The Bridge - Part I
Sarutobi pinched the bridge of his nose. Across from his sat his former teammates from his genin days, Homura and Koharu. "Hiruzen, this war has gone on long enough. The casualties we have suffered are unacceptable. One might think you are getting a bit old for this job." Sarutobi shot his former teammate a sharp look and Homura frowned and sighed. "I… I apologize. I realize you must be feeling the same way. Everyone is on edge lately." Koharu said nothing and took a long sip of her tea.
I wish Jiraiya was here. This was a thought Sarutobi had been thinking many times over the last year. Iwa invaded Kusa and not long after started pressing their luck on Konoha's borders. Stern letters of cease and desist sent to the Tsuchikage but they had all but been ignored. War had officially been declared 6 months ago when a team of fresh genin had been mercilessly slaughtered, along with their instructor, on Hi no Kuni land. The sudden influx of Iwa shinobi in Kusa had caught Konoha off guard and the casualties were staggering. They were losing this war as well as a majority of their senior Jounin. The minimum age for genin had been lowered to 10 with the more exceptional children being passed through at younger ages. Sarutobi sighed again. Sending children to their deaths never sat well with him. Pushing forward a manila folder he opened it to reveal a map.
"Recent intelligence suggests that Iwa is possibly planning a large scale strike at the border of Kusa and Hi. I want to send in a strike team to take out their supply chain. If we can't starve them out of Kusa, we can at least delay anything they had planned." Koharu nodded and pointed at two bridges.
"These ones here with the southernmost bridge being the most important. I can see the benefits of this." Sarutobi nodded as she pointed at the two bridges he had been thinking of. "Who are you planning on sending?"
Flipping the map over he revealed a report with a few photos pinned to it. Homura looked surprised, but Koharu looked like she had been expecting it. "Are you sure you want to send him? He and his team are awfully young…"
"His team consists of two Jounin and two chuunin. One of which is an Uchiha. I think for at least one of the bridges this is appropriate. Anything larger than a single squad will defeat the purpose of a sneak and strike team." Homura tapped his nose in concentration but couldn't come up with any reasons to dispute Sarutobi's logic.
"I approve then." Homura said quietly. "I agree." Koharu followed up with. Sarutobi sat back and yet again wished Jiraiya was here. His 3 year absence was sorely noted during this time of strife. He only hoped the reason for the sudden halt of correspondence nearly a year prior was for a good reason.
"Shit! I'm gonna be late! This is all that old-AAH!" A boy with spiky black hair let out a cry of surprise as his foot caught on a vine mid jump sending him sprawling to the ground. Instinct took over and he rolled to avoid breaking any bones but his hands were still scraped up. When he looked up he saw the disapproving stare of his silver haired teammate staring down at him.
"Did I make it?" He asked and his teammate crossed his arms. "No you're late yet again." Uchiha Obito sighed. Dusting his shoulders and pants off he pulled out his eye drops and pushed up the goggles Naruto had sent him for his birthday last year. Glancing at his teammate, he saw that Kakashi had turned his back on him. The silver haired boy was usually quiet and bit too serious for his liking but this past week he had been especially unbearable.
"Can we finally start the debriefing? I'm tired of always having to wait on crybabies." Obito let his mouth drop a little bit. "Hey! That's not fair; you know my eyes are sensitive! What the hell crawled up your ass this week!?" Kakashi stiffened and Rin stepped in between them. "Boys, come on now…" Minato clapped his hands and his three students scrambled to form a line. Rin positioned herself in between the boys to prevent anymore quarrelsome words.
"Alright now, can I begin or do you two need to duke it out?" Kakashi and Obito look at each other and quickly looked away, each with a healthy amount of red gracing their cheeks. Minato smiled and handed a folder to Rin who opened it. Kakashi and Obito leaned in to read the information as well.
"We have been given a sneak and strike mission. This is an A rank mission due to its importance. We are going to blow up a bridge." The smile on Minato's face was a little too eager but none of his students minded. Rin studied the symbols on the map and said,
"Oh, is this a supply bridge? I can see its one of the major routes from Iwa into Kusa." Her eyes scanned the area and she said, "This one as well would be a useful target. Which one are we going to be taking, Sensei?" Minato clapped his hands together in delight.
"Very good Rin!" she blushed, "We will be taking the larger bridge. You two should learn something from her instead of fighting all the time. What happened to that awesome teamwork you two used to have?" Kakashi and Obito reddened and looked at the ground. Minato switched is tone into that of a commander and continued, "Hokage-sama has selected us to carry this extremely important mission out. If successful we could be saving the lives of countless shinobi and perhaps end this war faster." All three members of Minato's team nodded curtly and stood straight at the tone in his voice.
"All right then, let's go." The blonde said curtly and all 4 shinobi disappeared in a swirl of leaves.
