Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of its component characters. trademarks, etc. Nor do I own any of the other works that are crossed or referenced in this story, either explicitly or implicitly stated to be such works. This includes, but is not limited to, Avatar, X-men, and Magic the Gathering. This story is the first part in a three story arc involving a multiverse. The entire three part story is hereby known as "The Phoenix."
The Phoenix Part I - Phoenix Rising
Chapter 1 - Of Foxes and Men
The Sandaime Hokage sat at his desk, still in shock over the events of the past several hours. Konoha was decimated by the Kyuubi no Kitsune, greatest of the nine tailed lords who had risen to the forefront of the demon pantheon and terrorized as they chose the human world. Minato Arashi Namikaze, last of the wind-using Namikaze clan and his successor, the Yondaime Hokage, was dead, awaiting a state funeral after he exchanged his life with the Shinigami in order to seal the Kyuubi no Kitsune within an infant, his own newborn son. And a ghost from his past now stood in front of his desk, wearing a nondescript hooded black cloak.
Under the hood, the Hokage could just make out the gold- and silver-tatooed features of a woman already old beyond her years when the Hokage had first met her as a young man, foolishly attacking what he thought was an enemy Iwa ninja.
"Hello Kabatsu-san. I must admit, I never thought I would see you again. It's been what, thirty years since I last saw you?"
Kabatsu Cora chuckled and removed her hood, revealing a woman in her early thirties, her fiery red hair sparkling in the lights of the Hokage's office, the ninja headband around her neck displaying a stylized eight point star. Sarutobi could not help but be struck by how little she had changed.
"Yes, it has been a long time Sarutobi-san. But what do you expect, when we have been keeping ourselves under the radar. Last I heard, you had retired, and your great weapon during the last war with Iwa, a Namikaze I believe it was, had taken up your role as Hokage. So what are you doing back behind that stuffy old desk?"
Sarutobi sighed. "Quit with the games Kabatsu. I don't know how but I'm sure you are aware of every detail of what has happened here, just as you were on that day thirty years ago. Yes, Minato Namikaze is dead, lost sealing away the Kyuubi no Kitsune. The last of the clan that your renegades had joined is dead. So what possible interest you have in Konoha any longer I do not know."
Sarutobi did not mention the child, who had been given his mother's name to hide his lineage.
Cora chuckled, grinning like a fox herself.
"Oh Sarutobi, you and I both know thats not true. I was afterall a Kagemusha of Nagareboshigakure. I can smell the descendant of the Gouzenkaze clan as clear as day. But do not worry, Sarutobi. The Four Clans gave up any claim to the descendants of the Namikaze long ago, when the Binding Contract was returned to us. The boy is safe, but there is still the remote possibility that there may come a day when he displays the powers of the Gouzenkaze. If that happens, we will have to insist that the powers be sealed away, or he be brought to us for proper training so that he does not hurt himself or others. The Kussetsukaze is not something to be taken lightly."
Sarutobi was speechless for a moment, but before he could continue the doors to his office were pushed open and in marched an angry Rin pushing Kushina Uzumaki in a wheelchair, her new son nestled asleep in her arms.
"Sarutobi! A squad of chuunin just attacked Kushina and her son, blaming him and the creature he carries for all thats happened. It is no longer safe here for them."
Rin shut up as she noticed the mysterious woman standing before Sarutobi, and the intense look she shot the young Uzumaki boy. Rin took up a defensive position.
"You better think twice before attacking the kid, whoever you are. Any threat to his well being will not be tolerated."
Cora lazily returned her gaze to Sarutobi. Sarutobi could see that Cora's normally blue eyes had become slightly reptilian and red. She spoke, he voice reverberating slightly, deeper than before.
"Well, it seems I'm not as all knowing as you thought Sarutobi. Why did Minato seal the greatest of the Tailed-Ones into his own child? You know what? I don't want to know. I guess it's just the gaki's fate, being a descendant of the Gouzenkaze as he is, that he should carry within him a demon lord, even if it is just the Kyuubi whelp."
"What the hell are you blabbering about Onna?!" Rin exclaimed, her kunai at the ready.
Cora turned a disdainful look on the kunoichi.
"Quiet brat. I am far older and more powerful than you. And I mean none of you harm."
Her focus centered on the child briefly.
"Sarutobi, it seems that our purpose here has changed."
She returned her focus to Sarutobi, her eyes a deeper red.
"The gaki is descended from the Gouzenkaze and he now carries a demon within himself. If I had any doubt that the Kussetsukaze would awaken in this child before, its gone now. If he carries a demon, then its presence and influence guarantees that his legacy will awaken. Know this, Sarutobi, Sandaime Hokage of Konoha. The child this woman holds in her arms is precious, in more ways than one, and has been placed in a position that very few can appreciate. When the time comes, as I am sure it will, that the Kussetsukaze awakens within him, members of the Four Clans will be waiting, and watching to see whether he uses his abilities for good or for evil."
Kabatsu Cora backed up to the window, smiling now as her eyes returned to their normal blue.
"Sleep well, sweet kazeko. May the gentle winds of fate guide you well, and protect you from adversity."
