“Koji, how's your arm?” Kankuro says entering the training hall of the hospital. Koji's arm is bandaged up from the shoulder down. From the incident a few days ago.
“It's doing fine sensei, I have full mobility again and the rest of my body has gotten better too.”
“Can you remember anything else about that night?”
“Nothing more then I told you sensei. I was poisoned and then and I began to daze, the next thing I knew I saw the shinobi fall and I passed out a moment after. It wasn't anything I did, he saw through both my genjutsu, I had nothing else up my sleeve.” Koji explains again.
“Very well, listen, I want you to keep this from Koichi and Ryoko. The situation is—”
“I know, I understand.” Koji says in a somewhat ashamed manor. Kankuro puts his hand on Koji's shoulder and leaves the training area. Koji watches as his sensei passes through the two doors and then he turns around and heads into one of the rooms in the training unit. He enters through the doors that say MEDICAL PRACTITIONER.
As Kankuro exits the hospital a brown hawk circles over him and lets out its cry. Kankuro gazes up at the bird, his hand in front of his face blocking the blinding light of the sun. “Is it that time already?” Kankuro inquires to himself as he continues to stare up at the bird. Kankuro makes his way over to the academy.
The Suna Academy is empty as the day classes have ended. Kankuro walks down the long narrow hallway of the academy, leading into the mission assignment desk of the academy. As Kankuro enters the room at the end of the hall, he sees several other jounin standing in the room and he notices Gaara sitting at the desk in the back of the room along with Baki and Matsuri by his side.
“Looks like I'm the last one to the party.” Kankuro says scratching his head.
“Everybody at attention!” Matsuri exclaims getting the attention of everybody in the room. “Now that everybody is here we can get started.” She holds a clipboard and slides back to Gaara's side as he sits with the records of every genin from Suna in front of him.
“The Registration for the Chuunin Exams is in a week's time. I made sure to put hold on missions for the genin squads for a while so that you could have more time to prepare and assess your students' abilities. As the exams are being held in Konoha, we need to be sure that everybody is certain within the next couple of days in order for teams to prepare for departure.” Gaara announces. “There are roughly 40 organized genin teams at this point in time. We'll discuss them first and then move onto the solo genin units.” Gaara stares down at the first three team records and brings his head up. “We'll start with the teams from the most recent graduation period.”
As Gaara calls for them, Kankuro and Takashi make their way to the desk along with another shinobi. Gaara looks at Kankuro first and without looking, closes the folder of his team. “Kankuro, do you think your students are ready?”
“Yes I think they're ready. All three of them have displayed excellent skills as a team and individually that far exceed their current ranks as a genin. I think they'll be able to handle the stress of these exams.” Kankuro says proudly.
Whispers echo throughout the room as Kankuro recommends all three of his students, however they're all in little regard to Koji and Ryoko.
“Very well, you should start preparing them.”
“Gaara, don't you think it's a little early to be letting Koichi leave the village.” Baki says, his voice deep and raspy in his old age. “He's rampaged once already and he could loose control of the Shukaku again—”
“That wasn't his fault, the seal was loosened by the Jomae. Koichi's control hasn't faulted since that incident.” Kankuro says defensively. “Koichi is strong, and his Shichiyo bloodline helps keep the Shukaku at bay.”
“He hasn't gone through the synchronization process yet, he's still vulnerable to the Shukaku's will until then.” Baki spouts back irritated.
“Baki-sama is right Kankuro, also the fact remains that whatever method those shinobi used to weaken the seal is still unknown and nobody in the sealing division could restore the seal back to it's former strength. It's still significantly weaker.” Takashi adds in. “I was working alongside the division for days trying to decipher what method used but it's nothing I've even seen before.”
Gaara clinches his fist as an ominous chill runs through is body. Matsuri seems to be the only person to notice, however.
“Gaara.” She says softly, placing her hand on his shoulder. Everybody turns their attention to the Kazekage.
“I've trained with Koichi for several months and have kept a close eye on him personally. The only thing that surpasses the strength of his chakra is his will. Koichi's chakra acts as a natural suppressant to the Bijuu's powers, it's not as much but vastly more potent then that of an Uzumaki's chakra. That's to be said of all members of his clan. On top of that Koichi's chakra reserves aren't far from the capacity of what you could expect from an Uzumaki. His capacity is large, his chakra is potent and with the right amount of focus he can maintain control for quite a time even if the seal is completely broken. Understanding the situation myself, I trained him moderately on how to control the Shukaku's powers so that he could at least familiarize himself with understanding the power inside of him even more.” Gaara stares past Kankuro to the other jounin. He sees and remembers many faces from his own youth. The room is filled with shinobi Gaara once grew up with, people who once looked upon him with eyes of scrutiny and hatred. He understands the situation and understands his participation in the chuunin exams several years back merely as a military weapon.
