Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 3 Chapter 41 ( Chapter 51 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 3 Notes: I am NOT going to be explaining how to find this fic on Mediaminer any more. I've explained several times, cleared up everything I could, and did everything possible short of giving you the direct link yourself. I'm sorry, but sending an e-mail to every reader interested in finding it on mediaminer would be silly -- I have at least seven hundred readers who've put this fic in their favorites or on alerts, and who knows how many others who follow this fic some other way -- if all of them asked for links in e-mail to the mediaminer version, I'd be spending all my time e-mailing and none writing! Please, TRY to find it yourself -- it's NOT THAT HARD. Just remember it's Y rated, and there shouldn't be a problem. (This means you have to adjust all search settings, since the search defaults below Y) I'm a bit disappointed that no-one has even tried (as of the time I write these author's notes) my challenge last chapter. Then again, reviews have been down significantly since I returned from my brief hiatus, and many of my regulars haven't commented once yet which makes me think a lot of them haven't realized I'm working on the fic again. Well, that, and it's a rather complex challenge. Still, I'd like to see at least one guess before I write the chapter which reveals the final make-up of the three teams. Well, on with the fic....
Chapter 41
Sakura shook her head. Why do I get all the perverts? she wondered. Ran Umiko was the tamest of the trio, and if what she heard from Konohamaru was true then that was saying something. She didn't trust Chikan, and didn't like Hiniku Butakatsu, which was going to make these lessons... interesting, to say the least. She just hoped she didn't kill any of her students during the training. With a sigh, she sat on a rock in her assigned training area and waited for them to arrive.
Chikan, looking a bit nervous, was the first person to arrive. He grinned up at her hesitantly and said, "Um, hello, Sakura-sensei. I... uh, I'm here."
For a moment, Sakura wondered just what was going on with him, and then realized. This was the first time the two had been alone since Naruto's little trick on the boy. In fact, outside of classroom settings, Sakura could count on one hand the number of times she had seen him around the village -- obviously, he had been avoiding her. She was glad he had been, but now... well, apparently she'd managed to intimidate him into treating her with some respect. Maybe this would be all right.
"Yes, you are," Sakura said, smirking darkly at him. "You are now under my direct command, and will be for the next couple of weeks. This should prove... interesting, don't you think?"
Chikan swallowed. "Is it too late to ask that I be transferred into another group?"
A moment passed before the eminent arrival of the other two teammates was announced by a loud argument between Hiniku Butakatsu and Ran Umiko. As Sakura already knew, Butakatsu was a male chauvinist pig of the worst kind, but usually managed to keep himself from being involved in anything... too violent, as far as the bickering went. Somehow, though, he seemed to have stepped over some line with the girl. Sakura couldn't immediately tell what the argument was about, but it seemed to end the moment they came into view -- their appearance relieving Chikan greatly. As the pair strode over to join the team, she sighed -- it seemed as if this team would be even more trouble then she feared. Well, at least they only have to co-exist for the next two weeks. Surely they can handle that! And if they can't... well, it's only two weeks. Surely I can handle that.
Standing up from her rock and dusting off her read end, she sighed. "Well, I can tell this is going to be fun. Okay, people, you're all here to learn how to summon creatures in ninja combat. You may recall that our very first lesson at the Academy, together, I gave everyone a brief demonstration of a basic summoning technique using paper seals. Summoning living beings, however, is a very different prospect. Now, does anyone know anything about it?"
Umiko started to say something, but then looked rather uncomfortable and shook her head. Chikan, however, wasn't quite so hesitant. "Well... I know a few people around here who can summon creatures, and they all seem to summon only one kind of creature. I've seen Naruto-sensei summon frogs, Konohamaru-sempai summon various simians, and Daichi-sempai summon centipedes. Oh, and both Inuzuka girls know how to summon dogs."
"And so does Kakashi-sensei," Sakura agreed, nodding. "And I summon slugs. Trust me when I say I wasn't exactly enthused at the choice of creatures, but I suppose I should be grateful for such a boon. That is correct -- each summoner can really only summon one type of creature. Though that's not quite true, exactly. What is more accurate is that you can only summon creatures with which you have signed a contract. The Inuzuka clan passes down a contract with the dogs, but if a member of the clan also wanted to -- for example -- sign a contract with the cats, they could. And if they did, they could summon either a dog or a cat. But... well, it almost never happens -- signing a contract with two different species is generally considered a bad idea. I'm not clear why, actually, but I believe it has something to do with the chance of the two species getting hostile against each other and what that might do to the holder of those contracts."
