Naruto: An Alternative Canon
A Naruto fanfiction by Andrew J. Talon
Disclaimer: Naruto is the property of Shonen Jump. I am not writing this for profit.
Author's Note: This is a little bit from an alternate universe version of Naruto I've been toying with. Given all the other stories and writing projects I have, I'm merely submitting this as a sample of the concept. A much deeper, more complex Naruto universe with political intrigue, ninjas being ninjas, samurai, and chakra-based technologies. If you want more, I need to have a really big response given that I have so many other things to write.
On the other hand, if anyone would like to write for the Alt-Canon Naruto universe, feel free to PM or email me for details about how the characters, countries and other aspects are different. I consider it an open source universe.
With all that in mind, please enjoy.
Tenten lowered her rifle, keen eyes looking out over the training field. Each and every target's "head" was gone, reduced to cloth and sawdust. She stared a while longer at the targets, but her mind?
It was concerned with targets of another kind...
"Our first C-Rank mission?" Tenten asked. Gai nodded, looking solemn and serious. Despite his silly antics Tenten did take the man seriously-He was powerful, smart, and a good teacher. She'd learned more about taijutsu and explosives than she'd ever thought possible.
"Yes, my students! It is actually a high C-Rank mission, ruled out as a B-Mission for the lack of signficant threats." Gai nodded and looked at his students. Neji smirked confidently, Lee grinned, and Tenten felt excited, evident by her own broad smile.
"So, what is it?"
Gai paused, still serious, but continued.
"An assasination mission."
It was then that Tenten began to feel as though she'd swallowed a block of ice and her body temperate dropped below zero.
Tenten walked out to the targets again, setting up new ones. This done, she walked back to the shooting line. She slid eight more shiny, brass bullets into her wrist holster, expertly slipping one out into her hand with practiced ease and loading it into her rifle's breach.
Firearms were becoming more common throughout the Elemental Countries, for hunting or sport. The militaries had, at first, leaped onto guns as the next Big Thing, the Thing that might render ninjas, or swords, or even war entirely obsolete.
Obviously, it hadn't worked out once it was discovered that ninja could dodge bullets, and upper-class samurai could close in on a gunner and slice him in half well before he could reload if he missed. Which, given the majority of firearms, was almost guaranteed. War was thus not something that would be obsolete for a long time.
Still, as with all technology, firearms grew through experience and experimentation. The model she carried was a special, seal-covered weapon created by her father's shop for her, as a graduation present.
The bullet loaded, Tenten lifted the gun up, instinctively pouring chakra into the weapon. The sealwork within it bound itself to her chakra system, making the gun part of her body in a spiritual sense if nothing else. But that was enough to make it as accurate, if not more, as one of her thrown kunai.
The train ride was bumpy, especially while hiding out in one of the storage cars. But it was also the easiest way to get to the target without being noticed.
Tenten sat in a corner of the car, on watch while Lee and Neji slept on pallets nearby. She had tucked her rifle into a sealed scroll on her back, only the small revolver, explosive notes, numerous kunai and other unpleasant pointy things hidden on her person for protection.
It was odd how that made her feel vulnerable.
Tenten turned and smiled at her sensei, also keeping watch. His large frame was easily visible in the dim light of the rail car, sitting above her on a crate.
The jounin stepped down and sat next to Tenten, eyes intently on her. Tenten coughed, feeling awkward.
"You have been very quiet this entire trip. Yes, far more quiet than Neji! Which I thought an impossibility," Gai said, giving her a grin. A little of the tension relieved, Tenten smiled back and shrugged.
Gai nodded, humming thoughtfully. He raised his eyebrows in a way that told her she was holding something back. For a moment, Tenten imagined what it would be like if the eyebrows could talk.
With practiced ease that came from resisting the urge to roll her eyes at Neji's "Main House" rants and Lee's "youth!" speeches, she kept her features controlled.
"... About our mission," she admitted. Gai nodded, solemn again.
"What about it?"
Tenten cleared her throat and recited the information by heart.
"C-Rank mission-Assasinate Tetsukabuto Hiro, owner of Tetsukabuto Enterprises, for encroaching on the city of Masatune's commercial district. Ordered by the people and independent guild of Masatune, with bonus thrown in."
Gai was silent. Tenten looked at him and continued the briefing.
"Tetsukabuto Hiro. Served in the Fire Country Navy in the Shell Country War, was highly decorated for his actions. After being honorably discharged he built Tetsukabuto Enterprises from the ground up, first through his invention of what he termed the "cotton strainer" to make usuable clothing out of all kinds of cotton, then he diversified when the market bottomed out. Age 43, married, father of three children. Generous philantropist. Citizen of Bird Country after giving up citizenship in Fire Country to live at his corporate headquarters."
