A/N: It had to happen. I just couldn't write something "short". Apparently my definition of short is different that most other people's definition (take my beta, Sir Chris, laughing at me when I said I'd have short chapters of around 5k words). This is the first of two Prologue chapters. It also happens to be a Naruto/Tayuya story, albeit not all the way through.
For that reason alone I'll need votes as to who Naruto should be seeing when we finish the prologue. While I have no problem with crack pairings, obviously, I'll have to nix Tsunade and Sakura (not that the latter is a crack pairing) as options due to the storyline. Anyone else (that is female) is fair game for a vote.
The M rating is for language and some more adult themes that will become apparent. The language will become apparent very quickly. If bad language offends you please do not read on.
Prologue Chapter 1: Rocky Beginnings
Small town near Iwa, Earth Country
Two Years Ago.
The loud crash followed by a colorful explicative was enough to jolt Naruto awake from his light slumber. With lightning fast reflexes he threw the covers off his bed and jumped up wide awake. Seeing that he was still alone in his room and the sounds were most likely not an assassin sneaking in to take his life in the middle of the night. After quick glance to his side returned an empty bed that hadn't been slept in, Naruto possibly wondered if it was his sensei, the legendary sannin Jiraiya, stumbling home late at night at drunk again.
There were some hushed words coming from the other side of the door that led into the hallway followed by another curse. It could have been Jiraiya, Naruto reasoned, seeing as the first voice was definitely male and the one with the colorful mouth was female. More than once Jiraiya had gotten into large arguments or offended women in the middle of a in a plastered stupor.
However, Naruto's gut feeling told him this wasn't Jiraiya earning his title of ero-sennin again. The hair on the back of his neck was standing up, a trait that he was sure he had inherited partially from the Kyuubi sealed inside of him, and he had long since learned to trust his instincts since leaving Konoha far behind on his training journey.
Naruto was, after all, located deep in the Earth Country near the Hidden Village of the Rock, Iwa. While the war between Rock and Leaf was definitely over and had been for over a decade, neither side tolerated the other in their territory. It was basically a cold war situation between the two countries. Jiraiya had taken to disguising his appearance since as a legendary sannin he was quite well known, even outside of Konoha, and had forced Naruto to abandon his Leaf Shinobi forehead protector in favor of one marked with an eclipsing sun. This had bugged Naruto, but after he saw just how many Rock nins there were in the Earth Country and just how powerful even some of the genin looked, he let it slide.
Closing his eyes , Naruto directed his chakra to his ears and crept silently towards the door. While the old Naruto might have gone straight in charging, the newer one, or at least the one he had resigned himself to while in the Earth country, would avoid fighting if at all possible. Getting one's rear kicked tended to make people learn lessons quickly in the life of a Shinobi.
"He's not here," the male voice basically hissed. This was followed by a loud creak that hurt Naruto's chakra-enhanced hearing.
"Well that's just fucking great. Was he tipped off?" the female voice replied angrily. Naruto could tell she was on the verge of snapping.
Definitely not Jiraiya, Naruto thought to himself. There were several things he could do. There didn't seem to be any immediate danger to him, but of course the two nins outside could have easily searched the room across from him by mistake. Naruto imagined there might be quite a large prize on Jiraiya's head. If he stayed put the two nins might begin searching the inn and that wasn't great either. He didn't exactly want be involved in a Rock nin investigation.
"Just fucking blast it open then. He has to be around here somewhere," the female voice sounded again which broke Naruto out of his thoughts.
"Wouldn't that be a bit too lou-"
"Fuck. Get the hell out of the way. I'll fucking do it."
The clunks of feet walking around the inn's wooden floor echoed painfully due to Naruto's enhanced hearing.
"I don't think-"
"Shut the fuck up."
The exchange was followed by a loud crash and splintering of wood. Naruto immediately sprinted forward as a loud scream erupted shortly afterwards. It was obvious that these two were serious and someone was about to get hurt. Naruto couldn't sit back and let that happen. With a quick kick he knocked his own door off its hinges and sent it crashing into the two nins just outside in the hallway.
Following the door, he dug his feet into the ground and held his position in the door frame to quickly survey the situation knowing full well he had at least stunned his opponents. His eyes widen in surprise.
