I do not own Naruto. All rights remain that of Kishimoto.
After reading several messages regarding the prologue and several people's wish for me to expand it, I decided to try and force my muse to give me inspiration.
I think I can get this story to hit a dozen or so chapters, hopefully reaching the Chunin Exams.
Oh, the rating I chose is due to differing cultural values between Japan and the western world. Don't want the Moral Guardians to launch a campaign against me, after all.
I hope you enjoy the story.
Some people claim that Fate controls everything. There are many sayings supporting this view. Sayings like 'You can't fight Fate' or 'Fate always wins'. For those who look at life that way, prophecy is an echo of fate, a signpost showing what must be.
Others claim that chance rules over all. That chance is constantly interfering, that a single flap of a butterfly's wing can cause a hurricane half a world away, that how a single leaf falls can change the universe. Prophecy for them is sign of what might be, depending on how it is looked at.
Both claims are true, and both are false.
The very nature of the multiverse explains why memories blur. It doesn't matter if one steps to the left of a stone or to the right. If one catches a ball or drops it has almost no effect on the greater path of things. They are simply localised ripples in the river of reality, slight signs that people are switching between universes where the only difference is where they put the car keys the previous evening.
Occasionally, though, a choice is made that does affect the river of realities. An Event occurs that diverts the flow, that changes the future for that particular sub-stream of realities. This is known as a Divergence.
There can be many such Divergences. A boy gains a scar on his forehead in accordance with a prophecy. But what if the scar took away his sight? What if the infant wandered away from the doorstep he was left on and got taken in by a woman who would come to care for him? What if an assassin returning from a mission took him and introduced him to her friends, one of whom was a god? What if he was taken in by those related to him but managed to turn himself into a magical cat a few years later? The Divergences are endless and go different routes with different endings.
But then what is the Divergence here? What is the event that caused the river of reality to settle into a different bed of events?
The answer lies in a dark and stormy night…
Well, a mid-afternoon, actually. But I always wanted to say the above.
In another universe, the genin practicing the chameleon jutsu that his sensei gave him would still have noticed the young boy spying on him, copying his actions. The genin, in his anger at being watched, would have chased the boy until he was stopped by a member of the ANBU.
He would have been interrogated and cleared of everything except hot-headedness, a lesson he would take to heart. He would learn meditation, self-control and would pass his first Chunin exam with flying colours. And when he saw the boy again at the boy's chunin exams, he would fail to recognise him, but he would protect the boy as he left the arena after his friend, preventing a Sound Nin from throwing a poisoned kunai at him.
Eventually he would make Jonin, get married and have children, living out his days happily and training a new team, imbuing them with the art of self-control.
But that was in another universe...
"Aaargh! Only the legs this time!"
Naruto looked up from the piece of food he had found at an abandoned training campsite. Although burned and then slightly dampened by the light drizzle, it was still edible, especially since he hadn't had more than a few scraps to eat in the three days that he had been thrown out of the orphanage on his fifth birthday.
Making a decision, Naruto stuffed the rest of the food into his mouth and crawled into the underbrush, his overly-large jacket (that he had liberated from the orphanage's washline after the matron had literally kicked him out during the night in just his underwear) brushing against the ground as he crept barefoot through the twigs. Reaching a position where he could peer out through the narrow gap between two trees, he paused long enough to re-tie one of the strings that held his oversized trousers in place, trousers that had come from the same line as his jacket.
What he saw was almost unbelievable, a boy a bit more than twice his age, with only his upper body visible. Naruto stared as the boy's legs faded back into view, then the boy began a sequence of handseals, carefully forming each one as he did so. Naruto watched, his wide eyes taking in every finger twitch that the older boy made.
"Toton no Jutsu!"
The boy faded from view and Naruto gasped.
The boy flickered back into view and his hand blurred, sending a trio of shuriken slicing though the undergrowth. Naruto flinched and scrambled away as fast as he could. As he did so, a Kunai sliced past his head, missing him by barely a fingerwidth before bouncing off a tree and landing on the ground. Never one to pass up free tools, Naruto grabbed the Kunai as he dodged round another tree, then an idea occurred to him.
Maybe if he could vanish, the boy chasing him would leave him alone. Biting on the handle of the Kunai, Naruto began the hand-seals, unknowingly channeling Chakra and a hint of Youkai as he did so.
The term Million-to-one-chance is often used to describe things that happen despite all the apparent factors that should have prevented it. When one sits down and actually calculates things, the odds are usually far greater.
One small boy managing to correctly copy the hand-seals for a Jutsu created by a Sannin and learned by several shinobi who specialised in infiltration and stealth.
250 to 1
The boy actually being near a training field where said Jutsu was being learned by a Genin whose Jonin-sensei had left with the other two Genin for lunch.
25,000 to 1
A Genin accidently throwing the only Chakra-conductive Kunai he had in his fully-stocked Kunai pouch.
20 to 1
A Five-year old channeling Chakra a full two years before he could reasonably be expected to.
