Four Years Later
"Impressive results as usual," remarked the Kazekage.
"Thanks." A young red headed child accepted the compliment with a shrug. He has small black circles beneath his eyes and his mouth was curved into an arrogant smirk. He had standard Suna attire on, although slightly more red. However, if one looks more closely, a leather belt can be seen around his waist with twelve seals engraved on it. On his sleeves and grey pants were countless storage and other unique seals.
"You are finally taking the Chunin exams this year, right?"
"I see. I still don't understand why you were insistent on waiting till now for your promotion, but I can't say it was a bad choice. This Chunin exam… might be special."
Gaara raised an eyebrow at this. Did he make contact with Orochimaru already? While their economy wasn't nearly as prosperous as Konoha, it has been going up steadily. "Be careful."
The Kazekage was shocked. Why did Gaara tell him to be careful? Does he know about the Hidden Sound? Impossible. "Don't worry. I'm strong you know. Go along now, you just returned from your mission. Rest until tomorrow."
"Hai." Gaara turned to leave. Just before he left though, he placed a small kunai with an intricate seal on it. "Channel some chakra into that if you ever need me." With that, he disappeared in a swirl of sand.
Gaara was worried. It has been a while since he's been to Konoha, but it's still a village he loved dearly. If possible, he wanted to save the Sandaime's life this time around. If he could make sure the Hidden Sand doesn't participate in the war, there is no way the Sound could take down Konoha. Hopefully, he could do whatever he can to prevent the alliance.
Dazed in his thoughts, he didn't realize he walked toward the training ground he usually uses. On it, Temari was already practicing her wind techniques and obliterating the practice dummies.
Going for the flashy entrance, Gaara appeared in a swirl of sand next to Temari. "Yo!"
"Argh! Don't do that Gaara. Can't you just walk up to people like any normal person would?" Temari said angrily.
"It's more fun like this though," whined Gaara.
"Cheh. So why are you here? Didn't you just come back from a mission? I don't even want to know what solo missions father sends you on."
"I just kind of wandered here. I didn't have a specific reason. I could spar with you if you want though. Maybe help you tinker out that new technique you are working on."
"Sure. No using your sand though. Only wind manipulation," added Temari cautiously. The last time she sparred with no restriction, Gaara kept tripping her with his sand manipulation. Fighting Gaara in the desert was just plain unfair.
"No problem! You'll still lose regardless," Gaara smirked.
Fuuton: Kamaitachi no Jutsu (Sickle Weasel Technique)
Temari blew a huge gust of wind straight at Gaara before he had a chance to react. As expected, a wall of sand came up to protect him automatically.
"You lose," declared Temari while pointing at the wall of sand. "You broke the rules already."
"That wasn't fair! You know that shield is automatic," whined Gaara. "Rematch."
"Fine, fine." Temari readied her fan and held it with both her hands. "Let's do this." With a swing of her fan, a huge gust of wind blew straight toward Gaara, lifting up sand and dirt into the air in its path.
Fuuton: Fuugekitai Kabe [Wind Release: Wind Repel Wall]
Gaara stomped his right foot in front of him while holding onto a ram hand seal. A spherical wall of wind surrounded him, protecting him from the gust of wind Temari sent. Being forced to not let his automatic defense activate was a really big handicap. He couldn't even let the smallest attack get through.
Temari, seeing the shield holding up against her initial strike did not let up her attacks. She held her large fan further behind her back and prepared her strongest attacks. It was one Gaara hasn't seen her use yet, so it may be enough to catch him off guard for a bit. It was a technique that combines both the cutting aspect of wind and the push strong wind produces.
Fuuton: Daikamaitachi no Jutsu [Wind Release: Great Cutting Whirlwind Technique]
Gaara barely had any time to react when he saw a huge swirl of wind flying at him. His wind style defensive jutsu could slow this attack down, but not stop it completely before it reaches the range of his automatic defense. To produce his own wind attack would likely cause a backlash that would once again cause his sand to protect him. What's worse, there's been restriction placed on this match that only wind techniques could be used so no regular Earth Techniques. Seeing he was without options, he decided he might as well try out a new technique he had been working on. He had most of the details worked out, except the amount of chakra it required. It was a variation of a technique that was used to make projectiles move faster but creating a tunnel of wind around it. The only difference in his technique was that it's a tunnel of wind enough for him to fit in.
Temari barely blinked before she realized Gaara had dodged her attack completely unscathed and was standing next to her. "How?"
"It's a new technique I've been working on. It's similar to Fuuton: Kaze no Tsuuro [Wind Release: Wind Passage], except I make the tunnel bigger. It eliminates air resistance and even gives a nice wind boost from behind my back. I don't really have a name for it yet seeing it's still incomplete."
"Could you teach it to me?" Temari's eyes went completely wide at the explanation.
"Mmm, maybe when I finish it. You see, it takes a lot of chakra even for me. An entire tunnel needs to be made the size of your body. You probably won't even get close to the amount of chakra you need to make your own tunnel. Try losing some pounds first, it might help you out when I finish the technique," said Gaara while waving his hand dismissively.
A tick mark appeared on Temari's face as she heard the last bit of the explanation. She was about to smack Gaara with her fan, only to find a swirl of sand in his stead.
Gaara slowly walked back to his apartment after he left Temari. Soon it will be time for him to visit Konoha again. He wondered how the rookie nine were doing. Most importantly, how was Naruto doing? Would he be how he was from years ago? Or would circumstances change him into something else. He had no clue how the Kyuubi's Jinchuuriki was doing. Heck, Suna doesn't even know about the existence of the human sacrifice, although they do have suspicions. Either way, it would be interesting to see himself from another point of view. For this week, he decided to let the technique that keeps him awake at night go inactive. Any extra strength he could garner might prove useful.
