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Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Love Hina.
A/N: Just a reminder that I won't be signalling sexual content in this fic. The first explicit one happens in this chapter, although it has been completely rewritten from the original version.
(sigh) This rewriting business is getting on my nerves. It takes me almost as long to rewrite a chapter as it does to write one. And when I'm finished… I feel like I haven't actually written anything.
Arc 2 Searching. Chapter 03: Sea Monster and Sky Empress.
Naruto sighed contentedly. He had never played in the sand pits in Konoha. It hadn't been because he wasn't allowed, or because he would have been chased away with thrown pebbles. Although that probably would have happened if he had tried. It had simply been because he had better things to do.
The first time that he had walked on sand was on the shores of the Land of Waves. He had been wearing boots, however, and thus hadn't really thought about it.
Now, as he curled his toes in the warm, fine grained, white sands on the beach of an exotic island, Naruto was unduly happy for the fact. It was silly, he knew, but how many people could claim that their first experience of something as trivial as the sensation of sand, was walking barefoot in a natural paradise?
Once again, he sighed in content. It was the 'little things' that made Life beautiful.
The sound of laughter drew his attention to the fourteen women that were lounging around the beach and frolicking in the sun-heated turquoise sea.
It had been two weeks since they had left the land of Waves, slowly cruising southwards to the Land of Sea. They could have been there by now, but everyone had agreed that a leisurely voyage would be better than a fast trip. After what the women had been through, it wasn't surprising that they weren't in a hurry, especially with the uncertainty of how their families would react to their ordeal.
Naruto suspected that they wanted, needed, some time to reconcile themselves with what had happened to them, and with the fact that it was well and truly over.
Besides, Naruto himself wasn't in a hurry. He didn't have anything better to do and he rather liked the company.
Back in Wave, he had made good friends with Tazuna without much effort. The man was blunt, and straightforward, but otherwise easy to get along with. He was also quite intelligent, and a fountain of knowledge in his own area of expertise, which was something that Naruto could respect.
The slow boat trip gave him time to continue socializing, and to slowly shed the awkwardness that resulted from his aloofness in Konoha. He wasn't becoming a party creature by any stretch of the mind. Nor did he particularly trust any of them. But he was, as the saying goes, coming out of his shell.
Naruto also found that he loved sailing aboard the 'Sea Empress', as his yacht was called.
In his Demon Form, wind and water simply glanced off of his scales and slid over his feathers. So, while he did enjoy the sheer thrill of high speed flight or swimming, it didn't allow him to relish in the sensation of the soft salty breeze that would brush over the deck and ruffle his hair while cruising on the luxury yacht.
It hadn't taken him too long to learn how to pilot the vessel, although there had been a few close calls. Once he had gotten the hang of it, he had mostly left the wheel to a Clone, so that he himself could do other things.
He still did his training using groups of Clones. It had taken almost a week, and a godly amount of them, but his youki control was now good enough that he could water walk with ease.
That, in turn, had given him access to a much larger training area, the sea. Since his Clones could walk on water, he had made the most of it by using the large surface to increase their numbers. For a while, he had been worried about drawing unwanted attention, what with having a veritable army of Clones practicing various Ninja Arts. But after the first few days, he had realised that that was unlikely to happen.
The area that they were travelling through wasn't one that Shinobi were likely to bother with. By land, a Ninja could travel at great speeds. If unimpeded, it wouldn't take a Chunin more than half a day to get from one side of Fire Country to the other. As such, boats and other means of sea travel were only used when there was no other alternative.
The space available on board the yacht had been dedicated entirely to the Clones that were studying the contents of his scroll. They hadn't finished yet, but they had already worked their way through almost half of the material at their disposition. His general knowledge, especially on Civilian Skills, had skyrocketed.
His Fuuinjutsu had also drastically improved, which, considering his already high level, was quite an accomplishment.
In Konoha, because of the time consuming way in which he studied, only moving on to a new seal when he was sure that he completely understood every detail of the first, Naruto had mostly studied the 'best' seals. The ones that had the best reputation or that worked in the most efficient way.
Now that he had the manpower to study all of them simultaneously, he was amazed at the various ways in which Fuuinjutsu could be used to do the same thing.
A good example were the seals that could be used to heat things up. One version would 'simply' convert Normal Chakra into Fire Chakra. Another version would 'vibrate' the molecules above it to produce heat. And yet another version would first convert Normal Chakra into Lightning Chakra, then use it to heat up a metal plate, which in turn could heat up whatever the user wanted.
There were many, many instances where small variations, or different approaches, could make similar Fuuinjutsu more or less effective. The fact that none of the Journeymen and Masters who wrote the books and scrolls seemed to pick up on this, gave Naruto a rather poor opinion of them. He wouldn't deny their skill, but he found that their short-sightedness limited their ability.
One of the things that Naruto no longer agreed with was the progression levels. One of the first books that he had read on Fuuinjutsu stated that a seal user could rise from Novice, to Journeyman, to Master, and that some talented few could even rise to Space-Time Manipulation. What bothered him was that the most basic seal, the General Sealing Method, created a pocket dimension in which things could be preserved.
How could the creation of a new dimension, no mater how small, not qualify as a manipulation of Time and Space?
Naruto was now starting to believe that Fuuinjutsu should be divided into categories, and each category would have its own progression bar. Space-Time Manipulation would be one-such category, and Soul Manipulation, such as his Remoulding, would be another category.
There were probably plenty more, but he would wait until he had read everything in his possession before he attempted a true classification.
Two weeks into their voyage, they had come close to this beautiful paradise-like island and had decided to stop for a couple of days of relaxation.
There were a few dinghies on the yacht, so, after the 'Sea Empress' set anchor, they had used them to get to the shore. The three days since their arrival had been a pleasant blur of sun bathing, swimming, and beach barbecues.
Naruto laid back and stared up at the blue, cloudless sky. His Clones had found the answers to all the projects that he had set them. Theoretical answers at least.
