Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. It belongs to Kishimoto.
Chapter One: Space Breaker
Somewhere in the Land of Grass, the land was shattered.
Shards of rocks were flying, trees were cut, and a bridge was destroyed in a deafening explosion. Faster than the wind, two figures engaged each other in battle, circling, running away, beginning a deadly dance of punches and blows.
The fighters were a red teenager with three tails and a white man with snakes attached to his hand.
The crimson juggernaut's cloak of chakra burned the man's reptilian allies, and a great sphere formed in his left hand. The white snake gracefully avoided it, and the rasengan instead crashed on the ground, creating a crater as large as a house.
Slamming his hands together, the treacherous Sannin began a hand-seal sequence. Dozens of cobras escaped from his mouths, biting the vessel before being consumed by his unholy chakra. The container fell, his body covered with wounds.
"Does that hurt much, Naruto-kun?" Orochimaru asked with mock concern. He was filled with a sadistic joy.
The teen immediately stood up, while the power of the fox healed his flesh and skin. "I barely felt it," he stated, lying through his teeth.
"Like your teammate." Orochimaru's clothes were still tainted by Yamato's blood. "But I forget: he didn't have the Kyuubi to help him, so he must have died painfully…"
Naruto's fists clenched. He only knew Yamato for a few days, but he was saddened and enraged by his death. He failed to save him, like Sasuke. "You will pay for that," he promised.
Team 7's mission was to meet a spy at the bridge, a person that could help them find Sasuke. When they arrived, they discovered his identity: Yakushi Kabuto, the treacherous medic-nin. But before they could do anything, Orochimaru had shown up, and Kabuto had attacked the disguised Yamato, revealing his true allegiance to the snake.
It was at that moment that Sai backstabbed them.
"Why Sai?" Naruto asked, avoiding a swing of the teen's sword.
His aggressor didn't respond verbally, only increasing the speed of his assaults. Looking sideways, the demon vessel saw Kabuto and Sakura engaged in a deadly dance of medical jutsu, and Yamato barely avoiding the fists of Orochimaru.
"Why are you doing that?" he shouted as he punched the other boy in the belly. "Why do you betray us?"
"It is my mission." His voice was cold, emotionless. "Orochimaru-san has an alliance with the authorities of Konoha, and I cannot allow you to kill him."
"That's bullshit!" Naruto punched Sai in the head, and he heard his opponent's nose breaking under the strength of the blow.
Sai didn't even flinch. "Believe what you want, that's the truth. I am sorry, but I will have to remove you."
"Then… I am sorry too." The vessel punched the traitor again, and again. Sai's face was now bruised and bleeding.
Sai riposted, cutting the skin of Naruto's left cheek with his blade. A small tear of blood fell on the ground as Sai's disturbing smile widened even more. "If you want to live, you will have to kill me."
"We don't have to kill each other!"
"We are ninjas. We are killing machines." The statement was flat, as if it was an universal truth. "One of us will die today. If you don't kill me, then your friends will die too."
Naruto suddenly realized something. "You want to die."
Sai's fake smile shattered a bit. It was awfully disturbing, but it confirmed Naruto's idea. "I only live for the mission. I have no name nor identity, only the mission. Death is the only alternative to the mission."
"You can stop! You can live for yourself!" He formed a rasengan in his right hand.
"As I told you, I don't exist. I can't feel anything. I will never be able to live normally. I am… a tool. And tools only exist to be used, or to be broken." The smile returned. "Please… kill your heart." He charged at the container, his blade in hands.
Naruto closed his eyes. "I am sorry," he said as his rasengan tore the boy apart.
And then it got worse.
Naruto could only watch helplessly as a dozen of snakes bit Yamato. The reptiles shredded his skin, tearing away his flesh and basting Orochimaru with human blood. Then, nonchalantly, the creatures released their grip, leaving the bloody mess falling on the soil.
The Sannin then glared at the surviving members of team seven. "Now it's you-"
Naruto's rasengan didn't kill the traitor. It only hit Kabuto's belly. The medic had jumped between the two of them, saving the snake at the cost of his own life. As the vessel saw the transpierced body of his enemy, completely bloodied, Naruto found similarities between the current situation and Haku's death at the Land of Wave.
