AN: I made a mistake… Suna does not know yet how Kuma speaks. And Gaara is OOC… Sorry about that
Minutes later the waiting room was filled with all contestants from the big villages and some of the smaller ones. The last one to enter (and pass) was Kuma´s cousin.
"Congratulations. All of you that are gathered here have succeeded and will continue to the next round.", a body-less voice announced, "You have two hours to reach the location where it will take place."
As soon as the voice shut up mission scrolls appeared in front of each village.
"seems like the way there will take only half an hour. Is anyone in need of stocking up?"
"We will be leaving on our own. See you at the next location.", Temari waved goodbye and the Suna-nin left.
"We should take as much time as possible and look around. The location seems to be part of the city.", the Nara announced and so they walked as slow (but still not too slow) as possible through the filled streets to their location.
The closer they came to that location, the more the skyscrapers began to deteriorate and nature to take over. But metal, stone, and rubble were most prominent.
"Closed-ranged fighters will have a huge disadvantage."
"Guess we have to be stealthy then.", Raidon huffed.
"We don´t know what we will have to do yet.", Hiraku stated.
"You think it will be a team exam again?"
"Possibly, but be prepared to be on your own."
"For your next task, you will be placed into random pairs. Survive the next week and reach the final destination. Your first tip is in your mission scroll. You are not bound to finish this task with your assigned partner. Only the first twenty of you will continue to the final round. Once assigned, the team has to leave immediately. The teams are announced on the big screen.", another body-less voice declared.
Team 6: Gaara of the Desert, Sunagakure and Kuma Shiranui, Konohagakure.
"See you at the finals.", Hiraku and Raidon nodded their goodbyes.
The pair walked in silence until they reached the ninja that would give them their first mission scroll.
"These are coordinates. It also states that we will receive our real task there.", the redhead stated.
"Why don´t you talk?", he asked another hour later, "You can talk. So why don´t you?"
"I do.",she signed her answer.
"Yes. We have a mission to complete together."
"Like this. I use a jutsu that allows me to speak in someone's head. It is similar to a Genjutsu. I don´t use it without the others' permission.", Kuma answered, "My Clan never allowed me to speak."
"Your cousin is with Iron. Yet you are with Konoha.", he stated without any emotion in his voice.
For a moment she contemplated. Should Kuma tell him her story or at least part of it? He is an enemy ninja, one whose village is in an alliance with Konoha, but still.
"I left and was adopted.", she finally answered, "I don´t want to talk about it."
"Understood. Sun will go down shortly. We make camp in that ruin over there."
They reached their destination two hours after sunrise the next day. In an open area in the middle of an intersection stood another ninja with another scroll.
"Something is off.", she told her partner.
"What do you mean?"
"His scent is off. It´s like a mixture of bones and wood. But at the same times, he smells alive."
"You can smell him?"
"Yes, though I am not as good as the Inuzuka with their ninken."
"Anything else you noticed?"
"No. We seem to be alone."
With his sand swirling around their feet the two walked over to the ´ninja´.
"Team- number?", he asked, his voice sounding just as slightly off as his scent was.
"Your mission is to find a missing-nin and bring the information he carries to the location mentioned in this scroll. Four other teams have the same target. So better be quick. Only one team can finish with the information he carries.", he stated.
Exchanging a short look the two genin flickered away.
"Do you want to stay and wait for the other teams to show up?"
"Okay. What does the scroll say?"
"It only contains another set of coordinates and a picture of our target."
"You think he is a real missing-nin or just staging as one?"
"And what would be the difference?", he countered, a hint of annoyance in his voice.
"Weather they stay alive or not. A real missing nin will not be missed if they die. If it is simply a proctor who stages as one, then there could be problems for us if they die. I suggest we try and keep him alive. What village do you think they are from? I cannot see a headband."
"It is not one of ours, and I haven´t seen him in the BINGO book. He may be one of the smaller countries."
They had been walking another three hours until the sound of pained wailing reached their ears. Exchanging looks team six took to the canopy of a few trees that stood nearby for cover and to get an overview of the area in question.
Then they saw her, another Genin cowered on the cracked open old street beneath them. Blood surrounded her and her skin was covered in bleeding cuts.
A gust of wind rolled over her and Kuma landed next to that person as soon as she breathed it in. At her feet laid another Konoha Genin. Ria.
Her body lay broken, her hair ripped out of her head.
"Ria. It´s me, tell me how to help you.", Kuma whispered, her hands ghosting over her comrades' body.
"It hurts.", the injured girl sobbed, "Make it stop."
"Who did this?"
"The one you called cousin. We were paired-"
Hot rage burned through Luna´s veins and her vision turned red.
"He will pay.", she promised, a deep growl resonating in her chest while she did so ," Now allow me to help you."
"Please.", Ria whimpered again.
"Gara-san, please secure the area. I need to help her."
A wall of sand surrounded them within a second.
Using every single bit of her medipack Kuma cleaned and bandaged the injuries.
"We need to find our target."
"I will carry her. She won´t keep us back."
"Who is your teams Target?", Gaara demanded to know and with another whimper, Ria answered.
"A missing-nin with green hair and a scar through the left eye."