The Next Day
"This is a C-Rank mission. I need you to deliver this message to our northern outpost near the border of wind and river country. Take Temari and Kankuro with you. Baki will be your team leader. I already told him to meet you guys in four hours by the gate. The Chunin exams are two weeks away and you may go straight to Konoha afterwards. Be sure to pack everything you need. Here are some proofs of identification for when you enter Konoha." The Kazekage hands Gaara two envelopes, one with the mission and the other with their paperwork to Konoha.
"Thank you. Don't hesitate to call me if you need help, father," said Gaara before disappearing in a swirl of sand.
The Kazekage blinked his eyes a couple of times. It has been a while since Gaara called him father. What has compelled him to do so? While he definitely loved his son, their relationships were strained at best. Heck, his relation with his whole family has been strained. Ever since Karura died, he never really made any attempt to connect with his children. He clutched the kunai Gaara gave him in his hand. He had no doubt that it would be useful one day.
Scene ChangeKankuro and Temari were conveniently both at home. Kankuro was on his worktable, tinkering with some new poison and puppet parts. Temari was watching television while sucking popcorn up into her mouth through wind manipulation.
Gaara, deciding to sneak up on his siblings again, slip through the windows and shouted, "Oi, Kankuro! Temari!"
Surprisingly, neither of them moved an inch or even acknowledged Gaara. Deciding to bait them some more, Gaara said "Kankuro! Kankuro-niisan! Aniki! Temari! Nee-chan! Fatty!"
Temari couldn't keep up with their act anymore screamed in fury "What do you want, brat?"
"Finally! I thought you two were in a genjutsu or something. You weren't answering me when I first came in."
"We were ignoring you. Did you get that? I-G-N-O-R-I-N-G you," said Kankuro. His eyes never left his worktable.
"Cheh, jerks. I got a mission from dad earlier. All three of us are a team, with Baki as team leader. We have to deliver a message to the northern outpost and then head straight to Konoha afterwards for the Chunin exams. Make sure to pack everything you need."
"We are going to the Chunin exams? Yes! I am so going to pass. That stingy old woman won't let me touch her poisons because I'm still a Genin." Kankuro eyes went into a daze. "Ah, I can see it now. Poison senbon in the mouth, poison knives on all the joints, poison gas in every compartment…"
"Oi, you still there?"
Snapping back to reality, Kankuro faced Gaara. "Hey, could you make me more of those fireproof seals again? I'm running out and they are too expensive at the store. I'll need tons of them for when I become a Chunin."
"Sure, you know the usual deal," said Gaara.
"Yeah, yeah. A week of chores for every seal I ask you to make. How come you don't make Temari do chores?" asked Kankuro.
"It's a pity award. She still hasn't made Chunin yet even though she's so old. She failed two tests already." Gaara cupped his hands at Kankuro's ear. He didn't really make much of an attempt to hide his voice though.
"Gaara," Temari said sweetly. "How many times have I told you, IT WASN'T MY FAULT? How would I know I get stuck with some wussy teammates that decided to bailout during the written portion of the test. I dare you to talk about this again." Temari emitted an aura similar to killing intent, but different in fundamental ways. She had no intention to kill her siblings, but she wanted to torture them in every way possible. She didn't see it as something wrong, it was justice.
Gaara took this as a cue to leave and said "I'll see you guys by the gate in a couple of hours. Bye!" He never bothered to shut the window.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid…" murmured Temari.
"Are you guys ready?" asked Baki.
"Hai," chorused the Sand siblings.
The four ninja's dashed off through the sand toward the outpost. It was always nice to travel out of Wind country. While everybody in Suna was accustomed to the desert, the rivers in River country were always appreciated. The forests in Konoha were even better. The trip to the outpost probably only several hours of nonstop dashing to a day's worth of travel at the most. After that, it's another day's travel to get to the border of fire country and one more day to Konoha. Normally, it takes about three days to go from Suna to Konoha at ninja pace and about two weeks at civilian's speed.
At the moment, the team was traveling at high speed and should arrive at the outpost before sundown. They could always get shelter for the night at the outpost and it was definitely way better than camping out in the desert.
Scene Change – Konoha
Naruto and his team had just returned from a disastrous C rank turned A rank mission in the Land of the Waves. A simple bodyguard mission turned into a battle to the death with one of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist.
"Can't we get a higher ranked mission already? If I have to catch that stupid cat one more time, I swear I will tear it apart along. Right, Akamaru?" A small white dog hidden in the boy's hood barked in agreement.
"I agree as well," said Naruto. Hinata blushed a little but never made any sound.
"Do you guys know what you are asking for?" asked Iruka. "Fresh genin like you should…"
"I also believe my team is ready for a simple C rank mission," interrupted Kurenai. She had been getting sick of doing D rank mission all the time as well and wouldn't mind a change in pace. Besides, it's not like C rank missions were that much more dangerous than D rank. They are basically D rank missions done outside the village.
"I see… If your jounin-sensei believes you are ready, I can allow your team to do a simple C rank escort mission," said Sarutobi. A drunken old man walked in as he continued. "This is Tazuna and he has requested us to take him back to the Land of the Waves."
The mission started out abnormally to begin with. Rather than the bandits that Tazuna needed protection from, C rank missing-nin attacked the group after only a day's worth of travel. The demon brothers were easily dispatched of, but the real trouble began as the team got closer to Waves.
