Ice and Darkness ch 1
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Evangeline wasn't a big fan of redheads. In fact, she'd never met a redhead that she actually liked.
The first redhead she'd met was one of the many people trying to burn her at the stake, which was really not a very nice thing to experience. The second redhead she'd met had been impossibly charming, fantastically kind, and very much not interested – which got frustrating – so much 'not interested' in fact that he sealed her in a school before going off to get himself killed somewhere. Bastard.
The third redhead she met was a recluse from society, the fourth was far too nosy for her own good, the fifth was a violent monkey that just so happened to be immune to magic, and the sixth kept cheerfully running away.
The seventh redhead she'd met was actually worse than his redheaded father – who'd been number two – though exactly how he managed to be more annoying than him was hard to say. It could've been his childish insistence on having bested her, despite her holding back. It could've been because he was just as charming as his father, something which meant that he could perhaps be molded into becoming interested. Or it could've been the fact that he was largely responsible for that one spell that went a little haywire.
Eva scoffed at the idea that anyone could describe being physically launched into a different world, running into Death, being hurled straight into the jaws of an immortal demon, and then managing to get caught up in a gigantic sealing array only to finally wake up inside of an infant's stomach, as a spell going a 'little' haywire.
Eva was also fairly certain that there was a ninth redhead involved in her sealing – the eight had been a very noisy little girl that kept screaming in terror – which just proved her point. Redheads were to be avoided, killed at sight, or be completely wiped from the human gene-pool.
Needless to say, she was fairly sure that such points were the reason that people kept calling her evil. But she'd never let anything like that stop her before. No, she was the Dark Evangel! She could be as prejudicedly evil as she wanted to! It said so in her contract!
Okay, so perhaps she'd written that contract herself, but that was beside the point. The point being that redheads were evil, and that she was fully allowed to kill them at sight for what their fellow redheads had done to her over the years.
Which was why the red-furred fox that kept screaming for blood was quickly and efficiently dealt with.
Unfortunately, she couldn't actually kill it, what with its immortality and all, but considering how she'd managed to turn it into a fox no larger than the average house-cat, she was fairly alright with this.
The ability to kick the whining little thing across the cage whenever she got bored helped.
Boredom was an actual issue for her though. She'd spent fifteen years in a school filled with crazy people, and before that she'd been traveling across her world for centuries. Being trapped in a cage, with only the vaguest of ideas of what was happening outside of her prison, wasn't something she was feeling particularly pleased with. Which was why kicking the nine-tailed little fox-cat across the prison cell became her most favorite pastime.
The thing that called itself the Kyuubi didn't really agree with her, but she was evil, she was allowed to be mean to others. It said so in her contract.
Naruto stared at the boy lying in front of him. The boy that was almost a friend, a rival of sorts. The boy that had jumped in front of an attack meant to kill him. The boy that had just saved his life by paying with his own.
The masked enemy mused clinically if this was his first time seeing someone die.
Naruto wanted to hurt him. He wanted to hurt him so badly.
Growling in anger, he tore his eyes away from his dead teammate, latching on to the reflection in the ice mirrors instead.
He needed to be faster. He needed to be stronger. He needed to be better.
And then it came. Ice boiling through his blood. Despair drowning his mind. Hatred tearing at the inside of his skin.
For the briefest of moments he thought he heard a young girl's cruel laughter, and then he lost himself in destruction.
The ice bent. The mirrors were torn from their moorings, and suddenly the masked nin was tumbling across the bridge. Shock apparent even through the porcelain covering his face.
Naruto cared little for it. The enemy wasn't hurting yet. He wanted them to hurt. He needed them to hurt.
At speeds he didn't know he could achieve, he launched himself at the enemy.
Ice formed all around him, darkness swirled in a maelstrom of smoldering hatred, but all he could see was the enemy. The enemy that wasn't hurting enough yet.
Roaring in anger as the enemy stood once again, Naruto continued his assault. Then, with cracks appearing from all the blows, the broken porcelain mask slipped.
Haku stood in front of him.
Kind, gentle, smiling Haku. Haku who wanted to protect his precious people. Haku who'd been nice to him.
His punch stopped before it hit, his eyes tearing up at the horrible absurdity of it all. He didn't want to kill him. Haku was his enemy. Haku had killed Sasuke. Naruto wanted to hurt him. But he was a precious person, he understood not having a purpose. He couldn't hurt him.
"No..." He choked out in a strangled voice. "No..." He stared in horror as the boy looked at him with empty eyes.
"I am Zabuza-sama's tool. A useless tool will be discarded." He stated in monotone.
And Naruto understood. Through his horror, through his naivety, through his inexperience, through his carelessness, he understood. There was no hesitation in Haku's eyes, no second chances. A broken tool would be discarded, and Haku wouldn't survive that. Better to die now, than to face that end.
Naruto wasn't allowed to spare his life. Life was no longer Haku's place. Haku was to be discarded, and so he was already unmistakably dead. Whether through his heart, or through his flesh, that was all that remained to be seen. And Naruto knew what it would be like to die through his heart.
Mercy was not allowed. Mercy was death. Death was the only option.
He didn't want to do this. He didn't want to cover his hands in the blood of one of his precious people. But he had no choice. This was what his life would be.
It was only now that he truly understood the horror of what Zabuza had done in his exam. The horror of the exam itself.
There would be no greater nightmare than to stand before this choice.
Then the sound of a thousand birds echoed through the mist, and suddenly Haku moved again, because he could still be of some use to his master.
Evangeline wasn't sure what to think of the boy's first attempt at drawing at her powers. It proved how impressive the seal-work was, certainly, but it also further drove home the point that she was trapped. She was to be a power-battery for some blond brat who didn't know what war meant. A brat who'd signed up to be a soldier anyway.
Evangeline couldn't really bring herself to like anyone in this world. Not that she tried particularly hard, mind you, but still. And she could understand an orphan's desperate need for attention, just as much as she understood his unstoppable desire to live.
She was a bit peeved that she'd ended up in the body of some kind of reckless moron with too big of a heart, but if the options were between that and the many others she'd spied in the passing, then she was fairly alright with it.
Better some reckless idiot than a coward, better a class-clown than a stuck up, inbred, self-obsessed moron. Or a fangirl. She hated fangirls, even if it was a relatively new hatred, partially developed on behalf of the girls' very shrill voices, and the lack of actual intelligent observations.
