Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > Failing Twilight

Chapter 8: The Traitor

by Shadow_Rebirth 1 Reviews

Category: Naruto - Rating: R - Genres:  - Characters:  - Published: 2008/12/19 - Updated: 2008/12/20 - 6236 words

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Title: Failing Twilight
Author: Shadow Rebirth
Beta Reader: Rukia23
Rating: M
Warnings: Death, blood and gore, coarse language, adult themes, spoilers
Chapter WC: 5,964
Total WC: 44,555
First Written: December 12, 2008
Last Edited: December 19, 2008
Posted: December 19, 2008
Summary: Naruto had learnt from a young age that life could get hectic, but all this chaos with Biju, daimyos, and psychotic missing-nin was going a bit too far. Now just throw in a fourth Great Shinobi War and you've got one pissed off seal master. AU story. No pairings.

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Failing Twilight

Chapter 8
The Traitor

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"Hello, Naruto-kun," Mizuki said with a predatory grin. "Congratulations on passing the exam. I hadn't thought that you would."

Naruto plastered a fake smile onto his face. "Why thank you, Mizuki-sensei. It means a lot that you care," he replied.

If it was possible, Mizuki's grin grew even wider. "Of course, of course," he said. "That's what we teachers are here for. In fact, I'd like to help you even more."

There was something seriously wrong going on here. Naruto was tempted to scream rape, but something in the Chuunin's face told him that whatever was going on was deeper than that. So instead he responded with a polite, "Oh?"

"Yes. You see, there's a secondary test that's offered to those who do exceptionally well on the exam, such as yourself. If you pass this test then you're allowed to choose your teammates."

He was lying. Naruto knew this without a shadow of a doubt. He'd actually read through some of the documents about the premises of the Genin exam. There was a secondary test, true, but that was only after they'd received their teams. Now the only question was why Mizuki would lie about this.

Naruto's eyes narrowed imperceptibly at the Chuunin instructor standing in front of him before he quickly twisted his expression into a smile. "Really?!" he said with faux enthusiasm. "I can choose my teammates?!"

Mizuki waggled one of his fingers. "Not yet, Naruto-kun," he said and the blonde twitched at the familiarity. "You have to pass the test first. Follow me; I'll take you to a secure location where I can tell you the details of the second test."

Naruto nodded eagerly and followed behind the Chuunin as he took off to the rooftops. He followed, torn between staying behind a bit, so that he could keep a good eye on Mizuki, and keeping up with him as so not to appear suspicious, before finally settling on an easy pace a few feet behind the Chuunin.

Mizuki led him through Konoha to a wide balcony. Once there, he proceeded to tell Naruto that he had to steal a special scroll from the Hokage Tower to pass the second exam. The blonde barely prevented himself from sweatdropping. Did the man really expect him to fall for this? It was the Hokage Tower for Kami's sake!

So blatant was Mizuki's plan that for a moment Naruto wondered if this was some sort of loyalty test. He'd heard nothing about such a thing however, so he decided to go with the best course of action that he knew of: Taking the potential traitor to Ibiki. If anyone, the Jounin would be able to work out what was going on.

All Naruto had to do was channel some chakra into his feet and then Shunshin over behind Mizuki and hit a nerve on his neck to knock the man out. It seemed disturbingly easy, but as Iruka had pointed out earlier that day, the unexpected could be deadly. Because he was "merely" a new Genin, Mizuki wrote him off as harmless and that was his fatal mistake.

With a sigh, Naruto shouldered Mizuki's unconscious body and activated his Shunshin tattoo-seal.

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Naruto was up bright and early the next morning, both dreading and anticipating his team assignment. It could turn out good or bad, depending on which people he got. And he still had no idea who his sensei could be.

He hadn't heard from Ibiki about Mizuki yet, so he assumed that the man was indeed a traitor. He wouldn't know for sure until one of the many clones that he had in the Intel Headquarters dispelled though. Perhaps he'd stop by during lunch...

Naruto was one of the last of the students to arrive at the Academy, despite his early rising. He blamed that entirely on his clones; he'd had to sort out a fight between a few of them. Bloody things were too independent sometimes.

