A/N: I have lots of excuses, but you probably want to hear any. So, with no more delay…
With the rest of her companions gathered around, the pink-haired medic dropped to her knees next to the blood-covered blonde and began healing his wounds, though it was hard to tell where the wounds really were, with so much blood.
The two medics who Takama had brought stepped forward to aid the kunoichi, but, faster than the blink of an eye, the other shinobi surrounded the medic and her patient with weapons drawn and at the ready.
"Back off," growled the kunoichi who seemed to be a walking armory. All other movement stopped as the non-nin medic stumbled back a few steps from the suddenly hostile group.
The Hokage, trying to avoid any violence between the two groups of Konoha shinobi, stepped forward with his arms widespread in a sign of good intentions. Despite his careful approach, the group closed all gaps in their line, forming a firm wall around their commander. Only Kakashi remained forward, with eyes trained on his old teacher, and a strong grip on a kunai handle. He was tense and his gaze was cold, unyielding.
"That goes for you as well, Namikaze-sama," he grated out in a low tone. The blonde froze in shock, along with everyone else in the clearing. Younger-Kakashi stared at his older self vaguely horrified. The older one's open Sharingan eye spun.
"What the hell, Hatake?" challenged Lizard, his hand on the hilt of his sword.
The Yondaime waved his ANBU down and swallowed his own surprise before speaking. "Kakashi, your-" he paused, realizing he didn't actually know what the man's relation was to the silver-haired ANBU. Acting-Hokage wasn't Hokage, and though the medic had called him commander, the Hyuuga had also called Kakashi commander. But they had also called Kakashi "Captain" Wolf. Minato blinked, gave up, and started again. "He needs medical attention. I have no doubt your medic can supply it, but she has just been in battle and helped heal who knows how many people, and is more than likely low on chakra. Our medics can help."
"I highly doubt that," came the reply. The two medics stiffened in anger at the apparent insult, but the Yondaime held out a hand to stop them, suspecting his student would have a reason to say that, even if it could have been stated more diplomatically. He asked for Kakashi to explain, and the ANBU's eyes swept to his right, as if wanting to glance over his shoulder.
"There are certain aspects of the brat's chakra and chakra system, as well as physical properties that could cause a medic unfamiliar with his individual systems to cause more harm than good. Healing him would require your medics to become familiar with the normalities of his body, which is currently impossible due to the duress his body is under, not to mention the lack of time available. Even if our medic explained his abnormalities, the process of healing itself must also be adjusted to account for his more…unusual traits. It really is just easier to let Sakura do it." Kakashi's eyes closed briefly as he smiled apologetically.
"Very well," the Yondaime said as he recalled the burning quality of the man's chakra, which had left the ones who had helped him through the gate, including Kakashi, with areas of their bare arms and hands red and raw. Still, he wondered what had caused such abnormal traits in a man that, so far, looked completely normal. "Is there anything we can do?"
Kakashi cocked his head and paused. His eyes curved as he smiled again. "Not really."
"Actually," rose a voice from the center of the circle of ninja. All attention was instantly on the area from which the voice had emerged, while the circle of guards remained facing outwards. "There are several things you could do for us." The voice was soft, and could have been either male or female, but it was still deeper than the pink-haired medic's had been.
"Boss, you alright?" the young shinobi with the loose cloth mask hiding his lower face asked from the group near the villagers.
"I am fine," came the reply. "…That goes for all of you. You can move now, really."
The circle shuffled and a gap appeared, revealing the blonde sitting on the ground next to the medic's kneeling form, his armor lying by him, but his mask still on. To the surprise of the Yondaime and his shinobi, his mask did not bear a stylization of an animal as was the usual decoration for ANBU masks, or rather, the only decoration style. Instead his mask was a collage of colors.
