Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 3 Chapter 5 ( Chapter 15 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 3 Notes: I had an anonymous flamer complain about, not the fic, but the SUMMARY -- obviously without having actually read the fic, first. While I don't think the point should have been made that way, he did have a point -- the summary I wrote for this fic sucks. Anyone who wants a go at rewriting it (remembering that there is a very strict limit to the number of letters you can put in the summary) without presenting any spoilers, be my guest. Also, to be honest, I wasn't entirely happy with the last chapter. For one thing, I expected most of the things that'll happen this chapter to have been in it... and I kinda feel as if I flubbed the Anko scene by rushing it a bit. The thing that bothered me the most about it, though, was that so much of it was... redundant. I feel like I'd driving certain things home with a sledgehammer long after the point has been driven six feet under the ground, lying where the dead horse is supposed to be. Most of the 'redundancies' I've written before were, well, I felt they were necessary, but... well, I dunno. No-one's called me on it, so far, so maybe it's just me. At any rate, hopefully, this chapter will end that since by the end of it I expect to have the mission started, which will get us away from those things which I think have been... well, overdone already, and I don't think I'll have to repeat 'what's been going on' to anyone for quite a while... although you'll have to bear with it through part of this chapter before (I hope) I'll be in position to not have to worry about it any more. About the 'neither niether' thing -- sorry, I'm dysgraphic and mildly dyslexic. I see zero difference between ie and ei... my word processor will fix it automatically (sometimes) for some words, but apparently not for 'neither-niether.' If that bugs you too much, sorry, but it's not really something I can help. Anyway, on with the story -- enjoy.
Chapter 5
The chef of the Ichiraku Ramen restaurant took a sip of his bonito broth, checking its flavor. The regular broth was always made to a precise proportion of water to bonito flakes, and so he rarely had to adjust anything to it, but this wasn't the regular broth. This was his special 'stout' broth, which would hopefully be integrated into a new recipe he was devising. He didn't usually have time to experiment like this, but it was a relatively slow day. He only had one customer at the moment, but he was a regular customer and already fed. Although usually, by now, he'd be wanting seconds. He checked over the counter, and was astonished to see Uzumaki Naruto, who casually ate ten bowls of his ramen in a single sitting on many occasions, didn't seem to be eating. Instead, he was just stirring the soup over and over again, staring off into space. This was his best customer... and his favorite, which in the restaurant business wasn't always the same thing. He'd missed the boy over the past three years, when he had been unable to come over first because of an extended visit to the hospital and then because of a very long training trip, but he still knew what the boy was like. He might have matured over the past three years or so, but he'd been back long enough for the chef to know that his eating habits hadn't changed a bit... and that what he was doing right now was entirely inconsistent with them.
"Hey, kid," he called. "What's wrong?"
Naruto pasted a fake smile on his face. "Oh, nothing." He started eating the ramen in front of him. "Good as usual!"
The ramen chef raised an eyebrow. "Uh huh. That's why you haven't touched it until the noodles started to congeal. Hand that bowl over, kid -- that one's no good. I'll give you a replacement... but I want you to tell me just what the hell is going on, okay?"
Reluctant to part with any ramen, no matter how bad, Naruto sadly handed the bowl full of now-cold noodles to the chef, who immediately dumped it and started putting together a fresh bowl. He was even more reluctant to talk about his problems -- since when did he ever do that? But, he supposed he owed the man a word or two -- after all, he was getting his ramen replaced for free.
"It's a lot of things," Naruto finally said. "Part of it has to do with Sakura-chan. I... I'm starting to let myself hope, again, that I've got a shot... and I know I shouldn't. I know she's going to be after Sasuke as soon as I bring him back to her, and I will do that -- I promised her I would. I love Sakura-chan, you know? So, going out on dates with her, holding her when she'll let me, sharing things with her... I enjoy all of them so much, I can't stop myself from doing them, asking for them, hoping for them. But I don't stand a chance, you know? After all... who's the bigger catch? Me, or Sasuke?"
The chef snorted. "You are. Anyone who does what you do for her is the bigger catch, by far."
"Oh, yeah?" Naruto said sardonically. "I don't buy it. In Sakura-chan's eyes, Sasuke is the biggest catch of all. I can never beat him in anything, and if I do I'm just bullying him. So... Sasuke is who she wants, I'll give her Sasuke. But I need to stop letting myself hope I've got a chance... do you understand?"
