Horse of the Leaf
The air was calm and cold in the Hidden Village of the Mist. It was mid January and white covered the ground, roof and tree tops and fell from the sky in in tiny flakes. For many standing outside of the Hidden Mist Academy walls, it was near freezing to few that were visiting.
It was the prefect time for the Chuunin Selection Exams.
The Mist genin participating in the examination could not help but be amused at seeing many of the other visiting ninja shivering as such temperatures. To them, today was a pretty warm day compared to other days this time of year. Many Rain, Stone, Grass, Cloud and few sand were shivering. Only a certain team of Sand and the visiting Leaf Ninja of the Fire Country seem to bear the weather like the Mist.
Neji Hyuuga stood proud, eying the many genin that are participating in the exam. Along with himself were Hinata, Naruto Uzumaki, Ino Yamanaka, and Aburame Shino. Only 5 of 37 genin which were eligible to represent Konoha and the Fire Country in the second Chuunin Exam. Of the five, Neji, Naruto and Shino were automatically selected to attend the exams because of their results from the last Exam. The Yamanaka girl and Hinata, both who participated in the last exams but did not make it to the Third Exam tournament, had earned their right to again participate by wining a tournament a month previously to decide who would fill in the three open slots.
Ino Yamanaka was already determined to become a chuunin, like her previous teammate Shikamaru Nara. But she also wished to do it for her other teammate Chouji Akimichi, who was unable to attend because of medical reasons.
But the big surprise was Hinata, his cousin. Though still weaker in skill compared to him, she demolished ninja after ninja with power and speed only seen in Gai Maito's Gouken and with the gentleness and grace only scene in the Hyuuga Jyuuken. Even his own teammate, Tenten, could not stop Hinata's determined will to win and prove to Hiashi-sama that she was not a defective Hyuuga.
Neji looked over his comrades and grumbled impatiently, shoving his hands into his heavy coat. There were five of them here. Naruto, Ino and Shino formed a three-man team and the left Hinata and himself. He liked it that way because it would make it easier for the two of them to communicate. Problem was, they were still missing one person, which was really irritating Neji.
He wonder were was Ranma.
It had been months since he had seen his best friend. The last time he saw the guy was they both passed the Physical Exam to re-establish themselves as on-duty shinobi. Once that was done, it was if he disappeared off the face of the Earth. But according to Tsunade Godaime-sama, he would be attending and apart of Hinata and his team. Yet, the only other Leaf's besides the other four genin was a platoon of ANBU.
According to the ANBU platoon captain, they were being sent to the Hidden Mist as a good-will service, doing short-term rank A missions for free as a token of friendship. They also provided escort for the genin on the way to the Water Country. But throughout the whole trip, Ranma Lee was not with them.
"Neji-niisan, where is Ranma-kun?" Hinata asked, worried for he friend. She also hasn't seen him for a while.
Neji sighed. "Hold on, Hinata-sama. I will ask the captain." He walked up to the ANBU captain, a shinobi with a bandanna tied around his head wearing a frog faced masked. Neji knew who he was though. "Genma-san. Where is Ranma Lee? He did not travel with us nor was he mentioned that he left early. The Examination will start in 30 minutes and it is important he is present. You should know only 3-man teams may enter."
"Who else is on your team? That other Hyuuga?" Neji nodded. "Hey you! Yes you, come here." Genma called out to Hinata.
"Y-yes?" she stuttered, feeling intimidated by the non-existent stares of the ANBU Assassination Squad members.
Genma snapped his fingers, calling up one of his ninja to come forward. "You're other teammate couldn't make it, so I'm giving up one of my men so you two can participate in the exam."
"That is preposterous!" Neji shouted, feeling angered. "We would be automatically disqualified for attempting to par-take in these exams with two Genin and a Chuunin."
Hinata agreed also.