The left side of his mask was primarily white, while the right was black, with the black crossing over his nose, chin, and cheek in crack-like lines into the white. Diagonally from the right temple down across the eye and nose three thicker lines of red streaked and then tapered out. One of these lines thinned out and stopped on the left cheek, while the other two cut across the entire mask, with one line cutting the edge of the barely noticeable bump of lips. Dissecting the eye opposite the claw marks was a very dark blue rectangle about the thickness of a finger that ran from just above the eyebrow area to the top of the cheekbone.
The man slowly stood up, the medic rising with a hand under his arm. As he rose, Minato's attention was drawn away from his mask. Despite the enormous amount of blood that had covered the blonde, he only had one bandage, which was wrapped around his stomach, and the medic had wiped the blood clean. The rest of his upper body was bare, and drew the Hokage's curious gaze. The man's chest, shoulders, arms, and even neck were littered with scars.1 Many of them appeared to have been made by kunai, most notably the multiple slices that marred the skin of his neck. The scarring on his chest and arms also included what looked to be burn marks. Silver and flat, raised, white ropes of hard tissue, red and irritated, harsh or clean-the scars crisscrossed over his body in a history of battle and hardship.
Two of the scars drew the most attention, however. One was located on his right arm, just below his ANBU tattoo, and was raised and clearly visible despite another scar cutting across it. The burn of a brand had permanently engraved the word 'demon' into his skin. The second scar was a large one that took up the left half of his chest. It seemed to be a mixture of a large puncture wound and a starburst-shaped burn, and the other blonde couldn't help but wonder how he got it, let alone survived it. The only thing the Yondaime could think of that would match that scar would be Kakashi's chidori, but that didn't make sense;1.5 with how protective of the ANBU Kakashi's future-self appeared to be, him using an assassination jutsu on the younger man seemed improbable.
Minato's mind shot back to the present, his eyes returning to the man's mask as he abandoned his study. He was shocked to find the man only a few feet away from him, while the medic stood with the group, looking at the burns left on the two dark-haired ANBU by the man's chakra. Kakashi was ignoring his own wounds, standing just behind and to the right of the masked blonde, and studying everyone nearby with a cold gaze.
"Ah. You said we could help. So, what can I do for you…," Minato trailed off, hoping for a name or even a codename for the other leader.
"Well," replied the other cheerfully, ignoring the Yondaime's attempt. "One thing you could do is find a place for all of us to stay. We will, of course, offer our services to pay for the accommodations. Also, it would be nice if the children could attend school here, as their education has been interrupted more than enough recently." The Yondaime couldn't help but smile at the groans that came from behind him at that announcement. Then the other blonde turned more serious. "We also need to make this transition as smooth as possible, though it is hard to tell just how long we will be here. We all have information that is delicate and should not be made public. The circumstances of our arrival will need to be mentioned, I am sure, but the specific events leading up to our arrival would be better off unknown to most. I assume you will want to inform the council as soon as possible. The immediate concern, however, is food, medical and other accommodations for our villagers and injured. The rest of our group is available for anything you need of us."
Minato blinked and ran through that checklist in his head, and nodded. "At least for today and tonight the only accommodations we can provide will be at the hospital, but medical for your wounded can easily be supplied there. I will have to call the council immediately upon our return to the village. If possible, I would like to have as many of your jounin and higher ranked shinobi as possible attend the meeting. It would probably be to the benefit of all to have your shinobi join our ranks, for however long you are here, so we will need identification and information on all of your shinobi. Ranks and positions will need to be confirmed so that identification can be reissued as well. We can use spars to test your abilities once you're recovered from your wounds. You will also need to fully explain to the council how you came to be here. It appears obvious that you are coming from a war, but you should also expect to be conscripted to our own war effort if you stay for any length of time. Do you have any arguments with that?"
"That is an individual choice of my comrades." The ANBU replied instantly, but then continued without a pause. "However, I agree for myself, and suspect there will be no arguments from anyone else."
Nods from some of the other ninja supported his words. With a smile Minato turned to his own shinobi. "Tiger, go inform the council that we will be having an emergency meeting. I am sure they are curious about the movements from this morning, so use that as an excuse, but don't tell them any specifics. Panther, Lizard, Eagle, Coyote, and Takama, go with the medics and the villagers to set our guests up in rooms at the hospital.
