Authors note: If you got an update about a new chapter but you've already read this one, its because I added a chapter in the middle of the story so it pushed this chapter to CH 13 but it was originally Ch 12. The new chapter is Chapter 8: Lets Get This Bread. Sorry for the confusion.


Arc 3: The Second Great Ninja War

Chapter 13: Blood Filled Ravines

"Kochi, get up."

A muffled groan escaped from under the puffy comforter.

"Kochi, if you don't get up, we'll be late."

A mop of messy hair followed by two emerald eyes poked out from under the comforter. After a short deliberation, they retreated into the warm darkness that was under the blanket.

"No thanks." The sleepy girl said.

Arashi sighed and rubbed his forehead in frustration. How could such a hard worker be so lazy in the morning? Once she was up and ready, she was all about training. But in the transition between waking up and getting ready for the day, it was always a constant battle.

Arashi sighed again and mentally prepared for the beating he was about to receive. Walking into the bathroom he filled up a cup of cold water and walked back into Kochi's bedroom. He grabbed the comforter, took one last breath and yanked the blanket to reveal Kochi curled into a cozy ball. A hiss escaped from the girl, and her hands flew to her eyes to shield them from the light. Arashi tossed the cold water at her face, making sure to get as much as possible in her mouth that was open ready to yell at him.

"What the fuc.." the girl yelled with a mouth full of cold water. He slowly backed away as she thrashed and wiped the liquid from her face. Kaito sidestepped a flying pillow and unlatched the lock on the window. He slid the window up and took one last glance at Kochi. Like something out of a nightmare, the black-haired girl slowly sat up and swiveled her head towards him.

She lunged and without hesitation, he dove through the window. As he plummeted toward the street below, he yelled, "Meet at the front gate in forty-five minutes. Pack for two weeks!"

Arashi twisted in midair and landed with a thud in the busy street. The contents of his backpack didn't make a single noise due to the packing technique Jiraiya painfully drilled into him. On their first excursion out of the Leaf a month ago Jiraiya had taught him an embarrassing lesson. After hearing Arashi's equipment jingle, Jiraiya had taken his backpack and emptied its contents into the dirt, telling him to re-pack it until it didn't make any noise. In the knife-edge world ninjas worked in, the sound of a tin mug banging against a buckle on your backpack could bring your team death.

Arashi raced off towards the front gate where an ever-punctual Minato would already be waiting, most likely grilling Jiraiya on every minute detail of the mission. Over the past 4 months, he and Kochi had grown close to Minato. But there were a couple of quirks he hadn't expected.

Minato was always friendly if not on the quiet side. But he and Kochi found out that their new teammate could talk you to death if it was about certain ninja topics. Specifically, anything about mission details, ninja techniques, and above all else seals.

The mission could be about catching an escaped noble's cat and Minato would ask twenty questions. By the end, they knew the cat's favorite food, how many times it napped, and the cat's parents' names. But by far the worst was seals. It was so bad Arashi and Kochi actively tried to steer conversations in another direction if it seemed like seals could make an entrance. Unfortunately, their sensei loved seals as well. Minato and Jiraiya would often spend hours talking about seals to his and Kochi's dismay.

Arashi rounded the last corner, and the front gate came into view. On the right side leaning against the wall was an excited Minato accompanied by a rather sleepy-looking Jiraiya who leaned lazily against the wall. Their sensei was absent-mindedly nodding and grunting to Minato's endless questions about the mission. Minato turned and acknowledged Arashi's arrival with a friendly wave.

"Good morning sensei. Good morning, Minato. Kochi should be here shortly."

Sensei snorted, "I swear, that girl and mornings is like oil and water. If I didn't shake her out of her sleeping bag last mission, she'd still be out there sound asleep."

Arashi smiled at the memory of Jiraiya hefting the girl still in her sleeping bag and shaking her out. She slowly slid out of it and landed on her head. The three boys laughed until they saw the cold stare that pierced through Kochi's disheveled hair.

"Did you remind her to pack for two weeks?" Jiraiya asked.

"Yea I did. But you never told us where we're going. You only mentioned we got another C rank mission after yesterday's training."

Jiraiya grunted in affirmation, "Another genin team suffered an injury so we got subbed at the last minute. We're delivering some orders to a couple of camps near the Land of Fire's northeastern border. Looks like Lord Third and the war council are changing some things around to adjust to the increase of skirmishes with Land of Lightning."

"I thought things settled down on that front?" Minato questioned.

