Alright, chapter 11 is up. Thanks for all of your reviews and your continued support. Happy reading.
Ups and Downs of Training
Over the next week Kakashi kept his team busy and mostly out of the sight of the villagers. The only things anybody heard were from stories councillor Haruno spread, those that her daughter told her, that was if Sakura wasn't too tired to do more than showering, eating and falling into her bed. It was one point the loud councillor was complaining about, the inhuman training her daughter was forced to do.
Isami Haruno was not happy that her little princess, who was meant to become the wife of the last Uchiha and bring her family more power through said marriage, was doing that kind of training. It would disfigure her beautiful body. She would get calluses on her soft hands, which would push any man away. Her shiny silky hair didn't get the necessary care and was losing its silkiness. But she had to stay on the team to prevent any other girls from stealing the boy for themselves. And then there was the fact that her little girl was always forced to be in company of the demon. But all her complaints with the Hokage had been ignored. The only way that he would change the teams would be after the chunin exams if Kakashi nominated his team for them. The teams were made for good reasons.
Normally she and her fellow civilian councillors would have done something to sabotage the demon, but for some reason the Hokage now kept a stricter eye on them and had taken away their ability to command ninjas to do their bidding. No ninja would listen to them, citing they weren't part of the chain of command. And yesterday they had been called in for a meeting of both parts of the council with the Hokage. It hadn't been a nice meeting.
The Hokage had taken away their responsibility for the ninja academy. His reasoning was that the academy was part of the military, run by teachers that were ninja. The future ninjas of the village were taught there and therefore the curriculum was the responsibility of the military, not the civilian council. So now the shinobi council was tasked with proposing a new curriculum as the graduation results in the last three years had been abysmal. Only teams that consisted of mostly clan children passed the tests of their jonin senseis and most tests were reasonably levelled for a team to have a chance to pass them. That only thirty three per cent on average passed those tests was alarming and wouldn't be accepted anymore.
The villagers that requested genin teams for jobs, hoping to get to see the last Uchiha were disappointed. All jobs like weeding gardens, babysitting, grocery shopping and walking dogs were done by teams eight and ten. It wasn't that team seven didn't do any missions; Kakashi just selected the physically most demanding ones and the ones outside the village walls. One of his favourites was catching Tora. So far team seven had chased the cat three times in two weeks. Some jobs like painting fences, repairing roofs after bad weather, painting houses and the like, jobs that required handicraft skills in general were done by groups of shadow clones of Naruto Uzumaki. Many had questioned why he did those missions without his team and got the answer that he didn't have clan funds to fall back on or a family to help him pay his bills, so he had asked the Hokage to do a few more D-rank missions to earn more money.
With the newer residents of the village, those that had moved here after the Uchiha massacre, the boy was fairly well-liked. They had heard about his pranks and his disrespect to everybody, but were surprised about the image they now got after meeting the boy in person. While he was distant, he was perfectly polite and did his jobs well. The older villagers tried to demand other genins to take the missions they handed in, but the mission office told them to either accept who they got sent or do the work themselves. Many then just glared at Naruto and his clones, but Naruto had too much experience with dealing with hateful villagers to react to it anymore.
The Hokage had ordered the ones working at the mission office to not give in to any demands regarding complaints about Naruto taking missions. Additionally a chunin that the Hokage trusted absolutely was to inspect the missions once Naruto was done to avoid hateful civilians cheating on the money for well-done jobs. As the village had too many D-rank missions to do all the time, he didn't want to lose the one genin that did more than requested voluntarily. And with so many D-ranks getting done, the village also earned more money. With time the chunin at the mission office got used to the blond and started treating him better. There always were those that couldn't get over their long standing grudges, but their numbers were falling. It didn't really mean the number of people that liked Naruto got bigger, but many stopped disliking him. He was a genin, doing his missions for the village properly and he didn't even complain once about his missions. That alone was earning him respect.