"You want to know why we are killing this man," Gai stated. Tenten nodded.
"I... I knew I'd kill, someday," Tenten began. "But... In war. Or killing bandits. If it was war it'd make it... Easier, somehow? But this...?"
Gai was silent as Tenten continued.
"He's a family man, he runs a good business, and... And we're killing him because some people didn't like him and...? And put together enough money for it?" Tenten demanded. Gai sighed solemnly, and suddenly, as he sagged ever so slightly, it was the first time Tenten had seen her sensei as, well... Old.
No old as in decrepit but... Old. Aged. He normally seemed as though he had been untouched by life's woes, happy, cheerful and optimistic.
As through sensing her thoughts, he smiled at her comfortingly.
"It's not an easy thing to do... It's not something to be enjoyed... But that doesn't make it any less vital."
"Vital?" Tenten asked.
Gai shrugged. "We do not receive the support of Fire Country. Therefore, we need to make our own money, generate our own revenue. During war that would not be a problem, but during peace... Well..." Gai shook his head. "We must support our village. If we cannot do the missions asked of us, we will receive fewer missions."
"And we can't just... Just filter them?" Tenten spat angrily. "Refuse them?"
"If we did, we would not enjoy our current lifestyle," Gai said quietly. Tenten huffed.
"Yeah... Rich off of murder."
"Tenten," Gai said in a firm voice. She looked up at him, almost defiantly. He sighed and shook his head.
"... If you cannot do this, then I will take the shot." He said. Tenten frowned, and looked at her knees.
"But," Tenten said, "it would just be delaying the inevitable... Wouldn't it?"
Gai nodded. Tenten sighed, closing her eyes and leaning back against the wall of the railcar.
"Sometimes you must do evil to do good," Gai said quietly. "That is our job as ninja."
Tenten nodded. She could hear the brakes beginning to come on, and felt the train begin to slow. Gai was silent for a bit longer, before quietly he spoke one last time:
"But... It may not always be this way," the jounin spoke seriously. Tenten looked at Gai in curiosity, at the unusually grim expression he wore... And just as soon as it had appeared, it was gone, replaced with Gai's "mission face" which seemed both inspiring and yet somewhat comical.
"Up my students! Our mission awaits!" He ordered.
Breech-loading guns were far easier to load, and far more accurate than the older muzzle-loading weapons only recently making it into the civilian markets, but even these weapons were somewhat limited in their usage among the militaries of the continent. The Hi no Kyouwakoku no Rikugun ("The Republic of Fire's Army"), or HKR, had a growing number of sharpshooter units who provided support to the infantry in combat, taking down enemies their chakra-enhanced blades or spears missed. The HKR artillery was easily infamous for it's chakra-enhanced accuracy and shell firepower. But guns would not become the dominant weapon for a long time, if ever.
Tenten had taken to them immediately, however. They were loud and noisy and reminded her of explosions, of fireworks in particular. For some reason, the sound, the sight, the scent of combustion set her senses on fire in a way that was difficult to explain.
Weapon loaded, she took aim. She fired.
The nest was an archive for the local university's books. Yuugo was expected to be driving by in his carriage in less then thirty minutes. Lee and Gai were to act as interference below, posing as construction workers in front of the build entrance. It would slow down any response and allow the ninja to escape.
Sitting in the upper room of the building on the sixth floor, Tenten sat in the Lotus position, her gun in her lap, trying to clear her mind of anything but her mission.
My rifle is not my weapon. My gun is not my weapon. My kunai, my shuriken, my senbon... None of these are weapons. I am the weapon. I AM the weapon.
She opened her eyes, looking at Neji. His bloodline was activated, scanning the area below for their target. He probably saw her look, his vision was 306 degrees... Almost.
The Hyuuga boy made no overt movement to acknowledge her, but she could tell he was listening.
"Neji... What do you think about this mission?"
The Hyuuga snorted.
"Did you not talk about this with Lee?"
Tenten flushed, and nodded.
"Yeah... I did... He said he knew he might have to do terrible things as a ninja... That it would be his job..."
Neji nodded, only minutely.
"Then you have your answer. This is our job. We must do it."
"Is that what you really think... Or is that just what you've been told?" Tenten asked flatly.
At Neji's silence, she sighed.
"I'm sorry, Neji..."
Neji merely gave a very small shrug.
"We ninjas are tools, weapons. A tool does not question what it does. It is not ours to question, but to carry out."
