More Than Human
Heya! Orpheus here!
This might look like a story, but I assure you I'm only testing the waters and want to get the reactions of the readers on this sort of thing. If it looks like most of you enjoy it, I'll actually continue it, if not I'll leave it be for some time before coming back to it. So, meh.
Anywho, I would like your thoughts on this sort of thing, so I'll go ahead and let you immerse yourselves!
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Chapter I: Let's Make a Deal, Old Man
"Hokage-sama! I think there are survivors in here!" A Cat-masked ANBU exclaimed. A team of six ANBU and the Hokage had been gathered to perform a sting operation on Orochimaru of the Sannin. The Snake Summoner had been found to be performing experiments on men, women and children of all ages, social statuses, station and economic standing indiscriminately. When confronted in his underground lab, the man had confessed before fleeing Konoha.
After searching through much of the lab, dozens - if not hundreds - of corpses had been found along with notes on many finished, ongoing and planned experiments. The base itself expanded vertically, going deeper and deeper underground. Neko found herself on the fifth floor beneath the surface - along with the rest of the team - when she had come across a pair of humans that still showed not only signs of life, but were staring right back at her. "Where are th-?" The Hokage, Sarutobi Hiruzen, found his sentence dropping off quickly.
The man was old, at least in his seventies, and had all the wrinkles and liver spots one might expect on someone so old. Atop his head was a mess of grey hair that matched his beard. He was wearing his famous armor he donned during the Shinobi Wars while his helmet was in his hand as he had been wiping sweat from his brow just a moment earlier. Underground rooms could get very humid. His brown eyes were wide in disbelief as he stared at the two living experiments locked inside a spacious cage - but still a cage nonetheless - that looked like it could hold fifty full grown men before they were packed like sardines.
The first was a boy of possibly fifteen or sixteen with light brown hair and matching eyes that looked at the group with hope-filled eyes. The second was a boy of only five or six with spikes of blonde-tipped, but otherwise bright red hair and violet eyes which seemed to be analyzing the old man and the ANBU, obviously untrusting. Both of the boys were completely naked, but seemed unabashed even with all seven members of the team staring at them.
"Who are you?" The redhead asked venomously to those gathered. "Are you here to give us false hope just for Orochimaru to reveal it's a psychological experiment to bring out our bloodlines again? That Snake really needs to learn how to come up with more original plans." Hiruzen approached the cage, sadness filling his eyes as he could only imagine what these two had gone through. Even then, it might not come close to what his wayward student had done.
"No, we are here to bring you out of here." Hiruzen told the boy. It was a little odd that the younger one was standing protectively in front of the teenager though. As he came closer, he noticed a trio of whisker-like markings on either of his cheeks. For some reason he thought the feature was familiar, but ignored it in lieu of making the boy comfortable. "Fukuro, please pick the lock and let the two of them out. Tora, Ushi, please unseal your cloaks and let them wear them. Neko, would you mind taking them to the ANBU base and watching over them until we finish here?" Each of the four members he called out nodded assent and performed their duties.
Within a minute, the two boys were freed, somewhat clothed and shunshined away to somewhere they would be safe. "Orochimaru, what have you done to those boys?" Hiruzen had to ask himself.
[Two Hours Later - ANBU Base]
When Hiruzen finally arrived to the ANBU Base where the two survivors were, he felt a decade older. Seventeen floors. Seventeen floors, each worse than the last, filled with hundreds upon hundreds of experiments where the successes seemed to be just as horrific as the failures. Either his student had been doing this little by little over a period of many years but became greedy and slipped up or he had been doing much, much work in a short period of time. Hiruzen wasn't sure which was worse, to be honest.
When he finally was able to get to the base, he was disappointed that no one else found was as close to surviving as the first two boys. There were people that lived, but he was sure the medics would be at it for weeks - if not months - to stabilize their conditions. Until he talked to the boys he wouldn't know the reason why they were in such good shape though. It could be that they had less extreme experiments, or perhaps that they had some sort of bloodline to help them heal, or anything in between.
So lost in his own thoughts was Hiruzen that he didn't notice one of the very boys he was thinking of standing before him. "Neko told me who you are, Old Man." The voice brought Hiruzen from his thoughts and he looked down at the redhead who so reminded him of someone, but he couldn't quite place his finger on it. He just smiled at the boy. He noted that he was now wearing clothes, though it was simply a very small ANBU uniform without the mask or armor that usually went with it. He would need to get ahold of something else for those two.
