Word from Your Esteemed Author

"Uhhh ... the sky is blue; sun's out like usual ... my dog is currently staring at me like I'm a big juicy gob of kibble ... nothing much else to say today; please carry on. Don't forget to write a review!" -- Shura

Reviewing the Reviews

Mashadette ... There she is, my Tobi girl. I'm so happy you still remember me. I died, but I came back for you; do you feel honored? What have I been doing? I've been thinking about you, honest. Blame my absence on Monster Hunter ... I mean, the important life-threatening work I've been doing. Also, I had, errr ... stomach cramps. A panda? That's nice. Retarded. Still nice. Let's call you Panda-chan from now on.

Yamikage ... I'm sorry. Guess I need to get myself back into the right flavor. I'd rather you give me more specific details about why a chapter is bad than just make general statements, so I can work on them. So why did it suck? It was too draggy, wasn't it? I went on and on and on about basically nothing, didn't I? My greatest weakness. And you don't like me centralizing the text!? But, WHY!? I kinda liked it ... awwww. Anyway, you should have little to complain after THIS chapter, I think.

Sir Greatness ... By some twist of fate, I got the stupid links working again about an hour after I got your PM.

Capping the Re-Cap

Check it out; it's a new section (giving me another excuse to fill up the page with more of my retarded scribblings) and I'll be doing a re-cap of the previous chapter every chapter now. Mashadette (aka Nutty Panda) requested a full re-cap of the entire story; as I've not updated in so long and most of you will need a refresher (for you are NOT too lazy to go back and re-read everything). I'll leave that to next chapter because I'm out of time, so for now here's to my first entry on Capping the Re-cap:

From the last chapter ... Hinata is feeling jumpy that Kiba is not coming back to camp. Back at the homestead, Tsume Inuzuka wants to jump her constantly MIA husband down the throat. Meanwhile Kiba himself is jumped by some hairy beast of the forest! What creature could this be (no, it's not Mowgli) and will Kiba live to tell the tale?

Disclaimer Time.

Normally, I script the disclaimer before I start writing the chapter. I forgot about it this time and as such left it to the very last; in which case my creative energy has been sapped and I am too lazy to go think up something new. At least for the time being.

So, I don't own Naruto, that's it.

Chapter 34 : Super Creepy Guy Number One.

Kiba felt something slick and wet like a tongue dancing about the apple of his throat. Man's pride be damned, he did what any normal frightened person would do. He screamed like a little girl.

"Gaaaaaaaah! Mommy! Get ... Get it off me!"

The massive mess of hair shifts off his face as he struggled.


He saw eyes. Piercing eyes so sharp he thought he was going to explode in flames.

And that hot breath still on his face.

"Yo, Kiba-san. Konnichiwa."

He screamed again.

"Tuh-Tuh-Tuh-Tuh ..."

"Aww ... poor Kiba-saaaan, are you all alone?"

"TUH-TUH-TUH ... !!!"

A giggle.

Kiba's eyes are rounder than full moons. Something very soft and very warm is pressed up against him right now and he knew he was going to die.


And Temari it was.

She coyly flicked the curling fringe off her forehead in a deliberate manner; the smile on her face comparable to a hungry python's. This girl ... she wasn't even being discreet this time. It is as if she got bolder and more impatient every time Kiba ran into her (not that he hated her taking initiative, oh no).

Temari ran a finger across the side of his head, picking up a trail of his sweat. She brought the finger to her mouth and whilst staring into his eyes, licked it slowly, washing the digit fully in her saliva.

"Mmmph ... salty."

The teaser more or less murdered Kiba on the spot. The aggressive alpha male within screaming to be let loose; a thousand chemical reactions going off in his body all at once like a fireworks display on New Year's Eve. He thought he could hear the damn fox sniggering like a troll under his bridge.

Talk, man; talk! Don't just stare at her! You're a man, aren't you? You're a cool guy. Cool guys don't stare at girls with their mouths hanging open. See how that Sasuke chap does it? Quick, act like a bastard! Think EMO!!!

Kiba took a deep breath; which only served to make him more aware of the soft sweet warmness lying on top of him. He had to dig his fingers to the hilt into the ground to keep himself from reaching out and touching this exquisite healthy female in places he would regret later.

