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Chapter 12-Furious Rivalries-The Preliminaries Turn BrutalEdit

Furious Family Feud! Sakura vs InoEdit

After Temari and Kita were carried out, Sasori, Gaara, Kankuro, and a Naruto clone rushing to follow and check on Temari, the next set of names flashed onto the screen. The Leaf teams drew in a concerted breath as they saw the match: Sakura Haruno vs Ino Yamanaka. Sakura and Ino exchanged a hard look and those who knew them knew when they saw that look that this was going to be possibly the most vicious match up yet.

Sakura planted one foot on the rail and leapt down into the arena, spinning and landing effortlessly, crossing her arms and settling into a casual but ready stance as she waited for Ino to take the stairs. Ino reached the starting point and Gecko raised his hand, "Seventh match, Sakura Haruno vs Ino Yamanaka. Ready?" He sprang back, "Begin!"

There was immediately an explosion of smoke around Ino. Ino reappeared behind Sakura with a kunai to her throat, "Gotcha." Sakura smiled as she too disappeared in a puff of smoke, the real Sakura appearing behind Ino and spinning a beautiful kick towards her head that would have sent Ino flying. Ino managed to duck and roll forward. Sakura twisted her leg and brought it down in a tremendous stomp that sent a forest of stone spikes rocketing forward into the slowly clearing smoke Ino was hiding in. Ino shrieked in pain and Sakura smiled grimly. Then Ino rolled out of the smoke unharmed with her hands in position to fire her mind transfer jutsu.

Sakura leapt out of the way cart wheeling and formed an earthen wall with her chakra as she landed. As Ino rushed out of the smoke Sakura hurled a kunai at her. Ino narrowly dodged, but a line of blood still opened up on her cheek as the blade grazed her. Ino rolled and dodged the additional kunai Sakura had thrown after the first one. Then she was sent flying as Sakura slammed the ground with a chakra infused punch and made the ground ripple like a tidal wave.

Ino suddenly reappeared behind her again and Sakura only narrowly managed to detect her in time to spin and drive an uppercut into her jaw. Ino disappeared in a puff of smoke, another shadow clone Sakura thought. She tried to turn and then found that she couldn't. The ground seemed to be swallowing her feet. Sakura quickly made a hand sign and bobbed and weaved in place so that Ino couldn't lock onto her while she broke the genjutsu.

Ino snarled across the ring as Sakura broke her genjutsu. Sakura quickly leapt into the air and then raised an earthen dome around herself on landing. Ino tensed, whatever was coming out of there, she thought, it wasn't going to be good. Suddenly the earthen dome exploded and a dozen Sakura's charged her. Ino's eyes widened and she flashed her hands through an activation sign, activating her Mind Cloud jutsu just as the first Sakura was about to reach her.

The Sakura's all suddenly stopped and looked around puzzled and then wary. In seconds they were fighting each other. Ino smiled and sat back to watch the show as she prepared her Mind Transfer jutsu for when the real Sakura was the only one left standing. Suddenly she heard Sakura yell, "Earth Style!"

Before Ino knew what had happened, she was buried up to her neck, a very smug Sakura crouching in front of her grinning like a Cheshire Cat, "Headhunter Jutsu." Ino suddenly appeared behind her and swung with a kunai, "Now you're mine!" Sakura exploded in a puff of smoke as the kunai hit her. Then Ino was once again buried up to her neck, facing her clone, "WHAT?!" Sakura suddenly punched both Ino's from underground, and the second one yowled in pain as the first one dissolved in a puff of smoke.

Sakura exploded out of the ground and yanked Ino from the ground by her ponytail before spinning her around by it and slinging her into the wall. Ino crashed into the wall and Sakura without a moment's hesitation leapt and dealt a knockout punch even as Ino was falling off the wall. Ino's form went totally limp as Sakura sprang back with a smile forming as Ino failed to turn out to be another shadow clone.

Sakura landed panting as Gecko walked over to check on Ino. Gecko rose after a moment with a grim look on his face, "The winner is, Sakura Haruno!" Sakura grinned from ear to ear and jumped ten feet in the air with delight. Then the medics rushed in and rushed back out, carrying Ino as fast as they could, working on her even as they went. Sakura's heart skipped a beat, she hadn't hit Ino that hard had she? She ran after the medics to check on Ino, whose face she saw upon drawing closer to be a bloody mess as Sasuke manifested a clone and sent it after her, Shikamaru and Choji running along behind him with Asuma hot on his heels.

