The Wanderer

Summary: She remembers little of her past life, all she remembers was running, collapsing and dying. She was found by a wandering Samurai, taught the ways of both Shinobi and Samurai, and received a sword. She is Naruto Uzumaki, a wanderer forced onto a greater stage.

Category: Action/Drama/Adventure

Rating: T

Disclaimer: Naruto is the property of Masashi Kishimoto, the characters and original plot completely belong to him. I'm just burrowing his characters for a while... what the hell I'm borrowing his characters, reimagining them and tossing them into an alternate story of my choosing... that's what fanfiction is all about.

Author's Note: I know this is a 'What the Hell am I thinking moment' with so many other stories incomplete, but I just finished reading the latest chapters of a few good female Naruto stories, called Who Dares, Wins and A Right to Live. You could say that they inspired me to write this little piece. This may be a short story, an alternate to the wave arc, or I might make it bigger, I might even make a small series of stories, sort of depends.

Yes Naruto is a girl in this one. I've finally succumbed to the idea after reading a few good stories on the subject. She will also be a few years older than in canon, let's say that when the rest of the rookie 9 are twelve Naruto will be sixteen. She will be strong, but not unstoppable, and will have a different base of abilities than in canon, remember that she will have been trained by a wandering Samurai here and will be part of a network of wanderers.

So anyway, here... we... go...

She remembered very little of her life from before. What little she did remember was blurred and inconclusive, but she knew in the deepest parts of her soul that wherever she was it was a place so vile, so cruel and unforgiving that to her young four year old eyes she just needed to get away, needed to escape from wherever she was.

She remembered vague images of leaving a building, of wandering through streets, of jumping into a wagon and waiting until it was well on its way in the beginning of its journey before sneaking out again when it stopped. She remembered at some point wandering aimlessly down a dirt track road, huge trees on either side, finally collapsing through hunger, thirst, fatigue, or maybe a combination of all three.

Her next memories were of waking up in a bed at an inn, and meeting her future sensei for the first time. He was so huge to her back then, an image she would never forget. A man dressed in a simple blue kimono, black hair tied back in a ponytail, pale skin and sharp features, a pair of thin rimmed glasses perched on the bridge of his nose. A sheathed katana was placed to the side, dark red scabbard with a dull silver, rounded guard and a hilt covered in dark red and black bandages, two long strands of each colour trailing the ground around him as he sat on the other side of the small room.

He looked over at her after a moment, and managed a small smile. He had introduced himself as a wandering Samurai, a title she didn't know the meaning off at the time, and that he had found her by the side of the road, starved, dehydrated and near death. He had carried her to a nearby village, found a doctor and nursed her back to health, a process which took nearly a week and a half.

He introduced himself as Jin, no last name, no familiar ties, just Jin, a Ronin Samurai turned wanderer of the Elemental Nations. He continued to nurse her back to health and once she was healthy again he gave her a choice. He would take her to the nearest town and find some place for her to stay, or she could come with him and learn the ways of the Samurai.

For her the choice was obvious.

She said yes to become his apprentice.

At the time his act of kindness which saved her life was the kindest anyone had been to her, all she remembered from before were harsh, unforgiving, icy glares and cruelty. She had memories of one old man who had been kind to her, who had visited her, but that was the only good memory she had from before.

He took her under his wing, and began training her in the ways of his people almost immediately. For nearly twelve years she had travelled with him, trained and learned from him, and received her sword from him, one of twelve sacred blades which he had in his possession, and he only gave them out to those students he considered worthy. She still remembered that day on her twelfth birthday, ready for another day of training, when instead of a wooden sword he had presented her with her own katana and wished her a happy birthday. It was the happiest day of her life to know that such a katana belonged to her, an actual sword, like the one her master wielded, belonged to her.

He told her its name and said it was hers. Its name was Sentō Tsurugi, and he had explained that it was not an ordinary blade, that it had special abilities and properties, but she needed to learn how to wield it on her own, needed to learn how to speak to it. How many nights since then had she spoken to her blade before she went to sleep, and when she woke up in the morning? It was far too many to keep track off.