When trying to understand why he could change into a Winged Giant Serpent, but not modify his Human Form, they had come to the conclusion that he had two 'Images' of himself. The first was a 'Mental Image'. It was his mind's representation of his physical self, and it wasn't something that he could change at will. It would change gradually, over time, but it would be a matter of months and years. Luckily the change to his Mental Image was still fast enough that his 'physical training' was progressing much faster than a human's would.
The second Image was a 'Soul Image'. It was the soul's representation of itself. In his case, a cross between some sort of avian and a sea serpent. That also explained the similarity to his Tamashiiken since that too was a representation of his soul.
The two Images were very closely connected. He found that the best way to distinguish them was to say that the Mental Image represented Who he was, while the Soul Image represented What he was.
The reason his Clones were incapable of changing from one Form to the other, was because they didn't have a soul, and thus didn't have a Soul Image to enable the shift. That was also why they couldn't use the Chakra Accelerator, because it was connected to his soul.
Naruto looked up to see two women standing in front of him. He only blushed a little at the small bikinis they were wearing, having mostly gotten used to it over the last few days.
He was glad, however, that he had much better control over his body than most humans did. Otherwise, their skimpy clothing, combined with his high sexual urges and the fact that they were all very attractive women, would have forced him into an almost permanent state of arousal. And given his recent… growth spurt, it would have been embarrassingly obvious.
Naruto got to his feet. "Haruna-san, and Kaede-san, right? What can I do for you?"
They nodded in acknowledgment. "Yep! That's right! We wanted to start cooking, but there isn't enough meat for everyone. There's plenty of the rest, but we need a bit more meat. Would you mind going to the ship to get some for us? It'll be faster than us taking the dinghy."
Naruto smiled. "Sure… What meat did you want me to get?"
"We're doing lamb today, unless you want something different?"
He shook his head and started walking. "No, lamb's great! I'll get that for you right now. Are you sure that you don't need something else?"
"Nothing that we can think of at the moment."
With a wave of his hand, Naruto ran across the water surface and jumped on board the yacht. He walked to the kitchen, opened the walk-in refrigerator, and selected what he had been asked to get.
He was about to return to the beach when a Clone intercepted him.
"Boss! I think I've got a good solution for our sexual frustration problem."
Naruto quirked an eyebrow in interest. He created another Clone to take the meat to the beach, then signalled the first to elaborate.
"It's quite simple really. You just have to make a Shadow Clone and have it use the Transformation jutsu that Kasumi-san invented to turn into a hot female. Then…"
Naruto waved a hand in irritation. "I've already thought of that. Which you should be well aware of! The idea is fine in theory, but the memory feedback makes it… undesirable."
They both shivered at the prospect. Naruto had a healthy respect for the female gender, but he certainly didn't want to experience that sort of memory.
The Clone recovered and pulled out a paper tag with a seal on it. "I know that boss. But I've been studying a memory altering seal and I came up with this."
Naruto took the tag and the Clone dispelled, returning its memories to its creator.
Memory altering seals were similar to Genjutsu seals. The false memory was basically a Genjutsu placed on the target to replace the real memory. If the Genjutsu was ever dispelled, the seal would detect the disruption and immediately replace it. The true difficulty didn't come from the seal work, but from the precision that was needed to create a false memory subtle enough that it wouldn't alert the victim's attention.
The modified seal that the Clone had presented didn't require a Genjutsu. When it detected the chakra disruption, in this case the dispelling of the female Clone that it would be applied to, the seal would dump a massive 'blank' memory.
It should happen fast enough to affect the memory feedback, and would effectively prevent Naruto from gaining any female experiences.
With a thought, Naruto created a Clone, then applied the seal. Like most Fuuinjutsu, it could be translated into hand seals. It made it a little harder to use, but thanks to his profound understanding of the art, Naruto barely noticed the difference.
He looked at the Clone inquiringly. "So…"
The Clone blinked, then shrugged. "I feel fine. Nothing unusual."
Naruto nodded then punched the Clone in the face.
He waited for a few moment, then grinned when the last wisps of smoke from the destroyed Clone vanished. He sighed in disappointment when he felt memories flittering into his mind, but frowned when he realised they were from the meat carrying Clone that he had sent to the beach, dispelling itself after handing the food over to the cooks and explaining to them that the boss would be over later.
He concentrated on the Clone that had been in front of him. There wasn't a hint of a memory. The seal had worked perfectly.
With a bounce in his step, Naruto headed straight to his cabin.
He locked the door, just in case some of the girls decided to come back to the yacht.
He paused in consideration. Clone or not, he didn't want to force a part of himself to pleasuring a male. So simply creating a Clone and having it Transform into a female wouldn't be sufficient.
He closed his eyes in concentration and tried to imagine being a girl.
A cloud of smoke covered the room, more than usual because of the concentration he had put into it. When it cleared, it revealed that the Clone had already done the Transformation.
She looked about his age and she was slightly shorter than him, her hairline being about level with his eyes. She had the same white-blonde hair as him, but it reached all the way down to her waist and was split into two long pony tails.
Her eyes were the same dark green as his. Her lips were thin and glistened slightly in a damp pink colour.
Her skin was a pale creamy-white colour that looked absolutely delicious, without a single pubic hair on her body. Her breasts were C, borderline D-cups, which, combined with her slender waist, gave her a perfect hourglass figure. Her legs were long and slender.
He nodded appreciatively. "So… How do you feel?"
She shrugged, making her firm mounds jiggle up and down enticingly. "I feel like a girl. Or at least… I feel like what I think being a girl would feel like."
Naruto applied the seal to the back of her neck. "And how do you feel about what we're about to do?"
She tilted her head to the side. "Fine. Eager even. I still have the same 'urge' you do, but I want to deal with them as a girl rather than a boy…"
Naruto's eyebrows rose in interest. He knew that a Shadow Clone could be created with a specific objective, but it seemed that their mentality could also be molded upon creation. It was better than he had hoped.