"So, you're the one that not only trained that monster, but you let him go too?" The cold analysis might as well have been a slap to the Hokage's face. "My brother is so afraid that he is hiding in every shadow because of you. You let someone like that operate in the village you are supposedly protecting. Seeing as how he ran from this place though, it seems that Orochimaru is too scared to have a confrontation here. That means this place offers some measure of safety, I suppose. Somehow I convinced my brother of that anyways."
"Konoha is the safest place for the both of you, I can assure you of that." Hiruzen explained to the boy. It was odd how he spoke, as if he was much older than he was. "Especially the ANBU base here. The location is only known to those in the Black Ops itself and those retired from it are branded with a memory seal to forget where it is precisely. Then there are certain, trusted individuals that I handpick myself who know where certain branches are. There are maybe less than 300 people in the entire world who know where this is, but only seven people, aside from Orochimaru, even know of your existence."
This seemed to somewhat satisfy the boy and he nodded before walking down the hall in the direction Hiruzen had been going. He followed behind him, pondering what to ask. "May I ask what to call you and your brother?" He asked the young boy. The redhead was silent a moment before speaking.
"Orochimaru only called us by our Experiment Identification Number." He explained to the man, which caused Hiruzen to feel even worse about letting the Snake Sannin go. "However, my brother and I gave ourselves names. My brother decided on Yamato because it was the name of a place he said he could remember, though he doesn't know exactly when he had been there. When I found out that the Snake absolutely hated the Fourth Hokage, I was tempted to take the name Minato, but instead I found out that the Yondaime had a son who died during the Kyuubi attack named Naruto. I decided to take his name, just to mess with Orochimaru."
"How did you hear about that from dozens of meters below Konoha?" Hiruzen wondered curiously.
"It was from that Snake. His experiments gave Yamato and I bloodlines. Yamato can use the Shodaime's Mokuton. I, on the other hand, can access and manipulate every single cell in my body, every organ, every tissue, every bone, it's all under my control. Orochimaru never named it but I've been doing my own experiments with it. I can sharpen my hearing by blocking out my other four senses for a time and by accessing cells in my brain I can remember every single sound with perfect clarity and figure them out one by one. I never forget anything, I cannot forget anything even if I wanted, due to my ability."
"That does explain how you speak like a fully grown adult." Hiruzen muttered. "So, you can control every part of your body in any way you want?" He asked, to which Naruto nodded his head. "That seems highly risky. You could accidentally kill yourself if you are not careful." The redhead shrugged.
"Orochimaru manipulated my DNA before even trying this experiment to bring out my Uzumaki side of the family and had it basically wipe away the other side of my family's genetics. For all intents and purposes, I am a full-blooded Uzumaki with all of the benefits that brings out. Even if I were to make a fatal mistake that I couldn't fix on my own, my body will heal any problems it encounters through rapid cellular regeneration. It has already happened on multiple occasions."
"I see. Well, I will have Neko give the two of you a room here until we are certain no harm will come to you. I will also have clothing brought to the both of you. If we can possibly find your families, I will reunite you with them, but if not the village does have a few properties that are reserved for orphaned shinobi-in-training. If either of you wish to take up training, then I would be more than able to grant you a space for the two of you." Naruto looked at the old man and nodded.
"I will do it. I can hide my bloodline with ease, but Yamato has yet to be able to control his. I will speak to him about it and if he so wishes to become a ninja, I will only let him if you can provide someone who would be able to teach him to at least keep it hidden. I may be younger than Yamato-nii, but it is my role to protect him from those who would take advantage of him." The Hokage - though surprised - nodded his assent and left to locate Neko as Naruto continued moving down the hall. Hiruzen was unsure where he was off to, but as long as he stayed in the base it didn't matter too much.
[Konohagakure Residential District - Two Weeks Later]
"Are you sure about this, Naruto?" Yamato asked the younger boy as they stood in front of the door to their new apartment. It was on the ground floor and the Hokage had just sent a message to them through Neko that this was where they would be staying for the foreseeable future. Apparently it was a two bedroom that was pre-furnished with everything they would need. Groceries would be delivered every two weeks and they would also get a monthly stipend to spend how they wanted so long as Naruto passed all his classes. The higher his grades, the more he would receive the following semester.
