Miku, Hinata and Sasuke are given another chance to capture the bells. Will they defy Kakashi's rule in order to pass?
Volume 1 The Girl with Two names
Chapter 7 Pass or Fail?
Sasuke watched Miku Yamanaka and Hinata Hyuga take tentative bites from the bento lunches they had been given. Clearly, something was wrong enough to rob them of their appetite and he could see them steal glances at him. Finally, Hinata slightly nodded her head as if something between the two girls had been decided. He looked down to see Miku's bento in his lap, it wasn't like he could pick it up himself with being tied up to a tree. It defiantly was a good thing those annoying squealing girls weren't there, they would have had a field day.
"well hurry up and eat it" Miku whispered with an annoyed look as she started eating from Hinata's bento. "Hinata and I can share a lunch, we've done it before. If you are worried about Kakashi he is probably quite a ways away. Hinata doesn't seem to have seen him anywhere nearby. we need you at full strength if we are going to get past this test, we are a team after all"
"Little hard to do while I'm still tied up." Sasuke looked glumly at the bento as his stomach rumbled.
"Just don't tell anyone I did this... okay?" Miku picked up the bento and began feeding Sasuke. "I don't think I can replicate Kakashi-sensei's knots enough to untie you so this will have to do."
From his hiding spot Kakashi smiled inwardly. It was very similar to when he had become a genin. At the time Minato Namekaze was the Junin in charge of himself, Ubito Uchiha and Rin Nohara. It was the same exercise. The genin had two bells to retrieve from the more experienced ninja, something well beyond what a normal genin could have accomplished on their own. Kakashi had figured it out after an attempt or two, the only way for them to get any of the bells was to work together. Kakashi had been surprised at how easy it had been to convince Rin of his plan, Ubito was a bit of a challenge but the older genin relented. Even so, they still had a difficult task ahead of them with Minato's ability to teleport across the field. Still, Kakashi had managed to find one of the Minato's special Kunai that he used to teleport hidden well in the leaves of a tree not that far from the memorial. It was there that Kakashi hid one of his clones while the three genin pressed Minato as hard as they could.
When the time came for Minato to teleport out of one of their traps it happened. The Clone dropped it’s transformation making it look like a branch and grabbed at the bells. Even with this plan the clone had only managed to grab one bell and moments later the alarm had sounded, it was noon. Kakashi apologized offering the bell he had captured to his teammates. He was willing if need be to remain a genin another year, sometimes sacrifice was required. Even Rin had rejected it unwilling to go ahead while Kakashi remained behind. Although they had only been working together a very short time Obito rejected it as well, a teammate doesn't leave a comrade behind.
The gloom of the genin team increased until Minato had told them, they had all passed. The confused genin didn't believe him at first, what was the point in getting the bells if they had all passed by just grabbing one? It was then Minato explained the exam to them. The bells weren't important, what was important was teamwork. There were only two bells which meant that logically one of them would remain at the academy, but would one of them make the hard choice and sacrifice themselves for their teammates? The whole point of the test was to drive a wedge between them to see if even in diversity they would have the glue to remain together. Although they did not start off working as a team the difficulty of the exam had created a bond between them.
Kakashi placed his hand on the place in the tree where Minato's Kunai had been hidden. The scar there had healed but Kakashi knew the exact place as if it had been the day of his own exam. He wished they had been alive to see this, Rin and Obito were lost long ago. He thought Minato would have been proud at how Miku had turned out. For Sasuke, he wondered at what Obito would have thought. The two were as different as night is to day. In truth, if he thought about it if he compared the two teams Sasuke was far closer to himself at a younger age, having lost his own father very recently when he became a genin. Miku, however, was far more cheerful and closer in nature to Obito. While Hinata didn't have the medical aptitude that Rin possessed her chakra control was on par if not stronger and it was clear she was the level head of this group. At least this time maybe internal romances wouldn't complicate things. Well, it was put an end to the exercise.
