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Chapter 2: Let there be Light...
The darkness of night-time settled over the village of Konoha like a gentle shroud. Only random inhabitants going about their business broke the stillness. In the heart of the village sat a towering red structure with a large symbol on the face. Unlike the rest of the village, not all was well inside this building...
A dark clad man wearing a green vest strode along an empty hallway. Periodically, he would stop and peer into various rooms with a flashlight. As he walked his rounds, a sudden, slight noise made him spin around and scan the hall behind him. After a few moments, he shrugged and continued on. Moments after the man left, a small shadow detached itself from the ceiling and dropped silently to the ground, revealing itself as a young, twelve-year-old boy dressed in a bright orange jumpsuit.
"Heh. They never look up. Morons."
Naruto crept soundlessly along the halls toward his target, skillfully avoiding the patrols as he went. People always underestimated his skills. Normally, he would take offense to this and probably prank the offender in some way. This time, however, he was milking it for all it's worth. For as long as he could remember, no one had ever treated him fairly. The only exceptions were Hokage-jiji, Neko-nee-san, the father-daughter duo from the ramen shop, and that one shy girl from his class. The one with the lavender eyes, what was her name? Hina-something? Everyone else in this stupid village treated him like he was less than dirt. The cold stares, the hateful remarks, all the time and never-ending. His birthdays were even worse. If he couldn't run and hide, gangs of drunk villagers would hunt him down and beat him till they got bored or passed out. it got REALLY bad if any ninja decided to join in. He hated them all.
After a while, he reached his destination, a room hidden away in the maze-like halls of the Hokage tower. Pulling a key from his pocket, he muttered under his breath. "...Nice of Mizuki-sensei to give me these keys. Probably woulda gotten caught trying to pick this thing."
Inserting the key and turning it with a slight click, Naruto quietly opened the door and stepped inside. The room itself was fairly nondescript, shelves full of boxes dominated the center of the room while filing cabinets lined the walls. While these things may have held some interest to another person, Naruto's focus was on one thing alone: the single door in the back of the room. Weaving his way through the slightly messy piles of boxes, he reached the back door. Unlike the first door, this one was metal with a combination lock supplementing the key lock. Referencing a crumpled note in his pocket, he painstakingly spun the dial in a seemingly random pattern until he heard a soft click. Grinning, he withdrew a second, more elaborate, key from his pocket and pushed it into the keyhole, stopping halfway to twist it ninety-degrees clockwise, then pushing in the rest of the way and turning it counter-clockwise a full three-sixty degrees. A dull thunk sounded his reward and he eased the heavy door open. Inside lay a small room not much bigger than a walk-in closet. On all three walls were shelves full of scrolls, some of them covered in dust like they hadn't been moved in years.
Naruto ignored all of these and walked to the back of the room. There, sitting alone on a heavy shelf, was a scroll much larger than the others. Older looking too. This was Naruto's target. The Sacred Scroll of Forbidden Jutsu. With a grunt, he carefully lifted the priceless object off it's stand and strapped it to his back. Turning around, he smacked into a solid object.
"Naruto? What are you doing here?" Naruto looked up to see an old man in long robes. This was the Third Hokage, a man he thought of as a grandfather figure.
"...um...heheh...OIROKE NO JUTSU!" With a poof of smoke, Naruto transformed into a busty pigtailed blond who giggled and posed as wisps of smoke barely covered her privates. The old man flew back in a spray of blood and collapsed on the floor. "...oops...sorry, jiji."
After evading any further patrols and sneaking into the forest, Naruto reached a hidden clearing away from the training grounds and sat on the ground. Catching his breath, he pulled the scroll from his back. "Well, since I'm early, might as well get some training done!" He opened the scroll and eagerly studied the contents. "Aww man! A clone jutsu? Why does it have to be my worst...ooh, solid clones? This looks pretty cool. I wonder what the other ones are..."
For the next two hours, Naruto diligently studied and practiced what he learned. Eventually, he was sitting against a tree, recovering his strength when some one appeared.
