Naruto: Potential Realised
I know it's been a long wait, for which I apologise profusely. Quite a few of you reached out to me; some with concern for my wellbeing and others with questions regarding the status of the story – I appreciate all of it. To keep it short; I had one bad infection after another for a while. By the time I got better exam season was gearing up, and seeing as I'm in my second year of law school, it was honestly too hectic and stressful to do much with regards to writing. I'm back now though, for the next for four months at least, so there's that.
I'm very pleased Naruto: Potential Realised has broken the 3000 review barrier, the story is a lot more successful than I thought it would be, so that's very pleasing.
(Kusagakure – Undisclosed Location)
Karin loathed life in Kusagakure. She hated everything about it. She hated the village and the people in it, the country surrounding it, and the tall grass and river lands throughout which shallow slivers of streams ran for miles, of which many were poisoned by Kusa-nin to foil unsuspecting invaders (though she could never remember which were poisoned and which were not), and she hated the thick forests and the countless of filthy swamps and disgusting insects and poisonous plants and flowers in them. She hated the weather, unbearably humid during the summer and bone chilling cold in the winter. There was truly nothing redeemable about Kusagakure. Not a single one thing that could make her believe there was something worth cherishing in the country she had been born to.
Being raised a shinobi with exceptional– or rather, unique – sensory perception ability did not make her life any less troublesome. "Fuck you and your expectations. All of you," she wore up a storm of curses as packed her bags.
Ever since she was a little girl her sensory aptitude and unique healing ability had ensured she was always closely watched. Few knew just how much Kusagakure relied on her ability to detect and discern chakra down to its most minute form. For the past two weeks Sōgen had her track a foreign chakra signature in the village belonging to an intruder the Shogun, for reasons unknown to her, was content to let roam freely.
It was beyond confusing given Kusa's otherwise zero tolerance measures against spies, but Karin knew better than to question orders. Nobody refused the Shogun. Not even her rare Uzumaki heritage and unique abilities would be enough to guarantee her life.
The Shogun got what he wanted – always. You either obeyed or you died. It was that simple.
Karin didn't mind her assignment though, strange as it were, because she quickly realised she had once sensed this particular chakra signature before a long time ago. It was during the Chūnin Exams when she first sensed it in the Forest of Death. It was the last time she had been allowed to leave the village.
Sōgen had sent her to Konoha to observe chakra signatures belonging to Konoha's new generation of future clan leaders and prominent shinobi. Amongst the Shogun's more ruthless strategies, Kusa made it their business to track and observe promising young shinobi from other villages in order to nip the bud before it could bloom. Targets were observed for some time and, usually, dispatched when the opportunity arose, often when the target was outside of their village's wall. Naturally, these assassinations were always made to look like the actions of other parties.
There had been quite a few talented young shinobi at the Chūnin Exams Karin had attended. It sickened her to think that most of them would have likely been disposed of by now.
The invader's chakra was unlike anything she had felt before. Even from her considerable distance from the village, she could feel it, and no doubt even less skilled sensor types could too albeit faintly. She wondered why she hadn't noticed before, during her time in Konoha, the familiar quality to the invader's chakra not unlike her own. As intriguing as it was, there was no time to ponder.
'Now is my chance,' Karin thought as she hurriedly stuffed her duffle bag with some clothes and other essentials. 'I'm going to get out of here, and then…'
The sensor type almost swooned as her memory wandered to the day she saw him for the first time, the moment she fell in love with Uchiha Sasuke.
"You guys! Damn it, where are you?" Karin clutched the Earth scroll in her hand in a vice grip as she trudged through the aptly named Forest of Death, as though her safety rested on her ability to keep it close. She was terrified and by her lonesome in the veritable contained battlefield of vicious wildlife and enemy shinobi. Karin swore under breath, her teammates were nowhere to be seen though they had been with her mere moments ago, undoubtedly hunting down the team that attempted to ambush them, though that had failed due to her sensory perception. On her own, Karin was far too frightened to focus on anything other than her surroundings, unable to get a lock on her team's chakra signatures.
They were supposed to protect her! She wasn't fit for combat; her role as their sensor type was to detect and document chakra types. There was little she could to defend herself. Karin's luck turned for the worse yet as a giant bear came crashing through the Forest of Death, tearing down entire trees and uprooting thick brushes as it preyed up on the young kunoichi.
"You guys!" Karin screamed helplessly, scrambling to escape as the bear charged at her. It was to no avail as she tripped and fell on her face in her hurry; the fall knocked her glasses off her face. 'It's over! I'm going to die!' she thought panicked. A blurry and savage death was imminent.
The giant bear roared, baring its fangs as it neared.
"I'm going to die!" she thought as her blurry vision made out a new figure.
It happened so fast that by the time Karin managed to find and put on her glasses the bear had already been defeated, and slumped over on the ground with a minor quake.
That's when she saw him.
"Another Earth scroll, huh?" the raven-haired boy said, standing atop the defeated animal's head, a satisfied smirk on his face. "See ya."
Before Karin could say anything her saviour was already gone. She sat there for the longest time, her mind blank on all but his arrogant smile. Karin didn't recall how much time passed when she heard another voice.
"Quite something, isn't he?"
Karin jumped as she looked up the tree she sat under.
Orochimaru slithered down and stood in front of her, smiling ominously and licking his lips with his lengthy tongue. "Oh, yes, quite something indeed."
Karin vividly remembered meeting Orochimaru of the Sannin that day. The infamous serpent sought her out and made her an offer worth risking the penalty of death.
"Uchiha Sasuke will come to me in the due time to attain power," he had told her. "If you wish to be near him, little girl, I shall permit it. I may even find uses for you too..."
Though he didn't elaborate Karin knew what he meant: her Uzumaki heritage made her a very valuable asset.
"Think it over," Orochimaru said in his parting words. "Sōgen would surely make the connection if you deserted now, however, if a year or so from now you wish to leave Kusa and join me – join Sasuke and I – there will be a place for you."
