Author's Note: Now, this would ordinarily be where I would say that I'm taking the rest of June off for my birthday...and I AM taking June off...but it's more than that. There is a family emergency distracting me right now, one that hits closer to home than anything else, and I am not up to keeping my writing up while it is distracting me. Honestly, aside from when my computer has needed to go into the shop for repairs, this is the best reason I've ever had for going on hiatus for a while, bar none.

So it is, and I'll be taking the rest of June, and at least the first half of July off to help resolve my family issue. There will be intermittent updates of other stories and the like, but my Writing Schedule stories are all halted after this. See you in July, hopefully.

Read, Review and check out my other stories!

Disclaimer: I do not own either Naruto or The Gamer.

"Sakura-chan!" - Regular Speech

'Baka!' - Thoughts

:Shannaro!: - Inner Sakura

[Quest Announcement] - Gamer Ability/Notification

Beta'd by BigCC

Chapter 30: Uzumaki Naruto vs. Hoshigaki Chikuwa

Several Minutes Earlier

With Asuma and Kurenai

"Blargh!" the Nuke-nin's final breath came with a burst of blood from his mouth as the knuckles of Asuma's trench knife smashed into his neck, crushing his windpipe and snapping his spine. Blood dribbling down his lips, the man fell to the ground as he joined his fellows in death.

"Whew now…" the bearded let out a breath as he eyed the roughly twenty bodies scattered around them. "Still not back in tip-top shape just yet, but I'm getting there. Hey, Kurenai, don't kill that one, we need some information."

"Hm?" the Genjutsu Mistress paused from where she was just about the place an explosive tag onto the chest of the last living Nuke-nin so she could finish activating her Magen: Jubaku Bakusatsu no Jutsu (Demonic Illusion: Tree Binding Explosive Death Jutsu) before she nodded absently and withdrew the tag.

The Nuke-nin, a man who was almost abnormally average in nearly ever way and wore a slashed-out Kusagakure hitai-ate across his forehead, let out a shuddering breath as Kurenai released him from her illusion, before it seemingly caught in his throat as he caught sight of the corpses of what had once been the vast majority of five teams of Chūnin from Karehagakure.

His eyes were impossibly wide and fearful as they turned to the two jonin responsible for this one-sided massacre. "M-Monsters…!" he whimpered out, looking ready to bolt before he felt cold steel resting against his throat. Faster than he could follow, Asuma had closed the distance between them and was now resting the blade of one of his trench knives almost casually against his throat.

"Not really, you and your friends here are just that weak; I'm honestly surprised that you all managed to reach Chūnin rank with so little actual strength before you ran off." Asuma responded almost casually as he absently shrugged the shoulder not holding the man's life one a razor's edge. "The Kami only know how out of shape I am after years of soft assignments, and I still didn't even break a sweat dealing with the lot of you. What the hell have you lot been doing since you went rogue, because it's obvious you haven't been keeping your training up."

The Nuke-nin clamped his mouth shut and tried to look away as much as he could without slitting his own throat.

"Ah, going to try and walk down that path, huh?" the Smoking Guardian sounded darkly amused as he chuckled. "Now, I don't recognize you, so I'm guessing that you were just another small fry back in Kusa and your village decided not to bother wasting the resources it would take to place a bounty on you after you deserted. Probably the same story for most of your little gang if your performance here is any indicator."

"…" the man didn't speak but he did turn his attention back to Asuma to glower at the bearded Sarutobi.

"Ah, hit a sore spot, did I?" Asuma nodded sagely. "Well, I'm afraid that I really don't have the time or the interest to care about the feelings of some C-Rank Nuke-nin. Right now, I have a few questions that I need answers for, chief among them being just how many shinobi are there in your little troupe."

While smiling and relaxed on the outside, internally Asuma was starting to get worried. Most groups of Nuke-nin rarely exceeded more than ten members, particularly when they were from mixed villages like this bunch; the factitious, backstabbing, and overly ambitious natures that made them all turn their backs on their respective villages simply made keeping larger groups together all but impossible…unless there was someone strong and brutal enough at the head to keep all the lower-level thugs in line out of pure fear. This group had just thrown twenty low-tier Chūnin at him and Kurenai like it was nothing, knowing that the vast majority weren't going to survive the encounter, and that was a major cause for concern.

That meant that this group had to be big; big enough that there were likely still more than enough Nuke-nin left out there to attack the Shukuba Town and overwhelm its defenders.

The Nuke-nin opposite him grit his teeth but his face was defiant and he maintained his silence.

"Fine, guess we have to do this the quick and painful way. Don't say I didn't give you an out, bub." the Smoking Guardian let out an annoyed huff before nodding towards his companion, who quickly went through a series of handsigns. "Kurenai?"

"Magen: Narakumi. (Demonic Illusion: Hell Viewing.)" Kurenai intoned calmly; her red eyes locked onto the Nuke-nin's. While a fairly low-level genjutsu, it was also an incredibly useful and versatile one that Kurenai always found ready use for. Instead of imputing a specific illusion into a target's mind, the Hell Viewing technique instead pulled on a target's deeply seated fears, some they themselves might not even be aware of, and used them to trap the target in a terrifying illusion. And that was only the technique's most basic application; a true master (or mistress) of genjutsu could further hone and manipulate the Narakumi so that it would dive even deeper, pulling out the most primal, instinctive fears that dwelled deep within the human hindbrain, the lizard brain that controlled human instinct at its most basic level.

The Nuke-nin instantly began to scream; his eyes bulging wide and his pupils dilating as his face rapidly distorted into a rictus of terror while Kurenai's genjutsu did its work. Then…

"Kai." the black-haired woman chanted softly, ending the jutsu. The man slumped forward, nearly slicing his own throat on Asuma's trench knife but a quick hand from the bearded jonin kept him upright enough that he only ended up nicking his throat. The slight, sharp pain was enough to restore some small bit of consciousness to the missing-nin, who looked between the two in renewed, wild-eyed terror.

"Wha…wha…h-how…?" the man stammered out, barely able to speak as his brain scrambled to make sense of what he had just experienced.

