Codename: Shadowfox - Chapter XXVII
"Evening boys, Lady Tsunade mentioned I had clearance to see the prisoners so I've come to check up on them." Naruto said while in his ANBU disguise.
The two ANBU at the door snapped to attention and saluted their superior "Of course Shadowfox-taicho, please knock on the door when you're ready to leave."
"Will do." Stepping through the steel door that the other ANBU opened for him he walked down the darkened hallway while putting his mask away in a small containment seal meant for that very reason.
Reaching the last cell he smiled in amusement. The first thing he noticed was Gaara sleeping on his bed, curled in on himself like a normal non-mass murdering child would do. "Yo."
Temari turned towards the door from the spot on her own bed "Hey, you're that guy!"
Naruto smirked "Normally I hate being 'That' guy, but in this case yes, yes I am. Though I usually go by Naruto."
The Anbu captain simply game her a disarming smile and took out a small note. "Turns out you've made bail. Your village negotiated your release and I'll be taking you home tomorrow. This came in from your sensei along with their agreement for surrender." He said while handing Temari the note.
"What's it say, sis?" Kankuro asked from his corner of the cell.
"Baki-sensei says that the council is in the process of finding a new Kazekage along with surrender a large sum of money to Konoha and and prosthetic techniques. We've also entered a non-aggression pact with Konoha." Temari told her brother, guessing that the ANBU already knew anyway.
"So we kinda just got the shaft throughout all of this?" Kankuro murmured grimly.
"You sound disappointed make-up boy, I would have guessed you to be all for 'getting the shaft'." Naruto couldn't help but poke at the wound a little, they were traitors after all, and now they were only just above a minor village in terms of military strength and economy. In Naruto's eyes they got what they deserved.
Temari frowned but wisely disallowed her temper to get the best of her, while also stopping her brother from doing the same. "So we are being release tomorrow right?"
"Well... you are, and dolly over there too. Gaara on the other hand-"
"What are you going to do to Gaara!?" She demanded only to receive an eye smile in response.
"Gaara holds something of great importance and quite frankly the Hokage believes that her grandfather was foolish for giving it away." Oh how he loved being dramatic.
"I can't?" Naruto opened his eyes from his smile and narrowed them into a glare "I don't think you understand the position either you or your village is in... little girl."
"But... but... won't that kill him?"
"No." Naruto drank up her shocked expression like a thirsty man in a desert. "I believe I should formally introduce myself. I am Naruto Uzumaki, seal master and heir to the whirling tides."
He continued on, not allowing her to interrupt him "You see the sealing of a Bijuu inside of a Jinchuuriki actually predates the founding of the villages, deep beneath the ruins of Uzushiogakure I found an ancient sealed tomb that depicted the sealing of demonic entities inside of human hosts as well as bijuu themselves. Through studying and deciphering the ancient language of my people I was able to learn their sealing and un-sealing rituals."
"Suffice it to say the rituals take time and energy to perform but I strongly believe that I will be able to remove the Ichibi safely from your brother. I can't say the same for the sacrifices though, they'll likely die a horribly painful death." Naruto ended his little tale with a kind smile that highly disturbed the two siblings. "Of course the sacrifices have to be blood related though."
"Y-You're joking right?" Kankuro croaked out while his sister had turned pale and couldn't seem to find her tongue.
Naruto's just kept the smile up and after a few tense moment he couldn't hold it in any longer and started cracking up "Oh god, the look on your faces though! Priceless! Oh... oh sweet Kami, I haven't laughed like that in at least a week, thank you."
"Wh-What?" Temari stammered out, entirely confused and more than a little scared.
Naruto continued chuckling slightly as he gave them a roguish grin "I'm just messing with you. Jiraiya and I will be escorting you three to Suna safe and sound, I just couldn't resist messing with your already frayed nerves."
"Dude... that's so not cool." Kankuro breathed out in relief.
Naruto grinned again "Yeah, I'm kind of a jacked-up up person like that!" Temari decided to lay down on her bed and ignore the psychopath in front of her, fearing that he may just give her a heart attack for the laughs if she paid him any more attention to him.
It wasn't too long after that, that he explained how they would go about their return to Suna and at what time he would come around to pick them up.
Itachi's eyes slowly awakened as he groggily took in his surroundings. I must be in Konoha. He attempted to sit up, pushing past the pain in his chest. Suddenly he grabbed his head while biting down on his tongue to keep in the scream that would have burst out. Images blurred through his mind once more - fire, ashes, shadows - and just as soon as it happened the pain went away. "So that is was he sees... that... is what they want to prevent..."
His eyes began to droop as fatigue began setting in but he forced himself to stand, only managing it for a moment before his knees gave in and he crumpled to the floor. Gritting his teeth he summoned all of his strength to crawl to the door. "I... have to... warn... them... uhh..." Slowly the Uchiha faded into unconsciousness once more where he wouldn't be found until morning.
