Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto
I am looking for a beta reader though. One who will be able to give me good advice on how to improve my story, as well as helping me when I get writing blocks.
The pain bearing down upon him was excruciation and Naruto very much doubted if he could stand it anymore. In his mind he was cursing both himself, the Kyubi and the Akatsuki, but still mostly himself. He was a twenty year old jounin now. He admitted that he should've been more careful considering who and exactly what he was.
It had been a routine A-rank mission (his first solo mission after gaining his jounin rank) and he had been reckless. He could admit to himself in silent moments when he was alone that he had a problem with being too reckless. Now, with pain wracking his body as foreign chakra tore him apart, he could admit that perhaps one of the reasons he had survived as long as he had was because he'd always had other people to bail him out when it got too heated. The other reason was undoubtedly his otherworldly luck. Regardless, it wasn't an encouraging thought. What kind of future Hokage would he be if he couldn't perform even one solo A-ranked mission on account of his recklessness?
Naruto vowed to do something about his own recklessness if he ever survived this encounter with the Akatsuki.
As Akatsuki's extraction ritual geared up to work at a higher level, he could feel how Kyubi's chakra churned and frothed in agitation and anger inside of him. The pain reached a new level and the last thought to enter his mind before he lost consciousness was a vague hope and a prayer that the new seal he had constructed and placed on himself would work in somehow disabling Akatsuki's ritual.
When Naruto was seventeen years old, he entered the Chuunin exam for the second time and he passed with flying colours. He also started to study sealing with the help of Jiraiya.
At the time Jiraiya had hinted that it was Naruto's birthright to learn sealing, but Naruto hadn't really been interested. Where was the fun with strange squiggly symbols painted on paper after all? And there were too many things to memorize and learn. At first Naruto adamantly refused to learn and instead began to harass the toad Sannin into teaching him another cool jutsu.
Jiraiya, for once, acted surprisingly mature and decided to entice Naruto into learning sealing in a more circumspect manner than winding him up, or tossing him off a cliff.
The first example Jiraiya gave on exactly why sealing was cool and why Naruto should learn it was the simple explosion seal (normally painted on a piece of paper and used regularly by all ninja). Naruto refused, outright stating that he could accomplish that result with a cool jutsu anyway if only Jiraiya taught it to him. Jiraiya frowned, but didn't give up.
The second example the Sannin used was how sealing could be performed even without painted symbols. He used what had happened during Naruto's first chuunin exam as a more concrete example. Orochimaru had partly sealed and disrupted Naruto's use of chakra during the exam when Naruto had drawn on the Kyubi's chakra to fight. Naruto twitched in interest at the example given, but then (in a manner totally contradicting his supposed inability to think things through) stated that such a technique would require chakra control beyond his abilities (he blamed the constant release of Kyubi's chakra into his system for disrupting his control). Jiraiya sighed and contemplated to tell Naruto that using certain seals could improve his dismal control, but then decided that the explanation would be too complex for the Kyubi container at the moment and instead went at it from a different angle.
Ero-Sannin's third example in his attempt to turn Naruto's view was something he knew would interest his student. He told him about the origins of summoned creatures, and how a proper Seal Master (or Fuinjutsu Master) could attain (and create) new contracts. Normally ninja who had summoning contracts only had one, but with proper knowledge about seals, summoned creatures and the different dimensions of existence a Master could theoretically attain more than one summoning contract. Naruto couldn't hide his interest this time and actually jumped high into the air as he yelled his excitement when he suddenly dropped silently to the ground again with a contemplative expression. In the end he rejected the idea because he didn't really feel that he needed another summoning contract. (Toads were the coolest anyway and they came in orange!)
Wilting slightly after Naruto's multiple rejections Jiraiya finally gave into irritation and yelled loudly at his student that if the Yondaime Hokage hadn't been a Seal Master then he'd never been able to seal the Kyubi as he did. Naruto snapped to attention so suddenly that Jiraiya nearly fell backwards in surprise. Luckily he managed to right his balance before he embarrasses himself in front of his student.
From there on out it went as if in a dream.
It turned out that Naruto was a natural at sealing. Jiraiya often joked to Tsunade about the fact that Naruto tended to be an idiot in everything else he did, but concerning sealing he was genius.
