Authors Notes:Not going to lie, I had issues working on this chapter for a multitude of reasons. First, I was distracted, and I blame FenreldStormblade for introducing me to my current addiction, Legends of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. Yes, I am calling you out again. Shame on you for getting me hooked on such a splendid franchise!

Joking aside, I've also been increasingly busy behind the keyboard with other responsibilities. Both with personal priorities and other. Not to mention, attempting to learn Spanish on my own with the use of Duolingo.

Lastly, I just wasn't happy with the start of this chapter, and ended up restarting it multiple times. Hopefully, everyone will enjoy this finished product.


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Review Corner

TheReaderofGods – As a goddess, Jashin has other responsibilities to tend to, though she will be making an appearance again in the coming chapters.

Shadowhell1992 – Actually, I already know how I am going to introduce Ameyuri into the story. I am hoping not many will see it coming, with what I have planned.

An Overthinker – Female bijus? I am planning on keeping just the two tails, seven tails, and Ahri (Kyubi) as the only female bijus.

Biginferno – Mmm, now that you mention it, I should do a small scene in which shows what happens when Karin arrives at the compound. Though it will have to be a flash back scene in a near future chapter.

Thunderofdeath97 – Not bad at all, I love reading some good Fem!Orochimaru stories. Sadly, not for this story.

Killthebeast – Well, Naruto has already brought Karin home with a plan to allow her to stay in the village without any consequences.

PraetorXyn – True, Konoha could tell Kusa to just deal with it, but that would portray Konoha has a bully, and it's not an image Hiruzen wants for his village. Also, it would make opening new trade agreements and such more difficult for the village if other smaller villages feel that Konoha will just strong arm their way anyways.

At least that is my logic.


Harem

In a relationship - Anko*, Ayame*, Fem!Haku*, Fem!Kyuubi*, Fubuki*, Hana*, Hanabi, Hinata*, Izumi*, Koyuki*, Mei, Sakura*, Tsunami*, Yakumo*, Yugao*

Coming Soon - Ameyuri, Fem!Hidan, Fem!Jashin, Fu, Fuka, Hokuto, Ino, Isaribi, Kaguya, Karin, Karui, Kin, Konan, Kurenai, Kurotsuchi, Kushina, Mikoto, Pakura, Rin, Ryuzetsu, Samui, Shion, Shizuka Shizune, Tayuya, Tenten, Temari, Tsume, Tsunade, and Yugito

Those with * next to their names have accepted to bear Naruto's mark.


Darkness Falls

Chapter 34

Shlugk

Sakura grunted as she ripped out the kunai that had embedded itself into her thigh before tossing it down in agitation before covering the wound with her hand, allowing her chakra to meld into the injury, slowly healing it. A needless process, but she couldn't risk the Uchiha questioning how such an injury could heal so fast without proper treatment, hence why she was utilizing Iryo-ninjutsu to mask her hanyou healing.

Across from the pinkette, sat the sole Uchiha. A cold sweat covering his face as he shook violently, still suffering from the effects of the killer intent the strange genin had unleashed upon them just moments earlier. Seeing this, Sakura scowled before reaching over and grabbing the raven haired teen by his shirt collar, harshly pulling him forward so that their faces were mere inches apart.

"Snap the fuck out of it Sasuke." She hissed in a low tone. "How the hell can you claim to be an 'elite' if you're just going to freeze up and piss yourself every time someone directs a little killer intent at you?"

Finishing her piece, the pink haired hanyou roughly shoved the Uchiha away from her, as if insulted by his mere presence. Turning her attention instead to their surroundings. Noting that it had become entirely too quiet. No birds singing, no insects buzzing around. Nothing. Narrowing her eyes, she stretched out with her senses, hoping to catch something, anything to give her any indication as to where their mystery attacker was hiding.

'There is no way in hell that that bitch is a genin.' Sakura thought to herself, with her inner self agreeing wholeheartedly. 'The chakra from her killing intent was too dark and cold.'

As she continued to reach out with her senses, her eyes suddenly widened. In the blink of an eye, Sakura delivered a stiff kick to the Uchiha's chest, knocking him back and out of the way while she used the momentum from the attack to launch herself away into a series of back flips, just as a large snake, roughly the size of a two story house, struck the ground the two members of Team 7 were at just seconds ago, hissing in anger due to missing it's intended target as it turned it's attention to the pinkette.

"Alright, you want a piece of me." Sakura growled at the serpent as she reached down, only to find that her kunai pouch was missing, causing her to widen her eyes in surprise.

'Shit. Must have lost it when I got hit by that bitch's kunai.' She cursed, as she recalled getting struck by the strange kunoichi's attack. Striking her right where she had her kunai holster secured. 'Guess I have no choice.'

Bringing up her right hand, she brought forth her dark blade, allowing it to take the form of a short tanto, holding it in a reverse grip position. A mocking smirk spreading across her face.

"Come and get it, bitch." The pinkette taunted. "I am sure Anko-chan would love a new snake skin coat."

