Sudden Changes in Weather
Training Ground #44 a.k.a. "The Forest of Death"
Naruto panted in exhaustion. He stood with his arms and legs spread apart, braced against the thick tree branch he stood on, blocking Orochimaru's giant snake summon from devouring his teammates: Sasuke and Sakura. His whisker marks were thicker and darker, his canines and fingernails longer and feral sharp—signs of the Nine-Tailed Fox's influence.
"Is that it? That's all the great Orochimaru's got?" taunted Naruto as he fought to keep the snake at bay. "A bunch of cheap tricks and overgrown snakes?"
"Why you little pest!" seethed Orochimaru. "How dare you insult the greatest of the Sannin? I'll have your skin for a rug on my floor! Eat him and keep his bones for a toothpick!"
"You'll have to do a lot better than this guy then," Naruto smirked as he spun around and stabbed the giant snake in the eye with a kunai. The snake let out a cry of pain before returning to the Summon World in a cloud of smoke.
Weakling serpent, cursed Orochimaru. I ought to turn Manda into a wallet for recommending that overgrown hatchling.
Naruto panted from exhaustion. Being blown through the forest, using the Nine Tails' chakra, and holding that huge snake back had taken a lot out of him. But he kept a smile on his face and pointed his kunai at Orochimaru. He took a quick glimpse at his two teammates; both Sasuke and Sakura were still frozen in fear and astonishment. Naruto turned his head slightly towards Sasuke and smiled.
"You're not hurt, are you scaredy-cat?"
Naruto's taunt cut through Sasuke deeper than any blade ever could and the teen snapped back to reality. Sasuke activated his Sharingan and leveled a glare at Orochimaru.
"Kukuku! Look who joined the party," Orochimaru laughed. "Those eyes…oh those eyes. Kukuku, I can't wait to try them myself."
"What do you mean? You're not an Uchiha. The Uchiha are the elite of all Shinobi. You're just a wretched old pretender," Sasuke sneered in his usual arrogance.
"Foolish boy. You really have no idea what horrors you stand against," Orochimaru sneered.
"Bring it on!" Naruto shouted and stepped in front of Sasuke. Red chakra leaked off Naruto's body, slowing beginning to assume a vague shape around his body like a cloak. "I'll take on you and all your slimy pets, believe it!"
"Snakes aren't slimy," Orochimaru bristled and sank into the tree trunk. Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura searched the trees for him, but there was no trace of the traitorous Sannin.
"I guess he took off," Naruto smirked. He spun his kunai around his finger before returning it to his pouch. "I can't believe that guy had you and Sakura shaking in your sandals, Sasuke."
"Shut up Naruto! Sasuke-kun was about to destroy Orochimaru when you had to go and show off with that stupid little snake!" screamed Sakura, the insult to her precious Sasuke snapping her out of her frightened daze.
"What do you mean little? That thing was huge!" Naruto protested. While the two continued to bicker, Sasuke leaned against the tree truck and pressed a bandage on the small, self-inflicted wound on his leg.
I can't believe I froze like that…his power…it was much worse than Zabuza's. Why did I freeze and Naruto didn't when he was terrified by Zabuza? It must have been that red chakra that was leaking off of Naruto…I need that power!
Sasuke stepped away from the tree trunk and was about to grab a hold of Naruto when a sinister laughter cut through the air. The three Genin spun around in circles, but couldn't see anything. The laughter stopped and a soft twinkling of musical notes replaced it.
"Three pairs of eyes and not a single pair that can see a thing," Orochimaru said calmly as he appeared in front of Naruto with one hand behind his back. He leaned down and whispered directly into Naruto's ear. "But I can see. Kukuku, I see what you are: jinchūriki!"
Naruto froze in shock and terror. How does could he know about the fox? Inside its cage, the Nine-tailed Fox growled and tried to force more chakra through the seal and into Naruto. Naruto's body shook with the sudden flux of power and red chakra poured off his body, forming a pair of long ears over Naruto's head and the beginnings of a bushy tail.
"Now there will be none of that," Orochimaru smirked and the fingertips of his hidden hand burst into purple flame. "Five Element Seal!"
