A/N: Someone mentioned that the Ino vs. Gaara prelim's been done before, and tried teasing me about what they thought I was going to do (give me a little credit; I'm not as predictable as you all seem to think I am). My only question is this: where and when has this happened before? I want to read it. It's a cool matchup and I want to see how other stories handle it.

Unless there's bashing. Then I don't want to see it at all.

Also, I find some of the matchups amusing. I mean, all but two of them are randomized, the first (Gaara's fight) and last (Daiya's fight) of this chapter being the only two that I actually designed. The middle one was a result of the randomizer, but… well, three of the matchups that popped up are just inordinately amusing to me (not the least of which is that Shikamaru ended up fighting a girl again, and it wasn't even on purpose).

o.o.o.o.o

The fight was a strange one.

Robin and Kakashi stood together up by one of the stands, a level above the genin. They had a better aerial view, which wasn't quite necessary, but it helped imply a level of superiority to the genin, which was in some cases quite necessary.

Ino and Gaara's fight hadn't started normally. Ino's techniques weren't based on taijutsu, weapons, or offensive ninjutsu, so she didn't do anything that would send Gaara into a fit of rage. She was lucky in that respect, as almost anyone else would have quickly had Gaara trying to kill them quickly and mercilessly.

No, instead, Ino tested Gaara mentally. She paced around the edge of the arena, dodging Gaara's attacks the few times they were sent her way, and held her hands clasped behind her back. She spoke lightly, and if her voice quavered now and again, no one commented on it. She questioned him on nearly everything, and prodded every logical fallacy and every loophole she could find in every answer he gave. She didn't sneer, but kept her tone open, friendly, kind enough that it was obvious how out of place it was in the arena. Ino was careful not to anger Gaara, only confuse him further and further, messing with his mind enough to keep herself alive just a few minutes longer.

"Ah."

Robin turned to Kakashi at the small exclamation. "You see something?"

Kakashi chuckled, drawing the attention of the other Jounin. Kurenai smiled knowingly, though Asuma and Gai seemed confused. "Oi, Kakashi. What are you laughing about?" Asuma demanded an answer first, worried as he was about his student.

"She used a bunshin and a mild genjutsu to hide herself." Kakashi explained, and nodded to Kurenai, the genjutsu specialist, to take over.

"Ino created a bunshin at the beginning of the fight, and walked within it for the first few minutes, making small movements to see if Gaara was under its effects. Then she let the bunshin continue walking at a slightly faster speed while she slowed down enough to let some distance build up, still talking with a second genjutsu up to throw her voice. At this point, she and the bunshin are at opposite sides of the arena, given all the circles that they've made." Kurenai pointed to a spot that was directly behind Gaara.

"She's not actually thinking of using one of her family techniques on Gaara-kun, I hope." Robin leveled her gaze at Asuma, who shrugged.

"I don't know. Ino's smart, but she's also headstrong and hasn't exactly interacted much with him. I don't think she's actually been shown what he's capable of." Asuma gnawed slightly on his cigarette.

"Too late." Kurenai said, grim-faced. "She's already lining up her shot."

"She knows what she's doing." Asuma tried to assure himself. "She'll get out of this without any trouble."

And then there was a scream.

o.o.o.o.o

The view that the arena got of Ino and Gaara wasn't very interesting after Ino's three genjutsu (an impressive feat, even if they were all fairly simple ones) dispersed. Ino was on the ground, seemingly unconscious, and Gaara was motionless. His eyes were closed, and his breathing was deep.

The proctor, a purple-haired woman, with a standard-issue ANBU tanto and armor, though bereft of a mask, looked back and forth between the two genin. Familiar enough to know the effects of a Yamanaka technique, she understood that the fight was not necessarily over, but until one or both of the genin showed signs of life beyond breathing, she couldn't call the fight.

There was no movement for twenty seconds, as people simply watched the immobile genin with bated breath, and jumped in shock as Gaara's head fell back and his mouth opened in a wordless scream. His eyes were wide, and there was no sign of just which genin was in control of the body.

