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Chapter 18

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random drabbles so i can download shit from scribd
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  Konohamaru laughed as he ran lithely across the rooftops, jumping with a casual ease borne out of years of practice while a panting Sayuri followed him doggedly. “Give it up already kiddo; you are a dozen years too young to catch up to me!” the young  jounin taunted the young girl, making it a point to turn his head and poke his tongue out at her. “Shut…up! I - I am just…not…used…to…these speeds!” the young girl exclaimed between gasps, glaring daggers at her older cousin, her brother… her family.   “I know!” Konohamaru crowed in triumph, “Hence I said: years too young, Sayuri - chan…years too young!”  The young girl just growled and grumbled under her breath and ran harder. Luckily for her, Konohamaru had stopped just ahead near the Market District, not looking even remotely winded. “Ah, finally you make it.” Konohamaru declared in a long -suffering tone, glaring pointedly towards the rapidly rising sun. “Though to be fair, you did make it here before five twenty, so I guess you deserve your prize.” All tiredn ess forgotten, Sayuri bounced excitedly on the balls of her feet, “Oh? What is it?”  Chuckling, Konohamaru crossed his fingers in the seal for a Shadow Clone and created a perfect copy of himself, “Follow my clone to training ground 7. My team is gathering up there and we are going to go over the basics of Chakra Manipulation today, and once the three brats head out to meet their assigned instructors, I’ll meet you at the Bakery, okay? I have had my eyes on a few pastries that I wanted to try with my favorit e niece!” he said, ruffling the aforementioned niece’s hair, much to her chagrin.   “I’m your only niece!” she said crossly, not noticing the slight wince crossing the young Sarutobi’s face. “And I told you to call me your younger sister! Being called a Niece sounds just odd!” she pouted before speaking in a small voice, “Besides, I like calling you an older brother.”  Konohamaru smiled and resisted the urge to hug her. He knew from experience that she would not take that well. But it certainly was difficult to resist when she was being so innocent and vulnerable. Instead, he grinned and playfully pulled at her cheeks, “If that is what my adorable little sister wants, then so be it! I suppose calling you a tiny sister is more fun than merely calling you my niec e.” “I AM NOT TINY!”  The young Jounin had a wide smile plastered on his face as he rapped his knuckles on the doors to the Hokage’s office. Hearing a muffled ‘come in’, he pushed the doors in and went inside, standing in attention in front of Naruto, who was intently poring over some documents. “You had a mission for me?” He asked quietly.    “Yeah, I do. Just give m e a minute. And do return that r eport I lent you, keep it there on my table. I’ll take care of it.”  Nodding, Konohamaru opened his backpack and took out the bound book, giving it a look-over one last time before keeping it near a stack of papers. By that time, Naruto was done with his study of the documents. He looked up and let out a tired yawn. “Sorry for that. Didn’t get enough sleep with these new reports coming in from Wave and Mist.”  Konohamaru stiffened at that, getting his serious face on. “As far as I could make out, the HQ for the fleet was 20 miles away from Wave in a small island, right? Which means that the rest of the pirate fleets lik ely used it as a forward base.” He conjectured.   Naruto corrected him with a small smile, “Not quite. You are thinking like a ninja here. These are pirates; they travel in flotillas carrying their supplies with them. They usually dry dock at a port when they need supplies, and the island base was far too small to deal with multiple fleets. Though, knowing this rabble, it is likely that each of their so called Captains has an island or a hideaway that they call HQ. We have dealt with just one.”   “So there are more?”   “Of course. Mei -chan sent over a list of sailors who have been suspected of piracy in the Land of Water. The pirate that you and Team Gai killed was one Shirahama Kenki, and as you can see from these reports, he is just one out of dozens.”   “We will hunt them down! Where did all of these pop up from anyway? Before the fourth war, these pirates weren’t such a pain in the ass.”   “That is a question that I want answers for too, Kono -chan. From what we could notice, these scums have upgraded their technology rapidly, and we want to know how. There are only a few countries which have this level of technology, and all of them are our allies and close trade partners. I can’t see any of them turning on us, which means that something very fishy is going on .”  With a sigh, Naruto spread a large map on his desk and pored at it intently for a few moments. “See, right here is Seven Bull village. It’s a small fishing community near the Osaka port. It would have never even rated as a blip in our eyes; if not for the fact that they have been regular suppliers to a few merchants who we know have ties with pirates.”  As he pointed out the relevant coordinates, Konohamaru scribbled them down hurriedly in a small notebook for later reference. “Shikamaru has been investigating the area for the past few days along with Temari, who is acting as the official liaison, seeing as how the merchants are srcinally from Suna. Their preliminary report suggests  something far more sinister going on there, and so they have requested for an interrogation expert and a back-up. As you can surmise, you are the back- up.”   “Ah, okay…who is the interrogator then?” Konohamaru asked, half expecting the old dog Ibiki or one of his protégés to walk in at any moment. “That would be me.” A light musical voice declared from outside the window. Konohamaru turned towards the voice and stuttered as a light blush dusted his cheeks. “A -Ah, I-Ino-san? You a- are the interrogator?”   “Of course!” Ino said with a chiming laugh, “I don’t even try, but somehow everyone  ends up spilling their secrets to me. Isn’t that right, Naruto?” she commented in a husky voice as she jumped off the windowsill and walked towards the desk sultrily. “I’m honestly surprised that they are able to talk at all, Ino - chan.” Naruto commented d ryly, looking towards the tongue-tied Konohamaru with amusement. Konohamaru’s reaction was certainly not isolated or unwarranted; Ino had grown up well, and combined with her brazen personality, sharp wit and smoldering looks, she was a veritable heart-breaker especially when she dressed for the occasion. Most of time, she worked alongside Sakura at the hospital, though her primary talents lay in Information Gathering and Interrogation. Knowing the nature of the mission, Ino had dressed in her best and looked ethereal, a veritable vision of beauty. She wore purple colored form-fitting shirt with a few buttons undone, revealing a pale expanse of enticing skin. Over that she wore a reddish long-coat, which settled like a regal cape on her shoulders. The knee- length skirt completed the ensemble, while Asuma’s old Fire Guardian belt held it in place. Sea-green eyes twinkled with amusement from beneath pale yellow bangs. She still had on her traditional ponytailed hair, albeit with an elaborate coral band to lend a feeling of elegance. A small smile graced her pink lips as she turned her gaze towards Naruto. At first glance, she looked casually beautiful, breathtaking even. It was only when you managed to take her in with a calm mind that you noticed the little details, like the long knife strapped on her ankles, or the Tanto blade covered by the long coat. The coat itself held hundreds of poisons and antidotes, stored securely in sealing scrolls. Konohamaru had even heard rumors that her coral hairband was in reality a rare poison. Combined with her acumen and observational skills, she made for a deadly adversary. Grown up well, indeed. “You say the nicest things sometimes Naruto. And hello to you too, Sarutobi - san.” She greeted with a cordial nod. “Uh, uh - huh…hello.”  Naruto slid a packet of documents and transcripts towards the kunoichi, who picked it up with a preternatural grace and began to rifle through the pages.  “I want you to read up on the available information that we have and try to get a feel for the si tuation Ino-chan. Then debrief Konohamaru on your observations and also decide on the travel route. You are expected to depart by late afternoon, and be sure to pack enough for a long journey.”  Ino merely nodded, her attention consumed by the pile of data. Konohamaru looked fairly guilty at leaving his young genin team in the lurch, again. As if sensing his guilt, Naruto spoke up. “Do not worry about your team; Sasuke will keep them in line.”   “Uhh, that’s great…but doesn’t Sasuke - san hate teaching?”   “Exactly.” Naruto smiled beatifically, already imagining his rival’ s reaction to this little tidbit. Konohamaru didn’t have anything to say in reaction to that, though he did ask, “But where do you think we are going?”   “If Shikamaru’s suspicion and my hunch is co rrect: Snow Country. You have your orders, both of you. Are there any other questions? No? Then dismissed.”  Land of Snow, also called the Land of Spring during the appropriate season, had had a long history with Konoha. Many years ago, when the current Feudal Lord of the country was but a child, her uncle Dotou had staged a coup and she had only escaped the purge through the actions of Hatake Kakashi, who was overseeing treaty negotiations at the time. After several years spent in disguise, Koyuki Kazahana, the rightful heir, returned to her homeland only to be abducted by her uncle who believed that she was the key to unlocking Snow’s secret treasure. After many dramatic battles and confrontations, Team-7 led by Kakashi had successfully overthrown the usurper and restored Koyuki to her rightful position. It was during this time that the technology for thawing the cold winters was re-discovered, which marked the beginning of warm relations between the two countries. After Naruto had become the Hokage, the trade exchanges had increased and researchers of the two countries began to undertake joint operations and explorations. Knowing this, it was a bitter pill to swallow that the technologically advanced but vulnerable nation had likely fallen prey to hostile influences once again. Konohamaru snapped out of his reverie when he remembered the promise he made to Sayuri earlier. Hesitantly, he called out to his superior for the mission. “Er, Yamanaka - san?”  Ino, who was intently perusing the mission details loo ked up and blinked owlishly, “Yes? What is it?”   “I was thinking, wait, no…I was wondering whether we would have enough space and privacy at the public gardens to plot out our travel route, and so…”  
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