Chapter 29: Pre-Tests
Hello everyone, sorry for the wait. The Boruto manga did not give me the inspiration I was hoping for, in fact I'm worried that it is going to be the Naruto version of Dragon Ball GT (apologies to those of you who enjoyed GT, Super Saiyan 4 was cool but I did not care for the plot in any arc. That and killing Piccolo was unforgivable. Okay, done being defensive.)
I did not get a lot of support for Destiny supers except for Nova Bomb so expect to see that in the future. Maybe some of the others if I can think of a good way to work them in.
Okay, on with the story.
"He's late! Again!" Sakura seethed. She, Sasuke, and Naruto were on the bridge that Kakashi had appointed as Team 7's meeting spot when they were not training. Once again Kakashi had told them to meet early in the morning and once again he was almost two hours late. While Sakura was complaining Sasuke and Naruto were coping in their own way. Sasuke, while annoyed was managing to wait quietly. And Naruto…
Okay, looks like I'm done meditating, Naruto said to himself.
"And I guess I'm done napping," added a groggy Kurama.
"You're late!" Sakura yelled.
"Actually Sakura, for Kakashi-sensei, he's ten minutes early," Naruto 'corrected.'
Huh, must be losing my touch, Kakashi thought. "Well, my timing aside I have something for the three of you," he stated as he pulled out three sheets of paper.
This caught the genins' attention, especially when they saw what the papers were.
"Applications for the Chunin Exams?" Sakura asked.
"Exactly, I think the three of you deserve a chance. Although whether or not you'll take them is entirely up to you," Kakashi answered.
After yesterday, there's no way I'd sit out, Naruto thought remembering the tour Team 7 and the Konohamaru Corp. gave Haku and his team.
Before showing Haku's team everything Konoha had to offer, Naruto and his friends decided to head to Ichiraku's. It was still the middle of the day and Naruto knew that his team at least had not had lunch yet. As they were waiting for their orders Sakura decided to ask what was on the Konaha citizens' minds.
"So, we know Haku from the mission to Wave and his time here, but we don't know anything about Aisu-san or Soliux-san. Could you tell us about yourselves?"
"We are genin from Kiri," was all Soliux said.
"C'mon Soliux, that's no way to treat our new friends," Aisu lectured. She continued, "I'm from a rather large clan that just recently came out of hiding since Mei-sama became Mizukage. My poor vision is due to a kekkei genkai that is the coolest thing you've probably ever seen, but I'm not going to tell you what it is just yet, just in case we face each other in the exams. I will say that my clan's kekkei genkai can manifest itself in three different ways. I became a ninja a few years back, but Soliux and I had trouble finding a third teammate so that's why this is our first Chunin Exam. In case my headphones didn't give it away, I like listening to music."
"Amazing that she did that all in one breath," Kurama commented.
"Soliux comes from a clan too. He wants to be one of the new Seven Swordsman and he wants to fight Hoshigaki Kisame."
"Hoshigaki Kisame, I've heard of him. The Kirigakure no Kaijin who eventually became a missing-nin when the Land of Water sought him for plotting to overthrow its government and being involved in numerous assassinations that include another country's daimyo, right?" Naruto asked garnering looks from Sasuke and Sakura. "What, the man's an international criminal, none of this information is hard to find."
"According to Otou-sama, Kisame-san was to guard the Cypher Division under orders from his superior, Suikazan Fuguki of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Mist. When his group was cornered by Konoha-nin serving under Morino Ibiki during a mission, Kisame chose to kill the Cypher Division members to keep their intel from being leaked out through Ibiki-san's interrogation, as instructed by Fuguki-san. Eventually, learning that Fuguki-san was selling information to other ninja villages, Kisame-san killed him and took Fuguki-san's sword, Samehada, for himself," Haku added.
"And Soliux-san wants to fight him?" Sakura asked, thinking that the idea was suicidal.
"Two of the ninja who uncovered the plot that led to Kisame becoming a missing-nin were my parents," Soliux said.
"So you're an avenger too," Sasuke noted.
"No, as much as I would like him to die by my hand, if someone else were to kill Kisame before I do I would have no choice but to accept it," Soliux started. He continued, "I am only human, I cannot change how I feel about the matter, but as a shinobi and a swordsman I should be above things like vengeance."
