Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto… Otherwise I would have made this happen.
Well, I began thinking about this idea of mine a few months ago, and among my many projects I slowly began to work about it. This is basically a story where the main characters will be Naruto and the other Jinchuuriki. That means a lot of work to flesh out characters that are basically OCs to us. I hope I did a good work. This is the prologue and the first chapter together. I hope you enjoy it, since I've put a lot of effort into it. Enjoy!
It was an unusual thing for the village of sand to ask something of their allies. The official shinobi village of the land of wind, even after the historical pacts following the last great shinobi war, had never thought of the other villages as real 'allies'. Not even the neighbouring ones. Not even Konoha, who has always been the most peaceful among the various villages. But, indeed, the meeting had been the Kazekage's request.
The meeting had been decided to be held in Konoha. Among the five villages it was the one who had never shown any signs of a lust for power or expansion, even if it was commonly reputed as the strongest one among the big five. The Kazekage had been the first to arrive, after the Sandaime Hokage. That irked Sarutobi's curiosity. It seemed that whatever he wanted to discuss with them, it was important to him.
By minutes, the other kages and the ninja leaders arrived in the room. The Kazekage observed and waited patiently and silently, observing the people he had 'summoned' arrive one by one. The Mizukage, the Tsuchikage, the Raikage, and the leader of Takigakure. The man waited for a few more minutes of complete silence, since it seemed the leaders were studying the others and the 'terrain'.
"I thank you for your cooperation. I know that this meeting has been organized in a haste." Began the Kazekage, earning a snort of laughter from the leader of Kumogakure.
"Haste, right. It has all been made in less than a week." The ebony-skinned kage rubbed one of his small moustaches with his right index finger and thumb.
"I understand that such an hastiness for a meeting between leaders is… Unusual. But I believe you will agree with me on the importance of the matter I wish to discuss. It concerns all of you as well." The leader of the hidden sand turned to one of the two shinobi accompanying him. The shinobi in question opened his weapon pouch and got out a scroll from it, opening it on the ground right in front of his feet.
The Kazekage noticed that the other leaders got nervous at that, apart the Hokage. The Tsuchikage particularly looked ready to extract something from her right sleeve. After all, in the last great shinobi war Konoha had been Iwa's nightmare. Even if the reason of that fear had disappeared six years prior, old scars hardly died down.
But the scroll was harmless. Just by observing the writings on the paper they could see that it was a simple storage scroll. The shinobi did a few handseals and placed his hands on the scroll. A small cloud of smoke appeared and soon disappeared to leave place to a few yellow envelopes. The shinobi got back on his feet and handed one to the Kazekage and the other five, one to each of the shinobi accompanying the various leaders.
"Please feel free to let your attendants open them, so that they can confirm that they contain just pictures. Photographs." The ninjas began to check the envelopes. First by touching them, then by opening them and checking the contents. The Hokage turned to another one of the ninjas accompanying him, a member of the Hyuuga clan. The ninja confirmed that, indeed, the various envelopes contained just six copies of the same set of photos.
The ninja started handing the envelopes to their leaders, who promptly picked the photos from the envelope and laid them on the table right in front of them. "… What? What's the meaning of this?" As the Kazekage had foretold, the first one to have a noticeable reaction had been the Raikage. And he noticed that the Hokage too had become unnerved, even if he hid it perfectly. For anyone but a Kage.
"The sets is made of nine pictures, each one of a different person. Some are familiar to all of you, some just to one of you. But they all have something in common." The Kazekage pronounced those words with calm and collection, but it did nothing to soothe the raging Raikage. The dark-skinned man smashed his right hand clenched in a fist on his side of the marble table they were sitting at, smashing part of it to pieces.
"You! I want to talk right now!" He used his free hand to smash in front of him two of the pictures. "I want to know how you came in possession of a picture of my younger brother and another citizen of my village who has never even left it!"
"I must say, I'm quite surprised as well." The Mizukage brushed his chin and gently laid down in front of him two pictures different from the Raikage's ones. "The message I received requesting a summoning made me worried, and the fact that the envelope contained pictures made me think that we would be talking about missing nins… Instead…" He lifted the gaze from the pictures and shifted it to the Kazekage. "Instead, I find pictures of small kids, including a civilian and an academy student from my village…"
"All small kids, indeed… Apart Roshi and Han." The Tsuchikage passed a finger on her lips instinctively, observing the two pictures regarding the only adults represented, which were ninjas of her village too… And not just any ninjas. They were… War heroes. Heroes of a war they had lost, but still heroes, as in the sense that they held back powerful enemies so that many other ninjas could survive. "And… I think that maybe I understood. There's one thing these two have in common… And you said the others do too."
"They're all Jinchuuriki, right?" The leader of Takigakure decided to voice his thoughts. He didn't have a big spy network, being the leader of a minor ninja village, but they didn't need a 200 points of IQ to put together everything. Roshi and Han. They were famous shinobi for their battles in the last two shinobi wars the former, the last one the latter. But what they were known for mostly was because of them housing two tailed beasts. And since among those pictures there was his own Jinchuuriki…
"Indeed. You're quite sharp." The leader of Takigakure smiled, and adjusted his long hair behind one of his ears, the scar on his nose slightly showing. The Kazekage continued his speech. "In total, we have two Jinchuuriki from Kumogakure, two from Iwa, two from Kiri, one each from Suna, Taki, and Konoha."
Sarutobi hand went rigid, clenching on the marble table a little. He knew that at least one of the other countries would sooner or later become aware of Naruto's condition, but… What was the Kazekage's plan? "Kazekage-dono, you do realize you've probably just exposed to everyone here something that the others wanted to keep a secret…"
"It's not really a big deal, that, Sarutobi." The Raikage said, clenching and unclenching his right hand, sounds of bone cracking coming clearly from him. The Hokage turned to him a bit confused. "Sooner or later they wouldn't be a secret anymore, since they all are to become ninjas. What I'm mostly pissed off about is the fact that spies were sent into my village to spy on them."
"Indeed… Kazekage-dono, this is something I do not understand." The Mizukage continued, his voice still soft and almost soothing, so much that it was almost creepy. A male had no right to sound so. "Why go out of your way for something like this? As Raikage-dono said, it's basically useless… Moreso… It confuses me the fact that you revealed your own Jinchuuriki. This helps me understand that you're not doing this to scorn us or something, but still… Confusing."
"… My Gaara… He's probably the main reason of this meeting." The Kazekage picked up one of the photos and put it at the center of the table, showing the figure of a child with red hair sitting in a swing. The other kages picked the same picture as well. "Gaara is my own son. My youngest one, and he is the host of Shuukaku."
"The Ichibi… Then, I suppose he has been experiencing the same problems as his predecessors?" Asked the Hokage, knowing well that among them, Suna probably had the worst sealing technique for Jinchuuriki… Or maybe the best one, depending on how one looked at it. More than sealing, the technique was called of possession. The demon and the host continuously struggle for control over the body, so much that the person can rarely get sleep. But in exchange for that, the host gained peculiar abilities. To do something like that to his own son…
"Yes. But that's not what's worrying me." The Kazekage raised his head and slowly turned it from side to side. "The child has problems controlling his powers. This because of his… Emotive problems, that heavily influence his psyche. The source of his problems are mostly… The other inhabitants of the village and the demon's influence."
The sandaime's hand clenched a little more, thinking of how that situation sounded so much similar to the one he had in Konoha.
"I am sure that, even though in different measures, you have experienced these kind of problems as well." The Kazekage continued, earning a chuckle from the Tsuchikage, who seemed pretty entertained from the man's last words.
"I am sure as in 'I've spied on them', right, Kazekage-dono? But I understand what you're saying." The woman crossed her arms under her covered chin, her eyes showing a devious smile. "Roshi and Han too, in the beginning, were looked upon and treated as they were death incarnate to both our village and the enemy. They needed to go to war and come back after killing hundreds to change that."
"Hmmm… True, true. In my village I punish harshly who even dares to look in a bad way at my brother, but some of them just can't help it." The Raikage scratched his chin while grumbling a little under his breath. "And with Yugito they're even worse… The girl puts most of her life into training just to avoid other people. And she's just eight, for fu…"
"We do not need to know for whose sake, Raikage-dono." Interrupted the Mizukage, rolling his eyes a little. Such a fool, for a kage. "Well… I still don't see the reason of this meeting. My own Jinchuuriki are yes, treated like they're lower than dirt or just feared and avoided, but it's just a… Side-effect we all have to deal with for such weapons as themselves."
The leader of Takigakure felt a little guilty at that. While he didn't have the same value for human life as the Mizukage did, he still had made the choice of turning a baby girl from his village in a Jinchuuriki, exposing her to the scorn that came with being a weapon of such power… Yes, he had created a weapon.
"The things is, Mizukage-dono, that we're basically handling living bombs." The Kazekage replied, slowly shaking his head from side to side. "We've sealed beings of incredible power able to wipe out villages into babies, who are now children… Who are, by default, extremely easy to influence in any way." The man laid out the nine pictures in front of them, one by one, and then removed the two of the only adults in the group. "They are feared and hated because of this, but… What if they start to hate back? We seal the tailed beasts into hosts so that we can control their power, but if they give in to hate… Will the tailed beasts be the one controlling their hosts? Or will they just give in to certain… Suggestions. I know myself that they tend to be rather… Persuasive."
