It took forever, but I was finally able to get this chapter done. Perhaps the hardest thing about doing this was referring the main character as "the boy". In truth, I had not decided on a name until five minutes before I completed this section.
By all appearances, it seemed like an ordinary, peaceful day in the Village Hidden in the Leaves. The sun was shining; the birds were chirping; it was the kind of day where you wouldn't want to do anything, lest you spoil it. Of course, for those undergoing ninja training, this is a moot point.
This was especially true for three in particular, who are spending this morning on the balcony of the academy, focusing their respective chakras. In this, even at such an early stage, Sakura seems to have found her expertise. Sasuke is also performing rather well, as he tends to be well-rounded. As for Naruto... well, he's giving it his all--if only in an attempt to keep Sasuke from showing him up.
Watching over the team is their instructor, Kakashi. As his gaze switched from one genin to the next, his keen senses noted each one's progress--or lack thereof. For all involved, this was a day like any other. However, it would not stay that way for long.
Almost in unison, the three lesser ninjas snapped out of their meditative state. Without so much as a word to their sensei, they got up and left with no small amount of urgency.
The entire scene confused Kakashi to no end; not an easy feat to be sure. He might have expected such actions from Naruto, but Sasuke and Sakura have always been more respectful--or at least comparatively so. "And where are they off to in such a hurry?" he thought, knowing there had to have been a good reason for it.
That's when he felt it: an unexplainable sensation making itself known in the back of his mind and then some. Before he was even fully aware of it, he rushed off in the same direction his students had gone moments before, following the sudden urge to find the source of... whatever it was... and destroy it.
Roughly forty-four hours have passed since the boy's encounter with the chunin; forty-four that were surprisingly uneventful. Most people would not think too much of it, but for him, it was a hair shy of miraculous. Despite his peaceful surroundings, he did not allow himself to relax—nor has he ever since his journey began. He knew all too well that somewhere up ahead was someone just waiting to end his existence.
As if to drive this point home, a blip appeared in his internal radar—which could only mean one thing. The boy did not look forward to fighting; quite the opposite, in fact. It has just become an irremovable part of his life, to which he had to either adjust or suffer the consequences. It has even gone to the point where he thought the coming clash was long overdue.
Just as he was preparing himself for battle, the approaching ninja was joined by a second one, no doubt with the same intentions. "Two on one, huh?" he muttered, hardly seeming fazed by this. He briefly contemplated his opponents' skills as he got ready. Long ago, such thoughts used to make him worried, but now, it was hardly worth the moment of consideration he habitually gave it.
All of a sudden, the two became three… and then five… then ten… twenty-five… seventy-five… and it didn't stop there. "Oh no," the boy thought bitterly. "Don't tell me I found another one." The coming swarm left him precious little time for a plan of action, but only two would have come to mind regardless of how much time was available.
The first and most obvious option was to run like mad back the way he came. Naturally; if you were the sole target for an army of ninjas, you would run too. However, if he did this, he ran the risk of coming across any of the couple dozen he defeated over the last two weeks, thereby increasing the odds against him.
The only other option left was to go forward. As suicidal as it seemed, it was pretty much the only way to move onward on his journey. Besides, if he did run, the ever-growing mass ahead would follow him to the end of the earth. Plus, moving forward would place him in the middle of a village, and the number of projectiles and jutsus flying around would be significantly reduced with innocent bystanders around.
"Let's get this over with," the boy said, breaking out into a run toward the meat grinder. Along the way, through some unknown means, a faint glow appeared along his legs. At first, this was all that happened, but just when he was about to reach the first wave, his speed increased to the point of him almost becoming a blur, allowing him to leave a dozen stunned ninjas in his dust.
The boy knew well enough that those still ahead would not be caught off guard so easily--such was the cost of showing one's cards. Then again, the consequences of such actions depend on how many cards a person has available to them. "Time for some fancy footwork," he thought. He didn't even try to slow down, despite being on what appeared to be a collision course with a ninja easily twice his age charging the other way, fist raised to strike.
At the last possible instant, the boy stepped to the side, dodging the attack aimed for his head. From that point on, moving in a straight line for more than a moment was the last thing on his mind as he continued in a seemingly random, zigzagging route along the forest path.
His surroundings quickly became a maelstrom as both human bodies and various throwing stars sought to strike him down. None were successful, and that only made them more intent on killing him.
In the end, there was probably only one thing that could stop the boy in his tracks; something that would eventually present itself. "So much for that plan," he thought as he skidded to a halt before a solid wall of ninjas, well short of the village gates. There were about three dozen of them crowding the path; there was no telling how many more were on the way, eager for their chance to strike.
In no time at all, he was completely surrounded. Nevertheless, he wasn't about to admit defeat. This just called for a change of strategy. "If I so much as twitch, I'll be done for," he thought, trying to stay as still as possible. In doing so, he hoped he force someone else to make the first move. He would not have to wait long.
