Chapter 19: Anko Hates Boring

(Four Days Later)

"Keep moving, Pinky!" Anko barked out and earned herself a groan of protest from Sakura. The girl's progress was slow but steady. Not as great as her two teammates as the girl didn't exactly have the years of endurance and muscle memory they possessed. It would take some time but if she pushed herself and kept it up she'd most likely get some decent results by the time Team Eight left. Maybe not what Anko had wanted but the girl could still surprise her. Maybe.

Many often said that dedication and hard work would beat prodigious talent whenever performing a task. And it was a load of bullshit in Anko's mind. Hard work and dedication played an important factor in getting stronger, sure, but that didn't always mean you'd become stronger than a prodigy or stronger than others. The only times it did occur were when prodigies got bored and stopped pushing themselves to their limit. That was one of the many problems when you were standing at the very zenith of the ninja hierarchy of power and skill. One gained the mentality that there were no more challenges or boundaries that could be crossed any longer. They no longer had anyone to challenge them or push themselves further. They stopped training and let their otherwise impeccable skills become dull.


"Owww!" a sweaty Sakura nursed her soon-to-be bruised backside. Luckily the fall hadn't been too high, but the ground was by no means soft.

"You know the drill," Anko earned another groan of protest, but Sakura got back up nonetheless and started from square one once again. The pinkette had since learned that vocal complaints didn't fly with Anko and only made things worse.

Anko sighed as she overlooked Team Seven's training. It was evident that little by little they were making some progress each day. Though said progress was slow compared to her team.

"Then again, they don't have a teammate with an ability that speeds up the learning curve. But this is bullshit! I shouldn't be babysitting someone else's Genin," Anko was less than pleased with Hatake.

The man had explained that he had been trying to teach them team exercises and to get them to start thinking for themselves, as well as trying to curb their current mentality so they could work well together. The man had little progress in that regard and when asked about their lack of techniques he stated 'what good is learning techniques when they were prone to accidentally use them on each other?' Communication and trust were just as important for a ninja as combat skills. Anko had begrudgingly admitted the man had a decent point.

"Still didn't exempt the lazy ass for not teaching 'em anything else," other than team exercises the man had made his team do basic drills such as jogs, Taijutsu refinement, and a few other things. Not branching off from there was where everything went to shit. Learning the tree climbing exercise should have been taught during the first few weeks in Anko's mind. Regardless of their lack of cooperation, they should have been taught at least a single D or C-Rank technique and it would have been somewhat acceptable in her books.

The woman mentally put a large emphasis on 'somewhat'. Anko mostly had them do the chakra control exercise and then decided to relieve her boredom by throwing kunai at them. Many would explain their reasons for such actions, but not Anko. Though it was mostly to increase their ability to dodge and up their speed. While Sasuke and Kiba were much faster and had better reflexes than Sakura even they weren't exempt from the cuts and scraps.

The T&I specialist was seriously wondering if Kakashi lived up to his reputation in the Bingo Books. It also made her wonder what changed in the man. Years ago, she didn't hear the end of Yugao's bitching and moaning on how hard Kakashi pushed her, and the new Anbu recruits to the point many had quit or transferred. Anko didn't know why Kakashi's ethic as a trainer and instructor turned to shit. Maybe it was because he had trouble teaching Genin compared to Anbu but either way, she didn't like it. Anko wondered if it was emotional baggage that he carried over from his own Genin team days. She was no psychologist like Inoichi but she was decent at understanding certain individuals, Naruto was an example for one.

Shinobi had different ways to cope, some better than others. Asuma took up smoking, Kurenai developed a cold persona, Kakashi read smut and took on his dead teammate's traits, and Gai trained till he dropped. Kurenai and Gai's methods were some of the better ones, though Gai sometimes took it too far. Despite his surreal stamina and endurance, more than once she heard how he had to be rushed to the hospital for treatment. Though he usually recovered in record time and sometimes he was re-admitted just as quickly.

But regardless of this, Kakashi needed to get his ass in gear. Anko wasn't one to squeal, tattle, or rat to authority like a schoolyard pussy, but he had lives depending on him.

"Just like I have I do with my brats," the woman hadn't had the chance to really train or teach her team anything new now with their current situation. They were better prepared than the others, but Anko felt she needed to prepare them even more.

Progress for her team was slow at the moment. Anko had to hand it to the corrupt son of a bitch; Gato was smart in covering his ass. Then again, the man had lasted this long without others knowing. While Naruto, Ino, and Hinata found some bits and pieces here and there on the man, it wasn't enough. And she was worried for them.

"Great, I'm turning into a softy," her, Anko Mitarashi, the Snake Bitch of Konoha's T&I Unit was going soft! She'd have to see if hell froze over.