"Hn," was Sasuke's only response.
"Enough of this depressing stuff, we should be excited. We get to take part in the Chunin Exams,"Aisu said.
"Aisu," Soliux warned.
"C'mon Soliux: challenging situations, strong opponents, I can hardly stand waiting."
"Don't forget the different ninja arts that are unique to each village, like Suna's puppetry," Naruto added.
"Yeah, so let's eat and then finish the tour so we can get ready," Aisu said as the food arrived.
Just the thought of fighting them or that team from Suna is enough to get my blood pumping, Naruto told Kurama.
"I suppose if this didn't get you excited then you have no business being a ninja."
My thoughts exactly. Naruto was soon pulled from those thoughts by his Sensei's voice.
"Think hard about whether or not you will be taking part in these exams, but if you do decide to enter come to the third floor of the Academy in three days. The time, room number, and any other information you may need are included in those packets I gave you. Remember, this is a decision that you as individuals must make," Kakashi told his squad.
"What do you think our chances are Sensei?" Sakura asked, unable to keep the nervousness out of her voice. After meeting the shinobi from Suna and Kiri one could not blame the poor girl.
"I would say you have as good a chance as the other squads," Kakashi answered.
Seeing as how that did little to reassure Sakura, Naruto said, "Sakura, the three of us are a team, Sasuke and I will support you as much as we can."
"See, he agrees."
Naruto's words seemed to help Sakura, and seeing this Kakashi decided to take his leave. "As I said, you three must think hard about whether or not to enter, so you have the time until then to yourselves," with that Kakashi left via shunshin.
"It's been a while but I think that the Chunin Exams requires any applicants be a part of a team of three," Kurama said.
I would be shocked if it didn't, but I think we'll keep that information to ourselves for now. You saw how worried Sakura is, putting pressure on her certainly won't help. Deciding to go do some individual training, Naruto said, "I don't know about you guys, but I'm definitely going to enter, I hope to see you guys at the Academy."
"I'll be there, dobe. Don't worry about that," Sasuke responded.
"Uh, sure, I'll be there too," Sakura said unconvincingly.
"Sakura, if you aren't ready you aren't ready, don't force yourself," Naruto said before he left.
Three Days Later
As Naruto made his way to the Academy, he thought about the past three days. I'm amazed I was able to be so productive, after what happened with Anko-nee two days ago I'm amazed I was able to focus on training after that.
"Yes that was peculiar. Even more peculiar was that the Sandaime got involved and he seemed very grim for some reason," Kurama added.
I noticed that, but I was too relieved that Anko-nee was alright to give the matter much thought.
"What you did was a neat trick, but I don't see many practical applications for it," Kurama said.
We'll worry about what I can do with it later, right now I'm just grateful for it. With that, Naruto ended his conversation with Kurama and attempted to locate his team. He spotted Sasuke by the entrance.
"Think Sakura decided to enter?"
"Yes I did, someone needs to keep an eye on you two," Sakura said as she joined her team. I'm hoping to figure a few things out in these exams too, she thought.
"Now that we're all here let's go in.
As Team 7 made their way to the third floor, they came across a small crowd in front of what appeared to be the exam room. The three knew that this could not be as they had only gone up one flight of stairs. Kurama also noticed this and decided to ask the obvious question.
"Those kids do know this is only the second floor, right?" Kurama asked.
If they don't then they aren't ready for to be chunin are they?
"I suppose not, they'd lead their squads into a trap on their first mission," Kurama conceded.
An argument broke out in front of the room. Naruto would have ignored it except for the fact that he saw that some familiar faces were involved in the fight. Isn't that…Lee? And Neji-san? What's going on? Their team wouldn't fall for a genjutsu of this level. Naruto also took notice of who Lee and a kunoichi with her brown hair in buns, his teammate, Naruto guessed, were fighting with. Those two look familiar, but why are they here? Actually…
"Hey!" Naruto called to the two familiar looking boys.
"What do you want kid?" the boy with black hair asked.
"Do you ever wonder why we're here?" Naruto asked.
The brown haired boy answered, "It's one of life's great mysteries."
