Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 3 Chapter 42 ( Chapter 52 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 3 Notes: A good point was brought up that showed I goofed on the last chapter, but it can be explained away pretty easily. Kidoumaru can summon spiders, yes. However... remember Sound is a new village -- that would mean many of their higher-level ninja could have come from OTHER villages. Kidoumaru could have been a former missing nin of the Rock, and therefore have once had access to the Spider scroll. There, explanation made. Heh. Just to make things a bit clearer about my challenge: I am asking that you guess the make-up of all three teams -- getting just one right isn't enough. To make things easier, I'll point out that Naruto, Sakura, and Ino are the three captains, and I'll even give you another small hint since I've decided not to do Ino's team after all: Munamoto Sousou and Seiteki Pansuki are on two different teams, while Ekisutora Bangai is an admin and therefore not on any teams (which you probably should have guessed, since I told you her name was 'Extra Extra,' although I suppose you might have also thought she was supposed to be a newsmaker with that name). The TONFA Awards are still going on. Since the restart, I haven't seen anything really worth complaining about... other then that there aren't nearly as many voters voting as before. Go and vote if you want.
Chapter 42
Sakura hesitated. Her genin were all off on their own journeys at the moment, leaving her alone. Umiko was on her way to commune with the horses, Butakatsu was last seen mudwrestling with some pigs (apparently, in order for them to agree to the contract, he had to beat a gauntlet of challengers in contests of strength), and Chikan... hadn't known which animal he wanted, and so was out wandering around to various clans, using Gamakichi as his guide, as he tried to make a choice. The rest of the frogs had remained back at camp, waiting for the return of the genin. Sakura had set off on her own journey, but they refused to come with her. Her slug, however, had managed to guide her where she wanted to go before disappearing. And now... well, now the negotiations were over. She just had to commit herself to the agreement... and she wasn't sure the deal was quite right for what she had in mind.
"I'm afraid that's really my best offer," the turtle she was talking to said. "If you're trying to think of some way to improve it, I fear the answer will be 'no.'"
"Oh, the offer's fine," Sakura admitted. It was, in truth, a standard contract of its type -- a simple sacrifice of some blood in exchange for unlimited power to summon turtles, just as it was for most of the other contracts out there. She'd heard of a couple which required no sacrifice other then some chakra, of course, but those were rare. She'd heard of others -- including the contract with the snakes Orochimaru and, she now feared, Sasuke had both signed -- which required the addition of human sacrifices in order for the snakes to accept 'control' by the snake masters. When Konoha held the snake contract, condemned prisoners were often sacrificed to the snakes... although, once Orochimaru had betrayed Konoha and his papers had been gone through, it was revealed that many more sacrifices were actually required then those condemned prisoners could account for... leading many to wonder just who had been sacrificed, since disappearances in Konoha could not account for the hundreds of people required to feed the contract, as well.
"Then what is the delay?" the turtle asked. "I know you humans think we turtles are slow, but we only move slow. We can get impatient, just like everyone else in the world."
"I'm well aware of that," Sakura replied. "I wouldn't be making this agreement with you if I thought you were slow. I'm just... a bit torn about it."
"Er, it's... complicated," Sakura answered. "There's the whole expiration date thing that's bugging me, mostly. I... I'm not sure I like that aspect of the contract."
"That is fairly standard in these contracts," the turtle pointed out. "We don't like having our contracts just laying about, where anyone could use and abuse them. Especially blank ones -- all we're asking is that you sign it sooner rather then later."
Sakura flushed. "Um... I'm not going to be the one signing this contract."
The turtle, moving faster then he could possibly be expected to move, snatched the contract out of her hand furiously. "What?" he cried. "What are you planning on doing with it, then? Are you selling it to the highest bidder? Our services are not bought that cheaply! You must be the one to sign it, or it is forbidden that you hold it, and you must sign it and perform your first summoning within five years, or else it is void. Those are the rules."
Sakura backed off, holding her hands up in a concilliatory gesture. "Please... could I be allowed to explain before you deny me entirely? I am asking for this because of... exceptional circumstances."
The turtle looked on suspiciously, but nodded. "I will hear your case, but it would be highly... unusual, for any exemptions to be granted."
Sakura took a deep breath. "I was guided here by a slug, as you saw. That is because I am a slug master back in the human world, one of only two currently in existance."
"I was aware of that," the turtle replied. "I doubt the slugs would grant you a ride if you were. I was a bit surprised you wanted a contract with us, knowing how powerful our allies, the slugs, are."