The kind of training Kakashi was putting his team and himself through was also spreading in the ranks. Gai had been ecstatic that his eternal rival was finally embracing his flames of youth again and had stopped with his tardiness. The more reliable information came from Asuma though, who had an idea what Kakashi was doing with his team. Many were astonished that he had put his genin under resistance seals and had them work the whole day on training and missions. Those in the mission office knew that most missions Kakashi had his team do were physically demanding. And he seemed to take sadistic pleasure in having them hunt Tora.
On Monday morning after their laps and their normal exercises, Kakashi deactivated the resistance seals on Sasuke and Sakura. They needed to get used to their new speed and strength regularly or they would have problems if they ever deactivated their seals in a fight. Sasuke was testing his new speed amazed. This was fantastic. He felt light like a feather. And this was the effect after only two weeks of working out with the seals. What would he be able to do after six months?
Sakura was equally astonished. Her speed had also increased, even if not to the same level as Sasuke's. But she felt problems with coordinating her limbs. The higher speed required her to move differently. She had to move her legs faster to control her movements. She could also lift the weights easier and managed more weight as well.
Naruto had kept his seals activated. If he really deactivated them he would probably be subject of a new wave of jealousy from Sasuke. If he was required to give a demonstration he could reduce their level back down to level four. It would still mean a huge difference. He would see if he could have a sparring match against Kakashi at full speed sometime soon when the other two weren't present.
The day was a revelation and also an encouragement for the genin of team seven. Kakashi knew he had to have them experience the results of their hard work to keep them motivated. Well at least that was true for Sasuke and Sakura. Naruto knew why he worked hard and was way above the other two in skills already. He hoped at the end of the month he really could take his team on C-ranks. He wasn't concerned for Sasuke. He would be ready without question. But Sakura had to accept that there was no way she could survive as a ninja another way than his training. Team seven was a combat unit. Naruto and Sasuke the heavy hitters and Sakura the support and, if she worked on it, genjutsu user. Combat teams got more dangerous missions than capture and interrogation specialists like team ten, or trackers like team eight.
"Okay, team. Now that you have got used to your new abilities a bit, we will speed up your acclimation with them some. Meaning fast movements on a moment's notice. Naruto, I need a hundred clones." Kakashi said.
Sakura paled. A hundred of those infernal clones? What had Kakashi sensei planned?
Naruto just made the handseal and created the clones Kakashi wanted.
"I want you to split in five teams. One team of ten is going to the area where we hunted before and get us a few rabbits and apples for lunch. The second and third team of fifteen are going to pelt Sakura and Sasuke with rubber balls to get them used to their new speed and how to control their new strength. Twenty five will do the same with Naruto and the last thirty five are working with me with senbons. But not the poisoned ones." Kakashi instructed. "The same rules as always, only deflecting the balls with your hands, otherwise dodging."
The clones nodded and separated in teams with ten taking off into the woods outside the village to get food. It was nice of Kakashi to give them the opportunity to collect a few more furs. The caravan was due in a week again and he could earn a good amount of money with the furs. And the caravan was his favourite place to get some unusual weapons and more outfits. While Jakonato's was great for his normal needs, there was a merchant with the caravan that sold weapons from Iron Country and one from River Country where a guild of ninja tailors was living in a village whose clothes were simply amazing. Their clothes were made of chakra conductive threads and accordingly expensive. Therefore he needed to save the money for a very special piece of clothing.
His father had theorized it in his journal, but never had the time to test it completely. Naruto wanted to have a cape like his father's, in colours of his liking, which would allow him to place seals on that would enable him to fly. His wind manipulation was advanced enough to channel wind chakra though such a material. He had worked out the seals; he now just needed the cape. He had placed his order six months ago when the caravan had been here last and the merchant had assured him the cape would be ready when they returned. With all the money from the D-rank missions, the fur, hides and feathers sales, his collection of money from the now dead participants of the chunin exams and his normal income he wouldn't have any problems to get everything he wanted.
There was also one merchant that treaded with spices. Naruto liked to have a variety of tastes with his meals. If he could get away with it, he wouldn't buy anything with the civilian stores, but for eggs and milk he didn't have a choice. Well, perhaps in the future, if the Takashimas held cows and chickens, he could get them there.
