Darkness, wherever he looked there was ever lasting darkness and nothing else. He couldn't even see his hands or anything else because of the darkness that surrounded him. It was strange, as he had no memory of how he got here. Not only that, but he couldn't remember anything else as well including any of his past. The only thing he could remember was that his name. Any further thoughts were interrupted when something wet hit him and light started to enter his vision.
"Good to see you are dead there kid, you had us all worried," smiled an elderly woman as she watched the boy slowly sit up.
"What happened to the darkness?" coughed the boy as his beautiful sky blues eyes squinted at so much light flooding his vision.
"Huh? What did you say there boy? You'll have to speak up as my hearing isn't as good as it used to be," yelled the old lady, causing the boy to wince at the increased volume.
"Where am I?" asked the boy while standing up and looking at himself. The last thing he remembered was being surrounded by everlasting darkness, but now it seemed he was in a completely different place.
"Poor thing, it must be horrible dying so young. Come with me to my small home over there and I will explain everything to you," smiled the old woman, as she started to walk over to a small cot in the distance.
The boy couldn't think of any reason not to follow her so calmly walked after her to the small cot. He took this time to study his surroundings and noticed that he was an isolated place as there were forests on all sides surrounding them while a small streamed ran through the area. How did he get here and why was he here? These were just a few of the many questions that ran through his mind as he entered the small, yet cozy cot.
"Just take a seat child, I will go get us some tea," smiled the old woman before heading towards the kitchen.
The boy didn't need to be told twice and took a seat at the only table in the room while waiting for the old woman to return. He didn't have to wait long before she came out with a small tray with two cups and a pot of tea.
"Here you go lad, this will perk you right up as it is home made," chuckled the old woman as she poured them both a cup.
"Thank you," said the boy as he looked at the liquid with a blank expression. He looked up to see the woman drink some of the strange liquid and decided to follow her example. It tasted strange, but it wasn't a bad. The only problem was that he felt nothing as he drank the liquid, absolutely nothing at all. His thirst wasn't quenched and it seemed to just disappeared before reaching his stomach.
"Now child, you wish to know where you are and since you are a new spirit from the looks of things, I will explain a few things to you, but first. Could you please tell me your name?" smiled the old woman as she poured herself another cup of tea.
"My name," repeated the boy slowly. The old woman just smiled and nodded her head in encouragement.
"My name is Naruto, Uzumaki Naruto," said the boy.
Rukongai consisted of eighty different residential districts and was home to millions of souls. Depending on what district you were in, determined how good or life would be for that person. The closer to Soul society, or the lower the district number, the quality of life was usually better because there was more order enforced in the districts close to Soul Society. The higher the number of the district, the less order there was to the point where no laws or anything was enforced at all.
Soul Society was the place where all the Shinigami or shinigami in training stayed. It consisted of the Gotei 13, which is responsible for the cleansing of Hollows and making sure that souls make it to the Rukongai. They were also responsible for recruiting potential Shinigami from Rukongai.
Naruto had been living in Rukongai district 6 for the past year and had managed to integrate himself into there way of living rather quickly. He still looked to be around four or five, but that didn't mean he was by any means less of a threat to anyone. From the way he walked, talked, and how his eyes took in every little details, it was obvious to most that even though he is a child, that he could take care of himself in any situation. Many people in his district were put off by his cold behavior and impassive outlook on life. The boy just never seemed to show any emotion at all and the only person he really spoke to was the old lady he stayed with.
Still, he is greatly respected by the many shopkeepers and merchants because of all the helping out he does. He wouldn't go out of his way to help people, but he never turned down anyone who asked for his help, so long as they asked and didn't demand it of him. One merchant learned the hard way that Naruto did not take to being forced to do something very well. Many people who saw the incident couldn't get the image of a four year old child ripping off the offending arm of an arrogant merchant who thought to force the boy to help him move some of his supplies. What was even worse was that the boy had done so with little effort and his eyes remained as impassive as always throughout the ordeal.
Right now, Naruto was helping a merchant set up some of his goods on the street for people to buy. He calmly lifted boxes and items the heavier and larger them him with little to no strain. His unnatural strength was a great help to those that moved around lots of large items especially to the shopkeepers who needed help lifting barrels of rice for their customers.
"Thanks for the help kid, I appreciate it," smiled Han before reaching into his pocket and giving Naruto a small pouch with a few coins in it. Naruto just took the pouch and placed it inside his pants pocket without saying a word. He was about to leave, when heard some loud noises followed by laughing and looked towards the source of the sound. His eyes watched as a group of men wearing matching black robes and all had swords hanging off their hips.
"Damn, why those shinigami have to come and show up today," grumbled Han as he started to hide some of his more expensive items so that they wouldn't get broken.
"Shinigami? I thought they stayed within Soul Society," said Naruto as he watched the men cause all sorts of trouble.
"They do, but every once and awhile they come out here causing all sorts of trouble. They think just because they have those fancy swords that they are better then us," scowled Han.
"Hey you, what is with all this crap you are selling?" yelled the leader of the group of shinigami. He was a large man, with a large stomach that made up most of his mass and looked down at Han with a scowl on his face.
"These are just some jewelry and other fine items that are for sale. Would you perhaps like to purchase something?" answered Han politely.
