Chapter 1: Bad booze and a burning reset button
I don't own Naruto, any of its characters, or any references in this story. If I did, horrible things would happen. I do own all Original Characters (OCs) in the story.
This is my first fanfic, blah blah blah. Lots of spoilers, but I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the fillers from the pre time skip part of the series. If you think I copied something from another fic, it depends. A small fact or trick probably is copied by accident, but big changes or powers are all me.
Blah blah: normal text
"blah blah": someone normal…ish talking
"blah blah" : demon or someone really pissed/overpowered talking
o. o. o.
It was all over.
The remains of the final battle with Akatsuki could be seen for miles around within the borders of the Land of Fire. Craters littered the devastated landscape, occasionally occupied by the corpses of to those unfortunate enough to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. However, this is not where the end begins.
Several miles from the border was a cave. Inside lay the nearly dead remains of the Konoha 12, minus Naruto and Sasuke, plus Sai, Yamato, Konan, Shizune, Gaara and Kakashi. (Sasuke and most of his team had disappeared in the middle of the battle while fighting Team 10, when a tsunami summoned by Kisame missed his target and slammed into the area.) Their bodies lay sprawled around the cavern as they were held down by ROOT forces, unable to take their eyes off of the horror that was occurring in front of them.
A giant, nine eyed head gazed blankly into space, its ringed hands cupped as if holding something precious. It was a monstrous revenant, stuck half risen from the grave.
Five shadowed figures stood on top the fingers, each grinning, exulting in their imminent victory. Suigetsu, Kisame, Zetsu, Danzō and Madara were busy focusing their chakra, as a heroic orange clad idiot slash demon container was slowly losing that last title. Each member looked as if they had been put through a blender, their clothes somehow holding together and their bodies in little better shape, but their smirks counteracted what their bodies presented.
The final battle was initially a stalemate, going in favor of the Konoha forces due to Kisame's initial screw up, but Danzō and his loyal ROOT forces switched sides on the last second, much to everyone's surprise. The man was notorious for being underhanded, but Konoha's forces didn't expect their newly elected Hokage to betray his own forces at the last moment. Needless to say tempers were high and morale was low.
This is where the story begins, and ends.
o. o. o.
As he floated in the middle of what he would describe as the most boring place in the universe, next to Iruka's classes, only one thought was going through Naruto's mind:
"Was this what Gaara went through? Three days of this is torture, let alone five! No wonder he died, I mean sure the guy is as strong and awesome as me, but honestly! This place is driving me NUTS!"
After about two days into the extraction process, Naruto was taking a break from trying to get out of whatever the hell he was in. Sure, he was captured, about to die, and on the verge of a tyrannical new world order, but he dealt with his panic and depression 21 hours ago due to one of his unspoken promises to himself to never go down the path of the emo. He had seen what it did to Sasuke, and he did NOT want that to happen to him.
He was about to attempt to try Sage Mode yet again and try to blow something, if there was anything at all, up (whether it was to see if it would work or simply because blowing things up is fun as hell is anyone's guess) when he felt a huge presence come from right behind him. Whipping around, he turned just in time to see a huge black tear in the middle of … well, whatever this place was made of, rip open. A man tumbled out with no grace whatsoever and landed flat on his back with a painful moan.
Now, Naruto is not the definition of a genius. Yes, he does have a mask to hide his true skills, and yes, he's not that stupid (although his social skills are indeed what people think they are), but he was pretty damn sure that whatever Akatsuki was doing to him, it did not involve some random guy falling through a tear in the air.
Staring at the man, Naruto took in his appearance. He was in his late teens to early twenties, a bit less than 2 meters tall, give or take, with long brown black hair tied in a semi-low ponytail that reached down to a few inches past his waist. His eyes were hidden by a pair of expensive looking sunglasses, but even without seeing his eyes one could tell that his face was handsome with high cheekbones, a tight jaw line, long bangs that spiked a little, and little baby fat. He wore a pair of loose, tan cargo pants with many pockets that appeared to hold some various sized objects and a brown leather belt to hold it up, a white tee shirt that had a black tribal design in the chest that could easily remind someone of a fancy spinning bulls eye or a windmill, a black trench coat with a hood and short sleeves that extended down to just above his ankles with the silver outline of a fire flaring from the hem up to his kneecaps, tan steel toed boots, and black, fingerless gloves that padded the fingers.
