Running through the dark alleys a brick struck my leg, causing me to trip and fall. As I fell my head hit something hard, dazing me as I heard laughing from behind me. I slowly got on my hands and knees, shaking my head and putting a hand over where I hit myself. I winced in pain and felt something warm and sticky on my fingers. When I pulled my hand away I saw blood. Before I could get up someone kicked me in the side, throwing me against the alley wall. I shouted in pain and looked up at my attackers. About a dozen people crowded around me, some holding knives but most with whatever they could find.
I whimpered in pain and fear before asking, “Why are you hurting me?”
A man with a piece of wood stepped towards me and kicked me in the stomach, forcing me to throw up my last meal, a half eaten apple and some stale bread. “Because you killed our families you fucking demon bitch!” he snarled.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said as tears of pain leaked from my eyes.
“Lies!” the same man snarled as he kicked my in the stomach again. “Tonight we’re going to finish what the Yondaime (Fourth) Hokage started seven years ago!”
I dry heaved and tried to crawl away. The crowd jeered and threw stones at me, kicking me down whenever I tried to get up. I managed to get out of the alley and crawled along a wooden fence until someone grabbed me by the shoulder and threw me against the fence.
“Pl—please stop,” I whimpered as I sagged against the fence.
The man, a different one this time, spat on me in the face then punched me. Then another man came and grabbed one of my arms. Before I could do anything he forced my left hand against the fence then stabbed his knife through my hand and into the fence. I screamed in pain and tried to pull my hand free, but that only made the pain worse. Then the man holding me against the wall grabbed my other hand and jerked it as hard as he could to the right. I screamed again as the knife sliced through more of my left palm.
Then I saw him pulling out his own knife. “Don’t... Please, don’t.” I begged.
He snarled and slammed the hilt of his knife against my temple, stunning me before the knife sliced through my right hand. I screamed again and frantically tried to pull my hands free, but with both arms stretched as far as they could go I couldn’t get any leverage and only served to cause even more excruciating pain. Tears openly fell from my eyes as the crowd grew in size and began to throw anything they could at me. Then a rock hit me in the head and everything became fuzzy.
At some point the first man with the piece of wood swung at me until the wood broke. Another time I felt something sharp slide into my side and be violently ripped out. Then pain exploded in both my knees forcing me to sag, leaving the knives in my hands as the only things supporting my weight. After that they kept hitting me with their hands, their fists, their feet, anything that they could. Then everything disappeared into blissful darkness.
Leaping from rooftop to rooftop, I lead my ANBU team in search of Naruko. “Command, this is Inu (Dog). Markets are clear. No sign of the VIP,” I said into my radio.
«Understood, Inu. Proceed west to link up with Echo Team.»
“Understood,” I said as I motioned for Neko (Cat), Tora (Tiger), and Kuma (Bear) to head west. We’d barely gone a hundred meters when the heavy scent of blood hit my nose.
I immediately stopped on the roof of the next building and sniffed the air to try and determine which direction the sent of blood was coming from. “Sempai (Senior)?” Neko asked as she landed next to me.
“I can smell blood. Neko, see if you can detect anyone nearby.”
“Hai,” she said then fell silent as she used her sensor abilities. “There’re over two dozen people a hundred seventy five meters to the north-northwest.”
“Let’s go!” In an instant we vanished from the rooftop and were heading towards the gathering. As we approached the gathering the scent of blood got stronger and stronger until it drowned out any other scent that my sensitive nose could detect. Soon after we could hear shouting and the distinct sound of flesh being hit. When we finally reached a building overlooking the gathering my blood ran cold.
In the center of the group was Naruko, her hands crucified to a fence with knives, beaten to a pulp, and both of her legs were bent at unnatural angles at the knees. Her head was slumped against her chest with her red hair hanging down over her face. What was left of her clothes were covered in blood. My horror turned to rage when a civilian stabbed Naruko in the gut and started to disembowel her.
My vision turned red as lightning gathered in my hand and the sound of chirping birds filled the air. In an instant I was in the middle of the group with a Chidori (One Thousand Birds) through the civilian’s chest. I jerked my hand out of the civilian’s chest and let him fall to the ground. I turned to the rest of the shocked and terrified civilians with a still active Chidori surrounding my hand and said in an ice cold voice, “By order of the Sandaime (Third) Hokage you all are under arrest. Resist and we will kill you.”
In that instant the rest of my team jumped down and surrounded the civilians with their weapons drawn before any of them could flee. “Get them out of my sight before I kill another one of them,” I ordered.
“Hai!” my team said simultaneously before they began to herd the civilians away towards the ANBU Torture & Interrogation department.
I turned back to Naruko, dissipating my Chidori, and my heart nearly stopped. “Kami (God)...”
Up close she looked even worse. Her clothes would’ve been in better condition if they were rags while drying blood covered the rest of her. Brushing her blood soaked hair out of her face I saw that her face had been beaten to the point that it was unrecognizable. Looking down I couldn’t bring myself to count the number of cuts and lacerations that covered her, but at least half of them were deep or going dangerously close to a vital organ. Her ribcage looked like it’d been trampled by a horse with at least two broken ribs sticking out of her chest, and her knees looked to be shattered. It was a small mercy that she was unconscious let alone alive.
