Disclaimer: Naruto and all the characters in this story are owned by Masashi Kishimoto.

Author's Note: I had to go back and make one plot change in Chapter 9, right near the end. Jiraya cannot stay on Mount Myōboku and train with Naruto all month long. The Hokage already knows about the invasion plans due to Kabuto's capture and torture, so he needs Jiraya to investigate with his spy network, and Jiraya's spy network cannot be managed remotely like Naruto's can. Ergo, the message Hiruzen sends to Jiraya via Naruto's clone asks the hippie to come to the Hokage's office for this purpose.

Also, I've decided to go back and change Might Guy's name to surname first, and say Rock Lee's name the same way. Their names just sound better that way. Maybe that's why the English dubs and Narutopedia say it that way rather than switching it to the Western order like everybody else's names.

Chapter 10: Basics Kill

"Auntie, I did it! I did it!" shouted Naruto, appearing along the road Tsunade, Shizune, Karin and Tauntaun were currently walking on.

"Naruto?" asked Tsunade, stopping her stride. "What did you do?"

"I learned the Mystical Palm jutsu!"

"You finally trained your chakra control fine enough to do it?"

"Nope!" grinned Naruto. "I learned Senjutsu, and when I'm in Sage Mode I get a big increase in chakra control, which is enough to use medical techniques."

"Show me," requested Tsunade.

Naruto produced a single shadow clone, handed it a scroll, and sat cross-legged on the ground and meditated. After twenty seconds, orange eye-shadows appeared around his eyes and he opened his eyelids, showing yellow eyes with bar pupils like a toad.

"Whoa! It's like you almost disappeared," said Karin, who had been trying to feel what Naruto was doing with her sensory abilities.

"Is that your Sage Mode?" asked Shizune.

"Yup, this is Sage Mode!" said Naruto. "Ready!"

The clone unsealed a limp fish from the scroll and held it out in front of Naruto. Naruto quickly made the hand seals for the Mystical Palm jutsu, and when his hands started glowing green, held them over the fish. A few seconds later it began to wiggle.

Tsunade quickly activated her own Mystical Palm and touched the fish to examine what Naruto was doing. "Decent for a beginner," she said. "A bit crude, you're using too much chakra and I wouldn't let you anywhere near a human with that technique until you're a lot better, but it looks like I now have two new students."

"Yes!" exclaimed Naruto, jumping up and pumping a fist in the air. "Wait… Karin too? Sorry, I haven't caught up with you in a month."

Tsunade nodded. "Her chakra control is nearly perfect and she has a mind for medical knowledge as well as the interest. I'll teach her."

"Congratulations Karin! And thanks Auntie."

"Thanks Naruto," said Karin.

"Um, Auntie, you don't mind if I accelerate my training with Shadow Clones, do you? I've already used them to read all the medical books I can get my hands on."

"No, that's fine," said Tsunade, rolling her eyes. "I know you're crazy about Shadow Clones, and you can't travel with us constantly anyway, so you'll need them to keep up with Karin."

"Shadow Clones? What do you mean by accelerating your training?" asked Karin.

Naruto, still in Sage Mode, looked at Karin for a moment. "You'll need to build your chakra capacity at least five times over before it's safe for you to make a Shadow Clone. They're solid clones that transfer their knowledge and experience back to you when they dispel, so they're extremely useful for learning pretty much anything." He looked at Shizune for a moment. "You and Shizune have chakra heavily tilted towards the Yin side, so you would both benefit from doing a lot more physical exercise. That will increase your chakra regeneration rate pretty quickly, and your reserves along with it. Just remember to keep doing those control exercises or your control will start to degrade as your capacity grows."

"Yin side? As in spiritual chakra?" asked Karin.

"Yup! Well, spiritual energy, not chakra, also known as mental energy. You know, when mixed with physical energy it produces chakra. You and Shizune have obviously using your minds a lot, so you have lots of Yin energy. All you need to do is increase your Yang energy, or physical energy, and you'll have a lot more chakra in general."

"You can actually tell that with your sensory ability?"

"Nope, that's Sage Mode again!"

Karin thought for a moment, then asked worriedly, "Yin and Yang also have another meaning besides spiritual and physical: female and male. If I increase my Yang chakra, it's not going to turn me into a tomboy, is it?"

Shizune and Tsunade burst into laughter.

Naruto just declared, "Better a tomboy than a fangirl! Even if it was hilarious to see the way Shikamaru reacted when you kissed him."

Karin turned red and punched him in the face. It didn't do anything except make her knuckles hurt, considering that Naruto was still in Sage Mode.

"That's the spirit!" said Naruto. "We'll make you into a tomboy yet!"

– CS –

"Alright," said Naruto, sitting on his couch in his hideout. "It's been a full month since I was able to do this, and tomorrow's the day of the Chūnin Exam Finals, so we need to do this now. Report."

The Whirlwind Postal head clone went first.

"We've successfully opened a Whirlwind office in Wave. Profits are low there, as the citizens are cautious of shipping companies, but we're getting good PR because we don't try to influence anything outside of our office location. The office in the Land of Vegetables is making a killing, because we've managed to secure an exclusive contract for delivering vegetables grown on the Daimyo's lands to all foreign customers for the next eight years.

"Overall profits are up again as usual, we're richer than Gato ever was and there's no sign of stopping.

"The Hokage's Chūnin investigator tried to get hired at the Konoha office and we turned him down as expected, but he continued to look into us. All of our 'employees' in Konoha have deep-cover personalities and histories, which he did look into and found nothing, but sooner or later Gramps is going to forget about covert investigations, come into the office in person, and straight-out ask about the owners. We need to figure out what our next steps will be for that.

