Chapter 30: The Chunin Exams!
"Well, what do you think so far, Mister Uzumaki?" the Abyss Manager asked the blond haired ninja.
"Other than you guys working fast?" was the rhetorical answer, "Looks good. Would have been better if it didn't cost me an arm and a leg," some of the workers here Naruto recognized from Wave, Tazuna not being one of them as he learned the old drunk had taken over as its temporary leader.
"True," the manager acknowledged. The boy had spent a little over a million ryo for the renovations and the additions he wanted. Quality was one of the reasons why the Abyss got where it was today. However, the manager knew that the ores and other materials he had on the auction would more than cover the expenses.
"I'm curious, why are you wanting a workshop? You don't strike me as the … workshop type."
Naruto had to begrudgingly admit that the man had a point; he wasn't the workshop type. However, thanks to his Gamer ability, the boy learned that the addition of a workshop would boost the effectiveness and success of certain skills such as Crafting, Blacksmithing, Fuinjutsu, Gear Maintenance – to name a few – by a great amount. Effectiveness was increased by 50% and Success was increased by 25%. This meant a success rating of 50% would increase to 62.5% while an effectiveness of 50% would increase to 75%.
The main reason why was because Naruto wanted to increase these useful skills as quickly and efficiently as possible. Higher levels of Fuinjutsu would do things the more conventional skills could not; well-maintained weapons and gear would increase his martial techniques and decrease the damage he took; and better Crafting would allow him to better create makeshift gear and other supplementary items more quickly and effectively. Blacksmith was something he considered doing for quite some time now. Gotta love Shadow Clones.
"Speaking of which," here the mysterious dealer reached into his coat and handed the boy a book on Basic Blacksmithing and a card, "The book you ordered and the card is a Bronze Membership Card. Normally it would take years to acquire one but the amount of items you sold and bought from us hastened then earn. It's one of the four card types we give out to our more loyal clients."
Abyss Membership Card (Bronze) - Rare
Description: The lowest rank membership card of the Abyss. Allows the cardholder special deals and perks that only a select few can ever get.
Special Traits: +15% Discount when buying from Abyss, +1.5% Increase in profit from sold items from Abyss, Abyss Profit Cut reduced to 12.5%, Abyss Bounty Cut reduced to 17.5%
"I'm guessing the others are Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum?"
"Close. The last one is Scarlet," he stated and elaborated when he saw Naruto's look, "It's named after the rarest, most valuable and sought after of the chakra metals: Hihi'irokane (Brilliant Scarlet Metal). But many call it the Scarlet Metal for short."
"Scarlet Metal?" Naruto had never heard of it, "What makes it more valuable than the others?"
"To answer your question, I have to tell you a–"
"Can it be brief?" as much as he liked a good story, Naruto had other things he needed to do today.
If the man was affronted by Naruto's bluntness he masked it very well, "Alright. In this world there are three highly sought after chakra metals: Elementium, Adamantine, and Scarlet. When properly tempered they can become indestructible to all but themselves. Now, Elementium is highly valuable as it can channel elemental chakra like no other and create a powerful and wickedly edged weapon as well. Adamantine can make a powerful piece of armor or bludgeon weapon that can absorb kinetic energy on a molecular level and even redirect that energy if properly made, making it virtually indestructible compared to the others," Naruto could tell that would be quite useful against taijutsu and weapon users.
"Elementium you can say is the spear while Adamantine is the shield. However, you should not assume that Elementium lacks durability or that Adamantine lacks offensive power. As I said, both can only be potentially harmed by one of the three chakra metals," he added.
"And Scarlet Metal has both qualities, right?" Naruto haphazardly asked.
"One would think so but no," the manager stated, "Scarlet Metal can be formed into a very sharp and durable weapon, true, but that's not where its qualities lie. No, what makes Scarlet Metal so special is its ability to devour, manipulate and even negate chakra.
"That's it?" sure it was a useful ability but that couldn't be it in Naruto's opinion.
"You misunderstand. An object, if properly forged, made from this metal makes ones immune to even the most powerful of Genjutsu as it will disrupt the opposing chakra and great it's wielder unfathomable degrees of control over their chakra that not even the best of the best can hope to accomplish. A person, if strong enough, can even use this to block and absorb the strongest Raton ninjutsu and from that they can conjure a storm of scarlet flames. If the legend behind it is true," and here the man leaned in and whispered, "The last time such a weapon was made, its first battle trial ended with the death of a Biju."
Eyes wide open; Naruto now began to see the value. It made sense. Biju were beings of pure chakra. A metal with these properties and capabilities, and in the right hands, was a deadly weapon.
"Then again, it's only a legend. Findings on the metal were immensely rare and never in the same location. While very small deposits of the other metals have popped up every couple hundred years, the last sighting of the Scarlet Metal was near the dawn of the age known as the Era of Warring States," its rarity was on an entirely different level compared to the other two.
Tempted as he was, Naruto knew he was lucky to have found what he did with Elementium. Asking where it could be was now irrelevant with the Manager's last comment. If he came across some that would be damn awesome, but for now he asked another question, "Why's it called that?"
"Because of the color and because it creates a brilliant and otherworldly flame that negates and devours anything chakra related its user commands," was the man's simple answer as he scribbled something down and handed it to the boy.
"What's this?" he asked.
"Its value by kilogram should you come across some," the Manager responded.
"…Oh," Naruto nodded and almost proceeded to pull a Hinata. Suffice to to say, its worth was much greater than Elementium. But the boy had no time for fainting. Calling up his time, Naruto called Hotto and then excused himself, as he knew his future home was in good care.
