The Virtue of Knowledge: Power Unrivaled
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. There, now will you lawyers PLEASE stop stalking me?
Note: If there are any grammar, spelling, or information mistakes, please tell me. I hate mistakes.
Swirls of particles...existence, swirled as the entity moved through the void between worlds, its 'eyes' (or what counted for its eyes) locked in a particular portal, one that opened into a room seemingly made more out of shadow than actual matter.
The entity grinned (or what passed for a grin for such a being) as it passed through the opening, its essence proclaiming itself in a pulse of what could only be described as supremacy, with enough strength behind it to force an entire pantheon of gods to grovel at its feet. The sole occupant of the room before it, a man sitting silently on a chair, didn't even twitch.
The man wore an expensive suit, probably worth more than a hundred middle-class men will earn in a lifetime, with an L-shaped cane made entirely out of a dull-gray material on his lap.
Though his upper body was concealed by shadows, the man seemed to become annoyed, annoyed at the omnipotent being before him who could destroy creation itself at will.
"I know why you're here, and your idea is crazy. Very crazy." The voice was cultured, its tone light, but guarded, the emotions of the speaker unidentifiable.
The entity seemed to grin once again. "Are any of my ideas anything but?" Its 'voice' echoed in the small room, unnatural and inhuman.
The man seemed to nod his assent. "Most of them are, though our creation is something between utter madness, and absolute brilliance." His hand went to the cane, gently stroking its thick handle as he spoke, fingers brushing against intricate and unidentifiable carvings. "But this time, you may have gone too far. You seek to give to a newborn babe the most coveted power in all existence. There is a big difference between that and kicking Crimson into a warworld."
The entity shrugged, an act that seemed impossible for a formless being, but something it somehow did. "As interesting as your cousin is, even he gets boring after the twelve billionth time, and I have never tried experimenting with your kin before."
Red appeared in the darkness, rising as the man-nay, boy; for he seemed barely out of his teens, stood, walking into the sparse lighting.
His face was pale, very pale, with features that betrayed no nationality and could only be described as human,but strikingly handsome, with medium-length hair that hung just over his eyes.
They were red, twin orbs of red that gleamed with knowledge and a certainty in that knowledge that was simply unnatural. Up to now, he had had his eyes closed. His cane clacked on the floor as he spoke. "And with good reason. My line is above all others because of that power. Giving it to an untested child is a disaster waiting to happen, a disaster, I may add, that may very well affect you too!"
Another shrug. "I know. That's why I'm only giving him a watered-down version of your gift. Though..." The entity seemed to smirk. "I'm sure you already knew that."
The male sighed, sitting back down. "Yes. Yes I did. Still, such power in the hands of a child, and one that isn't, and won't be, made to handle such, even if you will limit it only to his realities." He frowned. "Speaking of realities, are you sure your choice is wise? His life as an ignored pariah is bad enough, but you chose a universe where every day he is but a few steps from death's door. Unless he manages to change the timeline with your blessing, he will not be much different from what he was fated to be if you hadn't interfered."
The entity laughed, moving wildly around the room, its form shifting like the wind as it did so. "That is the point of it all! Your family's power is considered the greatest among all, and what better way to test its greatness by giving it an impossible test? The child will be given power beyond all, and he must survive-nay, THRIVE in a hostile world that seeks to destroy him!" The being slowed, the stormy movement abating, though its grin remained. "A world, I may add, that is so much more than most of its usual incarnations."
The cane tapped the floor as the man frowned. "What do you me-" His eyes widened, and he blinked several times before he regained his composure. He shook his head in disbelief. "The boy's world is a sleeping dragon, and you seek to awake it as you give him the power."
The entity's eyes glowed in approval. "Exactly!"
The boy sighed as everything clicked into place, before he stared at the entity once more, red eyes narrowing into slits. "While all that makes sense, you appearing to me however, does not. Why would the most powerful being of all want to tell lowly me his plan, unless...I myself am a part of said plan."
The glow got brighter as it nodded.
Sighing, the male flipped the cane, holding the other end and letting the entity grasp the handle. Its formless mass spread, touching his fingertips and enveloping his entire hand, before slowly receding completely, from both of them.
It studied the 'hand' that it had used on the boy, grinning at it, giving a lopsided solute to the male before disappearing into the deep recesses of a void portal.
