A/N: so yeah, I'm back again. I can't tell for sure if I'm back to stay, but I at least have this one offering for you all, longer than my norm at that. Maybe with finals nearly over and the summer looking clear this will be a new trend… I certainly hope so. In any case, enjoy!
Naruto: Mage Nin
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Mahou Shojou Lyrical Nanoha… if I did then Itachi wouldn't have died like he did, and there would be another season of Nanoha out already.
Chapter 1: A Beginning
6 years later:
It was a normal morning in Konoha, the non-ninja of the village waking up, shaking the sleep from their minds as they prepared for a brand new day, the Ninja of the village either waking up for their duties or happily reporting for the end of their shifts for the night and going to a much desired rest. For most of the village, there was absolutely nothing of note happening today.
For some of the village though, this was a very important day, for today was the day of the yearly Leaf Ninja Academy final exams, where aspiring ninja who had completed the four years worth of course work (or those who thought they were prepared regardless) would have the chance to become ninja of the leaf village at last. All of the students involved were looking forward to that test with a mixture of anticipation and dread as they moved about their morning routines with unusual anticipation. All of those students, that is, but one.
Thirteen year old Uzumaki Naruto awoke to a beeping noise coming from the jewel around his neck, as he had for the past six years. Yawning deeply, he got out of bed at a relaxed pace, absently mumbling "ok, ok, I'm up Dauntless." The beeping stopped as he got out of his bed and began to stretch; working the stiffness out of his body that always resulted from sleeping on his too hard mattress. Still moving tiredly, he finished those stretches and started moving about his apartment, clad for the moment only in his boxers. He took a shower and dressed himself before moving to make himself breakfast. As he poured himself some cereal, he absently asked out loud, "Dauntless, what do I have on the agenda for today?"
The green gem around his neck pulsed once with an inner light before responding in a somewhat mechanical though clearly male voice; "My lord, you have only one scheduled event for today; the academy final exam which starts at 8:00 A.M."
Naruto nodded to himself as he ate, not really reacting for a few moments before his eyes opened wide. He glanced at the clock on his counter. 7:45 A.M it read. Naruto had only one thing to say to that.
Quickly shoveling down the rest of his cereal, barely taking the time to chew it up, Naruto rushed out of his apartment, running as fast as he could to reach the academy on time. He ignored the glares and spitting that came from the villagers he passed as he ran, having long become used to it. Besides, he didn't have time to bother with them! He absolutely could not afford to be late today. After several minutes of running, the academy building came into view. As he raced through its halls, dodging senseis in the halls, he spied a clock on the wall. 7:59 it read. Reaching the correct door, he burst through it, just in time to hear Iruka-sensei, his teacher for the past two years call out; "Uzumaki Naruto?"
Panting a small amount from the cross town sprint; Naruto raised his hand.
Iruka frowned at the boy who was alternately one of his best and worst students, but who was almost always the last one to arrive. Shaking his head a bit he said, "you need to get out of the habit of doing cutting it so close Naruto… a second later and I would have had to mark you absent and you wouldn't have been allowed to take the test. Now, take a seat."
Naruto nodded absently and did so, ignoring the snickers of some of his classmates as he did so. He was good at ignoring things like that after the amount of practice he'd had. Spying a free seat next to the eternally lazy Shikamaru, Naruto walked over and sat down. He allowed himself a small smile at the mumbled "troublesome" from the boy next to him, whose head was planted firmly on the desk in a seeming attempt to get some last minute sleep.
Naruto could understand the sentiment. He himself was no longer paying attention to Iruka as he gave one last lecture to the class, some nonsense about how proud of them all he was. Naruto had, after all, heard it all two times before, albeit only one of those times was from Iruka. The speech was the same both times, and didn't sound any different this time, so Naruto decided to instead strike up a mental conversation with Dauntless Might in his mind.
'So, how much longer until the adjustments to the armor forms are done?' Naruto asked.
