Opening - Scarlet Knight by Nana Mizuki

Nawaki Senju wasn't having a good day.

Naruto had made it sound so simple. Just stand on the outer wall of the village, watching the forest beyond. If anyone started a fire with their elemental jutsu, all he had to do was manipulate the trees with his Wood Release to snuff those flames and prevent a forest fire. He'd even practiced it by trying to use his jutsu on those trees from this distance, and found that it didn't even drain his chakra that much more.


Except for the fact that the enemy hadn't tried to come through him, or the squads of ninja swarming through the southern forest. They climbed over the eastern wall of the village like squirrels, far away from Nawaki. Still, the detection barriers around the village had gone crazy when the Hyuuga Coup came through it. Nawaki had quickly been alerted to their location, and he'd tried to send a Wood Clone into the southern forest to warn the shinobi there.

The problem with that was that he didn't know the Wood Clone Jutsu yet, so when he tried to create a wooden replica of himself, what he got instead was a ghastly-looking thing that was pretending to be him. It was like a Nawaki-shaped balloon that was only half inflated, and it was creepy how pale it was. It looked at him blankly for a moment, then deflated and fell to the ground next to him like a puddle of... something.

So, that plan didn't work. He stared at the 'clone' with an expression of total incomprehension; then shook his head after a moment and came up with a new plan. The Hyuuga Coup were already in the village, and a huge chunk of Konoha's forces were in the forest with no idea how useless they were. Sure, the Hyuugas were still vastly outnumbered, but this would certainly make things a lot harder for Konoha, at least until someone contacted the shinobi outside the village.

Nawaki turned around and held out his hands over the village, searching for large buildings with a wooden structure. He was relieved to find there were quite a few of those, but he frowned as he watched more Hyuugas climbing over the village walls. I don't get it. The walls are supposed to have chakra-disrupting fuinjutsu in them, to keep shinobi from tree-walking up like this. I don't think even a Hyuuga would have enough chakra control to overcome that, but maybe they found the fuinjutsu and destroyed it somehow...

"Whatever," Nawaki shrugged after several seconds of silence, and he clapped his hands together in the Snake seal. This time, he made sure to switch to the Dog seal before he called, "Wood Release: Thorn Armor Jutsu." Vines covered in slim pink thorns wrapped themselves around his hands and wrists, but he didn't stop there. This time he continued feeding chakra to the vines until they covered his arms and torso entirely.

Once that was done, he switched back to the Snake seal and made his first move against the Hyuugas, manipulating the wooden structure of a house to grow seven rectangular tendrils of wood. Each plank wrapped itself around a different Hyuuga, quickly covering their entire bodies from the neck down. He also added strips of wooden material over the Hyuugas' eyes, since the chakra glowing within would deter them from using their Byakugan to watch the battle.

Nawaki's gaze darted around the village, and he repeated the same action whenever he could. The Hyuugas were clearly looking for him, but they'd had no luck actually finding him. Meanwhile, he wrapped up and subdued every Coup member he could spot in the chaos below. He was careful to capture every member of a given squad of enemies, otherwise any 'survivors' would be able to free the Hyuugas he caught, making it all a wasted effort...

"I should've known you'd be all the way up here." Nawaki whirled in shock, locking his gaze with that of an older teenager atop the walls. "It's a lovely view, don't you think?" The boy was wearing an Akatsuki robe, and he had long silver hair tied back in a ponytail. His eyes were a pale lavender, almost white, and he had faintly darker grey slit pupils in them. "I was lucky to be close enough to spot you with these new eyes of mine, very lucky."

"...You're... Kabuto Yakushi..."

"That's right." Kabuto stepped forward, and reached down to his left hip where a jian was sheathed in a dark green leather scabbard. Kabuto drew the sword and pointed it at Nawaki. "Now don't move."

Nawaki moved, dodging to the left of the blade that extended forward with lightning speed. Kabuto sighed briefly, then swept the extended Kusanagi horizontally, following Nawaki until the blade touched the vines over his left arm. He then retracted it to its normal length, cutting through Nawaki's Thorn Armor and nicking his arm in the process.

