Eh... I was watching Alien 4 and got struck with inspiration. I'm not normally struck with inspiration so I thought I'd go with it, can't promise it'll last ^_^
I'm moving soon, planning to pick up writing again when I get settled, so we'll see.
Physiological Notes: Ellen Rippley became like she was as an accident wherein they tried to completely separate her from the alien queen. Naruto's situation is different so that's why he's not quite like Ellen Rippley. See note on bottom for spoiler explanations.
Anyone who saw Ninja can't fly, I found that when I was most of the way through this chapter. Being honest, I prefer Ninja can't fly, it has more potential for hiliarity, though this one is fun too.
Team 7, a recently formed Genin team of Konohagakure were on the hunt. The three Genin were prowling through the underbrush of the forest surrounding their village as stealthily as they could. For some that was barely within the realms of stealth itself, but they prowled none the less.
Their teacher and commander Hatake Kakashi was happily strolling along a path within radio range, reading his book. If he were to help them, it would be too easy, they wouldn't learn at all. Yes, that's it. Besides he was keeping track of them, getting them to report in using standard operating lingo, that was learning.
Naruto was herding their prey, whether he wanted to or not, for it was he who was prowling barely within the realms of stealth. Being so un-stealthy, Naruto was the only person on his team who was within sight of the sky when something flew by overhead. The flashing light and whining noise alerted him to its flight but it was gone by the time he had seen it. Fortunately a defined smoke trail was left in its wake and Naruto decided that whatever had just flown over head made far more interesting quarry than any dumb cat.
"Wow, did you guys see that?"
Kakashi was first to respond, as per protocol. "No Naruto, we're all hidden but we heard it. Ignore it for now, Patrols will investigate and I'm sure we'll find out whatever it was sometime soon"
Everyone in radio range on their channel, which was just the rest of Team 7, was subjected to grumbling for the rest of their mission.
Naruto slipped below the threshold of anything stealthy at all after that event, but luckily Sasuke and Sakura were capable of tracking their quarry and capturing it without too much fuss, even positioning themselves to intercept the Cat 'Tora' as it fled Naruto's ruckus.
Sasuke, Sakura and Kakashi had met up in a clearing and were awaiting Naruto. Kakashi decided to make sure he knew where he was going. "We've captured the objective, Naruto. Rendezvous north west of your current position."
"Idiot still can't operate a radio. God, why did we have to have him on our team?" Kakashi ignored Sakura's ranting and Sasuke merely grunted. Still, that was enough for Sakura to continue. "It would've been better if it was just us two, right Sasuke?"
Sasuke winced slightly at the squealing tone Sakura's voice took, he didn't grunt this time, learning that even such dismissive noises were a response of sorts and should also be avoided.
Naruto was trudging along towards the rendezvous when he heard a rustling in the bushes to his left. He turned to them and saw a strange spider like creature erupting from them towards him at a frightening pace, a strange fleshy tail trailing behind it in flight.
Thinking quickly, Naruto ducked under it, and to the side to avoid the tail, he hated spiders, his blood was already flowing faster than it ever had before. He pulled a Kunai from his leg holster and threw it, using his turn to add force as he looked for where the creature had landed.
As soon as he spotted something black in his periphery the kunai flew. The creature dodged it and flew off into the underbush again. Naruto figured it was gone but didn't let his guard down.
He quickly put the index finger of his free hand to his radio ear piece and spoke into it. "Sensei, I just got attacked by some giant spider thing with a tail, I think it's gone but I'm not sure." He brought his hand back into a defensive position and continued scanning the area, listening intently for any noises.
A reply came immediately. "On my way Naruto, stay where you are."
In the moments Naruto's ear was distracted by Kakashi's voice, the creature struck. Naruto felt it land on the back of his head, the legs covering most of his face as they clamped on him in a vice like grip, the tail sprung out and lashed around his throat, constricting his air supply as well as blood flow to his head.
Instantly panicked Naruto thrashed around, trying in vain to stab at the creature with his kunai and pull the tail from his throat at the same time. He felt the remains of his radio be crushed painfully into his ear.
After a few swings Naruto's hand erupted into burning agony. He had managed to sever one of the creature's legs which led to a spurt of its green blood landing on Naruto's hand and his Kunai.
He didn't bother to see what was happening to his hand, he knew he couldn't use it anymore and that Kunai was on the floor somewhere so he abandoned pulling at the tail in favour of reaching his hip pouch for a kunai with his good hand. He easily found one but the blood had been gone restricted from his head for long enough now that his vision was fading into white spots and he was finding it hard to keep a grip on his weapon. He managed one weak swipe at the tail around his throat before passing out.
As soon as Kakashi got Naruto's message he stretched out his hearing, he couldn't make out the sound of a struggle, his hearing was abnormally good, his sense of smell too due to his summoning contract with a pack of dogs.
He turned to Sasuke and Sakura, not giving Sakura time to bemoan Naruto anymore. "You two stay here, be alert. I'll be right back." Since they were in a clearing they should be safe.
With that Kakashi jumped off in Naruto's direction. "On my way Naruto, stay where you are."
Kakashi arrived to find Naruto sprawled on his back with a strange spider creature seemingly dead next to it. It had seven and a half legs, which looked like long skinny fingers, and a comparatively fat tail which was still partially wrapped around Naruto's throat. The creature seemed to be on its back, and seemed somewhat deflated. A small mucus trail went from Naruto's mouth to a collapsed tube like protrusion on the belly of the creature.
Kakashi immediately assumed this was some new summon and it had most likely poisoned Naruto. He sent up a chakra flare, a rather basic Fire elemental technique, scooped up Naruto's body and rushed off top speed to where he had left Sasuke and Sakura.
Kakashi speared into Sasuke and Sakura's little clearing, momentarily impressed by their vigilance and how quickly they reacted to his presence. It took a lot of strength and chakra for him to stop next to them due to the speed he had been travelling. He quickly relayed orders. "Naruto's been attacked. Delta formation, top speed back to the village."
Kakashi then moved off. He already knew his students respective top travelling speeds so he knew how fast he could travel, it was very frustrating to limit himself to that but he couldn't afford to let either of them be attacked as well.
Sasuke wasn't entirely too concerned, he figured just because some spider summon had got Naruto didn't mean it would get him. His reactions and overall ninja skill far surpassed Naruto's.
Sakura however was worried, she wouldn't admit it but she didn't really think of herself as a better fighter than Naruto, more skilled perhaps but physically not as strong. If something got Naruto then it could probably get her. As such she made that extra effort to keep up with Kakashi in their triangle formation, just to be sure.
Once they got to the clearing before the Village gates Kakashi virtually disappeared from Sasuke and Sakura's view and appeared next to the guards. Both were shocked, they didn't know their teacher could move that fast.
The guard was startled when Kakashi appeared before him but not overly so, they had seen the chakra flare and a squad had already been sent to investigate, since it wasn't so far they had expected Kakashi earlier, but looking around it became obvious he had to bring the rest of his team in too.
Kakashi immediately addressed the guards. "One of my students was attacked, some kind of spider summon I think. Alert the Hokage, I'll be at the Hospital. Send my team there too." Then he was gone again.
Sasuke and Sakura came running up a moment later, the latter somewhat out of breath, even over the small distance, she had been pushing herself after all.
The guard addressed them "Kakashi has taken Uzumaki to the Hospital, he said to meet him there.
Kakashi was sitting outside the operating theatre, staring intently through the glass window into the room as medic nin bustled about his student. His mind was furiously going over possibilities. He had memorized the clearing, even without using his Sharingan his mind was crystal sharp when it needed to be. On closer inspection the creature lacked much resemblance to a spider aside from the eight legs. The incident was also significantly close to the time of the noise disturbance which flew over them earlier that day. Honestly he had no idea what had happened.
The Sandaime Hokage, Sarutobi Hiruzen, strode up to Kakashi urgently. "Kakashi, report."
Immediately Kakashi stood straight and faced his commander. "A few minutes ago Naruto reported he had been attacked by a spider type creature over our radios, I rushed to investigate. I found Naruto with a creature seemingly dead, its tail wrapped around his neck. I left it at the site for investigation and retrieved Naruto. I brought Team 7 to the gate then rushed here."
Kakashi paused a moment before continuing. "Sir, there was a mucus trail leading from Naruto's mouth to a strange tube like appendage on the creature, and it seemed somewhat deflated, it may have injected Naruto with some poison or something."