"Zabuza Momochi, Demon of the Hidden Mist," said Kurenai.
"Oh, ho. Yuuhi Kurenai, the Genjutsu Mistress of Konoha," replied Zabuza. Both were obviously familiar with the Bingo Books. "What's this? Konoha sent a team of genin out on this mission? You brats should just go home and take off your hiate. The real world has no use for wannabe ninjas like you." He leaked out a little killing intent to make his point. "I'll tell you what, if you hand me Tazuna, I'll let you all go free."
"All three of you, stay back. This is an enemy you cannot handle," ordered Kurenai. She took up a defensive stance as well.
"Do you really think you can beat me? Woman, you may be strong, but you are out of your league." Kurenai never budged or took her eyes off him. "Well, fine by me."
Kirigakure no Jutsu (Hidden Mist Technique)
"Eight points." Zabuza's voice resounded throughout the mist. "The larynx, spine, lungs, liver, jugular, vein, collarbone, kidney, heart. All of these are vital organs that could result in your death." As he said this, he blasted his killing intent all the way to unnerve his opponents event more.
Hinata almost choked at the pressure of the situation. It might be better to end it all herself. Anything to get out of this horrid feeling. She pulled out a kunai and starting shaking rapidly. She was about to end it all when a hand was placed on her shoulder.
"Don't worry. I'll protect you," said Naruto. "Activate your Byakugan."
Hinata, silently thanked Naruto while activating her clan's prized eyes. Just in time too as she yelled "Sensei, behind you!"
Kurenai heard her student's voice and quickly leapt out of the way as a massive sword cleaved the earth in half from where she was standing. She went through several hand seals and started to cast a couple layers of illusions on top of herself. It won't hide her completely from a master like Zabuza, but it should hopefully delay him enough for her to think of a plan. It was impossible for her to cast an illusion when she can't even see her opponent.
"Wow. You have a Hyuuga with you. Main branch at that. Maybe I should thank you for not running away. The head of the heir must fetch a pretty coin."
Fuuton: Daitoppa (Wind Release, Great Breakthrough)
A huge gust of wind blew through the field, thinning out the mist. It was useless, however, as the mist started to thicken once more before returning to its normal state.
"Ha ha. Did you really think that would work? Your weak wind techniques can't do anything to my mist," said Zabuza.
"You know, for the master of Silent Killing, you sure talk a lot," said Naruto.
"You're right," whispered Zabuza, right behind Naruto's ear. He quickly spun around with kunai in hand to deflect the blow, but was sent flying backwards due to the force.
"That was pretty good, brat. You've got some nice reflexes. You would've end up as a good ninja in the future. It's a shame you must die here though."
"I wouldn't be so sure about that," said Kurenai. Tree roots started to grow and wrap around Zabuza, and Kurenai – with a kunai in hand- grew in a tree behind Zabuza. "Give up."
"Ha! Woman, didn't I tell you that you were out of your league?"
Kurenai's eyes widen as she heard that. She quickly slashed through Zabuza's throat; however, rather than blood, water started gushing out of the wound. "Water clone…" But if that was a clone, where is the real Zabuza? Her eyes widened as she heard Kiba.
Kiba spun in a drill like motion and slammed into Zabuza's sword, pushing him back a little. "Ha! You don't scare us. My mom is scarier than you." He pointed at Zabuza with his chest held up high. Although, the wet stand on his pants betray his confidence. "Let's go Akamaru." He through a food pill at Akamaru and yelled out his clan's technique.Jūjin Bunshin (Beast-Human Clone)
Kiba's features grew more feral and wild-like while Akamaru transformed into a perfect replica of Kiba.Gatsuga! (Dual Piercing Fang) This time, both Kiba and Akamaru started spinning at high speeds and headed toward Zabuza's chest. They were no match for the Zabuza though as he brought his sword down into a slashing motion while coating his swing with chakra. Kiba was sent flying back with a huge gash across his body. Kurenai could smell the blood in the air and knew Kiba was either in critical condition or dead. She was helpless though in this mist and couldn't find Zabuza. Hinata was still too scared to do enough with her eyes. Naruto… where was Naruto? A big vacuum appeared in the center of the mist, sucking everything into it. Kurenai and Zabuza had to apply chakra on their foot to avoid being sucked into it. The mist, however, was completely gone leaving a clear view for everybody. "Sorry, that technique took me longer than I thought it would." Naruto immediately jumped over to Kiba, stopping the bleeding the best he could for now. He needed more time to completely stabilize Kiba, but at least he could prevent him from dying before they drive Zabuza off. Kurenai immediately casted an three layered illusion on Zabuza before he could target either Tazuna or her students. Luckily, the swordsman wasn't very good at dispelling illusions ( a weakness many ninjas share) and allowed time for Kurenai to kill him. Just before she landed the finishing blow, however, a couple of senbons landed on his neck, knocking him to the ground.
This time, both Kiba and Akamaru started spinning at high speeds and headed toward Zabuza's chest. They were no match for the Zabuza though as he brought his sword down into a slashing motion while coating his swing with chakra. Kiba was sent flying back with a huge gash across his body.
Kurenai could smell the blood in the air and knew Kiba was either in critical condition or dead. She was helpless though in this mist and couldn't find Zabuza. Hinata was still too scared to do enough with her eyes. Naruto… where was Naruto?Fuuton: Daishinkuu (Wind Release: Great Vacuum)
A big vacuum appeared in the center of the mist, sucking everything into it. Kurenai and Zabuza had to apply chakra on their foot to avoid being sucked into it. The mist, however, was completely gone leaving a clear view for everybody.