Team eight was waiting for team seven on their training ground. Kurenai had expected for Kakashi's team to be here, but was surprised to find them away with a note that the team would return at two for the sparring matches. Now it was five minutes before that time. Well, she would have to wait. One minute before the planned time Kakashi appeared in a body flicker.
"Hello Kurenai, good to see you and your team are already here. My team should also arrive any moment. I am having them train sealless replacement. I just need to place the logs in place." Kakashi said, unsealed three logs and placed them on the ground.
The first to appear was Naruto, who didn't look like this exercise was very hard. Two minutes later Sasuke appeared. Sakura didn't get it done sealless, but didn't want to have team eight waiting any longer and used the jutsu with seals but nearly no smoke.
"We will train that more in the future and it will be your homework for the weekend to get at least one sealless replacement jutsu working." Kakashi told her.
"Yes, Kakashi sensei." She answered, hating that he made her look bad in front of Sasuke.
"Okay, did you inform your team about the process, Kurenai?" Kakashi asked.
"Yes, I told them last week. They are eager to find out how far they have come so far." She answered.
"Okay, I guess then we start with drawing matches." Kakashi said and held out a tin with three papers in it. He had team eight draw first, then his team followed.
Shino and Sakura got the one, Naruto and Hinata the two and Sasuke and Kiba the three.
"Okay, first match, Shino vs. Sakura, match two Hinata vs. Naruto and match three Kiba vs. Sasuke. Shino, Sakura you have the field." Kurenai said.
The other four sat down on the side. Hinata was close to fainting. Why in the world did she have to fight Naruto? She didn't want to have to fight against him.
"Don't hold anything back in our fight. Don't worry about me; I can take all you can throw at me, Hinata. This is meant to see what we should work on in our training. I know you don't like hurting people, but if you hold back on your comrades in training spars they don't get the feeling for a real fight and it could lead to them getting careless in the field. You don't have to target vital areas in training, but target non vital areas and let your team-mates feel how much your taijutsu style can hurt. They will be more careful in your next spar." Naruto told Hinata.
Hinata was shocked. She never had thought that her holding back because she didn't want to hurt people was hurting them more for the future. She didn't have much time to dwell on the thought though, because Shino had taken out Sakura extremely fast. She had run screaming from his bugs until they had shut her up by sucking out her chakra.
"Kakashi, please tell me you are working on her bad habits." Kurenai begged.
"I am; I have my team training the whole days. But I have to agree that that was simply embarrassing." Kakashi said sweat dropping. If Sakura continued like that his team would lose points for her continued losses, even if Sasuke and Naruto won. Well, for the first month he was safe from that part of the bet.
Then Naruto and Hinata took their positions. Naruto decided to go with the Namikaze style as the Hyuga's gentle fist style required a style based on speed to counter it properly. He also was best using his bastardised version of the gentle fist with the cheetah style of his father's clan. Hinata obviously tried to hit him and was more determined than Kurenai had seen her before. She should have seen that Hinata's problem was that she didn't want to hurt others. Naruto's simple words had helped her seeing a problem and got her working on overcoming it. It wasn't perfect yet, that would need more time. Hinata still hesitated using her full power with the strikes, but she at least used the chakra when she hit Naruto.
But in the end Naruto was simply too fast. He disabled Hinata's legs with quick simultaneous strikes and she fell down, which he used to get behind her and hold a kunai to her throat. When he was declared winner, he helped Hinata up again.
"How do you know gentle fist?" Hinata asked confused that somebody outside her clan could use one of their techniques.
"I don't use the gentle fist. My style is a combination of a taijutsu style and a bastardised form of chakra scalpels like medic nins use. I guess the principle behind my chakra scalpel bastardisation and the chakra shots of the gentle fist is similar enough, but I only can attack anatomy. I can't use it like a Hyuga to attack the chakra network." Naruto explained.
Then he seemed to sink in thought. Sasuke and Kiba took their positions for their fight. Naruto looked at Kurenai.
"Kurenai sensei, did you already test your team for their elemental affinities?" Naruto asked.
