Only Bastards Rise
Disclaimer: Do you remember that scene in "Way of the Dragon" where Bruce Lee yanks out a handful of Chuck Norris' chest hair and blows it back in his face? Naruto could've been like that if he wasn't owned by Kishimoto.
Part 1: Frustration
"This is a goddamn mess," thought Uzumaki Naruto as his perfectly formed Rasengan passed though the Akatsuki member's chest to absolutely no effect.
Stupid, cheap-ass, fucking ultimate defenses. Exactly how many of those were around? It seemed as if nearly every one of his opponents and their grannies had one.
Naruto couldn't even remember the last time he had beaten up an ordinary run-of-the-mill bandit.
Gaara had his sand armor (which made sense since he was Shukaku's jailor), Neji had Kaiten because of his Byakugan, Sasuke had his bitch-ass Sharingan and snake hickey, and even Kabuto the regenerative ability to survive a point-blank Rasengan, but phasing through shit was just fucking ridiculous.
What was next? Giant glowing mecha?
At that moment, Naruto could have sworn that there had to be some sort of unseen god who enjoyed fucking with his life simply for the shits and giggles of it all. By making each of his successive enemies increasingly more difficult to deal with than the last while at the same time nullifying Naruto's advantages, this all powerful asshole would get his jollies, and maybe even make a profit by selling tickets to the show.
Naruto also considered that he might simply be saddled with the Kyuubi's karmic backload?
Objectively, the blond knew that he was one to talk about unfair advantages as he had the benefit of the Kyuubi and all, but overusing its vile energies could overtax his regenerative abilities and shorten his lifespan (and maybe even give him ball cancer), and his ultimate offense of a wind-based rasengan had the potential to cripple his abilities permanently.
Naruto let out a long sigh. Moping didn't get shit done, and was better reserved for obsessive assholes with more angst than balls.
Besides, what kind of loser kami would waste his or her free time by fucking with him? There was probably no conspiracy, and no fate or destiny to it at all.
There was looking underneath the underneath like Kakashi-sensei said, and then there was flat out paranoia, and Naruto knew that tin-foil hats and collecting jars of his own feces was simply not his style.
As his internal debate subsided, Naruto watched as Aburame Shino went forth to try his luck and creepily used his bugs to engulf the orange masked man.
"Whoa," thought the genin, "Shino's pissed. If this works I'll treat him to a bowl of ramen at Ichiraku's."
Everyone watched for signs of movement from the massive cocoon.
Good news was that Naruto could afford more food for himself when he got back to Konohagakure.
The bad news was that the son of a bitch had teleported out of Shino's trap.
Naruto observed the rest of his teammates Sakura-chan, Hinata, Kiba, Kakashi, Yamato, and Shino react with shock.
"That wasn't teleportation," Shino stated in response to a question from Sakura. "Teleportation is just high speed movement. My partners would have sensed his motion in that case and pursued."
The blond genin cleared his throat.
"Actually Shino, teleportation is technically space/time ninjutsu. High speed movements like shushin and kawarimi are are known as body flickers, and not specifically teleportation which is included in things like summoning and the 4th Hokage's Hiraishin no Jutsu," corrected Naruto.
Everyone looked at Naruto substantially more stunned than when their adversary teleported, as if the blond teen had sprouted four tails and casually started snacking on babies.
"What? I was apprenticed to a seal master for like three years. You guys didn't expect me to learn any jutsu theory?" exclaimed Naruto.
His comrades remained skeptical causing Naruto to growl something unpleasant under his breath.
Naruto gestured pointedly towards their opponent.
"Shouldn't we focus on this asshole here?"
Tobi stood on a tree branch with his cloak fluttering in the breeze, waving cordially.
A plant-like man emerged from the wood next to him, and calmly stated, "Uchiha Sasuke has won. Itachi is dead."
The masked man nodded and turned to the Konoha shinobi with what Naruto oddly felt was a sneer.
"I'll play with you later children."
The both of them vanished.
Naruto punched the ground in frustration.
How was he supposed to fight someone who could phase through attacks and teleport at will?
"Naruto-kun..." said Hyuuga Hinata concerned.
As things often do, they got worse.
