Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Final Fantasy 7. This is the only time I'm going to say this, since people should know I don't own this story and I doubt anyone is going to skip the first chapter to read ahead.
The Legend of Gaia's Sennin
Phase 1: The City That Never Sleeps
Arch 1: Enter the Sennin
Chapter 1: A New Start
The first thing he felt upon becoming self-aware once again was pain. Excruciating pain. It felt like thousands of needles were being stuck and poked into his body, like his insides had been dunked in acid. Every muscle and fiber in his body screamed at him, letting him know just how close to death he had come. And to be honest, he wondered why he wasn't dead.
He had never been more thankful for his regenerative-healing factor, which was already kicking in. It hurt, by Kami it hurt. The feeling of your shredded muscles and broken bones being mended was intensely painful, though not as bad as the pain he had felt when his awareness had first kicked in.
As the pain began to fade into the background he began to feel other sensations. The feel of a soft bed beneath his frame, the pillows his head was laying against. The scent of the room, a mixture of feminine scents that pervaded his nostrils and soothed his mind and soul. The scent was of Lavender and reminded him of Hinata, the sweet yet somewhat weird girl who had always stalked him. The one who had a crush on him, but never went further then that.
His mind soon became more alert, sharpening as he decided to take stalk of his situation. He hadn't opened his eyes yet, not wanting to let whoever was near know he had awoken. First he ran a swift analysis of his body. He could already feel that his regenerative-healing factor had taken care of his mended bones and muscles, and was working on the little, less dangerous cuts. More to the point, his cuts and bruises had been bandaged, he couldn't determine the type of cloth used to do the bandaging, but he could feel them wrapped around his torso, which had taken the most damage.
Between the bed and the bandages Naruto could easily deduce that he wasn't in enemy territory. However, that still told him very little, and just because he wasn't near any enemies didn't mean he was safe.
Where was he? How did he get there? Was he in friendly territory? Or neutral territory? These questions that he would need to find answers to.
Wanting to know a little more about the area around him, while still maintaining some secrecy, he sent a small pulse of chakra out of his body. The chakra acted like a sonar, by constantly pushing a set amount of chakra out of his body at a constant rate, while still keeping himself connected to it, he could 'feel' for lack of a better word, the things around him.
The room he was in was small, around ten to fifteen square feet if he had to guess, it was hard to judge with this jutsu. It was still larger then the bedroom in his old apartment had been. Around the room were various objects that he recognized by the feel of their shape where he could not feel his chakra. A desk and chair on one side, a closet, a dresser and a door on the far side. There was a window opposite of him. Along with those were smaller objects like clothes that he could feel were hung up on a hook on the door.
There was no one in the room at the moment, and so he decided to open his eyes. The first thing that greeted him was a pink ceiling with an odd checker design. That looks like something Sakura-chan would have in her room, he thought absently. He wondered if this was her room. But then he shook his head as he realized it couldn't be. Not after...
Shaking his head he banished the thoughts before they could form, before they could bring him to tears. He couldn't afford to lose himself to sorrow right now, he wouldn't cry.
Sitting up, he took a look around the rest of the room. Like the ceiling the walls were also done in pink. The place held a look that screamed feminine, from the walls and ceiling to the frilly curtains, everything let him know that this was a girls room.
That was in itself confusing to him. Judging from the bright, feminine charm of the room it was obvious that he was not a captive. Unless the person holding him hostage was either trying to throw him off, or just happened to be into really girly decorations. Whatever the case may be, it didn't help him solve the many questions on his mind now.
Where was he? How did he get here? More importantly, what happened to the Teme and Maradara?
Grunting he stood up. For a moment he swayed, almost falling over as a sense of vertigo and nausea swept through him. It was obvious that he had been more injured then he thought. He had never felt this bad before after getting healed. For a moment he wondered how long he had been recuperating before shrugging the thought off as unimportant.
He walked over to the window, his movements were sluggish and he realized that while his body may have repaired itself from whatever damage it took, the fact that his muscles had basically been regenerated meant they were still trying to get in some semblance of working order.
He sighed, that meant he wouldn't be fighting for a while.
Just as these thoughts came the door began to creak open and a female voice shouted. "I'm just going to check on him, mom!"
He tensed as several thoughts on what he should do ran through his mind. His first instinct was to jump and use his chakra to cling to the ceiling, get behind whoever was coming in, knock them out, tie them up and interrogate them on where he was and how he got there. His second thought was to just kill whoever was coming in, he grimaced at that one as it had been an instinct bred into him through the fires of war and not something he would have thought of several years ago. His third decision was to do nothing. So far no one had made any hostile actions towards him, he had been placed in a nice, albeit girly bed, someone had been taking care of him, obvious from the signs of bandages that were wrapped around his frame and the place didn't hold a hostile or even remotely dangerous look.
All of these thoughts and ideas passed through his head in less then a second, the door had yet to even open halfway before he had come to a decision. Whoever had taken him in obviously held no ill intent, even without using his Rikudou form he had enough experience to sense when someone had the intent to harm him. So he decided not to do anything, yet, and see what happened from there.
The door finished opening as his decision embedded itself in his mind. A young woman walked into the room. She looked to be around his age, in her late teens to early twenties. She was wearing a shin-length pink dress that buttoned up at the front with a red bolero jacket. She had a pair of brown boots on, and metal bracers on her wrists and around the edges of her jacket sleeves. Her hair was drawn back in a thick plait with a large pink ribbon tied around it; within the ribbon he noticed she had a white orb that seemed to shine with a repressed light and energy that he could feel even without entering Sennin-mode. Her bangs were segmented and framed her face on the sides, and she had emerald green eyes.
All in all he thought she was rather beautiful. Her clothing didn't do much to hide her lithe, feminine frame. She wasn't wearing any make-up, nor did she seem to have any need for them. She wasn't one of those beauties that Ero-Sennin had always enjoyed when going to those sleazy pubs the man had often taken him to. She held a more down to earth kind of beauty. If he had to come up with a word for it, he would say she was more 'real' then those other girls.
Real, but no less beautiful.