Alone once more, the boy sighed heavily in what almost seemed to be pity. He looked up, though only shadows were visible. "Naruto Uzumaki Namikaze...you have your work cut out for you kid, a lot of work..."
The Sandaime sighed as the ANBU reported the unrest in the village after the public proclamation of the Kyuubi being sealed inside Naruto.
It was a stupid decision, one he had started regretting nearly right after he said it, for the villagers had immediately erupted into a mob when they heard the news, screaming for his death. Not even the clear sight of armed ninjas could stop them as a few actually rushed to the child with knives in an attempt to stab it to death.
When they finished, he dismissed them, noticing the subtle glances of hatred they sent the boy on the crib along the way. It seems even the ninjas loathed him. "What am I to do with you boy?" He said to himself as he stared at the sleeping boy.
The world shook, the ground quaking from an unknown force, and Hiruzen nearly fell to the ground.
He surely did though, when shockwaves of a force that could only be described as other rumbled across the entire land, and disaster struck as landslides occurred, tsunamis started forming, volcanoes erupted, and other calamities were created from the sudden shockwave.
Immediately, when the shaking and shockwaves stopped, the Hokage ran outside, undressing into his shinobi clothes and rushing to the gathered shinobi.
The entity from before rose out of the ground. 'Smiling', it moved to the baby, leaning above it, tilting its head several times in curiosity before tapping the child on the head. Something sunk into the forehead of the baby, but Naruto seemed unaffected by this. The smile widened.
It snapped its fingers (despite not having a hand), causing an L-shaped cane exactly like the one it had grasped earlier to appear. A gesture from it sent it shooting outside, passing through anyone and anything until it reached a designated location.
The baby frowned, then suddenly flinched, before going still. The being blinked, before shaking off its worry when it studied the baby once more. It could only imagine what was happening inside the mind of the child with the power it had given it.
Laughing, it sunk into the ground, reveling in the knowledge of the awakened beings that he knew would be blinking the sleep out of their eyes right now, likely to cause more than an undue amount of damage on the world as the shinobi knew it. "Well, my part is over. Let's see what you're going to do now Naruto..." Those were its last words as it disappeared completely, which disappeared without a trace, and all was peaceful in the office.
In the mind of Naruto, however, all was NOT peaceful.
The mind of baby, even a baby with a demon sealed inside him, was a blank slate, open to outside influence to be molded into what it will become in the future, so it wasn't the sewer that it was destined to become in the future.
And just as only the body of a baby could adapt to house a demon of Kyuubi's magnitude, so too, could only the mind of a baby adapt to contain the KNOWLEDGE of this magnitude that was being wired into his brain, for knowledge was the power that the entity had given him.
But it was more than just an encyclopedia of knowledge that was being put in him, more than a country's, more than a world's, more than a universe's. This was the knowledge of EVERYTHING concerning the universeS of Naruto (and more besides), and it was being put inside his brain.
Right now, Naruto knew so much he thought he was God, but he suddenly knew he was not. He knew every language that had ever been used in the Multiverse of Naruto, he knew who his father was, who his mother was, that Kyuubi was sealed inside of him, that Madara had caused the attack that had killed his father and caused the sealing.
He knew of Orochimaru, and how he would defect. He knew of Nagato, who, even now, was training his powers for the time he would kill Hanzo of the Salamander in revenge for Yahiko's death.
Heck, he even knew every movement they would make in the fight.
This was not normal for a child, he knew, for he knew too, the thoughts of every child ever born in the Multiverse of Naruto, and it was little more than the instinct to scream whenever it didn't have all it wanted.
He knew so much, answers appearing to so many questions that a scientist might make, and many more of philosophers. So many that it hurt.
Then, his mind adapted, and the universe-wide river of knowledge that was forcing itself into his mind ceased its pressure. If he was to describe what had happened, he would say that the river of information had been turned into a lake, a lake that was connected to his mind by a controlled valve.
All that knowledge remained at his reach, and all he had to do was reach out for it (and because of the 'valve', the pressure could be controlled).
He wondered about the question of life, of why and how was he given this power, but the answers were surprisingly not there.
Nor did he know what he was destined or supposed to be doing in this life, despite having the knowledge on his many, many, MANY other alternate universe selves.
And so he wondered what to do with this knowledge, until he started applying it, learning about HIS universe, and searching the close past for what had happened, for he surmised that this knowledge must have been given/received by him barely an hour before.
