Katabami Goldmine Rescue
The way to the goldmine was fairly uneventful, if you didn't count the brief stop at a restaurant that the team took, shortly before reaching the area directly around the goldmine. The restaurant was led by an old woman called Sansho. She told them the story about many people being drawn towards the mine, but never returning, including her grandson Kabashi. She served them her specialty, which was called the Curry of Life.
Well, the curry certainly had a noticeable effect onto the ninja team, as Sansho had somehow made it devilishly hot and they needed a litre of water each to deal with the burning of their mouths and throats.
"Damn, that was worse than my mother's special chili recipe. Uchiha extra hot version," Sasuke coughed when they had left the restaurant, after Sansho had described the last part of the way to the mine and gave them a picture of her grandson, asking them to see if they could convince him to return to her.
"If a pyromaniac like you complains about it being too hot, there has to be something to it," Naruto commented, "But yes, I think she totally overdid it on hot spices and the like. I wouldn't be surprised if a bottle of something tipped over while she was distracted. Thanks for the quick help, Hinata."
"You're welcome, Naruto. I'm just glad that I always first try a small bite of something before I eat it. But even that was burning my mouth. And I normally like hot and spicy food," Hinata replied.
"I vote that we don't try that curry again. But perhaps we could give Anko and Ibiki the recipe to use on uncooperative captives," Shikamaru suggested.
"Anybody confronted with that curry would spill all secrets, just for enough water to drink to get rid of the burning," Sasuke nodded, "What plan will we follow now?"
"We need more information about the site itself to see where the workers are held captive by Raiga Kurosuki and his minions. This will be a job for our scouting techniques before we work out the final plan. We can't risk the workers there. We need to draw the fighters away to defeat them," Naruto answered.
"Then we should probably let Hinata spy with her byakugan first, then you and I can add to that with my shadow sneaking technique and your shadow clones, transformed into unsuspicious things and animals, like stones, small birds and the like," Shikamaru pointed out.
"Yes. Hinata, how far can you look with your byakugan by now?" Naruto wanted to know.
"About five kilometres," Hinata answered confidently.
"That should be far enough to not attract attention too early on," Shikamaru happily noted, "We need to know the position of the guards, how far apart they are and the like."
"I will take care of that. Sansho mentioned that the mine was about eight kilometres away from the restaurant, so we should soon be close enough for me to find out what we need," Hinata stated.
"Then let's go, but be vigilant for anything out of the norm. We don't know yet what kind of jutsus Raiga can use, but if he managed to keep control over this mine for such a long time, he can't be underestimated," Naruto warned.
The others nodded and they ran off to find a good point from where to start their scouting.
The scouting was quite informative. There was clearly a strong presence of Raiga's underlings, but they didn't seem to be highly trained. At best the stronger ones were chunin level. Not a problem for the Konoha team at all. Shikamaru managed to get past all guards, cloaking himself into his shadow, and he investigated the set-up of the main mine's area. The workers were kept in cells inside the mine during the time they didn't have to work, which happened in four shifts of six hours on end. They were only allowed to sleep six hours on end as well, with the remaining twelve hours being spent inside the cells. The guards kept a strict schedule and anybody not obeying was punished harshly.
The ones that mouthed off the most were buried alive, with Raiga pretending to grieve for them. Shikamaru had kept away from Raiga himself, as there were rumours that Raiga always knew everything that went on around him, which Shikamaru suspected could be some kind of bloodline limit that they didn't have any information about. He wasn't about to risk being spotted while his job was gathering as much information for his team as possible to come up with a workable plan to free the workers at the mine and bring down Raiga and his men.
He currently sat opposite of Naruto and Hinata, with Sasuke next to him.
"So, we will be dealing with about sixty guards, next to Raiga himself," Naruto summed it up.
"That shouldn't be too much of a problem, Naruto. If they are all at most chunin level, we can take them out easily," Sasuke commented.