Like Zabuza before him, Orochimaru tried to destroy them both. Unlike the mist-nin, he didn't use a sword, but a wind jutsu. Naruto barely had the time to withdraw his arm before the air cut Kabuto's corpse in half.
The snake smiled. "Thank you Kabuto. I knew I was right to recruit you. Still, you could have killed the girl. Disappointing."
Disgusted by the man's lack of emotion for his subordinate's sacrifice, and angry at him for killing Yamato, Naruto felt the power of the Kyuubi racing in his veins. As he changed of appearance, becoming more bestial and being wrapped in a cloak of red chakra, Naruto looked sideways at Sakura. "Flee! Return to Konoha! I will kill him here and now, but I need a lot of space. I don't want you to die in the crossfire!"
"Flee!" he ordered her. "Leave!"
Sakura reluctantly obeyed. "Don't die!" she shouted as she disappeared within the forest.
"I will come back, I promise!" he yelled back.
Orochimaru smiled, amused. "I am a bit angry, Naruto-kun: you underestimate me. But let me, in my great generosity, teach you a valuable lesson." He began a hand-seal sequence. "Don't make promise that you can't keep."
As three tails of power formed in his back, Naruto charged at his adversary, intent on avenging the Sandaime, Yamato, and all the people killed by the man.
The Sannin smirked. "Always so strong, so courageous, even in the face of your own failures. Somehow, I have the impression of fighting another Minato… one without the original's talent."
The Jinchuuriki's eyebrows raised. "Who?" He wondered why did he ask. Sakura's life depended on him, and he had to stay focused.
The man's vicious smirk widened. "What, Jiraiya didn't tell you?" He sneered. "But it is not like he taught you anything valuable…"
Naruto greeted his teeth. The snake was trying to anger him, he knew that, so he tried to calm himself. He had learnt long ago that his hot-blooded nature had only brought him problems. While preparing himself to attack, he decided to answer to his enemy. "He taught me many things."
The Sannin laughed.
It was neither psychotic nor ironical. Simply honest. Naruto was completely taken aback by this reaction. "What? A big sphere of chakra? How to summon toads? Seriously, what did you learn during these last three years? How to make a bigger rasengan?"
The three tails of chakra behind Naruto stopped to move as he stiffened. He hated to admit it, but the Sannin was right. As he failed to find an adequate answer, the snake continued to mock him.
"Did he teach you how to use toads for practical techniques? Did he teach you his sealing art? Did he teach you any new jutsu?" he asked cruelly.
Naruto frowned. "He taught me how to use the Kyuubi's chakra."
"No." The Sannin smiled. "This power isn't yours. The fox is only loaning it to you… while killing you from within." Naruto's surprise must have shown on his face, because the traitor decided to explain himself. "Aren't you aware of the price of this chakra? It's breaking down your body, shortening your life expectancy! You must have lost, what, fifteen years of your life during your 'training' with Jiraiya. And let's not talk about how many times you used that power during your battles! You will be lucky if you reach sixty!"
Naruto closed his fists. It wasn't true, it wasn't true…
"You must have already felt it before! That suffering, that comes when this red energy fades away! It is only a shard of the existence that awaits you as Konoha's sacrifice!"
"That's not true!" Naruto shouted. "Tsunade-"
"Tsunade lies to you!" Orochimaru responded. "If she wanted you to be strong, you would already be able to compete with me without the Fox! With the power of the Kage Bunshin, you path could have been one of greatness! The power to learn everything, to assimilate the knowledge thousands of your copies have collected?" He glared at Naruto. "That power, I have looked for it… killed for it… and you, and only you, could have used it to its full potential!" He walk in circle around Naruto, immediately on his guards.
"What are you talking about?" Naruto asked, more and more confused. The man was lying, he knew that… but he seemed so honest… still, his eyes followed his nemesis' every moves…
The snake's eyes transformed into two pits of hatred and scorn. "You never found out? The memories of a Kage Bushin always return to the original. If you had created thousands clones, made them practice hundreds of techniques, during the last three years, then you would have been a credible challenger, and not a banal child dependant on the power of a treacherous demon."
