Disclaimer: I don't own naruto or any of its characters as they are the property of Masashi Kishimoto.
The author of the cover image is indy-riquez from DeviantArt. You can check the link for the original image in my profile.
Chapter 1: A Hope for Improvement
-Somewhere in the Land Of Lightning-
"Hey old pervert, wait up!" Yelled Naruto as he called out to his sensei.
Uzumaki Naruto was a boy of fifteen years of age. He had blue eyes with spiky blond hair and three whisker marks on each cheek; wore a black and orange jumpsuit with a Konoha headband protector on his forehead. And right now was in a poor mood because of his old Sensei.
Said sensei was Jiraiya of the Sannin. Jiraiya was a tall man with spiky White hair tied in a ponytail that reached to his waist, and had red lines that ran down from his eyes. He wore a green kimono that was covered by a red haori. He also used a forehead protector, but unlike his Young apprentice his forehead protector had the kanji for 'oil' instead of the leaf symbol from Konoha like it was traditionally used by their Shinobi.
"I told you to keep quiet, you brat. And hurry up, we don't want to stay in the Land of Lightning for long" Said the Sage to his impatient companion, not slowing his pace despite the boy's protests.
"And would you at least tell me why are we here in the first place? You just left me alone like you always do to go around doing your 'research', and next thing I know you come back and tell me we need to go at once without explanation" The blond had an exasperated scowl on his face as he tried to keep up with his teacher's hasty pace. "And the only thing you told me was to shut up while we were in these lands. What is your deal, old man?" Continued to pester the blond.
Jiraiya, now as equally annoyed as his student, gave a frustrated sigh. "I told you to be quiet so we can pass through this region as discreetly as possible. But fine, since you won't do that anyway, I suppose I can tell you now" Seeing as Naruto had at least calmed enough to pay attention, he started explaining. "I just got a new piece of information from my spy network that could be useful and we need to address it as soon as possible" Explained the Sannin as patiently as he could, which at the current moment wasn't much.
"So, you mean when you leave me alone you actually do something else besides preying on poor unsuspecting girls to take notes for your dirty books?" Naruto's look of surprised skepticism just served to rile Jiraiya up.
"Of course I do! I take my job as Konoha's spymaster very seriously!" Naruto still looked unconvinced, however. "This Little expedition of ours is for your benefit, you ungrateful brat" Explained Jiraiya with indignation.
Now that seemed to strike a cord with Naruto, and in an instant, his impatience was replaced with excitement and curiosity. "Really? And what would that be, Ero-Sennin? A new Jutsu? A new training method?" The boy was almost bouncing on his heels at the prospect of learning a new technique.
"Something like that. I just got word from a trustworthy source of something that could boost your training. Did you know that the Hachibi Jinchuuriki from Kumo has complete control over his Biju?" Then the sage glanced at Naruto to see how the boy responded.
The information left Naruto speechless and wide-eyed for a moment. Complete control of a Biju? Was that even possible? He could control up to three tails while barely keeping his sanity. For Naruto, full control of a Biju was something that seemed so out of reach. If Kumo's Jinchuuriki could do that, he ought to be a truly formidable Shinobi.
Jiraiya, on his part, found Naruto's reaction to be amusing. "Yeah, amazing isn't it? And my source told me that, apparently, the Hachibi Jinchuuriki learned to master his Biju in a secluded island somewhere in the Land of Lightning. It seems that whatever is on that island was a key factor in learning to use the Hachibi"
Naruto was in complete awe at the news. Could a secret method for controlling Biju truly exist? He didn't know what to think of it, it seemed too good to be true. However, it also filled him with hope; if he managed to control that kind of power his dreams and goals could be within his reach: he could protect his precious people; he could have enough power to become Hokage, and he could take back Sasuke from Orochimaru's grasp. "Do you really think I can do it, Ero-Sennin?" Said Naruto with doubt, but more than that, he was afraid. The last time he attempted to control more than three tails of the Kyuubi's Chakra he almost ended up killing Jiraiya.
