For once, I woke up not merely full of energy and zest, but with a genuine smile stretching my lips to the fullest. The wondrous smell and sizzle of bacon had me springing to my feet and almost running to the table, quickly pigging out as a pair of shadow clones brought more dishes heaped full of yumminess.
Shadow clones were the reason for my happiness. I was pretty sure the rest of the contents of the Forbidden Scroll of Seals would also prove useful, but the one jutsu I'd learned yesterday would guarantee my success as a ninja, combined with my massive chakra reserves it was enough to set in steel my path towards becoming the greatest ninja in the Elemental Lands.
Checking the alarm clock, I saw that I had enough time before the Academy to absorb the memories of the clones who'd spent the night training and spying, as well as replace them. Putting on the orange jumpsuit and making a mental note of the need for a proper outfit, I ran off to the forest's edge, enjoying the crisp, refreshingly cool early air of Konoha. Concentrating, measuring the amount of chakra with precision, employing a jounin level technique I'd learned from a book borrowed from ANBU headquarters with much effort (the learning - the borrowing went surprisingly easy), I unsealed some equipment and created fifty overcharged shadow clone.
A bit of experimentation yesterday showed that when a shadow clone created another clone, it absorbed its memories, before forwarding them to me when it dispelled in its turn. Allowing clones to digest the memories would go a long way towards preventing massive headaches, possible brain damage, and would probably make the learning easier, as each group of clones studied a discrete subject or were employed in a specific task. Of course, I had every intention of working further on the memory transfer thing, but there was no rush - I was pretty sure the current setup couldn't be easily improved, at least for training purposes.
With each supervisor clone spawning forty more, that was a cool two thousand practicing and learning. For the first four, I held onto several kunai and shuriken pouches, they would perfect throwing and dodging techniques. The next six groups each received a portion of the Forbidden Scroll of Seals, which I'd secretly made copies of yesterday. They were to review the jutsus and seals therein for useful ones, and each was to actually start studying the best of them. A full ten groups were assigned to chakra control, the bedrock of all ninja techniques. It had taken me almost three years to master tree and water walking, but the medical books I'd stolen (and several of the ANBU manuals) had much more advanced training techniques, in fact some of those exercises sounded insane. With five hundred clones working on chakra control day and night, I figured I'd be ready to start working on medical techniques and genjutsu, the art of illusion, in a couple of months, and possibly have perfect control in a year.
The next twenty five groups were to work on elemental manipulation, five each to air, water, earth, fire and lightning. I had a large number of jutsu scrolls waiting for me to master elemental chakra, and with Konoha being Fire Country's ninja village, a good third were fire techniques. Most of the scrolls came from the bloody ruins of the Uchiha district, good riddance to those bastards, but I'd made sure to nick as many as I could whenever the opportunity arose. Most ninja had a single elemental affinity, but old man Hokage, the Professor, had mastered all five, so it was possible - and with shadow clones, it wouldn't even be difficult.
The last five clone groups headed off for training would be working on my calligraphy, the basic skill need for fuuinjutsu, the art of sealing - the art for which my clan, the lost and mighty Uzumaki, were known and feared for. I didn't have many treatises on the subject, unfortunately, and the only real seal master Konoha currently had was the Sannin Jirayia, who was rarely in residence, but this art was what had made my father so feared (together with his speed), and I was counting on natural talent. Even if I had none, I would persevere, as the sealing arts were in my opinion the greatest tool a ninja could have, a skilled practitioner could supposedly do anything with seals.
With the clones running off, knowing to wait on spawning the many training clones until they received the memories of the night, I sat seiza and conjured a single weak shadow clone which instantly dispelled itself, informing the legion to dispel. Trying to meditate, I waited to absorb the memories of the clones I'd set to work yesterday evening. I pretty much sucked at meditation, but maybe the couple of hundred clones I'd set to trying it had gotten somewhere in fourteen hours of trying it. Five minutes later, a huge bunch of memories hit me, and meditation suddenly got easier. In something of a trance, I accepted the large packets of knowledge and experience that hit me every thirty seconds or so, slowly but surely incorporating them into myself. When a minute passed without more returning, I checked my nose for blood, and sighed in relief when there was none in evidence. The headache was already fading.