She kind of missed Chachamaru actually. Cold logic in a somewhat gentle frame. She'd even found herself missing the gynoid's questioning hints of her inability at being truthful about her own feelings, which was really just further proof that she seriously needed to talk to someone, pronto.
Naruto pondered what he remembered from the Academy lessons on the Kyuubi. A monster made from fire and hatred, each of its nine tails bringing destruction with every swing.
It sounded powerful, it sounded frightening, it sounded absolutely nothing like what he'd felt at the bridge in Wave.
There'd been ice and darkness, and whatever hatred and anger was aimed at his opponent, the hatred of the self, of the situation, seemed to weigh heavier in his mind. Even had he not remembered the laughter of a young girl, Naruto would've been forced to admit that he had his doubts about the Kyuubi.
If its powers were so mistaken from the rumors, then what did that mean for its motivations? Did it merely attack in self-defense? Was it really evil, and people just made an utter mistake about its abilities? Or had something changed once it was sealed in him?
There were a lot of questions, questions that he didn't feel comfortable with asking the old man. In fact, the only one he could imagine asking these questions of would've been the Kyuubi itself.
But how could he ask something that was sealed inside of him?
The answer had come to him after Iruka had told him about 'coping methods' for watching someone die. It had been a good lecture, despite being uncomfortable, and had served its purpose well. He would remember Haku, he would mourn Haku, and he would move on.
The idea was that he should remain quiet and try to 'listen to his subconscious'. This was difficult, as Naruto disliked being quiet, but he figured there was a chance that he might be able to get into contact with the Kyuubi like this.
So, he took a deep breath, and then he was silent.
His first clue that he was doing it right, came when he heard dripping water.
Slowly prying his eyes open, Naruto began his trek through the strange water-filled corridors. He wasn't sure where he was going, but he figured that it would work itself out.
He was proven correct when he reached a giant room, and the gigantic gate that took up one of its walls.
"About time you got here, the fox is starting to whine again." Came the voice of a young girl.
Naruto blinked, not quite understanding what she'd just said, but noticing a small, blonde girl standing on the other side of the giant bars of the cage.
There was a sound of something hissing, and the girl looked away from him, sending a glare at something else inside of the cage.
"Oh, bugger off." She kicked after what looked a lot like a red cat with nine tails, and it scampered off into the darkness.
Naruto finally opened his mouth. "Who're you?" His voice tinged with suspicion.
"I'm Evangeline AK McDowell." The girl stated elaborately. "I'm from a different world, you could say. My student got a spell... 'wrong' sounds like such an inadequate word... well, he messed it up, and accidentally launched me into what I can only assume was the sealing process of the being that you know as the Kyuubi. I've been trapped in this cage with the annoying little bugger ever since."
Naruto was fairly sure that the Kyuubi had been known to be a gigantic creature that towered over even the Hokage tower, and having someone call it 'little' made him feel a bit weird. He decided to voice his confusion on the description.
The girl looked at him for a moment, before nodding absently. "Well, it was a lot bigger when I got here. But it kept trying to attack me, so I beat the snot out of it. Unfortunately I can't actually kill it, what with it being immortal and all, but I doubt anyone but a toddler could think it unstoppable, as it is now." She pointed at the red bundle that poked its head out again, hissing.
"But I thought that not even the Yondaime could defeat it?" He frowned.
Evangeline shrugged noncommittally. "Wouldn't doubt it. I mean, he was only human after all. I only know of one Human that could've beaten it, and that's using one of my own techniques." She paused. "Though, there is the possibility that Rakan could've pulled it off. Damn game-breaker of an idiot."
Naruto didn't know who this Rakan might be, but hearing her call someone really strong and then call him an idiot in the same sentence was a bit odd to him, as he'd heard all his life that only intelligent people had any chance in ninja-life. But regardless of that, there was something a bit more pressing than even the notion that there were people stronger than the Yondaime.
"What do you mean with 'human'?" He asked cautiously. She looked human enough, but that could be a trick.
"I'm a vampire." She answered absently. "I'm probably about as old as the Kyuubi, obviously stronger, but I don't think I was ever quite as immortal as it."
"No way!" Naruto crossed his arms in an 'x'. "There's no way that a brat like you could be older than the Kyuubi!"
"Who are you calling a brat?" She asked in a calm voice that sent chills down his spine, a cold glint in her eyes even as a fake smile drifted across her lips.
The dead-last of his class suddenly felt very much inclined to never mention the girl's age ever again. She was scarier than the Kyuubi!
Kakashi stared at his student.
Two out of three were acting like they usually did. Sasuke was brooding and Sakura was fawning. Obviously, this was the way it should've been.
Naruto looked to be meditating.
There was something fundamentally wrong with seeing the loud and cheerful boy wearing such a serious face whilst sitting down silently. Hell, the mere act of sitting down was downright absurd with how the boy normally acted.
"Naruto, what are you doing?" He asked carefully, hoping that the boy had a good reason for acting weird, and would start acting in a predictable manner soon enough.
"Talking with Eva." He responded through closed eyes.
"Eva?" The obviously feminine name drew Sakura's attention.
Kakashi was worried about other things though, namely, the act of talking whilst meditating. He shouldn't be able to talk to people far away whilst meditating, which left only people inside of him. Like the Kyuubi. Kakashi was understandably nervous of having his student on speaking terms with a gigantic monster capable of destroying Konoha. He liked Konoha, it was filled with eye-candy, good food, porn, and the memorial of those dear to him.
"Evil Dark Mage with a complex about her lack of-... Oww!" He flinched. "Dammit! Don't do that! Crazy old hag! Oww!" He flinched again. "Alright! I'm sorry! Just stop doing that already!"
Kakashi was now notably worried. He wasn't sure what a Dark Mage was, or why he called her an old hag, but he'd heard the word 'evil' in there, and now she was hurting his student. That was really really bad. What if she hurt him in the middle of a dangerous mission? He could flinch, and then he could get himself killed! That wasn't good.
"Naruto." He started seriously.
"She's an evil vampire from a different world. She dislikes being stuck inside of the seal since it gets boring, and fuzz-butt is kind of..." Naruto paused his quick interjection, apparently understanding his teacher's concerns. "Kind of not really important anymore." He shivered before commenting silently. "She's scary when she's mad." Sighing, he continued his reassurances. "But she won't do anything to inconvenience me in battle. She promised, and she keeps her promises. It says so in her contract."
