A/N Masashi Kishimoto owns Naruto, only 12 chaps published and I already tire of repeating the obvious.


Chapter 12 – Desert Showdown

The desert sun was intense as Gaara and Kankuro smiled placidly, Baki stood to the side and shook his head exhaustedly at the two brothers. Soo joining them was Shizune who moved to wish Kankuro luck one last time. A glance thrown to the giant walls of the village showed people from the village gathering to watch the event of the now head of the assassination division of the ANBU for Suna and their Kazekage go all out in a fight against the other. Each of the combatants was a juggernaut of skill and ability.

As they finished speaking Kankuro and Gaara shook hands quickly to promise a 'fair' match, after all shinobi should fight dirty when possible. Kankuro turned around and gave Shizune one last kiss before shooing her off and facing his brother.

"I've been waiting for this Gaara," Kankuro spoke up as he settled himself into a defensive stance.

Gaara nodded back as the cork on his gourd shot forward where Kankuro easily caught it. The cork dissolved into sand as it dropped from Kankuro's hand and sand started to swirl hungrily around Gaara as Gaara's anticipation fed it.

"As have I niisan," Gaara nodded and also settled himself into his own stance. Both watched the other as the waited for some signal to begin, their eyes locked on each other. The stood perfectly still not moving an inch the only action between the two was Gaara's sand swirling angrily around him.

Finally after ten minutes of nothing a spectator could not hold his irritation in any more and yelled out. "Come on and fight already!"

As if that was the signal Gaara and Kankuro smirked and shot forward simultaneously. The strikes were quick and probing, the styles of combat intense. Kankuro skillfully blocked and dodged each of Gaara's strikes while delivering his own attacks that were intercepted by the sand that swirled around Gaara and rose to deflect each strike. Gaara for his part merely used an offensive style of attack and used his sand to block all other incoming attacks. While this was a blaring weakness on Gaara's part for his taijutsu it worked our incredibly well for him. The only thing that Gaara had to train was his own ability to focus as the sand no longer moved freely and he had to devote concentration to it.

Finally Gaara managed to land a hit on Kankuro after five minutes of merciless combat, while a short amount of time it was quite long for a taijutsu battle. Though people did not realize the necessity of it for his chosen specialized choice of shinobi arts Kankuro was a, while not master, well versed user of five forms of taijutsu. If not for the fact that it would never happen as it gave to many village secrets up he would have asked to even study the goken that Maito Gai and Rock Lee used given its effectiveness even versing Gaara's ultimate defense.

For Gaara to manage to hit Kankuro at taijutsu when he himself was a mediocre user was by no means impressive in its own right. The hit really was not that strong, in fact it was quite weak over all but it seemed to be the go ahead that both needed to step the fight up a notch. Kankuro retreated back away as sand started to spike up from the ground in an attempt to hit him. Kankuro realized he was in a disadvantaged situation, in the desert Gaara really was a god. Fighting him willingly was akin to suicide Kankuro reflected as suddenly the sand he stood on it self began to flow. Smirking to himself he started to actually hover a centimeter of the ground. When it came to manipulation of chakra he may as well be a god himself, his control was beyond even that of Tsunade though he lacked the application and technique to use it in an impressive strength as well as the training to even still apply it medically.

The sand underneath his barely hovering feet flowed smoothly and quickly over the ground. Reaching into his jacket he pulled out a single scroll labeled with a name, Shikishu no Mokushi which he dropped to the ground and unfurled in a smooth motion before properly activating it. Four puppets emerged in a poof of smoke which quickly dispersed.

Each was unique and represented an aspect. So each was named separately: Senka, Soeki, Kikin, and Desu. They each wore similar cut robes though each was slightly different in color and appearance and wielded no weapons, yet. They had one word embroidered on all four of their uniforms, mokushi. Senka appeared with a reddish hair and gave the impression of being massive and powerful as well and had shodaime kishu on his cloak, Soeki was greenish in color and appeared to be rotted and decaying in spots as well as its own cloak and uniform appearing tattered and dessicated, it had kanji nidaime kishu embroidered on as well. Kikin was gaunt and very thin, the face was narrow and if the puppet had bones one would expect to see the bones clearly defined against skin, the hair on it was thin and straggly, it bore the words sandaime kishu. Desu was just a skeleton, nothing more, a wooden skeleton bleached white wearing a long bright white cloak, embroidered in black besides the word mokushi were the words, yondaime kishu.

The four moved as one surrounding and attacking Gaara in four different taijutsu styles. Kankuro had absorbed the debriefing and after action reports of Sakura from her combat with Sasori. One of the things he had located was Sasori and Chiyo possessing no real taijutsu skill which is why he himself sought to learn as many as he was able and use them for himself, but also on his puppets. Gaara for his part defended admirably and fought back just as well, however when attacked from four sides and with four different styles of attack it was difficult. Now the sand he controlled was not merely moving in defense but in offense as well attempting to land a strike against the four illusive puppets.

A slight tickling gave Kankuro just enough warning to jump fast side ways and avoid the sand that Gaara had attempted to strike him with from below. Rushing forward as his fingers still twitched and his arms moved slightly the puppets continued their relentless assault until he himself threw his own weight into it as well. The five of them moved in tandem and with out fault as they attacked Gaara. Kankuro's arms were not used to strike out he only used his legs.

Gaara was pressed back and the final addition of Kankuro was enough to finally breach his defense. A smashing punch from Kikin landed on Gaara's right side before a harsh snap kick from Kankuro threw Gaara back from the group. Gaara was caught by his sand and landed perfectly. Sand swarmed around him before forming a hail of razor edges and shooting forward at Kankuro and his group. The puppet's right arms extended and formed a row of shields blocking the deadly spikes. Gaara raced back forward and delivered a swift upper cut to the farthest right puppet, Soeki. At the same moment Gaara's left foot struck out and hit the chest of Kikin causing the puppet to stumble back. Spinning and facing the last two Gaara crouched and threw both his hands forward, as they extended a wave of sand rushed forward and threw the last two back and hard.

The time spent on removing his puppet defense gave Kankuro the time to finally react, Gaara's speed was great and he now saw why, the gourd on his back was missing. Gaara rushed Kankuro in an attempt to end the fight quickly, Kankuro merely smirked and his fingers twitched. Gaara rolled swiftly to the side as a sythe blade stabbed into the sand at his previous location. The sand rose up and blocked an ax and sword blade from ending his life as well.

Gaara dissolved into sand and reformed twenty feet away, his gourd was once again on his back. "So you found a way around the clogging sand?"

Kankuro could not keep the pride from showing on his face as his four puppets reassembled in front of him, all four now wielding weapons. Senka had a large axe, Soeki held a scythe tightly in its hands. Kikin had two kama's, finally Dosu had a sharp katana. Each was easily dripping in some form of poison. "Of course, I read the reports, let me show you quickly how." Kankuro's fingers flexed again and all four burst into numerous pieces and then briefly flashed before reassembling again. "Ingenious if I do say so myself."

Gaara just shook his head, these four puppets were the first four shinobi purposed puppets that Kankuro had ever made. The one he used before were merely those made by Sasori, and all of Kankuro's other self made puppets until these four were merely toys of some sort or another, nothing military about them. The conversation over Kankuro's four puppets shot ahead and started again, their weapons flashing dangerously, slashing in and out trying to taste Gaara's skin. Gaara for his part just dodged as best he could and allowed his sand to do the majority of the blocking.

Gathering the sand to form two fore arm bracers and then a solid shield on his left arm which he started to block with as well before he finally managed to strike out with a punch, the sand flowed through his contact with the kama wielding puppet, Kikin before traveling quickly and wrapping around it. The puppet was lifted and then smashed into the ground hard while held by the sand. Gaara focus his will and was about to crush the downed puppet when he was forced back again. Kankuro quickly split his fallen puppet before reassembling it next to Gaara and having it assault again.

Fortunately for Gaara none of these puppets had traps as of yet, Kankuro had been far to busy learning other things and building his other puppets. Having enough of this and not wanting to resort to his more draining sand attacks Gaara had the sand all surrounding him in a ball, while things could still push through it would be slowly. Using the delay Gaara added and condensed the ball until it was rock solid.

