------------------------ ---------------------------------------------------

Wave Country Arc

 

Day 1

Had a really, really, really bad day, one of the worst days ever! I'm too exhausted to write but if I don't do it now I might never get to it. Old Sandaime is obsessive about detailed reports. Crazy old man wants a term paper for each mission. No wonder he's called the Professor.

Today started off well enough, team was on a simple mission to find a lost cat. Then Naruto had to open his big mouth in front of the Hokage and Iruka, demanding a harder mission. What's wrong with D missions? Sure they're easy but it's what you get out of it. Finding and capturing that cat required espionage skills, stealth, and team coordination. D missions are great - I usually get to relax and read my book, watch the genins do all the work, and still get paid!

How we ended with an unpaid A mission is all Naruto's fault! He had to complain to the Hokage who went on and on about all the different mission levels and how they're assigned. The lesson was lost on Naruto who wasn't even listening! Actually, I wasn't listening either. Kinda phased out. After all, I've heard it all before. At least no one noticed I yawned. That's the best thing about wearing a mask.

We were supposed to get a C mission. I knew there would be trouble as soon as I saw our prospective client, the so-called expert bridge builder Tazuna. I wouldn't trust that drunk to build a tower out of legos much less an expansive stable bridge for vehicular traffic. He and Naruto hit it right off - hit as in wanting to put out a hit on each other. At least I got in a lecture on shinobis in other countries - some good info these kids should know. Timid Sakura was afraid of seeing real action but I reassured her that there will be no shinobi enemies in a C mission - famous last words.

Right, it started out as a C mission, but it's always good to be wary. Noticed that puddle of water on the arid ground. Pretty soon all hell broke loose. A couple of mist ninjas attacked. I was able to use kawarimi and hide for a while to see who their target was. They were definitely out to get Tazuna. Had a feeling that sneaky bastard was hiding something.

At least some good came out of it. I was able to access the genins' skills after all these months. Sasuke was very impressive again, showed some excellent taijutsu moves, almost took out the two by himself. Even Sakura showed some guts, but Naruto was a disappointment. Despite all his loud-mouth bragging he froze up. He was injured by the mist-nin's poison claws, but then he had the guts to cut his own hand to release the poison. The cut was quite deep but it stopped bleeding fairly quickly. Lucky brat with the power of the nine-tails, probably be dead by now without it. Was kind of hoping the team would decide to quit and return to the village, but Naruto stubbornly swore to protect the old geezer.

Guess I was pleased to see they wanted to continue even though things might get dangerous. But I didn't realize how dangerous! I thought maybe a B mission upgrade. Then I found out that Gatou the billionaire shipping magnate was involved. This guy has enough money to hire all the shinobis in Konoha! Not that Sandaime and his principles would deal with a guy like that. Sigh, should have turned around right there.

Tazuna's a real smart strategist. He should be a shinobi! Caught me in a no-win moral dilemma using ethical and emotional blackmail. He's only paying for a C mission but this developed into an A mission. Yet we couldn't abandon him to his death, though the wily old geezer deserved it. Worst mission ever!

This is what it means to be a real shinobi, to protect a client with your life, even one who doesn't pay! Not that a shinobi should be motivated by money, but some of us do have extra expenses. I really want that collector's illustrated, autographed, with gold leaf, hand sewn binding, limited edition, 3 volume set of Make-Out Paradise! That would last through repeated readings. Us shinobis only get a percentage of the money collected from the clients. Note: Will have to negotiate with the Hokage for a greater percent on this one.

Back to the mission, we crossed the sea to Wave Country without any problems. I have to admit that bridge was impressive! Looked like Tazuna's reputation was well deserved. On the way to Tazuna's, Naruto was out to prove himself and started throwing his kunais all over the place! Said he detected an enemy but it was only a rabbit. Correction, it was a snow rabbit. His coat was white instead of the brown color it should be in the spring and summer, someone's pet. So Naruto wasn't wrong, I'll have to give him points on that, there was someone following us.

It turned out to be Momochi Zabuza, a missing-nin jounin of Hidden Mist Village, aka Blood Mist Village. He was the boy responsible for killing a hundred students many years ago. His weapon of choice is this huge cleaver-like sword. You know what they say about compensating, ha ha! But seriously, I had to use my sharingan immediately against such a strong enemy. I suspected he could use water clones which my sharingan could easily distinguish.

But I was too soft on him. I gave him a chance to give up. I should have cut him down without giving him any warning, like I would have done in the past. Maybe all those years of killing have caught up with me and I just can't kill impulsively anymore. My mistake, Zabuza took advantage of my hesitation and caught me in his water prison. That put my team and our client in danger. I'm such an idiot!

At least something positive came out of my mistake. Naruto and Sasuke worked together for once and coordinate an impressive plan to help me escape. Naruto's shadow clones were a distraction to hide his transformation into a fuuma shuriken. A clone threw him to Sasuke who realized the plan immediately. He pulled out his own shuriken with Naruto hiding in its shadow as Sasuke threw both shurikens toward Zabuza.

Naruto is smarter than he looks. He did exactly as he should have, not to try and defeat a much stronger enemy, but to release someone who could. Naruto's use of kage bunshin and henge was innovative and excellently executed. Sasuke's shuriken throwing was right on target. Sakura.well she did stand by Tazuna. My little genins are getting so much stronger :) Makes me feel I accomplished something with them.

Once I was released, no more fooling around, Zabuza was going down! Couldn't help but play around with him just a little, to show off my sharingan. But I overdid it. Haven't used my sharingan for so long in a quite a while. Let's see, I did a water dragon justu, a hypnotic genjustu, and water explosion. Oh, and a water clone in round one. That's 4 jutsus within a few minutes. Sigh, pathetic, I should be better than that. I can get off four shots with my chidori. Only the water dragon and water explosion require as much chakra as my chidori. Note: Have to get back into shape.

A Mist hunter-nin showed up before I could kill him. Saved me the trouble, don't need any more blood on my hands. But Naruto flipped out that a kid about his age was so strong. He seemed to be about 14-15 years old. A hunter-nin at that age, not unheard of. After all, I made jounin at 13. Bet I could kick his ass at the same age!

The academy isn't the same anymore. In the past, someone like Sasuke would have been made chuunin already. Sandaime changed the requirements in recent years. He felt we were pushing young children too hard and they weren't mature enough to handle the psychological consequences of being a shinobi. I think it's because of what happened with Orochimaru and Itachi. Geniuses who became missing-nins. Good thing I'm perfectly normal! Sandaime probably feels the village somehow failed them rather than vice versa. He has such a lenient policy on missing-nins, but not my problem anymore, quit the Anbu years ago.

I've been so lazy and out of shape these past few years. Someone like Zabuza wouldn't have lasted more than a second when I was in my prime. Peace will do that to you. Some keep on their toes, training obsessively for the next war. I believe you should enjoy it while you can, but perhaps I was wrong and I should be more wary, who knows when war will break out again.

We're staying at Tazuna's house. He lives with his daughter and grandson. Tsunami's pretty cute, too bad Inari hangs around the house so much, you'd think he'd be in school at his age. Oh well, no time for dalliances.

I was really really lucky today. My team and client are safe. It looks like I'll be resting for a while. But something's been nagging at me, can't quite put my finger on it.

-.-to be continued-.-