Prologue: Orders

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto and so do you (unless you're Kishimoto-sama)

The raven-haired ANBU sat at the Sandaime's office, sharpening the edge of his katana with a pocket-sized whetstone. At thirteen he had already made a name for himself in the ranks of the elite assassination corps, claiming hundreds of lives with a ruthlessness not known since the legendary White Fang of Konoha. Still his skills were not at their fullest. He knew this and grimaced at the thought. There was power out in the world, and he desired to tap into it and prove once and for all his inner greatness.

Tilting the katana in the fluorescent light, he examined the edge and nodded. Taking of his glove, he ran a finger lightly along the blade, drawing a line of blood across his index finger. Razor sharp. His sensei once told him that a quick death was the only mercy people in his line of work could afford his enemy. A death can be made quickest with a sharp blade. After all his years in the front line he still knew this to be true.

The ANBU glanced at the Hokage's door. If anything, shinobi work had taught him patience. The one who could keep his cool in the middle of a battlefield often ended up the last one standing. It took fifteen more minutes before the office door opened and a clerk came out with a clipboard.

"Uchiha Itachi? The Hokage will see you now."

The ANBU captain nodded and walked inside. The Sandaime was in his desk, rifling a bunch of folders together. Mission orders probably. Itachi had no idea what it was like to be restricted to a desk job but he considered such an experience worse than death. The Hokage looked up and motioned for him to sit down.

Itachi did as he was bidden and took off his mask, laying his katana on the floor directly in front of him. "Itachi, I've called you here for some very specific mission orders that I feel only a shinobi of your caliber will be able to accomplish," the Sandaime was saying. "I know you have a lot of things to do so I will be brief."

There was no motion for him to respond so Itachi kept silent. The Sandaime continued.

"You are familiar with Project Nine, I suppose?" The Uchiha heir frowned. Project Nine was the call sign for one of the most closely guarded secrets to Konoha. Not six years ago the village was attacked by the Kyuubi no Kitsune, the demon lord considered the most powerful of them all.

The previous Hokage had lost hundreds of ninja in the defense of the village, and was later forced to use a jutsu that would cost him his life. So, in the interest of Konoha's welfare, he sealed the demon into the body of a newborn baby, turning the child into a jinchuuriki. Project Nine.

It did not need to be said that the project was clearly Eyes Only information, classified to the highest degrees.

Itachi mumbled a reply. "Yes, Hokage-sama," he stated. "I am familiar with the barest details of the project." The Sandaime nodded. "Good, then this will make it easier for you then."

"Years ago when the council decided that the best measure to ultimately bring about the Kyuubi's demise was to kill the child bearing it in his body, I proposed a solution. The solution was that the child be reared up as a weapon, a weapon utilizing the infinite chakra capacities of the demon and thus providing Konoha with the military superiority that would later compensate for our current dip in the shinobi ranks."

"Forgive me for being forward but—"

"Speak your concerns, Uchiha-san."

"What will this have to do with me?"

Sarutobi took a deep breath. "I have hand picked you to serve as his sensei and guardian as of eleven hundred hours tomorrow morning." Surprise marred Itachi's face.

"Surely the academy will train this child—"

"The academy wants nothing to do with him, Itachi," the Hokage stated simply. The light of understanding dawned on a pair of onyx eyes. "Are they seriously considering that the Kyuubi and this…this child are one and the same?" he spat. "He is the Yondaime's legacy for kami-sama's sake!" The Hokage nodded.

"True, but then again when has tragedy brought out the best in human nature?"

Taking a scroll from beneath a small pile, the Hokage handed Itachi his mission orders. The ANBU scanned it quickly and grimaced. The orders were to act as the boy's guardian and train him in a manner fit for ANBU in a period of not less than four years. The wheels in his mind spun.

Itachi had not been a prodigy for nothing. Already he sees the massive implications of such an order and why the Hokage would choose him and him alone for this mission.

One, he was the top ANBU of the village since the retirement of his old teicho, Hatake Kakashi. Two, the possibility of the council's interference in this mission is reduced to nil on account of the Uchiha political connections with Fire Country's Damyo. And finally, three, the presence of an ANBU captain would certainly dissuade any irrational people from doing something excessively violent to the boy in his guardianship.

