Scorpion's Masterpiece

Eternal Beauty

The cave was moderately lit, with electric lamps powered by a gas generator and modest creature comforts. Nothing too extravagant, but not Spartan at all either. It was small, located out in the middle of the island that formed the devastated nation of Uzu no Kuni, the Land of Whirlpools, once home to Uzushiogakure no Sato, the Village Hidden among the Whirling Tides. Sasori could appreciate the symbolism of bringing his disciple here for the operation, where his clan once resided. After all, he was an artist. And where better to perform a massively complex sealing operation than the land that gave birth to the most powerful and feared of fuinjutsu practitioners?

It hadn't been at all hard to figure out the origins of his Magnum Opus. After the once-petulant brat had caught his attention, Sasori had instantly recognized his name as belonging to the Land of Whirlpools' most prominent ninja clan, and Kabuto, his ever-loyal agent, had located the records of a kunoichi with the same surname that matched up perfectly well, even her death perfectly corresponding with the birth-date of his disciple. There was no concrete evidence as to the father, but Sasori had his suspicions, based off of his disciple's own features. Sasori had informed his disciple of his known background upon their arrival in the Land, and had been pleased to see how his student kept a tight rein on his emotions, despite the shocking nature of the information.

At any rate, it was time to begin. Sasori had spent three years with his pupil, working through the massively complex seal array and surgery that this operation required. With Kabuto standing by to assist in surgery and provide aid in case of a medical emergency that was beyond the immediate capabilities of the second 'assistant', it had a moderately good chance of success. Alternatively, the entire operation could fail drastically: the surgical operations required the opening of the chest and cracking of the ribcage in order to attach the implants, with massive alterations to the subject's internal organs and especially his cardiovascular and nervous systems, even as seals were carved into his ribs and sternum. And after that, they would have to carefully remove his eyeballs in order to inscribe certain arrays into his sockets, and then reinsert them. Worse, due to the requirements, this all had to happen completely without anesthetic, as Sasori's disciple had to have a clear mind in order to properly adjust his chakra flow. Thankfully, retreating into his mindscape would spare the subject the worst of the pain.

Afterwards, following Kabuto closing and healing the ribcage and chest, Sasori would begin inscribing the seal array. This array was, in and of itself, a vastly complicated work, using everything from sweeping broad lines to miniscule calligraphy in a massive conglomeration of lesser seals that combined into an enormous piece of art that was yet only a part of a whole. It included seals to store excess chakra, seals to absorb and reroute chakra, seals to control the force of gravity on the subject, seals to alter the cerebral flows of chakra many experienced genjutsu masters wouldn't dare touch, seals to enhance the senses, and a singularly massive array on the back. And each one had to connect to a number of tenketsu, as the controlling signalers in a vast network. The entire array would, as a whole, be connected to all of the three-hundred and sixty-one tenketsu on the disciple's body. The paint used was a highly expensive chakra-conductive metallic ink, which by itself had required the hunting of bounties, generally A-rank missing-nin, to pay for; mixed with a liter of the subject's blood that had been slowly gathered over the course of the three months since they'd arrived at the Land of Whirlpools. The combined effect would greatly enhance the performance of the seals when activated, but the ink itself carried another complication, being intended for use on houses and other, non-organic, items, it was rather toxic when wet. And then, in order to achieve the greatest effect, the tenketsu themselves would require direct exposure to the ink, which is why there was a large number of acupuncture needles soaking in a pan of it to the side. Kabuto would have to carefully, precisely insert them ahead of Sasori's inscribing, timing it just right so that the subject would get the correct amount of exposure and coating. Too little, and the array's performance would be compromised, but too much and it might actually endanger the subject. And then there was the storage array on the back, which the disciple insisted on having carved, and seared into his flesh, along with the ink.

And even if he survived the surgery, if they inscribed the array without inadvertently poisoning him, everything could go wrong when they actually activated the seals. Any error, the slightest off-stroke of the brush, could result in a mistake that might tear apart the subject when they activated the array. Or might seem perfectly fine, until he tried to use one of the seals in a combat situation only for it to utterly fail, or worse, backfire explosively, or any other of a vast number of potential side-effects.

