Hi, here is the next chapter. Thanks for all your reviews. Now happy reading.
Naruto's Real Level
Sasuke and Sakura were shocked. Never had Naruto shown that kind of power and skill before. Sasuke was fuming in jealousy. How could Naruto be that strong? How could he become that strong?
"What the hell? How can you be so strong?" Sakura yelled at Naruto.
"Training." The blond answered.
"Why are you still a genin?" Sasuke asked trying to suppress his jealousy.
Naruto sighed. He had hoped to avoid that discussion for a bit longer.
"Problems with the civilian council. They hate me for some reason and before I wasn't strong enough to be absolutely sure they couldn't prevent me becoming a ninja I didn't want to risk early graduation. As a ninja the Hokage is the only one with power over me. But with the real genin test being a hurdle to take, I couldn't risk being screwed over on purpose. I could have graduated easily with ten, but then the sensei would probably have intentionally failed my team. The only one the council would never have let fail was you, Sasuke. That's the reason I pretended to be the dead last. I wanted to be placed on the same team like you to not give the council a reason to try and screw me over." Naruto said.
"Why would they do that? They aren't like that!" Sakura protested.
Naruto finally cracked, he was still high on adrenaline and he had to keep his emotions bottled up for a long time.
"Yes, they are and your mother is one of the worst members! I've been kicked out of the orphanage I lived in with five on orders of the council! I've been denied proper service in nearly all stores on orders of the council! I've been tried to be denied entrance to the academy on orders of the council, but as it is the ninja academy, the Hokage could simply order them to let me in there. The teachers tried to sabotage me on orders of the council. And the military police also did their very best to make my life miserable. They never persecuted anyone who beat me up. The culprits got off on flimsy excuses or were forced to pay a small fine. And they themselves were part of ninety eight of hundred attacks on me. You wanted to know why I dislike you. That's your reason. I can barely tolerate you. But I think holding children responsible for the sins of their parents is wrong." Naruto said icily, sealed the captured Haku in another prisoner scroll and walked away.
"He's lying! Kakashi sensei, he's lying!" Sakura screeched.
"No, he isn't, Sakura. Everything he said was the truth." Kakashi reprimanded her, shocking her. "Normally, if there hadn't been prejudices against him, Naruto would already be jonin by now. You have seen that he is much stronger than any of you. We just kept the true difference a secret to not discourage you. Naruto's strength isn't the result of some bloodline limit or secret ability his family has. It is the result of thousands of hours of blood, sweat and tears. And Sasuke, what he said about your clan is also true. The Uchiha didn't behave honourably when Naruto was concerned. He hates your clan and he has every reason to do so. They were some of the ones that cried the loudest to have him killed for something he had no control over and which saved the village. But he was made the scapegoat for an event the village couldn't deal with when you were still infants. So it would be in your best interest to not antagonize him." Kakashi stated.
Sasuke had problems believing his sensei's words. He had adored his father and his clan, he had wanted to become like his father, but hearing that he had allowed to let a boy his age be beaten by Uchihas and other villagers, didn't sit right with him. That was not honourable and didn't prove the Uchiha superiority at all. Itachi had been at odds with his father for some time, was that the reason? When he had been little and Itachi had still been his nice big brother, he had once told him about a lonely little boy, whom he had protected by a mob of drunk villagers on the day of the Kyubi festival. Was Naruto the boy? Itachi hadn't mentioned the boy's name, only that he didn't deserve how he was treated in the village.
During their time at the academy he hadn't spent much thought on Naruto. He had been the class clown, the dead last who couldn't even properly do the transformation jutsu. But yet here was the same boy, fighting on par with an elite jonin like Zabuza and taking out a strong ninja like that boy with the mask in a one-on-one fight like it was nothing. That masked boy was at least high chunin level from what he had seen. And Kakashi had said Naruto was jonin level. Damn, things were really screwed up. But perhaps Naruto was the one who could understand him. He was as lonely as him, was working hard for his goals, whatever they were, and his clan had also been massacred in the past. He was the sole survivor of the Uzumaki clan. Damn, this threw his whole perception of things apart.
