Ch. 22 Assistance
"Wow, that's one big bridge." Naruto whispered as the sight of a large unfinished bridge came into view from the fog surrounding the area at the time.
"Bet it will look better when it's done." Hinata whispered while she held onto him from behind.
Isaribi meanwhile was looking into the water from her position on the front of the snake they were riding. 'Wish I could go for a quick swim. Guess I can wait a bit longer.'
Naruto, Hinata, and Isaribi were riding one snake while Haku, Fuu, and Sasame were riding another, both teams creating a defense around the snake that was carrying Anko, Kurenai, Tsunami, and Inari. So far there were no problems other than a lot of mist, which had Hinata activate her byakugan to keep an eye out. Luckily no one who didn't already know of her kekkei genkai could see her use it.
'Wish I could talk to Naruto about this opportunity, but with Isaribi-chan so close I don't think I should.' Hinata quickly commented in her head. The 'opportunity' she had in mind was telling the other girls about Naruto's need for multiple women since they were all in the same place together. A better chance would probably never come along. 'Ah what the hell, if she hears us talking she might actually support the idea. And it might get her what she wants too.'
"Hey, Naru-kun..." She whispered into his ear to catch his attention.
"Yes, Hina-chan?" He replied somewhat above a whisper.
"While we're here on this mission, do you think we oughta tell everyone about your situation?" Hinata asked.
Naruto gave the aforementioned team a quick glance before answering. "It might be a good idea. But should we do it before or after the mission is over?"
"What situation, Naruto-kun?" Isaribi asked, pretty sure she knew which one but choosing to play innocent.
"Umm... something the sannin told me about that's kind of difficult to just come out and say." Naruto nervously answered.
"Is there anything I can do to help you with it?" Isaribi asked, trying her hardest to pretend to be unaware. Her blush wasn't helping.
"That depends. You might not like it once you hear it."
"And if I'm okay with it?"
Naruto wasn't expecting that response, so he thought over it and sighed. "Then I would love to have you help me out."
Isaribi turned so he couldn't see her blush or perverted grin. 'Bingo. That's all the invitation I need.'
Once they reached land and continued to Tsunami and Inari's hometown the area felt unhostile so they didn't move in a hurry. However they did avoid any main roads and stuck to moving within the forest and tree tops. Years of being told to be as secretive and discreet as possible when on missions created such behavior in Oto ninja. At the moment they were on the ground for the sake of their clients. The summoned snakes quickly left the area since they didn't feel needed anymore.
After about twenty minutes of moving Anko and Kurenai came to a stop, making the rest of their group stop as well. "Listen. You guys hear that?"
All ears strained to catch any unusual noise. At first all they could hear were normal forest sounds, but a subtle note of metal hitting metal could be heard to a few of the genin. "Sounds like a fight's going on." Sasame stated.
"Hinata, check it out." Anko ordered.
Said girl nodded and activated her byakugan. What she saw made her gasp. "There's a fight east-northeast of us, and it looks like Momochi-sama is in it."
"Otou-san?" Haku asked, having no idea her adoptive father, whom she respected a hundredfold more than her biological one, was anywhere near here. "What's he doing here?"
"No idea. Who's he fighting?" Kurenai asked.
"I see him fighting one man with white hair directly, and there are three kids our age standing by another older man. One of the three kids just threw a large collapsible shuriken... but it missed Momochi-sama. All are wearing Konoha hitai-ates." Hinata told everyone.
"Dammit." Anko said under her breath.
"What's the older man look like?" Tsunami asked as she pulled out a photo in one of her pockets. "Is this him?"
With her byakugan Hinata barely needed a second to find out. "Yes that's him. He's your father I'm assuming?"
"Yes. He's not in danger is he?"
Hinata shook her head. "He's guarded well, but that's only because the three ninja around him are just genin at best. They know they have no chance against someone like Zabuza Momochi-sama."
"Why's he fighting them?" Fuu asked.
"There's only one way to find out. We gotta get him out of the fight and come to us, but without the Konoha shinobi finding out we're here." Kurenai analyzed.
"Won't that be interfering with his own mission?" Naruto asked.
"I highly doubt Otokage-sama would assign us to transport these people home safely while assigning another person to kill one of their relatives." Anko told her student. "What would be the point? It would increase the risk of the client seeing the death and we'd get bad publicity and risk losing future business. And besides, what threat to anyone can the old man pose?"
"He poses a threat to Gato, that's for sure." Tsunami replied, making Inari nod.
Haku took a step forward. "Sensei, let me be the one to handle Otou-san. He'll be more understanding and forgiving if I'm the one who does it. Plus, I've got the necessary tools to do it without revealing our presence."
Kurenai thought it over for a second, and nodded. "Go right ahead Haku."
Haku reached into her pack and pulled out a mask resembling that of a Kiri hunter ninja. One of the best strategies employed by Oto nin on the job in the past had been pretending to be allied to other villages while doing dirty work, thus lowering the reputation of rival villages while keeping their own unknown. Sometimes they pretended to be one of their allies to raise their reputation too. Haku generally played the role of a Kiri shinobi as a way of getting back at her birth village for what they tried to do to her.
