Next chapter! The third year of the Academy is over and Naruto and his friends have one year left until they become Genin (unless they surprisingly fail the Genin test). This year starts with the aftermath of Kotaru's (weapons specialist) death and the fourth year of the Academy for Naruto. Also, two OCs will be introduced in the beginning, so don't be confused.


Kingswriter: Well, unless I state otherwise, the Omake does apply to the real story as well. It just happened after Naruto and his friends got back to the village, so I decided to make it an Omake. Thanks for the review.

erokitsune83: That makes sense. Naruto shouldn't be that dense when it comes to making friends, but Nagato never taught Naruto about romantics and such, seeing as he was somehow dense as well. However, I will take what you said into account the next time I see something going on between Naruto and Hinata. (Which is what you hopefully meant) Thanks for the input!

anotamous: I don't think last chapter started as a flashback. I actually made sure to write that it would start at the beginning of the third year. But if you're talking about something else, I'm not sure. Nothing in the last chapter (I think) was a flashback; chapter six was just one year in the future because I wanted to show how everything was going with Gaara. So I thought it would be interesting that we all would know what was happening with Naruto during chapter six. As for Sasori's fight, ya, I meant it to be short. It only takes one hit of Sasori's poison to be down and out, and Akatsuki didn't know that Sasori was an actual puppet! Kotaru thought that he caught Sasori off-guard and that he wouldn't be able to summon a puppet, and I myself would be confused if I stabbed someone in the head and stomach and they didn't die. Thanks for the review! As for your Omake idea, I don't think I can imagine Akatsuki deciding what outfit to wear while making it interesting. The Leader chose it himself, after all.

Rena: Thanks for another review! I look forward to your reviews every time after I finish a chapter. And if someone gives me a bad review or tells me that this story is pathetic, I'm usually waiting for you to make me feel better again! Last chapter was to introduce new characters, yes, and to show what happened with Sasori and Akatsuki. In chapter six I said that their weapons specialist would die, so we needed to show how. I also don't want to skip any years of Naruto's important childhood. Sasori is not as good as a guy as you would think, but you'll find that out further on in the story.

The 8 Tail's Jinchuuriki: Thanks for the idea. I actually did change the summary of the story, so I hope it's better now!

Sashu: Thanks!


Let's Begin!

This chapter starts in a minor flashback of sorts. It takes place before Sasori joined the Akatsuki.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto

Chapter 8: A Treaty of Peace, Part 1



As Sasori walked away from the Mist Village, he allowed himself to smirk. He had escaped the clutches of Akatsuki once more. But what did it matter? Soon, Akatsuki would send another and more powerful member who would be able to subdue him. Just like Kotaru had told him, he would either join Akatsuki, or die.

"Sasori-sensei, where will we be traveling now?"

Sasori turned to his young apprentice who was walking beside him. The twelve-year-old boy had pure black hair that spiked up on his head, and was wearing a black robe similar to the one Sasori was wearing.

"To the Village Hidden in the Clouds. They are about to elect a new Raikage and I wish to go and see him while I have time. It always pays to know how powerful each village leader is. As you know, we will not be able to avoid Akatsuki much longer and I assume that the next member we meet will be the one that makes us join."

Koutetsu nodded as he pulled his hood over his head, just like Sasori. ________________________________________________________________________

Village Hidden in the Clouds

Up in the northern mountains, in the village carefully constructed into the very gigantic rocks themselves, further up and onto a training ground is where an eleven-year-old boy was found punching a log at the most peculiar time.

Almost furiously, the boy continued to rotate between punching and kicking the unfortunate tree stump, never ceasing to push himself harder. It wasn't until he heard someone approaching him did he began to slow down his pace.

"Roku-sama!" a dark-skinned Chunin messenger shouted out to him while running toward him. "Roku-sama!"

The straight silver-haired calm and collected boy turned his head to look at the messenger sent to retrieve him. He had expected someone to come up and find him eventually; after all, it was expected that the heir of the Korochi Clan would attend-

"Roku-sama!" the Chunin cried out once more as he neared the boy. He took a moment to kneel over and catch his breath. "You have to head down to the Raikage's Tower! The ceremony will begin in minutes!! Why on earth would you be training at a time like this?!"

Roku sighed as he turned back to his stump.

"Relax, I'm gonna attend," he responded, beginning once more to kick the log.

The Chunin messenger sweat dropped as he pleaded once more the Roku to come with him. The boy wasn't even dressed properly; he was wearing his usual training attire: a tight black shirt revealing his muscular form, and loose white pants with wooden ninja sandals.

"You have to leave now! If you were to sprint to the Village now you still might be able to catch the beginning!"

Roku, in the middle of performing a roundhouse kick, slammed his foot into the ground, making a pillar of earth to shoot up from underneath the log, causing the wooden object to fly high into the air. While it was soaring up, he flew through several hand-seals, ending on the tiger seal.

Fire Style: Phoenix Flame Jutsu!

Around twenty small fireballs erupted from Roku's mouth, traveling upward towards the log at an impressive speed. The log was burned and beaten in the air, resulting in ashes as it flew onwards in the wind, never returning back to earth.

Earth Style: Earth Swim Jutsu!

Before the Chunin messenger could comment or say something else, Roku held up the half-tiger seal with his right hand before sinking into the earth, disappearing from sight.

The Chunin sighed as he realized his own situation.

"Great, now I'm gonna end up being late…"


Raikage Tower

Despite traveling quickly through the mountain using his technique, Roku still ended up being a little late to the election of the new Kage. Apparently, as Roku entered the area where his Clan was watching, the new leader had already been introduced as the entire village was cheering. Because the Kage tower was built into the side of a mountain, as well as all the other establishments in Kumo, the villagers had to watch from lower wooden platforms. Citizens, who normally lived on lower areas of the mountain which were flatter, were escorted to special areas to watch the ceremony.

As the cheering died down, Roku tapped his parents' shoulders so that they knew he had arrived.

"Oh Roku, dear," his mother said, "wherever have you been?"

Roku sighed at the tone of his mother's voice. His parents were head of the richest clan in Kumo, probably the richest clan in the world. They lived in a gigantic house, more like a palace, and he had been spoiled all of his life. Or at least they tried to spoil him. Roku had always been about hard work, and he preferred to train hard to gain all of his skills, harder than anyone else. While his father was very powerful, he wished to become much more powerful than even him.

Now it was his father's turn to talk to him.

"Roku, you arrived just in time! After the Raikage's speech, make sure you go up and shake his hand."

Roku groaned a little but nodded as he respected his father's wishes.

The Raikage was dark skinned and very muscular. He wore heavy looking golden bracelets on his wrist, and he did seem to be very powerful. Roku also noticed that a younger looking man, the appeared to look just like the Raikage was standing behind him with…seven swords strapped to his back. Strange.

After the ceremony was over, Roku, along with his family, walked up to the Raikage and shook his rather large hand. Roku took a short glance at Kirabi who was standing behind the man, who nodded his head in return, before he returned to his house.



Outside of Roku's house, the silver-haired boy with gleaming pure, seemingly pupil-less, and completely blue eyes sat on his roof and stared at the moon in silence. In a couple of weeks, he would commence his family's tradition to unlock his bloodline, the Kurokugan. A feared bloodline, one of the most powerful of the village, the Kurokugan was just as deadly as Konoha's famous Byakugan.

The Byakugan, also known as the White Eye, or the All-Seeing Eye, gave its user 360 degree vision. It could see everything for miles, well, everything above ground, that is.

The Kurokugan blocked the user's ability to see above ground, though it unlocked a much greater ability at the same time. It allowed the user to see everything touching the ground and underground with 360 degree vision for miles. If a person a mile away were to jump up and down, an expert user would be able to catch the vibrations through the earth and have a perfect visual of what was happening there. Just like the Byakugan, veins would appear next to the person's eyes and they would be able to see the chakra of living creatures.

The Byakugan could see everything looking toward the sun, and the Kurokugan could see everything toward the earth. That's why the last Raikage had thought up the brilliant idea of combining the powers of the Hyuuga and the Korochi. If a user could see both everything above ground and the vibrations below it, they would have eyes greater than the Sharingan! So the Raikage had attempted to abduct a young Hyuuga with still developing powers so that he could combine the genetics in an Orochimaru-worthy experiment with a member of the Korochi Clan.

Roku shook his head at the evil idea; kidnapping to make a clan stronger. Well, hopefully the new Raikage would make better decisions.

Yes, in weeks, Roku would begin the tradition that would activate his bloodline limit. Unlike the Hyuuga, the Korochi had to work to activate their bloodline. The tradition was long and would last for a full year, but the results would be amazing.

At the age of twelve, a member of the Clan was supposed to blindfold themselves for an entire year. He or she would have to learn of to eat, fight and live without vision. This would develop the user's skills to be able to naturally sense other people's chakras and be able to see without eyes. Once an exact year was completed, the blindfold would be removed and once light entered the eyes of the user, the bloodline would activate to block out the sudden sun, since the Kurokugan only allowed the users to see anything that touches the ground.

Roku would master the element of earth this way, and truly become strong. All Korochi had earth chakra elements, and this tradition was a way to increase each user's strength. He could only eagerly anticipate his soon to be power.


Unknown Location

Pain picked up his necessary weapons and belongings, sealing them inside of a scroll, which he then tucked inside his pouch inside his robes. Unlike the rest of the Akatsuki, aside from Hidan, Pain didn't wear a shirt underneath his Akatsuki robes. The black cloak was his shirt, while he wore dark pants with dark shinobi sandals; all Akatsuki members wore the same pants, socks and sandals. His Konoha headband, aside from the scratched metal, was black as well.

"You've changed, Nagato-kun."

Pain sighed as he finished packing his necessary tools and money. He turned around to face a worried looking Konan who was standing behind him.

"We've all changed, Konan-chan. It's no surprise after joining this dark organization."

Konan shook her head in sadness.

"That doesn't matter! You're not the same man you used to be! You're more vicious, and less forgiving! Even your Rinnegan has changed!" she said to him.

Pain nodded his head in understanding. This was all true. Even his Rinnegan had changed. It had evolved into its final form. When activated, there was no white left in his eye. The orange iris completely took over his eye, so that there were only rings around his pupil. While the area around his eye was a darker orange than the rest, there was still no white left. His new Rinnegan had been what made him so powerful as well, even stronger than Sub-Zero.

"Such things don't matter at the moment, Konan. We just have to stay in this organization until Naruto becomes powerful enough to face its leader. Until then, we can protect him and the others from the inside. We cannot talk about this more; I must leave now and search for Sasori. However, the Leader told me to bring another member along with me as a precaution."

"You're not bringing me, are you," Konan sighed in sorrow.

Pain allowed as sigh of unhappiness to come to himself as well.

"No, I will not. There is something special about this Sasori figure. First of all, from Zetsu's report, he claimed that Kotaru was poisoned, which was why Zetsu was unable to…dispose of the body. Sasori is a special puppeteer, and there is no way that he killed Kotaru unless he had some sort of powerful secret. I'm not gonna risk you getting harmed by-"

"Oh here you go again!" Konan interrupted angrily. "Nagato, I'm an S-class ninja now! I'm no longer the helpless Genin that you always treated me like back when we had a sensei and smiles on our faces!"

Pain flinched at the harsh remembrance. The times really had changed. He wondered what Minato-sensei would think of his three students joining Akatsuki…

"I…I know you're strong, Konan. Of course you are…it's just that…I am not strong enough yet…"

Konan stared at him like he was insane.

"How much stronger do you need to be?! And what does that have to do with-"

"I'm not strong enough to protect you from everybody out there!!" Nagato finally burst out yelling. Konan flinched back at the level in his voice and the pain in his eyes. "I'm not strong enough to lose you! I'm not strong enough to tell Itachi that I didn't protect you! I'm not strong enough continue on protecting my brother without you!"