He examined the blood on the edge of the sword, wiping off a bit of it with his finger. He then stabbed the Kusanagi's tip into the top of the wall in order to pull a vial from his pouch. He opened it, wiped his finger along the top of the vial, and sealed it shut again with a tiny trickle of blood dripping down the inside of the vial. "Perfect." he returned the vial to his pouch and took up his sword again. "Well then, I'll just be going now."

"...What the...?" Nawaki clutched his bleeding arm, watching Kabuto turn and walk away without another word. He just came out of nowhere, wounded me, and dripped a bit of my blood into...! "...Shit." He stepped forward with his hands in the Snake seal again, realizing the severity of the situation. "Hey! Get back here, you slimy bastard!"

"Hm?" Kabuto turned and peered over his shoulder. "Is something wrong with me leaving you alive? Would you rather I kill you?"

Nawaki cracked a sly grin, and began focusing his chakra. "I know who you are, and what you just did. You think I'm just gonna let you walk out of here with the Wood Release?"

"...Ah, so you figured it out. I expected something like this to go right over your head." Kabuto fully turned around and drew his sword again. "What a nuisance... I can't kill you, because your sister will hunt me down if I do, but if I just walked away with a trace of your blood, she might not consider it so worthwhile."

"You're not my neechan's problem; you're mine," the young Senju shot back, and finished his hand seal sequence with the Rat seal. I'm gonna make it work this time! "Wood Release: Nativity of a Sea of Trees!"

Kabuto's pale eyes went wide at the sight of an approaching wall of tangled tree trunks and limbs, all of which were razor-sharp and rapidly closing in. He raised the Kusanagi and began slashing through the trees with its unnaturally extended blade, but the trees simply grew back together even as he cut them. In the end, he resorted to turning and running from the attack.

Before he could initiate a Pulse Step, however, a compressed blast of wind struck him in the gut and fired him backward. He took a series of shallow stab wounds from the Wood Release trees that then grew around his limbs and torso, holding him in place. He cried out in pain, then in shock when he saw who had fired the wind jutsu.

"Senju-kun," the old man spoke up in a calm, refined voice, "I should warn you that such an attack as this won't kill him. You haven't struck any of his vitals."

Nawaki blinked. "But... you're Danzou freakin' Shimura! What the hell are you doing here!?"

"I was already in the area," Danzou replied tiredly, "And I felt certain that someone would target you for your Wood Release during this chaos."

Kabuto laughed darkly. "Of course I should've expected you of all people to predict this. After all, it's exactly what you would do."

Nawaki tensed, but the old man simply nodded in agreement. "Very true. The boy's Wood Release is almost certainly weaker than Hashirama's, which would make it easier for someone else to harness his transplanted DNA. Sending a ROOT agent to cut him and return to me with his blood would certainly be a reasonable decision on my part, if not for one complication."

"Oh?" Kabuto inclined his head forward and sneered. "What might that be?"

"I have no reason to settle for a weaker bloodline than the one I already have," Danzou replied evenly, and pulled away the black sling holding up his right arm. This bared the other side of his white shirt, and the three massive golden braces locked around his forearm. His hand was wrapped in white bandages, leaving no skin exposed. "I really have no reason to actually use my Wood Release against you, but I can use jutsu more easily with two hands." he swiped his hands through a sequence of seals, and called, "Wind Release: Vacuum Bullets."

Kabuto activated his Substitution Jutsu just as his body was pierced in five vital places by beams of wind chakra. A new, unharmed Kabuto surged upward out of the wounded older body, and he landed in a crouch before Danzou. With a flick of his right index finger, the Sword of Kusanagi left his old body behind and flitted into his new right hand. With it, he shot upward into a standing position while slashing up toward Danzou's chest.

The old man moved a scimitar of wind chakra between himself and the legendary blade, catching it. No metal blade could have done that. Kabuto remained unfazed, and he swung his weapon several more times. Danzou blocked three of his strikes before raising his cane and jabbing the younger shinobi in the gut with it. Kabuto went down, wheezing, but he dodged backward before Danzou's next swing of his wind blade could connect.

