Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 3 Chapter 40 ( Chapter 50 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 3 Notes: This chapter is being posted earlier in the day (or perhaps later, depending on your time zone) because I've been fighting the flu for several days, now. This chapter had the finishing touches put on it last night, but I didn't feel up to waiting up until my usual very late night posting time to get it out. I still don't, but I think I've delayed long enough. Here you are, with the fiftieth chapter overall (just fourty for the volume), posted a bit early. I intend to resume the regular posting times with the next chapter, assuming I'm over the flu. This fic IS available at Mediaminer. It is rated 'Y' there, however, so it doesn't show up in searches unless you double-check to make sure the search allows for fics of that rating. I've had a lot of people saying they couldn't find it, and I think that could be a big reason why not. At the moment, it is still virtually identical to this one (I believe the chances are a few author's notes changes I made in ffnet's editing screen and some corrected math in one chapter), but that won't be the case forever. If you've already voted, you till have to read this: The TONFA awards are still around until the middle of February. Be careful, however -- they've already discovered multiple attempts at cheating and rigging the polls, and the punishments have varied from expulsion of the voters to removal from the voting. Polling has been reset in both categories my fic is up in (as well as several others), so if you voted you need to vote again, and in order to vote you MUST friend yourself with the livejournal community (which can take a few hours to a day, since membership needs to be approved). For the record, if I'm nominated for this award ever again, I think I'll turn it down. Unless someone can prove it's being run significantly better next year, this award ain't worth it -- this much cheating already, and the award still has months of voting to go. In case it wasn't clear, Hanabi, Moegi, and Futaba are NOT being immediately promoted to jounin. They're still chuunin, being given their first commands -- namely, they're being given command of a training assignment for new genin. Naruto, Sakura, and Ino, however, ARE being promoted. In my view, chuunin must also occasionally command genin teams, or else their rank would not be regarded as a 'command' position -- there would never be anyone who they could command. To cut down on the length of some of these author's notes, I'm thinking of setting up a 'Training For the Job Forum' with the new forum feature. Let me know what you all think. To the mediaminer readers: Sorry, I've tried everything I could think of to correct the formatting issues, including those dealing with the author's notes. Nothing I try seems to work. You'll just have to put up with it, or read it over on ffnet (which is still mostly identical to the mediaminer version, although there will be some censored chapters soon -- five chapters, give or take one or two -- which will only be available on mediaminer).
Chapter 40
Hanabi arrived to her meeting site fifteen minutes early, and was pleased to see that she had managed to beat her students to the training ground they were supposed to meet at. She quickly concealed herself, and settled down to wait. As soon as the trio of new genin arrived, she would be activating her byakugan. It would be very interesting to see just how they acted when they didn't know they were being watched, and to see if they would try using whatever talent it was that lead Haruno to decide they would be best trying to develop a doujutsu.
Adaha was the first to show, and he seemed a bit disappointed not to see anyone else there. Hanabi knew she had to be especially careful -- while his proto-byakugan wasn't as effective as the modern version, it still might be able to expose her if he happened to see her. Thankfully, she was concealed by more than just the foliage, but there was still a chance he could see through her disguise if she moved.
Nanigoto Izure was the next to show. Unlike Adaha, Hanabi's files indicated that he had no real talent whatsoever. His inclusion to Hanabi's team came about because he had twenty-ten vision... or possibly better. Still, it was otherwise normal vision, and therefore not that impressive in ninja terms. Still, he might be able to learn some of the basic doujutsu that could be performed by anyone -- most of which were genjutsu, and which Hanabi would need help teaching, but at least they were something for him to build on.
Curiously, while Izure and Adaha sat around chatting, the time for the meeting to arrive came and went. After almost a half hour of being late, they started to look a bit uncertain -- where was their teacher? For that matter, where was their teammate, Okanemoto Akane? Perhaps they got the wrong place, or the wrong time, or were given the wrong instructions. Perhaps it was time for them to go back and check -- after all, it wasn't too much of a surprise for one person to be late, but two?
