General RTS: Yes, this is another Naruto neglected fanfic. I know there are literally dozens of these stories out of fanfiction, but god dammit it is such a good concept I couldn't get this damn idea out of my head. It's really interesting to see how Naruto's life could still suck even with both his parents still alive. So far, I don't think anyone has really done a FSN take on it yet and the idea kind of started forming in my head.
*SPOILER ALERT* (You can skip these if you want they'll be quite long)
First of all, besides a little cameo by a certain Multiverse travelling wizard, I'm not planning on having any typemoon characters in the Narutoverse plotline. Our little wizard here along with Archer are more or less plot devices that give Naruto powers and shape him to be who he will become later on in a few chapters.
Even so you can still see the typemoon influence in Mana Aozaki who you'll see will soon become a mother figure for Naruto. A major recurring theme in typemoon stories is that a lot of the main characters have non-biological parent (or pseudoparent) figures that play a major role in shaping the characters but doesn't really play a role in the actual plot. Shirou and Kiritsugu, Kiritsugu and Natalia, Shiki and Aoko (kinda). One of the things that has always bothered me about Naruto is that there's virtually no explanation as to why he's this happy, lucky go figure when he grew up alone and hated by everyone around him. I think typemoon does a lot better job in having in depth characters by actually trying to explain them. As some of you can already probably tell, I took the last name Aozaki from Aoko Aozaki, considering I initially based a lot of Mana's personality off of hers towards Shiki. After a while though I think the relationship kinda became more like Grey and Ur (fairy tail). I chose the name Mana because it means love and affection, which is more or less her primary role for Naruto in this story. Most neglect stories usually have Naruto being adopted by a male figure. Personally I think mothers are much more central in a child's growth and also... How do you think Kushina's going to react when she finds out she's been replaced?
I had a hard time choosing whether or not Sasuke should be a girl or a guy. One one hand the canon creates a clear parallel with Jiraiya and Orochimaru and also with Harashima and Madara which really gives you this feel of clashing ideologies between light and dark. On the other hand if she was a girl VOTE would have ended a lot differently.
What would have happened according to my (dirty, dirty, little) mind
Sasuko: You can't stop me Naruto. I have to do this... to kill my brother and to avenge my clan.
Naruto: Well I guess nothing I say can stop you. That's a shame because I was planning on losing my virginity today.
Sasuko: In that case I'l-... Wait... What?"
Naruto: Well, I suppose I'll have no other choice but to go find another girl. I wonder if Hinata's free?
Sasuko: ... What?
Naruto: Or maybe Ino and Sakura would be willing... at the same time.
Sasuko: ... What? (starts twitching violently)
Naruto: Or all of the above! Well see ya Sasuko have fun with the snake pedophile!
Sasuko: ... NARUTO GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW!
And they lived happily ever after.
Canon would have been sooooo much shorter if that had happened. I made Sasuke a girl not out of a desire for romance, but because I think Naruto is facing enough angst and drama with his family and because I'm exploring a whole different set of themes. I feared that leaving Sasuke the ways he was risked taking away attention from all that.
Hell and Heaven: Prologue
"Naruto Aozaki was enigma to the history of the Elemental Continent. To both modern and contemporary historians his actions were incomprehensible. He threw himself into the most dangerous of confrontations saving the lives of thousands of people without discrimination or reason. He never fought for personal gain, desiring neither fame, glory or even honor. It was as though he was a sword forged for the sole purpose of protecting others. A sword that would that would fight, fight and fight until it was it could fight no more… A sword destined to be broken."
Even at the tender age of six years old when life is just at its beginning, Naruto Namikaze had been forced to mature faster than anyone else his age. Why? Seven years ago on the night of his and his twin sister, Hitomi's, birth a man wearing an orange and black spiral mask attacked the Namikaze compound. After their mother Kushina Namikaze had given birth to them, the man had kidnapped her and using some sort of ninjutsu he forcefully extracted the Kyuubi no Yoko from her. Then using the power of the Sharingan he controlled the beast and used it to attack his home of Konohagakure no Sato.
That night the fox caused nothing, but death and destruction. However, his father, the Yondaime Hokage Minato Namikaze, use a powerful sealing jutsu. He used the power to separate the Kyuubi's yang chakra from it and sealed it into his newborn daughter, Hitomi. As for the Yin chakra and the soul, he sealed it into his son.
Once all that was over, Minato told the village that someone powerful summoned the Kyuubi to destroy the village. But he had defeated the beast and sealed it into his daughter who would use the power to protect the village. The people, who loved Minato, trusted his judgment and accepted Hitomi as the savior of their village and treated her like a hero.
Naruto's life however had been a living hell ever since. He had no friends save a select few individuals since the villagers hated him for possessing the soul of the Kyuubi and worst of all his parents had brushed him aside as though he was nothing more than garbage. On their fourth birthday, Naruto was forgotten again. That was two years ago. Today he would go and ask his parents if he could train with them and Hitomi like they had been doing for months.
On October tenth the day of his sixth birthday, Naruto walked out of his room and went out to see that his parents were getting the gear ready for Hitomi's training. He went to ask if he could train with them today, but when he got close he heard them only talking about Hitomi and how happy she would be, they mentioned nothing about him.
