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Chapter Ten: Prepare for Battle

Naruto’s eyes painfully creaked open. The first thing he noticed is that his whole body was in pain. Second was that he had a strange mark on his stomach, and that he was alone. He laid his head back on his pillow and exhaled deeply. He felt sleep drifting back to him when he suddenly bolted up. He realized something a bit important. He wasn’t dead! He slid out of bed and ran for the door, a job made difficult due to his achy joints. Locked.

He turned and grabbed his orange jumpsuit off the foot of the bed and scrambled into it. He glanced over and saw that the window was open, and immediately recognized his tool of escape. He leapt for the opening, and the next thing he knew he was on the floor. He rubbed the side of his face painfully. He stood up and felt the opening. It felt like glass, but invisible. It had to have been the work of Kakashi. A barrier-jutsu most likely.

He turned and heard voices outside the door. He hated to try it, but he had no other means of escape. When that person outside opened the door he would have to charge out to be free. He braced himself, and watched as the doorknob clicked and slowly turned, the door creaking slowly as it swung open…

“YAAAAAAAAAA-oops!” Naruto charged through the opening, and realized too late that it was Sora and the others. He crashed onto them and landed in a painful heap.

“Owww…sorry about that guys…” He managed to get up and help the others to their feet.

Sora grinned. “Well, good to see you all better Naruto! How do you feel?”

Naruto pretended to flex. “I feel great! Never better!” He grinned back, but stopped when pain shot up his limbs again. He panicked though when he remembered why he had almost killed Sora, Donald and Goofy barreling out the door in the first place.

“Guys, we have to hurry, there’s no time to waste! We have to go find her, NOW!” He headed down the hall, but Goofy stopped him.

“Wait, who do we need to find, Naruto? Sakura’s just fine! She’s waiting outside!”

Naruto shook his head impatiently. “No, no! That’s not it! I’m talking about Hinata! Orochimaru’s going to go after Hinata! She’s in danger!” Sora and the others gasped as they followed Naruto down the stairs outside. They met up with Sasuke and Sakura, who apparently weren’t speaking to each other. They zipped through town towards where Hinata’s house was located. Sora noticed Naruto was having some trouble initiating jutsu, and kept grabbing his stomach area where that weird mark was.

When they finally made it, things looked grim. The wall where Hinata’s room had once been was completely destroyed, and smoke emanated from inside. Naruto growled in frustration. “No! We’re too late! Argh!” He ran inside and looked around desperately. He looked up and screamed, “HINATAAAAAAAA!” He fell to his knees in rage. Sora walked over and tried to console him.

Naruto turned back to Sora. “Come on! We have to go get the Third Hokage! He’ll know what to do! Hinata’s in danger!” He turned to leave, and motioned for Sora and the others to follow. They ran towards where the Third Hokage lived, and finally managed to stop in front of the Third Hokage’s door to rest. They stood there panting heavily, until Naruto finally went over to the door and knocked.

“Third Hokage! Please, open up! We need your help!” The door slid aside and the Third Hokage let everyone inside.

“What do you mean, Naruto? The village seems fine. There’s no need to panic.” Naruto shook his head in frustration, and Sora came over to help.

“Sir, Orochimaru’s going to attack the village any second now! Now that he has Hinata, he’ll be able to find the Keyhole and destroy it! We have to stop him!”

The Third Hokage gasped. “What?! Orochimaru got his hands on Hinata? This can’t be good! Naruto, I want you to go with Sasuke and get Sakura to safety! Then go and find help! We won’t be able to hold Orochimaru off alone! Now go!”

Naruto nodded and motioned for everyone to leave. As they ran out the doorway the Third Hokage sighed and went over to an old cabinet on the wall. He opened the double doors to reveal a suit of sleek black ninja armor. He lifted the helmet off the pegs and sighed again.

“So it’s come to this, Orochimaru?” He placed it on his head and replied, “If today is my day to die, then I would rather die defending my home more than anything.” He glanced out the doorway. "I just hope that there aren’t any deaths other than my own.”

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