"NARUTO! What the hell were you thinking!"
Naruto blinked. "What are you talking about, Iruka-sensei? I finished the test!"
"Yea! I completed the secret make-up exam! I got the scroll and learned a jutsu and everything! Now you have to make me a genin!"
Iruka stared at him in confusion. "...What are you talking about? There is no..."
His sentence was abruptly cut off when a hail of kunai showered the clearing. Bursting into motion, he managed to toss Naruto out of harms way, but was caught by three kunai stabbing into him. Groaning in pain, he turned and saw his colleague, Mizuki, standing in a nearby tree. In an instant, he realized that Mizuki was most likely a traitor.
"Che, that's too bad. I missed. Naruto! You passed the test! Give me the scroll!"
"No Naruto!" Iruka coughed in pain, "Don't give it to him! That scroll is full of forbidden knowledge! Guard it with your life and run-gah!"
Mizuki kicked him in the stomach. "Shut up, Iruka-teme." He turned to Naruto, who looked like he was a hairs-width from bolting. "...Naruto, did you know there's a law about you?"
"...W-what? About me?"
Mizuki grinned. "Yes, a special law. About something that you're not supposed to know. Something nobody is supposed to ever tell you..." he stepped closer, "Do you know what that is?"
Naruto clutched the scroll tighter, "N-n-no. W-what are you talking about?"
He took another step. "The truth about what happened twelve years ago, when the nine-tailed demon fox attacked Konoha. You remember the history? About how the Yondaime killed the demon?" another step, "That was a lie. He never killed it. He sealed it into the body of a baby that was born that day. Do you know who that baby was?" Naruto shook his head and he drew one of the fuma-shurikens from his back.
"It was you! He sealed the demon into your body! YOU ARE THE NINE-TAILED DEMON FOX!" With a vicious heave, he threw the lethal weapon at the trembling boy...only for it to be intercepted by Iruka. Naruto fell back with Iruka crouched over him, the giant shuriken lodged in his back. "S-s-sensei?...w-why?"
Iruka gazed at the boy on the ground. "...I hated you...for a long time...I blamed you for my parents death...but when you became my student...I saw you differently...no demon would have lived like you did...you always tried your best and never gave up on anything...no matter how bad it got for you...every time I looked at you, I saw myself...that's why, I don't believe you're the fox...you're Uzumaki Naruto...my student...and I'm proud...of you..." With a gasp, Iruka collapsed.
Mizuki sneered. "Well isn't this touching? I'm getting all choked up over here." He shook his head, "Loser."
Naruto's head snapped up, "Shut up, you bastard!" His eyes blazed with rage while tears streaked his cheeks. "He's not a loser! Iruka-sensei is the greatest teacher ever! And I'm gonna kick your ass for hurting him!"
"Heh. Bring it, you dead-last demon."
Naruto snarled and formed an odd hand sign, "KAGE BUNSHIN NO JUTSU!"
A huge explosion of smoke filled the clearing and as it cleared away, dozens of orange-clad blonds surrounded Mizuki and for a brief moment, he felt sheer terror. The clones charged with a roar and attacked him en-mass. Using all of his skill, the traitor was able to take out many of the clones and avoid damage. A shout from near the back changed the game. "SHURIKEN KAGE BUNSHIN NO JUTSU!"
A sudden hail of razor sharp shuriken forced Mizuki to dodge wildly. Growling as several of them scored non-lethal hits, he pulled the second fuma-shuriken from his back and slashed the clones around him, gaining a small amount of breathing room. Suddenly, several of the clones jumped on him and grabbed on tightly. Confused, his eyes widened as they began to glow brightly.
A massive explosion rocked the forest and Naruto looked on, panting in exhaustion. Those techniques took a lot of chakra, more than he had ever used before. He was about to check on Iruka-sensei when a dark, evil feeling aura emerged. Naruto stared in shock as a ragged looking Mizuki appeared from the smoke. The traitors eyes blazed in hatred as jagged black tattoo marks formed on his skin. When he spoke, his voice sound warped and distorted. "YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT DEMON! I'M GOING TO KILL YOU! TASTE THE POWER GIVEN TO ME BY OROCHIMARU-SAMA!"