"Of course I'm sure, Yamato-nii. We have no family, no friends and don't know anything about this village. If I train to become a ninja at the Academy, then I will be able to keep us sheltered, fed and even give us some money on the side. I promised you that I would take care of us already, didn't I? You may be older than me, but I'm smarter and more mature, so I'll be the one to support our family. I know that you're scared of dying after everything he did to us too, so you don't have to become a ninja. Just learn to control your Mokuton and live a normal life, alright?"
Yamato seemed hesitant but nodded his head, finally. Naruto smiled to his surrogate brother and opened the door, allowing the brunette to enter first. He quickly followed behind him, locking the no less than three physical and four seal-based locks he had convinced the Hokage to place on the apartment. As he finally got a look at the den, he noted a sofa and a mid-size television and two lamps on either side of the sofa; the kitchen was simple: an oven, microwave, toaster and refrigerator as well as multiple cabinets and a pantry; the dining room was just a table with four chairs - apparently the Hokage thought they'd have guests in the near future - though it appeared able to seat eight; finally were the bedrooms - both identical for now - which had a bed, two desks, a closet full of clothing and some shelving on one of the walls. Decorating would be a long-term affair, for sure, but eventually they would make this place theirs.
"I like it." Yamato commented to his brother, who scoffed with a barely suppressed laugh. "What? You don't like it?" This time, Naruto didn't try to keep his laughter down at all as he chuckled.
"I would take even the streets over our last abode at this point. That cage was the bottom of the barrel, Yamato-nii. Just because we're out of that madhouse, don't let your guard down though. The Hokage promised to keep us guarded by an ANBU each at all times, but that doesn't mean that we're safe. When I become a ninja, I can't count on them to follow me outside the village. So I'll become strong enough to protect both of us from anything. You just live a normal life."
Yamato seemed a bit nervous before nodding with a smile. "Alright, Naruto. I'll do as you say, but you better not make me use my Mokuton to save you. Okay?" The redhead nodded with a slight grin. "I haven't seen you smile like that in a long time… what's going on?"
"Oh, it's nothing. I'm just happy for a change. We're out of that prison and not under strict surveillance from the ANBU anymore. We've got our own place and my brother is going to get to live a normal life. Everything is going great, Yamato. I mean, I have to deal with a bunch of children when I start school tomorrow, but besides that everything seems to be looking up."
Yamato smiled at his younger brother figure, nodding. "Yeah. Everything really is looking up, but that isn't hard to do considering where we were for the last six years. I still think it will be a good experience for us though."
[Konohagakure Shinobi Academy - First Day of Classes]
Naruto found himself sighing as he sat at his desk in room 1-4 at the very front and center of the room. He had a feeling that it might get boring rather quickly given how fast he learned things, but this was all a part of his deal with the Hokage, so it wasn't like he had much of a choice in the matter. Thanks to said old man, Naruto had got a new wardrobe instead of wearing that ANBU uniform. He had switched to a dark blue shirt with the Uzumaki swirl on either shoulder with short sleeves and a pair of matching shorts with a ninja pouch on each leg. On his hands were fingerless gloves of the same color with steel bracers extending from just below his knuckles back halfway to his elbows while he wore a pair of sandals on his feet, his legs wrapped up in bandages.
He couldn't help but notice the people around him and he was not impressed. The only people worth noting were the Aburame and Inuzuka clan heirs and a branch member of the Hyuuga and Uchiha clans, in his opinion. Everyone else seemed to be either civilian-born or non-clan shinobi born. That didn't inherently make them less powerful, but it made them less interesting to him.
It was then that the Chuunin instructor walked in. He had long, silvery-white hair that ran past his shoulders, black eyes and a dark blue cap atop his head where the steel plate with Konohagakure's emblem denoting its shinobi forces was placed. Aside from that, he wore the generic Chuunin uniform of vest over blue shirt and pants and sandals. "Alright class, welcome to your first day of the next six years of your life. I am your sensei, Mizuki. Today will be simple and involve very little lecturing on my part. I will be giving you a pre-examination test to test your current knowledge and see whether this, or a different class, would be your best fit. This test comes in three stages. The first is a written portion, the second is a practical portion and the third is a sparring session. Each of these is optional, but be warned that not taking part will send you to the remedial classes. I wish you the best of luck. Perhaps we'll see if another Itachi is among you!"
