Chapter 20: The Contestants

When Team 7 entered the room, they could feel all of the stares and some glares from the genin in the room as soon as the door closed behind them. It was very intense. Kagome somewhat expected to see many genin from different countries in the same room. She figured that the intensity came from the other genins because of the countries that don't really like one another.

"Sasuke-kun, you're late!" The team turned to look at him, only to see him being hugged from behind by Ino. "I've been eagerly waiting for you ever since I heard that I could see you for the first time in a long time." She squealed while Sasuke looked at her, clearly annoyed.

"Get away from Sasuke-kun, you Ino-pig!" Sakura barked.

"Oh my, it's you, Sakura." Ino mocked as she got down. "Your forehead is wide and you're still ugly... as usual."

"What did you say?!" The pink haired girl yelled. The blonde girl stuck her tongue at her.

"What, are you four going to take this troublesome exam, too?" Shikamaru asked, coming towards them with Choji beside him.

"Shikamaru, Choji, good to see you." Kagome greeted the two as Kirara mewed happily.

"Hey Kagome." Choji greeted back.

"Hey! Found you all." Another voice called, "I see that everyone's here."

The voice turned out to be Kiba who had Akamaru on top of his head and Ryouta beside him.

"Hey Kagome, Kirara." Ryouta greeted.

"All ten rookies are here to take the exam this year." Kiba said and turned towards Kagome, "Hey Kagome-chan, Kirara!" He cheered.

"Good to see you too, Kiba, Ryouta. Also you, Akamaru." Kagome said with a closed eye smile. Akamaru barked in greeting while Kirara mewed.

"Hey guys."

Everyone turned towards the voice and saw a man with grey hair tied back in a low ponytail and glasses.

"You should quiet down a little bit. So you're the ten rookies that just graduated from the academy, right? You shouldn't be fooling around with those cute little faces. It's not a field trip."

"Who are you to tell us that?!" Ino shouted.

"Oh, I'm Kabuto Yakushi." Kabuto introduced himself, "Look all around you." All of the ten genin look around them and saw all of the genin glaring at them. However, one group stood out.

"The ones over there are from Amegakure. They have short tempers. Everyone is very tense since it's right before the exam. I warned you so that you won't get bullied. But I guess that it can't be helped since you're just rookies who don't know anything. It reminds me of the old me." Kabuto told them.

"Kabuto-san, was it?" Sakura questioned.

"Yeah." Kabuto replied.

"Is this your second time?" Sakura asked.

"No, this would be my seventh." Kabuto said, "The exam takes place twice a year, so it's my fourth year."

"That means that you know a lot about the exam?" Sakura asked.

"Yeah, I do." Kabuto said.

"So you must be an expert on it, Kabuto." Sakura complimented him.

"But he never passed it, Sakura." Kagome pointed out.

It made her curious as to why Kabuto would be in his fourth year of the exam. Well, if he passed the first, it must be that he quits in the second or third part. Actually, he would probably end up dead in the second part. So why would he keep coming to the exam only to fail every time? Kagome was soon getting suspicious of Kabuto. She knew that he was hiding something. Whatever it was, it wasn't good. Not to mention his aura as well, it reminded her of Mizuki for some reason.

"That is true." Kabuto agreed.

"Is the Chūnin Exams really that hard?" Shikamaru asked, "This is getting even more troublesome."

"Maybe I should help my cute, little underclassmen with some information…" Kabuto said as he held out a stack of cards, "With these Ninja Info Cards."

"Ninja Info Cards?" Sakura repeated, confused on what these cards were able to do.

"In simple terms, it's a card that has information burned into it using my chakra." He explained as he placed the stack on the floor and took out a blank card, "I've collected information on this exam for the past four years. There's 200 in total." Then he took out one card and flipped it in front of them, "It looks blank, but to get information from it…" He began to slowly spin the card with his finger.

"What are you doing?" Sakura asked as the rookies huddled around to watch him.

"It's made so that you can't view it without my chakra." Kabuto explained, "Like this." A map appeared on the card.

"Wow, what information is this?" Sakura asked, curious and amazed.

"The total number of examiners, and countries participating in this year's exam." He said, "It also has the number of participants from each hidden village. Let me ask you, why do you think that they do the Chūnin Exams together? First of all, it's to deepen the friendly relationships with the other countries. Second, it's to heighten the level of the ninja. At least that's what they say."

