Spiral Dragon by Greylle
DISCLAIMER: Original series belong to someone else.
NOTE: The following is just an idea that came to me and started developing. Not sure how long i'll keep going on it.
* rewrite 4/29/18 *
Spiral Dragon, part one. Wishing upon a dragon
* break *
Toltiir pondered in his current-favorite form of a black housecat as he watched Team 7 scurry on their D-Rank mission. A tail whip-cracked, resetting events to "baseline." Which was why he'd adopted of the human adage to make backups and make backups often.
As what some considered an "elder god" - something that existed before this new-fangled three-dimensional-in-a-fourth-medium multiversal idea had been thrown into existence - he didn't really HAVE a form in the manner that these beings would consider as such. It was just something he'd learned to manifest to keep these fascinating little beings from screaming and clawing their eyes out or self-terminating in a large manner of methods. Most of which weren't even all that amusing.
Now, here was a good point about things that he (another convenience as "he" was quite capable of being male or female or shemale or whatever struck a momentary fancy) just didn't quite understand.
Team 7 was doing those silly little D-Rank missions. Which were supposed to build teamwork, which really was only emphasized during their genin days anyway. From what one could see just in the past/future of this little speck of reality - once they got to "chunin" or journeyman-ninja - teams were mostly dropped. Just as often, these "team building" jobs didn't do much expect provide busywork. Or at least that was Toltiir's view.
So, it was boring and pointless. Which was exactly the sort of thing that a god of mischief/trickery/luck/whimsy/wishes tended to want to throw in random factors.
Except this WAS a timeline not too far off the mainline, but far enough that he could do this and not have a bunch of humorless whiny gods complain at him about it. That was annoying and pointless and he could do without that sort of thing. It was already diverged from the mainline, as the elder god was fairly sure without looking that golf was not one of the sports enjoyed by civilians in the Naruto mainline.
In whatever case, this looked like a good point to intervene at. It was one of those "soft points" where the timeline didn't break or ripple overmuch if something was moved, which could also be a right pain.
* break *
"Hurry it up, Naruto!" said Sakura, her voice slightly distorted by the communicators they wore.
"Yeah, yeah, just a minute," said Naruto as he picked his way through the forest. "I am so sick of this."
"Not in position yet?" asked Kakashi over HIS communicator.
"Why do we need to be in position anyway?" asked Naruto. "We're searching for golf balls for crying out loud!"
"That," said Kakashi, "is a secret."
"It's probably a team-building exercise for coordinating against mobile targets, right Sasuke?" asked Sakura.
"Yeah yeah, whatever. Hey I think I-" said Naruto just before the ground collapsed under him. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
Kakashi frowned as he tapped his communicator. "Naruto, can you stop playing around. This is serious."
A minute went by. Then two.
"Found another golfball," said Sasuke, dropping it into the bag with the other ones. How the heck was he supposed to get strong doing this sort of thing?
"Honestly," said Sakura. "Naruto is SO immature. Unlike Sasuke!"
"Naruto?" asked Kakashi, then sighing after another minute went by without any answer. "I'll go look for him."
"If he managed to get himself killed on a golfball-hunting mission, I'll never speak to him again," promised Sakura, who then brightened at the possibility of being alone for long periods with Sasuke. She felt guilty about it as she made a quick prayer that Naruto had found a better life in the next world.
That flash of guilt didn't keep Sakura from hoping sincerely that Naruto was out of her life and a brief fantasy in which she and Sasuke got closer together with the tragedy of an MIA Naruto a shared experience.
* break *
"AGH! HELP!" managed Naruto as he turned in mid-air to see the distant bright crack of the hole he'd fallen down disappear in the distance.
Finally he remembered his ninja tools, tied a length of cord to a grapple (taking three tries) and threw it off into the darkness. It made a clang as it hit rock somewhere out there and apparently bounced off.
"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah," cried out little twelve year old Naruto as he realized how far he'd fallen. It was hard to tell how fast he was going because all he could see was dark - but he'd been falling for a very long time now.
He was going to splat. He'd hit the ground and be smooshed into jelly. Now he'd never be Hokage. Never kiss Sakura. Never get anyone to like him. Dying in a dark hole where he'd never be found. Never eat ramen again.
"AHHHH! SCREW THIS!" screamed the falling genin, trying to swim through the air towards a shaft wall.
Naruto blinked as he landed on something that seemed kind of hard but which gave way immediately, slowing him down.
"Well well well. What do we have here?"
Naruto gulped at that overly loud and overly deep voice. If a mountain could speak, he would expect it to have such a voice. A particularly large and nasty mountain. The kind of mountain that loomed over lesser mountains and intimidated the rest of the mountain range. It was a very very scary voice.
After a brief pause came something that sounded like that same mountain sniffing the air. Even THAT was intimidating. "Naruto Uzumaki. Genin of the Leaf Village. Jinchuriki of the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox."
"Y-y-y-y-y-you know me?" asked Naruto, hoping this wasn't someone he'd pranked.
Flames shot out, briefly illuminating the cavern.
Naruto couldn't possibly be any more quiet or still than he was at that moment, having seen way too much. If his muscles hadn't completely frozen, he might have wet himself right there.
His 'landing pad' was the forepaw of a dragon. A dragon who was at least as big as his village. Just the forepaw/claw/hand was bigger than his apartment building. Said dragon had just jetted flames out of his mouth. Had those flames hit HIM, Naruto knew with absolute certainty that he'd be ash blowing on the wind.
"Now what to do with you," mused the dragon in the darkness now that the flames had died out.
Naruto imagined his death in several grisly manners, each one more nasty than the last. Considering the first one involved being eaten and his ninja headband popping out later after the dragon got a toothpick - that was pretty bad.
"Don't be a fool, child. I don't eat sentient beings. It's bad karma."
"That's... good, right?" asked Naruto as he tried to get his shaking under control.
"Even as pathetic and tiny as you are, the least ninja of your class, whose team mate even now prays for your death, killing you was not my plan - else I would not have stopped your fall as I did."
