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Description

When she wasn't with Gaara, Zeva was residing in the Mud Village's library, researching new jutsus that could be learned by her and taking notes on techniques of how to learn them.  She was extremely talented at her ninjutsu by now as well as her taijutsu.  And as for her special eyes, she had already mastered the uses of those.  The name for the eyes that the Nivito clan had passed down through generations was the Kanjogan.  Zeva had learned this name for them on her tenth birthday.  Her father had taught her the real uses of it as a birthday gift.  She would not have had it any other way...

It was morning time when her father first acknowledged that it was her birthday.  They were having breakfast.  “Happy birthday Zeva.  I am so proud of all of your progress in the last year or so.  You have done so well.  And as a reward for all of your hard work, I have a special birthday present for you.”

Zeva paused her eating and looked up from her food skeptically.  Her father had never in all of her years given her a birthday present let alone a very special one.  “What is it father?”

“It is the gift of knowledge.  I'm sure that you have utilized the unique eyes that you were born with to every extent that was necessary when it comes to training as well as everyday life, have you not?”

“Yes father.  The eyes of Yukon Saruka are a wonderful kekkei genkai that I am extremely grateful to possess.”

“Well then, I assume that means that you are ready to take this trait to a whole new level.”

She put down her chopsticks eagerly.  “Yes father.  I am ready.” She was determined.  New skills and jutsu were exactly what she needed to begin mastering.

“Well today I am going to teach you the history of your eyes, as well as show you the real way to put them to use.  First off, there is a name for them, as there is for all kekkei genkai ocular jutsu.  The name is called Kanjogan.  When you are looking at things in plain view, indeed, you can see magnificence that no one outside of our clan could even dream of, but when you actually use them, the possibilities can be endless.  Let me show you what it looks like, watch carefully.”   Keth stared deeply into his daughter's eyes as she stared back in shear amazement, eagerly awaiting her first glimpse at a new power that would probably help her kill him.  He seemed extremely focused for a split second and then he uttered the word, “Kanjogan!”  Instantly, the black pupils expanded in his eyes until there was nothing left but two jet black pits in the middle of his face.

“Whoaa.”  was Zeva's only response.

“Now I am not only able to see what people are feeling, but I can see straight through them.  I can peer into their souls.  When you activate your eyes you can know what kind of person someone is just by looking at them.  You can see and know their aura.  Everyone's chakra flow will appear a different color to a Kanjogan user depending on who they are.  You are a kind person Zeva.  You have an aura that I have never seen before in the Nivito clan.  I was fearful of this when I first discovered it when you were just a baby.  A girl, and a soft hearted one at that.  But you have proven that kindness can be savage in its own way.  It's hard to explain how much activating the Kanjogan enhances your emotional ocular senses, but you'll know exactly what I mean when you do it yourself.  Go ahead, try it.”

Zeva was anxious.  She could feel her stomach turning in excitement as she prepared to take her eyes to the next level.  What she knew that her father did not was that her eyes were different, better, than any Nivito could ever dream.  She stood up from her place.  “Okay, here I go.”  She concentrated for a second and then looked up at her father.  “Kanjogan!”

Suddenly, everything became painfully clear.  It hurt and it made her feel as if she might pass out.  But she had to play it cool.  She didn't want to seem weak in front of her father.  The aura around him was venom.  It was black and it hurt her to be around him.  She had figured out how to control her eyes so that she did not have to feel everyone's emotions who were around her, but once she activated her eyes it came back at 100 times force.  She could feel her fathers evil and hatred consuming her.  She could feel his greed and his lust for power.  She could feel the fact that he did not love her.  He did not care for her, he only cared for the preservation of the clan.  She was more aware of absolutely everything, even scents and sounds.  Activating her Kanjogan was using way too much chakra and the pain of it was making her woozy.  She had to turn it off.  She would practice with it later.  “Wow.  Amazing.  You're right.  I could have never known what you meant about the activation of the Kanjogan enhancing things until I personally experienced it.  Father, this is the best thing that anyone has ever given me.  Knowledge of a great power that is the essence of my heritage.”  She shot him a counterfeit smile.  “I'm going to go train.  You can come join me whenever you want so you can get some last minute training in with me before you go on your mission.  Aren't you leaving tonight?”

“Yes.  I am.  I won't have time to train with you.  I have to set a few things in order today before I leave tonight.  I'm sorry.”

Yesss!  She thought to herself.  She was merely pressing her father for information so she knew if she was going to be able to have some time alone.  “Oh.  Okay father.  Good luck on your mission.  I will train hard while you're away.”

He nodded.  “Happy birthday Zeva.”...

 

Since then she had practiced with her Kanjogan activated until she had become better than a pro with it.  It was the easiest ability that she mastered.  She was always adept with her eyes and she felt her kindness and understanding had a lot to do with her skill at using the Kanjogan.  She was never able to come up with a way to stop feeling other people's feelings while it was activated.  It was too intense of an ocular jutsu and she came to a conclusion that as long as she had her eyes activated she would have to feel other people's sorrows and evil.  What she could accomplish though was learning to cope with what other people were emitting to her.  She had trained herself to be oblivious to what people felt.  She learned to not let it affect her in any way if she didn't want it too.

