18.18% Birth of the Forest / Chapter 2: Chapter 2

Read Birth of the Forest - Chapter 2 online

Chapter 2: Chapter 2

The Sandaime Hokage looked through his all-seeing crystal ball, gazing contemplatively at the most intriguing ninja in the village at the moment, Naruto.

The boy was an enigma wrapped in a mystery, as seen from his effortless incapacitation of the traitor Mizuki. He had displayed the shunshin no jutsu with a rare ease. Iruka was amazed that he could even perform the technique, but Hiruzen knew better. Naruto had performed the seals with too much ease and too less concentration showing on his face. It was as if the technique was second nature to him.

And how did he know to strike vital points? True, the theory was explained in the academy but students were not expected to know it. The mastery that Naruto had displayed was interesting. What Naruto had done could be done only by an experienced Medic nin, a Hyuuga or a ninja with considerable battle experience none of which applied to Naruto.

"The Jounin are here, Hokage-sama" announced his secretary.

"Send them in." said Hiruzen. The Jounin filed in quietly. Asuma, Kurenai, Aoba, Kakashi and other Jounin here for their team assignments stood at attention waiting for him to speak.

Well, Kakashi not so much. The pervert as usual was reading his beloved Icha Icha series. The Sandaime looked at the book closely and his eyes grew round.

A limited series edition of Icha Icha violence! This was pure gold! He had to get this meeting over with as soon as possible and get that book from Kakashi. He grinned his closet pervert grin at the prospect…

Kurenai coughed, noticing Kakashi reading the damned book and the Sandaime trying really hard to get a look at the book without being obvious about it.

"Um, Hokage-sama…Don't we have team assignments to do..?" she asked primly.

Hiruzen cleared his throat, looking disappointed.

"Yes. Yes we do. Now, then. These are the teams assigned. Aoba will get team 1 consisting of…"

He went on until:

"Hatake Kakashi will get team 7 consisting of Uchiha Sasuke, Haruno Sakura and Uzumaki Naruto."

Kakashi looked up mildly interested, nodded and went back to his reading. Hiruzen could understand that.

"Team 8 will be Hyuuga Hinata, Inuzuka Kiba and Aburame Shino under Yuuhi Kurenai"

The beautiful Kurenai nodded.

"Team 9 is still in circulation. Therefore, team 10 will be Nara Shikamaru, Akimichi Chouji and Yamanaka Ino under Sarutobi Asuma."

Asuma nodded, pleased at the fact that the second generation Ino-Shika-Cho trio was under him.

Hiruzen looked at them all.

"This completes the team assignments for this year's Genin. You will have today to observe your assigned Genin and will have to begin operation from tomorrow. Good luck to you all."

The Jounin nodded solemnly and turned to leave.

"Kakashi, stay back. We have some important matters to discuss", Hiruzen ordered, looking intently at the treasure trove in Kakashi's hands.

Kurenai looked at the two of them disgustedly before exiting.

NEXT DAY AT THE ACADEMY

Naruto waited patiently for his sensei Hatake Kakashi to make his appearance. He was assigned to team 7 along with Sasuke and Sakura.

This would be an excellent opportunity for him to test the strength of the current Jounin of the village. He had to take care not to let loose though. He had a tendency to do that in a good fight.

He knew well that he had Hiruzen's eye on him even more than usual from his display with Mizuki.

The secret of his true identity could not be given out lightly, even to his former student. He would have to probe Hiruzen closely and judge how much his student had changed over the years.

Kakashi was already running late by two hours and the irritation from this fact was showing on the faces of both his team mates.

Sasuke looked like a thundercloud. Naruto observed him closely and supressed a smile. The kid looked exactly like Tobirama did when he was that age. Same stoic demeanour, same lack of speech and irritation with fan girls. The only thing difference was a sense of arrogance Sasuke had picked up along the way.

Oh, well. He could change that. After all, he had mentored far more stubborn kids and turned them into great ninja. Hiruzen himself was a case in point.

The boy was obviously slightly unstable. The mental torture he had purportedly suffered could be an effect of Tsukuyomi and that would be bad. The whole Uchiha affair felt wrong to him.