"… I have to agree. It has happened twice, with Han." The Tsuchikage still remembered the times when the boy, during the war, gave in to the beast's offer of 'help' on the battlefield. Too bad that the beast didn't care much about who got into the way of the slaughter it brought. Good thing Roshi noticed the thing and made everyone from Iwa leave the battlefield. "It can prove more detrimental than anything else in case of that happening."
"… And I suppose that having the hosts into submission wouldn't do any good, either. So…" The Mizukage raised his head ad looked at the Kazekage with seriousness. "Do you maybe have some kind of idea, Kazekage-dono?"
"I say we make them meet." He said. Those few simple words caused mainly surprise, but in Sarutobi's case they caused much indignation. "I think it would be for the best."
"Eh. Yes, make them meet. Like an annual Jinchuuriki camp or something?" The Mizukage joked, cover his eyes in sign of mocking disapproval for the idea. But…
"That was my idea, yes." The Kazekage didn't even blink, since that was pretty much his idea. In return, he made the Mizukage blink. "We must remember that we're talking about children, here. We don't know how much pressure they will be able to handle before they snap and we found ourselves with an emergency on our hands."
"So… You basically say we make them meet periodically, like, once a year?" The Raikage rubbed his chin and thought about it, trying to find possible traps. The leader of the hidden sand nodded.
"Yes. I propose we rotate the country for the yearly meeting between us, or we can just choose a neutral country. The point is to put them in an isolated environment. Just them and two of our most trusted shinobi for each village to guard them." The Kazekage kept on talking with cool and collection… Something that you would have usually expected from the Hokage, instead. But the fire shadow was visibly nervous, by now. "These children need more than just peers… They need to form relationships with people akin to them, so that they can understand each other. Something like this will be a stress reliever for them till they reach a suitable age."
"Hmph. Right. And tell me what it comes in for me and my village, Kazekage-dono." The Mizukage didn't like the idea at all.
"As I've already explained, the benefit of not having your 'weapons' suddenly turn on you should be more than enough, Mizukage-dono. Seeing as all our villages are allies, I don't see any reason for why you should be opposed to the idea, especially with how… Harshly you treat the two in your care. After all, it's not like you would plan of using them to invade one of the other major countries… Right?" The shadow of wind seemed to have planned everything, since the Mizukage 'tsk-ed' and then fell silent. Even if there was some plan like that, he couldn't just voice it out.
"… I'm in." The first agreement came from the leader of Takigakure, as he had predicted. Akin to the Hokage, the man was more human than most shinobi, so it was obvious he would care more for the mental health of his Jinchuuriki. Also, it wasn't like he could refuse an offer, a request from the major villages. It was a little honour to even be sitting with them at that table. "This would help strengthen the alliances between villages and at the same time get rid of the danger of having a serious bijuu problem on our hands in the future. I agree with Kazekage-dono's plan."
"… Hmmm… Well, I guess that Kirabi will be happy to have some new heads to bash in." The Raikage thought about it, and he guessed that getting out of the family estate before he turned genin would be helpful. And Yugito would benefit from it largely. "Alright. I think we can make that happen… But if I discover that this is some kind of elaborate plan to…"
"I'm sure it's nothing of the sort, Raikage-dono. It seems a pretty… Valid idea. I think I'll join in as well." The Tsuchikage seemed more entertained from the situation by the second. The Kazekage had foretold that too, even if it was maybe the only uncertainty in his plan.
"To tell the truth, I wouldn't dare thinking of you agreeing to the plan, Tsuchikage-dono. After all, there's nothing in for yourself… Your Jinchuuriki are grown up men." The woman just chuckled.
"My, Kazekage-dono. As you've said… We're allies. I don't always need to immediately gain something from an agreement. But rest assured…" Even if the thing went unnoticed by everyone in the room, the woman had focused her gaze on one thing… Or better, one photograph among the nine in front of them. "I will have my share of benefits from this agreement."
"I see… Mizukage-dono?" The water shadow seemed to emit a mix between a low growl and a snort. Sign that he was displeased. Basically the Kazekage had him where he wanted him. After showing his open displeasure earlier, the argumentations put on the table and the fact that most of the room had agreed with him…
"Fine. I suppose that a little kunoichi camp each year will help the social skills of my weapons. You never know on which missions they could be sent." He said, rapping the fingers of his right hand on the table. The Kazekage nodded and then turned to the last shadow in the room.
"I refuse." That made everyone but the Kazekage be surprised. They turned to Sarutobi Hizuren, whose eyes were narrower than what he had ever seen. "I'm not going to send… A boy, who still hasn't even begun his academy training…"
"I thought that you would be reluctant, Hokage-dono. After all…" The Kazekage picked up the picture of the only male blonde among the nine people in the photographs. A small kid with strange marks on his cheeks. "The boy… Uzumaki Naruto, right? His turning into a Jinchuuriki has been a case. And you still haven't… Broke the news to him."
"What?" To say that the Raikage was surprised was an euphemism. They didn't need an eagle to understand which bijuu the boy was housing, taking in account Konoha's history and the markings on the boy's face. "You mean the boy doesn't know of his condition?"
"No. And I plan for it to stay that way. The boy has got to have a chance at living a normal life." The fire shadow replied fiercely… But he noticed that the Raikage and the leader of Takigakure had narrowed their eyes.
"Hokage-dono, I must say that I'm very disappointed in you." That made everyone in the room turn to the 'Takikage'. It was a first. A leader of a minor country talking in that fashion to a Kage? "I thought you wiser than that."
"I support his line of thought, Sarutobi. I know that you had the best intentions, but you're handling this boy's situation in a bad way." Sarutobi stared back at the Raikage, waiting for him to continue. "Can you even imagine how the boy must feel? A whole village hating him… And he doesn't know why. Don't you think that he deserves to know why his life sucks?"
"If he gets to know of his situation, he…"
"He will finally understand that it's not because the other people are mean, but just stupid. He will also understand that he's not to blame, as he has surely asked himself many times." The leader of Takigakure took word again, and this time his words had a good effect. "You said that you want to give him a chance for a normal life, Hokage-dono… But he's never got that chance to begin with. But now… You have the chance to make it a happy one."
Sarutobi hand scraped the underside of the table, thinking about his chances. He was at a stalemate there. Everyone but him had agreed. And on top of that… Those words held truth in them. Did Naruto really had no chance at a normal life? Maybe if he had chosen to remain a civilian, but… He would begin the ninja academy the next September. "… I agree… On one condition, though."
"What would that be, Hokage-dono?" Asked the Kazekage, once again taking the reins of that discussion.
"… The first istance of this… Joined training camp…" The Hokage suggested the official façade they would use for the rest of the world. "Is to be held in Konoha."
"… Very well. I agree with those terms. Are there any complains?" None were raised from the remaining four leaders. The Kazekage nodded. "Very well. I'm happy that we have come to a successful agreement. Now, we should discuss the time and…"
Sarutobi's attention for the rest of the meeting would be split between taking part to the meeting… And thinking about how to 'break the news' to a five years old.
"The first 'Joined Training Camp' of the allied villages will take place in Konoha's territory. It will have a duration of ten days, starting from the 1st of July and ending on the 11th of the same month. It's required of the…"
"Yadda, yadda, yadda. Damn, the only thing worse than Kirabi's rap is paperwork…" The Raikage's words were met by the inquisitive gaze of his attendants. Kirabi's rap was annoying as hell. He laughed. "Ahahah! Yeah, maybe I'm exaggerating! But I bet that he will have a sudden flock of inspiration when he knows of this."
"What about Yugito-san, Raikage-sama?" At that question, the Raikage replied with a snort and another round of laughter.
"Eheheh… The little princess will probably throw a fuss about how useless the thing will be while hiding the fact that she's indeed curious about knowing other people with the same condition as hers… And as such, with the same kind of power."
"… Tsuchikage-sama, am I allowed to talk?"
"Please, do. I've actually been waiting for someone to ask me." The reaction of her attendant was priceless. She chuckled darkly. "My, it's obvious what you wanted to ask me. What possibly could I gain from this 'agreement'? After all, both our Jinchuurikis are grown up men, not snotty brats." She then picked out again the envelope that the Kazekage had provided her with, and picked out a single photograph from it. "This is the reason of my agreement."
Her attendant grabbed the pic and observed it closely. It was the pic of Konoha's Jinchuuriki. He… His eyes widened. "Y-You… I mean, it can't…"
"Stunning, isn't it? The resemblance…"
"Tsk… I hate it." The Mizukage had the bad habit of eating his nails when really nervous about something. This time, it was the fact that he had basically been tricked into agreeing to that… That. "Well, I guess we can still make something out of it. Be sure to assign our best intelligence gatherers as 'guardians' of this playground."
The leader of Takigakure observed the horizon while he and his two attendants travelled back to their village. He thanked the gods to let him have found some way to repent himself, to make amend for what he had done to a little girl… For the greater good. He had made her agree with sweet words, but he still regretted it. "Be sure to notify Fu as soon as we go back."
"A marvellous performance, Kazekage-sama."
"Everything went as planned." The leader of the hidden sand was already on his way back, the border of the fire country already near. "I must say… I had some doubts that it would all go so smoothly."
"But, must I say… Was it really worth all this trouble, Kazekage-sama?"
"… We get rid of him and we manage to blame it all on someone else. We could even get some profits out of it. And this someone else being Konoha is the icing on top of the cake." The Kazekage said, allowing himself a metaphor for once, even if it wasn't exactly his style. "Also… Let the child die without knowing why or who. It's out of pity."
