AN: I have returned and proudly present you a brand new chapter! Why did it take me so damn long to get this out? Well, the reason is a mix of me being very lazy during the weekends in the last months and finding a good transition from the previous chapter to this one was particularly difficult for me. The research I had to do took quite some time as well. Hopefully I was able to exceed or at the very least meet your high expectations for this chapter. By the way, Bee won't rap all the time, only occasionally if I can come up with something. Have a good read!
Last edited: 01.17.2014
Chapter 9 - The Curse of Hatred
Naruto had slammed the half of the photo showing his sperm donor, Minato Namikaze, the hero who chose to turn his son, his own flesh and blood, into a weapon for the village instead of raising him like a true father was supposed to do, on the Sandaime Hokage's desk, paying the shocked gasps that followed no mind. Glancing one last time at the image of his smiling mother on the remaining half the blonde stored it away before he turned to face the one person he hated even more than the Yondaime Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi.
The boy struggled to not let his body betray the storm of violent emotions that was raging inside of him solely out of self-preservation, resisting the urge to dash forward and rip the old man's throat out, possible only thanks to the mental and physical discipline he gained through years of harsh training. Naruto felt powerless and it infuriated him to no end!
Behind the wooden desk sat the spineless dishonorable coward who decided to stay on the sidelines, despite the alliance between Konohagakure and Uzushiogakure, and allowed his clan to be wiped out, his brothers and sisters, all slaughtered without mercy just because of the sheer limitless potential they possessed, which terrified their enemies. However, when his ancestor, Mito Uzumaki, was dying of old age, his clan had offered one of their own, his mother, the only person fit to be the next vessel of the accursed demon fox that threatened to obliterate Konoha if set free. The Uzumaki came to Konoha's aid, honoring the alliance, yet, when Uzushiogakure was under siege Hiruzen didn't come!
His homeland, Uzu no Kuni, got destroyed, his family decimated. Ruins, stories, and Naruto himself are all that's left of the Uzumaki. Everything they were survives now only in him! Knowing this the old geezer has the gall to tell him he must forsake his identity, condemning him to live the rest of his life in the shade of the tree called Konohagakure no Sato in order to protect the same village that betrayed his own! What does his clan, no, what does he owe Konoha?! He was Naruto Uzumaki, proud heir to the Uzumaki clan! That's something nobody can ever take away from him. The blood in his veins proved it!
Naruto needed to leave and vent out his frustration on something at being unable to do anything against the man responsible for his clan's demise, hence asked for permission to do that, but couldn't bite back a snide remark "Is there anything else you need me for Hokage-sama or am I free to go. This room smells like rotten people. I need some fresh air."
"You are dismissed.", Hiruzen replied curtly.
Not wanting to spend any more time together with the Hokage and his godfather in the same room than necessary he rapidly turned around, but his battle instinct suddenly warned him to evade an incoming strike from behind! However, what followed happened so incredibly fast, too quick for him to react properly.
A sharp pain in the back of his neck was all Naruto's advanced senses registered before he felt his body going numb, his vision was slowly fading. The genin noticed he was falling and on instinct he wanted to shoot his arms forward in order to break his fall, though they didn't listen to his commands. Naruto watched helplessly as the ground kept coming closer and closer. 'No, No, No, I'm losing consciousness!', he thought in panic and all the boy could hear in the deafeningly silence that enveloped him was his rapidly increasing heartbeat.
Rippling water entered Naruto's view, replacing the dark wooden floor in the Hokage's office, followed by the reflection of his face on the surface once it had calmed down. He was on his hands and knees, the lower part of his pants drenched. The blonde could only stare at his image in confusion and disbelief. 'W-What's going on?! Where am I?!'
The sudden noise snapped the puzzled boy out of his stupor and he took in his surroundings. Naruto found himself in a sewer like hallway, droplets of water were occasionally dripping down from leaking pipes on the ceiling and there was no source of light, yet, for some reason, it was dimly lit.
'Am I dead? Is this the afterlife? If so, it certainly sucks, very underwhelming.', Naruto mused while straightening himself up. He wasn't religious, but open-minded to the idea of an afterlife, especially after having read stories about how the Nidaime Hokage, Tobirama Senju, could summon the dead with a jutsu he invented called Kuchiyose: Edo Tensei (Summoning: Impure World Reincarnation) by obtaining the DNA of deceased people and sacrificing war prisoners as host bodies for the souls and ordered the immortal zombies to perform suicidal attacks during the First Shinobi World War, turning the tides of many battles in Konoha's favour after his brother, the Shodai Hokage, was killed in combat.
The blonde frowned deeply and crossed his arms, thinking 'How despicable, but to be expected from a Hokage I guess, after all the end justifies any means for them, whether it entails to turn your own newborn child into a jinchūriki, leave your loyal comrades to die, or violate the natural balance of life and death for the benefit of the village. To think I dreamed of becoming one, it makes me want to puke. As long as such scum and people like Gatō rule the world only more scum is born! They deserve to die, it can't go on like this! Someone needs to eliminate the vermin from the world! Well, no need to rack my brain about that if I'm dead anyway...'
Naruto growled menacingly, he really hoped this was just a weird dream caused by a head injury or it would only add to the humiliation he had previously suffered at Hiruzen's hands, biting the dust without having put up a decent fight to avenge his family and claim his birthright hurt the warrior within him! In a fit of anger the enraged boy punched the wall to his right with tremendous force.
