The Hunter

Betrayed, Naruto becomes the Hunter, a merciless phantom who lives in the forest, killing indiscriminately. But in the end, he finds that he can't stay angry, even at those who drove him away to begin with. Dark. Violent.

Naruto laughed and sat down to read the stolen scroll. Mizuki-sensei hadn't said he couldn't open it, and it looked like there were some super-cool jutsu to learn.

He looked at the first technique he came across. Kage bunshin. Skipping the informational stuff, Naruto looked at what seals were required, and how to use the chakra. Finding it simple enough, Naruto began to practice.

Oddly enough, it was quite easy. So much easier than the regular bunshin that he found it almost suspicious. Naruto was pleased to add this to his rather small collection of jutsu. Rather small, meaning he only knew that kawarimi, the henge, and now the kage bunshin. But hopefully it would be enough for now.

Taking a break after learning the technique, Naruto flopped onto the ground, breathing deeply. If Mizuki-sensei took any longer, maybe he could learn another technique?

But before he could really consider it, the man himself dropped into the clearing, smiling broadly.

"Great job, Naruto! Let me see the scroll, and then I can give you your hitai-ate!"

Naruto grabbed the scroll, but before he could toss it, he heard another, urgent voice. "NO! Don't give it to him, Naruto! He tricked you! He wants to steal it for himself!"

Iruka appeared on a branch at the edge of the clearing, holding a kunai in one hand. "Mizuki, how could you take advantage of a genin like that? Even if you're going to be a traitor, you don't have to resort to such low tactics to get your dirty work done."

Mizuki laughed. "It's just the demon. Not like anyone cares about him." Seeing Naruto shocked expression, Mizuki grinned and continued. "That's right, Naruto, didn't anyone tell you? You have the mighty demon Kyuubi sealed inside your body. That's why everyone hates you."

Iruka shouted, "Mizuki! That's secret information! You've just incurred the death penalty by telling him, and in addition to stealing the scroll, too!" Iruka took a fighting stance, muscles poised to move at a moment's notice.

Mizuki rolled his eyes. "If I plan to defect, Iruka, I'm already incurring the death penalty. Duh." The white haired chuunin turned to face Naruto again. "So give me that scroll, punk. You can't impress anyone with jutsu like that, even if you could learn them. Everyone hates you, even Iruka up there. Did you know that the Kyuubi killed his parents? Or, should I say, that you killed his parents?"

Naruto's eyes betrayed his utter despair, and his complete brokennes. He looked to Iruka, wishing desperately that the chuunin would deny it. Surely, Iruka, who had taught him all he knew, who had corrected what other teachers had deliberately misinformed him about, cared.

Iruka caught his stare, and looked away, silent. The painful memories of the Kyuubi's part in the death of his parents wouldn't let him voice his concern for Naruto, however much he cared.

Naruto's vision blurred. No one cared. And then, the last stroke.

"No one cares about you, demon! The Hokage has us on orders to kill the thief on sight! He knows it's you, and he knows that this is his one chance to get rid of you and look good doing it!"

Iruka was too shocked by the blatant lie to respond adquately. His mouth hung open in complete disbelief. The Hokage was the one who cared most about Naruto, always making inquiries about his health and performance. The Hokage was the one who had specifically forbidden killing Naruto on this mission.

But before Iruka could gather his thoughts, Mizuki raced towards Naruto. "Now give me that scroll, you pathetic brat!"

Too stunned by the recent turn of events, Naruto failed to release his hold on the scroll, and so Mizuki slashed Naruto across the face, leaving a long, red gash from the right lower jaw to the upper left forehead. Naruto fell back, dropping the scroll onto the ground, forgotten.

No one cared. Everyone hated him. There was not a single person whom he could trust in the entire village, even the those that had seemed to look out for him, now out to kill him.

Mizuki laughed, kicking up the scroll with one foot and catching it in the hand that wasn't already occupied with a kunai. "Sad, demon. No fight? Oh well, it'll be that much easier to kill you."

Kill? Mizuki was going to kill him. Blood was already obscuring his vision, making Naruto barely able to see the dim red shape that was Mizuki raising his kunai for the last blow. Faintly, Naruto recognized Iruka shouting something, but Naruto's ears roared with his pulse. His enemies always hunted him. Throughout the village, and now outside. Was there no escape?

He was going to die? He was going to end here? How could this be?





All those who were his enemies, all those who acted against him, all those who pretended to be kind, only to get close enough to strike. They couldn't be trusted. Naruto's mind whirled, and he heard the deep echo from before, perhaps the Kyuubi.