"What about my memories? I'm male in all of them so… do you still have them?"
She nodded slowly. "I have them, but… I don't remember being a boy. No, I do remember being a boy, but not feeling like a boy. I feel as if… as if, in all those memories, your memories, I was actually a girl using a Transformation to pose as a boy. You know what I mean."
Naruto nodded, he did know what she meant. If he were to Transform into a girl, he would have the memories of being a girl, but he would still feel, as far as his mentality was concerned, as if he was a boy.
The female Clone got to her knees and pulled his trousers down. "Let's get to it shall we? You created me to have stimulating sex! Not to have a stimulating conversation!"
He frowned at her as she pulled down his boxers. "You know… you're rather mouthy. My Clones are usually more docile and simply do their jobs."
"I'm trying to do my job! Like I said you created me to have sex! As for being mouthy, you've been resisting your sexual urges since you were five! When you created me you didn't include that resistance!"
To prove her point, she gave her creator's still flaccid cock a few quick jerks before popping it in her mouth. She swirled her tongue around sloppily, making up for her complete lack of technique with an inhuman amount of enthusiasm.
She was rewarded by Naruto's meat snapping to full mast almost instantly. Blood pouring into it and hardening the tissue so fast that her head was rocked backwards. She choked when the bulbous tip hit the back of her throat, but she quickly recovered.
Naruto groaned as she eagerly sucked him in. Her tongue swished around, massaging the underbelly of his member and salivating all over it. He threw his head back with a deep grunt when she started swallowing greedily and repeatedly, pulling his rock hard dick down her throat. He could feel each constriction of her already tight gullet pulling him closer to the brink.
She started bobbing her head back and forth slowly. Her throat dragged away reluctantly before sucking back hungrily over and over again. A warmth and tightness the likes of which he had never experienced encased his cock and rapidly spread through his body.
With a final grunt, Naruto emptied himself in her, shooting thick ropes of semen directly down her throat or splashing in her mouth before overflowing down her chin messily as she continued to bob her head.
Naruto slumped down and landed on his butt. He felt exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. It was a sensation that felt different from the others he had experienced since his Remoulding, but he couldn't quite understand why.
Was it because it was his first time?
His new senses were all sharper than his human ones had been, but to counterbalance that there was the fact that they were slightly displaced. Like looking at the reflection of an image, rather than the image itself. He had already guessed that it was because his 'body' and his soul were no longer connected the way they had been. His soul was no longer dependant on his body, so his body's senses were not as intense.
But this… Sex… It was new. He had never even masturbated before. And maybe, because he had nothing to compare it to, it felt much more… Real.
His female Clone interrupted his musings as she finished licking herself clean. "That was quick. And I mean… Really quick. I don't think you lasted much more than a minute! Either I'm just that good… or you're just…"
With a pop of smoke she was forcefully dispelled, leaving only Naruto in the cabin, his eyebrow twitching angrily.
'I'm really going to have to do something about that mouth of hers. Well… The mouth is okay, but that tongue… No, the tongue is great but… Maybe I should buy a gag…'
He felt the urge returning steadily, only satisfied for a moment. He quelled it.
The solution was a decent one, despite the female Clone's attitude. He would definitely be repeating it, and probably going further as he gained more experience, but he would have to make sure not to overindulge. He could already tell that it would be like a drug. Pleasant… but addictive if he didn't keep a hold of himself.
Naruto got to his feet and fixed his clothes, then left his cabin.
When he got back to the beach the meal was still cooking. The scent of gently Spit-roasting lamb wafted through the warm air.
Some of the girls were still in the water, but most were now sunbathing to dry off before they ate.
He went a bit higher up the beach and sat under a palm tree to think. Now that his previous projects were completed he had to find something else to work on. Not that that would be hard, his knowledge of Fuuinjutsu and his imaginative mind were collaborating to bring all sorts of half formed plans to mind. From ways to create his own militia, to a few very interesting ideas that would take the General Sealing Method to an entirely different level.
But those were things for a later date. Right now he knew exactly what he wanted to do. Improve the Sea Empress.
He loved travelling on her, but there were so many ways in which she could be better. The fact that it would allow him to test run some modified Fuuinjutsu was just a big bonus.
First, he would find a way to make more space. If seals could make it possible to seal large things in thin sheets of paper, it stood to reason that they should be able to increase the size of a room. At least that's how he saw it, he just had to find out how.
Security seals wouldn't be too hard. He would just have to paint the appropriate arrays in the right places.
The biggest issue was that he didn't want to be limited to travelling by sea, or more generally, by water.
A flying yacht! How cool would that be?
He pondered the idea seriously. 'I could modify gravity seals to reduce gravity's effect on the vessel rather than increase it. Then, maybe, a Conversion Seal to create wind to propel it.'
Naruto got out a brush and some ink, to start working on an initial version of the seal, when a bump on his bare foot made him look down.
He blinked, twice, as he met eyes with a small water turtle. It had a bright green shell and yellow skin. It had longer than normal fore-flippers, shorter than normal back-flippers and a short tail. It had a cute little head with small round black eyes and a cheerful… smile?
"Hello little one." He said with a chuckle as he picked it up and placed it in his lap. "Well maybe you can save me some paper huh?"
With that said he dipped his brush in the pot of ink and started to paint the gravity seal modifying a few of the Kanji so that it would reduce the effect of the natural force rather than increase it. The modification in itself was remarkably simple. The reason that it wasn't used to, for example, make people move faster, was because it wasn't worth the negative effects.
When Naruto's Clones had read about the history gravity seal, there had been a note that said that a seal master had created an anti-gravity seal and applied it to his body. He had thus increased his speed to prodigious levels. He could jump higher, even going so far as to be able to completely negate gravity's effect on his body, allowing him to levitate.
The down side was that, in the long run, it had severely weakened him. His muscles became used to operating under less gravity. His bone's gradually lost density because of the lowered pressure. The effect had been such that, by the time he noticed it and removed the seal, his body had no longer been able to properly cope with a normal amount of gravity. He had recovered eventually, but it had left him with permanent lesions.