"'Contract'?" Kakashi blinked, not really understanding what he'd just been told.
"Any evil-doer has to write a contract." He took on a tone of voice of someone repeating a long-standing lesson. "Nobody else would do it for them, and it gets boring over the centuries if you don't have a handicap."
"'Centuries'?" He didn't know what was going on anymore, and this really hadn't been the way he'd pictured the day would go.
"She's a vampire." He noted with a sigh. "Which means that she's immortal. Sort of. Not quite as immortal as the Kyuubi, but still a lot more immortal than a human could be." He paused. "Though she also notes that some guy called Rakan is probably stupidly strong enough to kill Time, if it ever comes knocking... I'm not sure if she's kidding."
"What would an evil immortal be doing in you?" Sasuke asked with a tone that made it quite obvious that he didn't understand why Kakashi was taking this seriously.
"Devouring the Kyuubi's powers." Naruto noted absently. "And ranting about how she should so totally be allowed to wipe out all redheads. And on how her student is so dead if she ever gets her hands on him." He paused, tilting his head, his eyes still closed. "I think she misses him... Oww!" He flinched.
By now Kakashi was looking slightly horrified, Sakura was starting to look completely lost, and Sasuke had apparently latched on to the Kyuubi-reference.
"Dobe, what is the Kyuubi doing in you?" He demanded angrily.
"The Yondaime sealed it in me... along with Eva, but that was mostly her student's fault, or the Shinigami's, hard to tell. Other than that, it whines a lot about being kicked around like a retarded puppy whenever Eva gets bored."
Right, Kakashi noted to himself. His student had just revealed himself as the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki, and he hadn't even seemed to notice, too busy with this Eva-person. Who was a vampire, which Kakashi had never heard of.
"What's a vampire Naruto?" Kakashi focused on trying to get an explanation.
"An immortal being that drinks the blood of others." He paused. "Some of them are really mean, others are kind of mean, and others are products of a sick society." He recited to himself. "That means that they were hunted down and burned at the stake by humans, repeatedly if they were immortal enough, until they started fighting back."
"But that's horrible!" Sakura latched on to sympathy in her confusion.
"It's life. And humans are cruel." Naruto noted distractedly. "Eva has a philosophy on life, but I think she's wrong. I think it's why she calls herself an 'evil' mage." He winced a little. "That and her contract. She's working on a clause to make sure that she can kill any redhead she runs across in the future at first glance as a preemptive measure."
Kakashi paused briefly as he tried to remember any redheads that might get caught in this clause and expire preemptively. He couldn't think of anyone in Konoha. That was probably a good thing.
Kakashi stared in horror as Naruto gleefully jumped at the opportunity of learning under Eva.
His horror didn't stem from how his student would now be learning under a different sensei and that he couldn't satisfy any potential sadistic urge he had to screw with the boy's mind any longer, but rather stemmed from how an evil vampire who'd wiped the floor with the Kyuubi was going to be teaching his student how to fight.
Naruto could think on his feet, but wouldn't ever become book-smart; he had endless chakra reserves, but wouldn't know chakra control if it came up to him and hit him over the head with a mallet; he was innocent in a cheerful way, but was mindbogglingly annoying to spend too much time with.
Now he would be able to beat down bijuu with little effort? This was something akin to teaching a five year old how to make explosive notes and then leave the paint out whilst you went shopping for a few hours. It was like an explosive accident – with extreme amounts of property damage – waiting to happen.
His first inquiries into what Eva would be teaching him weren't calming either. Apparently she didn't know any spell that didn't cause mayhem to at least some degree – with the possible exception of a spell that she was fairly sure that he'd need to overload anyway which meant that the result would most likely be the same.
Whimpering softly at the thought of being forced to write up pile upon horrible pile of paperwork for the destruction of Konoha's training grounds, Kakashi took a deep breath.
He could to this, he only needed to find some place where he could aim Naruto where he wouldn't accidentally blow up the Hokage monument.
Didn't Naruto, despite his shitty control, manage to create hundreds upon hundreds of Kage Bunshin without any issues, even without drawing upon the Kyuubi?
Kakashi noted to himself that this was definitely true.
And wouldn't this mean that if someone taught him how to control his chakra properly, he'd be able to pretty much make an entire army at will?
Kakashi noted again, that this was indeed true and a potentially useful thing to have at Konoha's disposal in the future, but that he wasn't certain where his subconscious was going with these points.
And couldn't someone technically regain all memories and experiences from a Kage Bunshin, turning it, with such an amount, into an actual way of learning faster?
Really? Well, Kakashi had to admit that that would certainly come in handy.
And wouldn't this Eva-person figure this out and decide to let him advance at a quicker rate to keep her from getting annoyed with him?
Kakashi nodded, of course she would, that would just be common sense.
And wasn't she teaching him huge, destructive techniques that could take down bijuu?
Kakashi frowned, he really didn't he'd like where he thought that his subconscious was going with this.
And wouldn't that, technically, mean that there would be hundreds of Naruto – non-thinking Naruto – throwing around highly destructive techniques, without any control, all around Konoha?
Kakashi paled. This... this... this was far more dire than he could possibly have imagined.
In fact, this seemed like a good time to leave the country. For a few decades or so. Maybe rejoin ANBU, kill people in efficient but horribly messy ways for the good of Konoha. Hey, maybe he could get himself reassigned to Root? He'd heard good things about that place, namely of its many bunkers and out-of-Konoha missions.
A small part of him noted that the chunin exam was coming up, and that jounins really couldn't be asked to take care of the paperwork that a chunin might create, or be blamed for the actions of a chunin that might've served under them as a student at some point in time. Or, at the very least, not be blamed officially.
Right, he was going to be stopping by the Hokage tower for some quick forms for his chunin-to-be students, and then he'd have a sudden desire to take out some vacation on the other side of the Elemental Nations. That sounded like a fantastic idea – even if he doubted that he'd be able to get out of Konoha in time, no matter what excuse he pulled.
A written test.
Naruto gulped, really not liking where this exam was going.
Then Eva was there, sadistically amused at his cold sweat and yet oddly encouraging with her presence.
Ignoring his personal feeling of doom, Naruto focused instead on his tenant, delving deeper into meditation even as he walked to his assigned seat.