She had also met his other apprentices, and learned that the blade she had received was the last free blade of the twelve, other people, men and women, mostly around teenage years, barely a few years older than her were in possession of the other eleven. Of the twelve she had been the only one to remain by his side during the majority of her training. Some of these people she had become friends with, others she had a fierce rivalry and competition with, but at the core they were all family, from similar backgrounds and taken under the wing of the same person.

That meant that when one was in trouble any others in the area would come to their aide. Jin had explained this on the rare occasion that the twelve of them were together. Eight boys and four girls including her, all orphans with nowhere to go, all who had seen the worst of humanity, brought together, taught how to survive, made into wandering warriors.

She remained with him until her sixteenth birthday, and it was then that he told her that he had nothing else to teach her. That she needed to leave his protection. That she needed to spread her wings and learn from her own experiences. She had been unsure. Almost terrified because she still did not know the abilities of her katana, yet he told her this was something all children needed to do in order to grow.

So the day after her sixteenth birthday she had parted ways with her sensei, and began to spread her wings and shape her own destiny. With nothing but the orange kimono on her back, the katana on her hip and the wide brimmed straw hat over her blonde locks she began to make her own way in the world.

She walked until she reached the edge of a cliff, a shear fall before her, and looked up in time to see the setting sun blazing out in all of its colourful glory. As she looked upon the setting sun she mused how it was symbolic, marking a new chapter in her life. The night before she had been scared and frightened on leaving her sensei's protection, but now, on her own with just the road in front of her she felt a different emotion.


She grinned.

It felt good, very good.

The mists hid everything. It was so thick that a person couldn't see beyond a few meters in front of them. It was a normal occurrence around this island, well out in the middle of the ocean between the Lands of Fire and Water. The Land of Waves was a true island nation, protected from war for hundreds of years because of the lack of a strategic position and the natural barricade of the body of water between her and the mainland.

The only way to access this little island chain was by ferry, and for a few years now those ferries had stopped running between the mainland and Nami. Rumours spread like the plague among this area of the continent, mainly of a corporate tycoon trying to make himself his own country and cutting off all communication with the small island nation from the outside world to make it a reality.

There was only one way to cross the waters now, and that was by a privately chartered boat, in most cases simply a small, flimsy fishing vessel like the one she was seated on at this exact moment. The fisherman was silent and nervous as he moved the vessel carefully and cautiously through the thick mists, not uttering a word, too scared to do so.

His passenger looked up at him, fair features half hidden by her wide brimmed straw hat. He noticed the orange kimono she wore, an unusual colour, and the katana at her hip and immediately made the connection that she was a travelling Samurai. He knew little else about her. He had just dropped off Tazuna the bridge builder on the shore of the mainland and was about to prepare for the crossing back when she had appeared right beside him, studying his fishing boat critically as he squeaked in surprise and jumped back in sudden fear.

She then threw him a small bundle of Ryo notes and asked to be taken across the ocean towards the Land of Waves. He was too scared to say no, so silently agreed and allowed her aboard. It was only then that he noticed that she wasn't like any of Gato's usual cronies, for one she was a woman, a young woman, in her teens with long lush blonde curls of hair which stretched to the small of her back, slightly tanned skin, whisker marks on her cheeks and cold, calculating azure blue eyes.

She would be considered a beauty in almost any culture.

"E-Excuse me miss?" the boatsman asked quietly.

"Hmm?" she returned, letting him know that he had her attention.

"I've been meaning to ask, why you want to come here?" he asked, gaining a little courage with each passing second. "We're in the middle of some trouble right now. A madman is squeezing the island dry and killing anyone who gets in his way. It's not really the safest place for a young lady like you."

"You're right," she agreed with a small smile. "It isn't the safest place for a young lady to go, but I'm no ordinary young lady."

The fisherman gulped, just noticing the hilt of another weapon edging from the small of the young woman's back, a large butchers knife which although it was sheathed the middle aged man guessed that it was as sharp and deadly as any katana. "Then why do you come if you know the danger?"

