword was making any dent to the cocoon. And keeping this up would do nothing but tire him.
So, he took some distance from the cocoon, Naruto turned to analyze just what he could do to get through that ultimate defense. Quickly going through all of the techniques he had, Naruto then chose a specific venue, though he didn't know if it would work. One thing he did know is that he needed a considerable amount of chakra. Not only that, but he needed to be precise. He needed to accumulate it and then released it right upon impact to deliver the bigger punch. Thus, placing his sword in between his hands, while focusing on the ram signal, Naruto remembered the exercise that Asuma-sensei made him do before the end of the training month. As such, the bearded man in question chuckled as he saw the wind chakra erupt from Naruto's sword.
"Interesting…" Kakashi, Kurenai and Anko all turned to the bearded shinobi. "Naruto is sharpening his wind chakra like I instructed him to. He needs something to pierce that armor, after all."
Visualizing the wind chakra lines grinding with each other, Naruto then closed his eyes and worked through the pain caused by the strain in his chakra coils. When he opened his eyes, he looked at the sword and saw the wind chakra around the metal, behaving madly. Once he was sure that he couldn't improve on it, Naruto then took an even greater distance, going as far as reach the wall behind him. He needed as much propulsion as possible for this technique to work. He needed the added momentum to further increase the damage.
Once he charged chakra through his legs, Naruto almost vanished from view, with only dust being visible in each of his steps. Never before had he ran this fast, as he focused his eyes on any movement coming from Gaara.
At this speed, it was hard to react fast enough, though he had a backup plan if Gaara managed to counter-attack.
Quickly evading the hundreds of sand spikes that threatened to skewer him, his sword then exploded in wind chakra, as Naruto got within Gaara's guard.
Fuuton Senpuuken (Wind Release: Whirlwind Fist)
No sooner had Naruto's wind covered fist reached Gaara's cocoon, it sounded like a cannon blast added by a hurricane as Gaara's cocoon was hurled straight towards the back wall, while the wind slashes made quick work of the first and second layers of the sand protection. The audience gasped when the final layers of the cocoon slammed against the wall, as sand then sprawled all across the field. Gaara's eyes widened at the pain of his body being slammed towards the wall, with blood dripping from his forehead. That was the last straw of his self-control, before Gaara screamed bloody murder at the sight of his own blood.
"NOOOO, my blood! You took my blood!" Gaara then tried holding his throbbing head, but to no avail as the sand started dancing around him.
Naruto then looked surprised as Gaara's eyes shifted and even his skin turned into a grotesque desert-like color.
At the arena bleachers, one dark-hooded ANBU looked around, going through a single hand seal. The crowd then wondered what was going on when a rain of feathers dropped from the skies. Those who recognized the situation immediately managed to dispel the illusion, but the majority just fell asleep immediately. The Jounin-sensei looked at one another and nodded, already in preparation for what was going to happen. Up towards the Kage's Booth, the Kazekage looked slowly towards the Hokage and the Hokage did the same thing, seconds before the two Suna guards initiated the plan, using smoke bombs. This made the fight in the arena stop immediately as everyone looked up to see the smoke.
That was the signal for the invading forces to begin, as thousands of Sand and Sound shinobi invaded the village.
In the arena, the Jounins observed as the ANBU team went towards where the Hokage was in order to protect him. Naruto observed it all going on and then looked at Gaara who was still holding his head, trying to take back control. At this precise moment, Temari and Kankuro jumped down and stood in front of their brother to guard him. The Konoha Genin snarled at them, piecing some pieces together and advancing to take quick care of both. His move made Kankuro and Temari on high alert, seeing as neither could do much to stop this guy. Naruto threw a horde of kunai and shuriken at them and Kankuro used one of his puppets to block the projectiles. However, the puppet user flinched as he saw Naruto on the verge of slicing his head off.
When they heard metal hitting metal, Kankuro opened his eyes to see Baki parry Naruto's sword, before keeping on the offensive against the Genin.
"Take Gaara and run!" Baki yelled at them, before turning on Naruto once more, but before he could much, Baki had to block an incoming senbon. Genma then shunshined in front of Naruto to show Baki that he was the opponent here. The three Sand Genin took this opportunity and jumped away from the arena. Genma stood facing Baki, but he slightly turned to Naruto.
"Uzumaki Naruto, this marks the end of the Chuunin Exams, though it's clear that you already have chunnin level skills. Go and rendezvous with your Jounin-sensei for further instructions."
