Naruto: The Outsider's Resolve

[A Naruto Fan Fiction] Make the best of what you have, they said... But what I am supposed to do when the best I have are red-eyed freaks, a child who's supposed to be the jailor of the most dangerous being in the world, a snake bastard with serious boundary issues, and a whole world of super soldiers with licences to murder. And you know the best part? None of them like me so much... Oh shut it, old man! Take that Will of Fire and shove it up your— Yeah, this second swing at life isn't panning out... --------------------------------------------------------------- DISCORD SERVER: https://discord.gg/w5dJ82SfMr --------------------------------------------------------------- PATREON LINK: https://www.patreon.com/fictiononlyreader --------------------------------------------------------------- DECLARATION: This story is also present on: FFN, Ao3, SpaceBattles, SufficientVelocity, and ScribbleHub RoyalRoad [to be verified] --------------------------------------------------------------- DISCLAIMER: I don't own any character other than my OCs. The cover pic was commissioned from Kodah.art on Instagram

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CH_6.16 (187)

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​​Anko asked the team to stop a kilometer away from the first scout hideout.

"Why did we stop?" asked Iori.

"It's a concealed post. They have a clear view of their target location, but that goes the other way around as well— we have to ensure it's safe to approach the post and we aren't compromising their cover and location." Anko turned to Takuma. "Send a message to them."

Takuma nodded. He set his backpack on the ground, retrieved a portable communication radio, half the size of a shoe box, and began turning the dials to tune to the radio frequency of the radio in the post.

"You know how to work a radio?" Iori asked in surprise.

"l learned it last year," said Takuma.

He had spent good money to join a short course, buy a second-hand communication radio to train, and studied a very thick instruction manual with detailed everything from maintenance and standard communication procedures to make himself competent with a radio. With their current equipment, they could communicate around two kilometers before the reliability tanked. It took up too much space in the backpack, however.

"The post has given their clear," said Takuma. "The instruction is to remain below the summit and wait for one of them to guide us to the hideout."

"Excellent, let's go," Anko nodded.

The post was built near the summit of a hill that oversaw a valley that served as a viable point of entry into the Land of Hot Water territory. Both sides knew its importance. The post was responsible for observing the valley and reporting their observations. If the Hidden Frost shinobi decided to use the valley as an entrance point, they needed to pick them out before they penetrated deeper into the territory.

One of the shinobi from the post met them behind the summit.

"It's better if only half of you come up," said the scout.

Anko nodded and asked Iori and Takuma to follow her while Daiki, Rikku, and Kameko stayed behind.

As they reached the concealed post, Takuma could see why the location was chosen as a scout hideout. They had a vast view of the valley from a high altitude. It was a perfect vantage point.

The hideout itself was a hole in the ground on the slope of the hole. One look told that it was built from using Earth-Style ninjutsu. Perhaps because it was made with ninjutsu, the hole was very spacious for four people who lived in it.

It was standard procedure for each hideout to have four people who would take six-hour shifts keeping watch. Two people would remain awake, with one on the lookout and the other on standby, and the remaining would sleep and rest until their shifts. Standard procedure was at times broken due to a lack of manpower, but it was essential that every hideout had at least three people.

"Welcome," said one of the scouts.

"I hope we aren't late," said Anko.

"Not at all," said the man.

Takuma noticed that all four scouts were Hidden Steam shinobi. He thought since they were making the supply runs, they would be supplying food and water to Hidden Leaf shinobi.

Iori handed the storage scrolls with rations to the scouts and sealed the garbage they had accumulated into empty storage scrolls. They couldn't litter as it could attract birds, which could attract the enemy's attention—burying was an option, but taking it away from the site was the safest option.

Takuma watched Iori work. Storage scrolls were perhaps the most important part of logistics for shinobi. The simple ability to seal something into a scroll was of tremendous use. It eliminated the weight and space occupied, making it so that a civilian could carry more than the strongest shinobi. There were limitations to storage spells—they were one-time use only, and higher-grade storage scrolls capable of carrying a lot of weight were difficult to make, requiring masterfully skilled fuin-nin—but the world of shinobi would look much different without the existence of storage scrolls.

"Anything out of the ordinary?" Anko asked.

The scout handed Anko the report scroll.

"A few sightings here and there, but other than that, there hasn't been anything to be worried about," the scout replied.

"Do you recommend we use the valley to advance?" she asked.

Takuma gazed out at the valley. If they had a good look at the valley, it was safe to assume that the enemy would be keeping on it as well. Any sign of aggressive advancement from either side could quickly turn the valley into a conflict hotspot with high tension from both sides.

"No, our recommendation would be to be on the defensive stance," said the scout. "Mounting an advance would be a high-cost affair. The Frost scum would use the sloped mountains to pick at our troops while we struggled down at the ground. The potential for lost lives is too high. Our recommendation is in the report."

"Thank you. That will be all," said Anko.

The two sleeping scouts had woken up. Anko asked everyone some more questions before ending the conversation, which is when everyone relaxed.

She then asked, "Any letters you would like to be delivered?"

"Yes, please." The scouts handed Anko a thin stack of letters.