The snake appeared to take the pink haired hanyous taunt personally as it launched itself towards the pinkette with blinding speed, prompting her to jump out of the way, thrusting her left hand forward, sending a volley of dark projectiles towards the giant serpent. As they struck the serpents skin, the giant snake hissed in pain before lunging at Sakura once more, only to receive a vicious right hook from the pinkette that sent it reeling into the side of the tree, causing the massive timber to shake under the impact.

The massive snake shook it's head, attempting to shake the cobwebs from it's addled mind before rearing up to it's maximum height, baring it's fangs menacingly at the pinkette that was standing defiantly before it.

"Is that it?" Sakura taunted with a confident grin, as the pupils of her emerald green eyes become slits as her hanyou blood that flowed through her veins screamed out for her to crush this foolish snake that challenged her and slake the earth with it's blood. "I expected more, how disappointing."

This earned the pinkette another loud hiss, just before the massive beast shot forward once more. However, instead of barreling straight towards the offending hanyou, the snake deviated from it's trajectory with a sharp turn at the last moment, snapping it's tail like a bullwhip; catching Sakura off guard as the impact sent her flying hundreds of yards, taking out various branches and even some trees that were in her path.

With a groan, Sakura picked herself up off the ground. Bringing her right hand up to wipe the blood that trickled from her lips before licking it off the back of her hand. A malicious grin spreading across her face as she look up at the snake that was now barreling down towards her.

"Now this is more like it!" She exclaimed as she brought back her fist and slammed it into the ground, sending a shock wave towards her slithering foe.

The snake was quick to react and burrowed into the earth to avoid the oncoming debris that had been sent its way. Prompting the pink haired hanyou to jump high into the air, just as the snake erupted from the ground beneath her. However, with gravity working against her, she quickly noticed the serpents open mouth rushing towards her, intending to devour her whole.

Gritting her teeth as she let out an inhuman growl, Sakura braced herself as the serpent violently crashed into her, sending both of them to the forest floor below, causing an eruption of dirt and various other debris to be sent into the air. As the dust settled, Sakura could be seen holding the snakes mouth open, her clothes tattered and dirtied, as the massive serpent wrestled for dominance over its intended prey.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the battlefield, the sole Uchiha could only look on, completely gobsmacked at what he was witnessing. While he was well aware that his former fan-girl had grown stronger over the last few months, as evident with how she had handled herself in the last few missions they had gone on. However, this; this was something else entirely, seeing the pinkette battle the giant serpent. And from the looks of it, Sakura was enjoying the challenge the snake presented her. He could of sworn he had heard her laughing in the distance as she sent the beast skidding across the ground, taking out multiple small saplings in the process.

However, the raven haired teens musings were interrupted as a volley of shurikan flew towards him from the bushes, prompting him to roll out of the way to avoid being impaled. Turning, he watched as the strange kunoichi that had just attacked them emerged from the under brush.

"Ku ku ku, for shame letting your guard down. You should stay on your toes, like a good prey should. It makes the chase so much more rewarding." The strange kunoichi leered at the Uchiha. "For the predator."

Sasuke felt a chill run down his spine, not liking the way the woman was looking at him. Shaking it off the best he could, he produced a single kunai and gripped it in a reverse grip position in his right hand. Moving into a defensive stance, causing the kunoichi to creepily giggle once more. Licking her lips in anticipation of the inevitable fight that was coming. Closing his eyes, he allowed for his breath to calm, slowly exhaling as he opened his eyes, revealing his Sharingan spinning to life. Two tomoe in his left eye, and a single tomoe in his right.

"Tsk tsk tsk, I have to say Sasuke-kun. I am thoroughly disappointed. So far you have proven to be nothing more than a second rate genin not worth the staining the steel of my kunai." The strange kunoichi mocked the sole Uchiha with a maddening grin. "I wonder if Itachi would have still spared you if he knew that you'd turn out to be nothing but a failure, at your age he already had three tomoe while you barely have two."

Hearing his brothers name, Sasuke saw red. Gripping his kunai tightly, so tightly in fact, that his knuckles turned white.

"Even your once useless fangirl of a teammate has proven to be far more of a challenge, then the so called elite Uchiha." Her freakishly long tongue licking her lips in anticipation. "I should have fought her instead and let my pet deal with you, it appears she would have given me far more enjoyment."

"I'll show you what an Uchiha can do, bitch!" The raven haired teen exclaimed before going through a flurry of hand seals as he inhaled deeply before expelling a massive wall of fire towards the kunoichi, whom made no effort to move as the large fireball crashed into her, sending embers all over the forest floor, before melting into the ground.

'Shit!' Sasuke's eyes widened. 'A mud clone!'

Spinning on his heel, the Uchiha's eyes scanned the foliage, looking for the slightest hint of movement to alert him to his foes location. The slightest disturbance of the under brush had alerted the Uchiha of a volley of incoming projectiles heading straight towards him. Acting on instinct, Sasuke spun around and deflected the shurikan that had been flying towards him with his kunai, before switching the position of his kunai in his hand to a forward grip as he produced three more kunai from his pouch with the same hand, holding them between his fingers. With his left hand, he pulled out his Fuma Shuriken.