"Uhm, right," said Naruto, realizing that he was shaking twice as hard now that he'd relaxed just a little bit. Also a bit sore as he'd been clenching quite a bit. "Sasuke's praying for my death?"
"Not that one. Sakura Haruno."
"Eh?" asked Naruto.
There was a chuckle that sounded like a rockslide. "Child. I'm able to read minds, all true dragons can do a bit of that as the ability to speak all languages despite mouth parts not really compatible with human speech. Now that you've awoken me, I have no reason to lie to you. Rather, I owe you a favor."
"Eh?" asked Naruto, suddenly getting a glimpse inside Sakura's head and FEELING the contempt she had for him. She was... wishing he was dead so she could get closer to Sasuke? Did his life utterly SUCK or what?
"Speak, child. Three wishes shall I give you. If it is in my relatively vast power to grant, I shall do so."
"Can you get me out of here?" asked Naruto. That WAS his first concern after all.
"Is that your only wish then?"
"Wish? Like you can give me anything?" asked Naruto, tiny glimmer of hope popping up through the dark.
"Don't waste my time, child. Freedom beckons me. I am not all powerful. On the other hand, as a celestial ancient dragon of considerable magical power and knowledge - there is quite a lot I could do that you might think impossible."
"Okay," said Naruto, screwing up his courage. "I wish I had some awesome jutsu that would let me get out of stuff like this."
"Hmmm. Flight or teleportation? Hmmm. Maybe a walk through solid objects? Hmmm. Very well."
The dragon's eyes flashed red, illuminating Naruto briefly.
"What was that?" asked Naruto, a little nervously.
"Just prepping for that wish," explained the dragon, its deep voice causing rocks to slide off somewhere in the distance. Possibly in Kumo. "Your second wish?"
"I don't feel any different," noted Naruto.
"I haven't granted the wish yet, child. After you've made all three, it may be possible to combine them all in one event." The dragon made a thoughtful noise. "Conservation of matter and energy. Considerations a bit beyond your current understanding."
"Okay," said Naruto. He was a little miffed at the reference to his intelligence, at least he thought it was a swipe at him not being all that and educated and stuff. "Hey, if you can do stuff like this, why can't you just escape?"
"My word was given that I would not escape until I was freed," answered the dragon. "Your arrival, unintended as it was, managed to do that."
"Oh," said Naruto, nodding at that. Giving one's word was important. That was at least one thing he had in common with the huge dragon with the equally huge teeth. "Well... are you sure Sakura doesn't like me?" Maybe he'd imagined that earlier?
The dragon simply linked the bit about Sakura fantasizing about Naruto being dead, yes - STILL, and her getting closer to Sasuke as a result into Naruto's head.
"Oh," said Naruto. "Could you make her a little friendlier?"
"Child, if you wished it, I could have her and most of the kunoichi of your village trying to cuddle you or bed you or both. If you made it one of your two remaining wishes, I could have it so that she never looked at Sasuke Uchiha in such a way. I could make her your tsundere sister, your best friend since starting the Academy, or your pet. Is that what you want?"
"Uhhhhhh," said Naruto, suddenly picturing those possibilities. Suddenly he DID want something like that. No. It wouldn't be right to do it that way. Though the brief imagination of Sakura smiling at HIM as his best friend DID have a powerful appeal to him.
The dragon sighed and settled down. "I'll speak frankly. Your strength is sub-par for your age and the amount of working out that you do. Your chakra control is terrible, again relative to your age group. You have high levels of chakra but as your control is so poor - you can't always draw enough of it do anything and sometimes you overload your jutsu. You are not particularly intelligent, and your skills as a ninja are mostly lacking. Does any of this help?"
"Damn Sasuke," muttered Naruto. He was sure he was being compared to the top student somehow.
"Do you want him to suffer then?" The dragon managed to sound mildly disappointed despite having a voice that tended to cause bones to vibrate in his immediate vicinity.
"No," said Naruto after a long pause in which he considered being able to lord it over a broken and beaten Sasuke. Nice image but somehow lacking.
"Hmmm. He's your rival then," said the dragon. "He has a formidable advantage. With that Sharingan, he can steal any technique you work out unless it were a kekkei genkai, a summoning contract, or requiring specialized training. Though the last two he might be able to acquire something similar with work on his part."
"A wha?" asked Naruto.
"Kekkei genkai. Bloodline ability. A talent only you and those descended from you have. He's not the only one you know who has such talents."
"Who else?" asked Naruto.
Images appeared of several classmates.
"They've all got this 'khaki getto' stuff?" asked Naruto. Sounded like an unfair advantage to him, but then again they were ninja and cheating was a natural ninja activity.
"Yes. Some have specialized training and techniques that they are able to use to greater effect than those who haven't been breeding for that purpose. Not a true kekkei genkai, but getting there within a few more generations."
"So," said Naruto, thinking if they had one - it really wasn't fair that HE shouldn't have one. "Can I get one?"
"An 'awesome' kekkei genkai that Sasuke couldn't steal? Hmmm. Might be able to work that into the first wish as well," indicated the dragon.
"Okayyyy. When you get loose, you're not going to destroy the village or something, are you?" asked Naruto.
"Not unless that's your third wish," replied the dragon. "Is it?"
"NO!" Naruto was quick to shout. "Why do all the girls like Sasuke so much and not me?"
"I'll look into a few minds, since the working of your species' selection of mates is a bit different from the draconic versions. Hmmmm. You act like an idiot and immature. Whereas Sasuke mostly keeps his mouth shut, manages to give a brooding but mature air. Though it seems that not ALL the girls like Sasuke."
"Well," reasoned Naruto. "None of them like me."
"Eh?" asked Naruto.
"There is one girl who likes you. Even now she thinks fondly of you and wonders how you are doing with your new team."
"Yeah, right, that couldn't be," began Naruto.
