Story Synopsis: Destiny is a funny thing… you never know how life will turn out. A proverb that Naruto and Sasuke realize when their fated clash at the Valley of the End sucks them into the Fairy Tail universe. Notions are broken as the duo face a fight for survival against the forces of a corrupt government, criminal syndicates, and Hell itself. Will the Sons of the Sage rise to the challenge?
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN NARUTO, NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, OR ANY OTHER WORKS CREATED BY MASASHI KISHIMOTO. PLEASE SUPPORT THE OFFICIAL RELEASE.
Chapter #3: Advance
"Wow, I'm stuffed! Yukari-baachan is a goddess at cooking!" Naruto remarked in contentment, rubbing his stomach in satisfaction.
"Hmph, I think you enjoyed it a bit too much. Ten helpings of pancakes, three plates of eggs, a whole side of bacon, and a gallon of orange juice? I'd say you were Choji if I didn't know you any better." Sasuke commented in feigned disgust.
"Oi! I'm a growing boy, I'll have you know. It's the Kyuubi's fault, whatever he did to me made me this way." Naruto deflected.
"Why you lyin'? You've had this sickening habit ever since you stepped foot into that ramen stand." Kurama said telepathically.
The Kyuubi had come to realize that he had gained a much greater ability to exert his influence on the outside world thanks to sharing his chakra with Naruto. One new skill was now being able to speak telepathically to anyone other than his jinchuriki. Kurama was excited at the potential for new stimulus after decades of sensory deprivation and planned to abuse this new freedom maliciously.
"What the hell, Kyuubi? You're supposed to be on my side." Naruto balked.
"I recall saying no such thing. Unless I have to save your ass from dying, you're on your own." Kurama snickered.
"Double crosser." Naruto grumbled while opening the door to their room, to which Sasuke smirked in response.
Sasuke sighed in discomfort as he sat cross-legged on his cot, his body was still hurting from last week's events.
"Hn, such an annoyance. If only I had your healing factor, then we could start preparing for those demons." Sasuke complained as he tried to stretch out his sore limbs.
"Ah, don't be like that. My coordination is still a bit off, so I'm in the same boat as you." Naruto responded.
Naruto's words did little to relieve the Uchiha, in fact it made him worry that much more. They couldn't afford to be taking it easy with the powerful forces that were out there.
"That isn't any better. We need to get to the next level. You heard the Kyuubi, even the weakest demon is at the level of a Jonin. Sitting here twiddling our thumbs is going to get us killed." Sasuke countered heatedly.
"Yeah… I guess you're right. But what can we do about it?" Naruto said, his expression morphing in contemplation.
"Hmmm… I think I might have a solution." Kurama responded after a moment of silence, an evil grin forming on his maw.
"You do? Well, what is it?" Sasuke asked with interest.
"No." Naruto stated bluntly before the tailed beast could respond.
Sasuke may not have noticed, but Naruto could tell in his sleep when the Kyuubi concocting a maniacal plan.
"Oh come now, Naruto. I promise that it won't hurt a bit." Kurama lied disarmingly, pasting a fake angelic smile on his face.
The blond jinchuriki gave the Kyuubi a skeptical, side-eyed look, wondering if the tailed beast actually thought that he was stupid enough to fall for his reassurances.
"Who do you think you are trying to fool? The devil was an angel once, so don't think that I'm going to fall for your ruse." Naruto countered.
"Shut up you dumbass. If you want to be a slacker, fine… but don't drag me down with you." Sasuke rebuked.
"Bastard… can't you see that I'm trying to save your ass. You have to take anything the Kyuubi says with a grain of salt. Taking anything that he offers without precaution is like walking into a wolves' den wearing a meat suit." Naruto growled, trying to make his friend see reason.
"Come on brat, like I said before we're in this together. Harming you will harm my chances of getting out of here, so I promise that I'll try to play nice." Kurama simpered mockingly.
Naruto snorted at the tailed beast's words, but stifled his complaints.
"Fine then, I'll play along. What's your big idea?" Naruto asked skeptically.
"Ever since you ripped the seal and our chakras mixed to an even greater amount, I've noticed that I've gained a lot more ability in affecting the outside world. As you've seen, I can now telepathically speak to the Uchiha at any time, not just in Hell where my powers are amplified." Kurama began.
Sasuke nodded at this point, gesturing for the Kyuubi to go on. Sasuke hadn't thought too much of it because the Kyuubi had done it before in Purgatory, but upon realizing that it was situational got the gears turning in his head.
"I've also figured out that this phenomenon has allowed me to alter Naruto's mindscape to my whim. If the theory that I now have works, you'll have a method of training where you won't even have to move your bodies." Kurama finished.
Naruto and Sasuke's eyes widened in shock at the explanation, brainstorming the implications of this. If such a thing existed, it would be quite a helpful tool.
"How would that even work?" Naruto asked in contemplation.
"Your seal functions on space-time manipulation. I'm not sure of the specifics, but fuinjutsu has in effect created a separate dimension within your mind where I can reside and you can interact from time to time. You can essentially do anything in here that you can do in the outside world. My plan is to tether the Uchiha's mind with yours by creating a link formed with my chakra, allowing him to access this place as well. That's not even the best part though, time moves much slower in the outside world than in here. You can get hours of training in the mindscape where only a couple of seconds would pass on the outside." Kurama continued.
"Holy crap…" Sasuke muttered, to which Naruto could only nod.
"Who knew cooperating with the Kyuubi would be this beneficial? I guess I can try to stop being so hostile to him, he deserves that much." Naruto thought.
Naruto was probably one of the purest people you could ever find, not one to be held up on grudges or negative emotions. That being said, Naruto was still human at the end of the day as shown with the massive amount of apprehension he possessed when dealing with the Kyuubi.
But, why shouldn't he? The Kyuubi after all was the root source of all the strife in Naruto's life. Even if the tailed beast wasn't intentional about it, it still took the normally uber-forgiving shinobi a little while to get over it.
"All right then, I guess you've proved your point. So how do we go about this?" Naruto asked with a grin, it seemed things were finally going there way.
"I have a few methods, but let's try this first. Get comfortable because this might take a while. Now I want the both of you to form the Ram hand seal and focus your chakra into your heads, that'll make it easier for my chakra to latch between the both of you. Naruto, you are the focus so I need you to keep calm and still, any movements will screw this up so temper your skittishness. Sasuke, I need you to relax and open your mind, try not to jerk to any strange sensation you might feel because it'll be me trying to forge a link with you. The good thing though is that after we do this once, it will be much easier to repeat." Kurama ordered.
Naruto and Sasuke followed the tailed beast's command by sitting cross-legged and forming the hand seal. The Kyuubi waited a couple minutes for the two boys to reach the equilibrium that he wanted, Naruto had trouble focusing his chakra thanks to his abhorrent control, something that will need to be corrected, and Sasuke needed a bit to still his thoughts.
Eventually though, the bedroom became still and quiet as the two shinobi meditated.
"Good, we can now begin. Remember what I said Naruto, don't move a muscle." Kurama reminded, before forming a nexus of chakra around Naruto's forehead.
The odd sensation tickled the jinchuriki, but he forced himself to sit still as the chakra continued to emerge until it was focused into a tiny ball of red energy.
"Sasuke, you're next. Relax and expand your consciousness to the world." Kurama continued, before the dot of red chakra extended as a beam to connect with Sasuke's forehead.
Sasuke could almost feel the intrusion on his thoughts, but like Naruto forced himself to relax and allow the process to continue. After a few more moments of silence, the connection finally reached its conclusion and the Kyuubi sighed in relief at the success.
"Alright, I can't believe that worked. You two, you may open your eyes now." Kurama said.
Naruto and Sasuke opened their eyes as one and their expressions morphed in shock, albeit for differing reasons.
"What the hell? Last time I checked, this place was a freakin' sewer! How did it change so fast?" Naruto thought in amazement.
The scenery of the once murky, dank sewer had vanished entirely, now replaced with a sprawling field of grass that expanded endlessly into the horizon. Trees dotted the landscape sporadically before coalescing into a thick forest that occupied the western part of the mindscape.
Naruto and Sasuke's ears twitched at the sound of a flowing river running down from the north where a mountain range presided, before emptying out into a sizeable lake that took shape in the northeast. The sky was a serene blue that was populated with wispy clouds, and a radiant sun shined down brightly on them.
"I have often dreamed of returning to the beauty of nature in my lower moments. But humanity always seems to have different ideas. At least this way I can experience it, real or not." Kurama said in a rare moment of weakness.
Sasuke raised an eyebrow at the odd turn of behavior, while Naruto looked down in a little bit of shame. At the end of the day, the Kyuubi was a sentient being with its own desires and it too had suffered wrongs at the hands of society.
Another trait that they shared it seemed.
"Well, enough of that. ALRIGHT MAGGOTS! FRONT AND CENTER!" Kurama barked, his expression making a complete reversal.
The two shinobi jumped at the tone change and eyed the tailed beast warily. What the hell was the Kyuubi on about?