"Well, she IS Konoha's Genjutsu Mistress." Asuma pointed out absently. "A master of any art can do some pretty terrifying things with the basic techniques of their chosen skillset, and that was just a very basic taste of what she can do with it. You're going to go under something far worse for a bit longer if you don't start telling me what I want to know. So, do we have drag this out and put you through enough shit that your mind breaks and then we have drag out our answers from your half-braindead living corpse, or can we just get this over with quickly?"

Slumping, the failure of a Nuke-nin could only offer a small whimper before he answered. "What do you want to know?"

It didn't take much longer for Asuma and Kurenai to get all the information that they needed out of the former Kusa ninja.

"Thirty more Chūnin, a small bushel of Genin, and a pair of Jonin?" the Smoking Guardian couldn't help but let out a short whistle. "Combine that with the twenty Chūnin here and that's a military force that might be able to take on one of the smaller minor villages."

'Most Nuke-nin groups can never get this big. Is this some kind of effect from Naruto's 'Gamer' power?' Asuma thought in concern. The reality warping aspect of [The Gamer] had been concerning when he'd first been convinced that his student's strange power actually existed, and now it was starting to get even more worrying. Naruto might be [The Gamer], but he didn't seem to have absolute control of [The Gamer] itself, as contradictory as that might sound. If that thing was capable of manipulating circumstances to allow such a large group of Nuke-nin to form with an intent to attack Konoha, then Asuma was even less enthused about this strange otherworldly power than he'd previously been.

"Asuma, we need to get back to our Genin. The threat is a lot worse than we could have expected." Kurenai stated seriously, pulling him from his thoughts.

"Yeah, you've got a point there." the senior of the two Jonin agreed, absently pulling back and reversing the grip on his trench knife. "Well, thanks for the help. Your payment will be a swift, painless death."

"…fuck…" the Kusa Nuke-nin could only let out a resigned groan before Asuma briefly reactivated his Hien and took off his head with a single, swift swing.

The two jonin were already moving as the body collapsed with a small fountain of blood escaping from the exposed neck, speeding their way back in the direction of the Shukuba. The entire caravan that they'd been sent to find had already been torn to pieces by the time they arrived, with the employees either captured or slaughtered like cattle alongside the guards. A pointless act of bloodshed, but the kind that was far too common among Nuke-nin.

'Someone in ANBU is gonna lose their head when Oyaji finds out that they somehow missed something like this brewing right outside our umbrella.' Asuma grumbled, not feeling all that empathetic for the masked protectors of the village. Their main bailiwick might have been assassinations and internal security within the village, but they were often sent out on discreet patrols throughout Hi no Kuni as well. Strictly speaking that was what the Patrol Corps were for, except that their attention was mostly focused on Fire Country's borders rather than internal patrols.

The speed at which a pair of Jonin could move when they really wanted to run was honestly quite the sight to see. They hadn't been moving at that kind of speed when they'd left the Shukuba, since they were keeping any eye out for signs of the caravans, but right now they were moving at top speeds as they headed back towards the village. That meant that they reached the outskirts of the forest that sat near the town's edge within a few minutes. As they travelled, both kept a weather eye open for any signs of more ninja being about, but any trace they caught sight was at least a few minutes old. Whoever had been standing between them and the Shukuba had obviously seen the way the wind was blowing and ran off.

"Yikes, well that certainly doesn't look good." Asuma winced as he caught sight of thick, black smoke rising out from the Shukuba. "And-…Kurenai did you just feel that?"

Now, neither Asuma nor Kurenai were Sensor-nin, but any ninja who reached a certain level started to become a bit more sensitive to foreign chakra. It was usually just enough to feel when strong chakra was being used nearby, and just a few seconds ago both had felt two very strong chakra sources flare up somewhere from within the forest, and one of them was familiar to the both of them.

"Naruto's trying to fight a Jonin." Kurenai stated grimly.

"Damnit, why is he trying to fight a Jonin?!" Asuma groaned out. If something happened to his favourite orphan, then the Hokage would skin him alive for it!

In a flash, the two Jonin-sensei were darting through the forest, heading towards where the chakra flares were originating from. As they moved through the forest, the sound of multiple explosions became clearly audible, and it wasn't coming from the place where Naruto's chakra was still flaring about wildly, which meant…

"Shit, the other genin are also in combat!" Asuma cursed aloud.

"What's the plan?" Kurenai deferred to him on this one, considering he had more field experience.

"Argh…" the Sarutobi groaned in annoyance. "Naruto's chakra is still going strong, that means he's in good health. He should be able to hold his own for at least a little while. The others are likely being chased by Chūnin and maybe even the other Jonin; we need to get to them first and ensure they're safe. Once we've got them in a secure-enough position, one of us can peel off and assist Naruto."

It was a bit of a cold decision, but it was one that had to be made in these circumstances. Naruto was not only an Uzumaki but he was also a Jinchūriki and had his own special power in [The Gamer] at his disposal. If any of the Genin in Konoha could be trusted to survive against a Jonin for at least a few minutes, other than the Eternal Genin himself, then it would be Naruto Uzumaki.

The rest of their students, however, had nowhere near the same level of survivability and needed to be rescued fast. Especially since the client Ichiraku Ayame, a half-trained Academy-level non-combatant, was likely with the larger group.

Asuma was just hoping that he made the right judgement call here….

With Naruto

Ever since he had gained the power of [The Gamer], Naruto had met, faced down, and defeated several powerful foes; the [Berserk Fox Squirrel], [Mogura Wogura, the Massive Mole] and Toji Mizuki were among the most dangerous and powerful enemies that he had fought and managed to defeat. However, the two times that he had ended up even lightly sparring against a Jonin-level opponent, once against Maito Gai and once against Sarutobi Asuma, had ended with him being completely and utterly defeated with little to no effort from his enemies.

So, perhaps even better than the rest of his and Shikamaru's teams, he knew just how momentously stupid he was being when he decided to try and play rearguard to hold off a Nuke-nin Jonin. Especially one with the kind of stats that he was facing!

