Copyright Notice:The following is an original fanfiction story. While this is an original story adaptation, the characters in this story and some of the events portrayed are the work of the original authors. Naruto and all the characters originating in Konoha, are the intellectual property of Masashi Kishimoto. Characters from the Tenchi universe are owned by Masaki Kajishima and Hiroki Hayashi.
Chapter One: No Need for Nine Tails
Konoha, The Hidden Village of the Leaf. This small bustling town situated deep in one of the great forests of the Land of Fire was home to many secrets. The open secret, known even by most simple villagers in surrounding lands and by enemies of the nation alike, was that Konoha was the home and training grounds for several clans of ninja who operated under the authority of the Land of Fire's Feudal Lord. A far better kept secret, one kept closely guarded under pain of death by all Konoha's inhabitants who knew of it, was that the village was the home of a Demon Fox known as the Nine Tailed Demon, or Kyuubi no Kitsune, trapped within the body of one of the ninja in training. The ninja's name was Naruto Uzumaki, a boy about whom were many secrets. Many of these nobody on the face of the earth, and especially not him, knew.
But they were all about to find out.
"Hey! Sakura-chan, now that we've completed our mission, will you go out with me?" Naruto Uzumaki asked, his wide blue eyes staring hopefully, as he followed a step behind a girl with bright pink hair. Naruto, dressed uncomfortably in a bright orange track suit with blue on the shoulders and white around the collar, was staggering under the weight of a stack of logs he was carrying in two arms.
"No way, Naruto-idiot!" the girl, Sakura, said fiercely as she pounded him on the head with one fist. She paid no attention to him as the heavy logs he was carrying slipped from his grasp and fell onto his toes, causing him to yelp comically in pain and try to rub both his feet and head at the same time. "When we get back to the village, I'm going out with Sasuke-kun! Isn't that right, Sasuke?"
The dark haired boy in white shorts and a hip, dark blue T-shirt rolled his eyes at the girl's antics. His arms were piled with logs as well, one more than the orange wearing ninja was carrying and seven times as many as Sakura, who had one small, thin log tucked under her arms. Sasuke Uchiha, despised these D-Rank missions, but there was no way in hell he was going to let Naruto out-perform him. Even though there were five exact duplicates of Naruto carrying six logs each, Sasuke was secure in the knowledge that he could manage one more than the original "dead last" of their ninja academy graduating class. And Sasuke had not dropped any of the logs on his feet, unlike Naruto. The idiot.
Their ninja trainer, an elite jounin, or senior rank ninja, trudged behind them carrying a book held up to his face and reading as they traveled. Kakashi-sensei was almost always immersed in his favorite book series, though that did not make him much less of an effective trainer. He had taken three hopelessly mismatched rookie ninja, or genin as they were referred to in the shinobi world, and managed to turn them into a functional team. Barely functional, but at least when it came right down to it they would stand up for each other and cover for each others' mistakes. They were a far cry from achieving any real semblance of team unity or spirit, to speak nothing of actual synergy, but Kakashi could tell they were just beginning to gel. If nothing were to happen to screw this all up.
Such as the other pair finding out that Naruto had a demon sealed inside of him from birth.
Team Seven, the designation for Kakashi and his rookie team, checked in at the gates of Konoha and unloaded their burden of building materials for the local craftsman who had paid for their mission. The team leader told the team to take the afternoon off while he went to report of the mission success to the Hokage, the head ninja and protector of the entire village, whose authority was only superseded by the Feudal Lord. Kakashi hoped the three rookie ninja would spend the afternoon together, of their own volition.
For once, his hope was nearly realized. Nearly. Sakura mentioned how starving she was, just before the stomachs of the two boy genin produced a rumbling sound from their stomachs that could be heard halfway to the village gates.
"I'm in a mood for teppanyaki. What do you say, Sasuke?" Sakura nearly crooned as she leaned her head over to the boy she had an almost hopeless crush on.