Damn... "For such an old man, you're surprisingly fast."

"For a Kage, you're surprisingly slow," Danzou answered.

"And stupid!" Nawaki threw in, charging toward Kabuto. The Otokage whirled and slashed with the Kusanagi, but Nawaki smoothly ducked the extended blade while forming some sort of weapon with his Wood Release. After a moment Kabuto recognized it as a two-handed axe with twin blades of polished, pale brown wood and a handle covered in darker brown bark and green moss.

Nawaki swung the weapon, but Kabuto parried and countered with his Kusanagi. Nawaki dodged away from the jian instead of blocking it, since the legendary blade could cut through any defenses he had. Kabuto, however, simply continued his swing until the tip of the blade was aimed at Nawaki, at which point he extended it with a burst of chakra.

Nawaki's eyes went wide, and adrenaline surged through his body. He threw himself to the side as fast as he possibly could, and although the extending blade nicked his Thorn Armor, he remained unharmed beneath it. Kabuto retracted it to a normal length just as quickly, and darted forward momentarily before blurring and vanishing completely.

"Pulse Step?" Danzou mused aloud. "It seemed different somehow." He turned and saw Kabuto standing far away behind him, with the Sword of Kusanagi held out at his right side. Under the bandages covering half of his face, he activated Shisui Uchiha's Sharingan. His exposed eye promptly went wide. "Nawaki, get down!"

The young Senju flinched, but he quickly followed Danzou's instructions before Kabuto swung his weapon. The blade extended to an absurdly massive length, and he whipped it through the air toward Danzou and Nawaki. As both of them ducked under its trajectory, however, Kabuto cracked a grin and turned the blade downward.

The old man stumbled forward as the wall shook beneath his feet, and he realized that Kabuto had cut diagonally downward through a massive section of the wall as if it was paper. The young Otokage then retracted his blade again and disappeared as the sliced wall began to collapse outward.

"I'm on it!" Nawaki called, surprising Danzou. He again brought his hands together in the Snake seal, and dozens of mighty, thick brown roots grew out from under his feet. They slithered down the sides of the wall, past the clean slice through it, and into the section of the wall far below the cut. On both sides, the wall was pierced by the sharpened roots which then emerged out the other side and grew back up to the top of the wall. Nawaki jumped back and let the roots from each side grow together atop the wall.

He landed in a crouch, panting heavily with his eyes locked on Danzou. The roots holding up the wall creaked and groaned; a few of them even snapped, but in the end Nawaki's jutsu held. "...So," Nawaki gasped, "Are you gonna try and steal my bloodline too?"

Danzou closed his exposed dark brown eye, smiling slightly. "No," he declared. "I already told Kabuto, but it seems you didn't hear me. I carry Hashirama Senju's DNA within my right arm." He held up the bandaged and armored limb slightly. "I intend to tell the Hokage about it myself, but if you have doubts..."

"I'll make sure Naruto hears about it," Nawaki nodded. "Right now, we need to focus on them," he pointed to the renewed army of Hyuuga traitors along with shadow clones and water clones of Kouga and Himiko. "There's a whole army of shinobi out there in those woods, so if you could go tell them that the enemy is already inside the village, that'd be great."

Danzou inclined his head in a slight nod, and raised his left hand over his head while making a fist. A team of three ANBU appeared around him in a blur, kneeling. "Sai. Pursue Kabuto and kill him if you can. Otherwise, focus on retrieving or destroying the sample of Senju blood he stole. Fuu and Torune, explain the situation to the ninja outside the village."

"Yes, Danzou-sama." The three ANBU vanished.

The old man turned and surveyed the village below. "While we were fighting Kabuto, it seems your efforts to subdue the Hyuuga traitors were undone," he gestured with his cane toward the remains of several wooden cocoons that had been torn and sliced open. "In fact-" Danzou cut himself off and stared in shock at the sudden explosion of white smoke near the center of the village, easily comparable in size to a Bijuu. A gigantic orange paw reached out of that smoke and ripped through an entire street of evacuated homes.