The human heart is parley to all manner of emotion. There are three over-arching emotions that completely dissolve all others, as well as each other: euphoric joy, raging anger and cold fear. Ever only one of those three dominate the human psyche at any one time. Falling in love goes under the euphoric category, whilst hatred can go either hand in hand with anger or fear. Naturally, you don't feel happy and angry at the same time, whilst fear at its greatest heights can block out any anger that might have given one the drive to get up and fight back.

The feral half of their blood makes the Inuzuka physically superior to other human beings. They generally grow bigger, have tougher physiques, can run faster, jump higher, hit harder, take a lot more punishment, travel greater distances, and all the rest of it. But as with all forms of power, especially a unique kekkei-genkai like this one; it comes with a costly trade-over. With feral strength, comes feral nature. Trade complete conscious control over one's actions for sudden bursts of animalistic, thoughtless instinct. Instincts that run whack without prior warning at any time, and any place.

A human persona and a beast persona if you will; the impractical bi-personality quality. A strong heart and sound will is absolutely imperative in winning the fight against one's beast half. That's why Inuzuka women are often seen slapping the tar out of their offspring to toughen them up; it's not child abuse, it is parental love and insurance for their futures!

The oft-asked question: are we in control or are our emotions has no concrete answer when it comes to extreme levels of happiness, anger or fear. Uniquely for an Inuzuka male, a state of sexual arousal forces him to experience all three extremes simultaneously. He is insanely happy, is raging against his feral instincts and is afraid of losing the battle and human conscience along with it. If they are bred for impossible feats in physical supremacy; the negative trade-off is impossible to handle as well.

That is to say, young Kiba is in a heck lap of shit right now.

Help! Help! Where's that ugly freak biscuit that wears ladies' make-up! One look at him drives all dirty fantasy thoughts out of my mind in an instant! Where is he!?

"Uhh ... Temari, did you ... did you just bite ... my neck?"

Yes, YES, she did! She bit me, she licked me, she's pushing her body against me ... KANKURO, SAVE ME!!!

"Isn't that the way you Inuzuka greet each other? I was just following customs," she replied innocently.

"Customs, my arse. What a shameless lil' mynx you are, sister. I am thoroughly disgusted."

Ooooh! It's KANKURO!!! Save me; save me!!!

Temari rolled off at once and Kiba could finally breathe easy.

"You ... You shut up at once! Take your stupid dollies back to the playhouse and leave us alone! Or is it because you are smelly and hateful and no girl would give you the time of day; so you need to hang around your dear sister to feel secure of yourself."

Dollies? Playhouse? You don't talk about a puppet master's puppets that way and get away with it.

Kankuro's face darkened. He unslung what he was carrying on his shoulder and tore off the wrappings. Kiba squinted to see what it was. Kankuro had been lugging that thing around since day one and Kiba could never figure out what it was because it gave off no signature smell.

It is ... a doll. A fugly creepy doll.

It had only one eye in the center of its head, bottle brush hair and teeth that looked like they had come from a real person's. Its body is two-piece; small chest and big butt, just like an insect's. There were no arms and legs. Before Kankuro even finished unwrapping his toy, Kiba could already feel an eerie chakra emanating from the doll.

"Take ... Take it back, Temari. You take back what you said right now." This guy sure didn't sound like he was messing around.

Even the strong sexy Sand kunoichi looked a little shaky. "What are you doing, idiot brother? You're not seriously planning to use that on your dear sister?" Her words are smug, but her tone had a hint of a tremble. Something's not right. Temari is not the type to tremble at just anything. What the hell is that doll?

Kankuro answered by pulling taut invisible chakra strings. The doll's limbs now mechanically rattle out of the body one by one; eight of them in all. A spider. A hairy black, one-eyed wooden spider. And it has a big happy grin drawn on its face. How ... adorable. Kiba noted that the ends of each of its legs held a six-prong shuriken.

Kankuro lifts his head, his expression somber as Temari's smugness disappeared altogether and she raised a defensive stance.

"Jackspider ... Blood Carnival."

As the puppetmaster twists his strings, the doll – Jackspider – hurtles forward with a clackety wooden sound, going into a ridiculous aerial spin that would launch those shuriken at crazy speeds.

