They called her the Orange Flash, though it had little to do with the Flying Thunder God and everything to do with the fact she had such pure speed going for her. A speed any true shinobi would appreciate, hell, even envy.
Her tinted goggles, bright red hair the color of fresh blood and the bright orange scarf around her face were her trademark, combined with the Uzumaki swirl. When she was on the job, all enemy shinobi ever saw of her was an orange blur as it raced past them at speeds they couldn't hope in hell to compete with.
She was famous for literally running over obstacles placed in her path, skating at high speeds over ice and running over water like it was smooth ground. The shinobi often debated if she even bothered with the chakra control technique most used to run on water, or if she was simply so fast it didn't matter.
There had of course, been a few times when entire shinobi teams of elite jounin were hired to stop her from making a delivery. However the Orange Flash apparently had a Summons contract. One that allowed her to reverse-summon herself to whatever clan she was allied with, and the summon herself back right outside the delivery point. No one had been able to catch her, a fact she prided herself in.
And because no village had yet to boast of having her as a messenger, she was either freelance or missing nin. She did most of her shopping outside the Hidden Villages, so no one could figure out who she belonged with.
So it would probably shock quite a few people to learn that the "Orange Flash" was a neglected jinchuriki who was only receiving the bare minimum of training...and the dregs at that.
A girl who changed her hair color with a little application of chakra and who hid her face because of a pair of very distinctive whisker marks that were impossible to hide with make up...mostly because it often went away at the speeds she traveled. A scarf was easier to deal with and it kept dust from getting in her nose.
Uzumaki Naruko was her name.
She chose to go by Nozomi Kamikaze, since she couldn't go by Sonic. Or Sonix, like she originally wanted to.
Her mentors and real teachers once said she was like the demented love child of the Sonic the hedgehog and his two-tailed kitsune partner Miles Prowler, who everyone called Tails.
Sonic taught her how to run and break the sound barrier. Tails taught her how to think and put things together on the fly, like makeshift weapons (among other things). Knuckles taught her taijutsu and chakra sensing. Shadow taught her infiltration and ninjutsu. Rouge the bat taught her the little things all kunoichi should know before they went into battle, and the things that made life easier. Amy taught her how to fight with weapons and how to make her own little subspace to hide them in.
They were better teachers than anything Konoha had to offer, and if she failed a third time she wasn't even going to bother showing up to have her chakra sealed.
She was going to be a messenger full time, because by law they couldn't declare her a missing nin since she had never been a genin of the village to begin with.
Though if they tried to drag her back she would charge more for Konoha to have their messages express delivered. Having a minor friendship with a scant few people was hardly worth having loyalty to a village that had never shown her any. And the only dream she had claimed was that she wanted to run all over the world and see everything.
Today was the day of the genin exam, her last chance to be a shinobi. And if things went like they did last year, she'd be lucky to even earn a headband, much less make it to the secondary test.
Naruko sat patiently through the exams, and once again, that jerk Mizuki gave her the wrong one. She knew it was pointless to call him out on the fact...last time she had the creep had put a genjutsu on her test anyway.
Which meant her weapons and taijutsu tests would have to be up to snuff.
One look at her opponent in the taijutsu match told her everything she needed to know. There was no way in hell she was passing this exam.
Oh well, she had never liked being "Naruko Uzumaki, potential genin of the Leaf" all at that much anyway, and her real family (despite being animals who walked upright and spoke like she did) had always insisted the Leaf held her back.
People too stupid to realize that the container wasn't the thing she held back. And who took that fact out on her in discreet ways.
If she failed this test, then to hell with Konoha. She was going to her standby option, her home in Iron Country, which was famous for being neutral and because shinobi didn't rule there. Samurai did.
And they took their neutrality seriously.
Naruko had been paying off that house for two years now, and with how much she charged for her 'expedited delivery' service, she could afford to.
She even had her hiring practice worked out. She had a room cleared out for messenger birds. If a shinobi village wanted to hire her, they sent a fast bird, and she would run to the office of whoever lead the village. She was quite popular with Iwa, Ame, Kumo, and most of the lesser villages.
She mostly did runs for Iwa, Ame and the recently made Oto.
Though to be honest, Otogakure creeped her the hell out. About the only reason she bothered with Oto or it's freaky as hell leader was because she had needed the references.
At least she made some friends there. Kabuto, Karin, and even the sickly Kimimaro.
Most people would be disturbed by someone as forward as Karin, sneaky like Kabuto, or as terrifying as an angry Kimimaro.
Karin loved her immediately once they confirmed "Nozomi" was an Uzumaki like her (Kabuto did the blood test mostly to humor the girls). Kabuto, despite being suspicious by nature and able to worm his way into practically any situation, had grown to geniunely like "Nozomi" because she always brought something to cheer him up.
