Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to the last man standing. Let the battle begin.

And then suddenly, Ninjas!
Is Hiruzen Sarutobi going to have to choke a bitch?

Because Hiruzen Sarutobi seriously believes that Hiruzen Sarutobi has not done enough bitch-choking since this story started.


Up in the Kage Box as the Third Exam began, Sarutobi packed his pipe and got his smoke on, as the Kazekage all but quivered in excitement. Sarutobi, of course, knew that at any time during this match the Kazekage would pull his asinine crap and send an army of ninja spilling into Konoha, but he was going to humor the guy before he embarrassed him in front of pretty much the entire ninja world.

"It's a good day for a match, eh Kazekage?" Sarutobi asked.

"Yes, I quite agree." The Kazekage replied with a somewhat obvious lisp.

Sarutobi found it odd, the Kazekage didn't speak with a lisp–damn it Orochimaru you are the worst ninja ever. On the bright side, Anko was going to get that promotion to Jonin for having a correct gut instinct about that whole "Naruto didn't really kill him" thing.

Even better, he gets to embarrass his stupid pupil for pulling some stupid crap on his own sensei. And, since he obviously killed the Kazekage and stole his face and no one supposedly knew wiser, now was a perfect opportunity to get whatever he wanted from Sand and then feign ignorance about the whole thing when it's all over. Today was going to be glorious.

Shino vs. Kankuro

"Hey Kazekage, our two villages are the closest of comrades, aren't we?" Sarutobi asked the Kazekage.

"Of course, Hokage, Sand and Leaf are like brothers." The Kazekage replied.

Sarutobi pulled out a scroll and began writing things down. "Well, there are a few things that I'd like if it's not too much trouble. Small things, it wouldn't even be a dent in Sunagakure."

"Sure, sure, just write down your wish-list and I'll have it stamped when you're done." The Kazekage said.

"Good, is there anything you want in return, Kazekage? On a beautiful day like this I'm feeling extremely generous." Sarutobi asked.

"Oh, I'll decide on something very soon." The Kazekage replied as he eyed Sasuke Uchiha like an Akimichi would an all-you-can-eat buffet. Sarutobi did an amazing job pretending not to notice as he added Temari to his list.

It was at that moment that Hayate announced that Shino was winner via forfeit. Sarutobi looked down at the ring. "Wait, a forfeit?"

Down in the arena, Kankuro was not happy. He hadn't expected to go before Gaara and he didn't want to reveal his trump card in some meaningless match. He was fine with sitting this one out.

Shino, who had been looking forward to his match, wanted to send his females to lay their eggs in Kankuro, for denying him a fight. Ah well, there was always next round. Naruto and Hinata saw a very sick smile appear on Shino's lips and looked to each other nervously.

"Hey, Hokage, do you think something is bugging that Aburame kid?" The Kazekage asked as he noticed Shino's serial killer smile.

Sarutobi stopped, and stared at the Kazekage. "Now that you mention it, he does look like a bug crawled up his ass."

Both Kage broke into peals of laughter.

Shikamaru vs. Temari

Back down at the arena, Shikamaru liked that idea, and he immediately raised his hand to forfeit. "Hey I forfeit too–."

Temari kicked him in the back and sent him plummeting into the ring before jumping down herself. "The hell you are!"

Sarutobi hummed. "She's a bloodthirsty one, just like my dear departed wife."

The Kazekage briefly went wide-eyed, as though he remembered something horrifying. Just as quickly he regained his composure, and chuckled. "Temari has always been fearsome, and eager to show her skills."

Seeing who she was fighting, Sarutobi took a puff from his pipe. "Too bad she's going up against Shikamaru."

The Kazekage stared down at Shikamaru. "You mean the young man who is refusing to get up and fight?"

Sarutobi nodded. "Yes, she's going to hate this match."

An hour later, the match was over, with Temari having stripped herself down to nothing but the scant bits of mesh she wore while under the command of Shikamaru's Shadow Copy and then danced like a monkey for the crowd of Ninja. To add insult to injury, Shikamaru then forfeited the match, having no intention of advancing after proving his complete superiority over her.

"He won that match." The Kazekage said, sounding firmly impressed.

"Like there was a shadow of a doubt." Sarutobi let out a boisterous laugh that the Kazekage joined him in.

Hinata vs. Neji

"That Temari chick was damn hot." Sasuke said as he shot the breeze with Naruto on the sidelines.

Naruto nodded. "Add pierced nipples to my list of turn-ons."

"Hell. Yes. Mine too." Sasuke and Naruto shared a fist-bump with that. Behind them, Sakura was swiftly writing down "Sasuke likes girls with pierced nipples" on a note pad.

"I'm standing right here, you assholes!" Temari–who was hurriedly dressing herself–yelled at both Konoha Ninja.

Hinata joined Naruto's side. "I could've told you that she had them, you know."

Sasuke sighed. "Oh man, if I had the Byakugan I would just stand in front of the women's bath all day."

"But you're a young, single, male Uchiha; they'd already drag you in if you so much as walked by." Hinata pointed out.

Sasuke thought about it, and nodded. "Yeah, they pretty much would."

Naruto folded his arms and grumbled. "Stupid sexy Uchiha…"

At that moment he felt a chill down his back and there was Neji, getting ready to leap down into the pit. The two geniuses and Naruto looked at the Branch Hyuga, who was most assuredly looking out the side of his head at Naruto with contempt.

"Hinata-sama, we are being called down." He informed his cousin who was biologically his half-sister.

Hinata nodded and then opened her fan before addressing Temari. "I suppose I'll demonstrate how to properly use a fan in combat. Please watch carefully."

Temari, now fully dressed, was ready to throw a kunai at the back of Hinata's head as she jumped down.

Sasuke looked to Naruto. "The Hell is Neji's problem?"

Naruto soured at the question. "Eh, it's just Typical Hyuga Bullcrap. Hinata's going to fix him up proper."

"The Hyuga Family, they always struck me as inbred elitists." The Kazekage noted.

Sarutobi nodded. "Oh, they are. They have big families so they have plenty of second and third cousins to marry and keep the Byakugan in the family. But they diluted it a bit with this generation."

"So this Neji person," The Kazekage asked, "I hear he's a brilliant genius who has mastered techniques that the Branch House isn't even supposed to know."

"Yes, but…" There was suddenly a great noise like a hurricane going at full force, and Neji went up into the air and crashed to the ground a bruised and battered heap. "…Yeah…"

Standing over him, Hinata hid her mouth with a fan and let out a small giggle. "Neji-kun, that was for being so hostile to Naruto-san."

Lying on his back, Neji gurgled. "I'm sorry, Hinata-sama…"

"You are forgiven, Neji-kun." Hinata said, before a completely baffled Hayate shakily announced her winner.

Sasuke's lower jaw was hanging considerably below the railing he was leaning over. Naruto sighed in annoyance. "She's as big a showoff as you are."

Temari was in fear and horror at the strength of the victorious Genin. This was not in their intel. "What was that?"

"That was Hinata's Kaiten. It will kill you if you're not strong enough." Naruto said before he patted Sasuke on the shoulder. "Good luck next match!"

Naruto vs. Gaara

As Neji was carried off to the infirmary, Hayate looked over towards the stands. "Okay, next match is Naruto Uzumaki and Gaara…" Someone was missing. "Where's Gaara?"

"Present." Hayate screamed like a girl, fell, and crawled away from Gaara, who had been standing right behind him that entire time he spoke.

The ANBU standing guard next to Sarutobi buried her masked face in her palm and muttered "Damn it, Hayate."

Hinata jumped back up onto the staging area next to Naruto and held up her open fan to hide both their faces as she stole a kiss on his cheek from him "Do be careful, Naruto-san."

Pulling her fan away and closing it, Hinata joined Sasuke's side as Naruto grinned, fist-bumped the latter and waved to Sakura and Lee before he pitched himself off and down into the arena below.

Cheers went up from the Konoha stands as Naruto landed opposite of Gaara. While he was no Uchiha, this fight had been gaining considerable hype in the days leading to the third exam. The son of the Kazekage up against the boy who was like the son of the Hokage, facing off in the first round of the Tournament to get the energy going for Sasuke's match, which was touted by many as the Main Event.

"Hey Kazekage, my kid can beat up your kid." Sarutobi called the Kazekage out.

The Kazekage had just finished stamping his seal on the Hokage's wish-list, approving everything that he'd asked for on the list. "Sure, Hokage, want to make a wager?"

"I'm so confident that Naruto will win that I bet three Uchiha of your choice, four Hyuga, and this." He held up the sword of The Thunder God.

"You are cocky in your old age, Hokage," The Kazekage hissed back with a chuckle, "I bet my entire village. I'm that confident that your boy will lose under any and all circumstances."

Today was a good day to be Hiruzen Sarutobi. He quickly offered up a scroll he'd been writing the wager on even as he made it, and stamped his seal on it. "There you go, Kazekage."

The Kazekage chuckled deeply, and stamped his official seal on it as well. "I want Mikoto Uchiha, and both her sons."

