Sasuke paced slowly down the main street of Konoha as his thoughts lingered on the past decade. After having been "rescued" by Naruto, he had went through a little bit of problems about his attempted departure, but being who he was, was left alone with a penalty of 250 hours of community services and the strict interdiction of anything higher than D-ranks mission for a full year. So was one of the advantages he got from being the last "loyal" Uchiha of the village; any punishment was, at least, reduced to a tenth of the original one.
As for his "social" life, he had decided, in a feeble attempt to try and prove his best friend wrong, to follow his suggestion and tried coming out of his shell. It figured he would be right, again. While at first, he was given cold glares by pretty much every ninja not blinded by the Uchiha name, beside his fangirls, of course, he had slowly started to earn their forgiveness. It had been a long and hard path to that, but he followed, yet again, his friend's attitude of never giving up, and 2 years later, it had paid up.
While still having mistrust directed at him, he had managed to make a few friends. One was found while reading a rulebook in a teashop, one of the places he had decided to visit often, as he found out it helped him calm down a lot as well as helped drowning his guilt. The laziest ninja of Konoha, second only to his father, had decided to give him a chance and found the little book in the hands of the Uchiha to be the perfect "medium". It went pretty well, considering it ended up with a game of shōgi. And to Shikamaru's slight, yet still unnoticeable surprise, the Uchiha lost without an ounce of anger or frustration showing.
Then there was Hinata. From all those he thought would be hostile to him, she was the one he imagined would be the most; of course, fate decided to prove him wrong again. They had met at Naruto's favourite place to eat, the Ichiraku ramen stand. Though uneasy at first, Sasuke's initiative to start the conversation had led to a pleasant one. They'd meet every once and then after that, talking about different things and such. That relationship helped both, as Sasuke's attitude improved and Hinata's stuttering slowly disappeared. It wasn't gone, but wasn't taking the entire place either. Then there was Sakura…
He was brought out of his thoughts by the sudden appearance of an ANBU half a meter in front of him.
"Uchiha-san," said the ANBU. "Your presence is requested by Hokage-sama," he finished before he was gone in a poof. Sasuke frowned, but nonetheless disappeared in a fashion similar to the ninja seconds before.
Reappearing in front of the Hokage tower, he entered and went to the first secretary. She looked up and instantly signalled him to go to the Hokage's office. Upon his arrival, he knocked on the door. A low growl of annoyance told him he was allowed to enter.
"Hokage-sama," he greeted the slug sennin with respect. Despite being 10 years older, she had barely lost any of her strength. Then only thing that changed was her hate for paperwork.
It grew worse.
"Sasuke-kun!" yelled Sakura as she jumped at him. The impact caused him to fall back in surprise. Both members of team 7 stoop up quickly, blushing. Tsunade only sighed annoyingly.
"You'll get a room once I'm finished," she said, annoyed. Blushes met her. "Kakashi and Jiraiya should be here soon," she said. The jōnin and the chûnin snickered at her. She answered them with a smirk. Their eyes widened as the aforementioned ninjas made their appearances only a few seconds later. Sakura was about to open her mouth when Tsunade cut her off. "Later, Sakura. That old pervert said he had interesting news but wouldn't let me hear them until now," she said. She looked at the gama sennin who took a more comfortable position on the corner of the desk before starting.
"My spy network has informed me that Kiri, Kumo and Iwa all seemed to be sending emissaries in the past few months at what seems to be the same place somewhere to the west, further than the elemental countries have power over so far.
The strange thing is the importance of the guards escorting them, along with the fact that, every new month or so, a new village sends emissaries while the previous stops doing so. As you can guess, this has been going on for about five months," said Jiraiya, before he was cut off by Sakura.
"Five months?" she asked, puzzled.
"About two month's worth of travelling to reach their locations and come back," he explained. "But from what I can tell, either Suna or we are going to know the reason soon, or there is an alliance preparing in the background, and it'd be most likely against us and Suna," said the gama sennin. Silent filled the room as each of the other occupants shared a look of shock.
The past decade had been very beneficial for their military strength, with genins graduating early and strong, genins and chûnins going further in rank more quickly, jōnins becoming stronger and stronger, ANBU numbers increasing steadily. Yet…
"An all-out war with three of the main hidden villages, no matter how strong we've managed to become, would be a total disaster," said Sakura, voicing the thoughts of everyone in the room. "And what about Oto?" she added, frowning.
"Who knows?" started Jiraiya, snapping out of his thoughts at the mention of his old teammate. "He made sure no spies of mine could infiltrate that village of him. But so far, no border patrols have seen them heading west," he explained. Their attention was brought back at the second sannin as she cleared her throat.
"As interesting as that pedophile's life is," she started, making Sasuke shiver under the amused look of the two older men present, "the possibility of an all-out war is our main problem," she said, before being interrupted again.
"Hokage-sama," started the Uchiha. "I highly doubt that option. If Jiraiya-sama said that each village removed their men when another village sent theirs, none would ever be there at the same time, ruling out that option," he explained to them. "I think we are dealing with an outside force in this situation," he continued. Silence filled the room yet again as each wore a thoughtful expression.