The journey to the border of Hi no Kuni took 3 days and relatively few words were spoken. When they had reached the edge of the forest that contained the bridge Minato broke for camp. The warm summer night required no fire so they feasted on field rations. Obito and Kakashi were so deep in their own thoughts that it made Rin squirm. Finally she stood up suddenly and rummaged in her bag and pulled out a small package. She shoved it into Kakashi's hands and said,
"I'm sorry! I almost forgot! Congratulations on making Jounin, Kakashi-kun! I made you this med-kit with some of my custom salve. I hope it serves you well!" She bowed as he took it and she could see him smiling softly though his mask.
"Thank you Rin, I'm sure it will be of great help." Rin blushed and Minato sat down a few feet away. "What's going on?" He asked and Kakashi informed him. Minato blinked and said, "Oh right! I can't believe I forgot as well, this bridge mission has had me thinking hard for the last couple of days. Here, catch." Minato tossed a kunai at him and Kakashi caught it smoothly out of the air. It was heavy, he noted, and three pronged. The handle was wrapped in a paper seal and he couldn't make heads or tails of what it meant. Looking up at Minato the blonde smiled.
"It's a bit heavy and awkward at first but it's my own design. I hope it will come in handy." Kakashi thanked Minato as well and glanced over at Obito who was carefully avoiding eye contact. When Obito finally glanced over at Kakashi he saw the silver haired Jounin had his hand held out.
"What the hell is that hand for!? I didn't get you anything!" Kakashi's mouth tugged downwards but his mask hid it. He curled his hand up and dropped it without a word. Obito's face was beet red. He had totally forgotten to get Kakashi a gift. He would have to pick something up when they got back to Konoha. Maybe Kakashi would stop being such a stick in the mud by then.
In the morning Minato provided some last minute debriefing. "Alright, last minute changes to the plan. Kakashi, as a new Jounin you shall be leading your own team today." Obito gawked and looked about to protest but Minato cut him off. "I will be breaking off from your group later today to engage the front lines to distract them away from the bridge. Kakashi you have until tomorrow night to take out the bridge. It's less than a day's walking pace from here, so you have time to use the utmost care in making sure you are not seen. If you are spotted you are to leave no survivors. Is that clear?" Obito and Rin gulped and Kakashi nodded. He would never tell anyone but he was just as nervous as his teammates.
"Alright, let's head out then. Kakashi." He held his hand out at the mention of the silver haired boy's name and Kakashi lead the group into the forest.
Obito was gaping as he looked around. The trees in the forest were incredibly large and the mushrooms growing on them were larger than his house. He felt tiny. Kakashi suddenly paused and raised his hand. The group stopped and Minato mentally applauded him. Using hand signs they had learned with Minato specifically for missions like this he informed his group that he could sense about 20 ninja. Obito gulped, but Minato whispered, "Most likely kage bunshin. Keep your eyes peeled."
Up in a tree an Iwa nin pressed his back as hard as he could into the bark hoping it would conceal him. He started sweating as soon as he saw the blonde hair with the Konoha hiteate in it. If that was the Yellow flash he needed to get out of there. If it wasn't… Well he needed to make sure before he scarpered or he'd be in for it.
"I've spotted him Sensei, I'm going for it." He lowered his hand and pushed chakra into it until a blue ball of lightning surrounded it. The noise it made reminded Kakashi of a flock of sparrows which had inspired the techniques name. Minato gazed at the technique. He had seen glimpses of it when the boy had been working on it, but he had not seen the finished product until now. Rin and Obito stared in awe. Kakashi made to move but Minato held his hand in front of the boy and he paused. "Sensei," He whispered hoarsely, "I am in charge right now, as per your orders." Minato glanced at him for a few long moments before closing his eyes and letting his hand drop. Kakashi was off, taking out most of their cover as well. Obito and Rin had to cover their face from the debris.
Kakashi reached the hiding place of the Iwa nin and with no hesitation struck him with his lightning covered hand. He was mildly surprised when the nin burst into smoke. Glancing around Kakashi quickly spotted three other figures and dispatched them.
Minato watched his student take out the Kage bunshin one at a time and studied his student's technique. He almost didn't notice the bunshin coming up from the ground behind him until Obito squeaked in surprise. Whirling around he put a kunai through its head, dispelling it and shouted at Obito to pay attention. He whirled back to Kakashi's position and saw that he had taken another clone out. The silver haired boy was getting close to the original nin's position and Minato prepared himself to intervene.
Obito was reeling from the encounter. He didn't know why but he just froze. Wiping tears that had formed under his glasses he recalled the many times that Minato had lectured him on letting his emotions get control of him. They reminded him unpleasantly of his family's lectures on the same topic. Suddenly Minato's bag dropped to the ground and their teacher had disappeared into thin air. He reappeared with a bleeding Kakashi a second later. "Kakashi-kun!" Rin said with despair, her hands already lit up in a green glow.
The Iwa nin was panting from his hiding spot. He needed to get away, he was almost definitely sure that he was dealing with the Yellow Flash. He could see the younger shinobi from his spot but he had lost track of the blonde. He almost jumped when a cold blade pressed itself painfully hard into his neck.