Kankuro smirked as he saw the true ultimate defense of Gaara, nothing could easily penetrate that ball. Where before Kankuro would have dreaded the thing showing up as it would prelude the release of Gaara's inner demon now he took it as a compliment to force his brother this far and besides, no demon would be released from it now. His four puppets weaponry was still in contact with the surface of the sphere as Kankuro contemplated how to breach the sand, he did not have chidori at his disposal as Sasuke did, nor did he have any truly penetrating attacks without drawing his three most powerful puppets.

Sighing deeply Kankuro reached into his shirt just as Gaara exploded the sphere out, the pieces sharpened as they went and Kankuro cursed under his breath as he was too slow in removing Desu and the puppet was badly shredded, out of the fight. The other four merely had some tattered robes. Using his strings Kankuro moved the largest pieces of Desu and placed them over by the still open scroll it came from and he would seal it with in later. Moving Senka, Soeki, and Kikin back he took in Gaara whose gourd was once again missing but he now held a sword of some sort

Gaara crouched into a low guarded position as he hefted his blade. The sword itself was interesting, it was large, from the end of the hilt to the tip of the one sided blade was almost as long as Gaara was tall. The hilt was large enough to fit three hands, but it was not the only hilt, the second one was near the top of the blade. The edge was not completely strait but actually flowed slightly as it thickened and narrowed, unrecognizable runes and hieroglyphs ran down the flat of the blade on both sides(1). One hand was on each of the hilts, this reduced the reach, but it was meant to be wielded as such.

Holding the blade slightly higher Gaara charged at Soeki, the scythe using puppet raised its sword to parry the strike. Gaara's strike forced the weapon forcefully back into the body of Soeki, behind Gaara a wave of sand rose and rushed back at the remaining two. Cursing lightly Kankuro moved the two back and around the wave, the lapse had prevented him from saving his third. Gaara forced Soeki down before kneeing the thing hard. Sand rose in a dome around the wooden puppet before smashing down on it. The sound of cracking wood came echoed across the desert.

Gaara was already moving on the last two puppets, the sword play was fast as he drove the two back, Kankuro was able to increase the abilities of the puppets as he now just had two to focus on. Gaara was pressed hard, however his final layer of sand armor prevented any blows from being serious. Gaara managed to perform a side kick on Senka's weapon throwing it off position before he spun around hard with his weapon hitting the raised guard of two kama's and pushing Kikin backwards and away, continuing with his momentum Gaara kept spinning, releasing the upper most grip Gaara let the sword extend fully away from his body. Senka's ax was still out of place as Gaara's sword cut strait through one of the arms and slowed down when it was half way through the chest and hit the metal bar that Kankuro placed in all his puppets to prevent his art being cut in half.

Sand flowed up the damaged puppet as it used its remaining arm to strike out at Gaara. Releasing his sword quickly Gaara jumped back from the swing before raising his sand to block the strike to his right from Kikin's kamas. Placing two fingers up in front of his face in a seal Gaara called the sand again and this time spikes jutted in a ten foot radius around him. Sinking slowly into the sand Gaara disappeared. Kankuro looked around for his brother, desperately trying to locate him before he struck again. Intuition hit Kankuro in an instant and he jumped forward to were Soeki still lay broken on the ground, half trapped and held down by sand. Gaara rose from the sand in a burst, a spear tearing through Kankuro would have been had he not moved. Gaara now standing on the surface, the lower half of his body still reforming from the sand, his right arm seemed to be covered and converted into a long lance of sand while his left arm hefted up a massive shield. Gaara stood there for a moment before the sand rose underneath him in a wave pattern and then with him riding it Gaara sent the wave forward at high speed. Kankuro was frankly amazed, this was indeed a intriguing attack. Using the sand as a stead Gaara was charging him in a joust. The shock caught him for too long and though he was able to move quickly Kikin was not and was impaled on the large sand lance.

From where Kikin was spitted on the lance the thing flowed sand forming around the puppet until it crushed in violently, once more the harsh sound of splintering wood echoed on the desert floor. Pulling back with his remaining puppet Kankuro cursed under his breath. These puppets were not meant, nor powerful enough yet to stand alone, they were meant to be a group. Though he had yet to place traps, either group designed ones or individual ones yet, there only strength was using the different taijutsu styles Kankuro wielded on opponents all at once.

Before Kankuro could do anything though the desert sands around himself and his remaining puppet rose high, quickly using kawarimi on was remained of Soeki saved him, but not his remaining puppet. Kankuro sighed as he watched Gaara move to where it was and jerk the unique sword from the decimated puppet. Gaara just turned to face Kankuro, "Please, I want to see your two newest puppets, I am interested what you have made."

Kankuro let loose a laugh, "You destroy four of my pieces of art and then ask to see my newest two puppets, not happening." Kankuro reached into his scrolls once again and pulled out another, his pride and joy, and until recently his most powerful puppet. The scroll was merely adorned with the label 'Kakashi'. Unraveling the scroll Kankuro focus the necessary chakra before poking his thumb on the end and wiping it down the scroll where it was absorbed and out popped the puppet. Kankuro only used blood on his three strongest puppets, having to apply it was dangerous for numerous reasons, but the trade of the security of a blood seal protection on each of the scroll would prevent them from the puppets being captured and studied if the scroll was stolen. If he ever put more powerful abilities on the Shikishu no Mokushi he would place a seal on that as well.

For now though his puppet was revealed. The thing was not wearing a cloak or even any traditional clothing at all. It stood tall and was covered in a tattered sack cloth shirt and pants. The face appeared underneath its straw hat as nothing more than a sack cloth bag with rips and holes were the eyes and mouth should be, straw appeared to be the hair sticking from underneath the hat. It made no attempt to disguise or paint the wood. The hands were clearly wooden and out of each sleeve more straw protruded as from the legs of the pant. This was truly a kakashi, risen and given movement.

Gaara nodded, he had seen this puppet before and it did gain its reputation, the whole puppet was meant to do nothing more than produce fear. Gaara truly did wish to see how it would have been improved with the training Kankuro had recently done. The main reason he had done the training was to improve Kakashi. Kankuro merely smirked before his hands moved, Kakashi was one that would require both of his hands after all, the thing was covered in seals and other hidden weapons, not to mention the gas releases. There was one other thing that it was now capable of, something that Kankuro had trained long and hard to accomplish, the reason his chakra control was beyond compare at the moment. This alone would put him in puppet history.

Kakashi slowly moved forward, hovering lightly off the ground. Kankuro smirked. It was time to begin. Gaara watched the slowly moving puppet wearily as it approached. Then the puppet did something unexpected, it started to form hand seals. The day suddenly turned to night around Gaara and his eyes widened. The puppet started to glow with an unearthly light, its eyes an eerie red from underneath the hat. Gaara had to admit, had he not been who he was this would be a frightening happening, however he had faced creatures and things far more terrible. The puppet raised its hands jerkily, something else meant to inspire fear in a victim. The straw poking from the sleeves hardened and shot out as senbon. Gaara allowed his sand to block the assault, but before the needles hit the puppet once again performed seals and the senbon doubled.

Gaara's eyes widened in surprise, a puppet had just performed the kage kunai no jutsu. No puppet, except human should be able to mold chakra at all, and Gaara knew that this was no such thing. Allowing the sand to absorb the attack Gaara prepared to go on the offensive before any more could happen from this puppet. Raising his ushbati sword he rushed forward to attempt a cleaving strike, the sand around the puppet shifted and rose into the air in an attempt to strike as well. Kakashi moved shakily and jerkily forward, though its movement was disjointed and strange the things was still incredibly fast and nimble. It twisted between the different sand strikes before floating at Gaara supported by the stings Kankuro used. A blade popped out of the left arm, before growing even larger as two large curved blades and then four then eight sprouted from the arm tearing out of the sack cloth. The thing struck down with them as Gaara struck up. The blades locked, however the puppet raised its second arm a foot from Gaara's face before releasing a blast of gas.

Gaara instantly dropped back holding his head with one hand and giving himself room from the puppet. He knew that gas, he had seen its effects on others. Cursing he watched it, putting himself in an impenetrable dome to wait out the effects. The world twisted in on itself, some how the puppet was in the dome as well, though cut off from the strings it dropped against the inside wall of the dome. Gaara watched before screaming as the things twisted into the fallen and broken form of his uncle. Around him the world continued to spin, nightmarish and evil. It was what he saw each time he slept when he had possessed Shukaku. As the spinning increased a massive demon of sand rose above him, a voice echoed in his head.

"Foolish little human, did you think you would be free of me?" The voice of the tanuki thundered all around him and inside his head.