Iruka started off the class with a speech about how proud he was of them all and how now that they shinobi everything was going to get harder. Naruto noted that Mizuki was gone.

"Iruka-sensei?" Naruto began after raising his hand. He plastered a confused look over his face. "Where's Mizuki-sensei today?"

The other students began murmuring among themselves, wondering much the same thing. Iruka hesitated for a moment and that gave Naruto all the answer that he needed.

"He's...Unable to come today."

Naruto smirked and Shikamaru shot him a questioning look. Tell you later, the blonde mouthed back, still grinning. Shikamaru rolled his eyes and rested his head in his arms once more.

As Iruka began to read out the teams, Naruto finally focused all of his attention on the instructor. It seemed to take forever for Iruka to read through the names and then, finally—

"Team 7: Uzumaki Naruto, Haruno Sakura, and Uchiha Sasuke. Jounin instructor: Hatake Kakashi."

Naruto's eyes shot up. Hatake Kakashi was their instructor? As in the famous Sharingan Kakashi? And the last Uchiha was on his team as well? This just might turn out to be interesting...But it all depended on them.

"Good luck," Shikamaru grunted. Then he grimaced as his own team was called. "Figures they'd put us all together, just like our parents. Chouji's not so bad—I've known him for years now—but Ino...We've never really managed to get along..."

Naruto patted his friend's shoulder consolingly. "Things can change," he said optimistically. "As teammates, you'll doubtlessly be pulled together."

Shikamaru sighed and nodded. "Well, I suppose it's best to get this over with now, ne?"

A faint grin was his answer. Naruto nodded and then stood up to go over to his own team. Sakura, the pink haired girl, was already sitting next to Sasuke and staring up at him in awe.

"Uh, hi," Naruto said uncomfortably. Sasuke and Sakura stared at him. Naruto twitched. "Um...I'm Uzumaki Naruto. It's nice to...meet you?"

Sakura slowly stood up, a tentative smile on her face. Naruto could tell from her body language that she wasn't quite sure what to make of him. "I'm Haruno Sakura," she said.

"Uchiha Sasuke," the dark haired boy grunted.

Naruto chuckled and weaved his fingers behind his head while grinning. "So, teammates, eh? At least we got a good instructor."

"You know him?" Sakura asked curiously.

The blonde shrugged. "Know of him, at least," he replied. "He's the famous Sharingan Kakashi."

Surprisingly, Sasuke's eyes widened in shock. Naruto had expected the boy to at least know that there was someone else with a sharingan, but apparently not. The blue eyed boy frowned thoughtfully.

"He's the only person who's not an Uchiha to have the sharingan," he said carefully, staring at Sasuke. The other boy was studying him through narrowed eyes. "I'm not sure how he got it." That was partially a lie. He'd read that the sharingan had belonged to his deceased teammate, Uchiha Obito, he just didn't know why it'd been given to him.

"Uchiha?" Sakura questioned. Her wide eyes darted to Sasuke.

"It's my clan's bloodline limit," the Uchiha answered grudgingly. "But supposedly it can only manifest in Uchiha."

The pink haired girl silently nodded in understanding. Her eyes were still glued to Sasuke and a small blush was on her face. Naruto twitched again.

"Er, right. I'm gonna...go now," Naruto said after a moment. "I've got something to take care of. I'll meet up with you again after lunch."

Neither Sasuke nor Sakura heard him. Sasuke was too busy boring a whole in his desk, undoubtedly thinking about their sensei, and Sakura was still staring in awe at her crush. Naruto shrugged and walked away. Behind him, he heard the "conversation" pick up again.

"Sasuke-kun would you like to eat lunch together?"

"No."

Naruto's shoulders shook with silent laughter. Well, if nothing else, his team was at least going to be a source of amusement.

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Naruto strode into Ibiki's office without bothering to knock. Then his face faulted for a moment when he caught sight of the Jounin passed out on his desk. He sighed before kicking the base of the desk. Hard.

Ibiki jolted awake and was out of his seat almost faster than Naruto's eyes could track. The older man was already in a fighting position, a kunai in hand, when his eyes landed on Naruto. He glared.