The rogue shinobi disappeared shortly after and left her to her thoughts. Karin had of course considered his offer countless times since. She had made her decision to go when desertion was opportune, and such an opportunity presented her tonight.
Blood dripped to the floor of the cracked barrier dome as it repaired itself. Sōgen frowned though he remained calm. 'What fearsome power… The Kyūbi truly cannot be underestimated.' The Shogun looked to where his left arm once was. The limb had been savagely ripped off and rendered his shoulder to a bloody stump.
Naruto remained suspended in a maelstrom of crimson chakra. Two tails of bubbling chakra flowed from his lower back. "Don't push it, bakegitsune," he breathed heavily as he fought to regain his composure.
The more tails of chakra he called forth, the harder it became to remain in control. The Kyūbi's evil intent amplified his own emotions and clouded his judgment. It took every ounce of restraint to keep from mauling Sōgen like a wild animal. His killing intent spiked and receded sporadically. 'The damn fox is trying to take control.' He held out his hand and channelled his chakra and golden flames covered his fingertips.
"You want to reinforce the seal?"
"May I ask why, Naruto-kun?"
There was a pause. "The fox killed my parents. I know being jinchūriki means I can't make every decision I make about me, I have to understand what I mean to Konoha - I understand that now… So I'll be its jailor and I'll help maintain the balance between the Great Five, but I refuse to ever rely on it again. As far as I'm concerned it doesn't exist. I'll be a jinchūriki in name only."
"Very well… Perhaps we can reach a compromise, Naruto-kun."
Naruto slammed his flame-covered hand on his stomach and turned his wrist as though twisting a key in a lock.
The Kyūbi's chakra quickly began to subside, sucked back into the seal on his stomach that bound the bijū. Naruto continued to suspend himself using his Fūjin no Hishō, his eyes turning blue though his pupils remained temporarily split.
"You refuse to fight with your bijū's power?" Sōgen sounded quizzical, seemingly maintaining his composure despite the fact he was now one arm short. The shock faded and pain coursed through his body, and yet the Shogun projected the perfect image of calm.
Naruto spat a mouthful of blood as the wounds came to a close and healed at a rapid pace. "Where is Jiraiya?"
"You seriously expect me to tell you?" the Shogun laughed derisively at the mere thought of it. "Why would I even considering entertaining such a foolish notion?"
"To save your own life," Naruto narrowed his eyes at him. "And the people down there," he added pointing to the village. "You're their leader, aren't you? Your actions are going to lead to another war that is going to take more lives than either of us are prepared to lose!"
"You dare lecture me on what it means to be a leader?" Sōgen said in hollow voice so quiet and cold it only hinted at his ire. The mask of calm cracked. "You attack my village, kill my men and lay siege to my buildings, and you dare lecture me, boy?I, who have saved this country? I, who have fought in more battles than you have lived days – I, who have stained my hands with the blood of countless for the sake of this country? You know nothing, boy. You-!"
"You can't win," Naruto cut him off resoundingly. "I'm not so fresh myself but we both know I can kill you right here and now, and your precious country will be left to face a war it can't win. And even if you did somehow kill me, it won't be enough. You're outnumbered and outmatched against Konoha and its allies."
Sōgen grit his teeth and ignored the searing pain in his stump. "My allies would beg to differ."
"You won't have many allies left after this." There was undeniable merit to the statement. After all, who would stand with the village that was assaulted by a single shinobi? The fact that Kusa hadn't fought a battle so close to home – at home, in decades simply made things worse. "You know that as well as I do."
"We shall see about that," Sōgen glowered.
Naruto's chakra spiked as he took a fighting stance. "I did warn you, old man," he said coldly. As a rule he refused to actively rely on the Kyūbi's chakra but whilst it was still mingled with his own he figured he might as well put it to good use, aiming with his left palm as he pulled his right fist back. "Makaze."
'Evil Wind?' It was fortunate for the Hidden Grass leader his dominant limb remained as he quickly reinforced his barrier under the threat of imminent attack.
Naruto channelled the remainder of the Kyūbi's chakra into his fist as though he were to perform another Whirlwind Fist. The principles were similar but the results were worlds apart. "Oniken!"
The Shogun braced himself as he punched the air, firing off the last of the Kyūbi's chakra in single, compacted projectile of bijū chakra. The Demon Fist rippled through the air like an artillery cannon, crashing into the spherical barrier with such force Sōgen was forced to reconstruct it as fast it was being destroyed.
Naruto did not relent there, however, and followed up with a slamming an unusually large Rasengan against the projectile and drove it even future in the crack forming on the surface. "Ōdama Rasengan!"
Sōgen buckled under the sheer pressure of the sizeable spiralling sphere of chakra slamming into his fragmented barrier as it blasted him to the ground below with such velocity his descent was abrupt and brutal.
The result was a resounding crash and vision obscuring cloud of dust. The impact alone would have killed the Hidden Grass leader if not for the pitiful remains of his barrier that shattered upon impact. Though it kept him alive, it did not spare him the pain of a broken back and many bone fractures.
Still in the air, Naruto then turned to the grass dragon as its reconstruction neared completion, knowing that it would have to be dealt with once and for all before he could come within reach of the village leader.
He drew a deep breath and hunched over, arching his arms over his back.
"Yes!" Tsunade made no attempt to hide her approval as they observed the blonde sending Sōgen crashing to the ground below. She felt an enormous weight fall of her shoulders and released a sigh of relief. "Damn kid."
Koharu and Homura wore matching expression of reserved apprehension. "The battle is not over," the latter said, though he sounded vaguely impressed.
Tsunade looked to Rooster. The ANBU captain had been quiet throughout the battle thus far. "What is it?"
"I request leave to depart and retrieve Uzumaki," the ANBU captain said.
The Godaime nodded. "How long will it take you to get to Kusa no Kuni and back?"
"If I leave now, I can be there within the day assuming he takes the shortest route back to our borders."
"Bring him back in bindings," Danzō spoke up announcing his presence in the room. The Root leader had been awfully silent up until then, though for different reasons than most.
Rooster glanced at the man known as some as the Darkness of Shinobi and then to Tsunade for confirmation. "Hokage-sama?"