Clutching his head desperately Gaara dropped too his knees and screamed as his head felt squeezed by a vice.

"You are weak without me." The towering demon of sand spoke again, mocking Gaara who merely whimpered. "Did you think to so easily be rid of me, I will always be there to haunt your dreams, bring your nightmares."

"You're gone," Gaara pleaded and glanced at the image of his uncle again, wishing it gone. The world swirled horribly around him, the pressure on his head increased again. "They took you."
"HAHAHAHAHA, no mortal could remove me," Shukaku laughed with glee and sadism dripped from each booming laugh. "Give in too me."

"LEAVE ME BE," Gaara screamed at the towering form, Shukaku broke down and flowed into blowing sand which surrounded Gaara in a screaming biting wind.

The voice returned on the howl of the wind from all around Gaara, "I will never leave, that which was sealed may have been removed but I will always be within you." The sand pressed in on Gaara as the voice began again. "You can still feel the blood lust, the thirst flow through your veins, it calls to you."

Gaara screamed and pushed his head to the ground while holding it with both hands, his sword to the side forgotten on the ground. The pounding increased even farther. Around him as he finally lifted to look were all those he had killed, no all those he had murdered. Blood flowed from the broken tattered bodies. Gaara pushed through the pain, those who had died ambled towards him, led by none other than his own sister, she called them to kill him.

The apparition of his sister finally spoke to him, "You killed me otou, you did this." The visage was horrid, blood flowed from all over it. Bones shown pushed through the skin, half her upper skull missing with brains leaking out, her right eye popped and hanging from a thread of red. Her good eye vacant of life. As all of them came closer, more visions of horror appeared, the smaller form of Shukaku drove them from behind. Gaara watched as his nightmares surrounded him and screamed in terror.


Kankuro did everything he could to breach the dome of sand. He did not know an jutsu for it though and this dome was thicker than any before it he had heard of. Finally he had enlisted the aid of Baki, Shizune and some of the Suna ANBU who were watching. None of them could get more than a foot in, and even that did not break through. Kankuro was getting desperate, he actually heard his own brother's blood curdling scream form within, something he never wanted to hear and never thought he would. The gas he had exposed Gaara too was a powerful hallucinogen drug that stimulated the brain and caused it too see, well terror. Whatever would frighten you most it activated that part of your brain.

Though it would be, and had been effective against his enemies Kankuro wished that he had never created the cursed stuff. The screams continued and Kankuro started pounding his fist mercilessly against the dome, ignoring the pain and the crack noise the signified he probably broke his hand, anything to pierce it and get to his brother to administer the antidote. The screams suddenly died and Kankuro felt his stomach clench in fear, he could not loose another sibling. His pounding against the dome intensified. Kankuro again begged everything to let the dome break.

As if in answer the dome suddenly shattered and crumbled, Kankuro who had been leaning on it fell to the ground. Looking up from his position he saw Gaara. Not broken or a whimpering mess but standing there, his sword held loosely over his shoulder. His other hand dangling to the side. Gaara looked completely fine, as if he had not faced his greatest terrors.

"O... o... otou?" Kankuro managed to stammer out.

"That was quite the..." Gaara paused and took in his surroundings again, "...drug."

"Are you alright?" Kankuro demanded as he stood and started to walk over towards Gaara intent on checking him out. Gaara held up his hand to stop Kankuro's advance.

"I am fine," Gaara shrugged, "I believe we had a fight to finish?"

Kankuro looked shocked, "But..."

Gaara cut him off, "I can continue, and you were unable to finish the fight while I was incapacitated so thus we should continue." Gaara actually managed a smirk, though it was clearly forced, "I want to see your newest puppets."

Kankuro slowly nodded. Baki looked about to protest as did Shizune but Kankuro cut them off with a wave of his hand which spiked painfully, he had definitely broken something in it with his pounding on the dome. Baki nodded and signaled the ANBU, the group left. Shizune stayed however and gestured to his hand. "Let me at least fix that up quick."

Kankuro was about to protest until Shizune shot him a look which dared him to refuse. Sighing and nodding his head, though sending Gaara a look he agreed. Gaara understood and opened his mouth to speak when Shizune turned her look on him. Kankuro could have sworn he saw Gaara take a step back before looking back at Kankuro and shaking his head. Kankuro was on his own, he merely sighed and gave up.

"Good," Shizune said quietly and lifted his hand tenderly as to not cause any more pain. Her right hand glowed as she ran it over the injury. "Not too bad," Shizune took too that annoying muttering all doctors and medics did under their voice, it frankly drove Kankuro balmy at times, though with the earlier look his girlfriend sent him he swallowed his remarks. The pain in his hand slowly vanished as Shizune ran her hand up and down the injury. Finishing up Shizune looked back up, "That should work, but it's temporary. I want to really finish up on it in no more than an hour. Understand?" The question was dark and spoke menacingly. Kankuro rapidly nodded his head, he was not going to argue this. "Good."

Shizune gave Kankuro a kiss on the cheek and shot Gaara a look before she departed to the where Baki was standing. Kankuro turned back to Gaara and shrugged, Gaara merely quirked an eyebrow. Attaching the strings Kankuro drew Kakashi back beside himself. Eyes locked to each other Gaara and Kankuro went into action in one smooth movement Kakashi was sent forward quickly as it drew back its bladed arm to strike, Gaara's sword parallel to the ground, tip ready to impale the puppet. They struck hard, Gaara smashing the blades up and out of the way with a backwards strike before swing back down hard and cutting across the puppet. The sand between them flew upwards and delivered a brutal hit that sent the puppet flying back wards.

The assault did not end there as Gaara jump after and delivered another kick and cut throwing the puppet to the ground. Before Gaara could fall sand swarmed up and caught around his ankles holding him before raising him higher. Sand formed a scabbard on his back and Gaara sheathed his sword in a smooth motion. Raising both his hands the desert rumbled around the puppet and avatar of sand, Gaara.

Out of the sand four massive structures, each almost one hundred feet tall and triangular in nature rose up about four hundred feet apart and arrayed in a diamond. Kakashi was dead center of the four massive constructs. Kankuro cursed and instantly fled, screw his puppet if it came down to this, he had not seen Gaara act this murderously since Naruto beat him during the invasion. He had seen this attack before, it was something Gaara would use to crush armies beneath him, something only possible in the desert because of the massive amounts of sand that it would require, at least theoretically. There had been no call to really use it, ever. That vision of terror must have been bad to cause Gaara to use such over kill on the puppet.

When the trembling stopped Gaara merely smashed his outstretched palms together and the four constructs slammed against each other, a wave of pressure washed off them when they connected at high speed. In the middle of the formation was now a massive pyramid. The Sabaku Haka, the slayer of armies. Gaara let the sand collapse before he felt the sudden urge to move. Letting his sand holding him up drop Gaara felt the pull of gravity and dropped rapidly beneath him the pyramid dissolved into sand and became just another dune in the desert, albeit a massive one. A sword swung through the air where he had been.

Floating, well it was pumping its wings, so hovering where Gaara had been previously was an angel wielding a sword. Gaara dropped down to the earth, the sand slowed his descent to where it was a soft touchdown. Looking around he tried to find Kankuro only to see him absent. Looking back up at the angel he took the appearance in. It held a strait four foot sword strapped to what could be call a wrist on its right arm. The other arm had a pipe like object sticking out of it. The thing had no face, merely a smooth covering where the head would be. It stood about ten foot tall and of course had four massive wings coming from its back, the two legs were thick but looked free of traps, which probably meant that was where most were.

Drifting down slowly until it reached a point then the angel dived at Gaara who managed to roll out of the way. Drawing his sword again Gaara cursed as he stood up again, there was no way his regular sand could stop those attacks, it was obviously strong enough with its sword strikes. Raising his blade Gaara charged and attempted to strike again. A closer look revealed the wings were in fact senbon needles, thousands of them. Drawing back Gaara lowered his sword slightly, this would be difficult to do. Raising the sand he made a completely solid shield that floated to one side, that alone took a lot of concentration as it was not the normal thin layer that his defense was, but solid six inches of tightly compressed sand.

The angel landed before bunching up and extending its wings full, at the moment jumped forward it swept all its wings back to cause a back draft and rush it forward at high speed. Gaara did not even have time to blink as the angel's sword punched through his shield and ended an inch from his face, only after he jumped back. Acting instantly he jumped slightly as he pushed the sand under his feet forcibly up, the result was a high jump, in the air he swung down his sword using his strength, momentum and gravity to increase the power of his strike. The angel detached his blade and raised it arm, another, short blade shot out and blocked the attack.