Please don't be dead, please don't be dead, don't you dare be dead Ino! Sakura thought in a panic as she raced for the door.

Suddenly a foot slammed into her face and hit hard enough to knock her a full flip. Sakura rolled to her feet and wiped the blood from her busted lip as Ino released the genjutsu. Sakura's eyes widened as she saw that Ino was completely unharmed and she realized that she had been in a genjutsu for the last few minutes. Ino grinned at her as she set her foot down, "And now, I know what you're going to do. You're all out of tricks!"

Sakura smiled, "Oh, I might have one left." She started flashing her hands through an activation sequence and Ino raised her hands to use her Mind Transfer jutsu. Then Sakura's last shadow clone leapt out of the ground and smacked Ino in the head from behind. Ino staggered and then Sakura finished the activation sequence as her shadow clone caught Ino in a complex wrestling hold with a grip like iron, "Fire style! Fireball Jutsu!" Ino gasped in horror and then the flames rocketed toward her.

"I surrender!" She shrieked. The flames petered out mere inches from her. Sakura smiled, "Good."

The Horror Of The Hyugas! Hinata's Secret Weapon Unleashed!Edit

As Sakura and Sasuke shared a victory kiss which made Ino utterly incandescent with jealousy, Gecko announced the next match, "Hinata Hyuga vs Neji Hyuga!" Hinata and Naruto flinched in unison as Neji cast a cold gaze towards Hinata. Naruto hugged Hinata tightly before she followed Neji down to the floor.

They set up with each other and Neji looked at Hinata, "I never thought we would have to fight Hinata." "Nor I brother," Hinata replied meekly. Up in the stands Ino blinked, "What did she just call him?! Those two are siblings?!" "Cousins," Sakura replied, "Same clan, first cousins. They're about like we are, as close to siblings as it gets without actually being siblings." "Oh," Ino replied, "Ok."

Ino looked at Naruto, "So who's going to win? You know Hinata better than anybody." Naruto crossed his arms grimly and looked at the floor his face taut with tension as Sasuke replied, "Neji. He's way out of Hinata's league and they use the same fighting style. This is a horrible mismatch." Naruto suddenly growled, and everyone close by looked at him and saw he was utterly livid, his hair standing on end as his tail thrashed madly and he viciously glared a hole in Neji's back.

They turned back to the ring and saw that Hinata was standing with her head down and her fists clenched. "What did he say that set Naruto off like that?" Ino asked as she backed up a step. "I don't know," Sakura replied quietly, shooting a glance at Naruto out the corner of her eye, "I've never seen him like this." "Apparently Hinata was kicked out of the line of succession because they thought she was too weak," Kakashi told them in a hushed voice.

Suddenly Hinata raised her head and Neji actually backed up a half step from the hard light in her eyes, "You're right Neji. I was thrown out because my father thought my kindness made me weak." She raised her fingers to her lips in a hand sign, "Byakugan!" She settled into her stance, her expression so cold and fierce that everyone who could see it wondered if that was still Hinata down on the floor, "And you just got in line to be the first person I beat on my way to proving him wrong."

Those in the stands couldn't see Neji's expression as he activated his Byakugan, but Kurenai was tense, "I've never seen Hinata glare at somebody like that, have you Shino?" "Only when Temari mentioned having had a crush on Naruto," Shino replied. "It looks like Neji just stumbled across one of the things Hinata cares about most," Kakashi said half to himself, "And those things are the most dangerous to threaten."

Gecko raised his hand from between the two cousins and leapt back out of their way, "Begin!" Hinata launched forward like an arrow from a bowstring a flat handed palm ready to strike. Neji sprang back and struck towards her arm with two fingers, actually connecting but not seeming to do any damage. They continued to exchange fast and furious hand strikes, Neji constantly blocking Hinata's strikes, but with none of his own strikes seeming to have any effect despite many of them landing.