Clan prodigies don't usually go nuts and slaughter their clan at the drop of a hat. Uchiha Itachi obviously had a good reason for doing what he did and he had also incited Sasuke's hatred for a reason.

Sasuke like the impressionable child he was had fallen neck deep into hatred and vengeance. The child was suffering. The Uchiha mess bore more investigation.

He still had little knowledge of what happened after he was gone. Hearsay, books and rumours were not real sources of knowledge as they were always fabricated. He would know, as he had done the fabricating himself when he was Hokage.

What unnerved him was that the Senju clan had just disappeared and the only known descendant was Tsunade. He smiled again as he thought of his granddaughter; he had spoiled her so much when she was little.

It made him proud when he found out that Tsunade had made such a name for herself in the shinobi world. His little girl had grown so much…

His thoughts were interrupted as the door opened and a tall, lean man with gravity defying spiky white hair walked in. Opening his senses, he began to investigate the chakra of Hatake Kakashi.

"Team 7?"

"YOU ARE LATE!" Sakura yelled.

"Hai, hai" Kakashi eye smiled lazily. "My first impression of you… you are all boring. Meet me on the roof."

He disappeared with a leaf shunshin.

Naruto too disappeared with a shunshin, stunning his teammates.

ON THE ROOF

Naruto stared at Kakashi as he appeared on the roof with his jutsu. The Jounin hardly looked surprised, which meant that he was informed of what little capability he had shown. He was intensely reading an orange coloured book but Naruto could see that he was very aware of his surroundings and was watching his student closely.

He continued sensing Kakashi's chakra. The Jounin had about as much chakra as he did before his awakening, which was good. He could sense three natures in the man's chakra: Raiton, Doton and Suiton.

Not bad. And he could sense something all too familiar about his covered eye. Sharingan.

He sensed the chakra surrounding the eye carefully. The chakra emanating from the eye was far more sinister than a normal Sharingan.

Mangekyou Sharingan.

Either his sensei was a power hungry maniac, or he had experienced intense loss. The latter option seemed more plausible, as he was a shinobi under Hiruzen. Also his emotions were all over the place.

Surprise, regret,…pride. Why would the man feel pride? This man was intriguing. He would have to find out more about him.

His musings were interrupted when Sakura and Sasuke joined them. Kakashi put down the book and began speaking.

"Good, you are here. Took you long enough. Anyway, start introducing yourselves. You, pinkie, start."

Scowling at being christened "pinkie", Sakura replied. "Why don't you go first and give us an example, sensei?"

Kakashi sighed. "Fine, my name is Hatake Kakashi. I have many likes, dislikes are too many to name. My dream is none of your business,…I have many hobbies…", he finished and stared expectantly at Sakura.

Naruto sweatdropped. He had just gotten the name of the man.

"My name is Haruno Sakura. I like…" she blushed and stared at Sasuke." I dislike Naruto!"

Naruto shook his head. Children.

"My hobbies are…", she glanced at Sasuke again. " My dream for the future is…" a final glance at Sasuke.

Kakashi sighed once more.

"You next, Blondie."

Naruto stared at Kakashi, and began his own introduction.

"My name is Uzumaki Naruto. I like forests and gardening. I dislike traitors and power hungry maniacs. My dream for the future is to increase Konoha's power and prestige as its Hokage. My hobbies are practicing my Jutsu and reading research texts on the nature of chakra…"

Kakashi stared at him. There was much more to Naruto than those academy reports said. Those forest green eyes of his were too unnerving. They were ageless and compassionate and the boy himself radiated unbridled power.

Kakashi wasn't a Jounin for nothing. He knew Naruto was suppressing his chakra to seem like it was at its previous levels. He had observed the boy with his Sharingan the previous day and found that his chakra network was extremely superior, even more so than Minato-Sensei.

He was obviously letting only a fraction of his true strength show, and it alarmed Kakashi that what chakra he allowed to manifest was about as much as the Sandaime.

There was the matter of his chakra itself. It was pure shining silver, instead of the usual bright blue. The Kyuubi chakra was nowhere to be found in his network. It was as if he was not a Jinchuuriki.

