Hi, I have finally finished the next chapter after I lost all my previously written work on this story. I also had to re-read the previous parts of the story to not forget anything I already wrote.
I'm sorry for the really long wait. Now I hope you enjoy the new chapter.
Naruto, Hinata and Sai were waiting for Kakashi to arrive at the training grounds. They would take their first C-rank mission today. They had all packed their supplies and were ready for this. They had absolved two weeks of massive training to get the permission to go out of the village on a mission. It was a really good time for this as the jonin senseis normally trained their teams for at least four weeks. They knew that as a fresh team they would only get a low level C-rank, but it was a lot better than the D-ranks that they had performed at the academy.
"What do you think we will be doing?" Sai asked.
"Probably some kind of transport mission. Yugito said that was what she and her team mostly got in the beginning." Naruto said.
"No matter what it will be, it will be nice to get a real mission finally. I'm just glad that with the new system we don't have to do D-ranks after graduating anymore. Father told me about them and it never made sense to me that genin should do chores only to build teamwork." Hinata added.
"Well, thanks to dad that isn't the case anymore. Perhaps we get an easy protection mission soon." Naruto pondered.
"Good morning, team." They heard Kakashi's voice.
"Good morning, Kakashi sensei." They responded turning towards their sensei.
"I see you are ready for the mission. Let's head to the tower." Kakashi stated.
The three children followed their sensei and once inside the mission office stood next to him.
"Ah, team 15. You are really early getting a C-rank." Minato commented.
"They are ready, sensei." Kakashi stated.
"I don't doubt it. Your mission is getting the last shipment of supplies for our hospital from Tea Country. The ship arrives tomorrow at ten in the morning. Kakashi, you will check the delivery and seal the things in storage scrolls. The hospital needs the supplies fast, so go at full speed." Minato said.
"Understood." Kakashi said and accepted the scroll. "Captain Muramau again? I didn't see him since I was a chunin."
"Yes, the old sailor is still working for us. Give him my best wishes." Minato said smiling.
"I will sensei." Kakashi confirmed.
"Naruto, Hinata, Sai, I expect a good performance from you on this mission." Minato said, looking at each of the young genin.
"We will, Hokage Sama / Dad." They answered at the same time.
Minato nodded smiling and dismissed them. He only hoped that everything went well. But all three were strong and Kakashi was S-ranked. There was a reason that he was this team's sensei. Nobody in their right mind would dare attack them if they coincidentally ran across them.
Naruto, Hinata and Sai fell into a practiced formation behind Kakashi who led the way towards Tea Country. He informed them about the current political situation of the country which was stable, even if in the port town where they would get the supplies for the hospital two rivaling families were fighting for supremacy. It was always decided which family ruled by a traditional race which would be held a month after the chunin exams in Konoha. The journey to Tea country took about six hours by shinobi speed. Inside the country they used a route that had been cleared for shinobi travel by the Tea Daimyo. It was simply easier. Kakashi registered his team at the border to make sure nobody would give them problems. While Tea Country was an ally of Konoha and Fire Country, procedures had to be followed to avoid stress.
Once they reached the city Kakashi let them set up camp. They did with practiced ease. Kakashi once again was happy how well the academy prepared the students for real shinobi life. During the past two weeks he had taught the three a new jutsu each, drilled them in speed and reflexes, taught them the basics of chakra sensing and went over basic mission skills. They would be ready to face whatever a mission such as this could throw at them. And medical deliveries in times of peace weren't normal targets for other shinobis. Bandits were more likely to be interested in them, therefore shinobi were tasked to collect them.
The dinner consisted of rice with vegetables and fish that Sai had caught. Naruto didn't like hunting because he could understand the animals. It had been a problem at first, but as long as he didn't have to kill animals himself he could live with it. Fishing was normally the only way he could procure formerly living food as he couldn't hear the fishes underwater. He still didn't like it and normally left that chore to Sai or Hinata. The two had no problems with it. Naruto took the job of collecting wood normally or setting up camp.
At nine the next morning they broke up their camp to go to the harbor. They would wait for the ship to arrive and then quickly check their delivery. It was normal procedure, knowing that greedy folk was normal at harbors. They would try and take some parts of deliveries and exchange it for lower quality goods. Minato knew that Captain Muramau would never cheat Konoha, but he couldn't guarantee it for the workers in the harbor. So he ensured that each time a new delivery was coming a Konoha team was already present when the ship came into the harbor. Even a genin team would easily be able to deal with this kind of mission.
Finally Kakashi spotted the ship coming in and informed his students about it. The sailors stirred the ship to an anchoring place and tied it to the poles on the docks. Then the captain walked down, barking instructions at his subordinates who quickly set to follow his orders.
"Now if that isn't little Kakashi Hatake. Good to see you again." The captain said.
"Nice to see you again too, Captain Muramau. It's been a long time." Kakashi greeted with an eye smile.
"That's true. I think you were a chunin when I last saw you and your teammates were only genin. It must have at least been over fifteen years now. How is your sensei doing? I heard he came back from the dead." Captain Muramau asked.
"He is well and sends his best wishes." Kakashi replied.