The boy grunted, with a "hnh" sound that was his typical response to anything he felt was a hassle, which represented nearly all human interaction that didn't involve training or completing a mission. But then he changed his mind and shrugged his shoulders. "I could go for some grilled meat." And then a couple of beats later he added, "Wanna join us, dead last?"
"Dead last" was Sasuke's insulting nickname for Naruto, the graduate who scored lowest among the ninja graduates. The term rankled the orange clad ninja, especially because he couldn't deny either that or that Sasuke was the top of the class. But this time, rather than get pissed off and say something rash, the young ninja ignored the jibe and caught hold of the offer and was happy to take his normally truculent teammate up on his offer.
"Well, it's not delicious ramen, but I guess I could go along with you two," he said as he followed behind his teammates with a grin plastered over his face. Naruto loved ramen. LOVED it. But for a chance to spend time with his teammates as equals? He could eat something else, at least just this once.
Sakura looked at Sasuke in consternation. "Sasuke-kun, why did you have to invite the idiot along? I thought it would be good for just us two to go together…"
Sakura received a side glance from the object of her affection and she could see the annoyed look in his eyes. "That idiot," Sasuke began, "did a hundred times more work on our mission than you did today. So, why would I want to spend time just with you?" Sasuke saw the hurt look in Sakura's eyes and walked on for a few more steps. With a sigh, he relented. "But I think it would be good for our teamwork to do some things together."
It was a little uncharacteristic of Sasuke, so it certainly took both Sakura and Naruto by surprise that the prickly loner was making the effort. It was a nice surprise, though, and the spikey-haired blond in the orange track suit was now in an especially spirited mood. He exuberantly bounded down the street to get cleaned up from the mission cutting and carrying the wood. His home was a little farther away from the restaurant they had decided to eat at, so he ran extra fast to try and get there and changed before the other two went in to eat.
Naruto raced back to where they were supposed to all meet in front of the restaurant. It had taken him a little longer than he had expected so he looked around for the rest of Team 7, but neither Sasuke nor Sakura were there.
"Hey, old waiter-guy!" Naruto loudly called out to the man at the door.
The restaurant owner heard the voice, turned around, and stiffened. A look of absolute loathing crossed the man's face and Naruto could see his features tighten. What the boy couldn't see was the scar that ran down from his hip to his knee. It was that scar that had destroyed the man's career as shinobi, a scar he had received in the battle with the Demon Fox, and that was what he was thinking of when he looked at Naruto.
"What the hell do you want, brat?" the man said with an angry voice that Naruto knew all too well.
But he wouldn't let that bother him today. He was having a meal with his team! "I'm looking for my teammates, Sakura-chan and Sasuke…" Naruto checked himself before he almost added the more respectful 'kun' suffix to his rival's name. "We were supposed to meet here for dinner."
"They are already inside," the man informed him.
"Oh, good, then I'll…" Naruto made to enter the restaurant, but the man stepped in front of him, blocking his path.
"We don't serve your kind here," the man said menacingly.
Under normal circumstances, Naruto would have just taken the abuse and walked away. In fact, he wouldn't have even tried to go into a restaurant like this in the first place, having learned long ago that this was the sort of reception he would get from most places. But today was different. He was having dinner with his team. So, he argued.
"Look, old waiter-guy, my teammates are waiting on me inside. I'm a shinobi of Konoha like them and we just got back from a mission…"
"You?" the man said with venom, "a shinobi? You're no ninja. You're a…" the thought, choosing his words, "…a freak. You don't belong here. So, get out of here and don't try and come back to my restaurant."
Naruto cringed away from the insult for a moment, but only for a moment. "No way, old man!" he shouted. "I'm going in to see my friends. And one day when I'm Hokage, you're going to regret what you said to me today!" Naruto puffed himself up and prepared to push past the man.
"Hokage? You? Nobody in the village cares about you, why would they make you Hokage? And your 'friends'?" he said, dangling the line out there for Naruto, "They went in without you on purpose. They knew you couldn't come in after them. They just want to watch while you suffer." The restaurant owner got a nasty glint in his eyes and added in a low tone, so that nobody around could hear, "Who would want to be on a team with a demon like you?"