As gently as I could I pulled a knife from one of Naruko’s hands. Once her hand was free I caught her before she could do more damage to her hand on the remaining knife and reached for it. At that time I heard a soft thump from behind me. In an instant I was turned around, shielding Naruko with my body and ready to throw the knife in my hand. “There’s no reason for that, Kakashi,” an old grandfatherly voice said from the shadows.
Stepping out of the shadows was the Sandaime Hokage Sarutobi Hiruzen, the Shinobi no Kami (God of Shinobi), in his white and red Hokage robes. Even in the darkness I could see his old wrinkled face and the sadness in his dark eyes. “Hokage-Sama,” I said as I bowed my head.
“How bad is it this time, Kakashi?” Hiruzen-Sama asked as he walked closer.
“Very bad. Probably the worst she’s been beaten,” I said remembering the dozens of times that Naruko had been attacked, but was hard pressed to find one as bad as this time.
“Then free her other hand and let’s get her to the hospital,” Hiruzen-Sama said as he took hold of Naruko’s free arm, unconcerned about the blood getting on his robes.
“Hai, Hokage-Sama.” I quickly, but gently, freed her right hand before we used Shunshin (body flicker) to get her to the hospital.
When we arrived in the hospital lobby Hiruzen-Sama immediately barked, “Get a team of Med-nin and prepare an operating room!”
Someone shouted, “Hai!” but I ignored them as I used what little medical knowledge I had to try and stabilize Naruko. Within moments a med-nin team arrived with a gurney and put Naruko on the bed. One of the doctors started to use the Shōsen (mystical palm) to begin healing her injuries and get a diagnosis. As the doctor began listing the injuries that’s been inflicted to Naruko, my heart dropped at the extreme and extensive number of injuries.
When the med-nin took Naruko back to the operating room I tried to follow but a hand on my shoulder stopped me. Turning I saw Hiruzen-Sama holding me back. “I’m sorry, Kakashi, but as bad as her wounds were the doctors can’t afford to have any distraction while they’re operating.”
I lowered my head in defeat as I said, “Hai, Hokage-Sama.”
A bright light shining through my eyelids forced me out of my sleep. Blinking the sleep from my eyes I looked around and saw that I was in a hospital room again. The creaking of a chair told me that someone else was in the room with me. Looking to the left I saw the Hokage sitting next to me.
“Good morning, Naruko-Chan. How’re you feeling?” he asked with a sad smile.
“Morning, Oji-San (Grandpa). Just a little sore.”
Ji-San nodded with a small look of relief. I sat up in my bed and saw that I was only wearing a hospital gown. “Where are my clothes?” I asked as I tucked a lock of my lush maroon hair behind my ear.
“Unfortunately what was left of your clothes were in worse condition than rags. I ordered that they be put in the incinerator.”
“Oh...” I said. “I really liked that orange jacket that you got me. Do you know when I can leave?”
Ji-San smiled as he said,” I just need to sign the paperwork and you’ll be free to go. Give me about half an hour to do that and pick you up some clothes to wear.”
“Okay, Ji-San,” I said with a weak smile. “Do you know who helped me this time?”
Ji-San nodded, “Yes. It was Inu’s (Dog’s) team.” I nodded as Ji-San got up and left. As soon as the door clicked closed my smile faded away and was replaced with a crushing sadness.
Why does everybody except a few Shinobi want to hurt me? I asked myself as a tear leaked from my eye. Am I really a demon like people say? Is that way they hate me?
The door to my room opened and I quickly wiped my tears away. Looking towards the door I saw a fifteen year old girl holding a tray of food. She stood a little over one hundred fifty centimeters and wore a brown-red t-shirt with bracelets, white-shorts and fishnet leggings. She had lightly tanned skin, light brown, pupil-less eyes, and violet hair in a fanned ponytail.
“Anko-Oneechan (Older Sister),” I said with some excitement. Although Anko-Nee wasn’t related to me in any way, she was the closest thing I had to family other than Ji-San. She also knew what it was like to be hated by the entire village after her sensei, Orochimaru, betrayed the village.
“Hey there, Gaki,” Anko-Nee said as she kicked the door shut. “The Old Man said that you were awake so I figured that you’d want some breakfast.”
“Thanks, Anko-Nee,” I said as she put the tray on my lap. Anko-Nee smiled and ruffled my hair until I batted her arm away.
“Anything for my imouto (little sister),” Anko-Nee said before frowning. “What’s wrong?”
“What?” I asked looking up at her.
“You have that look on your face that you usually have when something’s bothering you.” I cringed slightly and looked away. Anko-Nee always was good at telling what people were thinking or feeling.
“I... I was wondering why... why almost everyone hates me. All the adults call me a demon and pull their kids away from me, stores kick me out or charge me three times as much, and people curse me whenever I walk past them. What did I do to deserve any of this?”