Konan stared in sadness at Nagato as he finished with his statement.

"But you're selfish enough not to care how I would feel if you were the one to die," she quietly finished for him.

He turned his head away from her and let a moment of silence flow into the room. Finally, he walked past her as he headed for his door.

"I'm taking Mangetsu with me. He's the perfect partner for fighting someone like Sasori. I'll be leaving immediately."

Turning the knob, he opened the door and began stepping out when Konan grabbed his shoulder and turned him around.

"There's no point in-"

He was quickly silenced as she reached up on her tip-toes and kissed him on the lips.

When they parted, she looked deep into his orange eyes with black spirals.

"I…I still love Nagato-kun," she whispered to him.

Nagato sighed as he looked into her eyes once more. It had been so long since he had seen her face with his normal eyes; he always kept his Rinnegan activated as a practice in control- so for this one moment he deactivated his eyes and responded:

"I still love you too, and I always will."


Somewhere in River Country

Mangetsu Hozuki, known to the organization as Rain, was currently sitting on a large rock as he waited for his companion to decide which direction they would be traveling. Rain, underneath the Akatsuki robe, was dressed in a black under-amour with a purple vest over it (similar to Sub-Zero's blue one). His hat was placed on the rock next to him as it was not really needed at the moment. His messy black hair grew backwards and he wore a purple mask under his eyes. His headband, which was a Mist Village one, had a slash going right through the center. His ring, which read water, was held on his right hand middle finger.

He looked down impatiently to his partner as he called out to him in his smooth voice,

"I think we should head down to Suna, I'm sure such a large village will have a Jinchuuriki."

Hanzo of the Salamander, who was wearing the ring labeled Salamander, along with a strange water mask on his face with two breathing pipes running up on it, grunted back in response,

"Humph, and fight a Bijuu in the middle of the desert? We should instead look throughout the River Country," he responded in a low and gravely voice.

Rain shrugged his shoulders in acceptance. Both he and his partner specialized in water techniques. Fighting in the desert probably wouldn't be that great of an idea, even if Hanzo could practically create his own sea if he wanted to.

"Good point. So let's get moving-"

"Some one is coming!" Hanzo called out to him, motioning him to prepare.

Suddenly, an orange flash appeared in between them, revealing Pain standing with his arms crossed and orange Rinnegan activated.

Both of the Akatsuki gasped at the sudden arrival of such a ninja.

"Pain-sama," they both said to him, out of respect. No less was required for the second-in-command.

Pain turned his attention up to Rain who was sitting on the rocks.

"I request you to come with me to subdue Sasori Akasuna and recruit him to our ranks. You are ideal for the job, given your special abilities."

Rain snorted back at him.

"I thought you were supposed to be the all-powerful second-in-command?" he said rather mockingly. "Why would you need my help-?"

Rain was cut short as Pain held out his hand and called out,

"Assaku Sousou!"

Pain closed his hand into a fist, and in an instant, the very air around Rain seemed to compress, causing the surprised Akatsuki to explode…

…into water.

Water was splashed all over the large stone. Moments afterwards, the water itself seemed to creep back upwards, forming a sitting human shape on top of rock. It suddenly compressed, revealing a frowning Rain in perfect condition.

"Your Hydration Technique is perfect for hunting down Sasori. And don't forget that I am the all-powerful second in command. Bringing you is just a…precaution."

Rain frowned more on top of the rock. It looked like he didn't really have a choice; he would have to help Pain fight Sasori and catch up with Hanzo later.


Konoha, Hokage Tower, Morning

Sarutobi sighed as a large stack of papers was dropped on his desk by one of the workers of the tower, who fearfully left afterwards. It was early in the morning and he had already been assigned to read through and stamp all of the necessary papers.

He picked up the first file, quickly skimming through it and he stamped it without much else thought. Moving on to the next paper, he repeated the process which would take about another hour or so.


Hour Later


The Sandaime quickly woke up at the sudden loud noise ringing through his room, knocking over all of the papers he had finished before he fell to slumber. Bending over, he reached to pick up…

…all two of his papers.

What?! Two papers?! I was only able to finish two papers! Well, there goes my two minute break.

He sighed as he realized he wouldn't be going home until late. His office practically was his home. In fact-


Hiruzen nearly knocked his papers over again as a Chunin burst into the room, holding some sort of letter in his hand.

"Hokage-sama, there's been-"

The Sandaime interrupted him in annoyance as he put his head into his palm.

"Back in my day, the Academy taught us manners, such as how to eat properly at a table, or how to knock when entering a room. Perhaps I should once more add manners to the curriculum."

The Chunin chuckled sheepishly as he realized that he had forgotten to knock.

"G-Gomen, Hokage-sama,"

Hiruzen sighed as he twirled his wrist, motioning the man to go on. Taking the hint, the Chunin then said,

"A-Ah! There is a man here for you! Kumo has just elected a new Raikage and they have sent their Head Jonin to offer a peace treaty to Konoha!"

"What!" Hiruzen exclaimed in surprise.

It was tradition for a country to send their village's Head Jonin, the strongest Jonin and also elite captain of the Anbu, to offer a treaty of peace to another country to form an alliance. In response, the country would send their Head Jonin back with either a stamp of approval or a rejection.

Moments later, a tall dark-skin muscular man, with blonde hair and a strange hair style came in holding a scroll, as well as a ridiculous amount of swords on his back.

"What's up, Hokage-sama?" the man immediately asked. He fearlessly walked up to the desk, and he slapped the scroll down in front of the man. The sheer force of the impact shook all of the papers placed to the side, actually causing some to fall off.

Hiruzen looked on in surprise at the bold man before and at the scroll as well. Surely enough, the scroll was titled 'peace treaty', and it skimming through some of it, it explained that the new Raikage wished to make an alliance with Konoha.


Half an Hour Later

"So what do you say, Mr. Hokage-sama?" Kirabi asked after they finished discussing the treaty.

The Sandaime stamped the paper and handed the scroll back to Kirabi. He had been surprised at this sudden offer of peace. The past few months, he had been wondering whether or not Kumo would start a war with Konoha. So accepting the alliance was a quick choice. Kumo has a strong military. Even their Genin who show up to the Chunin Exams usually do very well! Not only that, but the Land of Lightning is the only country to have three Jinchuuriki!

Hiruzen shook his head in appreciation. That village seemed to be the only one to truly respect their Jinchuuriki. The entire Village thought of each one as heroes. Hiruzen was surprised to find out that the Head Jonin who was meeting with him, Kirabi, was a Jinchuuriki himself, and the brother of the Raikage! Another Jinchuuriki, host of the Two Tailed Monster Cat was an Anbu captain. Her name was Yugito, and Kirabi had told him that she was very well respected for her talents.

The third Jinchuuriki was only a young man, almost twelve years old now. He was the host of the Seven Tailed Flaming Phoenix. This boy had the potential to be one of the strongest Jinchuuriki, because he was born into the Korochi Clan, and because he had one of the strongest Bijuu, which allowed his host Lava Style jutsu. The boy's name had been Roku, if he remembered correctly.

"I say cheers, to a peaceful treaty and hopes that our two villages will work together well in the future. I will send for my Head Ninja at once, and he will deliver a confirmation treaty back to Kumo."


Naruto's Dojo

Kakashi Hatake faced his students as he prepared to tell them what he had planned. He had gathered them in Naruto's dojo so that they could spar together. Today was Friday, and in the Academy, they would be having their weekly sparring matches, so Kakashi thought that he would have his own sparring matches with the kids before school started.

"Alright, you four know the drill. We are going to be working on our taijutsu and kenjutsu today, so the sparring this morning will only consist of fighting with your fist and your weapons. Pure-charka related attacks still count, so Hinata, you may still use you kaiten, or your empty palm and such."

Hinata smiled while the rest of the combatants groaned. Hinata usually dominated the sparring matches, because of her powerful Jyuuken as well as her chakra techniques.

"So then," Kakashi continued, "the first match will have to be Sasuke versus Hinata."

Sasuke groaned once more as he slowly walked up on the dojo.

"Come on, Kakashi sensei. I'm gonna be sparring with Hinata later today in the Academy anyway, can't we do something different for a change?"

Kakashi frowned thoughtfully.

"Well what do you have in mind, you scared little boy?"

Ignoring the remark, Sasuke responded,

"Uh, how about…we play ninja or something?"

Naruto cheered as he pumped his fist into the air.

"Yeah, that would be great! We haven't played ninja in such a long time, it would be great exercise!"

Hinata nodded her head as well, agreeing with Naruto. Sai also thought that it would be a good idea.

Kakashi sighed as he shook his head.

"You four will be applying to be real ninja at the end of this year! Don't you think that you're all a little too old to be running around, throwing wooden objects at each other?

Naruto shook his head in disagreement.

"No! And we can use our collection of dulled kunai and shuriken so that it'll be more realistic! Come on, it would be so much fun! I mean, we have another two hours until the Academy starts!"

Finally, Kakashi agreed with them.

"I guess it wouldn't hurt. While we're at it, why don't we make teams so that it's even more interesting? The first team to have both of their members hit with the shuriken or kunai loses."

The four nodded and formed their rival teams: Naruto and Hinata versus Sasuke and Sai. Whenever teams were formed, it was these two teams. They had always been fighting to see which team was better; they were bitter rivals.

Now it was Naruto to speak up.

"We will use all of Konoha as our battle grounds. Let's start in three minutes. Since both our teams are it, there's no real need to hide. Jutsu us allowed, though you are only out if you get it with the kunai and shuriken."

Both teams took their share of dulled kunai and shuriken and dashed out of the compound, waiting for Kakashi to give the signal to start.


Rooftop, Minutes Later

Naruto and Hinata hid behind a large vent on top of an apartment building's roof, while they looked to the top of the Hokage's monument, waiting for Kakashi to give the signal. Any minute now, Kakashi would throw his hand down, and the fight would begin.

"Do you remember the plan, Hinata-chan?" Naruto whispered to his friend who was standing next to him.

She quickly nodded her head and activated her Byakugan with one hand-seal, preparing for what was to come. The last time they had fought with these teams, Sasuke and Sai had won. She wouldn't let Naruto-kun down again!

Naruto nodded, almost as if he had read her thoughts, and he closed his eyes for a moment. Pushing chakra into them, when they opened, in place of his normal blue eyes were the golden iris and spirals of the Rinnegan.



Sasuke and Sai hid under a small bridge in Konoha, one that still gave them view of the Hokage monument. Sasuke already had his level two Sharingan activated, and Sai had his chakra ink bottle open and ready to use.

"You got the plan?" Sasuke asked his partner.

Sai nodded, not needing to respond.


Hokage Monument

Kakashi sighed and held his hand up, standing on top of his sensei's head. He hoped that his students wouldn't cause too much trouble, like last time. There was fire everywhere, and the Anbu had to get involved…

He quickly threw his hand down, signaling that wherever the kids were, they could start.

He turned around and started walking away, when he suddenly stopped, his one eye widening.

He turned back to the Hokage monument, and there was an Anbu standing where he just was.

"Kakashi Hatake, the Hokage wishes to speak with you immediately."

With that, the Anbu sunk into the ground disappearing from sight.

Before Kakashi poofed away, he allowed himself to smile under his mask.

I knew that was a cool move to teach!



Naruto and Hinata waited on the rooftop as they spotted a large ink hawk fly into the air on the other side of the village. Thinking quickly, Naruto and Hinata quickly jumped across rooftops so that they could get in attacking range of the two. Sasuke and Sai were in the air, and Naruto had the advantage because of his wind jutsu.

When they were in range, Naruto pumped his legs full of chakra and jumped high into the air. He faced his palms outward towards the oncoming bird and yelled out,

"Wind Release: Cutting Whirlwind Technique!"

A large gust of wind erupted from his palms and spread in the air as the invisible wind blades headed towards the flying duo.