He had to watch out for his sensei's son.

"You go next, broody."

Sasuke snorted. "My name is Uchiha Sasuke. I like nothing and hate everything. My dream, no…my ambition is to kill a certain man, and restore my clan."

Kakashi stared at them a moment longer.

"Alright, the three of you are interesting and that is good. Meet me tomorrow at training ground seven at 6:00 AM for the real Genin test"

"WHAT!" Sakura yelled.

Naruto sighed. The girl did not know the meaning of calm speech.

"The exam you took at the academy was merely a filter. This is the real survival test, and I warn you, the pass rate is not very encouraging. Oh, and do not eat any breakfast. You don't want to puke all over the ground do you?"

Kakashi waved at them and disappeared.

Naruto turned to his teammates.

"Sasuke, Sakura. Do you want to get some ramen and get to know each other better?"

Sasuke snorted a no and turned away. Sakura didn't even look at Naruto and ran after Sasuke.

Children these days, Naruto thought disappointedly.

THE NEXT DAY, TRAINING GROUND SEVEN

Naruto looked at his teammates. Sasuke was here early and was practicing the routines of the Uchiha Taijutsu style.

Sakura was watching him devotedly, a smile of bliss on her face.

He could see several holes in Sasuke's style. If he tried to correct the boy, he would obviously be derided. Uchiha respected power.

So he would make his first bonds by showing the Uchiha child a little of his power.

Naruto walked a little distance from where Sasuke was practicing his Taijutsu and settled into the opening stance of the Senju Taijutsu style he had customized to suit his sensory capabilities.

As the Shodai Hokage, he was feared for his Taijutsu as well, but he rarely had to use it outside training. His enemies usually ran instead of confronting him.

The last good Taijutsu fight he had was with his rival Madara. Even his Taijutsu fights with Madara were highly destructive.

Casting off thoughts of Madara, he began flowing through the stances of the "Nature Style" as he had named it.

It emphasized speed, grace and power. Counterattacks were made by sensing the opponents approach and intentions.

Sasuke and Sakura had stopped their activities and began watching Naruto.

They were stunned. The so called dead last flew through the stances of a Taijutsu style unknown with increasing speed.

He struck gracefully at an imaginary opponent with his palm and pivoted smoothly to kick another phantom in the face. His speed too was increasing, he seemed like a blur to them almost.

Naruto flared his chakra as he flew through his stances. Bright silver chakra became visible around his gracefully moving form.

He was saturating the air with his chakra. The whole area around him started to feel charged with potent chakra.

His strikes were becoming faster and faster. Naruto almost laughed in joy. It seemed that the muscle memory and grace he had developed as Hashirama were still as strong as ever.

He finished his routine with a graceful palm strike and his chakra flared.

Sasuke and Sakura stared wide-eyed.

The ground in front of Naruto's extended palm was furrowed in a straight line for about ten yards, testifying to the power of that final strike. Wherever Naruto had done his graceful practice, the grass was ripped up and torn.

Sasuke walked up to Naruto.

"How did you do that, dobe? Who taught you that Taijutsu style?"

"I created it myself", Naruto shrugged.

"Impossible. There is no way you can create such a powerful Taijutsu!"

Naruto almost snorted. The child thought what he had done now was powerful. When he had trained as Hashirama and let loose with his nature fist, entire sections of forest were destroyed. He used to repair those sections with Mokuton.

"Believe what you wish, Sasuke. Now, let us cease our argument. Our sensei is here."

Sasuke glared at Naruto and then walked off with Sakura, who was shooting her usual dirty glances at him.

Kakashi appeared in the ground at looked at the portion of ground that was ripped up and torn.

"What happened here?" he queried.

Sakura was so caught up in her thoughts that she had not even berated him for his lateness.

"It was Naruto, sensei. He did that when he practiced his Taijutsu." Sakura answered him, struggling to hide her awe at what she had seen.

"I see" Kakashi said. Inside he was shocked to the core. Another facet of Naruto's concealed power. Not even Gai's Gouken was so naturally destructive.