Anko-Nee wrapped her arms around me and pulled me into a hug. “I don’t know, Naru-Chan. I honestly don’t know. I can understand why they hate me, but it doesn’t make sense to me why they would hate you. You’re so kind and nice and you think things through.”
Anko-Nee pulled away from me and gave me a small smile, “That’s one thing I still haven’t learned to do yet.”
I gave her a small, slightly watery, smile too. “I guess that’s why you have me, to think things through.”
Anko-Nee leaned in and kissed to top of my head before saying, “Eat up so that we can go celebrate your birthday, even if it’s the day after.”
“Okay,” I said as I wiped my eyes. I picked up my chopsticks and began to eat the meal Anko-Nee had brought me. It was a simple meal, an omelette, rice, a couple pieces of toast, and a carton of milk. It’d probably come from the hospital cafeteria, but what mattered was that Anko-nee had gotten it for me.
Just as I was finishing my meal Ji-San came in my room with a bundle of clothes. “Ah, Anko-Chan. Thank you for getting Naruko-Chan breakfast.”
“Anything for my imouto,” Anko-Nee said as she nodded towards Ji-San.
Ji-San smiled and handed me the bundle of clothes. “Here you go, Naruko-Chan.”
“Arigatō (thank you), Ji-San,” I said as I took the clothes and went into the bathroom. I put on the clothes and took a look at my reflection in the mirror. A seven year old girl stared back at me. My silky maroon red hair fell down to my shoulder blades behind my back in a ponytail and two bangs hung down to frame my heart shaped face. My skin was a light tan and my eyes were sky blue.
The most distinctive feature that I had were the three whisker marks on my cheeks. I brushed my thumb over one of my whiskers and shivered at how good it felt. Anko-Nee always did like to tease me by stroking my whiskers until I was delirious, she always said that it made me purr like a cat.
Pushing my thoughts away from my whiskers I looked over the clothes that Ji-San had gotten me. My pants were the standard dark blue Shinobi style and my long sleeve shirt was the same green as a Chunin or Jonin’s vest. Over my shirt I wore a gray vest with an orange trim.
Before I left the bathroom I reached under my shirt and pulled out my necklace. It was a simple locket with the Uzu swirl on one side and a thunder cloud on the other. I opened it and stared at the two photos inside. And the left was a picture of me and Anko-Nee during her last birthday. I was on the left holding up the V for victory with my arm around Anko-Nee who had her arm around me and was holding up a cup of sake. On the right was a photo of a woman in her mid twenties. She looked like an older version of me with the same heart shaped face, maroon red hair, eye shape, and nose. The only differences between us were my blue eyes and whiskered cheeks.
Ji-San said the the woman in the photo was my kaa-chan (mom), Kushina Uzumaki. I smiled, remembering the sheer joy that I’d felt when I learned that my kaa-chan loved me even though she died giving birth to me. I closed the locket and put it back under my shirt and left the bathroom. When I stepped out Anko-Nee whistled and said, “Wow... That outfit works for you Imouto.”
“Thanks again for the clothes, Ji-San.”
“You’re welcome, Naruko-Chan. Why don’t you and Anko-Chan go have fun while I...” Ji-San paused to sign in resignation, “While I go back to my paperwork.”
“Have fun, Ji-San,” I said knowing just how much he hated paperwork. Ji-San just nodded and left with a cloud over his head. “Let’s go, Anko-Nee.”
“Alright, Gaki (Brat)!” Anko-Nee shouted before backflipping out the window. I shook my head at her antics before walking to the windowsill. I glanced outside and saw Anko-Nee safety on the ground four stories below waving for me to jump. I climbed up on the sill and dropped to the ground. As I fell I channeled my chakra through my legs to reinforce them for went I landed. I hit the ground without a sound and barely disturbed the dust.
“Let’s go, Gaki,” Anko-Nee said as she grabbed my hand and practically dragged me behind her.
Predictably, the first stop was her favorite Dango shop. Ignoring the few patrons awake enough to be there and glare at us, I habitually scanned the entire shop. The only thing of note were the two Shinobi in standard Jonin uniforms, drinking tea. The man had spiky silver hair sticking up and wore his Hitai-ate (forehead-protector) pulled over his left eye. The Hitai-ate combined with his mask covered all but his dark right eye which was glued to the orange book in his hand. The woman had straight purple hair, warm brown eyes, and wore red lipstick. On her back was a standard katana set in a way to allow for the fastest possible draw.
I walked over to them and greeted them, “Inu-San, Neko-San.”
Both looked up from their tea as Inu said, “Yo, Naruko-Chan.”
Neko narrowed her eyes slightly. “Naruko-Chan, you know that you’re not supposed to use our code names when we’re not in uniform.”
I nodded. “Sorry Yūgao-San, Kakashi-San.”
Kakashi just waved his hand. “Maa, maa, no harm done. No one here to overhear us.”
Yūgao shook her head and sighed. “Sempai, you know that it’s against regulations to use our code names when out of uniform or base no matter what.”
Kakashi gestured around us asking, “Do you see anyone around us other than Naruko-Chan and Anko-Chan awake or caring enough to pay attention to us?”
