Disclaimer: This fanfiction uses existing ideas, characters and or worlds, but is an independent work of art. I own nothing, hence the reason for publishing my writings here instead of in real books where I could make some money.
In a dark, gloomy forest, three children were huddled in a hollow under the roots of a gigantic tree.
The two boys were unconscious, and the girl was close to nodding off.
The girl possessed a full head of pink hair, a slightly oversized forehead, a red dress to mid-thighs with slits on the sides, and shorts underneath for decency. Holding her hair partially back, was a dark strip of cloth over her head, a metal plate on the middle with an etching of a stylised leaf.
Shaking her head, to rid herself of weariness, the girl moistened and wrung out a washcloth, which she placed on the forehead of the dark haired boy.
The dark haired boy was breathing erratically and was obviously in pain.
The blonde boy with a forehead protector like the ones the other two had on was unconscious, but not in any pain, as far as one could see.
The girl was Haruno Sakura, the dark haired boy was Uchiha Sasuke, and the blonde boy was Uzumaki Naruto … or was he?
Opening his eyes, he saw darkness … 'Am I dreaming?'
A knot under his shoulder convinced him that this was not the case, as did a gleam of light that filtered through what he identified as roots and branches … 'I'm under a tree? How did I get here?
'The last thing I remember is eating another vile creation made by my uncute fiancée … Akane?
'No, that's not right … the last thing I remember is that pale, longhaired snake bastard punching me in the stomach with scattered fingers!
'Which one is it?'
Looking up, he saw Sakura-chan sit up rigidly at the sound, kunai in hand, turning around slowly.
"A squirrel?" he heard her ask dumbly. "Geez, don't scare me like that!"
The annoyed expression changed into one of desperation, and the kunai was thrown.
"Hehe," chuckled a cruel voice from out of his line of sight. "Up all night? But it's no longer necessary. Wake up Sasuke-kun, we want to fight him."
"Wha-" Sakura stammered as she reached for another kunai in her weapons-pouch. "What are you talking about? I know someone called Orochimaru is pulling the strings from the shadows! What is his purpose? What is this weird mark on Sasuke-kun's neck? You did this to him … and now you want to fight?"
"Hmm," started the same male voice. "I wonder what that man is thinking …"
"But hearing that, we can't let you go," stated another voice. "I'll kill this girl, and I'll also kill this Sasuke guy."
"Wait, Zaku," interrupted the first voice.
"You're not very good," commented the voice, clearly not addressing Zaku. Scraping in dirt followed. "A recently overturned stone, different coloured earth. Grass doesn't grow here …" Sakura gurgled. "A booby trap … is pointless unless it goes unnoticed."
"Pft, stupid," scoffed Zaku. "So that kunai was to prevent the squirrel from setting off the trap."
"Well," continued the first voice. "Since we have no use for this girl … kill her."
He couldn't see Sakura's expression, but her hand moved with the kunai, and a twang was heard as a taut wire was cut.
A shadow rapidly descended into view, revealing a giant log swinging like a pendulum.
He tried to smile in pride at Sakura's trap, but his face wasn't cooperating, and the fading soreness of his stomach prevented him from doing anything but wince.
An explosion made him look back outside, seeing the three Sound nin that had threatened them just before the First part of the Exam began, in the air from a jump … and a heavy rain of splinters.
"Frankly speaking," stated the one with a fur coat. He was eerily calm as he spoke … as though they had not just been nearly crushed. "You have no talent. People like you have to work harder. A weakling like you shouldn't mess with guys like us."
By now they had landed, so he couldn't see them with Sasuke in the way, but their footsteps were clearly heard, which went to show that they weren't trying to be sneaky. They were confident in their own victory.
An unidentified fighter intruded on the situation, and the attack must have succeeded, as the sound of skidding could be heard.
Just outside the hollow, he could see a head of bowl-cut, black hair that could only belong to one ninja within this area … Rock Lee … 'How do I know that boy? And did I just think of them all as ninja? Of course we are … I'm one myself, right? I graduated from the Ninja Academy only a couple of months ago, at the bottom of my class … I was only accepted as a ninja because I saved Iruka-sensei by beating the snot out of Mizuki-sensei who tried to kill us both, and I learned a technique called the Kage Bunshin no Jutsu, which splits me into solid clones … was it all a dream?'