"Ku ku ku, have you finally found your fighting spirit again, Sasuke-kun?" The kunoichi inquired in a mocking tone as she emerged from a nearby tree just behind the raven haired teen.

Without hesitation, Sasuke twisted around and launched his four kunai and his Fuma Shuriken towards the demented woman, whom was quick to evade the first three kunai before catching the fourth one in her mouth, cutting the inside of her cheek slightly, allowing a small trickle of blood to leak out of her mouth. Meanwhile the Fuma Shuriken flew passed by her, with a silver glint trailing behind it, causing her eyes to widen in shock as she came to the realization.

'Ninja wire!' The demented kunoichi mentally screamed, as the Fuma Shuriken circled around her body, wrapping it tightly with the ninja wire that trailed behind it. Rendering her complete immobile.

"Got you, bitch!" Sasuke exclaimed as he went through a series of hand seals before taking a deep breath. "Katon: Ryuka no Jutsu! (Fire Release: Dragon Fire Technique)"

As soon as the words left his mouth, a string of fire flowed out from his mouth, almost as if it were liquid and traveled along the string connected to the kunai in the Kusa kunoichi's mouth. Hitting her directly in the face.

Sasuke looked on as molten chunks from the kunoichi's face dripped off her body. Letting out a sigh in relief, he released his hold on the ninja wire that had held the woman in place and dropped to his knees, experiencing a sickening feeling rising up in the bowls of his stomach, forcing him to push it back down. No doubt the result of performing his first kill.

"Ku ku ku."

Sasuke felt a chill travel up his spine as his eyes turned back towards the smoldering face of the kunoichi he thought he had just killed. Various parts of her skin falling off in chunks, exposing an entirely different, unblemished face, underneath with a single yellow eye exposed.

"Perhaps you do hold up to your title of being a Uchiha Elite after all, Sasuke-kun." The kunoichi grinned, causing more of the melted skin to fall out, exposing even more of the pale skin underneath. "In fact, I believe I want you after all."

Slithering out of the now loose ninja wire that had once confined her body, the demented woman reached up and proceeded the peel the rest of the burning flesh from her face, fully uncovering the unmarred skin underneath of a completely different person. Not to mention, an entirely different gender.

"Wh-who the hell are you!?" Sasuke demanded in a panicked tone.

"Ku ku ku, I am Orochimaru of the Sannin." The pale man grinned as he stared hungrily on the lone Uchiha. Gauging his reaction upon hearing his name. He was not disappointed as the raven haired teen tensed up, a new wave of fear washing over the poor boy.

"I look forward to seeing you again, Sasuke-kun." Orochimaru smirked. "That is, if you manage to defeat the three tools that answer to me."

"Wh-what are you babbling on about!?" The Uchiha snapped out of his stupor. "I never wish to see your face ever again!"

"Perhaps not, but wishing won't chase me away." The snake sannin grinned once more, while forming a snake seal with his hands. Within the blink of an eye, his neck stretched out at a remarkable speed before the raven haired teen could react, allowing the pale man to clamp down on the boys neck, injecting a strange substance through his snake like fangs.

"ARGH!" Sasuke screamed out in agony as pain washed over his body, causing him to curl up in a fetal position.

Across the battlefield, Sakura was alerted to the pained cries of the Uchiha as she wrestled with the massive head of the snake. A hand placed on both the upper and lower jaw, holding it in place as the serpent struggled violently against the pink haired hanyous hold. Allowing herself to take her focus off the beast before her, she glanced over to see the raven haired boy clutching the snide of his neck in agony.

"Shit." Sakura cursed, turning her attention back to the snake. A cruel grin spreading across his face. "Sorry, I can't play any more."

With one swift movement, the young hanyou tightened her grip on the snakes jaws before she violently ripped her arms apart in an upward and downward motion. Forcing the snakes jaws open with enough force to rip the beast in half from mouth to tail. Causing the poor serpent to elicit a painful gurgle before it dispelled in a cloud of smoke.

Without any hesitation, Sakura turned and dove into a nearby shadow, only to exit from another shadow behind the now strange man that stood over the downed Uchiha. As she exited the shadow, the pinkette aimed a kick towards the pale mans head, only for it to miss as he fluidly ducked under her attack. Landing on the ground, Sakura immediately turned around and adopted a defensive stance between Sasuke and the man before her. Her instincts screaming at her not to under estimate the foe before her.

"My, my. With the cruel words you spoke earlier to poor Sasuke-kun, I am surprised you would come to his defense." The pale skinned individual stated in a mocking tone.

"He's a self centered, egotistical asshole that deserves what is coming to him." Sakura scoffed. "But he is still a fellow shinobi of Konoha. Now who the hell are you?"

"Ku ku ku, such fire." The man snickered. "But where are my manners, I am Orochimaru of the Sannin."