"What the hell was that for, brat?!" Ibiki barked.

Naruto sent him a cheeky grin. "You shouldn't be sleeping on the job, Ibiki-sempai."

Still glaring, Ibiki sat back down in his desk. "I wouldn't be sleeping if I hadn't been up half the night because of you," he growled. Then his face fell and he sighed while rubbing his face with one hand. "Turns out that Mizuki was indeed a traitor and I had to spend the past day getting everything out of him. Hokage-sama was pissed to find out since the man was an Academy teacher...It's going to take a while to figure out exactly what damage he's done." He smirked again. "Which means more paperwork for you."

Ignoring the barb, Naruto frowned deeply. "He was trying to steal the Forbidden Scroll, wasn't he?" the Genin questioned. "The one that's in Hokage-sama's office? But...How did he know about it? It's not exactly common knowledge and Mizuki was just a Chuunin Academy instructor.

"Exactly," Ibiki replied with a solemn nod. "We know that he was taking orders from someone and now all that remains is to find out who. Unfortunately, Mizuki is turning out to be alarmingly resilient. I'm starting to wonder if something is going on beyond your usual power hungry spy..."

Naruto's frown deepened even further. "Could I try...talking...to him sometime?" he asked.

Ibiki chucked. "Sure, why not, kid. But not today; you've got to meet Hatake first, don't you?"

The Genin started in surprise. "How did you—" he cut himself off with a shake of his head. "Never mind. I don't know why I'm surprised that you already knew about my team. Speaking of which, I should probably get going if I want to eat lunch today—"

"Sorry, Naruto," Ibiki interrupted with a shark-like grin. "But I'm afraid you'll have to skip that meal today. Now that you're a shinobi I can finally follow some procedures that I couldn't before."

Naruto froze. "Er, what?"

Ibiki picked a small, black square up off his desk. "This," he began, "Is a chakra chip. It uses similar technology to what's in chakra headsets, but serves a completely different purpose. These chakra chips are embedded in the back of the neck of everyone ranked Chuunin or higher or, as is in your case, in everyone who is a part of the Intel Department. From here, the Intel Headquarters, we're able to use the chips to track and identify anyone within five hundred miles of Konoha. This is especially useful for when shinobi are taken captive and for monitoring people coming through the gates.

With wide eyes, Naruto stared at the chip resting innocently in Ibiki's palm. Then his gaze narrowed. "But...can't the chip be taken out?"

"Unfortunately," his superior answered with a sigh, "That's a problem that we haven't been able to fix as of yet. If a shinobi goes rogue or if they're captured by someone who knows about the chips then the chips are relatively easy to remove and destroy. We've considered placing the chips over a vital spot on the body, but the procedure is far too risky."

Thoughtfully tapping his chin, Naruto stared off into space. These "chakra chips" sounded fascinating, but the flaws seemed too vivid. Though he had to admit that they reminded him off his—

"Tattoos."

Ibiki stared. "...What?"

"Tattoos," Naruto repeated, suddenly looking eager. "What if you used tattoos instead of chips? Then not only would they be much, much harder to remove, but you could graft skin over the tattoo to hide it."

"A very interesting and unique idea, to be sure," Ibiki replied while fighting back a smile. "But there's just one problem: These chips work because they store chakra that is released in pulses when we activate them here in Konoha. Exactly how would we manage to do that with a tattoo?"

"Not just a tattoo," Naruto said impatiently, "But seals. The ink for the tattoo just has to be laced with chakra and the user's blood, somewhat similar to the ink used with regular seals." As he spoke, Naruto pulled out his notebook again and began to quickly flip through it. He voice dropped a little as he began mumbling to himself. "If I combine a chakra containment seal and a minor summoning seal, with the appropriate limits—"

"Hold on there, kid," the Jounin suddenly interrupted. There was a clear note of incredulity in his voice. "Are you trying to tell me that you can create a new seal?"

Naruto looked up from his notebook, blinking in surprise. "Uh, yeah. Of course I can," he said slowly. "The majority of the seals I use are either created from scratch or revised in some way."