Arashi nodded in agreement. All three of them had been pushed up a year because of the intense increase in fighting that came as a reaction to the Leaf Villages' successes in the Land of Rain. But things especially on the eastern and northeastern front had died down shortly after. The heaviest fighting was still with the Land of Stone.

"They had, until recently. Some worrying intel from that region points to increased cloud ninja movement. Proof of this has come with increased skirmishes and incursions in the no man's land between our and their front lines. The Leaf war council is most likely reacting to this." Jiraiya said as he hefted his pack onto his back and nodded at something behind Arashi.

Arashi turned to see a very grumpy-looking Kochi trudging down the main road. A comb in one hand viciously attacked her bedhead in an attempt to straighten out the last remaining knots. She stopped next to him and whispered, "I ran into Kushina on the way here. She's going to help me get payback for your stunt this morning."

Arashi swallowed nervously and looked for some help from his male teammates. Blank stares were all he received.

Jiraiya clapped to get their attention. "Well, now that our last member is here, let's get started. We've got several days of hard traveling ahead if we are to reach the first of the war camps on time." With a nod of his head towards the front gate, Jiraiya disappeared in a blur. Minato was the first to react and leaped off into the trees.

"Another trip to the border. It's like they're trying to put us in danger." Kochi grumbled as she fumbled with the strap on her backpack. "The other genin from our class haven't even left the village yet, and this is our third c-rank outside of the walls."

"True, we've only been genin for four months and were getting c-ranks much faster than normal. But then again, our teamwork is getting much better. They need us out there."

Kochi gave him an eye roll, "they need Jiraiya and the blonde genius out there. If we weren't on their team, we wouldn't be pushed so hard."

Arashi nodded in agreement. The training Jiraiya provided was amazing. The progress both he and Kochi have made these past four months was astonishing. But it comes with a price. Jiraiya and Minato are high-profile ninja to the leaf. Jiraiya for his strength, and Minato for his obvious potential. Thankfully, neither of the previous c-rank missions resulted in violence. But Arashi had a feeling thing wouldn't stay so peaceful for his team very long. After several months of stalemates, it appeared the war was heating up. And from the current state of the Leaf hospital, it appeared like the Leaf could use every ninja they had.

He sighed and gave Kochi a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder. "I wouldn't worry too much about it. Common we're falling behind."

With a sarcastic grunt from his best friend, they both set off through the main gate once more into the world beyond the Leaf's protective walls.

Arashi dropped his backpack and tore off his sweaty shirt. Yesterday they had delivered the first scroll to the northeastern most camp. And despite them running into no trouble, the climate and terrain in this region made them work hard for every step.

Despite the majority of its land being covered in forests, the Land of Fire's border regions were all diverse. The arid desert of the Land of Wind to the west created a savannah biome that blended the desert and forest. To the northeast, the endless rain of the Land of Rain transitioned into the rocky outcroppings and mushroom forests bordering the Land of Stone. The Land of Fires border to the east was almost completely a swamp. The raging oceans slowly turned into mangroves and shallow meandering rivers. Once you traveled far enough in, salt water gave way to muddy mosquito-infested swamps.

But from all his geography lessons, the northeast region always seemed the most interesting. Almost the entirety of the Land of Lightning sat on a plateau. Multiple snow-packed mountain ranges always hidden behind lightning-filled clouds traced up and down its raised landscape. The high peaked mountains could be seen from hundreds of miles away. They served as a guardians of the inner fertile valleys where most of the Land of Lightnings population resided. A stark reminder that no nation had gotten even close to a successful invasion into the Land of Lightning. These snowcapped peaks gradually lessened in severity as they dropped down towards the Land of Fires border, but cliffs and deep ravines still peppered the landscape.

In the past two days, Arashi had been mesmerized by the cascading lightning storms that flowed down from the plateau. They rolled across the landscape and drenched everything in their path. Endless clouds tumbled over the cliffs battering them with lightning. A brisk wind brought an endless dull hum that permeated through the entire canyon. The air itself crackled with energy.

Unfortunately, the storms that were so fun to watch from afar were not as much fun when they were literally on top of you. This was the third time today Arashi had taken off his shirt to wring it dry of the cold rainwater and sweat.

Kochi to his left was not coping much better, her hair was in a permanent state of fizz from the electricity in the air.

But most surprising was Minato. It turned out the top of the class, blonde wonder child, Hokage wannabe had a fear of heights. Despite being an expert at tree walking and water walking, Minato's knees were constantly shaking. And god did Jiraiya take advantage. Three times Arashi watched Jiraiya lure a shaking Minato to the edge promising an interesting factoid about the environment only to jokingly give Minato a push. Each tease left Minato paler than an Uchiha.