"Um… Kyuubi? What's this all about?" Naruto asked hesitantly.
"I'm glad you asked, my idiot jinchuriki. From the kindness of my heart, I've decided to take it upon myself to whip you two imbeciles into respectable shinobi! I'M TAKING YOU TWO WHELPS TO BOOT CAMP!" Kurama roared.
Naruto and Sasuke shared a nervous look with each other, gulping in apprehension.
"...I'm sorry, Naruto. You were right all along. Meat suit in a wolves' den indeed." Sasuke whispered.
"...Well, it's too late now Sasuke. I'll kick your ass in the afterlife." Naruto replied.
"Awww… making a cute little death pact? WELL TOO BAD! Death's a luxury that you can't afford." Kurama said.
"Dumbass!" Kurama yelled, rounding on Naruto.
The blond jinchuriki straightened warily at the Kyuubi's call, wondering what torture he was going to lay on him.
"Luckily for you, since we reside in a mental representation of reality, we can't partake in physical methods of training. However, chakra is all spiritual which is more than enough for me to make your life a living hell. Your task will be to stop sucking so bad in chakra control. You were trash before and your increased reserves have made you even worse." Kurama explained.
Naruto scowled at the mention of his worst shinobi discipline. Every teacher he ever had constantly complained of it: Iruka, Kakashi, Jiraiya, and now even the Kyuubi.
It wasn't his fault, it was hard trying to use something sparingly that he had an abundance of, it was like trying to fill a tiny cup with a bucket full of water.
Horrifically inaccurate and wasteful.
"Turn that frown upside down, soldier. I don't need for you to be perfect, in fact for what I have planned out for you, your reserves will be a massive boon. Tailed beasts don't use chakra in a conventional manner and as someone who has chakra that rivals such, you'll follow suit." Kurama explained.
"What do you have in mind?" Naruto asked, his expression brightening in interest.
"That's for me to know and for you to find out." Kurama answered, before scrunching his features in concentration.
A couple seconds later, a full grown tree erupted behind Naruto and Sasuke.
"I recall there being three types of chakra control exercises that you humans like to use, the leaf rotation, tree walking, and water walking. Start from the beginning and I'll consider you finished when you can form a Rasengan with no shadow clones. Hop to it." Kurama beckoned with a shooing gesture.
Naruto huffed at the dismissal, but walked over to the tree and punched it hard, causing dozens of leaves to fall to the ground. Naruto picked one up and placed it on his forehead, before sitting down in a meditating position.
"Alright then, let's see how much work I have to do." Naruto thought while forming a Ram hand seal, before he slowly and carefully emitted a burst of chakra from his forehead that would levitate the leaf a couple of inches.
The burst of chakra proceeded to rocket the leaf several feet in the air, the force so great that it disintegrated near instantly.
"...Fuck." Naruto thought deadpan, he had a lot of work to do.
"Emo brat, you're up." Kurama stated.
Sasuke scowled at the tailed beast, why did everyone call him that? Just because he wasn't always excessively happy, wore dark colors, and talked little made him an emo?
"Alright, listen up. You don't like me and I sure as HELL don't like you, but we're stuck in this together because the dumbass wants you around. And as much as it pains me to say, you're the more disciplined shinobi compared to my jinchuriki, so I don't really have any problems for you to fix. Allowing me to actually teach you shit." Kurama growled, to which Sasuke smirked at.
"And what would that be?" Sasuke asked in intrigue.
"Imma teach you how to REALLY use fire. Each tailed beast possesses a specialty in the elements and mine so happens to be Katon (Fire Release) and Futon (Wind Release). You will learn how to manipulate flames without hand seals, through pure nature manipulation, increasing their versatility and power. And thanks to your knowledge of how this process should work because of the Chidori, it'll be that much easier for you." Kurama said, before plucking a leaf from the ground and holding it in front of Sasuke.
Sasuke rose an eyebrow in confusion until he saw steam begin to emit from the leaf. Upon realization of what the Kyuubi was trying to do, Sasuke activated his newly matured Sharingan and closely watched the tailed beast's manipulation of chakra, committing the scene to memory.
"Good, it seems that you have a brain. Practice this to improve your control of Katon and when I see fit we'll move on to another exercise." Kurama ordered, before leaving Sasuke to his own devices.
The Kyuubi rested on his paws and tried to find a comfortable position. If the constant failures of Naruto to stop destroying his leaf and the chakra intensive nature of the exercise he gave Sasuke to do were any indication, he was in for the long haul.
"Hey! Who said you could sleep?! Get your ass up, that leaf ain't gonna rotate itself!" Kurama roared in full on drill sergeant mode.
Naruto slowly dragged himself up from the ground, once again cursing his ridiculous chakra reserves. While Sasuke was allowed to rest every once in a while due to the risk of chakra exhaustion, his Kage level reserves as well as his ridiculous chakra recovery rate thanks to the increased flow of chakra that came from the Kyuubi meant that he couldn't run out of chakra fast enough while doing an exercise such as rotating a leaf.
Despite possessing such extreme stamina however, Naruto was still human which meant that he still needed to sleep. But the Kyuubi wouldn't be satisfied until he managed to steadily hold the leaf above his head while rotating it, something he had yet to accomplish.
"Come on you stupid leaf, stop ripping apart already!" Naruto irritably thought, while attaching yet another leaf to his forehead.
The jinchuriki had actually made quite a bit of progress, Naruto had stopped destroying the leaf every time he applied chakra to it and was able to levitate it, albeit a little wobbly, two inches above his forehead.
Unfortunately, every time he tried to rotate the leaf, his chakra control flopped and the leaf was ripped apart once again. Thousands of shredded leaves surrounded the jinchuriki as Naruto continued to practice.
"C-Come on dobe... FINISH ALREADY!" Sasuke shouted, panting on the ground like a dog.
Sasuke's task had seemed to be quite simple, he was to master his control of Katon chakra to the point where he could summon it at will without hand seals. As practice, the Uchiha had to heat up the center of a leaf until it was a smoldering ember and then try to keep the flame from expanding and consuming the whole thing.
In reality however, it was quite a difficult process. Sasuke had to alter the amount of chakra he applied constantly in order to fluctuate the temperature so the flame wouldn't go out or spiral out of control. The Uchiha was truly lucky to possess the Sharingan as it allowed him to perfectly memorize the flow of chakra necessary to perform the exercise without need for trial and error.
Unfortunately, despite all of the benefits that the Kekkei Genkai gave Sasuke, it still wasn't a substitute for the massive chakra reserves required to perform the exercise for long periods of time. Sasuke didn't even have small reserves, they were actually quite large for even an experienced Chunin. Not to talk of the levels he reached under the influence of the Curse Mark.
But when compared to that of a jinchuriki and a tailed beast, it practically amounted to nothing. The Uchiha had driven himself to near chakra exhaustion four times already and the Kyuubi only gave him about an hour to rest before he had to start all over again.
Nevertheless, Sasuke had also made large strides in improvement. Whereas the first time he tried, Sasuke could only perform the exercise for about thirty minutes. But now Sasuke could now hold up for several hours at a time.
Despite the pain, the Uchiha knew that his chakra reserves had increased and his proficiency over Katon became more thorough with every attempt. Once he put his newfound nature transformation skills to use, his flames would become hotter and more explosive, not to mention less chakra intensive.
Sasuke only wished that he had mastered this exercise when he was a child before trying to learn the Katon: Gokakyu (Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique) to impress his father. It would have made his attempts a hell of a lot easier.
The Kyuubi's training exercise was actually the seldom used method of the Katon nature transformation where the user was to knead normal chakra together to cause friction that would eventually cause a spark of fire.
While mastery allowed for the creation of stronger flames, Sasuke was experiencing first hand how was difficult and chakra intensive the training for it was. Still, while it would have sucked in the beginning, it would have benefited him in the long run.
Most Uchiha opted to just force their chakra to mimic the properties of fire with hand seals, but while "easier" in practice a lot of power was lost this way. Probably why he had a lot of trouble as child to even form flames because of his weak chakra.
"I guess this is what the Kyuubi meant by really using fire. Too bad he's such an ass about it." Sasuke thought in exhaustion, forcing himself into a sitting position.
Whatever, he would suffer now and get stronger. But one day… one day… he would have his revenge.
The poor fool.
"I think I've got it!" Naruto yelled, bringing Sasuke out of his revenge filled musings. The Kyuubi's ears pricked at the exclamation and a devilish smile came to his face at the idea that popped into his head.
"Prepare to eat your words Kyuubi! Once I'm done, I'm out of here." Naruto demanded.
"That's IF you succeed. But sure, I'll let you two go for the day if you manage it." Kurama acquiesced, to Naruto's delight.
"Thank Kami." Naruto praised, before scrunching his features in concentration as he poured all his focus into moving the leaf.
The leaf that was situated on Naruto's forehead rose steadily, levitating in a stable manner three inches in the air. After a few seconds of this, the leaf slowly began to rotate.