The doorway directly across from his room was charred and blown open and in the other room as a woman desperately clinging to a bed sheet and trying to cover up her chest. The black haired girl was fairly young, if Naruto had to guess, and had quite a sizable bust. He could feel the blush creeping up on to his face.
"Perverts! All of you!" the young woman cried as she tried rather unsuccessfully to cover her entire body by wrapping herself in the sheet although she succeeded in shrouding her chest and pelvic regions.
"Ano! Ano!" Naruto cried instantly, his eyes widening in surprise while he thrust his hands up defensively. Before he could fully explain himself the young woman let out another scream and fled into the depths of the room. It was the least of Naruto's worries, though.
The two assailants were struggling to their feet and shoving the wrecking of Naruto's door attack out of the way. While both were dressed in pitch black, Naruto recognized them immediately. They wore the forehead protector of Oto, Orochimaru's Hidden Village of the Sound.
"Why you bitch," snarled the masked woman with a fiery passion about it. "How fucking dare you?" She took a step forward intending to intimidate Naruto.
"I don't think this is the time for-" the second Sound nin reached out to grab his comrade's shoulder and restrain her.
"Don't fucking touch me. I've told you that enough." The female Sound nin smacked her ally's hand away swiftly.
The Sound nin's bickering was interrupted by another loud crash coming from the lower levels of the inn which signaled the arrival of the Rock nins and most likely their version of ANBU at that. This meant trouble, and both Naruto and the two masked Sound nins knew it.
With that single word both Sound nins turned on their heels and sprinted down the short hall despite the fact that it was a dead end.
Gulping and glancing from the sole staircase to the hall that the Sound nins were racing down Naruto wished Jiraiya were here. Stupid ero-sennin, where is he? There was really only one option available. He couldn't allow himself to be captured by the Rock. With one last fleeting glance into the bedroom where the woman had vanished to preserve her dignity, Naruto sped after the two Sound nins.
The male nin reached the large window at the end of the hall first and dove forward a few feet before reaching it. Rolling himself into a ball he connected with the glass causing it to shatter and send shards flying. A split second later the woman dove head first out the window and out of sight.
Only a few seconds later Naruto leapt out of the window in a similar fashion, completing a roll in mid air before landing on the hard group upright. With his knees stinging slightly from the abrupt landing the Shinobi from Konoha inspected his surroundings.
The small village where he and Jiraiya had taken up in for a few weeks was as sleepy as ever. Or so it used to be. In nearly every building down the village's one main street lights were turning on at random intervals. If Naruto had been gazing out his window earlier he would have noticed that one light, on a high floor in a brothel, had been on all night. Past the outskirts of the village Naruto could see the lit up city of Iwa, the capital of the Earth Country. It was barely a half day's travel from where he was currently.
It didn't matter, though, as there were still enough Rock nins in this town and the general vicinity to be a major problem. While some of the techniques he had learned from various people in the Earth country were quite amusing and useful it would all be for naught if he was captured or killed while here.
Naruto refused to be caught, however. He spied two shadows sprinting in the opposite direction from the main street and out into the rocky, barren, wastelands that littered the Earth Country. Hence the place was aptly named. Naruto had little choice but to follow the two Sound nins into the rocky outcropping as he heard someone up above where he had just leapt from. As he started to move there was a whistling in the wind followed by a sharp pain in the back of his upper arm as a Rock nin kunai grazed his arm before embedding itself in the dusty road. Naruto didn't let the warm trickle of blood stop him at all since he knew at this rate any hesitation would result in his immediate death. Propelling himself with all his speed, which he had been working on considerably since leaving with Jiraiya, Naruto sprinted after the two Sound nins.
It took him only a few seconds to reach the rocky outcropping where the pathway out of the village took a sharp down and descended down into a narrow valley with large and jagged rocks in a steep slope. There was really nowhere to go but straight ahead since if he attempted to climb up to the top, which would have been preferable as the first rule of combat is high ground, he would have either been shredded alive doing it recklessly or caught doing it safely. However, following blindly behind two enemy nins, even if they were fleeing the same enemies he was, wasn't the smartest thing to do.