Finishing up with a last stroke of his brush, Naruto looked over the array that he had painted on the back of the turtle's shell and nodded in satisfaction. It was exactly how he like his Fuuinjutsu, clean, efficient, and flawless. There were no more kanji than was absolutely necessary, it would use as little youki to activate it as possible, and the array was precise enough that nothing could go wrong unless it was tampered with.
He leaned back against the tree and closed his eyes. Making the modification was easy enough but, now that it was done, he couldn't just rush in and slap it on the Sea Empress' hull. He would need a lot more than just anti-gravity seals to get the result he was looking for.
The strange noise made Naruto blink his eyes open, only to stare into a pair of black, perfectly round, eyes.
"What the fuck!"
He jumped back, or tried to, and slammed his head into the palm tree, making it shudder under the force of impact. He ignored the cracking of wood as the tree trunk splintered around the back of his skull, and stared owlishly at the small turtle that was now hovering level with his face, a good few of feet off the ground.
His eyes widened as he realized what had happened. The anti-gravity seal had activated.
'That… That shouldn't be possible! I didn't charge the seal so how…'
His shocked thoughts trailed off when he noticed that the small reptile was emitting a low level of chakra as it hovered, expertly using its flippers to direct itself as if it had been doing so all it life.
The little animal had actually charged and activated the seal all by itself, and was now using it to fly!
"Well, at least that's proof that it works, right?" He asked rhetorically.
He grabbed it gently by the shell and examined the activated array. It took up most of the small turtle's back, and the black calligraphy of the Fuuinjutsu actually looked rather good on the shiny green background.
There was that sound again, but it sounded different, as if it had a different meaning. As if… it was trying to say something.
Naruto looked the small creature over with a critical eye. "Are you some sort of Summon?"
He frowned. That sounded suspiciously like a 'no'.
"So… You're just a normal turtle then?"
He quirked an eyebrow in disbelief. "A flying turtle?"
As if to prove its point, the flying turtle wriggled free from his hands before rising in lazy circles and landing on top of his head.
Naruto shrugged. There were stranger things in the world than flying turtles.
He got to his feet, making sure not to drop his new 'friend', and went over to where the meal was about to be served.
They stayed another five days on the island. Naruto hunted a few boar, and the women found a surprising amount of wild vegetables, so they had fun roasting them on a spit on the beach. It gave an interesting and adventurous feel to the meals and everyone enjoyed it.
The young Demon continued his training. As soon as he could perform a jutsu without the use of hand seals, he would move on to another one. He was no longer quite as strict with the number of Clones he put in a group. He would create a few hundred and have them perform the same jutsu repeatedly until they exhausted themselves. When they eventually dispelled, the accumulation would give him the experience of casting the same jutsu several thousand times. With that experience, the next batch of Clones would be able to cast the jutsu using less hand seals and, eventually, none at all.
His water walking was now at the level that he could fight unhindered on the surface. The small variations that were necessary each time he changed the distribution of his weight had become second nature.
He had worked on shifting Forms. Mostly doing so when his companions were asleep, or at least well out of view. He was now able to go from one Form to the other in the blink of an eye.
He could also hold level one of the Chakra Accelerator perfectly. Feeling his entire being accelerated and strengthened to twice its norm was almost as intoxicating as the power of his full sized Demon Form. He had no problem controlling his movements, despite the doubling of his speed, because his senses were also accelerated. The only problem so far, was that sound became distorted.
The thought that, when he mastered level five, his acceleration would be thirty-two times faster than normal sent shivers of anticipation down his spine. His body was human, but it was a perfect human. He would be able to reach a level of physical conditioning that only a High-Kage could hope to rival. Multiply that by thirty-two and the world would literally be standing still for him.
He also knew that he should be able to use the Chakra Accelerator when in his Demon Form. But he wasn't ready for that yet. He would have to work his way up to it, bit by bit, step by step, so as not to give in to the temptation of such awesome power.
He would control it, not the other way around.
He also had a smaller group of Clones drawing up a blueprint of the Sea Empress and planning out the modifications that were to be made. There was still some work to be done before the plans were complete, but he estimated that, with the right work force, it shouldn't take more than a week to strip the yacht down and fix it back up.
The flying turtle, now know as Tama-chan, had become a constant companion. She could often be seen gliding through the air or resting on his head.
And so, with the break over, the Sea Empress set off again, to complete the second, and last, leg of their journey to the Land of Sea.
The Sea Empress docked in the largest port town of the Land of Sea thirteen days later. Naruto sighed as he watched ten of the fourteen women walk off after some rather heartfelt goodbyes. They had only known each other for a month or so, but Naruto would miss them. A little.
'Well, nothing's stopping me from visiting them later.' He told himself. 'With their share of Gato's money they'll be able to start a new life.'
He had told them all that, if they had problems, they would be welcome at his compound back in the Land of Waves. He had read a few basic psychology books and, from what it said, it wasn't rare for husbands to blame and be abusive towards their wives for being raped, acting as if she had willing cheated, no matter how ridiculous the idea was.
With Tazuna seeing to the reopening of the sea lanes, they shouldn't have too much trouble getting away.
Naruto glanced up at Tama-chan as she landed on his head. He started walking down the wharf in search of a dockyard, distractedly sending a Clone to pay the docking fee.
He soon found the right area, and was directed to the master of the dockyard.
"So, what is it you'll be needin' lad?" The broad shouldered and heavily muscled man asked.
Naruto pointed off to the far side of the harbour where the Sea Empress was visible.
"See that yacht there? The Sea Empress. I need to dry-dock her so I can put her through some remodelling. I have my own work team and I'll need about a week, a week and a half to be safe."
The man rubbed his chin slowly, measuring up the vessel, before nodding. "Alright, that'll be easy 'nough. We've not had all that much business lately, truth be told. Bring her 'round and we'll get her out the water. You say you got your team, but if you be needin' tools I can loan you some. As for the pay… We'll see how long it takes. You can pay up before we set her back to sea. Alright?"