He fell to his knees, grabbing his head and muttering, nearly unintelligible, though what could be understood didn't make much sense. Sand lashed around him, like whips, trying to fend off an enemy that was not attacking in a manner physical enough to deflect.

Ino's body still lay as it had, motionless.

Gaara's mutterings grew quieter, the sand calming down just enough to see him clearly. He still clutched at his head, but he no longer clawed at it, no longer gave low moans in what was presumably pain.

Sakura hugged her arms to herself, biting her lip as she stared down at Ino's body. She pleaded for either the girl to wake up or to show that she was in control by making Gaara forfeit.

Then the screams began again, but it wasn't just Gaara this time.

o.o.o.o.o

"I forfeit!"

Asuma's breath left him in a relieved whoosh as Ino gave the proctor her declaration and allowed Gaara to win. She was fine. Terrified, but—

Ino collapsed to the ground, eyes rolled up into the back of her head. Her body began to seize, and it was very clear to everyone that she wasn't using a genjutsu or a Yamanaka technique.

Something was very, very wrong.

Gaara didn't move from his position. His sand was frozen in the air, and lashed out at the proctor when she approached him to get him out of the arena.

It took five minutes, and Temari's involvement, to finally get Gaara to react in anything approaching a civilized manner. His face was blank, eyes glazed, and he didn't talk to anyone, but he allowed his sister to pull him out of the arena by the elbow, barely reacting to the words confirming his victory.

"Maybe you should talk to him."

Robin looked over to Kakashi, blinking. "Why would you suggest that?"

"Maa, maa." Kakashi closed his book, but kept it out and motioned back and forth with it. "You're good with kids, and he seems to like you."

Robin stared across the arena at Gaara, mulling it over. "I suppose I could speak with him after the bouts are over."

Kakashi shrugged, waiting for the next matchup to be announced.

The electric scoreboards spun, spun, spun…

Haruno Sakura vs. Inuzuka Kiba

Kakashi relaxed. He knew both the participants this time, and while they were prone to roughhousing and had tempers to rival one another, they were unlikely to kill or seriously injure one another.

He saw Kurenai grow less tense, and the other Jounin in the room all sighed in relief. The matchup wasn't one that would end in disaster.

Except for maybe Sasuke's eardrums, given Naruto's shouts of encouragement for Sakura.

"Kakashi-san?"

He looked down to see who was asking for him, finding a red-haired, nervous genin looking up at him.

"Ah, Karin-chan. What seems to be the problem?"

"What went wrong down there during the first fight? Sakura wasn't allowed to come up and ask since she's a participant and hasn't had her fight yet, but since I'm not fighting…"

Kakashi relaxed. "Ino will probably be fine. Something just seemed to go wrong with one of her family techniques, and Sakura knows what those are. Her father was sent for, and he'll be able to fix things."

Karin stared up at him for a few more seconds, searching what little she could see of his face from red eyes hiding behind thick glass.

She nodded and turned, running back down to where Naruto and Sasuke waited for her, eyes fixed on the fight about to happen down in the arena.

Kakashi turned back to watch Sakura and Kiba.

o.o.o.o.o

He was fast.

She was strong.

He had a partner to help him out.

She had a split personality to push her on.

It was a far more normal fight than the previous one had been.

The fight was mainly taijutsu-oriented, something that made it much easier to watch than the earlier psychological battle. Kakashi had worried, for a short while, that Sakura would use the small mist technique that Zabuza had taught her out of boredom, but then realized that Sakura knew to avoid impeding her own vision when Kiba would be able to follow her by scent.

But while it ruled out ninjutsu of the sort, it did not impede genjutsu.

That failed because Kiba was good at breaking illusions, what with having Kurenai as his sensei.

So Kiba retaliated with a fang-over-fang.

Sakura dodged, throwing out kunai with ninja wire attached, trying to catch Kiba in a manmade spider web.

Kiba tore through the string, but Akamaru, being smaller, still got tangled in the remaining string.

And so on.

Eventually, Sakura actually did manage to catch Kiba in a genjutsu just long enough to close in and hit him with a punch strong enough to break his jaw.

