Alright, I'm back.
Anyway, the response to the previous chapter was positive for the most part, sure there were some people that felt Naruto was a bit too OOC and I can see where they are coming from but the fact remains that that was one of the earliest scenes I thought of concerning this fic.
There was another point that people brought up, ANBU pay.
Yes, Naruto is getting paid crap for working in black ops, the reason for that? Because it would raise a LOT of suspicion if he spent more than a normal civilian earned while he was supposed to be one, that is why he is getting paid crap for it, because pay must reflect their cover... for example, Maneshi is 'officially' working undercover as a spy in Kiri and will get paid the standard pay for a mission of that level and risk regardless of what he actually does.
Now that is pretty much all I shall put here so let's get on with the show.
Somewhere a few miles away from one of the many small towns that existed in Hi no Kuni, a small camp existed.
Within the camp many bandits lazed about, completely oblivious to the porcelain masked shadow that observed them from one of the trees.
The mask the shadow wore was plain, outside of the bloodstain that decorated it, a bloodstain that had been there for nearly six months.
Yet even as the shadow crouched in the trees, his presence hidden not by any form of special technique or equipment but through pure skill that made him nothing more than a spectre towards any that would try to search for him.
Despite knowing that the enemies were no match for him, he did not make a move, he did not leave his position observing them, not because he was afraid but because it wasn't his territory. While he was easily stronger and deadlier than all but one of the bandits, it did not change the fact that he was no warrior and this situation was not to test his combat capabilities but his operational capabilities.
His goal was simple, to kill all the bandits in the camp without alerting anyone to his presence, including any captives that may be held in the camp.
So far he had been observing the group for three hours and had determined several things, one, that there were no captives to worry about being seen by, two, that the group was organised and therefore, predictable and three, that their leader was a rogue ninja.
He knew that the leader was nothing special, according to the bingo book he had memorized the man was only a B-rank ninja, which essentially meant he was somewhere in the region of high Chūnin to low Jōnin in skill.
That didn't matter to him, the leader would simply be the first to die, there was nothing else for him to concern himself with concerning the man, after all, such a level was nowhere near high enough to even detect the shadows presence, then again, the enemy's level shouldn't matter in that situation anyway, he was a figurative ghost after all.
His trained senses worked at full power to analyse the positions and condition of all the enemies, his mind working over the most efficient method of slaughter, he didn't care about the speed of the slaughter but the effort required to achieve it.
Eventually he made his move, blurring from tree to tree, doing nothing to give away his presence as he used his finely honed skills in the art of stealth to their fullest as he made his way towards the path that would take him to the ninja's tent.
Silently he moved from the tree line to the camp itself, his senses still expanded to tell him about everything around him as he avoided area's where he would be exposed in favour of anywhere that cover existed.
The tent itself was the real problem, getting into the tent without being caught would be near impossible, attacking through the fabric would give the enemy a couple of instants notice and therefore, time to react and attempting to draw the enemy out of the tent would put them on guard. However, he had a way around that problem.
He silently moulded his chakra, kneading it to perform one of the few jutsu he knew, the one that he had used more often than any other over the past six months… the Kage Bunshin no jutsu.
He needed no hand seals, he had practiced the jutsu so much over the past couple of months that he could now use it without anything as unwieldy as that. He had also long since practiced manifesting the bunshin manually, learning how to make them appear where he wanted and without any indication that they had appeared, a silent, undetectable creation of a perfect replica of himself.
This one appeared on the other side of the cloth that kept him separate from the enemy ninja and mere seconds later, he received the memories of the bunshin.
One down, seventeen to go.
Certainly he could attempt to kill them all at the same time however attempting such a thing would require more kage bunshin and the more of him there were running around, the more likely it would be that someone would catch sight of one of the copies and raise an alarm.
That was not an acceptable outcome.
Instead he would eliminate the thugs one at a time and hide the corpses, after that he would create a bunshin to henge into the enemy so that no suspicion would be raised when enough people had gone missing.