Yūgao just pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed again before sipping her tea. “So what brings you here, Naruko-Chan?”
“I wanted to thank you for saving me again last night.”
They both smiled sadly, or I at least assumed that Kakashi was smiling, as he said, “You don’t need to thank us, Naruko-Chan. We’ve been doing it for a long time.”
“Still, it’s always good to thank the person or people who save you. If you don’t mind me asking, how badly was I hurt?”
They both cringed before Kakashi said, “It was probably the worst beating, if it can be called that, you’ve ever had. If we hadn’t shown up...”
I lowered my head and nodded. “I understand, Kakashi-San. Thank you both very much for protecting me for so long.”
“Naru-Chan, I got us some Dango,” Anko-Nee said as she came over. “Hey, Kakashi-San, Yūgao-Chan.”
“Yo,” Kakashi said as Yūgao nodded.
“Let’s go celebrate your birthday, Gaki!” Anko-Nee practically shouted as she grabbed me and started to haul me out of the store.
“Mind if we tag along?” Kakashi asked.
“Sure,” Anko-Nee called out as she dragged me out the door.
Before Anko-Nee could drag me any further I formed a tiger seal with both hands and used a quick Kawarimi (substitution) with a nearby alley cat to get out of her grip.
Anko-Nee looked down at the cat that she was holding by the scruff of the neck and blinked in surprise. The cat hissed at her making her hiss back at it before tossing it away. The cat landed on it’s feet and continued to hiss at Anko-Nee until she threw a kunai at it, frightening it away. With the cat gone Anko-Nee looked around until she spotted me. “Naru-Chaaaan, you’re no fun,” she whined.
I shrugged and walked over to her with my hands in my pockets. “Why don’t you try leading me to where we’re going rather than dragging me.”
“But that’s not as fun,” she pouted. Behind us I could hear Kakashi and Yūgao trying, and failing, to stifle their laughter.
I shrugged again and started walking down the street. “So where are we going, Anko-Nee?”
“Training ground thirty four. I’m going to teach you some more beginner stuff for being a Shinobi.”
“Lead the way then.”
Anko-Nee nodded and jumped up to the rooftops. I nodded to Kakashi and Yūgao before we followed Anko-Nee.
Training ground thirty four
We landed in the main clearing of the training ground. Looking around I saw a few trees in the clearing, three human sized logs standing in the center, and a large pond not too far away. “So what now?” I asked.
Anko-Nee reached into one of her pouches and pulled out a piece of paper. “This is chakra paper,” she said as she handed it to me. “If you channel your chakra into it it’ll show what affinities you have. Usually people don’t learn about their nature affinity until after they graduate from the academy and their Jonin instructor gives them a piece of chakra paper.”
I nodded and channel some of my chakra into the paper and something interesting happened. The paper split itself into four pieces. One corner began to rip itself apart until it was little more than dust, another crumpled up into a ball, one piece practically turned to water, and the last piece caught on fire. I looked up at the others and saw that Anko-Nee and Yūgao’s jaws were hanging slack and Kakashi’s visible eye was the size of a baseball.
“What?” I asked. “What’s wrong?”
“How... How’s that... how’s that possible?” Anko-Nee muttered.
“Is it unusual for someone to have,” I glanced down at the paper, “four affiliates?”
“Yes,” Kakashi said when he found his voice. “It’s rare to find someone with just two at the age of seven like you. Let alone three incredibly strong ones and the last just strong.”
I looked down at the remains of the chakra paper. “So I obviously have Suiton (water) and Katon (fire), but what are the other two?”
“Raiton (lightning) and Futon (wind),” Yūgao said after she got over her surprise. “You have the best possible offensive and multi-use affinities that a shinobi could have.”
“So what now?” I asked as I let the last two pieces of the paper, one wet and the other crumpled, fall from my hand.
“Well now we teach you how to access your affinities,” Kakashi said as he caught a few falling leaves out of the air. He passed one of the leaves to me and said, “Channel your chakra into the leaf like you did with the paper, but try to light it on fire with your chakra alone.”
I nodded as I took the leaf. Holding the leaf between my thumb and forefinger I channeled my chakra into it like I did with the paper. After a few minutes nothing happened. Frowning in concentration I thought back to how it felt when I was using the chakra paper. For the briefest moment I’d felt something, four somethings. I felt a cool steady trickle and a raging torrent; a soft tingle and blinding energy; a gentle cress and a furious jet stream; and a soft warmth and burning inferno. I focused on the dual sensation that I felt was Katon and channeled it into the leaf. In an instant the leaf burst into flames as if it were dipped in kerosene and held over a lit match. I dropped the leaf and quickly smothered it with my sandal.
“How was that,” I asked as I looked towards the others in triumph. Again I was met with looks of astonishment.
“People don’t get it on the first try usually, do they?” I ventured tentatively. All three shook their heads.
Kakashi handed me three more leaves. “Try channeling your other chakra affinities into those leaves.”
