Hi, this week it's update time for Dark Phoenix. Enjoy the new chapter.


Aftermath

Konoha had been hit hard, but not as hard as it could have been. The precautions that had been set up before the chunin exam finals had started had taken out a lot of opposition before it could reach the village. The lightning wire trap field around the village had only been overcome in the area where the snake summons had broken through. And as three fifths of the area had been trapped like that, over three hundred attackers hadn't even reached the village walls. Those that had been inside the walls had managed to disguise themselves perfectly as normal guests.

Estimations were that Suna and Oto had sent about six hundred to seven hundred ninjas to attack. The plan had been to unleash the Ichibi on Konoha to cause as much destruction as possible and kill as many of Konoha's ninja force as he could. But with Naruto taking out Gaara in his fight, that trump card had been stopped before it could be played. Some important persons had been taken prisoner, like the other two children of the Yondaime Kazekage. They would see what they did with them in the following weeks. Right now Konoha was in a very strong position. The attack had been soundly pushed back and with little loss on Konoha's side.

The ones most talked about were Naruto Namikaze and Tenten, who had been leading in getting rid of the ninjas that had managed to infiltrate the village or avoid the trap fields. Next to them the performance of many other clan heirs, especially Sasuke Uchiha, were discussed openly with admiration. While the evacuation of the civilians had been started way before the invasion was started, there had been some who had seen which people protected the village where. And the ninjas that had survived the invasion were telling others who had performed especially well.

The T & I department was overfilled right now with prisoners to interrogate. Anko and Kimie were very happy about that and went to work enthusiastically. The villagers had also caught a few glimpses of the mysterious seal master Dark Phoenix when ANBU inspected areas where the damage had been largest. Supposedly he was tasked to find ways to secure those areas better in the future. Nobody could make assumptions who Dark Phoenix was. He was clad in dark grey clothes with a mask like the Hokage to hide the lower part of his face and a hood that concealed his hair completely. And nobody ever got close enough to see more.

The Hokage meanwhile had put the village under lockdown for two weeks to take care of the most serious issues right away. There would also be a new policy for entrance into the village. Many grumbled about the additional hassle, but the ninjas could see the benefit of knowing exactly who got close to the village. That part had been in work for a long time and only the fact that the current surveillance seal barrier was very complicated and Jiraiya had taken a lot of time to completely understand the formulas, had prevented that it got ready in time for the finals. After an invasion like this one, it was only logical that security would be upped. Most were just relieved that the losses hadn't been worse.

Most injuries weren't bad enough to keep the ninjas at the hospital for more than a few hours to rest and recover at home. About fifty had to be treated a bit longer and stay for a week, but that was about the longest anybody had to stay there. The Godaime Hokage had made sure that all medics went through some remedial training to ensure that they were ready for the expected attack. He also had already ordered to check children at the academy for aptitude for medical training. There had to be a lot of potential that could be exploited and if they started early on, they could ensure that nearly all teams had a capable medic on them.

A few craftsmen had been let into the village to help out with reparations. There were lots of houses that had taken damage and that needed to be repaired as soon as possible. The main work force came with Tazuna from Wave Country. Thanks to the help the Godaime's team had given the country some months ago, they had offered to help with the work for a discount rate. It had been happily accepted. The genin teams were all given jobs to help with the rebuilding. It was a good chance to give positive PR to the ninja program.

Many people were waiting for something else though. The announcement on the promotions from the chunin exams. There had been more than enough fights to promote a good number of genin to chunin.


It was three weeks after the invasion and Kakashi had called in the judges of the exams together with the advisors he had chosen. He had sent Koharu and Homura into retirement as he couldn't stand their condescending ways and had made Hiruzen Sarutobi and Tsunade Senju his new advisors. The reappearance of Tsunade had been a major surprise for most, but there were rumours that she had returned because of a lost bet.

Truth was that during the month of training for the shortly after the exams, Jiraiya and Naruto had confronted Tsunade. She had been at the stadium thanks to planning on betting on the matches and after the finals taking Shizune back with her as she had trained Sakura. They had convinced her to stay in the village after Naruto had had a few very clear words about how she was whining like a brat about her losses. He had then let loose with the things he had lost and how he had suffered and that he still wasn't giving up. He would show people that they were dead wrong going against him and that she should stop living in the past, and instead finally face the present. She was after all nowhere as bad off as he was and others were. Sasuke had lost his whole clan to his brother, Kakashi had lost his parents, his teammates and his sensei, Sarutobi had lost his wife and daughter and there were countless others that had pulled though and gone on with their lives.

