Disclaimer: Don't own anything.
Missing Hokages. Chapter 4
Naruto shifted a bit in his tree top perch trying to figure out what was bothering him. At first it started out as an ominous feeling; then as he grew nearer to his destination it became far more foreboding. Now a hint of smoke wafted in on the wind coming from the sea.
"Something's wrong." The blond doubled his speed toward the Great Naruto Bridge.
If Naruto had been been above the forest canopy, he would have seen many plumes of smoke rising against the horizon.
The day Sasuke was defeated by Naruto, at a hidden Sound base.
"Where is he!" Screamed Orochimaru as he raged through his headquarters looking for Kabuto.
The transfer to a fresh body had occurred without incident, but he'd wanted the Uchiha boy to be his next vessel. Now he would have to wait for the imbalances produced after the switch to stabilize. Even so the optimum time would be three years from now.
Kabuto was found in an ante-chamber, near the entrance to the hidden base, pouring over several coded messages. Maps with notations covered one wall while the other held a large wooden desk where his assistant sat.
"Where is he, Kabuto? It is past time that he should have arrived." The snake sannin was in a foul temper which was not helped by Kabuto's explanation.
"So the Kyubbi vessel severely damaged Sasuke-kun, and managed to return to the Hidden Leaf? Most unacceptable." Orochimaru closed his eyes and inhaled deeply as he calmed down from his rage. His emotions were always difficult to control after a recent body replacement.
"An object lesson is in order for Jiraiya's newest student. Yes, a lesson that would allow us more subjects as well. Summon all of the capture squads; they have a mission." As the serpent-like man moved from the room his assistant asked where they were to be sent. In reply, his master embedded a kunai to the hilt in a map on the wall.
"There, and tell them to demolish that stupid bridge."
Currently in the Land of Waves
Screams of terror from men and women filled the air as nearly sixty ninja herded the population of wave across the great bridge connecting the islands to the main land. Any who resisted were beaten unconscious, tied, and carried by the others.
Tsunami could only hold her son in her arms as she carried his unconscious, black and blue, beaten body. He would live, but her healing knowledge was very limited. Tazuna, her father, was in far worse condition as his age made his health questionable at the best of times. A cart pulled by some, as of yet unharmed, men carried him with a few other fighters from the town.
Only the dead were left behind, and even they were not entirely safe from desecration.
"I like this one. She's so pretty." One of the sound ninja, wearing a skull mask, was cuddling a body close to himself. While his partner was hauling along the massive sword once belonging to Zabuza, the Demon of the mist.
"You are disgusting Yuroda. To fornicate with the dead is such an unsanitary habit." The partner was wearing a re-breather, and had not a speck of dirt on his almost disturbingly orderly white uniform.
"Jealous you are. Yes, jealous. This beauty is so perfectly preserved in death's embrace. Not a single sign of decomposition, and yet no breath in the body. Hah! I shall take great pleasure from this wench when she is properly prepared." The skull masked figure leered at the body of Haku with undisguised perversion.
Tsunami turned away from the ninja that were herding the people away from their homes. Life had just been improving in the impoverished nation when this occurred without warning. There was no one to save them, and they had no chance of saving themselves.
She cried silent tears as she held her little boy close to her body.
Naruto slowed his run as he came to the bridge Tazuna had yet to name when they left Wave Country on that emotional first C ranked mission. Two hulking forms guarded the mainland access with a third smaller form... filling out paperwork? What was going on?
Moving to ground level the blond boy moved cautiously closer for a more detailed examination. Using all of his prank training to remain hidden from notice, he found him self within fifteen meters of the bridge entrance. The ninja emblems on their foreheads bore the musical note denoting the sound village.
'Orochimaru's goons are here?' Naruto mused silently.
/"Well, looks like you won't be able to find sanctuary here after all. Look at the little man."/ Naruto looked closer at the man Kyubii had singled out.
'Explosive seals, he's going to destroy the bridge.' Naruto thought with increasing outrage and pain from his arms.
/"Looks that way. I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of his forces are killing the people of the country indiscriminately. Can you feel those chakra sources out beyond the water? I count, at least, forty moderately high powered ninja. If any of them have 'seals' then that would increase exponentially. Just imagine the damage they could do to a simple fishing village"/ The fox spoke with a neutral voice, as if it didn't care one way or the other.
Then again it was a force of destruction unto itself. It may not care in the slightest, but Naruto's imagination had always been a little over active.
'I will not let that happen!' Naruto shouted at the being inside his mind.