The ANBU in question stepped forward. He wore a completely black uniform that looked like a tactical variant of the standard ANBU garb. He had baggy black pants that were tucked into pair of boot-like shinobi sandals. Around his ankles he had what looked like kunai holsters. He had a black, long-sleeved top that was skin-tight yet provided warmed for the cold-winter weather. He had the standard ANBU armor, katana and waist pouches. He also had hair as white as the snow they stood upon which was tied into a long pony tail that reached his mid-back.
Unlike is fellow members of his platoon, his mask did not have an animal representation. His was a plain white mask with the symbol of the Leaf beautifully carved onto the forehead. A red swirl started from the right of the mask and moved in, curling in the middle. A second red addition started from the left chin and curved up and slightly in. Two narrow slits in certain places represented the eyes.
The ANBU that stepped forward was easily identified by his mask. He is a Hunter-Nin.
"I am a Genin also," Neji and Hinata's eyes widened at hearing the familiar voice. "Neji-kun. Hinata-chan."
The ANBU in question removed his mask, revealing the piercing dark-blue and yellow eyes of an amused Ranma Lee. He was suddenly tackled to the ground by an uncharacteristically energetic Hinata Hyuuga, the life being squeezed out of him by her embrace. Neji stood over Ranma, a sour but happy smile on his face.
"You have alot to answer for, Lee." he stated. "Like how you became apart of ANBU and didn't even tell your best friends." he playfully scolded.
Ranma scratched his head, grinning like an idiot. "Sorry about that. It just umm.. kinda happened."
"You can tell me about it later, Ranma-kun. The three of us have an exam to attend."
Neji extended his arm out, giving the ANBU genin a thumbs up and a smirk. Ranma returned the gesture, his grin showing his sparkling whites.
Off to the side, Kakashi and Gai watched the white-haired, dragon-eyed boy place his ANBU Hunter-nin mask on and walk with his team into the Mist Ninja Academy. Despite the commotion they made, no one paid attention or saw Ranma Lee's face. From the looks of things, other shinobi seem to back away from the Hunter-nin.
The intimidation factor was enormous.
"So, did you know about it, Gai?" Kakashi asked his rival. The Azure Beast of Konoha nodded. "The boy was made for that role, as a Hunter-nin that is. He's the talk of the ANBU HQ right now."
"I know," nodded Gai, pride swelling for his former student. "He said he bagged four missing-nin a few weeks ago, two of which were Sound spies."
"Yeah, Ibiki and his platoon were having fun interrogating them."
"Hiashi's daughter is steadily improving. And I'm not talking about that Hinabi brat. Hinata has a will exploding with youth and fire. Her genjutsu has improved to the high-genin level while her ninjutsu still needs work. I doubt anyone would be able to defeat those three in taijutsu."
Gai crossed his arms. "So, did you find out what the theme for this Chuunin Exam?" he asked.
Kakashi chuckled, again thinking of the intimidation factor of two of the Hyuuga clan's strongest and a Hunter-nin of Ranma Lee's caliber.
"Psychological Warfare and Espionage."
Gai and Kakashi turned to each other. They both started laughing.
There were going to be at least three ninja of Konoha returning as Chuunin.
Author's Final Notes:
Ranma's pants are more like black BDU's or Battl Dress Uniform. And if you haven't guessed, the 'holsters' around his ankles are actually his weights. The mask he wore is the EXACT same mask Haku wore during the Wave Country saga.
Many of you wonder, exactly how strong and fast is Hinata? Up to this point, she could be compared to the speed and skill of Neji when he first beat her in the Chuunin Prelims. But she is physically stronger than him thanks to Ranma's style of training. Though stronger than Neji, she cannot compete with him in pure skill, speed and usage of their advanced bloodline. Neji IS a genius after all.
Well, that's all that really needs to be explained. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this piece of work and I appreciate all the reviews, flames and even a few recommendations people gave me. Some of you asked if I would make a sequel.
But that's anothing thing for another time. I'm either going to work on my story "Blended Dimensions" (which I encourage people to read) or start on a Naruto SI that I've been brainstorming for the past few months.
But anyway, for those of you that review, I encourage you to check-off the box to make this a highly recommended story. And thanks for following this fic.