After several hours of staying close behind Minato at his request, Arashi had asked him what specifically the issue was. They had been high up in trees hundreds of times during training and Minato's fear never surfaced. A very nervous Minato turned, placed a shaky hand on Arashi's shoulder for support, and whimpered that it was the steep cliffs and bottomless ravines that were the issue. The endless onslaught of the rain making everything slippery probably didn't help either.

But at least his fear of steep cliffs put a stop to his sealing questions. Something Kochi very much enjoyed when she curled up in her cozy sleeping bag to get some sleep.

"Break is over. We have another couple of hours at this pace before we reach the next camp." Jiraiya said seriously from a rocky overhang above them. "Oh, and Minato, get your shit together. You're slowing us down."

"Yes sensei." All three of them spoke in unison. Minato a little gloomier than the rest.

Arashi walked over to Minato and kneeled next to him. Minato was drawing circles in the dirt with a twig. "Hey, there's nothing here you can't handle. You've got lightning-fast reflexes and the best chakra control out of the three of us. You will catch yourself before you slip even a foot in distance. And if that doesn't work, I'll catch you."

Minato smiled at him with a slight red tinge on his cheeks. He scratched the back of his head in obvious embarrassment. "Thanks, Arashi. I'm just a bit off today."

Arashi gave him a nod and patted his shoulder, he then stood back up and took his spot at the back of the line. After a minute, Jiraiya dropped down from the overhang and took his position at the front of the line. With a wave of his hand, they continued their march.

Due to the steep terrain, there was only enough room for a single file line on the path they were following. Jiraiya took the lead, followed by Kochi, a shaky Minato, and him at the back. A steep wall was on their left and a bottomless ravine on their right.

Minato had asked earlier who had created these paths and Jiraiya informed them that they were most likely goat herding paths. Long before the ninja villages, herdsmen often hid the full extent of their herds in these mountains to cut their taxes. The Fire and Lightning Daimyos had taxes on all livestock. Every year farmers were required to give a certain percentage of their herd over to help feed the Daimyo forces. The herdsman often hid much of their herd in these mountains to cut the percentage. They used these paths to traverse the difficult terrain and doge the tax collectors.

Arashi had laughed at this. It looked like cheating taxes was a common occurrence and not just unique to Tekan.

Suddenly Jiraiya's hand shot up and they all dropped low. Arashi's hand gripped the handle of his katana tightly. Silence permeated the air, even the dull hum of the wind passing through the canyon seemed to die down.

"Cloud ninja!" Jiraiya yelled breaking the silence just as two kunai with explosive tags embedded themselves into the path. One landed between him and Minato, the other between Kochi and Jiraiya.

Arashi had just enough time to raise his hand in defense as the bright flash forced him to close his eyes. The heat and shockwave were next. They crashed into him singing the hairs on his arm and launched him down the steep stairs he had just climbed. He tumbled to a stop just as another kunai clanged against the stone a foot in front of his face. A familiar hissing sound reached his ears. Arashi in a prone state had no option but to roll to his right and over the edge.

The explosion went off above him sending chunks of stone over the edge that pelted his body. Noticing his roll had put him out of arm's reach of the wall to his left, his hands burst into action as he plummeted towards his death.

Wind style Gale Breath!

A small gale of wind exploded out of his mouth and pushed him back towards the wall. He twisted in mid-air and channeled chakra to his hands and feet. His extremities crashed against the wall, but the chakra kept him from bouncing off. His rapid descent skidded to a halt, and he looked up the vertical wall. He'd fallen maybe sixty meters. The sound of steel clashing rang out from two locations above. It looked like the enemy ninja's plan was to separate them and it worked. He had to get back up there and join his team. With any luck, the enemy would think he died.

A shadow crossed over the wall he clung onto, and his hopes were dashed. He looked up to see a figure silhouetted by the sun sprinting down the slope towards him. A kunai in one hand and a bloodthirsty grin on his face.

Arashi unsheathed his katana and sprinted upward to meet him. Arashi swung first and the teenager blocked his slash with his kunai. Sparks flew as Arashi blocked the next attack and then ducked under a brutal kick aimed at his head. The teenager was faster and stronger and was already pushing Arashi back down the slope, further away from his team. Arashi backpaddled and quickly snuck a glance down, but all he saw was grey fog. He glanced back up just in time to bring his sword up and block another slice aimed at opening his gut. With a grunt, he pushed the Cloud ninja's hand back and slashed out with his katana in an attempt to gain some space.