"Disregard that old man's ramblings," Tsunade instructed with a sideway glare. "Bring Naruto back unharmed. Don't take no for an answer if he refuses but try not to hurt him."
"Understood." Rooster nodded his understanding and vanished from sight by means of a Body Flicker.
"Tsunade-sama," Sakura tried to keep her voice down as she called for her master's attention. She was the only chūnin the room of full of Konoha's brass, her presence was anything but appropriate. "Look."
"Perhaps this is it," Fukasaku mused aloud. "That terrible jutsu."
Tsunade raised an eyebrow as the entire room's attention shifted to the old toad. "What jutsu?"
"I have yet to see it myself and have only heard of it," Fukasaku said with uncertainty. "About five months after Naruto-kun began his training, I heard of an incident amongst the inhabitants of Mount Kongōurin. The scorpion horde took offence to the slayings of their kin at the hand of Naruto-kun."
Tsunade pinched the bridge of her nose. "Don't tell me he picked a fight with them."
"Quite the contrary," Fukasaku assuaged her concerns. "The story goes that they attacked him on him early in his training and Naruto-kun defended himself. Still, the scorpion horde demanded redress. If not Naruto-kun's life they demanded territory. Territory that they had no reasonable claim to and was not Enma-sama's to give without abusing his position as one of the Twelve Deva. Personally I believe the scorpions were simply exploiting Enma-sama's strong desire to maintain peace. "
"So what happened?" Sakura asked despite herself, waiting intently when the old toad to another pause.
Fukasaku croaked with laughter. "Enma-sama decided Naruto-kun was to take responsibility for his actions and that the scorpion horde would have their pound of flesh-"
"How is that fair or just? Naruto didn't go looking for a fight!" Sakura said indignantly.
Tsunade placed a hand on her student's head. "Quiet, Sakura."
The rosette shrunk embarrassed.
"I wasn't finished, young lady," Fukasaku said albeit with an amused smile. "The scorpion horde would have their pound of flesh, but only if they could take it. Enma-sama delivered Naruto at the foot of Mount Kongōurin and promised the scorpions none would interfere. Vengeance was theirs if they could take it, and sure enough the scorpions attacked."
"Naruto took them all on by himself?" Tsunade asked.
Fukasaku paused again, slightly agitated. "That's right, Tsunade-chan," the old toad confirmed. "However, Naruto had come prepared with a new jutsu. Now, I do not know the exact details for this part of the story, and it changes every time I hear it, though the story always ends the same way. Naruto defeated the entire scorpion horde with a single devastating jutsu so powerful that not even he could avoid its devastation and ended up bedridden for an entire month."
Hiruzen and Enma sat cross-legged in front the giant crystal ball. The majority of the Sarutobi clan, apes and humans alike, joined them as they watched the battle in Kusa unfold, huddled around crystal ball as though it were a family picnic. None were too reserved in their support for Naruto. To them he was as much part of the Sarutobi clan as any one of them, and the Sarutobi looked after their own.
"Kick his ass, Naruto!" Yanchazaru shouted with his friends, quite literally jumping up and down with zeal. The children were promptly shushed by their elders and chided for their colourful language.
Sarutobi Kagerō crossed his arms over his broad chest standing next to his familiar. "Things are heating up, Uncle. He finally stopped playing around."
"Naruto was never playing around," Enma disagreed with the young Sarutobi. "Though he is slow on the take, the longer he fights, the better he becomes. It's a double-edged sword, true, but it has yet to fail him."
Hiruzen wordlessly agreed with the Monkey King, eyes stuck on the crystal ball as Sarutobi children quite literally crawled over him. A part of Hiruzen was overtaken with apprehension. He was afraid for Naruto, afraid that he might have made the wrong decision in stepping aside and letting him go to Kusa - terrified that it would be one of many mistakes that would haunt until his dying breath.
"Children, get off Hiruzen-sama!"
The other part of him was filled with pride as he watched Naruto fight. It was such a change from the infant child he once held in his arms and looked over, and to see him hold his own in battle, to see the fruits of his training made him realise the boy that once idolised him as his doting grandfather had become a man.
He had become a man fit to protect his legacy, to carry on the Will of Fire. He had grown up and become fit to one day lead.
The realisation was Hiruzen's proudest moment.
And yet, why did it make him feel like weeping?
"He's going to be fine, Hiruzen," Enma said picking up on his counterpart's feelings. "He's come a long way."
Hiruzen smiled, proud and saddened at the same. "That he has, Enma." He picked up one of the children and set the unruly child in his lap. "Watch closely, everyone."
"It's that jutsu, isn't it?" Kagerō furrowed his brows with concern. "Is it complete?"
"That remains to be seen," Hiruzen said as he bounced the child in his lap. "Though I can say for certain that it is by far the most dangerous fūton jutsu I have ever witnessed."
Naruto settled in his hunched stance as his chakra spiked. It had been half a year since he injured himself using this particular jutsu. He had been so close to death then… He had never seen Hiruzen so worried and relieved when he came to.
It was an excruciatingly painful and humiliating time in his life that had cost him dearly. The incident had put him out of commission for a full month, bedridden and ashamed, and terrified of his own jutsu - but he had learned from his mistakes, and had grown because of it.
This was his greatest achievement. An S-ranked fūton kinjutsu determined and classified as such by the God of Shinobi himself.
White and green chakra took the shape of an ethereal giant.
The upper body of a menacing, ogre-like figure with malevolent grin carrying a bag of air raised at this back. A projection of the god of wind himself… the Fūjin. (1)
Naruto locked on the Kamisori Kusaryū as it roared and coiled its lengthy body with fury and anticipation. "Kusa's ultimate kinjutsu, huh? Well, let's see whose jutsu stacks up better, Sōgen."
The Fūjin matched his exacts movement, heaving the bag of wind as he raised his arms, and threw his hands in front of him. "Fūton: Fūjin no Itazarufukuro!"
The wind picked up.