Well… it would've if the Kyuubi wasn't an asshole. But he is, so life couldn't be that easy.
A suspicious wind carried itself over to Naruto and blew the leaf right out of the air, making it land on the ground with a soft plop.
Naruto and Sasuke's hearts followed suit.
"...B-But… h-how...w-why?" Naruto stammered in horror, while Sasuke laid back down on the ground in defeat and groaned pitifully.
"Oh no… that's too bad. Well, tough luck. You fail. Looks like it's more training for you two. Get a move on." Kurama said, his expression impassive.
Unfortunately for the Kyuubi, the sleep deprivation finally caught up with the two boys. Naruto and Sasuke's eyes rolled to the back of their heads before they fell unconscious, dead as a doormat.
"Oi! You ain't finished! GET YOUR ASSES UP!" Kurama bellowed, the force of his roar causing tempest level winds to wash over the two shinobi.
Didn't do a damn thing.
"Hmph, lazy brats. Fine, take a breather. But I'm going to work you two idiots twice as hard when you wake up." Kurama said ominously.
It had been a long, agonizing two weeks. A lot of pain, sweat, and tears flowed as the Kyuubi continued to up the ante on Naruto and Sasuke.
But it was finally paying off.
"Good. Very good. It seems that you aren't useless after all my idiot jinchuriki." Kurama praised in a backhanded manner.
Naruto snarled angrily at the Kyuubi's taunting but wisely stayed quiet, lest he lose his concentration. The jinchuriki had finally climbed the hurdle that had dogged him his entire shinobi career.
Two weeks straight of nothing but chakra control training had worked miracles for Naruto. Whereas before he had struggled to rotate even a single leaf, Naruto now levitated ten leaves on top of each other, each one rotating at a different speed and different direction than the one below it.
Such a turn around would have been inconceivable to even Jiraiya, but there was no motivation like the threat of being horrifically mauled by a horde of bloodthirsty demons that got one going.
"I'll get even with you one day, Kyuubi. I SWEAR IT!" Naruto thought.
The tailed beast was truly a slave driver, if you fell asleep or failed to perform to his expectations then the Kyuubi would make your life living hell.
Anything from dangling you off a mountain, dunking you into the lake until you passed out, or imagining medieval siege weapons and chucking any sort of projectile he could think of at you.
"Why does he even think of shit like that? Such a fucked up mind." Naruto thought in annoyance, before the Kyuubi bonked him on the head with one of his tails.
"Hey, what was that for?!" Naruto cried in pain.
"Cuz you were talking shit." Kurama said, as if that explained everything.
"No, I wasn't! I didn't even say a word!" Naruto yelled before he was bitch-slapped by another tail.
"You're a goddamn liar, you know that. I am literally the manifestation of hatred and rage. Because of which, I can sense any and all negative emotions. But come on, if you think you can take me then bring it, let me open up a can of whoopass on ya scrawny behind." Kurama threatened.
Naruto grumbled in defiance, but the Kyuubi kept his pimp hand strong with another tail slap.
"What was that?!" Kurama egged on, putting his paw against his ear.
"I'm sorry, Kyuubi-sama! I'm sorry!" Naruto whined, rubbing his stinging cheek.
"That's what I thought." Kurama confirmed in satisfaction, before he was brought out of his musings by a round stifled laughing.
"I wouldn't be laughing if I were you Princess. But if you want a turn, I'll oblige you." Kurama said to Sasuke, who quickly returned back to his practicing.
Sasuke had made just as much stunning progress as Naruto had made, truly living up to his hype as a prodigy. His proficiency of Katon was quickly rising to the level of a master.
Vibrant, orange flames enveloped Sasuke's limbs as he flew through a series of rapid taijutsu katas. The Uchiha was now able to summon fire at a whim and actively used it to enhance his strikes.
After a string of airborne spinning kicks, Sasuke shifted into long range mode. He rapidly punched outward and fireballs the size of a human head fired forward at high speeds.
While Sasuke was now pretty skilled at manipulating flames for close combat, he still had a lot of work to do to improve his ranged attacks. Still, the number of hand seals that Sasuke had to form for his Katon techniques had decreased dramatically, and the Uchiha was resolved to make that number fall to zero.
"Katon: Gokakyu." (Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique) Sasuke bellowed, forming only three hand seals before releasing a giant missile of flame, much more powerful than before.
The Katon technique engulfed a row of several trees, utterly wiping all of them out of existence. A proud Sasuke smirked at his handiwork.
"Not bad Uchiha, not bad. Alright Naruto, you're up, Show me what you've got." Kurama ordered.
Naruto halted the flow of his chakra and allowed the leaves he was levitating to fall to the ground. Once he got up, the jinchuriki stretched out a bit to work out the kinks from sitting motionlessly.
"Ok, here goes nothing. Let's see how much I've improved." Naruto thought, before clenching his fist and summoning his chakra.
Lengthy wisps of powerful blue chakra swirled around in a symphony, convening together into a singular point at the center of Naruto's palm. The torrent of energy whirled like a tempest and condensed within itself, forming a perfect sphere.
In only three seconds, Naruto's new and improved Rasengan hummed into existence, its diameter swelling to the length between the top of his pointer finger and wrist.
"Wow… it's even bigger than before." Naruto said admiringly.
"You don't remember? You achieved this once already, back when you saved the Uchiha from that Balrog." Kurama remarked.
Naruto paused in recollection as he replayed the memory in his mind. Did he really? Maybe he didn't notice because he was so focused on attacking, he did fall unconscious right after as well.
"Hmm… even while distracted, Naruto's control over the Rasengan is steady. That's very promising. But now to test its power." Kurama contemplated.
A large boulder twice the size of Naruto in all dimensions sprouted into existence in front of the jinchuriki.
"Alright brat, enough gawking around. Time for a test run." Kurama said in anticipation.
Naruto sported a savage grin at the request, before he phased out of sight from sheer speed. The jinchuriki charged full throttle at the boulder, massive amounts of dirt and gravel kicking up behind him from the force of his dash.
"RASENGAN!" Naruto roared as he thrust his arm forward.
The initial impact shattered the face of the boulder, a web of cracks forming all across. The resulting explosion however, engulfed the entire structure in a whirling typhoon of power that traveled for hundreds of feet before finally dying out.
When the smoke cleared, only a crater remained.
Sasuke whistled in appreciation of the Rasengan's newfound destructive power, the Uchiha felt sorry for the poor bastard who would be on the receiving end of that.
"It seems that Naruto has been working hard as well. I'm gonna have to step up my game if I wanna keep up with him. Hmm… Kakashi's Raikiri seems like a good place to start." Sasuke thought.
The Raikiri (Lightning Cutter) was more or less a beefed up version of the Chidori. The two Raiton (Lightning Release) techniques were formed from the same hand seals, but the Raikiri focused a much greater amount of chakra into a smaller area, increasing its penetrating power by several magnitudes.
Novice level shape manipulation working in tandem with high level nature transformation turned the already lethal A-Rank Chidori into an even deadlier S-Rank technique.
"Excellent. You two have finally proven to me that you won't run into trouble and get yourselves killed. Congratulations, you've completed BASIC boot camp. Go back to the real world and take a breather, but stay vigilant. The horrors have only begun... MUAHAHAHAHA!" Kurama laughed maniacally.
You couldn't have told Naruto and Sasuke to do anything else faster, in the blink of an eye their appearances shimmered and they exited out of the mindscape in no time flat.
When Naruto and Sasuke's eyes popped back open in their real bodies, the two shinobi collapsed on their backs in sheer relief and exhaustion. The two teens' heads throbbed like no tomorrow, all of the memories exploding within their subconscious and netting them massive headaches.
"Thank goodness… I thought I'd never see the day." Naruto said gratefully.
"You can say that again. The Kyuubi is one depraved son of a bitch." Sasuke said in agreement.
"...You know I can drag your asses back in here if I want to, right?" Kurama said deadpan, a comical vein popping out of his temple.
The two shinobi went silent.
"Very good, glad we're on the same page. Try out your new abilities in your real bodies, I want to make sure that all of this wasn't for nothing." Kurama said.
"WHAT?!" Naruto and Sasuke yelled, springing back up to life in an instant.
"RELAX DAMMIT! It's just a hunch. Besides, if that's the case then it's no biggie because you wouldn't have lost that much time anyway." Kurama explained.
"What do you mean by that?! We spent two weeks in that hell!" Naruto exclaimed vehemently.
"Have you forgotten one of the first things I told you upon entering the mindscape? Let me dumb it down for you. TIME MOVES MUCH, MUCH SLOWER OUT THERE THAN IN HERE! Check the clock on the bedside table if you don't believe me." Kurama said.
Sasuke narrowed his eyes in confusion, but turned to the object of discussion for confirmation. It couldn't be that much of a difference. Maybe 2-3 times faster at best.
The Uchiha proceeded to eat his words, throw them out, and then eat them again when he saw the clock. They had re-entered the bedroom after breakfast at around 9:30 AM.