Pushing off with the sword Gaara used the angel's blade as a counter and flipped back. The angel merely withdrew its second blade and reattached the second before forcibly ripping it from the shield. The sand shield crumbled back to the earth, nothing more than sand once more. Both were now ten feet away from each other. Breathing slightly heavily from the heavy physical activity Gaara sighed as he realized his brother was excellently making use of his old strategy of tiring out his opponents. The true master of a puppet. Standing tall Gaara smiled again and brought up sword before resealing it in a scroll quickly as he hurriedly back peddled to give himself room.

Calling the sand to himself Gaara sent it forward again, he would not let his opponent close as easily. The angel just reversed and backed away from the sand before raising its left arm, the pipe then shot water easily in a hard jet, Gaara moved as he watched the highly pressurized and intense blast of water cut through his hastily made wall with laser like precision. Calling even more sand he danced around and continued to send more sand in sharp and hard attacks. The angel danced as well occasionally sending its own return fire in the form water jets and flame bursts. The pattern continued, neither side giving. Eventually they tried flying only to end up on the ground again.

Reaching the point of enough is enough Gaara built a thick and compact wall between his opponent and himself. Calling the sand purposely to him a massive clawed hand and arm formed on his left arm. Intense heat washed over him as the wall in front of him was turned into glass from the burst of unholy fire. The water hit again and the now glass wall shattered.

Gaara viewed his opponent with an arm of sand, the angel paused at the sight as Gaara then gave one of his old patented sadistic and psychotic laughs and smiles. Smirking he had one more move to really use. Drawing on the sand particles inside the shattered glass he lifted it up and sent all of it flying in a deadly shower of razor sharp blades. The angel reacted quickly and shifted its left arm again from which four small beams emerged and elongated until they were long enough to be as tall and wide as the angel before they started spinning and a glowing shield came into being. The shield spun faster as the wings of the angel folded behind it and not being exposed from behind the shield. The glass hit the spinning barrier and shattered stopping in its tracks.

Gaara smiled then, he had finally figured out why he could not find Kankuro. "So you built yourself a combat suit, impressive." Gaara smiled and let the sand creep up him again forming another arm and the torso of his body.

"Finally figured it out," Kankuro spoke from within the angel. "I see that you have a few surprises as well."

Gaara merely nodded as the sand finally enclosed him, Gaara let himself merge and become one with the sand. The body formed, this was something he had worked on every since he lost the Shukaku, and finally he had managed it, while he lacked the complete raw power and the ability to keep it up indefinitely Gaara had completed his project. Once again could Gaara take the form of the sand tanuki.

"HOw irONic," Gaara spoke loudly, his voice taking on the broken twist he possessed before when in this form. "An teNsHI vErsUs a DeMon." This time his form as the tanuki stood around ten feet not the pathetic five it had before when younger.

Kankuro's laugh reached him, "Not as ironic as this battle may become, this is my remembrance of Temari, you have yet to see the my other puppet crafted in memory of another."

The tanuki and the tenshi both surged and rushed forward, the sword of the angel striking down and cutting an arm from the miniature demon. The arm reformed quickly, not as fast as it did when Shukaku was within Gaara but still quickly. Realizing the disadvantage a weapon formed from the sand, a larger version of the sword Gaara wielded before. This one sand colored and lacking the hieroglyphs of the smaller version. Drawing to full height the tanuki easily threw the sword from one hand to the other before grabbing it properly and giving it a test swing. Once again both rushed forward and attacked in rapid and direct strikes, it was clear to see that neither was a weapon master of any sort, they had enough skill to move the blades correctly and hit the opponent.

The attacks kept going, sand blasts and water jets with fire streams joining into the clashing weapons and sometimes massive fists and claws crashing, neither side gained an upper hand. Gaara could feel his limit coming and decided enough was enough after another ten minutes. However he was brought out of this though pattern as another strike hit, before a kick was delivered throwing him back. The angel armor of his brother rushed again and Gaara barely raised his weapon to parry the strike. The blade of the angel still cut half through the sword, Gaara used the sand to surround and drag the sword around.

Rather than allow the blade to drag himself with it, or the sand to crawl up his armored self Kankuro detached the blade with a finger twitch, another twitch and the hidden compartments in the legs of his tenshi armor blossomed open and forty kunais were revealed, each covered with explosive tags. Launching them they all pierced and penetrated into the sand monster of Gaara, flinging himself backwards just in time Kankuro watched as the throwing knives blew apart in a flowering explosion. Kankuro smirked and worried at the same time, he had most likely won, but had he lost his brother in the blast? Cautiously watching the dust and smoke clear Kankuro felt his heart in his throat. Finally it all cleared to reveal nothing, except his puppets now shattered sword. Confused Kankuro almost moved forward when the ground erupted. Flying into the air and back Kankuro repressed the desire to shutter as he looked on the full sized form of Shukaku towering before him a loud crazy laugh boomed around it.

The voice sounded as it had when it really was a demon and not a manipulation of Gaara, "Give up aniki, you cannot match me now, I have removed previous weaknesses." Kankuro looked up and indeed there was lacking a Gaara shaped zit on the Shukaku's nose.

Kankuro landed far enough away and amplified his voice using chakra. "Are you sure otou? Are you really?" Kankuro egressed from his armor, a seam splitting the upper torso and head area before cracking open. Stepping out into the warm air Kankuro smirked and sealed up the armor again, he had not even been able use half of its hidden traps before it had come to this, Gaara must have wanted to end the fight quickly to use this move so fast.

"Do I take that as surrender aniki?" Gaara's demon voice echoed across the desert, the observing villages cringed back, they remembered well the horror and death that Gaara once brough to them and their village in that form, the form only one had defeated and he was now gone. At the same time it frightened them it inspired them, even though many viewed the now fallen Naruto as a hero for his service in helping Gaara, not once but twice. There had been days of mourning at his loss, however now that the young blond was gone who could stand before Gaara and win now, their village was once again powerful. "I await your surrender."
Kankuro smirked at the remark before releasing the chakra holding the massive scroll to his back. Catching it as it hit he felt a full blown smile, only one person, Shizune, had ever seen this, his newest and most powerful prize. "I have one more, I think you will love the irony of this otouto." Unrolling the scroll partially Kankuro quickly pricked his finger and ran blood down ten feet of scroll before he reached the end of the necessary release seal. The entire thing was a giant seal, luckily puppeteers of Suna mastered in containment seals, those meant to hold object, like puppets and weapons among other things, though it did not seem to work Gaara's was actually one of the strongest seals. It was the only thing that held Gaara from full possession by Shukaku, the reason it was so weak was merely the treatment of Gaara. While now where near as powerful as the seal on Naruto it was still powerful, as powerful as one could be before the Yondaime Hokage had built his complex and very suicidal seal. However this information was merely academic as it passed through Kankuro's head.

The mass of smoke that erupted was quite an impressive sight for those watching on, the desert wind soon started to clear it slowly revealing foot by foot a massive fox, nine tails waving madly behind it as its dark blood orange fur gleamed in the sun. The mouth was open and seemed to be drawn into a snarl as its seemingly alive bright red eyes glared at the sand form of Shukaku before it. Standing firmly on its head was Kankuro his arms extended slightly as his fingers twitched idly. Kankuro's ultimate puppet was revealed, a masterful copy of the Kyuubi no Kitsune. The puppet was truly a masterpiece and the fact that he could control something of this scale was intimidating to say the least, no puppeteer in the history of the art had ever been able to craft something so large and still use it by themselves.

The massive Kyuubi put its front right paw further forward lowering itself to the ground slightly and opened its jaw wide giving a feral growl. The earth seemed to tremble as the roar echoed across the desert floor. Kankuro let loose a laugh, "How's this for ironic otou?"

"It will do." Finished speaking Gaara lunged forward and swung his tail around to hit the massive puppet. Kankuro merely smirked and had three of 'Kyuubi's' tails intercept the striking tail, stopping it cold in its tracks. Before meeting the ferocious charge with its own, jaw open and now people could see liquid dripping off its fangs, most likely some type of poison. Drawing back three more of its tails Kankuro slashed down in an attempt to impale the form of Shukaku. Gaara was faster however and disperse into sand, before reforming to the right side of 'Kyuubi' and smashing down a massive clawed fist to crush the spine of the puppet.