Naruto stared as the man slowly picked himself up, swaying dangerously during the process. Even though he wouldn't admit it, the guy looked pretty cool from a teenager's perspective… like something a person would expect from a manga, minus the swaying of course. Suddenly, the man suddenly stumbled, hurling what looked like his lunch as the smell of alcohol and quite a bit of vomit washed over Naruto.
"Ugh, damn Midget. Can't take one damn joke about her non-existent weight without trying to kill me. Hope Crypt will live through the rampage, and not vow revenge on me this time… though odds are he'll just mix me up with the floor again by the end of the day and blame it instead. Crazy bastard." He chuckled to himself, getting an odd look from the blonde. "Now where… the… helllllloooo. Interesting." Not even turning to face Naruto, but still swaying rather dangerously side to side, the man continued, "Kid, you wouldn't happen to be Naruto Uzumaki, would you?"
Naruto, still trying to get the smell of booze and vomit out of his system, stumbled back a few steps, pointed at the unknown man in a rather extravagant way and shouted. This was definitely an improvement compared to ten minutes beforehand, but the boy still wasn't going to take any chances just yet. "Who the hell are you, how the fuck did you get here and how do you know my name?!"
The man simply turned to face the boy, seemingly making eye contact with the 16 year old, and stared for what seemed like a good hour. Then he started to laugh and yell to himself. A lot.
"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Holy crap! We spend years trying to find this universe, and I accidentally stumble into it completely hammered by accident running from my PMSing sister! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! The guys are going to laugh their asses off! Oh man, this is too good to pass up! They don't even know yet! This is too rich!"
Naruto, slowly inching away from the crazy person in front of him, turned around and started to run/float as far away as possible… only to have said crazy person suddenly appear next to him with his arm around his shoulder and still chuckling a small amount.
"Hold on, kid. As much as I enjoy freaking strangers out - and believe me, I enjoy it very, very much - I gotta ask you, where the hell are we? From what I can tell this is some sort of mental realm that's meant to keep consciousnesses in limbo for a while." He paused. "… Now that I think about it, I normally have trouble getting into places like these… weird. Anyways, you can tell me about the Kyūbi and shit like that. I know it all, or mostly about it, and I can tell you that it doesn't bug me at all. Hell, my sister has a dragon inside her that hocks loogies the size of the Land of Fire and I chat to her all the time. Course, it doesn't help that I piss her off for fun half the time, but that's something completely different."
Naruto couldn't really respond to what this guy asked. Out of nowhere, a complete stranger appears, claiming to be looking for his universe for over a thousand years, knowing his name and then asking what is happening while they were both in his MIND, while the Kyūbi was being sucked out of him. Not only that, but this stranger claimed that said Kyūbi was pretty much no big deal, and seemed to think that talking to monsters that would make the greatest monster in the five elemental countries look insignificant was an everyday occurrence. Naruto was starting to think that he was going crazy.
Turning away from the man, Naruto muttered "I've been here too long and am seeing things, gotta get out before the Kyūbi gets taken out of me and save everyone." He made it almost two feet before a firm hand grabbed his shoulder and yanked him back. The man glared at Naruto (or seemed to) and Naruto felt something that caused him to fear this man.
His presence, his intent… it was strong. Far too strong.
Whatever he might look like, he wasn't human.
"Care to repeat that, kid? What do you mean, before the Kyūbi gets taken out? What happened?"
