Here's another chapter for you to enjoy. Sorry took quite a while for me to update since work is practically demanding almost all of my time. Anyway, the poll will end in a week and my work is going to increase by then. LOL. Have fun
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
Summary: Time-Travel Story. Naruto died in the Fourth Shinobi War. Kami granted him a boon, returned him to his body with his and Kurama's memories of the future intact. This time, Naruto vowed to do things differently. Powerful Naruto, Powerful Team 7, No Bashing, Not Yaoi, No ships as of yet. Slight AU.
Round Two: A Naruto Time-Travel Story
When Changes Happen
Kakashi gaped when he saw Training Ground 7 after not seeing it for two days. He expected to arrive and pick up his students before whisking them away to his sensei's training ground in the Namikaze-Uzumaki compound. He definitely didn't expect to find his favorite haunt fixed and better than the last one.
The one-eyed Jounin noticed the ground free of any craters they made during the spar. Sure, it lacked any form of grass but at least the floor was level. The fallen trees were made into an obstacle course that looked quite appealing. New posts were erected and training dummies in one portion of the clearing, some of them marked for target practice or accuracy training.
All in all, Training Ground 7 was better than ever and he had a feeling that his students were behind this.
Speaking of students, the trio was currently in the middle of the training ground doing their own thing while waiting for him to appear. Sakura was kneeling on the ground, eyes closed and one hand on the soil. Kakashi could feel a weak pulse of chakra being transmitted into the ground below and he had a feeling that this was part of the discipline of their Elemental Bending, this one specifically geared towards earth.
Naruto and Sasuke were in the middle of a Kenjutsu spar but it was obvious that the Uchiha was taking it easy since Naruto was new to holding or wielding a blade. Kakashi's heart skipped a beat when he recognized the 4-foot long katana on the blonde's hands. There was no mistaking the red hilt and the tassel hanging off at the end. Naruto was wielding his mother's prized blade, Benihime.
"Good morning, my dear Genins." said Kakashi, deciding to make himself known. He amended that thought since there was a sensor in the group; it was quite possible that they already knew that he was around. He was right when Sakura pointed it out.
"Took you long enough to join us, sensei. You were just outside the boundary of the training ground for five minutes now." said Sakura who looked at him with a smile. "Hope you like what we did to the training ground."
Kakashi nodded. "I take it that you three did something?" he asked the sole female in their group.
"Uh huh. I used my affinity towards earth to remove the craters and smooth out the surface. Sasuke was the one who decided to use the fallen trees as training post and carved some of them into dummies. Naruto helped and used shadow clones to clean up the area and created the obstacle course." explained Sakura before looking at Naruto and Sasuke who was oblivious to anything as they go through the basics of kenjutsu in a mock spar. "Kakashi-sensei is here!"
That did the trick. Naruto and Sasuke immediately sheathed their blades, the latter more fluidly than the former who had the weapon on his back supported by a red sling. The duo joined Sakura in front of Kakashi who was smirking at them.
"Interested in kenjutsu, Naruto?" Kakashi asked the blonde who nodded immediately. "Considering that you're making Benihime your own, I daresay you discovered your mother's kenjutsu scrolls?"
Naruto looked at his sensei in shock.
"How did you know the name of my mom's sword?" Naruto all but demanded making Kakashi smirk. He didn't know that his sensei knew of his parents' legacy. Well, maybe of his dad but definitely nothing on his mom.
"You forget that I'm a student of your father, Naruto, so I definitely know your mom, her sword, Benihime, and her kenjutsu style. In fact, it is because of how she wielded Benihime and her mastery of the Uzumaki Sword Style that she was well-known as the Red Hot Habanero that even the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist feared to face her." Kakashi explained to the astonished blonde. "Did you know that your mom's blade is special?"
Naruto nodded. "I know that Benihime has special abilities similar to the swords of the Mist Swordsmen but I haven't tried them out yet. I read them briefly in my mother's training journal and I need to master the basic sword katas before I can even hope to use them."
Kakashi agreed with the blonde's explanation. The Uzumaki Sword Style was one of the most complicated kenjutsu maneuvers in the Elemental Nations. Not only was it unpredictable that the Sharingan would be hard-pressed to copy it, the style also incorporates different attack combination called "dances" that made it a very powerful sword style to learn.
"You're on the right track, Naruto. I can't teach you how to wield a katana since I'm a tanto user but I'm sure that Sasuke can help you with that. I'll also introduce you to a friend of mine who specialized in kenjutsu to give you a tip or two. Don't expect it to be soon though since we are going to be very busy with training and missions." said Kakashi as he made a mental note to talk to Yuugao or Hayate to help Naruto a bit in wielding a blade.
Now this perked the trio's interest.
"What do you mean, Kakashi-sensei?" asked Sasuke, very interested in the idea of getting specialized training from an expert. Sure, they trained for four years but having an experienced shinobi helping them would be a boon to their future goals.
"Hokage-sama had a meeting with some Jounin senseis. It would seem that certain events came to pass that forced the Hokage to rethink the basic training regimen of the Genin teams and to assign them specific roles in the field and mission." Kakashi explained, inwardly happy that his team was definitely mature enough to listen to his words instead of interrupting him. "Simply said, the Hokage wanted three things to happen."