Kankuro merely had the puppet roll away, keeping its head far enough off the ground so as not to crush him while he stuck on board with chakra. His main advantage while fighting like this was Gaara lost his more fine control of sand, so he would not have to worry about irritating sand attempting to catch him or his puppet, nor would it clog up the massive structure, though he did have precautions in place to prevent sticking. The best was that the shield of sand was removed and no longer able to block attacks. Back on its feet and snarling at the massive form of Shukaku; Kankuro directed the massive puppet to lunge forward and at the same time as striking with all nine of its tails. The Shukaku was relatively nimble as it dodged the first eight tails, dancing around them before it raised its tail to block and defend against the last one.

The ninth tail was caught by the sand tail, Gaara wrapped it around and held onto the tail before swinging his own around and trying to dislodge the footing of the puppet dragging it down into the ground. The kitsune puppet instantly shot its other eight tails forward and impaled the monster of sand before spinning the creature around and slamming it back into the ground hard. Gaara separated and dispersed, absorbing his massive body into the sand. Kankuro scanned the desert wearily before he could react underneath him the ground lifted up and Gaara rose from the desert lifting the massive form of 'Kyuubi' up as well before throwing it forward.

Bracing the construct landed with a resounding thud, glaring back at the massive form that had thrown it. Kankuro smirked, only one thing to really do in this situation when it came down to it. Manipulating the strings four of the tails swung out and thousands of senbon, all covered with explosive tags flew at Gaara's Shukaku form. The explosions shredded the sand, the intense heat and pressure actually turning some to glass. Kankuro knew this would not be the end, so the next best thing was to slow Gaara down. Watching the form rebuild from the mess of holes and shredded sand and tattered glass Kankuro manipulated the strings again, at his deft touch the mouth of his puppet opened and out of witch shot water, not just a stream or trickle, but a flood, billions of gallons of water flowed out in a wave of onrushing destruction, a tsunami.

Gaara immediately tried to avoid, but there was just to much to truly avoid, the wave slammed into him, though he managed to stay standing. The spectators were not so luck, Gaara had been between Kankuro and the village walls. As they fled to higher ground the wave slammed against the walls of Suna before finally they calmed. The outside of Suna now appeared as nothing more than a six foot deep lake. Kankuro watched as the form of Shukaku was nothing more than dripping mud, struggling to stay in one piece.

While slowed Gaara was most definitely not out of the fight. Dragging himself back to standing without falling apart he managed to barely do it. While the goop that he was now was slower it was also much harder hitting. Focusing Gaara shot off several massive blasts mud, the balls while slow impacted on the 'Kyuubi' with crushing force, cracking wood could be heard from the construct. Kankuro giving no more time assaulted forward and the two creatures began a fast pace combat of claws, teeth and tails. The two raged across the unnatural lake, now evaporating and being slowly absorbed to the sand below.

Rolling and bitting Gaara managed to finally get a good hold on the puppet before tossing his head and throwing the massive body away where it rolled. Jumping back to its feet Kankuro still on the head, the kitsune puppet's eyes seemed to glow brighter. Kankuro just gained a sadistic smirk as he manipulated the strings once more. Rushing forward the massive puppet barreled into Gaara's form, the two giants bit and clawed trying to gain dominance once again. Fingers flying rapidly Kankuro activated another trap as a massive blade came out of one of the tails.

Flailing the blade around great cuts opened up in the wet sand on Gaara's body, each slowly filling back in as the sand rolled over the injury. The water really had worked as the healing rate was almost non-existent. Even with the massive wounds the battle was going no where quickly, Kankuro cursed his lack of time to add blades to the eight other tails as was his intention, as well he had yet to add all the explosive senbon and kunai traps. Regular ones would be ineffective in this battle, and he had used up all his water, that alone would take another trip to the ocean in the south to refill.

The two combatants started to breath more and more heavily, the chakra exhaustion grating on them, even with Kankuro's perfect control he had to admit that his levels were frankly, crap. There was one final trap, another one that would require massive amounts of time to rebuild, but one that he fortunately had the foresight to place all nine of them. Kankuro decided to make a note to himself that when the time came to refill the traps he would fill more than one mass scroll with water, at least four next time.

Crouching and breathing heavily on the head of his puppet Kankuro noticed the slight slump in the giant tanuki form of Gaara as well. Fingers flying the tails of 'Kyuubi' twitched, the blade withdrew back into the one tail. All four tails flailing madly they struck like whips. Gaara managed to dodge the first two easily, the mass of spectators paused when the massive tail slammed into the ground with resounding cracks.

The earth shuddered and split, wet sand flying high into the air and a visible crack broke the surface of the wet desert. The water left and not yet absorbed rose in a wave emanating from the epicenter of the tail strikes until they died out, further spreading the water abroad. The massive gates and walls of Sunagakure rattled and shook with a furry, those standing upon them cursed as the vibrations rattled them. The siege of Gaara was not over as a third tail was dodged and smashed the ground, another miniature earthquake shook and battered the walls and sand.

A fourth tail arced forward and this time managed to catch the arm of the dodging tanuki, the arm shattered impressively showering the area with wet sand. The vibrations alone caused more damage on the creature as bits and pieces fell from it with wet slaps and plops as they hit the equally soaked sand below. The fifth tail missed as it had been aimed where Gaara was dodging to and Kankuro had no time to correct, yet it was close enough that the impact caused more pieces of the Tanuki creature to break off and ooze down to the ground.

With a crash the sixth tail smashed right into chest of the still reeling creature. The impact and following explosion showered even the spectators with wet, goopy sand. Kankuro sighed and plopped down silently on the head of the puppet, his breathing heavy and ragged, he had actually won the battle. Gaara would be fine, he should have enough chakra to reform his own body, but after that long should hopefully not be able to summon back up the body of the massive tanuki. Though the demon was gone, and with it its seemingly limitless chakra and as such he could actually succeed in this assault. Even with that it still required his most powerful puppets and skills. Taking a deep shuttering breath Kankuro almost missed what happened, only years of training and intuition save him from catastrophic loss

Flicking the the strings instantly and pulling hard Kankuro managed to turn the Kyuubi effigy into the roaring attack of a reformed, completely dry Shukaku. The teeth of the massive sand creature still sank into the neck just feet from where he was sitting. Raising the clawed paws off his puppet quickly he sank them into the sanding form latched onto the neck and even managed to twist the neck enough to bite into the creature back. To massive clawed arms gripped the 'Kyuubi' puppet, the claws effectively pinning them in place where they stood.

A minute slowly ticked past and the two massive monsters stood deadlocked, after that long Kankuro was panting, it was taking in all his effort to keep the strings holding. A form of sand slowly rose on the nose of the tanuki and Kankuro saw the image of his brother rise out of it in a, what Kankuro would now call a pimple. Gaara too was panting and struggling to breath as it seemed.

"Well we seem to have a draw," Kankuro spoke, the humor in his voice giving it a lilt.

"Indeed," Gaara tried to have his normal emotionless drawl, unfortunately fatigue wore him out to where he was unable to pull it off correctly and it just came out as a tired sigh.

"Should we call it a draw," Kankuro asked expectantly, "I can tell you can barely keep that form together where as I can barely keep my strings from fading."

Gaara pondered this for almost a minute, way longer than Kankuro wanted as his body screamed in protest. Kankuro almost reached the point of just surrendering when Gaara finally nodded his acceptance. "A draw."

Expelling a rattling breath Kankuro also nodded, with that Gaara let the sand of his body fall away. His support gone Gaara landed on the head of the Kyuubi next to Kankuro who merely moved the puppet out of the water soaked region before letting the thing sink as he just cut the strings and fell exhausted onto his butt. Gaara soon joined him sitting there and sucked in deep breaths trying to work through his tiredness.

"Did you boys have fun?" The humorous tint in Shizune's voice was welcome as both of the brother's heads tracked up and looked at her.

Baki was just shaking his head quietly before he finally added a comment, "I am proud of both of you, I can't wait to go brag you're both my students."

Kankuro rolled his eyes tiredly as Gaara merely quirked an eyebrow. Shizune moved over to Kankuro and picked up his hand again giving it another once over before speaking again, "I think we should go ahead and take care of this." Holding the hand gently Shizune hauled Kankuro to his feet and supported him by throwing his arm over her shoulders. She would help him off and then seal his puppet back up for him, she was glad he had the fore thought to water proof his scrolls. Attaching a chakra string as Kankuro had taught her to the now floating scroll that housed the 'Kyuubi puppet she pulled it over to her and caught it in one hand.