Six-prong, or six-star, shuriken are different from the typical four-prong. They're almost twice as heavy, making them unwieldy for basic aiming and throwing. Rather, the six-prong serves better as ammunition for the special shinobi's arbalest, or crossbow, designed uniquely to fire shuriken instead of arrows.

As the Jackspider is a machine after all, it is able to handle the heftier projectile.

Temari grunted, stepped back and threw open the spread of her fan to act as a shield. The first of the shuriken bounced off the tough material. The kunoichi opened the spread of her fan to its full, sweeping up a flurry of leaves as she collected the wind around her person.

A split second later, Temari had a mini-tornado funneling around her. A barrier that covered her on all sides. The remainder of the shuriken are thrown off course. Grinning, the Sand girl killed her defense.

"What now, idiot brother?"

"Don't start feeling clever yet, dear sister."

Kiba's sharp eyes recounted the shuriken.

... four, five, six, seven ... shit, where's the last one?

He looked up.

Jackspider is just completing its mid-air waltz. Kankuro had deliberately held back one of its legs earlier. Now he lets it fly, the last shuriken whizzing straight for his sister's vulnerable forehead.

Temari gasped in surprise. In that split second transition from defense mode, she is immobilized and unable to counterattack.

Kiba couldn't stand it. What the hell is going on? They're brother and sister, aren't they? Kiba fought with Hana all the time at home; but this ... this is different. It looked like Kankuro was actually trying to kill his sister.

Crouched on all fours, Kiba launched himself into the air like a big, furry frog and caught the shuriken square between his teeth. Sailing past Temari, the dog-nin crashed painfully into a tree.

"Aaaaah! Kiba-san! I'll strangle you in your sleep for this, SKUNK-URO!!!"

Temari threw down her fan and dived onto Kiba crooning pointless nothings that are supposed to comfort him.

Aiiiiieeeeee! She's touching me again! Kankuro, help!

Kiba spat the shuriken out of his mouth, his gums bleeding slightly from the impact earlier. Damn six-prong almost broke his teeth. He glanced at the Jackspider as it went back into its dormant state; the eight limbs rolling back into the body.

The doll's thorax houses all sorts of throwing weapons from shuriken to kunai. The limbs act like catapults that can roll in and out of the thorax to reload. With a simple flick of the wrist, Kankuro can get Jackspider to throw a weapon at twice the speed a jounin would be able to throw them, and from eight different angles at the same time. Dangerous little toy there.

"Not bad, dog man," Kankuro said, his expression becoming friendly again. "You got moves. Looks like we gotta be watching our backs around you, eh?"

Strange. Weird.

It creeped Kiba out, his nonchalant attitude. Temari too, fawning over him with a facecloth as if she didn't notice that she almost died a minute ago. These Sand Siblings ... freaks; every last one of them. They should be tied down and beaten; shipped off to Alcatraz and jailed in solitary confinement. Creepy nutcase bastards.

And the creepiest one of them all –

Kiba's ears twitched as the leaves crackled in the branches above him. Flecks of tree bark fell across his nose, causing him to curl and sneeze.

Not bark ... sand.

The dog-nin felt his blood curdle.

What is this now? Euphoria? Anger? Fear? Why is it that this man unleashes such violent emotion within me?

"Subaku no Gaara," Kiba said without looking up, wiping his nose.

Hanging upside down from a branch with that recognizable gourd on his back is Super Creepy Guy Number One.

"Inuzuka ... Kiba ..."

Shino Aburame sat as silent and still as stone, his cheeks flushed in hot red blush. He is nestled in the confines of a prickly bush, with the beautiful Sakura Haruno practically sitting in his lap.

"Shino, stop fidgeting; you're making the bush shake! You should have gone to the bathroom before volunteering for ambush duty; and now it's too late!" she scolded, mistaking his discomfort for nature's oft-untimely call.

But ... But I only volunteered so that Sasuke wouldn't volunteer. Oh yes, my Queen. I will ALWAYS be by your side. I will protect you and care for you like a hive cares for the sisterhood. As surely as the mighty Congalala expels flatulence when angered; so will I bring you relief in moments of sadness. As surely as the Black Widow devours her husband in courtship; a sacrificial offering I shall make of myself to you. As surely as an army of siafu works as one unit; you and I must also –

Sakura turned and socked him in the nose. "Cha! Wake up, you dirty parasite! What's wrong with you? The enemy is coming! Get ready, otherwise I'm going to use you as bait."