It helped that she had had to overcome her fear of blood to save Shizune, who had helped defending the village in the invasion and had been cornered by three Suna jonins. Shizune had taken out two of them and Tsunade had punched the third of them through a house wall to save her apprentice. But during the fight Shizune had been hit in two critical points with a wind sword. One wound she had somewhat treated herself, but the second one had been too much for her with the loss of blood from the wounds. Tsunade had trembled a lot, but the thought of losing the one person she could call family after all her other losses had made her pull though and overcome that particular barrier in her mind.

With a few additional concessions like being allowed to still travel for two months a year when things got too much inside the village and being given free reign over the set up for a medic nin program with enough financial means to do it properly with a good salary on top she had been convinced to come back. The fact that Naruto had bet her that he could hold up against her in a fight for five minutes when she went jonin level had only helped with it. Now Tsunade had taken command over the hospital with Shizune as her assistant and was bringing them up to speed. She had also taken up the Senju seat, which gave the Shinobi side of the council a lot more weight in decisions that concerned both parts of the council, few as there were left now that the Sandaime Hokage had cleaned up a lot of messes and the Godaime Hokage continued doing.

The Sarutobi seat was filled by Asuma, the Sandaime's son and Naruto had arranged that his father's seat, each Hokage got one for reaching the office that was hereditary for his clan after that, was proxied by Jiraiya or, if he was out of the village, Shizune for now. He didn't want to deal with the council sessions right now as he still needed to train more and he didn't like the politics certain council members used. So he had decided to wait until he was at least sixteen to take up his seat, which none of the other shinobi council members had any problem with, thinking it a wise decision.

"Well, we're all here," Kakashi started the meeting, wearing the traditional Hokage robes. "As you all know, we have to decide which of our genin we want to promote to the rank of chunin. The exams have given us a good number of talented young shinobi to choose from. I think the best way is going by the order of their fights and discuss if the candidate has proven the qualification for the rank."

"That sounds logical," Shibi Aburame agreed.

Thankfully for the chunin promotions only the shinobi council and the judges for the exams were required, otherwise the civilians would have tried to make a nuisance of themselves. They had tried insisting that they had a right to decide as well, but Kakashi had shot that down, claiming a purely ninja-related decision.

"With that approach the first fight was the one between Sakura Haruno and Kiba Inuzuka. Let's start with my observations about Kiba. While he was clearly aware that he didn't have an easy opponent and was on guard, he needs to first overcome his weaknesses better. Those being his overly heightened senses and the dependence on his ninja dog partner. While both can also be strengths, if not protected they can be turned against him as Sakura proved well," Shikaku stated. "He needs to work more on guarding his partner from surprise attacks like the poisoned needles that Sakura used. Otherwise he didn't get to show much and lost his temper after seeing his dog unconscious. He needs more time and training before being ready for being a chunin."

"I have to agree with your observations. He needs more time, even if he might have some techniques he couldn't show thanks to Sakura being very fast in using her strategy," Tsunade agreed. "From the things I read in the reports of the response teams in the invasion, he did well in his given mission, so my suggestion is we put a positive recommendation into his file for his performance in the invasion, but don't promote him."

The others all nodded, so no formal voting was required.

"Next would be Sakura and we have two fights to judge from next to her actions during the invasion," Kakashi said.

"I was very impressed with her strategy against Kiba. She knew about the weakness of her opponent and while it normally is seen as a strength, she turned it against him. And after having taken Kiba's dog out of the fight with a simply technique like poisoned senbons, she pressed her advantage and drugged Kiba without falling to her own plan. That's always a risk with young poison users," Shibi commented.

"True, she planned that fight properly and had the complete control from the start. That's very important for a chunin," the Sandaime commented. "It also showed in her second match against Shikamaru that she has a very sharp mind if she could outthink and trick a Nara."