In a flash, Mizuki attacked him and started beating him viciously. Naruto had no chance to mount any form of defense. He hit the ground hard and the traitor stalked toward him. "I'M GONNA TEAR YOU APART, PIECE BY PIECE."
Naruto lay helpless as Mizuki approached him. Time seemed to slow down and he watched as the traitors hand grew nearer every second. Is this it? he thought, Am I going to die here? A sudden surge ran through him and his will hardened. No! I'm not dying here! I'm gonna live and prove Iruka-sensei right! I'll beat this bastard and protect him and this stupid village! I refuse to die here! Just as Mizuki was about to grab Naruto, a burning aura exploded from the boys body. He backed up in shock as the blond stood up slowly, an unnatural purple flame surrounding him.
Naruto could feel his body changing as fire burned through him and his blood sang in his ears. His hair streaked through with red, his pupils morphed into slits, his ears became pointed, and his canines grew into small fangs. Clawed hands clenched and unclenched as a red haze settled over his sight. He didn't see the trees surrounding them, or even Iruka on the ground nearby. All he could see was his enemy. Mizuki.
With an in-human howl, Naruto charged Mizuki, who snarled and responded in kind. Earth and trees were torn up in the struggle as the crash of their blows echoed throughout the forest. From the ground, a wounded Iruka watched the battle through pain-hazed eyes. By kami...Naruto...what have you become? As a sensor-type ninja, he could feel the energy flaring from the warring giants. The traitorous bastard felt oily and dirty. Evil, really. Naruto on the other hand...
Iruka watched his student as the young boy traded blows with Mizuki and fought with strength and power he had never seen from him before. Naruto felt...strange. There was an odd duality to him. An energy that terrified and strengthened him at the same time. It felt almost like...deep inside that young boy, no...young man, there was a hidden power that burned with ferocious intensity, threatening to consume everything in it's path. And yet, that same force filled Iruka's blood with a raging fire of inspiration, a tremendous power singing inside his veins.
Naruto...you will become great. He thought, An unstoppable force in this world that no one will ever hold back. I just hope I live to see that day...
In the fight between Naruto and Mizuki, the two of them faced each other in a standoff, tattered cloths hanging from bloody frames. A small twitch signaled the next round and they charged again. Just as they reached their opponents, Mizuki flinched, pain racing through him. He had overextended himself. The traitor never got the chance to retreat, Naruto was on him in a flash. Dropping inside Mizuki's guard, the boy's teeth sunk into his throat with a sickening crunch. A violent twist of the neck and his throat was ripped open, finishing his struggle for good. The last thing the traitor ever saw, before the world faded to black, was a slitted pair of neon blue eyes shining with triumph.
As Mizuki's body dropped to the ground. Naruto let out a bone-shaking roar, then slumped to his knees. The ethereal flames disappeared as the haze faded from his eyes. His body started trembling as he stared at his still-clawed hands in shock. "S-s-sensei?...w-what did I...w-what just...h-how did..." With a final tremor, Naruto passed out and fell to the ground.
A rustling sound in the trees alerted Iruka to the presence of others. A cat-masked ANBU dropped from the branches and slowly approached. "Iruka?...what just happened?" He could hear the shock clearly in her voice.
"I have no idea, Yūgao. I have absolutely no idea..."
Naruto woke up in a sewer. Ankle-deep water covered the floor and glowing pipes lined the walls and ceiling. Some of them glowed blue, but the others glowed with a ominous purple light. Sitting up, Naruto took stock of the changes to his body. He stared at the small claws and his hands and felt his ears and fangs.
"...just great. Now the stupid villagers have more reasons to hate me. Bastards, I wish they would leave me alone..."
Suddenly, Naruto looked around him. He could swear he heard something in the distance. Almost like...crying?