"Then, you guys should also work harder," stated Lee mockingly.
He could see something brown and bushy on Fuzzy-brow's shoulder, but being unable to move, couldn't shift to find out what it was.
"Who are you?" asked the voice of the ninja with the furry coat and bandaged face.
"I am the Beautiful Green Beast of Konohagakure … Rock Lee!" Fuzzy-brows replied confidently.
"W-why are you here?" asked Sakura timidly.
"I will always appear when you are in trouble," Fuzzy-brows declared. He then bowed down with something and got back up without the brown and bushy thing on his shoulder. "Hehe, it's actually thanks to you, now go …" he said, but there was the feeling that the boy wasn't speaking to Sakura or the Sound nin.
A tense moment of silence followed.
He tried to move, but only managed to raise his head for a moment before it fell back down. 'Why would my stomach ache dully for so long after being hit? Normally, the pain would be over by now … did he hit me more times than one? After all, I used to do something like that to Ryoga, so why wouldn't the snake bastard know how to do it as well, when he's clearly a better fighter? Wait, who's Ryoga? And why do I see black piglets with tiger-striped bandanas around their necks every time I think of the name?'
There was movement just above his head, and he saw a squirrel looking down at him … was this the bushy companion of Fuzzy-brows? What was a squirrel doing in the Forest of Death, anyway?
He managed to slowly raise his hand to the creature, and it sniffed it curiously before grabbing his finger and experimentally bit it, causing no pain, but the taste was clearly not to its satisfaction, so no more attempts were made to repeat the nibble.
A rumbling and tearing sound from the outside broke him from his observation and attempts at moving properly. Looking outside, he saw Fuzzy-brows holding one of the giant roots of a tree.
'That thing is as thick as that giant snake that swallowed me before I caught up with Sasuke-teme and Sakura-chan when they fought against the snake-bastard!'
The root blocked the incoming Sound nin that had made Kabuto-kun vomit from a strike that never connected.
"There's some trick to your attacks, right?" asked Lee, holding the ripped-out root more or less over his head. "I'm not simply going to dodge it, since I've seen your attacks before …"
The root was tossed aside, and Lee started unravelling the bandages on his hands.
He saw Lee duck, then disappear, only to reappear under the charging Sound nin, leg extended in a kick that connected with the teen's chin and sent him flying into the air. Lee reappeared behind the ninja and the bandages from his arms wrapped themselves around his opponent as they reached the apex and started plummeting.
"Take this!" Lee bellowed as they started spinning. "Omote Renge!"
Dust kicked into the air, and made it temporarily impossible to see.
He sighed and tried to sit up, only to fall back down.
'Why am I having so much trouble moving? I didn't get any injuries bad enough to give me this kind of mobility problem.'
Lee's exclamation made him force his head off the ground to see … the Sound nin had survived the attack, and was buried to his chest in soft dirt … and he was upside down.
Dropping back onto the ground, he started a self-examination, which did not require the use of limbs or eyes.
'There are no broken limbs … no pulled muscles … no foreign objects in his body … no bruises or cuts … no physical reason why I shouldn't be able to move properly …
'Wait a moment, how do I know how to do something like that? As far as I know, only the Hyuuga are able to see such things without undressing their patients … Why am I wondering about that? I learned to do this after killing Saffron, Cologne taught me … Why am I suddenly under the impression that I have been taught something from an article of toiletry?'
Sakura-chan's exclamation brought him out of his confused musing.
He looked to see Fuzzy-brows collapsing to his knees.
"There's a little trick here," gloated the bandaged Sound nin and brandished his right arm, revealing a metal contraption with several holes running all along the forearm, like a form of bracer. "You can't just dodge my attacks."
Sakura made a sound of question as she looked between the prone form of her saviour and their attackers.
"It's sound," the ninja explained smugly. "Even if you dodge my fist, sound will attack you. Do you know what sound actually is?"
"Vibration …" Sakura muttered in realisation.
"Exactly," confirmed the Sound nin. "Hearing sound means that your eardrums are catching the shaking air … the human eardrum will break by sounds exceeding 150 MHz … and deeper in the ear lies the inner ear membrane. When this is damaged, you lose your balance. Heh, you won't be able to move your body as you wish for a while."