Hanabi was starting to get frustrated, herself. Of her three students, Akane was the one she was most interested in. According to the notes she'd recieved from Haruno, Akane had actually managed to develop his own doujutsu technique -- another 'technique anyone could do,' theoretically, but not exactly one anyone else had tried, either. There were no -- or, at the very least, fragmentary -- details as to what the technique was or how it worked, which was a large part of why Hanabi wanted to know what he could do. He had quite a number of negative comments in his profile, however, to go along with his apparent unexpected skill. He was a child of money, one of the wealthier families in Wave Country, and one of the few which managed to profit in the days of Gatoh's oppression. He was a bully and a thug, and a discipline problem wherever he went. As Hanabi read through some of the things about him, she started to realize how Naruto -- and, probably, Hana -- felt when she was placed under their command... because Akane was just like her when she'd first arrived in Blossom. Only worse....
She supposed she could understand him being angry. If she were a boy, and had been given a girls name, she'd probably be pretty upset too. She didn't think, though, that she was as bad of a bully as he was, even at her worst. She had never tried to drown another person's pet for no reason other then just to tease him when she was six (as she'd heard about Akane doing from Inari), she'd never tried murdering the innocent as he had in the same incident, and so on. In fact, Akane should have been locked up and the key thrown away, even though he was still so young... but his family was big money, and got him out of every bit of trouble he had ever been in. They had arranged for him to recieve an education in the Academy, and while he was always frustrating his teacher and classmates he had excelled in his lessons. However, he had problems with discipline, attendance, and teamwork. All problems she never had -- her discipline was pretty good, given her Hyuuga upbringing, she never missed a meeting, and she'd always worked well with her teammates (at least, for all three factors, she performed well inside her own team -- when dealing with 'outsiders,' she used to have a few problems). Haruno's instructions to her were to either turn Akane into a person who wasn't likely to become a missing nin at his first opportunity and would be an asset to the village, or to make him quit. She, for obvious reasons, would rather do the former... but she couldn't exactly do either if he never showed up.
Finally, she decided she couldn't wait any longer, and had to emerge from her hiding place -- it wouldn't do to allow the rest of her team to leave thinking they'd been abandoned just because Akane never showed up. Still, she could have some fun while revealing herself, if she wanted. She slowly moved out from her hiding place, retaining as much of the camouflage as she could. Let's see how quickly they pick up on my approach, she thought.
The closer and closer she got, the more distressed. They weren't picking up on her no matter how close she got, and if they were at all observant they would have seen her quite some time before. Any ninja -- even ones still in the Academy, much less those who had graduated -- should be paying attention at least that observant in their every waking moment. In a few moments, she would be close enough that they should be seeing her even in their sleep... and yet they still missed her.
The other thing that bothered her, after about ten minutes, is that they started repeating the exact same conversation she had heard earlier -- word for word, inflection for inflection, and body language for body language. It was then that she realized what was going on... and she was suddenly very impressed. "Okay, which of you managed it?" she called.
"That would be me," Adaha said, appearing behind her. He was actually a lot closer then she was comfortable with -- in fact, he was close enough to touch her if he wanted. "Kai!" The genjutsu of the two talking ninja dispelled itself, replaced by nothing more then the bare training ground. Adaha and Izure were both within a few feet of her. "You've managed to teach me quite a bit over the past year. I figured out how the byakugan worked well enough to smuggle a basic genjutsu past your senses. The technique doesn't have a name -- yet -- but in essence it relied on the fact that you were looking at us with your byakugan. If you had de-activated it at any point, you would have seen right through us."
"That is... a pretty remarkable technique," Hanabi breathed, feeling a little shaky. To find that her and her clan's greatest technique had such an apparently big flaw was... terrifying, especially considering how much she had relied upon it in the past. This would have to be something she discussed with the clan leaders... once she decided which group of clan members she would accept as her leader. "Is Akane-san here, or was that much of it true?"
