Based on one of my most popular one-shots, this is a story (stopping at the canon timeskip) leading to a very strong Naruto who follows a slightly different career path.
Several of the paragraphs will be taken directly from the original one-shot while others will be adjusted, modified or even abandoned as the plot progresses, but the basic underlying plot will remain the same.
I'll start with the first two chapters, then aim to update on Wednesdays and Sundays
Oh yes, one other thing.
Menseki jikō - Kishimoto wa naruto, sono naka ni moji o shoyū shite imasu.
Prologue – In The Forest
"…and you know why everyone hates you?" Mizuki sneered from his position on the tree-branch. "It's because twelve years ago, the Kyuubi attacked Konoha, killing many ninja until it was stopped by the Fourth Hokage who sealed it away…"
"Mizuki, no!" Iruka shouted.
"…into the form of a baby!" Mizuki continued with evil glee. "That baby was you, and you are the nine-tailed fox! And now I shall finish what the Yondaime started!"
Naruto stood above the beaten and battered form of Mizuki, surrounded by hundreds of Kage Bunshin.
"Ahahahaha, I… kinda got a bit carried away…" He explained weakly as Iruka limped over. The clones started to vanish as Iruka stopped before Naruto.
"Close your eyes." The Chunin smiled.
Naruto closed his eyes and felt his goggles being gently removed from his forehead, then something was tied on in its place. Slowly reaching up, his nervously questing fingers found a fabric band an on that band, a metal plate. The plate wasn't newly-minted like those he had seen on those class-mates of his who had graduated, but the edges of the inscribed leaf were still easily felt by his fingertips and the edges of the plate, although nicked and slightly scarred, were still solid.
Naruto slowly opened his eyes and saw Iruka smiling proudly at him, his forehead bare of the Hitai-ate that now adorned Naruto's brow.
"Congratulations, Genin Naruto." Iruka said gently. "You are a true ninja of Konoha now, and of all my class, I am the most proud of you."
Sarutobi Hiruzen smiled at the scene in the crystal ball on the desk in front of him, then he reached out and placed the official stamp on a piece of paperwork that he had been filling out while watching the events unfold.
"Well done, Naruto-kun." He whispered quietly. "You've taken your first step to achieving your goal."
The piece of paper on the desk was placed into a small folder. As it vanished, the words at the top were briefly highlighted by the lamp in the corner of the room.
Confirmation of Field Promotion In Peacetime
Academy Student Uzumaki Naruto – Promoted to Genin (012607)
Promoting Officer – Senior Chunin Umino Iruka (011850)
Seconded By – Hokage Sarutobi Hiruzen (000261)
Memories Of Others
Path Of A New Genin
Naruto woke up with a huge smile on his face as he opened his eyes to see, placed on the small wooden box that served as his bedside table, the slightly-battered-and-scratched Hitai-Ate that confirmed beyond all doubt that the events of the previous night hadn't been a dream.
He was a ninja!
And in just one week, a mere seven days, he would be assigned a team of his own, letting him prove just how totally awesome he was!
As long as he wasn't teamed up with Sasuke, that broody bastard…
Naruto shook his head to clear away the depressing thought. Taking a deep breath of morning air (and he really needed to get tht window fixed), he bounced out of bed, before scampering into the bathroom to shower, then he paused and created a clone.
"Head to the kitchen and make me some breakfast." He commanded and the clone nodded.
"Okay, but hurry up."
Naruto stuck his tongue out at the clone, then turned the tap to switch on the shower. Shedding his pajamas, he jumped into the shower cubicle…
The clone snickered as it switched the kettle on.
Naruto finished tossing on his orange jacket.
"Mmmm, Chicken Ramen." He smiled, then he paused. "Hey, how did I know that?"
For a moment, Naruto frowned, then he shrugged. "Meh, maybe I smelled it. Ah, whatever. Time to eat!"
Pausing to adjust the small sigil on his shoulder, Naruto bounced into the kitchen to devour the rameny goodness awaiting him.
The morning was bright and cheerful as Naruto closed the door to his apartment. Unlike normal, he didn't lock it, a fact that was explained as the door re-opened and another Naruto stepped out, this one holding a bag of rubbish in its free hand.
"We'll have the apartment tidied up by the time you get back, Boss."
"Good." Naruto nodded, mentally noting how useful Kage Bunshin were. "Now if there was only some way to get some decent food…"
"Blasphemy!" The clone gasped. "Ramen is the food of the Thousand Kami!"
Naruto chuckled in agreement, then turned to continue his interrupted journey. "I'm going to have a walk round, maybe visit the old man to ask who's on my team… and why am I even telling you that? You're me!"
