Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 3 Chapter 43 ( Chapter 53 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 3 Notes: Merry Christmas, everybody. As a present, here's another chapter to read. Nothing especially Christmas-themed about it, but I figure you all will enjoy it anyway.
Chapter 43
Naruto took the intelligence report from his spy inside of the administration building. He was very distracted, thanks to the disaster which had been the first day of his training his team, but he remembered to thank the boy before he left. It was possible, with a bit of work, that his trio of genin could master elemental techniques. He didn't think it was possible, though, for any of them to become ninja -- not if the terrible performance sparring he saw that morning was any indication. To make matters worse, he had to head home knowing that Sakura was on a boat to... well, he didn't really know where, but she wouldn't be home -- that was for sure.
His pace home was tired and slow. He was feeling bored -- very bored -- and cranky, and frustrated, and... and any number of other things which could usually be solved just by seeing Sakura's smiling face. With a sigh, he entered his apartment and closed the door behind himself. He fixed himself dinner (cup ramen, since he wasn't really feeling up to the trouble of fixing the higher-quality ramen Sakura had started keeping around for him, that required several extra steps to prepare) and sat down to eat.
It was then he felt the twinge which indicated Sakura was burning chakra. A considerable amount of chakra, in fact, but not so much that she seemed to be in any danger. Still....
Hey, fox, the boy thought, approaching the kyuubi inside his mind. What's going on?
Nothing much, brat, the fox replied. One of her genin is sea sick, and she's trying to help him. I think she's a bit frustrated, because he just threw up on her.
Oh, poor Sakura-chan! he thought. Hey... you think there's anything we can do to help her? You know, boost her chakra or something like that.
And what would she use that extra chakra for -- removing the stains from her clothes? Kyuubi thought back sarcastically. That would be useless, idiot child, but perhaps we could help her on her mission. She's on her way to the island where all of the creatures ninja can summon hold their embassies to the humans -- she wants to get some fresh new contracts, and that's about the only place to get them. Maybe you could ask your pet frogs to help her?
Hm... yeah, maybe I'll do that after dinner! Naruto mused. Thanks, fox.
Whatever, brat. She's my mate, too, now, so of course I'd help her if I could. You, on the other hand....
Naruto laughed, knowing how empty a threat that was, now. For once, he felt cheered up by the kyuubi, and decided to move on to the reports on his table as he ate. After reading through a few dry economic forecasts which amounted to little new information, if any, he didn't already know and make provisions for should Kakashi fail to act upon them -- although, since returning to Blossom, the jounin-oyabun's economic plans had bordered on brilliant. It lead Naruto to have a few suspicions, but however much he felt 'on the outs' with his former sensei, at the moment, he still wouldn't believe that those suspicions could possibly be true.
The first page of the 'Shared Intelligence' packet, however, stunned him cold. Shared Intelligence was that information shared by Konoha and Blossom's allies, including Sand, Waterfall, Rain, and now the Rainbow. None of those ninja villages could keep an eye on the entire world on their own, and so they needed to rely on one another for the information on certain regions... and the report of the Sand, which covered much of Wind country in addition to several smaller border nations, proved to be very interesting, indeed....
There was a lot of confusion, and obviously the report had been heavily redacted to protect Sand's internal security, but the important details came through loud and clear. A Sand jounin, Baki -- the man who had been in command of Gaara's own team when he was a genin -- was assassinated. The attacker was quickly identified as a missing nin out of Konoha by way of Blossom -- Uzuki Yuugao. She had the support of another missing nin who Naruto knew very well -- Uchiha Sasuke. Baki was the only one killed, although there were many people injured as Yuugao and Sasuke made their escape. No amount of tracking helped them to find the target, however they had backtracked his movements fairly well.
Akatsuki had taken a large blow. As a secret organization, few of the members were known, but two of the three known members had been found dead -- Deidara, whose head was taken off of his body and put on a clay statue, apparently as a sick joke, and Kisame, his samehada sword run through his own gut. Others had been identified as support personnel, lower-ranking Akatsuki members, and others. The brutality of the attack was... horrible, even knowing that the Akatsuki probably deserved it. Even a hardened ninja could be sickened, one report said, by what was found in that building. Itachi, apparently, had escaped.