"We were really talking about his not being here when we first noticed you," Izure explained. "Adaha-san thought up his little trick when he realized you were looking at us with the byakugan."
"When did you notice?" she asked.
"About four or five minutes before you started moving," Adaha said. "We have been keeping an eye out for him while you were in the genjutsu, but he's been a no-show."
Hanabi grinned hawkishly. "Then I guess we have our first assignment, huh? Operation Locate And Retrieve Absent Team Member. Official training mission -- no commission on it, sorry, but at least there's a small flat fee of five ryou per team member to complete the mission in it for you -- that'll buy you a bowl of ramen and a soft drink, won't it? I can't offer anything more at present, but I want to make sure there's some reward for showing up on time." She didn't mention that the ten ryou they were going to earn would likely be coming out of her salary, since Blossom was still forced to be a bit stingier then its parent village, but there wasn't any real need for them to sweat the details. "Use your eyes as much as possible to track him, capture him, and pull him back here to the training ground. Begin."
It quickly became apparent that Izure was really just slowing them down -- literally. The boy just couldn't move as quickly as the other two, which slowed them all down since any team could only move as fast as its slowest member. It wasn't -- exactly -- that he was that incompetent, as it was that he was just fractionally below average, while both Hanabi and Adaha were well above average for ninja of their experience level. Niether would have given any real competition to the real speedsters of Konoha, like, for example, Rock Lee, Akimichi Moegi, or Inuzuka Kiba (who was reputedly the fastest Inuzuka ever, at his age, according to their clan records), but they could have outpaced most of those who didn't base much of their exceptional fighting abilities on their speed.
Adaha, on the other hand, would have been in the upper echelon of new students even in Konoha's Academy. His performance showed that the Hyuuga clan was pretty powerful, even before it 'enhanced' itself many generations ago. However, he wasn't the only one of the Blossom graduates who would have put in a good showing in Konoha's Academy -- Inari was pretty amazing, Ran Umiko (who Hanabi had heard some rather... disturbing rumors about, which she really needed to talk to Konohamaru to see if they were true) seemed to be pretty competent, and -- as much of a discipline problem as he appeared to be -- Okanemoto Akane should have qualified to be as good as the average boy raised in one of the twelve clans could be expected to be, fresh from the Academy.
It looked as if this whole Blossom Academy thing would actually work out, after all. That is, if students like Adaha and Inari lived up to their potential -- if they went bust (and Hanabi certainly was hoping they wouldn't -- she liked both boys very much, after all) then Blossom was doomed to fail, unable to support itself as a ninja village truly should. Which was largely why this final set of training missions was so vital. And why they couldn't afford to have genin like Akane fail to participate. That, or they couldn't afford to have genin like Akane go on missions, because that would smear Blossom's reputation.
And students like Izure weren't good for running missions at all, and should be shunted immediately into the administrative ninja program. He seemed competent at taking orders, and he presented a reasonable attitude, but he was definitely not of the caliber that a ninja should be. He had nothing exceptional, no skills, and was behind on everything compared to the average genin. He seemed to know it, though -- his embarrassed smile as he tried to keep up betrayed that he already knew he wasn't destined to make it on one of the final teams.
Finally, however, they had located their prey, and even Izure was able to put on a second gear in order to close the distance. It helped that Akane wasn't exactly moving -- instead, he was busy eating. He ignored the two rookie genin as they landed three feet from him, instead taking another casual bite from his bowl of rice. After swallowing, he glanced up at them. "Hm. What are you two doing here?"
Adaha smirked. "Training mission. Find, capture, and retrieve someone."
Akane's eyes narrowed. "Oh? And who is this someone?"
"Why, you, of course," Izure chimed in. "Do you want to go quietly, or are we going to have to drag you out of here by your ears?"
Hanabi considered stepping in, despite her having declared this a training mission -- it was not her intention to have her genin do battle against each other at this point -- but she decided to hold on and see how things worked themselves out. She'd be ready to move, however, before they hurt themselves.