Naruto nodded in understanding. He would have his Clones take care of that. The plans were all set so they wouldn't need his guidance.
Apparently, the Land of Sea had also suffered from Gato's reign. But it was nothing compared to Wave. Naruto already had most of the materials that he needed for the modifications to be done, and he felt relatively sure that he would be able to buy the rest here.
That trail of thought made him ask the dock manager another question. "Say… I've heard rumours about a sea monster, do you know anything about that?"
The man sighed and nodded tiredly. "Bad business that! There've been rumours, that's for sure! And sightin's! Plenty of sightin's. At first, people said it was the sea come alive. The water would rise up like a terrible monster and break ships apart. I 'member the broken planks and torn sails from one of the ships driftin' into the harbour one night and we had to close everythin' down to clear it all up.
"A few people escaped. Found themselves driftin' to shore. But the rest? Well, they went missin' didn't they? No one knows what happened to 'em, and only one girl ever came back. People don't much like to talk about it. There's been talk about sendin' a message to one of 'em Ninja Villages, and getting' 'em to take care of whatever sea creature be hauntin' us. But that'll be a last resort that will! We've got a quiet land here! We don't need no Ninjas buttin' in on it!
"Lately though! Well, the stories 've changed! Only the big merchant ships get attacked now, an' plenty of survivors aft'ward! But they be sayin' that the monster's a Fish-Woman! Kaima, they're callin' it! The Ocean Demon. I'm startin' to think that it be pirates usin' the monster as a cover to do their piratry. We don't get 'em often in the Elemental Nations, but they do crop up every now an' then."
Naruto frowned. "What about the girl? The one who escaped. What did she have to say?"
The man shook his head. "Ah, she's not talkin'. She came back all covered in bandages an' that! People be a bit wary of her now! She lives down on the beach, in a lil' shack."
After a few more minutes of meaningless conversation, Naruto bid the man farewell and wondered into the town, pausing only to send some Clones to his yacht. They would find a hotel for the remaining women to stay in, and then move the yacht over to the dockyard.
Naruto hummed merrily as he walked across the beach.
It really was a marvel, how much his disposition had changed from the silent and glum child of Konoha, to the carefree and confident attitude he now sported. He was no longer trying to hide every little thing about himself, so he smiled and waved charmingly when strangers greeted him on the street.
He was on his way to a small wooden shack near an isolated outcrop of rock. He had gleamed that this was where the girl-who-escaped lived.
Apparently, the citizens of the Land of Sea had had the usual human response to the unexpected or unexplained: fear. In the time since the girl's return, that fear had turned to resentment and hatred, and now Isaribi's life was starting to emulate what Naruto's had been like in Konoha. Luckily for her she had only been back for a month or so, and things hadn't gotten too bad.
When he got to the cabin Naruto knocked smartly, three times, and waited. A few seconds passed, there was a sound of shuffling feet, and the door opened warily.
The girl was of average height, with shoulder length hair and two thick bangs framing her face. She wore a faded blue, sleeveless over-shirt, that reached down just past mid-thigh and was held at the waist by a white length of cloth that wrapped her around several times. She had dull brown, knee length, baggy shorts. She was bare foot.
She also had bandages covering her forehead, her left cheek, her neck, all of her left arm, her right forearm and her right leg.
Despite her slightly scruffy appearance Naruto found her quite pretty. She looked a bit undernourished, and smelt a bit dank, but it was nothing that a good meal and a warm bath wouldn't fix.
'She looks a few years older than me.' He said to himself. 'Well she would if I looked my age… She's probably thirteen or fourteen.'
"You don't look like a sea monster!" Naruto blinked, he hadn't meant to be quite so… blunt.
He tried to soften his earlier words. "Not that I would know what a sea monster should look like. I just wouldn't imagine that it would look like… you."
Isaribi's face paled dramatically and, from the fearful look in her eyes, he was willing to bet that she hadn't had many pleasant visits lately. She pushed past him roughly, although it wouldn't have taken much for him to stop her, and ran as fast as she could down to the water.
Naruto sighed as he watched her dive in and swim off, quickly disappearing from view as she moved into deeper waters.
He glanced quickly around the area to make sure that it was empty, then looked up to his turtle friend. "Tama-chan, I'm going to chase after her. Do you want to stay here, or can you hide in your shell for a bit so I can carry you in my mouth?"
He nodded as she floated off and landed on a rock. "Alright. I'll be back as soon as I can."
Naruto shifted into his smallest Demon Form and dove into the water. It didn't take long for his well adapted eyes to pick up on her trail, and he swiftly followed in her wake.
His serpentine eyes narrowed when he noticed that he wasn't gaining on her 'Damn she's fast!'
He pushed himself harder, trying to use the water currents to his advantage, but even then it took him awhile to catch up to her. Her sheer speed underwater was incredible. Admittedly, his full sized Demon Form would outstrip her with ease, but at his current size she had the clear lead.
He finally tracked her down to an isolated sea cave. He surfaced to find her crouched on a rock near the back of the cave with her arms hugging her legs to her body. Naruto decided to put on a bit of a show.
In his Demon Form, he rose out of the water and stretched out his wings dramatically. Then, taking advantage of her stunned, wide eyed expression, he shifted back to his Human Form and landed softly on the water, sending small ripples across its surface.
"Hey!" He said lightly, making an effort to sound reassuring. "I just wanted to talk."
Isaribi came to her senses and jumped to her feet. She changed into her Kaima Form, making Naruto's eyebrows rise in interest. Her swimming speed made it obvious that she was no mere girl, or even Kunoichi, but he hadn't quite expected this.
Her skin, and even her hair, had become covered in blue-green scales. A crest similar to a dorsal fin formed on the top and back of her head. Her forearms became more developed, and her hands and feet became webbed.
From her posture, it seemed that she had some rudimentary fighting skill, but it was obvious that she had no, or very little, training.