Takuma stared at the letters. He hadn't thought about it, but the people back at home would be worried about him. He decided that he would be sending letters periodically to his friends.

They exited as quickly as they came.

As they were walking away from the hideout, Anko ordered. "Takuma, check if there are people nearby."

Takuma was surprised but complied. He knelt on the ground and weaved hand seals before pushing his palm on to the ground.

Earth Tremor Sense Jutsu

The jutsu allowed him to sense the presence of people in a one-kilometer radius. He had gone from being able to sense the simple presence of people to being able to detect their detection to finally reaching a level where he could tell how far away they were from him. It worked best in the wilderness, away from any man made structures, as the jutsu couldn't search for people if they were on the higher floors of a building, making the jutsu much less useful in an urban landscape.

A thrum of earthen chakra rippled out from his palms as the epicenter. Takuma closed his eyes and waited for a few seconds before the ripples returned to him. He breathed out as he interpreted the input, filtering out the unnecessary until he had what he wanted.

"I sense ten people in a one-kilometer radius. From the directions, they're the four scouts, the three of us, and the rest of our team. Unless they're above ground, I don't sense any additional people," he said.

"Let's move," she said.

As they ran to the summit and down the other side, Takuma asked, "May I ask why we did that scan? Do we not trust our own scouts? Was it because they're from the Hidden Steam?"

"I trust our scouts, even if they are from the Hidden Steam, but these guys are responsible for keeping an eye on the valley ahead… there's a good chance that they end up ignoring what's near them. There's no harm in checking; it's for their safety."

"Understood," said Takuma.

He glanced back at the vast valley for a moment before they left it behind.



Their next location wasn't another hideout; instead, it was a message drop location used for messages that couldn't be sent through carrier birds in fear that they could potentially be intercepted along the way. The messenger would personally deliver the message to the drop box, and someone else would collect it and bring it to the final destination.

So Takuma was immensely confused when Anko pushed away the leafy camouflage to reveal what looked like emergency supplies. She lifted a backpack out of the small hole and replaced all the canned food, sealed water, checked on the dry clothes, tent and survival kit, and the three weapons pouches.

"I thought this was a message drop location," he asked.

"It is," Anko laughed. "As one of the commandments goes: a shinobi must look underneath the underneath— but the problem is that they don't." She used her hand to dig some of the ground out to reveal a tube container. "When people find something hidden, they stop looking, thinking that they found all there was to be found. But in truth, they might have only found what they were allowed to find."

Anko removed the cap from the tube without pulling the container out of the ground, looked inside, recapped the tube, and buried it back to hide it underground.

"This way, even if someone did somehow find this location, they might miss its real purpose because of the emergency backpack," she said. "But always remember, this is the final life of defense—when approaching a hidden drop location, so you don't have a tail or someone waiting at the location in hiding."



The rest of the day, Team-9 went from place to place, visiting watch positions, checking up on the scouts, replenishing their rations, and receiving their reports. They moved quickly and with caution, and thankfully, they encountered no danger. The only hindrance they faced was the heavy rain they encountered.

Traveling in the rain was a hassle because they eventually got soaked even with their rain gear, and they struggled to find a good campsite to rest for the night. They ultimately found themselves in a shallow cave to camp under.

Anko spoke to him to the group as they were drying themselves in front of a fire,

"We had an easy time today, and I want tomorrow to be the same. And it's imperative that we are like ghosts tomorrow," she said.

"Because of the mines?" asked Iori.

"Yes, the hideout near the gold mine is of utmost importance. We can't risk breaking their cover no matter what the cost."

Takuma stopped tending to the fire, opened a map, and looked for the gold mine on it. He frowned when he saw that the gold mine was on the border, but it was in the Land of Hot Waters territory. Even if the border was a disputed territory, it was still well within the control of the Land of Hot Waters.

"Did the enemy take control of the mine?" he asked.

"They captured the gold mine quite early in the conflict. It was one of the first areas they targeted," she said. "From the previous reports, they have been directing the mined gold into their territory."

A gold mine was an essential resource for a nation as gold was one of the most valuable metals. Losing territory was one thing, but losing access to an entire gold mine was a matter of another magnitude altogether.

"Why haven't they taken the mine already?" he asked.

"That's something only the people in the capital know," Anko shrugged. "The gold mine is the property of the Hot Water Daimyo, and he has left the decision to the Hidden Steam. They haven't made a move, so even if the Hidden Leaf wanted to retake the mine for them, we can't move unless they approve it."

"What about the civilians in the mine?" asked Takuma. If the gold was still being mined, then it meant that someone was mining it.

"… The miners are all there as punishment," Anko said.

Takuma sighed. He didn't need to be told more. Forced labor was an acceptable and popular form of punishment in this world. It was much more popular than traditional prisons as the governments were able to turn criminals into dirt-cheap labor. Many of the people Takuma had arrested and sent to trials were sent to plantations and mines. While they served shorter times than they would in a traditional prison, working in mines was a very arduous time.

The Land of Hot Waters had decided that the lives of the criminals in the mine weren't important enough for immediate rescue.



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