Eva wasn't especially knowledgeable of the life of a shinobi, but she knew a lot of other things, and with that knowledge and years upon years of experiences, compounded on a calm and logical mind that was used to annihilate all opposition, there was a distinct possibility that she could tell him the answers.
So, when the rules were explained and the only thing he could feel from her was an endless source of amusement... Naruto decided that perhaps there was something weird about this test. He wasn't sure what it was, or how Eva would know of it, or if it was merely amusing her in general, but the fact was that she usually had a reason for feeling something other than boredom.
Usually that reason was somehow related to sadism though, so there was a big chance that she merely cackled evilly in response to his horror at being confronted with a written test.
Still, best to check before dismissing the thought.
They started out with ten points. They lost one point for every question they got wrong. They lost a decided amount of points for every time they got caught cheating. They would be given the tenth question at a later time.
Naruto blinked. This sounded like a set-up.
He wasn't sure if the questions were difficult because he was an idiot, or if the examiner had made them supposedly impossible, but the fact was that you weren't removed if you cheated. Even if you got caught. As long as you didn't get caught too many times.
His lips twitching slightly as he began to realize that this was all one gigantic prank on all the genin present, Naruto closed his eyes and started to think.
He wasn't good enough at stealth to be able to cheat and get away clean, but maybe he could work around the amount of times you were allowed to get caught.
If you lost two points for each time you were caught, then he was allowed to get caught once for every three questions he got right. Considering that he couldn't be sure if the one he was cheating off would be correct, this became slightly more hazardous.
It would be best not to get caught, but he already knew that was impossible with his current skills and situation. He pranked people, he distracted people, he cloned things, he blew things up.
Tilting his head slowly, Naruto pondered his own abilities for a while. He wouldn't be able to sneak away from his seat without getting caught, and he wouldn't be able to move fast enough that people wouldn't berate him for his attempt at moving from his seat. This left either using Kage Bunshin to fill the room and check every single paper before letting them disperse themselves – henge optional – or blatantly grabbing someone else's paper and copying it before the examiners got too peeved at him.
Naruto wasn't sure if he'd be able to fill the room with henge'd Kage Bunshin, but felt that it was the most sensible option of those available to him.
Nodding to himself, Naruto put his hands together in a fake – but quite convincing – prayer to whatever exam-gods were out there. Then he shifted his hands a little, and suddenly the room was filled with Ibiki-clones. Probably around fifty clones of the scarred man stared coldly over the shoulders of the genin present, looming over them in a way that really was quite nerve-wrecking.
A horrified silence stretched across the room before the Ibiki-clones finally nodded solemnly and dispersed.
Naruto tried his best to ignore the sudden headache that come from dispersing so many clones in the midst of attempting to memorize written text – and read the horrible handwriting of a certain few – and began to scratch away at his own test, dutifully ignoring the relieved sighs of his fellow genin, and the ecstatic cackling of Eva.
He hated written tests. Even if cheating was approved of.
Naruto snickered at Eva's comment of 'not another idiot' as Anko Mitarashi made her big entrance through a very-much closed window.
"Something funny, brat?" Anko's eyes glimmered dangerously.
Naruto briefly considered trying to praise the crazy woman's idiocy, but decided against it, mostly because he got the feeling that she might stab him with that kunai that she was now twirling casually around her finger.
"N-No. I was just really glad that you weren't a redhead, because then Eva would start ranting about killing you as a preemptive strike towards annoyance." He accidentally started rambling a little bit.
The woman blinked, looking at him strangely for a long moment, before finally turning towards his teammates. "The hell is he talking about?"
"Apparently, Eva believes that redheads bring her random annoyances and bad luck." Sakura deadpanned, looking very much like she'd spoken those words enough times that she wasn't even bothered by the clearly unstable person that she was talking to.
"And she's allowed to kill them in preemptive strikes. It says so in her contract." Naruto helpfully added, holding up a bunch of papers that the Evil Mage had forced him to copy down methodically, word for word.
Anko stood still for a long moment, her mouth looking a little slack as she stared at the bunch of papers that the blonde loudmouth was helpfully showing to her.
She hadn't actually been prepared for this level of craziness when she got out of bed that day. Funny that.
Naruto blinked up at the gigantic snake looming over him, jaws wide.
He'd heard that the Forest of Death was filled with... well, monsters, really. But this? This was just ridiculous.
Shaking his head at it, he called out the spell for fifty Arrows of Ice, and promptly launched it at the snake's open maw.
Naruto grimaced as the gigantic snake's brains was splattered over both the nearby trees as well as himself, but decided to ignore the smell of being covered in gore, instead hurriedly setting off towards where he'd last seen his teammates.
That wind that had blasted him this way couldn't have been natural after all, and anyone with those kinds of jutsus to throw around, would probably be really bad news.
Orochimaru had been a bit confused at the words that the Uchiha's blond teammate shared with his former apprentice, but maybe Sarutobi had finally begun allowing crazy people to join the ninja force in an effort to keep up the numbers.
There was technically the possibility that the boy had some manner of Kekkai Genkai that allowed him to communicate with a second personality of some kind, though it was highly unlikely that such a thing was the case, especially as Kabuto should've reported that.
More likely, the idiot-brat was not only the dead-last, but also severely mentally disturbed, to the point where he believed that there was a female that could talk to him from the inside.
There was of course the possibility that this might be Konoha's Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi, since his age seemed to match up with the attack all those years ago, but if the demon-vessel was so obviously crazy and deep into communications with the Kyuubi, then there was no way that the chunin and jounin would've been so surprised by the pink-haired girl's explanation.
Nonetheless, he'd continue on with his plans, because crazy or not, it wasn't like the boy could actually hurt him, what with being an S-Class missing-nin with more time spent in battle than the boy's entire lifetime.
So he'd blown the blond away with a blast of air, and was now left with his target and the pink-haired little girl that was probably less of a danger in a straight-up fight than Tora the Cat.
Even if that cat was admittedly a very very dangerous feline. A feline that many would in fact swear to be a demon spawn of some sort. Even so, it was still a cat and whilst horribly good at running away and capable of easily wounding a genin with its frantic claws, it wasn't like it could assassinate the Hokage on even an awfully good day.
Orochimaru focused instead on the boy with his newly activated Kekkai Genkai, which would mean that the snake-sannin shouldn't use any techniques in the brat's immediate field of vision – no need to give the child a better ninjutsu arsenal before he'd been converted to Orochimaru's way of thinking after all.