Kakashi then had a small bout of exhaustion which was cured by a seal Naruto took from Kakashi's pouch and placed on his neck. After a minute Kakashi was back to normal, if a bit more tired than usually.
Tazuna led the subdued team to his home. While the revelations about the blond's past had been unsettling, he knew he was safe as long as this team was close by. The rest of the journey went without further incidents. Once they reached Tazuna's home, the old man introduced them to his daughter Tsunami. She was very happy that her father had made it back safely and had got such strong protection.
"Kakashi sensei, I need to tell you some things my clones found out." Naruto said, once Tsunami has disappeared into the kitchen and Tazuna had gone to change his clothes.
"The scouting clones?" Kakashi asked.
"Yes. I had them fly over the whole island to get an idea of the situation here. The villager's situation is even worse than Tazuna described. Children are homeless on the streets, begging for some food, but nobody has anything to spare. People are forced to leave their homes by thugs if they can't pay the absurd amounts of money Gato demands as protection fees. There are nearly no fields where corn or vegetables are grown and if, they are surrounded by Gato's thugs. There are two locations where those thugs live. A camp on the other side of the island and a base close to this town. My clones assume that in the camp are perhaps five hundred of those thugs and in the base probably the same number. Now that we have taken out Zabuza and Haku, I fear Gato could mobilize those thugs to take care of the problem that Tazuna poses himself." Naruto reported.
"That's really bad. And even if I called back-up from Konoha, they wouldn't be here on time. Damn, that only leaves one option really." Kakashi said and Naruto nodded.
"What are you talking about?" Sakura asked confused while Sasuke's face had gone hard.
"Assassination." Sasuke said.
"Correct Sasuke. I will have to leave you and Sakura here to protect Tazuna and his family. Naruto and I are the only ones skilled enough to take out those amounts of thugs. Barricade the house and take shifts sleeping. Naruto can leave you a few shadow clones, but he needs all his chakra for the mission." Kakashi said.
"We first need more detailed information on the two bases. The camp seems to be a normal one with tents and a few barracks. But you never know. And I also can't tell from the short investigation my clones did if there might be other ninjas Gato has hired." Naruto said.
"Okay. I'll send one of my summons off to Konoha to inform the Hokage. He will probably reach the village in a day if he runs the whole distance. Then we could have back-up here in two to three days. Depending on how fast Gato acts that could be just early enough for us. While the normal thugs are no problem for ninjas, these numbers are concerning. Naruto get twenty clones to map out the base and the camp. Do you have an up to date bingo book?" Kakashi asked and got a nod from the blond.
Naruto walked out of the house and made forty clones, transformed them in small birds, they would transform into something else once they were near the two bases, and sent them on their way.
"Okay, I should have the information we need in two or three hours." He said.
"How many of the chakra storage seals do you have fully charged, sensei?" Naruto asked.
"Five. Well, I'll need to recharge the one I already used and I have the other five you gave me but they also need to be filled." Kakashi said.
"Hm, you should probably do it now and then rest. But we still have a problem. If you need to use your sharingan again, you tire too fast still." Naruto said.
"True, but no medic ever found a solution for me to turn off the eye. It stays activated all the time and drains my reserves more than it would normally do." Kakashi said, getting the interest of Sasuke.
"How comes you have a sharingan? Are you an Uchiha, Kakashi sensei?" He asked.
"No, I'm not. That eye was a present from my best friend. It is a reminder of my biggest mistake." Kakashi said.
"Stop blaming yourself for that incident. Obito wouldn't want you to beat yourself up about it. In the end you did the right thing and went with him to save Rin. It was his decision to protect you and Rin. Don't you think he would rather you honoured his memory by making sure it never happens again than dwelling on the past?" Naruto asked.
"You know?" Kakashi asked. "The journal?"
"Yes. He wrote the whole incident down. He never blamed you. He was proud how you turned around and always protected your comrades." Naruto confirmed.
"Thanks, Naruto." Kakashi said.
The whole discussion went over the heads of Sasuke and Sakura.
"What are you talking about?" Sakura asked annoyed.
"That one day you have to stop living in the past and look into the future." Kakashi said. He didn't further explain it.