As the Fūjin emptied its bag of wind the entire sky above Kusa turned a shimmering hue of white and green as millions of chakra needles of chakra concealed in a blast of wind rained upon the Kamisori Kusaryū like a calamity spawned by a vengeful god. The beast screeched and trashed as it was taken apart, disintegrated as each needle inflicted damage on a cellular level, quite literally killing it as it tore each and every blade of grass asunder until what remained was a lifeless husk of dead grass that fell apart and scattered in the air.
It was pure and utter devastation.
The room was quiet. The village leaders were simply stunned into silence as they watched the destruction unfold. They had all heard the stories of Kusa's strongest jutsu in their time, of the mighty dragon of grass that had defended Kusagakure for as long as it existed, an invincible and undefeatable jutsu that, at its height, made even the Shodai wary. Until that very moment the stories had been true as far as anyone knew.
It was true that the Kamisori Kusaryū was amongst the greatest jutsu ever created.
It was no longer true that it was invincible or undefeatable.
Tsunade broke into a satisfied smirk. "I can only imagine how inadequate you feel right now, Danzō."
As one of the few in Konoha to hold an affinity for wind the warmonger barely hid his sneer. "This is a victory for Konoha. I have no inclination to see it as anything else."
"It is certainly an impressive jutsu," Uzuki Yugao commented from behind her mask. "I have never seen anything like it."
Tsunade continued to beam inwardly, fighting to refrain from openly celebrating the victory. While it was true any victory Naruto claimed today would be a victory for Konoha, that did not change the fact that Naruto had overstepped, and as Hokage, she couldn't appear to be condoning that fact, as much as the results pleased her.
"I haven't seen a jutsu like that since Hiruzen," Homura commented seemingly greatly impressed.
Koharu gave him a dirty look for the same reasons Tsunade refrained from celebrating, but agreed nonetheless. "That dream of his no longer seems so foolish."
"It's an impressive jutsu but he still has ways to go," Hiashi said nodding towards the crystal ball. "Look at him. The jutsu was undoubtedly taxing on his already dwindling reserves."
Naruto began to descend as his Fūjin no Hishō became harder to maintain. He felt… truth be told, exhausted didn't quite cover it. Despite coating his arms in chakra he could feel them going numb, a side affect from his own jutsu. Not even he could escape its harm, not completely, not yet.
It was time to go home.
He looked to where Sōgen had landed. The Hidden Grass leader lay on his back in a shallow pool of his own blood, his robes shredded and his grey hair strewn over his face. It seemed his barrier dome had been just enough to survive the impact but he was incredibly low on chakra, and from the looks of it, unable to carry on fighting.
There was one last thing he had to do.
The fading Fūjin matched his movements one last time as he arched his arms and hunched. His enemy was defenceless. 'If killing you prevents a war then I'm going to sleep like a baby tonight, you old fool.'
He didn't have the chakra to pull off another barrage like the first, it would either kill him or weaken him to the point the Kyūbi would take over, and he didn't know which was worse in his current situation, but his second offering would more than suffice to extinguish Sogen's flickering flame.
"Fūton," he completed his stance. The ethereal guardian had shrunk several sizes by now but it would be enough. "Fūjin no Itazarufukuro!"
Fūjin and jinchūriki moved in perfect synchronization. The bag of air opened and rained a smaller, though no less lethal, barrage of hundreds of thousands needless.
Sōgen found inner peace as the onslaught came his way. Though his dulled eye was filled with white and green, his mind was elsewhere, in a different time, a different place, with someone else.
He could see her now as he stood on death's door.
A woman with bright red hair and beautiful cream skin… a beautiful smile, and eyes filled with so much joy and life and hope.
"Don't frown so much, Sōgen. You'll get wrinkles."
Even on the verge of death, Sōgen found reason to rejoice, and so he found it in him to smile. His life had been dedicated to protecting the country she loved. Everything he had done since her passing had been for her, to honour her, to cherish all that she had cherished. All his actions, all his victories and his accomplishments – they were all dedicated to her memory, to her life and legacy.
And though he had lived longer than he had any right to, longer than he would have liked, now it was time for him to rest and be with her again, and so Sōgen closed his remaining eye. 'I'll be there soon… Kimiko…'
As certain death came within range, the air rippled and a darkness appeared seemingly from thin air. A spiraling black hole of nothingness spanning the size of an entire building intercepted the onslaught.
Sōgen opened his eye and found a figure standing next to him. The figure, a man judging by sound and posture, carried an intricately designed staff with many tassels and wore a red coat cloak and straw hat. He was of average height and slim built, with long red hair tied in several ribbons. Everything else was covered in white bandages, even his face, except for his violet eyes.
A spiral symbol was emblazoned on the figure's back.
The staff wielding figured looked to Sōgen as though disgusted by the mere sight of him in his pitiful state. "Tsk, tsk, tsk! Don't tell me you let a mongrel like him do this to you, Sōgen."
The sphere went blank.
"What just happened?" Tsunade exclaimed looking to Fukasaku. "What the hell was that thing?"
"I don't know!" Fukasaku banged his staff on the sphere several times. "Something is blocking Ōgama-sama's powers, a powerful barrier it would seem."
"I'll tell you what happened, the boy just brought an entire village to its knees!" Homura outraged and panicked into assuming the worst. "War is inevitable now."
"War was inevitable before this occurred, Homura-san," Shikaku interjected with his usual composure. "Sōgen would have eventually found his impetus, and now Naruto has served it to him. This works to our advantage, which I believe is why you wrote those letters, Hokage-sama."
"It is," the Godaime nodded, grateful as ever for the Nara clan head. "It wasn't planned but Naruto went for the heart of this foolish alliance. We shall see if the other villages still possess the courage and foolishness to stand by Sōgen now he has been humbled."
"If anything, war may yet be avoided now. At the very least this buys us some time to evaluate our options while Kusa and its allies do the same," Shikaku rubbed his scarred chin in thought. "No matter what, we must stand behind Naruto's actions. Even if sanctioning this attack after the fact is nothing more than a lie, it is a lie we must fight on if or when the time comes."