He raised a finger. "One, you will be trained to a much higher level to make sure that you three become an effective Front Line Assault Team. Two, once a week, there will be a joint training sessions between Team 7, 8, 9, and 10 since they all have their designations and specialties. Lastly, the Hokage wanted us to finish at least 30 D-rank missions for this month alone so we can get started with C-ranks next month."
This information stunned the trio as they looked at each other excitedly. Their excitement was brief since they immediately reined it in much to Kakashi's approval.
"What specialties are we talking about, sensei?" asked Naruto, his mind already recalling certain memories of Team 8, 9, and 10 during the previous timeline. It was sad to say that he wasn't that familiar with their capabilities except for a few he was close with or faced in a battle, like Lee and Neji.
"Let me see, Kurenai's Team 8 is a Tracker and Infiltration. Asuma's Team 10 is Capture and Interrogation, and Gai's Team 9 is Front Line Support."
Sasuke nodded with a thoughtful frown on his face. "That's not so surprising if you think about it. Team 8 is composed of an Inuzuka, a Hyuuga, and an Aburame – definitely a tracker squad. Team 10 is obvious too with a Yamanaka and Nara. I'm not sure what an Akimichi's role is in that group but Chouji would be the muscle I guess. Who are on Team 9, sensei?"
"Rock Lee, a pure taijutsu specialist since he was born without the ability to channel chakra. Hyuuga Neji is considered as a prodigy of the Hyuuga's Branch Family and last year's Rookie of the Year; and TenTen is a weapon specialist. Speaking of which, who is the Rookie of the Year in your batch?" he asked curiously, eyeing the trio. Two fingers were pointed to a smug looking Sasuke.
"Sasuke is the Rookie of the Year, sensei." answered Sakura before looking pointedly at the smug boy. "Don't be so smug. You won the award by two points. If Naruto didn't miss on the accuracy test then you both would tie for the award and would duke it out in a taijutsu spar. I think we both know how that would turn out."
Sasuke winced. Despite his strength, there was no way he was going on a pure taijutsu match with Naruto who had vaunted stamina and had more strength training than he did.
"Fine. If we had an elimination match then Naruto would have won since he is way better than me in pure hand-to-hand combat. I could practically dodge him using my Sharingan but I would run out of stamina before he does." Sasuke retorted with a huff resulting in Naruto to sport a smug smirk directed at him.
"Alright, that's enough bickering from the two of you." Kakashi scolded the two who pouted for having their debate interrupted. "Now, I don't think I need to teach you how to train yourself since you did a pretty good job of it for the past four years. However, to make it more challenging, I'm going to introduce the use of Gravity Seals."
Naruto cocked his head to the side since he hadn't heard of this seal yet even with his father's notes. Sakura and Sasuke who didn't have sealing knowledge merely looked confused.
"What's the seal for, Kakashi-sensei?" asked the blonde, curiosity afire.
"Glad you asked, Naruto. This was actually a training tool introduced by your father. You see, the standard training weights you are using body's core strength. However, this would only serve bulking you up if you're not careful. Gravity Seals on the other hand is applied to the whole body, increasing the gravity so that you will feel yourself heavy and sluggish, forcing you to exert more effort just to move. This in turn trains your entire muscle group while training you to be faster.
"So does this mean we have to ditch our weights?" Sakura asked, not really liking the idea of bulking up. An image of a muscled shinobi with jiggling assets didn't appeal to her. She shuddered at the thought. "Please say yes!"
"Yes, Sakura, you three won't be using your training weights starting today. I will place the seal on you in a bit after our discussion and I will teach you guys how to activate and reactivate it. Upon the seal's activation, you will feel a large weight pressing down your body and cause some resistance as you move. The only way to move normal is to continuously channel chakra to your muscles until it is second nature. This, in turn, improves your chakra reserves as you get used to your training. I will up the Gravity Seal when you're used to it, meaning, you can move at normal speed without straining yourself."
"Where will the seal be applied, sensei?" asked Sakura since she was already envisioning her entire body covered in seals. She could live with the tattoo but she doesn't want to undress in front of his surrogate family or his sensei. If all else fails, she would demand for a female to apply it on her.
"Don't worry, Sakura." said Kakashi since he already knew what Sakura was thinking; a normal reaction for those not versed in sealing. He looked at Naruto who had a look of realization on his face. "Care to tell your teammate where the seal will be placed, Naruto?"
"Theoretically, from what you said, there are three areas in the human body for such a seal to work properly. One is on the nape, the middle of the back, and on the chest." Naruto answered immediately thanks to his experience in body-applied seals.
"Correct. I guess Sakura would be having the seal placed on her neck while Naruto and Sasuke would have it on the chest." Kakashi informed them. "Also, I will be training with you guys since the spar we had was an eye opener. I think I need to challenge myself a bit since you ALMOST beat me in our spar and I have no intentions of that happening."
"Is that a challenge, Kakashi-sensei?" Sasuke asked with a smirk, mimicked by Naruto and Sakura.