Name: Hoshigaki Chikuwa

Class: Elite Ninja Swordsman

Level: 35

Title: Member of the Shadow Swordsman of the Mist/Leader of Karehagakure

HP: 44415

CP: 4500

STR: 235

STA: 189

DEX: 250

INT: 100

WIS: 45

LUK: 25

Special Status: [Swordmaster] (Greatly increases damage with all sword-type weapons), [Hoshigaki Clan Member] (Slows mental stat improvement, greatly enhances physical stat improvement. Increased experience gains with the [Saki Projection] Skill), [Atrophied] (Reduces effectiveness of all physical stats and skill).

Hoshigaki Chikuwa is a Nuke-nin formerly of Kirigakure, the Bloody Mist. He was forced to flee shortly after the Yondaime Mizukage turned against his clan after his most famous kinsmen, Hoshigaki Kisame, went rogue. Working together with a small group of other deserting jonin, they managed to steal the Seven Shadow Swords of the Mist from where they were kept in storage, claiming Kiribachi for himself while the other six were claimed by the other members of his short-lived alliance. Bloodthirsty and battle-hungry like the vast majority of his clan tends to be, Chikuwa was once considered as a possible candidate to become one of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist. However, life as a Nuke-nin has allowed him to develop many bad habits and his skills have started to atrophy from that. Still, he remains a ruthless, battle-hungry man without a trace of either pity or mercy. He is not an opponent to be faced lightly.

Yeah, this was just plain fucked up. His [Observe] skill had finally reached a high enough level that he could at least see his opponent's stats and everything, but the Special Status section still only gave him vague descriptors of what benefits or penalties each Status provided. That meant he had no idea just how much [Atrophied] was actually reducing his enemy's stats and skills.

At the moment, he wasn't even trying to fight this monster directly, instead he was staying back and sending in his [Kage Bunshin] and [Iwa Bunshin] to attack, hoping to get some idea of what he was dealing with. Unfortunately, that wasn't working out so well. Every great sweep of that overly long and wickedly sharp weapon of his allowed Hoshigaki Chikuwa to wipe out full handfuls of his clones at once, though it was rapidly apparent that he wasn't using anything other than basic body enhancement and swordsmanship right now.

'Right, this isn't going to work.' Naruto concluded. 'Not only are the clones' copies of Tsubaki and Sumire not going to be able to get close enough to actually hit him, even Kogetsu Kyūshiki wouldn't have the reach necessary to overcome that damned oversized handsaw. And trying to use [Iwa Bunshin] is just wasting my chakra; they might be more durable than [Kage Bunshin] but a single swing of that thing is still more than enough to smash them to bits. I'm going to have to change things up if I want to survive this.'

Sheathing the real [Tsubaki] and [Sumire], Naruto pushed his chakra out once more as he formed the Clone Handsign. "[Kage Bunshin no Jutsu]!"

In a large explosion of smoke, eighty-odd copies of himself, the maximum number that he could currently make using the combination of his large chakra pool and the benefits of his [Shadowmaster] Perk, appeared around him.

"Well now, not too shabby, kid. But clones are just clones, and these flimsy things can't do jack to me." the Nuke-nin Jonin commented idly with a smirk, idly bisecting one of the few remaining Shadow Clones of the initial attack rush from crown to groin with a casual ease; popping it and, unbeknownst to Chikuwa, restoring Naruto's chakra pool by a full hundred CP thanks, once again, to the [Shadowmaster] Perk

"Yeah? Well, let's try this with a new dance step then!" Naruto shot back. "Now!"

"Bunshin Senjutsu: Kabe no Jin! (Clone Tactics: Wall Formation!)!" the clones shouted in unison as they quickly moved into formation, rapidly leaping onto each other's shoulders until they stood as a human wall, twelve clones long and seven clones tall. Then each and every clone reached into their supply pouches before smoothly drawing out and throwing a bushel of shuriken using the Maxed Out [Hikō Yoshin Fast Draw Technique].

"Heh, just another kid's game." Chikuwa scoffed out, readying to simply sweep away the incoming swarm of shuriken with a swing of his sword.

The clones just smiled mirthlessly as half of them started to flip through a series of eight handsigns in perfect synch, Ox → Dog → Dragon → Rat → Dog → Boar → Snake → Tiger. The other half started half a moment later with a different series of handsigns, Snake → Ram → Boar → Horse → Bird → handclap.

"[Shuriken Kage Bunshin no Jutsu]!" the first group of clones roared out, turning the fairly large swarm of shuriken that was already flying towards Chikuwa into a veritable rainstorm of bladed death bearing down on lone Nuke-nin, making his eyes widen slightly.

"[Fūton: Reppūshō!]" the second group roared out a half-second later and the Hoshigaki's eyes bulged out as the air around the clones suddenly surged forwards, slamming into the shuriken and sending the entire blade storm flying forward even faster than before.

"HOLY SHIT!" Chikuwa shouted in panic, even as he formed a set of seals of his own. "Suiton: Suirō no Jutsu! (Water Release: Water Prison Technique!)" Water surged out of his mouth, rapidly spilling outward and swirling around him. In less than a second, he was completely encased in a perfect orb of water, just before the surge of flying steel fell upon him.

The way water will react when something is thrown into it rather interesting. If something like a polystyrene ball is thrown, even by one of the most physically powerful people in the world, then it would never do anything more than cause the water to ripple or generate a splash as the force was dissipated and the ball refused to go under. If something less buoyant is thrown, like say a steel throwing star, then the object in question will go beneath the water's surface, rapidly losing speed and power as the water's own inertia causes it to rapidly bleed off force and momentum until it was merely sinking in the water.

This same rule would apply to even something like a shuriken that has been augmented by a wind jutsu. The main difference would be the amount of speed and force that the shuriken had to bleed off when it hits the water's surface.

The surface of the Suirō was not, as some might believe, anything more than normal water compressed and formed into a new shape by the user's chakra; with the technique itself having no inherently advanced defensive attributes outside the chakra that is enhancing the surface tension of the water in order to hold it in the proper shape. Yes, the water within is heavy and densely compacted, making it difficult to move in, and a master of the technique (which Chikuwa was not) could even increase the strength of the surface tension to the point that it becomes almost rubber-like in the way it dissipated force, but in the end it was still only water.

Thus, when a swarm of hundreds of wind-enhanced shuriken slammed into the orb, it could only do so much to slow and weaken the onrushing shuriken even as Hoshigaki Chikuwa used his own sword as a shield to momentarily block the storm of blades so he could make good an escape.