Orochimaru plunged his burning hand into Naruto's stomach! The blow tore through Naruto's insides, cutting off the Nine-Tail's chakra and disrupting his own chakra's flow. The red chakra vanished into the air and Naruto's features quickly returned to normal as he sank to his knees in front of Orochimaru.
"Pathetic street urchin, I'll teach you to insult your betters!" Orochimaru snarled and kicked Naruto across the chest with all his strength. Naruto shot through the air in an orange-colored blur and smashed into another tree with a bone-crunching thud. He hung there for a second, the force of the impact in perfect equilibrium against gravity, before he began to fall forward into empty space and then the forest floor hundreds of feet below.
"Naruto!" Sasuke shouted and hurled a kunai at his teammate. The kunai barely missed Naruto's shoulder and pinned his jumpsuit to the tree, preventing him from falling to his doom.
"You shouldn't turn your back on your opponent, Sasuke-kun," hissed Orochimaru. In a burst of speed, the snake Sannin unnaturally extended his neck at Sasuke. The neck snaked around Sasuke's body, pinning his arms to his sides, and Orochimaru sank his fangs deep into Sasuke's neck.
Sasuke screamed in pain as Orochimaru's venom spread like fire through his body and then collected back at the bite marks. A trio of black tomoe-shaped marks, eerily similar to Sasuke's Sharingan, appeared just above the bite marks on the back of Sasuke's neck.
"Kukukuku. I've given you a little gift, Sasuke-kun," Orochimaru hissed sweetly into Sasuke's ear. "Use its power and become stronger than your brother ever dreamed on being. This is but the beginning of what I could teach you. Seek me out and I shall bestow even more power onto you than you could imagine. At least, if you survive this."
Orochimaru unwound his neck from Sasuke's body and retracted it to its normal length and shape. "Remember what I said, Sasuke-kun. Survive and seek me out," the Sannin said before crumbling into dust.
"A mud clone!" exclaimed Sakura as she rushed to Sasuke's aid. She caught the boy just before he collapsed and held him in her lap. She looked around, but didn't see a single trace of Orochimaru. "Good riddance," she muttered and returned her attention to Sasuke. She placed a hand on Sasuke's brow and pulled away quickly.
"Gods, you're burning up," Sakura muttered and shifted the boy slightly—doing her best to resist groping her crush and failing in the process—and reached into her pack for her water rations. She opened the canteen and carefully poured a small mouthful into Sasuke's mouth. The boy swallowed the liquid and shuddered in pain.
"I need to get you outta here," Sakura grunted as she struggled to pick up Sasuke's dead weight. She finally managed to hoist Sasuke onto her shoulders in a fireman's carry and, when she stood up to collect her pack, suddenly remembered Naruto. She looked up and saw him hanging from the tree, not moving and unconscious.
I can't leave Naruto here all alone. If one of the other teams doesn't get him, one of the animals in this damn forest will. But I can barely carry Sasuke-kun; there's no way I can carry them both at the same time!
While Sakura wrestled with the moral conundrum, a sharp rip tore through the treetops. Sakura's eyes grew wide as Naruto's jumpsuit ripped beneath the kunai holding him against the tree. She held her breath, hoping that the first rip would be it, that the cloth would hold and Naruto would stay right there until she could get Sasuke somewhere safe and come back for him.
The second rip erased the idea from her mind. Naruto's body slumped and swayed against the tree trunk, every movement making the rip larger. Desperate, Sakura reached into her kunai pack and hurled a kunai at Naruto's sleeve, hoping to pin him back in place. But Sasuke's weight ruined her aim and the kunai buried itself in Naruto's shoulder, piercing flesh as well as cloth. Sakura winced at the sight and would have covered her face in shame if Sasuke hadn't let out a painful moan and shuddered violently. It took all of Sakura's feeble strength to keep him on her shoulders.
"Ss-aku-ra…" Sasuke whispered between painful breaths. Sakura blushed deeply, her inner self swelled with pride.
Cha! Sasuke-kun needs me; he's calling out to me while he's hurt. When he needs help the most, he's calling out for me! This is it…once I nurse him back to health, he'll take me into his arms and…
Another loud rip brought Sakura off cloud nine as the thread holding Naruto in place gave way. He fell off the tree and plummeted toward the forest floor.