The lie was… no. No, it wasn't a lie, he realized. It was the truth. All the times he had vivid memories of a hundred of death, of Gaara's sand crushing him, of that bone freak's deadly attacks…
"And do you know that the Rasengan is incomplete? That elemental manipulation could have finished it? But, excuse me, I forget: you don't even know what elemental manipulation is, don't you? Too bad, Sasuke knows. Jiraiya knows. Kakashi knows. I know. Even your friends must know! You're nothing more than a red chakra pump! Konoha kept you on leash, stained your growth, and weakened you!"
Lies. Lies. Lies. Lies. Lies. Lies. Lies. Li-
"But then, they acted the same with your mother, so I can understand."
"That proud lady of the Whirlpool, so strong, so active, so HATED!" Orochimaru shouted with an insane glee. "The previous Kyuubi's vessel! Restrained by Konoha, weakened, cast aside, until your father saved her from her misery!"
"You…" he was lying, he was lying- "You knew my parents!"
"Every ninja in this rotten place knew them!" the Sannin spat. "The Sandaime, their protector; Kakashi, your father's student," he smiled cruelly, "Jiraiya… your godfather."
Rage filled Naruto's heart, and the Kyuubi's voice roared for blood and destruction in his mind. "YOU ARE LYI-"
Pain raced through his body, as a sword erupted from the snake's mouth, transpiercing his thorax.
Rage became insane hatred, and the Kyuubi's chakra intensified. Naruto's skin was torn away as blood and demonic energy fused to create an unholy scarlet armor. As a fourth tail formed behind him and as he took the appearance of a miniature Demon Fox, the boy struggled to maintain control over his body.
"Let me kill him," the Kyuubi's voice said in his mind. "Let me take care of him."
"That power is not your own!" Orochimaru withdrew the Kusanagi of his opponent's body and this time, tried to behead him with an elegant swing of his blade. The composite being's neck stopped the blade like a rock. One of the tails smashed the Sannin, burning the lower half of his body. However, it wasn't enough as a second, fully healed Orochimaru emerged from his older self's mouth.
"The Sandaime never believed in you!" the Sannin taunted. "He pretended to love you, but did nothing to help you reach your full potential! You think it is the first time the old fool has done that? Then why do you think I deserted Konoha? He tried to restrain all those who could surpass him!"
Before the struggling spirit of Naruto could respond, the snake's fingers wrapped themselves with purple flames. "And without limits, my power now surpasses the Kyuubi itself!"
He opened his palm and then touched the transformed Naruto's belly. The container fell on the floor immediately, his scream resonating through the entire battlefield.
No word precise enough to describe what the teen felt at that moment existed in this word. Pain was far too weak, and torture an understatement. In an instant, the power flowing in Naruto's veins left, giving way to the greatest dolor imaginable. He felt all of his body burning from the inside. The Kyuubi's coherent sprit was shattered instantly, leaving only his unrestrained hatred and chaotic memories instead.
The worse thing was that the red chakra was still leaking from the seal… but without any will to direct it. The wild power shredded Naruto's chakra coils while healing them, filled his mind with terrifying images of slaughter and misery…
But despite all his hatred and malice, the Kyuubi discovered this day that even his evil couldn't overcome the sheer determination and willpower of his container. Naruto, despite the pain, remained sane and aware of his surroundings.
But as he saw Orochimaru gleefully enjoying his victim's situation with a sadistic smirk, the blonde teen also saw images of his past behind his enemy. The day he learnt to tree-walk, the day he met Jiraiya, the day he finished the rasengan…
"They… taught… me…" he muttered.
"They taught you the basics." Orochimaru's voice was soft and friendly. Naruto could have mistaken his tone for one of kindness, but he was painfully aware that the Sannin was simply delighted to hurt him even more. "Kakashi taught Sasuke his best jutsu. During these three years, while I have taught Sasuke kenjutsu, sealing, practical summoning, genjutsu, dozens of jutsu, advanced taijutsu and elemental manipulation… Jiraiya has only corrected some of the flaws in your taijutsu, taught you how to make a bigger rasengan, and how to ask the Fox for chakra. That is all." He lowered his head to lock eyes with his victim.