On the hawk, Sai quickly said to Sasuke,

"That technique is too big! It keeps growing! We have to jump!"

Sasuke quickly shook his head.

"No, that's what they want! Go straight down now!"

Sai obeyed the commands and quickly sent his hawk straight down to the ground. The wind technique barely avoided them, but they avoided it unharmed.

On the ground, Hinata saw her opportunity coming to her.

"Water Release: Water Geyser Jutsu!"

Slamming her palms into the ground, her improved technique caused several geysers of water to shoot out of the ground and spiral towards the hawk.

In order to avoid the gushing water, Sai pulled his bird upward again…

Only for the ink creature to be slammed in the face by a falling Naruto who had a Rasengan in his hand.

The creature quickly exploded into ink, and Sasuke and Sai were sent flying to the ground. Mid-air though, Sai formed a one-handed seal and the ink instantly transformed into ink shuriken which fell to the ground towards the unaware Naruto.

Hinata saw the shuriken with her eyes though, and postponed following her enemies so that she could save Naruto. She jumped in the air above Naruto and expertly performed a mid-air kaiten, which defended them from the projectiles.

When she landed, she shared a nod with Naruto, and together they dashed forward to defeat their opponents.

Sasuke and Sai were already making their next move. On the streets grounds now, were there were luckily no people, Sai poured ink into the ground so that his snakes could hold down Naruto or Hinata, so that they would be an easy target to throw a kunai at. They had both started out the fight using jutsu instead of their dulled kunai, and things were heating up. When he finished pouring out ink, he put the cap back on his bottle when-

"Watch out!" Sasuke called out to him.

Pulling out his katana, Sai instinctively deflected the shuriken that Hinata had cleverly thrown at him. Back flipping so that he was now on the side of a building, he threw one of his kunai back at her, which she easily dodged.

Naruto dashed forward with a kunai in his hand and started to fight Sasuke hand-to-hand. The Uchiha was able to dodge Naruto's blows, and Naruto was able to deflect his, so no one was able to gain leverage over the other.

Metal clashed against metal, until Sasuke finally found an opening which he utilized, causing Naruto to have to back flip. When he landed, he was quickly subdued as Sai held up a seal and said,

"Ink Flush Technique!"

A countless number of snakes popped up under Naruto and wrapped around his body, continuously moving and strangling him.

"Crap!" the surprised masked blonde cried out, trying to free himself.

Sasuke smirked and casually tossed a dulled kunai at Naruto's head, hoping to get him out, when-


Hinata's own kunai deflected the one aiming for the immobile Naruto. She quickly shunshined in front of him, eyes blazing, ready to defend her teammate.

Sai and Sasuke both closed in on them, with shuriken in their hands.

"It's over Hinata," Sai said to her. "There's no use in trying to defend Naruto."

Sasuke continued for him.

"You're outnumbered, and I can tell that we trapped the real Naruto," he called out, pointing to his crimson eyes.

"You might as well-" Sasuke stopped mid-sentence as he felt something bounce of his back.

Turning around he saw and heard a kunai fall to the ground, behind him and behind his partner as well.

Two Naruto clones, which were standing on nearby rooftops, laughed before they dispersed themselves, having done their jobs.

Naruto and Hinata smiled to themselves as Sai and Sasuke stared at each other in disbelief and the snakes on Naruto released their hold on him.

Naruto ran up to his teammate, cheering:

"We did it, Hinata-chan!" and also giving her a victory hug.

Finally, Sasuke asked,

"H-How did you make two clones while the snakes were suppressing you?"

Naruto laughed at his friend.

"I didn't!" he responded. "I made them before the battle even started!"

Sai shook his head in disappointment. He should have seen that possibility earlier! While he had been expecting a quick and easy win, the tables turned on him.


Later, Ramen Stand

Later, while the group of friends were eating at the local ramen stand trying to get breakfast in before the Academy and celebrating Naruto and Hinata's victory, their gray-haired sensei poofed out of nowhere behind them.

He sat next to Sasuke and ordered himself a cup of water.

"So how did the game turn out?" he asked, eye-smiling at his students.

Hinata spoke up for everybody.

"Naruto-kun and I won!" she reported, happily eating pork ramen next to Naruto.

Kakashi nodded his head and thanked Ichiraku when he handed him a glass of water.

"Well, everybody listen up; I have exiting news!" he claimed, waiting for everyone's attention. When everybody stopped eating and turned to him, he continued,

"Believe it or not, we're all going on a trip together again!" he said, waiting to see their reactions.

Naruto got up and cheered, excited to be doing something new.

"That's awesome! Where are we going then?" he asked his sensei, already dancing in anticipation.

Kakashi cleared his throat before saying,

"The Land of Lightning, specifically, the Village Hidden in the Clouds."

Naruto stopped dancing and everybody's faces grew solemn at the news.

"Why on earth would we be going to the place that tried to kidnap Hinata and nearly killed all of us in the process?" Naruto asked, thinking his sensei was mad.

Kakashi shrugged his shoulders.

"That's what I told the Hokage at first. Apparently, a new Raikage has been selected and he wishes to make peace with our village after his predecessor tried to attack us. They sent their Head Ninja to offer the peace treaty, and now the Hokage is sending me there to return the signed treaty as tradition. And because I'm the sensei of you four, you all get to be excused from the Academy to come with me."

They all soaked up the information and slowly they grew happy again.

"Well I guess that's good news to hear," Hinata voiced her opinion. "At least we get to see a new village and get out of the Academy for a while. When will we be leaving though?" she asked.

Kakashi nodded his head and patted her on the head, a habit she had thought he had gotten over.

"Great question! The Hokage wants us to leave as soon as we can, so you guys can pack up and get ready and we'll leave this afternoon!"



Pain and Rain sat down on a cliff on one of the mountains close to the village. They had recently seen the new Raikage in several of his speeches, and Pain was impressed.

"His strength rivals that of the legendary Sannin, Tsunade, and he's smart, allying himself with Konoha," he had said.

Rain shrugged the man off as unimportant.

"Who cares? Physical strength means little in a true ninja battle. If he were to fight me and rely on his strength, I would kick his ass."

Pain nodded in agreement. The man was powerful, but he was sure to have some sort of special jutsu as well.

Now, the two Akatsuki were thinking on where Sasori might be in the village.

"Maybe he left now that the Raikage has been announced," Rain threw up into the conversation. "Maybe he only came to Kumo in the first place to see the Raikage."

Pain frowned thoughtfully as he thought about the possibility.

"Yes, Sasori might have been interested in measuring the Raikage's power, just like we have. And that would mean that he would be traveling down the mountain now, heading somewhere else. Perhaps we should investigate this possibility?"


Outside of Kumo, Hours Later

Sasori, inside of Hiruko, walked down the mountain and away from Kumo, alongside his young apprentice, Koutetsu.

"Where are we going now?" his dark haired apprentice asked.

Sasori, in his deep and gravely voice, replied,

"Suna. I have a feeling that we will meet with Akatsuki soon, and when we do, I want the advantage in terrain. There is also a boy there, who has powers that…interest me."

Koutetsu nodded and turned away as he continued walking forward down the trail. His master usually went on these…special trips, where he would seek out a powerful person and face them in battle.

Only when his master won, which he always did, he would turn the body into a human puppet.

The thought of the process of turning a human into a puppet disgusted Koutetsu, but he didn't dare tell this to his sensei. While Sasori had plans of evil in his mind, Koutetsu merely accompanied the puppet because his wished to learn as much as he can from the best.

And Sasori was the best in his trade.

There was no better puppeteer in the world than Sasori. And because Koutetsu was a puppeteer himself, Sasori was the best possible sensei. Where his sensei went, he went. And Koutetsu had a pretty good idea who Sasori was interested in. Koutetsu wished to see the boy as well.


Koutetsu Arc

Years Ago

A five year old boy with dark hair and dark eyes smiled up at his orphanage leader as he nodded his head.

"That's right! I'm gonna be a powerful ninja one day! I'll be so strong, not even the legendary Third Kazekage will be as renowned as me!"

The instructor frowned a little at the mention of Suna's favorite and now lost Kage, but he smiled and said back to the boy,

"That's a great dream! And I think with the right amount of determination you just might be able to do it! You will be able to go to the Academy when you turn eight, so do you think you will go?"

Koutetsu laughed.

"Of course! How else will I become a ninja?"


Three Years Later

Koutetsu, the now eight year old, was now just about to enter the Academy and he was as happy as ever. Even though he didn't have any family, he always managed to smile and have a great time.

Right now, he was in the park with all of his friends. Ever since he turned seven, he had been given his own small apartment to live in, so he could go out and play whenever he wanted to.

He and his friends were playing soccer, and everything was going fine, until suddenly, one kid shouted out,

"Look out, it's the demon!"

Koutetsu was confused and somewhat scared as everyone stopped playing and ran away as fast as they could.

Koutetsu ran as well, not knowing where the demon was. While he was sprinting, he turned around to look as he heard a voice shout out.

"Why does everybody run?! If you want me to be a demon, then I'll be a demon!!!"

A red-haired boy who appeared to be crying held out his hands and sand shout out from the ground to attack the fleeing children.

Koutetsu screamed in shock as the sand grabbed onto his right leg and pulled him out while he was still running. He flipped over and hit the ground hard; pain surging through his body.

But the red-haired boy was not done.

He held out his hands and the sand around Koutetsu's right leg compressed, completely crushing everything below his knee.

Koutetsu cried out in pain as blood spurted everywhere. He screamed for several seconds, and for a moment, he saw a dirty blond haired man block the sand from doing any more damage before he passed out from the pain.


Hospital, the Next Day

When Koutetsu woke up, he stared up at the ceiling as he thought about where he was and why he was in this bed.

Suddenly, the memories of the red-haired boy attacking him flooded into his head. The intense pain that he had felt when the boy had…

Koutetsu stopped mid-thought as he thought about what the boy did. He subconsciously wiggled his toes, and he was surprised to find out that he could only feel the sheets against one of his feet.

He tried sitting up, and after the second attempt, he sat frozen still as he stared at his feet.

Or foot, to correctly phrase it.

Koutetsu only saw one foot. When he looked at his right leg, he only saw down to his knee which was wrapped in bandages.

At that moment, a doctor walked in, noticing that Koutetsu was sitting up and staring at his injury.

"K-Koutetsu-san," he started out, a sad look on his face. "I'm sorry to tell you that we had to amputate your right leg below your knee, due to the severity of the damage. I'm afraid that you will never walk normally again, nor will you ever be able to become a ninja."

Koutetsu's eyes widened as the news hit him hard.


­Days Later, Kazekage's Office

Outside of the door to the Kazekage's office, Koutetsu took a deep breath as he prepared to enter the Kage's room. He was using crutches to walk, and he had had difficulty walking up to the tower.

"Enter," a voice boomed out from inside the room.

Koutetsu followed orders and entered the room as instructed. He saw a middle-aged man in the Kage robes, sitting at the desk.

"What is it that you want, boy?" the man asked with a voice laced in boredom.

Koutetsu swallowed once before he responded,

"Kazekage-sama, I was told that I would no longer be able to become a ninja, due to my…accident," he hissed out the last word.

"But being a ninja is my dream, and I want to know if I will still be able to attend the Academy for their lessons and such. Even with my leg, I will still be able to listen to the lectures, and when it's time for sparring, I could-"

He was interrupted as the Kazekage burst out with uncontrollable and cruel laughter. Koutetsu's eyes narrowed as the man continued to laugh at him.

"You?! Go to the Academy?!" He started laughing once again before he was able to stop.

"You're a cripple! How can you expect to be a ninja when you're not even suited to be a mailman?!?!"

Koutetsu seethed in anger. One moment he had been fine, enjoying life and having fun, and then the next moment, he woke up in the hospital without a leg and without a dream. He tried to control his emotions while he responded to the cruel man's question.

