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Chapter 11-The Preliminaries Heat Up! Hidden Rain's Incredible Ferocity!

Fury of the Striking Thunderer! Gaara's Power Unleashed!Edit

The next set of names flashed onto the screen and Kankuro pointed, "Hey Gaara , looks like you're up!" Gaara nodded, "Indeed it does." He rose on a platform of sand and floated down to the arena floor, landing at the same time as his opponent, a highly muscle bound young man with spiky black hair in a black shirt and pants. Gaara's sand platform coalesced into a ring of writhing sand tendrils around his feet as he advanced forward to the starting position.

Gecko looked at them, "Alright, third match, Gaara Shiroihebi against Wakai Sandara. Ready? Begin!" Wakai shot forward almost too fast to see. Gaara's sand snapped up and caught Wakai's hand every bit as fast. Gaara's eyes were barely open even as Wakai began to circle his defensive ring of sand at such speeds he was little more than a blur. After about the tenth hit, Gaara didn't bother catching Wakai's hand, instead his sand surged upward in the shape of a fist and sent Wakai to the ground.

Gaara turned as his sand coiled around Wakai's legs and with a flick of his hand hurled Wakai across the ring. Wakai dissolved into a puddle of water and the real Wakai appeared behind Gaara, "You're fast!" Gaara dodged his punch by a hairs breadth as he continued, "But I'm faster!" twisting and actually managing to kick Gaara out of his defensive ring of sand before disappearing again before the sand could snare him.

He suddenly hit Gaara in the stomach with a kick hard enough to knock him flying backwards across the ring. Wakai held his pose for a second, then his eyes widened as Gaara dissolved into a pile of sand. Before he could move, the sand had him. Gaara's sand arms slammed Wakai into the ground several times before slithering away to form back up around the real Gaara, who was revealed to be over near where Wakai's water clone had broken.

Wakai started picking himself up. "Stay down," Gaara told him, "You fought well, but you're out of your league." Wakai rose to his feet, "Oh no, I'm not quitting. I never quit, and now, you've made me angry." His hands flashed through an activation sequence and his whole body started to crackle with lightning, "Rage of the Thunderer!" His body was silhouetted inside a shroud of lightning as he shot forward, chasing Gaara as he shot around the ring on another floating sand platform. He effortlessly dodged Gaara's sand attacks which slammed into the ground repeatedly with the force of an avalanche trying to hit him.

"You are indeed fast!" Wakai roared, "But what happens when I'm faster?!" He suddenly appeared right in front of Gaara, his fist pulled back for a devastating punch. His fist snapped out too fast to see, but just as everyone flinched, expecting to see Gaara go flying, they heard a loud WHOOMPH. They looked on in awe as Wakai struggled to free his hand from a massive sand claw Gaara had materialized around his hand.

Wakai threw another punch too fast to see and Gaara caught that too. "What happens when you think you're faster?" Gaara asked menacingly, "You find out that I'm full of surprises." Gaara's sand held Wakai spread eagled and Gaara moved into a stance, "Now then, this time," a gauntlet of sand formed around his hand, hardening instantly to the density of steel, "Stay..." He threw a punch into Wakai with such force that Wakai went flying backwards clear across the arena and slammed into the wall, "DOWN!"

Gaara's sand platform dissipated beneath him and as he dropped to the floor, he yelled, "Desert Meteor Storm!" Wakai was trying to pick himself up, but Gaara's sand platform suddenly became a hundred rock hard globs that bombarded him from every direction. By the time Gaara let up the merciless barrage, Wakai was unconscious, beaten and bloody, his lightning shroud fizzling out. Gaara's sand flew back to him, continuing to hover around him in a cloud of menace. "Don't make me tell you again," Gaara warned.

Gecko walked over to Wakai, and looked him over before raising a hand, "The winner is-" POOM! Wakai disappeared with a sound like a thunder clap and suddenly reappeared inside Gaara's defenses, delivering a tremendous full body punch that sent Gaara flying backward almost ten feet and rolling another fifteen. Gaara looked at him and clenched his fist, "Sand coffin." Wakai disappeared from the center of the cloud of sand as it slammed closed like a steel trap. He reappeared above Gaara, a fist pulled back and sheathed in lightning ready to deliver a devastating final blow.