"You must be joking, as if I would want to buy any of this cheap crap you are selling," laughed the large shinigami and his goons started to laugh as well.
Naruto frowned because if the man didn't want to buy anything then he should leave since he was blocking others from looking at the display. Normally, he wouldn't have cared, but he had offered to help Han the rest of the day and didn't want his time wasted dealing with these shinigami.
"If you are not hear to purchase anything then leave. There is no point in you being here any longer," said Naruto, causing the Shinigami to leave heated glares at him while Han started to sweat nervously.
"What did you say brat?" growled the large shinigami.
"Forgive him, he is just a child, and new to how things work," spluttered Han as he tried to calm them down.
"Do you know who I am? I am Tsep Ginyonna and twelfth seat of the Eleventh division," stated the large shinigami proudly.
"Teach that brat a lesson that no one messes with the Eleventh division," cheered the others.
"Please Shinigami-sama, he is just a child," pleaded Han desperately.
"Fine, then I will just have to teach you a lesson so that next time you will have taught the boy some better manners," grinned Tsep as he drew his sword then used it to destroy the cart containing all the items that Han and Naruto had set up.
"Ha-ha, that will teach you to mess with the Eleventh division," laughed the Tsep goons.
"Let's get going, I am starving," laughed Tesp, but just as he turned around he stopped as he noticed the boy from earlier blocking his path.
"This is how much each item cost that was damaged," said Naruto as he held out a slip of paper to the larger shinigami. Tsep just blinked before he and the others started to laugh hilariously as he ripped up the piece of paper.
"You're funny brat, but if you don't get out of my way then I am going to have to beat some manners into you," grinned Tsep as he fingered the hilt of his sword. Naruto just stood there without blinking and gazed up at Tsep through emotionless sky blue eyes.
"That's it brat, time for you to learn your place in this world," yelled Tsep as he cracked his knuckles then threw a strong punch right at the boy.
Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at what had happened in shock. Instead of the boy being crushed by the larger man's fist like they all assumed he would be, they looked on in awe as the small child, and caught the man's fist in his left hand.
"No way," gasped Tsep before his eyes narrowed in anger. Naruto stared into his eyes with the same look on his face that was always there, but it was easy to see that even though he blocked the man's fist that his arm was straining to hold the man for much longer.
"I do not like being touched," said Naruto slowly, before spiritual energy started to surround him and he pushed Tsep back with unreal power. Tsep stumbled backwards before falling to his ass and looked at Naruto with fear in his eyes.
"He just blocked his punch," stuttered one of the other shinigami.
"So much spiritual power it is unreal," gasped another. Tsep heard what they were saying and started to grow angrier as he had just been to look like a fool by some punk kid. No more playing around, it was time he showed this brat once and for all who was boss.
"I am going to crush you boy," growled Tsep as he quickly drew his zanpakuto and charged towards Naruto.
Naruto for the first time since anyone had known him, showed a hint of emotion as his eyes narrowed in anger, before a large blast of spiritual power exploded from his body that blew Tsep and anyone else within five feet of him backwards. He was about to take a step forward, but sensed someone behind him. His reflexes were too slow though and all he felt was a hard hit to the head before dropping to the ground unconscious.
"Captain Kuchiki," stuttered Tsep with wide eyes as he recognized the man standing over the fallen boy.
"Return to your division quarters now," said Captain Kuchiki with a cold look in his eyes.
"Hai Kuchiki-taicho, but," started Tsep, but was silenced as he noticed the sixth division's eyes narrow.
"I care not for your excuses as I will be reporting this behavior to your division captain. Now leave," interrupted Byakuya coldly. The shinigami just bowed respectfully then ran as quickly as they could back to Soul Society where they would await punishment for their actions.
'Hn,' thought Byakuya as he picked up the boy and tossed him over his shoulders. The child possessed a great deal of spiritual power, which meant he would be coming to Soul Society where he would learn to control and harness it as he learned to become a shinigami.
Darkness, once again Naruto found himself surrounded by complete darkness as he went over what had happened. The last thing he could remember was being overcome with this strange power while dealing with the large shinigami. It was strange because he had no idea where the power came from, but it felt comforting.
He didn't get to think further on the matter when he heard several voices and was taken away from the darkness he enjoyed so much. Light flooded his vision as he opened his eyes and found himself staring up at an unfamiliar ceiling. His head turned to the side and he took a good look at the people who were speaking about something called spiritual power. They must have noticed he was awake because they stopped talking and turned to face him with friendly smiles.
"Hello there, I didn't expect you to wake up so soon," smiled a woman with long black hair and that was twisted in a braid, which fell down to the middle of her stomach.
"Where am I?" asked Naruto as his emotionless sky blue yes bore into her own dark blue ones.
"You are currently staying within the Fourth division quarters in Soul Society. I am Unohana Retsu, Captain of the Fourth division of the Gotei 13," answered the woman as she checked him over.
"Why am I here? I thought only Shinigami were allowed in Soul Society," said Naruto.
"That is true, but we do allow those who show potential to be Shinigami to join Soul Society as well. You have a high level of spiritual power, which is why you were brought here," explained Unohana with a friendly smile.
"Does that mean I will be joining your ranks?" replied Naruto, not showing even the slightest of emotion at learning where he was or why he was there.