"I can still circulate chakra. I can learn everything about what it takes to be a ninja, I will be able to perform Genjutsu, and I will be able to perform Ninjutsu as well as-"

He was interrupted more as the Kage sobered up and returned to his normal state.

"No. I forbid a cripple such as you from entering the Academy. Now get out of my office before my morals allow me to kick a cripple out with my foot!"

Koutetsu, grinding his teeth, turned around and exited the room.


Days Later, Academy

Koutetsu had managed to climb onto one of the roofs of the Academy, and he was currently watching the students who had just started begin training. His persistent personality did not allow him to give up: he would become a ninja no matter what! And he wouldn't even stop at that! He would become the strongest ninja in the village and prove that even a cripple can become powerful!

Eventually, the students below stopped sparring and moved on to weapons training. Three instructors stood in front of different tables of weapons, and they eventually went worth and divided the group of children, supervising them while they trained with the weapons.

Koutetsu observed each one, but only one interested him. There were a lot of swords and spears and such, but one weapon, which, if he heard correctly, which was called a jouhyou, was a quick long ranged weapon that seemed deadly. Not only that, but since Koutetsu imagined that his mobility would be slacking, he thought that a long-range but quick moving weapon would be great!

A jouhyou (rope dart) was a metal piece attached to a long rope. It could be spun around quickly, used defensively and offensively at the same time.

However, the brown-haired girl who had chosen to practice with the weapon seemed to be scared of it for some reason. She didn't even seem to want to use any weapons, and the instructors were having quite a hard time with the girl.

Shaking his head, he moved on to other students in the area. One boy, who didn't seem to be doing that well, claimed that he didn't need weapons, and he was arguing with his instructor.

"I don't really need to use a sword!" the boy said. "I'm going to be a puppeteer, and I don't even need to move!"

The instructor shook his head in disagreement.

"Even if you become a puppeteer and completely rely on your chakra abilities, you still should be able to have some sort of other skills!"

The argument went on, but Koutetsu was no longer interested. He too busy thinking about what he had just heard.

A type of ninja that doesn't need to rely on moving, only on his chakra abilities?!

What was the word…?

A puppeteer!

Koutetsu crept away from the Academy and back on the ground as he headed to the Suna library to research more about this type of ninja.



For the first time in his life, Koutetsu stepped into the library of Suna to research something. He had never before spent time to look everything up; his life had been about fun and games and he had figured that the Academy would teach him everything he needed to know.

Well not anymore.

He was amazed at how much information was packed in the thousands of scrolls. He traveled to the ninja sections and finally he was able to find a general scroll that was titled: Puppets.

Puppeteers are people who use Kugutsu no Jutsu, Art of the Puppet Technique. This jutsu uses strings of chakra to control puppets like marionettes. Any number of chakra strings can be used to control a puppet, but users with more skill can use fewer strings per puppet. A true master can entirely control a puppet with just one string.

Apart from being used to control marionettes, the chakra strings can be attached to other objects, allowing the user to control, or at the very least disrupt, other things.

This technique has few weaknesses: since the puppeteer uses his or her hands to manipulate the puppets, if the hands are disabled, then the technique could be neutralized. Also, while controlling the doll, the user is wide open if the opponent bypasses the puppet. For this reason, puppeteers avoid battle, relying almost exclusively on their puppets instead.

Koutetsu's eyes widened.

This technique of controlling puppets was perfect! If he couldn't move, then he would be able to make another puppet move for him instead!

But in order to do that, he needed to have great control with chakra. While spying on the Academy, he had learned the very general basics of chakra, but not everything. So Koutetsu decided to spend the rest of the morning and afternoon studying about chakra using different scrolls.



After leaving the library, Koutetsu could honestly say that he had learned and memorized all he could about chakra. For some reason, memorizing a lot of information from scrolls stuck with him so much better than when he heard about it at the Academy.

He smiled to himself; maybe not being able to go to the Academy would turn out to be a good thing! He knew for sure that he would be returning to the library daily to soak up as much information about everything he could find.

Now, he was heading to the puppet warehouse of Suna. Because Suna encouraged ninja to become puppeteers, they had a warehouse of parts that could be used to create a puppet, or basic puppets that students could train with.

The warehouse was very large, and he was surprised to find that there were no people in it. It was just him and an entire warehouse of puppets!

Taking a deep breath and trying to control his excitement, he walked up to a section of the warehouse which specialized in legs.

Suddenly, an idea sparked up in his mind. Perhaps…perhaps he could use one of these puppets leg for his own!

He walked around with his crutches, looking at all different types of puppet legs, trying to find one that would fit his size.

Eventually, he came across one that seemed his size, and he picked it off of the shelf. It was designed for a joint to fit into it, so it had room for his knee to go into it.

He carefully took off the lower part of it, below the knee, and compared it to his own leg, looking at the size.

The puppets leg was just a little too big, but maybe, he could find a way to make it just is size…


Weeks Later

Once more, after spending his morning and afternoon in the library, aside from eating breaks, Koutetsu returned to the warehouse to work on his project. He had woken up this morning extremely exited, because today was the day that he would finish the leg so that it was exactly his size, and so his knee with right into it and so that it stayed on his leg. Not only that, but in order to fully operate and respond to his boy, he needed to use chakra to control it. He wasn't worried about controlling it with chakra though; when he wasn't eating, sleeping, studying at the library, or working at the warehouse, he was practicing his chakra control.

The scroll about the kugutsu no jutsu had said that he could use chakra to control other things besides puppets, so he had been practicing. He started by just getting accustomed to his own chakra; he would sit in his room and just swirl patterns of it inside his body. He this, he went on to more advanced things.

At first, he started really small, like trying to lift up an apple in the air using only a string of chakra from his finger. He quickly mastered this extremely useful technique, to the point where he could compress the chakra so that it would become invisible to the human eye. He was shocked at first when he did this because it seemed that he was making the apple float in the air with his finger!

Then he moved on to even bigger things, like never using his actual hands for things unless absolutely need to. He would open doors with chakra strings, making sure that the chakra was compressed and invisible, and he would eat breakfast with his chakra, and he would grab scrolls and flip pages with chakra and etc. The only time he actually used his hands was for personal hygiene and when he was working on the puppet leg.

He had even gotten to the point where he could use more than one chakra string at a time. He could no use all five fingers to control five strings of chakra, which was great for his progress.

Now, he was at the warehouse staring at his complete leg. There was noting special about it; it was a wooden and basic, but it was what he needed to walk normally again. Never again would he have to use crutches!!

He was also sure that he would have to modify the leg in the future, and probably make new legs all together out of different material like metal, so that his leg would no longer be breakable or a vulnerable point in a battle.

But that would come later. Now, he grabbed the leg, and sat down on the ground, with butterflies in his stomach. He attached the leg to the bottom of his knee on his injured leg. Next, he sent his charka into the leg to see if the special areas of chakra that he had constructed into the leg worked.

Sure enough, the toes were flexible, as well as his ankle and foot. Amazing!

Slowly and carefully, he tried to stand up with two legs for the first time in many weeks, balancing himself with the crutches.

Then, he let go of the crutches, letting them fall to the ground, a part of his past. Balancing himself, he was perfectly able to stand still with his new leg!

Carefully, he slowly took a step forward with his new leg, putting pressure on it and making sure that it didn't collapse…

It didn't!

Then, he took a step with his real foot, coming back to a standing still position. He repeated the process, until he was walking normally.

He did it! He was walking!

He quickened up the pace until he was jogging, and then until he was running at a full sprint around the warehouse, laughing with joy. He did it!


Weeks Later

Now that Koutetsu wasn't working on a leg for himself, he had more time to study at the library and train with chakra. Not only that, but he decided to physically train himself as well, in taijutsu and kenjutsu, and maybe even a little ninjutsu. He would prove everybody wrong! He would become the most powerful ninja without the need of a leg!

Now, he was currently sitting on the roof of the academy, concealed and watching the students train with weapons. He himself was great with shuriken and kunai; throwing both had become natural to him. He didn't know why, but he picked up all of the ninja stuff extremely quickly because he had studied about all of it beforehand.

While the academy students picked up kunai for the first time and tried throwing it at logs, when Koutetsu had first picked up kunai, it was after he had spent a days studying about the techniques required to throw one.

That's why when he first threw one; it was a near bulls-eye. And after he continued practicing with it for a day, he would hit dead center every time, even if his was throwing five kunai at the same time.

He also studied on every weapon that he saw at the academy. He would research the different types of weapons and memorize their forms, and after the Academy was done with for the day, he would go and practice with the weapons by himself, just like the kunai.

Right now it was nearing the end of day for the Academy, and Koutetsu was waiting for everybody to leave. Now that he had his new leg, he could easily drop in and train without anybody questioning him.

Eventually, the instructors told the students to put their weapons back on the tables and to head home for the day. Koutetsu waited an extra ten minutes for everybody, including the instructors, to leave, so that he wouldn't be spotted. When he assumed that it was safe to go down and practice, he got ready to jump down to the grounds when he stopped himself, having spotted someone walking back to the training area.

A girl his age that had short brown hair and brown eyes walked up to the weapons table. She was wearing a yellow scarf despite the warm weather, and had a blue short sleeve shirt on. She was also wearing a short tan skirt.

After a moment of looking at her, Koutetsu recognized the girl to be the one who always had trouble with weapons and was afraid of them. Surely enough, the girl walked up to her jouhyou and picked it up. She then walked over to in front of one of the training logs and started spinning the jouhyou around in a somewhat sloppy manner. When she tried to throw the weapon at the log, it went to the side, completely missing it.

The girl cursed to herself and tried it again, wrapping it up.

Koutetsu shook his head as he noticed how wrong her form was. After a while, he couldn't wait any longer and he jumped down to the ground, silent, so that she didn't notice him.

He walked up to the girl, stopped, and turned around and walked to the weapons table. Looking at all the weapons, he decided to pick his new favorite, similar to the jouhyou, the chain whip. He was surprised that no one used it in the Academy; most kids ran to the katana and the swords instead.

He then walked up to the training log across from hers, so that he wouldn't bother her.

He began spinning his chain whip around, almost professionally, and when he threw it, it whipped into the center of the log, leaving a noticeable chip in it.

At the sound of the whirling noises the chain made and the cracking sound from when it hit the log, the girl turned around to look at the boy her age that seemingly appeared out of nowhere.

Koutetsu wrapped the chain whip back up along his arm and worked on a taijutsu form that went along with the chain whip. He punched and he kicked the air and in the middle of one jump, he slung the chain from out of his arm and began spinning it again. He went through wide sweeping motions, which defended him in all directions, and once more he finished the form by flinging the pointed tip of the chain whip at a log so that it struck dead center, this time so powerfully that the tip actually got stuck in the wood. Koutetsu had to forcefully yank it back so that he could wrap the chain whip up once more.

The girl walked up to him quickly and before he could practice more, she asked him,

"W-Who are you? W-What's your name?"

Koutetsu turned to the girl and with a small smile on his face.

"My name is Koutetsu, what's yours?" he asked.

The girl looked down for a moment, slightly embarrassed.

"Oh, I'm Matsuri. I came here today so that can get better with my jouhyou," she responded. "But you're so good with that chain whip! Do you come here to practice everyday?"

Koutetsu shrugged.

"Only recently. But getting more practice in than anyone else is how I plan to become the greatest."

Matsuri nodded in understanding. Suddenly, a thought popped into her mind.

"Y-You look my age, but I've never seen you in the Academy," she pointed out. She couldn't see that he was using a wooden leg because he had long tan pants and sandals that covered his feet. He was also wearing a black shirt. "Did you graduate already?" she asked him, curious.

Koutetsu shook his head.

"No, I didn't graduate already; although I could probably pass if I take the exam right now. I wasn't allowed to join the academy with the rest of my age group this year," he said looking to the side.

Matsuri seemed a little shocked.