"I agree with Nara-dono," Hiashi concurred nodding. "We must also make it a priority to investigate The Shogun's ties to the Uzumaki clan immediately."
"Agreed," Tsunade said resolutely. "Anything?" she asked as the old toad continued to tinker with the crystal sphere. "We need to confirm Naruto made it out as soon as possible before we do anything else."
Naruto had a hard time wrapping his head around what just happened as he tried to catch his breath. Just a moment ago he was entirely certainly certain victory was his. Sōgen was on his back, defeated and at his mercy, and all he had to do was deliver the coup de grâce to end it. He was certain the second onslaught would have done the job if not for the mysterious black hole that appeared out of nowhere and absorbed the entirety of his barrage.
The Fūjin disappeared, its presence was no longer sustainable, let alone a third salvo, and certainly not while he had to sustain the presence of thirteen summons that continued to wreak havoc in the burning military district of Kusagakure.
Even something as trivial in comparison as his Fūjin no Hishō started to become a noticeable drain now his vast reserves were nearly empty, so he made his way down to investigate and conserve his chakra.
His descent would not be so gentle however, as the next thing he knew chains wrapped around him and pulled him from the sky, slamming him into the ground face first. It was fortunate he had toughed up quite a bit over the past year because it hurt like hell and he managed to regain his bearings almost as quickly as he had lost them. Naruto scrambled to his feet and tensed in an attempt to free himself. Immediately he noticed something was off. The chains were not made of normal metal.
They weren't made of any kind of metal.
They were made up entirely out of chakra.
"Tell me," a new voice spoke. "Did you really expect it to be that easy?"
Naruto turned to the source, narrowing his eyes as the cloaked figure to whom the chains were connected approached. Something told him he wasn't dealing with a Kusa-nin. In fact, something told him he wasn't dealing with a regular shinobi at all. "Who the fuck are you?"
"What a mouth on you, mutt." The chains wrapped around him tighter squeezing Naruto's arms against his ribs hard enough to make him wince. "You should know your place."
Naruto narrowed his eyes as his mind finally caught up with him and connected the dots.
"Do I have any relatives left? Do I have anyone out there I can actually call family?" (2)
"I am certain there are other Uzumaki out there still, though the odds they go by that name are slim."
He had read about the Uzumaki in the few tomes Hiruzen had provided him with and though he hadn't learned as much as he would have liked, he learned enough to realise that the red hair and chakra chains were dead giveaways. "You're like me… aren't you? You're an Uzumaki." Naruto winced as the chains tightened even more.
"No, not like you," the cloaked figured said icily. "Look at you with that disgusting blond hair… And you dare call yourself an Uzumaki."
"Do you have a name, asshole?" he fished for information as he tried to figure out a way to undo his bindings. He gasped and doubled over as tiny blades protruded from the chain links and broke skin.
"I am the forty-sixth clan leader of the Uzumaki clan, Uzumaki Atsushi." The bandages covering his face fell to the ground. Atsushi appeared to be only a few years older than the jinchūriki, nineteen at the most. He was tall and with tan skin and piercing violet eyes. He was hideously scarred on his right cheek where a hollow gap showed his teeth. "And you will know your place."
Naruto narrowed his eyes. He was at a severe disadvantage and needed to buy some time so he said: "Some clan leader you are, dickhead. The Uzumaki clan was destroyed a long time ago."
"Oh, I'm sure that's what the fools in Konoha told you," Atsushi sneered, regarding him with a scowl of disgust as the chains tightened. "Though I cannot blame them. The Uzumaki of old, though brilliant, were a people of secrecy and deceit… recluses so absorbed in foolishly chasing abstract notions of truth that they failed to anticipate their own downfall when the consequences of their actions caught up to them."
"And I'm sure what you're doing isn't any different." There was something incredibly agitating about Atsushi's voice and presence.
The chains tightened even more. "I am not like my ancestors," Atsushi sneered through his hideous scowl. "The Uzumaki of new do not hide like vermin. Today seems as good as any to make our presence known. Killing Konoha's jinchūriki and reclaiming the beast that dwells inside you will send a loud and clear message."
As though on command four figures appeared, two knelt at either side of the Atsushi. They wore matching red cloaks and straw hats. There were two women on Atsushi's right side; one matching Naruto's height with a slender frame, and a petite girl, easily the shortest of them all and the only one not to carry a staff. On his right two men bent their knees: a mountain of a man with a cloth from under his eyes that hid most of his face, and a tall, lanky figure.
"Honoka, Hotaru, Nobuo, Saburo…" Atsushi spoke their names and came to pause. "Where is Karin?"
"Atsushi-niisama…" said the woman closest to the Uzumaki. She had dark eyes and wore a purple, sleeveless kimono blouse and obi and a short white skirt. (3) Her name was Honoka. "Karin, she…"
"She left the compound some time ago," Saburo stated as they rose to their feet, a grin on his face. "I saw her sneak out in a hurry."
Atsushi glowered at the lanky Saburo. "And you didn't think to stop her?"
"Sōgen's assistant, Natsuki-san, insisted that we left immediately," Saburo replied smirking still as amused by his clan leader's ire. "Karin has always been slow. She won't get far."
"Tche!" Atsushi looked to the shortest Uzumaki. "Hotaru, my love, make sure you track her down when we're done with this filth."
Naruto had yet to wrap his head around the fact that not only were his new opponents Uzumaki, from the way Atsushi was talking, there was entire clan out there. "How many Uzumaki are out there?"
"This one has chakra similar to ours," Saburo remarked with a questioning glance as though he was not even there. "You sure you want to kill him?"
"My mother was an Uzumaki," Naruto saw no harm in sharing as much. He was eager to find out more about them as he could. "She was a refugee from Uzu no Kuni. I was told there weren't many Uzumaki left."
Honoka looked to Atsushi alarmed. "Atsushi-niisama, you promised you would never kill another Uzumaki."
"I remember my promise, dear sister," Atsushi regarded Honoka with irritated look. "This one, however, is not one of us, he admitted as much himself. No… this one is merely the half breed spawn of an outsider and a whore."
There were very few things that set Naruto off the way that did.
