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Have you got your lunch?
Hitoriaruki Inoue looked up from where she had been sitting on the floor packing her bag at her sister. “My lunch?” she asked, before her eyes widened on her. She groaned before sighed. “I'm gonna be late... I'm not cut out to be a ninja, am I?” she asked rhetorically, but shot a glare at Nana as the older girl shook her head in agreement, her nose scrunched with a smirk.
It's a good job I made it for you, then, isn't it?” Nana said, pulling a bento box from behind her back. She shook it.
Oh Nana, you're a life saver!” Ria sighed in relief. She swore to herself that she would get up earlier tomorrow and make it, herself. As much as she appreciated the gesture, Nana's taste buds seemed to favour less flavour than her own.
I'm such a good sister,” Nana remarked in one of her tones, where Ria couldn't tell if she was joking or not. She just smiled awkwardly in response.
Not if I return the favour...” she mumbled as she stuffed the last things back into her bag. Dragging herself to her feet, she reached for the bento box, but Nana pulled it out of the way before she could grab ahold of it. She shot her sister a look a cross between confusion and irritation.
Magic word,” Nana said firmly, and Ria just sighed.
Thank you. Can I go now?” she asked, and Nana just smiled as she handed her younger sister the lunch box. Ria pushed it into her back along with the other numerous items. Nana watched her for a moment before a rare look of sympathy donned her expressions.
You're nervous.” Ria shook her head quickly in response.
I'm really not, she responded in defence, before patting her older sister on the shoulder and bounding out of the front door in a hurry.
Sure. That's why you remembered a raincoat and not your shoes... Nana muttered rolling her eyes as Ria burst back in and grabbed her shoes, deciding that she should just carry them as there was supposedly no time to put them back on. She waved goodbye before racing back out again, and down the road.
I'm proud of you Hitoriaruki... and they would be too, if they could be bothered to even look at you.” She glanced over at the bookshelf, where a side-facing photo frame sat between the dusty books.

Ria bounded down the road, trying to put one of her shoes on at the same time. Ria was, in fact, early. However, late – for Ria – was anywhere between ten minutes early and on time. She couldn't stand anyone getting there before her. She supposed the kids in class must have thought she was weird. She hadn't ever said a word to any of them, and although she had forced herself to be 'average' in every subject, even those that she actually excelled in, she supposed that simply because she was there before the teacher, she must have looked like a bit of a nerd.
Sitting at the back, in the corner, had had its many advantages. For instance, she knew all about the two she had been put into a group with. Katsu Kaen had nearly failed almost every theoretical examination he had ever been handed, but made up for it in every vocational exam. Ria personally reckoned that if he spent half the time he trained for, studying, then he might have done much better, because he didn't seem unintelligent. He was just distracted by the physical side of being a shinobi. He was muscular, but in her opinion, completely unattractive due to being too muscular. At least... too muscular for a twelve year old boy.
Ria, herself, reserved training for after she had learned just the right amount of information to pass with an average grade in all her written pieces. She would read up on the stuff for extra credits the night after the exam, instead of sleeping. She didn't like sleeping at all, much to Nana's disdain. The two of them shared a room and Ria had learned that Nana loved sleep almost as much as she loved to be in the right.
She shook those thoughts from her head as she recalled everything she knew about Taro Asakura, her other team member. She could not deny that he had a lot of determination in him, but it didn't often seem to get him anywhere due to his incredible sense of cowardice drifting about, and often obscuring his view of the goal. To be blunt, he was a bit of a baby and Ria didn't like it. She had therefore decided that the space in her class, at the Academy, had been wasted on him and should have been gifted to someone far braver, and far more talented than him.
The idea of having the Kaen in her group was promising, but she didn't want that Taro boy to hold them both back. Maybe some help from a Kaen sensei would help. She had briefly met their mentor the previous afternoon, and had liked her quite a lot. She seemed intelligent and had the courage that all Kaens seemed to have. A lot of confidence. Hopefully, some of that confidence would rub off onto Taro.