"Why not?!" she asked him, confused at why someone as talented as Koutetsu wasn't allowed into the Academy.

Koutetsu, after frowning thoughtfully for a moment, lifter up his right pant leg, and showed Matsuri that his leg was wooden from the knee down.

She gasped in shock when she saw his leg.

"H-How did it happen," she finally was able to ask him.

At this, Koutetsu's face grew angry.

"I was attacked by a certain…ninja for no reason. My leg was severely injured and the doctors had to amputate it, telling me that I would never walk normally again and that I could never become a ninja. I took matters into my own hands then, and I constructed my own leg, using puppets. I plan to become a puppeteer, and the most powerful ninja in the village."

After saying all this, Koutetsu was surprised as to why he just told this girl his dreams and ambitions. He waited in silence and waited for her to respond.

"Wow," she finally said, in awe, "that's really courageous of you, not to give up! But now that you can walk, why don't you join the Academy?"

Koutetsu shrugged.

"I don't know. The Kazekage has his mind set that a cripple can't be a ninja."

Matsuri angrily shook her head now.

"That's outrageous!! You could still attend to our lessons, and clearly you're better than everybody in our class with weapons, and…"

She stopped and blushed in embarrassment when she realized that she had nearly been screaming in his defense. Koutetsu laughed at her passion and when he was able to control himself, he said,

"I like you, Matsuri. I think you and I are gonna be good friends. I see that you're having some trouble with your jouhyou; would you like me to help you?"

Matsuri blushed a little more at this, but she nodded her head, more than willingly to accept the extra help.


Weeks Later, Morning

For the past few weeks, Koutetsu and Matsuri practiced together after the Academy was over. Both enjoyed the companionship as it made the training easier. It was early morning in Suna now, and the sun was just rising on the horizon. As Koutetsu made his way to the library, he decided to try and take a different route.

He turned down a different street than usual, trying to take a longer route to the library and enjoy the morning. Early morning was Koutetsu's favorite time of day, because only guard ninja were out; everybody else was still sleeping. However, this morning was different. As Koutetsu walked by a different area, he noticed that someone else was awake.

Up on top of a large apartment building rooftop, he sensed the powerful chakra of another person. Curious, he used chakra to run up the side of the building, and then when he reached the top, he was shocked to see…

The red-haired boy sitting at the edge of the building!


Without turning, the boy called out to Koutetsu,

"What do you want? Tell me before I decide to kill you."

Koutetsu's eyes widened and the evil chakra that seemed to be emitting from the boy. After thinking for a moment he responded,

"I only wish to know…what your name is," he asked.

Gaara shook his head and for a moment he was quiet.

"Sabaku no Gaara," he finally said.

Koutetsu nodded and turned away from him, preparing to jump off the apartment building.

"Gaara of the Desert…you were the one to cripple me. I will gain strength and one day I will come to speak with you once more, and when I do, I'll kill you!"

Gaara turned his head to look back at Koutetsu, and the two connected hateful eyes for a moment. Gaara was slightly surprised at the power in Koutetsu's eyes, and then he turned back to face the city.

"And what is your name?" he responded, still in his calm voice.

"Koutetsu Sanfu," Koutetsu answered back.

Gaara nodded his head.

"Very well. Koutetsu, you will try to kill me, but you will fail like all the others, and only then will you realize how powerful I really am. And then I will kill you."

Koutetsu jumped off the apartment building and walked away, this time not toward the library but toward the Kazekage's tower.


Kazekage's Office

The Kazekage was busy dealing with his meddlesome paper when he heard a knock on the door. Annoyed already, he called out,


The door opened, and a dark haired boy walked in. It took a moment for him to recognize that it was the cripple who had asked him if he could join the Academy weeks ago. But then why was he walking…"

"Kazekage-sama," Koutetsu greeted. He really didn't want to talk with the man, but Matsuri convinced him to ask the Kage once more to let him into the Academy. He really didn't want to, but he guessed he could try and ask.

"I want you to reconsider not letting me into the Academy. As you can see, I have found ways to walk again. I am fully mobile; I can run, jump, sprint, kick, anything. I-"

The Kazekage interrupted. Over time, Koutetsu assumed that the man had the personality that allowed him to interrupt a lot, which was fairly annoying.

"You obviously have a weakness," he said. "Let me…show you!"

With that, the man disappeared from the desk, reappearing in the middle of the air, having used a shunshin. He flew toward the surprised boy, and when he landed in front of him, he performed a powerful chakra-enhanced sweep kick, hitting Koutetsu's wooden leg.

The leg snapped in half, and Koutetsu fell to the ground hard. The leg that he had spent weeks making was now broken on the ground, his chakra being disrupted.

The Kazekage stood up, smirking at the boy.

"If I can do that to you now, then an enemy ninja will be able to do that in battle. You would be nothing but a hindrance to your teammates. As long as you don't have a leg, then I'm not going to let you into my Academy," he harshly said.

Koutetsu shook his head in sadness and surprisingly deep hatred that he hadn't felt before.

"Is there nothing I can do to change your mind?" he put up, giving the man a last chance to make up his mind.

The Kazekage shook his head.

"No. My decision is non negotiable. You will not enter the Academy while I am the Kazekage!"

Koutetsu nodded his head in understanding and stood up, standing on one foot.

"Then there is nothing else I have to say to you. Have a good day, Kazekage-sama," he said through closed teeth. He turned around and hopped out of the office, heading back to his house to get his crutches.


Later that Day

"He did what?!" Matsuri nearly screamed at him, after he told her what had happened to his leg and what the Kazekage said to him.

Koutetsu didn't reply as he slowly sat to the ground, still managing to smile at his new friend.

"It's okay though," he reassured her. "I'll make myself stronger than even the Kage, and I'll prove this whole village wrong!

"And I guess until I make myself a new leg or at least a temporary one, I'll just watch you and help you with your training."

Matsuri sighed and her friend. She had no idea how he managed to keep his cool over this situation. How much did it take before he snapped?

She went over and got her jouhyou, and trained with it while Koutetsu helped from the sidelines.


Months Later, Early Morning

Koutetsu walked toward the library once again this morning, though he didn't plan to stay long. He just wished to rent a few jutsu scrolls then leave, because today he had other plans. Months ago, he had tested to see what his primary elemental chakra was, and he was surprised to find out that he was lightning natured, which was very rare to find in Suna. So he planned to go and pick up more jutsu scrolls because he had already mastered the basic ones that he had and he had memorized all of the info he could study about the nature.

It always amazed him how well he could memorize things that he read. He could still recite what chakra was nearly word for word, and he had read about it in a scroll months ago!

Anyway, this morning he planned to go and have breakfast with his best and only friend, Matsuri. The girl had been really kind and nice to him, even helping him when he needed to make a new leg. It seemed that she was almost as interested in puppets and weapons as he was which surprised him. So yesterday while they were relaxing together he invited her to have breakfast with him, she gladly accepted with a blush on her face.

Koutetsu was wearing a tight black t-shirt under a white upper body outfit that covered his neck and covered his arms with sleeves. He was also wearing tan pants which concealed his leg. Koutetsu's new leg was completely modified and better. It was made of a light type of nearly indestructible metal, which wouldn't break under the strain of any element of force. Not only that, but he had added some weapons to it, just like the many other puppets that he had created.

Yes, Koutetsu had moved on to actually making his own puppet. He started off by making a puppet that looked exactly like him in shape. Then he used a special earth jutsu that made sand cover his body and make it seem like he had actual skin on, as well as cloths. The result was amazing! It was a perfect copy of him, like a shadow clone, expect it wouldn't dispel if hit once! The only problem was that Koutetsu had yet to find an efficient way to carry all of his puppets with him, or seal it in scrolls. But he would soon find that out, and when he did, he would be able to make puppet clones!

He had really had fun with the puppet clone that he first created to look like him. Using the earth jutsu, (earth conveniently being his second chakra nature) sand came up and covered the puppets body so that it looked just like Koutetsu. He also decided to name his special puppet. He called it Rasetsu.

Then, Koutetsu walked with the puppet over to Matsuri's apartment building (sadly he had found out before that her parents had died from enemy ninjas with weapons, which was why she had first been so scared to use weapons) and he had hid behind the building.

Activating a jutsu that he had discovered through a scroll in the library, he was able to see everything that the puppet could see, as well as hear everything and speak through the puppets mouth. His chakra strings were compressed and invisible, so that she wouldn't notice them. He had researched and vaguely found a way to be able to control his puppets from a short distance, but he really wanted to find out how to control his puppets from miles away. How great would it be if he could fight a battle using his puppets, and he was safe miles away from the actual battle? There was no known way to do this, but he would find a way, and invent his own technique, making him one of the greatest puppeteers.

Back with Matsuri, she had gone through a normal day with Rasetsu, never noticing that it was only a puppet.

Then, while they were training with weapons at the Academy, the real Koutetsu walked out to say high to Matsuri.

The girl was shocked as to why she was seeing two Koutetsu's at the same time.

Both of them tried to prove that they were real, and then they all had fight, trying to find out who was the imposter.

Fighting with the puppet while he was trying to control it at the same time and make it look believable was pretty hard, but Koutetsu had managed to do it, and make it look like the puppet nearly killed him.

Matsuri had been very upset when she had found out that the imposter was only a puppet. She had been even more shocked though when an exact copy of herself walked up to the puppet Koutetsu. Yes, Koutetsu had thought that it would be funny if he made a puppet and jutsu to look exactly like Matsuri, and it was funny.

The two puppets seemingly walked away together, leaving the real Matsuri to start nagging the real Koutetsu about his mischievous behavior.

Now, Koutetsu wanted to use his puppet clone for different purposes: to test his own power in a fight. It was early in the morning and nobody was awake yet, so Koutetsu returned to the same apartment building that he had encountered Gaara on before.

Sure enough, when he (his puppet) walked up the apartment building, he saw Gaara sitting in the same place on the roof.

"I have returned," Koutetsu said speaking through Rasetsu.

Gaara turned his head around and stood up so that he was facing Rasetsu.

"Oh? And are you going to try and kill me now?" he asked, a mocking and bored tone in his voice.

Koutetsu twitched his finger, causing Rasetsu to shake his head.

"No, not today. I merely wish to test my power against you!" he responded. Rasetsu could use the same jutsu that Koutetsu could, though it was tricky to get the hand seals right. Not only that, but he had specially modified this specific clone so that its 'bones', or puppet joints, were made out of the same metal Koutetsu's leg was made out of. It also had secret weapons hidden in its body.

Gaara shook his head.

"If you're not going to come at me with all you've got, then it will be easy to kill you!"

Rasetsu then swung his arms sideways, and ten kunai appeared floating in the air. Koutetsu made sure that Rasetsu would be able to use chakra as well, so that it was more realistic.

Using chakra strings to hold the kunai, the projectiles flung forward at high speeds and they went straight towards Gaara…

But without even moving, or even blinking, sand flew up at the last moment out of nowhere to shield Gaara.

Gaara smirked and then he held out his hand.

Instantly, sand shot out of the street grounds and quickly enwrapped Rasetsu. Not even lifting the puppet in the air, Gaara closed his fist, saying

"Desert Funeral!"

After several seconds of silence, Gaara looked at his shaking hand which hadn't managed to close completely.

Suddenly, an arm broke free from the sand prison, and well as another arm, and then a leg, and then Rasetsu completely broke free out of the prison. Because he was controlling the puppet with his chakra, his puppet could have insane strength that a human couldn't possible have.

Rasetsu's 'skin' was shattered and sand was falling off of its face. He was bent over slightly so that its arms were hanging down, but its face was still smiling at Gaara, who was no slightly becoming scared. The metal interior of the puppet was partially showing, until the real hidden Koutetsu activated his jutsu and the sand crawled back up on his face.