The Hokage had been faced with harsh decisions and hard tasks ever since the days of his prime as a ninja. But he felt like this one was going to be the hardest yet. To soften the blow he would have to use all that he knew about psychology. For the moment, he had to approach the target.
There he was, on a swing, trying to swing himself as high as possible, standing on his toes and jumping before letting himself be pushed forward… Just to realize that he had to have a solid grip on the chains, otherwise he would end up flying and impacting the ground face-first many other times. The Hokage instinctively palmed his face.
"Owie… The ground is hard…"
"Otherwise he would crack under the weight of all that ramen that you eat daily, Naruto." The hyperactive blonde forgot about the pain on his nose hearing the voice of one of the few human beings that bothered to talk to him, greeting him with a grin.
"Ojii-san!" He immediately got back on his feet, cleaning himself from the dust and the sand that he had collected with that last fall. "It's been a while!"
"Yes. I am sorry, but, I've been very busy. Being Hokage is not an easy work." Naruto grinned at that, crossing his arms behind his head.
"You should just let me take your job, old man! You're getting too old!" The Sandaime patted Naruto on top of his head, ruffling his hair. "So? What's up?"
"Well… I had to talk with you about something. Something… Big, Naruto." That made the child blink. The Sandaime motioned for him towards the swing on which he was sitting before. Naruto complied and sat on it, dandling his legs from it. "You see… Recently I had a meeting with all the other kages…"
"Eh? But weren't they all dead?" Sarutobi had to use chakra to stop gravity from dragging his face to the ground. Lots of chakra to strengthen his body. It helped remember that he still hadn't even started the academy, so, it wasn't like anyone had told him those basic points about the world of ninjas.
"Naruto, there are five shinobi in the world whose title ends with 'Kage', shadow. One for each of the major villages." Naruto opened his mouth in a 'ohhhh' of understanding. The Hokage sighed. "And we've come to a sort of agreement… Basically, it's training camp for young ninjas… Or ninjas to be, between the various allied ninja villages." Needless to say, Naruto jumped out of the swing and began to do a little victory dance. Even if the Hokage was sure that he didn't even know what a training camp was. "Naruto… The big news isn't that."
That made Naruto stop. Not the words themselves, but the tone the old man had used. Naruto knew that he used that tone only when he gotten real serious about something. He stopped dancing and screaming of how awesome he was and stared at the Sandaime's face.
"… Naruto… This also has to do with why… Most people treat you badly." That gotten Naruto's attention alright. He swallowed and sat on the swing again, beside the Sandaime, who drew in a silent but heavy sigh. "Naruto… You know about the Kyuubi, right? The demon who attacked the village six years ago?" Naruto nodded. Of course he knew. He idolatrized the fourth Hokage, and the day the fact happened was also his birthday. "Well, you must know that the Kyuubi is one of a group of nine demons. They are called 'bijuu'."
"Bi… Bijuu…" Naruto pronounced the word, like just to see of it felt coming of his mouth. "Tailed beasts?"
"Exactly. This because each demon has a different number of tails. The Ichibi one tail, the Niibi two, and so on to the Kyuubi, who has nine tails." The Sandaime was about to tell Naruto that the bijuu were immortal since they were beings made of chakra and as such they couldn't be killed in a conventional way, but he remembered that the boy didn't know what chakra is. "There's the fact that the bijuu are basically immortal. They can't be killed."
"Eh? But the fourth Hokage did kill it…" Naruto replied, going by memory of the story how he had heard it. The Sandaime shook his head.
"No, Naruto. Sadly, the Kyuubi couldn't be killed. Not even the fourth Hokage, with all his power, was able to kill it." Naruto's face was showing more confusion by the second. Sarutobi decided that it was better if the boy got to it on his own instead of hearing it from him directly. "Naruto, answer this question. There's a criminal. But you don't want or you can't kill him. So, what do you do to make it do no more harm to other people?"
"Eh… Uhm…" Naruto brought a finger to his lips, thinking about it very hard, squinting his eyes… He suddenly clapped his hands. "You put it in prison!" The Sandaime nodded to acknowledge that he had made a correct statement. "So the Yondaime put the Kyuubi in prison somewhere?"
"Yes, but… Not exactly somewhere. No real prison could hold the Kyuubi. He put it in prison… Inside of something." Naruto blinked at that. He had put it in prison inside of something? But what? Suddenly, he saw the Sandaime raise his right index finger and use it to tap his forehead. "Or better… He put it in prison inside of someone."
Naruto needed less than ten seconds to connect the dots. Even if he looked like a goof, he wasn't less intelligent than his peers. Or maybe it was just that, he didn't know why, connecting the dots about that particular matter had been so easy… He brought his tiny hands to his chest, feeling his heart picking up speed. "I… He…"
"I didn't tell you because I wanted you to at least try to have a normal life, Naruto. As they say, ignorance is bliss. But you've decided to become a ninja… So, I don't see any reason to keep on hiding this from you." Naruto brought his hands to his head and shook it around, sign that he still couldn't understand something.
"B-But… I mean, if I keep people protected from harm… Why do they hate me? Shouldn't they be… Thankful? Instead…"
"It's because they're stupid… Or just too afraid." Naruto slowly raised his head to meet the Hokage's gaze. "People aren't perfect, Naruto. Even if they know that it was the Yondaime who sealed the demon into you, they fear that one day he could break out… Or they think he already has done so and took control of your body… Or that you have never been human to begin with."
"That… That's… Not fair…" Naruto's eyes started to tear up. It was like, knowing the reason of that harsh treatment, it had become even colder to him. Sarutobi sighed.
"Naruto… You must know that this is a secret to people your age. And I'd advice you to keep it a secret if you want to make some friends… But it's up to you… And there are some exceptions." Naruto blinked at that. Sarutobi patted his legs. Now, it was time for the second thing to do. Hoping it would cheer him up a bit. "You remember what I told you before about the bijuu, right? How many of them there were?"
"… Nine, right?" Sarutobi nodded.
"Exactly. Nine bijuu… For a total of nine people hosting them." Naruto blinked at that, the tears stopping for a while. The Hokage smiled at him reassuringly. "There are other people like you, Naruto. Most of them are around your age. We and the other kages have agreed to make you meet."
"You mean… They… Won't hate me even if they know?" The Hokage shook his head.
"Not at all. They're in the same situation as you, so, they would understand what you're going through. But from there to making them your friends is another matter. It all depends on you." Naruto sniffed and stopped crying at that, rubbing his eyes. "Since this involves a secret, even what this 'camp' really is will be secret, Naruto. You can't tell anyone the real reason you out of all people is going there."
"Yes, jii-san… I'll just tell who asks that I'm going to a… Ehm…" Naruto pushed his lips forward cutely, trying to remember exactly what words the Hokage had used a few moments before.
"Joined Training Camp with the allied villages of the leaf. Ah, it starts on the 1st of July. It will be held here in Konoha."
Two weeks later
"So, let's go over the rules one more time, Naruto." The child puffed his cheeks out. They had done nothing but that for the last three days.
"Jii-san, it's one of the few things in my life I remember perfectly, by now, along with how you cook ramen. The camp is ten days long and I can't leave the place till it's over. I should try to not get into fights and I can't show any techniques of my village to other people. But I don't know any, jii-san, so the last part is useless."
"Exactly. And in case you need something, you can ask the two… 'Supervisors' of the camp…" Since they were the oldest Jinchuuriki alive, the two from Iwa had been given the task of supervising the younger ones. The Tsuchikage, surprisingly, had offered the two's help also for some teaching. As in, how to deal with their unwanted guests. "Or one of the two ninjas behind me."
"Dog-san and owl-san, alright, alright. This makes the… Ehm…" Naruto still hadn't learned to count over five hundred, sadly. "A lot of times!" He said, he then turned to the gates of the place where they would be staying. They were big and of wood, like a miniature of the palisade that surrounded Konoha. "What is this place again, jii-san?"
"It's an old place where ANBU trained, Naruto. It's well protected and hidden from everyone but who knows how to get to it." The Hokage wasn't about to start explaining to Naruto about selective genjutsu, so that explanation would suffice. "There's a courtyard, a few barracks, and a small pond. It's not been used in a couple years, but it's still in good shape." That was another lie. The place was still used, but from that day onward it wouldn't be anymore.
"Ahhh… Alright." Naruto stopped in front of the gates to observe them, and when he turned around again, the two masked ninjas walking with the Hokage weren't there anymore. He blinked. "Ehm… If I want to talk with them, how do I do it?"
"They'll know when you do want. Well…" The Hokage stepped in front of Naruto and opened the doors a little. What was needed for Naruto to walk inside. "Have fun, Naruto."
"… I will, jii-san." Naruto nodded and then swallowed. He was a bit nervous… But nonetheless, he really, really wanted to go inside there. In those past two weeks, ever since he had discovered about the Kyuubi, he had felt even worse around the villagers… But at the same time, he was looking forward to those ten days. He started to walk towards the open doors and walked past the Hokage, gripping the straps of his backpack, hard. The Hokage slowly closed the door behind him… Till it closed with a small sound.
"I hope you do get a happy life, Naruto." The Hokage whispered silently, turning around right after and starting to head back to the village.