"Sorry, that technique took me longer than I thought it would." Naruto immediately jumped over to Kiba, stopping the bleeding the best he could for now. He needed more time to completely stabilize Kiba, but at least he could prevent him from dying before they drive Zabuza off. Kurenai immediately casted an three layered illusion on Zabuza before he could target either Tazuna or her students. Luckily, the swordsman wasn't very good at dispelling illusions ( a weakness many ninjas share) and allowed time for Kurenai to kill him. Just before she landed the finishing blow, however, a couple of senbons landed on his neck, knocking him to the ground.
"I thank you for your assistance. I have been chasing Zabuza Momochi for the past month now. It was thanks to you and your students that I could finally kill him," said the hunter-nin. "I shall take my leave now."
"Wait," said Kurenai. "Won't you dispose his body here and now?"
The hunter-nin cursed under his breath at the woman's intelligence. He had to quickly summon an ice wall to deflect incoming shurikens before Shunshining away.
The group later went back to Tazuna's house in the waves. The backup that Kurenai requested for after defeating the demon brothers arrived and helped dispatch Zabuza later on. At the moment, they were reporting to the Hokage about their mission success.
"I see. Good job Team eight. Zabuza's bounty will be distributed between the dispatch team and yours. The shares will be determined through rank as nobody landed the killing blow. That is all. You may all take the rest of the day off," said Hiruzen Sarutobi.
"Thank you, Hokage-sama," said Kurenai. "Alright, let's go team. I'll treat you all some food."
"Yes! You're the best, sensei." Kiba pumped his fist up into the air.
"Thank you," mumbled Hinata while poking her index fingers together.
The Hokage decided to cut in at this point before Naruto said anything. "Actually, Kurenai, could you and the rest of your team go eat first? I have something I want to discuss with Naruto."
"Hai," replied Kurenai. She promptly left with Kiba and Hinata following behind her.
The aged leader turned his head back toward Naruto again. His tone turned a little gentler as he faced the child. "How have you been lately?"
"Everything has been going well. My teammates are all good ninjas."
"I see." Sarutobi closed his eyes in deep thought. "Kurenai has already nominated your team for the Chunin exam. I have no doubt she plans on informing all three of you later today. I know for sure you will pass the test. And when you do, come back to me and I'll tell you a secret I've withheld from you the past twelve years."
Naruto didn't know what the secret was, but he had a pretty good guess. "I won't disappoint you, Hokage-sama."
"You may go."
"Hai." Naruto disappeared in a traditional Konoha Shunshin.
"That boy, he is growing up so fast…" murmured Sarutobi.
Team eight met later that day at a barbeque store owned by the Akimichi clan. Coincidentally, team ten was eating there as well.
"Yo, Naruto!" A plump boy said while plopping a piece of meat into his mouth.
"Hey, Chouji," replied Naruto.
"Do you guys want to sit with us? There's plenty of room here," offered Asuma. It would also be nice if there was another jounin to split the bill with. He felt bad doing this to Kurenai, but she's got plenty of money after the bounty from Zabuza.
"That's fine with me. How about you guys?" Kurenai turned around, asking the rest of her team for their opinions.
"I'm ok with anything," said Hinata.
"Same here," agreed Naruto.
Kiba had already sat down with team ten and started eating.
"Well, I guess we are all in agreement."
Everybody sat down and broke off into smaller conversations with each other. Ino gossiped with Hinata a little, Chouji and Kiba ate relentlessly. Shikamaru and Naruto both had a bored expression on their face, but their chopsticks never stopped moving either. Kurenai somehow got closer and closer to Asuma as the time passed, but never did anything that would embarrass herself in front of her students. It was when everybody finally finished eating, the instructors spoke up.
"I actually have something to tell you guys," said Asuma,
"Me too." Kurenai knows that Asuma had nominated his team as well for the Chunin exam and they were both about to inform their students. "You see, the Chunin exams are a little less than two weeks away. Both Asuma and I nominated you guys to take this test. Now, I will tell you all right now that it is not uncommon for deaths to occur during the exams. You will be fighting each other and genins from other countries. Although this exam should be relatively safer because this exam will be hosted here in Konoha."
Hinata looked a little unsure with herself. Shikamaru and Naruto still had a bored expression as they either knew or figured out they will be in the exams. Kiba just pumped his hands into the air.
"Yosha! I'm going to be a Chunin. Than my sister can't …" Kiba stopped when he saw everybody was staring at him.
"Anyways, I'd like to remind all of you that this is your own decision. If you don't want to participate, you do not have to. You all have two weeks to think about this. We will not be doing any missions above D rank during this time period to allow you to train a little more." Asuma had to suppress an urge to pull out a cigarette.
Hinata spoke up this time. "What do these exams test you on?"
"The exams are different every year. Although, there is always a tournament at the end of the exam after all the unfit candidates are fished out. You don't have to win the tournament, but the more skills you can show off, the better your chances at the promotion," answered Kurenai.
As there seemed to be no more questions, Asuma spoke up, "Ok. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask Kurenai or me. I'll see my team tomorrow at nine. I have to go now." Asuma picked up the bill and placed some money beneath it. He quickly walked out afterwards.
The rest of the group talked a little longer before everybody started departing, one by one. Kurenai was the last to leave, and just before she left, she noticed Asuma only left half the payment. "Stingy idiot," Kurenai mumbled under her breath.
Scene Change- 3 days later
Gaara and the group arrived at Konoha that day. At the gate, two Chunin said, "Halt, state your name and purpose in Konoha."