Sarutobi nodded gravely, this certainly wasn't good. They would have to wait for the team sent to investigate to come back before making further conclusions. "At ease Kakashi, we'll have to wait for the investigation team before jumping to conclusions. I hope the medics can treat Naruto for whatever may have occurred."
Kakashi nodded lightly, returning his attention to the operating room door.
It wasn't long before a medic nin came out to speak with Kakashi and Sarutobi. "Sir, Uzumaki's right hand has severe acid burns, there is bruising around his cranium and throat indicating strangulation but sir, there seems to be an egg of some sort that's been forced into his stomach." The medic zoned out for a moment, thinking about the way that thing felt as his chakra had scanned it gave him chills. "Sir, it appears to be completely resistant to Uzumaki's chakra, which is attacking it. With your permission I'd like to operate to remove it."
Sarutobi was Naruto's legal guardian, for obvious reasons, couldn't have anyone but him have such power over Naruto's life, not with him being who he was. It only took a moment's thought to consider. The seal was over Naruto's gut, not the stomach but he would advise them to avoid it anyway. He healed faster than normal, so a standard operation wouldn't pose him any fatal danger.
"Yes, proceed. Channel your chakra into his skin to expose his seal, avoid it if you would, though it would be safe if you cut over it, I would rather your colleagues not panic." He had lied about that, he wasn't sure what would happen. He didn't fully understand Naruto's seal at all, but if it worked how he theorized, then it was more an inky reminder of something imprinted on his soul than being a seal actually on his navel itself. Still, if he said it would be fine to them they'd believe him.
He turned to Kakashi to discuss what to do with the rest of his team while Naruto was out of commission, though that might not be long, when a wave of Chakra erupted from the room, throwing the medic nin out the door, others across the room. It was followed quickly by an ear splitting agonized scream from Naruto.
Sarutobi and Kakashi immediately rushed into the room. They found Naruto, flickers of red energy dissipating around his form, all the equipment and personnel in the room not attached to his bed thrown away from him.
Naruto seemed to have already passed out, perhaps from the pain he had been experiencing as he had erupted into that scream.
Sarutobi turned to Kakashi and indicated with a few hand movements for Kakashi to bring him the medic nin who was sprawled out next to a cupboard, currently getting up.
Kakashi and the medic met Sarutobi by Naruto's bedside moments later, the red energy completely gone already. Sarutobi turned to the medic, who seemed to still be a little disoriented and shocked by what had happened. "You were working on Naruto just now, what happened?"
The medic started at Sarutobi's voice and thought for a moment. "We were just scanning the thing in his stomach, sir, waiting for your decision. Uzu... Naruto's Chakra was having no effect at all on it but then this other Chakra appeared, you know where it came from..." Sarutobi nodded impatiently.
"Yes, yes. Continue."
The medic nodded. "It had an effect, sir. This egg thing started breaking up when that chakra. But that's when it all went to hell, some acid type stuff started flowing from it, when it contacted flesh it started burning it, so fast. Then the thing basically exploded under the chakra assault. Then we were all blasted back, sir."
Sarutobi nodded, they were now surrounded by the other medics, bustling about fixing the room, studiously avoiding being too close to Naruto. "Scan him again, if you would, what is his status?"
The medic hesitated, but only for a moment before performing the scanning technique on Naruto once again.
He concentrated for a moment before speaking, the technique still active. "It's... it's gone, sir." Both Kakashi and Sarutobi obviously seemed to want more information than that. "I... I don't know, it's totally gone, his stomach is healed, his hand is healed too. I... That's all I know sir." He deactivated the technique and turned to the Hokage. "I'm sorry sir, we'll have to run more detailed tests to find out what happened, that technique only lets me know the physical condition of a patient.
Sarutobi didn't respond immediately, instead thinking on what this meant, hopefully the Kyuubi had intervened when this acidic substance had threatened Naruto's life, for it sounded as though it had, and that was that. An obscure incident but over. He hoped it was over. "Yes, yes. Please find out as much as you can." He paused and addressed the room. "Thank you gentlemen for your time, this is also an investigation of a threat to Konoha, so information is crucial at this stage."
He let the chorus of assent and salutations flow over him, he looked to Kakashi pointedly before moving out the room.
Once they were outside Kakashi spoke up. "Sir, the creature in the clearing had a leg missing. It would make sense, if Naruto injured it and its blood were acidic, that's what happened to his hand."
"Yes, that would seem to be the case, please write everything into a report and submit it to ANBU HQ to aid the investigation. I'll have the medics do the same but also include what you learned here, if you will."
"Sir." Then Kakashi was gone in a puff of smoke.
Sarutobi turned to leave, preferring to walk as it afforded him time to ponder these troubling events. He hadn't gotten far when Naruto's teammates appeared, having navigated the hospital's bureaucratic system and the ward system to find their teammate, not a bad time for rookies.
A day later Sarutobi sat in his office, the ANBU who had headed the investigation about to give his report.
"Sir. Conclusions of investigation IS3243 conducted by..." Sarutobi rolled his eyes and tuned out the procedural mumbo jumbo. He wasn't even giving their real names, just their ANBU aliases.
"After arriving at the scene indicated by Hatake Kakashi's signal flare we began an area sweep utilizing the scent abilities of Hound heavily." He was an Inuzuka, they were so handy. "Three scent trails were found. Uzumaki's, Hatake's and the organism we recovered. The organism's trail led to a crater containing a mostly circular, burnt shell of steel. It appeared to have been broken out of and the insides appear to have been organic. I'm told by perimeter defence that based on the descent trajectory of the object as it entered and then exited our outer detection field that the object had fallen from the sky, or too far away to calculate."
The ANBU brought a folder to his face to remind himself of the details before closing it and again holding it behind his back. "Autopsy reports on the creature confirm it is unlike any other known creature, its blood and internal flesh is highly acidic and corrosive, it has only a heart and lungs. Eight legs and a muscular tail. Skeletal structure appears to be steel and one sack and delivery organ which we assume contained the 'egg' found in Uzumaki's throat."
Again he checked the folder to remind himself, though only a glance. "I have only the initial medical tests as a separate medical investigation is underway at this time. When he was brought to..." The ANBU halted as Sarutobi waved his hand dismissively.
"That's quite alright, I'm aware of those details. Thank you for your work." The ANBU nodded and disappeared in a puff of smoke, returning to his standard duties.
Sarutobi sat back and lit his pipe. This was an eyes only investigation, him and the staff working on it, he was also scheduled for a council meeting later. He would check on Naruto tomorrow, the boy was still unconscious. Sarutobi was already planning on how to portray the results of the investigation at the council meeting, if he phrased it just right he might be able to basically sell the corpse of the thing to Danzo for maybe up to a year or so's peace and quiet from his incessant badgering. 'war' this, 'weaponised ninja program' that, 'the roots of the great tree' the other. Bloody patriotism... why couldn't he have defected, of all the ninja.
Team 7 were only slightly less effective in their missions as they usually were, though they didn't have any missions which took any real effort, only the skill missions. Of course the two Genin of the team only noticed this fact when it was pointed out to them, they hastily apologized for bemoaning Naruto's skills lest they have to do without him for something like say, moving lots of stuff.
The next day, early, was when Sarutobi received the medical report, from the medic who had been assigned to keep track of Naruto's recovery and investigate any ill effects he had suffered as a result. He was the one who had been blown out the door, the head medic nin present for the surgery.
"Sir, I apologize for the delay in this report, I'm sure you'll see why when you've heard it." Sarutobi gestured for the man to continue.
"After the incident where a second chakra attempted to attack the foreign body in his stomach no signs of that foreign body have been detected, though the next day other affects became apparent."
He paused for a moment, obviously uncomfortable with the topic. "Blood samples indicated that the foreign body was broken up and dispersed into the patient's blood stream, as we would expect. Tests on the burned hand show it was healed through temporarily induced cell regeneration through rapid cell division."
Sarutobi had expected all this so far, he too knew a thing or two about how the human body worked, it was the rest of the report which he was really waiting for. Really all this should have been reported the next day, not a day later.
"Upon examination of the patient the following day I noticed some anomalies. Further study over the day has led me to believe they will not progress further and are stable. The first one I should mention is that the patient's blood chemistry has significantly altered, it seems it now has strong acidic properties, though nothing as strong as that of the foreign body, strong nonetheless."
The medic paused to sigh, shuffling his papers a little, feeling nervous under the Hokage's intense gaze. "The second is that all solid calcium deposits in the patient's body have become lined and coated in the same steel alloy found in the autopsy of the attacking... creature, the patients nails also."