"I want to turn Sunagakure into a gambler's paradise. Nice, desert location, perfect for cramming as many casinos as humanly possible." Sarutobi replied.

The Kazekage grinned behind his veil. What harm was there in making a bet like this, when in the next thirty minutes, Konoha would be a scorched, smoldering crater?

Naruto and Gaara stared each other down, Gaara looking happy to finally have his moment to fight Naruto. Naruto, regarded him passively, unconcerned by the murderous intent that had Hayate's knees shaking. Looking back and forth between the two, Hayate regained his composure and let out a cough.

"Okay…begin!" And then Hayate was gone to get as far away from this war zone as possible.

Naruto jumped back to open the distance between he and Gaara, who immediately began distributing a cloud of sand from his gourd. He wasn't about to get caught up in that directly. Gaara stared at Naruto, and hardened his defenses. He'd caught sight of Naruto's Chidori training, he knew what to expect.

"Come on Naruto, kick his sandy ass!" Sakura called out.

Lee was with her in cheering. "Erupt in a voluminous fire of YOUTH!"

"That's my boy, Lee! Encourage his raw determination!" A proud Gai also called out.

"Naruto! Naruto! Naruto! Naruto!" The Uchiha section was chanting, largely because they wanted to see him and Sasuke fight it out in the end.

He tuned it all out, though, as he stared at Gaara. "I said I was going to mop the floor with you and your pathetic justification, right?

The area around Gaara increased, as he answered. "Come then, and realize how futile your existence is."

Naruto did the opposite, retreating backwards and up the side of the arena wall and right to the top of it. On reaching the top, he stared down at Gaara and nodded as he removed his glasses and slipped them into place under his forehead protector. "Okay."

He then began to count some math in his head, while drawing a mental diagram of the arena, Gaara, and his location with his fingers. Once he was satisfied with his calculations, he quickly performed his now favorite hand seal.


There was a great blast of smoke, and then the entire wall of the arena was orange and yellow from the sheer number of Naruto clones standing atop and on the wall almost halfway to the bottom. It surprised Gaara, and downright baffled Temari and Kankuro.

"What the…? All of those Shadow Clones?" Kankuro asked.

Temari frowned as she did the numbers. "There has to be…at least five hundred of them!"

"Oh my, Naruto-san." Hinata giggled behind her fan. He was going to do something amazing, she was sure.

Sasuke activated his Sharingan to get a look at the clones. "Yes, that's genuine Shadow Clone, but there's a lot of chakra going on there in the copies, way more than needed."

Then they heard it, the sound of a thousand birds singing…then two thousand…three, four…the sound became louder, and louder…becoming a roar of hundreds of thousands of birds. But more important than the sound was the light of the technique that created the sound, casting a very long shadow behind Gaara as he stared at the unexpected sight.

Back at the top of the wall, Naruto slipped on a pair of sunglasses handed to him by one of his clones as they all readied their Chidori.

"Lightning Release: Five Hundred Thousand Birds Singing." He declared the name of the attack.

Gaara scowled and prepared to defend himself.

Naruto pointed. "Get him!"

The mob of electricity generating Naruto charged, moving down the wall in a colossal stampede that shook the arena. Gaara's sand exploded outward around him in waves to prevent the charge, but the clones either avoided the streams or leaped over it and closed in.

Gaara created more sand from the dried ground behind him, and attacked the clones, taking down the brunt of the wave with spears of the tightly packed earth, knowing that if a single one got past, his Earth-based armor wouldn't be able to stop the Lightning-based attack.

The clones were going down in droves, torn apart by the sand, though some managed to get as close as within ten feet of Gaara, there was no breaching his defenses as his eyes darted wildly over the disposable horde.

"Well, so much for that." A much more relaxed Temari said as she watched the flashy attack get ground down by Gaara's near-perfect defense. The Konoha Ninja were equally shocked by the failure of the technique, which left nothing but a bunch of smoke and a large pile of sand all over the arena floor.

Gaara, wide-eyed, looked around at the aftermath of the attack. He had gotten them all, but where was the real Naruto? He looked back up at the top of the wall, he was still there?

Then that Naruto vanished in a puff of smoke, but it was too late for Gaara to react. Coming from under a sand-colored tarp directly behind Gaara, Naruto charged and smashed a Chidori into the Sand-nin, punching through the gourd, his sand armor and flesh alike to impale him through the left side with such force it lifted Gaara off his feet.

As Gaara froze from the burning pain running through his system, Naruto put his foot on Gaara's back, and kicked him off his hand, dropping him like a rock in his own pile of sand.

When Gaara hit the ground, the Chidori was the only sound left in the arena before it ceased, leaving nothing but a few bits of dried blood on Naruto's arm.

Temari gripped the railing so hard it dented under her grip as she stared at the scene in total dread. "Gaara…he…he did that to Gaara…?"

"We're doomed." Kankuro blurted out under his breath. "We are so doomed."

Baki didn't like what he saw. No, he hated it. Gaara, just like that, had been run completely through by that ward of the Hokage. This was bad, no, horrifying. If Gaara was dead, well he was dead, but if he wasn't…

Gaara began to move. He was still alive, which meant that he was in pain, which meant only one thing: He was going to flip out and kill everyone.

Panting, Gaara strained to move, but even the slightest movement created a searing, thought consuming sensation that he couldn't describe. It was like nothing he ever felt before, and it was coming from his side. What was this blinding sensation? Why wouldn't it stop?

Gaara slowly got up, despite how much the sensation tried to make him stop, and he clamped his hand over its source, the exit wound over his gut that Naruto's hand made. "What…what is this…?"

He pulled his hand away and looked at his palm and saw bright crimson blood all over it. "Blood…I'm bleeding…?"

It was Naruto's turn to be upset. There was no way he should've been able to get up from that hit so quickly. So this is what Demon Containers were like. This was not good.

"I should've severed his spine." Naruto muttered.

Gaara let out a bestial roar. "I'M BLEEDING! IT HURTS! IT HURTS!"

His sand went haywire, lashing out at everything within reach. Naruto wisely dashed clear of the attack, jumping back up to the wall as streams of sand smashed the ground, trees and wall of the arena.

Up in the stands, Mikoto rose as she activated her Sharingan. "This isn't good, Sunagakure's demon container is about to change into its Beast State!"

She looked about the other Uchiha, who were likewise already on their feet. "Quickly, begin evacuating the spectators before it completely changes-!"

Mikoto had seen the kunai thrown for her head and would have intercepted it herself, if not for the senbon needle thrown by Haku that deflected it straight up. The kunai came down harmlessly for her to catch and she then threw it right back, impaling the face of the Sound-nin that threw it right as he cast off his disguise.

"Great, the corpses have decided to reveal themselves." She said before she threw off the kimono she wore, revealing her ANBU uniform. Around her, the Uchiha spectators threw off their own attire to reveal their Military Police Uniforms.

As Sound Ninja began to attack about the arena, Mikoto called out as she put on a Tengu mask. "Konoha Military Police, these are your orders! Suppress the attackers and secure the arena!"

And with that, the Uchiha Clan joined the battle.

Back up in the Hokage's seat, Sarutobi sighed as he began to see the first signs of combat going on below. The Kazekage was looking directly at him, as were his two bodyguards. Glancing at the Kazekage, Sarutobi looked back down at the unfolding chaos and then asked.

"Shall we get this over with, Orochimaru?"

The eyes of the Kazekage widened, and then he let out a very sinister laugh. "I was wondering when you'd put an end to this charade."

An explosion of smoke and light followed, and the Kazekage with the Hokage as his hostage leaped into the air to jump to the roof. A split second later, the Kazekage hit the roof with enough force to tear a long gash into it, as Sarutobi landed nearby, dusting off his robe.

"Stupid, stupid student, didn't I tell you to not show your face around here unless you could surprise me?" Sarutobi asked.

In that instant, the Hokage was stabbed by a sword held by the extending arm of the Kazekage, who rose to his feet like a rag doll and floated into the air, revealing behind him the unmistakable black and red robe of Akatsuki wrapped around its puppet master, Sasori.

The hunchbacked Akatsuki member lifted up his straw hat, as the likewise robed Orochimaru stepped from behind him and smiled.

"Are you surprised, sensei?"

"That smoke bomb, it's the signal!" Kankuro said as Gaara's sand began to crawl up the walls.

Temari nodded. "Let's get moving!"

"Signal for what?" Sakura cried out before both Temari and Kankuro leaped up to a higher level of the arena. It all clicked in her head when she saw two Sound Ninja leap past the Sand Genin and rushed straight for her and Lee with kunai drawn.

What a terrible mistake on their part. Sakura snapped her attacker's neck with a kick to the head as Lee crushed the other's ribcage with a single punch; the two Sound-nin corpses went spiraling through the air lifelessly above Sakura to her left and smashing through the wall behind Lee respectively.

"Ninja are attacking Konoha." Sakura said.

"Otogakure Ninja, no less!" Lee said.

Sakura nodded and both she and Lee ducked under a few kunai thrown at them. Their attackers regretted it, as they were quickly sliced to bits by both Sasuke's ninjato and Hinata's fans. The two Genin Geniuses landed on the railing as Shikamaru walked over with his hands in his pockets.