Sasori, after cataloguing the materials and ensuring the presence of all necessary tools, glanced at his disciple. The boy, who had grown taller than Sasori, was lying, completely nude; atop of a cot in turn set on a small stone dais Kabuto had raised using an Earth technique for the operation. He nodded.

And then they began. Unrolling a scroll, Sasori released the storage seal written on it, unsealing the freshly preserved corpse of one Kaguya Kimimaro, once Orochimaru's foremost servant and now donor for Sasori's greatest work. Both he and Kabuto started, scalpels cutting open their respective subject's torsos. The boy's face contorted into an excruciatingly pained grimace, before just barely relaxing as he retreated into his mindscape. Needing slightly less finesse than Kabuto, Sasori cut apart skin, muscle, and tendon before cracking open the ribcage and severing the Kaguya's heart from its nerves, veins and arteries, carefully retrieving the organ as Kabuto started opening the subject's ribcage. Sasori handed the heart to Kabuto as the med-nin started moving aside the subject's internals, as Sasori took his scalpel and carefully began carving seals directly into his disciple's ribcage, his smooth mechanical motions staying steady despite movement and avoiding interfering in Kabuto's work. The work was done quickly enough, Sasori stepping back to give Kabuto more room to cut nerves, veins and arteries and regenerate them in a way as to produce new connections for Kimimaro's heart to attach to. As soon as the heart was in place, Kabuto clicked the ribcage back together, green medical chakra flowing from his hands to delicately induce the cells to grow back together into a solid, coherent mass. Ligaments and tendons were reattached to the bones and muscles, and the flaps of skin were placed in their proper position, Kabuto healing the cuts back together with skill, leaving no hint behind of the massive surgery.

And then the work on the eyes began; precise incisions made on the eyelids that allowed Kabuto to simply pop the eyeballs out, neatly severing the nerves in a way that would allow him to reattach them perfectly well later on, as Sasori used a fine tool to engrave the seals into the sockets. That done, Kabuto replaced the eyes, healing them and the lids just as he had done with the chest. Now, it was time to inscribe the array. Kabuto reached for the acupuncture needles, plucking a few and beginning to insert them into the tenketsu, starting on the subject's right side, the closest to Sasori.

This part would have been infinitely more difficult if it weren't for the notes of one of the subject's past acquaintances, which while they had been more focused on repairing damage done to the tenketsu by Hyuuga Jyuuken strikes, allowed a reasonably skilled and experienced med-nin like Kabuto to more easily locate tenketsu, something only easily done with the Hyuuga's Byakugan. After forty-five seconds, Kabuto began removing as many needles as he placed, laying the used ones aside in a pan of water for cleaning. Sasori drew the brush out of the pot used as an inkwell, the mix of heavy metallic ink and his disciple's blood dripping for a moment before he began writing. Starting on a tenketsu on his student's right shoulder, Sasori drew out the intricate designs he'd helped develop in the depths of his disciple's mind, the nature of the mindscape giving them several hours for every one that passed in reality, more time to plan, to design, compensate and study that led to the masterpiece he was now creating.

His puppet body aided in this endeavor greatly. Without the chances of jitters or involuntary reactions to mess up his scribing, he was able to proceed more swiftly with the same degree of safety. That, combined with decades of scribing chakra thread anchors and control seals on his puppets, made the operation go much faster than it would otherwise, even keeping in mind the necessary time for the acupuncture needles to set. After an hour, the front of the disciple's torso and his arms was done, the red-black ink staying perfectly within the boundaries set by Sasori's brush, no running or drips to ruin the artistic masterpiece. Soon enough, the patterns spread to the head, forming networks of personality modulating, mental focusing and emotional suppressant seals, all set activated and deactivated at the will of the subject and fairly similar to the focusing seal Sasori had planted on his disciple four years ago. The boy hadn't been happy to learn about the parts of the seal that he hadn't been informed about, including the sexuality-suppressant, once the time to remove them for the operation had come. Similarly to his reaction to his past though, he was remarkably restrained.

Then, the work proceeded down, to his waist, Sasori studiously avoiding the stomach. He would deal with that area later, once the rest of the array was done.