A knocking on Naruto's door brought him out of the report. "Naruto-sama," the voice of a civilian messenger in the administration's service called. "Kakashi-sama is requesting your presence. He says he has important news."
Naruto stared at the classified report he had been reading, eyes wide. "I'll bet...."
* * * * *
"Look, you might want to learn fire-based techniques, but I don't know any! Well, I know one, but all it's useful for is making campfires -- I can teach you some really cool earth-based techniques, and some decent water-based techniques... I could even set you on the right track towards some wind-based techniques, if you really want. But fire?" Naruto shook his head. "I learned everything I could to counter fire-based techniques, not to use them. So why are you being so obstinate about this?"
Hiyowai Shiro, the genin who had drawn the straw that gave him the morning session of individual lessons with him, sniffled a bit before he replied. "I want to learn how to make a campfire. I don't do well with the cold, and both earth and water techniques sound... cold to me."
"But you need these elemental techniques in order to fight as a ninja, not to make a camp," Naruto explained. "There are other ways to make a campfire, you know."
Shiro shrugged. "Give me a campfire, and I'll be able to do a lot."
Naruto shook his head. "Fine. I'll teach you the one fire technique I know. You'll have to build it up from there, however -- I'll do whatever I can to help you, but if you continue to pursue fire techniques there's not much I can do. But I'm going to insist you learn at least one technique I can actually help you with -- got it?"
"If I must have another, then I want a wind based technique. Wind and fire should work well together," Shiro replied.
Naruto almost complained, again, because his wind skills were fairly limited as well, but in the end he sighed and just shook his head. He was tired of this argument, which had been going on for three days, and he'd at least managed the one concession. "I'm working for three hours each with all of you who've been given to me to train for intense training, before the one hour group session in the evening. It'll get pretty boring, though, considering the limited number of techniques I can teach you that you're willing to learn. We'll just be drilling those until you get them perfect... and I'm not sure I'm willing to get that bored. So, how about we spend half of each session giving you physical training, huh? All three of you could use it, and I have time to help you with that."
Shiro grinned ruefully. "Sorry for being so complicated, but I really don't want to work with either water or earth techniques. Sure, physical training sounds fine. And you're right -- all three of us could use it. You might want to make the same offer to Kasuka-san and Rouhi-san."
"Well, you're all getting some special physical training -- I don't think you'll manage it as ninja, otherwise -- but how much depends on how many elemental techniques I can work with you on."
Shiro smirked slightly, although on his sickly face it didn't look very pleasant. "Looks like I made the right choices, then -- I think if I learn the techniques you teach me very well and build myself up physically, the quality of my techniques will outwiegh the quantity the others will probably learn."
Naruto stiffened. Over all his time training and preparing to battle Sasuke, he knew he would never match the quantity of techniques any sharingan user could master. He had chosen, long ago, to rely on quality, instead. Shiro's declaration reminded him of that decision at a time when Sasuke was very much on Naruto's mind. "Yes... quality over quantity." Then he shook his head. "Then again, none of the techniques you're asking me to teach you are exactly high-quality elemental techniques."
"So? I'll innovate," Shiro shot back. "A match isn't exactly a powerful weapon. Neither is a can of spray oil. Together, you can make an improvised flame thrower..."
Naruto smirked. "A ninja thinks underneath the underneath -- that's the first thing Kakashi-sensei told me as a genin. Yes, I suppose even a campfire could be useful in ninja combat, if you use it just right... and maybe we can experiment to see if we can improve that technique, huh?"
* * * * *
"Better, Rouhi, better," Naruto said. Kainashi Rouhi was, in fact, the best elemental user of Naruto's training team. He'd done remarkably well in picking up the water techniques Naruto had taught him, and was surprisingly adept at pulling them out quickly when needed. He did have a problem, though, with his water clones -- they all looked thinner, paler, and weaker then they should have... but now, they seemed to be working. "That's enough technique work for today. Time to move on to physical training. How's your leg rehabilitation coming?"
