Chapter 13: The Calm after the Raging Waters
Author’s Notes: Damn, it doesn’t even feel like a year has passed yet when I look at the last release update I see it has.
On the Seas
The skies above the ocean were calm, azure-blue riddled with patches of white clouds and squalling seagulls. On the small sailing vessel, riding atop the grand ocean between countries, Kushina’s group made towards the Land of Whirlpools. But there was no joy to be found at their homecoming. The atmosphere itself was somber, even as they left the Bloody Mist behind.
Kushina herself stood against the wall of the cabin, looking at the Maiden of the Sea confined to a wheelchair. Tsunade had been clear. Even with chakra to heal and set her bones, it would take time for them to become capable of supporting her body sufficiently again, something about her biology and the extent of the damage being the major factors.
The Kaima Form had saved her life, yes. But it would take longer to heal as a result. She was warned not to do anything strenuous for what could have been months on end. That included swimming, while transforming was outright forbidden and sealed by Kushina.
‘Despite everything that’s happened to me, the thought of not being able to swim again when the ocean is right in front of me hurts more than anything,’ she had told Kushina as they rolled her onto the boat, just before they left.
Those words haunted Kushina. She had been a shinobi for a long time, and she accepted that there were risks. But, damn it, that didn’t make it any easier. More so when she thought about how none of the kids should have been there in the first place.
“They survived,” Tsunade said from behind her. It was as if she read her mind. “She’ll recover if she takes it easy, and the blonde brat came out without a scratch. That’s more than what can be said for a lot of others involved.”
She would know. Her little brother and fiancé had been claimed during war, beyond even her ability to save. The fact that these two went against another Jinchuuriki, children who had yet to reach the age of eighteen, and survived… it spoke much about their circumstances.
They were strong. If they survived to adulthood, they could become great shinobi.
“It still shouldn’t have come to this,” Kushina said. “Looking back when Naruto was born, he shouldn’t have had to become the fox’s vessel when I was there. And Isaribi-chan was turned into a killer because of someone else’s machinations… even the Three-Tails and its host….”
“Which bodes poorly, all things considered,” Tsunade noted. “If the Mizukage could fall so easily, so could the rest. It’s a horrifying thought.”
“In an ideal world things like this wouldn’t happen.” Her voice came out low, wistful even. “A world where children could live their lives without violence, where they never had to live with knowing what it was like to stain their hands in blood, or the fear that someone would snuff their life out so easily.”
In contrast, Tsunade’s voice was somber. “Unfortunately, a world that nice doesn’t exist. No matter how much we wish for it. The only thing we can do is try to prepare them for the worst life has to offer, and hope that the next generation can make it better.”
A bitter, if true statement, Kushina had to admit.
Naruto moved through the motions of what taijutsu he knew, spinning from a back-side kick into a leg sweep. Water chakra seeped out as his leg’s tenketsu, transmuting into water that buffeted his imaginary enemy and knocked them asunder. The water splashed against the surface of the boat, moonlight glistening in it as the chakra slowly eroded and dissipated.
“Couldn’t—” Naruto summoned and flung a kunai on reflex at the abrupt sound, only to realize he was about to kill someone he knew after it left his fingers. Luckily, his godfather caught it and continued speaking as though it never happened.”—sleep, huh?”
Naruto fell onto his knees and assumed a pose of supplication. “I-I’m so sorry!”
“It’s fine this time.” The Sage twirled it between his fingers as he approached his godson. “But you’re going to have to wind down. Had that been your injured friend, it’s very likely you would have killed her.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” he said shamefully. “I know we’ve left the Mist behind, but I can’t manage to get to any sleep. The nightmares won’t stop….”
“Well, let’s talk about it,” Jiraiya said, sitting lotus position in front of him. He set the kunai down between them, acting as a line. “Tell me about this nightmare.”
Naruto shook his head, bringing his hands around to grasp his arms before curling up. “I keep having the same nightmare, where those Hunters got their hands on me again and tortured me. Then I end up in a sea of blood, trying the break the surface. But, before I can, hands come out from beneath me and try to drag me down. The blood is thick, suffocating, but I can see bodies of people I’ve killed dragging me down, while the people I’ve seen killed float around helpless.”
“Hmm…” The Sage sighed, scratching the back of his head. “If I had to make a recommendation, since we’re out of danger for the foreseeable future, have a seal applied to you before going to bed that cuts off your chakra flow, and keep any and all weapons away from you. It’s the standard order given to people who return home after participating in war, so that they don’t accidentally kill their family members. It’s happened more than once in the past, more often with shinobi around your age.”
“I never thought it would be like this,” Naruto admitted. “I never thought… I’ve killed a lot of people in the last few days alone, even more than I did when I was traveling. It’s different than what I thought it would be like in the Academy.”
“How did you see being a shinobi back when you were in the Academy?” Jiraiya asked.
“A hero,” he said. “Someone who people looked up to in the village. The Hokage is the greatest shinobi in the village, and I wanted the same.”
The Sage’s brows crinkled in thought before he spoke. “Do you know why most shinobi are enrolled so young?” When Naruto shook his head, he continued. “It’s because of that belief. Most civilians are blissfully ignorant about the full details of what it entails, especially since we’re in a time of peace. Even then, it’s one thing to know about it and another to experience it first-hand.
“Here’s the thing, Naruto. Shinobi aren’t heroes in the sense you’re thinking. They’re soldiers. It’s not to say that they can’t become heroes, but those seen as such are often heroes of war and they earn that title more often than naught by spilling blood or stopping blood from being spilled. Your father would be the former, while Tsunade would be the latter. ”
Naruto seemed horrified at the mention. He had thought the Fourth was a hero and a loving parent from what his Mother told him. Then again, who was he to argue? He left a trail of corpses behind in the Mist and the bloodline woman had told him that it was thanks to him them the country could start fresh. Did that make him a hero in the same vein?
“Sad to say, this is one of the best case scenarios,” Jiraiya continued. “Your mother gave you a choice on whether or not to participate in the last fight. Because you made the choice yourself, you’ll know exactly why you did it and know that it was because you thought it was the best option at the time. Normally most enlisted don’t get that option. Typically, the commanding shinobi issues a command to strike and you obey. That’s when things get tricky.”
“What do you mean?” Naruto asked.
“It starts out hard the first time,” he explained. “At first it’s a usually a choice between whether you want to live or die, have someone under your care live or die, or whether you disobey a command from your superior. In most villages, especially during times of war, disobeying the commander can mean being executed, so that brings you back to the first case. After that, it’s about preserving your life in the battlefield—kill or be killed.”
The Sage looked out to the sea, dotted with rays from the moonlight that gleamed off the dark surface. “When the conflict ends, you receive counseling from either a jounin or specialist to help you rationalize it, turning an act of self-preservation into an act of loyalty to the village and keeping your loved ones safe. Those that can cope remain in active duty, those that can’t usually go into the reserve unit where their clearance and training won’t go to waste. Retiring prematurely is a frowned upon and results in being dishonorably discharged by having your chakra network sealed off and seals are applied to prevent secrets from being leaked. The only time it is truly acceptable is if you’ve had at least ten years of loyal service or suffered a career-ending injury in the line of duty.”
Naruto frowned at the thought of the Old Man doing something like that. “Does that apply to our village as well?”
Jiraiya nodded without hesitation. “Remember, our villages came about during times of war that make what you went through relatively tame. Don’t get me wrong, war is war no matter the era, but at least on the battlefield you can see the enemies in front of you.”
“It’ll never end,” Naruto realized.
Jiraiya, surprisingly, shook his head. “Little-by-little, things are improving. In our generation, Tsunade came up with the concept of having a medic on a squad and other nations adopted similar tactics, reducing the body count. Your father helped end the war sooner by keeping Kumo’s Jinchuuriki in check, which bought the current era of peace alongside countless others. One day, maybe we’ll grow past the need for war entirely.”
“…Maybe,” Naruto agreed, after a pause.
Jiraiya reached into his pocket for a small scroll and unraveled it, revealing it to be a sealing scroll. He withdrew an ink pot and sealing paper and drew on it. “In the meantime, drink some lavender tea to relax and then press this against your chest as you sleep, just beneath your shirt.”
He took the seal without a word.
At the Hidden Mist
The mist felt cool against Haku’s skin as he stood in front of a specific grave, erected hastily but crafted delicately out of solid stone. It was Villa’s cenotaph. How bitter it was that such a simple thing could encompass how short her life had been. Or the fact that there was a number more lining both sides, all people killed for reasons beyond their control and a belief stemming from difference of power.
He didn’t stir when he heard footsteps approaching, soft and calculated. Instead, he remained where he was as the newly-instated Mizukage placed flowers on the grave. Haku had only known the child for so long and felt the weight of her death, so he imagined the pain she felt was as heavy and deep as the depths of the ocean.
“…Kushina contacted me,” Mei said after a moment of silence, breaking the somber quiet. “They made it back to their home. That girl will recover too, in time. It’ll take a few months, but she’ll be able to walk again. I thought you should know.”
“It’s good news,” he said. “Thank you, Ma’am.”
Mei shifted the topic with that. “About my previous offer, have you given it some thought?”
He looked down to the mask she held out with both hands, as though it was an offering. It was similar to the one had worn when masquerading as a Hunter-nin native to their country.
“If you want to say no, I won’t blame you,” she told him. “You’ve done more than your share of fighting, and I’ll always be grateful for you and the others help in stopping Yagura. But I won’t lie when I say that your help would be immensely welcomed. There are so few bloodline users left, let alone those as capable as you are.”
“What rank would I be?” he asked.
“Officially, you’d be a Special Jounin. Zabuza himself felt that it was more appropriate. Unofficially, when the mask is on, you’ll be a Hunter-nin that reports directly to me. There are still rogues out there that need to be taken care of before we can lift the bloody mist covering our lands, and I want it cleaned up fast enough to host the Chuunin Exams in a few months. ”
“Are we really in any position to host it?”
“I plan on making a petition to do so,” she said. “I believe Sand is where it should be hosted this year, but they’ve recently gone through a bit of crisis not unlike our own. I have no doubt that word will get around that we’ve just been through a civil war, and people use the exams as an excuse to personally look into it and learn whether or not we’re vulnerable for a strike.”
It took Haku only a moment to realize where she was going. “But if you’re hosting the exams you can show that our country isn’t divided anymore, that we’re strong, and the exams are a substitute for war to do exactly that.”
She nodded. “The contracts from a good showing will ensure work, and any spies will be subsequently eliminated to send a message and weaken others in turn by taking away their assets. I’ll also be getting in touch with some very important figures from Konoha to talk an arrangement, in secret of course.”
Haku took a deep breath. He never liked the role he had been played, or death and violence. But… but he was needed. More blood would need to be spilled to clear away what was already there. At least for a little while longer.
He took the mask and slipped it on, hiding his face behind its smooth surface. “What do you need me to do first?”
Within a training field in the Hidden Leaf village, the group of Genin continued their collaborative training efforts on behalf of their Jounin instructors. The Chuunin Exam promotions had been canceled, for lack of a better term. There was too much interference for it to have been judged fairly, and they were supposedly still sorting things out. That meant they’d have to excel during the next exams if they wanted to bump their ranks up, barring a private promotion.
It didn’t personally matter to Sasuke, who was held his new sword in a reverse grip. Rank or no rank, he had to be stronger than he was now. Stronger than his brother. Tongues electricity streamed along the edge of his blade in branching forks that seemed to taint the air around him with the scent of ozone.
The sounds of crashing earth and ragged snarls reminded him that he was not alone and drew his eyes towards the others. Some of them were training harder than others. Kiba, for example, was sparring with his transformed hound, Akamaru. Their bodies spun like drills and crashed into each other before being rebuffed and then careening off to the side, only to come around again. Which one was the man and which one was the beast only became harder to tell as they both ended up snarling in the same manner.
Neji was practicing his family’s fighting style against an anatomically correct training dummy, while his cousin Hinata was chatting with some girl that their sensei had brought along, Yakumo something or other. That Tenten girl was experimenting with some kind of weapon that had a seal impressed in the metal, and Rock Lee was… well, being Rock Lee.
Sai was drawing something on a scroll, while saying something that aggravated Sakura into clenching her fist. Sasuke wasn’t really listening over the crackle of his sword. Then the pale boy looked up and smiled with a fake smile, only aggravating her further until the quiet Aburame held her back from trying to hit him.
Sasuke shifted back into his stance and went through the motions of swinging his sword at an opponent. He couldn’t use his brother for image-training, at least not appropriately. He hadn’t seen him fight in years, and he would only be setting himself up for failure when that day did come and his brother moved differently. Instead, he went a single notch above his skill set and pictured Naruto.
He stiffed at the thought that Naruto, the Dead Last of the class, had gotten stronger than him. Despite being on the run and without a village backing him, even accounting for the demon fox that sat inside of his stomach, he was stronger than him. It rankled him from a point of pride and practicality, but his head snapped up when he heard Kakashi dully clapping his hands together to grab their attention.
“Everyone, fall in at the center of the field,” he said as he drew a line in the ground with his foot. “We have a guest here today who’ll be helping you with your training, which will be to avoid getting knocked out or thrown past this line.”
As Team 7, Team 8, and Team Gai stood at attention, an elderly man with grey hair wrapped in a short ponytail approached. He wore a mesh armor shirt beneath a short, tanned sleeveless kimono with worn grey pants. And… was that a giant wok on his back, with a ladle of all things?
“Good afternoon,” he said, dabbing his forehead with a damp cloth. “I’ve been wanting to meet the youngsters of the last generation. Let’s get along for now.”
“This is Kosuke Maruboshi, also known as the Eternal Genin because he’s held the rank for the last fifty or so years. He’ll be your sparring partner for the next…” Kakashi trailed off, looking over his shoulder to Kurenai and Gai. “How long do you think they’ll last? I’m thinking about five minutes.”
“I must agree with my eternal rival on that assessment,” Gai added.
Kurenai gave him a sharp look, as if saying he should have more faith in them. “Ten minutes.”
Kakashi turned back to the other Genin and tilted his hand back and forth. “Ehh, we’ll call it seven minutes. If you last that long, we’ll go and get steak on my dime—the good stuff.”
“Sweet!” Kiba grinned as the older man approached. Sasuke could see it on his face what was going through his mind: an old guy the same rank as them wouldn’t stand a chance if they went all out at once. He crouched down and made a hand seal. “Let’s settle this in a single blow, Akamaru!”
The transformed hound mirrored his partner and chakra surged through their muscles and skin, strengthening them to withstand the intense rotations as they lunged forward and spun. Twin drills cut through the air and in an arch, centering on the old man. “Fang Over Fang!”
The old man reached back for his wok, chakra-streaming what looked to be earth-chakra into it, and then swung it left and right, hitting them both with a loud, gong-like sound that rang out both times as it vibrated in his hands. The two spinning drills jerked off their path and careened into the dirt next to him, throwing a spray of stone and earth as they carved a long scar into the ground before coming to a stop more than thirty feet away.
“You shouldn’t be so hasty and headstrong,” said the old—Maruboshi as he continued to wipe his forehead with a damp cloth. “Inuzuka are meant to work in tandem with their allies, blindsiding the enemy while their distracted. Also, you’ll need to tighten your rotations per second to be able to penetrate the most basic of earth-chakra enhanced items.”
“Ugh… Old Dude’s got moves…” Kiba wheezed, accompanied by a whine from Akamaru as they both remained splayed on the ground. The rest decided to take him a bit more seriously after that, slipping into fighting stances.
Sasuke activated his Sharingan just in time to see as the old man change the battlefield. Almost instantly he stomped his foot on the ground and spread his earth-chakra through it in a wave, creating a large cavity beneath the surface barring a single column just below him.
Sasuke jumped away from the area before nature took its course and the cavity filled itself by collapsing the ground above. The rest followed with the exception of Kiba and Akamaru, both still dizzy from the impact and crash. Unable to leap away, the pair fell down with a cry and bark, heavy stones around them getting ready to collapse on top of them while they were defenseless.
Hinata rushed to catch the falling pair alongside her teammate, the Aburame. Sasuke saw the chakra looping around them like a lasso, connecting them to the older man, and tried to warn them. But the warning came too late as the Inuzuka pair was displaced by the Substitution technique and the old man was in front of them with the wok chambered. The hit that came was hard enough that it sent Hinata, who had raised her hands in defense, into the quiet Aburame and then them both flying off. They both flipped over, looking like they would recover and plant their feet on the ground, but he spat out a Water Bullet that caught them in the abdomen and pushed them out of bounds.
Sakura winced next to Sai as he took to the air almost immediately on an ink drawing come to life, his brush working on another masterpiece to join in the fray. That ended when the old man made a few hand signs and pulled a Water Dragon Bullet out of thin air. Seriously, that was some bullshit considering he watched Kakashi go through forty-something seals to get that same result while standing on a ton of water.
The dragon actually roared, lunged, and then swallowed the ink-user and his creation whole. Sasuke could see him inside of its elongated body as the dragon circled around for more. “Move!”
Sakura did as told, leaping out of the way as it came around for the two of them. It missed them, but Kiba and Akamaru weren’t so lucky as it continued on. Even though they recovered enough to stand, they couldn’t move fast enough to avoid it taking them in as well.
The dragon surged past the boundary line before dispersing, depositing the three out of the combat area. Just like that, they were down by five in less than a minute. And he still wasn’t done, flinging a shuriken towards Team Gai and making hand seals.
The one shuriken became one-hundred, all launching towards to them. Tenten unleashed a load of condensed charka to bat aside the ones aiming towards her, Neji released chakra from all his tenketsu and spun around to deflect them, and Rock Lee jumped into the air to go over them all.
The old man targeted Tenten first, appearing next to her in a Body Flicker and tossing her in a swift motion towards Neji, who was still spinning. Hitting the Kaiten would be like hitting a spinning wheel, tearing flesh from bone and sending her askew with several injuries she wouldn’t recover from easily. Neji had no choice but to drop it to avoid hurting her and the old man made him pay for it.
A quick Water Wall technique leapt from his mouth, creating a raging torrent of water that bowled both Tenten and Neji over. She managed to plant her weapon in the ground and held onto it for dear life to remain fixed in place, but it washed Neji away until he was soaked and past the line as well. That was six down.
Rock Lee made himself known again, coming down from his aerial jump with a fist chambered. Maruboshi dodged as the ground beneath him was destroyed in a cloud of dirt and dust with a punch. The Green Beast of Konoha broke through the cloud while rotating, allowing the spinning kick to carry him forward through the motions.
Just as it looked like the kick would land home, Maruboshi sank into the ground as the earth parted beneath his feet from the Hiding like a Mole technique. No sooner than Rock Lee planted both feet on the ground to move again did a pair of hands pop out and pulled him under as the ground softened to swallow him and then hardened again, leaving only his head sticking out.
“This will not hold me—” His words were cut off when the old man tossed an egg that had been hollowed out in his face and the powder inside covered it. The moment Rock Lee breathed it in, he fell unconscious. Must’ve been sleeping powder.
He then turned to Tenten, who didn’t dare use that chakra technique against him while Rock Lee’s head was in the firing line, and drew his Tanto. He began to wave it around and the number of blades increased. It was an illusion from what Sasuke could see, woven from Yin Chakra that wreathed the weapon to copy its image and then spread out into a web of nodes, marking where each illusionary copy would appear.
The feints left her with small cuts amassing from where he landed his strikes, avoiding any major damage but showing. He was fast for a man of his age. The moment Tenten tried to leap back, flinging kunai to get some breathing room, the projectiles hit a log and he hit her from behind with an absolutely brutal kick angled to send here their way.
Sasuke dodged, leaving her for Sakura to catch while he rushed in with sword in hand. Lightning crackled along the edge as he swung it, combining it with kicks and rotations. The old man avoided them for the most part, but he was slowing down. It was only a matter of time.
At least that was what he thought until Maruboshi hooked the tanto’s blade down behind the butt of his sword, preventing Sasuke from pulling back and avoiding the lightning focused on the blade. Sasuke moved to kick him away, but his other hand came up and threw dirt into his eyes.
Blinded and in pain, he lashed out only to be caught square in the cheek. Judging from the smooth metal and the gong-like sound that grew distant as he flew, he assumed it was the wok. Then he came down to earth, feeling the coarse ground grinding against his stomach and chest as he came to a skidding stop.
“Cheap… shot…” he murmured, trying to rise onto to his feet as he wiped at his eyes furiously. A blast of water caught him in the face, gagging him momentarily but clearing out the dirt so he could open his eyes again. He was over the line.
Sakura and Tenten followed not even three seconds later.
“And… that’s three minutes.” Kakashi noted, looking at a stopwatch he pulled out of his pouch. “Okay, so what did we all learn today?”
“I believe ‘Fear the Elderly’ would be appropriate,” Sai said. Kiba, Rock Lee, and even Shino agreed with nods of their heads.
Kakashi also nodded his head slightly. “True, but the correct answer would be not to underestimate someone based on their rank. Maruboshi here has served under virtually every Hokage since the Second, who was renowned for his mastery of water techniques among other things, making him one of the most experienced shinobi in the village.”
“Why the hell is he a Genin then?” Kiba asked. It was a reasonable question.
“Penitence,” the old man said. “I was arrogant when I was younger, and it cost my teammates their lives. I didn’t feel that a promotion was something I was worthy of, but the Second insisted that I continued to improve my skills. Not bad for an old timer who’s missing a foot, right?”
“In short, rank does not determine one’s abilities,” Kurenai said as she helped her students up, knowing the shame they must’ve felt at being dismissed first from the fight. “So even if you don’t pass the next exam, that doesn’t mean you’re less than the effort you put in towards your training.”
“That is correct!” Gai chimed in, Rock Lee slung over his shoulder and still unconscious. “Perhaps you can give them some advice so that the flames of their youth will burn brighter the next time?”
Maruboshi scratched his chin in thought. “Teamwork would be the key here for them all,” he noted. “The young Uchiha spotted my first technique before it had gone off. Had he warned them they would have moved fast enough that perhaps they could have saved the Inuzuka pair. The second mistake was going to retrieve them once the technique was finished and leaving themselves open for me to eliminate them as well.”
“But we’re taught to protect our comrades,” Hinata said. Shino nodded.
“And I capitalized on it,” he pointed out. “Mind you, had the young Inuzuka not rushed in so headstrong they wouldn’t have ended up in that situation, but this was sparring practice so I wouldn’t have permanently harmed them.”
He pointed to Sai, Kiba, and Neji next. “After the more troublesome ones were eliminated, I took out the one who could add to their numbers with his drawings to keep reinforcements from arriving, the other two while they were weak and vulnerable, and utilized the risk of friendly fire to eliminate the one whose defenses would be the most difficult.”
“…an understandable means of battling superior opponents,” Neji reluctantly admitted.
“The rest were orthodox in execution,” he finished, looking at Tenten. “Your focus on weapons is admirable. They’re practical and efficient, focusing on substance rather than flash without being chakra-intensive. But you relied too much on the seal imbued on it to store and release it as a weapon. Such a thing should be reserved as a fatal blow or a surprise, not an impromptu shield.”
“You didn’t exactly leave me with that opportunity,” she pointed out. “And you were already aware of it after that and had Lee in the range of fire, so I couldn’t surprise you with it.”
“That’s what illusions are for,” he said, nodding his head towards Kurenai and the Yakumo girl. “If you’re going to collaborate for group training then you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help in learning a method to get over those weaknesses. Those two are proficient enough with yin-chakra and illusions that they could teach you something similar to my own technique.”
Last he faced Sasuke, who tensed. “Well?”
“The Uchiha are a well-known bloodline with well-noted weaknesses,” he immediately pointed out. “No one who sees those eyes or hears your last name will risk facing you alone unless they have a plan, have no other choice, or are overconfident. I chose the former approach, but in a two-on-one fight or against someone capable of creating solid clones, you’ll be at a disadvantage at best. You need to work on your teamwork skills, understand?”
“Yes,” Sasuke said. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
He nodded his head and then turned to Jounin. “Is that good enough?”
“Yes. I believe the lesson will stick.”
Kiba raised his hand. “So, do we not get that steak or what?”
Kakashi rubbed the back of his head. “Well, you didn’t last very long, so…”
Maruboshi laughed. “How about I whip up something? A wok is made for cooking after all, and you pick up a lot of skills when you’ve been around as long as I have.”
As it turned out, he was a very capable cook too, Sasuke grudgingly admitted. Even as he coped with the shame of being beaten by a wok. It could have been worse, after all.
It could have been the ladle.
Notes: Okay, just a breather chapter after the last arc ended. More to come eventually, looking at things in Suna. And yes, Kosuke is filler, but he’s the good kind that can be exploited for a story.