As she came in fully he noticed she was carrying a set of male clothes, at least they looked like male clothes judging from the duller colors when compared to the clothing she was wearing. It was at this that he noticed he was more or less naked, with only a pair of orange and black boxers covering his frame.
There eyes met and for a single second they both stared at each other. He saw the girl's eyes widen, and her mouth opened in a slight 'o' of surprise. Her eyes seemed to go over his form for a moment before her cheeks reddened.
"Uh... yo," he said, not really sure what to do in this situation. He had long since lost his modesty, along with many other moral scruples, but even to him this was awkward.
The girl let out a loud 'eep!' and quickly rushed back out of the door and slammed it closed with a loud bang. "I'm sorry!" she called out, embarrassment permeating her voice. "I hadn't realized you were awake."
He chuckled at the girls embarrassment, finding it somehow refreshing. "It's alright, I probably should have stayed in bed anyways. Um, do you think you could hand me some clothes?"
"Oh!" the door the opened just enough for her to stick her hand, with his clothes in them, through the door. "Here you are... uh... when you get dressed, why don't you come downstairs into the living room?" she suggested.
"Sure," He agreed. It wasn't like he had much of a choice, he didn't know where he was, or how he got there. The simple fact was, this girl was currently his only source of information.
He grabbed his clothes and the girl closed the door. "I'll be down in just a second." The sound of feet padding against wood tiling let him know she had headed downstairs. Looking at the set of clothes she had given him he repressed a sigh. They weren't what he would have liked, but given that he had no clue what happened to his old set he began putting them on.
"Man, there's not even a single scrap of orange on these things."
Aerith Gainsborough leaned against the door as soon as she closed it. She could feel her heart racing in her chest, beating nearly two-thousand miles a minute as shock and embarrassment fought for attention.
She had been going to check up on the unconscious blond, who apparently was not as out of it as he had seemed. To say she had been surprised by seeing a man that had been half-dead the other day not only wide awake but capable of standing would be an understatement. She had found him quite literally on the verge of death just yesterday, and yet here he was, standing and from the looks of it well on his way to recovery from what should have been fatal wounds. It was rather astounding and Aerith couldn't help but wonder how he healed so fast.
Perhaps it had something to do with feeling he gave off? The planet didn't recognize him but for some reason it liked how he felt. The man seemed to be more in tune with his surroundings then other people.
Shaking her head she realized that she was still standing outside the door to where he was and remembered that the man was awake and she had just walked in on his half naked form. "I'm sorry!" she called out, feeling the need to apologize for so rudely coming into the room, even it was her room to begin with. "I hadn't realized you were awake."
"It's alright, I probably should have stayed in bed anyways. Um, do you think you could hand me some clothes?"
"Oh!" Now she felt really embarrassed. She had been going to bring these up, just in case he ever woke up she wanted him to have something to change into. She had been so surprised by him already being up and about that she nearly forgot she had them. She opened the door just a crack and stuck the clothing she had gotten for him through the door. "Here you are... uh... when you get dressed, why don't you come downstairs into the living room?"
"Sure," he said, and she felt him grab the clothes. "I'll be down in a second."
Aerith withdrew her hand and shut the door. Still feeling embarrassed by the situation she had just been put in, she left without another word.
She entered the living room, which also served as a kitchen and found her mom already cooking dinner. "Mom," she said, getting the attention of the kind woman. "That man is awake. He should be down in a few seconds."
"Already?" the woman asked in clear surprise. Not that Aerith could blame her, when she had brought the blond in he had been on death's doorstep. To be honest, she had not even been sure if he would live out the night, even with her mom bandaging his wounds as best she could.
"Yeah, I know, it surprised me too," Aerith continued, shaking her head. She was almost sure her face still held a wide eyed look. "I didn't expect him to wake up so soon, especially with how injured he was. The planet doesn't seem to know him either." Elmyra just shook her head at her daughters strange last sentence, she had grown used to the girls eccentricities by now.
"Why don't you begin setting the table, dinner will be read soon and I'm sure that young man will be hungry."
Aerith went over to one of the cupboards and got out several sets of table wear and some napkins. They weren't the finest china dishes around, the plates were scratched and used and the forks and knives were dinged, but considering where they lived it was better then nothing.
It was only a few minutes after Aerith finished setting the table that the young blond man walked down the stairs. Once again she found herself looking at him. The man was tall, he looked to be somewhere around one-hundred and eighty two centimeters, he was at least a head and a half taller then she was. His form was not big, but even now, when he was wearing the plain brown shirt and pants she had given him, Aerith could see the muscles straining against the fabric of the shirt. They were kind of muscles that were gained from use, rather then working out in a gym.
If she had to come up with a word for his physical conditioning, she would have to say he looked streamlined.
His hair was a bright, almost golden yellow. To her it seemed as if his hair absorbed and reflected sunlight it was so bright. It stuck up in messy spikes with a fringe that hovered just above his eyes and a pair of jaw length bangs that framed his face. She had never seen hair like his before and a part of her didn't deny that she was curious what it would feel like to run her hands through it.
His face, like his body looked like it had been chiseled from stone. It was angular and held a mature quality, while still retaining it's youthfulness. One of the oddities she noticed on him were the three whisker-like markings that lined each cheek in a horizontal pattern. Aerith thought they made him look like a fox.
However, it was his eyes that drew in the most attention. A set of pure blue orbs that were so deep she almost thought they could look into her soul. They seemed to glow with a vibrancy, light and power that she had only seen once.
They were just like his.
Her thoughts were interrupted when her mother noticed him as well and gave him a smile. "Why don't you sit down while Aerith and I set down the food?" she suggested.
The blond blinked for a moment, tilting his head a little as his face adopted a look of curiosity. The look was so utterly adorable that for a split second Aerith had the largest urge to squeal and was forced to fight it down, lest she embarrass herself in front of him further.
After a few seconds the blond smiled before walking into the kitchen where Elmyra was. "Since you and your daughter have been kind enough to let me into your house and take care of me, why don't I take care of getting food on the table?"
It took a bit of convincing before Elmyra let the blond bring out the food, claiming he was a guest in her house and was still healing. However, Aerith noticed that the blond man was extremely stubborn and apparently wouldn't take no for an answer. After the two politely argued over who would bring out the food, Aerith decided she had enough of their squabbling and told them to both do it.