"Well I'll be damned," Ibiki whistled. "I'd known you worked with seals, but not that you did so to this extent. Why the hell didn't you tell me?"

Oh Ibiki just walked into that one. "Because you never asked."

Ibiki rolled his eyes. "Oh, of course," he said sarcastically. "Thank you so much for that deep and moving reply. Anyway, do you think you might be able to devise a seal like the one you're talking about?"

"Definitely," Naruto replied with a resolute nod. "It shouldn't be too difficult because it's not coming completely from scratch. Just give me a few weeks and I'll be done."

That dark grin that made Ibiki's scars twist in all sorts of interesting ways returned. "Good, good," he chuckled. "But in the mean time you're still going to need this chip."

Something about the expression on Ibiki's face made Naruto want to run away screaming. It was moments like these that he was forcefully reminded that Ibiki was nothing if not a sadist. But instead of fleeing, Naruto sighed resignedly.

"Alright. Let's get this over with."

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Naruto cursed aloud as he used Shunshin to get back to the Academy. His discussion with Ibiki and the implanting of the chip had taken a lot longer than he'd expected and now he was way late for his meeting with his team. Why, oh why, hadn't he thought of leaving a Kage Bunshin at the Academy while he went to visit Ibiki? Hell, why hadn't he just sent a Kage Bunshin in his place?

As soon as the blonde haired boy appeared in the classroom he looked around quickly, expecting everyone to be gone. Instead he came face to face with the shocked visages of Sasuke and Sakura.

The three Genin stared at each other, frozen in place, for several long seconds. "Uh...Hi?" Naruto ventured.

Sasuke twitched. That couldn't be a good sign. Wincing imperceptibly, Naruto folded his hands across his chest.

"Sorry about being late," Naruto continued warily. His eyes were glued to Sasuke's. "I had something to take care of, but I didn't expect it to take so long."

Sakura scowled at him. "We're Genin now, Naruto," she scolded. "You can't be late or skip out like you did in the Academy; this is the real world."

Naruto took a moment to stare at her, thoroughly amused by her words. She was lecturing him about the real world? How utterly twisted.

"Of course, Sakura-san," he replied dryly. The girl halted, suddenly looking uncertain. "Thank you for that...informative bit of wisdom." He glanced around the room once more. "Where's our sensei anyway?"

"Late," Sasuke said abruptly. "He hasn't come yet. That jutsu you used...It was Shunshin, correct?"

"Eh?" Naruto blinked in surprise. "Uh, yeah it was."

"Where'd you learn it?"

Naruto shifted uncomfortably. This conversation was starting to get really awkward. Perhaps it'd be best if he steered it in another direction.

"Around," Naruto answered evasively. He shrugged. "I like to travel, so I've managed to pick some things up."

Sasuke frowned again. "Travel? I thought you were an orphan."

Oh shit. Maybe that hadn't been the best topic to choose. "I am," he answered shortly. Sasuke continued to stare at him.

Fortunately, the three new Genin were rescued from the ensuing tense silence by the opening of the classroom door. A man with spiky silver hair and a mask covering the bottom part of his face stuck his head inside and Naruto instantly recognized him as Hatake Kakashi.

The Jounin's single visible eye swept across the room briefly. Even with the mask, Naruto could tell that his face was stoic. Then, slowly, he smiled. It was not a good smile, the blonde thought with a shiver.

"Meet me on the roof."

And then Kakashi was gone, as though he'd never been there in the first place. Naruto resisted the urge to sigh again. He considered using the Shunshin technique to get up onto the roof, but a single glance at the annoyed faces of his teammates made him decide that that would be a bad idea. His relationship with them was already strained; there was no need to make things even worse than they already were.

The three Genin were silent as they trudged up to the roof. Kakashi was waiting for them there, leaning against a railing that split the two sections of the roof. He smiled at them again as they took a seat on the steps in front of him, but the only feeling Naruto could read off him was annoyance.

Great, just great, Naruto thought with an internal groan. He just had to get the Jounin sensei who didn't want any students. This was going to turn out just lovely.