"Finally, I'm going to recommend that, we actually start hiring real people to man the offices where we receive packages to send out. Your month-long hiatus strained the clone network, even though you sent clones with chakra storage seals halfway through. And the more Whirlwind offices we add, the more chakra we will require."

"Okay, got it," said Naruto, closing his eyes and taking in the summary for a few moments, so as to more easily understand the influx of memories he was about to receive. "Dispel."

After a few minutes of much-needed meditation to process a month's worth of clone memories, Naruto re-created the Whirlwind clone and applied the durability seal that allowed him to function without getting popped at the first injury. Then Naruto handed over a stack of chakra storage seals, and the man dressed in the delivery-uniform left, his orders already in his head.


The apprentice clone stepped forward and reported. The apprentices, students of various trades and arts, each had their own personalities and appearances, some of them rather colorful, but the head was a girl named Yui. She created all the other apprentice clones and their memories returned only to her due to a bit of Fuinjutsu Naruto had created, and from her to Naruto only when she dispelled. He didn't immediately re-spawn her, because he wanted to wait for the information from the last two reports first.

Then the spy clone reported.

"Everything is happening around the Chūnin Exam Finals," said the figure covered from head to toe in black. "Orochimaru and Oto will attack with the aid of Sand. Danzo will make his move after the finals are over. And Project Whirlpool is prepared to execute as ordered tomorrow, when all eyes are on the tournament.

"To go into a bit more detail: Kabuto Yakushi was broken out of the T&I department cells a week after his capture by a disguised intruder who was most likely Orochimaru himself. The Kazekage was killed by Orochimaru and Kabuto four days ago, and Orochimaru has disguised himself as the Kage and will attend the Chūnin Exam tournament in his place. Homura and Koharu have been slowly spreading their rumor campaign among people directly connected to the Civilian Council, and Danzo has completed the preparations you know he was planning.

"As planned, we are taking subtle revenge on Homura and Koharu, but doing nothing to actually counter their actions."

"And what's the progress on the Kiri civil war?" asked Naruto.

"They're kind of moving in circles," said the spy clone. "Avoiding Yagura's troops, occasionally attacking an outpost, but they don't seem to have the power to actually take him out right now. Zabuza and his apprentice did join up with them two weeks ago."

Naruto nodded. "Dispel."

The spy clone did so, and after meditating for twenty minutes, Naruto recreated the spy clone and the apprentice clone, and created a training clone, as his group of training clones had slowly run out completely over the last month while he was at Mount Myōboku.

"Alright. Fastest thing first. Training, keep working on reducing the time it takes to enter Sage Mode and increasing the time we can keep it running. Practice the Frog Kata and find out if we can mix it with any other styles. And we won't wait for Auntie Tsunade to teach us medical techniques, we'll learn them from scrolls and go to her when we need help or run out of techniques that are written on scrolls.

"Now for the invasion: Gramps is making preparations to defend Konoha, but we need to protect the people precious to us. Here's what we're going to do…"

Naruto and his clones discussed plans for the next hour before the clones left to make preparations, and Naruto left for the comfortable bedroom beside his office and fell asleep for the night.

– CS –

The crowd waited in anticipation for the tournament participants and the proctor to arrive.

"YOSH!" shouted Gai. "Kakashi, my eternal rival, what brings you here on time today?"

"Oh, you know, got tired of dealing with the brooding emo for a month, sent him home yesterday and told him to rest up." Kakashi was, of course, reading his Icha Icha book, but was apparently watching the arena at the same time.

"A brooding emo?" said Asuma. "That's ironic, considering you used to be one. Still are, by some standards."

"Please. I've never been anywhere near as bad as Sasuke. He's got a superiority complex AND an inferiority complex, for Kami's sake. Both of them incredibly strong. And he doesn't even take up a useful habit to distract him, like training or Icha Icha. He just… broods."

"Icha Icha is NOT a useful habit," said Kurenai, glaring at Kakashi.

Kakashi ignored Kurenai's objection and looked down at the arena. The crowd cheered as the participants walked the tournament arena along with the Jōnin who was proctoring the finals, Genma Shiranui.

Except Naruto. Where was Naruto?

Then, as they reached the center of the arena, small fireworks started to go off near the group. Everyone turned to look at the sound of crackling and the sight of brightly-colored sparks flying in broad daylight, the gunpowder explosions producing a small cloud of smoke.

Then the fireworks stopped, and out of the smoke appeared Naruto in all his glory, wearing his orange jumpsuit.

"Naruto Uzumaki has arrived!" he announced, one finger pointing in the air. "So, how do you guys like my new Shunshin?"

"It's stupid, just like everything else you do, dead-last," said Sasuke.

"Hey! I bet you can't even do a Shunshin!" objected Naruto, pretending to be offended.

"Hn," said Sasuke. He turned up his nose, not wanting to admit that it was true.

Lee disagreed with Sasuke. "It is a most Youthful Shunshin, Naruto!" he said, giving Naruto two thumbs up.

Up in the audience, Kakashi said, "Trust Naruto to do something completely unique."

"Yosh! I must agree with Lee!" bellowed Guy. "It is a most Youthful Shunshin. I shall have to ask Naruto if I can adopt it myself!" He thought for a moment, his hand on his chin, then added, "Perhaps with green fireworks to represent the color of Youth!"

Kakashi sighed.

After a short speech by the Hokage and a standard dog-and-pony show, the competitors moved to a special box where they would watch the tournament whenever they weren't actually fighting.