Breathing deeply, I rested a while more, then called up another twenty overcharged clones, actually feeling the chakra drain this time. Even my reserves weren't endless. These eight hundred would get to spying and stealing. I'd only sent off half as many last night, and what I'd found and learned was very interesting indeed. A whole heapful of empty notebooks and pens were the first things stolen, techniques and knowledge copied where they couldn't take the originals without arousing suspicion. There were limited opportunities to eavesdrop at night, and I couldn't help but blush crimson at the recollection of what I'd seen and heard concerning adult ninja's partying habits. Many security precautions and seals had been copied, in anticipation of breaking past them. The Hokage's library, portions of ANBU headquarters, the confidential records, research and intelligence divisions - all those and more would require a bit more creativity to infiltrate. I was most interested in what my parents left me, their legacies sure to be magnificent - assuming the bastards hadn't stolen everything. Learning the Hiraishin would be so cool, inventing it from nothing more than a sealed tri-bladed kunai not so much… and yes, they'd actually gotten three of those rarities for me. As shadow clones were nothing more than chakra constructs, they could take any shape, which made for incredible utility in spying and infiltration when combined with their ability to pass on their memories.
Getting to my feet, a bit shaky, I made a dozen more clones - this time without hand signs or words. It required much more chakra than expected, but my control had obviously improved, and more than that, With a brief salute, they morphed into different people and ran off - after the energy I'd expended, I could use more food, and they'd also take care of shopping for clothes, restocking the larder, cleaning, and everything mundane. Every time I used the jutsu, "I love shadow clones" ran through my head.
I was actually not very far from mastering the shadow clone jutsu. Mastering a technique meant much more than merely learning to execute it. I'd managed tree-walking after a bit more than a week, while water-walking had required a month before I could use it reliably. Mastering those mean being able to use them unconsciously, to stick to any material, to change my instincts and perception of what could be walk on, and more - mastering a jutsu means learning creative and new way to use it. I'd only mastered one of the basic academy three, the replacement technique. With a thought, a shadow clone could take my place, a seamless transposition that would fool anyone. The so-called transformation technique taught by the academy was actually a minor genjutsu, an illusion that required so little chakra that it was simply beyond my present abilities. It was months after I'd learned how to do a real transformation that I realized that what I'd actually done was develop as S-rank shapeshifting jutsu, with almost limitless applications. Needless to say, I kept that very quiet, but it did come in extraordinarily handy, allowing me for one to buy things without being thrown out of stores - not to mention its utility in pranks. I wasn't sure, but at a guess, most ninja were lazy and learned jutsu without truly mastering them. Even without the shadow clones, I would have been head and shoulders above those fools… eventually.
Sauntering slowly back home, I began to consider what I wanted tonights horde learn. Since my clones had mastered the first exercises for air, lightning and water (that last only just), it was a good place to learn and master a couple of lower ranking jutsu for each. Mentally going through the list of those I could recall off hand, I decided on which. Gale Palm and Deflection Shield for air, the first a simple blast of bludgeoning wind issuing from one's hand, the second a brief whirling of wind designed to deflect a single storm of projectiles or a lightning attack, both useful, quick to learn and easy to use, and cheap in chakra cost. For lightning, I picked a simple offensive D-rank technique called Lightning Ball, which created a small ball of lightning that flew at a target, exploding on contact to shock whatever it hit and those around it, and Electromagnetic Murder, which simply released a wave of electricity from the hands, its power and range dependent on chakra investment. I was very happy to avoid having to personally experiment with lightning-aspected chakra, as it seemed to be very painful and all too easy to lose control of. Of the two hundred clones playing with it during the night, only thirty seven survived to see dawn.
Since my skill at water elemental transmutation was evidently weaker than air or lightning, I picked three very basic E-rank techniques to concentrate on. The Water Mirror jutsu turned any amount of water into a mirror, which was useful for discreetly looking around. Fish Spit allowed the user to spit a jet of water from the mouth, capable of briefly stunning since it was shot with some force, and Trick of Water, which let you to flick a hand and toss a small wave, mostly good for blinding a foe.
Another thing I determined to do tomorrow was put on resistance and weight seals. The one thing shadow clones could not do was help my physical prowess, and there was a reason even the most powerful ninjutsu masters learned taijutsu and kenjutsu - without knowing how to fight hand to hand or with a weapon, even a fresh genin could take you down once your chakra was exhausted. Not only that, but chakra itself was part spiritual and part physical energy, and the healthier and stronger you were, the greater your chakra reserves. Oh, and storage seals, that was another priority.