Hinata: The Fallen Princess
Author’s Notes: Revised as of 1/2/15
After I was attacked and Naruto-kun left, Iruka-sensei applied first aid and took me to the hospital. It had been a full day since then, and my father had not even visited me once. In his stead, Hokage-sama himself came and told me about Naruto-kun being something called a “Jinchuuriki” and how he was housing the chakra demon that attacked the village long ago.
He said he explained it to everyone who was there and told them not to let it ruined their opinions about him, and then he thanked me for protecting Naruto-kun and personally escorted me home when I was discharged from the hospital.
My father would not speak to me nor see me, only having someone relate a message that I was to report to my assigned team the next day.
The Next Day – Training Ground 18
“Okay then,” a masked jounin named Kakashi-sensei said, while reading an orange covered book. “Since the teams are here and we’ve all introduced each other. We’ll take a few minutes before we begin your warm ups for this joint-exercise.”
Three teams had gathered, including the one I was on. Under Kakashi-sensei were Sasuke-san, Sakura-san, and a rather pale boy named Sai-san. Asuma-sensei had Ino-san, Chouji-san, and Shikamaru-san. Kurenai-sensei was teaching Kiba-kun, Shino-kun, and I.
We began routine exercise and tactical maneuvers to come and understand our allies’ capabilities. Unfortunately, due to clashing personalities, Kurenai-sensei had to restrain Kiba-kun from attempting to maim Sai-san, while Asuma-sensei and Kakashi-sensei had to try to pull Sakura-san and Ino-san off each other’s hair. Sasuke-san just muttered something inappropriate about his teammates, when Kakashi-sensei shook his head.
“It’s a shame Naruto-kun couldn’t have been on the team,” he sighed. “He would’ve at least made things more balanced. Not that you aren’t alright, Sai-kun, I just wasn’t expecting you…and your odd nicknames… ”
The pale boy only smiled.
“I don’t see why,” Sakura-san said. “Like he could do anything other than play pranks and other stupid stuff. I don’t see how he even became a genin since he didn’t pass the final exam.”
I felt a bit angry. Considering how Naruto-kun fawned over her all the time to the point I was a bit jealous, and now she was insulting him. I had to say something. “T-they w-wouldn’t have g-given N-naruto-kun his f-f-forehead protector if he w-wasn’t ready, Sakura-san… ”
“That’s right,” Kakashi-sensei nodded. “I even have a feeling that he and Sasuke-kun could have been rivals… as long as it didn’t go too far… ”
“Please,” she rolled her eyes, finally free of Ino-san. “He got the lowest scores in the history of the Academy and they probably had to give him some kind of remedial class, while Sasuke-kun is the genin of the year.”
Despite my facial expression not changing, I actually was starting to harbor intent to harm her. Still, I had to keep calm, so I took a deep breath. “N-naruto-kun tried v-v-very hard and w-wasn’t nearly as i-i-ignorant as you think.”
“Uh, Sakura-chan…” Kakashi-sensei started in a slightly worried tone, a few drops of sweat on his forehead.
“No offense, but you’re the only one who thinks that, and everyone knows that it was because you had a crush on the de—” the pink-haired harlot never finished her sentence.
Instead she was on the ground, clutching her stomach from where my Gentle Fist strike had disrupted her chakra flow. Everyone looked at me with their eyes wide and in disbelief.
“Naruto-kun was always nice to you no matter how much you kept abusing him! If you tried that on anyone else they would’ve fought back! You have no idea the kind of things he went through while you were too busy taking care of your stupid hair and fawning over Sasuke-san, and you have the nerve to call him that!”
I didn’t stutter that time. My anger overtook my confidence issues.
Kurenai-sensei appeared behind me and held me out of fear that I was going to hit her again with another strike. I can honestly say the thought crossed my mind, and I was struggling to get another shot in. “Hinata, calm down…” she whispered in my ear.
“Ugh…” the shrew moaned. “How are you any better? You said you know what the idiot went through, then why didn’t you do something before then?”
“Okay,” Kakashi-sensei closed his book. “Hinata-chan, I’m assuming you didn’t do anything permanent to my student, right?” I nodded my head. “Then I’ll leave your punishment to Kurenai, as for you Sakura, well…I can’t say she’s wrong.”
Now they were looking at him.
“If you must know, the only reason you passed the test was because I tied Sasuke-kun up for arrogantly trying to attack without a plan and you would jump through fire for him. Sai-kun was the only one who used his head and thought things through, but he followed my instructions too thoroughly and left himself very little breathing room. I intended to train all of you to address your shortcomings, but…” he trailed off.
Kurenai-sensei spoke up now. “While I will have to inform her family of this, we shouldn’t have to say that the Hokage told all of you that the child was not the chakra demon, but the one imprisoning it. Considering you were about to say demon instead of Jinchuuriki, I’m assuming you heard from some of the more… outspoken village members. Despite the time all of you genin spent with the boy in the Academy, and the most he did was a few pranks, you should know better.”
“I couldn’t have put it as elegantly that,” Kakashi-sensei nodded. “I should remind you all that my sensei lost his life to save this village by making Naruto a Jinchuuriki. His final wish was that Naruto could grow up without being feared because of it, so the Hokage made the law that those who revealed it to your generation were punished with death.”
Asuma-sensei said his piece as well. “Instead, they made the boy’s life a living hell considering the information the Hokage and Inoichi-san retrieved from the ones who attacked him. Apparently they were repeat offenders since before he entered the Academy, and sick enough to the point where after he endured everything and went on with his life, they decided to actually kill him in broad daylight since he became a shinobi. The fact that we’ve uncovered that a great portion of the village’s adults were torturing and abusing a child is bad enough.”
Kakashi-sensei looked down at Sakura-san. “But for someone who would’ve been his ally and age to treat him like that because of what their parents, and other adults, told them is even worse. To call the boy a demon is the same as insulting my own sensei. Once you are fit enough to train, you will be doing three times as much as everyone for the next month. As for the rest of you, this is your only warning, understood?”
I shivered, as I felt what could only be described as killing intent radiating from Kakashi-sensei. All of the genin, including myself nodded in agreement.
That Night – Inside The Hyuuga Council Room
“Hinata Hyuuga,” my father said in an authoritative tone. “Do you know why we’ve convened this meeting?”
“B-because of m-my actions t-t-today, at the joint training e-exercise?”
“According to Kurenai-san, you lashed out after being told of certain set of words,” he followed up. “Despite you not having enough self-control to not attack the girl, I see you had enough restraint to do no permanent harm.”
“Because she merely told you that the demon had taken hold, you attacked her,” a man roughly my father’s age pointed out. “We’ve heard about what happened, the demon became aggressive and attacked.”
“Naruto-kun did it to save me!” I snapped at the man, my heart skipping a beat. It was safe to say he didn’t expect it since he nearly fell back out of his chair. “He even told Iruka-sensei to take care of me before he left!”
My father looked at me sternly. “Then it is because of you that the boy’s identity was exposed. Taking out your aggression on others because of your short comings is beneath you as a Hyuuga.”
I felt my lips trembling, so I bit them before shaking my head and looking back at my father. “I-I will not d-deny that it was b-b-because of me that h-he was exposed, which is why I t-t-took steps to ensure that his name was not slandered by t-t-that… that pink-haired fangirl.”
“The men who attacked were all chuunin, even if intoxicated,” my father glared at me with expectant eyes. “Why did you even interfere instead of allowing for the ANBU to arrive?”
“N-n-naruto-kun would h-h-have died. O-out of all the teachers at the Academy, only Iruka-sensei w-w-was actually t-trying to protect him. N-no one else w-was willing t-to even t-t-try.”
“The demon had long since possessed the boy,” one of the elder women spat. “He ceased to be human the moment it took hold of him. It is but a demon that should’ve been hunted down like the fox it is!”
“He is not the demon,” I said, glaring at the woman. “As Hokage-sama said when he personally visited me, he’s the one who prevented it from escaping until now. I’ve seen what he’s gone through every day and if Naruto-kun was the demon you claimed him to be, the number of casualties in this village would have sky-rocketed, and he would have been justified in doing so!”
“Still your tongue child,” the woman bit back. “Heiress or not, you are a member of the Hyuuga clan and expected to behave as such. Your foolish, one-sided affections for the demon aside. If necessary, we shall place the seal on you and remove you from the main family.”
The next few sentences left my mouth before I could think things through. “Then do it! Everyone is always saying I’m not suited and that I’m a failure not worthy of the title of heiress anyway, but don’t you dare call him a demon!”
Everyone’s mouth dropped once the words came out of my mouth. Including my father’s.
“Y-you—” the woman was choking on her words in anger, instinctively activating her Byakugan.
“Enough!” my father said sternly. He stood and nodded to two members of the branch family acting as guards. “Escort her to her room.”
As they led me out, I heard the council explode before the doors shut.
In the early morning, I awoke to a light knock on my door and my father came into the room with a stoic face that showed no emotion, but seemingly had bags under his eyes. “Hinata, you have said things that have angered many people and you have left me no choice… ”
He motioned for two of the branch family women to come into my room. “Hinata Hyuuga, you are officially exiled from the Hyuuga Clan. These two will help you pack your things and will provide you with storage scrolls to place your personal belongings in.”
Father left after that, never once looking back.
In shock, I could barely function. The two women, whose names were Miyako-san and Marumi-san, watched over me when I was younger. They helped me pack my things with somber looks on their faces and escorted me beyond the compound walls.
I don’t remember much after that, except that I was walking through the village without anything in mind…
“Hey, brat—” when a purple-haired woman, wearing a full-mesh body suit, orange mini-skirt, and tan overcoat called from behind me, her face was peeking over the side of the numerous grocery bags in her hands that went up to her head, two of which were about to fall over. “—a little help here!”
“S-sure,” I said, grabbing some of the bags. They were heavier than I expected and I almost fell over. “U-um, w-w-what is this e-exactly… um… ”
“The name’s Anko, kid. I’m a 21 year old special jounin, and what you’re holding is a week’s supply of beer until I can go to my usual bar again. Honestly, you stick a kunai in a guy’s hand for grabbing your ass and they…” she trailed off.
With nothing else to do and nowhere to go, I followed Anko-san without putting much thought into it. The bags were so heavy though, I had to stop occasionally to readjust them. Anko-san rolled her eyes.
“Relax, we’re at my apartment now,” she told me. We walked up a flight of stairs and entered a modest-sized room. “Place the bags on the table.”
I complied, carefully maneuvering around the cans of alcohol and articles of clothing that littered the floor, before placing the bags on the table and sighed. Anko-san crept up behind me and placed something cold on my cheek, causing me to shriek.
“Heheh… calm down girl, it’s a gift,” she handed me one of the alcoholic beverages. “You’re a genin, right? You can drink once you reach that rank, our lives to simply too short for anyone to complain about it.”
“T-t-thank y-you…” I told her and bowed. She sat at the table and leaned back in her chair, stretching, before popping open one of the cans.
“So you’re Hiashi’s oldest girl? I heard you tore you clan’s council a new one last night,” she chuckled. “They did something rash in retaliation, right?”
“H-h-how d-did y-y-you k-know?” I stuttered more than usual.
“One of the council members got drunk and loose-lipped, being a lightweight and all, at the bar that I got kicked out of last night. He then muttered something about your father leaving the compound alone, probably to fume… then he got handsy, I got stabby, and here we are.”
“Don’t be, you were defending that boy who went missing, right?” I looked at her in shock. “It isn’t the most well-kept secret that you stalked the boy. I’ve gotta give you props for defending your man.”
“H-he’s n-n-not m-m-my…” I couldn’t finish saying it. “D-despite how I f-f-feel about h-him, it’s j-j-just one-sided… b-b-but how they t-t-treated him…” I trailed off.
“I know where you’re both coming from. There was someone I admired to the point of basically being a fangirl, and I’m not exactly the most well-liked person in the village. I suffered a bit of went he went through… until I introduced many of them to the sharp end of a kunai and my babies’ fangs. They got the message eventually.”
“B-but N-naruto-kun would n-never do t-t-that,” I said. She just chuckled and proceeded to drink her entire can in a few seconds.
“That’s why they got away with it…” she sighed.”The details are still coming in, but members of the interrogation unit have been running ragged lately hauling in people who did something to the kid. We interrogate one person, they gave up two, we interrogate those two, and they gave up six more. It just built up to the point where it was clear the boy was hated by so damn many people we couldn’t arrest them all, so most got off with fines and a few who beat on the boy were sent to Ibiki and me for a good, long session… in the end, only a handful were punished like they should’ve been.”
“… Is there still no sign of him?” I asked without stuttering this time.
“No. All shinobi who were actively searching for him were rounded up the day after he snapped and said they lost his trail. There were too many scents and even though they were informed he could use shadow clones, they didn’t know he could make that many…although I suspect a couple of pricks enjoyed stabbing the pseudo-copies of the boy.”
She closed her eyes. “Honestly, he probably won’t be coming back here. There’s a small chance he might, but if he does it won’t be under good conditions given what we’ve learned he’s went through. Either he’ll be dragged back screaming and tagged by ANBU, a corpse, or go on a killing-spree.”
“If only…” tears began falling from my eyes.”If I had done something… ”
“Everyone turned a blind-eye or were stretched too thin to help like the old man and Iruka.”
“But I couldn’t do anything in the past and now he’s gone…” I held my hands over my eyes and cried. “I was too weak and scared to help him… ”
“The past is the past. We all make mistakes. The only thing you can do is learn from them and go forward. But for your own sake you need to address one of your biggest problems.”
“W-w-what is t-t-that?” I asked.
“You’re obsessed with him,” she pointed to me. “You’re placing the boy on a pedestal and dancing around it. Not once did I hear the words that you wanted to be stronger. Instead, it was all about being too weak to help him. How can you help someone else if you can’t help yourself?”
I honestly wanted to say something, but I couldn’t deny her words. “Listen, you’re mad and feeling guilty about what happened to the kid. It’s alright to be concerned about things, but if you go too far and keep obsessing about him, you’ll be no better than a fangirl who would slit her own throat the moment he died because you didn’t train enough to defend him.”
There was a knock on the door and Anko-san walked over to answer it. Someone in a mask handed her a message and vanished with a regular body flicker jutsu. She quickly skimmed the letter.
“Ah,” she crushed the can in her hand and sighed before burning the letter. “I just received a summons to the Hokage’s office. I hope it’s not about last night… You can stay here as long as you like. I don’t have company over often.”
And with that she was gone.
Despite Anko-san’s generous offer, I left a few minutes later. There was some place I wanted to go, in order to think about what to do. Eventually I came to a certain training ground.
It was the training ground that Naruto came to in order to practice in secret before he became a genin. He worked so hard here to be accepted, hoping to become the Hokage. While I just watched him from the shadows, never saying or doing anything…
“How are you any better? You said you know what the idiot went through, then why didn’t you do something before then?”
Sakura-san had a point. I really wasn’t any better than she was then. She worships the ground Sasuke-san walked on, and I was doing the same for Naruto-kun. If the roles were reversed, we would have swapped places.
I was just as shallow as she was. I was always told by the elders not to interact with Naruto-kun. I was too shy to say anything to him or speak up about the attacks, and in the end…
“Then it is because of you that the boy’s identity was exposed. Taking out your aggression on others because of your short comings is beneath you as a Hyuuga.”
Father had a point as well. Hyuuga or not, I shouldn’t have attacked her. But whenever someone calls him a demon, I just snap. They just say those things without knowing what he’s been through…
“You’re obsessed with him. You’re placing the boy on a pedestal and dancing around it. Not once did I hear the words that you wanted to be stronger. Instead, it was all about being too weak to help him. How can you help someone else if you can’t help yourself?”
… I… didn’t even try to get stronger. I was only focusing on being weaker… All those hours I watched him train, I could’ve been working alongside him… and because of that, he accessed the Kyuubi’s power when I got hurt…
I stayed there and cried for the rest of the day.
I heard a twig snap and promptly activated my bloodline… it was all that saved me from getting a kunai in the back of my head.
“Come out!” I yelled, pulling out a kunai, and two masked shinobi appeared. Focusing my sight on penetrating their masks, it revealed two faces that I had known all my life. My kunai fell from my slacked grip, and my eyes went wide. Burning streams of tears rolled off my cheeks, as I fell to my knees.
“Miyako-san… Marumi-san… why?” I asked.
Neither one responded with words. Instead, they both let a single tear fall from their eyes before Marumi-san took out another kunai and threw it at me. It felt like time had slowed down.
“Don’t just sit there!” a familiar voice cried, as another kunai intercepted the one in front of me and sent them both tumbling to the ground. Landing in crouch, the special jounin wearing a tan overcoat was in front of me. “Freeze up and you’ll die!”
The two women I knew since childhood split up and started throwing kunai and shuriken at me. Still in shock, I couldn’t move. So Anko-san grabbed me, and tossed me behind a tree, before pulling out eight kunai, a finger in each ring on the pommel and threw them in spread pattern to intercept the incoming ones.
They both then rushed in towards her.
“Gentle Fist isn’t very effective in mid-ranged combat, is it?” she smirked, making the snake, ram, boar, horse, monkey, and tiger hand seals, before cupping one of her hands near her mouth. “Fire Style: Great Fireball!”
A scorching ball of flames, as tall as she was and three times as wide, flew towards Marumi-san, forcing her stop her charge and dodge once the flames spread out in an explosion on impact with the ground. Miyako-san, however, closed the distance between them.
“You are in range of my divination,” Miyako-san muttered, while in the position for the 8 trigrams 32 palms. Anko-san smiled, having finished the snake and tiger hand seals.
“Hidden Shadow Snake Hands!” six snakes slipped out of her coat sleeves, and intertwined around Miyako-san before she screamed in pain. They had bitten her multiple times, and must’ve been poisonous since she fell to the ground twitching and whimpering.
Marumi-san then slipped around her while she was distracted and went towards me with a kunai in hand. As she was within range, a shadow burst out the grass, revealing a thirteen-foot snake that coiled around her arm and then her torso, before revealing its fangs and plunging them into her.
She shared the same fate as Miyako-san.
Anko-san was strong. In less than two minutes, she took down two Hyuuga members, and didn’t even look like she was tired. She looked over and waved to me.
“Honestly, I was looking for you for the last few hours,” she said, before addressing the two women on the ground. “Hey, you two. Why did you try and off the brat here?”
“We’re sorry, Hinata-sama…” the Marumi-san cried. “W-we never wanted to do this, but the seal and… the councilwoman…” she trailed off and went silent. Miyako-san had long since gone still.
“Marumi-san!” I cried, unable to do anything for her.
“Relax, the poison won’t kill them for another dozen or so minutes,” Anko-san told me. “They’ll be fine after I slip them the antidote and drop them off at the hospital, but they attacked you while under the Hokage’s protection… ordered or not they have a date with Inoichi and Ibiki tonight.”
“Protection? But—” I started to try and defend my assailants, but Anko-san shook her head and crouched next to the women, injecting them with the anti-venom, before summoning a larger snake and placing them on it. She then tossed me a key.
“Go to my place and get some rest,” she said, before slithering off toward the hospital.
I picked up the key and cried. “Marumi-san… Miyako-san… ”
The Next Day
When I woke up, I was in Anko-san’s bed, having fallen asleep waiting for her to return. The sound of running water on wet skin caught my ears, only to be followed up by the turning of the knob and sliding of the shower curtains. Then out stepped my savior from last night.
“Morning sunshine,” Anko-san said with a smile, while wearing only a towel around her waist after stepping out of the shower. I felt a wave of heat gather in my cheeks and I turned my head from her bared chest.
She chuckled, “Oh come on, it’s not like you don’t have the same thing growing there… you might get even bigger than me in a couple of years…”
“A-anko-san… w-what h-h-happened with t-t-them?” I asked.
She sighed and sat down next to me. “Well, to start with, they did attack you and under mandate they had to be taken care of. After Inoichi confirmed they weren’t lying, the old man sent ANBU to bring the main family member who ordered the hit to Ibiki for interrogation and I went with them.”
Anko-san then smiled quite savagely. “First, I watched as your father’s eyes twitch with anger I hadn’t seen in someone so stoic in ages. My guess is that he had to restrain himself to save face, being a Hyuuga and their leader, y’know… then the bitch resisted and I showed everyone why you don’t screw with me.”
She swung her legs up and down. “As for those two women that attacked you, they were sent to a detention center.”
My heart dropped when I heard they’d still get punished. Anko-san then leapt on top of me and I squeaked. Her pure white skin was laid bare to me, the only marring being the marking on her neck. She stared me in the eyes, intensifying the heat in my face.
“Cheer up,” she whispered. “The story is that they were placed in maximum security awaiting execution, but place is a political prison for people in high places. Their chakra will be sealed, but it’s more of a stay in a fancy hotel room that they can’t leave out of. It was done so that people get the message about touching you.
“Their immediate family will have full visitation rights, as well as anyone they list. The Hokage’s laws must be followed, but he knows how things work and how the branch family is treated, so he did it to protect them. He’ll pardon them for their crimes against you in about two years at your prolonged request. So long as everyone involved keeps their mouth shut, we all win and there was only one body.”
Without thinking, I buried my head into her chest and hugged her. “Thank you, Anko-san!”
“W-whoah, easy there!” she stuttered. “If you want to thank someone, thank both the old man with the big hat and your old man.”
Anko-san freed herself and went over to her jacket to pull out two letters, one from my father and one from Hokage-sama. She handed me them and I decided to open the one from Hokage-sama first:
When your father informed me of your actions yesterday with the council I was shocked. I had thought that you were so reserved, but to be so supportive and protective of Naruto literally bought me to tears. The fact that you know how much he suffered and felt genuine affection for him filled this old heart with warmth and I immediately signed the emancipation and protection contracts, freeing you from any retribution from your clan.
However, just as they circumvented the laws around Naruto, many will do the same to you. Keep your head held high and move forward, and you shall continue to have my support. I will not fail you like I did to protect Naruto.
Your father entrusted me with a fairly large amount of texts on your clan’s techniques and deposited a healthy sum of money into your account for you to live on. I’ve heard about your living situation and will arrange something as soon as possible, but in the meantime Anko has offered her home to you…
Just try not to let her corrupt you too much. We can’t have two of her running around.
I am working on finding the boy and when I do find any trace of him, I shall let you know.
Burn this letter after reading it,
Unable to believe what Hokage-sama wrote, I opened the one from my father:
While it pains me that you must suffer, you know how our family operates. I’ll admit that I have not been an adequate father and that, along with our family practices, have driven you away. I was only concerned with training the heiress to lead the family on, and for that I shunned you for your sister.
That was why I made arrangements with the Hokage the night of your outburst, to protect you from enemies like the councilwoman, but there are those that will bend and try to break that law, just like the ones who exposed Naruto’s identity and attacked him. So become strong enough to survive anything.
I’ll admit, even though I knew the boy’s true identity, I let my opinion become stained by others and cannot take back what I’ve said and done.
You are free of the clan’s name now and no longer bound by our limits and traditions. I have sent Hokage-sama instructions for all of our clan techniques should you choose to learn them, but go and do whatever makes you happy.
We will not contact each other again unless absolutely necessary. Do not seek out anymore support from the Hyuuga. Burn this letter after reading it, but know this:
You were, and always will be, my little sunshine,
I read them over and over, until I burned them into my memory. And then I handed them to Anko-san and watched her incinerate them, before I broke down crying for the final time.
Anko-san simply held me.
Three Months Later
“Alright, Hinata-san! Your flames of youth are burning brightly,” the young man in the um… interesting, green jumpsuit told me, as I ran behind him at a somewhat slower pace around the training ground.
“Lee-kun,” I huffed out, my chest burning while I pushed onwards. “Are you sure it’s okay for you to be running around after you got hurt on your mission?”
“Gai-sensei told me that as long as I do not do more than a hundred laps around the training ground, he would not be mad,” he turned his head and smirked. “You have improved greatly.”
Lee-kun wasn’t moving nearly as fast as he could, even with his weights on. That is to say, he’s faster than anyone else that’s a genin. Less than three months ago, after Anko-sensei took me in and finished training with me until I was covered in cuts from her kunai for the first time, she said “Your stamina sucks to hell and back,” and licked my blood off it.
After applying my medicinal cream to the wounds, she recommended that I joined Lee-kun and Gai-sensei. Gai-sensei was quite sympathetic once he heard why I was exiled from my clan, and even offered me one of his um… tasteful jumpsuits. I couldn’t turn it down since he was so… youthful… and took it with me to Anko-sensei’s place…
She said she would refuse to feed such a thing to even Manda if she could and burned it.
Anko-sensei was like a big sister who tormented me, but had the best intentions at heart. She complimented me when I did something right and pointed out my mistakes and how to correct them. Her apartment wasn’t really big enough for most of my things, so they stayed in the storage scrolls and I slept with her on the bed, although she turned a lot and said scary things in her sleep.