She won.

o.o.o.o.o

Sakura was squealing near-ecstatically as she made her way back up, pumping her fist every several seconds in triumph. She'd managed to get rid of Kiba, who had several advantages on his side that she didn't, namely his clan and a little 'helper.'

"I did it! Naruto, Sasuke-kun, I did it!" She was laughing, extremely happy about her recent win.

She even let Naruto hug her.

And Sasuke-kun actually told her that she'd done a good job!

Then the next fight was called.

o.o.o.o.o

Ketsueki Daiya vs. Hyuuga Neji

Kakashi stared at the matchup, mulling it over in his head as Gai shouted something about Youth and Neji and prodigies in his ear.

He'd been told enough about the girl to know that this was probably one of the luckier matchups. Neji would be able to hold his own, maybe even win, if both Gai and Kinishi were accurate about their students' skills and mental stability.

Come to think of it, where was Kinishi? He hadn't seen or spoken to the woman in days. Not that he really wanted to, given how unpleasant she was on occasion, but it was still strange.

Ah. There she was. She was talking to her genin, who seemed to be quite impatient to get down on the floor. Of course, the girl also seemed rather reluctant to ignore or disobey her teacher… who was irritable at the best of times.

Finally, Daiya broke away from the rest of her team and joined Neji on the floor, her face going from a glower to a smirk as she did.

"Hi, hi! You ready to start?" She bounced up and down on her heels, and Kakashi couldn't help but think that the girl seemed far too excited for her round. The difference between her and Neji was striking. Neji looked every bit of the warrior he was supposed to be, while she just looked like a small child hyped up on sugar.

"You should forfeit now."

Kakashi facepalmed. Robin brought a hand up to her mouth, hiding her smile as Gai drooped in disappointment with his student's actions.

"Hm… how about no?" Daiya giggled, coming closer so that the proctor could start the match.

"You're just a brat, unfit to even—"

"WHAT DID YOU JUST CALL ME?"

Kakashi saw Kinishi smack her forehead on the other side of the arena.

"How old do I look to you, huh, punk?" Daiya demanded, marching up as close to Neji as she was allowed.

"…Nine, at the most."

Daiya's face twitched. "I'm sixteen."

Silence.

Dead silence.

"Really?" And of course, Naruto was the one to break it.

Daiya stepped away from Neji, sending a withering glare around the room. "I know I look young, but I'm a good sight older than most of the genin in this room. And I would appreciate it," Her tone was mocking, scathing, on those words as she looked at Neji in disgust, "If you would treat me that way."

Neji just stared at her, perplexed.

She didn't look her age.

She had not, until now, acted her age.

And yet she was angry with him for assuming that she wasn't her age?

"Yosh! Neji, beat her with the power of youth!"

Lee was probably ecstatic that Neji was the younger in his matchup.

Then again, Lee wasn't particularly intelligent. He was strong, enthusiastic, and willing to follow instructions to the letter when Gai-sensei gave them… but he was a little lacking in the brains department.

"…And people say I'm embarrassing." Daiya snickered, and then smirked at Neji. "Well, big boy? You gonna fight me or what?"

Of course, he attacked her.

o.o.o.o.o

She was fast. Fast enough to dodge most of Neji's attacks.

She didn't fight back, not yet. She just dodged, giggling and laughing and doing her best to drive Neji into a mindless rage.

Unfortunately for her, Neji was very difficult to visibly enrage (unless one happened to be of Main House descent), and her attempts were fruitless and soon grew to bore her.

However, Neji did grow frustrated, he just didn't show it. It was his failure to hit her at all that irritated him, so he decided to take a page out of TenTen's book and just shower the youn- smaller girl with a hail of kunai, then follow up with his Jyuuken.

This… was not very successful.

They bounced off.

The kunai bounced off.

And she just kept on with that thrice-cursed giggling.

Neji clenched his jaw and went back on the offensive, not listening to the girl's explanation of why the kunai had bounced off (something about a diluted bloodline and blood), and continued to try and land a hit.