"True. The important part will be to make sure that the prisoners aren't harmed while we fight the guards. And I need to neutralise Raiga," Naruto stated, "Which probably means I won't be able to help with the other part."
"What about your clones?" Shikamaru asked, knowing that Naruto could throw them around like confetti.
"I will need them to deal with Raiga," Naruto answered, "And thanks to a growth spurt my chakra control is too volatile to risk anything outside of the fight I'm involved in directly. I might accidentally overload a clone and turn it into an exploding one, which would endanger your group."
"I knew it was a bad idea when you told me that you wanted to learn exploding shadow clones," Sasuke groaned.
"Hey, as soon as my control is back to normal, which normally would only take a week tops, they will be a valuable part of my arsenal," Naruto gave back, "And I'm sure that it won't be a big problem. In doubt you have more than enough fire power among you three to deal with the guards."
"Troublesome, but alright, we will definitely manage. In doubt we can trap them in genjutsu or something like that," Shikamaru stated.
"Oh, I have one that I've been waiting for a good opportunity to test," Sasuke grinned.
"Meaning that Kakashi sensei told you that you were forbidden to test it on Konoha shinobi because it would annoy Tsunade too much if they came to her after experiencing it and she would bitch to him about not keeping his students under control," Naruto translated.
"Well, it's really your fault. You shouldn't have tested your new seals where idiots could feel the effects and forced her to work while being hung-over," Sasuke gave back.
"I could hardly do so underground. They would have complained much more about earthquakes disturbing the village," Naruto shook his head, "And she really shouldn't go out drinking in the evenings with the Pervy Sage. She always gets annoyed when he hits on her."
"So that is the reason why the training sessions on certain mornings are much worse than others," Hinata realised.
"Yes, Tsunade uses those sessions for stress relief when Jiraiya got under her skin again and isn't there to punt all over the village," Naruto confirmed.
Hinata grumbled a bit over unfairness and nightmares of exploding lead balls.
"Back to the matter at hand," Shikamaru stated, "When will we strike?"
"I think we should use the night of the new moon," Hinata suggested, "That's in three days. It will offer us more natural cover than other nights. Or we could use it if there are clouds in front of the moon, but that would mean finding out the weather forecast, which I have no idea about how to manage that."
"True. Normally there is little rain around this time of the year. I'm all for using the night of the full moon," Sasuke nodded, "And I think a rainy night wouldn't do us any favours, as Raiga would have an easier time using his lightning jutsus if there was too much moisture in the air. Though he might be capable, if he has enough time to prepare something, to create his own thunderstorm. He is from Kiri after all and I would be truly surprised if he couldn't use water jutsus. With charging the air with lightning on top of that, it would create a thunderstorm."
"I will be on guard for that. Then you three will infiltrate the mine in three days, while I will draw Raiga away. If I cause enough of a ruckus, he should come out to face me in person," Naruto pondered.
"Just don't do so before we are in there," Shikamaru stated, "That could be bad."
"In doubt he gets fed with some 'Curry of Life' and will be too busy dealing with his burning throat," Naruto grinned evilly.
"You kept it?" Sasuke asked shocked.
"What did you think? That stuff is worth being examined by our T & I department. And I wouldn't have tried eating more of it after the first bite. I used a quick substitution jutsu with something from one of my scrolls to not offend Sansho too much," Naruto admitted.
"Her look of being proud of her curry was really difficult to deal with," Hinata agreed, "Especially when she told that story about Neji's teammate Lee getting so much better after her grandson fed it to him."
"Either that was a different recipe, or Lee is a monster of more kinds than I thought so far," Sasuke commented.
The others could only nod. They all were familiar with the eccentric genin from Gai's team.