The days seemed to go the same way they went by every day the same way as they always did. Right now a six year old Naruto watched his parents teach his younger sister Hitomi their fighting styles with a scroll of Jutsu on the side for later. He was hoping that today would be the day that they would finally be that day that they would finally train him he hoped for that every day as long as he could remember that wall he ever wanted their acknowledgement, their approval, their acceptance. Every time Naruto went up and asked his parents they would just tell him to leave them alone and continue to focus on Hitomi's training, since they believed that she needed it more since she had the Kyuubi sealed into her six years ago on the day of her birth.
Even his own godparents, Jiraiya and Tsunade, in their eyes he wasn't worth their time.
Finally after being rejected by the last time, Naruto took it upon himself to get stronger. He went to the village's former Sandaime Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi for training. The kind old man had readily agreed. Unlike the villagers who had seen Naruto as a demon, and unlike his family who had seen him only as a burden, Sarutobi had been the only one to see Naruto as what he truly was; a child in need.
Over the next two years, Naruto improved at a rate that left the Sandaime flabbergasted. His taijutsu was obviously strong but underdeveloped though that was only a matter of finding a suitable style to complement his abilities. In terms of his Ninjutsu however, Sarutobi was positive there had never been a greater genius in the history of Konohagakure. He had mastered Kage Bushin within a matter of minutes and from there, it was only a matter of creating clones to accelerate his growth even further.
A few months after Sarutobi began training him, Naruto met Uchiha Itachi who had found him during one of his training exercises and watched in silence. He was impressed by Naruto's determination and hard work and eventually began talking to Naruto. This eventually led to Naruto's introduction to the Uchiha clan. It was then that Naruto met the Itachi's younger sister, Satsuki.
The two had quickly struck up a rivalry with one another, always competing to see who could outdo the other in both training and sparring. They had even bet on who could utilize their elemental affinities first. Naruto had lost only by a few days when he mastered his first wind jutsu, Fūton: Daitoppa, while Satsuki had mastered her first fire, Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu. The two had promised each other that day that they would one day fight in the future to see who was truly stronger than the other. Mikoto, the mother of both Satsuki and Itachi thought it was kind of cute and came to enjoy Naruto's presence within the compound.
Naruto's presence within the Uchiha compound brought a new dynamic to the once reclusive clan. While many of the other Uchihas disapproved of Satsuki's attachment to the demon container, her relationship with someone who was considered to be a pariah of the village set a precedent that began a trend for many members of the clan to befriend and associate with outside members of the village. Time passed and many of the more liberal members of the clan began sympathizing with the young boy. They realized that, much like Naruto, the Uchihas were also often treated as outsiders based on events neither of them could control. While a few more conservative elders like Fugaku objected to his presence within the Uchiha walls, their protests were often pushed down by members like Mikoto, Satsuki, and Itachi.
Under both Itachi and Hiruzen, and now having found a rival within Satsuki, Naruto's growth improved by leaps and bounds. It was only natural then however, that Naruto's desire to improve, to search for more jutsu to learn, led him to sneak into the Namikaze library to research his father's Ransengan, a jutsu that he felt was his birthright. And he was caught red handed by his parents. The result was a thunderous backhand across his face that sent him flying into the adjacent wall.
"You stupid little bastard, what the hell are you thinking pulling such a stunt?" Minato yelled.
"You worthless piece of scum, how dare you take something without permission," this time it was Kushina who said this, "we give you everything that you need, a roof to sleep under, the clothes on your back, and we feed you, and this is how you repay us, we told you that you would start your training when the academy begins, but no you go and steal from us just to try and get us to train you. We're training your sister so she can harness the power of the Kyuubi so it won't be a threat to her when she's older but you on the other hand don't need the training. NOW GO TO YOUR ROOM AND STAY THERE!"
Tears had begun to fall from his eyes, he had never been screamed at like that, his parent's hated him there was nothing more to it.
"You heard your mother, get up and go to your room and you're not getting any dinner," Minato said harshly, "GO!"
Naruto scrambled to get up and run but not before screaming at his family, "I HATE YOU ALL." With that Naruto ran into the house and headed straight for his room, his family stood stunned at the last thing they were told. They felt a slight pang of pain in their chest for some reason.
Later that night after dinner had ended; Minato and Kushina were in their bedroom thinking about what had transpired earlier that day.
"You know, I think that we overreacted with the way we treated Naruto," Kushina said as she put on her night gown.
"Yeah, maybe I shouldn't have hit him but I was terrified when I saw him trying to learn such a dangerous jutsu by himself like that," Minato said as he laid on the bed, "he could have gotten himself killed for all we know."
"Maybe but I think it's our fault too, I mean he's been asking us to train him along with Hitomi for years now, yet we ignored him," Kushina said joining her husband on the bed, "maybe we should help him a little, I mean let's at least teach him the basic and some low level ninjutsu and some taijutsu."
"I guess we should, I'll have a shadow clone start teaching him tomorrow," Minato said as he turned to look at the red hair woman, "hopefully he will forgive us, no, I'm sure he'll forgive us if I properly teach him my Rasengan."
"Yes, I'm sure he will honey, now let's go to sleep," his wife said as she closed her eyes.
Naruto sat on his bed tears streaming down his face; he still couldn't believe what his father had done to him. Sure he went and took a scroll to learn from however, that was no reason to hit him that hard, all this came to hit with a simple answer, all his parents cared for was Hitomi. Yeah that was right they hated him because of that Kyuubi brat Hitomi, this wasn't his family no, these people hated him. Standing up from his bed he took the decision to leave this godforsaken place and began sealing his belongings into a simple scroll. It did not take long since he had never owned much to begin with. After all, his parents had never bought anything for him.