“I give this information all to you for technicalities if you doubt the innate raw power Koichi possesses in managing this Bijuu, that and the seal's still relatively strong bind as reinforcement, but more importantly; Koichi has a special power that lets him push beyond his limits and keep fighting when he's been virtually leveled of all energy. It's a trait he has naturally and something I learned to develop thanks to a friend of mine who possesses the very same power. It's the undying will to fight for the people you love. From spending so much time with this boy I've come to realize that he loves nothing more then this village, even after he's been through the rings of hate and fear it causes him.” The room goes silent and looks of minor guilt fill the faces of some of the shinobi in the room as they look upon Gaara. “What I'm saying in a nutshell here is, I can vouch for Koichi.”
Neither Baki nor Takashi say anything else on the subject and the room goes quite for a moment. Gaara opens the next folder on his desk and looks down at the information of the shinobi. “Next is your squad Takashi. Squad 2 consisting of Temari Nara, Pakura, and Jo Shirogane.”
“I'm honestly going to say yes to all three of them as well. Temari has come far in her Fuuton training as well as the Nara clan techniques. She's a well suited leader for the team in my absence. Pakura and Jo both have more then sufficient knowledge in their clan's techniques which I believe certifies them for a chance to take the exams.”
“Very well, and as for Squad 3, Masaomi Iga, Koga, and Shizuko. Tenra, you're acting as substitute in Maiyuri's absence.” Gaara says.
“Yes Gaara-sama. Although I've only been with them a little over a month, I have seen the three of them work spectacularly as a team. The three of them have a great bond with each other and Maiyuri. I have no worries about Masaomi or Koga, but Shizuko on the other hand; her skills individually are lacking. She works well with the others but it seems as if the amount she contributes to the team's pace isn't much other then minor reinforcement. Having talked to Maiyuri about this before her accident I know she's showed a great deal in confidence in her, saying she'd rise to the challenge, but I'm not entirely sure she's ready for this level of test.”
“I see.” Gaara slides Shizuko's personal records out of the team's file and places it to the right side of his desk and Matsuri makes an 'x' next to Shizuko's name. “When we finish here, I'll assign one of the solo genin to their squad to act as her replacement. I'll speak with you again to determine which shinobi will best compliment their abilities and skill sets.” The jounin Tenra bows and and the three jounin make their way back into the crowd. “Alright, we'll go onto the teams graduating from the exams in the past two years.”
The meeting continues for another two hours as jounin after jounin give their evaluations of their students, recommending them or turning them down for the exams. At the end of the meeting, out of the 40 jounin present, only 7 of them recommended their full teams for the exams, while 11 more recommended either one or two of the members on their squads The rest of the jounin kept their teams out of the exams for the time being.
“It seems we have a lot of candidates this time around for the exams.” Matsuri says to Gaara, as she flips through the files.
“Things have surly changed a lot. Many of these jounin pride their abilities as shinobi on students preforming well on these exams, hoping to see their students excel and bring praise to them as teachers.” Baki says.
“That's not fair Baki-sama, why do you have such a negative outlook? Maybe they actually believe that their students have a chance. Besides, the Chuunin Exam's failure rates are always sky high, those who have chuunin level ability don't always get the stripe sometimes just because of bad luck.” Matsuri says in defense.
“Even if they believe so for whatever the reason, it still doesn't change the fact that the jounin still feel that way. I will admit that our passing rate in these exams has increased in the past couple of exams, however we still remain below the line of the other Great Nations.”
Baki walks himself with his cane out of the room as he says so.
“*sigh* he's always been so pessimistic don't you think Gaara?” Matsuri says turning to her husband. Gaara stares down at a folder in front of him, completely ignoring Matsuri. “Gaara-kun, is there something wrong?” She looks down and sees the folder with specs from the sealing method used to loosen the seal on Koichi's stomach. Matsuri's eyes look upon Gaara with worry and sadness. Without saying another word, realizing the tension in Gaara, she leaves the room. Gaara remains at his desk still pondering the unknown, still feeling the chill up his spine.