I hadn’t had contact with anyone in the Hyuuga clan since then. Kurenai-sensei offered to go and talk to them, but I told her it was fine. She did turn a bit pale when I said I was staying with Anko-sensei. I didn’t know that the two of them shared an occasional drink, until Anko-sensei dragged me with her one night. Since I wouldn’t drink, she made me “the person who drags her back home when plastered.”
It was apparently a real position at the bar she frequented.
While intoxicated, she said many things that I don’t think I should have heard or known about. She also mentioned something about conquests and going for Iruka-sensei, but at that point Kurenai-sensei was covering my ears. Then I had to drag her home after she passed out.
“Lee!” another… youthful voice called from above, only for Gai-sensei to drop from the sky like a rock. “It is wonderful that you are sharing your flames of youth with Hinata, but alas we must convene early to discuss certain things with my eternal rival. He has been boastful since his student gained his bloodline ability when they drove off that missing-nin from Kiri… although they mentioned something about the tycoon who they thought hired him being frozen and shattered… ”
“Yes, Gai-sensei! I will…” Lee-kun began one of their discussions on tasks and punishments as I drifted off.
It had been three months since Naruto-kun had left and the Chuunin Exams were coming up in a few more months. Kurenai-sensei said that she wanted us to give it a try to test us and that she’d be proud no matter what. Anko-sensei, on the other hand, threatened me to make it to the finals and make her look good under the threat of spending two weeks in the Forest of Death… again.
I closed my eyes at that point, not willing to see that scene again… I still wasn’t sure how they created that genjutsu. Despite their odd habits they were very nice and skilled people. Under training with Anko-sensei, along with my time with my team, and the morning work outs with Lee-kun and Gai-sensei, I was starting to feel better.
My hair had grown about an inch longer, but it was slightly messy. I had changed my coat to a black colored version, and switched to orange undershirts with a chainmail shirt above it. I wore black pants, with both a kunai and shuriken holster on each leg, a pouch around my waist, and black combat sandals as well. My forehead protector was still around my neck, but with an orange colored band instead of black.
People around the village had begun calling me the “Fallen Princess” of the Hyuuga clan after word of my exile got out. It was somewhat annoying, and some people thought to make fun of me because of it. I followed Anko-sensei’s advice about kunai and near-head shots.
It stopped soon enough.
Anko-sensei also took steps to help with my stuttering.
“Okay, for every time I hear you stuttering, I will throw a kunai at you! It doesn’t matter when—the village, the room, the bed if you keep calling for him in your sleep—you will get a kunai flying towards you!”
She wasn’t lying.
I’m pretty sure that my skill in avoiding projectiles was high-chuunin at this point. Anko-sensei and Tenten-san, one of Lee-kun’s teammates, tended to throw a lot of them and rarely missed… she even mentioned begging Hokage-sama to teach her the Shadow Clone jutsu so she could increase the number thrown at once during my training.
Thankfully, he refused… for the moment. I had a feeling she was wearing him down.
Anko-sensei had said that Hyuuga rely on close-combat more than anything, with only one or two mid-ranged techniques. As a result, we would be disadvantaged when fighting enemies who’ve had previous experience with our techniques or relied on long to mid-ranged combat. So she started with teaching me tactics to deal with opponents like that and, since I was no longer was bound by the Hyuuga laws, how to use elemental manipulation and mold fire chakra.
“Okay, my little mini-Anko in training, name the five basic elements.”
“Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, and Lightning,” I answered.
“Perfect,” she smirked. “Now, explain what chakra flow is?”
“The use of chakra streaming through an object,” I answered.
“Correct. Lightning chakra can pierce through most objects if focused through chakra flow, but it can also paralyze and mess with things that use electrical energy. Wind chakra is basically use for wind techniques, but using chakra flow it can increase cutting power. Earth chakra can be used to strengthen or alter solid things through chakra flow and other basic earth techniques. My personal favorite is fire chakra though.”
Anko-sensei made a few seals and breathed out a stream of flames. “Fire burns, and if living things gets burned beyond a certain point, they die. Fire chakra is closer to a poison, in that its nature is to consume whatever it touches.”
“What about water chakra?” I asked.
Anko-sensei shook her head. “Water chakra can be used to create or manipulate water, but by changing things on a chemical level, it can create oil or other liquids. But what makes water chakra a pain is that it can dissolve or wash away at other types of chakra. There’s a reason why hunter-nin from Kiri aren’t to be taken lightly, it’s because they’ve mastered techniques designed to do just that.”
“Are you going to teach me how to use fire chakra someday if I have an affinity?” I asked.
“Someday?” she chuckled. “Affinity or not, you will be able to use at least one fire jutsu perfectly for attacking and learn a second one for tactical uses… in three months. Under penalty of a rain of kunai from me… and that girl who likes shiny weapons even more than me… there will be no mercy.”
I shivered at the thought.
Focusing the little fire chakra I could generate at the moment, I released a burst from the tips of my fingers into a practice log. The chakra invaded the log and it slowly began turning black, radiating from the point of the strike, as the fire chakra ate away at the log at the microscopic level. It took five minutes total, but the log collapsed onto itself, leaving only a pile of charcoaled wood.
It works against things without chakra easy enough, but against a shinobi it won’t do much damage before it gets pushed away until I can generate more…
I’ve also mastered the tree climbing and water walking exercises. She had me practice a lot in the Forest of Death, where making a slip up would be painful, on those two alone until I passed out, to increase my chakra reserves and control. She also combined it with trying to hit me with every sharp object she could get her hands on and the occasional non-venomous snake.
By the time the Chuunin Exams come around, I should have a good chance to become a chuunin despite it being my first time. Anko-sensei’s threats aside, I wanted to become stronger so I never had to say I was too weak again…
Chuunin – Exams, Outside the Forest of Death
The time for the second portion of the Chuunin exams was about to begin. I looked over to Anko-sensei, who was giving one of her speeches that terrified the general populace. When Kiba-kun said this portion would be easy, she nicked him with a kunai and licked his blood, promptly terrifying him and Akamaru-kun.
And then that genin from Kusa handed the kunai back to her with an extremely long tongue that reminded me of a snake…
While Kurenai-sensei told my team I was staying with Anko-sensei, I’ve kept most of my progress a secret from even her. I wanted to surprise them, or at least save them for the finals. No longer was I the weak heiress of the Hyuuga clan who was surpassed by her sister.
Instead, I was an apprentice of the woman known as the Snake Mistress of Konoha.
Anko-sensei walked up to me and smiled. “You’d better get there faster than anyone else considering how much you’ve trained here. I was a chuunin at 12 and I expect great things from my apprentice. Make me look good okay, brat?”
I smiled and nodded.
Inside the Forest of Death – Near the Tower
After half a day of waiting to get the proper scroll, Kiba-kun, Shino-kun, and I could finally see the clearing to the tower roughly thirty meters away. It was unfortunate for that other team their leader made some perverted comments and gestures at me. His tenketsu will be closed from my 8 Trigrams 32 Palms for quite some time.
“Heh, I knew this would be easy!” Kiba-kun gloated.
“Only because Hinata-san seems to have an excellent grasp of the terrain,” Shino-kun corrected him and looked over to me. “I take it you’ve been here with your new… roommate?”
I chuckled nervously.
“Man, that lady was scary and she smelled like snakes…” Kiba-kun shivered. “But she was hot! I tell you, if I could room with her I’d—” his puberty-inspired comment was cut off when I threw a kunai in his direction…
Not to hit him of course, but to knock the one that came flying from the clearing ahead off target. I had thought it might have been Anko-sensei, but once we broke through the tree line, we saw Gai-sensei’s team.
My cousin, Neji-nii-san, was standing in front of Tenten-san and Lee-kun. “It has been some time, Hinata-sama,” he emphasized the last part.
“Neji-nii-san,” I stepped forward and activated my bloodline. “You… have both your scrolls already… so why did you throw that kunai?”
A smile that held anything but kindness etched itself across my cousin’s face. “There’s nothing wrong with attacking opponents as long as we’re in the forest.”
“You bastard!” Kiba-kun growled. I placed my arm in front of him to stop him from doing something rash.
“You’ve been waiting here for us to pass for some time now, haven’t you?” Shino-kun said, shifting his shades.
“I must admit, this is most un-youthful,” Lee-kun added.
“We have to enter the tower as a team,” Tenten-san said. “But I’m not attacking them for no reason.”
Neji-nii-san activated his Byakugan, showing that he had every intention of fighting regardless of who stood in his way. I stepped in front of Kiba-kun and tossed my scrolls carefully to Shino-kun.
“Give your scrolls to your teammate,” I told my cousin. “Since you are going to fight no matter what, we’ll keep it between us. No one else interferes.”
Shino-kun and Neji-nii-san both raised an eyebrow at me, while the other three were gasping, followed by each—in different tones and manners of speaking—said that it wasn’t my smartest idea.
“You’ve seemed to have gained some confidence now that you don’t have to live up to the clan standards. It seems I must remind you that Fate has already determined which of us will prevail,” he slipped into a Gentle Fist stance.
Without turning around, I called out to everyone else. “All of you stay behind me at a good distance.” They looked at me oddly, but complied and stayed in the tree branches behind me. I then focused on my opponent.
“Neji-nii-san…” I paused. “No, Neji-san. I am no longer a member of the Hyuuga main branch, neither am I a failure. If you truly wish to face me, then do it with pride as a person and not Fate’s Bitch!”
My use of inappropriate language caught everyone off guard. Anko-sensei told me it was a tactic that was great for getting the drop on people who knew my normal nature. Next, I followed up by imitating her tactic of pulling out eight kunai, a finger in each ring on the pommel and threw them at my cousin.
He weaved through them and closed in on me. I leapt back, blazing through the rat, tiger, dog, ox, rabbit, and tiger seals, before I took a deep breath and tilted my head back. “Fire Style: Phoenix Flower!”
I cupped my hand near my mouth and breathed out eight small fireballs. He stopped his advance after a few smashed into the ground along the path to my cousin, but he didn’t put much effort in dodging the last two. He only looked at me with amused eyes.
“Using such a fire jutsu?” he smirked. “You truly aren’t fit to be a Hyuuga… and your aiming needs work,” he added, noting that I had set a few patches of grass, at points at various distances between us on fire.
I feigned a look of anger on my face and pulled a kunai out of my pouch, throwing it at him. He tilted his head to avoid it as it passed, only then noticing a wire wrapped around the ring at the pommel due to a glint from the sun. I tugged the finger the wire was wrapped around and it jerked back, nicking him on the neck.
“… Is that all?” he smirked again. “You get taken in by a special jounin and the best you could do after getting thrown out of the main branch was miss with a fire jutsu and nick me with a wired-kunai. Failure.”
Kiba-kun yelled something inappropriate at my cousin, but I simply started to make hand signs. “First, Neji-san, the Phoenix Flower jutsu can be moved using chakra control, which I am not incompetent in,” I said, finishing the snake, ram, and monkey hand signs, before stopping on the tiger seal.
“Second, Anko-sensei taught me how to deal with arrogant boys,” I breathed in and exhaled a wave of flammable gas. “Fire Style: Mist Blaze Dance!”
His arrogance dissipated once the realization hit him and the gas met the flames, igniting a scorching wave that would swallow him. I took precautions to ensure he would survive, of course. With his speed, he could easily dive into the moat around the tower, and the flames would be short-lived since I used a different type of gas than what Anko-sensei used.
Instead of running, his eyes squinted in determination.
“8 Trigrams Rotation!” he said, as he spun around and released chakra from all his tenketsu. I knew he was gifted, but this was simply extraordinary since he must’ve reproduced it from sight alone. The rotating shield of chakra interwove with the flames and created a blazing, spiraling sphere that almost entranced me at the center of the wave… which also hit the tower behind him.
… Maybe we should have moved the fight further back. Oops.
Once the flames died down, my cousin stopped spinning and took a step forward… and his knees buckled under him and he hit the dirt. A smile graced my lips. “It’s over.”
“H-how?” he squeezed out. I tugged on the kunai that I nicked him with one more time and caught it to show him. It had a thin layer of purple coating. “Poison?”
“Anko-sensei is a special jounin in the interrogation and torture department. Of course she would teach me how to use poisons. You sped up the poison in your system when you performed Rotation.”
He struggled to get up. “Using poisons now too? You’re a failure to both the main house and the Hyuuga name. You can’t beat me! It is Fate!”
I couldn’t help but sigh and walked up to him, crouching to meet him at eye-level. “Neji-san… you are truly gifted. To have learned Rotation on your own, you must’ve sweated blood and tears. I’ll acknowledge that as a Hyuuga, you are my superior.”
I held the poisoned kunai at his throat. “But right now you are the one who is lying in the dirt. Fate may have stated that Neji Hyuuga of the Branch Family would defeat Hinata Hyuuga of the Main Family… but the woman before you is Hinata the Fallen Princess, proud apprentice of Anko Mitarashi, special jounin and the Snake Mistress of Konoha!”
I stabbed the kunai into the ground next to him. “If you want to be Neji-nii-san then get that through your head. But if you want to be Fate’s Bitch, keep your head on the ground!”
He didn’t mutter a single word after that. Our teams walked up slowly, staring at me like a stranger. I walked up to Tenten-san and gave her a vial of antidote. “Give him this and he’ll be back on his feet in three hours. It was just a paralysis poison.”
I nodded towards the tower and Shino-kun and Kiba-kun followed me there.
“Damn,” Kiba-kun said. “When did you learn all that? That was pretty cool…”
“I concur,” Shino-kun muttered. “It seems you’ve improved a great deal in both ninjutsu and tactics… although your language seems somewhat out of character.”
I smiled and they flinched. Anko-sensei must have been rubbing off on me more than I thought. I was almost tempted to lick Neji-nii-san’s blood off the kunai.
Now, how do I explain the damage to the tower to those ANBU coming out…
Last day at the tower in forest of death
The fifth day passed.
Although I thought I might have been in trouble for scorching the tower, they seemed to simply shrug it off after I said Anko-sensei taught the tactic to me. “She’s done worse when drunk…” one of the ANBU trailed off.
We were quite surprised when we opened the scrolls and Kurenai-sensei was summoned. She was stunned at how fast we arrived, although the Suna team got here even faster. I expected Anko-sensei to be slightly upset about that, but ANBU said she was resting after a minor incident.
Kurenai-sensei was also shocked when Kiba-kun decided to brag about how “Badass” I was and the fight with Neji-nii-san. “I’m going to have to tell Anko to go easy… we don’t need two of her in the village just yet.”
Of all the teams that had entered, only a few remained: Gai-sensei’s team, Kakashi-sensei’s team, Asuma-sensei’s team, the Suna team with the boy who had the gourd on his back, and our team. The teams from Ame, Kusa, Sound, and one of the Suna teams were missing.
“Since there are an adequate number of teams that have passed, we will move into the third stage in one month’s time instead of a preliminary match,” Hokage-sama said, before we randomly drew match ups for the upcoming exam.
A few minutes later, they were displayed on the screen: Sai vs. Shino, Ino vs. Shikamaru, Choujivs. Kiba, Hinata vs. Sakura, Gaara vs. Sasuke, Temari vs. Rock Lee, Tenten vs. Kankuro, and Neji would skip a round.
I looked over to Sakura-san and smiled when she noticed me. Her hair looked as though it was cut during the exams. “Sakura-san?”
“Y-yes…? ” she edged away from me. It seemed like she heard of my short fight. “W-what is it?”
I bowed to her. “I’m sorry for attacking you a few months ago. You were wrong to call Naruto-kun that name, but I shouldn’t have attacked you.”
She blinked a few times. “O… kay?” she chuckled nervously. “It was my fault, no real harm done… ”
“But I’m not going easy on you,” I added, taking small joy in watching her sweat.
2 days after the second exam
“Hey old man,” Anko-sensei addressed Hokage-sama, who just sighed. “You ready to teach me how to do the Shadow Clone jutsu?”
“I told you, I wouldn’t teach you unless I felt it was necessary…” he said, before mumbling something about how much having an army of her would add to his paperwork.
“It would’ve helped when I had to sign all the forms for the damage she did to the tower,” she turned to me and smirked. “Heard you kicked your cousin’s ass. Hope it dislodged the stick stuck in there.”
“Shadow clones for paperwork… “Hokage-sama slapped his forehead. “Why didn’t I think of that after all this time!”
Anko-sensei laughed out loud, while I couldn’t help but giggle. I could’ve sworn that I heard someone else chuckle too.
“Leaving aside how much time I spend on paperwork being drastically reduced, I’m assigning you two on a C-ranked escort mission. We’ve found the location of a person of interest and I’m assigning you two to escort someone to retrieve her.”
“Oh?” Anko-sensei bought out a kunai and licked it. “Who are we bringing in for me to play with, and who’s the person we’re escorting?”
Hokage-sama sweat-dropped and chuckled nervously, “The person you are retrieving is Tsunade Senju, one of my students, the legendary Slug Princess, one of the Sannin…and hopefully the next Hokage.”
My eyes uncontrollably went wide, as did Anko-sensei’s. It was reasonable given who we were being assigned to retrieve. Hokage-sama took a deep breath and smiled. “As for who you are escorting, he’s standing behind you.”
We both turned to see an older man with white hair, a forehead protector that read “Oil” and a… unique outfit, step out from the shadows. Hokage-sama smiled. “I want you two to meet Jiraiya the Toad Sage, also one of the Sannin, one of my students, and… Naruto’s godfather.”
We were both paralyzed.
Only the sound of Anko-sensei’s kunai hitting the floor was heard.
8 Trigrams Rotation – Expels chakra from all tenketsu and the user spins around to gain an absolute defense.
Hidden Shadow Snake Hands – A combination summoning and space-time jutsu that shoots snakes from the user’s sleeves.
Fire Style: Phoenix Flower – Creates small fire balls that can be controlled with chakra, but short range. It can be used to set up the field for her Mist Blaze Technique.
Fire Style: Mist Blaze Dance – Creates a stream of flammable gas in the lungs, which is breathed out. On contact with flames, it ignites.
Fire Style: Great Fireball – Creates a moderate sized fire ball, size changes based on chakra put into it.
I’ve pointed out several of Hinata’s flaws and I’m trying to address them so she isn’t a Naruto fangirl nor some weakling. Her world centers around Naruto, which is no better than Sakura’s obsession over Sasuke. If the manga wasn’t starring Naruto as the main character, it would be the seen as just as bad.
The reason I had Anko take care of her was because she has a neutral opinion on the matter, but could sympathize with both of them. She doesn’t hate him and knows how dangerous obsession is. Sasuke goes to Orochimaru because of his obsession with his brother and Orochimaru did horrible things because of his obsession with immortality.
Though I wonder if I’m having Hinata act a little too much Anko…
As for the second exam, they skipped the fight because not enough teams passed to warrant it. Sasuke did get marked and he, and Sai, killed the Sound team in self-defense. Some other things did happen, but like I said, not all of the genin get focus in this story right now, if at all, and this chapter is from Hinata’s point of view, and what she doesn’t know the reader doesn’t know.
And yes, Gato was killed by Haku after Sakura met with him (No, Haku is not a girl in this fic) in the forest while he was gathering herbs and made a side comment that Sai said people like Gato would kill rather than pay. So, Haku spied on him and overheard him saying he would, and the rest is history. Expect to Naruto and Co. to run into Haku and Zabuza after the invasion, and a few other arcs, in Kiri.
Hinata wouldn’t win in a close-range fight with Neji and they knew it. His arrogance caused him to underestimate Hinata like in canon and came back with a vengeance.
Next chapter is Tsunade retrieval arc and the end of Naruto’s training in Suna.
Chapter 2: The Old Puppeteer
Author’s Notes: Revised as of 1/4/15
With the Uzumaki
“Moooom…” Naruto whined.
“We’re tired…” another Naruto said.
“… We’ve been at this all week…” the third Naruto said.
“Again,” Kushina told them.
The Narutos all sighed in defeat and sat down on the ground, closing their eyes and concentrating. Kushina had begun teaching them how to use her Chakra Chain jutsu. It required no hand seals, but it required so much concentration that even with two hundred clones working on learning how to generate the proper amount of yang chakra for the jutsu, it still wasn’t solid enough. He needed to focus on mixing a large amount of his physical energy into a small amount of spiritual energy, without it completely overtaking it.
Once ten minutes passed, they placed their hands on one of Kushina’s affinity testing seals, which she managed to make along the way. She had over five hundred of her multi-purposed, newly christened “Affinity Breakdown Seals” ready for the market, and she finally managed to create chakra chains away from her body.
Once again, you’ve gotta love shadow clones.
The top ten that got the closest to the proper yang chakra composition were then dispelled and the process was repeated, until the original was the only one left. He’d then try on his own, rest for some time, and then repeat the process. This way, he crammed at least a few months’ worth of training in a day.
There were about twenty more clones doing various chakra exercises, including some from the medic-nin book she got. Since medics needed absolute and precise chakra control, those exercises were the best for him to gain better chakra control. In addition, yang chakra was used in healing as well, similar to how yin was used in genjutsu. It had a slightly higher concentration of physical to spiritual, but nowhere near as much used in her chains.
Still, she had about five shadow clones working alongside them since she would probably need to learn medical techniques in case of an emergency. Just because Naruto could heal himself faster now didn’t mean he could heal anyone else.
There were a few more clones working on their katas, but there were less than three hundred clones total in use. Rather than just letting Naruto make nearly a thousand of them, Kushina didn’t want to have Naruto running low on chakra too soon, since converting regular chakra to any element was draining, and because they were still close to enemy territory.
They’d been doing the same thing over and over for the last week as they slowly made their way towards Suna, avoiding the shinobi paths on her map. At this point they were past the Land of Fire and into the Land of Rivers, which was situated right between the Land of Fire and Land of Wind.
Since she didn’t want to risk being discovered by rotten luck, Kushina had applied the seal to herself, turning her eyes a light shade of purple and her hair black, wrapped into a single ponytail. She also altered Naruto’s new one to have black hair and purple eyes as well, so they matched… the first one he made didn’t agree with the fox’s chakra, as she learned when she slightly altered the seal on his stomach to give Naruto a better sense of hearing and smell.
They also had to use different names when in the presence of others, for obvious reasons… neither one of them wanted to put too much effort into it though, so they just settled on “Shina” and “Naru” to get it out of the way.
I wonder if I could get someone in Suna to personally supervise him in using his wind chakra, Kushina thought to herself. Suna’s shinobi population wasn’t all that high, but they had the greatest number of wind users.
The main problem for this portion of their journey was going to find someone to teach them about puppetry. Only shinobi native to the village could learn it, and according to the Unofficial Bingo Book, the only other major puppet master outside the village was Sasori of the Red Sands. If they entered into the village as shinobi without any real reason, they’d be subjected to interrogation.
“Hm?” Kushina eyes narrowed, as memories from one of her clones that were patrolling the area just returned to her. “Naruto, wrap it up. We have guests.”
A short distance away
A well-toned, middle-aged man, dressed in a simple white T-shirt and black pants, with a jacket around his waist, was moving through the forests as fast as he could. He was currently running from three missing-nins from Ame, two males and one female, that were clearly playing with him.
One of the men had only a single eye exposed, the other hidden from sight by his hair, and he had a mask over his mouth and a bandana. The other was muscular, with chin-length gray hair, arm warmers to go with a sleeveless shirt, and a teal mark across his face. The last was a young woman with short light-brown hair, wearing pink tube top that was barely covered up by a light green shirt.
The older man was out of breath when he reached the edge of a river. “Honestly, kids these days acting worse than bandits.”
“Well, you could’ve just given us your gear old man…” the girl said. “Oh well.”
“Chakra Chain: Emergence,” a voice echoed through the forest. A dozen small explosions occurred at the same time around the helpless man, as ghostly, translucent chains erupted from the ground beneath him.
“Chakra Chain: Barrier,” the same mysterious voice said. The twelve chains arched and formed a dome around the man, and the gaps between the chains were filled by a shimmering force.
“The gentleman has a point,” the mysterious voice came from the river this time. Kushina slowly rose from the river using the Hiding in the Water jutsu she learned from one of the scrolls in Uzushio, with her arms crossed and dressed in her combat outfit, with a matching backpack on spaghetti strings. “You three could stand to do better than that.”
A rain of shuriken poured down at the missing-nins, who jumped back at the last second, leaving a good sized spot with shuriken popping up like weeds. Landing in a crouch next to his mother was Naruto, dressed in his combat clothes as well.
“So, time to go from practice to practical application.” Naruto grinned. He only had his mother to spar with up until now and wanted to try what he learned against an enemy.