Just as he was about to connect, Gaara pulled a substitution, and Wakai's fist slammed into Gaara's sand. Before even Wakai could react, the sand trapped his hand and legs. Gaara made a crushing and yanking motion with his hand, "Sand burial!" Wakai screamed in pain and collapsed as the sand around his legs and arm suddenly imploded on his trapped limbs and pulled with tremendous force. There was no doubt, his arm and legs were very broken. Gaara wasn't done though. His sand slithered away slightly before suddenly turning back into a cloud of fists and unleashing another Desert Meteor Storm on Wakai's helpless form.

"Now when I tell you to stay down," Gaara said quietly as his sand retreated back into his gourd, "Stay down."

Gecko ran over and this time he was faster, "The winner is Gaara Shiroihebi!"

Blind Determination in the Face of Blind DestructionEdit

The next match was being announced even as Wakai was being carried out. "The fourth match, Rock Lee against Dai Uzumaki!" Everyone on the Leaf and Sand side of the arena stared, "UZUMAKI?!" Gaara turned and stared as one of the Rain genin leapt over the rail and landed on the arena floor, punching it with such force that the massive block tile he landed on shattered.

He rose and they saw that beneath his blazing red hair he was blindfolded. He wore a black cloak around his shoulders that obscured much of his upper body and black pants. As he rose, Gaara felt a chill run down his spine and leapt up and away from the blindfolded ninja as fast as he could. He landed on a sand platform and willed it to rise quickly as sweat broke out all over his body. He caught Lee as Lee leapt into the arena, "You need to be careful with this one. He's far stronger than the others."

Lee raised an eyebrow then nodded, "Thank you, I will keep it in mind." Gaara nodded, his whole body still tense even ten feet off the ground and twenty from the blindfolded ninja who seemed to be looking at them right through his blindfold. As Lee leapt to the floor below and settled into fighting position, Gaara landed next to Naruto, "I see what you mean. He's dangerous. He's on our level, and murderous to boot."

Naruto nodded, "I know. I just hope Lee can handle whatever this guy's packing." Gaara's eyes were wide as Gecko called "Begin!" "We're about to find out." Dai suddenly moved too fast to see and hit Lee in the chest with a flat handed strike that knocked him straight backward into the wall with such force Naruto was certain he felt it shake a little. Lee staggered out from beneath the viewing balcony and resumed his fighting stance before charging.

He proceeded to open up a series of incredibly fast and hard strikes that would have devastated any ordinary opponent. Dai blocked everything he threw with one hand before back handing Lee hard enough to knock him reeling. Before Lee could even begin to recover, Dai spun and dropped an axe kick into his back. Lee hit the ground hard, and a long rod of black metal suddenly appeared in Dai's hand.

He raised it over his head like a javelin and missed Lee by mere inches as Lee rolled just in time. Lee quickly sprang back and Dai whirled his staff into a ready position. "Lee, take em off!" Guy suddenly yelled. Lee turned and looked at him, "What? But you said..." Dai cut him off by hitting him in the back of the head with a full body horizontal swing of his staff. Lee rolled across the floor and only narrowly managed to dodge Dai's staff as it came sailing after him like a javelin.

Lee leapt upward and quickly yanked two white somethings out of his brown legwarmers. He spun and deflected the knife Dai threw at him with one of them before throwing them one after the other like throwing stars. "Leg weights," Kakashi said, "Guy you are too much." Dai sprang backwards and they slammed into the ground as hard as he had earlier. Everyone stared as they realized how much weight Lee had been carrying.

Lee suddenly moved as fast as Wakai had during his fight with Gaara. Just as the Leaf and Sand teams were about to cheer, Dai caught Lee's invisibly fast punch without even looking. Lee's eyes widened and then Dai yanked him up and over his shoulder, mercilessly and repeatedly slamming him into the ground like a flail with one hand. He finally spun and threw Lee across the ring. Lee flipped midair and managed to skid to avoid a bone breaking impact with the wall.

Dai waited patiently for his next opening and then Lee panted as he unwound the bandages around his hands. Then he shot forward in a move Guy recognized as the Primary Lotus. Suddenly there was a meaty smack as Dai intercepted Lee, catching him by the face and then slamming him into the ground. Dai leapt upward and used the weight of his fall to drive a rib cracking pile driver into Lee's torso. As he was walking away, Lee dragged himself back to his feet, his lungs hemorrhaging, "We're not done."