The now identified Orochimaru introduced himself as he gave a mockingly half bow, all the while keeping his serpent like eyes upon the pinkette with a predatory gaze, putting the hanyou on edge.

"I must say, much like Sasuke-kun, you interest me greatly." Orochimaru leered at the young woman before him. "Someone of your talents is wasted on this pathetic village. Why not join me, surely there is something you desire that I can provide for you. Rare techniques? Power?"

"Pfft, such false praises may work on the idiot behind me." Sakura scoffed, not taking her eyes off of the snake sannin. "But they only sound like empty promises to me."

"Ku ku ku, surely there is something I can offer you." The pale skinned sannin continued as a twisted grin spread across his lips. "Perhaps love then? I know how young shinobi and kunoichi alike are always dreaming about finding their 'destined one'."

The tone of his voice clearly indicated that he clearly didn't care for any such emotions, and was merely using them to try and persuade her, as if she were some love struck teenage civilian, prompting her to roll her eyes.

"Don't take me as one of those pathetic fan girls." The pinkette retorted.

"Oh, but you are still one of those fan girls." Orochimaru chuckled, earning a glare from the pink haired hanyou. "Just not to poor Sasuke-kun anymore, no; you are Naruto-kun's fan girl now, aren't you."

Sakura narrowed her eyes at his statement.

"Ku ku ku, perhaps I should visit Naruto-kun after I am done here."

No sooner had the words left his mouth, did the snake sannin find himself skidding across the ground after a vicious kick had connected with his head. Only stopping when his body rag dolled into a tree.

Looking up from his downed position, Orochimaru took note of the girls change of appearance, now adopting a more feral and demonic appearance.

Her pink hair had appeared to grow out slightly, now reaching past her shoulders. Becoming more wild and feral in appearance, as the black streaks become more prominent. Her once emerald eyes were now glowing a dark crimson red, almost like blood, showing their fury while her pupils became slits. Under each eye were three darkened whisker marks, very similar to a certain blonde jinchuriki. Two elongated canines jutted out from her upper lip as she snarled at the snake sannin. The last thing Orochimaru noticed, was that the nails on her finger tips had become elongated claws, roughly an inch and a half in length.

"Ku ku ku, you are just full of surprises." He chuckled as he picked himself up off the ground. "I look forward to adding you to my forces….."

Another attack came from the feral pinkette, only this time the pale man was expecting it and effortlessly evaded the wild attack and returned the favor by back handing her across the face, sending the girl to the ground.

"Or experimenting on you."

Sakura growled once more before righting herself and launching another flurry of assaults on the snake sannin, only to have him easily avoid every strike sent his way. Allowing for the enraged hanyou's attack to connect with the various trees, boulders and other forms of large debris that surrounded the duo, taking note of how destructive the young woman's blows were, as they left the surrounding area scarred.

Though, each time the pinkette would launch an attack, Orochimaru would evade and counter it effortlessly. Which only served to infuriate the hanyou even further. However, it was becoming increasingly evident that despite her enhanced speed, strength and agility; Sakura was in well over her head since the Snake Sannin was clearly toying with her. As evident by the numerous amount of bruises she was receiving, while Orochimaru was still mostly untouched, aside from the one blow he had allowed the girl to land on him.

"Ku ku ku, well, as fun as this has been playing with you, I really must go." Orochimaru grinned. "However, before I leave, I shall give you a parting gift my dear."

Not allowing the pinkette to register his words, the Snake Sannin disappeared from his spot, only to reappear right in front of her, sending a fist into her stomach, causing her to cough up some blood and saliva. Following up with a flurry of attacks as he knocked her around the forest floor. Before ending his assault with a round house kick to her head, sending Sakura skidding across the dirt, before smashing into a rock, bringing her to a halt.

Groaning in pain as her hanyou features receded, Sakura struggled to push her broken and battered body out of the rubble, only to be slammed back into the rock as Orochimaru held her by the throat. Another glob of blood mixed with saliva erupted from her mouth due to the force of the impact. Without a word, the snake sannin lowered his head towards the base of her neck and bit, leaving the same cursed mark he had branded Sasuke with before releasing her, allowing her to fall to the ground. Resulting in the pink haired hanyou to scream out in agony as she clamped her hand over where the snake sannin had bit her.

"Ku ku ku, I look forward to seeing you both again." Orochimaru chuckled as he slowly sunk into the earth. "When you seek me out."

These were the last words Sakura heard before consciousness left her.

From the shadows, a pair of emerald eyes had watched the entire scene unfold. Gritting her teeth in frustration, while clinching her fists tight enough to draw blood from her fingernails digging into her palm. As she watched Orochimaru disappear into the ground, she waited a handful of moments. Waiting to see if the Snake Sannin was truly gone before slowly emerging from her hiding place within the shadows. As she did, the form of Sakura that was curled up on the ground disappeared. Forming into a shapeless shadow before reattaching itself to the real Sakura's foot.

