Disclaimer: Naruto and all the characters in this story are owned by Masashi Kishimoto.

Quotes of the Day:

"My mommy was scarier than yours."

- Naruto Uzumaki, on meeting Sasuke Uchiha.

"My mommy was scarier than yours."

- Hagoromo Otsutsuki, on meeting Naruto Uzumaki.

Chapter 9: Training

The Sandaime Hokage was in his office, doing paperwork and smoking his pipe. Dear Kami, prayed Hiruzen, I need a distraction! Before this damn paperwork drives me nuts!

Ask and you shall receive, Hiruzen Sarutobi.

The sun broke from behind a cloud. The Hokage's office window slid open with no visible cause, letting a breeze of Konoha's fresh afternoon air. The voice of an angel delivered the following words:

"Hey man, can I get a toke?"

Wait, did I say angel? Never mind.

"It's tobacco, Jiraya, not cannabis," scolded Hiruzen.

"Aw, don't be such a drag, old man," said Jiraya, shimmering into visibility.

"Remind me again. What did the Great Toad Sage tell you about drugs?"

"Er – stick with the choice stuff?"

Hiruzen glared at him.

"Stay away from bad acid?"

"I believe," said Hiruzen sardonically, "his exact words were, 'If you don't go completely straight, Jiraya-boyo, you won't live to see world peace.' And Fukasaku made it quite clear that it was a true prophecy. Didn't he say it was the only time the 'Great Honorable Geezer' remembered your name?"

Jiraya threw his hands in the air. "I know, I know! Don't remind me, that was the worst day of my life! I've been clean ever since, I swear!"

Hiruzen snorted. "Drugs aside, I believe you came here for a purpose?"

"Yeah man, come to check up on a certain godson..."

"Hang around Ichiraku's Ramen at dinner time, Naruto will come to you."


– CS –


"So, dude," said Jiraya, once introductions had been made, "I hear you're in need of a trainer for the Chūnin Exam Final tournament."

Naruto frowned. "Eh… I was actually planning on training myself. You sound interested in the position?"

"What's with the blues, man? I thought you'd be stoked."

"Well…" said Naruto, "I'm not sure if there's really anything an old man like you can teach me."

"Old man?!" spluttered Jiraya indignantly. "Listen bro, I am a hippie. Hippies never get old. Especially a follower of Free Love, like me! And I am no ordinary man. I am a super ninja, one of the Sannin! I assure you, there is plenty I can teach you."

"Hmm…" Naruto rubbed his chin. "On second thought… you're a Sage, right? Teach me senjutsu."

"No." Jiraya turned him down flatly, with a thumbs down to emphasize.

"Teach me senjutsu."

"No."

"Teach me senjutsu."

"Dude, no. You ain't ready for senjutsu."

"Yes, I am."

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am."

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am. And I can prove it!"

Jiraya raised a skeptical eyebrow. "How you gonna do that?"

Naruto grinned. "By beating you in a fight, of course!"

Jiraya laughed, loudly. "Boyo, you're a hundred years too early to beat me! But I'll let you try."

"A hundred years? I knew you were old, but I didn't know you were THAT old. Training Ground Three should be empty right now. You ready to go, or do you need to warm up your geriatric muscles first?"

"Dude, I'm still a spring chicken! And I am always ready!" Jiraya dismissed his rainbow-colored toad and started walking.


– CS –


"Okay," said Naruto. "So this is a straight-up Taijutsu and Ninjutsu spar. Basic weapons, but no Genjutsu or stopping to draw Fuinjutsu. I need to prove to you that I have the strength, power and control for Senjutsu."

Jiraya was impressed. "Well dang, you actually dig it."

"Damn right I do. Senjutsu is one of the few ninja arts you can't even start learning without a teacher and I've been interested in learning for a while. So just to get this straight, if I win you'll teach me Senjutsu, right?"

"Hah! I'm the one that's gonna pound you, kiddo. But sure, those're the terms."

"One more thing," said Naruto. "You don't use any toads and I won't use Kyuubi's chakra, okay? This is strictly one-on-one."

Jiraya paused, gaping. "Fine. No toads and no Kyuubi."

"Good. First things first, let me chase off that spy."

"Spy?"

Naruto created a shadow clone, which vanished in a Shunshin. Moments later a ROOT ninja fell bonelessly out of a tree, and the shadow clone reappeared, grabbed the ROOT ninja, and vanished again in a puff of smoke.

"Was that a –" started Jiraya.

"One of Danzo's fake ANBU, yes. Not sure if he was following you or me, don't really care."

And with that, Naruto stepped about five meters away from Jiraya and faced him for the fight.

Let's see, thought Naruto, gotta show him something powerful, but also gotta reassure him of my loyalty to Konoha. He seems predisposed to trust me because of who my parents were, which is good, but that would go out the window if he sees me using foreign Jutsu styles, unless I can explain where they come from. So the Legacy Style it is. Good thing that's one of my most powerful.

Naruto took a solid stance, his feet parallel and a little over one shoulder width apart, knees bent. He clapped his hands together in a ram seal. Staring Jiraya in the eye, he concentrated, and nine solid chakra chains sprouted from his back and spread out around him, diamond-shaped, bladed points on the end of each chain.

"So you've got your mother's Adamantine Sealing Chains," remarked Jiraya, taking his own stance and pulling out a kunai in each hand.

Then, not moving, Naruto formed nine Rasengans, one at the tip of each chain.

Jiraya whistled. "Far out! But can you use it or are you gonna wipe out when you try and fight with it?"

"Well," said Naruto. "We'll just have to find out, won't we?" Releasing his hand seal, he flicked his wrist and a three-pronged kunai appeared out of his sleeve in a puff of smoke, and he threw it at Jiraya.

The Toad Sage's eyes widened as he saw the tri-pronged kunai and his instincts screamed. "WhoaSHIT!" Luckily for him, he managed a Kawarimi (Body Replacement) before Naruto vanished and reappeared where Jiraya had been in a Hiraishin, chains and Rasengans and all, two of the Rasengans slamming into the log Jiraya had replaced himself with.