Naruto soaked up the knowledge of sealing like a sponge, and when he was eighteen years old he started to construct a special seal that was designed with Kyubi's chakra in mind. Originally the seal was supposed to regulate Kyubi's chakra integration into Naruto's own coils so that Naruto could perfect his chakra control, but Naruto decided to improve on the concept.
He'd been having trouble with controlling himself if he used too much of Kyubi's chakra and he wished for the seal to be able to control the excess chakra that affected his mind when he drew on the demons' tails.
Naruto went on instinct for the most part as he designed the seal, but allowed himself to be influenced by the concept behind different dimensions and especially how summoned creatures existed beyond time and space as humans knew it. The idea was for the seal to pull the excess chakra from the Kyubi into another time dimension so that it could be absorbed gradually (and slowly) into Naruto's coils over time that Naruto wouldn't experience himself. Theoretically, each time Kyubi's chakra acted up and the output became too much for Naruto's psyche and body to handle, the seal would switch itself on as a fail safe. Excess chakra would be absorbed and integrated into Naruto's coils over time in another dimension so that for Naruto the process wouldn't even last a moment.
Jiraiya encouraged Naruto in his work on the seal, but cautioned him strongly from attempting the seal without years of research. Time and dimension theory was mostly just that and it wouldn't do to finalize anything without proper experimentation and consultation with other Seal Masters. Seals could be hazardous enough without mixing vague theories and assumptions into the mix.
Naruto ignored Jiraiya's advice (command) and finalized and grafted the seal onto himself by the tender age of nineteen, only two years after he'd started his study in sealing.
Jirajya was frantic.
Tsunade, who got wind of it from Jiraiya because he was so frantic that he ratted Naruto out, became livid.
Sakura heard it from Tsunade (when she was yelling her reprimands at Naruto so loudly that it could be heard through the soundproof door) and decided that Naruto needed another lesson about possible consequences that could result from recklessness. She cracked her knuckles loudly and cackled evilly in her mind. The ninja around her edged away from her slowly and with wary expressions on their faces.
Naruto didn't really have a great time in the week following his application of the new seal.
The next week went better.
Once Jiraiya, Tsunade and Sakura had calmed down enough to actually examine the seal and the effect it had on Naruto and the Kyubi, they all grudgingly admitted that everything seemed to be working the way Naruto had intended it. It didn't stop the three from reprimanding the Jinchuuriki for his rash actions, but it did serve to get them to stop their constant worrying over him and the seal.
Naruto quickly forgot about their disapproval and started another seal design. This time he had hopes about creating a seal to counter, or at least completely bind Orochimaru's Curse Seal. He was still determined to bring Sasuke back to Konoha and even if the Uchiha wasn't with Orochimaru any longer (or that weird fusion of the Snake Sannin and Kabuto), he was still partially influenced by the Cursed Seal which contained trace amounts of Orochimaru's own signature chakra.
Besides, he had become good friends with that crazy chuunin exam examiner, Anko, over the last couple of years and he didn't like the thought of the Seal causing her pain at random moments.
In the back of his mind, he also had an idea ticking concerning how Gaara had been revived, Tsunade's super healing seal (as he called it), and the possibility of donating chakra. He hoped to one day make an ultimate healing seal in case he ever got too late to help his friends. Still, he was weary of what he was willing to do or sacrifice for such a technique. He knew playing with life and death was eerily close to what Orochimaru was doing, but Naruto figured he could come up with something that wouldn't bring harm to anyone but himself. Jiraiya noticed Naruto's peculiar maniacal expression and decided that his student had gotten indigestion again.
When he was twenty years old, Naruto passed the jounin exam.
A couple of weeks after that, he was trapped and captured by the Akatsuki during a solo mission.
As the extraction began, Kyubi's chakra rose to the surface as the ritual worked to pull the volatile chakra out of its blonde container.
The members of the Akatsuki couldn't help but be impressed as the blonde Jinchuuriki went through the first stage of the ritual without passing out or screaming from the pain. As they commenced with the second part of the extraction ritual (the part where Kyubi's chakra was supposed to be pulled out of its container – the first part only agitated the chakra and caused it to move more freely within its vessel,) the blonde finally passed out.
A seal foreign to the Akatsuki flashed into sudden existence and then, in a white flash of light bright enough to blind everyone watching, the blonde jounin was suddenly gone. Only his clothes and head-band were left behind to be found by the puzzled (and furious) group of criminals.
A pair of red eyes tightened, sharingan swirling.
Naruto woke to a world of aches and pains shooting through his body.