With her disguise in place Haku went into the trees to act out her role. Hinata kept watching in case something happened to go wrong. Not that she expected it to, after all Haku did have field experience so she knew what she was doing.
Haku perched on a branch and concealed her chakra as best she could. Nobody in her line of sight suspected a thing. She noticed that only one of the Konoha ninja was actually giving Zabuza any trouble, and that one was a white-haired man with most of his face covered. Haku arched an eyebrow when she saw him like that. 'The mask I can understand, but doesn't having one of his eyes covered affect his depth perception and range of vision? Since he's dripping wet I guess that means he was caught in a water prison but somehow got out recently. And since he's the oldest, I'm going to assume he's a jounin sensei and those are his genin students.'
Waiting for the right moment, she decided to analyze the genin present as well. 'Wow, that pink-haired girl really stands out, even more than Naruto-kun's outfit does. And the way she's standing and watching tells me she's not really prepared for being in real shinobi situations. Probably a civilian descendant. The two boys look less shocked so they probably come from clans. The one in blue looks like he's itching to get in the fight, but the other one seems to know to keep his distance. They all look like this is their first time out of the village and weren't expecting much to encounter.'
Zabuza and the Konoha jounin both did water dragon attacks at the same time, and both looked out of breath. 'Now's my chance.' Haku then pulled out her senbon needles and threw them with great accuracy at a few pressure points on her adoptive father's neck. They hit their mark and he fell down. Before the Konoha jounin could get a good look, she jumped to land behind Zabuza. "Thanks for weakening him for me. I'll take it from here." She then grabbed him, and shushined the two away back towards her group before anyone could ask any questions. If that jounin was competent in any way, he'd figure out she wasn't a real hunter nin and she wanted to be out of their before her bluff was called.
Once she got back to her allies, Haku removed the senbon as gently as she could. Zabuza still groaned in pain. "Sorry about that, but we figured you needed to get out of there."
Zabuza immediately recognized her voice. "What are you doing here?"
"That's actually what we want to ask you." Anko stated, standing over the swordsman.
Zabuza coughed before answering. "Otokage-sama... told me to come here a few days ago. Wanted me to keep an eye out for Konoha nin around the main town."
Anko didn't look all that surprised. 'Hmm... so you sent someone in ahead of us Jii-san? Is it because you were worried about us, or do you suspect more then you told me? Knowing him, I suspect the latter.'
"How'd you get here before us?" Sasame asked.
Zabuza weakly laughed, then ached. "I'm a jounin for a reason kid."
Kurenai knelt down to face him better. "What can you tell us about those you were just fighting against?"
"Not much. Other than the one competent one was apparently Konoha's Copy-nin Kakashi Hatake."
Anko looked disturbed and then knelt down as well. "Seriously? You're sure it was him?"
"Yeah. He had a single sharingan and mimicked all my moves trying to psych me out."
Anko growled and balled up her fist. Then, surprising and frightening everyone else, she stopped and smiled. "At least I finally get to kick his ass."
"You know the guy nee-chan?" Naruto asked.
Anko nodded. "Not in a good way otouto. Let's just say back in Konoha he was one of those that called for your death and he once threw a kunai at me for defending you when I was six." She then gingerly touched her shoulder where she still had the scar from that event.
Tsunami stepped forward. "Sorry to say this, but if they're with my father then that guarantees you'll be running into them at my house shortly."
"Try not to fight too much; we don't want to lose our home to more violent jerks." Inari practically commanded.
"We'll take it outside if it comes to that kid." Anko told them, then faced everyone all together. "Alright everyone, let's try to get to their home before the old man and his guards do. Naruto, think you can fly us one more time?"
"Sorry sensei, but I'd rather conserve my strength for now. Besides, we need Tsunami-san to lead us." He answered.
"Okay then, so let's get moving. Bring Zabuza-san with us too so he can be treated."
"What will my grandpa and those ninja say if they see you bring him to our house?" Inari asked.
"We'll treat him elsewhere, and it would be best if neither of you said a word about this. Don't want any unnecessary violence on your property do you?" Kurenai asked as she hoisted Zabuza onto Anko's back to be carried.
"Will you be staying at our house until this mission for you is over?" Tsunami asked.
"Under the circumstances, I personally think it would be best if we don't. What do you guys think?" Anko replied before addressing all other shinobi.
"I gotta agree. Housing ninja from rival villages under one roof can only bring about disastor." Kurenai added.
"But why do we have to be the ones to stay outside?" Sasame asked.
"One, we got someone who needs to recuperate without interference, and two, we need to check around the town to see any suspicious activity involving leaf nin and we can't do that if a group of leaf nin are aware we're here and they can keep their eyes on us." Kurenai explained.
"Plus, it never hurts to have a little survival training and experience thrown in." Anko commented. "Now let's get going we've wasted enough time as it is."
Everyone then rushed to their destination, even the clients.
About an hour later, Tazuna unlocked the door to his house and went inside, along with his ninja bodyguards. "Hello? Anyone here?" He called out since it sounded quieter than he expected.
Tsunami poked her head out from the kitchen. "Welcome back Otou-san. Glad to see you're not hurt. How was the trip?"
No one suspected a thing.