She ... She calls me a parasite. Incroyable! Just you wait, Sakura Haruno; you will not escape! My love will swarm you with the ferocity of a locust infestation upon a rice field after a rainfall! My aching heart beats savagely like the vibration of a hornet's backside! Like the roach, these wanton feelings of mine refuse to die! Sakura! What have you done to me!? My pride is shattered like the molted carapace of the hawkeye moth. The nectar to my hummingbird, the blossom to my bumblebee ... someday I will pollinate you!

"Okay, let's go! CHA!!!"

Shino quivered from behind his goggles as he watched the pink-haired girl savagely beat down a stick-wielding shinobi three times her size. What manner of ambush is this!? In many ways, Sakura Haruno is more highlander barbarian than village kunoichi. Shino found that quality to be inexplicably sexy, the supreme polar opposite to his character.

An annoyed Sasuke leaves his now-pointless hiding place and pegged a second nin with a fierce punch-kick combination; finishing by slamming a kunai into the other guy's forehead.

Bloodshed ... just a game for shinobi.

Squad 7 frisks their opponents frantically for a scroll, but found none.

Meanwhile, Shino managed to sober up from his internal ramblings and scanned the forest surrounding. Where is the third guy in their group? That must be the one with the scroll.

Shino's little tracker beetles brought him news ... the Y-shaped tree to the far left had a supply of alien chakra, i.e. chakra that does not belong to tree, i.e. it comes from a foreign object, i.e. that foreign object must be the third shinobi.

Obviously miffed that his two buddies have been KO'd, the third guy is trying to make a getaway without being caught. Shino could tell as his netowork of kikai reported that the alien chakra supply is moving further away.

Uchiha, you bastard! You're standing too close to Sakura! I shall soon send my fattest kikai up your rectum! And you're not paying attention to your surroundings! The enemy is getting away; you stupid stupid stupid shit! What kind of prodigy are you? What does Sakura see in you anyway? You're just a bitch with funny hair, the prince of emolings, and ... and you're short!

The bug-nin was about to order his berserker unit to take down the runaway, when he paused and took another long look at Sakura and Sasuke. She is smiling ... what radiance! But why is she smiling at him!? WHY!?

Forget the blasted kikai.

This is something he had to do himself. He must prove himself superior to that shitty rival male that is distracting his potential queen. This is no longer a chuunin trainee mission. This has become a last-man-standing skirmish for the right to mate! Gwooooorgh!

In an uncharacteristic maneuver, the bug-nin bursts out of the foliage like a wildebeest on crack. The errant nin decided to make a run for it at the exact same moment. Shino's desperation gave him that extra speed kick and he made ground in no time; clocking his foe in the chin with an extended forearm.

One-hit knockout. Bugboy is a pretty big fella after all.

He was so exhilarated he almost lost his composure and jumped for joy. His hand hurt, as he was not accustomed to physically assaulting his opponents, but he didn't care. He had never thought of using brute force in actual missions before. Beating up the bad guy with your own two fists. That boorish unrefined Inuzuka bastard was right! It felt pretty damn good. Makes you feel like the alpha male no doubt.

But his high would disappear instantly when he turned to see that Sakura had taken no notice of his 'manly' exertions. She had eyes for only one man. The Uchiha prodigy continued to stand there with his arms folded, nose slightly tilted to the sky, the perfect picture of the absolute untouchable bitch.

A part of Shino Aburame died that instant, along with another unfortunate kikai in his clenched fist.

Where, o' where has my little dog gone
O' where, o' where can he be

Hinata was going retarded with worry and frustration. That cootie-covered musclehead had gone for far longer than is reasonable and necessary. Where is he now!?

After Naruto and friends pitched up their tents; Azuma's squad pulled into camp with Ino Yamanaka leading the way, screaming about how the whole forest is conspiring to damage her flawless skin.

The powerhouse Suiton (Water-Style) team of Rain Kanasawachi, Yun Long and Kamika Ayuhara found them not long after. Now they just need to wait for Squad 7 to arrive and all of this year's graduating genin will be together again.