What he saw surprised him. The shockwave that had terrified the shinobi of the land was not made to destroy, but to awaken.
He saw great dragons stretching in their massive caverns, creatures of the night screeching, howling, growling, their awakening, monsters of the depths once again stalking the seven seas, hastily replacing predators that had thought themselves supreme, ancient races rising from their slumber and thriving once more.
His world, it seemed, had had much of its inhabitants sleeping. The ninjas and their people barely scratched the surface.
He also saw the entity that had given him the power, and when he thought to know what its thoughts were, he received instead a shock to his head, and he saw it smile mischievously at him, wagging a finger at him like he was an impertinent child. He scowled mentally. He was a child, but he wasn't impertinent.
Through his vast knowledge though, he made an accurate guess of what he knew.
He knew EVERYTHING (or at least, he had the capability to know everything) there was to know about the Multiverse of Naruto, from the very steps a man will take, to the future up to the end of each world (if it had one). Therefore, the entity that gave him this knowledge was not of this world. Literally.
Knowing that the answer to its identity was inaccessible to him, he gave up on that, instead focusing on himself now.
He knew of his future if he DIDN'T have all this knowledge, and it was a bleak one. This universe had a more savage people of Konoha than others, and the child that he was to grow up into was a mentally scarred boy who could trust no one but himself.
He made a small thought, a random wondering about what would happen if he used his newfound knowledge to his advantage to avoid the betrayals, attacks, and wrong actions that would one way or another, cause a traumatic experience.
He blinked when the question was answered, and he smiled at the implications: he didn't know what he should do, but he knew what WOULD happen if he did something different, therefore, through mental trial and error, he could find the perfect choice to take.
He laughed then, for this was a grand solution to a life fraught with peril, who faced treachery at every turn, and whose few friends were destined to die horribly from vindication. Despite this however, he was reluctant to make use of it, for everything had a price, and what kind of price must it be for the power to know pretty much everything?
You are really are an idiot aren't you? Oh very well, I'll give you a freebie, just this once.
He blinked as the answer came to him: Nothing. Whoever had given him this knowledge had given it to him with no strings attached, and the only thing he had to worry about (that was related to the gift of knowledge) was powerful beings of the Narutoverse intent on taking his knowledge for their own.
That is, if they even knew about it in the first place.
He smiled. Life was looking good.
[Twelve Years Later]
If you were to ask a citizen of Konoha about Naruto Uzumaki, your answer would typically be: 'Fishcake? Who the hell is that?' It was a far cry from the typical responses in other universes, where it was nigh-always answered with extravagance of either good or (most of the time) malevolent emotions.
THIS Naruto, wise to the true nature of the villagers, and privy to their thoughts, had avoided every confrontation, every attack, and every carefully-planned betrayal. Due to this lack of contact, pretty much none of the villagers knew him (sure, they knew the stories about him, but they didn't even know what he looked like), and the ninjas that hated him and would normally spread the word of his location to everyone couldn't spread the word if there was no word to spread. With Naruto knowing their every plan and thought, they could not catch him.
Even more, the shinobis' constant reference of him as 'the demon, the demon brat/child, the Kyuubi brat/child' and lack of name made those the actual form of identification of the people.
Naruto laughed at them from the safety of his home. It was utterly stupid. They expected him to come out looking like the wild stories that people had spread about him, and to actually say that he was *choose preferred reference* to their face. And so, it was with great pleasure that Naruto finally walked in the open, after so many years of carefully hiding, biding his time.
Although his whisker marks were covered by makeup, he stood out, and it didn't take long for people to notice him, for he wore an expensive suit (hand-woven), and he grasped tightly in his hand the handle of the cane that the entity had left for him inside the left nostril of the Yondaime's face.
Despite this, Naruto, for the first time, walked around Konoha without needing to move through the dark alleyways for cover.
Looking around him, seeing the happy and peaceful expressions on the villagers, Naruto almost believed they were a kind people. A quick question to himself made him remember the malice that was locked inside their hearts, eager to leap out and torture an innocent child.
Glancing at a group of staring villagers, he smiled at them and nodded his head. They blushed in embarrassment and moved on. He chuckled, and it didn't take long before people stopped staring. After all, stranger ninja came here everyday.
His cane tapping the ground as he walked, the five-foot tall blond (for he was not malnourished this time) arrived at the academy, eyes carefully studying the graduates.