One by one the thugs fell, their training under the former shinobi worthless in the face of a shadow that they didn't even know existed and within half an hour, the camp was filled with but eighteen corpses and a single masked and cloaked individual.
"Congratulations Recruit," came a calm call from the tree line as another masked figure walked out, this one wearing a cat mask and lacking the cloak the other wore, "you successfully fulfilled all the mission objectives."
"Hai, Tenzō-Taichō," the assassin responded without a hint of emotion in his tone as he stood before the significantly taller man.
"How would you rate your performance?" the observer asked the cloaked figure calmly.
"Acceptable, the enemies were all low level, therefore my performance cannot be anything higher than that," the wearer of the blood stained mask stated without any inflection in his tone, earning a sharp nod off the older of the two.
"Correct, your performance could not have been any better than you achieved however the enemies were all insignificant and ignorant, if they had all been ninja then the operation may have gone very differently," the cat masked man stated without any emotion in his tone either, "however, if they were a greater threat then I doubt you would have gone through with such a plan of action would you?"
"My actions required that the enemies were all amateurs, attempting such a thing against professionals would not work," the shorter of the duo stated with a nod of his head.
"Good, now come, it is time to return to our base of operations," the senior said calmly, earning a nod off the child as the two proceeded to vanish in bursts of speed that left no trace of their existence outside of the massacre that had been committed by the younger of the duo.
XXX XXX XXX
Naruto was certainly happy to return to Konoha, despite making the statement about returning to the base of operations, they had returned to Konoha itself. Certainly it had taken a few hours to run the distance but in the end they had returned without any difficulties.
Of course Tenzō would've never said the word Konoha or made any implications of being associated with it while outside the village, it was against protocol to do so and could very easily give away an ANBU's affiliation, something which was considered a grave sin within the organisation as it would implicate the village in any number of criminal activities.
But none of that mattered right now, what mattered was that he had just been tested via completion of a bandit extermination mission and would soon be returning to the ANBU HQ. Officially he was on another sales trip outside the village and wasn't due to return till the following day, as such he would spend the rest of the night at HQ before his routine would finally change.
Tomorrow was the day he would finally receive his mask and codename.
He had already inquired about keeping his recruit mask, however Tenzō had been adamant that he could not take it home.
That didn't dissuade the blond, instead he simply asked that they preserve it at HQ since he wanted it to serve as a reminder of the day he lost his innocence… of the day he learned what he was capable of.
Even now he still remembered the feelings killing the copy of Sakura had inspired in him, however he had long since learned how to ignore them, especially when tasked with taking another life... or several.
Yes, he knew he was a completely different person to what he was six months ago, gone was the loudmouth brawler and in its place was a silent and fluid killer… not that he never spoke or had fun, he still acted as normally as he could when hanging out at HQ and still acted as a civilian while walking around Konoha as Uzumaki Naruto but after putting on the mask… that was when everything changed.
While wearing the mask he was a monster, he knew that much, no sane human being could kill so many people without feeling anything and yet, he could. He knew that what he did was completely different to the rest of his graduating class, the most they had done was go on a couple of C-rank escort missions and killed a couple of bandits in defence of their clients… he however had slaughtered entire camps of bandits without a seconds hesitation.
And to make matters even more obvious, his training had focused primarily around knowledge, learning advanced biology and how to examine a corpse and when he wasn't learning knowledge, he was either learning little tricks to help out his stealth skills or even more likely, new ways to kill.
He knew about fifty different ways to kill a person, several of which were instantly fatal with the rest practically guaranteeing death provided the enemy didn't receive immediately medical treatment for the damage caused… and several more of them were indistinguishable from natural causes, though at the same time, if used on the incorrect target they would raise suspicion as to why the person died in the manner they did.
Still, the fact remained that Naruto could call himself an expert in ending life, something his old classmates wouldn't be capable of claiming for quite some time if Kakashi's estimation was anything to go by.
