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A note from koforeme

And here's chapter 7. Hope that wasn't too long a wait after I promised to release them at once.

Shinku approached the seventh training grounds early in the morning. The sun was only now starting to rise, though technically, they were supposed to already have met. The training grounds were surrounded by a fence, but it was easy to jump over for a ninja. He was called there and the place was public to shinobi in general so it’s not like he was trespassing either. The fence was most likely there to keep wild animals in. Walking through the woods, he eventually got to the center clearing where the others had already gathered. The area wasn’t that large. It was only one training ground, in the end. And nothing like the famous 44th training ground either.

“You’re late!” Aoba exclaimed.

“Sorry, sorry. I overslept juuuust a bit. You know how far the Uchiha compound, well, former Uchiha compound is from this place?” Shinku made an excuse, drawing a sigh out of his instructor.

“Well it’s you guys’ loss. Now that you have all gathered I’ll relay the mission objective.” The teacher took out a clock and put it on a cut off stump of a tree, setting the alarm. “I’ll be hiding somewhere in this forest. You must find and touch me before noon, when the alarm will ring. Got it?” Everybody nodded, though not with as much confidence as Shinku.

“Then begin.” The teacher made the tiger seal causing crows from all around to surround him and conceal him, by the time they cleared out the teacher was gone.

“Sh-Shinku-kun. Do you have a plan?” Reiha turned to their biggest asset.

“Mhm. Gather up and I’ll explain it.” They huddled up together as Shinku went over his plan quietly, talking amongst themselves for almost twenty minutes. “Understand?” He spoke up in a normal volume finally. The two nodded. “Good.”

“But will we really be able to find sensei just blindly searching for him…?” Expressed some doubt Asahi.

“Don’t worry. I’m sure finding him will be the easy part. We just need to touch him after that and with this plan it’ll be easy. Let’s go.” He quickly ran into the forest, not giving the other two a chance to hesitate as they immediately followed, even doing so as he jumped into the treetops. Even as their teacher followed behind them, having been observing them the whole time.

Aoba sighed mentally as he stealthily followed the genin team, only allowing to lose sight of them for moments as approaching too close would have him discovered too easily. Even with the ridiculous idea that finding him would be the easy part, he couldn’t let his guard down against them. After all, they had Uchiha Shinkumaru in their midst and Aoba knew well that he was by far the most capable of the current genin. The Third had even gone as far as to say he might have skills equal to a beginner jonin or an experienced chunin.

Shinkumaru’s two teammates had had trouble keeping up with him at first, but seemingly got used to hopping through the trees, following their teammate after a while. They still weren’t going very fast, Aoba theorizing the Uchiha was holding back to let his team follow him. That was good. It showed that he had consideration for his teammates and he was willing to work together with them. At first Aoba had thought that the genin might be arrogant with how much praise he’d been getting, but he was glad to find that not to be the case. Even if he did take the leadership position of the team, that was honestly to be expected. Surely he’d advance to chunin in no time. He already showed some amount of the capabilities necessary for it.

Aoba would have to teach him better planning though. The plan he had made completely ignored the finding him part, leaving that to luck. Aoba didn’t know what he intended to do to touch him in case they found him, but the way they were going about it, it seemed he wouldn’t even need to worry about it.

Two hours of mindless running around the forest passed. Shinkumaru still seemed to be fine, showing impressive stamina for a twelve-year-old, but he finally succumbed to the complaints of his teammates as they stopped to rest, dropping down from the treetops and sitting on the ground, finally allowing the two genin who had been pushing themselves to catch up with the unfair speed of their leader some respite. Aoba as well, found a good spot from where to observe them among a tree branch with enough leaves to hide him.

He did so for several minutes. All until he heard a branch behind him bend. Turning his head, he saw the figure of Asahi jumping towards him from behind. But how?! He was observing them the whole time and they’d barely moved other than to speak after they’d caught their breaths! He prepared to jump up and out of the way only to find Shinku dropping down from above him. And to his side another branch bounced up from someone’s weight as Reiha jumped towards the teacher as well. The whole thing was almost perfectly synchronized. Even if Reiha was half a second slower it didn’t leave enough of an opening to escape in any of the directions they were coming from. No, normally he would be able to escape no problem even if they were perfectly synchronized, but there was no way to do it without being touched.

