92 Preliminary Matches Part 1

Everyone who passed the second test was called into a big assembly hall that could also be used as an arena. After everyone was here, Hiruzen appeared and held a speech about the true purpose of the chunin exam. He explained how it was to simulate a war between nations and how the exams are used to show off a nation's prestige.

Yuna, however, barely listened to any of it. She was scanning through the people who made it and thought about who she would like to fight.

'Well, Gaara is an obvious choice. I won't deny that I would have fun fighting Naruto and Hinata either, but there really isn't anything special about that. We fight each other rather frequently, after all.

Apart from these three, the only one that catches my attention is Rock Lee.

His center of gravity is slightly off while walking so he is probably wearing weights. He seems to put himself through incomprehensible amounts of training and despite that, his chakra level seems to be pretty low.

Seemingly no talent and yet he is willing to push his body past the breaking point again and again with unshakeable determination. He probably has some ridiculously impossible dream and despite not having the talent to reach it, he keeps pushing himself. Unwavering and without doubts.

Someone like that is worthy of my time no matter how weak or strong he currently is. For a person like that, there are only two choices: Reaching his dream, or death. Determination like that is something I can respect.'

While Yuna was thinking about who she would like to fight, Hiruzen finished his speech. A few moments later, a new shinobi appeared on the stage.

"*cough* I will be taking over from here on. My name is Hayate Gekko *cough*."

'Is he alright? He looks like he is about to die.'

"Due to there being too many contestants that managed to pass the second exam *cough* we will have to hold preliminary matches to thin out the crowd."

'Oh? Preliminaries? Well, I don't really care. What's with all the coughing though? This is rather annoying. Since none of the other jonin present seem to mind, it's probably a permanent issue. I don't think he can take stealth missions like that.'

After Hayate finished explaining the rules, which pretty much boiled down to one-on-one fights and no killing, a huge screen was lowered from the ceiling to reveal the first two fighters. After a few moments, the first match was decided: Naruto vs Chouji.

Yuna could only shake her head at that. Chouji won't even know what hit him.

"Haha, alright! I'm going first!"

Chouji, meanwhile, smiled a little.

'At least it isn't one of those weirdos from the other villages. If it is against Naruto, I might actually win.'

After everyone except for Naruto, Chouji, and Hayate left the arena and reached the spectator stands, Hayate started the match.

Chouji, immediately, made the first move.

"[Leaf-Style Taijutsu: Human Bullet Tank]"

His body became round and he started to roll at Naruto with quite a bit of momentum.

"Haha, a bold charge. I like it. COME!"

Naruto readied himself and as soon as Chouji was in his range he punched towards him.

At first, the clash seemed to be a draw, but after a few moments, Chouji was pushed back and, in the end, was smacked into a wall and lost his consciousness.

"Hehe, just because I like it doesn't mean I will go easy on you."

Asuma Sarutobi, Chouji's teacher who was spectating the duel, looked at Naruto completely dumbfounded. Overpowering an Akimichi's full charge with raw power alone is a ridiculous feat. He couldn't help but look at Kakashi in wonder.

"What in the world did you feed Naruto for him to reach such a ridiculous strength?"

Kakashi, however, only shrugged his shoulders.

"I would like to claim that this is my achievement, but it isn't. They have been hiding their abilities for a long time now. Guess they are finally ready to show themself publicly."

"They?"

Anko, who was here because she is Yuna's sensei, intervened before Kakashi could answer.

"Hehe, Asuma, just wait and see. I hope you are ready for a good show."

He raised his eyebrow at Anko but could see that neither Anko nor Kakashi were willing to say more, so he decided to drop the matter for now.

Meanwhile, the next match was announced: Sakura vs Ino.

After the two left the spectator stands and met in the middle of the arena, Ino couldn't help but smile wryly.

"Sakura, you..."

"Yeah, I know. Victory is impossible."

Ino widened her eyes when she heard that. She wanted to advise Sakura to simply give up the match and expected to be yelled at with some nonsense involving Sasuke in return.

Seeing the surprised expression on Ino's face, Sakura really didn't know what to say.

'Was I really that bad? That is impossible...right?'

She shook her head to get rid of the unimportant thoughts and answered Ino's questions before she could ask them.

"During the second exam, I realized how weak I am, but I won't give up so easily. I will become stronger and reach what I am aiming for."

When she said that last sentence, she glanced at Sasuke for a moment before her eyes focused back on Ino.

"I will lose this, but I won't go down easy, at least. So come, Ino!"

"It is good that you finally got your resolve. Fine, here I come! I won't hold back!"

*Five seconds later*

'Guess I should have held back.'

"The winner is: Ino Yamanaka!"

Ino couldn't help but feel slightly awkward while walking back to the spectator stands. She got pumped up for the fight and then knocked Sakura out with one punch. That felt really anticlimactic to her.

Yuna chuckled a little when she saw Ino's dissatisfied expression.

'I really wonder what she expected to happen. As far as I know, Sakura has never trained properly. Fighting against Ino, who, despite starting a little late, has quite a few years of training under her belt had an obvious outcome. Instant victory.'

The next fight was a girl called Tenten against someone from Suna called Temari and Yuna could only shake her head at the bad compatibility between those two.

'I can't help but feel a little bad for that Tenten girl. She pretty much met her hard-counter. I am not sure why she is so insistent on throwing every single one of those weapons at her enemy, though. She might want to learn to actually wield them as well, should give her quite the powerup if she can casually switch weapons mid-fight.'

[How in the world is she supposed to learn fighting with all these weapons? Even I know that it takes a lot of time to properly learn how to use a weapon.]

'Not really. Although I only focused on one weapon in my previous life, I still decided to get a basic level of mastery in most other weapons as well. That only took me a few hundred year... Oh, guess I understand the problem now.'

[...]

The next match was rather interesting to Yuna, not because of the strength of the fighters, but because Shikamaru somehow won it, while following his self-made rule not to hit a woman.

'Damn, if only he was more interested in getting stronger. I feel like he could have become someone seriously powerful. Too bad he is just a lazy bum.'

The next match was quickly announced at it was: Sasuke Uchiha vs Dosu Kinuta.

When Naruto heard the announcement, his eyes lit up.

'So, Mummy's name was actually Dosu Kinuta, huh? Well, my nickname was kinda close, so it's fine. I wonder if Sasuke can defeat him without relying on Orochimaru's hickey? Properly not. Well, even if he loses now, it's not like I care. At the current stage of the chunin exam I am no longer shackled by my teammates after all.

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