But none of that really mattered to him, he couldn't tell them that they were just children playing ninja, he couldn't tell them that if they were ever targeted by him they would die before they could protect themselves, even Kiba, Shino and Hinata, the team that specialized in tracking would be powerless against him because even if they did catch him before he managed to kill them, the fact remains that he possessed the skill to snuff out their life regardless of that fact.
Admittedly that was only if he was using lethal methods, he didn't know how well he would do against them if he wasn't aiming to kill them.
Though he was certain that the poisons he kept on his person whenever he was in uniform would be more than capable of incapacitating them if he used lower concentrations instead of the usually fatal quantities he usually used.
He was pretty sure Anko would approve of that, after all, if he diluted the poisons with the intention of keeping the victim alive then they would probably end up in excruciating agony.
Finally arriving at the Hokage's tower, he followed his teachers lead just like he always did, walking through the entrance and towards T&I, completely ignoring the other occupants of the room in the process. There was no speaking while walking towards the HQ, saying anything to anyone could give away speech patterns and allow for someone with enough familiarity to recognize the member despite the voice distorter built into the masks.
Not that he felt like talking there anyway, the atmosphere had completely changed ever since the previous Chūnin exams.
He hadn't been in the crowd, instead tending the store while the event was taking place… until the invasion had started.
The young blond had wanted nothing more than to assist in defence of the village but he had already been given explicit instructions to remain uninvolved and act as a civilian at all times throughout the attack. He was certain he would've defied those orders if it wasn't for Mitsuki keeping him out of trouble and making sure he followed his orders.
Apparently the Hokage and elders considered nothing more important than ensuring the secrecy of the black op members identities.
He had heard that the village had been attacked by a bijū on top of the two armies that stormed the walls and that the only reason the beast hadn't crushed half the village was because one of the Densetsu no Sannin had been guarding the villages perimeter with his toad summons.
That didn't change the greatest casualty of the assault… that the Sandaime Hokage had been killed in action.
Even after several months he still found himself having trouble accepting the death of the person he considered the closest thing to a grandfather figure in his life.
And beyond that was the process of selecting the Godaime Hokage. It had taken nearly six whole weeks for the inauguration to occur and involved Jiraiya of the Sannin turning down the position, trying to retrieve his old teammate Tsunade for the position, something which he failed to achieve, then the council attempted to persuade the man to take the position anyway, which he continued to deny before they decided to approach Hatake Kakashi about it, only for him to turn it down under the pretence that he was a Jōnin sensei and didn't want to leave the team before they were ready and then when all that was done, they finally decided on giving the position to Shimura Danzō.
The problem there was that during the Jōnin vote, the ninja forces practically declared that they didn't want to work under him when no one voted to accept his claim on the title and in the end, Konoha ended up without a Hokage, instead giving temporary control of the village to the advisory council, Jōnin commander and the head of ANBU until such a time that a new Hokage could be agreed upon.
And that situation had become known throughout the shinobi nations.
The political fallout of one of the five great shinobi villages no longer possessing a Kage had been immense, causing many villages that would normally consider Konoha too great to threaten as having been weakened to the point of being crippled despite the lack of truth in that assumption.
What was really unsettling was the movements of both Kumogakure and Iwagakure.
It appeared that both villages were preparing themselves for war, quite possibly considering the possibility of crushing their old adversary while they were down and unable to properly defend themselves either through military or politics.
The probes that the other villages had sent to test their defences said that they were definitely considering starting the fourth shinobi war.
And Naruto hated it.
The fact that Konoha was on the brink of war and he wouldn't be capable of fighting on the front lines was torturous for him, the only consolation he could find was that if it was war time, he would get more missions to assassinate high ranking officials that supported the other sides but that wouldn't provide that much help to the regular forces that would fight on the front lines.
In the end, he simply hoped that the council would be capable of persuading someone to take the position of Hokage soon, otherwise they could very well face a full onslaught from two of Konoha's greatest enemies while they and their primary ally were both still recovering from a traitors machinations.