"It's worth checking out kid. If it helps you to control even one more tail it would still be worth it" Jiraiya's urgency, however, was that he was worried about Naruto's well-being. While he could say that the boy had improved amazingly in skill since he started his training trip, he was still nowhere near close to the strength he needed to take on a member of Akatsuki. They were strong. Having monsters such as Uchiha Itachi and Hoshigaki Kisame was a testament to that. If the rest of their members were even close to the power of those two, then they truly were fearsome. But the most worrying thing on his mind was that Kumo's Jinchuuriki had complete control over his Biju and they still were planning on taking him on. Jiraiya himself couldn't think of a more dangerous thing than a fully realized Jinchuuriki, and the Akatsuki were confident enough in the power of its members to hunt such a beast of a Shinobi.
If those were the kind of foes that Naruto was up against, then the boy simply had no hope of coming on top, not at his current level. He needed to find a way for Naruto to get strong fast, and he needed it now. He had considered trying to teach the boy Sage Mode, but he didn't know how long it would take. Typically completely mastering Sage Mode took years, and it didn't warrant that you would be adept at it. If he spent that time teaching Sage Mode to Naruto and the boy didn't master it, then all that time would have been a waste, and that was a time that could have been better spent trying to make him stronger to face the Akatsuki before they made their move.
With Naruto pondering on his ability to control the Kyuubi, and with Jiraiya full of worry for his apprentice and godson, the walk quickly went silent. Naruto, noting the downed atmosphere that his teacher was expelling, raised an eyebrow and couldn't help but feel curious and confused for his master's strange behavior. ''What's up with the old perv all of a sudden?''
Jiraiya soon realized that his gloomy demeanor was starting to make Naruto suspicious, so he promptly changed topics. "Anyway, we should make haste and get out of the Land of Lightning as soon as possible, well, at least its land. We have to look for a boat to start searching for that island. Even if the adjacent sea is still technically part of the Land of Lightning, Kumo doesn't keep as many close tabs on its sea like they do on its land."
All this caution further confused Naruto. "But Ero-Sennin, I thought we were neutral with Kumo."
"We are, but that doesn't mean that there isn't tension between the villages. Remember kid, neutral just means that we aren't actively trying to rip each other's throats, it doesn't mean that we are Friends." Explained the sage.
Naruto just squinted his eyes and put his hands behind his head."It's just so stupid, Ero-Sennin, to be always so hostile with each other for things that happened long ago, It just seems so petty. A peaceful future is a much better thing to aim for than keep an old conflict going, Dattebayo."
Jiraiya responded by exhaling a long breath and putting on a hopeful expression. "If only it were that easy kid. People won't forget past wrongdoings just like that, and a lot of times they are in their right to feel that way. Remember your Little Hyuga friend?"
That question seemed to surprise Naruto. "Hinata? Yeah. What of her?" He wondered what did Hinata even have to do with the current topic.
"Well, did you know that Kumo attempted to kidnap her when she was still a small child?" Asked Jiraiya with an edge in his voice, somewhat angry at remembering that event. ''And your mother Kushina too, but I can't tell you that'' Thought the man grimly.
"Well, now that you mention it, I think Neji said something about it during our match in the Chunin Exams" Said Naruto, remembering the bitterness that the prodigy showed by the tragedy that event caused. But he still wondered what did that have to do with anything right now. ''But why are you asking, Ero-Sennin?''
The Sannin responded without even looking back. ''Before I tell you that I want you to answer me this first: Why do you think Kumo wanted Hinata for?''
Naruto once again squinted his eyes in focus, trying to think of any reason why anyone would have something against a shy girl like Hinata, and when she was a child no less. ''Ummm...for her eyes, I think?'' He barely recalled the reason that Neji had mentioned in the exams. The prodigy mostly explained his father's death and not much of anything else.