"That depends, you will first be sent to the Academy where you will be taught all about shinigami. After you learn the basics of what we do, you will be given a special sword, and should you be able bond with it then you will be allowed to continue your training as a potential shinigami. If you are not able to bond with the sword, then you will be sent back to the Rukongai district that you are from and we will visit you again in a few years to see if your shinigami powers are ready to manifest," explained Unohana.
"Are all the swords the same?" asked Naruto confused.
"The answer to that is yes and no. You see, every sword given to a potential Shinigami is the same. The swords are specially designed to bond with your shinigami powers, which transforms them into your own personal zanpakuto. So you see, every sword is the same until it bonds with someone then it becomes the zanpakuto of that user," smiled Unohana.
"I see," said Naruto as he processed all the information he was given.
Unohana was impressed that the child was able to understand everything that she had told him, but was worried about his lack of emotions. He just took everything in stride and not once did his body language change. It was as if he had a good grip on his emotions or he just didn't care about what was happening. She would keep a close eye on the child in the future as she wished to learn more about him.
"When will I be joining this Academy?" asked Naruto suddenly.
"Well, as soon as I give you a clean bill of health. Age doesn't really matter here as you may have noticed so even though you are younger then practically every other potential shinigami, it will not matter because all that matters is whether you can awaken your shinigami powers or not," answered Unohana.
"How will I get there?" said Naruto as he sat up and stretched out his arms. He noticed something different and looked down to see his body had changed. No longer did he looked to be four or five, but around eight or nine. This made him wonder what could have happened, but would have to ponder on it later as Unohana started to answer his question.
"Hmm, well, you are in perfect health so I can take you there right now if you like," replied Unohana as she put her clipboard down on a nearby table. Naruto nodded his head and swung his legs over the edge of the bed he had been sleeping in. He noticed he was moving awkwardly and realized he would have to get used to his new height and weight or he would be stumbling all over until he did.
"Follow me," smiled Unohana as she started to lead the way out of the Fourth division's quarters.
It had been a month since Naruto had brought to Soul Society and not much had changed in his life other then the fact that he now stayed in a dorm room by himself and he spent most of his day at a school for potential shinigami learning. The job that Shinigami did interested Naruto greatly for some reason that he really couldn't understand. There was just something about the being able to purify souls and travel between life and death that caught his interest. For someone who had no memory of ever being alive, he had often wondered what it was like and if it was any different from being dead.
Due to his desire to learn as much as possible about Shinigami and Hollows, Naruto was at the top of all his classes despite him being the youngest by twenty to forty years. It was a known fact that people aged slower in Rukongai and Soul Society so even though someone could technically look around sixteen or eighteen, the truth is they could very well be around fifty to hundred years old. This is why age wasn't an issue when it came to recruiting potential shinigami since no one really knew the true age of someone else and you couldn't guess it based on their appearance.
"That will be all for today class. Tomorrow will be your last day here and you will receive your zanpakuto. Not everyone is ready for their shinigami powers to manifest so don't be too disappointed if you are not able to bond with your sword," said the instructor before dismissing the class.
Naruto gathered up his things and calmly left the large classroom. He thought about whether he would succeed in bonding with the sword giving him and becoming a shinigami or not. Truthfully, it didn't bother him whether or not he became a shinigami. Sure, he desired to learn more about the real world and about everything else, but there were other ways to seek the knowledge he sought. Becoming a shinigami would make it easier, but there was always another way to seek the knowledge he desired.
"Knowledge isn't the only thing you seek," whispered a voice in his head.
Naruto paused in the middle of the hallway and looked around to see who had said that. The only problem was that there was no one else around him. His eyes narrowed, as he didn't like the idea of someone being able to spy on him without him knowing about it. He could sense another presence in the hallway with him, but was just unable to locate it.
"Don't worry, we will meet sooner then you think," said the same voice again, before disappearing completely.
This time Naruto couldn't feel any presence and his body relaxed. For the rest of the day, he would wonder who was speaking to him in that hallway and why he wasn't able to pinpoint there location.
"Unohana-taicho, why are we here?" asked Isane as she stood next to the woman who was like a mentor and mother to her. Isane possessed short silver hair with beautiful light brown eyes and is the current lieutenant of the Fourth division of the Gotei 13.
"Today is the day the current batch of shinigami potentials will receive their zanpakuto. There is one student in particular that I am interested in seeing what happens when he receives his," answered Unohana as she watched from the higher levels as all the shinigami potential started to enter the chamber where they would receive their zanpakuto or be forced to go back to the academy.
"I don't understand, why an academy student would interest you so much," replied Isane confused.
"There is just something different about him, and I wish to know more about him," said Unohana with a slight frown, as she remembered how different his spiritual energy was when she examined him.
"Which one is he?" asked Isane curiously. Now she was curious about this academy student because he had to be something interesting if he caught her captain's interest.
"He is sitting in the back right corner," gestured Unohana to the boy with cold blue eyes and wild, untamed spikey blond hair.
"Him, but he doesn't look to be very old at all," gasped Isane, as she was surprised to see someone so young.
"That's because he isn't, he has only been a soul for about two years now and in Soul Society for two months at tops," said Unohana with a small smile as Isane looked at her in disbelief.