The two had actually looked mildly embarrassed after that and silently agreed to do as Aerith said. Once the food was on the table, and everyone was seated Elmyra decided introductions were in order. "I know you met my daughter, Aerith just a little while ago. My name is Elmyra."
The blond looked up from the bite of soup he had been about to take. "Naruto Uzumaki," he said. "Thank you for taking care of me while I was... incapacitated." He frowned for a moment as a thought occurred to him. "Speaking of, can you tell me just how you found me?"
"Oh, I didn't find you," Elmyra replied, getting a surprised look from Naruto. "My daughter did."
"You actually fell out of the sky and nearly landed on top of me," Aerith said. "You were nearly dead and I had to drag you back home, where mom patched you up."
Naruto looked at her and smiled. "I guess I owe you my life, then. Thank you."
Aerith actually felt her face heating up and she looked away from Naruto's smile. "I-It's no problem, though I was worried you were dead when you first showed up."
"You were in pretty bad shape," Elmyra nodded her head in agreement with her daughter. "When she and a few of the other people around here brought you to me, you were in terrible shape. I don't think I've ever seen someone with so much damage done to them. It looked like you had been in a terrible fight."
"I was," Naruto said, grimacing as he remembered what he had done to get into such condition. "To be honest, I'm surprised I survived." Though that did beg the question... "how did I get here? And uh... where is here?"
"I don't know exactly how you got here. As I said, you more or less fell on top of me." Aerith paused for a moment. "However I can tell you that you are in the Sector Five slums of Midgar."
Naruto blinked. "Sector Five? Midgar?"
The sound of confusion in Naruto's voice and the befuddled look on his face made the two women look at each other. Somehow, they realized it was going to take a long night of explaining to sort things out with the young man.
Naruto remained silent and still as he sat on the roof of Elmyra's home. The place was surprisingly peaceful, with a waterfall on one side and a patch of land that was connected by a small plank behind him. The land on the other side of the plank held small rings of flowers with a mound of grass in the center of it.
Yet even with the peacefulness this place held, Naruto found his mind in turmoil. After his initial confusion had ended, Aerith and her mother had decided to help explain where he was.
Midgar was the capital of the world, a planet that Aerith called Gaia. It was the most technologically advanced construction that had ever been built on the planet. Built by the Shinra Electric Power Company, Midgar was home to the corporation's main headquarters, which dominated the city skyline. Due to it's massive population, Midgar required a lot of energy to run. Thanks to its eight Mako Reactors, the city's massive power demands were easily met.
From what Naruto had learned Aerith's words, Midgar was a large circular structure divided up between two main layers: the paradise above the plate, and the miserable slums below. The city itself is "floating" above the ground, supported by massive pillars in each sector. Above the plate live the richest and most powerful men in the world who run most of its affairs.
Aerith and her mom lived in the Slums. Unlike the metropolitan top, the slums were home to bitter poverty. Due to the "pizza" plate hundreds of feet above their head, the people of the slums could go their entire lives without ever once seeing the sky. While the top was designed with cobble-stone paths and fine architecture, the slums represented the severe desperation of its population with buildings ranging from permanent structures like houses and cottages, to crude edifices such as mobile-homes and huts. The homeless have to make do with whatever shelter they can find.
When Naruto had been given a general rundown of the place, he couldn't help but be appalled by what he had heard. It was sickening to think that some conglomerate company would force people to live in such abject poverty. In many ways the situation here reminded him of what he had seen in Nami No Kuni when it was under the rule of Gato. He could even picture some fat midget running things up top.
Sitting behind his desk at Shinra Headquarters, President Shinra let out loud sneeze.
Once they had gone over the initial explanation of the world, Naruto had been forced to ask them questions that expounded on what they had told him. He had learned about Mako, the power that Shinra used to power Midgar, the Mako Reactors that sucked the energy out of the earth and refined it into a useable energy source. He had even been given the general history of what had happened in Gaia for the last several decades. After everything he had been told, Naruto had come to one conclusion.
He was no longer in the elemental nations. Whatever had happened to him during his battle against Madara Uchiha, or Tobi, or whatever the hell he wanted to call himself and Sasuke-Teme, the world he had known, grown up in, lived for, and was willing to die for was gone, at least for him.
It was a hard and bitter pill to swallow, especially when he had no clue how he had gotten to this new world. Was it a different world entirely? Had he been thrown through time by Madara's space-time ninjutsu? Was he in some kind of alternate dimension like the kind he would find in one of those crazy manga's that he liked to read when he was younger?
He didn't have an answer to any of these questions, and there were so many more questions, questions which he might never get the answers to.
"Are you going to just stand back there all night?" Naruto asked, not even looking over his shoulder as Aerith lightly squeaked at being caught so easily. The blond shinobi scooted himself over a bit and patted the seat next to him. "If your going to be out here at least sit down."
Aerith hesitated for only a moment before taking a seat next to him. As she sat down the young woman couldn't help but eye the blond man before her. "You really don't know anything about this place, do you?"
A mirthless smile crossed his face. "No, I don't. Aside from what you told me."
"Are you sure you don't have amnesia or something?"
Naruto chuckled. "Positive. If I had amnesia I would have just forgotten everything, but I have memories of where I was born, and the things I did for last seventeen years of my life."
"It could have been a dream," Aerith suggested, though it was obvious from her tone that she didn't quite believe her own words. Of course, it was equally obvious that she didn't believe he was from another world, or thrown into the future. Unfortunately, those were the only two viable options available.
"It could have," Naruto admitted, the tone in his voice saying he didn't believe her either. "And yet, I know it wasn't. Aside from the fact that the memories are far to clear to be a dream, I still have many of my abilities that I learned from that dream." He wasn't quite sure if that was true, but he still had control over his chakra, he could feel it in his coils though it did feel a tad different. It was more... pure, he supposed was the word.
"I guess your right," Aerith said after a few seconds of thought. She looked out at the sprawling part of the Slums before her and sighed. "And here I was hoping you would be in Soldier..."