'Remember to thank Naruto-kun for teaching us how to use the Dark Clone technique.' Inner Sakura mentally commented to her outer self, making Sakura thankful that she had switched herself out with her Dark Clone before engaging with Orochimaru.

'Noted.' Sakura mentally agreed before turning her attention to the down form of Sasuke, who was now shivering uncontrollably. 'For now, let's grab Sasuke and get someplace safe and set up camp and wait for Naruto-kun.'


Outside The Forest of Death

"What a mess." A Chunin commented as he observed the gruesome scene that his patrol team had come across at the shrine just outside of the Forest of Death that was currently hosting the second phase of the Chunin Exams. Fresh blood was splashed across the various Buddha statues that surrounded the small shrine that many shinobi, domestic and foreign alike, would stop by and pray to. Scattered across the ground, were three corpses. All of which were missing their faces, almost as if they were melted off.

"One, two, and three." Another Chunin counted off the three dead bodies, scribbling something on the scroll he had with him. "All of them as dead as stone Buddhas; any idea what the cause of death was, Kotetsu?"

"Victims of a highly skilled shinobi, no doubt about it, Izumo." The now identified Kotetsu replied, before turning to his long time partner, and fellow Eternal Gate Guard. "Best report this to Lady Anko, since she is the one over seeing the second phase of the exams."

"Yes sir!" The third Chunin stated as he rolled up the report scroll and disappeared via shunshin to report to the acclaimed snake mistress.

Meanwhile, said snake mistress was sitting on top of the now empty booth that the participating teams had acquired their 'Heaven' or 'Earth' scroll for this particular phase of the exam, swinging her legs in a bored fashion, whilst snacking on her favorite treat. She just couldn't shake the feeling that something bad was about to happen. At first, she tried to rationalize that she was just feeling anxious because not only was her mate, Naruto-kun, partaking in the exams, but two of her future sister-wives as well. However, that did little to calm her nerves any.

"So long as the Uchiha brat doesn't cause any trouble, Naruto-kun and Sakura-chan should arrive at the tower by the end of the day." Anko mused to herself, mostly to encourage herself as she finished off the dango she was munching on, and launched the stick into a nearby tree, finishing off the heart that encircled the initials 'N' and 'A'. "And Hinata-chan's team should arrive between this evening or tomorrow afternoon."

"Terrible news, Lady Anko!" A voice cried out from her left, prompting the snake mistress to cease her target practice, and cast an annoyed look at the individual who had appeared a few feet away from her.

"Ah shit, now what?" Anko grumbled.

"Our patrol found three dead bodies at the nearby shrine." The Chunin reported.

"Dead bodies?"

"Yes, come see for yourself." The man stated before jumping off.

Frowning slightly, the snake mistress to followed behind. Ignoring the sensation rising up in her gut, warning her that something very bad was about to happen, and she wasn't going to like it in the slightest. After a few minutes of travel, the two arrived at the shrine, where the Eternal Gate Guards were still investigating the corpses of the unknown shinobi. Rummaging through their identities and papers that were still on their person.

"Judging from their belongings, and other papers we found, they were all shinobi from Kusagakure." Kotetsu explained as Anko knelt down by one of the corpses, examining it herself. "And as you can see, their features are completely gone. Almost as if their faces have been melted away."

Hearing this, Anko felt her blood run cold as she felt her stomach drop, her face adopting an expression that was a mixture between shock, horror, hatred, and above all, concern. Concern for those partaking in the exams, and more importantly, concern for her mate and future sister-wives.

'I recognize this technique, and no doubt who used it.' Anko mentally seethed. 'But why!? Why would he show up now, and meddle in this!?'

As the snake mistress silently seethed over the evident arrival of the man she hated above all else, a sudden thought entered her mind, causing her to snap her eyes open wide before she quickly spun around and faced Kotetsu.

"Show me the photos from their shinobi identification cards!" She commanded, causing the poor Chunin to jump at the sudden command from the snake mistress. Quickly fumbling with the papers in hand, he separated the requested identification cards and handed them to Anko.

'Shit, just as I thought.' Anko cursed as she looked over the identification of the three victims in her hand. The top one showing the face of a familiar looking woman that had returned her kunai earlier when she had humiliated the Inuzuka boy. 'This is the face he stole, and these poor saps have been dead for a few hours at least, that means it was him that had come up behind me.'

Anko couldn't help but feel her skin crawl at that revelation. Quickly shaking it off, she turned her attention to the three Chunin.

"This is bad, you three! Report what has happened to Hokage-sama!" She barked out instructions. "Ask that he deploy two additional ANBU teams to the Forest of Death at once! I am going after the impostors!"

"Yes ma'am!" The three Chunin exclaimed as they all left the area to carry out their orders, and in the case of one Anko Mitarashi, to enact her vengeance on her former sensei once and for all.


Forest of Death, Naruto

The blonde haired hanyou leapt through the tree branches with practiced ease, pausing only slightly for a split second as his shadow suddenly reconnected itself to his body, his mind being filled with memories of the red haired girls shocked reaction of traveling through the shadows for the first time. Prompting him to chuckle slightly.

