Chapter 11: Escape from Oto
"What? How could this happen? I thought only the Hokage knew about this. Are you sure it's not your paranoia talking?" Haku asked angrily.
"Yes, I'm sure. I don't know how, and I don't care how. But there's a mole in Konoha and I want to know who."
"So, what now?" she asked after she calmed down a little.
"We go back now. Hopefully we can get out of here undetected."
"With 'that'?" Haku asked as she pointed to Tayuya with her thumb.
"Yes, with 'that'. Now, make haste. Time is running short."
Outside of Shirohebi Inn
"Are you sure they're here?" a rough looking ninja said.
"Yeah, there should be a blonde boy and a black haired girl inside, with our own Tayuya-san with them," another one said.
"Well, what we do to them after we neutralized them is unimportant, right?" one of his compaions asked.
"Hmm," the apparent leader nodded silently.
"Then let's get goin'. I wanna know get myself some nice girls," one of them said pervertedly.
"Is everything ready?" Naruto asked.
"Just get me a minute… done. Let's go," Haku said after she put all her bags inside a scroll.
The blond boy nodded before he felt something amiss. He motioned for Haku to stay on guard while he checked the door which was being knocked at. The living weapon looked to the light coming down from under the door and surmised that these people who had probably come for him were closing in.
So, without a second's delay, he twisted his body so that he was facing directly to the door, picked out a spear from his 'portable armory', so to speak and thrusted the weapon through the door.
In that second, one of the Oto-nin's got stabbed through the heart. Before his comrades even have the chance to react, another stab came, and another and another until there were 8 new holes in the shinobi's body.
Then, the first victim slumped down with wide open disbelieving eyes. The other shinobi's gaped at the sight of their fallen comrade, but even before they could react, a volley of wind blades were shot and without even a chance to blink, their heads were severed.
"It seems we must leave quicker than expected," Naruto said.
Haku nodded and threw a large duffel bag, big enough to fit a person inside, to him, which he caught with ease before the two ran away from the room and into the streets of Otogakure.
Near the gates of Otogakure
Jiro the sentry was feeling rather bored. As a ninja assigned as to be the gate guard, he was actually obliged to feel so. In the night, nothing was actually noteworthy. Though the stars were beautiful that night, he couldn't really appreciate it, given that he wasn't much of a naturalist. If he were given a choice, Jiro would've chosen to take a trip to a bar or a brothel compared to sitting there like an idiot any day of the week.
The young man sighed for the umpteenth time that night, cursing his luck for pulling the short straw that landed him on this uncomfortable station. With a light grunt, he stood up and decided to look into the village instead of out like he usually did.
In the distance, Jiro saw a pair of shadows running in top speed with what seemed to be a bag on one of the shadow's shoulder. He peered deeper into the shadow, but couldn't see anything until he turned one of the lights overlooking the village on and saw that there were indeed two people, running at top speed while looking straight ahead.
Jiro wanted to give a distress signal, but couldn't make a sound as a senbon was already lodged into his forehead and an invisible blade diced the wall below him.
"The walls are close," Naruto informed Haku.
"I can see it," the black haired girl said.
The two increased their speed, trying their hardest to get out of Otogakure as fast as possible until they were merely blurs, shadows that move like ghosts.
Once they were out of the walls, Naruto signaled Haku to move to a valley near the gate where a run-down shabby cabin resides. Although confused, the black haired girl complied and ran down to the wooden structure. Once inside, she inspected the layout of the cabin for anything that might endanger them.
"Over here," the living weapon told her. Haku walked to where Naruto was kneeling and found a very well hidden trap door under a desk that he had moved earlier.
The blonde boy opened the trap door, revealing a well dug tunnel, and told his female counterpart to go inside after he handed the large duffel bag he had carried up until now to her. The ice user followed command and waited for Naruto to come down soon afterwards.
"Where does this lead to?" Haku asked in wonder.
"This tunnel leads to another similar structure near Konoha," he explained. "Konohagakure had many of these built all over the world and it helps us to go back faster. But it does not mean you can put your guard down, enemies might find it harder to reach us, but if they come in numbers, there will be no escape for us."