"Naruto!" Sakura cried out and ran to the edge of the branch she stood on, but didn't go after him.
I have to take care of Sasuke-kun, she thought. There's nothing I can do for Naruto anymore. Sasuke-kun needs me!
That's right. There was nothing anyone could have done. But Sasuke-kun still has a chance. He's fighting for his life, fighting for love. He needs you to help him while there's still time.
Cha! Once Sasuke-kun is better, you both can come back and find Naruto's body. You can give him a proper burial, that's what teammates do, right? And afterwards you can console Sasuke-kun and help revive his clan.
Sakura blushed and giggled before she shifted Sasuke on her shoulders so her hands were freer to "roam" along his body while she carried him. She cast one last look in the direction Naruto fell before hurrying off to find a place to nurse Sasuke back to health.
Hitting the first tree knocked Naruto back into consciousness and into a world of pain. He crashed through the forest canopy, smashing through branches and careening off tree trunks. Naruto felt his ribs snap as he folded across a think branch, felt his arm tear against the rough bark of another tree, and finally, after falling for hundreds of feet, plunged headfirst into a deep, circular shaped lake.
The calm surface of the water felt like a cement wall to Naruto. The impact blew all the air out of Naruto's lungs. Naruto choked on icy water and he struggled to reach the surface. His head broke the surface and Naruto coughed on the fresh air. Looking down at his bleeding shoulder, Naruto grit his teeth and ripped out the kunai. He looked at the kunai for a second, gave a confused frown the "S.H." initials inscribed on the handle, and tossed it away before treading water. His broken limbs barely able to keep him afloat, Naruto drifted for only a moment before he tired and slipped back beneath the water.
Naruto struggled to move his wrecked body, but his efforts did little to slow his descent. Naruto tried to concentrate, tried to focus his chakra to his limbs, but only received blistering pain in his stomach for his efforts. Darkness flirted with the edges of his vision as he sank deeper and deeper.
Naruto reached the bottom of the lake and nearly screamed in pain when his arm landed on something incredibly hard. Pain lanced down Naruto's hand and he looked for the offending object, momentarily forgetting about the danger of drowning. Dirt and mud, kicked up by his rough arrival at the lake bottom, settled and Naruto saw a massive hammer lying on the bottom. A wooden handle, wrapped in brown leather with a leather thong at the end, pointed straight up into the water. The hammer itself was a thick rectangle of gray metal that shined despite the lack of sunlight at the lake bottom.
Reach out, a voice whispered.
Naruto shook his head. The lack of oxygen was making him lightheaded. He tried to kick off the bottom, but only drifted a few feet upward before sinking back to the bottom.
Reach out. Prove your worth.
High above the lake, storm clouds appeared in the sky. Thunder rumbled and streaks of lightning danced between the clouds.
Naruto's vision blurred as his limbs gave up their struggle. He sank to the bottom, chest and belly first, his arms and legs spread lazily at his sides.
Reach out. Reach out. Reach out.
Naruto looked closer at the hammer. Words shimmered into existence on the side of the hammer, but Naruto was unable to decipher to upside down words. His vision darkened.
Naruto, using his last bit of strength, reached forward and grabbed onto the hammer's handle. The exertion of that simple task caused Naruto's lungs to finally give out and he took in a deep breath of water.
It's so quiet down here, Naruto thought, his brain beginning to shut down from the lack of air. So calm…no one's fighting down here, no one's chasing me or throwing things at me. Guess it's not the worst place to end up. A sad smile pulled at the corners of Naruto's lips.
I'm sorry Old Man; I won't be taking that Hokage hat from you after all. I'm sorry Sasuke, Sakura-chan; I tried my hardest. You'll have to become great ninja without…
Naruto's eyes closed for the last time as he drowned. His body convulsed and Naruto unknowingly moved the hammer before his body went completely slack.
He never saw the massive lightning bolt crash into the lake.
Naruto awoke facedown in water. Panicking, he jerked his head up and took a deep breath of foul smelling air. He was sitting on his hands and knees; the water surrounding him was only a few inches deep. Naruto coughed and looked around. He was in a dank and filthy sewer, a narrow and circular tunnel, the water came from many of the rusted out pipes bolted to the walls.
