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Chapter 8-The Exams BeginEdit

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"First," Ibiki Morino pointed his finger at the Sound nin, "You candidates from the Village Hidden in the Sound! Knock it off! Who told you you could fight?! You want to be failed before we've even begun?!" The one wrapped in bandages turned to him, "Sorry," he said unapologetically, "It's our first time. Guess we're a little jumpy, sir." Morino grinned, "I'll say this once, so listen up. There will be no combat between candidates. No attacking each other without the permission of your proctor, and even then, the use of fatal force is strictly prohibited! Anyone who even thinks of messing with me will be disqualified immediately. Got it?"

His voice carried such menacing authority that every candidate in the room was silent, taking care to not even breathe wrong. One of the Sound nin smirked, "No fatal force? That's no fun!"

"Now, if we're ready," Morino continued, "we'll proceed to the first stage of the Chunin exam. Hand over your paperwork, in return you'll each be given a number." He held up a stack of paper squares with numbers on them, "This number determines where you will sit. We'll start the written test once you're all seated." Even though Naruto had known about it already, he still got a sinking feeling in his gut at the words "written test".

A Few Minutes LaterEdit

Naruto slid into his seat and smiled as Hinata sat down, "Hiya beautiful." Hinata blushed and smiled, "Hi Naruto." Suddenly Morino tapped a piece of chalk on the chalk board at the front of the room, "Everyone eyes front. There are a few rules you need to be aware of, and I won't answer any questions, so ya better pay attention the first time around!" He turned and started writing on the board, "Alright, rule number one is this. The written part of the exam is conducted on a point reduction system. Contrary to what some of you may be used to, you all begin with a perfect score of ten points. One point will be deducted for each answer you get wrong. So if you miss three, your final score will be seven."

"Rule number two," he continued, "Teams will pass or fail based on the total scores of all three members." There were several expressions of shock and horror around the room. "SILENCE," Morino boomed, "I have my reasons, so shut up and listen. Rule number three, the sentinels positioned around the room are there to watch you carefully for any signs of cheating, and for every incident they catch you cheating, they will subtract two points from the culprits score. Be warned, their eyes are extremely sharp, and if they catch you five times you'll be dismissed before the tests are even scored. Anyone fool enough to be caught cheating by the sentinels doesn't deserve to be here!"

One of the sentinels grinned, "I've got my eye on you guys," and earned the unease of an entire section of applicants. "If you want to be considered shinobi," Morino continued, "then show us, what exceptional shinobi you can be." Just as some applicants were crossing their fingers banking on their own scores to pull their teams through, Morino continued, "If any candidate should get a zero and fail the test, then the entire team fails."

Several applicants cringed and glanced around at their teammates as Morino continued, "The final question won't be given out until fifteen minutes before the end of the testing period. You'll have one hour total. BEGIN!" The applicants immediately picked up their pencils and started examining the questions, quickly realizing that even the simplest was difficult, and the others were worse. Naruto grinned and closed his eyes, now it was just a matter of time and trust.

The Night BeforeEdit

Naruto grinned as Team Gai arrived, "Good we're all here." "What's this about Naruto?" Neji asked as he came in. Naruto looked around making sure he had everyone's attention, "The first part of the Chunin Exams is a written test of mind numbing difficulty, administered by Ibiki Morino, the head of ANBU's interrogations and torture unit." There were some flinches and the odd gasp of fear as that sank in.

Naruto grinned, "The aim of the first part of the test is to get us to cheat, and if we're going to pass, then we're gonna have to." Sakura sat bolt upright, "WHAT?!" Naruto looked at her, "The point is to test our reconnaissance and information gathering abilities. We're ninja, we need to be able to discreetly gather and relay information, and they're going to test us to make sure we can do that. If any of us fail with zero of the ten questions correct, our whole team is disqualified."

There were several sharp intakes of breath as he continued, "And since we can't switch up our squads to optimize our reconnaissance potential, we're going to need to work as a team. We've got three dojutsu, three braniacs, a Shino, and an Ino. That leaves me Kiba Choji and Lee to find alternative routes of cheating. None of us can afford to lose a member of our team, so we need to figure out to pick up our weakest links." He looked at Kiba Choji and Lee, "No offense fellas, I'm on that list too."

Neji nodded, "I understand your point, but why should we help you? You will be our competitors." Naruto gave him a hard look, "You leave the competition to me." Something suddenly tapped Neji from behind, "AH!" Neji jumped, "Byakugan!" His eyes widened, "How?!" He deactivated his Byakugan and saw that where a glowing Naruto chakra signature had been an instant before there was nothing.