Within minutes Naruto was already running down the path, already a pretty good distance away from Konoha. 'I really need to thank Itachi-nii and Sarutobi-jiji for all that training one day?' Naruto thought.
Tears were still streaming down his face blurring his vision and before he knew it he had slammed into someone on the road sending them both tumbling into the ground.
"Ow! What the hell?!" Naruto yelled angrily at the man he had run into.
"That's my line brat!" the interloper yelled back. "Who in blazes are you running around like that in the middle of the night?"
"Isn't it manners to give your own name before demanding the names of others?" Naruto growled.
"Who am I?" The man asked as though Naruto had just said the stupidest thing in the world. He struck a pose, left hand on his hip and the right pointing towards the sky. "I am Wizard Marshall Kischur Zelretch Schweinorg! Master of the Kaleidoscope and adventurer extraordinaire! "
Silence followed the man's exclamation, save for a few crickets still humming in the night. Naruto looked at the man as though he was crazy, which he indeed thought he was. He decided to give voice that particular thought. "You're insane!" Naruto yelled, pointing at the man accusingly. "There's no such thing as magic!"
"Do not take me for a conjurer of cheap tricks!" Zelratch yelled, shamelessly quoting a popular fantasy franchise. "I am the Sorcerer of Second Magic and complete master of the infinite multiverse!"
"Well, why don't you prove it to me Mr. Magician?" Naruto deadpanned, baring his teeth.
"I would." Zelratch declared, still glaring. "But I'm having trouble finding an alternate life in the multiverse that's shittier than your current one. It really sucks to be you." He admitted reluctantly.
Naruto merely snorted.
This was bad, Zeltrech realized. He was beginning to lose face here. Quickly he ran through the kaleidoscope until he came to a complete stop at one in particular. 'Noooooo' he thought, 'This kid is HIS alternate? That's just beautiful.'
Shirou Emiya, or more specifically Counter Guardian Emiya, a man that had fought and killed his entire life for a single ideal, always pushing forward to help others without asking for anything in return. Not once did he ever falter forging his path to become a hero, helping and saving everyone that was within his sight, not once truly valuing himself. To think that he would find an alternate of that man's soul in a completely different world, that could only mean one thing… Fun things were bound to happen.
Before Naruto could figure out what was going on the man simply pointed at him and the world around him turned red as, all of a sudden, pain erupted within his entire nervous system. He felt as though molten lead was being pouted through his veins and arteries. Clutching his head, he passed out before the man's feet.
Zeltrech scratched his chin as he reviewed the fruits of his work. Synchronicity, the phenomenon that occurs when two beings, two souls come into close contact allowing the mind and memories to mix. Using his control over the Kaleidoscope Zeltrech had forced that same phenomenon onto this boy's soul and when it came down to it the very epitome of Emiya's soul was his reality marble, Unlimited Blade Works. Yet the reality marble that was manifesting itself within this young lad now was somehow different. Theoretically Zeltrech knew it should have been impossible for Naruto to completely manifest Unlimited Blade Works within this world. Here the Rule of the World was completely different to Gaia's Domain of his own world. Instead of magic that relied on the use of mysteries and prana, this world utilized jutsu that relied on an entirely different unit of energy called chakra. Instead of circuits they had something called tenketsu points. As a result the reality marble was beginning to change, adapting itself so that it could be manifested and utilized within an entirely different environment and a different set of rules of nature. Interesting.
Time passed, until minutes became hours and Zeltrech soon lost his former interest as he began wondering if the boy would ever wake up. Personally, for a man that had travelled through multiple dimensions, fought the almighty Crimson Moon himself in space and pushed back the moon from colliding into the earth, something like a stray reality marble or two really wasn't that interesting if had to wait more than one or two minutes to see its results.
"I think I may have just murdered a young child." The Sorcerer mused as he scratched his chin. "Aww, Crap… Adventuring Sorcerer Away!" And thus he made his escape opening a rift in another universe where he hopefully did not commit homicide and jumping through it.
That night Naruto dreamed of a huge fire.
He dreamt that he was in a town filled with screams of pain and agony.
He walked through all of them with glassy eyes.
Heaps of corpses surrounded him, bodies that screamed for help, yet were denied of it
But he knew couldn't help. He knew he couldn't stop. He felt so damned helpless, miserable with despair.
His body was covered with burns, his head is leaking blood but he kept on walking because once he fell down, he knew he could never get up. And so he kept on walking.
And finally, his limbs were too tired, too damaged to physically walk any more. So he falls…
He looked up on the sky, a sky that is filled with smoke and filled with screams…
Soon the screams become silent, and he knows he will join them. He accepts this with calm resignation. He is going to die.
And then he saw the face of a man, smiling. Tears of joy spilled down the side of the man's face.
Naruto saw the smile and was filled with jealousy.
What made them so different? How could he smile like that even though they were in the same fire? The same hell?
At that moment he desperately wished he could have been as happy as that man…
Naruto suddenly bolted upright, waking up from the horrible dream. His body was completely drenched with sweat and his heart was beating as though he had just run a marathon. He woke and realized that it was already morning. A sense of dread filled him, as he began wondering if he had been caught and brought back to Konoha. He analyzed his surroundings. At first glance he could obviously tell he was inside a motel room. Suddenly the door to the room opened and a figure strode through and walked her way to the bed, where he is presently sitting upright. The figure walked in closer until Naruto could get a good look at her face. The figure was beautiful young woman, perhaps in her mid-thirties. She had short silver hair that came down to the base of her neck. Everything about her, from her stance, posture and aura just screamed kunoichi and a powerful one at that.
