The Beautiful Beast...!!

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"!!" the squirrel chittered in alarm, stopping itself on a dime to avoid the dangerous weapon as it embedded itself in the ground only centimeters away from its head. Deciding this was clearly not a safe place to find food, the little fluff ball immediately turned tail and scurried away to find a less threatening area to forage.

'Phew, that was close,' Sakura thought, a bead of sweat sliding down her face. Just a little bit more, and it would have been a disaster.

"She's very observant..." the spiky-haired sound ninja remarked. "She noticed the explosive note on the squirrel?"

"No... That's not it..." their bandaged leader corrected him.

"What do you mean, Dosu?" the spiky-haired ninja asked.

"...?" the muzzled sound ninja said, furrowing his brow slightly.

"We'll probably find out when we get closer," the bandaged leader, Dosu, replied. "So... Let's go."

Sakura's own brow furrowed while she stared down at her unconscious teammates, wishing they would wake up. Up until now, she had never fully realized how much she relied on them. Even while unconscious, they still managed to find ways to help her. If not for the food pills in April's pouch, then all four of them would have gone the whole night without food. Eating one was what had helped her find the energy to stay awake all night without once closing her eyes. She was able to get Sasuke and April to swallow one, but Naruto was completely out cold. 'It's also thanks to April that we still have our scroll...' she thought, feeling troubled when she remembered how Sasuke had attacked her. She never wanted to see either of them like that again. She wondered if April would be able to forgive Sasuke...

"Hehe... Up all night?"

"!!" Sakura flinched in surprise, shocked that she had allowed herself to get caught off guard. She quickly spun around to face the intruders and found herself face to face with the last people she wanted to see. "!!" She furrowed her brow and a bead of cold sweat slid down the back of her neck. 'These guys!!!' It was the sound ninjas, the ones they had encountered right before the first test began, the ones Orochimaru said would come for them!

"But it's no longer necessary," Dosu continued, standing at the edge of her territory with the rest of his team. He tilted his head, glaring at her. "Wake up Sasuke-kun. We want to fight him."

"I'd like to put in a request for the purple-haired girl, too," the muzzled ninja added, removing his muzzle to reveal a wicked smirk. "Wake her up for me."

"Hey! Biki!! You know you're not supposed to take that thing off without permission!!" their female teammate exclaimed with a scowl.

"It's fine," Dosu said dismissively. "He can't affect any of us right now."

"Wha..." Sakura said, reaching her trembling hand down to her kunai holster, ready to draw another weapon. "What are you talking about?!!" she shouted incredulously at them, her anger for her friends winning out over her fear. "I know that someone named Orochimaru is pulling the strings from the shadows!! What is his purpose?!!!"

"!!?" All four sound ninjas were taken aback to hear her say that. How could this girl possibly know that already?

"What is this weird mark on Sasuke-kun's neck?" Sakura demanded. "You did this to him... and now you want to fight?!!! April, too!! She's still suffering from the effects of the seal!! Why are you after her, too?!!!"

"I don't know anything about that," the formerly muzzled ninja, Biki, stated bluntly. "That girl you called 'April'? I'm after her for personal reasons."

"Personal reasons? What personal reasons!?" Sakura asked, furrowing her brow in confusion.

"They're personal, so there's no point explaining to someone who's about to die," Biki retorted coldly, shooting her an icy glare.

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