Chapter 23 – Survival of the Fittest

or

Enter - Jiraiya, the Gallant!

Sasuke was too stunned to speak as Giyu swiftly walked past him delivering the swiftest slash possible as Sasuke's head slid off his shoulders and rolled on the ground. Giyu then looked at Sasuke's beheaded body with the corner of his eyes as he swinged his blade to get the blood off.

Giyu then looked at Neji with a blank face. But much to his surprise, Neji smiled at him as in an instant he appeared before him. Giyu was too confused to even react as Neji raised his hand flicked him on his head sending him flying into the trees.

But he didn't stopped there as he broke thought countless trees and continued flying as he got thrown out of the island and continued flying even then. Soon he realised that he was going out of the planet's orbit as he blinked and found himself staring at the blue sphere which was supposed to be his planet. He blinked again as he gazed at a glowing white spiral which was continuously shrinking. He blinked again, and found a bunch of those glowing objects in a dark place. After he blinked the third time, he found himself getting out of an astronomically huge sphere that was supposed to be him universe.

Suddenly he opened his eyes and found himself in the same place where he had activated his eleventh form. The sun was high in the sky and his sword was still touching the ground. But what scared him was the fact that when he was fighting Sasuke, the sun was about to set and now it was high in the sky. He realised that he was caught up in a genjutsu and his badge was gone. He had been standing there in the same posture for more than 18 hours. As he realised the fact, he fell on the ground due to all the exhaustion he had just suffered.

Second Day, Late Afternoon

Sasuke and Neji had divided the island into 4 quadrants in accordance to Neji's Byakugan range. They were travelling around the island from one quadrant to another and still weren't able to locate Neji's target. Now only the fourth quadrant was left which they entered after 21 hours since they defeated Giyu.

"Found him!" Neji said with his byakugan active.

"Let's go then." Sasuke said.

"No, we shall rest for a bit now. We still have more than enough time on our hands, and we are tried too." Neji said.

"Alright, I will make a shadow clone just in case." Sasuke said as he made a shadow clone. They both then sat under the same tree, but opposite to each other and fell asleep as soon as the wind blew against them.

With Temari and Kankuro

After being kicked away by their brother, they were now by themselves. And they were far for being helpless. They strolled through the forest to track down their targets. But it seemed that the tables were turned when they crossed paths with a with haired guy who had countless scars throughout his body.

The first thing the Sand duo noticed was Sanemi's badge, having the number 101 on it. And that him Temari's target. As for Sanemi, when he noticed the look in their eyes, he used his thumb to slightly unsheathe his Katana as he grinned from ear to ear that sent chills down the spines of the Sand Duo.

"It seems that your luck has ran out, savage." Temari said as he clenched her war fan.

"Why don't you try then?" Sanemi said as the Sand Duo dashed at Sanemi from either side.

"Wind Breathing Third Form: Clean Storm Wind Tree." Sanemi said as he completely unsheathed his Katana. As the duo closed in on him, he unleashed a whirlwind of slashes around himself and inflicted multiple deep slashes on both Temari and Kankuro that forced them to back off.

"What was that sword technique?" Temari said in disbelief as blood started flowing out from the wounds she had just received. She acknowledged Sanemi's prowess with sword as she revealed all three moons of her War Fan.

But before she could even begin her attack, Sanemi disappeared from her sight and appeared right before Kankuro who was unable to react to him. "Wind Breathing Second Form: Claws Purifying Wind."

He lifted the sword upwards towards the right, above his head and did a vertical slash down creating four blades of wind that slashed down on Kankuro like a claws. As he completed his attack, Kankuro was sliced into 5 long pieces but suddenly a dozen of shenbons shot out from Kankuro's mouth as it turned out to be just a puppet. The real Kankuro then came out from the puppet that he was carrying on his back.

"Sneaky Bastard. Wind Breathing-" Before Sanemi could finish his sentence, he himself got cut into two as a wind blade passed through him.

"Wind Release: Wind Cutter Technique." Temari said as Sanemi died with a look of confusion on his face. But as they relaxed their muscles, a pink haired boy came out of nowhere and snatched Kankuro's badge before he shunshined away in a burst of speed.