"Oh… You're awake." The woman knelt by the bed and placed a soft hand over Naruto's head. "It looks like you fever's gone down now. That's good." She gave him a gentle smile and placed a bowl of stir fry in front of him. "I couldn't make anything fancy without the proper ingredients but it should be enough to fill you up if you're hungry."
Naruto took the spoon to his mouth and ate for what seemed like the first time since the past week. "Good." He whispered without intending to.
"I'm glad you liked it." The woman was virtually beaming, as she sat down by the edge of the bed. "What's your name kid?" She asked once Naruto stopped eating and placed his bowl aside.
"Naruto N-" Naruto paused for a moment. "No… Just Naruto… No family name."
"Naruto… That's a good name." The woman complimented. "My name is Aozaki Mana."
A deafening silence filled the room and neither of the two talked for a few moments. Finally, after a few minutes, Naruto worked up the courage to ask. "Why did you help me?"
The newly identified Mana shrugged. "Because you looked like someone who needed it." She answered simply.
Mana was a nice person, Naruto decided. He felt that it would be alright to trust her. But at the same time, he could not be a burden to her. A kind person like her didn't deserve to be burdened by his presence.
"I should go." He whispered, slowly getting up from the bed he had slept in.
Mana frowned. "Do you have somewhere you need to go?"
Naruto, unsure on what to say, shook his head. "N-No, but… I don't want to be a burden to you…" He whispered quietly.
Upon hearing this Mana's facial expression softened a little. "You're not a burden." she told him simply. She paused for a moment as she paused and ruffled his hair for a bit, as though she was trying to find the right words to say. "When I found you in the middle of the road like that I panicked. I was scared because I thought you were dead and no child… should ever die so early in their lives. I also realized what you must have been through for you to end up where you were. When I found your pulse, I felt relieved… No, that's not right. I was happy… I was happy you were alive."
Naruto stared at the woman with wide eyes of disbelief as old memories began surfacing within his mind.
"You'd just be a burden to your sister."
"You worthless piece of scum!"
Those were the words he had been told all his life time and time again and over time he had come to believe them. But now, here was this woman, someone who barely even knew him, telling him something completely different.
"You're not a burden."
"I was happy that you were alive."
A few concise words, but in the end they meant more to Naruto than the entire world. Tears began welling in his eyes, and slowly made their way down his cheeks as he began to cry and sob on her chest. Mana leaned down over Naruto and gave him a reassuring smile. "I won't ask or force you to tell me about who you were or where you're from. But if you have nowhere else to go… you can stay with me for as long as you'd like."
The crying lasted throughout the better part of the morning.
That night, Naruto fell asleep with Mana as they shared the same bed. Naruto's small form was virtually wrapped around Mana like an octopus as though he was afraid to let her go. He had a small smile of bliss on his face as he fell asleep. His last thought before falling into the blissful unconscious was, 'Warm…'
Hell and Heaven: First Blade
Minato sat behind his desk trying to do his paperwork. The key word here was 'trying' as he just placed his pen back down. Sighing in frustration he sat back into his chair and rubbed his temples. Things for him and his family and the village had gone really badly in the last five years. The day after Naruto had been caught trying to learn his Ransengan, Minato and Kushina had gone to his room in order to reconcile and offer him training only to find it completely empty. Assuming he had simply woken up and left before them, the family had continued on their day like normal, believing they could wait until he returned home that day. However, Naruto never came home that day. The day after the Sandaime had stormed into his office in rage.
Minato had been doing his paperwork in his office like he does every day, he was cursing himself for getting the mantel of the Hokage. If he wasn't the Hokage then he would be with his family right now, but Minato's thoughts were interrupted when he heard someone knocking on the door.
"Come in." said Minato before looking to see who it was. He saw Hiruzen Sarutobi coming into his office, Minato was little suprised when he saw his predecessor's face not showing any emotions; Minato knew that Hiruzen was angry he could see it in his eyes.
"What do I owe the pleasure of your visit Sarutobi-sama?" The Fourth Hokage asked.
"I want you to explain this." the previous Hokage said putting down a piece of paper on his desk, while in the meantime his emotionless facade almost showed anger.
Minato took the piece of paper and started reading it, he read it once then twice before he slammed his hands on the desk in anger.
"Is this some kind of a joke Sarutobi-sama I would never sign anything like that" Minato shouted.
"Ohh is that it, then how do you explain your signature and the Hokage stamp on it" the Professor shouted while his emotionless facade was breaking up in anger.
"I-I-I don't know" Minato said in a stuttering tone.
Somehow Naruto had filled out an emancipation form with both Minato's signature and stamp on it making it clear that Naruto had run away from home. Minato had immediately sent Anbu teams to go find Naruto around the village in hopes of finding him. When they returned empty handed his hope turned into dread and self-anger. After that he sent letters to all of the Leaf's allies asking for help in searching for Naruto and sent Jiraiya out in hopes of finding him.
