Hiruzen Sarutobi had been having a good day. The newest class of Academy students had graduated, giving him enough for nine three-man teams. He'd been discussing with the potential Jonin Sensei on the pros and cons of various pairings and was leaning toward the next generation of Ino-Shika-Cho, a tracking unit, and a legendary team 7. He'd been about to finalize that when Naruto walked in.
And he ruined just about everything.
The boy had waltzed in unannounced like he usually did, forcing the older man to quickly hide the official documents before signing them. The newly-minted ninja was quiet, pensive, a look of seriousness on his usually-smiling face that Hiruzen had never seen before.
"Hey, Old Man," Naruto began. "I learned some things last night that I think you need to know. Is your office secure?" Startled by the question, it took the man a few seconds to respond.
"One moment." The leader of the Leaf tapped a fuuinjutsu carved into his desk, activating a sealing array that made the walls of the room shimmer blue for a second. "Now only my guards and I can hear you. What would you like to talk about? Obviously you didn't drop by for a social call."
Taking a page out of Ddrag's book, he decided to get the biggest news out of the way first with a direct and blunt statement.
"I'm the newest Red Dragon Emperor." The Hokage's pipe fell from his mouth, the smoldering tobacco spilling from inside. He blinked.
"Could you repeat that, please? I think I heard you wrong."
"I'm the newest Red Dragon Emperor," Naruto repeated. "I met Ddrag, the Welsh Dragon, last night. He told me about my history, who I really am, and who in this village wants me as a puppet."
"Are you certain this wasn't a dream?" the head of the Sarutobi clan asked with a pleading tone. If this was true, then the dragon had some of the worst timing.
"I'm positive," the boy nodded. "He told me about my parents and the night they died. He mentioned that they were attacked. And he mentioned that he was hiding himself because of a man named Danzo Shimura would have wanted to 'turn me into a mindless slave like he did Albion's vessel'. He said he wanted me to be a legal adult and under your jurisdiction so the Civilian Council would have no control over me."
Hiruzen sighed. "That's not good news at all," he finally said. "This information throws a wench into quite a few plans."
"Really? How so?"
"You're not an official Genin yet," the Hokage said, surprising the boy. "You only become a ninja when your Jonin Sensei approves of your three-man team. If your Sensei does not, you and your would-be teammates are sent back to the Academy for another year."
Naruto's mouth had gone dry. "So I'm not under your power yet?" he asked quietly. The Hokage shook his head.
"I'm afraid not."
"What are my chances of getting my Jonin Sensei's approval?"
"I was just about to finalize the team assignments when you walked in. You were going to be on a team that was basically guaranteed to pass because of political reasons. Is that ok with you?"
"Wouldn't that mean I'm on a team with one of the main clan's heirs?" Hiruzen nodded. "Which one?"
"That bastard?" Naruto questioned. The village leader was taken aback. Both of the boys were orphans; wouldn't that give them a similarity to base a friendship off of?
"What's wrong with him?"
"Ddrag explained to me last night why he kept me away from him. A relationship of any kind with that emo would be, in his words, 'corrosive' and 'a ticking time bomb'. He's only led by his search for revenge and Ddrag and I think he'd go so far as the betray the village to get it. Ddrag has seen it happen before."
"I'd heard Sasuke was a little conceded, but that is concerning. I'll have a Yamanaka try to help him, but are you adamant about not teaming with him?"
"Yes," Naruto nodded. "Although, being the Red Dragon Emperor, I'm best suited to be a front-line heavy hitter, so if any teams need a strength boost, I'd be fine with that."
"I was going to try to make a specialized tracking unit with Hinata Hyuuga, Shino Aburame, and Kiba Inuzuka. They probably would have been the weakest of the teams I expect to truly pass."
"I can work with Shino and Hinata," Naruto stated. "They're both pretty quiet. Kiba rubs me the wrong way, but he and Sasuke don't hate each other."
"That's good to hear," Hiruzen responded. "I guess it's a good thing you came in when you did. Any later and we could have had a problem on our hands."
"Thanks, Old Man." The blond got up to leave, but said old man's words held him for several more seconds.
"Oh, and Naruto? Until you are officially a ninja, I'm making your status as the Red Dragon Emperor an S-class secret. You are not to let anyone find out between now and next week at the earliest. Is that clear?"
"Yes, Hokage-sama," Naruto nodded. That was no laughing matter. "Oh, and Old Man? That sleeping beast in my gut? The orange one, not the red one? It's a she."
Hiruzen Sarutobi stared at the door as the boy left. Reviewing all the information he'd learned over the course of this interruption, he came to one conclusion.
"First the teams," he mumbled to himself, "then the sake. A lot of sake."