"What a pain," He said, "I was hoping to go home after the first round was done and get some sleep."

Sasuke stared at the rising sand below. "Gaara is a demon container, and he's about to let the tanuki out of the jar, if you will."

"We must do something, but what?" Lee asked.

Sasuke answered. "We get the Hell out of here, where did Naruto go?"

"Naruto-san is on the other side of the arena." Hinata said as she pulled her fox mask from her jacket and put it on.

Sure enough, there he was, watching the unfolding situation with Gaara. Sasuke prepared his ninjato and looked to the others. "Get out of the arena. The Military Police and Jonin should take care of attackers inside. We need to get in position to defend the rest of Konoha!"

"And you?" Shikamaru asked.

"I'm going to backup Naruto. Now go!" Sasuke took off with that, leaving the rest behind.

"You're going to back him up? Hey!" Sakura gave up and turned her attention towards the upper levels. He was right and besides, Temari and Kankuro were still on the loose.

"Wait, where did Shino go?" Shikamaru asked when he noticed the quiet bug user was not present.

Hinata knew where he was. "He went to go have his match."

The sounds of high speed Ninja Combat was growing closer. Sakura called out. "No time to worry about it, let's go!"

Sakura, Lee, Shikamaru, and Hinata immediately took off to join the battle.

Naruto stared down at the rapidly rising sand. Gaara was nowhere to be seen but he was pretty sure he was still down there. He needed to do something to buy time for the Military Police to wrap up with securing the spectators and step in. Fortunately for him, he had no problem getting Gaara's attention. Unfortunately for him, he had Gaara's attention.

Two large claws of dense sand smashed into the wall below, sending long cracks up it towards Naruto. The sand below the arms shifted upward, and then the face of the One-Tailed Shukaku emerged with its jaws wide open to crush Naruto in them.

It was at the last moment Naruto jumped clear, and the One-Tailed Beast smashed through the wall and into the trees outside it. It hit the ground with a colossal crash, and then turned around to stare up at Naruto.

Naruto, back up on his feet, saw nothing but sand as it came up and over the wall to smother him like a wave splashing over a seawall. Before even a speck of it could dirty his shirt, Sasuke grabbed him and dove clear of it, sending them both tumbling across the top of the wall just ahead of the sand flood.

"Damn, damn, damn, DAMN!" Naruto yelled while he rolled along. He jumped to his feet as Sasuke did the same, and both watched as the massive form of Shukaku rose up over the wall and began to tower over the already gigantic arena.

Its large, claw-like tail lashed about in the air, before it smashed into the ground, creating a massive shockwave that felled trees and knocked over buildings nearby. The beast then let out a yell.


Sasuke glanced at Naruto. "He's already a fan."

Naruto tried his best to keep his composure. "We got to lead him away from here!"

Sasuke performed hand-seals. "Then let's not waste time!"

He took a deep breath, and then unleashed a gigantic fireball that smashed into Shukaku's face, causing him to roar in anger. As the flames cleared, he spotted both Naruto and Sasuke leaping from the wall and breaking for a run away from the stadium and the center of the village. Ignoring the battle going on in the arena and spreading outside it, the tailed beast tore off after the two Genin, wanting nothing else but to kill Naruto in his frenzy.

Baki had already gotten outside the arena, and was rushing to meet up with the rest of Sand's forces when he saw the Shukaku break out of the wall…going in the entirely wrong direction. "Gaara's out of control, I knew he was a liability. The Kazekage will not be pleased."

A few rooftops behind, Temari and Kankuro saw Gaara tearing off in the wrong way as well. "Great, they're leading him away from the village! The whole plan's been screwed in the ass!"

"Well if you're willing to complain about it, why don't you go right up to Gaara and give him a piece of your mind!" Temari snapped at him.

The two Sand-nin joined Baki, and Kankuro pointed towards the trail of dust and sand running off into the distance. "Baki-sensei, what do we do now?"

"Continue with the operation. We still have sufficient manpower from our village and Sound." Even as Baki gave his orders, there was a rumbling as several giant snakes smashed through the walls on the edge of the village.

Looking away from the unimaginable din, he yelled to his two students. "We can handle Gaara after we've destroyed the village. First, we're going to secure this area so that-!"

A flying guillotine, its approach masked by the din of the invasion and battle, popped up from below the rooftop behind Baki and clamped securely around his head, surprising him. Before he could try to defend or escape the trap, the chain on the end of the weapon was pulled taut and it was yanked away…taking his head with it.

The weapon carved an arc through the air as it returned to the hand of its owner, standing atop a nearby roof. Looking at the weapon's prize, she released the catch, and allowed Baki's head to roll off the roof and to the street below. Temari and Kankuro, on seeing Baki's killer, could not believe their eyes.

"You've got to be kidding me." Temari snarled as she took her fan off her back and Kankuro undid the bindings on his puppet, Karasu.

Swinging the flying guillotine around, by its cloth-wrapped chain, Tenten grinned specifically at Temari. "I've been waiting a whole month for this, Sand Bitch. Don't disappoint me."

Sarutobi sighed and took stock of the situation. His village was in flames, his Ninja were fighting for their lives, he was bleeding out from a sword stabbed into his gut, and one of his students was laughing like it was the funniest thing in the world.

Yes, it was his wedding day all over again.

"Well, I just made myself a little sad." Sarutobi lamented when he remembered his dear departed wife and what ranked as the best day ever for him. Oh well, he had to focus on that whole village being burned to the ground thing.

In front of him, Orochimaru finished laughing at the furious combat going on around them and stared his teacher down as a barrier appeared and extended above their heads atop the pagoda roof. Sand and Sound's operation against Konoha had begun, and with it the dramatic confrontation between master and pupil…and pupil's puppet pal.

"I would be more surprised about you mastering your abominable little trick Orochimaru, but you gave it away too early." Sarutobi said.

Orochimaru smiled. "Leave it to The Professor to figure me out to still be alive, tell me…how did you do it?"

Sarutobi reached down and yanked the sword out of his gut, and promptly threw it with enough force to slice the puppet Kazekage in half. "Yes, you made it rather painfully obvious by allowing a Genin to kill you in one shot, but I commend your prudence in making it a puppet to deceive my ninja. You even kept the organs fresh."

"I do good work." Sasori commented.

"Bitches don't speak unless spoken to." Sarutobi snapped at Sasori, before addressing Orochimaru. "So what is it that you're here for, Orochimaru? You're not the revenge-seeking type, and Akatsuki doesn't exactly condone this sort of thing. So for what shits and giggles have you come to my village with not one but two armies?"

Honestly, Sarutobi was a little flattered by that. How many other Kage had their students make up an entire Ninja village specifically to kill them? None, that's how many.

"Shits and giggles? I'm offended, sensei, you act like I'm out for just a cheap thrill." Orochimaru bantered back. "I'm here because these peaceful days are so dull, like a windmill that doesn't move. I want to make the windmill spin again, with the fall of Konoha as the wind."

Sarutobi forgot his injury, because that simile was far more painful. He looked at the four ninja who had created the smoky, purple barrier that surrounded him and his opponents and mused over how he'd bring it down–huh, that one chick has a sweet ass. At least he hoped it was a chick, meeting Haku for the first time was a little awkward.

As if sensing his eyes on her, the redheaded Sound Ninja glanced over to her nearest teammate. "Let's get the barrier up on the inside, now."

The four ninja erect another barrier, protecting themselves from possible attacks inside the barrier. Sarutobi shrugged his shoulders in disappointment, and looked back at Orochimaru.

"I'm a little disappointed, sensei; I thought you'd be a little more serious given the gravity of your situation." Orochimaru taunted.

Sarutobi narrowed his eyes. "Oh I'm plenty serious, foolish student. But you should reflect on your own dire situation."

"Oh?" Orochimaru let out an effeminate chuckle. "What would that be?"

"You're locked in an inescapable barrier with your teacher, who taught you everything you know, and is already fed up with your asinine crap."

Orochimaru actually recoiled at that, his eyes wide. Sasori looked over to him, wondering what the meaning of that reaction was, until Orochimaru began laughing, sinisterly at first, but then shifting into outright maniacal laughter before he leaned forward and slapped his knee.

"Oh sensei…if anything is improving in your old age, it's your bravado." Orochimaru said before several dozen blurs rushed past him, one of Sasori's secret techniques, relegated for combat against ninja of Sarutobi's caliber.

Sarutobi sniffed. "So this is the One Hundred Puppet Performance." He said as the wave of puppets descended upon him.

"So, Sasuske!" Naruto called to his fellow ninja as they rushed through one of the dense woodlands of Konoha. "Do you have any plans?"

"I have at least three for most situations. And you?" Sasuke replied as he leaped over a branch that attempted to thwart his flight.

Naruto counted on one hand. "At least five, I like to have plans in plans. Kakashi-sensei says that's important. But do any of yours involve the thing trying to kill us right now?"

He gestured back to the One-Tailed Tanuki, or rather the wave of sentient sand that was destroying everything in its path in pursuit of them.