Minato sighed and rubbed his eyes tiredly. Ever since Naruto left Konohagakure, his life had taken a completely downhill turn. When they had learned of Naruto's disappearance, Kushina and Hitomi had broken down in tears. Initially, Kushina had demanded that she be let out of Konoha to look for Naruto. Minato had argued against it stating that it wouldn't make a difference since he had already sent out several ANBU teams and they had no idea where Naruto was to begin with. Kushina had sent him into a wall with a chakra powered punch when he said that. The following day, Kushina had virtually ransacked the house looking for something, anything that may have evidenced the fact that Naruto had once lived there, only to find nothing. There were no photos of Naruto. Besides a few early baby photos, every family photo included only Hitomi, Minato and herself, along with Jiraiya and Tsunade on occasion. Kushina had tried looking for his belongings next, but the search had turned out just as fruitless as the first. Neither she, nor anyone else to her knowledge had ever given him anything, not even for his birthdays.
Sadly, Kushina remembered how she screamed at Naruto the day before he had left, about how they had provided everything for him and given him everything. The irony was that in reality they had given him virtually nothing. Not an ounce of love, not a second of attention, or a single gift, hell she couldn't even remember if he had eaten with them during meal times. Fully realizing the impact of what she had done Kushina spent most of her time in Naruto's room, crying to herself in his bed unable to forgive herself for the atrocity she had committed.
If that wasn't bad enough however, the final culmination of the Namikaze's misfortune occurred last year when he had tried to teach Hitomi the Ransengan. After Naruto's departure, Hitomi had fallen into a state of depression. She never hated her brother, on the contrary she loved him very much to the point it teetered between sibling love and incestuous relations. She had always known full well how her parent's discrimination against her brother left him alone and in pain. However the rigorous training regimen her father had put her through often left her little time to try and reach out to her brother. Yet during the few times she had paid attention to him, she found him to by a kind and gentle person despite all the painful experiences he had endured. Since the day of Naruto's departure, Minato had put Hitomi through an even more rigorous training program in hopes of stopping her from falling into depression. Unfortunately it had never really worked and instead seemed to backfire as she grew even more depressed.
She had advanced through the first stage of the ransengan, which emphasized chakra rotation, within a week. When she began learning the second stage of his jutsu, however, things had gone wrong. She had enormous trouble focusing denser chakra within her hand. As she began her third try however, a pulse of demonic chakra had begun leaking out of the seal. Hitomi had screamed in agony as seal began burned through her skin. Before Minato could even try to repair the seal, red chakra that had leaked out of her seal rapidly grew to a cascade and began taking shape into the chakra form of the Kyuubi no Yoko. The beast let out one final roar before it vanished in a red flash.
When the dust settled, everyone had gathered around the demolished Namikaze estate. Thankfully no body had been killed or seriously hurt by the giant explosion of chakra. Hitomi however suffered terribly from the explosion. She had lied still unconscious inside a crater, smoke still steaming off of her seal which had burned itself into her skin, never to go away. She had been a ghostly shade of white having lost gallons of blood and not only that but she was no longer the Jinchuriki of the Kyuubi's chakra.
Minato sighed. In the aftermath of the Kyubei's release, Hitomi's chakra coils had been severely damaged. Along with losing the Kyuubi's chakra, she no longer possessed her vast reserves of chakra, a trait shared by all Uzumakis. For all practically purposes, Hitomi now possessed similar reserves to that of a ninja coming from a civilian family. It was as though the heavens themselves had been punishing the Namikazes for what they had done to Naruto. Minato sighed, shaking his head to get the depressing thoughts out of his head. He had a meeting with the Kazekage later today and he needed make sure he wasn't completely depressed for it. A Hokage's work never waits after all.
The meeting with the Kazekage itself went by very quickly. In the end, it was only a simple revision of their former treaty based around limiting Konoha's economic activities within Kaze no Kuni. After the Kazekage signed his name onto the now renewed treaty, rather than making a move to leave he waited patiently in his chair waiting to gain Minato's attention.
"Before I go," Subaku no Kanbei stated as he leaned back into the chair and stared at Minato. "Your son was spotted near the borders of Sunagakure a little over one month ago."
Minato's eyes widened momentarily but for the most part was able hide his surprise. "I see…" Minato said carefully waiting for the Kazakage to go on.
"It seems he had something of a scuffle with my son during one of their patrol missions.
"Which son did he fight?" Minato asked, fearing the worst. Gaara Subaku, the Jinchuuriki for the Ichibi was one of the worst kept secret weapons of the elemental nations. He was notorious for his psychotic rampages and insane lust for blood.
"My youngest son, Gaara." The Kazekage informed, confirming his fears. "Though," he added with a touch of amusement. "Calling it a scuffle may be an understatement considering he had to battle Gaara's fully transformed state."
"What!" This time he wasn't able to hide his shock at all. "What happened? Is he alright? Where is he now?" It wasn't until he noticed the small smile on the Kazekage's lips did he realize he had just completely lost his composure in front of a visiting kage. Cursing to himself mentally he forced himself to calm down and waited for the Kazekage to begin speaking once more.
Still sporting a slight grin, Subaku resumed once more answering each question in turn. "Your son defeated Gaara and made his escape before the first squad arrived at the scene. I would assume that he was alright considering he was able to avoid being caught by all of the retrieval squads I had sent out after him. As for where he is now, I would not know."
Minato nodded. It wasn't much but at least he now knew Naruto was still alive. With some luck and Jiraiya's spy network they should be able to pick up his trail, find him and hopefully convince him to come back home to Konoha. "Thank you, Kazekage-sama, I will not forget this."
