61. Storms And Pirates

Story Start: Wandering Seal Cargo Ship, Out At Sea

There was a party going on aboard the cargo ship, some of the Circus' female members teaching Prince Michiru how to dance, the royal currently red in the face. Naruto though wasn't interested in the party. Instead, he was approaching Sarutobi with grim news.

"Sir, Adel Plains reports a storm three miles off their bow. Escort 1 released another clone to do an overhead pass and while it's no hurricane, it's still a rather big one, we won't be able to go around it unless we want to add several dozen miles to our trip." Naruto stated.

Hiruzen nodded at that before he asked "Does Captain LeMay believe they can make it through the storm?"

Naruto's eyes unfocused slightly as he spoke with Escort 1 for a few moments. When they refocused, he said "Adel Plains can handle it, though it won't be a pleasant time."

Sarutobi hummed before he stood up and he and his subordinate made their way over to the dancing prince. The man honestly looked like he could use the chance to sit down as Sarutobi said "Your Highness, our escort reports a bad storm ahead of them that is rather large. If we were to try to go around it would add at least another day or two to our journey but if we continue through it'll be quite rough. Your orders?"

Michiru pondered for a moment before he frowned and asked "Is it possible to secure the circus animals in those scrolls like you did everything else?"

Hiruzen nodded and said "It's possible Your Highness, though they'll likely be a bit grouchy when they come out."

Michiru nodded and said "Then do so. I'd rather not be out at sea any longer than we have to."

Sarutobi nodded and looked towards Naruto as he said "You heard the Prince Jounnin Uzumaki, make it so."

Naruto nodded and as he spoke with Escort 1 several more shadow clones appeared around him, one of them hopping up onto the table and giving a sharp whistle. Immediately the music stopped and the clone called out "Now hear this! Adel Plains is reporting a massive storm eight miles ahead of our position! All of the animals are to be placed in stasis seals and their cages put in storage seals, while that's happening we need to prepare the ship for the storm. Let's get to it people!"

As everyone began moving in a frenzy, Hiruzen told Michiru "Your Highness, I recommend you and your son head inside."

"Yes, I do believe we should." The prince said before calling for Hikaru.

It didn't take long after everything was stowed for the waters to turn rough. Thankfully for the Adel Plains and the Wandering Seal, they had access to Wind Jutsu using shinobi who knew the Wind Dome jutsu which on top of keeping the harsh winds from blowing over the deck, it also kept the rain and high waves from turning the decks slick. Unfortunately that didn't do anything about the waves themselves but both ships plowed on through the stormy waves with grim determination.

Heza glanced away from where she was watching Naruto and Sarutobi sitting cross legged from each other on the deck using chakra to stay in place with their hands held in the bird symbol when she heard the nearby hatch swinging open. She frowned when she saw a pajama clad Hikaru hanging to the doorway and she quickly darted over using chakra to counter the bucking of the ship. Reaching the hatchway, Heza gently pushed the young royal back inside and closed the hatch behind her before kneeling for Hikaru to tell her what was wrong. A massive brat he may be, but she seriously doubted he would come out in this weather unless something was wrong with his father.

"Dad got thrown out of bed and hit his arm funny!" Hikaru explained.

Heza grimaced and asked "What about the doctor you brought with you?"

"He's almost as seasick as dad is." Hikaru said. The kid was looking a little green around the gills himself actually.

Heza nodded and picked Hikaru up, ignoring his protests as she set him on her back piggy back style and zipped through the hallways, going along the walls when the ship was tilting from the waves. Reaching the quarters the royals had been given, she let out a wince when she saw Michiru's arm being put into splints by the doctor who was doing his best not to be thrown off of his own feet (or lose his dinner).

Striding into the room, Heza's hands glowed green as she asked "How bad is it?"

Fortunately, the arm wasn't broken. There were a few fractures though and Heza thanked Tsunade's mandate of the girls of the shinobi teams (and any males with exceptional chakra control) going through a 'quick and dirty' one month course on first aid medical jutsu. She might not have been as good as Naruto was thanks to the bullshit Shadow Clones let him get away with when it came to learning jutsu but she was perfectly capable of fixing the current problem.

Michiru's expression gained a fraction of relief when Heza finished and she said "I'd keep the splints on for the night just to be safe but after that you should be good to go Your Highness."

Michiru nodded and said "Thank you young lady."