Naruto whirled and faced Jiraya where he had hidden in the forest, the nine chains coming from his back orbiting around him like prehensile tails.

"Did I forget to tell you I'm a sensor?" said Naruto. He threw another Hiraishin kunai at Jiraya's location and multiplied it with a Kunai Shadow Clone Jutsu without a single handseal.

As a hundred tri-pronged kunai rained down on Jiraya's location, he escaped again in a Shunshin. "Okay, this could get a bit hairy."

The next time Naruto threw a Hiraishin kunai in his direction, Jiraya threw his own kunai to deflect it halfway and charged at Naruto himself. "You want to fight close? Fine." Forming a couple of hand seals, he said, "Needle Jizō!" and formed his hair into a hardened, spiky mane as strong as steel and covering his body. Then he stuck out his hands and formed a pair of Rasengans of his own, and used them to deflect four of Naruto's Rasengans and thrust one at his torso.

That didn't work. One of Naruto's Hiraishin kunai vanished, and in its place he produced his own glowing Rasengan, clashing it with Jiraya's. A moment later, both Rasengans exploded and the two combatants were thrown back, flipping to land on their feet again. The ground in front of Naruto was scarred where his Rasengan-tipped chains had impacted it during his somewhat-uncontrolled somersault, but he managed to keep all nine of those spiraling balls of chakra intact and going.

Naruto grinned and ran at Jiraya himself, flicking out a few more Hiraishin kunai in every direction, aiming to cover the battlefield with markers so as to give himself more options.

"So your Rasengan is as strong as mine," said Jiraya, "and you have a rather powerful offensive Nintaijutsu style. The question is, is your defense just as good? Needle Senbon!" He crouched and made a few hand signs, and his mane of hair started firing stiff, chakra-reinforced strands of hair at Naruto like thousands of steel needles.

"Well I can always just get out of the way," said Naruto, teleporting off to the side.

Jiraya instantly changed the direction of his needle fire.

"Or I can do this," said Naruto. He glowed and released an aura of medium blue chakra, about one-third of a meter thick around his body and rising higher above his head like a flame. The hair needles simply slowed to a halt or bounced off his aura.

"Uh-oh," said Jiraya.

Naruto produced a Rasengan in each hand and charged at Jiraya right through the needle storm.

"Doton: Yomi Numa! (Earth Release: Swamp of the Underworld)!"

A large mud pit appeared in front of Jiraya and under Naruto, threatening to swallow up the orange-suited Genin.

Naruto overpowered the chakra Jiraya had put in the jutsu by pushing chakra from his own water-walking technique deep into the mud, and just kept running.

Jiraya, being the S-ranked ninja that he was, was more than fast enough to get out of the way with another Kawarimi. The next thing he tried was a "Katon: Karyū Endan (Fire Release: Fire Dragon no Jutsu)."

Naruto brought one of his Rasengan-tipped chains forward and, extending it, dispelling the Fire Dragon. Running into the blast of orange plasma, which wasn't intense enough to hurt him with his chakra aura, he used it to hide his actions and threw another Hiraishin kunai at Jiraya with a Kunai Shadow Clone jutsu to multiply it.

"Oh, come on! How did this kid get so powerful?" said Jiraya, using another Kawarimi to get out of the way, and finding a place that was free of tri-pronged Kunai. He started a sequence of seals, then stopped. "Crap. No summoning toads, right? Well there's more than one way to do it. Shadow Clone no Jutsu!" Then, with his shadow clone, he produced a massive wide-range combination oil and fire technique, sending it at Naruto at high speed.

Naruto simply vanished in a teleport.

"So you want to play with clones, do you?" came Naruto's voice from the forest.

Jiraya wasn't the greatest sensor, but he was easily good enough to feel the massive burst of chakra that followed.

"Then let's play with clones," chorused fifty voices. Then fifty Hiraishin kunai came flying out of the forest, and fifty Naruto's flashed into the clearing, all of them with nine chains coming from their backs and Rasengans on the ends of them. Jiraya had managed to deflect the teleport markers that were flying in his direction, but now he was surrounded by clones, six of whom were charging at him.

"That's unreal!" shouted Jiraya, using another Kawarimi to get away. "Okay, new rule, no clones, no clones!"

"Aww," chorused the fifty Naruto's in the clearing. "But I like clones! And you started it."

"You don't need much control for shadow clones anyway!" argued Jiraya.

"Fine." The fifty shadow clones vanished in a cloud of white smoke that covered the field.

Jiraya barely managed to turn and get a Rasengan up to defend himself against Naruto as he leaped at Jiraya from behind. He had to use his hair to shield against five Rasengans on chains, and quickly disengaged before they could grind through his defense.

Finally coming up with a way to counter Naruto's many vectors of attack at close range, Jiraya charged at Naruto again. Concentrating, he split his mane of hair into three and wrapped one around himself as a defense. Swinging his head to assist the motion, because his hair wasn't properly prehensile like Naruto's chains, he used the other two tails of hair to swipe at Naruto's chains, below the Rasengans on their tips, and managed to capture seven of them.

Naruto produced a Rasengan in each hand and swiped his other two chains at Jiraya, who was forced to use his third lock of hair to grab the chains out of the way as he clashed his own pair of spiraling chakra balls against the ones in Naruto's hands, both combatants keeping them intact this time. The Rasengans on the chains were still damaging his hair, but slowly due to lack of leverage; Naruto could bend his chains any way he chose, but they were primarily strong in stabbing or pulling.

When Jiraya tried to kick him, Naruto blocked with his own leg, his chakra-enhanced strength able to keep up with Jiraya.

"Looks like we have a stalemate," grinned Jiraya. "The question is, who will last longer? You're burning chakra much faster than I am."

FWOOOM!

"A stalemate, have we?"

Jiraya was suddenly struck on the stomach by a Rasengan on the end of a chain that hadn't been there before, exploding and sending him flying backwards. Before he landed, Naruto was on him, wrapping him in dozens of chains and threatening him with four Rasengans.