"My name is Hatake Kakashi," Kakashi began after a moment of silence, "And I might be your Jounin instructor."

"'Might be'?" Sakura repeated, confused. "What do you me—"

Kakashi made a sharp motion with his hand and Sakura instantly shut her mouth with an audible click. She hunched her shoulders a bit, looking nervous.

"As I was saying," Kakashi continued in bored voice, "I might be your instructor, but only if you pass the secondary Genin exam. But we'll talk about that later. First are introductions, since I don't know who you are."

A small frown slipped onto Naruto's face. The blonde knew perfectly well that all Jounin instructors were given detailed reports on their students, including all observations that their Academy instructors had made. Had Kakashi not read the reports, or was he just not revealing what he knew?

"I'm Uchiha Sasuke," the dark haired boy abruptly said, taking the initiative. He lifted his chin and looked Kakashi directly in the eye. Naruto had no doubt that he was still thinking about the sharingan. The way his gaze then locked onto the hitai-ate covering their teacher's left eye was confirmation of this.

In contrast to Sasuke's firm voice, Sakura was much more tentative after Kakashi's earlier silent rebuke. "H-Haruno Sakura."

Kakashi, Sasuke, and Sakura all glanced over at Naruto expectantly. For whatever reason, Naruto suddenly felt annoyance rise up within him. This was not what he'd expected being a shinobi to be like. Maybe shinobi were supposed to follow orders without question, but at the moment he couldn't bring himself to give a damn. And so instead, he crossed his arms in front of him and glared defiantly at Kakashi.

"I can't say that I think much of your skills as a shinobi if ya don't already know what our freakin' favorite foods are, let alone our names," Naruto said coolly.

To his great surprise, Kakashi just laughed in response. "I must say," he commented, "I didn't have you pegged for a wise-ass, Naruto-kun." The Genin bristled at the implied familiarity. "But aren't you worried that I'll just fail you and send you back to the Academy here and now? I could do that, you know."

For a single horrifying moment, Naruto's stomach dropped as he realized that Kakashi might be one of those shinobi who despised him for a being a Jinchuuriki. But...such beliefs were at odds with the Jounin's current expression; there was no hatred in his eyes, nor any disgust. No, instead there was amusement.

It was then that Naruto realized that Kakashi was toying with him.

He couldn't help but feel the urge to laugh then and immediately did so, ignoring how his teammates jumped in surprise. "I'm sure that you could," Naruto agreed with a grin. "But there wouldn't be any fun in that for you, now would there?"

A true grin overtook Kakashi face and he nodded cheerfully. Sasuke and Sakura looked between them, disbelief and confusion written on their faces.

"What just happened?" Sakura whispered to Sasuke. The dark haired boy just grunted in response.

"Well then," Kakashi said, clapping his hands together. His entire demeanor had changed from cold and callous to cheerful and amicable. "Now that we all know each other, let's get on with what this meeting is really about, ne? The secondary test I mentioned earlier is the 'real' Genin exam. The Academy exam was just to weed out all those who had no chance at becoming Genin. The true test will allow a much smaller amount of Genin to pass. In fact, on average there's a 66 percent failure rate."

Sakura gasped in surprise. "But, but, why wouldn't Iruka-sensei tell us about this?" she demanded.

Kakashi laughed once more, but this time there was a slightly sadistic note in his voice. "They didn't want to frighten you all away," he replied gleefully. "My test in particular is going to be so much fun. Just show up at training ground #7 tomorrow morning at six." He stood up, brushed some non-existent dirt from his pants, and then smirked broadly. "Oh, and don't eat anything; you'll just throw it up."

And then he was gone.

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"Erhg," Naruto groaned. His head collided sharply with the polished wood of Haru's bar.

The barkeeper just looked on with amusement. "Interesting day, Naruto?" he asked.

"That's one way to put it," Naruto answered dryly. He lifted his head up and propped his chin up in his palm. "I got to meet my Jounin sensei today. Hatake Kakashi is...different. He's not at all what I expected."

Haru snorted. "When are they ever? You're a shinobi now, Naruto. There's always going to be an illusion covering everything."