With a flash of flame from her feet Cora was propelled out the window, doing a backflip as she traced a line of blood along her left forearm, grinning.
"Kuchiyose no jutsu!"
With a puff of smoke a red- and silver-scaled dragon about twelve feet in length with a horned crown and flaring wings appeared outside the Hokage's window with Cora sitting grinning on its back.
"See ya later old man."
Cora and the dragon disappeared swiftly into the night sky, heading for parts unknown.
"WHO THE HELL WAS THAT!?"
Sarutobi flinched and turned to face the angry kunoichi who had her kunai jammed into his desk.
"An old...friend, from the days before I was the Hokage. Rin, if you and Kushina do not feel that it is safe for the child here, then what do you propose we do?"
"It's simple really."
Kushina said softly, finally looking up from her newborn baby, exhaustion in her eyes. Sarutobi and Rin both turned to look at her.
"We'll stay at the Namikaze compound. Minato...he...he keyed me in to the security system before...before he.."
Kushina couldn't continue as she broke down crying, Rin swiftly moving to her side and holding her, whispering comfort to her.
Sarutobi pondered this for a moment.
"Well, I guess with the two of you to raise him and train him, it might work. He'll be a little cut off until his exams, but once he takes them and becomes a genin, no one in the village will be able to touch him without bringing down the entirety of my wrath."
Sarutobi thought for another moment before nodding, his mind made up.
"I've decided. As of this moment you, Rin, and you, Uzumaki Kushina are hereby on a longterm C-rank mission to train and protect Uzumaki Naruto, heir to the Namikaze, Uzumaki, and Gouzenkaze clans, as well as the Jinchurriki for the Kyuubi no Kitsune. You will have an ANBU squad, handpicked by me, assigned to bring you supplies on a weekly basis, as well as to provide additional protection beyond the wards already in place. You will be given training material and supplies for Naruto, as well as some techniques copied from the Forbidden Scroll. From what I know of the Gouzenkaze, Naruto will be more than capable of mastering these techniques by the time he is ready to test for genin."
Kushina looked up again.
"What do you mean, Gouzenkaze clan? What did that woman mean about the...the kussetsukaze, whatever the hell that is?"
Sarutobi took a deep breath and sighed.
"The woman you met is from Nagareboshigakure, a small Hidden Village far to the West, in a country in between the Countries of Wind and Earth. They have a...unique history, to say the least. And there will be plenty of time to explain the Kussetsukaze to you, but for now we must get Kushina and the boy to safety."
Sarutobi stood, shucking his robes and revealing himself to be wearing lightweight battle armor.
"Now, follow me quickly, and we'll get you to the Namikaze compound before anyone can organize their hatred and turn it towards the boy. Sparrow, Inu. Show yourselves."
Two ANBU, wearing a bird and a dog mask respectively, revealed themselves from the shadows
"You two guard our flanks. We'll use the tunnels beneath the city to exit unnoticed."
With that Sarutobi lead the way out of his office, the two ANBU taking up flanking positions around Rin, Kushina, and the Yondaime's legacy.
Sixteen Years Later
Sixteen year old Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze stood in front of the Academy, taking a deep breath to get over his nerves before entering. He had been excited that he would be allowed to test for genin with other prospective ninja, but he was nervous, as he had spent the past sixteen years living outside the city, in his father's clan's old compound. He rarely entered Konoha with his mother Kushina or his guardian Rin, much less alone, his mother and guardian having decided long ago that it was unsafe, and instead had taken him on trips to other villages to get him some outside interaction. But today, he was going to make them see. He was going to make them all see that he wasn't the bastard fox sealed within him.
He was dressed in black pants and black boots, with a deep red jacket over a white shirt. His hair was tied back in a ponytail and was streaked with some red and black highlights, completely at odds with his brilliant blue eyes.
Naruto grinned as a cute blonde girl raced past him, chasing a girl with bright pink hair yelling something about "Ino-pig." Naruto chuckled when a tall boy with brown spiky pinapple hair muttered "Troublesome" under his breath. Yep, screw nervousness. This looks like its going to be interesting.
Nearby Kushina Uzumaki, Rin, and Mitarashi Anko, a jounin who had been assigned to assist in Naruto's last year of training, watched smiling as the boy they had raised from childhood, through all the difficulties therein, took his first steps into the world of being a true ninja. Kushina smiled as a dark-haired Hyuuga girl stopped with her escort, her jaw dropped at the gorgeous blond walking in front of her. Anko snorted as the ballsy boy who had hit on her on more than one occasion winked at the Hyuuga before entering the academy, missing the fountain of blood from her nose propelling her onto the ground.
"Well, the gaki certainly has some talent with the ladies. I guess thats what we get for letting him roam during those visits to Eizou Town."
Anko was chuckling louder as she, Kushina, and Rin stood and shushined away.
Naruto stepped into the room he had been directed too, smiling widely as he recognized several figures inside. He gave Aburame Shino a curt nod, having met the insect-nin and his parents a year before at a party at the Hokage's tower, and shared a high five with Akamichi Chouji, who he had met at the same party. He had told both his secret, and had been pleased that they hadn't judged him on what he carried inside himself. And he had been pleased to encounter another person who shared his appetite.