"No, I didn't, I think that is a bit early. Why do you ask?" Kurenai asked while still keeping an eye on Kiba's and Sasuke's fight.
"I have the feeling something is off about Hinata's taijutsu. I know that some taijutsu styles have been developed to suit a certain group of elemental users, like the strong fist for lightning elementals. Lightning is an explosive and fast element, just like that style. I have the feeling from the forms Hinata showed that the gentle fist could be based on earth users. But Hinata doesn't seem to be an earth user and therefore had problems." Naruto said.
He knew the gentle fist was an earth style. It had been in the scrolls he had taken from the rubbish bins and copied for his selection, but nobody could know that. Better they believed he had got the idea from watching.
Kurenai was shocked. That sounded like a more than probable theory why Hinata couldn't seem to get a grip of the gentle fist style. Water was weak against earth in the elemental circle. So if Naruto was right and Hinata was a water elemental she needed to adapt her taijutsu to get it to work for her.
"Naruto could have a point there. I know from Gai that the gentle fist is indeed an earth style. You should test your students for their elements and if Hinata is indeed a water elemental or has another element that disrupts the gentle fist by its nature, you should work with her on her own style. You are a water element aren't you?" Kakashi asked Kurenai.
"Yes, I am. I will take the suggestion and take them to Jakonato's after the sparring is over. Thanks for the insight, Naruto. I was aware that something was off, but as I am not a taijutsu specialist, I didn't know what could be done to help Hinata." Kurenai said.
"No problem." Naruto said.
"Yes, thank you, N-Naruto." Hinata said.
Naruto smiled at her, making her face take a very deep red colour.
"Hinata, are you okay? Your face is so red." Naruto asked, putting his hand on her forehead to see if she had a fever.
The contact and the concern Naruto showed her was too much for Hinata and she fainted.
"Hinata? Hinata!" Naruto exclaimed concerned. "Kurenai sensei, Hinata needs a medic." He said.
"Don't worry, Naruto, she will be better soon." Kurenai said, finding it quite funny that a smart boy like Naruto had no idea how much Hinata liked him.
Sasuke had some problems with Kiba's feral fighting style, but thanks to his speed with the replacement jutsu he didn't get hit often and managed to tire Kiba out. In the end he won by nailing Kiba with some shuriken to the ground for a few seconds, tying Akamaru up with ninja wire in those seconds and using the dog as leverage to make Kiba forfeit.
"Shit, you are really fast." Sasuke commented Kiba's performance.
"And you continually replacing yourself with things is extremely annoying. Just you wait, next time I will win." Kiba said, disgruntled that he had been forced to forfeit, but Akamaru was more important than a victory in a training match. And with the way Sasuke had tied his dog up getting him a power boost by food pills wasn't a good option.
"In your dreams." Sasuke said.
Sakura was still out cold, so Kakashi decided it would be a good decision to bring her home and give Sasuke the afternoon off. Sasuke gladly accepted his free afternoon and after hearing team eight would go to Jakonato's to get some chakra paper to test the genin's elemental affinities, he just accompanied them, intending to get some sealing scrolls and look what else was offered there. He would be better prepared in the future for whatever ideas for exercises Kakashi got next.
"Kakashi sensei, do you have time for me to test how much I can do in a fight with my resistance seals released?" Naruto asked after the others had left.
"Sure, Naruto. Just let me get Sakura back home and get used to your full speed for a while. Then we can have that fight." Kakashi said.
He lifted Sakura from the ground and disappeared in a body flicker. Naruto released his resistance seal and started going through some movements to get used to his full speed again. Kakashi returned ten minutes later, not in a good mood. Sakura's mother had thrown a fit about the condition of her daughter and demanded to know how it happened. So Kakashi told her that in a training fight against Shino Aburame she was shown just why the Aburame clan was feared. He had left before Isami could get in a row.
"Ready, Naruto?" Kakashi asked.
"Yes, Kakashi sensei." Naruto answered.