"Too true," Naruto murmured. "Too true..." He sighed before abruptly perking up as he remembered something. "Hey, you got Daichi's address, right?"

"Tasuki's brother? Sure."

Naruto nodded firmly. "Good. I'd like to visit him sometime. He said he lived in Fire Country's capital right?

Haru let out a sharp bark of laughter. "Fire Country's capital?" he said. "Hell no! He lives in Keiraku, the Capital."

The blonde's eyes widened in shock. Well that changed things quite a bit. Keiraku was the capital of the continent, where the Emperor—the Sun Lord, the very man who all the daimyo served under—lived. It was, as Haru had said, the capital.

"Oh wow," Naruto breathed. "Daichi actually lives there? I've heard that it's incredible; it's at least ten times as big as Fire Country's capital! The skyscrapers there are more than fifty stories and—"

"Whoa, whoa, slow down there, Naruto-kun," Haru chuckled. "We all know about Keiraku; it's legendary. Of course, so few people from around here get to see it because it's so far to the west, but...Well, I suppose that it just adds to the mystery of it, ne?" He winked playfully. "Maybe you'll get to go there one day and visit Daichi, eh?"

"Maybe one day," the Genin repeated quietly. He shook his head as if to clear it. "I'm going to go talk to Ibiki now; I'll see you later Haru."

"Whatever, kid," Haru replied jovially. "And good luck tomorrow!"

Naruto waved over his shoulder in reply as he stepped out of the tavern. He shoved his hands into his pockets and wound his way through the streets of Konoha, watching absently as the crowds slowly thickened around him. Before long, the boy was in the middle of Konoha's market sector. Only a few turns later and he was stepping inside Konoha's Intel Headquarters.

The shinobi standing guard inside didn't even bat his eyes as Naruto strode by. The blonde didn't spare him a glance either.

The winding halls of the building were a maze—complete with traps and Genjutsu—to most anyone. However, to Naruto, who'd been exploring these halls since he'd been five years old, it was easier to navigate than his rarely used apartment. He knew each passage so well that he could probably find his way around in his sleep.

Naruto stopped off at his own office first. It was tiny—or at least seemed that way because it was practically overflowing with paperwork. Two of Naruto's clones were inside, diligently working away.

"Hey Boss!" one of the clones greeted without looking up.

"You done with the papers?" Naruto asked.

The second clone grinned and then dispelled itself, unloading its memories into Naruto's mind. This included everything about Mizuki that the clone had found and read over the past day, from his parents' names to his favorite food. It was necessary for what was happening next.

"All the necessary forms are filed," the first clone answered. "You can go straight into Mizuki's cell."

Naruto nodded his thanks and then left the small office to go find Ibiki. When the scarred man wasn't in his office, the Genin shrugged and continued on.

The Intel Department's interrogation and detention cells were on the bottom floor of the building, which had been jokingly nicknamed the ID base—interrogation and detention base—by the Headquarters' workers. There was actually more than a hundred feet between the ID base and the floor above it. The two were connected only by a single chute that was encased in a chakra-repelling steel alloy. This same metal encased the entire ID base, ten feet thick at any given point. Shinobi guarded the floor in rotations and every corner of the building was monitored by video cameras and seals.

The only more secure place in Konoha was the war bunker buried 500 feet underneath the Hokage Tower.

And of course, blocking the chute to the ID base was a three foot thick seal-locked door. Naruto grinned at the sight of it, remembering the first time he'd seen it seven years ago; the first time he'd truly met Ibiki. Back then he hadn't been able to open the door no matter how hard he'd pulled. He still couldn't open it, of course, but now he understood why.

"Oi, Yuugo, where's Ibiki?" Naruto called to the Chuunin guard standing near the door.

Yuugo shrugged. "Down in the ID base," he replied.

Naruto scowled in annoyance. Only the Hokage and the head of the Intel Department could open the vault door. And the current head was Ibiki. Who, at the moment, was inside the base.

Yuugo rolled his eyes. "Hold on, Naruto-kun," he grumbled. "I'll contact Ib—"

"No need," an older voice rumbled behind them. Yuugo's eyes widened in shock and he quickly dipped into a bow.

