The Unforgotten Voyager
Sasuke coached me on how to deactivate the Sharingan while Shikamaru lectured Naruto.
“Get up Naruto. Your embarrassment is such a drag,” Shikamaru complained.
Naruto’s clouded mind cleared, viewing Shikamaru and Choji staring down at him. “Where did that grass ninja go?”
“How’s he going?” Sakura asked, walking over.
“Get down Sakura!” Naruto warned, tackling her to the ground. “Everyone get down! That ninja could be anywhere!”
“Naruto! What are you doing?” Sakura lifted her face out of the dirt.
“Oh, no! She got your pony hair – I mean hair! I’ll make her pay,” Naruto growled, shaking his fists.
“You are really one of a kind, that’s for sure. And I mean— you’re the kind that gets on my nerves,” Shikamaru bantered.
Sakura pushed Naruto aside and he toppled into the dirt. “Oh, that’s all.” She dusted herself off. “I just wanted to… change my look. I like it better long, but when I’m out in the wilderness like this and I’m moving around all the time, it gets in the way too much.” She smiled, putting on a brave face.
Naruto nodded, not questioning Sakura’s word, or the fact that the hair looked like it was cut by a four-year old. “So what’s your guys’ story?” He asked Shikamaru and Choji. “What are you doing here in the first place?”
“He’s so out of the loop,” Shikamaru sighed.
“He’s so out of the loop, he doesn’t even know there is a loop,” Choji agreed.
Ino assisted Lee to the group. He laid unconscious on her shoulder.
“I’ll take care of him,” Tenten told Ino, taking the limb ninja into her arms. “Pull it together, Lee! Snap out of it already!” she screamed, shaking him furiously like a broken piñata.
Lee eyes creaked open. “Tenten, is that you? What are you going here? Where are the sound ninja guys?”
“I came to help you out. What were you thinking, fighting them on your own? And Sasuke took care of them. Don’t worry about them, Lee.”
“Really?” He peered over at Sasuke, who I was assisting to walk.
“Lee…” Sakura walked over as he stared up at her. One of his eyes was swollen and half closed. “Thank you. Because of you, I was able to stand up for myself and I’ve become a little stronger. You too, Quorra. Thank you.”
“It wasn’t me,” I smiled, exhaustedly. “You did it all yourself.”
“Sakura…” Lee’s youthful eyes teared up. “Thank you, but I guess my efforts alone weren’t enough. Sasuke,” he turned to the Uchiha, hanging off Tenten’s shoulder. “You are as good as your reputation. Just what you expect from the Uchiha clan. I just got beat to a pulp.”
Sasuke jolted underneath my arm at the comment. He doesn’t understand the shinobi we were up against were no laughing matter while he handled them effortlessly.
“There seems to be another Uchiha to watch out for now,” Tenten said, skeptical. She stared my battered body up and down with a questioningly look.
“Wait, what?! Quorra! You’re an Uchiha?!” Naruto’s eyes were bugging as he did a double take. No one criticized Naruto’s abruptness. Everyone was thinking the same thing.
“I’m not an Uchiha,” I answered, not at all convinced. If I possess the Sharingan, the bloodline trait that only the Uchiha clan have, that means I have to be part of the clan… right?
“How do you explain your eyes then?” Shikamaru questioned.
“Yeah, we all saw it when you avoided that guy’s sound wave. You had the Sharingan,” Choji pointed.
“You have the Sharingan! Man, I missed so much,” Naruto whined.
“Told you you were out of the loop,” Shikamaru rolled his eyes.
“Your chakra levels went all out of whack,” called a voice. It was Neji Hyuuga deciding to join the group. His eyes deactivated as he settled onto the soil.
“How could you tell?” I asked.
“Neji’s kekken genkai is the byakugan. It allows him and any Hyuuga to see the chakra network within a shinobi,” Tenten informed.
