Summary: The war with sound left many dead, the Hokage amongst them. Enemies of Konoha once cowed by its might begin to circle, sensing blood. In these turbulent times with the leadership of the village in question, heroes will rise as champions against the darkness. But these are not their stories. These are the stories of those few who sacrificed everything in the darkness, some willingly, others because they had no choice. These are the stories that will never be told, never be heard. These are the stories of the Inglorious Bastards.
The bag over his head was stifling to say the least. Brown burlap with the scent of urine and a stain that may or may not be vomit mixed with blood decorating where his eye could see. His hands were bound behind his back, tightly enough to be uncomfortable, but given Naruto's familiarity to being hogtied by Anbu he could probably break it in a few seconds. Then again with the two elite shinobi flanking him, a few seconds was all it took to be dead.
The hand on his bicep led him none to gently in whatever direction they were going towards, and for a moment Naruto had to wonder if he had made a mistake. Public opinion towards him seemed to have changed since he became a genin and had toned down on the pranks. The recent combined invasion from Sand and Sound seemed to have even furthered his admittedly none too impressive reputation, but he took what he could get. Still maybe it wasn't the brightest idea in agreeing to go with the Anbu who had come knocking on his door at midnight. Maybe someone higher up had decided to make it personal.
Their brisk march came to a halt with a jerk of his bicep, and the sharp wrack of knuckle on wood echoed in his ears. He did not catch an answer, but there was the creak of a door on squeaky hinges similar to the rusty one on his apartment doorframe. A jerk of his bicep led him into what he assumed was a room though he still could not see much.
"At ease." The voice that spoke was harsh and gravelly, inhumanly so. If someone had swallowed a mouthful of glass and proceeded to wash it down with some low grade acid, Naruto imagined that was what they might sound like.
The scraping of something on the floor was followed by a forceful push to his shoulder and he found his butt hitting a seat. The bag over his head was removed with a swift motion leaving him momentarily blinded by the sudden invasion of light to his pupil.
When his vision returned, the blonde genin allowed his eyes to take in his surroundings. The two Anbu escorts were nowhere to be seen, and the door he had come through was shut even though he had not heard them leave even with his rather keen ears. The room was small and cramped; the left wall was lined with file cabinets and the right side had an empty aquarium with what appeared to be multicolored snails slowly oozing along the sides of the glass leaving behind trails of snotlike slime.
A rickety desk that looked like it may collapse with a solid enough kick was in front of the genin, and behind that desk sat a rather misleading looking man full of contradictions. Even without the headband adorning his forehead, it was obvious he was no civilian. His face was bland at first glance, forgettable even, but the green eyes that stared back spoke of horrors few will ever know of. Scars littered his throat area, and peeking out from beneath the headband was the beginning of the ragged flesh of more scars. Unlike the proctor of the chunin Exam Ibiki, the man still had a full head of hair, and judging by the ash tray on the desk filled to the brim with cigarette butts mashed into its bowlike surface, he was a chain smoker that would put Sarutobi Asuma to shame.
With a deft flick of his wrist, the blonde freed himself of his bonds and rubbed his wrists slightly to get the skin that had chaffed underneath the tight ropes back to more healthy colors. Returning the steady gaze of the man, Naruto patiently waited for him to speak. He was the one who had been hauled out of his bed at midnight, he'd be damned if he was going to start whining like a brat.
"Uzumaki Naruto." The genin had to fight back a flinch upon hear his name spoken in such a tone, venom practically oozing from the man's mouth. Ignoring the unsettled feeling he was getting in his stomach, the blonde stared back determinedly.
"That's me. Who wants to know?"
Instead of answering, the mystery man reached into a drawer on the side of the desk and removed a massive manila folder. Dropping the overflowing file onto the desk with a dull thud, he flipped the cover over revealing numerous reports, documents and photos.
"Broke into the Inuzaka compound and added itching powder to all the dog kernels while relocating all their undergarments to the clan trees." The photo of numerous dogs dragging their bodies across the ground was stapled to an official looking document with colorful decorations on the trees in the background.
"Burglarized the Konoha Library for jutsu scrolls that were later returned with damage." Said scrolls were identified in another photo, some showing slight water damage. That actually hadn't been his fault, the damn Anbu had manhandled him pretty roughly when they caught him and had accidently knocked the scrolls into a nearby puddle. They must have pinned the blame on him. Figures.
"Infiltrated Anbu headquarters and spiked the drinking water with laxatives while placing plastic saran wrap underneath the toilet seats and removing all the toilet papers." Again more photos, though none of the bathrooms. Naruto had been forced to clean up that mess as a part of his punishment. He never regretted it.
"Sabotaged the tea garden of the Hyuuga Compound while painting lewd and offensive comments on their bedroom doors." The pictures of the graffiti nearly caused Naruto to laugh. The only door he had skipped was Hinata simply because even though she was weird, she was alright compared to the assholes she called relatives. They turned their nose up against the wrong orphan.