'Final diagnostics should be completed at 2000 hours my lord, according to the projections given to you when you requested the refit. It is projected that armor energy efficiency will be increased by approximately fifty percent, allowing for a second alpha level blast before charge cycle must be initiated,' came the mental reply from his device.
Naruto smiled to himself at that thought, feeling satisfaction at finally completing an upgrade that he had been working on for months. The timing couldn't be more perfect either. Naruto was knocked from his thoughts when a small bit of chalk impacted his head. Giving a start, he looked up and saw Iruka glaring at him lightly. "Naruto, are you ready to take the test, or would you like to go back to sleep?" he asked in a deceptively light tone. Apologizing quickly, Naruto walked down to where Iruka was standing and followed him into the next room, ignoring the whispers around him.
The room he entered was a plain room, with a large open area in front of a table with two chairs. Iruka walked over and sat down in one chair, and sitting in the other was the other sensei for the year, Mizuki. Knowing the drill, Naruto walked to the center of the room and waited for his instructions.
"First off Naruto, I'd like to remind you that this is your third time taking this test, and if you fail this time you will be dropped from the program. Do you understand?" Iruka began. He was a bit nonplussed at Naruto's bored nod, but continued you anyway."Ok then, first please perform the Kawarimi no jutsu."
Naruto sighed lightly, as everyone in the room knew that he could perform that jutsu just fine. He knew that it was a required part of the test, but he had shown that he could do it fine both of the previous times he had done the test.
Silently he put he formed the needed hand symbol and wordlessly switched places with a chair from the corner of the room. Iruka nodded approvingly and marked something down on his clipboard. Mizuki just looked bored.
"Alright Naruto, next you need to show us the Henge no Jutsu," Iruka prompted, and Naruto again formed the right hand seal and performed the jutsu, transforming into a copy of Iruka. Iruka spent a moment looking over the transformation, nodding to himself and marking things on his clipboard as he did so, before sitting down once more. Looking up from his clipboard, he regarded Naruto with a deliberate look.
"Ok Naruto, all you have to do to pass is perform the Bunshin no Jutsu and create at least two clones of yourself. Anytime you're ready," Iruka said. Naruto put on a pained look and nodded before forming the ram seal and channeling his chakra.
"Bunshin no jutsu," he muttered under his breath, and a cloud of smoke exploded into being. When the smoke cleared, it revealed Naruto, still standing in the same position as before, now accompanied by a single sickly looking bunshin. Iruka got a disappointed look on his face as he gave his pronouncement.
"I'm sorry to say Naruto, but that bunshin just isn't good enough. You fail for the third and final time."
Naruto made a show of nodding sadly and walking dejectedly out of the door and the academy, seemingly to depressed by his ultimate failure from the ninja program to notice anything around him.
Unknown to those around him, his bowed head concealed a small grin. 'Success,' he thought to himself happily.
It was a wonderful night as far as Naruto was concerned, quiet and calm around him as he walked through the forest leading out of Konoha. The past hours had been spent in careful preparation, in putting the finishing touches on the plan he had been trying to see to fruition since a year after his life changed forever. Now, finally, his plan was showing itself to be a success, as he finally left the place that had spat on him and treated him like shit for the stupidest of reasons.
Naruto had been looking forward to leaving Konoha since shortly after receiving Dauntless Might and beginning his education as a mage. Despite what an outside observer might think, there were actually several reasons for this. The most obvious of the reasons was, of course, a desire to escape the mindless fear and prejudice heaped upon him by the people of Konoha, as even though he had become increasingly skilled at avoiding personal injury, there was little he could do to avoid being cheated out of money or damage to what property he owned. As much as Naruto would try to deny it, the fact that his situation made it nearly impossible to make friends was also unpleasant for him.
