[ "No one knows exactly what their future holds, they just run blindly into it" ]

---Chapter 1---

"Where is Kakashi sensei??"groaned Sakura, "and why is he ALWAYS late?!?" She was leaning on the railing of a bridge with Sasuke on her right.

"Yeah!" Naruto agreed, "Stupid sensei, teaching us not to be late and arriving like 2 hours later himself!!!!"

Naruto fell silent and paced around and around, deep in thought. He turned his back towards Sakura and Sasuke when he said slowly,"Maybe we should..."he stopped. Sasuke and Sukura both looked at him. Naruto turned around slowly and dramatically, "Maybe we should..." he repeated, "follow him.."

Sasuke snorted and turned his face away from Naruto. Sakura who was just about to say what a great idea it was, stopped.

" Naruto, you idiot!! How are we suppose to do that??" she said instead.

"Well, we could wait outside of his house tomorrow morning and follows him when he leaves the house."

Just then a voice said,"Who are you going to stalk, Naruto?" Naruto, who hadn't felt Kakashi's presence, yelled in fright and fell into the running stream below the bridge.

"Hmmmm...am I that scary?" wondered Kakashi. "So Naruto? You havn't answered my question..."

"Ehhhh...umm...heh heh... no one..."replied Naruto innocently. He was dripping wet and shivered in his clothes.

"Ohh well... it better not be me though..."

"Nonononoo.. anyone but you, Kakashi sensei.." laughed Sakura nervously. "So what's our job today?"she said, changing the subject.

"I'm glad you asked Sakura. I have a special task for you today."Kakashi replied.

"What? What?"asked Naruto, who got all excited and completely forget about his wet clothes. "are we gonna kick some bad guys' ass?"

"Well, this task requires teamwork more than ever because you'll be working with some people from team 8 and team 10. Team 8 consists of Hyuga Hinata, Aburame Shino and Inuzuka Kiba. Team 10 has Nara Shikamaru, Yamanaka Ino and Akimichi Choji."

"Wait a second...", interupted Naruto. "why do you have to work with them?"

"Hang on, I'm going to get to that in a second. Anyway, you nine genins will have to go to a secluded area, like the Chunnin exam, and the Hokage will set a task for you guys to do, and if you're wondering why, it's because the Chunnin Exam was...err...cut short, and the Hokage believes that you guys all have the potential to rise to Chunnin level. That's why she's giving you this extra opportunity." explained Kakashi.

When Sakura opened her mouth to say something Kakashi interupted, "The people who did not make it to the finals will still get to compete."

'Ha! I can show Ino just how much stronger I've become since the preliminary match.' thought Sakura happily.

"So, so when does it happen??" asked Naruto. He was so excited he was hopping on one foot to another.


"Heheheheh. Now I can show everyone the power of the future Hokage!"

"Well, today you can have the day off to do whatever you want, since the test is tomorrow."smiled Kakashi. Sasuke who hadn't said a word since Kakashi arrive, spoke up at last.

"What do we have to do in this test? Didn't you say we had to work with the other team?"

Kakashi only smiled his mysterious smile and said,"you'll find out tomorrow." Then he vanished. Where he was a second before were three pieces of paper. Sakura picked them up and read them.

"They're application forms" she said, handing one to Naruto and Sasuke. "It says we're to meet in front of the academy at 9 o'clock tomorrow."

"Thaaannnkk youuuu, Sakura-chan!" said Naruto accepting the piece of paper. "I'm off to train now! Bye!" He ran off to the pratice area, holding the form above his head.

When Sakura saw Naruto disappearing round the bend of the road she said, nervously,"I uh..was wondering Sasuke-kun..if we could...ummm...train together today?" There was no answer. Saukra turned around. Sasuke had left.

Sakura - .# (I use these lil symbols to show anime emotions because there are no pictures.)

---------- At the same time... ----------

Kurenai, who was in Charge of team 8 was explaining the same thing to her team.

"I'll get to see Naruto-kun!" thought Hinata happily.

"Hehehe. We'll show them what we're made of eh, Akamaru?" boasted Kiba. "This time I won't lose to Naruto!" Akamaru, barked in agreement.

Shino didn't say anything. He was just remembering the Chunnin Exam, a year ago.

Asuma, the sensei of Ino, Shikamaru, and Choji, was handing out the application forms. "I want all three of you to try your best, got it?" he said.

"I'll prove to Sakura that I'm better AND Sasuke-kun might notice my sexiness and ability has a ninja!!!"thought Ino cheekly.

