Even though the match had started ten minutes previously, Shino and Shikamaru had still not moved from their original positions. Naruto was started to get impatient. "This is fucking ridiculous." He casually dodged Sakura's fist for his language. "It's one thing to size up your opponent, but come on people! Let's go! Some of us have tournaments to win here." Sasuke grunted and nodded sagely in agreement. "Fuck this. I'm bored. I'll be back in a bit." Sakura and Sasuke shrugged and let him walk off.
Naruto had gone 20 steps down the hall before he realized that he had no particular destination in mind. Competitors weren't allowed to go into the fan section, so talking to his other friends was out of the question. He shrugged. Might as well go take a shit.
By the time Naruto had returned to the competitors' balcony, the match between Shino and Shikamaru was already over. He joined Sasuke over at the balcony and leaned against it with his arms resting on the edge. As they watched Sakura and Neji make their way over to where the proctor was standing, Naruto muttered, "So how's he do it so quickly? I would've guessed that he'd wanna do as little work as possible."
Sasuke grunted in agreement and then spoke, "He won pretty easily actually. Coming into the fight, I guess Shino didn't really think about how his bugs have shadows too."
Naruto nodded sagely – an exaggerated nod which actually made him look quite the opposite. "You think Sakura is gonna beat this guy? I hear he's pretty decent."
Sasuke was silent for a moment as they watched the two fighters engage in their opening banter. "Her biggest asset by far when it comes to combat is her skill with genjutsu." Naruto reluctantly nodded. "Seeing as this guy can render genjutsu virtually worthless, I don't think she can pull out a win." As this was said, Sasuke realized that he was genuinely sad about her getting such an unfair fight. She had really worked her ass off, and he could respect that.
Sakura knew she wasn't gonna win this fight. She had known it since her opponent's name came up next to hers on that blackboard a month ago. Neji Hyuuga was hailed as a prodigy of the highest order. His taijutsu was said to be exceptional, as befitting a Hyuuga. Her research showed that he trained under a sensei who was renowned for his speed in battle, so it was safe to assume he would be faster than her as well.
That was why she and Aoba-sensei had made a goal that didn't pertain to winning. Her goal, instead, was tiring Neji out as much as she could. There was a very good chance that either Naruto or Sasuke would be fighting Neji later in the tournament, and the least she could do is make it easier for her teammates.
As she had been thinking, Neji had been going through his opening monologue. "Hm? What was that?"
There was a distant scream of agony from the stands and Neji glared straight at her, making her smirk. Tsk Tsk; what a temper. This might be easier than I anticipated.
"For your insolence, I'm going to finish you off as soon as possible!" As he shouted, Neji was charging straight toward her, activating his Byakugan immediately. Sakura was going to start by reminding him that his excellent eyesight wasn't perfect.
As Neji was almost upon her, Sakura withdrew 3 flash-bangs with fast-acting fuses and tossed them straight at Neji's eyes. His eyes widened in surprise and he attempted to shut his eyes, but he wasn't quite fast enough. He retreated as he hissed from the pain, still unable to open his eyes.
Neji was disappointed in himself. He had let his frustration at being ignored cloud his judgment. He should have been ready for cheap tricks like that. She had had an entire month after all, and she wasn't stupid. He shut off his Byakugan, thinking: I'm going to have to use it sparingly in this fight, but that should just make this more interesting. He took a deep breath and focused his hearing, saying out loud, "That was a clever trick. But you can't seriously think that I've never fought an opponent who used similar tricks." He ducked his head to the left, letting the kunai Sakura had thrown to sail past his head.
He smiled an opened his eyes again. He would fight this opponent without his bloodline if he was forced to. He saw her over to the right and smiled.
Everything was going according to plan so far, but Sakura knew that she had no time to get complacent. Aoba-sensei was quite vehement that she learn that lesson. While Neji was recovering from her flash-bang, she had been throwing up as many genjutsu layers as she could, betting that he would try to not use his doujutsu again immediately. After that, she dropped a few scrolls that Naruto had made for her a while back. She threw a few in random directions as well, and then tossed a kunai at him.