Three days of watching the guards abuse the workers and boast about their strength and that of their leader really got onto the nerves of the Konoha team. But they knew that the tactical advantage was too important to give up over their personal feelings. As long as the prisoners behaved within certain perimeters, they wouldn't be hurt too badly and they would be able to heal those injuries. When the night of the new moon finally arrived, they were ready to strike. They had Naruto supply them with all kinds of seals, which he produced during the days. Shifts for guarding the mine had been done and they knew the schedules of the guards by heart now.
The plan was simple, but could go wrong if something didn't work out like planned. Then things would turn nasty quickly. Naruto would pretend to be on a scouting mission for Konoha and accidentally trigger one of the well-hidden alarms, getting through a large number of other alarms without triggering them. Simply because Raiga wouldn't believe that any chunin of Konoha wouldn't at least notice the most basic ones. And Naruto was a special jonin. Naruto would document things around the mine, as if he was going to report to the Hokage and then return with a team. Basically what they had all done over the last days.
Then he would engage Raiga like any spy that realised that he was stuck would do and the other three would act and free the prisoners. For emergencies they all carried the tri-pronged kunai for the Flying Thundergod jutsu on their person. Naruto had also placed a large number of his seals all around possible battle spots. He didn't want to risk getting fried by lightning if there was an easy way around it.
The group split up and went to their respective spots. Then they had to wait. Shikamaru was the first one to enter the mine, cloaked in his shadows nobody noticed him. He was tasked with defending the prisoners when the guards would be attacked by Hinata and Sasuke. The plan that they hoped they would manage to pull off was letting Sasuke trap everybody he came across in a sharingan-based genjutsu, which had the advantage that he could apply it silently. Hinata was meant to be his backup, especially as she had her jutsu of the sixty-four protective palms mastered by now. And her training under Tsunade allowed her to hit certain areas on the body precisely to shut it down. She had called it a standard procedure to knock out unruly patients.
The three boys filed that away under not getting any medic nin angry enough to do that to them.
Sasuke and Hinata were hidden close to the entrance and waited for Raiga to react to the alarm. They expected that some lower level guards would first be dispatched, but once they didn't return, Raiga would have to take care of things himself. He was the only fully-trained ninja that they had noticed after all.
It didn't take longer than half an hour for the first guards to run off into the direction where Naruto wanted to trigger the alarm. After another twenty minutes of them not reporting back, another group, this time double the size of the first one, was sent out, only to also vanish without a trace.
"I will have to deal with this in person," Raiga told the guards at the entrance to the main cell tract of the mine, "Make sure that everything here goes as normal. I doubt that anybody could give me trouble and if the guard didn't return, well, they probably met a ninja with some skill."
"Of course, Raiga," A man confirmed, "We will keep everything running smoothly. Should we prepare for trouble here as well?"
"I doubt it, otherwise we would have noticed something before. I suspect that some scout from Konoha found our operations here. We are operating in Fire Country after all. Well, if it is one, we will soon have another burial to hold. I so love burials. Everything bad is forgiven when you bury somebody," Raiga stated with a dreamy voice.
"Of course, Raiga," The men nodded and Raiga jumped away, up the stone walls of the mine.
Sasuke and Hinata waited for five minutes before starting. Sasuke rushed through the shadows and the guards didn't know what hit them before he had ensnared them in a genjutsu. Just eye contact was enough for him to cast genjutsu up to B-level by now. Hinata then proceeded to knock them out with her jutsu and they left them hidden in a dark corner to not have any coincidental alarm being raised, if anybody found them.
They coordinated taking out any guards they crossed paths with through hand signs and soon had made their way over to where Shikamaru was waiting for them.
"Everything done on your part?" Sasuke asked.
"Wasn't too difficult. I just had my shadows sneak up on them and strangled them into unconsciousness," Shikamaru replied, "I got the twenty-three guards that were around this area once the alarm was noticed. How many did you get?"
"Twenty-eight. And we counted three men being sent out after the first alarm was triggered and then another six twenty minutes after it," Sasuke answered.