Standing up, Naruto started walking toward the sound. He wandered through the tunnels for what seemed like hours, trying to find the source of crying, until he stumbled upon a massive chamber. In the middle of the room, there was a giant cage with bars that stretched all the way to the roof. Great, spiked chains covered in symbols threaded through and around the bars, reinforcing the cage. Looking around, Naruto could see that most of those odd purple pipes seemed to lead into the cage. On closer inspection, the chains were rusting and falling apart, and many of the bars were warped or cracked. One of the bars was completely snapped in half, the bottom half bent outward. It sounded to him like the crying was coming from inside. Following a sudden impulse, Naruto stepped up to the bars and ducked through, avoiding the chains. Inside, in the center of the cage, a red-haired woman wearing a light kimono was kneeling on the floor, arms wrapped tightly around herself and her body shaking with heart-wrenching sobs. Naruto slowly walked up to her and gently put a hand on her shoulder.
"Hey, lady, are you ok?"
The woman looked up and for a second, Naruto's heart stopped. She had the exact same blue eyes as himself, eyes filled with pain and sorrow in a mirror of his own heart. Different emotions flickered across her tear-streaked face, from confusion to shock, and she reached a trembling hand to his face.
A moment of hesitation was followed by a tight, desperate hug as the woman cried even harder, her face buried in his chest. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." She kept repeating over and over as tears soaked his shirt. Naruto stood there awkwardly, unsure of what to do.
"Um...where are we? And who are you?"
The woman slowly calmed down and pulled away. "I'm s-sorry." she spoke, rubbing at her bloodshot eyes, "This is a representation of your mind. Have you ever seen the seal on your stomach?" At his nod, she continued. "Well, this cage is the seal."
Naruto's eyes widened. "But wouldn't that mean..."
Her entire posture screamed dejection and resignation. "Yes, Naru-kun. I'm the reason the villagers hate you..." Tears dripped down her cheek, "...I'm the Kyuubi no Kitsune."
Her head whipped sideways as a fist smashed into her cheek. She looked back to see Naruto standing there, hands clenched and his whole body shaking with repressed emotion. "...why? Why me?! Why did the Forth pick me?! Why did you make everyone hate me?! WHY?!" He screamed at her, letting all his anger out. "...why me? What did I do to deserve any of this?" He collapsed on the floor, sobbing.
Soft hands pulled him into a gentle embrace. "Nothing, Naru-kun. You didn't do anything to deserve this." The woman held him close. "You never had a choice. And it's all my fault."
Naruto looked up at her. "...You know, your not the evil, blood-thirsty demon everyone thinks, are you?"
She gave him a small smile. "No, I'm not. I'm not even a demon at all. None of the Bijū are." She sat on the floor, arms around Naruto, "I was, and still am, the guardian spirit of Hi no Kuni, as it's actually my home territory. All of the five shinobi nations and the surrounding lands have their own guardians, those are the Bijū."
Naruto was confused. "But...if you're the guardian...then why did you attack Konoha?"
"That...that's a long story." Sadness filled her eyes. "Where should I start...do you know how Konoha was founded?"
"Um, kinda. The First Hokage and his brother created Konoha with the help of the Uchiha, along with the other clans."
"That is close to the truth. The First and Second Hokage were part of the Senju clan. Near the end of the clan wars, the Senju formed an alliance with four Great Clans. Those were the Aburame, Akimichi, Hyuuga, and Uzumaki."
"Uzumaki?! You mean that my family was one of the Great Clans?!" Naruto blurted out, eyes wide. The kyuubi nodded with tears in her eyes. "Yes, Naru-kun, your family was one of the greatest clans ever to exist."
She continued. "Well, the Aburame had loose ties to the Inuzuka, so they came with them. And the Akimichi had treaties with the Nara and Yamanaka clans and brought them along as well. The Hyuuga were friends with the Sarutobi, who were allied to the Kurama, so naturally they followed their allies. The Uzumaki, on the other hand, were already allied to the Senju because one of the Uzumaki clan-head's daughters, Mito, was married to Hashirama, who would become the First Hokage." She paused and gathered her thoughts.