Letting out a sigh that echoed through the cavern, the dragon (who was actually Toltiir playing out a part in an improvised drama) decided to just SHOW the boy.
* break *
Late afternoon, two years previous:
There he was. Sitting there on the swing near the Academy. A swing that nobody else used.
Her heart went out to him. How she longed to go over there and speak to him. If only she could.
Everyone spoke so poorly of him. They shunned him. They saw the village pariah or the dunce or the clown. They didn't see HIM. They didn't see the confidence or inner strength, they didn't see the drive or the kind heart or his inventiveness.
No, they saw something else. She knew though. She saw him - Naruto Uzumaki.
All the other girls saw Sasuke Uchiha as attractive and cool and strong and desirable. She didn't. He brooded and sulked. He had great anger built up within him like some dam holding back floodwaters. He was the last of his clan, but she was of a highly respected (though not loved) clan of Konohagakure and wouldn't respect someone solely for that.
Then there was what they did apart from training and school. Naruto gardened. He tried to care for animals, but most of them sensed something dark and dangerous about him and they too shunned him. Plants though - he kept a few hidden away. He cared for them, talked to them, made them grow strong and tall.
If only she could approach him, but she was so weak and worthless. Her family wouldn't appreciate her making a friend like him even if he didn't reject her. It would just be more trouble for him.
If only she had the courage to take that small step. To go forward just a little bit, to tell him that it was alright. That she believed in him.
* break *
"Whoa," said Naruto.
"Going through her memories, there were exactly eleven such instances where she almost made that step. Twice she succeeded but was unable to bring herself to get your attention while it was focussed elsewhere. Major self-esteem issues, with the added burden of a clan that has managed to split itself and is currently very image-sensitive."
"Somebody likes and believes in me?" asked Naruto in an awestruck voice. Then he wiped his eyes. "Damn dust in this cavern."
"Of course," replied the dragon. You didn't need exceptional powers to see a certain hyperactive knucklehead approaching a shy heiress in the near future. Not that he'd necessarily get anywhere with her. That had happened in other continuities after all, and there were some intriguing possibilities to explore here.
"Why was she going on about being 'weak'?" asked Naruto.
"She's been told for years that she's weak, unworthy, hopeless. Mostly by her own family. She sees you as being driven to succeed despite your flaws and faults, and that is what attracts her to you initially."
"Her own family?" asked Naruto, clutching one fist in order to righteously declare. "Well, I'll have to change their minds!"
"To defend against the entire Hyuga clan would certainly require great power," mused the dragon. "Either that or an absolute defense that would protect you from their sight. Hmmm. There are others about who might like you, or would at least be inclined to that. Some you know, some you don't know yet. Some are destined to cross your path, others would normally not meet you until the option of becoming your friend is closed to them."
"Seriously?" asked Naruto, who thought that the idea of people seeking to be friendly with him was downright odd but appealing.
"Providing you have the strength to overcome certain barriers, yes. Why? Is that your third wish?" The dragon made a grumbling noise that sounded thoughtful. Or like an earthquake was beginning.
"Eh?" asked Naruto, remembering the dragon's assessment of his skills earlier. But really, being weak compared to a dragon? He'd certainly heard enough about his lack of smarts from the Academy - and both Sakura and Sasuke would remind him of that too.
Come to think of it, hadn't he heard ALL of those comments at one time or another?
If he got a wish, wasn't this the time to address that? It wasn't like he'd get another chance.
"Yeah, I wish I was strong enough to fight her entire clan if I had to, smart enough to figure out how to do what I got to do, and had chakra control better than Sakura! (See how SHE likes being Dead Last!) AND that I had some ninja skills that were downright awesome! Can you do that?"
"Your wishes were heard. I'm now working out how to grant them in a single manifestation," said the thoughtful-seeming dragon. "The ability to escape this prison, a powerful kekkei genkai that Sasuke Uchiha or other Sharingan users cannot copy, and the means to defeat an entire elite clan of ninja. Interesting. For a mortal who hasn't lived to see thirteen summers, you intrigue me, child."
"Oh?" asked Naruto, peering into the darkness. Was that a hopeful sign? It certainly sounded hopeful.
"Here," came the voice of the dragon, eyes briefly flashing again but before it all returned to dark.
"What's here? I can't see anything you know."
"Granting all three wishes in a tidy package. Fare thee well, Naruto Uzumaki."
"Huh? Hey wait, I still can't see nothing!"
That was when the pain hit as Naruto Uzumaki was rebuilt.
* break *
Kakashi Hatake looked down the hole. Pakkun looked down the hole.
"Yeah, he went down here," said Pakkun after a sniff. "I ain't going down though."
Kakashi picked up a rock, held it over the hole, then listened. Nothing. Then he fumbled in his belt, snapped a chemilight, then dropped THAT.
"I can tell you that goes down pretty damn far," offered Pakkun. "And smells of old musty reptile for some reason."
"Well, great, Naruto's dead," griped Kakashi as he saw the glowing chemical stick disappear in the distance. "On a golfball collecting mission. Now I've got to break the news to the rest of the team. Sasuke will be mad."
"Well, the loss of a team-mate is always hard," said Pakkun philosophically.
"No, it means we get a fail for the mission on his permanent record," said Kakashi. He couldn't see Sakura particularly caring about it, but Sasuke was trying to live up to his brother's record and surpass it. Which he wasn't doing, as Sasuke wasn't quite the genius that Itachi Uchiha had been.
Kakashi turned away from the hole to go see to those tasks, which meant he missed it when Naruto left his "grave."
He didn't miss the sudden gusting wind nearly blowing him off his feet. Nor did he miss the way Pakkun repeatedly stated that he had seen nothing, that couldn't have been what he thought it was, and how he needed to check the expiration date on the bacon bits.
* a few seconds earlier *
Naruto switched, finding the little mental toggle to do so.
Suddenly the darkness wasn't all-encompassing. He was in a huge cavern, and there was writing on all the walls. Unfortunately he couldn't read the writing as it was apparently written in High Draconic and he hadn't assimilated to that degree yet.