"Tsunade-sama," suddenly said Sakura. "What could possibly push them," she started, referring to the three other main villages, "to send their men on a month-long negotiations outside the countries?" she asked. The slug sennin reorganized her thoughts before speaking.
"Perhaps a clandestine group of traders are located to the west. Since we have yet to discover what lies further to the west, there could be valuables to be exploited. They would want to have treaties with people who can produce those new materials," she proposed. Kakashi, silent until now, decided to make his own proposition.
"Or perhaps they are actually trying to colonize lands to the west. It would at the same time expand their territory, they could, as Hokage-sama mentioned, be looking for new resources and if they'd managed to actually build a village there, we'd be cornered in case of an eventual attack," he said.
"Why would they send emissaries to colonize?" asked Sasuke. Kakashi sweatdropped. Jiraiya chose this moment to end their interrogation.
"No," he started, drawing their attention. The looked at him expectantly. "The only thing that could push these three villages to send men like that…" he continued, keeping the suspense. They were all practically leaning toward him, "would be a new, and powerful, hidden village," he finished. The others drew their breath, shocked.
"A new hidden village?" finally managed to ask the Godaime after regaining some of her composure.
"As far as I can tell, it's the most logical explanation if you add their recent military movements in the equation," he said, once again spreading confusion over the group.
"What military movements are you talking about, Jiraiya-sama?" asked Sakura. Jiraiya looked at her confused expression in surprise before his turned to an annoyed one at the mirrored expression on the others' faces.
"You've got to be kidding me…" he muttered, further gaining the attention of the occupants of the room. He rubbed his temples in annoyance before speaking again. "Kumo nins, Kiri nins and Iwa nins have all taken defence formations ever since the beginning of those supposed treaties. The few nins I met were pretty jumpy too. Also, I often heard them saying "new hidden village"," he explained. As he said the last sentence, a vein appeared on Tsunade's forehead.
"Jiraiya," she started, dangerously low, "if you knew it was a new hidden village right off the start, why didn't you tell us at the beginning of this conversation?!" she yelled. Jiraiya started to sweat while laughing nervously.
"Well, you see, I wanted to keep the suspense and…" was all he got out before his face met the glass windows. He was sent flying over Konoha. Tsunade, as for her, let out a sigh of contentment under the eyes of the frozen and nervous remaining people in the room.
On his walk back home, Sasuke couldn't let his thoughts wonder further than the male sannin's revelation. A new hidden village had been created, without anyone in the elemental countries' knowing, and it had three of the main hidden villages on the defensive with only words in a time span of about five months.
"This would definitely make a great ally," said the Uchiha out loud. Or a powerful enemy… he finished grimly in his head. He continued to think about all the possibilities this could mean until he finally realized he had reached his apartment. Sakura probably won't be home for a few hours with her job at the hospital, he thought. "Perhaps I could invite Shikamaru over and play a game of shōgi," he said in an amused tone. And talk about all this too, he finished in his head. His decision made, he entered in his apartment and went over to his working desk. Upon its sight, he couldn't help but think of the reason behind it.
Being the last Uchiha had it's up, like all the free or cheaper stuff he got along with special rights, but it also had it's downfall; paperwork. Oh how he could understand the hokages' hatred for it.
Shaking that thought out of his mind, he picked up a pen, wrote a quick message on a piece of paper and, doing a single handseal, the paper disappeared in fire, no ashes remaining. That was his first "original" technique; Katon: in'sutan'to yuubin' haitatsu no jutsu.
With the paperwork he had to do sometimes, he couldn't do it and deliver it at the same time. It had taken a few months, along with several important documents, before he had managed to complete his instant mail delivery technique. A smile appeared on his face at the thought of his accomplishment before a thought made him lose it. Shikamaru's rubbing off on me.
Seconds later, a small burst of fire erupted on his desk, and a paper, slightly burnt on the edges, appeared. Sasuke had the time to read the word "Troublesome" before the message burned completely.
He smirked at the shortness of the message, before he prepared the shōgi board. He waited for 10 minutes before he heard a knock near his window. He looked at it and saw the shadow user, an annoyed look on his face. The Uchiha's eyes looked at his hair and found them slightly burnt on the top. He sweatdropped; he had invented the technique, but that didn't meant he had mastered it yet.
"Sorry for your hair," he apologized nervously. The Nara rolled his eyes before coming in and sitting on one side of the board. Sasuke did the same.
The next day, the Godaime was peacefully drooling on important documents in her office when an incessant little knocking on her window waked her up. She turned around, intending on making whatever bird annoying her flow away in fright, when her eyes widened at the sight that met her.
Each person present the day before was in the hokage's office again, Shikamaru also there as Sasuke had told him, as he was the sharpest and most brilliant mind he knew, about the current events. Jiraiya was in the closest thing you could get to a wheelchair; Tsunade had refused any treatments to him.