Wrong move.

The Cloud ninja's hands were a blur and half a second later the ninja stomped a foot down hard against the wall. A pillar of earth shot out from between his legs and barreled down towards Arashi. He ducked to one side, but wasn't fast enough and the stone jutsu caught his left shoulder and dislodged him from the wall. Arashi plummeted down rotating madly in the air, the thick fog in the canyon encircled him and blinded his vision. The impact on his shoulder added a spin to his fall and he no longer knew which way was the wall. That was until he crashed shoulder-first into stone. He gasped as the breath was knocked out of him and a sharp pain erupted from his side. He heard his katana clatter to the ground several feet away and he rolled onto his back and desperately tried to get air into his lungs.

He looked up into the fog and saw a shadow growing in size. Arashi quickly rolled to the side just as a boulder pierced through the fog and crashed into the spot he had previously occupied. Then a glint of steel caught his attention followed by the humanoid form holding it.

Arashi didn't have time to roll away before the ninja was on top of him barring down hard with a kunai aimed at his throat. Arashi gripped the kunai with both hands, the sharp edges cut into his palms as he strained against the bigger ninja bearing down on him. Sweat from grinning teen hit his cheek.

"So young, you can't be more than thirteen. Just give up and I'll make it quick. I promise." The teen said through gritted teeth. He strained again and the kunai dipped an inch closer to Arashi's neck.

"You're going to die down here, and no one is going to find your body. Another forgotten soul. And when I'm done with you, I'm going to join my comrades up there in torturing your friends."

Think Arashi think!

He screamed in his head. Another couple seconds of this and he was dead. The muscles in his arms screamed in pain, desperate for oxygen, desperate for a brake. The cloud ninja noticed this and put yet more weight behind the kunai aimed at his throat. Arashi gasped again and finally managed to get some air into his lungs after the fall had knocked it out.

That's it! Breath!

Arashi spit in the man's eyes to distract him and quickly formed several hand seals. Thankfully the way he was holding the kunai with both hands he was able to form the required hand seals around the bloody weapon.

"You little shit!" The Cloud ninja said as he shook his head trying to clear his eyes.

Arashi took a small breath and condensed it in his throat. With his current skill, he could only manage one at a time. But it had to do.

Wind Style Air Bullet!

Arashi opened his mouth and a small sphere of air the size of a fingernail shot out towards the enemy ninja's face. He heard a sickening wet crunch and closed his eyes as blood splattered all over his face. The Cloud ninja crumpled on top of him and Arashi flung the kunai to the side before it pierced his throat.

Arashi gasped for breath and pushed the limp body off him. Two more seconds and his arms would have given out. Then just like the ninja had said, his body would have been lost down here forever. Arashi rolled over and the sharp pain in his side from the fall returned. He pushed himself onto his hands and knees and coughed up blood. It pooled out of his mouth and onto the cold dark stone.

Shit.

He reached up to his side and gently searched for an open wound. He found none but there was still a sharp pain, and he was having trouble breathing. It must be internal.

He had to get moving. Kochi needed him.

He pushed himself up and stumbled over to his katana. He reached down to grab it but paused at the sight before him. A foot from his katana was another ledge and over the ledge was a two hundred meter drop to the bottom of the canyon. He glanced around and noticed he was on a slab of stone about ten feet by ten feet jutting out from the wall. If he had been several feet to his left when he was hit by that earth style, he'd be dead. Nothing but a bloody puddle at the bottom of the ravine.

A scream far above knocked him from his internal musings, he grabbed his katana and headed back towards the wall. He channeled chakra into his hands and feet and started his painful run back up the cliff. How far he'd fallen surprised him, his initial tumble of the path had sent him a good fifty meters down. He gave ground during his vertical fight on the wall as well. But the second drop was surprising. He must have fallen almost another fifty meters.

He was lucky. No, he was beyond lucky to have survived. And he had a feeling if he didn't get medical attention soon, the fall may yet claim him.

As he neared the path, he heard another scream and this one sounded like Kochi. He resisted every urge he had to sprint the last couple of feet and instead slowed down and quietly peered over the edge. A female ninja wearing standard cloud ninja equipment towered over a limping Kochi who backed up slowly towards the wall.

"You fucking little bitch! That was my boyfriend you gutted." The female ninja screamed. She had one of Kochi's tantos in her hand and was moving in for the kill. Kochi pressed further back into the wall and winced in pain. She was holding her leg and Arashi could see her hand was bloody from an open wound.