I will NOT die here! You will not die here! We will live on, no matter what!

No matter what. Naruto had to... had to...

Kill them. NOW! Kill them, make them pay for what they did!

Naruto shook his head, in response to his mental turmoil. He couldn't take another life, not like this. Surely this would be the wrong thing to do. His sudden movement was the only thing that saved him from instant death, as Mizuki stabbed the ground next to where his head had been a moment before.

NO! I don't want to kill, but I don't want to kill and the knife is coming closer and


Naruto saw Iruka approached with a kunai in hand, his face showing intense emotional agony. Doubtless remembering the death of his parents, coming forward to avenge the wrongful taking of their lives.

Mizuki raised his kunai. Iruka rushed forward with his kunai drawn back for a strong stab.

Naruto, lost in a panic, couldn't hear Iruka shouting. Couldn't hear him yelling at Mizuki for lying, yelling at Naruto not to listen to that traitor. Screaming that he cared about Naruto, and would never hurt him. Crying that the Hokage cared about him, and hadn't ordered his death.

Naruto heard none of it. All Naruto heard was the strong rushing of blood in his ears, and his rapidfire thoughts as he saw inevitable death approaching. Hunting him down.

I don't want to die and they're coming for me and they have knives and I can't survive this and I don't know why I'm protecting them why shouldn't you kill them but I don't want to but there's not reason to but they're going to kill you andIhavetodosomethingnoworI'lldieandsoyoumustactquicklyandkillthembuththey'remyfriendskillorbekilledandtheyusedtobenicekillorbekilledandmaybethisisadreamkillorbekilledandmaybeKILLjustmaybeKILLthiswasjustajokeKILLandKILLbutKILLIKILLKILLKILLKILL


The moment Mizuki's knife touched Naruto's skin, both the white haired traitor, and the rapidly approaching Iruka were blasted back by an inferno of fiery red chakra.

Naruto roared, giving in to the demon's suggestion. More and more power flowed from the limitless well of Kyuubi's chakra. In seconds, his wounds had healed, seared shut but the heat and regenerated by the chakra.

Naruto rushed forward to kill, burning tears running down his face as he ripped apart Mizuki's skull with his own clawed hands.

The tears only flowed faster as he turned to face Iruka. Unable to hear over the rushing of chakra and the pounding pulse in his ears, Naruto could only suppose that Iruka's tears were the chuunin's way of trying to soften him up again, begging for his life, trying to get close enough so that he could strike again to kill the demon that had taken his parents.

Blinded by tears, Naruto lashed out at the brown-topped green shape kneeling before him, simultaneously shredding and incinerating it with each strike of Naruto's flaming claws. Again and again, Naruto forced his arms to swing out at his once-beloved sensei, forced his fingers, now claws, to tear through the flesh, muscles, bone and organs of the man who had been his favorite teacher.

Iruka could not resist, so saddened by Naruto's misunderstanding that he couldn't bear to hurt the child any further by appearing to fight. As he died, Iruka could only hope that Naruto would understand, that the energetic blonde boy that Iruka knew and loved would see the reason for Iruka's nonresistance. That Naruto would come back to his cheerful self, and see through Mizuki's lies.

Iruka's charred and torn body slumped to the ground, dead before he his the grass. Naruto stopped, and dropped to his knees. Slowly, the demon's chakra faded, and as he sat, Naruto held his hands over his face, sobbing silently.

He could trust no one. Not his teachers. Not Iruka-sensei. Not even old man Hokage. Everyone was against him. All of them hunted him, desired to take his life.

But as he rose and darted off into the forest, vaguely aware of Kyuubi's warnings about shinobi coming to investigate the area, Naruto's expression hardened.

No longer would he tolerate his mistreatment. Obviously his enemies had no honor. They attacked him, and wanted to kill him, when he had done nothing to them. Or for his condition of housing the Kyuubi, which he had no control over.

Well, if they could not be reasoned with, then they were no better than animals.

That night, Naruto swore that he, the hunted, would become the hunter, and prey upon all those creatures who dared call themselves shinobi.

That night, The Hunter was born.

Or maybe, reborn. There were old wives tales, from long before the Kyuubi, of a terrible, monstrous undead spectre of the forest, who hunted the most challenging prey: humans.

So it was not hard for this tale to take root once again, when shinobi passing through the forest would never come home. It seemed to happen at random, and even a team of ninja could not always be sure of getting through.

The Hokage, afraid of doing more harm to Naruto than had already been done, refused to divulge what he knew of the Hunter, but authorized its termination, knowing that it would never happen.