Before the Sand duo could comprehend what had just happened, Yuji was already gone, leaving no tracks behind. "You idiot!" Temari roared at Kankuro who was shocked by what had just happened.

In a span of few minutes, Yuji was already few kilometres away from them and was still running away. "Phew! That was easy."

"And where do you think you are going?" A female voice came form behind as he felt a sting in his back. He turned in mid air to see who it was, only to get kicked to the ground as Shinobu crouched on his body.

Yuji's eye twitched as he kicked away Shinobu from him with enough force to send her flying a few hundred meters away. "Who the hell are you?" Yuji said as he stood up and walked towards Shinobu.

But as he took a few steps forwards, blood gushed out from his mouth as he suddenly felt his whole-body stiff. He fell on the ground instantly as his eyes dialated several times before he went cold. The last thing he saw was Shinobu walking towards him with blood dripping from her unsheathed sword. "Poison, huh?!"

"You have one more badge, eh?" Shinobu said as she checked Yuji's body.

"Then how about you give that extra badge to me?" Kai spoke from the shadows as he shunshined behind her.

"And what would I get in return?" Shinobu asked as he turned around to face Kai.

"I will spare your life." Kai said.

Third Day

Lee still hadn't moved from that place since all that time. He was just sitting under that tree for 3 whole day and now, Sakura was hitting her limit. There was no way he could survive without water, and not mention to pass this round he had to hunt down his target too.

Sakura was at the brink of challenging him head on when Lee finally stood up. He stretched his body while looking around. He then started walking away from there in the direction of one of the branches of the river. As he made his way to the river, Sakura also followed him and got into the river even before he could reach there.

After strolling for a while, Lee finally reached the river. After being thirsty for three whole days, Lee quickly knelt on the river to drink to his content. But as he was drinking, suddenly the water started rising around him and before he could get away, he got trapped into a viscous water sphere.

"Water Release: Water Prison Jutsu." Sakura said as she put her hand on the sphere. Lee tried to get away from the sphere but his efforts seemed useless as even lifting a finger felt like pushing a mountain.

"It is useless. Just give up." Sakura said as Lee finally noticed her. He immediately recognised her but giving up was not an option.

"You are really good but I don't think it will be enough to hold me." Lee tried to speak but wasn't able to open his mouth. Suddenly green aura covered him as he finally moved his hand, then his legs and finally his whole body. In a matter of seconds, he effortlessly broke out of the Water Prison and jumped away from Sakura, while she stood in the middle of the river.

"Gate of Rest: OPEN!" Lee said as the aura around him intensified sending strong gusts of wind away from him. After breaking out of the sphere, he went closed his gates and went back to normal.

"What is this!?" Sakura said in fear. "That was the strongest jutsu I had for incapacitation."

"How ironic. It seems that we both are each other's target." Lee said looking at Sakura's badge.

"You mean-" Sakura said.

"Yes. You are my target and I am yours. Whoever wins this fight will pass this round." Lee said as he took his fighting stance.

"Fair Enough." Sakura said as she went through a set of hand seals as a water dragon emerged from the river and attacked Lee. But as the dragon dived at Lee, he disappeared from there in a burst of speed and appeared a meter away from Sakura, ready to send her flying in the woods.

But as he was about to kick Sakura, he instinctively jumped away from her. The moment he jumped back, 4 big spiked of water emerged form the river and impaled the place where he was standing.

"Alright, enough play. Now it is about time to get real." Lee said as disappeared and reappeared before Sakura in an instant. Sakura tried to jump away but before she could move her legs, Lee kicked her on the jaw, sending her flying up high.

"What happened?!" Sakura said as her eyes opened in mid air.

"Dancing Leaf Shadow Jutsu." Lee said as he reappeared behind her and the bandages around his hand got unravelled. Sakura turned her head to look at Lee, but Lee had already tied her in bandages, as he grabbed her from behind and dived down with both their heads facing the ground.

"Let go of me!" Sakura tried to break the bindings but it seemed futile. Lee then shot her at the river surface as he jumped away at the final moment, slamming his head on the shallow river.