"Surrender?" asked Naruto.

Jiraya flexed his muscles. He couldn't move, and his chakra was suppressed by the Adamantine Sealing Chains.

"I give," he admitted. "How'd you do that?"

Releasing Jiraya, Naruto explained, "You assumed that I could only produce nine chains, maybe you thought Kyuubi was helping me control them and they corresponded to his tails or something. The fact is, I can make more, I can produce them from other parts of my body besides my back, and I don't need a hand seal to do it. So I made two more from my chest, used one to tag you with a Hiraishin seal on the leg, and used the other to hit you with a Rasengan."

"That is one seriously bad fighting style you got there. I didn't know you could use the chains to cast Ninjutsu! Your mother certainly didn't."

"Yup, if they can be used to create seals, they can create detailed chakra patterns, so Ninjutsu. Do you need to visit the hospital?"

"Nah, I think I'm fine." Jiraya checked his stomach. His tie-dyed shirt had a big tattered hole in it, and he had a big, spiral-shaped bruise forming, but nothing dangerous. "You made that last Rasengan destabilize on purpose, right?"

"Yup, didn't want it to grind into your body too much. So, now you're gonna teach me Senjutsu, right?" Naruto was suddenly excited.

Jiraya groaned. "Unfortunately, I can't teach you Senjutsu."

"What?! But you promised if I beat you!" objected Naruto indignantly.

"I didn't think you could actually beat me! And it's a matter of can't, as in, I am unable to. I was never able to master Senjutsu completely myself, I need the help of Ma and Pa to go into Sage Mode."

Naruto's face fell. "Sheesh, what a cop out."

"Hey, Senjutsu is some seriously gnarly stuff! Anyway, I never said you wouldn't be learning Senjutsu, just that I can't teach you myself."

"Really?" Naruto grinned again.

"Yup! All you have to do is sign the Toad Summoning Contract and convince them to teach you."

"The toads, huh? Can I talk to them before I sign the contract?"

"Sure, let me summon Pa." As Naruto watched, Jiraya made five hand seals and slammed his right hand on the ground. A black Fuinjutsu script appeared and with a puff of smoke, an old toad appeared. He had a tuft of white hair atop his head, two very bushy white eyebrows, and a goatee, and he sat a around half a meter tall, wearing a simple tan cloak around his body.

"Jiraya-boyo! What did you summon me for? Ma was making that delicious caterpillar stew of hers."

Jiraya grimaced, and dismissed the image that brought up. "Pa, this is Naruto, he's a cool head and a badass. Naruto, this is Fukasaku, he and his old lady are the two Elder Sages of the Toads. I'd like Naruto to sign the Toad Contract, but he wants to talk to you first."

"Hrm. So he's the one you've been talking about." Fukasaku inspected Naruto, then he turned to Jiraya. "Is he the one who did that to you?" He pointed at Jiraya's stomach.

"No, no! Training accident! Uh… gotta go visit the hospital, bye!" Jiraya vanished in a Shunshin as Naruto snickered and Fukasaku laughed.

"Hmm… you're strong, boy. And that was definitely your chakra in that bruise of his."

"Is that the sensory ability of Senjutsu you're using?" asked Naruto.

"Yes. Now you had questions about the Toad Contract?"

"Yeah. Could we go to a more private location for this? I'm pretty sure we've got at least one eavesdropper, and while I trust Gramps, there are always at least four other people listening in when he uses that crystal ball of his."

"Well, I'd offer to reverse-summon you to Mount Myōboku, but you haven't signed the Toad Contract yet."

Naruto thought for a bit. He threw four sealing tags down in a square around them and activated an invisible privacy barrier. "Okay, one question, and this is the one that will decide whether I sign. Would you allow me to sign another summoning contract with someone else in addition to the Toads?"

Fukasaku raised one bushy eyebrow. "Depends on who it is."

Naruto leaned in and whispered in Fukasaku's ear, covering his mouth with both hands. "I want to give Kyuubi and the other Bijuu a summoning realm where they can no longer be used as weapons by humans. Kyuubi agreed to it if I can manage to set it up."

The old toad gaped. Then he thought for a moment, and said, "That's a very ambitious goal, Naruto-boyo. And what about the others? How do you intend to pull this off?"

"With their agreement, of course, and any way I can do it without starting a war. There's no big rush."

Fukasaku slammed his palm on the ground, summoning an big orange toad with blue markings. "Gama, the Contract Scroll."

The toad, apparently named "Gama", opened his mouth and presented a big scroll, wrapped in his tongue. Fukasaku took the scroll with both hands and unrolled it. Meanwhile Naruto collected his sealing tags again and took down his privacy barrier, seeing that the telling of secrets was over.

"I think it's safe to say," said Fukasaku, "that we want you to sign our contract, and that we'll help you with your goal. Just… try not to get influenced by a flamboyant toad by the name of Gamariki, will you? We don't need another hippie."

"Right on," agreed Naruto.

Fukasaku bonked him on the head with a staff that he was suddenly holding. "No hippie slang! Don't even joke about it!"

"Ow! Alright, alright! Where do I sign?"

"Wait, wait! Pa, I wanted to be the one to teach him how to summon." Jiraya was back. He sported a large red mark on his cheek that looked suspiciously like a handprint, and he had a new tie-dyed shirt on.

"Jiraya," Fukasaku addressed him, "what did you do, flirt with the wrong nurse again?"

"Nonsense! There is no such thing as flirting with the wrong person. Love is free, man!"

Naruto unrolled the scroll and started studying both sides of it, noting the Fuinjutsu along the borders and concluding that it was two scrolls glued together with seals written on the glued side of both of them.

"Oi, Naruto, no peeling apart the contract!" warned Jiraya preemptively.

"Just like his father, isn't he?" remarked Fukasaku.

"Don't worry," said Naruto. "I promise I won't damage it." He grabbed the scroll and made a one-handed seal, forming a shadow clone with a copy of the scroll. The clone immediately began peeling his copy of the scroll apart.