He needed to be careful if Naruto's Taijutsu was this damaging.

He held up two bells, jingling them. "See these bells. You have to get them from me in another one and a quarter hour, this is your Genin test. The one who gets no bell will be back at the academy. Come at me with the intent to kill. Clear?"

Naruto was amused. He was getting tested by the very test he had created. He could almost see little Hiruzen and his team doing this very test back in the day.

It seemed tradition had been handed down the line.

Sasuke and Sakura looked determined. They nodded and ran to hide in the surrounding trees.

Naruto also nodded and disappeared. He went to hide in another section of the forest and hid his presence. The forest was his territory, after all.

Extending his senses, he could feel Sasuke near the fringe of the forest obviously watching Kakashi.

Sakura was a little distance away from him and she felt trepidation and fright. Sasuke was anxious and excited.

Oh well, he would wait for Kakashi to finish off his teammates before he went in himself. Unless they got the concept of teamwork before getting annihilated, which was unlikely.

He watched as Kakashi materialized behind Sakura and put her in a Genjutsu which knocked her out.

He would wait.

Kakashi went back to the clearing and whipped out his orange book and started reading.

This was puzzling to the veteran Jounin. According to all reports, Naruto should have been the one to attack him head on, but judging by what he saw of Naruto he should have expected the unexpected from the Blonde.

Kakashi abruptly turned and blocked a kick from Sasuke. The boy kicked hard for a Genin.

They engaged in a reasonably fast paced Taijutsu match.

Sasuke used the typical Uchiha Taijutsu, which was rather ineffective without the Sharingan. He could have knocked the kid out within an instant but he pushed him to innovate and get unpredictable.

But it was in vain. The kid had no adaptability or creativity. Getting bored, he knocked away the Uchiha with a rather gentle kick.

Sasuke looked angered that he was cast away so easily.

"I am different from the others." He said to Kakashi with gritted teeth.

"I am sure you are"

Kakashi could sense a build-up of chakra in the boy and he recognized the hand seals that were used.

Not bad, the boy had learned some good stuff. He pocketed his book.

"Katon: Gokakyuu no Jutsu"

Sasuke had spit out a medium sized fireball at Kakashi who just disappeared. The fireball left a small crater where he had stood.

Sasuke looked around frantically for his missing sensei. Before he knew it, he was buried underground with just his head sticking out.

"Doton: Shinju Zanshu no Jutsu" Kakashi said calmly. The boy was good, but he had missed the point of the test.

He just had to wait for Naruto. It was too bad this team would fail.

….

Naruto was deep in thought as he saw Kakashi dispatch Sasuke with ease. The boy was good for his age, and with some good moulding he would be a powerful shinobi.

It was time for him to see just what made Jounin in Konoha these days.

It seemed that he would have to show a little more of what he was capable of today.

Performing a single handed shunshin he appeared in front of Kakashi.

" Oh,so you have appeared. You may have improved a bit, but what makes you think you can defeat a Jounin singlehandedly?"

Naruto smiled.

"Stuff it, Kakashi-sensei. I know you want us to work as a team, but you must understand that there is a flaw in this test"

Kakashi's eyes widened considerably and then narrowed at him.

"It seems you have understood. But what flaw are you talking about?"

"Teamwork is developed through bonds of experiences, and cannot be expected to bloom from nothing and that too among three people who don't even know each other. But anyway, I will get the bells and we will pass…"

Kakashi narrowed his eyes once more. "You overestimate yourself, Naruto."

Naruto gathered and flared enough chakra to match Kakashi, showing a faint silver aura around his body. He held up the half ram seal and disappeared.

Kakashi was astonished at the kid's mastery of the shunshin technique. He barely had time to think as Naruto appeared behind him and aimed a kick at his head. Underestimating Naruto, he did something foolish.

He blocked the kick and was sent crashing into the trees a hundred yards away for his trouble.

Sasuke stared wide-eyed at the power exhibited by Naruto. What had happened to the dobe?

Naruto extended his senses and felt Kakashi behind him.