As luck would have it, the two had arrived just before Haku had set out to do her rounds at the hospital, much to the ice users pleasant surprise. After a quick introduction to his three mates that were still within the compound, Haku, Izumi, and Yakumo; the dark clone of Naruto quickly explained the situation revolving around Karin and her desire to stay with them, and had requested the girls to look after his clan member until the second phase of the exams had concluded. To which all three had agreed to, knowing how important family was to their mate, before the dark clone dispelled himself, leaving Karin in the capable hands of Yakumo and Izumi.

'Hope the girls don't tease her too much.' Naruto mentally mused, having noted how the red head had a light blush on her cheeks when she would look at him, or rather, his dark clone.

'I am sure she will be just fine, Naruto-kun.' Ahri chuckled as the vixen imagined various scenarios of both Yakumo and Izumi putting the newly found Uzumaki through her paces. 'In the meantime, let's get back to Sakura-chan.'

'Right.' The blonde hanyou mentally nodded. 'I can feel her emotions all over the place right now.'

With renewed vigor, Naruto sped through the tree branches. Only stopping occasionally to relieve some unfortunate teams of their scrolls, since his Anko-chan had promised to reduce the number of participants by half by the time this phase of the exams was over, and he sure as hell wasn't going to allow his first mate be made a liar. Also, it never hurt to have spare scrolls, just in case.

Nearly an hour had passed before the young blonde hanyou arrived at the impromptu camp site that Sakura had set up. It was a quint little camp site made out of a hollow tree trunk, that now sheltered both her and Sasuke, having used one of her earth element jutsu to create a protective barrier around the stump, leaving a small hole in the top to allow both light and oxygen into the shelter. Through his senses he could feel his mate calm and relaxed, while the Uchiha's chakra signature was erratic and fluctuating, causing the blonde hanyou to frown a little. Scattered throughout the camp site were various traps, some purposely being more obvious then the others to throw off any would be attackers and give them a false sense of confidence. Quite literally, the only way to successfully navigate through the traps, was through use of the Shadow Step ability.

With a small grin, Naruto sunk into the shadows, re-emerging just behind his pink haired mate, giving her a slight startle as he wrapped his arms around her waist and nuzzled into the back of her neck, only for Sakura to lean back into his embrace once she had identified just who had returned.

"You're late." Sakura lightly chastised.

"Sorry about that, Sakura-chan." The blonde chuckled a little before planting a soft kiss at the base of her neck where her mate mark was located, sending a wave of shivers through her body. "Bumped into a sexy red head on my way back, and like the gentleman that I am, I offered to escort her."

This earned the blonde hanyou a playful slap on the shoulder.

"Only you would pick up women during an exam." Sakura admonished, though her tone held a playfulness to it.

"What?" Naruto mocked confusion. "Is it wrong to pick up girls in the Forest of Death?"

"Baka." The pinkette rolled her eyes at her mates antics.

"In all seriousness, she is actually a member of the Uzumaki clan." The blonde informed Sakura, prompting the girl to stiffen slightly before turning her body to face him. While the light the small hole in the roof offered little to fully illuminate the inside of the shelter, her enhanced eye sight allow the pinkette to see her mates face clearly.

"How did that happen?" She questioned.

"Well, her team got ambushed by another and were killed, then they chased after her until Brutus interfered, and killed them." Naruto explained briefly, earning a raised eyebrow from the pinkette at the mention of the giant bear that the blonde had named. "After I saved her from becoming a snack, we talked."

"So what now?"

"Well, she doesn't want to return to her home village, mostly due to the fact that she had finally found another Uzumaki, but also because the leader of her village plans to use her for breeding after she returns."

Sakura narrowed her eyes dangerously upon hearing this.

"So, once this phase of the exams are over, I am going to make a Blood Clone of her, kill it and send that back to her village."

"And she gets a new lease on life, so to speak."

"Exactly."

"Does she have any other family?" Sakura ventured hesitantly. "Sisters? Brothers? Parents?"

"I don't think so." Naruto sighed sadly. "From what she told me, her mother died due to her village leaders abuse of her healing capabilities."

This earned a questioning look from the pinkette.

"Both her and her mother have a unique ability to heal those who bite them." The blonde explained. "An ability that the village leader abused to the extent that her mother died of chakra exhaustion."

Sakura said nothing in response, instead opting to merely nod in acknowledgment.

"I had my Dark Clone take her to the estate." Naruto continued. "Introduced her to Haku-chan, Izumi-chan, and Yakumo-chan, who should have gotten her settled into one of the guest rooms until I can make the Blood Clone."

"She should be in good hands then." Sakura commented, knowing just how warm and welcoming Haku could be. Especially towards new people. It was one of the main reasons she had been openly welcomed by the hospital staff.

"So, what happened here?" Naruto inquired as he eyed the shivering form of Sasuke, whom was clearly in a feverish state.