Baki stepped forward for the team and handed their verifications for the Chunins to examine. "I am the jounin sensei for Team Baki and we are here to participate in the Chunin exams."
"I see. These verifications are legitimate. You folks are here a little early though. The Chunin exams won't start for another ten days. But, you are welcome here and can find some lodgings two streets down on your right. Enjoy your visit." The Chunin with a bandage across his face said the last part perfectly, showing his years of practice. He returned the verification papers back to the Sand team.
"Thank you. May we walk around the village as well? Or are there places that are off limits," asked Baki. Since they were early, it would certainly be boring if they can't at least explore the village a little.
"Most of the village you are allowed to venture at your own discretion. Obviously, do not enter any homes without permission. In addition, training grounds one through ten have been reserved for the any ninjas from other villages for the Chunin exams. The other training grounds are restricted unless you are accompanied by a Konoha ninja. Any more questions?"
"No; thank you for your assistance. Let's go team," said Baki.
The sand team walked away from the gate. Shortly after, Baki split up from the rest of the team and started to explore the village. He had his own mission to complete.
The sand siblings found their lodgings relatively quickly - especially since Gaara seemed to have some sort of innate sense of direction that brings them exactly where they want in Konoha. It was a nice apartment with two bed rooms, a kitchen, and bathroom. Temari and Kankuro left their unessential belongings in the apartment while keeping their ninja equipment with them. Gaara, of course, never have any of these problems as he keeps everything in storage seals on him.
It was after they left their lodgings and started exploring the village when Kankuro ran into a little kid.
"Hey, kid. Watch where you are going," Kankuro sneered. "Don't you know how to treat your elders?" Kankuro picked up the kid by the back of his shirt and hoisted him up to eye level. The puppet user had some sort of weird superiority complex toward people – not including Temari and Gaara. He enjoys picking on others. The little kid, on the other hand, just looked completely frightened. He had a long blue scarf that reaches all the way down to his foot and goggles resting on the top of his head.
Gaara was about to stop Kankuro from hurting Konohamaru when a rock suddenly flew from a tree straight at Kankuro's head. "Oi, let him go," said a raven haired boy.
"Why should I? This kid ran into me," said Kankuro.
The boy in the tree stood up, sticking on the branch through the use of his chakra. On his back, the Uchiha clan symbol hung proudly. "He is a Konoha citizen and I am a Konoha shinobi. It's as simple as that."
Kankuro started to make a witty comeback, but was stopped by Gaara. "Kankuro, let him go."
"Fine, fine." The puppet user dropped the little kid down on the ground, who quickly took the chance to scurry away.
Sasuke eyed the red head cautiously. Everything about him from his posture to the way he talks emanates power. "Oi, you with the red hair, what's your name?"
"Don't you know that it's more polite for you to introduce yourself before asking somebody's name?" Temari decided to cut in.
Gaara held his hand out in front of Temari. "It's ok." He turned to face Sasuke again. "I'm Sabaku no Gaara. It's a pleasure to meet you, Uchiha Sasuke."
Sasuke was shocked. How did this kid know his name? Maybe he is more famous than he thought. "Hn. Why are you three in the village?"
"Are you stupid?" asked Temari. "Don't you know about the Chunin exams? Ninjas from all over the elemental countries are coming to Konoha."
Sasuke seethed a little at being called stupid, but kept his cool nonetheless. He was about to make a retort until he saw Uzumaki Naruto walking toward them. That blond kid was another enigma. At the academy, he always held back during spars, but managed to beat him every single time. Naruto disappeared for half a year at one point, but when he came back, he still stayed ahead of Sasuke in every subject. Sasuke pushed himself to his limits in training, and eventually got perfect marks in everything. He still did not make Rookie of the Year due to losing a fight with him at the final tournament though.
Naruto eyed his previous siblings closely. Temari and Kankuro were relatively the same as he remembered, but he knew there was definitely something different with this world's Gaara than before. For one, he didn't have a huge gourd behind his back. And his eyes, his eyes didn't scream of madness or insanity. Instead, they were deep with experience and power. He definitely has to make contact with them now.
"Hello. I'm Uzumaki Naruto." He made a quick bow. "And you are…?"
"Sabaku no Gaara." Gaara scrutinized every detail about Naruto. This was definitely a clone of himself from before. Naruto wore his headband on his forehead like most Konoha ninjas. He has navy color clothes on and brown pants. On the side of his hip was a large pouch that medic-nins used. He wore an excess amount of bandages around his arms and overall blended in very well with other ninjas. Definitely not how Gaara used to be.
"I take it you three are here for the Chunin exams?" Naruto continued as he already knew the answer. "Say, do you want to go get something to eat? I'll show you around the village if you want."
Temari and Kankuro looked a little hesitant, but Gaara decided to agree for all of them. "Sure."
"Ok, follow me. I'll take you to my favorite restaurant," said Naruto.
The four ninjas left the vicinity, leaving an annoyed Uchiha behind in the tree.
"Welcome to Ichiraku Ramen! What can I get for you?" recited Teuchi.
Gaara's eyes widened as he heard Teuchi's voice. How could he have forgotten about the food of the gods? It was impossible. He almost wanted to cry.
"The usual please," said Naruto.
"I'll take the same," said Gaara. He had to make up the twelve years of no ramen somehow. This was a good time to start.
"You sure kid? Naruto over here eats a lot," said Teuchi.
"I'll be fine," answered Gaara.
Kankuro and Temari both ordered one bowl of shrimp ramen each.
"Here you go! Six miso ramen and two shrimp ramen." Teuchi expertly passed three miso ramen to Naruto, three to Gaara, and one shrimp ramen each to the remaining two.