Teams of the best tracking ANBU went into the forest. Most came back without any clue. Some came back, having followed a trail all around the forest, eventually ending up back where they had strated.

Some never came back at all, and so Sarutobi called of the rather ironic hunt for the Hunter. Naruto had always been able to elude ANBU, even years ago, when running form the consequences of his latest prank. Out in the forest, with a million places to hide and no witnesses to point the ANBU in the right direction, there was no chance.

Time passed, and the legend of the Hunter became firmly established. All too often, the villagers would hear a chilling scream from the forest, or a chorus of bloodcurdling shrieks, emanating from the shadows of the trees.

No human could make those sounds, and the ninja and citizens knew it to be the trademark cry of the Hunter. Soon even experience ninja chose to take the roads out of Konoha, traveling in groups along the well-marked paths. It seemed to be the only sure way to avoid the Hunter.

Those who still dared travel through the forest often came home shaken, having stumbled across the corpse of some poor ninja who had not beaten the odds. Who had encountered the Hunter, from whom there was no escape.

Perhaps the only positive side of the Hunter, as the top brass in Konoha grudgingly admitted, was the increased security. The Hunter killed indiscriminately, and sometimes the brave ninja who ventured through the forest discovered foreign corpses, ravaged and destroyed in the same manner as everyone else.

Little did they know that even the Hunter would become one of their greatest assets.

Naruto stalked his prey silently, using all the training he had gathered from years of experience. He hid in the bush, his perpetually dirty blonde hair hidden in the shadows of the leaves. His clones, created without a seal and without a sound, as only years of practice with his limited number of techniques could produce.

Though he only knew the henge, the kawarimi, and the kage bunshin, he had refined them and found ways to use them such that they appeared almost supernatural, especially to Konoha ninja already superstitious about the Hunter.

His target, a chuunin from the leaf, was resting in a sunlit clearing, apparently hoping that the light would ward off the Hunter. Naruto smiled, mentally laughing at the silliness. But it made the kill so much more satisfying...

As soon as the chuunin had recovered enough to make the final leg of his journey toward Konoha, he jumped into a tree and began to leap branch to branch as many leaf-nin had done, back before the Hunter.

Suddenly half of the leaves around him turned into snarling blonde savages, dressed in dirty orange rags. Their fierce eyes flickered rapidly between red and blue, and they opened their mouths wide, showing their elongated canines.

Then they shrieked, and the chuunin almost pissed his pants on the spot. The Hunter! All around him, the feral humanoid things cried in a chorus that sounded like so many damned souls, and then leapt at him, claws extended. The chuunin sprinted forward, dodging their quick attacks, but there were so many.

He leaped toward a branch, and wept inside when a single leaf on it revealed itself to be another image of the Hunter.

Before he could even cry out, the Hunter plunged his hand through his chest. The dripping crimson hand emerged from the other side, holding the chuunin's still-beating heart in its steely grasp.

With a quick squeeze, the organ was no more, and Naruto grabbed the ninja's pack with his free hand while he let the ninja's deap body fall off his other arm and onto the forest floor below.

Too easy. Naruto rummaged around the pouch, taking out the concentrated provisions, and sticking them in his one remaining pocket.

Then he returned to the hunt.

The Hokage watched the match with one eye, while he kept the other on the Kazekage. Or rather, Orochimaru. Sarutobi smiled secretly to himself. The snake-sannin was not half as subtle as he thought he was.

When the large genjutsu fell across the stadium, Sarutobi was ready.

Naruto's eyes widened in delight. Finally, a challenge! Sending his clones out to investigate, he found that the forest all around Konoha was crawling with ninja.

A predatory grin spread across his face, as he drew on the limitless chakra of Kyuubi to fill the forest with his clones. Each clone, as it left, was careful to stay hidden until the appropriate signal was given.

The leaf fought valiantly, but surely the enemies had allies waiting in the forest? Once they arrived, it would all be over.

It was then that their most feared nemesis revealed itself as their greatest asset.

The single, high-pitched shriek sounded from east of Konoha, and in less than a second thousands of answering screams and shrieks tore the air. The ninja of Konoha smiled, and several jounin, thinking quickly, gave out the command that was to become part of the tradition of Konoha for years afterwards, retold in every story, and repeated in every huge predicament.

"Drive them into the forest! An offering to the Hunter!"

The sound ninja weren't sure what was going on. The sounds were frightening, true, but the leaf ninja seemed to become rather confident all of the sudden. What was up with that?