Naruto needed no further and jumped towards the arena bleachers where the Jounin were busy fighting Sand and Sound enemies.
===With the Hokage===
As soon as the team of ANBU arrived at the roof, the one with the white hood instructed the other teams to protect the lords, while his team moved to protect the Hokage. From the smoke, the two Suna guards attempted to keep the ANBU occupied, but the ANBU commander made short work of them with two kunai, before ushering his team to jump ahead and protect the Hokage. No sooner had they moved, both the Hokage and the Kazekage emerged from the smoke, with the Kazekage holding the Hokage by the edge of a kunai. As soon as they landed, four blurs emerged from presumably dead bodies scattered among the roof, positioning them in a rectangle formation with the Kages in the middle.
They had similar clothes, three boys and a girl from the looks of things.
The Kazekage gave the order as soon as he saw the ANBU team move, before the Sound-Four team all made a praying move on the same time, yelling in unison.
Ninpou: Shishienjin (Ninja Art: Four Violet Flames Formation)
Four pillars of light erupted towards the skies, then said lights joined with one another, forming the purple barrier, just as one of the ANBU attempted to pass by the defense. Trying to barrel through, his body was caught on fire and rolled back down the roof just as the ANBU team arrived to his location. The leader with the white hood snarled at the usage of a barrier. The enemy was crafty and managed to isolate the Hokage.
The Jounin-senseis, Kakashi, Asuma, Kurenai, Anko and Gai, watched transfixed as the barrier Ninjutsu lifted and trapped the Hokage inside.
Kakashi and Gai, in particular, attempted to move away, leaving Anko, Kurenai and Asuma to deal with the trouble in the Arena, when a bunch of Sand and Sound Chuunin appeared, next to the ANBU who performed the Genjutsu. One second was all it took before all hell broke loose as the enemy began to attack the civilians, as well as the Jounin. This was the scene that Naruto arrived to, trying to find either Asuma-sensei or Kurenai to receive his next set of orders. With his sword in hand, Naruto turned in time to avoid a couple of kunai that would have pierced his back and parried what appeared to be a Sound shinobi about to kill him. The enemy had superior height and superior strength superior, but Naruto managed to divert the man's kunai and use the sword to carve a deep wound to the man's stomach, before Asuma came and sliced the enemy's head off.
"Naruto, stick close to us. We shall provide your next set of orders." Naruto nodded at his sensei as he then moved together with his sensei to where the other Jounin were battling the enemy.
As he arrived, Naruto caught both Kurenai and Anko looking at him, with a subtle nod. Considering the situation they were now in, that move was enough praise for Naruto. He, then, saw both Kakashi and Gai deal with three or four Suna shinobi, before all Jounin managed to catch a respite to provide the Genin his set of orders. Kakashi was the one who showed a positive smile with his only visible eye closed at the blond Genin. And with him being the most senior Shinobi amongst the group, he was the one who provided Naruto with his directive.
"Uzumaki Naruto…I would say congratulations are in order, but now we don't have time. This is an A-ranked assignment for you, chunnin candidate. As of right now, you'll be responsible for the Genin's coordination in three of the village's sensitive areas, the Academy, the hospital, and the library. All the Jounin-sensei here are giving you command over the teams…right now, the civilians are the priority. Get a move on." Naruto allowed himself a few seconds to understand the acknowledgement all the Jounins gave to him, before his eyes briefly searched for his Genin peers amidst the crowds. The Jounins all then watched as Naruto summoned five Kage Bunshins next to him, before four vanished with a shunshin to different locations.
At this point, neither were surprised with the Genin's movements anymore, though they severely doubted that he would remain a Genin for long.
Anko, though, only smirked and approached the only clone that remained.
"You're indeed full of surprises, gaki. I'll grab one clone to help me with the civilians here and take them towards the shelter." The clone nodded and walked closer to the trench coat wearing Jounin. Before Anko left, though, she turned to Kurenai. "Having that many fights and even having enough chakra to summon five kage bunshins…Naruto-kun has lots of stamina to go on and on, wouldn't you say, Nai-chan." The illusion user just had to roll her eyes at Anko's little innuendo. It still baffled the brunette that even now her best friend could find the time to make jokes like these.
"Get a move on already, Anko. Naruto, stay together with me. They are targeting the civilians as well. Protect the civilians,, while we take care of the enemies, one by one."