"Mmmm, this stuff is really good. The soup is just excellent," said Kankuro as he happily slurped the noodles.
"I agree." Temari was already drinking the last of her soup by this time.
"Ha, ha. Of course! I've been working on this soup for twenty years now. I've got the best ramen in all of the Elemental Nations," boasted Teuchi.
"Three more please!" ordered Naruto cheerfully. Ramen always seem to bring him in high spirits.
"Coming right up!"
Next to Naruto, was Gaara sulking as he stared at his noodles. He almost looked ready to cry. "I'm full…" he murmured. Gaara had barely finished a bowl and a half.
"I'll take them from you!" declared Naruto. He was about to reach his hand over to grab Gaara's bowl when he was suddenly slapped on the back of his hand.
"No! I mean, I'll take them to go," said Gaara.
"Oh. Geez, I was going to pay you back. Just trying to help you out." Naruto rubbed the back of his hand carefully.
"Three miso ramen," said Teuchi to his favorite customer.
"Thanks!" Naruto slurped down the noodles at inhuman rates. Gaara just watched in the corner in envy.
A couple minutes later, the four ninjas decided to leave the ramen stand. Teuchi happily cleaned up the stack of fifteen bowls of ramen along with the cash. If only Naruto came every day…
As they left the stall, Gaara said to his siblings, "Could you guys leave Naruto and me alone for a little bit? I have something I want to talk to him about."
Temari and Kankuro both looked shocked at the serious tone Gaara was adopting, and decided to comply with his request.
"Sure. I wanted to head home and get a nap anyways. I've been pretty tired since yesterday," said Kankuro.
"Ya, same here. Although, I'll probably check out the weapons store they have here in Konoha. I heard the kunai they sell here are the best. I'll see you in a little bit, Gaara." Temari waved goodbye to Gaara and dragged Kankuro to go away. Something that makes Gaara go serious was probably something they don't want to mess with.
The group broke up into two with Temari asking for directions to the weapon store and Naruto slowly walking toward his normal training ground. There was a moment of silence between the human sacrifices, but Gaara decided to speak up, "Who are you and what have you done to cause the ramen gods to forsake me?"
It was more of a joke than anything, but there was a slight hint of bitterness regardless. Naruto just chuckled, "Well, only one person I know can be that obsessed with ramen. That's me, or should I say, former you." It was a pretty logical guess on Naruto's part. After all, Suna didn't have any Fuuinjutsu masters and former Naruto had been an aspiring seal master before he died.
"You may be right," said Gaara. "But who are you?"
"Well, you're former me, and I'm former you." Naruto used a little sand manipulation to prove his point. It wasn't anything much, just a few grains of sand moving around. However, it was probably the best he could do. Perhaps if he trained another ten or twenty year to boost up his earth affinity he could get his sand manipulation to be in battle worthy, but for now, it was nothing more than a little trick.
Gaara's eyes widen as he saw, without a doubt, the traces of sand manipulation. He knew who Naruto was now, and smiled at the thought that he wasn't alone in coming back to the past. "Do you care for a spar?"
"Sure. We have to use Taijutsu only though; it would cause too much alarm if somebody saw widespread destruction in this training ground with a Suna-nin being half the cause. Not to mention, two Jinchuuriki fighting would just cause village panic."
"Alright, chakra augmentation is ok though, right?" asked Gaara.
Naruto's mouth curved into a grin, "Sure, if you want. I'm warning you the results won't be pretty if we have that limitation off though."
"O whatever, it shouldn't be that bad." Gaara quickly jumped back a couple feet and got into a taijutsu kata. It was similar to the frog style, but refined and polished to suit his needs more. Naruto, on the other hand, just had his hands in his pocket, waiting for Gaara to attack.
"Let's begin," they both chorused. In a burst of speed, far faster than any genin were capable of, Gaara appeared next to Naruto to deliver his first punch. The punch was intercepted, however, with a chop at the forearm. Gaara followed up the attack with a round house kick, but this two was blocked off with a chop.
"Hey, if we were fighting for real, the muscles in both your left arm and right leg would be torn apart," said Naruto as they both jumped back for some distance.
"They aren't torn now, so I don't care."
Naruto decided to take the initiative this time and appeared right behind Gaara to deliver a punch. Right before the blow landed, a wall of sand intercepted.
"What happened to no techniques? That's sand manipulation right there," accused Naruto.
"I can't help it! It's automatic," replied Gaara.
"You mean you still haven't figured out how to control your own defense yet? How pathetic. O well, I'll still beat you down to the ground." Naruto sped forward again, ready to land another punch. This time he used chakra to augment his power. Naruto circulated chakra throughout his body, aiding the contracting and expanding muscles. Right before the blow landed, he condensed chakra into a single point on his fist before. The effects were tremendous. The wall of sand that came up was no match for the fist that holds power that rivals the legendary Tsunade. The force went through even the armor of sand and caused Gaara to fly back at least 200 hundred feet. Only a cloud of dust marks the path Gaara flew back in.
"Ow! What was that? That's Tsunade-baachan's technique," said Gaara.
"Yep. Took me a couple years to get it just right, but I can safely use this technique in battle now. You did say we could use chakra to augment our strength, right? That's exactly what I did." Naruto had to hold back a smirk at the sight of his old body getting up after that blow. "Perhaps we should stop now?"
"Yea, I think that's a good idea. Remind me to never get into a pure Taijutsu match with you ever again," grumbled Gaara.
"If you want."
