Chapter 14

"So how big of a greenhouse are you going to build?" Terry asked his friend as they worked on brewing potions to restock the apothecary’s inventory.


Looking up from where he was brewing, Naruto smiled at his clones helping teach his family how to brew the simpler potions they sold before answering, "Well, I was thinking about covering the entire new property in one massive outer greenhouse. Then there would be sections for the different habitats the plants would need. I could also further subdivide each habitat into fourths so I could recreate four distinct seasons."


Terry whistled at the projects sheer size, "That is going to take a lot of Rune engraving to pull off. It’s going to take years to do without hiring some Rune masters to help out."


Chuckling, Naruto added the next ingredient and stirred carefully before reminding his friend of the obvious, "Your forgetting one of my most unique abilities." He used his stirring rod to point out all the other copies of himself that were brewing and at his clones helping Miharu and the rest of the kids with their English lessons.


"Oh," Terry grinned sheepishly as nodded in understanding. "I envy you in a way."


"Why?" Naruto looked over his cauldron with a surprised expression on his face.


Fidgeting slightly, Terry decided to be honest, "I asked dad to build a greenhouse half the size of the one you are planning to build, and he said no. Even under our powerful wards he's not sure we could protect the contents if someone attacked us to steal our plants." Looking Naruto in the eyes he asked, "how do you plan to protect your greenhouse? Especially as it will not be behind the type of wards our estate has."

"I changed one of the Rune Arrays I found that was designed to siphon energy from the environment," Naruto got an excited gleam in his eyes as he described what he created. "The idea I was going for was to create a rune array that would take Chakra or energy that was attacking the array and use it to strengthen the protections. It took a bit of experimenting, and I had to come up with a battery array to filter the huge influx of energy into, so the array was not burned out; but I came up with a design that finally held up to everything I could throw at it."


"Does Uncle Harry know about it?" Terry asked with a flabbergasted expression on his face. "Wait. Just how far ahead of me are you?"


Looking down at his cauldron, Naruto was afraid Terry was going to be mad at him, "Shadow clones return to their creator everything that they learn." Wincing he shrank in on himself as he whispered, "I've gone through everything in Nii-sans library."


"You're so going to help me with my homework," Terry told him. Seeing how Naruto was acting he told him, "I'm not upset with you Naruto, just surprised. BUT," he wagged his finger at him, "I want the design of the new array and all of your testing notes. If it will work with our type of energy manipulation I'll be able to talk my dad into building my greenhouse finally."


Looking up in shock, Naruto let a shy smile cross his face as he relaxed. Even after all this time he still had a few issues to work through. Nodding his head he pulled the cauldron of energizer potion off the heat to let it cool down to be bottled up.


Looking at the time Terry quickly packed up his station, "I'll stop by tomorrow after dad and Uncle Harry have hashed out if it will be safe for me to go to Hogwarts with the rest of my age mates."


"Safe?" Naruto scrunched up his face as he looked up at Terry. "Why wouldn't this Hogwarts place be safe for you?"


"Politics mostly," Terry frowned as he looked back at Naruto. "Dad hasn't said anything yet, but, I've overheard mum on enough occasions talking to dad about what is going on in my world that I am worried. The things those in charge are doing to try to get Uncle Harry's attention are frightening. They're going to get his attention alright, and when they do he is going to be pissed."


"And you are afraid they might try to use you as leverage?" Naruto asked as he wondered if he could hire several missions to extract Terry if things went bad. Then again he thought, as he remembered the day Nii-san removed Danzo's soul, Nii-san would probably destroy anyone who harmed Terry. Walking next to his friend as they neared the portal so Terry could go home, he stopped Terry by placing a hand on his shoulder, "If you do go to this Hogwarts place see if Nii-san will make you a set of mirrors like he made for me, that way you can escape if needed."


"Dad already made a set for me to use," Terry grinned as he touched the portal and it shimmered. "See you tomorrow," he said as he stepped through the portal.


Staring at the portal, Naruto wondered if the Runes he had come up with to protect his greenhouse would work with the type of Energy Terry and his people used. If so, he could carve a bracelet or something for Terry to wear so he would be protected. As soon as he saw Nii-san he would have to ask him about it.


Placing the last vial in the appropriate holder, Naruto glanced at the clock and saw he had half an hour before he was supposed to meet up with his team. Moving past the counter, into the part of the store not under Nii-sans wards, he spotted several people outside the shop; it looked like they were waiting for him to open. Unlocking the door he saw that almost all of them were active Shinobi. Opening the door as he flipped the sign to open he nodded in greeting to several of those he knew in passing, almost all of them quickly grabbed empty field kits from the shelf before heading to the counter and pulling out their lists.