He was standing in the opening stance of the Uzumaki style, the tides' fist. Contrary to the cheetah fist that was mainly based on speed, the tides fist was a flowing style. It had a change between fast and strong attacks like the flood, and flowing, slower attacks that were not meant to cause damage, but distract an opponent. Naruto had also added his bastardised gentle fist and therefore increased the damage the style could deal an opponent. Kakashi started attacking Naruto with a fast attack, but Naruto avoided the punch, directed to his torso. He took off with his full speed and the fight was on.
In his office the Hokage watched the fight between Naruto and Kakashi. He was, so far, satisfied with Kakashi's work with his team. He kept them busy, Sasuke and Sakura out of the village during D-rank missions to not have the worship of the villagers badly influence Sasuke, Naruto got a good deal of personal attention from Kakashi while the jonin didn't neglect the other two and Kakashi was working on getting back to his old form. As long as nothing interfered with Kakashi's mission, things would work out. The ROOT agents Danzo had sent were also on a good way with their missions. So far he had found thirty decrees which he would take back. As the Hokage he had the power to change decrees. Only with laws things were different, but those he had always checked very carefully.
If there were any new laws that he didn't remember passing there was more wrong than he thought. So far that area had turned out negatively. But they hadn't got through all years since Minato's death yet. Many things could be hidden in the archives. And he knew the Uchiha had tried to force their will through many times. While Naruto and Kakashi were going into the phase that they were including ninjutsu, it knocked at the Hokage's door.
"Come in." He called and deactivated the crystal ball.
Outside the door were Koharu and Homura, the village elders beside Danzo. They were also his old team-mates under the Nidaime Hokage.
"Koharu, Homura, what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?" He asked smiling.
He was on guard. Over the years both his old team-mates had taken a more militaristic view than he liked. And they had been some of the people to treat Naruto like nothing more than a weapon. Homura had been the one to constantly suggest letting Danzo train Naruto to make the boy Konoha's secret weapon. It was one of the reasons he had had to hold onto the hat for so long. Other candidates would have been eaten alive by the council and the elders. He had decades of experience to deal with them.
"Hokage Sama, we are a bit concerned about the reactions to your latest decisions." Homura said.
The Hokage guessed it was the ninja academy curriculum. When Inoichi Yamanaka, Hiashi Hyuga and Utei Kurama had seen the things the students were set to learn and how many hours the timetable dedicated to each area, they had loudly protested. Even the stoic Hiashi was obviously disgusted with how useless the curriculum had become. There was a focus on theory work with a ratio of seventy five per cent theory and twenty five per cent practical. They had sworn to get the curriculum adjusted to more physical training and cutting out useless civilian lessons. The civilian council hadn't been pleased.
"I guess you are talking about the ninja academy." He said.
"Yes, that too. While I can understand that there need to be changes to get a better ratio of those who passed their genin tests, it could lead to problems if the civilian council is completely cut out of the decision what is taught." Koharu said.
"Yes, many civilian parents sent their children to the academy because they thought they had a chance to become ninja with the current curriculum. If it is changed, many will probably send them to civilian schools." Homura added.
"You have seen the current curriculum?" The Hokage asked.
"Yes, and while it's not good, I think a few adjustments would fulfil the need for better graduation results better than a radical change of the whole curriculum." Koharu said.
"No, they wouldn't. And regarding your concern for having less civilian students. At the moment, the only thing these children are when they leave the academy and by whatever miracle pass their genin test is cannon fodder." The Hokage stated.
Both his old team-mates looked at him disbelievingly.
"From all civilian students in a class normally only ten per cent have the determination to put in the necessary effort in training to make the cut. Rock Lee from last year is such a case, but his success is mostly due to Gai motivating him properly. But those types that train like crazy on their own to overcome their weakness and turn their only talent into a strength are rare. The three teams that passed this year only have one civilian raised child in them, which is Sakura Haruno."
Both elders nodded.
"Now from Kakashi's reports he doesn't have any problems with the motivation in training of both Sasuke Uchiha and Naruto Uzumaki. Both boys do whatever exercise he has thought up without complaint, even if he can tell that Sasuke is often close to collapsing. Sakura on the other hand is complaining all the time, has neglected her training during the academy massively and is more interested in getting Sasuke to fall for her than becoming a good kunoichi." He informed them.