Examining himself again, he found that his inner ear was not injured as he had started to believe from what he heard … 'Kuso …'
"Lame old Taijutsu won't work against us," added Zaku from out of sight.
Lee grunted as he held his bleeding ear.
"Well, you were doing well …" Zaku commented. "You forced me to use my Jutsu … of course you failed. I can freely control supersonic sound waves and air pressure," something clicked in his mind … 'The Hiryu Shoten Ha! This sounds like the technique the old ghoul taught me!' "I have the power to destroy even a rock," flashing images of a boy wearing a striped bandana jabbing his finger into a rock and making it explode came to mind. "Blasting air into the earth and creating a cushion is nothing." 'I have to try harder … can't just lie about all day … my friends are in danger, and need me!' "Ours are different from your stupid techniques."
Focusing every ounce of concentration he had, he managed to shove himself back a few inches, leaning his shoulders on an elevated part of the hollow and allowing him to see the one with bandages hiding his face charge in for the kill.
Lee was not as cooperative as the Sound nin would have liked, and somehow, despite having a ruptured inner ear, managed to veer out of the way, and to the surprise of everyone, started an attack.
However, the attack never finished, as the injury caught up with him, causing the Sound nin to block the incoming leg, and charge in with his special attack, which Lee, in his sluggish and unfocused state, had no choice but to block with his forearms.
"THIS ARM MULTIPLIES THE SMALL SOUNDS PRODUCED TO THEIR ULTIMATE LEVEL," bellowed the Sound nin over the noise of his own attack. "YOU COULD SAY IT'S A SPEAKER!"
Distortions moved from the holes on the gauntlet of the Sound nin and headed for Lee's left ear.
"BUT THE SOUND DOESN'T FOLLOW THE DIRECTION OF THE ARM! I USE MY CHAKRA TO MAKE SURE IT ALWAYS ATTACKS MY PREY!"
'Chakra, where have I heard that before? Chakra is the combined energy produced by spirit and body, all ninja and some samurai use it to perform attacks and enhance their abilities … wait, isn't that what ki is for? Ki is the energy of the spirit … but that's only one half of the equation, to have chakra, one needed to mix body energy with it … I've done so for at least a few years now, starting at the Academy … but I've used ki to enhance my abilities and for my techniques for years also …'
Sudden movements in his line of vision snapped him from his inner argument with himself to see Sakura throw a handful of shuriken at the bandaged Sound nin.
Before the throwing stars could reach their intended target, Zaku appeared in the way, and released a strong gust of air at them, blasting the shuriken back, only narrowly missing the two boys in the hollow.
The girl Sound nin appeared behind Sakura, and got a strong grip on her hair.
"Much more lustre than me …" the elder girl commented mockingly. "Pft, trying to be a sexy ninja? If you have time to treat your hair, then you have time to train, you female swine! Zaku, kill that Sasuke guy in front of this boy-chaser's eyes … let's teach this one a lesson!"
He watched in tense silence as Sakura and Lee struggled …'If I could only move properly!'
Steam started rising from Sasuke-teme's neck … the bite mark given by Orochimaru reeked of bad energy, corruption … 'Why did I feel that? I wasn't able to distinguish the feel of energy before, was I?'
"Useless," the female Sound nin remarked, making him look to see Sakura having gotten a kunai in her hand. "That won't work against me."
"What are you talking about?" Sakura asked smugly, and swung her kunai in an upwards arch, creating a tearing sound, and causing the Sound nin girl to stumble backwards.
'She cut her hair … the thing Sakura-chan loves the most about herself … she cut it to get loose!
'I miss my pigtail … wait, I never had a pigtail! What's going on here?'
"Kin!" yelled Zaku. "Kill her!"
'Why am I remembering things I've never done? Why do I remember places I've never been? Why am I remembering strange things I've never seen? Strange tastes he I've never had in my mouth, training he I've never taken and why did do I suddenly feel like yelling out that I'm the best? Why do I want a cup of ramen noodles?'
"Let go of me!" he looked back outside to see Sakura imitating a bulldog with Zaku's arm, having taken a big bite out of it, and refusing to let go even as Zaku struck her repeatedly. "Damn it! Let go!"
Seeing the girl he had a crush on for a long time getting hurt stirred a fire in him … 'That's it!'
