Author's Notes: I recently wrote a five chapter story called The Shinobi Test. As I often do I write it because I had an idea that interested me. Since writing fanfiction is my hobby I tend to write whatever interests me at a given time. Now as anyone who follows me probably knows that also means I have longer stories that remain incomplete that I may or may not eventually finish. The best known of my unfinished work being That Look.
I know how much readers hate stories being left incomplete. I am a reader of fanfiction too after all. However, as I said before this being my hobby I choose to update what interests me not what most people would choose for me to work on. Also I am spending a lot of my free time working on original material. Any of you who would like to read my original work can visit my website through a link on my fanfiction homepage.
Since I didn't want to begin another long story that would never be completed I deliberately made The Shinobi Test a short one. I want to continue writing in the somewhat harsher and more realistic setting and I noted it got a very strong response for a five chapter story. I want to continue but I don't want to end up with one more incomplete story that will aggravate people.
Here is the solution I have come up with. I am going to write 'Arcs' set in this world. These will be short, self-contained stories set in the same world. Expect them to be between three and six chapters with a maximum of ten.
"What do you mean I can't enter?" Kurenai demanded. She was dressed in black for mourning as were her students Kiba and Shino who were with her. "Hinata is being buried today isn't she? We've only come to show our respect."
The Hyuuga who was at the compound gate bowed respectfully but his words were firm. "I apologize Kurenai-san, but my instructions were quite clear. The ceremony is to be limited to family members only, no outsiders will be permitted."
"Damn Hiashi," she cursed.
"Hey! If you don't let us in we'll force our way in!" Kiba shouted. Akamaru barked his agreement.
The nameless Hyuuga raised an eyebrow. "Do you truly wish to trespass onto clan lands and cause such an unsightly disturbance?"
"Venturing onto a clan's property without permission is a serious offense." Shino stated. "I also highly doubt that Hinata would want us to do so."
"Yeah well she's dead now!" Kiba said angrily. "All because of her wonderful clan and that prick that was supposed to be her father!"
"Kiba!" Kurenai said sharply. "You can't speak about the head of the Hyuuga clan like that!"
"What are you talking about sensei? You've been calling him a lot worse!"
"That is true." Shino noted.
Kurenai blushed with embarrassment. She had been much too loose with her tongue this morning, especially in front of her students. Even when not on a mission a ninja was supposed to keep certain things hidden.
"Never mind what I said. I shouldn't have said it." She again turned to the guard. "Please, we only want to pay our final respects."
"I am sorry, but my orders are clear." The guard stepped back inside and shut the gate.
Kurenai wanted to just jump over it and go in anyway, but she knew that was impossible. Hiashi and the others really are monsters.
"Hey I say we just go over the fence and go in anyway." Kiba said.
"I am certain we would be quickly apprehended and handed over to the proper authorities for punishment." Shino answered.
"Don't you even care that Hinata killed herself?" Kiba snapped.
"I do," Shino said in his stoic voice. "That does not make your suggestion any less irrational."
"It's fine." Kurenai lied and placed a white flower beside the gate. "I'm sure Hinata knows our feelings. That is enough." She put her palms together in silent prayer.
Kiba and Shino followed her example and put their flowers down and offered up prayers for their former teammate. For a moment the only sound was the whimpering of Akamaru.
At last Kurenai nodded. It wasn't much, but this was all that she could do for that poor little girl. "Let's go." She and her two students quietly walked away.
Naruto was headed to the little bridge where his team always met. He was in a pretty good mood. He hadn't heard how the other Genin squads had done, and even though Sakura was no longer a teammate they had gone on an actual date. Well Sakura had said it was just two friends eating together, but that still counted right? Ayame had even said they looked cute together!
He hadn't gotten to see Sakura much since Ichiraku's. Now that she was reclassified as a civilian her parents had to register her to go back to school! Naruto thought that might just be the cruelest part in all of this. She went from being a ninja and an adult to being just a twelve year old girl attending middle school. Harsh.
Still… during the few minutes they'd gotten to talk yesterday she hadn't seemed upset about it. She'd actually sounded really excited by the prospect of going back to being a student. It was just a shame that she was too busy with things to spend much time with him. It's okay though, like Sakura-chan said we'll see each other all the time.
When Naruto approached the bridge it was about ten minutes to ten. He was anything but surprised to not see Kakashi-sensei there. He was surprise however to see a girl with teal colored hair and black pants with a forest green jacket and shirt. He knew immediately she was a ninja. Not only from the hitai-ite around her forehead but from her weapons pouches and two sheathed swords that were slung over her back.
As soon as she spotted him the girl turned her full attention his way. Naruto was relieved that there didn't seem to be any of the hatred or open mistrust in her eyes that he saw in so many villagers. She looked to be slightly older than he was and Naruto was annoyed to see she was at least three or four inches taller and towered over him.
"You must be my new teammate Naruto. I am most pleased to meet you." Naruto was then treated to a very rare occurrence as the girl bowed to him. "I am Rika, Natsumi Rika, and I have just been transferred into your squad." Straightening up she offered him her hand.
Naruto smiled and immediately shook hands with her. He was so used to being ignored or outright disrespected that even this much civility was enough to make him happy. After shaking her hand he gave her a proud smile. "I see you've heard what an awesome and amazing ninja I am."
"Not exactly." She returned his smile. "I've just seen you being chased by the ANBU a few times. Besides, there aren't a whole lot of people who go around dressed in orange; you are sort of hard to miss."
"Oh," Naruto said clearly disappointed. "Well I'm sure you'll realize how amazing I am before long."
A few minutes later Sasuke arrived.
Rika introduced herself to him with a bow and then offered him her hand.