Gaara was at their apartment now, resting after that spar he just had. It still bothered him that he no longer had the healing power Kyuubi always gave him. Although, there was another reason why he decided to stop the spar though; he has been feeling uneasy the entire day now. Something was going to happen, but he just couldn't finger what it was. To put his mind on something else, Gaara decided to work on some seals again. Those always managed to distract him enough.
The Kazekage was having a bad day. There had been so much to deal with lately. Orochimaru came up to him a week ago offering a temporary alliance in order to take down Konoha. He even said all the spoils of war will go to Suna besides the last Uchiha and the forbidden scroll. It was a very tempting offer, but the Kazekage had to refuse. Even if they do managed to win, there was no telling that Sound would honor their part of the bargain. In addition, by breaking a treaty with Konoha like that - at the Chunin exams too – none of the other major villages would ever become allies with Suna again. If war broke out against Suna after they had just finished Konoha – which would most definitely cost a lot of their ninjas- Suna would fall.
Nevertheless, he did order Baki to scout out Konoha a little in case they do join up with the Sound. Of course, it was also entirely possible they decide to just protect their allies instead. It was a tough choice that would depend heavily on the situation. This was a matter the Kazekage had to take into his own hands.
The Kazekage accepted the invitation to view the Chunin exams. In fact, he had already started his journey to Konoha with several of his trusted bodyguards. The pace he went to Konoha was slow; however, as he took time to visit all of his outposts to check up on their status. It would do good to make sure his borders were as secure as possible. Everything seemed to be going fine until Orochimaru appeared again.
"We meet again, Yondaime Kazekage." Orochimaru stood in front of him with five of his own bodyguards. One was bald with a large body; another had six arms behind his back. There was a red haired girl that can't seem to keep her mouth shut and two stoic ones behind her. Those two seemed the most dangerous.
"What are you doing here? I already denied your offer to attack Konoha." The Kazekage placed his arms on his weapon, ready to attack at any moment.
"Ah, yes. I seem to remember that. You see, however, it would be very wonderful for us to have the Sand to attack with us during the invasion. I can already see it, Sand shinobi rushing forward into battle, casting their wind jutsu at all their enemy. Sound would provide support at every turn. Luckily, you have already been preparing for war."
"You mean using our ninjas as meat shields, right? Anbu, take down his bodyguards. I will deal with Orochimaru myself," ordered the Kazekage.
"Ku,ku,ku. Always the rash one. Sound Five, annihilate the Anbus." Orochimaru just stood back while his subordinates rushed forward to battle. The big bosses just stared at each other, gauging their opponent's strength.
The Anbus, however, were in a tight situation. They easily had the upper hand at first, until their opponents all morphed into some strange beast hybrid. They were still no match for them though, until the quiet kid with the bones started attacking as well. It took him but a second to stab a hole through one of the Sand Shinobi. Nonetheless, the Anbu didn't become the Kazekage's bodyguards by being weak. One managed to stick some poison into the girl with the flute while the fat one was cut up by a wind jutsu. Actually, the Anbus almost seemed to be turning the tide until the six armed boy decided to finally attack.
Accuracy: 100 percent.
A golden arrow flew at high speeds, piercing two Anbus in one shot. They had no chance to react, and were dead within seconds. The remaining Anbu, seeing his teammates' demise, growled in fury. He didn't have time to mourn though and threw five explosive tags around in order to unleashed his most powerful technique in his arsenal.
Fuuton: Raputa- no Mureboukou [Wind Release: Raptor Swarm Assault]
Using the time the explosive tags gave him, he finished his long string of hand seals. The Anbu placed his palms in front of him, facing his opponents. He blew a gust of wind with his mouth and enhanced the force with his hands. The flow of wind morphed into multiple raptors and started to slash at their enemies. The birds sliced up the spider boy in many places, and gave a big gash across the one with two heads. Sadly, the Anbu never got to see the results of his technique though, as a bone came out of where his heart was.
The Kazekage grimaced at the sight of all his lost subordinates. He kept his focus up though, and never lost track of where Orochimaru was. The Snake Sannin still remains as the biggest threat.
"Sound five, you may retreat for now,"
"But, Orochimaru-sama," said Kimimaro in surprise.
"Be quiet. I can handle the Kazekage easily. Now disappear."
"Hai, Orochimaru-sama." Kimimaro gave a quick bow, before slinging Tayuya and Kidomaru on his back. Sakon did the same with Jirobo and they all left via Shunshin.
"You are going to regret sending your bodyguards away, Orochimaru," said the Kazekage.
"They will be fine, I don't want to lose my bodyguards before the invasion starts," said Orochimaru, never acknowledging the fact that he may be the one in danger.
No more words were exchanged though as both ninjas prepared their attacks. The Kazekage sent a huge gust of wind straight at Orochimaru, who quickly countered with a great fireball.
The huge fireball engulfed the wind, growing even stronger as it was sent at the Kazekage. The Kazekage used wind chakra to boost his movements and appeared right next to Orochimaru. "Fuuton: Bouseki Kaze [Wind Release: Spinning Wind]." He grabbed both the arms of Orochimaru and a swirl of spinning wind engulfed them. The Kazekage expertly caused the wind to only cut his target, destroying it into pieces. "It's over."
"Ku,ku,ku. That was certainly impressive. I'm afraid it wasn't enough though." Sure enough, what used to be Orochimaru's remains was nothing more than a pile of mud now. The real Orochimaru appeared a few paces back and proceeded to pulling out the Sword of Kusanagi, the legendary Grass cutter, out of his mouth. "But you were right when you said this was over."
The Kazekage tried to move, but he found 2 snakes wrapped around his ankles. Both of them had already injected their paralyzing poison into each leg. There was no escape. In his last hope to survive, he sent chakra down the Kunai that Gaara gave him.