He’d been fooled! The ones that were resting must have been clones! But they had form. Shadow clones?! They can use that? Where did they learn that from?! But… even then they weren’t well-prepared enough. Even if they had attacked him from all of his blind spots they couldn’t attack him from the front which he was observing. The teacher simply bent forward, allowing himself to fall off the branch and adjusting himself in the air so that he would fall to his feet. He saw as the three genin collided into each other and fell towards the ground. Only to grimace as Shinku poofed into smoke and disappeared.

Aoba suddenly felt something grab his ankle, looking down he saw a hand grabbing onto his foot. He yelled as he suddenly felt himself being pulled under and before he knew it, he was neck deep under the ground while Shinku was crouched in front of him.

“Earth Release: Double Suicide Decapitation Jutsu, sensei.” He said with a smile to the incredulity of Aoba.

“… Looks like it’s my loss. Those shadow clones. When did you…?”

“Which ones? The one who was observing you while you were observing us in the clearing? That I did yesterday. The one who was following you while you were following us? That’s one the shadow clone observing you created before releasing itself to update me on the situation. The ones that you were following most throughout the day? I, well my clone, informed our team he’d make those while they were whispering the plan, then made and transformed those when the team lost you for a moment simultaneously dropping down to the ground and hiding. And the one with my team? I made that one yesterday too. I spent the whole night here in this forest while I sent him home and had him arrive today as if he was me all long.”

“…Then the whole blindly searching for me thing was…”

“Acting.”

Aoba sighed again. He thought he’d been taking this thing seriously but he’d underestimated how seriously he should have been taking it in reality. The kid had been playing him since the start. His teammates approached with smiles.

“Sensei, does this mean…?” The girl didn’t finish her question, but it got across exactly what she was asking.

“Yeah.” Confirmed Aoba. “You pass. Flying colors. Now. Could you get me out of here?” Shinku laughed as he grabbed his teacher and pulled him out.

‘Who knew there’d be a student who’d go out of his way to spend the entire night on the designated training ground just to have the advantage in the test. That isn’t the kind of thing a normal genin would do. Let alone a rookie one.’ Aoba lamented in his mind.

“Good work. From today on, no joke this time, you three are officially genin. From now on you’ll work together under me to complete various missions.”

“Yes!”
“Alright!

Reiha and Asahi exclaimed in happiness. They were finally able to become genin! But the celebration didn’t last long, as they remembered how little they amounted to in the whole plan. Shinku had done the most work by far. If he wasn’t there, there was no way they could’ve passed.

“Then are we free for today?” Shinku questioned.

“Yeah, yeah. Go do whatever you’d like. Gather at the same place as yesterday tomorrow morning.”

“The park with the bench?” The Uchiha asked.

“Yeah.”

“Got it. See you then.” He excused himself, walking away. He wanted to be there when Sasuke got home so he could ask how his test went. From what his best friend had told him yesterday, their teacher was quite eccentric, which was proven when Sasuke went out even earlier than Shinku’s clone today, without even eating breakfast. He hoped Sasuke wasn’t failed. Unlike himself, he didn’t make any preparations beforehand. Seriously though the next time Shinku met Naruto he would have to thank him. If it wasn’t for him demonstrating the shadow clone technique to the prodigy yesterday, he wouldn’t have been able to do any strategy like this. Shinku disappeared from the sight of his team as he was thinking things like that, nonchalantly.

“Um… Sensei.” Reiha spoke up. “Could you help me train sometimes…?” She didn’t know how good of a ninja she could become, but she at least didn’t want to be as useless as she was today. She needed to become better so that she could contribute to the team more. As it happened today, her role could have been taken by one of Shinku’s shadow clones and it would have been done better.

“Me too!” Asahi exclaimed.

Aoba, seeing this nodded with a smile. “Alright. Then from tomorrow on in addition to missions you two and me will have special training sessions!”

“Um… what about Shinku-kun?” Reiha asked, not wanting him to be excluded. They were a team, after all.

“Shinkumaru… I don’t think there’s much I can teach him.” Aoba stated, causing the two genin’s eyes to widen in surprise. A jonin had almost nothing to teach him? In that case did that mean Shinkumaru was already jonin-level at their age? The two, feeling defeated by this information and at the same time more motivated, decided. They would have to work hard to not just be a hindrance.

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koforeme

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