"Hinata must be out of her mind with rage going toe to toe with Neji like that," Sasuke muttered to Sakura, trying to keep his voice down to prevent Naruto from hearing, "His hand speed is way out of her class!" Sakura nodded, "And that's about all that matters with Gentle Fist." "What do you mean?" Ino asked, "I've never trained for taijutsu with either of them, what's Gentle Fist?" "It's the Hyuga Clan's special fighting style," Naruto replied without looking, still watching the match intently.

"They load their strikes with chakra," he continued, "It doesn't matter how hard they connect. As long as they can get a hand even close to you, they can shoot their chakra into your network. It doesn't normally leave a mark, but it does do extensive internal damage to their target. It's like their opponents skin and bone isn't there, you're just striking right at the sensitive tissues and delicate internal organs. That's why it's an assassins favorite, doesn't leave a mark and looks identical to organ failure unless you take the organ in question out and look at it. Since they don't have to hit hard, the most important factors are chakra control and hand speed, and Neji's hands are some of the fastest in the Hidden Leaf Village."

"But," he added with a grin, "Hinata's been learning some, unorthodox tricks." Everyone looked at him, "What?" Naruto just pointed and they saw Neji and Hinata frozen, their hands jammed under each other's guards. There was a cough and suddenly Neji staggered back, Hinata just smiled coldly and settled back into her fighting stance, completely unaffected by the blow she had undoubtedly taken.

Neji clutched his stomach and stared, "How?" Hinata smiled, "I told you Neji, just because I am kind, does not mean I am weak." Neji's face contorted with pain as he stumbled slightly, "How did you block that attack? It was a direct hit to your heart! You should barely be able to stand!" Hinata only slid further into her combat position, "I'll tell you after I win, provided you can keep a secret." Neji snarled, "You're not going to win."

Hinata launched forward without a word and Neji suddenly disappeared inside a huge spinning spherical shield of chakra so strong it was actually visible like a whirling blue wall, "Eight Trigrams Revolving Heaven!" Hinata smiled and slammed her elbow into the shield. An instant later it had disappeared, drained away into her body like water into a sponge. Neji stared and danced away from her in horror, "That's impossible!"

Hinata didn't reply, she just grinned as she launched forward to deliver a finishing strike. Neji's hands flashed up and caught her hand as he slammed the palm of his hand into her forearm. Hinata stopped, a stunned look on her face and Kakashi winced, "Oh, that's what he was doing." Everyone except Naruto looked at him as Hinata staggered back, "What?" "He's been striking her chakra points, the valves within the chakra system that regulate the flow of chakra throughout the body," Kakashi explained as Neji lunged forward and struck Hinata's other arm repeatedly with lightning speed, "If they're blocked by say, a hit from a Gentle Fist user, then the parts of the body don't get any more chakra and are completely useless until the chakra point opens back up."

Neji finally relented panting as Hinata's arm fell to her side, "And it looks like Neji just hit every chakra point in both Hinata's arms," Kakashi continued grimly, "so her arms are going to be completely useless now." Neji settled into his stance, "Give up Hinata, you're beaten!" Hinata hung her head and started shaking. Neji raised an eyebrow in disgust, "All that big talk and now you start crying? You really are weak." Then Hinata raised her head and he saw she was laughing.

Neji had just enough time to realize something was very, very wrong before chakra blazed to life around Hinata's hands, "WHAT?!" Neji exclaimed along with every Jonin present. Suddenly the chakra began to spin in Hinata's hands so that it formed to discs and she sprang forward, her arms somehow perfectly functional as she swung and jabbed viciously at a desperately dodging Neji.

Neji finally managed to disengage and as he sprang back he flashed his hands through an activation sequence, "Hiding in Mist Jutsu!" He blew out a stream of mist that suddenly obscured the whole field. Hinata froze as her entire line of sight was suddenly filled with Neji's chakra. "Hiding in Mist Jutsu," Kakashi said half admiringly, "One of the only things that can truly blind the Byakugan. Hinata was doing so well I almost regret teaching Neji that technique. By the way," he looked at Naruto, "How did Hinata withstand those attacks? I'm certain you had something to do with it."

Naruto smiled proudly, "I did indeed. It's a little something we've been working on ever since her dad threw her out of the succession. With some help from my grandfather, we finally got it right." Down on the floor Neji stared in horror and confusion as he saw his own chakra flowing in lines over Hinata's, "What?" Hinata smiled and suddenly leapt above the mist, "Live wire!" Neji had just enough time to realize he was doomed before the rope of lightning chakra Hinata swung into the mist electrocuted him.