"Okay," Rouhi replied uncertainly. "It's healed just fine, but it tires too quickly for me to say it's really doing well. I've found I... don't react well to medical ninjitsu, unfortunately -- while my bones knitted together quickly enough, my muscles got weaker very quickly. After several recent 'therapy' sessions, we've determined that I... should avoid the accelerated healing of medical ninjitsu from most injuries, since that seems to cause my muscle mass to atrophy. I'm told it's not unheard of, although it is incredibly rare. It's something like a 'reverse bloodline ability,' or something like that, but it isn't necessarily genetic -- meaning there's a good chance my children won't have the same problem, thank goodness."
Naruto winced. "Right. Well... that might make sending you out on missions rather... hazardous."
Rouhi sighed. "I know. I figure this training is going to be a bit of a useless waste, because I'm almost certainly going to be shifted into administrative work for medical reasons. I'd like to learn enough, though, so that if I'm called upon to act in the admin ninja's capacity as a reserve force, I can excel... and, perhaps, if I know elemental techniques well enough, I'll be able to form a 'ninja clan' with my children some day and have something to pass down to them."
Naruto grinned slightly. "Clans are a bit overrated -- family is the important thing. Pass it down to your kids, yes, but don't go thinking up all that 'clan' garbage. That's why Konoha's in such big trouble, right now -- too many people who are clan-oriented all trying to control things, and no-one strong enough to know some sense into their heads either."
"Yeah, you've said that before. I don't really think the flaw is the clan system, though," Rouhi mused. "The flaw is the clans themselves -- they're all to isolated from one another. A clan needs to be willing to intermarry with other clans, to adopt orphans, to teach the clanless, and to work with other clans. In Konoha... that has all disappeared. I'll bet there's never been, say, an Inuzuka who's learned the Yamanaka clan's techniques, or visa versa, as well as their own... but there should be."
"Not necessarily," Naruto said. "The Hyuuga have serious problems due to their isolation, but intermarriage might not be the cure. In fact, Sakura-chan seems to think them intermarrying with other major bloodlines could cause their descendents to go insane. And, well, there's no way to remove the clan system in Konoha any more. We'll work out some sort of clan structures here in Blossom, too, but... they won't be quite the same. Clans won't inherit government positions they might not be entitled to, their principle purpose will be for education, inter-clan squabbles will be forbidden by law -- which may not really stop them, but should at least keep them less obvious and therefore less likely to involve the entire village like the current Hyuuga civil war does -- and we will have an organized structure in place for the clanless. It might not be perfect, but at least with those reforms we might avoid the problems Konoha's been having lately. A big part of the problem is the belief that some clans are better then others, and the inability to create new clans -- the clanless and intermarried clans could both make new clans, if it were allowed in Konoha."
"Still," Rouhi replied. "I'd like to be known as a clan founder -- to have children to pass a legacy down to and everything."
Naruto smiled wistfully. "Yeah... having a family sounds... nice. I think I want children, too."
"And make your own clan, perhaps?" Rouhi asked.
Naruto paused, considering. "Well... perhaps...."
* * * * *
It was the end of the three hour session with his last student that day, Yowamushi Kasuka, and Naruto wasn't quite sure what to say. His physical training skills were excellent -- not on the level of Gai or Lee (although, perhaps if he was pushed properly, he could get there), but to a degree that he would be a pretty good ninja... if he could execute any ninja techniques successfully. He seemed to know them, and could perform the physical motions successfully, but they weren't really coming out. He wasn't like Lee -- he had the potential to perform ninja techniques -- but he just wasn't succeeding.
"You've got a number of problems," Naruto finally said in his final evaluation. "To begin with, you're a combination of bad traits. In all of Konoha, I probably graduated with the worst chakra control around, but the greatest chakra stamina. Sakura-chan, on the other hand, was the opposite -- she had the best chakra-control in the history of the Academy, but the worst stamina. Someone who could combine her control with my stamina could be a more powerful warrior then... then, say, the strongest of the greater demons."
Yeah, right, Kyuubi thought. Nothing's more powerful then I am....
"You, on the other hand... have Sakura-chan's stamina and my control. I know you've got the academic background for ninja work, but... you don't really seem to have many of the other traits required," Naruto finally said. "You need a lot of work... and I'm probably not the best person to teach you what you need to know. Not really."