Uncharacteristically nervous, Hatake Kakashi spoke aloud, addressing everyone in the group, "I saw that man's exposed eye though his mask..."
The silver-haired jounin tapped an index finger against the forehead protector that covered his left eye.
"...He has the Sharingan."
"Fuck me in the face with facefuck," muttered Naruto sourly, striking the ground again.
-Two Weeks Later-
Naruto never expected to be crying over the loss of Ero-sennin. For all the times Naruto made fun of the man, Jiraiya still remained a larger than life figure: a timeless, legendary ultra-pervert. In the past, he had imagined Jiraiya breathing his last peacefully in the arms of a beautiful woman, or maybe three, at an age unfeasible for most shinobi. His happiness and passions kept him youthful, and, unlike the rest of his contemporaries, he bore his age well.
…at least for an old perv.
Naruto hadn't expected Ero-sennin to lose his life in a pitched battle against the Akatsuki member Pein.
It was supposed his struggle, and his burden damn it! He was training to protect his loved ones.
He was supposed to be strong enough to face them, but the cold truth of the matter was that Jiraiya died protecting him.
When he had returned to Konoha fuming from his team's one-sided encounter, Tsunade met him in private and hugged him tightly as she told him the news. At that moment, anyone could have mistaken the pair of them for a mother and child mourning the death of a husband and father.
In the days that followed, Naruto reflected on one thing.
Despite all his progress, he was nowhere near good enough yet to defend his precious people.
Naruto knew deep within his heart that the longer he took to get up to speed, the more people would get involved in his fight, and more good people like Chiyo, Asuma, and Ero-sennin would die.
Meeting with the orange masked nin and had him evaluate his shortcomings as a shinobi.
He had some incredible offensive skills, but he was hamstrung by two factors: range and speed.
Naruto excelled at most close range engagements with his rasengan usage, kage bunshin, and wind chakra alignment. He thrived in the midst of a battle, ragged, bloodspattered, and gnashing his teeth against almost impossible odds.
Fighting against the Akatsuki this time truly felt like impossible odds with no almost in sight.
It was all too easy to get disheartened when one of his opponents was a naturally elusive Sharingan user who could teleport and phase though his attacks at will.
Naruto now clearly understood what Lee's teammate TenTen felt facing Temari in the Chuunin Exams.
Outranged and outclassed.
"So this is what it feels like to be hosed in the worst possible way," thought Jiraiya's apprentice.
Regardless of their abilities, Naruto needed the Akatsuki members and their allies dead, the sooner the better.
He wasn't looking for revenge, as the genin knew revenge was ultimately a selfish action that would cheapen the sacrifices his people made to oppose the Akatsuki.
He would honor them.
Jiraiya had bought Naruto even more time to train for his fight against the Akatsuki, but at much too high a cost. It would also be a shameful squandering of such a precious commodity to not use that time to get as strong as quickly as possible.
It wasn't pride Naruto had on the line, but his precious people. Swallowing his ego, the blonde genin talked to swore to talk to anyone who would listen, from the crankiest retired nin to the greenest genin fresh from the academy, about how to deal with an entire group of opponents with such overwhelmingly powerful defenses.
He had even checked in with Tsunade-obachan, just in case, to check if he had any hidden bloodline abilities.
"For the last time NO, you brat! The only thing that could possibly qualify is that thick skull of yours," exclaimed the curvy woman Naruto considered family.
"But what about my gigantic pair of brass balls?" asked the jinchuuriki with the whimpering puppy dog eyes he perfected as a young orphan hanging around the Sandaime, before dodging a half-hearted swipe from the current leader of his village that could have embedded him into a wall.
He laughed as he exited the Hokage's office, making cling-clanging noises with every step. It was worth the risk to hear the first chuckle in a long time from her.
The search for answers to his dilemma was a largely fruitless endeavor as the general consensus from his fellow ninjas was "Sucks to be you."
One particularly caustic kunoichi, older than him by a few years, suggested that he learn to suck a mean cock, as a completely satisfied killer was less likely to rush to murdering him.
Rather than getting offended and flustered, Uzumaki Naruto did his best to make Ero-sennin proud as he calmly unzipped his fly and, honing his skill with deadpan expressions to put an Aburame's to shame, suggested a practical demonstration.