The doctor gave Heza a nod of his own appreciation and Heza returned them before she let Hikaru down from her back. (The kid had been watching over her shoulder intently the whole time she worked.) She kept a hand on his shoulder until he had grabbed a railing to help with his footing before she took off back outside.

Time Skip: The Next Morning

Fortunately, Michiru was the only one injured aboard the Wandering Seal that night. Even more fortunately, the morning dawned clear and bright. The animals certainly appreciated the weather as they were unsealed then allowed to lounge about on the deck. Heza kept an eye on Hikaru as he tried to again get close to Chamu (this time with a tamer next to him) but thankfully the sabretooth tiger was remaining docile for the moment.

Naruto meanwhile was pulling radio duty as Sarutobi spoke with Captain LeMay.

"We managed to make it through the storm intact, no injuries to report. Having that wind dome jutsu keeping the ship's decks clear of water and wind was a big help." Naruto dutifully repeated what Lemay reported.

Sarutobi nodded (Which Escort 1 mimicked) and said "That's good to hear. How long until you reach sight of the archipelago?"

"Shouldn't be any longer than three hours." LeMay stated, Naruto showing the man's frown as he continued "We might be having company about an hour earlier. It depends on where those pirates were when the storm passed through. We've sent a pair of clone teams out to perform air patrols but so far they haven't reported any sightings."

Sarutobi nodded again and said "Understood. We'll begin doing the same now."

Naruto gave Sarutobi a thumb's up and a twelve man squadron of clones appeared around him before taking to the air and splitting up into six teams of two to begin their own patrolling.

The discussion between the two ships continued for another minute before ending. When Naruto was finished doing radio duty the pair split up. Sarutobi went back to his 'standby position' with the royals while Naruto made his way up to the crows nest, unsealing a set of binoculars that he used to look towards where Adel Plains was five miles ahead. Thanks to the wonder of seals he was now actually able to make out details on the disguised cruiser rather than just see a dot on the horizon.

It was a couple of hours before the patrolling clones found the trouble they were expecting: A pair of ships coming out of hiding in the archipelago and making best possible speed for the Adel Plains. Either they had some kind of surveillance system in place (Waterproof camera on a painted or submerged buoy perhaps?) or there was a Sensor among their ranks. When the clones spotted headbands on a few of the pirates, Naruto started putting money on the latter definitely being possible, and one with a pretty impressive range too.

Leaning over the railing of the crows nest, Naruto put two fingers into his mouth and let out a sharp whistle. Everyone on the top deck looked up as Naruto called out "The pirates have taken the bait. There's two ships going for them so I strongly suggest all noncombatants be ready to get below decks in case one of them comes for us."

Prince Michiru didn't bother waiting, instead quickly moving to his son and cajoling him inside, followed by several of the circus performers. A few moments after they had gone below decks the clones spying on the pirate ships saw another shinobi come out of the lower decks of the ship that was in the lead position and when they sent the original Naruto an image he blinked once before he said "Ah hell, that's Kidd."

Kidd Eustace, former Hidden Cloud Jounnin. Call his name odd at your own peril, the man had a hair temper like you wouldn't believe and was one of the blood thirstiest missing nin to come out of the Land of Lightning, most famous for using a form of Magnet release to attract all of the iron in a person's blood and pull it out of their body. He had seemingly dropped off the map just under a year ago and Naruto wasn't sure whether it was a good thing that they now knew why or not.

Naruto immediately contacted Escort 1 and when he was informed Captain LeMay was listening sent "Sir, one of the pirates is a Jounin Missing Nin from Cloud with magnetic jutsu, any cannonballs sent his way will just be returned to sender."

"As if we haven't had enough trouble with that storm." LeMay grumbled before he continued "Be Honest Jounin Uzumaki, would your clones be able to keep him busy and remain in play when we're in cannon range?"

"Sir, give them fifteen seconds before you fire your first salvo and they'll remove him from the field completely." Naruto said grimly. The fox summons were going to be pissed, but thankfully not with him given that fur cape on his back was made out of about a dozen Land of Lightning mountain fox pelts.

There was silence for a few moments before Naruto heard "Your clone just explained your plan. And while normally I would prefer to capture someone who is most likely either the leader or a second in command of this group in an attempt to gain intel, given the threat level you have my approval. You'll have your fifteen seconds Jounnin Uzumaki. LeMay out."