Naruto's eyes opened wide, his heart wanting to deny the man's harsh words. All he wanted was to go in and be acknowledged as a fellow ninja, as a teammate by Sasuke and Sakura; it didn't matter if she called him an idiot, or Sasuke called him dead last. And it wouldn't matter if the whole town mocked and scorned him. If only those two acknowledged him.
But then Naruto caught sight of the restaurant's window and saw his two teammates sitting there at the table. Sakura was laughing, putting her hands on Sasuke. And the Uchiha boy had a slight little smile on his face.
Naruto's shoulders slumped and he turned to walk away.
Night was coming on in Konoha. The wind rustled in the trees around the village. Shadows grew longer and deeper. It was the perfect time for the ANBU, Konoha's elite stealth ninja and loyal forces of the Hokage, to be out protecting the village and watching all the things that needed watching. One of those things, was the container of the Demon Fox, Naruto Uzumaki.
He was sitting alone outside the Ninja Academy grounds on a small tree swing. It was his lonely place, where almost every day for years he had sat waiting for some other kid to come up and want to play with him. It had happened a few times, but each time the child's parents would hastily come and scoop their child up and tell them to never play with "that… boy" again.
It was here in this lonely place that Naruto had discovered that he had another place, all of his own. A place where none of the villagers could reach him with their hurtful stares or cruel words. It was like a small forest, very similar to the one around the Hidden Village of the Leaf, but rather than being a place he could walk out to, it was a place he had to climb inward to reach. Today, as the animal mask wearing ANBU team watched him from afar, they had no way of knowing where Naruto was really going.
If they had known, they might have silently slit his throat.
Within the forest of Naruto's mind, a cheerful place full of birds and sunlight, there was a dark corner of the woods where there were no trees and the lush grass stopped growing. At the center this one spot, surrounded by stone, was a dark cave with an iron door blocking the entryway. Every time he came to visit his own private happy glade, he was inevitably drawn back to this dark spot of his soul. The place he was forbidden to go.
But now something was different. Something had broken in him when he had seen Sakura laughing and Sasuke smiling in that restaurant. His hopes of being acknowledged by his team had gotten him so high, that when he had come crashing down it had been one of the sharpest emotional blows of his life, a life that had no shortage of emotional blows. As he looked upon the iron gate over the cave, he realized that the thing that had given way within him was the secure lock that had been placed on this forbidden area.
Naruto had once told the Hokage, the third person to ever hold that title, of his little place in his mind. Hiruzen Sarutobi was one of the few people in the village Naruto knew actually cared about him. So, when the elderly ninja sternly admonished him not to try to go looking down in that cave, Naruto had listened. Until today.
The gate opened as he approached it. The young ninja, his youthful face marked by six whisker-like lines radiating outward from his nose and mouth area, climbed through hole and downward into the pitch black. Naruto didn't know how long he climbed down, but after a while his eyes adjusted to the blackness and he continued going as the cave sloped sharply downward until at last he came to level surface, way down deep, in his soul's Abyss. Not that he was aware of exactly where he had climbed, but this place felt like his emotions just now.
But then, abruptly, Naruto encountered a wall of stone in front of him. It was odd, this wall, and Naruto frowned at it. He was not expecting to be blocked here; it wasn't a natural part of his little world. As the young shinobi looked, the details of the wall became clearer to him. It was carved in intricate detail, with odd signs that looked similar to chakra seals, but not quite like anything he had seen before. In the center of the design was the form of a massive tree, though not one he had ever seen around Konoha. Naruto reached out to trace the lines. The boy pushed against the wall, wanting to see what lay beyond.
The wall crumbled.
As soon as it did so, Naruto heard the sound of laughter, melodious laughter. It came again. Menacing melodious laughter.
Naruto looked ahead and saw… another wall, with the same tree symbol and even more intricate carvings than the first. But then he saw something else. Something was coming through the stone wall, something like a ghost. With burning red eyes. A ghost, or a demon.