Sabaku shrugged, brushing off the gesture. "Do not thank me Hokage-sama. Rather, I should be the one thanking Naruto. After his fight with Naruto, Gaara has changed and become much calmer since then. I look forward to meeting him when the time comes."
For the first time in years, Minato Namikaze was actually looking forward to going home. He was anxious to tell Kushina the news and contact Jiraiya so that they could get on Naruto's trail as soon as possible. When he arrived home however, back to the newly rebuilt Namikaze estate, he was surprised to find both Jiraiya and Tsunade already there. He invited the two to dinner and once they sat down at the table he told Kushina what he had learned from the Kazekage earlier that day.
Jiraiya grinned. "I'm already one step ahead of you Minato. Do you know the bridge that was completed two weeks ago in Nami no Kuni (Wave Country). They're calling it the Great Aozaki Naruto Bridge. I think it might have been named after him. Naruto isn't exactly a common name after all."
"He changed his name?" Kushina asked, hurt evident within her eyes. "…I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised should I." she said sadly. "It's not like we were ever real parents to him."
Minato went over to Kushina and placed a hand on her shoulder making her look at him and said to her, "Kushina I said that I wouldn't give up on Naruto until I brought him back and I intend to do just that. We will make things right again I promise."
Kushina looked up and smiled hopeful that they would make it up to Naruto and that return everything was finally going to start getting better again after this whole ordeal is over. "Do you know what happened?" She asked, her curiosity leading her to wonder exactly what Naruto had done to get a bridge named after him.
"Well, have you heard of the shipping magnate known as Gato." Jiraiya asked, making those around him collectively nod. "Well it turns out that he was also an extremely powerful crime lord. Slavery, drug-running, smuggling, you name it, any form of illegal shipping and movement can be traced back to him and his company."
"What does this have to do with Nami no Kuni?"
"About a year ago," Jiraiya explained, "This little bastard started an entire monopoly on the imports and exports of Nami no Kuni. After that he began starving the entire island to bring it under his control. He pretty much crushed anyone that tried to resist him, hell he even publicly executed a few guys just to show the people what happens to anyone that tries to mess with him."
"Sounds like a bright little ray of sunshine." Tsunade commented dryly.
Jiraiya nodded. "There was one way to break Gato's monopoly though. A man named Tazuna began building a bridge to connect the small island with the mainland. It was their only hope for the people of Nami no Kuni to start up trade again and break Gatō's stranglehold on their nation."
"I know that name." Minato spoke up suddenly, his eyes lighting up in recognition. "He came to the Konoha a few weeks ago and hired a small gennin team for a C-Rank mission."
"What happened?" Kushina asked.
"It turned out Tazuna had lied about the difficulty of the mission." Minato recounted somberly, "They were ambushed by the Oni Kyodai (Demon Brothers), and a genin got killed in the process. After that the jonin sensei found out what was going on and realized they would be facing the Kirigakure no Kijin (Demon of the Mist). They aborted the mission and came back to Konoha. I assumed Tazuna was killed after that."
"Well…" Jiraiya intervened continuing the story from there, "It turns out Naruto came across him while the man was trying to sneak his way back into Nami no Kuni. After hearing him out, Naruto agreed to escort him back home and protect him until the bridge was completed. After that, the accounts become a little dubious but if my informants in that area are to be believed he fought Zabuza Momochi and his accomplice twice and won. Then after that he killed Gato along with his entire mercenary army just to wrap it up."
As Jiraiya finished his narrative the people around him were gaping like fish. "He fought an A-ranked nuke-nin and won!" Kushina asked in shock. Even Minato, who already had some idea of Naruto's combat prowess from the Kazekage's account of his fight with Gaara, was still surprised that his son could already beat such a notorious ninja.
Jiraiya nodded in confirmation. "Apparently he beat Zabuza and his apprentice but decided to spare them both. After that he followed the two to Mizu no Kuni. (Land of Water)"
"Mizu no Kuni! As in Kirigakure (Village of the Mist)?!" Minato shouted. "Aren't they in the middle of a civil war right now?"
"I honestly doubt he went there just to sight see." Jiraiya noted. "And judging by the company he's following I'd bet my entire Icha Icha series he's probably going to join the rebel side. Zabuza Momochi is a pretty infamous enemy of Yagura after all."
Kushina was conflicted. On one hand she felt a touch of pride that her son had done something noble like liberating a nation, but a part of her was also sad when she realized that her son had gone through already, killing and risking his life at such a young age. Naruto was no longer an innocent child she could coddle the way she should have and it hurt her to know that she had completely missed his childhood
Shaking the depressing thoughts out of her head, Kushina stood up from where she was sitting and slammed her hands down on the coffee table in front of her. "Well what are we waiting for?" she demanded "Let's got bring Naru-chan back."
Minato shook his head. "It's a little more complicated than that Kushina. Kiri is in the middle of a civil war right now. If we send a squad inside their territory it might very well spark a war between Konoha and Kiri."
Kushina swung around to face Minato directly. "Minato Namikaze, are you saying we should just sit here and do nothing while our son is stuck in the middle of a bloody civil war?!" She yelled angrily, glaring at Minato with a look that promised much pain, if he didn't answer with great caution.
"Of course not." Minato raised both hands to make a conciliatory gesture, "But the fact remains that we still don't know Naruto's specific location right now." Hearing Kushina growl, Minato immediately sped up, in a slightly higher pitched tone. "I'm just suggesting we wait until Jiraiya finds out exactly where he is, before going in and getting him out." He finished quickly.