Sasuke looked ahead. "Not at the moment, no."

Naruto was out too, and the Konoha Wall was coming up. "That makes two of us, so we might have to just go all out."

"A full-powered assault?" Sasuke was not so sure about that, for a number of good reasons. "You used a lot of chakra earlier, and we don't have any support. If we can't stop that thing, we're dead."

"Well we're dead running from it, or we're dead fighting it! And don't worry about chakra, I'm good!" Naruto sped up, Sasuke following, and they opened up the distance between themselves and Shukaku, reaching the wall and running up its perfectly vertical slope until they reached the top.

Sasuke drew his ninjato, as Naruto put his glasses back on, and they watched as the advancing horizontal landslide slowed to a halt and then began to transform, ground upward and becoming the massive form of the Shukaku. From the forehead of the beast, Gaara emerged, his wound now fully healed, and his eyes narrowed in rage.

"You…" Gaara's voice was amplified by the beast he was connected to. "…You worthless waste of existence…how dare someone like you…hurt me?"

Naruto frowned. "I really should've severed his spine."

Sasuke agreed. "Yeah, you should've."

"I refuse to let someone like you kill me. I have killed too many people to be erased by a cocky little trickster who can't even save himself; there is no sense in that!" Gaara yelled.

"There's no sense in your logic!" Naruto shouted. "People kill each other all the time; who determines if that makes your existence more valid than anyone else's!"

"He's not going to listen." Sasuke warned. Or worse, he was going to go into some sad sob story.

Gaara smirked. "A recognized ninja is one with a high body count. The more lives you take, the more others will fear you, and if you die, you are only a kill–a notch in another ninja's belt. None of your prior achievements matter."

Naruto growled. "That doesn't make your logic any better! You're just afraid to actually try living!"

"Naruto, please don't give him a hook!" Sasuke complained.

"Afraid?" Gaara snarled back. "I've already tried your weak way of living, of relying on and loving others, but no one wanted to love me. They only saw me for the monster I was named." Gaara brought his hand to his forehead. "I am only a demon who loves myself, my own love is all that I need, the only thing I need from you is your blood-!"

Gaara's sand suddenly swirled up behind him and narrowly blocked a scroll aimed at the back of his head. Looking back, he saw a Naruto clone perform the release, and the scroll turned into a massive drum filled with gunpowder and explosive tags.

"Naruto Uzumaki you bas-!"

The explosion that followed flattened any nearby tree still standing and created a mushroom cloud. Hiding on the other side of the wall, Sasuke and Naruto shared a bro-fist.

"Using Gaara's own mental issues and self-obsessed behavior to distract him as we formulate and execute a plan…Naruto, you are a genius." Sasuke said.

"Yep." Naruto replied as he adjusted his glasses.

Temari opened her fan, revealing all three circles across it as she glared with all of her hatred at Tenten. "You, don't think because you got a lucky kill that you'll be able to beat me!" It hurt to refer to Baki like that, but she was a ninja in the heat of battle, emotions had to be suppressed.

Tenten scratched the bridge of her nose as she kept twirling around her flying guillotine. "Shut up, I'm here to pay you back."

Temari clenched her teeth. "You seem to forget last time!" She swung her fan, displacing the air and creating a massive tornado that bored straight to Tenten, who wisely flickered away from its path. Landing on another rooftop Tenten tossed away the guillotine and pulled out several throwing stars.

Seeing this, Temari grimaced. "You really did forget." Something large landed behind Tenten, as Temari added. "And it gets worse for you. You're not just fighting me."

Tenten didn't even have a chance to look back as the blades of Kankuro's formerly wrapped ninja puppet Karasu impaled her through her heart with its equipped blades and lifted her off the ground. Behind Temari's fan, Kankuro smirked as he twitched his fingers, and the puppet threw Tenten to the ground.

Temari frowned, as Tenten's body promptly turned into a log. Behind Karasu, Tenten glared at Shino as he stood up from saving her. "Aburame, why…?"

"Draw the cow away; I want to have my fight." Shino replied calmly, none too happy about a lot of things at the moment and becoming unhappier by the second.

Tenten got up and dusted herself off. "Do you think you can even take him?"

"Oh I've already won, I just want to savor the victory and I can't do that with you idiots menstruating at each other." Shino replied.

Tenten recoiled a bit. "You're a little rude."

Shino sighed. "I'm really aggravated right now."

"That makes two of us." Tenten looked back at Temari and Kankuro, as the puppet withdrew. "They're not dumb though, they're not going to put themselves in a situation where they can't support each other."

"Then let's give them what they want, do you have an actual plan for her?" Shino asked.

Tenten sniffed "Yes, but I'll need an open space."

"Alright, I'll help you and distract the other one." Shino got ready. "They're going to attack now."

Both ninja quickly flickered, dodging the tornado that Temari launched at them. "Seriously, what's with these Konoha idiots?"

"They're idiots, but don't lower your guard." Kankuro warned her as he urged Karasu to move. "The Aburame kid wants to fight me, so I'll give him more than he can bargain for."

"Yeah, yeah." Temari quickly disappeared, and reappeared on another rooftop, in front of Tenten. "Hey."

Tenten rapidly shot back from her, and threw a pair of kunai at her. Both weapons were deflected effortlessly. "You know," Temari said as she swung her fan, "Stupidity is defined as performing the same failing task repeatedly and expecting a different result!"

She swung her fan again, the air pressure ripping apart the roof as Tenten evaded again, jumping to a higher rooftop. Swinging it the other way, she created an even bigger pressure wave, clearing the air in front of her briefly before it shattered the face of the building Tenten had landed on.

"That's insanity, you idiot!" Tenten yelled back, before a shadow fell over her. Looking up, she quickly dodged out of the way of Temari as she dropped out of the sky and attempted to use her fan as a club.

Tenten grinned and threw several throwing stars. "Got you!"

They seemed to arc around Temari as she got up and raced at the Konoha Genin. "No, got you."

She swung the closed fan, air circulating it like a blade, but missed as Tenten intentionally tripped on the edge of the roof and flipped down top land on a lower roof. Turning, she leaped and landed on an even lower roof, only three stories above the ground.

Tenten looked back up at Temari and gestured for her to come get her. Temari was not amused. "Cheeky little bitch."

She simply used another wind blast technique to level the building entirely, and quickly tracked Tenten leaping back and forth between the walls of nearby buildings. As she watched her go, she immediately realized her error. "crap, where'd the other one go?"

A buzzing alerted her, and she banished the swarm of insects that tried to converge on her from above with her fan. Tossed about by the wind, the insect swarm quickly regrouped and converged towards her again before she turned and fled. She looked around, Aburame were the masters of sitting back and letting their bugs fight for them, the little punk could be anywhere. She had to keep moving and hoped that Kankuro was watching her back.

"Where did you go, Leaf bitch?" She quickly spotted Tenten, still fleeing for the edges of the buildings, and bolted after her. "There you go!"

Kankuro grimaced as he scanned his surroundings, he too was moving from roof to roof, knowing full well how dangerous an Aburame ninja could be. Keeping Karasu a step ahead of that Leaf kunoichi while looking out for the Aburame's bugs was taxing, but unlike Temari, he hadn't lost track of him. In fact, he knew exactly where he was hiding.

As he ran across a particularly broad apartment rooftop, he suddenly yanked on his puppet's chakra strings, throwing Karasu through the air and over his head. The puppet fell over the side of the building to the right, and suddenly opened its arms in the narrow gap, stopping its fall. From every joint and juncture in the puppet's body, thick poison gas spewed outward and just as quickly Shino flung himself from the cloud, his arm covering his mouth.

"Poison Gas!" Shino coughed out landed on the roof opposite of Kankuro, trying to expel the potent gas, but to the Sand Ninja it was already apparent that it was too late.

Kankuro frowned. "Is that it, really?"

Karasu landing alongside him, Kankuro followed Shino along the trail of dead insects that he left as he began to hobble away, wobbling and coughing as the poison began its slow effect. He really didn't have time to watch him die; there was a lot more to do, and a lot more Konoha Ninja to kill.

"You talked that crap before, and now look at you." Kankuro said as he sent Karasu towards Shino. "Nothing personal, kid, but you were dead from the moment you thought you could take me."

Extending its poison coated wrist-mounted blades; Karasu lunged towards Shino and promptly stabbed him in the back with both, right through the heart. Feigning a grimace, Kankuro had Karasu stab him again to make sure, except that Karasu didn't move. "What the…?"

His chakra strings vanished, and he looked down to see many swarms of insects all over his arms, and his shoulders. Eyes widening, he looked down and saw that the trail of dead insects was gone…no…it was now crawling all over his body!

"The Aburame Clan's Destruction Beetles are specially bred and cultivated to survive most poisons." Shino said, as he landed next to Kankuro, having finally emerged from his hiding place. "Yours is nothing new to them."

Kankuro looked from Shino to the one he had Karasu stab, and was horrified to see it crumble away into many bugs. "A clone made of bugs…?"