Anko chuckled, before she and the Naruto clone left. The real Naruto nodded at Kurenai's orders, before sealing his sword and unsealing his immense repertoire of shuriken and kunai, hurling them expertly towards the enemies, stopping them from targeting the civilians, while the Jounin took quick care of them afterward.
===With Naruto Clone #1===
The 1st clone had navigated immediately towards the other bleachers where Hinata and Yakumo happened to be sitting down. Shikamaru happened to be there as well, when he arrived.
"Naruto-kun…" the clone nodded and immediately scooted down as well as he relayed the order given by the other Jounins.
"Hinata, Shikamaru, we need to go and check the Academy and help with the student's evacuation. Yakumo, you're free to tag along if you wish." Both girls nodded at the mission, while Shikamaru sighed in dismay.
"Man, wouldn't it be best if we stayed here, though. The Academy teachers are Chuunin…much more suited to this than us." The noise of kunai hitting kunai made the picture clear that perhaps Shikamaru was masquerading his fear with his usual boredom, though Naruto could be wrong about that. Nevertheless, he had the perfect motivation for the Nara Genin. In fact, both he and Hinata knew enough about their lazy teammate to know just what Shikamaru dreaded the most.
"Oh sure thing, Shika…you can stay right here, while Hinata and Yakumo will follow me. I then shall report to Asuma-sensei about your choice and said choice will be on my report. Well, you can grasp what would happen next."
"Of course I can…huh, did I say that I hate you today, Naruto?" Despite the actual invasion going on, both Hinata and Yakumo giggled at the reaction.
"Not verbally, but I bet you thought about it multiple times to count, now let's get a move on. Hinata, you take point with your Byakugan. We need a clear path of enemies towards the Academy. Yakumo, use your Genjutsu to mask our presence from the enemy. Shikamaru shall use his shadow to capture anyone that tries to attack us and I'll deliver the killing blow." Team 10 added by Yakumo acknowledged their mission as Hinata activated her eyes to find a proper path towards the Academy.
=== With Naruto Clone #2===
The 2nd clone went to Kakashi's team and found Sakura aiding Sasuke and Kiba in dealing with a couple of Sound Chuunin. Naruto noticed that Sasuke was doing quick work with his Sharingan, leaving Kiba and Sasuke to supplement the team's heavy hitters. The Naruto clone then unleashed a couple of shuriken, killing the one Sand Chuunin that threatened to attack Sakura's unprotected back. The pink-haired Genin turned in surprise when she heard the noise of metal piercing flesh, flinching at the possibility of the attack being directed at her.
She spotted Naruto approaching as soon as she turned.
"Senpai…thanks for the save." Naruto clone nodded and then relayed everyone the mission from Kakashi-sensei. As he expected, though, both Sasuke and Kiba vehemently questioned his leadership.
"So why are you the leader…you're not even part of our team, Naruto?" Well, it's not like he expected them to take his word at face value here. And a part of being a Chuunin means that sometimes he needed to enforce his leadership.
However, now was not the time to bicker as any minute wasted here meant the possibility of lives lost.
"You're right, Kiba. I'm not a part of your team. But Kakashi-sensei did place me in charge of the Genin's coordination and we need to go assist the hospital staff and evacuate the injured. As such, I vote for Sakura to lead us."
The team's only female member looked at him in surprise.
"Me…but senpai, I…"
"You are the one who knows your teammates best and from the three of you, I believe you're the best qualified to lead them. Kiba would act recklessly for sure and Sasuke would try to do everything by himself."
"Hey…" Kiba barked in denial, but was ignored by his teammates. Not even Akamaru had his master's back right now.
"…" Sasuke at least attempted to have a comeback ready, but he truly would…do things by himself. So, the broody Uchiha just settled for a 'hn' in response. Still, he was far more interested in demanding an explanation from Naruto than this invasion. "What I'd like to know, Naruto, is why you didn't show everything you can do when we were sparring?" Sakura at this point just grunted at Sasuke for bringing this up now, while already acknowledging that she would be team leader of this assignment. Naruto, for his part, sighed at the Uchiha and it seemed like Sasuke was really waiting for an answer here.
"Why Sasuke, so that you could activate your Sharingan and copy my techniques. I'm not that stupid, you know." The Uchiha grunted at the accusation. Though, he tried to activate his eyes while seeing Naruto's fight and cursed that Naruto's affinities were different from his. He could try them sure, but it wouldn't be as effective.
