It has been sometime since passing their first test as a team and now Team Kakashi is ready for a more difficult mission. This time to the land of waves but their client seems to be holding back information that may make the mission more difficult than the Genin can handle.
Volume 2: In the Land of Waves
Chapter 8: A Troublesome Client
“It is hiding behind the bushes to your right” Miku listened to Hinata’s report through their team’s radio set, her clones already moving into position. They had a few missions already but none of them the kind of missions that Miku had imagined when she was at the Academy. Picking herbs was interesting and they garden they worked in certainly had a variety. Normally she had spent her time with flowers so plants of a different variety were a welcome change. Today they were searching for a cat that had a habit of escaping so much so that it became a regular mission for Genin. She was about to move when she felt something strange and turned in the direction towards a nearby river. One of her clones wasn’t moving.
It was a beautiful day and the clouds drifted lazily in the sky. She lay not too far from one of the rivers running through Konohagakure listening to the birds chirp overhead. It wasn’t that she disliked the work but did they have to work on such a beautiful day? It was a day for napping and not chasing after some silly cat that would escape again. She could feel her fox-like ears twitch as she heard a yowl in the distance. They caught it although the cat did manage to claw and make one of her fellow clones to disappear.
She could feel Miku moving in her direction. It was time to return. A puff of smoke surrounded her as Miku cleared the trees. Their eyes meet.
Capturing the cat had been a chore but they accomplished it. With Hinata holding on to the cat, Miku dashed off to check on the clone that wasn’t moving. For Some reason, she couldn’t communicate with it like the others. It was as if there was a wall of chakra between them. When she released the other clones that one clone did not release. As she cleared the tree line she could see the clone for one brief moment. Fox like eyes looked into hers. Fox like ears twitched. Fox like whiskers glowed red on her face.
The clone vanished in a small cloud of smoke. The clone only looked passingly similar to her but with red highlights to go along with the fox-like features. What was going on? The scroll never mentioned anything like this when she read about the art of shadow doppelgangers. Perhaps Kakashi-sensei would know why this was happening.
Turning in the mission, or rather in this case returning the cat to its human was a fairly simple process. The mission at least kept konohagakure in good relations with the ruler of the land of fire, where the village resided. The Ruler’s wife Lady Shijimi often lost her pet cat she named Tiger when visiting Konohagakure. This, of course, happened also in the capital and their summer palace as well, however, there were servants to send after the animal in those locations. So along with concluding trade negotiations followed the regular Operation: please find Tiger. This time, it was team seven’s luck or misfortune, depending on the outlook, to find the cat
The Hokage thanked them for another completed mission as he did with the other missions all ranked from A, which was reserved for the elite ninja, the Jonin to D, which were reserved for Genin although from time to time they could receive a C-ranked mission. Genin normally split their time between such C-ranked missions and B ranked missions.
Hiruzen looked down at the scrolls laid out in front of him. The teams were progressing well enough that he thought they might be ready for a C-ranked mission. Did they think they were ready? He picked up the D-ranked mission scroll and began reading a few possible missions.
Assistant duty for the Council of Elders.
Run various errands to local villages.
Dig up sweet potatoes.
He could see their faces sink he watched as Sasuke drew himself up to demand a better mission when Hinata placed a hand on his shoulder, holding him back. “Hokage-sama, I believe our teamwork might be ready for a C-ranked mission.” He could see the annoyed look on Sasuke’s face, he wanted to say something but wouldn’t do so in front of everyone. Perhaps some time out of the village might help. Kakashi gave a very slight nod that he agreed with Hinata’s assessment as Hiruzen visually sought his opinion on the matter. There was something about the land of waves in the list. Checking the C-ranked missions the Hokage smiled at the group.
“I happen to have a mission for you. This mission is important and involves the protection of a resident of a smaller neighboring land, the land of Waves.” He motioned for one of his assistants to bring the client in. Perhaps dealing with a difficult client would be good training them and might also teach them to be careful what you ask for.
Tazuna could hardly believe the situation. He had expected to be stuck in Konohagakure for some time before they had a team ready to escort him back to the land of waves. He had been halfway through his newly bought bottle of sake when he was called to enter. Staggering to the door he looked over the ninja who would escort him back home, what kids? He didn’t think he would get a team of Jonin but a team of Chunin would have been nice. Those kids seemed too young to be that. In that moment he felt all of his 56 years, times keep passing you by don’t they, Tazuna, he thought to himself.