“Naru, remember these three will actually be trying to kill us. Don’t take them lightly.”
“Yes ma’am!” he said, before flicking his hands and causing shuriken to appear between his fingers. He threw them at the masked one who dodged with ease. “Come at me bro!”
That little—” Kirisame muttered before going after him.
“I feel bad for that kid,” the kunoichi muttered to Kushina. “That guy is a sadist. Your kid is gonna be in pieces.”
“My child can take care of himself…” I hope, she thought secretly. Naruto had yet to face a situation where he’d need to kill or be killed. She wasn’t sure he was mentally prepared for dealing with his first kill, but hopefully it wouldn’t come to that in this battle. “Let’s get started.”
With Naruto & Kirisame
Naruto placed the palm of his hand in front of his mouth and inhaled. Releasing trace amounts of wind chakra from his body and merging it with the surroundings, the air he inhaled became concentrated and flowed towards his mouth before stopping at the palm and spinning in place. Once he exhaled the spiraling sphere flew towards the Ame-nin who jumped up and avoided the attack, leaving it to crash into tree that was behind him and leaving a moderate sized crater in the wood.
Naruto inhaled and exhaled rapidly, repeatedly firing the jutsu over and over, only to have the enemy avoid it with ease. It’s not bad offensive-wise for a low-ranked jutsu, but the time between shots is too long and the strength is dependent on the amount inhaled…
Naruto flicked his wrist and sent chakra into the seal on the palm of his right glove. A Kunai popped out and he held it in a reverse grip before charging the man.
“Let’s see what you got kid!” The Ame-nin formed the Rat-Dog-Ox seals and water gathered in his hands. “Water Style: Water Whip!”
He lashed out at the boy, before taking a wide swing that Naruto ducked under. He twisted his hand brought it down, causing the whip to twist and catch the boy’s leg. “Get over here!”
He pulled the whip in and pulled out a kunai, plunging it deep into the boy’s waist. Naruto gasped in pain… before popping in a plume of smoke. “What the hell?”
“It’s called a shadow clone,” the young boy’s voice came from behind him.
Kirisame exposed eye went wide and he pivoted on his rear leg, swinging the whip horizontally. Naruto ducked under it and edged left, swinging his reverse-gripped kunai at an inside arc to graze Kirisame’s shoulder, before placing his foot behind the taller shinobi’s and kicking it from under him.
Kirisame flipped backwards and landed… only to find himself flying. A concussive force of condensed chakra ruptured the moment it hit him. He went head first into the tree and stopped moving.
“My taijutsu isn’t going to be very effective damage-wise until I grow a bit more, but at least the Wind Style: Air Bullet worked.” Naruto smirked and made three shadow clones to haul his unconscious prize back to the others.
With Kushina, Hisame, and Murasame
Unlike Naruto, Kushina was an experienced kunoichi who fought in a war. Seeing that her enemies were getting ready to start making hand seals, she brushed her fingers against the storage seals on the blouse’s sleeves and threw the kunai that appeared in a spread fashion. The goal wasn’t to hit, but to make them move or deflect it.
Kunai were okay for close combat, you could slit the enemy’s throat, slip the blade between their ribs, and all that fun stuff, but the further away the enemy, the lower the effectiveness without using chakra. Both of them dodged, as expected, and Kushina rushed towards Hisame.
“Old hag!” she roared, finishing the seals and creating a water whip.
Kushina dodged the first swing with a slide and aimed to angle the kunai into the girl’s heart from below the breast, only to miss when she twisted. Kushina threw the kunai at Murasame to force him to redirect his water whip long enough for her to grab Hisame by her loose shirt and toss her out of it and directly into Murasame.
Enraged, both of them sent their water whips straight towards her, like poles. They were also standing close enough to be caught up in her next shot.
“Water Style: Spiraling Water Ball!” she said, as she leapt back, following the same pattern as her son, but taking from the condensation in the air and mixing with water chakra. She took a deep breath, aimed towards the pair at a slightly downward angle, and fired the ball of spiral water.
It cut through the whips easily since they were stretched far enough and knocked the duo off their feet on impact. Kushina created four chakra chains from the palm of her hand and shot them out like snakes, making them coil around the pair. She then slammed them into a tree, pulled them in with a single tug, and clothes-lined them both.
They didn’t get back up.
Kushina breathed a sigh of relief once Naruto returned and looked unharmed. “Place him with the others,” she said, before she released the man in her barrier and pulled out the Unofficial Bingo Book from sealing scroll in her backpack.
“They aren’t here, meaning they were new missing-nin…” she mumbled, closing the book and turning to Naruto. “Have any problems?”
“Nah, the guy was cannon fodder at best,” he shrugged.
“Don’t take any battle lightly. Things have a bad habit of going from bad to worse really quickly…” she paused before looking at the man. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” the man said as he stood up and picked up his bag from the ground. “Thanks for the save.”
“We were just in the neighborhood and heard the commotion,” Naruto told him, not bothering to look up as he started looting the unconscious Ame-nins’ supplies. “Ooh, they’ve got cool blank masks and a scroll to do that whip thing… and another one that follows up with lightning!”
Kushina sighed and shook her head. “It was no problem… I’m sorry; I don’t believe we’ve done introductions yet.”
“My name is Gen,” he said, extending his hand for Kushina to shake. “I’m a blacksmith from Takumi.”
Kushina grabbed his hand and shook it politely, noting how hard and callus they were. It was evidence that he worked long and hard towards his profession.
“My name is Shina,” she pointed to Naruto, “and this is my son, Naru. I’ve heard of your village before. It specializes in making customized weapons for shinobi.”
The man sighed. “It used to, but now so many villages have gained some skill in it. We’ve lost a lot of business, so we visit nearby villages and set up shops. What about you? I don’t think I’ve seen that barrier jutsu before and you aren’t wearing a forehead protector… ”
Kushina smiled. “We’re basically mercenary-nin, without a village… hang on for a second, please.”
They both stopped to look at Naruto chuckling, as he had finished stripping the missing-nin of their supplies and wallets. She rolled her eyes and made the Tiger-Ram-Snake-Tiger seals and cried, “Water Style: Froth Prison!”
A stream of light-pink water came from her mouth and collided with the ground around the three. The moment it made contact with the organic matter it began a chemical reaction that formed a good amount of solid foam which strengthened based on the amount of chakra present. “They’ll be like that for a day or so.”
“Mercenaries… would you two be interested in serving as my bodyguards for my trip to Suna?” he asked. “I can’t pay you a lot right now, but I can make you just about any weapon you could want, for both of you!”
Well, that was convenient. Never again will I doubt my son’s dumb luck, Kushina thought. “We’d be glad to—I wanted to try my hand at selling some of my own things there anyway, and I heard they had an open bazaar.”
He chuckled. “It is pretty big, but you can never get any space unless you get there early or reserve a spot. I don’t mind sharing my stand. What will we be selling?”
“Seals,” Kushina tapped her shoulder and released a bit of chakra, causing a shuriken to appear. “These are my special combat storage seals. I made them to hold various items in separate compartments, and respond to the amount of chakra I release when I touch them.”
“Yeah,” Naruto showed him the palm of his gloves. “All I have to do is pulse chakra into mine and BAM! I have something to fight with. Although the frequency and burst of the chakra pulse determines what comes out… ”
Gen whistled and smiled. “I tried to be a shinobi when I was younger, but I dropped out before I became a genin and moved to Takumi. So I can use chakra, but only for using small storage seals and testing the weapons I make that don’t require elemental chakra.”
“Interesting… tell me, have ever considered using a chakra storage seal that…” Kushina and Gen went on about endless possibilities of seals and weapons combined…
Somewhere in Konoha
A girl with buns in her hair was working with her father on blacksmithing, when she stopped mid-swing and looked up with sparkles in her eyes…
“Something wonderful is going to happen, and it involves me and weaponry… ”
Her father just sighed and shrugged.
Several Days Later
It took far longer to get to Suna with Gen in tow, since he couldn’t keep up with the pair at full speed. Before they entered the village’s range, Naruto and Kushina had changed to their civilian clothes and asked Gen to keep quiet that they were fully-capable shinobi since they wanted to keep things on the low for now. Suna and Konoha are allies, and if they drew attention here…
Gen had no problem with it, and it wasn’t too hard to get into the village as civilians. Seal salesmen were expected to have some chakra to make or demonstrate their goods, and they didn’t belong to any village. They kept all their combat clothes and private things in a seal that Kushina kept hidden inside another seal, in case they tried to check for it.
Once Naruto and Kushina got a room, they went sightseeing around the village. The marketing areas were the most active, but the buildings were the same color of brown and looked like they were made of clay. There was that really round building in the center of the town, but other than that…
Their BBQ places were great to eat at and had a surprisingly wide arrangement of foods that were imported. There were a few kids around Naruto’s age, but they were training in Suna’s style and, while Naruto left Konoha and trained with his mother, he didn’t want to take any chances. He just went around with his mother as she checked out various stories and bought things that she could probably use to make a fortune later on.
Later that night, Naruto was snoring in his bed. Watching him sleep peacefully from behind a desk with a small lamp on it was Kushina. She’d always hoped that she would get the chance to watch him grow
He looked so much like Minato. She missed him so much, it wasn’t fair. It felt like she took away his second chance from seeing their son.
But she knew if they kept going, they would get a chance to bring him back. So, to keep their boy safe until then, she needed to get stronger. That was the reason she had three scrolls in front of her.
The first one was Sealing Arts of Yin, written by the Uzumaki Clan. It went into detail about the use of yin chakra and spiritual energy, how it brings illusions and phantasms out and give them shape. The sealing formulas it had inside involved forcefully disturbing the balance of yin and yang chakra.
The second one was Yin Style: Phantasmal Markings, which she got from Kurogane. It uses yin chakra to mark a target’s spiritual energy with symbols or letters that exist but don’t have physical form and couldn’t interact with the physical world.
Yin chakra was an absolute nightmare for her to use, as her chakra was geared towards yang chakra. That was why she never went into genjutsu. While Naruto had abysmal control from having the fox to blame, she had her own chakra quality to blame.
She would need at least a year of practice without shadow clones to mold the necessary yin chakra for phantasmal marking, but with the help of these two arts, she could create a truly demonic technique.
One that she hoped she never had to use.
Two weeks later
If one were to ask how Kushina’s sales were going, they would probably have to wait in line. For about an hour. On a good day.
Her seals were a hit!
Affinity Breakdown Seals, Combat Storage Seals, Security Seals, Privacy Seals—not the new ones she made, but their older versions—they were selling. If she got low on some, she’d have a few shadow clones in hiding make more.
To make matters even better, Kurogane contacted her through their scrolls and had requested more of the seals she made him. When she mentioned the new ones she made, he just said to send them over after he gave her the profits from her last ones.
Now, Kushina wasn’t a greedy person by nature and she didn’t change in the slightest. She put everything else that wasn’t needed for the next two weeks and Naruto’s allowance away. It had to go towards building their village back up again.
If she franchised it… hehehe…
But, extremely profitable dreams aside, she was technically housing a missing-nin and that wouldn’t change until he got support from another village as large as Konoha, but since he was housing the fox, that wouldn’t stop a war from breaking out. It had to be more than a single village…
It was only thanks to their appearance changing seals—she didn’t market those for obvious reasons—that they could live in temporary peace. But Naruto was at least talking to others his age that didn’t hate him because of their parents. The main downside was that the fox’s chakra would destroy the seal if he used any of it besides the healing portion.
Gen was making an equally great amount of profit with his custom weapons. Between his and Kushina’s techniques, the weapons gained some popularity for being able to absorb chakra flow easier and strengthen themselves to prevent chipping and breaking. Most of the blacksmiths couldn’t match those, and Gen and Kushina could sell the templates for a commission.
The two had big plans for even more potent weapons and seals combinations, using elemental seals and such, but Kushina wanted to hold off until they tested them on her and Naruto’s custom weapons, as well a few prototypes. She only bought the sealing scrolls that were geared towards using regular chakra, water chakra, and wind chakra from Uzushio. When Kushina eventually left Suna for Konoha, she would definitely give him a scroll like the one she gave Kurogane.
Having a guy like him in Uzushio would do well for economic growth.
Naruto’s sealing lessons were the only ones they could practice while inside the village. He was moving onto making tracking seals and chakra releasing seal. Tracking was done in two parts or more depending on the seal. Typically one was applied to the target and sent a chakra signal to another seal that had a receiver.
The chakra releasing seals did just that: release chakra. It was a storage seal that handled chakra and as a result could hold jutsu as well if the seal was properly done. Naruto couldn’t make one to hold jutsu on his own, but he could make one to just release pure chakra. If a second layer of sealing formula was applied then you could shape the chakra, otherwise it just burst out, and a third layer added the pressure of force behind the released chakra. Too little pressure was the same as having a light breeze push it out, but too much could change the shape added by the second layer and rupture it.
Kushina demonstrated by taking a decorative kunai she made with Gen. It was shaped more like a normal one, except it was flattened out more and the sides of the blade above the hand were curved into points. The top side of the kunai had one set of seals that activated when she used chakra and fired a blast in the shape of the kunai’s blade. The bottom side seal released a small outward pulse.
Naruto would most likely learn how to do the third layer in half a year and a half without shadow clones. He had the second layer down, but he needed to study some physics and matters related to forces applied to surfaces. Then it was a matter of trial and error.
The next thing on Kushina’s list was to find a puppet maker.
It was through some rumors and basic information gathering that she came to learn of the “Honorable Grandmother” Chiyo, who was the best puppet master in Suna and also the best puppet maker. She also found out what her favorite restaurant was and started to take Naruto there to eat a few times. On their fifth visit in two weeks, she spotted her.
“Excuse me,” Kushina said as she walked up to the elderly woman. “Are you Chiyo-sama?”
“Ah, the girl who sells those popular seals…” the elder said, turning in her seat. “What do you want with an old woman like me?”
“I’ve heard that you were the best puppet maker in Suna,” Kushina bowed. “Can you teach me how to make a certain type of puppet? I am certain that only someone with you experience could do such a thing.”
Kushina kept her head down for what seemed like hours, waiting for a response, until Naruto tapped her on the arm. “I think she just died… ”
“Huh?” Kushina looked up to see he eyes half open and her face lowered and relaxed. Her breathe was nonexistent. “Quick, someone get a medic! I’ll see if I can—”
She was cut off by Chiyo suddenly jumping out of the chair and both she and Naruto jumped back. They both almost went into a combat stand out of shock. Instead they resisted the urge and stood there shaking.
“Hehehe… Just kidding! I’m not dead.” Chiyo chuckled. Given how most people knew her… eccentric habits, they also chuckled. What they didn’t know was that Kushina didn’t like being laughed at.
The pony tail Kushina had tied as part of her disguised appearance began to crackle with eldritch energy and unravel, branching into nine tendrils. Some people would say that the room chilled suddenly, others would say they could see her literally burning with anger. Naruto had his hands full holding her back.
“C-calm d-down m-m-mom…” Naruto stuttered. “You can’t go around doing that to anyone that angers you… ”
The old woman just continued to chuckle. “You amuse me,” she turned around. “Unfortunately, I’m no longer an active puppet master or maker, nor do I take students….”
She walked away from Kushina and out the door. “You’re simply out of luck dear.”
“Tough break lady,” some random guy said. “Chiyo-baa-sama doesn’t really do anything these days for anyone.”
“What’ll we do?” Naruto asked quietly. “We can’t just give up.”
Kushina closed her eyes and smiled, she wouldn’t give up that easily. “Of course not, Nar—” she was cut off by the sound of explosives coming from down the street, followed by screams. The clacking of wood came was the only thing that stood out.
“Naru, stay inside here!” she said, before running outside to see about five Suna ANBU fighting shinobi with Suna forehead protectors and their puppets. Chiyo’s body was lying on the ground, unmoving. When one of the civilians was running past her, Kushina grabbed the woman’s wrists and asked what happened.
“Some members of the Puppet Brigade attacked Chiyo-baa-sama, after telling her to hand over some scrolls! She refused and suddenly there was a puppet attacking from under the ground! She stopped it with her strings but the arm shot off and stole her scrolls! After that more guys and puppets came and the fighting started to escalate—!”
“WHERE’S MY CHILD!” another woman screamed.
Kushina was starting to get worried, and tried to think of a way to help. She could pass herself off as a mercenary shinobi, but it would cause them to doubt her since she was supposed to be a civilian. Plus, the air was so dry that the amount of condensation to use an effective spiraling water ball would take too long, and jumping into the fight all of a sudden could get her targeted by ANBU by mistake.
“BOOM!” a loud crash came from an alley, and Kushina recognized her son’s chakra by heart despite not being a sensor-nin, since it was currently flowing through her body. She took off to go get her son and missed the Chiyo laying on the ground becoming a pile of sand and scattering in the wind.
Naruto wanted to see what was going on, despite his mother’s warning, so he watched from the back entrance of the restaurant they were in. It was then that he saw a man with a little girl in his arms, running around a corner. His ears twitched once his enhanced hearing heard the little girl sobbing silently for someone to help her, before being knocked out and another voice said something about the old lady’s scrolls.
The guy had grabbed a little girl during the commotion to use as a hostage, after his partner’s puppets grabbed the scrolls. Chiyo had some impressive techniques, and for her not to teach them how to make or use those ten special puppets of hers was as good as treason to them. He and his partners knew they couldn’t return and that they’d become missing-nin, but they figured they could aid Suna from the shadows instead, and if taking a hostage was necessary, then so be it.
Suna placed the importance of missions above all else, and the ones caught up in the fighting knew that they had to by some time for him to get away. If they died, then they knew they did what was for the best. The mission came before their lives, and this was their mission.
Naruto chased after the man. He was afraid that if he went to get help, the man could escape or use the child as a hostage…plus he felt confident that he could take the man down after he handled the missing-nin from Ame with moderate ease. But brute force was out of the question, it had to be a sneak attack.
He made three shadow clones and transformed two into rocks and the last into a wooden stick, running behind the man and into the alley. “Wait right there, you bastard!”
The shinobi looked back at Naruto, who threw both the rocks past his head. The man sighed, pocketing the two stolen scrolls and pulling out a storage one with a new puppet. The puppet clacked and its chest popped open to reveal dozens of poison dipped spikes before charging at him.
Naruto threw the wooden stick over the puppet, flying straight towards the shinobi. The man shook his head. The child thought he could stop him with a few rocks and a stick.
Too bad kid, if you just ignored me th—his thoughts were cut off in an instant, as the wooden stick the thought he dodged became a clone… and smashed his face in with his knee. He thought it was simple stick that he could avoid and didn’t even consider using a substitution. Before he could get his puppet in finish the boy off, a voice came from behind him, and a spike in chakra.
“WIND STYLE: AIR BULLET!” a second clone called out before firing condensed chakra bullet at the puppet. The real Naruto jumped into the air and braced himself, right before the attack landed.
The alley way was hit hard and dust flew into the air once the condensed chakra ruptured and exploded out with enough concussive force to slam Naruto into a pile of rubble that was once a dead end wall. The clone used a good potion its chakra for the attack since Naruto wasn’t sure how durable the puppet was, and it had dissipated once it was hit by the backlash. The puppet was just splinters and scrap steel.
The child and Chiyo’s scrolls had been spared by the attack thanks to Naruto’s planning. In that instant the man looked up at him, the second rock became the third clone and grabbed the child, while his first clone grabbed the scrolls and both ran past the second clone and out the alley, not seeing the figure standing on the rooftops watching.
Naruto chuckled in delight for pulling off such a well-executed plan enough to fool the man.
“You little brat!” the shinobi screamed, jumping out of the dust cloud with a tanto in his hands. He had every intention of ending Naruto’s life. The boy had to move… he couldn’t.
Naruto looked down to register what happened to his body as time slowed down. The shrapnel from the debris had embedded itself into his stomach and legs, cutting open his shirt, and pierced deeply enough cause moderate bleeding, but it hadn’t cut into a major blood vessel. The healing chakra from the fox could heal it in less than five minutes… he didn’t have five seconds.
Don’t freeze up, he tried to tell himself, as the tanto began its descent.
Move or you’ll die, he couldn’t concentrate like this. He couldn’t use substitution like this!
The sound of flesh being pierced rang in the boy’s ears, and the smell of iron from blood and steel colliding overpowered his nose. Blood fell over his forehead and slowly oozed its way down into the open space of his gaping mouth. He laid there shivering…
As the man’s empty eyes met his own.
“That was a close one,” an old voice reached his ears.
Naruto was in shock, so he didn’t notice the chakra strings attached to dead man’s hands. With a quick tug from the puppet master, the man who manipulated a puppet seconds ago, became a puppet that slid the tanto between his ribcage and into his heart.
The one pulling the strings was none other than Chiyo herself.
The world began to tunnel and the sight of those empty eyes would forever be engraved on the boy mind. The last thing Naruto heard before he passed out was his mother’s voice.
“Do you have any privacy seals, dear?” Chiyo asked Kushina.
Kushina nodded and pulled out a complicated, customized sealing array, far beyond what she normally sold. It had a formula for disturbing sound waves by distorting the air it traveled through, while releasing alternating frequencies of chakra to disrupt the use of any sight-based technique like the Byakugan. If any outside chakra came into contact with the seal’s chakra, it would alter them immediately.
It took Kushina over a month of studying and trial and error at Uzushio to learn how to make the seal properly, setting aside several shadow clones to speed up the process.
Chiyo planted the seal on the wall and pulsed chakra into it. “That’s better. You truly are gifted child… this seal is a step above my own.”
Kushina didn’t pay the compliment any mind. She just had to get her baby clean and take care of him and… and…
“You can lay him down on the couch—the blood was my fault anyway,” the old lady said nonchalantly. “I’ll fetch the basin, some washcloths, towels…” she trailed off.
Kushina laid Naruto on the couch, and took off his torn and bloodstained shirt. The shrapnel was ejected the moment the healing kicked in, and there were no visible marks anymore, so it was probably just the shock of it all that made him faint.
“I told the guards that I would heal the boy and give a full statement about what happened before I dismissed them,” the old woman said, as she bought the material using her chakra strings. “When they wouldn’t leave, I showed them how versatile my strings were and reminded them I still had some power over the council. Your son will not be bothered for the remainder of your stay.”
“You have my gratitude, Chiyo-sama.” Kushina said, as she bowed politely.
“You can drop the honorifics dear. I’m too old to care,” she chuckled, before calming down and speaking in a more sincere voice. “Was it his first time… seeing someone die like that?”
Kushina nodded and ran her fingers through his hair as tenderly as she could. “He’ll be fine… all of us go through it at some point in our careers. But… for it to happen to my little boy… ”
“Indeed… it was probably better that he go through it now than on the battlefield… same for you. Our careers tend to lead to short life spans,” she said, not adding … with a few exceptions of course.
Kushina dipped the rag in the water basin and twisted it, slowly wiping the blood away from her child with tears in her eyes.
“I admired his courage, but if I was a second slower, your child would not have survived. Why did your son go so far to save a child he didn’t know? He is not one of us.”
Kushina shook her head and kept wiping away at her son. She had finally cleaned his beautiful sleeping face. “We may be strangers, but Naruto couldn’t just stand by and let that happen.”
In Chiyo’s hands were the scrolls that Naruto retrieved from the thief. As she watched from the rooftop, she saw his mother quickly grab the child and the scrolls before the two clones dispelled themselves before they drew any attention. Kushina tossed the scrolls to her and grabbed her son, getting ready to flee before she told them she would handle the fallout. She told ANBU that the child chased the man foolishly and was about to be attacked by a puppet when she interfered.
She figured they were probably missing-nin who wanted to settle down without worrying about anyone trying to hunt them. Truthfully, she would’ve been content with losing the scrolls since they no longer held importance to her at this point in her life, but in the wrong hands…”These scrolls contain years of my studies and notes, as well as my greatest ten puppets. You would have probably benefited more from them than trying to learn only basics from me.”
“We wouldn’t go that far,” Kushina said softly. “Neither one of us would forgive ourselves if we stole something important from someone who didn’t wrong us.”
“… Tell me about the boy there,” Chiyo pointed towards the sleeping Naruto. “I saw the seal on his stomach when he was healing himself, and I know that much chakra isn’t normally possible for one so young… I’ve seen his kind before.”
“Will I have your word that this will stay between us?” Kushina asked. Chiyo nodded her head. “My son was made a Jinchuuriki when he was born, as a last resort. We hoped that he would be seen as a hero, we didn’t want to think the worse possible solution… That he’d be persecuted because of it and suffer because of it.”
“I take it that both of you are using some form of disguises and alias right now?” Kushina nodded her head. “Good, the less I know the better. Tell me why you sought me out.”
