Chapter Sixteen: The Final Rounds Begin
"Thank you everyone for coming to the Hidden Leaf Chuunin Selection Exam!" Lord Hokage announced. "We will now start the main tournament matches. Between the 10 participants who made it through the preliminaries. Please stay and watch until the end!"
"Alright, guys. This is the final test." Genma said. "The area is different but the rules are the same as in the prelims, there are none. You fight until one of you dies or acknowledges defeat. But if I determine that the fight is over…..I'll step in and stop it, you got that?"
Neither one of us said a word, we just stood there. We knew the rules, which meant that there would be no holding back. It's either kill or be killed. And if you didn't want to die, you had better admit defeat if you wanted to live.
"And there's one more thing before we get started, there's something I need to tell you." Genma says as he takes out the tournament roster. "There have been some minor changes to the roster.
"So I'm not fighting Dosu? What? The guy ran off and just quit?" I thought to myself. "So I'll be fighting whoever wins between Shikamaru and Temari."
"Aw man, I don't get to see you fight, Kazumi-chan." Naruto said.
"Don't worry, you will." I assured him. "I'll just have to wait until whoever wins between Shikamaru and Temari. And I'm really hoping I get to fight you, Shikamaru."
"Great. As if fighting one girl wasn't bad enough." Shikamaru groaned. "This is so troublesome."
"And what's wrong with fighting a girl?" I asked.
"Well for you to be fighting me, nothing. But as for me, if I beat you, I'll look like a guy who beats on girls. And if I lose, they call me a guy who lost to a girl. So it's basically a lose-lose situation for me."
"Shikamaru, you're such a damn buzz killer." I stated plainly. "Just lighten up and learn to have fun with it."
"Heh, easy for you to say." He replied.
"Now for the first fight, Naruto Uzumaki. Neji Hyuuga." Genma said. "Those two stay here, while the rest of you go to the waiting area."
"Good luck, Naruto." I whispered before leaving.
"Now, the first fight! Begin!" Genma yelled.
To start off the match, Naruto used his Shadow Clone Jutsu to attack. His clones all pulled out kunai knives and rushed forward. But just as they were closing in, Neji moved and got ready for them. Once close enough, Neji moved quickly and instantly eliminated Naruto's clones with no trouble at all. However, this didn't stop Naruto. He quickly summoned about a hundred clones and went after Neji once more.
Neji stood there, waiting like he did before. As he dodged Naruto's clones' attacks, he moved through the clones and aimed for the real Naruto. Amazingly, he made it through and attacked Naruto. But whatever Neji did cause Naruto's entire clone army to just instantly disappear. Not only did the attack made the clones disappear, it caused Naruto to spit up blood. But as Neji held Naruto, it suddenly vanished.
"Hmm, it was a clone all along. Not bad, Naruto." I thought.
Naruto came from behind with a sneak attack, catching Neji off guard. Just as Naruto aimed a punch at Neji's face, something happened. Instead of connecting, Naruto was sent flying back. Neji just spun around in a circle and sent Naruto back. Then without any warning, Neji rushed forward and started striking Naruto. Neji moved at an incredible speed and soon knocked Naruto back. However, that didn't keep Naruto down for long.
When everyone thought that Naruto was down and out, Naruto surprised them when he got back up and started channeling his chakra. But instead of the normal blue chakra appearing, red chakra took its place.
"The Nine-Tails' Chakra." I thought. "He learned how to call it forward. He's improving."
With his red chakra flowing, Naruto was able to overcome Neji's Rotation defense. He soon summoned a clone, which fought Neji. And as soon as Neji's defense was down, the real Naruto appeared and struck him with a powerful uppercut. The punch was so strong that Neji couldn't get back to his feet.
"Winner, Naruto Uzumaki!" Genma announced.
With that said; the entire arena burst into a fit of cheers and clapping. Naruto has certainly impressed them with his strength. He actually put up a great fight and won as well. Naruto's expression soon brightened as he looked around to see everyone clapping and cheering just for him. Before long, Naruto came into the waiting room with the rest of us. Shikamaru quickly congratulate Naruto on a job well done, making Naruto smile even bigger.
