by Lord Dragon Claw

Disclaimer: go discover a hobby.

Chapter Eight: Promethean

Sasuke met with that crazy lady that Naruto removed the cursed seal from. She had apparently taken it upon herself to train Sasuke until the real Naruto came back from his expedition to Sea Country - a small chain of islands to the South of Mist and to the East-by-Northeast of what used to be Wave. Wave was Zeal now, or at least, that was what the old drunk Tazuna claimed its name was.

Anko pushed Sasuke to his physical limits, didn't give him breaks, and had some really annoying ideas on the Sharingan.

"It is really just another tool. A very useful tool, but a mere tool nonetheless," she lectured.

He tried to harrumph but had to dodge a kunai aimed at his left eye.

"You're going to learn this fact even if it kills you!" the madwoman stated.

His reply was to throw a kunai back at her.

Naruto paid his way aboard one of the ships bound for Sea Country, but not before haggling the price down. He was under Henge to look like a brown-haired man and his distinctive eyes were hidden by a genjutsu. He had to keep reapplying the genjutsu due to the fact that his eyes automatically tried to unravel the illusion and dispel it.

In fact, the only reason why he could do the genjutsu at all was because Anko had showed him how to change his eyes to a nondescript brown with a specialized illusion. That was the only genjutsu he could cast. Period. And that was only because his eyes copied the chakra construct to the letter.

He had tried to develop some of his own genjutsu, but with strange results. Because he saw the world differently from everyone else, his illusions had the annoying habit of failing spetacularly. For example, trying to change the aforementioned genjutsu so that he could have blue eyes worked... until he moved. Or blinked. It became immediately apparent that they were illusionary because the blue eyes stayed in place when Naruto moved his head or took a step in any direction.

The bronze-blond figured it was a lost cause to figure out how to do genjutsu on his own and that he should just accept the fact that he was stuck with copying the delicate chakra constructs that other people had created. Still, Naruto wondered what would happen if Itachi tried to trap him in a Tsukuyomi. Did the Uchiha traitor have to make eye contact from his end? Did Naruto's Rabosugan cause eye contact by the nature of its abilities? And why hadn't the range of his vision extended in the past four years? Lavos wasn't very forthcoming with information.

The Tokikage's mind raced as he settled in his cramped cabin on the vessel bound for Sea Country.

Lavos was amused by its host's plight. The poor man had no idea what the true limitations of the Rabosugan were, or what each stage represented.

Naruto didn't quite understand the motives behind his tenant's actions, and so passed it off as boredom whenever someone pressed for information. The bronze-blond was a very good actor and had convinced nearly everyone of the lie he told them.

Yes, Lavos was bored, but that was only half of the truth. Hardwired into the thought processes of the eldritch being was the urge to improve and evolve. Eternally stuck inside of a human's soul, the parasite knew that escape meant instant death. With a lack of progeny, all evolutions acquired throughout the millennia by this Lavos would be worthless if it died before it could reproduce.

Because the eldritch being could see through Naruto's eyes, he could see the seal. It had a greater understanding of seals than its host did; it could see the fail-safes within the seal keeping it trapped within Naruto's form. Any successful escape would result in an immediate termination of the host. The life of the tenant was inextricably tied to the host, regardless of whether the tenant was inside the host or not. Escape meant instant annihilation. Freedom meant death. Absolute possession counted as a form of escape to the seal.

There was no way out. None.

Still, the urge to improve and reproduce drove Lavos stronger than the aversion to fail to evolve and sire spawns. The eldritch horror had found a loophole both within its own programming and the seal. Any upgrades to the host had to be absolutely beneficial. Boons granted to the host counted as evolving the host. If the host reproduced and at least some its traits were passed on, Lavos's instincts would be satisfied.

Thus, the powerful entity would help Naruto.

Naruto's shadow clones were interesting in that they could talk to Sasuke, even if they couldn't spar with him. Naruto wasn't quite forthcoming with information, but the Uchiha was allowed to venture into the new workshops being set up in the town proper by the Nus, guided by a clone.