Worse, Chikuwa had forgotten something very important in his haste to form a last-minute defence; while the Water Prison Jutsu was created and held together by its user's chakra, every jutsu had its limits. The Suirō no Jutsu could form impressive amounts of surface tension to keep the construct it formed into shape, but with dozens, if not hundreds, of different, small bladed edges striking at it near-simultaneously, there was only so much it could do before the chakra holding it together was worn and stretched so thin to the point that it snapped. Thus, the Water Prison collapsed suddenly and without warning seconds after the assault began; leaving its occupant exposed for the hair of a second that it took his reflexes to kick in.

That millisecond was more then enough time for his body to be utterly pummelled by over a hundred of the shuriken that were filling the air. His Kirigakure Ninja Coat was both thick and lightly armoured so it granted some degree of protection to most of his limbs and vitals, but by the time he was able to finish activating the Mizu Shunshin (Water Body Flicker) that he'd already been preparing to escape the deluge of metal, he still had numerous new cuts and scratches across his hands face, hands, the exposed portions of his torso, with several more imbedded into the material of his Ninja Coat or embedded in Kiribachi's unusually shaped blades.

"Shit, just holy fucking shit! What the hell!?" he growled out as he reappeared in one of the nearby trees, looking utterly pissed.

As the Nuke-nin was cursing up a storm, nearly all of the shuriken that were littering the ground and trees puffed away in hundreds of small clouds of chakra smoke, blanketing the ground for a moment. As this happened, Naruto discovered another interesting facet of the combination of the [Shadowmaster] Perk, the [Kage Bunshin no Jutsu], and the [Shuriken Kage Bunshin no Jutsu]; when he used the two technique in tandem, as in performing the exact type of manoeuvre Naruto had just used against Hoshigaki Chikuwa, when the shuriken created as a result of the former using the latter dispersed, Naruto received back both the chakra that had gone into creating the shuriken shadow clones and the chakra that had been used to create the shadow clone's shuriken. Useful to know.

"Alright, brat, I'm starting to see what the oldsters were talking about when they called your clan a bunch a bunch of damned dangerous bastards!" Chikuwa snarled out as he pointed his sword at the clone wall. "But I am done playing around with you! I'm gonna chop ya into pieces and then I'm going to hunt down your little friends to finish this day on a high note!"

"As if we haven't heard that kind of bullcrap before!" a Naruclone scoffed back as the clones leapt apart, breaking up the Kabe no Jin. "Come on boys, let's start turning up the heat on this fish!"

Forming the Tiger Handsign, that particular Shadow Clone drew in a sharp breath. "[Katon: Hibashiri]!"

Then the clone exhaled sharply, sending out a steam of fire shooting forwards, wrapping around the group of trees that the Jonin was standing on. On its own, the technique wouldn't have done much, but at the same time…

"[Fūton: Daitoppa]!" four other [Kage Bunshin] shouted simultaneously, each clapping their hands together as they finished their own set of seals and sending a massive funnel of winds directly towards the flames created by the [Hibashiri]. As the two jutsu combined, the mass of flames burned even hotter and surged upwards towards the Nuke-nin, forcing him to leap into the air to avoid being caught in the surging flames. As he did, one of Naruto's few remaining [Iwa Bunshin] quickly used the [Henge] to transform itself into a solid Fūma Shuriken, which was grabbed out of the air by another Shadow Clone before being thrown directly at Chikuwa, and just as it was getting into range…

"[Ninpō: Shuriken Goshin]!" the clone shouted, making the Tiger Handsign.

Immediately afterwards, the already large shuriken erupted into a large cloud of smoke before emerging less than a second later at at least four times its previous size. It slammed directly into the still mid-air Jonin Nuke-nin, its massive blades cleaving right through his Shinobi Jacket and nearly bisecting him diagonally…before he exploded in a puff of smoke, replaced with a log.

"Enough fucking games you little shit! Suiton: Bakusui Shōha no Jutsu! (Water Release: Exploding Water Colliding Wave Technique!)" the shark-skinned man howled out from just a bit deeper into the woods, unleashing a massive amount of water from his mouth that immediately exploded outwards, rapidly flooding the area and knocking over several intervening tree as it surged forwards.

The last of Naruto's [Iwa Bunshin] were instantly swept under and destroyed by the onrushing water, along with more than a few of his [Kage Bunshin], particularly those that had already used up a good portion of their chakra. The rest leapt into the air, sticking themselves to the nearby trees, though most quickly were quickly forced to fall or dive back into the water (though thankfully not with enough force to dispel most of them) as most of their chosen anchors broke and fell under the force of the rushing waters. Naruto himself was safe, having secreted himself underground while his clones had been attacking using one of his more rarely-used jutsu, [Doton: Moguragakure].

Hollowing out a large enough space around him, Naruto quickly formed another Shadow Clone before popping it, relaying new orders to the roughly forty or so clones that had managed to survive the initial attack. He really needed to learn that Water Walking Exercise that he'd heard about at some point, this was getting kind of ridiculous…

As the jutsu ended, where there had once been a patch of woodlands, there now stood what looked like a man-made lake, with only a few particularly stubborn or sturdy tree managing to rise up out of it. Rather than forming a circular sphere of water, Chikuwa had instead shaped the result of his strongest jutsu into a flattened disc, with the 'edge' of the water rising a good two or three stories above the forest's floor

Standing atop the chakra-created pond that had momentarily replaced a good portion of the forest, Hoshigaki Chikuwa huffed slightly, recovering from having to use so much of his chakra for a single technique. The Bakusui Shōha was easily one of the most powerful techniques in his arsenal, but it was also a major chakra hog, even for a jonin. As he was, it was just inside his grasp to use. He'd always had smaller reserves than the chakra monsters that tended to come out of his clan; even as a Jonin his reserves were average at best. It was one of the more obvious reasons why he had long ago decided to focus on mastering the art of the sword.

