"Hyuuga Naruto, I presume?"
Naruto turned away from the weathered training post he was currently practicing on to stare at the strangely dressed man leaning on a tree at the edge of the clearing. The man had a forehead protector completely different from any he had ever seen before. The battle armor underneath a red overcoat was rather intimidating. His long and unruly hair was tied into a loose ponytail that stretched down to his lower back. Naruto, yet again, thanked his studies in the Hyuuga Compound.
"The Toad Sannin, Jiraiya, I presume?"
"Oh, you've heard of me? Perhaps from my works?" The man pulled out a signed copy of Icha Icha Paradise XXVII, Return of Longtool.
"What… you wrote that?"
"Yes, yes I do."
Streams of chakra wrapped itself around Jiraiya's legs and drug him under the ground up to his neck.
"Oi! Gaki! Lemme out of here!" The man struggled against the earth that entrapped him.
"No. You're the one that made Hiashi such a closet pervert. And Neji-nii-san too!"
"…So, the Hyuuga Clan head reads my books?"
After half an hour of torture with a Suiton Jutsu and plenty of begging from Jiraiya, the Sannin was finally released.
"Why did you come here, Jiraiya-sama?"
"I have a mission for you." Naruto looked up, openly displaying his excitement.
"As you know, the war with sound is in a stalemate right now. The problem is we think that they're going to be starting a massive offensive. Things are gonna escalate, and we can't afford to take many more losses. So, it's our job to find Tsunade, the Slug Sannin. She's the best medic Nin in the entire world, and we need her to start training some more medics Nin for the war."
"And why am I going on such an important mission."
"Because, I was in the area when I got the messenger bird, and Sandaime himself recommended you. There was no time to send some ANBU to help, and reports are that Orochimaru may try something against her. No doubt he'll have a horde of Sound Nin with him. That's why we'll need your help. Sandaime told me about your… exploits. With your bloodline and your Kage Bunshin, you could probably keep the Sound Nin off our backs while we incapacitate or kill Orochimaru and get Tsunade out of there. Fewer losses on our side, too. Also, she was reportedly in the area, and you are the best choice of available Nin in the area."
"…I'm assuming this is an A-rank mission."
"Actually, it's more like an S-rank mission, due to possible encounters with Orochimaru."
"…I see. However, Kage Bunshin are no match for Jounin and most Chuunin. No matter how many I make, I won't be able to stall them for more than a minute or two."
"Ah, I already thought of that. So, I'll be teaching you while we travel. Your Kage Bunshin will have to learn how to reinforce themselves, and how to self replicate. It's not really that hard, especially since your bloodline allows you to draw chakra from your surroundings."
"An interesting idea. I'm ashamed that I haven't though of it before. But what I want to know is why you're teaching a possibly A or S-ranked to a Genin?"
"… I'll be honest with you kid, but know that this is an S-ranked secret. You can't tell anyone. Got it?"
"Ok… Konoha is royally screwed. The Sound convinced Cloud and Stone to ally themselves with their village. Stone is still angry from the last war with them, and Cloud wants to get back at us for the Kidnapping Incident. Thankfully, Sand recently withdrew from the alliance. Apparently, their Kazekage is has other things to do that, thankfully, have nothing to do with Konoha."
"…I see. Go on."
"Now, we'll be massively outnumbered. That's where you come in. If, say, about 40 or 50 special Jounin are assigned in a group with you, then your Kage Bunshin can make up most of an army as ordinary soldiers. Of course, the specialists are there for specific missions. Such as Tai, Nin, and Genjutsu specialists, Stealth and Sabotage specialists, and a fair amount of ANBU to take out the more powerful opponents and to protect the real you. Your Kage Bunshin can draw chakra from their surroundings so they can use jutsu and reinforce themselves. And, they can self replicate. Should one or more of their comrades get dispelled, then they can create another to replace him. And should a scout come upon an enemy, he can replicate and then dispel himself to relay a message to you. In short, you can be a one man army. The problem is that in one-on-one fights, you might not win. That's why ANBU will be guarding you."