The seal array continued to grow, around the subject's groin and down his legs, even to the soles of his feet before they were finished with the front. With that finished, they sat back and waited for the ink to dry, a half-hour, as Sasori rechecked the various component seals, and Kabuto monitored for any physiological disturbances, either from the heart transplant or the ink. After sufficient time passed, they flipped the subject over, and started working on his back. Acupuncture needles went in, and came out soon after, allowing Sasori to pass the brush over the bare flesh, drawing connections to the seals on the front, and leaving obvious connections to an as-yet nonexistent array in the middle of his disciple's back.

Soon enough, except for the large spot in the center, the back was finished, and Sasori laid the brush aside, drawing a small knife from the 'inkwell', soaked through with the ink. Calling up the design of this specific array, and how it fit into the big picture, Sasori made the first cut, connecting three tenketsu as he continued. Eventually, the overall shape of the array took form. Carved out of human hide, the array looked like eight fox tails running clockwise in a whirlpool, with a ninth and final tail curled up in the center as a facsimile of the Uzu Spiral that, to this day, was born on the backs of Konoha chunin and jonin. Once finished, Sasori took a scalpel, just as soaked in ink as the knife, and cut in the fine details that allowed the array to work properly. And then the time came to cauterize it. The sound of hissing, burning flesh filled the cavern, and Sasori was pleased to note that his disciple never once screamed.

The boy had very good discipline now.

Kabuto worked on the seal, healing any unnecessary burns and ensuring no complications. And then it was time for the final part. Flipping the subject onto his back again, Sasori retrieved the brush and started cautiously painting connections between the array and the Shiki Fuujin, the Dead Demon Consuming Seal. This was actually even more dangerous than the rest of the operation. Sasori had overlaid seals atop the legendary array, but had never before dared to try and alter it in the slightest. These alterations to connect it to the array were small gaps in the containment, that were Kyuubi to act now might become enormous gaping holes that allowed him to escape without consequence. If that happened, all of them were dead.

However, apparently Sasori's disciple had as good a rapport with the demon fox as he said, and the alteration proceeded without complication.

Now was the moment of truth. Kabuto stepped back, lacking the expertise to aid and getting far away enough that any possible malfunctions wouldn't claim his life.

"Seal!" Sasori intoned, feeling a powerful emotion as he pressed his hands atop the center of the array. The array light up with blue chakra that slowly turned purple as red youki was channeled into the array, illuminating the cave far more than the lamps had. The subject gritted his teeth, eyes closed tight in pain. Then, slowly, the glow faded, the markings of the array similarly disappearing into the boy's flesh.

Kabuto stepped forward again, diagnostic technique scanning the subject for any signs of complications, until he nodded to both Sasori and his disciple.

The boy swung his legs over the cot, hopping down and grabbing a medical gown laid next to it. Now robed, he stretched, checking for himself if everything was working normally.

"How do you feel?" Sasori asked, his voice steady and not event hinting at the anticipation roiling in his heart.

Uzumaki Naruto's blank, emotionless face turned to him, eyes opening to reveal dull, burnt-orange eyes with slit pupils.

– The Author –

Alright, and that, I judge, is a decent start to a story.

Now, I'm not exactly a fan of the Naruto anime and manga - it has a lot of good explosions and some items that truly interest me (Susano'o, among other things) and some philosophies I can get behind, I have troubles with it. For one thing, I hate Naruto's characterization. My taste in protagonists runs more towards Lelouch and Heero types.

So when I came across nobody102's Scorpion's Disciple, I got caught up in it. It was...awesome. It evolved Naruto from the loud, idiotic, petulant child he was into a cunning, secretive little fox that I just loved to read surprise and trounce others. Unfortunately for me and others, nobody102 couldn't finish it, but at least he left a very complete summary for us.

I, personally, just couldn't let it end there.

So, I contacted nobody102, got his blessing and advice, and wrote out the prologue you've just read. Now, those who've read my other stories are aware of my style, and it differs very much so from nobody102's, so there's definitely going to be differences in quality, whether good or bad or not, just to warn you.

Scorpion's Masterpiece isn't going to update rapidly, maybe once a month or so, maybe quicker depending on my mood, since I'm writing other stories too, but I hope everyone can endure the waits.

Knightmare Gundam of Ni