"Um…ANBU-san," said Minato, once again turned towards the unnamed blonde. "If you could give the order to those who will be joining the meeting with the council, the rest can join the group going to the hospital."
The other blonde nodded his head at those behind him, and pointed at the masked Hamaru. Then he ordered the others off with a wave of his hand. The five ninja not included joined their wounded comrades and the villagers, and the large group began to make their way back to the road while the other fourteen shinobi from the future and the six from the present time remained.
"So," said Jiraiya as he grinned uncomfortably at the older Kakashi. "How do my book sales do?"
This drew several startled laughs from the group and the masked blonde shook his head in amusement at the sage. Wolf eye-smiled and replied with a concise "Very well." At the sudden happy expression on Jiraiya's face, one of the medics glared at the man with exaggerated disgust.
With a more relaxed air around the group, the Yondaime called for them to begin towards the village. Falcon immediately took to the trees with the rest trailing her in a group. Dragon and Kakashi watched, entertained, as the blonde kunoichi latched onto Ibiki and began chattering a mile a minute. The young torture specialist had a bewildered expression that seemed very out of place on his scarred face. The two male blondes walked side by side with the Toad Sage at the head of the group, and the younger of the leaders motioned for Wolf and the Nara to join him. (A/N: I'm gonna try and call the older Kakashi Wolf in my own narration just to prevent confusion, though the other characters might still refer to him as Kakashi.) The remainder of the group broke up into twos and threes behind the commanders.
The group made its way through the forest at an easy pace to give Tiger time to gather the council, and avoided the road until they came close to the gate. The two chunin and the jounin Izumo were all at the gate, nodding at the group as they passed through. Civilians along the street whispered and pointed at the bloodied strangers among the group as they took to the roofs, running lightly towards the Hokage Tower. The blonde kunoichi was the only one talking, apparently unconcerned with Ibiki's lack of participation in the conversation, although he seemed slightly more interested as she started chattering about the pros and cons of certain poisons. Her obvious knowledge of the subject combined with her cheery attitude drew some strange glances and wary respect from the others.
The group leaped across the rooftops, following the Yondaime towards a back entrance to the Hokage Tower. Entering through a window, the shinobi filed into an anteroom which was connected through an isolated hallway to the council's meeting chamber. Minato motioned to a second door.
"You can clean up in there. I will go wait for the council to finish gathering and have Falcon call you in when we are ready to begin."
As the blonde exited the room, with all of his ninja except Dragon trailing him, most of the other group collapsed onto the chairs and couches scattered in the room. Four of the shinobi, including the blonde ANBU made for the connected washroom. One by one they emerged again, cleaned of blood and dirt, and another group entered. The ninja continued to swap places between rooms until they were as cleaned of blood and dirt as was possible-still in stained clothing and armor. Only a moment after the last of the group exited the washroom, the door leading to the council chamber opened and Falcon nodded at them and disappeared back through the door. The fourteen time travelers filed through after the ANBU, followed by Dragon.
The room they entered was large, with seats in rows around the edge separated from a center arena by a wall. Opposite the door that the group entered through was a sectioned off area with five seats that was raised above the other seats. Most of the seats around the room were filled, and the council members watched curiously as the shinobi moved to the center of the floor space. The heads of the shinobi clans each had a seat, with three seats behind them for heirs and advisors who might attend. High ranking shinobi, heads of departments and several civilians who were important for the daily maintenance of the village also had seats.
A few last members of the council entered through a door just next to the one they had come through, skirting the group to step up into the ring of seats, as the council settled into their seats, still muttering to each other about the unknown shinobi. The Yondaime flanked by the Toad Sage and Sandaime waited silently in his seat in the higher terrace, with Danzo and one empty seat to either side of the three.