"The first match will be between Tenten Higurashi and Shino Aburame!" announced Genma.

– CS –

Tenten was prepared. Her specialties were weapons and Fuinjutsu. Well… Naruto would have called her an amateur, one-dimensional Fuinjutsu user, considering that the only thing she did with it was create sealing scrolls, but she did manage to seal a few things besides weapons in her scrolls, some of which required fairly advanced uses of Fuinjutsu.. She was also a very decent Taijutsu fighter, an inescapable result of having Guy as her sensei.

And she had a plan for Shino, whom she knew for a fact had spent the entire month at the Aburame compound learning Aburame clan insect techniques. Tenten had, after all, managed to manipulate her teammate Neji into spying on Shino for her. Neji was STILL humiliated after losing so quickly in the preliminaries to the dead last of the class below him, so manipulating him wasn't that hard.

Unfortunately for Tenten, she was up against Shino Aburame, who had secretly trained with Naruto for the last four years.

Shino being Shino, there was no pre-match banter. Tenten started the match by jumping away from Shino and throwing a handful of four kunai at him to test the waters. All four, of course, were on target, flying at different parts of Shino's body.

Shino caught all four kunai and threw them back.

Shit. Only Guy-sensei would have been able to catch all four so easily. This guy is dangerous!

Easily dodging the returned kunai, Tenten decided to take it up three notches rather than just one. She pulled out two scrolls that she had been practicing with a great deal over the last month, placed them beside herself, and quickly did five hand signs.

"Rising Twin Dragons!" shouted Tenten, leaping high into the air. Her scrolls unrolled, spiraling around her, and she unsealed hundreds and hundreds of weapons of every kind, throwing them at Shino rapid-fire.

Every fourth weapon had a lit exploding tag connected to it.

Shino made three hand-seals and silently erected a basic Earth Wall. As the exploding tags first damaged, then destroyed his wall, he threw down a smoke bomb and disappeared.

Ending her technique once she was out of weapons, Tenten examined the mostly-destroyed wall from afar. Deciding that he was hiding behind the wall, Tenten ran in a wide arc around it, looking for Shino and hoping to re-engage at range.

Suddenly the ground burst open in front of her and Shino attacked at close range with a kunai.

Tenten reflexively blocked with her own kunai.

Shino released a massive cloud of Kikaichu which immediately swarmed Tenten. And that was the end of the fight.

The crowd cheered as Genma announced Shino as the winner.

– CS –

The proctor, Genma, called for the next match. "Choji Akimichi vs. Shikamaru Nara!"

Shikamaru groaned. He looked at Choji. Then he looked at Naruto.

"I forfeit!" said Shikamaru.

"WHAT?!" That was Ino, storming over to the competitors' box to give Shikamaru a piece of her mind.

"Shikamaru? Are you sure?" asked Choji.

"Yeah. I don't want to fight you, that would be a drag. Naruto will give you a chance to show your skills when you fight him. Ino is going to be troublesome, but if I fight, there's a risk that they'll make me a Chūnin, which would be beyond troublesome."

Naruto laughed. That was so like Shikamaru.

Temari took offense. "How do you know I'm not going to beat Naruto?" she demanded.

Shikamaru groaned and rubbed his temples. "Troublesome blonde."

Temari scowled at him.

Genma announced, "Winner by forfeit, Choji Akimichi!"

Then Ino arrived. "SHIKAMARU, YOU LAZY BASTARD!" she shouted. "HOW DARE YOU FORFEIT!" She pounded him on the head with a hammer fist, smashing him onto the ground.

Shikamaru groaned again. "Even more troublesome blonde."

"Next fight: Naruto Uzumaki vs. Temari Sabaku!"

– CS –

Temari jumped on her fan and glided down to the arena, then placed her fan on her back.

Naruto used his fireworks Shunshin to get down to the arena.

"Uchiha was right. Your Shunshin is stupid." taunted Temari.

"Hey! My Shunshin is awesome! I bet no one else has ever seen a fireworks Shunshin before!"

"Riiiight. Because it's oh-so-stealthy." Sarcasm dripped from Temari's voice.

"It's not supposed to be stealthy. It's supposed to be awesome!" said Naruto.

"Well it's not."

"Really? Do you think I should change it? Maybe one big firework instead of a bunch of little ones, or maybe I should add some firecrackers to make it louder?"

Temari's eyebrow twitched. "Proctor, start the match so I can beat some sense into this idiot."

"Uzumaki, are you ready?" asked Genma.

"I'm always ready!" said Naruto, grinning.

"Then begin!"

"So you're a wind user, right?" asked Naruto, making no move to actually start the fight. "What with the fan and being from Wind Country and everything."

"And your element is fire, isn't it? I saw your clones using all those fireballs last month."

Naruto smirked, remembering the time he and Gaara had played Godzilla with a sand version of the Village Hidden in the Sand, and he had created shadow clones to defend. "And fire trumps wind."

Temari jumped back to create some distance. Then she ran through four hand-seals and shouted, "Suiton: Suidan no Jutsu! (Water Release: Water Bullets!)"

Water welled up from beneath the floor of the arena as Temari drew on the groundwater. It instantly formed into large globs of water, which hovered in the air and shot at Naruto.

"Since you're a fire user, I spent the last month working on my secondary affinity of water!" said Temari.

"Cool!" said Naruto. He dodged this way and that to avoid the water bullets. "No pun intended. It doesn't seem to be doing much good, though." He was dodging without much difficulty.