Jiraya and Fukasaku gaped.

"You can do that?" said Jiraya, stunned.

Fukasaku facepalmed. "I can't believe no one ever thought of that. We lost the formula for that scroll hundreds of years ago and we never wanted to risk damaging that thing in order to find out, so it stayed lost."

"I'll make you a copy when I've deconstructed the formula," said Naruto cheerily. "Now, what do I do? Sign my name in blood with a finger and then put my handprint below it? Looks like that's what the other summoners did."

"Yup," confirmed Jiraya.

Naruto did so, using a tiny wind blade from one finger to cut his palm, letting the blood pool, then using that to sign and handprint.

"Alright, a bit of blood for the authentication seal, and the handseals for summoning are Boar→Dog→Bird→Monkey→Ram, right? How much chakra do I use?"

"As much as you can," said Jiraya confidently.

"As much as I can? Are you sure about that?" asked Naruto.

"Kid, summoning takes a lot of chakra. As much as you can."

"Hang on a moment," interrupted Fukasaku, having sensed Naruto's reserves far better than Jiraya could. He rolled up the original contract scroll and returned it to Gama, who took it back home. "Okay, now you can start."

"Okay!" Naruto immediately started glowing a dark blue, pulling up almost his entire reserves of highly dense chakra. Then he released one of the chakra storage scrolls hidden in the back of his shirt, and added it to his chakra coils as he made the five hand-seals.

Ignoring Jiraya, who was now gaping and protesting that it was too much chakra, he slammed his hand on the ground and cried, "Summoning Jutsu!" expelling all of that chakra into the technique.

Thick lines of script spread out from under his palm, forming a seal pattern that stretched across the entire clearing of Training Ground Three. There was a puff of smoke, and a toad appeared.

"Great Honorable Geezer!" "Great Geezer Sage!" exclaimed Fukasaku and Jiraya in surprise.

There, sitting in the clearing with Naruto on his back, was a huge, very old toad with a lot of wrinkles. He was a dusky reddish brown in color, his limbs looking somewhat atrophied from age, and he wore a red beaded necklace with a large jewel in the front with the kanji for "oil" on it. And he wore a large black professor's hat on his head.

"Hmm… it's been awhile since anybody summoned me. Get down in front of me so I can see you, boy."

Naruto obediently leapt lightly down from the ancient toad's back and walked around to his front. "My name is Naruto," he introduced himself. "What's your name?"

The wrinkled old toad opened his eyes and looked at Naruto. "Hrm-hah-hah-hah! The Child of Prophecy asks my name, it's been years since anybody asked my name!"

Jiraya whispered to Fukasaku, "The old geezer has a name?" In response, Fukasaku whacked him on the head with his staff, knocking Jiraya over.

"My name is Gamamaru. It's nice to meet you, Naruto!"

"It's nice to meet you too, Gamamaru," said Naruto politely. He clapped his hands together. "Will you teach me Senjutsu?"

"Hrm, hrm… the last humans I taught Senjutsu to were those two brothers Hagoromo and Hamura. Hmm… Yes, I will teach you Senjutsu."

Jiraya whispered in Fukasaku's ear again. "The old geezer can still use Senjutsu at his age?! And why is he sounding so much less senile than usual?"

"Of course he can, Jiraya, he's a Sage. He knows more about Senjutsu than Ma and I combined!"

Gamamaru laughed again and addressed Jiraya. "Yes, pervert-without-equal, I can use Senjutsu. In fact, I haven't stopped using Senjutsu in more than a century! I do believe that if I stopped now, I would fall over and die of old age. Hahahaha!" He stretched his limbs. "It's been awhile since I had this much energy. I must thank you for summoning me, Naruto."

"Is that how it works? You guys get energy from your summoners' chakra?"

"That is indeed the exchange on which the contract is based," said Gamamaru. "You get to summon us for assistance, and we get some chakra, which eventually turns into natural energy for Mount Myōboku. Speaking of which, we should go there now. You are coming with us, correct, Naruto? I predict that if we do not return within one minute, Shima will be most unhappy, especially when she realizes that both Fukasaku and I are gone."

"Is that a prophecy, Great Honorable Geezer?" asked Jiraya.

"Of course it is! I sensed that her caterpillar stew was nearly done before I was summoned. Knowing Shima's character and her current mood, I made a prediction. It will almost certainly come true, therefore it is indistinguishable from any other prophecy."

Jiraya nodded, pretending he understood.

Fukasaku stumbled and fell flat on his face. "THAT'S how prophecies work?!"

Naruto made four shadow clones, which all immediately vanished. "Okay, I'm ready to go. How do we do this?"

"You just need to be touching me," said Gamamaru, reaching out a hand. Naruto grasped one of the ancient toad's fingers, and they disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

"Come on, Jiraya! Shima's cooking her caterpillar stew with those rare fire ants today!" Fukasaku licked his lips in anticipation.

Jiraya groaned.


– CS –


Hiruzen, contrary to Naruto's guess, had stopped watching his crystal ball as soon as he had finished gaping at the conclusion to Naruto's fight with Jiraya. He did actually have a lot of paperwork to do. Plus, there was a Chūnin waiting outside his door to report back on a mission. He pressed a button under his desk, signaling to his secretary that the next person could be sent in.

"Lord Hokage," said the Chūnin. He was a civilian-born Chūnin with a relatively unknown face, who specialized in disguise and often took lower-ranked infiltration missions.

"How goes the mission?"

"I'm afraid there's very little progress so far, sir. The clerk at the Whirlwind office said they are not looking for employees at the current time. When I asked him for an employment application form anyway, he said the company seeks out potential prospects, rather than accepting applicants, so they don't even have an application form."

"You investigated in other directions, I take it?"

"Yes, I shadowed several of the employees home and identified them from the residency records. There's nothing suspicious about any of them. Some of them are long-time Konoha residents, some of them are civilians from outside the village."

"Did you find out anything about who owns the business?"

