Suzu: Erm, plugging my other story, Vainglory. Plugging because it has action. This exam arc is probs the ONLY place you're gonna see (weak) action in this story.

Intermission 42

- the jounin exam -

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. He did NOT sign up for this cr—CRAP!

The colossal serpent slithers into the clearing and Shikaku scoots himself backwards before slamming into a massive tree trunk. He's pressing his body against the tree like a desperate lover (Inoichi-style, of course, not himself) in an attempt to stay out of view. The snake—aw man, just the size of the thing makes his head dizzy—seems to notice something else more interesting, and turns slowly right before rumbling on into the dark forest.

About twenty minutes ago, just when Shikaku thought he could work on building a fort of some kind high in the branches, a scroll plonked down on his noggin. It got worse and worse from there.

The scent that emanated from the first scroll is a lure for bugs. Shikaku only knows because he's read up on a similar technique regarding how the Aburame clan first "invited" insects to come inhabit their newborns' bodies. The fleshy, saccharine mix of smells attracts insects and possibly other amazingly amiable (read: would like to eat you for dinner) animals that lurk about in these woods.

"It's a fucking suicide mission…" he mutters. Something doesn't click, though. Why would the Sandaime sacrifice twenty or so able-bodied chunnin for one measly exam… unless… Abandoning all thoughts of building a fort, Shikaku calculates the best way to get his friends to leave unscathed. He wearily eyes the colony of a thousand or so poisonous Redbush Ants that were moving up the tree towards him.

Gingerly, he shrugs off his top layer of clothing. Anything to get some of the smell off of him. Shikaku vows that if he ever gets out of this alive, he is going to spend his life developing the perfect insecticide, not doing this shinobi crap.

"Is it edible?" Chouza inquires, poking at the flying Konoha leech that he'd plucked off of Inoichi moments ago.

Inoichi is trying not to hyperventilate, dabbing at the free-flowing blood from his arm. "I told you we should have waited for Shikaku. Only he knows useless material like that. Also, will you stop poking at that thing! It's freakin' me out."

"Hm, it's actually kinda cute. Hey, Inoichi, let's name it."

As soon as the words left Chouza's mouth, the man's face grows slack, assuming a completely different expression. One well-placed foot stomp later, the leech is dead underfoot.

"Mission accomplished," grins Chouza.

Inoichi then returns to his own body.

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. There's a giant motherfu—ing snake after her and it was about to… CRAP!

There are probably better ways to die than being eaten by a giant snake. This one is nearly forty meters long, and seems glued onto her. Even when Kushina launches a few kage bunshins to lead the thing away, it remains undeterred. Kushina curses her hair. She blames her hair for everything, maybe sometimes even unnecessarily, but admittedly, all sorts of wildlife are particularly attracted to the color red. Red like blood.

'I noticed your beautiful hair right away.'

The memory floats by, uninvited in this life-or-death moment. Kushina feels a tear beading up on her eye, and realizes she's scared. Aw, shit. What would Minato say if he saw her running from one little snake?

Uzumaki Kushina whips back around, embracing all the rash, suicidal thoughts clamoring in her head.

Hello, Mr. Snake. My, what a big mouth you have.

Then she notices it—like a good ninja—a tiny, glint of crimson inside the yawning caverns of the fanged beast. The red thing—a scroll, Kushina realizes—comes closer and closer into view.

"Gotcha," She grunts, as her fingers close around her second missions scroll.

And precisely then, Kushina realizes she's being swept up into the slimy cavern of a snake's mouth.