Naruto could tell this was not a question, it was an order. So, he did what any person who could think straight and valued his life would do: he explained everything. Danzō's rise to Hokage, Sasuke's kill on sight order, the first encounter with Sasuke, where he managed to escape vowing revenge on all of Konoha (knowing that it was a hole in the ground), the news of the entirety of Akatsuki bearing down on Konoha, the last battle, and Danzō's last second betrayal. All throughout the explanation, the stranger listened carefully, not interrupting Naruto's explanation, although he did mutter something along the lines of "damn, and I thought Kishi's plot line was bad".
When the explanation was done, the man simply stood up and stared off into space in deep though, occasionally talking to himself. Naruto could only hear bits and pieces of what he said.
"… could tell them that he's the…hurt like a damn pain in …information, they could provide to be…"
After what seemed like an eternity, Naruto, who had been staring at the man in fear and wonder finally lost his patience and snapped.
"That's it! Who the hell are you and how do you know so much about me! You better fess up before I kick your ass, you bastard!"
"…zzzzzzzzz…" The stranger, still looking like he was thinking, tilted his head to the side, and a large snot bubble blew from his nose. All while standing completely erect.
"What the hell!?" Naruto roared, his head almost as large as Iruka's when someone screwed up in class.
"…zzz wha? Oh, were you saying something?" The man grumbled as the snot bubble popped.
Clawing onto what restrain he had left, Naruto replied. "Who. The. Fuck. Are. You. And. How. Do. You. Know. Me?"
"Oh, why didn't you ask earlier?" At this point, Naruto vowed to kill this man, however strong he might be. "My name is… well I have a lot of names… and nicknames, but for now call me Ghost. It's the one I use the most. As for how I know so much about you… we'll talk about that later." He waved his hand lazily.
Before Naruto snapped and lunged for Ghost's neck, the odd man continued. "Just to let you know, you're going to die and it's impossible for you to get out of your current situation. If you stay like this, the Kyūbi will be extracted from your body, you will die, your friends will die, and the elemental countries will fall into chaos. If someone stops the ceremony that Akatsuki are putting you through, the Kyūbi's chakra will rush back to you in a massive surge and cause an explosion that will kill everyone in aboooout a five mile radius." He crossed his arms and nodded his head sagely as if he had come to a conclusion that didn't affect him or the world in the slightest. "Yep. No if's and's or but's about it. You are hosed this time around kid."
This stopped Naruto in his tracks. A multitude of emotions ran through his mind as Ghost explained what would happen, and throughout the entire thing, Naruto could tell: Ghost wasn't lying. "Th-that can't be true!" He yelled in denial. "My friends! My teammates! My teachers! You mean to tell me that all that fighting was for nothing?!" Down on his knees, the blonde hero sank into depression, or was about to when the guest yanked him back up and slapped him in the face with practiced ease.
"Hold on there Mr. Almost-Emo, I said you were hosed this time around. I happen to have some powers other than traveling between dimensions and worlds completely intoxicated, thank you very much. One of which would be quite helpful to you right about now. If you're interested." He gave the boy a confident smirk that reminded the blonde of himself whenever he came up with an awesome strategy or technique.
Naruto looked at the dimension traveler skeptically, "What, like time travel?" in a more than sarcastic tone.
The man made a funny sound as he waved one of his hands from side to side. "Eeeeh no, not quite… but it's close enough that it can kind of be considered time tr- oh GOD!" Ghost stumbled to the side and threw up with a passion. Naruto managed to jump away in time to not get covered in it, but he could do nothing to get away from the smell.
Coughing, Ghost righted himself again and groaned. "Ugh. If you ever meet my brother Crypt, which is more than likely, never under any circumstances eat or drink anything he offers you. It is more than likely going to go out the hole it came in, and it gets more disturbing and painful if you try to be creative about it."
"… Why would I want to be creative about it?"
"As I was saying, I can do something that is like time travel, but not really. I'll explain later, but for now it would be enough to say it's a one way trip and it only goes backward. For now, you will be the only one to remember what has happened afterwards, but I can make it so that you can make some people remember later."
"There will be rules though, and I expect you to follow my orders when I give them to you since this isn't my first time doing this and I can make sure you don't do anything stupid. Screwing around with the past is unpredictable, and things don't always happen the same way even if you try to repeat everything perfectly."