"Yes, Shikamaru was operating on wrong information she let him believe. Not revealing all your tricks too early on is a very good tactic for a ninja and chunin material. I definitely think she has the qualifications for the promotion," Hiashi Hyuga agreed.

"Anybody against Sakura's promotion?" There were no raised hands. "Any abstentions?" No arms as well. "Then we'll note that the first chunin promotion for this year goes to Sakura Haruno," Kakashi stated and wrote it down in her file with the number of votes like it was necessary.

They continued with all the other fights of the first round and decided that Ino needed more time and wasn't ready for promotion, but that Hinata had shown great performance in both her fights, even showing off self-created jutsus based on her clan's taijutsu style, and deserved her promotion. The same held true for Sasuke with an additional positive commendation for his taking up leadership in the invasion and successfully protecting the academy. That made three promotions so far. Choji would get a positive recommendation for his part in the invasion and acknowledgement of not being able to take down an opponent far superior to his level, but it wasn't enough to promote him. Shino was praised for his strategy and skills in the fight against Naruto, who had clearly been the stronger of the two. Combined with his performance in protecting the academy, he was granted his promotion as well. It wouldn't make sense to leave him a genin. Especially as he had found a new way to use his clan's jutsu in combination with elemental jutsus.

Naruto's comment was pushed to be discussed last as there were some things Kakashi wanted to add to his shown abilities in the exams. Shikamaru was judged positively for great strategy in both his fights and using unusual tactics to capture and force his opponents to submit. He wouldn't make the mistake of going by assumed information again after Sakura used that to drug him. He would be on the lookout for any kind of tricks and he had done well in defending the hospital from the attackers. He was also promoted.

"Now our last candidate is Naruto Uzumaki Namikaze," Kakashi said and the clan heads listened intensively. "His shown abilities in the finals, especially his capture of an enemy jinchuriki for the village go far beyond the level we look for in our chunin."

"True, I've never seen that level of fuinjutsu. You were the one to train him during the preparation month, Jiraiya Sama, am I correct?" Inoichi asked.

"Yes, I did train him, but that seal is completely his creation. I evaluated him as well as Dark Phoenix a few months ago and both are seal masters. I know for a fact that they have worked together for some projects as well, for example the identification seal we used during the invasion to differentiate between friend and foe. Team Seven tested the seals during the second part of the chunin exams to get an idea of their reach and their results led us to use them for the chunin and jonin of Konoha during the invasion and it made the fights a lot easier on our side," Jiraiya said. "Naruto is a genius with fuinjutsu, but being an Uzumaki that isn't that surprising. And his father was also fantastic with them. You could probably say the boy was born to excel in that art."

There was some agreeing mumbling heard from others. Many knew of the reputation of the Uzumaki clan and the Yondaime Hokage had been incredible with fuinjutsu as well.

"Nonetheless, I don't think he has the experience to be promoted to jonin yet," Choza mentioned.

"I have to agree, while he certainly has the skill, he's only been a ninja for a bit over six months. But just promoting him to chunin wouldn't be enough," Shikaku added. "He's far beyond that level and has been for months."

Shikamaru had shared his observations with his father. And to say that Shikaku was impressed would be an understatement. Especially as he had managed to keep it a secret from everybody during his whole time at the academy.

"How about promoting him to special jonin with focus on fuinjutsu and ninjutsu?" The Sandaime proposed. "I've thought about this for a while as Kakashi kept me informed about Naruto's level. We have a high number of newly promoted chunin this year. In fact of the nine rookies that qualified for the finals, we only have three that didn't get promoted, a feat that hasn't been seen in any previous tournaments. With the invasion and the two Suna participants and their brother being captured, there won't be any promotions for them. At the moment Suna is in a massively bad position. We have all the trump cards in our hands.

"We could change the rookie teams a little bit around for the next six months. Kiba, Ino and Choji could become a team as their other teammates had been promoted already and will have to take other missions now. If those three continue developing like they did since their graduation, they should have good chance to get promoted the next chunin exams."