"Machinist?" inquired the Sharingan wielder upon reading the sign on one of the buildings.

"Builders of mechanical weaponry and steam engines and the like. Would you like to see what they do?"

"Why not? It'll pass the time until that crazy reptile lady finds me again."

The raven-haired youth stopped in his tracks as soon as he passed the threshold. Sasuke had never seen something so intriguing. Clockwork mechanisms powered by springs, steam-powered vehicles, chakra-powered flashlights, the list went on and on.

The shadow clones that were within perception range of their Rabosugans could see the look of wonder and interest on Sasuke's face. It seemed that the Uchiha had found a hobby. The raven-haired youth asked the Nu in charge if he could apprentice under him. The Nu shrugged and said "Why the Nuuuuu not?"

"Land ho!" called out the sailor in the crow's nest.

Naruto smirked as he saw the northernmost island in the chain known as Sea Country. He was on deck with the handful of other passengers observing the beauty of the water. He frowned when he spotted a creature approaching the ship below the waves. It was coming in from under the glare of the sun reflecting off of the ocean. It was humanoid, female, and fish-like. And it was carrying waterproof explosive tags in a satchel.

"Captain!" called out Naruto as he created a few clones to protect the passengers. "Incoming from below!"

At that point, the Jinchuuriki dove into the water, gating in the Kusanagi and holding it in his mouth (which he practiced during the time he built Zeal). As soon as he was submerged, he formed a cone-shaped Rasengan in each hand and on the soles of his feet, propelling him quickly and accurately towards the fish woman like a torpedo. He turned his head and swung at her with the poisonous sword. She dodged the blow in an admirable feat of underwater agility, but then, she hadn't been the true target. The pack of explosive notes she had been carrying had not been so lucky and was sliced in twain, ruining the seals necessary for the tags to work properly.

Unfortunately, Naruto couldn't stop or turn easily in the water (one of the things he was still trying to figure out), so he overshot the fish woman. As he tried to slow down, he noticed two things: one, there was a fish MAN in the water headed straight for him, and two, the fish woman seemed to be panicking at the sight of Naruto wielding the Kusanagi in his mouth. Maybe she recognized the sword and thought he was Orochimaru? He could work with that. Maybe.

His time for contemplation was cut short as the fish man kicked him in the ribs, forcing the air contained in his lungs to be expelled and causing him to let go of his sword. Reflexively, he gated the Kusanagi out so he would not lose it. Knowing his time underwater had just been cut down to half a minute, he cast an Ice spell over each of his fists, one of which impacted the fish man and knocked him away. However, Naruto's speed began to increase gradually as the frozen water pulled him towards the surface just as planned. As Naruto's head broke the surface, he realized that he had a large concentration of nitrogen bubbles in his bloodstream before he passed out an incredible distance away from the ship.

"Well, damn," muttered the captain. "If I had known he was a ninja, I'd have charged him extra..."

One of the clones raised its eyebrow at that remark.

Sasuke looked curiously up at one of the floating landmasses that was disconnected from Zeal. It looked somewhat familiar.

"What is that?" he asked the master machinist, a Nu named Gideon.

"That is Wave, nuuuuu," replied the blue creature. "Naruto-dono found some ruins to a ninja village when he was building Zeal. Nuuuuu. He figured he'd preserve it to go through later."

"Couldn't he just see it all with those eyes of his?" the young man postulated.

"Nuuuuu, too many seals, apparently. A lot of them were storage seals, and some were seals that were designed to prevent a Hyuuga from looking through the materials they were placed on."

"Hn," grunted Sasuke. So it has some common weaknesses with the Byakugan. We'll have to watch for that.

Tsunade was visiting Rock Lee in the Tokigakure General Hospital to instruct Naruto's clones in how to heal the poor boy.

"Your curative magic is odd in that it automatically seeks out damage and tries to repair it."

"I suppose it would be, considering how much conscious control your technique requires."