"Contracts?" Chikan asked. He seemed to be the only person willing to ask questions -- he was nervous around Sakura, yes, but he also seemed genuinely interested in the lessons. Ran Umiko, however, seemed to be too shy (astonishingly) to ask whatever questions she had, and Butakatsu was putting on a studied air of disinterest. "What kind of contracts?"
Sakura reached behind her rock and pulled out an oversized scroll. "This kind. The scroll I signed is currently in the possession of Tsunade-shishou, the hokage, in Konoha... but I was given permission to borrow this one and show it to you. This is the contract with the frogs, the contract signed by both Jiraiya-sama and Naruto-kun. You do not have permission to sign this contract, mind, but it should give you an idea of what it should look like." The unrolled it, and pointed out parts of it to them. "As you can tell, some parts of the scroll are in ancient languages we can no longer read, and there is a long section for each human to sign it."
The three genin stared at it curiously, each trying to remember the important parts of it. Umiko finally managed to ask a question when she was done. "What happens when you run out of paper?"
"Good question," Sakura replied, glad that someone other then Chikan had spoken. "With most species of ninja animals, there can be multiple contracts circulating at any one time. Kakashi-sensei's contract with the dogs is different from the ones in the Inuzuka clan archives -- which includes five completely filled scrolls and two still circulating at this point. The village of Grass, which if you recall we fought a major battle against a few months ago, has four different contracts with the bears... three of which circulate among their GHuND, rather then any specific clan. However, there are five ninja animal clans which each permit only one single contract to be in circulation at any one time. Those five are the most powerful summonings, and the amount of chakra required for even the weakest summoning for those species is at a minimum ten times greater then the most powerful summoning of the others. A master-level summoner of these species may create one-time use contracts to summon these beasts, and almost always it takes dozens of jounin-level ninja wiping themselves out of chakra to activate. They are the ultimate creatures to summon, and it is possible to summon creatures of great size in these five species. The toads are one such species. When this contract is full, another may be filled out... but whoever makes it will have to undergo the trials that the toads will place their human companions through."
"What are the other four greater species?" Chikan asked.
"It won't matter much to you," Sakura snorted. "But I suppose you might as well know what you won't be able to summon. Of the five greater species, Konoha holds two. We did hold three, but one was in the possession of a man who became a missing ninja, and therefore is lost to us... although Anko-chan, who you may have met around town, did sign a contract with that third species when she was about your age. That was the snake... and if you ever see someone summon a snake, outside of Anko-chan... be very careful. Currently, Konoha's greatest enemy is the only man who can submit a student's name to the snake scroll."
Recognizing the order, the three neophyte genin nodded. "Yes, Sakura-sensei," they chorused.
"The toads, obviously, are one of the species Konoha controls the contract of. Slugs are the other." She grinned wryly at that, noting the startled looks of her team at the revelation. Truth be told, until she took in part of the kyuubi it had taken her months of conservation in order to accumulate the chakra needed for the greater summoning... but she didn't want to disillusion the awe that her new students held for her at that statement. After all, she was that powerful, now. "The remaining two, however, are in the possession of the Rock... which makes Rock an especially dangerous enemy, and about the only nation which can, in theory, match Konoha's power without the aid of others. The stalemate our war ended in a couple decades ago was when we still held the power of the snake in our grasp -- while we still believe we are stronger, there have been serious questions about whether we would have one that war without that last great summoning. So, if you ever see the summoning of a bird or a spider take place, you can identify the summoner as being a member of the Rock."
"This is all well and good," Butakatsu finally said, putting his wieght forward intimidatingly... though Sakura wasn't the least bit intimidated, but rather disgusted. "But it's really just a history lesson, and I'm not particularly interested in history lessons when there's something more important to deal with. Namely, how are we going to get contracts? This toad contract is the only one I see, but you've said we are not to sign it. So, what are we going to do?"