Naruto smiled coldly, "My transparent escape jutsu allows me to bring all the shadow clones I want to the party, and combined with my transformations for mobility, I've got a thousand ways to distract and sabotage people up my sleeves. As you can see, only someone with the Byakugan can see through my jutsu, and even with it, you can't see the other three clones scattered around the room." Neji immediately reactivated his Byakugan and searched the room, "What?! Impossible!" Naruto grinned as his shadow clones picked up small things and tossed them at Neji, "I've actually been working on this with Hinata and my grandfather for quite some time. When I go invisible, nobody sees me, and I don't leave a trace behind me."

"So," he continued, "are we going to help each other out or not?"

NowEdit

Fifteen minutes into the exam, Naruto's invisible clones began their mischief. He hadn't been lying the night before, even with a Byakugan, his clones were virtually impossible to spot. There was a very simple reason for that, they were very small and only just barely there to begin with. They had one or two small jutsu's in them and that was it. But since they were made of such little chakra, they didn't make the usual puff of smoke that normal shadow clones did when they broke, they just winked out of existence.

All around the room people started scratching, looking around as though there were flies buzzing around their heads, flinching as tiny little fingers pinched and teeny naruto bugs bit them. Some looked down as they felt something brush against their leg and looked back at their paper only to jump half from their skin as they saw that their answers had all disappeared from their papers. Others found their tests turning into images of gorgeous young women clothed in nothing but clouds for just a moment or two before changing back, leaving them rubbing their eyes and wondering if they were seeing things.

A moment later the sentinels began throwing people out, many of whom were the ones Naruto's clones had chosen to mess with. Naruto's clones faded away, their work done. Everyone whose concentration could be thrown off had been thrown off. Naruto grinned as his pencil casually scritch-scratched across his page, casually tracing the answers Shikamaru's shadows provided. Naruto grinned as he saw Hinata chugging through the test as well, things were going very well. Sakura, Shikamaru and Tenten were putting their heads together with Sasuke, Neji and Hinata checking their answers against the other people in the room who appeared to know what they were doing.

Shikamaru was also doubling as a relay for the answers along with Ino and Shino. Shino was relaying things from Sasuke and Neji back to Sakura, Shikamaru and Tenten using his bugs, and Ino was jumping between bodies every few minutes relaying answers from Sakura to Choji and Lee. Shikamaru was running answers to Kiba and Naruto, and Sasuke Neji and Hinata were able to copy what they saw easily.

By the time it was time for Morino to announce the final question, over a third of the room had been kicked out for getting caught cheating. Every member of the team Naruto had assembled was still there though, as were the Sand Siblings, the three sound nin, and several Leaf and Rain genin along with a handful from other villages.

"Alright," Morino announced, "Listen up. Here's the tenth and final question." Grips tightened on pencils all over the room as he continued, "But, before I give you the question, there are some rules you need to be aware of. These rules are unique to question ten. Listen carefully, and try not to let them frighten you." Of course, the tension levels in the room skyrocketed automatically.

"Rule number one, each of you is completely free to choose not to be given the final question. It's your decision." "Whoooa," Temari exclaimed, "So what's the catch? What happens if we don't want to do it?" "If you choose not to take the tenth question," Morino replied, "Regardless of your answers to the other nine, you'll get a zero. In other words you fail, and of course that means both your teammates fail as well."

As a wave of muttering rippled through the remaining applicants, Morino cut them off quietly, "Not so fast," there was instant silence as they all sensed something bad coming, "You didn't let me finish. If you do accept the question, and you answer it incorrectly, you will not only fail, YOU WILL BE BARRED FROM TAKING THE CHUNIN EXAM EVER AGAIN."

Kiba leapt up, "Hey that's bull man! What kinda crazy rule is that? There are loads of people here who have taken the test before!" Naruto had a terrible time resisting the urge to leap up and deck him as Morino started to laugh darkly, "I guess you're just unlucky, I wasn't making the rules before, but I am now. Of course, if you don't want to take it, you don't have to. If you're not feeling confident then by all means skip it. You can come back and try again next year." Kiba sat down utterly cowed.

"Now then," Morino declared, "The tenth and final question! Those of you who don't want to take it raise your hand. Your number will be recorded and you're free to go." Less than a minute later, hands started going up and applicants started leaving. Half the remaining applicants were gone in a matter of minutes. A few moments later, the only ones left were sitting rock solid and determined, willing to gamble everything on this final question.

Morino looked around, "Well, I admire your determination if nothing else. For those of you remaining, there's only one thing left for you to do." The tension in the room cranked up what little there was left to crank. "And that," Morino continued, "Is for me to tell you... that you've all passed the first exam."