"Hokage-sama!"

Naruto spun around and found himself staring into the withered face of Sarutobi Hiruzen, the Sandaime Hokage. The elder shinobi's kind eyes were a pale blue and Naruto saw his own reflection staring back at him.

"Hokage-sama," Naruto echoed after a moment, bowing as well.

Sarutobi chuckled and, to Naruto's shock, bowed his own head in response. "Uzumaki Naruto."

The Sandaime walked over to the vault door and Naruto and Yuugo automatically moved out of the way. He placed his hand in the center of the seal and channeled a brief burst of chakra in to it. The seals glowed briefly as they processed the chakra. Then, with an almost inaudible click, the door opened. Sarutobi stepped into the elevator shaft inside and gestured for Naruto to follow him, which the blonde did without hesitation.

As soon as the door had closed behind them, Sarutobi channeled another burst of chakra into a seal on the shaft wall. Immediately, the platform beneath their feet began to move downwards. Almost everything in the Intel Headquarters was run on chakra instead of electricity; that way a blackout wouldn't affect them. The Hokage Tower was the same way.

"You're going to visit Mizuki, I assume?" Sarutobi asked.

Naruto nodded. "I'm curious," he admitted. "I'd like to see what he had to say."

"You should be... alert," Sarutobi said after a moment and Naruto could tell that he was picking his words carefully. "Mizuki holds no love for you..."

"Because of the Kyuubi," Naruto supplied. The widening of the Sandaime's eyes told him that Sarutobi hadn't known that he knew about his Jinchuuriki status. "I figured it out quite a few years ago," he quickly continued. "The seal on my stomach isn't exactly...subtle."

The elder Hokage chuckled and patted Naruto on the shoulder before growing serious again. "That is true," he agreed, "But it also is all the more reason for you to be wary around Mizuki. He is, unfortunately, among those who hold an extreme dislike for you because of the Kyuubi. That is doubtlessly why he singled you out yesterday...Well, that and your rather interesting academic record."

Naruto couldn't help but a crack a grin. From what he'd heard of the Sandaime, he'd expected the man to be an overly serious bookworm, or something of the sort. He was much, much warmer than he'd expected and Naruto found himself relaxing in the man's presence.

When the elevator platform came to a halt at the bottom of the chute, the bottom floor opened up immediately before it. There was large room that held a group of several desks and filing cabinets directly before them and a long hallway behind that, leading to the detention cells.

Standing in the middle of the room was Ibiki and half a dozen other shinobi. Ibiki almost gaped for a moment when Naruto and Sarutobi stepped off the lift. He quickly schooled his expression and strode over to meet them.

"Hokage-sama. To what do I owe this visit?" Ibiki asked formally.

"Just dropping by," Sarutobi replied with another chuckle. He glanced over at Naruto. "Go on ahead, Naruto-kun. It was nice to finally get to meet you."

The blonde haired boy bowed once more and then swiftly walked over to one of the other kunoichi.

"Hey, Kana, I—"

"I know, Naruto-kun," the kunoichi replied with a small smile. "I've already gotten the paperwork. You'll have a half an hour. Come, I'll lead you to Mizuki's cell."

Naruto felt as though he was thrumming with energy as he followed Kana down the long hall. It wasn't that he was excited about talking to Mizuki or anything, but the traitor was a puzzle. And there were few things Naruto loved more than a puzzle. Who was the man he was taking orders from? What had his goal been? And why?

They passed by many cell doors along the way and Naruto peered inside curiously. He'd only been down in the ID base a few times before and never this far back. Most of the prisoners that he saw were chained to the walls with their fingers bound so that they couldn't perform jutsu. Their chains were inscribed with special seals that repressed their chakra.

Eventually, Kana stopped in front of one of the ID base's interrogation rooms. Mizuki was seated in a chair in the middle with his arms and legs bound. He was caked with dirt and blood, but seemed relatively unharmed.