"That boy really is interesting," the Manager mentally commented. A bit unrefined, true. But interesting nonetheless, "Then again, so were his parents."
The Abyss Manager idly wondered just how interesting the boy was going to make things in the near future. He looked forward to see how the Chunin Exams would go, too.
"Well, this is it," was all Naruto could say. What else was there to say, really? The last few weeks – more like months or so thanks to his ability – had been pretty intense. The training involved burning the midnight oil long hours, refining their techniques and pushing their physical capabilities as much as possible in the dungeons. Not all days were like that, but most.
"Yeah," Ino nodded, before she gave her team a smirk, "Ready to kick ass?"
"Arf!" Hotto barked.
"Hmm," Hinata nodded.
"Just keep an eye out, Ino. Remember what I told you about the Suna team," Naruto stated.
"I get it, they're tough," Ino knew she was sugar-coating it and knew that Naruto didn't bullshit whenever levels came up. All three Suna Genin were above average like them, especially the redheaded one, Gaara. When asked why, Naruto claimed Gaara had a question mark on him. It didn't answer the question, but experience told Ino that wasn't good news. "So, any clues on what we're up against?" Ino asked.
Naruto shrugged, "Beats me. Your guess is a good as mine. But if video games are anything to go by then maybe a tourney or battle royale of some kind," it was a common theme to occur before one went up in ranks or levelled up their class.
"Do you think anyone we know will be there?" Hinata asked. "I overheard a few of my clan members saying that Genin who enter the exams generally have a year's worth of experience," which – thanks to Naruto's ability – they more or less did, technically.
"So, chances of the Teme and Shika's teams being in this are low, huh," Naruto asked but received no answer. The jinchuriki thought that sucked but it was what it was. Calling up the time with his ability, Naruto saw they had less than twenty minutes to spare and began marching into the building that held the exams. However, it wasn't even ten or so minutes later did the drama begin to unfold.
… And the exams had yet to officially begin.
"Seriously, how the hell did you graduate as top of the class?" Sasuke scowled at Naruto's question, despite the blond speaking the truth. Naruto was pretty surprised to see Team Seven in the first place; they were fresh Genin after all. So was Team Eight but they were different.
"Hey, don't look at me. He's the one that fucked up," Kiba wasn't the sharpest kunai in the pouch but even he knew how to count fucking floors. However, by the time the Inuzuka figured out what was happening, Sasuke had to open his big mouth. "Well, at least you got your ass handed to ya," Kiba snarked, ignoring the frown directed at him from his two teammates.
"Could have gone without the image of whatever the hell that sunset thing was," the ninja and their team's ninken shuddered at the memory. Naruto understand bromance but that sunset thing frightened the shit outta him. But what worried him was that Lee character's status window.
Name: Rock Lee
Iron Body: +20 DEF, +3 STR, DEX, VIT per Lvl, Physical Resistance increased by 30%, +30% EXP, Power & Effectiveness towards Taijustu, +30% EXP, Power & Effectiveness towards Bukijutsu,
Expert Martial Artist: +30% EXP, Power & Effectiveness towards Taijustu, +30% EXP, Power & Effectiveness towards Bukijutsu, Fatigue levels reduced 30% slower when using Taijustu Skills
Genius of Hard Work: +20% EXP gained from completing Daily Quests, +30% EXP gained from completing Missions
Irregular Pathways: Incapable of using chakra externally (can be overridden in extreme circumstances)
Description: Graduating as the Dead Last of his year, Rock Lee slowly but assuredly improved and began to prove his worth as a ninja through rigorous training and sheer dedication. What he lacks in genjutsu and ninjutsu skill – which is non-existent – he more than makes up for with his above average skill in taijutsu.
It was crystal clear to Naruto that the boy's skills were abnormally high like his own. However, Naruto's skill was in Ninjutsu compared to Lee's Taijutsu. The swift ass kicking Sasuke received from the boy showed the Gamer just how skilled the oddly dressed Genin was and that he was not to be taken lightly, a fact he shared with his teammates. Naruto had no doubt that he'd have to go all out from the get go if they fought.
"Naruto-kun?" Hinata asked, noticing his look, "What is it?"
"Lee," was all he said, "How strong he is. Makes me wonder who else will be that strong?"
Hinata, Ino, and Sakura couldn't help but wonder that too now that the thought was put out there. Naruto, Sasuke, and Kiba on the other hand were excited at the prospect of finding someone that would give them a challenge. Kiba had been pissed by Sasuke's dumb move but that was more so because the Uchiha spilling the beans allowed the weaker and unworthy contestants to be added.
Deciding to forget the occurrence for now, the groups continued making their way towards the exam room. As their approached their destination, both teams heard the voice of their mentors… and a very odd and awkward conversation.
"Ok, I'll admit, Saiko and Kageru have a history. But in today's standards, history means crap all. I mean, you read that tongue action Saiko and Naori had! Scene was intense and I'm pretty sure you don't go all out to please someone like that if you're not interested in something more," she, of course, was referring to Saiko giving the tongue action.
"I disagree, the fact that Saiko and Kageru know one another for so long is a define factor that they will end up with one another. It's been done so many times before," Kakashi argued. "Plus, I don't think Saiko would have exhausted herself like that if she didn't feel anything for him."
"Please. Just because the main male and female protagonist have a history and have the odd emotional moment don't mean squat! I will admit that cliff-hanger on the three-way sucked," Anko groused. The scene had gotta good until it ran out of pages.
"True," Kakashi had to agree.
"Why the hell are you discussing porn!" a red-faced Sakura yelled, not believing she was actually hearing this.
Both Kakashi and Anko looked at one another before they looked back at their teams with an answer, "We were bored and you took your sweet ass time/Nothing better to do really."