Temari grabbed her fan and swung it, adding a blast of air behind the bullets and speeding them up. In an impressive display of control, she kept her water bullets going; her fan automatically converted chakra to Wind-natured chakra, so it didn't require her to do to elemental transformations at once. She couldn't produce cutting wind this way, but it was still a one-person combination Ninjutsu.

"Yikes! What do I do? What do I do?" Naruto frantically dodged and back-pedaled. "Oh wait! I have the perfect jutsu for this!" Reaching into his kunai pouch, he pulled out a large firework and used it to obscure his Shunshin, the firework exploding with a loud BANG and shooting fizzling sparklers all over the place.

Temari frowned and stopped her Water Bullet technique. She swiped her fan powerfully, blowing away the cloud of smoke. Naruto was gone.

"Hmm… maybe it's stealthy after all," said Naruto from behind her, making Temari whirl around. He had come out of his Shunshin without setting off another firework, simply appearing in a silent puff of smoke, and now he was finishing a set of hand seals. "Katon: Gokakyu no Jutsu! (Fire Release: Great Fireball no Jutsu!)"

A large fireball, about four meters in diameter, flew at Temari, forcing her to dodge quickly.

"See Sasuke, I can use fireballs too! Hah!" shouted Naruto, ignoring his fight and pointing at Sasuke in the competitors' box.

Sasuke glared back and growled. That was his signature technique!

Farther up in the stands, Sakura, who was of course watching Sasuke rather than the actual fight, screamed, "NARUTO! HOW DARE YOU STEAL SASUKE'S TECHNIQUE!"

Her voice was heard loudly all over the arena. Orochimaru chuckled under the Kazekage's hat, wondering whether he should try to suborn Sakura for the Sound Village, since she was so talented at making noise. It wouldn't be too hard once he had the Uchiha.

Temari tried to take advantage of Naruto's distraction by swiping her fan and sending a strong blast of cutting wind at him. It was the only Ninjutsu attack she had that she could fire off so quickly.

Naruto just stood there, ignoring the wind. Not even his hair was ruffled.

"Sorry, I'm just a basic Academy clone," said 'Naruto'. "The real me used a Kawarimi right after shooting off that fireball and left me here. I'm using a voice-throwing technique to make it seem like the clone is talking."

The clone was actually moving its mouth and gesturing as Naruto spoke, which showed good control of the basic Academy clone technique. Temari had to look at its feet and confirm the absence of a shadow before she was sure that it was really a clone.

She spun in a circle, using all her senses to scan for Naruto. Unfortunately, Temari did not have any natural talent for sensing chakra, and being a Genin, she hadn't trained in it yet.

"Wondering where I am, are you?" said 'Naruto' rhetorically.

Temari ignored him. Can't be underground, or he wouldn't be able to throw his voice. Not in sight… just in case, I'd better… "Kai!"

"Nope, not using Genjutsu," said 'Naruto'.

He must be in the trees, decided Temari. She suddenly took a running leap into the air and used her fan to glide toward the trees. Still in mid-air, she swung her fan with all three sections open, producing a massive blast of wind filled with cutting blades, slicing off branches and leaves and cutting down several trees entirely. "Kamaitachi no Jutsu! (Sickle Weasel Technique!)"

"Nope, not in the trees!" called 'Naruto', cupping his hands around his mouth as if to make his voice carry further.

"I'm getting tired of your commentary!" shouted Temari. She landed on the ground, pulled out a kunai and threw it at the clone.

The clone dodged. "Ha! You're getting rid of me that easily!" He blew a raspberry.

Temari stomped over to the clone.

Up in the audience stands, Kakashi quietly remarked, "Big mistake, Suna nin."

The clone grinned stupidly she swung her closed fan at it.

Naruto caught the fan.

Suddenly she realized that the 'clone' had a shadow again. Naruto had switched back with the clone while she was looking away.

"Gotcha!" shouted Naruto. Wrenching Temari's fan away from her with both hands, he kicked her in the stomach, sending her flying back five meters.

As Temari rose to her feet, coughing to get her breath back, Naruto opened the fan and examined it. "Nice fan," he said. "Looks a bit worn. Is this an heirloom?"

Temari was pissed. She stomped toward Naruto and growled, "Give. Me. Back. My. FAN!"

She assumed, of course, that he couldn't wield it. Another big mistake.

Naruto swung the open fan and channeled Wind-natured chakra into it, producing a simple, powerful blast of wind that blew Temari off her feet and sent her flying, much like a Fūton: Daitoppa (Wind Release: Great Breakthrough). He whistled. "Very efficient. This was obviously made by a master."

Then he closed the fan and quickly sealed it into a scroll, tucking it into the pouch on his leg. It looked like the final part of the fight had finally begun.

From the dust cloud that Temari had produced when she smashed into the ground came a blast of killing intent. It was rather intense for a Genin or even a Chūnin; Temari had spent a lot of time around her brother Gaara, who was constantly leaking demonic chakra and killing intent, so she was quite familiar with it and had managed to develop her own.

"Oooh, scary!" taunted Naruto. "Whatcha gonna do now, got any more elemental Jutsu?"

Temari charged and attacked him with Taijutsu. She was taller and older than Naruto, so it would be a logical deduction that she had a good chance against him – or it would have been, had she been calm enough to think about it. In any case, that was her third and final big mistake.

Naruto was stronger, faster, and more skilled. He utterly defeated her using basic Konoha Academy Taijutsu; he moved faster and hit harder than any Academy student could, of course, but he didn't use any special moves. He soon knocked out Temari with a concussion-inducing punch to the temple.

There was scattered applause from the crowd as Genma announced Naruto as the winner, but for the most part the civilians just sat in sullen silence.

