Explosions and Dynamic Entries
The sun was barely peaking over the tops of the lush tree tops when a few birds squawked loudly in protest and surprise. They flapped their brightly coloured wings to keep their balance as the branch they had been sleeping on shook vigorously. They vaguely registered the dark green blur that passed them by, but their small bird brains were quickly turned back to preening the morning dew that had collected on their backs.
Minato shot a look at Naruto after the bird's squawking had subsided. Naruto just tightened his lips. He opened his mouth to tell Minato off, but his jaw clicked shut as soon as he inhaled. Smoke. Definitely smoke. Tapping his nose, Minato focused a little extra chakra to his and his eyes widened in response.
The trio of ninjas were but minutes away from the border patrol's main camp. Normally smoke was to be expected, since the main camp was a permanent structure, and the border reports all stopped here to be reviewed before being sent back to the Hokage. A campfire or two was always running for light, warmth, and food.
As the trio climbed higher to the tree tops, the prickling on the back of Naruto's neck became apparent. The top of the fire that consumed nearly the entire camp could be seen over the top of the trees, and the amount of smoke that was being produced was starting to be blown their way.
Jiraiya was the first one to land at the outskirts of the camp, his geta sandals kicking up dust. As Naruto landed, Jiraiya smashed his foot down, digging the two slats of wood on his sandal into the dirt up to the sole of his foot.
"I can sense four life forms. All weak, only one is moving. Two are in the middle of the main building, second floor. One is around back, crawling towards the trees, one is in the basement." Minato nodded and said,
"I'll take the one in the basement. Naruto you take the one getting away." Before Naruto could protest, Minato was dashing into the building, tying a cloth around his face, followed closely by Jiraiya and his dirty sandal.
Naruto sighed before setting his sights on the back of the building. The lower part of the second unit that looked like it had been built directly onto the first unit had already collapsed. Naruto grimaced when he saw a blackened hand sticking out from under a large beam.
A groan of pain directed his eyesight to a man desperately trying to crawl away. The clothing on his back had been burnt off, and his back was a blistering mess of blackened skin and oozing red areas. Naruto winced. He debated knocking the man out first to ease his pain.
The man nearly screamed when Naruto made his presence known. The blonde put his hands up in front of him to show that he was friendly and said,
"I'm a ninja from Konoha, I'm here to help." The man nearly collapsed.
"You... You have to get away." He rasped. Naruto noticed that the man's hands were covered in splinters and his fingernails were broken and falling off. He had evidently been locked in somewhere and had clawed his way out.
"It's ok, don't talk. I'm going to make you sleep so it doesn't hurt so much when I move you away from the fire. Ok?" The man's eyes became more frantic.
"No! You don't... understand! A bomb! Any minute! In the... basement!" Naruto swivelled around and stared at the building. If anything, it seemed the fire had gotten bigger and more intense. Worst of all, he saw no movement, signifying Minato or Jiraiya's presence.
"Shit." He said, applying a quick sleep jutsu on the man. The man collapsed and he apologized before hoisting him up on his shoulders, audibly cracking some of the burnt skin on his back. Jogging as fast as he could carrying a man who probably weighed about 90 kilos, he deposited him a safe distance away from the fire and regardless of the flames, smashed right through the first floor window.
It had seemed like a good idea at first, a dynamic entry complete with glass flying everywhere. If only his friends could see him now. Especially Kiba; he would have thought that to have been badass. Naruto smashed into an already weak looking pillar and snapped the thing in half. The corner of the ceiling groaned loudly before collapsing.
Naruto managed to scamper and dive into the trap door left open by Minato just as rest of the floor came crashing down on top of him. He heard Jiraiya shout something, but paid it no heed.
The basement was more like a cellar than anything. The walls were merely dirt scraped out with roots being utilised as shelves, and in one corner a chair had been carved out of a particularly large branch. Stacks and stacks of paperwork-filled-filing boxes filled the room. Some of the stacks reached the low ceiling; a few of them were on fire lighting the room with a dim glow.