Sasuke looked at it suspiciously. "You're not going to ask me to go on dates are you?"
She blinked in surprise. "I wasn't planning on it no."
"I suppose it's all right then." He took her hand and gave it a disinterested shake. Then as he always did he leaned against the bridge railing opposite of Naruto. The two of them deliberately trying not to look at each other.
Rika noticed the lack of interaction and the uncomfortable silence. She glanced at her watch and looked about. "The meeting time was set for ten right? Is Kakashi-sensei running late?"
That brought a laugh from Naruto and even Sasuke snorted and looked mildly amused.
"Kakashi is never on time." Sasuke told her.
"Except for when we left the village he is always two hours late for everything." Naruto said. "He'll show up some time around noon."
One of Rika's teal colored eyebrows rose. "Then why didn't he just schedule the meeting for noon?"
Naruto and Sasuke just shrugged.
"If he's always two hours late then why did both of you show up now?"
"He has some way of spying on us." Naruto told her. "If we show up late he knows and will make us run laps around the village."
(From a nearby rooftop a pug dressed in ninja gear was watching.)
"I see," Rika said neutrally.
When she'd been told she was being transferred into Hatake Kakashi's squad Rika had been thrilled. Kakashi's name was well known throughout the village and it seemed that all her hard work was being rewarded. Getting to work beside the last Uchiha also seemed like a great opportunity. Based on this first impression she was wondering how lucky she really was.
"So what's your story?" Sasuke asked.
"How old are you? What sorts of jutsus do you know? What sort of experience do you have? Why were you chosen for this team?"
Rika frowned slightly. "I don't mind telling you about myself since we're going to be teammates, but you could be a little more polite about it. The way you asked sounds like an interrogation."
Sasuke merely shrugged.
"Don't mind him Rika-chan, he's a rude bastard to everyone." Sasuke sent a sharp look which Naruto ignored. "We both want to know about you."
"All right, well to begin with I am fourteen and a close combat weapons specialist." From her back she pulled out a long and short blade sword. "I fight with a katana and a wakizashi. The jutsus I know besides the standard ones are meant to give me increased speed, agility, and endurance. I was placed in a reserve squad under my Jonin sensei Chiharu Renji who…"
"What's a reserve squad?" Naruto asked.
Rika blushed looking embarrassed. "Ah, well you know how two thirds of the teams taking the Genin Test fail it?"
"Well, all those who fail on the first attempt are required to take six months remedial training before they are allowed to take it a second time. The training is designed to drill the idea of teamwork into you so about ninety five percent of the applicants pass the second test. Those who do are formed into reserve squads, those who fail are removed from shinobi status."
"So they only give you two chances to pass the Genin Test? That's really harsh!" Naruto said.
"Ninja life isn't meant to be gentle idiot," Sasuke said coldly. "Have you still not figured that out yet?"
Naruto glared at him openly while Sasuke stared back with disinterest.
Rika wondered where all this hostility was coming from. Teammates didn't always get along perfectly, but they didn't normally snap at each other like this either.
"Anyway," Rika continued. "Squads that are formed that way are designated reserve squads. That's because they aren't meant to be long term. Their members are always subject for transfer to fill in holes in other squads that have, uh, suffered a loss. I'm guessing that's why I'm here."
"The girl you're replacing failed the final test." Sasuke said. "Since you must have passed it I guess that means you must at least be competent."
"Her name is Sakura and you've known her as long as I have at least use her name!"
"Fine, you're here to replace an incompetent girl named Sakura." Sasuke glanced at Naruto. "That better?"
Naruto growled and clenched his fists.
"Wait a minute. The person I'm replacing wasn't lost on a mission, but just failed the Shinobi Test, right?"
"Yeah, that's right," Naruto said. "She is still awesome though."
"No doubt," Rika said. "But that means that you still haven't been on a mission yet right? The two of you are fresh out of the Academy?"
"That's so," Sasuke admitted. "I was the top rookie though, and being an Uchiha it won't be long until I'm an elite Jonin."
"I'm going to be Hokage so I'm going to completely outshine him." Naruto was quick to add.
Rika sighed. And it started off as such a good day. "I was just getting used to doing C ranks."
"What's a C rank?" Naruto asked.
Rika stared at him. "You're kidding me right?"
When he stared back dumbly she explained to him about missions and rankings and about some of the other basics to ninja life. She was going over mission checks and how they were normally paid when noon arrived and with it Kakashi.
"Well I see you've met our new team member and everyone seems to be getting along."
Rika quickly introduced herself formally to her new sensei. "I hope to be a strong part of team Seven and to learn a lot from you sensei."
From behind her Sasuke snorted and Naruto burst into laughter.
Her new sensei smiled beneath his mask and rubbed the back of his head. "Well 'a lot' is a relative term."
Rika was getting a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
"Hey sensei," Naruto stepped forward. "Since we're finally real ninja we're going to start going on real missions right? Rika-chan explained about D ranks, you're not going to make us chase a cat or walk some dogs for our first mission are you?"
Kakashi gave him a wide smile beneath his mask. "Of course not Naruto, I give you my word. Now then Team Seven let's get going to our first mission."
The three Genin found themselves painting a fence.
"This sucks!" Naruto shouted. He glared furiously at his sensei who was sitting in the shade nearby reading his little orange book. His students were out under the hot sun splotches with white paint. "I thought you said we weren't going to do a D rank."
"No," Kakashi replied calmly. "I just promised it wouldn't involve catching a cat or dog walking. I'm saving those for later."
"Then at least let me use my kage bunshins, we can get this done in five minutes."
"There are only three paint brushes idiot." Sasuke pointed out.
Naruto growled something under his breath.
Rika sighed and silently wondered what she'd done to deserve this.