"Yes, that is, in fact, a challenge to you three." Kakashi said, smirking on his own.
Oh yes. This was going to be a fun training for all four of them; Kakashi would make sure of that.
Naruto burst out of the foliage he was hiding in and grabbed the surprised cat before stopping its movement with a carefully restraining seal he slapped on its back. His knowledge of fuuinjutsu grew immensely as his army of shadow clones got to work with the Sealing Arts while he and his team progressed through their month-long training sessions with Kakashi, Anko, and the other rookie teams.
Kakashi was honest with his intention in making the best out of them and turning them into the perfect Frontline and Assault Team that Konoha could be proud of. After a brief explanation of what was expected of them, they immediately started with a strict training regime that would make Maito Gai crow in delight from the intensity of it.
For starters, each of them was given the Gravity Seal to train their speed and strength without bulking up. They had problems with it at first but they couldn't deny the fact that the first month of having the seal activated on their person made them stronger than using the average weights. Kakashi trained them in tactics, some supplementary jutsus to add to their repertoire, honing their taijutsu, and sometimes indulging in kenjutsu spars with Sasuke and Naruto to give them some experience with their weapons.
When Naruto asked why he didn't train them in ninjutsu; Kakashi merely answered that they don't need it with their new discipline. When they mastered their respective elements, elemental techniques wouldn't be a problem. However, Team 7 decided that they would be using the vast arsenal of jutsus presented to them by the Uchiha and Namikaze-Uzumaki libraries to equip them with techniques outside their elements. After all, it doesn't hurt to be diverse in their capabilities since surprise was a shinobi's greatest weapon.
Anko's contribution to the team was to introduce them to the Forest of Death and a game of Cat-and-Mouse that spanned the entirety of the death trap known as Training Ground 44. If they were honest with themselves, Team 7 had fun hiding and ambushing Anko while ensuring that none of the predators made them their next meal. It was an unorthodox method in learning stealth but they couldn't deny the fact that it worked since Anko was practically a master of it despite her brash and noisy attitude.
Kakashi also made good with his promise to introduce kenjutsu experts to Sasuke and Naruto. Hayate and Yuugao taught the two once a week, pointing out errors in their stances, helpful tips to improve their swordsmanship, and sparring with them to add to their experience. Despite only meeting once a week, Naruto and Sasuke made most of their teaching by crossing blades every day to master their respective styles in handling the blade. They also included Sakura in their lessons, though it was along the line of exposing the girl to weapon-wielding opponents since she was mostly a fist fighter so she definitely needed the experience on how to face enemies who used sharp and pointy things to make her life a living hell.
Interacting with the other teams during the weekends was also an eye-opener for Team 7, especially for Naruto who practically saw that he made quite a change in this timeline compared to the last one. This time around, the teams were no pushovers since his actions caused the Sandaime to take a hand in the team's training program, demanding the Jounin senseis to put their respective teams through the ringer.
Naruto couldn't help but see the difference in the Rookies compared to the previous timeline.
Team 8 was definitely a tracker team. Kurenai immediately placed them in a stringent training program which includes survival training, upping their individual skills, improving their tracking abilities in regards to the use of their bloodline - the latter was mostly during Tora Catching missions. She also made a special point to work with Hinata to improve her confidence since it was bringing her down. This was somewhat successful when she got rid of the girl's stuttering on the second week.
Team 9 was still the same though and not much changed in their training program since Gai already has everything well in hand. However, the spars they had with Neji, Lee, and Tenten were definitely a welcome experience since it opened them to pure taijutsu combat.
It was Team 10 that Naruto saw the biggest change. Asuma definitely made good with his promise to train his team to the best of his abilities. Shikamaru was less lazy, Ino trying to control her fan girl tendencies when around Sasuke, and Chouji gaining muscles thanks to their physical training program. Asuma also pushed them to learn more of their clan techniques to make them stronger and more flexible in the field.
For Team 7, the month was scheduled accordingly to make sure that they get the most out of their training and spars, interacting with the rest of the rookies, and of course, doing D-rank missions as many as they could to clear them for a C-rank. It helped that Naruto made use of his solid clones to add to the numbers. They cleared the mark for a C-rank mission but Kakashi was adamant to finish their one-month training schedule before undergoing a higher ranked mission.
As it stands, the current mission – catching Tora, the Fire Daimyo's Wife's Cat – was their 52nd D-rank mission and they would be getting a C-rank next week. Unlike other Genin Teams who viewed the Tora-Catching mission a hellish experience, Team 7 found it easy since the Naruto had the foresight of placing a Tracking Seal on the cat's collar after catching it the first time.
Thanks to that, they held the fastest record of catching Tora under 15 minutes. Since they could easily find Tora through Naruto's seal, they made it more challenging by coming up different ways to catch the troublesome feline – ambush tactics, use of restraining seals, barrier seals, ninjutsu practice, and even outright destruction to scare the feline when Team 7 was feeling too vindictive to care.