Neji nodded affirmatively. “Sasuke’s was powerful, growing exponentially. But yours— I couldn’t even begin to comprehend what was happening. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Everyone stood with wonder, unable to comprehend it any better than I could. At least it made sense why Sasuke’s chakra became so powerful. It was from Orochimaru and whatever he did when he gave Sasuke this “curse mark”. But, Orochimaru didn’t lay a finger on me. What was my excuse?
“Hey, Sakura. Come over here. I wanna fix your hair,” Ino called, causing a ripple in the eerily calm river.
Sakura stared at her love rival questioningly until she gave a last minute smirk. “Yeah, I would like that.”
“We should be going,” Neji decided. “We have less than 24 hours left and we have yet to get a scroll.”
Lee looked disappointed, but understood Neji’s reasoning. “Right… goodbye Sakura. If you ever need me, I’ll always be there for you and I will become a stronger ninja,” he smiled at his pink-haired crush. Sakura smiled warmly back as Tenten and Neji each took a side and disappeared without a further goodbye.
Shikamaru, Choji, Naruto, Sasuke, and I were left standing while Ino and Sakura were together a small distance away. Sakura kneeled on the ground while Ino held a kunai knife to her hair. Long strands on uneven hair landed in Sakura’s lap.
At least they are getting along now, I thought.
Their voices got louder, allowing me to hear bits of their conversation.
“Why you sneaky little troll…hugging him like that, Billboard Brow,” Ino hissed.
“Haven’t you heard the expression: ‘All’s fair in love and war?’ You little Ino Pig.”
Or maybe not…
Sasuke stared shakily at his hands. “What’s happening to me?”
“What happened to me, too? I can’t seem to remember much besides Slitherpuss,” Naruto scratched his head.
“You don’t remember going Ape-shit on Orochimaru and his snake?” I asked. The news was shocking to me. How did Naruto not remember something like that?
“Orochimaru? That’s his name? No… It all feels like a dream or something,” Naruto said with a puzzled look.
I wish I could give them answers, but I couldn’t even give an answer for myself. “What’s happening to us?”
“Time to eat!” said a clone of shirtless, boxer wearing Narutos. “Shadow clone fishing jutsu. Bombs away!” Multiple back-to-normal Narutos jumped into the clear waters below. Fish flew into the air from the Narutos’ destruction while Sasuke threw kunai knives, piercing the tree with our meal.
After Sakura got her hair done by Salon Ino, we said our goodbyes to Team 10 and headed off. Since we were all battered, but more importantly, starving, I knew exactly where to take them.
“Come on, is that it? I only got three. I could eat that on my own. Go do it again,” Sasuke complained.
“What!?” Naruto yelled. Steam and water sprayed out of his nose. “If you think it’s so easy, why don’t you get wet and I’ll stand on shore!”
“Play nice you two,” I lectured while tending my wounds. “We’re all starving here. You’re lucky I even knew about this place.”
“Yeah,” Naruto huffed, scowled in defeat. “How’d you find this place anyway?”
“I fell in the rapids after being chased by three-eyed, blood thirsty monkeys,” I shrugged, thankful to find a section where the water was calm enough to fish. “Hopefully we don’t bump into those fucking abominations.”
“Sasuke, the fire is ready to light. I could use one of your fireballs,” Sakura called.
“Ugh, I have to do everything around here,” Sasuke complained, obliging to Sakura’s request.
“What do you think I’ve been doing!?” Naruto yelled.
After the fire was lit and the fish caught, we sat huddle by the fire as the fish cooked. The aroma was brightening my spirits already, and making my stomach growl.
“Man, these fish smell amazing! I could eat a whale,” Naruto beamed, licking his lips for emphasis.
I couldn’t agree more and happily bit into the fish. Its scales were a putrid green, with mutant teeth in its gills and a long tail like a lizards. But hey, food was food, right?
“They might have fallen into radioactive waste that will probably mutate and turn my skin green, but man this is good,” I spoke through vicious bites.
Everyone scuffed down their meal, not complaining as their food was shoved to maximum capacity in our mouths. Naruto looked like a chipmunk high on nuts. I surprised he didn’t choke.