Whatever people did or said to him, he usually could get over it, he could take the insults and the looks. Hell, he could even take people attacking him outright because he dealt with it like a man. Family and friends, however, was another story. That lit a fire in him that wouldn't be extinguished until he felt justice was server.
No one insulted the woman that sacrificed so much for him.
"There's… there's so much more I want to say… to teach you… I want to stay with you…"
"You really shouldn't have said," his was ominously quiet like the calm before the storm. Kneading what little chakra he had left in his stomach, his chest swelled as he spewed a high-pressure stream of water. 'Suiton: Suidanha!'
The mountainous Uzumaki called Nobuo stepped in front of Atsushi and erected a barrier dome much like that of Sōgen, though considerably more robust. The Waver Severing Wave, a jutsu devised by Senju Tobirama and thought to him by the Sandaime, was capable of easily slicing through solid rock, yet it didn't so much as put a scratch on the barrier, though it was enough to elicit and immediate reaction.
The chains loosened for just a second, but it was enough for him to press his hands together to form his unconventional hand seal and take another page out of the Nidaime's book. "Tajū Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"
A riot of clones burst into existence and temporarily loosened the chains long enough for him to escape his bindings. The petite Hotaru, surged his way with unveiled killing intent and jumped high as she aimed for him.
He took off immediately, using his Wind God's Flight to get out range, and just in time as, to his utter shock, the Uzumaki girl punched a sizeable crater in the ground he had just stood on. 'She's no Tsunade but I've go to be careful.'
Saburo and Nobuo combined their own chains to dispatch his remaining clones whilst Atsushi wrapped his own chains around Hotaru's waist and launched her in the sky like a catapult.
It was an unusual move but it would take a lot hell of a lot more to surprise him. Naruto was ready for the girl and ruthlessly picked her back the ground, further deepening the crater she had created. The Uzumaki girl proved to be as durable as she was powerful and got up almost immediately, merely shaking her head to regain her bearings.
He remained hovering in the sky, a dark look in his eyes. He was angry – no, he was furious with Atsushi's remarks, and every fiber in his being wished to make him pay, but he knew they had him at a severe disadvantage. They were fresh whereas he had expended most of his chakra waging a one man war against an entire shinobi village. His eyes wandered to where Sōgen lied on his back still. The Shogun wasn't as vulnerable of a target as he looked, however, for the Uzumaki would surely be upon him if he attacked.
'It's still worth a shot,' he decided as he formed the Kage Bunshin seal again and created ten clones, each hovering in front of him with dual Whirlwind Lances. It was a far cry from his usual numbers but it had to be done. 'I'll distract them while you take out Sōgen,' he conveyed mentally as he channeled a significant remainder of his chakra to his fists and began to punch the air as though performing another Whirlwind Fist. "Fūton: Yagura!"
In a way, he was. The principles of his Senpūken, like with his Oniken, made up the foundation for his Turret. With every punch he hurled a blast of compacted air at his opponents. The Uzumaki guards scattered to evade. Atsushi didn't so much as move an inch, supremely confident as the ground around him exploded in small chunks of debris and dust.
The bulky Uzumaki, Nobuo, wrapped his chains around Hotaru and hurled her into the sky for a second time, although this time making good use of his brute as she came flying with considerably greater speed.
'Again? Well, come and get it, bitch!' Naruto aimed another kick for Hotaru as he relented his bombardment.
She reacted quicker this time, and pushed off his shin like a springboard as she scaled over him and restrained him with her own chakra chains, using them to bind his arms behind his back and wound his legs together. He knew his situation was dire, that he had been careless, but she wasn't done yet, and began pulling him down with her with deceptive strength that continued to shock as they plummeted.
Naruto crashed to the ground on his back with great force. He spat a mouthful of blood as he felt his back break on impact. Despite the agonising pain he was still aware of his clones falling at the hands of Atsushi's giant chains swirling in a protective manner over Sōgen. Had it been worth it to try and take out the leader of Kusa? He didn't feel like answering that question though he knew the answer.
Hotaru drove a knee in his gut as she landed on top of him, forcing out another mouthful of blood as she increased efforts to restrain him with her chains. The other Uzumaki guards joined their chains with hers and suspended him several feet above ground, forming a four point perimeter.
Atsushi sneered at the display. "Well, isn't this a pitiful sight for Konoha's jinchūriki."
Naruto struggled to breathe, much less speak. Judging from feeling alone, he could add internal bleeding to his growing list of injuries. He would have swallowed his pride and called forth the Kyūbi's chakra if he could but found that to be impossible. It was as though the Uzumaki chains were restraining the bijū's chakra. They were so dense and heavy. He felt four different chakra signatures smother his own as they restrained him. Unpleasant didn't even begin to describe it.
"What do we do with him?" Saburo asked from his corner idly sitting on large chunk of debris once part of a concrete building. "If we extract the bijū now it'll accelerate our plans quite a bit but what do we do with him after it is done? Sōgen never planned on handing the bijū over to Akatsuki."
"Niisama," Honoka looked to her brother pleadingly. "Remember your promise."
"Don't worry, dear sister. I remember," Atsushi scowled at her, and then sighed regarding Saburo. "He's a mutt but he still has Uzumaki blood flowing in his veins." Atsushi molded chakra in his hands and fiery skull-shaped apparitions appeared on his fingertips as he approached the jinchūriki. "If he survives extraction he may be useful as a slave."
"You want to do it here and now?" Saburo laughed in obnoxious fashion like a hyena. "If we were ever going to renege on our agreement with the old Shogun now would be a good time."
Atsushi allowed a small patronising smile. "Don't move, it'll only hurt more that way." The fiery apparitions on the self-proclaimed Uzumaki clan leader grew more prominent and ominous with every step.
'Well, fuck that.' What little resistance Naruto could muster, futile as it was, stirred something inside of him. An invigorating power, foreign and unidentifiable, yet somehow intimately familiar, rushed through his entire body and exploded outwards in a storm of sizeable chakra chains that dwarfed those of his captors, casting off their chains with a wave of power as immense at it was brief. It was all he needed.