Whether it was something as simple as his favorite flower, or a book she thought he might find interesting. And Kabuto could instinctively tell she actually gave a damn about them, and wasn't expecting anything out of it. Which, ironically enough, managed to turn his loyalty from his 'boss' Orochimaru to her.
She didn't find him creepy. She just thought he was like a cool older brother.
And Kimimaro...she got on his good side by sneaking him food and just being kind.
Naruko hid a sigh.
There was no way she'd get a good score with a jounin opponent, so she just made a good showing and hoped for the best. She didn't even bother with the genjutsu portion...she was never good at them to begin with and had a hard enough time breaking the things.
And ninjutsu, the one thing she should have been good at, was the final nail in the coffin.
Kami, how she loathed the standard clone jutsu. Iruka, despite being her favorite chunin, refused to give her a passing score despite getting two out of the standard three correct.
By the end of the day, Naruko knew she might as well leave Konoha and not bother to look back. Unless there was some seriously extenuating circumstances, there was no way in hell she'd make genin now.
So imagine her confusion when the ass known as Mizuki-sensei offered mentioned an 'extra, off-the-books' genin exam.
As if. If such a thing actually existed, she would have found it long before now. Especially once she heard what the target was.
So Mizuki planned to use the hapless girl as a patsy, did he? Suddenly that express order from Orochimaru for the Orange Flash Express. Two million ryou, all for the delivery of a rather bulky and important object.
The Forbidden Scroll sure as hell fit the bill. She got one million for taking the job, because of the risks (and insurance money, so even if she never got the 'item' she still got paid for time and travel expenses) and she would get another for the successful delivery of the item.
As Naruko walked home and prepared, she decided this was the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to Konoha as "Naruko Uzumaki". It took an hour to come up with a working plan, one that had plenty of room for adjustment. However she knew Iruka, and odds were he might catch her before Mizuki managed to find her.
She would have to insure he was stalled long enough for Mizuki to make off with the "scroll" with enough time to either be caught with it, or to reach "Nozomi".
Either way, the odds of Naruko becoming a Konoha genin would drop like a stone. She would have to get Tails to be her body double, like the few times she had an urgent delivery and had to step out for a few days. He still read "fox" with his chakra, but then again so had Naruko, according to Rouge.
Tails agreed to act as "Naruko" for a bit while she took her spot as Nozomi. Even if he got caught, it left some leeway with the shinobi because Tails was registered as a "Summon".
Naruko broke into the office, made sure to disable the Hokage in a way that wouldn't kill him (that was a sure fire way to get banned from the village permanently) before a mischievous idea occurred to her.
It took a few extra seconds, but the blackmail material was totally worth it...and if she did this right then she might be able to implicate her client for stealing the Sandaime's porn collection.
His first edition, personally signed, Super Platinum collection of Icha Icha Paradise, of which there were only ten copies of every book in existence. Rumor had it that just one was worth three Mid-S rank missions just for a single copy, because inside was a collection of extremely rare and almost suicidal to own photo copies of the most powerful (and hottest) kunoichi in various states of undress and with more than one partner, of both genders in compromising positions.
The Sandaime had the complete collection. He always got the very first copy of the extremely rare set.
If nothing else, Orochimaru could sell them and make a quick buck...or she could trade it to Kakuzu so he could blackmail the Hokage for his precious porn collection back. The miser was sure to love her for this.
Naruko made it to the meeting spot and summoned Tails.
It should be noted that while Naruko had the most in common with Sonic, the 'strongest' of the summons of Dream Island, she got along best with Tails.
Sonic was a blue hedgehog with green eyes, weird choice in footwear (which she eventually had to copy because all the other shoes she owned couldn't keep up with the speeds she ran at), and a high wind affinity with some knack towards earth. He was a speed demon of the highest order, and he loved chili-dogs the same way she obsessed over ramen and miso.
Their fights over which was better were legendary, and they once completely destroyed Eggman's base (he was a shinobi who had gotten stuck in the summons realm for reasons she never learned) after pranking the living daylights out of the man when he ruined their massive lunch.
Needless to say the grumpy and crazed egg-headed man never dared to ruin their meals again. Even if he was strangely fond of the feisty girl, because apparently she reminded him of his granddaughter.
According to Eggman, he mostly terrorized Dream Island "out of boredom" since he couldn't find a way back to his home. Considering he didn't have to deal with the wars or anything else in the summons realm, Naruko had the feeling he wasn't exactly trying to hard to get back.
While she waited, Naruko opened up the scroll...and the first jutsu alone had her drooling.