"Impossible, there is no way he'll be able to activate his zanpakuto if he is so young. Not even Hitsuuyga-taicho was that young when he became a shinigami," spluttered Isane.
"Yes, he is very unique in more ways then any of us could imagine," said Unohana softly, as she watched as the boy's name was called to receive his sword.
"Uzumaki Naruto," called out the instructor.
Naruto calmly stood up and made his way down to the instructor. The instructor nodded at him and gestured for him to take one of the blades resting against the wall. They were all the same so it didn't matter so Naruto didn't waste time looking them all over like some of the others had. He calmly grabbed a sword and the moment he did, his spiritual energy shot up around him causing a small wind that blew his instructor stumbling backwards. It only lasted for a few moments, before settling down and everyone brought their arms down from protecting their face to see Naruto placing the sword in his sash.
"Thanks," stuttered the instructor, as Naruto held out his hand to help him up.
"Well, congratulations, you may head back to your dorm where you will receive a new schedule for your training to be a shinigami," congratulated the instructor. Naruto just nodded his head at the man before taking his leave, not bothered by the fact that everyone was staring at him with a bit of awe or jealously.
"Amazing, his spiritual power is unreal for someone so young," stuttered Isane with wide eyes.
"Yes, I expected something like this to happen when he received his zanpakuto," said Unohana as she kept her face neutral. She didn't bring out the fact that she felt something different about his spiritual power. It felt kind of what a hollow's power felt like it, but much darker and no evil intent in it.
'What are you Uzumaki Naruto?' thought Unohana with a worried look in her eyes.
Darkness, once again Naruto found himself surrounded by darkness. Like always, he enjoyed the comfort the darkness always seemed to supply him. Unfortunately, his relaxation was interrupted the darkness cleared away and he soon found himself stand in front of a very large castle. This place reeked of darkness and his eyes soon stared up into the full moon whose light illuminated the sky and the castle.
'Beautiful,' thought Naruto as he stared up at the full moon. Something about this place felt like home and filled him with energy. He couldn't ever remember ever feeling so relaxed.
"I see you have finally arrived," said a familiar voice.
"So, it was you who spoke to me the other day. How is it you were able to speak to me before we even bonded?" said Naruto as he didn't bother looking for the source of the voice since his zanpakuto would reveal himself to him when he wanted to.
"We are connected through the darkness, but do not worry about that now. You are still not ready to know everything yet," said the voice.
"What is your name?" asked Naruto as he changed the subject. A light laughter was heard before Naruto started to hear some footsteps from behind him.
"You are not ready to hear my name, but I will let you see what I look like," said the voice as Naruto turned around to see a tall man come out of the shadows.
The man was around six feet tall, possessed long silver hair that fell down to the middle of his back with two long strands that came down in front on either side of his face down to his neck, and had piercing light brown eyes. His black robes blended in perfectly with the darkness behind him and there was a light smirk adorning his face.
"A pleasure to meet you, Uzumaki Naruto," smirked the man. The two of them just stared into each other's eyes, both analyzing the others while betraying no emotion on their face.
Five Years Later
'This weapon, it doesn't feel right,' thought Naruto as he finished going through his katas.
He had been staying in Soul Society for the past five years and had been training the four types of shinigami arts since he had gained his zanpakuto. Just like when he was learning the basic history of shinigami, Naruto became the top of his classes, and even skipped a few years to the advanced classes. When it came to the Shinigami arts, Naruto excelled at them all, except for kenjutsu, which he was merely proficient at, but not at the top of his class.
The two areas that he was top of his class at were Kido and Agility. Kido is a type of magic that involves long incantations and focusing ones spiritual power to perform spells. It was broken up into two categories, destructive spells and binding spells. Destructive spells were used for directly attacking, while binding spells, were used to restrain or defensive abilities. Naruto seemed to have a gift for destructive spells as he could use any Kido destructive spell up to level 40 without much of a problem. He didn't even need to say the whole incantation for most of the spells he knew. When it came to binding spells, he was second in his class, but that didn't bother them him because he wasn't trying to be the best in everything. All he wanted was to learn as much as he could, which is why he always paid close attention to the lessons.
Agility was the second area that he was top in the class in. This mostly had to deal with learning the basics of shunpo and was taught along with their kenjutsu lessons. Naruto was the only one in the class who could perform shunpo, but he still needed to work on his aim and distance.
In hand-to-hand combat Naruto was second in the class, but that was mostly because of his incredible strength. No many students, including the instructors, could take a direct hit from Naruto. Combined with his ever increasing speed, Naruto was a major threat to anyone who came within range of his fists. Of course, his height and weight worked against him because even though he had aged in the past five years, he was still the shortest person in his class. He looked to be only around eleven or twelve, but that didn't seem to bother him even if others in his class made fun of him behind his back because of young he looked.
The only real problem Naruto had, was his kenjutsu. For some reason he just had trouble handing a sword and no matter what he did, he just couldn't find any rhythm with it. He was ninth in the class when it came to kenjutsu, but he knew he could do better with a different weapon. The teacher's noticed how uncomfortable he was wielding a sword and the only advice they could offer him was to hope that his released form of a zanpakuto would be something other then a sword. It was disappointing, but Naruto wouldn't let it bother him too much because he had other strengths he could rely on.