"I'm going to be on that team and we're going to be setting out the minute we find out where he is." Kushina informed him in a voice that brooked no argument.
Fearing for the existence of his manhood, Minato mutely nodded, thought secretly he worried for the safety of his wife. It had been years after all, since Kushina had been in the field. Already he began wondering who to assign to this mission to accompany her.
Mollified, Kushina sat back down in her seat and sighed sadly, her mind worrying if she would ever see her son again. 'Naruto please be alright'
Naruto leaped over the fence into the camp, his silhouette nothing more than a blur against the moonlight. His crimson coat was completely soaked in blood, though none of it was his own. Around him sounds of battle were raging on as steel clashed again steel and men cried out as fatal blows cut into their flesh. From the darkness two Kiri nins flanked him from both sides, hoping to ambush him. Naruto jumped, twisting his body in the air and narrowly dodging both swords that had moved to slice him in half. He traced Kanshou in his left hand and Bakuya in his right, and thrust them both into the chests of these attackers, all in the same motion of his dodge.
Landing gracefully on his feet, Naruto continued to run forward as though he had never been stopped in the first place. Seeing a group of enemies a short distance away, he jumped high into the air before landing in their midst. Before any of them could react he traced several swords around himself and launched them simultaneously in all directions, killing many of the ninja in the process. He then finished of the remaining enemy by tracing a new set of the yin and yang swords and systemically killing them one by one.
After finishing off the last soldiers, Naruto stopped and took his signature stance, readying himself for more attackers to jump out at him. When none came and the clearing was silent, he reinforced his sight and hearing to better take in his surroundings. For the most part, the defenders were falling back into the small fortress in the middle of the camp. He heard the small pattering sound of running behind him and turned around to see Haku, Zabuza and Suigetsu leap into the ring of corpses he had been standing in.
"Well?" Naruto asked them.
"It's as bad as we knew it would be." Zabuza told him gruffly. "This is a concentration camp for bloodline clans. A fucking slaughter house to kill them off nice, slow and systematically." Zabuza shook his head. "Shit gaki there are things in here that even I wouldn't do." Coming from a guy that slaughtered his entire academy class to graduate that said a lot.
Naruto nodded, doing his best to ignore that nagging sadness he felt at being unable to have saved many of the people here. No, he knew he could never have been able to save all of them in the first place. The important thing was to save those he still could. "We should hurry before the enemy have chance to regroup. Where are the prisoners being held?"
The question was directed at Suigetsu who pointed towards the west wing of the camp. "My clan and most of the others were kept there. Come on, I'll lead you there."
The four quickly ran through the camp killing anyone who was foolish enough to get in their way. They made their way to a section of the camp that contained several rows of buildings that looked more like warehouses or barns rather than human settlements. Naruto kicked the nearest door open. Slight illumination from the stars along with reinforced eyes gave a clear view of what was inside.
Though the building itself was fairly large it was impossible to tell from the inside. Every inch of space had been used to cramp stalls upon stalls against one another. Yes, stalls, the kind that were used to house animals rather than human beings. While the building itself looked as though it would collapse at any minute, its inhabitants looked far worse. All of them wore a standard gray prison outfit with a long sleeved shirt and long gray trousers with straw sandals; they also had steel collars around her neck with special seals placed on it so that it would suppress their chakra, effectively stopping them from using ninjutsu. Naruto knew it was also designed to paralyze its victim or explode depending on how the guards chose to activate it or if anyone less than a seal master carelessly tried tamper with it. However what struck Naruto the most was their conditions. Their faces were pale from malnutrition and lack of exposure to sunlight. They were skinny. He could see their cheekbones and their shirts, as thread bare as they may have been, looked far too big on them. It was the view of a people that had been overworked and deliberately starved for years.
"Su… Suigetsu is that you?"
"Jiji!" The blue haired swordsman blurred past Naruto towards an elderly old man.
"I was wondering what the ruckus was outside." The now identified Hozuki laughed. "I never dreamed you of all people would come back here."
"It wasn't just me" Suigetsu shook his head and gestured towards where Naruto was standing. "I was also saved."
Naruto kept his face impassive, giving nothing away as the old man turned to study him. At long last the Hozuki head simply shrugged. "I don't care." He stated simply. "I had enough of this god-forsaken place. Free us. I'd much rather die facing Yagura than return here."
A slight smile touched Naruto's face. "That's a good attitude old man… But first we need to get those collars off you." He turned Zabuza and Haku. "Raid the supply depots for food and start handing out soldier pills to the prisoners. That way we won't have to worry about them dying from indigestion and they'll hopefully have enough strength to haul ass out of this dump. Once you've done that, Haku and Suigetsu will organize a retreat back to the hideout. Zabuza, you're coming with me. Meet me in front of the keep in twenty minutes."
Zabuza raised a brow. "Why? You're not planning to do something stupid again are you?"
Naruto whirled around at the swordsman. "Zabuza, if I told you I was about to do the stupidest and most reckless thing in the history of stupidity and recklessness would that deter you from going along with it anyways?"
"… You're just saying that to entice me aren't you?"
"That's what I thought."