Yowamushi Kasuka, who was really a bit of a loner only known for having graduated almost entirely due to his academics (although he managed to -- barely -- perform a passable bushin no jutsu during his final exam, proving he wasn't entirely without talent), gaped at him. "But... but you're Uzumaki Naruto-sama! Not just the legendary ninja who saved Wave Country--"
Naruto winced. He didn't exactly like how his reputation was in Wave country -- he still hadn't gotten used to the hero worship, and still felt like it was almost as bad as when he was universally hated in Konoha. "I hardly deserved 'legendary' status back then."
"--but you're the man who wiped out a village full of Grass ninja single-handedly, who took down the infamous assassin, Gashir, and who just spent a year teaching me and the other students just about everything we know about ninjitsu! You... you have to teach me!"
Naruto was reminded of his own pleas, trying to pry some training from the hands of his own jounin-sensei, Kakashi... although he wasn't quite as scary about it, he hoped. In his own case, it turned out to be a good thing he didn't get that training -- after all, he wouldn't have met Jiraiya if he hadn't -- but it could have turned out fairly disastrous if not for a series of remarkable coincidences which lead him into the care of one of the sannin. Perhaps, though, he understood his former teacher just a little better -- it was unlikely that if he pawned this student off on someone else, he would turn out as good, but Naruto wasn't sure what would happen if he did. Jiraiya wasn't likely to take up another apprentice any time soon, and there weren't exactly any 'good fits' in Blossom to teach the boy what he really needed to know. The problem was, Naruto wasn't exactly a 'good fit,' either, and the closest two people he could think of were Sakura -- who was currently, according to kyuubi, a day away from the island she had set out towards -- and Ebisu, who was too busy to teach anyone anything at the moment as he was currently leading one of Blossom's first true B-class missions, now that they had the personnel to manage it from time to time.
Besides... he knew what it felt like to be foisted off on another teacher as if he was little more than a bother. "I'll teach you," Naruto finally said. "But, like I said, I'm not really the person who best knows what you need to know. But let's see what we can do, huh?"
"Thank you, Naruto-sensei!" Kasuka replied, speaking a bit louder then he needed to. "Um, so... how do I correct my problems?"
Naruto shook his head uncertainly. "I'm not sure. See, I eventually managed to correct my control problem through a series of exercises that eventually lead to one of my more powerful techniques -- the rasengan. That is a technique that requires I have 100% control of my chakra, and that... was very hard for me to figure out. The person who originally created the technique spend three years on it. I only took a few weeks to get it working, but it took me years to perfect it. Ero-sennin never said how long it took him to master the technique, but I gather it was about a year, himself. The thing is... learning the technique, even just to get through the part that teaches you control, requires more chakra than you'll probably ever have."
Kasuka looked down, sighing. "So, I'm hopeless?"
"No, I wouldn't say that," Naruto replied. "But it's going to be very hard. I know a few training techniques which should help -- tree climbing and water walking -- but, well, it'll take a while for you to learn even those. You really should have gone for the taijutsu specialty -- elemental techniques are a bit beyond you at this stage of your development."
"Taijutsu isn't enough," Kasuka replied. "How can you be a ninja without knowing, well, ninja techniques?"
Naruto smirked briefly. "I really need to introduce you to a ninja by the name of Rock Lee. One of the best ninja I know, and he can't perform a single true ninja technique... but, okay. So you think you need to know elemental techniques to be a good ninja -- I can respect that. Don't really agree with you, but I can respect it. But we're going to really work on your taijutsu, too, because it'll take years of work for you to build up the chakra capacity for your elemental techniques to be really usable, and you're going to need something in the meantime...."
* * * * *
Naruto grinned at his three students. It was the last day of their two week training period -- in fact, it was the last hour, since they had already had their three hour individual sessions that day. He was proud of them all -- he would gladly have any of them on his team, and was hoping they would continue to work on thier ninjitsu regardless of whether they made it into one of the three permanent teams or whether they were shunted into administrative positions... and he would encourage all three of them to do so, as long as he was still in Blossom.
"You've all done well," Naruto said, opening the session. "Very well. And now, it's time to see just how well you all have gotten...."