Miku was part of the way through feeding the bento to Sasuke when something exploded on the ground only a few feet from them, clouds of dust and smoke rose as Hinata and Miku shifted to face whatever would appear. Miku came up in front of Sasuke ready to block whatever was thrown and wishing she had taken the time to cut his bonds. She could see Hinata moving to her left and bringing her Kunai up cutting the ropes without looking keeping her eye on the cloud. "Kakashi..." she spoke as their teacher dashed out of the smoke looming over them.
"You... pass!" Kakashi stopped just in front of them. They couldn't see his face under his mask, but was he smiling?
Sasuke now free from the post came to his feet next to Miku. He hadn't expected Miku to shield him like that, part of him thought that she should have taken cover. He regretted pushing her backward now even after that she was willing to protect him. “But.. how what about the test?”
“That was the test, to see if you would come together as a team regardless of the consequences. You three accomplished quite a bit with that, another step in your journey if you will. You already started a good way down that road, rather Hinata and Miku did but I suspect that is because you two have worked together as a team ever since you were very little. I remember when I was in your position having to convince my teammates to go against what they had heard and to work together to collect a bell and even then we only managed to capture one bell. That was enough for Namekaze Minato however. We accomplished the test by becoming a team.”
All three blinked in surprise. Kakashi-sensei’s team leader was the 4th Hokage? Of the three only Hinata and Miku knew the truth, Kakashi-sensei’s team leader was also Miku’s birth father. Was that why Miku had been chosen to be part of this team? If so the two girls weren’t certain why Hinata or Sasuke was chosen for the team. Hinata who knew more of the village history thought back and recalled that Kakashi had been friends with Obito Uchiha who had died during the third shinobi war, was he the reason? Regardless of suggestions that it was scoring that lead to people being put on teams, the two girls knew that it was history that was more important. That was why Ino was certain that she would be on a team with Shikamaru and Choji, their parents had also formed a Ino-Shika-Cho team before and their parents before them.
“All ninja… need to know how to read not just what is said but the underlying message. We operate under very strict rules and laws. It is true that does people who disobey the law, or the rules are scum, but the person who would abandon their ally, their teammate… they are worse than scum. The road that you are traveling on will only get more difficult. You’ll be faced with tough decisions where the answers will not easily come to you and there may be times where you can see no way out of your situation. You’ll have your teammates often but they aren’t the only ones, the other shinobi are also your family now.”
The three genin continued with their lunches and then assisted Kakashi in cleaning the memorial to all the ninja from Konhagakure who had passed away in their duty to their village. The only section that Kakashi would not allow them to clean was the sections where Obito Uchiha and Rin Nohara’s names were listed, he cleaned those areas themselves taking deliberate care and taking his time.
Some distance away an individual watched them from his hiding place, he had used his chakra to disguise himself and he was now getting close to exhausting himself but what he had observed was quite useful. He reached up without thinking to adjust his glasses as he turned his attention to four blank playing cards at his feet. He reached down using carefully crafted chakra to inscribe information on the cards. Three new genin and one of those genin, Sasuke, was of great interest to lord Orochimaru. Strange to note however was that he didn’t have the largest amount of Chakra, the Yamanaka girl Miku outpaced him in that area by a long shot. He’d estimated she almost had three times the chakra the Uchiha boy had, but couldn’t figure out why. With the information inscribed he made his way quickly back to the hospital, it was a slow day but certainly, someone might notice his absence.
In another training area of the village, another training exercise raged on. Choji moved with all the speed he could manage expanding as he moved to cushion the impact. Asuma Sarutobi their new team leader was already moving from tossing Ino off him breathing in deeply and then releasing thick clouds of smoke at the two. The training exercise seemed to continue to have gone from bad to worse as Asuma had avoided their earlier attempts and even now Shikamaru lay unconscious a few feet behind Choji. He looked down at the limp Ino in his arms raising his head in just in time to see Asuma’s fist just inches from his face a blank look on his face.
“Good job Ino” The Ino in Choji’s arms spoke as she stood up appraising Asuma. Ino made a few hand signs and the illusion was dropped, Choji had caught Shikamaru. There was a poof of smoke behind him as the clone Shikamaru had substituted for himself earlier in the exercise was released. “Not so different than Shogi when you get down to it.”