Only to regret having done that immediately afterwards. He winced in pain and clutched his hurting left fist 'OW! Damn, that hurt! One thing is certain, wherever I am, this place is sturdily built...' That strike had enough power to easily shatter a log into a million pieces, yet there wasn't even a single crack on the wall! Luckily though the pain subsided quickly and his knuckles weren't bruised.
Naruto exhaled deeply and relaxed, pondering how to proceed 'Hm Staying here and staring into space won't do any good. Let's see if I can find something interesting around here.' Going with his gut, the blonde decided to trace the leaking conduits, reasoning they had to eventually lead somewhere and walked down the hallway for about a minute, creating ripples in the water on the ground with each step.
Turning around a corner he felt something familiar, causing him to stop in his tracks as well as his eyes to widen in concern 'H-How is that possible?! I can feel that vile chakra again, however, this time it doesn't radiate from my belly, instead...' he swallow hard '... the source is right in front of me.' Putting his guard up Naruto continued his march untill he arrived at the entrance of a very large room, the sound of someone, no, something breathing put him on the edge. He walked inside and approached a giant cage with a paper on it that had the kanji for Seal written on it. Those signs were a dead giveaway for the blonde as to what was lurking in the darkness behind the bars.
Without any warning the huge grinning visage of the legendary Kyūbi no Yōko emerged from the shadows. The fox's blood-red slitted eyes bored into his soul. A sight which froze his blood! Furthermore, a monstrous wall of killing intent hit the unprepared genin head on, it was maddening!
At that moment, for the very first time in his life Naruto was truly scared! In his mind's eye he saw the beast killing him in the most horrifying ways he could imagine, being squashed like a bug underneath its paw, burned by a stream of fire coming from its mouth, gutted with a lazy flick of one sharp talon, having all of his bones crushed at once by a single swipe from one of its nine tails, torn apart limb from limb, and worst of all, being eaten alive.
The intimidated boy whimpered and shook like a frightened child. Being so close to the cage he also sensed the full extend of the Kyūbi's malicious power with his additional sense, it was enormous, even Hiruzen, the strongest ninja he encountered so far, was a mice compared to the demon. Naruto felt as if he was slowly losing his mind! That vast thirst for blood was just too much and he wanted to curl into a fetal position, but his body didn't respond 'W-Why? Why c-c-can't I m-move?! S-Such m-murderous intent! Someone, p-please help me!'
Kurama was really enjoying himself and chuckled at seeing the fear in his host's eyes, making a good first impression was very important to let these pesky humans know their place in the world. 'Seems like I didn't lose my touch after all those years in here and considering I'm only at fifty percent of my original power, damn Yondaime, damn Shinigami.', he thought and cursed the two responsible for his predicament. The mighty fox hoped he still held the title of strongest Bijū with just his Yang chakra left. No way in hell would he let Gyūki, aka the Hachibi (Eight-Tails), take over that spot!
Noticing Kushina's offspring was still rooted to the spot Kurama revealed himself in all his glory and addressed him. "Speak up, human! My patience is running thin. State your business or leave."
The Kyūbi tapped the ground impatiently a few times with one claw for emphasis, but still only silence. He smirked "Aw Don't tell me little Naru-chan has lost his tongue from that tiny bit of killing intent. Pathetic! After you successfully forced my chakra back into the seal with your willpower I expected so much more."
It was actually a large amount of killing intent he released, not that the fox would reveal this though. Besides, he knew Naruto's name from watching seven years of the boy's memories till now out of boredom and... nostalgia, oh how much he missed the feeling of warm sunrays and wind on his body. The instant the blonde had tapped into his chakra Kurama gained access to them, thus he was well aware of Naruto's childhood and bad treatment. How ironic, humans call him a demon, yet they are the cruelest species on the planet, even his father was unable to change their dark hearts and if he couldn't, then nobody can.
The Bijū's taunt hit a nerve. 'I-It's mocking me?! H-How dare it, no... the better question is how can I display such weakness in front of the creature that killed my mother?! She and Mito-sama were the fox's jailors before me! I'm making a total mockery of my Uzumaki ancestry!', Naruto found the will to fight against the primal instinct that froze him from the anger and disgust he felt towards himself. He stopped trembling, gritted his teeth, and balled his hands into fists with enough force to turn his knuckles white. Never before did the blonde feel so ashamed than in this moment. Fear is weakness! It evokes doubt and one essential lesson he learned during his Rokushiki training, particularly when practicing Tekkai (Iron Mass), was that a true warrior must always believe in himself. That is true strength!
Having regained his composure Naruto locked eyes with Kurama, glacial blue met fiery red. "I ended up here by accident, believe me, I don't enjoy looking at your ugly grimace and would rather be somewhere else. But since I'm here I have the chance to tell you this face to face. We have unfinished business. You are going to pay the ultimate price for taking my mother's life, beast! I'm going to make you suffer beyond your wildest imagination, dattebayo!", he declared in pure contempt. The blonde didn't have to wait long for a response. It came in form of a the loudest blood curdling roar he had ever heard! However, Naruto stood his ground, unfazed, and kept staring disdainfully at the fox.
"Insolent flesh-bag! Who do you think you are talking to?! I am the mighty Kyūbi no Kitsune, an unstoppable force of nature, even the other Bijū bow before me, I am hatred incarnate! You are nothing and should be grateful to be my host! Without me you don't have the power to do anything, miserable runt! You can't threaten me, foolish mortal, I cannot be killed and will live forever!", Kurama announced and bared his teeth, glaring right back at Naruto. A few tense second passed in utter silence and neither had moved an inch. The boy's eyes began to really unnerve him, they were awfully similar to Madara's accursed Sharingan and he wanted to gouge them out. Despite knowing his claws couldn't reach the human he just couldn't resist the urge.
