New Jounin Leaders
Disclaimer: The Naruto world and all the techniques used in this story are based off the manga created by Masashi Kishimoto. I claim no credit to the world, villages, or the majority of the jutsus used in the following. All characters are based off original ideas developed by my friends and myself.
"I'm on him," came a girl’s voice through the comm system.
A lovely girl crouched quietly behind a tree. Her focus was on a child who appeared to be playing in a small clearing in the forest. She looked past the boy to a face on the opposite side of the clearing. Both reached up and tapped their headbands, which sported the symbol of the Village Hidden Among the Clouds. They could not allow their target to know of their presence before the attack, as that would possibly allow for an escape.
"Engaging," she said through the headset she wore, allowing her to communicate with her teammates. She had a soft, round face that was made quite lovely by her milky white skin. Her brown hair was cut short, a style used by many female ninja in the area to avoid having it get in the way during combat. Her white sleeveless button-up shirt and black shorts also showed her focus on effectiveness rather than appearance. She couldn't be more than 14 years of age. A loose bandage-looking wrap was draped over her, something that was commonly seen around the puppets used by a few select ninja.
Immediately she jumped from her hiding spot, making a leap for the child. The boy let out a yelp of surprise and sprung to his feet, pulling his arm from the girl’s grasp. He turned to run from her, but stopped quickly, finding the same girl now in front of him. He turned to see her still behind him.
"Your clone jutsu won't trick me!" he said in a whiny voice. "Since one of you has already touched me, I know she is real, so I know who is the fake!" He stamped his foot, pointing to the girl in front of him. He charged straight forward, showing no fear that the duplicate girl would be able to stop him.
"You have the right idea, but you're wrong," she said quickly as she grabbed the boy's shoulders, stopping him in his tracks. "Nice try Bink, but you've got to come back to the village now," she said, kneeling in front of him.
The boy whined as he looked back and forth between the two girls. "B-but how? I know that you could touch me - how can your clone do the same thing?"
The girl allowed the boy to turn, keeping an arm on his shoulder. "Because, neither of us is a clone," she smiled as the initial attacker suddenly looked different. Its face looked painted on as its arms looked jointed like pieces of wood. "That's Koneko," she said, as the wooden-looking girl fell to the ground as a lifeless puppet.
"Very well done, Keiko!" an older gentleman said, stepping out from the trees, applauding with a smile on his face. His graying hair waved lightly in the breeze, the wrinkles on his face accented slightly by his smile. He wore a typical jounin uniform for the Village in the Clouds, "Having your marionette use henge-no-jutsu to appear identical to you is a great way to confuse your enemies."
"When did I become an enemy!?" the boy whined as he ran to the older gentleman, grabbing his arm and shaking it.
"Thank you, Ruikon-sensei," the girl said in a quiet voice, smiling softly.
"I could have caught him if I found him first!" a spiky black haired boy said, jumping from the tree. His blue shorts were baggy and his light blue shirt hung loosely over his body. His headband, rather than being tied over his forehead, was tied vertically on his left shoulder. He seemed in excellent physical condition and had a bright face.
"Sure Dak," another boy said, hopping from a tree, "although we did want the boy to come back unharmed - need we repeat that incident from last week..." This second boy had his headband tied covering his head, light brown hair hanging down messily from underneath. He seemed far weaker than his two teammates, hiding his body under black pants and a black long-sleeved jacket. His only distinguishing feature was a tan bag hung on his right shoulder, which he held close to his body.
"Shut it Reiten," Dak retorted sharply, "like you were any use to the mission. Besides, they said that cat would be able to walk again in a few weeks!"
"I told you that my genjutsu wouldn't be any use without combat," Reiten sighed.
Keiko, hefting the wrapped-up puppet over her shoulder, stepped between the two boys. "Reiten, your genjutsu might have been able to confuse him like my puppet did," she said, patting Reiten on the shoulder, "don't sell yourself short."