She was careless, when he finally managed to hit her. Neji didn't want to reveal everything he knew, not in the preliminaries, so he didn't go all out, and even holding back, he'd managed to land a hit.

And now she was coughing up blood.

He almost smirked in satisfaction.

Daiya stared at her hand, almost in fascination, looking at the blood on it. The proctor readied herself to call the match, and barely flinched when Daiya screamed.

Up in the stands, the Suna nin began to wonder if she was going to react like Gaara did to injury, rare as it was.

But she didn't. No, no, no… that scream devolved into more mad laughter, and when she finally let her head drop to look at Neji again, it was with a grin. Her eyes seemed redder, the pupils less round. "Oh, I am going to have fun with you."

Then she finally went on the offensive.

Neji couldn't block everything. He could barely block anything. Diaya was literally bouncing off the walls, her speed almost up to par with Lee when he was without weights (though not quite to the point of Gai, or of Lee with the Gates open). She had a single kunai in each hand, and seemed to alternate between that and trying to, of all things, bite him, a move he associated with Inuzuka and few others.

He hit some tenketsu when she passed, on occasion, slowing her down, but even that wasn't enough to keep her from finally getting her goal.

Her teeth swept along his palm at one point, presumably sharpened somehow, and she came away bloody-mouthed.

There was silence for several seconds, and then muffled cursing coming from the boy in the stands that just so happened to be her teammate.

Daiya turned to Neji, eyes closed. She swayed where she stood, and her teeth seemed to grow ever sharper, her smile near ecstatic. "Oh, blood with a Kekkei Genkai… it's been so long since I've had some… like a rare wine, I'd say."

She opened her eyes slowly, her smile moving to become a smirk, and Neji flinched as he saw Daiya's pupils and iris.

Red iris. Slit pupil. And a smirk that told him to prepare for pain.

This was why no one ever allowed a Ketsueki to taste their blood.

Daiya hissed and attacked him, her laughably small body crossing the space in record time. She giggled and swiped at him with a hand that seemed almost clawed, and everything was suddenly ten times more difficult, more bloody, more painful.

The rest of the fight was a blur to Neji, and he finally just gave up and used the main house techniques.

Sixty-four hits were sent Daiya's way.

Sixty-four hits landed.

And she fell to the ground, internal organs on the fritz, nearly dead.

Neji didn't think anyone would blame him for nearly killing her.

o.o.o.o.o

Robin leaned forward to get a better view of what was going on in the arena, frowning. The fight had been a bad one, but she'd seen worse in her time. She was more concerned for the participants' mental health. She didn't get a good feeling from Neji, and Daiya was rather blatant in her lack of concern for what constituted as morally correct.

Kakashi bumped his shoulder up against hers, a comforting gesture, she thought. It certainly helped a little.

Robin watched as Kinishi pushed away all the medics and demanded that she be allowed to care for Daiya herself, taking the girl out of the room and leaving behind her other students. Robin didn't really feel anything for the woman. Kinishi had proved herself to be jaded and snide, and wasn't very pleasant to be around at times, but also had a wicked (sometimes literally) sense of humor and cared for her students, if in a very tough-love form of affection.

The remaining two genin of the mercenary team simply stayed where they were, the boy looking worried and the blonde girl looking… well, bored and exasperated.

"The next matchup is here." Kakashi pointed to the scoreboard, drawing Robin's attention to the fact that, yes, the next fight had just been announced.

Rock Lee vs. Kankuro

…Well.

Now Robin would need some new eardrums.

Gai really was rather loud when Lee was part of the equation.

o.o.o.o.o

A/N: You see that fight? You see Neji and Daiya? I planned that for a reason: I wanted to see her get one-upped by someone like Neji. And writing it felt good.

Also, for everyone that's annoyed with her power base… she's older than the others, and based off of, of all things, Twilight sparklepires, with a few twists made so that she can fit into the world better. And both she and her teammates are meant to be overpowered… and there's a reason for that, which you'll find out during the month long interim between the prelims and the finals.

I hope you enjoyed reading my pitiful attempt at fight scenes.

Ja ne,

Phoenix