Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.
Uzumaki Mito had been born on the shoals of Whirlpool Country. She bled for her home, with no mightier goal than the protection of shifting currents, rising cliffs and the sunset glinting off stucco buildings and their clay tile roofs that housed her brothers and sisters in arms.
It was a common sight to see her down at the shore, searching for perfect seashells and practicing a combination of the Suiton jutsu she knew. Sometimes children would join her, asking for tips and tricks, all wanting to become as respected as the Uzumaki princess. Mito would impart as much knowledge as she could, from ninjutsu to fūinjutsu to training them in basic chakra manipulation. She would have them all try floating a shell above their palm, training their control and their concentration. Chakra was the way of the shinobi world after all, and in the time of tribulation and war they lived in any instruction given could save a life.
In her youth, Uzushiogakure was named Uzu Village and the only attraction it gained was being the home of the Uzumaki clan. Renowned for their fūinjutsu expertise and their vitality, Mito’s clan could bring demolition upon rivaling clans were they so inclined. They were not warmongers though, they simply wished to live a peaceful life of laughter and cheer, and would protect their own to their dying breath.
And then Senju Hashirama ventured to their small island nation with the words Konohagakure and friendship on his tongue and the full reality of war was introduced to the island nation.
The Uzumaki had always been neutral, even when they sent aid to the Senju as they felt were right, considering they were cousin clans. The Warring Clans era brought little strife to their self-sufficient isle, cut off as they were from the mainland. Aside from defending their coasts from bloodthirsty Kaguya, slippery Hōzuki and vivacious Yuki, the Uzumaki were left alone. Maybe in one life the Uzumaki had been born among desert dunes and craggy cliffs, bringing bloodshed in equal sweeps as the Uchiha and Senju as they reached the edges of Wind Country. In this life, the were people of the sun and surf, and they desired peace for themselves and future generations. So they took up their weapons, they created a treaty between the Uzumaki clan and Konohagakure, and they fought against their combined enemies with equal ferociousness during the First Shinobi World War.
Mito could not fault her clan for that. Not even as Uzu Village became Uzushiogakure, as children were told lies of grandeur and heroism, as her hand was gifted to the Shodaime Hokage as a gift of friendship. She was taken from her home of laughter and wonder and brought to forests of secrecy and serenity, banned from fields of bloodlust and struggle. Mito was a princess, she was an honored wife, and she was too valuable too lose even if she was a kunoichi. Still, she served both her home and Konohagakure as much as she could. She assisted with storage scrolls and explosive notes, with medical and barrier seals, she helped where she could and brought ruin to those foolish enough to breach Konoha’s walls.
She did not fault Konohagakure for the war it had brought with it’s creation. Nor did she blame her childish husband or his stalwart brother. The great tree was flourishing with hope and the Will of Fire, and she was happy to see the fanning of flames. Life was better, if not for shinobi then for the tinier villages that had been starved and tarnished by the previous era of subterfuge and guerilla warfare. If only the leaves knew of the rot seeping through the tree’s roots as decades passed—if only they would listen to the warnings she gave. Because she had truly grown to care for the place she considered a second home, even with Uzushiogakure a burnt husk and her people scattered.
But Mito was of seashells and whirlpools and Konohagakure would never hold her true allegiance, even if she wished to save it form internal destruction. Konohagakure was murky and quiet, but it was still capable of being soft and warm. It would never be her true home, but it had been gifted with remnants of Uzushiogakure's sunshine. It had been gifted with a hope for it’s future, and Mito was determined to see it survive.
Uzumaki Kushina had been a good girl. A bit misguided, a bit discriminatory, and still aching from Uzushiogakure's destruction, but she was good. A true Uzumaki temperament allowed free reign among solid oaks, that was raised without the staggering weight of politics and treaties to weigh her down.
She had been a victim of chance. A quirk in her chakra and she was wrapped up and sent to become the second to bear Mito’s burden without a chance to refuse. When she became a sacrifice, Kushina's seal was too solid, too secure, to allow the passing of chakra between host and captive without her consciously searching for it. A decision Kushina would never take, because she hated how she had been used, and she would not bend. So Kushina fought without the Kyūbi's chakra, relying on her chains and her sheer wit to survive as she grew. As she fell in love. As she became pregnant.
And then the Kyūbi had broken free, Kushina was on the verge of death, and there had been only one option.