"Means we have eliminated all sixty guards that we counted, and Raiga is going to face Naruto. Well, then let's wrap this up so that we can back Naruto up if he needs it. I don't like that he has to face Raiga on his own. Even if he is the only one that has the suitable element to pull it off," Shikamaru sighed.
"I would rather pity Raiga. Naruto is irritable if his chakra control is thrown off by growth spurts," Sasuke told the other two.
"He can't be worse than Tsunade sensei in the morning with a hangover," Hinata deadpanned.
The two boys looked at each other, somewhat surprised how much the formerly really shy Hyuga heiress had changed to even give a comment like that. Training under the female sannin seemed to really bring out a different part of her personality.
Naruto waited for Raiga to appear after he had dispatched the second group easily. It didn't take too long for him to appear.
"So you are the one that hurt my men," Raiga stated dangerously.
"They attacked me first, I just defended myself," Naruto replied, staying calm.
"This is my territory," Raiga continued.
"This is the territory of Fire Country and the only ninja force that has any authority over here is Konoha," Naruto declared, "On behalf of the Hokage, I demand that you cease any aggressive behaviour and come with me peacefully."
"And you truly think I would listen to a child like you?" Raiga laughed.
"Be careful Raiga, he is really strong," A different voice sounded softly, which made Naruto be on guard.
"I can take him on," Raiga stated confidently and crossed the two swords he held in his hands.
The swords were a normal length, but each sword had two fang-like extensions, making Naruto understand how the swords had got the name Kiba. Immediately lightning started running along the blades, and they cracked with energy. Naruto wasn't intimidated and pulled out a sword of his own, coating it in wind chakra. Then Raiga jumped towards him, yelling in fury. Naruto stayed calm. He met the twin swords with his one sword, parrying the strike, his wind chakra nullifying the effect of the lightning chakra.
"You little pest!" Raiga cried out annoyed.
"Careful, another behind you," The soft voice said.
Raiga directed a bolt of lightning behind himself and it hit one of the clones Naruto had prepared beforehand.
"You can't take me with this kind of simple trick, boy," Raiga boasted.
"Hm, then how about this?" Naruto asked unbothered and a rain of shuriken came down on Raiga from all around them, with Naruto leaving his position by flashing to one of his prepared seals.
Raiga frantically deflected all the weapons, but basically panicked when some of them got through his defence and hit his back. Naruto heard the other voice cry out in pain.
"No, Ranmaru," Raiga exclaimed.
"It's not too bad," The voice got out, "Just a grazing hit."
Still, it told Naruto what he needed to know. Raiga's ability to detect what was going on around him was due to another person, which was connected to his back. Well, he would deal with that before continuing the fight to take Raiga himself out. He seemed to be little more than a berserker without that voice telling him what to do. Well, time to get the poisoned weapons out. He let five shadow clones attack Raiga to keep him distracted. With how difficult it was by now to hit his clones, it should be more than enough time to let Naruto and four other clones take position to fire a barrage of senbons coated in sleeping drugs.
As he didn't know what kind of assistant Raiga had with him, he wouldn't go for the deadly kind just yet. And that ability was interesting enough to have the village's specialists examine that assistant. Once the last clone was fried by lightning, the barrage of senbons started. And each and every hit would count towards taking this opponent out. Naruto could hear some grunts from Raiga and small cries of pain in the other voice before he had used up the senbons for this barrage. Now he only needed to wait for a short time.
"Some stupid needles won't defeat me!" Raiga shouted into the darkness.
"Raiga, I'm so tired," The second voice stated.
"No, you can't go," Raiga protested.
"Can't stay awake," Was the last thing the voice said.
"Ranmaru, Ranmaru!" Raiga cried in despair, "Speak to me Ranmaru. No, you will die, you killed Ranmaru!"
Naruto could only shake his head. Raiga was not only a wild animal it seemed, he was also incredibly stupid. Well, the poison would also send him to sleep very soon. Probably this Ranmaru person was small, as the poison had worked very quickly. Normally it would take longer for it to have any effect. Then he saw Raiga stumbling as well.