"Nothing. I even asked the clerk directly. He said Whirlwind Postal is owned by Whirlwind Incorporated, and he didn't know anything further. He gave the name of his superior, but I was unable to track her down. On vacation, apparently."

"Hmm… alright, keep an eye out and find out when that superior returns from her vacation. This is a low priority investigation; very likely there is nothing to be suspicious about. Yet there is something that strikes me as… off… about that company. I couldn't tell you why."

"Yes, sir!"


– CS –


"Hey Shikamaru!" A Naruto clone approached Shikamaru in their underground training hall where the other Genin was practicing a water jutsu at the edge of a pool of water they had created.

"Naruto?"

The clone shook his head. "Boss sent me to tell you he's in a summoning land with Jiraya and the toads, and he's not sure when he'll be back or if we can communicate. He could be out for up to a full month. I already told Shino, he's practicing clan techniques with his father."

"Okay, thanks for the message. Hey, how's your cousin Karin doing? Is she still with Tsunade?" Shikamaru tended to just treat shadow clones as the creator, considering that they had the same personality and knowledge and their memories went back to the creator when dispelled anyway.

"Yup, she's doing well. Auntie Tsunade is pretty sure she can use her bloodline as a Jutsu instead of through a bite, and make it much more efficient too. Why, is she more than just your fangirl?" teased the Naruto-clone.

"This from the guy who now has Ino and Sakura stalking him in addition to Hinata?"

"What? How did you learn that!"

"Ino told me and Choji, of course."

The Naruto-clone groaned. "Okay, okay, I give. No more teasing you about Karin."

Shikamaru nodded. "I just want to be a mediocre ninja, marry an average-looking woman, good-looking but not too pretty, pop out 2.5 kids…"

Naruto-clone rolled his eyes, having heard this before. "And a white picket fence and a few deer. Speaking of average and mediocre, do you think you can get your clansmen to stop propositioning my female clones in the Whirlwind office?"

"Hmph. Not a chance. Didn't you specifically transform them to be average-looking? Now help me with this Water Dragon jutsu. I'm still wasting too much chakra."


– CS –


Having seen how Homura was framed when he went undercover at a bar to spread rumors, Koharu decided to make sure she had an iron-clad alibi at all times, giving friendly greetings to more people in the street than she usually did, and making sure she didn't make any private meetings with only one person, and deciding to do her part by simply passing on a rumor in an un-subtle manner. She visited a gossipy old woman and her husband, both of them partners in a small trading business, and chatted for a few minutes.

"I've heard a rumor," said Koharu, "that the brat, you know, him, is being influenced by that thing inside more than usual lately. It's been said that he's becoming stronger and he's been caught knowing techniques that no one taught him."

The merchant woman in front of her gasped. "Really? The demon is gaining control? I always figured its influence was minimal since, you know, he hasn't killed anyone. Still best to stay away from him, but I thought it was safe."

Koharu nodded grimly. "I can't tell you where I heard it, but believe me, the information is trustworthy. And please, don't tell anyone that I told you. It wasn't supposed to reach my ears in the first place."

The implication of confidentiality clinched it for the trader and her husband, who nodded along in alarm.

A small beetle, hidden in the folds of Koharu's robes, vanished in a tiny puff of smoke.


– CS –


Inoichi, the head of the Yamanaka clan, had inherited a small flower shop from his parents, and he ran it whenever he had time off from his ninja duties. He enjoyed working with the plants, but there weren't always enough customers to keep him from getting bored. Some days, Inoichi wondered if he should sell the place.

Ding, ding! The bell on the door chimed as a customer walked in.

"Welcome to Yamanaka Flower Shop," said Inoichi. "How may I help you today, Lady Koharu?"

"I'd like a bouquet of red roses, please."

"Certainly," said Inoichi. "Would you like a small arrangement – a dozen roses – or a medium arrangement – twenty roses?"

The wrinkled old lady thought for a second. "A small arrangement."

"Alright, just give me a minute." Inoichi wrapped the roses in paper and tied them with a ribbon.

His customer paid, thanked the man and turned to leave. Then she stopped in the doorway to stare.

Inoichi, being a Yamanaka, sensed gossip. He subtly changed his position so he could see out one of the wide windows on the front of the shop.

Walking down the street, wearing his habitual scowl, with his nose turned up in the air, was Sasuke Uchiha. Inoichi shook his head; that boy had a serious ego problem. Then his sharp ninja hearing picked up his customer's voice.

"Damn menopause," muttered the gray-haired old lady.

Inoichi blinked and subtly peered at his customer to see if that meant what he thought it did. Sure enough, she was staring at Sasuke. Wow, thought Inoichi, Rumor confirmed!

Some days, Inoichi really loved his flower shop.


– CS –


No one noticed the old lady duck into an alley and morph into the familiar shape of Naruto Uzumaki before snickering and simply vanishing, leaving no sign that he had ever been there.


– CS –


"Hey," said Naruto, taking another bite. "I had no idea bugs could taste this good! What did you put in this, Granny Shima?"

Jiraya gaped at him, flabbergasted. His own bowl of caterpillar stew was completely untouched.

"See Jiraya, the boy has manners. Now eat your food, you're too skinny as always!" scolded Shima. Then she turned to Naruto and rattled off a list of ingredients that included a number of insect species as well as regular kitchen spices.

"Fire ants. I'll have to remember that, I'm pretty sure I know where a couple of nests are. Would you mind if I added a bit of salt? I'm guessing my human body has slightly different tastes than you toads."

"Salt?" Shima shuddered. "I've heard that you humans cook with salt. It makes our tongues shrivel up. I'm afraid I don't have any."

"Ah, don't worry, I'll keep it away from your bowl. And a sealmaster is never without his food supplies."

Naruto unsealed a salt shaker from a scroll and added a few shakes of salt into his stew before stirring and tasting it. He offered it to Jiraya. "Want some? It adds to the savory taste."

Jiraya sent a pleading look at Naruto with his eyes.If I add salt, then I'll have to taste it. I don't want to taste it!It only made Naruto smirk.