Sakura's eye merely twitched at the answers. Rather than say anything, the girl grabbed Sasuke and Kiba and dragged her two teammates into the room, not bothering to say anything to their Jonin sensei, "Well, that was cold," Kakashi muttered before he bid Team Eight farewell. "Ja!"
"Well, you four know what to do," Anko said.
"Look out for one another."
"Hell no! Make me look good… or else," Anko finished with a frightening grin. "Later."
"Great," Naruto muttered but spotted a posted letter on the door to the exam room.
Ps. I believe in you guys.
P.P.S. Burn this letter.
"Of course," Naruto wasn't surprised. Leave it to Anko to pull something like that in the end. Wordlessly, Team Eight marched into the room and saw a ton of Genin from various villages. The air was tense, so much that it could be cut with a butter knife.
"So this is a Chunin Exam, huh?" were he a greenhorn Naruto would be nervous, but this was nothing. Ignoring them for now, Naruto spotted a few familiar faces and made his way towards them as a conversation began.
"Name's Kabuto…Oh, Hinata-kun, I didn't know you were taking the exams," Kabuto said, appearing mildly surprised. "You've grown since I last saw you," he commented.
"You're telling me," Kiba thought. Sasuke said nothing but even he couldn't deny the truth in the older Genin's words. It was apparent to the males of Team Seven that Ino and Hinata had started to develop womanly curves.
Meeting the members of Team Eight once more after the Wave Incident had been quite the surprise, especially since each member underwent a sudden growth spurt. True, a ninja's body was different compared to ordinary civilians – genetics and the chakra they possessed had a role – so it wasn't out of the ordinary to see one growing more quickly.
"Kabuto-san, you're partaking in the exams, too?" Hinata asked.
"You know each other?" Naruto asked his teammate.
"Hai. Kabuto-san helped me learned a bit more about medical ninjutsu when books weren't enough. He's a good instructor, and better than me at healing," the Hyuga praised.
"You're too kind, Hinata-kun. But you were a quick study and you're Byakugan gives you an edge I don't possess. Unfortunately, as talented as I am at medical ninjutsu, I'm afraid I'm not very good at much else. This is a my seventh try at the exams, my fourth year."
"Wow, you gotta suck then," Kiba snickered, only to be elbowed in the rib by Sakura and receive a scolding looking from Hinata, the latter one throwing him off, unexpected as it was.
"I wouldn't go that far. The Chunin Exams aren't exactly a walk in the park and each one is different from the last so it's not like you can stop yourself from repeating past mistakes. Even having it held in your home village won't matter," Kabuto explained. Past attempts at doing so did more harm than good for a village when their ninja weren't qualified to accomplish the influx the missions sent their way.
"My first two attempts, I never made it past the first round. The following four resulted in myself or my teammates being unable to continue, and the last one resulted in one of my teammates being killed and me barely making it out alive," Kabuto continued.
"Wait! People are killed in this thing!" Chouji asked suddenly, the boy not so hungry anymore. But then the moment passed.
Kabuto nodded, "It can happen. Why do you think Jonin generally wait a year before they nominate their teams for these things? I'm surprised that all nine of you are here actually. You're the first rookie teams in Konoha to be nominated in five years."
Shino, however, gave a slight frown, "How is it that you know so much of this, Kabuto-san."
A few others couldn't help but agree with the Aburame. If Kabuto was as bad as he sounded, how did he know all this information in the first place?
"Aside from medical ninjutsu, I have a … talent, if you will, when it comes to information gathering. Let's just say Konoha was a different place during the last war. I along with many others were forced into a life that was do or die without any opinion on the matter, lets leave it at that," was the boy's reply.
"That would explain his level, but his stats are a bit off for a supposed failure," Naruto's expression remained impassive. Looking around, Naruto's noticed a few other Genin whose levels and stats were way too high for Genin, too.
However, Naruto noticed a pattern among those ninja, "They're all from Konoha," he noted. Wasthe village trying to up their chances? Anko had been a bit tight lipped on the info so Naruto was unsure of how this was supposed to go down. He'd keep his eye out though.
"Unfortunately, my talent for combat is pretty bad so I haven't had much luck in these things. However, my skills as a medic and information gathering have allowed me to develop and procure these," here the older teenager presented the group with a series of blank cards that Hinata instantly recognized, "Those are nin-info cards," the girl recognized them from her time at the hospital.
"Correct. These are based off what we have registered and what I managed to find during my spare time. They're blank now, but once I channel a bit of chakra and voila!" the once blank card soon turned into a detailed piece of paper.
"Whoa, neat," Naruto commented, the skill reminded Naruto of his ability to call up recorded information.
"Indeed… granted the information I have isn't perfect but at least I'll know what I'm up against," Kabuto told them.
"Those ninja-cards," Sasuke began, "Do you have any information on participants."
"Some, but not all, yes," Kabuto nodded, "Who did you have in mind?"
"Rock Lee, Sabaku no Gaara, and Uzumaki Naruto,"
"Me! What the hell for?" Naruto asked, confused by the Uchiha's actions.
"I have my reasons," was all Sasuke said.
"Oh, so that's how we're gonna play it, huh. Gimme what you got on the teme here," Naruto told Kabuto. If Sasuke was annoyed he didn't show it; all he did was grunt.
"Rock Lee, lets see…. Ah! Here we go. Background is pretty unknown except that he's a year older than the rest of you and his teammates are Hyuga Neji and Higurashi Tenten. Currently, he is under the tutelage of Konoha's premier taijutsu master, Maito Gai, which explains the next bit. Graduated as the Dead Last in his year due to his abysmal skill in everything but taijutsu, which has greatly improved since then apparently. Mission history: 20 D-Ranks, 12 C-Ranks, and 2 B-Ranks."