“It’s already been four days since the second exam began. We’re sure not going to be breaking any records,” Sasuke broke the silence.
“I wonder how many of the other teams got there’s already and finished and just waiting at the tower,” Sakura wondered, staring at the fire.
“At least we have both of our scrolls and all that’s left is to get to the tower,” Sasuke concluded.
“Wish I could say the same.” I placed my head on my knees. “It’s bad enough I don’t have both scrolls, but I don’t even have my teammates.”
I stared sadly at the fire, feeling the mutant fish corrode in my acidic stomach. Where could they be? I haven’t seen them since the first day of the second exams. With it being days later, who knew where they could be. So much could have happened since then. Knowing Leda’s attitude, I was worried for her safety. And even if I was mad at Mae, I hoped she was alright, too. “I really should go find them. Like you said, Sasuke, there’s only 24 hours left.”
“You can’t go on your own, Quorra,” Sakura said, concerned.
“Yeah, believe it!” Naruto joined.
“But I don’t have a choice –”
“They’re right. That would be ill-advised. Look what happened the last time you were on your own,” Sasuke said.
I thought back to my lone days in these bastard woods. My near death experience with Gaara and my even nearer death experience with a horde of seriously PMSing monkeys. Not to mention the rapids trying to drown me and swallow me whole wasn’t exactly the icing on top of a yummy cake.
“I’m going to get water,” Sasuke stood and left, leaving Naruto, Sakura and I by the warm, now fishless, fire.
We were cleaning up when Einstein spoke his genius plan. “Hey Quorra, I know how we can get both scrolls without having crazy creatures attack or having to fight anyone,” Naruto said in secret.
“Look,” he took his pouch and emptied its contents on the riverside ground. One of the many things being scrolls that he lifted for show. “I got tons of them. You know manuals of ninjutsus and stuff like that. I could change two of them to make them look like the Heaven and Earth scrolls.”
“Don’t you even think about it, Naruto,” Sakura scolded. “Even if you could fake the outside for Quorra, how do you fake what’s inside? You couldn’t know unless reading it and that’s against the rules, idiot.”
“I think I got it all figured out,” Naruto pointed. “I think they got a secret code in them that will only make sense if you put both of them together.” The more Naruto thought about it, the more convinced he was. “Yeah! And the secret code is the password you need to get into the tower at the end of the exam! It makes perfect scene.”
“The only thing that makes perfect scene is that you’re a nimrod,” Sakura drove a knuckle to Naruto’s skull. “Can’t you get it through your empty head? We are strictly forbidden from opening the scrolls before getting to the tower.”
Naruto grabbed the top of his throbbing head with both hands. “I know, but if we don’t do anything, Quorra isn’t going to make it!”
The riled Sakura was silenced. She knew Naruto had a point and I did as well. The possibility of my team and I passing was growing bleaker by the second as we wrapped up the last 24 hours in this hell hole. We stared at each other with the same dangerous question. Was it worth the risk?
“I’m going to open and read the scrolls,” Naruto announced, more of a question than a statement. Neither one of us stopped him, both too afraid to move.
Naruto gulped as beads of sweat formed on his brow. His hand shook has it took several attempts to pick at the corner of the scroll with his short, worn nails. I felt like I was in Orochimaru’s paralysis jutsu. My eyes froze at Naruto’s hands, at the scroll. I knew that this could be booby-trapped, but my eyes stayed glued and my heart raced. Once in his grasps; however, he slowly lifted up the corner…
“I wouldn’t do that I were you,” a hand shot out of nowhere, grabbed Naruto’s hand and the partially opened scroll.
“I can’t believe you guys,” scolded Sasuke. His arms crossed with disappointment.
“Sorry, Sasuke,” Sakura and I said, looking down like punished children. Naruto mumbled some sort of half-ass apology.
Our savior stood next to Sasuke with his arms relaxed. It was the genin who gave us rookies some tips at registrations.