"Hmm..." Sarutobi couldn't help murmur, as the obvious implications of these similarities flew through his mind.
"Based on these similarities I'm inclined to suggest these and the other changes are influenced by the physiology of the foreign body."
"The patient's rather definitive facial birthmarks appear to have disappeared, as well as his previously tanned skin has become rather pale, or greyed. Finally the structure of the patient's eyes seem to have changed structurally, I can't say how this will affect his eyesight until he wakes up, the changes are too small to analyse with scans, sir."
Sarutobi let the silence linger a few moments before deciding he couldn't think of anything to ask the medic that he was likely to know, questions such as "how does he feel?" etc, couldn't be answered really until Naruto woke up. "Thank you, inform me immediately when Naruto wakes up. dismissed."
It was the next day when Naruto woke up. Sarutobi had put a seal in the room for a medic to activate so he could be there as soon as Naruto woke up. The reason for this was that Sarutobi had visited and seen Naruto's eyes. He wanted to be there to comfort him should he need it.
The first thing Naruto felt was a headache, though it was going down slowly. The ceiling seemed to be in a strange black and white negative motif, it kept shifting though he figured that was due to the headache.
He knew that ceiling, even though they'd changed the colour scheme, he was in the hospital. He sat up slightly, his limbs were tired but he couldn't feel any aches or pains so he must have been there overnight at least, he was always healed by then.
He heard some shuffling in the room and looked over to see a man doing something to a piece of paper on a table, he ignored it though because he had just noticed that man was only black and white, and he seemed to be shimmering. The whole room for that matter seemed to be shimmering slightly but importantly it was all black and white.
Naruto didn't panic, he could work with this. He tried to remember what happened...
That weird spider thing. He touched his neck, it didn't feel sore. Kakashi must have gotten there and saved him before it strangled him.
Suddenly the room exploded into colour, or not as it was still black and white. The vibrancy of the colour seemed to momentarily flash and the contrast strengthened, he could make out the tiny details of the plant on the windowsill, even though he wasn't even looking over there. A figure had appeared in the room, it was hazy, must be the smoke that always appeared.
After it was clear he recognised the Hokage. "Hey, Old man. What are you doing here?" Naruto decided to ask about why everything was black and white later.
Sarutobi was startled, the smoke of his Body Flicker hadn't quite cleared and Naruto had already greeted him, not just that but he had identified him. He was momentarily pleased by this, until he caught sight of the boy that is, for Naruto's eyes were closed.
"Naruto. How are you feeling?"
Naruto flexed both his hands, they felt a little different and his nails were pointy, but he felt fine. "I feel fine. My hands feel odd and my nails are pointy, and everything's in black and white, but I feel pretty good."
Sarutobi was unsure how to respond, clearly Naruto had his eyes closed, but his words implied he could see regardless. "Naruto, could you open your eyes for me?"
"Huh?" His eyes were open, weren't they? Gingerly he brought a hand up and brushed the pads over where his eyelids should be bunched up above his eyes, careful of the points.
First he noticed that he could still see his fingers, just above the centre of his vision, next he noticed that no, his eyelids weren't bunched up, he moved them down and found his eye closed.
In his shock he opened his eyelids and he was immediately assaulted by how offensively bright it was. He recoiled in shock, closing his eyes and shielding them from the light with his hands. Immediately the world reverted to black and white and he could only make out blurry figures from behind where his hands were, though make them out he could.
"Uh... It's bright, that hurt." He moved his hands down and squinted his eyes open slowly, letting them adjust to the light. "That was weird." Slowly he opened his eyes as they got used to the brightness.
He looked at his hand to investigate the sharp fingernails and found them to be... metal. "Eh, who painted my nails silver?" Naruto looked up. He noticed the Hokage flinch when he made eye contact. "Uh, what's wrong Old man?"
Sarutobi had sent the medic out the room, expecting an emotional scene and wanting to protect Naruto's dignity, he had therefore been able to just observe Naruto's behaviour and his thoughts were churning in attempts to put the clues together to see what was going on.
"Ah nothing, Naruto. You can see me fine I take it?" He decided to go slowly.
"Yeah, though, everything has a sort of white outline." Naruto looked to the potted plant. "I can make out the details on that plant even though the colour is kinda blurry." Naruto paused a moment. "Neat." He was about to ask what happened when Sarutobi interrupted him.
"You mentioned earlier that everything was black and white?"
Naruto paused and then closed his eyes slowly. When he did everything had that black and white, negative quality and it shimmered. Not like an image in a pool shimmered but more like a pulsing, a minute increase and decrease in the intensity of the colours, up, down, up, down.
He opened his eyes and looked at Sarutobi, mindful of the recurring flinch when he did that. "Yeah, when I closed my eyes I could still see, everything was black and white, but negative, like... white outlines. I think I can still see that too, but the colours as well." Naruto looked down at his nails and then back to Sarutobi. "What happened?"
Sarutobi looked at Naruto's fingernails before looking again into the boys eyes. He couldn't get used to that, Naruto's eyes were now completely black. He could see where the different types of eye were by the texture and the pupil seemed to be the darkest, but it was black.
He decided to start at the beginning, take it slow. "You were attacked by an as of yet unidentified creature." Naruto nodded. "When Kakashi found you, the creature was dead. He rushed you here where they found the creature had..." Sarutobi chose this word carefully to dampen the implications. "Placed something in your stomach. Your chakra attempted to fight it off but was having no effect. Then the Kyuubi's chakra attacked it and it was destroyed."
Naruto seemed to sag slightly with relief, he didn't want anything weird or icky in him, he had enough unwanted stuff in his body already.
"The body of the creature as well as what was left inside you seem to be made of severely acidic material, your hand was severely burnt by the blood of the thing which attacked you."
Naruto looked at his hand, it seemed fine, except for the nail polish.
"The theory is that the remains in your stomach were so acidic they posed a great risk to your body and the Kyuubi's chakra reacted to save you, and itself as well."
Naruto nodded, he was lucky then if not for the Kyuubi he'd be dead. Silver lining's and all that. And silver nail polish... Not to mention everything was now silver, or white, outlined.
"It was dispersed without causing you harm, the Kyuubi's chakra seems to have also healed your hand." Sarutobi pulled in a deep breath. "The next day however you exhibited changes."
Naruto's eyes snapped to Sarutobi from his hand. "What kind of changes?"
Sarutobi decided to just tell them quick-fire, lest Naruto react verbally to each one. "Your blood is now slightly acidic, your nails teeth and bones are laced with steel and your eyes... Your eyes are completely black."
Naruto had been about to exclaim in shock but an amount of joy, steel bones and teeth couldn't be bad, the nails looked girly but hey no problem.
But his eyes were black? "WHAT?!"
Sarutobi nodded. He had prepared for this, in case Naruto could see out of his blackened eyes, he pulled out a mirror and handed it to Naruto. "Here."
Naruto snatched the mirror and stared into it. What stared back was definitely him. Same blond hair, same face, same whisk... "Hey, my marks are gone."
He looked at Sarutobi, one hand tracing his cheek, he looked back to the mirror to confirm, they were still gone.
"Yes Naruto. Your skin is rather pale as well."
Normally Naruto would be happy. No whiskers meant no reminder about the fox, got to be good, right? But he'd basically traded them for these eyes.
Naruto closed his eyes. He couldn't make out anything in the mirror, but he could see perfectly the shape of the mirror. "I can't see my reflection, but I can see the mirror. It's like it's not reflecting." He opened his eyes. "I can see it now... My reflection doesn't have a white outline, but I do." He looked at his hand to confirm.
Sarutobi had an idea. He knew what Naruto was thinking, his eyes looked rather evil, not something he needed in his situation. "I have an idea Naruto." Naruto gave him his attention. "If you can see with your eyes closed, then perhaps you can keep them closed around the village?"
Naruto's eyes immediately widened, of course! If nobody saw his eyes then they couldn't say they were evil or that he was evil.
"Yeah! Then they can't say it's because I'm a demon or something 'cause they won't know!"
Sarutobi nodded. "Naruto, this is important. Only you or I know you can see, I advise it stay that way."
Naruto nodded, Sarutobi continued. "If we were to create a rouse that you were blinded by the attack, say the blackness of your eyes is because of that, you can keep them closed." Sarutobi began pacing the room. "Perhaps if we say I'm training you in a chakra technique to compensate, yes, there was a chakra sonar technique that Sensei... yes that could work..." Sarutobi trailed off, lost in his musings.
Naruto had no idea what he was on about. "Uh... Old man?"