"Naruto-kun, I see you are out here training again," said a familiar voice that caused the boy to pause in his steps. He turned his head to see the beautiful Captain of the Fourth division walking towards him.
"Unohana-taicho," greeted Naruto with a nod of his head. He was not surprised to see the woman since she had made a habit of visiting him at least once a month these past five years. The woman never told him the exact reason why she visited him so much, but he did find her company to be soothing in a way. She was probably the only person he spoke to and actually didn't mind spending time with.
"Now Naruto-kun, I have told you in the past that you do not need to be so formal with me," smiled Unohana as she came up besides the boy.
"That wouldn't be respectful," replied Naruto as if they had had this conversation many times in the past.
"Sometimes you can be so frustrating," glared Unohana playfully. Over the five years, she had become extremely close to the boy who had caught her interest with his strange spiritual power. At first, she was merely trying to get to know Naruto and hoped to learn more about his unique power, but after a time she had really taken to the boy.
He may be cold and emotionless on the outside, but once she took the time to get to know him she realized that he was very intelligent and wise beyond his years. The truth was, he didn't know much about people or how to interact with them, which is why he seemed so cold. It was because he didn't know how to express himself and Unohana was trying her best to help him learn to interact with others better.
"I apologize, I did not mean to upset you," apologized Naruto, not knowing that she was only teasing him.
"Never mind how is your training going? I have been hearing good things about you," smiled Unohana as she changed the subject.
"Everything is fine, but I am still having some trouble with the level 50 and higher destructive spells though my bind spells are getting better," said Naruto.
"That isn't too surprising, though I know you have excellent control when it comes to your spiritual power, destructive spells above level 60 are hard even for Captains," confessed Unohana.
"I understand, but until I learn how to activate my shikai, my main weapon against Hollows will be Kido spells. Learning to master as many as I can along with being able to use them efficiently is a top priority," explained Naruto.
"You seem so sure you will be in a squad that actively hunts and purifies Hollows. Does this mean you don't want to join my squad?" teased Unohana and her eyes lit up in victory as the corners of Naruto's lips curved into a small smirk before returning to its neutral expression.
"I haven't given it much though, but I suppose it is a possibility," conceded Naruto as he glanced up at the woman.
"Well you better start to learn how to use Kido for healing then because I don't like having slackers in my division," smiled Unohana.
"I will remember that Unohana-taicho," replied Naruto with a small smile.
"Good, now how is your kenjutsu going?" asked Unohana.
"Better, but a sword doesn't seem to fit my fighting style very well. When I am finally able to obtain shikai, I am sure I will have a much easier time wielding my zanpakuto effectively in a fight," answered Naruto with a slight frown, as he was upset by is lack of progress in kenjutsu.
"I am sure it will, as a zanpakuto is a representation of ones soul, and usually lends you the power you desire," stated Unohana. Naruto just nodded his head in agreement with Unohana's statement.
"Ok, that will be enough of that, as it is time to get something to eat. Would you care to join me?" smiled Unohana warmly.
"Hai Unohana-taicho," said Naruto as he followed besides the woman towards the Fourth division where she would always make them some food.
"Once again a new batch of shinigami will be joining our ranks and it is time to discuss who should go in which division," said Yamamoto as he addressed his twelve fellow captains.
"As long as you don't give me a bunch of wimps then I don't care," grinned Kenpachi.
"I would like to nominate Uzumaki Naruto for the Fifth division," said Aizen, causing everyone to give him their attention.
"I wouldn't mind having that brat in my division. I heard he has almost mastered Shunpo and hasn't even become an official shinigami yet," said Yoruichi with a cat-like grin on her face.
"No, he prefers fighting with Kido spells then he does hand-to-hand or with a sword so he will not be going to either Second or Eleventh division," replied Yamamoto.
"The Fifth or Ninth division seems the ideal choice to place him," said Unohana as she offered her opinion. Aizen smiled inwardly at that because the boy being placed in the ninth division worked for him as well.
General Yamamoto noticed that no one else objected to this so was about to tell Aizen, Uzumaki Naruto would join his ranks, when he was interrupted by a small cough.
"Forgive me, but I think he would be best suited for my division," said Kisuke cheerfully.
"Your division?" repeated Yoruichi with a raised eyebrow, since her friend had never personally requested someone be placed in his division before. Aizen narrowed his eyes slightly because he was wondering what the man was up to.
"Why would he be best suited for your division?" asked Hitsuuyga, as he was curious by Kisuke's actions as well.
"Well, it is for the simple fact that he loves learning things. I believe Unohana-san will agree with me on this," smiled Kisuke.
"Unohana?" asked Yamamoto as he turned to look at the woman.
"I have spent quite some time with the boy over the years and Urahara-san is correct. Uzumaki-san enjoys learning new things and developing better ways to improve his existing skills. I agree with Urahara-san and believe the boy would be well suited for the Twelfth division," stated Unohana.
"Hmm, if he is truly a prodigy as the instructors to claim him to be then he could do a lot of good for Soul Society in the Twelfth division," said Yamamoto thoughtfully.
"Got my vote Kisuke," shrugged Kyoraku, as he pulled a bottle of sake and started to drink.
"He would make a fine addition to your division," agreed Ukitake with a nod of his head towards Yamamoto.