Gotcha! "Did you guys get demoted or something, what happened to guarding the gate?" Naruto asked.
"See, even he thinks it's a lame job," the boy with black hair said.
"Shut up, Kotetsu," the brown haired boy replied. Realizing his mistake he then said, "Ah fuck."
With that the genjustu was released and the disguised Kotetsu and Izumo fled.
"It was a good, well actually no, it was an embarrassingly pathetic effort to thin the chunin hopefuls. Oh well, let's go guys," Naruto said as he went on ahead.
"Not our boss, dobe," Sasuke said.
While passing through a large room on their way to their destination Team Seven heard a voice.
Turning, the team saw Rock Lee, not that Sasuke or Sakura knew who he was.
"Hey Lee-san, what was with that display earlier?" Naruto asked.
"Neji-kun thought it wise to scare off the weaker genin since they couldn't see through the genjutsu. I'm afraid I agree, if that was able to stop them then they had no business being here," Lee explained.
"I agree, I'm sorry to have ruined that," Naruto said.
"Quite the contrary, they left after you and your team came up here. They all seemed quite embarrassed."
"They should," Sasuke chimed in.
"Oh where are my manners? Guys, this is Rock Lee, he graduated a year before we did. Lee, these are my teammates-," Naruto said before Lee cut him off.
"Uchiha Sasuke and Haruno Sakura."
"I know that most people recognize Sasuke, but how do you know Sakura?" Naruto asked.
"Well, you see…" Lee trailed off as his face grew red.
Oh boy, he does not know what he is getting into, Naruto thought.
"Ugh, what are you some stalker?" Sakura asked while she shuddered.
"Simply an admirerer I assure you. Please be my girlfriend, I promise to protect you with my life," Lee declared.
"No way, no no no no no. Between stalking me and those weird eyebrows there is no way," Sakura said, panicing.
"You don't have to be so adamant about it," Lee said, obviously hurt. Quickly recovering, Lee then said, "The real reason I have come is to challenge Uchiha Sasuke, I wish to test my abilities."
"I suppose I could spare a few seconds," Sasuke said as he stepped forward.
Looking at the clock on the wall, Sakura turned to Sasuke and said, "We don't have time for this Sasuke, we'll be late."
"Don't worry. Like I said this will only take a few seconds," Sasuke declared smugly.
"I think Sasuke is right that this won't take long," Naruto said before turning to Lee and saying, "If things get out of hand, I will call the match."
"Of course, Naruto-kun," Lee said, as he readied his stance.
"Dobe, are you saying that I could lose?" Sasuke asked.
"No," Naruto said to Sasuke's satisfaction, before saying, "I'm saying you won't be able to touch Lee-san at your current level."
That declaration set Sasuke off and sent him charging at Lee, who quickly dodged and countered with kick. Sasuke managed to block but the impact was enough to knock Sasuke off balance. That was enough of an opening for Lee to follow with a barrage of high and low kicks, the taijutsu technique, Konoha Senpū, if what Lee shouted was indeed the technique's name.
Battered, but not yet beaten, Sasuke activated his Sharingan in an attempt to see what exactly Lee was doing. If Sasuke's eyes could keep up with Lee, it certainly did not help, Lee continued to control the flow of battle.
Sakura could not believe what she was seeing, this stranger was beating her Sasuke-kun like a training dummy and was hardly breaking a sweat. Noticing this, Naruto said, "I knew this would happen, as someone who has trained with Lee-san occasionally I know just how good he is."
"I did, I told him he couldn't win, but his pride made him accept Lee-san's challenge anyway. That's why I told Lee-san that I would call the match if things got out of hand."
"I haven't interfered because, and I know you don't want to hear this but, Lee-san is still holding back."
Sakura, not knowing what to do with this new knowledge, just turned back to the fight, worry present on her face.
Lee, deciding that the fight had gone on long enough, leaned back and delvered a swift kick to Sasuke's chin, launching him into the air. Lee soon flipped over and followed Sasuke, positioning himself under Sasuke in the air, his position and posture matching Sasuke, almost like a shadow.
"Kage Buyō," Sasuke said once he recognized the technique.