Arashi unsheathed his katana and silently crept over the ledge. He'd only have one chance. In his current state, a prolonged fight with a larger opponent would not end well. As he fully rose over the edge Kochi caught sight of him and instead of relief, fear crossed her face for a brief second. But her eyes quickly adverted back to the ninja to not alert her of the incoming danger from behind.

Arashi took a quick breath and lunged. The enemy ninja only had time to swivel her head before Arashi thrust his katana through the left side of her back where her heart should be. The woman inhaled sharply in pain before Arashi wrenched his sword up and cut through her collarbone. The blade exited her body, and a spray of crimson blood plastered the wall. The women crumpled to the floor revealing a wide-eyed Kochi huddled against the wall.

Arashi rushed to her side and brushed aside her bloody hand to look at the wound on her thigh. Kochi stayed silent and struggled to get her breath under control. Thankfully the wound wasn't deep, no artery had been cut. He reached into his thigh pouch and pulled out some white cloth and tied it tightly around the wound. A shaking hand touched his chin and raised his gaze. Kochi stared teary-eyed into his.

"I thought you were dead. I..I..saw you get blown over the edge." She barely managed to say as her entire body trembled.

Arashi smiled and grabbed her shaking hand between both of his bloody ones. "Not today, Kochi. I'm not going anywhere." He took another breath and did his best to hide the pain it caused him. "But we need to get moving and find the others. Can you stand?"

Kochi smiled and nodded. He let go of her hand and helped her stand.

The sound of gravel underfoot alerted them of people coming their way from up the path. Arashi readied his katana and Kochi grabbed one of her bloody tantos from the floor.

Thankfully it was Minato and Jiraiya who rushed around the corner and skidded to a halt.

"Kochi! Arashi! Are you alright?" Minato said in a panic as he skidded to a halt in front of them.

"We're fine. You guys?" Arashi wheezed out.

Jiraiya sighed with relief and patted Minato on the top of the head, "See I told you they'd be alright."

"Alright! Look at Kochi's leg and oh god Arashi is covered in blood!" Minato squeaked out.

"Kochi's leg wound isn't deep but will need medical attention to stitch up. Most of the blood on me isn't mine." Arashi again winced out. He could feel Kochi trembling beside him. She was obviously in shock and wasn't going to be of much help giving them info.

Minato smiled in relief and rushed forward, but then skidded to a halt when the two bodies behind them become visible. He winced in shock and covered his mouth in disgust. Jiraiya again gave the blonde boy a reassuring pat and continued past him. The large man crouched in front of Kochi and pulled her into a hug. Some of the tension left her body instantly and she relaxed into it.

"It's over now. Your safe." He said softly. He gently stepped back and motioned for Minato. "Minato, take Kochi up the path to the cave we saw. Check her wound and wait for us there."

"Yes sir." A shaky and green in the face Minato managed. The site of the bodies and blood must have gotten to him.

Once out of site Jiraiya crouched down in front of Arashi with a worried look. "You're a shit liar. Let it out."

Arashi let out the breath he'd been holding and winced in pain. He risked another breath, but some blood entered his throat and threw him into a coughing fit. He raised his hand to his mouth to shield Jiraiya from the blood but only managed to cover his own hands in the crimson fluid.

"I fell hard. I think I've broken a rib and it pierced something inside." He wheezed out between coughs. He tilted his head toward his side and Jiraiya immediately lifted his shirt to inspect.

"Looks like it. Here take this." Jiraiya said as he handed him a pill from the pouch on his thigh and his canteen filled with water. "It's a painkiller. It will help until we get you to a medic."

Arashi grabbed it and managed to get the pill down between coughing fits.

"This is unfair to ask, but I need you to keep up the ruse. Don't let the others know the extent of your injuries. Kochi's in shock and Minato is just barely holding it together. Despite your injuries, you're the only one other than me in a stable mental state."

Arashi nodded and sheathed his katana.

"Can you tell me what happened?" Jiraiya said pointing to the two bodies behind him.

"I was blown off the cliff, so I didn't see the whole thing. But I believe Kochi killed the male. When I climbed up, I killed the woman. She had Kochi up against the wall." Arashi paused and bent down to pick up Kochi's other Tanto. "I killed another one down there." He said motioning down the ravine.

A sigh escaped Jiraiya and he signaled Arashi to come closer, "Good job kid. Now get on my back and let's get the others. We need to get you to the nearest camp. Tell the other two you injured your knee and can't walk."

