Number 7; Lightning
Pain. It was all he knew for a long time. The name Harry Potter had been shed the moment he received the potion and became one of Danzou-sama apprentices. Of course that was what the new children wanted to believe. He knew different though. He had been a weapon before, fully grown before having to relive everything once more. Growing up in the care of Danzou-sama was different though.
His four-year-old body clearly disappointed his new Master. It was frail and weak. His magic might have reached majority together with his mind, but his body was what it had been when he was still guest in the Dursley household. His bones broke easily and his muscles weren't developed fully. The potion caused a virus to spread through his weak body, meaning he had to stay in bed for a week before Danzou-sama was finally able to test everything. At least his reflexes were still there or the now four-year-old would not have made it past the first month.
Danzou-sama had him hooked onto several types of drugs, testing each addictive plant mercilessly to build up his resistance. And while his disillusioned mind tried to decide which way was up, the youth was subjected to endless training sessions to build up his stamina. Just about every bone in his body had been broken and healed, only to be broken once more before his fifth birthday. To test his speed, various traps all designed to kill had been set around for the child to move through.
At least his new Master hadn't taken his virginity yet.
The sound of hardened skin against softer skin had echoed through the chamber the first time the raven head had offered the service. Danzou-sama had looked troubled was his excuse. The older man's refusal stung a little but it was the first kindness his Master had shown him since coming to the Foundation.
"You are still wet behind the ears," his Master had answered when he had looked at the older man questioningly. "We Shinobi do not seek to have sex with mere children. I do not care what that wizard told you before. At ROOT there is no such thing. There is Honour even in the Shadows. Now get out of my sight."
The four-year-old had moved swiftly into the shadows and out of the room before he could disappoint his Master any further. Would the man have accepted him if he had been sixteen years old still? For the first time the boy felt conflicted, wishing to have been older still yet knowing full well that he shouldn't doubt his Master's wishes.
"But what do you want, Harry?"
Too distracted, the raven head nearly bumped into the two younger 'students' who had been sharing a book together. One of them seemed to recognise him almost instantly while the other merely apologised with a bow. "You're number seven aren't you?" the one who had recognised him asked.
Green eyes quickly sized the two up. They both had numbers on the side of their necks which meant that they probably wouldn't last much longer. The ones who showed more promise were either marked somewhere less visible or not at all. Much like the raven head who still carried the reminder of his past in the form of a scar shaped like a lightning bolt on his forehead. It was because of that mark Danzou-sama had asked him to wear a bandana to hide it.
The two younger ROOT members started to shuffle nervously under the scrutinizing gaze of those cold, green eyes. They quickly made some excuse and rushed away from the older boy. This was what he had always been and no-one, not even Hermione Granger, had been able to change him. Because even if each new Master desired something else from him, he just continued shedding the next name and created a new one.
A smirk graced his otherwise emotionless face for a split second, relishing the feeling of achievement as he watched the two younger ROOT members disappear around the corner. The emotion left his body when he dropped his smirk, continuing on his way to his room.
That encounter started several rumours which would be told from senpai to kohai over the following years. It was one of his more merciful moments after all. It was also why he was never branded. Everyone in the Foundation knew where his loyalties lay, but more importantly, Danzou-sama knew that he would never betray the Master he had no matter what.
Because without his Master, he would not exist…
His first mission seemed laughably easy, but turned out to be a test of his patience. At seven-years-old he was to infiltrate the Academy and pass himself off as a student. He would graduate as a mediocre student who hadn't been noticed the entire year and didn't distinguish himself enough. Only one student questioned his presence when the final tests started.
It was the first time he used his magic outside of the Foundation. While a memory seal would leave a mark on his victim, the Memory Charm would only leave the intended slightly confused. The student failed his test, seemingly too confused to perform the requested standard Academy three. It had been odd to be around students again and flashbacks of his previous life threatened to overwhelm his younger body. He had been unable to stop the trembling hands for several days. Not until Danzou-sama helped him out. His Master was kind like that, casting a genjutsu with his Sharingan to reign in his wavering thoughts and set him back on the right path.
What Danzou-sama hadn't been able to stop was his meeting with the three-year-old Jinchuuriki. The Legacy of the Yondaime Hokage had run into the ROOT operative near the top of the Hokage monument. It was also the first time ANBU caught a glimpse of the former wizard. They didn't intervene when the blonde rambled to the person who didn't look at him with hate filled eyes. When he tried to leave Naruto tried to follow him, but he just shot the blonde down and continued his way back to the Foundation. One of the ANBU had tried to follow him, but the former wizard took the seasoned Shinobi by surprise and used another piece of magic to confound the older man's senses.