Sarutobi snapped to attention. "Ah sorry. For the next few days you'll be in my office, we'll pretend you're learning a chakra technique my Sensei used, to compensate for your 'blindness'." He stopped pacing. "Whenever someone comes in you are to emit chakra, focus it around your face, okay?"
Naruto nodded. "Yeah, I can do that." A moment. "So then if I open my eyes people will think I'm blind, but I'll be seeing stuff?" Sarutobi nodded. "But I shouldn't in the village because they... They look evil don't they?"
Sarutobi thought for a moment on the correct words. "Not Evil, Naruto. They are reminiscent of the Hyuuga's eyes, but in your situation, pure black eyes wouldn't probably be accepted the same way the Hyuuga's eyes are accepted.
Naruto knew the old man was being nice, he thought they looked evil. It was a bit scary when he looked in the mirror, scary not just to see yourself but not yourself, scary because if they were someone else's eyes he'd be scared of that person.
Sarutobi decided to try and lighten the mood. "I believe, that to prevent you from being poisoned or damaged by what was left of that thing, the Kyuubi or its chakra adapted you so you were similar to it, hence your blood now being acidic." It wasn't much lighted but it was lighter nonetheless.
"It's also possible that it did this because these changes are advantageous. After all, you can see blindfolded now, hmm."
Naruto tried to smile at that, really he did but he was still feeling a bit depressed about having black eyes. He liked his eyes white and blue, really... they were cool.
Sarutobi continued with his thought, mindless of Naruto's wandering depression. "Naruto, can you see through my hand with your... um... second vision?" Naruto started when Sarutobi placed his hand over Naruto's eyes.
Naruto repressed the urge to move his head back so he could see. Everything was a bit blurry but he could still mostly see in black and white. "It's a bit blurry but yeah I can."
Sarutobi hummed. "Close your eyes, Naruto and then tell me if your second vision goes out."
Naruto closed his eyes and Sarutobi moved his hand down over Naruto's nose. "I can see fine now." Sarutobi hummed again and moved his hand up. When his hand was over Naruto's forehead Naruto responded. "I can't see anything now, just your hand, though it's really clear.
Sarutobi took away his hand. "You can open your eyes now. It seems as if your second sight comes from around your eyebrows or behind them rather. The creature we found had no eyes so I assume it saw in much the same way you see like that."
Naruto nodded. Sarutobi began pacing again. "This is quite advantageous, perhaps when you're training with Kakashi you can test how this vision tracks fast movement and such, or perhaps..."
"Um... Old man?" Sarutobi stopped and looked at Naruto. "Could we keep this... you know, just us two?"
Sarutobi frowned. "Why, Naruto? Do you not trust Kakashi?"
Naruto looked down, he felt ashamed to admit it but he didn't feel comfortable trusting Kakashi, truly trusting him. He knew how people could hurt you if you trusted them and Kakashi didn't seem to care that much about anything, that included him. "Not really..."
Sarutobi frowned, prompting Naruto to explain, even though that's not why Sarutobi frowned. "I mean, he's nice enough, though he's always late and he hasn't really taught us anything. He even stopped by to give me some fruit, it's just... He seems a bit distant, I'd rather we not tell him."
Sarutobi understood Naruto's hesitance. "Very well, Naruto. Stay here for tonight, I'll have one of the medics or nurses bring you to my office tomorrow morning for 'training'. Remember, keep your eyes closed and try to fumble a bit, you're blind at the moment, okay?" Naruto nodded and closed his eyes, his world reverting to that shimmering black and white.
Sarutobi walked out the room to find the medic in charge of Naruto, it only took a minute.
"How is he?"
"He is... coping." Sarutobi hadn't planned this conversation, oh genius shinobi, that was clever. He made it up as he went. "He seems to be completely blind, though other than that in perfect health."
The medic wasn't very shocked. "I see, I thought as much, now we're sure I can begin tests, see what precisely is wrong, perhaps it's only something simple..." He trailed off in thought. He knew the pupil was clear, maybe the black... stuff, had fogged the retina and could be removed?
Sarutobi hastily thought an excuse to stop the medic from proceeding. After all Naruto's eyes were fine, though it'd be nice if they were the right colour. "Ah, not to worry, I... I promised Naruto I would have my student look at his eyes. He's easily excited you see... Tsunade is quite famous, so it consoled him a lot to hear she would try and help him. Don't mention it yet, I have to find her first." Sarutobi grimaced, easily done as he had just made that up. He'd have to go tell Naruto just in case the medic let slip.
The medic didn't seem too disappointed, he'd probably dealt with enough stricken children to know how easy it was to promise something as long as they'd stop crying. "Ah, I understand. Then, until she returns, will he be staying here?"
Sarutobi shook his head. "No, tomorrow please have someone escort him to my office, my Sensei the First had a rather unique chakra exercise which might help Naruto. I'm not sure how effectively but we'll see."
The medic nodded. "Of course, sir. Anything else?"
Sarutobi shook his head but headed back to Naruto's room to update the plan. He would pull out the scroll his Sensei wrote the exercise in. Perhaps give Naruto some other chakra exercise to work on, couldn't hurt. He certainly needed it.
The next day Sarutobi sat at his desk doing his paperwork with Naruto sat on one a big pillow in the corner. He felt quite smug about himself. Naruto had a blindfold on, which Sarutobi had precisely tied just a little too lose, Naruto's exercise was to use chakra to stick it to his forehead, if he used to little or too much it wouldn't stick and would fall low a little.
He had also placed the scroll about his Sensei's chakra echo technique on his desk, at an angle where it wouldn't be hard for others to read.
People would mistake the chakra Naruto was using for the echo technique. Especially with how Naruto kept using too much, causing it to pulse out. It couldn't look more legitimate even if it were.
After his secretary had left, having confirmed the day's appointments Naruto made an intriguing comment. "Hey, Old man?" Sarutobi looked his way, trying to make eye contact through the blindfold even though he didn't know if Naruto could discern where his eyes were looking.
"Every time I mess this exercise up and my chakra pulses, everything shimmers brightly. Just now I made out a bird flying past the window really well, but before they were just weird blobs."
Sarutobi nodded. "It would make sense for this to be chakra based as the thing in your stomach seemed to be chakra resistant, indicating it had its own chakra."
Naruto nodded before getting back to work on the exercise.
Sarutobi thought for a moment before continuing. "Naruto I want to tell you I think you're being very brave and handling this very well. I know you haven't had it easy and I know how people might react to your eyes. I'm proud of you for that." He smiled at Naruto.
Naruto beamed back. "I... uh... now I think about it I haven't really felt like talking... I normally talk a lot, huh?" Sarutobi nodded and chuckled. "Huh, weird."
Sarutobi chuckled again and got back to work. He could live with that kind of side effect.
It was an hour later when Sarutobi's office opened up for assigning D-rank missions. Others were generally handled in advance, though he kept a few C-rank on standby for Genin teams. He enjoyed seeing the children pout at their chores and watching them outgrow them.
Today though he was preoccupied with worry over how this might affect Naruto. He had already had to explain the situation to Iruka, Naruto had kept strangely quiet over that time, only speaking in response to Iruka's kind words of comfort, also making a believable declaration that this wouldn't stop him.
It wasn't long before a team Naruto knew appeared. Kurenai's Team 8. Immediately Kiba and Akamaru smelt Naruto and turned to him, disregarding protocol as he always did, even in front of the Hokage. "Hey, Dobe what you doin' here?" Kiba kept the sneer from his voice as he was in front of his superiors but he always liked calling Naruto that.
Naruto faced him and found himself oddly wanting to hiss violently at Kiba for his insult, he decided against it, even though he felt it would be quite satisfying. "I'm learning to see with Chakra."
The rest of Team 8 turned to Naruto, Kurenai only after bowing apologetically to the Hokage, though he just smiled, keeping an ear on the proceedings. Hinata gasped when she saw Naruto's blindfold and immediately activated her Byakuugan. She gasped further when she did.
Kiba, oblivious to this, snorted. "Hah, what for? You blind or something?"
Naruto pointed to his blindfold, again repressing an urge to hiss, before turning from the group slightly, so he could still see them but obviously dismissing them.
Immediately Kiba felt bad for his comment. "Wow... sh... uh... crap man, sorry." Naruto ignored him, again focusing on his leaf exercise.
Hinata kept staring, focused on Naruto's eyes, his black eyes, not the blue she had seen so many times... Black.
Kurenai placed a hand on Hinata's shoulder and focused her attention forward, whispering in her ear. "Not now, Hinata."