Leaping out of the crowd came a boy a couple years his junior. He had bright yellow hair and... whiskers? There was no time to contemplate facial features however, as this was seen by all as a battle to the death--well, all except one. The boy's expression was as emotionless as ever as he watched Naruto's approach. "Here goes nothing." As soon as Naruto was within reach, he grabbed him by the arm and, using his own momentum against him, swung him around and sent him flying back the way he came.
As if on cue, the front ranks of ninjas rushed forward to bring the battle to a swift and merciless end. Thinking quickly, the boy took the glow that still encompassed his legs and shifted it to his arms and prepared to receive the coming onslaught. With amazing speed, he was able to block and parry every blow that came his way, but he knew it would only be a matter of time before he was beaten, crushed, trampled or some combination of the three by the sheer weight and numbers. He had to do something to get some breathing room if only for a moment.
In the instant after one block but before the next, he crossed his arms in front of his face. The next moment, the entire area became flooded with a intense light, forcing every ninja to stop and shield their eyes or risk being blinded. During the pause in the action, the boy quickly performed his vanishing act, reappearing roughly ten feet above the tree tops.
Unfortunately, the respite he received was extremely short-lived. The sun-like radiance below had not so much as began to fade when eight ninjas appeared from various parts of the crowd. This only served to further support the boy's theories concerning ninjas, but that can be saved for another time.
The opposing group (which included Sasuke) quickly settled into a surprisingly evenly spaced circle around the boy. Completely in sync, all of them performed a couple hand gestures. "Fire jutsu!" they said, also in unison.
"Oh, shoot," the boy thought. Using a move he has had little use of in recent weeks, he jetted straight upward, barely avoiding incineration. "This isn't good," he thought. "These guys are WAY too coordinated."
As if to punctuate his assessment, more ninjas sprouted from the forest a dozen at a time, none of which seemed curious in the least about how the boy was flying through the air like he was.
In the open air, he had more room to maneuver; something he quickly took advantage of. As soon as someone came within arm's reach, he teleported to a space that was relatively ninja-free--at least for the moment. Soon after, more enemies would be upon him, forcing him to repeat the action again and again.
After each narrow escape, he observed some recurring patterns in the opposing army. Most notably was the fact that the ninjas always came at him in groups of three or more. Then there was that whisker-faced kid. Out of everyone, he seemed to be the only one with a sense of individuality. This was proven by how he would push his way past his fellow ninja to get to his target.
Naruto was irritated that his first strike--the one that began the grand melee--was shrugged aside so easily. His future attacks would all end in a similar fashion, frustrating him to no end. His current state of battle frenzy did not help matters in the least. After being knocked back for the fifth time, he had had enough; it was time to step things up.
"Here he comes again," the boy thought as he watch Naruto come his way once again. This time was different however, as his adversary stopped midway through his charge. "What is he--"
"Shadow Clone Justu!"
The boy's eyes grew wide. "Shadow what?" All of a sudden, in a puff of smoke, he was surrounded by over two dozen Narutos. In an act of desperation, he jetted upward and performed a move that was still highly experimental as it would soon prove.
There was another flash of light, though this one was much smaller and only lasted a moment. In that moment, one boy had turned into eight and flew off in eight different directions, each taking a portion of the ninja legion with him, including three or four Narutos.
At first, this tactic served its purpose: to divide the enemy into manageable pieces and get away with his life intact. However, it was about this time that the boy with the strange abilities reached his limits.
One of the clones suddenly stopped mid-flight, clutching his head. "No… not now…" Any further thoughts were cut short by a shuriken imbedding itself into his back. Once his ties to life had been severed, he turned into seven bolts of light, all aimed and the other remaining duplicates.
One by one, they all met their demise until only the original remained. Even then, the boy was too spent to put up a good fight. Naturally, Naruto was the first one to reach him, at which time he sent the boy to the forest floor via a hammer blow.
Despite being winded by the impact--both of them--he tried to get up, but was quickly met with a foot to the gut, sending him flying into a nearby tree. "Looks like this is the end," he thought as he watched Naruto walk towards him, cracking his knuckles, not to mention the hoard of ninjas converging on him. "I guess it was bound to happen eventually." While he was ready for death, the rest of the world seemed to have other plans.
"NARUTO!" That one word stopped everyone in their tracks. Whispers rang out as the crowd slowly parted to reveal a man who was definitely on in his years. "This foolishness must stop!"
"But, Hokage sir…" Naturo blurted out, suffering from a conflict of interests.
"No buts!" The old man said. "You all have attacked him mercilessly and without provocation. This battle ends now!"
"Ho… kage…?" That was the last thought the boy had before he was consumed by darkness. The final images in his mind were the ninjas beginning to disperse and the elderly one gazing in his direction.
End of chapter 2
Why did the Hokage save him instead of attack? What manner of abilities do this boy possess? Why is he such a ninja magnet? You'll find out next time. Please R/R!