'I-Impossible!', the Kyūbi was shocked. He had no idea how this could happen. His talons hit a transparent barrier between the bars and he pushed against it with all his might, but the invisible wall didn't budge. 'Where did this barrier come from? It won't let my chakra go through! Is it part of the seal and protecting the boy?', the fox's musings were cut short by Naruto laughter.
"Mighty Kyūbi my ass. You are not as powerful as you believe yourself to be or else you wouldn't have been locked up three times in total in the first place. My sensei taught me no one is truly invincible, everyone has their weak points, even supposed immortals, and yours are obviously fūinjutsu and Kekkai Ninjutsu (Barrier Ninja Techniques). Too bad for you that those fields are my family's speciality. I already have a wonderful idea what I'm going to do with you. Yes, justice will be served. Let me give you a hint so you can look forward to it...", the blonde paused for dramatic effect and grinned evilly before continuing "Your immortality will become a curse and you are going to wish you were dead for good. You will be completely helpless. Try to imagine how it would feel to live on forever, unable to do anything with all the power you possess. An eternity where there is nothing but you."
Kurama was absolutely stunned! His eyes widened in sheer terror as he complied and tried to imagine what the blonde had said, being trapped in an endless void of darkness with no means of escape, slowly going insane in the course of the millenia, it shocked him to the core. Moreover, judging by the look of madness on his face the boy wouldn't rest untill he finds a way to pull that off. 'W-What is he?!'
Naruto chuckled darkly because the tables were now turned and he spoke in an amused tone "What's wrong, furball? Are you afraid? I guess demons and humans have something in common after all, your kind feels fear just like we do."
"Ignorant human! I'm a Bijū, not a demon!", the fox retorted.
Naruto scoffed in response "Force of nature, hatred incarnate, demon, Kyūbi, Bijū, whatever you call yourself, I couldn't care less. To me you are nothing more than a chakra battery with a consciousness that did its worst mistake about thirteen years ago when you murdered my mom for which you are going to pay! There is nothing left to say between us, next time we meet, you are going to move into your new home, take my word for it."
With that being said the blonde turned around, ignoring the Kyūbi hastily offering him to strike a deal with it, and calmly walked towards the entrance, back into the hallway in order to mediate and think of a strategy to avenge his family as well as restore the Uzumaki clan's former glory since Naruto realized he had to be extremely cautious from now on. His enemies were on a whole different level! The beating he received in the office made this painfully obvious, one slip up or acting rash and he's done for. Also, who knows what they are doing to him right now? He would eventually wake up in the real world again... hopefully.
Kakashi sighed tiredly as he stopped reading a red book titled Icha Icha Violence, the much-anticipated and yet unreleased sequel to Icha Icha Paradise, signed and given to him by Jiraiya himself about half an hour ago. It was a true masterpiece of literature and definitely deserved all its hype, but he just couldn't enjoy pursuing his hobby as much as he usually would.
The recently made tokubetsu jōnin was leaning against the wall of Naruto's apartment next to the door and opposite the window where his headstrong pupil slept soundly in his bed, waiting patiently for the blonde to wake up from his slumber ever since he brought him home once the Hokage had dismissed him. Looking up from the novel Kakashi glanced sadly at the snoring and drooling boy on the blanket.
'He looks so peaceful now.', he thought in relief, because once the Hakke no Fūin Shiki (Eight Trigrams Seal) was closed Jiraiya began to draw the new special seal onto the boy and Kakashi had to restrain Naruto, who unexpectedly started to shake like a leaf as if he was having a terrible nightmare, giving him a scare. 'Did it really have to come to that? Am I at fault, am I the one to blame...', an image of Obito flashed before his mind's eye 'yet again. I was the one who asked for a higher ranked mission. Had I just kept my mouth shut Naruto wouldn't be dealing with this right now... or it might just have delayed the inevitable. Oh Naruto, you were acting like a spoiled brat trying to get his way. Just what is going on inside your head?'
Only a few moments later his student slowly began to stir awake. Naruto shifted and moaned softly as he stretched his body. Noticing this Kakashi closed his new book and put it into his pouch. The blonde was immediately aware of another person's presence nearby due to his practical extra sense, which additionally told him it was his sensei, who appeared to be distraught. As time went by Naruto had discovered that every living being has a unique signature, similar to a fingerprint, and he memorized how his precious people felt like.
Pushing his torso up with his elbows the perplexed boy raised a quizzical eyebrow and inquired "K-Kakashi-sensei? What happened to me and how long was I out?", before he lifted himself up further to sit on the edge of his bed, facing Kakashi fully.
"Not too long, Naruto. But first things first. How are you feeling? You were shivering in your sleep."
The boy rubbed the back of his neck and proceeded to crack it audibly "I have better access to my chakra than before, which is great, but other than that, I feel perfectly fine, really. Please sensei, tell me what's going on. All I remember is a sharp pain in my neck after I turned around to leave the office, then... nothing."
Kakashi hesitated for a second, fearing the boy's reaction, but answered the question truthfully in the end "I was the one who carried you home. Hokage-sama knocked you out with a swift chop to the neck. Afterwards he ordered Jiraiya-sama to brand you with a modified version of the Hyūga clan's cursed seal on the back of your neck..."