As the water settled, Sakura's unconscious body surfaced on the river. He jaw was broken, her neck was fractured and she was bleeding from her head, causing the river water to go red.

"It seems I won." Lee said as he picked up Sakura and laid her under a tree. He then took her badge and walked away.

With Neji and Sasuke

"Who are you guys?" Megumi asked Neji, who was standing before him along with Sasuke.

"I am here to take your badge. You are chosen to be my target." Neji said.

"I see. So, it's a two vs one." Megumi said as a black sword emerged from his shadow.

"You seem to misinterpret the situation; I will fight you one on one." Neji said as he walked towards Megumi.

"Is that so? What is the guarantee that your partner will not engage me after I defeat you?" Megumi said.

"Why are you so confident about defeating me?" Neji said as he activated his byakugan.

"You will find out. And about the situation, I can take both of you at once, so feel free to exploit the situation." Megumi said as he dashed at Neji, ready to cut him in two. But as he was about to move down his sword, Neji released a high-speed palm thrust as Megumi.

Megumi instinctively withdrew his sword and placed its flat surface before his chest, as a high-pressured wind sent him flying away. "Tch, guess I would have to get serious." Megumi said in mid-air as he made a unique hand seal and a huge owl-like creature appeared below him, preventing him from falling on the ground.

"What's that!? Summoning without Blood?" Sasuke asked.

"And it seems that the creature he summoned isn't real either." Neji said.

"Want me to help taking down that creature?" Sasuke said.

"No thanks, I have enough jutsu in my arsenal to deal with this type of threat." Neji said.

"It is called shikigami. It is the secret technique of the zennin clan which is used along with the Shadow Manipulation Kekkei Genkai." Megumi said as the bird dived at Neji. But as the bird came close enough to attack Neji, he spined in his axis to form a sphere around him that deflected the bird.

But much to Neji's surprise, the bird didn't came back at him but instead went after Sasuke, ready to tear him down with its claws. "After me?" Sasuke said as he shot a Shiden bolt at the bird making it reduce to shadows. But before the bird got destroyed, Megumi jumped off from it and landed between Sasuke and Neji.

"What was that technique? You actually threw a lightning bolt." Megumi said.

"It's called Shiden, a friend of mine created it." Sasuke said.

"That's a pretty powerful technique. So, I would have to increase my attack potency too." Megumi said as he made another hand seal.

"Not so fast!" Neji said as he dashed at Megumi but suddenly his shadow expanded and a black hound with white patches emerged from it to attack Neji.

"Divine Dog: Totality!" Megumi said as a black hound with white patches emerged from his shadow. The dog flew in the air and immediately attacked Neji while Megumi summoned his black sword again and dashed at Sasuke.

"Me again? What did I do to you?" Sasuke said as he activate his Sharingan he while swiftly dodged every slash of Megumi, moving backwards in the process.

"Come back here!" Neji said as he tried to knock out the dog with his Vacuum Palm but as he released the jutsu, the dog instantly dodged it dashed at Neji. 'Not good. One slash from its claws and I will be diced up in pieced.'

"Eight Trigram Palm Rotation." Neji said as he rotated on his axis to defend against the dog creating a sphere of chakra around himself while sending the hound a few meters away.

"Mongrel!" Neji said as he and the hound dashed at each other. "Eight Trigram: Sixty Four Palms!" Neji said as in an instant, he delivered 64 precise strikes at the hound, dispelling him in the process.

Meanwhile Sasuke's back finally touched a gigantic tree as was finally cornered my Megumi. Megumi raised his sword to finally finish Sasuke, once and for all. As he slashed his sword down, Sasuke blocked the sword with his kunai.

But much to Sasuke's surprise, Megumi smirked as he dug his sword into the tree and formed another unique hand sign as Sasuke felt some fluid beneath his feet. Suddenly a confused look masked Sasuke's face as a huge Snake emerged from beneath him and caught Sasuke in its mouth him while it kept emerging until it reached thrice the height of the tree.

Megumi then made another hand seal as a different owl-like creature appeared behind him which flew at the head of the serpent. As he neared Sasuke, who was caught by the serpent, lightning cranked around it, ready to electrocute Sasuke.