"Because of the Sandaime's, and Tsunade's, orders. Because your village did not believe in you. Because you were not meant to be a ninja… but a slave."
Naruto didn't respond. He wanted to, but he realized it was the truth. The demon vessel was completely self-taught. He had never received help, or never enough. He had never got any real training, only pointers. And… he didn't know who his parents were… until Orochimaru told him.
Why had he been so naïve? Why had he believed they would help him? Why had he loved them? They had lied to him, and he had always known. He realized that, deep down, he had always repressed these thoughts. He wanted their acknowledgment, he wanted them to praise him… and he fell for their false friendship.
Orochimaru smirked. "But don't worry, you will be avenged. As soon as I take over Sasuke's body, I will attack Konoha again, and burn it to the ground… after I kill your girlfriend, of course."
Somehow, Naruto, hearing these words, found the strength to move. He punched the snake in the face.
Orochimaru was catapulted backward, hitting a tree and breaking it. As he stood up again, Naruto, covered with an inform mix of blood and wild chakra, felt the seal on his stomach burning. Looking briefly at it, the teen noticed it had changed. It was now a twisted symbol, a black web, fluctuating with periodic pulses of chakra.
"You are right, Orochimaru," he said, while the pain left, replace with a twisted feeling of omnipotence. "This power isn't my own… like this body isn't yours. It doesn't matter." He formed a sphere of chakra with his right hand. "Do you know why?"
Orochimaru didn't respond.
"Because even among those liars, I found real friends." Images of Iruka, the owners of the Ichiraku, Sakura, the other Konoha rookies, and Lee's team formed in his mind. "And I will not allow you to hurt them!"
At that instant, Orochimaru understood that he had awakened a sleeping giant. "Crap," he muttered as the ball of energy reached him, pulverizing the landscape with a bright flash and deafening sound.
When the dust cleared up, the Sannin had disappeared. In his place, a giant crater. As the vessel thought his adversary was finally dead, something erupted from the ground. A disgusting mass of white flesh grew more and more, until it reached the size of Gamabunta. Eight heads of snakes were now gazing hatefully at the teen.
One of the hydra's mouths opened, revealing the nude torso of Orochimaru instead of its tongue, the Kusanagi in his hands. "That's a strong attack that you have there, Naruto-kun," he taunted him. "But it's not strong enough."
Unfazed, Naruto ran at the beast. He didn't know for how long he could manage to control the Kyuubi's wild chakra, or if he would even survive for long, but at least he would drag the Fox and the snake in the underworld with him.
As he felt the seal on his stomach more and more, the vessel reached his enemy at full speed.
The seven other heads of the monster reared up to strike, and tried to bite him. But their speed couldn't keep up with the red juggernaut, who avoided all of them. "Friends?" Orochimaru shouted. "That's your reason to fight? Open your eyes! Your friends are dragging you down to their level, restraining your potential!"
Jumping, Naruto soon found himself flying at Orochimaru himself. "They are chains!" the Sannin snarled as he moved his weapon.
Naruto didn't avoid the stab. Instead, he used the opportunity to grab the man's head with his chakra-charged hands. The blade did penetrate through the wild, chaotic chakra cloak, piercing his left shoulder, but Naruto did not care. His fingers burned Orochimaru's flesh, making him scream with pain.
"If my life was a lie…" the container rasped, with a deep, hollow voice as swirling winds of red chakra enveloped him and his nemesis both, "if everything I did was for nothing… if everything I believed in was an illusion… then nothing matters anymore! I don't care if I die here! I'm taking you with me, Orochimaru!"
The seal on his stomach fluctuated, changed, and space itself twisted into a black hole.
"No," Orochimaru screamed desperately, as the void consumed his hydra's body, "I will not die here. I will reach eternity, and become omniscient! The eyes of your friend will be mine… everything will be mine! I am Orochimaru of the Sannin, the necromancer, the Sandaime's killer, and I! WILL NOT! BE DEFEATED!"
Flesh became dust, blood became gas, and the immortal Sannin was swallowed into nothingness.