Kushina finished wiping her boy clean and put on the spare shirt Chiyo bought, before she showed the scroll detailing the puppet she needed made. To be blunt, it was very similar to making puppet out of humans in some aspects. But while human puppets were just shells that could borrow the skills they had in life, this actually used someone’s chakra to shape the doll and store their consciousness inside of it.
You could theoretically raise the dead with it. The materials weren’t just easily available, but it was still possible to gather them with enough finances. The biggest problem was that the sealing arrays needed for it were so finesse and delicate, if you made one mistake in placing the seals, it would be ruined for good. There was only one village that had such proficiency…
“It is things like this that got your village targeted in the first place,” Chiyo chuckled, but there was no malice or ill-intent in her words. “There are many people who would commit the greatest of sins to get their hands on this, including the foolish Kazekage. Lucky for you, I’m not one of them.”
She handed the scroll back to Kushina. “Only show it to those you can trust, and never those with ambition or suffering from the pain of losing someone they cared about. Otherwise you’ll run the risk of repeating history.”
Kushina only nodded silently, rubbing her sweet son’s face.
“I will get you the materials that I can, but it may take years to do it subtly enough to not draw attention. Despite not officially taking on students anymore, I know of both a private place where you can train and a young girl who would be helpful towards teaching the boy how to use his wind chakra, and I’ll teach you the basics of puppetry myself,” she paused as Kushina looked up in shock, “on one condition, of course.”
“If it is within my ability, I’ll do so.” Kushina replied.
Chiyo put a sad smile on her face. “I have long since withdrawn from my village’s affairs after I was forced to do something I regret to this day.” She flicked her wrists and chakra strings flew out and attached themselves to the dirty washcloths, basin, Naruto’s old shirt, and the towels.
“That man should never have been made Kazekage,” she shook her head in disappointment. “Instead of allowing the raccoon dog to remain sealed away in the kettle, he did the one thing no parent should have done to such a small child for only creating a weapon… ”
Chiyo looked at Naruto with sad eyes, as if recalling a past memory. It was then Kushina realized what happened. “He used his newborn child?”
“It wasn’t surprising really… most of the tailed-beasts are sealed inside those who they feel would be most loyal to the village. If they are lucky, they only face discrimination from the shadows. But that man… he actively encouraged people to fear the boy, even going so far as to have the only person who outright loved the boy drive him to the very edge.”
Chiyo shed a single tear. “He was completely broken after that…”
Kushina was absolutely livid. She couldn’t be there for Naruto when he was suffering, to hold him tightly and tell him everything would be alright. She would regret that for the rest of her second life.
“Having proficiency in sealing is a necessary skill in making puppets from scratch,” Chiyo sighed. “I was the best at making puppets. But what that foolish man failed to realize was that people weren’t puppets… they were much more fragile.”
Chiyo just stood there in silence; her eyes were as still as empty pools of sorrow. Kages have to make decisions for the good of the village. But if that were the case, she could probably understand.
“I lost my faith in the village after seeing what I had done,” Chiyo finally continued. “Since then, that man has made one foolish decision after another, from antagonizing the Daimyo to meeting with that man from Oto.”
Chiyo flicked her wrist and strings flew out. She had a scroll in her hands in the next second. “These are the details of the seal I used on the boy,” she muttered, as she handed the scroll to Kushina.
“Though my pride would never call for me to rely on another person, I know I am at my limit. My only request is that you help me fix the seal on the child, so he no longer suffers and can sleep again at night.”
Kushina looked over the details of the seal and then looked back at the woman. “How long do we have?”
Chiyo smiled. “Two months, at the last portion of the Chuunin Exams.”
Kushina looked at her son’s peaceful sleeping face, as if he could tell the blood had been wiped clean. Even though he would probably have nightmare about that scene, or when he takes his first life in battle, every child should be able to sleep in peace.
“It’ll be my pleasure.”
Wind Style: Spiraling Wind Ball – Gathers wind chakra laced air and spins it, before shooting it. The power varies on how long the user inhales.
Wind Style: Air Bullet – Condenses wind chakra and fires it in ball shaped bursts, the explosive force is determined by the amount of chakra condensed.
Water Style: Spiraling Water Ball – Gathers water chakra laced condensation from the air and spins it, before shooting it. The power varies on how long the user inhales.
Water Style: Froth Prison – Sprays water onto the ground and begins a chemical reaction that creates foam, it solidifies based on the amount of chakra used.
Chakra Chain: Emergence – Allows Kushina to generate chakra chains away from her body.
And so, it begins…
I tried to get across what a parent would go through had their child gone through the ringer. The world of Naruto is awesome and all…but technically, they are child soldiers at that age, and Kushina only met her son for a few minutes…twelve years and four months ago.
Chapter 1: Training in the Land of Whirlpools
Author’s Notes: Revised as of 1/2/15
At the Land of Whirlpools
It had been only four months since Naruto reached the Land of Whirlpools and the fallen village of Uzushio. Using a special puppet, he pulled out his mother’s chakra and she was given a physical vessel to inhabit. There were a couple of conditions, such as Naruto having to transfer his own chakra into a seal on her stomach whenever she ran low, otherwise she would vanish, but it was worth it.
“Alright kids, we’re going to get started with the daily routine. Remember, those who complete their training or get the furthest every hour or so should dispel themselves before we start again so the experience goes to each of you.”
“Yes ma’am,” about a thousand or so voices responded back. She smirked upon seeing her sons beginning their training.
When Naruto was asked to demonstrate what he had learned in the Academy, he showed her. She prompt told him that she was going to introduce those instructors to her fist and then the floor. They had sabotaged the boy academically in more ways than one.
His taijutsu needed a lot of work, his chakra control was shot, and the boy wasn’t too bright knowledge-wise. Kushina wasn’t a Nara, but she at least knew enough about history and the world. Not to mention her taijutsu was formidable.
Thank the Sage of Six Paths for shadow clones. The experience sharing trait was a blessing.
For the first month, Naruto would make several hundred shadow clones a day, increasing the amount every week. He started out with about five hundred clones and as his chakra reserves and control increased with training, he could make more.
Next, the clones would be split into groups.
A few dozen clones would be sent to scour the entire island for food. Even though they had some emergency rations, a shinobi must be able to fend for themselves in the wilderness. A few would hunt for small animals or birds that dotted the island, while others would start fishing with their home made rods.
One group consisting of ten clones would stay in the underground shelter to read up on various subjects. Given his short attention span, that was a punishment worse than death and they complained… until her hair split into nine sections and chains started popping out of her body.
At times like this she wished she knew more about seals that affected the brain.
In the scrolls she found, there were instructions to make mental focusing easier by placing a temporary seal on the clones that would focus their attention on the subject matters at hand. It used chakra to activate the part of the brain that registers when something is pleasurable and fun. She didn’t know enough about human psychology or anatomy to risk doing that to anyone, let alone her son.
Next, they had about three groups of clones each working on various training exercises. The first group would do the wall climbing exercise on the tallest standing pillars left in the ruins. The second group would do the water walking exercise on the river. The third group would focus on chakra control exercise that Kushina called “Spiraling Tower”.
She basically had them pick blades of grass and balanced them on one finger, before adding another blade on top that one. Naruto would then spin the blades of grass without either one falling off using chakra. At first he only had to spin them, but then he needed to make them spin at the same speed, and then have them spin in different directions at the same time.
Another group of three clones would work on training Naruto in using his Transformation and Substitution jutsu. He needed to learn to alter his weight and mass with each transformation, so he could start using it in conjunction with his clones by transforming them into things like rocks or weapons. He also needed to speed up his substitution… so she used him for a lot of target practice.
The remaining clones would be used to practice memorizing the katas from a form of taijutsu native to their clan, based around circular movements to dodge, block, and strike. The clones gained muscle memory of the forms and then the original and Kushina would spar. She wouldn’t hold back either.
He was covered in bruises every time.
Kushina had also tweaked Naruto’s seal, since she and Minato were in a rush and cut off some of the necessary functions of the seal.
The seal was formatted with an updated filtration system to clean the chakra more efficiently, and deal with the poisonous effects. She also rigged him with a stronger healing factor by compartmentalizing a section of the fox’s yang chakra to be used only for healing him. He didn’t need to tap into the raw power of the fox anymore to heal quickly.
The fox was whining about how she was essentially cutting a piece of it off and purifying it, but she shut it up by changing the sewer-like prison to a more open, natural space. It didn’t appreciate having a few of her chains as a leash though. She didn’t really like the natural disaster, but it did save Naruto’s life in the village and they both wanted the masked man dead.
Kushina also trained in mastering as many of her clan’s techniques as she could. Her chakra was keeping her anchored to the doll, so she could never go below a certain amount or she’d vanish for good. However, this was easy enough to get around, as Kushina could slowly convert Naruto’s lingering chakra into her own. She simply compartmentalized the chakra into regular use, emergency use, and life support.
As a backup, she created seals to hold chakra in any item she wanted and could therefore store any chakra that she didn’t use before Naruto refilled her reserves. The puppet body looked and worked like a human’s, so it could only hold so much. This way she could refill her reserves on the run or leave a few behind in case something happened.
She could also make a few shadow clones, which she used to study and train along with Naruto. She wasn’t really too good at ninjutsu and this gave her a chance to study up on some techniques. If Naruto continued this level of training, he would truly shine.
She was so proud of how he could grasp some semi-complicated seals now.
“Naruto, I want you to look at this seal and tell me what it does.” Kushina said, as she handed him a square sheet of paper. It had several circles on it, connected by lines to various symbols, which were isolated by enclosed markings. The borders of the paper had countless line of sealing formula, serving as the base of the seal, to break down the chakra it is imbued with.
He examined it for a good ten minutes before speaking. “It has the basic elements on it, along with several bloodline elements, and… I’m not sure which these two are, but it determines the user’s element by sealing it inside the seal and then dividing it into properties… I think?”
Kushina smiled at him. “The two you didn’t recognize are yin and yang elements, the balance of physical and spirit energy. Still you managed to understand it in less than an hour, very good Naruto. Now, tell me what you can do with this seal?”
Naruto scratched his head and scrunched up his face in thought. “Umm, well you could test for someone’s element with it, but there’s chakra paper for that… I’ve got nothing.”
“First, this seal can be used to identify if you have an element-based bloodline or your affinity. It’s better to use chakra paper as the base for the seal, and then use the proper sequence of code to create a formula to break down the chakra and sort it into the individual elements alone. The other reason is because it can serve as a lock that can only be opened by a certain combination of chakra that belongs to the user. Now, tell me what else I can use it for.”
“Uh,” Naruto rubbed his head. “Chakra-based Traps… and Tracking Seals?”
“Yep. Seal someone’s chakra inside it and use it in conjunction with a tracking array, or set it to activate on touch and sample the chakra of the person who touched it. If they match, BOOM!” she said, while placing her finger on the symbol in the center of the seal a pouring her chakra into it.
From the center, a shimmering blue line traveled along a path to the symbol of water. “So, you have a water affinity?” Naruto asked.
“I wasn’t really good at ninjutsu so I never really developed it. But while I do have an affinity for water, I usually use my chakra chains by manipulating yang chakra on a higher level than most people since my chakra has a special quality geared towards it.”
She then took her finger off the paper and had Naruto place his on it. He had a wind affinity.
“How about we both work on elemental training together?” she asked him with a smile that would melt the hearts of most men. Naruto nodded enthusiastically.
Back to the Present
Kushina wanted to start Naruto on learning her Chakra Chain jutsu, which used shape manipulation and yang chakra. She would divide the concentration of spiritual and physical energy that made up chakra into a large amount of yang chakra, which gave the chains a physical presence. The form would be kept in place by shape manipulation. It was like setting the mold, the pouring in the liquid steel, and then cooling it down to a solid mass, all at once.
Anyway, since the underground shelter had scrolls on element manipulation, they both decided to start training in it during the second month. They both started by working on cutting and soaking small sheets of scroll paper they found, and then planned to move up to using elemental chakra flow on things like weapons.
Kushina also found an interesting application of water chakra through her study of the scrolls, in contrast to Naruto’s wind chakra.
By the middle of the third month, they both could quickly cut and soak an object in about two seconds through pure chakra flow alone. They could dedicate more time towards it later, maybe even getting a second element in practice. But first they wanted to practice some water style and wind style jutsu.
Naruto had gained a bit of muscle on his body after all the training. His clothing had changed, given he lost his previous clothes to throw ANBU off his tail. He wore some simple, dark shinobi pants, a shirt, and combat sandals that they found in the storage room. He complained, but Kushina simply said she was in the same boat until they found a tailor.
She had also gotten back into shape within these four months, losing her excess weight from the time she sealed her chakra into Naruto’s seal, and was now back to being a fit kunoichi. Naruto had once made a comment regarding her weight. He wasn’t very well versed in common sense either at that point.
One training session later, he swore never to question women when it came to bodily matters, and the fox was laughing his nine tails off.
Despite their relentless training, the pair would take a day off every week to start cleaning up the village as best they could. That included burying any skeletons they came across. Kushina cried more than once in the process, given that her clan was fairly big and she occasionally found child-sized remains. They would also inspect the buildings to see if anything that could be used was left behind. They found some slightly used kunai and shuriken, chakra paper, and other trinkets.
These four months were the best of Naruto’s life, and Kushina was happy as well with helping to groom her son to be a respectable shinobi.
“Huh?” Naruto said, his jaw dropped from his mother’s last statement.
“My chakra wasn’t the only one sealed inside. Your father’s is inside you as well. He left a portion his chakra inside, as well as dealing with the yin chakra of the fox.”
“A pointless endeavor,” the fox said inside Naruto’s head. “My chakra will reform in time. There’s no way to kill our kind short of Yin-Yang release or merging us into our original form. And that would be far worse for this world… ”
“Then, if we use another puppet…” Naruto started before she shook her head.
“Unfortunately, there was only one. To make the puppet you used we’ll need materials from Suna and Konoha, as well as contacting someone skilled at make puppets, human anatomy, and some other stuff. Plus, I’ll need to study sealing jutsu a lot more before we can even try and summon Minato. The person who made this one was an even better seal master than most special-jounin, in a village that specialized in sealing.”
Looking at her saddened son, she sighed and then told him, “We’ll head out tomorrow to start gathering the materials and knowledge we need.”
“I thought we were leaving after a year?” Naruto asked, before taking a bite out of the grilled fish.
“I originally planned to, but we need supplies and you need to interact with more people than just your mother. It might give you a complex. But to be honest, between our shadow clones, your training is advancing smoothly and we can train on the road.”
“How are we gonna get there? I’m kinda a missing-nin, remember?”
“Since we shouldn’t be seen entering from the port, we’ll make a raft to get us near the mainland and then walk on the surface of the water to go the rest of the way. On the way back, hopefully we’ll have enough money to buy a small boat. As for your appearance, using a transformation won’t be good enough, but that’s what seals are for. I’ll have you make an appearance changing seal as a final exam.”
“What specifications?” Naruto sighed.
“One that can change your hair color and your eye color will do for now. Although when we get to Konoha, we’ll upgrade it to hide your whisker marks and your chakra signature, in case we run into any Hyuuga. While we’re on the subject, what are the key factors on changing your face, eyes and hair?”
“Alter the melanin for the iris pigmentation… thing for the eyes, the two types of melanin in the hair follicles for hair, and the stratum corn… thingy for epidermis of the face. Set the seal to use chakra to release minute amounts geared towards the altercations without producing too much or too little, and making sure it is evenly distributed.”
“Hm… close enough, but get the terminology right in case we run across some place to sell our spare seals. I want us to make enough money and connections so we can start planning towards rebuilding the village.”
“… Mom?” Naruto said silently. “Will the two us alone really be able to completely rebuild everything?”
“No, Naruto,” she shook her head, “we can’t do it alone. Getting recognized as a village will be nearly impossible in such a short time, which is why we need to make connections in high places and among the common people. Our village was destroyed because it was attacked by multiple villages that feared our seals, and Konoha was fighting its own war.”
“We’ll need shinobi to defend our home, an economy to finance our growth, demolishing the rest of the rubble and rebuilding the village… Naruto, to be blunt we’re going to have a long road ahead of us.”
“Ahh, all of this making my head hurt,” the boy cried.
“It’s not too bad. It would be best if we started selling things we find, and our seals, in a village. Maybe Suna or Kiri would be best, and then there are a bunch of smaller villages. Then we hire someone to come out here and demolish the old ruins and build up a few places for living in, although we’ll have to keep quiet about it. After that, maybe we could train a few shinobi who are missing-nin, but not wanted for anything like needless murder and let them come here… but then there’s the risk of them betraying us… ”
Kushina went on and on about her plan, and it was well thought out. But in the end, it would take too long going alone and they’d have to travel between the mainland and the island a lot of times…
But that was fine with Naruto. Traveling with someone you cared about beat the hell out of a village full of people that loathe you.
The Next Day
Naruto and Kushina had left the remains of the village. After Kushina revealed her village had a method of temporarily halting some of the whirlpools protecting the island naturally, they both just started running across the ocean since it would take too long by raft.
Even with the chakra they had, it was impossible to accomplish in only a single sprint. So they pulled the raft out of a storage scroll when they got tired and slept on it for a few hours. When they woke up, they’d eat some of their rations before Naruto refilled his mother’s chakra supply, and then they went right back to running.
They made land fall about a mile from the port soon enough.
Naruto had applied his appearance changing seal to give himself red hair and green eyes, and they both hid their Uzushio forehead protectors. They needed to mask themselves as civilian for now. Any bandit that was dumb enough to attack them was dumb enough to pay for it.
They rented a room at a hotel and rested until morning. Kushina went to the port bazaar, since it would be a great place to stock up on supplies and sell some of the things they didn’t need in the long run. Naruto was just happy he could finally eat some ramen and took off toward the nearest stand. It wasn’t as good as Ichiraku’s, but it had been so long…
“Welcome…” a man with shady glasses that could rival an Aburame’s said, as Kushina entered into a rundown building. He had things on display that weren’t present in normal stores or stands. She was sure enough that this guy was dealing in black market goods.
“Hello,” she said politely. “I won’t waste your time, so I’ll just ask. I’m looking to get rid of a few things and obtain a copy of the Unofficial Bingo Book.”
He pulled out a slip of paper with a bunch of seals on it. “Touch this seal and don’t use any chakra. If you lie or use chakra, this seal will kill you. Do you understand?”
He looked her up and down, watching her posture, foot position, breathing pattern, basically any sign she was ANBU from a village after his head. “Are you a kunoichi?”
“Yes,” she answered honestly. “I am sealing expert who is not affiliated with any major hidden villages.”
“Hm… your posture carries a little of Konoha, but not in the style of their major clans or recent graduates.”
“I haven’t been in Konoha in over a decade,” she responded calmly. “You won’t find me in the Bingo Book because they believe I’m dead.”
The man continued on asking several questions to trip her into lying, but she didn’t tell him anything that wasn’t at least partly true. He finally relented after their deadly game of twenty questions. “… Show me what you want to pitch, but if you make any sudden movements… ”
“Yeah, yeah. By the way, the seals in your shop need a lot of work. I might be willing to make new ones for you, if you’re interested.”
The man arched an eyebrow. “… Go on.”
Twenty-minutes later, Kushina walked out of the shady store with her hands on the Unofficial Bingo Book, suited for bounty hunters who didn’t mind going someplace else other than a village to get rid of their bounties… or assassination targets. To be honest, she just wanted to see if there were any missing-nin that she could convert to help them, low bounties wanted for just running away or a minor crime.
She really wasn’t happy when she saw her son in the Bingo Book as a C-rank target. Consider how the council had some power behind them and he was a genin, she realized that Sarutobi had no choice if the council kept pressing him. At least it was a low rank and capture-only order.
She also got rid of some of the things she took from the shelter to barter with. She needed the cash, and she didn’t want to sell to a normal merchant since there was a chance of having it traced back to the dead village. She couldn’t draw attention just yet, and the one thing about the black market you can count on is the difficulty of tracing anything sold there.
The man in the shop, who only identified himself as Kurogane, was well informed when it came to his wares. He tried to test her again by offering her things that were low quality or would interest an ANBU, since he knew the last test wasn’t fool-proof. After that secondary test was finished, they began their business transactions.
She bought a map that had the secret routes used by shinobi of various villages, including the big five, a book for medic-nin chakra control from Konoha, several scrolls on wind style and water style ninjutsu, and even a few on specialty ninjutsu done using yin and yang chakra. All of these were top-grade goods that should never leave certain clans or villages. Kushina would later add seals to make sure they weren’t stolen from her or read by a third party without their permission.
Needless to say, Kurogane didn’t say how he “acquired” these goods, and Kushina didn’t ask, although she made a mental note to thank Jiraiya on teaching her some of the more subtle and darker aspects of the shinobi world. He was a master spy after all. It still wouldn’t stop her from kicking his ass for not watching over Naruto though.
Somewhere in the Land of Fire
Jiraiya was talking with one of his contacts when a sudden feeling of dread washed over him.
“… Why do feel like I’m going to get my ass kicked in a few months?” he said while shaking uncontrollably.
Back to Kushina
Anyway, she gave him an upgraded version of his testing seal.
Unlike the previous version that sent a backlash if chakra was stored in it and had a basic diagnostic jutsu woven in to monitor the sign of stress from lying, her version included her seal that was used to test their affinities. It broke down chakra into elements and recorded signatures, so that if someone came in after using a transformation based on a client that left, or a genjutsu to control others, they wouldn’t get by him due to the high traces on yin chakra found in those particular jutsus.
Then she updated his storage seals, and security seals. Kurogane was pleased with the work and offered her a fair amount for her goods and a few extra seals to sell. Before she was getting ready to leave, there was still a question he wanted to ask…
“… You’re an Uzumaki aren’t you? I’ve had a few customers over the years with the same hair color and sealing proficiency… although yours is impressive even by their standards at the time.”
She turned to face him. “Yes, I am… I have been looking for members of my clan. Could we make another arrangement?”
He nodded. “Let me guess, contact you if I meet with any and set up a connection?”
She pulled out a scroll and gave it to him. “This is a scroll with seals embedded inside it. Anything written on here and then has chakra applied to it will appear in the scroll I’m carrying. It can also share items through a combination of a summoning and storage seals.”
Kurogane took the scroll. “I hope you don’t mind if I use this to contact you with more…business offers in the future. I move around a lot and I have a feeling that your products will be much… desired.”
“I’ll be looking forward to it,” she chuckled. “Until the next time, Kurogane-san.”
“Indeed… what should I refer to you as?”
She smirked at him. “How about Shiokitsu?”
“Very well. Until next time, Shiokitsu-san.”
After her dirty dealings, Kushina stocked up living essentials, as well as some clothing material to take to a tailor for some clothing for Naruto and herself. He was still on a feeding frenzy at that poor ramen vendor’s stand. The guy was crying at this point, trying to keep up with feeding him.
Later that night, they both took the chance to get accustomed to their new casual clothes, and more importantly, their combat clothing.
Naruto now had black combat sandals and pants, an orange t-shirt and a light-blue hooded jacket with a spiraling wave at the center. He also had a pair of blue-fingerless gloves for his hands. Kushina was wearing a short-sleeved mesh shirt under a light-blue kimono-like blouse with a white spiraling wave pattern at the bottom, held together with a black obi. She had a dark skirt with shorts underneath them, just in case she had to fight a pervert…or Jiraiya.
It looked great with their Uzushio forehead protectors.
They both then dropped onto their beds, after setting a few security seals in their room. Robbing travelers while they slept wasn’t exactly uncommon, even in hotels. Their gear was stored in storage scrolls that were sealed by their own locking seals, but it wouldn’t stop some people.
Either way, the pair would set out for Suna in the morning.
The Third Hokage sighed as he looked over the reports.
He had sent several teams to retrieve Naruto, but after he ditched his clothes he basically fell off the map. He had the Inuzuka clan members try to track his scent, but after that last shadow clone barrage his scent was everywhere. There had been no sign of him since he vanished, which usually meant one thing when it was a genin and a child…
If another village discovered he was a container for the Kyuubi, they would basically draft him into service. If they figured out his heritage, then Iwa would call for his head on a pike. If it were bandits… well, he’d probably be fine.
Still, it worried the old man to no end that the boy vanished, although he could understand why. After that fiasco, word had gotten around about his “condition” and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t silence the current generation of genin from knowing the truth. Several of them reacted as expected… not the Hyuuga girl of course, but he wouldn’t have been welcomed at the Academy anymore.
The damn civilian council literally threw a party once they knew he ran away. Danzo was pissed about losing a future asset, and the shinobi council knew that it was a blow to their forces, although the clan heads showed the boy some sympathy knowing who his parents were. Too bad they never acted on it.
Regardless, at this point they knew they needed to put him in the Bingo Book and settled for desertion at a C-rank, but a modest bounty to be paid if he was brought back alive.