"Well, from what we heard over the last weeks Kakashi is training them really hard. It's more than normal that a girl like Sakura from a civilian family has problems adjusting. Nearly all fresh genin would have." Koharu said.
"The only stories that can spread around are those Sakura tells her mother and as she is the one who is worst on her team, it's safe to assume she exaggerates. And with Isami and her ridiculous plans how to get her daughter to marry Sasuke she didn't do her daughter any favours in the past with filling her head with nonsense. I know how the girl behaved in the academy. Outside of the exercises the teachers had them do there, she didn't do any training. Instead she stalked Sasuke like many other girls and invested more time and money in beauty products and body care than in ninja training and training equipment. The only reason she passed is that Sasuke ordered her what to do in Kakashi's test after Naruto flat out told Sasuke the meaning of the test.
"All the other civilian graduates failed the tests of the other jonin senseis. And the one who has the most difficult test is Kakashi. His test is the bell test that I came up with. His has a focus on teamwork, which he makes a bit difficult to realize, but he has the right to try and deceive his students. All the others, while their tests may not directly set the genin against each other, also focus mainly on how they get a set task done together. If they together can't even get the tasks our jonin come up with done after four years, sometimes five years, of training, then something is massively wrong. The civilian council took the power to decide over the curriculum after the Kyubi attack and at that time I was too busy to really think what consequences that change would have. But I won't accept that we only get the clan children as new genin while we waste potential in civilian children due to bad teaching. Remember, Jiraiya was a civilian kid and he became the most powerful of the sannin despite Orochimaru being a genius and Tsunade the granddaughter of the Shodai.
"In a full-out fight Jiraiya would win. So there are talents that can be found. But without the proper training in the beginning, they will quit or be killed early in their career. And it is not the intention of the ninja program to have genin do D-ranks for a prolonged period of time. They are to learn basic skills, promote teamwork and get them used to missions similar to the D-rank ones which just are of a higher profile. Otherwise I wouldn't even allow the civilians to hand in requests for chores to be done by our genin. I mean, weeding a normal garden and baby-sitting could be done by civilian children that want to earn more pocket money." The Hokage explained.
Both elders had to agree. In their times the time a team did D-ranks had been shorter on average. They were used to get a team through the consolidation process during which a sensei worked on their basic skills and trained them in chakra control. Normally the jonin also got them two or three jutsus over the first six months to increase their skills. Intermixed with the occasional rare C-rank to get a team used to the outside world and not have the overeager ones get too bored in the village.
"Is there a reason that in the village only teams eight and ten are seen doing missions? I haven't seen team seven over the past three weeks since the teams were confirmed to have passed." Homura asked.
"Yes, there is, but it's between Kakashi and I what the reason is. Just know I have a good reason why teams eight and ten are the face for the new generation." He said.
"But wouldn't it be good for our funds and the public relations to have Sasuke do missions that are seen by the villagers?" Koharu asked.
"That may be, but the reasons to have team seven do the missions they are doing are more important than a few more D-ranks." The Hokage said.
Homura pondered over the reasons. He had been a ninja all his life and knew the reasons that normally led to a genin not having contact with the villagers for a prolonged period of time. He would have to observe for a while longer to get the right conclusion. Hiruzen didn't seem willing to tell them more. He was back to his old persona. This was the God of Shinobi, not the kind grandfather that watched over the village.
"Then I just have one last question. Do you have a prospective successor? We all know that you are only holding onto the office until you find somebody that can take over." Homura said.
"Yes, and I will announce my successor during the finals of the chunin exams that begin in a bit more than five months." He said.
"So you aren't going to tell us before?" Koharu asked.
"No, not yet. My successor has one last mission to do that doesn't need more public attention with me naming him successor." The Hokage informed them.
They nodded. Secrecy was part of a ninja's life after all. They both bid the Hokage goodbye and left the office.
Okay, another chapter done.