The blonde's eyes widened in justified dread, taken aback. When Hinata started to open up more to her team she shared knowledge about the Hyūga clan with him and Sasuke unknown to the public, no clan secrets, of course, merely harmless information every Hyūga gets drilled into from an early age, by force if necessary. Humiliation and corporal punishment was quite usual behind the walls of their compound since the clan doesn't tolerate disobedience in any way, shape or form and the demand for respect was extremely high.
The girl narrated on the verge of tears about her violent upbringing, shocking both of them, but Sasuke much more than him, who previously believed his own clan was strict and pressured him too much when he was young. The raven-haired boy could relate to her because Sasuke also sought his father's acknowledgement, though, just like Hinata, he was unable to step out of his more talented sibling's shadow. However, his father never once raised a hand against the young Sasuke to punish him for not fulfilling his expectations unlike Hiashi. Nevertheless, after all she has been through, Hinata still loves her family with all her heart.
Furthermore, she told them about the clan's practice of branding all branch members with a cursed seal to protect the secrets of the Byakugan, that would get sealed away upon death, when the next heir or heiress of the main house turns three years old, enabling all main branch Hyūga to exercise absolute control over them with nothing more than a single hand seal, inflicting unbearable pain or even death at merely a whim, enslaving their own family. And now the same was done to him! 'That old bastard turned me into a slave?! He can dispose of me the moment I'm no longer useful or try to turn against him! Shit, I'm cornered!'
Seeing the shock in his pupil's eyes Kakashi immediately tried to reassure the blonde "Naruto! Don't worry, I know what you must be thinking. The seal is only based on that of the Hyūga's, it cannot kill, just subdue, and only a handful of people can activate it."
'Yea, that's what he told you, sensei. I bet it has a fail-safe.', Naruto mused as he clutched his pants and bit his bottom lip. He knew better than to underestimate the Shinobi no Kami and Jiraiya of the Sannin. Ninja with decades of experience ahead of him.
"How many people can activate it?", the blonde asked barely above a whisper, looking down and letting his bangs shadow his eyes. Also touching the spot where Hiruzen had punched him with his left hand.
Witnessing his sensei's son in sorrow Kakashi tried to soothe the boy and perhaps do some damage control "I'm not allowed to tell, but you can believe me it's only a handful... Naruto, Hokage-sama didn't do this to you because he hates you nor does he want to see you suffer or hurt you. If he intended to do so you would have found yourself in an ANBU holding cell, covered in chakra suppression seals.", he paused and walked up to the window. The sound of his footsteps caught Naruto's attention.
He gestured the boy to join him, who complied, albeit reluctantly, and they observed the people walking on the road for a while before Kakashi resumed his speech "You are part of our village, Hokage-sama cares about you just like for everybody else in Konoha. He views us all as family. The village isn't just an organisation having a Kage rule over it as a king and the shinobi serving as his private army, no. It's a place of order and harmony, connecting clans and protecting the children, allowing them to grow old in peace behind the safety of these walls. A Hokage is the pillar that supports the village and every single Konoha ninja serves as the foundation. The unwavering will to defend all that, no matter what, this is the Will of Fire, passed down from the previous generation to us, giving us Konoha ninja the strength to endure, this is our duty as shinobi... I know you must feel hurt, but filling your heart with grief and sulking is the wrong way to cope with it, I'm speaking from experience. Besides, I'm convinced that Minato-sensei entrusted you with this burden because he believed in you. You were the only one he could trust to protect the village with that kind of immense power and not be corrupted by it."
Kakashi turned his head to eye Naruto, who stood completely still, his expression unreadable. He reached out to put a hand on the boy's shoulder in a comforting gesture, however, he stopped when the blonde began to snicker, which soon grew in volume till he burst into a fit of laughter, throwing his head back. "Wow, and here I thought Iruka-sensei was boring speaker!"
"Naruto! What's so funny?! Have you been listening at all?!", Kakashi yelled in anger.
Naruto snapped right back at him, glowering "Yes! I heard every single word and you know what, I don't buy it! I know for certain that shinobi existed long before even the idea of a ninja village was formed. The shinobi of old were warriors who fought for the pride and honor of their clan, not babysitter for a bunch of ungrateful civilians, that's the job of a daimyō and his samurai forces.
Protecting the village is our duty you say? Yea, sure, assassinating people in influential political positions in foreign lands for money, no matter whether they are good or bad, sometimes even butchering their entire innocent families as well is definitely the right way to do that. The only things that matter for the leader of a ninja village are money, resources, land, military power, and influence. That's the miserable world we live in! Why did no village help Nami no Kuni, ignoring an entire country in need? Simple, because it wasn't profitable, Gatō was a very rich man with lots of connections and a generous business partner, probably bribing them, that's why. Moreover, they constantly argue about who gets the biggest piece of the cake and of course every single one in their greed wants all of it! We shinobi of today are merely used as replaceable pawns in a giant fucked up game and fed with such propaganda to keep up a high moral! I'm actually very surprised that a man of your intellect could believe such rubbish. Lastly, grief, no, you are wrong sensei, I have filled my heart... with hate. And although I really appreciate your efforts to cheer me up, never, ever say that person's name around me again!"
Kakashi was at a loss for words! He was gaping underneath his mask, his lone eye wide. There was absolutely nothing he could say to prove Naruto wrong or change his opinion. What pained him the most was the obvious hatred the blonde bore for his father. Closing his visible eye he sighed 'Sensei, if you could see him now would you have done the same?', reopened it and unlocked the window.