Naruto scrambled back up the way he came, shooting back up through the cave of the Abyss within his mind, back out of the gate. He hurriedly closed it back, and forced the lock back on to it. Then he fled back into conscious thought.
The ANBU watched as the young demon container suddenly jerked, then looked around in fear. One of them smirked. The kid must have had a nightmare. Served him right. Then, with a sigh, the masked ninja followed the boy as he ran off away from the Ninja Academy and the solitary swing that stood outside it.
Naruto's heart was pounding within his chest. Even after two hours, he still felt his pulse racing. But at last he was home and nothing had happened. Nothing had happened, he repeated again to himself for the dozenth time.
"Get a grip on yourself, Naruto!" he scolded himself. "You're a ninja. You aren't afraid of silly dreams or stories about demon foxes." Then with a sigh he went back to—
There was a movement from the corner of his eye. The blond haired demon container spun and flung a kunai, a dagger-like ninja weapon with one long blade, sometimes set between two smaller blades in more exotic designs such as those used by the Fourth Hokage, designed for inflicting greater damage than either shuriken or senbon. He hit his mark, which was not surprising at this range even for him. Unfortunately, his mark just happened to be just a spot on his wall. "Oh man," Naruto said to himself, shaking his head while he pulled the weapon out of the cheap plaster. "The landlady is gonna make me pay for that. She'll have the whole wall redone now." He grumbled as he examined the damage.
"I don't know," a voice said from behind him. "I kind of like it better that way."
Naruto spun around with his eyes wide. Sitting on his old wooden dresser was a woman dressed from head to toe in a flowing silver robe that was beautifully trimmed in traditional designs with shades of blue. She had long, beautiful gray hair that flowed out from her head in thick spikes, stretching as far down as her back in places. But what really caught Naruto's attention were her eyes. She had eyes that were burning red. Exactly like the eyes of the demon in his dream. At least, he hoped it had been a dream.
"I've been trapped," she was saying quietly, in a sad voice that had the young ninja pitying her. "Trapped in a dark, dark place for so long I can't even remember."
It sounded a lot like how he felt most of the time. Naruto stood there, frozen in place before managing to get out a response, "Oh, um, I'm really sorry for what happened to you..."
The sad voice was suddenly gone. "I don't want sorry, brat!" she yelled, going from calmly sitting on his dresser to flying across the room towards him in an instant. "I want REVENGE!"
Naruto narrowed his eyes. Demons in his soul he didn't know what to do about. Sad, hurt looking women in revealing clothes sitting on his dresser talking about how hard their experience has been he didn't know what to do about. Crazy people jumping after him wanting revenge? That he knew how to handle.
Naruto flung two more kunai straight at her and rolled around to the right to get a better attack angle. He watched in surprise, though as the twin blades passed right through her. His eyes went wider when her hand suddenly exploded in a strange power and a rod of glowing red energy formed in her hands and lengthened out to the size of a katana. He blocked it with another kunai pulled rapidly from one of the pouches in his track suit, but to his dismay, the energy blade sliced through his weapon almost as if he didn't have one at all. And then she formed a ball of power in her hand.
Naruto did the only thing he could think of. He jumped out the window of his house, four stories above ground level. He was glad he did when his entire apartment erupted in massive flames, exploding out into the street. The blond haired ninja landed on his feet and tucked into a roll to absorb the force of the impact. He fluidly pulled out of the roll and turned to look at the damage done to the building.
"Oh man. I'm never paying the landlady back for this. I'll end up being her slave."
Naruto wondered about the feeling of power that radiated from the crazy demon lady who had just blown up his apartment. It wasn't like any other chakra he had ever felt before. It somehow felt… raw. Rather than being unnatural, it was as if it was even more natural than what he and other ninjas used for their ninjutsu techniques. And it was frighteningly both in power and in the emotional feel. It felt like the killer intent of high level ninja, but only more intense and much wilder.