Naruto got the feedback from his clones three hours later and meditated half an hour to process it all. Then he made two more clones. One started drawing a map and the other took out the bingo book to look up the pages with the ninjas he had identified in Gato's hideout. The original started eating a ration bar. Once he was done with the bar, he went to Kakashi.
"We have a small problem, Kakashi sensei." Naruto said.
"What kind of problem?" Kakashi asked.
"Well, for one my clones found out that Gato never planned on paying Zabuza. He intended to double-cross him as soon as Tazuna was dead. But he had three other ninjas there. Ninjas with Iwa headbands. I don't know if they are just doing normal business with him or if they were hired to end Zabuza's job, but they could pose a massive problem. My clone is just looking them and the four missing nins that I saw up in the bingo book." Naruto said.
"Why are Iwa ninjas a problem? While we were at opposite sides in the war; that was fourteen years in the past." Sakura asked.
"It's because who is on our team. I have a massive bounty on my head from Iwa for my part in the third shinobi war. If any Iwa ninja can get away with it, they'll try to take me out for sure, especially as my sensei was the fourth Hokage. They hate no other ninja as much as the Yellow Flash, even if sensei died twelve years ago when he sacrificed his life to defeat the Kyubi. And Naruto unfortunately from a distance could be thought to be related to sensei. They have the same hair colour. If Iwa even thinks there could be a relative of the Yellow Flash, they would attack on principle just to end any possible Namikaze. You have no idea how many Yamanakas died shortly after the war just because they had a darker shade of blond hair." Kakashi explained. "The Hokage had to change the teams that were assigned missions close to Earth Country to keep the Yamanakas away from there."
"I'll better change my hair colour then for the mission. Perhaps red would go well. After all, all the Uzumakis had red hair." Naruto pondered.
"No, that also doesn't work. You'll have to disguise yourself completely without relying on a jutsu. Iwa ninjas are masters of spotting those. Was a major problem in the war." Kakashi refused the idea.
"Okay, full body disguise it is then. Good that I have something like that in my spare clothes." Naruto said.
Kakashi knew which attire that was. It was Naruto's dark phoenix disguise. But as long as he didn't use the name that shouldn't be found out. Sasuke was deep in thought. Kakashi might have played it down, but was there a relation between Naruto and the Yondaime Hokage? Their faces were somewhat similar, but the faces on the Hokage Monument weren't that good for comparison. He tried to remember the photo in the Hokage's office, but he had never really paid attention to it. Probably he would have to wait until they returned to Konoha to compare the two. If Naruto was a relative of the Yondaime, it would be best to not be on his bad side, besides the fact that Naruto was already jonin in all but name.
Naruto's clone came into the room and showed them the bingo book entries.
"I found who the most important ones are. Tomoharu Haskaya, 39 years old, jonin from Iwa, A ranked. Specializes in wide area earth jutsus. War veteran. Bounty 15.000.000 ryo. Known to be brutal against anybody connected to the Yondaime Hokage.
Ichikawa Sansetsu, 21 years old, chunin from Iwa, B-ranked. Specializes in earth enhanced taijutsu. Said to have a body armour comparable to granite. Bounty 1.500.000 ryo. Holds a grudge against Konoha for the loss of both parents in the third war.
Mikiko Kamizuri, 24 years old, jonin from Iwa, B-ranked. Specialized in insect based jutsu comparable to the Aburame clan. Bounty 3.800.000 ryo. Known to have sworn to kill the Copy ninja.
"Those are the three from Iwa. Then there were these three that are normal missing nins or missing nins that went to another village." The clone said and showed them three other pictures.
"Aoi Rokusho, 25 years old, jonin from Ame. Missing nin from Konoha for treason, including theft of the sword of the Nidaime Hokage. B-ranked. Specialized in shooting senbons from an umbrella and kenjutsu using the sword of the lightning god. Bounty 5.000.000 ryo.
Kimie Roino, 19 years old, former chunin from Kiri, B+ ranked. Missing nin. Bloodline limit of Poison Touch. Anybody who is touched by her on bare skin is poisoned and if not treated immediately dies if not immune against the type of poison used. Bounty 9.000.000 ryo. Known to work with Zabuza Momochi.