He cursed inwardly. I do not need this right now, Itachi thought, pinching the bridge of his nose with his fingers.

"Those are your orders. Dismissed."

Itachi snapped to attention and turned away, pivoting smartly on his heel. Once out of the Hokage's office, he decided to meet the boy he was supposed to train for four years. The scroll included directions to an orphanage founded for the child victims of the Kyuubi assault.

It took a few minutes to get there, as the orphanage was all the way on the other side of Konoha. As he approached the gate he waved to an unseen person in the trees lining the compound. The ANBU perched on the branch had waved back when he caught himself and cursed. Itachi had to smirk at the sight.

He was feeling a lot better about today already.

Handing a letter from the Sandaime to one of the people in reception, he waited for the child to get brought to him. One of the orphanage staff noted his ANBU uniform and approached him carefully.

"Has Hokage-sama sent you for the boy?"

Itachi's eyebrow went up. The man winced but continued anyway. "It's about time really," the man commented. "We knew the Hokage would need some time before he finally decided to have the brat…disposed of." The Uchiha was taken aback, though his face didn't show it. Did these people really think he was here to kill the brat?

The ANBU decided to ignore him for the moment, as a scruffy looking child was brought to him. Itachi grimaced. Didn't this kid ever bathe! Kami-sama, he smelled like he got himself rolled in the garbage a couple of times!

Funny enough, he did look like he was rolled in the garbage a couple of times.

The boy was small for his age (he couldn't have been older than Itachi's otouto), with unkempt blonde hair and what looked like tearstained blue eyes. A bright and oversized orange shirt was covering his body, along with torn and disheveled shorts. The boy got pushed towards him and fell to the ground as he lost his balance, but in the process gained Itachi's respect.

The boy never once cried out.

It was as if the boy's emotions got desensitized from living in this environment, his disheveled appearance owing to his possible mistreatment at the orphanage. Yet even with all of these his eyes shone with a quiet determination and an even more subtle strength that may yet prove to be worth Itachi's while.

"You look like hell kid."

Bright blue eyes looked up in wonder. Somebody was actually talking to him? And without all those words that got him trouble when he tried repeating them? The boy looked up at the person addressing him. He was tall and dressed in shinobi garb, but none like the boy ever saw before. The man had onyx eyes and raven black hair, and though he had a boyishly attractive face, seemed devoid of any emotion whatsoever.

The man extended his hand and the boy again looked at him in amazement. The man wasn't trying to hit him? Why was such a thing even possible? He wiped his hand on the corner of his already dirty shirt and took it. The blonde was jolted again as the man asked for his name.

"N-Naruto. Uzumaki Naruto."

"Hn."

Okay so maybe he wasn't that much of a talker. Naruto could deal with that. "You'll be a hero for what you're about to do!" the orphanage staff called out. Itachi ignored him and walked out the door, the blonde in tow. The boy's eyes continued roaming over his companion's body, so much so that Itachi noticed and stopped completely and demanded why he was doing so.

"Who are you?" Itachi sighed. And he was so enjoying it when the brat kept his pie hole shut. The both of them stopped as the ANBU knelt down to address the kid. "Listen and listen well," Itachi said. "My name is Uchiha Itachi. The Hokage sent me here to turn you from this," he said, gesturing at Naruto's current disheveled form, "to this," he said, drawing the katana from his scabbard. The blonde stared.

"You're going to turn me into a sword?"

Itachi's eyes dissolved into his three-tomoe Sharingan, his face and body dropping into a position calculated to use a hundred different fear stimuli inside the mind of an opponent. "I will teach you more ways to kill than you ever thought possible," he breathed. Naruto dropped to the ground on his butt, his eyes starting to tear up as his body was shaking in fear.

"No longer will the blue in your eyes show fear. Instead they will show the presence of cold blue metal, the eyes of a living sword." The boy started to tear up, his whimpering causing Itachi to grab him by the collar and press the edge of the blade to his neck. The pressure was enough to draw a tiny trickle of blood. "You will learn that there is no place in your life for weakness and tears. For you will learn that there is one thing and one thing alone keeping me from killing you outright."

"I will turn you into the sword of Konoha."