There were stunned looks and then Temari stood half up, "Wait, what just happened? Where's the tenth question?" Morino's face suddenly split in a huge grin, "There never was one! At least not a written one. Your decision to stay was the answer to the tenth question!" "So the other nine questions were just a waste of time?!" Temari exclaimed. "Oh no," Morino laughed, "The first nine questions had a very important purpose! They were to test your ability to surreptitiously gather information under the most adverse of circumstances." Temari blinked and sat back, "Oh...well that clears up everything."

"Let me explain," Morino continued, "My objective was to test you not only as individuals but as a team, and to see how well you function as a part of that team, that's why the test was scored on a team basis. It was so that you knew that everything you did or failed to do affected your teammates. I wanted to see how you handled the pressure."

"The first nine questions were difficult," Morino continued, "As you may have figured out, too difficult for any genin to be expected to solve. I imagine most of you came to that conclusion rather quickly, that you'd have to cheat to have any chance of passing. The fact is that this test was designed to encourage cheating, it almost demanded it! Of course it would have done you little good if you had nobody to cheat off of, so I disguised two chunin who already knew the answers and had them sit in with you."

"Those who were caught failed," Morino continued as he began untying the bandana covering his head, "Better not to cheat than to cheat clumsily." He pulled off his bandana and as those present stared at the horrible mangled visage of the scars, puncture wounds and burn marks on his scalp, he went on, "Information, it can be the most valuable weapon in battle. How well you gather information can determine whether or not a mission's a failure, or success. There will be times you have to risk your life to get it."

Morino tied his bandana back on, "Of course, you must always consider the source of your information, intelligence gathered from an enemy is not necessarily accurate. Always bear this in mind: disinformation can be worse than no information at all. It can lead to the deaths of comrades, or the loss of a village! That's why I put you in a position where you had to gather accurate intelligence, cheat in order to survive, and that's why those who weren't good enough at it were weeded out. Leaving the rest of you."

"Okay," one applicant said, "But I'm still not getting what the tenth question is about." "You're not?" Morino asked, "The tenth question was the point of the whole exam! Surely you see that! We were testing you as part of a squad! The tenth question presented two choices, both difficult. You could play it safe and your whole team failed, or you could risk it, and risk never becoming chunin. It was a no win situation. The sort Chunin have to face almost every day."

"For example, let me give you a hypothetical mission, to steal a document from an enemy stronghold. You have no idea how many combatants await you, or how well armed they are. Furthermore, you have reason to suspect that the enemy is expecting you, that you might very well be walking blindly into a trap."

"Now do you have the option of taking a pass on this insane mission? Of saying my comrades and I would rather live to fight another day?! Can you choose to avoid danger? NO. There will be many missions that will seem almost suicidal if you think about them, but you do not think about it. You focus on the goal and achieving it through courage and discipline. These are the qualities required of a chunin squad leader."

"Those whose determination falters in the face of adversity, those who would put their comrades' lives in jeopardy by worrying about their own, will never be allowed to call themselves chunin, at least as long as I'm here. As for the rest of you, you have successfully answered the ten questions I put to you. You have earned the right to continue on to the next step. You have passed through the first gate. I hereby declare the first section of the Chunin Selection Exam completed. There's nothing left but to wish you all good luck."

Just as the first ripples of excitement started through the crowd, a shape exploded through the window, quickly unfurling into a pretty kunoichi in a long brown coat standing in front of a large banner, "HEADS UP BOYS AND GIRLS! This is no time to be celebrating! I'll be your next proctor, Anko Mitarashi! Ready for the second test?" She didn't wait for an answer before thrusting her fist into the air, "GOOD! FOLLOW ME!"

Morino poked his head around the banner as the applicants stared, "You're early. Again." Anko looked embarrassed for a moment then she looked at the crowd, "How many are there?" She looked at Morino, "Ibiki, you let all these guys pass? Your test was too easy. You must be getting soft." "Or it could be," Morino replied, "a stronger crop of candidates this year."

Anko turned to the crowd, "Hmm, they sure don't look it. Trust me, by the time I'm done, more than half will be eliminated." As a few exclamations of shock escaped the candidates, Anko grinned, "Mmm...this is gonna be fun. Alright, you maggots have had it easy so far. But things are gonna be different starting first thing in the morning! I'll let your squad leaders know where you're to meet me. Dismissed."

The Next MorningEdit

The candidates stood outside an immense fenced in area full of enormous trees. Anko announced, "This is the location of the second exam, the Forty Fourth Battle Training Ground, but we call it the Forest of Death."

Next Time: The Chunin Exams Part 2: The Forest of Death!Edit

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