Akane took another slow bite of his rice and sighed. "Look, I'm not going anywhere until I finish my breakfast. That girl who's supposed to teach us our 'ultimate techniques' is just going to have to deal with my being late."
"I'm afraid that's not a choice, Akane-san," Izure replied, pulling out a kunai. "We were given a mission, after all, and I refuse to fail in it."
"And I will not disappoint Hanabi-chan," Adaha added. "You will come with us voluntarily, or we will force you. Your choice."
"Try it," Akane challenged.
Izure suddenly leapt up, tossing not one but a full brace of kunai at the boy. Akane leapt up only to land in a nearly invisible wire net a second set of shuriken was carrying his way disguised through a kage shuriken technique. Impressive, Hanabi thought grudgingly. I suppose that even with inferior physical skills, taijutsu, and ninjutsu, he still has a trick or two up his sleeves. Shuriken technique like that is very advanced. Maybe he should be kept on as a genin, after all... but he'd need a lot of training, and not of the sort I can give him...
Akane, however, wasn't as fooled as Izure had hoped. A blade flashed out, slicing through the net before it had a chance to wrap around him, and he slipped through the wires with only a few small scratches to account for. Then he looked up to meet his attacker's eyes.
By this point, Hanabi had her byakugan activated, but it didn't help her figure out exactly what had happened -- possibly not even a sharingan would have been much of a help, from her vantagepoint. All that she knew was that there was a flash, and then suddenly Izure was staggering around as if he was blind. Adaha moved in, but another locked stare with another flash stopped him mid-movement, as well. Well, Hanabi thought, I guess that's his doujutsu. It seems he can blind people by making eye contact with them. Interesting... not an especially powerful technique if you know to expect it, but interesting nonetheless. Well, I guess it's time for me to intervene.
"I think this has gone on long enough," she said, stepping out of the shadows concealing her as she spoke. Akane's eyes turned towards her, revealing both of his eyes -- and not just the pupils or some other part of them -- to shine with a metallic gold. She quickly turned her head, relying on her byakugan to keep watch on him but not letting her eyes make direct contact. "Impressive technique."
Akane's eyes returned to normal as he squinted, trying to focus on her and see if she was being sarcastic or not. "It's stupid. Just like about every other ninja technique I've learned -- I mean, really, what's the point of all this junk we've been taught? Why use hand-to-hand combat with today's weaponry being available? Not that anyone really seems to know how to use weapons, or else casualty rates among ninja would be a lot higher then they reportedly are. We're told to work in teams, but we almost never fight as a team -- rather, we break apart and each handle our enemies one on one, or we let one person fight and step in when they tire. We're told to conceal ourselves, but how often do we have just one enemy to fight in this day and age? Once we attack, we give away our position, and so concealing ourselves is only briefly useful -- not as useful as one would think, considering how much emphasis is placed on it in the Academy."
"That's where team-oriented tactics come into play," Hanabi noted grimly. It appeared as if Akane wasn't just an anti-social bully, but also a cynic. "Concealment is only part of what you really want those tactics for -- misdirection. Teams are generally of three or four, allowing one person to be a distraction while the others move in to attack. Once they attack, in theory, they become the distraction and the first attacker is supposed to conceal himself again. It doesn't usually work out that way, but that is the concept. It's all part of tactics... and tactics are rarely something that can be fully worked out until the final team is assembled. The techniques you are learning are designed to give your sensei -- or your commander -- tools with which he can mold his tactical plan."
"But we aren't supposed to ever let anyone know all of what we can do," Akane complained. "So he'll never know what 'tools' he has at his disposal."
Hanabi grinned darkly. "Generally, the jounin will administer a test upon first recieving his team. During that test, he will fight his three students, offering them a goal. While the genin will rarely reveal all that he can do, he will show what techniques he is most comfortable using pretty quickly... something which the jounin can use as the basis for forming tactical plans. Not to mention the techniques common to just about every ninja -- your skill at each of those techniques will have been evaluated by Haruno-sensei and Naruto-sensei, and will be included in her report to your jounin-sensei. And those techniques can be very useful in the right situation."