Grasping around for a way to change the subject, he fell upon the wording of Naruto's compliment of Shima's stew. "When have you tasted bugs before, anyway?" he asked sarcastically.

Naruto rolled his eyes and put down the salt shaker. "When I was five, the landlord decided I hadn't paid enough rent so he searched my apartment and took all my money. For the next week I was starving, so I hunted down all the spiders in the apartment and ate them."

Everyone in the room froze in horror.

Jiraya took the salt, added some to his stew, and ate, reminded horribly of his failure as a godfather.

Shima shuddered for a different reason. "Nasty things, spiders! All dry and stringy. Poor boy, you shouldn't have to eat those things."

"And they compete with us for the flies!" added Fukasaku with a frown. "Thank goodness we chased all the spiders out of Mount Myōboku centuries ago."


– CS –


An hour later, once they were done eating and met up with Gamamaru again, Naruto asked, "What did you mean by calling me a Chosen One, Gamamaru-sensei?"

Jiraya struck a pose and interrupted, "It means that you, my fab young friend, have been Chosen by prophecy to bring peace to the Elemental Nations through Flower Power!"

Naruto raised a skeptical eyebrow. "A prophecy, huh? Does this prophecy have any conditions to it that refer to my choices, like that prediction you made earlier about Shima getting upset if Fukasaku didn't get back before her stew was finished?"

"Why would that matter?" asked Jiraya. "It's a prophecy about the future! Don't you want to know?"

Naruto just looked at Gamamaru.

Gamamaru answered, "No. It's just a future prophecy, not a piece of advice."

"Then I'm going to ignore it. If it's a true prophecy, then it will come true one way or another. I'm certainly not going to pursue Flower Power in order to make it happen."

"What? But I was hoping I could convince you to be a hippie like me…" Jiraya drooped, crestfallen.

Gamamaru laughed in his raspy way. "Wise choice, Naruto! A prophecy is just a prediction, nothing more, nothing less. You don't need to listen to it if you don't want to."


– CS –


"Kakashi," said Sasuke. "Teach me."

Kakashi looked up from his Icha Icha book, which, once again, he was reading in the middle of the street. He sighed. He had been hoping none of his students would approach him for training, but if it happened he would have preferred it to be Naruto. The blond boy was just so much easier to get along with.

Oh, well. He was obligated, as a Jōnin-sensei, to teach one of his students for the month leading up to the Chūnin exam finals if he was asked, so he couldn't really turn Sasuke down.

"Fine. Meet me at Training Ground 16 in half an hour with a week's worth of wilderness supplies."

"Hn." Sasuke turned and walked off.

Kakashi sighed again. It was going to be a long month. Maybe he could take out his displeasure by showing Sasuke just how useless his new Earth Release Armor technique was against lightning jutsu.


– CS –


"The first thing you must learn is how to stay completely still and become one with nature," said Gamamaru. "This will allow natural energy to enter your body. Then you must mix that natural energy with your own chakra and balance it correctly. If you have too much chakra in the mix, you will not go into Sage Mode. If you have too much natural energy, you will turn into a stone statue of a toad."

Naruto listened carefully as Jiraya and Fukasaku looked on.

"Okay… I get that meditating is needed to become one with nature, but why does one need to stay completely still? Not all of nature is completely still. The wind blows, rivers flow, waves move, even the earth itself moves at times due to natural processes."

"That's just the way the technique works," said Jiraya.

Gamamaru laughed. "That's not 'just the way the technique works,'" he stated. "It's a good question. You need to stay still and harmonize with the ground below you because that is the Toad style of Senjutsu. If you were learning a bird clan's style of Senjutsu, you would be in motion, harmonizing with the air. If you were learning a fish clan's style of Senjutsu, you would be in the water, harmonizing with its flow. All of these are 'correct' ways of learning Senjutsu. However, because you are learning here on Mount Myōboku, the Nature Energy is better suited to the Toad style."

"Do the different styles of Senjutsu have different effects?" asked Naruto.

"Not greatly. The toad style lends itself slightly better to strength, being based on the earth, and the air and water styles, speed and flexibility, respectively. But despite the slight relationship to the element you harmonize with, Nature Energy is still basically the same in all of nature."

"That makes sense. Is it possible to learn more than one style of Senjutsu?"

"Yes, of course it is. I myself can use the fish style of Senjutsu in addition to the Toad style. I'm just a lot better at gathering Natural Energy in the Toad style."

"Okay. Would turning into a toad statue be because I'm learning here at Mount Myōboku? I assume you would turn into something else if you were learning in another clan's domain?"

"Correct! If you take in too much Natural Energy when learning a water style, you will turn into water and flow away. If you learn in one of the other earth-based clans' lands, it is a statue that takes the form of one of their species. Except the Snakes – their method of learning Senjutsu is somewhat unnatural and if you fail, you will simply get eaten by the White Snake Sage."

Naruto nodded. "Note to self: be wary of the White Snake Sage. Is there a way to reverse getting turned into a statue?"

"No," said Gamamaru. "If you turn into stone, it is because you have become so completely one with nature that the Natural Energy flows through you like it does through the earth, completely washing away your own chakra."

"What if you had a reserve your own chakra standing by and injected it into your chakra system? Like a storage seal or even a Shadow Clone?"

"It could work," said Gamamaru. "It would require that it be done before the Natural Energy washes away your chakra entirely. And you would need a great deal of chakra. But that will not be necessary because you will have Fukasaku or I to monitor you and knock the Natural Energy out of you if you make a mistake."

"Got it. Is it possible to gather Natural Energy through Fuinjutsu and inject it into your chakra system in the correct proportion without staying still?" queried Naruto.

"Most likely, but I would ask that you do not try," said Gamamaru sternly. "By removing the necessity of harmonizing with nature, you would lose the ability to connect with it. You would no longer be a Sage, just a ninja taking energy that does not belong to you. It is allowed to use natural energy to power a seal that itself becomes part of nature, but to empower yourself in such a way is unnatural and could disturb the balance."