Mustering all his willpower, he managed to push himself a little further up the root wall behind him.
Sasuke-teme was moaning, and the evil energy grew in intensity.
He managed to push himself up a little more.
Sakura-chan finally let go of Zaku's arm and fell to the ground.
'Just a little more and I'll be standing!'
"You brat!" roared Zaku as he aimed his hands at her … all attention was on the two.
'Just a little more!'
Suddenly appearing between Zaku and Sakura-chan were Ino, Shikamaru and Choji, the last being dragged by his scarf and clearly not completely voluntarily participating in the actions his team mates had planned. They were facing the Sound nin.
'There! I'm up!'
"Pft," scoffed Zaku. "More weirdoes have appeared …"
'My body feels like lead …'
"Sakura," started Ino confidently. "I won't lose to you, I've already told you that! I won't let you be the only one to look good in front of Sasuke-kun."
"Looks like more Leaf insects have scurried into the open," commented the bandaged Sound nin.
'Now I have to get moving … damn you legs! MOVE!'
"What are you two thinking?" demanded Choji desperately. "These guys are too dangerous, we'll be eaten! Shikamaru, let go of my scarf!"
"Yeah, right, idiot!" returned Shikamaru, no more confident than Choji, but being there was not his choice either, it would seem. "This sucks, but we have no choice! If Ino is coming out, then we men can't run away!"
'Okay, one foot in front of the other … oops!' he caught the root as he was about to fall, and managed to keep himself up.
"I'm sorry to get you guys involved," Ino added. "But we are a team, and we share the same destiny."
"We'll get through this somehow," Shikamaru sighed.
'Okay, balance is a little off … must be that I'm shorter than I was before … I'm not short! I'm a growing boy! Oh, give it up, and start working on returning to normal and start helping Sakura-chan!'
"You can leave if you want," Zaku smirked. "Fatty."
Choji stiffened at the insult.
"What did he say?" asked the rotund preteen boy coolly. "I couldn't hear him."
'Okay, one step, balance is still holding …'
"If you want to," said Zaku. "You can run away, fatass!"
'Great! I'm getting it! I can walk! I can walk!'
"I AM NOT A FATASS!" bellowed Choji angrily in denial. "I'M JUST CHUBBY, DAMN IT! YAAAAY! HURRAY FOR CHUBBY PEOPLE! ALRIGHT! THIS IS A WAR BETWEEN THE SOUND AND THE LEAF!"
"Man," groaned Shikamaru, not noticing that the ruckus had broken the blonde boy out of his concentration, causing him to fall back to the ground almost exactly where he had been upon waking up. "This is going to suck …"
"That's our line," growled Zaku.
"Sakura," stated Ino. "Take care of those two … Alright! Time for Ino Team's full power! Yeah!"
'Damn, I had it! I was walking around!'
Getting to his feet wasn't quite as difficult this time, but the restricting clothes he wore made movements excessively clumsy.
'Might as well take off the jacket … it's too restrictive. No! I got that jacket for my birthday! I ain't takin' it off! Oh, yes I will! No! I'm not suggesting I'll throw it away! I'll still wear it when I'm not in a dangerous situation!'
Not finding himself objecting any more to his own suggestion, he wrung the jacket over his head without unzipping it.
The evil energy was leaking off Sasuke-teme in greater amounts … 'And by how much he's moaning, he'll wake up soon … I've got to get into this fight … to give the others a better chance!'
The sound of a terrible wind broke him from his discussion, to see the Sound nin girl get blasted into a tree by Zaku.
'How long was I arguing with myself?' He wondered as he saw the drama unfold.
"Heh, you are confused," Zaku chuckled.
"Our goals are not the stupid scrolls," explained the bandaged Sound nin. "Nor to safely complete this exam … it's Sasuke-kun!"
'Great, now I've got a headache … I should have just contended myself with lying against the root … then I wouldn't be so confused … reminds me of how the Tendos reacted when Pops and I first showed up at their house … who are the Tendos? And I never had a dad, I'm an orphan! Then how did I travel with him for ten years, learning Martial Arts? I didn't start learning how to fight until I started the Academy, and that was six years ago! I'm only twelve, I couldn't have gone on a ten year training trip! Well, I did … Did not … Did so … Did not, infinity! That's not fair, I was about to say that! Then you agree with me? Argh! Why am I arguing with myself about things that never happened? Because they did, I was there! No I wasn't!'