The fresh bowl of ramen was sat in front of him. "Yeah. I understand that you've underestimated both yourself and your girl," the old man said. "Look, kid, I know life has been pretty hard for you, but you've turned out pretty well despite it. Sakura-san will see that, if she hasn't already, and she's smart enough to know that you'd be a pretty good catch for her, too. That means she just might decide she likes you, after all. As far as Sasuke goes, well... keep in mind she's had a few years to mature, herself. By now, maybe she's learned that there's more to making a boy a good catch then a pretty face. Sasuke may no longer be what she wants... whether she's realized it or not, yet. Give her time, and I'm pretty sure she'll start to see you as someone who's just as worthy as her idealized image of him was, or maybe even someone better."
"Time," Naruto laughed bitterly. "I've already used up all my time. Haven't you heard? Sakura-chan and I -- and a bunch of others -- are going out as bait. He's expected to come to us, and we're supposed to capture him, then. Of course, this mysterious 'mission' that we're going on that'll let us be the bait is supposed to last for a whole year or more, so I suppose that's something."
"Four years," the chef sighed. "And it's taking several of my best customers with it, too."
Naruto's eyes widened. "Four? But... I wasn't told it would be that long!"
The old man shrugged. "For some people, it'll be a different length of time. At least, that's what I've heard -- but I think you'll be asked to stay for the full four, although maybe you'll only need to stay for the first year."
Naruto scratched his head. "Why is it everyone not going on this mission seems to know more about it then those of us who are?"
"Well, I just know what everyone's been telling me," the chef explained. "People trust this old ramen slinger, so I know everything that people are willing to talk about. That means that, if twenty people get only part of the story, I'll get all twenty parts."
"Well... I guess that makes sense," Naruto mused. "So what else do I not know about this mission?"
"It's in Wave Country. That's about the only other thing I know."
Naruto blinked. "Wave? Hey, I've been to Wave, before -- why are we going there? There isn't anything there, except the bridge. Is someone going after the bridge or something?"
"Not that I've heard," the old man mused. "But I suppose it's possible."
Naruto frowned. "Well, then... I've got to get ready to go." With that, he gulped down his ramen -- faster then he normally ate, even -- and stood up. "I've got a few friends over there that'll definitely need help."
"Don't forget to report to the hokage's office in an hour -- she's sent word for me to remind you of your punishment detail," he noted.
"Yeah, yeah. I need to talk to someone who'll be staying here, though," Naruto noted. "And then I have to stop by the bank... and, well, I've just got a lot of work to do, first. If you see her, tell her I'll be late."
"Naruto!" the chef called as the teenager darted down the street. Naruto ignored him, however. "It's not a good idea to be late when the hokage wants you, boy," he said to himself, chuckling slightly.
* * * * *
"Ino!" came a call from over the blond girl's shoulder. She considered not stopping -- after all, she was already late -- but then again, it was her father. She had reconciled with her family too recently to ignore them when they called. Still, she hoped this particular confrontation wouldn't take too long -- she had a pretty big headache because she couldn't get to sleep the previous night. She'd been up half the night, talking with one of her Shadow Naruto clones about the 'hokage no jutsu.' Apparently, Naruto had never tried it with his own shadow clones because of a distinct difference between her clones and his -- while her 'kage bushin' clones acted just like Naruto's, the 'Naruto bushin' was slightly different. She'd modified the technique, slightly, so that she could skip the extra 'henge,' and that produced a distinct change between the clones: the 'kage bushin' clones were linked to her real body's chakra system; the 'Naruto bushin' clones, while they lacked the ability to generate chakra, had independent control over their chakra. In other words, performing the 'hokage no jutsu' technique with a 'kage bushin' clone might kill the user -- the transformation into flames might ignite the real person's chakra, as well, killing them. The 'Naruto bushin,' with no connection to her own chakra system, had no risk of igniting the real person's chakra.
The distinction left her thinking all night, making it impossible to sleep... and making her extremely unwilling to deal with her father.
"I hope this won't take long," Ino sighed, darting back to her father. "I'm already late for my punishment detail -- I'm supposed to help the hokage with her paperwork. From what I understand, you do not want to be late when she expects you."
"If you're already late, another minute or two won't matter," Inoichi pointed out. "I just wanted to talk with you about a few things."