Only silence greeted his internal exclamation. Gritting his teeth, he forced his chakra into the correct alignment. Through immense pain Naruto summoned nearly one thousand shadow clones without hand seals. Each had bone claws extending from their knuckles.
Clenched fists were locked in position, and righteous anger nearly consumed the boy. As one, the wave of orange charged the bridge. The ninja guarding the entrance, paralyzed by the army that had sprung from nowhere, were trampled without managing to produce a single defensive action.
But so Cold.
Deep inside Naruto's mind the Demon Fox watched from its cage as images consumed one exterior wall of the sewer it was sealed inside. Nine hundred and eighty-seven screens showing exactly what each clone observed. Chuckling at the savage fighting style, it settled in to watch the show.
Contrary to popular opinion the demon fox had nothing to do with the ferocity displayed by its prison. The boy was a natural berserker when he was well and truly angered or pushed too far.
Oh, it had truly tried to shape its jailer in the boy's youth. Tried to instill a need for stealth, deception, trickery, and manipulation. To some extent it had been a great success. In pranking the boy was unmatched, unfortunately, it did not seem to transfer to his methods of combat. A great deal of effort had been expended to teach the boy skills and brighten up his dismal lifestyle.
Then he had to succeed in becoming a ninja.
After that point the rage for all Leaf shinobi overwhelmed the fox. Only when its life was in jeopardy, or the boy forced the matter, could the demon even consider aiding the boy. All those who served as ninja of the leaf village were its enemies and must be destroyed. Such were the terms agreed upon and a demon always keeps to the letter of a bargain struck.
Now that the boy was no longer a leaf ninja. It could be much more effective in helping the brat survive.
Kankuro sealed the three new sound bodies into storage scrolls as his sibling looked at the bridge. In the distance, a mass of orange could be found exiting the other side.
"Do you really think he will need our help Gaara?" Temari asked as distant shapes were seen falling to the tidal wave. A large number of clones were being dispersed, but not enough to stem the tide, yet.
"That remains to be seen." Gaara said in his gravely monotone.
The group of Sand ninja had been trailing the fast moving boy over the last few days since he'd left the Hidden village. As official allies of the Leaf they were unable to offer sanctuary to the exile, however much they'd like to.
"Well, if nothing else we can cash in on the bounties for some of these guys. The two big guys are small change, but the small guy is listed as having a substantial bounty in the bingo book for Sea country." Kankuro said as he placed the, body filled, storage seals in his puppet Karasu for safe keeping.
"..." Gaara moved to cross the bridge at a nominally fast pace.
"Do you see that? I see an orange wave, on land, fighting, Senda." Yuroda asked of his partner on this mission.
"Yes, battle comes our way." Senda, the Emaculate, drew his umbrella from a sheath on his back.
The wave of orange bodies heading toward the ninja were being dispersed in groups where sound ninjas were meeting the charge. The majority of the capture teams were made up of Chunnin level ninja. For untrained peasants they were an overwhelming force. For a veritable army of high level Genin it was a more even match.
Fortunately for the forces from sound, there were several Elite in this particular capture group. The edge came from not really caring about the civilians in the slightest.
"Rain of Needles!" Senda yelled as he hurled his umbrella into the air. Masses of Senbon rained down on the approaching hoard. The random needle hit a civilian bystander or two, but with a careful application of chakra the former Rain ninja concentrated his saturation attack against the on coming force.
A massive cloud of smoke filled the area as hundreds of clones dispelled from the sharp needles. Each needle on its own only did minor damage, but shadow clones required only a small amount of damage to disperse the technique.
Yuroda set his prize carefully on the ground and, before the smoke cleared, began forming seals for one of his own Jutsus.
"Impaling Earth!" Slamming his hands to the ground, the masked ninja caused thousands of sharp barbs to spring from the soil. The barbs impaled anything in an expanding cone shape from his position out to nearly 50 meters.
Screams, moans, and gasps of pain erupted from the area in front of the ninja.
As the smoke cleared only one orange shape remained. He was pinned to the ground with barbs through the soles of his feet, and his body was covered in needles.
The greater atrocity were the large civilian casualties. The twenty sound chunnin that had been caught in 'friendly fire' were not of great concern to Senda or Yuroda.
"Now look what you've done Yuroda. You know Orochimaru-sama wont be happy with so many losses. He wanted as many new subjects as possible." Senda reprimanded his colleague.
"You launched an attack of the same magnitude as I did, yes? We are equally to blame." Yuroda picked Haku up from the ground and moved forward to examine the pinned body of the attacker.