Naruto got to his feet easily; all the injuries and pains from Orochimaru's attacks and his plummet through the forest were gone. Naruto started walking forward, somehow pulled in that direction. The sounds of battle echoed through the sewer tunnel and Naruto walked faster. The sewer tunnel opened into a massive chamber and what filled it stopped Naruto in his tracks.
At one end of the chamber was an enormous cage with thick bars and a piece of paper sealing the doors shut. Purple fire danced across the bars of the cage, the effects of Orochimaru's seal. And inside the cage, the Nine-Tailed Fox raged in all its demonic glory. It smashed its body against the cage, ignoring the purple fires that burned its fur, clawed and bit at the bars, and launched its tails like bushy whips through the gaps in the bars.
Naruto was so awestruck by the size and ferocity of the tailed beast that he didn't notice what the Fox was fighting until he heard a voice ring out: "Wretched beast! Thou are no true demon!"
Naruto turned and saw a man stand strong against the Nine-Tails' rage. Naruto had never seen a man so large. The stranger was well over six feet tall and covered in thick slabs of muscle from head to toe. And he was the strangest dressed man Naruto had ever seen. He wore a black tunic with six metal circles trailing down his chest and abs, a golden belt with strange looking runes on it, dark blue pants, and golden boots that came up to his knees. A thick red cape covered his back and, atop his blonde head, he wore a silver helm with large wings on either side.
The man was wielding the massive hammer Naruto had found at the bottom of the lake, swinging it to block the Fox's tails as if it weighed nothing at all. The man looked over his shoulder and smile down at Naruto.
"I shall be with thee in but a moment," he said in a firm, but warm voice. "First, I shall tame this unruly and overcompensating beast."
The stranger batted away another of the Fox's tails and lifted the hammer over his head. A bolt of lightning appeared out of nowhere and struck the hammer. Naruto stared in amazement as the stranger stood tall, totally unaffected by the shock of lightning, and whirled the glowing hammer over his head.
"For Asgard!" the stranger roared and hurled the hammer at the cage. The hammer passed between the bars and, with a crack of thunder that shook the entire chamber, hit the Fox between the eyes. The Fox let out a high pitched cry and collapsed onto the ground, its tails strewn out haphazardly in all directions.
Naruto's mouth hung open comically as the stranger held out his hand and the hammer lifted into the air and flew back to the stranger on its own. The stranger placed the hammer on his belt and rolled the kinks out of his shoulders, a bright smile on his face.
"Tis been too long since I did battle, even one as short as this is refreshing," the stranger said and he looked down at Naruto. "So you are the one that found my hammer. Apologies, I assumed you would be larger."
It took Naruto a few more seconds to find his voice. "Who…what…huh?"
The stranger laughed; it was a hearty laugh that started deep within his belly and sprang out happily. "Such was the reaction of the last mortals to see my power for the first time, but that was long, long ago. What is your name, little one?"
"Such a strange name," mused the stranger. "But it matters little. I am Thor Odinson, son of Odin and Gaea, God of Thunder and Lord of Asgard."
"Um, ok, Mr. Odinson, where are we?" asked Naruto politely.
"We are in your mind, Naruto. What doth you remember before you arrival in this dismal place?"
"We were fighting that Orochimaru pervert when he hit me in the stomach with some purple fire jutsu and then kicked me into a tree. Next thing I know I'm bouncing off tree branches and tree trucks and then fell into a lake with one of Sakura's kunai in my shoulder. After that…I drowned, didn't I?"
"Nay, you didn't drown," Thor shook his head. "You started to, but when you moved Mjolnir, you summoned the power of the storm and I came hence to this place."
"If this is my mind, how are you in here? Just what is going on here? And what the hell is a Mjolnir?"
"We are in your mind because my spirit is forever bound to Mjolnir and when you moved it, I was awakened. This is Mjolnir," Thor said and raised the hammer to show Naruto. Naruto squinted as the words he first noticed on the hammer back at the bottom of the lake.
"Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of…Thor," Naruto read. "Heh, so that's what that says."
"Indeed. None may wield Mjolnir save those deemed worthy. Only one individual in all the history of the universe has had the strength to hoist Mjolnir from the ground without being worthy, and," Thor chuckled, "you are no Hulk."