Dai turned half to face him, a slight smile on his face, "Then I hope you've got an ace up your sleeve, or you're just going to get hurt." "You have no idea," Lee snarled. Guy clasped his hands and started praying as Lee crossed his arms into a defensive X, "Third Gate! GATE OF LIFE!" Kakashi, Asuma and Kurenai all lunged forward against the rail in horror as Lee's whole body turned red and began to glow with chakra, "GUY YOU IDIOT! WHAT DID YOU DO?!" Kakashi bellowed as a tremendous wind came howling out of nowhere.

Lee seemed to finally have Dai's full attention as the chakra flowing around him turned green and gravity itself seemed to reverse as Lee roared, "FOURTH GATE! GATE OF PAIN!" Before even Dai could react Lee disappeared and finally managed to connect with a tremendous kick that knocked Dai twenty feet into the air. Dai hung in the air for a second as the speed of Lee's passing and the impact of his kick created a massive shockwave, "Well you've finally gotten interesting," he said with a grin.

He narrowly blocked the kick that struck seemingly out of thin air and then had his hands full as the air around him filled with shock waves from the strength and speed of Lee's blows. It was like he was trapped in a bubble of thunder as he and Lee exchanged a hurricane of incredibly powerful strikes too fast for a human eye to see. Suddenly Lee appeared, catching Dai's cloak, "FIFTH GATE! GATE OF CLOSING! HIDDEN LOTUS!!!"

He yanked Dai into a tremendous kick and simultaneous punch, launching Dai into the ground with such force the entire tower shook as the whole arena floor shattered under the force of the impact. Dai pushed himself up onto all fours, and went right back down as Lee hit him with the very last ounce of strength he had and the speed of a rocket. Dai twitched as Lee collapsed onto his back.

Then Dai grunted, "Well, that hell of an ace." he started pushing himself upright but only managed to rise to his hands and knees, and was stunned to see Lee doing the same. He wasn't nearly as stunned as the Leaf Jonin though, who knew what opening even one of the Chakra Gates entailed, let alone five. Dai's eyes widened as Lee grunted, "I will, not, lose!"

He suddenly sprang forward on the last ounce of strength in his good leg and head butted Dai in the face before falling flat. Dai fell onto his side, unconscious, and Lee dragged himself forward with his good arm. He hauled himself on top of Dai and put him in a headlock. He shakily raised his left hand, which had shattered under the force of the pile driver he had used on Dai earlier, "I win!" he called weakly before passing out.

Everyone stared in shock and then someone started clapping slowly, "Bravo!" Hattori Hanzo called from the door, Suigetsu and Haku poking their heads out from behind him as the dust settled. He strolled over as Gecko recovered from his shock and declared, "The winner is, Rock Lee!"

Hattori examined Dai and Lee closely, his eyes glowing behind his mask before he straightened up, "MEEEDIIICS!" he bellowed at the door. Half a dozen medics skidded and ran in with stretchers. Hattori pointed to Lee, "This genin needs medical treatment immediately. When he wakes up, tell him he won." They gently lifted Lee onto a stretcher as Guy ran down to check on him.

Then everyone stared as Hattori picked up Dai by the back of his cloak with one hand and shook him, "Oi Dai, wake up." Dai stirred and then looked around, seeming to forget his blindfold, "What?" Hattori picked him up to eye level, "You lost that's what." Dai hung his head, "Sorry Hattori sensei. He surprised me." Hattori sighed and unceremoniously dropped him, "Well there's nothing to do about it now. You'll just have to do better next time." Dai scrambled to his feet and saluted, "Yes Hattori sensei."

Hattori pointed to the balcony, "Now get back up there with your team." Dai nodded, "Yes sensei." He turned and effortlessly sprang back up to the balcony, earning stares and dropped jaws of shock from everyone who didn't know him. Hattori looked up at Lord Hokage, "I apologize for my tardiness Lord Hokage, I only received word of these preliminaries an hour ago. I hope you don't mind if I sit in? I'd like to see how my genin fare, even if they don't make it to the final tournament."

Lord Hokage shook his head, "Not at all. Of course you may watch." Hattori smiled, "Thank you Lord Hokage. Come on Haku, Suigetsu. Let's get to our seats so the show can continue!" Haku caught his shoulder, "Hattori, I'd like to go check on Lee. He's a friend." Hattori looked at her and then nodded, "Of course. While you're in there, find out what that was he was using. I want to look into it. Anything strong enough to make Dai rely on his reserve seal to even remain conscious merits looking into." Haku nodded, "Right."