100 to 1
Unknowingly containing the most powerful demon in existence and utilising its power by accident.
20,000,000 to 1
A bolt of lightning hitting a person.
5,000 to 1
Cancel the previous. A bolt of lightning hitting a person without killing them at the exact instant that they were releasing a jutsu.
2,750,000,000 to 1
The total odds of such a sequence of events happening.
687,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1
Compared to that, a million-to-one chance is a dead certainty.
But Uzumaki Naruto, in every single universe he existed in, was known to live without being affected by the odds. If something was considered impossible, he could generally do it. He could learn the Rasengan in a month, then complete it when the Yondaime Hokage had given up on it. He could overcome an inability to replenish his Sage Chakra by using Kage Bunshin to do it for him.
And he could survive being hit by lightning.
Although the interaction between the lightning, the jutsu, his healing ability, his chakra nature (wind) and the suddenly-shocked-awake Kyuubi inside him…
…produced something that no-one could have foreseen.
The Genin sat against the wall in the Hokage's office, his wide eyes staring at nothing visible to the rest of his team.
"…then he… he ran and I… I tried to… and he… lightning… gone…"
Hiruzen stared at the genin, then at the Jonin who shrugged.
"I have no idea, Hokage-sama. We came back from our lunch and found him like this. I would like to ask for permission for Yamanaka Inoichi or one of his clan to use their skills to find out what happened to cause this."
"I agree." Hiruzen said. "It may be important. Take him to the Yamanaka compound, and report back once the situation has clarified itself."
"Eeurgh. What hit me?"
Naruto slowly sat up and rubbed at his eyes, looking round. For several moments, the mental fog prevented his mind from recognising the situation, but eventually, several important facts perculated through.
He could see.
But his eyes were closed.
He culd see.
But he couldn't see his hands.
He could see.
But he couldn't see any part of himself.
As the facts registered, Naruto inhaled sharply, then he screamed.
Afterwards, Naruto would be hard pressed to reconstruct the events of his first afternoon of invisibility. The first half-hour or so passed in a panicked haze, as he ran around trying to find evidence that he actually existed. Eventually, he decided that the bruises that he had accumulated by running into trees probably counted towards him still being alive and he sat down just as two masked figures landed.
"So, this is where the demon brat was killed." One of them said with a satisfied tone of voice. "It seems like Susanoo had the right idea yesterday. I think I'll switch to worshipping the storm god for killing the Uzumaki gaki."
Naruto froze. He didn't know who or what Susanoo was, but having the masked figures talk about him like that…
"The work of the Fourth has been completed." Said the second in a tone of deep satisfaction. "He sealed the Kyuubi, turning it into a baby, and now that kid is finally dead."
Naruto's eyes widened and he felt his insides congeal. Was that why everyone hated him? Was he really the Kyuubi, the monster that had attacked Konoha five years ago?
With a heavy heart, Naruto rose and set off towards the Hokage tower. Maybe the Old Man who occasionally visited him could provide answers.
As he walked, Naruto became aware that no-one was glaring at him, or making signs to ward off evil. In fact, no-one was looking at him at all. After the third time that he had to leap out of the way of someone striding along, Naruto tucked in behind a team walking towards the tower, using them to shield himself from being knocked over by those who didn't know that he was there.
"Hey! Did you hear the news?"
The man leading the team paused, his students (and Naruto) coming to a stop as another ninja jogged up.
"The Uzumaki kid's dead! He was hit by a lightning bolt and turned into vapour! He's gone, and so is that damned demon he was carrying."
Naruto blinked. The demon he was carrying? But wasn't he the demon?
"That isn't good." The team leader said after a few seconds of thought. "It means that we've lost our Jinchuuriki, we're now the only one of the great five without a demon container. That puts us at a disadvantage."
Naruto frowned. Demon container? Did that truly mean that he wasn't the Kyuubi after all?
"But with the Kyuubi gone forever, we are the village that destroyed not just a Biju, but the strongest Biju." The new ninja smirked. "No-one will dare use theirs against us in case we destroy theirs as well. The Sandaime is going to make a speech about it tomorrow morning from the roof to explain everything."
"Then I shall hold off on tomorrow's mission." Said the team leader. "Thank you, aniki."
"No probs, big bro."
Naruto sneaked off, sliding past the chunin guarding the entrance to the tower. Running silently up the stairs, he soon reached the roof. Walking to the edge, he looked out at the sprawling town, then he sighed and moved to shelter from the afternoon sun under one of the curved panels extending upwards from the edge of the roof terrace. Closing his eyes, he muttered a curse as he discovered once again that he could still see perfectly with his eyes closed.
How was he supposed to sleep if he couldn't even block out the light?
"People of Konohagakure!"
Naruto jolted out of his light doze as Sarutobi Hiruzen's voice echoed, magnified by the seals set into the rising pillars.