"We were attacked by Orochimaru." Sakura stated bluntly, causing Naruto to visibly stiffen upon hearing the name. "He was disguised as strange kunoichi that snuck up behind Anko-chan when she was taunting Kiba."

She went on to explain how she had engaged the snake summon that had been sent to attack her and keep her away, while Sasuke had squared off against the kunoichi, though at the time neither were aware of their attackers true identity. Even explaining how Orochimaru had attempted to place the Curse Seal on her, but had failed due to the use of her Dark Clone, but had surmised that he had marked Sasuke.

"If Orochimaru is here in the forest then that means…..shit, Anko-chan!" The blonde hanyou exclained, feeling a sense of urgency to get to his first mate. "Stay here, Sakura-chan!"

That was all that was said before Naruto disappeared into the shadows, leaving behind a startled and bewildered pink haired hanyou.


Anko, A Few Moments Earlier

Anko raced through the branches, easily avoiding various obstacles that littered her pathway in the forms of the various wildlife and foliage that occupied her favorite playground. Gritting her teeth as she noted the sun beginning to dip below the horizon, creating an illusion of the treeline being on fire.

'Shit, it's already dusk.' Anko mentally cursed. 'I have to find him soon, the darker it gets the more of an advantage he will have, and the worse the situation will become!'

In the distance behind her, she could faintly feel the chakra signatures of the requested ANBU teams, though by how faint they were, she estimated it would take them nearly a half hour to catch up to her, if not longer, depending on if any of the wildlife or even the participants were feeling brave or foolish enough to attack them.

'But why!?' The snake mistress narrowed her eyes. 'Why did he choose to show up now, of all times? What's he playing at?'

These were the questions more prevalent in the former Snake Sannin's apprentice's mind. While she loathed and despised the man with every fiber of her being, she knew that Orochimaru never did anything without a reason. Every action he did was always thought out and planned meticulously in excruciating detail.

'Not that it matters.' Anko thought with a blood thirsty grin. 'You have been a dark stain on my life for too long, and once I find you, I will end you.'

Anko cleared a large gap between branches before landing gracefully on a single extended branch before coming to a stop to catch her breath. A cruel smirk spread across her face.

'And if I can't manage that, at least I will slow you down enough until the ANBU teams arrive.'

"It's been awhile, hasn't it, sensei." Anko spoke to seemingly no one, though the word 'sensei' was dripping with venom.

"Ku ku ku, very impressive Anko-chan." The Snake Sannin chuckled as he emerged from the tree slightly behind the young snake mistress. However, he quickly frowned as he noticed that she was not reacting to the prototype curse seal he had marked her with before he abandoned her.

In the blink of an eye, Anko had fired a volley of kunai towards the tree while Orochimaru shot out his abnormally long tongue in a bid to capture his former apprentice unaware. Smirking some as he captured her wrist, though he had under estimated her strength as she twisted her hand and griped the slimy muscle and yanked him out of the tree, much to his surprise.

"I got you now!" She exclaimed as she summoned forth her snakes that were hidden within seals on the inside of her jacket sleeve, each clamping on to the Snake Sannin's tongue, injecting a lethal dose of venom.

However, Orochimaru wasn't out of tricks himself, as he twisted his body and used the momentum Anko had given him to his advantage as he shrugged off the pain from the snake bites. Once he was close enough to the woman, he kicked off the branch to give his body even more speed as he crashed into the unsuspecting snake mistress, sending the two of them tumble towards the ground. Each landing with a heavy thud, and a groan of pain.

Slowly, Anko pushed herself off the ground and prepared to launch a renewed attack on the snake bastard, only to find the body she had fallen with melting into mud, prompting her to silently curse under her breath for falling for such a simple deception.

"I must say, I am getting the impression that you're not happy to see me, my dearest Anko-chan." Orochimaru mocked from the tree branch he was laying in a relaxed and mockingly manner above the snake mistress.

"Why?" Anko seethed, glaring up at him. "Why are you here now? What is it? An assassination attempt on the old man?"

"As tempting as it would be, I simply lack the hubris and proper number of subordinates to attempt anything of that magnitude." The Snake Sannin explained in a condescending manner. "No, no. My targets are shinobi of the village who display extraordinary abilities."

"In fact, I just left my mark on two very promising candidates, as a parting gift."

"You monster!" Anko growled out. "You've only condemned them to a slow and agonizing death!"

"True, there is a nine out of ten chance that they will die." Orochimaru shrugged, showing that he didn't care if they died. "But just the same, they may survive. Just like you did, my dearest Anko-chan."

"Heh, and I bet the thought of them becoming your little toys gets you off, doesn't it Pedo-maru?" Anko bit back sarcastically.

"Oh my, are you jealous Anko-chan?" The snake sannin taunted from his branch. "Still angry that I used and abandoned you?"

This caused Anko to illicit a small growl in the back of her throat, showing that she was clearly not happy with the memory of trusting this man, only to be used and discarded and left to carry the burden of his betrayal on her own.