"He has abysmal skill in everything but taijutsu? How's that even possible?" Sakura asked. Granted she knew from experience that Naruto himself used to be bad at everything.
"Well, it wasn't for a lack of trying," Kabuto replied. "Many assumed he just had no talent as a ninja whatsoever. But I can't say anymore without breaking doctor-patient confidentiality. Sorry," he apologized before moving on to the next card, not knowing that Naruto already knew why due to Observe.
"Sabaku no Gaara… not much information about him other than he's the Kazekage's youngest son, his teammates consist of his older brother and sister, and that … oh, wow."
"Oh, wow? Oh, wow what?" Kiba asked, not liking the suspense.
"Apparently, he's come back from every mission without a single scratch on him. Here's the odd part though; his mission history is 14 C-Ranks, 5 B-Ranks, and 1 A-Rank. Not a single D-Rank," that tidbit of information served to unsettle a few of the Konoha Genin and those nearby who were listening in on the conversation.
"Like I said, this information isn't completely accurate. I'm not the first to do this so some of it may be fabricated to unsettle the competition," he tried reassuring, calming others while Team Eight knew it was most likely to be true.
"Now then. Uzumaki Naruto… Getting information on you was quite easy giving your frequent trips to the hospital over the years, especially after a prank or stunt gone wrong," Naruto couldn't help but groan as the rest of the group chuckled at the recollection. Naruto couldn't fault them either; he had pulled some pretty bad ones that backfired on him.
"Background is unknown other than him being an orphan and born on the night of the fabled Kyubi Incident. Was considered a shoo-in for the title of Dead Last but made a remarkable turn around part way through his final year that put him the middle ranking. Skills are in Ninjutsu and Bukijutsu, though they tend to be on the heavy hitter side. You have some skill in Taijutsu but there's nothing here about Genjutsu. Your stamina is, and I quote the words of your teacher, "Gonna make a woman very damn happy one day."
From the room where the Jonin were looking and listening in on them, Anko cackled at her colleague's expressions. Kurenai sighed in exasperation but there was a hint of red on her cheeks. Asuma inhaled too much and choked on his smoke. Kakashi continued reading his book but gave off a small laugh at the comment for reasons unknown. Gai went on about youth.
"Oh, come on!" an embarrassed Naruto snatched the card, ignoring the stunned looks of those around him. Some of the kunoichi, however, were blushing mad, "It can't possibly say that. Oh, my god, it does! Seriously, Anko-sensei!" he shouted; Kabuto merely took back his card and continued despite the scene.
"Moving on. Jonin instructor is Mitarashi Anko, teammates are Yamanaka Ino and Hyuga Hinata, and he has a ninken partner called, Hottomaru."
"Arf!" the ninja dog in question barked.
"Mission history is 45 D-Ranks, partially due to his abuse of the Shadow Clone Technique – wish I thought of that – 8 C-Ranks, and 4 B-Ranks of which two later turned into … Oh, this can't be right."
"What?" Chouji asked.
"Well, it says here that two of them were later reclassified as S-Rank missions," the announcement created a silence in the room so great that a pin cushion could be heard dropping one block away. Then, seconds later, it broke.
"Troublesome," the Nara sighed, with all this heat Shikamaru was starting to regret doing this.
"Bullshit!" Kiba declared, "Okay, the one S-Rank I get, we were on that mission with you."
"If I recall it was more along the lines of us being your backup, mutt," Ino smirked while Kiba frowned as the technicality. She was, after all, telling the truth.
But Kiba retorted in typical Inuzuka manner, "Shut it, Blondie. Your tits and hair may have gotten bigger but your brain's still the same size."
"… Okay, I have no idea where that came from, especially since brain size has nothing to do with intelligence, Dead Last!" Ino normally would have ripped the boy a new one but decided to save that for later. The girl now hoping there was a fight between Genin down the line.
"May I ask how it is possible that your team took on an S-Rank mission? Those missions are reserved for Anbu and veteran Jonin only," Shino asked, though Shikamaru could tell his teammate's mind was already working out potential scenarios. Other Genin teams were just as curious.
"It's not like we planned it. It just … happened," was all Naruto could say, "Our first one started out as a B-Rank mission because Team Seven needed back up; things quickly escalated from there when we encountered Momochi Zabuza and later Hoshigaki Kisame. Pretty much the same thing happened on the other one."
"Fish-head wanted payback?" Kiba asked.
"Worse… Anko's sensei's teacher," Kiba paled considerably upon being told.
"Shit on a stick!" the Inuzuka couldn't help exclaim.
"I'm lost, what does Anko-san's teacher have anything to do with this?" Sakura queried.
"Oh, not much. Except for the fact he's Orochi-fucking-maru of the Sannin!" Kiba exclaimed and it was Sakura's turn to pale; even Sasuke became shocked. The others of the group couldn't help themselves either, "How the hell are you guys alive? Out of all the nuke-nin Konoha's had, that guy's one of the worst of the worst."
"Honestly, pure luck. Seriously, if you ever meet him, run for your life. We had a VIP with us and had no choice but to fight. Wouldn't call it a fight really, more of a one sided ass kicking. Asshole wasn't even taking it seriously either. All we could do was stall for time before help came along and forced him to retreat," Naruto informed.
"Who could have forced him to retreat? Jiraiya?" Kiba asked, to which Naruto nodded. "Seriously, he showed up again? Man, what are the odds?"