Sakura sighed. She had enjoyed giving her lecture -- a guilty pleasure she'd had since she became a ninja was that she always enjoyed showing how much more she knew then just about anyone else her age (something Naruto had often given her the joy of doing) -- but she supposed that Butakatsu was correct. She did need to tell everyone just what it was they were going to do, and then get them all ready to do it.
"Well, we'll be going on a training mission," she began. "And it's going to be a difficult one -- harder then most. In fact, this particular 'training mission' is so difficult it's being offered to you at a C-grade pay rate. It is your choice whether to accept this mission or not, but please note that refusal will almost certainly mean you will be returning to the Academy for retraining as an administrative ninja."
"Where is this training mission to?" Butakatsu asked suspiciously.
Sakura sighed. "I'm... not sure what the place is called. I do know that the only way to reach it, however, is by boat. The arrangements are already made -- go home, pack and prepare for a two week trip, and return here in two hours. We're leaving immediately for a nearby port, where a Wave Country naval vessel will be waiting to take us there. Now, go!" The three genin stood there, gaping at her. Putting a stern expression on her face, she glared at them. "What are you waiting for? You've got two hours!"
They scattered. Sakura paused for a moment, making sure they were gone, and then let the smile she was holding in break out. Hm... seems they follow orders well enough.
* * * * *
"Oog. I feel seasick," Chikan moaned, clenching his stomach.
"Seasick?" the Admiral of the Wave, Kaji, said. Sakura recognized him as the same boatman who took her and the rest of the original Team 7 across to Wave Country in their first ever C-class mission. A curious selection for Admiral, perhaps, but then again, so was making a bridge builder into a prime minister on the face of it, yet Tazuna had proved to be an excellent leader for his people. "How can you be seasick? We still aren't on the boat!"
In fact, they were walking down the pier towards one of the three boats moored to it. The wooden planks creaked and moaned a bit, and perhaps there was some motion to them, but getting seasick just walking down it was ridiculous. Sakura sighed. "We've got a good supply of gari aboard, right?"
"Concentrated ginger pills," Kaji replied. "A tiny bit more effective, in my experience."
Sakura shrugged. "Tsunade-shishou's tests were inconclusive, but they both work well enough. I suspect we'll have to break into those pills pretty quickly."
"We'll have to get him on the boat, first," Kaji noted. "They're all in the medicine chest on board."
Sakura glanced at Chikan hesitantly. As unlikely as it was that someone would be sick from walking down the length of the dock, he did look convincingly green. She didn't want to be the one to help him to the boat, though -- her apprenticeship under Tsunade had lead to be being thrown up on often enough for one lifetime that she didn't want to experience it again if she could avoid it -- but, then again, she didn't have to. Walking past the crumpled heap of ninja, she shot an order over her shoulder.
"Umino-san, Butakatsu, carry him to the boat. We'll treat him there."
"Yes, sensei!" they both replied automatically. Followed by, "Ew," as the sounds of vomitting came from behind her.
* * * * *
"I must say, this is a much nicer boat then the last time we travelled together, Kaji-san," Sakura commented, glancing at the stars as they cruised through the waters at night. "Although most of the company was a bit better... not that I appreciated it as much as I should have at the time."
"Ah, these kids are decent enough," Kaji replied.
"Yes, but Naruto wasn't seasick and throwing up over everything -- and everyone."
Kaji chuckled ruefully. "How many times has he gotten you so far?"
"Just the once," Sakura said. "I've been able to keep my distance from him most of the time, but I wasn't expecting him to throw up when I was handing him his ginger pills."
"You're lucky -- he's got the rest of us at least four times each. He is getting better, though," Kaji noted dryly. "I imagine he'll have his sea-legs by the time he no longer needs them."
"Great," Sakura cheered sarcastically, then shook her head. "I'd hate to see what he was like if we weren't giving him ginger pills. My question, however, is just what the hell is he puking up? I haven't seen him eat anything since before we left on the trip -- he should be giving dry heaves by now, not throwing anything up."
"Water," Kaji explained. "To keep a vomiting man from getting dehydrated, you give them water. The problem is, they can throw up the water you give them, forcing them to drink more water, which they can then throw up. It becomes a cycle... and the only real cure for it is to stop puking. Sadly, this boy seems to be taking a lot longer to get over his seasickness then he should."