Soldier. It was the name given to the most elite fighting unit within Shinra. From Aerith's information, Soldier's were humans that had been infused with Mako in order to increase their physical prowess to extreme levels. From what Naruto had been told, he assumed Mako acted like a stimulant or drug that empowered the person who was injected with it.
"What makes you think I would be in soldier?" he asked with some amusement.
"Your eyes," Aerith said. "They have the same glow that members of soldier have, or at least they look very similar. They don't have the green tint I'm used to, but they glow with the same repressed power."
"Well, I've never been injected with mako," Naruto said. "The power I possess is all my own. Something I earned through blood, sweat and training."
A comfortable silence settled over to two of them for a few moments, before Aerith spoke up again. "So your really not from this world?"
"That would be my guess," Naruto sighed as he ran a hand through his hair. "Though how I got here is still up for debate." His shoulders sagged a little, without knowing how he came to be here, there was no way he could go back home. Even with all his skill in space-time manipulation there was very little chance of him finding a way back to the Elemental Nations. After all, it was hard to fix a problem if you didn't know what caused it in the first place.
Aerith seemed to sense his inner turmoil because she placed a hand on his back and rubbed it reassuringly. "I'm sorry, it must be hard for you. Not knowing whether you'll ever be able to see your friends again." She wished she could help him in some way, it had never been in her nature to leave someone alone when they needed help. However, she had no clue what to do in a situation like this. Indeed, she had never even heard of someone getting thrown into another world entirely.
"Well, that's at least not something I'll have to worry about," Naruto muttered, mostly to himself though Aerith still heard it. "All my friends are dead."
"Oh Gaia! I'm so sorry," Aerith apologized, feeling terrible for bringing up the death of his friends. "Had I known that I wouldn't have – "
"It's fine," Naruto interrupted the girl before she could go any further. "It happened a few years ago, so I've long since gotten used to it." Numb to it was a better expression, but he didn't want to let some random girl, no matter how nice, into his heart so easily. Not after all he had suffered through.
"Maybe it's a good thing you came here then," said Aeirth, trying to look at the positive side of things. When Naruto looked at her she smiled. "I mean, now that your in a new place it means you can start over, start from scratch. You know?"
Naruto didn't honestly think he could ever truly start over. The memories of his long dead friends would always leave a gaping hole in his heart that could never be filled. The faces of the men he had killed for the sake of peace would forever haunt his dreams. And no matter how hard he tried to forget, he knew that the betrayal of the man he had considered a brother would continue to leave a bitter taste in his mouth.
Still, maybe he could do something in this new world. Affect some kind of positive change. Naruto had never been one to just give up, and he knew that his friends would never forgive him if he did. They had sacrificed their lives so that he could live, and giving in would be a betrayal of their memories.
He wasn't sure what he could do just yet, but he knew that it would likely have something to with fighting. Really, it was the only thing he was good at. He may not have been the best ninja right after graduation, but the years after, during his time as a genin he had begun to grow by leaps and bounds. And during the war, when he had decided to get involved, Naruto had been the single most powerful entity during the conflict on the alliance side.
'Maybe I would make a good mercenary,' he mused. In the Elemental Nations mercenary's had been rare. Not only did they have to compete with the Hidden Villages, but they were also forced to contend with missing ninja and wandering Samurai. Because of that most mercenary's never made it far in the Elemental Nations, though he had heard they thrived in the Western lands.
He gave Aerith a small smile. "Maybe your right. I've got some pretty useful skills, I'm sure I can find something to do in this world."
"That's the spirit!" Aerith cheered. Standing up she grabbed his hand and helped him up to. "Now come on, we need to get some sleep. Tomorrow, I'll show you around Sector Five."
Naruto followed the suddenly happy and excited girl inside. As he did he couldn't help but wonder what this new world had in store for him.
It was early the next morning that Naruto woke up. Truth be told it was kind of hard to tell since there was no sky for him to determine the time, but having long since kept to a strict schedule and having not needed much sleep as he got older, the blond shinobi's internal clock always woke him up around 0400.
Getting out of the bed Elmyra had given him, Naruto got dressed and made his way downstairs. He noticed that no one was awake yet, and decided that now would be a good time to find a place where he could see whether or not he still had his abilities despite being in another world.
Naruto made his way outside, and after a bit of thinking, walked over to the area that had the large ring of flowers. He moved to the back, where a large cliff wall stopped anyone from going further. Anyone other than Naruto that is. Channeling chakra to the bottom of his feet, the blond shinobi placed one foot on the solid surface, then the other. Once he was sure he would not fall he began moving up the surface of the cliff.
So I still have my chakra control abilities, Naruto thought to himself. And if he could walk on walls then he could walk on water as well.
When he got to the top he took a moment to look around. It was just a large plane of dirt and sediment, which was perfect for his purpose.
Holding out his hand, Naruto channeled chakra into it, focusing on moving his energy in multiple circles centered around an nexus, rotation was the key.
Once that was accomplished and the spinning energy within his hand could be seen as thousands of visible white streaks of energy, he began adding more power to it. This was the second step after rotation, and as he began pumping more and more chakra into the ball in his hand, it began to take on a blue sheen. It still wasn't complete, as evidenced by the fact that several whisps of chakra could be seen pouring off the ball, but that was what the last step was for.
Focusing on the last step to complete his technique, the blond began to compress the energy of the ball further, using his control to contain the energy inside of a small ball just a little larger then his hand. Not even a second later the wisps died down, the technique was complete.
Naruto smiled as he held a perfect baseball sized rasengan in his hand. While certainly not his most powerful jutsu, not even by a long shot, it was still his go-to technique when he needed that extra humph to go with his taijutsu. It was one the most useful skills in his arsenal.
Dissipating the shape manipulation technique, Naruto made a cross seal with his hands and muttered, "Kage Bunshin No Jutsu." There was a cloud of smoke, and when it cleared Naruto saw a perfect copy of himself standing there. The blond nodded in satisfaction and was just about to dispel the clone when he noticed something different.