"Understood. I won't try. Next question, since chakra is made by mixing your spiritual and physical energy, or Yin and Yang, why don't you try to add Natural Energy into the mix when you're creating chakra in the first place?"

Gamamaru laughed again at Naruto's question. "That's exactly what my old student Hagoromo asked. It turns out that the resulting energy is basically the same, but if you are able to separately control the Yin and Yang energy that you put into the mix, you gain far greater control over it, and several additional abilities. Most beings, myself included, are unable to separately control their spiritual and physical energy like that, but he was able to do so. He called it 'Six Paths Sage Mode'."

At this point, Jiraya's head was spinning and he was barely following the conversation. Dammit, his godson was smarter than he was, just like Minato! But this, he caught. "Wait… Six Paths? This Hagoromo was the Sage of Six Paths?!" exclaimed Jiraya.

"Hmm… yes, that is what people started calling him in his later years," confirmed Gamamaru.

"Way out! You taught the Sage of Six Paths!" said Jiraya.

"That is pretty awesome," agreed Naruto. "Maybe you can tell us more about him sometime, the stories in our history are pretty sparse and untrustworthy. But for now, how do I get started? Meditate and stay as still as possible? And can I speed this up with Shadow Clones?"

"Eager, aren't you?" said Fukasaku, breaking into the conversation for the first time. "Jiraya, why don't you give it another try? It's been a few years since you tried to finish learning Senjutsu properly."

Jiraya groaned. "Yeah, yeah, can't let the brat get too far ahead of me. I just have trouble holding onto the Senjutsu chakra for longer than a few seconds."

Bonk! Fukasaku whacked Jiraya on the head.

"The only reason you can't hold your concentration on Senjutsu chakra is because you keep thinking of sex!"

"No, it's because you won't let me burn incense while practicing."

BONK!

"That's because you were using it to hide the smell of cannabis. Drugs do NOT help you get in touch with nature!"


– CS –


"Auntie Tsunade! Karin! Shizune! Tauntaun! How's it going?" Naruto knocked on the door of the hotel suite and entered when Shizune answered the door.

"Hi Naruto," greeted Shizune.

"It's going well!" said Karin, holding up a wiggling fish and grinning.

"Frustrating," said Tsunade. "We've been working on the Mystical Palm jutsu for two days now. Karin here has figured out how to use that Uzumaki bloodline to heal things, but it keeps getting in the way of her learning the jutsu."

"What's the difference between the bloodline and the Mystical Palm?" asked Naruto.

Tsunade sighed. "Karin, why don't you explain? Sometimes explaining it yourself helps you understand it."

"The mystical palm is about converting your chakra into medical chakra, channeling it into the patient's injuries, and simultaneously using the technique to sense out what's wrong and to correct the injury, put tissues back together, encourage cell growth, or whatever is necessary to fix it," explained Karin, almost by rote. "My bloodline, on the other hand, sends my special chakra into the patient's chakra system, somehow making them heal themselves without requiring me to know anything about their body."

"So… let me guess," said Naruto, "Auntie Tsunade is hoping that if you learn how the body works, you can make your bloodline more efficient by channeling that special chakra directly into the patient's wounds without wasting energy by filling their entire chakra system."

"Yes," confirmed Shizune, making Karin pout. "The problem is she just keeps healing the fish without sensing what's wrong."

"If the bloodline works by sending that special chakra into the patient's chakra network, why not just use a chakra suppression seal on the fish's chakra network so Karin can practice the Mystical Palm technique properly?" proposed Naruto.

Everyone gaped at him.

"Why didn't I think of that?" said Tsunade. "Naruto, can you make me a few fish-sized chakra network suppression seals?"

"Sure." Naruto made a group of ten shadow clones and handed them some sealing supplies.

"Any news on your end?" asked Shizune. "I know the second part of the Chūnin Exams must have finished by now."

"Well, I'm actually a clone, and that's what I came here to tell you. Jiraya offered to train the boss for a month."

"Your deadbeat godfather finally made contact?" Tsunade sneered.

"Yeah," the Naruto-clone snickered, talking in first person because Tsunade addressed him as Naruto. He did have the same memories after all. "I asked him to teach me Senjutsu. He said no. Then I made a deal with him that if I could beat him in a spar, he would teach me. Guess what happened."

Tsunade laughed. "I hope you got the old hippie good!" She and Shizune were some of the very few people who had an idea of how strong Naruto really was.

"Sure did! Straight-forward Nintaijutsu match too. Then he said he couldn't teach me Senjutsu because he hadn't mastered it himself, so he introduced me to the toads. Boss is training on Mount Myōboku now."

Tsunade sighed. "The toads, huh? Unfortunately the slugs don't have a Sage. I would have liked to have you sign with the slugs, but I guess they aren't really your style, are they?"

"Excuse me," said Karin, "are you talking about Jiraya of the Sannin? You actually beat him?"

Naruto-clone grinned. "That's right!" He produced a chakra chain from his palm. Then he produced a Rasengan on the tip of it. "There were a lot of these involved."

Karin gasped. She was a powerful natural chakra sensor, and she could feel the intensity of the chakra in the technique. "A lot of those?" she exclaimed in disbelief.


– CS –


"See?" said another of Naruto's clones. "That's how you walk on water."

"Got it!" "Meow!" confirmed his two students.

Konohamaru and Tora stepped into the shallow water of the pond hidden in the forested training ground they were using, with a shiver of disgust on the cat's part, channeled chakra to the bottom of one foot, and started trying to step onto the surface.

"Mrow!" complained Tora.

"Sorry Tora, learning to deal with waves is part of learning. The ripples Konohamaru is making are nothing compared to the difficulty of walking on flowing water."

"So," said a voice coming from the forest, "this is how Tora has been getting harder to capture."

"Grampa!" shouted Konohamaru. "Oh, no! He found out about our secret training!"

"MREEOOW!" Tora dashed away and hid behind a tree. He recognized this old man, he was the one who kept sending ninjas to recapture him!

"Hi Gramps!" said the Naruto-clone. "What's up?"