"What most people don't know is that the alliance very nearly fell apart before the village was even started. Because the lands around this area were mostly barren, there wasn't enough resources to sustain everyone. A some people wanted to leave to find better lands, but others said that they would run out before they found anything. Nobody could agree, and they almost started fighting because of it."
"What happened then? How did they stay together?"
"Hashirama asked his wife Mito for advice and she summoned me."
Naruto's jaw dropped. "You?! How did she summon you? Or why?"
The kyuubi smiled. "The Uzumaki clan has always had a strong connection with me. Whenever they really needed help, they could call on me."
"Like a summon contract?"
"Sort of, but not really. I've always been able to sense them through our connection. Whenever they needed me, I came." Naruto sat beside her and she continued. "Mito summoned me and asked for my help. I offered Hashirama help in forming a place for all the clans to stay, as well as permission to settle on my territory. You see, underneath this village, there are ruins of a great city that existed a long time ago. That city was were I had lived back when I was human. So most of the lands that make up Hi no Kuni were claimed by me."
"Wait..." Naruto questioned, "...You were human? How is that possible? What was it like then? Who were you? How did you live so long? What's your name?"
She hesitated, then answered. "My name...huh. I haven't used that in a long time." She looked Naruto square in the eye, matching blue eyes locked with his own. "My name is Ranma Saotome. But I guess Ranko would be more appropriate now. As for the rest..." She closed her eyes. "Living back then was different than it is now. There was a lot more technology. Buildings were taller, cities were louder. I was nineteen when a huge, world war broke out. And then, something happened to me..."
"What happened?" Naruto asked and Ranko scowled. "That bitch Kami turned me into a nine-tailed kitsune. She never asked, or ever gave me any warning or choice. She just did it and told me to go save the world." She spat out, clenching her teeth.
"Save the world? What do you mean?" Naruto asked, confused.
Ranko looked at him. "Sorry, I should explain. When the war broke out, someone had been studying the legends about mythical beasts, how some of them were so powerful they could wipe out an entire city at once. Naturally, this could be a powerful weapon, so the scientist used his research to create a super weapon: an artificial Bijū. He succeeded in making it, but he couldn't control it, and the other countries tried to stop it. When they failed they launched every single weapon of mass destruction they had at it. I used my new power to put a barrier over this country and watched as the entire planet burned." Tears fell from her eyes. "Billions of people died that day and the Bijū used the power he absorbed from the weapons to reshape the world. After he spent all of his rage and energy, he fell asleep. I thought I was done, but Kami told me that he would awaken in the future and threaten the world again, so she brought back eight other people from my home and turned them into guardians like me. These are known today as the Bijū."
"...wow. That is messed up. Where are the others? The other guardians, I mean."
"I don't know for sure. I think most of them are sealed like me. But I've gone off topic. When I offered to help Hashirama, he told me about a new jutsu he had created: Mokuton Hijutsu: Jukai Kotan. He could only affect a few acres by himself, but if I could help him..."
"You helped create the Konoha forests?"
"Yep. Hashirama was the focus and he crafted the forest, Mito helped create the other terrain throughout the area. I just provided the power boost they needed and helped with a few minor details. Mito herself built the original stone wall around the village, the mountain was my favorite."
Naruto gasped. "You created the Hokage mountain? I go there all the time!"
Ranko grinned at him. "Guess you didn't know that my den is built into the backside of the mountain, huh? It's also right over the spot where my old home as a human was."
Naruto thought hard. "Wait, what about the Uchiha? When did they join the village?"
Ranko sighed. "A couple of years after the clans started building the village, the Uchiha showed up, demanding that Konoha be turned over to them, and the other clans serve them or leave."
"What? That's bull! Why would the clans do that? The Uchiha are jerks!"
