Naruto: Shichiyo Gaiden XXXVI
Chapter 36: Chiming the Third Bell
The avalanche finally ends and the room is filled with a dust cloud over the area. “KOJI!” Koichi yells. He tries to move his body but he quickly drops to his knee as he succumbs to the pain of his injuries. “Damn it!” The dust lifts from the area and Koichi sees a pile of rocks in one area. Koichi's eyes widen and he grits his teeth. He forces himself to move, taking out the shuriken in his arms, legs, and body and he pulls himself up. As he stands on his left leg a surge of pain runs through it, but he fights through it and stands up.
As Koichi releases his sand, Koji's puppet falls to the ground besides Ryoko. Koichi begins lifting the rocks and tossing them away, using every ounce of his energy to do so. “No, no, no, little brother!” Koichi shouts with panic. Koichi reaches Koji and he see's his brother still conscious but breathing heavily. “Koji...” Koichi continues to knock away the rocks and he notices a wooden case over Koji's body lined with chakra. Koichi smiles with relief as he sees Koji isn't crushed. “Clever as usual bro. You had another puppet on your person didn't you?”
Koji closes his eyes and his face demonstrates extreme pain. Koichi looks at Koji confused at his face. “My....arm....” Koji mutters. Koichi looks to the side and sees Koji's left arm completely crush under a bolder. The casing Koji has on his body didn't extend to his arm.
“Damn it.” Koichi says gritting his teeth. Koichi tries to lift the bolder but he's unable to. “Damn it.” He continues to do so and Koji's breathing gets heavier and the pain he sustains is too immense. “Damn it!” Koichi begins punching the bolder. His chakra flares red and his right eye begins to resembles that of the Shukaku. Koichi pounds and pounds on the bolder, cracking it a little more each time, his knuckles bleeding more and more as he does so. He eventually breaks through and shatters the bolder. Koji sits up but as his left arm begins to move he feels great pain in his arm. “Koji...”
“Just get me over to Ryoko.” Koji says with heavy breath. Koichi helps Koji up and takes him over to Ryoko.
“Koji...your arm...” she says.
“Don't speak.” Koji says, he places his capable arm over her chest and he begins healing her using his medical jutsu. Koichi looks at Koji with slight surprise.
*Since when did he learn medical ninjutsu?* Koji pants rapidly but his expression doesn't wither a bit. *And how does he still have so much chakra?*
“Koichi, come here.” Koji says. Koichi walks towards his brother. Koji takes out four paper tags and places them on Koichi's shoulders, torso and his back. “I don't know if this technique is going to work, I haven't had much practice in it, but it should at least make it bearable for you to move. You have to carry Ryoko, she's out of commission right now.”
“Koji you're arm is—”
“My right arm is fine.” Koji connects his chakra strings to his puppet that lay next to Ryoko which remains intact. “We need to finish this test, if for nothing else but to survive got it?” Koichi's faces gets serious and determined and he nods to his brother. Koichi takes Ryoko on his back and the three genin press begin to press onwards. As they reach the end of the corridor they hear the second bell ring throughout the academy. They stop and look at each other, still worried about passing the test. However, Koichi looks at his brother's arm, battered and dripping with blood, and Koji looks at the wounds on Koichi and Ryoko unconscious and they realize the test is not what's important.
“Damn it we're cut off.” One of the proctors says. “We have to get through.”
“There's no use, there's noway they survived and if they did, they don't have much time left I'm sure. Our best bet is to call it in and tell Udon.” The other says. The proctor's partner nods and the two head out of the path and head to tell Udon.
“Koji, maybe we should slow down and just wait for the proctors to come.” Koichi says out of concern.
“Never thought you'd be the one suggesting we give up.” Koji says.
Koichi clinches his fist with frustration “This isn't a joke! And you know when I say that it damn sure isn't!” Koichi says. “Ryoko's unconscious and damn near out of chakra, you're arm is crushed and you've used up a hell of a lot of chakra and I can barely walk! This test isn't what's important right now! I thought you were the smart one!”