Minato wasn't in the room, and neither were any living bodies. One corpse he saw, shoved into a pile of paper, was covered in blood, and a closer glance showed that his throat had been cut. Naruto's lips pursed. A quiet tumbling sound turned his attention to the far corner, farthest away from the now covered in burning debris trapdoor. A hole, big enough for two people to crawl through was being dug. Relief trickled through his chest like a stream of cold water, cooling his mind in the intense heat the fire was creating.
The bomb was obvious. It was sitting on the old desk in the corner by the root chair. Who ever had built it even had the courtesy to add a timer to it. Naruto watched in horror as it passed the 30 second mark, and scrambled into the hole. If Minato hadn't disabled it by now, it meant that he felt there was not enough time. He felt slightly foolish for coming down here to rescue someone he knew perfectly able to handle himself, but he pushed down the feeling.
"Ni-san!" He shouted. There was no light in this tunnel for him to see. With Kyuubi gone he couldn't see in the dark as well.
"Naruto? What the hell are you doing in here! I thought you were supposed to be grabbing the guy around back!" Naruto heard the digging of whatever jutsu Minato was using stop.
"The guy told me there was a bomb!" Naruto was sure that if he could see Minato would have been giving him a 'well duh' look, but instead the older blonde just shouted.
"Of course there is a bomb! That's why I'm digging!" Naruto backed out of the tunnel as fast as he could and glanced at the clock. 20 seconds. Practically running on all fours, Naruto scrambled on top of the injured man Minato was dragging, and ignoring Minato's protests, he scrambled on top of the future fourth Hokage.
"No time!" Taking advantage the dark, and pushing down the regret he knew he'd feel for doing this, he formed a large swirl of chakra, pushing it together and making it spin at greater speeds until it was the size of a large watermelon. Biting back the technique's name, he pushed both of his hands into the dirt in a vaguely up direction.
Instead of drilling through the dirt like he expected when he performed the rasengan on trees, everything just seemed to explode in front of him. At first Naruto thought the bomb went off, but when he saw the light of the fire behind him, he realized that Minato had dug closer to the top than he had thought.
Looking behind him, he swore loudly. Minato was slumped over; a large scrape was beginning to bleed all over his fore head. Grabbing his brother, Naruto heaved him as far as his chakra, which was almost used up from the sloppily made odama rasengan, would let him. Minato landed about 20 feet away on his side, rolling a few times before stopping. He started to move, signalling to Naruto that the hit to his head from before couldn't have been that bad.
The injured man below him was next. Fortunately for Naruto, this man turned out to be young. Maybe 14. Young meant small and light, which meant that Naruto barely had to use his chakra to throw him out of the hole. The teen's landing was softened by Minato, who grunted when the body hit him. His eyes flew open and made contact with Naruto's just as Naruto was hoisting himself out of the hole.
Naruto got his body free, which had been mostly buried in loose soil from his quick dig, when a sharp pain throbbed up his leg. Twisting it around, he realized that his foot was pinned in between two rocks large enough for him to not even be able to budge them. Things just weren't going good for the young blonde. He looked up in surprise and fear, making eye contact with Minato before a deafening blast shook him to his very soul.
The earth seemed to move underneath him like a wave, before he felt himself being thrown forward and smashed around like a rag doll. Either something large and solid collided with his head, or his head collided with something large and solid, but his vision and every other sense he had blinked out.
Minato straightened his back out. He had crouched over the teen's body, an instinct after he heard the blast from the bomb go off. The shock on Naruto's face had been enough to completely wipe the mist that had been floating around his vision.
Taking a split second to make sure the teen wasn't in any immediate danger from falling objects, which seemed rather redundant when Minato realised that the bomb had taken out the building almost completely, Minato was on his feet in a flash, calling out Naruto's name.
Jiraiya stood up, pushing a plank off of his back, saying something to one of the two ninja he had successfully gotten out of the building, mere seconds before the blast detonated.
Minato quickly spotted Naruto. The blast had thrown him up into the middle of a nearby tree trunk, cracking the tree, and Naruto had tumbled down to the base and was by all means unconscious. Minato running so fast that one of the surviving ninjas that Jiraiya had saved would say that he appeared to be a yellow flash was down on his knees at Naruto's side checking his pulse. When the steady lub-dub made itself present after a few seconds of frantic pressing into the blonde's neck, Minato's shoulders relaxed.