"That is correct. I am a shinobi who cannot use ninjutsu or genjutsu. I intend to prove to the world that hard work can allow one such as myself to surpass the natural talent of a genius," Lee declared as the bandages around his hands and arms unraveled.
"Okay that's enough," Naruto said as he summoned Interdiction. The ethereal blades extended and attached themselves to Lee and Sasuke. Naruto somehow make his blades more like ropes and whipped both Lee and Sasuke to opposite sides of the room. Sakura managed to catch Sasuke, using a speed that Naruto did not know that she had, while a newcomer caught Lee.
"Sorry for manhandling your student there, Gai-sensei," Naruto said to the newcomer. Said newcomer was a man who looked like an adult version of Lee in a Konoha flak jacket.
"You did what you had to do Naruto-kun. You warned Lee you would stop the match if things got out of hand," the now identified Gai-sensei said.
"How about you Sasuke, you get whiplash or something?" Naruto asked.
"Fuck off," Sasuke said as he got out of Sakura's grasp.
"Yeah, you're fine."
"I apologize for my youthful student's behavior, Lee sometimes gets over excited and can't help himself," Gai said, as he put Lee down. Once Lee was on his feet Gai cocked his fist back and landed a right hook to Lee's jaw before yelling, "Lee, you idiot."
This shocked Sasuke and Sakura, but not nearly as much as what was about to happen.
"Gai-sensei, I'm so sorry," Lee said, tearing up.
"It's alright now Lee, it's alright," Gai said, before he started to cry with his student.
"What the fu-?" Sasuke started.
"It's just how they are, don't think about it too much," Naruto said.
Gai soon dried his eyes and addressed Team Seven, "So, you three are Kakashi's students. How is my eternal rival?"
"Your eternal what?" Sakura asked.
"My rival. After 99 challenges I have 50 wins to his 49," Gai said as though it were as obvious as saying that the Sun rises in the east.
"He's fine," Naruto responded, having learned a while back that it was often easier to humor Gai.
"That's good to hear. I wish you all luck in the Chunin Exams. Farewell for now," Gai said as he left via shunshin.
"Sasuke-kun," Lee said.
"I said that I wish to test my abilities, and that much is true. However, you are not who I wish to test them against."
This caught Sasuke's interest, he gave Lee a look to continue.
"There are two individuals who I wish to test myself against. One is a genius like you and the other is a shinobi like me, out to prove himself," Lee said. Naruto thought he imagined it but he could have sworn that Lee looked at him when he said that last part.
"I see," Sasuke said.
"I do however hope to fight you again someday," Lee said before disappearing.
"Well Sasuke, I have to hand it to you, you didn't get beat nearly as bad as I thought you would," Naruto said.
"Shut it dobe, I didn't need you to stop the fight," Sasuke said, his wounded pride making itself known.
"Well Sasuke, either I stopped the fight or it would have stopped when Lee cracked your skull open," Naruto said, reminding Sasuke of just how badly Lee was beating him.
"Naruto, what are you trying to say!?" Sakura yelled.
"I'm saying he got fucked up and it was his own damn fault. If we go in thinking we're untouchable we won't make it very far in these exams. I know we won't get through these Exams without a fight. I also know that we may run into opponents that are so far above us that we won't be able to escape from them no matter what we do. That's not unique to the Chunin Exams, that's the way of life that we chose. We need to act like we are on a mission, or we may as well drop out. We need to decide: Are we arrogant brats or are we proud ninja of Konoha?"
Once Naruto finished he went on ahead to the examination room, knowing full well that he may have scared off at least one of his teammates and therefore ruined his chance at a promotion this time around. Much to his relief both Sasuke and Sakura followed him down the hallway to the examination room. To their surprise Kakashi was waiting there for them.
"I'm glad that you three are here, otherwise I could not have permitted you three to take the Chunin Exams," Kakashi told them.
"Sensei, I thought you said that we had to decide individually whether or not we would take the Exams," Sakura reminded him.
"Yes, I did. I didn't want any of you pressuring each other if one of you wasn't ready, but genin must take the Chunin Exams as part of a three man squad. If what Naruto said is any indication, he seems to understand the gravity of what you face quite well," Kakashi explained.
"It's a serious way of life, that doesn't change just because we're taking an Exam. I think that is important that we realize now that there is a time for us to act like serious shinobi and a time for us to enjoy being kids," Naruto said.