Akane shrugged. "I don't care. I don't think it's worth missing breakfast so that you can try and teach me how to use my own pathetic technique, especially when you don't know what my technique is. I'm certainly not going to tell you."
Hanabi paused. "You're right. The nature of your doujutsu is so different from mine, it would be impractical to expect that I could help you with it. But you need my recommendation in order to progress past this point, Akane-san, and I think you would be best to try and work with me on it."
"Yeah? Why is that?" Akane asked, unconcerned, as he sat back down dismissively and started back on his meal. "I belong to the wealthiest family in Wave Country. I don't need this job, and I see it as a waste of my time."
Hanabi smirked. "Well, nothing says you need to continue as a ninja for your career," she agreed. "But if you choose not to become a ninja, then I'm afraid your life is going to become very... difficult."
"There has never been anything my parent's money hasn't been able to save me from," Akane snorted.
"Curious, I used to think the same thing," Hanabi mused. "After all, I am the closest thing to ninja royalty that Konoha has. Turns out I was wrong -- Naruto-san and Inari-kun were more than just well-suited to tearing away that illusion from me, considering how much they've done for me since then. Maybe I need to bust your balls until you learn the same thing, huh?"
"And just what are you going to do that my parents money can't solve?" Akane asked, chortling. "We're wealthier then any ninja family! Hell, we're richer then some countries, nowadays."
"Well, see, your parents signed a contract on your behalf when you joined the Academy," Hanabi started. "It details certain... restrictions we can impose on you, if we so choose, should you decide to quit being a ninja."
"What kind of 'restrictions' are these?" Akane asked, his eyes narrowing darkly.
"Well, Blossom has made a significant investment in your education," Hanabi explained. "In addition to the equipment, shelter, and consumable supplies we have provided for you -- which, I'm sure you'll point out, could always be paid for by your family -- we have also imparted into you a large amount of important information and training. Training which makes you a danger to those around you, and therefore our responsibility. And information which could prove dangerous in the wrong hands. To that end, we've required that you submit to restrictions to protect those secrets and those around you."
"Get to the point," Akane growled.
"Well, it's simple," Hanabi said, a grin on her face. "If we feel you've... learned too much, we can restrict your movements as we see fit in order to protect ourselves and others. Now, usually, the strictest imposition we make is to confine a person to a village, but there have been cases of certain, especially strong ninja who were felt to be such threats that they were restricted to a single room."
"And if I left, anyway?"
"Well, then, you'd be declared a missing nin," Hanabi explained. "Which would mean any and every ninja in Konoha, Blossom, and our allied and associated countries would be on the lookout for you, with a standing bounty -- typically the equivalent of at least a B rank mission, though sometimes all the way up to an S-rank's level -- for your death or capture. Sometimes, if they see nothing to gain from it otherwise, even a hostile country will seek the bounty on missing nin... and, considering your relative skill level, I suspect that would be the case. In essence, if you violate the probation we set for you, you become a hunted man. Your money may help you escape from capture and death for a time, but it's unlikely you'll have a very pleasant life in that time."
Akane slowly set down his chopsticks. "I suppose I'll remain a ninja, then."
Hanabi grinned. Well, it had taken a few colorful exagerations, and perhaps he'd never become the most enthusiastic of ninja nor the most pleasant to work with... but, knowing the alternatives he had, perhaps he could be threatened into becoming a competent ninja. It was worth a shot, anyway.