"I AM OROCHIMARU! AND MY WILL! WILL BE DONE!"
The Sannin's last words resonated in Naruto's head as he saw him disappear before him. Only the Kusanagi sword, now in his hands, was the proof that Orochimaru even existed. The hole had consumed him completely, like an ogre.
The world was breaking down. Powerful rays of light swarmed Naruto, as his surroundings were erased from existence. A crimson wind of chakra enveloped him, and he sensed the seal burning away his skin.
"I'm sorry… Sakura-chan," he muttered, with sadness in his voice. "You will have to save Sasuke without me."
A second later, he found himself lying on a street, under a clouded sky.
He kept his eyes closed.
"Hey, wake up!" the girly voice shrieked. "WAKE UP!"
Naruto grumbled, before opening his eyes. He saw a blonde, cute infant angel…
"Damn, you're a lazy bastard! Get up or I will kick you in the balls!"
… or maybe not.
Naruto gritted his teeth. "What do you want?"
"What do I want? You passed out in front of my home! Can't you find another place to sleep? Are you a hobo?"
Naruto reddened at the accusation. "I am not a hobo! I am a ninja!"
"Really?" she asked, surprised. Then she noticed his headband. "Oh, sorry, are you a hobo-ninja?"
He immediately stood up, with a mask of anger over his face. "I am not a hobo, damn it! I am a genin of Konoha!" The girl took a step back, terrified, and Naruto suddenly noticed he was still carrying the Kusanagi in his left hand. He immediately softened up. "Sorry, I didn't want to scare you. I am in quite a bad mood."
He didn't know how, but he had survived. Well, he was tired as hell, bruised, and his clothes were shredded at some places. But at least, Naruto was alive. He didn't know where he was, but it certainly wasn't the battlefield where he just killed Orochimaru. Perhaps had he been summoned? Teleported somewhere by the unleashed power? The teen would have to look at the seal to check it out.
The girl accepted his excuses with a nod. She was Konohamaru's age, had long, blonde hair, and beautiful blue eyes. She had strange marks on her cheeks, and was wearing an orange vest and pants. She looked like a younger version of his female transformation.
As much as he was pleased to see someone wearing the best color ever, he had more important things to do. First and foremost, he had to check up if Sakura had survived. Secondly, he had to interrogate his "teachers" on Orochimaru's revelations. As much as he was loathed to admit it, the monster did have a point, and if his mother really was the previous container of the Kyuubi, then he had to know. Thirdly, he had to warn Tsunade about Sai's treachery. And finally, he had to show Jiraiya the seal on his stomach.
"Well," he said to the girl. "Can you tell me where I am exactly?"
She frowned at him. Naruto knew this look well. Are you stupid was written all over her face. "In Konoha. The southern district, to be more precise."
So he was near his home. And in Konoha itself? Was it fate that transported him there? Looking at his surroundings, Naruto found that, yes, he was in front of his home. He saw the Hokage tower standing far away from them, and the four village leaders watching over the town.
The teen blinked. Four? "Where is the Godaime's face?"
The girl smiled. "Godaime? I know Sandaime-jiji is old, but he did not kick the bucket yet. And if you want to see the future Godaime, then here I am for you!" She pointed her finger at her face.
Still confused, the vessel stared dumbly at the girl. "Who are you?"
"Me?" She grinned. "I'm gonna be the future's first female Hokage ever, the great Naruko Uzumaki!"
Shock spread over Naruto's face.
It was definitely a crazy place.
It was Konoha. The districts were the same, and with the exception of the missing head of Tsunade, everything was identical to the original village, down to the last house. But…
The Sandaime was alive. The oldest of all Hokages wasn't dead and buried, killed by his own, favored student. And the townsfolk were… different.
First and foremost, he saw some of his friends, the other rookie nine. And they were the same age as Konohamaru. He saw Shikamaru and Chouji eating on the top of a building. He watched Sasuke training at his empty compound. Heck, he even observed Kiba taking Akamaru on a walk! The dog was now a puppy, adorable, but not an adult, like in Naruto's Konoha.