Naruto blinked and cocked his head to the side. How did he know that? How did he know this stuff was written in a draconic language? How did he know that he could fly, had a 'breath weapon', a lifespan that could be measured in millenia, was stronger and tougher and more intelligent, and that by switching into his dragon form he might get severely injured in the process - but he could flatten the Hyuga compound and make Hinata an orphan without any family at all.
Hmmm. Have to use his Fabricate spell, make this a lair now that it wasn't a prison anymore. Besides the big dragon only was kept here by his word, and Naruto wasn't planning on swearing any oaths to be a prisoner.
Wait a minute, he had a Fabricate spell?
THAT could be freaking handy.
Naruto curled his tail underneath him, squatted, and summoned his magic. Then he leapt straight up, his wings held tight against his body lest they snag on the passage.
Once clear, he could fly in earnest. He felt the air cupped by his wings as he climbed to a high altitude. It was his internal magic that let him fly though. The wings alone would let him glide or control his flight, but they weren't sufficiently large to let him fly without magic.
Naruto grinned at the sight of the village beneath him, then had a thought and just glided to a landing where he could switch back. Boy, wasn't Konoha in for a surprise?
He knew that he'd been rewritten and that he was now a dragon. Not simply a large lizard, but a Bytopian Adamantite Dragon. Which had scales but was not a reptile, closer to a bird in some respects.
If one looked at him, using his innate Polymorph to duplicate his human form, one would simply see Naruto Uzumaki the way he'd always been. More or less.
Using the Sharingan would not reveal anything particularly amiss either.
The Byakugan, on the other hand, would reveal some pretty darn powerful chakra flows. Hints of something else would be revealed.
Someone familiar with draconology would be able to identify him as a Celestial (or Bytopian) Adamantine Dragon, or at least a subspecies of the same. A form of dragon known for their extremely high strength, particularly tough hide, and the ability to blast things with a form of celestial fire. That he could use innate spells to Fabricate, Enlarge, Reduce, or Mend. Oh, and that his diet could pretty much include anything in the Animal and Vegetable and Mineral groups in varying balances.
He plucked at his clothing, frowned, and made a gesture. His clothing shifted - becoming ripped and torn and scuffed up. Giving him the opportunity to wear a different outfit after he'd let people see him wearing it. Now he just had to put on an act like everything was normal, up until he was ready to surprise certain people.
Hmmm. Scrolls. That would be a good cover. Fortunately, with his Fabricate spell - he could make them. All he needed was raw materials and the knowledge of how to make paper so the magic could be directed to handle the conversion.
Thinking about it, Naruto decided the first order of business would be letting the Hokage know. Old Man had been pretty cool with him so far, and now he was going to be in on the biggest prank Naruto had ever pulled.
* break *
"I see, a 'kekkei genkai'?" asked the Hokage, looking over the hand-weight he'd handed Naruto to prove this claim of his strength increasing. That Naruto had crushed the metal weight in his hands rather than just lift it had been duly noted. "Interesting."
"Apparently," said Naruto. "I'm gonna keep it secret for now though."
"Why? I'd have thought you'd immediately brag about it," said the Hokage.
"Yeah, well, think about how it'll look when the 'dead last' turns out to be able to pull something like THIS out," said Naruto.
"Hmmm, yes I see," said the Hokage with a nod. As a prank, it would be amusing. The question was whether Naruto could restrain himself enough to manage it. "Yes, I can specify that area as your property - so long as it is unchanged on the surface. Underground chambers - I'd want to take a look at it myself but I don't see any particular problem."
"Okay," said Naruto.
"I'm also going to summon a seal expert to look over the Kyuubi's prison, just in case there were any problems in that regard," said the Hokage thoughtfully.
"Okay," said Naruto, frowning thoughtfully. "One other thing, Jii-san. I just found out about some girl who might like me."
"If you're talking about Sakura Haruno, I don't think you're correct," said the Hokage.
Naruto shook his head once. "No. What can you tell me about the Hyuga clan?"
* break *
"Naruto's dead?" asked Sasuke. "On a D-Rank mission? To collect golf balls?"
"He fell in a hole," said Kakashi. "A really deep one."
Sasuke considered the klutz who got dragged around by a large dog while on a dog-walking mission, who got clawed and bitten by Tora on a cat-finding mission, who tripped over a can of paint on a fence-painting mission, fell in the river on a riverbank cleaning mission, slipped in dog crap on a kennel-cleaning mission. Yeah, it was believable. "In a way, I envy him. He doesn't have to go on more of these lame missions. What's tomorrow going to involve? Potato-peeling?"
Kakashi cocked his head at Sasuke. "No remorse for a fallen comrade?"
"My life has been filled to overflowing with the deaths of people I once knew," said Sasuke. "He is just one more."
"So, will we be getting a replacement for Naruto?" asked Sakura, deciding to move forward rather than let the guilt about wishing for Naruto's death overwhelm her.
"I don't know," admitted Kakashi. "Team 7 might be disbanded. Or we might get a replacement. Or we might just be stuck with D-Rank missions until we can get a third genin. That decision will be up to the Hokage after I make a report."
* break *
The ANBU spread out a bit after the dash down the long and nearly perfectly straight shaft. One commented that it looked to be for the purpose of allowing air into the cavern below, meaning they had come in through a ventilation duct.
One of the ANBU, Bat, had an echolocation jutsu similar to Iruka Umino's method. Bat relayed to the Hokage that the shaft was itself two miles long and opened out into a cavern that was well over five miles across, which was beyond the extent of her abilities without moving about inside it. There was also some odd time/space effect in place that confused things.
There was some odd engravings on the walls of the cavern, writing in a language that none of them were familiar with. There were also carvings in the stone of the floor, though these more looked like doodles drawn in moments of boredom.
It would take some time for specialists to go over the whole thing, but now he had to discuss things with Naruto who was still Naruto despite being a dragon.