It was 10:30… in the morning. Two WHOLE weeks of mindscape training done within the span of one hour in the outside world.
What… the actual fuck?
"H-Holy crap…" Naruto muttered, coming to the same realization that Sasuke did.
This wasn't 2 or 3 times faster, it was two whole degrees of magnitude greater.
"Yup, amazing right? To be exact, time passes in the mindscape about 168 times faster than on the outside. To put it into layman's terms, one day out there equals more or less a year of training in here. So like I said, no biggie." Kurama said with a shit-eating grin.
"Yeah… no biggie alright." Sasuke said in wonder.
"So now that you've been put in your proper place, how about getting around to my request?" Kurama asked.
This time, Naruto and Sasuke complied without complaint. And sure enough, Naruto was able to form his improved Rasengan with one hand and Sasuke was able to manifest flames around his fists like before. It was almost too good to be true.
"Unfortunately, this is still mind training. So it's a no go on physical conditioning while we're in the mindscape. Once the Uchiha's body is healed, you two will have to train in a normal fashion for a while." Kurama said, putting a dampener on their moods.
"It doesn't matter. The amount of mindscape training we'll have by the time I'm healed will net us massive amounts of experience. It's still a win win in my book." Sasuke said, regaining his smirk.
"Yeah, just watch Kyuubi. We'll become the best in no time." Naruto said with his usual infectious grin.
Kurama eyed the two in confusion, wondering where all the optimism came from in their dire situation, before he snorted in amusement.
"Hmph. You little shits are still mediocre, kami knows you'd be dead in a ditch somewhere without me. But I'll make you two great, it's the only way we'll get out of this mess. Anyway rest up for the remainder of the day, your minds will need time to adjust and recover, such a massive influx of memories isn't healthy if abused. I need some me time anyway." Kurama replied, before cutting off the telepathy link and falling silent.
"Thank Kami for that. So Sasuke, have any other ideas that you want to work on?" Naruto asked, trying to foster conversation.
"I do actually. Your new and improved Rasengan got me thinking if I could do the same with my Chidori. Then I remembered Kakashi's version and decided that that would be a good next course of action. After that, I'll probably try to develop my Raiton the same way I did my Katon once I've mastered it. What about you?" Sasuke answered.
"I… I honestly don't know. Fixing my chakra control and mastering the Rasengan were two of my most pressing issues beforehand. But now that I've got those out of the way, I'm blanking out." Naruto replied.
"Hmm… I see where you're coming from. I have a couple of things to recommend though. You can try to learn a new element, the Kyuubi possesses mastery of Futon (Wind Release) as well as Katon, so maybe you can convince him to teach you..." Sasuke began.
"Yeah… not looking forward to that at all." Naruto thought apprehensively.
"...Or, you can try and further develop your Rasengan. Make up variants for a wide range of scenarios. I remember back in our fight, you focused a massive amount of chakra to your fist to increase your punching power, see if you can do something like that with your Rasengan." Sasuke finished.
"Those are some pretty good ideas, why didn't I think of that?" Naruto wondered aloud.
"Because you're an idiot." Sasuke said with a smirk, causing a vein to pop out of Naruto's temple.
"Bastard." Naruto growled threateningly.
"Dumbass." Sasuke countered mockingly.
The two teammates butted heads… and then proceeded to whimper in pain as that action had only aggravated their migraines.
"What's all the ruckus about? Oh... you two are finally awake huh? I had come earlier but you two seemed to be praying or something. Odd little whippersnappers." Toshiki asked, opening the bedroom door with Yukari in tow to see what was going on.
"Now Toshiki-kun, don't poke fun. Whatever they do to occupy their time is their own business as long as it doesn't harm others." Yukari reprimanded softly.
"Yes dear." Toshiki mumbled.
"Whipped." Naruto and Sasuke said deadpan, their manly respect for the old farmer dropping by the second.
"Why you little brats, you should respect your elders you know." Toshiki growled in indignation.
Naruto and Sasuke were unmoved.
"Fine, be that way. Anyway, I had come to ask if either of you were willing to help me with some handy work around here. Only fair since we're feeding ya." Toshiki grumbled, cursing snot-nosed brats across the world.
"Toshiki-kun, where's your sense of hospitality? It's impolite to ask that of guests and moreso look at them, they're still injured." Yukari asked, pulling her husband's ear.
"They didn't look injured to me at breakfast. The blond one in particular kept stealing my food." Toshiki frantically explained in pain, pointing an accusatory finger at Naruto who stuck his tongue out in response.
"It's alright Yukari-baachan. I heal fast, so it's no problem at all. In fact Toshiki-ojisan, I'll raise you." Naruto said in acquiescence, before standing up and forming his signature hand seal.
Ten Naruto shadow clones burst into existence, holding out peace signs to the stunned farmer couple.
"My word… this is amazing. They're so life-like." Yukari said in wonder, pinching one of the Naruto clones cheeks to its irritation.
"Yup, each one possesses the same knowledge and abilities as the original, making them great for all sorts of tasks, including manual labor." Naruto preened, leaning against one of his clones in satisfaction.
"Incredible. So this is what Mages are capable of, I could only guess before." Toshiki said in amazement.
"Mages? What do you mean by that?" Sasuke said in interest, standing up to join the conversation.
"You mean you don't know what you are? Mages are specially gifted people who can manipulate reality by utilizing some atmospheric energy or something." Toshiki explained.
Naruto and Sasuke shared a look, this was news to them.
"Um, I don't think that applies to us. From where Sasuke and I come from, the warriors are called shinobi and we do the things that we do by manipulating the energy that comes from within us called chakra." Naruto said, causing Yukari and Toshiki's eyes to widen.
"Really? What else can you two do?" Toshiki asked, his tone a mixture of intrigue and hope.
Naruto turned to look at Sasuke for confirmation and the Uchiha shrugged his shoulders, telling the old couple about their powers shouldn't be a problem.
"Lots of things actually. Observe." Naruto said with an excited grin, before he formed a hand seal.
With a poof of smoke, Naruto performed the Kawarimi (Substitution Technique) with the couple's dresser, switching places with the object in an instant.
"Depending on our skill level, experience, and stamina, shinobi can switch places with just about any object from any distance, making us masters in evasion." Naruto stated with a smirk while leaning against the wall, to the couple's amazement.
"We can also travel long distances in the blink of an eye, untraceable to all but the fastest of fighters." Sasuke said from the hallway, using the Shunshin (Body Flicker Technique) to appear behind Yukari and Toshiki.
The pair of farmers jumped at Sasuke's voice, how in the hell did he do that? What madness was going on?
"Shinobi can also transform to take on the outward appearance of anyone we've ever met." Naruto said, performing the Henge (Transformation Technique) to accurately take on the appearance of Toshiki.
"What in the world?" Toshiki asked in confusion, looking Naruto over but finding no discrepancy whatsoever, the blond could perfectly pass off as him.
"But that's not all. The more skilled shinobi can manipulate the elements, some elites being able to wield multiple types at the same time." Sasuke said, conjuring an orb of flame in his right hand and transmuting the Chidori into his left, each radiating with skillfully contained power.
"Or even manipulate pure energy itself." Naruto finished, brandishing his improved Rasengan once more, the powerful wisps of chakra that emanated from the jutsu emitting winds which ruffled Yukari and Toshiki's clothes.
After a few moments, Naruto and Sasuke ended their displays of power, but not before utterly shattering the farmer couple's perception of them.
"Yup… killers for hire indeed." Toshiki thought, feeling vindicated but highly worried at the same time.
But maybe… just maybe… this could be the answer to the town's prayers.
"Can you excuse us for a moment?" Toshiki asked nervously, before dragging Yukari out into the hallway with him and shutting the door, leaving a surprised Naruto and Sasuke.
"...Do you think we went overboard? They look a little pale." Sasuke asked in concern.
"Hmm… naw. Showing off is too much fun." Naruto answered with a grin.
"I can't believe that this moment is finally happening. 50 years of marriage and never being right once, until now. I have really… REALLY wanted to say this… I told you so." Toshiki said with a shit-eating grin.
"I hope that was worth it because you're also the one who's sleeping on the couch tonight." Yukari said, scowling at her husband.
"...Dammit. Can I win just one time?" Toshiki thought unhappily.
"Whatever. So what are we going to do about the brats?" Toshiki asked, trying to mask his misfortune.
"What do you mean? We're going to keep taking care of them like we have been. No change necessary." Yukari stated.
"Are you insane?! Those two are literally walking time bombs. If we do anything to upset them, we could find ourselves with slit necks in the middle of the night!" Toshiki exclaimed, trying to make his wife see reason.
"And do tell me, how is kicking them out conducive to keeping them happy?" Yukari asked deadpan.
Toshiki paused at the counterclaim, before sighing in resignation. Dammit, his wife was way too smart for him sometimes.
But he still loved her so.