Sanae Nogunaba, 20 years old, former chunin from Kiri, A-ranked. Missing nin. Bloodline limit of Steel Release. Can turn her whole body into steel. Also known as the living blade. Bounty 15.000.000 ryo. Known to work with Zabuza Momochi." The clone read out.
"That definitely poses a problem. If those ninjas interfere with our plan to infiltrate and assassinate the bases it will be much harder to get this country out of Gato's grip. Were there others that weren't part of the bingo book?" Kakashi asked.
"Yes, Aoi Rokusho has a genin team with him. Didn't look too strong to me. If we're lucky and Gato doesn't find out about Zabuza's death that soon, the Iwa nins might be gone. I can't imagine somebody like Gato working with regular ninjas. Those he can't really double-cross. That would only give him trouble from their villages." Naruto said.
"Yes, please keep an eye on things with a few transformed clones. I don't want to get nasty surprises. I remember Mikiko. She's a hard opponent. She hates me because at the end of the war I managed to copy many of her clan's techniques and handed them over to the Aburame, the rivals of the Kamizuri. From there on the Aburames blocked every plan of the Kamizuri." Kakashi informed his students.
Meanwhile at Gato's hideout said business tycoon was frowning that there hadn't been any message from Zabuza. With the last information he had got, he knew that that cursed bridge builder was on his way back in company of some Konoha ninja. How he hated ninjas. But to fight them you needed another ninja or overwhelming numbers. Well, he still had the two girls that Zabuza had left behind because he didn't think he would need more support than that Haku boy; he feared they wouldn't be as effective as Zabuza. He could ask the Iwa nins that were here at the moment to take the Konoha ninjas out; they held a grudge against them since their last ninja war after all, but he wouldn't be able to cheat them out of their money. Zabuza and his entourage were easy. Except for the Haku boy all were in that bingo book and if he double crossed and killed them after the mission was fulfilled nobody would look into it any closer. And through a front man he had collected some nice bounties. Aoi was a known missing nin from Konoha, so he could blame things on the Konoha ninjas, but the Iwa ninjas were a problem.
They had been the protection of the last shipment from one of his business partners in the land of earth. They would return tomorrow with the return shipment. But if the Konoha ninjas were that strong, they might be the only ones capable of taking them out. But he didn't know who Konoha had sent. And he didn't know if Zabuza had failed or if things simply took longer after the demon brothers had been discovered.
"Boss, the bridge builder was seen to come back to his home accompanied by four ninjas with Konoha headbands." One of his minions reported suddenly.
Well, that meant Zabuza had failed. Now he needed more information. He saw the Iwa ninjas standing close by. That could be a chance to get them to help without hiring them. Perhaps there was a ninja with the group that they hated enough to attack without payment.
"Do you have a description of the Konoha ninjas?" He asked, looking for that bingo book he had organized. While he hated ninja, it was always advisable to know your enemy.
"Yes. There are three kids, two boys and one girl, perhaps twelve or thirteen from what they look like, and one man. The man has silver, spiky hair and his face is mostly hidden with a face mask and his headband over one eye." The man reported.
"WHAT?" A loud scream from the female Iwa ninja came.
'Seems like I am lucky and she has a grudge. That could work out well for me.' Gato thought.
"Do you know that ninja?" Gato asked.
"Do I know him? Of course I know him! That is that damn Copy Ninja, Kakashi Hatake. Oh, what a nice coincidence. Now I can fulfil my promise and kill him. Painfully." She said cackling.
"Mikiko, don't be hasty. Our job is to protect the shipment. We need to find out more to see if it is advisable to act. While I wouldn't mind getting rid of his student, we need to still do our duty. What do the kids look like? If there are some kids from important clans the Tsuchikage might not mind if we returned a bit late." The leader of the team, Tomoharu, said.
"Tomoharu, why hesitate? There is only one team and with how it sounds it's only Kakashi and a genin team. He will be busy protecting the kids and not fight at full power. And I also heard he slacked off the past few years and is nowhere near his former level." Mikiko argued.
