Date: February 5, 2014
Kumogakure chuunin hopefuls encounter Jon's test designed to isolate those who don't prioritize their orders.
"What If? Examiner - The Ideal Kumo Chuunin"
Mountains in the Land of Lightning
Utaguri wakes up with a fuzzy feeling in his head. It doesn't hurt exactly, he's just woozy, as if…somebody anesthetized him, or something. Gradually, his recent memory filters back to him. After following a scroll of clues through the hazardous mountain countryside, he'd managed to locate the hidden capsule containing his unique qualification code. Some of the other examinees had said it was just like the detective running this exam to come up with such an investigation-heavy test. With the capsule in his pouch, Utaguri was on his way to the goalpoint, when he spotted something strange going on. A kid from Amegakure came around a bend in the mountain trail ahead of him and was suddenly grabbed by one of the exam proctors and dragged into a cave. The boy had come to the exams alone, but he'd seemed friendly enough with everyone else in the waiting period before the exams, in an irksome sort of way. He kept bragging that his awesome bloodline ability would make the exams a breeze for him, though he wouldn't reveal what it was. Now he'd disappeared into the earth with just a brief yelp of dismay.
Utaguri hadn't known what to think at first. o.o Was this part of the test? Would he be ambushed before the finish line too if he didn't watch out? What happened to that Ame kid? In the end, curiosity and concern regarding that last question won out over other impulses, and Utaguri had carefully ventured into the darkness after the kidnapper. And then…
…the rest was a blank until Utaguri woke up here. 'Here' turns out to be a medium-sized room, fairly plain, with a single, glaring bulb hanging from the middle of the ceiling. Adjusting to the harsh lighting, Utaguri makes out the forms of several other examinees, sitting stiffly in chairs lined against the walls. As his vision clears, Utaguri realizes that the reason they're sitting so stiffly is because they're strapped securely down. Well, that explains the ache in his own ankles and wrists, Utaguri thinks as he squirms experimentally. -.- Utaguri takes another look at the other examinees present. He recognizes most of them, in fact, aren't they all —
Just then the door opens, and the head examiner for the survival test, Saito Jon, walks in, followed by that kid from Amegakure. "Welcome," he says, with a hint of a disappointed sigh, "to the special Kumogakure-only portion of the survival test. To be more accurate, I should say the second stage of it. The first stage was when you saw Otori-san here abducted." The Ame-nin waves cheerfully to the examinees. n.n "This was a test of your focus, your ability to follow orders, and your loyalty to Kumogakure," Jon continues as Otori leaves. "Most examinees passed this test simply by continuing on with the survival test. They're over in the rest area at the goal right now, swapping stories about their survival experiences, including the nabbing which oddly enough was witnessed at different times by every Kumogakure examinee. All of you are here because you had to drop your mission in the final stretch and poke your nose into a dark cave just to satisfy your curiosity." :P
A general groaning arises from the captive examinees. "You're gonna fail us just for that?!" protests a familiar voice. Utaguri cranes his neck forward and turns his head, spotting his team-mate Kougi a couple spaces to his left. Heh, should've expected she'd be here. She probably rushed into the cave without even thinking. X)
Jon raps his knuckles on a clipboard. "Pay attention! I said this was the second stage, didn't I? We're more interested in fixing this little problem in our potential chuunin than setting you all back a year. We've got a rail shuttle ready to take you to the goal area to rejoin the other examinees and proceed to the final stage of the exams, as long as you can pass a very simple corrective test." There is a murmuring of relief around the room.
Jon's eyes harden, and he raises a finger. "However. There is a problem. We weren't expecting so many of Kumogakure's up-and-coming shinobi to display this sort of negligence to the mission at hand. There are enough seats on the shuttle for all but one of you. So here's how it's going to work." Jon presses a button on the wall, and the straps on everybody's left hands loosens. "I'm going to ask you a question, a question with many valid answers. Raise your hand to indicate you want to give an answer, and I'll call on you one at a time. Anyone who answers to my satisfaction gets a seat on the shuttle, but you can't use the same answer somebody else already did. Whoever's last, too bad, you miss out and go home." Jon gives them a moment to absorb the implications of the test format, then clears his throat. "Okay, here's your question. What's one of the many reasons why going into the cave was the wrong choice?"