Hinata nodded, her world spinning slightly as she turned to the Hokage to receive a mission.
Not long after that Team 10 arrived. Shikamaru noticed Naruto first, though he immediately figured what was going on, especially after glancing at the scroll on the Hokage's desk and decided that keeping quiet would be most respectful. He would give condolances later when it wasn't so fresh. Perhaps by then Naruto would be able to see, kind of.
Unfortunately Ino saw his line of sight and spotted Naruto. Choji too, though he wisely kept quiet. Asuma gave his father a raised eyebrow but got nothing in response.
Ino marched over to Naruto, though stopped half way. "What's up with the blindfold?" She was about to ask if Naruto had poked his eye out or something stupid but stopped herself, just in case he had. She figured he was being punished and forced to do chakra control for mouthing off at the Hokage.
Naruto turned to her, pointed at his blindfold and then turned away, again resisting the urge to hiss at her.
Ino's eyes widened, shit. "Wow, I thought you were being punished or something." Hopefully that would get her off the hook. "Sorry."
Naruto waved her off, intent on the chakra control exercise, though failing miserably at it anyway, giving off another pulse of energy he could see almost every strand of hair in Ino's ponytail. He'd always liked Sakura's hair because it was long and bright. Ino's hair was also bright but more dull than Sakura's. But like this, Ino's hair was really nice. Unfortunately she wasn't so the point was moot.
Ino awkwardly rejoined her team as they received their mission.
It was another hour after that that Team 7, the rest of, arrived at the Hokage tower. Kakashi immediately spotted Naruto, he waited a few moments for the rest of his team to but they didn't.
"Yo, Naruto." Sasuke and Sakura turned to where Kakashi was looking to see Naruto in the corner fiddling with a blindfold and emitting chakra.
"Naruto?" Sakura saw the blindfold and having known of the attack thought the worst. "Are... are you okay?"
Naruto smiled. He gave off a big chakra pulse, Sakura's hair was thicker than Ino's, it didn't look as pretty when it wasn't pink. Her face was genuinely concerned for him, that was a first. "Yeah, I think so... I can't see at the moment, but I'm working on it."
What happened next he certainly didn't expect. When he said he couldn't see, he saw Sasuke stiffen and his face tense strongly. Then he relaxed somewhat but marched over to Naruto. He stood there a moment, awkwardly. Naruto had to concentrate to not look up at him, since he was 'blind'. Then Sasuke gently placed his hand on Naruto's shoulder in a gesture which Naruto found very comforting. Naruto looked up at him, though Sasuke only saw a blindfold.
After a moment he lifted his hand and rejoined his position before the Hokage.
Naruto, still shocked, stuttered a response. "Th... Thanks, Sasuke."
Sasuke paused a moment, unsure. "Hn."
Sakura kept shooting Naruto uncertain glances, as if she wanted to ask lots of questions but couldn't because they were in front of the Hokage. Naruto was kind of glad he didn't have to deal with that at the moment, he was still coming to terms with his situation and the attention just brought to his attention that he wasn't alright.
The next few days passed in much the same way. Sarutobi had his secretary feed Naruto, no ramen, eat your greens!
After their initial encounters Naruto's graduating classmates stuck to just greetings in passing.
Naruto actually managed the chakra control exercise after a day or so, but then Sarutobi stuck a coin to the inside of the blindfold for him to stick to his forehead. The different weight and smoother surface threw him off completely. It took another day for him to master this.
Sarutobi then had him use his forehead protector as a blindfold but this only took an hour or so to master.
Sarutobi realistically knew the chakra exercise his sensei created was something more suited to Tsunade than Naruto, but he couldn't really keep Naruto in his office for say... six years while he learned it... could he? No... so any unreasonably early time is as good as another, right? So after only three days 'practice' Naruto was deemed to have learned the exercise to a good enough extent that he could now 'see'.
Naruto found the metal of his forehead protector blocked his 'sight' on his forehead and his eyes, so he wore it as a belt and had a black sash for a blindfold. He acknowledged he needed a blindfold as it would only take one accidental opening of his eyes and he was screwed.
It had also taken two days before Naruto asked why he couldn't use a mirror and practice using the transformation technique to pretend his eyes were fine.
Sarutobi responded that aside from some people having seen his eyes and lots of people thinking he was blind, there were lots of ninja who could see through the transformation technique, and most could sense when someone was using chakra, especially Naruto. So he would be caught out, not if but when.
So as it was, Naruto was now blind, but rehabilitated so he could 'see', and was fit for missions again.
Once he was 'better' Naruto went to meet his team at their usual spot, at their usual time. Sasuke and Sakura were already there when he arrived, though Kakashi wasn't, that wasn't a surprise.
He decided to take the Sandaime's advice and do some training on his chakra control in his spare time. The Sandaime had explained to him that the exercise he had been using to stick things to his forehead could be applied anywhere on his body, improving grip on weapons to even sticking himself to surfaces. Also, the same technique but with too much chakra could add to jumps or throws by using the chakra to propel rather than stick.
So after waving 'hi' to his teammates Naruto sat down and began attempting to stick a stone to hi hand with chakra. Also paying attention to the environment and how it crystallized everytime he messed up and sent out a pulse of chakra.
Sasuke wasn't too concerned by Naruto's behaviour. Sure he was normally loud and stuff but he couldn't see anymore. As an Uchiha, whose bloodline was based in the eyes, he felt it would be devastating and was impressed by Naruto's resilience. To be mission ready so early, Sasuke was definitely impressed.
Sakura however was worried. She expected Naruto to be acting depressed due to his new handicap, but she didn't know what to do about it.
This was why, when Naruto just waved at them and sat down, she interpreted his behaviour as depression and began brain storming ways to cheer him up. Sure, she didn't particularly like him but he was blind now.
Tentatively Sakura approached him. "Say, Naruto." Naruto looked up at her. "How are you feeling?" She found it creepy how he seemed to be looking right at her.
"I'm okay." Naruto fidgeted with his blindfold a little, uncomfortable still with how his eyes looked. "I can kinda see now, the Old man taught me a..." He had to think to remember how Sarutobi had said it. "Chakra echo technique." There was some animal, he couldn't remember what it was called but he remembered it looked like a winged rat with an ugly face. "There's some random winged rat thing that does the same..."
Sakura, being the knowledgeable one instantly knew what he meant. "You mean bats?"
Naruto nodded. "Yeah, I think that was it."
Sakura squirmed for a while, unsure what to say. "What's it like? To see like that?"
Naruto didn't really know, so he just told her how it was to see how he saw with his eyes closed. In a moment of inspiration he put emphasis on the shimmering of the images as the echo thing worked on pulses. "Everything's black and white, white round the edges or details. The white pulses, in time with the chakra I send out." He looked down at his orange jumpsuit, well, pointed his head at it. "I can't see colours, my jumpsuit looks a bit tacky without the colour."
Sakura sensitively decided not to mention that she thought it looked tacky anyway. "Maybe you could get some more streamline clothes? If you only see edges then wouldn't that look cooler? Plus..." She thought hard how to phrase this without being insulting. "Lots of famous ninja prefer those types of clothes." Yes, go Sakura!
Naruto thought about it. He couldn't appreciate the orange unless he was on his own, and to be honest that's not what he bought it for, he bought it for the way it was attention grabbing. But he felt oddly uncomfortable with that. The idea of lots of people all looking at him made him feel uncomfortable, defenceless.
"Yeah, that sounds good." But how was he to judge what he was buying? It would be hard.
Seeing the frown on his face, Sakura correctly interpreted what he was thinking. "I could come with you, to help you pick out some stuff? Sasuke could come too." She looked at Sasuke.
Sasuke, nothing better to do, had been following their conversation. "Hn." If his presence there would help, he felt he should be there.
Sakura stared for a moment, unsure.
Naruto didn't. "What does that even mean? Yes or no would be helpful..."
Sasuke turned to regard Naruto, quietly acknowledging that yes, that didn't really help. "I'll come." He turned away. "This isn't happening often though."
Sakura almost squealed. She was going to be going shopping, with Sasuke! Immediately she began blabbering to Naruto, though in her mind to both of them, about what they could get, what would suit Naruto, where to get it. Both boys tuned her out.
Today Kakashi had a reason to be late. Normally he was just late for various reasons but today he was meeting with the Hokage.
"As you know Kakashi, I have deemed Naruto fit to rejoin Team 7 as an active Ninja." Kakashi nodded. "I was speaking with Naruto about his training, for he will need to improve his chakra control if he is ever to master the chakra echo technique." That was true, irrelevant really to Naruto's actual situation, but true nonetheless. "Naruto brought up a few points I would like to discuss with you."