"Huh?" Anko was mildly surprised when she saw Kiba's prone form in the large ninken's mouth. Beside Hottomaru was Akamaru and the small white-furred pup could only look on helplessly, "What's going on?"


"… Yeah, I got none of that," Anko had a good relationship with Tsume but that didn't equate to her knowing how to speak canine. Some she understood but it wasn't that much.

"He said that Kiba-san tried to follow Naruto-san and participate in the mission rather than do, and I quote, 'Boring as hell chakra control shit', end quote," Midori translated. The snake summoner merely groaned, ordered the boy to be dropped, and then told Hotto go guard Tazuna on the bridge.

"What part of come back here after you're done helping Naruto didn't you understand?" she snarled and Kiba merely looked away. The action didn't sit well with the woman and Kiba was promptly backhanded by the purple-haired kunoichi.

Anko continued to glare at Kiba before commanding him to start his exercise. The kunoichi didn't have time for this crap and made a note to deal with his insubordination later. While her actions seemed harsh it was basically how the Inuzuka dealt with disobedient younglings. It helped them assert authority and showed them their place. It was a practice Anko had been taught by the boy's mother.

"Just for that stunt you can forget hunting for game anytime soon," Anko shouted and heard Kiba curse. But the woman didn't care. It was the boy's own fault for not listening really. Actions had consequences and Anko could not afford a Genin to endanger the whole team just because he was bored. She thought the problem was fixed when she sent him with Naruto, but now knew better.

Due to a food shortage in Nami, Anko had ordered Naruto and Kiba to hunt game and use them as leverage. It sounded cruel given the situation of the country's people, but it was lesser evil if they were to get rid of Gato. Plus, it was done to loosen some of the peoples' tongues and to gather more information. Nami was known for its natural resources, craftsmen, and fishermen. However, while hunting in the sea was one thing for them, hunting inland was another story..

Some could do it, but they only did it for themselves and their families. It was one of the reasons why Gato was able to take over so easily. The man had persuaded the people that his company and resources would assist Nami in becoming a much more profitable country. Being ignorant to his ways and hidden agenda the populace had fallen for it hook, line, and sinker. With the waters being monitored and few being allowed to fish many were forced to hunt in the woods with little success.

Naruto and Hottomaru were decent trackers, the latter more so due to natural instincts, so it was helping them gather more info. However, despite learning what was known as the Tracking Skill because he hunted game and followed Gato's men, Kiba was the better tracker. But better tracker or not the boy had much to learn it seemed, such as discipline. Kakashi wasn't lying when he told her his team had problems. Once again, she surmised the man was used to training Anbu level and personality type individuals instead of Genin.

"Those guys better be having better luck than I am," Anko hoped and prayed her team found something soon.

Despite how she acted off duty, Anko took missions seriously, with D-Rank being the obvious exception. But even then, she wanted this crap fest to end soon. Mostly it was because of the potential danger. Anko wasn't arrogant – okay, that was a lie, most of the time she wasn't arrogant would be better - and knew that the only reason why she got the upper hand on Zabuza was because he was caught off guard. The main reason Kakashi was so drained was because of his overuse of the Sharingan and being caught in the Suiro no Jutsu (Water Prison Technique). According to Naruto's Gamer ability, it allowed masters of the technique to drain a person's chakra and add it to their own.

In a straight fight, she'd probably last five, maybe ten minutes against the Zabuza if she didn't include Midori. With Midori, she'd have a greater chance but her large size made her an easier target and the sword he wielded was capable of cutting her. Despite the serpent's tough hide, she wasn't impenetrable. A summon's large and intimidating size was just as much a weakness as it was a strength. Though even the smaller and less powerful ones had their uses. One of them she had used to deliver a message to Konoha and inform the Hokage. Though not as quick as Midori the serpent would most likely get there within a day or two depending on the situation. Though it was a long shot the woman hoped they'd get back up. Anko had no doubt that the mission could take a turn for the worse.


"Thank you. By Kami-sama, thank you," a woman who was now nearing on the verge of tears expressed her gratitude to the young man before her. The meat from the boar would be enough to feed the stomachs of herself and her children for quite a few days. "I don't know how to repay you."

"I don't need money, but information will do," he told her.

"Information?" it was evident by the look on her face that she was honestly not expecting that, "What kind of information?"

"Information on Gato," he elaborated and the woman froze somewhat. Naruto wasn't beating around the bush at the moment. Getting the info they needed was slow as hell. Unfortunately, many were very reluctant to share any information on Gato for fear of retaliation should it be led back to whoever talked about him.

"I'm sorry but-"

"Please… anything you can tell me to help make this country better again," he said.

The woman merely chuckled mirthlessly. Tears that held back were now freely falling from her face, "You sound like my… like my husband did."