"If you will notice, I, managed to contain my Jutsu to the enemy with almost no casualties to the civilians." He gestured to the two-thirds of the civilian bodies impaled on stone with no needles in evidence. The remaining third had, what would have been, non lethal injuries.
"It matters not. Is this the one Orochimaru seeks to punish." Yuroda had a, fresh off the presses, Sound Bingo book open looking at the Uzumaki entry.
Comparing the picture to the impaled boy he nodded in confirmation, and lifted the boy's semi-conscious head to see his face.
"Orochimaru will be pleased with us." Senda said even as the boy attempted to jerk free from his pinned position.
"Pinned like a bug he is. Yes, like a bug." Yuroda moved Haku's body so that it would appear to be examining the boy.
"Yes, like a bug." Yuroda said in a horrible falsetto voice.
"H-H-Haku?" Naruto asked recognizing the first person he'd ever seen die.
"She's MY precious!" Yuroda screamed jumping away and caressing the body possessively.
"You monster." The blond whispered feebly, and in an even softer voice he whispered to his tenant.
/"As you wish"/
A flash of green energy spilled from the boy in a blast of eldritch fire. The form of a fox was seen majestic in its power before the fire rushed back into the human body it was being produced from and the boy changed.
Now to understand what is happening to our hero some basic truths must be understood. The Kyuubi was a powerful immortal force of nature. Neither good or truly evil in its existence. In fact, it wasn't even a native to the reality it was currently inhabiting. The goddess Inari had chosen Kyuubi to answer the call of a powerful summoning contract created in the current reality.
It was to be a one time dealing with the mortals of this realm, but as with most plans something went awry. All it had to do was grant three wishes by acting as a conduit to the Goddess's power.
The first wish was for the ability to copy the skills of others. So that one man didn't have to spend as much time working to hone his own skills. Hence, the Sharingan was created for the lazy man.
The second wish was for a connection with nature so that he would always be able to provide for his family. Hence forth the Senju would be able to communicate with the plants of the land, so long as they trained their abilities.
The third wish was for a wife that would help him to establish and protect a happy, healthy family. This wish was where Inari threw the curve ball. Instead of simply creating such a wife, well, the Fox was transformed to the specifications, and the goddess wiped the mortal's memories of what they had achieved.
Only the men had taken physical notes that would be passed down through the years, studied, translated, mistranslated, and end up in the possession of Uchiha Madara. That, however, doesn't truly relate to the current situation.
In essence, the Fox wasn't inherently evil and the boy did need the help so why not lend a helping paw?
Massive amounts of natural chakra, as opposed to tainted chakra, flooded the boy's system and supercharged his natural regenerative ability. The boy had always been able to heal himself with sufficient chakra. It was his own human gift. A blood line as the hairless monkeys were apt to calling it.
So much power coursing through a body is likely to carry some side effects. It was fortunate that the transformation was far from unacceptable. Steadily the needles were pushed out, flesh was healed. The green energy seemed to suffuse the spikes of earth for the entire technique and caused them to dissolve removing any sign that the earth had been disturbed.
Naruto's body began to... stretch and grow into a larger, but still proportionate appearance. His golden locks lengthened to hang past his shoulders, and with a mighty roar a golden monkey tail sprouted from the base of his spine to wave menacingly behind him...
Tendrils of excess green energy moved over the area attaching to the injured villagers via the demon's control and injuries were being healed right before the paralyzed enemy ninja's eyes. Even as the fighter settled into his new form he forced his claws back into his hands. Flexing his fingers, he turned a fierce blue eyed glare at Yuroda and Senda.
"*You shall not win.*" He faded from existence.
Fading back into view the blond fighter gently laid the frigid form of Haku on the ground next to a soundly sleeping Inari and Tsunami. Green energy coated Haku's body in protective fire, and Naruto turned a nasty glare on those who had disturbed the ninja's resting place.
Senda and Yuroda, being hardened ninja, did not flinch at their opponent's new form or speed. Being ninja of sound, such transformations and ability increases were almost the norm.
"Yuroda, I believe it is time to show this whelp true power." Senda said with a viscious smirk as black marks began covering the skin of his hands. The rest of his body was covered in clothing, but his eyes became a sickly, glowing yellow.
"Yes, yes, we will show him and take our precious back. Yes, no one takes our property from us." Yuroda grit his teeth and opened his eyes wide as his body grew to three times his original mass. Muscle bulged, his clothes turned to tattered bits of cloth, and his skin became obsidian in color.
With a mighty roar the combatants met in savage combat.