Kakashi got that foreboding feeling. "What might those be, Sir?"
"As you know it is a Jounin Sensei's job to properly induct their students into the world of Ninja. The Academy doesn't teach them many things they need because it is too open and we don't want people going rogue with any real ninja skills, I'm sure you know all this Kakashi?"
Kakashi nodded stiffly. "Indeed. With this in mind, you might expect that I was somewhat shocked when Naruto reported that you hadn't been helping him refine his Chakra control, for that is most definitely his greatest weakness. Nor had you taught him anything, at all." Sarutobi raised an eyebrow as he stared Kakashi down. "Obviously there must have been some misunderstanding, ould you care to enlighten me, Kakashi?"
Crap. "Sir. Although Team 7 passed the bell test their team cohesion is still severely lacking. Ideally I would like to get them all to the same skill level and then run them through D-rank missions to help them tighten as a team." Sarutobi nodded absently.
"Since I feel that training two students but not the other, Sasuke, would severely decrease Sasuke's temperament towards his teammates I decided to leave actual Ninja training for until they were a functional team." I hope he bought that.
Sarutobi stared hard at Kakashi, he was fairly certain that wasn't it, that was a pretty crap reason as it was. "Indeed." He let the pause last, intimidating Kakashi without doing anything. "We have a standard operating procedure for training Genin teams, Kakashi, I'm sure you're aware." He threw one across his desk, it slid to a stop at the end, near Kakashi. "Because one or more of your students skill level is below that of another is no reason to not teach them, Kakashi. Flowery words or no. Inhibiting your students growth will not lead to good team cohesion, perhaps training them all at once and having them assist each other in exercises? Perhaps teaching them at all! Kakashi" Sarutobi sat back and got out his pipe. "Dismissed."
Kakashi didn't waste a moment. "Sir." And he was gone. He knew that Sarutobi would be keeping a closer eye on him now, it was no secret he favoured Naruto and considering Naruto's condition, he doubted he'd let it slip if Kakashi didn't start training them.
Kakashi arrived at his team meeting spot to find Sasuke leaning against the bridge rail, most likely brooding. Naruto sat down holding a stone, concentrating hard on the stone... and Sakura appeared to be mid-rant about a clothing store, rather loudly.
Naruto and Sasuke turned to Sakura rather than Kakashi, resenting the damage to their ears.
Sakura looked to her wrist. Damn no watch. She looked to the sun. Then to Kakashi and raised a trembling but accusatory finger. She paused and looked at the sun again, then to Kakashi. "You're... barely late?!?" She dropped the arm, unsure what was happening.
"Hi." Naruto waved absently.
"Hn." Sasuke flexed his back, rocking forward so he was standing.
Naruto stood up after noticing everyone else was stood up.
Sakura was impersonating a fish.
Kakashi had a vague day play, he figured he'd improvise based on how things went. "Well, today we're not doing any D-rank missions." He paused expecting Naruto to cheer, when his team just looked expectantly at him, he continued on. "We're training." Again he paused, again no cheer. He'd have to keep an eye on Naruto, make sure he was okay.
"Today we'll be starting with Chakra control exercises. Chakra control is important and there is no such thing as perfect Chakra control, if there were a person would be able to do anything with theirs." Naruto stood up at attention.
"Right, well." He gestured for them to follow him as he made for the tree line. "I wasn't planning to teach you this yet, but circumstances have changed." He looked at Naruto briefly. "Today we will be climbing trees..."
Sarutobi had actually waited a few days before bringing up the matter of the creature's corpse to the council. They had asked about it and in a spot of childishness he had hoarded his treasure from them to make them jealous, it had worked wonderfully.
He felt bad about using Naruto for his own ends, but the changes to his physiology were already documented so there was little use hiding them.
As such he had presented the findings on both the creature's body as well as the medical report on Naruto as well as some embellished theories on how and what had happened to Naruto.
As predicted Danzo had immediately come to the conclusion that they must find a way to induce these changes, minus the ocular changes, in all ninja. Indeed once Danzo had spoken on the matter the entire council could see the benefits. Steel bones were a definite boon, as were steel claws, a permanent weapon if you would. But the main point was the acidic blood, Danzo was quite creative in its applications, as it had been found corrosive enough to melt through, essentially, anything.
Infiltration? I'll just melt open the lock shall I... Torture? Oh your implements seem to have melted, here let me spit some blood at you... Quite.
Sarutobi was quite proud of himself. He had pretended that he wanted to keep Danzo under observation to ensure their specimen was not stolen, protection he called it. But really they both knew it was a rouse to cover Sarutobi spying on Danzo, making sure he wasn't trying any more of that root crap.
From Danzo's reaction Sarutobi guessed that he had been trying it, but it was too late. Danzo's strong words and firm stance towards studying the creature meant he couldn't very well decline when Sarutobi offered him the chance to oversee the project. Saying something like 'I can't, you'll spy on me and find my illegal plots.' Wouldn't really cut it.
The council were very supportive of him placing such 'protection' over Danzo and the project, Sarutobi figured they feared Danzo might try testing on people. Sarutobi knew he wouldn't, because if he got caught then he'd be executed, can't take over without a head.
Training for Team 7 was far more fun than D-rank missions. Sakura had immediately mastered Tree walking, but hadn't done so well when she'd had to keep it up for a while. Naruto had initially been second best, due to his practice on a similar exercise but that had faltered and soon he and Sasuke were about even.
Sakura had been giving help between the physical exercise and tree walking marathon's Kakashi had her doing, anything for a break.
It took almost a week but Naruto and Sasuke mastered the tree walking exercise. In that time Sakura had come along in leaps and bounds in her physical fitness, though she still had nothing on the boys of the team.
At this point Kakashi decided they had probably caught up or overtaken where they would be under say Kurenai or Asuma, probably not Gai... Shudder. So he took them back to the mission office to request a mission.
Unfortunately, after being treated to training, as well as having gained some confidence over the week, Naruto wasn't standing for it. He refused the proffered D-rank mission, claiming they had been training hard and deserved a C-rank, not to mention that he could see fine.
Sarutobi knew this last bit better than anyone, so he gave them one of the C-ranks he had kept for such an instance, the client was rather offensive in more ways than one, dealing with him would be a good lesson to have now, under supervision rather than on their own later.
And so, Team 7 set off for the country of Wave.
On the way there, Naruto busied himself with releasing pulses of Chakra and observing the environment, Sasuke walked, Kakashi read and Sakura talked to the client, or Sasuke.
When they were fairly close to the port they would be using Naruto noticed something odd. "Uhh... guys."
Nobody stopped, Kakashi responded though, as he had an idea of what Naruto had spotted. "What is it, Naruto?"
"There's two guys in that puddle there, that's not normal, right?"
Sasuke and Sakura immediately took up formation around Tazuna while Kakashi put his book away. Naruto took this to mean that no, it wasn't normal. He slipped himself into formation next to Sasuke and awaited Kakashi's command.
Kakashi had been planning on letting the demon brothers attack, to see who they were targeting, if they were after Tazuna, that was conclusive proof he had lied about the mission parameters. That was out now, so he improvised.
"Maa... Guys in the puddle?" After a moment they slowly rose out of the water, not a drop remaining on them. They each wore a gauntled on opposing hands and they were connected by a vicious chain. As Kakashi had intended, they figured he was an idiot, because he was acting like one. They attacked him first, quickly wrapping him in their chain before pulling. Sasuke and Sakura saw Kakashi be torn into chunks not far down the road from them. Naruto saw everything crystal clear for a moment, Kakashi sped off at great speed and a big log appeared where he had been inside the chain.
Sakura screamed, Sasuke acted. He took out a kunai and threw it at the chain, it caught in a hole and stuck to the ground, he then threw several shuriken and another kunai at the point the chain met the ground, successfully anchoring it. The demon brothers were caught when the slack ran out and pivoted around the catch in their chain with their momentum and slammed into each other. Before they could recover Sasuke was upon them, he slammed their heads together and kicked them both in the stomach, vaulting backwards.
Before he could make another move, Kakashi appeared, knocking them both out straight away. It was obvious they would have to fight to get to Tazuna so he couldn't pinpoint their target that way, so hiding became pointless.
Sakura screamed again, Sasuke was a little surprised, Naruto was impressed with how fast Kakashi moved.
When they had reached Wave, and were on their way to Tazuna's house Naruto noticed something in the trees. He sent out a larger burst of Chakra and was able to discern a person hidden ahead, it seemed the person was waiting for them, an ambush?!