Naruto watched in surprise as the woman from his apartment floated out from the burning room, looking around outside before seeing him. The young ninja watched as the strange gray-haired woman flew towards him, brandishing her energy blade with a loud roar. She was flying towards him fast. Too fast.
The woman's energy beam pierced right through the spikey-blond haired ninja. The woman blinked for a second as she stood there with the weapon through Naruto's chest. "Huh, I thought you would have tried to dodge or something," she muttered in frank surprise.
That was when the image of the young ninja disappeared in a puff of smoke and revealed that the angry woman had pierced an over-sized piece of wood. The woman's face twisted into a bewildered expression for a moment, before the expression quickly turned to one of pain.
A pair of shuriken struck her from behind.
"No way I'm dying against a stupid old granny-demon like you!" came a brash voice shouting from behind her. "Now get ready for me to kick your a..." The boy blinked for a second as he looked at the woman's rear. "You have a tail."
"Of course I have a tail, you little punk! But never mind that. Who are you calling old?" Fire literally burst from her eyes as she clenched her hands angrily in a fist. "I'm a beautiful woman, how dare you!"
And then the woman was charging at Naruto, no longer holding an energy blade, but with fists that glowed with a gold and reddish aura blended together. The ninja smirked and yelled out the words of his favorite technique.
"Kage bunshin no jutsu!"
A hundred copies of Naruto, shadow clones, immediately filled the street and charged from all directions right back at the flying woman. Each clone looked exactly like the teenage shinobi and fought with his exact same strength and skill. Which, unfortunately for him, was only at best average for the typical Konoha ninja his age. But at least they were faster than most ninja, and in great numbers could overwhelm a low to mid-level opponent.
"Oh, how shameful. A powerful ninja like you attacking little old me, a hundred against one? What kind of gentleman would do a thing like that?" she asked as she put one hand on her cheek in a mock affectation of a damsel in distress. But as the first of the clones approached, each now with a confused look in their eyes, the fake pout turned into a snarl.
"HA!" she cried out, releasing of burst of energy all around her that radiated outward as a visible bubble of chakra.
The clones nearest her exploded into clouds of nothing as the energy struck them. Then the woman went on a tear, smashing her fists through shadow clones all around her. The battle between her and the clones was over in seconds, with all the clones dispelled and not a single hit on the angry woman.
"Now, let's see how the real you likes a taste of that!" the woman said, still snarling.
There was a sudden motion, and a pair of masked ANBU ninja charged out of their hiding places to intercept the mad woman, dashing towards her from two different directions. Each wore a white porcelain mask of an animal. That was, they wore them until the woman smashed her fist through the masks and bloodied their faces. The two special shinobi were sent flying back down to the ground in a heap.
"That's what you get for interfering in a woman's revenge!" she yelled. Then she turned back to face Naruto once more. Only the ninja in the orange jumper was no longer there. "Hey, where'd you go?" she yelled angrily.
"Over here, stupid granny demon!" Naruto said from behind her holding several large shuriken in his hands.
She turned with a smirk. She watched as he threw them all simultaneously only to see them all fly wide, below, or above her. She didn't even make a move to block. She started to laugh when she heard a "poof" sound from all around her, and she was suddenly being held by her arms and legs and had a kunai to her throat from behind.
The woman laughed. It was the same menacing laugh Naruto had heard before when he had smashed that wall within the cave. The five Naruto clones turned their heads towards the woman with a questioning look, wondering what would make her laugh that way. But then the strange woman seemed to fade away, leaving the five clones holding nothing. Just as suddenly, though, she was back and all five were instantly destroyed by movement the rookie ninja could barely even see.
"Do you really think a trick like that could beat me?" she growled out. "Do you know who I am, kid?"
Naruto glared at her from his position fifteen feet away. "Sure I do. You're that stupid demon fox that attacked my village when I was born. You're the reason everyone hates me. Old granny demon!" he snarled.
The woman's laugh died and her eyes took on a dangerous glint. "I have a name, you know."