Neji was starting to get seriously pissed off. His opponent just refused to actually fight him. It was like chasing the demon-cat, Tora. No matter what he did to try and close the gap, she always seemed to slip away. His eyes were still hurting from that initial flash-bang and the following smoke pellets that she kept dropping everywhere.
For the first time, he was starting to see the arrogance of his clan. This fight was making it very apparent that although the Byakugan was an exceptional bloodline to have, the Hyuuga clan's over-reliance was readily apparent. If Neji had been humble enough to learn any mid or long range techniques, this fight would be much easier. He was so reliant on his eyes that he hadn't spent much time practicing throwing weapons, so he couldn't even use kunai or shuriken as a reliable back-up.
Yamanaka Ino couldn't really remember a time where she wasn't proud of something about herself. But watching Sakura effectively play cat and mouse with last year's rookie of the year made her disappointed. If she had taken her training more seriously, it could've been her down there. She told herself that she would talk to her Daddy as soon as she could. It was time for her to get more serious about her kunoichi training.
To those who were not ninja or who were not too competent at being ninja – so mostly gennin, this fight had turned quite boring. An hour and a half into the fight and the two Konoha ninja had yet to touch the other at all. Sakura continued to stay out of range, using a surprisingly large arsenal of tricks to keep the prodigal Hyuuga at bay.
For those who were well-versed in tactics, this fight was very much one-sided, and not in the way the bookies had been confident about before the final round. Sakura had been controlling this fight from the very beginning. But it didn't seem like she had any way to finish the fight on her terms.
Neji was growing very tired. He was exerting himself far more than his opponent in this little chase. His chakra was starting to run rather low as well. While he didn't really use jutsu, his doujutsu cost required a surprisingly large amount of chakra to activate. Usually this wasn't too big an issue since he could just leave it on, but with all of the flash-bang pellets this girl was using – would she ever run out? – he couldn't keep his byaakugan active for long.
He paused for a much needed break and called out to her, "Do you really think you can win this?" He turned his Byaakugan on for a few seconds. "You're just about out of chakra and the only reason I haven't caught up to you yet is because you've been augmenting your muscles with chakra."
Sakura was silent for a moment before she took a deep breath. "You're right. But I'm not here to get a victory. I'm here to get promoted. I may not win a fight against an opponent like you, but I've been stalling long enough that had this fight taken place in the field, any one of my teammates would have come to assist me long ago. And even if I was solo, any chuunin/jounin squad worth their rank would have made it by this time as well."She smiled over at him. "You're an exceptional shinobi, Hyuuga Neji. It's a shame that you're arrogant enough to probably never make it to jounin." While Neji was scowling at her, she turned to the proctor, "I forfeit." She then walked off the arena floor.
The Kazekage turned to his counterpart, "That was a rather anticlimactic finish, Hokage-dono."
The Hokage was busy loading his pipe, thus he didn't not look over to him when he responded, "Yes, but she is absolutely correct. Backup would have arrived some time ago. She made an excellent tactical decision to prepare for this fight in such a manner."
Kakashi smiled proudly under his mask. "She's got quite a brain on her."
The others around them either nodded their head or grunted in agreement
After that fight, there was a brief intermission as it was about midday. While the spectators scurried to the various booths serving food in the concourse, the competitors were somewhat bored. Neji had recently arrived back at the competitors' assigned area after being seen to by the medics during the intermission and was lying down with a cloth covering his eyes. The med-nin had said that his eyes were fully healed, but Neji figured it couldn't hurt giving them some rest.
Naruto had pulled out his latest tome on fuinjutsu while Sasuke had pulled a small length of ninja wire out of his pouch and was making intricate patterns with it between his fingers. Neither one of them was paying much attention to their activity as they were focused more on the two remaining Suna shinobi nearby. "Do you think the puppet dude is actually gonna try? Shorty's obviously the stronger of the two."
Sasuke grunted in amusement and replied, "Shorty? That's your brilliant nick-name?"
Naruto glared lightly at him over the cover of his book. "Fuck off."