"I also would like to take Sakura under my wing for a while. She got glowing reports from Shizune and she would make a great second apprentice as Shizune is good enough to train her own apprentices by now," Tsunade spoke up. "With the next few months not being normal in any sense as we will have to recover from the invasion, it would make sense to teach her as much as possible right now before she goes onto new missions again. We also need most jonin for other missions right now, so the training of the new chunin and the remaining genin would suffer anyway. Why not form the four remaining chunin from that group into one squad and make Naruto the temporary leader of the three genin for C-rank and B-rank missions?"

"The idea has merit, Tsunade," Kakashi agreed. "We could send the chunin team on mostly B-rank missions and leading an advanced genin team on missions and helping them with some training would be good for Naruto's development. With how many missions we have with considerable lesser man power that would work. We can also let the new chunin work with other genin teams to get them used to leading missions. Of course we'd first start with C-ranks in those cases. We could rotate them around just by seeing which kind of mission it is."

"I think that would be a good solution. Are there any others that you'd recommend for medical training, Tsunade?" Inoichi asked.

"I'm not sure yet. It would depend on who's interested in learning them. I'll initiate a program to get a medic nin onto each squad we have, but it'll take time to get there. From what I've seen Hinata definitely has the chakra control needed and Ino with her basic knowledge of poisons could also be a candidate. I'll see if I can't coerce Naruto and Sasuke into at least basic classes. They would profit from that, even if so far Sakura took care of their injuries. Shino wouldn't be able to learn most techniques thanks to his symbiotic bond with his bugs that eat most of his chakra and I don't know if Shikamaru would put in the effort needed," Tsunade listed those that could work out in some ways.

"True. You need to at least want to learn medical jutsus to become efficient in them as it takes a lot of time," Shikaku agreed. "Another thing we need to consider is Tenten Jakonato. She performed really well during the invasion, even if her team didn't qualify for the finals."

"Hm, I think a positive recommendation that will grant her promotion next time around if she makes it into the finals of the chunin exams and can then show that she has the skills would be advisable," Tsunade said.

"I agree," Kakashi said. "Well, then Asuma, you can collect Shikamaru and tell Kurenai to come with Shino and Hinata. I'll call my three students so we can promote them all at once. Meeting adjourned."


Kakashi sat behind his desk with the Sandaime and Tsunade standing to his left and right. In front of the desk stood his team, Hinata, Shino and Shikamaru. Kurenai and Asuma stood behind their respective students.

"You've all been called here to be informed about your results in the chunin exams and the invasion after it. Let me start with Sakura Haruno, Sasuke Uchiha, Shino Aburame, Hinata Hyuga and Shikamaru Nara. You five have all shown good tactical skills in your fights as well as a skill level that puts you above a normal genin. It is my pleasure to promote each of you to chunin," Kakashi said and Tsunade and the Sandaime handed the vests and certificates over to them.

All five had smiles on their faces and put their new vests on. Then all eyes rested on Naruto.

"Naruto Uzumaki Namikaze. During the chunin exams and following invasion you've shown exceptional skills and leadership qualities. You managed to capture Suna's jinchuriki Gaara alive and showed great strategic and tactical abilities in all fights you were in. Thanks to your and Tenten Jakonato's performance while stalling the invaders to completely evacuate the civilians, we didn't suffer and casualties among the civilians. For your outstanding performance, you're hereby promoted to special jonin," Kakashi said and handed Naruto his vest and certificate.

Naruto had a true happy smile on his face. Finally he got acknowledgement.

"Congratulations to all of you," Kakashi said once all of them had put their vests on and had taken the congratulations from their teachers. "Now that you aren't genin anymore, your jonin senseis aren't responsible for your training anymore. It is up to you to improve your abilities, though your senseis will still be available for advice and simply talking about things. There'll also be some changes to your teams."

The group of six listened intently. Tsunade stepped forward.

"As some of you may know, I'm going to completely rebuild the way medic nins are trained by the village. The final goal is to have enough medics that each team will have one when they take a mission outside of the village. For that reason, I wish to offer you all the possibility to at least learn some basic skills. Next to that, I would like to take you, Sakura, as my personal apprentice. You've shown great abilities in the area already and Shizune has praised your intelligence and fast learning from your training under her over the month before the chunin exam finals," Tsunade said.

"Really? I would be honoured to learn under you, Tsunade Sama!" Sakura exclaimed happily.

