Chapter 1- Finding Nemo
Raido was mad at himself because he was the only one to blame for the fact that he was searching the countryside around Konoha in the midday sun for a man he was pretty sure didn't even exist. In reality, he wasn't alone in holding the blame, Genma was out here somewhere too.
Well, she had said they would have plenty of time to think about their choices, she was right.
The 'she' in this case was Lady Tsunade. The same Lady Tsunade who had caught Genma and him shooting senbon pins at the side of the Hokage tower. She had felt it was not only a waste of their time but also damaging to the tower. He reflected that she might have had a point.
It had all started when he'd made the bet that he could throw a senbon pin harder than Genma could spit one. At least they'd taken it outside, but that argument hadn't gotten them anywhere either. She'd come upon them, standing twenty feet from the tower, Genma with his mouth full of senbon pins and Raido with his hands full of them, happily whipping them at the tower yesterday afternoon.
She'd made them wait for two hours outside her office before calling them in and yelling at them.
"What were you two thinking?" She'd slammed her fists down on her desk. Raido was sure he'd heard it splinter. "You were easily twenty feet from the tower! What if a civilian or, worse, a child had gotten in the way?"
Genma tried to say that they were watching but he knew, as many ninja did, that you couldn't account for everything. If she had managed to surprise them then a child could easily have done the same.
"Why didn't you just go to a training field?" She asked.
Raido answered this one.
"Well, Hokage-sama, we were on duty. So we didn't want to get too far away from the tower."
That hadn't helped their case either.
He wondered if he'd ever be able to make excuses like Kakashi. That man got away with murder! He would make up the stupidest excuse and everyone would just sigh. It wasn't fair. Raido sighed, this was going to cost them.
And it did.
After making them wait another two hours while she took care of other things, which Raido figured included a bottle or two of sake, she called them back in.
"I've decided on a punishment for you both. Maybe this will teach you the value of your time." She was sorting papers, not bothering to look up at them while she spoke. "You're both elite and valuable jonin who shouldn't be wasting their time and putting the villagers at risk with silly little bets just to boost your own egos!"
Genma cut in, "With all due respect Lady Tsunade..."
She cut him off with a look that said she wasn't in the mood for his attitude. "I have a mission that I was going to assign to one of the new genin teams but I think it works for you as well. There is a criminal, named Nemo, that's been spotted in the area. I want you both out there tomorrow sweeping the countryside and looking for him. Surely you can handle that."
Genma was outraged! A 'C' rank mission! He was an elite hokage guard!
"Lady Tsunade," he began, but that was all he got out.
She slammed her fist down on her desk leaving a dent in its worn top. "I don't want to hear the sound of your voices until you get back tomorrow night, after dark, and have a full report for me to read. Do you understand?"
They both mumbled "yes, we understand." and left her office. On their way out several of the other jonin tried to find out what happened, what all the yelling had been about, but Raido and Genma were not in the mood to talk.
Both Genma and Raido were fairly certain that the man named Nemo, whom they were looking for, didn't even exist. They'd both known the fifth hokage to make up missions when she needed to keep someone busy or teach them a lesson so they didn't bother with an early start, setting off from the village around 9. Then they decided that since this was a 'C' rank mission they could split up in the hopes of covering more ground and finishing early, they were, after all, specially trained jonin.
Yes, they both knew they could probably just find a shady spot and sit all day, fill out a report and then give it to her, but they also knew that she might have someone watching them. Considering her anger at them yesterday they didn't want to risk making her angry again today, so they settled for going through the motions anyway.
Raido sat down in the shade of a tree,it was just after midday and he was hot, the sweat dripped down his back and make him wish for the coolness of his favorite tea house. At least she hadn't sent them to the desert, there wasn't a lot of shade there.
He was taking his time with the search but if he was being watched no one could say he wasn't doing what he was supposed to do. He sighed, angry with himself, and Genma, that they'd been so involved in their bet they'd missed her approaching and gotten caught. He'd been losing too and hoping that his luck was about to turn. She was a gambler, of all people she should understand the importance of a bet.