But none of that mattered to black ops as a whole, the KDF were on a completely different track, working overtime to try and keep Konoha safe but since black ops were so secret and uninvolved in open combat… they were ordered to act as normal.
Finally reaching the entrance to the ANBU HQ, the duo entered the passage without a word, ensuring that the door was closed properly behind them. They had only been gone a day but the reality was that this day was yet another that the man could've spent protecting the village.
The only reason Tenzō had even been allowed to escort the blond out of the village was because the council had all agreed that his skills would probably be needed if they wanted to restore some semblance of balance to the shinobi nations… after all, if Iwagakure and Kumogakure got too full of themselves and chose to start a war, then they would need to be brought back down to earth and the quickest way to do that was to remove their own Kages from their positions.
And Naruto understood that.
He was essentially Konoha's secret weapon, the one thing they had that could tip the scales back into their favour… well, Kirigakure was attempting to recover from their own civil war but in the end they didn't have the same level of resentment that Konoha possessed from the other villages and they were left alone.
For that reason it would be unlikely for the blond to be sent to that village to kill their leader, there simply just wasn't enough need to risk such an action where they were involved.
In the end, if a fourth shinobi war did occur, the chances would be that Kirigakure would end up as one of the strongest villages despite having just come out of a civil war and the reason for that would be simple, because they would still have a Kage.
"Welcome back, did you enjoy your latest killing spree?" a cheerful voice called out when they entered the common room, making Naruto look in the direction of Maneshi as he sat in his usual corner with a saucer of sake in his hands.
"No, it was a test, not a hobby," the whiskered child said as he finally removed his bloodstained mask and the cloak that covered his entire body.
"So how did you do?" Raida asked from his place on the sofa, his usual book no longer in his hands.
"It was… acceptable," the blue eyed child stated without any inflection in his tone as he found the appropriate word to describe how he performed on the test.
"Man, you seriously need to lighten up some, you've been way too gloomy ever since the Sandaime kicked the bucket," the explosives expert said with obvious dislike for the fact the blond hadn't yet gotten over the fact.
"Well perhaps if the overall situation wasn't so bleak I would be able to relax a little," the whiskered youth stated bluntly, earning a sigh off the brown haired black ops operative.
"Seriously, you need to learn how to push that stuff out of your head Naruto," the drinking man stated with a gloomy aura enveloping him as he was reminded of the many problems that faced Konoha right now.
"Yeah, black ops is one of the few places where you need to relax whenever you get the chance, especially if it looks like the village is leading up to war," Kenshin stated from his position in one of the corners, "just because everything is going to hell doesn't mean you have to run yourself into the ground over it."
"Besides, tomorrow is the big day right? Surely you should get some relaxation before you are fully integrated into ANBU right?" Maneshi said as he finished off his saucer with a large gulp.
"Yeah… I guess I should try and relax a little more huh?" Naruto admitted despite not finding it in himself to actually think of happy things while the world was crashing down around him.
"Well, sake makes everything better, up for a suppressor?" the brown eyed seal user asked his junior with a grin, earning a soft smile off the blond in the process.
"Yeah, it is nice to get drunk every now and then," the jinchūriki replied as he walked over to the bar and pulled open a small drawer filled with syringes. He knew it wasn't something to take on a regular basis, the liquid within it had only one purpose, to suppress his healing factor, apparently the hospital had developed it in case they ever needed to operate on him and his healing factor started to get in the way… one of the side effects of the drug was that it allowed him to get drunk.
There were other side effects that meant he couldn't use them regularly, namely that if he takes enough of it then he could either develop an immunity to the drug's effects or even worse, permanently turn off his healing factor and in turn, cut his lifespan drastically.
And that wasn't even including the fact that it would make him completely vulnerable to poisons, sure he wasn't exactly immune to them with his healing factor but he could delay the onset of the toxin for a little while and his body would purge itself of the danger within a couple of hours while simultaneously keeping him alive throughout the process.