"Well said. If I had any doubts about the three of you entering the exams, I don't anymore. Good luck Team Seven," Kakashi said as he stepped aside to let his team enter the examination room.
As soon as Team Seven entered the examination room all eyes turned to them. There were too many genin teams to count and they were all glaring at the newcomers.
Really wish we had gotten here earlier, Naruto thought.
"I can't count how many genin are in this room. Someone could sneak in and no one would be able to notice," Kurama commented.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if the exam proctors were counting on that, Naruto responded. Before he could continue his inner conversation a loud voice shook him from his thoughts.
Sasuke had no time to dodge as Yamanaka Ino glomped onto him.
"I'm so happy to see you. Did you miss me? I missed you," Ino said.
One look at Sasuke's face said that he most certainly did not miss her.
"Dammit Ino, you're the one who said not to draw attention to ourselves," an annoyed, lazy sounding voice reminded the girl. The voice belonged to Nara Shikamaru, who, along with Akimichi Choji approached Team Seven.
Shikamaru was not the only one anooyed with Ino's actions, Sakura was pissed. "Get off of him, Ino-pig!"
"Forehead-girl, I didn't see you there," Ino responded, aggrevating Sakura even more.
Naruto, not wanting any part of this, attempted to step off to the side until this display was over. This attempt was ruined by the approach of Team Eight, or more specifically, Kiba.
"Well now, you were taking so long I was beginning to think that you weren't going to show up, Naruto," he said.
"We got a bit distracted," Naruto said simply. Looking at his girlfriend, Naruto noticed that she seemed a bit nervous. Naruto thought that odd until he remembered something, Of course she's nervous, Neji is here. Wanting to reassure her, he asked, "Hinata-chan, is everything okay?"
"I'm alright Naruto-kun. It's just that when the Exams start-," she began.
"When the Exams start, you will be just fine," Naruto finished for her with a smile. That seemed to work, Hinata seemed more certain of herself after that.
"Hey, you guys want to stop drawing attention to yourselves?" a new voice asked. The voice belonged to a genin who appeared to be slightly older than the rookies. This genin was a young man with silver hair in a ponytail with glasses. His hitai-ate was worn in the standard headband style and judging by the symbol on it he was a genin from Konoha.
"Who're you supposed to be?" Kiba asked.
"I'm Yakushi Kabuto, and I'm telling you all to keep it down for your own good. Just look around," the young man, Kabuto said. Naruto and the others did as he said and saw that just about every set of eyes in the room were now focused on them. The glares they were receiving promised nothing good.
"This is your first exam right? It would be wise of you to lay low."
I don't think that this guy has our best interests in mind, Naruto thought.
"He doesn't. You'll need to check his memories to learn the specifics but I can say for sure that this guy is attempting to deceive all of you," Kurama responded.
"Kabuto-san, is this not your first time participating in the Chunin Exams?" Sakura asked.
I think that was implied by what he said.
"No, it's actually my seventh," Kabuto said, embarrassed.
"I think that part might be true."
"Kabuto-san, not to be rude, but if this is your seventh attempt, I doubt anything you could tell us would be very helpful," Kiba said.
Even if I trusted this guy, I would agree with that statement.
"Kiba!" both Sakura and Ino yelled.
"It's fine, if a stranger approached me and made a claim like that I would probably say the same thing," Kabuto told them. Kabuto continued, "I haven't taken my failures lying down though. I have managed to gather information on the competition and what to expect from ninja from certain villages."
This should be good.
"Check these out, ninja info cards, my own invention," Kabuto said as he pulled out what looked like a deck of playing cards only blank. "I just add a bit of my chakra and it will show you all the info I've managed to gather. Here, I have a map of the Elemental Nations and how many chunin candidates they have sent," Kabuto explained as he channeled some chakra into the card he drew.
The genin looked as a map appeared on the card. Along with a map there appeared a number of graphs to illustrate how many ninja from each village were taking the Exams. "As you can see the number of candidates from the major villages is quite high and that the number of candidates from the smaller villages, for example Oto, a new village, is much lower," Kabuto explained.
"I should think that would be obvious," Kurama commented.