"No, I won't die without avenging Ranmaru," Raiga stated, firing more lightning bolts around, not hitting anything.
Naruto made sure to stay out of sight, as he didn't want to risk a stray bolt of lightning finding its target before Raiga crumpled to the ground. He waited for another minute to make sure the poison had fully worked before stepping out from his hiding place. Really, for a member of the famous seven swordsmen this fight had been a real disappointment. He hadn't used any really high level techniques, except the one flying thundergod jump. But he could as well have used the standard body flicker to reach the same results. Compared to the fight between Zabuza Momochi and Kakashi sensei, Raiga was a sore disappointment.
Well, nothing to do about it but securing him, his weapons and finding out who this Ranmaru character was. Once he pulled off the hood of the cape Raiga wore, he found that he indeed had another person on his back. A child in fact, probably around nine years old. It was a boy with pale violet hair, which he wore to chin length. A quick check of his vitals told him that the boy was just drugged and otherwise okay. Raiga really jumped to conclusions way too fast. Well, nothing to do about it.
Naruto took the boy from Raiga's back and tied his hands up with some ninja wire. He didn't know how well the boy was trained, as no report about Raiga mentioned a child travelling with him. Not even Danzo had any information on that part, even if the file he had read about Raiga mentioned that he had taken to always wearing that coat with hood. Now it was clear why. Then Raiga was tied up as well and additionally he put chakra suppression seals onto his body before putting him into a prisoner scroll. Capturing Raiga alive would add a nice bounty to the mission and the Kiba swords would also be a great addition for the village.
If he didn't already have the sword of his great grandfather, he might have been tempted to keep the swords, as they could naturally create lightning chakra. While he didn't use the sword much, as he didn't have a need for it so far, simply because it would be total overkill to use such a sword against opponents on C-rank missions, he was pretty good at using it by now. The Sandaime had agreed that, as it was a family heirloom, Naruto had the right to the sword, and had signed the form to give it into Naruto's custody.
The sword he had used in this fight was simply one made of chakra conductive metal. While expensive to buy, it wasn't as special as a sword belonging to the seven great swords of Kiri or the sword of the thundergod. He also sealed the child into a second prisoner scroll, but, as a surface examination told him that the child wasn't trained as a ninja and actually had a fairly weak body, he didn't consider chakra suppressors necessary.
After finishing and undoing the traps he had set up in case he would need them, he turned his steps towards the direction of the gold mine. He was sure the others had already done their part.
Hinata was dismayed with the state of the prisoners at the mine. While they weren't in danger of falling down dead, they definitely needed some serious medical treatment for a while before they could be called healthy again. They had only got the needed food to be able to work each day, enough water, but no way to clean themselves, to treat small injuries and problems like flee were common.
She started to work on the worst cases, with Shikamaru and Sasuke performing first aid for the lesser ones, which was about the level of competency they had. They had been working for about five minutes when some of the better looking prisoners cried out that he had spotted lightning a short distance away. Most feared what Raiga could do to them with his lightning jutsus, which was the reason why he had managed to take over as easily as he had done. The previous owner of the mine had been electrocuted to death and been the first to be buried on the grounds of the mine.
They knew that Naruto was probably the one Raiga was fighting against, but they all knew that the leader of their mission was more than a match for a lightning user. He was used to sparring against one, as both the Hokage and Sasuke were primary lightning element users as well. He knew how to deal with that element, and also had the wind element as his own primary element.
"Don't worry too much about the lightning. It's just the distraction working out," Shikamaru assured the prisoners, "Let's just get everybody that needs it treated and then leave this place to a safer location."
The prisoners could definitely agree with that plan and some of the stronger ones helped with first aid. After thirty minutes they were ready to leave.
