Team Eight and Anko had spent the day at the pool, having fun, laughing, enjoying each others' company. Even Kurenai had fun, constantly having to remind herself that she's a trained kunoichi with a Genin squad that has to be looked over.
The team departed the village at sunset. The gang packed their bags and left hardly any evidence that they had spent the night in Sunagakure.
The weather was the perfect temperature, not too hot, not too cold. However, everyone knew that pretty soon that the temperature was going to drop.
Before leaving, Kurenai, Anko, and the rest of the Genin had bought more blankets and heavier clothing.
"Well, that was fun." Anko said, a content smile on her face as she stretched. "I never had this much fun on a mission with Genin."
Kurenai chuckled, "I don't think we're supposed to have as much fun as we did on a mission like this. It is a mission, not a field trip."
"It might as well be." Kaori chided in. "The mission was so boring, all we had to do was deliver a piece of paper. We all could have done this mission individually." She scoffed.
"Well, not all missions contain conflict and drama, Kaori." Kurenai said in her motherly-like tone. "Some missions are simple, as some are extremely complicated. I guess we lucked out on an easy C-rank." She told her with a smile.
Kaori snorted, "'Lucked out', my ass. I want to fight." She said simply.
Kurenai hesitated before saying something, "That reminds me... None of you have killed before, correct?"
The Genin paused at hearing Kurenai ask them this, giving her their direct attention. None of them verbally replied, they simply shook their heads.
Kurenai studied them, "I see..."
"Why do you ask, sensei?" Hinata asked, not particularly liking the change in atmosphere.
Their sensei sighed, "Because... There's something I have to make you guys do before you can promote your ranks as shinobi..."
Anko looked at Kurenai. Kurenai looked at Anko. Once Kurenai nodded to the look Anko gave her, Anko closed her eyes and chuckled.
"Boy, this will be interesting." Anko muttered before whistling a happy tune as they continued walking through the sand.
"What do you mean, sensei?" Naruto asks, noting Kurenai's expression.
"Um," Kurenai muttered, thinking about how she'll break the news to her team. She finally decided that being straight forward was what's best.
"I'm going to be straight forward... Before you guys can promote to Chuunin, I have to make you guys kill someone."
Kaori, Hinata, and Naruto had gone silent, letting her words sink in to their ears and into their brain.
"K-Kill someone...?" Hinata whimpered. Her shy persona was back, everyone noticed. Kurenai nodded slowly.
"Well... That's only natural. We're shinobi. The first and most important rule of being a ninja was that we have to be prepared to kill or die in the sake of our village." Kaori stated.
"Yes, exactly." Kurenai said. The Genin noticed how her expression still didn't change, "But it gets a little more complicated than that."
"How so?" Asked Kaori. Kurenai and Anko noted how Naruto was uncharacteristically silent. He was actually sitting back and listening for once.
"You see..." Kurenai started before taking a deep breath. She then sighed, "Never mind. I'll tell you guys when we get back to he village. It's going to be a long explanation, and now isn't the right time to talk about it."
"What the hell?" Kaori exclaimed, "Why not tell us now that you brought it up?"
Kurenai looked at her, "Because, I forgot where we are for a moment. We're out in the middle of the desert in Wind Country, and currently on a mission. Our attention is supposed to be focused solely on the mission, no ifs, ands, or buts."
Kaori groaned, "Way to keep the suspension up. Now we're all going to be wondering what you mean for the rest of the journey home."
"I know," Kurenai replied. "I apologize. Just act as if I didn't say anything."
The rookies of Squad Eight all looked at each other, before chatting amongst themselves, trying to forget about what Kurenai had said, despite how curious they were.
Anko got closer to Kurenai, whispering so that the younger generation behind them wouldn't hear, "You're slipping, Kure-chan."
"I know," Kurenai replied. "I'm still a little new to this whole teaching thing."
Soon, dusk approached, and the temperature was dropping fast. Everyone began to take out the heavy, loose, and hooded clothing that they bought from Suna prior to leaving.
"Shit, you weren't joking about it getting cold..." Kaori said to Kurenai as she clenched onto her hooded jacket that didn't provide as much warmth as she wanted.