~In the Suna Training Fields~
Kankuro stands under the shade of a single tall tree in the middle of blazing heat just as his students arrive onto the scene. Ryoko and Koichi approach the area coming from the same direction as Koji comes from another. The three genin stand at attention in front of their sensei as he emerges from the shade partially.
“It's been a little while since we've all been together hasn't it.” Kankuro says in a moderate tone looking up at the sun. “Little over a week I think. How did you all enjoy your little vacation.”
“Quite the small talk sensei, why did you call us here, your message sounded urgent.” Koichi says impatiently.
“Watch how you talk to me you little brat.” Kankuro says as a small vein pops in his forehead.
“But you did call us here for something important right sensei?” Ryoko asks.
“Yeah I did. I haven't been around you three much for a while. It's been almost seven months since the four of us met. I remember saying that I wasn't going to be that ordinary sensei to you guys. At first I didn't really care, the three of you being the top graduates of your class in all I thought you'd be able to coup pretty well with it. Turns out I was right, you three have come a long way in these short months and I mean that.”
“What are you trying to say sensei?” Koichi asks confused.
“You three have excellent teamwork work with each other, great skills individually which would make you great on solo missions, and you have independence and intelligence enough as individuals to lead your own teams. All traits chuunin shinobi have.”
“Chuunin?!” Koichi exclaims with excitement. “Are you saying we're going to take—”
“That's right, the chuunin exams are in a weeks time from now, I recommended the three of you. Even though you're still the freshmen of the genin class, you all have the potential to pass. That being said, you have four days to prepare yourselves before we leave for Konoha.”
“Hell yeah!” Koichi shouts in excitement.
“Don't take this lightly though, these exams are gruesome and are more difficult then you think. You'll need to apply everything you know plus more. You'll need to adapt to the tests, they're designed for you to fail. You three will need to learn to adjust to the situation and more importantly, you'll need to work together.”
Kankuro looks upon the faces of all his students, all of whom bare different expressions on their face. Koichi displays ecstatic joy, while Koji remains in his neutral indifferent demeanor. Ryoko's expression however displays lingering worry. Her stern face looks down with intensity at the ground as she worries about the exams.
*This is it...failure is not an option!* Ryoko determines, maintaining her stern yet worried look.
Footsteps echo throughout a pitch black hallway. Not even a glimmer of light shines in the hall. The footsteps are in a single pair of one person. Although nothing the aura of darkness is all to potent within the air around the figure walking down the hall. The person makes it to the end of the hall to a black door. As he enters the room on the other side of the door, the room is just as black as the hallway, however light shines throughout it vaguely. As the figure makes his way deeper into the large room past several empty shelves his person is revealed. Shinji makes his way to the back of the room where he sees Kabuto in front of a desk with several large jars with obscure items floating around in liquid of various colors.
“Kabuto-sama, the Chuunin Exams are almost here.” Shinji says in a moderate tone.
“Already? Oh how time flies.” Kabuto says with cynical joy in his voice.
“Should we prepare for the assignment?”
“No, I think I'll let Sasuke-kun take this mission on instead. He needs the fresh air. I have another assignment I want you to take care of.”
“I'll go get the others then and prepare them for our new assignment.”
“Actually this assignment is just for you Shinji. You're the only complete one out of the five of you, I don't have to worry about you messing up.”
“Yes...Kabuto-sama.” Shinji smile loyally to his master as he bows.
The Chuunin Exams are about to commence as well as ominous diabolical actions which remain unknown. However, the mere fact that Kabuto resides as mastermind of the plot assures that it means hell for the entire shinobi world.
This one is followed directly by chapter 30. As I'm on vacation, I'm preoccuping my time by writing Fanfiction. Think of this double release as, my FF rampage. You get two issues today, one on friday, saturday and sunday. So a total of 5 chapters this cycle...well 4 if you want to count sunday as the next cycle...which is what I do, so yeah 4. It would've been 5 had I released one on Sunday of this week but I don't believe I did. Anyway to keep this short, this is introducing an entirely new Arc in the series, and it's pretty self explanitory. So I hope you all enjoy. I remember the Chuunin exams being my favorite arc in the origional Naruto Anime. Give me some feed back on what you think of the chapter. To those of you who read/comment/rep this post I thank you. Chapter 30 will be out within the hour. Enjoy