"Jiraiya-sama has been tracking him for a very long time, Kiba-kun," Hinata told him.
"Indeed," Kabuto confirmed, "Story is that Orochimaru was believed to have been a prime candidate for the position of Yondaime Hokage. Many claimed he went rogue when Minato-sama was chosen instead; Jiraiya-sama's been trying to track him down ever since. Rumour has it he's been spotted all over the elemental countries. From Mizu no Kuni to Kaminari no Kuni," Naruto noticed Hinata flinching a bit at the Kaminari bit.
"Hinata, you okay?" Naruto asked her.
"I'm fine," she replied.
"Ah, that's right. The Hyuga Incident," Kabuto recalled, "You'll want to steer clear of those Kumo Genin then," he motioned towards the back corner where two teams from Kumo stood beside one another. Naruto saw Hinata's breathing became a bit hastened while Neji developed a scowl of pure loathing.
A quick use of Observe told him that while one group wasn't going to be that big a deal to handle; the other might pose a problem given their levels.
Name: Nii Samui
"Those three look like trouble," Naruto commented to the group, but only Ino and Hinata understood his meaning.
"Perceptive one," Kabuto noticed. What Naruto said was true; those three were not going to be easy pickings. Especially since all three were said to have been trained by their village's most powerful Jonin and the second most powerful man of the village, too. One of them was also directly related to the third most powerful Jonin of the village.
"Holy shit!" Kiba exclaimed, his eyes suddenly on Samui. Or, more accurately, her generous bust size.
"They're probably bigger than Hinata's," Naruto mentally commented.
"Damn! And I thought Hinata's cup size was generous," Ino thought, a little irked that her bust – though still impressive for her age – wasn't as pronounced as the Kumo kunoichi or Hinata's.
"Oh, momma! Hey, ya think those are–" Kiba suddenly his mouth covered up by his teammate. Unknown to him, the kunoichi in question frowned, having heard him from across the room.
"Not cool," Samui thought.
"Kiba, do us a favour and shut up!" Sakura growled, having enough of his antics. She knew her teammate was smart but damn if his habits didn't get on her nerves. She was tempted to clobber him good but needed him conscious for the exam.
"Forget the teme, what do you have on them?" Naruto asked, no longer interested in Sasuke's information.
"Not much I'm afraid," Kabuto half lied. He knew some but had no info cards on ether of the, "Ever since the Hyuga Incident, Kumo hasn't participated in any exam hosted by Konoha, or Suna because they're our allies. Apparently, there are talks of both villages trying to bury the hatchet on that incident. Those six are likely last minute entrees so I don't have much on them except basic Kumogakure information I'm afraid."
While Team Eight knew about Kumo's training regiment through Anko, the visible swords they carried made it clear as day to others who didn't know. Kumo had not de-militarize since the last war and their Genin on average were in greater standing compared to the other villages.
"Aside from them there are Genin from pretty much everywhere: Suna, Iwa, Ame, Kiri, Taki, Kusa," that last one surprised Team Eight, "and Oto. Though that last one's relatively new compared to the others, barely a year old, really. So I don't think we'll face much trouble from them despite the teams they sent."
No sooner had he said that did Team Eight sense ill intent coming from the crowd, their friends ignorant of the incoming danger.
"Guys," Naruto muttered lowly, and prepared for anything.
"I see em," Ino stated, her legs tensing.
"Two boys, and one kunoichi," Hinata confirmed, her eyes tracking them with complete ease, "Slightly above average chakra reserves and stats."
"Grrr," Hotto growled, ready to attack at any moment.
Soon there was rapid movement in the crowd, and before the visiting Genin could react, an Oto ninja jumped off a bench, soared high in the air, and launched two kunai towards Kabuto's location. The older Genin backpedalled to avoid the projectiles but had little time to avoid the Genin suddenly appeared before him.
Arm cocked back and ready to swing at the one that insulted his village, the Oto Genin was unprepared by what happened next.
"BARRKK!" a loud ferocious bark echoed in the room, frightening many and taking others by surprise as a large beast barrelled into the Genin and pinned him to the floor.
"Dosu!" the female kunoichi from Otogakure shouted, but felt cold deadly steel on her throat.
"Don't even try, sweetheart," Ino ordered, one dagger across the girl's throat, the other threatening to sever her spine.
"Don't move," Hinata instructed the Genin that launched the kunai, hands glowing a threatening blue and aimed at his vitals.
"GRRRR," the one called Dosu could do nothing as a large powerful paw with deadly nails continued to forcibly hold him down. His eyes widened considerably by a wide margin as they gazed upon a series of sharp teeth attached to a head twice if not three times as large as his own.
"So…" Naruto began, "Give me one good reason why my boy here shouldn't bite yer head off?" Naruto asked behind the canine. "And trust me, it wouldn't be the first time," that declaration unnerved more than a few teams, especially the Konoha teams.
Dosu said nothing but kept his eye on the two. The Oto ninja quickly came to a conclusion, as he detected no lie, "These Genin… they're like us. They've killed others," the thought didn't put his mind at ease. After all, most Genin, especially those who were born during times of peace, rarely ever killed. Suddenly, the exams weren't going to be as easy as the Sound ninja thought.
"Alright! Knock it off you worthless bastards!" a voice suddenly rang, followed soon after by an explosion of smoke. "Brat, call off your mutt. Oto Genin, pull that shit before the tests one more time and you're village will have one less team representing them! Are we clear!" the man shouted.
"Yeah, yeah," Ino dismissed her teacher's T&I superior, "Anko-sensei's right. He sucks the fun and joy outta everything."
"I heard that!"