The clone laughed. "We'll get things done for you. Good luck with our team… maybe Sakura-chan'll be on it. As long as the teme isn't, she might stop hitting us!"
"That would be amazing!" Naruto said dreamily, then he turned and walked towards the stairs. "Wish me luck, me's."
"Good luck!" Three of the clones chorused and Naruto left, chuckling.
Three hours later, his good mood had almost vanished, although the average (non-ninja) observer wouldn't have been able to tell. Whenever he walked near a crowd, he would hear whispers along the lines of "How could they let IT become a ninja?" or "It won't be long before that THING snaps and goes on a killing spree." As well as several other comments which showed that they had known all along about his burden, but had put the same interpretation on it as Mizuki had.
Turning, Naruto strode through the entrance of the Hokage Tower and scampered up the stairs.
"Heya Jiji!" He called and his adoptive grandfather looked up from the paperwork he was perusing with a smile that lightened Naruto's heart.
"Naruto, it's good to see you." He said as he waved for Naruto to take a seat. "So, what brings Konoha's newest Genin into my office today?"
Naruto grinned at the reminder of how he had attained the long-desired rank.
"Well, I was wondering who was going to be on my team." Naruto admitted. "I'm sure you'd just love to give me the hat and all, but even I know that's not gonna happen yet."
"Very true." Hiruzen agreed gravely, although Naruto caught the gleam of laughter in the old Shinobi's eyes. "The teams are still being arranged and the Jonin-Senseis assigned to them"
"Cool." Naruto breathed, then he frowned. "So that means…?"
"That I can't tell you what the teams are right now." Hiruzen supplied. "You know, in just one week you'll know which team you are going to be assigned to and who your Jonin-Sensei will be."
"As long as I get an awesome one, it'll be cool!" Naruto exclaimed, then he blinked as a blur deposited even more paperwork on Hiruzen's desk.
"Why don't you head out to get your official photo taken for the files." Hiruzen suggested. "And tomorrow, after you bring the photo and I approve it, I'll take you out for some celebratory Ramen."
"You're the greatest, Jiji!" Naruto exulted, his previous good mood fully restored. "One awesome pic coming right up!"
Hiruzen laughed as Naruto bounced out of the office, then sighed as he looked at the top sheet of paperwork.
"So… how do I find where to get the photo?" Naruto muttered to himself as he walked down the main street.
Naruto looked round to see who had called him, his gaze coming to rest on a familiar dark-haired girl who was staring at him from beside a taller, red-eyed woman with longer midnight-black curly hair. A brief moment's thought brought up the younger girl's name.
"Heya, Hinata!" Naruto called as he jogged over, grinning hugely as he pointed at his Hitai-ate. "I made it! I'm a ninja too!"
"I heard about that." The taller woman said and Naruto gave her a curious look. "I'm Jonin Yuhi Kurenai."
"Pleasedtameetcha." Naruto replied. "Genin Uzumaki Naruto, future Hokage!"
Hinata giggled, then gave a small bow. "Probationary Genin Hyuuga Hinata, Honored to meet you."
"Wait." Naruto said, "Probar… probee…probanana… a whatsit genin? I thought you passed?"
"The others who passed the Academy exam are all currently probationary genin, they will become full genin when they are taken as students by a Jonin-sensei." Kurenai explained. "You were granted a field promotion, so even if you don't get a Jonin-Sensei, you'll still be an official genin and able to take missions."
Hinata gave Naruto an awed look and his grin grew wider.
"Yep, I'm awesome. So, whatcha doing? We don't get teams 'till next week, so why are…?"
"We are going to be working on my chakra control." Hinata said quietly. "I need to build up my reserves."
"Chakra control." Naruto groaned. "That's my weak point, I blew up the leaf last time I tried!"
"It sounds like you almost certainly have too much chakra." Kurenai mused. "If you wish, I can teach you a new exercise that should be fairly easy for you, then you can work your way back down to leaf floating."
"So, training?" Naruto exclaimed. "Count me in! Umm, if that's okay with you, Hinata. I mean, she is your teacher, right?"
"It's fine!" Hinata squeaked, turning red and Naruto grabbed her shoulders.
"Hinata, you're turning red! Are you getting a fever? Let me check your temperat… ARGH! Kurenai! Hinata's collapsed!"
"She'll be fine." Kurenai smiled. "However, if I can ask a favor…"
Naruto gave Kurenai a quizzical look. "Favor?"