"Ah, shit," it didn't take a genius to realize her husband was obviously dead, "Look I'm sorry I'll just - "

"No, it's fine…. You're one of the ninjas helping Tazuna, right?" the question wasn't an accusation but Naruto prepared himself should he be forced to take drastic measures. Loathed, as he wanted to it.

"My husband was helping Tazuna build his bridge but Gato's men," here the tears threatened to pour once more before she willed herself to stop crying as best she could, "Nami's been my home all my life. I don't know if my family and I can make it anywhere else, so anything to help us get rid of Gato I'll help."

"Final-fucking-ly!" Naruto mentally cheered as she went back inside.

Naruto had been getting nowhere in the last few days. Gato literally had the country's populace by the proverbial balls, and no one was willing to talk about him. When the door opened up several minutes later, she ushered him a little closer, the woman grabbed his hand and then shouted, "I don't have anything to spare! Leave!" and slammed the door in his face.

"… Son of a bitch!" Naruto shouted and noticed the action drew the attention of nearby pedestrians, "What the hell are you staring at!?"

The sudden shout made the onlookers walk away from him even faster, even more so when Naruto began to walk down the streets. Anger was evident on his disguised face. In Nami an angry individual was the last person someone wanted to mess around with. It didn't end well if they did.

For a good five minutes, Naruto wandered around before he found himself in a more secluded area of Nami. Ducking into one of the alleyways, Naruto took out the piece of paper he was given, "Gotta give her props, she's a damn good actress."


Before Gato came to Nami my husband was a fisherman by trade. When Gato took over he was out of a job and helped Tazuna as best he could. He and a few fishermen continued to secretly gather food from the ocean as best they could to support the workers. However, one day he simply disappeared and in these times it's never a good sign.

Ever since he arrived Gato's been limiting the amount of people allowed to fish in the ocean to support Nami. In the center of Nami there's a cave that goes deep underground to a large lake that connects several ocean currents and various fish and sea life. Every few times a year a massive amount of various species of fish gathers here for a month or so before returning to the ocean. Unfortunately, Gato has since then blown up the entrance to the cave and has it guarded by his men to prevent us from digging it out.

"Oh, for the love of Kami please tell me this has a point," Naruto felt like crap however when noticed a few stains on the paper. The woman had been crying while she was writing this. Judging from what the letter implied, he'd bet his last ryo that Gato or one of his cronies had a hand in the husband's demise. But sad as that was, and while Naruto didn't want to sound ungrateful, he did have a job to do.

My husband spoke of another entrance, one long since abandoned. The founders of Nami blocked it off centuries ago. I never found out why or where the entrance was. Few did apparently. But if anyone would know it would be the one calling herself Asagao. I don't know if that's her name but she's very well informed and possibly your best hope at finding where the entrance is.

Good luck.

Here the letter ended, and Naruto silently cursed, "Great. Now I have to find someone who only shows up when they want to."

Even with his Detection Skill: Detect Presence Asagao somehow managed to pop up without him knowing at times. One time he sensed her coming around a corner and the next he found her popping up behind him. This meant that she was either a shinobi or someone with shinobi training and extremely skilled at stealth and suppressing her presence. Naruto had previously used Observe on the woman, but all he got was a message saying a skill was preventing him from gleaming any information he'd normally acquire. The skill would have to be quite powerful if Observe was unusable on her. But it confirmed she was more than she appeared to be.

"Hey, handsome," a voice behind him called out and Naruto had to force himself from yelling out.

"Speak of the Devil and she will appear," Naruto thought but it also confirmed his suspicions. The woman before him was obviously no ordinary civilian, "But is she an ally or the opposite?"

Anko had been strict when it came to trusting unknowns. With third parties one never knew if they were actually on your side, merely looking for an opportunity to stab you in the back, or merely looking out for themselves and setting obstacles against other obstacles.

"You alright?" Asagao asked him.

"Huh? Oh, I'm fine," Naruto told her and became surprised when she put her hand to his head, "Uh, huh?"

"No fever, that's good," Asagao nodded in relief. "So, what can I do for you?"

"What makes you think I was looking for you?" he asked calmly but his heart was beating a mile a minute.

"Well, this is the same spot we met the first time. Remember?" she indicated, making Naruto blink as he looked around.

"Oh," the woman spoke truthfully; Naruto recognized certain qualities from the last time he was here. The Gamer honestly wondered how he managed to come back here in the first place.

"You space out a lot, don't you?" her question made Naruto sputter and caused her to chuckle, "It's fine. We've all got our weird quirks, handsome."

"Right, quirks," he spoke before he got to business, "I was told you could help me with something."

"It's two thousand ryo every half hour," she said, and Naruto imitated his teammate by becoming bright scarlet at what she was implying, "For an additional thousand can you do my ass. If you wanna blow inside it's-"

"NO! No, no, no, no! Not I wanted to ask!" he yelled and tried to get the image out of his mind. He failed.