Sarutobi also contacted Jiraiya, who got right to work in searching for the boy, knowing Akatsuki would jump at the chance. He also received a tip about Orochimaru planning something during the Chuunin Exams that were three months away. He asked Jiraiya to find Tsunade as well if he could.
He just prayed that the boy was alright.
Shiokitsu = (Tide Fox)
Kuro(me)gane = (Black Shades)
Alright, now that we got that out of the way, let me start by saying that Naruto will be traveling with his mother to gain the necessary allies to rebuild their clan’s village. Most of the Konoha 12 will not gain major roles in the story… for now. Instead I’m throwing in some filler characters, other tailed-beast hosts, and OCs.
Pairings haven’t been determined yet, but there will be no incest at all. Naruto x Hinata might have some ground given how it started, but for the first part of the planned story their interactions are limited and Naruto is still technically a missing-nin.
Neither Naruto nor Kushina will be unstoppable machines of destruction, or at least I don’t plan for them to be, but Naruto’s first solution will not be to spam clones until the enemy stop moving nor will it be Rasengan all the time.
Advent of the Spiraling Ninja: Prologue
Author’s Notes: Revised as of 1/2/15
At the Ninja Academy
I lost myself in the crimson haze.
A group of drunken idiots attacked me outside of the Academy, the day after I became a genin. They were all chuunin, meaning they were dangerous, and while Iruka-sensei was busy fending three of them off, another lunged at me from behind. He had a kunai drawn, intending to plunge it into the base of my spinal cord.
It should have been a fatal strike…
“Naruto-kun!” cried a girl named Hinata, as she took the kunai to her back and fell to the ground. She protected me, even though I never thought anyone besides Iruka-sensei, Old Man, and the nice people at the Ramen shop would. In shock, I couldn’t move as the man attempted to kill me again.
Before the kunai embedded itself into my forehead, I found myself inside a sewer. There were iron bars acting like a prison, the darkness hiding everything but a pair of feral eyes and a sinister grin. Staring at me, the creature spoke.
“Kit… call upon my power,” the dark voice said. “Do you intend to die after that female sacrificed herself for you? It will not happen again.“
I just couldn’t figure out why it happened. Hinata-chan and I never really spoke before, and we weren’t close, so why? “Why did she sacrifice herself for me?”
The voice chuckled. “You are truly blind, chasing after that pink-haired, shrill, fangirl. I’ve smelled the purple-haired kit through you; she is constantly lurking around you, releasing pheromones. She wished to be your mate, if I had to guess.”
“Hinata-chan… she liked me?” I muttered. She never said anything, but she never picked on me. She was like a wallflower: growing on the wall, but never standing out. And she was cut down because of me, plucked before she could bloom.
They. Would. Pay for this.
Everything grew blood red, and hatred filled me. I could take the constant beatings, being robbed and treated like trash, even being called a demon. But they crossed the damn line this time.
The creature lying in the shadows chuckled. “Ironic. That man saved this pathetic village, and all he asked was for you to be treated as a hero. But year after year, they treat you worse and worse. Why should you serve this village?”
“N-no…” I muttered, trying to calm down. I wanted them to accept me. I wanted them to treat me kindly, like the Old Man and Iruka and—
“It will never happen here, kit. They fear you because of me. Their fear controls them. I had no intention of ever attacking this village at first, but the masked one was responsible for that. Yet, I have come to understand that few people will ever accept us. Only the one who created us could ever do so, and not since then have I ever trusted another one of your kind.”
“Wait…” I opened my eyes in shock and took a step back from the bars. “You’re the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox! The Kyuubi! This is all because of you!”
“Oh, how so?” the fox chuckled. “I didn’t ask to be sealed inside you. I didn’t want to attack your home. I’m not the one who tormented you, am I? It was all them.”
I honestly tried to refute the fox’s words, but the sad thing was they were all true. I fell to my knees, creating a ripple in the water below me. They feared me for something beyond our control.
“Time is running out. I shall give you enough of my power to deal with these fleas. But it will reveal your nature to the others around you; they will hunt you down without mercy. Use it to save your own life and flee from the village, the only option is to stay and die.”
I blinked and saw the kunai coming towards my face once again. It was slow, moving at a pace that even turtles could surpass. I raised my fist and plunged it into the man’s stomach, and he flew. His body flew into the Academy building, sending him through the concrete that formed the exterior, his legs dangling from the hole he made.
Everyone was silent and watching me, as I turned to face the three that Iruka-sensei was having trouble with. In a blur, my elongated nails became claws and tore into their flesh, fresh blood splattering my outfit. They fell to the ground in pain, clawing at the wounds I gave them.
“Iruka-sensei,” I said in a slightly distorted voice. “Make sure she lives,” I said, pointing to the injured Hinata-chan. “And tell the Old Man… ‘I’m Sorry’… and ‘Good Bye’.”
Before he could respond, I kicked off the ground and took to the rooftops, leaving cracked earth beneath my takeoff point. The world around me blurred, as my vision shifted to match the speed I was moving. Passing the gate that led out of Konoha, I entered the surrounding forest and simply ran as far as I could.
Outside the Village
The fox finally spoke up, when I was a good distance away. “Sharpen your senses, kit. There are many pursuers coming. You fate will not be kind if they catch you.“
It must’ve been ANBU chasing after me. Forming the cross-seal, I called out “Multi-Shadow Clone Jutsu!” Several pops echoed, as countless clones appeared and scattered throughout the land, running in multiple directions. I didn’t think I could fight any ANBU, I didn’t want to now, but I doubted they could pick me out of all of us.
I learned that I gained the memories of shadow clones once they were dispelled, as several of the ANBU resorted to lethal force. By the time I exhausted the chakra that the fox gave me I had managed to get away from them and hidden myself.
“You can no longer go back to that village, kit. Nor will they stop hunting you. I recall a memory from a previous host, a safe place for you to hide. Your only salvation lies at the ruins of Uzushiogakure, the Village Hidden by the Whirling Tides…” the fox said.
“How do I get there?”
“Head to the Land of Whirlpools, off the coast of the Land of Fire. You should be half way to the port by now, given how far you ran. Tell no one of my presence.”
With those words, I began my journey. I’ll admit that it was stupid of me to trust the fox, but he didn’t want to die and neither did I. They’d kill me if I went back, and so I could only go forward. I wanted to become Hokage so that they’d accept me, but now I realized that it wouldn’t happen. Not now.
At the Ruins of Uzushio
Along the way, I had to steal to survive. The only other way to make money was to gamble, but after winning too much, people had a tendency to try to rob me. I had to use the Transformation jutsu to avoid being caught, and I had to ditch my normal orange clothes to avoid attracting attention.
I was helped by several people, including a fisherman who took me as far as he could to reach the Land of Whirlpools. Needless to say it was surrounded by…well, whirlpools. Good thing the guy was decent at maneuvering the boat. After that, we parted and I watched as he managed to get past the whirlpools once again and left.
As I crossed the emerald green hills that formed a sea of grass, I felt a light breeze on my face that felt wonderful. Once I got to the top of the steep hill I was on, I saw countless broken buildings and stone structures ruined, nothing left behind in one piece. The wind howled as it blew past the remains, as if crying for the lives lost in the destruction. There wasn’t anything salvageable left in the village, no doubt raided after the initial attack or taken by fleeing survivors.
The village was split in the center by a wide river, surrounded by broken pillars with spirals designs similar to the Konoha emblem, with several stones piercing the flowing water. The current met the rocks, and formed small whirlpools.
“You have arrived, kit.” the fox said in a low voice. “I’d imagine this would be a cruel sight for your surviving clan members, who are scattered throughout the world. Nevertheless, the memories of my previous host indicate there is a large whirlpool at the center of the village, in the path of the river. Find it.”
I walked into the ruins and found the whirlpool that the fox was talking about. It was wide enough to fit about five people, rotating clockwise, and was surrounded by about a dozen smaller whirlpools.
“Now, cut yourself and rub the kunai with your blood. Then throw it into the whirlpool.” I did what the fox said, and the main whirlpool began to glow azure blue and rotate counter-clockwise, while the others dissipated from sight. “The fresh blood of the Uzumaki Clan leads the way. Jump in.”
I thought about it for a minute, but I shrugged and jumped in anyway. I had nothing left to lose. It felt like warm water was washing over me, as I sunk into the tunnel of spiraling water. I was gently pulled into a cavern, somewhere underground, where orange flames danced on spiral shaped candles, creating an illuminated path further in.
Deep inside, I found a large building, built into the stone cavern, with the same spiral design as the candles. The entrance door was metal, with a giant seal engraved on it. The seal was a hexagon made of scribbled words, with another spiral in the center. There was a passage underneath it:
This door will only open for the clan of whirlpools.
I cut my hand with another kunai and placed it on the spiral. The emblem lit up with a passive color, and spread to the surrounding scribbles before the door shook. It slowly opened up and revealed the interior of the building. The moment I stepped inside, the door came down and left me in the dark, until several lanterns inside the building suddenly came to life.
Inside the building were emergency rations, bedrooms, supplies, a few weapons, and some scrolls about various things. I saw that some things had been shuffled around and disorganized, meaning that some survivors must have hidden here before leaving the island. In the back of the building was a vault door, which had the same passage as the door did. So, I did the same thing as before and opened it.
Inside were rows of scrolls, each holding techniques and facts about the clan, a few chests with treasure, more weapons and equipment, village headbands, and in the center was a template human puppet with no hair or features, only a seal on its stomach. It was inside an even larger seal on the floor, which circled it.
“Ah, yes…perfect.” the fox whispered. “Place your hand on the doll’s seal and call out the name I tell you to. Concentrate your chakra on the seal holding me in, and move it into the doll.”
“What’ll happen when I do?” I asked. “It won’t kill me, or let you escape will it?”
“As much as I desire to escape, I realize that half of my chakra is sealed beyond my reach. I am no longer as powerful as I was before, and the moment I reappear, another village or that masked man will try to contain and control me. Make no mistake, kit. I will escape someday, however I will only do so once he has been dealt with.”
“Then, what’s with the puppet?”
“If you die, I die and it will be years before I can reform. I need for you to grow strong enough to survive for my sake. You cannot do that on your own, so you need a trainer. The trainer must be loyal to you and keep your existence a secret, so I intend to use the puppet and the chakra the previous host left, whom I know will be loyal and trustworthy…to you anyway.”
Thinking for a few minutes, I slowly placed my hand on the puppet’s seal. “…What’s the name I need to call?”
“Kushina Uzumaki.” the fox snarled. My mind froze when I heard that name. “Yes, kit. Your mother’s chakra is inside me. While I loathe my previous host, she is necessary in ensuring your survival. Now is the time to call for her.”
Gathering the chakra inside my seal, I pushed it forward and into the puppet’s seal. The room itself became illuminated, as the seal on the floor glowed brighter and brighter. Heat began pouring out of the puppet, my hand felt like fire and my vision was obscured. Some kind of pressure built up inside the puppet, slowly becoming more resistant to fill with chakra, until I was launched backwards and into the wall outside the vault.
My world blinked and grew darker and darker, as I slowly fell into black sleep.
On the edge of darkness, I heard a sweet voice humming a song I never heard before.
On the green hills,
By the spiraling waves,
The birds are chirping above,
The fish lay beneath the waves,
We draw our seals,
We lay in wait,
The whirlpools protect us,
We will rise again.
I opened my eyes, and saw a beautiful woman over me. Her long tomato red hair, framed her face, and her closed eyes somehow put me at peace. My head was in her lap, and her arms were on my chest. She rocked back and forth, while humming her song, giving me a sense of peace and warmth I didn’t know of. When she finished the song, she opened her eyes and reveal gentle blue eyes, only a shade lighter than mine.
“Hello, my little Naruto…” she said gently.
“… Mom…?” I asked weakly, sitting up, only to have her embrace me tightly.
“You’ve gotten so big,” she said. “You look just like your father.”
“M-mom,” I stuttered, my voice cracking. I felt the wet tears trailing down my face.
“As much as I loathe this touching moment between mother and kit, you should probably tell her about the situation in the village,” the fox said slyly. As much as I’d hate to admit it, the furball was right.
I pulled away from her and wiped my tears away. “Mom, I have to tell you about something.”
I told her about my life up until now, including what happened in the village recently. I was basically a missing-nin at this point. She broke down and hugged me even tighter than before, constantly apologizing and saying how she was disappointed in the village, and my godfather, who was apparently a famous ninja.
“As much as I dislike the fox, I am thankful that he saved you. Even if it was for selfish reasons,” she muttered, to which the fox chuckled. “He’s right, Jinchuuriki aren’t exactly liked, but they tend to be hunted. I was the previous host of the Kyuubi and a shinobi, so I’ll train you in our clan’s sealing arts, but first I want to see what’s left of the village.”
She guided me to a dead end, before placing her hand on the wall. The next thing I knew, we were back in the ruins, with a seal underneath us. I looked at her and she said, “It was something similar to your father’s signature technique, but simpler.”
She looked around with a sad look on her face, walking to a building that must’ve stood tall considering the amount of debris. She waded through it, until she reached a certain section and told me to help her clear it. Under the rubble was another seal that responded to her, revealing a hidden staircase.
Inside was another storage room, filled with things that would’ve belonged to a young girl. When I wiped the dust from a picture, it revealed a young Kushina. She was standing in front of a magnificent building, smiling.
“This was your home before you came to the Konoha,” I said. She nodded.
“Naruto,” she said in a stern voice. “I want you to grow up and live as long as possible, in a place that will accept you. To that end, I’m going to be a harsh teacher. We’ll train here for a year, before we set out into the world.”
“What will we do then?”
She smiled at me. “We’ll work towards rebuilding this village.”
Chapter 11: Towards the Mizukage
The Depths – Strategy Meeting
“We have two jinchuuriki with partial control, summonings, a seal master, a sensor, three bloodline users, and the rest are powerful combatants adept at water jutsu and aquatic combat.” Ao summarized as he presented a map and pointed to a region to the north, where swamplands surrounded a lake that bordered a small mountain to the rear. It was where the Mizukage resided, who had to be defeated if this conflict would come to an end.
He couldn’t help but rub his chin at the prospects. “In all honesty, the thought of the few of us going against a fully matured jinchuuriki doesn’t inspire confidence, but it’s all we’ve got now that things have progressed to this point. The key point in this will be whether or not a few individuals can disable or kill Yagura while the rest of our forces hold off against the amassed army and defenses in place.”
Ao then went on to explain where the battle would take place and the groups assigned tasks. Their unit was to stealthy make their way to Yagura, going past the war zone itself using swampland that they would have to traverse quickly, where he would be waiting on a lake. There they could confront him, but the collateral damage would be lower, meaning they face the possibility of being assaulted by a Tailed Beast Bomb.
There would be two teams, one holding a jinchuuriki each, split apart and coming in from the east and the west. If one didn’t make it by some chance or there were more guards than expected and sacrifices were made, they’d still have enough to fight.
“The Seal Master will have to remain out of combat at all costs since her role is arguably the most important. I don’t need to tell anyone that failure means death”—Ao shot the jinchuuriki pair a look—”or enslavement. The purging of bloodlines will continue unimpeded and more lives will be lost as this country falls into recesses of history.”
“No puny human is enslaving me again,” Kurama snarled inside Naruto’s mind.
“I’d rather the kids not fight at all against a jinchuuriki in the first place,” Kushina stated as a fact.
“I’ve been too through much at this point to back out halfway mom,” Naruto told her. “My hands are already stained with blood…ever since I became a shinobi. It’d be better to fight and ensure that all the deaths until now…aren’t wasted.”
“I’m fighting as well,” Isaribi said coldly. “I can’t just let what happen to Villa go…this feeling won’t fade away unless I can do everything to bring down this hateful reign.”
Kushina’s face melted into one of sorrow for a brief moment before solidifying again, she didn’t want them to fight anymore but they were warriors who’d been bloodied at this point. “Damn it. Then, if we can face him near a large body of water, my summoning might be able to do something as well even if I’m not able to move personally.”
Naruto raised a brow. “You have a summoning too?”
“The guardian of the Land of Whirlpools and her kin to be exact,” Kushina said with her tone a bit mysterious. She had undergone the trial for it and made the contract. “They tend to be fond of women and are dedicated solely towards the benefit of Uzushio, which is why they aren’t fond of Konoha either since they desperately needed help during the war and never got it. You look too much like your father for their tastes.”
“That’s not fair towards me,” Naruto pouted.
“I know sweetie,” she told. “The Boss Summoning agrees that it’s petty and, while she could order her children to behave, they could still circumvent the spirit of her laws. You’ll just have to win them over in time.”
“Right…” Ao sighed. “Well, Yagura is currently positioned in the middle of a lake, so that should suffice. Moving on, Zabuza will be supporting our men on the front-lines along with Choujirou and Suigetsu. Having two of the Seven Swordsmen, as well as the brother of one, will raise morale amongst the men…”
Ao continued his role as the strategist to set up contingency plans. That night marked the beginning of the end. By the time the sun had set the next day, Yagura would fall.
The bloody mist would be cleared by the burning horizon.
The Next Day
The battlefield was a mist-blanketed swampland, thin trees with little greenery jutting out of murky water. The soft earth was packed full of hardy shrubs that reached towards where the light would break through the mist and fill them with the essentials they needed to survive. Turtles, salamanders, alligators, poisonous snakes, and all other amphibious creatures lingered below the surface along with fish, partaking in the numerous insects that dwelled within the environment.
There was a sole oasis in this swampland that encompassed the majority of the area, a lake that was not muddied by the waters of the swamps, and quiet reigned. That was where the final and most important battle would take place. A battle between beings that surpassed the norm and those that stood on top of the norm.
Naruto, Isaribi, and Haku formed a three-man team and were making their way through the swamplands towards the jinchuuriki Mizukage. Haku was in the lead with Isaribi, already transformed, and Naruto following.
The rest had decided to go through the other directions, making themselves a bigger target by having the head of the insurgency, Mei, among them. It was a strategic move, coming in from multiple sides and in waves to assault a sole target, allowances in case more than one vital member was killed, so they wouldn’t all be slain.
If one jinchuuriki fell, there was still one more. The only unacceptable losses were Mei herself, as the face of the insurgency if she died it died with her, and Kushina, which meant that a rampant Tailed Beast would be free and other countries would swarm to claim it.
“This mist is making it hard to see…” Naruto muttered, annoyed as he hopped along the trees to avoid the water and wetlands below. Isaribi could swim beneath it with ease in her Kaima-Form, and Haku was literally skating along the surface of the water. He wished he had his Nine-Tailed Fan, but that was gone. Not that he was bad at the standard shinobi tools of the trade, but goddamn it that fan was freaking sweet.
“You get used to it,” Haku told him.
Naruto thought about the current situation that led to this country becoming a powder keg and found it somewhat confusing. The routine extermination of bloodlines was something he never imagined living in Konoha. If bloodlines and power made up a part of the power base, by killing them off as they did they were weakening themselves. He, hesitantly, brought this up to Haku.
“Why is why we believed Yagura to be under another person’s thrall,” Haku replied. “The purge was only officially started when one clan that could utilize their bones caused such destruction that they were killed off with no survivors by the Kirigakure forces. While that could have been considered a necessity in the eyes of most people, from there it extended to other bloodlines, even those outside of the country and the minor villages in it.”
“… Did the people support that?” Naruto asked.
“The civilians have their own problems,” Haku stated. “Living in these lands is hard enough as a shinobi, but the smaller and rural villages have an abundance of difficulties that are much worse. I was, for example, a simple peasant born of a farmer in a small village. Food was scarce for us, most going to those who can fight as shinobi, and it was dangerous with the abundance of missing-nin that this nation births. Most of the people couldn’t tell a shinobi with a bloodline from one without, so it really didn’t matter…”
He trailed off and took a moment to think over his words before he continue. “But Yagura made a pledge to keep the smaller villages safe as long as no one with a bloodline was found alive. If they were then not only was the protection voided, but a few days later the village was wiped out in an ‘insurgent attack’ as it was told. So when my father found out…”
Naruto picked up what he was hinting. “You mean he…”
Haku nodded, his eyes slightly glazed over as he recalled the memory. “Rather than allowing his wife and son to risk the village, my father killed my mother with tears in his eyes and then tried to kill me. My bloodline kicked in and… well, now we’re heading through the mist-laden lands in order to topple a Kage.”
Neither Naruto nor Isaribi openly commented on that. Not from lack of experience, but because it didn’t need to be said. They knew all too well how the public could easily be conditioned to loathe someone simply because it was easier, mob mentality forming out of fear, ignorance, and hatred.
Discriminated because they were different, changed because of factors beyond their control, both had their own way of coping. Naruto wore the mask of a fool who cried when he was alone. Isaribi was isolated, closing off her heart and betraying her own sense of morals for the promise of being turned to normal, only to have been manipulated by the one responsible.
Their moment of silent reflection ended as Isaribi submerged and witness something surging through the water. She broke the surface and called out the attack. “We’re under attack!”
As if to punctuate the point, a chakra construct molded into the shape of an alligator using the water itself emerged and took Isaribi into its gaping maw, before dragging her below the surface and out of their sight. They stopped their advance and stood on the mangrove branches above the water at the sudden loss. But there was no time to concern themselves with their lost comrade as the scent of ozone reached Naruto’s nose from a lightning jutsu coming from behind them and the churning of water to either side of the tree reached Haku’s ears.
Taking from the reservoir of chakra he drew from, Naruto used hand-seals to convert it into wind chakra and then poured it into his lungs, expelling in a single breath a gale that was known as the Great Breakthrough technique from his mouth. The squall grounded the lightning through affinity and opened up the mist a bit as the leaves and weaker branches of the mangroves were carried by it.
The churning water to their sides became drills, liquid fangs meant to pierce through their bodies. Spiraling towards the pair, they chewed through the branch the two were on mere moments after Haku grabbed Naruto and leapt away. Like lashing serpents they gouged out furrows in the bark as they slithered up the length with a grinding noise in their pursuit.
Taking to the air in a chakra-strengthen jump, Haku ran through a set of three seals and took a deep breath. Within his lungs he melded the dual elements that composed his bloodline, wind and water, to generate a freezing squall that nipped at the inner lining of his lungs and throat as he exhaled. From his puckered lips a flurry of relentless cold and hoarfrost emerged like a billowing cloud of white and blue that swallowed the drills of water streaking towards them.
The Arctic Winds technique buffeted the drills, stripping them of their heat and freezing them over. The forming frost overtook the rotations and slowed it to a halt as it consumed every inch. Soon they were nothing more that rigid poles of ice that sought to touch the sky and fell short. From the source of the water that had served as the base of the water drills, the ice that had ran over it from the excess arctic winds served as solid surface for the two to land on.
A senbon filled Haku’s empty right hand while a kunai appeared from his gloves in Naruto’s as the water next to them spouted upwards. From it emerged the kunoichi clad in deep-green scales, her eyes as black as the night and her fins extended with the intent to use them as blades.
Isaribi, her voice less human than before, asked, “Which way?”
Naruto sniffed the air with his enhanced sense of smell. The lingering moisture made it a hindrance, since it wasn’t like he was a member of the Inuzuka Clan that had been trained in tracking, but he picked up three different scents. “Two o’ clock, Six o’ clock, and Ten o’clock.”
Haku went through single-hand seals and let his chakra sink into the moisture in the air and the water beneath the ice, clinging to it and taking authority of it. The water turned to ice and then shaped themselves into needles that stood around him at the ready, an ice variation of the Thousand Flying Water Needles of Death technique. Armed with over a hundred small ice needles, they were sent flying in the direction north-west of them.
The ice needles ran through the trunks and branches of the thin trees and covered them in a thickening layer of ice as they speared towards the shinobi in hiding. The ringing of steel deflecting the ice was heard as the shinobi avoid their cover for the sake of blocking and avoiding rather than being skewered. His location compromised, he moved to kill the bloodline-user with a kusarigama in hand.
Isaribi went through the hand-seals that she had been taught, her water element chakra seeping into the waters of the misty swamplands around them rather than generating fake water and then controlling it, reducing the cost. The water churned into a throbbing sphere twice her size. Then it violently surging out, dragging the rest of the water into the Giant Vortex technique as it barreled to the south.
The sheer mass of the destructive torrent, plowed through whatever cover that had been provided by the thin fauna and trees, tearing out anything on the surface of the water and carrying it as the path of devastation was torn straight through in a line. The surge settled as her chakra, which had held it up, dissipated with the release of the technique. For a moment all was quiet and she wondered if she killed the attacker right out, but that delusion quashed as a Tornado of Water drilled towards her and then slammed into the ice platform that had been formed, sending the ice crashing down atop her as she fell beneath the murky waves.