Naruto pulled out the scroll containing Temari's fan and laid it by her side as the medics approached. "That's her fan. Give it to her when she wakes up, will you?" Then he walked back to the competitors' box.

– CS –

Up in the audience, Kakashi pulled his headband over his Sharingan again. "Waste of chakra, pulling out my Sharingan," he grumbled.

"Why did you use your Sharingan anyway?" asked Asuma. "Surely you didn't expect Sabaku to move fast enough for you to need it."

"It wasn't Sabaku I was watching, it was Naruto."

"Naruto?" said Asuma disbelievingly. "I mean, it's impressive that he won, but he was the dead-last of his academy class."

"That was apparently a deception. You didn't see him take out an A-ranked missing nin in the blink of an eye," stated Kakashi.

"Shino did say Naruto was hiding his strength, but an A-ranked missing nin, really? Who was it?" asked Kurenai.

"Zabuza Momochi."

"The Demon of the Bloody Mist? One of their Seven Swordsmen? No way. You're joking." said Asuma.

"Apparently you had to see it to believe it."

"Do not underestimate Naruto Uzumaki! He is even more hip and cool than Kakashi!" That was Guy's contribution to the conversation.

"Well I wouldn't say that," said Kakashi, pulling out his Icha Icha again. "In any case, watch Naruto closely in his next matches. He didn't use anything more than basics in this fight, but if he gets serious, you could blink and miss everything."

– CS –

When Naruto returned to the competitors' box, he received congratulations from Choji and Lee, as well as Tenten, who had returned to the box after waking up thanks to a chakra infusion from the medics and a soldier pill. Shino and Shikamaru took it as a matter of course, the former giving Naruto a nod and the latter just twisting one side of his mouth up in a lazy smirk. Sasuke turned his nose up and ignored Naruto.

Gaara glared at him. Was that concern for his sister? Or was he just glaring at everybody? Did it have something to do with the coming invasion? In any case, Naruto just raised an eyebrow at him and took a seat, not engaging since Gaara obviously wasn't in the mood for chatting. For some reason glaring was all he had done today, even when Naruto greeted him before the first match.

"The next match is Rock Lee vs. Sasuke Uchiha!" announced Genma.

As Lee ran down to the arena enthusiastically and Sasuke strolled down the stairs coolly, Naruto said, "Sasuke's going to get crushed again."

"Are you sure?" asked Shikamaru. "I heard that he unlocked his Sharingan last month. And now Sasuke knows not to underestimate Lee."

"Yup, I'm sure. Lee is going to make things interesting, but Sasuke doesn't stand a chance."

– CS –

"Don't think that this fight is going to go the same way as our last," said Sasuke arrogantly. "I've unlocked my Sharingan now, and there is no way you can ever beat an Uchiha with a Sharingan." To emphasize, he activated his bloodline limit, his red eyes showing two tomoe in each eye. Kakashi had pushed him over the last month, showing him how to enhance his muscles with chakra, then sparring with him at high speed to push the limits of his perception.

"YOSH!" shouted Lee, bouncing up and down. "Guy-sensei taught me how to fight against the Sharingan! Let's have a good match!"

"Hn. You're as big of an idiot as Naruto. The Sharingan is invincible, only an Uchiha can beat an Uchiha."

"Are you both ready?" asked Genma, not wanting this to go on further.

"Ready, proctor!"


"Then begin!"

Lee immediately fixed his eyes on Sasuke's feet and charged at him. Sasuke pulled out a kunai and swiped at Lee. Lee dodged it and attempted a leg sweep. Sasuke jumped over that and threw his kunai at Lee, who twisted out of the way, his ears attuned to the sound of flying kunai thanks to his teammate Tenten.

Both of them ignored the "SQUEE! GO SASUKE!" from Sakura up in the stands. Lee had apparently taken Guy's advice concerning his crush, and ignoring his fangirls was old hat for Sasuke.

Their Taijutsu match went on for about five minutes, during which neither Genin obtained the advantage. There was a lot of dodging, a few hits, but nothing consequential, and very little blocking. Finally Sasuke used a Kawarimi with a rock and made some distance, having decided that he couldn't beat Lee in Taijutsu.

In another world, Sasuke might have had a somewhat unhealthy rivalry with Naruto, both of them driving the other to make progress, and Sasuke might have forced Lee to drop his weights. However, Naruto saw no reason to reveal his true strength to Sasuke, much less see Sasuke as an equal and therefore a potential rival. Thus, Sasuke retained his delusions and was simply weaker than he could have been.

Now Sasuke decided to bring out some Ninjutsu. "Katon: Gokakyu no Jutsu! (Fire Release: Great Fireball!)"

– CS –

By this point, Temari had regained consciousness thanks to a medic healing her concussion and returned to the competitors' box. After glaring at Naruto, then thanking him for returning her fan, she sat down and watched the match.

Now Temari looked at Sasuke's fireball critically and said, "Naruto's was bigger."

"Ouch, Sasuke's not going to be happy to hear that," said Choji, munching his chips. "The Great Fireball jutsu is a point of pride for an Uchiha."

"Yup!" agreed Naruto. "And what's even crazier is that Sasuke thinks the jutsu belongs to him because he's an Uchiha, so he's mad that I can even use it."

"Really, he thinks that?" said Temari. "I thought that was just his fangirl screaming."

"Oh yeah, he's that arrogant," confirmed Naruto. "And that fangirl? She's our teammate."

– CS –

Lee dodged the fireball and took off at high speed in the direction it was launched from, still keeping his eyes near the ground and watching for threats with his peripheral visions in order to avoid catching Sasuke's eyes.