"Yo Chouji, hows it been man?"
"MUNCH cant complain MUNCH glad you made it for the exams MUNCH MUNCH hey, want to go get some barbecue to celebrate after the exams are over? MUNCH"
Naruto chuckled as his friend munched away on his chips. Naruto could swear he had never seen the guy not eating.
"Absolutely Chouji. I'll need to stop by and see the old man first, but sure. Meet ya at Hikaru's at say...six?"
"MUNCH see ya then buddy MUNCH MUNCH"
Naruto grinned and walked up the steps past a perpetually bored looking teen with pineapple-spiky brown hair, the previously seen blond and pink haired girls fighting over a seat next to another bored looking teenager with perpetual emo eyes, and a rough-and-tumble looking boy with red markings on his face and a feisty pup on top of his head who Naruto realized could only be an Inuzuka.
Naruto passed several other rows of students before taking a seat at the back of the class.
As he mentally rehearsed the jutsus he was going to perform for the practical portion of the test the purple-haired hyuuga girl from before entered, her long hair swaying as she looked around the room. When she caught sight of him she blushed intensely, but otherwise managed to remain standing. Taking a deep breath, she strode up the stairs with determination, passing the Inuzuka who seemed confused by why she kept walking, and stopped by Naruto.
"H-hello. Mind if I sit here?"
Naruto blinked and smiled up at the girl.
"Not at all, gorgeous. Sit wherever you like."
The hyuuga blushed as she took the seat next to Naruto.
"I-I'm Hinata. Hyuuga Hinata"
Naruto smiled at her, taking in her eyes.
"Hello Hinata. I'm Naruto."
Naruto noticed that the teacher was late.
"So, tell me, are the instructors here always late, or is it just ours?"
"No, they arent usually late. Iruka-sensei is probably just making last minute confirmations on test matters. Don't worry. I'm sure he'll be here soon."
"I'm not worried, I'm just a little nervous about the exams. If you hadn't noticed, I havent exactly been to any classes. I was taught by my mom and my guardians since I was born."
"Oh? Why wouldn't you have been allowed to attend classes with the rest of us?"
Naruto was saved from having to answer that question when the door to the room slid open and a scarred chunin with brown spiky pineapple hair entered, followed by a second chunin with blue hair.
"Ok everybody, quiet down."
The two fighting girls ignored Iruka-sensei. Iruka performed a few quick hand seals and suddenly his head was enlarged.
"I SAID QUIET!!"
Both girls slammed down into their seats, suddenly meek and quiet.
"Thats better. Now, as I was trying to say, we have a new student with us, Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze."
As Iruka continued faces all around the class turned to look at Naruto, some with confusion, others with glimmers of understanding as they heard his last name.
"For reasons that I cannot disclose, Naruto here has been being trained by his mother, a Jounin of Konoha, as well as several other Jounin selected by the Hokage himself to train him. He is here to take the genin exam with you all, and should he pass, two of you may find yourself on his team."
Iruka shuffled a few papers. One emo-teme with duckbutt hair glared at Naruto, wondering why this new punk was important enough to rate special training by Jounin instead of attending classes.
"Now, the first part of the exam will be a written exam. This will be followed by an obstacle course, accuracy exam, taijutsu exam, and a ninjutsu exam. Those of you who pass will be given your instructions at the end of the day. Now, as Mizuki passes out the exams, I want you all to remember that if you don't know something, don't let yourself get overwhelmed by nerves. Just skip it and answer the next one."
As Mizuki began to pass out the exam Naruto chuckled. A written exam? This is going to be a piece of cake.
Next to him, Hinata couldn't help but smile at her neighbors chuckle and eager grin as a thought passed through her mind.
I wonder if he has a girlfriend.
AN: Hope you enjoy this. I've got insane levels of ideas running through my head, and have been working slowly on a few projects with friends, and am even a primary beta/co-author on a massive and well established zoids fic (insert selfless plug for Dragon-Raptor here) but this is the first solo project I've really gotten serious about. I've got an extremely complex world developed, and can't wait to hear what people think of it as the story progresses. So please R&R. Any questions will be answered.
Pairings: At present I have only a few vague pairings planned, and one definite. I may offer readers a chance influence the pairings, or even to influence the victories of certain matches once the story reaches the chunin exams.
Update 9/21/2008: I noticed a few errors in this chapter, so I went back and fixed them. They are minor so you don't need to reread the chapter if you've already read them. I merely corrected a few spelling errors, as well as an error in this original chapter. it's an artifact of me adjusting the back story slightly that got skipped over, so I corrected it so no one else will be confused. Apologies that it was even there in the first place.
Now, translations. Whenever I use somethign in japanese in the story that I feel people should know the meaning of I'll leave the translations at the end of the chapter. if I ever forget to, dont hesitate to ask for the meaning.
Kussetsukaze - bending wind
Gouzenkaze - roaring wind
Kabatsu - fire strike
Kuchiyose no Jutsu - Summoning Technique
Cora - no meaning. I gave her the name cuz it sounded good.