Dak glared at the two "Yeah, never taking sides, eh Keiko?"
Laughing, Ruikon stepped up. "Dak, your chakra blasts are great for combat, and once we finally get into those level of missions, you'll be the star player," he said with a smile. "I'm sure."
The stronger boy beamed to his associates. "I'll just be happy when we get real missions instead of having to babysit little twerps or catch run-away animals."
"Now, let's get back up the mountain before Dak's ego crushes us all," the older man said, picking up the young boy and jumping up into the trees. Keiko and Reiten laughed aloud and quickly followed their leader into the trees.
Dak's smile was quickly erased by a look of surprise, "Hey!" he called out, watching his team leap away, "Wait for me!" He followed them quickly.
Keiko, Dak, and Reiten walked quietly up the spiraling tower where they were to receive their mission for the day. There had been a buzz about them previously about the possibility of having a more difficult mission, as the Raikage asked to speak to them personally once they arrived. They stopped outside the large oak doors and glanced at each other.
"What're we worried about? We can handle tougher missions!" Dak announced to the group - and anybody else who might have been in the vicinity. He stretched his muscular arms and put them behind his head.
"I'm just glad to be getting back to missions," Keiko told them. "This week of training while Ruikon-sensei was away has been tough." Reiten opened one of the doors and watched as Keiko and Dak walked in, then followed, closing the door behind.
The Raikage and his assistants had been assigning a mission to another genin team, who happened to have been among the same graduating class as Keiko and her team. Upon seeing them enter, the Raikage's face became suddenly somber and staid. He nodded to his assistants and motioned Keiko and her team over to a corner of the room.
Keiko smiled to one of the genin on the other team, "Hey Kinome!" she said with a slight wave of the hand.
Kinome was a petite girl in a green outfit, with a rose stuck behind her ear, which shone brightly next to her pale blue hair set in two pony tails. She waved back but turned her attention back to the Raikage's assistants when one of them cleared his throat.
Keiko giggled lightly and jogged over to Dak and Reiten to where they were standing before the Raikage. He was a tall man with black hair, which was covered with his yellow and white kage-hat. His body was hidden under his white robes, but it was known that he was a strong man who was famous through the land for his taijutsu. His ninjutsu and genjutsu also rose above others in the village, which of course made him a good pick for the job.
"Reiten Ouritsu, Keiko Tokumara, Dak Shinrai-" The Raikage spoke, looking to each of the genin as he said their names, "I wish I could see you today under happier circumstances, but I'm afraid that is not to be the case..."
The three 14 year olds shot looks to one another in confusion, unsure what the Raikage could be speaking about.
He cleared his throat. "I am sorry to say that Ruikon Yukino was reported killed in action as of this morning, during a special mission he was sent on."
The looks of devastation on the young genin's faces were unimaginable. Keiko hung her head some and sniffled slightly in an attempt to hold back her tears. Reiten put his hand on her should to comfort her. Ruikon Yukino had been a kind man who many of the children in the village referred to as Ojiisan, as he was like a grandfather to some. Always with a smile and always with an upbeat attitude on things. The team had figured that Ruikon would be with them for a long time, or at least more than the two years since they became full-fledged ninja.
"While the loss is great, I will tell you that we have lined up a new jounin to lead your team, so that you do not miss out on any missions," the Raikage told them.
Dak's head turned sharply upward as he glared daggers at their superior. "You can't just replace Ruikon-sensei!" he yelled at the top of his lungs, causing all in the room to look over. It was extremely rude to raise your voice at the Raikage.
A hand placed itself on Dak's shoulder, grasping it tightly. He turned sharply to look at a young man, no more than 20, looking sternly at the boy. Keiko, who had managed to contain herself, along with Reiten, also looked in the direction of the new comer.
"Ruikon was a great ninja and it is a great loss for us all to lose him..." the young man said, "But he was a jounin. Like the rest of us, he put his life on the line for the success of his mission. You will soon find out that loss of friends and family is part of the job..."
