Axenome Presents: Seven
Prologue: By These Two Hands
Two Academy instructors looked on the blood soaked room from the observation booth, each wearing similar espressions of indifference.
Wataro spoke first. "Well, I imagine that concludes this year's graduation."
Nageru nodded his agreement. The survivors, many of whom were shaking, some bleeding, a few retching, and one or two outright crying over the bodies of their fallen comrade/opponents, these survivors would become genin of Kirigakure. They had bloodied their blades and their hands, taken the lives of their comrades of four years of training. They had proven with their hands and wills that they were devoted to Kirigakure above all else- friends, family, even their own lives.
The fallen would be returned to the sea, as it had always been and always would be.
There were other spectators here as well- a new tradition was being instated. The genin hopefuls of next year were being brought here to witness the rite of passage, to ready themselves for what would come. They, too, seemed to be reacting hard to this, with one or two notable exceptions.
"The results?" Came a voice from behind them.
The two chunin gave a start; neither had known that- or even when exactly- the Mizukage had entered the room. Nageru found his voice first. "Twenty-two candidates have passed, Mizukage-sama."
"Mmm." Grunted the Kage. "Weren't there fifty-eight in the graduating class?"
The two chunin exchanged a rueful look. "There were a few more... grudges than average this year." Replied Wataro. "They were discontent to remain with their assigned opponents, milord."
Mizukage nodded sagely. "Hmm. Next year's graduates will be more plentiful- a hundred four in that class, if I remember correctly." He eyed the assembly of academy students in the observation booth speculatively. "At any rate, those who fell we can better afford to lose here, than out on mission where their failure would reflect on the village."
The Kage turned back to the observation window. "Are there any notables among them?"
Nageru gave a gesture of assent as he adjusted his rebreather. "How many did you want, Mizukage-sama?"
The Mizukage stroked his chin. "I'll take the top four."
The two chunin nodded, then led the Mizukage down to the room. As a group, heedless of the blood on the floor, the new genin dropped to their knees as the village leader entered the room. Though they had been shaken by their graduation, they had not forgotten their duty. "Hail, Mizukage-sama!" They shouted in unison.
The Kage's cool expression did not betray to anyone his satisfaction at their response.
"Akaru, Youhai, Shimada, Nerui! Front and center!" Barked Wataro. His face, too, was obscured by his rebreather, and the students did not respond. They would never speak unless they knew the name of their superior, and in the Kirigakure academy, as tradition demanded, no student was priveleged to know the names of those who taught them.
The four students- three of them girls, unusual but not unheard of- presented themselves before the Mizukage. The Mizukage, however, wasn't entirely focused on them. His attention was drawn, rather, to a student in the back of the room, with dusky skin, and inky black eyes like the soulless orbs of a shark. Those eyes were locked firmly on the backs of the heads of the four who had been called forward, his expression carefully neutral.
"What about that one?" The Kage asked the instructors. "Tell me about him."
Nageru blinked in surprise, before he pulled out a notebook from his pouch. After a moment leafing through it, he handed the opened notebook to the Mizukage. "Here is his record, Mizukage-sama."
The Kage perused the open page. "Hmmm. Mediocre taijutsu, moderate chakra reserves, poor ninjutsu... passable kenjutsu, decent stealth... Not much of a standout," the Kage mumbled absently. He looked up again, seeing the boy staring steadily at him, and Mizukage noticed with a hint of delight that the boy seemed to have absolutely no fear what-so-ever. "You think you can do better than these four, boy?" He asked the genin. "Prove it. Kill the four of them."
The four genin, top of their class, recognized an ultimatum when they heard it. Kunai flashed to their hands as they spun to charge the still knealing boy, but the dusky skinned child smiled a predator's grin as he raised a single hand in the sign of the Tiger. A quartet of explosions hammered everyone's ears in the enclosed space, and the four charging genin flew in separate directions as concealed explosive tags on their bodies detonated almost together.
The boy calmly went from body to body, slitting their throats to be certain, the grin never leaving his face. Near the door, the Mizukage chuckled. "How did you know you'd be told to kill them?"
"I didn't." The boy replied. The body he was checking starting thrashing, trying to stab him with a fist load spike; the boy tilted his upper body to the side and let it pass by before stabbing his kunai into the other genin's temple with a grunt of effort and a crunch of bone. With a jerk he pulled the blade free before slitting the throat as he had with the other three. "I put tags on everyone."
The Mizukage laughed, long and loud, as a few of the other genin, already queasy from their graduation, turned their eyes aside and took deep breaths. After a few seconds, the Mizukage nodded. "Speak your name, boy, and enter my service."
"My name is Hoshigake Kisame, and I swear myself and my life to the service of Kirigakure and the Mizukage."
The Mizukage's sharpened teeth gleamed in the dim light of the room.
Above them, still observing, one of the academy students watched with bright eyes, eagerly anticipating his own graduation.
Just you wait. I'll be the greatest graduate ever. Momochi Zabuza thought to himself. I'll be just like him.
It's something I've never seen done on , so I thought what the hell. Submitted for your approval, I give to you: Seven.