Another clone spoke up. "Though it does have the advantage of being entirely controllable. The spells may attempt to heal damage like Lee's in a wrong way as they do certain actions without direction whenever an injury is detected."

"By the way," a third clone said. "The real me got himself knocked out. He's fine though - shadow clones were able to ensure he made it to shore and are keeping a lookout for enemies."

"You know this because... ?" Tsunade asked.

"One of the clones dispelled and shared the information with the rest of us."

That came as a surprise to the slug sannin. As far as she knew shadow clones sent information only to their creator, not to their fellow clones.

Naruto awakened in a strange bed stuffed with straw and smelling of sea salt. One of his clones immediately dispelled as soon as it determined he was conscious.

So I was "rescued" by a crazy old lady, huh?

Seems like it. Also, that ship made it to port safely.

Without moving a muscle the bronze-blond-turned-brunette turned his attention towards the side of the wooden hut, where the aforementioned crazy old lady was sitting and calmly sharpening a fishing spear.

"Crazy, stupid ninja," she muttered. "He may have scared away the fish people. I wonder if fish people taste like tilapia? Or chicken?"

After a second's hesitation Naruto opened his mouth. "I have it on good authority that they taste like algae."

"Pity," the woman lamented. "So, awake, are you?"

Feeling mischievous, he decided to see just how crazy she was. "Naw, I'm still asleep. Just dreaming."

She blinked for a second, before she laughed. "I may be old and insane, but even I can recognize bullshit when I hear it."

Naruto chuckled as he sat upright just to notice that he was stark naked under the heavy blanket she had placed over him. He could see his clothing and other gear drying outside the hut despite the fact his eyes were closed.

"Interesting eyes you have," commented the old woman. "All glowy and stuff."

"All the better to see you with," responded the man, not missing a beat.

"A wolf-man, are you?"

Naruto chuckled. "Not so much, no. I do know of a family of them that work for Konoha though."

"Ninja. Right." She eyed him speculatively. "What village are you from? I don't recognize the symbol."

Naruto opened his eyes and, despite not needing to, turned his head to make eye-contact. "Toki."

The headband marking that Spekkio had designed for him resembled the final quarter of a clock face, showing the time 11:56 pm, four minutes to midnight.

"So, does your village hide inside a clock?"

The container for Lavos got the distinct impression she was making fun of him. He recast his genjutsu over his eyes, turning them into a boring, forgettable brown before he corrected her.

"No, it hides inside of time itself."

"Ah. It would be silly if you hid it inside a clock."

"Yes. Yes it would."

The old lady's name was Sakaki - no surname. Sakaki had apparently gone over the deep end after her fisherman husband had died thirty years ago, and she knew it. She lived away from the village partially because she had been run out of it and partially because she didn't want to hurt anyone else.

Naruto was grateful for her assistance, though he neglected to let her know it was unnecessary as he had clones looking out for him. He bid her farewell, telling her that he'd visit from time to time in the future. For all his changes, Naruto was still a kind man at heart.

Seeing the fish woman within the range of his Rabosugan, he changed his transformation back to his real self and reapplied the genjutsu on his eyes before gating near her location.

While she looked fairly different, the girl was the same fish woman. Most of her scales had disappeared and the ones that hadn't were covered with bandages. She was carrying a bag of fresh fruit with her.

He was planning on spying on her and catching her for information when something happened that shocked his system. A group of villagers started throwing rocks at the fish woman and yelling at her.

"Die! Monster!" A rock hit her in the shoulder, spinning her around and causing her to drop the bag of groceries, spilling the produce everywhere.

"Freak!" Another stone hit her in the kneecap, cracking the vital bone slightly.

Without thinking, he reacted and caught a particularly large rock that was sailing towards her head, causing the fish woman to gasp. Naruto frowned and crushed the stone one-handed. He proceeded to glare at the unruly mob. Noticing that the villagers were beginning to pick up more rocks to throw, he temporarily dispelled the genjustu on his eyes, showing them in all their unnatural glory and hitting them hard with focused killing intent, before reapplying the illusion.