The second reason Naruto desired to leave Konoha had to do with the fact that he had run into a dead end in his education as a mage. Since he started learning from Dauntless Might, he was lucky enough to find that several parts of the ruins beneath Konoha's old sector that allowed him to train without being watched or having to improvise to make up for knowledge gaps. However, recently, he had come up across a barrier, as the facilities under Konoha were never meant to accommodate a mage with the sheer amount of power Naruto found himself possessing. As a result of this, Naruto had accidently destroyed much of the underground sector while testing his first A-rank technique. Luckily, before doing this, Naruto had discovered mention in the archives of the old sector of similar places throughout the elemental countries, of sites built by a civilization that called itself Arianon. Thus, Naruto had a destination outside of Konoha to make leaving that much more enticing.
The final reason Naruto had decided to leave was intimately tied to the first, but much, much more dangerous to him; the Konoha council. Naruto had, as the years passed, come to understand a fundamental truth of how Konoha was ruled; the Hokage, despite being the supposed most powerful person in the village, was in fact largely subject to the whims of the councils of clans and civilians that had sprung up not long after the village was founded. Naruto got the sense from what little history he had managed to pick up in spite of his teachers efforts that the Hokage used to have the supreme power the title claimed to wield, but it certainly did not anymore, as proven to Naruto by the village's disregard for the Hokage's wish that he be treated fairly. No, Naruto realized that as long as he remained in Konoha, he remained under threat from the councils, and thus his decision to leave was made final.
"My Lord, detecting energy discharge nearby. Energy identified as Chakra. What is your desired course of action?"
The voice of his device broke Naruto from his reverie, and he realized that he could barely make out the sound of metal clashing with metal and raised voices. Now, Naruto knew that it was really none of his business if whoever was making the noise decided to kill each other, not to mention the fact that he was still close to Konoha and thus there was a fair chance that whoever was fighting included at least one Konoha Nin. Encountering a ninja of Konoha would not be a good thing, not when Naruto was so close to leaving the place behind him for good. Still…
"Dauntless Might, engage stealth protocols out to five feet and maintain them until I say otherwise. I think I'll indulge my curiosity just this once."
"Yes My Lord."
A few minutes later
Naruto didn't take long to reach the source of the chakra and noises of battle. Taking care to keep himself out of sight and trusting in his Device's ability to muffle any sounds he made, he took stock of the situation. Looking into the clearing in which the battle was taking place, his eyes widened at what he saw.
The clearing was wide and clear, at least big enough to accommodate a small house, an extreme rarity in the western forests of Konoha. At one end stood a wooden shack, old looking, but still apparently very sturdy, particularly considering that it still stood strong despite having several giant Fuma Shuriken lodged deep into the front wall. These were far from the only weapons that littered the clearing though. In several place across the field there were clusters of kunai and shuriken, most obvious misses, but a few with blood on the edge that gave away their status as grazing hits. It would be apparent even to a civilian that a battle between shinobi had taken place there, but Naruto hardly needed to see such evidence to know that. The two combatants involved were, after all, right in front of him, the cause of Naruto's widened eyes.
Iruka and Mizuki were the two fighters, darting around the clearing and occasionally clashing kunai against kunai. Both were dressed in the traditional garb of a Konoha Chunin, green flak jackets and gray clothing meant to blend into the shadowed forests around Konoha while still providing a fair measure of protection to hits that the ninja failed to dodge, along with the Hitai-ite which all ninja not undercover used to denote their status as nin (and protect their foreheads or other body part.) There were two major differences between the two combatants; the first was that Iruka was the one with the greater number of injuries, having a number of small cuts as well as a gash in his left arm. The second difference was that Mizuki's hitai-ite had a slash through the leaf symbol, the customary mark of a missing-nin. Naruto, his curiosity aroused, moved close enough to be able to hear the two ninja as they spoke between kunai clashes.
"Why are you fighting me like this Iruka," Mizuki asked, his voice showing his unhappiness. "I thought we were friends! That's why I asked you to come with me!"