During the time that she spent at the library she had learned a lot about jutsu and controlling chakra.  So much so that she was able to learn a few complicated jutsus that her father probably wouldn't have taught her, therefore he wouldn't ever see them coming.  She also was successful at creating some of her own jutsus.  She liked combining both earth and water style when creating her own jutsus, something that no one in the Nivito clan had ever done before.

Lately, she had been reading a book that was all about forbidden jutsu.  Most of the jutsus  in the book were horrendous.  They required awful and inhumane things in order to be done.  But there was one specific one that she had become fixated on.  The spirit resurrection merging jutsu.  It said that if at any point in time a spirit was sealed inside of someone, that spirit was permanently within that person.  However, when the person dies, the spirit went to rest with the person that it was possessing.  At that point, any of the direct descendents of the dead person could resurrect the spirit and seal it inside of them.  The only requirements of this jutsu were willingness to fuse yourself with a demon for the rest of your life.

Zeva thought that this jutsu would be her ace in the hole when it came to her father and the Kazekage.  If she could merge with Arukana she would be unstoppable.  There were some risks, like Arukana could go crazy or not like her and terrorize her for the rest of her life.  She could ruin herself rather than help herself, but she was confident in her skills and she knew that she could tame the beast and learn how to control him.  However, the book did not give instruction on exactly how to do any of these jutsus, just a brief description of them.  She needed to find someone who specialized in this forbidden art to teach her.  No one in the Nivito clan even ventured into that kind of dark stuff.  She knew it was time that she graduated from her father to a new sensui.  But she also knew that whoever was able to teach her this stuff would not be someone to trust very much.

Ever since she began researching things about Arukana she discovered many things about the Shukaku demon that Gaara had inside of him.  It was much, much different than Arukana.  It was 1 of 9 demon beasts.  Each beast had a different number of tails and long ago they were all one demon that had ten tails.  A legendary man referred to as the sage of six paths was said to have separated it into nine to evenly distribute its great power so that it did not rein havoc on the shinobi world.  Now, the 5 great nations strived to seal the tailed beasts inside of members in their villages in order to gain power and advantage over other nations.  These humans that were fused with one of the nine beasts were called Jinchuuriki.  Zeva understood that there were eight more people like Gaara out there in the world somewhere and she was determined to find them once she saved Gaara.  They most likely needed someone just as much as Gaara did, and even if they didn't, she had to be sure.  She was obsessed with these Jinchuuriki.  She felt it was her life's purpose to protect them with everything that she had. 

She sighed and closed the forbidden jutsu book that she was looking at for the hundredth time and took it with her out of the library.  She was supposed to be meeting Gaara in his village soon for a little training and she was running late.

 

******

 

Zeva trained harder than she ever would have imagined humanly possible in the next few years of her life.  She had come to an agreement with Gaara that he would help her train and he would, by no means, go easy on her.  At first, he was reluctant to train with her so robustly, not wanting to see her get hurt.  But she explained to him how she embraced the pain.  She relished in it and there was no sense training at all if you weren’t going to feel things that you felt in a real battle, where the other person is actually trying to kill you.

“I like it.  No, actually, I love it.  With every scratch, bruise and grimace that is put upon me I become stronger.  And becoming stronger is all that concerns me at this moment in my life.”

Gaara was also fearful of losing control of himself as he fought and allowing the Shukaku to take him over.  That was one thing that he just could not stand to imagine:  losing Zeva because of the very demon within him that she accepted.  But Zeva understood that he must learn to control the Shukaku.  It was as much training for Gaara as it was for her.  If he was unsuccessful at gaining control over the demon, then it would be so easy for Lord Kazekage to turn him into the weapon that he desired.  But, if he could learn to manage the Shukaku's power, then he might be safe.  There was no better way for Gaara to learn this than to have Zeva’s life put at stake.  This, to her, was the ultimate form of training.

They were mid-train one windy day when Zeva began thinking of the matter that had been possessing her compulsive mind for about a month now.  She had come to the realization that, even though she was a borderline pro at her jutsus, they still may not be nearly enough to defeat both her father and the Kazekage.  She had her natural earth and water style jutsus, all of the unique and incredible jutsus that she had manifested on her own and she had her taijutsu, all of which she was extraordinary at.  She had already mastered her Kanjogan beautifully.  But it wasn't enough.  She needed to learn the forbidden jutsu that would merge her with Arukana.

Gaara's sand plowed into her and she melted into a puddle of water.  A water clone.  Suddenly two more of her appeared and attacked Gaara.  His sand defeated them as well.  Both water clones.  One more jumped out of a tree and weaved a hand sign.  It was her time skip jutsu.  She was able to skip over certain moments in time, making her seem as if she was traveling at an extremely high speed.  She would appear and reappear instantly, but when she reappeared she would be much farther away from the original spot where she began the jutsu.  It was different than the teleportation jutsu.  She was actually covering all of the ground, but to anyone but her, it seemed like she was covering 5 seconds of sprinting ground within an instant.