"Tora acquired!" Naruto exclaimed with a grin while holding the frozen cat. It was a good thing he immediately slapped a restraining tag on the cat the moment he got the thing in his hands or he would be mauled immediately when in range of its claws. He learned the first time and quite thankful of his healing factor or he have looked like a scratching post after that mission. He still wondered how the cat's claws shredded his clothes since the durability seals would have protected it from the assault.
It cemented their assumption that Tora was a demon cat sent by Kami to torment Genins.
"Good work, Naruto." said Sakura, jumping down from the branch she was perched on. "I swear. If we have to catch the cat one more time after this, I'm going to bury it so deep it wouldn't be able to dig its way out."
Sasuke chuckled while coming out of the foliage from the north. "What's the current count?" he asked his teammates.
"This makes 27." Sakura all but growled before turning to the forest where she sensed Kakashi watching them. "I hope you do well with your promise to give us a C-rank mission, sensei. If we have to catch this…this…abomination one more time, Lady Shijimi would have to get a new pet to smother."
"Mah mah, I did promise that you'll get a C-rank after this, Sakura. When did I ever break a promise with you guys?" Kakashi asked with an eye smile as he strolled out of the forest without a care in the world. One of the positive sides of having a competent team was the lack of supervision needed for missions. Since they only did D-ranks, he need not watch over them, giving him time to relax and watch the show, which wasn't much since watching his team do chores wasn't really all that fun to begin with. He used Team 7's D-rank mission to catch up on his reading though since he was woefully behind on the latest Icha Icha series that came out last month.
"None so far which is a good thing, sensei." said Sasuke, happy in how Kakashi took a hand in their training, helping them improve in their individuals skills at a faster rate.
"Well, since we already have Tora, why don't we return and train with our elements? I have some ideas for a defensive technique so I need some time to practice it if I want it battle ready for our next mission." offered Naruto, itching give his new technique a go after thinking of it last night.
"Oh? What is it?" asked Sakura curiously, silently agreeing with his teammate's idea. She was making a huge headway in manipulating her element but techniques were limited. She might be considered smart but her creativity wasn't really that good to begin with compared to the two.
"Knowing Naruto, he'll end up creating a destructive technique again." Sasuke quipped with a snicker.
"That was only one time!" Naruto said with a pout, causing the snicker to turn into a laugh. "How am I supposed to know that my first wind bending technique turned into a twisting funnel of destruction?"
"You did destroy the training ground." Kakashi pointed out, remembering Naruto's first experiment with his so-called wind bending. The blond was aiming to fire off a wind blast but the slight rotation of his hand caused a twister to form that destroyed a good chunk of the training ground and uprooted a few good size trees before dying down. "I hope you have good control over it this time since Sakura would have to be the one fix things with her ability to control earth to a degree."
"Agreed." Sakura agreed immediately with a nod since she was getting tired of using her affinity to smoothen out the training ground. It's not like she didn't want to do it but it gets tiring after doing it a couple dozen of times, even if she did contribute a lot to the destruction with her super strength.
"Fine." said Naruto before looking at Sakura. "I got this idea for a defensive technique after watching Neji perform Kaiten when I sparred with him last week."
"Kaiten? Oh, you mean the swirling dome of chakra he used to block your Shuriken Kage Bunshin." said Sakura in remembrance. After all, it wouldn't be practical to hide such a powerful defensive technique when there were hundreds of shurikens raining down on you from above courtesy of Naruto overpowering the weapon replication technique.
"Right," Naruto agreed. "From what I could tell, Neji released a large amount of chakra while spinning to form a stable dome that made up the Hyuuga's absolute defense. I was thinking of using Wind to create a dense twister around me to mimic the same effect. I'm not sure how it would turn out though since wind is technically harder to control than chakra."
"That is a good idea, Naruto, but you need to think about its power too. From what I can tell, a twister or a wind construct that size and power would end up destroying everything around it. I'm sure it would be useful if you're surrounded by enemies but what if your teammates were around you when you performed it?" Kakashi added his two cents, silently agreeing that such a technique would be a great defensive maneuver but considering Naruto's element, it was a double-edge sword if not used properly.
"I know, Kakashi-sensei. That is why I want to see what happens when I put it into practice. I need to see how it constructs itself before tweaking it a bit." Naruto informed his one-eyed sensei.
"Good. Since your shadow clones can do the bending thing, why don't you assign a few of them to perform it? A technique of that caliber, not to mention the amount of Wind you will be generating to create the defense, would likely hurt you. Clones are dispensable and you get their memories when they dispel so you will still learn what they experienced afterwards."
"That's a good idea, sensei. I think I'll do that." Naruto agreed. He mentally berated himself for not thinking of using shadow clones to train his Wind element sooner despite the fact that he abused the technique in learning fuuinjutsu.
"Now that we have a plan, let's hurry to the tower and return Tora to Lady Shijimi then head to Training Ground 7 for a bit of training before calling it a day." Kakashi commanded as he sped up some more, not worried that his team wouldn't be able to catch up.
The Sandaime Hokage took a long puff out of his smoke before sensing the presence of his student. He was expecting him last week but it would seem that his spymaster was busy.