I held all three leaves between my fingers and concentrated again. Reaching inside of myself I drew upon the last three dual sensations that I could feel with in me and channeled one affinity into each leaf. As soon as my affinities touched the leaves the Suiton leaf became soaked, the Raiton leaf crinkled into a ball, and the Futon leaf tore itself apart.
“That’s impossible!” Anko-Nee almost shouted. “Only someone with incredible chakra control could manipulate three affinities at once!”
“Not to mention having incredibly dense chakra to cause the level of results that those leaves showed with so little chakra,” Kakashi added.
“What does that mean,” I asked.
“You have tons of chakra and the control to use it effectively,” Kakashi answered. “I guess we could show you a jutsu for each of your affinities, except Futon.”
“Why no Futon?”
“Because it’s the rarest affinity in Konoha. Only two people in Konoha have Wind as their affinity. One’s currently out of the village and the other is about as trustworthy as an angry tiger.”
I nodded in understanding. “So what jutsu are you going to teach me?”
Anko was the first to answer. “Well since you have Katon like me I can show you the Gōkakyū (Great Fireball). It’s a great beginner jutsu that’s very versatile.”
“Teppōdama (Liquid Bullet) is also a good starter for Suiton,” Yūgao said.
I turned to Kakashi who was tapping his chin with his book. “I guess I can teach you Jibashi (Electromagnetic Murder). It’s basic like the others, but just as versatile and effective.”
“So who’s going to teach me first?”
“Me! Me, me!” Anko-Nee shout as she jumped in the air and waved an arm over her head.
I shook my head at her antics before saying, “Alright, Anko-Nee.”
“Yes!” She shouted while fist pumping. “Alright the hand seals to do the Gōkakyū (Great Fireball) are Tiger, Ram, Monkey, Boar, Horse, Tiger. As your doing the hand signs you kneed your chakra inside your lungs and blow it out as either a fireball or a continuous flame. The amount of chakra you put into it controls the size and power of the technique. Understand, Gaki?”
I nodded. “Good. Here’s how you do it,” Anko-Nee said before doing the hand seals slow enough for me to follow. Then she took a deep breath in, and blew out a ball of fire the size of a beach ball towards the pond. The fireball hit the water and unleashed a large cloud of steam as the chakra fueled fire was doused by the water. When the steam died down I made my way over to the pond while practicing the hand signs. I reached the edge of the pond and did the hand seals while kneeding some of my Katon chakra and combining it with the air in my lungs.
Finishing the chain of hand seals I breathed out and managed to make a small flame sputter into existence before it died out a meter away from me. “Damn,” I muttered.
“Maa, maa. Don’t be so hard on yourself, Naruko. It’s actually pretty impressive that you managed to actually get any flames on your first try,” Kakashi said. “Try the Gōkakyū (Great Fireball) a few more times and then we can switch over to Jibashi (Electromagnetic Murder).”
I nodded and went through the hand seals again while taking a deep breath in. This time when I blew out I put more chakra into the technique and maintained the flow. The result was a small but steady flame stretching about three meters away from me until I cut the flow of chakra to it. Wiping some sweat from my forehead as I turned to the others I asked, “How was that?”
Anko-Nee wrapped an arm around my shoulders and pulled me into a small hug. “Looks like my imouto’s (little sister’s) a little prodigy.”
“She’s right,” Yūgao said. “It took me a week before I could make a continuous flame. Granted, fire is the opposite of my primary affinity so Katon is harder for me to use.”
I scratched the back of my head in embarrassment over the praise they were giving me. I slipped out of Anko-Nee’s arm, ignoring her pout, and went back to practicing. I formed the hand seals again and launched a ball of fire, this time the size of my fist.
By the time an hour had passed I was able to launch a Gōkakyū (Great Fireball) the size of a beach ball like the one Anko-Nee showed me. “Excellent job, Naruko. Now let’s use the Jibashi (Electromagnetic Murder),” Kakashi said.
Standing with my hands braced against my knees I nodded while trying to blink the sweat out of my eyes. I mopped my face with my sleeve and looked towards Kakashi.
“The basic technique behind the Jibashi is to collect Raiton (Lightning) chakra in your hands and release it in a wave of electricity. The hand seals to use it are Boar, Ram, Snake, Horse, Dragon.”
I nodded and went through the hand seals as I gather my Raiton chakra. “Raiton: Jibashi,” lighting gathered in my hands and leaped forward about four meters before dying out.
I went through the hand seals again, putting more chakra into the technique and tightening my control over it. “Raiton: Jibashi,” the lightning surged out of my hands, branching again and again until it covered everything with in a sixty degree funnel reaching out ten meters. A soft thud made me look back towards the others. Anko-Nee and Yūgao again were slack jawed while Kakashi had actually dropped his precious book.
“No one does a jutsu that well on their second try do they?” They all shook their heads.
I nodded and went back to practicing the Jibashi . After another hour Kakashi stopped me. “I think that’s enough, Naruko. Honestly, the only way that I can think of someone becoming so proficient with a jutsu in such a short time is if they had the Sharingan like myself or an Uchiha.”
I nodded in agreement, seeing as my last use of the Jibashi covered thirty meters with enough energy to stop a person’s heart.
