Imagine paradise, now think of the furthest thing from it, and I'm in the place furthest from that.
Off with your Head!
Naruto: Shichiyo Gaiden XXXIII
Chapter 33: Exam Line up: The Preliminary Teams
Every shinobi from the field leaves in pursuit of their teammates. However Koichi is the only shinobi to remain on the field of the members that must look for his teammates. Koichi trembles with anxiety as he shoots around his mind about what to do.
*Damn it, what am I going to do?* He stands frozen trying to think of a plan to go after his teammates without any leads.
“Looks like that kid is a sitting duck. I feel bad for his team, they're going to fail because of him.” One of Lee's teammates says.
“I wouldn't be so sure actually. He's in an extreme panic but I think his team will pass.” Lee says with a smile on his face.
Koichi eventually leaps up onto the top of the academy building and heads out. *I don't know where I'm going, I don't know how I'm going to find them, I don't know if they're hidden or heading for the boarder!* Koichi gets to the top of a tall building and on top of a water tower, looking over the village. *I have to calm down* He scours over the village as he does and he can find no traces of any of the shinobi proctors. *I can't even find one of the shinobi, what am I going to do?*
~Outskirts of Konoha~
Koji and Ryoko are tied up by the hands and feet with wire. Two shinobi carry them as they make their way towards the shores of the Land of Fire.
“Damn it, there's no way Koichi is going to find these guys.” Ryoko says to Koji. “They've wiped their tracks clean.”
“That entire time we were in the academy room, they were scouting out our abilities. Those two women, they had the same eyes as the other Hyuuga genin. They saw our abilities and made sure to take the people in each of the groups that had the best chances of tracking down their teammates.” Koji deduces. “Koichi has never had a good sense of direction, tracking us down is going to be extremely difficult for him.”
“Sensei said we had to do this as a team but in this case Koichi's all on his own. I don't get it.” Ryoko says.
“We'll break here to set up a check point trap for him.” One of the proctors says. “We took the longer route, we're not officially out of country bounds until we reach the whirlpools at the sea a few kilometers out.” They say to the Koji and Ryoko.
“Why tell us this?” Ryoko asks.
“Because it won't make a difference, just like your friend over there said, your buddy has no sense of direction, if he does even manage to figure out we're one of the boarder teams, he won't figure out which way to go. If he makes it this far he's lucky.” The proctor says.
Ryoko grits her teeth angrily and with much anxiety. “It can't end like this...I have to pass these exams, but there's nothing I can do.” Ryoko mumbles to herself.
“If you guys had better teamwork then you could have avoided us all together like the other teams.”
Koji's eyes flare up for a brief moment and then he returns to his normal expression. As the shinobi goes to place Koji down, Koji spits out a needle from his mouth down towards the shinobi's foot. The shinobi stumbles back, loosing his grip on Koji and dropping him. As Koji falls he turns his head towards Ryoko, and spits out another needle towards her hands.
An inch from where the needle would hit Ryoko's wire restraints one of the proctors appears, catching the needle between his two fingers. “Nice try kid but it's not going to work.” Koji makes impact with the ground and he grits his teeth aggravated that his attempt to free Ryoko was halted.
The proctor who dropped Koji picks him back up and places him and Ryoko against a tree, tying them up with ropes as they make the traps. Koji hangs his head down as the shinobi make the trap. Koji shifts his eyes to the right looking towards Ryoko. “Did it work?” Koji whispers?
“Just barely.” Ryoko's hands are looser as part of the wire around her wrists were cut. “They're still to thick for me to use the escape jutsu though.”
“Can you form seals?” Koji asks
“Yeah, maybe a few, but what are you—” Ryoko feels a few drips of thick liquid trickle down her wrist. “I get it now, do you think Koichi will make it far enough before then though?”
“Yes he will.”
~Back in Konoha~
Koichi sits atop the water tower holding his head shaking it back and forth. “I can deal with battle tactics but I can't figure out how to track somebody down to save my life. Damn it!” Koichi says to himself. “I can't use Gaara-sama's sensory sand technique yet either I can only form it around me. I...I can't do this alone.” He punches down hard into the water tower denting it with his fist. His knuckles bleed slightly and he looks down at them with a solemn face.
Note: When Koichi and Koji were in the academy
Koichi darts out towards one of the other students. Koichi launches a punch to the side of the kid's face. The kid moves out of the strike but with amazing reflexes the young Koichi knees the kid in the ribs, knocking the wind out of him. Koichi then lays a volley of punches into the kid, hitting him in the left side of his ribs and his face twice. Koichi then kicks the kid back.