"Very good, then be at the hospital tomorrow morning at eight to start your training. Just a warning, I'm a very strict teacher," Tsunade said.

Sakura simply nodded.

"I'd like to get some medical training as well, Tsunade Sama," Hinata spoke up. "But I don't know if my father will allow it."

"Don't worry, I'll convince him if he gives you trouble. I've wanted to get a Hyuga into the medical program for ages, but your clan always blocked. As I have complete freedom in my recruiting, which was one of the conditions Hokage Sama granted me upon my return and taking over of the program, I can choose whoever I want as long as they're willing to invest the time into the training," Tsunade stated and got a confirming nod by Kakashi.

"Then I'll gladly enter the program," Hinata said.

"Good, be at the hospital tomorrow at nine as well," Tsunade informed her. "Those without previous training will work under Shizune first and if they show enough promise, I'll take over some lessons as well."

Hinata nodded, smiling happily.

"I'm no good at medical techniques, I simply have too much chakra, even if my control is far better than my reserves would let you think. I'm good with basic first aid," Naruto said.

"I'm just not interested in medical jutsus, even if I know how useful it is from being treated by Sakura," Sasuke said. "My goal is catching Itachi and forcing him to finally tell me the truth about the Uchiha massacre. Something doesn't add up there. I'll capture him and wring all information I need out of him. If it turns out he's just an arsehole, I'll kill him after that, if not, I'll hand him over to Konoha's justice. I need to become much stronger before I'd stand a chance against him though and medical jutsus aren't the way for me to get there."

Kakashi was surprised to hear his student's changed goal, but he was very happy about it. At least the probability of him running off to kill Itachi was lower now.

Shikamaru and Shino also declined attending the medical program.

"Good, as you're perhaps aware, the village despite our preparation still lost a large number of ninjas. We still need to take as many missions as before, therefore the teams are being changed a little. Hinata, your starting training for the medical program will take about two weeks. For that time you'll be excused from missions. Naruto, Shino, Shikamaru and Sasuke, report for a B-rank mission tomorrow morning at nine. In two weeks when Hinata's initial training is over, Naruto, you'll move to taking command over the new genin team of Kiba Inuzuka, Ino Yamanaka and Choji Akimichi. You'll be leading them in C-rank and low B-rank missions until Asuma Sarutobi isn't needed for constant higher ranked missions anymore," Kakashi informed them.

They all nodded.

"Except for Naruto you're dismissed," Kakashi said.

The five chunin bowed and left the office, telling Naruto to meet them later at the barbeque place for celebrations, which he agreed to. Then he looked at his sensei curiously.

"Naruto, for the next year, you'll be given a high number of missions where you'll lead a genin or chunin team that consists of those around your age to get experience with leading teams. While you have the skillset of a full jonin, you lack the experience. Prove that you're ready then and you'll get the promotion to full jonin then. Contrary to new chunins, you'll also have some more duties to prepare for. Once you're back from the B-rank mission, you'll be trained in things like withstanding torture, spying in enemy territory, dealing with stress and loss of a member of your team and training of a team. Even if you get your promotion, you won't be given a green genin team to train until you're at least sixteen," Kakashi informed him.

"I understand, sensei," Naruto confirmed.

"Good, I'll make sure you get the pamphlet with duties of jonin after you return from your mission. Right now none are left as the storage where they were kept was hit by a fire jutsu in the invasion and burned down. Printing new ones has a low priority right now. I also wanted to inform Tsunade Sama as my advisor of your unique position in the village," Kakashi said and Naruto nodded, knowing that as one of the sannin she had a right to know.

"Do you mean his jinchuriki status?" Tsunade asked.

"No, what I was talking about is that Naruto is the village's top seal master and also operated under the codename Dark Phoenix," Kakashi revealed.

"You're Dark Phoenix?" Tsunade asked surprised and then chuckled. "A great deception you pulled off there. Everybody thinks that we have two seal masters besides Jiraiya now. It will make others think more if they dare attack us. Seal masters are tricky to conquer. I can see why you'd keep his identity a secret. He'd be a major target should the truth be found out. Even more so than being known as Minato's son."

The others just nodded. Naruto was then dismissed and went to join the other freshly promoted chunin.


Okay, that's it for this time. Till next time.