This could prove to be VERY interesting and perhaps he could go back into retirement a couple of years earlier than he'd planned after things had settled down.
* break *
Toltiir smirked. One of the reasons he liked the cat-form was that cats had a natural smirk they were pretty good at. He clicked a display to bring up stats.
In human form:
Ninjutsu:2, Taijutsu:1.5, Genjutsu1, Intelligence:5, Strength:10, Speed:2, Stamina:9, Hand Seals:1.
Of course, with the size and mass of his dragon form - his stamina and strength in that form would be even greater.
That the human scale only went up to 5 wasn't a consideration. Naruto wasn't human anymore, just taking that shape. He wasn't able to lift the Hokage Monument, but he'd be able to lift buildings if he could get leverage and the building didn't collapse around him.
Toltiir leaned forward eagerly as Naruto walked back to his team.
* break *
Naruto was feeling a bit "up" at the moment.
He'd met a particularly large and powerful dragon. Which, to his mind, qualified as cool. Particularly when meeting such dragon didn't involve meeting a quick death.
Two, he'd learned that someone LIKED him. Someone wanted to be his friend. Okay, she was a weird girl with weird eyes. That wasn't so bad, was it?
Three, he'd just taken the Hokage to the cavern and switched to his new real form. That of a dragon. A fifty-five foot long, ninety ton, winged and fanged and clawed, hyper-flame breathing, armored engine of destruction and sheer awesomeness.
Naruto liked being awesome. He thought it looked DAMN good on him.
The Third Hokage had looked him over, patted Naruto on the foreclaw, and said that maybe he ought to hold that back for times when he really needed it. The Hokage had further said that he'd simply put out the information that a genin now had a summons for a big dragon but would seal the details until an appropriate time. That way if Naruto DID transform, a full mobilization of forces attacking said dragon might be avoided. Naruto agreed with that, as having lots of ninja attacking him would be a pain in one manner or another.
He spotted the team and tried to wipe the broad smile off his face, only succeeding in shrinking it down to a smirk.
"Hey guys," said Naruto.
Shock and surprise greeted him, along with a momentary silence before Sakura ran forward with one fist chambered.
"Naruto!" growled Sakura as she swung, "How could you ma-"
Sakura came to a wide tearful-eyed halt, her fist still resting along Naruto's jawline. "-make us worry like that," squeaked Sakura.
"Uhm, I had to talk to the Hokage," said Naruto. "My bloodline activated."
Sakura whimpered as she clutched her arm.
Kakashi quickly stepped next to the girl and brought the offending limb where he could look at it. When he touched her hand, there was a muffled scream from the girl in question. "Broken. Come on, let's get you to the infirmary. Just great, more paperwork."
"YOU have a bloodline?" asked Sasuke of Naruto, disbelief evident.
"Yeah, that's what they tell me," said Naruto, a little concerned for Sakura at this point. "I'm stronger and a lot harder to hurt."
Sakura said something involving that she'd noticed and that Naruto should have given some warning. Interspersed with a few obscenities.
Sasuke raised an eyebrow, making a mental note of certain phrases. Depths to Sakura he hadn't known about. She reminded him briefly of his mother. Who had been known to turn the air blue on a few occasions.
"Stronger?" asked Kakashi.
Naruto used one finger, slapping it down on the rim of a trashcan. Leaving behind a noticeable dent in the metal.
"Infirmary first," said Kakashi. "Then we'll test out Naruto's theory about a bloodline."
* break *
Kakashi Hatake often played the fool. He wasn't. When Naruto came back, he'd noticed several things "off" about his genin.
Naruto often covered deep insecurities with bravado, his loneliness with loud, his emotional fragility with a mask of stupid enthusiasm. He might not have worked with Naruto for long, but he'd noted that much. Though there were times when Naruto would be surprisingly insightful, Kakashi was used to seeing the "dead last" of the Academy being a clown and buffoon who'd try to rival with Sasuke.
His stance and manner were completely off from earlier that day. Admittedly, if he HAD gotten a bloodline ability - that might have boosted his real self-image and confidence to change that facade into reality.
He'd have to check with the Hokage as Naruto had mentioned discussing it with the old man. Now though, he'd have to see what he could see.
When Sasuke and Naruto were distracted as they started to spar, Kakashi adjusted his headband and studied Naruto with his Sharingan for a few seconds.
If it had been a simple henge or illusion, Kakashi knew he would have seen it immediately using the Sharingan. No such thing, but something was even more off about Naruto.
Sasuke started out openly scornful of sparring with Naruto. That changed quickly as Naruto blocked Sasuke's most powerful kick. Judging from Sasuke's reaction, it had been like hitting a reinforced wall.
Sasuke then used a Replacement jutsu to avoid being hit by Naruto's followup punch. The log... well, it didn't look very log-like after Naruto connected with it. More like a flying cloud of splinters and otherwise unconnected chunks of wood.
"Naruto!" chided Kakashi. "This is a friendly spar."
"Sorry, Kakashi-sensei," responded Naruto as he dodged Sasuke's attack. "I just got the strength and stuff, guess I don't control it all that well."
"I see," said Kakashi. Judging from Sasuke's expression, he understood that as well and had just shifted to a 'dodge like your life depended on it' strategy. "Okay, stop. I'll have to think about this."
Sasuke was breathing hard. Naruto was quite obviously not.
"Uhm, Kakashi-sensei," began Naruto, looking very uncertain. "You've... I mean... I need some advice."
"Oh?" asked Kakashi. Naruto was quite nervous about this? "I'm not going to teach any new jutsu until you master the ones you already have."
"Errr, ehm, that's not it," said Naruto nervously. "It's kinda not related to that so much. But you are my sensei and all."
Sasuke glanced at Naruto, also not used to seeing Naruto acting bashful.
"I just heard that some girl might... actually kind of... like me," began Naruto.
Kakashi twitched, his visible eye widening.
Sasuke snorted. A girl might like NARUTO? World was coming to an end, sign of the Apocolypse.
