On The Horizon
Yamanaka Shipping was one of the largest merchant companies in the entire Caribbean; the peace between the monarchies had opened new markets across the world and the Yamanaka's had been the first to take advantage of said opportunities. They were also known, amongst those they employed, as taskmasters who underpaid there workers, pressed men into service, and kept their ships in less than adequate condition. The usual corrupt corporation stuff. Needless to say Naruto and Sasuke kept their hands on their swords as they went to meet their 'associate'.
"You're late." Sakura said as she jumped off the barrel she'd been sitting on. "I actually thought you weren't coming."
"Sorry about that." Naruto replied, scratching the back of his head sheepishly. "I had a bit too much to drink last night."
"And this morning, you were on your third bottle when I got to the Hermit." Sasuke added.
"Well you certainly drink like a sailor." Sakura sighed. "Come on, they're waiting inside."
The three sailors walked into the warehouse where Sakura led them through to the back where they found three people waiting for them: A blonde girl with her hair tied in a ponytail, a big boned boy with brown hair and swirl marks on his cheeks, and a lazy looking boy with hair that looked like a pineapple who was laying on top of a crate and watching the clouds drift by.
"Ino, Choji, Shikamaru!" Sakura called as she walked towards them. "I found some people interested in joining our... business venture." The lazy boy raised his head and looked over at the newcomers while the other two walked over.
"Are you sure about these guys?" Ino asked as she gave the two boys an appraising look. "They seem a little..." She let her voice trail off as Naruto gave a comedic and perfectly timed drunken hiccup.
"They may not look like much but they're experienced and, more importantly, they were thinking along similar lines as us." Sakura replied.
"So they're not gonna turn us in?" Choji asked nervously.
Naruto and Sasuke glanced at each other. This wasn't what they'd been expecting; they thought Sakura had been talking about a group of sailors who were trying to become pirates but didn't have the balls to try without someone leading them. These three... they had some experience, that was obvious to those who knew what to look for, but it was also obvious they had far less experience than Naruto or Sasuke had hoped.
"This is it?" Sasuke asked disbelievingly as he turned to Sakura. "THIS is the crew you said had everything but a decent captain? This is barely enough people to crew a fishing boat."
"I said we needed a captain and some extra hands." Sakura corrected.
"Oh come on." Naruto turned to the recruits. "No offense but you guys don't exactly look like hardened sailors, ya know."
"We're better than we look." Shikamaru spoke up. The lazy boy sat up and got to his feet. "I've already got a plan that'll set us up with a ship and enough goods to make a decent profit in any port. And on the off chance you guys called the guards before you came here I had twenty different escape routes planned for the three of us."
Naruto and Sasuke glanced at each other again.
"If you're so smart then how come you don't just captain the ship yourself?" Naruto asked.
"He says it's to much of a drag." Ino replied before she noticed Sasuke looking at her intently. "What?"
"You look familiar." Sasuke replied suspiciously.
"Yeah." Naruto added. "In fact you kinda remind me of-" his eyes widened in realization. "Son of a bitch. You're Inoichi's daughter!" The ex-privateers drew their cutlasses while Shikamaru and Choji stepped in front of their friend, Shikamaru pulling out a knife and Choji grabbing a boarding axe that had been hidden between some crates.
"Everyone calm down." Sakura said firmly as she stepped between the two groups. "Just put your weapons away and let's talk this out."
"Them first." Naruto growled as he tightened his grip on his cutlasses." (He has two)
"If we do that you'll hurt Ino." Choji replied.
"And if we put our swords away..." Naruto paused. "Actually, I don't know what's gonna happen. How 'bout we just put the weapons down but keep them in reach?"
"What the hell are you doing?" Sasuke asked.
Sasuke groaned before putting his sword on one of the crates, the others did the same while never taking their eyes off one another.
"Now then." Sakura spoke up as both sides stared at each other like two packs of angry wolves. She turned to Naruto and Sasuke. "I can vouch for these three, including Ino. I've sailed with them on five trips across the Atlantic and back including four pirate attacks and seven storms. They can handle themselves." She turned to the trio.