Shadow clone sounded like the solution of her problem with clone jutsu.
So she had Tails copy everything in the scroll in the span of thirty minutes...cameras, especially ones modified for night vision and 2D imaging were so useful.
It would have taken ten, but she wanted to make sure she had everything on the scroll on a separate picture. That way she could pick and chose which jutsu to learn.
Thirty minutes later, and she was still bored out of her damn mind. Fortunately Mizuki finally showed up ten minutes after she hit the extreme boredom mark. Unfortunately for the traitor, it had given Naruko enough time to make an almost perfect double of the Forbidden Scroll to hand over.
Mizuki hit Tails unnecessarily hard, which made Naruko revise her revenge.
She'd give him a five minute head start. More than enough to tell the ANBU where to find the idiot, and then deliver the second fake scroll she made to Orochimaru. (Thirty minutes being more than enough time for her to copy most of the inside without making it obvious it was a fake).
Nozomi looked at her watch impatiently, and was completely unsurprised when the Konoha ANBU showed up after an hour.
"What is your business so close to Konoha?" demanded Rooster.
"Special Courier Kamikaze, out of Iron. I was hired to make a delivery to Rice Country from Konoha. They told me to wait here for a chunin carrying a bulky item from the village," stated Nozomi, using her business voice. She made sure to show her credentials.
Special Couriers out of Iron were notorious for not caring a damn about shinobi or their affairs. They also enforced their own neutrality, meaning that in times of war they could enter any village with less hassle than say, a shinobi bearing the same message. Their job was simply to deliver items, scrolls, or messages. Nothing more and nothing less.
The ANBU tensed, before asking "What's the name of the chunin which is supposed to bring the item?"
"Mizuki," said Nozomi.
The ANBU knew better than to try and bribe her to not take the delivery. The Orange Flash was notorious for not taking bribes and always making her deliveries.
Which meant their only option was to intercept Mizuki before he handed it over. She would stay in her spot, because entering the village would be more hassle than it was worth when it came time to leave. If the item or message was important, she would be detained until she handed it over, which meant she would have to break out.
Fifteen minutes later, the ANBU made sure to show Mizuki's badly beaten form to Nozomi as proof that he failed to make the delivery and had been caught. She nodded, and left. It wasn't her problem if the shinobi busted the delivery boy before he could reach the courier. She made sure to alert the client of the fact and headed 'home'.
Naruko grinned. She had gotten yelled at for five hours straight last night, and had seen the 'Advisers' of the Hokage force the old man to sign a paper stating she would never be placed in a traditional genin team.
Which meant they would have to get a personal jounin if they wanted to keep their weapon. Sure, having her chakra forcibly sealed hurt like a bitch, but Tails had broken that in an hour and placed a fake on top of the seals. She had a copy of the paperwork stating she had been 'barred' from the shinobi courts, and had most of her things already sealed and ready to go.
Having one last meal with Iruka, she decided now was the perfect time to track down Kabuto so he'd be in place once her 'farewell' surprise went off.
He had it out for Danzou for years, and with good reason. So she had promised him (after breaking into ROOT and booby-trapping the hell out of the place so no matter where it blew up, Danzou's secret army would be blown wide open for the entire village to see) that he would get a front row seat to Danzou getting the asskicking he so richly deserved.
It took some doing, but passing Kabuto and delivering the message the same way Orochimaru generally did it made her life easier. Kabuto met her a few hours later (was beyond shocked to learn that his 'little sister' Nozomi was the Kyuubi jinchuriki) and passed her enough medical supplies and the agreement to meet later for tea. Then he got into position while Naruko set off her payback for all the crap Danzou had put them both through for years.
The explosion was massive, loud, and attention grabbing. The hidden "ROOT" army had no warning of the suddenly event, and thus were unable to avoid being seen by the real ANBU.
The uproar of a sudden invasion force hiding under Konoha was massive. So massive in fact that no one noticed until a scant week later that there were certain high profile prepubescent children missing until after the fact.
Hinata Hyuuga, Sasuke Uchiha and Naruko Uzumaki.
The first was found a few weeks later by Jiraiya, but despite any threats by the Hyuuga patriarch, he refused to bring her back.
Primarily because while the Hyuuga were mildly terrifying, Tsunade scared the living shit out of him, for good reason.
Tsunade had taken the timid heiress as an apprentice, and she wasn't handing her back.
Apparently she had made a deal with a well-known courier from Iron that she wouldn't get prompt demands for money (at least, from the Orange Flash anyway) in exchange for taking another apprentice.
And after seeing how good Hinata was at iryojutsu, Tsunade wouldn't have handed her over anyway. She was definitely worth training.
Sasuke and Naruko, however, were in the wind.