"I really don't think Sakura likes you," said Kakashi.
"At all," added Sasuke.
"More like tolerate you with a side order of contempt," added Kakashi.
"He's being generous," said Sasuke.
"Not her," growled Naruto at this tag-team approach. "I was asking Kakashi-sensei, teme."
"So this hypothetical girl, is she bigger than a breadbox?" asked Kakashi.
"Yeah, she's just under my height I guess," said Naruto, wondering what a breadbox was and how that entered into any sort of consideration on the problem.
"So you're not dating your Centerfold Jutsu?" asked Sasuke.
"NO!" responded Naruto, glaring at Sasuke. Shouldn't he be going off and brooding?
"So what's the problem?" asked Kakashi.
Naruto left off glaring at Sasuke as something he could do later. "I kinda know I just annoy Sakura, so I want to say hello and not screw up. How do I let her know she can talk to me, cause she's always going off and hiding and stuff."
"You're serious?" asked Kakashi. Twelve years old and already asking for dating advice. "She's shy?"
"Uh yeah, I guess so," said Naruto.
"I wish some of those fangirls were shy," mumbled Sasuke, not appreciating the way some of them launched themselves at him.
"So whatta I do?" asked Naruto.
"Hmmmm," hmmmed Kakashi. "I wonder."
"You don't know either, do you?" asked Naruto after a minute had passed.
"No, not so much," said Kakashi, disappearing in a puff of smoke.
"Great," said Naruto. "See you tomorrow, teme."
"Where are you going?" asked Sasuke.
"Going to try and say hello without screwing things up," said Naruto by reply.
Sasuke waited until Naruto had walked out of sight before smirking and starting forward himself. Someone else had girl problems. This might be amusing.
* break *
Toltiir sat back, indulged in a little mango jello, and watched the show. Comedy elements were inserted, but he'd made Naruto considerably more badass. Badass wasn't funny in itself per se, but increased Naruto's chances of survival in an admittedly hostile environment. Toltiir also understood, and had manipulated things, so that the positions of 'Comic Relief Sidekick' and 'Comic Relief Rival' had plenty of potential applicants.
First though, one had to demonstrate something of the changes in the main character that would then cause potential applicants for those two positions to occur.
Oh, and that group there. They would do nicely for additional complications in Naruto's life.
This group here though. They'd traced some of the tremors that had been routed away from Konoha back to Konoha and decided to take advantage of a break in the defenses caused by a minor cascade of rocks. Not much of a threat as things went, as they were all of chunin level except for some odd items and talents.
* break *
Kurenai Yuhi was a jonin and quite experienced, therefore she knew there was a problem a few moments before the attack came. She immediately began a genjutsu, fading from view.
Unfortunately, the intruders weren't slouches either.
"Psychic Jar," called out an attacker as he leapt into the training ground, pointing a jar in the direction where the scarlet-eyed jonin had just vanished from. A mist erupted from the again-visible Kurenai and began streaming into the jar.
"Kurenai-sensei!" yelped Kiba, rushing forward to engage the enemy.
"Cloudkill," said another attacker, sending a cloud of violet smoke forth from his hands to target the cloud of insects and two of the genin. It was a Suna technique, but being able to copy other ninja techniques and redirect blame were but two more tools in an infiltration specialist's arsenal.
"I- I won't let you," began Hinata.
A third attacker appeared behind her and simply slapped a helmet down on top of her head.
The mists abated after a moment, and the first attacker sealed the jar he held as Kurenai's body toppled to the ground.
"I guess the Leaf is as weak as we'd heard after all," said the first attacker, kicking the puppy-dog to the side after the dog managed to go under the gas cloud.
"Don't bother fighting it," said the third attacker to Hinata. "The helmet there is a chakra-disruptor. It locks your Byakugan and drains off chakra. You can't speak, you can barely move, and whoa."
The first smiled at the girl's attempts to fight back as she'd nearly managed to connect. "That she can still try to fight says you're not as pathetic as we heard. Jimo - just go ahead and tie her up. We'll haul her back."
"Why not just pluck her eyes out?" asked Jimo, the third assailant.
"We can do that later, but she's worth more as breeding material," said the first assaulter. "We... Where did that hot wind smelling of metal come from?"
"Did it just get darker?" asked the second assailant.
"Please tell me that's a genjutsu," said Jimo, glancing up to see what was causing that shadow and not liking what he was seeing.
The first assailant opened the jar again, letting the mists within out as he targetted the new attacker. He could only use this against one target at a time, which was a major disadvantage of using it. "Psychic Jar!"
(FWOOM!) The sudden burst of purple-red flames lit up a roughly five-foot wide circle where the first assailant stood holding his jar. After the stream of fire cut off there was only ash and a few bits of smouldering bone left.
"Oh shi-" began the second assailant before a large paw with five claws slammed down on him while he was still going through hand seals.
Jimo decided another strategy was better. He tossed a kunai with an explosive note at the struggling jonin, then turned and ran.
Kurenai Yuhi saw most of it. The 'Magic Jar' jutsu sucked her spirit out of her body and into a prepared jar. She saw the initial attack, the siphoning, the members of her team going down. Then she was in the jar, then she could see again once released. Things turned fuzzy for a few moments when mind and body reconnected.
So she saw the kunai heading her way, the sizzling of the tag on it as it made the trip.
She saw the dragon slap it down, cover it with a paw, and the brief flash of an explosion underneath that paw. Which apparently just stung a little from the reaction.
The dragon sniffed at her, turned its attention to the direction the foreign-nin had gone, and readied itself for running. No, not running. The wings half-furled out and tensed.
"Wait," croaked Kurenai. To her surprise, the dragon did, turning startlingly blue eyes to regard her. "I'm coming with you."
The dragon regarded her for a moment, then nodded and lowered his neck.
The creature was easily ten times her length, covered in scales that more resembled plates of some dark-metal armor. She managed to get on with the wall-climbing jutsu, then tapped once with her foot to indicate that she was settled in place about as well as she could.