"Hm. If you gave him the water intravenously, you'd avoid that problem and he'd be rehydrated a lot more effectively," Sakura mused. "Might even help with the seasickness."
"Unless you have the equipment for it, we can't do that," Kaji pointed out.
"True," Sakura sighed, leaning back against the boat rail to look at the moon.
"He should be fine, though," Kaji said. "The first time I ever saw Naruto-san, I... wasn't very impressed. However, I know he has become a great ninja. I may not be able to see much in this Chikan boy, now, but I've learned never to underestimate anyone."
Sakura chuckled. "I love Naruto-kun dearly, but he does generally make a bad first impression, doesn't he? Sometimes, it takes a while to recover from that bad impression, too. I... overlooked him for years longer then I should have."
Kaji looked at her briefly. "I thought you were interested in that other teammate of yours... Sasuke-san, if I remember his name correctly. The history texts we have now talk of your tears over his wounds, at any rate."
Sakura winced. "Sasuke... is gone. Surely word about him has reached you by now?"
Kaji flushed, turning away. "Dead? Oh, I'm sorry...."
"No, not dead," Sakura sighed. "It probably would be easier if he were. Instead, he's become corrupted -- twisted by both inner demons and outer until he went insane. He's being held in thrall by Konoha's greatest enemy, his desire for revenge being used against him."
"Again, I'm sorry," Kaji replied, bowing his head. "Many of us had hoped for a fairy tale ending for your story with him."
There was a pause before Sakura spoke up again. "There is one, but it's not the kind of fairy tale ending you'd think. I had fallen in love with the wrong man -- Sasuke was never who I believed him to be. What made me fall in love with him was, in large part, a case of mistaken identity. Someone protected me from some bullies when I was very young, and I thought it was Sasuke. I became a ninja because of him... but it wasn't Sasuke after all. It was Naruto-kun...."
Kaji grinned. "Ah. Well, then, all that we have to wait for is a 'happily ever after.' So, when are the two of you getting married?"
Sakura blushed. "Not any time soon. I'm afraid if that's what's required for this to be a 'fairy tale romance,' it's not going to qualify."
The old boatman looked at her curiously. "And why aren't you getting married? Is there a problem?"
Sakura shook her head. "No. I just... just... look, just drop it. I don't want to talk about it." It came out harsher then she intended, but whenever she thought of marriage the panic set in again and she couldn't help it. Her distress didn't go unnoticed, however.
"Very well," Kaji said, standing up quietly. "I am sorry for offending you, Sakura-san. I suggest you get some sleep -- we'll be at the island in the morning. Assuming the location you gave me is correct -- I've never seen it on any map."
"That's because its location is secret, even to most ninja," Sakura replied. "There are no people who live there, as well. When we get there, you will not be able to leave the dock, I'm afraid -- it is forbidden for any to see the land who do not have a mission. Those are not our rules, either, but the island's."
"The island's?" Kaji repeated, curious. "How can an uninhabited island have rules?"
Sakura grinned. "Well, you can't leave the dock... but you'll be able to see enough, I think, that you'll figure that one out pretty fast."
* * * * *
While Sakura had been told what to expect upon landing at the island, she was rather surprised to find what was waiting for her. She knew that it was inhabited by many of the animals who formed bonds with ninja -- both those yet to contract with humans and those who had -- and certainly would not have been surprised to find that one or two could be seen from the dock. She was not, however, expecting a delegation of them to be waiting for her.
"Sakura-chan!" an unexpected, but familiar, voice called from the assembly in front of her.
"Gamakichi-san!" Sakura replied, her voice almost cracking with astonishment. "How... why... I..."
"Good to see you, too," the little frog cracked, hopping down to meet her at the tie-down for the dock.
"Of course I'm glad to see you -- and your friends," Sakura replied, gesturing impatiently to the three horse-sized toads and the elephant-sized slug standing at the other end of the dock. "But how the hell did you know we were coming, and what are you doing here?"
Gamakichi snorted. "It's a bit of a story, but the short version is that Naruto wanted me to help ya, and so I came here to help. Now, we've already got an encampment set up for you and your team, and we've got rides here for you all. I'd like to get to the camp before it's dark, though, so can we get a move on?"