And so began their fight. Or well, Sasuke's evaluation, because Orochimaru wasn't really fighting the desperately struggling boy. That would be a bit too unfair, and it wasn't his purpose to do so regardless, since he merely wanted to make sure that Sasuke would be strong enough to survive the effort he put into the Cursed Seal before applying it to the genin.
Then what felt like fifty instant punches of something distinctly icy smacked into his mud-clone, causing it to dissolve in mid-attack.
Blinking curiously at the attack that he'd never seen before, Orochimaru turned towards where he believed that the attack had come from, carefully creating another mud-clone to take any potential follow-up-blasts.
Just because he could easily survive something like that, didn't mean that he wanted to experience it.
The blond boy in orange was there – though his clothing seemed to have shifted into brown as it'd been exposed to massive amounts of blood recently – but as the boy's blue eyes lingered on his teammates and their obvious injuries, something shifted.
Commonly tanned skin turned black, innocently blue eyes glowed golden, and something in the back of Orochimaru's mind began chanting Run away runawayrunaway run away!
This was very odd, because the boy was clearly inexperienced, and he'd been the dead-last of the Academy, and quite frankly the only time Orochimaru had felt that sudden impulse in the last few years was when he'd gotten into a fight with Itachi. And Itachi was on a completely different level in comparison to some genin brat.
Then there were suddenly a few hundreds of the orange-clad blonds, and they all began chanting. Everyone used different words, but their eyes were all filled with the same compressed fury and hatred and anger and protectiveness and guilt and desire to kill.
He only realized that two of the blond's clones had kawarimi'd with the Uchiha and the pink-haired girl when he saw the two of them hidden behind the lines of chanting blonds.
Not being exactly sure what kind of attack would require chanting – possibly some manner of sacred art from one of the temples or something – but fairly certain that so many clones utilizing it on him would most likely be unpleasant, Orochimaru carefully sank into the ground and sent a mud-clone to distract the clones so that he could place the Cursed Seal on the young Uchiha and be on his way already.
What happened instead was insane.
Chaos, destruction, pain, wrongness, exploded through the world as he tried to sink into the earth, and something attacked him. No, not something, the earth attacked him. It saw him, it found him, it rejected his control over it, and it fought back.
The chanting from the clones reached a crescendo, and then the world exploded into colors, and pain and agony and the sudden realization that whilst kawarimi was a wonderful jutsu to know, it wasn't much use when everything you tried to replace yourself with was being annihilated along with you.
Of course, he'd readied his resurrection technique that allowed him to recover from things like having his head cut off, but for some reason it kept malfunctioning, either because the bombardment had yet to stop meaning that another body simply joined the first one in being annihilated in the wave of destruction, or something made the chakra that it relied upon flicker oddly.
His resurrection technique wouldn't work right, he couldn't escape, and he couldn't block it. He was being killed by a genin. A rookie genin who'd been the dead-last of his class was killing the infamous Orochimaru of the Sannin.
It was impossible. Yet that was what was happening.
Desperate, he activated his final form, the snake that he'd been forced to twist his soul into in order to perfect his immortality technique.
The gigantic white snake was not killed as easily as his regular flesh had been, allowing him a moment to reorient himself and find a way to fight back against the blond and his clones.
Something landed on his nose.
The white in the boy's eyes had turned black, and the blue iris was indeed golden. The boy's suddenly dark skin was at this distance easily seen covered in tattoos, glowing tattoos. And he was smiling, a cold and utterly merciless smile.
"Complexio!" The blond uttered a single word, and again the world twisted painfully.
The last thought that ran through Orochimaru's mind was quite simply: But he's just a dead-last rookie genin.
Naruto had known immediately that the man in front of him was out of his league.
But he'd have to fight him anyway, so his best shot at it would be overwhelming force right from the get-go.
A hundred clones, all chanting the spells for whatever big explosion they could think of aimed at the Grass-nin. Most used ice and darkness, but there was also fire, lightning, wind, spirit, light, water, and earth all joining together into a chaotic mess of magical discharge.
He'd of course immediately dragged his teammates out of the line of fire, because he knew that in his edgy state he'd never really be able to not accidentally overload his spells, meaning that his aim would be beyond awful and well into the suicidal ranges.
There was a reason that he was having his clones chant the spells, rather than stand and chant along with them. Getting exploded hurt.
So, without his teammates in risk of getting caught in the blasts, he'd released it all in the general direction of the Grass-nin, not knowing that his own terrible aim was the only reason that he hadn't merely killed a mud-clone, rather than actually hurt Orochimaru himself.
It doesn't matter if you're hidden safely from view in a nearby bush when all bushes nearby are on fire.
But when the gigantic white snake – that smelled like rotting flesh and that looked like it was made up out of smaller snakes, rather than scales – appeared out of the explosions, Naruto knew that he was probably fighting something insanely out of his league and that he was lucky to have gotten that first hit in when he had.
Unfortunately, none of his spells seemed to do any real damage to the creature, and that meant that he'd have to attack it with something that wasn't technically damaging. The theory went a bit along the lines of how if you couldn't bludgeon someone to death by dropping a glacier on their heads, then it might be a viable tactic to simply drown them instead.
And the only non-attacking spell in Naruto's arsenal was the thing that he'd picked up when Eva had let a really cool technique slip by accident. She'd said something about it slowly corrupting the user until it turned them into a monster, but Naruto had thought that it looked cool, so he hadn't bothered listening particularly hard.
Beginning the incantation, and cheerfully ignoring the fact that Eva was grinding her teeth together in frustration over his recklessness, Naruto used the trees to launch himself onto the snake's nose.
He couldn't hurt it. Couldn't attack it. But the snake wasn't... flesh and blood... it was... something else, something that was shifted a little to the left of what creatures should be like. And if it didn't have a true body, but rather an energy that was continuously keeping it from dissipating somehow, then that energy could be absorbed.
A cold smile flitting across his lips, Naruto finished the spell. "Complexio!"
Eva blinked stupidly at the gigantic white snake that suddenly appeared in Naruto's mindscape.
Or rather, inside of the cage inside of Naruto's mindscape.
"Well... what do you know. Maybe the brat has his uses after all..." Eva trailed off, a smile filled with evil anticipation of sadistic violence creeping dangerously across her lips.