"Took your time answering my summons, Jiraiya." Sarutobi said calmly even if he was the only one visible in the room.
A tall man with long spiky white hair seemed to materialize from one corner of the room, a smirk on his face.
"I was in Kaminari no Kuni when I was visited by your summons bearing a letter." Jiraiya informed his teacher. "I had to finish briefing my spies in that area before coming here. You mentioned that this has something to do with Minato's kid?"
"Yes, the reason why I called you here is because of your godson." said Sarutobi, emphasizing the man's relationship to Naruto causing Jiraiya to wince.
"You know the reason why I couldn't take care of him, sensei." Jiraiya argued.
"I know. No matter how much I argued with you, I know that your reason is sound since you've been supplying vital information over the years. However, the reason I called you here is because of certain events that happened that requires your hand in his training."
"Why? Did something happen to Naruto?" Jiraiya all but demanded. Despite the fact that he wasn't around to take care of his godson, it doesn't mean he didn't care for the boy. In fact, he was the one supplying the Sandaime with money for the boy's weekly allowance since the orphan stipend wasn't enough for his taste.
"Nothing bad happened to Naruto but something did happen." said Sarutobi before digging out a folder from his drawer and tossing it to his student who easily caught it and perused its contents, eyes getting bigger as he went through the information of one Namikaze-Uzumaki Naruto.
"Is this for real?" Jiraiya exclaimed in disbelief. He knew that Minato was a master in the sealing arts but he didn't expect his student to take it one step further. To seal a part of his and his wife's soul into their only son to teach him was definitely something he didn't consider.
"Everything in that file is real, Jiraiya. That is my personal copy. I omitted some facts from his public profile to protect him from the more…radical residents of the village. But yes, everything you read there is real."
"Damn! Who knew Minato was this talented in the sealing arts. I went through his notes on the Shiki Fuujin and the Hakke Fuin Shiki but I didn't know about sealing a part of his and Kushina's soul into the seal as a failsafe." Jiraiya said in excitement and pride. "I also read the part that Naruto had full control of his tenant's chakra. Is this for real?"
"Oh yes, that's definitely real alright." Sarutobi said dryly. "You might want to turn to the next page since I included there all the information Naruto provided from his conversation with Kyuubi."
Jiraiya stared bug-eyed at his sensei before flipping to the next page, his eyes in danger of popping out of their sockets.
"HOLY MILKY FRESH NIPPLES OF KAMI! UCHIHA MADARA IS ALIVE?" Jiraiya shouted causing the Sandaime to inwardly sigh in relief since he already blanketed the room in a privacy jutsu of his design, ensuring that the white-haired man's exclamation didn't reach unwanted ears.
"If I didn't put a privacy jutsu up around the room, I would have punched you silly right now for being carried away by your emotions." Sarutobi all but growled. "And yes, the information there is correct and I have no doubt that Kyuubi is telling the truth. It makes sense if you really think about it. Out of all the bijuus, only the Kyuubi rarely attacked – summoned by Uchiha Madara during his battle with the Shodaime, the Kinkaku Brigade in Kumo, and finally, its attack during Naruto's birth."
"Who knew that the Sharingan has enough power to control the most powerful bijuu in the Elemental Nations." Jiraiya muttered. "No wonder the Kyuubi wanted to stay in Naruto's seal. It is relatively safe there. Maybe Madara has something to do with this new group I keep hearing about."
"New group?" the Sandaime asked curiously.
Jiraiya nodded. "I heard from one of my spies in Amegakure about the existence of a group of S-rank missing-nins calling themselves the Akatsuki. They appeared after Hanzo was defeated but they are quite silent with their plans. However, my spy was able to overhear a drunk Ame shinobi about their master's plan in making use of the bijuus for something. That's all I got at the moment." He admitted, not liking the idea of such powerful rogue group escaping his notice or his lack of information about them. It rankled his ego as a spymaster.
"I see. This is disconcerting news. If Madara is spearheading the group then surrounding himself with S-rank criminals will definitely prove a problem in the future." the Sandaime said coldly, not liking the idea of power hungry individuals targeting his surrogate grandson. He was thankful that Naruto was strong and able to take care of himself but the boy needed to be trained some more to protect himself from S-rank rogues. "Make sure that your spies keep their ears open about this Akatsuki, Jiraiya. I don't need to remind you how big a threat they are in regards to Minato's legacy and the safety of this village as a whole."
"Don't worry, sensei. The first time I heard that tidbit, I doubled the number of spies I have around the world to make sure that I don't miss anything important. That is one of the reasons why I was late in coming. I was interviewing a potential spy in Kumo's ranks. It took a lot of fast talking but I got the person to agree." Jiraiya said with a smug smirk on his face.
"Oh? From your tone, I daresay that this spy is someone among the Raikage's ranks?" Sarutobi said midly, impressed that his student infiltrated Kumo's strict ranks.
"You bet." Jiraiya nodded eagerly. "In fact, these two contacted me and not the other way around. They sought me out and offered to become my spies in Kaminari no Kuni regarding the Akatsuki. I won't be surprised that they were also looking out for themselves when they volunteered."