Naruto, now airborne again as he leapt before the ice pole he was perched on shattered, lacked the sheer destructive technique needed to flush out the last member due to his fan being destroyed, but he had plenty of explosive tags and kunai. Sending them out en masse, the rain of destruction fell upon the grove and water alike. Thunderous and deafening roars emerged as spout of water and sprays of splinters and sheered bark followed.
A bolt of lightning snaked out towards him, acting like a spear that flew toward him with the intent of piercing through him viciously. Too composed and fast for him to try anything special with wind techniques, he created a single clone and had it kick him towards the water before the lighting tore through where his chest had been and the clone was snuffed out. Naruto landed atop the water, chakra on his feet keeping him afloat, and then darting off towards the source of the last spear of lightning with the scent of ozone leaving a trail he could follow.
Lightning ripped through the air again, snaking towards the youngest shinobi who remained astride tree branches as he advanced. Naruto kept off the water as he moved, wary of the traps that may have been beneath the surface. He wasn’t Haku or Isaribi, the water wasn’t his native land that he could swim or skate over. He grew up among the land of leaves and trees, even if he left it behind. Thin as the trunks were, they still dave him a solid surface to kick off of and advance towards the enemy.
He abandoned the branch as the lightning smashed into the wood. It exploded, splinters flying and dropping down to the waters below. He jumped up for the nearest tree right afterwards and kept moving.
The opponent continuously sent out streams of lightning that darted for him, but he was fast enough to get away rather than trying to smother the element with its opposite. Extending his hands, the jounin then sent out thrashing forks of lightning that ran rampant. When Naruto leapt up to avoid it, the tendrils of lightning darted towards him like snakes seeking prey and slithered to swallow him.
Naruto crafted a Shadow Clone and used it as a kickstand to spring further, leaving the clone to soak the damage as the memory of its destruction was fed to him. Now within range, he crafted chakra chains from the palms of his hands and then whipped them down, the pointed tips seeking to cut into flesh.
The jounin dodged as the younger shinobi landed and then exploded into a billowing wave of smoke as he detonated a handful of smoke bombs. Lightning snaked into the smoke, seeking out its prey above and below the waves, only to have a gust of chakra-turned-wind smother the lightning and send him backpedaling.
From out of the water three clones shot out, propelling themselves like missiles that bombarded the jounin. His hands blurred and struck them down, one after the other, only for him to freeze up as a set of wrists grabbed his ankles. The clone that had done so was then swung around like a flail, connected to a set of Chakra Chains beneath the water, before both of them were flung like ragdolls into a mangrove tree, the clone dispersing as a final set of chain came from behind the tree and around his throat, crushing his trachea.
Suffocating and his mind left to the bombardment of signals his body was sending out, he fell still as a kunai buried itself into his chest and heart. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and he went still after a moment, death claiming him.
Naruto released the chains, dispersing them and the clone that stabbed the man in the heart. The reclaimed memories were unpleasant, to say the least…. In the last few days he had more blood on his hands than he thought was possible and the only end in sight would be when they captured the Mizukage.
His nose perked as he caught the scent of Haku darting ahead. There was even more blood in the air, hidden amongst the smell of frost. Naruto took a moment to look at where the corpse had now sunk beneath the murky water, leaving a faint tint of blood, and shook his head to clear it.
Then he went to settle things.
Haku was pretty sure he faced a jounin of the mist as he created more needles of ice and sent the flying towards the man. It was mostly done in a spread to avoid allowing him to flee, but he didn’t attempt to avoid them. Instead he spun the chain of the kusarigama around, using it as a mean of batting aside the incoming needles that he read the trajectories of and figured they would directly strike him.
Just as well, Haku kept his distance as he kept up the long range assault with more needles born of ice that whistled as they flittered through the air. The opponent was advancing though, carefully slipping within range as he battered the needles that were close to hitting him as he ran on the water. After the last barrage failed the jounin was in range.
Haku grimaced behind his mask as he drew senbon to use as a makeshift melee weapon. He was never one to enjoy violence or direct confrontation, but if he and the others were to get to Yagura then they needed to advance. To that end he wanted to use the Demonic Ice Mirrors. But against a jounin and with water beneath them, he thought otherwise.
Now he was forced into dodging as the joining welded the chain and sickle with a level of proficiency that was rare in these lands, using the weighed end of the chain to try and crack open his skull or otherwise debilitate him as he avoided the blow, only for the sickle’s blade to try and catch him. Adding to the difficultly was the irregular angles at which the chain would move, almost slithering in fact, to ensnare him. It was most likely the result of chakra manipulating through the chain.
Dealing with the jounin only became more difficult as Haku’s ears picked up a second set of chains coming from behind him and he was forced to throw himself into the air, twisting as the second set snaked past his torso. The weighed end was heated, an orange glow condensed around it as it tore through the fabric of his outfit and set it aflame. Landing on top of the water and bounding off a second time to avoid as the two chains crossed as they attempted to ensnare him, Haku noticed the Water Clone that had joined the original, more emerging from the surrounding waters.
No sooner than he touched down did he notice that the surface of the water had been changed, thickened and given the consistency of some type of mire that held him in place so that he couldn’t flee again. The clones surrounded him on all sides, twirling their scythes at the end of the chains with intent of butchering him.
As the blades closed in, Haku released ice chakra from the tenketsu all over his body and froze the moisture in the air around him in a thickening layer. The Ice Style: Ice Dome was formed in time and held fast against the blades that tried to cut into him. That was the benefit of his clan’s techniques, as long as he possessed chakra and as long as there was moisture in the air around him he could shape it to his will with few to no hand-signs.
Capitalizing on that, he called forth a blossom of ice spears around the dome, the moisture in the air and beneath their feet freezing over and into spikes that speared out and penetrated everything in its wake with frightening speed. The clones were punctured, their cohesion lost until the water that made up their bodies was loosened and froze into icicles clinging to the edge of the spears.
The original managed to avoid the ice blossom by leaping back and then upwards, only to be run through. A pike of ice rammed through his back to out his front, taking a lung out in the process as the blood and other fluids were slowly submitting to the invasive chill and freezing him over from the inside out. As he fell from the sky his body twisted to see a single mirror of ice suspended in the air behind him, then came death as he hit the water and sank below the surface.
Haku immediately set off. Jettisoning himself from the mirror he was in towards the direction they were heading.
The Tornado of Water drove the Maiden of the Sea deep into the murky waters of the swamp before the chakra holding it together petered out. Unlike the sea that she formerly swam in, doing unforgivable deeds that cost the lives of many innocent people, the waters of the swamp weren’t to her liking.
The waters of the sea were a deep shade of blue, growing dimmer the deeper beneath the surface you sank, and kelp and coral were what formed the forest that loitered at the deep. Fish and other animals darted throughout the terrain, going about their business in schools or hunting for those beneath them on the food chain should they hunger.
The swamp water was an earthen-brown color, dank and depressing, lacking the scent of the ocean breeze. Twigs, branches, leaves and roots all made up the woodlands beneath the surface, and its inhabitants were mammals that flittered to the surface rather than remain in the deep.
But, in the end, it was a matter of preference, rather than anything substantial. Her eyes could peer through the murky depths with the same ease as above, her movements less encumbered as she could sift through the water in three dimensions, and her arsenal far deadlier.
Her opponent lacked the same inherit advantages, but made up for them with the arsenal at his disposal. Dressed in a black, skin-tight wetsuit, goggles, and a simple rebreather, he was mounted on top of a rather large alligator summoning that rested at the bottom of the swamp. All together they allowed him to stay under the water to hunt down those who took to the swamps.
She moved to take him out of the equation, but more alligators came at his beckoning, all constructed out of chakra and water. They clamped down on her limbs and pulled, desperately trying to perform a death roll and separate the limbs. She wasn’t worried about the fangs of the chakra constructs breaking her scales through sheer force, but they hindered her mobility and her joints could only take so much before the twisting broke them and left her unable to swim.
Her cheeks swelled as she molded water chakra in her mouth, and then spat out a sharp and powerful burst towards the one tearing at her right arm. The Water Style: Large Projectile was made of chakra, a construct that mimicked water flawlessly at the cost of being chakra heavy depending on the amount created and then pushed out of her lungs. At such a short distance the technique wasn’t dissolved by the murky water, but punched straight through the fake crocodile like a cannon ball.
The fin on her right arm, now freed, grew hard as chakra reinforced its strength, making it into a crude blade. With it she cleaved through the other constructs and then darted towards the summoner. It was when she passed by what she thought was an outcropping branch that she realized her mistake a moment too late as it exploded as she sped past it.
A muffled blast that radiated outward in a pocket of white ripped through her and blood escaped from her mouth as she gasped, the red being pulled apart and tinting the water around her before fading away. No matter how her body had changed to be strong enough to resist the crushing depths of the sea, no matter how easily she could live under the water, none of that changed the fact that she was still vulnerable to such attacks.
Her focus shifted to the surrounding plant debris and fallen logs that had been left jutting out of the muddy bottom and caught sight of a modified explosive tag was meant to be used in underwater warfare. It converted chakra stored in to the tag as a concussive wave on detonation. As the shockwave bypassed her scales and shook her organs, it was clear that had she of been in her human state and only had mere skin to protect the organs it would have torn her apart on the inside or forced her to breathe and thus drown.
She extended her arms and used the Scale Senbon technique, firing off the scales and then reforming them in short order. The spray detonated the vast majority of the water mines as they punctured the tags rather than going off when she was in the nearest proximity of them. The tags caught in the blast radius went off as well, creating a chain of muffled explosions were followed by pockets of air that were closed in as the bubbles blocked her view.
The large crocodile summoning darted out of the veil created by her, swimming with its tail going back and forth as it approached with an open maw. Isaribi avoided its lunge, not willing to risk the sheer crushing power of the jaws breaking through her scales. She noted that the summoner had hid himself rather than risk being killed as it circled around, coming back to snap into her a second time.
Scale Senbon flew, but the hide of the alligator was too thick and the water was too much for the scales to travel through while maintaining enough force. Thus she was forced to dodge a second time, but the tail lashed around and caught her in the abdomen. The amount of force sent her straight into the tangled mess of roots that formed the mangrove trees above. She darted between the thicker roots as the crocodile pursued her, breaking through hardy roots with its bulk while snapping at her.
Isaribi eventually grabbed and tore off a thick root and crammed it vertically in its mouth as it bit down. As strong as the muscles were when closing, it snapped down with ease, but the thick roots managed to puncture it’s snout in the process and prevented it from opening up again. She used the opportunity to rake out its eyes with her fin blades and forced it to retreat into the murky distance.
Movement in her peripheral vision grabbed her attention.
Her foe trying to escape after the summoning had been dealt with. He wouldn’t get away of course. He was only human and could only swim so fast, not nearly as fast as she could in her current state.
Her fins extended and she took off. Once she dealt with him, she would meet up with the others.
At the lake
A single figure stood on top of the grey waters of the lake, the clouds above matching the hue below with the promise of rain impending. The body of the youth belied its strength, the stitch-like scar running down from his left eye a sign of battles untold. The grey, short hair that adorned his head was messy, untended to for some time as there was no need to maintain appearances.
The Mizukage, Yagura, waited in silence, both his mind and his tenant’s one in the same as they followed the commands instilled into them by the mirror-wheel eye that loitered high in their mindscape, constantly whirling in place as it tethered them to its will.
The instincts of a trained warrior, one who reached the apex known as the ‘Water Shadow’, called to him. He opened his pink eyes and fixed his gaze to the left. The fingers around his staff tightened and the muscles in his arm tensed.
Silence followed. The water lapping beneath his feet the only ambient sound hidden in the mist…
Then there was a blur as a blond child approached with a spiraling sphere of chakra in his hand from above. The air chilled as the water beneath his feet froze and then shot spikes of ice from below at sharp angles, intent on skewering his legs and hindering his escape. A spiraling vortex of water from behind roared in fury as it dispelled the mist and churned forward to swallow him in the swell. A three-pronged attack from the three who arrive first to challenge him after crossing the swampland…
All meaningless in the end.
Yagura’s staff blurred as it smashed the ice enclosing on him into frigid chunks. The butt then smashed into the frozen platform and Isobu’s chakra seeped down into the crevices, changing within and bringing forth an instant bloom of a protective tower of coral that formed an anchored wall to protect his rear. As the churning water smashed into the bulwark and yielded, parting around the sides, a mirror formed of water chakra and the water vapor in the air constructed a clone of the incoming blond and the two met, smashing the spiraling spheres into one another and dispelling themselves to reveal neither had been the original.
Such was the power of a Kage.
At a glance, all three realized this would be the toughest battle they had faced thus far. But there was too much at stake, whether self-serving, self-preservation, or simple revenge, and they had to face him. Relying on back-up was meaningless in itself as they had no way of knowing of the adults had made it as well.
Thus they resolved to do their best as the final battle began…
Okay, had to cut this early but yes I’m still working on it. Big Battle next time. Boss fight.
Chapter 12: The Water Shadow Falls
On the Lake
Gray skies overhead rumbled.
Three set of eyes, filled to the brim with righteous indignation, subtle fury, and quiet uncertainty, fixed on the blank gaze of the Mizukage who release the protective cocoon of coral that had protected him from their initial assault and stood on a platform that remained, anchored to the bottom of the lake with a single shaft of thick coral.
Standing on the water as it shifted beneath them, a cold sweat broke out on the face of the ice-user. He had lost much to this man’s regime and yet, looking into his gaze he noticed the Mizukage was nothing but a puppet. Even then, he wasn’t certain they could win.
The muscles beneath the scales of the Maiden of the Sea were strained, taut with the desire to release. She wanted nothing more than to drag him into the depths for the sake of Villa, her fin blades lengthening at the thought of rage-fueled justice. Taking a step forward, she prepared to lunge and dive down, coming at him from below.
But, before she could take that step, Naruto was the first to change forward against the Water Shadow. The sooner he was defeated, the sooner the fighting stopped and the less bloodshed. The deaths at the port, the torturous pain inflicted by the hunters, the suffering of the country and his fellow jinchuuriki, everything led up to this moment. With that in mind, he shot forward, a Rasengan forming in his right hand.
“Isobu’s chakra forms coral to restrict your movement or attack,” Kurama supplied as his container charged into the fray.
Got it, Naruto affirmed.
The Mizukage crafted another mirror from the water vapor and his chakra. The reflection pulled itself free in the same pose as its original. It would spring forth to catch him in the middle of his attack, intercepting him.
Naruto halted and spun on his foot, turning his back to the clone and thrusting the spiraling sphere forward. The clone mirrored the action, slamming its own attack through the mirror that had brought it forth. Before it could connect with the Mizukage, the mirror clone was dispelled, leaving him facing the blond shinobi that was now closed the distance.
Setting the shaft of his weapon in the crook of his elbow, hand seals faster than the eye could catch and water chakra seeped down into the lake waters. Just as Naruto was within range, the water rose and swept him up with it. The rising wall of water shot up, ascending higher and higher into the sky with Naruto atop it and trying to free himself from within it, until it reached its plateau and broke through the surface to take a deep breath.
Mizukage was still ascending higher than he was on his mushroom-like platform of coral that kept spreading as it rose. Soon he was looking down at Naruto, overlooking the lake and the lands that were his by right of his position. Thrusting the staff out, the wall of water lurched out and came down like a tidal wave, the force of the impact enough to flatten the land at the edge of the lake and the three insects that were swept in it.
Haku prepared to unleash a stronger version of his Arctic Winds technique, the Great Arctic Winds, when Isaribi grabbed him. She dived, taking him down to the deepest depths, where the pull of the water was not as great, as he held his breath. Even below the massive wave they could hear the muffled echo of the monstrous crashes from above as the neighboring trees were smashed to pieces.
But, while they had escaped the massive wave from above, the dangers below were just as great as a reef the size of the lake bottom had come into existence courtesy of Isobu’s chakra. And it was still growing, climbing and threatening to capture and flay them with jagged bits of coral.
Isaribi was forced to return to the surface as quickly as she could, shooting out of the water like a green missile and into the air. No sooner than Haku gasped for air did the spires of coral do the same, sticking out of the water like colorful spears. She grimaced as she lost one of her advantages, the ability to travel deep, as the water overflowed its natural boundaries due to the massive reef that took up most of the space beneath the surface.
“Where’s Naruto-kun?” Haku asked as they touched down on the surface of the water, remaining aloft it.
“He was caught in the wave,” Isaribi said as she raised her arms towards the Mizukage in the distance. Her scales stood up on the end. Scale Senbon were unleashed towards the jinchuuriki. “I’m not sure where he was taken or if he’s okay.”
Haku gritted his teeth. There was nothing that could be done then. If he was okay he’d rejoin them. He focused his attention on the Mizukage, who was twisting his staff and using it to block the scales that came close to hitting him, and padded out her assault with his own Thousand Flying Ice Needles of Death.
Yagura put more spring into his step as he dodged them, occasionally batting aside the projectiles until he could take refuge behind one of the brightly-colored spires from his reef. Behind it he ran through more hand seals and the water at his feet rose and slithered through the air, carrying him atop it as it surged up and then came careening down in an arch.
The force of it caught Isaribi, driving her down and against the reef of coral hard enough that the thick material formed a crater. Countless bubbles were released in the process, carrying bits of green flecks from her scales that were crumbled beneath the impact. But she managed to rise again, standing and breaking the water’s surface to see that the lashing and serpentine column of water was chasing Haku.
The ice-user gathered his ice chakra in his lungs until it was dense and breathed it out in a single push. The Ice Style: Frost Bullet was launched and the compressed element flew towards the surging tendril.
The Mizukage jumped as the condensed frost was unleashed on impact turned the water into a frozen formation that fell apart as it crashed into the shallow water. Twirling his staff above his head, he used it as a bludgeon to try and cave in Haku’s skull as he came down. He was intercepted by a blast of water from the Maiden of the Sea, sending him skirting over Haku and bounding off the water before he got back on his feet.
It was then there was a large shift in the water as the spires jutting out of it began to buckle. The coral was being bleached, breaking apart as a poison spread through its system. Yagura extended his senses and found the source of this disturbance in his chakra construct.
Naruto was below the water, pumping the corrupted yang chakra of the Nine-Tailed fox into coral at the Tailed Beast’s suggestion. The chakra that governed and encouraged the growth of life, in its corrupted nature, eroded the Three-Tailed Turtle’s own as it had eaten away at the hunter-nin when he had been cleaved by the chakra blade fueled by the same source. He was taking away the advantage over the battlefield.
Hand seals were made. The water around the jinchuuriki came alive at the Mizukage’s behest, grabbing and ensnaring the youngest of the gathered and breaking the surface as a tendril of dense water once more. It flailed around and then slammed Naruto through the remaining spires, brittle shells of what they once were and fragile enough to break as the shinobi screamed with the first, second, and third spires.
Before it could do so a fourth time, a blast of frosty air consumed the tendril and turned it into ice. A hammer-like strike followed as the Water Style: Large Projectile from Isaribi struck with enough force to shatter it. Haku appeared from a Demonic Ice Mirror and scooped him up before he hit the water barely conscious.
“Wake up!” Haku said, looking at Isaribi laying cover fire. She was barely hindering the Mizukage, who was fixed on them. “If you pass out we won’t be able to protect you and survive!”
Naruto’s dreary eyes closed. He was a mess. One of his arms was visibly broken and twisted in the wrong place. His clothing was scrapped in large places, blood staining them. Within the confines of his mind a plea went out of for mutual survival.
Then there was a pulse of chakra and he lurched. Azure-eyes opened once more and turned a shade of crimson as flesh knitted, bones reset, and strength returned to him. He stepped down onto the water and was draped in a thin shroud of the fox’s chakra, a single tail waving behind him. He roared as he charged forward to aid his comrade.
Yagura smashed his staff into the head of the Maiden of the Sea and then held his staff horizontally in both hands and allowed Isobu’s chakra to seep into it. Creeping coral enshrouded it, covering it and reinforcing it to make it a more suitable weapon against the shrouded jinchuuriki and used it to block the incoming hammer blow.
The crimson fist descended like a sledgehammer and the impact drove the guarding Mizukage downwards. Because his chakra was keeping him afloat the water, it caved in until it hit the dead coral and made it crumble over a large area.
Yagura strained his muscles and knocked the hand to the side. Bringing the staff around it slammed into Naruto’s right temple and then the left temple, before coming from below and catching him in the chest. He watched as the younger jinchuuriki went soaring backwards and then turned his attention to thickening mist in the air.
Haku stood at the center of it. Acting as the apprentice of the Demon of the Mist, he let the white shroud blanket the area. He was hoping it would by them some time and create an opening…
It wasn’t meant to be.
Yagura made the seal for the Water Style: Water Wall and exhaled the excess water. He moved it in a spiraling circle, crafting more and more as he did so. What was meant to be a defensive technique encroached more and more area as his Tailed Beast’s chakra was vast enough to do so. The mist was swept away in what was a slowly growing hurricane, sweeping in the lake water and dead coral.
“Multi-Shadow Clone!” Naruto declared, hundreds of clones forming and surrounding the perimeter of the crushing bulwark of water. They all inhaled deeply and used wind chakra to craft Wind Style: Air Bullets that were fired from every angle. The compressed air was let loose and ruptured with explosive force as they hit the water wall, tearing into the churning waters and thinning it out as it became unstable.
Naruto fell onto all fours as the clones expired, his shroud and whiskers growing thicker and his tail standing up. Then he darted forward with all his strength before the wall could thicken again. Like a crimson comet, he became a blur and slammed into the Mizukage with all the primal strength he could bring forward. The elder jinchuuriki took it head on and went flying, the constant stream of water ceasing.
“Haku, now!” Isaribi yelled as she created a Water Pillar of her own. This one she didn’t churn, but raised it to be as high as she could make it.
Haku appeared behind it from a Demonic Ice Mirror and exhaled a thick gale of frost with the remaining chakra he had in reserve. The Ice Style: Great Arctic Winds caught the water and turned it into a massive and sleek ice wall, a mini-glacier. Yagura slammed into it and the cracking of bones could be heard as he rebounded off the surface, cracks forming where he had hit.
Then he tumbled into the water below and silence reign.
Haku and Isaribi were both panting, barely afloat on the surface of the water. On the last dredges of their chakra, they were exhausted. Haku pulled out a soldier’s pill from his pouch and ate it as Naruto stalked towards them and crouched down between them.
His shroud had thinned to a coat. “Did we get him?”
The response came from the other side of the wall, as a Sonic Roar rang out. The ice caught in the wake of it reverberated violently, cracking as deep fissures formed. The mini-glacier crumbled to bits and they witnessed what lay behind it.
It was black beast on all fours, draped in a thick shroud of crimson chakra, glaring at them with empty luminous eyes. Three tails swayed in the air behind it, before curling around and changing. It turned to coral, forming an armor-like carapace with jagged bits jutting out that would flay skin from flesh. It charged with a feral cry, running atop the water with surprising deftness for its size.
Naruto let loose a cry of his own as he dashed for it and was knocked aside for his efforts. The jagged surface of the armor tore the flesh beneath his thinner shroud, and the mighty limbs pushed him beneath the water as he was trampled over, leaving the two unprotected.
Isaribi pushed Haku out of the way and took the full brunt of it, her scales breaking and the denser bones of her Kaima Form fracturing. She was sent skittering across the surface of the water, bounding off of it once, twice, and a final time before a large splash was made from the impact. Her fish-like features receded and she sank beneath the surface.
“Isaribi-chan!” Haku cried as he moved towards her, only for the behemoth to start charging him again. He put his hands together to ready a technique when the water in front of him exploded and the beast was stopped by the younger jinchuuriki.
“GRAB HER AND GO!” Naruto screeched as he strained to hold off the other beast, three crimson tails of his own acting as extra-arms to pin it. “HURRY!“
Haku swallowed and nodded. He let himself fall into the water and swam to catch her before she sank too deep. Breaching the surface with her in his arms, he used the chakra brought up from the pill converting his fat to give himself the strength to escape the battlefield and look over her injuries.
That left the two jinchuuriki to battle atop the lake that was filled with dead coral bits and ice fragments, the grey skies above letting loose water droplets as thunder rumbled. Coral began to sprout where Naruto’s hands braced against the behemoth and was crawling along the surface to consume him.
He gritted his teeth. Any advice you want to share here? Before we end up unable to move?
“Gather my chakra into your lungs,” Kurama spoke. “Let it soak in and then release a cry that makes the heavens and earth tremble. “
Naruto did as told, unleashing a Sonic Roar that knocked away the falling rain and tore apart the coral eating away at him with a sound wave laced with chakra. It pushed away the residual chakra washing over him and spread cracks along the armor of coral that enshrouded the jinchuuriki of the Three-Tailed Turtle.