"You think that I am one of this Gato's goons, do you?" she asked in a monotone. Her personality was difficult for the older man to interpret, cold and calculating, yet with the slightest edge of mirth in her voice every now and then. If anything it made her all the more dangerous in his eyes.

"No, no off course not," the fisherman replied, feeling sweat on his brow as he continued to steer the boat towards the rocky outcroppings of his home. "I'm curious is all? We rarely get tourists these days, least of all those as well armed as you."

"You really want to reason why I am travelling in this direction," she asked, looking up to the boatman with those cold blue eyes. He gulped before nodding. "I am a traveller. I wish to travel the length and breadth of the elemental nations. My destination at the moment is the Land of Water, I was hoping for a ferry from the Lands of Fire to Wave then jump onto another one to Water."

The boatman didn't know how to reply to that, well he knew, but he was too scared to do so. He would have insisted that if the ferries between the Lands of Fire and Wave were inoperable then it was more than likely in reverse as well. He kept his mouth shut though, and the rest of the journey continued on in a tense silence. Finally they reached the mouth of a small beach and silently the fisherman brought his boat to shore and allowed the young lady out, who thanked him before moving on her way.

Tsunami walked down the once main street, shopping bag in hand as she surveyed her surroundings. Once, what seemed to be a long time ago the Land of Waves was a blissful paradise, safe from the politics and wars of the mainland and allowed to continue on its way without threat or fear.

That all changed a few years back when Gato and his corporation suddenly bought out all of the main travelling companies which operated between the Land of Waves and her neighbours, effectively isolating the small island nation from the rest of the world. Some of the shipping companies had capitulated without a fuss; others didn't and paid the ultimate price for it. She remembered the leaders of a few companies suddenly dying in accidents, their ships sinking without any real cause and the banks suddenly putting them in debt when they were once clean.

Within a year Gato and his organisation had effectively seized all of the shipping between the small country and the surrounding continent, plunging it into a recession unheard of in recent history. Those who openly challenged him, like her late husband, were killed in public as a message to any other would be dissenters and slowly the Land of Waves had deteriorated into a poverty stricken state, people were starving, there wasn't enough food to go around, and all the while that bastard was laughing from his palace, eating all the food and drinking all the drink his black heart desired.

The only chance at rejuvenating this dying country was the bridge her father was building, and even that hope dwindled by the day. With each day Gato's small army of mercenaries and gangsters threatened and bribed his workers into resigning from the project, and those who didn't surrender would suddenly disappear in the dead of night.

It all seemed hopeless, even if her father returned with a small unit of Shinobi to protect the bridge. There were rumours that the tycoon had acquired the services of several powerful mercenary Shinobi as collateral for that purpose. What could she or anyone in this country do now to such a threat? She wished with all that she had that she could help her father, but what could she do?

"Hey girly," Tsunami froze in place, looking slightly over her shoulder in time to see three of Gato's thugs, surrounding and peering over a young girl. She was not from around here, that was painfully obvious with her orange kimono, wide brimmed straw hat which enshrouded her face and katana sheathed at her side. "You do know that weapons aren't allowed here right?"

If the girl was intimidated by the trio of thugs she didn't show it, all Tsunami saw was a calm facade, yet her hand was already on the hilt of her katana, though she seemed to radiate an aura of peaceful cooperation. "Oh, I apologise, but I am not giving up my swords... as a Samurai it would be considered shameful to give them up without anything in return."

A truly predatory gaze came upon the three as they looked the girl over, young, yet well formed. The leader of the group grinned maliciously as he raised his hand, obviously aiming for the young girl's chest. "Oh, and what would you like in return."

There was a moment of silence as the other two seemed to understand their leader's strategy, and with perverted grins on their faces surrounded the young teenager. If she was intimidated by this method she showed no outward sign, instead a small smirk played across her face as she looked upon her would be aggressors. "Sorry boys, you're not my type."