The time skipping Zeva confused Gaara's sand, he was sure that one was the real Zeva and as his sand was attacking it, another Zeva bursted out of a tree and punched him right in the face, knocking him to the ground.  The time skipping Zeva melted to the ground, revealing that it was just a water clone.  “Ha!  Got you!  That's the second time this week.  You're slipping.  Let's take a break.”  She grabbed some water and sat down under a tree.  When she trained with Gaara they only ever played one game:  seeing if Zeva could hit him.  If she was skilled enough to trick the sand, then she was skilled enough to trick anything.

Gaara sat down beside her.  “Good job.  I'm really learning to control the force of my sand now that we've been training together so much.  I know that you said to give it my all, but training myself to not give it my all is what I really need.”

“I know that!  Half of this training is about you learning to control the Shukaku.  I believe in you.  I know you can do it.”  She looked at Gaara.  He was 10.  The time was nearing for him to be used as a weapon and she decided that it was time to let him know.  “But I think it's time I let you in on a little secret.  The reason behind why I've been training so rigorously.”

“Huh.  I thought you just wanted to get stronger?”

“Yes.  That is why.  Well, half of it.  A while ago.  The very first time you met me, at the Kazekage's temple, I overheard your father and my father talking about some plans.  Sinister plans.”  She paused to swallow and ready for what she had to say.  “Your father is the one who put the Shukaku inside of you before you were born.  There are eight other beasts just like the Shukaku and the great nations like to seal them inside of people to use as military powers.  Your father along with mine are planning on using you as an ultimate weapon when they attack the Leaf Village with some Orochimaru guy.  I've kept this from you for a long time and I'm sorry, it's just hard to tell my best friend this because it's so horrible.  The reason I'm training so hard is because I decided back then that I must kill my father and your father if that's what it comes to in order to save you from the fate that they have planned for you.  I won't harm your father if that's not what you want, but just know, his plans for you are not well-intentioned.”

Gaara sat stunned for a moment.  He was taking all of this new information in.  “Well, you have my permission.  Don't hold back on my account.  But seriously, Zeva, the Kazekage and your father?  Do you really think you'll be able to handle that?  I'll help you.  I can't let you bare that burden alone.  You could die.”

“No.  It is my burden to bare.  At least, my father is.  If you want to help me with your father then that's fine.  But not mine.  I must do that alone.  Which brings me to what I've been wanting to tell you.  I've been researching forbidden jutsus and I found one that will allow me to merge with the ancient demon of my very first ancestor, Yukon.  If I could become one with Arukana just like Yukon was then I would definitely defeat my father.  The only problem is, I need someone to train me who is skilled with forbidden jutsu, this isn't something that I'll be able to accomplish on my own.  I think I need to travel and try and find a new sensui.  I've been keeping an eye out during my missions.  But, due to my request, I don't really go on any hardcore missions.  So I don't ever run into anyone very spectacular.”

“What?  You're going to attempt to mess with forbidden jutsu?  That's a horrible idea.  Do you realize that you will not find a sensui that will be able to teach you that kind of stuff that isn't an evil snake?  You'll be in danger with whoever it is.”

“Please.  I can take care of myself.  I'm not worried about having an evil sensui.  Yeah, I guess it's a little low, my first master was Keth Nivito and my second one is going to be a dark jutsu expert, but what else am I supposed to do?  Risk dying in the upcoming massacre that's going to happen?  No.  I'm determined that I will not die.  I will prevail and the only way I can be sure is if I get my hands on that jutsu formula.  I must leave.  My father has been pressing me to start going on more dangerous missions to test my skills for sometime now, but I have convinced him otherwise to keep myself from having to do dirty work that I don't agree with.  But I will tell him that I am ready so that I can have a chance to go out in search for my new sensui.”

Gaara was not happy, but he knew that once Zeva set her mind on something, she would obsess over it until it got done.  “Fine.  If it's all for the greater good.  And I guess I can't argue.  You're doing all of this to protect me.  I couldn't have asked for a better friend.”

They rested there for another 20 minutes before they got back up and started sparring vigorously for the rest of the day.

 

******

 

Zeva was sitting in the kitchen eating dinner with her father when her Aunt Renju came rushing into the house, with glazed eyes of fear and a face as pale as marble.

“Keth.  He is here.  He is here.  In our village.  He wants to speak with you about upcoming plans.”

Her father went from relaxed to stern in less than a second.  “Who is it Renju?  Is it Orochimaru?”

"Yes.  It is him.  The snake sage.  You should go take care of this and be quick about it.  The man is an experiment freak.  From what I've heard he is obsessed with learning as many jutsu as possible and the only reason he is still alive and young is because of the body transfer jutsu that he's been using.  He is an expert at forbidden jutsu and he loves people with extraordinarily and rare talents so I am not comfortable with him being in our village.”