"Ah, Naruto," Neji bowed his head slightly as he entered the shop. "Hiashi-sama has asked me to pass along a message. If you have time today, please stop by to talk with him about your purchase?" Neji made the request into a question because he was curious about what Naruto could have bought from his family.


"I can do that," Naruto grinned at the curiosity rolling off of Neji. "I have a meeting with Jiji this morning, so I'll swing by after it’s over." Lowering his voice, as the crowds started coming into the shop in earnest he told him, "I've bought the land behind mine all the way to your northern border..." trailing off as an Anbu appeared right outside his shop, he stiffened when the Anbu looked around and spotted him and started to sign towards him. It seems that Jiji needed to talk to him right away. Frowning he turned to tell Neji he had to go and smiled when Neji told him to go.


Spotting Naruto stiffen, Neji looked over his shoulder and spotted an Anbu operative signing at Naruto. Once again he was reminded of the fact that Naruto was not who he appeared to be. Waving off Naruto's attempt to apologize for having to leave he told him, "Go. Evidently you are being summoned for a mission or something important."


Nodding his head, Naruto flickered from the shop and a blink later appeared in the Hokage office. Scanning the room he spotted several people he did not know among several clan heads, including the Inuzuka matriarch. Judging the situation as one that he needed to be very formal he said, "You needed me Sandaime Hokage?"


"Indeed I do Naruto," Sarutobi said as he hid the pride that he felt when Naruto showed how much he had grown. Before the Ryuu, Naruto would not have been able to judge a given gathering to tell how he should act, now he not only could, but was able to do so with a quick glance. "I am loathe to assign this mission to you, but your unique skills and gear make it so this mission has to be assigned to you." Seeing Naruto raise one eyebrow he did allow his smile to show, "I need you to lead two teams to a small village near Tanzaku Gai. There you will meet up with Jiraiya to escort Tsunde, his team mate, back to Konoha."


"I see," Naruto said darkly as he mulled over the fact that he was to meet with his godfather. His absentee godfather who ignored him in favor of perving on women, writing smut and who else knows what as he did his job as spy master for the village.


Knowing exactly what Naruto was feeling by his dark look, Sarutobi smirked as he told him, "As long as he is still breathing and able to listen to me as I tell him about his failures, I don't mind what the rest of his condition is Naruto. So if you wish to explain your displeasure of what he has done feel free within those guidelines." Seeing Naruto nod, more of a jerk he thought he told him, "This is classed as a B class retrieval mission that will be bumped up to A class once you reach Jiraiya and Tsunde. So your badge of office needs to be worn at all times." Seeing the slight widening of Naruto's eyes he nodded to the unspoken question, it was time to start to let some of his Shinobi know who Naruto was. Seeing Naruto pull the Velcro off his pocket, showing the badge that proclaimed that he was the Sixth Hokage, he sent Naruto a smile as his eyes shown with pride. "As soon as you have chosen your teams, you need to leave. I need all of you back in two weeks, no longer. We will only have a week to prepare for the Chuunin exams, and I need you to take part of the third stage of the exams."


"Hai, Hokage-dono," Naruto gave the typical salutation given between high ranking equals after pulling the Velcro cover off his badge of office. Nodding his head towards Jiji he did a text book about face and made a note of the surprised looks on several faces for further contemplation as he left the office. Pulling his mask out of the seal, he attached it to his face as he passed the Sandaime's secretary. Making his way to the mission office he strode into the room as it went quiet, all eyes snapping to look at him as he strode over to the Chuunin manning the mission desk. Finger trailing down the list of available teams, and as much as he would like to fill out the two teams with high ranking Jounin that could deal with Tsunde's super strength, he tapped the name of a hunter nin team as he considered whether it would be a good idea to include a Genin team. "This team and..." On the one hand it would give him people who were relatively unknown to infiltrate the town; on the other they would be more vulnerable and easily spotted by Tsunde. The question was, did the advantage of stealth a Genin team would give them override the risk involved. As he was trying to decide between just picking four people or grabbing a Genin team from the roster Team Gai along with Kakashi and his team walked into the mission office.


Looking over as he heard Sakura questioning Kakashi on why he was not part of their team for the next week, he smirked as he heard her fish for information on his rank. Amused, he watched Kakashi stiffen in shock as he spotted him standing there. He almost missed the look Neji sent his way. But he did not miss the fact Neji seemed to recognize him, with his mask on he should have been just another Shinobi. Glancing back at the roster he cursed silently as he noticed the stain from this morning on his left sleeve. Neji must have spotted it and put the clues together. Making a snap judgment he looked at Gai and asked, "Gai? Do you feel your team is up to a B class retrieval mission that has the chance to turn A rank if things go badly?"