"Very well, Uzumaki shall join the Twelfth division should he pass his final graduation test. Now, let us move onto to the others," stated Yamamoto firmly.
'No matter, I am sure I can manipulate him to join me through other means,' thought Aizen as he pushed his glasses up slightly.
"Ok listen up, today is the day that determine whether you pass or fail. You will all be sent out to an abandoned area in the Human World where you will be responsible for hunting down and purifying one D-ranked Hollow. We will only be sending out a certain amount of people to each specific area. You are allowed to work together as a team or individually, the choice is yours, but if you run into trouble, then sent out an emergency kido flare. The other proctors in the area that will be watching over you will come right away to find you and remove you from the exercise," explained the instructor.
"Are there any questions?" asked the instructor. When no one spoke up, the instructor started to call out names and break everyone up into groups.
Naruto was in the second group and was standing by himself as all the others seemed to know each other and decided to team up. They didn't bother to ask him because they were either scared to or still resented the fact that he younger then them yet still just as skilled or more so. It didn't bother Naruto though because he would pass this test with or without help.
"Alright group two, the moment you step through this portal the exercise begins so be on your guard," said the instructor as he used his zanpakuto to open a portal to the Human World.
Naruto was the first to step through the gateway, which caused the others to snap out of their nervousness and quickly go through as well. There pride wouldn't allow them to get shown up by some kid, even though he had beat each of them several times in one of the many spars throughout their academy years.
'Hmm, so this is the Human World. It feels much different,' thought Naruto as he came out of the portal and gazed at his surroundings.
It was nighttime out and there was a full moon in the sky. All around him were abandoned buildings that looked like they hadn't had people stay in them in quite some time. This confused him because he heard the Human World was overpopulated yet here he was, and he couldn't sense anything living in his current area.
"Pay attention, I refuse to die in such a place because you were being careless," ordered Naruto's zanpakuto.
"Let us finish this quickly then," replied Naruto as he jumped up onto the nearest building and opened his senses completely. He had no idea what a Hollow's spiritual power felt like since he had never encountered one before, but according to everything he read on them. Their signature was much more malevolent then a human or shinigami's signature. The one thing he did notice was that the others in his group headed in the opposite direction of him as he felt their signatures growing weaker the farther away from the gateway he moved.
"Above you," said the zanpakuto.
Naruto quickly did a back flip and drew his zanpakuto in mid-air before landing on his feet while two Hollows crashed into the spot he was in a second ago. He immediately got into a defensive stance as the Hollows realized they missed him and roared in anger. One Hollow looked like a giant Bird with razor sharp claws and teeth while the other looked like some deformed blob.
"Food," yelled the Hollows as they flew at him.
They were moving so slow and he could barely feel any power coming off them at all. He was greatly disappointed because he had thought this test would be harder, but it seems D-ranked Hollows truly were weak as can be. Naruto calmly raised his left hand and pointed his point finger, which was glowing red from his spiritual power, right at the bird hollow.
"Strike," whispered Naruto. A thin, two-inch thick red beam, burst out of his finger and struck the bird hollow right in the chest. Strike was a level 9 binding spell that engulfed whatever it hit in a red light and paralyzed them completely. The hollows were so weak that Naruto doubted he needed to say the incantation, but did so anyway just to be sure. It was better to be safe then to be dead.
Deciding it was best to conserve further spiritual power, he dodged to the side then delivered a quick slash to the second hollow. It didn't even stand a chance as its whole body was cut in half and it disappeared. Naruto turned to see the bird hollow was still bound and calmly jumped into the air at it before slicing its mask in half.
"Pathetic," scowled the zanpakuto.
'Test completed, no point in staying here any longer,' said Naruto as he headed back in the direction from which he came. When he was about half-way to the portal, he felt a large surge of spiritual power that felt remarkable like the Hollows he just purified, but much stronger and more of them. He looked off in the distance to see about ten Hollows chasing after one of the people that were in his group.
'These Hollows are not D-class, and are at least B-class,' thought Naruto as he headed off to help his fellow peer. He knew it may be foolish to take on a group of B-class Hollows especially when he had slim to no experience fighting such beings, but he wanted to learn more about them. There spiritual power felt similar to his own in a way and he was hoping to learn more about them so he foolishly went to engage them.
"Help," yelled the shinigami with eyes wide in fear. Naruto stopped a good distance in front of the man and started to gather his spiritual power.
"Destructive Art # 33: Blue Fire, Crash Down," yelled Naruto as he held out his left hand with his palm faced towards the middle of the group of Hollows. A large blue fireball made of spiritual power shot out of his palm at high speeds towards the group of Hollows just as they were about to each take a bite out of the shinigami creating a huge explosion as it hit them.
"Get a safe distance away and the send up a Kido flare. I will hold them until reinforcements arrive," said Naruto as the man ran up to him.
"Right," spluttered the shinigami quickly before running off at high speeds. A loud roar was heard and out of the dust caused by Naruto's kido spell, came several Hollows that had managed to avoid being hit by the spell. Naruto eyes narrowed as he noticed that there were still eight C and B-class Hollows left that were heading straight for him.
"Take out the weak ones first," ordered the zanpakuto.
'I expected that last spell to do more damage then that, but it seems the difference in power levels is greater then I thought,' replied Naruto as he started to jump from building to building to dodge the Hollows attacking him.