"Ha ha ha ha," Asagao laughed at his flustered look, "Oh, that was too easy. Relax, handsome, I know you're not the type for that sort of thing," she smirked.

"Then why-"

"I needed a good laugh. It hasn't been that great these last few days and I needed a picker-upper," she laughed at his comical and disbelieving look, "But seriously, what can I do for you? You looking for information?"

Focusing, despite the befuddlement that still lingered in his thoughts, Naruto asked her, "What can you tell about this cave the fishermen used?"

The woman cocked an eyebrow, clearly not expecting such a request, "That's a first. Not that I don't know what you're talking about but why do you wanna know about it?"

"Personal reasons," he said.

"Sorry, Handsome, but that's not gonna cut it for me," she frowned, and her eyebrows creased, "No talk, I walk."

"Shit," the disguised blond cursed and tried to come up with another tactic, but as the woman looked ready to make herself scarce, he blurted out, "I wanna help the people of Nami."

So much for keeping a low profile. Anko was gonna kill him. Slowly.

"See, now was that so hard?" she quipped, "Ok, I'll tell you, but I want something in return. Nothing too bad or difficult," she quickly added.

She said, 'nothing too bad or difficult', which meant it was still bad and may not be as easy to accomplish, "Not like I have a choice. What is it?"

Here she smiled but unlike before Naruto briefly had the impression he was gazing into the eyes of a predator before the look in her eye vanished just as quickly. Any small doubt that she was no more than ordinary completely vanished by now. Whether she was a ninja or just happened to know a very useful skill like his own was yet to be determined. But it was evident she was powerful or influential, or both. Naruto simply couldn't just take her in for questioning. For one it would draw too much attention to himself and if she was in fact a ninja there was also no guarantee he could beat her.

"Simple, I want you to make sure Nami's food shortage comes to an end," she smiled.

"…Huh?" of all the requests she'd ask Naruto did not see that one coming, "Eh, ok, no problem. But why do you care about Nami?"

"I don't care much for Nami, really. But I have a soft spot for kids, and I can't stand seeing starving children. Call it a weakness. Plus, a well-fed populace makes better soldiers if you're trying to get them to reveal information on Gato," she smiled knowingly at Naruto's stunned look, "Yeah, you're not that subtle, and you're lucky most of Gato's grunts are idiots. And unlike you, I know how to make the people of Nami talk, Handsome."

"How long have you known?" Naruto knew there was no point in hiding who he was any longer.

"The moment I saw you I knew you were more than what you posed to be, shinobi-san. Unlike your ordinary dimwitted call girl, I've dealt with enough of your kind to recognize you from a mile away. But most importantly, while you might be able to fool those where you're from, your acting skills sucks on someone who's played the game longer than you have. But I digress. My offer still stands; you help feed the masses and I tell you which base Gato's hiding in."

"And how the hell do you know where he is? It's obvious you're more than who you appear to be. Why don't you do something about Gato?" Naruto wondered.

"You're making the assumption I can. I can do many things but fighting an army of ruthless thugs by myself isn't one of them. You need me to gather information or seduce someone then I'm your woman. Fighting one or two of Gato's thugs I may be able to handle. Ask me to fight his army and the ninja he hired and you might as well ask a rock not to sink to the bottom of the ocean. I came here to live a peaceful life, but that plan was shot to hell when Gato set his eyes on Nami. That bastard is greedy too and once he's sucked this place dry, he'll move on and set his sight somewhere else. I've been around his types before and it's not that hard to figure out. Even if Nami is freed there are too many bad memories here for me. So, you need to get rid of him for me and make the people grow a backbone. Do that and I'll tell you where he's hiding, deal?"

Though apprehensive to trust this woman, Naruto knew he had no choice. They couldn't allow the mission to drag on for long. Zabuza had most likely recovered more than half of his strength. Though he didn't want to face the man he'd rather do it when he was weakened. It would be a tough fight for sure but at least his chance at survival was greater than if he was at full health.

"Fine," Naruto shook her hand but brought her in close, "But if you stab me in the back you'll regret it," was the harsh promise. If there was anything Naruto hated more it was traitors or backstabbers. He was a forgiving person but was reluctant and slow to forgive when it came to those types of individuals. Especially if they hurt his friends.

Asagao merely shook her head and looked shaken but otherwise, she gave the information he needed. With the information in hand, Naruto promptly left the alley he was in to get Ino. Not once noticing the once shaken-up woman now sporting a grin, her shaking gone, and she left the alley with a confident walk. Her plan was slowly coming to fruition.

(Sometime Later)

"Yo, Anko-sensei!" Naruto shouted out as he entered the clearing with his teammate, and Ino suppressed a groan.