(A/N: This move in the story will inspire Gaara to come up with his armor of sand later down the line)

A now perfect and completely normal looking Rasetsu stood up straight, seemingly unfazed by the sand.

Gaara was shocked at seeing his first victim to survive the sand burial.

"H-How did you not d-die?" he stuttered out. "W-What are you?"

Rasetsu ignored the question and opened his mouth, seemingly to speak.

Instead, at least thirty senbon needles shot out of his mouth, heading quickly towards Gaara.

Gaara was protected by more sand, however, and he was unhurt by the attack.

Now, Rasetsu's arms clicked sideways for a moment, and two long bladed chain whips fell out of his sleeves.

Spinning them around professionally for a moment, he began attacking Gaara, the bladed whips snapping and swinging and Gaara, causing his sand to go crazy in order to protect the boy.

Hmm Koutetsu thought as he was looking through Rasetsu's eyes. It seems that his sand is always protecting him from my attacks! Maybe I should try a different approach.

Rasetsu called back his whips, which went back into his sleeves, and then he went through several hand-seals before he slammed his palms into the roof.

Gaara saw that the chain whips rocketed out of Koutetsu's sleeves once more, but this time they went into the ground.

Before Gaara could react, chains underneath him appeared and wrapped around him, though once more his sand surrounded him first to protect him.

While Gaara was held captive in his circle of sand, Rasetsu went through several hand-seals and ended on the horse seal.

"Lightning Release: Electromagnetic Murder!"

He then held out his hands towards Gaara and small but quick branches of lightning shot out of his finger tips, quickly headed toward the captive boy.

Unable to dodge, Gaara forced up more sand to defend himself. The frontal sand effectively blocked most of the attack, and Gaara's defensive sand did the rest.

Rasetsu wasn't finished though. Still having the chains coming out of his sleeves, he sent his current of lightningdown through the metal whips.

The lightning traveled through the roofs with the chains and then it went up directly to Gaara, who already had the majority of his sand deflecting the frontal lightning, and when the chains ignited with electricity, the sand surrounding Gaara that was holding them off was penetrated and the chains closed in on Gaara, wrapping around him.

The red-haired boy screamed in pain as the bladed whips cut in to his skin and electricity pulsed threw his body, only for him to burst into sand himself.

Rasetsu stopped the attack and chose the time to pull his chains back into his sleeves.

The real Gaara rose out from the sand stared evilly at the puppet. Before he could say anything, Rasetsu called out,

"This little fight of ours will have to come to an end, for I fear that it will turn into too big of a battle. I also don't wish for you to see any more of my attacks, while if feel like I've already seen most of yours. I will take my leave now, good bye."

With that, Rasetsu threw several smoke bombs on the roof, and when the smoke cleared, both he and Koutetsu were gone.


Later, Streets of Suna

Trying to save time, Koutetsu had quickly gone to the library to pick out a few scrolls, and then he had dashed home and left Rasetsu in his apartment. While he was running, he kept thinking about how he should be able to travel faster. He had yet to be able to master the shunshin, which he was going to work on next along with trying to be able to control his puppets from a farther distance, so he was thinking of a better way to travel.

Maybe I could find a way to travel in a puppet! I'm sure I could move faster if I was using chakra instead of my actual muscles. But then again, maybe I could make a puppet that I could ride on, like a large bird or something!

Now, he walked up to Matsuri's apartment, and knocked on the door.

"Just a moment!" Matsuri's voice called out from inside.

Koutetsu sighed and leaned against the wall of the building, waiting for his friend to come out.

When she did, he was somewhat surprised to see her in a new outfit. She was still wearing her tan skirt, but she was wearing a tank top blue shirt instead, without her scarf.

She walked up to him and appeared to be closely inspecting him.

"You're not Rasetsu, are you?" she asked, looking curiously at him.

"Maybe," Koutetsu teased, pleased that even his best friend couldn't tell the difference between him and his puppet.

"Just to make sure…" Matsuri said to herself, while she stepped closer to Koutetsu. She put a hand on his cheek to make sure that it was real skin.

Koutetsu's face slightly heated up and Matsuri smiled when she felt the real skin.

"Okay, I know it's really you, Koutetsu!" she mocked, "'cause puppets can't blush!"

Koutetsu 'hn'ed and turned around, facing the wall.

"I'm definitely not blushing!" he claimed. "I just had to rush here so that I could make it in time, that's all!"

Matsuri giggled as she grabbed his hand and led him to the stairs of the building, leading to the exit.

"Okay, suuure!" she said, still giggling at him. "So where are you going to take me out to eat?" she asked him, curious as to what his plans were.

Koutetsu shook his head, thinking were she was going with this.

"Hey, don't think of this as a date!" he warned her, shaking his hands in front of her. "And I hope you brought your own money because I'm not paying for you either!"

Matsuri grabbed his arm and gave him her best puppy eyes.

"Ahh, pwease?" she begged him. "The guy is always supposed to pay on the first date!"

Koutetsu rolled his eyes and mumbled as they stepped out onto the streets,

"Geez, I should've used my puppet instead."

"Hey I heard that!" Matsuri chided back.


Streets of Suna

"Um, are you ever gonna tell me where are we going?" Matsuri asked again, walking next to Koutetsu.

"Breakfast," was all Koutetsu said as he continued to walk forward.

Matsuri pouted but didn't ask anything more.

Upon arriving at the restaurant of Koutetsu's choice, Matsuri's eyes went wide with wonder. The restaurant was located in the rich district of Suna. Matsuri, coming from a poor family, and not having much money after her parents died, never went to restaurants such as this one, which looked stunning.

When they entered the restaurant, there was a large waiting room with people sitting down, waiting for their spots. Koutetsu turned to Matsuri and asked her to stay there for a moment. When he walked to the front where there was a fancy looking person with a list, he asked the main waiter, who was letting people in,

"Excuse me sir, where are the best seats in this restaurant?"

The waiter cleared his throat and then he said with a strong rich accent,

"Why, that would have to be the seats on the roof, monsieur."

Koutetsu nodded.

"Well, I would like to take a seat there for two-"

The waiter interrupted him, something that was becoming a peeve to Koutetsu.

"Well, let me see right here…" he said, flipping through his clipboard papers. "Ah! I'm terribly sorry, young sir, but there are no available seats there, as someone rich has already reserved it!"

Koutetsu, thinking quickly, responded.

"Well, what time is their reservation for?"

The man, who was wearing a monocle, said,

"Well, it seems that they plan to eat here in around three hours."

Koutetsu, faking his angry, raised his voice slightly and said,

"What?! Three hours?! I don't believe you!"

The man, somewhat offended, turned his clipboard around and pointed to where it was written.

"You see here, boy?! The clipboard never lies, and clearly it says that there is a reservation for noon!"

Koutetsu quickly scanned the clipboard, more focused on reading the names of the people instead of needing to see proof.

Hmm, reservation for two, Mr. and Mrs. Sarutonfa…

"Fine. I guess I'll just have to come back for lunch then."

With that, he left back to Matsuri, with a big mischievous grin on his face.

Matsuri, seeing that he was up to no good, asked him,

"How long are we supposed to wait? What are you up to?"

Koutetsu grabbed her hand and led her out of the restaurant.

"We actually don't have to wait! Follow my lead!"

When they were outside of the restaurant and out of view, Koutetsu used a henge and transformed himself into a man in his twenties who looked rich. It actually looked like Koutetsu, though he was much older, and richer.

Matsuri stared at him like he was crazy, but he encouraged her.

"Come on! Transform into a lady my age that's my age!"

Matsuri sighed but eventually she formed a hand-seal and henge'd into what she might look like when she was twenty-three.

Koutetsu took a moment to admire the beautiful woman in a fancy kimono and finally he said,

"Wow. You actually look pretty nice, Matsuri!"

She giggled and grabbed his arm and led him back to the restaurant.

"Well now I guess we're on a real date!"

Koutetsu shook his head but smiled as they walked back into the restaurant. They walked up to the fancy waiter once more, and he didn't notice them!

"Excuse me, how may I be of service to you two?" he politely asked.

Koutetsu cleared his throat and in a lower voice, he said,

"I am Mr. Sarutonfa and I believe I made a reservation for two at 12:00, but we had a change of plans and I'm wondering if we can go and eat up there now."

The waiter furiously flipped through his notebook and erased the previous reservation and motioned them to the stairs at the back of the restaurant.

"Of course, Sarutonfa-sama! We'll have waiters for you two right away!"

Koutetsu smiled and nodded, and with Matsuri still giggling and holding on tightly to his arm, they walked to the back of the restaurant and up the stairs to the roof.

The roof of this large and famous restaurant lied above the fifth floor. There was about five tables set up, all which had beautiful views of the village.

Matsuri stared in wonder at the village around her, never before seeing such a good view of it.

When Matsuri and Gaara sat down, they dispelled the henge's and returned to their normal selves. Immediately after, a waiter came up and poured a glass of water for him and Matsuri and set down the menus. Afterwards, the waiter asked Koutetsu,

"Are you two paying together, or separately?" nodding in the direction of Matsuri.

Koutetsu frowned thoughtfully, and Matsuri suddenly realized actually didn't bring any money with her. How could she have forgotten?! How was she going to eat?! How-

Koutetsu interrupted her thoughts as he smiled at the waiter and said,

"Yes, I will be paying for her as well," he stated, picking up his glass of water and sipping it.

Matsuri's face instantly brightened with joy and appreciation as the waiter bowed to her and handed her the menu.


Weeks Later

Koutetsu stood with his arms folded across his chest, staring down the wooden dummy nearly a hundred feet away from him. He was surrounded by three of the wooden enemies, all equally placed apart from him. He closed his eyes and slowly clapped his hands together forming the palm-seal, gathering his chakra. In the past few weeks, Koutetsu had found out a way to seal Rasetsu in a scroll and always carry him around. Now he wanted to test his powers in training, to see how it would feel.

Suddenly, his eyes snapped open and he pulled a scroll out of his ninja pouch. He opened it and spread it through the air so that it unraveled, revealing that it had the kanji of 'seal' on it. Immediately after, his puppet Rasetsu poofed into existence and at insane speeds it flew toward one of the wooden dummies. Before it reached the wooden enemy, its mouth opened and a gas bomb flew out of it, causing purple smoke to cover the area. Twitching his fingers, Koutetsu set is puppet into the smoke to attack the dummy.

When the smoke cleared, it revealed a Rasetsu with two blades coming out of the bottom of his wrists and a dummy that was completely cut up into pieces.

Turing around, Koutetsu then formed a series of quick seals landing on the horse seal.

"Lightening Release: Electrical Explosion!"

He bent his knees and faces his palms together at the side of his waist, his fingertips already sparking with lightning. Converting his chakra into lightning, a ball of electrical energy began growing between his palms until it was about two times the size of a baseball. Then, pushing his palms forward, the electrical ball flew forward at high speeds until it hit the dummy, creating a small explosion of electricity. The wooden dummy, so charged with energy, exploded and electricity branched out reaching ten meters all around the dummy. Not only would this B-ranked lightning technique do damage to one person, but it would explode with electricity and anybody within a ten meter radius of the person or object it would be severely injured or at least hurt.

Turning around to the last dummy, Koutetsu smiled as he prepared his favorite and invented lightning technique. After his fight with Gaara, he thought of how useful it was to send powerful electricity through his metal chains. Using that idea, he created his own technique using the same idea.

He held his right had out toward the wooden dummy, quickly sending his invisible chakra strings out to it. He used all five fingers on the dummy; on chakra string attacked to one arm, another string to the other arm, two strings for both of the legs, and one string on the torso.

Lifting his hand into the air, the dummy was yanked out of the sand and floated up to where Koutetsu's hand was pointing, being pulled by the chakra strings until it stayed stationary about tem meters in the air.

Using his left hand, Koutetsu quickly formed about five one-handed seals that he had researched. With the last one, his right hand sparked with electricity (similar to when Kakashi forms the Chidori) and he grabbed his right wrist with the charged hand.