Climbing onto the windowsill, he turned his head and met Naruto's cold gaze. "If that's the way you think, Naruto, then I just ask of you don't direct your hatred at whomever you can lay hands on or you will turn into a horrible person, I have seen it change fine men and women into monsters so often in my life. Furthermore, remember, your tenant and parentage remains a secret, Hokage-sama's orders. Team Seven has three days off, use that time to relax a little, it will do you good, because the Chūnin Selection Exams are just around the corner, meaning training is going to be more intense from now on. Oh, before I forget, the mission has been officially registered as A-rank, thus you will receive the appropriate payment.", Kakashi said and jumped out of the window onto a neighboring roof.
"This isn't the time to take a vacation, but to get some work done.", Naruto grumbled. As he was now, he doesn't stand a chance against his sworn enemies, there are still so many fighters out there stronger than him, he was weak and at a major disadvantage. Moreover, the Chūnin Exams present a perfect opportunity to prove his Uzumaki heritage by competing against the best among his peers, that he was worthy to carry on the name considering he was technically just a half-breed. 'I swear I will become the greatest warrior who has ever lived!', he thought determined.
Going into the kitchen he lifted the refrigerator as if it was as light as feather, putting it aside to reveal a palm-sized spiral shaped seal on the ground with five small circles around it. Naruto then bit his left thumb and smeared his blood across it before weaving a series of hand seals, finishing the sequence by grabbing his right wrist. Soon, dark-blue flames appeared on the fingertips of his right hand, each one with a kanji for a number between zero and nine and Naruto placed them into the little circles, making the seal glow and withdrew his hand.
A large scroll materialized above the seal, which Naruto caught and unrolled it on the table. There were still a few parts within the Rokushiki scroll that he didn't bother to read yet because they required a certain degree of mastery. During the time the boy had spent in his mindscape he decided to destroy the scroll. While its hiding place was relatively safe Jiraiya might be able to the find a way to break the seal. Now he dad to salvage any useful information left.
Naruto first memorized the complex mechanics of the Rokuōgan (Six King Pistol) and turned his attention to a segment about some crazy hair techniques as well as bōjutsu (Staff Techniques). How convenient, he knew Hiruzen was specialized in bōjutsu from the history lessons, this knowledge will surely prove useful against him. A tall man with a huge mane of pink hair, who reminded him of a kabuki actor, performed the stances and Naruto was particularly fascinated by the staff he wielded, it was a monk's staff. Was he a monk in a former life? Maybe, who knows.
The pictures in the next part made Naruto grin like an idiot and drool. His brain shut down for moment. They showed the sexiest woman he had ever seen! She had shoulder length blond hair, long legs and a figure he was sure most women would kill for! Furthermore, the blue-eyed woman wore a long-sleeved short black dress over a fishnet shirt and stockings along with black gloves, glasses, and high-heels. After a while Naruto wiped the drool away and coughed into his fist, an intense blush on his face. Luckily Sakura didn't see him like that or she would have sent him flying. He wasn't a pervert... honest!
Only now he was looking at the actual content and dismissed it. Using a spiked whip was just not his style, however he could imagine Hinata with one... n-not in a perverted way! The following passage was intriguing, a kenjutsu style called Yontōryū (Four Sword Style), shown by a man with a truly odd-shaped nose. Again, a blade wasn't suited for him, much less two, though he might be able to alter it and use it in conjunction with kunai instead of swords.
Naruto yawned loudly and rubbed his eyes. Glancing out of the window he could see the setting sun. The last time he studied so hard was when he was learning anatomy. 'Just one part left...', he thought sleepily and felt a headache forming. "Hm sounds interesting.", he muttered and let the unfamiliar word roll off his tongue "Haki"
Timeskip: 2 Weeks
The wide paved main street leading to the south gate and outside the second strongest ninja village, Kumogakure no Sato, was filled with way more pedestrians than usual, however, they didn't attend to their daily business, no, they had all gathered to see and root for the three chosen genin who would represent their entire village on the international stage in Konoha's coming Chūnin Selection Exams, the students of Kumo's Defender himself. The crowd cheered and enthusiastic children shouted words of encouragement.
Wahoo! Send the tree huggers crying home to their mommy's!
Yea, show them who's boss!
Kick their butts!
"So awesome, I feel like a celebrity! I could get used to that.", Karui commented happily as her squad followed down the road, running her right hand through her long messy red hair. The kunoichi was dark-skinned and had amber eyes. She wore a long sleeveless dark-green dress, yellow earrings, a white bandanna with a forehead protector attached to it as well as a wakizashi (longer than a tantō, but shorter than a katana) on her back.
In contrast to the redhead, her only male teammate walking next to her, Omoi, didn't seem as thrilled as she was. He appeared to be lost in thought, sucking on a lollipop. Like Karui, he was dark-skinned and had a wakizashi strapped on his back. The boy had short spiky white hair and dark eyes. His outfit consisted of a grey hooded shirt, black pants, hand and shin guards under red bandages, and a black forehead protector.
He sighed "Oh Kami, I can't bear the pressure, do you hear that, all their hopes rest on our shoulders. We might leave the village in glory now, but what if we fail miserably and return in shame. Our ninja career will be over. Sensei is going to disown us, Raikage-sama will disbanded our team for staining the good reputation of Kumo, and the masses will scorn us. We will be outcasts..."
A vein popped on Karui's forehead. She had heard enough! In battle, both worked well together and always watched the other's back, but otherwise, the duo was constantly at each other's throat. The fierce kunoichi was very short-tempered and Omoi's crazy ramblings were slowly driving her insane! Why can't he just keep them to himself?!