With a snort, the dragon then lifted up into the air and started moving forward.
Kurenai considered the actions of the dragon. The dragon had followed her orders, and had killed two of the three apparently jonin-level assailants.
Unfortunately, the last remaining nin seemed to have fled. After several minutes of search, Kurenai decided something else.
Kurenai Yuhi was quite clever: able to analyze situations, keep track of details, and adapt on the fly to changing situations. Such were the traits that made for a genjutsu specialist.
As she directed the dragon, it made an occasional noise that to her ear sounded like a query.
"Because if you perform a spiral search pattern instead of just heading in a single direction, you're more likely to find a target that has switched direction."
So, when confronted with such, she answered as she would to one of her genin. Calmly explaining the reasoning behind the order if there was time.
"No, we might as well go back. We need to notify the Hokage and check my genin for residual effects of the attack. Also to make sure he didn't double back."
The dragon snorted.
"Yes, well, not all enemy jonin are inclined to be sensible."
The dragon made that interrogative noise again.
"No, I don't speak Dragon, but I'm usually pretty good at guessing. By the way, that attack you used against the first jonin. In the future, you might avoid completely incinerating targets as it is difficult to get information from ash floating on the wind."
The dragon snorted again.
"I understand. Which one of my genin were you protecting?"
The dragon made an odd noise that ended with an interrogative sound.
"Like I said, I'm good with puzzles."
The dragon sighed, and then grunted.
"Ah," said Kurenai. "I should have guessed. She's essentially a princess, or at least a highly placed lady of a noble house."
The dragon made an odd noise.
"Well, yes, it IS traditional for dragons to go stealing away princesses."
The dragon craned his head around to look back at where Kurenai was straddling his neck near the shoulders.
"I'm not approving, I simply stated I understood," said Kurenai. "Though if the dragon wants to save the princess, I think I've heard a few tales like that as well."
The dragon snorted again, this time sounding as if he agreed.
"What's next? An evil prince trying to steal the girl from the dragon?" asked Kurenai.
The dragon snorted and circled the clearing.
"ANBU? And the Hokage?" asked Kurenai as she got a good look. She also noted that the dragon didn't seem intimidated and the Hokage was standing in the middle of the clearing and seemed perfectly fine with the approach of ninety+ tons of dragon.
The dragon's landing was clumsy, but managed to avoid taking out more than a few trees at the far end of the clearing from the gathering.
Kurenai wasted no time in appearing at the Hokage's side, ready to tell the Hokage this wasn't an enemy. Even though she suspected he already knew that.
"Hokage-sama, this dragon -" began Kurenai.
The Hokage held up a hand and when he spoke there was a voice amplification jutsu that carried to the various ANBU, the three genin being helped to their feet, and probably the next two training areas. "Summoning contracts are normally passed from teacher to student and are jealously guarded. Some though are passed along a family line. Naruto Uzumaki has just come into part of his inheritance."
The dragon looked at the Hokage for a few moments, then nodded, took wing again and flew off.
"One of the nin escaped," said Kurenai.
"I already have teams looking," said the Hokage, making a gesture. The various ANBU moved out.
"That... wasn't a summons, was it?" asked Kurenai in a much quieter voice.
"Oh? What else could it be?" asked the Hokage.
"I don't know for certain," said Kurenai Yuhi.
"Hmm, well, let me know if you figure out that puzzle," said the obviously amused old man.
"Does the dragon pose any danger to my genin or the village?" asked Kurenai directly.
"Not deliberately, I'd say," said the Hokage, considering the jonin out of the corner of his eye. "He can be a little clumsy though."
"The dragon admitted he was there to save Hinata," stated Kurenai.
"He said that?" asked the Hokage.
"He nodded in response to the question," replied Kurenai. "So, if the dragon IS a summons, the dragon was directed to save Hinata by that summoner."
"Logical," admitted the Hokage.
"Someone concerned about Hinata's safety," mused Kurenai. "Well, that lets her immediate family out. You said 'Naruto Uzumaki'?"
"True," agreed the Hokage. "Now, Yuhi. As much as I enjoy the paperwork that goes with the title of Hokage - I have to get back to my duties."
Kurenai watched the Hokage go, then turned to regard the boy in orange clothes who'd come out of the woods to speak with Hinata. That was Naruto Uzumaki, wasn't it? The carrier of the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox. Hmmm. The dragon-summoner, but if it was an inheritance she should have heard about it historically.
* break *
The next day:
"-and so you see, Naruto will need a tutor and I shall eventually be engaged to him," said the woman with the lightly pointed ears. "Though, admittedly, he won't be old enough for me until he's about five or six hundred years old."
"I see," said the Hokage. "What is your dragon-form like?"
"Big," said Keritrasza. "There was a translation function involved as I understand it. When I take my full-size dragon-form, I'm well over a kilometer in length. Shapechanging into a human form is much easier on the surroundings."
"Also less likely to promote panic among the civilian populace," noted the Hokage.
"That too," agreed Keri.
The Hokage looked back and forth amongst the squad of ANBU he'd hand picked for this. They were a small group, of whose loyalty he could be sure of. Added to this select group for sharing this secret were two others. As with the ANBU, their loyalty was such it was unquestionable. Unlike with ANBU, they being brought in on this secret was because the Hokage believed in back-up plans and having someone outside his normal chain-of-command and channels would be useful in a pinch.
Inoichi Yamanaka met the Hokage's eyes and gave a slight nod. With a connection, even tenuous as this was, he could tell if someone was speaking falsehoods.
Ibiki Morino, head of Torture and Interrogation, also inclined his head slightly.
"If you would transform briefly," said the Hokage. "Here you are outside the village but nearby. We'll simply explain the dragon appearance as a boss summons, Naruto's form as a secondary summons. That way any time you do show up -"
"It'll be seen as remarkable but give them an explanation they can accept within their current worldview," noted Keritrasza. "Something that can be explained is always less frightening than the unexplained. Very well then. For references. I can adjust the form's size through my shapechanging ability, but this is my natural form within your world."