"What do you mean, 'that's what they say'?" Sakura asked, confused.

"He means that the real purpose of the exam is to confirm the level of ninja in each country to try and balance out power, Haruno." Kagome replied.

"Correct." Kabuto commented.

"Why do they go through such a troublesome task?" Shikamaru asked. Kabuto made the map disappear on the card, returning it to a blank one.

"If they don't, the weak countries will be invaded and dominated by the strong ones. So they need to check and restrain each other's powers." Kagome replied.

"Are there enough cards that have detailed personal information?" Sasuke asked, taking a step closer. He wanted to know how powerful the people that he encountered are. Especially Kagome.

"Why yes." Kabuto asked, "Anyone captured your interest?"

"Rock Lee of Konoha, Gaara of Suna, and Kagome Uzumaki of Konoha while you're at it." Sasuke said.

Kagome was a little bit shocked at this. She didn't think that Sasuke would want information on her.

"One of your own teammates?" Kabuto asked, his brow arched. He shrugged his shoulders and took out a card. He placed a finger on it and spun it. Information appeared on the card. He picked up the card and began to read off of what it said.

"Rock Lee of Konohagakure. His teammates are Tenten and Neji Hyuuga. Team Leader is Guy Maito. Mission Completed: 20 D-rank and 12 C-rank. He's highly skilled in taijutsu, but he's terrible in ninjutsu and genjutsu. This is his first time at the exam as well." Kabuto said. He summoned the next card.

"Gaara of Sunagakure. Mission Completed: 8 C-rank, 1 B-rank. This is his first time at the exam as well. Unfortunately, he's another foreign ninja. So there's not much on him as well. But he came back unharmed from the B-rank mission." Kabuto said. Then he summoned the last card.

"He did a B-rank and came out unharmed?" Shikamaru asked, his eyes widened in shock. He had never heard of a ninja that would come back unharmed after a B-rank mission. It's unbelievable!

"Interesting. Kagome Uzumaki of Konohagakure. Team leader is Kakashi Hatake. Her teammates are Sakura Haruno and Sasuke Uchiha. Mission Completed: 30 D-rank, 1 C-rank, 1 B-rank. The C-rank was later turned to a B. Powerful in taijutsu, genjutsu, kenjutsu, and ninjutsu. First time at the exam." Kabuto said, reading off the card, "That's all it says."

Kabuto placed another card on top of the cards from before and the map appeared once more. "Konoha, Suna, Ame, Taki, Kusa, and Oto." Kabuto began, "Many talented genins from these hidden villages have come here to this year's exam. Oto is a village of a small country that has just been recently made, so I don't really have any information on them." He placed all of his cards back into his deck, "Either way, they all come from powerful hidden villages."

"In other words, the examinees here are all…" Sakura trailed off as she gazed upon all of the genins in the room.

"Right." Kabuto smirked, "It's not only Lee, Gaara, or Kagome. All of these people here are the top elites chosen from each country. This isn't that easy."

"I figured that." Kagome stated, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

"Did you hear that?" A male Oto ninja said who had spiky dark hair and eyes who glared at Kabuto from across the room, "They say that Oto is a minor village of a small country."

"I'm hurt." Another male Oto ninja said. He had bandages that covered most of his face, leaving his left eye uncovered.

"Let's play with them." A female Oto kunoichi said with long black hair that had a purple ribbon tied at the end and black eyes.

"Yeah, they speak as if we're left over ninja." The bandaged ninja agreed, "Let's make them add this into their data…Oto ninjas are somewhat cruel."

The spiky haired Oto leaped off one of the tables and threw two kunai towards Kabuto. Kagome quickly drew her chakra blades and blocked them away, making them fall to the floor. Then the bandaged Oto ninja went past her and headed towards Kabuto to punch him. However Kabuto dodged his upcoming attack with great speed.

'He dodged it!' Sakura thought.

'That's a speed that I can deal with.' Sasuke thought, smirking.

The Oto ninja tried to attack again, but Kagome stepped in his path and punched him in the face. Kabuto smirked, thinking that the attack didn't get to him. However, his glasses cracked a few seconds later.

"I see, that's the kind of attack it is." Kabuto said while taking his glasses off.