Sasuke decided to deal with this threat by launching a "Katon: Hosenka no Jutsu (Fire Release: Phoenix Sage Fire)," a volley of small fireballs that could be aimed individually and were launched in quick succession. An advanced user could actually alter the direction of the flames after they were launched, but Sasuke was not yet at that level.

Lee dodged them all and continued closing with Sasuke, who did another Kawarimi to get away, this time replacing himself with a chunk of tree from the grove Temari had damaged earlier with her wind jutsu.

Sasuke decided to try wire techniques to limit Lee's mobility. He hastily threw a number of kunai with wires attached between several trees, counting on his Sharingan to be able to see the wires himself, then fired another Hosenka no Jutsu at Lee and waited for him to approach.

Sure enough, Lee soon came charging at Sasuke again, and they resumed their fight, bounding between tree trunks and branches.

Sasuke managed to trap Lee in a few wires, tying his legs together and tripping him on the ground. He fired a "Katon: Ryuka no Jutsu (Fire Release: Dragon Fire)" at Lee where he lay trapped, shooting flames from his mouth at Lee like a mythical dragon's fire.

"YOSH!" shouted Lee, seeing his danger. "I shall prevail with the Power of Youth!"

He strained his muscles and jerked from side to side. Kunai popped out of trees. Sasuke was yanked off balance by the wires he was holding in his hand. And three of the wires snapped.

Lee rolled out of the way of the flames and quickly untangled himself from the rest of the wires. "That was a good trap," he said, "but it will not work again!" He grabbed a thick, fallen tree trunk and swung it at the tree Sasuke was standing in.

Sasuke's tree broke and started falling. He leaped to another tree to avoid it when it fell. Lee whirled his tree trunk and swung it toward Sasuke.

What followed was a chase through the grove as Lee rampaged through it, knocking down trees with his massive makeshift weapon, while Sasuke fled and tried to come up with a way to counter this new threat.

Finally breaking out of the trees, Sasuke used a Kawarimi with a rock on the other side of the arena to escape. Lee followed him out of the treeline, his tree-trunk weapon having slowly lost bits and pieces and finally splintered in half.

As Lee carefully scanned the arena, trying not to catch Sasuke's Sharingan eyes, Sasuke decided to try something else. He made nine hand seals and gathered lightning chakra in his right hand. The jutsu made a chirping sound as it sparked off his hand, and he gripped his right arm above the elbow with his left hand.

– CS –

Up in the stands, Kakashi groaned.

"Kakashi, how could you teach him that technique?" accused Guy.

"I didn't," said Kakashi. "The brat stole it off me when I was making a point. He can't even use it properly. It leaves burns on his arm and he can't use it more than once a day due to the chakra requirements. I ordered him not to use it except to protect his friends and village, but as you can see, he's a selfish little shit."

"I see. Well, I suppose Lee is just going to have to stop holding back," said Guy.

– CS –

As Sasuke began charging towards Lee, the chirping-birds sound of his Chidori alerted Lee to his location, and Lee immediately saw him moving over twice as fast as he had before.

The spandex-clad boy grinned so widely that the sunlight glinted off his teeth.

Then he dropped his weights.

Then he disappeared in a burst of speed.

He's even faster than Kakashi! thought Sasuke, tracking Lee with his Sharingan in alarm.

Sasuke was completely unable to do anything as Lee approached at full throttle and roundhouse-kicked him across the gut, ignoring the Chidori because Sasuke was practically moving in slow-motion compared to Lee's speed. Coughing up a few drops of blood, Sasuke flew toward the arena wall, his Chidori dissipating in mid-flight.

Then Lee's weights hit the ground, creating a two-meter wide crater and sinking deep into the packed dirt floor.

Sasuke crashed into the concrete arena wall, cracking it, and immediately fell to the ground. When Genma checked on him, he was unconscious.

"Winner by knockout, Rock Lee!"

There were gasps throughout the crowd. They couldn't believe the vaunted Last Uchiha had lost to a no-name ninja like Rock Lee.

The medics carried Sasuke off with broken ribs, internal bleeding, and a concussion. He wouldn't be getting out of the hospital for hours.

– CS –

When Lee had finished his victory lap, dug his weights out of the dirt, and returned to the competitors' box, Genma announced the next match.

"Shino Aburame vs. Gaara Sabaku!"

Gaara Shunshined down to the arena in a swirl of sand. Shino decided to Shunshin also, vanishing in a puff of smoke and reappearing fifteen meters away from Gaara in the middle of the arena.

When Genma started the match, Shino immediately jumped backwards, running through handseals. He knew something about Gaara's fighting style thanks to seeing him crush another team in the Forest of Death during the second exam, but he needed to probe more.

"Mother will have your blood!" said Gaara bloodthirstily. He reached out his hand and his sand surged forward at Shino from his gourd.

Shino silently cast a Doton: Doryuso no Jutsu (Earth Release: Earth Flow Spears). Spikes formed out of the earth at an angle and attempted to skewer Gaara.

A partial sphere of sand flowed around Gaara from his gourd and partially from the attack that was already reaching toward Shino. This had the effect of slowing the sand attack, but it blocked the rock spears solidly, causing their tips to shatter.

Shino used a Shunshin to move halfway across the arena.

Gaara immediately started walking toward him. "You cannot escape!" he said. "I will prove my existence by killing you!"

– CS –

"Prove his existence by killing?" repeated Naruto, frowning. "Temari, where the hell did your brother get such weird ideas?"

Temari kept her expression neutral. "That's none of your concern," she said.