Baki was now supporting a drained Gaara, nodding to each other both were about to jump down when another voice joined them, one all four of them never expected. "WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU TWO DOING?"

Behind them standing on the head of the puppet was a smirking Nyoko, she also had the expression of the cat who just ate the canary. However standing next to her was a blisteringly angry and furious Temari.

Shizue, Baki and especially Gaara and Kankuro prided themselves on managing to remain conscious.


Temari and Nyoko had made good time, they could see the walls of Suna in the distance, the heat waves almost made it seem like a mirage and Temari was once again thankful for her friends unique talents as they walked in the continued shade. They were enjoying a quite pleasant conversation that came to a sudden halt when outside the walls four massive structures of sand shot up. Though it was still far enough away that they were suitably small in comparison Temari was horrified. That was a technique Gaara had only started to develop a month or so before his capture by Akatsuki. A gasp escaped her as she muttered the name given the attack. "Sabaku Haka!"

Nyoko glanced over at Temari briefly and then back at the sand that quickly slammed together and formed a monument, a pyramid that had crushed forward. Soon the thing crumbled and returned to the sand it came from, a new dune with no will to hold it in one formed piece. Temari felt her chest tighten in fear, what could be attacking her home that would cause Gaara to use such an attack. Turning rapidly she saw that Nyoko form her sand, soon a hovering platform of sand was there, both Temari and Nyoko hoping on board hurriedly and flying over the desert.

Nyoko could care less that Gaara may be in trouble, however, for her friends sake she would try to provide assistance to Gaara and Suna. Both arrived just in time to hear the words that Kankuro and Gaara were speaking too each other. Nyoko merely smiled at that, no threat here. Though that did not allay Temari's fears.

"It appears that your younger brother's are either having a spat or sparring, and given the spectators," Nyoko pointed at the walls of Suna where hundreds had gathered to watch the event. "I would say this is a friendly spar."

Temari nodded disjointedly as she watched her brother's carefully, "They seem to be taking it a bit far for a spar."

Nyoko nodded, "True, but they are brothers, after all you remember the spars between Naruto and Konohamaru. Though Naruto never goes full out they still push the limits of what they should do." Nyoko looked around as she spoke, nobody seemed to have noticed the two floating high in the air on a small platform of sand, "I am thankful that they are however, nobody seems to have noticed us. So lets just settle in and watch, if I'm lucky you youngest brother will get the shit knocked out of him."

Temari turned her glare onto Nyoko, "He's my brother, I wish you would not hold him to blame, he didn't have any choice in the matter."

Rubbing a hand over her face Nyoko sighed, she knew that but sometimes it was not the person to blame that got the brunt of the hatred, but those who reminded them of the cause. Nyoko still could remember the shouting and screaming Kyuubi had leveled at her when Kyuubi had discovered her reason's for disliking the jinchurriki of Suna. Kyuubi had almost pounded her into the ground, it was a close thing. The words still echoed around in Nyoko's head:

"How could you, don't you realize?" "This is exactly what those... those... monster's in Konoha did to Naruto." "How can you even call yourself his friend, let alone sister when you do the same to some one else?"

The shouting had gone on long after that, as had the blistering rebuke, and as much as she hated to admit it Kyuubi was correct. Kyuubi had even told her that they used to beat him as a child, though Kyuubi did refuse to say what the event was that had ended it. But whatever it was had blocked all of Naruto's memories before his sixth birthday. Though his life had been hard after that, and it still had caused a lot of resentment it was no where near as bad. Kyuubi had the memories purely because during those years the stress and emotion had been so high that she had seen it all. Kyuubi had confided in Nyoko and Kiyoshi what had happened and that it was why she was so willing to help Naruto.

Nyoko shook her head to clear the thoughts, the point as it concerned her, beyond Naruto, was simple, she found it hard to let go of such deep and intense hate, after so long of hating some one, even for a wrong reason that hate just stays. The thing festers and it does not matter any more beyond the fact that you just hate them.

Opening her mouth to speak she was cut off by a loud explosion and Temari's horrified gasp. Having to reach out and grab the wind mistress before she jumped off, Nyoko was even forced to wrap some sand around her friend. "Calm down, he is fine." Nyoko spoke loudly into Temari's ear as she direceted the platform to raise higher.

"But that explosion..." Temari worried, "I can't believe Kankuro would take it so far."

"Gaara is..." Before Nyoko could finish the massive form of Shukaku burst from the desert and started to speak.. Nyoko was opened mouthed as the two watched Kankuro emerge from his angel armor and start to speak back up at Gaara.

The words of Kankuro reached them loud and clear. "I have one more, I think you will love the irony of this otouto." The two watched in muted fascination as the form of Kyuubi, a good replica of her when she was in all her glory appeared. Nyoko could not help but let loose a cackle at the sight.

Temari was impressed but her friends insane laughter confused her, "What is so funny?" Temari's demand seemed to bring back some sanity to Nyoko.

"The irony that your brother mentioned, he has no idea." Nyoko spoke, laughter still making her words slightly hard to understand. "You weren't with us long enough and haven't heard most of the stories about Kyuubi and Ichibi."

Temari just quirked her head, to be honest Temari tended to avoid Kyuubi mainly because she saw the kitsune as a rival for Naruto's affections, as such she really had not cared much about any stories about Kyuubi. Temari sighed deeply before speaking, "Well?"

"It is somewhat complicated, but the short is that Shukaku-sama opposed Kyuubi-sama's rise to the Hyo Gikai no Kyu," Nyoko glanced over at Temari, she was mostly sure that Temari had picked up on who and what the Hyo Gikai no Kyu was and its importance. Temari seeing the unasked question nodded her head and motioned to continue. "Well, as a result the two ended up battling more often then not, I understand they became friends eventually though they still continued to fight on the matters of the council, most of the time these fights led to actual blows being thrown at each other."

Temari just shook her head at this, "So that is where the legend came from."

Nyoko shook her head rapidly, "If you mean the biju and their fights, the one most likely referred being the irony your brother is stating, then no." Nyoko smiled at the confused expression on Temari's face. "Those battles were fought by the biju, the Hyo Gikai no Kyu was formed based on them. The legendary battle between Kyuubi and Ichibi was in no way related, the same for the battle between Hachimata and Kyuubi." Nyoko looked at the expression on Temari's face before speaking in slight shock, how could Temari not have picked up this next fact in the time she spent with them. "You mean you didn't realize that Kyuubi-sama is a completely different kitsune then the one of legend?"

"Are you serious," Temari's mouth opened in shock.

"Completely, for one I believe that Kyuubi-sama is just under one hundred and eighty years, she is not thousands of years old, that is one of the reasons that Shukaku-sama opposed her appointment to the council." Nyoko said shaking her head. "For all intents in the lives of kitsune Kyuubi-sama is still a teenager."

Temari felt her eyes widen considerably at that, she had assumed that the Kyuubi she knew was the same as that from legend, and as over ten thousand years old. "You're serious?"

"Quite," Nyoko affirmed. The battle below picked up as Kankuro released a flood. "Causes tsunamis, he managed to do that with his puppet, impressive." The drenched form of Shukaku was still fighting.

Temari however was finding it hard to focus on the fight, she had never thought to question the whys of several things, such as why Kyuubi appeared the age she did. A question popped into her mind at that, "So does that mean Kiyoshi-san is around two hundred as well?"

Nyoko let loose a long and wild laugh, "Not in the least!" Shaking mirthfully Nyoko broke into more laughter, "He is several thousand years old, the oldest on this plane, all those his age or possibly older reside in Makai, and Yami-Makai."

"Was he the original Kyuubi of legend?" Temari theorized while being slightly aware of the fight happening below.

"No," Nyoko answered briefly.

"What happened to the original, and is the Shukaku I know the same from legend?" Temari was curious now as to the fates of those biju.

"Hardly, as strong as Shukaku-sama was he could not hope to stand before the Ichibi of old," Nyoko answered, though there was a slight regret in her tone. "The fates of those nine are some what known, I believe that the Ichbi through Schibi reside and rule over the deepest levels of Yami-Makai. Hachimata was later found and killed by Kyuubi for the earlier battle, that is were the sword of Orochimaru's and now Sasuke's Kusanagi came from. As for Kyuubi, as I understand it his power was so great and his plans so threatened the Kamis that the Kamis along with his own brother sealed him. Though it is legend it is commonly believed that he is held prisoner by Shinigami-sama. Probably where the Yondaime Hokage got the idea for the Shiki Fuin."