“I guess Anko-Nee is right, I am a prodigy. Yūgao-San, can you teach me how to use Teppōdama (Liquid Bullet)?”
“Of course,” Yūgao said. “Teppōdama is similar to Gōkakyū (Great Fireball) but uses Suiton chakra to summon water in your mouth then propel it towards the target.”
Yūgao faced a tree and made a Tiger seal. Her cheeks puffed up before she spat out a fist sized ball of water that punched straight through the tree trunk. “A weak Teppōdama can distract an opponent or set them up for a Raiton jutsu while a strong Teppōdama can take a limb off if timed just right. It’s said that the Nidaime (Second) Hokage was able to kill five people with a single Teppōdama who were lined up for a moment during a battle.”
I nodded as I faced a tree about twenty meters away and made a Tiger seal. I reached into my dwindling supply of chakra and drew out the dual sensation that represented Suiton. I focused it in my mouth and condensed it until water began to form. Once I thought I had a reasonable amount I spat it out with a brief burst of chakra. The Teppōdama that I launched was the size of a small fist and flew about seven meters.
I prepared to use another Teppōdama as I heard the others speaking. “How well do you think she’ll do in an hour?” Kakashi asked.
“I bet twenty Ryō that my imouto’ll be able to do a Teppōdama with out hand seals.”
As I launched a Teppōdama I heard Yūgao hum in thought then say, “I’ll match you, Anko. I bet that Naruko’ll be able to go through two trees but have to use a seal.”
“Maa, I’ll match you two as well. I bet that she’ll be able to both punch a hole through two trees and do it without seals,” Kakashi drawled.
After another hour of practice I was able to put a hole through two trees with a single Teppōdama (Liquid Bullet). This left Anko-Nee and Kakashi pouting and Yūgao smiling as she became forty Ryō richer.
I sat down in the shade of a tree and wiped the sweat off of my face with my sleeve. Anko-Nee sat down next to me and pulled me into a hug. “I’m so proud of you Naru-Chan! I doubt anyone could learn three jutsu in three hours like you did.”
I smiled at her and gratefully accepted a water bottle from Kakashi. I quickly drained about half of it before I started taking more controlled sips.
“So what now?” I asked before my stomach rumbled. I scratched the back of my head in embarrassment.
“Well I guess that answers that question,” Anko-Nee said as she poked my stomach.
I swatted her hand away and said, “Come on, let’s go to Ichiraku for some lunch.”
The others nodded and we started walking towards the tree line. As soon as we reached the tree line though, the other leaped up into the trees. “Hey!” I shouted. “I’m dead tired here!”
I heard Anko-Nee crackle with laughter. “Hope you’re not too tired, Naru-Chan. If you take longer than fifteen minutes to get to Ichiraku then you’re paying for lunch.”
I paused in uncertainty, knowing that I could easily reach Ichiraku in less than fifteen minutes, before I heard a hissing/whistling sound. I immediately rolled forward as a kunai flew through the space that I’d been in. The sound of more kunai filled the air, forcing me to continue to dodge and evade.
“Anko-Nee!” I shouted in annoyance. Anko’s response was to throw more kunai and shuriken at me. I growled out several curses and took off, weaving my way through the woods and dodging anything that Anko-Nee threw at me.
I collapsed outside of Ichiraku panting like a dog and covered with healing cuts. Anko-Nee dropped down next to me with a semi-crazed smile on her face followed closely by Kakashi and Yūgao. I glared up at Anko-Nee and said, “You can be a sadistic woman sometimes, Anko-Nee.”
Anko-Nee’s smile just widened. “Awww, you know that you love me, Naru-Chan.”
I huffed to myself and got to my feet. “Come on, let’s eat.”
I pushed the privacy curtains aside as I called out, “Ne, Teuchi-jiisan, Ayame-Chan, I’m back.”
Teuchi turned from the stove with a smile. Teuchi was an older man with dark brown hair beginning to gray, black eyes, and weathered skin. “Naruko-Chan! Good to see you again.”
“Naruko-Chan!” Ayame called out as she reached over the counter to give me a one armed hug. Ayame, Teuchi’s daughter, was a slender girl with long, dark brown hair, large black eyes, and fair skin.
I returned Ayame’s hug before saying, “I’ll have a miso ramen with roasted pork fillet,” and sat down.
“Coming right up,” Teuchi said as he turned back to the stove. The others came in and gave Teuchi their orders too after they sat down as well.
“Naruko, how were you able to learn those jutsu so quickly?” Yūgao asked from my left.
I shrugged. “I did the hand seals like you all showed me and felt the way my chakra flowed through me. After that I kept on adjusting the flow until it felt right and the jutsu did what it was supposed to do. After that I varied the amount and speed of the chakra I put into the jutsu.”
Yūgao shook her head in disbelief. “To think that someone so young could be able to feel and control their chakra flow so well.”
Anko-Nee wrapped her arm around my shoulders from my right as she said, “Of course Naruko-Chan can feel her chakra flow. She’s my imouto and my awesomeness rubbed off on her.”