He tried to move, but he couldn't, his strength was being sapped away by the voracious beetles. He looked up at Shino, who stared down at him. "If you had fought me during our match, maybe you would've learned something to prepare yourself for this. Naruto was right; you Sand Ninja are extremely stupid."

Kankuro swore under his breath. "It doesn't matter now, once Gaara is finished with your friend, nothing's stopping him from…" Shino interrupted him with a heel to his jaw.

"Shut up and die quietly, it shouldn't take long now." Shino said. "I want to savor my victory."

Tenten leaped off a roof and fell towards the ground, landing in a tumble and coming to a halt in a grassy clearing across the street from the buildings, which lead into dense woodland. Staring at the trees, she turned around and grew wide-eyed as Temari hurtled down towards her, her fan raised above her head.

Immediately Tenten drew a scroll, but before she could unseal it, Temari swung her fan, creating a massive pressure wave that crushed Tenten flat, and left a wide dent in the grassy ground. As the winds spread across the clearing, Temari landed at the edge of the depression, and closed her fan.

Panting, Temari walked over to Tenten, who let out a groan as she tried to get up. Temari drew a kunai, as she stepped closer to the injured kunoichi. Normally, a quick slice to the throat would be the end of it. But she was angry; this dumb little crap after all killed her teacher.

Grabbing Tenten by one of her hair buns, she hoisted the injured girl up. "You think that because you got lucky once, that you're hot crap?" She punched Tenten in the face with the hand that gripped the kunai. "I've got news for you, little girl, a ninja who can't adapt to a situation and come up with something new is a dead one." She punched her again, and Tenten yelled in pain. "The only reason you're even still alive." She punched once more. "Is because of those guys on your team!"

She punched her again. "You're dead weight!"

Another punch. "You're a useless lump with nothing going for her but a bunch of weapons you can't even use right!"

Yet another punch and Tenten was thrown onto her back. Unable to contain her anger, Temari looked at the kunai, before tossing it aside and redrawing her fan. "There's no way trash like you should've been able to kill Baki!"

She stopped, as she raised her weapon, and went wide-eyed. Tenten's body had begun to rapidly decay. No, not decay…disintegrate into countless hundreds, thousands of the Aburame Clan's insects. In the same instant that the horrified realization dawned on her, the end of a katana emerged from her stomach.

Behind her, holding the sword, Tenten leaned against Temari's back. "I'll admit that you beat me fair and square before, but unlike some idiots, I learn from my defeats."

She shoved Temari off her sword, and the injured Sand Kunoichi staggered forward…before exploding into a log. Tenten's eyes went wide, as the real Temari, up in the trees, aimed and swung her fan, creating a focused tornado that engulfed Tenten and all but ripped her to shreds, the blades of wind tearing her cloths, lacerating her skin, and undoing one of her hair buns before it ceased, leaving the Leaf Ninja to fall to one knee, supported on her sword.

Temari shook her head. "Learn all you want, read a whole freaking library for all I care! You're not good enough to beat me!"

Tenten pushed herself up, and began to laugh. "You're right…I'm not good enough." She looked down at the sword and the blood from her wounds running down it. "Compared to powerhouses like Lee, and the real geniuses like Neji, and guys like Naruto who just seem to thrive no matter what…I'm pretty much nothing."

She looked up at Temari. "I feel like a placeholder, sometimes, like I'm only there on my Genin team to round out everything. I'm not even given a tenth of the attention my sensei gives to his hard-worker and his genius…so it's only fitting that I didn't make the cut."

Something wasn't right; Temari could feel it, as chakra began to waft from Temari's body. "But I don't want to be a placeholder…I want to be a strong ninja…a great ninja. I'd do anything to become that…"

Temari's eyes widened, as what looked like fire began to radiate outward across Tenten's skin from under her shirt, and the chakra radiating from her turned a noxious violet. "What is this…?"

The fire crawled up her neck and over her face, all the way up to her hairline, where it burned brightly and then dulled into vertical black marks. Tenten then smiled a broad, sickening smile as she felt the tainted power course through her chakra paths. "…I'd even sell my body."

Tenten was suddenly gone, just not there anymore. The tree Temari stood upon then exploded, or rather was sliced with such force that it flew apart. She had barely recovered in mid-air, when Tenten appeared before her and kicked her in the face, sending her crashing into the ground and tumbling along the grass.

Hurtling towards the ground, Tenten quickly summoned a pair of weighted chains and threw them, the weights looping around Temari's arms from her elbows to her shoulders. Landing, Tenten yanked on the chains and swung Temari around, laughing as the Sand kunoichi slammed roughly into the side of another tree shoulder first, a sickening crack sounding from the impact.

Tightening her hold on the chains, Tenten laughed as Temari hit the ground, stunned by the force of the impact. "Hey, was that your shoulder? It sounded like it. Which part, the clavicle or scapula, or maybe both?"

She began dragging Temari towards her, giggling. "Either way it must really hurt, huh? HUH?"

Lifting Temari off the ground, she swung the captured kunoichi over her head and slammed her down onto the ground, making sure she landed on the injured arm. Temari screamed from the impact, and looked back up at Tenten. What was going on with this one? When did she get this kind of strength?

Tenten swung Temari around again, but this time threw her up and over a branch. As Temari fell towards the ground, Tenten cut the slack, stopping her from hitting the ground but making sure most of the force was carried to her broken arm. As Temari screamed in pain, Tenten used her katana to secure the two chains into the ground, stabbing through the loops and leaving her hanging in the air at just above eye level.

Tenten stepped back as Temari looked down at her, her vision blurred by both anger and pain. Her fan was lying on the ground, Temari having lost it when Tenten attacked violently, it was no matter. With her arm busted, and her hands immobilized above her head she couldn't do anything.

"Now then…let's have our rematch, shall we?" She pulled out four shurikens. "Let's start with a warm up."

She then threw them straight for Temari's defenseless body.

The explosion that Naruto and Sasuke had set off had caught a lot of attention. In the streets of Konoha, amidst the bodies of Sand and Sound mooks, a blood drenched Sakura looked up and at the mushroom cloud billowing over the edge of the village perimeter. Behind her, his fist still inserted in the skull of another unlucky ninja, Lee reacted with his usual over the top manner.

"Naruto! Sasuke!" He ripped his hand out of the corpse's skull and flicked the brain matter off his fingers. "I hope they're alright!"

"Knowing Naruto-san, he likely caused it." Hinata said as she flicked the blood from one of her fans, much like Sakura and Lee, she was splattered in the blood of her opponents from head to toe. It was going to be such a bother to get the stains from her mask.

Shikamaru, not so much as a speck of blood on his clothes, leaned back against the wall of the building whose shadow he used to capture the slaughtered ninja. Ambush tactics were fun. "Come on guys, did you have to use that much force? These ninja were bleeders."

"It's not every day we get to rip people to shreds, you know." Sakura picked up the head of a ninja Hinata decapitated. "Wow, this is a really clean cut. You know, I have been looking for a place to store my bottle caps."

"Ugh…why the Hell is Naruto attracted to you?" Shikamaru asked.

Watching the mushroom cloud billow, Shino looked down at Kankuro, who was slowly suffering. "Hey, I think that Gaara guy you were talking about before is done."

"Mother…fugherrrr…" Kankuro groaned.

Standing over a heap of Sound ninja corpses in the stands of the arena, Mikoto folded her arms and shook her head. "Those boys…I'm glad Sarutobi didn't put them on the same team."

There wouldn't be much of a Konoha left before long, in that case.

Haku tossed another corpse on the pile. "You Konoha Ninja are all very scary."

Down at ground zero, Naruto and Sasuke leaped from the wall and onto some of the very few trees still standing after the explosion. Naruto looked over to Sasuke. "Why did you even have that thing in a scroll?"

"My brother Itachi says that you should plan for every contingency. Who knows when you might need the explosive equivalent of ten-thousand pounds of black powder?"

"Your brother is so cool."

"I know, man."

They looked at the sand that laid everywhere, before Naruto spoke. "Well, he's still alive, that's good."

"Yes, if we'd have killed him Shukaku would be rampaging all over the place." Sasuke scanned the sands. "Where is he, though?"

Naruto frowned. "Can't you use your Sharingan?"

"Not now, no. I promised not to." Sasuke wasn't about to break his vow to his mother unless absolutely necessary.

"I see…" Naruto stopped when he saw the sand shift. "I think he's waking up."

Both Konoha Genin were on their guard in an instant, as the shifting became more pronounced. Then the earth started shaking to the tune of a deep, deranged chuckle. In front of the two ninja, the sands swirled and swelled, coalescing and taking the form of the one-tailed Shukaku once again. However, it was frighteningly clear to both that things were going to be different this time.

"I'M FINALLY FREE! YES!" Shukaku screamed.

Naruto made a mental note to write down ten thousand pounds of black powder under "list of things that will most certainly kill a demon container".

Shukaku then looked down at them both. Sasuke and Naruto wisely turned and ran for their lives. "Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap…!"

"Look at that, I'm free, and already there's people to kill." Shukaku said cheerfully before opening his mouth wide. "DRILLING AIR BULLET!"