Naruto's glare didn't ease up in the least. "Yeah, you're the Kyuubi no Kitsune."
"A beautiful Nine-Tailed Demon Fox is what I am. It's not my name."
Naruto waited, his body tense.
"Ryoko," she said. "That's my name."
"Ryoko?" Naruto said, his mouth twisting into a frown. "But why do they call you a 'nine-tailed demon fox?" he asked quizzically.
Her expression turned dubious, and slightly angry. "Because I'm a demon and I have nine tails of course!" she shouted. "See?"
She turned her body to show him, but then her eyes suddenly went completely wide. Waving behind her was a single red tail.
"HEY! Where are the rest of my tails!" she yelled again, her voice suddenly turning fierce again. "Give me the rest of my tails, you brat!" She floated down to the ground and stalked towards him with a furious expression.
Naruto clenched his fists together and stood his ground. "No way! I'm not giving you anything, stupid fox. I'm here to protect my village and I'll never let you destroy it!"
Ryoko, the currently one-tailed demon fox walked directly up to Naruto's face and stopped, glaring at him. Lightning flashed between their eyes, as the glaring match continued for several tense seconds. Until…
Ryoko's shoulders slumped. "Oh well. You win. Guess I'll go back to sleep alone in my cave."
And then she faded from sight, leaving the yellow haired boy with whisker marks on his face to stand there scratching his head.
The Third Hokage had watched all the events that had taken place transpire through a crystal ball on his desk. As soon as the ANBU had relayed the message of the disturbance, Hiruzen Sarutobi had dispatched a full squad to set up a perimeter around the area and monitored the situation. A smile played over his face as he watched the boy face down the demon that was still, for the most part, sealed inside him and bravely show his allegiance to Konoha.
The boy had the Will of Fire running strongly through him, despite all the ill so many of the village's inhabitants had wrongly done to him. And the village leader was pleased that so many of his trusted shinobi would be able to see him defend the village, to finally see the role the boy had silently been playing his entire life without complaint.
Sarutobi had hoped that he would never again see the face of that demon woman, but some things were just too much to be hoped for. Now that she had gained some measure of freedom from Naruto, they were all going to have to be much, much more careful. There was no telling how much trouble the demon would cause the village, even with only one tail. But at least through Naruto they could exercise a measure of control.
The old Hokage sighed. He was getting too old for this.
Once the ANBU had grilled the boy about what had happened inside his apartment for an hour, Naruto was finally directed to a new apartment where he could stay at least for the night. The boy thought it might have been his imagination, but it seemed the mostly silent, black robed ninja in the funny masks were actually friendlier to him than before. Which didn't make sense at all, because he had just been in a major incident involving a demon fox and an exploding apartment and all. He scratched his head.
He was going to have to thank the old man Hokage for settling things with his old landlady. He had been reassured that he wouldn't end up a slave to the old hag and that his rent would be paid for until this could all be straightened out, without him having to dip into his old frog money purse to pay for this.
Naruto slipped out of his orange track suit, one of the three identical outfits he owned, and turned off the light. He'd get up in the morning and meet up with his team for some training, or maybe even a mission. Too bad he couldn't tell them about how he'd kicked the ass of that stupid demon fox. That was an A-Class secret.
Thinking of the demon fox, Ryoko, he had to admit that she wasn't bad looking. Even if she was totally psychotic and an evil demon and all.
Naruto tsked at himself for the thought and slipped underneath the covers. He rolled over, trying to get the thought from his head when he felt something beside him. Something warm and soft. Something shaped like a woman.
Naruto ever so carefully pulled back the covers and flipped on the lamp by his bed.
"Hello, Naruto" Ryoko's voice purred to him from his pillow. "Come back to bed."
Naruto's frightened yell rang out, loud enough to be heard all the way to the Hokage Tower.
Author's Note: Thanks to zmanjz for alerting me to an inaccuracy in describing kunai. I was mistakenly describing a special variation (used by the Fourth) rather than the typical one which Naruto would be using.