Ino sighed. "Yeah, I guess you're right. But still, I should make it snappy -- what is it?"
"I've been hearing a few things," her father said. "I understand you've been put on Team 7, with Sakura, Kakashi... and Naruto."
Ino's eye twitched. Every time he mentioned Naruto, she could hear the strain in his voice. Yes, supposedly he had decided -- after seeing his memories through her -- that Naruto was actually a lot better of a person then he believed, and deserved some respect. There was something she could hear, though, whenever he mentioned the young ninja... something which really bothered her. It was as if he was still afraid of Naruto, yet didn't want to say anything about it. Now, however, his fear wasn't manifesting itself in hatred, but instead in nervousness. An improvement, to be sure, but still not something she was happy with.
"Yeah, what of it?"
"I also heard that Team 7 will be going on a multi-year mission in a few days... yet I've heard nothing about that from you. Why is that?" he asked.
"I only found out yesterday, myself," Ino pointed out. "And I've been very busy since then. I was going to tell you before I left, but I haven't had time."
Inoichi at first regarded her with a disbelieving eye, but then shrugged as if he decided she was telling him the truth. "I guess that's possible. I'm sorry, Ino, I didn't mean to think you were trying to hide anything, but after you lose your daughter for over a year, you tend to get a little... paranoid, once you have her back."
Ino shrugged casually, trying to downplay the impatience she was feeling with her father. "Yes, yes. Was that all you wanted to ask me?"
"Actually... no," Inoichi admitted. "Although if you weren't going, then it would have been. Actually... I was wondering what you were planning to do with your condo while you were gone?"
"Why?" Ino asked, suddenly intrigued.
"Well, until recently, either you or Sakura would be home when the other was out on a mission, so there wasn't any real need to worry about it," Inoichi explained. "But you're both going to be gone, and it looks like for a full year at least -- possibly much longer. So, someone will need to look after it -- and there are a few options for what you can do."
"Such as?"
"Well, you could rent it out while you're gone," he suggested. "Or you could hire a caretaking service to come by once a weak, just to make sure it hasn't been broken into and to dust it out."
"Or?" Ino prompted when he didn't continue. She knew he was trying to bring something up, but she had no idea what.
"Well... Kurenai-san approached me a couple days ago," he explained. "It seems one of her students wants to move away from her clan, which is trying to force her into marriage with someone she's not interested in. She wanted to know if I had any ideas for where she might go. I thought I might... if you were going to be gone for a while."
Ino's eyes widened. Suddenly, some rumors she'd been hearing around town were starting to make sense. "This is about the Hyuuga clan trying to force Hinata to marry one of her cousins, isn't it?" she asked.
"I always knew you were a bright girl," Inoichi laughed. "Yes, this is about Hinata. Do you think that you'd be willing to let her live at your apartment while you're gone? Hopefully, by the time you get back, things will have straightened themselves out -- or at least she will be able to afford her own place -- and you'll have your condo back safe and sound. So, what do you say?"
"I guess that would be okay," Ino said. "Let me talk to Sakura, first, though -- I'm sure she'll say yes, but if I don't ask she'll complain that I'm being too bossy, again."
"Good -- I'll let Kurenai know. You do us proud on this mission. And... Ino?"
"Yeah, daddy?" Ino answered.
"Be careful," he said.
Ino twitched. The way he said that... he was still worried about Naruto, wasn't he? Still... he wasn't saying it directly, so she supposed it was okay. Still... perhaps this year or so away would be good for her. At least she wouldn't be under the stress of playing nice with her parents, any more. And saying 'no, I'm not going to be careful' wasn't exactly a very bright thing to do, was it?
"Sure thing, Daddy," she answered, forcing a happy lilt into her voice. "I'll be careful. And if something goes wrong, Naruto will be there to help protect us."
Ino wasn't watching her father's face. If she had, then maybe she would have been surprised to see the odd smile on his face as she said those words.
* * * * *
"Where are they?" a frustrated Sakura huffed, looking at her watch. "Am I going to have to do thier punishment for them?"