Although he didn't risk a glance over his shoulder he knew that the pursuing nins weren't directly behind him, otherwise there would have been a flurry of kunai embedding themselves in his back, and he stopped for a second to think. The road continued down quite some ways, but now that he stopped and looked around he realized just how dangerous this situation was. The ground was covered in small, sharp rocks and the larger jagged outcroppings along the steep slope of the canyon walls were large enough to hide behind easily. It was the perfect place for an ambush.
Both groups of his enemies had an advantage over him. The Rock nins knew their own terrain well and were used to the barren lands of the Earth Country where as Naruto knew that, himself, was best in the woodlands that surrounded Konoha. The Sound nins were ahead of him and had the advantage of surprise. If they chose to lay in wait or set a trap they would have had the time to do it. The fact that it night, and thus pitch black, didn't help Naruto any, but any Shinobi worth anything could simply shift some of their chakra to his or her eyes to see fairly well in the dark, but it was an added strain. Ninjas naturally were masters of the night so anyone not mastering the ability to enhance their vision for the dark of night was most likely going to be busted from genin back down to an academy student faster than he or she could say 'ramen'.
Haruno Sakura, Naruto's remaining teammate, and his sensei, Hatake Kakashi, had drilled the need to outthink your opponents into Naruto's skull enough since his graduation from the academy. It was something that clicked just now after several failed attempts already on his journey with Jiraiya.
"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu," he whispered as quietly as he could while flipping through numerous hand seals. Two clones popped into existence beside his body holding identical poses as he held himself. The three Narutos quickly got into a huddle and began planning their strategy.
The first Naruto that advanced didn't get farther than a few feet before an explosion tag that was hidden behind a small rock went off in a shower of debris and flames. Immediately the second Naruto leapt up and forward hoping to catch his attacker by surprise.
The Sound nin, the male one judging by the size of the shadow, had leapt from the top of a pointed rock on the canyon wall with a small, thing katana in his hands. He obviously had expected Naruto to be diving backwards from the trap explosion.
However Naruto was instead propelling himself forward towards the explosion. The Sound nin barely reacted in time and managed to used his arms to guard against the first Naruto was aiming for his gut. With the initial hit blocked and as the two nins were falling to the ground, the Sound nin sliced downwards with his katana and cleaved out a large section of Naruto's back.
After landing on the ground without so much as a sound, the Sound nin went to wipe the blood from his sword. "Pathetic." As soon as he rubbed his sleeve over the sword he realized he was in trouble. There was no blood on the blade at all.
Suddenly Naruto leapt into the air as the Sound nin staggered back in surprise. While on the downward arc of his jump he aimed a kick directly at his enemy's head.
With a surprising reaction speed the Sound nin was able to roll himself to the side and bring his arms down in a sweeping motion to cleave off his attacker's head. It rolled about on the ground for a few moments before coming to a stop. It then vanished in puff of smoke.
It was too late for the Sound nin to react, other than his eyes widening in surprise, as Naruto emerged from the dust cloud of the explosion tag with his clothes crispy and shredded from the explosion.
Naruto pivoted on his arm while in a half twist as he propelled himself upwards and sent a powerful snap kick to the Sound nin's jaw that connected solidly and knocked him into the air. Using the momentum from his movement he followed the Sound nin's body upwards while in a slow spiral due to his spin.
Naruto Rendan 2.0, Naruto thought grimly as he ended the spin and whipped his leg around with a tremendous force until it connected with the Sound nin's head to send the helpless man flying off into the jagged slope in which he hiding earlier.
He didn't have long to celebrate after he touched gracefully back down to the ground in a crouch as a sharp shooting pain shot through his back. The Leaf nin reached back quickly and pulled the Sound nin kunai from between his ribs and threw it behind him. Getting to his feet and trying to ignore the pain he rounded on his attacker and saw the female Sound nin drawing another kunai/
"Fucking bastard!" she screamed before launching the kunai towards her opponent.
Sidestepping instantly, Naruto reached out and snagged the kunai by the handle as it sailed past where he had just been standing. He brought his arm back over his shoulder and pitched the kunai back at its original owner all in the same motion before charging down the woman.
