Rise of the Science-Nin
Chapter V: Genin Daze
Miamoto-sensei's quote of the day: "What is a weapon? A kunai? A Shuriken? A Chakra Armor? No. Those are merely pieces of metal, incapable of any autonomous action. Ninja are weapons, and their purpose is to protect. Never forget that."
Naruto sat stock-still, as did most of his cohort. It was finally time, and he was more nervous than he though he would be, by far. On either side of him sat the two people he had grown closest to over the past three weeks, Rock Lee and Ten-Ten. Upon questioning, the girl had admitted to Naruto that she had been given no last name, as was apparently a common practice for unidentified orphans in Fire Country. It seemed a bit cruel to the gentle-natured Jinchurikki.
He was not quite as close to Ten-Ten as he was to Rock Lee, not having had a major bonding experience like he did with the round-eyed boy, but they had become friends nonetheless. She had also opened up a little more to Lee after he showed her what he could do with Taijutsu. They shared a mutual respect now, each being the master of their particular field in the classroom, save for Naruto, who was closer to Jounin level in both Taijutsu and marksmanship. Having never had a friend his own age, Naruto found it quite satisfying. Also, there was something else—he wasn't quite sure of it, but he thought he might be developing a something a little beyond friendship for the bun-headed girl. It was too soon to tell, though, and there was also the problem of Ten-Ten crush on that ass, Neji. Apparently many of the girls in their class felt that way about him, despite his condescending attitude.
Naruto made a special effort in the two spars they had had to try to correct his bad behavior though judicious use of physical violence, but despite crushing the boy in taijutsu his attitude had not improved in the slightest. The blonde haired chakra engineer snorted. It didn't matter; someday that fool would learn his lesson. As Iruka started to speak, he quickly pulled himself out of his musing—it was finally time. Most of the names had already been announced, after all.
"Team 9: Rock Lee, Uzumaki Naruto, and Ten-Ten! Your Jounin Instructor is Maito Gai. Team 10 is still in service. Team 11…" Naruto quit paying attention and smiled, as did his two new teammates. He was on a team with his friends!
The Blonde Hokage-spawn vaguely noted at the end of Iruka's speech Hyuuga Neji had not been assigned to a team for some reason… And the boy didn't seem in the least bit surprised. He vaguely wondered why, but quickly put it out of his mind. He was still excited about officially becoming a ninja.
That evening, Naruto lay in bed after taking a hot shower, his chakra armor comfortably hugging his skin. He didn't take it off, even to sleep. After all, he never knew when he would need it, and it required at least three minutes to put it on correctly, an eternity in battle. He slowly recounted his afternoon, after his team met up with Gai-sensei…
"Yosh!" said the Beautiful Green Beast. "Today, you will all prove to me that you can act as a team… Or you will return to the academy!"
The three genin flinched, not expecting this, though Naruto understood why teamwork would be needed; after-all there was no such thing as a ninja who worked alone under the rank of Jounin.
"What do we need to do, Gai-sensei?" asked Ten-Ten. Naruto glanced over at her while she talked, feeling that indescribable something again. She was just too cute.
"You shall pass a test of my own devising! You must prove your Youthfulness and Will of Fire by…" he paused dramatically, his enormous eyebrows quivering dramatically, finger raised in the air, "…Running a four-legged race against me, the Beautiful Green Beast of Konoha!"
Naruto wondered if this was some sort of Hi no Kuni thing, but the bewildered looks his teammates sported belied that thought. Naturo sighed. Gai may be the premiere taijutsu master in Konoha, but there was no getting around his bizarre nature. Naruto has also been concerned with his reverence of "Youth" at first, until the man's actions had proven that he was not some sort of bizarre pedophile. Still, this "four-legged race" needed an explanation.
"Err… What do you mean by a four-legged race, Gai-sensei? Asked Naruto, confusion evident in his voice. Gai smiled wildly, and produced two short lengths of rope from seemingly nowhere.