"Who are these…spies?" Sarutobi asked, now afire with curiosity.
"The jinchuurikis of the Nibi and Hachibi, Nii Yugito and Kirabi." Jiraiya smugly.
Sarutobi was gobsmacked upon hearing thenames.
"These two volunteered? Just like that? No propositions or conditions?" the aged leader asked incredulously. Spies were paid for their services and the information they presented to their employers, and he doubted that the two of the most talented shinobi in the Raikage's ranks would want money. No, if they offered to be Jiraiya's spies then they needed something and he knew that they wanted something from the man.
"Well, not precisely but their request is actually quite something." Jiraiya said in a wistfully.
"What?" Sarutobi urged, annoyed at his student for holding back crucial information and leaving him hanging.
"Well, they asked me if I could set up a meeting with them and Naruto in the future." Jiraiya said calmly. However, that calm didn't manifest in the Hokage's reaction to that statement.
"They did WHAT?" Sarutobi screamed before reaching down under his desk and pulled out a fresh bottle of sake. He definitely needed the alcohol to calm his nerves.
Jiraiya smirked at his sensei who was drinking from the bottle, taking long gulps and ignoring good manners. "They know his status as the Kyuubi's host. I don't know how but they do. They are not asking for anything except the possibility of talking to Naruto in the near future."
"You agreed to this?" an incredulous and disbelieving Sarutobi asked, his thoughts running a mile a second in the possibility of a spy in the village leaking information to Kumo's ranks.
"I did but I made sure that it wouldn't endanger my godson in any way." Jiraiya said, a bit insulted at what his sensei was implying. "I told them that if they want to meet Naruto then it would be within a monitored environment and within Konoha's walls. In fact, they even suggested meeting the brat sometime around the Chuunin Exams six months from now."
Sarutobi sighed in relief before giving his student a look. "Are you sure they are legitimate in their request? No side missions? I think you remember what the Sandaime Raikage ordered when he had a Hyuuga Main Branch member abducted a few years back." he pointed out.
"No worries, sensei. I will be there when they meet Naruto. I'm not letting anything happen to my godson." Jiraiya promised before a smirk crossed his face. "Anyway, it says that Naruto knows the Rasengan and is in the process of learning the Hiraishin. Looks like Minato made good use of his year inside Naruto. Did Kushina teach him anything?"
"Just the basics to get him started; nothing in terms of clan techniques but from what Kakashi told me, Naruto already took up his mother's sword and learning from her training scroll. I wouldn't doubt that Naruto would be picking up style since he is already showing good control over it."
"Oh? Kakashi is teaching his the brat? I hope he isn't holding back in making my godson strong?" Jiraiya said ominously. Sure, Kakashi was one of his die hard Icha Icha fans but he wouldn't tolerate the man's laziness in regards to his godson's shinobi training.
"Trust me; Kakashi is definitely going all out with his team. In fact, last I heard from the Jounins, Kakashi is now training himself up to his old strength as an ANBU Captain. I think your godson and his friends motivated him enough to do so. Heck, he even challenged Gai to a fight last week during one of his team's breaks."
Jiraiya now looked at his sensei in disbelief. "Really now? That's definitely new in what I know of the Cyclops. So, who are my godson's teammates?"
"I knew I forgot something when I made that file." Sarutobi murmured to himself, berating himself for not updating Naruto's shinobi information, both his private one and the one for the archives. "His teammates are Uchiha Sasuke and Haruno Sakura. Check the third page, you might be surprised at how well he is with his teammates…or surrogate siblings if I understand the complexities of their relationship."
Jiraiya gave his sensei a long look before following the man's advice and flipped to the next page. Ten minutes later, Jiraiya grabbed the sake bottle from a smug Sandaime Hokage before taking a long drink.
"No wonder you ordered me to find Tsunade." grouched Jiraiya. "You want her back so she could train Haruno Sakura as an apprentice." The Sandaime nodded. "You do know that she won't accept that order right? She vowed never to return to the Leaf and her sojourn throughout the Hi no Kuni without even coming near Konoha is proof of that."
"True." the aged leader agreed with the Toad Sage's assessment of the errant Slug Princess. "However, I can do something that would practically force her back to the village without a fuss."
Jiraiya raised an eyebrow. "Do tell, sensei."
"You seem to forget, Jiraiya, that despite Tsunade being a Sannin and her vow of never coming back to the Leaf, she is still a shinobi of Konoha. If she doesn't want to come back as ordered then I would be forced to mark her as an S-rank rogue shinobi." the Sandaime said coldly much to the shock of his white-haired student.
"You can't be serious, sensei."
"I am quite serious, Jiraiya. Despite her status as the current head of the Senju clan, the Princess of Konoha, one of the Densetsu no Sannin, and being known as the Legendary Medic of the Elemental Nations; she is still and always will be a shinobi of Konoha. She didn't retire nor turn in her shinobi license. She is currently using her Sannin travel rights to enter every settlement, village, or town around Hi no Kuni. I, being the Hokage, can easily order her to come back."
"But to label her as a rogue?" Jiraiya repeated in disbelief.