He could see from two different perspectives. He saw himself staring at his clone, and his clone staring at himself. It was a weird phenomena and after a second of having realized what he was seeing, Naruto was forced to dispel the clone due to the headache seeing from two different perspectives was causing him.
Frowning the blond sat down for a moment as he tried to figure out what this meant. The Kage Bunshin No Jutsu was a clone technique in which the users chakra was evenly distributed among every clone, giving each clone an equal fraction of the user's overall power. The clones are capable of performing techniques on their own and can even bleed, but would usually disperse after one or two solid blows. They can also disperse on their own. The clones would be created in roughly the same condition as the original.
One of the characteristics that was unique to the Shadow Clone Technique was that any experience the clones gain during their existence is transferred to the user once they are dispersed. This made the technique ideal for spying, since the user can simply send a clone to spy on a target, then have the clone disperse itself without returning to pass the information back to the user. Any extra chakra the clone had when it dispersed was also returned to the original.
It was also useful for training purposes, since the total amount of experience the user gains is multiplied by the total number of clones being used to train. For example, if a user created one shadow clone and trained together with this clone for one hour, then dispeled the clone, the user would gain two hours of training in one hour by adding the hours of clone and the user together. While the technique can be extremely beneficial, attempting to use multiple clones for training purposes can be mentally harmful to the user, as not only is all the experience collected by the user, but so is all the mental stress from training each clone.
Naruto had used this method of training many times in the past. During the war, when the alliance was in a stalemate with Madara, the blond shinobi who had already earned a fearsome reputation thanks to his new-found control of the Kyuubi at that time, had periodically traveled to Mount Myoboku for several months at a time and used the Mass Kage Bunshin training method to speed up his progress, using nearly one-thousand clones to train in jutsu, advanced chakra control for medical jutsu, ninjutsu, fuiinjutsu and even some genjutsu. Essentially getting nearly one hundred years worth of experience, knowledge and jutsu down in just under two years.
In all the times he had used it, Naruto had never connected with a clone like he had done with the one he just made. The ability actually reminded him of Pain's – and later on Madara's – paths, which allowed for overlapping site in the same way.
'I'm going to need to test this ability later on,' Naruto decided. He would begin the process of acclimating himself the clones overlapping field of vision, adding another clone each time he grew used to the extra set of eyes.
The next process Naruto decided to try was to see if he could use any of his elemental jutsu. He didn't want to freak out Aerith and Elmyra by shooting out a large fire dragon or something equally destructive, so he decided to go with something small. "Katon: Kaijin No Jutsu." he sucked in a shallow breath and blew out a small stream of fire.
Or at least he tried to.
Naruto frowned as he got nothing, not even a puff of smoke for his efforts. Deciding to see if it was a fluke, Naruto tried again, this time with hand seals.
Growling Naruto began to attempt more jutsu only to fail. Lightning, water, wind, fire, earth, none of them worked. In his frustration he attempted to use the sub elements, something he had accomplished after talking with Mei and a few other gekkei kenkei users when he had come up with the theory that anyone could use sub elements, but bloodline's made them more indisposed to them and gave them special attacks that couldn't be used by anyone else.
When he still got nothing Naruto growled in anger before taking a deep breath and trying to sort out what the problem was. Sitting down in a cross-legged position the blond shinobi closed his eyes and entered a meditative state. During his Sennin training with Fukusaku-Sama and Shima-Sama, Naruto had learned more then just the arts of the Gama-Sennin. He had also learned how to get in touch with his chakra, to truly feel it as it flowed through his body.
Naruto let his subconscious move through his body, sensing out his chakra pathways. A frown marred his face as his senses told him something was different with his chakra.
Chakra was essential to even the most basic technique; it was the molding of the physical energy present in every cell of the body and the spiritual energy gained from exercise and experience. Once molded, it could be channeled through the chakra circulatory system, which is to chakra as the regular circulatory system is to blood, to any of the 361 chakra points (called tenketsu) in the body. Through various methods, the most common of which is hand seals, the chakra can then be manipulated to create an effect that would not be possible otherwise, such as walking on water, exhaling fire or creating illusions.
Tenketsu are simply nodes from which chakra can be released. There were 361 tenketsu in the body, each one a checkpoint on the Chakra Pathway System. Though ninja use chakra regularly, very few ninja possess any great control over their tenketsu. Even jōnin are only capable of releasing a small amount of chakra through their hands or feet to increase the power of punches, jumps, or kicks.
Chakra Pathway System was the term for the channels within the body that transfer and channel chakra. Simply put they served the same function for chakra as blood vessels do for blood. Along the chakra pathways, there 361 nodes called tenketsu that control the flow of chakra like circuit breakers, and within those tenketsu are Eight Gates which control body function and strain levels.
The Eight Gates are eight specific points on a person's Chakra Pathway System. They limit the overall flow of chakra within a person's body. The basis for the idea of the chakra gates comes from the body's limits on the functions within it. This makes the body much weaker, but it keeps the body from expiring too soon. By undergoing intense training, one can learn how to open these gates allowing the user to surpass their own physical limits at the cost of extreme damage to their own bodies.
The Eight Inner Gates were near the start of the chakra system, which was roughly located near a persons center of gravity. Most people never got a feel for the 'core' of their chakra, the place where their power came from. While the Hyuuga did, thanks in no small part to their Byakugan, only those who trained extensively in feeling chakra or sensors had any luck in seeing their core.
Naruto, through training had gained that capability. It had been thanks to his ability to see his chakra core that led him to discovering the ability to manipulate the sub elements. By becoming so intimate with his chakra's core he had gained phenomenal control over his vast reserves of chakra and was able to sense what type of element he was changing his chakra nature too. This had allowed him to manipulate his own core and chakra nature until he became capable of combining two different chakra natures into one, thus creating the sub elements.
Now however, Naruto could not feel his core anymore. He still had chakra, could still feel it flowing through his body. But his chakra core and the Eigth Gates were gone.
It took a great will of effort not to panic at this revelation. Keeping his focus, Naruto dove himself even deeper into his chakra network. After several minutes of feeling its flow, he noticed something that his initial scans had not.