A short, bloody, and destructive time later the Sand Trio arrived to a severe scene of carnage.
Shukaku, deep within the seal worn by Gaara, seethed at the raw damage done without its own involvement. Gaara, however, was far more interested in the female form carefully cradling Uzumaki's altered body.
"Come no closer! State your business!" The black haired beauty held senbon between her fingers with practiced ease indicative of great skill.
"We are allies of Uzumaki. Who are you?" Gaara asked taking in the two forms before him. Naruto had gained a mass of hair to go along with physical enhancements. The one thing that both shared, though, was a long, prehensile, monkey tail matching their hair colors.
"I am Haku, a friend of Naruto's also." Wary eyes gazed at the red haired Suna ninja standing with his companions. They stared at each other for several minutes before the prone form cradled by Haku stirred.
"Hey, Gaara did I win?" Naruto asked the boy in front of him.
"Yes, it appears you did." Gaara looked around at the civilians only now beginning to regain consciousness.
"Good, wake me in a couple of days would you?" No sooner than asking the boy succumbed to an almost coma like sleep.
Gaara smirked a bit as Haku began to look uncomfortable holding the sleeping form.
"Well, this is awkward." The girl said letting her ice senbon disperse.
Gaara turned at a shout from Kankuro a short distance away. He was examining a couple of the enemy ninja and comparing pictures in a small booklet. Watching as the boy pulled out some storage seals, he moved to see what the cause of his excitement was.
"Report." Gaara was succinct as always.
Kankuro straightened from his position on the ground after having sealed away the bodies.
"Two A-class missing ninja. Combined reward money for producing these bodies, alive or dead: 7500000 ryo.
"Impressive." Gaara was hardly phased by the large amount of money waiting to be claimed.
Deep within Naruto's mind scape, a fox demon was contemplating it's host.
'The little monkey did well. I wonder how he'll react to the additional appendage.'
Hopefully he wont spread that little tail problem to too many people. After all, how many people would actually resonate with the boy's chakra after this anyways.
Several females throughout the elemental nations sneezed as one
"Granny?" Naruto whispered weakly from his futon.
Said woman was lightly dozing against the wall and snorted awake at Naruto's voice.
"Naruto! You little brat. What made you think you could open the celestial gates like that. You've spent nearly a week recuperating. Even with your healing abilities that was a foolish thing to do." Tsunade smiled while brushing a rather long lock of hair from his forehead.
"I, Granny, I did some terrible things..." Naruto trailed off thinking of the images he'd experienced while asleep. It was disturbing remembering as he tore his enemies apart.
"Naruto, death is a part of our lives. We experience it whether we care to or not. Very little can change that. We protect our precious ones from death when we can, and comfort them when we can not. As a medic I have done my best to save those I can. The losses can be difficult, but we must," She smiled with a tear falling down her cheek, "move on and never waste a moment on that which we can not change."
Naruto stared at the strangely serene woman sitting beside him.
"Granny," He broke into a wide grin, "Don't cry, I'm alright now."
The woman smiled and pressed a finger gently against his left bisep causing a shock of pain to shoot through his body. He yelped loudly enough for the entire house to realize he was awake.
"Granny! That hurt!" Naruto tried to cradle the pained appendage but found this body unresponsive.
"You, brat, are lucky to be alive. Activating seven of the celestial gates like you did should have killed you. Instead you will likely be bedridden for at least another week. Even with the prodigious healing you have your body and chakra have been seriously taxed." Naruto took note of all the bandages covering his body and the casts on his legs.
"But..." Naruto's response was interrupted by a sheet of ice forming a mirror behind Tsunade's head. Noticing his distracted gaze Tsunade turned to the wall and gestured for someone to enter.
Emerging from the ice construct was the boy Naruto had seen die.
"Ghost!" Tsunade simply laughed.
"Haku has a special ability, Naruto. Hyouton users, like Haku-chan here, are able to use their bloodline to slow their body functions to a crawl. Essentially freezing their body in time while also causing a small snow flurry to call a medic to their aid." Haku took over the explanation.
"Zabuza-sama, had he survived, could have taken me to be healed. Instead I awoke to find you injured nearby, and we'd both been changed." At this a tail unwrapped from the ice user's waist. Naruto looked down his taller body at, what appeared to be, a blond tail wrapped around his own waist.
"Sarutobi sensei always said that monkies and men are cousins in the animal kingdom. You two seem to be a bit closer to them than most. I'm sure our illustrious Toad sage will be happy to explain nature chakra and it's unusual effects on humans. It won't hurt you at this point so don't worry about it too much." Tsunade turned her head smiling at something indulgently.