"I understand," the girl said and gave back the big bag to the boy who accepted it.
After a day of running in the tunnel
Naruto and Haku had quite a difficulty running in the tunnel for many good reasons: 1. the air was damp, 2. it wasn't that big, 3. even though there are many food caches in every 100 yards, each were enough to last for a day's worth of travel, there wasn't quite enough water, and 4. there were no air conditioning that made the tunnel very, very hot.
Of course, given the fact that the tunnel itself wasn't so deep underground, Naruto could easily cut a slit on the ground above him, enough to refill the tunnel with air; but still, he couldn't do it everytime he wished to, it was dangerous enough thinking about the cave-ins that might occur if he does that every time it became uncomfortable.
Haku was fairing worse than the blond because her long hair disturbed her. Many times already she considered cutting it, but decided not to for some reason she couldn't remember and it was very irritating. Finally, she decided to just tie it in a high ponytail.
The two continued walking for several minutes before suddenly the bag Naruto had carried stirred and shook. Haku looked at Naruto who put the bag down and watched him as he opened the zipper on the bag, revealing Tayuya who turned out to be stuffed inside a duffel bag for one full day.
"Fucking hell!" the foul mouthed girl swore as she sat up after the bag was finally torn with a knife.
"Finally decided to grace us with your presence?" the ever smiling boy asked dryly.
"Fuck you, Konoha no Tsurugi," she replied with anger, trying to stand up and failed miserably.
"I see you still have enough energy to swear, that means you still have enough energy to walk. Come along now," Naruto said with his smile still in place as he carried Tayuya on his back and walked calmly.
"Put me down you asshole!" she cursed while flailing her limbs like a child throwing a tantrum.
"No," the living weapon said in a flat tone. "I just realized if I let you walk, you will just hinder us, so stay there like a good hostage and stay quiet."
Sandaime Hokage was looking over a rather important file concerning all his top employees, from genin's to ANBU, all their record was kept in a folder which resides in a steel drawer. The one he was looking at the moment was everyone who had something to do with Danzou, ex-Ne to be precise.
"I don't know what you were thinking of to drag me into this," the woman beside him said.
"Is that so?" the old man asked.
"Yes, and I don't know why I should check these files for any mental issues. We all know they're just like zombies anyway," she replied.
"Because, Tsunade, if we can find anything about emotion repression seals, we can turn Naruto back into a normal shinobi, not some super efficient machine. You owe him that much, at least," he said.
"If it even exists, for all I know, it could be some urban legend you cooked up." She said.
Finding no words of comeback, she looked away, stayed quiet and continued looking over the files, hoping to find something.
Konoha's secret tunnel, approximately 75 kms away from Konoha
"Aren't you going to say anything?" Naruto asked Haku as he walked beside her.
"Oh? You're the one who's usually strict about morals and the like," he pressed on.
"Morals are practically useless if it hinders the mission," the girl recited while keeping her head down.
"Good," the blond said as he ducked from a backhand fist from the woman on his back.
They continued along the trek for another thirty minutes before the tunnel was no more, only a ladder leading upstairs.
"Is that the end of the tunnel?" Haku asked seeing Naruto's nod, she felt slightly better. Finally, after so many days of no sun, she could feel the sun and breeze again.
Otogakure, Orochimaru's office, the same time
"And you are telling me that you failed to find three children?" Orochimaru asked his shinobi coldly with his head propped on his fist.
"Please, forgive me Orochimaru-sama," he pleaded pathetically.
"Forgive you? Why should I do that? I gave you an order, you failed."
"Enough of your pitiful begging, you worthless fool," the serpent sannin said mirthlessly. "If you're useless alive, perhaps you'll be slightly useful dead."
"No, please… . Give me a second chance, Orochimaru-sama. I beg of you," he begged before he screamed loudly. His scream echoed throughout the halls of his cave, but it was ignored by its denizens. They all knew what had happened and why, there was no room for failures and weaklings in Otogakure. If you can't earn anything, you get nothing.