He got up and continued working his way through the forest 'looking for Nemo.' Pretty soon he'd stop for a snack and then hopefully it would be late enough that he could head back and fill out his report.
He squinted at the horizon, he'd traveled a good way from the village and at top speed it would probably take him a couple of hours to get back to the gates. He looked at the position of the sun and tried to guess how late it was, he'd left his watch home today too. Nothing seemed to be going his way this week.
As he did this he heard an noise in the underbrush behind him. He turned quickly, readying a kunai in his hand and searched for chakra signatures but there weren't any. He didn't want to risk being jumped, just in case he was actually searching for a real person so he slipped behind the nearest tree and masked his own chakra signature, he settled in to the shadows and waited. While he waited he watched the surrounding area for signs of life. He had just given up when he sensed it again.
His attention was drawn to some of the bracken and shrubs just across the clearing he'd been standing in. There was still no chakra signature so he decided it was probably just a small animal looking for food on the forest floor. He figured he should check, just in case. Man alive! If he blew this mission, he'd never hear the end of it.
He rose from his squatting position behind the tree and walked silently across the clearing, kunai still readied in his hand. As he approached the growth he kept his eyes trained on the area he'd sensed movement in but it remained still. The smell emanating from the bush suggested that a skunk had been there and been frightened away. Using the hand that didn't have a kunai in it he shook the branches to frighten off any small creatures and listened for the skitter of a small animal running away. But he heard no such sound. He noticed that the forest around him had gone deathly quiet. As if all the insects and birds had moved on.
He kept his kunai at the ready and spread the branches of the bush in front of him.
In that instant a small brown, well dirty really, and very smelly child threw itself out of the bush into his chest screaming "Don't kill me please!" At the same time launching themselves so that he either had to step out of the way or catch them to avoid being hit.
He caught, dropping his kunai in the process.
Great, he thought. Now I am out in the heat holding the dirtiest, smelliest child I have ever seen in my life. Add a 'trip to the hotsprings to soak off the smell' to my day.
He needed to figure out what was going on because he was fairly certain that this wasn't Nemo who had been described as male and about the same size as Raido himself. Raido was six feet tall and the filthy bundle he was holding couldn't have been more than five feet tall and probably weighed no more than a hundred pounds if he had to guess.
The bundle was crying and yelling "Don't kill me please! You're a Leaf village shinobi, and I know them to be honorable."
Raido was trying to get a better look at whoever it was flailing in his arms and yelling at him.
Finally he just yelled back. "Quiet!"
He had a pretty commanding voice when he wanted to and this got their attention, the bundle of mud quieted and stopped flailing.
"Thank you. One thing at a time. I have no intention of killing you, unless of course, you try to kill me first but I'm pretty sure I couldn't take you seriously if you did. Second, yes I am a Leaf village Shinobi. So unless you're a criminal you're safe with me. Finally, who are you?"
As he said this he put the filthy, smelly bundle down on their feet and attempted to step back, partly to get away from the smell and partly to take a better look.
Kiyoko had been in the bushes wondering what to do next when she'd heard someone. She'd stiffened which had caused the bushes to shift around her and make noise. She'd watched the man approach, knowing that her escape was up and that the punishment would be severe. But then he'd disappeared. She'd waited, watching and wondering what her next move should be. Just as she thought it was safe again he'd reappeared from behind the tree and come straight across the clearing towards her, as if he could see her through the thick foliage she was hiding in. He'd shaken the bush she was nestled in and then spread the branches to see what had made the noise.
She'd noticed something though, as he crossed the clearing, his headband. Where had she seen that symbol before? Suddenly she remembered! It was the symbol of Konoha, the Village Hidden in the Leaves. She'd never been there but she'd heard of them. Their shinobi were known for their honor and kindness, unless you were a criminal of course. The man coming towards her however had a kunai drawn and she knew they were also known for their skill. So she'd thrown herself at him, he'd have to catch her which would mean he wouldn't have time to attack before she could let him know that she wasn't a criminal. At least that's how she thought it might work. She hadn't actually ever met a real ninja before.
She looked up at him, he was much larger than her and shivered. "Please. I'm not a criminal. Please don't take me back to Takegakure!"