Sarutobi Hiruzen heard the knock at his door and couldn't help but give a sigh of relief. He had been doing non-stop paperwork all day - as usual - and very much needed a break. "Come in." He announced, watching as Dr. Kurai Sakamoto walked in. He was of average height with a pineapple ponytail of black hair, grey eyes and wore a lab coat over his clothing. In his right hand was a clipboard filled with many sheets of paper that Sakamoto was looking over rather feverishly.
"Hokage-sama, as you ordered, I have completed all the normal procedures. I have done blood analysis, genetic analysis, searched for any potential illnesses and diseases - both temporary and untreatable, and I have the results for you. I thought it best if I personally hand it off to you though, with my own professional assessment, given the severity of what I have found." Hiruzen certainly found his interest piqued by what Sakamoto had said and motioned him to continue.
"According to my findings, the stories of Naruto and Yamato check out. Yamato certainly has the Shodaime's Mokuton and Naruto is a full-blooded Uzumaki. Their genetic coding matches up with the samples that are in our data banks well enough for me to state that with absolute certainty. That is enough for me to state that, should Tsunade die before having an heir, that the two would become next in line for the Senjuu Clan and Naruto almost certainly is next in line to inherit the Uzumaki Clan holdings." When Hiruzen seemed about to speak, Sakamoto held up his hand to hold off the question. "According to Naruto, Orochimaru caused his mother's Uzumaki genetics to become dominant and force his father's side of the family to become nearly non-existent. I was curious about that, so I ran his DNA through a cross-analysis of all Uzumaki that we have in our computers and there was only one possible woman who matches his own genetics. This Naruto Uzumaki is Naruto Uzumaki. He is the son of Kushina Uzumaki and Minato Namikaze, heir to Uzu no Kuni and all of its holdings by blood and heir to the Senjuu Clan and all of its holdings by law should the current head produce no heirs. His blood also shows all the signs that his mother did. Hokage-sama, Yondaime-sama succeeded in sealing the Kyuubi away into his son before the death of him and Kushina-hime."
Hiruzen's eyes widened considerably at the declaration. As Dr. Sakamoto handed him the clipboard, he scanned over the notes, the comparisons between genetics and everything of importance that Sakamoto had included. After scanning over it and putting what he knew of medical science to use, he set the clipboard down and made eye contact with the doctor. "Sakamoto-sensei, I will have to ask you to keep this secret. Do not allow anyone to learn of anything you have told me, especially the identity of Naruto's parents." Dr. Sakamoto nodded his head, understanding the importance of this information.
[Residence of Naruto and Yamato]
"I'm home!" Naruto announced as he walked through the door to his shared apartment, the redhead spotted his brother sitting at the table with the Hokage, Mizuki-sensei and a woman he hadn't seen before. She had shoulder-length black hair, bright red eyes, pale skin and wore an odd dress that seemed to be made out of a sash wrapped several times over her body with a V-neckline where mesh could be spotted beneath and a single, red sleeve on her right arm. If Naruto had to guess, she looked to be in her early twenties. "Hello there, nii-san. Mizuki-sensei. Old Man." He looked at the young woman, who smiled.
"Yuuhi Kurenai." She responded.
"How have you been acclimating to the Academy?" Hiruzen asked the redhead, who shrugged as he sat at the table. "Mizuki here tells me that you have easily excelled and are currently unchallenged as the top student in your classes, in every subject. You haven't missed a single question on any test and have never made the same mistake twice. You've even beat the Inuzuka heir in taijutsu, despite no formal training of your own."
"Those are all explained by my eidetic memory." Naruto replied easily, gaining the attention of everyone but Yamato, who was calmly sipping tea. "Orochimaru's experiments allow me to access and manipulate every cell in my body, which includes my brain cells. I believe I explained this to you already, Old Man. I can't forget anything, even if I wanted to. I mean, I suppose I could purge the cells that contain a memory, but I'd rather not lose any knowledge that possibly provides an advantage." Mizuki widened his eyes before chuckling, nodding his head.