"This is Kodoku Kumori," the Raikage said, motioning to the young man. "He will be your new Jounin leader. He is an excellent ninja and should be able to lead your squad effectively."
Dak glared up at Kodoku. He wore solid black, which was bright in its dark manner. He wore a traditional jounin vest and his black hair hung shaggily over his headband. His headband was tied around his forehead like most, but was lower than usual, to the point where it covered half of his eyes, giving them a very dark appearance. What could be seen of his eyes gave him the appearance that he did not receive enough sleep, as black bags hung below them.
"You'll never be able to replace Ruikon-sensei!" Dak spat at his new team leader.
Kodoku sighed and released his grasp from the boys shoulder. "I do not intend to..." he said sternly. "I am far different than Ruikon, and you will learn different but effective ways to complete your missions."
Dak fumed at the jounin as Keiko and Reiten exchanged glances.
"I have received our mission information today and we are to meet at the bridge in an hour. Ready your equipment and meet me there or be left behind," he said sternly, looking to all the genin. "Do I make myself clear?" He turned to Dak.
"Yes sir..." Dak said in a disgusted tone as he turned and stomped out of the room.
"He's always like that..." Reiten said quietly to their team leader, turning and walking quietly from the room.
Keiko bowed slightly, "Sorry - Kodoku-sensei..." She turned and walked from the room, wiping a few lingering tears from the corners of her eyes.
"Will you be able to handle them?" The Raikage asked, turning to Kodoku.
"Do not worry about me..." The darker ninja said with a slight bow as he took a few steps towards the corner of the room and disappeared completely into the shadows.
"So glad you could join us today, Mister Tokumara," the instructor said, as a boy walked into the classroom, late by the looks of things. His hair was brown and cut very short, measuring only an inch or two in length. He had milky-white skin and wore a gray button-up shirt which had yellow stripes up the side and on the sleeves. He also wore loose gray shorts of the same style, with a matching yellow stripe over a very well-toned body, and black gloves which covered all but his fingers.
"Jeez Rayne, late on the day we're getting our team assignments?" a boy with shaggy brown hair and a smirk said as Rayne sat down in the middle of one of the rows. "You could have been dropped from your possible team!"
"I was out training," Rayne retorted back quickly. "Something you wouldn't know a thing about," he grimaced.
The instructor cleared his throat and looked back to his list of names. "The next team will have Akane Karenhana, Daigo Fushigi, and Aoi Fukae," he told the class.
"Hey Fukae!" Rayne called his friend, elbowing him. "You're in a group with Akane, she's the prettiest girl in the academy!"
"Excuse me!" A girl from the other side of Rayne growled, hitting him in the back of the head. She had dark red hair tied in a long ponytail down her back. She had semi-tight black shorts and a loose dark blue shirt which hung over her bottom and halfway down her arms. She wore her headband on the top of her head rather than on her forehead, and had a sheath on her back carrying a wooden bokken.
"Oh please, Freya, you're more like one of my guy friends than a girl I'd check out," Rayne told the girl, patting her on the shoulder.
"Uh." Aoi grunted, scooting away from his friend a little.
Freya's face turned red with anger as she pulled a wooden bokken from the sheath of her back and hit him many times on the head. "I'll brother you!"
"As much as I'd like to let you keep on with your abusing of Rayne, Freya, we really do need to get back to assigning teams," the instructor said, as he turned back to his list. "Our next team consists of Rayne Tokumara-" the instructor let out a chuckle as he looked at the next name, "Freya Tsurugi, and Kannon Hiyowai. You'll be able to abuse Rayne later," he told the two students.
Rubbing his head, Rayne blinked in question, "Wait, Kannon? What a waste of a third team slot," he grumbled to his two friends.
Freya hit him again. "Kannon comes from the best medical family in all the village," she told him sternly.