"Hn…whatever, let's go…Sakura, what's the plan then?" Sakura swallowed nervously for a bit as she eyed her three male peers staring back at her. Though, Naruto-senpai gave her his vote of confidence and relayed her orders.
=== With Naruto Clone #3===
The 3rd clone had a much easier time convincing Chouji and Shino of Kurenai-sensei nominating him as in charge, as they needed to head towards the library and help the workers to secure all vital information from the enemies.
However, Naruto's enemy in this group was none other than Yamanaka Ino.
"Hey, what the hell, Naruto. If anyone should lead this team, then it should be me. I'm the leader of this group." The Naruto clone blinked a couple of times at the tone of bravado taken by the Yamanaka, even though it was clear that the girl was shaking in her boots right now. Turning to Chouji, all he got from his big bone friend was a resigned shrug. It was Shino, though, who came to Naruto's rescue, before he needed to open his mouth and convince the tsundere Yamanaka.
"I don't believe that Naruto-kun would waste his time coming here and give us orders. Plus, it's quite logical that Kurenai-sensei would give Naruto this assignment, considering that he is by far the strongest Genin of our class."
"Hey Shino, you'd pick him over your own teammate. Such betrayal of trust." Naruto was marveled at Shino's ability to openly confront Ino by a mere lift of his eyebrow.
"Ma…ma, Ino…let us follow Naruto's command for this mission. Shino's right. Naruto-kun wouldn't have come here, if he didn't have express orders from her." Ino, though, relented once Chouji vouched for Naruto.
"Ah…not you too, Chouji. Fine…what's the plan, then, leader-sama?" Naruto ignored the snarking remark.
"I appreciate the vote of confidence, Shino and Chouji. Even you, Ino." The Yamanaka merely crossed her arms and looked the other way with a snort, much to Naruto's amusement. "Chouji and Ino will stick close to me…Shino, can you use your kikaichu to attack any enemies that try to attack us. I don't believe that the library will be targeted much right now, but there are still workers there that may need assistance."
The Aburame merely adjusted his glasses and acknowledged the order as the team marched with him up front, clearing the path towards the library.
=== With Naruto Clone #4===
When Uzuki Yuugao first awakened this morning, her mind was dull. She had appreciated Kurenai and Anko's help yesterday, trying to be there for her, but they were performing an already failed mission. For as she really wanted one person to be there, not them. No matter how much she loved her friends, seeing the mangled corpse of her fiancée was a sight that will be forever lodged within the deep abyss of her mind. And truly…if something other than Suna invading Konoha, she would have sincerely remained indoors and simply allowed the others to carry the load.
As she understood who the enemy was, something had awakened deep within her.
Something that as an ANBU, she was trained to ignore.
However, even though shinobi and kunoichi can't be allowed to act driven by emotions, at the end of the day, shinobi and kunoichi are still humans. As such, a woman can be allowed to take revenge from those who killed her fiancée.
Right now, as the destruction continued around the village, Yuugao had permitted herself a brief moment by the Hero's Monument to mourn for Hayate's death. Her team, her brothers in arms, stood behind her, just waiting for their team captain to say her goodbyes, before beginning their assignment.
Still kneeling, Yuugao whispered her final words, before narrowing her eyes and placing her Neko mask. She turned and was about to deliver the order to her team, when she heard a familiar voice yelling for her.
"Neko-sensei!" The ANBU turned to see Naruto approach the team.
"Naruto, what are you doing here? Where are Kurenai and the others?" Naruto had felt her chakra in complete disarray and wondered what happened to his Kenjutsu teacher.
"She and the other Jounin-sensei had instructed me to protect the civilians…I had just helped evacuate those that remained in the commercial district, when I sensed your chakra nearby." Right there, Naruto once more felt her chakra shift, wondering why his sensei's emotions were tampering with her chakra like this. In their training, Neko was so composed throughout their training, rarely portraying anything. It was hard to imagine her like this.
"Are you okay, Neko-sensei? I can sense that your chakra is in complete disarray." Her ANBU team looked at one another, surprised at what Naruto had just said.
Yuugao, for her part, allowed herself to overcome her dark thoughts for Hayate and the war for a brief second and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, remembering that above all else, Naruto was a sensor.
"I'm sorry for not being able to see your matches today, Naruto-kun. I trust that you're taking good care of your sword like I instructed you to."
Her tone of voice still carried the composure and the respect, but Naruto could tell there were traces of sadness in it. He nodded at her, though, focusing on the conversation topic.