The Hokage stood, and the noise level from the council dropped. "Thank you for coming so quickly. As I am sure you are aware, earlier today a gate guard sent out an alert. This was a response to the gathering of a strong chakra presence just beyond our village borders. The center of the chakra presence was located by the responding force. What was found was a chakra mass which was established and anchored using seals in an unidentified location, but which I recognized as a way to form a gate of sorts which allows a person to travel through time and space. This group before you came through that gate. I have offered them refuge in our Konoha for as long as is necessary for them to safely return to their original time. There are others, both civilians and shinobi who are currently at the hospital. They are citizens of the Konoha of their own time." He raised his hand to silence the shifting and murmurs of the council and motioned the blonde leader of the shinobi forward.
"We have approximately 50 people beyond those you see here. As a matter of security we cannot tell you everything that brought about our arrival. What you need to know is there is an enemy of Konoha that attacked. We were forced to evacuate the village and move to a secondary location; the villagers who are here were unable to be evacuated in time and those you see before you were meant to be the last to leave. We were surrounded, and unable to escape without losing many of the villagers. We choose to attempt the gate, and clearly succeeded." The man paused as he swept his gaze across the council, his head just slightly turning.
"We do not know how long we will be here, since a return gate will require an anchor on the other side, and we are not sure when our comrades and allies will be able to secure a location for the gate. We have made a request to Yondaime-sama that the children be allowed to attend school while we are here. Our shinobi are willing to serve the village in the same occupations we have in our own time, or in any occupation that the Hokage and the council require. Yondaime-sama has decided that we should have some arrangement of testing to confirm our official ranks and our skills so that our abilities are might be better utilized. As I said earlier, I cannot tell you everything, but if you have any questions, you may ask now."
Several of the council members stood, and the Hokage motioned one to speak. The woman took a step forward, looking at the ninja with a severe expression under steel grey hair. "Exactly how far into the future did you all come from?"
"Seventeen, closer to eighteen years."
The mutterings from the surrounding seats covered up the Yondaime's snort as he quickly did the math. Turning to Jiraiya, he whispered, "If Kakashi is old at 31 or so, what does that make nearly everyone in this room?"
The Toad Sage snorted in turn. "Shut up young whippersnapper. Respect your elders!" Minato chuckled quietly, earning a raised eyebrow from the Sandaime before he turned back to the room below.
"…5 chunin, 17 jounin or higher, and we also have a few children who are at genin level." The blonde was replying to another question.
"Obviously the jounin and higher includes ANBU and hunter-nin." The scarred jounin-commander swept his gaze across the several masked ninja in the group. "Are any of your group who are not present also ANBU level?"
"No. The other three are regular jounin."
Another council member stepped forward to the railing in front of his seat. "May I ask why the civilians were not evacuated in time and why your group specifically was meant to be the last to leave Konoha?"
"The main force of the enemy reached Konoha's walls sooner than expected. Several of the shinobi that are with our group were assigned to protect the civilians, but the group was caught in the enemy attack before entering the evacuation tunnels. Most of the guards were killed in the assault. All but one of my shinobi that you see now were assigned to delay the enemy and to destroy the tunnels behind the retreat. We were able to fend off the assault, but were forced to destroy the tunnels prematurely."
"Thirteen ninja were meant to hold off an entire attacking army." Scoffed a civilian councilman.
Here the Yondaime stood. "When we anchored the gate they were holding off the entire attacking force." Whispers broke out again. "If there are no other questions or immediate concerns, I am sure our new shinobi would like to check on their injured at the hospital."
"Perhaps it would be best if our guests introduced themselves now."
The blonde man turned to his predecessor and nodded. "Ah, of course. And a list of the others not present would be useful for documentation." He gestured to the time travelers. "Could you please introduce yourselves to us? Name and rank, age as well, I guess."
The shinobi shifted before the blonde ANBU nodded and waved to the masked jounin. The man stepped forward and released one side of his mask, allowing the cloth to hang alongside his neck. Minato startled at the shinobi's familiar features. "Sarutobi Konohamaru. Tokubetsu Jounin of Rapid Response Team 5. Thirteen years old." His serious demeanor broke apart suddenly and he gave an informal salute to the Sandaime. "'Sup gramps!"