It wasn't until they were pressed back into the trees that they realized their predicament. Fellow sound ninja vanished, and the only clue to their disappearance was the bone-chilling shriek that whatever it attacked.

One sound ninja jumped back behind his comrade, ready to aid. The teammate heard the now-terrifying shriek, and turned to watch his fellow sound ninja's headless corpse drop silently to the ground.

The leaders of the leaf continued to shout. "Drive them into the forest! An offering to the Hunter!"

Naruto smiled from the shadows, his red eyes pulsing with bloodlust and delight. Maybe the leaf-nin were good for something after all.

Orochimaru was confused. He was here, battling the old man, but where were the sound four? They were supposed to have come from the forest two minutes after the start of the attack to set up the barrier. As it was, ten minutes late, Orochimaru couldn't get an opportunity to summon the previous Hokages while dodging attacks from Sarutobi and a horde of ANBU.

And where were the snake summons? They should've been here some time ago. Did this have something to do with that horrible screaming?

Orochimaru snarled as he fended off the old man's attack with the diamond staff form of Enma. "What on earth is that racket in the forest, sensei? How could you have known I would attack?"

The Hokage's grin became even more pronounced. "Orochimaru, didn't your spies tell you anything? Haven't you heard of our worst enemy, now our greatest ally, the Hunter?"

Orochimaru vaguely remembered Kabuto mentioning it, but he had brushed it off at the time as unimportant. Old wives tales were for the superstitious. Orochimaru had heard that particular tale even before he had left Konoha, so many years ago.

But could the Hunter be real?

Orochimaru jumped back from a hail of kunai from the surrounding ANBU, and landed on a tree branch. Suddenly he realized why Sarutobi was performing so poorly.

The old man wasn't fighting Orochimaru. He was herding him. Into the forest.

The blood-curdling screams from the forest seemed more and more ominous as Orochimaru was forced, inch by inch, into the forest. Before he could do otherwise, he realized he was so far into the forest that he couldn't see out of it anymore.

And then the Hokage and the ANBU disappeared. Fools. Now he had a clear shot out of the forest, and that stupid Hunter, which was supposed to reside only in the forest, couldn't get him.

Suddenly the trees immediately erupted in a demonic chorus of shrieks and cries. Every loose leaf and twig became a strange, feral-looking blonde being, with long fangs and dark whisker marks.

Suddenly Orochimaru understood. The jinkuurichi. It had disappeared from the village some time ago. Orochimaru had investigated, hoping to turn whoever it might have been into a vassal of his. Demon containers were frequently mistreated. It would have been easy. Except that the boy that housed the demon had gone missing some time ago.

Around the same time, Kabuto had first mentioned the Hunter.

Orochimaru was not a sannin for nothing, but when a dozen clones attacked at once, bursting into red, demonic flames as they approached, there was little he could do. Even though using the demon's chakra like that made them very fragile, and caused them to disperse within seconds even if not hit, it was enough to keep the snake in such proximity to the poisonous, caustic venom that was the demon's chakra.

Orochimaru's aging body, already decaying and needing to be replaced, could not keep up anymore.

A single moment of hesitation, caused by the malfunctioning of a burnt and poisoned quadricep, was all it took to bring about the death of the leaf's traitor-sannin, Orochimaru.

Long afterwards, Naruto still smiled to himself. Now he had a place, even if it was cloaked in secrecy and shadows. He had truly enjoyed that battle. So many ninja to kill.

He felt in debt to Konoha for such a delight. An offering to the Hunter. Indeed, it had been quite fun. So now Naruto hunted, his ways only slightly modified.

Now he hunted only foreign ninja. Naruto was so happy to have things this way. Finally, he had found a place within Konoha, a place he could help without being in danger from those who wanted to kill him. And he was celebrated! Accepted! By the village he had grown up in, by the home of those ninja who had once treated him with respect.

Even if they had betrayed him, Naruto could not shake his affection for the late Iruka, and for the old man Hokage. He was glad to be able to serve Konohagakure, and honor his memory of a time when things were easier. When he still thought there were those he could trust. When he had been young, and happy.

Though it was not bad now. Every week, an offering of meat was left in the forest for him, tribute to Konoha's mighty protector, who had not attacked anyone from the leaf since the Sound's attack.

Naruto watched over the village from the forest, and all of the leaf's enemies stayed away from the wrath of Konoha's secret weapon.

The Hunter.

So... yeah. It turned out a little different than I had planned. I'm not sure how that happens, since I'm the only one writing it, but whatever. Let me know what you think!