'Fucking hell, so that's what fighting an Uzumaki was like; the oldsters weren't just flapping their gums after all. Fuck, that was just a young one too, a Genin. What kind of utter nightmares must the adult JONIN members of that clan been to fight?' he thought, a savage, satisfied grin on his lips. 'And they call the Hoshigaki a clan of 'monsters!' Hah! Man, no wonder most of the invasion force got utterly shredded when they tried attacking that bunch on their home ground! Still, I just buried the little bastard under a brand fucking new lake, there's no way in hell he's going to get up after that.'

Just then, several hands erupted out of the nearby water to grab onto both of his ankles. Looking down, he caught sight of a half-dozen of the clones, all grinning up at him from beneath the water. He had a sudden premonition of just what exactly was about to happen.

"Don't even fucking think about it!" he snarled as he raised Kiribachi.

"Suiton: Shinju Zanshu no Jutsu! (Water Style: Double Suicide Decapitation Jutsu!)" one clone's head breached the surface just long enough to say as Chikuwa was abruptly dragged underwater by a water element adaptation of one of the most basic-bitch D-rank ninjutsu in existence.

How utterly fucking humiliating!

Unfortunately, unlike a great many members of Kirigakure's fighting forces, including the vast majority of his own clan, Chikuwa was not well-trained in fighting underwater. He could throw around Suiton jutsu just fine, he had the ability to hold his breath like a goddamned champ just like any other Hoshigaki worth the name, and he could swim just fine and dandy, but he had never gotten the taste for trying to imitate the sharks that were his clan's symbol. When he fought, he liked it to be where he could have both feet firmly planted on the ground as the Rikidō Sennin intended, thank you very much. The main reason for this was…embarrassingly enough…the result of nearly drowning during his early childhood and the trauma having left him with a rather severe distaste for being underwater, something that his utter bastard of a clansmen, Hoshigaki Kisame had never let him live down. The man might have been an utter badass and had well-earned his monikers of 'The Tailed Beast Without a Tail' and the 'The Monster of the Hidden Mist'; but he was also an obnoxious asshole.

Still, he was a jonin and he was dealing with fragile-as-fuck clones of a damned Genin! It took only a moment of focused effort to pop the half-dozen little shits that were trying to drag him under with a single, well-aimed swing of Kiribachi. Even as he started kicking back towards the surface, he caught sight of at least ten more of the damned blonde bastard's clones floating a distance away with their fists drawn back and…were those fucking goddamn dragon heads forming around their fists?!

That did not look good.

With a roar, the Naruclones all punched forwards simultaneously, sending what looked like ten serpentine dragons spiralling towards him through the water. The wind jutsu, because he could practically feel the wind chakra cutting through the water, homed in on him with an unerring accuracy even as he tried to get himself back to the surface so he could get some more distance. In the ended, it was all he could do to twist around and use his Kiribachi to intercept the attacks before they could fully hit him head on.

As Kiribachi shook and rattled in his grasp as it took the brunt of the wind/water dragons' fury, Chikuwa felt even more chakra building up behind him and he quickly craned his neck around to look over his shoulder. Ten more of those goddamned clones (Seriously!? How did a kid have that much chakra and not explode or something?! Uzumaki or not, this was just plain bullshit!) had just finished forming their own handsigns, ending in the Dragon Handsign.

Ten whirlpools suddenly formed in front of each of the wide-spaced clones, each forming a min-maelstrom of rushing currents before they each shot towards Chikuwa. His mind idly noticed that the streams were leaving behind a shit-ton of what looked like flower petals floating in their wake.

'Fuck, this is going to hurt like hell.' he groaned to himself in the instant before the ten surging currents of water slammed into his back.

Outside the edge of the forest's new lake, Naruto ejected himself out of the ground and tree-walked up the side of a thickly-leafed tree. The plan he'd ordered his clones to execute should be coming to a conclusion any second now…

'Wait…what's happening to the water?' the Jinchūriki thought, eyes sharpening as he focused on the water that had engulfed a good portion of the forest. 'Is the water…churning?'

From what he could see, the water near the centre of newly made lake was visibly moving around rather violently, as if multiple currents were colliding just beneath the surface, which, if his plan was working, made a whole lot of sense. Ten simultaneous uses of [Fūton: Hanachiri Mai] colliding head-on with another ten simultaneous uses of [Fūton: Ryūha], hopefully with Hoshigaki Chikuwa in the middle was going to create quite a bit of backlash.

Nodding to himself, Naruto created another forty Shadow Clones and sent them out to start the second stage of his plan.

Quickly leapfrogging among the trees that surrounded the artificial lake's outer edges, the clones quickly got themselves into their assigned positions, positioning themselves around a certain area of the artificial body of water. As they did, Naruto absently concluded that he was likely going to get quite a few new skills and an utter shitload of skill-ups if he managed to survive this fight. Fortunately, a newly discovered aspect of his [Gamer Interface], found just last night actually, had allowed him to set things so those kinds of messages would only show up at the end of a fight.

Once every clone was in position, they immediately began a set of identical handsigns, ending in the Snake Handsign.

"[Raiton: Denkō Sekka]!" twenty identical voices called as one, extending their hands towards the water's edge. Crackling purple electricity ran up their arms before arcing off of them, rapidly condensing and forming into dozens of grapefruit-sized snowflake-like shapes before they shot out into the water, quickly dispersing as their electrical charge was dispersed. And the clones just kept pouring more and more chakra into that particular jutsu, sending in a large, constant stream of electrically-charged chakra shooting into the mass of water.

Now normally, sending a small stream of electricity into such a large body of water would be all but pointless. The electrical charge carried a single flake generated by the [Denkō Sekka] technique was barely worse than a particularly nasty static shock. It was painful and could possibly cause a bit of numbness, but that was it. However, there were two key factors that altered this equation. Firstly, this was not a single burst of electricity, but a full blizzard of hundreds if not thousands of said bursts being generated and released near constantly into the water. Secondly, there was a person in the near-centre of the water that was currently holding onto a very large metal object, which was currently acting much like a lightning rod for all the electricity that was being pumped through the similarly conductive elements in the water. The fact that chakra-generated electricity did not perfectly mirror its natural counterpart, still being partially directed and controlled by the user's will, also aided in this endeavour.

The end result of these changes was a rather large amount of electricity finding its way directly towards the still submerged form of Kiribachi before being channelled down its length and into its most unfortunate wielder.