"We're trying to keep a low profile you idiot!" the more things changed the more they stayed the same it would seem. Part of her wondered when Naruto would know when to use his inside voice. Then again, the same could be said about Anko at times.

Quick as a flash, Anko flickered before them with a pleading look in her eyes, "For the love of Kami-sama please tell me you found something good?"

"Hmmm, maybe," Naruto thought it the perfect chance for payback. The idea was just as quickly destroyed as Anko's face had an even more pleading look. "Sensei, you alright?"

"I'm so boooooreeeed," she bawled into his shirt and Naruto seriously had no idea what to do at the moment. She wailed some more, tears were now freely flowing from her eyes, "Please tell me you got something! Please!"

"Alright, alright, we found out something that can potentially help with the food shortage," Naruto caved into her pleading. The boy couldn't stand crying women and comforted his crying teacher.

More like ex-crying teacher when he saw her grinning face.

"And that's another way to get a man a spill his guts. If seduction doesn't work pour on them tears. Men are suckers for that crap and it works seven times out of ten," the woman told the nodding Ino. The two kunoichi ignored the gapping male near them.

"… Ah, shit! No fair!" an angry Naruto shouted. The realization that he had just been had finally settled in. Naruto considered himself a good liar, he had pulled the same crap with his Oroike no Jutsu but didn't expect himself to have fallen to Anko's charade so quickly.

Anko merely scoffed, "What did I say about fair?"

Naruto was about to retort but was torn between wanting to curse and admitting that she had a point. In the end, all he did was huff and smack away Anko's hand as she ruffled his head.

"Ha! Can't believe you fell for that! Oldest trick in the book!" Naruto frowned as he heard Kiba laugh at his misfortune.

"Yeah, well I can't believe you haven't gotten this down yet! Took me six days to reach the top," it was true but even then the tree climbing exercise had not been mastered. Reaching the top was only part of it.

"Six days? Dude, it's only been five days and I'm already over three-quarters up! What does that tell ya?"

"That these trees are small compared to Konoha's," Naruto's response immediately got Kiba to shut up. Even then he could hear light grumbling coming from the feral boy. Everyone in the clearing had to admit that Konoha's mighty trees dwarfed Nami's. The size comparison between the two was like that of a tree to a flower. No contest.

"So, you plan on getting in and using the fish to get her to talk?" while Naruto's and Kiba's hunting exploits were good and all, Nami didn't have that many land fauna compared to the other countries.

Hunting them down was easy but hunting too much wouldn't be good for Nami's ecosystem. Nami was small but still had a very large populace and relied mostly on the bounties the ocean brought them to feed themselves. The fauna in the woods wasn't that large apparently and if they hunted too many of the creatures they'd be almost defenseless against the predators that hunted their usual prey. Wolves and bears stayed away from humans mostly but when food became scarce they wouldn't think twice about attacking a human. With Nami having only civilian militia, and an ill prepared or practically non-existent one at the moment, they'd stand little chance.

"Our plan's to find the place and seal as many of the little suckers as possible. Asagao said that if we help feed Nami she'll in turn tell us where Gato is."

Anko looked impassive as she heard the woman's name and when asked to elaborate what they knew about her it served to add more questions. Whoever she was Anko didn't doubt she was much more than she appeared if her team's information was anything to go by. During the war, some of the worst enemies were civilians with some training in the shinobi arts. Unlike civilians, a shinobi could be recognized in many ways, such as by looking at their faces or hands. Even in a Henge one could sometimes be recognized simply by the way they moved.

People who had the bare minimum training as ninja, especially natural-born actors, could appear and act like as regular civilians. Around such individuals, some shinobi let their guard down. Only for them to be struck down or wounded before it was too late to act.

This Asagao character gave Anko the same impression and she was weary. The fact that Naruto's Observe didn't work on her only increased her worry. Was the woman a civilian trained in the shinobi way? Was she someone under Gato's employ? Or was she part of a third party? There were too many questions and no answers to any of them for Anko's liking.

So far she hadn't shown any negative or hostile intentions but even then that meant nothing. History showed time and time again how others were forced to prove their worth to gain another's trust. Even when they succeeded in proving themselves some still ended up stabbed in the back both literally and figuratively. An ally today could be an enemy tomorrow.

Luckily through bed rest and healing sessions from Hinata and the poultices from Ino's Clan, Kakashi would be well enough to watch over his team alone by tomorrow. Technically speaking he could do it now but Anko was willing to grin and bear it for one last day if it meant him healing more quickly. Part of her wished they could have had the man benefit from Naruto's ability but the fewer people who knew about the ability, the better.

"So where is this place?" she asked.