– CS –

Since his stone spears didn't work, Shino decided to try a different angle entirely. He ran through five hand seals and cast a Genjutsu. Demonic Illusion: Tree Binding Death!

It was supposed to make Gaara stop moving.

It didn't do anything. Gaara didn't even react to the casting of the Genjutsu, and Shino could feel the technique fall apart almost instantly. Apparently the demon sealed inside him was constantly messing with his chakra.

Well, back to Ninjutsu. As Gaara approached, Shino performed a Katon: Karyū Endan (Fire Release: Fire Dragon Flame Bullet), shooting a single large, intense dragon-shaped fire attack directly at Gaara. Shino could manipulate its direction if he so chose, but Gaara didn't even try to dodge.

This time, a dome of sand enclosed Gaara entirely. Its surface turned partially to blackened glass as the fire dragon attack melted it, but when the attack was over, the glass shattered and Gaara continued on, sand surging around him.

Shino Shunshined away again, near Genma. "Proctor, I forfeit," he said. "None of my techniques are powerful to get through Gaara's defenses, Genjutsu does not work against him, and I do not wish to go underground where Gaara might crush me with his control of sand. My kikaichu cannot absorb his chakra, and I cannot fight him with Taijutsu because at close range his sand is even more deadly. It would be illogical to continue."

Genma nodded. "Winner by forfeit, Gaara Sabaku!"

Gaara kept coming, bloodlust apparent on his face.

"Would both competitors please return to the competitors' box. This match is over."

Shino vanished in a Shunshin, seeing that there was nothing he could do. Fortunately, Gaara got the message when his 'prey' disappeared.

– CS –

"Nice try, Shino. I think they'll make you a Chūnin," said Naruto.

"Thank you Naruto."

When Gaara returned, he glared at Shino and muttered to himself.

"Okay, what's up with you, Gaara?" asked Naruto. "Trying to 'prove your existence by killing'? Is Shukaku giving you problems?"

Gaara gripped his head, almost as if in pain. Then he looked up. "I look forward to our match, Uzumaki," he said, his voice dripping with killing intent.

Naruto blinked. "Okay. Me too." He grinned and gave Gaara a thumbs up.

Most of the other Genin in the competitors' box with them wondered how Naruto was able to shrug off that much bloodlust so casually. Gaara was scary.

"Next match: Choji Akimichi vs. Naruto Uzumaki!"

– CS –

Choji and Naruto weren't exactly close friends, but they had Shikamaru as a mutual friend, so they were on good terms. So Naruto didn't want to antagonize Choji like he had Temari. Unfortunately, Choji needed some motivation.

He grinned at the other participants and Shunshined down to the arena, this time releasing a handful of firecrackers along with a cloud of smoke at each end of his Shunshin.

"Hey Naruto. You ready for this?" asked Choji as he reached the center of the arena.

"Yup! You gonna put away your chips before the fight? Or do you use them as weapons? I know there are some jutsu for using food as weapons."

"That's horrible! Why would you waste food like that?"

Naruto shrugged. "I dunno. Some people just don't appreciate the value of food. On the other hand, you don't necessarily have to waste the food. What if you use it as a medium for Genjutsu? Then you can still eat it afterwards."

"Use it as a medium for Genjutsu?"

Naruto grinned. "Imagine this: you're forced to fight an enemy shinobi, but you're hungry and you don't wanna fight him. So you pull out a bag of peanuts and you toss them one by one in the air, catching them in your mouth. The enemy ninja is almost guaranteed to at least take a quick look at your peanuts. That's when you channel your chakra through your peanuts and sneakily cast a Genjutsu on him. You finish your food while he's distracted by your Genjutsu, and then you pound him."

Choji was practically mesmerized by this idea. In fact, half the ninja in the audience were wondering if it was feasible, including the proctor Genma.

"Hey Asuma-sensei!" shouted Choji, turning to look up at the stands, "Can you teach me some Genjutsu?"

Asuma called back, "We'll talk about it AFTER you win your match!" Then he turned to Kurenai and whispered, "Is that actually possible?"

Kurenai smiled. "Definitely possible. It will not be easy, though."


Kurenai chuckled. Asuma wasn't that great at Genjutsu; sure, he could detect and dispel it quite well, but he only knew a couple of C-ranked illusions. "Start thinking about how you're going to pay for it."

Kakashi overheard this and started giggling pervertedly, prompting Kurenai to blast him with her killing intent.

Down in the arena, Choji's eyes practically lit on fire. He upended his bag of chips over his mouth and quickly chomped down the remainder. Then he tucked the bag in his pocket and pounded his fists together. "Start the match."

Naruto grinned. He hadn't even needed to prompt Choji to finish the fight first – Asuma had done that for him.

Unfortunately, their match was still somewhat boring. Choji used his Human Bullet Tank move, turning into a big rolling ball of destruction, and revealed that he had learned to do a Partial Expansion version of the Akimichi clan's body-expansion technique, expanding only his arm and using the speed of the expansion to strike faster as well as harder.

Naruto easily dodged most of Choji's moves. At one point, he raised his arms and blocked, allowing himself to be sent flying by a horizontal swipe by Choji's massive arm, just to show how strong Choji really was. Due to chakra enhancement, Naruto wasn't hurt, though, and landed on his feet.

Eventually, he created some space with a Kawarimi and decided to start using Earth jutsu. He fired some basic rock projectiles, which Choji managed to evade, put up a few basic earth walls to defend himself, which Choji smashed through with his Human Bullet Tank, and eventually caught Choji in a pit trap behind a wall, and released knockout gas into the pit with a Fuinjutsu tag.