"Still think that learning more about your opponents is worth risking your life?" said the zanpakuto.
'Knowledge is just as powerful a weapon as any sword or spell,' said Naruto before jumping straight into the air to as the building crumbled to the ground.
"Ha-ha, foolish Shinigami, die!" yelled one of the hollows.
Naruto quickly used his sword to cut right through the Hollow's body, but was unprepared for the attack coming at him from the side. He grunted in pain as a large tail slapped him to the ground with incredible force. His entire back flared in unimaginable pain, but he quickly pushed in to the back of his mind as he rolled to the right to avoid being eaten by another Hollow.
'Seven left,' groaned Naruto as he raised his left hand into the air and chanted his next kido spell.
"Destructive Art #31: Red Flame Cannon," announced Naruto before a red ball of spiritual energy destroyed the Hollow that was coming down at him. Now he had only six Hollows left to defeat, but his spiritual energy were low from using two mid-level kido spells.
The Hollows started to swarm around Naruto in a circle as the boy was panting heavily from exertion. He had managed to take out four of them, but now he was at the last of his strength. Two of his ribs were broken and he was bleeding profusely from his right side where one of the Hollows managed to graze him with their claws. Just as they were about to attack him, Naruto found himself back on top of the highest tower at a familiar looking castle.
"Tell me child, do you truly believe that knowledge is the way to ultimate power and worth dying for?" asked the man, as his eyes were lit up in amusement.
"Yes, it is only through knowledge that one is able to gain true power," replied Naruto without hesitation.
"Do you truly desire power so much or perhaps it is something else you seek?" smirked the man knowingly.
"I don't know what it is I seek yet, but I do know that the only way I will find out is by learning as much as I can. I will find whatever is I am looking for and I refuse to die until I have all the answers I seek," said Naruto with a hard look in his eyes. One could easily see the conviction in his eyes and knew that he would do what it took to achieve his goals.
"You are ready, to use my strength. Together, we will find the answers you seek so much," smirked the man.
"What is your name?" asked Naruto.
The Hollows were just about to tear Naruto limb from limb when a huge burst of spiritual power exploded from the boy and sent them all flying back into the buildings behind them. Black spiritual energy swirled around Naruto as his eyes glowed a bright blue while his right hand raised his sword up slowly. He then began to speak and his voice rung loud and clear.
"Give me the power of everlasting darkness, Xemnas!" yelled Naruto before his spiritual power skyrocketed even further. The zanpakuto in Naruto's hands disappeared completely and the boy stood up straight as he ignored his injuries. He slowly raised his arms up and flexed both of his hands before holding them out at 45 degrees from his body. In an instant, two red beams appeared in each of his hands and glowed fiercely.
"There is nothing more you can learn from these beasts, destroy them," said Xemnas.
Naruto didn't bother to respond and merely took off at the nearest two Hollows. He was in front of them before they could snap out of their fear of his new power and dispersed in two clean swipes. Then, in one swift motion he did a complete 180 with each beam held out parallel to the ground. When he finished his spin, the Hollow that tried to sneak up on him, dispersed into nothingness, and now only three more were left.
"Destructive Art# 4: White Lightning," said Naruto as a beam of lightning charged spiritual energy shot out of his right fingers and destroyed the Hollow coming at him from that side. Usually, a low-level spell like that wouldn't work on a B-class Hollow, but he had poured a great deal of power in the spell that obliterated the mask of the Hollow along with its head.
'My spiritual power is too low, and my body is becoming strained from moving around for so long while injured,' groaned Naruto as he fell down to a knee. He still had enough power left for one high-level kido spell, but it was an all or nothing deal. If he missed or they moved out of the way he would be took weak, but to accept death so he had to make it count. Chances are he would be causing significant damage to himself as well since he really couldn't control the particular spell he had in mind all that well.
Strange, he had read in moments like these, most people started to fear for their lives, but he felt nothing. Just like always, he felt absolutely nothing at all. It was something he would ponder on later after he had healed from this whole ordeal.
The two Hollows roared loudly as they came within several feet of the wounded shinigami. They usually would have ran away in fear of their lives, but they believed he was too injured to continue any further and was nothing more then a sitting duck. This was a mistake they would never get to make again as Naruto raised both his hands and chanted another spell with the last of his power put into it.
"Destructive Art#63: Thunder Roar Cannon," said Naruto before a huge explosion rocked the area.
'Ugh,' groaned Naruto in pain as his body finally came to a stop after skidding and tumbling across the ground for about ten to fifteen feet. The last he heard were several voices heading towards him before he blacked out.
"I must admit, that was very foolish of you, but it worked well," said Xemnas as he stood before Naruto.
"It was my only option, if I had used a mid-level spell I might not have taken out both of them and then I would be dead for sure," replied Naruto.
"Ha-ha, perhaps working with you won't be so dull after all," smirked Xemnas before they started to talk about what little they learned about Hollows from their recent engagement.
Naruto slowly opened his eyes and found himself staring at a ceiling that he had not seen in five years, since the last time he had been here. He could feel his body was still sore from his fight with those Hollows so he took his time sitting up. His zanpakuto was leaning against the wall next to his bed and there were a pair of clothes for him to wear in the chair against the far wall. With careful ease, as not to reopen any of his wounds, he slowly got out of bed and headed over to the chair to put on his clothes.