The kid lays on the ground struggling to get up but he can't. “Come on sensei pair me up with somebody who can actually keep up.” Koichi says.
“I'd put you with Koji again but that wouldn't be anything new. I'll be your opponent.” the instructor smiles, getting on his guard. Koichi smiles as well and he darts out towards his sensei loading up a punch. The shinobi merely side steps pushing Koichi on the back slightly as he does so. The frantic Koichi continues on, unable to stop as his fist head towards a wall. Just before it hits the wall, Koji grabs onto Koichi's arm and wrist, holding him back. Koichi lets out a sigh of relief and droops his head down. “Might want to be a little more careful Koichi, if Koji wasn't with you you would've broken your hand.”
“Well I don't have to worry about that because my little brother is always going to be here with me.” Koichi grins.
“*sigh* You're right about that but I don't want to be saving your butt all the time.” Koji says.
“Hey, I'm still number one here.” Koichi shoots back.
“He's always going to be here with me.” Koichi mumbles to himself. Koichi clinches his fist and gets a look of fierce determination on his face. “Looks like it's my turn.” Koichi says. He leaps off the water tower and begins heading back to the academy to begin his search again from scratch. He stops on the roof of another building randomly. He turns towards the south of the village looking in that direction just as the wind blows through his hair. With no incentive at all he begins heading towards that direction.
~Several Minutes Pass~
Koji and Ryoko make it close to the horizon of the shores of the Land of Fire with their captors. They travel uphill on a cliff. “We'll set the last trap here and then we'll continue on straight through to the whirlpools.” The head proctor says.
Koichi and Ryoko are set down again and are tied up to another tree as the three proctors set up the trap. “Do you really think this kid is even going to make it this far? I mean he hasn't even made it to the first trap yet.” Another proctor says.
“Regardless these are our orders for this exam so we have to set up these traps as these intervals.” The head proctor says. “Now if everything's set we can get going.” The other two proctors head over and pick up Koji and Ryoko and they continue on their way. As Ryoko is slung over the shoulder of one of the proctors, she looks back at the location she was just in and there is a small whole leading underground.
The shinobi travel again for several minutes and they finally make it to the top cliff, overlooking the beaches. “Here we are.” The proctor says. “Sorry but it doesn't look like your friend is coming.” They drop to the beach and head to the boats and load Koji and Ryoko into them. Just then one of the proctors hears the whistle of blades in the air faintly.
“Look out!” The three proctors leap backwards as four kunai land near them. The kunai have explosives on them and they explode as they hit the sand, causing a large amount of sand to rise up.
“Hope I'm not late.” Koichi says leaning against a rock on the other side of the beach.
“How did he? We should have at least noticed one of the traps going off?” The head proctor says with moderate surprise.
“As if I'd get caught by one of those pathetic traps.” Koichi says smugly.
“It doesn't matter you still have to get through us to get your friends. Finding us was only half the battle.” Two of the proctors step out in front and get in their stances to fight Koichi while the other one pushes the boat in the water and continues to take Ryoko and Koji out of the Land of Fire.
“You picked the worst place to fight me.” Koichi says. Suddenly several chains erupt from underground and restrict one of the shinobi proctors.
“What the hell?” As the other proctor jumps back away from his partner, the sand underneath him shoots up and grabs him.
“Fighting me in sand isn't the best thing.” Koichi says.
“There's still me kid.” The head proctor says.
“Not really.” A voice says from behind him. A kunai blade is pressed against the shinobi's neck and he looks back to Koji and holding the blade. Ryoko walks out of the boat, completely free. “We're getting out of here.” Koji says.
The head proctor looks at his two comrades and notices the position he's in and he smiles. “You guys got the handle on this exam pretty well. Alright, you've completed the task, we'd all be dead by now so you won't have anymore interference from us.” He says. Koichi releases the shinobi from his sand and Ryoko calls up her meerkats from underground and has them release the other shinobi. Koji uses Shunshin and gets beside the two of his comrades.
“This exam was simple, we leave the shinobi who has the least amount of chance of finding his comrades and put them in the situation where they must track them down and rescue them. However there are a few twists to this.” The head proctor says.
“This wasn't a solo mission, everybody had to work, even the captured persons.” Ryoko says.