"The Exams went fine, until this madness started. Well…not that you guys really need it, being an ANBU and all, but I can tag along and provide help." Beneath her mask, she managed to make a thin-line smile at the concern.
"I trust that you'd be an excellent addition to the ANBU forces one day, Naruto-kun…but you should keep up with the mission you've already received…save as many civilians as possible and direct them towards the shelters."
"…Understood, Neko-sensei." Yuugao nodded, before issuing everyone to proceed. Naruto then watched as the ANBU vanished. The clone then looked around, trying to feel for weaker chakras to rescue.
=== With the Original Naruto===
The rhythm was frantic.
Naruto couldn't allow himself even a second of respite from fear of allowing the enemy to kill one civilian. His hands began to feel numb from overthrowing the projectiles from a distance, but right now, there was simply no time to rest. He had only enough time in between strikes to report to Kakashi and the rest that his mission was successful with all the civilians and even the Academy students taken into the shelters, where the four clones that led the Genin met with Anko and Iruka. Now, only one clone still remained out there, so Naruto couldn't tell how he was doing. The scarecrow Jounin simply grunted at the report, focusing instead of keeping scores between him and Maito Gai to see who would deal with most enemies. Asuma had already left the premises, leaving Naruto under the watchful care of Kurenai.
Sarutobi Asuma was tasked to head straight to the village gates and assist Ibiki and the others there to take care of the three-headed snakes that were terrorizing the village buildings.
As such, Naruto and Kurenai remained together for the rest of the battle.
"Naruto-kun, I shall update your new set of directives…aside from guarding the civilians, you shall be responsible for delivering the killing blow to the enemies." Naruto looked at his sensei like she was crazy, before she elaborated, with a focused grin at him. "Don't worry too much. I will be using my Genjutsu on them to disorient their surroundings and senses. However, you can't allow yourself to hesitate here. Let's go!" Nodding along, Naruto included the new set of directives as he stood next to Kurenai as she went through hand seals to target one or two targets at the same time. He could see the Genjutsu taking effect and summoned his sword once more to take the killing blow.
The look of sheer panic when the enemy was no longer under the effect of Kurenai's jutsu and realizing that a sword had just pierced his chest would remain in his brain for Kami knows how long.
Still, he just coudn't allow himself to hesitate here. One less enemy to deal with equals to one or even more of the villager's lives saved. Kurenai, for her part, needed him to understand that he was no longer playing in the little leagues here. Because of his performance in the arena, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that he would be promoted. As such, these assignments will from now on be a constant for a full assault shinobi like Naruto. And by the looks of things, he was behaving like a professional the entire time.
===With the Hokage===
Hiruzen Sarutobi, still held by the Kazekage's kunai to his throat, just watched the village fall under attack.
"Well, this was unexpected…to think that after everything our villages went through, that Suna would betray Konoha like this." The Kazekage, for his part, merely chuckled at his fellow Kage.
"The treaty is simply a camouflage to make the enemy let down their guard. From this point on, the course of history will change and Suna shall emerge victorious, Hokage-dono." Despite the weapon inches from his throat, Hiruzen just levels the stare back at the Kazekage.
"Your words mean you're starting an open war against Konoha? You should think clearly, Kazekage-dono, there is still time after all to take a step back and for us to resolve this matter without more need of bloodshed."
With time, one Hiruzen Sarutobi grew accustomed to taking the path with the least amount of casualties. It wouldn't be the first time. The Uchiha Coup; the incident with the ambassador from Kumo and even the life-altering decisions from the last Great Ninja World War. Though, come to think about it, Hiruzen Sarutobi truly wondered if he would ever be allowed to pass along the hat to someone else in life.
'Minato-kun, you should have been the one dealing with this!'
The Kazekage, for his chance, closed his eyes briefly and then laughed long and hard, this time no longer talking with the Kazekage's voice, but someone else instead, someone whom Hiruzen recognized instantly.
"Perhaps one gets addicted to peace as one grows older…Sarutobi-sensei!"
"You're…" The Kazekage chuckled as he then removed the mask, revealing the identity of the true conspirator of this mess. "Orochimaru!"
Ok that's it for now. Yes, one of the biggest surprises of this story shall be revealed in the next chapter.
For those wondering about the lack of a few scenes, those will be also addressed in the next chapter.
Once more, I appreciate everyone for the feedback as well as adding this story to their favorite or following.
Thanks a lot everyone.
Next update: Fate Shadow Spear