He was not evil. Au contraire, he was the best, last hope for the noble and virtuous. A closer look at Orochimaru's past. Dark, sort of.
Note, this is all just for the purpose of the fic. There is no basis for this in cannon. Just for fun.
One of the greatest sacrifices that could be made for one's village. Giving up one's life for the cause. Orochimaru could never shake the guilt for using his own form of immortality, even when his ninja cheerfully volunteered.
For instance, the last woman, barely old enough to be a ninja, had wanted so badly to help Orochimaru in his crusade. But she didn't have the skills, and she didn't have the talent. Knowing that the snake master's time was about up, she volunteered.
Even knowing that the girl's mind was made up, Orochimaru had spent countless hours arguing with her. Surely there were things she would like to do. Surely she couldn't really be ready to give up her life, just to extend his.
But she had been firm. Though he already knew, and though she was aware that he knew, she explained to him why he needed to be alive. Only Orochimaru knew the dark secrets that Konoha hid from the world. Only Orochimaru knew how to combat their evil. Only Orochimaru was intelligent enough to fight back with a chance of winning.
And so, after several days, Orochimaru gave in and agreed. After a tearful goodbye, he took her body for his own.
In his room, he added a picture of her smiling face, next to all the others of those who had given their bodies to allow him to continue the fight. Orochimaru would never forget their sacrifice.
Sometimes, he felt so bad that he wanted to just give up. Surely it was not worth getting people hurt. Surely it was not worth getting people killed. Surely it was not worth taking the bodies of other people, even if given willingly.
But his friends, comrades, and subordinates would remind him of his duty. After all the evil that Konoha had perpetrated, and hid from the world, the Sound had to oppose them. They could not let the wickedness continue.
Orochimaru remembered, long ago, when this had all started for him.
Orochimaru yelled at the Hokage, Sarutobi. "We can't just sacrifice our fellow ninja for some stupid mission! These are people we're talking about! Who cares about how our village looks if we throw away people's lives as if they had no value!"
Sarutobi cleared his throat, and smiled condescendingly. "The image of the village is important, Orochimaru. All the other shinobi in the village accept that. Ninja have willingly died for our village. Why should you dishonor their sacrifice?"
The yellow-eyed jounin snarled back. "They died for lies! On missions that didn't really exist! Some of them were even assassinated by our own ninja! And then to top it all of, you blamed it on enemy ninja and acted like you cared! You lied to them, and to their families, and to every body!" Tears began to run down Orochimaru's cheeks. "How could anyone be so heartless? I used to look up to you, old man! How could you do such a thing?!"
"Orochimaru, it seems that you are just refusing to understand. There are certain secrets that the village keeps, secrets that even fellow ninja shouldn't know about. We can't let anyone else know about them."
"So tell the people who find out to keep silent! Don't just send them on false missions and assassinate them!"
"Orochimaru, do you know that Minato said the same, thing to me? The difference between you and him is that he disagrees, but still does his duties. You, on the other hand, refuse every mission that violates your moral principles. As a ninja of Konoha, you should look out for the good of Konoha."
"I look out for the good of the people of Konoha! Not for the sick bastards who run the village and kill everyone who disagrees with them!"
Sarutobi's eyes narrowed. "Careful, Orochimaru. Insubordination is a serious crime."
Orochimaru breathed deeply, calming himself. After a few moments, he spoke calmly. "I'm glad we had this… talk, sensei. It makes me feel a lot less guilty about what I did."
The Hokage stood up with a start. "What did you do, Orochimaru?!"
"Nothing. I might have found out about those experiments on immortality and the manipulation of the dead, and I might have hinted about the location and nature of the research to certain other ninja."
Orochimaru watched Sarutobi's face flicker from fear, to anger, to confusion, and back to anger. "YOU DID WHAT?!"
The snake-nin laughed, no longer afraid. "And I told some people about your plan to draw the Kyuubi here to capture it and use its power as a weapon for the village. I wonder how many of them will be pleased to learn that you plan to, and I quote from the document I found, "spend only 40 of our current shinobi force in acquiring the demon's power".
The Hokage was livid. But before he could do anything, Orochimaru laughed and dissolved into a mass of snakes, which quickly slithered out of various opening around the room.
Despite the Hokage's quick actions, several dozen shinobi had found out about the research. And Orochimaru had destroyed the labs and all of the research, apparently. All of those several decades of work on resurrection techniques, and the manipulation and use of corpses. Gone!