"Lightning Release: Electric Funeral!"

The lightning from his left hand transferred to his right hand, and it instantly traveled up through the chakra strings to the wooden dummy, causing it to ignite with lightning.

The wooden dummy was continuously electrocuted until, just like the last one, it overcharged and exploded.

Koutetsu smiled as he congradulated himself for mastering the techniques. He had invented his last jutsu, though he did partially steal the idea from Gaara, who had used sand funeral on his puppet, Rasetsu. The idea of immobilizing an opponent with one technique and then using another technique that went with it to finish them off intrigued Koutetsu so, he decided to make his own version of it. Not only that, but he also-

His thought process immediately stopped as he sensed a spike of chakra to his right. Not waiting to be attacked, he reconnected his chakra strings with his left hand to Rasetsu and sent him underground, sending him toward the enemy.

With his right hand he quickly summoned his other puppet, the one that was a copy of Matsuri, who he named Saishi, (A/N: both Matsuri and Saishi mean 'festival') and sent her toward the intruder, who he couldn't see from this distance.

The attacker managed to evade his puppet, and he or she jumped high into the air, so that the sun was behind him or her, causing the intruder to look like a shadow.

Koutetsu wasn't done attacking with Saishi. He twitched one of his fingers, causing a circle on both Saishi's palms to open up, firing senbon at the enemy.

The surprised enemy was hit, though for when the senbons came in contact, the enemy burst into sand which flew away in the breeze.

Koutetsu's eyes widened as he felt the chakra appear behind him. He jumped in the air, performing a back flip to avoid being kicked…

Only to fall to the ground and face plant when he saw who it was.

"Matsuri, what the hell are you attacking me for?!" he yelled at her when he got up.

The brown-haired girl giggled and pulled out her jouhyou.

"Well we got let out of the Academy early today and I thought I would have a friendly sparring match with my best buddy the puppeteer!"

Koutetsu sighed in annoyance.

"I was aiming to kill! You could've got hurt!"

Matsuri only giggled more at this.

"Well then I guess that you weren't good enough to hurt me!"

At this Koutetsu became really annoyed, but he decided not to argue more.

"Anyway, how did you make that sand clone? I didn't know that you knew how to make it!"

Matsuri let her guard down for a moment as she explained.

"I didn't make a sand clone! I have wind chakra, silly!" she reminded him. "I only substituted myself with the sand before you hit!"

Koutetsu nodded.

Suddenly, the sand behind Matsuri burst into the air as Rasetsu appeared out of the ground behind her, putting his arm around her.

"I would have had you eventually," he whispered in her ear, grinning widely. Koutetsu had really wanted to make this puppet look exactly like him; so yes, it could even smile.

Matsuri put her own arm around the puppet.

"Hey! There's my other best buddy, Rasetsu!"

Trying to be funny, she leaned forward, closed her eyes and kissed the puppet on the cheek. However, she froze in the middle of it and her eyes snapped open as she felt…

…real skin!

Her face started turning red as Koutetsu turned his head and looked at her, grinning.

"A real puppeteer should be able to instantly switch with one of his puppets!"

Matsuri continued blushing, though she eventually snapped out of it and took her arm off of Koutetsu, turning away from him, trying to hide her blush.

"H-Hey, that's not fair!" she told him. "You don't deserve a kiss from me yet!"

Koutetsu raised one eyebrow on his face in curiosity.

"Yet?" he asked, still smiling.

Matsuri blushed even more and started walking away.

"Come on, let's just have lunch already, I'm getting hungry!"

Koutetsu rolled his eyes and followed his friend, hungry himself.


Months Later, Koutetsu's House, Night

Koutetsu had turned nine-years-old a while ago, but today was Matsuri's birthday and she would finally be the same age as her best friend.

They had spent the entire day together. Luckily, it was a Saturday so Matsuri didn't have to attend the Academy. They had just finished eating a meal that Koutetsu and Matsuri had fun making together. Since Koutetsu had treated her out to lunch, they had decided to cook something together for dinner. While their teamwork hadn't been that great, it had been a hell of an experience, and Matsuri had had so much fun.

Now, they were lying on Koutetsu's apartment roof, staring at the moon and stars together. Koutetsu had yet to give her his presents, and he was about to give them to her now.

"Matsuri-chan," he said to her, turning away from the sky to look at her.

"Hmm?" she responded, turning to look at him as well. She had been having the greatest day of her life, and she had completing forgotten that he hadn't even given her a present.

"Well, instead of buying something for you, I decided to make a few things for your birthday," he told her, sitting up. Being ever the craftsman, and having a large resource of wood and other tools, (the puppet warehouse), Koutetsu had thought that making something would be better for her.

Now Matsuri also sat up, getting excited.

"Oooh, really!?" she asked, wondering what her had gotten her.

He pulled out a scroll, the one that he had sealed her gifts inside, and laid it out behind him so she couldn't see.

"Don't look now, I want you to be surprised!" he requested, turning to make sure she didn't look.

Matsuri nodded and closed her eyes shut tight, already getting very excited.

He unsealed his gifts, and he presented held the first one out to her.

"Open your eyes now," he whispered to her, waiting to she her reaction.

When she did open her eyes, she was shocked to see her present. In the hands that Koutetsu was holding out was a brand new and masterful looking jouhyou, one that looked much better than her old one she had borrowed from the Academy.

"I wanted you to have your own," Koutetsu explained, "so the local blacksmith helped me make you a new one. It took a while to learn and actually make one, but I think that it turned out fine."

Matsuri was speechless as she thought about how much time he must have spent to make it, and how much it would cost if she were to but it at a store.

"Close your eyes again!" Koutetsu told her, before she could start thanking him.

Another present?! Matsuri felt butterflies in her stomach as she thought about what the next present could possibly be.

"Open your eyes!"

When Matsuri opened her eyes, she was surprised once more to find a simple necklace that was beautiful in her eyes.

The necklace was just a simple string, but on the end of the string was carved wooden shape, in the form of a thin hexagon. On the hexagon there was a kanji strange kanji that Matsuri couldn't recognize.

Before he allowed her to take it, he showed her the best part about the necklace. He pushed it in, and then he twisted it diagonally before doing another twist, resulting in the shape of a heart.

The kanji that she couldn't read before now read 'best friends'. He pushed the top of the heart to the side, revealing a small photo of her and Koutetsu smiling together at the camera.

Tears threatened to burst out f her eyes as she took the present. She pushed it back to the way it had first been before, without Koutetsu's help, and then she placed it around her neck.

"Happy birthday!" Koutetsu said to her, grinning at her. "So what do you think about the necklace. Believe it or not, it was a lot harder to make than the jouhyou. It took me weeks justto be able to plan out how to make it, and then if took me-"

He was sharply cut off as Matsuri pulled him into a big hug, crying into his shoulder.

Koutetsu smiled to himself now as he returned the hug, happy that she liked the gifts and was having a great birthday.


Month Later, Kazekage's Office

The Kazekage of Suna smiled evilly to himself as he politely said goodbye to the daimyo's wife that was leaving his office. The daimyo's wife was a cruel woman in his opinion, which meant a lot, considering that he sacrificed his wife to seal an already controlled demon in his son, purposely making the sealing weak so that the demon would give more powers to Gaara, causing the boy not being able to sleep.

The daimyo wished to adopt a…girl from his village, claiming that they wanted a new child. But he knew better. The only reason they wanted to adopt a girl was so that they could use her as their own personal slave, free of charge.

A clever plan, but cruel none the less.

Oh well, the Kazekage really couldn't give a damn at how cruel other people were. They had offered him a large amount of money, so with a good conscious he was able to sell out a girl on his list that didn't have parents, and who was the age that the wife required.

He had signed over a girl named Matsuri.

It was somewhat of a loss to him, he supposed, because the instructors gave him a report that the girl was by far the top of her class, and she trained harder than anyone else and was deadly with all typed of weapons, especially the jouhyou, but it really didn't matter to him.

It wasn't that big of a loss.

On the other hand, Orochimaru, the Otokage (?) from the new Sound Village had just offered him if he wanted a part in destroying the Leaf Village.

He had accepted.

Speaking of the Leaf Village, the Hokage would be visiting his village in a couple of weeks to on an annual trip to discuss terms of their treaty and other things. That would be interesting…


Matsuri's House, That Night

When Matsuri opened her letter that she had found in the mail, she had been expecting another prank letter from Koutetsu, but instead, she had found it was…

An order from the Kazekage.

She was assigned an 'S-Class Mission'.

She was going to be adopted by a daimyo.

And she wouldn't be able to see Koutetsu…again…ever.

Her first reaction was to start crying. And cry she did. It wasn't until minutes later that she had the reason to go and tell Koutetsu what was going to happen.


Koutetsu' House

Instead of screaming, like Matsuri had expected Koutetsu to do, he sat down on his couch after hearing the news lost in thought.

Matsuri sat on the couch next to him and cried herself to sleep as a single tear rolled down Koutetsu's face, his shaking hand still clutching onto Matsuri's letter.

Tomorrow at noon, he would lose his best friend.


Next Morning

Matsuri had slept on Koutetsu that night, and when they woke up together, she started crying again.

He had stayed up late last night, only getting about an hour of sleep, thinking about what was going to happen.

It was just like when he lost his leg; one moment, everything is okay, and the next moment, your life is changed.

One moment, he was planning to tell Matsuri that he had fallen in love with her, and that he liked her much more than a best friend. The next moment, she had to leave him.

He had laughed bitterly as he thought how cruel his life was going to be.

When she had started crying again in the morning, he had held on tightly to her hand.

"Shh," he whispered to her, trying to get her to stop. "Everything is going to turn out all right, Matsuri."

She shook her head not believing him.

"I don't want to leave you!" she cried, completely miserable. "I don't want to!"

Koutetsu sighed.

"I know. I don't want to leave you, but it's the Kazekage's orders. Please listen Matsuri! I know that you will have to leave soon, but until then, let's enjoy the time we have together!"

She gripped on to his hand tighter and she pulled him into a hug.

"Everything will turn out all right, Matsuri. I won't let go of you until we have to."



In the front of the village, Matsuri and Koutetsu stood on a nearby roof as they prepared to depart. True to his word, Koutetsu had been holding on to her hand since morning. In the few moments they had together before they had to part, they had been silent, just enjoying each other's company. They could see the wife of the daimyo and the Kazekage standing at the front of the village.

Suddenly, Matsuri turned away from the front of the village, and she faced Koutetsu with a pleading look on her face.

"I-I change my mind!" she said, trying to keep her voice down so that the Kazekage wouldn't see them. "I don't want to go with that lady. Let's…let's run away together!" she whispered, looking deep into his eyes.

Running away.

Koutetsu had thought about that option, he had thought about where they would go, and what they would do if they left. Not much seemed good, there was no way…

He stopped his thought as he looked into her pleading eyes. They were begging him to say yes.

What could he do? How could he possibly betray his best friend and let her leave him.

With a cold resolve in his eyes, he looked at Matsuri and said,

"I have a plan,"



The Kazekage grinned evilly as he saw Koutetsu and a miserable looking Matsuri walking toward him, holding hands.

Before they approached them, he saw them hug, with Koutetsu whispering a few things in her ear. The girl nodded her head and wiped her tears away trying to be strong.

With that, Matsuri approached the Kazekage and the daimyo's wife.

"Good! I'm glad to see that you made it, Matsuri!" the evil man said, pretending to be friendly.

Matsuri gave a fake smile back at him and walked next to the lady.

"Hello, darling, I'm the daimyo's wife, but you may call me Madame Matsurama."

Matsuri nodded.

After a few words together with the Kazekage, a carriage pulled up next to the entrance and Madame Matsurama stepped into it, motioning for Matsuri to do the same.