Choji didn't manage to get out of the pit before he breathed in the gas and passed out. Apparently he still required hand seals for Kawarimi. So that was the end of the fight.

– CS –

The next match was Lee vs. Gaara.

It was Lee's relentless, fast-paced, and high-powered Taijutsu against Gaara's incredible sand defenses.

Lee opened five of the Eight Gates. His speed was incredible.

Gaara won by using a sand clone to avoid getting hurt when Lee managed to bypass his "ultimate defense".

When Lee ran out of steam due to his use of the Gates and wanted to keep fighting, Naruto interfered. He Shunshined down to the arena (a normal smoke Shunshin) and put a hand on Lee's shoulder.

"That's enough, Lee."

"Naruto?" said Lee. "I must… continue."

Gaara, for some reason, stopped attacking when Naruto appeared and clutched his head.

"You cannot win," said Naruto. "Do not risk your ninja career for this one fight. He's mine now."

"All… right," said Lee, breathing painfully. He relaxed. "If… anyone… can… do it… you… can… my… Eternal… Rival."

And with that, Lee dozed off, the act of relaxing after putting his body through such strain enough to knock him out. There was silence for a moment.

"WHAT?!" shouted Tenten from the stands above. "YOU'RE the secret Eternal Rival he keeps talking about? The one he's NEVER BEATEN IN TAIJUTSU?!"

Naruto groaned and facepalmed. "It was supposed to be a secret."

– CS –

How to be a Ninja
by Minato Namikaze

Chapter 9: Basics Kill: Mastering your Jutsu and Inventing Alternate Uses

Yes, basic techniques are usually the most important and dangerous ones. This popular piece of wisdom has not completely bypassed the ninja world; the Academy still teaches some of the most useful E-ranked jutsu as well as the most basic Taijutsu and ninja weaponry.

However, nobody seems to apply this to their Ninjutsu training.

Section (a): Truly Mastering Your Jutsu

First of all, you really need to truly understand a jutsu, how it works and why it works, in order to master it. In my experience, most Ninjutsu users don't really know how their techniques work. They just perform the hand seals, channel chakra into the right places, and fire it off. They eventually learn to become more efficient at performing their jutsu by rote and by muscle memory, not by really knowing what chakra patterns they need to produce and using chakra control to do them correctly. In fact, many instruction scrolls don't even include this level of detail.

Do it properly. If you can't find really good instructions on how a jutsu works, experiment by executing the jutsu slowly and with the full set of hand seals, feeling the chakra flows and figuring out what the final chakra pattern is before it is fired. Learn what parts are important and where you're wasting chakra. It's tedious and necessary, and like all such tasks, you can delegate it to shadow clones.

Second, SPEED IS IMPORTANT. Yes, enough to use all-caps. If you can get your lethal jutsu off before your opponent gets theirs off, you win. The faster you can fire off your jutsu, the more you can use in a short period of time. If you can release a technique at a moment's notice, then you can avoid giving your enemy time to counter it.

Many ninja consider a jutsu "mastered" when they can perform it flawlessly without any risk of the technique failing or backfiring on them. In reality, that should be the standard for "barely proficient".

You have only truly mastered a jutsu when you can perform it without any hand seals, silently, and instantly using purely chakra control. Unfortunately, even with shadow clones getting to this level of mastery is difficult, so choose the techniques you want to master carefully.

Section (b): Inventing Alternate Uses For Your Jutsu

Let's talk about Kawarimi no Jutsu (Replacement Technique). The basic theory that everyone learns in the Academy is that you reach out with your chakra, using hand seals to focus, and swap places with an object of your choice. Blegh, boring... right? Yeah right.

The advanced theory is that you reach out with your chakra to an object or part of an object, OPEN A GODDAMNED FUCKING WORMHOLE IN SPACE, then you and the object are both passed through the wormhole without colliding with each other. Yes, you read that correctly, we teach ACADEMY STUDENTS how to TEAR A FREAKING HOLE IN THE FABRIC OF OUR UNIVERSE, and in the process technically TRAVEL FASTER THAN LIGHT. When it's over, the brains of observers are unable to keep up with the instantaneous change, and their minds construct what is colloquially known as an 'afterimage', so it appears to them that the user of the jutsu is still there for a second or two longer.

Whoever classified this as an E-ranked technique is either an unmitigated idiot with no clue what he was looking at, or an absolute genius and an unparalleled student of human nature who realized that no one would ever take a second look at a jutsu with such an insignificant ranking.

The unmitigated idiot option is most likely the correct one, because not only did I take a second look, but I later found out that the Nidaime Hokage did as well. Both of us decided to use the principles and make some… improvements. I'm proud to say that my version of the Hiraishin is better than his.

Yes, Hiraishin. The super-speed, S-ranked teleportation jutsu is really just a Fuinjutsu version of the Kawarimi, allowing you to execute it far, far faster and without the need to swap places with another object. Being Fuinjutsu, it of course trumps even a fully-mastered Ninjutsu version, because it still takes time a bit of time for you to mold that chakra, while Fuinjutsu does it instantly because it's already molded by the seal design.

That's the extent of Tobirama Senju's version. Mine also allows me to create wormholes and teleport other objects to and from myself. That's right, I can use Hiraishin as a defense and teleport an incoming attack, no matter how strong, to another location (such as my enemy's back). This is what I mean by inventing alternate uses for your jutsu: use the principle behind the jutsu to modify it into something different and use it for purposes it wasn't intended for. Be creative.

- CS -

Author's Note:

Next chapter: Naruto breaks out the big moves.