"Your services were recommended to me by another, however," Sakura continued. "A frog -- one by the name of Gamakichi, I believe. The slugs were helping me because I'm a slug master. The toads have been helping me, however, because... my, um, fiance is a toad master."
The turtle frowned for a moment. "Forgive me -- my concept of human relationships is a bit off. What is a 'fiance?'"
Sakura blushed. "Well... it is where two humans -- a male and a female -- agree to get married. To, um, mate, if you will. Which generally means... having children." Her cheeks flushed brighter. "I'm not ready to have children, yet, but... but I'm here, and the only person I know with a turtle contract in the human world -- while a very decent and honorable man -- is a bit strange. I fear what he would ask of us, if we were to ever come to him asking to use the turtle contract, so... since I was on this island, anyway... um...."
His eyes softening, the turtled crept forward. "I think I understand. This contract is no good, however, for your situation -- we will have to draw up another, entirely. And there will still have to be a deadline..."
* * * * *
"Why do we keep visiting the insects?" Chikan complained, shaking his head after Gamakichi made his latest suggestion of talking with the mosquito ninja. "I mean, I don't even like bugs. You even took me to talk with the spiders, and I was told before I got here that I didn't have a chance with them."
"Eh, I was hungry," Gamakichi explained. "The fly are a pretty tasty bunch, and I always like a chance to swallow a spider or two -- they're a real delicacy for us toads! Mosquitos can be pretty good eating, too, you know--"
"No. I don't know. I don't even want to know," Chikan replied desperately. "Look, are you going to help me, or are you going to indulge in your snacking habits all day? And, by the way, it's probably not going to make my negotiations very easy if you eat whatever it is I'm trying to make a contract with."
"Okay, okay," Gamakichi sighed. "Geez! Takes all the fun out of it for me. Okay, so what kind of creature are you looking for, anyway? Despite my, um, real reason for taking you to them, the insect species are incredibly useful. Several human clans have made contracts with them, and those clans generally turn out to be remarkably powerful."
"I just... look, it creeped me out when I saw Daichi-san's centipedes. I'm not likely to use a bug summoning if I'm scared of bugs, am I?" Chikan reasoned. "I'd prefer something... else."
"There's a lot more animals out there then 'not bugs,' kid. You need to be more specific."
"Well... I dunno. I don't know much about ninja animals -- that's why I asked you to be my guide," Chikan pointed out.
"You can at least cut it down more then 'no bugs,'" Gamakichi huffed. "All right, answer a few questions for me, and maybe we'll cut things down a bit. Which do you want more out of a trait with your familiars: Brute strength, speed, stealth, or intelligence?"
Chikan considered that question briefly. "Well... stealth won't be that big a factor. I'll probably never be enough of a powerhouse ninja that I'd be able to summon a creature as anything more then a desperation move, and by that point any stealth I might need would be gone."
"Hm, okay," Gamabunta said. "Shame, really -- I thought you might go for bats, but they're primarily used for stealth and intimidation when summoned, and as a last-ditch move you're probably too gone for the 'intimidation' factor to be important."
"Intelligence would be nice," Chikan said. "Being able to figure out how to get out of a bad situation would be key. Speed, too -- I'll want to be able to run away, if I have to. Strength... well, as long as whatever it is is strong enough to help me make my escape, that's all I need. So average strength, high intelligence, high speed, stealth... completely unimportant."
"Speed and high intelligence. Um, that's a bit of a rare combination, actually," Gamakichi pointed out. "Most species with that are the five great species. I think we're all taken -- although the birds are getting pretty close to filling out their contract, if they haven't already. You wouldn't qualify for the birds, though -- they have certain standards then you don't match. How about the dogs?"
Chikan flushed. "There are a couple dog masters in Blossom, but... I can't use them. I'm, ah, allergic."
"Allergic?" Gamakichi repeated, sighing. "Then you're probably allergic to cats, too, right?"
"Thought so. Nothing too furry, then. Well, there may be one choice, however, that meets your needs...."
* * * * *
Umiko hugged the head of her new companion. She had always loved horses, and the idea of being able to summon one some day (although she had been warned that the foals she would initially manage wouldn't be too useable in battle) had filled her with a sense of great bliss -- the greatest joy, so far, of her entire experience as a ninja. She was so happy, in fact, that she almost missed what her new equine friend was telling her.
"...want a second partner who works well with us horses, I might suggest you approach the birds."