But the berserk beast wasn’t knocked back by the assault. Indeed, it pressed forward with the intent of mowing him down, causing Naruto to slide back along the surface of the water while gaining speed. With no other choice, putting all his control on the line, Naruto used his tails to divert the behemoth still pressing forward and sent the beast tumbling to the side as he let go.
I need more chakra! Naruto thought. He couldn’t do that again. Not like that.
“Can you handle it without going feral?” Kurama asked. “Your mother tampered with the seal after hearing about the time with the hunters. As soon as your cognitive state falls below a threshold, the flow will cease. In the middle of this fight, it will be your defeat and I would prefer not to have to reform or end up enslaved.“
In all honesty, he couldn’t. He was too pressured fighting this thing, struggling not to break again at the memory of Isaribi being broken as the Three-Tailed jinchuuriki emerged from the water where it had been driven in. It didn’t help that the coral-covered beast just stood there.
What is he…? Naruto’s thoughts trailed off as he noticed the fissures in the coral spreading, the loosened bits shaking. Instinct, heightened in his present state, told him to move. He darted atop the water on all fours as a spray of Coral Senbon rained forth in a barrage and left sprays of water where he once had been as he circled around until the shots ended and the crimson-shrouded figure beneath the coral was exposed.
Naruto darted in before he could regrow the armor. His tails thrashed as they were reshaped into claws and then shot forth to rake across its face. The three tails of the older jinchuuriki deflected them as it brought its palm forth with the intention of repeating the Coral Palm technique from before.
But Naruto and the fox were quicker than the turtle. He ducked under the thrust and brought his sharpened claws in a horizontal swipe. The Mizukage screamed in an inhuman cry as its sight was wrenched from it, the claws taking them away as penitence for the Maiden of the Sea as the armor of coral reformed.
Naruto leapt up and over the turtle, getting to its back and circling again. He was looking for an opening before it healed the damage its sight in seconds. It needed to end while he still had strength to bring forth.
“The Rasengan,” Kurama offered as a solution. “Focus on containing it while I bring the chakra forth and move it.“
Under the thickening rain he came to a stand-still and stood on two legs. His arm drew back and the malevolent chakra gathered and condensed. Streams of the chakra spiraled around the growing sphere, throbbing violently as it yearned to be freed from the container. Veins appeared on his forehead as he struggled to contain it, maintaining it as a sphere while its ominous glow contrasted the grey skies.
The other jinchuuriki, now armored and its sight restored, charged atop the water for hi m once more. Naruto roared as a chakra arm extended, pushing the technique towards the mad jinchuuriki. The two forces met and clashed, with the carapace of coral shattering as the spiraling sphere of crimson broke through it and met the body beneath it.
Swept up in it, Isobu’s container was pressured as the arm stretched and stretched and stretched, until it could go no further. Then the Kyuubi roared within Naruto’s mindscape as it forced the chakra that formed the length of the arm into the sphere and past Naruto’s means of control. The technique ruptured as a result, the shock wave of the blast throwing the water as a wave that came crashing down on either side and swallowed both jinchuuriki….
…the rain fell down continuously with lightning crackling above as Naruto surfaced a minute later, taking a deep breath of air as he panted. Tell me that did it?
“I doubt it,” Kurama noted. “Isobu has the greatest defense amongst our kin despite being the most timid. I doubt it would be enough to cur him for long, so flee now that those fleas you call comrades have escaped and leave the rest to the Saiken.“
Far be it for the tired youth to do anything less. He turned and started swimming to the shore before the remained of his strength vanished and he was left stranded….The water rumbled, trembling as the atmosphere shifted.
“It’s too late.“Kurama snarled within his mindscape as it felt the change, its kin’s chakra no longer constrained to a human vessel as it manifested.
Naruto turned to see the surface of the water bubbling up, rising in a dome that rolled down a hard surface beneath the cascading water. As the amount of water petered out, it revealed a grayish-green crab-like shell with protrusions at the base. Rising above it were three flailing and plated tails that took the place of its hind legs. Beneath the monstrous-sized shell was a layer of red, its face resting ahead of the rest of its body with a large bear-trap like jaw and forehead with only the scarlet red left-eye exposed.
Barely able to stay afloat with his head sticking out of the water, Naruto felt like an ant before a giant as he looked to see the full transformation of the Three-Tailed Turtle looming over him. Its single eye was fixed on him. There was a sense of primal fear, seeing such a being and know it would come for you while you could do nothing against it.
Isobu’s tails sank into the water and it started moving forward, mouth gaping as if it meant to swallow him… It was then a large bubble drifted down from the air to obstruct its path and the red eye of the Tailed Beast stared at it. Then the Blinding Bubble exploded, a flare of light and force that made it cry out and thrash its arms and tails, churning the water.
“Seems like you had it rough,” said a voice Naruto recognized.
He looked to his left to see that Utakawa had arrived, sitting cross-legged on a bubble that drifted just over the water next to him. His kimono was tattered in places, signs of burnt fabric and smatterings of blood on it. Despite that he looked as placid as he had every time Naruto had seen him to this date.
He stepped off the large bubble and onto the water, letting it drift ahead. Raising his straw to his lips, he blew another bubble roughly the same size that compassed him and Naruto. They began to drift in the air, light bending around the bubble’s outer sheen and camouflaging them from sight.
“Are the others here yet?” Naruto asked.
“Should be close” he said as he steered the bubble towards the swamplands behind them and away from Isobu, who looked around for Naruto now that the blinding wore off. “We heard its roar and figured I’d come ahead just in case. Ran across the Ice Boy on my way and got the jist of everything. We need to pull back and regroup.”
They didn’t have the chance.
With a roar, the shockwave that emerged spread out and destabilized the camouflaged bubble, popping it while the pair were still in the air. Freefalling, Utakata quickly made a replacement beneath the two before they hit the water. But ultimately it did what Isobu wished, as he now found them.
Utakata went on the defense as the large Tailed Beast made for them, he focused on crafting hundreds and then thousands of little bubbles that were laced with the chakra of the Six-Tailed Slug, directing them to his will to form six trails, curving paths that flowed forward and then smashed into the beast. They popped with impudence as they met with him, smoke sizzling from where it impacted.
Naruto’s nose twinged as he caught the acidic scent and noted peculiarity.
“Such is Saiken’s power,” Kurama filled in for him “Saiken commands corrosive fluids and gases, much like Isobu commands coral. Using those ridiculous bubbles as a medium he can contain where and what it destroys… however, its potency is reduced while Saiken is sealed and will never penetrate Isobu’s shell.“
As if that last line was a trigger, the Three-Tailed Turtle sped forth, its shell smoking from where the acid had tries to melt through it as cut through the water. It would bore down on the older man before reaching Naruto, who was still unable to fight with the lack of chakra. Despite that, the man stared defiantly as he lowered his straw. Casting a shadow that swallowed him up beneath the rain-filled sky, Utakata was gone as Isobu met where he once stood….
And in his places six were six massive and white tails, slick with an unknown fluid that embraced with the Three-Tailed Turtle. They strained, moving and offsetting the mass as all six divided the strain. In tandem they rose, until it was forced out of the water with its tails lashing and roaring in defiance at being trapped.
Then they tossed the beast out of the lake, opposite the swamplands Naruto arrived in. The crash could be heard throughout the land as trees crunched beneath the behemoth, the ground itself quaking as it writhed to turn itself upright and lift itself up with its arms. No sooner than it managed did golden chains wreathe it, snaking around its limbs and mass to hold it in place as lava descended upon it from above, causing the Tailed Beast to shriek as it was covered in the melted earth.
A downpour of water followed, a floodgate that appeared out of nowhere from above like a tidal wave, slamming into the molten substance and releasing a veil of scalding steam the enveloped the entire area where it landed, shrouding it as the lava cooled rapidly into hardened stone. By the time Utakata returned to normal, reversing the partial transformation, there was now a mound of blackened slag as the steam cleared.
“So… did we win?” Naruto asked as his bubble drifted down to the panting jounin housing the Six-Tailed Slug, breaking the silence that permeated the air afterwards. To that end, deep fissures began to form in the mound. Boulder-sized fragments began to drop off and the sound of something hard grating against it filled the air.
“Doesn’t look like it,” Utakata said with a grimace.
Isobu shot out of the stone while curled into a ball that was spinning in a wheel, rolling its way back into the water and then leaping up to come down as a cannon ball and creating another billowing wave of water that was even larger than the previous time. It was going to swallow up everything that spanned the lake.
Utakata grimaced as he realized there was no way to get out of range in time, only to flinch as someone set their hands on his back. He looked over his shoulder to see Kushina there, a hand on him and Naruto. Chains erupted from her back and curved around them into the outline of a dome, the space between them filled with a shimmer layer of energy.
The wave came crashing down and dropped them down into the depths of the lake, the water pressing against the barrier as they sank down. Silence after the crashing ceased.
Naruto noticed her outfit was barely faring better than his own, points where cuts had drawn blood and there was an angry bruise on her shoulder that left her right arm shaking. Her breath was heavy, beads of sweat lining her forehead as she kept her eyes ahead. It seemed she hadn’t come out unscathed either on her way there.
“Mom, are you okay?” he asked.
“I’ll manage,” she squeezed out as she withdrew a seal slip that contained Naruto’s chakra and applied it to the back of his hand, forcibly injecting him with his own chakra to return his strength back to him. She then brought her hands together, gritting her teeth as she struggled to make the hand-seals for the Summoning technique. “Just summon the Boss Toad…”
Isobu roared, the water carrying it as a wave of pressure that told them it was close. Kushina finished her seal and slammed the palm of his hand against the layer of defense that stood between them and the Three-Tailed Turtle. The water shifted outwards as smoke was expelled and a serpentine figure slithered out of the smoke, obscured by the darkness of the depths, and met with the Tailed-Beast.
Naruto did the same, slamming his hands at the bottom of the barrier. Suddenly they ascended as a larger figure emerged and then kicked upwards with its powerful legs, breaking the surface and into the grey skies that stormed. Coming to a landing on the surface, Gamabunta surveyed the battlefield with webbed hands on the hilt of his blade as the barrier atop his head dropped. He had already been informed ahead of time, before they left, about his role.
The shifting surface of the shot into a plume as two other massive figures emerged in the distance. One was the Tailed-Beast, but wrapped around it was a creature with crimson scales that were patterned with gold ovals with black outlines. A mane of black hair that was tipped with crimson flowed around it’s body, while it’s razor sharp claws continuously scrapped at the shell. Golden eyes with white-rimmed slits were narrowed as its fox like mouth was opened to reveal fangs, its black ears raised. A fox with a body like a snake, a dragon with the head of a fox and fangs.
She was boss of the Nguruvilu Summonings, Lady Filu.
Despite constricting as tightly as she could and raking her claws against the shell, she couldn’t pierce it. Three thick and armored tails swayed madly, before lashing at her elongated body and the impacts left welts against the scales that threatened to break under the strikes, forcing her to let go. She dove back into the water and slid, her body moving in wavy motion that made it seem like she was slithering through it.
Isobu refused to let her escape that easily. Opening his maw he fired massive blobs of chakra-kneaded water, sending shot after shot of the Water Release: Great Water Mass Bullets. The water bullets smashed against the surface of the water and then ruptured, sending up spouts that threatened to send her sailing upwards.
Agile as she was, the boss of the Nguruvilu race avoided them deftly as she circled it, the shots only ending as Gamabunta laid down cover fire with his own Water Style: Gunshot technique that caught Isobu in the face. The Three-Tailed Turtle switched targets, sending out another trio of shots towards the Toad Boss.
“Hold on!“Gamabunta warned the three atop his head before he leapt into the air with his powerful legs. The shots left trails as they passed under him and continued sailing into the swamplands in the distance and displacing the mango trees and murky water with thunderous spouts.
At the apex of his jump he drew his massive blade. Then he descended onto the Tailed-Beast with all his weight and thrust the blade down. It failed to pierce the shell and was then relegated to fending off the thrashing tails with the steel in his hands.
He jumped off again, the force of his legs pushing the turtle beneath the surface. The water crashed down around the turtle while the massive toad sailed backwards through the air and back down into the water at a safe distance with a major splash. Only its head remained above the water, housing the three atop it, while the Nguruvilu’s head surfaced next to him.
“Are you all right, Lady Filu?” Kushina asked her summoning.
“As well as one can be,” the summoning responded, her body shifting under the water. “My kin and I aren’t well suited against such an opponent, I’m afraid. That shell is quite resilient.“
Gamabunta agreed. “Gonna be a pain to deal with.“
It was then that another figure touched down, her auburn hair disheveled and her cloth torn in particular places where she had fended off more assailants on her way toward the battlefield. She leapt from the surface of the water to the top of the Toad Boss’ head.
“How are the kids?” Kushina asked as Mei.
“Ao managed to get them out of the immediate area.” She pushed her hair out of her eyes and then fixed them ahead. “However, we need to end this quickly.”
Lady Filu felt the water beneath her shifting and dove down to see the growing coral tower that was rising from the bottom and encompassing where the turtle had sank beneath the wave. It was growing at a frantic rate, branching out with jagged limbs that began filling the water. Breaking the surface, she warned them of the impending threat. The branches jutted out of the water like a bulwark that drove them backwards, leaving a mound of coral that resembled a bud of a flower that had yet to blossom.
Within it, Saiken and Kurama felt the melding of Yin and Yang chakra and told their respective hosts that they were on the verge of being on the wrong end of a Tailed-Beast Bomb. Once they told the others, the summonings did their best to halt it, with Gamabunta trying to cleave the coral away with his sword infused with natural energy while Lady Filu firing a pressurized spray of water from her mouth to break through it with no success, as it repaired itself to quickly.
Utakata fixed his eyes on where the buildup was at according to the beast inside of him. Apparently Isobu had the slowest charge time, but that just meant they had another thirty-seconds. The coral that was damaged was re-growing too quickly for them to manage as they were. But…
“Naruto,” he said, grabbing the youngest shinobi’s attention. “Get ready to release a gust that’s concentrated in one spot.” He pointed towards it. “I’ll use my Acid Spray and you focus it so it gets through the thickest layers. From there the others can hit it with the hardest attacks they have until we punch a hole in it.”
“Lady Filu, can you handle that part?” Kushina asked.
“I believe so.“
“I’ll finish then,” Mei said as she began forming hand-seals.
The chakra of the Six-Tailed Slug was molded into acidic vapor within the lungs of the bubble-user and wind was formed with the blonde jinchuuriki. On a mental count of three they exhaled from atop the Toad Boss, white gas leaving Utakata’s puckered lips and was backed by the gust that left Naruto’s, his control focusing the wind chakra mimic the wind to keep it in a nice and tight stream. The resulting combination slammed against the coral and began eating away at it without mercy, its touch breaking down the hard reef into a liquid that seeped through the crevices and spread out to counter the regrowth factor until they exhausted their chakra.
Lady Filu followed up, summoning with her own chakra a dozen whirlpools that churned into existence and then invert them into drills that arched out of the water. With a yip they spiraled into one another to form a single construct, melding into one large water drill that bore its way into the weakened coral and the spun madly to grate away at it and prevent it from reforming.
Mei finished the seals for her technique as the drill broke through at last and exhaled. From her own lips emerged a dragon that was molten in nature. It bellowed as it slithered through the space and into the opening that had been forming. Within that dark space where the only light was the formation of the two chakras melding into a sphere of destruction, it spied the eye of the Three-Tailed Turtle and lunged….
The roar that followed was the loudest that had been heard so far, the anguish and agony of it making the defensive bud of coral collapse as the two summonings and their charges fled. The pain disrupted the melding, imperfection setting it off. The yang chakra over shadowed the yin and the excess that wasn’t devoured ruptured in a thin pillar that broke the storm clouds above the lake and then slowly expanded from its base, a fearsome wind ahead of it and threatening to send the summonings and the shinobi attached to them into the swamplands before it settled. The steam that had risen up and formed a wall obscured their vision as they waited with baited breath to see the outcome of their gamble….
Isobu remained a lot the water, its eye closed as light no longer reached it and hoarse groans left its mouth. Motes of light and darkness appeared once more and tried to congeal into a single mass a second time.
“He just won’t quit,” Naruto noted.
“If Isobu is under the effects of that damnable eye he won’t stop as long as he remains standing,” Kurama noted with disdain. “It forces him to move and fight, a slave in his own body and mind.“
“Lady, got it in you for another light?” Gamabunta asked. Mei nodded. “Then I’ll provide the oil, you light it on fire.“
The cheeks of the Toad Boss swelled as he rushed forth and then released a spray of black and crude oil in the form of a funnel-shaped spout. When fire emerged from Mei’s lips, it met and a billowing wave of heat formed as the combination slammed into the tailed Beast with enough force to send it reeling.
Isobu wailed in agony as the burning oil transferred the heat through his shell and to the soft flesh beneath. It dove under water to try and alleviate the burn, but the oil kept it alight. Reaching the bottom of the lake, it upturned the silt and tried to smother the flames, only for a maelstrom to form around its mass and pluck both it and the silt into it to form a dirty whirlpool that shot up into a waterspout at the behest of the Nguruvilu Boss.
Sent skyward, Naruto watched as gravity took hold of the Three-Tailed Turtle once the spout capped off and sent Isobu down at an arch, leaving the hulking behemoth crashing down with a large cloud of splinters, dust, and murk in the woodlands. The massive chakra beast groaned and was then encased in a grey-greenish light as his form shrank.
“I think he’s down now,” Utakata mused.
Kushina shook her head. “There’s still one more thing we need to do…”
The mindscape of the Mizukage and Three-Tailed Turtle was a contrast to that of the One-Tailed Raccoon and Gaara of the Desert. Instead of endless sands with only an oasis of relief, it was a never-ending body of water perpetually shrouded in mist, with the only bastion being a chunk of land that peaked in a curve at the top. Kushina, Kurama, Naruto, Saiken, and Utakata all stood there, their gazes fixed on a horrifying sight.
Both Yagura and Isbobu stood in place on the water, empty-eyed with nightmarish chains piercing their bodies and minds from above. At the other end of the chains was the source, a red wheel that spun without end, what looked to be a black three-point shuriken with a tail connecting to the next point making them seem like a second circle within the first.
“The Mangekyo Sharingan,” Kushina said softly. She could never forget those same eyes that had ensnared her at one time, forcing her to release the seal binding Kurama inside of her after giving birth. The same design as those of the masked man who threatened to kill her child.
“Those same. Damn. Eyes.” Kurama snarled. “It drove Isobu to fight but it made him lame, a puppet on strings.“
Saiken agreed. “If he had been himself, Isobu could use a mist to drive away those within it or open a rift to another pocket dimension. That battle would not have been so easy.“
“How do we free them?” Naruto asked, ignoring the fact that they called what just transpired an easy battle.
“That eye is a physical manifestation of the chakra holding them in a thrall,” Kushina stated. “Because they’re already caught they can’t escape, so we need to use enough chakra to break them free. If both of the Tailed-Beast work it tandem then it should work and I can apply the seal.”
Kurama snorted. Even as it did so, the air around it warped. “I alone will suffice.“
Naruto backed away as the fox stepped forward. The water beneath its paws began to boil. Steam rose to envelope the limbs and the curled around the tails that menacingly swayed around.
“Shameful,” the fox spat out with barely constrained fury. “We nine, the second sons and daughter of the Sage of Six Paths, the inheritors of his will and vessels that hold the power of the Ten-Tails. Betrayed by those who bore his blood, to be bartered around by the descendant of the second-born of our father and then mentally enslaved by the first-born with those damnable eyes!”
The maw opened to reveal fangs. The nine tails curled up and inwards, nine arches that touched down at the opening. Spheres of crimson appeared as his rage was given form. They gathered into one where the nine points of the tail met, pulling towards the gap the entrance of its throat. The orb that formed was a single, violent, throbbing mass of malice.
“HOW. DARE. THEY!” A crimson spear of light launched, parting the air with such furiosity that it howled as it sailed towards the spinning eye. It smashed through it with impudence. The mirror-wheel eye crumbled like shattered stained-glass, the chains connected to it dissolving as they tumbled into the waters of the mindscape.
The group watched as the pair, now freed from the chains, collapsed. To hold them under its control for so long had hollowed them out. It would take months or possibly years for them to regain the same level of mental function they once had.
Wisps of crimson left the fox’s maw as Kurama turned to Kushina. “Get to work, woman. The longer I remain her, the more my fury will boil over.“
“If it weren’t for the fact that I’m as angry as you are I’d chain that mouth of yours shut,” she responded with her eyes closed as she advanced towards the pair. Regardless of their mutual enemy, they were under no circumstances in the mood to pretend to be friendly.
Nevertheless, Kushina set to work.
Some Time Later…
After that battle, once night fell, the group reached what served as a safe-house for the time being. Naruto had showered and dressed in spare clothing they procured some time after the battle, a simple shirt and pants to go with his gloves and sandals. There were a number of rooms in the building, each one having the simplest comforts of a bed, which he desperately needed after so many nights without one, but he couldn’t sleep.
Instead he wondered into a room where Kushina sat down in a chair next to Isaribi, who was bandaged more so than when they first met her. A soft whisper was coming out of her lips, a lullaby for the slumbering Maiden of the Sea. When she turned to look at him, her eyes were downcast and somber.
“How are you feeling, Naruto?” she asked.
“Fine, I guess,” he said, rubbing his eyes. “How’s Isaribi-nee?”
“Isaribi-chan…” Kushina sighed. “If her Kaima Form had dropped any sooner, then she would be dead. It saved her and, now that I’ve gotten the Contact Scroll back, I sent for Tsunade. But the healers here say that she won’t be able to move around well for months with the damage she took.”
His expression tightened. “If I had been just a little stronger…”
He trailed off as she shook her head. “If you had been stronger, if we had gotten there earlier, if, if, if… There are no ‘ifs’ at this point. There never are once the deed is done. Especially not in war….”
Silence ensued as the weight of the words pressed against Naruto.
“We’re heading back home,” she said slowly, to break the silence after a full two-minutes. “A change in regime doesn’t happen overnight, so Kiri will be unstable for a month or so at least. Maybe they’ll have themselves in order by the next Chuunin Exams, but I’ve exposed you and Isaribi-chan to too much in too little time. I’ll maintain communication with Mei-san and Utakata-san, but it’s time we left.”
He found himself agreeing, having had enough of the Bloody Mist for the time being. It had already dyed him and his world in its colors enough.
Notes: Finally, the Arc Ends!
Nguruvilu—a river-dwelling creature and looks much like a strange fox, with a long body, similar to a snake, and a long tail with fingernails that it uses like a claw; but it’s a water-being. Nguruvilus live in and are the cause of dangerous whirlpools which kill people who try to cross rivers. The creatures make the water shallow on either ford, to encourage people to try to cross it making it seem safe.
That’s right, I found an already existing creature to be used for summoning that has to do with whirlpools and foxes all in one.
Fanfics that I have found interesting and have recently been updated:
Silver Swords and Black Crows
A Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Prototype Crossover
Summary: Fate stay night / Fate prototype crossover. When Rin Tohsaka saved a boy from certain death, she had been relieved. Relieved, and tired. Which made her forget to check up on him. Which led Servant Lancer to come after him without interference- at first, anyway. Fortunately for the red-haired magus, there is a witch who can help him in her stead. A witch on the night of fate.
Personal Fanfic Update
The Spiraling Ninja of Uzushio
Summary: Forced to leave behind Konoha after Hinata is hurt, Naruto ventures out to the his fallen homeland in order to survive. Reuniting with his mother, they plan to resurrect his Father & Uzushio once again…If they just so happened to topple the Mizukage, screw over Orochimaru, meet Jinchuurki, or save a few villages along the way, a bonus really…
I’ve finally gotten around to the Fall of the Mizukage arc of the story. So Here’s Chapter 9
Been a long time since I released a new chapter of this, so here you go: Here
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Both Naruto fanfics have been updated, as well as Fate Extra New Moon:
Also, new PPGD:
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New chapter of ASN Naruto: Here
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Read the rest of the comics at Snafu-Comics
Read the rest of the comics at Snafu-Comics
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Chapter 3 is out now. Read it, comment, worship the whirlpools and tell your friends.
Chapter 2.5 of ASN Naruto AKA Hinata: Fallen Princess is out now: Here
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The second chapter of my Naruto fanfic can be found here: Chapter 2
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Yeah….sorry for the lack of updates, as I have mentioned many times before, I have a short attention span and I’m drawn to reading certain things like a month to an open flame. I haven’t forgotten about FE: New Moon, I’m pacing myself so that I can see what Fate Extra CCC is about.
But, I do have a new Naruto fanfiction here: ASN Naruto
In other news:
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