Predator!!

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"Uu... uugh... ouch... Naruto groaned, lying on the ground in an awkward position after being blown away by that weird wind. "Gu," he grunted, rolling over to pick himself up. "...! Huh?" he said, puzzled when he didn't see any of his teammates. "... Where's April, Sakura-chan, and that bastard, Sasuke?" His eyes widened in shock when he saw the monster that was staring down at him. "Wha... Wha...?" he stuttered as its shadow fell over him. "Hu... Hu... It's huge!!!" he yelled, staring up at the enormous snake in a combination of fear and awe. 'I... I've never seen a snake so... big...! What's up with this forest...?'

The gigantic snake tilted its head.

"!!" Naruto tensed.

WHAMM!

He managed to dodge just in time to avoid being crushed by it's deadly strike. His eyes flicked to follow its rapid movements. "Behind!? Gu!!" he grunted in pain as its strong body wrapped around him. "!!" he gasped when he realized he had misread the attack. "Tail?!!" Then, where the heck was the head!? "!" He was startled when the snake answered his question by coming up to face him with its mouth opened wide. "UWAAAAA!!!!" he screamed as the beast swallowed him whole. 'He ate me...' Naruto thought in disbelief. "Let me out!!! Damn you!!"

'I can believe it wasn't Naruto again?!!' Sakura thought, still shocked. 'Yeah, April's right... if it had been Naruto... He'd say something like 'I forgot the codeword!!'' she realized quickly.

"Where's Naruto?" April asked again, tightening her grip on her kunai.

The long-haired grass ninja smirked darkly at her. "Don't worry... I'm sure you'll be seeing him again soon..."

"...!!" Sasuke and April tensed when the enemy in front of them began to move.

'This one is too creepy...' Sakura thought, furrowing her brow as a bead of nervous sweat slid down the side of her face, getting serious. 'And where is Naruto?'

Instead of a weapon, the grass ninja held up his scroll. "You want my Earth Scroll, right?" he asked them. "Since you guys have the Heaven Scroll..." He raised the hand holding the scroll, opened his mouth, and wrapped his long tongue around it.

The three leaf genins watched with wide eyes as he forced it down his throat, swallowing it with a loud gulp.

"Now, let's begin... The battle for each other's scroll..." he said, holding his hand over his eye.

"!!" the three teammates flinched in shock.

'He means to make us cut him open to get it...!?' April thought, horrified. This guy was insane!

"With our lives on the line," the grass ninja concluded, digging his fingertips into the skin of his face, pulling down on his lower eyelid, while he glared at them.

All three of them flinched, eyes and mouths opened wide with shock and horror, when they were suddenly hit by wave of terrifyingly graphic images of their own lives being violently snuffed out. Painful lacerations... bodies eviscerated... foreheads pierced through their steel protectors by kunais. And then, it ended just as abruptly as it had begun. They stood there, frozen, but completely unharmed, and then collapsed to their knees. All of their strength had left them. They were scared stiff, too terrified to move.

'... Genjutsu...!?' April thought, mind reeling to find an answer for what had just happened. "Guu!" She gulped, almost choking on the vomit that rose from her churning stomach. She managed to keep most of it down, but Sasuke wasn't so lucky.

"Guu! Blahh!!!" he coughed, losing the full contents of his stomach to the forest floor, panting heavily.

'No... I've experienced something like this before... This is just fear... The killing intent communicated through his eyes caused us to instinctively sense our own deaths...' she thought, struggling to calm her breathing, while her whole body shuddered violently. 'Who is this guy? I haven't felt bloodlust like this since...' Her pupils constricted, and her fingers dug into the dirt as tears formed in her eyes, and images of a man getting his brains blown out by a gun at point-blank range and a screaming woman's back flashed through her mind. There was blood on her hands. "Guu!!"

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