"No," Tsunade laughed. "Don't worry -- they can afford to be late. If they'd gotten here on time, they would have been waiting for you to get started, anyway." She help up a small ninja slug to her ear, and listened for a few seconds. "As far as where they are, Ino is busy with her father, and Naruto is looking for someone he needs to talk to. While they're getting that taken care of, I'll let you start your job -- I want you to sort all the papers on my desk. Seperate it into three piles -- the first pile are things that just need me to 'rubber stamp' approval. You know, things like requisition forms which have already made it this far through the beauracracy and the like. I'll deal with those things directly. The second pile -- which I'll have Ino work on -- should be simple decisions, like which genin team to send on which D-class mission and the like -- you know, no life-threatening missions and the like, but anything safe like yardwork or babysitting or the like. The final pile will be for you and Naruto to work on together -- that's for everything else... including things like who to send on suicide or probably death missions. You two will try to resolve it, yourselves, and then present to me whatever proposals you come up with."
Sakura blinked. "Why are you arranging it that way?"
"Naruto will be hokage, one day," Tsunade said. Sakura flinched slightly, reminded of the incident with the Shadow Naruto from the day before, but the hokage pointedly ignored that. "Or rather, he says he wants to be hokage. I figure maybe we should expose him to some of the less desirable aspects of the job, don't you?"
"You mean... you really think Naruto will be a hokage?" Sakura asked, surprised.
"It will be my job to name a Sixth, one day, assuming I live long enough to do it," Tsunade pointed out. With a twinkle in her eye, she added, "Naruto won the job on a bet."
"Tsunade-shishou! That's not something you're suppose to be gambling away! And just when in the world did he do that, anyway?"
Tsunade laughed. "I suppose Naruto hasn't ever had a chance to tell you the story of how he helped convince me to take this job, did he?"
Sakura stared back, dumbfounded. "He did what? How did he do that? I didn't even know Naruto had met you, before the time he was arguing against taking that mission you tried to assign him."
"Hmm. I guess you were a bit... distracted, back then," Tsunade mused. "Sasuke was hospitalized, and I believe you were at his bedside every day, back then."
"Living in a fantasy world," Sakura sighed, staring at her hands. "I thought he'd appreciate the fact that I was nursing him. But so... what's the story?"
"Well, I don't know everything," Tsunade admitted. "I do know that Jiraiya was asked to seek me out and offer me the job -- and that they left before Sasuke was injured. He brought Naruto along because Akatsuki was known to be looking for him, and Jiraiya knew he was just about the only person who could stand up to a member of Akatsuki in Konoha. Along the way, he started teaching Naruto the Rasengan. I didn't know this, of course -- I assumed that Naruto had been studying it for about a year. After all, when I met him -- and he challenged me to a fight because I'd insulted the hokages -- he had only completed the first two stages of the technique. It took the Fourth three years to learn the technique, and the stage Naruto was at had only been reached after his first year of study. So, when Naruto said that he could master the technique in just three days, I made a bet with him. I gave him a week -- if he could master the rasengan in seven days, I would give him the necklace my grandfather, the First, gave me... and I'd recognize him as a future hokage. I was planning to turn down the position of the Fifth at the time, mind -- I was pretty jaded. So, when we got into a fight with Orochimaru one week later, he came in without much other than his guts and tried to save me from being captured in a battle that was way over his level. Well, he mastered the rasengan -- right then and there, mid-battle -- and therefore won the bet. So... when the time comes, I will name him hokage. If he still wants the job, that is -- so I think maybe we should give him an idea of what the job is really like, don't you?"
"And why am I helping him, then?" Sakura asked. "I have no desire to be hokage, you know."
"Hm," Tsunade mused. "Just what positions did the Third's teammates take when he became hokage, huh?"
Sakura nearly choked on her own spit as she realized what the hokage meant. "I don't want to become an Advisor, either!"
Tsunade laughed. "Well, I didn't want to be Fifth. You never know what will happen, do you?"
* * * * *
As he leapt from building rooftop to building rooftop, Naruto finally spied one of the many people he was looking for. With one last leap, he jumped down in front of the other boy, hoping to make conversation.
"Yo, Kiba!" he said, his hand raised in greeting.
Kiba, startled by the sudden appearance of the blond ninja, nearly fell over backwards trying to get himself into a defensive stance. Once he realized just who it was in front of him, he caught himself. "Naruto!" he growled angrilly, clenching his fists tightly. "Don't scare me like that! Do you want me to kill you or something?"
Naruto scratched the back of his head, confused. "I just said 'yo.' There's no reason to be so mad at me."