"You guys should've been expecting them to have a bad reaction when they figured out who Ino was, and that's not exactly hard. Is that enough to get you guys to not kill each other?"
Naruto and Sasuke glanced at each other again before groaning in agreement. Ino's group did the same.
"Alright, we'll hear you out." Sasuke said. "What's this big plan of yours anyway?" All eyes turned to Shikamaru.
"Don't tell me you guys want me to explain this." Shikamaru groaned.
"It's your plan~." Ino replied teasingly.
"What a drag. Anyway, the first step is-" He stopped as the loud sound of sliding wood against wood followed by the loud bang of the warehouse doors slamming shut. "Oh come on! I thought the stressful part of the day was over."
The sound of footsteps could be heard as the warehouse went quiet. They were swift, relatively quiet, and predatory. Everyone present immediately tensed at the familiar presence.
"Press gang." Sasuke hissed in disgust while grabbing his sword. A group of six men walked around the corner, trapping the conspirators against the back wall, all of them carried clubs and stared at the group like a pack of wolves.
"Well well well, ain't this wonderful." The apparent leader of the group chuckled. "We needed four more men to fill our quota and here you are. Old man Yamanaka will probably give us a nice bonus for this."
"I'm not going anywhere with you pricks." Naruto snarled.
"I'd be careful if I were you kiddo. 'Failure to allow oneself to be pressed will result in being hanged' after all. Now just come along before we get rough. No need to make a scene in front of the boss's daughter."
"Whoa, easy now." Shikamaru suddenly spoke up as he suddenly began walking forward. No one noticed that he'd picked up his knife and was holding it in a way that kept it hidden behind his arm. "No need to get rough or anything. I'm not trying to get hung or anything."
"What the hell are you doing?" Sasuke hissed.
"Fucking traitor!" snarled Naruto.
"You always were a smart one Shikamaru." The leader ignored the privateers words. "Comin' along voluntarily will definitely get the boss to-"
It happened so fast that the others barely even saw it: Shikamaru grabbed the man's hand, slammed it against a crate, and stabbed his knife through the man's hand pinning him to the crate. The man screamed in pain and roared obscenities as he blindly grabbed for his weapon but dropped it. Shikamaru quickly grabbed the weapon and brutally struck the man several times in the head.
The the other members of the gang scrambled backwards and fumbled for their clubs. They weren't used to this kind of resistance, usually people would simply surrender since refusing to be impressed was punishable by hanging. This type of blitz assault wasn't something they'd expected. That was not the case for the former privateers and merchant sailors however; when boarding a ship, or being boarded, one either reacted quickly or died.
Sasuke rushed forward and slashed a man across the throat so fast he didn't have time to react. Another man attempted to strike Choji's ribs but the big boned boy caught his wrist, headbutted him to the ground, and buried his axe in the man's sternum. Sakura tackled her opponent to the ground and slashed his throat. Naruto blocked an attack aimed for his head and used his other sword to stab his foe through the chest.
The last gang member tried to flee but tripped over his own feet. Ino stabbed him several times in the back before he could get up.
"Ah man, why'd these jerks have to show up when they did?" Shikamaru asked no one in particular. "Now we gotta hide the bodies and clean up the blood before anyone notices. What a drag."
"We can help with that ya know." Naruto offered.
"No, you guys need to get out of here." Ino replied. "The first shift is going to start soon, you need to leave before anyone sees you."
"She's right. We need to go." Sasuke said. "The farther we are from this place the better."
Naruto nodded and the two of them took off, though Naruto stopped before rounding the corner.
"Meet us at the Drunken Hermit if you still want to talk." Naruto called.
"You still want to make a deal after what happened?" Ino asked.
"Are you kidding? Now we know we can trust you. Believe-"
"Move your ass Naruto!"
"I'm coming damn it!"