"People of Konohagakure, The day before yesterday saw the death of Uzumaki Naruto…"
A huge cheer rose from the gathered crowd and Naruto's eyes filled with tears at the proof that he was hated so much. Hiruzen frowned and motioned for silence, a silence that was a long time in coming.
"As I was saying, the day before yesterday saw the death of Uzumaki Naruto and as such, it is time that you knew the truth about him. Naruto was born of the tenth of October, the day that the Kyuubi no Kitsune attacked Konoha. As most of you know, the Yondaime Hokage, Namikaze Minato, sealed the Kyuubi into the boy at the cost of his own life. That much you all know, but it is nowhere near the whole truth.
"Both of Naruto's parents died on the day of his birth, giving their lives to seal away the Kyuubi. His mother was Uzumaki Kushina, the Red-Headed Habenaro and Kenjitsu mistress, as well as the second Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi."
The crowd erupted in gasps, shouted questions and screamed denials and Hiruzen again motioned for silence.
"The first Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi was Senju Mito, born Uzumaki Mito and the wife of the First Hokage, a Kunoichi who bound the Kyuubi into herself when it was being controlled by Uchiha Madara at the Valley of the End. When she was dying, she transferred her burden to her niece Kushina, who had come here from Uzushiogakure to do so. The fact that Kushina held the Kyuubi was not well-known, at her request, but by holding it, she protected Konohagakure in a manner deserving of respect and admiration, for only an Uzumaki can hope to contain the Kyuubi without dying.
"During her time as a kunoichi, Kushina met and fell in love with another shinobi. They often fought side by side and she eventually married him in a secret ceremony. Soon after, she became pregnant with his child.
"A problem that female Jinchuuriki have is that when they give birth, the seal that holds the Biju weakens, meaning that it is possible for the Biju to escape. To keep Konohagakure safe should such a thing happen, Kushina, her husband and my wife secretly travelled to a cave for Kushina to give birth there, a cave that only they knew the location of.
"Or so they thought."
The entire city was silent, the population barely breathing as the previously unknown story unfolded.
"As she was giving birth, they were attacked by an unknown person. My wife was killed trying to protect them and the Kyuubi was ripped from Kushina, mortally wounding her in the process. The person then unleashed the Kyuubi against Konoha, a night that we all remember only too well.
"It was the Yondaime who saved us, but he did not do so alone. He managed to return the Kyuubi to the cave, where he and the dying Kushina worked together to seal the Kyuubi once more, this time into her son. Using a seal that cost him his life, Minato finished the sealing, then he and Kushina died in each others arms from the wounds they had taken. They died, and their son, Uzumaki-Namikaze Naruto, lived."
For almost a full minute, it didn't sink in, then a wave of shouts, curses and protests rose into the air. Once again, Hiruzen motioned for silence, but this time, it was a long time coming. When the crowd had finally quietened down, Hiruzen spoke again.
"The last wish of Minato was that his son would be seen as a hero. This morning, I fulfilled that wish when I engraved his name on the memorial stone. In his death, he took the Kyuubi with him. He was not the Kyuubi, he was its prison and its jailor, only a fool or a moron would believe otherwise.
"And with him gone, so to goes any chance of the Namikaze legacy being revived. The Namikaze Mansion, hidden behind the time-space seals, can only be opened by one of Namikaze blood, and there are none now that Naruto is gone. The Rasengan and the Hiraishin are now no more, the scrolls containing them forever concealed in the Namikaze library. I have no doubt that our enemies shall rejoice at our misfortune. I can hope only that when he died, Naruto truly took the Kyuubi with him, for if he did not, the Kyuubi shall return for it is almost impossible to permanently kill a Biju since they reform within ten years of their deaths and we no longer have an Uzumaki available to contain it for us.
"I hope you are proud of yourselves and of the hatred you had for the one who saved us."
With that final snarled comment, accompanied by a blast of Killing Intent that almost caused Naruto to empty his bladder, Hiruzen stalked off, vanishing back into the tower. As the other adults followed him, talking amongst themselves in low voices, Naruto stayed motionless, thinking about what he had learned.
His father was the Fourth Hokage!
His mother had been a famous ninja!
He was the reason his parents had died, and everyone thought that he was dead. Him and the Kyuubi inside him.
The sun sank as Naruto thought about what he had learned. As it touched the horizon, Naruto nodded to himself.
"They think I'm dead, so I am. I'm going to be a ghost. I can't be Uzumaki Naruto any more, I'm Yurei, a spirit. I'll stay as Naruto, but now… Now, I'm Yurei Naruto, the Spirit of the Maelstrom."
Authors afternote :- In response to certain questions, the divergences I mentioned are -
Blind - As A Bat (complete) - pottermalfoy24
Wandered away - The Paths Diverge (complete) - Vaneria Potter
Assassin - Harry Romanoff-Barton* (slow updates) - Eternity Sword
Cat - Growing Up Kneazle (complete) - Manatocfox
*Partial crossover with The Institute Saga II