The woman ducked the kunai with ease, but leaned back as Naruto came in with a slashing motion holding his own kunai.
All Naruto saw was a smirk on her face as she burst into a puff of smoke. Naruto's momentum however was unforgiving. His motion continued as he dropped to one knee and lodged his kunai deep into the ground due to his double handed swing.
He abandoned his own kunai in the ground and turned just in time to see the female Sound nin baring down on him with a kunai aimed at his neck. With only a split second for thought he brought one of his hands up defensively. It was a weak defense and he knew he was doomed for underestimating his opponent. She had performed a Henge and turned herself into the original kunai that her clone had thrown.
Searing pain threatened to overwhelm Naruto as he caught the blade of the dagger as it as rammed downwards towards his throat. The blade sliced deeply into his hand but stopped just short puncturing his esophagus. While the pain was excruciating as the severed nerves burned harshly and the blood dripped down his wrist and damped his shirt Naruto knew there was a far greater and more serious problem.
While Naruto was larger than the woman and physically stronger the Sound nin had a large advantage in leverage. If Naruto didn't do anything soon his neck would be skewered like some shish kabob. He reached back with his left hand and grasped the handle of the kunai had had deeply embedded in the hard earth. When a weak tug didn't dislodged the dagger he began to panic. He was slowly losing ground in the struggle over the kunai as it was inching closer as time passed.
His eyes darted up at his attacker and saw that her own eyes held a cold, yet seemingly passionate, fire. A true Shinobi.
Once he fully realized he was nearly out of time he swung his left arm up wildly in an attempt to distract his opponent, but she easily parried it with her free arm by catching his blow with her forearm and directing it harmlessly away from her. He pulled his arm back again and while sending some chakra to it gripped the handle of his stuck kunai again. With all the strength he could manage he ripped the kunai from the rocky terrain just as the felt the tip of the Sound nin's kunai press up against his throat.
Naruto swung his arm up again in a similar motion as moments before and the Sound nin raised her arm to block again, but failed to see that he was clutching a weapon this time. The kunai plunged through the back of the Sound nin's hand and only stopped at the hilt although that was well after the tip came out the other side.
Immediately the pressure on kunai Naruto was holding by the blade slackened and he thrust it to the side. The Sound nin's grip on her kunai faltered and the object fell from her grasp.
"You fucking little shit!" she hissed in anger before Naruto snapped a kick that caught her in the ribs and sent her sprawling onto the ground.
Naruto took a moment to examine his blood covered hand and noticed that the cuts were quite deep. He also needed to hope that the kunai the Sound nins were carrying weren't poisoned, but with the way he was bleeding anyways it most likely wouldn't matter. He glanced at the Sound nin who had pulled herself into a sitting position and was examining her own hand at the same time. It was odd how the battle had stopped dead.
"They're over there!"
"Quiet, Kaito-kun. How many times do I have to tell you that?"
"Ow! You don't have to hit me, Eirou-sama."
"I will until you learn to be quiet like a true Shinobi. You are a genin. Act more like it. Your sister seems to be having no problems and she is younger than you, Kaito." The man paused. "Look, because of your comment they've been alerted. Stay back."
"Just because you are your older brother does not mean you do not have to listen to me. I am your jounin instructor. You shall refer to me as Eirou-sensei. Now, go and stay with Mayumi-chan until I tell you it is safe. We don't know how strong these two are and even though they look weak it could be a trick."
"But Eirou-sensei…" whined the younger boy, who Naruto figured to be about a few years younger than he was himself given the boy's size. The Rock genin appeared to have spiky hair, although it was hard to see from the distance in the current light, and was standing beside a slightly smaller figure, a girl with long hair by the look of it, that Naruto assumed to be the Rock genin's sister, Mayumi-chan.
"I know you are eager to test your abilities, but you must learn patience. Stay with Mayumi-chan."
The voice that belonged to the eldest of the three Rock nins was very hard place location wise. He, unlike his two siblings, was very skilled with masking his location. It wasn't until a large spire burst from ground between Naruto and the Sound nin causing the two to jump back in surprise.
"What the fuck-"
The spire exploded outward and showered the two nins, who were standing side by side, sharp fragments. The force of the explosion pitched the two of them onto their backs and sent them skidding towards the edge of the canyon.
