[Scene Shift]

Chapter 1: Reunion of Master and Student

Standing atop the surface of the water before a sealed boulder were four people. Two males – one an adult and the other in his mid teens – stood next to two females – an elderly woman and a teenage girl.

The elderly woman was Chiyo of Sunagakure and she was known for both her skills in puppets and in poisons. The adult man was Hatake Kakashi, a Jonin of Konohagakure and sensei of Team 7. The teenage girl was Haruno Sakura, a Chunin and apprentice of Senju Tsunade, the Godaime Hokage.

The last member was Uzumaki Naruto, a Genin of Konoha (though only on paper) and student of both Kakashi and Jiraiya the Toad Sage. He was looking intently at the stone, as if trying to peer through the earthen structure and see inside. His eyes narrowed ever so slightly and his left hand twitched while his right flexed its fingers every couple of seconds.

No one noticed his little quirks due to focusing on preparing strategies against their opponents. One of them was known as Deidara, the Mad Bomber of Iwa, while the other was Sasori, the Scorpion of the Red Sands. Chiyo knew that Sasori would be difficult due to being a prodigal puppeteer while Deidara was not to be underestimated due to being witnessed making a bomb big enough to engulf Suna.

"The seals are found and ready to be removed, my Eternal Rival!" Gai's voice called out through their wireless radios.

"Copy that, Gai," Kakashi responded before he prepared to remove the seal on the boulder. "Ready on three; one…two…THREE!"

As soon as "three" was called, Kakashi – as well as Team Gai at the other four seal spots – pulled off the seal tag and he leapt out of the way right when Sakura rushed at the boulder and slammed a chakra infused fist into it, reducing it to rubble.

Once the barrier was removed, the four jumped inside the cavern and were met with the sight of Sasori standing next to Deidara, who was seated on top of Gaara, the Godaime Kazekage and now ex-Jinchuriki of the Ichibi.

"About time you made it here, hm," Deidara commented as he rested his chin on his right palm.

Sasori said nothing and just stared down the newcomers. Two people made him stare longer, but he didn't show any outward signs of surprise of recognition.

"Surrender yourselves and release the Kazekage!" ordered Kakashi with his Sharingan eye revealed. Sakura had her fists clenched in preparation and Chiyo's hands twitched slightly. Naruto however stood perfectly still with no signs of preparing for a fight. In fact, Kakashi noticed out of the corner of his eye that his entire posture was that of someone calmly assessing the situation. 'Strange…'

"Oh boy, they really believe we'll surrender so easily, hm. What do you think, Sasori my man?"

Again, the puppet master said nothing and kept his gaze on the blonde Uzumaki. A growing tension slowly filled the air and both men envisioned different people standing before them. For Sasori, he envisioned a small blonde boy with empty eyes staring at him with a flicker of respect. For Naruto, he envisioned a man in his late teens with red hair and apathetic eyes that looked down to him with acceptance.

Finally, Sasori spoke up. "You've grown…my student."

Everyone, except Naruto and Sasori, looked shocked at the statement. However, the shock deepened when the Uzumaki replied in a much too calm tone, "And you look the same as ever…Shishō (Master)."

The puppeteer chuckled at him, making Naruto give a small smile. "Of all the times we meet again, I didn't think it'd be now. But, I suppose now is as good a time as any."

"I agree… I kept my promise, Shishō."

"Indeed you did. How far have you come along?"

"3 standards, 3 advanced, and 3 human," answered the blonde.

Another chuckle was heard. "Very good… You've done well, my student." He then looked the Uzumaki dead in the eye and declared, "But now…the time has come."

The Kyuubi Jinchuriki's crystal blue eyes darkened with depression and his gaze turned to the ground in front of him. "Hai…it is."

Sasori moved forward slightly so that he stood in front of Deidara while Naruto did the same for his side. Kakashi scowled at this and reprimanded, "Naruto, what are you doing?! He's an S-Rank criminal and a member of Akatsuki! You can't face him alone!"

"It doesn't matter what you think he is, Kakashi," Naruto replied calmly. "All that matters is what I know he is; and what he is to me is my first teacher, master, and guardian. He was the one…who pulled me out of my own darkness."