"Well, it's a bit of a walk to the practice grounds…"
"…and this is where we are going to practice." Hinata heard as she regained consciousness to find herself being carried on someone's back. For a moment, she thought that she was being carried by Kurenai, but the hair against the side of her face was all wrong for that.
"Wow, cool place." Naruto's voice said and Hinata frowned mentally. It wasn't Kurenai who was carrying her and Naruto was nearb…
Hinata's thoughts hiccuped to a stop as she realized that it was Naruto who was carrying her, but before she could do anything, Naruto was speaking again.
"Let me put Hinata down… Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"
A wave of chakra seemed to flow through Hinata, engulfing her in a feeling of protectiveness, then she heard Kurenai gasp.
"Oh, how did that happen?" Naruto asked and Hinata opened her eyes, glancing round…
To see herself staring back at her from the back of another Naruto.
"Good heavens…" Kurenai breathed, her gaze switching rapidly between Hinata and her unexpected clone. "I know that the Kage Bunshin technique duplicates what someone is carrying, but to duplicate an entire person?"
Hinata took advantage of Naruto's shocked stillness to lower herself to the ground, an action copied by her clone. Both girls glanced at each other, then looked down, tapping the tips of their forefingers.
"Well." Kurenai said slowly. "I see that Hinata's clone has her mannerisms… Clone Hinata, what was the last flower you pressed?"
"A bell flower." The clone replied and Hinata nodded in agreement.
"So… you have Hinata's memories too. Do you know what Naruto had for breakfast?"
The clone shook her head and Kurenai hmmmm'd thoughtfully.
"I've never seen this done before," She finally admitted, "But it would seem that you've somehow cloned Hinata as a by-product of cloning yourself. Even having just found out about it, I can tell you that once word spreads amongst the Jonin, you'll become the favorite support ninja in the village for A- and S-ranked missions. Which means we need to keep this quiet, or enemy shinobi will target you specifically in order to stop you boosting our forces."
"…I don't get it." Naruto admitted and Kurenai sighed.
"Sit." She commanded, sinking to the ground and the others followed suit, the two Hinatas descending gracefully while the two Narutos simply flopped into a seated sprawl. "Now, about your potential as part of a team. If you manage to learn how you cloned Hinata, you could potentially do it for an entire group at once, thus doubling their numbers. Repeat it enough times, and Konoha could field an entire army comprised purely of A- and S-ranked shinobi, each at full power and with all their abilities. Imagine having a dozen Hokage's step onto the battlefield with another dozen in reserve. No enemy would choose to stay around at that point."
"Yeah, Jiji showed me some of his skills when I was younger." Naruto agreed. "He's awesome."
"And that is why we need to keep it a secret for now." Kurenai stated. "If I can see that potential, so can Konoha's enemies and until you get strong enough to defend yourself against enemy Jonin, we need to keep this skill quiet."
"So… I can't use clones?" Naruto asked and Kurenai sighed at the proof that he had missed the point she was trying to make.
"You can use as many clones as you want, just don't clone anyone else unless they already know about it and have given permission." Kurenai stated. The two Narutos turned to look at Hinata and her clone.
"I don't mind." One of the Hinata's said quietly.
"On the plus side, you using clones can help with your training." Kurenai added and both Narutos stared at her in incomprehension.
"Indeed." Kurenai said, rising. "Naruto, stay here. Clone Naruto, come with me."
Naruto watched his clone follow the Jonin to the edge of the clearing before they vanished into the trees, then a memory popped up in his mind.
"I'm going learn how to walk on water? Awesome!"
"How did you know that?" Kurenai called as she walked back towards him, his clone nowhere to be seen.
"You told me." Naruto said blankly, then he paused. "How? I was here, but you told me behind that tree… I don't understand…"
"I told your clone, then dispelled him." Kurenai explained as she reached them. "When you dispel a Kage Bunshin, you get back all their memories, in this case, me explaining what the first exercise for you will be."
Naruto stared at her for a moment. "I… think I get it. So, everything they learn, I get back?"
Kurenai nodded. "Yes, but too many memories at once will hurt your brain or worse, so we'll work our way up slowly."
"I did several hundred clones when I beat up the traitor." Naruto supplied.
"And how long did it take?"
"Uummmm, a few minutes?"
"So a few minutes times a hundred or so clones is maybe four or five hours-worth of memories, and since you were concentrating on one thing, most of those memories will have blurred together." Kurenai mused. "Create… four clones for now and we'll train for an hour before dispelling them so you get their memories. That should be fairly safe and we can work our way up to higher numbers."
"Yay, training!" Naruto shouted as he flipped to his feet and made the clone-seal. "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"