Ria arrived at the meeting spot, a small opening in a cluster of trees with some training logs, with twenty minutes to spare, and so she sat down and decided to read until anyone else showed up. She had lied to Nana. She was nervous. She hadn't ever talked to either of the boys before, and had only grunted a quiet hello to Azami Kaen, their sensei. She didn't know what they were like, and as the register had said, she had been called 'Hitoriaruki' by her new sensei, and because she hadn't said anything about it there and then, she felt too awkward to now correct her. That was something she wasn't much looking forward to, still. It had to be done. She lost herself inside the world of her science book and tried to forget about the world, whilst simultaneously keeping an ear open for anyone approaching.
She also couldn't help but to worry about what they would think of her when they discovered that she wasn't the 'average' student and was actually far smarter and far stronger than she let on. Would she look like a liar? Would they not trust her? No. There was no forgetting about the world today, for Ria.
"Enough.."
Katsu Kaen came flying out into the street on his back, rolling on the floor until he crashed into a wooden wall the separated the street from someone private property. His back rested on the wall but he was standing upside down on his neck, a pained expression and a bruise on his face. "Gah! Dammit Onii-san!" He cried out in pain as he flipped himself around rubbing his cheek. His older Brother Yusuke Kaen came out the door he had just been tossed out of. "We're gonna be late now cause you wanted to fight today." Yusuke groaned placing a hand ontop of his head and shaking it in disappointment. Every-morning was the same. Katsu would try and surprise attack his Older brother hoping to beat him, though it was to no avail."You're gonna get me in trouble with the Hokage being late the first day on the job." He said as he tossed a back of supplies over to his little brother.

Katsu caught bag in surprise as he was distracted by Natsuko leaving from the house next door. "Dammit why do i have to be in Azami's Team..Why can't Natsuko be my Sensei.." He complained as he got up brushing off the dirt from his clothes as best he could before slinging the bag straps over his shoulders. "That's because Natsuko is too nice to you, you need someone who can discipline you better, besides Azami is a great Ninja." Yusuke stated placing a hand on Katsu's head and ruffling up his hair with a smile. "I gotta jet, make sure you're not late and be polite to your teammates and Azami." Yusuke said with a grin before igniting his hands and feet in a hot burst of flames, and flying off into the distance.

Katsu sighed in envy as he watched his brother fly off. "Wish he'd teach me how to do that.." He pouted to himself before looking down the street, changing his rather immature face into a more serious one. "Yush! I'll sprint there with all my might and get there in five minutes!" He cheered out in high spirits, as he pushed off the ground hard, lifting up any loose dirt on the ground from the force of his footsteps as he bolted ahead with all his might.

Taro Asakura just was just slowly making his way over to the designated meeting spot his Sensei had appointed for a meeting, staring up in the sky with a rather blank expression on his face. Many thoughts came to his mind about his teammates, though none of them were about how he thought of them. He was worried on how they saw him and would treat him, making him not want get there quickly for fear of being picked on or teased. He knew nothing of Hitoriaruki Inoue other then that she, -like himself- kept to herself and didn't mix in with the others in their class. He convinced himself that she must have been psychopath with a thirst for blood and pain, doing illegal underground shady jobs at night, he also had a feeling that she was watching him closely and that he may have been her next target to fulfill her blood-thirst. The idea of being Teamed up with such a scared person made him want to quit being a ninja all together, but his parents assure him it's all in his head.

The next thing Taro knew was he was knocked off to the side by someone racing past him towards the training grounds. "Oh right..him too." He groaned to himself as he recognized Katsu Kaens, bright orange clothing and overly-energetic ways of travel. Katsu picked on Taro for most of his time of school for being a coward as well as a bit of a cry-baby. It wasn't his fault entirely, it all started many years ago when his father was killed in a mission. Since then his Mother had babied him and protected him from everything and he grew use to be confronted.

"Yes! First on- dammit.." Katsu began to cheer, thinking he was the first to arrive, however he noticed a blonde haired girl sitting down near one of the logs reading a book. He grunted in displeasure, not liking to be in second at anything he does. He made his way over to her looking around at the surrounding area, wanting to see if anyone else was going to arrive soon. He tried to sneak up behind the girl to take a peek at what she was reading, since there was nothing else to do at the moment.
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Ria Inoue had managed to read to the penultimate page of one of the chapters in her book when the familiar face of her Kaen comrade in arms appeared in the distance. She flicked her eyes up and glanced at him for a second before going back to the book. She decided that she'd introduce herself after finishing the chapter, or else she might forget where she was in the book, and a chapter number was far easier to remember than a page number – especially with a book as loquacious as this one.
The book was on quantum mechanics and this particular chapter had explained the harmonic oscillator in great depth. It was accompanied by basic mathematical equations, illustrating that the harmonic oscillator was one of the very rare quantum mechanical systems for which there was an exact and perfect, analytical solution known. She had found it most interesting and was glad that she only had one last page to read, when her Kaen team mate decided to try and read over her shoulder.
One of Ria Inoue's many talents was blocking out the world, however, she had never been able to ignore the irritation she felt when someone attempted to read over her shoulder. No sooner than had she finished the chapter, she snapped the book shut, calmly placed it into her bag and rose to her feet, all in one graceful movement.
Hitoriaruki Inoue, but if you would be so kind as to call me Ria,” she said, extending her hand for him to shake as she shot him a look that told him she knew that he probably hadn't understood a word of what she had considered light reading. “Katsu Kaen, am I correct?
She could hardly wait for Azami Kaen to arrive. She wanted to get the day over and done with.
Katsu Kaen stared at Ria Inoue for a moment, trying to think back on if he had actually ever heard her speak before, he was taken aback a bit from her sudden courage. Katsu had always thought she wouldn't be the type to speak up when someone else hadn't already spoken to her. "Erm, Ya, Nice to meet you," He finally responding to her greeting as he took her hand and shook it as gently as he could, though it was a bit long since he was still in a state of shock. Once he had collected himself he left go of her hand, as his eyes wandered down to the book her was holding "That book looks complicated..you can understand it?" Katsu asked still eying the book with a tilted head before looking back up at her. "Didn't know you were a book worm," He said with a grin on his face.