Finally, there was one last little problem…
"So Hobo-san? What are doing exactly? You're on a walk?"
The girl followed him everywhere. Like Konohamaru! Though if she was who he thought she was, then it was expected of her to seek the company of a person that didn't ignore or threaten her. He sighted. "I am not a hobo."
"Yeah, right," she snorted sarcastically. "What's your name, actually? I gave you mine."
Outwardly, Naruto was the very picture of calm; inwardly, he was a nervous wreck. He thought about what kind of name he could give… and then found one. "Sai."
"Sai?" He nodded. "That's a nice name."
"Yeah," Naruto said. "Naruko is a nice name too."
It was completely lame, but it had a strange consequence. The girl's smile widened hugely. It was… a normal smile. Not the false one she was always showing to the world. "Thank you mister."
"It's nothing." He stiffened. The vessel looked at the top of a building, but saw nothing. Strangely, he had the feeling that someone was watching them. He gave his kindest smile to the little girl.
"You know what, Naruko, I am a bit hungry. Do you know a good restaurant?"
"Yes!" She was almost jumping in place. "It's the Ichiraku Ramen Stand, and Ayame-chan and Teuchi-jiji sell the best ramen in the world!"
Naruto nodded. Another clue. "You know what, I'm feeling generous today. Do you want a meal?"
She stared at him with an awed expression. "Seriously?"
She stayed silent a moment. And then-
"YOU'RE THE BEST HOBO EVER!"
The ANBU gritted his teeth. "He knows we are observing him."
"You're sure Dog?" Yuugao Uzuki asked her sempai.
The man nodded. "For a young man of his age, he has good instincts. He doesn't show it, but he is on his guard."
"What do we do then?"
"He mustn't know we are following him and Naruko. Use a genjutsu to mask your presence."
"Okay." She stared at the teen. "Who is he?"
"I don't know," Dog answered honestly. "But if nobody except us noticed his presence, then the barrier is ineffective and our guards useless. If he works for a enemy village, then we're in big trouble."
"He seems interested in Naruko. Do you think he is aware of her condition?"
"I hope he does not," he said. "I really do."
Ichiraku's was the same place that he remembered. Well, Ayame was a little younger, but the only disturbing thing was the color of her skin. To be this red… was she ill? And for once, the villagers weren't glaring at him, but at Naruko.
The first time he had noticed this behavior, he locked eyes with the girl. The sad, dead look on her face was the same that he had worn himself during his childhood, before he met his friends. And what about the dread in her gaze, when she had stared back at him? She was obviously afraid he would reject her.
Instead, he had glared back at the villagers. It must have been disturbing for them, to see a teen with the 'demon girl', if he heard them well. But they quickly decided to focus on other, more important matters. Yeah, the Kusanagi on his back truly was intimidating.
"Well, Sai-san, will that be your order?" Teuchi asked, with a hollow tone.
The man nodded, before giving him the ten bowls of ramen. "Never thought I would see someone eating as much as an Akimichi," he muttered, unaware of Naruto's sensitive hearing. He ignored him, like he ignored Naruko's shocked expression as she saw him eat twice as much food than her in less tan a minute.
When he finished, she was staring at him dumbly, before looking at her five bowls of ramen. She began to eat at a surprising speed, as if she could beat his record. Teuchi kept his laugh in check, and Ayame only had eyes for Naruto. The mysterious observers seemed to have disappeared.
"So, Sai-san," she asked with a predatory look. "I never saw you in Konoha. Where were you hiding?"
It was time for Naruto to invent a believable lie. "It does not surprise me you don't know me, since I never stay in town for long. I prefer to go out in the field."
"Your missions must be important."
"It depends. They go from 'protect this man' to 'save that cat'. More the former than the latter, but it happens."
The teen noticed that Naruko had stopped eating and was now looking sideways at him. Ayame kept her look. Naruto found it creepy. "And your team? Perhaps I know them?"
He smiled. "I doubt it. Haku-san is too shy to talk to anyone outside of the group, Zabu-san is an asocial jerk, and Yamato-sensei is one of the most private people around. I would be surprised if someone other than the Hokage knew we exist."
