A/N: Like I said, I'll delete all negative guest reviews, because I don't want to talk about them within the story. Anyway, the Anonymous, thanks for the typo, though less arrogant reviews are always welcome. No one in the story is overpowered besides Shikamaru. But he is a time traveler. Doesn't count. Since when are 12 yo chunin-level ninja are overpowered in the Narutoverse? :)
THE MASTER OF SHADOWS
Sarutobi Hiruzen had seen a lot in his long life. Being a Hokage for a few dozen years made him watch countless ninja grow strong or die. However the bunch of rookies was very unusual. It was the time of peace and the age of graduation was higher to allow the kids to develop a healthy psychic. Therefore he didn't expect to have rookies to be this strong.
He hummed and looked up at Shikaku who was waiting for Hiruzen to tell him why the Jonin Commander had been called. Next to him stood Minami Maho, the medic-nin that had taught Yamanaka Ino, Haruno Sakura and Hyuuga Hinata.
"As you know, yesterday was the graduation day," Hiruzen said. "And the newest bunch of rookies is very interesting."
"Ah, it's about the squad my son has formed around himself, isn't it?" Shikaku asked.
Hokage hummed. "Yes," he answered. "I need your help to form teams."
"We have three medics, I'd say that each team has to have a medic," Maho said hurriedly causing the Hokage to smile. That was something Tsunade would say.
"I agree," the Hokage said.
"Ino has to be paired with Shikamaru, their techniques are complementary," Shikaku suggested. "Hyuuga Hinata would do well on the same team with Uchiha Sasuke because of their rivalry and considerably equal strength."
"Wouldn't the rivalry disrupt their teamwork?" the Hokage asked inhaling on his pipe.
"No, it's a healthy rivalry. They care for each other," Shikaku answered. "Uzumaki Mito and Shikamaru are both very strong, I would suggest to place them on one team to allow them progress even further together."
"You suggest to place Akamichi Choji on the different team?" Maho asked, knowing too well about the famous Ino-Shika-Cho team.
"Shikamaru isn't the usual Nara," Shikaku explained. "We aren't direct fighters, but he can be one. Choji will grow strong, but he won't be able to keep up with Shikamaru."
The Hokage glanced at Maho and asked, "What can you say about their medical proves?"
"Sakura is the best student, followed by Hinata. Ino invests less time in her medical training," the medic-nin answered.
"Good, then we have the first team. Neither Shikamaru nor Mito needs a good medic-nin in the team, considering their higher than normal healing rate. Let's find teammates for Haruno Sakura then."
"It should be either Inuzuka Kiba or Choji," Shikaku said. "They both are direct fighters. However Aburame Shino and Inuzuka Kiba are trackers. If we separate them, we'll have three balanced universal teams."
Hiruzen hummed and breathed our a cloud of smoke. Now he had to decide on team leaders.
Shikamaru walked to the Academy with a grin on his face, wondering who was his placed on the team with. Beside him was Mito, who had an identical grin on her face. Onlookers would probably wonder if the two recent Academy graduates weren't siblings considering that they both had whiskers on top of it.
But Shikamaru was thinking about Mizuki. He had remembered about him at the exam, when he had realized that instead of the traitor there had been another teacher. As it turned out, Mizuki was the one responsible for the Shizuka's case. Shikamaru wasn't sure what had happened to the traitor later.
They turned the corner and saw the rest of their group. Three were missing, however, but Shikamaru didn't worry about Maito Gai's team. Lee had been insanely strong at taijutsu even without help and there was nothing Shikamaru could do to help Lee. Neji was strong, but had a very weird personality. As for Tenten, her body wouldn't allow her to become very strong, but she solved the problem by choosing a single specialization that allowed her to be considerably strong. Besides she needed time to properly learn fuinjutsu anyway.
"They have to be related," Kiba said.
"Yeah, the resemblance of their grins is uncanny," Sakura agreed.
"Hokage said they're not, but I somehow doubt that," Choji said munching his snack.
"Oh, shut up," Shikamaru said. "We'll be late for team assignment."
And so the group entered the Academy, walked into their classroom and took their seats. Shikamaru looked around and sighed. The room had completely different atmosphere than the first time. Well, there was still a number of fan girls fawning over Sasuke, but neither Ino nor Sakure were among them. Umino Iruka appeared a few minutes later and began to tell them exactly the same things like the last time.
"Beginning today all of you are real ninjas, but you are still merely rookie genin. The hard part has just started." Iruka paused and looked at the students. "Now... you will soon be assigned duties by the village, so today we will be creating the three-man teams. Each team will have a jonin-sensei. You will follow that sensei's instructions as you complete the assigned duties. We tried to balance each team's strength..."
Not the teacher had Shikamaru's full attention, but not before Iruka got to the team 7.