"I think she had enough of her tantrums." the Sandaime said forcefully. "She will come back to the Leaf, one way or the other. I have no choice in the matter, Jiraiya. For my plan to work, I need her to come home."
"For what? There are only two things I can think of that would fit her qualification. She will either head the hospital or…" Jiraiya ticked off before his eyes widened in realization. "Don't tell me you want her to succeed you as the Godaime Hokage?"
Sarutobi nodded solemnly. He stood up from his chair and went to the window, offering him a grand view of the village.
"I am old, Jiraiya, too old to be holding this position. I should have retired when Minato took over but I was forced to take up the role as the leader again because there was no one qualified to take the mantle and I certainly won't appoint Danzo as the Hokage or that would lead to chaos and bring the Leaf to its knees." Sarutobi said with a sigh. "I am not going to step down as of yet but what I plan to do will help me improve this village and to protect it from future threats. I can only do so if Tsunade and you are here in the village."
"If you're not going to make Tsunade the Godaime Hokage as of yet, why do you need the both of us?" Jiraiya questioned with a hint of challenge in his voice.
"I already drafted a plan for the rehabilitation of the Leaf." the Sandaime said simply as he returned to his chair. "The first step is to take down the civilian council. They overstepped their bounds and made their powerbase solid enough when Minato died that it would be quite difficult to bring them down. With you two, I can easily implement the first step of my plan."
"I know the council is not what it used to be when the Shodaime and Nidaime started Konoha so a little bit of house cleaning would certainly help. But how are you going to do that and why Tsunade and I?"
"The first step is to replace my advisors. You and Tsunade will take Koharu and Homura's place."
"I think you're getting senile in your old age, sensei." Jiraiya said dryly, not liking the plan one bit since being an advisor would force him to stay in the village. He needed to be out and about to concentrate on his spy network and his…research. "You know I can't leave my spy network alone."
The aged leader frowned. "You don't fool me, Jiraiya. I know very well how your spy network runs and I know you can easily use your toad summons to send messages back and forth. After all, you and Minato did perfect the messenger seal but haven't released it to the public yet."
"How in the world did you know that?" Jiraiya exclaimed, shocked that his sensei knew his and Minato's secret project. In truth, he was already using the messenger seal, allowing his spies to send him messages when he was out and about the Elemental Nations.
"Easy, I read Minato's journal." Sarutobi said with a grin. "You already know that he kept a journal during his reign as Hokage, so of course, I have access to it."
"Fine. You win." Jiraiya all but growled. "Why do you need to replace your advisers? They were your teammates. They couldn't be that bad."
"Oh no, Jiraiya, that is exactly the reason why I want to replace them." Sarutobi said dryly. "Our history as teammates made them a bit too…informal in treating me as the Hokage. Also, it was Koharu and Homura, along with Danzo I might add, who pushed through with the decrees that gave the civilian council their power base. It was these three that made a mockery of the Konoha Council. With the two of them gone, Danzo is the only one left since he is the steward of the Uchiha Clan thanks to some calculated moves on their part. With Danzo alone, without the backing of the Shinobi Council, I can easily remove the Civilian Council's power from underneath them. I can boot them out or assign new ones in their place."
"That…is a very sound plan, sensei." Jiraiya said thoughtfully before a doubtful look crossed his face. "How are you going to deal with Danzo. You and I both know that despite having none of the civilians backing him up, he still has his influence in the village, not to mention his 'bodyguards'."
"His ROOT you mean? I know it's still around but I already have a plan to deal with the old warhawk."
"Oh? Do tell?" Jiraiya asked curiously causing the Sandaime to smirk, making the Toad Sage realize that the Professor and the Kami no Shinobi was back in the game.
"Simple, if you can't beat them…force them to submission under the threats of death." Sarutobi declared with a cold smile that sent shiver down Jiraiya's spine.
Team 7 entered the Hokage's Office sporting expectant and excited faces. They were going to get a C-rank mission today and Naruto wanted something good to give them a challenge. He knew that it won't be the Wave mission since he remembered that was given to them three months after they became Genin. Naruto was quite adamant to get that mission.
"Don't worry about it, kit. If I know fate, and I definitely do, everything will happen the same way as the last time." said Kurama.
"You can't really say that, partner, and I don't believe in fate. Besides, you can see the difference in this time compared to the last one."
"Point." Kurama admitted. "All I'm saying is that if it happens then it happens. It's no use stressing yourself about something that is beyond your control."
"You mean to tell me that there's nothing I can do to get that mission?"
"I didn't say that. I know you can come up with something to push things in your favor but my gut feeling is telling me that things will happen the same way as last time."
"Fine. " Naruto admitted. He couldn't deny the fact that his tenant was right. No use stressing about things beyond his control and it would give him away if he did meddle just to get the Wave mission. He would just have to leave things to chance and trust in his luck to work things in his favor. "I just realized I miss seeing the sights outside the village. I wonder if I'll be traveling with ero-sennin this time around."
"Possible." Kurama answered before releasing a loud yawn. "I'm going to take a nap. Good night, kit."