Both Ninja disappeared from the path of the attack, which punched through the same wall that withstood the energy of five tons of explosives like it was a thin sheet of rice paper. Reappearing near that same hole, Naruto and Sasuke looked up at Shukaku, who was preparing another attack.

"RUN!" Naruto yelled before he and Sasuke were forced to flicker away from another Air Bullet. They had to run, and fast, but there was NO way they could lead this thing back towards Konoha.

They changed direction, going straight up the wall to avoid anorther Air Bullet, and quickly reached the top of the now crumbling section of wall. Roaring savagely, Shukaku pounced on both, only to miss and smash completely through the village's wall. Tumbling along the top of the wall, Naruto jumped up as Sasuke slid to a halt past him.

"Of all the time to feel like a Genin…" He groaned as the thrashing beast of sand got back up onto its feet, and raised its tail to swing down on them. Both he and Sasuke turned and jumped back off the wall, falling away from it as the tail cleaved clean through it, sending boulders and rocks falling towards them.

Grabbing hold of a house-sized boulder, Naruto scrambled and ran across it before leaping to into the air. Twisting his body in the air, he quickly performed a hand seal, and lit up the Chidori. Swinging his arm, he sliced through another boulder and kicked off another rock to avoid an Air Bullet that vaporized it.

As Naruto fell through the air, Sasuke kicked off another falling and both Ninja landed hard on the ground after, sliding along the sand and looking up at Shukaku as it grasped the destroyed edges of the wall and peered in, growling loudly.

Outside of the few times he ever saw his parents angry about something, and when Shisui told him about the time he saw Itachi ever get angry about something, Sasuke was pretty sure he'd never seen anything more worthy of inducing the phrase "I'm screwed".

Sasuke looked over to Naruto, who was slowly getting back up, and then back at the Shukaku. "We don't have a choice; we'll have to go all out, won't we?"

"Yeah." Naruto replied as Shukaku opened his mouth. Streams of sand began to escape his body, and swirl towards his opened maw, coming together to form a large ball of sand that quickly began growing in size and density. "Oh no, that can't be good."

Sasuke's eyes widened. "No, no it can't. Naruto, whatever you have in mind…do it before it does whatever it's about to do!"

Naruto performed hand seals, and began performing what Sasuke realized was a simple chakra concentration exercise. "Alright Sasuke, I need you to distract him for about…thirty seconds."

Thirty seconds? There was only one thing Sasuke could possibly think to do in thirty seconds, returning his gaze to the Shukaku, he closed his eyes.

Reaching the top of the arena, Mikoto, Haku, and several other Uchiha police stopped and stared at the Shukaku, and the posture it was in. Her Mangekyo Sharingan zooming in, Mikoto was filled with dread as she saw the sand collecting near its mouth. "It's about to use the Tailed Beast Bomb!"

Haku looked at Mikoto. "The what?"

"The attack that is about to destroy Konoha and kill every living thing in it." One of the Uchiha, Shisui, clarified.

"We need to get out there before it can fire it, a pair of Genin by themselves won't be able to stop it!" Yet another Uchiha declared.

Mikoto wasn't sure if there'd be any time for it, they'd likely be killed before even getting halfway to where the Shukaku was. There really was only one hope to stopping it from happening. "Sasuke…" She narrowed her eyes. "…Use it."

Naruto's teeth were bared and clenched as he struggled to convert as much chakra into stamina as possible, when he noticed black streams running down Sasuke's cheeks out the corner of his eyes. Looking over, he recoiled in surprise when he saw that Sasuke was bleeding from his closed eyes, black blood no less.

"Yes, yes…hold still for a little longer…" Shukaku growled gleefully, before he noticed what was happening on Sasuke's face. "Wait…blood? No, you're not a…!"

"Uh, Sasuke…?" Naruto murmured before Sasuke opened his eyes and a black flame like the one they encountered in the forest of death suddenly erupted all over Shukaku's face. "Whoa!"

The effects of the flames were instantaneous, scattering the dense sands as Shukaku roared and recoiled, trying to beat the flames from his face. "AHH! YOU ARE! AN UCHIHA! YOU HAVE THOSE EYES!"

"That's right! This is the Mangekyo Sharingan, the eyes you beasts fear!" Sasuke yelled as more blood leaked from around his eyes and even denser flames struck Shukaku as he shed a layer of sand, immediately setting him ablaze all over again.

"DAMN YOU, DAMN YOU UCHIHA!" His own eyes shut tightly now, Shukaku wildly fired a Drilling Air Bullet, which missed Naruto and Sasuke, but was close enough to knock them both down.

Getting back up, Sasuke shook his head. "Naruto! Thirty seconds are up!"

"Just a little more!" Naruto yelled, as chakra began to flare around him.

Shukaku fired again, and this time Sasuke's Amaterasu met the deadly air blast head on, feeding on it and erupting into a massive black fireball that looked like a giant ball of inky smoke to those watching the battle from afar.

"No, Amaterasu didn't work!" Shisui gasped.

Mikoto froze in fright. "Sasuke you have to look the beast in the eyes…"

Haku clasped his hands together, as though to pray. "Naruto…"

The force of the backlash sent Sasuke and Naruto flying back from Shukaku, the former crashing into a tree as the latter landed and walked backward a few paces before stopping himself.

"OW!" Sasuke yelled before he slid down from the tree and clutched his back. Wiping the blood from his other arm, he looked up at Shukaku as the flames of Amaterasu dissipated in the air, the beast now looming over them, its eyes still shut. "Ah, crap."

It chuckled ominously, as it got up on all four legs, the sand of its body forming a sea of it beneath the tailed beast. "YOU WON'T TRICK ME WITH THOSE EYES!"

He opened his gaping maw wide, and began collecting sand in front of it. "I'LL WIPE YOU ALL OUT HERE AT ONCE!"

Naruto stepped up, as Shukaku's sand began to collect at its mouth again, and he looked to Sasuke. "You okay?"

"Whatever you've got, do it!" Sasuke looked back. Behind them was Konoha, and if whatever that thing was about to do fired, it would hit the village.

Naruto nodded, and broke into a run, straight towards Shukaku, before he disappeared in a body flicker. Shukaku felt something on his nose, and his eyes opened for him to see Naruto standing on his snout, grinning as he pushed his glasses up into place with his middle finger.

"Let's step out for a moment." He said. An instant later, Naruto, the Shukaku, and almost all the sand that had pooled around it were gone.

Sasuke blinked as he performed a double-take. "Wait. What."

The reaction was the same back at the arena, as the spectators to was surely their doom gave a start as the harbinger of said doom vanished without so much as a puff of smoke. Haku gasped. "Where did it go?"

It took Mikoto a few seconds, and blinks of confusion, to grasp entirely what just happened, and she smiled. "…Ah…Naruto used that jutsu."

Blood dripped to the ground beneath Temari, from the numerous wounds that Tenten had inflicted using her as target practice. Kunai, shurikens, even a few sickles jutted from her body, having been thrown into her with excruciating precision by Tenten, who now lay on the ground in an unconscious heap. Over the out-cold Genin, Jiraiya examined her body, and the cursed seal located on her body, just below her collarbone. Three curved arrows, forming a continuous counterclockwise loop.

"Yes, definitely Orochimaru's work, but why did he mark you, and why did you let him do it?" That would have to be answered after he got the seal properly wrapped up. "You're both lucky I was on my way from beating down those summons that tried to get through the wall, you'd both be dead by now." He said as he stood up and walked over to Temari, who he had freed from the chains.

Temari tried to lift her head to look at the man, but moving her neck agitated her shoulder, which she held with her good hand. "Why are you sparing me?"

Jiraiya just smiled. "I'm not one to harm a pretty woman who's suffered enough. Besides, your little war is about over, it's time to pack it in and start cleaning up."

Temari looked around then, and listened. The cacophony of weapons and the occasional jutsu was no longer present; there was nothing more than a dead calm. "What…? It's over?"

"Yes. It's been over; all that's left is for the Hokage to wrap up the mastermind of your little plot." Jiraiya said as he began to administer first aid to Temari.

Temari narrowed her eyes. "The Hokage's old and over the hill, he won't be able to defeat the Kazekage."

Jiraiya looked at her, surprised. "Wait you didn't know?"

"Know what?"

"The Kazekage's dead, he's been dead for a while now."

Temari looked aghast. "F-Father?"

Sasori was certainly surprised. He'd never seen anyone fight off the One Hundred Puppet Performance successfully before, not only that but destroy many of them in the process. Orochimaru didn't look it, but he was surprised as well, he didn't think that Sarutobi could pull off such a feat. Sarutobi, definitely not showing it, was surprised that an army of low-level Ninja Monkey Summons could be so useful against puppets. Seriously, who knew?

"Well, that was embarrassing." Sarutobi called to Sasori.

Sasori was affronted. "You destroyed my-."

"Shut up." Sarutobi said as Enma scratched his back with a puppet's limb next to him. "I'm running low on blood pills, it's the middle of the afternoon when I should be having a smoke, and Orochimaru is the one who's come to kill me, not you, you little tag-along brat!"