"No reason to be careless. Kakashi Hatake is a formidable opponent. If the opportunity offers itself, you can go after him. Now how do the kids look like?" Tomoharu asked.
"The three look like normal kids to me. The girl a bit on the thin side. She has pink hair in a ponytail and wears a red shirt, black tight shorts and a red skirt. On her back was a white ring, perhaps a clan symbol. The first boy has black hair that looks like a duck-butt, blue shirt, white shorts, lower legs covered with white bandages. A red and white fan on the back of the shirt. The second boy has spiky blond hair, long black pants with dark red bandages on the bottom, dark grey shirt over a dark red one with a dark red vest. Couldn't see any clan signs as I wasn't close enough." The man who saw the group told them.
"Hm, that could be profitable. The black haired one is the last Uchiha and the blond one probably a Yamanaka. Two of the important clans of Konoha. I haven't heard about the girl's sign, probably civilian background. Alone the Uchiha in combination with killing Kakashi would be worth it. Okay, we will go after them. Let them feel safe. After Zabuza failed against them, they'll probably be on guard for one or two days, after that they'll lower their guard a bit. We can afford to wait three days before we strike. Mikiko, you wanted Kakashi, you can have a go at him, but Ichikawa will have your back. I'll get the two boys and then support you." Tomoharu said.
"YES! Count your days Kakashi, they will end soon." Mikiko cheered.
Nobody noticed a small black mouse vanishing in a cloud of smoke.
"Shit." Naruto commented when the memory hit him.
"Let me guess, the Iwa nins will come after us." Kakashi said.
"Yes, the Kamizuri is determined to kill you and their leader wants to kidnap me and Sasuke to take us to Iwa. They think that I'm a Yamanaka and know he's an Uchiha thanks to the family crest on his back." Naruto said.
"Any plans when the attack will happen?" Kakashi asked.
"In three days. They want to lure us into feeling safe before striking." Naruto answered.
"Okay, that could be enough time to take out Gato and his thugs if we do this the right way. And messages from your clones that spied in the camp?" Kakashi asked.
"Nothing bad. Only your normal thugs there. Except for their numbers we can take them out easily."
"If we have to expect ninjas attacking us in three days we will probably have to adjust our plans a bit. The camp is on the other side of the island, meaning an hour away on ninja speed. We can use that to our advantage. Perhaps we can avoid the Ame ninjas and the Kiri missing nins coming after us if we are fast enough. Naruto, we take out the camp and the base tonight. Can you get the maps done before then?" Kakashi asked, shocking Sakura.
"They are being drawn by my clones at the moment. I can leave the camp to a group of five hundred clones. In the dark they wouldn't be seen if they slip into the camp transformed. Once I have one clone close to every thug I can simply kill them. That shouldn't take more than a minute once the clones are in position." Naruto informed Kakashi.
"That will probably be our best bet. Without a ninja in the camp the thugs are easy prey and with your shadow clones you could make that a fast deal. Do you have chakra storage seals for yourself?" Kakashi asked.
"Ten fully filled. I'm good in that regard. The only thing I fear is that if we act now the Iwa nins could get the idea to strike earlier. While I can fortify the house with seals that will take them at least twenty hours to break through, that will still be a narrow thing hoping for the reinforcements from Konoha. My suggestion is to take out the camp early tonight and the base early in the morning. That way we can win a few precious hours. That would also give me the time to set up the seals." Naruto said.
"Hm, that makes sense. Can you make some chakra storage seals for Sasuke and Sakura? I want them to have at least one for emergencies." Kakashi said.
"No problem, sensei." Naruto said and put two clones to work on that.
"Boss, the map of the base is ready." A clone shouted.
"Good. Now let's see." Kakashi said, taking the map from the clone.
The planning of the attack was going pretty well. The only thing that interrupted things was Naruto having to tell Inari just why his attitude was dead wrong and fatalistic. While his harsh words were hard on the boy, Kakashi knew he needed to hear them. Kakashi made sure to inform Inari just why Naruto had said what he had said and how hard his life had been and that he didn't just give up, but worked to overcome his problems. By now Naruto was the strongest in his age group. Inari had a lot to think about after that talk.
Okay, that's it for this weekend, till next time.