"Bah, I can't take any more of this," commented a bored voice from up a tree. "Some minor Sound nins bullying these second rate ninjas and declaring a victory?"
"They keep coming out like cockroaches," snarled Zaku as he looked up at the branch where the voice came from.
'Great, now I've missed even more!'
"You made a mistake," stated the voice up the tree. "That knocked out freak right there is from our team, and you're going to pay for that!"
'Why do I get the feeling I'm being watched? Everyone is looking up the tree at Fuzzy-brows team mate, and Sasuke-teme is still not awake …'
"If you are going any further, I'm going all out," informed the voice up the tree.
'Who is that?'
"Hehe," laughed the bandaged Sound nin. "If you don't like it so much, then stop acting cool and come down here …"
"No," replied the voice. "It seems that won't be necessary."
"Sasuke-kun!" exclaimed Sakura-chan excitedly. "You're awake … huh?"
'Oh, great, now Sasuke-teme is stealing my thunder! When did he wake up! And when did he get tattoos all over the left half of his body? Those aren't tattoos … they are seal marks, like the Ultimate Moxibustion the old pervert performed on me to rob me of all my strength! And the seals are practically overflowing with evil energy! How do I know that? And who is the old pervert? I don't remember anyone stealing all my strength, when did that happen? When I was sixteen, of course! I'm twelve!'
"Sakura," started Sasuke in a threatening tone. "Who … did that to you?"
"We did it!" declared Zaku confidently, while his team mates didn't look quite as self-assured.
"Sasuke-kun," stammered Sakura-chan worriedly, not even noticing her other team mate being up and about. "Your body …"
Sasuke-teme raised his left hand to look at it.
"Don't worry," Sasuke assured confidently. "I feel power overflowing within me … I feel … great."
'Why is it that I can hardly move after fighting that snake bastard, but Sasuke-teme got up reeking of power? It's not fair! No, I don't want that power … it'll get him killed if he uses it too much … just like Ryoga killed himself in the end after using the Shishi Hokodan too much … the dark emotions will tear at him until no other feeling remains …'
The roar roused him from his thoughts in time to sense the pressures of air rushing towards him.
He didn't know what he did at the time, but suddenly, he found himself mid air, looking down at the funnel of slicing air blasts that tore through the former hollow they had been in, mere feet below him.
Sasuke-teme and Sakura-chan were behind Zaku and the bandaged Sound nin, and only some pale-eyed boy with very pronounced veins around his sockets followed him in his leap from where he was standing on a branch.
'How did I do that? Why am I wondering about that? I've done stuff like that for months! No I haven't! Of course I have, I just used my ki to propel myself into the air, like a cannon shooting a ball … Am I going crazy? I'd worry more about the landing than possible insanity … the Landing?'
Looking down, he saw the ground rush up to greet him.
Instinctively, yet not near as graceful as he somehow knew he should have been able to do it, he flipped in the air, and landed on his feet next to Sakura-chan, and stumbled to his knees.
Hearing the sounds of fleshy impact, he looked to see Sasuke-teme casually swat Zaku several metres away before the Sound nin even noticed he was there.
Sasuke-teme went through a quick succession of hand seals. "KATON: HOUSENKA NO JUTSU!"
A series of fireballs were created in Sasuke-teme's mouth, and spat at the Sound nin.
Zaku scoffed at the attempt, and made to blast the fireballs away with his air attack … his efforts were only half-effective. The fires were extinguished, but revealed that there were solid objects within … shuriken. Zaku had not been prepared for this, and was cut in several places.
'He can make fireballs? Is that even possible for normal mortals? Of course it is, Sasuke-teme uses them all the time! It's his favoured weapon, just like mine is making clones! I can make clones of myself? That's great! Saffron wouldn't have stood a chance against me if I knew how to do that! Who's Saffron?'
"Zaku! Below!" called the bandaged Sound nin in warning.
He looked up to see Sasuke-teme standing over a prone Zaku … the Sound nin's arms were pulled back by Sasuke's hands, and the teme's foot was on the back of Zaku, a dangerous position to be in.