"Then why does he always look like he is about to die from some horrible disease?" Rayne smirked, looking to both his friends. Aoi shrugged.
"Your team's jounin leader will be - oh my," the instructor looked a little surprised at the name shown, "Sho Akueikyou."
Rayne and Freya exchanged confused glances and shrugged to one another.
The class split apart into their teams of three, which would be their squads through thick and thin for some time to come. Some were less than happy with the squads they had been placed into. Others were excited to finally become ninja. Freya and Rayne remained in their sits talking quietly until a quiet coughing interrupted their conversation. Both of their heads turned upwards to look at a smaller boy with grayish-white hair drooping over his headband. He looked ill in both his size and his general appearance. He wore a sleeveless black shirt, which showed his kind of scrawny arms which matched his scrawny legs shown from underneath his gray shorts.
"Hey Kannon!" Freya greeted the sickly boy warmly with a smile, sticking her hand out for him to shake.
Kannon glanced down at her hand slowly, studying it intently, as if he did not trust his new teammate and her warm greeting. Cautiously he reached up and shook her hand, before sitting down where Aoi had been seated before the class had split up.
Rayne shot a glance towards Freya while Kannon got seated and then looked back towards the new boy. "So - Kannon - are you a medical nin like your family?" Rayne asked bluntly, putting his hands behind his head and leaning back in his chair.
Kannon nodded a response, not meeting the gaze of either of his two new teammates.
Rayne bit his lip, a little annoyed by the boys lack of a verbal response. "So than why do you always look like you're sick?" he spat out. "If you're a medical nin, shouldn't you be like, healthy?"
Kannon tilted his head slightly, "I don't know what you mean," he spoke very quietly.
Rayne moved his head upwards quickly in surprise by the boys apparent unawareness of his own condition. In doing so he lost his balance in his chair and fell over backwards. Freya giggled at her teammate's fall and grabbed his arm, pulling him back up to his feet. Kannon remained emotionless.
Rayne towered over the sitting Kannon with a semi-glare. "What good are you then!?" he growled. "If you can't even recognize your own problems how are you going to be able to do anything worthwhile!?"
Kannon looked up at him with kind of a blank stare - either unsure what to answer or just not caring enough to do so.
"Because-" came a kind voice from behind all the young ninja, "after you've charged into battle and gotten yourself hurt, he'll show up out of nowhere and save your life."
All the children turned their attention to the new voice in the conversation. There stood a young lady, who couldn't be much taller than most of them, although Kannon's height did put him a bit below the other two. She had long black hair which went halfway down her back and a lovely body, although it was mostly covered by an odd white coat which hung very loosely over her arms, completely covering her hands. The jacket however ended at her stomach, showing just a bit of midriff above her tight black spandex looking shorts which only went to about mid-thigh. She had a bright smile as she examined the young ninjas.
"My name is Sho Akueikyou," she told them, "and I do believe you're my squad from now on."
Rayne looked her over with a bit of question. "Aren't you a bit short to be a jounin-sensei?" he asked, with a bit of a smirk.
Sho giggled slightly and cocked her head. "Aren't you a bit noisy to be a ninja?" she retorted, and with a blink of an eye she had disappeared, crouching on the desk behind Rayne holding a fingernail to his Adam's apple. "You know the big thing about ninja is stealth. If they can hear you complaining from miles away, you're going to find yourself dead," she told her student, before sitting cross legged on the desk which she was on.
"And then you'll be begging for a medic!" Freya added, with a grimace in the direction of the glaring Rayne.
"Exactly!" Sho said with a laugh motioning towards Freya with her hand, which was still covered by the jacket sleeve. "So, tell me about yourselves."
Freya jumped to her feet. "I'm Freya from the Tsurugi clan, the best swordsmen in all of Kumogakure!" She announced to her team, glaring at Rayne's scoff. "And I hope to one day be recognized as a jounin like my father is." She smiled a little at the end, thinking about becoming a jounin.