But none were thinking about that as all their attention was strictly on the animal thought to be instinct and/or impossible to be summoned before them. Standing on its rear legs, holding a scroll in its front ones, its wings retracted, a green and red dragon was silently meeting the gaze of every awed shinobi currently staring at him. Half an hour later, though, it began to get annoyed.
"Are ya gonna stop gawking or do you want me to take a pose?" it asked sarcastically. Everyone in the room then came back to their senses, although it was thanks to Sakura.
"EEEEEEK! It talked!" she yelled, rushing behind Sasuke. For her defence, it wasn't everyday you met a talking dragon. Or just a dragon, actually. Said dragon got his hands away from his ears.
"Yes, yes, I can talk! I can also sing, dance, cook and, what was it already? Ah right. BURN YOUR ASS TO ASHES IF YOU EVER SCREAM THAT LOUD AGAIN, DAMNIT!" it retorted. Jiraiya sighed. Great, just what we needed; a temperamental talking dragon, he thought. Sasuke, quite not pleased with the verbal assault and death threats launched at her, couldn't hold back his comment.
"Look who's talking," he said, glaring at the dragon. Hot steam began to come out of the dragon's nostrils as he breathed. Tsunade, fearing the steam to be hot enough to burn the scroll in its hands, gave a death glare to both of them. The remaining member of team seven, beside Kakashi, shrunk back in fear.
"Pardon them, I'll see to it that they don't do it again," she said, the threat clearly evident in her voice. Sasuke and Sakura shrunk even more. The dragon regained his calm and turned around, facing her. He then handed the scroll in his hand to the hokage, before bowing in respect, sending a sideway glare at the offending pair behind him and bursting into a "poof" of smoke. The smoke cleared and left nothing. So it WAS a summon, thought Jiraiya and Kakashi. Tsunade cleared her throat to get their attention back. "You were right, Jiraiya. It IS a new hidden village. And this is our safe-conduct to Ryūkagure no Sato," she finished, and to put emphasis on her point, she unrolled the scroll, showing to all the information it contained. "So, who's up for the trip?" she asked, a few minutes later.
Jiraiya packed with difficulty his things in his hotel room, his reduced height annoying him.
Sasuke and Sakura packed silently, both lost in their own thoughts.
Shikamaru put a shōgi board and a few scrolls in his pack before going to sleep.
Kakashi was at the bookshop.
At dawn, the next day, the four shinobi met at the west gate. They had decided the preceding day that travelling in a small, yet powerful, group was better than getting unwanted attention in a group too big to be useful anyway. Tsunade had also finally healed Jiraiya that morning.
"Of course, even when on a mission this important, sensei can't help but to be late," mumbled Sakura, annoyed. An hour later (a new record), Kakashi made his appearance. He spoke before Sakura could.
"I'm sorry I'm late but there was this fish that was drowning in the river and I had to save it. And then, I had to take it to the Inuzuka compound to make sure it'd get better," he explained. Seeing Sakura unable to retort, he gave a sigh of relief that she didn't seem to notice that it was a fish.
"What kind of fish can't swim?" said Sasuke, frowning. An evil glint appeared in Sakura's eyes, as well as a shudder in Kakashi's spine.
One week later…
The members of the group stared in shock at the village. Now they understood where it's name had come from. The village was huge, but it was all inside the skeleton of a giant, what they supposed it was, dragon, its mouth open with a dirt road in it leading to the village. The skeleton itself was in a dead-end in the mountain chain that covered miles and miles on each side of it. An easy to defend, well-hidden spot. But still, they were very shocked at the size of it all. 'That skeleton has to be at least Konoha's size! were their identical thoughts.
Once in sight of the village, they found it to seem very joyful. Its height provided it with light, and the children they could see running around seemed not to have a single care in the world. All in all, the peaceful and joyful aura of the town had put them at ease even before they entered in it. It was surprising, though, given that the village was probably relatively new. However, their real mission brought them back to reality as they arrived at the gate. Sakura immediately went to the guards and showed them the pass they had received. It was with a neutral expression that he nodded and told them to go toward the centre of the city. When they arrived, though, one thought went to their mind.
End Of Chapter
Katon: in'sutan'to yuubin' haitatsu no jutsu
This is, as you probably noticed, an "original" technique. Know that I don't speak Japanese; I just happen to know a website that can translate some words into actual letters instead of symbols.
Anyway, translated word for word, this would give "Fire release: Instant Mail Delivery technique". I made it a Katon technique only because it's the element Sasuke seems to have the most control over. You have to think about where you want it to go, make the handseals and it'll 'burn to the destination'.
Handseals: Horse, Ox, Tiger
Well, this is the first chapter. I must say, I was surprised at the number of review. Then again, I guess it's to be expected from a Naruto fanfic. Thanks for all the reviews! I really appreciate it. Also, about the fact that I'm posting this so long after the prologue, well… I'm extremely lazy. Also, I have random inspiration. It comes, it goes, etc. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed.
You can review now.