[Flashback (Naruto Age 5)]

A blonde child wearing nothing more than a tattered black shirt and brown shorts that needed to be tied with a worn out rope was seen seated in the rain inside of a cardboard box. The rain pelted against the weak shelter like kunai rains down on a battalion.

Dead were his eyes, dirty was his skin, and empty was his heart. He was the spawn, the demon, the monster…the Kyuubi reborn.

The "roof" of his shelter finally gave way, allowing the rain to strike him mercilessly. He didn't care, for he had long since accepted his fate as an affront to nature.

Footsteps were heard on the flooded streets, each footfall creating a splash in its wake. He didn't bother to look up when the sandaled feet of the passerby stopped in front of him.

A soft male voice broke through the rain. "Such defeat… You have nothing and no one, don't you?"

This time, Naruto did look and he saw a man standing before him. His messy red hair was being soaked by the downpour while his brown eyes stared at him with not an ounce of pity, loathing, or concern. In fact, when he focused on them, the little blonde saw a small glint of curiosity in the brown orbs staring down at him.

"Tell me… What would you give to have a purpose?"

"…Anything," answered the Uzumaki.

"Even your soul; your freedom?"


The man nodded and pulled out a scroll. From it, he unsealed an adult sized cloak and tossed it to the boy. "Then surrender your freedom to me and follow. I will give you purpose, but only if you can prove your value."

The blonde's dead stare met the redhead's apathetic one, locking onto it for practically a lifetime before he nodded and covered himself in the cloak. The man did nothing except turn and make his way out of Konoha's gates with Naruto in step behind him.

Konoha wouldn't see the boy for over five years.

[Present Time]

"From then on, I was taught in the ways of puppets by Sasori for around four years. Every day was spent in educating me in the workings, the usage, and the potential of the puppet arts. After the four years had passed, he took me back to Konoha with one last lesson…"

"…To a ninja – especially a puppeteer – deception is your greatest weapon," finished the scorpion.

"I don't believe it," whispered Chiyo in surprise. "You actually helped another; but why?"

"His potential was as clear as day. Of course, teaching him control was the biggest issue due to him being a vessel, but he proved that no obstacle could keep him from his goal. He is the best student I ever took…and the only one I will ever acknowledge as my potential equal."

Stunned silence ruled the cavern while Naruto bit his left thumb and wiped it on a seal behind his neck, unsealing a scroll that he caught with his right hand. Opening it slightly, he spread blood over another seal and engulfed his form in a plume of smoke.

When it cleared, a towering figure stood behind the blonde. Easily reaching 7ft, it took the form of a humanoid figure donned in chain mail armor, a blood red cape with a black furred trim, and a steel crown with two of its six prongs broken. Strapped to its left arm was a crescent shaped shield while a battle axe with a 4ft blade was strapped to its back and a small sword was strapped to its waist.

"You still kept that one; after all these years?" questioned Sasori.

"Of course… It was the first one I ever made; the Forsaken King," answered the blonde while blue chakra strings appeared from his left hand and attached to the puppet. "Shall we, Shishō?"

He nodded before he turned to his partner. "Deidara, stay out of this. This is the final test for my apprentice; the one that will show if he has surpassed me."

The blonde bomber chuckled and raised his arms in a shrugging way. "Whatever you say, hm."

"Kakashi, Sakura, Chiyo…stay out of the way," ordered the Uzumaki.

"But Naruto-!" started the pinkette, but she was cut off by Chiyo.

"Of course… This means more than any other fight, doesn't it?" asked the elder, which the blonde nodded to. "Then we won't interfere."

"Lady Chiyo!" Sakura exclaimed in shock.

"That's enough, Sakura," Kakashi declared. "This is Naruto's fight… To interfere would be the biggest insult to him."

Sakura looked like she wanted to argue, but one glare from Naruto stopped her cold. The glare was the first time she had ever seen him angry with her, and it scared her. Giving up her attempts to stop him, she just nodded and the Uzumaki twitched his left hand.

The King rushed forward, its right arm grasping the axe on its back while the left raised the shield before it to lead its charge. Sasori responded by launching his scorpion like tail, but the shield batted it aside while the axe came swinging in for a strike. The scorpion leapt aside and pointed its mouth at Naruto before dozens of senbon shot out from it.