Jiraiya nodded, glad that his student knew at least that much. "The Byakugan is one of the three great Doujutsu, many would do anything to get their hands on such a powerful Kekkei Genkai."
"And what would have they done to her, Ero-Sennin? Raise her as one of their own?" Inquired the blond. Naruto knew Hinata and considered her one of his precious people, and he had a strong conviction that she would never leave Konoha, not even if they tried to convert her since childhood. However, Naruto failed to pick on the real meaning of the attempted kidnapping.
''Naruto, you are a good kid and you have a good nature, but that also makes you naive'' Thought Jiraiya with a bit of sadness, as he knew that most likely in the immediate future Naruto would face hardships that will probably crush his good-natured spirit. If it didn't he could die in the face of the challenges that awaited him."Kid, being forced into loyalty to Kumo would have been the absolute best case scenario for the poor girl had the abduction been successful"
Naruto raised an eyebrow in bewilderment. That was a best case scenario?
"They could have taken her eyes and transplanted them into their own ninja. But what would most likely have happened is for her to become a breeding stock for life, and they would have still taken her eyes while at it" Explained Jiraiya darkly, driving home just how terrible her fate could have been.
Naruto widened his eyes with horror and repulsion at the thought of something so horrible happening to one of his close Friends. He finally understood the implications of the abduction. ''She would have been forced on birthing children for a rival village for the rest of her life. And those same children could have been used against her own home'' Naruto literally couldn't think of a fate worse than that.
Jiraiya, for his part, just kept walking, letting all that sink in into Naruto. After a moment, he started talking again, deciding to reveal the point of his questions. "I'm telling you this so you can get an example of why is so hard for ninja nations to get along. That attempt on your friend was thwarted, but there are countless other terrible things done between ninja villages that never are. Kumo isn't even the village that we have the worst relationship with."
This topic of conversation put Naruto in a depressed mood, but he was still compelled to ask. "Then which one is?"
"That would be Iwa. And by far. In the last war, there was too much bloodshed on both sides, the scars are still too fresh for it to be any other way. But as you know, we won the war, so they are the ones that suffered the most casualties. To this very day, most Iwa shinobi would rather cut off their hand than shake it with a Konoha shinobi"
Finally, Naruto kept quiet, his downed mood not leaving any more wish in him to keep talking. While Jiraiya was glad that Naruto finally decided to be silent in their walk through Lightning country, he felt a bit guilty for making the normally cheerful boy so somber. ''I'm sorry kid, but those are the sort of things we must deal with in our ninja world. You have inherited my wish to look for a way of achieving peace between our nations, but you will have your work cut out for you. Still is important that you keep these kinds of things in mind'' That was Jiraiya's last thought as they were arriving at a clearing to start preparing camp, as the evening was upon them.
Neither Jiraiya or Naruto realized that in one of the trees in the proximity, just out of sight, a Venus flytrap-like figure emerged from it; seemingly separating from it as if they had been one being. The flytrap-like extension opened to reveal a head with Green hair and a face with a White half, while the other half was black. The flytrap-like man was wearing a black cloak with red clouds.
"So it seems that the Kyuubi and Jiraiya of the Sannin are in Kumo looking for a better way to control the Biju's power" said White Zetsu with a carefree and mischievous attitude, but also full of malice. "We should inform Tobi of this development" this time, black Zetsu was the one who spoke, but unlike his White counterpart, he sounded much more serious and eerie. After that, Zetsu just sank again into the tree trunk until it left no sign that he had ever been there in the first place.
So there it is, the first chapter. I decided to upload the first 3 chapters all at once to give a better feel for the story, so I apologize if they seem short. I promise future chapters will be way longer.
So, tell me what did you guys think? Tell me if you liked it, if you hated it, or if I should hang myself. All jokes aside, seriously any constructive criticism is welcomed, after all, if I never get my flaws pointed at I can't fix them.
Update: I know that The Land of Lightning is in Kumo and Kurotsuchi is from Iwa, it's all part of the story, don't worry. Everything will fall into place in due time.