His chakra was not flowing out from his core. It should have been obvious, given that his core seemed to have disappeared. Wanting to see where his chakra was now coming from, he followed the flow through his bodies network and discovered, much to his surprise, that his chakra was flowing out from his left arm.
Naruto opened his eyes and looked at his arm, still keeping his concentration on his chakra the blond noticed the small bright glow coming from inside of his forearm. He let his fingers run over the glowing ball and blinked in surprise when his fingers moved through his skin. Frowning, Naruto repeated this process several times before sticking his fingers all the way into his arm.
It was an odd experience, both watching what was happening and what he was feeling. His eyes could literally see his hand inside of his arm, a black form against the now white and semi-translucent forearm. He could see it clutching the odd glowing ball, and could feel it as a small tingle in his arm. On instinct, Naruto pulled the small orb out and studied it.
The orb looked like some kind of round gem, reminding him of the bauble Aerith had in her hair. It was a stormy gray color and glowed with an inner light. He was unsure just what the gem was, but he could easily tell that whatever it was, it was the object that allowed him to use his chakra abilities.
With a sigh Naruto placed the orb back into his arm and stood up. He was unsure how much time had past but it was likely around two or three hours. Aerith was probably waking up by now and would not doubt wonder where he was. He decided it would probably be a good idea to head back now, and return to do more tests later.
Aerith woke up with a light lawn. Sitting up in her bed she stretched her hands above her head and her legs out as far as they would go. Looking over at her clock she saw that it was 0800, around the time she usually got up. Getting out from under the covers she stood up and made her way out of her room.
Her first destination was the restroom. It was a very simple and basic room, with a small sink, toilet and single shower. It wasn't very large, but considering where they lived it was better than what most people had.
She turned on the water and quickly stripped herself of her pink nighty, then slid out of her panties. Stepping into the water Aerith ignored how cold it was, having grown used to it through out the years. The Slums weren't given any of the energy the Mako Reactors brought to Midgar, and so those few who had appliances like heaters, stoves and other objects that required power had to find an alternate means. Unfortunately those means were expensive and her mother had only been able to afford two heaters for the appliance downstairs and the fans that kept the house cool.
As Aerith scrubbed herself down with a bar of soap, her thoughts turned to the young man who had fallen into her lap quite literally. This was the second time it happened and she couldn't help but wonder if perhaps this was the way she was destined to meet all the men she knew. The thought made her giggle a little, even though it brought an equal amount of sadness as it did happiness.
Maybe it was because she was in the shower, or perhaps it was just a bi-product of thinking about men, but her thoughts quickly turned to the first time she had seen Naruto awake. More specifically how she had seen him almost nude.
She banished the blush as it made its way across her face. While she had never really had any experience with men, having only had one boyfriend, she had never been a shy girl. Nor was she naive. Aerith had been too some of the other sectors and even been top-side, so she had seen some of the less... scrupulous forms of entertainment that Midgar had to offer, though she hadn't gotten quite as up close as she had seen Naruto.
Shaking her head – and flinging water off her hair in the process – Aerith quickly shut down all thoughts on men and half naked men and decided to instead focus on cleaning herself. Once done with her shower she turned off the water and stepped out. Grabbing two towels, one to dry her hair and the other to dry her body, Aerith proceeded to do just that. She wrapped the towel she used to dry off her body around herself and the one for her hair was likewise used in a similar respect.
She opened the door to the room and looked out. Seeing no sign of Naruto, she assumed he was still asleep and made her way back to her room. It didn't take long for her to get dressed in her usual outfit, though brushing and plating her hair was a bit of a hassle. Once she determined that she was all set and ready to go, Aerith made her way out of her bedroom and over to Naruto's room.
Opening the door she said, "good morning, Naruto. I thought I would – huh?" blinking several times it took a moment to realize that Naruto was not in the room. Even the bed was made. "I hope he didn't leave," she muttered worriedly, closing the door. "I told him I was going to show him around today."
Thankfully she found Naruto had not left, and was in fact working the stove while a slightly disgruntled Elmyra watched on from the table. "Good morning Naruto! Mom!" Aerith greeted in a friendly, if somewhat curious voice. "Naruto, what are you doing?"
"What's it look like I'm doing? I'm making breakfast," the blond shinobi replied as he expertly flipped whatever it was he was making, then put the pan back on the stove and went over to a juicer where he squeezed some of the oranges she had managed to grow.
Slightly confused Aerith looked over at her mother who noticed her gaze. The woman shrugged helplessly, "I was making breakfast when he came in and insisted that he do it as a way of thanking me."
"She tried to argue but I'm a lot more stubborn then she is," Naruto commented as he came out of the kitchen. Aerith couldn't help but admire the blonds sense of balance as he carried a large plate of toast that looked like it had been dipped in caramel, three glasses and the pitcher of orange juice... with the pitcher being balanced atop of his head. Setting down the toast and the glasses he poured some orange juice into the glasses and passed one each to Elmyra and Aerith. Then he used a fork and dished them both up with two pieces of the toast.
Now that Aerith could see it more closely she noticed that it was a lot different then normal toast. In fact, it looked nothing like toast with the soul exception of that it was made from bread. It looked like it had been dipped into some kind of batter and then cooked. As Aerith looked at it curiously, Naruto sat down. "It's been a little while sense I cooked but let me know what you think."
"What is it?" asked Aerith, picking at it with her fork. It certainly smelled good, but she didn't know what it was, and therefore not sure whether or not to eat it.
"It's called French Toast," Naruto said. "I have no clue why it's named that, but back where I come from this is one of many kinds of breakfast meals we have. It's made by dipping bread in eggs mixed with milk, butter, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, then cooked over an open stove until set."
Aerith still wasn't sure what it was, but given what it was made from it sounded good. It would also be rude if she didn't try some. Taking a piece off with her knife and sticking it with her fork, the brunette woman brought a piece of it to her mouth.
"Mmmm!" Aerith's eyes widened as she chewed on the piece. Swallowing she looked over at Naruto, eyes still wide. "It's really good! I mean, really, really good!"
"I have to agree with Aerith," Elmyra commented after she finished swallowing her own bite. She offered the blond a smile of approval. "Would you mind giving me the recipe?"