Danzou-sama regarded the raven head who had given his report not seconds before. "It seems you did quite well during this mission," he praised softly. The metal tip of his cane dug into his shoulder, much like it had done on their first meeting. "Your run-in with the fox brat may prove useful in the end. Tell me how you intend to spend the following year? You are about to become eight years of age, are you not?"
"Yes Danzou-sama," the raven head answered softly. "My life is for my Master and so my Master will decide where I will go. Please Master; tell me what you wish me to do."
Danzou-sama nodded approvingly and the raven head lowered his head again in submission. The metal tip dug a little deeper into his shoulder. Anyone else would have flinched away from the pain by now, but the child was indifferent to the pain. In fact he welcomed the distraction. It made him feel oddly alive. This idea was quickly squashed when the pressure on his shoulder was lifted. He didn't need to feel alive to serve his Master, he just needed to remain alive long enough to complete his mission.
"I want you to start working on your elemental control through your chakra," his Master said in his impassive tone. "As a side mission, I want you to keep an eye on the fox brat. You will report to me about his movements and his process. Kill him instantly if he shows any sign of the Kyuubi taking over. He must be killed if he proves a threat to Konoha. That fool Hiruzen may think that protecting the brat by letting him live in the village is a good thing, but I know differently."
The raven head remained silent as his Master huffed in disapproval. Should he reassure his Master? But he had yet to understand what his new Master needed at certain times. He had tried to answer unasked questions, much like his first ever Master asked him to do. He had offered to be his Master's 'punching bag' so the man could release his pent up anger, just like his second Master desired of him. While the Dursley family all had been violent towards him in their own ways, he had never seen them as his Masters. They had been his caretakers and nothing more.
His third Master had been the first Master who taught him new tricks. The old professor had been quite bothersome with his opinions though. He had wanted the raven head submissive in everything but his magic and his other training. It made for conflicting thoughts and emotions during the first few years in the old professor's service.
The thing which troubled him now with his new Master was that the Shinobi hadn't laid down any such law. There were no rules in how he should behave should his Master need him in any other way then his missions. It was why he had tried different ways to show that his Master could take out any such frustrations on him. But his Master refused his every offer and came down on his training much harder than before he asked. Maybe that was what his Master wanted of him.
Satisfied with the decision, the raven head nodded to himself and his Master's request. He would train and learn everything Danzou-sama wanted him to learn. He would throw himself onto his missions to satisfy his Master and be useful to the older man in every way he could.
"Good," Danzou-sama said and the child knew that he had made the right choice. "Your training will start right away. I have a sparring partner for you. Learn from him. We will see who is stronger in the end."
The hidden message was clear. If he wanted to win this fight, he would have to kill his opponent. Even if that opponent was also a member of ROOT. The raven head was fine with that. He had killed his comrades before anyway and he wasn't nearly as familiar with the other ROOT members as he had been with the students of the Castle. It would be a lot easier killing a fellow ROOT operative than it had ever been to kill one of the students in the castle.
Something suddenly broke through his determination of killing his opponent. Danzou-sama didn't often set him up against ROOT members and he had never been given the order to kill them before. So why now? Unless it was a test to see if he could show restrained to the members of the Foundation. But he had heard the rumours before from the other members. About the ultimate exam for those who proved worthy enough to become ROOT members. But wasn't he already a member of ROOT? He had been serving his Master for three, almost four, years now. He had been loyal to Danzou-sama from the start, what else could he be? He only existed to serve Danzou-sama.
When he arrived at the training bridge to meet with his opponent, the raven head had locked away the confusing thoughts. He needed his full concentration, learn from his opponent and, when given the signal, kill the other boy. The boy didn't look like anyone special. Dressed in bland clothing, the only thing which really showed any type of connection to a clan were his facial markings. A red triangle was in the middle of his forehead and his chakra was warm like a blazing fire, but also cold like a freezing mist.
His opponent narrowed his eyes slightly. "I have to fight against him? Ch, this will be easy."
The raven head remained silent, carefully annualizing his opponent. While he looked slender, strength was still present in his body. His stance, just about everything screamed experience. Whether it was simply hours and hours of training or preforming missions, this boy in front of him had experience in the ninja arts. But would he be experienced against someone who was trained in the art of magic?