Acting quickly, Naruto rolled out of the way while flexing his left fingers, making the King open its own mouth and fire three smoke bombs. The smoke blanketed the cavern, lowering visibility down to practically nothing. Kakashi's Sharingan peered through it with ease due to its ability to see chakra, but he didn't speak. He said he wouldn't interfere, and he'd keep his word.

Naruto curled his pinky and pointer fingers while his middle and ring moved up and down rapidly and his thumb rolled clockwise. The result was the King gripping its axe with both hands, but then the arms split down the middles, separating them into four separate limbs. The top two arms gripped the axe while the bottom left held the shield and the bottom right grabbed the sword.

"Going all out, Naruto?" questioned Sasori.

"To do otherwise would be insulting, Shishō," retorted the blonde before he sent the King after the scorpion. It began to spin with its run, using the momentum to swing its weapons and shield in a flurrying way. Sasori's tail rapidly moved to block as many strikes as it could, but one final swing of the axe cut through the tail, sending the tip about 8ft from their position.

Giving no time to react, Naruto had the King thrust its sword straight through Sasori's head right between the eyes. Instead of skin and blood though, it was wood and splinters. Naruto scowled slightly before he had the King bring down its axe to split Sasori in two.

However, a blur shot out from under the scorpion before the axe struck, revealing the redheaded visage of Sasori's real body. He smirked at the blonde and praised, "Excellent work… You managed to destroy Hiruko – an advanced puppet – with a standard puppet." He then pulled out a blue scroll and unsealed its contents. From the smoke, his voice called out, "I suppose it's time I used my favorite puppet."

Deidara smirked and commented, "Pulling out that one, huh? This is getting good, hm."

The puppet draped over Sasori's shoulders had dark blue hair that framed its face with long bangs, yellow eyes, and a grayish brown cloak.

Chiyo gasped at the sight and whispered, "The Sandaime Kazekage… So, you were the one who killed him."

"Of course," answered the redhead. "He put up an entertaining fight, but I still took him down in the end before I made him my prized puppet."

Naruto had the King fall back and withdraw its weapons before he asked, "Is this the second part?"

"Yes… This will be a fight with human puppets. Bring out your choice, Naruto."

The blonde nodded before he lowered the collar of his shirt down to his chest and wiped blood over a seal on his heart. From the red scroll that appeared, he unsealed his human puppet. The puppet was that of a woman with long crimson hair that fell to her knees, violet eyes, and two swords strapped to her waist; a ninjato and a katana. She was dressed in a standard Konoha Jonin uniform.

Kakashi froze at the sight and stuttered out, "K-Kushina-sama?!"

Naruto gave him a sidelong look with narrowed eyes. "So, you knew my mother but never told me… I knew you were hiding something from me."

"Your mother?" asked Sakura in surprise.

"Yes, my mother; Uzumaki Kushina," answered the blonde. He then had her step forward while drawing out her swords; the ninjato held in a reverse grip in her left hand while the right hand held the katana blade down.

Sasori just nodded at his apprentice before he had the Kazekage open its mouth and spill black sand all around the redhead on the floor. "I hope you're prepared to have your mother be lost to you, Naruto."

"That won't happen, Shishō. Kaa-san and I have been preparing for this…for a long time."

"I see… Then let us delay no longer!" cried the scorpion before he had the Kazekage shape the black sand into kunai shaped projectiles and fired them.

Naruto narrowed his eyes and channeled chakra through his strings and into the swords held by Kushina. Seals lit up near the tips of the blades before both swords were engulfed in flame. With various flexes of his fingers, Naruto controlled Kushina into blocking every projectile with blurred strikes. The heat from the swords hardened the black sand into solid shapes, showing that the sand was in actuality grains of iron.

"I told you Shishō," Naruto began before he channeled chakra into Kushina and had her emit chains of solidified chakra from her torso and launched them at the Kazekage.

Sasori kept his eye on the chains, moving his puppet out of the way of their quick strikes. Because of this, he was unaware of Naruto blurring away in a burst of speed until he saw his blonde apprentice above the Kazekage with a Rasengan in his right hand and chakra strings in his left. He thrust the sphere directly into the Kazekage's back, bringing it down to the ground and destroying it before he used his left hand to have Kushina race toward Sasori.

"I was prepared for this day!" finished the blonde as Kushina made to slice Sasori apart.