As one they attempted to grab her, but in a blur of motion she was gone, much to the surprise of her would be rapists. She suddenly appeared behind the leader, swishing her sword before sheathing it in a smooth motion. A second after hearing the click of the guard hitting the end of the blade there was nothing, no sound, and slowly the three bandits looked at themselves, searching for any slices or sword cuts. After a moment the three looked at each other, and grinned nervously.

"You missed girly," the leader hollered in glee.

"Oh," the girl asked as she half turned to face them, a little smirk curing up her lips. "Did I?"

The three men laughed, laughter which was cut short by a sudden series of snaps, followed by their pants pooling on the ground. The three bandits looked down upon the tattered remains of their clothes in wide eyed shock, barely registering that they had their belts had been cut with expert precision. The half naked thugs were already gaining attention from the civilians in the street, mothers covered the eyes of their children, young women looked at the bandits for a brief second before covering their faces in mirth. Tsunami even felt a small smile curving up her lips, the first in quite a while.

"You bitch," the leader shouted, hearing the thud as one of his men tried to move but fell flat on his face.

The girl snorted, "Don't you have any decency? There are children here."

Their faces were as red as could possibly be before the leader pulled up his ruined pants and rushed out of the street, followed by his two associates. He turned his head as he ran and shouted over his shoulder. "We'll remember this!"

"I'm sure it will be difficult to forget," the girl murmured just loud enough for Tsunami to hear before she turned around and continued on her way. Ignoring the sudden hushed whispers from the few dozen surrounding people on who she was and if she had a death wish. Chances were that by evening the whole town will be talking about her.

Tsunami looked at the girls retreating back, before deciding to follow her. The woman had never seen this girl before, and her looks practically screamed that she was not native to these islands, blonde hair and bluish eyes were a rarity here. There was also the fact that she had just embarrassed three of Gato's hired thugs in broad daylight with a simple swing of her sword, Tsunami wasn't able to make out the girls movements she had been so fast.

The girl continued her journey through the small town for a few minutes before finding a rundown cafe. She took a seat on one of the worn chairs, leaning her sword and straw hat against the chair on the opposite end and waited for the waiter to arrive. It took a few minutes and when the man came out he looked as surprised as anyone else. Business had been hit badly when Gato took over all of the shipping, and the only thing they could gain was the meagre bounties from the few farms on the island. Most shops in the town had long since closed down, their windows boarded and doors sealed, only a select few were still open.

The girl asked for a sandwich and a glass of fruit juice as Tsunami took a table at the other side of the cafe, taking out a magazine and trying to look inconspicuous. When the food arrived she proceeded to inhale it barely a second after it was presented to her. Within a minute and a half of her being given the small snack she had completely eaten it. But when the waiter returned with the bill a problem arose. The girl searched through her pockets, coming up with nothing and offering an apologetic look at the disgruntled man.

"I kind of used up all of my money getting here," she said with a sheepish grin, causing Tsunami to look at the girl a little in surprise and disbelief. She just now realised that she had no money?

The man eyed her for a moment, "Then how do you expect to pay for it?"

"Hmm," the girl hummed thoughtfully in reply as she stood up, pulled back the sleeves of her kimono and looking over at the slightly surprised man. "I suppose I can work it off. Do you have anything that needs to be done?"

Tsunami frowned as she watched the waiter lead the apologetic Samurai girl into the back, and after a moment decided to follow, keeping at a distant pace. He led the blonde to the back of the shop, where there was a stack of logs and a base of a cut down tree. The man explained what he was wanted her to do.

"I need more wood for the ovens, little stores as there is. Cut twenty of these and I'll consider it you're payment." He explained, almost daring her to protest. The girl didn't, she smiled and reached for her katana, drawing it from the sheath. Tsunami was no expert in swords, but she could tell that the weapon was quality as the girl bid the man to take a step back and fell into a basic sword-fighting stance, placing a small log of wood onto the base.

She took a breath, lifting the sword over her head and brought it down upon the unsuspecting log, cutting it neatly in two with a single swing. The waiter raised his brow, impressed, and remained behind to watch as the girl repeated the process not twenty times like they agreed, but fifty times before thanking the man for his understanding and moving on her way.