Groaning, he carefully rolled from his back and onto his stomach so that he could begin the painstaking effort of rising himself from the surface he was lying on. His muscles quivered under the strain as he used his arms to push himself up and as his eyes finally opened, he barely had the presence of mind to process exactly what his eyes were telling his brain.
One. He was under ground, or at least in a very dark, cavernous, humid place. He wondered briefly if this was what Hell was like, but then he recognized (in the vague light emanating from some kind of weird glowing fungus glowing on the cave walls) the Big-Ugly-Statue-of-Doom that the Akatsuki used to contain the youkai chakra that they extracted from the various bijou that they captured.
He did a quick double take at that.
Two. He noticed that the Akatsuki were nowhere to be seen and he wondered where they were a brief moment before he decided to not question his (amazing, godlike luck) blessings.
Three. As he finally managed to regain his feet, he noticed that he was naked.
Naruto briefly considered what would happen if the Akatsuki came back while he was standing there buck naked and decided (after a couple of decidedly unpleasant scenarios ran through his mind) to make a run for it.
On the way out of the huge cave (or what Naruto presumed to be the way out) he noticed small signs of humans having visited recently, but not as recently as if there'd just been performed a major ritual there. This in turn led him to wonder how long he had been unconscious and what had happened while he was out cold.
Deciding to think about it later, Naruto finally drew to a stop as a huge block of rock blocked the way out of the cave. Remembering the area from the time they had rescued Gaara, he could imagine the enormous rock-gate guarding the entrance to the cave in addition to the seals securing it from unwanted entrance.
He briefly lamented Sakura not being there this time to knock the gate down with her super strength, but then decided to use what he'd originally meant to use the first time he came across the gate.
Focusing chakra to his right hand he was surprised to notice that nothing happened. He couldn't understand this because he'd perfected the Rasengan years ago when on an extended training trip with Ero-Sannin.
"What the hell?" He muttered frustrated to the still air as he focused harder in a second attempt.
After ten long and torturous minutes of trying he finally gave up in order to think the problem through. Could Akatsuki's ritual have been successful? Had they robbed him of all his chakra including the Kyubi's? If they did, why wasn't he dead? But no, he couldn't feel any signs of chakra exhaustion. In fact, he could feel his chakra flowing freely through his channels in a way he'd never noticed so clearly before. So what was the problem?
Naruto decided to slow down as he travelled through the trees in the direction of Konoha. He was still many days away from his goal, but for once he didn't mind the extra time he had to think. What had happened in Akatsuki's cave had surprised him in a way nothing ever had before. He hadn't been able to channel chakra outside his body at all and in the end he had resorted to different variations of seals drawn in chakra-infused blood to get him out of the cave.
He couldn't understand what was happening to his chakra. The Akatsuki had certainly done something to him while he was captured by them. The only thing left now was to find out what they did, and why they let him go.
As the evening finally started to draw to a close and the night began to make its way into the world around him, Naruto finally decided to stop for the day. He had been running ever since he'd escaped and had only stopped briefly to pilfer a set of clothes from a lonely farm he'd passed on the way. Normally he'd never resort to thievery, but he figured he had a good excuse just this once. The evidence being that he had neither clothes nor money to get new ones.
Naruto settled down in a clearing next to a steam that provided ample opportunity for fresh water both to drink and bathe in. It was as he stripped off his clothes that he in the waning light noticed something irregular about the seals on his stomach.
The first irregularity being that one of the seals was actually showing. And it wasn't the seal of Kyubi he was thinking about either. The black loops and swirls from the new seal he'd grafted onto himself stood out in stark contrast to the relative paleness of his own skin.
Frowning in consternation, Naruto tried to find an explanation for the occurrence. Normally the seal should only be showing if it was in use, much in the same way Kyubi's seal showed up when he focused his chakra to it. For it to be showing now, it had to be in effect. What really stumped Naruto was that Kyubi's seal should also be in effect if the secondary seal was. For Kyubi's seal to be dormant while the secondary was in effect, either something serious was wrong with Kyubi, himself or the seals.
Naruto hoped to Kami that Yondaime's seal wasn't defective after Akatsuki's stunt. For all that he had lived with the Kyubi for twenty years; he'd still never want to meet the creature without the restraint the seal provided. Kyubi really was as vicious, sadistic and bloodthirsty as the villagers had made him out to be. There was a reason that Naruto had been desperate enough to craft a new and untested seal unto himself without even testing it first…
Gathering his own wandering thoughts, Naruto made a quick check of the area before he was confident enough to lower his guard for what he was about to do.