Book I, Chapter I: Beginnings
Naruto took a few steps behind the door before stopping to look around. As the Hokage had said, the place was kinda plain. The main courtyard was very large, and there were barracks here and there, along with a few trees to provide shade. He could make out the pond, and… In the center of the courtyard, a group of people. He swallowed. There he was. He began to walk towards the group, taking in the people that made it up. One by one.
The first who caught his attention was a boy of his same age sitting on the ground. He caught his attention because of the teddy bear he was carrying around and because of his hair. He had never seen such a colour. So red… And why there was black around his eyes?
Then, there was the only member of the group who was even younger than him. He couldn't be more than four years old. He too had a particular kind of hair. They were of a strange kind of gray… What was the name… Platinum. But not only that. Even his eyes were strange… They were pink. Also, he was crouched down, sitting silently, observing a single flower on the ground, between his stretched legs.
There was another one in the group with strange eyes and hair… And skin. She had tanned skin, orange eyes… And aquamarine hair. She seemed to be around his age. She was sitting on the steps of one of the barracks near the kid with the red hair, reading a little book. She looked around his age.
It seemed that people around his age were over. Those who remained were all older… There was a kid with black hair, very slender… Also, he could see just one of his eyes, the right one, since the other were covered by his hair falling in front of his face. And even the uncovered one was almost completely closed, so much that he could hardly make out its colour. Thankfully it was black as well. He was standing near the pink-eyed boy, observing his actions with his arms crossed in front of his chest.
Then, another boy. This one was very particular, other than being at least ten years old. Maybe more, judging from his height. First thing, he had never seen someone with such skin. Dark brown, so dark… Also, he had white hair, like cream… Why they were tied up in that silly way? Also, he wore sunglasses. And a bandana around his forehead. He was particularly focused, it seemed. He was writing things on a small book with a pen.
The only other girl of the group seemed to like black a lot. Also, she was probably the only one dressing like a ninja, even if it was not a real training camp. The others kids were all dressed in t-shirts and short pants… Apart the boy with the red hair, who had some kind of cloak draped around his shoulders. The girl had long blonde hair, but of a darker shade than his own, tied in a ponytail, and… She was wearing lipstick? No… No, those were her real lips.
The underage people were over. The other two people who he could see were both grown ups. One had the same hair colour as the kid with the teddy bear, and he seemed quite old. Not as old as jii-san, but still old. He was wearing brown clothes. A long sleeveled jacket and pants, and long black boots. Also, it seemed like he had some kind of big tattoo over his nose and cheeks. He was sitting with his eyes closed on a rock beside the pond.
Then, the last one… He couldn't tell exactly how old he was. The only thing he knew was that he was enormous, more than 6'6'' and that he couldn't see anything but his brown eyes. Everything else was covered by either cloth or some kind of red armour, and… Was that a chimney on his back? It let out smoke… He was standing with his eyes closed and his arms crossed, leaning against a tree, also near the pond.
He swallowed even more. He was so nervous. But it seemed that they had noticed his arrival, or maybe they had heard him swallow. All he knew was that the old man had opened his eyes and focused his gaze on him. He raised one of his hands and waved it weakly. "H-Hi…"
"It seems that everyone's here." The old man got up from his sitting position, while the bigger man pushed himself away from the tree. They began to walk towards the centre of the courtyard. He instinctively approached them as well. The Hokage had told him that the camp's 'supervisors' were going to be the two grown ups of their group. The two's stares immediately focused on him, since he was the first one who had approached them. "Well, I honestly thought you would be the first one to arrive. You're the host, after all."
"Ehm… I'm sorry." He replied, his head low and his voice apologetic. The man shrugged.
"It's no big deal. Just surprised. Now, gather around, children." Continued the red-haired man. Everyone obeyed, some more slowly than the others. The last one to reach the group was the kid with the dark skin, who had to use some willpower to stop writing things on his handbook. When they were all gathered around him, the man started observing all of them one by one. "Alright. Just a little reminder of the rules, then we will begin the introductions."
"Even if this is supposed to be a way to strengthen ties between allied villages, we won't ask you and you shouldn't show us techniques exclusive to your village, if you know some of them." The big man had started talking. His voice came out a bit muffled, obviously. But it was clear and strong. "All that we will do here is train about how to better keep under control our guests and how to better use their powers. We won't ask you anything that you will not want to let us know. We'll be fine with a name and the number of your tails."
"That out of the way, we can start introducing each other." The old man picked something out of his right pocket. It was a metal plaque… From a forehead protector, Naruto recognized. "My name is Roshi. I am a ninja from Iwa. I host the four tails."
"Han. The same. Only that my demon has five tails." Han used one of his gloved hands to point at his own metallic forehead protector. He then used his eyes to look around the younger ones around him. "Who goes next?"
"Me! Me!" It seemed that Naruto had quickly gotten over his embarrassed state, and was now just right-out excited by the thing. He flashed them one of his better grins. "My name is Uzumaki Naruto! I'm from Konoha, and… I have the Kyuubi."
"You're killing my buzz! Your demon is nutz!" At that comment, everyone turned to the source. The dark skinned boy. Holding his right hand out with index and pinky fingers stretched. Naruto was the one to comment everyone's thoughts, more or less.
"He 'stroyed a whole village not because of pillage!" It was good that it was summer, so that Naruto's and the green haired girl's dumbfounded stares could be strengthened by the sound of crickets. Noticing the attention, the dark skinned boy continued. "Impressed with my rhyming skills, are you? I'm the Killer Bee! Eight are my tails, from Kumo I hail!"
"The real name's Kirabi, and he's the younger brother of the Raikage." Said the older girl, sighing. "I'm from Kumo as well. My name is Yugito. And I house the two tailed beast." The giant Han nodded in acknowledgement and then turned to the two boys that he knew were from Kiri.
The two boys were staring at them both, the one with pink eyes a bit more absent minded… Or better, he seemed unfocused, even if his gaze was fixed on them. The older one decided to talk first. "We both are from Kiri. My name is Utakata. I have the six tailed beast." He then put a hand on top of the youngest person of their group. "His name is Yagura. He houses the three tailed beast."
"… You're orphans, aren't you?" The two kiri members nodded, and Roshi sighed in understanding before turning towards the boy with the red hair and the teddy bear.
Feeling everyone's attention on him he smiled nervously. "Ehm… I'm… Gaara. Sabaku no Gaara. I'm the Kazekage's son. I have… The Ichibi."
"And least, but not last…" Roshi turned to the last remaining member of their little ragtag group. The young girl… Who a few moments before had started reading again the little book she had put away. Suddenly feeling silence around her, she lifted her gaze from the pages.
"Ah! Sorry, sorry, sorry! I wanted to know how it continued…" She said, laughing while rubbing the back of her head, embarrassed. She closed the book and put it back in some kind of weapon pouch. She clapped her hands and bowed. "My name is Fu! I host the seven tailed beast! I come from Takigakure! It's nice to meet you all!"
"Good. Try to learn all the names in these ten days. After all, some of you will stay here for six years." Roshi said, but his words were met with confusion. He slightly patted his own head. "Right, right. I forgot to say. This camp is for non genins only. So, that means that you will our guest this year only, Kirabi."
"Buzz killer! Filthy filler! Nude of Ben Stiller!" Kirabi mouthed the things that, in his mind, should have been insults. But they really didn't have that great of an effect. Mostly because most of them didn't know what a 'buzz', a 'filler' and 'Ben Stiller' were. Roshi just shrugged them off.
"Now, we'll give you two hours to get acquainted with the place. After that, lunch… And then we'll talk about our 'training sessions' that we will do all together. But before that… You've been split up into little groups for the barracks." Roshi pulled out a piece of paper where he had written everything… Only to find out that it was an old grocery list. "Han, did you…" He found the right paper already in front of his face. He coughed a little embarrassed. "Thank you. So… Hmmm… First barrack: Nine, One and Three." Crickets and little stares. He sighed. "It refers to the number of your tails. We just knew your ages and gender, you know…"
"Ah. Then, you two are with me!" Naruto grinned, suddenly hyper at having two room-mates. Gaara smiled weakly, while the younger boy just stared immobile. But suddenly, he turned his head to Utakata, who nodded to him. He turned his head back around and began to walk to the barrack, surprising Naruto a little. "H-Hey! Wait!"
"Second barrack: the two lovely ladies… What's so damn interesting in that book?" Fu rubbed the back of her head sheepishly. She got caught again. She then turned to Yugito and extended her hand for her to shake, only to find that the kumo student was already on her way to their barrack. "And lastly, the crazy one and the almost silent one."
"Yo! Your acquaintance is welcome to me! Shacked together we will be!" Kirabi needed to drop that annoying thing. Or at least, he should maybe just save it up for battles. It was a fine damn way to annoy enemies, but in social relationships… Utakata didn't seem fazed at all, though. He just bowed politely in acknowledgement.
When all the younger ones were gone from sight and earshot, the two Jinchuuriki from Iwa began to talk again.
"So? What do you think of them?" Asked Han. It was a custom of him to always ask for a more experienced one's opinion first, in case he could have it. Roshi 'hmmm'ed before answering.
"Well, they all are just kids, but all seem to have at least a minimum of practice with handling their demon… Except for the one from Konoha." Han moved his gaze to the barracks where the three youngest ones were having troubles with turning a handle… Or better, Naruto was, till he fell on his butt. Yagura just opened for him right after. "And I don't think he has ever even been told anything about ninja arts…"
"Hmph. Seems like it, but… Tsuchikage-sama was right about that other thing." Roshi nodded in agreement with Han.
