Unknown Tales of Namikaze Minato: Scheming
Minato stood frozen, looking out at the mist which was fast dispelling about him. He seemed deep in thought. Why would Jiraiya do such a thing? For one who had always vehemently voiced his preference for hotsprings over the rigors of life as a shinobi, Jiraiya was being really inconsiderate. Apparently, his teacher had a good reason, and Minato had no choice but to wait till Jiraiya decided to explain himself. Minato let out a defeated sigh and leapt after his teacher towards the Konoha camp.
Minato did not know the location of the campsite, but as Jiraiya was only a few meters ahead, Minato could easily follow him The Yellow Flash deliberately lagged behind the Sannin. This was in order to avoid perhaps another heated argument, or the awkwardness of having to apologize for losing his temper. Jiraiya, a highly skilled shinobi, knew of course, that his student was trailing him quietly, but did not acknowledge Minato's presence. The master was ignoring the student just as the student was ignoring the master.
The journey to the camp was short and a few traps were laid on the way. Minato had to carefully mimic Jiraiya's motions to avoid every single one. Jiraiya, with Minato following closely behind him, arrived at a sea of tents where Konoha's forces dwelt.
The campsite consisted of a network of hundreds of tents, all pitched close to one another, forming circle. They were plain white in color, and some were larger than others. Visibility was impeded by a chilly mist which was lurking serenely in the air.
The camp was teeming with life; several shinobi crowded around a steaming pot on a fire, plates and utensils aloft, awaiting the meal that was cooking in the pot. Elsewhere, there were others who were sparring, a few throwing weapons at targets, and some hauling buckets of water from a nearby stream.
A number of shinobi stood guard at different points on the perimeter. Upon sighting Jiraiya, and Minato still following closely behind him, they gave respectful nods and allowed the two to enter unimpeded.
Minato opted to follow Jiraiya all the way to his tent. Perhaps the Sannin would enlighten him on the reason for his trickery when they got there. Master and student traversed the network of tents, Minato having to stop every few minutes to return the greetings and salutes from some of his fellow Konoha shinobi.
None had bothered Jiraiya. Perhaps they had caught a view of the Sannin's hardened expression and decided it would be more prudent not to get on his nerves.
Jiraiya, Minato still trotting along behind him, arrived at a rather large tent with the kanji for 'oil' emblazoned on the canvass. Minato instantly knew it belonged to his teacher. Jiraiya swished the entrance open and edged inside, his student doing the same immediately after.
The interior was spacious and quiet. A small battered wooden table was shoved into the corner, a chair behind it. The table was laden with diverse scrolls and a small lantern. The lantern was alive with a feeble flame, which filled the roomy tent with dull yellowish light. A small toad was perched beside the heap of scrolls on the desk. Also present was a large sleeping bag strewn across the floor, and two bags which presumably contained the Sannin's belongings.
“You can sit anywhere, Minato.” said Jiraiya in a bored voice, his first words since their argument. Minato took a seat on the tent floor. The Sannin collapsed on the sleeping bag, reached into small pouch that hung at his back, and pulled out a notebook. A pen was trapped within it, lined between two pages. Placing the journal in his lap, Jiraiya flipped it open to where the pen was placed. He took the pen in his hand and began to scrawl on the pages.
Minato observed his teacher quietly. He could barely keep an even expression, for anger and impatience were tempting a scowl onto his face. Was Jiraya really just going to sit there?
“Jiraiya-sensei...” muttered Minato, not sure of what to say.
“Don't ask Minato. I told you we'll discuss it later.”
Jiraiya raised a hand to silence him. “Now is neither the time nor the place.” said the Sanin solemnly. “We have more important stuff to deal with anyways.”
“What other stuff?” Minato asked, a marked expression of curiosity on his face.
Jiraiya's lips curved into a wry smile, he lifted his head to look at his student, a mischievous expression on those aged features. “How are things with Kushina? Have you-”
“JIRAIYA-SENSEI!” squealed Minato, a little too loudly, his cheeks flushing scarlet. Minato was well aware of the fact that as wise, great and powerful as his teacher was, Jiraiya was also a hopeless pervert. “Just stop, ok?”
“Come on Minato, you can tell your Sensei.” chimed Jiraiya, “I can give you advice, you know.”
“KUSHINA IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!” shrieked the Yellow Flash. At that exact moment, Orochimaru shuffled inside the tent, hand shoved in both pockets, armor plating tightened around his body much like Jiraiya.
The pale skinned Sannin raised an eyebrow at Minato's outburst, his dull yellow orbs considering the blonde. “I can see that the both of you are deliberating on some very important issues.” snarled the black-haired Sannin sardonically.
“Orochimaru-san....I was...I mean...” Minato babbled senselessly.
“Don't bother. I'm well aware of the contagious nature of Jiraiya's incurable foolishness.” Orochimaru sneered. “In any case, I'm here to go over our tactics for tonight's raid one last time. Since Minato is here, it would be wise to modify our plans to accommodate him.”
