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The trembling of the ground shook the nerves in his legs and arms, so much so, that his skin felt numb. He broke into a cold sweat, fearing for the lives of his only family left. Were they trapped in there? They could be.

Oh Ra, no.

Then again, they could have escaped once that blond bomber had started the fireworks. They could have…

…his fingers twitched.

He shouldn't be thinking like that.

They. Are. Alive.

Malik narrowed his lavender eyes at his foe, knowing that he'd have no chance in hell against a ninja; much less one he knew was an enemy of Suna and felt confident enough to storm the massive village with only two people. But there could have been many more, just not seen.

How did they get in anyway?

There was no time for questions and the blond shook his head to shake the fear and confusion off.

Chakra. He knew that was what ninja possessed to allow them their abilities but… he didn't have chakra.

Did he?

It wasn't possible.

He didn't know if it was in the genes or something but Malik knew well enough that he and his family was not native to the ninja regions. So, therefore, he couldn't.

"You're mistaken," he said softly, his lips dry and he hurriedly licked them. The hidden sun's heat still blared on him hard and he wiped his forehead in retaliation.

His foe merely withdrew his tail. "Then what is it that I sense?"

"How would I know? The Suna ninja couldn't sense anything either!" Malik knew he shouldn't be yelling at the creature who'd have the power to snap him in half at the flick of his fingers but he was hysterical. He was scared shitless for many reasons but the harming of his family topped everything else.

He'd kill that blond bomber if he survived. If.

"I don't like that tone."

Malik growled, his hair rising. "I don't like being kept from—"

The tail swung at him again sloppily, as if testing his reflexes. The plan worked and the platinum blond rolled to the side, the sand scorching his back. However, his foe's next move was quicker and precise.

The wooden tail curled under his stomach and yanked him to its owner's direction. Malik landed on the ground with a grunt, his nerves sparking and temporarily disorienting him. His back to his foe, he twirled around in anger, intending to give him a punch even though he knew it would do his foe no harm, only to himself. But he was angry.

"What does it mean?"

His punch ended mid strike as the tail curled around his arm. Malik narrowed his eyes.

"I tire of your silence. What do your markings mean?"

The Pharaoh's secrets. There's no way a ninja would know of it or have any use for it.


"Nothing that would benefit you."

His foe paused. "That would be for me to decide."

Malik was going to retort but found that none of his limbs were obeying him. He watched wide eyed as blue strings came visible to him and realisation hit him.

This ninja was a puppet master, just like Kankuro.

Only scarier.

The boy swallowed. "Would you let me go if I told you?"

The sun was beginning to break on the horizon as his foe thought over his words but his answer was clear-cut nonetheless. "I will. If you defeat me."

The air caught in Malik's breath. "Are you insane?" A silly question, he thought to himself. All ninja were insane. "You're a ninja! How do you expect me to defeat you?"

"Your chakra."

Malik felt like crying in frustration and his arms and legs were beginning to get tired. "I don't have chakra, I already said so!"

"I'm not patient and your childish whining is grating."

The platinum blond bit back the urge to retort to the insult. He could feel the skin on his lip burst and blood trickle into his mouth and seep beneath his teeth to dribble over his chin. His arms were shaking with fear and anger that he was sure he'd soon collapse.

"I don't know how to fight," he replied calmly, though his voice shook. If only I had my rod. Curses!

His foe paused, contemplating. "We can help you tap it."


"I don't have any chakra! Get that through your skull already!"

He felt the strings circling his arm tighten considerably, making him wince and groan in pain. He dropped his head back.

"You're in no position to insult me, boy."

"I don't. Want. Power," Malik bit out through clenched and bloody teeth. Or do I?

It scared the Egyptian to hear a startling cackle reverberating in his mind.

He had changed. He had changed lots since Battle City but the thought of power…

He didn't need it and he certainly didn't want it.

Then why was there a lingering ache in his chest and burst of excitement when his foe spoke of more power. It hurt Malik to know, and realise, that no matter how much he'd change, his power-starved former self still longed for it.

He had to tame it. No matter the cost.


The strings curled around his arms and pulled them behind his back, tying them together. The ones on his feet were released, much to Malik's semi-relief.

What was his foe doing?

"What are you doing?" he voiced his thoughts.

"Sasori! Thought you'd be waiting outside, hmmph."

Malik narrowed his eyes as the familiar blond flittered to the ground and felt rage suddenly boil in his blood when he saw the Kazekage's cloth dangling from the mouth of the bird. So the brat was defeated?

He hated ninja.

"Why are you taking him?"

The Egyptian did a double take. "What?"

Sasori didn't reply, only turned and began entering the trench that was the entrance to Suna. Malik was forced to follow him, with the blond trailing along beside him, looking at him curiously. It took all of the tanned man's will power not to scream at the boy.

The platinum blond felt like retching when he caught sight of the crimson bodies littered everywhere long the trench and metallic smell of blood that was splattered across the sand in sheens. He gagged, his throat contracting as uneasiness settled in the pit of his stomach and began to stir. He felt himself break out into a cold sweat—which half relieved him considering it was insanely hot—and then begin to slightly shake.