Freezing in place when he heard a voice call his name, Gai noticed the silent stares directed his way and turned serious. If the Sixth was asking if his team was up for a mission there must be good reason why he needed a team of unknowns. Eying his team with a critical eye, Neji looked shocked to one who knew the lad, but he did not think it was because of the mission. His adorable student was vibrating in pleasure and muttering about how his teams youth shown like the rising sun. While Tenten looked contemplative, as if she was cataloging all her weapons to see if she had enough with her for this mission. Finally before the silence grew too much he slowly nodded his head, his team was ready. "Hai, Hokage-sama. Team Gai is ready for such a youthful honor."


"Meet Hunter team Kappa at the main gate in an hour. Pack for a two week mission," Naruto told them as he nodded his head. The hunter team was mainly Jounin's so they should be able to protect three Genin if it came to it. Not that he planned to let it come to a fight. "I plan to pick up our party and return to Konoha within a week at most, but just in case..." he trailed off as Gai nodded his understanding and swept his team out of the room.


Catching the jealous frown on Sasuke's face Naruto frowned. He had hoped, that he had shown Sasuke that he had much to learn yet. And how much they had to teach him. When he was ready that is; seeing him show his true feelings made him decide to warn Miharu to keep a close eye on the Uchiha, in case he decided to search out someone he shouldn't in the hopes of gaining power before he was ready for it. He would also need to find time to sit down with Stormryder to talk about the Uchiha soon. Nodding his head as he walked past Kakashi he would deal with Sasuke later. Once the Chuunin exam was over Sasuke would either shape up or...


Flickering home, Naruto quickly entered the side gate and stripped off his mask. Making his way to the back of the shop he grabbed the pack he kept ready in case of an emergency mission and waved at Miharu when he looked his way. "Miharu," Naruto smiled when the young pre-teen quickly ran over, "I've been given a retrieval mission that should last about a week, no longer than two weeks. I want you to keep an eye on Sasuke for me, in case you need to activate the seal."


Frowning, Miharu looked up at the serious expression on his clan leaders face, "Naruto, is there something I should watch out for?"


"I'm not sure," Naruto said slowly before giving his reason for wanting to watch Sasuke closely. "Something in Sasuke's expression seemed off. No not off, more like a true expression for the first time. So if you need to, contact Nii-san and dump Sasuke in Stormryder’s capable claws." Taking a step back towards the rear door he stopped, "Oh, and stop by Hiashi's during lunch and explain that I had a mission come up and could not meet with him. Tell him I will look him up as soon as I get back, that goes for Terry too. He's supposed to stop by tomorrow and I won't be here."


Nodding his head with a serious look on his face, Miharu told Naruto, "You can count on me."


Pulling Miharu into a hug, Naruto told the top of his head, "I know I can little brother." Letting Miharu go he grinned, "Now, I've got to go; otherwise it will take longer to get back." Putting his mask back on he ran for the gate so he could flicker to the main gates and meet up with the teams he had picked to go with him.


Appearing near the main gate, Naruto noticed how the gate guards looked panicked to see him. Grinning beneath the mask he wondered if they had recovered fully from his last prank. Then again by their actions they hadn't. Chuckling to soft to hear he walked over to the hunter nin team just as Team Gai showed up. Starting the briefing he told them, "We are to meet Jiraiya the Toad Sage in a small village just this side of Tanzaku Gai. We will escort him and Tsunde of the Senju back to Konoha. It is undetermined if Tsunde is coming willingly or not, but she will return to Konoha by order of the Sandaime Hokage." Looking at the suns position in the sky, Naruto told them, "We will stop for the night just outside the village, where we cannot be sensed, and make contact in the morning." Pointing a finger at the gate guards he told his team, "Let's go."


An hour into the run, Naruto glanced over his shoulder to see if the Genin team was having trouble keeping up with the pace. Surprisingly they did not look stressed at all. Making a quick motion with his left arm, they changed direction towards the west.


Six hours later, Naruto came to a halt near the outskirts of Tanzaku Gai. Stretching to cool down from the long run he looked over his shoulder at the team he had assembled. The Anbu hunter team looked calm and collected, but by the rapid rise and fall of their chests he assumed they were nearing the end of their stamina. Smiling as he looked at Gai and his team, he shook his head. Gai and his fan-boy, Lee, who mimicked his dress and speech patterns from his sensei, looked only slightly winded. The other two, well the girl, Tenten he thought was her name; she looked like she was about to drop from exhaustion. Neji did not look all that better. "Gai." Naruto called attention to the Jounin sensei for the Genin team. "You might want to lead your students through some cool down stretches. Otherwise they're muscles will cramp up and they'll be useless in the morning when we pick up our target."