"You just said 'yo' after jumping no more than an inch from my face!" Kiba snarled. "I would have killed you if I hadn't recognized you in time."
"Uh... if you say so," Naruto said, shrugging. "Anyway, Kiba, I'm going away for as many as four years, and Sakura-chan's coming with me--"
"I know," Kiba sighed. "So are a couple of my relatives."
"Which means that I don't have anyone around here my bank will accept to withdraw funds from my account," Naruto continued.
"You gave Sakura access to your bank account?" Kiba asked, bewildered.
"It's about the Ichiraku," Naruto soldiered on, ignoring the questions because he was in such a hurry. "I regularly spend about 30 Ryou at the Ichiraku every day."
"That's ten bowls a day," Kiba noted weakly.
"So I figure if I go away for a long time, it'll hurt the chef and his family," Naruto explained. "Unless I make arrangements for someone else to pick up the slack. While I was out training, I had Sakura try and take care of that for me--"
"So that's why she started those weekly parties at the Ichiraku," Kiba mused.
"But if she's not going to be here, I need to find someone else to do it for me," Naruto finished. "I can get the bank to send someone the money, but the chef won't accept charity from me. So, I need someone to go in and spend about two hundred a week at the Ichiraku while I'm gone."
Kiba hesitated. "I'm... not really into ramen. Why don't you ask Iruka-sensei?"
"Good idea!" Naruto exclaimed. "I was just looking around for someone I'd trust to actually do this for me, and you were the first person I saw, but I know that Iruka-sensei likes Ichiraku ramen. Thanks for the suggestion!"
"No problem," Kiba answered, still a bit perplexed at how it was possible for someone to eat ten bowls of ramen a day. Was that the only thing he ever ate? "Um... by the way... could I ask you a favor?"
Naruto nodded. "Sure thing, but I'm in a hurry. I'm late to meet the hokage, but I still need to talk to Iruka-sensei first."
"Right, this won't take long," Kiba said, waving him off. "It's about your trip. My older sister and one of my favorite cousins is going to be on it, with you, so... I was hoping you'd look out for them, would you?"
Naruto nodded. "I'll keep everyone safe, if I can."
"Good," Kiba nodded. "But there's something else. My sister, Hana... she's still a rookie jounin. She passed the chuunin exam the usual way, but... her promotion to jounin came about because she was a veterinarian specializing in the treatment of animal nin, and she's not sure that her skills are up to par with a jounin who came up the regular way. I was kinda hoping that, maybe, you could help train her a bit. You know, help her build up her skills."
Naruto scratched his head. "If I can, sure. Why not? Look, I've gotta go, see ya later."
Kiba watched Naruto speed away, a wry smile on his face. "Asking a chuunin to make a jounin feel more like she deserves the promotion by training her. Hana, dear sis, please realize... Naruto's not your ordinary chuunin."
* * * * *
The final total for the number of people leaving on the largest non-wartime mission in Konoha history was an even thirty. Team seven was joined by the three genin teams lead by Hana, Ebisu, and Genma. Jiraiya, Yuugao, Anko, and Asuma were also coming along, although Asuma wasn't supposed to stay with the team for long and Jiraiya was probably going to be going on some independent missions from time to time. They had a sizable wagon train, as well, carrying supplies and a few personal effects as needed for more than a year abroad, which was occupied by another ten civilians and administrative ninjas -- including Sakura's parents. They were told at the gates to Konoha that their mission would be explained after they set up camp that night, and without any more words then that they were ordered to set out.
Travel was slow going, as any large group of soldiers was -- every military formation could only move as fast as its slowest unit, after all. By the time they reached the area previously selected to be that evening's campground, it had already gone dark... despite the fact that it was summer, and the days were long.
Setting up camp with little to no light proved troublesome to just about everyone who didn't have something to compensate for it -- such as a byakugan eye, a sharingan eye, a dog who could smell out the area and communicate to their master, or enough chakra to burn as a sort of night light. By the time everyone was done they all were feeling rather irritated about the whole thing, even those with the special abilities -- largely because the ones without were constantly underfoot. When the call for a general assembly came, most everyone was feeling rather as if they didn't care what the mission was, so long as they could just get to bed quickly and rest up from a long, tiring day of travel.