Rayne puffed out his chest, "I'm the heir to the Tokumara house, Rayne Tokumara, and I-"
Sho interrupted, "Let me guess, you want to be the next Raikage?" She smirked a little.
Rayne blinked and shrugged. "Sure, I guess, I was just going to point out that in a few years I'll be the most powerful ninja in the village," he said straightly.
All the ninjas attention turned towards Kannon, who had been looking towards the floor. Hearing silence and feeling six eyes on him, he looked up. "I'm Kannon Hiyowai... I'm a medic..." he said before coughing lightly. There was a pause as if the others were waiting for more. Eventually they got tired of waiting.
"Well, I suppose that's good enough for the time being," Sho said as she rose up from her sitting position and did a flip to land in the area where the instructor had stood some time ago. "I guess it's time we get down to business, don't you think?" She grinned wickedly as she motioned to the door with her arm.
Dak came sprinting up to the bridge on the edge of the village, where Keiko and Reiten were standing in wait. The Village Hidden in the Clouds was built on a top of a mountain where they would have the advantage of any possible enemies attacking. The only real way into the village was a path up the mountain which only connected to the village through a sturdy bridge. If an invasion was expected, the bridge could be taken down quickly or destroyed, keeping the invaders out.
"You're late," Kodoku said from the shadows under one of the guard towers at the end of the bridge. He stepped forward to stand between the genin. "You do not have a mission today. I wish for you to train and prepare for tomorrow," he told them. "We are traveling north in a reconnaissance mission for the village."
"What are we retrieving?" Dak blurted out.
Kodoku sighed. "You will learn that when you arrive for the mission tomorrow. It is unwise for such information to be floating about beforehand," he explained to his students. "Oh, and Dak, I want you to be there seventeen and a half minutes early."
"What!?" Dak yelled in surprise, "Why do I have to be there early?" He whined.
"Because," Kodoku said flatly, "You were late today. If you are not there at the time I said tomorrow, you will be replaced on this team by someone who can be more reliable and thus a bigger asset for the team."
"You can't-" Dak's complaint was cut off by an elbow to his ribs from Keiko.
"Just agree with him before you get yourself in bigger trouble," Keiko said in a pleading voice.
Dak glared at Keiko and then at Kodoku, obviously not pleased with either. "Yes sensei," he growled.
"You're dismissed," Kodoku informed his students, and stepped back into the shadow of the guard tower, disappearing from sight.
"How does he do that?" Reiten mused quietly as he looked back towards the rest of his team, who were already starting to walk away.
"Why the hell did you stop me?" Dak growled at Keiko, still fuming.
"What would you have done to change things?" Keiko quickly responded.
"I'd have kicked his ass!" Dak yelled at her, smirking slightly.
Keiko stopped and shook her head slightly. "He is a jounin ninja, Dak," she explained to him. "If he wanted to, he could have killed you - probably before you realized what was happening."
"He's an assassin jounin..." Reiten said quietly, looking surprised when both Dak and Keiko turned to look at him in interest. "Well - with his ability to appear and disappear - it'd be easy for him to sneak up easily on a target and kill them quickly and silently..." Reiten explained.
"What kind of ninja do you think he is?" Keiko asked, looking back at Reiten, "Like, besides for assassination, what kind of jutsus do you think he uses?"
"Who cares what kind of ninja he is!" Dak yelled out. "He's an ass," he added.
Reiten and Keiko ignored him as they had begun their own conversation. "What do you think we'll be retrieving in our mission?" Keiko asked.
"We're probably just picking up some kind of supplies from an outer village," Reiten said.
"It has to be more than that, otherwise he would have told us what it was going to be," Keiko retorted.
"No, because he is supposed to be training us for future missions, and even if it's something small, this is helping us prepare for a mission where we do not know the final objectives," Reiten explained.
"Hey!" Dak butted in, "he never said when our mission was supposed to start."