"Yes. But even if it is true, I don't think he himself knows about it. Otherwise, give his personality, he would have boosted about it… What do you think about the other children's attitudes?" Han crossed his arms in front of his chest yet again, his gaze still locked on the door of Naruto's barrack.
"The two from Kiri are very difficult to read. What you'd expect from ninjas from Kiri… Even if they're just kids. It will take some time… The two from Kumo…" Han sighed at that. "They're both quite experienced in the use of their demonic chakra, and even if he doesn't look like it, the Raikage's brother has some degree of skill in a certain area… I don't know exactly which one. The Kazekage's son…" Han stopped when he managed to get a glimpse of the boy he was talking about closing the door of the barrack. "He seems very vulnerable and sensible. Even more than a normal children of that age. And finally, the girl from Takigakure… She seems pretty normal, but she could just be faking it… Really good, if that's the case. Also, I'm curious about her obsession about that book."
"Yeah…" Roshi picked out from one of his pouches some tobacco and a little piece of fabric… Papyrus, maybe? He just put the tobacco into the rectangular slit and rolled it into a perfect cylinder. He then put it to his mouth… In a few seconds, smoke started to leak out of his closed mouth. He took the hand-made cigar out of his mouth and blew out smoke. "Makes you wonder what book is. She put another cover on it…"
"So… You're from… Ehm… I know you're from another villages, but I don't know which ones…" We'll let slide Naruto's grammatical error and focus on the fact that he talking with Gaara and Yagura, asking them about their homes. Yagura was watching something out of the window near his bed, while Gaara was sitting in front of Naruto on his own, still clutching his teddy. He decided to speak first, though.
"I'm from Sunagakure… Village hidden in the sand." The red head raised his head and allowed himself to smile a little at Naruto, still nervous. Naruto's mouth opened in a 'Ohhh'. Children…
"Sand… Wow! What's your village like? Is it full of sand? The only sand I've ever seen is the one in the playground…" Gaara seemed a bit fazed by Naruto's cheerfulness, but he quickly composed himself.
"The village stands in the middle of… A huge hollow mountain in the middle of the desert, to shield us from the sandstorms…" Gaara noticed that Naruto's eyes squinted at the word 'hollow'. The redhead chuckled a bit at that. "Hollow means… That there's a huge hole in it. The mountain is basically a big circular wall."
"Ahhh, understood… Wow, sounds cool. What about you?" Naruto turned his head to Yagura, who didn't look like he was going to move away from the window anytime soon.
"… Kiri. Hidden Mist." He simply replied. Naruto frowned.
"That's all?" Yagura didn't reply, and Naruto's forehead twitched. Was he deliberately ignoring him or what? He hopped on his bed and crawled to him to the window. "Alright. Just what the hell are you staring at?"
Yagura didn't reply or even move a single inch. He just kept on staring out of the window. Naruto puffed out his cheeks and then followed the boy's gaze… Finding out that he was staring at a flower, again. There was a single, big, yellow flower just out of the window, behind the barrack. He was staring at it with such intensity…
"The flower?" Naruto said, calming down a little. Mostly because he didn't understand the reason of such interest. He turned to Yagura to see him nod slightly. "And… Why are you staring at it so much?"
"… It's growing." Naruto wasn't exactly a genius, but he at least knew that plants took a while to grow. So, he labelled the small silver-haired child as totally nuts. He turned to Gaara again.
"Since he's kinda nuts, wanna go play outside for a while?" Gaara suddenly raised his head in a flash. He wanted to play with him? Really? But his father had said… Naruto noticed his really surprised stare. "Uh? What's wrong?"
"You… Want to play with me?" Naruto nodded, not understanding the sense of that question. "But… My father said that… Here it would be the same as back home…" Gaara lowered his head again, feeling uneasy while remembering what always happened into the village. Naruto blinked at that… And then came something to his mind. They were all like him, in that place… And maybe, because of that, they had gone through the same things as him.
"They call you with harsh words, look at you with cold eyes and shun you?" Gaara slowly raised his head and looked at Naruto, hearing those words… He nodded.
"But it's not only that… I mean, they fear me too… Since I hurt them sometimes." Naruto blinked at that. He hurt them? Gaara began to tremble a little. "I… When I'm upset, I can't control my powers… And I end up hurting other people."
"… Well, then it's their fair for upsetting you, right?" Naruto said. At that Gaara's eyes widened and looked up at Naruto again. "I mean, they knew that it happens, so, if they keep on upsetting you they're idiots."
Gaara took in Naruto's words and then thought about it… Yes, it was true. What he did was unintentional, but he knew that it was caused by how people treated him. So, why did they still upset him so much if they knew he would freak out? That sounded… "Stupid… Yes…"
"Yeah! So, don't worry! Now that I know that you can hurt him, I'm so not going to upset you!" Naruto grinned and offered him his left hand. Gaara looked up at him and smiled, taking it, blushing a little.
"Well… I don't think I could, right now, though." Naruto blinked at that. "I mean… My powers use sand… But there's no sand here, so, I can't use them…"
"Even better! Let's go out and play!" Yes, even better… But for who?
Yugito had nothing to do at the moment. Most of the time in her village she trained. She knew that many villagers feared her, but she had learned years before to simply ignore them. She focused on what she was supposed to do. Becoming one of the strongest ninjas in the village, just training all the time… So, he didn't really had a hobby or anything like that.
They had given them some time before lunch to get acquainted with the place, they said. But the problem was that she didn't know how to invest it, since she had already explored the whole settlement right after she had arrived. So… The blonde's eyes fell upon her roommate, who had done nothing but read that book she seemed so engrossed with. She decided that she might as well make a little… 'Small talk'. "What's that book about?"
"Uh?" Fu blinked and turned around, surprised that something had distracted her from her book. She turned around to face Yugito, still not completely sure that she had really interrupted her. She found the blonde staring at her, waiting for a response. She blushed and laughed a little. "Ehm, sorry… I tend to get too absorbed into reading…"
"I figured as much." Indeed. Yugito had noticed that the orange-eyed girl had showed a high level of focus while reading that book. She would never admit it, but she seemed to be able to focus even better than she could. "So?"
"Ah, right." Fu closed the book carefully after putting something into it to keep track of her progression, and then showed it to Yugito. The book had another cover over the original one, a hard, orange one. She couldn't see the title. "It's called 'The Legend of the Gutsy Ninja'! It's my favourite book!"
The title is kind of lame. Yugito didn't voice her thoughts, since she reasoned that insulting something she liked so much wasn't exactly a good idea. "What does it talk about?"
"It's about a gutsy ninja!" Yugito sweatdropped. She had guessed that much. "I mean, it's about the story of a strong ninja that strives against many difficulties for the sake of those he loves and to get rid of a malevolent curse cast upon him, never giving up!"
"… It sounds nice." Fu seemed to be beaming. Unknown to Yugito, she had never had anyone to talk with about her favourite book.
"Want to read it?" She exclaimed, before turning around and diving into her backpack. Yugito waved her hand in front of her.
"Don't worry. I wouldn't want to steal your source of.."
"Nah! It's cool! I have two copies!" Fu basically shoved into Yugito's face another copy of the book. Same hard cover, same weight, same number of pages. The kumo jinchuuriki slowly took a hold of it.
"… Why do you carry two copies around?"
"Just to be on the safe side." Fu replied while smiling widely. And Yugito had the feeling she had just put herself into something… Weird.
"Yo! So, what's it like, in your country? You bite the dust much?" Utakata wasn't as silent as Yagura, mostly because he did most of the talk for the both of them, but at the moment he was at a real loss of words. Because he just couldn't understand what Kirabi had just said him.
"Could… You please talk normally, since I can't understand anything of what you're saying?" He calmly said, with Kirabi stopping his body motions, leaving his mouth wide open in particular since he was about to go through another round of rhyming. He thought about it for a few seconds, it seemed, before finally closing his mouth.
"I guess my awesome art is not appreciated by everyone in the world…" Kirabi said, crossing his arms in front of his chest. Utakata sighed.
"Or better, there are times in which you can talk like that and times when you shouldn't." The boy from Kiri said, earning a snort from Kirabi.
"You talk just like my big brother… How old are you?"
"Nine years old." Kirabi got in a sitting position on his bed.
"And you already talk like an adult? Man, that's freaky. Where you raised like that or what?" The kumo jinchuuriki asked. Utakata seemed to think about the reply for a little while, before answering.
"Something like that. My village isn't know for its liberality, after all." Kirabi 'Hmm'ed at that. He knew the infamous nickname of the hidden mist, 'bloody mist'. He could just imagine how worthy of that name the place was. Kumo was no joke when it came to training ninjas, but from what he heard about Kiri, most of the ninjas in that place were downright psychotic. While he thought about it, he saw the black haired boy pick something from his backpack. It looked like… No, it was a pipe.
"What's that thing you got there?" Asked Kirabi, obviously curious. Utakata didn't reply. He just brought the tip of the long thing to his mouth and started puffing into it… Only for bubbles to come out of it. Soap? "Ehm… Exactly what are you doing?"
"Don't worry, I can talk just fine while doing this. It's an exercise I do daily." Kirabi blinked at that. An exercise? What kind of exercise it was to make soap bubbles with… No, wait a minute. He could feel some chakra coming from the little things that were floating into the air in front of him.