After that an awkward silence settled over the warehouse and remained for several minutes as Ino's group began carrying the bodies out of the warehouse.
"Uh, Sakura." Ino asked as she and her pink haired companion worked together to carry a corpse. "You're a lot more familiar with pirate psychology then we are; how does us killing a press gang make us trustworthy?"
"It's basically a blood pact. Each of us killed one man so we're all equally responsible." Sakura explained. "Now we can't report them for the conspiring to become pirates without them reporting us for the murders and vice versa."
"It also means that there's no turning back now." Shikamaru added as he struggled with his own load. "Come on, we'll hide the bodies in the latrine. After that... I'll tell after works over and then we'll meet up with those guys."
"Suit yourselves." Sakura shrugged. "You're the ones who wanted me to find a crew for you."
"You were pretty quiet throughout that meeting." Choji said suspiciously. Unlike the others he wasn't having any trouble carrying his body.
"Because I wanted to see how you guys handled yourselves in a negotiation. You can't keep relying on me do the illegal stuff for you."
-The Drunken Hermit, Later that day-
The second meeting was going remarkably better then the first: everyone was visibly less stressed, there was no threat of being jumped by gangs, and a bar was a much more casual environment then the back of a warehouse. The fact that Naruto made sure everyone ingested at least a pint of alcohol before the meeting started may have also been a contributing factor to their 'good spirits'. (Yes. That's my best attempt at an alcohol joke.)
"Now that we're all together and there are no more, I hope, how about we get down to business." Sasuke attempt to keep his cool demeanor failed as the alcohol caused him to chuckle. "What's the plan you were going to tell us about?"
"It's not too complicated on paper." Shikamaru started, the soft buzzing feeling in his head making the whole situation seem rather un-troublesome. "There's a small sloop docked close to the warehouse, the Aconite, the plan is to load it up with it up with whatever we can and set sail for Tortuga."
"We get an easy score give Inoichi a nice big 'fuck you' by raiding his warehouse and making one of his ships a pirate vessel." Naruto mused before taking another quick drink and turning to Ino. "You're really okay with ripping off your dad like this?"
"I'm in the middle of a rebellious faze." Ino replied before leaning back, downing the rest of the rum in her tankard, and signaled for another. "Besides, I never was good at the whole 'proper lady' thing anyway."
"Yeah, you're a real badass." Sakura rolled her eyes. "So do we have a deal or what?"
"I'll sign on." Naruto said eagerly.
"You've got a better plan than we had yesterday." Sasuke added. "So how many people do we need to crew the Aconite?"
"Twelve at the least, though we could bring a few more." Sakura answered. "Any other questions? No? Then let's all head home; tomorrow we'll head out and look for some new recruits." The meeting was adjourned, drinks were payed for, and everyone who wasn't living in the bar left. Once outside Sasuke quickly pulled Sakura from the others who were too drunk to notice, pinning her to the wall while holding her shoulder in a vice grip.
"What are you getting out of this?" He hissed.
"You're gonna have to be a little more specific."
"You're the one who set all this up and, from what I can tell, you're the one who convinced those three that becoming pirates was a good idea. Why are you trying so hard to set this up even though you won't be captain?"
A tense silence filled the air, anyone watching would've expected Sakura to attack Sasuke. Time seemed to slow as they glared at each other with matched fury and determination. Finally Sakura spoke.
"No one every taught you not to look a gift horse in the mouth did they?" She pried his hand off of her shoulder and walked away.
"Whoa. Oof!" The waves buffeted the hull of the Sharingan, tossing the large merchantman up and down on the heavy waves and causing the ten year old Sasuke to stumble into the main mast like a drunken sailor.
"Stupid hunk of wood." Sasuke muttered bitterly before punching the mast. "Ow!"
"Heh heh heh, still haven't quite gotten your sea legs yet have you Sasuke?" The young boy looked up to see his father Fugaku standing over him, his usually stoic face showing a rare smile.
"It's not my fault." Sasuke grumbled. "The ship keeps bouncing up and down like a rabbit, I can't keep my balance."