"What's a Hulk?"
"An old friend and occasional enemy, but that is a different story. As to your last inquiry, it is a long story, young Naruto, but it is a tale of heroes, worthy of Valhalla," Thor said. "Long, long ago, this world was very different. It was called Midgard and was one of the nine worlds. Odin, the All-Father, ruled over Asgard, world of the gods and I was the strongest warrior amongst them. But I grew too proud and Odin banished me here, to Midgard, so that I may learn temperance and humility. For ten years I lived as a crippled doctor until my father, Odin, restored my godly powers. I remained on Midgard and while here, I fell in love with a beautiful woman named Jane Foster and joined a team of men calling themselves heroes. We became known as The Avengers and were the rock and shield that defended humanity. And for many years, things were good. We battled the forces of evil at all turns and, verily, we saved the world countless times. But when the All-Father fell in battle, I was called home and became the new ruler of Asgard. I inherited my father's Odinforce and grew much more powerful. My reign, however, grew short with the approach of Ragnarok."
"Rag rock?" Naruto repeated.
"Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods," Thor explained. "The end of our world, where the enemies of Asgard would unite and all of Asgard would be consumed by fire and darkness. I confronted the Norns and discovered the true meaning of Ragnarok."
"The Fates, the weavers of destiny. Ragnarok was a cycle of destruction and rebirth, never granting the Asgardians rest, only pain and death eternal. Only Odin, through the Odinforce, knew of the cycle, but he was powerless to stop it. Alongside my brethren, we defeated the foes of Asgard, but suffered great losses. In the end, I was the only one remaining. All my friends and family had fallen and descended into Hel. Alone and unwilling to see my brethren suffer through more horrors and bloodshed; I broke the Ragnarok cycle, defied the Norns, ended the destruction of Asgard, and granted my family their rest."
"What happened to you?" Naruto asked.
"Breaking the cycle exhausted my godly powers and the wounds I endured throughout Ragnarok had taken their toll on me. However, I suppose I wished to rest more than anything, to see my family again. With my remaining strength, I hurled Mjolnir through the fade between the worlds, across the remains of the Bifrost Bridge, and back to Midgard where I hoped its power may aid my comrades."
"How long ago was that?"
"Many hundreds of your years," Thor answered sadly. "Mjolnir sat and gathered dust. Thousands, nay perhaps millions of souls attempted the feat, but none were deemed worthy to wield Mjolnir. Mjolnir waited, until you arrived this day."
"None of your friends could pick it up?"
"Nay. There was one man that had proven his worth in the past, but, sadly, he had been slain shortly after I departed existence."
"Sorry about your friend."
"Nay, there is no need; he was a great warrior and the halls of Valhalla are brighter with his admittance. And from what I've seen in your memories, Steve would have liked you as well. Alas, I grow sidetracked. Since thee have proven thyself worthy to Mjolnir, you shall become the new Thor!"
"Nay, ye can never be me, nor as I could never be you, little Naruto. You will always be Naruto, only with an Asgardian addition. The godly essence that binds me to Mjolnir shall pass unto you. You will become half-Asgardian, half Elder God, as I was. Thou shall gain my unending strength, stamina, speed, reflexes, agility, and durability. Your senses will sharpen, your already impressive healing factor shall become true regeneration; you, Naruto, shall become immortal! Mastery of all forms of combat known to me shall be yours, as well as my armors and Megingjord, the Belt of Strength. Lastly, Mjolnir and all its powers shall be yours to command."
"This is insane," mutter Naruto. "First I'm dying, now you're saying I'm going to live forever and be super strong and…"
"Nay, no creature truly lives forever," interrupted Thor. "I myself am proof of that."
"Ok, but still, this is a lot to take in. What about being a ninja? Can I still use chakra?"
"I fear that I know little of this chakra or of being a ninja," Thor admitted. "The ninja I knew of were cowards and weaklings, and I can see that is not true in your time. I can not foresee what will happen when this conversation ends and you take my powers."
"And what about him?" Naruto asked and pointed to the still unconscious Nine Tails.
"I fear he must remain as well. Perhaps when you are strong enough, there may be a rune spell to remove the beast's taint from you, but, alas, it will be still some time until you are able to perform such a task."