Over the years he'd spent training with Jiraiya, Naruto had been taught specific exercises in meditation to be able to check up on Yondaime's seal and the Kyubi at any given point. The only drawback in the discipline was the loss of situational awareness that followed as he was dragged into his mindscape. This necessitated the technique to be used only when he could regard it as a relatively safe area.
Sitting down underneath a tree surrounded by thick shrubbery, Naruto finally allowed his guard to relax as he regulated his breathing and drew his thoughts inwards.
It seemed like no time at all before he found himself wandering the corridors of his mind. He noticed at once that the feel of the place was different from before, but he couldn't put his finger on what it was at the moment. Shrugging his metaphorical shoulders, Naruto began to move in the direction of where he knew Kyubi and the seal to be located.
As he drew nearer to his destination, his unease rose as the distance became shorter. The difference that he couldn't quite pin down unsettled him something awful and he slowed his pace in case something really was terribly wrong with the seal. What if he was walking right into a trap? What if the terrible nine-tails was free and was biding its time on the other side of the dark door in front of him?
Naruto stopped as these thoughts occurred to him and the promise he'd made while he had been captured by the Akatsuki came to mind.
Don't be reckless! You remember what happened the last time you acted before thinking.
Naruto acknowledged the thought and began to go over what he knew as he studied the door in front of him, as well as the surrounding corridor for the vital clue to tell him what the difference he was sensing was.
He'd been captured by the Akatsuki.
He'd lost consciousness as the ritual they preformed intensified.
He'd woken up (naked) in an empty cave used as a hideout for criminals.
He could feel and sense his chakra, but not use it outside of his body.
The secondary seal was in effect while the primary was not.
Something was different in his mindscape.
He couldn't sense the Kyubi's presence beyond the door.
Naruto did a double take.
He couldn't sense the Kyubi's presence beyond the door?
What the fuck?
Naruto started in realization as it finally occurred to him what was different about his mindscape.
Before when he'd visited the place, the Kyubi's presence had been saturating the corridors of his mindscape. The foul red chakra of the demon fox had been mixed in with his own chakra in the chakra coils represented as pipes that ran along the walls and ceiling of the corridors. Not only that, but there'd also been an oppressive quality to the atmosphere in the corridors. No doubt a result of the Kyubi's presence at the end of the door leading to the seal-room.
Now though, all evidence of the Kyubi being there were gone. The red chakra that at one time filtered in to his chakra coils was gone, and the atmosphere of the place was far from oppressive. It was unnaturally neutral. Naruto had never experienced anything like it before.
Studying the pipes running to and from the room he was about to enter, Naruto could sense nothing of the demons presence at all. He'd never before believed that the loss of Kyubi's presence would be unnerving. It was. The chakra coils he could see were filled with clear, bright chakra, but still, there was something off. Nothing bad exactly, only…
Fed up with the stand still, Naruto finally acted on his reckless nature as he took a step forwards and opened the door. He was relatively sure that he wouldn't be harmed. He doubted that the Kyubi would be able to suppress its enormous amount of chakra with him standing only a foot away from the door. No, something else was going on, and he was about to find out exactly what theta was.
Nothing could've prepared him for what he saw when he entered the seal-room.
Gasping in shock and surprise, Naruto froze as he stared at the scene in front of him.
It was bright.
It was huge.
It was unbelievably complex.
It was all complete chaos.
A mess of chakra coils mixed up in a disarray he'd never seen before, or even imagined. Distantly, he finally realized why he was having trouble with channelling his chakra.
There were no signs of either the Kyubi or Yondaime's seal anywhere. The huge cage that had once represented Kyubi's imprisonment was simply gone. In its place was an enormous, glowing ball of chakra coils (or pipes). They were twisting and turning in what could only be described as chaos incarnated. Some even had knots on them, seriously hindering the chakra from flowing freely. And through it all, surrounding the whole mess in a surprisingly elegant and systematic design, was the representation of the secondary seal that Naruto himself had designed and grafted.