Zeva choked a little on the food that was going down her throat when she heard her aunts words, “he is an expert at forbidden jutsu...”  This was it.  This was her new sensui.  He was in her village and she knew that only fate could have brought him there.  She would bide her time, wait until her father was gone for a little then she would follow him and stay far enough away that he would not notice.  She sensed that her father feared this man as much as her aunt, he was just better at hiding it, so he would be more focused on the words and actions of Orochimaru than anything else around him.  She was confident that he wouldn't notice her tailing him.

After about 10 minutes, she followed her fathers scent to the place where him and Orochimaru were talking.  She kept her distance.  They were talking about the upcoming plans for the destruction of the Leaf Village.  She listened to everything.  She didn't care about the details, all she cared about was finding out how much time that she had.  It was a little over a year.  Not much time at all.  They were waiting until Gaara was twelve.

Finally, her father left.  She waited until he was completely gone before she high tailed it after Orochimaru.  She caught up to him and jumped in front of him.  “Hi.  I'm Zeva.  You must be the great and feared Orochimaru that I've been hearing so much about.”

He was taken completely off guard, obviously not used to friendly little girls approaching him.  “Yes, I am.  And who might you be child?”

“I just told you.  I'm Zeva.  That man you were just talking to about the destruction of the Leaf.  That's my father.”

“So you're the Nivito clan's brat.  What do you want from me, you're trying my patience.”

“I want you to train me.  And I'm not leaving you alone until you agree.”

“How dare you speak to me like that brat.  I'll kill you.”

Zeva had her Kanjogan activated so she could sense his attack way before it happened.  She was ready to counter him.  She knew coming out here might be a fight and she was prepared to show her skills to this man.  Aunt Renju had said he was obsessed with rare and interesting shinobi, so now was her time to prove that she was worth training.  She weaved the hand sign for her time skip jutsu way before he sent his striking shadow snakes thrusting towards her.

As she skipped over a moment in time to escape Orochimaru's attack, she replaced her real self with a water clone, hiding the real one in a tree near by.  This way, even if she did screw up, he'd only be killing her water clone.

A huge grin crept across the pale, snakelike man's face.  “That's an interesting jutsu.  You are a lot more talented than you seem.  However, let's see you counter THIS.”

Again, she sensed his attack before it happened and she was already moving.  She weaved another hand sign.  “Water style, hidden mist jutsu.”  This was the jutsu that the Hidden Mist Village was known for.  It created a fog, thus blinding everyone and creating a disadvantage.  However, Zeva had her nose, her ears, and her eyes that could predict attack, so Orochimaru was the only one who was at a disadvantage.  She began attacking him from every angle with taijutsu, using her time skip jutsu to skip to a new area after ever blow.  This prevented him from accurately countering because he was unsure where the next attack would come from.”

He laughed a slick laugh.  “This mist jutsu is great, but let me teach you a little something about snakes.  They do not need eyes to see.  They see with their tongues, by analyzing the scents in the air.”  Just then, he delivered a menacing blow that knocked Zeva on her face.  She uplifted the mist jutsu, it was using too much chakra to be not working.

Orochimaru walked up to the hurt Zeva who was laying on the ground.  When she got hit, her water clone had dissolved, but she created another one to take it's place before uplifting the mist jutsu.  “You should have stayed at home and played.  Now, Nivito brat, you die.”  A snake shot out from under the sleeve of Orochimaru's robe and wrapped itself menacingly around her neck.  The water clone dissolved.  “What?!  A clone?”

At that moment, Zeva jumped onto Orochimaru's shoulders with a kunai held firmly on his neck.  “I win.  But I'm not going to try and kill you.  I'm not strong enough for that.  I just wanted to show you that if you think you can kill me so easy you're wrong.  The only way you're going to get rid of me is if you train me.  All I need to learn is this one thing.  Then I'll be out of your hair forever.”

“Okay girl, you've peaked my interest.  What is this one thing that you are so bent on learning that you are risking your life at my hands?”

“The spirit resurrection merger jutsu.  It's forbidden.  But there is a demon spirit that rests with one of my ancestors that I want to awaken and seal inside of myself.”

“Very curious.  So you are interested in Arukana?  I believe that I should be able to help you with this task.  Tell me, why is this so important to you.”

Zeva could sense Orochimaru's personality.  She knew he was a sly bastard.  He was a trickster and he loved devious mischief.  It was okay for her to tell him about killing her father.  She just couldn't tell him why.  “I wish to murder my father.  He is an evil person and he wishes things for me that I do not wish.  The only way for me to ever stop the madness is for one of us to kill the other.  I plan on being the one who comes out alive.  That's why I need this ace in the hole.  Also, if you train me, he cannot know.  The element of surprise is something that I am greatly relying on.  I know that you have business with my father, but his death will not hurt your plans.”