Kana nodded once to Naruto and then took up position right next to the door, readying to interfere if necessary. Naruto mimicked the gesture before turning back to Mizuki. During their exchange the pale haired man had head lifted his head so that his dark eyes were glowering at Naruto.

"You!" Mizuki hissed.

The Genin grinned. "Me," he agreed. "Hello again, Mizuki/-sensei./ Enjoying your stay? I hear the Intel Department has some rather nice accommodations.

Mizuki hissed in wordless fury. He thrashed against his binds as Naruto strode closer, as though wanting to throttle the boy, but was unable to move even an inch. After a few minutes he settled once more, still glaring with a palpable hatred that seemed to thicken the air around them.

"What do you want?" he finally asked.

"The truth would be nice," Naruto replied, "But I doubt I'm going to get it."

He turned his attention away from the traitor for a moment to find a chair and pull it up in front of Mizuki. Then he sat cross-legged in it and rested his chin in his palms so that he could study the Chuunin.

"Why did you want to steal the Forbidden Scroll?" Naruto asked curiously.

Mizuki scoffed. "You really think I'm going to tell you that?" he sneered.

Naruto shrugged. "You tell me. I—"

"Shut up!" Mizuki howled. Though still enraged, his face had taken on a hint of insanity. "Let me ask you something instead! You want to know why all the villagers hate you? You want to know why?!"

"Let me guess," Naruto stated in a bored tone. "Because I've got the Kyuubi no Kitsune sealed in me?" He had to admit that Mizuki's taken aback expression was quite satisfying. "Yeah, not that much of a shock, sensei. I learned about the Kyuubi years and years ago. And frankly, morons like you who are unable to see the fact that I'm not a 200 foot tall mass of chakra are annoying. So please don't go into the 'you are a demon' speech that it looked like you were about to use."

The Chuunin's rage reached new heights, which was exactly what Naruto had been aiming for. Another few sniping comments and the man was once again struggling in his seat, spewing out insults. It was rather difficult for Naruto to suppress a triumphant grin.

"If you're such an incredible shinobi then why couldn't you get the Scroll yourself?" Naruto asked with a pretentious scoff. "You had to ask a Genin—"

"Well of course I was going to blame it on you!" Mizuki snapped. "Then I could kill you and be hailed as a hero so that no one would notice when I left to give the Scr—" His mouth instantly shut and the Chuunin began cursing internally.

Naruto finally allowed his grin to show. Like most people, Mizuki had a looser tongue when riled up. He'd accidentally let something slip.

"So you are working for someone," the blonde commented. His head was tilted to the side as he purposefully played the part of an innocent boy. Even if Mizuki didn't believe the act it'd have an unconscious effect on him. "Who?"

Lips tightly sealed, Mizuki turned his head to glare at the wall. Naruto sighed, realizing that he would get nothing else from the traitor this day. The man had realized that he'd said too much and would be far more careful now, if he even said anything at all.

Naruto turned to leave, nodding to Kana once more. As soon as he stepped out of the interrogation room however he froze, seeing Ibiki and the Hokage standing just outside, both wearing contemplative expressions.

They'd been listening.

"Uh," Naruto hesitated, staring at the two powerful shinobi. He sketched a quick bow and began to slide past them. "Hokage-sama, Ibiki-sempai."

Was it just his imagination or had there been a pair of eyes staring at him as he left?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A/N: I know that some people wanted Naruto to be on a different team from canon and I did seriously consider giving him different teammates. However, what I have planned for this story will only really work with Sasuke and Sakura. Granted, that certainly doesn't mean that they won't change from what their canon characters are like.

I've decided to give the continent an Emperor, since the government already works so much like feudal era Japan. Keiraku will be talked about later on. And more about chakra chips will be explained later on as well. And yes, Mizuki will play a slightly larger roll in this story. I'll say nothing more than that though.

This is completely unrelated, but...I was just rereading Jiraiya's fight with Pain when I realized something: Jiraiya has a nose piercing. Huh...Well, either that or it's a wart. It's kind of hard to tell.

Thanks for all your reviews! More info on this story can be found at www(DOT)groups(DOT)yahoo(DOT)com/group/ShadowRebirthFanfiction.

--S.R.
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