The whole right part of his chest was bandages up along with his right arm and his head as well. He found himself limping as he made his way over to his clothes and even grimaced slightly in pain as he put them on.
'Performing that last kido spell did more damage to me then I thought it would,' grimaced Naruto as he finished tying the sash around his clothes. He didn't get to think more on the matter when the door to his room opened up and in walked the vice-captain of the Fourth division with a surprised look on her face as she saw him out of bed.
"How are you up and about? You should be out for at least two more days," gasped Isane as Naruto looked at her impassively.
"Isane-chan, why are you standing in the doorway like that?" said a beautiful voice from behind the woman.
"Um, sorry Taicho, but I was just surprised to see Uzumaki-san already awake and out of bed," apologized Isane as she entered the room with Unohana following behind her.
"Uzumaki-san, I am surprised to see you awake, but you should really be in bed. Your wounds have not fully healed and I don't want you to reopen them," smiled Unohana.
"Forgive me Unohana-taicho, I meant no disrespect, but I am feeling fine," bowed Naruto respectfully. Isane was impressed, because most people didn't respect the Fourth division since they were the healers and not the fighters of Soul Society. This boy seemed to have a great deal of respect for her taicho and that instantly made her like him.
"You are not feeling fine, I can tell by the way you are standing, and your right arm is still heavily burned from that last kido spell you used," glared Unohana lightly before pointing at the bed and Naruto clearly got the message as he sat back down on the bed. He leaned his back against the wall so that he wasn't lying on his back, but sitting up in the bed.
"I did not expect that last kido spell to do that much damage to me in the resulting backlash," explained Naruto, causing both women to look at him incredulously.
"Didn't expect that last kido spell to do that much damage? You used a number 63 Destructive Art at close range, you are lucky to even be alive especially," yelled Isane in disbelief at Naruto.
"My fuku-taicho is right, it was rather foolish of you to use such a high level kid spell as well as taking on ten Hollows ranging between low C-class to mid B-class in power," frowned Unohana. Naruto didn't bother to reply to that because his reasons for doing that were his own so remained silent.
"How much trouble am I in for using such a powerful kido spell?" asked Naruto as he changed the subject.
"I will go check on the others," bowed Isane as she left the room as she could tell her taicho wished to speak with the boy alone.
"Not much, you did save the life of a fellow shinigami and take out ten Hollows that would be mainly reserved for seated offices so you will only be getting off with a small slap on the wrist," answered Unohana truthfully, with a small smile.
"I do believe congratulations are in order though as you have finally graduated from the academy and are now an official shinigami," congratulated Unohana with a beautiful smile.
"Thank you," said Naruto gratefully.
"This belongs to you," smiled Unohana as she pulled out a small envelope and handed it to Naruto. Naruto took the letter and opened it calmly.
"So I will be joining the Twelfth division as the 10th seated officer," said Naruto as a pleased look appeared on his face.
"I take it you are pleased with the division you got in?" chuckled Unohana, as she realized that Naruto seemed to be have trouble smiling before going back to his neutral expression.
"Hai, I was hoping to be inducted in the Twelfth division as it will allow me access to more classified items," said Naruto with an anxious look in his eyes. That look in his eyes worried Unohana and she was now starting to regret giving her vote to Urahara.
"Please be careful, I don't want you pushing yourself to hard to learn everything," said Unohana with a soft smile. Naruto saw the look Unohana was giving him because he had never seen her look so distressed before. He wondered what it could have upset, but nonetheless nodded his head at the woman.
Twelfth Division: Research and Scientific division
It had been two more days until Naruto had recovered from his injuries and Unohana allowed him to leave the Fourth division quarters. He was now making his way towards the Twelfth division quarters where he would meet with the current captain of that division. Finally, he would have a place to work as he sought the knowledge he desired.
"You will be have to be careful as many will no doubt try to stop you from achieving your goals to further their own," warned Xemnas.
'I will not be stopped and I will eliminate those who would wish to prevent me from obtaining the knowledge I seek,' replied Naruto simply.
"There are still many out there that are stronger then you so you must learn to mask your activities from prying eyes until you are strong enough to take on any opponent," said Xemnas wisely.
'Very well, but I will need you teach me more on how to use your powers so that I may grow stronger,' said Naruto.
"Do not worry, I will make sure to teach you everything you know to harness the darkness within you," smirked Xemnas.
That signaled the end of their conversation as Naruto came upon the Twelfth division quarters and Captain Urahara was waiting for him at the entrance. Naruto kept the same neutral expression on his face that was always there as he observed the man. It would easily to tell that though the man didn't seem all that dangerous, that he reeked of power, and was not someone to be messed with.
"Greetings Naruto-san," smiled Kisuke cheerfully.
"Urahara-taicho, it is an honor to meet you," bowed Naruto respectfully.
'It is just as I expected, his spiritual power is different then other shinigami, and his zanpakuto doesn't feel like any other zanpakuto I have been around before,' thought Kisuke.
"Come, I will show you your workstation and what your main duties will be while here," smiled Kisuke, causing Naruto to nod his head as he followed a few paces behind the man and listened closely as he started to speak.