She swiftly captured him in a headlock, dragging him along with her "Would you shut up already! You know Bee-sensei would never do that and Raikage-sama is hard, but fair, as long as we give our best there is nothing to worry about. Besides, sensei made us go through hell the last two weeks, the other genin won't stand a chance against us, so stop spouting such nonsense. You are always thinking things over too much."
"Cut it out, both of you! Your immature behavior is not becoming of a Kumo shinobi, not cool. Focus on the mission and the tasks ahead.", Samui chided the two quarrellers, looking over her shoulder to eye them disapprovingly with her piercing sky blue eyes. She was the most reserved and quietest member of the team, only speaking up when necessary.
The stoic kunoichi was fair-skinned and well endowed for a girl her age, which she wasn't in the least bit ashamed to show off, wearing a grey short-sleeved dress held closed by a white sash that revealed her cleavage over mesh armour, a short skirt, and red hand guards. She had shoulder length blond hair and prefered to strap her blade of choice, a tantō, horizontally on her lower back.
The redheaded kunoichi groaned in annoyance and rolled eyes, releasing her teammate, whereupon he massaged his neck "Do you have to be so serious all time, Samui. I mean, come on, it will take us days to reach Konoha, just enjoy the moment for once."
"We can enjoy ourselves in our free time, right now we are on duty.", Samui responded in a monotonous voice and the group continued their walk in silence.
In no time at all the heavily fortified gate came into view and the genin team passed a line of masked STORM shinobi, Kumo's equivalent to Konoha's ANBU, whose members stopped the clingy crowd from advancing further. Already expecting them were Ē and their sensei Kirābī, aka Killer Bee, brothers in all but blood, known throughout the elemental continent as the Saikyō Taggu (Strongest Tag-Team) and feared for their signature move, Double Lariat, as well as Darui, the Raikage's second right hand and one of the most capable jōnin under his command.
All three disciples approached and bowed before their Kage. "Squad Zero, reporting for duty, Raikage-sama.", Samui spoke calmly.
"At ease.", Ē ordered them first and they complied. He was never a fan of formalisms. "Mabui already briefed you about the mission. The man standing next to me is Darui, one of my most trusted jōnin..." Said ninja greeted the genin with a lazy wave, followed by a simple "Yo" and the Raikage continued "He will be your escort as well as team leader since for one thing the Hokage made it clear he wouldn't grant Bee entry into Konoha..."
Omoi had bitten through the stick of his lollipop and spit out the rest, scowling like his two female comrades, even the normally cold Samui. Konoha scum! An affront towards Bee is an insult to Kumo as a whole and every one of its citizens! Their sensei is a walking legend, seen as the village's hero, who enjoyed just as much respect, if not more, than the Raikage himself. To think nearly everyone once used to shun him for being a jinchūriki, however, that never discouraged him. He endured all of that for his brother's sake and prevailed, now being one of the village's most beloved inhabitants and astonishingly harbours no ill-will towards it after all he went through. What amazing inner strength!
"... and for another thing I won't alow him to leave except for special training, he's Kumo's guardian. Now, despite it not being the primary objective, I expect at least one of you to reach the final round! Is there anything you want to add, Bee?", Ē finished and looked expectantly at his brother.
Kirābī uncrossed his arms "Just this, my little bees, beware of the blond lad, me and Mr. Eight have a bad feeling about him, so don't take any unnecessary risks, remember your training and last but not least, no matter how far you advance in the exams, I will always be proud of you, show these fools what you've got, yeah!", he said while going through several poses.
Samui allowed a ghost of a smile to appear on her face and Omoi as well as Karui cried anime tears 'Bee-sensei is the best!'
"Enough sentimentality! If there's nothing more to say then get a move on!", the Raikage commanded.
Taking the hint Darui took the lead and addressed the genin "Roger that, you heard the boss. Follow me, kids."
The trio did as they were told and when the group was almost outside the village Kirābī suddenly yelled "Stop, Darui, yo!", and walked up to the slightly confused jōnin, extending his fist "Keep them safe for me, bro."
Returning the gesture and bumping fists with him Darui replied seriously "You can count on me, Bee."
The squad leaders of the three rookie teams, a raven-haired woman of unparalleled beauty with unique ruby-red eyes and two men, one with black hair, smoking a cigar, the second with his forehead protector tilted over his left eye, stepped forward and lined up in front of their Kage. They were in a meeting hall within the Hokage Tower along with a group of other teachers, including those working at the academy.
The taller man spoke up first "I, Asuma Sarutobi, jōnin-sensei of Squad Ten, nominate Chōji Akimichi, Shikamaru Nara, and Ino Yamanaka for the Chūnin Selection Exams, old man...", the inappropriate title earned him a harsh glare, forcing him to quickly corrected himself "Um, I mean Hokage-sama." and he thought 'Geez, dad is really grumpy as of late.'
Now it was the kunoichi's turn "I, Kurenai Yūhi, jōnin-sensei of Squad Eight, nominate Kiba Inuzuka, Shino Aburame, and Sakura Haruno for the Chūnin Selection Exams, Hokage-sama.", she announced with pride in her voice, making sure to emphasize the name of her star pupil.
Once she was finished everyone's eyes rested on the other man "I, Kakashi Hatake, tokujō-sensei of Squad Seven, nominate Sasuke Uchiha, Naruto Uzumaki, and Hinata Hyūga for the Chūnin Selection Exams, Hokage-sama."
Immediately afterwards the crowd started to whisper among themselves. The Hyūga heiress and Uchiha heir were obvious choices since the villagers as well as the international quests would want to see the future leaders of Konoha's most prominent clans fight in the traditional final round, but suggesting Naruto was totally unexpected. Rumors have spread saying the boy was very dangerous, mentally unstable, and he would corrupt the minds of young girls. In addition, this was the very first time all rookies have been recommended at once.