He looked at Kakashi, he still had his book out. Naruto picked up a stone and flicked it at Kakashi. Kakashi looked at Naruto but Naruto ignored him, staring at where the person was.
Kakashi was unsettled by Naruto's behaviour so he put his book away and focused on their surroundings. Immediately he noticed a brief chakra signature to their right, but Naruto seemed to be intent on something to the left.
Then suddenly Naruto threw a Kunai at the figure, hoping to surprise it. The figure substituted itself for a rabbit.
Without even thinking, Naruto dashed off into the bushes after the figure. As soon as he had attacked the figure, to him that made them his prey and he didn't lose prey.
"Naruto!" Kakashi exclaimed, keeping his attention to the right. The signature shifted, perhaps thinking Kakashi had been distracted by his student's sudden departure. "DOWN!" He jumped to grab Tazuna while his students hit the deck, an enormous sword passing overhead. He'd have to deal with Naruto later.
Absently Naruto wondered at his behaviour, it wasn't like him to do such things he knew, but his focus was mainly on the figure he was pursuing. He flew through the trees, his powerful legs shooting him from branch to branch, his arms grabbing holds, using his steel nails to gain strong purchase and wrench him ahead faster.
He was gaining fast on the figure, he felt excited, his mouth was watering, some drool escaping his open mouth, his steel lined teeth shining in the gloom.
When he was nearly upon the figure, who appeared to be trying to double back, he pounced. He didn't think about the action, just knew it instinctively, the next branch he came to he landed on, his legs already folded, he rocked forward, pointing his head forward like the tip of an arrow and exploded forward, his hands forward, ready to grab the figure. He had an urge to rake his nails at the figure but suppressed it, he wanted to catch them not shred them.
The figure reacted impressively, one hand making strange seals before they vanished into a disfigured piece of ice.
Naruto saw a flash, eminate from the ice moments after the figure entered it, it was easy as he was now right next to the ice. He guessed the flash was the figure escaping, so he darted off in that direction.
It only took a moment, the figure was moving far more sluggishly than before.
Haku was not having a good day. First the Ambush on what looked like a perfectly innocent Genin team for their unlucky target, all so they could get some money out of a greasy man. How low had they sunk?
Now one of those 'innocent' Genin was chasing closing in. Haku was definitely a speed fighter, outstripping even Zabuza in speed, though certainly not power, but this Genin was gaining rapidly.
Haku only had a brief moment between luckily looking around as the Genin pounced and escaping. Forcing every little bit of Chakra available Haku forced some ice to appear far faster than normally possible, it was draining but perhaps Haku was home free?
After exiting the other ice fragment, which thankfully had longer to form, Haku set off to find Zabuza, they had to retreat and regroup, this Genin was an unknown quantity, what's to say about the rest of the group?
Naruto was almost upon the figure, again, when they turned and threw needles at him. Naruto grabbed a branch he was flying past, his arm wrenched at the force and the branch creaked, but he swung out of the way of the incoming needles.
Quickly using his momentum to swing above the branch and place himself on it, Naruto took in the situation. The figure was standing there wearily, needles in hand, tense.
Naruto relaxed into his crouch, he felt a sense of power in the hunt he had been on, exhilaration, this person had run from him, run extremely fast and used some weird ice thing to escape, but they couldn't escape him.
He grinned down at the figure, baring his shiny teeth, glistening with saliva.
The figure was shifting slightly, the tension was getting to them. They would move, that would be his opening, then he would strike.
Sure enough, only a few seconds later the figure's masked head turned slightly to the side, when Naruto didn't move it shot to the side and back, looking at the surroundings, trying to find the best route of escape.
By the time the slanted eyes were pointed again at Naruto he was already there.
The figure slashed wildly with the needles, backpedalling. After a few moments the needles became ineffective, they had been melted dangerously close to the figures hands.
Naruto pressed his advantage, the slashes he had incurred stung a bit and he hadn't managed to touch the figure yet but the figure was about to back up into a tree.
Sure enough Haku's back hit the tree and immediately Naruto was there, hand around throat, choking.
Haku tried to speak. "P..chkshh..pless.." Naruto interpreted that as 'please' but did not let himself be distracted.
Haku's right hand slipped behind him and he began to make one handed seals, if he could get another second or two the Genin would be filled with ice needles.
Naruto had seen Haku make the one handed seals however, he instinctually knew Haku was doing something with the hidden hand, even as the visible one grabbed for some Senbon.
Naruto's spare hand shot out and grabbed Haku's right forearm near the wrist. He wrenched it into view, it was mid-seal, frozen in shock. Naruto squeezed as hard as he could and felt the bone crunch.
Haku felt desperate. Without that hand there was little chance at escape, perhaps a Senbon to the neck, but the likelihood of that was slim, the Genin had him pinned bodily against the tree so kicks were useless.
After a moment Haku accepted fate, death was coming, hopefully Zabuza would survive.
Naruto saw through the mask slits that the figure had closed their eyes, apparently they thought he would kill them. But they were on a mission and information was crucial, or so Iruka had always said, so if he got this person back to Kakashi, maybe they could learn something useful, form a plan or something.
Using the fact the figures eyes were closed, Naruto spun him... her? Spun it round to face the tree and let go of the arm with a broken wrist, or at least damaged wrist, he couldn't tell what colour it was.
He then grabbed the other hand and quickly threaded his fingers through the figures fingers. No one handed seals for you!
He then spun the figure round, keeping the good hand behind their backs and using his free hand on the figures shoulder to steer, he began marching them. "Come on, off we go. No murdering for you today."
Naruto sent out a big pulse of chakra, but he couldn't see past all the trees, so he made a guess based on his situational awareness to where they had come from, they could follow down the path or whatever once they were there.
Naruto came out exactly where they had come from, his sense of direction wasn't normally that good, but there was a time and a place for such thoughts. Looking up and down the road he spotted Sakura and Sasuke near Tazuna and what he thought was water, it rippled, though he thought he could see someone standing on it?! Maybe it was mud or something.
He, came to a clearing and what sounded like a lake, he wished he could take his blindfold off. There was some big muscle guy there on the water with a blob of Water...
Naruto pulsed some Chakra and saw that Kakashi was in that blob of water.
The big guy had been in the middle of explaining how he was going to gut the old man and the other two could watch or join in when he noticed Naruto and Haku's approach.
"Haku, you were captured by a Genin?"
Haku's voice came from the mask, a bit strained from the pain and embarrassment/shame. "I'm sorry, Master... He was too fast for me."
"What? A Genin? You're faster than me, am I to believe a Genin bested you in speed?!"
Haku didn't reply, merely bowing to face the ground.
Naruto decided now was a good time to speak. "Release him or I kill 'Haku'."
Zabuza sneered. "Likely boy, what's to stop me killing this one and then you? Better bargain for your life." He smiled evilly, his mouth was bandaged but you could tell.
Naruto turned to his teammates. "Sasuke, how fast is that guy compared to Sensei?"
Sasuke glanced at Naruto then back, keeping the main threat in his sight. "Probably about even."
Naruto looked back. That guy had been blabbing to his teammates, now he was blabbing to him, not killing Kakashi. They were about the same speed, so maybe he couldn't kill Kakashi from there but more Kakashi was merely trapped.
Naruto hoped he was right or else they were probably all screwed. He put on a bit of a bluff as well, to help things along. "Release Kakashi or I kill this Haku then I kill you. After all, If I bested Haku in speed, I bested you too, is that not what you said?"
Zabuza cursed in his head, then cursed out loud. "Shit!" Then he ran off into the trees, disappearing in the blink of an eye.
Kakashi fell from the blob and seemed to catch himself on the water surface, though it looked hard as he was in water, he had to put his legs and hands out to where there was a water surface while the water he was in flowed down around him.
This solidified for Naruto that it was indeed water, for it flowed like water, sounded like water, he just needed to know how stand on it, that looked cool.
After a moment Kakashi got his composure back. "Right, well... I had been meaning to reprimand you for running off there Naruto, but I think since you just got us out of that mess, I'll say thank you instead." Kakashi pulled down his head band and crinkled his remaining eye up in a smile.
Naruto smiled, his mouth free of the excess saliva now that he wasn't so excited. "No problem, Sensei."
Kakashi decided that the time to figure out how Naruto had bested this character in speed was not now, they should get to Tazuna's, set up perimeter and then, then they could find out what the hell was going on, on more than one front.