Hands shoot up quickly, eager to give answers before it becomes difficult to find one that hasn't already been used. Jon points. "You." "My mission was to collect my capsule and bring it to the goalpoint, nothing else!" pipes the indicated examinee. Jon nods and makes a mark on his clipboard. "Straightforward answer, good." Jon presses another button, and the rest of that examinee's bonds release. "Out this door and left down the hall," Jon instructs. The examinee scuttles out gratefully.
"Pick me next, pick me!" Kougi cries, waving her arm emphatically.
Jon shrugs. "Okay, what's your reason?"
"It was dark in there!" Kougi proclaims proudly. "I should've made a torch first!"
Jon sweatdrops. "Erm, not really the sort of answer I'm looking for, keep thinking. How about you?"
"The test directions specifically stated, 'Do not concern yourself with other examinees during this stage of the exams,'" an erudite girl replies. "At the time I thought that was simply advice meaning 'You don't have to compete with each other, just accomplish the task given to you,' but I see now that it was a command I should've followed."
"Incisive. Out you go."
"Oo, oo! How about, I should've gone back to the village and gotten help?"
"Um, no, and wait until I call on you. How about you?"
"I should've trusted that the examiners had a good reason for what they were doing."
"I should've realized the abduction must've been justified because a Kumogakure ninja was doing it."
"Okay. Let's see, how about — "
"Wait, what!? You're taking that as a good answer?!"
"Yes — Kougi-san, is it? — I am. What's your genius response?"
"Er, um, I should've realized it was all part of the test?"
"Closer, but no onigiri. How about you?"
"It was an Ame-nin that was kidnapped, it doesn't matter to us."
"Fine. Now — "
"WAITAMINNIT!!! THAT'S BOGUS!!!" The just-released examinee startles and hesitates at Kougi's outburst, but Jon waves him on and he flees the room. Jon takes a few slow steps toward the fuming Kougi. "I'm going to spell this out for you as plainly as I can. This is a test of your loyalty and devotion to duty, and I'm looking for an answer that assures me of it. Now, why was going into the cave the wrong choice?"
Kougi scowls vehemently. "'Cause there was a slimy snake like YOU waiting in there!" >.<
Jon sighs and shakes his head. "Looks like we won't be short of seating after all." Jon looks toward Utaguri, who has been sitting with head bowed thoughtfully this whole time without raising his hand. "You've been awfully quiet…Utaguri-san? Ah, you two are team-mates it says here. So then, do you think going into the cave is what a loyal Kumogakure chuunin would've done?"
Utaguri draws in a deep breath. "I don't know about that…" Utaguri slowly lifts his head and stares Jon in the eyes. "…but it's what a detective would've done."
Jon's serious expression morphs into a smirk. "Ah, you're a sharp one." Jon steps back and presses a couple more buttons, and Kougi and Utaguri are released. "Congratulations, you two have passed my test."
Kougi hops to her feet with a whoop and a fistpump. "YES!!! This means we get to go on the shuttle, right? Who's gonna get left behind though? I hope it's that jerk who said Ame-nin don't matter!"
Utaguri rubs his chafed wrists. "I don't think that was ever really an issue, Kougi-san. Worst case scenario they could've just done two trips, right?"
Jon nods. "Good induction. Actually there is no shuttle, those guys are being shown out on the far side of the mountain and they'll have to hoof it a couple extra kilometers to reach the goalpoint. You two we'll let out in the same cave where we caught you. But more importantly, whether or not you pass the rest of the chuunin examinations, I'd like you to consider joining the Kumogakure Police Department. We could really use a pair with your passion for justice and analytical mind." Jon steps out into the hallway. "We're going to the right. Follow me."