Sasori recoiled. "You destroyed my pup-!"

Sarutobi threw Enma at him. When Enma hit Sasori, the invincible monkey king was the size of a house. "I said shut up."

As Sasori and Enma began to do battle, Orochimaru chuckled. "Your age is showing, Sarutobi. You sound cranky and feeble; it must be so painful to be so old."

"Painful?" Sarutobi chuckled. "For someone afraid to embrace their mortality, you're acting like you know what I'm going through."

Orochimaru and Sarutobi began walking up the side of the roof and to its top, away from Sasori and Enma's battle. "It's easy to see it; it's weathered into your face, your body. You're sixty-nine years old, Sarutobi; you're not the spry young warrior you once were." They reached the top, overlooking Konoha and the smoke and flames that rose in various parts of it. "You know, that even at the peak of your health…you'd be hard-pressed to defeat me, especially in this younger, livelier body."

Sarutobi stared at Orochimaru, and reached into his Hokage's robes. Rather than throw them off to reveal his battle gear, he simply pulled out his pipe, packed it, lit it, and took a puff. "You're right, Orochimaru. I'm old, but you see…I deserve to be."

"Sixty-nine, ah, what a wonderful number." Sarutobi chuckled perversely. "I've lived longer than most shinobi dream of reaching. I even retired from this hat on my head, how many Kage can do that? None, you get your kunai pension or you cling to the hat like some other old bastards almost as good as I am."

In Iwagakure, one such bastard sneezed and threw out his back.

"Do you know what I've done in the majority of my sixty-nine years to get to this point, Orochimaru? The same thing every other ninja does, but I did it better. I've fought and killed ninja that would make you piss your pants in fear–and have, I've gotten higher and drunker than Tsunade could ever claim, and I've plowed the finest kunoichi tail that Jiraiya could only write about striking out against. Hell, I still do!"

Orochimaru didn't seem at all affected by this speech, but Sarutobi continued. "I've lived a long, eventful life, I have no regrets about what I've done and if I were to die tomorrow do you know what? I'll be fine with it, because I'll be surrounded by an entire village that I've watched grow and flourish, and loves and idolizes me damn near unconditionally."

"Oh, but…" Orochimaru's spitefully malevolent retort was cut off.

"BUT…I'm not dying tomorrow, today, or anytime in the near future." Sarutobi turned his back to Orochimaru. "That is because you are an idiot, my foolish pupil."

Orochimaru grew tired of this, and prepared some hand seals. Sarutobi again interrupted him. "You do realize that this barrier is on the roof of a building, yes?"

The Snake Sannin stopped, and his eyes widened. At that moment, there was the sound of wood splintering and ceramic shattering, before four ANBU erupted through the floor underneath the four ninja holding the barrier up, their uppercuts aimed directly between their legs. The four barrier ninja screamed in pain as the barrier fell, and three of them fell off the roof.

"Weasel, your hand!" The cat-masked, purple-haired ANBU cried in horror as "Weasel" stared at his target, which was unable to scream because of…catastrophic trauma to the nether region.

Weasel looked over to Cat. "I missed."

"Kill. Me. You. Asshole." The red-headed female ninja gasped. Weasel just removed his hand and kicked her off the roof.

"Nice." Sarutobi said before turning to face a completely stunned Orochimaru.

"But how, the barrier shouldn't have been able to fall like that." Orochimaru hissed, before he looked at the hands of the ANBU. They wore wooden gauntlets, and he smiled in realization. "Oh, I see…so the First's DNA…"

"Yes." A third ANBU declared, also wearing a Cat mask. "But that's the least of your concerns."

"Agreed." The fourth ANBU, Kabuto behind his eagle mask, spoke. "Weasel, we will protect the Hokage, would you do the honors?"

"Of course." Weasel said as he removed his mask, revealing the face of Itachi Uchiha, his eyes shut. Opening them, he revealed the dazzling horror of the Mangekyo Sharingan to Orochimaru. "Orochimaru-sama…I've heard a rumor that you were responsible for my brother gaining these eyes. Are you too afraid to try taking mine now?"

Sasori managed to escape Enma, the hunchback puppet master looking worse for wear. "I hate monkeys."

Orochimaru smiled to Itachi and chuckled. "Well, well…it seems my original goal was achieved. No bonus, but I'm a patient man, unlike Sarutobi here…I've got a long life ahead of me to wait."

Before he could toss down a smoke bomb or create some other distraction to escape with, Orochimaru was slammed through the roof of the building all the way to the ground floor, by Sarutobi's fist.

"Guh…grkh…" Orochimaru stared up at Sarutobi in disbelief.

"You thought I wasn't going to get you, didn't you? Stupid, stupid student, remember who trained you." Crushing Orochimaru further into the ruined floor, he pulled out a kunai with a seal written on it, and jammed it into Orochimaru's right hand. Pulling out another, he did the same to his left and performed a series of increasingly complex and unusual hand seals before he clapped his hands together. To the Sannin's surprise, the flesh of his arms went dead, turning purple up to the elbows.

"Sarutobi, you…!" Sarutobi stepped on Orochimaru's throat, silencing him.

"I've sealed your arms, so now you can't use the precious little jutsu you've wanted to live a long time to learn." He said to Orochimaru. "You're still my student, and I refuse to kill one when he can learn something from his beating. So here's your lesson for today that you can share with the rest of your little Pain-Boy Fan Club: Do not start a fight with Konoha. You will lose."

He then removed his foot, and stepped back. "Now run, get out of my village and flee like the death-fearing little bitch you are."

Orochimaru stared at Sarutobi, in disbelief. Getting up, he glared at his former master, before Itachi and Kabuto joined the Hokage's side, daring him to try anything. All at once, Orochimaru felt like the fool that Sarutobi had been calling him since this all began, and he bit the inside of his cheek to quell his anger.

"Bye." Itachi chimed in.

Backing away, all the wind punched out of his sails, Orochimaru called to Sasori. "This operation is over, we're leaving this place."

And with that, he was gone.

As Akatsuki retreated, Sarutobi graciously accepted his pipe from the sole kunoichi of the four ANBU ninja and took a pipe. "This is just about wrapped up, where's the Shukaku?"

"Near the edge of the village, but apparently it's vanished into thin-air." Kabuto reported.

Sarutobi chewed on the end of his pipe and hummed. "It must've been that jutsu."

Itachi became wide-eyed. "That jutsu?"

"…What jutsu, you mean the Flying Thunder God technique?" Kabuto asked.

An awkward silence ensued, as the reveal was unrevealed with a lack of drama to it. Sarutobi coughed. "Yes, that Jutsu, the only question that remains is…where did Naruto take the beast?"

A few days' walk from Konoha, in Wave Country, Inari sat in a small fishing boat with his Grandfather, that bobbed in the calm waters near a small, desolate island, their lines cast over the sides. Little had changed since Team Seven had killed Gato and liberated their country, the prosperity was flowing like wine, and most of the village was still pretty harsh on him for trying to sell everyone out. His Grandfather had forgiven him, understanding that he was just an idiot kid who had lost all hope, but it was still hard to go out without getting dirty looks.

"You know, Inari." Tazuna said. Inari looked over to his Grandfather, who continued. "You're getting to be the minimum age required for a Ninja Academy student, and the Village is still looking to increase its numbers."

Inari looked out towards the island, his stupid hat hiding his eyes from his Grandfather. "Why should I become a Ninja?"

"Well, after the super job those Leaf Ninja did, don't you want to try being like them?" Tazuna put forward.

Inari snorted. "So they killed Gato, they were still a bunch of violent, foul-mouth idiots, and one of them called Mom a whore."

Well that's because she was a whore, but Tazuna wasn't going to break that to his grandson, he needed enough therapy as it was. "I hate them," Inari continued, "What's so amazing about ninja anyway? They're just hired thugs like Gato's."

At that very moment, Shukaku appeared on the empty mangrove island in front of them, thrashing around wildly as Naruto held on for dear life on the Tailed Beast's nose. His tail toppled every tree on the island with a single swipe, as he clawed at his face, gouging away the sand that made it up to get at Naruto.

Thrown from Shukaku, Naruto landed on the island and looked up at the giant critter. As he took a step back, he noticed that the island's was swampy, almost inundated with water. He'd noticed this back when he dropped a formula seal here in case he wanted to quick travel and visit Tazuna and his family again. He complained about it before, but now he was praising the powers that be for this.

"WHERE AM I? WHERE DID YOU TAKE US YOU WRETCHED SHIT?" Shukaku demanded as Naruto jumped back a safe distance from the tailed beast, ending up at the shore of the island in plain sight of Tazuna and Inari.

"It's that brat fighting that super beast!" Tazuna gasped, as Inari just stared in disbelief.

Naruto took a deep breath, he didn't know for sure where all this stamina was coming from, but damn if he wasn't going to use every bit of it for this final blow. "MULTIPLE SHADOW CLONE JUTSU!"