"You substituted with a shadow clone before you hit the trees, didn't you?" Naruto asked, pleased.

Kakashi nodded and pocketed his book again. The kid had hit as hard as Gai with his weights off. He was truly something else.

Naruto disappeared with another shunshin and attacked Kakashi with a palm and the duo engaged in a fierce Taijutsu battle.

Kakashi was good. He blocked each strike of the nature fist and dispersed the chakra concentrated in his strikes with great expertise. Naruto was impressed with the Jounin.

"You are good, Kakashi-sensei"

"You are too good, Naruto. Where did you learn this style of fighting?"

"I created this style. It is mine, and mine alone. So why don't you bring out that Sharingan of yours? Let us take it up to the next level…"

Kakashi was floored. He felt as if he was the one who was being tested. The blonde-haired Genin was too good. Way too good. He had landed debilitating strikes and was obviously holding back massively.

"Fine, I will…"

Naruto stared at the mature Sharingan eye of Kakashi. He felt a disturbance in his own chakra and calmed it with a single thought.

"My chakra is special, Kakashi. Such simple Genjutsu won't work on me."

Kakashi stared at him for a moment before disappearing with a blur of speed and attacking him with a high kick.

Naruto dodged it and once again they began their Taijutsu battle. Kakashi was able to dodge and counter most of his strikes easily thanks to his Sharingan.

Their battle was escalating. To Sasuke they were simply blurs that created small craters when they touched the ground. His mind was stirring with jealousy and awe.

How was this possible? Naruto was going toe to toe with a Jounin and was not even breathing hard!

Kakashi's prowess at Taijutsu was excellent. Naruto grinned happily. He had to do this more often. Slipping under Kakashi's punch, he dealt a moderately powered palm to his chest.

Kakashi flew back and landed on the ground with a backflip.

He blurred through a series of hand seals.

"Suiton: Teppodama"

Balls of water at high velocity flew at Naruto. He dodged them all with amazing grace and efficiency and gathered a massive amount of chakra that manifested as an extremely bright cloak of silver chakra. They had about ten minutes to the end of the test.

Kakashi too gathered his chakra in preparation to counter the Genin's jutsu.

Naruto again did the unexpected, and disappeared with an extremely high powered shunshin.

Before Kakashi could blink, he reappeared next to Sasuke's head, holding up the two bells in his hand.

"We pass, Kakashi-sensei"

Kakashi stared at him, amazed and proud. True he himself was also holding back a lot, but Naruto had impressed him. He was truly a prodigy on Uchiha Itachi's level.

"You most definitely do, Naruto. All of you pass. Dig out Sasuke and get Sakura will you? "

Naruto dragged out Sasuke from his hole, smiling. Sakura joined them looking ashamed.

Kakashi stared at his three students with a serious gaze. "Do you see the headstone over there? The names inscribed there are shinobi of Konoha that were killed in action. My friends' names are also on that stone"

The three stared at him solemnly.

"Always remember this: those who break the rules are trash, but those who abandon their friends are worse than trash"

Naruto stared at the man, his respect for him rising. That was a worthy creed he lived by, much like his own. He had held his own against Senju Hashirama's Taijutsu even at a watered down level.

This was a worthy man and shinobi.

"We are Team 7 from now on, and we will begin our missions from tomorrow. Be here at the same time tomorrow for missions"

The three nodded.

ONE MONTH LATER

Naruto looked at Hiruzen listlessly as he droned on and on about how missions were assigned and distributed to the various ranking shinobi.

The past month had seen Team 7 doing various D-rank missions. This was just a euphemism for pointless chores.

The D-rank they had just completed was one of the most annoying missions ever. They had gone to capture one cat called "Tora". That damn cat was so elusive...

It had mauled him and Sasuke mercilessly. Sakura did not even get her hands on the irritating fur ball.

It had given them great satisfaction to see the thing squished to death by the daimyo's portly wife.

Hiruzen had then gone on to assign to them even more D-ranks and all three of them had put their foot down.

Their united yell of vehement denial had made Kakashi proud; his kids were being a team! But Hiruzen was far from understanding as he and Iruka were now going on and on about missions and such…

Naruto was currently holding a conversation with his tenant.