Chikuwa barely kept from letting out his held breath as annoyingly painful surges of electricity surged down from his sword and into his arm again and again.

'I am going to turn that fucking brat's skull into a fucking chamber pot for this! Wait…why the fuck am I still maintaining this pain in the ass jutsu when he's getting more use out of it than me!?' he realized suddenly. 'Right, that does it. Fuck This NOISE! KAI!'

Outside, Naruto blinked in surprise as the edge of the water formation suddenly burst like a popped balloon, sending the formerly contained water flowing out between the trees, though with far less force then when it was initially released. It was just fortunate for Naruto's plans that physical materials created using a person's chakra didn't normally just dissolve and vanish when the jutsu that created them ended.

Moments later, a loud, enraged bellow came from where Hoshigaki Chikuwa had previously been located.


As all the clones that had been anywhere near the man's position started to rapidly die off, Naruto hurriedly started to make his way through the handsigns for his single most powerful offensive technique.

"Tora, Ushi, Saru, Usagi, Hitsugi, I, Ushi, Uma, Saru, Tora, Inu, Tora, Hebi, Tora, Ushi, Saru, Usagi, Tori!" Naruto chanted under his breath. He'd only used this jutsu once since he acquired it, simply because there was no place that had both enough pre-existing water that he could regularly practice with it and was isolated enough that he could risk throwing it around without wrecking something important or risk accidentally getting catching someone else up in the attack.

Fortunately, he managed to finish the last handsign just as his clones retreated into an area that Naruto could see from his own position while being rapidly pursued and slaughtered by a very angry jonin wielding a very large sword.

"[Suiton: Daibakufu no Jutsu]!" the Konoha Genin hissed the declaration out with narrowed eyes. The best part of Fūton, Doton, and Suiton techniques was that you were able to cut down the chakra cost of a lot of the bigger ones by using pre-existing materials in the environment rather than trying to create them using chakra; even when the actual cost of gathering together said materials offset the discount for larger-scale techniques somewhat. Even with a chakra pool as large as his, Naruto knew he couldn't get away with firing off too many Jutsu at this level without managing to diffuse the chakra costs somehow.

Responding to his chakra, the nearby water rose up from the ground and instantly started gathering together, swirling around and forming into a massive vortex of water that swiftly shot itself straight toward Hoshigaki Chikuwa. The Mist Nuke-nin's eyes were practically bulging out of their sockets in disbelief as he caught sight of a genin throwing around an A-ranked Suiton Jutsu!

"THIS IS UTTER BULLSHITTTTT!" he roared out before he was completely engulfed by the raging torrent of water, which then proceeded to carve a path of utter devastation through the already badly damaged forest, like some jerk god had decided to poke a finger into the earth and drag it across the ground for shits and giggles. The felled trees and what little greenery that hadn't been swept away by Chikuwa's own Bakusui Shōha technique was ripped up and shredded by the unrelenting forced of the Great Waterfall Technique. Unfortunately, several of his clones hadn't been able to clear the area and were unfortunate casualties of the [Daibakufu], but that just couldn't be helped. Dispelling them before it hit would have given Chikuwa too much of a warning about what was coming.

As he fought to catch his breath, Naruto absently brought up the Jutsu page for the technique that he'd just used.

[Suiton: Daibakufu no Jutsu] (Instant) [LV1, 29.99%]

The Water Release: Great Waterfall Technique, despite its name, did not actually originate in Takigakure and was instead originally developed over two hundred years ago in Mizu no Kuni. The exact clan that originally developed it has since been lost to time, but both the Funato and Hōzuki Clans, both native to the region and well-known for their powerful Water Affinities, have laid claim to be the originators of the technique. Whatever the case, in the unknown generations since, it has become a staple among powerful Suiton practitioners across the Elemental Nations. Because it requires extensive amounts of chakra to utilize, it is widely considered foolish for anyone below the rank of Jonin to even attempt to learn this jutsu. The use of pre-existing water can slightly lower this cost, but even then it remains a chakra-intensive technique.

This jutsu can take one of two forms when it its used. The first gathers the water to be used into vortex before firing the rapidly rotating water at target, which adds additional damage to the jutsu. The second is simply gathering a great deal of water together and firing it forward as a single, massive projectile, which makes the technique slightly faster to form and fire. Both forms of this technique will leave the landscape of anything caught in their path looking like it had just been struck by a small tsunami. Even battle-hardened jonin and Kage-level ninja are wary of taking a direct hit from this technique.

- CP Cost (Creating Water): 1155 CP.

- CP Cost: (Pre-Existing Water Manipulation): 1000 CP.

- Vortex Form: Creates a vortex that then launches itself at the enemy and extends [15] meters behind them before ending. Deals [INT times WIS] times DEX damage to any target or object caught in the vortex's path. High chance of several status afflictions as a result of this version successfully making contact. Vortex takes an additional 3 seconds to form before firing,

- Projectile Form: Launches a vast amount of water at the enemy in the form of a projectile, whether from the user's position or from directly above the target. Deals INT time WIS damage, as well as having a chance to inflict paralysis on the target.

The extra time forming the vortex version might have been a risk, but it was well worth the extra damage, especially since Naruto had his clones acting as a distraction to keep his target's attention off him.

Finally feeling like he had caught his breath, Naruto made another forty Shadow Clones and then drew Kogetsu Kyūshiki in anger for the first time. He took just a moment longer to admire the blade before racing forward, tracing the edge of the trench left in the aftermath of his own jutsu, his clones following and flanking him.

"Holy crap, Boss." one clone couldn't help but open its mouth as it goggled at the destruction left in the wake of a single use of his strongest jutsu. "This is fricking scary but also kinda awesome. It kinda bites that we clones can't really use this kind of chakra-heavy jutsu on our own.

"Eh, we'll see if that changes once the Boss manages to max out the [Kage Bunshin no Jutsu]. I bet we'll really be able to kick some ass when that happens." another clone offered with a vicious little grin on its lips.