Shikamaru looked at Ino's happy faces. He sighed. "this is so troublesome..."

"But sensei, Choji is injured," remembered Ino, "He broke his neck while practising his jutsu a couple of days ago."

"Yes well, then there will only be 8 gennins, this year."replied Asuma.

---------- The next day ----------

Beep beep- beep- beep- beep beep- Naruto's alarm clock went...beep beep- beep- beep- beep beep. About half an hour later Naruto fell out of bed. "owww" he moaned.

"What time is it?" He looked at his alarm clock.9:15.

"9:15!?!?!?" he shouted jumping out of his tangle of blankets on the floor. Within minutes he was dressed and ready to go, when he spotted some left over ramen from the night before he stopped and looked at the ramen cup. He turned and looked at the door. Then at the clock. Then back to the ramen.

"Uhhhh stuff the time... they'll wait for me.." he decided and walked over to the ramen.


5 minutes later Naruto was out the door, his belly satisfied. It was now already 9:28 and Naruto ran through the streets of people.

"Excuse me! Coming through...excuse me..."he yelled as he weaved through the people.

[ 9:39 In front of the academy...]

"Where is that Naruto??"exclaimed Sakura, "He's just as bad as Kakashi sensei."

For indeed Kakashi was late, as usual. A second later, he appeared next to Sakura. "Hi there Sakura! Everyone here and ready to go?"he asked cheerfully.

Asuma laughed and said, "Kakashi, one of your students is even later than you, by the looks of things."

"Huh?"Kakashi said blankly and looked around. He saw Sakura and spotted Sasuke leaning on a wall."Naruto?"

"Don't tell me we have to wait for that little brat." Ino complained.

"Jeezzzee, how troublesome..."

"Well I'm sure Naruto wouldn't miss this for anything, so something really important must have come up." Suggested Kakashi with a shrug, " I guess we'll wait..."

[ Four minutes later...]

"Woof woof!" Akamaru barked. Everyone looked at Kiba for a translation. Kiba merely shrugged and said, "Naruto's coming and he smells like ramen." Sure enough, a second later Naruto came running up to them.

"Nar- Naruto-kun, I'm glad you made it!", whispered Hinata shyly. Naruto who hadn't heard what she said was about to tell her so but Sakura grabbed Naruto by the collar.


"Hehehe.."chuckled Naruto nervously "heh heh"

"WELL WHAT'S YOUR REASON???" demanded Sakura.

"I uhhh over-slept and then i saw... i saw..."

"Huh? What did you see?" Sakura now asked curious.

"I saw some ramen on the table and decided to finish it or the ants and cockaroaches would get to them. hehehe"

**WHACK** %P

"So much for a good reason ehh, Kakashi?"grinned Kurenai. Kakashi scratched the back of his head and laughed.

"Ehh heh.. yeah..."

Holding his hurting head that had just whacked by Sakura he looked around. "Hey, I'm not the only one late. Where's Choji?"

It was Ino that replied,"He was injured during training a couple days ago." she explained.

"But couldn't Granny Tsunade heal him?"he asked.

"I did heal him, Naruto but he needs rest. You sould know that."answered the fifth Hokage, Tsunade, who was a medical specialist.


"So now that everyone is here..."began the Hokage. Everyone turned their attention her way. "I will show you where the test is situated. Follow me." She lead them to the rocky outskirts of Konoha and pointed to two tunnels in the cliffs.

"This is the entrance to the test." Then she held out a box and continued speaking. "Everyone will choose a piece of paper in the box, and their teams will be decided."she explained.

Once everyone took a piece of paper, Tsunade spoke again. "Team one, go to the left entrance, team two to the other."











"Now let me warn you," the Hokage said once everyone was in place, "In this task some of you may die- "

**gaSPP** o.O

"But that will only happen if you don't work as a team. Now the point of this task is to make it out to the other exit of the tunnels and it won't be easy either. I won't tell you what's in store but I warn you, if you don't make it out of there by Friday, you will never become a Chunnin!"

"WHAT!?!?!?!"shouted Naruto, outraged."That's really harsh Granny Tsunade.. Why??"

"Because" Tsunade explained calmly, "Those people who fail to get out..will be forever wandering in the darkness of the caves."

Sakura shuddered.What a horrible way to die, she thought, but on a happier note, Sasuke's in my team, so we can't fail! But then...there's Ino...she'll probably want to hog Sasuke... I won't let her!

"Ready everyone?"Said the Hokage, "On the count of three...one, two, three- GO!"

Both teams ran into the darkness of the caves, unaware of what would happen to them in the three days.