Keiko sighed and looked back towards Dak, "If you were on time, you'd have known," she told him. "We are to meet at sunrise."
Dak furrowed his brow as he thought about that, "How am I supposed to know when seventeen and a half minutes before sunrise is!?" he growled, "Not fair!" Dak proclaimed, as he shook his fists in the air. Keiko and Reiten both let out a laugh.
"Where the heck is she?" Rayne asked, obviously bored. The new team had gathered in a small grouping of boulders at the base of the mountain. It had been nearly five minutes since their expected arrival time. Freya shrugged in response, tapping her wooden sword against the stone she was sitting on.
Kannon coughed lightly, which drew the attention of the other bored ninja.
"You need to realize that even when you can not see a ninja, she may still be listening and watching you," Sho's voice echoed through the small bouldered area. Rayne and Freya looked about frantically in surprise. One of the small boulders raised itself up, and in a twirling motion a gray cloth removed itself from Sho and draped itself over her arm. She stood grinning at the surprised students. "Fooled by one of the lowest of ninja techniques. This is not a good start," she told them, never losing her smile. "I am not sure if you know, but not all eight teams that graduated will remain genin. Some will be sent back to the academy," she explained.
"Why would we have to go back?" Rayne protested. "We passed the graduation test and everything!"
"Correction!" She proclaimed with a smile, raising one of her sleeved arms, "THIS is your graduation test!" She grinned through her black hair. "The graduates are split into teams of three, then a jounin is selected to pick and administer a final test," she explained. "Some jounin have harder tests than others."
"Are you one of those?" Freya asked quickly.
Sho just smiled and cocked her head, "That depends on how good of a ninja you are." Rayne and Freya exchanged quick glances, showing just a little distress.
"You will pass or fail your final examination as a team," Sho told them, "Your task will be - to touch me," she smiled.
"That's it?" Rayne said in surprise, then laughed slightly.
"I also will not allow myself to use any jutsus or weapons," She added
"Don't you think you're making it TOO easy?" Freya responded, equally surprised. She let out a little yelp as Rayne poked her.
"As I said before," Sho responded, "It depends on how good a ninja you are."
"What are our rules?" Rayne asked, getting a serious face on.
"To touch me. That's it. You've got ten minutes," Sho explained. "Your weapons will count as extensions of yourselves - touching with your sword, and the others' kunai and shuriken, will count as a pass."
Rayne let out a laugh as he rubbed his hands together. "This will be a piece of cake!"
Sho chuckled lightly and raised an arm. "Begin," she said, letting it drop. The other ninja were surprised by the sudden starting of their test. Rayne and Freya each hesitated only a moment before quickly setting into action. Freya immediately drew her bokken and took swipes at Sho. The attack was useless as Sho took a step backward, leaving Freya's attacks just a few inches too short. "You're going to have to do better than that," she instructed. Sho did a back flip, landing on her feet as three kunai hit the ground where she had been standing a second before. Rayne growled from a spot on top of a boulder where he had attacked.
"Rayne, if we work together, we should be able to get at least one hit in," Freya said, looking back towards her teammate. Rayne ignored his teammate's suggestion and did a couple hand signs, before pulling out a few more kunai and throwing them at the spot where Sho had landed. These kunai flew quicker than the others, but were still easily dodged by their instructor.
"Listen to her Rayne, she has a good point," Sho told them, now standing with one foot on top of one of the boulders.
"I don't need help to simply tag somebody!" Rayne growled, before turning to Kannon, "And why don't you pull your weight some!?" Kannon blinked in surprise in response.