The black swirls and symbols of the seal completely covered the area around the chaotic ball of chakra coils. Some of the black lines were clearly acting as conductors for the chakra, leading some of the pipes away from the huge ball and to the door leading into the corridors. Other lines seemed to be constricting the ball of chakra coils to the centre of the room, keeping the chaos from spreading. Most of the lines and symbols though, seemed to be saturated with chakra, hard at work in neutralizing and purifying all of the chakra both going into, and out of the room.
Naruto was baffled.
Seeing the chaos in front of him, it was a miracle he was alive at all. The chakra pathways and the chakra gates were very sensitive. The smallest disruption could lead to disaster. An example could be how the Hyuuga clan used their taijutsu to disrupt and disable their opponents by closing off their chakra points.
With this amount of chaos in his chakra coils, Naruto was surprised that he was alive at all, let alone able to move. It was no wonder at all that he couldn't channel his chakra outside his body. That he'd been able to use chakra saturated blood to make seals in order to escape was nothing short of miraculous.
In order to be able to fully use his chakra again, Naruto would have to straighten out his chakra coils. The problem being that this would take no small amount of time. He'd also have to figure out what caused the problem initially, but he could already venture a few guesses to the cause of his problem.
If he understood the theory behind Akatsuki's ritual correctly, then it was supposed to bring the bijou's chakra to the surface and then rip it out of the container.
Naruto allowed himself a brief moment of pride and grim humour when he realized that his seal had worked. Perhaps not exactly the way he had intended, but it had worked… to the extent that he was still alive and sane, and in the sense that the Kyubi was neither free nor captured by the Akatsuki.
Obviously something had happened when the seal had been challenged with integrating all of Kyubi's chakra at once. Theoretically it should've been able to handle an infinite amount of chakra because the chakra was brought to an alternate time dimension as it was converted, but something had obviously gone wrong.
Naruto had to find out exactly what had gone wrong before he tried to fix the mess that was his chakra coils. He couldn't afford to do anything else as the smallest mistake could lead to his death. Until he figured everything out, he'd have to manage with using jutsu and techniques that based themselves on chakra bound to his body or blood.
Luckily for him, this meant that he'd be able to use seals.
Letting himself return to the waking world, Naruto wondered briefly what had happened to the Akastuki for them to have left the cave before he woke up, but the thought was quickly lost as the exhaustion of the day caught up with him and he finally fell asleep.
After a good night's sleep, Naruto had resolved that Konoha was still the best place for him to go. He needed a second, or maybe even a third opinion on what had happened to his seal. Logically, he therefore needed to find both Tsunade and Jiraiya. He knew that as a Hokage, Tsunade was to be found in the village. Jiraiya was a bit trickier because he travelled around so much, but Naruto figured that Tsunade could either send for the old pervert, or at the very least, give him some clue as to where to look for him.
It was as he drew nearer and nearer to the border of the Fire Country that Naruto began to notice differences from how it had been a few weeks ago when he travelled out to start his mission.
Before, the border had been relatively well guarded by checkpoints and guard stations placed along the main roads leading towards the hidden village and the capital city. Chuunin, with a few jounin leading them, usually patrolled the forest between each checkpoint in random patterns.
Now though, the security seemed a lot tighter and the border where the patrols travelled seemed to have been moved farther away from both the village and the capital.
Naruto frowned as he finally came across a patrol made up of chuunin wearing the Konoha headband. He chose not to reveal himself to them at once. First he wanted to see if he could get some clues about the change in border patrols by spying on them.
For the border to be patrolled as securely as it was, something important had to have happened while he was a way. His first guess would've been that the Old Hag leading the village had found out about Akastuki capturing him, thus forcing her to tighten the security, but something about that theory simply didn't ring true.
Something strange was going on.
The atmosphere and the way the chuunin patrol held themselves spoke of an experience and a tenseness to their situation that told Naruto that whatever the threat was, it had been a threat for longer than a few weeks.
Naruto hid himself high up in a tree branch where the leaves were particularly thick and good as cover from roving eyes searching from the ground. He on the other hand didn't have any troubles in observing the group of chuunin on the ground.
As one of the chuunin finally spoke, Naruto had to strain his hearing to be able to pick up the words. It seemed as if the group was on the alert for possible eavesdroppers. Naruto very much doubted that he would've been able to hear anything at all if not for the Kyubi having improved his hearing years ago. As it was, he still had to resort to reading lips when some of the words were only mimed by the speaker.