Isaribi growled at him angrily through clenched teeth. "What do you want?"
"Like I said I want to talk to you" Naruto replied with a shrug. "When I first heard about the Kaima I was curious as to what an 'Ocean Demon' looks like." He gave her a once over. "You're…not what I expected."
She seemed to relax slightly when he didn't attack or start insulting her. Then she frowned, her eyes clouding over in a saddened expression as she took in his words.
Naruto raised an eyebrow. 'Apparently, she isn't too fond of her condition.'
"Now that I've seen you, I'm even more curious." He continued, gaining her attention. "You don't look like a bad person. Your first reaction was to flee rather than to attack, so you aren't an aggressive person. Your current Form matches the description of the 'monster' that has been attacking the ships, but you live in a poor shack, so I doubt that you're getting any profit from it. Less people are disappearing, and you look a bit skinny, so I doubt that you're eating the people from the boats." She paled at his words, and Naruto had to hold back a smirk. He threw his arms out dramatically. "I give up! None of it makes sense! Why are you attacking ships?"
She opened her mouth as if to reply, but then snapped it shut. She narrowed her eyes in suspicion.
"Who…" Her eyes narrowed even more as she remembered him turning into a big snake with wings. "What are you?"
"My name, is Uzumaki Naruto." Naruto answered with a charming smile. "As to what I am… I guess I'm sort of like you. A monster. Or I my case, a Demon. I, however, chose to be like this. And I'm starting to suspect that you didn't."
Isaribi scowled at being called a monster, then looked puzzled. "What do you mean you chose?"
"I mean that I was Human, but I decided to become a Demon."
This was the first time that Naruto gave so much information about himself, but he felt it was the best way to gain her trust.
When he dropped off the last of the girls, it would just be him and Tama-chan. He was considering staying in Water Country for a while, and maybe helping out in the civil war to gain some battle experience. But it would be nice to have some permanent company.
He didn't want to fall into the same cycle he had been in in Konoha. Isaribi, who had similar circumstances to what his had been, seemed like a good potential friend. If he could improve her life at the same time, then so much the better.
That wasn't to say that he trusted her, not yet at least. That was something that would take time to build, and if she proved unworthy of the chance he was giving her, if she tried to use what he told her against him… Well, he would kill her.
"Why would you choose to become a Demon?" She asked incredulously.
"Being Human is overrated." Naruto said. "Sure… they smile and laugh and can be full of kindness. But they can also glare and curse and be full of scorn. Something that you're finding out, if what I've heard around town is true." He sighed and gave another shrug. "I went through something like what you are going through now. I got tired of it, and becoming a Demon was my way out. Frankly, things have been a whole lot better since."
He gave her a moment to mull over his words before pushing forwards. "So, what about you? How did you become a Kaima?"
"I-I was kidnapped." She started tentatively, tears welling up in her eyes. "Wh-when I woke up, we were in an underground l-lab. T-they experimented on us… I was the only sur-survivor. T-then he… Amachi… he said if I h-helped him he could turn me back to no-normal."
Naruto almost rolled his eyes at the overused manipulation tactic, but refrained from doing so in case it offended the girl. She already seemed to be having a breakdown and he didn't want to make it worse.
"Let me guess." He drawled. She looked up at him, having fallen to her knees as she cried, and blinked to try and clear the tears. "This 'help' he wants you to give probably consists of attacking the ships that come to and from the Land of Sea."
She nodded, tears splashing over her cheeks. "Sometimes yes, mostly he wants me to spy on them. Then he decides which ones to attack. Sometimes, I have to kidnap someone."
Naruto sighed. "You do realize that, in all likeliness, he's never going to 'fix' you, don't you?"
His comment only made Isaribi's tears flow faster. She knew that it was the truth, but she had been trying very hard to convince herself otherwise. Everyday, she told herself that it would pay off. That Amachi would make her normal again. If Naruto had come to her just a few months later, she would have stubbornly denied his words. But now, she was helpless as they cut through her like a hot knife, severing what little hope she had been nurturing. She would never be normal again.
A fresh bout of sobs wracked her body.
Naruto tilted his head back, averting his eyes to the cave ceiling. Part of him wanted to slap her and tell her to get a grip of herself. The part that had steeled itself to the cold treatment it received in Konoha and had responded to it with equal coldness. But another part of him, the part that knew that, without Kyuubi's intervention, he would probably be an attention starved shell, a mere shadow of the 'man' he had become. That part genuinely wanted to reach out to her.
But pity wasn't what she needed. Not that he would have given her any if it was. What she needed was an opportunity.
He looked back down at her and cleared his throat to get her attention. "Do you know where this guy, Amachi, lives?"
She sniffled and frowned. "Not really. But I know where the lab is. I can usually find him there, why?"
"Because I'm going to kill him."
"What! No! You can't! If you do I'll be stuck…"
"As a monster?" He interrupted. "As Kaima? So what? You do realize that even if he can turn you back, the townspeople will still call you a monster for attacking them, right? I've already heard that some of them are thinking about sending a mission request to one of the Ninja Villages for your assassination."
Isaribi's eyes went so wide in shock and fear that Naruto almost felt bad. It wasn't a downright lie, just a bit of an exaggeration, and either way the end result would be the same, with her most likely ending up dead or captured.
"I'll leave you to think things through." Naruto said as he shifted into his small Demon Form. "I'll come to your shack tomorrow, and you can tell me if you'll let me help you out."
Isaribi blinked as the eight foot long, Winged-Serpent spoke to her. Its mouth didn't move, but its voice still carried. It turned and started to glide out of the cave, its last words drifting over to her just before it tucked its wings in and dove into the water.
"Besides… you should ask yourself, do you really want to waste your time trying to fit in with humans when they make it clear that they hate you? Or do you want to find people who will accept you, no matter what you are?"
The next day, as Naruto walked to Isaribi's hut, he thought about the progress the clones had made on his yacht.