"Um, sure. Although... rides? We can ride the other frogs?"
"No, your students can ride the frogs. Gamabunta won't let you on them, however, unless a toad master is accompanying you -- someone like Naruto or Jiraiya. You are a slug master, after all, and the slugs and the toads haven't always got along -- none of the five greater species do. Slugs and toads get along better then most, but you still can't ride us -- you have to take the slug which Katsuya has 'graciously' assigned as your assistant, here."
Sakura hesitated. "Does Gamabunta have any problems with one of his toad masters dating a slug master?"
Gamakichi laughed. "No, of course not! You're humans, after all, and you have your own set of politics. But here, where our own internal politics matter, it's not a good idea for it to seem as if the toads and the slugs are getting too close -- the others might get, um, nervous. Surely you can understand the politics of appearances?"
Sakura snorted. "Yeah, all too well. I didn't spend my time apprenticing under the hokage not paying any attention to what was going on around me."
"Then you understand why we can't allow ourselves to violate a centuries old principle in the direct view of our allies and enemies if we can avoid it. And the very simple way to avoid it, in this case, is to ask you to ride a slug instead of a frog."
She shook her head. "I wasn't complaining, exactly -- I was just, um, worried about anything which might effect my relationship with Naruto-kun."
Gamakichi rolled his eyes up at her. "Hm. You aren't planning on signing his contract with the toads, are you?"
Sakura blinked. "Um, no."
"And he's not planning on signing yours with the slugs, is he?"
"We're usually taught that signing the contracts for more then one ninja familiar is a bad idea," Sakura pointed out. "So, unless he's come up with some sort of 'brilliant' brainstorm I don't know about, and returned to Konoha in the meantime, probably not."
"Then you're fine!" Gamakichi laughed. "Although, it's not really a problem to sign more then one contract, just make sure that the two tribes are aligned with each other. For example, you have a contract with the slugs, so it would be perfectly acceptable to make a contract with the snails as well."
"I think I'll stick with the 'one contract per person' rule for my students," Sakura replied. "I'm not sure how the alliances work around here, and I'm pretty sure they don't, either."
Gamakichi nodded. "That's okay. But if you and Naruto ever want to be able to share a summoning contracts, I suggest you contact the turtles. A human by the name of Maito Gai has a contract with the turtles in Konoha, I understand -- that's about the only species both the slug tribe and the toad tribe share an alliance with. Well, the only one which contracts with humans, anyway."
"Thanks, but I don't think we'll need to," Sakura answered, bowing her head slightly in acknowledgement. "Besides, I'm afraid of what Gai-sensei would make us do in order to recieve such a gift as the contract. He's a bit, um, overenthusiastic about some things."
Gamakichi nodded hesitantly. "Well... something just occured to me which might, actually, effect your relationship with Naruto in that case."
Sakura frowned. "There is? That... doesn't sound good."
If Sakura didn't know it was impossible for a toad to blush, she would have thought Gamakichi was doing so right then. "Um, well... if you and Naruto, uh, have... kids of your own, you know, I don't think the other animals would appreciate if the child became a summoner for either toads or slugs."
"A... child of our own," Sakura repeated stiffly.
"Um, yeah. So, you might want to get a copy of that turtle contract while you're at it, just so, well, so you'll be prepared," the frog concluded. "Er... assuming there's any chance of that happening."
"Um, right," Sakura replied. "Assuming that there is any chance of that happening."
She was so flustered she almost left without her students.
* * * * *
Notes: Sakura mentions 'gari' at one point. That is the (usually) pink pickled ginger you get with your order from most sushi places. It's good with sushi, but it's also VERY good at relieving stomach aches of the kind associated with motion sickness (and some other kinds as well, in my experience, but I have no data to prove it outside of personal experience). According to Mythbusters (Discovery channel TV show which conducts some more-or-less scientific tests to debunk myths and urban legends, or to prove them), Ginger is actually more effective then what you'd get in a prescription for seasickness, and doesn't give you the side-effect of drowsiness. And is probably more appropriate for this fic then modern medicine, as well. Next chapter: Part 2 of Sakura's experience. Should be the last chapter of Sakura's story in this arc until the wrap-up, but we'll see.