"Blow me, skull fuck!" Ino retorted, making the Genin and even the disguised Chunin gape. Naruto groaned while Hinata sighed; both due to the girl's actions.
Rather than get mad, Ibiki's eye twitched and just ordered the Genin to sit down and mentally sigh in exasperation, "Ah, fuck. Another Anko. That's all I need," the girl had guts and spunk – which was good in the man's books – but the man knew she'd give him countless headaches if she was like her mentor. Anko hadn't made a secret of wanting her as an apprentice.
"Name's Morino Ibiki, I'll be your proctor for this part of the exam. For now, your asses are mine!" he finished with a look that greatly unnerved the weak hearted. "Welcome to the first phase of the exams."
Nearly an hour had passed since they began the written portion of the exam. The thought initially unsettling Naruto since – despite his improvement – it wasn't his strong suit. Were it not for his Gamer's Mind Naruto believed he would have hyperventilated when he saw the questions.
Even with him being seated next to Hinata, at best he'd be able to answer four or five but the rest, no fucking way. Sure, his INT and WIS were very high now, but what good was that if he didn't know the correct answer or have it available with his abilitu.
In fact, as time passed and the more he thought about it, Naruto realized something. This written test was a cloak to hide the real test: information gathering. Cheating once resulted in automatic failure at the academy – ironic given their line of duty – but in this one they merely deducted two points for each attempt caught. With ten points to start with, this meant that if Naruto struck out five times, his team was finished.
So for the next forty odd minutes Naruto kept his head down and carefully scanned the area around him until he found his mark. The blond then ordered his ninken to play his role, which, in this case, was urinating on the leg of the ninja opposite him. The ploy certainly worked and when Naruto retrieved the ninken he switched his test with his targets' while they were distracted.
While Naruto and Hottomaru were being brought back, one Genin accused him of stealing his test, only for Naruto to point at his seat to reveal his paper – technically it was Hinata's who was covering for him – had never left its spot. This caused the two Genin beside one another to start fighting amongst each other instead. That is, until, Ibiki had enough and failed them.
All in all, Naruto felt damn proud for pulling that one off and decided to take a page out of Shikamaru's book and took a short nap. By the time he woke up, Ibiki was finishing up some speech or whatever.
"Is that it? No one else wants to quit?" Ibiki asked the remaining Genin of the room. "Remember, if you fai–"
Ibiki's eye began to twitch as his vision landed on Naruto's sleeping form, "WAKE UP!" he shouted, bringing his arm down on the sleeping boy. The man's fist came up short as Naruto's arm shot up and grabbed the appendage in a strong vice. The Chunin were stunned while many had bulging eyes; Ibiki was surprised.
From their location, quite a few of the Jonin were rendered speechless. True, taijutsu wasn't Ibiki's strong suit compared to T&I, but the man was a Tokubetsu Jonin for a reason.
"Yeah, when you learn under a crazy person, that shit stops working after a while," Naruto informed the man. Ibiki mentally sweat dropped, believing every word. "So, can we get this show on the road already? Or can I continue napping?"
Ibiki remained impassive as he continued looking at the boy. His mind wondering if this whole thing was a set up from the get go, "Wouldn't be surprised after that stunt he pulled," the Head of Torture and Interrogation thought. As he retracted his arm, the man realized that his influence over the room was now gone thanks to the boy. Ibiki sighed as he knew this was as good as it was gonna be despite the large number of teams remaining and decided to get on with it.
"Congratulations. To the teams that remain, you all pass the first test!"
"We do? Sweet!" Naruto cheered but inwardly sighed out in relief, "Can't believe my bluff worked."
"What about the tenth question! What was the point of all this?" he heard Sakura ask, confused by the turn of events. Ibiki merely smiled, his personality completely changing, as he began explaining.
True to Naruto's instinct, the intent of the exam was not the written test but to acquire information. The second was seeing how well an individual did under pressure. The final aspect, the final question, was to see if they had the characteristics and the guts to become Chunin.
"For there will come a time where you have no choice but to move forward despite the odds stacked against you. To survive, endure, and be courageous enough to face those hardships. Those are what make a Chunin. Those cowards, who took the safe route because they didn't have the guts to push forward, don't have the right to become Chunin in my books," the man finished.
"So now we–"
"We're under attack!"
Many Genin in the room scrambled for their lives at notion, but three Genin merely sighed at the action. "Alright, ya little shits! This is no time for celebrating! Cuz the proctor for the next part of the exam is me! The Super Sexy and Vivacious Mitarashi Anko!"
"… Meh, Eight," Naruto commented, causing the woman face plant.
"What! That was a primo entrance, gaki!" Anko shouted.
"You're early, Anko," Ibiki commented. "Kid's gotta point for deducting points. Timing does count."
"Oh, fuck you! Everyone's a critic!" Anko sulked, making many deadpan or become shocked by the grown woman's behaviour, "Whatever. Team Eight! Good job on passing the first part. Now I won't have to tan your tight asses," she applauded her team before swiftly doing a head count.
"Eighty-Eight, Eighty-Nine, Ninety… Ninety! You let thirty teams pass, Ibiki! You're losing yer touch, old man," she grinned.
The man's eye twitched at the old man comment, "I'm only three years older than you, Anko!"
"Bah! Whatever. After the second phase, I'll have cut down their numbers by half," she smirked unsettlingly. Many Genin shivered and gulped at the notion, scared of what the second half would be.
Well, it couldn't be that bad, were the thoughts of some.
They were wrong. It was that bad, very bad, actually. Before them was a wide expanse of trees that looked like it came straight out of a horror story. Dark shadows that moved from one spot to the next, eyes hidden in the darkness that looked at them hungrily and frightening sounds like the crunching of bones. The name of this place was very fitting.