"Impossible!" Atsushi exclaimed in shock from a safe distance, an angry and confused snarl on his face. "You're a half blood!"
Naruto didn't hear him. He didn't hear a sound except for one.
An echo… a voice and warmth so comforting and accepting he didn't want it to ever leave him.
The foreign chains coiled around him as they faded. He felt a yanking sensation in his seal, and shortly after, the familiar sensation of the Kyūbi's chakra flowing through his body and mending his broken bones and healing his wounds. It was as though the mysterious power dwelling inside him had forcibly commandeered the bijū's power against its will.
Naruto wasn't about to question who or what just saved his hide. His first instinct was to call Senzaru.
Instead, Gamahiro came crashing down from the heavens, sporting a handful of injuries of his own, and flattening the ground beneath his weight into a sizeable crater as he swung his dual swords, catching the Uzumaki off guard and forcing them to retreat to a safe distance. "Let's go!" the warrior toad boomed leveling the flat side of his sword.
Naruto didn't need to be told twice and jumped on the flat side of the extended blade as Gamahiro launched him high into the sky where Senzaru intercepted his descent, dipping under him with spread wings. He had never been as glad to see either of them as he was in that moment.
The falcon could sense his sentiments. "You looked like you needed saving, Naruto-sama."
"You have no idea," Naruto replied as he looked back.
Gamahiro made himself scarce with another giant leap, successfully undoing the chains that had begun to restrain him. One of the Falcon Lord's honour guard swept down to retrieve the toad.
Naruto released a relieved sigh and lay down on the falcon's back. "Get us out of here, Senzaru."
"We anticipated you would say this, Naruto-sama," the young falcon said. "Look ahead."
In the distance, the warrior falcons were painstakingly carrying the warrior toads out of the village, albeit it at a much slower pace. They even took care to recover their fallen brother. Hayatsume carried Gamabunta and another warrior toad by himself and lead the cast with a significant lead still. The Falcon Lord and Toad Chieftain were discussing something but he couldn't hear.
"As soon as we are able, Gamabunta-sama and Father will disperse with their guards. I will personally see to your return to Konoha," Senzaru informed.
Naruto could only nod as he lied on his back, his mind still reeling with revelations. Sōgen still drew breath and would likely be on the move as soon as he was able. War was inevitable now. As much as he wanted to turn back and finish the man off, he knew that to be impossible. He had reached his limit, and pushing any further now would be foolish and ill considered. Sōgen would have to die another time, and likely on the battlefield.
'I failed to stop the war before it even began,' Naruto thought somberly. 'But I did my best,' he acknowledged. 'Now I'll have to try and prevent as much bloodshed as I can.'
It was a crystalising moment for him. It was true he had failed to meet his objective, and it was true that war would undoubtedly come now, and yet it was also true that it had not been for a lack of effort. He had done what he could with the variables of the situation given to him. In the past he would have likely beaten himself up over it for weeks on end – months even, however now he realised he did not have that luxury. He did not have the luxury of time for berating himself or regrets. He had to look forward and make the best of his situation.
"Naruto-sama, I sense a chakra signature in the forest below. It is distinctly similar to your own."
"Oh, fuck." Naruto sat up and looked down. They were too high and the forest was too thick to see through, but if one of the Uzumaki had closed in on them, they would have to be dealt with quickly. "Tell the others to go ahead. I'll deal with this one alone."
Senzaru nodded and squawked to the distance to the other falcons.
Naruto didn't wait for a response and jumped off the falcon's back. He made his descent with carefully measured airstreams, aiming for the red-haired individual in his sights, softening his landing only somewhat as he caught his victim by surprise.
Naruto restrained the red-haired girl with frightening ease, pinning her arms behind her back despite her futile resistance. It was almost too easy. "Don't fucking move!"
"Get off me!" the girl screamed at the top of her lungs. "I'm not interested in you! I'm high-tailing it out of here while I can!"
"What?" Naruto raised an eyebrow as he bound Karin with ninja wire. It was only then that he realised she was different from the Uzumaki he had encountered in Kusagakure. "You're deserting Kusagakure – who are you?"
"I'm not a part of Kusagakure, I'm a part of the Uzumaki clan!" the bespectacled girl trashed pointlessly. "Now get off me!"
Intrigued to say the least, Naruto whistled and called his falcon familiar. "What's your name?"
"None of your fucking business!"
"You can either tell me and get a ride out of here or be left behind tied up and at the mercy of whoever finds you," Naruto threatened bluntly. "I imagine your asshole clan leader won't be pleased with you."
The Uzumaki girl grudgingly grunted her name. "Karin."
Naruto recognised the name as he lifted her off the ground just as Senzaru touched down. "I've got some questions I'd like you to answer."
"You take me with you to Konoha and I'll tell you whatever you want to know," Karin said.
Naruto furrowed his brows with suspicion, curious over her lack of resistance. "You want to come with me to Konoha?"
"That's what I said, didn't I?" Karin replied testily. "We better get going then, cousin."
"Cousin?" Naruto furrowed his brows at her. 'Did she just identify my chakra?'
"Oh, please. Your chakra is undeniably similar to my own. Only an Uzumaki has that strong chakra," the irate girl elaborated before he could voice his surprise. "Atsushi is closing in on us. He'll be here in moments."
Naruto was genuinely impressed. "You can sense him all the way from here?"
"Yes, now let's go before he gets here!"
"Well, okay then. Let's get going, cousin."
Fukasaku continued to bang away on the crystal ball with annoyance, a bulging vein on his head. "Work, damn you!" The toad stopped to catch his breath and then raised his webbed appendage once more just as the crystal began to flicker.
"Fukasaku, what are you doing to my crystal that I loaned you?" the Great Toad Sage said slightly amused.
"Ōgama-sama!" Fukasaku exclaimed relieved. "What happened?"
Tsunade approached the sphere and dipped her head respectfully in acknowledgement of the ancient toad. "Ōgama-sama, is Naruto OK?"