Sasuke smirked at him before looking back down at the wire twirled about his fingers. "I don't know, honestly. Different villages have different mindsets when it comes to throwing a fight." He stared at Naruto until the blonde looked up at him and made eye-contact. "If I ever find out you've thrown a fight against me and let me win, I will murder you with extreme prejudice and intended humiliation."
Naruto snorted and was about to respond before a voice came from over the P.A., "Please return to your seats. The next round shall begin in 2 minutes."
"There has been a change in the tournament bracket. Seeing as Dosu Kinuto and Sabaku no Kankurou have both forfeited, we will be placing Sabaku no Gaara and Uchiha Sasuke as opponents to finish the first round of fights."
Ino was confused. "Why would they just forfeit? Don't they want to prove themselves? Why else wouldn't they have just forfeited earlier in the exams?"
"An excellent question, Ino." They all jumped as they heard a voice from on the other side of Asuma, a seat that had been empty a moment ago.
Asuma turned to look at the person. "Kakashi? Where'd you come from?" While it was said in a nonchalant and joking manner, inside Asuma was rather taken aback. How did I not hear him sitting down? These chairs are squeaky as fuck. He shifted on his chair and heard a squeak. He smiled as he waited for the other Jounce's answer.
Kakashi leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. "Oh, I've been here for a few minutes. Just thought I'd step away from that stuffy box for a few moments." Asuma pulled out a cigarette and sighed as he saw it disappear. Looking to the man next to him, he saw his suspicion confirmed as Kakashi exhaled a cloud of smoke. Fucking showoff, could've just asked for one. It was as he went to grab another cigarette that he noticed the piece of paper tucked in to the edge of his sleeve. He casually dropped it into his pocket as he grabbed his pack.
A moment later, Kakashi had left and Asuma told his students that he needed to go to the bathroom. He chose a stall once there and opened up the small note. His eyebrow rose at the words he read.
He left the bathroom at a much quicker pace than he had arrived.
Sasuke stared at the boy across from him. He looked calm and composed, yet still angry, but there was something in his gaze that was disturbing. Sasuke had dealt with furious opponents before, but the rage he could see in Gaara was terrifying even for him. I'm going to need to keep my distance. He brushed his hands over the long armbands that went from his wrist to his elbow. While they looked and felt like ordinary armbands, they in fact were made of long and tight spirals of ninja wire. This wire wasn't not the typical wire, however. It was imported from Kusagakure and was made from the silk of a spider that only exists in that country. It was stronger than steel cable, but it felt very soft to the touch. Because it was made from a living being, it was highly chakra conductive.
As soon as the proctor started the fight, Sasuke had to quickly dodge a stream of sand rocketing toward him. He immediately activated his recently fully formed Sharingan. Because of his Sharingan, he was easily able to avoid the stream of sand that Gaara had sneakily directed towards his feet. He flipped back about fifty feet and made a ram seal, releasing the gravity seals placed on his wrists and ankles.
With a smirk toward Gaara, he disappeared in a flash. Gaara's eyes widened before Sasuke suddenly appeared inches in front of his face, Sharingan whirling. Gaara attempted to strike him with has sand, but the body he struck disappeared. It's just an afterimage. An instant after that, he noticed something out of the corner of his eyes. He turned toward it, but before he could react, he was struck across the face with a spinning back-fist.
Gaara was sent flying through the air and rolled to a stop 20 feet from Sasuke's position. When Gaara climbed to his feet, he saw himself surrounded by images of Sasuke running clockwise around him. He spun, trying to discern which was the real one as his sand started swirling around him. As one of the images charged him. He drew his sand up to black and was pleased when he got it up in time. His eyes widened as the image fazed through his sand and he was smashed across the temple with a viscous roundhouse kick. One again, he was sent rocketing across the field. He stood up and held his hand up against his temple while his breathing quickened.
Asuma puffed contently upon his cigarette, easily ignoring the scowls that his blond student sent his way. Ino frowned down at the arena floor, mumbling, "Something seems off about this fight."