"If you do go through with this, I will train you. I don't know any jutsu yet, but I am a wind/air element like you, and I happen to know a thing or two about you and what you can do to get better. I'll even throw in a few tricks as well, at the cost of your dignity and personal safety of course… mostly dignity. Honestly, it's so overrated in my opinion. I can also if needed get some of my family to come over to help from time to time with training you and your friends if needed - oh fuck, they will kill me when they find out I found this universe and didn't tell them - and a couple of them can help you with your ahem, inner furry."
"Oi." Naruto growled. The boy had been called many things when it came to the Kyūbi, but he drew the line at being insinuated that he had a fur fetish.
Ghost giggled. "Sorry, couldn't resist. Too easy. Anyways, you in or out?"
Naruto, taking all this in stared at the man, who claimed to be able to turn back time. After ten minutes of deliberation, he replied. "What's the catch? There's no way you would do all this for free. I don't even know if I can trust you. What do you want … Ghost?"
Ghost smirked. "Entertainment, kid. Despite my damn sexy looks, I'm roughly two and a half thousand years old, give or take a couple hundred, and the same goes for everyone in my immediate family. We get bored real fast and like shaking things up a bit wherever we go. But more than that, we like helping the good guy completely one side the assholes on the opposing team and make them look like pansies... as long as the good guy isn't a complete prick, of course. Then we just torture him and the bad guys as a mysterious third party… which is also pretty fun from time to time. Anyways, have you ever see an embodiment of death and destruction have a panic attack and freak out because all his plans keep on 'mysteriously' backfiring? It's fucking hilarious. The fact that your world has a pale ass snake pedophile to mess with is even better." The man rubbed his hands evilly as he began to plan out the things he would do to Orochimaru, giggling like a child the entire time.
"Oh, it will be glorious. Moving on! The thing is, after about a couple hundred years, most sentient beings that achieve immortality either go completely insane, achieve omnipotence and cease to be a single being anymore, or become partially insane to maintain a good portion of their sanity. Sanity-to-power ratios are quite variable, though, so some lose more sanity than others. The way most of my family stays more-or-less sane is by screwing around with people's heads like a genius chipmunk on crack and Red Bull."
'What're crack and Red Bull?' Naruto thought as he let the man continue. He was reluctant to admit it, but he was starting to like the guy. Anyone who enjoyed messing with the heads of people that deserved it earned points in his book.
"I promise you that I won't change anything major unless it's for the better. Hell, I'll even make it so that you get that Hyūga chick and not get in trouble with the councils for it. Girl has a figure to kill for, and it was obvious that she has the hots for you. How you completely missed her painfully obvious crush I'll never understand. As for trusting me … well, it's either we do this or everyone is dead, so it's not like you have a lot of options. This isn't the first time I've fixed a timeline." Ghost paused. "Oh yeah, I also like ramen with a passion, that's worth a few points, right? So once again, are you in or out?"
Ghost was reading the boy's emotions through his face. Understanding, skepticism, humor, mischievous, rage (Hinata fueled, of course), and hope. He knew he had the kid, and could only laugh maniacally to himself as he planned all the things he was going to do to… well, everyone. Being indiscriminate had its perks.
"These pranks … can I join?" Naruto asked slowly, with a small grin on his face.
"Naruto, my dear boy, with your clones, I dare say we might break my family's current record for most pranks in a week." Ghost claimed with vigor.
Oh yeah, the kid is in.
"Fine, I'll bite." The jinchūriki sighed. "So what are these rules? And what are you going to teach me, and…"
Ghost raised his hands in mock defense. "Whoa. Hold on there, one at a time. What I'll teach you will come when I teach you. Rules come first. If I tell you to do something, you do it. Most of the time I'll leave shit alone and do nothing aside from messing with people, which will happen, a lot, but there will be times when I do act or need you to do something, and you will do it."