As Haku headed out Naruto nodded, "So that's how he did it." Everyone else looked at him, "What?" Naruto looked at them, "How Dai was able to get back up after that fight. He's got a reserve seal; he's got chakra stored somewhere on him that he can access if he gets tired or knocked out. If he runs out before he can access it though, he can still be knocked out like normal. That's how Lee was able to knock him out."

Then he frowned, "And wasn't that the girl from the bridge that was working with Zabuza?" Before anyone could answer Gecko was announcing the next match, "Next match, Shikamaru Nara against Kin Tsuchi." Shikamaru groaned, "Whaaat? I gotta fight a girl?"

Shikamaru's "Chivalry" and the Sound of BellsEdit

Shikamaru was still very displeased as he stood across from Kin and Gecko declared the fight beginning. Kin sprang back and landed in a ready position. Shikamaru just raised an eyebrow at her and stood there. The stillness lasted for several minutes and then Kin got angry, "Well?! Are you going to do anything?"

Shikamaru shrugged, "I don't hit girls." Kin's jaw dropped as snickers escaped several of the rain genin. A fistful of needles appeared in Kin's hand, "Fine then, makes my job that much easier!" She threw her needles in a small storm and Shikamaru casually leapt out of the way, landing in the same bored pose he had been in an instant before. Kin growled and threw another fistful of needles, which Shikamaru dodged again. Then suddenly he staggered with a gasp of pain as the horrid raucous sound of a dozen massive bells clanging suddenly sounded in his head.

Kin smiled viciously, "Sounds pretty terrible doesn't it?" Shikamaru looked at her and found his balance so helplessly shot that he could barely move as Kin threw another handful of needles right on point. Shikamaru grunted as one of the needles stuck in his leg, most of them caught in his thickly padded jacket. Shikamaru growled, "So that's your trick huh?" He made a hand sign irritably, "Shadow possession jutsu!" His shadow suddenly shot out from under him towards Kin.

Kin didn't know what it was, but she knew she didn't want it catching her. Shikamaru's shadow proceeded to chase her around the arena floor and then suddenly Kin felt something catch her feet and looked down. Shikamaru had laid a second shadow as a trap and chased her right into it. She found her entire body paralyzed as Shikamaru's jutsu took effect.

Shikamaru scratched his nose, Kin scratched her nose. Shikamaru scratched his head, Kin scratched hers. He walked towards her, she walked towards him. Shikamaru turned around, Kin turned around. Shikamaru made another hand sign without looking, "Shadow bind!" Suddenly Kin was slammed into the ground and tied up by the somehow suddenly solid shadows. Shikamaru proceeded to sit on top of her. Kin squirmed and shrieked indignantly, "What are you doing?!" Shikamaru didn't respond, he just pulled a bottle and a rag from his belt pouch and poured a bit of the contents of the bottle onto the rag.

He proceeded to stick the rag over Kin's nose and she immediately held her breath. Then Shikamaru gave her a squeeze in an inappropriate place with his shadows and she instinctively sucked in a breath to shriek at him, only to remember too late the chloroform in front of her nose. Thirty seconds later she stopped squirming and went limp. Shikamaru pulled the cloth from in front of her nose and tucked it back into his pouch before resting his chin in one hand and declaring in a bored voice, "I win."

Gecko blinked and then nodded and raised a hand, "The winner is Shikamaru Nara."

Paper Paper Everywhere And A Cyclone In A SnitEdit

The next match had Gaara, Kankuro and their instructor Sasori trying to hide behind Naruto and all the Rain Genin trying to hide behind Dai and the second instructor. Everyone else looked at them in confusion as the screen blazed, "Temari Shiroihebi vs Kita Kamihito." Temari walked down the stairs to the arena floor and cast a cool gaze out the corner of her eye at the gorgeous young woman matching her stride and mirroring her gaze precisely.

Sakura looked at Gaara, Kankuro and Sasori, "Why are you guys hiding behind Naruto?" Gaara looked up at her from where he was crouched, "Because Dad's not here and Naruto's the only other person I've ever seen throw down with Temari on a level playing field." Kankuro nodded, "Trust me, it's way safer back here." Sakura looked at Sasori, "Aren't you supposed to be a Jonin?" "I am a Jonin," Sasori replied, "So I'm smart enough to know when to duck and cover. Like right now."