She didn't bother to call his bluff, but snorted in respect at the display of his nerve.
It was just one example out of many where Naruto's queries did not net him the answers he was looking for, but instead unintentionally increased his esteem among the members of his village one by one.
People who had never spoken to Naruto first-hand and only knew him by reputation discovered he was not what they expected at all.
Oddly enough, the inadvertent breakthrough in all of these discussions had come from Konohamaru, out of all people.
When Naruto wondered how he was supposed to beat a Sharingan user who could teleport and become intangible on command, the Sandaime's grandson answered, "I'm no good at riddles, bro. I dunno...Quickly?"
After being tempted to smack him upside the head for being a smartass, Naruto laughed for an entirely different reason than the younger boy's joke.
Konohamaru was right.
Naruto needed to kill those missing nin bastards quickly, using something beyond increased physical speed, and long-range jutsus.
He needed something instantaneously deadly, something a doujutsu or ultimate defense couldn't counter, and something that couldn't be predicted or dodged.
Uzumaki Naruto already had something in mind.
He had already promised Jiraiya that he would not make any half-assed attempts to use it.
It was the 4th Hokage's legendary Hiraishin no Jutsu...
...and it was one of Naruto greatest failures.
During their training trip together, Jiraiya explained to Naruto the origins of the technique that earned the young man who would
eventually become hokage the nickname "The Yellow Flash."
"The 4th actually got the inspiration for his jutsu from an argument he had with Gamabunta. Gamabunta was prickly about being summoned at an inconvenient time and complained, 'How would you like it if I created a summon contract to drag your sorry naked ass outta bed in the middle of the night to fight tadpoles, you cheeky little shit!?'"
Jiraiya took another sip of his warm sake and chuckled.
"The Yondaime, after researching the matter throughly, managed to do just that."
"Summon himself, of course," replied the Toad Sage with a grin.
Naruto reviewed the fundamentals of the Flying Thunder God Technique in his head.
The technique allowed for the swift creation of a summon contract that could be affixed, on the fly, to a tag, a kunai, or even marked, with enough skill and concentration, barehanded.
For such a frightening jutsu, the principles behind it were relatively simple: Tag where you wanted to go, add in the right amount chakra, focus, and go there. Actually applying the technique was a different story, and by "story" Naruto meant nightmare.
All of the Yondaime's techniques were about control. If chakra wasn't focused properly before an attempt, you could fry your coils even trying to teleport. If your mental concentration broke during the transfer, you could manage the impossible and end up in two places at once, but as many, many chunky pieces. Even a successful self-summoning could be painfully disorienting as Jiraiya proved by puking up an expensive sushi dinner at Naruto's feet the first time he had demonstrated the Hiraishin to his apprentice.
Despite his years of practice, Jiraiya could barely manage the technique. After years on the road with Jiraiya coaching him, Naruto did not fare much better.
During his training trip, Jiraiya had focused on quality over quantity. He drilled solid fundamentals into the blond and prepared to train him to the point of mastery in concentrated number of solid, powerhouse jutsu. The Hiraishin, he planned, would be a cornerstone of that training methodology. After all, Naruto had taken to the Rasengan like a fish to water.
Naruto's reputation of being the most surprising ninja around proved to be unfortunately accurate as Jiraiya was handily stunned and secretly disappointed to see Naruto instead take to the legendary technique like a shark to a sand dune instead.
While he was no longer in immediate danger of turning himself into a grease stain attempting the technique, he could still not manage more than one such summoning in a row. In the Yondaime's hands, the Hiraishin was an almost invincible fighting platform capable of cowering an entire army of shinobi. In Naruto's hands, the Hiraishin was an overgrown shushin that left him feeling as if he held an exploding flashbang in his mouth if his concentration faltered, leaving him either badly disoriented if he was lucky, or could leave him quite messily dead if not.
Although his luck held out, Naruto knew that his current version of Hiraishin had no place on the battlefield.
Naruto, using less effort to achieve the same effect, could leave himself gift-wrapped and wait for the Akatsuki to tear the Kyuubi out of his belly rather then try to use the Hiraishin, at his current level of proficiency, against them.