Naruto went through the week like his usually did, deliberately forcing his curiosity about using his power as the Red Dragon Emperor down until he would be able to. He continued to converse with Ddrag at night. The dragon had explained that he could not talk to him outside of dreams or whispers unless Naruto summoned his Boosted Gear, an action the had agreed to not do until he was officially a ninja.
The boy happily walked into the Academy the next Monday morning. He had a smile on his face and a spring in his step as he stepped into his room. Looking around, he spotted the two other students who, if the Hokage had done as they'd talked about, would be his teammates until their promotions to Chunin. He bounced over to them and sat down next to the female.
"Hi, Hinata," he greeted happily. He also caught Shino's eye behind them and nodded to the silent male, a nod that said male returned with one of his own.
"H-hello, N-Naruto-kun," the girl responded, twiddling with her fingers. The three fell into a comfortable silence, each thinking about their own things. Naruto wondered who their sensei would be. Hinata's mind ran rampant with countless thoughts as to why her crush would suddenly approach her. Shino was simply curious as to why the blond had greeted them as if he knew something about them that they did not. The three turned their attention to Iruka as he took his place at the front of the room and cleared his throat.
"Good morning, everyone," the man said. "Congratulations on passing your exams. I am very proud of you all and I'm sure many of you will go on to be feared in many other villages and hailed as heroes here in Konoha. Now, without further ado, since you all must be out-of-your-minds to know, on to the team assignments. Team 1..." He droned on as names were rattled off. Finally, he reached the names Naruto knew.
"Team 7 will consist of Sasuke Uchiha," the girls of the class who had not been assigned perked up, "Sakura Haruno," said girl screeched happily as the others moaned sadly. Naruto was glad he'd talked to the Hokage; a team with those two would have been a disaster waiting to happen, "and Kiba Inuzuka." The boy and his dog Akamaru whined, the memory of the girl's screech fresh in his mind.
"Team 8 will have Shino Aburame, Hinata Hyuuga, and Naruto Uzumaki." Hinata perked up and shrunk back at the same time with mixed emotions about being on the same team as Naruto. Shino came to the conclusion that the blond of their team knew the team assignments before they were announced. Either way, it now mattered not.
"And finally, since Team 9 is still around from the last class, Team 10 will be Shikamaru Nara, Choji Akamichi, and Ino Yamanaka. That is all. Once more, I would like to tell you all how proud I am of you all making it this far. Your new senseis will be here in a few minutes to pick you up. Good luck everyone."
Just as he finished, a plethora of men and women, most wearing flak jackets of Konoha, entered. Among them were two women and a man. The first woman, who was standing between the other two, had wild black hair that fell to the middle of her back and framed her face and the headband that sat on her forehead, olive skin, and red eyes. She wore a dress that looked like overlapping cloth and blue shinobi sandals sat on her feet.
The man who was standing on the right of the first woman had shaggy black hair that was styled up to not cover his headband or his onix eyes. He was dressed in stereotypical Konoha ninja gear consisting of dark blue pants and long-sleeve shirt, blue shinobi sandals, and a green flack jacket. A cigarette sat in his mouth, but it was unlit due to the Academy's no smoking policy.
The other woman, who was standing at the first's other shoulder, had shorter purple hair that was pinned up at the back of her head and fell down to cover most of her headband, a stick of dango in her left hand. She was dressed in a brown/orange skirt over fishnet shorts and a fishnet top under a Konoha flack jacket and a tan trench coat, both of which were left open to show a good about of curve from her breasts. She had off-white boots that ended at her shins and her dark-purple-almost-black eyes held a predatory, sadistic glint in them. As the students watched, her tongue, which seemed unusually long, slithered out of her mouth, pulled a ball of dango off of the stick in her hand, and moved back in. Those who had a front-row seat felt sorry for the unfortunate souls that would have her as their teacher.
The man of the those three stepped forward and opened his mouth, ready to introduce himself and take his own team. That did not happen. The purple-haired woman kicked him in the side, sending him into the wall.
"Alright, you little shits!" the woman declared happily. "I am the beautiful and sexy Anko Mitarashi! Team 8, get your asses to training ground 5 in the next five minutes!" The woman exploded into white smoke. The room was silent for several long seconds.
"Oh shit!" Naruto realized. "That's us! Come on guys!" He reached down, taking Hinata's hand in his right and Shino's wrist in his left, and ran to the window. They were in such a hurry, however, that the blond did not stop to open it; he simply kicked the glass out and jumped.
Their trip took exactly four minutes and 50 seconds. When they arrived at the training ground, a wide, flat area covered in pebbles of all shapes and sizes, they found their sensei sitting on a training post with dango sticks surrounding her. They all were out of breath.