Gaara bolted upright when he felt a chakra signal calling for him. This was his father's. There was no doubt it, Gaara was needed. He quickly left a seal in the kitchen, before flashing through two hand seals. Gaara disappeared in a swirl of sand.
Orochimaru lunged forward, ready to stab the Kazekage through his chest. The sword was only a second away from impact, before a wall of sand appeared and protected the Kazekage.
"Orochimaru," snarled Gaara. He had his hands up already, ready to use the infinite sand the desert offered.
"O ho? The weapon of sand makes an appearance. I am wondering how you made it here, but no matter. It may be a good idea to put a dent into Akasuki's plans anyways." Orochimaru knew the power the Sand Jinchuuriki had in the desert, and immediately initiated a string of hand seals. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu (Summoning Technique)!" Smoke erupted everywhere, and in the middle of it, a huge purple snake appeared.
"Orochimaru, why have you summoned me? This will cost you a hundred sacrifices you know." Manda glared at Orochimaru. This was all for intimidation purposes though, and they both knew it. It was improbable Manda could actually do anything to Orochimaru, but at least this keeps both of them content. One hundred sacrifices weren't too hard for Orochimaru to get after all.
"I just need your help with this Jinchuuriki. It should be quick though, he is still young," said Orochimaru.
Gaara really missed being able to summon the toads now. However, he did have one technique that made up for the lost. After all, one had to fight size with size. He quickly swiped some blood on one of the twelve seals on his belt. A clone appeared next to him, before disappearing instantly. A flood of nature chakra entered his body, turning the black circles around his eyes orange – the mark of a sage. He spread his chakra around, encompassing the feeling of sand into his very being. With a clasp of his hand, he cried out
"Bijuu Henge (Tailed Beast Transformation)
Smoke appeared again, and in the middle of it, the Ichibi's body stood in all his glory. It had occurred to Gaara at one point that he was one of the few Jinchuuriki that haven't attained control over the form their bijuu had. It took him many trials and errors to finally figure out a way to grow into the size of the bijuu. Granted, it was a lot harder than normal due to the additional seals he placed on his, but it was still possible. This technique was almost like the Henge that Gaara used when he was younger, but with more power. Normally, to transform into something the size of a Bijuu would be impossible due to the mental strain it would take to keep up the transformation. But by focusing on the essence of the beast sealed in him, it becomes possible. The additional mass this body has was gathered through the sand from underground.
Orochimaru's eyes widened at the sight. This kid had already fully mastered his Bijuu? Of course, it was just as likely that Shukaku was in control. Either way, this was bad. Fighting Shukaku in the desert was almost asking for death. "Manda, we are retreating." The snake boss nodded in his in agreement. He also knows how dangerous this fight has become.
"You're not getting away!" roared Gaara in his new body. In his right arm, a gigantic Rasengan started to form. His left arm was spinning rapidly around the chakra ball, imbuing wind element into it. The sphere turned into more of a shuriken shape, a shuriken the size of Shukaku's head. With a thrust, Gaara threw the technique straight at the fleeing Orochimaru.
Fuuton: Dai Rasenshuriken
Orochimaru gasped at the technique that was flying at him. The chakra in the technique was tremendous. Even Manda won't survive a hit from that. Flipping through several hand seals, he quickly summoned his strongest defense. "Kuchiyose: Sanjū Rashōmon (Summoning Jutsu: Triple Rashomon)." Three large gates appeared from the ground, standing between the Rasenshuriken and Orochimaru.
It was useless. When the Rasenshuriken hit the first gate, the gate immediately disappeared down to the molecular level.The second gate followed the same fate, although at a slower rate. One could call the third gate lucky, as it only suffered a gigantic hole in the middle. The frame was still there, barely.
A trail of dust marked the path the technique was traveling. Orochimaru had no choice but to dodge the technique now, and he had almost managed to too. Of course, right when he was jumping away, the technique grew in size, completely disintegrating his left arm. Manda was hit as well and had to go back to the summoning world to avoid death.
"Damn you, Jinchuuriki of Shukaku. I will get you the next time." Orochimaru quickly tunneled underground as he left a mud clone to continue talking, hoping to avoid any other attacks.
This action did not go unnoticed by Gaara though, as he said "Fool, going underground in the desert. I will destroy you." He slammed both his paws down onto the ground and screamed out
"Sabaku Taisō (Sand Waterfall Imperial Funeral)"
A shockwave was sent throughout the ground, compressing all the sand underneath. A massive earthquake started as well as the technique finished. Slowly, Gaara started to shrink again, until he was the size of a human again. He unsealed another one of his clones to give himself some extra strength for now.
"Did you get him?" asked the Kazekage.
"No, he managed to escape. I'm pretty sure I got his other arm and one of his legs though while he was underground. That bastard is slippery." Gaara stared at the condition his father was in. "We need to get you to a doctor."
"It's no use; I don't think I'll make it. The closest village is a couple hours walk, and I doubt their medical facilities are good enough to treat this poison," explained the Kazekage.
"Just leave it to me." Gaara flashed through a couple hand seals this time, channeling his chakra toward the seal back at Konoha. "This may take a minute."
In a gulf of sand, both the Kazekage and Gaara were transported back into the kitchen of their apartment in Konoha.
As promised, I updated as fast as I could to try and cover up the embarrassment of last chapter. Anyways, this was the first real fight scene I wrote, and I don't really know how well I did. If you could review and tell me how I did good/bad, it would be greatly appreciated. Anyways, until next time!