We all chuckled. “Do any of you know where I can get any scrolls on Futon (Wind) jutsu?” I asked.
“You could probably ask Hokage-Sama,” Kakashi said after a moment of thought. “He has access to an extensive library of jutsu scrolls.”
I nodded in thanks as Teuchi handed me my ramen. I pressed my hands together and said, “Itadakimasu,” before breaking my chopsticks apart and starting to eat as the others were served their meals.
After my third bowl I set my chopsticks down, signaling that I was finished. “Delicious as always Teuchi-Ojiisan.”
“I’m glad you liked it, Naruko-Chan,” he said. I reached for my wallet but stopped as Teuchi said, “No need to pay, this meal is on the house.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course, it was your birthday yesterday. Think of this as a birthday gift.”
“Arigatō.” I hopped off of my stool as the others paid for their meals. I started walking down the street as the others fell into step with me.
We’d barely gone a block before something caught my eye. Turning my head I saw an old woman sitting on a street corner. She was of medium hight with greying brown hair, brown eyes, and a slightly wrinkled face. She met my gaze and gestured for me to come towards her.
I did so and when I came close she said in a worn voice, “Have your future read for three Ryō, Girl.”
“Three Ryō seems a bit steep, Obaasan (Grandmother).”
“I think not, Girl. I have never been wrong about a person’s future,” she said with absolute conviction.
I raised an eyebrow in skepticism but decided to humor her. I handed her the money and the fortune teller took my hand, slowly traced her fingers over my palm as if sampling the finest silk.
She was silent for a moment before saying, “You have a hard path ahead of you, Girl. One of struggle and hardship. But there is a great power lying dormant within you. One that will lead you to be call the Arashi no Megami. There are several beacons of light on your path to help you, Arashi no Megami. The Guide, the Caretaker, the Tiger, the Mirror, the Sister, and the Stone. Treasure these beacons when you find them, Arashi no Megami, for they will give you strength.”
“The Sister?” I asked. “Do you mean Anko-Nee?”
“No, I see another person. One who bares the same burden as you.” Behind me I heard someone gasp.
I glanced back and saw an intense look on Yūgao’s face and Kakashi’s eye was narrowed. I turned back to the fortune teller asking, “Who then? What do you mean by ‘one who bares the same burden as me’? And who’re the others?”
The fortune teller just gave me a grandmotherly smile and said, “You need not worry about that yet, Arashi no Megami. Enjoy the time that you have while you can, but prepare yourself for the future.”
The fortune teller stood and said, “I thank you for your business, Arashi no Megami. Please heed my words, or darkness will take the elemental nations.” Then she walked away until she disappeared in the midday crowds.
I turned to the others asking, “Do any of you a clue about what she told me?”
Anko-Nee shrugged. “All I heard was dormant power, Arashi no Megami, awesome name by the way, and a bunch of beacon thingies.”
I turned to Kakashi and Yūgao. “And you guys?”
Yūgao looked like she was debating with herself before saying, “Perhaps the beacons that she spoke of are symbolic.”
“The Guide, Caretaker, Tiger, Mirror, Sister, and Stone,” I said to myself. “I can see the Stone and Mirror, and perhaps the Tiger, as being symbolic; but not the Guide, Caretaker and Sister.
“Speaking of the Sister, I can’t think of anyone other than Anko-Nee as a sister. But what did that fortune teller mean by the Sister having the same burden as me.” As I finished speaking I saw Yūgao and Kakashi tense.
I narrowed my eyes at them. “You two know something.”
They both did a barely noticeable flinch, but I caught it. “You do know something.”
“What are you talking about, Naru-Chan?” Anko-Nee asked.
“Kakashi-San and Yūgao-San both know something about the Sister beacon and the burden that we both have.”
Anko-Nee rounded on them shouting, “You what!?”
Both lowered their heads and looked away. “We do know,” Yūgao said, “but we’re forbidden from speaking about it.”
Anko-Nee looked like she was ready to explode with rage while the anger that I felt was cold. “Who forbid you to speak about why the village hates me,” I asked in a slow and deliberate voice.
Both Yūgao and Kakashi flinched at the tone of my voice. “Hokage-Sama did, Naruko-Chan,” Kakashi said.
I nodded and started walking towards the Hokage Tower. Behind me I heard Kakashi say, “Naruko-Chan, Hokage-Sama made the order to protect you.”
I didn’t respond. Nor did I look back. I kept walking. Around me I could see the glares of the villagers and hear their whispers. I met each glare with a look colder than ice. Each person withered under my gaze and quickly retreated from my vision.
When I reached the Hokage Tower I immediately went to Jiji’s office. I ignored his secretary’s protests and opened the office door. Inside Jiji was sitting at his desk reading the same orange book that Kakashi reads.
Hearing me come in, Jiji quickly threw his book in a drawer and sat up straight. “Naruko-Chan, what can I do for you?” he asked with a smile.
I stopped in front of his desk and crossed my arms. “You can tell me why the village hates me.”
Jiji paled and asked, “What do you mean?”