“Exactly. To put it simple no shinobi sits back waiting to be rescued by their comrades when they have full means to help themselves. We take full means as being conscious, which is why we didn't knock you out. Without any help from your comrades there would've been no way you could have found them. They had to leave some sort of trail or try to get free themselves or at least try to slow us down while you figured out what needed to be done.” The proctor looks over towards Koji and smiles. “That needle you shot, you laced it with your chakra and extended it so it would still cut through your friend's restraints just enough.”
“You also drew blood, knowing she had a summoning jutsu, the freedom of mobility was enough to have her make the seals for the jutsu and have her send assistance to your comrade, who somehow figured out to come for us out here.”
“Call it a link between two brothers.” Koichi says.
“You're summoning made it to you in time to take you around the traps didn't they?”
“Actually.” Koichi says scratching his head. “You're first trap I kinda passed over it. I didn't know until one of Ryoko's summon met up with me. If I hadn't taken that little pee break and gotten lost I probably would've stumbled into it.”
“A pee break?!” Ryoko shouts with fury.
“Well I didn't set off the traps and when I met up with your buddies they took me around the other traps easy.”
“We almost failed you idiot.” Ryoko shouts.
“We can still fail if you two don't shut up, we still have to make it back to the academy.” Koji says.
“That's right, although I don't think you'll be running pretty late.”
Over in the training fields of Konoha, Hi hides in a tree looking down at his comrades, surrounded by three shinobi. Jiraiya and Hime shift their eyes to Hi noticing them and nod to each other. Jiraiya releases a large burst of chakra releasing the ropes around him and and Hime lines her chakra with her hand, creating a sharp edge and cuts through the wire. The two immediately leap outwards and strike two of the proctors with their gentle fist, paralyzing them in a single shot. The last proctor turns around and sees them and begins backing up and suddenly a swarm of bugs surround him and restrict his movements.
“Not everybody has strong enough bonds with their teammates or comrades in their village to understand the true intent of this mission.” The head proctor says to Koichi and the others.
Tenzen, the only captive in his group restrains all three of the proctors with his shadow imitation technique just as his two teammates come to untie him.
“We've come to see in all our time participating in these exams that most of the time people are concerned with their own personal goals as shinobi and have no baring on teamwork or comradery.”
Two proctors hold blades to the neck of Temari and Pakura as Jo stands across from them. Jo smiles and suddenly the proctors notice chips of wood falling from Temari and Pakura's faces. They turn and look and the head of Temari shoots up and it's revealed to be a puppet and it sprays the proctors with sleeping gas and they pass out.
“You three are some of the rare ones, but we've wasted enough of your time. You should get going now.” The head proctor claps his hands twice at team Kankuro and the three young shinobi dart off and head back to the academy.
Koichi, Ryoko and Koji travel through the forest of the Land of Fire heading back to Konoha. “I have to hand it to you Koichi, you did good.” Ryoko says with s faint smile on her face. “But don't let it go to your head.”
“Whatever, I saved you guys, you could be a little more grateful.” Koichi says.
“So really, how did you manage to figure out where we were?”
Koichi looks ahead at Koji and he gets a guilty look on his face. He speeds up leaving Ryoko behind and heads to Koji.
“Hey Koji.” Koji shifts his eyes to his brother as Koichi comes up beside him. “I want to apologize...about what happened in Suna before the festival and everything.”
“What are you talking about?” Koji asks.
“I didn't trust you...I thought you were going to be like everybody else and call me a monster.” Koichi confesses, his tone low and guilty. Ryoko follows close behind the two boys hearing everything they say and she feels guilt as well. “I wouldn't have been able to find you guys if it weren't for you.”
“How so?” Koji asks.
“Well, I sort of busted my hand a little bit before I came here.” Koichi laughs showing his hand dried with blood.
“*sigh* what does that have to do with—”
“I remembered the time you stopped me from running my hand into the wall back when we were in the Academy. You weren't even watching you were simply reading some scrolls or whatever when sensei challenged me. You reacted almost as if reflex told you I was about to do something stupid and you stopped me. When I came looking for you guys something just told me...that I needed to look for you in the direction I went. It was instinct.”
“I see...” Koji's tone is rather distant from his brother as Koji keeps his focus straight in front of him.
“Look, Koji I'm sorry I promise I won't ever doubt you again.” Koichi pleads.
“Me too.” Ryoko says coming up besides Koji. “I was just as wrong as Koichi, I didn't trust you.”
“*sigh* Just don't do it again or you'll both be sorry.” Koji says letting out a small smile. Ryoko smiles slightly and Koichi gets a big grin on his face.