"Near the west-most part of Nami, near the ocean, I think," Naruto informed her. "Asagao says it used to be the original entrance until pirates began to use it as a base. Long story short, the pirates tried to take over Nami but the entrance and exit were caved in by Nami no Kuni's ancestors and they were trapped inside."

"Cut off? Then how the hell do you expect to get in and out?"

"Yeah, that's the problem. The entrance on land is too caved in to use and would draw too much attention if it were suddenly fixed. Apparently, there's a series of tunnels and waterways beneath the entrance. But it's more or less a one-way trip with the current."

"So getting in isn't the problem, it's getting out," Anko wasn't liking this but they didn't really have a choice in the matter.

"Bingo. Though Naruto thinks it might not be so bad," Ino added her two cents.


"I've got a hunch that this cave is gonna end up being the natural dungeon of Nami. If it's the case then making our way out probably won't be a problem. The only problem though is the time it will take us to conquer the dungeon. Asagao said the other reason why the loss of the original entrance wasn't that big a deal was because it took them a day and a half to get to the underground lake cave. Takes 'em even longer to get out when they had to haul the spoils. That's why the other entrance was made. Cuts the time to get there by half a day."

"That deep huh?"

"Yeah, lucky us. Even with my ability to manipulate the time in dungeons, it's probably gonna take us a while," and with the skill's current level, even with the recent update, Naruto could only cut the time that passed in natural dungeons by half, "Apparently there are a shit ton of tunnels down there. I've got Shadow Clones but it'll take us some time to find the place. It's your call but this is a step getting the mission over more quickly."

Even as he said this Naruto was hoping she'd let them go. The boy had been bored these last few days. Hunting was good and all but Naruto was itching for some dungeon crawling.

Anko couldn't argue with that. As time went on, the stronger Zabuza would become and possible reinforcements would arrive. They got lucky the last time they dealt with him. Now the man would be better prepared and know what to expect from them. On the plus side, the dungeon may get them to level up a bit and give her team a slightly better advantage.

"Alright, once guard duties are over you two and Hinata are to rest up before leaving tonight to find this place. Midori will help. In her large form ocean currents aren't that much of a deal for her. She'll get you there but afterwards, you guys are on your own. Hotto's gonna stay behind. I'm gonna be looking after the old man and with you gone I'm gonna need Hotto and Midori to watch over the old man's daughter and grandkid," though it was Kakashi's duty to do so the man was also in charge of watching over his team. She didn't doubt he knew Shadow Clones but as he was still on the mend she didn't wanna risk a relapse in his recovery.

"Wait, how's Midori gonna help us get there?" Ino immediately regretted asking the question the moment she saw her teacher's shit-eating grin. "Oh, crap."

The blonde would later regret asking those words.

(Sometime Later)

"We … are never, ever! … doing that again!" a fuming and slime-covered Ino shouted and huffed for air. The blonde girl spat out some of the slippery substance that entered her mouth. A look of pure disgust on her face as she attempted to rid herself of the filth.

"Yeah, I like to consider myself open-minded but that was bullshit! All I wanna do is take a bath and drink shots till I forget this ever happened," the blond had only tried alcohol once at the bar with Anko months ago but despite the burn that was better than whatever was currently in his mouth.

Naruto was seriously gonna get back at the woman for this. Promise to not prank her be damned. There was a fine line and Anko had crossed it too many damn times. Being swallowed whole by a snake and then barfed out was an experience all three could have done without. "You all right, Hinata?"


"Hinata? Hello?" Ino asked.

"Please don't say anything, Ino-san," the Hyuga said and Ino slowly backed away.

"I think she's pissed. Is she pissed?" Naruto asked his fellow blonde.

"I'm guessing. So that's what an angry Hinata looks like," Ino whispered and shuddered lightly as the usually meek and amicable girl sent her an impassive but angry look.

"Oh, yeah, she's definitely pissed," even though her face didn't look angry Ino could tell the Hyuga was not pleased at the moment.

Before they entered the dungeon both ninja and kunoichi washed themselves off to rid themselves of the smell and sticky substance that covered their bodies. Though none of them spoke, all three mentally agreed that what transpired was never going to be told to anyone.


Once they were ready and well prepared, checking their inventory and making sure everything was in tip-top shape, the three ninja made their way towards the dungeon entrance.

|Congratulations! You are the first to discover the Lost Underground Lake Dungeon of Nami no Kuni in 500 years! |

|As a result, your Perks and Titles will be increased by one level for the duration of the dungeon, or until you die!|

|Recommended Level: 20-30|

|Upon entering you will be given the perk, [Blessings of the Water God]!|

|Warning! Nighttime Effect in Play!|

"Oh, thank Kami for small mercies," Naruto had his suspicions but the text box pretty much proved it for him. They were most likely gonna need to swim and fight submerged at times. Anko had never taught them the basics as she was herself had no such experience and wouldn't know where to begin. It rarely occurred in the first place as ninja more or less fought on land or on top of water, not in it. She had informed them that Kiri and Ame ninja were known for water-based combat and Suiton techniques. Some of them were used to drown or submerge their opponents to hamper their techniques and prowess.