He gave the blonde a quick check over, and was relieved to find the only injuries were a few minor burns, scrapes, and bruises. Shaking Naruto's shoulder was the only thing needed to awake him.
"Ugh. Did we make it?" Naruto said, after sitting up, holding a hand to the bruise that was already darkening on his forehead.
"Yea, we did. C'mon, let's get the survivors somewhere safe, and clean ourselves up." Naruto nodded and after blinking a few times to clear his vision, he plodded over to where he had put the burnt man, still sleeping, safe and sound behind a tree.
Naruto sat with Jiraiya, helping him tend to the four shinobi's wounds. Minato had the most chakra left, so he was designated to putting out the fire before it spread to the forest. He also summoned a messenger frog to inform the Hokage of what had happened.
Jiraiya didn't say anything to Naruto until he was finished treating the man with the worst wounds. Naruto watched as Jiraiya slathered an ointment on the back of the man that the youngest blonde had rescued. The forced sleep jutsu was still in place, something Naruto was glad for. The man wasn't even twitching in pain, and Naruto already felt like throwing up from the mere sight of the flaking and burnt skin.
When Jiraiya had finished wrapping gauze around the man's entire torso, he turned to Naruto and said,
"Look very closely at this man. You saw his wounds; now look at his physical appearance. What do you see?"
"Uhh..." Naruto said. The man's clothes were burnt around the edges of the wound, but were relatively undamaged everywhere else, save the soles of his shoes being melted. There was no bruising, as would be apparent from a pillar falling on his back.
"Uh, it looks like he was shot in the back with a fire jutsu? There isn't any bruising on his shoulders."
"Did you notice anything else that seemed odd?" Jiraiya asked, pulling the gauze from a bag he unsealed from a scroll. He bent down to tenderly tend the only woman in the group's burnt arm. Two of her fingers were missing from the hand that Jiraiya held; the stubs had been cauterized closed.
"Well, the bottoms of his sandals are melted. But that could have been from running on the fire, right? His fingernails are all ripped to pieces too. Locked in a room?" Jiraiya didn't answer Naruto until he had finished delicately wrapping the woman's hands, only garnering slight wincing from the woman.
"The bottoms of his sandals are melted, sure, but why would sticks and rocks be sealed into the plastic if he was running on burning wood? Surely it would be charcoal, right?" Naruto glanced at the man's shoes before shrugging.
"So what do you thing? Whoever attacked him burnt his feet as well?" Jiraiya rolled his eyes.
"He was struck by lightning, you brat." Naruto made an 'o' with his mouth and said,
"Do you think this was the work of Kumo?" The woman whose hand Jiraiya had just finished wrapping up said through pain clenched teeth,
"No, they were definitely Iwa. One of them could call down lightning. It's not that unusual." Jiraiya tossed Naruto a roll of gauze and directed him to wrap up any burns that had blisters on the fourth man who had barely suffered any burns, but sported a nasty gash that streaked down the side of his face from his forehead to his chin. It had already crusted up, indicating that he had probably been taken out early in the fight.
Naruto just finished tying the last knot when Minato arrived, a sheen of sweat coating his face glinting in the morning sun. Letting out a breath and sat down and cross his legs.
"Alright. The fire's out and the ashes are smouldered. I think it's time for some questions. Miss, I noticed you seem to be able to talk, maybe you can tell us what happened? Also, if you could tell me what happened to the squad that was supposed to have arrived last night?" Naruto noted the hesitation in his older brother's voice when he asked the second question. The woman flexed her arm a little and gritted her teeth.
"It was a surprise attack, although how a squad of stupid rock nins got the jump on us is beyond me. It makes me want to go home and train until the rest of my fingers fall off. I am ashamed." She gritted her teeth again and let Jiraiya help her into a sitting position, with her back resting against his chest of course. Injured or not, he wasn't about to let a sexy lady go unsupported.