Kurama looked at Naruto from his spacious cage.

"Hashirama, do you know why I have brought you here?" the fox asked him seriously.

"No. Why?"

"I know a way you can kill the Masked Man easily. Listen carefully…"

Naruto lavished his complete attention on the fox. This could well be what he was after…Kurama had so much experience that he could well be called a baby in comparison.

"Just tell him about how you, the GREAT Senju Hashirama, ran all around Konoha to catch a CAT! He will die LAUGHING…"

Naruto had a tic marc on his face as he stared at the fox that was laughing heartily at his expense.

It pointed a finger or rather, a claw at him.

"No, tell him about how a chicken pooped on your head when you were collecting eggs…HAHAHAHAAAAAA!"

Enough.

He had had enough.

Exiting back to the physical world he stared down Hiruzen. The old fool had stopped his boring lecture and was pinned down by Naruto's forest green eyes.

"Enough, old man. Give us a C-rank mission NOW!"

Hiruzen looked amused and a bit harried. He looked at Kakashi. Iruka was looking at Naruto and mouthing at him frantically to show proper respect to the Hokage.

Naruto found this irony bittersweet. He could now understand how little Hiruzen had felt as he and Tobirama had dumped D-rank upon D-rank on him and his team.

The tables were now turned.

"They are ready for a C-rank Hokage-sama. Aren't you, team?"

Team 7 nodded quickly. They were ready to participate in a war to escape those D-ranks. So yes, they were ready alright.

"Bring in Tazuna-san, Iruka"

They all watched as Iruka ushered in a middle aged drunk.

"So you are the ones who are assigned to protect me...hic..." Tazuna slurred.

Sasuke asked the Hokage, "Why is this old drunkard here?"

"He is your mission, obviously. You are to protect him as he returns to Nami No Kuni to complete his bridge. Do you accept?" Hiruzen asked.

"…hic…do you think those kids can even protect themselves, let alone protect me?" Tazuna asked drunkenly.

Sasuke stared the old drunkard in his eyes, unleashing his killing intent. Tazuna suddenly snapped into sobriety, unable to withstand even that small killing intent. Well, he was a civilian.

"Now, now… Sasuke. Intimidating the client is not good for business, is it?"

Sasuke let up reluctantly. He still looked rather pissed.

"We can protect you, Tazuna-san. I myself am a Jounin and am more than enough for a C-rank mission. Rest assured, you are in safe hands" Kakashi said soothingly.

Naruto could sense apprehension and deception floating off the old drunkard. He was obviously lying about the mission parameters.

They would need to be on guard.

"We leave tomorrow at first light. Meet us at North gate, Tazuna-san" Kakashi said.

THE NEXT DAY, ROAD TO WAVE COUNTRY

Sasuke stared at Naruto. The Uchiha had spent the previous month researching the Uchiha archives for any record of the kind of Taijutsu Naruto used.

He had never heard of such a style. Each strike seemed to be infused with chakra and required perfect chakra control.

After a month of poring over dusty archives for such a Taijutsu, he had come up with vague results. It seemed that the Senju had used something like Naruto's Taijutsu in battle.

It had evidently made him nigh indomitable in a Taijutsu fight as the power of his strikes kept on increasing.

He had kept his distance from Naruto after he had fought Kakashi to a stalemate and got the bells. Uchiha respected power, and Naruto had spades of that.

The blonde was obviously hiding something major, and he would find out what.

Sakura was also thinking of Naruto and his change. Just a few months back, he was the comic relief for the rookies of Konoha.

But now he had changed so much that he was not even recognizable. He used to be more of a little shrimp who wore bright orange and shouted about how he would be the Hokage.

But now he was different. He still retained his bright personality, but he seemed wise and compassionate.

Oh, and powerful. Untrained though she was, the aura of strength that surrounded Naruto of late did not go unnoticed by her. Or by anyone else.

The rest of the rookies had asked Sakura just what had happened to the prank loving dobe.

She had no answers for them.

But she did know that Naruto was far beyond the reach of any mere Genin. This realization had sobered her up.