"Not at all," Naruto said with a pleasant smile, it was good to be appreciated for something other then his ability to kill. His friends, what friends he had that hadn't died during the war, had loved his cooking. He remembered Chouji had proclaimed him a cooking god and said that if he ever decided to give up his dream of being Hokage he could open up a restaurant. "I'll write the recipe down after cleaning up the dishes."
"Oh, don't worry about that," Elmyra said. "You made us breakfast so let me do the dishes." Naruto opened his mouth to speak, but the motherly woman gave him 'the look', the one that all woman give to their sons, brothers, uncles, fathers, grandfathers, significant others or just any male period that warned them they were crossing a line that should never be crossed. Thankfully, Naruto was not as ignorant about woman as he used to be.
"If you insist," he said, his voice slightly fearful.
Elmyra just smiled. "I do."
Naruto sighed in relief as he felt the odd non-killing killing intent leave. He perked up after a few seconds and turned to Aerith who was surprisingly on her fourth piece of French Toast. "Hey Aerith, I was wondering..." when the young woman looked at him he pointed to her hair. "What is that gem in your hair."
Aerith finished swallowing her last bite and set down her fork. "You mean this?" her hand went to the white orb in her hair.
"This is my materia..." she noticed the blank look on his face and realized he likely had no clue what materia was. "Materia are special that can be equipped into objects and allow people to use magic."
"Magic? Like wizard magic?" asked Naruto.
"Not like those cheesy magic TV shows," Aerith said, giggling a little bit at his naivety. In her mind, his knowledge, or lack there of, just proved that he was not from this world. "It allows various abilities. I've heard of Materia allowing people to shoot fireballs, or freeze people, heal, some I've heard can even summon powerful creatures to fight for you. Although," she giggled slightly, "mine is different. It's good for absolutely nothing."
"Then why do you keep it?" asked Naruto curiously.
"It belonged to my mother."
"Mother?" he looked over at Elmyra questioningly.
"I'm not her real mother," she explained upon noticing his questioning glance. "Her real mother was... well, she's gone and I found Aerith and decided to take care of her."
"Oh..." Naruto winced. He felt like an asshole for bringing this up now. "I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about it," Aerith said. "Mom returned to the planet so it's fine." Naruto blinked at the – once again – strange reference to the planet, like it was a conscious entity. He thought about questioning her, but before he could say anything Aerith stood up.
"I can't believe I forgot!" she looked at Naruto, "wait right here!"
Naruto and Elmyra watched as the young woman raced out of the room. He looked over at Elmyra who merely shook her head and smiled. A few seconds later Aerith returned holding a large basket filled with what Naruto recognized as Materia. She set it down on the table and smiled. "I found these on your person when you dropped out of the sky. I was going to give them to you when you woke up, but I was so surprised at you doing so so soon and forgot."
"It's fine..." Naruto said absently, most of his attention being focused on the Materia. He couldn't be positive, but had a feeling that if she had found these on him, then these Materia contained the rest of his abilities. He would have to go through them some time soon.
Aerith clapped her hands, getting Naruto's attention as she gave him a sweet smile. "Well, now that we're both awake and all fed, why don't I show you around like I promised."
Naruto smiled at the girl and stood up. He decided that going through the Materia could wait until after Aerith's tour.
"And this is the gate that leads to the Market place, that's a fun place because of all the stories you can find there. It also leads to the upper plate. And that hole in the wall over there leads to Sector Six." Naruto couldn't help but smile as he listened to Aerith as she told him everything she could about the Slums of Sector 6. Every place in the small town held some kind of story about something she did. He also noticed that Aerith seemed to be very well liked by the people they met, everyone would smile and greet her like a long-lost friend.
He also noticed that they didn't seem to like him. There was no outright hostility or hatred like he had been forced to deal with when growing up in Konoha, but he could feel a distinct lack of trust coming from the residence of Sector five.
"I don't think they like me very much," Naruto commented to Aerith, who had just stopped telling him about how she had climbed onto the roof of the small item shop they were in front of and used one of the large metal structures running down it as a slide when she was younger.
"I wouldn't worry about it," she told him with a smile. "They're just not used to outsiders is all. We don't get too many new faces around here, so when someone does show up people tend to get suspicious."
"I gotcha," Naruto said. It wasn't a big deal anyways. He had dealt with far worse and come out on top and well loved, he was positive he could do the same thing here and it would take even less time.
"C'mon," she said, grabbing his arm and dragging him towards the exit to the town. "There's another place I want to show you."
Naruto began walking himself, partly so she wouldn't drag him and make him trip, but also so he could keep up with her as she walked. As they left the town the blond took in his surroundings with sharp eyes. The place they were entering looked a lot like a junkyard, with piles of garbage and twisted looking metal structures. It reminded him of the junk heap in Konoha that he had been forced to go to in order to find his beat up appliances.
He looked ahead to see where Aerith was leading him, and found himself staring at a large structure. He wasn't quite sure what it was, but given the stained glass windows – what was left of them – it looked like some kind of religious place, or at least what he imagined a place of religion would look like. It wasn't like he had ever practiced any kind of religion before.
The roof was slanted and tiled, and the body was made of large sandstone bricks. The front door was a large set of wooden double-doors with bronze handles. There were three stained windows above the door, the patterns on them possessing some kind of symbols he had never seen before, though he did recognize the one in the center as a sun. One side had all kinds of rubble and refuse leaning against like a large mountain. Despite being more or less ruins, the place held a tranquil quality to it.
Inside the Church were several rows of wooden benches, most were in poor condition and looked to be falling apart. There were large columns on either side of the room, holding the roof up. At the far end of the room there was a door, and in the center was a small patch of vibrant looking flowers. Sunlight was streaming through a small hole in the roof, lighting up the flowers beautifully. Naruto couldn't help but wonder how there was any sunlight at all with the giant plate blocking out the sun.
"This is my private spot," Aerith said, walking further into the room. Her face possessed a soft smile, one that made Naruto's heart flutter slightly at the sight. "I come here often to tend to the flowers. It's nearly impossible to grow them in the slums, but for some reason they grow here just fine." She looked over at Naruto, green eyes met blue and the smile on her face widened as she pointed to a small spot where the blond see a slight indention in the plant-life. "And that's where you fell."