Having only limited time, the Hokage's personal ANBU unit eliminated all those known to have learned about the research, planted their bodies in the labs, and made it appear that they had been experimented on.
The next day, the Hokage announced Orochimaru's banishment, for his terrible crime of killing fellow Konoha shinobi and using them as tools for his experiments.
Far away, when he heard the news, Orochimaru laughed.
The snake-nin read through his latest reports from his agents in Konoha. He had so many friends there, he had considered taking it over in a coup, but doubted that it would succeed without terrible casualties. Orochimaru thought that a hostile takeover, if done correctly, might reduce the number of deaths. And so he planned on this, and directed his agents to prepare for this eventuality.
Orochimaru read through the report of one of his most able spies, Hatake Kakashi. Despite Kakashi's overt references to Orochimaru's ideals, valuing teammates over the mission, no one even appeared to suspect his collusion with Orochimaru. Kakashi wrote that the preparations for the Chuunin Exams were going well, and that Sasuke was ready to defect at a moment's notice.
Orochimaru frowned. He hadn't wanted to take the Uchiha with him to Sound. The boy deserved to grow up normally like any other child. But with the knowledge that Itachi had imparted to him so long ago, knowledge of the terrible crimes of Konoha, many perpetrated by the Uchiha clan, Orochimaru dared not leave him in Konoha. He didn't like it, but for the sake of the boy's safety, Orochimaru would have to take him away.
Another note from Jiraiya, his old friend and teammate. Jiraiya had also left the village for Orochimaru's reasons, but had been too cowardly to say so. The toad-sannin reported what his spies had uncovered recently in Konoha, and also gave Orochimaru a copy of the false information that he have given to Konoha.
Tsunade wrote a lengthy letter, mostly about how she was out of money, but also wishing him luck in his endeavors. In the same boat as Jiraiya, she had left Konoha many years ago, but because of her strong distaste for violence, she had contributed to the cause only by training Orochimaru's corps of medics, led by Yakushi Kabuto.
Orochimaru's medic-nin's, the best in the world, were one of the few things Orochimaru could really be proud of. It was their hard work and efforts that gave Orochimaru's ninja the longest life expectancy in the world, though few knew it. And they were needed, since Orochimaru had few ninja to spare.
Danzou reported that Root was doing well, and that they were ready to act at a moment's notice. Already, they composed almost 35 of the total ABNU force, and more joined daily. People in ANBU gained at least a little understanding of how the village really worked behind the scenes, and Root recruiters were ever-vigilant, looking for those ANBU who disagreed with the way that things were done.
And then, after reading all of his reports, Orochimaru read the last letter from him. The paper of the letter was so worn that its yellow fabric no longer stood stiff enough to read without setting it on a surface. Not that it mattered, since Orochimaru had memorized its contents long ago.
I'm so sorry that I didn't' join you when you left, several years ago. Even as Hokage, I can't ever get enough power to stop those things we both hated about this village. The council has so much power, and there are so many people and organizations that act without need for my approval, that I see I can not make any difference here.
As you know, they have summoned the Kyuubi. Sacrificing almost three dozen of our best ninja to do so. I can't stand it. I can't even leave, I'm watched so closely. I'm sorry that I can't come join you, my friend. But though I can't leave, I refuse to take part in the atrocities this village perpetrates every day.
And so I have designed my newest sealing technique. I will sacrifice myself to seal the demon into my child in such a way that the demon's full power cannot be used by him, and so that the demon will also perish when my child does. It has to be my child, my son, because I can't bring myself to use another's child. And the seal must be done this way, to ensure that Konoha does not get this terrible power.
Already the village does terrible things, I cannot even begin to imagine what horrors would be unleashed if I gave them the power of the demon as well. There is no way to seal it so without sacrificing myself, But I don't care. I can't bear to live here nay longer. My last wish is that you would gather the strong and noble ninja from around the world, and put a stop to the evil that I have unwillingly helped every day.
Always yours, Minato
As he always did, Orochimaru silently cried after reading the letter. Soon, the Chuunin Exams would be here, and Orochimaru was ready to fulfill his best friends last request.
Soon, he would take over the village, and make it truly become the place that it was supposed to be. A village that supported virtuous, hardworking ninja who cared about their friends. A village that valued people over places, and ninja over the mission.
Soon, it would all be alright.
As the world would soon find out, Orochimaru was not evil.
Au contraire, he was the last, best hope for the noble and virtuous.
I didn't really like the ending that much, but I couldn't think of a better way to do it. It was originally going to be called Misunderstood, but then I kind of changed it.
Let me know what you think of it.