"Kazumi-chan!" Naruto as he walked over to where I was standing. "Did you see? I won! I defeated Neji Hyuuga!"
"I saw Naruto. You did an amazing job out there." I told him. "I never doubted you."
"Hehe; thanks Kazumi-chan." Naruto said happily.
"Keep this up and you'll definitely become stronger than Sasuke." I told him.
"Wow! You really think so?" he asks.
"Of course." I said as I smiled.
"Uh, speaking of which. Do you have any idea where Sasuke is?" he asks.
"I have no clue." I answered. "All I know is he better show up."
We all just stood there, looking out towards the battlefield. The audience was becoming furious as they continued to wait for the next match to begin, which was Gaara versus Sasuke. However, Sasuke had yet to arrive. Naruto and I were beginning to worry. If Sasuke didn't get here soon, he might be disqualified and won't be able to continue on with the exams. We soon saw a ninja appear in front of Genma and the men exchanged a few words before he disappeared, leaving Genma alone.
"Ladies and gentlemen! The contestant for the next match hasn't arrived yet!" Genma announced. "Therefore. We will push this match back and begin the next one!"
"Phew, thank goodness." Naruto said with relief.
"Hey, this means my match just got closer!" Shikamaru yelled.
"And now the next match! Kankuro and Shino Aburame! Come down!" Genma yelled.
"I forfeit!" Kankuro said.
Naruto, Shikamaru and I all looked down at Kankuro. We all had shocked looks on our faces. Even Shino had a surprised look. I didn't blame them. I was even wondering why the hell would he forfeit his match without even trying. That's when I knew something was definitely up. That stunt just made him look suspicious if you ask me. But as soon as he said that, the girl named Temari unfolded her fan and floated down and landed beside Genma. She looked eager to go on with her match, unlike her teammate. However, this caused Shikamaru to jump into panic mode.
"Shikamaru! Get down here!" Genma yelled.
Shikamaru just stood there staring down angrily at Temari. But while he was distracted with that, Naruto figured he needed a little push to be motivated. So to help his friend out, Naruto gave Shikamaru a push, literally. Naruto's stunt caused Shikamaru to fall over the safety bar.
"Alright! Shikamaru, go for it!" Naruto yelled.
"When I thought you were going to give him a push, I never thought you would give him an actually push Naruto." I told him. "He fell over well over ten feet to the ground."
"Aw, come on Kazumi-chan. He's fine." Naruto assured me.
After falling and landing hard, Shikamaru just laid there for a minute. Temari soon rushed forward to attack, even when Genma didn't officially start the match yet. She got close and slammed her fan down, causing dust to rise in the air. Once it cleared, she found Shikamaru up against the wall. Throughout the fight, Shikamaru fought back hard against Temari. Naruto and I had no doubt that he was going to come out with the win. And when he had Temari in a position where the match was over, he shocked us when he just gave up.
"Winner, Temari!" Genma asked.
"Are you freakin' kidding me?! Idiot! What the hell are you doing, Shikamaru?!" Naruto yelled angrily.
"Well, that was certainly… unexpected." I said to myself.
Once again, the audience erupted into a frenzy of yells. They were just upset with the result of the match than we were. As I stood there, I was just thinking that these people were hard to please. They really want to see Sasuke fight Gaara.
Naruto and I had jumped down and ran over to Shikamaru. I couldn't believe he gave up just like that. He had her. Something told me that he didn't care anymore and just gave up so he could go lounge around somewhere. I bet ever cent that was the case. I didn't care if it was just partial of the real reason. Before long, we were standing right beside Shikamaru. Naruto really gave Shikamaru an earful but he went quiet when Shikamaru reminded him that there was another match.
"Huh? Another match?" he asked.
"Yeah, there are two in fact." Shikamaru told him. "You're forgetting about Kazumi here. And then there's Sasuke's."