Konoha's secret tunnel exit, inside a wooden shack, 900 hrs
Naruto heaved a bound Tayuya to the dusty wooden floor of the shabby cabin and held out his hand for Haku who accepted the hand and was immediately pulled up. They walked out of the wooden establishment and Haku sighed happily.
"It feels like ages since I've seen the sun," the girl said as she stretched her arms.
"We have to leave, now," Naruto said with finality in his voice.
"Why? What's wrong?" Haku asked back.
"'Cause this dipshit thinks it's not safe yet," Tayuya chimed in.
"Prisoners should act like prisoners," the living weapon said as he put a gag on the redhead's mouth. "But in any case, she's right. We're still not in Konoha's territory yet, so it'd be better if we go."
"Back to Konoha?" the ice user asked.
"Yes. After all, it's only a three hour walk from here," the blond replied.
Konohagakure, two and a half hours later: 1130 hrs
"Well, that was earlier than expected," Naruto said calmly to Haku and Tayuya, the former looked very tired, while the latter looked shocked.
"I'll go to the Hokage's office to give my report and prisoner, you should go home and take a rest if you can," he said to the black haired girl who nodded tiredly and went back to the apartment she shared with Naruto.
Naruto's home, twenty minutes later
"I'm home," Haku mumbled tiredly.
"Welcome back," Shizune replied sweetly as she put down a magazine she was reading earlier and walked towards the younger girl. "Do you want anything to drink?"
"No… thanks," she replied, "I'd rather get some sleep first. So… tired."
"Oh, ok then. Is Tsurugi-san…"
"He's at the Hokage's office for some debriefing and reports. Probably to hand over that Oto girl too," she continued as she dragged her feet to her room. "I'm off to sleep, Shizune-san."
"Ok, have a nice sleep," the medic nin said. "Oh, before I forget, what time do you want to be woken up, Haku-chan?"
Her question wasn't answered as the younger girl had already fallen asleep in her room.
Naruto entered Sarutobi's office quickly through the window that had been opened and slowly set Tayuya down on her knees and made her kneel. "Mission completed, Hokage-sama," he said with a smile on his face.
"Hey, no greeting for me?" Tsunade asked as she emerged from a scroll library on the adjoining room.
"Hello, Tsunade-sama," he said with the same smile.
"Hello to you too, Naruto," she said slowly.
"Hmmm… haven't heard that name in a while. Any reason why you called me with that name?"
"Actually, there is, but I'm afraid it'll have to be explained later, Tsurugi," Sarutobi said with a dignified tone.
"As you wish, Hokage-sama," he replied.
"Whatever you say, Sensei," the buxom woman said offhandedly.
"Now then, what's your report?" the old man asked.
"The mission is complete, but primary mission objective was unable to be accomplished. Secondary mission objective is accomplished and I believe that the secondary mission objective is able to make up for the incomplete primary objective," Naruto said.
"This person," he continued as he pointed to Tayuya. "Is one of Orochimaru's elite personel and I believe she can provide necessary information for us regarding his plan for Konoha."
"Is this merely an assumption or a proven fact?" the Sandaime asked.
"It is both, Hokage-sama. She had given us enough information to know of the outline of Otogakure which is accurate, but the rest is yet to be seen," Naruto replied. "However, if we were to acquire information regarding Orochimaru from her, we can at least prepare ourselves for something that might be true… or not."
"Hmmm, fair enough." The old man said. "Very well, Uzumaki Naruto, codename 'Tsurugi', receive your new mission."
"Your sword awaits your order." The blond said sahrply as he bowed his head.
"From now until the Chuunin exam, you are to gather as much information as you can from this girl. Do you accept?" the Hokage asked.
"Of course, sir."
"Hey! Don't go deciding things for yourselves, dammit!" Tayuya yelled as she managed to spit out the gag Naruto put inside her mouth.
"Unfortunately, you have no say in the matter." The living weapon replied as he reset the gag inside her mouth. "Now, let's go to your new home. By your leave, Hokage-sama."