Ryoku thought to himself as the purple eyes of the dark-haired girl swirled into a fully-formed Sharingan. However, the fact that he was impressed was slightly suppressed by the fact that the students were whispering to one another. They must have felt that they were competing for the keys. Ryoku had to ensure that this was not a problem for anyone and that they continued to work together, or else this task was going to be harder on everyone.
“Everyone, grab a key and follow me!”
Ryoku said to the students, running through the gate. Hopefully it was clear that he didn’t intend to grab a key, so they didn’t have to worry about that. He wasn’t going to worry about them, but if he did
have to grab one, he would hand it to whatever student didn’t get one. It was neither fair, nor fun, to compete with students. Plus, he wanted to give them a chance to prove themselves, but if they did something careless or lost the key, he wouldn’t hesitate to grab it for himself.
Ryoku thought back to when he saw the scrawny one walking out of the Forest. He looked like he came from North, and since he didn’t seem to find the door that way, Ryoku decided to head a different direction. He began running west, making sure not to move fast enough to outrun the students. After a few seconds, he looked back and was pleased to see all four of the students in tow.
he said softly with a smile. He cleared his throat and began to speak louder so that they could all hear him while they were still moving. “Alright so we don’t have much time but we should do a brief introduction of ourselves and our talents.”
It was important that Ryoku knew what they were capable of in order to devise an efficient strategy for whatever trials awaited them. “I’ll go first. I’m Hitsugaya Ryoku of the Ishi Clan. I’ve been a Genin for like three years. Maybe four. And I train under the former Main Branch Sennin, Yuu Kenshin, in Unarmed Taijutsu so I would consider that my specialty. I know the odd ninjutsu here and there, but I don’t rely on those too much.”
He looked around at the students and gave them a smile and said, “Who’s next?”
Kei. Masami. Kosho. Yuuko. He listened to all of them introduce themselves and took mental notes of everything they said. This would prove important.
Not long after finishing their introductions, they came upon a clearing with a puzzle of sorts. Ryoku stopped running and analyzed it for a second. The metal plating seemed as though it was protecting an item of value, but it was also booby-trapped with explosives. Whatever was potentially in there could prove important to their test, or it could be a red herring to waste their time. Should they try to solve it, or keep moving and ignore it? The thought of the large, monster proctor sat in the front of Ryoku’s thoughts as he almost made the decision to ignore it. Then two creatures jumped out of the forest. If he didn’t feel pressured to make a quick decision before, he definitely would now.
How could he maximize time efficiency?
“We have to split up,”
Ryoku said. In his mind, he felt hesitant, but his verbalization was confident. If he sounded hesitant, then the students would be hesitant. Two of them would continue to scout ahead in hopes of finding the door, the other two would attempt to solve this puzzle, and Ryoku would handle the creatures. This was a genin exam after all. If these creatures were a combat obstacle, they should be easy enough for Ryoku to handle. He also stayed behind because this group was more likely to be attacked by the large monster if he was pursuing them from behind and he would rather be there when he showed himself. If the monster decided to go around them to the front group, at least Ryoku would have time to get to them if he solved the puzzle quickly enough. Now to decide who would be in which groups.
It was obvious from the very beginning that these academy students already knew one of the other students. This would make pairing them off easier. Their teamwork would be better if they were already comfortable with each other. Kei and Masami would be one group, Kosho and Yuuko would be the other. But which group would stay and which would go? “Does anyone have a headset?”
Ryoku asked, but judging by the looks of the students, the answer to that question was no. So, using that as an easy reason for splitting them up was a no-go.
So, the two that scouted ahead had to be able to take care of themselves in case they were ambushed by more creatures. Ryoku had watched Kosho and Yuuko fight first-hand and was quite impressed. He knew that if they scouted ahead, they’d be perfectly fine. But their ninjutsu would also be very beneficial for what he was planning to do with this puzzle. He remembered back to when the large, black monster first revealed himself at the gates. Kei was the only one who instinctively got into a battle stance. She was well-trained at the very least, even if she hadn’t seen combat. Which she might have for all Ryoku knew. And her friend, Masami, had already fully matured her Sharingan. A very impressive feat for an academy student. Those two would be just fine on their own.
Ryoku said, turning to Kei and reaching into his item pouch, pulling out a signal flare and extending it to her. “You and Masami keep moving forward. Try to find that door. If you find it, signal us. If you’re ambushed by more of these creatures, I know that you two can handle them. If not, don’t hesitate to signal us and I’ll be right there. But be careful, this signal will give away your position to the giant monster chasing behind us so be on guard. But even if you haven’t used the signal and that monster shows up, signal me immediately. That thing is strong enough to have to be handicapped to be a part of this exam, and we don’t even know what the handicap is, so don’t engage without me.”
Who was Ryoku kidding. He wished he could fight that thing since the moment he laid eyes on it. That’s all he really wanted to do was fight it. “Have fun,”
he said with a smile to Kei and Masami.
Ryoku turned to Yuuko and Kosho. “Your task is gonna need a little more precision and coordination. I’ve seen your skills and I’ve seen your brains in actions. I know that you can handle this. That thing over there..”
he pointed at the metal plate. “probably contains something we need to make this exam easier. But it appears to be heavily booby-trapped. We don’t have too much time to analyze the puzzle itself before that creature gets here so we have to act hard and fast. I’m going to try something that might be crazy, and I need you two to use your ninjutsu to dampen the explosion in case things go sideways. In an ideal situation, the explosion doesn’t harm whatever is down there. And be careful, we don’t know how the explosive tags are distributed. They could also be underground. We have to do this perfectly. I’m going to fight off these creatures and when you two are ready, I’m going in.”
Ryoku looked at them for a little while to make sure that they understood and that they were ready. When they seemed good, he gave them a large, goofy smile and said, “What a great day,”
and he launched himself at the closest creature as fast as he could and slammed his fist against the side of what seemed like the creature’s head. Then he shifted over to the other creature and kicked it as swiftly as he could. If the creatures would recover from his assault, he would be ready to defend his comrades until they gave him the signal.
Ryoku leapt up into the air above the plate and did a handsign, summoning five clones. As Ryoku and his clones came down, they each landed, two to a wire, and struck them, careful to strike at the exact same time, severing each large and small wire simultaneously. After severing the wires, he quickly brought up his arms to guard his face and brace for the potential explosion that might follow his actions.
[Dance of the Waxing Moon