Jiraiya nodded and returned his book to his pouch. Orochimaru took a seat on the tent floor. A snake was wrapped gingerly around his right arm. The serpent coiled up the Orochimaru's face, opened its mouth wide, and regurgitated a small scroll. The rolled up parchment appeared a bit tattered, and it was coated with saliva. Minato and Jiraiya grimaced, while Orochimaru smiled ever so slighty.
“I'm not touching that.” said Jiraiya resolutely, still wincing. “I may never eat again. I hate it when you do that!”
Minato was trying to mask his disgust behind a blank expression.
Orochimaru, unfazed by their reactions, extracted the scroll from where it hung in the reptile's mouth. With he scroll removed by Orochimaru, the snake closed its mouth, gave a sinister hiss and slithered around its summoner's arm such that its head was near the Sannin's wrist, though not visible to Jiraiya and Minato. “You know we needed a safe place to hide that scroll.”
“I obtained it from the Kiri ninja, why couldn't I keep it? I could have hidden it in one of my toads!” howled Jiraiya.
“I'm team leader, you fool. It has to rest with me.” replied Orochimaru placidly, narrowing his eyes into slits, glaring at Jiraiya. The snake wrapped around his arm was hissing furiously, and Jiraiya's features remained set in utter revulsion.
“What's in the scroll?” asked Minato, changing the subject in order to placate the situation.
Orochimaru shrugged and gently unrolled the parchment. On it were untidy markings of arrows, targets marked with the letter 'X', and various other things which were not out of place on a battle plan. His snake had fallen silent. “Details of how Kiri plans to take our camp.” explained Orochimaru. “I'm a bit surprised they actually found us.”
“As am I,” said Minato sharply, his eyes pinned on the small parchment, “perhaps there's a traitor?”
Jiraiya's eyes flickered over to Minato, a gleam of surprise in them. “I trust our shinobi.” the Sannin hotly, puffing out his chest, and folding his brawny arms in a haughty manner.
“I don't, which is why I thought it necessary to secure the scroll.” said Orochimaru grimly. “If it was destroyed, then we'd have no idea what they were planning. Worse, if a spy got the chance to modify it, then we'd make wrong preparations.”
“Assuming there's a spy, just assuming,” Minato added quickly when he spotted Jiraiya's furious look, “how do we catch him, or her?”
“First, we have to be sure. If Kiri doesn't invade us tonight, then we'd be sure there's a spy as he or she would have tipped them off.” said Jiraiya.
“Then again, they might decided to call off the strike for another reason.” Orochimaru noted, and his eyes settled on Minato, staring blankly at him.
“My arrival?” asked Minato. Orochimaru nodded darkly. “That's actually true.” stated Minato.
“Flee-on-sight orders.” drawled Orochimaru. “Your mere presence might have destroyed nearly a month of planning on our part.”
Minato sighed and glared at Jiraiya bitterly. It was the white-haired pervert's fault that Minato was there in the first place. Jiraiya noticed Minato's glowering, and simply avoided his student's gaze, directing his eyes at Orochimaru instead.
“Something tells me they won't be so quick to call off their strike.” noted Jiraiya. According to those plans, they intend to combine the Hidden Mist technique with the darkness of night and various large scale genjutsu. If we weren't aware of their plans, they might have actually succeeded.”
“Do we know the particular brand of genjutsu in question?” asked Minato, a worried expression settling over his face. His gaze swam away from Jiraiya, and was now centered on the other Sannin.
“Doesn't matter. We have sensors, an Inuzuka, two Sharingan users and three Byakugan users.” said Orochimaru.
“Mist will negate the Sharingan. If the genjutsu is particularly strong then sensory skills and the Byaku-” Minato had began but was interrupted by Jiraiya.
“We also have a sensory barrier, which senses movement instead of chakra. I'm sure you remember my barrier, Minato?” Jiraiya was looking more haughty than ever, his face brightened with a wide grin. He took particular pride in the fact that he would play such an important role.
“That's true.” said Minato.
“My snakes, to a lesser extent, are capable of sensing enemies. Basically, nothing can escape our detection. No genjutsu will be decieving us tonight.” declared Orochimaru resolutely.
For a moment, the trio of extraordinarily powerful ninja remained silent. Minato heaved a great sigh of relief. “It sounds like you've got everything under control here, Orochimaru-san.” said the Yellow Flash with a happy smile.
“Yes, I do,” responded Orochimaru. “which is why I'm surprised that Sarutobi-sensei sent you here.” His eyes narrowed at Minato, and his gaze was apprehensive.
“Who knows.” drawled Jiraiya.
Orochimaru rolled up the ragged scroll and quickly got to his feet. His snake, as if in response to to his master's movement, slithered up his arm, closing in on the Sannin's face. The reptile's eyes were keen and searching, like it was awaiting instructions as it flicked its tongue at Orochimaru. Orochimaru drifted the scroll near the mouth of his snake. Promptly, the reptile downed the rolled up parchment in one swift gulp. The Sannin then glided slowly out of the pavilion. “It starts by 11. Be ready.” were his last words before he completely abandoned Jiraiya's tent.
To Be Continued.
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