Matsuri took one last sad glance at Koutetsu, and she stepped into the carriage. The doors closed and the carriage rode off.

The Kazekage laughed cruelly as he saw her ride off and he saw Koutetsu run way.

What he didn't see was the shadow clone that the real Koutetsu had made, the one hiding on the roof, controlling both Rasetsu and Saishi with a grin on his face.



The real Koutetsu and Matsuri were standing on Koutetsu's apartment building roof, already having packed everything Matsuri needed and also everything Koutetsu needed.

"A-Are you sure this is going to work?" Matsuri asked him nervously, continuously looking behind her. "Once the Kazekage finds out about this, he's gonna send Anbu after us, and-"

"Relax," Koutetsu interrupted. "I've been working on this things for while now. I've tried it out and I've fixed the problems."

Matsuri nodded and tried to calm down, taking a deep breath. She could feel every heart beat pulsing through her body.

Koutetsu pulled out a special scroll, and when he sealed it, at large wooden hawk appeared on the roof before them.

There were two seats, one closest to the wooden bird's neck and one behind.

"Take a seat," Koutetsu told her.

She nodded her head and sat down in the seat in the back.

Koutetsu then sat in the front seat, taking his own deep breath to calm him down. Using all ten fingers for precaution, he connected the strings in all the right places.

His thumbs and his pinkies started moving up and down, and then, the bird's wings did the same. Using other fingers, he made the hawk stand up and walk over the edge of the building.

Matsuri was clearly nervous, and he was as well.

Turning around to her, he had to speak louder to be heard over the loud sound of the flapping waves.

"We're gonna fly out of here together Matsuri! Away from Suna! We'll never come back! It'll be just the two of us! I won't let them take you!"

Matsuri was now crying tears of joy as she hugged Koutetsu from behind. They shared eye contact for a moment, and then the hawk crouched down, wings high in the air.

Then, with a gush of wind swung down from the wings, the bird jumped off of the building floating in the air.

The bird quickly fell to the ground, but Koutetsu was able to pull it up in time. Using its wings to flap, the bird gained height.

With the borders of Suna in sight, both of the runaways' confidence grew. Freedom…

Soaring on the wings of the hawk, they made it past the border, but suddenly…

The hawk was pulled back and started shaking.

Looking behind him, Koutetsu's eyes widened in shock when he saw a large and long hand made of sand coming out of the desert floor, holding on to the end of his puppet.

Looking farther back, Koutetsu saw somebody standing on the border, holding up their hand to the puppet.


The red-haired boy threw his hand to the ground, and knowing what came next, Koutetsu quickly grabbed Matsuri and jumped high into the air.

The arm of sand then threw the puppet hawk to the ground, throwing up a large pile of sand into the air.

Meanwhile, Matsuri and Koutetsu landed on the sand, freaking out about what was going to happen next.

When the sand cloud cleared, Koutetsu looked up to Gaara and cried out,

"Gaara of the Desert! Whatever is between you and me, let it go now! Leave us be!"

Gaara, still holding an emotion-less face, walking closer to the two.

"The Kazekage warned me to watch you and see if you tried to escape with a girl at noon. He told me to capture the girl, and bring her to him."

Koutetsu's eyes widened again as his brain went on overdrive trying to find out what he could do.

Running away in a desert…it was suicide! The desert was Gaara's playground; he would easily be able to defeat them!


Suddenly, Matsuri screamed and he turned over to her to see what was happening.

Sand was covering her legs, and Gaara was holding his hand out once more.


Before Koutetsu could grab her, she was yanked to the ground and quickly dragged toward Gaara. When she reached him, she was held in a floating prison of sand next to him.

With that, Gaara turned around and began walking away.

Koutetsu, with fury in his eyes, dashed toward the two, but before he could cover any distance, Gaara turned around and with a swing of his hand, a giant wave propelled toward Koutetsu, knocking him painfully to the ground.


Koutetsu woke up in the middle of the desert, quickly jumping up and dashing toward the entrance of Suna, forgetting about his hawk puppet.

He jumped across the border of Suna, and he hurriedly sprinted to the front.

When he made it, he saw the Kazekage, Gaara, and Matsuri standing once more in the front with the same lady from before. The Kazekage seemed to be apologizing to the lady for the inconvenience.

When Koutetsu ran up to the group, he ignored the warning of the Kazekage and the evil glare Gaara was giving him, and ran straight up to Matsuri, grabbing her in an embrace.

She cried into him for the last time, and he held her with tears in his own eyes.

Eventually, the lady stepped into the carriage again and the Kazekage ordered Matsuri to follow her.

Koutetsu pulled his face back so that he could look Matsuri in the eyes for a moment.

"Matsuri…" he said, noticing the deep fear and sadness that was pulsing through her eyes, "I'm going to come for you! I'm going to grow strong, and then I will run away from this village and save you! Because…I love you Matsuri!"

Before he could kiss her, the Kazekage grabbed her and threw her into the carriage, slamming the door on her.

Before the carriage rolled away, Koutetsu was able to see her face through the window, mouthing the words…

I love you too.


One Year Later, Suna

Koutetsu had at first thought that he would have been banished from Suna, after trying to run away with Matsuri. But the Kazekage wouldn't even allow him that pleasure. The evil man had realized that staying in Suna without Matsuri was more of a punishment than leaving. He couldn't become a ninja, and Matsuri wasn't there to be with him…

This place was hell.

Now, Koutetsu was ten-years-old, and he believed that he had acquired all he could from this terrible village. He had created more of his own puppets, at least one for every situation. He had invented a way to be able to control a puppet from more than a mile away. He had also invented a series of very small puppets, the size of the bugs renowned in the Aburame Clan, and he had made his very own special poison.

What had really interested him was his research of a very special puppeteer, one by the name of Sasori Akasuna. The man who created human puppets and was banished from Suna. He was an S-ranked ninja, the top of his league. Koutetsu would seek him out, and he would become his sensei.


He would eventually kill that bastard.

The boy had ruined his life. He had first crippled him. Then he had stopped him and Matsuri from escaping together and having their 'happy ever after'.

The Kazekage…

He would die as well.

Koutetsu was at least at the level of a Jonin now, but he was still not strong enough to kill the Kage. That is why he would seek out Sasori.

Right now, he was walking down the streets of Suna in the evening. He passed the flower shop, and decided to stop in.

When he entered, he was greeted by the silver-haired girl…who was Gaara's new friend. After Konoha had stopped by to Suna, a silver-haired girl who Koutetsu had never seen before appeared in the village and seemingly befriended the demon.

"Welcome to our flower shop!" the girl called out. "My name is Kairi, is there anything I can help you with?"

Koutetsu shook his head.

"No thank you. I would just like to pick out something myself."

He walked around for about thirty minutes, observing the different types of flowers, and testing himself on which he knew could be used for poison.

"Excuse me," Kairi said to him. "But, the shop is closing now. Is there anything you would like to buy?"

Koutetsu picked up a red rose and brought it to the counter. He paid the correct for it and then began walking out of the shop.

Kairi locked up the shop, and headed out behind him. Before she could start walking back to Gaara's house though, Koutetsu told her.

"Oh, make sure when you see Gaara to tell him that his best buddy Koutetsu says 'hi'."

Kairi stopped and turned around, surprised to find out that the stranger knew that she lived with Gaara.

But the boy was…gone.

Gaara's Apartment

Gaara's eyes widened when Kairi told him the message.

"Kairi," he warned her, with a very serious and worried tone in his voice. "It is very important that you run away if you ever see that guy again, understood?"

Kairi was confused.

"Why would I run away?"

"Before I met you…I wasn't the nicest guy around," he explained. "I made a lot of enemies, and many people hated me-"

"But it's not you're fault that they hated you, right?" she asked.

Gaara shook his head.

"This guy has every reason to hate me. And he even said that he would kill me eventually."

Kairi was shocked.

"Why would he want to kill you?"

Gaara looked to the side, guilty.

"Because I crushed his right leg, prohibiting him from being a ninja…and I took his best friend away from him."

Kairi was shocked to hear this.

"Well, why don't you go and say sorry before it's too late?"

"I…I don't think he would accept my apology."


Koutetsu's Apartment

When Koutetsu got home, he greeted his best friend.

"Matsuri, I'm home!" he bitterly called out. "And I got something for you!"

Twitching his fingers, Saishi, the puppet of Matsuri walked out of the kitchen and smiled at him.

"I…I got you a rose, my love," Koutetsu told her, putting the rose in a case on the table.

The puppet smiled at him and gave him a hug.

"I love you, Matsuri," Koutetsu sadly told his puppet, giving her a small kiss on the lips.

"And you and I will be together again, soon."


Months Later

"Are you ready," a gravely voice called out to him, from the darkness in the streets.

Koutetsu smiled bitterly and pulled his dark hood over his face.


The two cloaked puppeteers then walked out of the Sand Village together, leaving behind them two dead guards and a village full of misery.


End of Arc

Twelve-year-old Koutetsu was walking away from the Village Hidden in the Clouds with his sensei. The puppet master had promised that he would eventually allow Koutetsu to retrieve his best friend, but that moment had yet to come.

Koutetsu had truly grown powerful with Sasori. He had as much potential as his master had when he was his age; why else would Sasori agree to train him? He knew that he was stronger than Gaara right now. The time would come for him to have his revenge and to save his friend.

Suddenly, Sasori stopped and held his hand out in front of Koutetsu.

"That puddle of water shouldn't be here…it hasn't rained recently, has it?"

Koutetsu nodded as he observed the puddle ten meters in front of them. Suddenly, the puddle started moving and the water began crawling up, forming the shape of a human.

Then, the water solidified and turned into an actual human, wearing a black robe with red clouds.

"Is this Akatsuki?" Koutetsu asked his sensei, forming his fighting stance.

"Yes. Be prepared to fight."

Rain smiled as he looked at his two opponents.

"Good, good! I'm glad that capturing you wouldn't be easy! But Pain, I didn't know that this guy has an apprentice!"

In an orange flash, another robed Akatsuki appeared next to the first. This one had strange orange eyes that matched his hair, with spirals in them.

"Yes, that is interesting. But I believe that the Leader would accept the boy as an Akatsuki trainee."

Sasori interrupted their casual conversation.

"I assume that you two are stronger than the last man sent to kill me, correct?"

Rain laughed at him.

"Of course! You have no idea! This guy has several jutsu that could kill all of us in one move, that's how strong he is!" he said, pointing at Pain.

Pain ignored the compliment and asked Sasori,

"If you fight us, you will lose. Knowing this, do you wish to come to our organization peacefully or come with us beaten up, on the verge of death?" Pain asked, emotionless.

Sasori chuckled.

"We'll come with a fight, of course. Why would I join an organization if everyone is weaker than me, anyway?"

Pain nodded.

"Very well. I will show you the power of the Rinnegan!"



A/N: Well, I planned to cover the entire trip of Naruto going to Kumo, but this chapter is already over 55 pages on word, and I've never seen chapters this big anyway. So I split the chapter in two, making this the first part. The second part will come out soon; I'm already working on it.

Does anybody remember back in chapter 5 when I talked about Matsuri? Read this:

The two Kages that were in the office were now sitting and chatting lightly because their business had been finished. The Kazekage was talking about how he just signed an adoption form from a daimyo.

"Which child did the daimyo end up choosing?" Sarutobi asked, not really interested however.

The Kazekage took a sip of his tea as he replied. "A young orphan girl by the name of Matsuri. About three weeks ago they left to-"

I wrote that small part there, more focused on Gaara then, but now you know the story of what happened to her.

Anyway, no power levels or Omake for this part, but I have one planned out for part two. Next part will be covering the trip to Kumo for Naruto as well as where I left off at chapter six. That's right, I will be finishing off what's happening to Gaara who is about to face Orochimaru and Kimimaro!

Thank you to all who reviewed put me in their favorites or alert lists! I hope you enjoyed the chapter!