"Oh, you know, just figuring out why my Genin teams have started utterly failing a certain D-ranked mission for a while now." Hiruzen walked out of the forest in his white Hokage robes like he hadn't just been jumping through the trees at high speed.

"Ah-heh-hehe." Naruto-clone rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment.

Hiruzen laughed. "Might as well give the cat a sporting chance. And Konohamaru? You've already graduated from tree climbing?"

"Yup!" said Konohamaru proudly. "I'll be strong enough to beat you soon!"

"He's not strong enough to walk up the trees on his feet," explained Naruto, "but his chakra control is good enough to climb up on all fours or hang upside down from his feet. Since water-walking doesn't require physical strength, I figured there's no reason to let your chakra control wait until your physical strength catches up. It should work because Konohamaru's got a lot more chakra than the average. Moegi and Udon tired out from tree climbing and went home half an hour ago."

"Hmm. Good idea. So Naruto, I saw your match with Jiraya."

Naruto-clone smirked. "Figured you'd be watching with that crystal ball of yours."

"Indeed. I must congratulate you. You're rather overpowered for a Genin, aren't you?"

"Little bit, maybe," grinned Naruto-clone.

"I'd better quadruple my bet on the Chūnin Exam finals. Also… you're a clone, right? The original is with Jiraya?"

"Yup! Did you want to speak to the boss?"

"Actually I wanted to send a message to Jiraya."

Bored, Konohamaru stepped back into the water and started training again. Tora followed him, finally deciding that the old man in the white robes wasn't going to capture him.


– CS –


Naruto would spend the entire month until the Chūnin Exam Finals on Mount Myōboku, learning Senjutsu from Gamamaru and Fukasaku. He found out that he could actually use Hiraishin to teleport to and from Konoha, but he only sent Shadow Clones back and forth.

They ate bugs every day, much to the disgust of Jiraya, who was very grateful to receive a note from the Hokage, brought by Naruto's clone via Hiraishin, summoning him away to use his spy network and prepare to counter Orochimaru's plans.

Naruto learned that the amount of Natural Energy you could absorb to produce Senjutsu chakra was directly related to the your own chakra reserves. Jiraya put Naruto's vast reserves of chakra down to his status as a Jinchūriki, but Naruto knew better. He was very grateful for his father's advice for increasing chakra capacity.


– CS –


How to be a Ninja
by Minato Namikaze

Chapter 8: Training to Gain More Chakra

With all this talk about doing stuff with chakra, you're probably thinking, "but I don't have enough chakra to do that!" Well, good news: you can train to increase your chakra capacity and regeneration rate!

Surprisingly, very few ninja actually train the smart way to increase chakra capacity, even though "power" in the ninja world is often equated with chakra capacity. Most people just think that increasing your chakra capacity means just using Jutsu to exhaustion over and over again… which is true, but that's the slow way to do it.

Section (a): Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Remember what chakra is made of? Spiritual/mental and physical energy. They teach this in Year 1 of the Ninja Academy.

So exercise your physical body to increase your physical energy and exercise your mind to increase your spiritual energy. Duh.

Well… technically this training increases your rate of physical and spiritual energy production, or regeneration rate, not your chakra capacity. Maybe that's why so few people understand why they need to do this, they get confused by the fact that they still run out of chakra almost as quickly after training this way.

As you can see, it's still extremely valuable, though. So do it. Physical exercise is obvious, you already know how to do that. Mental exercise means… studying. Increasing your knowledge. Learning strategy. Solving mental problems. You know, like… doing Fuinjutsu.

Section (b): Using Shadow Clones

So how to increase your chakra capacity? Most people think chakra capacity is something you are born with, and increases with the growth of your body. This is patently untrue. Your chakra network is linked to your body, but it's actually somewhat metaphysical. You can increase your chakra network beyond what most people think a body your size should be capable of holding. As far as I know, there is actually no limit to your potential, except that you can only expand your chakra network so fast without damaging it.

We cheat with Shadow Clones, of course!

First of all, you can use Shadow Clones to do your mental exercises to increase your knowledge and mental energy, while you train your physical body. You should already be doing this.

Second, remember what happens when a Shadow Clone pops? Its remaining chakra gets added back to your chakra network. Therefore, if you create a bunch of Shadow Clones, wait until your regeneration refills your reserves, and then slowly dispel your clones, you can "stretch" your chakra reserves. Repeat this exercise once a day or so, making sure you always stop at the point where you can actually feel your chakra network stretching to contain all that chakra.

I'm sure you can understand the implications. Your chakra network expands like a balloon, and when it heals like a sore muscle, it stays a bit bigger than before.

What you may not realize is that this actually increases the density of the chakra inside your network. Your chakra will become a darker blue and your jutsu will become more powerful. At some point you may actually need to lower the amount of chakra you're pumping into each technique, because you need less than you used to in order to produce the same effect and avoid overpowering things.

Pretty cool, huh? Just don't forget to keep all that extra chakra from leaking when you're around other people, or your stealth will be lost.


– CS: Omakes –


OMAKE:

The samurai of Iron Country were a disciplined lot. As they marched in parade for a national holiday in front of their leader, General Mifune, everything was perfect: every soldier wore identical polished armor, every one marched in perfect lock-step, even their swords, hanging from their belts, were all worn at an identical angle.

So when all of their helmets suddenly turned into colorful half-meter-tall, circular foam funny hats that looked like fishcakes, AKA naruto, the soldiers didn't even twitch. They just kept marching in lock-step, eyes front, hands on the pommels of their swords, and posture perfect.


– CS –


Author's Note:

I'm back! Sorry for the… what is it, almost three-year hiatus… damn. I lost my mojo, stopped writing for a while, and finally got back to this now.

I am surprised by how popular this fic is. 8,259 favorites! And even more follows! Holy shit. And thank you!

Yes, I know my chapters of Minato's book have gotten out of sync with the chapters of my story. That's unfortunate, but it's much more important for me to link the theme of each chapter somewhat with the subject of Minato's book.