"I'm sorry, Shuuma," Umiko replied. "I missed some of that. What did you say?"
"We horses are usually partner animals -- meaning we allow, and even encourage, our masters to select a second animal to summon, as we tend to work well with them instead of oppose them. If you want a second partner who works well with us horses, I might suggest you approach the birds," Shuuma, the Lord of the Horses, explained. "I heard from the Great Eagle Lord, Shuwashi, yesterday, that the bird clan contract with the Tori clan in Rock country has been completely filled -- not all that unusual for them, since they seem to be completely filling one of those contracts every other year, nowadays. I sense in you the spirit which would attract the birds, so you probably could approach them now and recieve such a contract. I suspect they would approve, if for no other reason then to have an excuse to deny the Tori clan the next time they arrive. The birds only contract with females, as well, and your leader is already contracted to the toads. You are the only one of your companions who qualifies to recieve their boon, so I suggest you take it."
Umiko hesitated. "Sakura-sensei said that it wasn't a good idea to have more then one summoning contract... and I'm not exactly a powerhouse. Could I even manage one of the greater summons?"
"Your teacher speaks true -- without more knowledge then is typically available to humans, it isn't wise to sign more then one such contract. But you have my guidance, which means you will not be contracting with one of our enemies, which is the true danger of multiple contracts -- if you contract with our enemy, you become our enemy... which means you automatically make two enemies who you expect to be your ally. But horses and birds -- particularly eagles -- are great allies. And no bird will become your enemy, even if you were to sign such a contract with their enemies -- birds do not care who the enemy is or the ally is, they will do what they are required to do. That is why even in Konoha, whose greatest enemy has summoned birds for hundreds of years, will enlist birds in their messenger services -- not summoned birds, mind, but trained birds nonetheless." Shuuma paused. "I believe Konoha would consider you a heroine if you were to sign such a contract with the birds -- they have long desired to possess that contract."
"Fine," Umiko said. "Take me to this 'Great Eagle Lord.' I contracted with you so that I could call upon you when I needed help or guidance, and it appears as if you are giving me both already. I am still concerned about whether I have enough power, however, to really control such a contract... but I will accept it, if you think I do."
* * * * *
Butakatsu sat upon his trussed up conquest -- he'd literally hog-tied the hog he was told to wrestle, and was now merely awaiting the return of the High Hog to complete the contract signing, as they had already agreed upon. Movement out of the corner of his eye attracted his attention, but it was not a hog he saw -- it was another human. Or rather, four other humans, and he didn't recognize any of them. All were ninja -- the oldest obviously a jounin. The other three, who all appeared to be rookie genin like he was, consisted of one rather small boy and two girls. They wore he headband of the Rock, which immediately set him on his guard.
"Greetings," the jounin said. "I see from your forehead protector that you are from Konoha."
"Blossom, actually," Butakatsu corrected, slowly moving to reach for a kunai. There wasn't much he could do if they proved hostile -- and, from what he knew, Konoha and Rock were not exactly friends -- but he wouldn't go down without a fight. Hopefully, his origins in Wave country would lend a bit of neutrality to his status as a ninja. "We're a new ninja village, being developed in partnership with Konoha... although we will be recieving contributions from others, as well."
"We've heard of you," the jounin acknowledged, bowing his head briefly. "I am Tori Taka, and these three are my students -- Junko, Suzume, and Kojaku, all of my clan. You have nothing to fear from us, genin -- fighting between humans is forbidden in these lands."
The trussed up pig grunted in a way that made Butakatsu believe the man, but that didn't mean he trusted him to follow the rules. "Sure. So... why are you here?"
"We saw others were on this island, and were curious," Taka replied. "Obviously, you are not here alone, genin. Where are your companions?"
Butakatsu felt uncertain what he should answer. He actually didn't know where they were, so he could answer -- honestly -- and not give away anyone's position. On the other hand... well, who knew what would happen if he revealed he had no-one who could help him if he needed it. There was Kyokuchisaki, the High Hog, who might decide to rescue him if things came to blows... but, until that contract was signed, there was no way to be certain. Perhaps, however, he could pretend he was just being discrete....
"They're somewhere around here," he said as casually as he could, hoping they would believe he just wasn't answering. "What concern is it of yours?"
"It's unlikely it will be of any," Taka admitted. "Blossom, as a new ninja village, likely has no talents who could acquire it, but we are seeking to renew our contract with the birds, as our clan has since the start of its recorded history. Truthfully, only Junko-chan and Suzume-chan can accept it from our team, but I am determined to acquire it."