Anko explained that while Tobirama Senju of Konoha had no rival in Suiton ninjutsu, Hattori Hanzo of Ame came pretty damn close, and he was unrivalled in underwater combat with the Senju being long dead. Teaching the ninja of his village to have that same advantage was a no-brainer if faced against others. Though even with them being slightly prepared and having the skills it was not going to be easy.

"What's up with the Nighttime thing?" a curious Ino asked.

"Basically the monsters are gonna be stronger. In video games, only certain monsters are out at night. They also offer a better challenge since you can't exactly see as well either. But as a result their attributes and perks are enhanced, too. Shouldn't be too bad though," Naruto explained. Except for Naruto, none of them had ever done missions or dungeon training at night before.

"So, it's kinda like how certain predators only do their hunting at night," Ino assessed. Much of the dungeons mechanics she noticed revolved or were somewhat based on real-life occurrences and happenstances. This Nighttime Effect reminded Ino of such a thing.

"Good thing we have Hinata then. Her Byakugan will make seeing in the dark easier, right?"

"Um, well, just by a bit," the stuttering began, "The Byakugan offers better visibility in darkened areas but in caves, I'm afraid my range is limited. I can see through certain things, but…"

"But if it's too damn thick you can't," Ino groaned when Hinata nodded.

"Meh, Anko-sensei keeps telling us not to put all our eggs in one basket anyway," Naruto shrugged and Ino couldn't dispute that. It didn't mean she liked it but Ino knew it could be worse.

"Ano, Naruto-kun, what are we expecting in there?" Hinata asked her teammate. Ino also appeared just as curious as her kunoichi in arms.

"No idea. But if have to guess this is a cave and near the ocean, it's probably gonna be some water monsters or something water-related. Maybe some undead too if the pirates were trapped in here. Good thing you guys know some lightning techniques," neither kunoichi had to ask. It was common sense - and it didn't take a genius - that water creatures were weak to electricity. However, it also meant that Naruto's Katon ninjutsu and Ino's Suiton ninjutsu wouldn't be as effective. Though it was more so the former of the two.

"Alright, let's get this show on the road," Naruto declared before their vision was blinded by a flash of bright light. As the brilliance that momentarily stole their vision disappeared, Team Eight was immediately greeted with a sight few could ever claim to have seen.

The cave was lit up with a green and ocean-blue glow. The cave had a series of tunnels and ponds of bright or darkened water. On the walls was a multitude of glowing coral and bioluminescent lichen or moss, most likely the source of the light in the cave. All in all, it was a scene that took their breath away and none of them doubted they'd see ever see anything quite like it again.

"Whoa," was all an awed Ino could say.

"Yeah, whoa," Naruto had to agree while Hinata remained speechless. "Not that this isn't great and all but time's a wasting."

Though Ino and Hinata would have liked to have stayed longer both knew that Naruto was right. While his ability to slow down time was great, Ino knew it would take them quite some time to get to their destination. None of them knew which tunnel led to their goal.

But first, Naruto used the Rare item he acquired from the Auction House.

|You have used the [XP Multiplier - Bronze Rank] item!|

|For the next 24 hours any EXP you earn will be increased by an additional 50%!|

Naruto grinned. It was hardcore grinding time!


Gato released a content smile as he went over the ledgers, both official and off-record. His legitimate business was making him a great sum of money. If he read it correctly, and he was pretty certain he did, he'd have a thirteen to nineteen percent increase in revenue from the last quarter if business continued as it was.

His other business, while not making as much, was making him a great deal of profit. The only difference between them was the lack of tax being taken off and reducing the amount he should be earning. Well, that and the illegality of human and drug trafficking of it all. It was one of the reasons why he got into this business. Growing up on the streets, Gato had nothing to his name except his wit and intelligence.

Many, ninja and civilian alike, didn't even bother to give him a sideways glance or even attempt to help him. It had been by pure chance that someone had seen worth in him. Took him in, taught him the trade, and how to put his smarts to profitable use. From him Gato had managed to go from a street urchin to a decent businessman, and later on a rich successful businessman. However, it hadn't been without consequences.

Gato had made many enemies over the years, powerful ones. The man had seen firsthand how if he stepped on the wrong toes it could be the end of him and all that he had worked hard to build. That was the last thing he needed. And from that point, Gato could only trust those who were in his complete control. Zabuza and his band of merry men weren't in his control. They were a liability in his mind, and he needed to get rid of them quickly.