Jiraiya had known this as well, and during the last leg of their training trip together risked his life switching to his desperate backup plan of having Naruto instead rely on the nine-tailed demon fox's chakra.
Jiraiya rarely voiced disappointment with Naruto's progress, but the fact of the matter was that it badly stung the young man's pride. His failure at learning the Hiraishin reminded the genin of all the times he had failed in the academy.
This wasn't a problem that could be solved by pure guts and determination alone.
Uzumaki Naruto had vowed to surpass the all the previous hokages, and there was no way in hell he would he giving that up now.
It was about time he started reviewing his old notes.
Part 2: Anticipation
It had taken weeks for Naruto, along with a cell consisting of the remaining members of Team 7 including Yamato, to encounter another Akatsuki member again. As luck would have it, the one that appeared was the mysterious masked man who had escaped Shino's trap last time.
"Don't you want to know why we're doing this? It all relates to the secret history of Konohagakure..." teased the one-eyed man.
"Actually...No," replied Naruto dismissively. "I've got a counter-offer. How about you tell me everything you know after you're dead?"
Body language indicated that the masked man was actually miffed after that.
Naruto carefully hid the nervousness and anger from his features.
His teammates agreed specifically to let him engage the Akatsuki member alone, only stepping in if things looked grave.
It was the same generous deal they had given him with Kakuzu.
Naruto prayed that his opponent's ability to phase through things wasn't a passive ability, otherwise he was screwed.
The way his opponent's robe fluttered in the wind suggested it wasn't.
He was about as ready as he was ever going to be.
Their confrontation was uncomfortably quick.
Shadow clones burst from the ground and dog-piled the black-haired man in a larger scale approximation of Shino's bug cocoon attack.
Naruto charged at the mass of clones with a Rasenshuriken in hand and used a kawarimi to switch places with a further off clone at the moment he released his attack, in order to escape the worst of the backlash.
Predictably, the Akatsuki member teleported out of the mass of clones before the attack connected and bore witness to the damage Naruto's attack caused.
"I...I'm bringing back up next time," stated the concerned leader of the Akatsuki, before escaping from danger yet again.
Kakashi, Yamato, and Sakura all focused on their teammate expecting an outburst of anger, maybe even a tailed manifestation of the Kyuubi's chakra.
Naruto simply sat in the midst of a thoroughly destroyed clearing, pulled out a expensive candy bar, and started savoring it as if he had earned the privilege.
"What?" asked Naruto at the curious attention the other three members of his four-man cell were directing his way, as he licked pricey imported chocolate from his fingertips.
It would be a shame if he wasted any.
"You guys want some?" offered the genin. "I've got extras in my pack."
"Sometimes, I don't think I'll ever understand you," noted Haruno Sakura almost exasperated, but accepting some chocolate from Naruto.
It was long past nightfall when Naruto's cell had made it to the village gates. Ichiraku's was closed for the night, but a few bars that served snacks were still open. After an open invitation, Kakashi and Yamato made their way to such an establishment, leaving Naruto and Sakura alone.
"Hey Sakura-chan, do you think most people are asleep at this time of night?"
"Of course, it's like almost 2 in the morning."
"Good. I should head to a training ground now," noted Naruto still inexplicably cheerful.
Haruno Sakura watched her teammate leave to make his way to a training field.
She was dead tired and hungry, but her curiosity and concern got the best of her.
Part 3: Release
Sakura found Naruto in a field with three clones as they coordinated their energies together for a single technique.
One Naruto gathered the energy for a rasengan, while another helped to shape it, one more added wind chakra, and a fourth helped to focus the rasengan and make it even more compact and deadly.
"Hi Sakura," greeted one of the blonds.
"I thought Tsunade-sama didn't want you to continue training with this technique as it could harm you."
"Using four people makes shaping a perfect wind natured rasengan much easier, if not unwieldy in battle, and the only dangerous part now is the detonation and the backlash..." answered another Naruto.
The wind based rasengan started to spin at an even faster rate.
"...besides, we're not training right now. We're winning," continued the third clone.
The compact vortex of violently spinning, impossibly sharp wind chakra vanished abruptly, dispersing the kage bunshin into clouds of smoke, and leaving the smiling figure of only one Uzumaki Naruto.