Cerulean eyes narrowed as he saw Mizuki, the traitorous chuunin, convince an idiot failure of the 'test'.
He scoffed, turning around and heading for the location where he knew Mizuki would stop to catch his breath after killing the dolt.
Mizuki panted as he stopped to catch his breath. He scowled. Stupid idiot! He couldn't even steal the Forbidden Scroll right! He just HAD to have the ANBU tailing him, didn't he?
A voice spoke up suddenly. "You know, considering how important the scroll is, I think YOU are the idiot, thinking an academy failure can steal such an important object from under the nose of an ANBU squad." The voice chuckled. "Then again, if it were me, I'd put at least four teams on guard, not one. So I guess you're all idiots."
The chuunin turned towards the source of the voice, frowning as he studied the blue-eyed blonde with the cane and weird clothes.
It was the blonde's turn to frown. "My clothes aren't weird. You just lack fashion sense."
Mizuki stared at him. What? Did he just read his mind?
The blonde's lips curved into a smile. "Yes."
The traitor turned, intending to run, but instead he fell, the scroll of sealing falling off his back to thump against a nearby tree. It took him a second to discover that he hadn't tripped, that his legs had been severed at the thighs. It took another second for the pain to kick in.
Naruto frowned as he approached the legless chuunin. He raised his left hand, which clutched the actual handle of the cane, a section of the other end in his right, which turned out to house a straight blade, one which dripped blood.
With a thought, the sheathe of the blade fired, making mush of Mizuki's groin area. Naruto smirked sadistically as the screams increased. "I would love to do more to you, but time runs short." He muttered, cutting off the arms of the flailing traitor, then flipped him over.
His right arm moved with lightning speed and surgical precision, cutting open the body right down the middle, exposing the still beating heart. He stabbed the blade in just the right way that it had enough leverage to be lifted from the open chest, and in his last moments Mizuki saw his very own heart spin in the air, before exploding in a mist of blood.
Iruka stared at the corpse of his traitorous friend, fighting the urge to puke at the body impaled on a tree trunk by kunai, chest cut open, exposing his insides to the world. His intestines dangled from the wound, smelling especially putrid in the fresh night air, and Iruka could smell the waste as his body released its bowels in death.
He glanced up, and lost the battle, puking his dinner into the ground.
Mizuki's arms and legs had been carved into small pieces, small pieces stuck to the tree to form the words: 'Traitor'.
An ANBU spoke from behind him, apparently in a conversation. "The medics say those bits over there are pieces of his heart."
"Well that explains why he didn't have one."
Iruka threw up once more.
Naruto sat down on a stool, taking a plate from the counter and placing the cooking meat from the grill on the plate.
The chef glared at him. "Put that back. Those aren't yours."
He chuckled. "Let me guess, they're someone's who takes them without you knowing but leaves the proper amount of payment, along with a generous tip every other day at around this time. The next day he would leave the plate he used last time along with the payment, and it goes on and on and on..."
The chef blinked, before realization dawned. He smiled. "Ahh."
Naruto nodded, before focusing once more on the food. That was his main way of acquiring food. With his knowledge, he knew at what time people wouldn't be looking, and he would take what he wanted and leave a payment. The villagers didn't ask questions so long as they got paid.
Finishing, he left the payment and the tip that he left there everyday, moving to the exit.
No one saw him walk out.
A swirl of wind, a scattering of leaves. A cane tapping against the wood of the floor. Then a voice.
Sarutobi Hiruzen looked up, his gruff expression (born of hours of paperwork) changing into a smile as he looked upon Naruto.
The blond smiled, holding his arms out wide, and the two embraced.
Once greetings were over, they both sat down, and the Sandaime pushed the paperwork to the edges of the desk. They could wait.
The Jinchuuriki's gaze wandered around the room. "I don't know what to say. Everything looks the same as last time." He glanced at the stacks of paperwork. "Except maybe the paperwork."
The aged ninja glared at said paperwork. "Tell me about it. They seem to multiply every time I look another way."
Naruto picked up a random stack, skimming through the contents. He frowned. "Annoying. Almost half of these are from those senile fools. Approving them would just give them more power. Therefore, you cannot entrust it to anyone else but yourself, for even though singularly, they have little effect, a few thousand of these over the years would take a serious chunk out of your authority. However, dealing with all this takes up a big part of your time." He put the stack back on the desk. "You're in quite a bind."