She nodded, and strangely enough, her face reddened even more. She closed her eyes, and seemed absorbed in deep thought. And then she tried to close the distance between them. "A secret team, with a lot of missions. You must be a very competent ninja." She was now sitting one meter away from him.
Okay, what was wrong with her? Why was she acting so-
"And I like competent men."
Was she hitting on him?
"Well, I am quite capable in a fight, yes," he said. As he saw Ayame blink, Naruto hesitated. What could he do to stop the inevitable flirting scene?
Fortunately, his guardian angel came in the form of a bratty girl. "REALLY?" she shouted as she put herself between the two teens, much to Ayame's displeasure. "Can you teach me an awesome technique?"
"Oh come on, tea-" She stopped talking. "You accept?"
"Why shouldn't I?" he asked
She seemed at a loss for words. "It's just that… I… I never…" She stared at him with awe. "I don't know what to say."
"Then say nothing," he said. "But aren't you in the academy? Why don't you ask the teachers for help instead?"
She bit her lower leap. "They don't like me. They never help me."
Another clue. "Then I will," he told her.
"You promise?" she asked expectantly.
He smiled. "Of course, Naruko-chan." Ayame was looking at them with awe. Much to his displeasure, Naruto understood it only made him much more awesome than he already was in her mind.
Naruko did not care. "Then… why not tomorrow morning, Boss?"
Unknown to Naruko, Naruto decided to follow her. Hiding on the top of a building, the vessel stared at the young girl as she returned home. In his apartment, to be precise. As much as he knew that it was creepy and just plain wrong to stalk a child, he felt he had to watch over her. Naruto's suspicions were now confirmed. He had no doubts about her identity anymore. Yet, he still couldn't believe the all but stated truth.
She was another himself.
What had happened? What force sent him in a world where he was a girl and not a boy? Was it a powerful genjutsu? A trick? He doubted it, since the level of detail was far too high for an illusion, and its creator couldn't have known about unimportant things like Ichiraku's or the habits of the other genin. Except…
The Kyuubi. Taking away his jacket, Naruto channeled his chakra to his belly and stared at the appearing seal .
It was… a total mess.
The seal now looked like a spider's web, with nine circles inside of it. Nine spirals were enclosed by them. And in the center of the web, a form that looked disturbingly like an eye. The form of the web seemed to change. It was moving, like a living creature.
Closing his eyes, Naruto entered his mind.
When he arrived, he discovered it wasn't the same sewer anymore.
His mindscape had changed. The water wasn't troubled, but as clear as crystal. The corridors now looked like they were made of the purest steel, and were now illuminated, no longer dark and gloomy. "Kyuubi!' Naruto shouted. But he didn't get any answer.
It was at this moment that he saw the Kyuubi's cage.
It was a spider's web now. A web of dark metal, constantly shifting and transforming. Nine spheres of crystal were trapped by the construct, and Naruto could see a red light inside of them. And in the center of the whole thing, another sphere. But inside of it, he could only see deep darkness.
Between the threads, the teen saw strange mirrors, filled with blurry images. Approaching, Naruto touched one of them. The images soon became clearer.
He viewed himself. He watched a younger clone of him, at a hospital, healing a wounded Sasuke with medical jutsu. Disturbed, Naruto looked into another mirror. This time, he saw another himself summoning snakes, under the gaze of Orochimaru.
In another mirror, he was wearing orange armor and locked in a swordfight against an enraged Zabuza.
In another, he was training alongside Sasuke and Itachi, his sharingan observing Itachi's masterful accuracy with kunai.
In another, he was wearing a black suit and dancing with Hinata under strange, multicolored lights.
In another, he was smiling as he set a village on fire, killing everyone in the vicinity, before being challenged by a blind Sasuke.
In another, he was commanding the trees and plants, under the kind stares of Tsunade and Shizune.
In another, he was wearing an Akatsuki cloak and fighting against an adult Gaara alongside Deidara.
In another world, he was in the middle of a genjutsu battle with Itachi Uchiha himself.
And it continued, ad infinitum. In one mirror he was a hero, in another a monster. He saw himself as the greatest of all warriors and the weakest of all civilians. Naruto watched images showing him training under the Sandaime, Kurenai, Itachi and many more. Sometimes he was dating Sakura, or Temari, or Ayame, or some girl he had never met.