"Yes, that certainly explains a lot. Still, it provides a distinct advantage and we shinobi are meant to utilize every potential advantage we can get our hands on."
"Quite. With that in mind, I thought it apt to give you a… special type of training. You see, Kurenai-chan here also excelled in her own class when she was in the Academy. She may not be the genius Uchiha Itachi or Hatake Kakashi are, but I assure you she is more than capable of this. I would like to offer you the chance to be tutored by her and take the graduation examination at the end of the year, moving at the pace you choose for your training instead of one that relies on others in your class." Naruto looked at the three adults, and then at Yamato, who smiled.
"I can't say I'm opposed to the idea. However, would this not alter the deal we've come to regarding my grades affecting the monthly allowance posted to our account?" Naruto wondered, causing the Hokage to smile slightly.
"Do not worry, given you are performing six years worth of learning within the span of six months, I will have the equivalent funds wired for a year worth of exceptional grades each month. You will not be losing any economic advantage if you take this deal." Naruto smiled, glancing at Yamato, before nodding. "Splendid. I will allow your new sensei to take it from here, if you don't mind. I have to head back to the office, but I thank you for the tea and conversation, Yamato-chan." Yamato nodded his head as the Hokage got up.
"I also must be leaving. It may be a weekend, but I really must be preparing my classes for the coming week and finish some grading. I hope for the best in your future endeavors, Naruto-kun. I also cannot wait to see just what you accomplish in the coming years." With that, the two white-haired men left the abode, leaving three. That was, until, Yamato also stood.
"As for me, I've got my own work to do. I have plenty to study if I'm going to get into university. Apparently, the entrance exam is of one of the highest standards in all of the Elemental Nations here at Konoha University. I have freshly brewed tea in the kitchen and the two of you can help yourself to whatever food we have. Good luck, otouto." Yamato ruffled Naruto's hair with a smile, before heading upstairs to his room.
Finally, only two individuals remained. "I see you already have some tea, so shall we simply get down to business, Kurenai-sensei?" The ravenette smiled at his no-nonsense attitude and nodded. "Frankly, I detest the weekends. I never have anything to do when the Academy is out, especially since Yamato is attempting to becoming an architect and I won't do anything to halt his progress. After two months in the Academy, I've tried everything to find something to fill the gaps, but the children don't understand me, the adults don't take me seriously and the only decent thing to do is read at the library. As a student, I get a certain amount of freedom, but I have to stay within the First Year section. When I say that everything there is far too elementary for my liking, I am not exaggerating. About the only things I find of interest there are the alchemy and history sections, as I have a firm grasp on essentially everything else there."
Kurenai looked at the boy, who had just gone on a small rant about being bored on the weekends, and her eyes lit up as she understood. "So, you'd prefer to work on your skills as many days of the week as possible, if I'm understanding your correctly?" Naruto nodded, which urged Kurenai to continue. "Hm… I can't be available all seven days of the week, but I believe I can work something out given a few weeks. Depending on how quickly you excel, I might bring a few friends in to help out every so often, if you're alright with that?"
"Of course I am. 'A child is raised by the entire village.'" He quoted something he'd read in the many books he'd gotten ahold of. "Do you have any idea what we will be starting with? Or when we will start, for that matter?"
"I do, actually. We will begin at six o'clock sharp tomorrow morning at Training Ground 3 with a few activities that will allow me, along with your Academy files, to assess where you are in terms of skill, knowledge and ability. I have been informed of your special ability, so I'll factor that into my assessment as well." Naruto nodded to that, thinking about what he had, and hadn't, told the Hokage about his abilities.
[Flashback: One Month Ago]
"You wished to see me, Old Man?" Naruto asked as he found himself in the Hokage's office for the first time.
"Yes, I have a few questions I'd like to ask you about your… bloodline." Naruto nodded. He was honestly surprised this hadn't come sooner. With how much the hidden villages emphasized their bloodliners, it was odd that he hadn't been called upon sooner. "Given you have the ability to manipulate all of your cells at will, could you tell me whether that allows you to activate any latent bloodlines within your body?"