The Kyuubi watched the newest addition to its prison, and in a rare show of camaraderie towards a living creature, bowed its head briefly before getting ready to ignore its pleads for mercy.
Hey, it might pity the snake, but it wasn't about to put its neck on the line for something that could distract the sadistic monster that shared its cage from its own weakened self. It wasn't an idiot after all.
When Anko realized that her old teacher was there, in the Exams, already infiltrating the Forest of Death, she rushed towards the sounds of the most violent battle, the battle that would hopefully expose Orochimaru for being one of the Sannin rather than a genin.
Originally, she hadn't been entirely certain of where she ought to go, but then the explosions started. The explosions that made it sound as if someone was trying to level the entirety of the Training Ground 44 to the ground.
On arrival however, she didn't find the missing-nin chuckling darkly at her as he was surrounded by the bodies of dead genin. Instead, she found the orange-clad blond who talked about 'Eva' standing some distance away from his teammates.
His teammates were clearly roughened up, and their eyes were wide to a level that she'd only seen very very rarely on another human being.
The blond himself however... he was standing in the middle of the destruction, surrounded by some kind of disgusting mass of snakes writhing in their death, with strange tattoos lingering on his skin.
Then the blond turned his face towards her, and she felt herself shying away from the inhumanely golden eyes.
"Oh! Crazy fishnet-lady!" The boy exclaimed, surprised. "What are you doing here?"
Anko, who'd been just about ready to attack the boy whose eyes reminded her eerily of Orochimaru's, suddenly stopped at the curious innocence in his tone. "I'm looking for Orochimaru." She explained instead, her eyes following him suspiciously.
"Eh? Orochi-what?" The boy tilted his head, but before she could explain it, he suddenly nodded. "Oh, the snake-guy. Why didn't she just say so?" He asked himself. "Whatever. Don't worry crazy fishnet-lady, I Complexio'd him." He grinned with a certain proud smugness, before suddenly frowning. "What do you mean 'Complexio'd isn't proper grammar'? It makes sense, doesn't it? Then it's proper grammar!" He defended himself.
"Kid, what the hell are you talking about?" Anko interrupted the crazy kid.
"Eh? Well, Eva keeps complaining about my grammar, but language is about being understood, right? So why should that stuff matter if it can be understood?" He explained the argument that he'd been having with himself.
"What the hell is a 'Complexio'?" She demanded, gritting her teeth angrily at the boy.
"It's an absorption technique, built around the concept of absorbing a spells, or ninjutsu I suppose. It was designed to take in a technique and transform yourself into the essence of that technique, but I think it's a bit more complicated than that." He scratched his head. "Anyway, he turned into a giant snake-thing after I'd exploded him for a few minutes, and since my spells didn't work, I figured I'd hit him with something that wasn't based around hurting him. So I absorbed him instead. Eva says that it only worked because he was using some kind of corruption-technique to keep himself alive when jumping in between bodies, and that the only reason I wasn't eaten by him when he was absorbed was because she was awesomely powerful and killed him." He paused, as if listening to something. "Well, is still killing him, technically. But he was pretty much doomed from the moment when he appeared inside of the cage rather than outside of it. Now he just has to get too broken to be entertaining, and then he'll die."
Anko blinked, trying to wrap her head around what he'd just said.
"Let me see if I've gotten this straight... You were the reason that half the forest exploded?" She asked, and upon receiving an enthusiastic nod from the blond, continued in a slightly dazed tone. "Then, Orochimaru turned into a snake, and wasn't affected by the explosions. So you used an absorption-jutsu for ninjutsu that worked on him by chance, and managed to pull him into your mindscape, where he's now being tortured to death for the entertainment of this 'Eva'?"
"She's allowed to torture people who annoy her, it says so in her contract." The boy explained in a serious voice.
Pinching her eyes shut and rubbing her temples in an effort to resist the sudden headache that was forming, Anko tried to think of what she ought to do next.
A rookie genin had fulfilled her epic quest for vengeance towards her former teacher, and was now having that same teacher tortured to death for the entertainment of something that apparently wasn't the Kyuubi – she'd been briefed by Kakashi when she'd asked about it.
A part of her wanted to punch the kid in the face for stealing her thunder, another wanted to kiss him most thoroughly as a reward for finally ridding her of that constant nagging worry that her teacher would return and ruin what remained of her life, but mostly she was just suddenly feeling quite exhausted.
Slumping down to sit, she stared curiously at the genin who'd just by his lonesome defeated Orochimaru of the Sannin, when she suddenly had an idea.
"Hey kid, that 'Eva'-person, can you ask her to get some information for us? I mean, he was a missing-nin and kind of left a lot of bad things in his wake, so it'd be nice to know." She scratched her head. "It'd be especially nice to find anything about the removal of Cursed Seals... you know, on a personal basis." She let her collar dip low enough that the seal on her neck became visible to the blond.
The boy looked thoughtful. "I'll try, Eva can be kind of insistent." Then there was a pause, during which he winced a few times, before he opened his mouth again. "She says that she's ripping his experiences out of his mind, and that she'll save some for the Yamanaka to dig through."
And boy wasn't that the greatest relief that she'd ever heard in her entire life?
"Thank you." She told the boy, her head dipping into a deep bow from her place on the ground.
Kakashi whimpered quietly as the ground shook from the explosions coming from the Forest of Death.
He knew that he should've been faster in registering his vacation. He'd known it.
The Third raised a single eyebrow at him.
"That wouldn't be Naruto, ripping apart the entirety of Training Ground 44 right now, would it?" He asked him in a deceptively calm tone.
Kakashi whimpered again, instinctively searching for escape routes that he knew he'd never be able to use because the Hokage was staring at him, before nodding miserably.
"I see..." The man leaned back, lighting his pipe with a simple technique that he'd long since mastered in every shape and form. "It'll be expensive, replacing all those trees..." He mused without a hint of any punishment to come. "I wonder... how much have you saved up, Kakashi-chan?"
Kakashi nearly broke down crying, because he hadn't been called that since he'd become chunin, and it was his first clue that something unimaginably horrible would happen.
"I hear that Academy teachers have a fairly decent salary... but even then... it'd probably take years to pay for all that damage..." The Hokage hummed thoughtfully around his pipe, before again turning to face Kakashi. "For your sake, I do hope that you've saved up a lot more than I suspect. It'd be a shame to see one of our elite jounin stuck for years, babysitting Academy students, wouldn't it?"