These ninja were in an entirely different class.

He tore his eyes from the corpses before closing them shut, preferring just to smell the blood than also see the bodies that went along with it. His toes suddenly caught under the torso of the body and he yelped to himself, dancing over corpse, ignoring the way the bloody sand beneath his soles squished in between his toes.

Malik's whole reaction went unnoticed by the other two—or rather, unremarked. The Egyptian knew that they knew but didn't give a shit about him.

"Kisame would be interested in his chakra," was the eventual, half-assed reply up front and the blond seemed to accept it, though he did raise an eyebrow.

"What's so special 'bout it, hmm?"

"I won't bother explaining if you can't feel it."

Malik scowled. They're obviously seeing something that I can't. Did the Suna ninja feel it too? Did they lie to us? But they can't—they did not act like it. Sensing someone staring at him, he snapped his lavender eyes in the general direction. He met eyes of blue that were peering at him from under rather thick lashes and showed vast amount of curiosity.

"What's that art on your back, hm?" the blond asked. Malik instantly scowled, sharply turning his head in the opposite direction so star at the glittering sand.

It was hardly art. It only served to remind him of his past he'd sooner prefer to forget than recall over and over again. He rarely took his shirt off even in Egypt and only did so at night, because of the privacy; now it was exposed to the whole damn world.

He shuddered as he felt the curious and marvelling gaze of Deidara's eyes on his back and winced.

"Hmm. Too bad it's more like Sasori's style; everlasting."

Everlasting. You have no idea, Malik groaned. He was beginning to feel the scorching hot sand under his feet; he had built up a slight resistance to it back home but even then he wore sandals almost all the time… and he wasn't being captured by a bunch of loony ninja.

Sasori's strings on his wrist suddenly tightened considerably, earning a sharp, surprised gasp from Malik. The platinum blond briefly pondered whether he should reprimand the thing-that-talks but his opportunity to rant at him was cut off by unmistakable yell from behind.


Hope fluttered in his chest at the familiar voice. That's Kankuro! He whirled around, the wire catching on his skin and pulling him back instantly. Or rather, Sasori was reeling him in closer to the pair; Malik stumbled as he was forced to move and winced when he felt a particularly sharp tug on his wrist.

Slowing to a halt, the blonde moved his hand around a bit, trying to get them to relax just like before—as much as possible at least.

The sand terrain was silent save for the violent whooshing of the clay birds flapping wings. Malik glanced at the creature, feeling his chest jolt at seeing the Kazekage's uniform. He did not care for the brat, no, but… the kid was Kankuro's younger brother.

His family.

He felt rage flood him and he glared heatedly at both Deidara and Sasori before settling on the latter. He doubted he could harm him just by glaring—if only the phrase 'Death Glare' would be true—but somehow, just feeling anger pointed towards him, made Malik feel just a little bit better.

Sasori matched his gaze and the Egyptian quietly gasped at seeing no sheen of light in those eyes. They were looking at him, he was sure, but there was no life in him. He looked hollow… like a puppet.

"Return Gaara to me!" Kankuro shouted. "And Malik while you're at it!"

Relief mingled with rage in his tanned body; he was included in the rescue but no doubt he didn't hold a candle to the importance of the Kage. He didn't care. He just wanted freedom to go see Ishizu and Odion; to see if they are alive.

"Deidara… go on ahead," Sasori said, before gesturing with his head in Malik's direction. "And take the brat with you."

A silent conversation passed between the two before Sasori suddenly looked in Kankuro's direction, catching sight of the Sand ninja preparing to attack. Malik watched, knowing just a little of what he was doing as he unrolled three scrolls along the sand and made a seal. Smoke sprouted, hiding Kankuro's figure from view.

The blond glanced at Deidara and Sasori's faces, wanting to see their reaction. The latter, as usual, was indifferent, while the other merely raised an eyebrow.

It all happened in an instant.

As soon as the puffy smoke cleared, three massive puppets took the stage and Malik suddenly found himself lifted into the air and onto the clay bird before he had the chance to blink.

"Right! I'll head on, hmm" Deidara's voice came from above.

Blinking, Malik looked up, surprised to see the defined chin and jaw of the blond, his fringe whipping against his neck. He didn't have a chance to object as his new surface rumbled and hovered a little further of the ground and he wondered how he was managing to remain perfectly firm on the slanted back.

The Egyptian knew as soon as he saw the black and red cloaked arm wrapped around his waist and pressing him tightly against the clay bird.

Now he knew.

"Let go of me!" he shouted in Deidara's ears, throwing his still bound arms in the air and twisting from side to side.

"You're a pain," Deidara grunted as he pressed two fingers to Malik's neck.

"Pa—!" His struggle was short-lived.

The last thing he saw before he promptly collapsed onto the clay bird was Kankuro and Sasori preparing to fight.