"I warned you." Kurenai said back, shivering herself. She wore a jacket similar to Kaori's. Everyone wore identical cotton-made jackets, which helped their bodily temperatures slightly, but not enough for comfort.
... Aside from Anko.
Naruto looked at the Tokubestu Jounin. She was wearing the same thing she wore when leaving the village. She seemed unfazed by the climate, whistling happily as she walked casually with hands behind her head.
She wasn't even wearing her usual trench coat.
"Uh, Anko-sensei?" Naruto called.
"Are you... insane?"
Anko chuckled, "Probably. I've been called that on a number of occasions." She looked at him with a smile, "Why do you ask?"
"Because, you're practically in your underwear, when the rest of us are freezing our asses off with these heavy clothes on..." He said flatly. "... What's wrong with you?"
Anko laughed, as if Naruto told a funny joke. "Why, nothing is wrong with me, Naruto-kun!" She said, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. Naruto had to admit that he liked the contact, it was helping him keep warm a little.
"So why the fuck aren't you wearing any clothes?" Kaori asked, annoyed. She could hear her teeth clicking. She was insanely jealous of Akamaru, who was deep inside both of her jackets, keeping warm even as he had fur to help him do that.
"Anko's cold-blooded." Kurenai spat, making everyone look at her weirdly.
"C-Cold-blooded?" Hinata repeated. She was the coldest out of all of them, having being the thinnest and smallest size out of everyone.
"You're joking, right?" Kaori asked flatly. Anko grinned even wider.
"Nope, Kure-chan's pretty spot on."
"...How." Kaori said in the flattest of tones. She didn't even say it in the form of a question, she said it in a manner that sounded like Anko and Kurenai insulted her intelligence.
"Anko has a summoning contract with snakes." Kurenai began. "She learned a jutsu from them that allowed her to become as cold-blooded as a reptile."
Hinata and Naruto stared at Kurenai funny, "... Summoning contract? Whats that?" Naruto asked.
"Oh, I forgot that they don't teach that in the academy." Kurenai said. "The Summoning Technique is a Ninjutsu that allows a shinobi to transport animals across long distances instantly."
"Huh? That sounds cool!" Naruto said. Before he could rant anything about wanting to learn it, Anko happily elaborated.
"Before an animal summoning can be performed, a shinobi has to sign a contract with a given species beforehand. The contract comes in the form of a scroll which the contractor uses their own blood to sign their name and place their fingerprints on once they're done."
Anko reached into a storage scroll and showed her snake summoning contract to him and Hinata. She laid it flat on the ground and opened it, exposing the written print inside, "After this, he or she only needs to offer an additional donation of blood on the hand they signed the contract with, like so,"
Anko bit her right thumb, blood slowly dripping down from her wound and smeared a line of it onto the contract.
"Uh, Anko...?" Kurenai said apprehensively. Anko continued on, as if she didn't hear her.
"Then they have to mold their chakra with hand seals and then plant the hand they signed the contract with right in the middle of it like so," Anko cracked her knuckles then went through a few hand seals before slamming her hand down onto the contract.
"The amount of chakra used during the summoning determines how powerful the summoned creature can be." She told them with a sly smirk.
Hinata was fascinated, but no where near as much as Naruto.
"So... How much chakra are you using right now?" He asked.
"None. This was just a demonstration." Anko said, much to the relief of Kurenai. "As much as I'd love to show you one of my summonings, I don't think this is the right time."
Naruto frowned slightly.
Anko then looked around, and a silly, exaggerated smile slapped across her face. A face that Kurenai learned to fear over the years.
"Aww, what the hell! We're out in the middle of nowhere I guess I can show you guys!"
Kurenai's eyes widened as Naruto beamed.
"Kuchiyose no Jutsu!"
"Wait, Anko, no-!
"Ugh." Kurenai sighed. "Such a great kunoichi when in serious situations, but no self-restraint in everyday situations..."
She looked at the huge reptile that summoned directly in front of Anko. The thing had to be at least 200 feet long. It wasn't as big as Manda, who was the baddest of the bad when it came to snakes, but it wasn't too far from it. It was a tan-colored snake, with black and brown spots going down its body.
"WHAT THE FUCK?" Naruto shouted at the top of his lungs, almost getting squished from the reptile as it got summoned. Hinata was just as shocked, but nowhere near as loud.