“You’re lucky I was coming along like I was,” said Kabuto with relief. “I’ve seen what happens to those who have broken the rules and tried to open the scrolls. They are protected by a powerful hypnosis jutsu. It will knock you senseless and by the time you wake up, the exam is over.”
Shit, I thought.
“Kabuto, right? What you doing wandering around by yourself?” Sasuke questioned with a skeptical brow.
“Don’t worry. I wasn’t taking either of your scrolls. I have both of mine already,” Kabuto reassured, reaching into his back pocket and pulling out both Heaven and Earth scrolls as proof. “I had a run of luck, but lost track of my teammates. I was just on my way to the tower now. You lost your teammates too, didn’t you,” he asked me. “Maybe they got the other scroll and are heading to the tower as well.”
Kabuto did have a point as it was possible for Leda and Mae to manage to snipe the other scroll. And if that was the case, the next obvious choice was to head towards the tower. Scroll or no scroll, the tower was the only logical place to reunite with my teammates.
But did I trust Kabuto? I thought back to what Leda said during registration. Besides the fact that he was a four-eyed bastard, he helped the rookies by providing important information and strategical tips. And, again, he was helping us, but instead out in the field. Why go so out of your way to help someone—and rookies on top of that?
“Let me guide you all to the tower. If you find your teammates and they have both scrolls, great. If not, I know a way you can possibly nab both scrolls,” Kabuto offered.
“How’d you know I didn’t have either scroll?” I asked in an accusing tone.
“Come on, it’s the best chance you got. You think you will be able to get both scrolls on your own?” Kabuto countered, pushing his overly round glasses up the bridge of his nose.
“Come on, Quorra. Let’s kick some ass!” Naruto exclaimed.
“Yeah, let us help you,” Sakura added. “You helped us, it’s our turn to return the favor.”
I turned to Sasuke for his input who nodded his head, agreeing. I growled in frustration. I knew what had to be done. “Alright, it doesn’t look like I have any other choice.”
“I’ll show you the path to follow,” Kabuto informed us. “But let’s go. It’s best we get out of here. The smell of that cooking fire will draw every beast out here. And not only animals… competition, too.”
Team Seven and I followed Kabuto towards the direction of the tower. We leapt through the trees on long, sturdy branches, each step closer to our target. It was better to take the higher ground since more competitors and predators were lurking on the grounds below. We moved swiftly as time was ticking and the sun started to set on the last night.
“Think there’s still other candidates out here?” Sakura asked.
“Oh, yeah,” Kabuto replied. “They’re out there, alright.”
“And how do you think I’ll be able to get a set of scrolls, then?” I questioned, trailing behind Kabuto.
“We,” Sasuke corrected. “How are we going to get the scrolls?” I smiled at my comrade.
“Just think about it. What do you think the most efficient way in finding the scrolls in an area as large as this? Searching through the forest for them?” Kabuto challenged.
“Huh, no?” I replied.
“No, you wait for them to come to you. The tower at the center of the forest is the goal, right? So, we head towards the tower, find a hiding space and when a team comes by with the scrolls, we jump and take them.”
“Oh yeah, I get it. Like an ambush,” Sakura calculated.
“Exactly, but you guys aren’t the only ones thinking of this. Every other team who is lacking a scroll will be lying and waiting just like you,” Kabuto warned.
“So, what? The more the merrier I say,” Naruto bragged, pounding his chest like an alpha male. “Whoever they are, we’ll take care of them. Wouldn’t want this to be too easy, that’s no fun.”
“Even at the home stretch, you can’t relax for an instant,” Kabuto gestured to Naruto.
The plan was set out, but like Kabuto said, you can’t relax – not even for a second. His idea was thought out by many others who were just as hungry to get their hands on a scroll. Even with the 4-man advantage with Team Seven by my side, will that be enough? We were all still sore and exhausted from the days before.
I peered over at Sasuke. His stoic look as he leapt through the trees. He should be in the most amount of ache, with whatever the hell that bastard Orochimaru did to him. Yet, it was impossible to read it on his stern, expressionless face.
