Chapter Fifty Three ~ Rebuilding

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"I have an... activity for today," I announced.

I was met with various levels of enthusiasm. Aisa remained staring off to the side, Kento perked up and gave me a curious look, and Michiko gave me a hesitant, nervous smile. Normally Aisa would be asking me for all the details immediately, Kento and Michiko backing him up with inane questions. This time, however, they all remained silent.

I sighed quietly. Their confidence had been shot by that mission, and now that the worst of their punishment was done, it was time to build them back up from where I'd torn them down to.

"I often have you fight one another or have all of you fight me," I tell them. "Today, I've arranged with another sensei to have our respective teams fight." When none of them reacted much, I added dryly, "That means you."

Michiko, ever the strategist, is the first to speak. "Can you tell us which team and when?"

"The exercise will take place at training ground three in one hour," I replied. "Senseis, of course, will not be assisting. As for with whom you'll be squaring off... have any of you kept in touch with your fellow graduating genin?"

My students shared unsure glances, only now realizing how removed from their old lives they've become. I hide a smirk. "I mean..." Kento began uncertainly, "We may have passed by them at some point? But we haven't... met up with them?"

"You've kept us busy training and doing missions all the time," Michiko waved the question down. "When would we go to hang out with old classmates? Or want to, for that matter?"

I puff out a short breath of laughter. "Fair enough. But you'll be facing off against your old classmates Usui Sugi, Matsuo Komi, and Nakayama Tadahisa. They're taught by Utada Goro."

Michiko narrowed her eyes, and I hid a grin as I saw her scheming begin. "Are we allowed to use any weapons? What'll be the rules?"

"The other sensei insisted on no use of lethal force." I rolled my eyes. "He also would prefer if all genin refrain from maiming one another. The object of this is to capture the enemy's flag while protecting your own."

Aisa finally spoke, and when he did it was with a disparaging tone and crossed arms. "Your idea of training is capture the flag?"

Michiko and Kento froze, watching Aisa from the corner of their eyes. They weren't happy with the turnout of the last mission, either, but they at least were being somewhat adept at controlling their emotions. Aisa, on the other hand...

"Yes," I answered smoothly. "Is my training not good enough for you?"

Aisa backed down a little, but continued to speak up against my training plans for today. "I'm just saying sensei, you didn't become powerful by playing capture the flag, did you?"

Michiko slid in front of Aisa, and held her hands up in an apologetic manner. "He didn't mean it like that, sensei. He means to say, thank you for putting so much effort into training us," she sent a warning look at Aisa, "Right, Aisa?"

He grudgingly looked away, but held his tongue. Most likely in fear that he would ruin the day for the entire team. I ignored the byplay and continued, "The other sensei and I have agreed that the exercise will take place in one hour. Prepare however you think best."

I stepped back, and Michiko immediately turned to Aisa and Kento. "Do you guys have the scrolls?"

I raised an eyebrow as all three nodded. Scrolls? My questions were answered as they pulled out the scrolls and showed one another. They each held two scrolls: one that would contain enough rations for a week long mission and one that held the standard konoha issue of spare kunai and shurikan. I smirked. They were learning. Always be prepared.

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