Unfortunately, Sasori stopped her when two blades ripped out from behind him and clashed with her swords. Naruto cursed as he disengaged the flames from the swords when he struck with the Rasengan.

"Most impressive…" he commented. "You actually got the drop on me and forced me to use…myself," he finished before he kicked Kushina away from him and ripped off the rest of his cloak. With nothing to cover his upper body, it was revealed that he had become a living puppet with a container that had the kanji for "scorpion" where his heart would be. He stood atop a cable that was stabbed into the ground and elevated his form slightly.

"Sasori… What have you become?" muttered Chiyo sadly while Kakashi and Sakura looked on in shock.

"The kid's pretty good, hm," Deidara commented with a smirk. "He actually forced you to use your own body."

"Deidara," Sasori began without looking at him, "leave now and report back to Leader-sama." He then removed his ring and tossed it to the blonde bomber. "Take that with you. No matter what happens now, I won't be coming back."

The Iwa Nuke-Nin nodded and created a large clay bird for him to ride away on. "We may have been at each other's throats, but it was still a good run, Sasori my man. I could even call it…a blast," he stated before he rode off.

"Sakura, we can't let him escape!" Kakashi declared before he and the pinkette rushed after the Mad Bomber.

Chiyo stayed, eyes focused on the battle between Master and Apprentice. Sasori pulled out one of the scrolls strapped to his back and grinned before he unleashed the contents. From it, one hundred puppets came forth, each connected to a charka string that connected to Sasori's core.

"Welcome to Hell; Akahigi: Hyakki no Sōen (Red Secret Technique: Performance of 100 Puppets)!" cried the human puppet before he sent them at the blonde.

Naruto's eyes widened in shock at the technique and he quickly resealed his mother before his hands formed the seal that he was known for at home. "Tajū Kage Bunshin no Jutsu (Multi Shadow Clone)!" he roared.

From the smoke he created from the jutsu, one hundred clones appeared and took on every single one of Sasori's puppets. The real Naruto hid behind a rock and unsealed another of his standard puppets. The puppet was feminine in figure with long dark blue hair and green eyes. She was dressed in an outfit similar to a Feudal Era Priestess with a bow and a quiver of arrows strapped to her back. This puppet was known as Miko (Priestess).

Channeling chakra into his eyes and the seals placed on the eyes of Miko, Naruto's eyes flashed blue and he took in the sight from the point of view of his puppet. Intricately weaving his hands, he had Miko pull out her bow and an arrow with a seal on the tip that had the kanji for "Shock" on it. He had her draw the bowstring back, and she took aim at Sasori, who was dodging the clones while firing both flamethrowers and jets of water at them in retaliation.

"Just one shot," he murmured as he used the shared vision with his puppet to aim at Sasori's "heart". He finally saw the redhead turn and expose his chest before he declared, "There!"

Miko released the arrow, and it flew through the chaos created by Naruto's clones before it struck Sasori…but it missed the heart by inches.

Naruto quickly raised a half ram seal and initiated the seal on the arrow, sending a high level of electrical voltage into Sasori. Stray sparks and bolts hit his "heart", making him jerk and recoil in pain. He looked up just in time to see his apprentice take him down and pin him with his left hand on his chest and his right holding a kunai to his heart.

"It's over, Shishō," he muttered as Chiyo slowly approached them.

The redhead, too weak to escape, merely chuckled and stared up to the ceiling of the cave. "Indeed it is, my student." He then turned to him and gave a small smile with a nod. "You have won… You have surpassed me in the ways of puppets and deception. I'm proud to call you…my better, Naruto."

Despite himself, Naruto couldn't stop his eyes from forming tears at the corners. "I wanted to hear you say that….for a long time…Sasori." He then moved away from the downed human puppet with his expression growing more somber. "You're dying," he stated.

"Indeed… The shocks from your arrow overworked my heart. I probably have minutes at best, so I'll make them count. Firstly, I was supposed to meet my spy against Orochimaru one week from now at the Tenchi Bridge. There, you can learn what he's up to for the future and find out about the Uchiha that went to him."

Naruto nodded, committing the info to memory while listening to his Master's final words.

"Next, when I finally pass, I want you to take my puppet body. Keep my legacy alive and use me to aid you. Call it my last gift for my apprentice."