* * * * *
Notes: Yes, that's the end of Hanabi's team's story. No follow-up chapters to this, with this team. The rest of their time is spent working on specifics, drilling, sparring, and Hanabi evaluating -- not exactly the most interesting of things to write about, ya see. The important and interesting things have already happened here, and next time Hanabi or her team is mentioned, we'll be redistributing teams to their various permanent captains (namely, Naruto, Sakura, and Ino). I'll be interested to see what you all think the final teams will be as you're introduced to more of the genin. (You already know Adaha, Inari, and Ran from earlier storylines... Chikan and Pansuke (well, as much as she's going to be developed, any way -- sometimes, a person just doesn't change, and really are as shallow as surface appearances make them), too, sort of. This gives you an overview of Akane. I haven't exactly revealed who all of the 'winning' genin will be (although I suspect there's enough hints to figure out who the others will be), so you can work on that as well as try and figure out who the teams will ultimately be. The only hint I'll give you outside of what you already know is that the genin will all come from the taijutsu, doujutsu, elemental, espionage, and summoning teams, and there will be no two members of the same of these training teams together on the final teams. Make your guesses now. (Hm, maybe I've finally come up with a 'guess what's coming next' challenge that will manage to stump everyone and not just a scattered few reviewers. Usually, people have figured out my challenges) As an award, if anyone comes up with the EXACT team breakdown in one guess (per chapter -- no spamming the guesses, in other words), and delivers that via a SIGNED review, I'll answer any one specific question -- regardless of how many spoilers are given away -- about the upcoming fic. Sorry, it's the best I can do, since I think it's silly to make rewards of 'I'll use your name' or something like that. I used the name 'Akane' from the series, as the boy (and I'm almost certain it was a boy) who was tormenting Inari and his dog during the Wave Country arc. However... Akane is a girl's name -- at least, according to every resource I have, so I suppose I could be wrong there and it might be unisex -- so I figured I'd bring that up here. It could be, I suppose, that the bully was just a girl who was so young that Kishimoto couldn't draw any distinction between 'her' and a boy -- at least, not at that point of his career (Moegi and Hanabi's appearances, as well as Chibi-Sakura and Chibi-Ino, would seem to disprove that). However, I'm going more with the 'boy given a girl's name' theory. Just an FYI. I tried to create a throw-away character who would just 'be there' in the background for this chapter and never appear again, and as I tried to emphasize how boringly normal he was he wound up being a bit more interesting to write for then I planned. I dunno what Izure is going to be doing in this story, but he seems to have caught on in my head. I may try and fit him in elsewhere -- if not in this fic, possibly in the next-gen sequel (which is, btw, not fully planned out -- I've got a premise for that story, a few plans for the opening scenes, and an idea of who the major and primary supporting characters will be... but not a full plot, so I've got a LOT of room for expansion in that story if I need it for characters like Izure). I've already got a TINY bit of a story plot for his character to be involved with, so I suppose you'll be seeing more of him in time, at least. In case anyone is interested, Izure's name (according to an online English-Japanese dictionary which I'm using almost exclusively to figure out the names for these people) means Who What, or rather What (Nanigoto) Who (Izure, which can also mean which, anyway, any how, at any rate, and where). I've come up with a few names like this for these 'future admin-genin' who aren't supposed to appear again outside of possible brief mentions. One (Kainashi Rouhi) was derived from 'useless waste,' another ( Ekisutora Bangai) was 'extra extra,' and one (Yowamushi Kasuka) 'weak weaking' or 'weakling weak' -- I forget which was which. I'm not certain if these are the correct usage of these words (I recall, once, a Spanish language teacher I had in high school discussing why we shouldn't rely on our dictionaries so much. She told of a Spanish-English dictionary that translated the spanish word for 'creative' as 'insane,' since one definition of 'insane' is 'wildly imaginative,' which is the same as 'creative' in some other dictionaries. I imagine that's the case with many of these words -- the words aren't QUITE properly defined), but as they're names and not attempts at dialog, I don't feel guilty if I make too many mistakes in this regard. However, the intention with these names is to follow the tradition of making every name mean something. Next Chapter: Sakura's team goes into action. I'm a bit worried that one'll become a two-chapter set, but we'll see. Sometimes, what I think will take a long bit of writing takes very little, and visa versa.