"Good to hear, now let's see your team. What are their specialties? Nowadays your Konoha genin are really good. I was surprised when I met the first team that graduated under your new program. I didn't want to believe that they were fresh genin, the behaved like veteran genin ready to take the chunin exams." The captain commented.
"Sure, well, let's do this from left to right. That's Sai and he specializes in long-range ninjutsu and genjutsu, next is Hinata Hyuga who naturally trains in juuken and also is good with medical jutsus, last is Naruto Namikaze with a focus on ninjutsu and fuinjutsu." Kakashi introduced them and they bowed politely.
"Well, you definitely look a lot like your father, Naruto. That hair is unforgettable. I'll keep an eye and an ear out to see if you can become as famous as he is." Muramau said.
"I will work hard on it, captain." Naruto said.
"I'm sure you will. Now let's get to your job. The crates are in storage room 4 Kakashi. All in all there are seventeen crates this time." Captain Muramau told them. "I also have overheard some interesting rumors."
"Why don't we go to your office to talk about said rumors and let my students seal up the crates. Hinata, you know what to look for." Kakashi said.
"Understood, Kakashi sensei." Hinata said.
"The storage room is on the left when you go under deck." Captain Muramau informed them and got nods from all three.
They quickly went down while Kakashi and the captain went to his office.
"So what kind of rumors did you hear captain? You wouldn't have mentioned it if it wasn't important." Kakashi asked.
"The first concerns a group of shinobi mercenaries. I heard that many villages use them for high level missions to save money. You know keeping high level shinobi is costly and this group offers a good alternative. Now only the big villages can afford to train ninjas up to A and S rank. With Konoha being the one with most S rank ninjas in its ranks. Other villages are getting envious of your strength and will try to undermine it, probably using the mercenary group. The second one is that Wave Country could be in trouble. There has been a change in power over the shipping business by Gato of Gato Enterprises. The man is known as a ruthless businessman. It must have happened some time ago, because before we could approach Wave really easily. Nowadays they have tighter security and all business is done solely by Gato's ships. We only heard about it because others that formerly got jobs from the Wave Daimyo didn't get new contracts since a year ago." Muramau told Kakashi.
"That could be a problem. We don't need a crime lord at our borders. While Wave isn't big, it's strategically well-positioned. I will tell the Hokage about this. Thank you for the information." Kakashi said.
"No problem. I'm loyal to Konoha and Fire Country. I don't fancy seeing a new war soon. It's better if conflicts can be kept to a limited dimension." Captain Muramau said.
Kakashi only nodded. His sensei had a similar opinion. While ninjas were trained to fight, in a war too many died uselessly. When Kakashi returned to his team they were already done with sealing the delivered good in sealing scrolls. They were all invited by Captain Muramau to lunch and got to listen to some stories about the things he had seen during his long years as a sailor, especially one that was employed by Konoha for decades. The young genin listened with rapt attention when he described encounters with Kiri ninjas, pirates, the occasional Kumo ninja and the natural dangers the sea posed. None of the three knew much about sailing, but they were fascinated by the stories. Finally after an hour they bid the captain goodbye to return to Konoha. Kakashi knew that meeting Captain Muramau was something of a passage rite with genin in Konoha. It was like catching Tora had been in his genin times. And yes, the cat had been alive back then too. He was really glad that Naruto had tamed her. If you hadn't met Captain Muramau you had missed an important part in your training.
Kushina was scouting the hideout she had been told was used by one of Orochimaru's subordinates. Kami Sama had tasked her with first going after the Snake Sannin. Shinigami Sama was more than annoyed that the man had developed a jutsu that deprived him of his rightful price of collecting his soul after dying. And Orochimaru should have died twice already. But to kill him and drag him back to the afterlife Kushina needed a bit more information about his plans and when there would be a good opportunity to strike against him. Even in Kami Sama's domain you didn't get to know everything that was going on at Earth. There was a reason after all that warrior angels were sent to deal with the worst problems that the living most of the times didn't manage to take care of themselves. Not that people knew about that. The angels were disguised as humans after all.
This hideout was underground and built to defend against intruders. The long spiraling path to the center gave the inhabitants more than enough time to stop any incoming attack if it was spotted. Thankfully an angel could turn invisible with a thought. She just had to suppress her chakra and she wouldn't be noticed except somebody ran into her. But that was really improbable. There didn't seem to be many people living here. Most of the rooms she had looked into with a special jutsu that Aohoshi had taught her had been empty. Perhaps one in fifty was occupied. This base didn't seem very important right now, but perhaps she could find better information in the center. It took over an hour to get there while checking each room by touching the door with her hand, turning it see-through with her touch.
The main archive of the base was really interesting. She used one of Kami Sama's administration techniques to duplicate all the scrolls and papers without having to touch them in any way. This way she could later look through them when she had more time. And nobody would suspect that an enemy could have this information, which would mean procedures wouldn't be changed before it was deemed necessary. And strong security measures took time to come up with. As far as she knew Orochimaru didn't have access to really unique sealing techniques. He was knowledgeable, but nowhere near the level an Uzumaki or a Namikaze would be. When she was done, she silently went back to the entrance, only to stop at a room she hadn't noticed before. She decided to quickly look inside.