"They were huge jerks back then. The Uchiha clan were known to be raiders. Raping, pillaging, stealing whatever they wanted. Treasure, jutsu, people, it didn't matter to them. If they wanted it, they would take it. The only thing keeping the Uchiha powerful back then was their numbers and the jutsu they stole from other clans. When they tried to take over Konoha, the Senju and all the other clans stood up to them. The Uchiha would have been wiped out if several of the clan elders hadn't overruled and exiled the clan-head and offered a truce to the Shodai Hokage, Hashirama. The deal they made was that the Uchiha would join Konoha as a minor clan in exchange for some of the jutsu they had stolen over the years, as well as several restrictions on their activities in the village. The laws about jutsu and bloodline theft were created from that time." Ranko drew her knees up to her chest. "Unfortunately, the former clan head, Madara, was very angry with the deal. He thought that the Uchiha deserved to rule all of the shinobi nations and that backing down from anyone was pure weakness and he challenged Hashirama to a duel for leadership of the village. When they were fighting, Madara used the power of the Sharingan to summon me and put me under a genjutsu to force me to help him."
"But...how did he do that? You're the most powerfull Bijū there is!"
"Well, the first Uchiha was actually a Hyuuga. One of them, a girl named Akane, stumbled across my den when she ran away from her clan. She begged me to help her get away from the man she was arranged to be married to. I felt sorry for her and gave her a gift."
"That's right. I used some of my power to change her eyes into what became the Sharingan, and in the process, a tiny fraction of my power stayed with her. I thought it was a good thing until I found out that her children were abusing the power passed on from her. Madara was her direct descendent and the worst of the lot. I fought against the control, but if it wasn't for Hashirama suppressing my power long enough for Mito to seal me into herself using a Uzumaki clan fuinjutsu, Madara would have used me to destroy Konoha. Everyone thought that Hashirama had killed him."
"So...twelve years ago, when I was born..."
"Madara somehow came back and ripped me out of my last host and put me under an even stronger version of the genjutsu he used last time. I tried to fight it, I really did, but it used my own power against me. The only thing that stopped me from wiping out the village was your parents."
Naruto froze in shock and stared at her. "...Y-you know who my parents are? Tell me, please!"
"Nobody ever told you?" He shook his head. "Well, I guess it would be okay, but you have to keep it secret. Your parents made a lot of enemies and if those people ever found out, you would be in a lot of danger."
"I promise, I promise! Just please! Tell me!"
Ranko let out a deep breath. "Your mother was my previous host, Kushina Uzumaki, and the last living heir of Uzugakure. Your father was Minato Namekaze, the Yondaime Hokage."
Naruto completely froze up, emotions boiling inside of him. Finally, he swallowed hard and spoke. "Why...why did they..."
"Why did they leave you behind? Ranko answered. At his nod, she continued. "They didn't want to, I know that. When I was being controlled by Madara, they fought to hold me back. But just before they managed to seal me, they..." Ranko looked away. "...They got hit with a lethal strike...it's my fault they're dead...I'm so sorry..."
Naruto sat silently, pondering this information. After a while, he asked in a soft voice, "...d-did they love me?"
Ranko pulled Naruto into a tight hug. "Yes! Oh Kami, yes they did. Your father was practically shouting from the top of the mountain that he was going to be a dad, and your mother was so happy she couldn't stop smiling all the time. You were all they talked about when they were alone."
Naruto couldn't stop crying as broken sobs racked his body, and Ranko held tightly to her chest. Stroking his hair, she continued. "Even though I was sealed away in your mother, I could feel everything she felt, how much she loved you even if she hadn't met you yet. And every time your father felt you kick, he would get this stupid grin on his face that wouldn't go away for hours."
Naruto looked up at her, scrubbing his tears away. "How do you know all that?" Ranko scratched the back of her head. "The seal Mito had allowed me to share her senses. You know, see what she saw and hear what she heard? Well, when I was sealed into Kushina, that connection was..." she coughed. "...s-stuck open..."
Naruto blinked. "...oh..." His eyes widened, and Ranko's face turned bright red. "...OH..."
Another cough. "Y-yea. Things got really awkward between your mother and I after she married Minato."
"...But what about me?" He asked. "Have you been watching me the whole time?"