Taro was watching both Katsu and Ria from behind a tree, simply waiting for their sensei to arrive before he'd go in a mix himself with those two. Wanting to keep his embarrassment and teasing to a minimal of this meeting. He hoped she would arrive soon for fear of being spotted early, making himself look even more feeble then he already is.
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Ria shook his hand firmly and followed his gaze to where her book lay at the top of the contents of her back as he spoke. “I don't enjoy reading, if that's what you're implying by dubbing me a 'book-worm'...” she said as she cracked her knuckles out of force of habit, “I'm fond of learning. I've discovered that people only take you seriously if you're smart or strong, so I decided why not... why not both?” she asked, but it was obviously a rhetorical question. “As for the contents, it's quantum mechanics, and it's not complicated if you know everything required to understand it. Mathematics, helps. Of course, the mathematics in this book are nothing like what they taught us at the Academy. If we had continued on to be mathematicians, we'd be learning this when we were... probably about twenty,” she explained.
Ria squatted and pulled on the cords to close her duffle bag before closing the flap over it to make sure nothing fell out. “You're from the Kaen clan, I'm curious as to which of the abilities you've learned so far. I'm fascinated behind the science of genetics and clans are a large part of our genetics. The Kaen clan particularly captivates me. It's not just abilities, they're given – the whole genetic structure of the skin cells is changed around to make the cells extraordinarily resistant to heat. I would love to see a first-hand demonstration at some point, although I suspect that will probably happen at some point today...” she said, standing up again.
Also, are you aware that our other team mate is attempting to hide behind a tree. What's wrong with him?” she asked, the corners of her mouth pulling her expression into one of contempt. Yes. She could talk in depth and then suddenly change the subject.
Katsu scratched his head in confusion, having not expected Ria to be so talkative, since she was always so quiet in class. "Ya our clan is pretty interesting, if you put it like that," He said laughing a bit to try and hide the fact he only understood the jist of what she was saying, as well as his embarrassment. He's always felt intimidated by those who were smarter than him. "I've never been one for learning those sort of things," Katsu stated before looking around the surrounding area trying to find the the person she mentioned. his eyes narrowed at a tree in the distance where he noticed movement. "I'll go bring him here," He said with a grin as he placed his bag down on the floor.

Taro was breathing hard with his back to the tree in fear that he was spotted by them, he was to scared to check and decided it would be best to just leave for now and come back later when Azami arrived, however before taking two steps he felt someone's hand on his shoulder. His body froze and stiffened up instantly and he couldn't bring himself to turn around to see who it was.

"Yo Taro," Katsu said grinning as he began to drag Taro over to here Ria was. His grip was strong, maing sure he wouldn't try and slip away.
Taro eyes were watery as he prepared himself for the worst case scenario.
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Ria saw in Katsu's eyes as she was speaking that he had barely understood a word of her mention of the Kaen clan, and that he had switched off completely during the miniature lecture about quantum mechanics and mathematics. She found it hard to force back the feeling of someone insulting her as he stated he wasn't one for learning things. If he wasn't one for learning, then what had he been doing spending his time at the Academy? It was vital to become perceptive and intelligent as the best shinobi were not simply strong.
She wondered if he relied on anything at all other than his bloodline limit and his brute strength. Strength that was currently being demonstrated as Katsu literally hauled Taro toward her. She had been rather worried when she had seen the grin on Katsu's face as he had headed off to bring Taro over, and now she saw that she'd had every right to be worried.
Having expected Katsu to talk the other boy into joining them, she was not surprised to see the look of terror on Taro's face, the grass staining his back a dark shade of green. When Katsu finally let go, Ria squatted and held her hand out. “Taro Asakura? Ria Inoue – it's a pleasure,” she said, smiling as affectionately as she could.
Some people believed that being intimidating drove people to confidence. Ria was not one of those people. She understood that nerves came from already being intimidated, and by being friendly and making Taro feel supported, she was more likely to boost his confidence and calm his nerves.
Katsu walked over to one of the logs and rested his back against it, crossing his arms in front of his chest letting out a sigh. He watched Ria make an approach to Taro and just shook his head "I still don't understand why they grouped me in with this cry-baby," He groaned staring at Taro. "I don't even get why he became a ninja to being with.."