"I am sorry, Neji." Sasuke said as purple lightning cranked all around the serpent before it blasted into tiny pieces. Sasuke then shot another bolt of Shiden at the bird, killing it too. He then glared at Megumi in mid air who was staring right back at him.

At that moment, Sasuke coated his hand in Shiden while Megumi summoned a red spear from his shadows. They gave each other the death stare before they launched themselves at each other.

As they clashed a few meters above the ground a bright light radiated from the point of impact. For a second, nothing was visible but when the light faded out, Sasuke landed on the ground, with a spear stabbed in his right shoulder. Then a thud sound came as Megumi dropped on the ground, having a cavity in his chest and a missing heart that got destroyed by Sasuke's Shiden.

"Why did you kill him?" Neji asked as he walked towards him.

"What else was I supposed to do? He came at me first and he had no intention of stopping before killing me." Sasuke said as Neji gritted his teeth. He wanted to take his badge himself and not the rely on anyone.

"Come on, what's done is done. You can fight your fair share in the final round." Sasuke said as he gave Neji Megumi's badge.

Fifth Day

The fourth day was just eventless. Nothing significant happened in that time period. Those who had enough points, just rested where they were and those who didn't, searched for their targets, though the only one still searching was Rui.

And on the afternoon of the fifth day, she also managed to track down her target, that was Tenten. What took her so long was that was that she and Tenten were revolving on the edge of the island on opposite sides. But last night, Rui decided to rotate counter clockwise and in six hours, she finally found tenten.

"Ha! Found ya!" Rui exclaimed.

"What do you mean, found ya?" Tenten asked.

"Don't act dumb. I was searching for you for the last four days." Rui pointed her finger at Tenten.

"So, I am your target?" Tenten asked but Rui unsheathed her sword and dashed at her. Tenten immediately unsealed a Katana from a scroll and crossed blades with Rui's.

What happened next was not a battle by any means, at best it was mockery of Tenten. And this was when Rui was not even trying mock her. The dual ended before it could start with Rui knocking out Tenten.

With that, the third phase of the Chunnin Exams finally ended. Those who made it to the finals were:

Gaara: 44, 301

Temari: 246, 101

Sasuke: 405, 96

Rui: 69, 498

Haku: 99, 108

Kai: 77, 80, 53, 403

Lee: 294, 158

Neji: 404, 91

Shinobu: 289, 16

On the morning of the eighth day, Shisui, Naruto (in disguise of Kiritsugu) and a team of other jonin, chunnins and medics arrived on the island to escort all the participants from the island. Those who had passed the third round were taken to a separate building in the centre of Konoha.

"Congratulations, you all have passed the third round exam and now it is about time for the fourth round." Kiritsugu said.

"What!? The fourth round will start now?" Sasuke asked.

"Of course not. It will commence 10 days later. But to decide who will fight whom, I will need to ask a few questions from all of you, separately." Kiritsugu said.

"What questions?" Temari asked.

"You will know soon enough. Come inside the room when your name is called." Kiritsugu said as he entered a separate room and shut the door.

With Gaara

"Make your self comfortable." Kiritsugu said gesturing Gaara to sit down.

"What is point of asking questions?" Gaara asked.

"Oh, nothing. It is just to satisfy my own curiosity." Naruto said. "Of the other participants, who interests you the most?"

"The Uzumaki guy who participated six years ago." Gaara said getting an odd look from Kiritsugu.

"I meant participants from this exam." Kiritsugu said.

"Then it will be number 301[Kai]. Number 405 [Sasuke] also caught my eye." Gaara said.

"Alright. And which of the other participants would you avoid fighting." Kiritsugu asked.

"None." Gaara said.

"Thank you. You may leave" Kiritsugu said writing the information the a paper.

With Temari

"Of the other participants, who interests you the most?"

"None." Temari said.

"And who would you avoid fighting?"

"Number 44 [Gaara] and 301 [Kai]."

With Sasuke

"Of the other participants, who interests you the most?"

"Number 44 [Gaara], 99 [Haku] and 404 [Neji]."

"And who would you avoid fighting."

"Number 69 [Rui]."