"Hehe, you're proud of these arms?" asked Sasuke-teme mockingly. A swift pull on said appendages and a push on Zaku's back followed.
"Aaww!" screamed Zaku in pain as he fell limply to the ground, having nothing to break the short fall for him.
As Zaku lay whimpering in agony, Sasuke-teme turned to the bandaged Sound nin.
"You're the only one left," he stated coldly. "I hope you'll let me have more fun …"
'Sasuke-teme didn't act like this before … He didn't? No, he may have been uncaring, but he wasn't vicious.'
Apparently, he wasn't the only one to think so, as Saskura-chan demonstrated by launching herself at him in a glomp that could possibly rival Shampoo's.
'Why do I keep thinking of spices and toiletries?'
"Stop!" she exclaimed, pleadingly. "Please stop!"
Slowly, the seals covering half of Sasuke-teme's body started receding and the evil energy was contained within the bite mark left by the snake bastard. This was followed by the boy collapsing in Sakura-chan's arms, exhausted.
"You are strong," declared the bandaged Sound nin, and held out the Earth scroll, one very similar to the one their team once had, but that Orochimaru had swallowed. "Sasuke-kun, we can't defeat you at this time. Here is a gift, please let us leave." Depositing the scroll on the ground, the Sound nin went about collecting his fallen comrades. "This may seem convenient, but there is something we must find out now. But I will promise you this … if there is another situation where we meet in this Exam, we will neither run nor hide."
'What am I, chopped sushi? I'm still good to go, why isn't he afraid of me? Because I can hardly move, and that jump took a lot out of me. Oh, right …'
As the three Sound nin retreated slowly from the clearing they had all been fighting in, Sakura got a determined look on her face. "Wait!" she called. "Who is Orochimaru? What did he do to Sasuke-kun? Why Sasuke-kun?"
"I don't know," confessed the bandaged Sound nin. "We were only told to kill Sasuke-kun."
'Good, now the danger is over, and I can start figuring out all of my questions without danger of injury. Where to start … ah, the last thing I remember … eating one of Akane's "onigiri" and getting strong stomach cramps, sweats, seizures and nausea … okay … let's say that happened, when did it happen? I was nineteen, it was the day before our wedding, and she was excited about the event, but not about me … but I am twelve … maybe she got an Aging Mushroom into it by mistake, and I got sent somewhere by one of my rivals? That can't be right, I was born in Konoha on the night the Kyuubi no Kitsune attacked, which is why it was sealed into me while my cut umbilical cord wasn't healed … at least, that's what Oji-san said when we talked about it … but if I was born here, that must mean … I died? Then why am I still alive?'
"Who am I?" he asked himself, not aware of having asked the question aloud.
"Oy, Shikamaru, it looks like Naruto-kun has amnesia," muttered Choji as he munched on some chips from a freshly opened bag.
-Sigh- "How troublesome …"
"Ino, why did you hit him over the head?"
"Because that's how you cure amnesia!"
"No, that's how you cause amnesia … how troublesome …"
Author's Notes: I know I may have added, rearranged or removed a few things from the dialogue and actions before Ranma makes his presence known, but a few things were either too inaccurate/inconsistent so I took a few liberties …
Not to mention that during the phase of confusion, contradictory internal questions and statements have, as you may have noticed, sprung up. Some may even have noticed that I avoided naming Ranma or Naruto when he thought of himself, or unless someone else spoke to him.
I apologise for any confusion on my part about the naming of such things as techniques, places, and the arrangement of names, as I might mix them up by mistake … please correct me so I can correct the errors … but please word yourselves politely, as there is little that kills more muses for me than people yelling at me for no good reason … not that I like being yelled at, regardless …
And before people start asking why I placed this story in the Naruto section, then it is because while the main character is Ranma, he is also Naruto, and will be addressed as such by his friends, enemies etc. and the plot takes place in the Narutoverse … all excellent reasons in my own opinion, but others may disagree.
Credits: The inspiration for this story came from reading "Wild Cherry Blossom" by Largo, and "Horse of the Leaf" by Hibiki54. My thanks to all of those that responded to my idea thread in the Naruto section on The Fanfiction Forum, you helped iron out some details that I myself had not finished. I apologise to those whose suggestions were not immediately included, but some may be included later …