"Second, the memory transfer. Because of my power, you will be given chains that will look like a linked tattoo on your body. Most likely, it'll show up on your arm. Each link will restore one person's memory from before I change everything; that'll make more sense later. The number of links you get will depend on the number of times you've died or came so close to death that it didn't really matter at that point." He leaned forward and seemed to stare at Naruto for a few seconds before nodding to himself and backing up.
"From what I can tell, you died five times; once from that guy Kabuto during that fight with Tsunade, twice when you fought Sasuke at the Valley, once when you saved that chick Shion - there was some really interesting space time manipulation surrounding that one - and the last one is right now. Yes, you are close enough to being dead that it counts." He started to stretch his body out before continuing.
"To bring someone's memory back, bring out a chain link by focusing on your tattoo and imagining a link appearing. Once you have a link solidified, simply apply it to the person's forehead and wait as they deal with a massive headache as their memories return. Probably take about an hour, less if they've been dead for a while."
"Now listen closely, 'cause this is the interesting part. If you bring back the memory of a person who died or almost died during the time period I erased, meaning between now and when you wake up after I do my thing, they will develop a chain link of their own, which they can either keep or give back to you. So if you plan it out correctly, you can bring more than five people back." He grunted as he started to twist his body and spin smoothly on his hands, causing his spine to snap several times. Naruto was seriously starting to question his decision to work with the guy at this point.
"Third rule, change as little as possible unless you truly believe that it is for the best outcome. I cannot stress this enough. What you know is absolutely useless if it doesn't happen in the first place. That means don't try to pick up Hinata the first time you see her, don't try to be Sasuke's best friend right off the bat, don't scream about Orochimaru's plan to invade Konoha to the entire village, and for god's sake DON'T start showing off in front of your friends and beat everyone. Take your time, and be subtle. To their childhood counterparts, you're still the same dead last idiot. Don't give them any reason to think otherwise… except for maybe Shikamaru, but he's damn smart, so it'd be best to bring his memory back from the get go. Regardless, the timeline will change more the longer we stay there, so technically as long as we don't do anything too drastic or stupid, we SHOULD be able to have a bit of breathing room once the Chūnin Exams start getting close." He sighed as he landed on his feet and stood up again with loose and relaxed posture.
"As for how I know so much … well, that's for me to know and for you to find out later. Maybe."
"Now, are we done? 'Cause I want to get this over with." He momentarily frowned as he took in a deep breath. "I… don't really like using this particular ability kid. It brings back some unwanted memories. I'm doing you a damn big favor by using this power for you, so be grateful."
Naruto, eager to see how this guy was going to turn back time and save everyone, nodded. "Yeah, yeah. I can't believe that I'm getting a second chance. I'm not going to waste it."
Ghost smirked, "Then back up whiskers, because you're about to see a legend in action. I've been called several interesting things during my travels, and I can assure you, none were earned simply because they sound as awesome as I am."
Before Naruto could ask what he meant, he felt it. Something that made killing intent seem like child's play. It was something on a completely different level. Mere killing intent made a person feel like they were covered by a very cold blanket on his bare skin. The heavier the intent, the colder and heavier the blanket was. The intent of the strongest shinobi could freeze a man in place, and in some cases cause them to pass out because they stopped breathing.
This… presence… was completely different on a fundamental scale. It was like standing on a tiny platform that would fit only half of one of your feet, and around you there was absolutely nothing. No ground, no walls, no sky. Not even air. Just infinite emptiness. And from the infinite depths of this space, a strong wind rose, buffeting the platform unceasingly, making it unbearably easy for a person to lose their balance and fall... into an eternal pit of nothing. Naruto could only gasp for air and stay perfectly still in fear of losing himself to this horrifying sensation.
And then he noticed Ghost.
At first, the strange man's only change was his confident grin, which some could say resembled a certain fox's at times. But then two huge snow white lumps unfurled from his back, as a pair of wings made their appearance. Bones, stripped clean. No feathers, no skin, no muscle, just two white wings clawing from his back and surrounded his sides, like a majestic, zombie falcon. But the oppressive feeling he was giving off continued to intensify.