"I wouldn't worry," Butakatsu replied, deciding he could perhaps reveal a tiny bit of information to get out of this alive without compromising his teammates. "Our jounin-sensei cannot contract with the birds due to a prior contract, and the only other girl on our team is too obsessed with horses to contract with anything else."
A small flicker of something showed in Taka's eyes before he settled down and nodded. "Very well. We shall leave you in peace, genin. I hope to see you again... in peaceful circumstances, of course."
"Of course," Butakatsu agreed, swallowing nervously. That sounded a bit like a vieled threat, but there wasn't anything inherantly hostile in the words at least. "And I, you."
Taka frowned, but then shook his head. "Farewell." With a quick motion, he and his team vanished in puffs of smoke.
Butakatsu breathed a deep sigh of relief. He'd gotten out of that, somehow, and -- he hoped -- not done anyone any major damage. He still wanted to be done with this quickly, however. "Kyukuchisaki... where the hell are you? I want to get out of here."
* * * * *
As a ninja, Sakura knew almost a hundred ways to check the time without a watch. There was the position of the sun in the sky, the length and direction of shadows, mental 'dead reckoning,' the amount of due on the grass, and many more. She had used all of them over the past hour or so, just to make sure, and was now resorting to the watch after all. Every source of telling time let her know the same thing: Her genin were late. Over two hours late, now. She had already seen evidence of other ninja landing at the docks, and so she was growing increasingly worried. The animals here would prevent humans from battling other humans on this island, so they hadn't gotten into any battles against enemy forces... but that didn't tell her anything about what might have happened to her genin. Where were they?
"Sakura-sensei!" A voice called. It was Hiniku Butakatsu -- her least favorite of the team assigned to her, yes, but she was glad to see him anyway.
"Over here! Why are you so late? Report!"
"The High Hog was running a mission for his ally, the horses," Butakatsu explained in a rushed, though competently businesslike, tone. "So he was late returning to give me my contract. I have important news, however -- there is a team of Rock nin here."
Sakura stiffened. "They're from Rock? Hell. The others aren't here yet, but the moment they return we leave. No stopping to talk. Now... since they aren't here yet, we do have some time. How did it go?"
"Not too hard. I could have fulfilled the requirements for obtaining this contract before I even entered the Academy, actually."
Sakura grinned darkly. "Getting the contract is always the easy part. Being able to use it, however, is another matter entirely."
Butakatsu snorted. "Yeah, yeah -- heard it before. May be true, but I wonder if maybe I shouldn't have tried for this contract before attending the Academy. Then I would have been able to work on it for the whole year."
"You would have been too busy," Sakura pointed out. "Until about a month ago, any attempt to perform this technique would have completely wiped out your chakra, and likely knocked you unconscious for about a week. Now... well, you've got enough chakra to practice it maybe once a day -- provided you aren't planning to do much else that day -- without wiping yourself out. If you'd tried practicing it during that 'whole year,' you would have lost valuable time training, and never would have graduated."
Butakatsu looked slightly taken aback, but quickly recovered his casual air. "Well, whatever. Where are the others, anyway? I know I was two hours late."
She looked to one of the frogs that was waiting in the clearing to take them all back to the dock. "Excuse me, sir," she said to... him, she supposed. It could have been a her, but Sakura wasn't really sure how to tell the males and females apart. "But... would you happen to know where the rest of our team is?"
The frog rolled an eye over at her, looking her up and down suspiciously. "No. But I know where Gamakichi, who accompanied one of your students, is."
"Please, where is he?"
"About two minutes from here, to the east," the frog answered. "Moving slowly, but moving."
"Thank you, sir," she said, bowing politely.
"You may be a slug master," the frog replied, "But you are mate to a toad master. While I cannot bring myself to follow your orders or to help you in most endeavors, I will protect your life for his sake. Hearing that the Tori clan is present, I know there is some risk to your life... for they are a treacherous clan -- so treacherous, even the birds aren't comfortable serving them any more despite centuries of history in thier service. I understand they have asked their allies to try and help them out of their contracts, but they are obligated by an unbreakable tradition to give their contracts to the first female to arrive who qualifies and can pass their test. Once they have that contract, however... you and your team will be in danger, for even if they don't attack you on this island they easily could at sea. So, I feel informing you of the likely location of your student to be a matter of protecting your life."