"Fine, but if we're going to keep them here, let's put them up to some good. You saw how powerful those two are, they could rid the town of those hoodlums for good!" Toshiki said.
"N-O! Despite what you think of them, those boys are still children. Have you seen the looks in their eyes? Full of pain, hatred, and longing. They deserve a nurturing environment, not to be used as living weapons." Yukari said vehemently.
"But this is the best chance we have! It's been several years since we've sent a request to the Magic Council for help, yet we've gotten no response. I know it's risky, but those boys could be what we've been waiting for." Toshiki argued.
"It's still not right. Those dark mages aren't just any sort of punk group. Twilight Marauder… they're savages… murderers. Their Guild Master in particular has slaughtered hundreds. And yet, you want to send two boys to fight them?! A group of killers that are categorized by the Magic Council as an A-Class threat?! You should be ashamed of yourself. I refuse, end of discussion." Yukari said, her tone of voice final.
And with that, Yukari turned on her heel and walked away.
Toshiki sighed at his wife's obstinance, she was a stubborn little firebrand alright. He understood her worries, he truly did, his wife's desire for children of her own would make her highly possessive of anyone who came under her ward.
Now that she had found two, like a mother hen she refused to let go.
But Yukari hadn't witnessed the things that Toshiki did whenever he traveled into town to sell their products at the market, he had refused to share the grim reality. How those hoodlums ran amok, smashing up things and people and strutting around like they owned the place, it was sickening.
Then there were the rumors… about how people were disappearing, young women in particular. However, no one had seen the actions take place, the townspeople had pointed fingers at the dark mages but what could they do about it?
"I know Yukari-chan will hate me for this, but I have no choice. I'll take the boys to town with me next month and show them the desolation. Hopefully they'll have enough of a bleeding heart that they're willing to help." Toshiki thought, trying to convince himself that this was the right course of action to take.
He would do what was necessary to save the town.
"Did you catch all that?" Naruto asked silently.
"Yeah, every word." Sasuke whispered back.
The boys looked calm on the outside, but inwardly they were having trouble suppressing their rage. Even in a different universe, there was still scum trapezing the land. Preying on the weak and enriching themselves on the tears of others.
"Just like Gato and his cronies… just like those villagers." Naruto thought with menace.
"Just like Itachi." Sasuke thought, darkness brimming in his thoughts.
Unfortunately for Yukari, Naruto and Sasuke were shinobi and that meant that they possessed an enhanced sense of hearing developed from childhood before even enhancing the sense with chakra. The two teenagers had heard every word, every detail in their conversation and had already started planning.
It was time to make a difference.
"We'll have to feign ignorance. We can't risk Yukari getting involved in some deluded notion of trying to protect us, she could get hurt." Sasuke said.
"Yeah, we'll just have to wait for the right moment. Maybe sneak behind either one of them when they're going to town and then find and eradicate those scumbags." Naruto said in agreement.
"But we'll have to get stronger… much, much stronger and way faster than we planned. This is a threat that can pop up at any moment, not something that we're going to look for on our own terms. If this place possesses "Mages" whose caliber can rival that of a shinobi, then an A-Class threat will be trouble." Sasuke said, to which Naruto nodded.
If the power structure of this universe resembled anything like that of the Narutoverse, an A-Class threat was synonymous with an A-Rank threat. And an A-Rank threat meant a skilled Jonin, a good example being Zabuza from the Land of Waves mission.
Despite Naruto and Sasuke's rapid improvement from two weeks of mindscape training, they still weren't ready for that.
That would have to change.
"Um… hey little fellas. Sorry about earlier, I had something urgent that I needed to share with my wife. Nothing to worry about. So um… Naruto… are those clones still available?" Toshiki asked, opening the door.
"Oh yeah, no problem at all. Keep them for as long as you want, once you're done they'll dispel on their own. Be careful though, while helpful my clones are kind of fragile. A sharp blow will dispel them." Naruto explained before forming his signature hand seal and recreating the ten shadow clones.
"You are all to follow Toshiki-ojisan's orders to the letter. Understood?!" Naruto barked.
The ten shadow clones all saluted to the original before filing out of the room in a march.
"Heheheh… some loyalty you got there brat. Thanks again." Toshiki said, before heading after the troop of Narutos.
"Well that's that I guess. What do you want to do now?" Naruto asked.
"Rock, Paper, Scissors?" Sasuke offered hesitantly, but Naruto nodded excitedly.
And so, the afternoon came. After an intriguing, but unsettling conversation, the farm had returned to a quiet tranquility. The Kyuubi was taking a well-deserved nap, Yukari was reading a book in the living room, Naruto and Sasuke were going back and forth in a heated match of Rock, Paper, Scissors, and Toshiki and his troop of Narutos were going about the barn and making urgent repairs.
All was well…
"OW!" Naruto yelled unexpectedly, alarming Sasuke.
"What? What's the matter?!" Sasuke asked in confusion.
"I smashed my finger with a hammer! Right in the nail too!" Naruto complained, shaking his hand in pain.
"The fuck? How is that even possible? We're playing a goddamn kiddie game!" Sasuke said incredulously, wondering where this random episode came from.
"I swear it happened! I was helping Toshiki-ojisan fix the barn by boarding up a hole in the wall and then my shadow clone dispelled when it hit its ha-" Naruto began, before pausing in shock.
How... how in the hell did he know that?
"Wait a second. My shadow clone is outside and I'm in here, yet when it dispelled I felt the same thing it did." Naruto though in contemplation, before his eyes widened in realization.
When he dispelled a shadow clone… he gained its memories. Whatever a shadow clone experienced, he experienced which meant that whatever a shadow clone learned, he learned as well.
"But if that's the case… then why haven't I ever noticed this before." Naruto continued, before he put two and two together.
Naruto mainly used his shadow clones for battle and the battlefield was too chaotic to acknowledge and dwell on memories. Whatever Naruto received from his clones, his mind rationalized it as something he had personally experienced as to not distract him in combat.
But if this was true, what about all of the missed training opportunities? He could have learned so much more from Jiraiya…
Hold up a second… why didn't Jiraiya tell him about this? Hell… why didn't Kakashi say anything?!
Wait… wait, screw that. If he had known this, he could have used shadow clones to speed up his chakra control training inside the mindscape. He had spent two weeks at the mercy of that maniac for NO REASON!
Sasuke blinked several times in confusion as he watched Naruto repeatedly bang his head against the wall, muttering, "Stupid… Stupid… Stupid…" over and over again.
"Hmm… interesting. I didn't realize that shadow clones could be so useful. But of course, only a dumbass like yourself could possibly not notice such a thing for so long." Kurama said, shaking his head in resignation.
Naruto didn't even have it within him to argue, crocodile tears flowed down his face as he relived the horrors that the Kyuubi had put him through with the knowledge that he could have avoided it. But no more, Naruto promised to himself that he wouldn't be so dense anymore.
Sasuke chuckled at Naruto's misfortune, it was actually kinda funny. Even with all the disadvantages Naruto had faced when going up against people who wielded Kekkei Genkais or secret clan techniques, he possessed a skill that had the potential to surpass them.
And yet, Naruto couldn't even take two seconds to realize it himself until it was too late.
"Alright, enough of the tears brat. Time's a wastin' and I plan to abuse the shit out of your ability. If one clone working in tandem with you can double your net experience gain, what about 100 clones, or even 1000?" Kurama pondered, twirling his inexistent goatee.
Naruto blanched at the suggestion, normal mindscape training alone was a killer on his brain, adding the memories of 1000 dispelling clones on top of that would be torture.
"I don't think that's a smart idea. What happens if I can't handle it? It could kill me." Naruto said, gulping in fear at the prospect of becoming a vegetable.
"Aww… little Naruto is scared? WELL TOO BAD! You two idiots got me into this mess and now you're going to get me out, through any means necessary. Squash that nervousness and overcome your limits. What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger. Now get to it!" Kurama said with a maniacal smile, gesturing for his charge to get a move on.
"I hate my life." Naruto whimpered, but he obeyed and poured in a massive amount of chakra into his signature technique.
One thousand poofs of smoke appeared across the field that the three were in, filling the mindscape with the cacophony of a horde of Narutos.
"Oh god, they're everywhere. It's the apocalypse." Sasuke said in horror, his eyes swiveling all over the place.
"SHUT UP BASTARD! Your emo ass ain't so good looking either!" Naruto growled.
The two shinobi butted heads once more, before the Kyuubi used his tails to pry the two off of each other.
"Will you two imbeciles quit fucking around?! Don't make me bring back the trebuchet." Kurama threatened, to Naruto and Sasuke's horror.
"We apologize Kyuubi-sama!" Naruto and Sasuke simpered, arms wrapped each other's shoulders to feign comradery.
"Much better. Princess, keep improving upon your Katon skills. You've gotten better but you still have a long way to go. Be creative and impress me." Kurama ordered.
Sasuke saluted and then got the hell out of dodge, sprinting to the lake so he could train his fire while working on chakra control.