"Now, the next match will commence. The contestants are Temari and Kazumi Hatake!" Genma announced.
"Well, I was looking forward to fighting you, Shikamaru. But I guess I'll have to fight Temari instead." I sighed. "A fight is a fight after all."
"Good luck, Kazumi-chan!" Naruto yelled.
"Thanks, Naruto." I replied.
"Temari, get back down here!" Genma yelled. "You have one more match!"
"I forfeit!" she called back.
"What the hell!?" I screamed. "Aw come on! She's not even going to try?"
"Wow. I didn't see that coming." Shikamaru stated lazily. "I guess she must have used too much of her chakra too."
"Okay, so that means I advance automatically." I said. "Now that only leaves Sasuke's match. But where the hell is he?"
"I haven't the slightest idea." Shikamaru stated. "But he better hurry. If he doesn't make it in time, they're going to disqualify him."
"Damn that Uchiha. He better make it here." I growled.
"If he doesn't show, I'm gonna kill him. I swear I will." Naruto growled.
We stood there, continue to wait for Sasuke. Lord Hokage had even given him an extra ten minutes. But surprisingly he still hadn't shown up yet. We could tell that the crowd was getting restless as they start to complain. Hell, I didn't blame them. Before long, the extra ten minute time limit expired and there was still no Sasuke in sight.
"The time limit has expired. So I'm officially calling this match…" Genma started but stopped when something caught his attention.
As Shikamaru, Naruto and I stood there, a gust of wind suddenly appeared. It swirled around in a vortex in one specific spot in front of us. Leaves started swirling around with it, but it soon started to calm down and two figures were revealed. It was none other than Sasuke and Kakashi.
"Sorry we're late. You wouldn't believe the traffic." Kakashi said.
"About time you got here." Naruto yelled as I mumbled at the same time.
"And you are?" Genma asked with a smirk.
"I'm Sasuke… Uchiha." Sasuke answered and then turned his attention onto us. "Huh? Hmm, what about you two? Did you win?"
"Of course we did, Uchiha." I replied.
"Yeah, BELIEVE IT!" Naruto replied.
"Don't get too excited, you're still a loser." Sasuke said with a smirk.
"Sorry to keep you waiting. How late are we? I mean, it's not like Sasuke's….disqualified or anything right?" Kakashi asked as he rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. Everyone looked towards Genma.
"Like master, like pupil. Even down to the sense of time." Genma stated.
"What about it?" Kakashi asked.
"You know, you're so late that they extended the deadline for you." Genma told him. "It's a good thing they did, because you made it just in time."
"That's a relief; you had me worried there for a minute. So I guess we're okay." Kakashi said.
"Come on, Naruto, Shikamaru. We should get out the way so the match can start." I told him.
"Right, Kazumi-chan." Naruto told me. "Oh and Sasuke. Don't lose to this guy, because I want to fight you too."
"Got it." Sasuke replied.
"Uchiha, if you lose, I'm going to give you an earful." I said before turning around to walk away.
"I won't." he assured me.
With that, Naruto, Kakashi, Shikamaru and I all exited the area so the next match could start. Knowing the crowd, their boiling point had already passed. They were all ready for this match and were ready to see what the elite member of the Uchiha clan could do against Gaara of the Desert. But there was something 'off' about that guy. Whatever it was, I didn't like it. Not one bit. All I knew was Sasuke had better not let his guard down for a second while he was fighting him.
As Naruto, Shikamaru and I made our way up the stairs, we stopped when we spotted Gaara. We hid on the stairs and peeped over to see what was about to happen. Two Grass ninja ran forward and tried to attack Gaara. Suddenly all the light shut off, Gaara sent his sand forward and crushed the two like insects. We just sat there, unable to move an inch after what we witnessed. Gaara soon appeared out of the darkness and walked pass us like nothing even happened.
"If we had come up the stairs a second earlier, that could have been us just now. I've never seen anyone in my life be killed like that. Things don't look good for your teammate." Shikamaru told us.
"Sasuke." Naruto and I thought.