Taro stared at Ria for a moment in fear, he began to crawl away from her when she reached down thinking she was going to do something to cause him harm. He ended up kicking a bit of dirt at her by accident as he rushed to get up and hide behind the furthest log from both of them."S-S-Sorry.." He said quietly and quickly when he noticed the dirt on her now knowing it was his own fault.
Katsu tried to suppress a laugh.
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Ria let out a deep, heart-felt sigh as Tomo flinched and scurried away from her, coating her with a cloud of dust. She batted the dust away from her with her hand, and looked down at her clothes.
Although she hated to admit it, Nana had been right. Nana had specifically told her to get new clothes for when she was graduated, because she would get dirty. Ria had accepted that as a fact of life. Wearing white – no matter what one was doing – was never the best of ideas, and she knew she'd eventually get dirty by the end of the day, but so soon into the day? She sighed again.
It's... fine,” she grunted as she tried her best to brush the dirt off, only succeeding in smearing it around and rubbing it in. She glanced at Taro who was literally shaking in his boots. “Are you sure you're feeling up to today?” she asked, cocking an eyebrow. “Just relax, we're your team mates,” she said, then thought to herself for a moment, before adding to her statement. “Y'know... the ones you should be trusting?
Taro nodded silently in response to her first question as he tried to relax himself. She was right, and whether he liked it or not these were the people he was going to work with. From now on, he'd be in their care. Taro let out a long sigh to calm himself better as he stepped out from behind the log, though he still kept his distance from them. "P-Pleasure to meet you Ria." He said swiftly, bowing politely to her in greeting.

"Oh good you're all getting long," Azami said upon arriving with a big smile on her face, carrying a big wooden box about half her size in height and double her size in width. "Good morning everyone, sorry I am late there was a few things i had to set up for today's exercises," She continued placing the box down in front of herself wiping a bit of sweat from her forehead after carrying the box.

"YUSH!~ I can't wait!" Katsu cheered happily raising both arms into the air excitedly with a big grin on his face. His hand ignited with flames uncontrollably in response with his emotions.

Taro moved in a bit closer to the others now that Azami was here, he could always coup better with someone older around. "G-Good morning Azami-sensai," He responded to her with a smile.
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Ria forced a smile as Taro bowed quickly in greeting to her. She didn't like how filthy he had made her, but she supposed she couldn't hold it against him. He was just a cry-baby after all.
Her attention was diverted to the arrival of Azami Kaen, as the woman struggled onto the scene carrying a surprisingly large wooden box. Ria could only stare at it for a moment and wonder what was inside it. She looked up at Azami as the woman spoke again, explaining why she was late.
She was distracted once more when Katsu's hands spontaneously lit up along with his eyes when Azami had finished speaking. She smiled slightly and studied the hands from where she was standing.
Wordlessly she headed over the box and put a hand on it. “So what are we going to be doing today?” she asked, eager to get on with the day.
Azami's eyes scanned each of her pupils taking notes on each of their responses towards her, smiling while she did so, though her they stayed on Ria afterwards as she stepped forward. "I have two tests for you all, to test out your strengths in different areas that would be needed in a mission. They can only be accomplished by using the four most important tools of a shinobi," She stated stepping away from the box and stretching her arms out to limber up. "Can anyone tell me what they are?" She asked as she began to walk around the three of them, watching them closely as she did so.

Katsu grinning as he placed his right hand, (while still on fire) on his left bicep flexing it a bit, his left hand closed into a tight fist"Strength obviously," He said though he made it sound like it was the most important thing out of them all and nothing else was needed.