With plan in mind, Naruto quickly nicked his thumb on one of his canines and performed the summoning jutsu. A small fox kit appeared on the floor of the crows nest and Naruto said "Message to Den Security. Hostile Jounnin Shinobi soon to be sent to Den Ambush Point Charlie by Shadow Clone, known for Magnet Release and other Lightning Jutsu. Advise use of Lethal Force as soon as he appears. Transport expected within the next half hour." Naruto pulled out a scrap of paper along with a jar of ink and used a quick jutsu to pull some of the ink out of the jar and onto the paper, the black changing color until a picture of Kidd was on it. Naruto handed the paper to the kit as he finished "Got all of that?"

The fox kit gave an affirmative yip before it grabbed the paper in its mouth then dispelled back to the Summon Realm. The moment the fox kit was gone, Naruto made another squadron of clones which all immediately cloaked under a genjutsu and shot up into the air and towards the lead pirate ship. Now they just had to wait for the ships to get in range of Adel Plains.

Time Skip: Twenty Five Minutes Later

The pirates were entering extreme canon range of the disguised cruiser. Captain LeMay gave it a few more moments then when the lead ship's bow chasers fired the 'standard' pirate greeting of a couple of shots about a hundred yards ahead of his ship nodded to Escort 1 and said "Their fifteen seconds start now."

Escort 1 nodded and almost immediately after two clones replaced themselves with a pair of cannonballs right next to Kidd that he was planning to lob at Adel Plains. Before he could react they had a hand each on his shoulders and vanished in a poof of smoke. As a bonus the two cannonballs fell back to the ship from high up into the air like they had been shot at a plunging fire angle, punching through a number of decks before hitting the hull and damaging it. The pirates rather quickly had more troubles than patching the damage on the lower deck though.

Scene Change: Fox Summons Den Ambush Point Charlie

There were twelve ambush points the foxes had made for when a Summoner needed someone overwhelmed with numbers. Some were just areas where a small group of foxes could quickly overwhelm them, some had traps that could be activated (including one section with knock out gas), but the seven most useful ones were the ones that had seals which emitted 'passive' fields of chakra of one of the five main elements and yin or yang chakra. Ambush Point Charlie emitted wind chakra.

As such, when Eustace Kidd appeared in the Fox Den and instinctively tried to blast the clones holding his shoulder with a lightning style jutsu, he was understandably confused when all he managed to give them were the equivalent of a large static shock. He folded over the fist the clone that held his right shoulder gave him for his troubles. As he did his best to recover, he heard a LOT of canine growling. Straightening up, he saw that he was surrounded by no less than two dozen foxes, all of them coming up to at least his waist height wise, with a couple of them reaching his shoulders.

"Well Shit." Eustace muttered to himself before he was rushed from all sides and had to fend off a whole lot of wind coated teeth and claws, including from the shadow clones whose finger nails had turned into claws with just a touch of Kurama's chakra.

Scene Change: Back At Sea

"Kidd has been removed from the field." Escort 1 said not five seconds after LeMay told the clones to start.

LeMay blinked once at that in minor surprise but immediately focused on other things as he said "Alright, let's let them get closer before we show we've got our own teeth. Point defense clones, keep any fire from hitting us but make it look like misses if you can. Helm, turn us to port, make it look like we're going to try to run, slowly though, let's make them think we're running heavy."

"Yes sir." Escort 1 and Helm said together, the clone sending the order to the clones stationed around the Adel Plain's railings that he had unsealed once the scout clones had discovered the enemy vessels.

The pair of pirate ships continued firing shots, getting the range in two more volleys but believing otherwise as the point defense clones used wind manipulation to make the cannonballs either fall short or overshoot by either the slimmest of margins or several yards for five additional volleys before LeMay judged the sprinting pirates to be close enough that they wouldn't be able to escape their cannons in a timely manner.

Grinning sharply, he ordered "All cannons with line of sight, open fire!"

Adel Plain's guns gave a sharp retort. Most were splashes but a couple of cannonballs slammed into each ship. It must have been quite a shock for the cannonballs to appear out of seemingly thin air given Adel Plain's illusion of an unarmed cargo ship was still up and running. And unlike the pirates, when the next volley was fired shortly after, none of the shots missed now that the gunners had the range. Masts splintered and cries of pain rang out as shrapnel flew. One of the masts was damaged enough it began falling over to the port, slamming into the ocean and dragging the ship in that direction. Pity it hadn't fallen starboard, the two pirate ships might have at least clipped each other, if not been t boned.