"A thunderous crash was all the warning we got. It was at about midnight, not 10 minutes after the relief squad arrived. One of their own was injured from the journey here and so they were busy tending to her. Can I ask you to stop petting my hair please?" Minato and Naruto both gave Jiraiya a flat stare, and the older man clicked his tongue and put his hand back on her shoulder to support her.
"Thank you. As I was...ouch...saying, we thought that the place had actually been struck by lightning. The top corner of the main unit was on fire, and the supervisor had been struck dead. We were alerted to this by one of the younger chuunin's shouts.
After that, it was all a blur. They swarmed in from everywhere it seemed. I counted at least 8 different shinobi, but they all had the Iwa insignia showing. We tried to fight them off, but they took us by surprised, and had locked a few of us in the only room with no windows. Some kind of seal had been placed on the walls or something because it felt like my chakra had been plugged up. I think it was Toji who managed to punch and scrape his way through the hinges on the door. We got out and more than half of us were hit by something. Probably rocks, they felt pretty hard. The next thing I knew Jiraiya-sama was lifting a plank off of his back, and saying something that I don't quite remember."
"I was just welcoming you back to the world of the living." Jiraiya said avoiding Minato's irritated stare.
"Can you tell me how many of our ninja were here when Iwa attacked? A few of the bodies are a bit... charred." Minato said gently. The woman bit her lip and gave it a good thought.
"There was the supervisor, my squad of 4, and the midnight squad. They had... uh, I believe it was 3. So that makes 8 of us." Minato nodded and stood up, signalling for Naruto to do the same. Naruto dusted off his pants and stepped back.
"Sensei please let this woman sleep. It's obvious she's in pain, and I know we don't really have anything that would help." Jiraiya nodded and pressed three of his fingers to her forehead. The woman's eyes fluttered before her head lolled to the side. He gently put her down and joined the brothers as they walked back to the ruins of the building.
"So what do we do about the secondary mission that you never bothered to tell me about?" Naruto asked. Minato grimaced.
"We count and identify the bodies as best we can. As far as I can tell, the mission is over and since it was A-class, you don't need to know." The younger blonde gave a small pout, but when it came to official rules, Minato was about as easy to bend as a cement pole.
The first two bodies were easy to find, and would be relatively easy to identify. Their faces were mostly intact, and one of them even had what looked like his wife or girlfriend's photo in his pocket. The third body they came across was charred almost beyond recognition. It was the one that Naruto had seen shortly before being blown up. The only thing that hadn't been completely destroyed by the fire was an amulet made of a semi precious stone clutched in the figure's left hand.
They spent 4 hours poking through every nook and cranny in the wreckage and around the encampment in the woods looking for the 4th and final body, but it was nowhere to be found.
Minato became visibly more agitated the longer the search went on. Naruto decided to intervene before he started tearing out his hair.
"What's wrong? You're starting to get a bald spot from the hair you've been pulling out." Minato quickly rubbed his hands over his head before glaring at Naruto.
"The last body. It's not here. I think the Iwa took her with them, which proves this was a planned attack, and not one of the random border attacks that Iwa has been testing their luck with." Naruto kicked a plank over.
"What makes you think it's a she? What about the body back there?" Minato shook his head and gave his teacher a look. Jiraiya's eyes hardened and Naruto's became more confused.
"What's going on?" He asked. Minato swore and Jiraiya summoned a frog that Naruto knew was the fastest he could summon.
"Gamakousoku, I need you to tell the old man that they've taken the Habanero, and we are in pursuit. Tell him we have 4 injured, one critical, and 3 dead." Gamakousoku nodded and with a ribbit the 5 foot tall frog hopped once, and was across the meadow so fast that several trees were uprooted in the back wind. Naruto had to hold onto Minato to avoid being sucked up with them.
Minato however, was miles away. His attention was focused northwest. His fists tightened, and his eyes looked harder and colder than Naruto could have ever imagined. He had no idea what was going on, or who this Habanero was, but it was bringing out the rage deep inside Minato, and Naruto was sure that Iwa would pay its fair share in blood.
End Chapter 6
Action packed! Hoo-ha!