"And as for you, your clones will allow me to give you a TON of fun things to work on. Isn't that great?!" Kurama said, rounding on Naruto.
"Great…" Naruto said, laying the unenthusiasm on thick.
"Cheeky brat. Alright, I want you to have 300 clones working on chakra control. You've improved a lot, but you're still not on the Uchiha's level. Split them up into three groups and have each group practice one of the three exercises. Next, have another 200 clones work on improving the Rasengan. Tell them to go wild and try anything that seems like it could work, you need to diversify your skillset. Then, have the remaining 500 and yourself join me for some elemental training. It's time I teach you how to utilize Futon (Wind Release)." Kurama explained.
"... I fucking hate you Sasuke…" Naruto balked, wondering how the Uchiha had predicted the Kyuubi's plans from the onset.
And so, the time began to fly. One week soon passed on the outside world, but for Naruto and Sasuke that was equivalent to months of mindscape training. The boys had to take it slow in the beginning, only training for one hour on the outside world until their minds adjusted in being able to absorb so much information at once.
But soon, one hour became two hours and more, until the two shinobi had racked up 24 hours within the mindscape.
24 hours… which converted into approximately one year of nonstop training.
Naruto had it even worse than Sasuke, he was doing all of this in tandem with absorbing the memories of 1000 clones. The jinchuriki was racking up years upon years of experience and while it had been painful for quite a while, the benefits were manifesting at a rapid rate.
Naruto's repertoire of techniques was swelling at an incredible rate thanks to the innovations being made by his shadow clones. The Rasengan was truly the greatest building block that a shinobi could ever wield.
The Rasengan could be broken down into three simple steps: Rotation, Power, and Containment. To create the basic Rasengan, one had to perform these three steps in perfect equilibrium with each other. But what if one changed the ratio of these steps, giving more focus to one step over another?
You gained variation.
For example, what if Naruto focused most of the chakra he poured into the technique on Power and Containment, with just a tiny bit of rotation around his fist? Well, you've forged another path in performing the Strength Enhancement technique, the ability that made Tsunade so fearsome on the battlefield.
But hold on keep going… what if you performed this technique with a kick? The human leg is on average three to four times more powerful than the human arm. While slower and harder to control, when punches fail to break through defenses, kicks can succeed.
Not done yet though… add Futon (Wind Release) to the mix.
Whereas before you only had blunt damage, you can now add piercing power to the mix as well as increase the explosive force and speed.
"Futon: Rasenken." (Wind Release: Spiralling Fist) Naruto said, focusing powerful wind chakra around his forearm and manipulating it to twirl and coil around the appendage like a protective armor.
The blond jinchuriki cocked his fist back and then smashed it into the ground. Pillars of wind chakra erupted from the gravel and illuminated the field before detonating in a giant explosion which kicked up dust and hid the area from view.
When the smoke cleared, Naruto was standing inside of a deep crater, several yards deep and one hundred feet wide. Cracks however, continued to expand from the edges of the crevice, causing the ground to crumble and shatter while knocking down trees and the like.
The jinchuriki wasn't finished however for he released a pulse of wind chakra from his soles which rocketed him in the air. Once high enough, Naruto focused some more wind chakra into his right fist, but this time isolating around the appendage in the shape of a sphere.
"Futon: Rasendan." (Wind Release: Spiralling Bullet) Naruto chanted, before extending his right arm outward and firing the wind rasengan at the speed of sound like a gun.
The projectile tore through the sky at a breakneck pace and impacted the first of a row of trees, drilling through each and every one of the tree trunks before colliding with the ground and exploding with its loss of cohesion.
Naruto pressed on however, forming two more Futon: Rasendan around his fists and then launching a plethora of them, bombarding the ground like an air raid. Dust kicked up and debris flew through the air as the bullets screamed down from the heavens with the fury of a Rasengan.
Eventually, Naruto landed back on the ground, surveying the damage he had wrought with a satisfied expression. But he had one more technique to practice.
The jinchuriki shifted into a horse stance and slowly began to suck in a massive amount of air, wisps of chakra and wind funneling into his mouth. After a few seconds, Naruto could inhale no longer and his cheeks bulged in preparation.
"Futon: Rasen Gekido!" (Wind Release: Spiralling Wrath) Naruto roared, a maelstrom of wind chakra erupting from his mouth and barreling forwards as a giant wave.
Anything that had found itself in the path of the roar was obliterated, the force of destruction uncaring of its victims. When the attack finally died down, only a path of destruction that traced the ground remained.
"Oh yeah! Who's the greatest? That's right, Uzumaki Naruto!" Naruto shouted to the heavens, marveling at the progress he had made.
It had only been two weeks since he and Sasuke had torn through dimensions and now look at him, two times… three times… hell he couldn't even guess how much stronger he was.
"The Hokage hat will be mine!" Naruto shouted again, before a fireball exploded in his face.
"Will you shut up?! And more importantly, WATCH WHERE YOU FIRE THAT THING! I was training in the woods! If it weren't for my Sharingan sensing the shift in chakra you could have killed me!" Sasuke yelled, his fist a smoking gun.
"Ugh… cheap shot me will you? Anyway what's the big deal, this isn't real so nothing would have happened!" Naruto complained.
"You're such an idiot. Pain is still a mental faculty, meaning whatever you do to me here I will feel on the outside. SO WATCH IT!" Sasuke growled, butting heads with Naruto once again.
The Kyuubi sighed in annoyance as he watched the scene unfold in front of him, every time he thought he was making progress…
"Whatever… Pick and choose your battles Kurama. They should grow out of it soon… I hope." Kurama thought.
Still, Naruto and Sasuke continued to shatter his expectations. The Kyuubi was skeptical before, but these two boys might actually have a chance at succeeding.
In one year of mental training, two rookie Genin were able to develop their chakra manipulation skills to rival that of Jonin. While the Kyuubi wouldn't bet on the two to win in a fight against a Jonin yet because of their lacking in the physicality department, no Chunin would be a match for them either.
"But even that won't be the case for long. The Sharingan will allow Sasuke to adapt to anyone he fights while Naruto's healing factor will allow him to make massive gains without fear of injury. I'll give them a couple months of physical conditioning before they'll be ready to take on a Balrog individually." Kurama thought.
But what was one singular Balrog in the face of a horde of thousands?
"Don't get ahead of yourself Kurama. Patience is a virtue. They'll get there someday, but not yet. Time to move on though, the boys' time in here is done for now." Kurama thought.
"Alright you two… SETTLE DOWN!" Kurama barked, halting Naruto and Sasuke in their tracks.
The tailed beast sweatdropped when he saw the two grabbing each other by the scruff of their shirts, wielding a Rasengan and Chidori in their palms.
"...Kami give me strength." Kurama sighed, while the two shinobi pulled apart.
"Tweedledum and Tweedledee, we need to move on. Head on outside, it's time to put all that you've learned into practice. Get moving." Kurama said, before walking away.
Naruto and Sasuke stared each other for a bit.
"Which one of us is which?" Naruto asked in confusion.
"You dumbass... we both know who the Tweedledum is around here." Sasuke said with a shit-eating grin.
The boys wouldn't leave the mindscape for another hour, they were too focused on trying to gut each other out.
In the middle of a small pond in the backwoods of Toshiki and Yukari's farm, Sasuke stood in solitude with his hands clasped together in meditation. Slowly, the air picked up and the temperature rose, the atmosphere starting to shimmer and the water underneath the Uchiha's soles beginning to steam.
After a few seconds of this, powerful flames erupted around Sasuke in the shape of a double helix. The Uchiha opened his eyes and shifted into a horse stance before bringing his right fist back, the flames coalescing around the appendage.
"Katon: Hoteiken." (Fire Release: Fist of the Phoenix Emperor) Sasuke called out, funneling a large concentration of Katon chakra around his forearm.
Sasuke punched forward and fired a large column of flame, the giant torrent of heat traveling for several hundred feet on the water surface. At the end of its range, the mass of fire imploded and displaced a large volume of the pond.
Twirling his arms in a circle, Sasuke formed a ring of fire from the flames that flickered around his body. A blistering set of taijutsu motions followed, fireballs flying in all directions from his punches and arcs of fire scything through the air from roundhouse kicks.
Sasuke ended his kata by propelling himself upward with assistance from a large pillar of fire, rocketing hundreds of feet into the air. Quickly, Sasuke flipped forwards into a dropkick and swung the pillar of fire over his head, the descending flames shifting into the shape of a guillotine and parting the water below.
Satisfied with his work, the Uchiha dispelled his flames in midair and changed the nature of his chakra to practice his other element.
"Chidori Senbon." (One Thousand Birds' Needles) Sasuke cried and with a swipe of his left arm, the Uchiha launched a multitude of needle shaped Raiton projectiles from the Chidori that he held.
The lightning needles ripped through the water surface like paper and discharged its energy, causing arcs of electricity to run all across. Sasuke landed on the water a few moments after, walking through the haze of lightning with no pain whatsoever.
He was long since immune to the power of lightning anyway.