"That´s ours as well. We find our target, we find yours. How do you plan in finding him?"
Biting her thumb, Kuma started to summon Kaji.
"This Kitten has called upon Kaji. Kaji wonders why.", the cougar purred next to them a second later.
"You told me to be able to be stealthy one has to be able to track."
"That is what this Cougar has said. And it is what this cougar believes. Does the Kitten wish for Kaji to track the one that hurt the other Kitten in her litter?"
"Then the kittens should follow this Cougar, the track is easy to follow and not made by someone able to be stealthy."
With Ria secured on Kuma´s back, the group of three followed the big feline through the crumbling city jungle.
Half a day passed until they came to a stop near a broken bridge. They had to make a few stops and detours to not run into any other team. They had decided to preserve as much strength as possible until they encountered their target. Missing Nin were strong after all. At least most of the time.
"That target is no longer alone. A Tomcat is with him.", Kaji purred just when the sun was going down.
"Thank you, Kaji. If you wish you can leave now."
"If that Kitten needs this Cougars help again, that kitten can call.", she rumbled and with a poof, the Summon was gone again.
"They are from the same village. How good can you see at night?", Kuma hummed, a plan already forming in her head. She remembered her cousin had a certain fear of monsters in the dark tunnels of their clans' mines. If he still had them, they could use the darkness of the night to their advantage.
"As good as any capable shinobi. Why wait?", the redhead answered, a tint of annoyance in his voice.
"He is afraid of monsters in the dark.", she grinned almost excited, she could not wait for him to shiver in fear like she had done so many times in the past.
"We wait to see if they have information on our target and strike when it is dark.", he hummed.
It was a loud noise of bones breaking that woke up their target. Gaara had unceremoniously used his sand to engulf the uninteresting enemy and simply crush him. The sound reminded her of the day were a mine had collapsed not too far away from her and buried three clansmen under the rubble.
Stumbling to his feet, the cousin tried to run, but his feet suddenly sunk into the ground.
"There is no running from Monsters in the dark, cousin.", Kuma breathed into his left ear. But when he turned around there was none there.
"You are not afraid of the darkness. Are you?", she whispered into the right one and disappeared beneath the earth again.
Beneath the earth, she grabbed one of his ankles and broke it. His screams resonated through the earth.
"Shhhh, that was just a gentle touch, you don´t want others to think you are weak. Don´t you?", she chuckled back words once spoken to her.
"What do you want from me monster?", he shouts, she broke his other ankle.
Instead of an answer, she continued breaking his bones, one by one.
They had already established during their wait that her cousin knew nothing about their target.
But in the end, she would not give him the satisfaction of a quick death. This is a Genin Exam, he should be able to get out of the earth all by himself even when half his bones were broken. She had only broken those bones after all, that her Cousin and Uncle had broken of her in the past.
"We may leave.", she announces.
"You let him live?"
"He is not worth the satisfaction of a quick death."
It took them two days to find their target. Impaled on some black metal rods, with a pentagram etched into his skin and a scroll shoved down his throat.
Using their abilities the team of three searches the surrounding area for any hidden trap. There was nothing to be found and so they stepped closer.
"What happened here?", Ria frowned, her eyes trained on the dripping blood.
"He died not too long ago. The Information is still intact.", Gaara answered.
"We should leave quickly. He does not smell like any of the other Genin. Whoever did this is not one of us participants.", Kuma answered, smelling the air.
Not wanting to meet the culprit they flickered away and did not stop for another two hours on their way to the final meeting point.
"Didn´t the Proctor say only one team can finish with the Information?", Ria asked during their short break, "Doesn´t that mean I won´t be able to finish?"
"I don´t think that will be a problem. The first Proctor stated that we are not bound to finish in our teams.", Kuma answered with a shrug, "I tend to belief the first and main Proctor."
"We will know soon. We are only One hour away from the final location.", the redhead ended the discussion, "Open the scroll and remember what's inside. We have to deliver the Information, not the scroll."
Understanding what he meant they opened the scroll and memorized the drawing that was inside.
"Did a child draw that?", Ria laughed in disbelief. Gaara had one of his eyebrows raised and Kuma had to suppress a snort.
Their eyes had been greeted by a drawing of a tree with eyes and a red sun that looked more like a flower.
The lines were wavy at best and most of the coloring was outside the lines.
Knowing it could be a code, they edged everything they could in their brains. Once they had memorized everything, the scroll was burned.
"The information?", a body-less voice spoke the second the three Genin had reached their destination.
"Memorized and Destroyed.", Gaara answered.
"Names and Team number?"
"Kuma Shiranui, Team 6, Gaara of the Sand, Team 6."
"Ria Kuria, Team 9.", Ria added.
"The rest of Team 9?", the voice asks.
"No idea. He left as soon as he could.", Ria shrugged, venom in her voice.
"You may enter." the voice announced and a door appears before them.
A door that had a picture on it. But it was not their picture. It was slightly off.
So they waited.
A minute past and the picture changed. Again not theirs.
All three of them getting more and more annoyed. Finally, after nearly fifteen minutes of waiting the right picture showed up and all three of them enter at once.