Quickly, those around him began shuffling out to carry out his commands. As they did, Naruto took a moment to step back and sigh. It had been five years since he had run away from Konoha, five years since he had met Mana and five years since those dreams began and ended, dreams of the red knight from who he had borrowed his jutsus. In the dreams he had watched, no, Naruto was the red knight, watching the man's life and adventures through the knight's eyes as though they were his own. He had watched the man grow up with the ideals he had borrowed from his adopted father, fight tooth and nail to survive trough the secret war and dedicate the rest of his life saving and protecting the lives of others, not once giving a damn about his own. In a way, he admired the red knight, ignoring loss and gain, never compromising his principles even at the cost of his own humanity. But in the end he had died, betrayed by the very people he had saved, blamed for the very wars he had ended and was executed as a villain. His heroic actions destined to be seen as fanatical terrorism by those that could never understand why he was so willing to risk his life for others. Yet the knight had died with a smile on his face. It was a calm relaxed smile as he accepted his end, not a single regret rested in his heart. Back then, Naruto couldn't understand how the red knight could accept such a terrible end so easily but more and more he was starting to understand the red knight's smile.
Unmo Samidare was not having a good day. He had been assigned to be the supervisor of this camp for a short mandatory routine tour. He had not enjoyed doing many of things he had done here but orders were orders and in the end it was usually his life over someone else's since Yagura was not the kind of leader that would tolerate disobedience or failure. As disagreeable as the work may have been, it should also have been safe, easy and simple. None of those words described the situation he was in now. His battle honed instincts had woken him up in the dead of night to the metallic smell blood and he had looked out the window of his room to see his men being slaughtered. It wasn't difficult to deduce who his enemy was. Their Kirigakure headbands and intended targets were a dead giveaway that they were Kiri rebels. If anything though Samidare wanted to know why the hell the rebels were active all of a sudden when they had been virtually nonexistent in Kiri for that past two years!
His thoughts were interrupted when he saw two lone figures walking towards the steel walled keep as though they were out for a leisurely walk. They stopped well within shuriken or kunai throwing range, not that anyone would have been stupid enough to try to attack men who were obviously messengers in their predicament, but the pair's absolute confidence in their current wellbeing was downright demoralizing. It wasn't difficult for Samidare to recognize Zabuza Momochi, the notorious Kirigakure no Kijin, but the person next to him was a complete mystery. He was young; that was the first though that struck Samidare. He couldn't have been much older than a rookie genin and yet he held himself as though he had been born to be on the battlefield. The figure, Samidare couldn't bring himself to call him a boy, had golden blonde locks that came down over frigid blue eyes, that sent chills down anyone who looked too deeply into them. He wore red overcoat, though Samidare noted bitterly that it could have just been the blood of all guards he had seen the monster kill during the initial attack.
"Hello, future victims!" The crimson clad blonde cheerfully called from below. "I thought I should let you know… that the prisoners in this camp, including the Hozuki clan and various other clans have been freed! Right now, they are eating to regain their strength! But you can be sure once they're done they'll hunt you down and kill every last one of you! If you surrender though, we'll let you go free and you might be able to escape before they finish their meal! Make your choice quickly though, because you don't have much time!"
In the end, it wasn't much of a choice. The camp itself held no strategic value and the rebels had already completed their main objectives. The loyalists knew that if they died there their deaths would have been meaningless and they would have no doubt died painful deaths at the hands of their former captives. Quickly the Kiri nins made their choice. They surrendered their weapons and began running out of the camp. Watching the backs of the fleeing ninja, Naruto's eyes drifted over the Zabuza.
"Don't." he said making the Demon of the Mist jerk in surprise.
"You noticed." It was not a question.
Naruto nodded "We gave our word that we would spare them, so we will." He paused for a moment before continuing. "Besides we need them to run away. If they had stayed there's a chance they might have been able follow us back to our base. It's not like we can move quickly with half-starved prisoners after all. This way, they'll spread word of what we've done here and make people realize how quickly Yagura's authority is falling apart."
Zabuza chuckled. "Sorry, I guess old habits die hard. This was the job I had back when I still Yagura's dog after all. Hehe."
Naruto turned and looked Zabuza straight in the eyes. "You are no one's dog, not anymore. This is our fight, no one else's… so we will fight it the way we choose."
Zabuza's eyes widened for a brief moment before staring back at Naruto impassively once more. Having said his fill, Naruto turned around and walked back towards the section of the camp where the prisoners were being freed from their bonds in order to see what he could do to help. For a while complete silence dominated the camp. From a small inconspicuous puddle lying on the ground not too far away, The Demon Brothers, Gozu and Meizu silently emerged like shadows.
"Zabuza-sama, should we hunt them down?" Meizu asked, curious as to why his leader had not already given the signal to attack.
Zabuza seemed to consider the choice for a moment before shaking his head. "Nah," He drawled nonchalantly, "We'll let them live for today. Come on, let's get back to the others."
He turned and began walking in the direction Naruto had gone, his back already receding into the distance.
Years later, the prisoners of Camp 11 would reflect upon this moment and realize how absurd the situation must have seemed, to have not even hesitated to follow the orders a mere boy they had never even met before. Yet that boy carried some kind of aura within him, wielding charisma in such a way that compelled the prisoners to accept his commands without question. As one Hozuki would later comment, 'I followed the crimson knight, out of the concentration camp and into battle, not because of any reason or logical thought, but out of instinct. It was as though every fiber of my being was screaming at me to follow this man. I'm not sure why I did… but maybe… maybe it's because I somehow knew I was about to witness the birth of a great legend.'