One immense cloud of smoke, and there were hundred of Naruto clones surrounding Shukaku. Roaring, Shukaku raised two claws and slammed them down, creating numerous clouds of smoke as the others scattered, and began running counter-clockwise around Shukaku as fast as they could. Rearing back, Shukaku observed this all with curiosity…until they all performed the same hand seals and ignited the Chidori, the speed at which the clones ran and the electricity they generated creating a large glowing blue ring around the tailed beast.

"What's he doing to it?" Tazuna asked, before the entire went up, the wet earth conducting the electrical chakra straight into the sand body of Shukaku, who began roaring in pain.

Inari's mouth hung open. "He's beating up that huge monster…"

"AHHHH! YOU BRAT!" Shukaku screamed as the electricity froze him in place. "I'LL KILL YOU! I'LL KILL YOU!"

Opening his mouth, he fired an Air Drilling Bullet into the ground, creating a gigantic explosion that kicked up a huge cloud of steam, mud, and falling rock on the island. The clones were destroyed by the blast, as Naruto himself was thrown into the shallow water off the shore.

Sitting up in the water, Naruto looked up at Shukaku, as electricity continued to crackle over its body. Looking down at him, the beast grinned savagely. "THAT'S ALL YOU'VE GOT!"


Naruto lifted his hands to perform another jutsu…when he noticed that Shukaku had stopped moving. "Huh?"

Shukaku stood there, frozen like a statue, bits of sand falling from the tips of its claws and the end of its mangled teeth. "Oh, now what?"

Without warning, Shukaku began to crumble away, collapsing and disintegrating into a rapidly falling pile of sand that spread out to cover the entire island and the surrounding ocean. Tazuna and Inari had to hold onto their hats and cover their mouths as the wave of sand washed over the surface of the water, and rocked their boat violently. When the sand cleared, and Naruto pulled himself out of it, it revealed Gaara standing in the middle of the island where Shukaku had been.

"I guess ten-thousand pounds of black powder really can't kill a demon container." Naruto was now curious at how much more he had to actually use, but that would have to wait for later as Gaara walked over to him, some extra sand reforming the iconic gourd on his back. "…Ah…"

"I…owe you an apology." Gaara said quietly.

Naruto blinked. "Huh? What?"

Gaara walked past Naruto, and looked out at the muddy waters that surrounded the mangrove island. "I was wrong."

"Wrong, you mean about the whole killing people to prove your existence and you loving yourself thing? Well of course you were." Naruto quipped.

Gaara nodded. "When you attacked me, I almost died. I saw my life flash before my eyes, and I experienced a memory from the moment I was born."

"What, really?" Wow, he and Sasuke must've hit Gaara harder than they thought.

"I saw my mother." Gaara said. "The first thing she ever said to me was how feeble and small I was, but then she said that she'd always protect me."

He brushed his fingers over the gourd on his back. "Someone once told me, that this sand wasn't the demon inside me, but my mother's will…the sign of her love protecting me. That person later betrayed me, and said that my mother hated me, and died cursing my name. But…"

He closed his eyes. "…She loved me."

Naruto nodded and smirked. "My parents died when I was a baby, but the old man, the Hokage always told me that they loved me with all their heart, and they died to protect me."

Gaara nodded. "You as well? Then your Hokage is a better man than my Father is."

Was, he was probably dead by now if he went head to head with Sarutobi, Gold Dust power or not. That reminded him. "Oh man, I gotta get back there! The war's still going on."

"Go ahead, you helped me. I have no quarrel with you." Gaara said.

Naruto smiled. "Then let's get back now!"

Resting a hand on Gaara's shoulder, he held out a hand and performed a one-handed seal. In the next instant, they were standing behind Hinata, their sudden appearance causing Shikamaru, Lee, and Sakura to jump. Hinata jumped as well, because Naruto's hand was now resting on her backside.

"W-what is he doing here?" Shikamaru yelled as he pointed at Gaara, as Sakura and Lee assumed fighting stances. Hinata removed her mask and looked back.

"Oh, me and Sasuke beat him, and snapped him out of being all murderous and stuff!" Naruto patted Gaara on the shoulder. "We hit him so hard that he had a life-changing revelation!"

Sakura went sparkly eyed. "You can hit someone that hard?"

"We're still in the middle of a war!" Shikamaru pointed out.

"No we're not." Kakashi said as he, Asuma, Gai, and Team Eight's Jonin Instructor, the hauntingly beautiful Kurenai Yuuhi appeared. "The war's over, ANBU and the Military Police are securing the village."

Lee grinned. "We won! This is most excellent!"

"Shannaro! Konoha uber alles!" Sakura cheered as she hugged Shikamaru happily.

"What about the Hokage? Is he okay?" Naruto asked.

Kakashi hummed. "Konoha hospital, he was in rough shape, but the Doctors say he'll be fine."

"Full of piss and vinegar as usual." Kurenai lamented.

Asuma chuckled. "I'm telling him you said that next time we break up."

Kakashi looked over to Gaara. "Will you come peacefully?" Gaara nodded, and Kakashi was pleased. "Good, then we can wrap this up."

It was evening in Konoha, the cicadas and evening birds were singing, when Kankuro woke up screaming in a bed in the Konoha hospital and trying to shake the bugs that weren't there off him. Temari was sitting in a chair in front of the bed, her arm in a sling and covered in bandages, rolling her eyes at Kankuro's panic. Gaara was standing next to the bed, providing an even more traumatic experience to Kankuro, who fell out of the bed with another girlish squeal.

"What happened, where am I? Gaara! Temari!" He hauled himself up onto the bed, panting.

"Stop panicking, we're in Konoha Hospital. The battle ended." Temari said.

Kankuro stared at her, and then looked around. "Did…did we win?"

"No. Our village's army was annihilated, Sound's army was annihilated." Temari said. "Dad's dead."

Kankuro blinked. "The Kazekage's dead?"

Temari nodded. "Akatsuki killed him and turned him into a puppet. It's what we get for letting Sasori near him."

"Oh." Kankuro sat back on the bed, and then looked around. "Was there anyone else?"

"We were decimated. So there aren't many." Gaara spoke.

Kankuro's face fell. "Oh…well…"

"We lucked out, because of our connection to the Kazekage." Temari explained.

"Being his son paid off for once." Gaara stated.

Something about Gaara had changed, and Kankuro could see it plain as day. "What happened to Gaara?"

"That orange-wearing idiot punched him so-hard he had a life-changing revelation." Temari replied.

"…Can you really hit someone that hard?"

"Apparently." Temari rubbed her cheek with her free hand. "Most of the Jonin were killed, and with the Kazekage dead we're the highest ranked Ninja who survived. So, we'll be handling the surrender procedures."

Kankuro groaned. "Well, at least it can't get worse than this"

The door opened, and Hiruzen Sarutobi stepped in, looking no worse for wear and carrying a scroll in his hand. With him was Itachi, his ANBU uniform eschewed for more informal, all black bodyguard apparel. "Hello, Gaara, Temari, and Kankuro. I'm sorry this is such short notice, but in light of the conflict and the circumstances I've wanted to come and reassure you that this sudden surprise hostility from Sunagakure will not change relations between our villages."

Temari was stunned. "It won't?"

Kankuro sighed in relief, while Gaara seemed to show no reaction. Sarutobi nodded. "But of course, in fact all treaties and agreements that existed officially before the exact start of the attack will continue to be upheld and respected, so that we can keep a pristine political picture."

"You're too kind, Hokage." Temari graciously said. This meant that they and the remaining survivors might get a chance to leave and return to Sunagakure so they could try to rebuild and forget this black day.

"In fact." Sarutobi beamed as he spoke. "We have one such treaty signed just before the attack began, a wager of sorts regarding Naruto vs. Gaara."

Itachi took the scroll from Sarutobi, and walked over to Temari. He unrolled the scroll, and presented to Temari the terms of the wager, and what Konoha stood to gain from it in their victory. Temari stared at it quietly, for a full five minutes, and then took a deep breath.

"Hey, did you hear that?" Naruto asked Sakura as the two and Sai sat at Ichiraku Ramen, slurping up noodles as though their village hadn't been a battlefield just hours before.

"The enraged scream of a kunoichi whose world has just crumbled around her?" Sai asked.

"No, that wasn't it." Naruto mumbled over a mouthful of noodles.

Ayame called from the back of the ramen stand. "Sorry, I dropped a pot."

"Oh." Sai rubbed the inside of his ear. He must've been hearing things.

"Man, this sucks, because of the war none of us technically passed the exams! We're going to have to wait another six months to become Chunin." Sakura complained.

"It could be worse; some of us could be dead or something." Naruto complained.

Sai nodded. "I'll do better, next time."

Naruto was surprised, no poisonous remark from Sai? Still, this presented a great opportunity. "Yeah, next time we'll pass together, all of us!"

Smiling, Sakura leaned against Naruto. "Shannaro! We're going to ace the next exam just like we did this one!"

"Maybe next time, you'll get to rape someone." Sai chirped.

Sakura kicked Sai off his stool, and Naruto sighed in relief. All was right in the world.

A/N: Haha, the Chunin Exam/Invasion of Konoha Arc is OVER. Next up, the Occupy Movement moves in to Sunagakure!