"What's going on?" Sasuke asked, "You definitely dodged it. So why did your glasses..."

"It must have hit his nose." Shikamaru commented and clicked his tongue, "That's what happens when you try to act cool."

Kabuto's body started to shake until he fell down to his knees and threw up.

"Kabuto!" Kagome shouted as she ran to his side.

"Kabuto-san!" Sakura yelled as she knelt beside him.

"Are you alright, Kabuto-san?" Kagome asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine." Kabuto assured them.

"You're not as good as I thought for a veteran who took the exam for four years." The bandaged Oto shinobi mocked him.

"Put this in your info cards." The spiky Oto shinobi said as he pointed at Kabuto, "The three Oto shinobi will definitely become chūnins."

'Kabuto definitely dodged that Oto shinobi's attack. How come he vomited?' Sasuke thought.

"Lee, what do you say about that attack?" Neji asked.

He was curious to how the man dodged the Oto shinobi's attack, but the man vomited afterwards. However he was also curious about the blonde kunoichi who stood near the man. When he first saw her, he knew that she was the jinchūriki of the nine tailed kitsune who nearly destroyed Konoha and killed many shinobi. He had no idea why his cousin Ryouta would socialize with such a person, not to mention the Uchiha heir as well.

"There was no problem in dodging it," Lee replied, "There must be some sort of trick to it."

Suddenly, smoke appeared from the front end of the room.

"Quiet down, you punks!" A male voice yelled. The smoke vanished to reveal a group of jounins and chūnins.

"Sorry to keep you waiting," A man said who had two scars across his face, "I'm the proctor of the first part of the Chūnin Exams, Ibiki Morino."

"I have to admit that that was a very hard exam." Kagome admitted as she and the others left the building where they passed the first part of the exam.

"Troublesome is more like it." Shikamaru retorted.

"That exam made me hungry." Choji complained as he rubbed his stomach.

"Anything will make you hungry, Choji." Ino complained.

"When aren't you hungry?" Sakura frowned.

"Haruno," Kagome frowned, "Anyways, I kind of have some respect for that Ibiki guy."

"What? How can you respect a guy like him? That guy gives me the creeps." Ino asked, incredulously.

"The man went through so much torture and still fought hard to make sure that the enemy wouldn't get any information out of him throughout his Shinobi career. His scars are proof that he's a shinobi that's not to be messed with. He taught us all an important lesson on becoming a great chunin." Kagome stated.

"And what lesson is that?" Sakura questioned.

"A shinobi must see through deception. There are always two choices when it comes to a mission. You should think only of the goal and of achieving a mission through courage and discipline. These are the qualities required of a Chūnin squad leader." Kagome answered, "That kind of wisdom makes him a shinobi worth respecting."

Unknown to Kagome, someone was listening in on their conversation. It was Anko, a colleague of Ibiki's. She smiled as she listened to the jinchūriki's words. She was surprised that the girl respected Ibiki like that. Most shinobi respected and feared Ibiki because of his interrogation skills and his scars. It amazed her that a genin, a jinchūriki, respects Ibiki. Perhaps she should tell him and see what kind of reaction he'll make to it.

It was later in the evening when Ibiki Morino was eating his dinner in a booth at a sushi place in the village. It had been a long day since the first exam was finally done. He was surprised by the many genins who were able to pass the first part of the exam. He wondered which ones will remain in the second part.

"Hey, Ibiki." A female voice called out to him.

Ibiki turned to the female voice and saw Anko with her hand raised up in greeting.

"What are you doing here, Anko?" Ibiki grunted.

"Joining you." Anko walked over to his booth and sat across from him.

"I eat alone." Ibiki ate his sushi.

"Hey, you'll never guess what that jinchūriki said about you." Anko teased.

"No. what is it?" Ibiki grunted, about to put the piece of sushi in his mouth.

"She said that she respects you." Anko responded.

"What?" Ibiki paused mid bite.

"She's said that your scars are proof that you're a shinobi who shouldn't be messed with." Anko stated.

Ibiki chuckled at that. He didn't expect that the jinchūriki would respect him. Whenever someone sees his scars, they're intimidated by them and kids usually back away from him. But to hear a genin respecting him, caused him to grin. He had a feeling the Chūnin exams were going to be different this year.