And not just any kind of chakra. It was… "Does it have to do with the powers of your 'guest'?"
"Yes. The six tails." Kirabi nodded and then grinned, intrigued.
"Eh… You know, I kinda want to fight you." The black skinned jinchuuriki said, before laying back on his bed and picking out of his pocket a pen and his little handbook. Another rhyme had just surfaced in his mind.
After the time of 'getting acquainted with the territory' using a metaphor more suited for dogs than human beings, it was time for lunch… And much to the Jinchuuriki's surprise they had discovered that their lunch had been left in the middle of the courtyard… Along with one big-ass table? Naruto had seen some tables like those ones in picnic areas. Table and bench fused together. How cool was that?
He had even been delighted when he found that half of his lunch was made out of bowls of ramen. His cry of the name of his favourite food had actually brought out of hiding the two ANBU from Kiri, just to discover that the supposed enemy 'with a food's codename' was, in fact, food. And even the usually silent Han had to stay agape at the amount of food the boy had managed to put in his stomach. Jinchuuriki had higher metabolism than normal people and needed to eat more, yes, but he was ridiculous.
"Wheeeeeew! I'm stuffed!" He exclaimed, patting his stomach. And the thing was probably a bottomless pit or something, looking at how it wasn't even swelled. The others had already finished their smaller meal or were about to finish it and that said all on its eating speed as well.
"Ehm… Glad to know it." Roshi scratched the top of his head while setting aside his chopsticks. Since they were all together in one place and at ease he thought they could start with the first lesson. He had already thought of a metaphor too. He breathed in and out deeply. "Now… I suppose it's time me and Han hold our end of the deal." That caught the attention of everyone sitting at the table, while Fu finished her food for last as she was doing something else while eating. Guess what? "But before that, we'll ask you a few questions."
"First question, how many years have you been aware of your 'situation'?" Han asked, and he noticed the subtle shudder coming from Naruto. He hid it well. But not well enough. "In order of tails."
"I was two years old… My uncle told me." Gaara still remembered it as clear as day. They had decided that it would be Yashamaru to tell him because he had also been the one appointed to take care of him and as such, the person closer to him.
"Two years old as well. The same goes for Kirabi." Explained Yugito, cutting in for his fellow companion from Kumo, fearful that he would use rap again.
Yagura was silent. It seemed that when they were together, Utakata took upon himself the task of talking for the both of them.
"We both were told as soon as we were able to understand what it meant." A little evasive as it didn't really reveal what they had asked, but it was enough for Roshi. That meant a very young age. He turned to Fu who for once wasn't reading… Even if the book was still open on the table.
"Ehm… Four years old." She said, a finger to her lips in sign of thought, like she wasn't sure she was telling the right age. Roshi just nodded. The only one left was Naruto.
"Ehm…" He was a little nervous, it seemed. He took a few seconds before answering truthfully. "They told me… Two weeks ago."
Roshi blinked at that, for the first time since the young ones knew him showing surprise at something… Well, second, but the first was about the blonde's eating habits. So, it didn't really count. He relaxed and the sighed. The Sarutobi in my memories wasn't this stupid… "Alright. Judging from the feeling of your chakra and from what you've told me, I can understand who has already been 'trained' in complying with their guests and who hasn't. But believe me…" He aspired some smoke from the handmade cigar he had just made before puffing it out in little clouds of smoke in various shapes. "You will never get better teachers than me and Han, about that. Your villages' teachers have just stories, theories and suppositions to go by. We both have years of experience."
"The first thing that you must understand… Is that there isn't a common way of dealing with each and every demon the same way." Han continued the speech of his 'senpai'. "In this the bijuu are like people. As in, they each have a different personality and things the like and dislike."
"And another important thing… Maybe the most important… Is that a bijuu's power isn't supreme. As in, there are opponents who are able to go toe to toe against us even without possessing the power of a tailed beast." Roshi took a few more puff of smoke. "So, you will basically ask us, what's the use of being a Jinchuuriki? What good does the Bijuu's power do us?"
"The thing that is common to every bijuu is that they are basically chakra batteries. The more the tails the more the chakra they give out." That got Yugito's interest.
"Wait a minute. So that means… That the niibi is like, second to last in regards of chakra?" She asked. Roshi nodded.
"Yes. But, as Han was saying, that's just one aspect. In the ninja world, it's not always the one with the most chakra who comes out as the winner of a fight." Roshi said, suddenly making the cigar rotate on the tip of his right index finger with ease, like it was a kunai. "The bijuu will give you chakra and certain abilities, but it will still be you the ones who will have to put it to use. Even the sharpest blade is useless in the hands of a fool."
"Certain abilities? Like?" The part about getting certain 'abilities' from the bijuu had gotten Naruto's attention.
"Good question. Well, for example, my bijuu gave me… We could call it a unique Kekkei Genkai of the elemental kind." The crickets around Naruto were being asked for more. Roshi sweatdropped. "Ehm… Right. You haven't even started the academy."
"Kekkei Genkais are like… Special ninja powers that can't be learned, right?" Fu said, raising her hand. Han nodded.
"Exactly. They are not 'techniques' per se, since they can't be thought. They are something that comes with blood. And not always. Following us so far?" Naruto nodded. Super cool power that you had to be born with. Okay. "Now, the elemental ninjutsu is basically split into five elements: fire, water, wind, earth, thunder. There are certain bloodlines that make the user able to mix two of these elements to create a completely new one."
"That's the kind of power I got from my bijuu." Finished Roshi, earning a 'ohhh' of admiration and interest from Naruto. "I don't know about the other bijuu, sadly. And finally, the last thing… There are two ways of using the bijuu's chakra."
"Two… Ways?" Han needed again, crossing his arms over his chest yet again. It was a habit which he obeyed to very often, it seemed.
"The first is by drawing upon it as you would do with your own chakra and use it for your techniques or to enhance your body functions and structure. You should note that the 'strengthening effect' of the bijuu chakra is superior to that of normal chakra." He said, then looked at Roshi, asking him to continue.
"Then, the second way… Is to basically become a miniature version of your beast." The young ones all blinked at that. He had seen that coming, since they had been probably trained just in the first way, to that moment. "Basically… Instead of drawing and using their chakra in a normal way… You basically let it invade your body, which becomes even stronger, and usually a cloak of chakra envelopes your entire self, in the shape of the bijuu. You all start at one tail, and the more 'tails' of power you add the more powerful you become."
"Wow! Cool!" Exclaimed Naruto, thinking about how cool it would be… To suddenly turn into a miniature Kyuubi? Thinking about it again…
"… But there are risks with this method. Otherwise me and Han would always use it." Roshi finished burning away his cigar, while Han took word again.
"Demonic chakra is different from ours. Our body can only take so much before it becomes harmful." That made a couple of the children gulp. "The most a person can take is three tails worth of power. That means that Yagura, Gaara and Yugito aren't ever going to be faced with that kind of predicament. For all the others… From the fourth tail onward, you start tapping in the beast's real power. But at a price, since it starts damaging your body."
"Exactly. My suggestion is, in case you're facing a strong enemy and you need to power up, you can go with tries till the third tail… If you see that it's not enough, don't go through each of the other ones." Roshi scratched the tip of his nose instinctively. "Go all out immediately, the highest level of power, to make the battle end earlier and minimize the damage."
"And finally… There's the last risk." Naruto gulped. It still wasn't over? "You can bet that some of the bijuu are 'demons' in the real sense of the term. Like mine. These ones will always try to take over your conscious self and substitute it with their own. And the more you tap into their power, the more you will lose yourself. There could the chance you can never go back in control ever again. People able to suppress a bijuu's power are rare. Really rare."
"… That's enough for today. Take your time to think about what you've learned today." Roshi said, getting up from his seat. "Starting from tomorrow… We will start the real lessons."
"Ehm, jii-chan, a question!" Roshi stopped walking away because of the nickname more than anything. He turned to face Naruto and nodded to him to signal to him to talk. "I… Ehm, there's something I didn't understand… I mean, what is chakra?"
Five faces met the ground with such force that the ground shook and trembled, making the ANBU appear again. Roshi rubbed his sore nose while thinking that the boy was probably the first Jinchuuriki in history who had not been trained in ninja arts since young days. But after all, that was the first time someone ever managed to seal the Kyuubi.
"… As we foresaw, then." The two ANBU from Suna were having a 'debrief' with another shinobi from their same village, who had joined them… Unofficially. As in, as much as the others knew, he wasn't there. They had been observing the activities during the first day of the camp.
"Yes. The Shukaku's protection is… Less effective, here, if not absent." One of the ANBU said, then letting the other one continue.
"The boy still has no full control over his powers. In a place without sand like this… It's doubtful he will put up much resistance." Their 'secret colleague' nodded, acknowledging truth in their words.
"Still… There still the problem of the other ANBU… And the 'camp leaders'." He said, thinking that indeed, there were still four ninjas plus two Jinchuuriki. It was doubtful that the ones from Kiri would do anything if they didn't target one of their own weapons. The two containers from Iwa had the responsibility of their younger counterparts, it was certain that they would jump in at any sign of danger. And the ninjas from leaf seemed to take this alliance façade seriously. They would help as well. "We need a distraction."
"What about a summoning? A relatively strong one would force at least the ANBU to get away."