“The two of you have a lot riding on this and I'm not going to let it end like this.” Koji says stopping in front of Koichi.
“The two of you have things you need to prove to people...I'm the only person who doesn't have anything to gain by taking these exams.” Koji's words confuse Koichi for a moment. “You're only speaking this way because you're afraid, deep down you want to pass these exams, and deep down I know that's the only concern you and Ryoko have at this point in time.” Koichi looks down in guilt as he realizes the truth in his brother's words. “So we're going to finish this alright?”
Koichi stares at his brother for a brief moment and then nods and they continue to press on.
~Outside the Academy~
One of the proctors is speaking to Udon outside the academy just as the two come out who were observing team Kankuro's path.
“So the second squad to pass is the Suna squad from the 5th path, alright then so there's only one more.”
The proctor nods and heads on his way. “Udon-san.” Udon turns to see the two proctors walking towards him.
“What's the matter, only one of you is supposed to come out if the team passed?”
“Udon, our team from the 4th path took the rout heading down Eastern Block B.” On proctor says.
“And? Didn't you get to them?”
The two shinobi look down with guilt and shame. “We accidentally sprung one of the traps that blocked our immediate passage to the group and then the avalanche that was part of the trap caused the stones to fall and block us from getting through in time...the team is...”
“Did you find their bodies?” Udon asks.
“Well no but no genin could have survived that. They were already reaching their peek just before heading there, they wouldn't have the energy to survive such an obstacle.”
“I see, go get a squad of medics, I'm going to go in and get them.”
“I've seen their records, those are Kankuro's kids. One was trained by the Kazekage, the other under Kankuro's direct personal teachings and the other is the daughter of Suna's head Anbu...those genin aren't dead. Now go!”
The two chuunin nod and Udon heads into the academy and heads down the path to try and find the three genin.
~Several Minutes Pass~
“God damn it, where are the proctors? We should have at least reached the half way point by now.” Koichi says.
“It doesn't matter, we need to keep going.”
“Do you have any ideas on where we should head?” Koichi asks
Koji looks looks down a divided path with four corridors spread out. He looks back and forth a few times and holds out his finger towards the third path down the right. “There.”
“No.” The two brothers with Ryoko head down the corridor and they walk down a long stretch of path in a dark tunnel. Koji trips a sensor and several small needles shoot from all angles in the dark. Koichi makes a half circle barrier around the back of them as he hears the needles travel through the air and Koji has his puppet make a chakra barrier like last time in the front, deflecting the projectiles. The three press onwards until the a small glimmer of light appears. They come to an open room which is rounded like a large dome and at the end of the room is a large with two windows with light shining through and just above it is a large bell.
“No way...” Koichi says with astonishment. “Is this really...”
“The end of the line.” Koji says.
Koichi lets out a huge sigh of relief and then grins. The two brothers walk besides each other and just before they reach the middle of the room, the ground begins to shake. The two brothers get on their guard and as they do, the room begins to light up brighter and the room illuminates and reveals an arena type setting. Several seals are on the ground on the other side of the room and as the earth stops shaking pillars of earth shoot up and they crackle down and they form humanoid like structures. A total of five human shaped earth pillars appear before the genin and they begin moving their joints.
“Of course it wasn't going to be that easy.” Koichi says.
“There's five of them...I have good enough control with this puppet to help aid you but—”
“Take care of Ryoko, I'll handle this myself.” Koichi says.
“My wounds aren't as bad as yours and Ryoko. These tags you put on me have replenished my chakra and I'm the best tai fighter here...If we ring the bell these things will stop, so I'll make an opening and you have to take Ryoko and get to the bell while I distract them got it?” Koji is reluctant and he looks at his brother's wounds. “You told me to trust you, now you gotta do the same bro.” Koji nods in accordance with his brother and Koichi places Ryoko down besides Koji and steps forward.