Through the door she could see that there were two children in the room. A girl and a boy. They looked frightened. She decided that the children couldn't stay here, not with that monster Orochimaru. But how to do it without alarming anybody? She was sure that there were alarms connected to the doors. She only got away so far because she didn't open the doors. And she wasn't an earth element, so she couldn't just glide through the walls. But who said a seal mistress like her needed to be one? She quickly drew some seals on the door and a hole appeared. She quickly went inside, knocked the two children out with a senbon to the neck, took a sample of their blood and put the two in sealing scrolls, she could hardly escape dragging two children with her and the scrolls were specially made to transport people in a stasis. Normally it would be used for heavily injured people, but it worked this way too.
Then she put some seals on two left over bowls and put the taken blood onto the seals. The bowls transformed into lookalikes of the two children. It would take some time until anybody managed to notice the difference except they looked closely. And from the state the children were in that couldn't be that often. Perhaps it would be long enough to use the information she got properly. She went back through the hole, let it disappear again and left the base under her invisibility jutsu. Nobody would be any wiser for a long time. Now on to the next location she wanted to investigate before she went to Konoha to surprise her family.
Back in Konoha Kakashi reported a mostly unproblematic mission. The only part that was worth mentioning was a stupid trio of bandits that thought they could steal from a Konoha team. They had been really drunk in their defense. Normally the bandits by now knew that even fresh genin teams from Konoha were more than a match for normal bandits. Only those bandits with missing ninjas were a problem and dangerous. The number of bandits in Fire Country had massively decreased over the last six years due to the better Konoha teams that regularly went to deal with them. After all, if the genin could already deal with them and there were so many of them, what chance would they have to make profit in their careers? None, that was the answer. But some were too stupid to realize that.
Minato listened to the report and nodded at the performance that Kakashi described that his team had shown. It was perfect given the situation. They had dealt with the bandits quickly and sealed them up in prisoner scrolls after tying them up. Now Minato had the scrolls on his desk and would either hand them over to Ibiki for information gathering or if they had a bounty on their heads, first let Ibiki interrogate them and then turn them over to the respective authorities to collect the bounties. If they didn't have bounties they would get seals placed on them and be sent to work in the many farming areas of Konoha. Or for the really evil ones the mines. Danzo had been the one to suggest that letting the bandits work off their sentences was more profitable than having to keep them in prison and pay for their food. Minato agreed. It wasn't a well-known practice especially the civilians knew nothing of this.
It was a need to know base and only the highest ranking ninjas that worked in the area were informed. Civilians would start protesting that Konoha practiced slavery, a practice that had been outlawed long ago, but Minato had a different opinion. If they broke the law like the bandits did and hurt citizens of Fire Country, he as the head of the ninja village had the right to ensure they wouldn't do it again. And working a few years depending on the severity of their crime was more than appropriate. Danzo's ROOT seals ensured that those that were released never talked about this. While the teams wondered why they had to capture all bandits alive nowadays they figured it was for information gathering. After all, bandits got into places ninjas normally didn't.
"Good work, team fifteen. I will make sure T & I gets us all the information these bandits have. Your payment will be transferred to your accounts. Your time for the mission was also very good considering you had to deal with them. I will remark that in your files." Minato complimented the team.
"Thank you, Hokage Sama/ Dad." The genin said.
"Okay, that's all for now. You can get a new mission in three days. You are dismissed. Kakashi, please stay." Minato said and the genin bowed and left the room.
"What did you want to talk about, sensei?" Kakashi asked.
"What, can't I simply want to know more about my son's first mission outside the village?" Minato protested.
"You will ask Naruto tonight when you are back at home anyway, so that can't be the reason you held me back." Kakashi countered.
"Mah, you're no fun, Kakashi." Minato mock pouted and then turned serious. "There have been reports about that new village in Rice Country, Oto."
"What kind of reports?" Kakashi asked.
"Nothing much. They are a new village and only a few teams have been noticed taking missions. But strangely some missing nins that went to Rice Country didn't leave again. That could mean that somebody lets missing nins stay there. As we share a border with Rice Country at the Valley of the End, I am ordering more border patrols. I am informing all the jonin of this to avoid our genin teams getting into too much trouble." Minato explained. "As long as we don't have better information we will keep it to increased alertness. The chunin exams will be hosted by us next time. I suspect that Oto will apply to be allowed to participate with at least one team."
"I will keep my eyes open. What kind of village insignia do they use?" Kakashi asked.
"A musical note. For now the village will be classified as 'Approach with Caution'. Inform your students about this fact please." Minato instructed Kakashi.
"I will sensei." Kakashi said.
"Alright, get some rest and come over for dinner tomorrow." Minato told Kakashi.
"Who will cook?" Kakashi asked wearily.
"Naruto will. Mum first wanted to, but he managed to talk her out of that idea. And you know Naruto is a fairly good cook." Minato said shuddering at the thought of his mother Tsunade's cooking.
"I will be there." Kakashi promised and left the office.
That's it for now. I am working on the next chapters. Until then.