"So what does that make me?" Tenten asks with a hint of bitterness.
Neji turned, really turned, and looked right at her with that cold, emotionless mask of his. Tenten managed not to fidget, staring back in defiance.
"He is approaching. Get to your position," Neji said in a dull tone. Tenten managed a nod, and crept with her usual stealth past the stacks of books to the window. It was a warm day out, so the windows of the building had all been left open.
She eyed the area. She could already seen the carriage approaching, top also down in the summer heat. She easily spotted Tetsukabuto-High forehead, light hair, distinctive smile. He was aged but still seemed lively, happily chatting with his children and wife.
Tenten gulped. She felt sick to her stomach.
"Target will be in optimum range within two minutes," Neji told her flatly. Tenten nodded, and brought the rifle to her shoulder.
Her keen eyes may not have been able to see all around her like Neji's, but Neji had no talent for guns. He would not use them, they were beneath him.
Lee, well, he was a taijutsu specialist. He fought hand to hand, he pummeled enemies with his fists. Bullets had little effect on him, thanks to his Iron Skin Training Gai had put him through, hardening his skin with shock after shock and hit after hit until his chakra began to reinforce his body.
Gai-sensei had offered to take the shot... But Tenten couldn't let him do that.
No, she couldn't... It had to be her.
This was what she wanted, wasn't it? To be a great kunoichi like her heroine, Tsunade. To become the best she could. To master all weapons. To be beautiful and deadly like the katanas her father made out of rough iron, fire and water.
"One minute," Neji said quietly.
This was what she wanted... Just like Naruto. Naruto wanted to become Hokage. He wanted to be the best he could be, prove that he wasn't just some no-name orphan without a family, a title...
Naruto hadn't killed yet...
Neither had she. Not yet.
She linked her chakra to her weapon, feeling it become one with her. She pegged Tetsukabuto easily, her eye finding his head and lining it up with the site on the rifle. One shot. One kill.
He would be dead before the sound of the shot even reached his ears.
He was dead... He was already dead...
"Thirty seconds," Neji reminded her. Tenten gripped her rifle tightly.
No... No, he wasn't dead. Not yet. He was still alive, alive for these last thirty seconds...
Last ten... Nine... Eight... Seven...
Tenten slipped a bullet into the empty breech and closed it. The safety was off. Her target was in sight.
Six... Five... Four...
He doesn't have to die... You can miss... You can let him get away...
She shoved that thought away, tried to focus on the job, focus on her duty...
You don't have to-!
Tetsukabuto's head exploded into bloody fragments. His wife and children screamed, followed by the screaming of passerbyers, confusion...
"Let's go," Neji stated, getting up and heading out. Tenten rose to follow, eyes locked onto the carriage. The driver sped up, trying to get the survivors out of her field of fire. One of Tetsukabuto's sons looked up at her building, and she could swear he was looking her right in the eyes, his own wide in anguish and realization.
She turned and ran, the internal clock inside her still running.
Time plus eight seconds, plus nine, plus ten...
Time plus she became a murderer...
She hadn't expended all of her ammunition yet. She kept reaching into her pocket for more, slinging the rounds into her wrist holster and just as smoothly slamming them into the chamber with every shot fired, every spent casing ejected.
She had trained herself into exhaustion before, all of her energy expended through the barrels of her guns. All of her tension, all of her anger, gone with every shot.
But here, every shot only reminded her of that moment. That shot.
It was T-plus forty-eight hours, nine minutes, fifteen seconds. Her internal clock would not stop running.
As though she would forget.
No matter how much she wanted to.
She looked up from her rifle, the gentle rhythm of the train in no way a comfort.
It was a distraction, nothing more. She'd withdrawn to the far side of the car, Gai and Neji apparently taking the hint to leave her alone.
"Yes Lee?" She asked quietly. The bowl-haired boy looked at her intently, crouched withhis head tilted at an inquisitive angle.
"Nee-chan?" Asked Naruto, looking at her curiously. Tenten sighed and shook her head-He never did know when to quit.
"Naruto, I want to be alone..."
"If you did want to be alone, you wouldn't be out in the open, now would you?" Naruto asked with that damnable grin of his. Tenten rolled her eyes.
Tenten shook the image out of her mind, returning to the present.
"Are you all right?"
"I'm fine," she returned quietly, looking away. Lee frowned.
"You are upset?"
No shit, Tenten thought, but managed to keep it out of her response. She was patient with Lee when he was at his worst, she could deal with this.
She could deal with this...
"I'm just... Decompressing... I'll be fine."
"You are sure?" Lee ashed.