Kouga emerged fully in his tiger form, and raised his right forepaw again to destroy a huge swath of buildings. The Chuunin and Special Jounin perched atop those rooftops were sent flying along with the smashed chunks of the buildings themselves. They screamed as they flew through the air, and fell silent when they hit the ground.

Himiko dashed past Kouga, deeper into the village with a kunai in each hand. He glanced down to watch her go, then turned as his attention was drawn by a fireball that struck his left flank. He growled, and raised his paw again to smite the Jounin.

"Stop!" Naruto appeared in front of the Konoha-nin and aimed his hands upward, catching Kouga's paw with two black chakra arms. Hinata appeared beside him a moment later. "Kouga, listen to me! We can't do this here!"

Kouga pulled his paw free of Naruto's grasp, and the chakra arms dissipated like smoke in the wind. "...And why not?" he asked curiously.

"Look around, damn it!" The Hokage snarled. "If we fight all-out in a place like this, do you have any idea how many people we'll hurt or kill? And I'm not just talking about shinobi fighting around us. There are civilians in this village, and we haven't evacuated them all yet! If we fight here, we could kill hundreds of them!"

"Hm." Kouga withdrew his paw. "I see your point, but why should I be concerned? I've already told you that power equates to morality. If I say those civilians don't matter..."

"You bastard!" Naruto stepped forward furiously. "Are you honestly gonna tell me you believe that!? These people don't have any power, Kouga! Does that make them immoral, or evil? Do you really think it's right to let them die, just because you can!?"

The tiger remained silent, considering this. Even though he was Transformed into an animal, doubt clearly showed on his face. "...I..." he hesitated. "I suppose you're right. There's no reason to kill innocent bystanders if it can be helped. Follow me; we'll finish this in the ruins of the Hokage's mansion. That should give us enough room."

The tiger disappeared in a plume of smoke, revealing Kouga who almost immediately disappeared with a Substitution, leaving behind only a breeze. Naruto and Hinata followed with an Empty Wind, and moments later all three of them arrived at the center of the ruins that had once been the Hokage's residence. The ground was covered in pieces of the building, and there were a handful of sections of walls left standing but they were few and far between.

Kouga turned to face them, and clapped his hands together in the Ram seal. Naruto drew his sword and held it in a one-handed kenjutsu stance, while Hinata poised herself in a Gentle Fist stance with a Water Release: Rasengan in each hand.

Kouga Transformed, filling the air above the ruins with white smoke. Hinata threw one of her Rasengan immediately, scattering the smoke with a vibrant blue explosion. Her white eyes and Naruto's orange ones went wide when the smoke turned out to be completely empty. With her Byakugan, however, she almost immediately spotted Kouga when he appeared behind her.

She whirled, and slammed her remaining blue Rasengan against the edge of his dao as he swept it downward. An expression of surprise briefly flashed across her face as she realized he was matching her senjutsu-enhanced strength. She flared chakra into her barrier armor before detonating the Water Release: Rasengan in her hand, throwing both Kouga and herself across the ruins.

She rolled to her feet and deactivated the armor again, watching the Elder carefully with her Byakugan. "...Naruto, he's used a Transformation to modify his body somehow. I know he looks exactly the same, but there's something different."

The Grinning Fox appeared at her side in a blur, with a basic Rasengan forming on the side of his blade. "Keep looking. If you can figure it out, we might be able to counter it. I'll hold him off."


Naruto moved toward Kouga with his sword raised, and the Elder used a Substitution to close the distance more quickly. Their swords met loudly, and Kouga held his ground. Naruto gritted his teeth behind his mask of chakra bone, and he swung his weapon again a few times. Slowly, he pushed Kouga back a short distance, and the dao he wielded was chipped and dented by the force of Naruto's swings.

Kouga teleported away with a Substitution, reappearing at a proper distance for ninjutsu. Perched atop a remaining wall, he raised his hands in the Dragon seal and called, "Water Dragon Bullet!"

The Rasengan floating alongside Naruto's sword whistled as it evolved into its Wind Release variant, and Naruto swung it from left to right. "Banshou Karu!" An eight-foot-long blade of dark metal flickered into existence in the air cut by the tip of Naruto's sword, wreathed in an aura of transparent black chakra. It flew through the air with great speed and force, slicing cleanly through the unusually massive water dragon Kouga had created.