Soon, that little patch of forest was bustling with talkative youngsters. It felt more like a camp out than a stakeout; a romp through a wet forest with old friends than a life-or-death chuunin-ranking mission.

It was fun, no doubt about that. Except that someone forgot to tell Hinata. Her high from seeing Naruto lasted all of an hour, then she went back into her little shell, brooding and wondering about Kiba.

O' where, o' where ...

"Alright, so we've all made it," Shikamaru said, taking charge. "Now we've got to wait for Shino to get here. He's the one with the information on which teams have Heaven scrolls. Normally, I would have expected him to be the first to arrive. Guess they ran into some trouble, but it shouldn't be anything Shino and Sasuke can't handle. We'll just set up base camp and get some rest. It's likely that we are going to see a lot of action tonight. Man, this is such a drag ... I've talked long enough. Someone else take over."

The genin broke up into little groups, some pitching up tents, some plucking firewood, the usual suspects like Choji, Naruto and Shikamaru lounging around until Ino yapped at them.

They were so absorbed in their activities that nobody realized Hinata slipping out of camp like a little white ghost.

Kiba-kun! Something must have happened to him!

That had to be the reason. He was angry, yes, and he went for a walk; but he would have come back by now! Certainly, he would have caught everyone's scent or heard their noisy chatter if he wasn't too far away. Thus, it can only mean that he's in trouble. Not wanting to be a burden, Hinata did not think for a moment that she should ask one of the guys to come with her.

No, this is Squad 8's problem. Kiba is her problem. She won't trouble anyone else. She suddenly realized that Haku is missing as well. It worried her deeply.

Kiba and Haku. The two guys that can be thrown into the jungle with only the shirt on their backs and feel right at home. Where could both of them have gone?

Temari, Kankuro and Gaara.

Kiba did not quite know what to make of them. They certainly are very fascinating people. But what is more fascinating is the strange bubbling feeling inside of him.

The Kyuubi wasn't speaking to him right now, but he could not help but feel that the Fox is incredibly restless.

In all these months, Kiba has come to really know his fiery tenant really well. Kyuubi had very consistent mood swings. He was always more content after Kiba had had a filling meal. He got edgy and snappy whenever Kiba practiced Master Kobi's taijutsu (probably still miffed at Kobi's comment about the fire element being "third best".)

And right now, Kiba's chakra felt wild and out of control, like it was going to explode out of him any moment. It came whenever Kiba was in the onrushing heat of battle, usually not so much that Kiba can't hold it down. But right now felt different. It's like Kyuubi is rearing up for the fucking big-ass fight of his life.

Could it have something to do with Mr. Subaku over there? A fellow jinchuuriki. Kiba realized he had no idea what manner of spirit resided in Gaara. Was it the same as Kyuubi? Another Kyuubi perhaps? Are the Kyuubi some kind of race, or is he one of a kind? What other spirit beasts are there, and how dangerous is the one in Gaara?

"Inuzuka ... Kiba ..."

That unnerving gyrating voice again. Dry, rasping and harsh. Like there was sand in his throat.

"What scroll ... have you?"

Kiba shook his head. "Sorry, what?"

"Your scroll ... Heaven ... or Earth?"

The dog-nin cracked a smile. "Hey, you're not supposed to ask. That's not how the game is played. Not that you're going to get my scroll or anything because I don't have it."

Gaara glared at him for a moment, then turned to Kankuro. The puppet master nodded in understanding and unshouldered his backpack. He reached inside, pulled out two scrolls and threw them at Kiba.

The dog-nin caught them and frowned. One Heaven and one Earth.

"Wait a second ... what the hell?"

Gaara turned his back to him like he was ready to go. "You have your scrolls ... Come ... the tower ... is ahead ..."

"Wait, wait, hold it! What's going on here? Why are you giving me this?"

Temari bounced up right beside him and grabbed his arm. "You need one of each to open the door to the tower and you've got them. What are you waiting for? Let's go now!"

"Huh!? What do you mean ... you're giving me these scrolls? So what, are you helping us or something?"

Gaara turned around again. There was a sinister flicker in his eyes, almost a hint of emotion on his otherwise dry zombie visage. "I am helping you ... Stop wasting time and let's go ... or do you not ... want to fight me?"