"A-are you the Yellow Flash?" He asked, determined to get the first word in, hoping it would buy him a few seconds. Minato debated answering for a second before saying, "Yes. How many more members of your team?" The Iwa-nin nearly wet himself when Minato confirmed his fears and he said shakily, "T-two…Please-" He was cut off when Minato neatly brought his blade across the nin's jugular and left him to bleed out on the branch.
By the time Minato made it back to his students Rin was finishing bandaging Kakashi's wound and Obito was looking helpless. The blonde sighed. Whatever strife the boys were going through needed to be worked out or this mission was going to be a flop.
"How is the injury, Kakashi?" Kakashi rolled his shoulder to show it's movement before pulling his shirt up and replacing his mask. He sat down on the grass and was followed by Obito who was the only other member standing. "We are reaching the separation point and I have a few other things that I need you all to listen to and follow. Kakashi you may be a Jounin now but you are still my student. You are not to use that jutsu in this mission again, do you hear me? It is powerful but it blinds you from seeing the enemy's movements. If I had not pulled you away that blade would have gone through your heart. It is incomplete and something we can work on when we get back home."
Kakashi protested, "But Sensei-" Minato shook his head. "No buts and no arguing. Do not use it." He emphasised each word and Kakashi looked away with a mixture of emotions on his face.
Minato turned to Obito next. "Obito remember what I've said about keeping your emotions in check now. This was one single enemy. There is the rest of his team left and they will likely be combining their strengths to fight you. The preferable course of action would be to be as stealthy as possible and get to the bridge without being seen, but they will likely be looking for their teammate. Keep your eyes peeled and for the mission's sake you two need to put aside any quarrels you have. People's lives are at stake here." Obito looked down and flicked a rock with his finger.
"Before I leave, I just want to let you three know that I am extremely proud of you. Despite your failings you are three excellent shinobi and I fully expect this mission to be a successful one." He ruffled the hair of all three of them and gave them a wink before disappearing in a yellow flash.
They sat in silence before Kakashi finally rose and started off into the forest. Rin and Obito followed without a word. All of them had a lot to think about.
A bright flash briefly lit up the shadows of the trench and caused a few men to blink rapidly at the after image formed. It took a few seconds for one of them to realize what had happened and his face broke out in a nervous grin. "It's the Yellow Flash! We're saved!" The last part was uttered quietly but Minato still heard it.
"What's the status?" The men huddled closer and held out a torn map. "We're outnumbered badly. It's just us 4 left and they've still got over 100 nin waiting to storm us." Minato sucked his breath in, it was worse than he thought. Reaching into his bag he pulled out a small scroll that Kushina whipped up for him. Unfurling it he gasps of wonder from more than one of the remaining men. The seal on the scroll was about 1 meter in length and was nearly filled, save for two oval blank areas, with small squiggles and symbols that mostly, but not completely, made sense to Minato. Every time Kushina showed him one of her scrolls he could feel nothing but amazement at her prowess in the sealing art. He had been surprised that Naruto seemed to pick it up much faster than he ever did as evident by some of the seals he had sent them in the post over the years he had been away. However he hadn't heard from Jiraiya or Naruto in nearly a year now and while he worried about it every day, right now was not the time.
Placing one of his special kunai wrapped in a seal he had come up with himself onto one of the oval empty spaces he pushed a little bit of his chakra into it. After a second another identical kunai puffed into existence on the other oval space and the men gasped in surprise. He did this over and over until he had produced somewhere around 100 kunai. He divided them up and set the men at specific points.
"Alright, I need you to throw these into their trenches. You don't have to aim towards them, although scoring a direct hit would make both of our lives much easier, but I need them to be within a few meters. Clear?" The men nodded.
Minato glanced up at the giant boulder that Iwa had tried, and failed, to throw at them. It was at least as tall as the Hokage monument and would probably stand there for generations to come, marking major battle site in the third great shinobi war. He pressed his hands together and collected his chakra.
One of the older men whispered into a young Jounin's ear, "When he tells us to throw the Kunai, don't even blink. This will probably be your only chance to see the Yellow Flash in action. Don't blink or you'll miss the entire battle." The young man gulped and kept his eyes focussed on the blonde. When his arms raised a volley of kunai arced through the air towards the Iwa nin.
Only a few hit their mark, 6 were killed instantly due to lucky shots, but the majority were deflected off of armour and weapons into the dirt in the trench. The Iwa nin taunted the remaining Konoha nin but their jeers were cut short when Minato seemed to explode in a flash of yellow light. Nin after nin fell to the ground dead, and after a few minutes only the occasional groaning of dying shinobi remained. Minato casually walked back along the trench collecting his Kunai and occasionally finishing a job. The 4 remaining Konoha nin finally made their way to the Iwa trenches.
"Holy shit." Was all one of them could say. Minato didn't grin. His face was stony and he was covered in blood. "Collect their medic packs and any rations you recover, but leave the bodies. We need to start arranging our own fallen." The men nodded in shock and awe and complied. It was going to be a long night.
End chapter 28
Two chapters in one day? Is this the real life? Or this just fantasy?