An uncharacteristic glint appeared in his eyes and Danzou-sama raised an eyebrow, but the challenge was already making his heart beat a little faster. Adrenalin rushed through him, singing in his blood like a drug, while he prepared for what was about to come. He hadn't felt like this since his fight against Voldemort. That bastard had been hard to handle, seeing as the man had powered up after he was resurrected and had been several years his senior, but the raven head had loved every minute of the fight. And now, facing another strong opponent, he couldn't help but enjoy this feeling and grow stronger from it.
His magic started to crackle like lightning underneath his skin, mixing with his chakra to create a faint humming noise. The boy in front of him smirked slightly and drew his Kama. The blade shone brightly even if the metal was dark. He narrowed his eyes at the sight of the weapon. While he had once fought with a sword, Danzou-sama had yet to train him in handling anything other than shuriken and kunai. It did him little good now though, for he had no weapons on hand.
He resisted the urge to lick his lips in anticipation and for the first time in his life he wanted to laugh out loud at the challenge. It was probably why he made the first move which was completely against everything he stood for. The move was flashy and pointless and so utterly unlike him or anything which ROOT stood for. He wasn't sure why he did it and the only thing it earned him was a pathetic slap against his flailing arms and wide kick. The Kama flashed in his direction, sheered past his nose in a wide arch and he saw how the other boy had to readjust his grip when the handle started to slip.
Something akin to disappointment made itself known and, using his speed and flexibility, he leaped over the boy's head, grabbing hold of his wrist which held the blade. He would have been able to swing his opponent in an arch through the air if the heath hadn't caused blisters to form on his hands. It was like trying to hold onto a flame and he knew that touching the other boy would be out of the question.
Jumping back to reassess, he crouched low on the platform, counting in his head. One; catch his opponent by surprise using his superior speed. Two; to defend himself the other boy would readjust to swing his Kama. Three; block with left arm before knocking the arm up and away. Four; the strength of that blow would leave him open, so blocking the incoming hit to the ribs was a must. Five…
It wasn't long until he grew bored with the fight. The older boy did possess a few powerful Jutsu but the seven-year-old had him quickly overwhelmed, using tricks and magic to gain an advantage and finish off the former clan boy. It wasn't as messy as it had been when he was still working for his former Master. The Headmaster never really cared for how much mess was created as long as he finished the job. Danzou-sama would be pleased to see that he hadn't even spilled a single drop of blood in the process.
When he turned to his Master he quickly kneeled when the lonely stone-cold eye bore down on him.
"It took you too long," Danzou-sama barked, his biting voice a much harder punishment than the cane digging into his shoulder. "I would have thought you would know better by now. No emotions, no name, no past, no future."
"I apologise Master," he muttered. "I will be faster next time."
Danzou-sama narrowed his eye at his kneeling figure for a while before lifting his cane. "See that you do." And with that he turned away.
There was a thing with one of the older members of the Foundation. Kinoe. He hadn't been familiar with the older boy, observing the Wood Release user from a distance while the boy had trained. He had watched from the side lines when the one named Hatake Kakashi had come for Kinoe and the raven head had wondered why the ANBU had rushed to save a ROOT member. It was also the first time the now eight-year-old had spotted the current Hokage, someone who ruled the Village from the Light side of things.
"I trust that these things will never happen with you," Danzou-sama said lightly.
He had wanted to bristle with indignation, but refrained. He didn't need emotions after all. "I serve my Master."
The silence between them seemed to last an age. "And I trust that I am the only Master that you serve."
The raven head looked up at the older man. He wanted to hesitate but in the end acted like the rash child he was. He stripped off his clothing under the watchful eye of his Master before standing to attention, his back proud and his eyes straight forward. "I'm yours Master," he stated proudly. "Brand me if that satisfies you. Place the Curse Mark on me like you did all the others to make me one of your trusted own. Do what you must to take away any doubt you have. I have no existence without you Master. Give me a mission, a mark, a code name. Anything which will bind me closer to you!"
Danzou-sama stared down at his naked form for a while. "For one who prides himself on having no emotions, you seem awfully full of them." For a moment the older man appeared amused but it must have been a trick of the light because Danzou-sama was a master in closing off his emotions. The raven head remained standing tall. "Cover yourself up; there is a mission I need you to fulfil."