“Oh?  And why is that?”

“Because if I am successful at killing him, then I have proven my skills superior to his.  I know you are only using him for his Kanjogan and his power.  So if I prevail against him, then you have my word that I myself will serve in your plan as his replacement.”

 

******

 

Orochimaru raised an eyebrow curiously at Zeva.  To the naked eye one would get the impression that he was about to reject the offer, but Zeva could feel the cold excitement brewing within him.  It made her shiver.  She did not want him to be her sensui.  But she was sure that she could cope with it for a little while.  A smile crept across his scaly face.  “Excellent.  I will take you from your village and tell Keth that I am interested in the Kanjogan and I am going to borrow you for experimentation for a short while.  He won't be pleased, but he won't retaliate.”

“Okay.  Let's do it tonight.  I will be ready when the night falls.”

“Wonderful.”

He turned and jumped off, probably not venturing far since he would be coming back so shortly.

Zeva had to go directly to the Hidden Sand and tell Gaara that she'd be going.  She had to bring him enough ryo to last for a little while so he could afford to eat and have a roof over his head while she was gone.  When she got home her father wasn't there.  She didn't know where he was and she didn't have time to find out.  She hurried up to her room and grabbed all of her savings out of the trinket box on her night stand and shoved it in a little bag.  She indiscriminately and sloppily tossed a bunch of her favorite training close and shoes into a backpack and threw it in the corner of her room.  She created a water clone and left it to guard her room so when her father came back she could tell him she felt ill and did not want to be disturbed.  She would lock her door.  If Keth came face to face with the clone he would know it was a clone.

Zeva left discretely and hurried in the direction of the Sand Village.  She had to hurry and be back by dusk.  She couldn't afford to risk not being there when Orochimaru came.  This was too important.

As she made her way hastily to the Hidden Sand she felt a perturbing excitement emanating within her.  She did not want to be excited to go off with this creepy, evil man, but for some reason she was.  She was worried.

“Is the power that I'm accumulating so quickly going to my head?  Afterall, I am a Nivito.  I can't think of one Nivito that hasn't been motivated by wealth and power.  I didn't think I was like anyone else in my clan.  But maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe I am just the same.”

She shook the thought and picked up the pace.  She'd been training so hard since before she could remember that her endurance was at the top of its game.  She didn't really get that tired when traveling at full speed the entire way even to somewhere as far as the Hidden Sand. 

She was quiet the rest of the way.  Lost in thought about her upcoming adventure.  When she finally arrived in the Hidden Sand, she made her way efficiently to the little shack that Gaara slept in and gracefully swept in through the window.  “Hey there.”

He grinned.  “Zeva!  What's up?”

“Oh not much.  Just coming by to tell you goodbye is all.”

“Goodbye?  What do you mean?  What's going on?”

“I ran into somebody in my village.  His name is Orochimaru.  The very same scum who is in charge of the plan between your's and my father.  However, I found out a little intel on him in the process of him coming to my village.  He is a master at forbidden jutsu.  I asked him to be my sensui so that I could learn the spirit merge jutsu formula.  He is coming to take me from my village at night fall tonight.  I'll be leaving until... until it's time.”

Gaara looked very sad.  She knew he would be.  She was sad too, but there was just no time to be sad in this war zone of a world.  She was able to suck up her emotions and deal with them.  A tactic that just came naturally now that she had been forced to deal with everyone else's emotions as well as her own.  “So, what happens if you don't come back in time?  Should I fight them on my own?”

“God no!  It won't happen before I return.  I'm 100% sure of it.  I'm going to train with Orochimaru.  He is the ring leader of the whole operation.  Therefore, when he leaves to go and handle it, I'll know, plus, I kinda made him a promise.  A promise that I will most certainly break and a promise that ensures he will bring me with him when the time comes.”

“What promise?”

“I told him that if he trained me to be strong enough to kill my father and I succeeded, that I would take my father's place in operation destroy the Leaf.”

“What?  Why would you do that?  If you don't live up to that he's going to kill you, you know that?”

“No.  He won't kill me.  First of all, I'm too rare to kill.  He's a strange ninja.  Like a dark, mad scientists.  He is obsessed with oddities in the form of jutsu, shinobi and just about anything strange and powerful that he finds.  He will be reluctant to kill me in the first place.  And then, he couldn't kill me anyways.  I fought him earlier.  He had intent to kill me at first.  So I know full well that he is capable of murdering me if he really wanted.  Right now that is.  But not in a year from now.  If you haven't noticed, I progress extraordinarily quickly.  I'm going to out-do him by the time he finds out  I was lying.  The guy likes to use people like they're puppets and dolls made for his own sick amusement and experiments.  But once I'm finished, he'll never look at me like that.”

“Okay whatever.  I just hope you know what your doing.  I trust that you do.”