Kiba's heart skipped a beat at that and he could have sworn Kyuubi is grinning right now, though he didn't know why he thought that.

Do I want to fight Gaara?

The question of the hour. There is an unspoken desire from deep within, something that Kiba never actually realized or asked himself before. But ever since coming back from Suna, he had been training really, really hard. He killed himself pretty much daily with lessons from Kuromaru, Kurenai and Kobi all at once. Tsume or Hana checks his progression every now and then. As if that's not enough, Shino on the rare occasion would request a sparring match.

And for what? Why did he bother trying so hard when he knew he didn't really give a shit about being a great shinobi anyway?

Gaara ... is it because ... of you? Am I pushing my self because subconsciously I knew the day would come; the day I face you in combat? Or could it be ... Kyuubi? Maybe Kyuubi is lonely all these years, finally meeting another one of his kind; is Kyuubi's eagerness in meeting Gaara's bi'juu somehow rubbing off on me because he and I are linked?

Kiba's hands suddenly balled into tight fists. Short bursts of bloody red chakra visibly laced his arms and legs.

WHAT IS THIS FEELING? EUPHORIA? RAGE? FEAR? ... LOVE!!? No, wait, that's just sick ...

Just looking at Gaara standing in front of him, Kiba is starting to lose himself.

"Wasting time ... Inuzuka Kiba ... You cannot escape this fate ... I cannot escape this fate ... A warrior seeks out another warrior ..."

The dog-nin did not blink. It was like he had gone into some kind of trance. "Are we ... warriors?"

"My village created a weapon when I was born ... and so the Leaf has created its weapon with you ... Our fate ... Our path ... We are built for one purpose ... Inuzuka Kiba ..."

Kiba shut his eyes tight. Those words cut him deeply. "Am I ... just a weapon? Is that what they wanted?"

Temari interrupted with a glorious groan of exasperation at this point. "Yeah, yeah, yeah; you are built to kick butt for the rest of your life. I've heard enough about your fated path. Can we go to the tower already? I'm hungry. And make sure you don't hurt him too badly when you fight him, okay; you promised!"

Gaara glared daggers at his sister but said nothing.

The little interlude seemed to break Kiba out of his "trance". He snorted and shook his head. That feeling from before disappeared on the winds.

"What ... wait, I can't go to the tower! Hinata-chan and Haku ..."

Temari pouted big-time at him.

Gaara meanwhile started walking away already. "Friends ... we don't need them ... not us ..."

"What do you mean I don't need them? Regardless, we need to be at the tower together or the proctor won't even let us take the third exam."

Kankuro and Temari (after blowing him a kiss that frightened him) started to leave as well.

"No, you don't! It's okay if you come to the tower by yourself, Kiba-san! From the third exam onwards, you progress as individuals. You no longer work with your teammates, because from here on out it is all about your combat prowess! So long as you have the scrolls, they'll let you in. Just forget the other two; they're just holding you back anyway."

Gaara had already reached the edge of the woods in the distance. "I'll be waiting ... Inuzuka Kiba ..."

He disappeared into the foliage, Kankuro and Temari right behind him.

Kiba was left standing and staring into empty space for a few minutes.

Earth to Kiba. Wake up, kiddo.

Foxy ... can I ask you something?

Oh! Are we on speaking terms again? Shoot, boy.

Just what the hell is up with that guy?

And why would I know? All I know is that your meeting him is no mere coincidence. From the day your mothers gave birth to you two dirty rumps, your meeting was written in the stars. This battle cannot be avoided, Kiba. We will fight him in one life or the next.

And why would that be? Do you have something to do with it? Does Gaara's parasite have something to do with it?

Don't call us parasites. We can feel insulted too, you know. And yes, I'm afraid that it is us, the Many-Tailed Beasts that chart your fate to fight each other. Because that boy is the host of Shukaku.

Shu ... what-ku?

Ichibi no Shukaku, Wraith of Desert's Fury. The ugliest, fattest and most irritating sand raccoon to ever walk the Earth, and ... my perennial archrival. This battle is far bigger than you think, kid. A battle that began many millennia ago; and now ... finally, after so many lifetimes, we can throw down its final curtain.

Wait ... so this isn't about me and Gaara at all?