She had then resolved to actually train and stop holding Naruto and Sasuke back. She refused to be the weak link for team 7.

This did not go unappreciated by Naruto, who had kindly forgotten her previous indiscretions and restarted their relationship on a clean slate.

She was happy. Team 7 was her family and she did not let down family.

….

Naruto walked down the road, letting his sense wash around the landscape in all directions, keeping alert for any threat.

He found two.

Said threats were currently disguised as puddles of water. He smirked in his mind.

Seriously, that was a very substandard Genjutsu. One, it had not rained the previous day and two, there was no real water source nearby. Any ninja worth his salt would have noticed the two idiots.

Both had water natured chakras.

He knew Sasuke and Kakashi had also noticed the "puddles", by the fluctuation in their emotions.

He looked at Sasuke and nodded. He received a nod in acknowledgement. Kakashi seemed as oblivious as ever.

Suddenly the two puddles became Ninja who wielded chained blades. They pounced upon Kakashi and tore him to shreds.

Sakura let out a high pitched shriek and froze on the spot.

Naruto and Sasuke glanced at each other and shot off at the two Missing ninja. Sasuke formed seals fast and shot out a fireball at the nearest ninja who countered with a water bullet.

Naruto appeared behind the other ninja and sent a palm, which was blocked. The force of the palm sent the ninja staggering.

He reinforced his palm with his Mokuton chakra and struck the enemy hard sending him flying into the tree behind, knocking him unconscious.

Sasuke himself was engaging his opponent with his clearly improved Taijutsu. It was a stalemate.

Suddenly Kakashi appeared and knocked down Sasuke's adversary.

"KAKASHI-SENSEI!" Sakura cried in relief. Naruto nodded in approval, having noticed his substitution before.

Kakashi glared at Tazuna.

"This is no C-rank, Tazuna-san. You have lied to us and it is well within our rights to stop here…"

Tazuna was sweating profusely and explained about the shipping Tycoon Gato. The wave country was apparently run over by his company and totally oppressed.

The bridge built by Tazuna was the hope for the country as it connected the island to the mainland and made Gato's shipping redundant.

"Let us continue with the mission, Kakashi sensei. That country is obviously in need of our services and it will be good for Konoha to have a potentially prosperous country like wave in its debt." Naruto reasoned with Kakashi. The Hokage in him was coming out to play.

Kakashi sighed. "What do you two say?" he asked Sakura and Sasuke.

Sasuke nodded affirmatively, as did Sakura.

"We will continue, Tazuna-san"

Tazuna sighed in relief and continued on the path towards wave country.

Naruto followed, keeping his sensing active constantly. He needed a place to let loose his Ninjutsu. Preferably a large and isolated plane.

His chakra was very special after all, and any spike in it would be noted by Hiruzen and his old team, so he could not unleash even a small portion of his strength in Konoha.

He would have to get reacquainted with Mokuton somehow.

….

"Kakashi-sensei, I can sense two chakras just ahead. Both are quite large, and one chakra is comparable to yours. What do we do?", Naruto asked.

Kakashi looked alert. "Be ready for attack everybody. Sakura, guard Tazuna. Sasuke and Naruto will back me up."

They all nodded and proceeded onwards.

About half an hour later, Naruto could sense one of the chakras close and signalled his team.

This person was clearly Jounin and had a strong water affinity, and his emotions were a kind of predatory rage. He would be a dangerous opponent.

They suddenly heard a buzzing sound steadily increasing.

"GET DOWN!" Kakashi yelled, and everyone dropped down. A large Zanbatou whirled towards them and missed them by a small margin. It embedded itself deeply in a tree by edge.

Crouched upon the blade was a masked ninja who stared at them steadily.

"Sharingan no Kakashi, no wonder the Demon Brothers failed." He said in a deep voice, surveying the team with a critical eye.

Kakashi too stared back. "Zabuza Momoichi, demon of the bloody mist. All of you guard Tazuna. This fight is beyond you"

Zabuza wrenched his blade from the tree and walked towards the group and stood opposite Kakashi.