"Hai, Hokage-sama," Gai struck a poise, thumb up in the air with a grin on his face. Turning to his adorable students he motioned for them to fall in. "Hokage-sama is right. As it is now if you let yourself relax like your body wants, your muscles will seize on you. I want you to walk around the clearing twenty times before doing our normal cool down routine."


"Hai, Gai sensei," Lee yelled as he grinned.


Before he could start to go off on one of his 'if I can't do it' rants, Naruto hissed out, "Genin Lee. We are on a mission and you are to keep your voice low, like you were in a temple with others who were praying to Kami."


--


Grumbling under her breath as she pulled yet another weed, Sakura threw a disgusted look at her Sensei who was leaning against the fence reading some orange book. Throwing the weed into the basket a little harder than she should have she rounded on her Sensei and asked, "Kakashi Sensei? Why isn't Naruto with us? You said he would not be with us this week because he has a mission. But I don't understand, shouldn't the whole team have gone with him?"


Snapping his book closed, Kakashi stood up from where he was leaning on the fence and explained the facts of a ninja team to her. "The first thing you have to understand Sakura, is, that when you achieve Chuunin rank or higher you can be pulled from your team to be part of a custom built team. Each person is chosen for their skills that the mission requires to be fulfilled. That is why Konoha makes sure before you are promoted past Genin, that you understand teamwork. Without that understanding, you cannot be part of those higher ranked missions."


Fuming silently, Sasuke made sure his expression was one of curiosity before looking up at Kakashi. "So what rank mission is Naruto on?"


Staring at the Uchiha for several moments, testing the boys emotions to see if he honestly wanted to know, Kakashi answered him, "Naruto is on a dual rank mission. When he and his team left the village it was B rank. When he meets up with the person they are to escort back to Konoha it automatically upgrades to an A rank mission."


Sakura's eyes went wide when she heard that Naruto was on an A rank mission. At times, she was still having problems dealing with the fact Naruto was so strong and a Chuunin while in the academy. That everything she knew about him was part of his cover; most of the time she could ignore that fact, until something he did or that came up slapped her in the face. Sighing she went back to pulling the weeds, it was going to be a long day.


Later after the weed pulling mission was over, 'finally' her inner voice screamed out, Sakura turned to ask her crush if he wanted to go get something to eat after cleaning up; only to find his head disappearing down the stairwell of the Hokage tower. Running to catch up she frowned when he turned away from the Uchiha distract and followed the road towards Naruto's clans compound. That was another thing she did not understand. How could Naruto be from some clan? And where did all the kids with his clan name come from?


Scowling when he felt the pink haired pest behind him, Sasuke hoped by ignoring her she would go away. But then again, it had not worked when they were in the academy. Stopping at the corner near Naruto's clan estate he leaned against the wall as he stared at the small shop Naruto ran. An Apothecary, he almost snorted. But if he was honest with himself, all the clans that settled in Konoha ran some type of business as a sideline to being Shinobi. And if he was truthful to himself, creating medicine that kept a Shinobi from career ending injuries, while also elixirs that gave them an edge in combat was a worthwhile profession. Like his families job of policing Konoha, keeping them safe from criminals.


Looking to the left of the store, Sasuke spotted the gate that led to Naruto's Dojo. A gate that he had tested and, he winced at the memory, could be quite enthusiastic in deterring intruders, as he found out. What he wouldn't give to be able to have the freedom to search for the clan house. He was sure if he found it he would find the secrets he needed to gain the power to kill..that man. Still, with Naruto gone for a week, he might be able to trick one of the brats that now lived with Naruto to let him into the main house. So for now he would watch and wait, ready to take advantage of the opportunity to gain entrance when it happened.


Watching her dream husband staring at Naruto's store of all places, Sakura wondered why Sasuke was so fascinated with the blond. She got that he was powerful, and he was a Chuunin. At least she thought he was, Kakashi all but told them that was his rank when they pushed. Shaking her head she just did not get it. He could be doing something way better, like taking her out to supper and regaling her with his prowess. Instead he stood, hidden in a corner staring at that store.

<<<<>>>>

 

 

 

 

                                   Back a page                    Wolfwalkers Page            Next Page

                                        Discussion Forum