A sudden, feral bellow cut off any further comments as the enemy jonin exploded out of a pile of downed and broken trees, his face a mask of utter and complete fury even as his body looked like it shouldn't have been able to stand up on its own. His jacket and shirt had been utterly shredded by the previous attack leaving him with only his bandoleer remaining (and even that looked like it was one good tug from falling apart) above the waist and showing off a muscular upper body covered in pale blue skin to all and sundry. Every visible part of him was coated in dozens upon dozens of wounds ranging from small cuts and contusions, to lacerations of every imaginable size, to oddly discoloured and bulging bits of his flesh that Naruto was pretty sure meant that something underneath the skin had been broken. One of his eyes was swollen shut and, most tellingly, there was a branch piercing through the centre of his right arm just below the shoulder, leaving the limb limp and unresponsive even as a heavy stream of blood slowly wept from the injury.

A quick application of [Observe] allowed Naruto to see exactly how much damage his enemy had suffered.

HP: 17123/44415

CP: 127/4500

Special Status: [Impaled Right Arm] (Right Arm is totally unresponsive and cannot be used. Also raises any [Bleeding] Status to an additional severity level.), [Swollen Left Eye] (Unable to see out of afflicted eye, depth perception has been severely compromised causing a malus to perception.), [Severe Bleeding] (Fourth Stage of the [Bleeding] Status effects. Reduces HP by 400-to-500 every thirty seconds until wound is properly tended to or the injured party dies.), [Berserk] (Lowers all Mental stats by 80% to maximum of 20 in exchange for increasing physical stats by half again their total number.)

"Jeez, just how tough is this bastard?" Naruto cursed out. The blue-skinned Nuke-nin had somehow managed to tank an A-rank Jutsu directly to the face and still had over a quarter of his HP remaining? Jonin were just plain scary. How had he even managed to survive that!? 'Wait, his CP is almost empty as well…did he manage to pull out some last-minute jutsu like to try and blunt or counter the impact of my own technique hitting him head on?! How did he manage to do that when he was caught in the middle of a freaking water vortex?! Jeez, Jonin really are something else!'

To add to Naruto's annoyance, the man had also managed to keep a grip on Kiribachi as well, though now he was holding it in his left hand rather than his right for obvious reasons. Whether or not he could still effectively use the massive weapon one-handed, and while using his non-dominant hand to boot, was still up in the air, but Naruto wasn't going to underestimate this guy, not after the sheer resilience he'd just shown off.

"…is he just chopping away at all of the fallen trees right now?" one of the Shadow Clones deadpanned in disbelief as, rather than try and rush them, the enraged Shadow Swordsman of the Mist had instead started to randomly swing his massive blade into the fallen trees around him, smashing and carving them into kindling and splinters.

"Yeah, the light might still be on, but I'm pretty sure that no one is at home up there." Naruto stated flatly. Still, the man would likely snap out of it eventually, so he wasn't about to waste the opportunity that he'd just been presented with. "Time to go in, boys."

"You got a plan, boss?" one clone asked.

"Just one: Attack." the genin grinned ferally. "My way."

Huffing for breath as some of the red finally bled out of his single working eye, Chikuwa glared down at the kindling that had once been several felled trees while muttering a variety of invectives under his breath. How in the name of all the Gods had a goddamned fucking Genin managed to pull off an A-rank Jutsu?! Uzumaki or no Uzumaki, there was no way a brat that young should have reserves that big! Kisame, the biggest chakra monster in existence, didn't even have reserves that big at that age! Hell, even now, Chikuwa himself couldn't pull off a Daibakufu that easily.

To be entirely fair, that was mostly due to the fact that he had still been learning that particular technique when Kisame had turned traitor and made him and the rest of the clan Yagura's latest target of choice, forcing Chikuwa and most of his kinsmen to flee for their lives. And the life of a missing-nin is hard enough without also trying to practice and train with a particularly flashy, expensive, and destructive ninjutsu. But still! It pissed him off to no end that a fucking goddamned GENIN was better at using a jutsu than he was!

The sound of multiple feet racing towards him made Chikuwa's scowl deepen as he whirled around to face the origin of the sound. Just as he'd expected, more damn clones! What the hell was this kid!? Some kind of infinite chakra battery or something?!

Briefly he considered making a run for it. He was in rough shape and he needed to get somewhere safe fast if he wanted to have any hopes of saving his right arm. Then his pride reminded him that he would be running from a genin and he instantly kicked the idea to the curb. No way, he'd rather cut off both of his arms with a dull kunai than ever have to swallow that kind of disgrace.

Raising his sword, Chikuwa pointed Kiribachi at the oncoming swarm of blondes. "I'm going to tear every last one of you to pieces! Take that memory back to your damned creator, you useless little pieces of shit!"

Yes, he was well-aware about the whole 'memory transference' thing that the Kage Bunshin no Jutsu had. The jutsu itself was rather well known as one of the more infamous creations of the Nidaime Hokage, but the most anyone below a seasoned Chūnin would know about it was that it was a stupidly chakra-intensive clone jutsu. Those who got enough seasoning and experience would eventually learn that it was probably the single most useful jutsu for scouting and reconnaissance in existence for those who were actually capable of using it effectively.

"You first!" the clones shouted back in unison as they leapt towards him as a swarm with tantō drawn.

Even down to a single arm, even battered and half-dead like he was, Chikuwa was still a jonin fighting against a genin. There was no way he was going to go down against a bunch of fucking clones!

With a roar of challenge, Chikuwa counter-charged the clone horde with his blade drawn back. He might not have been ambidextrous, but he was still a master swordsman and thus far above the clones in terms of skill even when forced to rely on just his off-hand. And with the added range that Kiribachi gave him, he was able to cut through all of the little bastards before they could get close enough to him to even try and make use of those little knives of theirs.

Which was apparently a very good thing, considering that, once they were closer, he could hear the distinctive low-pitched shriek of the Fūton Chakra Nagashi Jutsu coming from those tantō blades.

Given that the kid's Jonin-sensei was none other than the infamous Smoking Guardian, it honestly didn't surprise him that the kid knew how to use that particular jutsu. All it did was reaffirm his desire to squash all these runts before they could even try and get close enough to try and use the second-sharpest Chakra Nagashi Jutsu on him.

He was already bleeding quite enough, damn it!