Then the door to the room slammed open. Two forms came scrambling into the room to land on the blond boy hugging him with a bit too much force. Naruto bit back a whimper as Konohamaru and Inari screamed his name and laughed in relief.
Standing at the door were the smiling forms of Hinata, Shizune, Tsunami, and old man Tazuna who was heavily bandaged.
A short time after Naruto woke up.
Hunger. The first desire to filter into his senses was an almost overwhelming hunger. Climbing from his bed, he stretched, only slightly constrained by his bandages.
'Such a sunny day.' He thought happily as he left the building with none the wiser.
Smiling brightly, he made his way through the town receiving odd looks. He ignored the looks as he brushed a blond lock from his eyes. Feeling cheerful, he began humming a tune he'd heard long ago. Nothing in the world could deter his steady walk. On the breeze he could smell the most enticing aroma.
Searching his memories of the area he determined that a ramen stand did indeed serve food not a block away.
None impeded his way.
Taking a seat on a stool he loudly ordered off the menu.
"One pork ramen, please!" The girl manning the counter dropped her towel in suprise.
"Yes, Uchiha-san." Sitting at the counter was Sasuke Uchiha.
His right shoulder was still bandaged, but where the bandages ended near his neck were tendrils of tanned skin leading up to cover half of the boys face in a light golden tan. Compared side to side the skin tones were at odds with each other. The changes included the boy's bangs becoming a sunny yellow and his right eye was bright sky blue.
Most disturbing though was Sasuke's happy smile as his ramen was placed on the counter in front of him.
"Thank you!" Sasuke started chowing down with gusto. Shortly after the boy had finished his bowl ANBU arrived to escort him back to the hospital.
Ayame shuddered as she watched the boy walking away.
"Dad, I think we need to leave town." She said absently to her father.
"Already ahead of you Ayame." Teuchi said as he led her out of the shop holding two back packs. Pulling a scroll from one of the packs pouches he unfurled it. Two seals later and his stand was completely sealed away for ease of transition.
"Jiraiya-sama said we should consider setting up shop in wave country. Said there was quite a market for good ramen." Teuchi smiled and took his daughter's arm gently in his and they left the village with the acting Hokage's blessing.
In the Hokage's tower.
"Jiraiya-sama, with his bloodline suppressed there is no way for Sasuke's body to resist the changes from the transplant..." The medic standing, before a serious looking Jiraiya, trailed off as he was given a dark look.
"What makes you think I am concerned about that? His execution is only a few days away." Jiraiya looked quite put out by the interuption of his day by the medic before him.
"But sir, I was informed that he needed to be in good health. To be placed back in the ranks." Napa Inkogichi said sweating at the fiery look in the Hokage's eyes.
"Who? Never mind, I bet you don't know who gave you the instructions. Just like you don't know who authorized that very same transplant. I am under strict orders from the Hokage. I will not release the seals on the boy. If he leaves the village he will die automatically. If anyone tampers with the seals he dies. In three days he will face the tribunal and meet the fate of a traitor." Jiraiya dismissed the medic from his presence with a wave of his hand.
As soon as the door closed Jiraiya rubbed his forehead in exasperation. Turning to face the partially completed construction on the Hokage mountain.
"You really left me in a mess Tsunade. Can't blame it all on you though, the old man deserves some of the blame too." Tsunade's image on the mountain was nearly complete.
Whispers said that part of the council was pouring through the laws and precedent to pass the title of Hokage onto him. His facade of a lazy pervert, not untrue but a bit exaggerated, was enough that several believed that it would be simpler to convince him to spare the Uchiha boy.
Not likely but more likely than convincing Tsunade.
'What a mess, almost not worth the rewards, almost.' The toad sage thought as he pulled the viewing orb from his desk drawer and began taking notes.
Naruto felt a bit of pain from his stomach as Inari and Konohamaru leapt off of their injured friend. Naruto just smiled at them as they apologized and started rambling on about how great it was to see him again.
Somehow, he felt that everything was going to be alright. He just had some changes the need to make, and some training that would have to be done.
'Just a little later though.' He thought as he listened to the energetic voices jabbering away at him.
'When did you all arrive?" Of the group in the doorway only Hinata moved into the room. Crowded as it was the others nodded and moved back to what they were doing before the yells pulled them to his room.
"We arrived two days ago. The evening of your fight." Hinata smiled as she knelt near her crush. Her cheeks became red but she managed to maintain her composure if just barely.
To be continued...