"Hmm. That's a good concept, in theory, but only so much chakra can be taken from Nature before things become unbalanced. I'll be limited on that… unless I can get clones in close to hold down an opponent, where they can drain him. But they need to be in physical contact with the enemy… But in large scale battles, my clones would be effective. And if I get knocked unconscious or fall asleep, my clones will dissipate. That'll be a problem. Wait, you said that when a clone dissipates, I gain their memories?"
"Yeah, you do."
"Does that also mean that any type of combat they're in, it'll be like I was there myself?"
"Yup. Works the same way with training, too."
"Hah. Then by the end of the war, I'll have so much battle experience that I'll be able to beat you."
"Hmm… that's true. The more losses you take, the better you get. And in turn, the better your clones will get. And eventually, we'll have an army of Jounin level self replicating Kage Bunshin. In a war, you'll be unstoppable. But the problem is still your one-on-one fights. You'll be too used to be working as a part of a team, due to your Kage Bunshin's teamwork. You'll have to work on that a whole lot… Ah, crap. We've wasted too much time already. You have an hour to get packed and say goodbye. Meet me back here."
Jiraiya nodded and disappeared in a puff of smoke. Naruto turned and walked down the foggy streets. Half formed thoughts ran through his head, chaotically swirling, but never fully forming. In a daze, he made his way back to the hotel where Hinata was resting. Slowly climbing the side of the building with chakra, and hopping through the open window, he tried to clear his mind. He failed. His mind raced and froze at the same time, and he felt like slamming his head against the wall to get the thoughts out of his head.
But, each and every thought was swept away, as a beautiful, bell like voice sounded in the room.
"Naruto-kun? You're back early."
Naruto approached the bed and enveloped his betrothed in a loving hug. She squealed slightly before relaxing into his arms.
"Naruto-kun, what's wrong?"
"…I have a mission."
"What? But you've got to train for the third exam!"
"It's an order directly from Sandaime."
"But… I don't want you to leave."
"I know. But I have to. It's an A-rank, possibly S-rank."
"It's important to the safety of Konoha. If we fail, we may not win the war. I have to go. I… I don't wan to leave you, but have to. I'll be back before the third exam, ok?"
"…Ok. But what'll I tell Ibiki-sensei and Chouji-kun?"
"Tell them exactly what I told you."
"…ok. But… don't think you'll be leaving empty handedly."
Hinata grinned coyly and pulled him into a deep kiss. Naruto relaxed onto the bed, lying next to her. Their tongues met and danced, pushing for dominance. Neither found it, but neither cared. Their hands wandered over their partner's bodies, caressing each and every curve and crevice. Time passed as they lay kissing and fondling each other, completely entranced by the subtle dance of their hands across their partner's body. Slowly, they pulled each other into a loving hug. After a few moments of cuddling, Naruto stood. He walked around and packed his bag with everything he'd need for this trip. It didn't take long. He walked back over to Hinata's side.
"I'll be thinking of you, love." He said.
"I'm glad to know you'll be getting off on my mental image."
Naruto blushed and Hinata giggled. 'It's so much fun teasing him…'
Naruto kissed her one last time and jumped onto the window seal.
"I love you, Hina-chan."
He smiled and jumped, running even as he landed.
"I love you too… Naru-kun."
Jiraiya was rather impressed by the young boy's stealth. The only indication that he'd dropped out of the trees and landed behind the Legendary Sannin was the air disturbed by his passing.
Despite having run for an hour straight, jumping from tree branch to tree branch, neither ninja was breathing very hard. Soon, the trees began thinning out, just as the sun started turning the everlasting mist into an orange cloud. Jiraiya jumped down into a clearing and stopped. Naruto landed next to him.
"Is something the matter?"
"No… but this is a good place to set up camp. Also… there are natural hot springs near by…"
"How do you know?"
"You can smell the sulfur… and my 'pervert senses' are tingling…"
The convicted pervert lecherously grinned, making Naruto sweat drop.
"… In any case, don't you think you'd better teach me how to reinforce a Kage Bunshin now?"
"Yeah, yeah. Make one now."
With a poof of smoke and exact replica of the adopted Hyuuga appeared.