He is a stranger, is he not? And you cannot explain why you want to fight him so much. We are linked at the chain of the soul, kid. We may have separate, disparate personalities but we are ultimately one being. You and that Suna kid will fight, because Shukaku and I want to. For your sake, be sure you don't get killed. Because that damn raccoon is going to come out swinging, so you'd better bring it! You die; I die.

Now ... Now hold on! I don't like this one bit. My whole life is crap because of some stupid game you're playing with a desert tanuki!? Why, why me!?

Damn pup; this is not a game! I did not make a choice here either. I won't be able to fight at full strength so long as I am tied to you. If I were sealed into any other shinobi by the standard sealing jutsu; I could feed on his emotions and break the lock on my cage when he is in a fix. But you are an Inuzuka! The Life Substitution jutsu your mother used has both our lives literally hanging on a thread. It is not so much a sealing jutsu as it is a medical technique for resuscitating life.

So ... So what you mean is ... you want to fight but can't because it'll kill us both. Life Substitution makes it so that our survival is dependant on each other's wellbeing. You cannot exert your true power because my body won't take it and we will both die.

Like to restate the obvious a lot, don't you, pup? But, yes, that would be the thrust of it.

Hold on ... but, that would mean ...

That I won't be able to materialize on this mortal plain, but Shukaku probably might. Therefore you are the one who is going to fight Shukaku on my behalf. I'll merely be your guide on the sidelines.

The tree branch snapped taut nearly hitting Hinata in the face as she ploughed through the underbrush.

It has been maybe twenty-thirty minutes since she left camp. No sight nor sound; no hide nor hair of Kiba. She may have missed him back somewhere; perhaps he avoided her on purpose, or he took his walk really far.

Or he is in trouble and needs help.

Between the three genin, Hinata is the team's healer. Haku had had more experience from his days as a rogue-nin, but his expertise came more in the knowledge of herbs and medicine brewing. He was not taught the basics of medical ninjutsu; the skills of converting one's own chakra into restoration and life energy. Kiba of course thought pneumonia to be a kind of tasty freshwater fish, but that's another story.

The Hyuuga Heiress paused her search, leaning her shoulder up against a tree trunk to catch her breath and bearings. She didn't want to lose her way from the base camp entirely. So far she had been moving in a pretty straight line ... or had she? This creepy forest can play tricks on you; cause you to think you're going in a straight line when you're actually walking in circles.

Hinata decided she had better move on.

However, something soft and wriggly touched her shoulder then. A soft hissing echoed in her ear. Hinata trembled in fright. She turned her head mechanically to the left to see a little black-and-yellow snake exploring the folds of her jacket; the purple forked tongue darting in and out like lightning.


Hinata let out a ferocious cry. Chunks of bark flew off the tree as the Heiress' wild palm strokes struck true. Agitated, the snake wiggled back the tree disappointed at how uninviting she is. Hinata blushed as she watched it go, rather embarrassed that none of her attacks actually hit it.

Just then, the branches shook. A bony white hand reached out from beyond the thickets of leaves and snatched the snake up by the head.

"Why, my lil' friend ... she didn't ssssscare you, did she?"

Hinata took a step back as a gangly figure dropped out of the treetop and landed with both feet on the ground. A man stood before her; pale pallid skin even paler than hers, long thinning ebony hair he wore down to mid-back, luminescent yellow eyes that seemed to penetrate into the very depths of her soul. The snake from before is coiled around his neck. He reached up to scratch its scaly chin with the nail of his thumb, handling it with the utmost care.

"It hasssss been awhile, hasssssn't it ... princesssss?"

Hinata's eyes glowed.

"Unc ... Unc ... Uncle Rochi!"


Thank you for reading.
Nooo! I didn't mean to do another cliffhanger!
I uploaded the chapter by accident before finishing.
Yes, that's really what happened. Haha.

Jackspider is my idea. More new puppets to come for Kankuro.
True fact: Rain plus Rice plus Locusts equals No More Rice.
Shino is a man very much in love. Give him some room.

Things to look forward next chapter:

Genma hitting on Anko Mitarashi.
Kurenai hitting on Genma.
A certain white-haired dude hits on all the girls in the jungle.
Akamaru Vs Really Big Python!
Haku! Don't you dare die on me! HAKU!!!