“I spoke with someone today. She mentioned a burden that I carry. And last night people called me a demon. They also said that they were going to finish what the Yondaime started seven years ago, the same day I was born. Which also happens to be the day the Kyūbi attacked. That leads me to believe that the Kyūbi and I are connected somehow. Am I wrong?”
Jiji sighed and slumped in his chair. “Where did you hear about the burden that you carry?”
“An old fortune teller that I met after eating lunch with Anko-Nee, Kakashi-San, and Yūgao-San.”
Jiji seemed to grow ten years older before saying, “I made a law decreeing that anyone who spoke of the events that transpired on the night of your birth and the subsequent results would be tried with treason.”
Jiji winced knowing that I only used formal titles for friends when I was angry or showing respect, and he knew that it was the former. “Your kaa-San was the jinchūriki of the Kyūbi no Yōko. That means that it was seal inside of her, keeping it from running rampant. But there’s only one time that her seal weakened enough for the Bijū to escape.”
“Child birth,” I whispered in realization.
“Yes. The Yondaime was with your mother to strengthen the seal to keep the Kyūbi within, but something must have happened during your birth. I don’t know what happened but the Kyūbi escaped and attacked the village. The only way to stop the Kyūbi was to reseal it, but your mother was too weak.”
“He sealed it within me, didn’t he?”
“Yes. A Bijū’s chakra is so strong and corrosive that only a person with undeveloped chakra coils can handle it, otherwise the person would die.”
My shoulders slumped and I hung my head. “So that’s why everyone hates me. I have the Kyūbi sealed inside of me.”
“For what it’s worth, Naruko, I’m sorry for everything you’ve had to endure. I’d hoped that my law would have protected you and let you live a normal life like your mother, but only a few people knew what she held unlike with you.”
“Thanks for telling me, Jiji. I think I’d like to be alone for a while.” I didn’t wait for Jiji to respond before I walked out of his office.
I lowered my head in shame as the door closed behind Naruko-Chan. Shame that I couldn’t have upheld Minato’s dying wish and that I couldn’t have protected Naruko better. I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose, feeling much older than I was. “Tori,” I called out.
In an instant an Anbu member with a bird mask dropped down from the ceiling. “Hokage-Sama.”
“Bring me Kakashi and Yūgao immediately.”
“Hai, Hokage-Sama,” he said before disappearing in a Shunshin (Body Flicker).
I let out a long sigh and rested my head against my bridged hands. Within a few minutes Tori returned with Kakashi and Yūgao. I nodded my thanks and Tori returned to his post.
“What do you need, Hokage-Sama?” Yūgao asked.
“Naruko-Chan was just here and said that someone mentioned the Kyūbi to her. I want you to tell me what happened.”
Kakashi started the story. “We had just finished lunch and were walking through the markets when something caught Naruko-Chan’s eye. It was an old woman of medium hight with greying brown hair, brown eyes, a slightly wrinkled face, and an oval shaped birthmark behind her left ear. She was a fortune teller and claimed that she was never wrong.”
Yūgao picked up the story. “She then took Naruko-Chan’s hand and stroked it for a few moments. After that she said that Naruko-Chan had a hard path ahead of her and that a great power was within her that would lead her to be call the Arashi no Megami.”
“The Arashi no Megami?” I asked.
“Hai, Hokage-Sama,” Yūgao answered.
“Hmm... the Arashi no Megami, the Storm Goddess. An interesting name,” I said to myself. “Please continue.”
Yūgao nodded and continued. “The fortune teller said that there would be several beacons of light on Naruko-Chan’s path. The Guide, Caretaker, Tiger, Mirror, Sister, and Stone.
“When Naruko-Chan asked the fortune teller if Anko-Chan was the Sister the fortune teller said that she saw another person who ‘bore the same burden’ as Naruko.”
I stroked my beard in thought. “The burden obvious refers to the Kyūbi within Naruko-Chan. And the closest thing to a sister for Naruko-Chan with the same burden would be another girl or woman who is a Jinchuriki as well. Is that how Naruko-Chan found out she was a Jinchuriki?”
“Hai, Hokage-Sama,” Kakashi said. “She began to connect the treatment of the villagers towards her with the date of her birth and the lack of information on how the Yondaime defeated the Kyūbi. Once she came to that conclusion she questioned us until we had to answer her.”
I nodded. “What of the other ‘beacons’ that the fortune teller mentioned?”
“We honestly have no idea who or what they could be, Hokage-Sama,” Kakashi said. “Yūgao-Kohai and I were discussing it before Tori-San came to bring us to you. Though, if what that fortune teller said about never being wrong is true then perhaps we should look for those ‘beacons’. If they do help Naruko-Chan then I think it would beneficial to her.”
I nodded again in agreement. “Very well. You two may search within the village. I’ll send a message to Jiraiya-Kun so that he can search outside of the village.
“I want you two to go find Naruko-Chan and make sure that she’s alright.”
They both bowed their heads saying, “Hai, Hokage-Sama,” before leaving.
I turned my chair to look out my window overlooking part of the village. “I’m sorry, Naruko-Chan. For everything,” I muttered to myself.
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