The Hokage sighed. "If only there was a solution to this problem."
"Indeed there is. Tell me, why have you never thought of using Kage Bunshin (Shadow Clone)? While normal clones wouldn't have the mind to figure out which ones to approve, a Kage Bunshin does."
The Hokage stared, before rapidly creating three clones and ordering them to do the paperwork, much to the chagrin of the clones. However, they obeyed, and the Sarutobi danced around the office in glee.
"Times are changing."
He stopped, staring at Naruto's stern expression.
"The events that have been set into motion on the day of my birth are about to come into fruition." Naruto closed his eyes, his expression wistful, as if remembering a past memory. A moment later, it shifted into a steely gaze. "The shadow of war approaches Konoha and its inhabitants, but that will not compare to the revelations that will sprout later on. You have to get ready old man. To be plain, you're out of practice, and that will prove fatal in the coming years."
The aged ninja frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Do you remember the ninja that returned from a training session in the Forest of Death saying that his team had been killed by a demon?"
The Sandaime sat on a chair. "Yes. I sent an ANBU squad, but they couldn't find any proof at all."
"The guy wasn't lying."
Eyes widened, and Naruto noted the muffled chokes of the ANBU. "It really was a demon. Well, fiend. Chlorofiend if you want to be specific." Noting his confused expression, he clarified. "Plant Monster. Any damage to the surroundings can quickly be covered up by the damn thing, and since it looks so ancient, any damage you see would seem to be from ages ago." He put a hand to his chin. "Hard to kill too. Especially in a forest. Water makes it stronger, swamping it in earth does nil; it'll just grow from the new land, and it would just piece itself back together if you cut it up. You have to burn the damn thing to ashes. Every last bit."
The Jinchuuriki waved down the Hokage's sudden decision to send an attack force to the forest. "Didn't you listen? It's impossible to kill in a forest. It'll lodge itself in the trees, so unless you're going to burn the entire place down, don't even bother. Not to mention the problem of finding fire strong enough to burn it in the first place. Besides, it won't be a problem. Chlorofiends just like their space. Sure, they hunt anything that's in their vicinity, but that's it. The real problem comes when the other demons start waking up and popping out of gateways."
Hiruzen didn't know what to say. There were MORE coming?
Naruto chuckled. "Don't worry about it. Like I said, it won't bother anything outside of its vicinity, so the Chuunin Exams will still work and no one will get hurt as long as they stay away from it. Worry about the immediate problem, not the future ones. Go get yourself back into shape, and get ready for a Kage-level battle in a few months' time." He smiled. "Well, I guess that's all I have to say." He rose, a shunshin already forming. "Tell Yakumo I said hi."
With that said, he disappeared, leaving a stressed-out Hokage wishing god would stop throwing all this shit at him, and would later decide to go to his private training grounds to blow off some steam on some innocent training dummies.
Wrinkled eyelids opened as something clacked against the wooden floor, and wearily, the old man sat up straight, brown eyes staring into Naruto Uzumaki's azure orbs.
"You're done." It was a statement.
The aged man's eyes narrowed. He licked his lips, before nodding. Somehow, the kid always knew when something was up or had happened. He had stopped questioning it after the thirtieth time. "Follow me."
They entered a room dimly lit by a hanging bulb. He pulled off the cloth covering the bulges on the table.
Even in the dim light, his creations shone luminously, like the full moon, and he couldn't help but smile.
"They're beautiful." The boy's words made the grin widen.
"Aye. They are. Beautiful as they are lethal, if the design you gave is any indication."
The blonde smiled at the white-haired elder. "Thanks, I couldn't have done it without your knowledge on forging the metal."
"Bah. I have a feeling you know EXACTLY how to shape the alloy."
The Jinchuuriki chuckled, eyes twinkling. "There is a difference between someone who knows every single detail by the book and someone with fifty years of experience."
The old man shrugged, leaning on the wall. "Either way, that's the last I'm ever going to make. Take good care of them."
Naruto nodded, taking the objects and turning away.
"Don't kill Zabuza if you have to. He's a good kid, just had to be a bloodthirsty one."
Another nod, before he walked away. "I know."
With that, Naruto faded away, and the old man, the creator of the majority of the blades of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist, smiled in resignation, knowing that he had left his mark on the world.