Naruto instantly flipped back up to his feet and was rewarded to see the Rock jounin, who was built similarly to Asuma with red hair, following in the path of the explosion. With a round house kick the Rock nin connected his foot to Naruto's knee and dropped him to the ground. Naruto cringed as he expected a killing blow to come, but the Rock nin was forced to dodge backwards as a hailstorm of kunai came flying at him.
"I do not wish to kill you," the Rock nin, Eirou, said calmly after finishing the back flip he did to dodge the Sound nin's kunai attack. "I merely wish to bring you before our council for questioning about tonight's events."
Before Naruto could reply the female Sound nin stepped forward with her hand outstretched and middle finger raised. "Fuck you, bastard."
The Rock nin didn't seemed phased one bit by the Sound nin's foul mouth.
"How dare you talk to Eirou-sensei like that like!" roared the Rock genin, Kaito. He had wandered up to his older brother's side after the attack.
The Rock nin looked back quickly. "Kaito! Get back with Mayumi-chan!"
Taking advantage of the interruption, the Sound nin impaled an explosion tag to another kunai and hurled it in the Rock nin's direction. Without even waiting to see the result, she got to her feet and sped towards the canyon wall. When the explosion went off with the Rock jounin defending his younger brother Naruto wasted no time in dashing after the Sound nin.
With precise hops up the jagged cliff face, they were about halfway up when they heard the Rock jounin utter a Jutsu. "Doton: Tatakikowasu!"
Fuck, Naruto thought, not even realizing that the Sound nin was having a poor influence on his diction. Sakura wouldn't be pleased. There was a terrifying rumbling coming from below them. The earth sounded like it was splitting and even Tsunade wouldn't be one to bet against that actually being what was happening.
Naruto quickly flung himself over the top of the canyon just as the large split seemed to cleave the entire wall in two where they were climbing. The canyon wall seemed to shatter and disintegrate under the technique and plummet downwards. The Sound nin didn't seem to be fairing so well. She had fallen behind climbing up the cliff not being as physically strong as that Leaf nin.
Unconsciously Naruto swung out an arm and caught the Sound nin's hand just as the rocks underneath her gave away. It was a precarious situation, to be sure. Both Naruto and the Sound nin had reacted with their dominate hands. That was to say their right hands. Both of which had been injured badly and the slick combination of blood oozing about their palms made it hard to keep their grip on one another.
"Wow! Eirou-sensei! That was amazing!"
"Kaito-kun, please settle down. They aren't dead yet."
After grabbing a hold of the woman's wrist with his left hand, Naruto hauled her up over the side of the cliff. "We have to go, fast."
"No fucking shit," the Sound nin replied while panting slightly. She didn't seem annoyed, however.
"They'll be along any second…"
"Then shut the fuck up and follow me if you want to live," the Sound nin snapped and turned towards some rocky spires in the distance.
Despite knowing it was a bad idea, Naruto followed her anyways. If he didn't, he'd end up either fighting her until the Rock nins caught up and then he'd surely lose. That jounin was quite powerful and Naruto didn't figure his chances were very good against him even if he had mastered the Rasengan.
It had taken a few hours, but the Sound nin had lead Naruto to a cave in the side of a rock spire and put up a barrier rather expertly to shield them from view, but still allowed them to see out. The Rock nins had passed by a few times, but had never given the rock spire a second thought. Naruto assumed after a few hours they had given up searching and gone back to the village.
"I think we're safe now," he commented rather idly. He was stiff and sore from the previous battles with the Sound nins and had only bandaged his wounded hand just recently.
The Sound nin, who had been sitting silently near the entrance the entire time moved slowly back to him. "I guess you're a lucky shit, you know that?"
Naruto looked into her eyes trying to get a hint of her face or hair and offered her a smile. "Well if it wasn't for you-"
"Can it, dumbass," the Sound nin snapped. Her brown eyes glared dangerously before she reached over and placed a hand on his chest.
The last thing Naruto remembered of that evening was a warm pulse on his rib cage and the Sound nin's brown eyes before he fell into darkness.
To be continued…
A/N: Next chapter will mark the closing of the Prologue chapters.