Kouga jumped lightly backward, falling behind the wall he'd been standing on. The chakra-synthesized blade shot through the space he'd occupied moments before. Meanwhile, the water dragon that Naruto had cut in two had simply reformed and was still roaring toward him. Naruto pointed his weapon directly forward, and fired the Wind Release: Rasengan along the side of his blade and into the face of the dragon. His attack exploded, scattering the water dragon into a fine blue mist.

Naruto blurred away with an Empty Wind, reappearing behind Kouga with his weapon raised. The Elder saw him with his active Byakugan, and spun to catch Naruto's blade on his own. Naruto, however, simply kicked forward with his right foot. Although Kouga managed to turn his blade downward and cut the incoming limb, the Hokage's kick struck him in the gut and blasted him backward through the wall.

The wound on Naruto's calf healed, and the cut in his bone armor smoothed over. "Hinata, have you figured it out!?"

Although he wasn't looking at her, she nodded as he appeared in front of Kouga again, forming another Rasengan on his sword even as he swung it at Kouga. "He's increased the density of his bones and muscles! He probably weighs several times more than an average human now, but he's managed to increase his strength, reflexes and endurance like this!"

Naruto slashed at Kouga a few more times, then flickered to Hinata's side again. "If that's the case, then our collaboration jutsu should work better against him."

"My thoughts exactly," she answered, and brought her hands together in the Boar seal.

"Earth Release!"

"Swamp of the Underworld!" The two of them called together, and slapped their hands down on the ground. The ruins of the mansion sank into a growing field of thick brown mud, and Kouga was caught off-guard by it. He instinctively gathered enough chakra in his feet to support the weight of the body he was used to, but he now weighed almost ten times more than that so he sank like a rock.

"...Do you think that finished him?" Hinata asked quietly.

"Not yet." Naruto crouched and laid his bone-covered palms on the surface of the mud. "But if we cancel the jutsu again, he probably won't be able to reach the surface before he suffocates."

"Good idea," she agreed, and crouched next to him in the same position.

Just as they began gathering their chakra to cancel the jutsu, however, the surface of the swamp exploded upward on a gigantic scale. A huge arm of stone splashed with mud reached out of the depths, and swatted Naruto and Hinata away. Both of them cried out as they hydroplaned along the surface of the swamp with tremendous force, and more of Kouga's new form emerged from the mire as they sank into it.

The Hyuuga Elder had now taken the form of a giant humanoid creature with plates of grey stone covering every inch of its body like something between skin and armor. Its face was blank with the exception of the two glowing blue eyes set into the smooth stone surface. Kouga was still buried up to his waist in chakra-infused mud, but the upper body of this new form was exposed to the air, towering over the buildings surrounding the shores of the swamp. Its upper body stood easily four stories tall, perhaps a bit more.

The giant thing clapped its hands together in the Tiger seal, and two comparatively tiny streams of water floated out of its fingertips. The water shaped itself into a pair of clones of Kouga, each still wielding a copy of his dao.

Naruto was the first to emerge from underground, with the entirety of his bone armor painted dark brown by chakra-laced mud. He whipped his sword at Kouga's new form, firing off a Banshou Karu while beginning to form a Rasenshuriken on the side of his blade at the same time. The chakra-wreathed blade sliced into Kouga's stone-plated torso as its hands fell back to its sides, sinking a foot into his Transformed body. The aura of thick black chakra around it withered away, and the blade itself crumbled to leave behind a shallow gash in Kouga's chest.

One of the water clones then flashed forward using Kouga's unique Substitution. Naruto blocked Kouga's sword with his own, as his Rasenshuriken neared completion. The four spiralling blades were growing quickly now, and the water clone's hand burned with pain from the edges of Naruto's jutsu cutting it on a cellular scale.

Hinata emerged from the swamp in an upward explosion of mud, and almost immediately turned to where Naruto was fighting the clone. She moved toward him with a Rasengan in each hand, but the second water clone appeared in front of her with its sword held high. She caught the downward-sweeping blade with her right-hand Rasengan, then swung her left at Kouga's chest.