"I will show you, Naruto-kun! Stand up my students!" shouted the over exuberant jounin. The three newly minted genin complied, and watched bewildered as Gai slowed approached, and mind-blurringly fast, tied the ropes around their legs. When he was finished, Naruto's right leg was tied to Ten-Ten's left, and his left leg was tied to Lee's right. They, indeed, now had four legs. Naruto notices that the weights that Lee had been wearing for the last few weeks had also been discarded by Gai.
"Yosh!" screamed Gai, "Now, I will also limit myself to four legs!" With that, the leotarded Nin pulled off his sandals, rolled up the sleeves of his garment and his leg-warmers, and go onto all fours, in a strange parody of an animal. His posterior stuck high into the air, and trotting awkwardly over to Lee's weights, he picked them up with his mouth and slung them onto his back where they lied immobile. Naruto suspected the man was holding them on with chakra.
It was all the three genin could do not to laugh uproariously at the partially-insane man. A few snorts and chuckles did escape. Gai marked a starting line with his nose, and stood behind it with them.
"The first team to make it to the front gate, and then back to this line WINS!" he cried. "On the count of three! Ichi! Ni! San! GO!" he called, and then took off like a shot. Galloping on all fours like an idiot, Gai was still faster than most chuunin.
Naruto, Lee, and Ten-Ten did their best to follow. None of them had every competed in a three-legged race, of anything along those lines, but they were well trained ninjas with incredible balance. They managed at first not to fall, then began a slow run. By the time Gai was beyond their sight, they were traveling fairly fast, at least the speed of a regular academy student, and they only accelerated from there. Ten-Ten was the weak link in this test, being the slowest member, and honestly Naruto wished she had been tied in the middle so the two speed-demons on the team could simply carry her, but this was no time for what-ifs.
They raced. And before too long, they caught up with Gai, who appeared to be maintaining the same speed he had initially started with. Naruto knew that without Lee's weights on the small of his back, and the man's own considerable resistance tools on all of his limbs, this would be no contest at all, even with his crazy animal style running. Gai was simply that fast. Still, the three children working in a perfect concert born of trust were able to beat him this way, as the test was obviously designed for. It would be no test at all if there was no chance they could win.
After a mere few moments of sprinting, the three reached the front gate. Lee and Naruto felt warm, but fine, Lee's natural stamina and Naruto's chakra armor helping to maintain their stride. Ten-Ten, though, was a different matter. The girl's face was beet-red, and he lungs burned as she worked to take in enough oxygen to keep up this pace. Naruto frowned, knowing that they had to go all the way back, and suspecting that Ten-Ten needed at least a brief rest before they attempted it.
The Jinchurikki looked back, and noticed that Gai was only a short distance behind them, maybe ten to twenty seconds at his current steady pace. Naruto thought for a brief moment, as they pivoted around to run back the way they had come… and came up with an idea. He was now glad that he was the one in the middle.
"OK, team. I'm going to try something to boost our speed, so hang on and try not to get out of sync. Lee nodded, and Ten-Ten gave a slight pout, knowing this was because of her, but acquiesced as well. Naruto smiled, then released a B-rank wind technique from his back. Lee smiled as he felt himself propelled forward, and Ten-Ten went wide-eyed for a moment before she too started sporting a feral grin. They latched onto Naruto, lagging very slightly behind him despite the tightly-tied rope, and shot forward at nearly twice the speed they had been traveling at previously. Behind them Gai smiled as he increased his effort in the face of the gale-force wind assaulting him.
The three genin of Team 9 quickly made it back to the finish line, easily ahead of the madly loping Green Beast, and even had time untied their bonds and have a drink from Naruto's canteen before Gai arrived. The enigmatic jounin stood up and slowly stretched, before smiling madly.
"Team 9… You pass!" called Gai. Natuto smiled, and put his hand behind his head, while Ten-Ten grinned with her eyes half-closed and Lee threw his arm into the air with a gleeful cry. Konoha was never going to be the same again.
Author's note: Someone called this story delicious, which inspired me. Here you go. That, coupled with the liter of Cherry Coke I drank and a renewed need to write, resulted in this. Here's to you, fans. (If I have any left?) Hopefully I'll be able to update some of my other tales soon.