This spooked the mob enough for them to disperse quietly. Naruto turned to the fish girl, quickly analyzing her cracked kneecap. He offered her his hand to help her up.

She tentatively took it. She stumbled a bit when she put her weight on her left leg, but the bronze-blond caught her quickly.

"Careful!" he admonished softly. "Looks like your left leg sustained some damage. You can't really walk home now, can you?"

"No," she muttered. "I can't." She knew she couldn't lead this nice stranger to the lab.

Naruto growled a bit, but made sure it sounded human. "If I knew who exactly had thrown those rocks..."

Of course, he did actually know who had thrown them, and would visit prankful vengeance upon their heads when he had the time as retribution, but the girl couldn't know that.

"Well, I suppose you'll have to stay with me and my aunt Sakaki until you've healed. Does that sound alright?"

"I guess so..."

"I'm Toki, by the way."



Naruto's shadow clone was able to convey the plan to the crazy old woman. Liking the chance to meet one of the fish people, Sakaki quickly agreed to act as though she was Naruto's senile aunt.

After being shown how to make the simple machine by Gideon, Sasuke constructed his first rifle. Test-firing it proved how fast it was. The projectile, a metal ball, was about as fast as the fastest ninja Sasuke had managed to see with his two-tomoe Sharingan so far, but with his dojutsu active he could see how inaccurate the machine was. Perhaps if he could prevent the ball from tumbling wildly through the air... maybe if he put a spin on it? Also, the ball didn't have much mass to it and couldn't deal much damage when it actually hit the mark, as shown by the fact that the projectile was merely lodged into the surface of the wooden target instead of punching through. Hmm... perhaps if the composition of the powder could be changed somehow... Also, couldn't one change the shape of the bullet to make it heavier and more aerodynamic? And one last thing: the rate of fire was far too slow to be effective in battle.

When he presented these theories to Gideon, the Nu laughed. "Nuhuhuhuhu! You have figured out the problems with the simple black-powder rifle! And after only one test run! Most apprentices take weeks to figure them all out! Nuuuuu, I'm glad you are my apprentice, Sasuke."

The strange, blue creature yawned before continuing. "Tomorrow I shall teach you about rifling, smokeless powder, shaped bullets, chambered shells, and automatic re-chambering mechanisms. But... time for me to go to bed, Nuuuuu."

Before Sasuke could object, the door to the workshop closed in his face.

"Hn," grunted the young Uchiha, frustrated with how rude the master machinist was at times.

He suddenly ducked, barely dodging a high roundhouse kick Anko tried to nail him with.

"Enough playing with toys!" she declared. "Time to play with me!"

Sasuke muttered an obscenity under his breath while dodging the Reptite summoner's kill strikes.

End Chapter Eight.

Next Chapter: secrets are discovered.

Author's Notes

GAH! This was a pain in the neck to push out. Hence why it is so short. I will expand this chapter at a later date... if I remember.

Reasons why this chapter (or anything I tried to write recently) got delayed so long: 1) power cord for the laptop died in March and had to be replaced and it took until early May to get it replaced, 2) got really distracted in May by going to Phoenix ComiCon, 3) work hours are $#!7 as is the pay and that depresses me, 4) other authors kept distracting me with really good fanfics, 5) I became a brony and was distracted by all that, and 6) some people accused my wife of plagiarism and the flamewar that started because she tried to be professional about the accusations and attacks have pissed me off beyond belief.

Things that any of you happen to care about from the above list: none.

With that out of the way, I would like to thank Dumbledork for dealing with my insane ramblings and correcting my mistakes (and helping me from time to time with the plot).

And yes, because I am part of the herd of bronies, I will be writing a FiM fic at some point in the future. You do not have to read it - no one is forcing you to. But it will be written by me and posted by me. If your day is brightened after reading it, YOU CAN NOT BLAME ME!

Ahem. Now to go watch "Party of One".