The clone danced backward, just out of her reach, and she leapt into the air to follow up her momentum with a spinning kick. The water clone held up its sword and caught the blow aimed at its head, slicing the mud-slick fabric of Hinata's barrier armor on the back of her right calf. She pulled her leg back and landed in a crouch, then launched herself upward in another attempt to strike Kouga with her Rasengan.

Meanwhile, Naruto's Rasenshuriken finished forming, and he disregarded the water clone to throw his most powerful jutsu at the real Kouga's giant form. The Rasenshuriken hit home easily, slamming into his chest and violently exploding. A crater was torn into Kouga's torso as the Rasenshuriken vaporized much of his stone body, and he was thrown backward by the jutsu as well. The surface of the swamp was thrown into chaos as Kouga's legs surfaced, splashing gigantic waves of mud around the battlefield. Naruto kept his footing, but so did the water clone before him. His sword arm was still held out in the middle of a slash, aimed past the clone.

Hinata stabbed her right-hand Rasengan into her opponent's chest, eradicating that clone just in time to see the other one strike the middle of Naruto's right upper arm, cleaving through his Version Three cloak and severing that arm entirely. The clone followed this motion through by spinning a full 360 degrees and stabbing Naruto in the chest, just to the right of his sternum.

The clone exploded forcefully into a geyser of water in all directions, throwing the half-conscious Hokage across the battlefield.


Himiko swept through every Konoha-nin in her way with ease, dashing north through the besieged village. Every so often, she would have to stop running when a large enough group of ninja got in her way. This time, there were eleven Konoha-nin who looked to be Chuunin, and the one at the front of the group had his hands raised in the Tiger seal commonly associated with fire jutsu.

Himiko clapped her hands together in her own Snake seal, commonly used with water jutsu, and silently raised a thin wall of water between herself and the enemy. He then breathed out a Great Fireball which was extinguished on contact with her Water Release. She followed this up by silently creating a water clone and sending it forward to attack the group.

The attention of the shinobi opposing her immediately went to the incoming water clone, who promptly punched the fire-wielding Chuunin in front. That man was thrown backward as though he'd been hit by a train, and as he sailed through the air away from Himiko he struck three ninja behind him, taking them along for the ride.

This left seven shinobi for Himiko and her clone to fight, and those seven charged toward her clone with kunai aimed to stab through her heart. Five of them were taken out by the clone's taijutsu, but for her own amusement Himiko allowed the sixth to stab and dispel the clone. She chuckled out loud at his expression of horror, as the water splashed on the ground reminded him that he was only fighting a shadow.

The remaining two Chuunin dropped their weapons. Having lost hope, the two young men simply turned and looked at Himiko, waiting for the end. The Hyuuga Elder stepped forward, running toward them with her right fist cocked for an earth-shattering punch.

Fortunately for them, she didn't have her Byakugan active, so she was completely unprepared for the barrier-armored flying roundhouse kick that slammed into her chin with no warning whatsoever, before she was even halfway to her targets. She cried out against her will as the air was forced from her lungs, and she left dents and potholes in the ground as she bounced along it with the momentum of her attacker's kick.

Tenten landed nimbly in front of the two remaining Chuunin, fully wreathed in her Kekkai Kokuei. "That was satisfying." She glanced over her shoulder to address the Chuunin. "Get out of here, and make sure you get far away." The two immediately obeyed, just as Gaara entered the scene within a gale of black sand. Tenten drew Umiyou from her back, glaring at Himiko as the young-looking woman picked herself up. "Kekkai Kokuei: Seigen."

Himiko watched calmly as dozens of small, irregularly shaped black barriers shot out of the smoother one covering Tenten from head to toe. The barrier pieces shot out in all directions, then came to a stop while floating in the air around this section of the battlefield. With a pulse of her chakra, Tenten expanded the barrier fragments so they all locked together into a dome of transparent black, irregularly shaped polygons.

For a moment, all three shinobi remained silent within the dome, then Gaara spoke up. "The two Konoha-nin made it to safety before you put up your barrier. We're alone in here."