The sound of the ground rumbling slightly beneath his feet made Chikuwa pause for just a moment as he cut down the last clone before he rapidly readjusted himself. Sure enough, what he was convinced was the genuine brat himself soon erupted from the ground just a few feet behind him.

"Nice try!" the ninja swordsman roared, twisting himself around and executing a backhanded cut that was aimed at bisecting the little bastard at the waist. As Kiribachi's teeth bit into him a puff of chakra smoke engulfed his body before a loud metallic 'clang' echoed through the air. From the bottom of the smoke, two halves of a very familiar item fell to the ground with a slight thud.

"A…a kunai!?" Chikuwa couldn't believe his eyes. One had to absolutely master the Kawarimi no Jutsu to substitute with anything that had a mass much smaller than the user, one of the reasons logs and dummies were such common targets for the technique. That was the kind of skill level that took years of effort for someone to reach, if one even bothered to take it that far. Just what the hell was this kid, some kind of hidden Jonin in disguise?!

"Up here asshole!" a familiar voice called, turning his attention upward and catching sight of said impossible brat pointing the gauntlet that covered his right arm down at him…

"Karakuri Kote: Kemuridama Ute! (Trick Gauntlet: Smoke Bomb Fire!)"

And less than an instant later, a small ball struck him directly in his already sore and swollen eye, making him howl in pain even as his good eye closed instinctively.

Then the little thing fucking exploded and he was suddenly completely covered in a slate-grey cloud so thick he couldn't see his nose on the end of his face! And he could already hear the faint sound of the Fūton Chakra Nagashi thrumming in the air again! The little bastard thought a half-assed trick like this was going to be enough to take him down!?

"GET REAL!" Chikuwa roared out, his remaining eye going wide and bloodshot as his blood hammered through his veins. He was absolutely done with this fucking bullshit fight! He could clearly remember where the little pissant had been standing before he blinded him and he was a fucking Kiri ninja, he'd been trained to fight by ear in the endless mists of Kirigakure itself since his days as a fucking Academy student! As soon as he heard that little bastard's feet hit the ground, he was done for!

A heartbeat passed, then another, then another and then the sudden sharp snap of twig being stepped on triggered the tension in Chikuwa's body! With a wordless roar, he swung out toward the location of the sound, making the rookie mistake of overextending himself in his blind anger, but still feeling completely satisfied as he felt his blade connect…until he heard the now familiar poof of a clone being dispelled.

God-fucking-damn it all!

"[Fūton Chakra Nagashi: Dantō]!" a voice that he was truly starting to hate shouted from directly behind him. The low shriek of the Chakra Nagashi Jutsu instantly changed into an ear-splitting roar as the fucking smoke was finally dispersed, allowing Chikuwa to turn his head and catch sight of what was happening behind him as he fought to regain his footing. His eyes instantly locked onto the blonde brat swinging a massive wind sword the size of Kiribachi down at him! And he was still only halfway recovered from his swing, so there was no way he could dodge in time.

'I have to block it!' the Nuke-nin thought in a desperate panic, half-turning and attempting to interpose Kiribachi in between himself and the incoming sword attack, but only managing to partially succeed. A single tooth managed to intersect with the wind sword and was quickly shorn in half as the blade continued its descent unhindered, sheering his left arm off at the elbow and sending his forearm and hand, still clutching desperately at Kiribachi's hilt, to fall to the ground with a dull thump.

"…!?" Even in his own mind, Chikuwa was left in utter, dumbfounded shock as he stared at the stump that his arm had been reduced to. On the left ironically enough. Then, white hot rage quickly washed away the pain and shock away. For a Missing-nin, losing a limb was as good as a death sentence, even more than it would be for a normal Village shinobi. Without both hands a ninja would lose the ability to form handsigns and, unless they'd already mastered the extremely difficult and time-consuming art of learning to form seals one-handed, would thus lose all access to two of the main tools of a ninja's trade: ninjutsu and genjutsu.

"I am going to murder you, you damned little fuck!" he snarled out at the blonde bastard, whose Fūton technique was quickly dispersing. "I don't care if I have to rip out your throat with my teeth, I am going to make you regret ever being fucking born!"

"Oh yeah? Come over here and prove it then, tough guy." the Uzumaki brat snarked back with a cocky smirk on his face, brandishing the kodachi as he assumed a balanced ready stance.

Snarling in utter rage, Chikuwa twisted his neck and ripped the topmost of his Kirigakure kunai out of his bandolier with his teeth. The action was too much for the abused garment, causing it to rip and fall apart, leaving him naked save for his tattered shinobi trousers and sandals. With a chomp of his teeth to adjust his 'grip', the Nuke-nin glowered at the brat that had cost him both his life as a ninja and his pride as a swordsman. Even if he was likely going to die today, he was damned sure going to drag this brat down to hell with him if it was the last thing he did!

Naruto activated the [Fūton Chakra Nagashi], causing a pale blue aura to appear around Kogetsu Kyūshiki's blade once more even as the distinctive wind-shriek became audible again. This battle was just about over and only one of them was going to be walking away from it, and Naruto intended it to be him.

Chikuwa moved first, knowing that he was bleeding out and wanting to be damned sure he at least gutted this little bastard before he fell, and charged forwards with a muffled roar of anger. Even with both of his arms either crippled or completely gone, he was still a ninja and he could still stab a bastard with a kunai or stomp their skull into paste with his legs!

"[Tora Gari]!"

But then, in between one second and the next, Chikuwa was barely able to catch sight of a blur of motion moving past him and then, thanks in no small part to the debilitating injuries he'd suffered and the already lethal levels of blood loss he'd sustained, he was just able to hear one final phrase…

"[Ansatsujutsu: Zanshuzan]!"

Then there was a dull flare pain in his neck and the world started to spin. Then he was looking up at his own decapitated body as it collapsed forward, blood weakly fountaining from his headless neck for a brief instant.

'Little…fucker…!' Hoshigaki Chikuwa, formerly a Jonin of Kirigakure no Sato, still refused to admit defeat even as he watched his own body fall dead to the ground. 'I won't…stop…I'll...get…you…!'

Then darkness crept over his vision as he finally left the mortal coil.


Next Chapter: Giant Killer Naruto