Ranko's face turned sad. "...No. I haven't. But not for what you think!" She stopped his reaction before he spoke. "I didn't have a choice in that. When you were a baby, someone tried to kill you, and you drew on my power in fear. I was able to kill them with my power, but then the Sandaime had his student, Jiraiya, put extra seals on you to fully seal off my power. That cut any connection I had with you and prevented me from helping if something happened again."
Naruto was shocked. "Why would Jiji do something like that?"
Ranko shrugged. "I think he was more concerned about the reaction from the villagers. If you could have drawn on my power whenever you were scared or angry, people would have started panicking or tried harder to kill you. I'm sure he meant well, but hindsight has perfect vision and all that."
He grumbled, "I can't believe that Jiji would do something like that." He looked around them. "You said this is the seal?" She nodded. "What happened here? Why does it look all...broken?"
Ranko raised an eyebrow. "You don't remember?" Naruto shook his head. "Makes sense, people's minds will often repress stuff like that. Well, the damage to the bars happened when you were six. You were attacked and almost died. I pushed my power against the cage so hard, it snapped that one bar over there. I still don't know what happened that night. Your heart stopped for four minutes, but something kept you alive and changed the seal. Since then, the seal has been draining small portions of my power and turning it into this purple stuff." She reached down to the floor and siphoned off some of the glowing energy running through the floor. Holding her hand up, it formed an eerie, shining orb of purple light. "I'm still trying to figure out what this stuff is. I think I'm getting close, but I don't have much to work with." She shrugged. "That, and I'm stuck in here. If I was outside, I could figure this out and be able to help you."
Ranko nodded to the walls. "The chains used to be looking brand new. At least, right up until tonight. Whatever you did out there, you started pulling on this energy stuff and I tried to help by pushing more of my power into it, but it caused a huge surge that eroded the chains to where they are now. It's been building up a reserve since you were six, but you spent almost all of it in one go. I also think that the surge is what caused your...changes." Pointing out Naruto's new features, "That's why I was crying when you found me. I just made your life even worse. I'm...I really am truly sorry. For everything. It's all my fault..." Her shoulders slumped in depression.
Naruto looked over changes to his body and thought. Eventually, he put his hand on Ranko's arm, drawing her out of her self-imposed gloom. "This stuff probably would have happened anyway, with or without you. Heck, knowing my luck, it could have been worse. So cheer up, ok? It wasn't really your fault, and I don't blame you." He said with a bright smile.
Ranko stared at him in shock, then started tearing up. "You really are an amazing person, Naru-kun." She enveloped him in a tight hug and muttered darkly, "...Those bastard villagers don't deserve someone like you."
For his own part, Naruto was enjoying the embrace, sinking into her arms as a warm feeling filled his heart. Other than a mere handful of people, nobody had treated him nicely. And certainly no one had ever held him like this. Maybe... he thought, This is what it feels like to have a mother. Did his own mother, Kushina, hold him like this when he was born? All he could think of was that he wished he could feel like this forever.
Ranko could feel his emotions and the raw intensity broke her heart. I swear, Naru-kun... She hugged him tighter, I will find a way out of this. And when I do, you will never be lonely again. And I will make those bastards pay for hurting MY kit. She pulled back and smiled at him. "Don't worry, Naru-kun. We'll figure this out. Now that those chains are damaged, I should be able to remove them entirely, then I can work on fixing the main seal. If it all works, I should be able to repair our link back to full working order. You just need to convince the Hokage not to have that Jiraiya prick tamper with the seal again."
Naruto's eyes widened. "Oh crap! Jiji! He's probably really mad at me for taking the scroll...Iruka-sensei! He was really hurt! How do I get out of here?!" He jumped up, frantically looking around. Ranko stood up, placing a hand on his shoulder.
"Calm down, Naru-kun. Just relax and think of waking up. You're in your own mind, so you're in control."
"Okay, okay...I'm in control..." His face screwed up in concentration until his eye popped open. "Hey...Ranko-nee-san? You said you could fix the seal...how do you know so much about it?"