"The boy is fine," the Great Toad Sage croaked with a mystifying smile on his toothless visage. "He doesn't seem to play nice with his own kin however."
"His kin?" Tsunade's confusion lasted only for a second. "I see… This complicates things."
"Fukasaku, you must return," the ancient toad croaked. "A summit has been called."
Fukasaku nodded gravely. "I see. I will return shortly, Ōgama-sama."
The senile being nodded his large head and then turning to address Tsunade, said, "Young lady, there was a brief window during which I could see Jiraiya-chan."
"How is he?" Tsunade said quickly and with overt concern though she cared little for appearances at that moment. "Is he OK?"
"It was only for a brief moment and he seemed to be in good spirits. His presence is obscured by the same powers that obscured them moments ago… powerful fūinjutsu the kind of which that has not been seen or spoken of openly for quite some time by human standards."
"Then it's true," Koharu spoke up, her frowning race scrunched with wrinkles. "Sōgen has allied himself with the Uzumaki."
"I thought the Uzumaki were dead," Uzuki Yūgao said from behind her mask. "Hokage-sama?"
"That is a conversation for another time," Tsunade decided with a mindful look to her apprentice. "Sakura, you're free to go. If you see Kakashi, tell him to report to me immediately."
"She has heard too much, Tsunade," Koharu protested. "Surely you don't mean to let her go now without swearing her to secrecy."
"Koharu is right," Danzō agreed sneering at the rosette. Sakura visibly flinched under his one-eyed glare. "But you have no intention of swearing her to secrecy, do you?"
"It would hardly do to keep this victory from our people," Tsunade said smirking with a glance to Shikaku. "This is a good thing for all of us, Danzō, you should be pleased."
"I'm ecstatic," Danzō drawled sarcastically.
Shikaku looked to his fellow department heads. "It goes without saying nothing regarding the Uzumaki clan's involvement leaves this room. We need to carefully evaluate our next steps."
"Then I will leave you to it and return to Mount Myōboku now," Fukasaku said picking up the crystal ball. "I will make sure Ōgama-sama gives Katsuyu-sama your love."
"Please do," Tsunade said as the toad disappeared with a puff of smoke. "Run along now, Sakura. And remember…"
"Not a word about the Uzumaki clan," Sakura nodded her understanding. "I'll be on my way then, Tsunade-sama." The rosette bowed out of the room excruciatingly aware of the eyes following her.
Tsunade watched the door close and cleared her throat as she addressed her top shinobi. "This is a crucial time. I am well aware you all have questions you want answers to but we have a lot of work to do and little time to spare so I suggest we get to it and reconvene in a few hours. Hiashi-dono, I'm counting on the Military Police to increase their vigilance."
"Our first order of business will be to close the village gates," the Hyūga clan leader said. "The Hyūga clan's best will be closely rotating shifts from the time being."
"Very well," Tsunade turned to the Nara clan head. "We will need to recall our shinobi currently on missions for the time being."
Shikaku nodded once. "Understood. Wartime measures and protocols will roll out in due time."
I hope you enjoyed that and would like to once again apologise that it took so long.
I actually had to cut out the Twelve Deva's meeting for this chapter because it simply wasn't coming together the way I wanted it to so I decided to push it to the next chapter.
Before any of you freaks out, the Uzumaki characters aren't just there to fill space. They're not meant to be these overpowered characters that simply exist only to challenge Naruto. No, they exist because I got it in my head that it would be fun to explore this universe a bit more with regards to the Uzumaki clan. The manga hardly mentions them because it simply isn't relevant to overarching story. In this story, I'm aiming to make Naruto understand the shinobi world a great deal more, and part of that has to do with Kusagakure and the Uzumaki clan.
The story as a whole will be gearing up in a lot of ways. I have the summer off so I'm hoping to churn out a few more chapters, though I will be focusing a lot more on other stories that I've been wanting to write for ages. So look forward to that if you'd like.
Drop me a review and let me known what you think of the chapter.
(1) Consider this something along the lines of Naruto's equivalent to Susanoo. Hashirama had his Wood God. Naruto has his Fūjin. Let's see how that'll develop over time.
(2) A call back to chapter 17. I wonder how many of you saw this coming.
(3) Honoka is a filler character from episode 227 of Naruto Shippūden. She was heavily implied to have been an Uzumaki. In this story, she is the younger sister of Atsushi. Honoka and her Uzumaki kin will be heavily featured for the next arc or two so look forward to getting to know them.
(Fūton: Yagura – Turret) – B rank, offensive, long range. Derived from the principles behind his Senpūken, this jutsu fires a barrage of compacted air projectiles at breakneck speeds, capable of levelling an entire building made of concrete within seconds. Parent jutsu: Senpūken (Whirlwind Fist).
(Makaze: Oniken – Evil Wind: Demon Fist) – ? rank, offensive, short range. A bijū chakra infused Senpūken that is considerably more powerful than its ordinary counterpart. Parent jutsu: Senpūken (Whirlwind Fist).
(Uzumaki-Ryū Fūin Kekkai: Mugen Suikomiguchi – Uzumaki Style Sealing Barrier: Infinite Maw) – S rank, supplementary, all ranges. Ranking amongst the most powerful Uzumaki sealing techniques the Infinite Maw is considered to be an impenetrable defence, sucking in all that stands before it into the abyss of nothingness.
(Fūton: Fūjin no Itazarufukuro – Wind God's Bag of Mischief) – S rank, offensive, all ranges. The pinnacle of Uzumaki Naruto's mastery over fūton jutsu that calls forth an apparition of the Fūjin to release a devastating barrage of countless miniscule wind projectiles that inflict irreversible damage on cellular level. Upon witnessing its terrifying power and high risk, Sarutobi Hiruzen classified the jutsu as an S-ranked kinjutsu and forbid Naruto to use it outside of extraordinary circumstances.
(Suiton: Suidanha – Water Severing Wave) – B rank, offensive, mid range. A simple yet effective jutsu created by the Nidaime Hokage, the Waver Severing Wave is powerful technique with great potential in conjunction with the element of surprise. It is capable of slicing through solid rock.