"Silence! I will have order in this room!", Hiruzen Sarutobi said with authority and the commotion died down. He saw Iruka raising his hand and asked rather annoyed "What is it, Iruka?"
"Hokage-sama, may I have the word?", the scarred chūnin requested, upon which the Hokage nodded. "Are you three doing this just to look good? The lives of your students are on the line! All of them were once my students at the academy and except for Sasuke Uchiha and Naruto Uzumaki none of the others are fit to participate, especially Ino, Sakura and Hinata. They..."
Kurenai's icy glare as well as her aura of feminine fury stopped Iruka, who began to sweat bullets "What are trying to suggest, Umino-san? Specifically naming only the kunoichi as the supposed weakest genin, huh.", she questioned with her hands on her hips, tapping her foot on the ground.
"W-What? N-No, I didn't intend to make it sound that way, Yūhi-san.", he answered swiftly, hoping not to incur the wrath of Konoha's Genjutsu Mistress. She was quite famous for trapping sexist men in a SSS-Rank genjutsu showing the Icha Icha Yaoi edition.
"Enough! In the end it is my decision to make and I approve of all except Naruto.", Hiruzen interrupted.
"Naruto must be permitted too, Hokage-sama.", Kakashi threw in.
"And exactly why is that, Kakashi?"
"Well, because Sasuke and Hinata are going to refuse if Naruto gets excluded."
"All three have an extremely strong sense of camaraderie. Either they compete as a team or not at all."
Hiruzen found himself in a quandary. He folded his hands in front of his chin and mulled his options over. According to Kakashi's and Yūgao's reports Naruto would utterly destroy any competition so far, including his own teammates, like Itachi once did when he turned ten. They even referred to him as the second coming of Shunshin no Shisui (Shisui of the Body Flicker) due to the boy's skillful usage of the taijutsu technique he calls Soru (Shave), which he mastered by now. All in all, he would definitely advance to the final round and the international guests might get suspicious of his last name. In addition, the boy is also unpredictable and could do something outrageous. However, without Hinata and Sasuke the masses will get really upset.
He sighed in defeat "Fine, I approve of Naruto as well."
Timeskip: 5 Days
For two and a half weeks Kakashi made his genin go through very intense training sessions on top of their own grueling exercises and it was time to showcase the fruits of their diligent labour in a secluded training ground with rocky terrain.
The sound of chirping birds filled the air. Sasuke was running at full speed, his Sharingan blazing, all of his concentration focused solely on maintaining the tremendous amount of condensed lightning chakra in his left hand stable as well as his target, a very large rock plateau, and he thrust his arm forward, yelling the jutsu's name.
The raven-haired boy smirked in satisfaction. He just added a third decently sized smouldering dent into the rock and pulled out his hand, which was covered in bandages due to all the burns he had received from previous failed attempts. Catching his breath Sasuke jumped backwards to join his team, disabling his Sharingan.
"Three times in a row and you can still stand, I'm really impressed, Sasuke. Even I can only pull off five a day.", Kakashi praised while eye-smiling and patted his pupil's shoulder before he faced his blond student "Naruto, it's your turn, show us what you can do."
Said boy, dressed in his orange jumpsuit and a new haircut, uncrossed his arms and stepped forward with a confident smirk on his face, standing close to Sasuke. Naruto figured that he would grow into a splitting image of the Yondaime if he didn't change his haircut, hence decided to try out something new. Therefore he let his hair grow a little longer, but kept it spiky and made it stand on end by utilizing Seimei Kikan (Life Return), resembling Kakashi's gravity-defying haircut. (You can find a link to a picture on my profile)
"With pleasure, sensei.", the blonde said with a hint of arrogance in his voice and kicked the air diagonally, sending out a long sharp compressed air blade.
"Rankyaku (Storm Leg)!"
The projectile sliced deep into the rock, about a third of its diameter, creating a perfect diagonal fissure. Naruto was overjoyed! To think a few months ago the best he could manage was a gust of wind.
Naruto flashed his rival a smug grin at his accomplishment "Better luck next time, teme."
"Hn Just wait till I master the Raikiri (Lightning Blade) and we will see who has the last laugh, dope", Sasuke grunted in response. Kakashi had told him about a deadly combo attack utilizing a Kage Bunshin (Shadow Clone) in order to create a chain of lightning that can cut through almost anything like a knife through butter, the Raiden (Lightning Cable).
Hinata suddenly walked between the duo and pushed them gently apart, stating playfully "Give me some space boys and I will show you how its done."
Activating her Byakugan she went through some hand seals and focused water chakra in her mouth with immense precision, causing her cheeks to bulge. Hinata closed her eyes in great effort. It wouldn't influence her aim at all thanks to her kekkei genkai. Besides, the Byakugan allowed her to use this advanced technique in the first place at her current level, because if not for her dōjutsu supervising the chakra in her mouth Hinata's cheeks would burst open from the enormous pressure! After a few tense moments she fixed her target and fired.
"Suiton: Suidanha (Water Release: Water Severing Wave)!"
A high-speed jet of water went past her lips and cut clean through the entire plateau, splitting it vertically in two!
Sasuke and Naruto were gaping and had eyes as wide as saucers. The lavender eyed girl giggled at their reaction, canceled her dōjutsu, and closed their opened mouths with her index fingers simultaneously, producing an audible clack. She had let her hair grow past her shoulders, but kept it in a hime-style. However, this wasn't her most notable change. Hinata didn't stutter anymore!