Sakura wasn't sure how to take that, but she kept her astonishment in. Nodding her head politely, she replied, "Thank you, sir. I will note your kindness to... um, my, uh, mate." For the first time, she faltered while talking to the frog, but recovered quickly.
"Not necessary, my lady," the frog replied, bowing his head back. "Your protection, as a human, would be our responsibility while you are on this island regardless. That you are mate to a toad master only makes me more willing to do what I am already obligated to do."
"Still, I thank you."
Gamakichi suddenly hopped on top of the other frog's head. "Yo," he said in greeting.
Sakura's eye twitched. "Er, yo. Tell my, Gamakichi-san, where is my student?"
The little toad snickered. "Well, he's now a dual summoner -- one of the first to appear in over a hundred years. See, there was only one animal which matched what he needed... and that was the dolphin."
Sakura blinked. "Dolphin? A... sea mammal? But... he gets seasick if the dock is rocking too much, and that's not an exageration. How did he get stuck with a sea mammal?"
"Allergies," Gamakichi laughed. "So, he got the contract with the dolphins done, but then he complained that they were utterly useless for his career. So, I took him to the only land creature who happened to be allied to the dolphins and who wouldn't bother his allergies... although only because the allergens would be too covered in dirt. He has a second contract... with the moles."
A rumbling from underground in the center of their clearing signalled the arrival of the second genin. Covered in mud from head to toe, and accompanied by mud and fur covered rodent of some sort, Chikan pulled himself out from a hole. "Hi. I'm guessing Gamakichi has already explained?"
Sakura snorted. "Dolphins? Really, Chikan, you should have just gone to the moles from the start!"
"Well, I was just following my 'guide' to the animals he thought I could contract with. After rejections by several bugs -- possibly because he was eating the people I was negotiating with -- we finally got down to business. I'm not sure I would have picked them on my own, though," Chikan sighed. "But the moles are... okay. I can travel in secret, with them."
Sakura shook her head. "It will have to do. Now... all we need to do is wait for Umino-san."
"Who's here!" called the aforementioned girl, riding in on a horse. "Sorry for being late, but Shuuma, here, suggested I go for a second summon contract."
Sakura knew they had to leave right away, but her curiousity wouldn't let her continue until she found out. "Horses and... what?"
She grinned. "You'll never guess..."
"We don't have time to guess," Sakura snapped. "What is it?"
"Why, the birds!" Umino cackled. "The last contract was full, as it turns out, and I showed up at just the right time... and it turns out that horses prefer I find a second contract to go with--"
Sakura's eyes widened. When the Rock nin who were on the island found out, there was no telling what they would do. "Explain later! Hurry, people, to the toads -- we have to get back to the dock, now!"
"Why?" Umino asked, suddenly concerned. "What's going on?"
Sakura turned to her, grimmacing. "The human ninja clan which has held the contract you just obtained as far back as anyone can remember are here to renew it... and you just took it out from under them. When they find out...."
Shuuma, without even waiting for Ran Umino's direction, started running already. The frogs didn't wait, either -- they quickly grabbed Sakura and the other two genin, and started moving.
"I thought you weren't supposed to let a slug master like me ride you," Sakura said, once she'd found her balance on her new mount's head -- the frog she had been talking to earlier.
"My lady... I meant what I said about your protection being that important to us," he said. "This has happened once before. The humans involved... well, let's just say that their deaths were the cause of our forbidding humans to fight while on this island."
Sakura swallowed. "I... thank you, again, sir."
"My lady... this is a matter of survival. No thanks are necessary."
* * * * *
Notes: Name translations! Tori is bird. Taka is hawk. Junko... well, I don't know if that is really the Japanese for it or not, but we have a lot of junko birds that peruse our birdfeeder in these winter months. Suzume and Kojaku are both different words for sparrow. Shuuma is a composite of two words -- lord and horse. Shuwashi is also a composite of lord and eagle. Kyokuchisaki is two words --big (kyo) snout (kuchisaki). And... I think that's it. Again, I may be misusing these words, as I'm pulling them from an on-line Japanese-english dictionary, but I don't think it should matter considering they're just names. Don't rely on me to teach you Japanese -- I know some, having studied the language a bit, off and on, over the years, but I've never mastered it to a functional level and my vocabulary is... very limited. Major hints for Volume 4 in this volume. For the record, the team from Rock won't be back until then. Everyone else, however, will be around for a while. Next Chapter: Naruto's turn.