"Vandalized the Hokage monuments" That had been his last prank before he had become a genin and Nartuo felt was his personal best.
"Stealing the forbidden scroll from the Hokage Tower and learning a forbidden technique from the scroll" The man's voice had barely changed from the monotonous drone he had adopted as he flicked through the papers before him. "And numerous other complaints of vandalism, theft, and general misconduct."
The green eyes turned back to stare into defiant baby blues. "As far as I can tell, you should be locked up away inside our most secure prison for the trouble you've caused us. The only reason you haven't is the Hokage's will."
A cold sweat broke out on the back of his neck. The implication of the man's words was not lost on Naruto. Swallowing back thick saliva, he chose his words carefully. "But the Hokage is gone."
Lacing his finders together in front of his face, the shinobi sitting opposite of the normally energetic blonde stared back impassively. "Indeed he is. And by all means I should be locking you up for a rap sheet longer than most career criminals in their death bed."
The gears in his head begin to turn and the blonde felt some confidence return as he thought about it. While what the man said might have been true, he could have easily just been spirited away by the Anbu that had retrieved him and woken up in a dark cell somewhere never to know what he was being punished for. "But you're not."
"…" The steady contemplative gaze never wavered for a moment. "Where others see a troublemaker, criminal in the make and overall failure that will grow up to be a burden on society, I see potential."
Keeping silent the blonde did not avert his eyes. "Each one of your stunts proved that you were more than capable of infiltrating into some of the most secure compounds in the world, most of these pranks pulled before you were even a fully fledged shinobi. The laxatives could have been traded for poison, the graffiti switched with lethal paperbomb traps."
Leaning back into his seat the man scratched at his jaw. "You managed to escape the all seeing eyes of the Hyuuga clan, sneak past the keen sense of the Inuzaka and their dogs, infiltrate the headquarters of the most lethal shinobi our village has to offer and even steal what the Hokage himself had set out to protect personally. You could do a hella lot of damage to our adversaries if you're pointed in the right direction kid. And right now, I need every god damn weapon we've got to throw at the enemy."
Reaching into another desk drawer he drew out a pack of cigarettes. Knocking out one with the tap of his hand, he lit up and blew out a cloud of smoke. "I won't lie to you kid. Konoha's in trouble. For the past ten years we've been in relative peace because the other nations didn't want to start anything they didn't think they could finish. Mostly because benevolent though he was, the Sadaime was still the most feared Kage in the elemental nations even given his age. He's gone now. We're wounded, lost a lot of good people in that goddamn invasion by Orochimaru. The other big five are beginning to move, and our allies in the smaller countries are beginning to look to others for protection. War isn't a question of whether it will happen or not, it's simply a matter of when." Taking another drag from the smoldering cancer stick he paused his speech to tap some of the ashes into the tray.
"We need to strike now, strike fast while they still hesitate. Let them know our will is strong and our blades sharp. Make them regret even thinking about marching against Konoha. I'm putting together a small division of shinobi to take on the most critical missions. Infiltrating deep into enemy territory to wreak havoc behind their lines and sow confusion as to who they should be fighting. I need numbers, troop movements, supplies and any other information we can get our hands on."
Naruto felt building bubble of excitement replaced the fear that had been gnawing away in his stomach.
"These missions are too dangerous for our normal forces mostly because we can't afford to lose them. So we're sending in the expendables. I'm authorizing the release of some of our prisoners with deals to lessen their sentences if they choose to serve our village in our greatest time of need. I won't lie to you kid. You're one of these expendables. No one's gonna ask any questions if you're gone, and nobody's gonna shed any tears when you die. If you decide you want to make a difference, to join in on this, there won't be any acknowledgment or glory. Officially these missions will never happen. Black ink all around, only those who did them and I will know what happened. The pays gonna be shit, and you're probably going to die, more than likely at the hands of your own teammates rather than our enemies. You're be working with some of the wost scum Konoha's ever produced but haven't gotten around to putting down like the mad dogs they are. The missions will still be done with or without you. You say the word and you'll wake up in your apartment bed and go back to a life of D rank missions and we'll forget about this conversation all together. But here's your chance to make a difference for our home kid. Take it or leave it."
There was no hesitation or any doubt as to what Naruto was going to do. "Where do I sign?"
A look of surprise broke out on the man's face before it morphed into a terrible grimace. It took a moment for the blonde to realize that it was actually what passed for a smile for this man as the dark chuckle that followed attested to.
"You don't. Welcome to Anbu kid."
AN: Something I whipped up while I should actually be doing work. Story idea taken slightly from a justice league episode I saw years ago, think it was called task force X? I know in the graphic novels they were called the suicide squad. Anyways this takes place right after the invasion of Sound and in the wake of the Hokage's death and the council is still trying to figure out who to name Hokage. Instead the almost instant decision that was made in the series, the council is will be debating and carrying on with the duties of the village for much longer. Eventually will return to cannon, but we'll see if we can tease out some character depth and some good old fashion badass missions before then =). Let me know what you guys think! Ta Ta