"...Team 7: Hyuuga Hinata, Uchiha Sasuke, Inuzuka Kiba. Your jonin-sensei is Hatake Kakashi. Team 8: Uzumaki Mito, Nara Shikamaru, Yamanaka Ino. Your jonin-sensei is Yuuhi Kurenai. Team 10," continued Iruka. "Aburame Shino, Akamichi Choji, Haruno Sakura. The jonin-sensei is Sarutobi Asuma."
'Troublesome,' thought Shikamaru. He hoped to be on Kakashi's team. But he could see the logic. Nobody on Team 8 was good enough at genjutsu. By assigning her as a team leader the problem was solved. However, it was an uncomfortable feeling to know that the jonin-sensei was weaker than him. Even Mito was stronger, but his counterpart didn't have the experience, therefore he doubted that Mito would defeat the jonin. Besides she was bad at genjutsu, better than he had been, but against the genjutsu mistress the jinchuriki would lose.
When Iruka announced a break, everyone left the academy, but the Nine gathered in front of the Academy.
"So, what do you think about the teams?" Shikamaru asked.
"It's awesome!" Mito exclaimed. "We're all together and I'm on the same team as you."
"I wouldn't say it's awesome," Hinata said glaring at Sasuke.
"Hn." Sasuke turned away from her.
"Do you know something about jonins?" Kiba asked.
"Why do you think I know something?" Shikamaru said.
"Because you always know something," Ino said.
Shikamaru smiled. "Well, Hatake Kakashi is the last surviving student of the Fourth. I'd say he's the strongest out of the three jonins. He's very strong at ninjutsu." Then he turned to Sasuke and added, "Kakashi has a sharingan."
Sasuke's eyes widened and he asked, "How is that possible?"
"I'm not sure," Shikamaru answered. "Got it implanted, I guess. Anyway, Sarutobi Asuma is Hokage's son, was one of the Twelve Guardian Ninja. He's strong at everything. Prefers wind ninjutsu and taijutsu that uses Chakra Blades. Yuuhi Kurenai is the best genjutsu specialist in the village, but her other skills are lacking. However she still can kick all of your arses even without genjutsu. Well, excluding Mito and probably Sasuke and Hinata."
"So, you're saying the three can take on me?" Shikamaru cringed and turned around. And, of course, Kurenai stood there looking at him quite annoyed. Probably because he had said that her skills were lacking. But she wasn't alone. She was a beauty. Pity that he had a child's body. He shook his head stopping the perverse chain of thoughts.
"Kids today..." Asuma said with a sigh.
"I didn't mean it to offend you," Shikamaru said sheepishly.
Kurenai hummed and said coldly, "We'll see how good you all are. Soon." With that the pair disappeared using a Body Flicker.
"You're screwed," Kiba noted barking with laughter.
"Troublesome women," Shikamaru muttered and ducked avoiding a kick from Ino.
"Why did you have to offend our jonin-sensei?" Ino groaned.
"I didn't," Shikamaru said. "Whatever. I want to meet all you at the known place this evening. There is much to talk about."
He planed to tell all of them the truth. Not the whole truth, of course, but the majority of it. He was very nervous doing it, but he was certain that they would keep it to themselves.
Mito is loyal to the bone and she would do anything for him. He gave her true friends. And he knew what it meant for the jinchuriki. Sasuke was just as loyal, because thanks to Shikamaru, the Uchiha had found in their group a new family and means to become really powerful. He was given a purpose to live for something besides revenge. The same for Hinata. They were her new family. Choji for various reasons wouldn't tell a soul either, he was just as loyal as Mito.
Kiba, being a member of Inuzuka clan had a very strong feeling of a pack. And the group was his pack. Knowing that Shikamaru had only the best intentions, he wouldn't betray them. Aburame were very lonely because people tended to fear them. They were creepy. That's why Shino was very thankful for allowing him to be a part of the group, where he found friends that didn't care for his bugs. Besides, he would see the logic and wouldn't tell anyone.
But Sakura, Ino were more troublesome. Sakura was thankful for helping her getting strong. Ino was too. They were very good friends. But was that enough for them to not tell their families or report to the Hokage? He was quite sure, however, that they wouldn't tell anyone because by doing that they would betray the whole group. Neither of them would want to become an outcast or destroy the Konoha Nine, now the Rookie Nine.
Two hours later Kurenai appeared in their classroom briefly and informed the team that they were to meet her at the fifth training ground. Apparently she wanted to test them right away. When they got there Kurenai was waiting for them.
"Now, you already know who I am, apparently," Kurenai said glaring at Shikamaru. "Do you know about the genin test?"
"Yes," the three nodded.
"Good. Then let's begin. If you weren't so full of yourself, I would give you a normal test, but seeing that you're so confident in your abilities, the test will be different," she said.