"Alright, we will need you to help each other. Stay in groups of four and make sure that nobody of your group falls behind. We will guard you and keep any possible opposition at bay. Normally we should have got all the guards, which we sealed into prisoner scrolls, which are escape proof, but it's always better to err on the side of caution," Shikamaru pointed out, "Sasuke will be taking the lead of the group, Hinata will be at the end with the ones that have the worst injuries and I will cover the middle part. Stay as calm and silent as possible while we move."
The prisoners nodded and soon they were out of the tunnel. Sasuke made sure that no enemy was close by and then started the track up the narrow path that was the only access to the valley in which the mine was located. They needed about ten minutes to have everybody up there, when a person landed silently next to Sasuke.
"I take it your part went well, Naruto?" Sasuke half asked, half stated.
"Definitely. I have Raiga and his little assistant Ranmaru sealed up in prisoner scrolls, both drugged with the sleeping variant of my poisons," Naruto answered.
"Good to know. Any guards we overlooked during the stake-out?" Sasuke asked.
"None that I noticed. As soon as we have the prisoners at the meeting point, which I already sent a shadow clone to Kakashi sensei to confirm that we managed to take out Raiga, the mission will be fulfilled successfully."
"Good. Though I wonder why nobody dealt with this before. I mean, if one team of three chunin and one special jonin could break up this operation as easily as we did, why wasn't it done before?" Sasuke wanted to know.
"A good question, one that I'm willing to bet Kakashi sensei also will have," Naruto nodded, "By the way, did your genjutsu work as we feared."
"Let's just say that they will have nightmares of fire demons for a while," Sasuke stated, grinning evilly.
"Even while using genjutsu you Uchihas can't deny your pyromaniac tendencies," Naruto shook his head, but didn't really mind. At least Sasuke got it out of his system with people that definitely deserved some torment for what they put the prisoners through.
The walk to the meeting spot that had been agreed upon beforehand, occasionally the restaurant of Sansho, was uneventful, but took them about two hours, as the civilians couldn't walk for long periods of time and only slowly. After half an hour the ninjas passed out water bottles and rice balls to give them back some strength. They took a break of fifteen minutes before they continued. All the time Hinata made sure that the ones that were off the worst health-wise didn't have to exhaust themselves too much.
When they arrived, they already found a large group of tents being set up around the restaurant.
"Even Tsunade sensei came," Hinata commented, "Next to bringing all the more advanced members of my healing class."
"Good, then this should be going well and quickly," Shikamaru commented.
"Hello, everybody. Good work on freeing them all," Tsunade greeted them, "Now, Hinata, I want a full report on your findings, treatment you already gave them and what we can expect. Naruto, the Hokage asks that you report to Anko as soon as you arrive, she is the one in charge here. And the prisoners can go and eat something once they were checked over at the restaurant. Sansho was very helpful and has cooked her famous Curry of Life for everybody. She promised me that it would bring them back onto their feet in no time at all."
The four Konoha nins blanched at the idea of all the poor prisoners having to eat that horribly hot curry.
"Tsunade sensei, I don't think that it would be a good idea," Hinata started.
"Nonsense, Hinata. A hearty curry is exactly the right thing for those that didn't get enough to eat for a while," Tsunade declared and nothing the team could say would sway her.
Thankfully, for the prisoners, it took a while for them all to be cleared and after Naruto discreetly told Anko about the effects of the curry, and she had had a small sample, she confiscated the whole cauldron, instead setting two of the Akimichis in the group to cooking something less hot for them to eat, telling Sansho that, as good as her 'Curry of Life' was, it was not suited for those that had just gone through a harsh ordeal and needed a bit of a light diet for a few days to let their stomachs recover. She told her that the rice she served with the curry was perfect for their needs and that some meat, cooked in basic broth, would be all they were allowed for now.
Though the mad cackle she left off when she had Naruto seal the curry into a stasis scroll, with the comment that it would be served to the former guards of the mine and Raiga, made the four that had eaten the curry before be glad that they weren't on the other side of Anko's wrath.