There was a sudden explosion of wind that knocked everyone in the stands to the wall except Naruto, Dai, Hattori and the one other Rain instructor who had raised a wall of storm clouds around himself and the Rain genin behind him. Even Lord Hokage was flipped along with his chair. Naruto had to dig in to avoid being blown back as he reached out and caught Hinata. Kankuro looked at Sakura as she picked herself up, "Told ya."

Down in the ring Temari swung her massive fan again and unleashed another cyclone. Kita dissolved into a flurry of paper that flew around within the whirlwind before reforming, her arms crossed with an amused expression like she was trying not to crack up. Temari snarled, her eyes widening in rage. She tucked her fan back through her sash and started flashing her hands through an activation sequence and had to dodge as a flurry of white shuriken came flying at her. She managed to finish the activation sequence, but then the white shuriken exploded midair.

Temari was thrown backwards and knocked skidding across the floor. She managed to drag herself partially upright and throw herself out of the way as another volley of white shuriken came flying at her. Temari repeated her activation sequence as she ran, dodging white shuriken every step. She finally got close and yelled, "Let's see you laugh this off! Dragon Flame Jutsu!" She suddenly blew out a massive torrent of flames.

The minute it touched Kita, she exploded. Temari was knocked across the ring again and Kita seemed to materialize out of thin air, a hand covering her mouth to conceal a large smile as her eyes danced with mirth and her shoulders shook with laughter. Then Temari disappeared in a puff of smoke and Kita's expression changed to wary in an instant. Temari appeared behind her an instant later with a massive boulder raised over her head and slammed it down on top of her.

Temari leaned against the boulder with a massive grin, "Ha! Paper weight!" Then she suddenly cried out in pain as several something's skated along the surface of the boulder, slicing her arm on the way past. Temari leapt back and suddenly the boulder exploded apart around a forest of massive white spikes. Temari clutched the stinging cut on her arm as the white spikes whirled and folded, suddenly turning into Kita. Kita smiled smugly from on top of the rubble, "Nice try, but I'm afraid it's my turn now."

She suddenly turned solid white and there was a sound of paper rustling as her form bulged and changed. In seconds Temari was staring at a massive origami dragon. Kita struck and somehow her paper snout left a crater in the arena floor as Temari leapt out of the way. Suddenly Kita's tail whipped around and slammed into Temari. Temari caught the tail and then screamed in pain as the paper forming the tail suddenly frayed out like a thousand blades and whirled, shredding her palms and forcing her to turn loose. Then Kita struck with her fangs and slammed Temari into the ground, rock hard paper fangs sinking into her painfully.

Temari cried out in pain as the majority of Kita's paper dragon body reformed into her usual body, her arm remaining the dragon's head and pinning Temari to the ground. Kita made a hand sign with a sadistic grin as she suddenly detached the massive dragon head and reformed her arm as she leapt back. Temari reached up and shakily grabbed one of the dragon's horns in a bloody hand, then symbols flowed across every sheet of paper in the massive origami monstrosity. Temari's eyes widened with horror as she recognized the markings of a huge mass of paper bombs. An instant later, they went off. Gaara, Kankuro, Sasori and Naruto were on the verge of leaping down into the ring to get to her as there wasn't even a peep from the massive cloud of smoke and ash where Temari had been.

Kita smiled smugly and then a very scorched looking Temari leapt out of the ground in an explosion of dirt behind her. She raised one hand to her lips in a hand sign, "Waterfall Jutsu!" Kita's expression was suddenly one of horror as a massive torrent of water exploded from Temari's lips.

In seconds Kita's paper form was utterly soaked and limp. Temari strode forward shakily, gritting her teeth against the pain as Kita desperately released her paper body transformation with a pained gasp to keep her body from collapsing into an irreparable soggy mess. Temari's grin stretched from ear to ear as she caught Kita's shoulder, clenched a bloody fist, and threw a full body punch into her jaw that sent her flying across the ring. Temari shook her hand, "Yeah, that'll, that'll teach ya," she panted, obviously still in a great deal of pain.

Gecko looked at Kita, who despite not being very hurt was soundly unconscious and raised a hand, "The winner is Temari Shiroihebi!" Temari wobbled on her feet slightly as she straightened up full of well earned pride, blood leaking from numerous cuts and burns, "Damn, damn right..." She said with a swing of her fist that tried to be triumphant but instead simply threw her balance off and sent her crashing to the ground.