Asuma pulled back his hand and grinned. “Your plan worked Shikamaru.” He reached down and pulled the two bells from his belt tossing them to the normally lazy genin. “I’ll release now. I don’t think Asuma-Sensi would like me staying in his body any longer than needed." A moment later Asuma shifted slightly and a different awareness returned to his eyes.
“Well played Shikamaru. I knew you had it in you. Well, you passed the test but then again among the groups your teamwork already was top notch. You might not have the Chakra that other groups possess but that will develop over time.“ Asuma smiled at Ino as she joined the group from her hiding spot after having recovered from using her mind transferring jutsu on Asuma.
The plan once Shikamaru had worked it out was fairly simple. Keep Asuma off balance with several amateurish attempts each one good enough for a genin to come up with and likely to come up with but not quite good enough to get the bells, all of which lead to this attempt. Along the way, Shikamaru transformed into Ino leaving behind a doppelganger to play dead while he behaved as Ino would after she lost her temper. Shikamaru was surprised that Asuma had fallen for it but perhaps that too was part of the test, to see what he would come up with. While Shikamaru had taken Ino’s place she had hidden not that far away in the hollow of a tree taking careful aim at the area just in front of Choji waiting for the right moment to release her jutsu and take control of Asuma’s body.
The three members of team Asuma all had their secret jutsu. The Akamichi clan had perfected ways to expand portions of their body to gain great strength and durability as well as maneuverability when required. The Naru clan had perfected ways to manipulate shadows themselves in order to control their opponents as well as trap them when required. Finally, the Yamanaka clan had perfected ways to transfer their minds into specific targets in order to control them. Both Yamanaka and Naru clans could control people but each way varied in use. With the shadow techniques, the target duplicated the action of ninja who controlled them. This was a useful technique in some areas since it restricted the movement of the enemy but the mimicking aspects made attacking that same said opponent far trickier. The same could be said for the Yamanaka method since whatever damage the captured opponent took, they would take equal damage.
“Well, it was pretty obvious this exercise was about teamwork. We’ve already had that training and our families had worked together for so long now that it wasn’t a surprise what would come up. When you only brought two bells that told me the test was a formula devised I would guess by the second Hokage, he did create the academy after all. The only bit of information that was important was we needed to work together to get the bells, any team that didn’t work together obviously failed. History worked against the test here and now. Genin who cannot work as a team are obviously not valuable for important work where teamwork is a must.” Shikamaru noticed a slightly worried look on Ino’s face. “Hinata probably figured it out as well”
“It’s not Hinata… or even Miku that I’m worried about….”
“It’s Sasuke isn’t it?” Choji interrupted Ino shocking her a bit “Sasuke doesn’t really work well with anyone. Well… not like he used to.” Choji could remember a happier Sasuke before the Uchiha clan massacre.
Asuma light pulled a cigarette from his pouch lighting it as he listened to the genin talk. “He’ll work with those two. He wants and needs the training far too much to risk losing it. Once Hinata points out the test to him I’m sure he’ll go along.”
“Not lead?” Ino looked at Asuma-Sensei nervously.
“Lead? No. Hinata would be a good leader for the team but not Sasuke or even Miku for that matter. Miku cares about people and she can inspire them, certainly qualities in a leader but she isn’t ready for that role yet. Hinata has the mind a leader should have and with your help, she has created an iron will needed by leaders. Plus remember she has her father’s training since she will be head of the Hyuga clan in the future. Now Sasuke, he is a problem. He has the intelligence to be a leader, but his focus Is skewed. He has one thing and one thing only on his mind, everything else is meaningless to him. A leader cannot allow himself to have such a narrow focus, or rather a good leader cannot allow that. I suspect that Sasuke will allow Hinata to lead them so long as he gets to where he wants to go.” He could see the confusion and turmoil on Ino’s face. He knew she wanted to defend Sasuke, but something was holding her back. “Well now that we’ve completed the training how about I treat you three to lunch…”
“Yukuniku Q?” Choji spoke up before Asuma could even suggest a place.