He collapsed as the mist cleared, his clothes smoking slightly and all of him singed. Hinata's triumphant smile was tinged with a hint of sadness as Gecko announced her the winner and the stands erupted with applause, "I'm sorry Neji, I couldn't lose to you here," she told his still form quietly. She followed the medics that came to move him out and Naruto finished his explanation to Kakashi in a whisper.

When he was finished, Kakashi stared at him, "You do realize you just broke the style of one of the Hidden Leaf Village's oldest and noblest clans right? Along with possibly over half the ninjutsu in existence? I'm going to have to tell Lord Hokage about it you know." Naruto smiled, "Go ahead. We knew she'd probably only get the full shock value from it once anyway. If you could ask him to keep it a secret though we'd be grateful. Hinata's still got a long way to go to get her birthright back." Kakashi nodded, "Yes, but I don't know what Lord Hokage will say." Naruto nodded, "Boss Hokage's cool, I'm sure he'll understand."

Kakashi scratched his head, "Yeah but I'm not sure he'll allow her to keep using it. That's an extremely powerful weapon, especially here." Naruto frowned, "He might not, but Neji was the one we wanted to test it on, so I guess she'll just have to rely on her other abilities from here on if that's the case." Kakashi nodded and disappeared in a puff of smoke. He reappeared next to Lord Hokage and whispered what Naruto had told him in the Hokage's ear.

Lord Hokage snapped around to look at him like he was a poisonous snake, then he looked at Naruto across the arena with a stunned and mildly horrified expression. Naruto waved at him with a smile as Gecko announced the next match.

The Grand Poobah of Grumps vs The Chief of ChillEdit

"Next match! Chirru Bukimina vs Sasuke Uchiha!" Sasuke leapt down into the ring and got a good look at his opponent as Chirru stepped over the rail, unfolding legs that had to be nearly as long as Sasuke was tall and then dropping down to the ground. Sasuke stared, Chirru had to be at least eight feet tall! He was an absolute string bean though, his limbs were long and lanky like he was two arms short of being a giant spider. His hair was probably a foot long and stood up all over his head like it was charged with static electricity and even with a mask covering the lower half of his face Sasuke could tell he was smiling amiably.

Chirru strode across the arena to the starting point, covering the distance in two steps. He crouched down and was at eye level with Sasuke. He was all folded up as he waved, "Yo dude, did I hear em right? You're an Uchiha? Totally radical dude. I've heard like a lot about you guys." Sasuke raised an eyebrow as his Sharingan went active. "Begin!" Gecko announced as he sprang back. Before Sasuke could move Chirru raised a hand, "Whoa dude," He held up a sign, "Check it out man."

Sasuke looked at the sign and saw it had a crudely drawn smiley face with a smug smile on it. "It's like a little smiley face dude," Chirru continued. He suddenly spun the sign so fast it blurred and when it stopped, Sasuke saw it had suddenly become a picture of himself looking at Chirru, "And you're like whoa, what is this guy doing showing me pictures and stuff, but it's like totally cool because it's like, all part of my plan you know?"

Sasuke raised an eyebrow in confusion, continuing to look at the picture as Chirru went on, "Cause like by now, you're like, trapped in my genjutsu and when you look at me, you're gonna like totally freak out..." Sasuke tore his eyes away from the picture and looked at Chirru only to recoil in horror and disgust as he saw what had been behind Chirru's mask: A horrible slavering insect mouth with inch long fanged mandibles dripping with toxic looking foam.

"But it's like totally cool ya know?" Chirru gurgled as he tucked the sign away and suddenly rose. Sasuke looked and backed away in horror as he saw that Chirru's lower body had become the back half of a horse sized spider. Chirru gestured vaguely with his hands, "You're all like whoaaa dude's a spider man! That's like so not cool! But it's cool, it's cool, cuz like, you're not gonna live long enough to have to deal with it, so like you got no cause to worry."

Sasuke's whole body felt like lead as Chirru opened his eyes...all eight of them. Chirru kept talking, "And it's like even better because you'll be totally dead before anyone else. You're not gonna have to see all your friends die like really horrible deaths, so ya know, no like mental scarring or whatever. You can just die now and like not even have to worry about it."