At the moment, they were concentrating on the main seal work such as the strategically placed anti-gravity seals.
Rather than ink, they were using a special Fuuinjutsu paint of Naruto's own design.
The ink that Naruto usually used for Fuuinjutsu was a normal, albeit high-quality, ink. What made it special was that it was mixed with appropriate quantities of a special solution produced from the sap of the Chakra Tree, the tree from which Chakra Paper was made. This improved the channelling properties of the ink which in turn made the seals more durable. The only medium that was invariably better was the sealer's own blood.
Naruto had simply done the same thing, but using high-quality boat paint instead of ink.
The Clones were placing two rows of ten seals on each side of the hull. The seals were circular with a roughly seven foot diameter. They were similar to the seal he had tested on Tama-chan, but customised to support the several ton weight of the Sea Empress. Technically, they were powerful enough that only two seals were needed to lift the entire vessel, but the extras would prove useful if ever the ship was damaged. It wouldn't do for a few scratches to send his ship to ground.
Placed in strategic locations all around, under, and on top of the yacht, were many sets of three relatively small seals. Each set was comprised of a two foot diameter seal, with two half-foot diameter seals placed next to it, one on either side. The one was a Chakra Conversion Seal, and the two were Chakra Absorption Seals.
The Chakra Conversion Seal converted normal chakra, or in this case youki, into a stream of youki infused wind. All of the seals were, or soon would be, part of a system that centred around the yacht's wheel. By turning, pulling, or pushing the wheel, Naruto would make the yacht turn, climb, or descend.
Unfortunately, the conversion process was wasteful. Approximately half the youki input was lost during conversion and, while he had more than enough youki to spare, wastefulness wasn't something that Naruto tolerated in his own work. The two Chakra Absorption Seals remedied the problem by reabsorbing the youki back into the yacht's system. The re-absorption wouldn't be absolute but, when all was said and done, Naruto estimated that there should be less that five percent overall waste.
The yacht's artificial youki system was similar, in principal, to any living being's natural one.
A high-quality chakra-conductive metal was used to create lines comparable to Youki Pathways. He made sure that they were all easy to access, so as to facilitate maintenance, and in some places they were doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled over, so as to channel larger quantities of youki if the yacht's functions demanded it.
The numerous, and various, seals that would be connected to the lines would act in much the same way as the Tenketsu in a regular chakra system. They would be release points for the youki lines, and give shape to the ship's functions. The easy access of the youki lines would make it simple enough for him to add or remove new or old seals as he wanted them.
Of course, all of the clearly visible seals would be tied to the best Concealment Seal in Naruto's repertoire. He hadn't really created anything, he had just heavily modified pre-existing seals, but he didn't want anyone to be able to copy his work.
Naruto reached his destination and knocked on the wooden door of Isaribi's shack. When it opened, he saw that she had heavy bags under her bloodshot eyes. She had obviously been crying and had gotten very little sleep.
Nonetheless, he didn't see any point in coddling her. "Well… you look like shit! Have you at least made a decision?"
She scowled. "Let's just go already."
Naruto chuckled and followed her. It was good to see that she still had some spark left.
They walked to the water and dove in. Both shifted to their other form before swimming off, Isaribi taking the lead. Naruto followed her to one of the smaller islands and entered through an underwater cave that led to a submerged tunnel. When they emerged, Isaribi turned back to her Human Form and sat on the ledge with her feet still in the water. Naruto followed suit moments later.
He looked around and saw that they were in a large concrete room with two passageways leading out.
Isaribi sighed tiredly and pointed to one of the exits. "The lab's down that way. That's always where Amachi comes from anyway. I always just wait here for him to tell me what he wants."
She then pointed to a corner where a there was a surveillance camera. "He already knows that we're here."
Naruto got to his feet, his youki-created clothes drying up instantly, and started walking towards the passage. When he got to the entrance he looked over his shoulder with an arched eyebrow.
She shook her head and looked down at her feet. She splashed them in the water a few times before speaking in a quiet and subdued voice. "No, I'll just wait here."
With a nod, Naruto turned and walked silently down the tunnel. He knew there was a possibility that this was a trap but, honestly, it didn't really matter. It wasn't as if anything could really hurt him.
He came to a stop, then shook his head. That was exactly the sort of thought that he didn't want to have. Arrogance was a weakness. Even if it was next to impossible that anything would permanently harm him, it wasn't entirely impossible.
He walked for ten minutes, disarming a number of security traps on his way. They were mostly traps the likes of which were explained at the Academy. Things like senbon and kunai traps, spiked pits and flamethrowers.
He did miss a few, and ended up triggering them, but he was able to avoid 'harm'.
He spotted several cameras along the way, so he knew that this Amachi could see him, but that didn't bother him.
One of the advantages Naruto had noticed about being able to gather Nature Energy was that, with a bit of concentration, he could locate chakra signatures as if he were a Sensor Type. It required quite a bit of focus, so he couldn't yet use it during a fight, but, with the casual pace he was currently walking at, he was able to grasp quite a bit of information.
There were only two signatures in the area. One was staying in the same place quite a distance behind him, Isaribi. The other, which he assumed was his Amachi's, was located deeper down and hadn't moved in the last five minutes. Other than that, Naruto could tell that there was nothing remarkable about the man. He had average chakra reserves and a decent Water Affinity, but nothing worrying.
Naruto finally came to a stop in front of a heavy metal door. He could sense his target on the other side.
Naruto punched the door with his full strength, which was comparable to a rookie Jounin Taijutsu specialist's.
The door didn't even budge.
A closer look showed intricate seals all around the door frame. He recognised Orochimaru's style from some of the files and reports stolen from Minato's office.
'That explains why he didn't try to run. He must feel pretty safe in there. Level 1!'
With a mental command, Naruto activated level one of the Chakra Accelerator. Thanks to his intensive training, he had long since past the point where he had to call out a jutsu before using it.
He lifted his right knee up, then thrust his foot forwards, delivering a hard front-kick to the door.