“I do.  I swear.  I brought you some things.”  She reached into her pocket and pulled out the pouch of ryo.  “This is the rest of what I have.  Take it.  Eat.  Keep a roof over your head.  Buy yourself something.  I don't care, it's yours now.  But most importantly, train.  Do not skip one single day.  It's going to be hard without a partner.  But make it work.  I'm confident in you.  I also brought you something else.”

She put a hand in her pocket and pulled out a small, polished looking charcoal black stone.  “It's a Yugen stone.  An ancient stone from my clan that is said to hold great powers.  Each stone has a partner and they serve as a sort of communication between two people.  I'll keep this one's partner and if you turn it over four times in your hand and then clasp it tight with two hands and concentrate you will instantly know exactly the state I am in.  You will know if I'm training casually.  Relaxing.  Fighting to the death.  And everything else that one could do.  The same goes for me.  This way, we'll always know if the other one is okay.”

“Wow, cool.  Thank you.  I will always keep mine with me and you had better do the same”

She smiled.  “I will.”  She felt her eyes begin to well up with tears but they knew better than to spill them.  Goodbyes were difficult for her in the worst way so she decided not to drag it out. 

She abruptly threw both of her hands around Gaara.  “I will see you soon.  Prepare yourself for what is coming.  Mental training is just as important as physical training.  Until next time.”  She swiftly maneuvered back out of the window that she came through before Gaara could get a chance to say goodbye.  There was no need to make things more difficult than they had to be.

As she journeyed back to the Hidden Mud she enjoyed the cool, refreshing feeling of the light and misting rain that was softly falling down upon her.

 

The night was ominous.  The dark seemed to loom on for hours as Zeva awaited Orochimaru’s arrival.  The suspense was bothering her most of all.

What if he doesn’t come?  Or what if he massacres members of my clan when he does come?  What if he tries to use me for his experiments and we have to fight before I even train with him?

Her compulsive thought was the thing that was causing it all to be so much more stressful than it had to be.  Just when she thought she couldn’t take it anymore, she heard a light tap on her bedroom door.  “Zeva, it’s your father.  May I come in?”

This is it.  “Sure father.”

He opened the door more gingerly than she had ever seen him carry himself.  “There is someone here for you.  He is a brilliant scientist and he is interested in studying your Kanjogan.  His name is Orochimaru and he wishes to take you away to train with him for the next year.  How would you like that?”

She paused for a moment, hiding her true emotions better than Ishi himself.  “I would feel strange training away from home.  But it’s time.  I am more than old enough and I need to be going on real missions.  I will accept this man as my new sensui, and when I return, I will be fit to be given mission assignments with you.”

He nodded.  “Okay.  I have taught you everything that I have to teach you.  Be careful and watch your back.  Learn all that you can from him.  You go tonight.  Hurry and be ready as soon as you can, he’s waiting.”

Keth left the room and Zeva grabbed her bag.  She reached in her pocket to make sure that her Yugen stone was still there and then she took a deep breath.  “This is it.  I progress to the next part of my life and I prepare for all of the pain and suffering that it will bring.  I also prepare for the happiness and gratitude that I will feel from the accomplishments that I will undoubtedly achieve.  But most importantly, I focus on the goal.  I push harder and faster everyday with my mind focused on only one thing, the goal to save Gaara.”

With that thought imbedded in her mind, she left her life at the Mud Village behind.  She did not miss it, she did not reminisce upon it.  She just turned away, giving her father a nod goodbye and then traveling into the distance with her new master.  The only time she was going to return to that place was to kill Keth.

 

She was surprised at how much she didn’t hate Orochimaru.  He was sly and uncaring and an evil manipulator, but she enjoyed his company.  He was smart and the things that he cared about were much different than the people of the Hidden Mud.  Granted, they still weren’t ideal, but at least he wasn’t fueled by money and power.  He was fueled by knowledge.  He wanted to become powerful, but it was different than her relatives’ want.

He was much older than he looked, but he had mastered a forbidden body transfer jutsu that required a host in order to complete.  Every time he felt it was time to change bodies, he would simply take over a different body.

He was truly an amazing sensui.  She learned more with him everyday than she had learned from her father in her whole 14 years.  The worst part in her mind was that she actually liked the time that she was spending with Orochimaru.  She knew what he was and it wasn't pleasant and she knew what he was planning to do, but she did not wish to kill him as she did her father and the Kazekage.  It was strange, but she had some sort of deep rooted respect for the man.

“Zeva, I have some exciting news.”

“What is it Orochimaru-sensui?”

“Today it is finally time to teach you the forbidden jutsu formula.  You've progressed quick and now it's time.”

She noticed a sick flicker of excitement emanate behind his eyes at the thought of having a willing subject of such great power to do an experiment of this magnitude on.

“First, let's review everything that you've learned.”