"Hey, yeah, how am I gonna learn how to do all this stuff? Who's gonna train me?"
"Training will be a necessary," Thor replied. "You shall gain my memories and knowledge in the transference, but the powers will grow as you do. Until you fully mature, practical use of your powers will take a long time to master and much hard work will be needed. In time, as you grow, you will learn from my memories and train until you are as powerful as I was."
"Hehe, I was wondering if I was going to wake up all gianty like you," Naruto smiled and rubbed the back of his head.
"Yeah, you're the biggest person I've ever seen!" Naruto exclaimed. "Well, except for Choji's dad when he does his expansion jutsu, but you're still the biggest without using a jutsu!"
"Ha ha, such would be an interesting sight to see. I too had a friend capable of changing his size from tiny insect to giant man! Hmm, such a memory serves purpose. Mjolnir is indestructible and eternal; it was child's play for it to survive the eons until your discovery today. My comrades had no such gifts, but, like Mjolnir, perhaps their equipment and technology did. Search the world and you may find the Avengers' legacies," Thor smiled.
"There's other stuff from your time lying around too? All right!"
"Temper exuberance with caution, young Naruto. There were other forces, too numerous for count, in my time that fought not for good, but for the most sinister evil. If Mjolnir survived the ravages of time, there are items of nigh-equal power and beyond that may have as well."
"I'll be careful," Naruto said seriously. "Believe it!"
Thor scratched his head in confusion, but smiled at the young blonde anyway. "Interesting as thou art, time has grown short, my young friend. Are you ready?"
"I…" Naruto paused. His mind raced. Things will never be the same after this, he thought. I'm never going to be normal, never going to be accepted after this. There's a good chance the villagers might hate me even more after this… but I don't care! I don't understand what exactly is going on, but I gotta get back to help Sasuke and Sakura. And if Thor says I'll become as strong as him someday, than that's good enough to for me. I'll show them all that I'm not a demon and I'll protect Konoha, no matter what!
"Let's do it."
"You have a stout heart, little one," Thor smiled and placed his hand on Naruto's shoulder. "I know this decision was not an easy one to make, even when it has already been made for you. Always know that all the might and power of Asgard will be with you. Honor Mjolnir and know, no matter what may happen, that you are worthy of the mantle of Thor!"
"I'll remember," Naruto smiled.
"Hold out your hand, Naruto," Thor said and raised Mjolnir into the air. "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of…Thor. Wield it with honor, Naruto," Thor said and handed Naruto the hammer. Naruto stared at the hammer for a moment. An electric hum, starting at his fingers, raced down his arm and filled his body. Naruto felt a new calm swell over him, the prelude to the new power he was about to claim. Naruto tightened his grip on the hammer's handle and raised it into the air.
A bolt of lightning enveloped him and the world turned white.
A boom of thunder shook the Forest of Death and Naruto stood up on the lake bottom. However, the lake was gone; the lightning had evaporated every trace of water there was. All that was left was a single fish, flopping around on the muddy ground, and a few specks of plant life here and there.
Naruto took a deep breath and looked around the forest, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells with his new senses. He could see flowers opening their petals on the other side of the lake; he could smell their aroma as easily as if he was holding them in his hand; and, lastly, he could her Sakura's screams from miles away.
Naruto reached down and picked Mjolnir up off the ground. He stared at the hammer and tossed it gently from hand to hand. Naruto gave the hammer a few test swings, gauging the weight, and surprised himself with the ease and familiarity he handled the hammer.
Heh, Thor was right about having all of his memories, Naruto thought. It feels like I've used this hammer my whole life. But I'll have to figure the memory part out later; right now, it's time to give these new abilities a little test drive, Naruto style!
Naruto slipped Mjolnir's leather thong around his wrist and whirled it over his head. The hammer blurred and, when Naruto flung it forward, both the hammer and thrower took off through the air.
I've had this in mind for a little while, haven't been able to shake it with all the promotion going on for the new movie. However, this fic will have more to do with the comic book THOR, not the movie. Thor has always been one of my favorite characters, both in comics and traditional mythology. I hope you all enjoy it and let me know how I did.