Anko smiled widely, "Guys, meet my favorite summoning, Kora."
Naruto had to look way up at the sky just to see the summoning's face.
"Anko-sama, nice of you to kindly interrupt me from my slumber." Kora says in an annoyed, drowzy tone. Her voice was feminine, but had plenty of bass in it.
"... Of course it talks, too..." Naruto sweatdrops.
Kurenai sighs again before looking at Kaori, "You don't seem suprised."
Kaori shrugs, "Eh, some of my family can perform summonings, so I learned about and seen them for myself a few years ago."
"Sorry, Kora-chan. I wanted you to mee a few friends of mine." Anko says, pointing at the Uzumaki, Hyuuga, and Inuzuka. "Of course, you've met Kurenai before."
"Hi, Kora." Kurenai greeted unenthusiastically, still a bit unsettled from Anko's spontaneousness.
"Kora-chan, meet Naruto," Naruto waved, without changing his facial expression. He was still quite overwhelmed.
"Kaori," Kaori nods.
"And Hinata." Hinata shakily waves her hand, her nerves unsettled from both the climate and witnessing the size of Anko's favorite summoning.
"Nice to meet you." Kora says. She then sets her reptile eyes on Naruto and Hinata. "First time seeing a summoning?"
Naruto and Hinata both had slightly gaping mouths, but nodded to Kora's question.
Anko chuckled, "Thats all I really summoned you for. I wanted to show the team how a summoning was performed."
"You could have done that without actually summoning me." Kora stated. "And showing off one of the biggest snakes in all of existance for them to see their very first summoning might just mess up their nerves a bit."
"That's what I said." Kurenai sighed.
Anko only chuckled, a child-like grin spreading on her face, "They'll be fine. Anyway, if you want to resume your slumber, you can. I didn't mean to disturb you."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah..." Kora rolled her eyes, before vanishing in another puff of smoke.
"So, what'd you guys think?" Anko asked the Genin.
"She's friendly." Kaori said.
"She's... Huge..." Hinata murmured.
"She's... AWESOME!" Naruto bursts. "Oh man, you gotta teach me how to do that, Anko-sensei!"
Anko laughed and ruffled a hand through his hair, "I'll consider it."
Anko could practically feel Kurenai's glare burning a hole through her head.
The Snake Mistress chuckled again, "Just kidding, Kure-chan would approve of no such thing." Naruto frowned. "Besides, I doubt you'll like snakes. Most of them aren't as friendly as Kora."
"And there's also the fact that summoning can consume a lot of chakra." Kurenai added.
Anko nodded, "That's right. Summoning Kora took probably more than half of my overall chakra reserves."
"But I have plenty of chakra! I probably have more than you and Kurenai-sensei!" He exclaimed.
"We wont argue that, Naruto-kun. It still amazes me how that's even possible." Kurenai told him. "But you have almost no chakra control. All of that chakra and no control into a summoning can go wrong really fast." She added before he could brag or boast any further.
"Aw... Such a buzz kill." Naruto pouted, crossing his arms.
"Sorry Naruto-kun, but that's reality." Kurenai responded before she resumed walking, signaling for the rest of the team to resume as well.
Anko wrapped an arm around Naruto again and lined her lips up to his ear, "Don't worry, maybe once you become a little older, I'll consider letting you sign the snake summoning contract. Don't tell, Kure-chan." Anko whispered, making Naruto smile goofily.
"Anko, I'm gonna kick your ass." Kurenai said without even looking back at her.
Anko laughed, "What did I do?" She asked innocently.
The next day, the team had reached Konoha. The rest of the trip there was pretty uneventful, aside from the usual antics from the members there. They had set up camp a bit after stepping out of the desert and continued their journey in the morning.
It was now noon, and they stepped through the main gates of their home village and all smiled. Kotetsu and Izumo, the entrance guards nodded to Anko and Kurenai, who nodded back.
"Well, good job on todays mission, team." Kurenai says.
"Even though we didn't do shit?" Kaori muttered.
"Hush. Anyway, Anko and I are going to send the reports to the Hokage. You guys have the rest of the day off." Kurenai tells them. At her students' nods, she places a hand on Anko's shoulder and they both vanish in a puff of smoke.
"At least it was better than doing stupid D-ranks." Naruto says. Kaori shrugs in agreement.