"Welcome to Training Ground Forty-Four. Aka, the Forest of Death," Anko cackled at their fearful looks. "Normally this place is only accessible to Anbu and Jonin because of the wildlife and hazardous terrain inside. Luckily for you we took some of the nastier beasties out to make it a little easier… but not all of em," Anko dashed the hopes of many with the added comment.
"Rules are simply. Rule one; the training ground has a tower you must reach within five days, but there's a catch. Each team will receive either an Earth or Heaven scroll and your team needs both in order to pass the second portion of the exam. Rule two; every member of your team must arrive at the tower once both scrolls are procured. If even one of you is missing your team cannot enter the tower until you find them. Any team that misses the deadline will be disqualified and shall make their way out of the Forest of Death. Rule three; in the event one or more of your teammates is killed you will automatically be disqualified. A team member that dies within the tower due to injuries will not disqualify the rest of their team. Should you enter the tower with serious injuries please repeat them immediately to get them treated. And finally, Rule Four; opening the scrolls unless you've reached the tower is prohibited. Those who break this rule will have some very unpleasant surprises," the grin on the woman's face unnerved many.
"What about food!" Ino groaned, knowing exactly who asked the question.
"Why daddy thought it was a good idea for us to be paired again I don't know," sure it was a tradition, but just because they were close didn't mean everyone in the Yamanaka, Nara, and Akimichi got along.
"There are plenty of resources in the forest. Not my problem if you don't know how to forage and hunt," she shrugged. Before the Genin could argue, Anko pulled out a stack of papers, "Before we begin, I'll need you all to sign these waivers. Like I said, there's a chance that some of you will die. Don't like it, tough shit. Right now's your only chance to back out. Once you sign these, the only way back out is by reaching the tower ten kilometres in or in body bags."
"Man, Anko-sensei's really laying it on," Naruto muttered.
"I know. Half of em looking ready to shit themselves," Ino commented, "Looks like you'll have to perform CPR, Hinata."
"They'll be fine. I'm not a registered medic anyway. As such, I'm not obligated to do anything for them," the girl smiled too sweetly.
"Whoa," the two blonds had no idea where the hell that came from. Both were cut off from their thoughts as a voice called to them.
"Huh…. Haku! What are you doing here?" Naruto asked the ninja… or was it kunoichi?
"So… how does this work?" Naruto asked, unfamiliar with the process.
"Truthfully, I'm still figuring it out myself. Mei-sama wasn't exactly pleased with Zabuza-sama when she found out about my … upbringing," the memory of the newly instated Mizukage chasing and trying to castrate the former missing ninja with his own sword was one that many wouldn't be forgetting any time soon. Despite her feminine built, Mei was very strong judging by the way she wielded the man's sword.
"Regardless, it's nice to see you again, Naruto-kun," Haku greeted the boy. "As for why I'm here, I'm representing my village. However, if I'm honest, it's still a bit… odd."
"I think Naruto meant how are you here. Last I heard, Kiri was still in the midst of a civil war?" Ino questioned.
"The war officially ended almost a month ago. With the money we earned after Nami our forces began winning more and more battles at an accelerated rate. The Yondaime Mizukage disappeared sometime during this and victory for the Resistance became assured," Haku explained. "It's not perfect but things are slowly coming back together."
"Kiri sent you guys to show the world you're still in the game, huh?" Naruto earned himself some looks, "What? Kiri's the weakest of the Great Five, no offense, Haku."
"None taken," the ninja couldn't dispute the truth of those words. "Given everything that's happened we entered almost at the last second. Originally, we weren't supposed to come but Zabuza-sensei was very … persuasive. My team is here to show everyone that despite everything, Kiri is still a force to be reckoned with. Zabuza-sensei has been pushing us hard as a result," Haku shuddered a bit. If the ninja thought the man was a sadist before then she didn't want to know what his training was classified as.
"Hey! What the hell's going on?" a voice behind Haku called out. "Haku, we need to get going… Who are you?"
"Ah, where are my manners. Naruto-kun, These are my teammates: Chojuro and Hozuki Suigetsu."
"H-hello," the blue haired boy shyly introduced himself, the action reminding Team Eight of Hinata. Well, pre-Team Eight Hinata.
"'Sup," was all Suigetsu said before he took an interest in Naruto, "So, you're the guy that actually landed a hit that made the Monster of the Bloody Mist bleed and survive a head on attack from Samehada itself… I don't see it," he finished, but was cuffed upside the head by his teammate.
"You'll have to forgive him. Suigetsu-san tends to think with his mouth and … and that's pretty much it," was all Haku could say. It was the best way to describe the aspired to be Seven Swordsman.
"Butt out, man… woman… whatever," Suigetsu didn't know which noun to use. "Lets move. The sooner we go in, the sooner the fun begins," he grinned, revealing a set of sharpened teeth before he walked away, his group following after him.
"Someone's in need of some serious dental," Ino dryly commented before adding, "Gotta feel sorry for whoever he goes down on."
Naruto groaned while Hinata blushed. Hotto scratched behind his ear. As she and her team collected their respective scroll – theirs was a Heaven – and began making their way towards the gate. At the sound of Anko's shout, all times made their way inside the Forest of Death: some slow and cautiously, others more brazenly.
The four members of Team Eight – having spent approx. one third of a year in the wilderness – unanimously agreed they would reach the tower on their first day. They could survive but they were good for the next little while.
As they reached the top of the gargantuan trees, Naruto began to give out orders, "Hinata, mind finding our first victims?"