The environment around them was thick with the chakra they were releasing. The very air was heavy in anticipation.

The two Jounin started leaking strong killer intent into the air. Tazuna who was unaccustomed to this sank down to the floor in terror. Sakura's face was set in a rictus of terror.

Sasuke drew closer to Naruto who stood there unconcernedly.

"What is this…?" he whispered.

Naruto could see that the killing intent was heavily affecting his teammates. Drawing Mokuton chakra, he released it into the air calming the frightened Genin and client.

Zabuza and Kakashi looked at this new phenomenon in interest.

"Good trick, kid. Do you believe that will save you?"

Naruto snorted. "Save the cliché threats, Zabuza. Tell me, where is your accomplice?"

"A sensor ninja, right?" Zabuza asked, intrigued. "Silent killing won't work, then…"

He suddenly disappeared and attacked Kakashi with a powerful swing of his giant blade. Kakashi blocked calmly with his kunai.

The two then went on to engage in a fierce Kenjutsu fight, shockwaves erupting from the collision of their blades. They were so fast that it seemed like rain hitting metal continuously.

Zabuza tried to cleave Kakashi in two with a heavy swing, but Kakashi slipped under his guard and buried his kunai in his opponent's chest.

Zabuza dissolved into water and the original appeared behind Kakashi and kicked him hard off the bridge right into the water.

A clone of Zabuza formed next to Kakashi and trapped him in a sphere of water.

Zabuza grinned.

"You are taken care of for now, Kakashi. Watch as I kill your Genin right in front of your eyes!"

Kakashi cursed himself for falling to such a simple strategy. He had to intensify his training as he seemed rusty.

"RUN! YOU ARE NO MATCH FOR HIM!"

Zabuza grinned again, "That's right brats. Listen to sensei and run. Leave the bridge builder, though and I might let you live. I want Kakashi's head for my bounty…"

Sasuke and Sakura flinched but gripped their Kunai tightly.

Naruto was irritated, though. How dare that man threaten his comrades? He would need to put the creep in his place.

Senju Hashirama did not run from such annoyances.

"Sasuke, Sakura, leave this to me and guard Tazuna", Naruto ordered calmly.

"Oho! It looks like the little Genin is stepping up! You three are not true ninja-"

He suddenly stopped his dramatic monologue as he watched Naruto.

Massive amounts of silver chakra exploded from Naruto, saturating the air and almost bringing Zabuza down to his knees. The ground around the blond started cracking from the immense pressure.

Zabuza stared in alarm at the boy who was supposedly a Genin. He needed to be put down fast, so he blurred through his hand seals.

"Suiton: Suiryuudan no Jutsu", he roared causing a huge water dragon to rise from the lake and rush towards Naruto.

Kakashi stared with growing horror. Sasuke and Sakura closed their eyes at what they assumed was their impending doom.

Naruto clapped his hands calmly in a serpent seal.

"Doton: Daichi no Kabe" he intoned calmly.

A huge wall of earth rose to shield the group from the water dragon, easily dissipating it.

Kakashi stared with pride and curiosity at the blond who had performed a high level Jutsu casually with only one seal.

Sasuke and Sakura were just frozen with shock at the display of such power.

Zabuza frantically blurred through another seal sequence.

"Suiton: Daibakufu no Jutsu" he yelled, and a huge spiral of water rose from the lake and blasted with unbelievable force towards Naruto.

Naruto did not release the serpent seal.

"Doton: Asudoragon no tasu", he said quietly.

The earth in front of Naruto exploded, releasing four huge earth Dragons. Two of them neutralized the onrushing water jutsu, and two collided with Zabuza sending him flying.

He was obviously grievously injured when he landed heavily on the shore. Before Naruto could finish the job, the dormant accomplice appeared and ran with Zabuza fast.

Kakashi appeared next to Naruto.

"Leave them, we will be ready for them later. Tazuna-san, lead the way to your house. Sakura and Sasuke, protect him."

The three nodded and went on, still staring at Naruto with awe.

Kakashi gave Naruto a hard glare.

"You have a lot to answer for, Naruto".


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