Kakashi finally broke down and began sobbing uncontrollably. He'd known. He'd known that allowing Naruto to learn super-powered attacks would be a horrible thing. He'd known.
But he had never imagined that it would be this horrible.
Sasuke had been shocked at learning that his teammate was the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi. He'd been even more shocked at the thought that he was apparently also the Jinchuuriki of some immortal girl called 'Eva' who'd gotten caught in the sealing process.
That, however didn't mean that he couldn't adapt to this new information. For example, he knew that Jinchuuriki was considered Weapons of Mass Destruction, being virtually unstoppable on a battlefield, and adding Naruto to their ranks really helped him with his recent issues with seeing the blond dead-last catching up to him.
It was one thing to lose to an enemy that the dead-last defeated. It was another thing entirely to lose to an opponent that an enraged Jinchuuriki defeated. Which meant that he wasn't hopelessly lagging behind, but rather coming into contact with situation where his teammate's nature was horribly effective; namely, life-and-death struggles.
The Academy was based around a point-system as far as taijutsu was concerned, counting the amount of times you were hit, rather than the actual damage that you took from such a hit, and oriented itself towards low-powered jutsu in an effort to make it somewhat fair towards the civilian-born. All of this meant that when a Jinchuuriki whose greatest skill lay in taking hits without flinching, and causing Mass Destruction... well, suddenly their fights wouldn't be interrupted whenever someone managed to punch them, but only be interrupted when someone actually managed to put them down and force them to stay there, which was insanely hard to do without resorting to extreme violence when Jinchuuriki were involved.
It was basically that Sasuke and his speed-based taijutsu had been perfectly suited for the Academy, whilst Naruto and his endurance had been extremely badly suited for it; and that now that they were out of there, Sasuke was only generally effective in comparison to Naruto's extreme effectiveness of being too stubborn to fall down.
This all meant that Sasuke could breathe a sigh of relief because trying to measure up to Naruto's current rate of apparent growth was stupid, and that he should instead find someone else more 'normal' to measure his current abilities to.
Thus, he'd gone into the chunin exam with an intrigued smile on his face, and a reasonably cheerful outlook on his place in the world.
Of course, when the blast of air blew his teammate away during the second part of the Exam, well, he got a little bit worried.
That worry increased very very rapidly as his suspicions that the Grass-nin wasn't a genin at all began to grow.
Struggling desperately against his opponent seemed to do little, other than perhaps entertain the obviously sadistic non-genin, thus at least keeping Sasuke from getting killed out of boredom.
So he was unimaginably relieved when Naruto arrived and began slinging huge explosions at the non-genin. Because whilst he couldn't deal with some monster just yet, Naruto would've been able to do something at least, even before he'd begun training with those weird ninjutsu that he called 'spells'.
And for once, he could readily admit that he might've worn the same face of shocked awe as Sakura had when the enemy turned into a gigantic white snake, and Naruto simply killed it.
All in all, by the time that he realized that he could spot an Earth Scroll to go with their own Heaven Scroll in the mass of dead still-wriggling snakes, his attitude towards the whole situation could easily be summed up as: "Hn."
"What was that, teme?" Naruto glanced over at him from where he'd been talking to the crazy fishnet-lady that was a proctor.
Sasuke raised the Earth Scroll in response, smirking slightly. "Looks like you didn't burn everything."
Naruto's jaw dropped open, before he started laughing. "Yes! Tower, here we come!"
Iruka, as well as all other ninja present in the Tower when the explosions started, had all been sitting on needles ever since.
First, there'd been an alert stating that a missing-nin – with a high likelihood of it being Orochimaru of the Sannin – had infiltrated the Exam, and that forces were being sent out to contain the damage that he'd be able to cause.
Then someone had begun trying to demolish half of the Forest of Death, using powerful jutsu that none of those currently in the Tower could recall having seen before.
Then it was over, and everything became eerily quiet in the aftermath.
So when, a few hours later, Iruka felt someone activate the Summoning Seal, he was a bit nervous about who could've both braved through the explosions, as well as gained another team's Scroll in such a short amount of time.
Therefore, he was understandably surprised to see Team 7 greeting him happily when he appeared.
Sakura looked tired, dirty, and – except for her broken arm – appeared to be only slightly roughened up. Sasuke looked exhausted, dirty, and whilst he sported a few obvious injuries, didn't seem to be in need of a medic. Naruto looked a bit sleepy through his usual enthusiastic cheerfulness, was splattered from head to toe in gore, and didn't have a single scratch on him.
"N-Naruto! What happened to you?!" Iruka exclaimed, worried that his student might've been horrible traumatized by people dying.
"Snake exploded." Naruto wrinkled his nose, as he glanced down at his gore-drenched clothes. "Should probably have held back more."
Feeling his jaw drop a little at the casualness in the usually boisterous blond, Iruka hurriedly shook it off. "A snake? How could a snake do... that?"
Naruto grinned happily up at him before answering in a voice slightly muddled from sleepiness. "It was really really big."
"I bet the second one was bigger." Sasuke commented, sounding vaguely amused.
Naruto beamed happily at his teammate for praising his abilities, however inadvertently. "Yeah, but that one didn't explode, did it?"
"Thank god for small mercies." Sakura muttered with a shudder. "It was disgusting enough to look at... I do not want that... 'stuff' on my clothes... I'd rather burn them and go naked."
Naruto made a thoughtful noise. "I wonder if that's why Eva-... Oww! Dammit! Quit doing that you loli-grandma! Oww! I said, quit it!" He grabbed his head, wincing oddly as he spoke.
"Don't piss off the voices in your head, dobe. It can't be good for your health." Sasuke commented helpfully, smirking.
"Bite me, teme!" Naruto growled back, eyes still narrowed in pain from whatever had happened when he'd spoken earlier.
All in all, Iruka was hopelessly confused.
The first time Naruto saw Gaara was not in the Tower. The first time he saw Gaara was mixed in with the crowd gathering before the First Exam. The first time he noticed Gaara however, was in the Tower.
His first reaction to actually noticing the sleep-deprived redhead was perhaps kind of obvious in hindsight.
"Why do I have to kill him preemptively? It's your contract, why can't you kill him?" Naruto demanded with a frown.
All surrounding him slowly turned towards the boy who'd just petulantly argued against killing one of them.