In the weeks before his second confrontation with the Akatsuki member Tobi, Naruto dissected the Hiraishin with the same fervor he approached the rasengan.
This time Naruto did not go to Kakashi or Yamato for help. Jiraiya had stressed that the Hiraishin was a super-secret jutsu meant for him and him alone.
By the time he had encountered the Akatsuki again, Naruto had still not mastered the Yondaime's Hiraishin no Jutsu.
He still could not manage to teleport again and again to deliver attacks to his opponent. Naruto realized that, even if he could chain his teleports together, it was still not a guarantee for success. He would still need to connect with a debilitating attack after each successive self-summoning.
Naruto tried approaching the problem from another angle.
Instead, he trained and gained an incredible acuity in placing Hiraishin seals with a touch, and therein found his answer.
If he could not teleport to his enemies to deliver his attacks, then why couldn't he teleport his attacks directly to his enemies?
Training with that mindset, Uzumaki Naruto realized a fundamental truth about fuinjutsu that separated an unquestioned master like the Yondaime from someone Jiraiya considered a "hobbyist" like Orochimaru. Seals did not have to be overwhelmingly powerful, and invasive. Sometimes a subtle seal did the job better than anything else.
To be honest, Naruto had gained the inspiration for his variant from the first prank he had ever played on Kakashi-sensei, where a falling chalkboard eraser that had been positioned between a classroom door and its frame caught the former ANBU commander completely off guard.
Experienced nins had a highly developed survival sense, and any killing intent directed toward them could be evaded and dodged instantly. Anything with non-lethal intent would unconsciously be given a much, much lesser threat status.
Naruto's plan against the orange-masked nin had gone perfectly.
He had given the Akatsuki member exactly what he had been expecting, a deadly linear attack, all for the purposes of placing a single, subtle, non-invasive marking seal that was more like a handprint, only apparent to a particularly attentive fuinjutsu expert, or possibly a highly skilled byakugan user who would have to be told what to look for.
The mysterious Sharingan user had focused on the incredibly lethal Fuuton: Rasenshuriken in front of him while a clone placed the fuinjutsu equivalent of a "kick-me" sign on his back.
Thankfully, Uchiha Madara did not have eyes at the back of his head.
Uzumaki Naruto, in trying to master one of the most potent battlefield jutsus around, stumbled across one perfect for assassination.
He had even nicknamed it.
Since it was a product of the Hiraishin no Jutsu, he toyed with the idea of calling it Arashi.
A storm from the flying thunder god…
…It was a bit theatrical, but Naruto loved it.
His enemies wouldn't.
At the gates of Konohagakure no Sato, Uchiha Sasuke casually used the Chidori Nagashi to disperse Naruto's Kage Bunshin that emerged from the ground to grapple with him as he approached with Team Eagle.
It seemed as if his old teammate was still trying to capture him alive.
It was actually quite pathetic really, like a kicked puppy who kept coming back for more.
The Mangekyo Sharingan had given him power beyond his imagining, he could not control it completely, but he was more than ready enough to crush his former village. He had hoped to share this moment with Madara, but the mysterious Uchiha had been out of communication for weeks.
Naruto emerged from the Konoha's main gate to greet him.
"I got your letter, bastard. Do you really mean to destroy Konoha?"
Sasuke smirked, "I'll give you one final chance to leave before I burn this cursed place to the ground."
Naruto shook his head.
"I promised to Sakura that I'd bring to back you to Konoha alive, but since you're here I guess you've fulfilled my promise for me."
Naruto grinned, baring his teeth and a glimmer of the rage and feelings betrayal within.
He clamped down firmly on the Kyuubi trying to influence him. It would do him no good now.
"I guess that means I can kill you now," stated the blond genin with false cheer.
Sasuke almost laughed.
"Without your pet fox, you are nothing, Dead Last. You won't even be able to touch me now."
Naruto smiled for real this time, as if keeping an inside joke to himself.
"Would you like to make a bet?"
A perfect wind rasengan formed and howled in Naruto's palm.
Sasuke performed Raikiri without the aid of seals, his Mangekyo Sharingan activated and ready to predict Naruto's movements.
"Hey Sasuke!" yelled the whisker-marked teen, "Dodge this!"
The Rasengan in Naruto's palm vanished.