He was quick to attack, but she already knew it was coming.  She had her traditional time skip jutsu prepared and she appeared directly behind him, “Water Style, Human Grenade.”  A water clone seeped out of her body and clutched itself to Orochimaru, it's arms and legs grasping around him like they were holding on for dear life.  The clone began to bubble and expand before Zeva stopped the jutsu and disintegrated it.  The human grenade jutsu was one of her own techniques.  It caused a water clone filled with superheated boiling water to attach itself to an enemy.  If the enemy was unable to evade the attachment, then there was nothing they could do to become free of the clone.  The clone would leech chakra from the body of the enemy in order to fuel it's explosion, bubbling and getting hotter with every bit of chakra that it obtained.  And then when it consumed too much, it would explode, dowsing the enemy in water so hot that it caused extreme burns all over the body and left them weak with drained chakra.  However, when Zeva spared with people who she did not wish to injure badly, she would remove the clone before it exploded.  Once she did so, her enemy was still left with weak chakra that was transferred to her as soon as she released the clone.  It was an extremely useful jutsu and she favored it.

Once Orochimaru was weak she used this opening to catch his eyes with her Kanjogan.  She had discovered a new and extremely useful addition to the Kanjogan.  She was able to trap people in a genjutsu of emotion.  She could make them feel whatever she pleased.  Uncontrollable laughter, maddening sadness, enraging jealousy.  Anything that her heart desired could be bestowed upon another.  Once caught in her genjutsu, many would go mad with frustration and sometimes even end their own lives.  Orochimaru had used subjects that he was finished with as training partners for her.  Some were not so fortunate.

She decided to use inexplicable happiness on Orochimaru.  She got a little humor out of the thought of doing that to him since he was such an evil guy.  It amused her to think about seeing him so happy and loving to the world under her genjutsu.  He would turn into a whole new person, but as soon as the jutsu was lifted, he would be back to his original self.

“Wow, it was so easy to catch you under my jutsu and to hit you with my human grenade.  I feel like you're not even trying.  Isn't this supposed to be like the final test or something?”  She cackled arrogantly as she watched her content master.

However, her arrogance receded as soon as she saw his happiness fade even though she had not yet lifted the jutsu.  He was faking being caught in the Kanjogan.  How did she fail to notice?  “Yes, this is the final test.  Did you really think it would be so easy?”  He laughed.  “If you were a real shinobi you would remembered something that I said to you in the forest the very first time that we fought.  Snakes don't need eyes to see.  They rely on the scents picked up by their tongue to guide them.  Therefore, they are blind.  I am not always blind, but when I spar with someone like you, I choose to shut my vision off.  You cannot catch me in your genjutsu because you cannot catch my eyes.”

“How did you know then?  That I was going to use happiness?”

“Lucky guess.  I've come to know you well and I know that you will not harm people unless they don't pass a little personal test that you give them using your Kanjogan.  When I give you useless subjects to fight, you shield some of them from your true power, as you do to me, and others, you trample with no remorse.  Either killing them or forcing them to kill themselves.  I knew you wouldn't use something horrifying on me, so I just guessed you'd choose something that made me jovial.  Looks like I guessed correctly.”

“Hmmph.”  Zeva grunted in satisfaction.  “Knowing your enemy is one of the most important things when it comes to battle.  Those words came directly from my mouth and it seems you're heading them.  Some sensui, learning from his student.”

“Brat!  I'm older than you and your father's ages combined.  I've known that simple fact since the dawn of my time as a shinobi.  Summoning Jutsu!”  Orochimaru pressed a palm to the ground and a giant snake appeared.  He wasn't messing around anymore.

“Shit.”  Zeva cart-wheeled out of the way just in time to miss a deadly blow.  “That was close.  Sheesh, looks like he doesn't have very much regard for my life.  Or maybe he just knows I'm good enough to not die.  Multi Water Clone Jutsu!”

She separated into a hundred clones so she could stall, giving herself time to regroup and come up with a better plan.

Zeva ran around in clumsy circles, narrowly dodging attack after attack and desperately searching for an opening that could help her gain the advantage.  “You know Orochimaru-sensui, I technically already beat you.  When I caught you with my human grenade, so we should just call it a win and go in the other room so we can get to work with that jutsu formula what do ya say old pal?”

He laughed, “Only you would be joking at a time when your sensui is attacking you with enough force to snuff out your life.  And you can only count it as a win once I'm dead.  I don't count the fact that you hold back your attacks on certain people to be a gracious thing, rather a stupid thing that's going to get you killed someday.”  He summoned more snakes in order to strengthen his attack schemes.

That was it.  She found the opening that she was waiting for, it was time for her to gain the advantage.  “Hmmph, that may be your ninja way, but I have mine.  I can defeat people without killing them if I do not wish it so.”  At that moment she reached into her pack and grabbed two smoke bombs, throwing them down in front of her.

In the hidden cloud of the smoke bombs she quickly created a water clone and performed a swift transformation jutsu on her real self so she turned into an identical replica of one of the many snakes that Orochimaru had summoned.  She had thought there to be more weakness in numbers than strength.

Her water clone quickly time skipped out of the smoky cloud in the opposite direction of the transformed snake and threw a shuriken at Orochimaru, distracting his attention and deceiving him into believing that this was her reasoning behind throwing the smoke bomb.  However, the shuriken throwing clone was simply a decoy that allowed the snake-Zeva to sneak among the rest of the snakes undetected.