"So what do you guys wanna do? We have the whole day off, and it's still early." Kaori asks.
"I'm starving! How about we go get some of Ichiraku's?" Naruto offers.
Kaori grins, "Then back to the Inuzuka compound?"
Naruto and Hinata smile, "Sounds like a plan!" Naruto says.
Hiruzen Sorutobi was busy, up to his throat in paperwork when suddenly a knock on his office door caught his attention.
"Enter." He said. The door opened and in walked Anko and Kurenai.
"Ah, Kurenai and Anko. I assume everything went well for your team's first C-rank?"
"Yes," Kurenai responded. "The scroll has been delivered successfully."
"Excellent." He says. He then reaches into one of his drawers in his desk. "Here's your and your team's payment for the mission." He hands her an envelope.
"Thank you, Hokage-sama."
He nods, but notes Anko's and Kurenai's expressions, "Did something happen during the mission? Are your students alright?"
"Yes, they are fine. However, Anko has some very vital intel regarding Orochimaru."
Sorutobi's eyes widen just a bit in interest. He looks at Anko.
"I see... And you're sure you saw him eliminate the Fourth Kazekage?"
"Positive." Anko answers, "He slit his throat, killed all his bodyguards, and sealed his body. Not exactly in that order."
"This is a surprise... I would have never expected Orochimaru to do such a thing. But then again, it is Orochimaru we're talking about." He mumbles, deep in thought.
"What do you think are his intentions?" Kurenai asks.
The Third Hokage of The Hidden Leaf Village is deep in thought. It takes him a minute before he answers, "The Chuunin Exams are going to take place in around three weeks. My guess would be that he intends to impose as the Kazekage before and during the Chuunin exams until he decides to invade us."
"That's exactly what we thought." Kurenai states.
"But he should know that not even all of Suna is enough to take down Konoha." Says Hiruzen.
"I think he has a trick or two up his sleeves." Anko says. "He must have more people than that backing him up on this. Possibly some of his experiments that shared a similar fate as me are under his rule, too."
"This is true..." He says rubbing his chin. "And knowing him, he probably still has more tricks up his sleeves than that."
"Such as?" Asks Anko.
"I'm not sure. But I know my ex-student, and I know he's full of surprises." He says, making Anko nod in agreement.
"Out of curiousity... What do you plan to do, Hokage-sama?" Kurenai asks. "Are you going to cancel the Chuunin Exams?"
"No, the Chuunin Exams are a bit difficult to cancel on such short notice, and I doubt the Daimyo would approve of such a thing."
"Not even if we tell them that Orochimaru assassinated the Kazekage?" Kurenai asked in a bit of surprise.
"Well... They might. But the main reason why I'm not considering cancelling the exams is because it would show the other countries that we're afraid, and Konoha is anything but." Kurenai was about to say something when Sorutobi held up a hand to silence her. "I'm aware that a confrontation will spark during the exams, and people may die. However, this can avoid other confrontations from other countries in the future. Once any other country sees a sign of weakness in us, they wont hesitate to attack."
Kurenai was about to say something, but decided against it.
"I know you're concerned, Kurenai." He says sympathetically. "But I'm the Hokage and I'm prepared for a moment like this. During the exams, I'll have heavy security and surveillance disclosed everywhere around the village. I'll make sure that we're keeping an eye out on anything suspicious."
Anko and Kurenai nodded.
"And here," Their leader reaches into a desk drawer again, "Take this." He says with a smile.
Kurenai and Anko both have widened eyes at what was being held out to them. Anko was the first to take it from the hand being held out to her and count it. "... Two million ryu?" She asks incredulously.
Kurenai's eyes widened even more as she looked at the Hokage. He chuckles and nods, gesturing for her to take the wad of currency from him. "That was S-ranked intel that you both shared with me. Almost Double S." He smiles. "This is the least I could do."
"T-Thank you, Hokage-sama!" Kurenai says, shocked at how much money she was earning. She takes the money and immediately bows in respect. Anko follows her gesture right after.
"No, thank you. It's good to see I have such hard working and trustworthy kunoichi at my command."
Anko and Kurenai bowed before their leader again, "Anything to serve for you and our village, Hokage-sama." They say simultaneously.