"Good. Do you see how the chakra is formed to make it?"
"Describe it to me."
"The chakra condenses and compresses air, water molecules, and dust floating in the air into a human shape. It's mostly air… Then the chakra heats up the gathered stuff and solidifies it, vaporizing most of the water molecules, creating the poof and cloud of smoke. Then the leftover chakra is split between the clones, and is run through its chakra circulatory system, allowing it to do jutsu. However, the construct is very weak, and a solid blow will disrupt the chakra holding it together, causing the air to rush out, and creating the small poof and another cloud of smoke. The Byakugan can't tell the difference between the Kage Bunshin and a human due to the chakra circulatory system in each one. The Sharingan can because the 'body' usually has several small defects that even the Byakugan's sharp sight cannot detect."
"Good. You've done your homework. Now, to reinforce your Kage Bunshin, you gotta have the chakra that holds together its framework constantly being replenished, as well as concentrate extra chakra into the skin, allowing it to resist damage. Too much damage in a short amount of time will destroy it, as will a dismembering or a killing blow. However, because the chakra is constantly replenishing itself, it'll be able to correct damage to the form, given enough time and chakra. But for now, just concentrate on getting the chakra to concentrate on your Kage Bunshin's skin."
Naruto nodded and turned to his clone, while Jiraiya ran off, heading to the 'mysterious' clouds of steam a little ways away, visible over the tree tops.
After several failed attempts, Naruto managed to get the clone to resist a punch to the chest. But it still wasn't perfect. Even if he hit only a little bit harder, the clone would dissipate, and a hit to the head will still dispel it. With a sigh he said "Try it again."
His newest clone nodded and concentrated the chakra again, forming a protective layer just underneath the skin. After a while, Naruto nodded. He pulled his fist back and belted the poor clone over the head. The clone… fell.
"OW! You didn't have to hit so hard!"
"YES! It worked!"
"Yeah, yeah, I know, good job…" the clone said, rubbing the lump that sprouted out of his head.
Naruto sat down next to his clone and waited. The lump eventually receded. Naruto could see the weak spot in the clone's structure, and it probably wouldn't withstand another hit to the same area.
"I want to try something…"
The clone nodded and the both stood. Naruto hit it hard in the chest. The clone stumbled back, but regained its balance.
"Ow. You could have warned me, you know."
"But it's much more fun this way…"
The clone shuddered and whispered "Sadist…"
Naruto rushed in and kicked at the clone, who managed to bring up an arm to block the blow. However, the already stressed structure of the Kage Bunshin couldn't handle another jolt, and it was destroyed.
"Damn… looks like three hits is my limit."
He sighed. Getting a sudden idea, he created yet another Kage Bunshin.
"What, gonna kick the crap out of another clone?" The clone's almost bitter voice made Naruto pause for a moment.
"…No. I wanted to see if you could make reinforced Kage Bunshin, and then drain Nature chakra to keep you alive."
The clone raised an eyebrow but went through the hand seals anyway. With a poof, 5 more clones were created. Naruto went over and hit each one, making sure they could withstand the blow. They all held firm. He looked over at the clone that created the clones. Its face was screwed up in concentration as it drew chakra to re charge the small space it had for its chakra pool. It wasn't much more than a Chuunin level chakra, but it would do.
"Well, I think we did well today. How about a nice spar to finish it off?"
The clones grinned evilly.
Later that night, as Naruto sat by the fire, bandaging a few cuts and scrapes, fighting clones that could throw jutsu at you was a lot harder than the Taijutsu only matches he used to have…
Hey there. Halo here. Yeah, I haven't updated in a while. I've been busy studying for the ACT test, which was last Saturday, but it turns out that my name didn't get put on the list somehow. I paid the fee, filled out the paperwork, and spend a ton of time studying when I should have been writing, only to get told that I'm not on the list! It's an outrage!
Hrm. Anyway, here you go. Sorry it's so short, but i've been doing some planning lately. I'm gonna be wrapping this story up in about 5 chapters or so, up until the start of the war. Then I'll end it and write a sequel when I have time… and that might not be for a while. But don't worry, I WILL be writing the sequel… eventually….