“Alright! It's onto the next round!” Koichi yells shooting up in front of the other two.
Koichi, Koji and Ryoko make it back to the academy grounds and they find only 12 more teams have made it back thus far. By the time nighfall arrives only a total of 39 teams remain in the exams. Hanabi returns to the scene in front of all the remaining teams.
“Surprisingly more of you passed then expected.” Hanabi says bluntly.
“I thought you said the object was to weed out half of the teams. More then half of them have already failed.” One genin says.
“50 teams was the maximum we were going to sustain however the fact that the total remaining reached more then 25 teams is a little surprising. The object of this preliminary exam was to see which teams had the strongest bonds with one another and could sustain through the rest of these challenges. Maybe we were a little too easy on you but we'll find out in our next exam.” Hanabi says.
“Bring it on, we'll take anything you throw at us.” Koichi shouts.
“The next exam will be held in the morning, be warned, this was just the tip of the iceberg. Everything from here on out will test every fiber of your shinobi beings. It'll take everything you just to survive, to pass...you'll need more then your best. If anybody doesn't think they're up for it then don't show up tomorrow, but remember teams of three are required, if one of your teammates don't show up, then your whole team fails.” On that not Hanabi leaves and the genin begin to head home.
“Yo Koichi!” A shinobi calls. Koichi and the rest of his team turn around to see Lee walking towards them.
“Glad to see that you guys all passed I knew you would of course.” Lee says joyfully.
“Was there ever a doubt in your mind.” Koichi says letting out a big laugh. Koji and Ryoko sigh at their teammate's big head.
“Anyway I came here to tell you not to go to sleep tonight.” Lee says. The tension in the air thickens just as Lee says those words. “Well not all at once of course. The sensei are being called away so there's no interference or anything so you guys are on your own tonight. That being said if you all went to sleep tonight, you might not wake up.”
“What are you talking about?” Ryoko asks.
“Well from earlier today it was already confirmed that you guys did have a little run in with another team trying to make sure you guys didn't enter. Just like this preliminary round was designed for the proctors to decide who was worthy of participating, this shows everybody else here who passed just who is a threat to them.”
“What are you talking about?” Koichi says. “We're all just focused on passing the exams. There's no more limits to teams or anything.”
“Well yeah, but the thing is the more teams there are the more competition there is and the harder it is for other teams to pass. Also the hidden purpose of these exams are to make sure your village comes out on top in these exams. It's too late to explain all this stuff, it's all political play and whatever so I'm just going to keep it short.” Lee laughs scratching his head as he talks. “Other teams are going to try to kill you so there is less to worry about, so the best thing for you to do would be just to take turns sleeping and what not and have somebody on guard.”
“Why are you telling us this?” Ryoko asks.
“You guys are new to this and you are nice and all but you're a little naïve, except for Koji of course.” Koichi and Ryoko look at Koji who simply stares at Lee unexpressed. “He's reading me just like I'm reading you guys.” Ryoko and Koichi look back at Lee with a more serious glare this time. “I didn't mean that like it sounded I was just referring to my innate ability is all. I am learning a lot of stuff about you guys though but I'm not like the others, I'm not even strong enough to consider attacking anybody here so you won't have to worry about me.” Lee says walking away from the group. “However I can't say the same for my teammates, just as I can't do anything about anybody else here I can't do anything about them. They're a little crazy sometimes so stay alert...well good night.”
Lee heads over to his teammates and the three shinobi leave the scene. Koichi and Ryoko look at one another and then Koji places his hands on both of their shoulders. “Lets go.” Koji says.
39 teams left the academy for the preliminary round...how many will come back for the first round of the Chuunin Exams?
SORRY >_< I know this is long, I didn't intend for this but I just kept writing and writing and I -_- Anyway this is my longest chapter I know, however I believe it'll be worth the read. Once you get through this one I promise this should be the longest my chapters should ever get meaning they shouldn't get longer then this if ever I run a little past my mark. Give me some feedback about what you all liked/disliked about the story, think I did well on, not so well on, etc. To those of you who read/comment/rep this post I thank you, enjoy
Death is natural... and to deflower such a natural thing is a sin, and those who defy the whims of Nature shall know the true pain in which none can shelter and shudder. s gift that we all can be happy for
I forgot about her meerkat summons.
Guess I need to hit the databook ...
Then, I like how you weaved in the flashback. But is a simple act like pulling Koichi back from hitting a wall really generate such a memory strong enough to make him want to make up with Koji? Well, if he's naruto-esque, i suppose. ;P