"I thought we were friends too," Iruka replied, angry. "But then, I thought you were loyal to Konoha like I am! I can't believe you stole the Forbidden Scroll! Who did you even manage to do that, it's guarded by Hokage-sama himself!"
Naruto finally noticed the absolutely giant scroll propped up against the tree he was hiding by, and how Mizuki kept trying to move towards it only to be blocked by Iruka. That would explain why Iruka was losing so badly against someone Naruto had seen him beat in demonstrations before… Iruka was being forced to take hits to keep Mizuki away from the scroll! Wanting to know himself how Mizuki managed to steal a scroll guarded by the most powerful ninja in the village, Naruto refocused on the conversation/fight. He was just in time to hear the secret.
Mizuki grinned, obviously proud of the secret he was about to share. "It was easy! All anybody has to do to defeat our grand Hokage is… surprise him by using the henge no jutsu to turn into a naked woman! He fainted with a nosebleed right away!"
Iruka nearly face-faulted in incredulity, and Naruto did do so, so shocked were they to find out that the Sandaime Hokage, the Legendary Professor and God of Shinobi, had such a stupid weakness. In fact, it was only the sound dampening field projected by Dauntless Might that prevented the noise from his impact from being noticed.
A meaty thunk and Iruka crying out in pain brought Naruto instantly back to his feet. He grimaced at what he saw before him. Taking advantage of the sheer surprise that Iruka felt upon hearing of the Hokage's weakness, Iruka had thrown a pair of Kunai that were right on the mark; that mark being Iruka's kneecaps. The scarred chunin fell to his knees, stunned by the pain and unable to stand from the damage that he had incurred. Mizuki grinned menacingly.
"Such a foolish mistake, letting such a thing distract you," Mizuki gloated. "To think that the friend I wanted to surpass would be beaten just by learning that his idol is a perverted old fool! Now, I think it's a good time to test out the other acquisition I made in the Hokage's vault."
Mizuki reached into his belt pouch and withdrew a slip of sealing paper. Still grinning, he showed its face to Iruka. The Kanji for BIG was emblazoned upon it in blood. "I found these tags by accident while I was searching for the scroll, but I am very glad I did. These tags are elemental bombs created by our late Yondaime Hokage. When they are attached to a kunai and that kunai is thrown and hits something…" Mizuki trailed off suggestively.
"Well, let's just say that there won't be anything left to bury."
Iruka had been struggling to rise despite the pain from the kunai in his legs, but the hit had been too damaging. There was no way he was going to get up in time. Still, he kept struggling. He wasn't going to give up until the end.
Naruto watched all of this, watched one of the few men who had been kind to him, even if he had never met the true Naruto, as he was about to be killed. He watched as Mizuki gloated about the tag which the Yondaime had made. He watched as the treasure of the village he had grown up in was about to be stolen.
But more than anything, he watched a man who had been kind to him continue struggling in the face of death. As Mizuki drew back his arm and threw the deadly kunai, Naruto made a split second decision.
There was a flash that blinded both Iruka and Mizuki, and then the tagged kunai impacted on something and detonated. Fire raged for seven long seconds. Then the light died down, and Mizuki looked at the area of the clearing where Iruka had been prone. Smoke obscured it utterly. Patting the hip pouch that held the remaining BIG tags, he grinned before turning to collect the scroll. Then, as the smoke cleared a bit, he caught sight of a silhouette in the corner of his eye. Surprised, he turned towards it, now noticing the dark green glow emitting from the clearing smoke. Then, he heard a cultured, yet odd sounding baritone speak.
"Force Barrier, successful."
The smoke cleared the rest of the way, and Mizuki gasped at what he saw. Standing between him and a most certainly not dead Iruka was that damned fox brat, Uzumaki Naruto. He stood upright, with one arm raised towards Mizuki and his palm open in a warding gesture.
"You," Mizuki exclaimed in shock. "What are you doing here? No, wait; how the hell did you stop that explosion?""
Naruto couldn't help it. He smirked. "Why should I tell you," he asked mockingly. "It's not as if it would make a difference."