In each mirror, something was different.
"What the fuck?" was the only thing he found worth saying.
The Sandaime Hokage was calmly reading Jiraiya's reports about a mysterious organization when he sensed a chakra signature in the vicinity. Looking up, the old man noticed the ANBU with a dog mask in front of him.
"What is it Kakashi?" he asked.
The younger ninja removed his mask, revealing his handsome face and his mismatched eyes. His sharingan's three tomoes were swirling.
"Hokage-sama, I am afraid to say that we have a fake ninja infiltrated in the village."
Sarutobi frowned. "A spy?"
"I don't know, but he seems to be interested in Naruko."
The old man's eyes widened. "Explain me everything, in detail."
"We were watching over Naruko, like all times, and she ran into him. He looks like a normal genin, if a bit dirty, but he has an insane amount of chakra reserves. In fact, he is more or less a Bijuu without a tail."
"That's disturbing. The only person known with this level of chakra reserves is Kisame Hoshigake, an S-Rank missing-nin."
"Yes, but that is not the only worrying element about this false ninja. It's his weapon." Kakashi stopped. "The last time I saw it, this sword was in the hands of one of your students."
"The Kusanagi?" The Sandaime stood up immediately. "This boy is carrying the Kusanagi?" The ANBU nodded, and Sarutobi scowled.
"Hokage-sama, what do we do about him?"
"I want five ANBU watching him and Naruko at all times. I will warn all the jounin and ask them to keep an eye on him. If he is related to Orochimaru, then he mustn't be underestimated. If he is Orochimaru in disguise, then we need to take him by surprise. He never cared about collateral damages and attacking him inside of the village without preparation would be disastrous."
"And what about Naruko? He promised to train her."
Sarutobi's eyes narrowed. Had his student decided to steal the Kyuubi? To take revenge on his teacher through one of the people he cared about the most? "Kakashi, if he tries to corrupt her… if he tries to hurt her… if he tries to capture her… then stop him, no matter the cost."
Kakashi nodded gravely. "I will, Hokage-sama."
A man was staring at the battlefield, his attention focused on the tiny, little disturbance in space. It was not big enough to warp its surroundings, and almost invisible, but he could sense it.
He had observed the fight between the Kyuubi's vessel and the snake Sannin, and had found it entertaining, the results more than anything. He even forgot about his original goal, to observe Sasuke Uchiha's potential. Instead, he was currently analyzing this incredible thing.
It was a portal in space itself. A gate to somewhere else in the cosmos. He had never heard of something like this, so it was probably a completely unique phenomenon. And, if the slight diminution in size that he noticed was of any indication, a very ephemeral one too.
What should he do? He would probably never find something like this again, so it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But was it worth the risk? After a quick debate with himself, he decided that yes, it was. Without the Kyuubi, the plan was ruined, and if there was a slight chance of recuperating the vessel, then he had to take it. Heck, he might even find something interesting on the other side of this portal.
The man advanced, and disappeared into the void.
After receiving some very nice messages, I've decided to post the links of my first non-fanfic work.
I know this won't interest many of you (this is a fanfiction site after all), but I did receive quite a surprising number of PMs asking for the links, so, here we go.
Even if you aren't interested in buying the book, the story, "Dis Acedia", is published freely as a web serial on Wordpress every Monday and Friday. It already has quite a bit of content.
The link is: di sacedia. wordpr ess . com (remove additional spaces)
The story follows a man trapped in a prison-world for otherworldly beings and doing his best to adjust there. Prison Break meets Berserk/Dark Souls would be a good summary. It follows a first person narration, alternating with third person chapters following other characters. Dis Acedia also has a Tv tropes page for those wishing to view some of the content without having to read the whole thing.
The first volume (out of four to five planned) is titled "The Laws of Dis" and is available on Amazon.
The link is: ww w . amazon (add a dot) com/dp/B01M1FTOL2 (remove additional spaces)
Anyway... I hope you will enjoy Echoes.
Would you kindly leave a review?