Chapter Forty Eight ~ Infiltration

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"We have a mission," I  announced.

Michiko whispered a gleeful, "Yesss!" under her breath. Aisa gave a little jump, grinning. Even Kento perked up. Ever since I had finagled Tsunade into providing his sister health care, Kento had improved. He looked more well rested, was more alert, and had done better on all his training overall. He was showing his true potential and finally backing up his classroom ranks with substantial foolproof evidence.

He'd gotten to the training grounds before the other two today, and when I raised an eyebrow, he gave a small, tight grin and told me,"I quit my other job yesterday." 

I had simply nodded, and he, seeing my small sign of approval, lit up.

"What's the mission?" Aisa questioned eagerly. "Are we delivering a priceless artifact?"

"Escorting more idiots?" Michiko asked dryly.

"Stealing a priceless artifact?" Kento inquired gleefully.

"None of the above," I replied dryly. "This is a reconnaissance mission. We're infiltrating a small village that has been said to be supporting a growing criminal organization. We aren't there to fight or shut it down. We just want to get a feel for it's size, reach, and goals, and what exactly is going on in that village. The organization currently poses no threat to Konoha, but we should gather this information while the danger is still small."

Michiko frowned. "How are we infiltrating? Won't it be a little suspicious if all four of us go? We're pretty clearly a ninja team, right?"

Such smart young ones.

"Exactly," I said. "You three will be carrying out the infiltration by yourselves-- at least, to the casual observer. I will be there the entire time, lurking in the shadows. On the off chance I end up following a lead of my own and need to rendezvous with the group elsewhere, I will snag and inform one of you. When the time is best, of course. Being caught impersonating or infiltrating is not a lightly taken crime or mission. You three need to be careful. Efficient, but careful. You need to watch out for each other. And always remember, I'm there."

Their eyes brightened as they looked at me with a certain sparkle in their eyes. These idiots, I will never be able to reason why they're so fond of me.

"As for the leader of this mission," I continued. "Kento will lead this time. Understood?" Kento's face brightened and his shoulders straightened as the other two looked to him in support. "Yes Sensei!"

"We will leave tomorrow morning. Be at the gates by 0500. As for the briefing, I'll inform you of further mission details after training today." I finished, smirking. They thought they were going to get out of training with the news, huh?

I was met with three identical groans that only made my smirk grow wider.

***

"I'm ho-ere!" I announced, walking into my old apartment.

"Kitchen," Aiden called back. "Is Aisa with you?"

"Nope," I replied. "He's hanging out with his teammates. Said he'd be back before dinner, though. What are you making?"

"Stew," Aiden answered. "Will you start the rice?"

"Sure," I agreed, grabbing the rice and beginning to measure it out. "My team has a mission," I told him.

Aiden's shoulders tensed only slightly. Most would have missed the movement but I caught it at a glance easily. "How long?"

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