"Though I must say, these two seem quite exceptional, unlike you." He continued. "Not only is Sasuke-kun part of the esteemed Uchiha clan, his infamous Sharingan will be a boon to my forced. He could even be the perfect vessel to succeed me."

Hearing the name of the egotistical teen that made up the third member of her mate and sister-wive's team, Anko felt a wave of coldness washing over her as she realized just who the other victim was that the snake bastard had marked.

"Then there is his team mate, the beautiful Sakura-chan." Orochimaru confirmed Anko's fear. "I dare say she put up more of a fight then Sasuke-kun did. Evening brutally killing my poor snake summon. I foresee interesting times, assuming they both survive."

Anko clinched her fist, as the rage began to build up inside her. Gritting her teeth, she glared at her former sensei. Unaware that her eyes had gained a pair of slit pupils. Her canine teeth extending, just as her finger tips became more claw like. Giving the snake mistress a truly fearsome appearance.

'That bastard!' Anko seethed internally. 'How dare he target my family! My PACK!'

"Now my dearest Anko-chan. Don't get any clever ideas about trying to end the exams prematurely." Orochimaru spoke as he stood up, prepared to leave. "I plan to savor this. As we speak, three of my proteges have taken the place of three of your own."

"If something were to happen to rob me of my enjoyment…." He paused, casting a mocking grin towards the snake mistress. "I would be most displeased."

"YOU SON OF A BITCH!" Anko exploded with rage just as Orochimaru was about to leave, shooting up from her position on the forest floor with a surprising amount of force as he kicked up a massive cloud of dust and debris in her wake. Catching the Snake Sannin by surprise.

Faster then he could anticipate, a feral looking Anko was on top of him, delivering a flurry of blows that he had been unprepared for. The first went for a kill shot, as she slashed her clawed hands towards his throat, cutting deeply. It was only due to years of experience that he avoided suffering such a lethal blow, missing the jugular by mere millimeters. The second however would leave more lasting damage, as she swiped in a diagonal fashion, digging her claw like finger nails deep within the snake sannins face, effectively removing his left eye.

However, Anko was not finished as she followed up with a devastating round house kick to Orochimaru's chest. Sending him flying back into a tree on the far side of the clearing they were in. Blood and spit erupting from his mouth due to the impact.

"Ku ku ku." Orochimaru couldn't help but chuckle, shaking off the injuries he had sustained as he ignored the blood that now soaked the front of his chest, though there was an undertone of unbridled fury at the loss of his eye. "How peculiar that you have the same transformation technique that Sakura-chan does."

Anko merely growled in response from her crouched position. Both arms hanging loosely before her in a crossed position, ready to defend or attack in a split second. Her feral purple and black hair flowing wildly in the wind, having broken loose from it's hair tie some time ago. Her head hanging low, allowing for the snake sannin to just barely make out the darkened whisker marks under her eyes, which each eye sported slit pupils, almost as if they were from a cat, or perhaps a fox even.

"If I were to speculate, I would venture that such a transformation is due to a common catalyst that the two of you share, Anko-chan." He surmised, grinning madly at his recent discovery. "Perhaps I should seek out Naruto-kun, he should be a most interesting test subject."

Similar to Sakura's reaction, Anko exploded from her stance once more at the veiled threat to her alpha and mate. Intending to fully remove this threat. However, she was unprepared when Orochimaru shot out his neck and seemingly regurgitated his fabled Kusanagi blade, impaling the snake mistress in the chest, stopping her in her tracks as a massive amount of blood erupted from her mouth, running down her front.

Retracting the blade, Orochimaru grinned as he approached the downed form of his one time apprentice. Reaching down, he grabbed her by the hair to force her to stand up as more blood spurt from the open wound in her chest.

"My my, still alive despite being stabbed in the heart." The pale man grinned, looking over the bloodied form of Anko. "But I fear you won't last much longer, the poison on my Kusanagi is quite potent and unfortunately for you, there is no antidote for it."

"As fun as this little reunion has been, my dearest Anko-chan, I really must go." With one last grin, Orochimaru pushed the limp form of Anko off the tree branch, sending her to the ground below before leaping away. Not even watching to see where she landed.

If he had, he would have noticed a shadow open up beneath the tree branch and capture her.


The Void

Naruto could only look on helplessly as he gazed over the bloody and unresponsive form of his first mate. Placing his hand firmly on her chest to stop the bleeding as best he could, channeling what chakra he could into the wound to seal it up.

"Anko-chan?" He whispered, placing his face near hers as tears began to stream from his eyes as he free hand caressed the side of her face in a loving manner. Still no response.

"Come on Hebi-hime, don't leave me." He cried, touching her forehead with his own. "We promised each other we would stay together forever."

Still nothing.

"Anko-chan?" He questioned as he felt her skin becoming colder and her breath becoming more shallow.

"ANKO-CHAN!"


Additional Authors Notes: Well, that was….um, why does everyone have pitch forks and torches?

Also, I would like to give a special thanks to FenreldStormblade for assisting me in various parts of this chapter. Be sure to swing by and take a look at his own works!