"Attack on three-" Freya instructed, looking towards Rayne. "One." Rayne readied himself, picking three of the kunai he had previously thrown off the ground. "Two." Kannon pulled a kunai out of his own holder. "Three!" Freya and Rayne leaped at Sho, who jumped backwards. Rayne and Freya each pursued, attempting to attack with their quick taijutsu, but Sho was always a step ahead of them. She jumped over Freya's bokken and flipped herself backwards to avoid Rayne's kunai flying over the bokken. Freya swung again, but missed as Sho moved her midsection backwards. She bent over forwards as Rayne kicked at her from behind, aiming for a higher point on her back. After having dodged both attacks she did a cartwheel to the side to get out from between her two pursuers.
"Nice try, but no luck," Sho said with a bit of a grin. "You've used up half your time already with all your stalling and misses.
"Forget this!" Rayne growled as he performed another set of hand signs. "Lightning Bolt!" Rayne said as he performed his last hand sign and shot a lightning bolt right at Sho's standing spot. Sho grinned with delight as she did a backflip, landing a few feet further back. Another lightning bolt pushed her further.
"Dust Wind!" Freya announced, swinging her bokken upwards, causing a huge gust of wind which picked up all the loose dirt on the ground into a dust cloud which blinded everyone in the area. The only things that could be seen through it all were the lightning bolts being shot forward. The lightning stopped but quickly two electrocuted fists appeared punching at Sho. Rayne's hands sparked with electricity.
"You're using up all your chakra on the same attacks," Sho told Rayne as he punched at her, and as she continued to dodge his attack. His hands suddenly lost their spark. Freya took a slash at Sho's feet but she jumped over it landing with her feet on either side. Rayne lunged forward with a punch but Sho jumped straight upward. Rayne looked surprised as his punch went below Sho's feet and hit Freya right in the face, knocking them both to the ground. Sho landed back where she had stood before and took a step towards the two genin on the ground.
"We win..." came a quiet voice from the side. Sho looked in surprise at Kannon, who was crouched on the ground off to the side of the battle.
"You students have yet to tag me, though, Kannon," she explained to him, a bit bewildered by his declaration.
"You said kunai would count as a win," Kannon said quietly, accompanied by a cough. He pointed to Sho's left foot. Sho raised her foot and, underneath, was a half buried kunai.
"When did that-?" Sho started to ask, before laughing.
"Kannon told us to keep you distracted and to find a way to lower the visibility," Freya said as she got to her feet.
"So you two pushing me backwards was just to get me to the kunai?" Sho asked with a smile.
"Actually, Kannon never explained his full plan... he just kept it brief." Freya explained.
"Well!" Sho beamed as she tossed the kunai into the air with her foot, catching it with a finger which barely stuck out from her sleeve, "Congratulations on passing your final test!" Sho jumped upward, landing on another one of the boulders so she could look down at the students. "Tomorrow we will meet in the Raikage's tower and will do our first D-ranked mission. Be there!" she said, before leaping from boulder to boulder en route back up the mountain.
"When the hell did Kannon tell you that!?" Rayne exclaimed in confusion to Freya, "and why didn't you guys tell me?"
"Because we knew you'd blurt out something stupid to give away that we were going to try to have her step on a kunai," Freya said with a smirk.
"I would not!" Rayne yelled out. Freya patted Kannon on the back with a laugh as the three headed for the path up the mountain.
Keiko sat on the front porch of her home working on her puppet's joints. She was making sure everything would work properly for the mission the next day if they were to run into any potential combat situation. Only twice in her two years as a genin had the team come across any real danger, and both were dealt with quickly thanks to Ruikon. But Ruikon would not be there to help their team out a third time. Now they would have to rely on Kodoku, a man they had just met that day and who had yet to show any interest in putting their well-being ahead of his own.
"Oh jeez, just like a girl!" Rayne yelled out as he came up to the porch that Keiko was sitting. "Always playing with stupid dolls," He laughed.
"Did you pass your jounin examination?" Keiko said quietly, looking up towards Rayne.
Rayne flexed with a confident smirk. "Of course," he told her, "thanks to my amazing abilities, naturally!"
"Good job," she responded quietly.
"My excellent jutsus, unlike your lame marionette technique," he laughed as he leaned against a pillar to the house."