Temari took in the information, the original biju, at least some of them, were all still alive, and apparently those they thought of as the biju were not even as powerful. As she was about too ask another question of Nyoko there was a massive cracking noise, then another Temari's eyes instantly flew to the battle as she watched the third tail of Kankuro's 'Kyuubi' puppet smash into the earth, another tremor and boom followed it. "Wha..."

"He actually replicated it," Nyoko was amazed and shocked, her mouth was actually hanging open as the fifth tail pounded into the earth. Her eyes also followed the water that had become another wave. "He managed to make the tail swings destroy mountains and cause tsunamis, Kami-sama how can he manage that!?"

The sixth tale blew strait into the chest of the wet Shukaku form which quickly exploded with the force of the strike. Both women watched in amazement, Temari was shocked her brothers had become so powerful since she last saw them, especially Kankuro. The rest of the battle went slowly and ended in a draw the two still sat stock still in the aftermath. Finally coming to their senses Nyoko directed the sand platform to lower.

The lower they got the more Temari fumed, "What were those idiots thinking?" Temari all but screamed as they watched Baki and Shizune make their way over to the two combatants. Nyoko was glad that they were still far enough away to not be heard. Temari continued on in an angry hiss, Nyoko was quite glad that she was not the target of Temari's fury at the moment. "Those morons could have killed each other. And Kankuro could have easily killed Gaara with that ground shattering attack of his. I haven't seen them in months and the first time I do they appear to be in a battle to the death. If they hadn't already tried to do it too each other I would kill them."

Nyoko breathed in steady, even breaths, she would not attract attention. Especially since Temari would probably demand to know why Nyoko had not stopped the fight, or allowed her to do so. Suppressing the sigh of relief as Temari's rant went quiet, though a quick look showed that she was continuing under her breath to quietly for even Nyoko's advanced hearing to pick up. As they got closer they watched as Shizune picked up Kankuro, none of the four, or anyone had even noticed the two women. Looking over at Temari's face Nyoko reflected that she was definitely going to enjoy this and was unable to keep that from reflecting on her face.

They touched down softly and before they got to far Temari's shout echoed in her ear and Nyoko felt her face show even more of her enjoyment.

"WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU TWO DOING?" Nyoko actually did wince a little at the loudness, but the expression on the four faces was completely worth it, though Nyoko had to admit some admiration as they kept from feinting in shock.

The four however reacted quickly and instantly went on the defensive, even through their fatigue Gaara and Kankuro managed to as well which only impressed Nyoko more. Baki was the first to speak, his anger practically visible in the air. "Who the hell are you? Do you think to trick us by using the face of our dead friend?" The second question was hissed so low and with such malice that Nyoko had to suppress a shutter.

Temari for a moment looked confused and her prepared rant died on her lips, then it hit her like a ton of bricks. "Damn, forgot that you had yet to tell them." Temari turned back to face Nyoko worrying her lower lip with her teeth. "I kinda forgot we had a plan to break it to them."

Nyoko just shook her head and rolled her eyes, "Yeah, them think your dead would kind of make them wary." Nyoko sighed and then looked at the four battle ready shinobi. "Sabaku no Gaara, Sabaku no Kankuro we of Kyokigakure no Sato would like to present a gift to you and your village Sunagakure no Sato, the life of your sister Sabaku no Temari."

Kankuro narrowed his eyes, Gaara had explained about the events at the conference and had actually just recently sent the notification that he had the required information on the chunin exam for this previously unknown village. However Gaara had also explained his own feelings of trust with this Nyoko. Sighing as he realized he would have to lead the questioning here, "And we should believe this is not some trick because?" Besides, Kankuro reflected in a small corner of his mind, one he would reveal no where else, if this was true, number one celebrate, and number two it might make Temari stop whatever rant she had warmed up.

Nyoko was about to respond when unfortunately Temari's sister senses kicked in and she detected the hidden reason. "Oh you are not getting out of my rant later otouto."

Another eye roll was Nyoko's only reaction, "I assure you that this is Sabaku no Temari, she was rescued by Nar... a shinobi of our village, you may have heard of him as he has gained the name recently of Keshin no Daikonran."

Temari before gave a look at Nyoko, "I can't believe you almost said his name, after practically pounding it into my head you almost said his name yourself." Temari could not help the laugh that escaped.

Nyoko just ground out a 'Shut up' before refocusing. "We guarantee this is quite real, after all us even managing to be that close to Ame was a near miracle." Turning to face Temari Nyoko gave a little of the story, "Temari-san had made it almost out of Ame when we ran across her, she was close to dead. What happened then is the reason Keshin gained his title. Massacre does not even describe what he did, I am still wondering what all happened, but Temari-san, Keshin-san and Nakikage-sama refuse to speak of it."

Temari shuddered involuntarily at the reference, the events were quite, bloody. Naruto seemed to snap, something was let loose. Something that Kyuubi told Temari to never ask about again. The other four noticed the shuttering reaction to the report from Temari and choose to not question further, some one who was a veteran does not shudder like that without good reason. "Would you consent to a blood test?"

"That is not my choice, we are merely returning her to you," Nyoko answered clearly, "The choice is up to Temari-san."

"Right, so that way she can refuse and try to cover it up," Kankuro rolled his eyes dramatically. "Nice and clever."
"You're lucky my fan was destroyed otou," Temari ground out. "Or I'd smash your make-up wearing face in with it, before pounding you into the ground." Temari fixed Kankuro with a stare that made him want to whimper. "I will submit to the test."

Baki nodded in approval of the idea though he refused to hope and was very much still weary of it being a trick, "Very well, may I suggest we return to Gaara's office however, I think these two could use some rest. I truly hope you are Temari-san, it would be nice to have her back."

Temari smiled in thanks, she was who she was, no questions asked. Nyoko nodded and turned too Gaara, "I need the information that was promised." Gaara gave a barely perceptible nod.

"You could try being nicer you know," Temari chastised her friend very seriously. Her big sister instincts kicking into over drive after having watched the fight.

"I could," Nyoko began. "But then you know my reasons, and you know I am trying. Besides you don't hold a torch to the lashing that Nakikage-sama gave me over this."

"Probably true," Temari agreed. She hated to acknowledge the over protective streak that Kyuubi sometimes had for Naruto, it was just unfair. As far as Temari was concerned Kyuubi did not in any way deserve Naruto, all she had done was bring problems into the blond's life.

"Your competition is unhealthy," Nyoko observed, she knew exactly where the woman beside her thoughts were treading. "You will find it hard to compete, she has shared his life with him, you have only really known him for the last several months."

Grinding her teeth together Temari just ignored Nyoko and turned to the four onlookers, all of them lost. "Let's just go and do the damn test, the sooner we get this done the sooner we can all move forward."

Nyoko just sighed at the double meaning in that, she supported her friend because she was her friend. However, she also knew a lost cause when she saw one. Shaking her head Nyoko jumped off the puppet head with the others as Shizune resealed the monstrosity. They hung around for several minutes as Kankuro, with a lot of help from Shizune retrieved his buried and broken puppets, sealing them back within scrolls before they all turned and left entering the gates of Suna.


Both looked at each other as they had sneezed simultaneously before they broke out in laughter. Naruto grinned wide as the laughter died down and looked across at Kyuubi. They had stopped at a GO salon too play a few games before proceeding on towards the capital. Naruto had really taken a shine to the game, though Kyuubi had to admit that it was indeed created by humans and that there were numerous places one could go to play a game. Finishing up the game in companionable silence Kyuubi let loose a yawn, she was tired and Naruto did not have to suffer through fatigue any more. Standing up and stretching as Naruto put up the stones before they both walked out the door. Walking down the street Kyuubi made for a local inn that they had passed earlier with Naruto not far behind her.

"So..." Naruto began before just tailing off.

Looking back over her shoulder Kyuubi arched an eyebrow at the blond, giving up on waiting she finally spoke, "So?"

"Well," Naruto looked around the town. "I was wondering why you have to sleep when you don't have to eat, mind explaining that one to me?"

Kyuubi opened her mouth before shutting it down, thinking for a second she opened it again only to pause and shut again. Shaking her head slightly she finally just gave a confused smile, "Actually I have no clue."