Eating a second savory breakfast, I also determined to work on ninja tools, awareness and traps. I was already pretty good with traps, but there was always room for improvement, and there are a lot of things you could do with ninja-wire and seals. As for awareness, a game of blindfold tag, and later on blindfold spar, would do wonders for my stealth, reflexes and alertness. Later, I'd also try to remove my hearing, working solely with scent and the feel of vibrations and chakra, and then just concentrate just on hearing. According to the few records I could find, the Uzumaki were pretty good sensors, and that sort of ability was incredibly useful. It was also dangerous, as ninja with such abilities learned to rely on them - I had every intention of having seals that would completely mask my chakra's presence, eventually. There was also improving my use of the hand seals used for triggering techniques, and...
Lots and lots of plans, but now it was time for a final visit to the academy. I used the Body Flicker jutsu, which I'd mastered the very first night and so recently digested, to avoid being late. The only other jutsus I'd mastered were the shadow shuriken clone and the shadow kunai clone variation, with which I could unleash a storm of missiles with a single cloned weapon. The Forbidden Scroll contained a vast improvement on the Body Flicker, the Pulse Step, but it carried some serious drawbacks for anyone who didn't have very good control. With Body Flicker, you move with immense speed granted by supercharged chakra, while still traveling the intervening distance. The Pulse Step, on the other hand, is a true time/space ninjutsu, a very real step towards the Hiraishin, the Flying Thunder God technique which allowed for instantaneous teleportation. Besides having a much higher chakra cost, the slightest miscalculation or error could put you in the unfavorable position of superimposing yourself on an object, generally resulting in a very messy death. I had every intention of mastering it - for use with clones only.
I wasn't surprised when I was greeted with derision when I entered the classroom, a couple of idiots shouting out, "Naruto, what the hell are you doing here, huh?" and "Only those who passed the genin test are supposed to be here, loser!"
"See this?" I pointed at the head protector on my forehead and walked past them to the last row, taking a seat near the ever-quiet Hinata Hyuuga. The only nice girl in class, it hadn't surprised me when her unpleasant clan put their slave-seal on her forehead and removed her from her position as clan heir. One of the reasons I had my spies checking records and going through the village laws was to see if there was anything I could do to help her. Since both the Uzumaki and my father's Namikaze clans were still on record as Konoha clans, I figured I'd be able to do something if there were legal means. If not, I'd still find a way, I was more than willing to shed the blood of Konoha's supposedly strongest clan. There was a time limit here, since I was sure those inbred morons would marry her off to one of her cousins when she reached fourteen or at the most sixteen years of age, but I wasn't worried about deadlines anymore.
I rested my still throbbing head on the desk, stoppering my ears when the Last Uchiha's two most fervent fangirls started shouting and fighting over who would sit next to him. When I pulled my fingers out, Iruka was lecturing, "Beginning today, all of you are real ninjas. But you are still merely rookie genin. The hard work has just begun. You will soon be assigned duties by the village. Today we will be creating teams of three genin, and you will be assigned a jounin-sensei. You will perform your assigned duties under their supervision. We tried to balance each team's strengths."
He then proceeded to name the teams, "... Next, team seven. Sakura Haruno, Naruto Uzumaki and Uchiha Sasuke."
I sighed in dejection at the declaration. The shrieking harpy of a fan-girl and the Uchiha emo were a very bad combination. If I wanted to retain my hearing, I'd better to get my clones to look for something that would keep her quiet and sedate, a seal… or possibly paralyzing poison. Which was another thing I need to get working on, another thing clones couldn't help me with. Even with the regeneration bloodline the demon fox imprisoned in me granted, poisons could be a problem - and also a useful weapon. With another sigh at the thought of my very painful future, I noted that Hinata was not unhappy about her posting to team eight with Shino and Kiba. A tracking and capture team, presumably. Team nine was apparently still in operation from last year, and team ten, another generation of the Ino-Shika-Cho, closed the list.
Then came the long, long wait for our jounin sensei, who obviously had no respect for meeting times, or for us rookie genin. Shikamaru's sensei seemed to be fittingly lazy, while Hinata's was remarkably beautiful and seemed nice. It was no surprise that all the good ones were taken, and I didn't expect much from ours. With a full belly and no company worth mentioning, I used one of the basic camping jutsus to soften the classroom floor and went to sleep.