And after all of this and we somehow do manage to get a scroll, how can I trust Kabuto or one of his team members not to steal it? There were people in here that steal extra pairs of scrolls for sport.
“This seems impossible,” I sighed.
“There’s the tower,” Kabuto stopped and we followed suit. “That means the end is in sight. Now comes the hard part.”
“Well it’s about time, bring it on!” cheered Naruto.
“Keep your voice down. You don’t want anyone to know you’re coming,” Kabuto shushed.
“Oh— right, my bad,” Naruto rubbed the back of his head with guilt.
“Now, what,” Sasuke asked.
“Now we find a hiding spot and let the waiting game begin.”
A loud rustle filled the forest air behind us. “What was that?” Sakura asked, fear flashing across her face. I jumped back with Sakura, fearing it was the monkey horde getting ready for round two.
Naruto instinctively pulled out a knife and threw it at the source. Crawling on the large bark of a large tree was a large bug with many of not-so-tiny legs. “It’s just a giant centipede.”
“Just a giant centipede.” Sakura shook with a blue face; arms brought close to her chest. “That thing gives me the heebie-jeebies.”
“I was saying, now we find a hiding—” Kabuto proceeded to say, but was cut off but an ear-piercing sound that brought all of us to our knees.
Sakura screamed while Sasuke cried out in pain. Even Kabuto was effected by it. His glasses shattered as he buried his hand in the soil trying to cancel out the noise, but there was no escaping it.
On the ground as well, I dabbed my ear, knowing there will be traces of blood. This was the first time I have ever been hit with this kind of attack and unfortunately understood why it was so deadly. And I knew who this attack came from.
“Long time, no see,” called a voice. Standing there was Dosu along with his teammates. Zaku’s arm hung lame, clearly still broken from when Sasuke tore it out of its socket, but one of his arms looked usable. Kin was no longer unconscious and ready for a rematch.
“You guys again,” I growled. The growling hurt my ears has I started to see double vision. Everything was thrown off balance and my stomach did flips in my abdomen. As a result, everything came back up.
There goes the radioactive fish.
“Told you we’d be back,” Dosu snickered. “We’re not the type of people to give up so easily.”
“Oh, yeah? I’ll show you what giving up really means!” Naruto yelled. He tried to stand, but the last attack still impaired him, it impaired all of us, as he stumbled to the ground.
“Naruto…” Sakura moaned for her teammate, in her own pain.
Sasuke was clearly struggling. His face twisted with pain and anger with his hands grabbing his ears. Sakura looked with worry.
I glared down at my enemies wishing I had the ability to combust them with my eyes. “I’m going to make you pay for this,” I spoke through clenched teeth. “You’re going to wish you never came back.”
Zaku pulled out a knife with his good hand. “I’m first going to deal with this loud one and then I’m going to kill each and every one of you, slowly. So that you see your comrades die a sweet, painful death.” He smiled, thrilled at the idea.
“She slept with the wolves without fear for the wolves knew a lion was among them,” I threatened. One arm wasn’t going to scare me off that easily.
Zaku didn’t appreciate the words of wisdom as he approached me. I tried to stand, but my legs wouldn’t move. My brain was rattled and my ears felt like fire ants were devouring them from the inside out.
Hovering over me, “Say goodbye, you sheep.” He took the knife and plunged it where my femoral artery would be. It was a mere inch away before it was knocked out of his hand. The blade soared through the air and hit the ground.
“What the-?” Zaku and the others searched for the intruder who ruined their fun.
Emerging from the forest, she was battered and bruised, but it was her. “’Sup fuckers.”
“Leda,” I croaked, tears of relief filled my eyes.
“Leda, you shouldn’t be running into these things without a plan,” Mae fought her way through a bush. Twigs stuck out of her short, brown hair as she weld a kunai knife.
“And who are you?” Zaku asked with annoyance.
She placed one hand on her hip and the other pointed at her enemy. “I’m Leda. The expert at sexting. The girl whose curtains match the drapes. The badass mothertrucker who’s going to kick your ass!”