A moment after the second volley a shrieking ball of death shot down from above the ship with all of its masts still standing and impacted with the stern before rapidly expanding. When the jutsu faded away there was a gaping hole in the back of the ship that ended a mere yard above the water line. A minor wind dragon shot down next and a moment later Escort 1 reported "Enemy rudder disabled."

"Yeah, no kidding." The navigator muttered. LeMay merely nodded as his ship fired a third volley. Even as he heard the cannons fire he could see bolts of lightning lance up from the two pirate ships, the Missing Nin aboard finally getting over their surprise from the loss of Kidd right under their noses and the counter attack and sending out their own long range jutsu upwards in an attempt to hit their invisible attackers. LeMay winced when the clones retaliated with a set of twelve howling twisters which slammed into the ships, supposedly where the enemy shinobi had been.

"There's not going to be anything left for us by the time we're close enough to board, of the ships or their crew." LeMay's first mate muttered and LeMay privately agreed even as he turned to Escort 1 and asked "Anyone trying to jump ship and cross over towards us?" There WERE Shinobi aboard those two ships after all.

A moment later, Escort 1 shook his head and said "If they are, they're under their own cloaking jutsu, one moment."

One of the clones aboard Adel Plains took a mighty leap off the railing, landing on the waves a good hundred yards from the ship. He took two more hops then used all of his remaining chakra in a massive chakra pulse which ended a mere foot from the Adel Plains and so just barely avoided disrupting their disguise illusion. A few moments later, Escort 1 reported "Doesn't look like there are any Captain."

LeMay nodded at that only to twitch when immediately after his ship's fourth volley the starboard pirate vessel's bow exploded. The rest of the bridge crew flinched at the unexpected event and the gun director nodded in satisfaction as he said "Looks like one of our gunners managed to hit a powder room."

Flames licked at the ruined bow only to be washed away by a surge from the ocean and Escort 1 noted "Looks like there's at least one shinobi left alive aboard." A rather large wind dragon shot down from the sky and slammed into the ship. A moment later, Escort 1 said "Well, that one isn't anymore."

LeMay gave a grunt of agreement. Wind jutsu continued to shoot down from the sky and Adel Plains got off a fifth volley before he ordered "All cannons cease fire, over watch shinobi hold fire. I'm dropping the illusion, let's see if the survivors have had enough yet."

LeMay tapped a specific point on the control seal by his chair and to those looking from the outside the cargo ship they were seeing shimmered before revealing the proud LFNS Cruiser. LeMay then picked up a mic by his seat and flicked a switch which hooked him up to a loud speaker and he calmly stated "This is Captain LeMay of the Land of Fire Naval Ship Adel Plains. Pirate vessels, I'm giving you this one chance to surrender before we resume firing. And if our cannonballs don't kill you then our crossbows and swords will once my men board. You have thirty seconds to comply." Putting the mic away, he ordered "Helm, start bringing us closer, quarter speed, turn to cross their ts a hundred yards out."

"Aye Captain." The helmsman said and the ship quickly turned and began powering through the water towards the wrecked vessels.

Time Skip: Twenty Minutes Later

Heza slipped into the royal family's room and said "All surviving pirates have been placed in prisoner scrolls and their cargo stored in storage scrolls. The two vessels have also been stored but they're hardly fit to do more than float right now so they'll likely be scrapped once Adel Plains' intelligence officer has had a chance to pick through them for anything interesting. Adel Plains herself is currently making for the archipelago to secure everything they left at their base that one of Naruto's airborne clones discovered."

Sarutobi nodded while Prince Michiru gave a relieved sigh and said "Relay my gratitude to Captain LeMay and his crew for dealing with the threat so handily if you'd please Chunnin Tano."

Heza nodded and said "It shall be done Your Highness."

"Tell the captain to put us ten miles off of the archipelago, we'll wait for the Navy to complete their work then continue on." Sarutobi ordered and Heza gave another nod before she slipped out of the room to relay the order.

END

Author's Note: This chapter kicked my ass trying to write it. Between my trip to my brother in California, then Hawaii, then back to California, and just pure 'it's not coming to me' this chapter just did not want to be written. I'm not sure I'll be able to have the branch stories ready by the end of November. Fortunately, I was able to work on a few other projects on my phone in between breaks at work, and I've got a chapter of Shockingly Healthy written and three chapters for a Different Stockpile that I'll be posting as well to make up for it.