"Yes, sensei?" Yowamushi Kasuka asked enthusiastically. Well, there was one thing Naruto wasn't exactly happy with -- Kasuka turned out to be a bit... overenthusiastic, sometimes, with his hero-worship. Well, at least it seemed to hide itself when he was actively training.
"It's a bit of a tradition," Naruto eventually said, deciding to ignore Kasuka for now. "For Konoha ninja to undergo something known as a 'bell test,' or its equivalent. Chances are, with the way we're doing things this round in Blossom, your final teams won't be taking the bell test... but I think maybe I'll let the bunch of you try it, just to see how you would do." He held up a couple small bells with a grin and jingled them. "Now, I'm going to tie these to my belt. Your job will be to try to take them from me. There are two bells and three of you, so guess how many of you can pass?"
The trio of new genin looked at each other in disbelief. "But, sensei!" Kasuka cried. "You're the Naruto! How in the world are we going to be able to beat you?"
Naruto winced, but nodded as he set up a one-hour timer. "Well, I'll be limiting myself... a bit. You still need to figure out the trick to beat me, though -- there is a trick to it, after all. My own team managed to pass the test without getting the bells, simply because we were able to demonstrate we'd figured out the trick... but all you really need to do is get the bells."
Shiro sniffled. "I hope this doesn't take too long -- it's cold out here, and I'm not exactly at my best in this cold."
Naruto laughed. Shiro was always talking about the cold and the weather, how he hated getting wet and hated getting muddy. How his health was always terrible... but, as Naruto was quick to learn, his ailments were not truly debilitating and his complaints were all for show. In essence, he'd been using his natural sickly palour to help him skip classes for a full year, now, and a village full of ninja were fooled by him.
"Well, there is a time limit, of course," Naruto pointed out. "When I took the test, I had three hours. You all have just one, though... so make the most of it. Begin."
In the split second it took him to start the clock, all three had hid themselves. Naruto glanced around, both pleased and disappointed -- he was glad to see that they had all managed to conceal themselves fairly well (although he suspected, had he really tried hard, he could have found them all easily enough), but disappointed that none of them had pursued his angle of winning the bell test: Direct confrontation of the examiner. Considering their lack of time, it would probably be a good idea for them to do so, but it seemed they weren't going to attempt it. Not that way, at least.
Hmm, what I really need is a book, like Kakashi-sensei, to provoke them into attacking. Probably wouldn't do for it to be ecchi, though -- Sakura-chan wouldn't like that, He thought. "You all can hide all you want," he called. "Just remember this test is over in an hour." With that, he yawned widely, stretching to present the appearance of leaving a number of openings. No-one bit on that little farce, however, so he walked over to a tree and sat down. "If none of you are going to take the opportunities I hand out to you, I'm just going to take a nap."
Naruto closed his eyes, and grinned slightly as he felt three sets of shuriken approaching from three different direction all in the same moment. Grabbing a nearby log, he performed a quick kawarimi no jutsu, allowing the shuriken to hit his transformed replacement as he identified the hiding place of each genin. With a quick tuck and roll, he went after the person he'd identified as the most talented of the trio, Rouhi, and leapt at him with a quick flying kick. Rouhi managed to dodge out of the way, and backed off further then he should have. That tipped Naruto off that something was up right before the genin pulled a wire that would have snagged a bell right off his belt, had he not realized something was happening soon enough. Another roll helped him to avoid the problem, as he sent a kunai Rouhi's way.
"Come on," he heard Shiro call. "None of us can beat him alone -- let's triple team him."
Naruto grinned. Well, one of them got it -- would the others follow suit?
The battle continued on, as the three indeed co-operated under Shiro's leadership for quite some time. Seconds before the hour was up, and therefore the battle was over, Naruto decided to award the boy for the proper guess. He quickly -- before any of them noticed it -- pulled one of the bells off of his belt, himself. Glancing at the timer from time to time to make sure he was doing everything precisely right, he waited until there were only two seconds left... and then tossed the bell to hook on Shiro's clothes.
"Shiro got it, first, and so deserves the reward," Naruto called the moment the timer went off. "But you all pass."
"Does that mean we'll all be active genin?" Shiro asked.
Naruto hesitated. "Not... necessarily."
* * * * *
Next chapter: The conclusion of the arc, as the genin are evaluated and the permanent teams are assigned.