Naruto's nose twitched in annoyance as the morning sun's rays hit him right in the eyes. "I swear to Kami almighty that one day I will destroy you." He grumbled as he sat up to get his morning routine over with. Having spent longer with the sand siblings than he had anticipated after Gaara had awoken it had already turned dark by the time he left the ANBU detainment center.
He only had enough time to rush to the Hyuuga compound and congratulate his girlfriend with a goodnight kiss before they both turned in for the night. He had vowed that he would make it up to her by seeing her off for her first mission as a chunnin.
Grabbing some disposable chopsticks and his ramen cup he was out the door and ready to start his day.
Team 8 plus Rock Lee exited the Hokage's office where she had just finished authorizing their mission. Lee grinned widely as Team Hinata exited the tower. "Thank you for considering me for this mission Hinata-san, I promise not to disappoint!"
Hinata smiled at him in a kind manner while sweat dropping "Thank you Lee-san, your enthusiasm is... most welcome."
'Most welcome' Kiba mouthed at Shino as they walked behind Lee and Hinata. Shino simply shrugged and mouthed back 'Just go with it.' "Ah- So, Lee you're on the same team with Hinata's cousin right?"
Lee smiled widely as he turned to acknowledge the question "Yes! I'm on Team Nine with Neji, Ten-ten and Gai-sensei!"
"So is that guy always a dick, or just most of the time?"
Lee's smile faltered for a moment as he released a sigh "Neji-san is simply... misguided, though recently he has tried to interact with us more and and seems to be making an effort to change his old ways."
Hinata nodded with a smile "Ever since the end of the chuunin exams Neji-niisan had been much kinder than before... like how he used to be."
Kiba laughed "Yeah, that's probably because you kicked the asshole out of him. If I ever had my ass handed to me that badly I'd probably have to rethink my whole life also."
Hinata blushed but gently admonished her friend "Be nice Kiba-kun."
"Nonetheless, I was impressed by what I heard Hinata-san, while it had its flaws like any technique it is undoubtedly powerful and incredibly deadly. It seems more of something to use as a hit-and-run tactic so as not to put yourself in unnecessary danger while sapping away at the opponent's chakra like I do with my kikaichu." Shino spoke for the first time since they left Tsunade's office.
The group was nearing the gates when Hinata spotted a mop of golden hair that made her smile radiantly and increase her pace only slightly. On the opposite side Naruto had also noticed them and began walking towards the group with a smile on his face.
"Good morning Naruto-kun." Hinata spoke first as they met up.
"Morning Hinata." He replied with a bright grin before turning towards the others "Good morning guys."
"Good morning Naruto-san."
"AH! I can see your flames of youth burning brightly today Naruto-sempai!"
Naruto sweat dropped slightly but let the matter drop "Right... anyway," turning back towards Hinata he hugged her and gave her a kiss on the cheek "Be careful out there Hina, I know its your first time leading a team but I know you'll do great."
Hinata blushed brightly but nodded with a smile "Thank you Naruto-kun."
"As for you guys I know you're all pretty strong too so don't sweat it too much...oh," His visage suddenly darkened and the three boys shivered "And if anything happens to my girlfriend then you three will have wished you never made it back." Then it suddenly brightened once more with a smile. "Good luck!"
Hinata giggled already knowing her boyfriend's quirky sense of humor. "Alright team, let's head out, we have a ship to catch."
"Wait Hinata-san, shouldn't we wait for your sensei? I'm sure he would like to send your team off for your first mission as a chuunin." Lee spoke up only for Naruto to cough into his hand.
"While I'm sure Shadowfox would have loved to do that, he and Jiraiya-sama left about an hour ago to return the sand siblings to Suna though he did ask me to wish Hinata and her team good luck on his behalf." Naruto smoothly lied and the older genin nodded with a smile.
Naruto smiled proudly as he watched the four walk down the main road. "Makes you feel old doesn't it?" Turning his head he noted that Jiraiya had jumped down beside him. "I remember seeing Minato off as he lead his teammates into his first mission as a chuunin during the war. Even in dangerous times like then the most you can do is believe in your students and hope they put everything you taught them to good use."
"I know they will." Naruto said confidently.
"You taught them well kid, I know they'll pull through." Jiraiya said as he placed a hand on his godson's shoulder.
Naruto grinned "Thanks you old lech, now let's go collect the sand siblings if they stay any longer in Konoha Temari may not want to leave the chance to have a cold shower everyday."
Seeing the man's face turn a deep red he could already guess what the man was thinking. With a laugh he walked off towards his apartment for a quick change before heading towards ANBU-HQ.
An hour later saw the sannin, anbu captain and three siblings standing in front the Konoha gates, having already checked-in with Tsunade. Shadowfox turned towards the siblings while Jiraiya checked them out with the gate guards "Any of you have a fear of heights?"
