Chapter 1: Waking Up With a New Dream
When I wake up, it's always sudden and complete. I've heard people complaining about mornings, but never quite understood why. In fact, I hold a deep and abiding envy for people who can sleep a lot, let alone sleep in. Only needing two to four hours of sleep a night at the very most leaves me with way too much time on my hands.
This morning I lay in bed for a few extra minutes, recalling all too well the events of yesterday. Now officially a genin ninja of Konohagakure, I also knew why everyone hated me, why I could barely manage to buy food for myself at highly inflated prices, why I couldn't buy clothes or ninja tools, why everything I bought was of terrible quality or spoiled, why everyone called me 'demon'. It was because the Yondaime Hokage, the fourth leader of the ninja village of the Hidden Leaf, had sealed a rampaging demon, the nine-tailed demon fox, into me when I was a baby.
Yesterday, I'd been numb to the news, scarcely capable of believing, let alone digesting. Now? Now I was angry, a cold and harsh anger unlike the fiery rage I'd felt upon occasion. It wasn't difficult to come to the conclusion that I now hated Konoha and almost everyone in it. Only five people acknowledged me as anything other than a nuisance or a menace, and the Hokage was probably not a true friend. He certainly had the power to do more than merely permit me to exist, and the ability to take care of me when I needed it most.
Iruka had stepped between me and danger of his own free will, so he was probably worthy of some trust. Teuchi and Ayame were the only reason I wasn't starving, they'd actually fed me for free sometimes. Konohamaru was amusing, really, and I could understand his feelings. Anyone else? I decided that I probably didn't care much about them, which meant that my ambition to be Hokage was no longer the burning drive it so recently was. So I needed a new ambition and dream, something to direct my drive and determination towards, and the only thing I could come up with offhand was becoming the greatest ninja ever and creating my own ninja clan, maybe my own ninja village that would be so much better than the false dream that Konoha was. Having a real family would be nice. The thoughtful frown I saw in the cracked mirror would have sent my classmates and teachers into paroxysms of laughter - after all, Naruto the moron, actually thinking? With a firm nod, I decided to settle on those two goals for now, and to keep the second a big secret.
Of course, that wasn't everything that took place yesterday. The traitor Mizuki, formerly one of the sensei at the ninja academy, had taken me aside after my failure to graduate - the clone technique was one of the basic three every academy ninja was supposed to learn, it conjured an illusionary version of you for deceptive purposes, and I simply could not perform it. Like the second basic jutsu, the transformation, it was the gateway to the studying the realm of illusion, the art of genjutsu. It took me a long time to realize that I'd also failed to master the transformation jutsu they taught in the academy. What I did was a true transformation, shapeshifting rather than mere illusion, and maintaining it was effortless. It was the transformation which improved my lifestyle enormously, allowing me to buy stuff for normal prices and take advantage of discounts, especially in the form of a pretty, innocent young girl. It was also the source of the pervert-defeating jutsu I'd come up with, the sexy technique, which I'd used to defeat old man Hokage and steal the scroll of forbidden seals for Mizuki, after he told me that was an alternative to graduation. I'd actually been naive enough to believe that they wouldn't give up on an awesome ninja like Naruto Uzumaki!
It all turned out well in the end, with Mizuki dead at the hands of a multitude of my shadow clones, the solid clone jutsu I'd learned from the forbidden scroll, and Iruka letting me graduate. I even had my shadow clones, which appeared with a copy of the scroll, go off and make a copy for me on the sly. The time for me to follow the rules of Konoha was gone, and they'd learn the price for making me a scapegoat.
Getting out of bed with a determined stride, I quickly heated up some ramen, drank my milk, and started going over the contents of the forbidden scroll.
It was scary. It was glorious. It opened my eyes to a future full of possibilities. My dream of being the greatest ninja ever was potentially closer than ever and no longer merely a dream.