"Well, well, well," the woman laughed at the gasping 12-year-olds. "I didn't expect you three to actually make it here on time. You've passed the first test. And, while I would love nothing more than to drive you all into the ground right now and dance to the sound of your pained screaming, I'm not allowed to push you that far... yet. So! Introductions while you catch your breath, though I wouldn't bother, you'll lose it again soon enough. Blondie, you first."
Naruto glared at her. "I'm Naruto Uzumaki, not Blondie. I like training and ramen as well as my friends. I hate waiting for food if I'm alone and I'm starting to not like you. I WILL be Hokage when I get older."
"You're next, Buggy."
"I am Shino Aburame," said student huffed, trying to hide how out-of-breath he was. "I also would prefer not to be associated with the moniker 'Buggy'; the name brings up the image of a pirate in my mind. I like bugs. I dislike people who kill bugs for no good reason. I wish to be a good clan head like my father."
"Kinda short. We'll work on that. White-Eyes. You're up."
Hinata squeaked. "I-I'm H-Hinata Hyuuga. I-I like cinnamon buns a-and m-my sister Hanabi a-and..." She trailed off, her eyes barely glancing at Naruto. It wasn't much, Anko almost didn't catch it and she was a Jonin, but she saw. And she smirked. "I-I dislike the Cage Bird Seal a-and some th-things about my c-clan. I w-want t-to find m-my strength and ch-change them."
Anko smirked. "Alright, maggots. Note that I've learned most of your deepest secrets through your body language, take off your shoes!"
"Why?" Naruto questioned while Hinata 'eep'ed at the idea of her knowing their secrets.
"Because I said so and I'm a higher rank than you. Now take off your shoes and drop and give me a hundred pushups." Naruto grumbled angrily, but did as told, Hinata following in his example. Shino was already down, going slowly. As they continued, the sharp rocks underneath them cutting into their palms, Anko decided to introduce herself properly. She sat on Naruto's back.
"I'm Anko Mitarashi, Jonin, and, if you maggots somehow impress me, your Sensei. My likes include eating dango, a good romp in the sack, and torturing people slowly in T&I. My dislikes are none of your concern. Also, you WILL NOT bring up the topic of the Sannin when I am around."
"And *huff* what *huff* are *huff* your *huff* dreams?" Naruto asked between his exercises. He'd be damned if he was sent back to the Academy because he was rude, even if his sensei was a sadist.
"I'm glad you asked, Whiskers." She bent down, pressing her body against his and whispered in his ear. "I want to kill a pedophile." She stood up abruptly, nearly causing the blond to collapse. He did fall in surprise, however, when she smacked his ass on the way up. She then sauntered her way over to the girl of the three and bent down in front of her.
"You have self-confidence problems," she told the girl lowly, "and I know how to get you to work." The woman took sadistic pleasure in the fearful face of the Hyuuga heiress.
"And you, Bug Boy, as just plain creepy. I like it." Naruto dropped, him being the first to finish. Hinata fell several seconds later, her arms shaking uncontrollably. Finally, Shino gave a pained gasp and crumpled, having done the least amount of reps but also going the slowest. Anko drug him over so he was facing the other two and pulled out four pairs of handcuffs. She slapped them onto the pre-teens so they were connected with Naruto having both of his wrists connected to Hinata's with Shino having his arms cuffed within the area inside their restraints. She them pulled out a can of bug spray and sprayed the cuffs.
"Why do I suddenly feel so much more tired?" the blond questioned.
"These as chakra-suppressing handcuffs from the T&I Department," Anko smiled. "You kiddies have one hour to get out of those by any means necessary without leaving the training ground. Also," Anko brought out their supply pouches that she'd stolen, "I took the liberty of relieving you of all your oh-so-heavy weapons. Before I leave, I'll give you a gift." She threw three small pills into the surrounding gravel. "Those are pain-killers. I'll be back in an hour. Have fun!" She Shushined away.
"Dammit," Naruto mumbled, pulling himself up into a sitting position. The shift pulled at Hinata's wrists, the cuffs digging into her skin from where the purple-haired woman had tightened them far more than necessary.
"Ow," the girl moaned.
"Sorry, Hinata," Naruto sighed. "Either of you to have an idea?" The Hyuuga and the Aburame stayed silent, the latter shaking his head and the former looking down sadly. "I didn't think so. She said we have an hour, right? Let's take a few minutes to brainstorm." The boy shifted into a meditation pose and tried to dive into his mind. He succeeded after several minutes.
The sewer that seemed to be his mind swam into view. Why it was a sewer, he had no idea. He made a mental note to try to change it later, a literal sticky note popping into existence beside him, much to his surprise. Waving it off, Naruto walked forward and into the cavern with the dragon and the cage.