Azami stopped circling them when Katsu answered."Yes that's one," She said with a nod looking at the other two, hoping they'd know the other three

Taro began to feel a bit nervous again. After hearing what Azami had said he knew one of the tests would be fighting and he'd like nothing better than avoid being in one. Even if it was for training. Taro began to chew on his lower lip and bit as he watched the other two hoping either one of them would show any sign of nervousness like him. It'd defiantly make him feel more at ease knowing he wasn't the only one worried.
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Ria's gaze locked with Azami's for a moment as the woman turned her gaze to her. She felt awkward under her master's scrutiny, but didn't avert her own gaze. She listened as Azami began to speak, and part of her felt relieved. Azami seemed to be strict, but friendly. At least, that's what Ria was picking up from her tone of voice. She supposed that this team could have ended up with one of the really strange teachers like her older sister, Nana's, group had – Yoko Hyotoshi. A scary woman to say the least. Alternatively, they could have ended up with a teacher like Natsuko Kaen, who cut people far too much slack.
Her attention turned to the rest of her team when Azami asked if anyone knew what the four most important tools of the shinobi were. Katsu putting his flaming hand to his bicep particularly caught her attention. His clothes weren't burning, either. That meant that the Kaen clan must have had speciality clothes that were flame retardant. She decided that she might purchase some of her own. One never knew when fire-resistant clothing might come in handy.
She couldn't help but to roll her eyes as Katsu exclaimed 'strength' as if it were the only thing that mattered. She realised that she had been completely right about him. He was very much brawns over brains. Not a very attractive trait for a warrior.
Knowledge and technique are just as important, Katsu-san...” she sighed, and glanced hopefully over at Taro. She'd purposefully left the fourth and final 'tool' for him to say, partially because she wanted him to say it aloud for it to properly register in his mind. She gave him a look of encouragement.
Azami's eye shifted over to Ria when she spoke nodding to her response to the question. "That's right Hitoriaruki, and there is one more that's the most important." She said following Ria's gaze to Taro. She could tell Ria knew the other, but was giving Taro a chance to speak up himself, a small smile crept onto her face at how considerate Ria was being to her team-mates. She didn't stare at him long though as to not make him self-conscious and put too much pressure on the boy.

Taro remained silent for a moment waiting for Ria or Katsu to answer the last 'tool' a shinobi would need. He began to realise that Ria was looking at him though, trying to egg him on to answer it. He couldn't help but feel a bit pressured, though he got the feeling she may only have good intentions for wanting him to speak up. Taro took a deep breath before speaking. "And Teamwork."

Azami turn her head back to Taro and beamed at him trying to show as much encouragement as she could for him speaking up and answering it correctly. "Very Good Taro." She said in an enthusiastic tone, putting both hands together in front of herself trying to show that she was impressed. "Inside the forest to my left is your first exercise. I want you to Capture a, 'Dog' That I left loose in there, bring it back here a hour and we'll move on to the next test. Fail to do so and there will be a punishment." She said sweetly pulling out a stop watch, waiting for them to get organised before starting it.
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Ria cringed with a flinch as Azami called her 'Hitoriaruki'. She had always hated that name. No, she had <i>loathed</i> it. Nana still called her by it, telling her that it was what their parents had chosen to name her, and that she should respect their wishes. It was easy for her to say. They'd always liked Nana more and besides! Nana was a perfectly reasonable name. Hitoriaruki? That was a phrase; not a name. She decided that she'd tell Azami later.
Ria had been worried that Taro wouldn't answer. He had glanced back at her and Katsu with an equally as hopeful look as the one she had shot his way only moments ago. She was glad when he resigned and spoke out loud. She sent a small appreciative smile his way before looking back to Azami as she began to speak again. She thought that Azami's feigned excitement was a little bit unbelievable – even for Taro, but put it out of her mind as Azami continued on to explain their first task.
While listening to Azami talking, there were a few things that unsettled Ria a little. Namely, the way she had said 'Dog'... She also didn't like how sugary their sensei's tone had been as she spoke of a potential punishment as a consequence for not retrieving the dog. Ria turned to Taro and Katsu.
I propose that we track the dog together without splitting up. Dogs are fast runners and if one of us finds it and signals to the others, we might scare it off and it will most likely be able to run faster than we can,” she said as she strapped a kunai to her leg and pulled her hair back, tying it up. “Once in the proximity of the dog, Taro is the gentlest of the three of us – his job should be to lure the dog. To help with this, Katsu should scare the dog with fire. I will keep watch, and when the dog is with Taro, I will pin it and Katsu and I can use our combined strength, depending on the size of the animal to carry it back to the rendezvous point. Does that sound okay?” she asked, trying to organise the three of them, knowing that Taro would never step up, and that Katsu knew little of teamwork and would most likely storm into the situation, full steam ahead, unless there was some sort of plan. She looked between the two of them.

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