"Weird." Naruto was looking around again, he hated this awkward silence, it drove him up the wall. Add to it the fact that recently Naruto felt increasingly nervous around Kyuubi and he could not explain why. The two had become very close over the months of training and Naruto had lost his initial nervousness around the orange haired kitsune but then it had slowly returned, though different and it was driving him insane.

Looking at Kyuubi as she continued to walk quietly in front of him Naruto took in her features. She was without a doubt beautiful, curves in all the right places. Naruto shook his head quickly to knock his vision away, that was another problem in that recently he found himself just staring at her for no reason, but just taking in how she looked or the way her hair hung, or the real kicker for him when ever she smiled. The thoughts and actions he found himself doing recently baffled him.

Reaching near the inn the two of them went to a near by alley, or rather he did. Creating a quick kage bunshin not even bother with hand seals he had become so proficient with the jutsu; the clone henged into a tanto before Naruto plunged the sword through his chest and where his heart would be if he was still in his human body.

Kyuubi watched Naruto act in the shadows, advanced vision really was a bonus. Sometimes at least. She had to stifle her reaction as Naruto plunged a blade into his own heart, unfortunately they had found the only way to dispel the technique that allowed Naruto out was to kill him. This sent him back into the seal, and there was no other way they could find. So each time that Naruto would need to dispel Kyuubi found herself with her heart beating erratically and worrying.

The presence of Naruto appeared back with in the seal and soon began to complain. "That is quite annoying and painful," Naruto's voice echoed in her head.

"I'm sorry, but we only have enough money for one room." Kyuubi thought back, she swallowed her own thoughts that it was something she wished they did not do, would not do for Naruto to realize that she had developed something of a soft spot for him. Besides, feelings were just weakness and if one has them they must endeavor to crush and suppress them. "And I do not want to risk some kind of security this close to the capital, all ninja activity would be closely monitored and you sneaking in might give us away."

"I know, it still hurts." Naruto sighed inside her head.

Shaking her head lightly Kyuubi made her way inside and motioned at the proprietor of the place who bustled over quickly. "How may I help you?"

Reaching into her shirt Kyuubi withdrew a wallet, "How much for one?"

"Six thousand ryo a night ma'am," The man spoke quickly eying the money.

Sighing internally, and ignoring Naruto's laugh at said internal sigh, Kyuubi fished out the money and absently noted there was only about a thousand ryo left. Putting the money back she took the key the man offered to her and mumbled a thanks. Walking away she checked the number of the room written on a tag hanging from the key.

The place was nice over all, clean so that at least meant that it was not a regular stop over for 'working girls'. Sliding the key into the lock Kyuubi opened the door and walked in, the room was not all that impressive. Only a bed, nice and big, but that was it the rest of the room was bare, not even a window. This made Kyuubi rethink her idea that this was not a frequent stop over for whores bringing in their clients. Locking the door swiftly Kyuubi lifted her shirt up, biting her thumb she swiped some blood over the seal and focus her chakra.

Letting her shirt drop Kyuubi held out her hand and a clone appeared where her hand was placed in mid air. This was not a normal clone as was evident by the fact that it started out as a shadow that began to slowly take form and shape until Naruto stood next to her once again. Cracking his neck Naruto looked around the room before turning to Kyuubi. "Wheres the couch or chair, hell I'll take a table."

Kyuubi grumbled as she took her sandals off before making her way to the bed and flopping down. Getting slightly comfortable Kyuubi finally spoke up, "Look, you just said that you wanted to be out at night. You could stay in the seal, hell you could even go back into it." Kyuubi cringed at her final words, she did not want to see that again tonight, or even be in the same room as it. True there was no blood, but it was still worrying. 'Damn emotions and connections,' Kyuubi reflected.

"No thanks on going back," Naruto shook his head vehemently before looking at the bed, taking his boots of Naruto made his way over and sat down beside Kyuubi the bed sagging slightly with his additional weight. "We could split the bed, it is large enough."

"Hell no," Kyuubi protested up on her knees on the bed before Naruto could blink. "If you want to stay out of the seal you can either stay awake or sleep on the damn floor. We are not sharing the bed."

Naruto sighed, he figured that would be a no go anyway, "Alright, the floor it is." Naruto took off his cloak and shirt, revealing a mesh muscle shirt underneath. Rolling the shirt up he used it as a pillow and pulled his orange cloak over himself as a blanket. Closing his eyes he sighed, "G'nigh Kyuu-chan."

Before Kyuubi could react to the nick name Naruto was already asleep. Rolling her eyes she pulled out a scroll and unsealed a change of clothes. Making sure one last time that Naruto was really asleep she changed quickly into another loose set of pants and shirt, also taking the time to undo the combat bindings around her chest placing the wrappings on her pile of cloths she pulled out for the next day. Climbing back into the bed she pulled the sheet over he body and fell rapidly asleep.

It seemed as though no time had passed at all, maybe a minute though it was probably closer to three hours before she woke up again, forgoing meditation tonight and just going with pure sleep. The room had dropped down to almost zero in temperature, shivering slightly as she pulled her arm from underneath the covers. Looking down at Naruto curled up on the floor, it was clear to see that the cloak was no protection from the cold as he shivered and vibrated. Kyuubi sighed as she watched the blond freeze to death. Well maybe not to death.

Reflecting on the oddity that was their current predicament, they required no food, yet they did need sleep occasionally, or in her case every night, Naruto only took to needing it once he spent his days out of the seal in the real world. Also Naruto would not die from a lethal wound inflicted on his current body, but he would feel pain or in this case cold. Watching for another five minutes as her thoughts drifted Kyuubi sighed deeply. She had two choices to solve this, and one was not a choice as far as she was concerned.

Since sending him back to the seal was never going to happen as she could never bring herself to do that Kyuubi heaved a longer sigh and sat up, shivering violently she got out of the bed and picked up the blond leaving only his shirt on the floor. That made her realize another thing, why were his cloths always clean when he came out of the seal, she herself had to wash hers regularly, Naruto merely needed to pop back into the seal and back out, the same with sweat. Which oddly enough though neither had a real body both managed to sweat as well, Kyuubi had to take a bath where as Naruto merely had to do a pop-in pop-out. Though that did not keep Naruto from swimming or even going to the hot springs occasionally with Kiyoshi, Konohamaru and Udon. 'Life,' Kyuubi reflected, 'Was not fair.'

Maneuvering Naruto over she placed him gently on the bed and the motion waking Naruto up slightly as she positioned him on one side before placing the covers over him and removing his cloak tossing it with his shirt. Tiredly Naruto looked around for the disturbance and noticed himself in the bed, "Kyuu-chan?"

Kyuubi smiled lightly, though not sure why as she hated the damn nick name, but the way Naruto said it and the tired slur in his voice. Plus the way his eyes were not even open just added to the image. Rolling back into bed she got comfortable on the opposite side of the bed covering herself up with the sheet.

"You stay on that side, I take this one and call it good, got it?" Her voice demanded the last part.

"Sure thing Kyuu-chan," Naruto sleepily slurred out.

The smile she had just deepened and it drove her nuts, "Good." The need for revenge of his nick name, plus the desire to just say it anyways drover he next comment, "Night Naru-chan."

Naruto just rolled over slightly and slurred out, "Night Kyuu-chan."

Kyuubi just shook her head and let sleep take her.



Cheers, next chapter soon, hopefully, I will try to get the next out in three days.

Here is some translations:

Shikishu no Mokushi – four riders of the apocalypse

mokushi – apocalypse

kishu – rider

shi – four

Senka – war

Soeki – plague

Kikin – famine

Desu – death

haka – tomb

sabaku – desert

Hyo Gikai no Kyu – Council of Nine

hyogikai – council

kyu – nine

Naki – weeping

Yeah I know that is a lot. Sorry.

Here are the notes:

(1)Sword is in this picture. Remove spaces before using link. The sword it held by the second from left.

uk . games-workshop . com/tombkings/miniature-gallery/12/

(2)Ever since I saw the original image for this I have always thought that Gaara on Shukaku's nose looked like some kind of pimple, I had to include that line just because of it.

9,000 word fight, dang that was long for me, sorry about the length but that is a fight I have wanted to do since I started planning out this story, the rest of the fights will mainly be Naruto and Kyuubi (the real one, not Kankuro's puppet). Though I will say that Kankuro has not revealed all his new attacks yet. I have transformed him into a true puppet master.