Ranko gave him a wide, toothy grin. "Who do you think taught the Uzumaki clan everything they knew about fuinjutsu in the first place?"
Naruto looked at her curiously for a moment. "...Huh..." He closed his eyes again and, after a few moments, faded away. Ranko looked at the spot where he vanished and shook her head. "Never change, kit. Never change."
Looking around, she assessed the damage and work ahead of her. Cracking her knuckles, she started repairing the seal. After a moment, she looked down at the strange energy flowing around her. Hmm...I wonder... Kneeling down,she drew some of the energy out and watched in fascination as it formed spectral purple flames in her hands. "...I think I can work with this." Grinning wider than ever, she set about her work with glee.
Naruto sat upright in the hospital bed with a jolt. "Iruka-sensei!"
"Naruto! Calm down." The Sandaime spoke as the old doctor, Chitose checked his vitals. "What happened to you?"
Naruto shook his head. "That doesn't matter! Is Iruka-sensei alright?"
"Yes, Naruto, he's fine. He's sleeping in the next bed. See?" Chitose pointed to the bed behind her. Naruto looked at the sleeping chunin and saw the heart monitor beeping calmly and sighed in relief. He looked back at the Hokage. "Did you recover the scroll safely?"
The old Hokage nodded. "Yes, Naruto, we did recover the scroll safely. Why did you steal it in the first place?"
Naruto looked at the claws on his hands, and then spoke seriously. "Get all the ANBU out of here, except Neko-nee-chan, and set up a privacy barrier." He gazed up at his grandfather figure with slitted eyes. "We need to talk."
AN: YAY! Finally a new chapter! Took me long enough, but I got it done! Now, I would like to go over a few things.
#1: Yes, Naruto seems OOC. My answer? No he's not. When a character is "Out of character", it means they are acting atypical of what they are supposed to be in the story. Naruto is EXACTLY the way I want him for this story. Therefore, He is not OOC. Anyone has a problem with that, let me know in a CALM and POLITE manner. Flames will be ignored and the writer blocked.
#2: The identity of the Kyuubi no Kitsune is *gasp* RANMA SAOTOME aka RANKO! Yes, it is THAT Ranma. Is she acting OOC? No. Same reason as #1. This is not cannon. Anything written to exist in an AU story is cannon for that story. Besides, THIS Ranko has had a few thousand years to adjust to being a girl. After the first 500 or so, she won't really care anymore.
#3: Will Naruto be learning moves and fighting styles from Ranma-1/2? Maybe. Remember, this story is AU. If Naruto learns any Ranma-style martial arts stuff, it will be stuff with MY spin on them.
#4: A friend asked me if Naruto will be getting dragon powers or summon dragons. Will either thing happen? NOT TELLING! :) All I'm going to say is that Naruto's new powers MAY have something to do with dragons, and a summon contract MAY show up in the future. Getting any more out of me, you are not! Spoilers!
#5: Will this story be another story that follows the cannon plot to the letter and merely changes a few things here and there to try and create a halfway mediocre story? Heck no! The stage has been set already for some major changes and I have even bigger plans! I will try to make it a gradual transition, but these things have a tendency to write themselves. If it starts going too far south, I can always rewrite it.
#6: Is this actually a crossover? No, not really. A crossover is a fusion of two worlds into a single entity. One world with some borrowed parts from another world is pushing the line, but not truly a crossover. Ranma-1/2 is part of a world that is long since been dead and destroyed. Only nine individuals from that world exist, and not all of them might have survived the same way Ranko did. As for the dragon thing from chapter 1? Zangarath is actually a custom OC based in an entirely different world. You will not find him in any book, movie, game, or fandom anywhere else. Authors, please don't use him without asking me first, ok?
#6: "You changed how Konoha was founded! That's not how it happened!" Umm...it's AU...why are you complaining again?
#7: I'm using a different line-break for this chapter. Please tell me which one is better. Thank you! :)
I can't really think of anything else, and most of the questions I can think of can be answered with the nebulous statement of "Spoilers!" Please feel free to review. It's nice reading what people think. Most of the time. Enjoy!