"That would leave the two Jinchuuriki… And they're the biggest problem…" The unknown ninja rubbed his chin in thought… And then snapped his fingers. "One summoning isn't enough."
"You mean we should make one than one summoning?" The man nodded in reply.
"Yes. At least four. In different directions, so that they are forced to split up and leave the camp to intercept them. They will not risk to bring the fight near the camp."
"But… To summon four beasts strong enough to keep occupied two ANBU or one of those two experienced Jinchuuriki long enough… It will take almost all of our chakra."
"It's alright. After all, I was supposed to do the job alone. After all it would raise suspicions if you weren't there fighting the summonings as well. You should maybe go one each with the two Jinchuuriki, to hinder them… And it's not like I would need any help to take care of the child." The man brought a hand down to his feet, grasping the soft, wet, humus under his feet. "Sabaku no Gaara. His name says all. As long as he's surrounded by sand… He's protected. But without sand…" He crushed the piece of humus in his hands, sending drops of it flying everywhere. "He's nothing dangerous."
The two other ninjas looked at each other before deciding that the plan was sound. "When do we act?"
"At night, of course. I think on the seventh day… After all these days of tranquillity, they will be calmer and more relaxed… They will be more likely to jump into the trap. We will use these days to slowly prepare the summonings. Make sure to do so on your guard strolls. Without being seen."
"Good morning. Slept well, children?"
As a reply, all he got was a series of yawn and sighs. After all, children weren't supposed to wake up at 6 am. The tiredness from being woken up at that hour didn't spare anyone.
"I'll take that as a 'yes'. So, before having breakfast, we'll do a little stroll in the surrounding forest. Let's say… An hour or so." Naruto groaned at Roshi's words.
"A stroll? Oh, come on… Why?" He said, yawns threatening to break his sentence every two syllables, more or less. Roshi chuckled.
"Remember what I said yesterday? Your guests will give you power and abilities, but it will up to you how to use them. That means that you still will have to train your own body and chakra." He said, walking in front of the children slowly, eyeing them one by one. "In the future you will discover your own attitudes and skills, some of you have already discovered them…" Saying this, he looked at Kirabi, Yugito and Utakata. "But staying fit is required of a human being, not only of a ninja. A daily morning run will do good to your resistance and heart and lung capacity. So, get moving, boys. Follow me."
Roshi started moving towards the wooden gate of the palisade surrounding their camp. Han was already outside. He would watch on their stroll along with the various ANBU. They had contacted them and agreed to help with their training. They had been notified of the track they would follow so to better guard it.
The young ones followed Roshi's pace. It was a steady one, but not tiring at all. They could follow it with relative ease. Of course, the one with the most problems in following it were the younger ones. From Fu to Yagura through Naruto and Gaara. But even them were keeping up.
"Alright. We'll change our pace." He said after five minutes that they were marching through the forest. They had arrived in front of a rather large clearing… No, it was more like a road made in the forest. With a good eye, one could easily notice that it had been created just recently. "I'll accelerate a bit and also…" Suddenly Roshi sped up… And started… Walking at Zig Zag on the road, passing behind the trees? "Follow me. Zig-Zag, Zig-Zag."
"Eh?" Naruto was the only one to voice his surprise, but he hurried to follow the rest of the group.
"Zigzag, Zigzag." Roshi kept on saying that while running around, chanting it like it was a magical spell. Yugito was blushing. She felt a bit ridiculous.
After twenty minutes of that, everyone in the group had at least deepened their breath. In the end they arrived upon a smaller, round clearing. In the middle of it, seven different stones were sitting, some bigger than the others.
"Now, for the second part of our stroll… Pick up these stones." The group was surprised again. Roshi pointed at them with one of his hands. "There's one for each of you. I wrote your name on it. Come on."
"… What's the sense of this?" Commented Yugito again, picking the one with her name on it. It was quite heavy, but not as much as that she couldn't hold it in her hands. The others felt the same while raising their own ones. The bigger one got picked up by Kirabi, the smaller one by Yagura, of course.
"Now, you have to go back to the camp while carrying those stones… But, moving like this." Roshi joined his legs and feet and crouched, crossing his arms behind his back… "Hop. Hop." Many jaws suddenly felt gravity calling to them. Roshi had started hopping forward, going back in the direction they had come from. Stopping and hopping on its place, he turned to them again. "Come on. If you don't go all the way back like this, you get no breakfast. And we will not sit down and eat till everyone is back at the camp."
"EHHHHHHHHH?" Guess who.
Naruto had believed that the old man was out of his mind, because it sounded ridiculous… But now he was certain that he was out of his mind because he felt like his arms were about to come off. Hopping while carrying around that stone in his hands was downright a torture. If coming from the camp while doing zigzag through the trees had fatigued them and took around thirty minutes, he was fairly sure that they had been at that for almost an hour.
The first to distance himself from the group was Kirabi, being the oldest and physically strongest one of the group. He was then followed by Utakata and then Yugito, who despite not having the same muscular tone of the first two, was still older than them. They finally could see the gate, and the only ones left were him and Gaara, who were 'hopping' side by side. Fu was in front of them, and Yagura behind.
"Anf… Come… On…" Naruto grunted, focusing on the relatively small distance in front of them compared to what they had done and trying to ignore the ache in his muscles. That man… Is… A sappist… Or something…
"Nnngh…" Fu really felt the need to drop unconscious right there… But every time she felt like stopping, her favourite book came to her mind. The gutsy ninja would not give up, so she would neither. And the sight of the gates a 50 meters in front of her gave her the spurt she needed. She hurried up her hopping movement, and in another few seconds, she was behind the gates, inside the camp. She finally could let the stone fall to the ground and fall beside it, her whole body finally free to ache. "Anf… Anf… D-Done…"
"Well done, Fu. Good job. Now lay down there for as long as you like." Roshi said, eyeing the very tired figure of the girl and the still recovering figures of Yugito and Utakata. Kirabi had returned to a normal heartbeat rate and breathing speed few minutes after stopping. As I figured… He has the most resistance out of them. Now, three more to go… He turned in the direction of the three remaining boys.
"Anf… I'm hungry… And… Tired…" Naruto gritted his teeth, hearing Gaara's words. He shared his thoughts, but he so was not going to show it.
"Don't… Worry. We're almost done… Focus… On jumping…" Suddenly, a rather loud 'Thud' coming from behind them got the attention of the two Jinchuuriki. They stopped and turned around to find a heavily sweating and panting Yagura a few meters behind them, collapsed on the ground, over his stone. "Hey… You okay?"
Roshi eyed the scene with calmness. I foresaw that it could happen. After all, he's only four… Oh, well. "Yagura, you can… Uh?"
"Naruto… What are you doing?"
"You heard him! If we don't all go back, we can't eat breakfast!" Naruto's sudden action got the attention of everyone in line of sight, including the still recovering jinchuuriki behind the gates. The blonde had went back to Yagura and put his stone to the ground. Then, he picked up the younger child and put him on his back, making him join his hands around his neck and locking the silver-haired child's legs around his body with his own arms. Then, he kneeled down… And tried to lift both of their rocks. Emphasis on tried. He was struggling to get them up. "Nnngh… Hold… Tight…"
Yagura was still panting heavily, but he had at least managed to understand what was happening, observing Naruto's twitching arms.
Roshi was the most shocked of everyone there. It had really surprised him, the boy's action. But most of all… "Naruto… You know that this is against the rules…"
"S-Shut up! He's exhausted, old man! I'll just…" He struggled… And the rocks started to come off from the ground. "Aaaaaaargh! I'll… Just… Hop there… With him on my shoulders…" He basically screamed while he finally managed to raise the two rocks. "So… He will… Hop too."
Roshi was amazed by the feat, probably because it was the result of sheer willpower. Physically, he knew that the boy shouldn't have ever been able to do something like that. And the livid colour of his arms told him he was right. "… Run here."
"E-Eh?" Naruto said, not really listening to the man because of the amount of pain he was currently feeling in his arms.
"Run all the way here. And hurry. You just got one try. Otherwise, you'll really have to hop till here." Naruto stared at Roshi for a few seconds… And then the wincing pain from his arms brought him back to the world of living. With a shout, he started running forward, trying to cover all the 50 meters left in one try. Instinctively, the other Jinchuurikis behind the gates moved away, because they could see that he was already falling forward. He began to fall down right in front of the 'goal'.
"Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh!" He fell but he managed to fell inside the camp. The very instant he crossed the line of the gates he let the rocks fall down, cue to him tripping and flying forward, basically, landing harshly on his face.
Everyone stared, surprised by the feat that Naruto had just accomplished, even if they could feel his really heavy pants. But Roshi was even more surprised than anyone around. Han shared his thoughts from the trees.
That boy… Just what level of stamina does he possess? Was the shared thought. Roshi's training was hard enough, but what he had just done was supposed to have spent him, he should have been wheezing, gasping for air… But he was just really fatiguated. Roshi had the suspect that the reason Naruto couldn't get up from his face down position wasn't because of the lack of energy, but because of the pain in his muscles.
"H-Hey! Are you okay?" Fu approached Naruto and gently shook him. Naruto panted a little more.
"I-I'm okay… I just hurt a lot… In my arms… And legs…" He said, while Utakata helped Yagura get off his back, easing his breathing. Naruto managed to turn to his left side to look at the small child, who was staring at him.
"… Thank you, Naruto-san." Utakata was visibly surprised by that. Yagura usually didn't bother to speak more than one or two words, and people's names… He barely used them. Naruto just grinned.