"Are there any news from HQ yet?" The chuunin asking the question seemed to be around Iruka's age. He was dressed in the standard uniform with the normal green chuunin west. He seemed experienced, an observation that stood in contrast to both the weariness he was displaying and the nervousness he let show.
Naruto frowned again. Hoping to high heavens that nothing worse than the Akatsuki or Orochimaru was after Konoha. Nothing good could be about if the Hokage had let her shinobi get so exhausted as to be showing it when on a standard patrol mission. But then again, he'd already suspected that this wasn't a standard patrol mission.
The silence from the group of chuunin was quickly broken when one of the older in the group – probably the leader – finally answered the question.
"Yes. We got word yesterday that the Sandaime would be sending a relief force as soon as possible. We can be expecting to be exchanged sometime today or tomorrow."
The information brought obvious relief to the rest of the group. One of the chuunin – he looked to be the youngest – even muttered a weak, but relief filled "finally".
"We still have to keep out guard up until they arrive though." The leader spoke again before anyone else could say something. "There's no telling when Stone will attempt something. We've been on high alert for two months now, ever since the spies found out about Iwa's plans. We still don't know when Iwa will attempt anything."
Many of the group nodded, while others only sighed in weariness.
Naruto stilled completely at what he had heard. Stone was attempting something? And the Hokage had known for two months?
Naruto froze further. What the hell were they talking about? The Sandaime had been dead ever since Naruto's first chuunin exam and that had been years ago. He was about to reveal himself to the patrol and demand to know exactly what was going on when the smallest shift in the air around him warned him that he wasn't alone on the branch anymore.
It was only pure luck that saved him from the kunai aimed at his jugular vein.
He'd been so absorbed and focused on the conversation from the patrol group that he'd completely blocked out anything else.
Damn my recklessness! He cursed as he pushed away and fell from the branch and his would be attacker.
He wasn't out of the woods yet so to speak. In fact, he was reasonably sure that his situation had just gotten worse. If Konoha really was on high alert, he'd just escaped from his attacker to land in the middle of a group of allies that wouldn't think twice about skewering him when he couldn't prove that he came from Konoha since he'd lost his forehead protector.
And he was without the use of his regular jutsu repertoire too.
Twisting in midair to land securely on the ground, Naruto didn't even wait a moment before he sprang into action.
Even without the use of Kage Bunshin, Rasengan or other jutsu, he was still a jounin and he should be able to survive the experience if he acted fast.
Just as he'd completed a simple backwards jump over the group of surprised chuunin – after pilfering a kunai from the youngest one – Naruto felt the near unnoticeable arrival of someone appearing behind him again and he froze with his newly acquired kunai ready to attack the unknown assailant behind him as the cool feel of enemy steel caressed his neck in preparation for an equally swift death.
Fast! Was the only thought he could complete as he struggled to control both his swift breathing and the reflex to attempt an attack to get away again. Naruto was reasonably sure that the person he was holding at kunai point – and who was returning the favour – was the same one that had attacked him in the tree branch. Which ultimately meant that the unknown assailant was most probably from Konaha too since he followed Naruto down to the patrol. Either that or he was good enough to not worry about being able to defeat the group of chuunin after he'd finished Naruto off.
Naruto wasn't quite sure which of the possibilities he found most disconcerting.
He vaguely noticed that the group of patrolling chuunin had frozen too and everybody in the area seemed to be at a standstill.
The silence and standstill continued. None of them moving anything except their eyes as Naruto's breathing finally began to even out. Any movement made now would be interpreted as hostile and everybody knew it.
After an unknown amount of time, a new sound but the sound of forcefully restrained breathing could be heard by the frozen group.
Naruto detected it first, but couldn't really acknowledge the possible new danger at the moment beyond a quick flickering in his eyes.
The silent sound of leaves being disturbed by swift movements could be interpreted as two persons nearing the group of ninja. And farther behind, louder and more destructive, Naruto could hear yet another arrival.
The newcomers were relatively small by how loudly their feet impacted the ground and branches they travelled over. Either that or they were jounin good enough to regulate their impact by the use of chakra. Naruto doubted it though. The last person in the entourage hardly sounded like a jounin in the way he moved, and from his knowledge of how Konoha teams operated (if his guesses up until now were correct), he'd guess that the new arrivals were a three-man team with the person holding Naruto at kunai point as their sensei.
Probably the group that was supposed to relieve the patrol group I spied on. What a drag for them to arrive now of all times. As an after thought he added; I hate my luck.