Mizuki scowled, before grinning once. This would be his chance to fuck with the brats mind, and then make good his escape. He knew he didn't have much time before the ANBU reached the clearing. The false trail he set leading to the other side of the village was sound, but an explosion like the one he had set off would make it obvious where he really was.
Grinning the same malicious grin he seemed to have become fond of, Mizuki began to speak to Naruto. "Hey, Uzumaki, would you like to know why the village hates you?"
Naruto, despite himself, did want to know. He couldn't fathom a good reason why he was so hated, and was very curious to know the truth of the matter. So, he nodded to the traitor, even ignoring the fact that Mizuki was edging towards the scroll.
Mizuki's grin widened. "You know that the Yondaime killed the Kyubi no Kitsune thirteen years ago? Well that is a lie! The beast couldn't be killed, so the Yondaime sealed it into a human baby. That baby is you, Uzumaki! YOU ARE THE KYUBI NO KITSUNE!"
Naruto's eyes widened in shock at that proclamation, which Mizuki took as a sign to continue pushing. "Yes, you are the fox! That's why everyone hates you. Even Iruka, the man you look up to so much despises your very existence!" With that tidbit, he made a break for the scroll, hoping to grab it and get away before the brat could delay him any further. Just before he would have reached it though, his legs stopped moving, looking down in shock, he saw a pair of green rings around his ankles, somehow holding him fast despite not being secured to anything. Before he knew what was happening, his wrists were bound too, and he was held in a spread eagle position a foot off the ground. Standing before him, was a visibly amused Naruto.
"Did you really think that I didn't know something was off about me?" Naruto asked mockingly. "I've been aware of something being sealed within me for some time now. I'll admit, I never would've thought it was a natural disaster given from like the Kyubi, but I'm still quite sure that it is separate from me."
"Still," Naruto continued, ignoring the increasingly frantic struggles of Mizuki, "you are right about the majority of the village hating me. That's why I was planning on leaving it tonight. It was just your bad luck that I happened to stumble upon your little crime. Yes, bad luck for you indeed. But still, this is actually rather convenient. I've just finished something, and I was looking for something to test it on. How nice of you to volunteer by trying to kill one of the few people I actually give a damn about in this village."
Naruto smiled meanly. "Watch closely Mizuki. You're about to see something that apparently hasn't been seen outside of my own observations for a long time." He grasped the emerald jewel that hung from his neck, and spoke to it. "Dauntless Might, sync up."
Mizuki's thoughts that the boy was insane were instantly dispelled when the jewel pulsed brightly and replied. "Yes, my Lord! Armor Form, Offensive Shift!"
A bright light flashed, blinding Mizuki (and the silent but still watching Iruka) for an instant. When the light faded, Naruto's outfit was radically different. Gone were the "kill me" orange cloths, replaced by a black bodysuit overlaid with a shining green armor. The armor covered his chest area entirely, while still appearing flexible, and bore a white pentagram in a circle across the chest. The legs were lightly armored, as was the left arm. Most prominent among the armor parts was the right arm, which was covered with a wicked looking gauntlet that was covered in runes. Imbedded in the gauntlet on the back of Naruto's hand was the same gem which he had been wearing around his neck, still pulsing with bright light.
Naruto grinned, feeling the power flowing through him. The armor form which he and Dauntless Might had figured out really felt good, and it was even better with the new upgrade installed. Shifting his stance, he raised his left hand in front of his body, towards Mizuki. On the ground below him, a green pentagram within a circle and several runes appeared, slowly rotating. Before his hand a green ball of energy coalesced, quickly growing to the size of a melon.
"I hope you enjoy this demonstration Mizuki," Naruto said, "it's the last thing I expect you'll be seeing for a while! Now! Force Spear Cannon!"