I started with the shadow clone jutsu I'd already learned to perform, and read through it properly. While the scroll stated that they were terribly expensive in chakra, each one created taking an equal portion of the creator's entire stores, that was not the way it felt to me. Making a few hundred of them yesterday wasn't a significant drain. I shrugged, deciding that much like my true transformation, it was probably something I could do because I was a jinchuriki, a demon container. There was much more to shadow clones, however. What made them special was not just the fact that they were a full and true copy of the original, if with limited chakra reserves, but that upon dissipating, the ninja received all the memories of what they experienced, which made them perfect for infiltration and spying. Their drawback was fragility, the ease with which the complex chakra matrix could be disrupted. It was a kinjutsu, a forbidden technique, for two reasons - the enormous chakra drain it placed upon the user, which made it a jounin level A-ranked jutsu, and the memory feedback, too much of which could make a person's brain explode. I could use it to train, but I had to be careful not to overdo it.
Of course, maybe I was different there, too - the hundreds of clones I'd popped out yesterday had dealt me no damage, not even a headache, when they dissipated. If it worked out, this alone was a training method that could make me a matchless ninja in all fields. All I'd have to do was improve my body, the clones could do the rest. Especially if I could make them tougher, a team of them could easily take down even a far more powerful ninja, and they could throw out many powerful jutsu… as soon as I learned any. Other than true transformation, my sexy jutsu and shadow clones, all I knew was the body replacement jutsu, the third of the academy three, which let you exchange yourself with an object. It was actually a really useful one in battle, a true life-saver.
I'd actually gotten lucky, for once, a few years ago - before I learned to transform. When one of the teachers maliciously destroyed my school books and I went to buy another copy of the academy books old man Hokage originally gave me, the nasty salesman overcharged me for a particularly tattered set, which proved to be books for the older curriculum, the wartime academy training. That one actually included a whole lot more knowledge and useful stuff, even including a large number of low level jutsus as well as minor chakra exercises that were really useful. How to light a fire with a basic fire jutsu, how to recharge a battery with lightning element jutsu, how to soften the earth for comfortable sleeping camp, how to remove your scent to avoid being tracked and how to protect yourself from disgusting smells, how to purify water and clean stuff with chakra, all sorts of small but really useful stuff. There was even something for girls, how to keep their monthlies in check to avoid getting bloody in the field or get pregnant.
Unfortunately, I couldn't get any of them to work, despite the really good and simple instructions. I'd gotten badly hurt trying a couple of them, so I stopped and concentrated on what I could do, mastering the body replacement and transformation until I could trigger them without hand signs or a word. I'd even learned how to replace myself with a chakra construct rather than a real log, which was sort of like a short range teleportation, and the second level of replacement, which combined it with a transformation - convincing whoever attacked you that they'd killed the log-me.
It was all about chakra control, I realized a couple of years ago, and I simply didn't have enough - or rather, with a demon imprisoned in me, I just had too much chakra to use the small amounts genin normally spent on the genin-level jutsus. Maybe with shadow clones working on it, I'd be able to get somewhere.
Of course, shadow clones were just the beginning of what the forbidden scroll had. It contained a few offshoots of the shadow clone jutsu, the great clone explosion, which sounded really neat, and the shadow kunai and shuriken jutsus, which turned a single thrown weapon into a blizzard of steel. Those were definitely the first techniques I was going to learn!
After reading and memorizing the three techniques, I made a hundred clones to go and practice the shadow kunai and shuriken jutsus. The great explosion I'd have to work on myself, as it wasted the clones.
With what I already mostly knew done with, I went back to the beginning of the scroll, deciding not to create clones to help me with it. I needed something to do with my time, after all, as there were still more than six hours until we were supposed to report to the academy for team assignments.