The old Hokage chuckled lightly and gave a small wave, his eyes bright.
"3," prompted the blonde and a pair of ninja stepped forward.
"I'm Tenten. Jounin. Weapons master of Team 3 of the Konoha Twelve. Eighteen years old." A murmur passed through the council.
"I am Rock Lee. Jounin. Taijutsu master. Also of Team 3 of the Twelve. Age is eighteen." The murmuring continued, and the Yondaime appeared prepared to say something, but held his tongue.
One of the ANBU stepped forward, removing a mask depicting a dark bird to reveal a stoic expression and a pair of impenetrably cold pale eyes underneath a forehead protector. "Hyuuga Neji. Team 3 of the Konoha Twelve. ANBU, codename Raven, captain of ANBU Team 9. Eighteen years old."
"8" said the blonde, not giving the council a chance to ask any question.
The Hyuuga kunoichi spoke. "I am Hyuuga Hinata, jounin, of Team 8 of the Konoha Twelve and of the Rookie Nine. Heir to the head of the Hyuuga clan. Seventeen years old." The noise from the council picked up for a moment, and then faded out.
The two hunters pulled off their hoods, though one's face was still covered by a collar and sunglasses. The other, with tattoos and prominent canines spoke next, the huge dog at his feet matching him grin for grin. "Inuzuka Kiba, and this is Aburame Shino," he gestured to his still silent companion. "Both of Team 8 of the Twelve and Nine, both hunter-nin of the Hunter Team 2. I'm seventeen, he's eighteen. And Akamaru here is my ninken." The three stepped back.
The enthusiastic blonde who had latched onto Morino Ibiki bounced forward with a bright grin. "Hi!" A series of bemused chuckles ran across the room in response. "I'm Yamanaka Ino of Team 10 of the Konoha Twelve and the Rookie 9. Heir to the Yamanaka clan. ANBU, codename Dragonfly, and second in command of ANBU T&I. Seventeen years old. Nice to meet you!" More than one council member raised an eyebrow at the exuberant kunoichi.
"Akimichi Chouji, also of Team 10. Heir to the Akimichi clan. Jounin, taijutsu specialist. Also seventeen." The heavily armored man paused to look behind him and then sighed. He opened his mouth to speak again, but was interrupted by his teammate.
"No, no! I'll get him up!" She marched over to the Nara whose armor matched hers. He stood slouched and with his head down, unmoving. She stood in front of him for a moment and then pulled a kunai form a hip pouch.
"Ino, wait a-"
Ignoring the Akimichi, the blonde jabbed the kunai into the Nara's arm and let loose a yell that covered the shadow-manipulator's yelp. "Shika, you lazy bastard, wake the hell up! You worthless ass, what the hell are you doing going to sleep at a time like this?!" She hit the shinobi over the head several times as he groaned and pulled the kunai out of his arm, cursing under his breath as he ducked his head under the blows. Quickly the kunoichi's teammate reached around the blonde and pinned her arms to her sides, pulling her away from the other man.
"Ino, that's enough. He's awake, calm down. C'mon, Ino, ease up girl." Suddenly the Yamanaka went completely still and the Akimichi set her down. She cleared her throat and pulled her hair away from her face. In an instant her angry expression broke into a happy smile and she bounced away from the two men.
Still muttering under his breath and with his hand clamped over his arm, the Nara turned to his companion with a glower. "Why the hell did you let her wake me up?"
The larger ninja shrugged. "I was going to introduce you myself, but she was quicker. As long as you're awake, why don't you go ahead?"