Chirru suddenly sprang forward and pinned Sasuke under his massive spider body. He scratched his chin and pointed up at the balcony, "Oh hey, who's that little cutie with the pink hair? Is she like your girlfriend or something?" "YOU LEAVE HER ALONE!" Sasuke bellowed only for Chirru to spit some kind of white goop over Sasuke's mouth so that he couldn't talk before saying, "Dude, when we burn the Leaf Village to the ground, I am gonna do like, so many uncool things with her, but it's like not even gonna matter, cause she's gonna like be dead afterwards, so no biggy."

Sasuke struggled furiously as Chirru looked over at someone Sasuke couldn't see, "Oh we're starting already? Okay cool." He suddenly raised up slightly and covered Sasuke in more of the white goo which Sasuke could now tell to be webbing. Chirru lifted Sasuke and Sasuke saw the Rain nin locked in combat with the Leaf Sand and Sound nin, Lord Hokage dead in his chair and the Rain nin rapidly gaining the upper hand. Chirru suddenly threw Sasuke down and leapt at Sakura, slamming her into the ground and covering her in webbing like he had Sasuke.

What felt like hour after horrible hour passed as Sasuke saw his friends tortured in front of him, the village burning to the ground, its people lying dead and dying in streets, Naruto finally snapping and unleashing the Nine Tailed Fox only for it to be somehow beaten and killed...the horrors went on and on. Finally the horrors stopped and Sasuke was left clutching Sakura's body to his chest, tears pouring down his face as carrion crows picked at his friends corpses around him.

"Sakura...Sakura please, open your eyes, speak to me!" Sasuke begged, his throat catching and his voice shaking with sobs, "Don't leave me! Please! Don't...don't leave me..." His voice, harsh from what felt like days of screaming, finally abandoned him as he dissolved into helpless heartbroken sobs.

"Poor Sasuke..." a sinister voice said coldly from behind him. Sasuke's eyes snapped open, "No, not him...he can't be here!" Sasuke looked over his shoulder and saw a black haired figure sitting atop the still forms of Sasuke's friends. Sasuke set Sakura down as Itachi smiled at him, "Still too weak. Always too weak to save anyone." "Shut up..." Sasuke snarled as he rose shakily to his feet, "Shut up..." "Nooo Sakura!" Itachi moaned mockingly, "No please don't leave me! Don't leave me like mommy and daddy!"

Sasuke's eyes burned with rage as Itachi laughed. "I'LL KILL YOU!" He roared as he lunged at Itachi only for Itachi to dissolve into crows. As the crows flapped around him, tearing into him viciously with claws and beaks too numerous to block or escape, Sasuke swung madly, lashing out violently in every direction. A hand suddenly touched his shoulder and he whirled, jamming his kunai into the chest of the person behind him.

Sakura's eyes were wide as they bored into his very soul and blood started leaking from her mouth, "" She collapsed into his arms as the life faded from her eyes. Sasuke stared at her in horror, then it all finally became too much for him, "SAKURAAAAAAAAAA!!!" He bellowed at the sky before his head collapsed against hers and the tears flowed freely. Suddenly Sakura's voice cut through the horror and pain, not into his ears, directly into his mind, "Sasuke behind you!" Sasuke rolled instinctively and a blade sliced through the air next to him. He sprang back and the blade slammed into the ground where he had been crouched.

He looked and saw Chirru, no longer a spider, just his lean lanky self hefting a huge halberd. Sasuke's eyes burned with rage, "You..." he said in the most murderous tone that he had ever used. He sprang at Chirru, and even though Chirru back pedaled and wielded his halberd expertly trying to fend Sasuke off, it was like he was telegraphing worse than any opponent Sasuke had ever had. He was lightning quick, but he seemed to be moving in slow motion to Sasuke as he sprang and jumped and ducked and dodged around the massive pole arm, too intent on his target to notice the world flickering around him.

Blood roared in his ears as he finally got inside Chirru's guard and jumped, slamming an uppercut into the lanky ninja's jaw with everything he had. Chirru staggered backwards, his halberd falling from his grasp as he collapsed. Sasuke didn't give him the slightest opportunity to get back up, so focused on exacting his revenge that he didn't even notice the horrid apocalypse disappearing around him in an instant like it had never existed.