Unfortunately, most of the techniques were things I barely understood, especially where I began reading. Very complicated sealing works, they mostly were. A seal that somehow gathered natural chakra, whatever that was, and converted it to electricity. A high level blood and chakra keyed security seal that produced a genjutsu that hid an area. An absolute privacy seal. A locking seal, again keyed to blood and chakra. A seal that kept any technique from getting through a wall or door and fortified the object against physical attacks and a supremely discreet alarm seal. A chakra suppression seal, applied to prisoners. Three demon-sealing methods and four types of high level barrier seals, all of which required a minimum of three ninja with jonin-level chakra reserves. Nine absolutely terrifying suicide techniques that included a final vengeance component against an individual or an area, a full four of them supposedly doing something bad to your soul. Twenty six S-ranked elemental techniques of frightening potency, army destroyers ranging from the formation of a tidal wave or a water-kraken or a whirlwind made of fire, to the calling down of the fragment of a star from beyond the skies, attempting to raise a volcano, produce an earthquake, create a contagious all-consuming fire, turn the air into deadly poison and other equally fun things. The mere thought of what most of those could do made me sick in the stomach.
Then there were two teleportation techniques, the pulse step and the flying thunder god - the last of which was apparently invented by the Nidaime Hokage, only to later be made famous by the Yondaime. A bloodline stealing technique was followed by several medical kinjutsu for the stealing of limbs, internal organs and eyes. It was rather horrifying, if far from the worst. The worst were techniques for summoning and binding demons, including advice for breeding them for bloodline abilities.
I stopped reading to run over to the bathroom and throw up, washing my face and taking a shower before going back to reading, suppressing the urge to just burn the scroll. The fact that there was so little security on it made me feel ill, and I lost absolutely all confidence in the old man. If the Sandaime couldn't keep something like this safe, he didn't deserve to wear the Hokage's hat. Hopefully, its theft would wake him up.
After reading about a kinjutsu that allowed you to steal the souls of the dead and enslave them in sacrificed bodies, I took a ramen break. Trying hard not to shiver and rubbing my stomach to help digestion and keep from wasting more ramen, I went back to reading, this time about a seal that kept anyone in the area from using chakra, a disintegration seal and a third seal that extinguished all life. There was a footnote describing similar, if lesser, techniques to paralyze or knock out people inside the confines of a five corner seal. The next jutsus dealt with creating a deadly plague and a slow acting deadly poison that could be applied to a settlement's water supply. The one after that was more interesting, a complicated seal that eroded structural integrity over time, with the whole thing appearing perfectly fine and collapsing at a pre-determined point. There was a high level and supposedly very efficient chakra storage seal, followed by a rather frightening slave-seal attuned to a master's chakra, which prevented the slave from acting against the master and slowly fostered loyalty, also allowing the master to cause pleasure and pain, and always know where the slave was. I figured that last part would teach me how to create a tracking seal when I learned to separate the nuances of sealing functions. Next were all sorts of memory seals which I didn't quite understand, and instructions on how to open the Eight Gates, removing limitations on the flow of chakra through your body - empowering it considerably but damaging it badly. Opening the final gate made you more powerful than a kage, but resulted in certain death. There were also several high level genjutsu, including the bringer of night which blinded foes, the bound eyes which brought out negative feeling and allowed you to direct the anger of foes, and the soulbane, which made you believe everyone was a deadly enemy and removed all memories of your actions while it was directed against you. Since I had no real defense against genjutsu, learning a seal that would protect me from it became a sudden priority.
Despite having skimmed over eighty percent of the scroll and still having over two hours left, I felt the need for a break. I called up a shadow clone and dismissed it, reeling as over four hundred hours of memories slammed into me. "Urgh…" I groaned, leaning against the table as I sorted the memories through a haze of pain. Ten minutes later, after more ramen and another glass of milk, I was feeling much better, especially since it worked. I could now use the shadow shuriken and shadow kunai jutsus.
Still, training like this was obviously dangerous. From now on, I'd digest no more than fifty hours of memories at a time, I determined. Each group of ten clones would train for no more than five hours, accordingly - each clone making a replacement before it faded, until there was no more chakra to spend.