Once she infiltrated the enemy, she continued to evade Orochimaru with the water clone, being extremely delicate and careful not to be hit by anything and reveal the fact that she was a water clone.  She was biding her time, casually scoping every detail of the situation out and waiting for the perfect opportunity to achieve the upper hand in the battle.

Finally, she changed from defense to offense with her clone, charging at Orochimaru and attacking with close combat taijutsu.  She knew it was only a matter of time before she got hit and revealed that she was a mere clone, but she was ready to strike once it happened.  She had a slight advantage because her tai jutsu was so amazing.  She was extremely powerful, but she was fast and she knew just the right chakra points to target to cause an enemy great pain.

She was doing well.  She even thought that she may be able to beat him with the clone, but then, all in an instant it happened.  “Striking shadow snakes!”  Orochimaru uttered.  The snakes that projected from his arms struck her clone, going directly through it in several vital areas.

She had only but a moment to be stung by the fact that it was so easy for him to kill her, because she had to attack before he realized what was happening.  The clone slowly melted and by that time, she transformed from snake to self and stabbed her chakra sword right into Orochimaru's back, causing him to fall to his knees and blood to drip from his mouth.

The sword did not penetrate the entire way through and his wound would not be vital if treated immediately.  It would however, keep him down and ensure that this battle was over for good.

She pulled the sword out and put it away.  “Kabuto!!  Kabuto where are you?  Kabuto!!! Come quickly, Orochimaru is hurt!!”

In an instant a young boy with silver hair that wasn't much older than Zeva appeared, looking frantic and disgruntled.  “Wha-what have you done Zeva?  How dare you wound our master this severely!  He could die.”

“But he won't.  You'll protect him.  You always have.  You're the best medical ninja that I've ever seen.  But you're lacking tremendously.  You're lacking in who you really are.  You don't know.  All you do is chase after Orochimaru, desperately trying to be exactly like him.  You are the worst kind of person.  A person with no answer, no ninja way.  I wounded Orochimaru-sensui because it was the only way to end this battle before the battle ended me.  I'm not dying here.  Not yet.”

Kabuto did not answer her.  He just continued to heal his master's wound until it was closed over enough to stop the bleeding.

“Well Kabuto, it looks as if your work here is done.  You can go now, and leave the real ninjas to do their business.”

Kabuto just scowled at Zeva as he left the room.  The two really hated each other.  Zeva was disappointed to see such a talented shinobi who wasted his abilities away simple because he didn't know what to do with them, and Kabuto hated her out of jealousy that she was his beloved master's latest prodigy.

As much as Zeva loathed Kabuto, she still understood him.  He was raised as a spy.  Never having anywhere to fit in and always taking on a new identity.  He didn't know who he really was and therefore, he could not find his own way.  The only thing he knew how to do was follow.

She shirked the thoughts of the young boy away and turned her attention back to her sensui.  She reached a hand down to help him up and he surprisingly took it.  “You are nothing like I am.  You are kind and for some strange reason, you care for me as your sensui even though you know I do not care for you.  It is interesting and I will admit, you are a good student.  I am proud to call myself your sensui and any thoughts that I had about keeping you here as an experiment and/or possible candidate for my next body have been erased after today.  I consider you an equal, and therefore I will not challenge you unless it is for training purposes.  But even when we train, understand that it will always be my intent to take your life.  If you will die so easy as by my hand when we are only training, then you will die even easier in a real battle.  And if you are so easy to die, then I don't care about you because you weren't worth my time after all.”

Although it hurt, she could still see his point.  She knew the meaning of his actions from the very beginning.  It didn't mean it didn't sadden her to know that her very first sensui regarded her as nothing more than an equal, but she still understood and respected his way of teaching.

They entered a room that had a table in the center filled with scrolls and parchment paper scribbled with notes.  He found a particular scroll and handed it to Zeva.  “Here it is.  The jutsu formula.  I do not expect you to look at that formula and figure it out on your own.  It's taken me all of this time to figure it out myself, so I will help you.  I am only giving you this copy so that you can have it and maybe one day pass it on to your kin to have when you rest in the grave.”

She could feel her bottom lip begin to quiver and this was the hardest it had ever been for her to hold back a cry.  What was this?  Orochimaru-sensui was doing something nice for her?  She never thought that she'd see the day.  He was giving her something as a gesture and a reward for all of the hard work she had done.  It was truly a wonderful day.  “Th-thank you Orochimaru-sensui.  Thi-this means so much to me!”

“Enough!  Let us begin the ritual.  This is a three day long process that can only take place when a full moon is present on the third and final night.  So we begin now.  Zeva Nivito, are you ready to seal within you the beastly wolf spirit Arukana, becoming one with him and never turning back from that path that you have chosen?”

“Yes, master.  I am ready.  Let us begin...”

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