"Good night, Kurama." Naruto said before cutting of the mind link between him and the bijuu, focusing his attention towards Kakashi talking to the Hokage. He felt a nudge from his right. "Yes, Sakura?"
"Talking to your tenant again?" Sakura whispered.
"Yeah, before he went to sleep." whispered back. "He told me to stop fretting about what mission we would be getting since there's no way to pick them unless Kakashi-sensei gives us the option."
"True. Don't worry though since this would be a step up above D-ranks. C-rank missions include bandit extermination, escorting merchants and prominent figures, and courier missions. Whatever it is, we'll be leaving the village for a few days or a week at most."
"Where in the world did you get that information?" Sasuke asked with a bit of awe. He was always amazed at how Sakura could find such information despite not having a shinobi-oriented family.
"I asked Ino's dad. I visited her yesterday for a bit of catch up." she answered with a shrug. "Since her dad was there, I asked what a C-rank mission entails. Since he was not revealing anything classified, he told me all about it. Did you know that some senseis use C-rank missions to expose their students to killings?" she asked with a shudder.
Sasuke and Naruto's eyes hardened at the idea of taking a life. They knew that it was inevitable to take a life with the occupation they chose and they discussed it once over dinner. They would take a life if they had to but their primary objective when faced with an enemy was to incapacitate and capture. If that fails then killing would be the last choice.
"Yes, we know. We DID talk about that before and…my tenant told me that it is normal for shinobi to kill during missions. However we are still on with our plan to only resort to taking a life as a last resort, right?" said Naruto, not liking the idea of killing one's opponent.
"If there is no other choice." replied Sasuke with Sakura nodding in agreement. "I wouldn't mind getting that out of the way since I want to be desensitize to killing. I will do it but it doesn't mean I have to like it."
"Agreed." said Naruto. "Seems like Kakashi-sensei is done picking a mission for us."
"Alright, team. We have our first C-rank mission. Considering that this is your first, our mission is to deliver a package from the village blacksmith to a client of his in Otafuku Gai. This will be a 5-day mission so pack enough for that duration. We will meet in two hours at the center of the merchant's district to pick up the package from our client before deliver it to his client. Understood?"
"Hai, sensei." The three exclaimed in unison.
"Good. You're dismissed for now." Kakashi ordered and watched his team exit using the standard Konoha Shunshin.
"Quite a team you have there, Kakashi."
Kakashi turned around to see a white-haired man standing beside the seated Hokage, a smile on his face. The one-eyed Jounin definitely recognized the man as the sensei of his departed sensei.
"Jiraiya-sama." Kakashi greeted in his usual lazy drawl. "And yes, I am quite proud of my team."
"From the way they handled themselves, I definitely see a resemblance to my team before certain…issues came up." said Jiraiya, making a face. This train of thought caused the aged leader to wince, remembering his wayward student.
"I see that you also noticed the resemblance, Jiraiya. Naruto would be you, Sasuke is Orochimaru, and Sakura as Tsunade. The three has the making of becoming the new Sannin of Konoha if they keep growing in strength and power." The aged leader mused, rubbing his chin in thought. "Are you planning to let Naruto sign the Toad Contract?"
"I think I should. It is Minato's wish after all." Jiraiya replied with a grin.
"Are you sure that's wise? It's a bit early for Naruto to do summoning." Kakashi stressed, not wanting his student to suffer…complications by going too fast though he grudgingly agreed to himself that Naruto could handle it.
"Considering that your blonde student has the chakra capacity that would make any Kage green with envy and the skills to use them? I think your student is ready Kakashi." Jiraiya pointed out with Kakashi agreeing since it was true. Naruto definitely had the chakra reserves and control for summoning. He could even summon the boss a dozen times without getting winded though he doubted Gamabunta would like that.
"Fine. When? Not this week obviously since we have a mission."
"Definitely not this week. I still need to track down an acquaintance of mine." said Jiraiya while giving the smoking Hokage a look that spoke volumes while patting a bulge on his side pocket, a bulge that came in the form of a scroll containing a missive from his sensei to Tsunade. "How about next month?"
Kakashi nodded in agreement. "Next month then. Anyway, I have a mission to prepare so I'll see you later, Jiraiya-sama, Hokage-sama." he said and bowed to the two before leaving the room in a Shunshin.
"You're right. He's definitely stronger than last time." noted Jiraiya when he used a bit of his Senjutsu to sense Kakashi's strength. It was definitely stronger than last time, not the same level when he was an ANBU Captain but getting there.
"I did tell you that he was training along with his team. Now why don't you proceed with your own mission? You have a month to track your…prey and considering her nature, she would be quite a hard to find." Sarutobi pointed out to a disgruntled Toad Sage.
"You don't have to remind me." Jiraiya said dryly. "I already sent a message to all my spies around Hi no Kuni to keep an eye out for Tsunade, Shizune, and that pet pig of theirs. I'll start with my search since I haven't gotten any news from them as of yet."
"Good. You're dismissed."
"See you in a month, sensei." said Jiraiya before jumping out the window making Sarutobi sigh.
"Why can't he use the door?" the aged leader grumbled.
End of Chapter 6
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