"I said... I'm fine," she stated flatly. Lee's frown deepened.
"You are simply-"
"I SAID I'M FINE, LEE!" Tenten snarled. She had her revolver out and pointed at Lee's head before he could blink. He stared at the gun leveled at his forehead, wide eyes even wider. Tenten, trembling, yanked the weapon away and looked at the far wall of the car.
"Just... Leave me alone," she whispered. Lee gulped, and nodded.
The moment they returned to Konoha she walked away, back home. She didn't care about the pay, she didn't care about anything.
Tenten continued to fire breathing hard. She reached into her pouch, and found no more rifle ammunition available. She cast the weapon aside and pulled out her revolver, taking aim.
"Hey Tenten, what's-!"
She spun around at the sound. She saw a human, enemy, threat. She targeted the center of the person's chest and pulled the trigger.
She saw past the instinct to the wide blue eyes, blonde hair, whisker marks-!
"NARUTO!" She screamed, the blonde falling onto his back, eyes staring up at the sky. Tenten dove, clutching at Naruto, her arms wrapping around him.
His eyes blinked. He coughed. He managed to look at her, wincing.
Tenten ran her hands over his chest, feeling the armor under the bright orange shirt, the hole where the bullet had gone through, been stopped...
Right over his heart.
Naruto gave her a pained smiled.
"S-See? Right here... My heart... Your aim's perfect and... Tenten?"
"N-N-NARUTO!" She cried, hugging him tightly and sobbing into the side of his neck. "NARUTO!"
Naruto, somewhat bewildered, wrapped his arms around Tenten, holding her to his chest and rubbing her back.
"It's... It's okay, Tenten, it's okay..."
"So... I killed him. I killed him and... His son looked right at me and..."
She bowed her head, looking at her feet. Naruto sat next to her, silent.
"Did you... What did you think you were getting into... When you became a ninja?" Tenten asked. Naruto shrugged.
"Well... First I thought, you know... It's just a cool job... You could become Hokage, get lots of respect..." Naruto smirked and shook his head.
"Iruka-sensei set me straight though... That being a ninja wasn't romantic, that it... Involved killing people, and being good at it."
"So... Why haven't you quit?" She asked. Naruto looked over at her, then turned to look at the Hokage wall in the distance.
"Every Hokage has had to kill... Had to die for Konoha... Probably be my fate too... But it doesn't mean I'm not still going to become Hokage."
"You... you idiot... Why?!" Tenten demanded. "Why do you want to die so much?! Die for people who just murder people who aren't even our enemies?!"
"Because I still want to do the right thing!" Naruto shouted, standing up. He pointed at the wall and looked right at her.
"I made a promise to become Hokage, so that no one would ever look down on me again!When I learned more about what a Hokage, what a Ninja has to do, I understood that it's not always a good thing! But that's not going to stop me from keeping that promise or making the right decision!"
Naruto sighed and shook his head.
"There are going to be times I'll have to do bad things... Even evil things, for the good of this village... But I am not going to go back on my word."
"... Goddamnit Naruto," Tenten sighed. Naruto shook his head.
"I made a promise... And I never go back on my word," he stated. "Because that's my way."
Tenten closed her eyes.
"... I'm going to see that little boy for the rest of my life... Every time I close my eyes..."
"Iruka-sensei once told me about a mission like the one you went on."
Tenten looked up at him.
"He didn't get too much into the details, but he had to kill someone important and make sure no one could take their place. He...didn't say much else after that, except that every once in a while he has nightmares."
"... How does he live with himself?" Tenten asked quietly.
Naruto shrugged his shoulders. "There's no secret technique that can make it all go away, he told me that when I asked him the same thing. You just have to push it all to the back of your mind and focus on the present, and remember what you're actually fighting for."
He smiled a bit at this. "It's why he chose to be an academy teacher. So he could always remind himself."
"My village..." Tenten sat down on the ground, cradling her rifle. She managed a small smile.
"... Thanks, Naruto... It's... Better."
"Aw, it's no problem Tenten! I'm glad I could help!" He grinned. "As the future Hokage, I gotta look out for Konoha and everybody in it!"
"Okay, enough already," Tenten stated with a smirk. "I like you better when you're being a smartass. All this inspirational stuff is kind of creepy."
Naruto sat down next to her and looked up at the sky, still smiling, but a hint of that rarely seen seriousness in his eyes.
"Just promise to remind me of all that when I make my first kill, okay Tenten?"
Tenten took a deep breath, and held his hand. She smiled back.
T-plus fifty-one hours, twelve minutes and eighteen seconds... She finally stopped counting.