Sasuke formed the Chidori in his left hand once again and brought it up to his face for inspection, smirking in satisfaction. Whereas before, Sasuke's poor control had made the jutsu a white mass of chakra that engulfed his entire hand, it was now a focused blueish-white sphere of power that he held in his palm.
For all intents and purposes, Sasuke's Chidori was the same as Kakashi's Raikiri. Equal in power, force, and S-Ranking. Only nostalgia had made Sasuke continue to call the new and improved jutsu the Chidori, despite the inaccuracy.
"Chidori Eiso." (One Thousand Birds' Sharp Spear) Sasuke said, extending his arm outward and allowing a pointed rod of Raiton chakra to extend from the the Chidori's nexus for a distance of 50 meters.
Sasuke swung the spear around in large swathes, envisioning potential enemies and how to efficiently run them through. Then he started to practice retracting and extending the spear in quick intervals so he could adapt to whatever situation may occur.
To finish the exercise, Sasuke re-extended the spear to its full height and sprouted six rods from the tip in all directions. It would be a nasty surprise to someone who barely missed the initial attack.
"Now for some area of effect damage." Sasuke thought, returning the Chidori back to its original state.
Sasuke now overloaded his Chidori with even more chakra, causing sparks of electricity to appear. Strands of lightning began frothing from the seams, barely being able to be contained.
"Chidori Nagashi." (One Thousand Birds' Current) Sasuke grunted, pointing his open palm forward and letting loose a wave of electric current.
The power behind the attack was massive, rippling the water that it came across and assuring that anyone who was caught in its path would writhe in agony before succumbing.
Sasuke halted the flow of Raiton chakra before bringing it back into his body and letting it build up once more. Sparks licked at the Uchiha's frame as he clenched his fists in front of him, pouring more and more chakra until he reached a breaking point.
"HA!" Sasuke roared as he released the lightning in an omnidirectional pulse of force, a shockwave of electricity erupting outward and knocking back anything that was within range. The phenomena went on for about twenty seconds before the flow halted and the landscape became quiet.
"Whew… not bad at all. Even after all that my chakra reserves are still holding up strong. Hard to believe that one month ago I could only use the Chidori twice." Sasuke thought to himself.
It was inconceivable to Sasuke about how much progress he had made and it also opened up Sasuke's eyes to how truly vast this existence was.
"I was such an arrogant little twat, thinking that I could best Itachi with such an insufficient power. Even with all my strength now, I know I'm still no match. But I wouldn't mind showing that Balrog a thing or two." Sasuke continued.
After "two weeks" of training under the Kyuubi in the mindscape, Sasuke didn't think that there could be anything worse. His mind burned with exhaustion and he constantly asked himself at the end of every day if it was truly worth it.
But boy was he wrong.
The countryside that Toshiki and Yukari's farm was located on possessed many types of natural features, from mountains and cliffsides, to tall hills and deep valleys, to wide open fields, etc. And each one seemed to fill the Kyuubi's head with horrific exercises that he would use to "toughen" Naruto and Sasuke up.
Mental training didn't even compare to the pain that was wrought by the Kyuubi for physical conditioning. Anything from scaling a mountain one handed to running miles in a handstand position was fair game.
If Sasuke refused, the Kyuubi would open the telepathy link and drive him insane with whatever noise he could think of until he submitted.
There was no escape.
But Sasuke persevered, what didn't kill you only made you stronger and the Uchiha took that to heart. Sasuke pushed himself hard for another two weeks despite the knowledge that he wouldn't heal from it as effectively as Naruto would.
It wasn't all bad though, his and Naruto's sparring matches never ceased to amuse. Despite the jinchuriki's growth spurt and massive increase in strength, the power of the matured Sharingan meant that Sasuke was still superior in the field of taijutsu.
That wasn't to say that Naruto was trash however, the jinchuriki had made remarkable improvement. Naruto's form had cleaned up and he had started to think rather than blindly rush in all the time with clones.
Unfortunately for the jinchuriki, Uchihas were bred for close combat and the presence of the Sharingan meant that whatever Naruto brought to the table, Sasuke would adapt and counterattack.
Still it was quite a learning experience, Naruto held the advantage in physical strength and durability while Sasuke was superior in agility and dexterity and they were equals in raw speed. This meant that Sasuke couldn't try to match Naruto blow for blow and the Uchiha's evasive skills improved tremendously as he had to counter Naruto's strikes with the best possible response.
Speaking truthfully however, Sasuke would say that Naruto was improving faster in their bouts than he was. There was no trickery involved, it was just nature. When two people of differing levels practiced together, assuming that they both gave the same amount of effort, the weaker person would make more progress than the stronger person.
While the Sasuke from a couple months ago would have raged, current Sasuke could only wait in anticipation. Having a competent partner would only make Sasuke grow by leaps and bounds because it would force him to start making drastic changes to improve.
Until then, Sasuke was content.
Sasuke was quickly brought out of his thoughts when his acute sense of hearing picked up a series of booming sounds. Upon recognizing the familiar noise however, the Uchiha broke out into savage grin.
"Back for more, huh? Well then… LET'S SEE WHAT YOU'VE GOT!" Sasuke thought excitedly, activating his prized Sharingan.
"Futon: Rasendan." (Wind Release: Spiralling Bullet) a voice called out.
The precognitive abilities of the Sharingan proved their worth once more as Sasuke danced around the wind bullets that came down from the air. The resulting explosions however, caused the water to kick up and obscure the Uchiha's vision.
Sasuke didn't let that get to him however, relying on his senses to tell him where the enemy would come from. A couple seconds later, Sasuke heard a splash from behind him and kicked in the direction of the noise, shooting a stream of flames from the outstretched appendage towards the offender.
When the blast of fire made contact, the person in question dispelled in a poof of smoke, making Sasuke's eyes widen in surprise.
Five Naruto shadow clones erupted out of the water before descending on Sasuke, who shifted into the Uchiha Interceptor opening stance.
One clone started the exchange with a drop kick, which Sasuke evaded. The clone followed up by pulsing a burst of chakra from its foot and rocketing in Sasuke's direction with an elbow. Sasuke caught the elbow with difficulty, skidding back from the force, and then engulfed the clone in a wave of fire that dispelled it.
Three Naruto clones surrounded Sasuke on all sides, before closing in and bombarding the Uchiha with a flurry of punches. Sasuke read each move perfectly and took great care to deflect each and every blow properly due to the power behind the strikes. The trio of blondes ran circles around Sasuke in order to change up the direction of their attacks in the hope that one would slip through the Uchiha's defenses.
It was all for naught.
"Chidori Nagashi!" (One Thousand Birds' Current) Sasuke roared as he released the shockwave of electricity, knocking back his aggressors and dispelling them from the force.
An eerie quiet returned to the battlefield, causing Sasuke to relax. But then the Uchiha's eyes proceeded to widen in alarm when he realized that there was still one Naruto unaccounted for.
Pond water sprayed into Sasuke's face before a vicious uppercut found its place onto his chin, the real Naruto erupting from under the Uchiha.
"Futon: Rasenkyaku!" (Wind Release: Spiralling Kick) Naruto shouted, following up with a wind chakra empowered roundhouse kick to Sasuke's ribs that sent the Uchiha bowling over backwards in a powerful typhoon.
Sasuke went splashing for hundreds of feet, but eventually recovered control of his body and skidded to a halt across the pond surface.
"Fucking hell, that HURT! That idiot better not have broken a rib." Sasuke thought, winching in pain from the reddening welt on his side.
Eyes narrowing from anger and conviction, Sasuke clasped his hands together in a single hand seal and sucked in air.
"Katon: Ryuka!" (Fire Release: Dragon Fire Technique) Sasuke shouted, breathing out a powerful flamethrower attack at Naruto.
The jinchuriki evaded with haste, pulsing wind chakra from his soles to propel him across the water surface like a jet ski. Sasuke was not to be deterred however and swiveled his head to follow the fleeing shinobi.
The flamethrower quickly closed in on Naruto and seeing no method of escape, the blond halted the flow of chakra under his feet and sank into the water.
"Oh no you don't. Chidori Nagashi." (One Thousand Birds' Current) Sasuke said, firing a blast of electricity from his palm at the area that Naruto was last seen in to flush him out.
The tactic worked as Naruto rocketed out of the water, some scorch marks on the outfit that Yukari had sewn him. The jinchuriki soared in altitude, propelling himself with bursts of wind chakra at irregular intervals.
Sasuke chased after him, rocketing upward from the thrust generated by the flames that erupted out of his soles. Fireballs flew from the Uchiha's fists, but Naruto adopted evasive actions and was able to dodge each and every one of the Katon projectiles.
In a move that was only worthy of him, Naruto unpredictably changed directions and dived towards Sasuke. But the Uchiha possessed admirable reflexes and prepared accordingly for the oncoming charge.
"Katon: Hoteiken!" (Fire Release: Fist of the Phoenix Emperor) Sasuke shouted, punching upward with his left fist.