Raising his bald eyebrow at the odd question Gaara simply shook his head while his brother and sister did the same. "Good because we'll be flying to Suna, I'd rather not have to trudge through the desert... no offense of course."
"We're... flying there?" Temari asked confusedly as she hadn't actually seen his eagles before due to being in the recovery room of the arena.
"From what I heard he has a summoning contract with giant eagles." Kankuro supplied.
"That's correct, I'll summon us each an eagle and we should hopefully be there before midnight." Shadowfox added as Jiraiya walked back to the group.
"Alright we're all set, did you get the OK from the eagles?" Jiraiya asked.
"Yes the Steppe clan will lend us a flock for the trip as long as their members receive a proper feed upon arrival to Suna, considering we'll likely be staying there the night it should be fine then two more will bring us back the next day." Shadowfox answered to which Jiraiya nodded as they made for the gates.
"Alright, Summoning Jutsu!" As soon as Shadowfox's palm hit the ground five large eagles popped in. They had light brown coloring and easily stood at around seven-feet tall. These were Steppe eagles, native to desert climates and as migratory birds they were also used to long trips. "Alright everyone, hop on. Oh and and hold on to them too tightly, it annoys them."
As soon as everyone was on a bird they flock took off into the skies. Shadowfox and Jiraiya were already used to it, Kankuro looked slightly nauseous, Temari seemed to be trying to keep her eyes closed while Gaara almost looked like he was enjoying the ride.
The day passed quickly enough for Naruto as he kept himself busy by working on a seal he had been creating for a few weeks now. He glanced over to Jiraiya's bird and noticed the man was asleep as usual when they took long flights.
Turning to his other side, it looked like Kankuro passed out along with Temari though Gaara simply looked in peace as the wind blew past him. Well I guess you start enjoying the little things after been freed from the mad ravings of a psychotic bijuu.
Having another voice in your head constantly demanding you to kill would be rather draining after a while Naruto-sama.
Hmph. Even if he is one of the bijuu Shukaku is still the weakest, I'm glad you put that over sized rat in his place.
Naruto smiled hearing his own voices inside of his head. And how are the Kura twins today?
Never refer to me by that demeaning title again, Meatbag.
Oh calm down Kurama-nii! Don't be so serious all the time!
Shut up Kuragari, you're just as annoying as the fleshling.
Mou! Don't be so mean Nii-sama!
I'm going back to sleep, you two idiots keep it down.
Naruto chuckled as he thought that those two even bickered like siblings. Did you have some fun during the invasion Kura-chan?
Hai Naruto-sama! Kura-chan had loads of fun, she took over peoples minds and made them kill themselves!
I had a feeling you had a hand in that when Kakashi told me that the invaders in the arena started turning on each other.
It was nice to be out and about again Naruto-sama! You should let me do it again... please!
The anbu smiled inwardly at the childlike bijuu who was quite possibly as bloodthirsty as Shukaku We'll see Kura-chan.
SHUT UP ALREADY, TRYING TO SLEEP!
Naruto put them out of his mind as his thoughts drifted towards his girlfriend, they should only be a few hours out of Konoha since they were heading east to the Port town of Shinshin. With a sigh he knew it wasn't worth worrying over as they could all handle themselves, he had been placed in more dangerous positions alone when he was much younger anyway so he was certain they would be fine dealing with a simple bodyguard job during a race.
It was around mid-day the following afternoon when Team 8 plus Rock Lee boarded the ship heading to the Land of Tea's Degarashi port where they would meet their client Jirouchou. From what Hinata learned, it would be a two day sail down there but with Lee's apparent sea sickness, it might feel much longer than that.
Thankfully she was at least able to alleviate his sickness somewhat by using the same trick she had used on Kiba during their stay in the Forest of Death, but altering the flow of chakra in his brain she was somewhat able to trick Lee's brain into believing he was on dry land.
Akamaru also didn't seem to like being on the ship but as long as he was by Kiba's side the puppy was fine and Shino as always didn't seem to pay much mind to anything at all. So in her opinion the mission was going about as well as could be expected at the moment.
She could only hope that it would stay this way.
AN - Apologies for the long hiatus but to those that weren't aware, I was in a car accident a few months ago that wrecked my arm/hand and made typing borderline impossible for a while. While my hand has healed since then, getting it back in shape to type for extended periods of time has been slow going. I did want to get this chapter done as soon as possible however so you guys at least knew that I hadn't given up on my story. I know that not much happened this chapter but it was a necessary set up for chapter 28 which will mainly focus on the Tea Escort Arc and Hinata's experience as a team leader and a bit more insight into what happened to Itachi during his stay in the shadow lands. Anyway I hope you guys enjoyed it and if you did drop me a review even a simple 'I liked it' will do. Cheers!