With Rui

"Of the other participants, who interests you the most?"

"Number 246 [Temari] and 289 [Shinobu]."

"And who would you avoid fighting."

"Number 99 [Haku] and 405 [Sasuke]."

With Haku

"Of the other participants, who interests you the most?"

"Number 294 [Lee], 404 [Neji] and 301 [Kai]."

"And who would you avoid fighting?"

"Number 69 [Rui] and 44 [Gaara]."

With Kai.

"Of the other participants, who interests you the most?"

"None."

"And who would you avoid fighting?"

"None."

With Lee

"Of the other participants, who interests you the most?"

"Number 301 [Kai], 404 [Neji] and 405 [Sasuke]."

"And who would you avoid fighting?"

"None."

With Neji

"Of the other participants, who interests you the most?"

"Number 405 [Sasuke] and 294 [Lee]."

"And who would you avoid fighting?"

"None. I will fight anyone if necessary."

With Shinobu

"Of the other participants, who interests you the most?"

"Number 405 [Sasuke], 404 [Neji] and 301 [Kai]."

"And who would you avoid fighting?"

"Number 246 [Temari], 44 [Gaara] and 301 [Kai]."

xXx

"That was interesting." Kiritsugu said as Shisui, Anko and Ibiki shunshined before him.

"Is there any reason for that disguise?" Anko asked.

"Yeah, well I don't want the gennin to be bothered by the fact that a boy of their age is their examiner." Naruto said as he reverted back to his original self.

"How considerate of you." Shisui said in a teasing manner.

"Anyways, here is the brackets I have designed for the final round." Naruto said as he unrolled a scroll.

"As I said earlier, the final phase of the exams will be unique." Naruto said as everyone got a shocked and confused look on their faces. But as Naruto was sitting there, he suddenly sensed a strong presence halfway across the village.

"I have some business to attend to." Naruto said before disappearing in a purple flash.

Hot Springs

Jiraiya was hiding on a rooftop to peep on the bathing women. That was until a purple lightning fell right behind him, taking his attention. After the lightning faded away, the most unexpected figure presented himself to Jiraiya.

"Took you long enough to finally come to Konoha." Naruto said. He was not in his ANBU uniform but a traditional White Kimono with three red strips on the sleeves and a red collar, matching his white hair. He was also wearing a pair of geta with two tooth, similar to Jiraiya's.

Due to the white hair, Jiraiya had some trouble in recognising the boy. But with the help of his facial features, he finally figured it out. "Naruto?"

"Yeah, that's me." Naruto said as he walked towards Jiraiya and stopped just before him.

"Isn't your hair supposed to be yellow?" Jiraiya asked. But suddenly he realised that his heritage was supposed to be a secret, and not even he was supposed to know that.

"There was a time when it used to be yellow, but now it's all white." Naruto said as he unconsciously touched his hair.

"So, it seems that you know me(?)" Jiraiya asked.

"Yeah. Which ninja of Konoha doesn't know about the Legendary Sannins." Naruto said.

"You know me just as a Sannin?" Jiraiya said in a mixture of confusion and relief.

"You are my godfather too, but that's barely something to brag about." Naruto said looking in the sky.

"You know?!" Jiraiya asked in a confused loud voice. "What else do you know?"

"Cool down. It seems that you have blown your cover yourself." Naruto said as the women in the hot spring started running away while screaming the word 'pervert'. "Let's go somewhere quiet."

With that Naruto disappeared followed by Jiraiya. Soon Jiraiya recognized the path Naruto was leading as they ended up in the Uzumaki estate.

"You came ear-" Zabuza stopped in middle when he noticed the 191 cm tall Sannin. "Jiraiya of the Sannin!?"

"Who is he?" Jiraiya pointed at Zabuza.

"We met in the Land of Waves. He is actually from Kirigakure and the wielder of the Kubokiribochou. But he has defected from the village and is now a Konoha ninja." Naruto said.

"But what is he doing here." Jiraiya asked.

"He lives here along with his student." Naruto said.

"Oh, I see. But that doesn't make any sense." Jiraiya said.

"It is a long story, but now he is a part of Uzumaki household." Naruto said.