"You know that you were chosen to be trained in those techniques as the heir to the family..." Keiko said quietly, obviously unhappy about being reminded of such things.
"Try not to be so jealous," Rayne said as he walked towards the door house.
"It's unfortunate that the heir to the family must be male, but I've come to accept it..." Keiko said as she stood up, lifting her puppet onto her shoulder.
"Why the hell are you so quiet today?" Rayne growled as he put his arm across the doorway, keeping Keiko from entering.
"Ruikon-sensei was killed," she told him quickly. "We were assigned a new jounin sensei this morning."
"Oh, so I guess we both got new leaders today!" Rayne said with a smile, seemingly unaware of the emotion that was built up within Keiko at the moment.
Keiko grabbed a hold of Rayne's arm and attempted to force him to move, but had little success. Her brother was two years younger than her and was already the same height. He also was far stronger than her as he had been trained in the family's taijutsu and ninjutsu ways, helping to make him stronger.
Keiko had been passed over as a ninja, training by herself for the longest time until being allowed to join the academy. It was the family's tradition that the eldest male son be the only one trained as a ninja to carry on the name. While the lightning jutsu practiced by their family was nothing unique, especially in the Village Hidden in the Clouds, it had been a regular family tradition.
"Daddy! When can I start training to be a ninja like you?" A four-year-old Keiko came running up to her father. Her tired-looking father looked down at the little girl with a raised eyebrow.
"Never," he said bluntly as he sat down. The little girl looked up at him with shock and disappointment. "Your brother will be the only member of this family training to become a ninja."
Keiko teared up a little. "But I'm older!" She protested.
"It is the way this family has always been. The only one I will teach our ways to," he told the girl, making a motion with his head to Keiko's mother. The mother came over and picked up the crying little Keiko. She was carried out of the room towards her own. Keiko glared at the baby Rayne as her mother carried her past him.
"Now Keiko, listen here..." Mother told her, trying to calm her down. "Just because your father refuses to train you does not mean that you have to give up being a ninja.
Keiko's sniffled began to clear up as she looked at her mother with watery eyes, "What do you mean?" She asked in confusion.
"I trained once to become a ninja," She said with a warm smile, "Although I wasn't very good, so I quit."
"Why not train to become better?" Keiko asked, sniffling again.
"I did not have the natural talent," she said, pulling Keiko into her lap, "but you, I'm sure, with some help, could become a fine ninja!" She beeped her daughter on the nose, causing Keiko to giggle.
"But how will I, with no training?" Keiko asked her mother, looking up at her.
Mother smiled and patted her on the head. "Just watch," she instructed, as she moved her hands towards one of the toys laying on the floor of Keiko's bedroom. Like magic the doll rose to its feet and moved itself a little. "Those who have great control of their chakra are able to use it to manipulate items," she explained.
"My chakra...?" Keiko asked
"Yes, it's the power that allows all ninja to use their abilities," she explained, "so once you learn to control your chakra, you can create chakra threads to move items from a distance or even to walk up trees or on water."
"How did you learn to do that?" Keiko questioned.
Mother smiled again, "My father taught it to me, he was going to try to train me to throw weapons and have them come back, making them hard to dodge," she answered. "Although people with better control can move bigger things. There are some who can even control human-sized puppets."
"Like my dolly?" Keiko asked, picking up the doll that had moved just a minute ago.
"Yes, just like your dolly," she smiled warmly. "That's what I aspired to be before I quit..."
Keiko hugged her mother tightly.
Keiko finally pushed her way past Rayne's arm and into their home. Their father was gone on a mission and would not be home for another few days. Rayne watched as his sister stomped to her room and shut the door quickly behind her.
"Girls..." Rayne rolled his eyes and shook his head.
Writer: Aaron "Rayne" Stewart
Copy Editor: Dan Knapp
Content Reviewers: Foxxa & Kiey