This, for the first time, brought about a new expression on Naruto's face. He shut his eyes and made it appear as if he was concentrating, or thinking, but the reality was much different. Did he somehow find out? I only just found out about it when I fought that Kiba kid and his skin cells transferred to my body. No, even Orochimaru hadn't tested for it yet. I do want to get to the highest branches of the shinobi forces, but letting them know that particular power would only cause troubles. "Maybe." He finally answered noncommittally. "I'm not entirely sure if I can since the Uzumaki genetics of mine were activated by Orochimaru's experiments. I don't know if he did it, or it happened because of my bloodline. I just know that my latent bloodlines are already active."
Hiruzen nodded at this. "I see… I suppose that, given the results are already there, it wouldn't matter either way. My second question for you is, do you know your exact genetics since you can access your cells?" Naruto shook his head.
"I know the structures, I know some of their functions, but I couldn't possibly know who my Uzumaki and non-Uzumaki parent is without comparing it to the genetic structure of other Uzumaki." The Hokage hummed in thought before sighing.
"I see. Lastly, I'd like to know some of the things your bloodline can do. I'm not asking you for the entire transcript of your abilities, just something that will give me a general idea of what sort of role you might have in a team."
"I see, of course. From the things that I have found out, I can enhance my sensory organs through various means, I can mimic the physical characteristics of anything biological in nature if I get a sample of their cells - such as a toad's tongue or a hawk's sight, I can alter my skeletal and muscular system to give myself any build I need and as much strength or speed as the situation calls for, I can take the physical form of any being I can imagine by changing my cellular makeup, I can heal myself through rapid cellular splitting and even heal and remove negative aspects of the body of others by pushing my cells into them. I'm almost certain that I haven't even scratched the surface yet, however. I'll need more time to figure out any advanced abilities. I hope you understand." Hiruzen nodded. His student's work was truly amazing, even though its process was abhorrent.
"Thank you, Naruto-kun. You are dismissed."
What he hadn't told the Hokage was that he was pretty sure he could do something else with genetics. When he had gotten into a sparring match with the branch Hyuuga from his class, the girl had used her Byakugan to fight him. When their skin made contact… he saw something. The skin cells had transferred between them thanks to their trading of blows and that's when he realized it. Her cellular structure had entered his body, and his white cells quickly neutralized the foreign agent. They had done one other thing; analyzed them.
When class let out that day, he went back to the one place he knew no one would find him: Orochimaru's old laboratory. It had become a safe haven of sorts for when he wanted to be alone. With the information his white cells had gained from their assimilation of the foreign cells, he spotted the genetic coding of Nagi's DNA and found several variants that weren't in his own. Most of them were mundane: chromosomes for appearance, inherited intelligence and diseases, things of that nature. However, he also found the sequence necessary for the Byakugan. When he rearranged particular parts of his own sequence, he found that his vision expanded. He could see everything around himself for several dozen meters!
It explained why, after fighting Kiba, he'd been able to enhance his senses without needing to block any of the others off. His body had been passively scanning the cells of every organism he touched, and it was a distinct advantage he held over every other ninja in the village. Needless to say, he challenged every other student in the class over the course of the last few weeks. It enhanced his style, for sure, but it also gave him to opportunity to see into the genetic structure of both clanless and clan-born ninja and to see the differences that came up because of it. He only gained access to four full bloodlines - the Aburame Hivemind, the Inuzuka Dogkin, the Hyuuga Byakugan and the Uchiha Sharingan - but he was also able to see things about his classmates he hadn't before. He saw their lineage all the way back to common ancestors, he saw diseases, he saw latent bloodlines and how genetics affected chakra in every aspect. He understood that genetics were everything to a ninja.
Which made him curious. Who exactly did he have in his lineage? The easiest way to learn that would be to gain access to as many different samples of genetic coding, wouldn't it? He would just- "Naruto-kun?" The redhead shook those thoughts as his new sensei spoke to him.
"I apologize, Kurenai-sensei. I was just thinking about something the Old Man said to me. I will be there early in the morning, do not worry. I have no wish to slow my progress at all. The quicker I can ascend the ranks to keep my nii-san safe, the better." The red-eyed woman smiled at that and stood.
"I'm glad to see you two are so close. I look forward to seeing you in the morning. Have a good rest of your evening." Naruto nodded as she left, then looked at the cups that Hiruzen, Mizuki and Kurenai had been using before activating his Byakugan. He could see where their saliva still was and smiled. One sample at a time.