“Tazuna from the Land of water please meet the team we have selected to escort you home. It is lead by Kakashi Hatake and consists of Sasuke Uchiha, Hinata Hyuga, and Miku Yamanaka”
Tazuna might not have had much experience with Ninja but the clan names of each of the younger members were mentioned several times as he wandered the commercial district of Konohagakure. He had heard something about Kakashi but struggled to remember it past Lightning Kakashi. “They seem a bit young are you sure they are ninja? That one with the blonde hair seems more interested in jewelry than ninjutsu.”
“My clan gives its members these earrings. “ She reached up to touch her newly won silver earrings in the shape of a tiny shuriken “we wear it from the time we become a Genin until we obtain the rank of Chunin”
“Wait doesn’t that mark you as…”
“It’s a reminder and a badge of honor” Miku sounded for a brief moment irritated but drew upon her time working at her father’s floral shop. “It is a reminder of our commitment to the village and our love of the village. If it marks us, then we don’t mind it”
“I see” Tazuna noted as he watched her examine his clothing.
“It is nice to greet you master bridge builder. I am certain that you’ll want to get back to the land of water in a hurry.” Miku put on her smile for customers, while her friend Hinata mirrored the look.
“How did you know?” Generally, curious Tazuna might be drunk but he was certain his occupation hadn’t been mentioned yet.
“May I Kakashi-Sensei?” She had turned to the older team leader, his white hair spoke of years of training but Tazuna was certain the leader couldn’t have been thirty yet.
With a nod, Miku explained. “My father has a flower shop on the edge of the commercial district in the Yamanaka clan area. From there we see many customers. I remember seeing you walk into one of the tool shops while I was making a delivery. I know that you work with your hands or have worked with your hands some time ago. You have not worked there recently and I suspect that is because you spend your time designing and overseeing the work making sure it is done to your standards. Given the marks I saw on your hands I would suspect you work with stone more than wood and given you come from the land of water I suspect you are a bridge builder. With all of this information, that would make you a master bridge builder.”
Tazuna noticed the girl, Miku, looked towards her friend Hinata as if seeking support. So they notice the small detail and can come to such a conclusion rather quickly. They might work out, for a moment he felt regret about not telling them the full reason, but their land was poor and could only afford a C-ranked mission.
Sasuke watched as Miku dominated the conversation with the old geezer they were assigned to protect. He was about to insult him back about his remark on his age when Miku seemed to disarm him. When had she become smart enough to figure out he was a bridge builder? For some reason, he seemed as insulted by Miku as he had the bridge builder. He should have figured out the geezer was a bridge builder and management at that. He had the highest or second highest marks in their graduation class after all. What was she doing trying to upstage him? No, wait this is a distraction I need to focus on rebuilding my clan and killing Itachi.
As Kakashi trailed his team and their client out of the Hokage’s audience room he remarked at how his team was shaping up. Hinata was defiantly the leader among the team, was Sasuke seemed to focused and Miku too willing to take her friends lead. In Miku’s case, she appeared to be far better as a spokesperson for the team. Hinata could have handled the role in a pinch but sometimes she was a bit blunt as if giving orders, as a future head of her clan he could see why. Sasuke, on the other hand, seemed to go into a dark place from time to time. With all of his focus on resurrecting his clan and killing his brother, Kakashi, wasn’t surprised by that outcome. He is as focused as I was back in the day, although my anger was towards my father. It was a foolish anger towards a man who was already dead. I escaped that darkness and I’ll have to help Sasuke escape this darkness he’s found himself in.
Maybe Hinata sensed the tension as they were barely a mile out, but he was glad for the distraction. While it might be a C-ranked mission it would be a long trip to get to the land of waves. At the next village, they would get on a train for the trip to the coast but that was still some distance off.
“Kakashi-sensei does the land of waves have their own ninja village?”
“In the land of waves? No. This isn’t unusual for a smaller country where invasion seems unlikely. A ninja village there would be seen as a drain of funds that could be used elsewhere. Usually, however, there is a larger land with a ninja village that they can hire from as needed. Even in the lands that do have their own village they tend to focus their alliances around one of the major five ninja villages of the lands of Fire, Earth, Water, Wind, and Lightning. In Those lands, the ninja village’s Kage are equal to the rulers of the land. These are also the only villages where its leader takes on the title Kage, collectively known as the five Kage or five shadows. Our village Konohagakure is in the land of fire, Iwagakure in the land of the stones, Kirigakure in the land of Water, Sunagakure In the land of Wind and finally Kumogakure in the land of Lightning. But don’t worry you shouldn’t have to worry about upsetting local ninja and we’ll unlikely see ninja from other villages on a C-ranked mission”
Kakashi thought he had heard Tazuna gulp. Was this the case? With that thought, he began scanning the area around them and noticed Sasuke was doing the same. Had he heard what Kakashi heard? Nothing seemed out of the ordinary as he walked by a puddle. His eye drifted lazily towards it appearing to only take half notice to it in order to avoid it. Puddle? It hasn’t rained here lately. Kakashi thought to himself as he stole a glance to the clouds using his peripheral vision. I’ll need to be ready.