"Hai!" she said and proceeded to scan the area around her with her bloodline as quickly as she could. It took some, what with the area being so large and wide, but after three minutes Hinata managed to find a group.
"Seven minutes that way," she pointed, "Genin are from Amegakure. Chakra levels are marginally above average."
"Right, wanna just ponce and beat the crap outta of them like no tomorrow?" Naruto asked.
"Actually, I've been wanting to use something Anko-sensei taught me. But I'll need your help, Hinata," the Hyuga nodded and gave the blonde her support.
"What about us?" Naruto asked and Hotto barked in agreement.
"Simple, enjoy the show and hit when they let their guard down," Ino told him.
"Anything?" Oboro asked.
"Nothing?" Kagari shook his head, "Looks likes this zone's a bust."
Oboro scowled, "I could have sworn I sensed someone. Whatever, we'll head to the tower and ambush a group. Where's Mubi?" wondering where the third member of the group was.
"Said he had to take a piss… that was almost two minutes ago," Kagari realized.
"Idiot! It won't matter if we have a scroll, without him we can't move on! Which way did the idiot go?"
Kagari merely pointed east and east they went to find their teammate. Kagari hoped nothing happened, as Oboro would take his anger out on him if their chances of passing ended not twenty minutes in.
Lady Luck, however, smiled upon him as they found their last teammate crouched behind a bush. Oboro was about to charge until Mubi quickly spun and silenced them with a gesture.
Both Genin understood and swiftly crouched and harshly whispered, "What have you been doing!"
"Ah… well, you're not gonna believe this," Mubi merely pointed in back of him. Curious, the other two members of Team Oboro carefully looked through the bush and saw an unbelievable site.
"Ah… Ino-chan," Hinata blushed as the blond continued to lightly peck and grope the Hyuga. "No-not here."
"Ah, come on. You love it," here the Yamanaka grope even harder and began to nibble on her ear, "Besides, when are gonna get another chance at this?"
"But…!" the girl was silenced as Ino covered her lips with her own.
"Guys… this is happening, right?" Kagari asked, not really believing his eyes.
"If it's not I don't want to be told otherwise," Oboro said, transfixed by the once in a lifetime scene.
"Yeah," was all Mubi could say and continued to watch. The groping the blond was performing becoming more intense, making the Ame's attention to their surroundings becoming non-existent.
"Okay, that's enough porn for you three," a voice from behind suddenly spoke and then darkness took them. Once he made certain they were all out like a light, Naruto rummaged through their belongings until he find what he was looking for. To his delight, it was an Earth scroll to compliment their Heaven scroll, to which Naruto promptly placed into his Inventory Box.
"Took you long enough," Ino said as she rearranged her clothes.
"What can I say? Two beauties making out and groping like no tomorrow, I may be a nice guy but I'm still a guy," no way in hell was he gonna let such an opportunity pass.
"But all said in done, good job," Naruto smiled but looked concerned when Hinata couldn't face him without turning redder. "You okay, Hinata?"
"Fi-Fine, Na-narut-to-kun," Hinata muttered. Truthfully, per Ino's suggestion, the girl had to imagine she was doing the act with the blond male to make it through. Hinata wasn't blind and knew Ino probably enjoyed it more than she should have – Hinata would be lying if a tiny part of her didn't either – but in her mind it was both Naruto and Ino doing the act to her.
Suddenly and without warning the large ninken barrelled into them. No sooner did the act take place did a cloud of dust, earth, and wood form as a large unknown shadow crash unto their previously occupied location. A guttural snarl, savage and resounded with primal fury, was sung and revealed the assailant to the world. Tall and scaly with two curved horns, the creature appearing almost like a humanoid crocodile or some other reptilian creature.
"Guys, what the hell is that?" Ino asked and through his Observe Naruto found the answer.
"Bad news," he said. "Remember that giant lizard thing we fought?"
"Turns out he got an upgrade," Naruto knew that was putting it lightly.
Evolved Chakra Mutation: Death Claw – Lv 50?
Abnormal Chakra Mutation: This perk offers the creature the chance to evolve and mutate into something much more powerful.
Apex Chakra Mutation: +5000HP, +50 DEF, +65% Increase towards STR and DEX during combat, +65% Resistance towards Bukijutsu, +35% Resistance towards Ninjutsu, +75% Chance to cause Fear towards low level creatures
Camouflage: +90% Effectiveness Stealth and Stealth based Skills, +90% chance to cause Critical Hits, +70% Chance of being undetected
Natural Assassin: +65% Effectiveness and Power toward Stealth and Stealth based Skills, +65% Effectiveness towards Tracking Skill, +65% chance to cause Critical Hits, +65% increase towards Speed when using Stealth
Description: A chakra mutation previously faced by Team Eight that took on the form of a very large monitor lizard. Since its defeat it has recovered from its wounds and underwent further mutation. While its size remains the same, it has undergone a serious change in looks and its stats have received a remarkable boost, too.
EXP Earned: ?
Drops: ?, ?, ?
Running was no good thanks to the boost in the Tracking Skill, which left only two options: fight or flight. And Naruto being Naruto wasn't about to turn down a good fight.
I'm back baby! Sorry about the delay. I just finished classes, got a new job, been helping renovate two houses for my parents so one could be sold (seriously the market it was in has been crap for the last 5 years), and the other to be up to code.
Then laptop crapped out and was in the shop for a couple of weeks. Lost some data and had to start all over again. Good news, the next chapter already has 1000+ words and my Harry Gamer chapter has 3000+ words. Expect another update in two weeks. Also, once i'm caught up i'm potentially thinking either a Harry Potter/Game of Thrones story or a Game of Thrones/Gamer story. Comment on what you guys think?