The entire hall trembled with the impact and thin spider web cracks spread along the walls, but the door held fast.
Naruto sighed. He could deactivate the Security Seal. It would be a whole lot safer. But it would take more time than he was willing to spend.
He was still working on this level. He wouldn't be able to hold it in a combat situation, not for long at least, but right now he had all the time he needed to focus properly.
He kicked again and smirked when, rather than the door, an entire portion of the wall it was attached to was blown in. There was a mighty crash as iron, stone and concrete flew across the room he was trying to enter and slammed into the wall on the opposite side. He shielded his eyes as a cloud of dust billowed up.
Naruto chuckled, deactivated his acceleration, and waited for the dust to settle. 'It really was a strong door. A shame the wall didn't match. I'll have to be careful not to make the same mistake.'
He ventured into the room, stepping over some debris of the smashed-in wall. The metal door, and its connected fragments of masonry, were deeply embedded on the other side. And, if the bloodied, twitching, amputated foot was anything to go by, Amachi had literally been flattened between the two surfaces. The disappearance of his chakra signature confirmed it.
Naruto began to search through the room, sealing everything he could find. He would have Clones go through it all, and maybe find a way to reverse what had been done to Isaribi.
In his opinion, it would be better for her to just accept it. But that would be her choice, not his.
Six days later, Naruto's Clones had finished work on the newly baptized Sky Empress. Since the yacht could now fly, the new name seemed fitting.
Many seals had been linked up to the ship's youki lines, all of them providing functions of varying necessity.
One of the seals bent the air around the yacht to envelope it in a slipstream. It would make it so that, even at high altitudes or in strong winds, the deck would have a 'normal' air pressure and a soft breeze. Of course, he could have made it so that there was no breeze whatsoever, but that would take away from the pleasure of sailing!
By bending the air around the vessel, the slipstream would also reduce friction, allowing it to navigate with more ease. When in the water, the slipstream would only affect the non-submerged parts.
Another seal was a different modification of the Gravity Seal. It created an artificial gravity field throughout the entirety of the yacht so that, even if it banked hard to one side, or even tipped upside down, the passengers wouldn't fall overboard.
There was an assortment of Strengthening Seals applied to key structural points. They strengthened the ship, making it less vulnerable in the eventual case of a crash landing or an attack. Since she had already been quite sturdy, the Empress could now take a good deal of damage.
He had installed a Barrier Seal somewhat similar to the one that surrounded Konoha. It would prevent anyone from using the Body Flicker Technique to board the yacht unless their chakra signature had been keyed in. Also, so long as Naruto was on the yacht, he would be immediately alerted if, and where, an un-keyed person breached the barrier. If he wasn't on board, an alarm would ring throughout the ship.
The yacht's youki system was powered by a number of batteries charged with Naruto's youki.
It was impossible to directly store chakra in a seal, at least… for the moment, but Naruto had found a way around that. These batteries were six foot high, by three foot wide, cylinders of chakra conductive metal. They had seals all over their surface to contain and direct the youki into the ship's youki lines, as well as an indicator of how much youki was left in them.
Unfortunately, because of the way some of the seals worked, there would be a constant drain on the batteries' reserves. While the Barrier and the Gravity/Anti-Gravity seals had relatively low consumption, the slipstream and the wind propulsion/direction would burn through youki quite fast, depending on how much he travelled.
He had a whole set of spare batteries, but he was already trying to come up with a better solution.
The interior of the yacht, cabins, bathrooms, and corridors, had also undergone a lot of improvements.
Separate groups of Clones had worked on each room in the yacht. They had applied Space Expansion Seals, which were in fact modified Storage Seals, to the entrances and all the corners, turning an average sized room into a space big enough to hold a house. Then each room had been renovated.
Bedrooms had been turned into luxurious suites. Lounges had been turned into much larger versions which now included indoor games. He had managed to get a video projector, and had used it to set up a cinema room. Some of the larger cabins had been turned into indoor gardens, using seals inspired by the ones that Suna used in their greenhouses. Bathrooms had been installed with swimming pool sized hot-tubs and waterfall-like showerheads. All in all, this part of the works had turned the inside of the Sky Empress from a luxurious yacht to a something akin to a luxury holiday resort.
It had also drawn quite a few questions. Since he had had to buy many of the appliances from the local suppliers, the town people, unaware of the inner expansions, had been wondering how he could fit all the stuff inside.
The dinghies had also been modified, although to a much lesser extent. They now sported an Anti-Gravity Seal and a single Wind Conversion Seal attached to the rudder. Rather than a youki battery, the dinghies' drew directly from whoever was steering them.
It went without saying that Naruto hadn't neglected his training, and his Clones had finally read all of the Fuuinjutsu material in his possession.
He had, however, decided to wait before he launched himself into creating 'original' seals. He wanted to gain some real combat experience before he created his personal style. He would do it either by taking missions or, more likely, joining the civil war in Water Country. Hopefully, he would be put in situations that would push him to his limits, forcing him to not rely on his demonic advantages.
He had also had a Clone read Amachi's work, to see if he would be able to help Isaribi. She had decided to come with him when he left, since she had accepted that she would never have much of a life in the Land of Sea. She seemed resigned to her condition, but Naruto was confident that, with time, she would come to embrace it, and maybe even flourish with it. But he still wanted to try and find a way for her to be human again, just so she could have a choice.
That, however, would require the aid of a Medic-Nin.
Medical Ninjutsu, and Genjutsu, were arts that required innate talent more than anything else. Even with Shadow Clones, Naruto doubted that he would become proficient in either unless he found a way around that. He may be able to master some low level Genjutsu and healing techniques, but 'fixing' Isaribi's 'problem' would undoubtedly require the skills of a true expert.
The best option would be Tsunade. She was well known to be the world's best Medic-Nin. Unfortunately, she was a wanderer, so it wouldn't be easy to locate her.
With all the work done, and everyone ready to leave. Naruto paid his due to the dock master and left the Land of Sea.