"Futon: Rasenken!" (Wind Release: Spiralling Fist) Naruto roared, punching downward with his right fist.
The two shinobi's attacks clashed with tremendous force, a shockwave erupting from the point of impact. Fire and Wind pushed at each other for dominance, but neither could overwhelm the other.
Eventually, the clash exploded outward and blew the two warriors backwards, the two combatants staring at each other with enjoyment in their eyes.
"Not bad dumbass, it seems that you've brushed up on your skills a bit." Sasuke commended backhandedly, his eyes flickering with mirth.
"Yeah well, don't get too cocky bastard. You should always watch those below you, you never know when they'll rise up to sock you in the face." Naruto replied mildly, but a smirk grew on his face.
"I'll keep that in mind. Now... let's dance." Sasuke said, before rocketing forward at the similarly charging Naruto.
The two shinobi engaged in a ferocious midair brawl, flames and wind smashing against each other as punches were either knocked away or clashed against the other's guard. Sasuke eventually gained control however by ducking under one of Naruto's swings and rocking him in the gut with a savage flame enhanced punch.
Naruto spat blood and keeled over, leaving himself open for a flame empowered axe handle that sent him spiraling towards the ground. The jinchuriki at first spun erratically, but eventually regained control of himself before he made impact with the water.
Naruto shot a pulse of wind out his palms that halted his descent, using the momentum of the reversal to backflip onto his feet on the pond surface.
Sasuke snarled in annoyance and rocketed downward, flames erupting from his soles. The Uchiha shot a blast of fire at Naruto, but the jinchuriki jumped backwards before gathering chakra into his hand for a counterattack.
"Futon: Rasenha!" (Wind Release: Spiralling Wave) Naruto shouted as he extended his right palm forward and hit the descending Sasuke with a powerful blast of wind.
The attack carried the force of a miniature typhoon and slammed into Sasuke, tearing at his skin and clothes and sending him flying until he regained control of his momentum and skidded across the water.
Naruto pressed on the attack, charging forward with the might of a bull and flying at the Uchiha with a flying side kick. Sasuke rolled out of the way with haste, but Naruto quickly changed directions with another pulse of wind and let loose a flurry of jabs.
Sasuke shifted out of the way of all of the attacks before retaliating with a fierce flame enhanced roundhouse kick to the temple, but Naruto tanked the blow and stood his ground, grabbing the appendage and dragging Sasuke into his follow up wind empowered right hook.
Sasuke refused to play along however, and swung his other flame sheathed leg upward to knock the punch off course before falling to the ground and sweeping Naruto's legs.
Naruto rolled out of the way of a fire blast that headed for his face and then backflipped, sending a wind crescent at Sasuke who sidestepped it. Sasuke swiped his arm outward and sent an arc of flame at Naruto who diffused it, before retaliating with a wind bullet that Sasuke deflected.
Sasuke fired another round of fireballs at the jinchuriki who ducked and weaved around the bombardment, slowly inching closer to Sasuke.
After getting within ten feet, Naruto shot forward with yet another pulse of wind chakra, catching Sasuke off guard with a tackle that sent them crashing along the water surface. Trying to take advantage of the confusion, Naruto threw a hard wind empowered punch at the Uchiha's face, but Sasuke shifted out of the way and flame elbowed Naruto in the neck, reversing their positions.
Sasuke straddled Naruto and then lit up his fists with flames, laying on a savage barrage of punches at Naruto's face to which the jinchuriki blocked against desperately. Thinking on his feet, Naruto once again released a pulse of wind chakra from his soles to push Sasuke forward and then rose up and headbutted him. Blood and spittle flew from Sasuke's face as he reeled back in pain, but the Uchiha had enough sense to aim his palm at the approaching Naruto and fired a blast of flame that knocked the jinchuuriki back and gave him distance.
Shaking the cobwebs out of his eyes, Sasuke glared at Naruto before forming a Chidori in his palm.
"Let's see how you handle this! Chidori Eiso!" (One Thousand Birds' Current) Sasuke roared, thrusting his arm forward and shooting an extending rod of lightning at the jinchuriki.
Naruto hastily wrapped his forearms in a dense armor of wind and then cross blocked, just in time for the spear of lightning to clash against his defenses. The power behind the Chidori Eiso pushed Naruto backwards, his feet skidding against the pond surface as Naruto struggled to hold back Sasuke's thrust.
Eventually however, Sasuke's attack reached its full length before it was able to push through Naruto's guard. The jinchuriki quickly batted away the spear and then charged forward, determined to close the distance and avoid being at a disadvantage.
Sasuke swung his spear in a frenzy, furiously trying to keep Naruto from closing in. Unfortunately for him however, Naruto's honed reflexes allowed him to duck and roll under every attempt and eat up the distance rapidly.
"Chidori Senbon!" (One Thousand Birds' Current) Sasuke shouted, launching a barrage of Raiton needles from his free hand in a final attempt to halt Naruto's advance.
Despite the danger from the approaching projectiles, Naruto simply protected his face with his wind armored arms and pushed forward, allowing some of the needles to puncture and prick his skin.
Realizing that he had failed, Sasuke compensated by shortening the length of the Chidori Eiso to that of a katana. Sasuke slashed his Raiton blade at Naruto, who blocked with his wind sheathed forearm, and the two clashed with a burst of sparks flying from the impact.
The two warring comrades locked eyes with each other for a second, before they flew into an elaborate dance. Sasuke stabbed and slashed with fervor, but Naruto deflected and dodged all of his strikes with impressive skill.
However, Sasuke eventually struck gold with a stab to Naruto's shoulder, firmly embedding the weapon into him. The jinchuriki gasped in pain and spit up blood, but he gritted his teeth and grabbed the Raiton blade before kicking Sasuke in the stomach, HARD.
Now it was Sasuke's turn to wretch up bile as he rocketed backward thanks to the force behind Naruto's wind empowered kick. Despite this, the Uchiha recovered through sheer force of will and formed another hand seal while sucking in air.
"Katon: Gokakyu!" (Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique) Sasuke shouted, firing the large missile of flame at near point blank range.
Naruto roared in agony as the attack crashed into him, having no time to react at all. The massive fireball carried Naruto for a few hundred feet before imploding on itself, causing the jinchuriki severe burns and sending him rolling across the water.
The battlefield became quiet as the two shinobi reeled from the series of exchanges. Naruto spent a gigantic amount of chakra to speed up his healing factor while Sasuke panted in exertion from his large expenditure of ninjutsu and the kick he took to the stomach.
After a minute of this, Naruto and Sasuke shared a look with each other, their gazes conveying a message that only a duo who possessed a bond as close as theirs would be able to understand.
One last attack… the winner of this exchange would be the victor.
Naruto slowly stood up and shifted into a horse stance, before he began to suck in large amounts of air. Meanwhile, flames erupted around Sasuke's body, swirling around him in a coil.
The battlefield was tense, who would become the victor?
"Futon: Rasen Gekido!" (Wind Release: Spiralling Wrath) Naruto roared, firing a powerful maelstrom of wind at Sasuke who stood resolute.
The Uchiha began to twirl his arms in a circular fashion, the flames that surrounded him following their call. The fire spun around quicker and quicker until it formed a dome around Sasuke, just in time for the wind roar to make contact.
Sasuke's plan was to use Naruto's wind to fan his flames, continually pouring in chakra to make sure that his fire wasn't overwhelmed, and then throw it back at the jinchuriki to secure victory. In theory it should work…
But since when does life ever work like that?
The fire surrounding Sasuke began to expand as he put his plan into motion, the wind chakra from Naruto's attack feeding the flame dome more and more. But as the Uchiha continued, he soon found out that there was absolutely no way he was going to be able to control all of this firepower.
"Shit… this thing is going to blow up in my face! I'll have to detonate it early and hope for the best." Sasuke thought in panic, cursing himself for going through with such a shitty plan.
"Katon: Goenkyu!" (Fire Release: Great Blaze Ball) Sasuke roared, smashing his fists together in front of him and launching all the flames he had generated against the remaining half of Naruto's roar.
The two powerful forces connected with each other and detonated instantly, engulfing the entire pond and the some of the woods around it. The explosion was so powerful that anyone within 100 miles could see it.
The smoke from the explosion hung around for two whole minutes before it finally cleared, revealing the scene of a wounded Naruto and Sasuke lying on the pond surface, laughing their hearts out.
"Goddamn, what a rush! What the hell did you even do?" Naruto asked, slowly sitting up once the ringing stopped in his ears.
"I tried to use your roar to power my flames and then turn it back on you, but as you can see it didn't work." Sasuke said, grimacing in embarrassment.
"Well that was stupid. And people say that you're the smart one." Naruto snorted.
"Fuck off dumbass." Sasuke growled.
"Eat a dick bastard." Naruto countered.
The conversation petered out after that, the two shinobi resolving to just lie on the pond with the little chakra that they had left until their bodies stopped hurting so much.
It seemed that today's match would end in a draw.
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