"All right, people," Kakashi began. He was apparently the person in charge of the expedition, although Jiraiya, Genma, some of the administrative jounin (including Sakura's mother), and Anko were all his equal in rank or better. No-one seemed to complain, however, as he took the mantle of command. "It's time to explain our orders. Secrecy had to be maintained until now, not because of any threat to Konoha... but because if word got out, there would be a threat to where we're going. Ladies and Gentlemen, a treaty has been negotiated with the Country of Wave. Under this treaty, Konoha will be providing for the Country of Wave its very own hidden village. This does not mean we are going to become independent of Konoha -- rather, we are setting up a satellite village for our people. As analysis continues into the successes and failures of the Sand-Sound War, Konoha has decided to revise certain policies. In the event of another war and a devestating loss, there will be a place for us to regroup and strike back from. Also, if we discover a talented ninja who's loyalties are... questionable, we have a place to train them without revealing our greatest secrets. To that end, we are being sent to set up this new satellite village, start running light missions from there, and establish training grounds for additional talent. Our forehead protectors will remain the leaf of Konoha, but we will also be given sets of fingerless gloves as part of our uniforms, displaying our additional allegiances. For most of us present, this tour of duty will last one to four years and you will be rotated out once that time is completed. I, however, may be asked to remain considerably longer... for I will be made the village's Jounin-Oyabun."
Boss Jounin. In non-Kage villages large enough to have more than one jounin, such as the Rain or the Grass, the Jounin-Oyabun was the village head -- no-one superceded his authority in their lands, and occasionally they would be as powerful, politically, as some of the weaker Kage villages (the Mist, for example, which was the smallest of the five Kage villages). That the satellite village was intended to be large enough to justify one meant that this new village was not supposed to be some sort of temporary construct, built for the soul purpose of strategic positioning for some war (as had happened on occasion during the Rock War more than a decade before) and designed with the intention of being abandoned after some goal was achieved, but was in fact a permanent facility for Konoha to maintain for many decades to come.
"Wow," Sakura breathed. Naruto and Ino both shared similar sentiments, but niether expressed them verbally.
"Of course, most of you may be allowed to remain in the new village, if you wish -- after all, it will need permanent settlers, and just bringing in local recruits will not be enough." Kakashi continued. "However, we will organize things as best we can to provide a proper chain of command, once we get there, anticipating your return home in the scheduled one to four year -- meaning you'll probably have to start grooming a possible successor before you decide for certain whether you want to stay or not. Currently, the prime minister of Wave is constructing the village, and there should be some permanent structures for us as we arrive. From the time we arrive there, until the time we leave, we will be identified as members of this new village. We will be called the village of Blossom, and our ninjas will be known as the Konoha Blossoms." He grinned visibly under his mask. "Since most of you are genin, I sincerely hope you live up to your new name... and blossom."
* * * * *
Notes: The thing about Hinata and her arranged marriage will not be directly resolved in this story (although indirect references to her ongoing story will be made throughout the remainder of this fic, possibly including a short explanation of how the conflict is resolved). It's a reference to a related side-story (or side-stories) which I may or may not get around to writing, dealing with certain people like Lee, Neji, Hinata, Kiba, TenTen, and the others of the 'rookie nine' who's tales are neglected in this fic. Certain references will be made to the goings-on in said side-story from this point on (and, in fact, a very few already have been). That is not to say these characters will be completely absent from the main fic, just that they've got their own lives and problems which aren't necessarily related to this main storyline. Anything referenced will have the 'conclusion' relayed, as well, in the epilog -- just so all the loose ends get tied together -- but don't expect much detail on these subplots until after I've finished this main fic. Except possibly Lee... I may decide to make his storyline more central (especially if I decide to give him the 'glorious death scene' I have considered doing. Heh -- but I might emphasize it even if I don't kill him off) depending on how well certain other ideas I have turn out. The conversation between Ino and her father which dealt with Hinata's story did have other things in it which are mainline story related, so don't think I'm adding extraneous bits for a fic I may never get around to writing. If I never get it written, think of it as proof that the world doesn't revolve around Naruto and the 'neglected' characters aren't being forgotten -- just kept busy with other things. Okay, other business: Well, I'd like to congratulate Sunder the Gold for guessing the mission -- and to Seek and Search and Destroy for getting close. Good work! Now all we've got to see is how things play out in the 'new village' now that people know what's going on.