Chouji nodded and Asuma grunted in agreement. A moment later, Shikamaru spoke up, "Genjutsu." Asuma nodded in pride and Shikamaru sighed when he saw the confused face of Ino and Chouji. "How could you forget about his Sharingan? Troublesome. Due to his doujutsu, all he has to do is make eye-contact. So when he ramped his speed up at the beginning of the fight, he was able to get right in front of Gaara for just long enough to place him under a genjutsu. He's faster than I expected, but he isn't that fast, but Gaara seems to be spinning around as though Sasuke is dancing circles around him."
Ino was astonished. The skill required to accomplish something like that was shocking. "How is he able to do so much at once? We're only gennin."
She jumped as a voice came from her other side. Sakura now sat beside her with her right leg neatly crossed over her left knee. "It's due to the unique ability of his Sharingan. Every Uchiha's eyes are unique. While they all have the generic abilities, Sasuke's allows him to not only memorize an opponent's physical movements, he's able to emulate the effect in his genjutsu immediately.
Sasuke was grateful to his sensei for all the brutal training he went through to develop his Sharingan to this level. While Tekuno-sensei had worked some on his speed, Sasuke knew coming into this feet that he wouldn't be able to keep up with Gaara's sand. With the unexpected burst of speed after dropping his gravity seals, he was easily able to get in close, ensuring that Gaara made eye-contact, and capture him in his doujutsu
He paused when he saw Gaara shaking slightly and muttering. This guy is fucking psychotic. Not giving the unstable redhead a chance to recover. He made a quick set of hand-seals. He breathed in deeply as he pulled four kunai out of his pouched. He held his chakra on the verge of releasing while he quickly wrapped an explosive tag around each kunai. "Katon: Ryuka no jutsu." Right after the fire roaring dragon was released from his mouth, his hand shot forward and released the kunai at his opponent. Gaara's sand reacted instinctively and flew up to block the powerful jutsu. The dragon was extremely hot however – It was a bright red bordering on white – and after a second, Gaara's sand had started to turn to glass.
As the glassy sand began to crack, the four kunai smashed through and struck Gaara in the torso. Sasuke smirked and made a ram hand-sign. Gaara had just realized that he had been hit when the four tags went off. Sasuke had sent two types of tags. Half were simply typical tags, but the other two were special. As these two tags went off, Gaara was covered in oil that quickly lit on fire from the explosion. Gaara screamed in rage and pain as his body was engulfed in a huge fireball that stayed lit for 10 seconds before being smothered by Gaara's sand.
When the fireball had erupted, it had caused Gaara's sand armor to fissure, shooting fragments into the boy's skin underneath.
Sasuke watched with a satisfied smirk as he saw the remains of Gaara's sand armor waterfall from his skin. As the sand fell to the ground, it revealed that Gaara was littered with lacerations. His eyes were wide with confusion and fear. He yelled out, "My blood! I'm bleeding!"
Sasuke stared at him in confusion as he saw all of Gaara's sand rise up and form a spherical dome around himself. Sasuke could tell from his position that the sand dome was at least 6 inches thick. A simple fireball won't get through that. I was hoping not to use my trump card until I fight Naruto, but whatever. He stood for a few minutes – Gaara seemed content to wait – forming a strategy.
A moment later, he charged chakra to his legs and jumped as high as he could while leaping over Gaara. With a flick of his wrist, his wire started to shoot down. Sasuke swirled his arm, allowing the wire to spool around the dome of sand. As he landed, he slid backwards away from Gaara while simultaneously pulling the wire taut. As soon as he stopped, he made some hand seals. "Raiton: Electromagnetic Murder."
Due to the chakra conductive wire, his lightning jutsu shot toward his opponent. In half a second, the dome was crackling with the lightning surrounded. His fire jutsu were unable to crack the dome, but lightning was far hotter than fire and the sand quickly turned to shards of glass. Finally with a loud cracking sound the entire dome shattered, raining glass all around the area. Gaara was so surprised at this that he wasn't paying attention when Sasuke charged through and hit him in the diaphragm with a chakra-enhanced side kick.
Gaara was bent over his leg as he coughed out a stream of blood before he rocketed into the far wall. Slowly, his unconscious body fell forward out of the crater in the wall. Genma glance at him before saying, "Winner is Sasuke Uchiha."
Sasuke smirked in satisfaction, before he glanced up and frowned. Feathers had begun to rain down around him.