Arashi nodded and climbed onto his sensei's back. Sensei stood up and jogged up the path to find the others.

"How's Minato?" Arashi asked.

"Physically he's fine. But he killed a ninja as well. I don't think he's handling it as well as you and it looked like he was about to puke at the sight of the two ninjas behind you and Kochi."

After a minute they spotted the cave and found Minato and Kochi sitting against the wall. Both of them were silent and had their knees pulled close to their chest.

"Minato, how's Kochi?" Jiraiya asked. The question startled Minato out of his thoughts and he scrambled to his feet.

"She's fine. I checked the wound and it's very shallow. She managed to walk up here." Minato said.

"Good. We need to get to the nearest camp and warn them of the attack. Kochi if you start having trouble or can't keep up, jump on Minato's back." Jiraiya said briskly.

"Why is Arashi on your back?" Kochi said as she slipped her backpack onto her back and rushed over.

"He busted his knee during his fall and can't run. Now, no further questions. We need to get going!" Sensei said. He turned and without delay began running up the path.

After thirty minutes Jiraiya taped a wheezing Arashi on his thigh. "How are you doing?" Jiraiya whispered trying to prevent the others from hearing.

"It's getting harder to breathe." He said between blood-filled coughs. Sensei must have noticed his breathing worsen because he had picked up the pace ten minutes ago.

"Shit," Jiraiya whispered under his breath and took a glance back at the others. Minato was keeping up, but Arashi could tell Kochi was struggling with the leg wound.

"Minato," Jiraiya said. "Minato!" The man repeated and finally got the attention of the distracted boy.

"Yes sir?" Minato said as he pulled up closer to Jiraiya.

"I need you to get out of your head and focus alright? I need to speed ahead and get to camp." Jiraiya said.

"Why? Is Arashi's injury bad?" Minato said worriedly and snuck a glance at Arashi on Jiraiya's back. Arashi did his best to give his teammate a reassuring smile.

"Not important. You have the map, right? You know the way to the camp?" Jiraiya said

"Yes but.." Minato managed before Jiraiya cut him off with a wave of his hand.

"I'm going to push forward. I need you to maintain the current pace and stay with Kochi. Got it?" Jiraiya said and waited for Minato to give him a nod. "Good. And Minato, I need you to focus. There will be time to deliberate at camp. But for now, I need you to help Kochi and get to camp."

"Yes sir," Minato said and dropped back to Kochi and began informing her of the change.

"Alright," Jiraiya said as he launched forward. The world around Arashi blurred as they traversed the cliff sides at speeds only a Jonin could achieve. "Hold on kiddo."


Authors note:

Hi everyone! Long delay on this update but I got sidetracked with my other story and was dealing with applying and setting up a move to a new Job. Anyway, here is chapter 12. First chapter with the gang as ninja. I decided to do a little time skip of four months and throw you all into a C-rank mission. Everyone knows about d-ranks and team-building training. So, I thought I'd skip that because I didn't think I miss any important character building.

The second great ninja war is still going on. It started right before chapter 1, so it's been raging for four years now. Arashi was 7 at the start of the story and he is now 11.

Arashi has been training to improve his wind element ninjutsu. So, he's got a few new tricks, but most of the improvements have come with the speed of use and situational practice.

Also, I realize this chapter can make Minato look weak. But Minato is still stronger than Arashi and Kochi. But this is his first kill and he's 10 years old so he's understandably freaked out. Kochi as well. We also don't understand the context of Minato and Kochi's fight. We don't know the details. Arashi is dealing with it better but he's also in pain so I'm sure he's thinking about trying to breathe and stay alive instead of the two ninja he killed. Or maybe he's a blood-thirsty killing machine. Just kidding.

I thought Minato having an irrational fear was funny and wanted to put it in. Also totally seems canon that Jiraiya would tease him about it. Also, Minato is definitely a goody two shoes. The perfect student. I imagine in canon, Minato was Jiraiya's favorite student when he had a genin team. Before whatever happened to Minato's teammates that is. I'm interested in exploring this closeness and how the other members of team 7 feel about it.

The more and more I expand on Kochi, the more and more I like her. She's strong and competent but still a child and obviously has a mental block and fear about ninja life. Seems like a normal thing to have but it isn't shown in the anime or manga.

Below are character ages. Also, let me know in the reviews how you are liking it so far. I always like to see reviews and I will do my best to respond to any questions you have.

Character ages:

Arashi: 11

Kochi: 11

Kushina: 10

Minato: 10