Kakashi clasped his hands together "Excellent, Hinata! You by far exceeded my expectations.", indeed the girl finally came out of her shell. The spark which he briefly saw in her eyes during the bell test was now always present in her lavender orbs. Whatever restrains once held her back were now gone!
The sound of clapping her caught her attention. Sasuke and Naruto applauded her, both smiling warmly at her.
"You did... exceptionally well.", Sasuke commented, acknowledging her progress. Such a compliment coming from an Uchiha was very rare!
"That was awesome, Hinata! You bested us by leaps and bounds!", Naruto added happily.
Her eyes were stinging and she blinked away the upwelling tears. "T-Thank you, Sasuke-kun, Naruto-niisan, Kakashi-sensei."
Kakashi eye-smiled "Well, I have seen enough for today. You are more than ready for the exams tomorrow. No more training."
"Alright, let us celebrate Hinata's success with Ichiraku ramen! Sasuke lost the competition, so he has to pay.", Naruto suggested enthusiastically, pointing his thumb at Sasuke.
"Hey! I'm not going to throw my money down your bottomless pit!"
Later that afternoon Naruto was gulping down his fifteenth bowl of ramen at inhuman speed. To his right sat Hinata, Sasuke as well as Kakashi behind the counter of the ramen bar, in that order. The three were watching him in a mix of horror, fascination, and disgust, having already emptied their bowls. They wondered where a human being could possibly store such a vast amount of food? Normally, Naruto ate civilized, but when he was really hungry after an extended period of training the blonde forgets any table manners.
'Disgusting!', the onlookers thought in unison, excluding Ayame and Teuchi, who grew accustomed to such a display a long time ago.
"I'm so full I doubt I can even walk.", Naruto moaned as he held his massively bulged stomach.
Sasuke felt no pity "Hn It's your own fault for eating like a pig. If you think I will carry you home, forget it."
However, much to everyone's bewilderment, the blonde simply waved his hand dismissively. "No big deal, give me a moment...", he began and closed eyes in concentration, taking a deep breath.
"Seimei Kikan: Shōka (Life Return: Digestion)."
Almost instantly Naruto turned super skinny! Hinata fell out of her seat, squealing, the owners of the restaurant took a fearful step back and both Sasuke and Kakashi stood up, analyzing him with their Sharingan, worried for his well-being.
"Don't worry, guys! I'm okay, see. Kyūshū (Absorption)... Moto Dōri (Return to Normal)", and as by miracle Naruto gained weight again, looking exactly like when he entered the Ramen Bar, flashing them a wide grin. Everyone stared at him unbelievingly and in the stunned silence that followed one would have heard the proverbial pin drop.
'U-Unbelievable, he can change the weight of his body at will?! That puts even the Akimichi to shame! Naruto... just what else can you do?', Kakashi pondered in awe and a slight amount of... fear.
In a blur Ayame and Hinata were in front of his face, making him feel a little uncomfortable under their stare "Um, is there something on my face, girls?"
Anime tears were streaming down their faces. "How did you do that?! Teach us, Naruto-sama! Please, we beg you!", both girls pleaded with irresistible puppy dog eyes. Damn, how could he say no to that?
Naruto tilted his head in curiosity "Uh Ok, but why would you want to learn that anyway? Just so you two know, to master Seimei Kikan (Life Return) one must pass the training of a Sennin, which requires enormous mental and physical discipline. Are you up to it?"
Ayame huffed "Are you kidding me? You men don't have the slightest idea what sacrifices a woman has to make to keep her figure. Of course we are up to it!"
And that's it for now, just felt it was right to stop here, hope you liked the chapter. The next one is going to have some action! The Forest of Death will live up to its name, believe it!
Updated doriki chart:
Common armed Marine soldier (reference): 10
Rob Lucci: 4000
When will Shizuka come into the picture? During the canon timeskip period, probably before she met Sagiri, but I'm not sure about that yet, both will be around 15 by then. Just a reminder, Naruto is close to 13 at this point.
Are you going to let Naruto sign a Summoning Contract? I'm thinking about having him sign the Neko Contract. Tigers, leopards, panthers, lions, pumas and so on, all kinds of feline predators of various sizes, from small like a house cat up to twelve meter large boss summons that can swallow a human whole. They can be used to deliver scrolls, scout, give a ride and of course aid Naruto in battle. No Sage Mode.
Will Naruto eventually wear something other than a suit? I'm considering a variation of Jabra's outfit when we reach the Shippūden timeline.
mmm: Um, sure they do, Gatō wore a suit and he's canon.
BoB: First, most online sources I found stated Haku can reach light speed in his ice dome and I think canon implies it somewhat. Regardless, he quickly slows down, so it doesn't really have an impact on the story as a whole. Second, Tekkai simply hardens the users' muscles, nothing more, I don't see how it could possibly shield one's chakra system.
to BoB: Please use the review option to actually review and not to chat with others.
"Rokushiki no Naruto's" response to "Naruto": Bitch, you are just jealous of my awesome Uzumaki style CP9 suit. Usuratonkachi, remember when you were younger, more like me, staying always true to your ninja way, the moment when you told Inari to stop crying and man up, look at you now, still crying in the middle of a battlefield over some fodder ninja, who should have left the battleground a long time ago because they are just standing in the way and can't do shit, even after Hinata of all people slapped you just a few minutes ago, oh the irony.
Rokushiki-Fan: Well um... maybe. But I will finish this storyline first before I think about letting this Naruto loose on the multiverse.