"Right, well, move out. We should get to Tazuna's as fast as possible, then form a perimeter, then we can question 'Haku'."
Haku felt sad, Zabuza had run off. Haku's faith was strong however, Zabuza would return and defeat these people, even though they didn't really deserve defeating, they seemed nice enough, even if scary at times. Haku had faith in Zabuza.
Shaken but alive and basically unscathed, Team 7 set off. They were still walking, even in their urgency as Naruto was still marching 'Haku' and Tazuna didn't look too good, probably still shaken up by that 'Zabuza' guy.
Sakura took the initiative to speak first, as they were walking. "Naruto, you captured that girl? Is that what you ran off for?"
Naruto looked at Sakura and smiled. "Yeah, She was hiding out ahead of us, an ambush with that big guy I guess, so I captured her."
Sasuke scowled, how the hell had Naruto done that? Must have been luck... "Oy..." He refrained from insulting Naruto, for him to be performing as a Ninja while still handicapped as such deserved his respect, Sasuke valued his eyesight highly and sympathized. "Naruto. How did you capture her?"
Haku made a noise which got their attention. Naruto prodded. "What was that... uh... Haku?"
"I'm a boy."
All of Team 7's eyebrows rose. With hair like that? Not to mention a rather pretty voice, if strained. You could understand being strained in her... his... position.
Sakura accepted the statement. "Wow, you have lovely hair for a guy, I'm a little jealous." Haku didn't respond.
Naruto frowned, he wasn't convinced. He put some chakra into his hands and emitted it in a pulse that covered Haku, not bad improvisation he later thought.
"Hah, nice try. Why would you pretend to be a boy?"
Kakashi stepped into the conversation here. "Naruto, she is our prisoner. Often Kunoichi, female Ninja who are captured are raped, perhaps for interrogation or torture purposes, but often just because they are female." Kakashi glanced at Sakura, who looked horrified. "But not to worry, miss Haku, we're not that type of Ninja, though you are a captive, so the usual fears apply." Kakashi then smiled at Haku, as if that was some great witty joke. Haku slumped a little more.
At least she wouldn't be raped. How the hell had he known? She had her neck covered to prevent anyone from telling if she had an adams apple, her face was covered and she even had some cloth in her crotch to make a bulge.
Wait a minute, the guy who captured her had a blindfold on, how the hell could he see at all?! Did it have something to do with those pulses of Chakra he emitted sometimes? He had covered her in Chakra just before he found her out, it had to be. She stored that information away, perhaps illusions wouldn't fool him, or even chakra constructs, If she got the chance to escape he might be her biggest problem.
"They... They really do that, to Kunoichi, Sensei?" Sakura's voice trembled slightly. Kakashi turned to Sakura and put a hand on her shoulder.
"I'm afraid there are many people in the world who delight in doing that, and worse to people. Konoha is often referred to as a soft country because we frown upon such things."
Kakashi paused to glare at Tazuna. "Ordinarily you wouldn't be facing enemy Ninja until the Chuunin Exams, where you would only be fighting rather than the full spectrum of Ninja operations." He patted her shoulder again before getting back in formation. "Konoha also teaches that it is the worst thing to abandon a comrade, for such reasons. Hopefully you won't have to confront that side of the Ninja life, you or your friends."
Kakashi looked down in thought, that was horrible! She had never thought being a Ninja would put her into danger like that. She had some serious thinking to do.
Kakashi had one last thing to say. "Being a Ninja may put you into a situation where you may be captured, but a Civilian may be captured by bandits or malicious Ninja for the same reasons. In this world the best way to not be victimized by such people is to be able to stop them yourself."
Kakashi had rightly figured she would be questioning her life as a Ninja as a result of these revelations, but she had to know that without Ninja training, she was less likely to be caught but more helpless if she were.
Sasuke hadn't really thought about Kakashi's lesson more than the fact that he needed a team to be a Genin, and he needed to be a Genin to be a Ninja, and he needed to be a Ninja to kill his brother. However, the thought of his teammates or himself being captured and raped or tortured sickened him. He knew that it might be him or Naruto as well, not everyone preferred girls. He had a lot to think about.
Naruto too hadn't really thought about being captured or what might happen, or his teammates being captured. That was definitely unacceptable. Threats to the Hive must be eliminated.
Eh, well, that was weird, but Naruto couldn't disagree with that thought.
Naruto felt a bit dirty now he realized Haku had thought he would or they would rape her, at least she had feared it from them. "You know, Haku, I wouldn't... I wasn't gonna..." He didn't really want to say it, her silence wasn't helping. "You were about to ambush us so I..."
Luckily Kakashi saved him. "I'm sure she understands now that we aren't that type of Ninja, Naruto." Naruto nodded.
"Naruto." Kakashi continued. "What you did back there was very brave, I'm guessing you assumed he would have had to release me to attack me, but if he hadn't then he likely would have killed me and attacked you. What would you have done?"
Naruto had thought of that, but he knew, instinctually what he would do, especially if he had to watch someone close to him die. "I would have killed Haku and tried to kill Zabuza."
Everyone present, except Haku who had feared such, was taken aback by the calm seriousness with which Naruto answered.
Sakura, who had formed a small bond in her head with Haku, empathizing with Haku's fears now, was a more shocked that he would do that to her, she seemed to demure and harmless. "What?! Naruto, you'd... just like that?!"
Naruto looked at her, making sure his attention was still on Haku. Of course, enemies must be defeated or they will continue to threaten us." Sakura gaped a little at that.
Sasuke approved of Naruto's resolve, the enemy would hurt you if you didn't stop them. They must be stopped.
Kakashi was a little worried, Naruto seemed to be developing a sociopathic view towards human life, there was a difference between detaching yourself from what was necessary and not caring. "Naruto, If Zabuza had attacked you would only have had a second, no warning. Could you have acted. Haku is human, a person. There's no shame in admitting if you couldn't do it."
Naruto thought about it, in his dreams of the future he hadn't really envisioned the violence, though now he could. It had been him standing upon piles of enemies, victorious, them all unconscious of course. But He knew, instinctively he would kill someone who harmed one of his.
Suddenly Naruto realized that such thoughts weren't normal for him. He suddenly grew apprehensive, was this the fox, had it changed him when it healed him? Or was it the creature? It didn't hesitate to attack him, would have killed him. Had these instincts passed to him? Perhaps, but they were right, hesitation led to defeat, he would defend his own, that was right. Enemies must be stopped.
Naruto nodded after a while, though only Kakashi saw it. "Yes, He, she, Haku or that big guy. They are not people if they have killed one of us. They are the enemy. The enemy must be stopped or we will die. Naruto looked up at Kakashi, his face intense even though his eyes were closed. "Is that wrong, Sensei?"
Sasuke looked to Kakashi immediately, Sakura too, though not as intently as the boys.
Kakashi, noticing their attention thought hard. "You must be careful that you do not become desensitised to killing. Enemies or not, they are people with their own lives, it may be they deserve death, or it may be that they are a victim of circumstance, they they do not want to be where they are."
Kakashi looked at Haku, he suspected this was true of her. "You are right, the enemy must be stopped, but be careful where you draw the line of a true enemy. It is not always so clear, believe me. As long as you do not become bloodthirsty, that you understand killing is wrong, then it's okay. But remember that, even killing the enemy is wrong, it is just the only viable option, the lesser of two evils if you will." Kakashi looked ahead, to the road.
"Maa, I've been very philosophical today, huh?" He pulled out his book and began reading. "Remember to report how sensitive and caring your Sensei is in your reports 3"
The Genin of Team 7 collectively sighed. Pervert.
But still, Naruto and Sasuke felt better, neither of them had really tried to word out how they felt about this type of thing but that was it, the lesser of two evils.
Sasuke reluctantly admitted that he drew pleasure from imagining killing his brother, but he couldn't help it. He just decided that would have to be an exception, he would refrain from killing anyone else unless necessary.
Team 7 walked the rest of the way to Tazuna's house in peace, aside from Kakashi's intermittent giggling that is.
Man, the Haku chase was so hard. I think I managed to make it so I didn't say he or she or any gender references at all but god that was hard. If it seems crap, that's why... Can't be bothered to go check, eh if I messed up, pretend I didn't ^_^
Notes cont: Aliens have steel teeth, teeth are bone so I figure it's not too far out to lace his bones with steel as well as his teeth. Aliens don't have eyes, I'm inventing a sense here, don't judge me :P Since they don't have eyes at all there's no comparable alien feature for them to become a bit like, so they're more heavily affected than features with a comparable alien feature.