Naruto blinked as he looked between the flowers and the roof, noticing that the hole correlated rather well with the small dent in the flower bed. "And I'm guessing I created that hole, huh?" he scratched his neck in a sheepish gesture. "Sorry about that."
Aerith giggled behind her hand at his embarrassed gesture. "It's fine," she said, "the flowers here are very resilient." She walked up to him with slow, slightly halting steps, hands behind her back and a smile on her face. She only stopped once she was standing right in front of him and spread her arms in an encompassing gesture. "So what do you think?"
"It's beautiful," Naruto admitted. "I can see why you like this place, it's rather tranquil." Even his troubled soul couldn't help but feel at peace in this place.
The smile Aerith gave him lit up the entire room and Naruto couldn't help but smile as well. There was something odd about this girl, she seemed capable of putting his mind at ease without really trying. A feat in and of itself since he hadn't felt this relaxed since before the Fourth Great Shinobi War.
"So Naruto, what do you do?"
Naruto blinked. "You mean like my job?"
He gave her an indulgent smile. "I'm a ninja."
"Ninja?" Aerith pressed an index finger to her cheek and adopted a cute look of contemplation. "Like those people from Wutai?"
"I don't know what Wutai is," Naruto said with a shrug. "I come from a village known as Konoha, or the Village Hidden in the Leaves. My village, along with several others were ninja villages, and were military villages with a small percentage of civilians who lived there under our protection. Our forces consisted of a large group of tens of thousands of ninja who would take on job requests from people who wanted our help; anything from simple chores like mowing the lawn to assassination of high profile targets. You name it we did it, for the right price."
"So you guys were like soldier," Aerith said.
"In a way," Naruto agreed. "But in a way not. Unlike Soldier, which works for Shinra and just Shinra, our village took mission requests from all over. So long as the mission requested would not harm an allied village and would benefit Konoha we would take it. Ninja were trained from a young age in combat and ninjutsu, ninja arts that helped enhance our abilities. I myself had been trained since five in combat."
"That sounds so horrible," Aerith said, her face taking on a pale hue. A hand reached up to cover her mouth, and a small trickle of tears formed in the corner of her eyes. "To train kids at such a young age to fight."
Naruto shrugged. "It's just the way things were. The Hidden Villages were always in a constant state of on and off warfare, so we had to train at a young age to keep our forces up and protect our home. None of us really thought about how bad we had it." He stopped when he noticed Aerith was getting uncomfortable and decided a change in subject was appropriate. "So what do you do?"
Aerith, glad for the change of topic couldn't help but give an internal sigh of relief. She looked at the blond's mesmerizing blue eyes and smiled. "I sell flowers..."
The days began to pass quickly as Naruto got used to living with Aerith and her mother. During that time Naruto had taken to studying the Materia that the self-proclaimed flower girl of Sector Five had found on him.
His initial hunch about the Materia being where all of his skills went had been correct. Naruto had found that certain Materia had correlated with certain skills. Each Materia held the knowledge of his jutsu, his gray one holding all of his shape manipulation techniques like the Rasengan and the Kage Bunshin No Jutsu. The others held his elemental jutsu, one for earth, another for fire, wind, water, lightning, ice, lava, dust, sand, wood, blaze, storm, crystal, boil, dark, steel, swift, and magnetism. He even had two Materia for Yin and Yang release. Twenty Materia, each holding his abilities and jutsu.
Through experimentation Naruto had learned several things about these Materia. The first was that they could not be equipped onto a weapon like Aerith said most normal Materia were equipped. Naruto had to place them directly into his own body in order to use them, and he could only use one at a time. That fact kind of sucked for Naruto, who realized that it would make things much harder if not impossible to switch Materia during combat. However he figured that so long as he knew what he was getting into he could prepare his Materia in advanced and not have to worry about what type he should use.
There was an upside to having Materia instead of just jutsu. All of the attacks Naruto could use no longer required hand seals, even the ones he had not completely mastered when living in the Elemental Nations. He did notice that the drain on his reserves was noticeably larger, but his ability to replenish chakra was still impressive. While it was nothing compared to what he possessed in the Elemental Nations, Naruto chalked that up to the fact that his jutsu required anywhere from two to four times more chakra then before. The jutsu used, it's element and it's original chakra cost, all were factors in how many jutsu he could use a day. Some jutsu of the same technical rank he could use more then others, while some would exhaust him to the point that he could only use them once, before needing an hour of rest to replenish his reserves to use it again. It was annoying, but Naruto was coming to accept that things were different in this world.
Aside from learning what he was capable of in this world and making sure he stayed in shape, Naruto's life had become relatively peaceful. When he wasn't helping Elmyra around the house he was escorting Aerith to her Church or the upper plate where she sold flowers. It wasn't long before the blond shinobi's soul began to heal from the atrocities he had seen and committed during the war.
Of course, he should have known that the peace he found wouldn't last.
Now, I know what you're all thinking. Dear god, Pokemaster12, why the hell are you writing another one? The truth is, this has been bugging me for a while now. I more or less ignored my desire to write this until it more or less consumed me, so here I am, writing this story. For those of you who read my challenge story, you should recognize this as the one I gave out a while ago. This story is going to be a long work in progress, given just how damn long Final Fantasy 7 is I'm guessing this story will end somewhere around 100 + chapters.
For those of you who may be curious, this story will be divided into sections that I call phases. The first phase, otherwise dubbed as Phase 1: The City That Never Sleep is the beginning of the game/story, where Naruto and Aerith, and Cloud and his group are all in Midgar. Phase 2 would obviously be after they escape Midgar and go out into the world.
For your benefit I have also further divided this story into Archs to help set the pace. Each Phase will have a number of Archs, ranging anywhere from 4 to possibly 12 or more depending on when I decide a specific Phase should end. This will most likely coincide with the Disc endings.
Enough explanations, you guys are no doubt sick of listening to my ramblings. I hope you've enjoyed the chapter. The next one should be out much sooner then the others, because it's actually already mostly written. So you all have something to look forward to!