“Choji where are you manners what if Asuma-sensei had a place he wanted to go” Ino tried and failed to look stern as Choji just gave a nervous laugh. If she was going to be team leader she had to at least attempt to keep the two boys in line. Shikamaru was at his best when planning a given strategy but basic management just seemed beyond him. Most of the time he seemed willing to go along with just about anything so long as It didn’t tax him terribly much, which exacerbated Ino to no end, didn’t he have some drive in him? She couldn’t complain too terribly much. Despite his carefree and rather lazy nature, she was certain that if she or Miku were in danger then Shikamaru would save them. So they compromised, Ino had the leadership of the team until the actual battle where Shikamaru would take over and keep them alive. It wasn’t as if they had any life-threatening missions of that nature but it would be good to work out who was in charge when at this point. Of course despite Shikamaru leading the genin they all knew the real leader was Asuma.
“No that isn’t a problem” Asuma smiled at them. He was about to add more when Ino shouted great I’ll meet you there and began running off in the wrong direction. “Where are you going Yukuniku Q is this way.”
"Show up there all sticky and sweaty? Gross.” She kept running leaving the boys behind. She missed seeing Choji sniffed at his armpit then giving a bewildered look towards Asuma-Sensei.
Sakura patted a sleeping Akamaru who rested on her lap while she watched Kiba and Shino spar some distance away. The test which at the time seemed rather brutal was behind them now and while she was rather sad that she wasn’t on Sasuke’s team she was happy with the team she was on. She hadn’t realized how cool Shino was until he managed with their help to get one of Kurenai’s bells. At the academy, she had always thought he was strange and quiet but she quickly changed her opinion of him. He was certainly more qualified to lead them than Kiba was, although secretly she would be fine if it was just Shino, Akamaru and herself on the team, she did have to admit he was very fast on his feet and there was little one could do to hide from his tracking abilities.
The hard part she thought would be Kurenai Yuhi. Kurenai-Sensei wouldn’t put up with her claiming she was on a diet and even scolded her for it.“ If you want to impress Sasuke like I keep hearing you had better make yourself stronger, I don’t get the idea he’ll be very impressed if he feels like you are holding him back. You certainly will if you don’t develop your own chakra network far more than it is, that diet you want to be on won’t allow it to grow. I won’t stand for you holding back the team because you are worried about your figure.” Sakura felt embarrassed at being put in her place, but she had to concede that Kurenai-sensei was right. Her Chakra control was excellent, but the amount of Chakra she could use was rather on the small side. She could and would work out more since she had a tough road ahead of her. She was a bit waspish towards Shino earlier today when all he was trying to do was help her. He even saved her from hurting herself although it was freaky as all get out to have those bugs.
“Sakura over here” Kurenai waved her over. “We’ll work a bit on your genjutsu and chakra control techniques a bit and that will be it for today. Tomorrow we begin taking missions.”
Sakura set Akamaru on the ground near her and made her way over to where Kurenai sensei waited. She would work as hard as she could and would defiantly not lose to Ino, even if she had been a friend. For a brief moment, she regretted the loss of that friendship, was it worth it? Why the conflicting emotions now when she needed to focus on the task ahead of her. She was certain that Sasuke wouldn’t put up with a whiny kunoichi, so she put the feelings aside for now, now was the time to train, not daydream.
Iruka Umino delivered the news to the Hokage, only three teams had passed. The others would return to a degree to the academy to see what they would learn from the lesson. If they proved unwilling or able to work as a team the next time they were tested within a month, then they would wash out of the program. The village needed genin who could work as a team and not go off like lone wolves without a thought in their head other than what they wanted. They had just completed this task when Matio Gai, also known by some as Might Guy arrived delivering an important mission report that couldn’t wait.
“Oh while you are here Gai, it might interest you to know that Kakashi has finally passed a team.” The Hokage smiled as he watched Gai’s reaction. The two while rivals were very close friends. Gai would certainly see it as a challenge; he had held back his own team from participating in the chunin exams to give them another year to prepare. Hiruzen was certain that this would push them even harder to complete the exams this time. The chunin exam this year could prove rather interesting, so many of the upcoming genin were developing their own will of fire.