One moment the woman was there, then a blur that expanded and kept expanding. When she was done there was a dragon.
"She's bigger than the Nine-tails," noted Cat.
"More massive, better armored," noted Ibiki. His eyes looked for any weaknesses and gradually picked out the least armored and therefore most vulnerable places. Getting to them in a fight might be difficult though.
The dragon's eyes met his, and he saw that yes - if it came to it this would be a most formidable opponent. She would know those weaknesses and cover them.
"What did you say her cover identity would be?" asked Wolf.
"She's indicated a desire for her cover identity to be that of a shrine priestess," said the Hokage as the dragon lifted onto her hind legs and spread wings - looking even more impressive.
Then she sent a beam of violet energy heavenwards and impressive ceased to be an adequate term.
"She's going to help defend the village if we're ever attacked, right?" said Inoichi.
The dragonform shifted back to the human woman from earlier. Who then settled her cloak around her shoulders and otherwise looked unassuming.
"That's right," said the Hokage. "Part of the agreement was for assistance in such disasters - so long as Naruto is part of the village and treated as such by those in authority."
"From what I've seen you are as fair as circumstances allow you," said Keri.
"You said Naruto will be engaged to you in several hundred years," said Inoichi. "Does that mean he will be alive centuries from now?"
"Yes, dragons such as we can live for millenia," answered the dragon. "And if you are thinking about your daughter, that would be no problem at all."
"Eh?" asked Inoichi. "Well, actually I hadn't. It wouldn't work anyway as she's the heir of my clan. Necessary for children to eventually inherit the mantle and such."
"Again, it would be no problem at all," the dragon assured him. "It might actually be fun to watch over a clan or two for a few millenia."
Inoichi stared, his mind trying to grasp the implications of what was being said.
"So, Naruto Uzumaki can still have human children?" asked Ibiki, having grasped certain concepts and coming to consider them in a thoughtful manner.
"Oh yes," said Keri, acknowledging the scarred man with an inclination of her head. "That would actually start a bloodline with enhanced abilities. I don't understand the equations completely myself, but it looks as if the mother's abilities would be enhanced with a minor longevity trait and exceptional physical resilience thrown in. There's a way to share some small bit of draconic power with a mate, enhancing their powers, though it needs to be renewed every so often. Necessary considering the fragility of humans and such."
Everyone present was a ninja. Everyone present grasped the potential implications of that.
* break *
It was the sort of Shinto-esque shrine one might expect in a backwoods part of Japan. That it had appeared overnight but looked as if it had been there for a few decades was just one of the odd things about it.
Then there was the tall redhaired woman who was sweeping the front steps. Since the days of Kushina Uzumaki there had been nobody within Konohagakure that had possessed hair of close to that shade. Naturally, most of those familiar with the Red Hot Habanero decided that they would be VERY polite to someone who might share that temper.
Wearing the white and red traditional shrine priestess clothing, her hair tied back with a simple white ribbon, the young woman tended her shrine simply.
The Hokage and a few ANBU came by at one point to speak with the woman, but otherwise her first day was quiet.
The same could not be said for everywhere else in Konoha unfortunately.
Kurenai had gone back over the conversation with the Hokage and realized that the Hokage had implied that Naruto was the one with the dragon contract, but she also noted that he never outright stated that. She had put the statement together but it could mean something else entirely.
She was a jonin. Jonin were supposed to be able to pick up on things like that.
She had also observed that Naruto had spoken to Hinata, who had nodded and blushed and twiddled her fingers a lot. That had gone on until Kiba had gotten fed up with the situation and begun the self-appointed task of driving off the intruder.
Kurenai Yuhi had noted that, and had noted one other interesting little thing. Akamaru had been VERY reluctant to approach Naruto. What that meant - she was still puzzling out. It could be as simple as Naruto having had the scent of the dragon still on him from having summoned him.
As today's D-Rank mission involved manning one of Konoha's gates and checking for contraband, she had lots of time to consider the various puzzles presented her on the previous day.
"So," said Kurenai when Kiba was talking to Shino across the street and there was a break in foot traffic, "you like this Uzumaki boy?"
Hinata eeped, turned red, and began playing with her fingers again as she stammered some indistinct reply.
Kurenai raised one eyebrow slightly, interpreting that as a 'yes' with the qualifier that she hadn't actually told the boy in question.
As the boy had approached Hinata yesterday, he either suspected or had just learned of it. It was all there for someone who knew how to look at body language.
* break *
"Juggle eggs?" asked Naruto, looking completely baffled.
"That's right," said Kakashi Hatake. "You mentioned that your bloodline just activated and you were obviously having trouble controlling your strength yesterday. So now you learn to control that strength."
"Oh, I get it," said Sakura. "He has to be able to control his strength and be precise, or he'll just break the eggs."
"Eggsactly," said Kakashi.
"Or the yolk would be on me?" asked Naruto.
"You'd better get cracking," advised Kakashi, holding up the carton of eggs.
Sasuke winced. Puns, why did it have to be puns?
"Oh, so what will we be doing?" asked Sakura, indicating Sasuke.
"Stamina training," said Kakashi, producing two large backpacks. "After all, if Naruto spars with either of you now - you might die. Best to work on your stamina and avoidance skills."
"UGH!" said Sakura, barely managing to lift the heavy backpack and begin shrugging it into place. "What's in this? It weighs a ton!"
"Only about 50kg actually," said Kakashi cheerfully. "Now is when the bees should show up."
"Bees?" asked Sakura, looking around. Then one landed on her arm.
Sasuke looked to the side, turned pale, and began running with the backpack firmly in place.
"Why, what did you-" Sakura looked, paled, and began running.
The swarm of bees darted after the two genin.
"I'll have to thank Anko for this idea," mused Kakashi as the two other genin sped off into the distance.
the rewrite is to change a few things, even out the flow a bit, and try to correct a few errors that crept in.