On the last syllable, Naruto brought his left arm down and punched the ball of energy with his gauntleted right hand. There was a single instant where nothing happened, before the ball expanded suddenly before turning into a beam of energy that quickly engulfed Mizuki, as well as the trees for a good distance behind him. When the beam died away after several seconds, it revealed Mizuki on the ground bleeding but still alive. Behind him was a hole in the forest where a number of trees had fallen due to losing a part of their trunks. Panting a bit from the expenditure of energy, Naruto smiled at his handy work and walked over to the unconscious Mizuki. Without preamble he kicked the traitor in the side, smirking at the groan of pain. "Next time you try and mess with me or something I care about, I'll let you experience the full blast like I did the trees."
Putting the traitor out of his mind, Naruto turned and walked over to the still stunned silent Mizuki, his Armor Form dissipating as he did so to reveal a pair of green pants and a black shirt with a green pentagram on it, Dauntless Might now resting in gem form around his neck. Reaching Iruka, Naruto kneeled down beside him and grabbed some bandages from a pouch on his leg. As he used them to bind Iruka's wounds so a professional could get to him before he bled out, he spoke.
"Yeah, sorry I never told you about all of this sensei," he said casually. "It's just, I never could figure out how to explain it to you without you freaking out… kind of like you appear to be doing now."
Iruka snapped out of his daze at that and regarded his student with amazed eyes. This was not the class clown that he had taught for the past three years at all. This was instead a powerful young man who seemed at the same time serious and casual. Opening his mouth for the first time since Naruto had saved his life; Iruka asked the first question that came to mind.
"Did you really mean it when you said you're leaving the village Naruto?"
Naruto quirked an eyebrow in response, and spoke as he set to bandaging the second knee. "Of all the things you could ask, you're asking me that first? Figures. Yes, I meant what I said Sensei. It's not like I have much of a future in Konoha if I'm not a ninja anyway."
Iruka frowned at that, before getting an idea. "Hey Naruto, close your eyes, would you? I have a gift for you to thank you for saving my life."
Naruto was bemused at the request, but decided to comply. He heard a rustling of cloth, and felt a sense of dawning horror as he felt something be tied around his head. Opening his eyes of his own accord, he beheld Iruka, who now had a bare forehead. Feeling at his own forehead with a hand, he felt the cold metal of Iruka's hitai-ite, confirming his fears.
"Congratulations Uzumaki Naruto! You graduate!" Iruka was totally oblivious of his pupil's horror, caught up as he was in the combination of trying to ignore the pain of his wounds and being happy to have found a way to keep Naruto from having to leave Konoha. When Naruto failed to make any happy sound, or sound of any kind for that matter, Iruka looked at him and noticed his expression. Before he could say anything, Naruto raised a hand, cutting him off.
"I'm going to turn around now, walk over there, and then take this thing off and throw it back to you. I am then going to leave, and you will never speak of this again, alright?" Naruto didn't bother waiting for an answer before getting up and turning around to walk away.
Standing in a silent group watching him were ten masked members of the ANBU black ops, all of whom had seemingly been there for some time. Naruto looked at them, then closed his eyes and began to shiver. Ignoring this, the lead ANBU spoke.
"Uzumaki Naruto, the Hokage would like to speak with you. Now."
Naruto continued to shiver for a few moments, and those watching him became either concerned or perplexed. Then, without warning, Naruto raised his head to the sky and called out.
Meanwhile, hidden beneath some debris and undetectable by even the ANBU, a small being watched as everything unfolded. It had expressionless ruby red eyes set over a polite smile, as well as two long floppy ears and a bushy tail. Giving that tail a swish, it turned and walked away.
A/N: So yeah, like I said, I'm back. I'll also say again, that you guys shouldn't get your hopes too high… I'm not sure if this is a new trend of writing for me, or just a random fluke. I would like it to be the former, but I can't tell yet. Regardless, I hope you all enjoyed this new chapter, and would love it if you review to tell me what you think or to tell me what you think the observer from the end of the chapter is. a cyber-cookie for the first one to figure it out!