"There's your problem; you think of the ship as nothing more than a hunk of dead wood that's been nailed together when it's so much more. It's a living thing, one that must be respected." Fugaku gently rubbed the mast, Sasuke attempted to do the same but gave out a yelp of pain as he received several splinters for his effort.
"Like I said; it's a living thing, it always finds a way to get even." Sasuke just grumbled in response before, with help from his father, making his way to the Sharingan's bow. His eyes locked on the frigate sailing several leagues ahead of them: The Tsukuyomi, his brother's ship.
"Dad. Could you... tell where we're going again?" Fugaku raised an eyebrow at the question.
"I've told you three times already Sasuke. Why do you need to hear it again?"
"I just... Like to hear you say it." Sasuke replied somewhat embarrassedly. Fugaku chuckled again at the response.
"We're sailing to the Caribbean to close a business deal with the Yamanaka Shipping Company, and while we're there you will be officially joining the Royal Navy. I've already made arrangements for you to be stationed on Itachi's ship. You nervous?"
"Of course not!" Sasuke declared. "Me and Big Brother are gonna sink any privateer that thinks he can raid our ships!"
"Sasuke..." His father signed and shook his head, his face becoming serious. "You need to realize that this is serious business; you're taking a big step towards becoming a man. Just because you're the 'good guys' doesn't make you immune to swords and grape shot. Understand?"
"Good. Now let's see if your mother's sea sickness has settled down enough for her to come up and watch the sun set." Sasuke smiled and prepared to head below deck with his father when he suddenly heard the helmsman calling his father.
"What is it?" Fugaku called back.
"The Tsukuyomi's lowered its sails and is coming around the port side. What's that son of yours up to?"
"I'll ask him when he comes around, in the meantime prepare to dock with the Tsukuyomi."
Sasuke watched in wide eyed amazement as the Tsukuyomi slipped into place alongside the Sharingan. As the Sharingan's crew moved to toss grapples over to the Tsukuyomi Sasuke looked up to the ships wheel, Itachi had always prided himself on helming the ship himself, and tried to get his older brother's attention.
Itachi looked away and raised his right arm.
"Is he trying to wave at me?" Sasuke thought, he raised his arm to wave back.
"SASUKE, TAKE COVER!"
Itachi's arm swung down like an executioners blade.
"AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH~" Sasuke screamed as he shot up from his bead, his chest heaving and his body covered in sweat. His eyes darted around as he took in his surroundings. He wasn't on the Sharingan, he was in the same room he'd been renting for the past few years.
"Same damn dream." He muttered as he let himself collapse back onto the bed, his hand reaching underneath and pulling out a half full bottle of rum. He took a long swig before plugging the bottle and slipping it back under the bed.
"Itachi, you should be grateful that hurricane got you before I could..."
I'm really sorry; I meant to get this chapter to you guys earlier this week but I got distracted (I'm lazy). I also apologize to any Inoichi fans for making him a jerk in this fic but I needed someone to take the fall and that was him.
To answer the question of whether the Assassin's will show up in this fic: No. If that where the case I'd put it in the crossover section like I'm supposed to. It does get on my nerves a little when people don't do that but I don't have too much of a problem with it. This will be almost purely Naruto (though I will give some cameos to Luffy, Jack Sparrow, and some other fictional pirates later on. Let me know if there's anyone you want to cameo and I'll see if I can work then in, just don't expect anything major. Sorry fanboys but no Sasuke vs Zoro for you)
The Aconite is a reference to the fact that Ino uses Wolf's Bane for many different techniques in the Naruto fighting games. Aconite is another name for Wolf's Bane along with Aconitum, Monkshood, Leopard's Bane, Mousebane, Women's Bane, Devil's Helmet, Queen of all Poisons, and Blue Rocket.
Random Question: Who's your favorite anime swordsman. Mine is Guts from Berserk. Screw Kirito, Guts is the real Black Swordsman!