"Yo, Ddrag," he greeted. "What's up?"
"Did you come here to talk or ask for advice?" the Red Dragon rumbled.
"A little bit of both, I guess. You said, when we first met, that the Nine-Tails' chakra has healing properties, right?"
"Where are you going with this?" Ddrag asked. "I don't see what that information has to do with your current situation."
"Just tell me."
"Fine. Yes, it does. Why?"
"How much could it heal at one time?"
"Theoretically, most of an appendage, but that would take up almost all of the pure demonic chakra in your system."
"Your power is doubling your and my power, right?" Ddrag nodded. "Could you build up some of that and transfer it to the Kyuubi's chakra?"
"I suppose I could. It's moving slowly due to those cuffs, though."
"I'll deal with those, just try to get that healing stuff ready."
"Boy, wait!" Drag tried to call him back, a vague idea of his plan coming to mind, but it was too late. He bustled about; the kid's career was on the line if Ddrag was right.
"-uto-kun! Naruto-kun!" The blond came to, Hinata calling his name.
"Nearly 20 minutes have elapsed," Shino informed him. "We have thought of nothing."
"I have," Naruto said. "It's going to hurt like like a bitch, though. Do either of you have a hair pin?" Hinata nodded. "Did either of you collect the pain-killers?"
"I had my insects do so." The clan heir held out the small pills which the orphan took from him.
"Right. Shino, I need you do do me a favor."
"I need your bugs to chew my arms off."
"What?" the insect user asked, shocked, while the girl yelled, "No! Naruto-kun, you can't!"
"Trust me," the Jinchuuriki placated. "I think I can regrow them. Just give me a minute so these pills will take effect." He threw all three into his mouth and crunched down on them, swallowing all of them at once.
"Are you certain of this?" Shino asked, his bugs slowly spreading out from under his oversized coat to swarm around him. Naruto noted that they stayed away from the cuffs. Whatever Anko sprayed them with was some strong-ass stuff.
"How fast can they do it?"
"Three seconds, give or take half a second." Naruto nodded and pulled his sleeves back with his teeth, his nose scrunching at the smell from the cuffs.
"You can't seriously be considering this!" Hinata rounded on Shino, her anger overruling her timidity. "You could cripple Naruto-kun for life! There has to be another way!"
"We don't have time," Naruto told her. We have about 25 minutes left. I think I could work out basic lockpicking in 20. Do it, Shino."
"Hai." The boy's swarm dove for the blond's exposed arms, the girl screaming in the background. The Jinchuuriki clamped his mouth shut, grinding his teeth through the only-slightly dulled pain. Within seconds, his arms were rendered stumps ending halfway between his elbow and where his wrists use to be, the severed appendages left locked in the cuffs. Naruto rolled away, gasping as red energy bubbled out of his wounds along with his blood. The energy plugged the veins and arteries, stopping the boy's profuse bleeding.
The blond then heard the dragon inside him say "Boost!", the chakra doubling in potency. Skin stretched over the exposed muscle, the bone growing out in the air. Ligaments sprung up, wrapping around newly-formed metacarples and ten new carples that moved on to his philanges. Muscles spiraled out just after blood vessels as another "Boost!" sounded in Naruto's mind, the growth speed doubling. Finally, the skin quickly creeped its way out from were the stumps had been, covering the red cells until even Naruto's fingernails had regrown.
Naruto looked back to his teammates, only to find that Hinata had passed out and Shino had lost his glasses in shock, revealing his eyes to be a leafy green. Naruto tried to play it off with a laugh.
"Heh, glad that worked," he laughed tiredly. The Jinchuuriki shuffled over to his unconscious teammate and combed his hands through her hair, not hearing her pleased moans as his fingers lightly raked her scalp. Finally, he found one of the hairpins that she'd used to pin her hair back with and pulled it out.
"Let's see here," Naruto mumbled to himself, lifting one of Shino's cuffs and prodding the pin into the opening. Ddrag whispered instructions into his mind, subtly guiding his hand until there was a soft click and the restraint popped open. He then repeated the process three more times, releasing Shino's other hand and both of Hinata's. The girl came to just as her other cuff popped off and clattered to the stones at their feet.
"Now that was something to see," they heard a familiar voice say. Their captor/sensei strode back into the training ground with a plate of dango, a square foot of pebbles sinking from where her Shadow Clone had popped underneath, leaving the space empty. "I said I'd accept you as my team if you could impress me. Consider me impressed."
"Does that mean-?" Naruto began hopefully.
"Yes it does," Anko confirmed. "Congrats, maggots of Team 8."
End of Chapter 3