Gaara's siblings – with survival instincts honed from being in the homicidal Jinchuuriki's presence – quickly backed away from the boy that was still drenched from head to toe in snake-gore. Not that anyone not on his team really knew that the horrible mess of blood originated from something non-human.
Gaara himself immediately latched onto the fact that this person was talking to himself about killing. No, not talking. Arguing with himself.
Maybe he had a mother who demanded blood too? Perhaps he would validate Gaara's existence?
"Oi, Eva-person. No killing people. We'd get disqualified." Sasuke helpfully pointed out to the creature living within his teammate's seal.
"Should've caught up with him in the Forest and killed him there." Sakura pointed out with a dismissive wave of her hand, the pain-killers she'd received for her broken arm leaving her oddly upbeat about the world.
"See." Naruto smiled brightly as he nodded. "That means that I can't kill him, which means that unless you manage to get the Hokage to sign onto your contract and accept that you're allowed to kill redheads anywhere and anytime, you'll just have to live with him remaining with the living. For now at least."
Kankuro, not having quite as finely honed survival instincts as his sister, and by now hopelessly confused about what was going on, finally decided to interject. "Wait. You want to kill him because he's a redhead?"
Naruto blinked, turning towards him with a confused expression. "Well, honestly I don't care either way, but Eva's going to kick up a fuss if I don't somehow manage to kill off the first redhead we encountered since she managed to write in a clause in her contract saying that she can kill all redhead's preemptively."
The Sand-siblings didn't know what to say about that.
On the one hand, apparently the kid was as insane as Gaara. On the other, he didn't seem ready to slaughter them all in an orgy of blood, despite the gore splattered all over his clothes.
"Whatevs, I'm gonna take a nap." Sakura interrupted the Sand siblings' thought process with a yawn and began moving away, randomly getting distracted by walls that for some reason kept shifting whenever she wasn't paying attention.
The rest of Team 7 hurried after he, lest she went to sleep in a room that wasn't their assigned one.
Gathering in the big hall on the final day of the Exam, a well-rested Team 7 cheerfully greeted the recently arrived rookies. The exhausted-looking rookies who were obviously battling their own disbelief at Team 7 having made it there much faster than they.
Then the Hokage told them that there'd be preliminary matches to decide who'd be allowed to fight in the arena for the final part of the Exam.
As withdrawing from the preliminaries wouldn't affect their teammates a few people decided to back out for various reasons. In most cases, it was because of some manner of injury that they'd sustained during the second part of the Exam.
Sakura didn't back out however, despite her obviously broken arm and the fact that she was still on pain medication. Heck, the fact that she was on pain medication was probably the reason that she didn't bother with such wuss-ass behavior like chickening-out like a doorknob right before the good stuff with explosions.
Sakura on pain medications was... very peculiar... but also hugely entertaining.
Sasuke made a mental note to always carry some manner of pain medication on any mission in the future, as he enjoyed her attitude a lot more when she was too busy being high on those to whine about how Sasuke should 'kiss the pain away' like she'd done on a few previous occasions.
He hated whining.
Naruto, on the other hand, was making a mental note on how if pain medication could make people react like that, it'd probably be really funny to give them to someone as a prank. But, fortunately for Konoha's future health, he'd read the warning labels on the box and knew better than to give it to someone who might react adversely due to: previous medication, pregnancy, allergies, or mental unsoundness – whatever that was. This of course meant that he'd have to first sneak into the hospital and break into the records that were kept there in an effort to minimize the risk of such a thing happening when he pranked them with the pills.
Regardless, none of the rookie genin withdrew from the Exam, and so the preliminaries began.
It was nearly pathetically easy for Sasuke to beat down the older genin, despite how he could apparently absorb chakra. Having a single trick – that wasn't even all that useful – and seemingly relying on it endlessly? That was just a quick route to getting yourself killed.
Naruto also had an easy time of it, much to Kiba's dismay, as even the weakest of Naruto's 'spells' were... violent. Very very violent. And Naruto had never been all that good at holding back, which meant that the first thing he said had been really good advice for the Inuzuka.
"Kiba, dodge like hell, because otherwise, you might seriously die."
Though, admittedly, it'd taken the other genin a bit of time to realize that Naruto hadn't been bragging. A bit of time that nearly took his head off.
Sakura on the other hand...
Sakura not only had a broken arm, but was also slightly disoriented from her behavior-altering pain medication. Ino, on the other hand, had only recently arrived at the Tower, and was still both tired and covered in scratches and bruises.
It was proved a strangely even match, until Ino hit her opponent with a mind-switch jutsu, only to find herself in a drugged body. Apparently, the shock at the contrast between the state of being drugged and not-being-drugged gave an opening for Sakura's mind to fight back.
That Sakura fought back by wobbling over to Ino and kicking her ruthlessly whilst she was still disoriented from returning to her own body, was acknowledged as perhaps a little bit mean but also very much a sign of professionalism.
The ninja-job and the values it imparted on its practitioners was generally considered by civilians as a little bit awkward at times.
It made perfect sense to kick even a kind-of-enemy whilst they were down, since it was a way to make sure that they wouldn't get back up and cause any more trouble.
It was however, considered a bit strange to kick an enemy when they were down whilst cursing about wuss-asses who couldn't take their happy-pills and shouldn't be such buzz-kills.
Sasuke's mental note to carry pain medication for future missions was during this show rapidly climbing in priority. Naruto's mental note of pranking people was shifted slightly as his self-preservation decided to consider his own safety when drugging people.
Of the other Konoha genin, only Shikamaru, Neji – who was an ass – and Shino managed to pass. All three of the Suna genin passed, and only one of the Oto genin.
Naruto was happy to learn that he'd be able to get revenge for Hinata's struggle against her cousin in the upcoming tournament, Sasuke was understandably nervous at the thought of going up against someone who could beat down Rock Lee like that, and Sakura was leaning against a wall and taking a well-deserved nap.
Just because the drugs made her blunt enough that she didn't annoy people with whining, didn't mean that she actually became professional when she was on them.
A/n: Originally, I ran out of juice for this one like 5,000 words in, but then I started writing on it again after god knows how long and well... it was finally completed at a bit over 25,000, so yeah. That escalated.
Anyway, because of this, the mood from the beginning may be a bit different from the mood later on in the series. It's mostly chaos and stupidity.
There will be a second chapter, followed by a final chapter as an epilogue.