"Eh… You're welcolme." In the meanwhile, Kirabi was taking notes. Seemed like he had managed to get some ideas about new rhymes.
"… Alright, alright." Roshi then turned to the last remaining Jinchuuriki, who had stopped and had just been staring all the time. "Gaara, start hopping, or we'll never get breakfast."
"A-Ah! Yes!" That broke him out of his reverie. Roshi snorted while the red-haired child started hopping as fast as he could, while he thought of a little idea that had come to his mind by watching Naruto. Why not make them do all that while carrying something on their backs? He just had to find a suitable object…
After Gaara had finished as well, they all sat down at the table in the middle of the camp, and like Roshi had foresaw, his one and Han's one were the only sets of jaws that ate normally. All the younger ones were eating like there was no tomorrow. Gaara and Naruto risked a couple of times of suffocating.
"Just to warn you, we will be doing the same thing every morning, but it will also be the only physical training you will be doing here. And after finishing eating breakfast, we'll go to the nearby stream to catch some fishes. You will always have to catch your own lunch's main dish."
No one heard him, it seemed. Or they just registered the information while not bothering to reply. Their mouths had to be used for just one thing, in that moment. Roshi chuckled.
"Here's the stream, kids. Let's…"
"BOOOOOMB!" Naruto and Kirabi were the first ones to throw themselves into the water, but they were followed later by the others, even if in a more slow manner. They were eager to get refreshed and clean from all the sweat they had build up in the morning, it seemed. Roshi smiled at their antics, but that had been his intention all along. They would relax a little before getting to some fishing.
The last one to get into the water was Gaara. Seemed like he didn't like water much. But Naruto had pulled him by his left arm into the water… The thing quickly degenerated into a splash-off between the two. They were later joined by Kirabi, and Yagura and Utakata too, it seemed. And the black-haired Jinchuuriki was damn good at it, it seemed.
The girls had soaked for a bit and then got out of the water. Yugito had opted for some dozing off in the sun, emitting some noise of satisfaction once in a while. Fu joined her but not without her book.
"Man, how the hell did you do it? I drank more water than what I ever spit!" Utakata replied to Kirabi's question with a satisfied smile, leaving him in doubt.
"… Fishes." Suddenly said Yagura, pointing at a couple swimming around Naruto's feet.
"Oh, right! We're supposed to catch them for lunch, right?" Naruto suddenly realized, remembering what had been told to them during their breakfast. He suddenly dove for them, but they quickly got out of the way. He pouted, while Gaara shielded himself from more water. "Ack! They got away!"
"You're never gonna catch them like that." Suddenly said Utakata, shaking his head to get some water out of his hair. Everyone turned to him, listening. "In Kiri, we do it like this… Who has a good aim?"
"Yugito's the name, aim's her game!" Kirabi commented while pointing at the girl, who emitted a loud growl. She just didn't like being used in one of the idiot's rhymes. She raised her head.
"What do I have to do?" She asked.
"Ask Roshi-san some kunais. We will scare these fishes so that they jump out of the water. You will have to hit them with your weapons and pin them to the tree on the other side of the river. Think you can do that?" Yugito listened and thought about it for a few seconds before nodding. She walked to the old Jinchuuriki who had already a weapon pouch out, on his left hand.
"How are we going to… Scare them?" Asked Gaara, curious about the intimidation methods they were going to use.
"First, we got to surround them. Then we dive underwater and follow them till we sort of trap them, so that they can do nothing else but try to jump over us…" He said… Then he smiled. "That, or we can jump into the water all together and raise a lot of water and the fishes along with it. What do you say?"
Naruto and Kirabi grinned to each other. Yagura got out of the river. It was going to get messy. In the following hour, they managed to catch enough fish for their lunch. All the while Fu read while moving around on her towel to dodge falling water.
'Naruto dove under the enemy's attack, and unsheathing his hidden weapon, he…' Uh? Something suddenly came to her mind. Naruto… Naruto… I feel like I've heard the gutsy ninja's name somewhere else than in the book… Nah, I'm probably imagining it. Too bad for her short attention span.
"Alright… So, I think it's safe to finally begin the real… Lessons." Roshi was sitting cross-legged in front of the pond, the children facing him sitting in similar positions. He had made another one of those hand-made cigars and was smoking it. Naruto had finally noticed that he didn't light it the right way… As in, he didn't use lighters or anything. He just put it in his mouth. "As in… How to draw upon your guests' chakra."
"That's what I wanted to know!" Naruto said. His outburst was met with just silence, since it was probably something everyone wanted to know about.
"Now, first thing you must understand, that it's not something easy, or even willing, the first time. That's because of the nature of the technique that put the demon into your body." Roshi said, before pointing at his face, and more specifically, at the tattoo stretching from cheek to cheek over his nose. "You probably all have something like this somewhere on your body, right? Some kind of tattoo…"
"Yep. Right over here." Kirabi pointed at his face. Naruto blinked, not understanding what he was pointing at… Before focusing. He then noticed that there was indeed something on the black haired kid's face. It was like a… A black drawing of a couple of horns, one above the other.
He then looked at the others. They were all exposing something similar, it seemed. Yagura and Utakata turned around and raised their hair at the back of their necks. They had the same tattoo, it seemed. It was a little fractal circle, crossed inside by three other fractal lines, that met each other at the centre of the circle.
Yugito exposed her right forearm. In her case, there was a small mark as well, like Kirabi's. This one, though, was in the shape of three vertical straight lines. It reminded Naruto of a scratch.
Finally, Fu. In her case… She was sitting to Naruto's immediate right, and she seemed to have some problems with her shirt. She was trying to raise it, but she seemed to not be able to raise it enough. She suddenly stopped and turned to him. "Ehm… Can you help me? It's on my back."
"Ah, ok." Naruto turned and complied, raising her shirt till the drawing got shown. It was a series of squares, put one inside the other. The tattoo covered all the space between her two shoulder blades.
"Hmmm… What about you, Naruto?" The blonde blinked and turned around… And then remembered of not having nothing of the sort anywhere on his body. "Hmmm, I see. I've heard that the Yondaime was a seal master… So, your seal probably only shows when you're using chakra."
"And… What about me?" Gaara said, breaking Naruto's thoughts about what a seal is before they even started. The boy seemed a little uneasy. "I… I don't have a tattoo either."
"That's because there's quite a difference between your situation and ours. While we have been subject to a technique of 'sealing', as in, it keeps our demons in check…" Roshi took a deep breath of smoke. He did it to focus, most of the times. "You got subject to a technique of possession. You know that, right?"
"… Yes." Gaara slowly lowered his head, and Roshi noticed the look of confusion on some of the young ones' faces.
"A technique of sealing basically puts the demons in a prison inside of a container. In case it's a living human, a jinchuuriki, it means that it's up to that individual the choice of how much, when, and how use the demon's chakra, to a certain extent." Han had suddenly appeared beside Roshi, landing beside him in a kneeling position. "A technique of possession, instead… It basically makes the demon ever-present. The two struggle every hour of the day for control over the body of the Jinchuuriki."
"… Yes… I keep on hearing a voice… Even now…" Gaara said, clutching his teddy closer to himself. "It says… To do bad things again… Like I do unconsciously… It never lets me sleep peacefully…"
"… I knew that the Sand Village was desperate for increasing his military power, but I believed it would have developed better sealing technique over the years." Han said shaking his head.
"Suna is not known for having a story of sealing techniques. They just don't care." Roshi said, his cigar finally ending. He put it out on the ground with one of his feet. Naruto didn't hear the last part because his gaze was fixed on Gaara because of his last words. "Returning to the main part of the speech, those 'tattoos' basically symbolize your situation, among other things."
"What kind… Of other things?" Asked Fu, suddenly curious.
"Let's say that… The demons' presence can influence your physique… And your behaviour, making them akin to their ones. They all have shapes of animals, after all. The most blatant example is Naruto, over here." Naruto blinked, and pointed at himself with his right index finger. Roshi nodded. "Those 'slashes' on both your cheeks. Don't they remind you of a fox's whiskers?"
Naruto brought his hands to his face, touching his cheeks in thought. He always believed they were strange birthmarks, but…
"Or, Yugito. Your habit of dozing off in the sun… Very cat-like." The girl blushed and turned her head to the side, frowning a bit. "Now, as I said, while there are few ways to use the chakra, there are just two ways in which to draw upon it. Willingly… Or going berserk." More confusion. The word was probably foreign to most of the young ones. "The second one is most often the way in which you would have used it the first time. Basically, if you start experiencing strong emotions that put you in 'resonance' with your demon… You go through the mini-beast transformation, that progresses with time."
"… Would have?" This time it was the usually silent Yagura to ask that question. Roshi nodded.
"Yes, would have. Because what we will be doing during this camp is trying to get you to start with the willing use before the berserk use."
"… How?" Asked Yugito. Roshi smiled and let Han reply.
"We will make you visit your demons."
In the next chapter…
After a few days of relative peace, all goes to hell in one night. Gaara gets targeted, and Naruto and the others get dragged into it. Can they stop him? Stay tuned.
For story's sake and character's interation, some of the Jinchuuriki's ages have been altered. Here's the spectrum…
Han (5-Tails): 26
Yagura (3-Tails): 4
Utakata (6-Tails): 9
Fu (7-Tails): 7