But in the ANBU HQ and about once a month, he could take a shot and allow himself to get drunk.
He hesitated as he thought about the fact that if he took one today he wouldn't be able to take another after the inauguration ceremony the following day. He quickly shook his head clear, the ceremony would most certainly not be a time for getting drunk, he understood that much from the simple fact that ANBU was a professional organisation and induction was an incredibly formal affair with no celebration associated with it.
So he picked up one of the syringes and quickly made the needle pierce the skin on his arm, ensuring that he found a vein where it could start circulating his body and slowing down his metabolism and restricting the production lymphocytes.
He knew that the drug would take about fifteen minutes for its effects to become visible however that didn't stop him from picking up a bottle of sake and preparing himself for a night of drinking.
XXX XXX XXX
The next day Naruto woke up groggily just as he normally did, knowing that his healing factor had dealt with whatever hangover would've existed if he was a normal person.
He was once again in one of the ANBU HQ beds and immediately started to get up and head towards the changing rooms, he was certain he needed a shower before getting dressed properly.
Showers were a short matter for him, nothing more than a case of washing himself and getting ready for the rest of the day, that was all that they meant to him and that resulted in them only taking about five minutes with another five spent drying himself off and getting dressed.
Today he immediately got dressed in his standard issue ANBU shirt, pants and sandals. He had yet to receive his true mask, ninjato or the armour associated with the group, he was just a recruit undergoing training until now after all and recruits didn't need the armour that the fully fledged members wore.
Sure he had practiced using a ninjato sized bokutō on several occasions so he knew exactly how to use it to the greatest effect, he was by no means an expert at kenjutsu but he didn't plan on getting into any fights in the first place so all he really needed was knowledge of how to kill with it and that was something he had gotten very good at.
He returned to the common room where he noted that Tenzō was already up and prepared to take him to the council chambers where the ceremony would occur.
"How long before the ceremony starts?" the spiky haired youth asked calmly as he looked at the cat mask that Tenzō was currently wearing.
"A little over two hours," the man that taught the blond nearly everything he knew stated with a blank tone of voice, Naruto didn't need to be given any instructions about what to do, he had long since outgrown such immaturity.
Going over to the bar, he picked up the mask and cloak he had left there the previous night and put both on without a word before making his way towards the sofa and making himself comfortable as his heart started to race at the prospect of what today signified.
He would finally be sent on actual missions instead of the jokes he had been practicing his skills with for the past couple of months.
He would finally be given the mission that he had been dreading ever since he first heard about it.
He would finally be sent to assassinate a Kage.
He knew that was inevitable, before the death of the Sandaime it was simply a possibility to gain political leverage, now it would be a way of cutting off the enemies head and sow discord amongst their forces.
Before it was optional, now it was necessary.
He cleared his head and started to meditate, it was a skill that he had been forced to learn given how much of preparing an assassination was waiting for the perfect opportunity. Before he had been unable to sit still for a minute but now, now he was capable of remaining still for hours, if not days, on end.
Certainly he didn't enjoy the act, he was still an Uzumaki with boundless stamina and ludicrous chakra reserves, the thought of staying still was an incredibly difficult process but he had learned it and worked hard to ensure that he could wait for as long as necessary when on a mission.
He chose to ignore the sounds of the others that had stayed the night at HQ as they woke up, though he had to admit that Maneshi definitely sounded hung over, not that Naruto felt sympathy for the demolitions man, he knew exactly what he was getting into when he decided to drink like he did.
"Uzumaki, it's time," Naruto immediately knocked himself out of his trance as Tenzō called out to him, indicating that the time to leave for the ceremony had finally arrived.
XXX XXX XXX
The walk through the Hokage's tower was done in silence just like normal, however the nervousness that existed in the blonds chest was still present and no matter how hard he tried to calm himself, he simply found that he couldn't.