Naruto would be the first person in Konoha to tell you that fighting monsters is no laughing matter, but there's always a way to deal with them. With Gaara and Shukaku, the Akatsuki, and the Kyūbi under his belt, one would think that he could handle being in the presence of anything. This next transformation of Ghost's proved him wrong.
As soon as his wings extended to their full length, black fire - no, black would be an insult to how dark this fire was - an abyss-like flame erupted from between the fingers of the wings, forming membranes of utter darkness.
As this was happening, the bones themselves seemed to become transparent as the flames outlined them, giving both wings a ghostly, grasping look.
The last - and in Naruto's opinion, creepiest - change was on Ghost's face. While the flames slowly made their appearance, black shards slowly phased in from nowhere and attached themselves to his face, eventually becoming a black mask formed around his glasses, so dark that even his fire looked paler beside it. It reminded Naruto of Haku's mask in its simplicity, but instead of wave marks, there was a shattered glass design originating from Ghost's left eye, pure white cracks reaching out to the edges of the mask. The result was the man had transformed from a goofy looking drunk to something that could only be described as a god/deity like being, something that he was sure that even Madara wouldn't think twice about running away from.
The transformed man said nothing. He simply raised his right arm lazily to his side, as if giving an order.
Then the chains came.
Thousands, millions, an uncountable amount of chains appeared out of thin air and extended everywhere, reminding the blonde of a spider's web or one of Sasuke's ninja wire traps. Naruto guessed that there were so many chains that they wrapped around the world. When the links finally stopped moving, obscuring the ground in every direction farther than any eye could see, each and every chain flashed into a black falchion style sword, roughly three feet long from the handle, but with the blade's edge extending over the entirety of the grip, and the guard on the back of the blade looped forward up a good third of the blade, similar to a jitte. Each one was an exact replica of the one next to it, and all looked very lethal. (Think God of War; Blades of Chaos, with a few tweaks and the blade is half as wide).
Naruto could tell, somehow, as the blades rose partway from the ground and began to dance with the abyssal flames floating about, that these were not really swords dancing around him like death. This was much more frightening.
This was Death, given physical form, dancing around him like swords.
As the boy realized this, the swords closest to Ghost erupted in his black fire. The fire jumped from blade to blade faster than the eye could see, traveling at an insane pace down the near infinite trail of sharp weapons, occasionally disappearing in one direction and reappearing on a completely different line of blades.
As the last weapon caught on fire, the world itself caught alight with a tremendous explosion, burning with abyssal flame.
Before everything went dark, Naruto thought 'Holy shit. What the hell did I get myself into this time?'
In the depths of Naruto's mind, the remains of a certain demon were contemplating something different.
'Hehehehe, I knew my container was lucky at times, but to by chance get THEIR help at the last moment is something else. To think that they actually exist … let's see where this leads. Even when you aren't here, your existence changes all the rules. Don't disappoint me, envoy of Zuzushi.'
o. o. o.
Well, here's chapter 1. Ghost and the other three or four main OCs will be strong characters, but they won't really be involved in any of the main fighting until around the time skip, where a lot of extra guests show up. Nor will any of the other OCs really show up until at least the Chūnin Exams. They will be mentioned and have very quick scenes until then. Each of the characters has their own powers, 3-5 each, not including focusing energy in their bodies or seal manipulation or their weapons. Each of them will have their own… weaknesses, some of which are not things you would expect at all. I won't explain what Ghost did yet, but I assure you that I have a decent explanation why it is not actually time traveling, regardless of what the characters will say later.
Just to let you know, there will NOT be any cross over characters. There will be some references, but nothing is coming in to the world of Naruto aside from my OCs. Naruto will not learn how to use the katana, nor will he go god mode. He will be ridiculously strong and he will learn how to use a certain weapon of my own design… kinda, (laughs manically) that will make him badass. But he will still have some trouble fighting against the Akatsuki and other foes. I accept all forms of criticism, but please refrain from going overboard with the blasting. I get enough of that from home as it is.