Tsunami chose that moment to act. She didn't know why, but she had a feeling that this girl was exactly who she was looking for to protect her family from Gato and his thugs. She was definitely a skilled swordswoman at least. "Excuse me."

The girl stopped and turned to face her, looking her up and down inquisitively before smiling. "Finally decided to say hello?"

Tsunami blinked, not sure what the girl was talking about.

"You've been following me ever since I embarrassed those three morons on the road," she explained, placing her straw hat over her head and sheathing her katana in a smooth motion. Tsunami looked stunned, then embarrassed that she had been caught.

"I'm sorry," she said with a slight bow. "I did not mean to spy."

The girl raised her hand with a disarming smile. "Don't worry about it, water under the bridge as they say. So how can I help you?"

Tsunami raised her eyes at the girl, indecision clouding her dark eyes as they found herself wandering what the hell she was even doing. She was going to ask this girl, a complete stranger who didn't even look out of her teens, to put her life on the line to protect her family, people she didn't know from people who were probably out of her league.

"First," she found herself saying, ignoring the girls befuddled look and her own indecision. "Would you please listen to my story? Then we'll see where we go from there."

The girl hesitated for a moment, and then slowly nodded her head.

Tsunami led the girl to her home, and told her everything. She told the girl a step by step account on what happened through the young mothers eyes. How the business tycoon known as Gato had slowly but methodically taken over the shipping surrounding the small country, ferries, major fisheries, trading vessels and convoys. How her partner had tried to stand up to him when he began taking over the government of the small island and how he had died. She explained to the girl the crippling poverty of the island, of the orphans who lost their parents to the tycoon's wrath and the loss of hope in the general population not long afterwards.

She then explained about her father, who seemed to be the last man in the country with fight still in him, and his dream to build a bridge between them and the mainland, to break the businessman's hold on the island and to bring hope back to their small country. At the moment her father, and those who worked for him were the last hope this land had left. She told the girl her fears that Gato would definitely plan to stop her father at all costs, even end his life.

The young woman listened to her with rapt attention, never interrupting her as she went through her story. When Tsunami was finished there was silence, plain silence as the girl seemed to think, crossing her arms, eyes closed and her chin resting against her chest. After a moment of tense silence the girl opened her eyes and looked at the bridge builder's daughter intently.

"I have a question," she said at last.

Tsunami nodded, "Please."

"What makes you think I'm not one of these thugs who Gato's employed, or that I travelled here for the purpose of joining him?" she asked it casually enough, noticing the look of wide eyed shock and slight tinge of fear on the older woman's face.

After a moment of tense silence the woman gulped before asking a simple question with a soft voice, "Are you?"

She offered Tsunami a mischievous grin, "Nope, but you need to be more careful in future. Chances are I could have been one of his employed dogs, and then you would be in deep trouble."

Tsunami could only stare at the girl as she rose from her chair, stretching her arms with a groan as her muscles popped. "I'll do it."

Tsunami blinked.

"I'll protect you and your family." The girl said again, giving her a grin before it morphed into a frown. "I can't stand people like him, what is the point of all this, some sick demented quest to massage his ego or what."

Tsunami couldn't believe it, the girl had accepted, knowing the danger, the insurmountable odds arrayed against her if she did accept she did so with a smile. It took a moment for her vocal cords to start working again. "We need to discuss payment. I can't give much but whatever you want I will find a way to give."

The girl seemed to think for a moment, "Three square meals a day and a roof over my head. How does that sound?"

"That's all?"

"That's all," the girl nodded. "I will protect you and your family with my life, I give you my word and when I give my word I never break it, it's my way."

Tsunami watched as the girl walked to where her straw hat and katana were situated, settling the hat over her head and clasping the sword to her belt before turning to the door. "I'll be outside if you need me."


The girl stopped, turning her head slightly to look at her new employer, Tsunami hesitated for a moment, before asking a question she should have asked from the beginning. "I don't even know you're name."

The girl smiled, "My name is Naruto, Naruto Uzumaki."