Having decided to try and train like this, at least for now, I dressed and ran off to the edge of the forest, before calling up clones in groups of ten. It took a bit of experimenting before I managed to judge exactly how much chakra that took, but I got it soon enough. The first ten groups I sent off to practice chakra control, with the next five working on perfecting and increasing the speed of hand signs, the mnemonics used to channel chakra into jutsu together with the shouted name. Truly mastering a jutsu let you do it with gradually fewer signs or at the utmost level without either, but even then, calling out the name and using the hand signs made it more powerful and controlled. Thus far, I'd only mastered the transformation and replacement jutsus, but with shadow clones, I had every intention of absolutely mastering every jutsu I learned. Accordingly, five groups of ten went off to master the new shadow jutsus.
The older academy books included only the basics of elemental manipulation, the leaf exercise. Cutting it for wind, soaking it for water, burning it for fire, crinkling for lightning and dusting it for earth. I sent two groups of ten to work on each exercise, figuring that learning to work with elemental chakra more easily and eventually instinctively transforming my chakra into elemental-aspected chakra would help me master the low rank jutsus and minor exercises the books provided for students. It went to show just how much lower the requirements were in peacetime, as wartime genin all graduated with at least one elemental jutsu learned. The books included details of over twenty and all of them were really useful, though admittedly not terribly powerful. Learning the camping and comfort exercises would also be particularly nice, as they made life so much easier. With ten groups practicing the leaf exercises for elemental manipulation, the next four groups of ten were assigned to work on stealth and awareness. They would creep around in the forest, trying to surprise each other - a touch on an unaware clone was victory. Sensing chakra was a vital skill for a ninja, and one that I'd never managed to develop - hopefully this sort of tag game would help there. Another four groups went off to practice taijutsu. While I knew the academy style pretty well, I didn't get to spar much, and I really needed more experience. Hopefully, the clones would be careful and avoid popping each other.
Another more advanced subject the wartime books covered was sealing. I'd read about some of what high level sealing could do, and I knew that it was one subject I really needed to cover. The Yondaime's infamous flying thunder god was seal-based, for example, and it was another army destroying jutsu - though a choosy one, unlikely the indiscriminate destruction offered by many other S-ranked jutsus. The books I had included the basics for storage seals and explosive tags, as well as some more general theory. Most importantly, for sealing I needed absolute control of the medium, that is to say perfect calligraphy. Perhaps later I'd control the ink directly or use something else, but for the basics and for now, there was no substitute available. The last twelve groups I sent off to practice handwriting, as pathetic as that was.
Sealing seemed to be the most powerful of the arts of the ninja, and I had every intention of mastering it. The history section mentioned that there weren't many seal masters, which made it even more important, as a rare skill would prove a surprise to most. The Yondaime had been incredibly young when he won the third shinobi world war for Konoha with his sealing mastery, and died not much older. I couldn't really imagine how much better he would have gotten had he lived, so really, he was the one to surpass, and I could best do that by mastering seals. The Yondaime, my former idol, was now tarnished by the sacrifice he'd foisted on me and his lack of forethought in offering me any sort of protection. For all that, earning a 'flee on sight' order in the bingo books and earning SS-rank while at little more than twenty years old was seriously impressive.
I made absolutely sure to number the teams, so they knew in which order to conjure a replacement and dispel. I had enough people who wanted to kill me, there was no need to blow up my own brains through sheer overload of stupidity.
The list of what I needed to learn and improve was ridiculously long, and reading the forbidden scroll showed that there were many things I needed to prepare to face against, most especially poison, genjutsu and area-destruction jutsu, and those very frightening seals which could spell instant defeat. Shadow clones were one solution to many obstacles and dangers, but they might not always work or be enough. However difficult it was, I knew that I would prevail, I felt it in my heart. There was no give in Naruto Uzumaki!
For the next two hours, I just ran around Konoha. I needed to build up my body, only I wasn't entirely sure how to do that. Simply running was getting to be too easy nowadays, even running at full speed without using my bloodline didn't really tire me. I was also one of the shortest in class, but I didn't know what to do about that either. I sent five groups of clones to Konoha's public library, hoping to find answers to those questions, and to questions I'd never thought to ask.
A quick shower, a stop at Ichiraku for proper breakfast, and for once I was on time for the academy. Didn't want to miss meeting my team!