It almost made him laugh, he could slaughter an entire bandit camp without batting an eyelash and yet meeting with the temporary village leaders was enough to make him a nervous wreck.
He couldn't help but admit to himself that Mitsuki had been right when she said that black ops turned people into living weapons.
Finally coming before the council chambers, Tenzō gave a brief knock on the door that was immediately answered by an old man with a simple order to enter.
Upon entering the room, the young Uzumaki took note of exactly who was present.
On the far left was a middle aged man with black hair tied into a style reminiscent of a pineapple. His face was marred with many scars that made it very clear that he was a veteran of war. What Naruto knew him as however was Nara Shikaku, the Jōnin commander and Shikamaru's father.
Sitting directly next to him was an old woman he recognised as one of the Sandaime's old teammates and one of the people that suggested him for the ANBU program in the first place, Utatane Koharu.
At the far right sat a man he had met on several occasions, he still didn't know the man's name despite that, only that he was the commander of the ANBU forces, the man that would pass the mission briefings onto the appropriate members before they proceeded to perform their missions as instructed. He was also the person responsible for designating squads and their leaders both for the KDF patrols and the black ops operations.
Sitting next to him was another person the blond had met before, Mitokado Homura, Koharu's former teammate and the other person to suggest the jinchūriki's place within the Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai.
And sitting in the middle was another person he recognised, however this time it was from one of the bingo books he had obtained during one of his earlier test assaults on bandit camps… the spiky black hair, the cross shaped scar on his chin and the bandages covering his right eye, the man could be none other than Shimura Danzō, the Sandaime's old rival and one of the failed candidates for the position of Godaime.
And he knew it was because none of the Jōnin trusted the man as opposed to his skill.
Upon reaching the centre of the room, the spiky haired youth immediately went down to one knee with his opposing hand held in a fist and pushed against the floor as was customary for the members of ANBU to do when being addressed by a superior.
"Welcome recruit," Danzō said from his position at the centre of the five, "today, you are here to officially receive your mask, armour, ninjato and codename."
He motioned towards the pile of equipment that was located on the table directly in front of him before he continued.
"From this moment onwards, you are hereby a fully fledged member of the Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai and shall be expected to maintain the secrecy required from such a position," the bandaged man stated firmly as the cloaked child remained motionless.
"Your skill set and level has been analysed by your instructor throughout your training and his report has been used to determine the appropriate mask and codename for you," the oldest in the room continued, earning nods of acknowledgement from the other four in the room, "and thus, from this moment onwards, you are hereby declared Mamushi of the hebi mask, now collect your equipment and return to ANBU HQ to await further instructions."
"Hai Danzō-sama," the blond stated without emotion as he rose from his position and walked forward to accept his new equipment, looking at the lightweight armour, razor sharp blade currently contained within its sheath and lastly, the porcelain snake mask that rested on top of the rest.
It felt unreal to him, to finally hold the final proof of his place within the village.
The final proof of what he would do for the next three years.
Without further word, he turned and left the room, Tenzō once again acting as his escort as he returned to the closest thing to home he had.
Back to the room where the roots that support the tree live.
Alright, I hope everyone enjoyed this chapter, it sort of just flowed straight to me when I started writing it.
Now, I will tell you this, I intend on putting up notes about how this fic diverges from canon events on my blog under the fanfiction notes section, they will include matters such as what happened with the Wave Mission, what happened during the chunin exams and what happened to Tsunade.
These notes will simply inform you the basics of what happened during those events and won't have much detail, just information about what happened.
The Last Thing I Want To Mention Is This:
Now that I have finally reached this point, I shall finally start creating spin offs of this fic under the 'Undisclosed Operations' series and they shall simply be about how this version of Naruto would act in other worlds.
So I would like to ask if anyone has any world they would like to see this Naruto impact?
If so I would like to request that you post them on my forum (accessible from my profile page) under the 'Undisclosed Operations Series' thread.
Well that is all for now so until next time.
The Shadow shall vanish into the night.