The only problem was who to find to get rid of them? Zabuza was weak, now, but once he recovered he'd be difficult to deal with. Contrary to how easy it looked in the minds of others, finding powerful missing ninja to take on contracts wasn't all that easy actually. A and S-Rank ones especially, and they weren't cheap either.

"He'd better come through or else-"

"Gato-sama!?" he heard a voice over the intercom.

"What is it? I'm in the middle of something," the message while unspoken was clear as crystal: It had better be important.

"Y-you know those n-new recruits you as…asked for?" Gato was confused by messy stuttering, "th-the-they're dead, sir. One of th-them kill… killed them all," the man managed to finish.

"WHAT!" Gato roared in anger and made his way towards the door of his office. Whoever was responsible was going to pay for this. The short man would assure to that. But Gato never got the chance to do so as the doors to his office were suddenly and unexpectedly flung open with a large wham. Gato barely had time to drop to the ground as a lifeless body was sent flying over him and smacked against his desk. The desk didn't withstand the impact.

The corrupt business owner paled as he saw blood pouring out of the various wounds the man had. Or, at least, he was certain it was a man. The person could have been a woman for all he knew under all those bruises and swollen body parts.

"Hey, short stack, you Gato?" a voice called out.

His fear momentarily replaced with anger, Gato rounded one the individual but realized he only just met the man's waist. The man was a giant from his point of view. Though Gato wasn't exactly the tallest of men either. As he looked upon the man's face, Gato's fear returned greater than before. The grin the giant had before hid had Gato becoming even more unsettled.

"I heard you're offering a job that pays pretty well," here he bent over and looked the man straight in the eye, "Let's talk business."

(Minutes Later)

"Zabuza-sama, are you sure you're-"

"I'm good enough, Haku. If I stay in bed any longer I'm gonna lose it. Besides, I'd rather not give those tree huggers any more time to prepare," Zabuza would have preferred being at one hundred percent health but he couldn't risk the Konoha ninja finding out where they were. Both Gozu and Meizu were fully healed and would take care of the Genin while he and Haku separated them from their Jonin. The two had been told to fight smart and not fool around this time. They didn't so much as need to win the fight so much as they needed a couple of hostages to get the old man to hand himself over. Part of him believed it would work. The last time was to catch him off guard and the brat wasn't actually in harm's way.

"But you're not in fighting shape!"

"Relax, all we're doing is grabbing one of their brats. You said it yourself you haven't seen Hatake. I'd wager he's still resting too. All we need is one of them and the Snake Bitch ain't all that tou-"

"Ah, Zabuza, finally ready to do what I paid you for?" the short man's scowl was met by Zabuza's own.

"Don't get your panties in a knot, Gato. Give us a couple of days and the old man will be ours," Zabuza assured him, "Just make sure you have our money ready when it's done."

"Ah, yes, about that. Pardon me if I don't take your word to heart given your previous performance," the man's words made Zabuza scowl even further, "I don't need any more slip-ups. Which is why I took the liberty of hiring another to help you make sure the job gets done. This isn't up for debate."

"You little shit. That wasn't part of the deal!" Zabuza wasn't going to allow some other ninja to get in on the action. The last thing he needed was splitting the fee in half. The Resistance needed all the money they could get sooner than later, "Besides, I work better with those I know and trust."

"Good thing you know me then, Zabu," a voice called out.

All four shinobi looked to the door before a figure made himself become known from behind the small man. Zabuza, Meizu, and Gozu, for their parts, remained motionless as they saw the individual. Complete disbelief washed over them like a wave before it was replaced with utter worry. For a moment the three nuke nin believed their minds were playing tricks on them, part of them praying it was the case. But as a chuckle escaped the person's lips they knew it was futile.

"Still the carrying around that oversized meat cleaver, eh, Zabuza? Then again you always did need to overcompensate," the man's smirk revealed a set of nasty and pointy-looking teeth.

"Zabuza-sama, who's that?" Haku asked the stunned swordsman. The recovered swordsman couldn't properly make a phrase to answer his ward.

"Oh, Zabu, you didn't talk about me, I'm hurt," the man really wasn't and directed his attention to Haku, "Nice to meet ya, kid. Seeing as we're about to raise a little hell together it's only natural I introduce myself," here he released a dark and ominous chuckle that sent shivers down to the souls of everyone present.

And why wouldn't it?

"The name's Kisame. I'm the Monster of the Bloody Mist," also known as the Strongest of the Seven Swordsmen and an S-Rank missing ninja.

Not as much action in this chapter, sorry, but more to come! Also, I recently posted two new stories for those unaware. A Sailor Moon/Naruto called Moon Knight, and A Hazbin Hotel/Naruto story called A Stay of Execution. Please give 'em a read and don't forget to review my stories. It helps me know what people liked, and didn't like, and helps motivate me to continue!

Have a nice weekend!