The Uzumaki gave another nod, but this was accompanied with a sad smile.

"Lastly, I feel that you should know this since I never believed it until now," he stated before he looked his student dead in the eye. "I never once thought I'd find comfort with another human when I made myself a puppet... But, I realized that I found that comfort when I took you with me and made you my apprentice. I'm…glad that I met you, Naruto... You made me feel joy after living a life of pain; not in the likeliness of a teacher instructing a student, but...in the way of a father passing on his works to his son... I thank you for helping me feel 'human' again…"

Tears spilt from Naruto's eyes as he fell to his knees and bowed to his Master. "No, Shishō… I should be thanking you. You gave me purpose and saved me from my own despair… You taught me, raised me, and made me the man I am today… I just wish we could have more time together…tou-san."

The scorpion merely smiled and looked back up to the ceiling. "We'll have that time…when our souls meet again in the next life. After all, art is everlasting…and what's more everlasting than the soul?"

Naruto nodded to him and watched as the man slowly stopped moving and passed away. His eyes clenched tightly before he gently removed his Master's "heart" and sealed it into a scroll followed by the puppet body into a separate one.

"In all the years I knew my grandson, I never saw him show that much care for another person…" Chiyo commented, making Naruto turn to her. "You truly must have been something in his eyes, Naruto-san… And I think that I'm starting to see it."

He nodded to the elder in thanks before he moved to Gaara's body. He looked down sadly at the redhead; the one he could truly call brother. Of all the things his "happy" self experienced, the fight and experiences with Gaara were the most real.

Chiyo followed his gaze and frowned in thought before she went through handseals and began to send chakra into Gaara. Without bothering to see Naruto's confused look, she explained, "I may have been the one the place the Ichibi within him, but that doesn't mean I can't make up for it. After all, compared to his life, my life isn't worth all that much."

Naruto silently watched before he kneeled next to her and began to add his own chakra into her technique. He lost a father figure already…so, he wasn't gonna lose a brother as well.

[Timeskip: a few hours later]

Naruto stood atop a stone hill on the walls surrounding Sunagakure where a tombstone was placed. On its face was the epitaph "Here lies Sasori; a teacher, a grandson, and a father to one who nearly gave up. May his soul be as eternal as his puppet art."

Naruto bowed to the stone and declared, "I suppose this is goodbye for now, tou-san… I'll never forget all that you did for me, taught to me, and showed me. And I promise to keep your legacy alive. I'll live my life as Uzumaki Naruto; the Maelstrom of the Red Sands."

With one last look, he left the grave site, never taking notice of the setting sun hitting it just right so that it glowed with a mix of red and orange hues.

(End Chapter)

Here's a peek at my new stories!

It all started with a stupid idea, a stupidly awesome idea. We were both gonna write a story about how we got into the one piece world. How we thought of this awesomely stupid idea? Well, I had to jinx us and say "We would be awesome pirates." As you can tell by now I'm using the word awesome a lot. Well since I'm now in an anime somehow I've decided to take up a verbal. I do love Naruto. Believe it! Sorry for jumping all over the place. But it's been one hell of a ride. I suppose I should start at the beginning... Well we should start at the beginning.

Yea I'm not the only one stuck in this crazy too. Allow me to introduce my brother in all but blood. And my first mate. Kurama Otsutsuki now turned Roronoa Zoro. I'll let him tell his side of the story.

Well, what's there left to say? This idiot jinxed us and now, we're in a world we know technically nothing about, in a crew that still believes we're the same people that started this journey with them… how troublesome. sigh at least we didn't end up in the High School of the Dead universe, that would have been a complete nightmare compared to this… shit; I just realized I'm Zoro, which means that I have to do all those grueling exercises to keep my strength up and train in a fighting style I know nothing off…

Fuck you Toto, if I die, I'm going to enjoy torturing you in the underworld…

Troublesome...I'll let Toto talk again. Time to train.

Great Kurama is turning into Shikamaru. Just what I need. A lazy genius that can use pointy sticks. And screw you too Kurama! I already said that I was sorry. How the hell was I supposed to know all this would happen. By the way Kurama I'll torture you before you can torture me. At least we know we're both going to hell. Be thankful you're not the fucking Surgeon of Death.