"Perfect." Tenten pointed the tip of her massive falchion at Himiko. "Devour everything within reach... Umiyou."

A flood of glowing orange, slightly transparent liquid surged forth from all sides of Tenten's weapon. Gaara jumped away from the superheated liquid glass, while also drawing the wakizashi on his right hip. "Stain, Kuroshi," he called, unsealing his black sand at the same rate as Tenten's artificial lava. The orange and black weapons of mass destruction touched as they flooded out over the ground, and a fuinjutsu applied to both weapons prevented the two substances from mixing. Instead, the sand and glass pooled next to each other almost like oil and water.

Umiyou, or 'Ocean of Lava,' was Tenten's greatest and most complex weapon. The pocket dimension in the storage seal she used was superheated by her Fire Release chakra, and she could refill that seal with ordinary sand that would melt inside from the heat. As she unsealed the liquid glass and fought with it, the temperature in the seal would fall as its heat leaked out with the sand. To counteract this, the weapon was constantly draining her chakra reserves slightly, using her natural Fire Release affinity and drawing its power out with a similar seal to the one on Soujihonou.

Of course, the liquid glass wouldn't be of much use if it simply sat on the ground, so Tenten had needed to learn her second affinity, the Earth Release, to move the molten sand around. On the other hand, she had learned to do it without hand seals thanks to Gaara's own sand control. Without a sand demon sealed away in her own belly, Tenten would never be as fast or dextrous with Umiyou as Gaara was with Kuroshi, but even if Himiko knew that, she almost certainly wouldn't find it reassuring.

She spun up a Revolving Heaven and started to panic as the two flowing weapons surged over her dome of chakra. Damn it... With her Byakugan active, she watched as her Revolving Heaven was completely buried by black sand and molten glass. "Damn it!"

She spun, literally and figuratively, searching for a way out that didn't seem to be there. What did she have to counter their weapons? The Gentle Fist would be worse than useless, and the same went for her chakra-enhanced strength. Touching either one of the two substances would be an instant death sentence. That left her with nothing but elemental ninjutsu...


Slowly, hesitantly, a smirk grew across Himiko's face, and she used the Snake hand seal while still spinning inside the Revolving Heaven. "Water Dragon Bullet."

A sizable torrent of cold water shot out of Himiko's mouth as she continued to spin, splashing and rapidly cooling the glass covering the Revolving Heaven and washing away the black sand entirely. She stopped spinning and faced Gaara and Tenten through the gaps in the warped tan glass that still glowed orange on the outside of the dome.

Tenten smirked. "You don't know how glass works, do you?"

"...What do you mean?"

The girl in black pointed to a partly-cooled stream of glass near the top of the dome. The outside, facing Tenten, was still orange, but the inside facing Himiko was cooled enough to stop glowing. "By cooling the surface of the glass facing you, you've compressed it as well. It shrank as it hardened, and now all of that glass is pulling against itself. But by cooling it like that, you've also tempered it... So it won't just snap; it's too strong. There's no way for that tension to break free. Instead..."

Tenten flicked out her right wrist, and a kunai blade emerged from where it was mounted on her forearm. It came to a stop under her palm with a click, and she unsealed a ball of explosive tags from a fuinjutsu on the flat of the blade. Holding it much like a Rasengan, she showed it to Himiko.

"...Instead, the glass has to be struck at its weak point in order to release that tension. Hit it right, and it'll send a chain reaction through the whole thing, allowing all of that force to explode in whatever direction it wants. It's fast too; this effect has been observed on a smaller scale, so we know that it can send an explosive chain reaction through a glass structure at almost two kilometers per second. So... if I do this..." Himiko started to move, but Tenten was faster. She threw the bomb, and it struck the outside of the glass dome without exploding.

It happened in an instant. There was no warning sound, like an initial crack in the glass. The entire structure shattered into hundreds of thousands of tiny, razor-sharp shards, all of which shot directly toward Himiko. Then the bomb itself exploded as well, but Tenten and Gaara both shielded themselves from that blast with their respective sand-based weapons. Silently, they waited for the dust to settle.

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