"Whatever. Tell me the story when you are free." Jiraiya said.

"Come with me." Naruto said as he led Jiraiya in his room.

"Did he actually let someone enter his room?" Zabuza said in amusement.

Naruto's Room.

Unlike other kids, Naruto's room was the cleanest one Jiraiya has ever seen, though he hadn't seen that many to judge. What grabbed Jiraiya's attention was the Hokage cloak pinned on the wall and the advanced seal scrolls that were on the table.

"From what I can tell, it seems that you know pretty much everything." Jiraiya said.

"Yep. But I won't go that far to say that I know everything." Naruto said as he sat on his bed gesturing Jiraiya to sit as well. Jiraiya then pulled a chair and sat on it.

"I am sorry for not being here earlier. So, would you mind to fill me up on the details that happened in past 10 years." Jiraiya asked.

"Alright. Until I was five, nothing worth mentioning happened. Then I started studying scrolls and met Gai sensei. I studied for some time until one day I discovered Dad's picture in the Hokage Office. I connected the dots and then Sarutobi-Sensei confessed to me about my heritage and my jinchuriki status. He also began training me and then I got into the academy, made some friends and passed it in one year." Naruto said as he recalled the previous events.

"Then I got into a gennin team and got a mission in the land of rivers. There I met Juzo Biwa and he slaughtered my team, but I managed to defeat him. Then I passed the Chunnin Exams and became a chunnin. And by the time I was 10, I got promoted to Jonin. And then I got into ANBU. The first three years were pretty good, but then I had to kill the whole family of the Daimyo of the Land of Waves. And some dark things happed after that too, but I would refrain from mentioning that. After that here I am." Naruto said.

"I see." Jiraiya said. "You are nothing less than a prodigy."

"Thanks, Jiraiya-Sama." Naruto said.

"No need for formalities." Jiraiya said as he patted on Naruto's shoulder.

"Hmm. About the bloodline limit, do you happen to awaken your's?" Jiraiya asked.

"I have." Naruto said as he materialized a chain from his hand, to which Jiraiya smiled.

"And the other one?" Jiraiya asked as Naruto's eyes changed into the Six Tomoe Sharingan. Suddenly a confused look appeared of Jiraiya's face.

"How do you have a sharingan?" Jiraiya asked.

"Which else second Kekkei Genkai were you talking about?" Naruto asked as he reverted his eyes back to normal.

"That is weird. The Kekkei Genkai I am talking about manifests at the age of five or six. You should have awakened that ability, but instead you have a sharingan." Jiraiya said looking closely at Naruto's eyes.

"Do you have any memory of your father, something related to Child of Prophecy?" Jiraiya asked.

"He did call me that before dying." Naruto said.

"Hmmm. There are so many different possibilities." Jiraiya said.

"What exactly are you talking about? And you don't looked shocked after seeing my sharingan like others." Naruto asked.

"Oh nothing. Forget about what I said. And just so you know, your maternal grandmother was an Uchiha, and that's where you got your sharingan form, though I had assumed that the bloodline was diluted to the point where it couldn't be awakened." Jiraiya said as he stood up.

"I am home!" Both of them heard Rui's voice as she entered the house.

"What is a girl doing in here? And why is she calling this her home?" Jiraiya asked as he raised a single eyebrow.

"She is Rui-Chan. She also lives here." Naruto said.

"You didn't told me about that." Jiraiya said as a goofy grin appeared on his face before he sat down again.

"She can explain it better." Naruto said before he disappeared from Jiraiya's sight.

'Using Lightning Release to boost speed. A crafty one, aren't you?' Jiraiya thought before making to way down stairs to understand about the whole scenario and who else lived in Naruto's house.


Beta Read by Yuzuki476

Author's Note

This chapter concludes the Chunnin Exams arc, and with the next chapter I will start the Konoha Crush Arc. This chapter gave answer to some of your questions but also created other questions too. Atleast the queries about Naruto's sharingan are all answered.

One more thing I would like to inform to you guys is that the next chapter might take longer than expected as I don't have all the free time I used to have. You can also call it a break of some sort, that will probably last till the winters.