"That's your fault!" Ino exclaimed elbowing Shikamaru.
"Anyway," Kurenai continued. "You have to defeat me in order to become genin."
"What?" Ino exclaimed. "You're a jonin. You can't possibly expect that a rookie genin team would be able to defeat you, Kurenai-sensei."
"That would be the case if you weren't so overconfident," Kurenai explained. "It's a bad quality for a ninja. Treat it as if you've already failed the exam. I'm just giving you a chance to prove me wrong."
"Troublesome," Shikamaru muttered lazily.
Shikamaru wondered if she knew about their abilities. No one besides his father and Hokage knew about it, but Hokage could tell her. Was she serious, or was it just a part of the test? He knew that if she would use high-level genjutsu, Mito and Ino would probably be taken out quite fast. It was a very troublesome situation. He couldn't just assume that she was bluffing. She could very much tell the truth. That's why, they had to win, but if they'd win, it would embarrass Kurenai. A dilemma.
"Begin," Kurenai commanded.
She immediately cast a genjutsu on them. Shikamaru just shrugged it off. His mind and chakra control were too good to be caught in this genjutsu. Ino struggled for a few moments, but fought the illusion off too. Mito, however, began to scream before Ino released her from genjutsu. But both of her teammates noticed the haunted look on Mito's face. She saw something very disturbing. Shikamaru remained calm, because he had shrugged the illusion off before he could understand it. But seeing Ino's face reddening as she was seething in rage told him that Kurenai had used something very unpleasant.
However, he knew that it was quite weak illusion, if she would go all out neither Ino not Mito wouldn't be able to fight it. He couldn't let Kurenai get Ino and Mito under another illusion.
"Calm down," Shikamaru said looking unblinkingly at the jonin. Then he signaled with their secret code, "Mito, Ino use my shadow."
The next moment Mito and Ino jumped to Shikamaru's shadow and much to Kurenai's surprise disappeared inside of it, as the shadow began to split and stretch in every direction connecting to other shadows. No one in his clan would be able to do something like this. No one would have enough chakra. But he easily created a network of shadows that covered entire training ground.
Shikamaru couldn't help but grin at astonished expression on Kurenai's face. It was his version of Hirashin, and the jonin understood it as Ino and Mito began to appear in random places using taijustu and throwing kunai, forcung the jonin on defensive.
Kurenai did the only right thing that was available to her. It was now impossible to get Ino and Mito under genjutsu while they were hiding in his shadows, and they were fast enough, so that Kurenai was unable to counterattack them. But Shikamaru stood unmoving and she had assumed that he had to stay still. She used some strong genjutsu on him, but to her surprise it didn't work on him, so she attacked him using taijutsu.
And there was another surprise waiting for her. He didn't dodge as she kicked him only to be paralyzed herself. The figure she had thought to be Shikamaru transformed into black threads that winded around her leaving her no means to escape. Behind her Shikamaru appeared out of the shadow network along with his team and released his shadows, leaving, however, Kurenai bound by his shadow threads.
"We won," he said simply.
"How?" Kurenai asked. "What was this technique?"
"It was a Dark Clone. I would call it a Shadow Clone, but there are clones with the name. It's a mix between a simple Transformation and my clan techniques. I went inside of my shadow at the same time as Ino and Mito leaving the Dark Clone in my place."
Kurenai closed her eyes and sighed. "Alright, you pass."
Shikamaru nodded and released her and suddenly felt awkward, knowing that she was probably feeling useless defeated by a team of rookie genin.
Probably, his thoughts appeared on his face and Kurenai said, "Don't worry about it. Your father and Hokage informed me about your abilities. I'm aware that you're of jonin strength." Then she frowned and added, "But it's still embarrassing."
"Why did you use that genjutsu on Mito?" Ino demanded quite angrily.
"Ino," Shikamaru said. "It was a fight. Better our jonin-sensei than a enemy."
Yamanaka huffed. "But still, it was a very cruel genjutsu, forcing us to see our worst and deepest fears."
"It's alright," Mito said looking down.
At that the jonin looked apologetic. "It was a part of the test. I was told that the main reason I was assigned to this particular team because you're the worst team at genjutsu. I had to know how good you handle it."
"Well, you could ask. I can detect and disrupt anything up to B-rank and some of A-rank illusions," Shikamaru said. "Ino is not bad at casting them, but it's not her forte. She can't detect A-rank ones. Mito, well, she's bad at illusions and you'll have to work on it with her."
"Am I right that you hid them in the shadows to prevent me getting them under genjutsu?" Kurenai asked.
"Yes," Shikamaru answered.
But at the same time Ino said, "No, it's because he's a show off."
Kurenai smiled. "As we're now a team, let me treat you to dinner. Any suggestions?"
"Ramen!" both Shikamaru and Mito exclaimed at the same time.