Do you think that there was a reason he singled out Oto? Naruot asked.
"I think it's time for you to find out," Kurama said.
Wait for it.
"My cards can show you much more than that. So, do any of you have questions about any of the other candidates?" Kabuto asked.
"Rock Lee from Konoha and Subaku no Gaara," Sasuke said.
Good ole' Sasuke, I had a feeling that he'd come through for us. Well time to go to work, Naruto thought as he walked over to Kabuto. "Let me get a closer loo-, whoa!" Naruto said as he "tripped." As he stumbled his target, Kabuto went to catch him. As Naruto flailed about his one hand partially phased through Kabuto and one hand found its way to the ninja info cards. The data you are trying to access has been corrupted, Naruto thought as he channeled some dark chakra into the cards, before he knocked them from Kabuto's grip.
"I'm so sorry Kabuto-san, I can be so clumsy sometimes. Your ninja info cards just sounded so fascinating I wanted a close look at the cards on individuals," Naruto "apologized" profusely as he gathered up the cards.
"What was it you were saying earlier about being serious Naruto?" Sakura asked.
"It's fine, no lasting harm has been done andhe did pick them all up. Falling on the floor isn't going to damage these cards I assure you," Kabuto said. What was that? Did Uzumaki Naruto do that? He was one of the few I couldn't get much information on, Kabuto thought.
"Orochimaru huh, this could be bad," Kurama said.
Yeah, and he's after Sasuke. If I could, I'd send a bunshin out to get this information to Kakashi-sensei or the Hokage but with all these eyes on us I doubt I could do it unnoticed.
"Well, while you wait for a distraction you may want to check this out," Kurama said.
"I don't understand. These are the right cards. A little bit of my chakra should reveal the information," Kabuto said, not quite sure what had happened. Aside from Hinata, the others just looked at Kabuto like one looks at a con man that has been found out. Hinata just looked at Naruto.
I know that Naruto-kun tripped on purpose. Did he erase the data on those cards too? I'm sure he had a good reason but I'll have to ask him later.
While Hinata was contemplating her boyfriend's actions, Naruto himself was preoccupied with something else. Those Oto genin should be coming over any minute to try and intimidate us and help Kabuto keep up his act. Just as Naruto finished that thought three blurs came charging at Kabuto. One of the blurs, a male genin with most of his face wrapped in bandages, took a swing at Kabuto. Kabuto managed to dodge the attack with ease, or at least that appeared to be the case until the lenses on his glasses cracked. Kabuto had a smug look on his face until he hunched over in pain and began coughing up blood. The Oto genin started to talk up his village but Naruto was not listening. There had been another victim of the Oto genin's mysterious ability.
"UUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHH! Make it stop!" Kurama screamed.
I can't I'm sorry Kurama, I can't block out the soundwaves. According to Kabuto's memories that one is Dosu. Before Naruto could continue with his thoughts a loud, booming voice called out.
"Alright you worthless maggots, listen up! I'm Morino Ibiki, the proctor for the first exam. If you want to fight like Academy students then get out," a large hulking man in a black trench coat said as he and four others appeared. He wore his hitai-ate like a bandana over his head. As if he was not intimidating enough already, he had a number of scars on his face. When no one left he continued, "Alright then, hand in your registration papers and you will each be given a number and a copy of the written exam. Once you have that take the seat that corresponds to your number and wait for further instructions."
Those who attended the Academy with Naruto would have expected him to be freaking out over the prospect of a written exam. The smirk on his face would have shocked them but if they could have heard his thoughts they would have been even more shocked. Morino Ibiki, Anko-nee has mentioned him. He may be able to break others but he won't break me.
Greetings again everyone. Sorry for the wait, between work and my lack of inspiration I had a great deal of trouble writing this chapter.
I know Naruto's personality is all over the place in this chapter, at least I thought it was and didn't even mean for that to happen. On the other hand, I don't see it as a problem either, in the canon many of the characters have a clumsy/comical side, a serious side, and a competitive side. I only hope I found the right balance for Naruto in this story that the characters have canonically. I hope to get the other chapter out sooner, I already have a basic idea for it.
Read and review. Go easy on the flames please, I really did try to make this chapter good.