When the two nearest new comers finally made it to the area where the stand still was, they quickly read the situation and landed silently behind Naruto and the one holding him as kunai point. They were obviously awaiting orders.
The standstill continued.
…Until the last arrival finally made his way loudly into the small clearing.
"Hey, you two! Wait up! Sensei could you tell…" He broke off suddenly as he finally noticed the volatile situation he'd walked in on.
What an idiot. Naruto thought to himself in irritation. Then, more fondly; he reminds me of myself an awful lot.
"Wh-what's going on?"
The last arrival had had a young, uncertain voice, but not one Naruto recognized. Which was strange in itself, seeing as Naruto made it his personal duty to talk to and get to know everyone in the younger generations.
Naruto suddenly felt sorry for the newest arrival. He could vividly imagine how he'd react himself when he was younger if he ever walked in on a situation where Kakashi-sensei was being held at kunai point in a standstill.
When he was younger, he'd been in awe of Kakashi's abilities. He'd thought him untouchable and he'd had many wakeup calls during his childhood as Team 7 regularly ended up in more and more dangerous situations. The first of which had been the fight with the Demon of the Mist when Kakashi had been captured in a water cage made by the missing-nin Zabuza.
He'd hated it when he'd seen his sensei vulnerable.
Finally making his choice with a mental sigh, Naruto relaxed his muscles and dropped the kunai. He only hoped that the show of good will would give him the benefit of the doubt when the nin surrounding him decided what they would do with him.
It would be a shame if he was killed by his own allies after all.
He didn't even notice it as a specific pressure point was hit and he lost consciousness.
When he woke up, the sun had already set and night had begun. He couldn't see the moon through the thick canopy of leaves so he gave up on his attempt to further determine the time.
It was as he reflexively attempted to stretch his muscles that he noticed that he was tied up.
Well, great. Not that I wasn't expecting it, but still…
Trying to determine if he'd be able to escape the bindings, he finally had to give up as he admitted that no-one less than a jounin had tied the knots holding him.
What now then?
Looking around, he barely made out the form of a short dark figure standing guard with his back turned towards Naruto. He obviously didn't have any worries about Naruto escaping or attacking him, as Naruto was tied to a tree trunk.
Still, Naruto would've liked to criticize the person for turning his back to a potential enemy. In the end, he couldn't really be bothered.
The night passed in silence. Naruto didn't reveal any signs that he was awake and the guard never turned around. When Naruto didn't keep himself occupied with meditating on his seal, he went over all the information he'd heard that day as he waited for the rest of the guard's team to show up. He'd already reasoned out that they'd left on a nightly patrol. The other group of chuunin had probably already returned to Konoha, probably delivering the news of Naruto appearance too.
The rest of the guard's team finally arrived when dawn began to break.
Naruto didn't even try to hide that he was awake as two small forms and a taller form made their way into the clearing where this new patrol had decided to make camp for the night. What he saw, or rather who he thought he saw, made it impossible for Naruto to hide his surprise and try to fake sleep.
The first one to enter the clearing was a young girl with marks on her cheeks denoting her as an Inuzuka. This didn't really surprise Naruto though (apart from the fact that he was sure that he'd never seen her before). No, what surprised Naruto was the second and third person that entered the camp.
Naruto was sure that he'd seen the other two persons before. The problem being that he'd only seen one of them depicted as a giant face on the Hokage Mountain, and the other as a much older, lazy, perverted, sharingan-wielding sensei.
Naruto's breath caught in his throat.
What's going on here?
A/N: Well, there you have the prologue. I hope I've caught your interest and I apologize for the lack of dialogue. I know it may seem boring to read through so much text when there's nearly no dialogue to be found, but this was only the prologue. I hope to add more dialogue in the coming chapters. Please tell me if something is unclear (though I may not answer depending on if it will ruin the plot).
Other than that, I'd like to advertise my need for a beta reader again. Please just send me an e-mail (or a review) if you're interested. It would be preferable if you're well versed in the newer episodes (or the resent manga) of Naruto. In addition, you should be good at detecting spelling mistakes.
Edited 10.09.07: The linebreaks didn't show up so I've tried using something else. I've also fixed some spelling mistakes that I noticed, and I've fixed the spelling of Jiraiya's name (previously I worte a mix of both Jirajya and Jirayja --; doh!). I should have the next chapter up by friday, or maybe even earlier than that.