As one they rose from the puddle that the ninja team and their target passed. The two brothers were certain none of them were aware of what would happen to them. They would kill the Jonin first and then toy with the Genin before they completed their mission. Each brother checked their single gauntlet one and the long barbed chain linking them together. One brother wore it on their right hand and the other on their left, anyone caught between the two would easily be shredded by the chain linking them. One brother focused his chakra into his feet and leapt high into the sky, the arc of his flight taking him directly over their leader, a strange white haired one eyed ninja. With a twist of his wrist, he looped the chain attached to his gauntlet around the Jonin landing directly in front of him. At that point, the two brothers gave a twist slicing the jonin into pieces where the chain wrapped around him.
Already the two were eyeing the other little ninja. Who next? Wait, the blonde, she was of the Yamanaka clan, they couldn’t afford her little mind games to trip them up. Both moved in unison towards their target.
He had noticed the puddle that didn’t make sense but wasn’t sure if Kakashi-Sensei saw it or not. He decided that the team leader probably did even if he didn’t appear to take note of it. With quick fingers, he unbuttoned the pouch holding his Kunai and shuriken. He heard the rustle of chains and only just saw a rogue ninja land in front of Kakashi-sensei a chain linking him to another ninja near the puddle they had passed. His hand was already moving as they tore the sensei apart moving to their next victim. With Hinata already between the ninja and their client their target seemed to be Miku.
The two ninja moved as one looking to clothesline his teammate. He gave her a signal to duck even as he threw a kunai at their chain. This would be tricky but if he could pin them they could defeat the two. Miku dodged downward, but wait behind her? A Clone? He didn’t even see her create it. The Clone did not dodge or even attempt to. One brother altered their gauntlet’s course slightly to attack each of the girls. The one on the right barely grazed the real Miku’s arm and a mist of crimson rose up. The rouge ninja on the left, however, missed as the clone swiped at his face the gauntlet. The chain hit the clone as it disappeared in a puff of smoke causing the ninja to run directly into a tree on the other side of the road, exactly where Sasuke had aimed. With a loud crack, the ninja on the left struck the tree and fell unmoving even as Sasuke’s shuriken found its mark pinning the chain to the tree trunk. A second thunk followed as he threw a kunai nailing the chain to the tree. They wouldn’t get free that easily. He launched himself at the only remaining Ninja striking air as the rogue ninja twisted his gauntlet and the chain released him. Darn, it I should have guessed. He twisted in the air to see Hinata facing down the lone ninja; Miku had moved to her side, Sasuke could see the blood trailing down her arm. He has to be a Chunin, no probably a Jonin.
Seconds before the rogue ninja could strike Kakashi was there clotheslining the ninja, settling down the now unconscious ninja. Sasuke spared a glance to where Kakashi had originally been standing to see several logs sliced in odd angles. The art of Substitution, those rogue ninja should have known better.
From the moment he heard the chain wrap around Kakashi until the moment Kakashi came out of nowhere to stop the last attacker Tazuna was terrified. The battle was very brief and only a matter of seconds but the older man was certain it had taken minutes, it honestly felt like a half an hour as time seemed to slow down. He could feel the murderous intent coming off the two and knew he was their target. He saw Kakashi die, Kakashi was supposed to be an elite ninja and Tazuna was certain they would all perish on the road. Only the quick actions of two of the younger ninja seemed to save them for a brief moment. He wasn’t certain what the girl did to one of the ninja but that one wasn’t moving, the other freed himself and went after him. He could have sworn the gauntlet was about to cut him like it did the blonde girl, Miku when the last ninja was defeated. He wasn’t sure how they managed it but they seemed to be alive and not too worse for wear other than the girl having her arm slashed. What was that second image of the girl he saw? He could have sworn she was in two places at the same time, but the other one vanished in smoke.
As he watched Kakashi tend to Miku’s injury he stole a glance at the ninja who hit the tree. That one would never move again. His throat had been torn out and it looked like it was done by someone with claws rather than fingers. The one named Sasuke was tying up the only living captive.
“Mr. Tazuna…” he turned to see Kakashi with a stern look on his face “we need to talk.”