He sat on Chirru's chest and hit him in the face with everything he had. Then he hit him again, and again, and again and again, not even caring as blood flew and skin tore beneath his knuckles. He didn't hear Gecko declare the match over, didn't hear him yell at Sasuke to cut it out, didn't hear anything until Gecko caught him by the back of the shirt and hurled him off Chirru. Sasuke rolled to his feet, still not quite back to his senses and tensing to spring even as Gecko drew a sword and got ready to stop him if he tried to get at Chirru again while the other Rain nin and even several of the Leaf nin leapt into the ring to back Gecko up if he needed it.

Suddenly three strong sets of hands had him and his vision was full of pink as Sakura yelled in his ear, "SASUKE STOP IT!" Sasuke finally snapped out of the killing rage he had been in and his eyes and mind cleared as medics rushed to work on Chirru. He blinked as the red faded from his vision, "Sakura?" She leaned back a little so she could look him in the eye, "Yes, it's okay, I'm right here. I'm okay." She gave a little yelp of surprise as Sasuke suddenly yanked his arms free of Kakashi and Naruto's grip to wrap Sakura in a hug so tight that a voice in the back of her mind worried her armor would crumple.

"Thank god," Sasuke whispered shakily, "Thank god." He nearly collapsed with sheer relief and Sakura had to help him back to the sidelines. He was so focused on her that he didn't notice the stares, or Kakashi and Naruto following him closely and watching him like hawks, or Gecko conferring quietly with Lord Hokage and Hattori Hanzo.

I'm sure you're burning with questions about Sasuke's fight, so I'm going to answer those first. Yes, Sasuke totally snapped, whatever control he had went completely out the window, and yes he would have beaten Chirru to death if Gecko hadn't pulled him off.

I couldn't go into detail about what Sasuke saw because it would probably have doubled the length of this chapter and I'd have had to kick the rating up to whatever's above R. Let's leave it at horrible enough that Sasuke's going to be in a very fragile state of mind for quite some time because of it.

No, Chirru can't really turn into a giant spider thingy. It was just part of the genjutsu to make Sasuke see all his worst fears realized. Yes that does mean Sasuke is afraid of spiders.

Someone out there is probably thinking that making him see Itachi is cliche and obvious. I think it's perfectly reasonable for Itachi showing up to mock him to be the icing on the cake, and then tricking Sasuke into "killing Sakura" to be the last straw to make Sasuke snap.

How he heard Sakura through the genjutsu is a surprise for later. Sorry, but trust me it's worth the wait.

On the Hinata vs Neji fight, yes, Hinata and Naruto have found a way to render Gentle Fist completely useless along with as Kakashi said possibly half the ninjutsu in existence. I can't tell you what it is yet, but you'll find out what it is by the final tournament.

Yes Hinata has Lightning Release and Live Wire Jutsu, while not the signature technique I came up with for her, is a component of it. You'll probably see it during the final tournament.

Yes it does rankle extremely sorely with Hinata that she was kicked out for being "weak" and yes she is quite determined to prove those who doubted her wrong and take back her rightful place within her clan.

Yes Naruto is extremely protective of Hinata and he is much more level headed than in canon, so yes, this really is the first time Sakura's ever seen him steaming mad.

Finally is the first fight, Sakura vs Ino. Yes Ino is skilled enough to lay genjutsu within genjutsu, she's been trained specially for that and has had a lot of training time with Kurenai and other genjutsu specialists.

Yes Sakura has learned, among others, the Shadow Army Jutsu from Naruto and the Fireball Jutsu from Sasuke, in addition to honing a considerable talent for Earth Release and her not too inconsiderable physical strength.

I'm sure the thought has probably crossed your mind by now that nearly everybody in these preliminaries has to be at least Jonin level. In canon yes they would be. However in AUDTAI, Jonin level is a fair deal more than it is in canon, as the candidates we've seen thus far are actually only at about chunin level instead of jonin, some variations in there about whether they'd be at "new chunin" or "experienced chunin" but all are at AUDTAI's chunin levels.

Next Time! The End of The Preliminaries!Edit