Troublesome…" the Nara sighed. "Fine. Name's Nara Shikamaru. Team 10 of the 12 and 9. Head of ANBU special tactics and intelligence division, codename Owl. Tactical advisor to the acting Shichidaime Hokage. Heir to the Nara clan. Seventeen." The brunette turned to his teammate with a lazy glare. "Happy now? Can I go back to sleep?" Without waiting for an answer he slid down to a sitting position and his head tipped forward. There was silence for a moment, the council still wide-eyed from his 'wake up,' and then the Inuzuka slipped forward and kneeled to look up at the man's face. With a snort he rose again. "He's out."
"Lazy ass," muttered the blonde kunoichi fondly.
"Let him sleep," ordered the still-masked blonde, "and let's finish this up." He nodded to the pink-haired medic.
She stepped slightly forward. "I am Haruno Sakura of Team 7 of the Konoha 12 and of the Rookie 9. Jounin and medic-nin. Head of battlefield medic-corps. Also previously student to Tsunade of the Sannin. Seventeen years old." The black-haired ANBU reached up to his mask from his place behind the kunoichi and she gestured over her shoulder. "This is Uchiha Sasuke, also of Team 7. ANBU codename Jaguar of ANBU Team 5. He's also seventeen."
The remaining two masked men shared a look and Hatake sighed as he reached up to once again remove his snarling wolf mask. Another outbreak of surprised murmurs spread through the room at the appearance of the well-known visage. "Hatake Kakashi, previously sensei of Team 7," he drawled lazily, with his Sharingan eye closed and his gray eye shuttered. "ANBU Wolf, captain of Team 5, acting ANBU commander. Advisor to, and ANBU guard for, the acting Hokage." He stopped, but the blonde made no move to talk. The half-closed eye opened with a roll and gave the masked face the impression of a long-suffering expression. "And I'm thirty-one," he added, "in case you can't do math." The Yondaime's lips twitched as he shared another look with Jiraiya. He also could have sworn he heard his student's future-self mutter under his breath "Ungrateful brats."
The blonde nodded to the other ninja and began his own introduction, mask still in place. "I am the final member of Team 7. ANBU codename Yasei, previously ANBU commander and now acting Shichidaime Hokage. Master of the Sage techniques. Previously a student of Toad Sage Jiraiya of the Sannin. Seventeen years old." Jiraiya startled at the mention of the sage techniques as well as his own name, and recalled one of the hunters-the Inuzuka-claiming that the blonde was the best fighter in Konoha of either of their times. 'Sage at seventeen, huh?' "For various reasons I am not going to unmask or give my real name at this time," the blonde concluded.
Minato rose again. "We will need you to make a list of those shinobi not present for documentation and the testing as well. Now that our guests have introduced themselves, are there any final questions before they depart? If not, we will close until arrangements have been made for the skill-testing."
A/N: Kinda random place to end, but the chapter just kept going and going so I'm gonna split it into two. Thank you to everyone who reviewed even after I hadn't updated in forever! Your lovely comments are the reason why I continued to work on this story instead of abandoning it (even if updating took…four years, heheheh heh, oops). And to ying fa wolf, this would be the (delayed) response to your pm, hope it makes you happy!
1) I read a lot of fics that make Naruto completely unscarred because of the Kyuubi's chakra healing him, but from what I can tell, it only heals him when he's nearly dead or actively using the Kyuubi's chakra. Canon shows him in the hospital, wounded, and with bandages repeatedly, so I reserve the right to give him scars.
1.5) Also, I figure that Kyuubi's chakra focuses on mortal damages and doesn't really bother with the leftover scars. (Yes this is the wound from the Valley of the End). As for the brand, it will be explained later, but this was not a result of an excessively abusive childhood at the hands of the villagers-which also seems to show up in fics a lot.
I mentioned in the previous chapter (all of four years ago) that I am not following the canon events. This is even more true now, so presume things changed dramatically somewhere around the early Shippuden time line.
I know the last half-ish of this was probably pretty boring. But I wanted to get the group's skill levels out there at least a little.
Next chapter should be out much much sooner than this one! I don't have a whole lot of time for anything these days, but I am going to try to get it out within the next week or two, although it will probably be shorter. (It always seems much longer before I post it-it makes me sad)