As Koichi steps out the earth puppets get into their stances and proceed forward as well. The center one sharpens his hand to make it act like a blade and the one on it's far right makes is hand into a spiked ball.
The two stone puppets on either side of the center one shoots out towards Koichi and begins to attack. The one flanking Koichi's right slides on the ground attempting to sweep him. Koichi jumps but the other one comes up with his arm out attempting a lariat. Koichi holds his arms up in front of him as the puppet's arm comes towards him. Koichi then notices two other earth puppets dart past him and they head for Koji and Ryoko. Koichi moves one of his left arm away, controlling his sand and sends it to intercept the other two. As the sand gets to the other puppets, Koichi is wailed back by the stone puppet's lariat. The sheer force knocks him back despite his other arm being present to block it. As Koichi flies back he manages to make the half tiger seal with his arm despite the pain and two tags appear on the sand between the puppets and his teammates. They detonate and knock the stone puppets back.
Koichi flips and regains his footing as he lands however his right arm is badly hurt. Suddenly, one of the tags on his shoulder glows green and it begins healing his arm but only for a slight moment. *Blocking their attacks with power isn't going to work, I have to evade.* Koichi concludes. Koichi looks as the four stone puppets stand and the leader stands behind them. *That one is different from the others...* Koichi shifts his head to Koji and Ryoko. *I have to get an opening for them*
As Koichi turns his attention back to the stone puppets he sees them all charging them. As his right arm is movable again he claps his hands together and creates a wall of sand in front of him *They're not fast, I can take advantage of that* Koichi shoots the sand forward to restrain the four puppets “Go now!”
Koji's puppet grabs Ryoko and slings her over it's shoulder and Koji darts out fast to the side with his puppet. Koji passes past the mid point and heads towards the bell however he's cut off by the last stone puppet. The puppet hold out it's arm and begins shooting several earth needles from it's hand. Koji flicks his fingers and his puppet tosses Ryoko in the air and the puppet claps its hands and makes a whip of chakra and hits away the stone needles and catches Ryoko after she falls. The puppet however moves with surprising speed and gets close to Koji and thrusts its arm. A wooden shield shoots from Koji's shirt and stops the spear of earth from the puppet's hand. *Koichi!* Koji links with his brother's mind and Koichi immediately looks over to his brother and nods. Koji twitches his fingers and has his puppet place Ryoko down and then he detaches his strings and the puppet falls. Koji wraps his leg around the stone puppet's arm and flips backwards lifting the puppet of the ground. Koji places his hand on the puppet as he flips over as well and then darts towards Ryoko and grabs her placing her under his arm.
Koichi releases his sand and runs towards the four puppets, taking out two kunai from his pouch, however there is wire at the ends of them. Koichi gets right in the center of the four puppets. The one on his left lets out a punch and Koichi swiftly side setps it and wraps a part of the wire around the puppet's fist, still holding onto the kunai. He pulls the puppet just as another one attempt to kick him and Koichi wraps the last bit of the wire around the puppet's leg and pins the kunai to the ground.
The last two puppets throw their punches in unison with one another from behind Koichi and he simply uses Shunshin and gets on their backs and wraps the other kunai around their necks and then drags them to the floor pinning them.
As Koji sees this, he pulls out a kunai and turns. He flicks his wrist with enough force to get the kunai to travel the distance towards the four puppets just as Koichi appears to the other side of the dome. The kunai has an explosive ball at the end of it. Just as the four puppets break through the wires the explosion occurs knocking them all back to the entrance the team came from. The fifth puppet gets up and and as he does, Koji make the half tiger seal and tag revealed on the puppets chest detonates and explodes.
“We're almost there!” The two brothers make it to the bell together and just as Koichi places his hand on the string, another bell gos off...Koichi and Koji's eyes widen in utter shock as the third bell rings just as their hand is on their. As the third bell rings, team Kankuro fines themselves out of the rest of the exams...
To Be Continued...