Kushina had been good with seals, and with Mito guiding her she was gotten better. But Mito had passed when Kushina was still young, and though she was a member of the Uzumaki clan, Kushina had been seven when Uzushiogakure’s fell. She had not been raised with their combat nor the full flexibility of their fūinjutsu. She was a shell trained like a leaf, and it burned at Mito’s soul. Because Kushina had been good, but she would never be great.
And that's why Mito had had a plan, back when she was still alive and she was faced with all the turmoil she could see in the future. Her home had been lost, it’s protectors scattered, and not even their legends and victories remained. So there was only Konohagakure to protect, because that was where she had created a home away from home, and where her descendants would survive.
Mito wondered, sometimes, who remembered the originator of jinchūriki.
Vessels of war distributed like candy, damning their host’s lives, and no one seemed to really think about Mito’s actions. That fight between Hashirama and Uchiha Madara had been laughable. Her husband had fought to regain a lost friend, the traitor had fought to sever his lost bond to humanity.
Mito had interceded and fought to free a god of nature.
The Kyūbi was said to be vile, a chakra being of hatred and carnage, but Mito knew better. Mito knew the legends passed down the Uzumaki clan from the time of the Rikudō Sennin. The secret room within the crags of Uzu Village that told of the Jūbi, of the Rabbit Goddess and of her sons. The bijū were part of nature, part of the planet, but it was a human who formed them. To Mito’s regret, it was also humans who deformed them.
The Kyūbi had been...difficult, to say the least, when she had trapped him within her soul. Mito had been a proud kunoichi—proud of her skills, proud of her power—despite any limitations being the Shodaime’s wife put upon her. The Kyūbi took her pride and her legs when she sealed him within her. Mito did not fault him, though she resented her husband and the Uchiha who brought her to this state. As time passed, as years turned into decades spent bedridden with only her fūinjutsu and Kushina near the end, Mito had talked with the Kyūbi. He was shrewd, he was cynical, and his sense of humor was distasteful and twisted. It should have been expected, because for a millennia the bijū had been experiencing humans tearing the world asunder. Of course he had walked away with a revulsion for mankind.
It had been understandable, because even Mito was falling to such a fate after living within the cancer-plagued village that had taken her from her home. Humans were flawed, and it would be their doom, but she realized it could also be their greatness.
Mito was a master of fūinjutsu, potentially the last left due to Hashirama’s genes dominating their children. She could manipulate the seal suppressing the deadliest of the bijū with a flick of chakra, a seal that she had formulated in the seconds it took to leap from a Mokuton branch to the beast’s back. It took little effort for her to tweak at her seal until she was confronted with the sight of the sealed fox.
It had been raging, overwhelmed with anger and a need for revenge for his chained fate within her soul, but Mito was a Uzumaki and above all she was human. She was stubborn and resilient and determined, and she was just flawed enough to look a god of nature in the eye and ask for help.
Mito was the originator of jinchūriki, and she would right the wrong she had created.
Eventually they met an agreement, even if it had taken years of perseverance on her part. Mito didn't fault him for it, as she was finally able to share her schemes. Because once upon a time the little Sandaime’s student had requested her guidance in fūinjutsu and it seemed she had seemed to instill respect into the tiny pervert for he divulged a prophecy he had been told after a jaunt within Mount Myōboku. A child of prophecy, a chance of destruction or salvation for the world. It was a chance of hope, so Mito and the Kyūbi had come to an agreement as her life finally ended.
The Kyūbi was chakra after all, and chakra was part of the planet, was a part of life, and as much as the Kyūbi was joined with life, so too was he joined with death.
Uzumaki Kushina had been a bit misguided, a bit discriminatory, but she was good. She was terrified of the Kyūbi, she refused to utilize his power, but she was still the instrument to his and Mito’s stratagem. She was the creator of the world’s savior.
Uzumaki Naruto was formed in the womb of a jinchūriki, more connected with nature than most Sages by the time he was a fetus. The Kyūbi's was sealed in Kushina's soul after all, he was contained within her very body, and humans were malleable. So before he had ever been born, Uzumaki Naruto was already connected with life and death. He was as much a spawn of the Kyūbi as he was Uzumaki Kushina and Namikaze Minato’s.
When he became the third Kyūbi jinchūriki, Uzumaki Naruto already knew the face of the Shinigami.
He also knew the ghostly visage of Uzumaki Mito.
Uzumaki Mito’s greatest regret of her life and of death was her recreation of the jinchūriki. She had modeled her seal with a fleeting thought of the Rikudō Sennin’s legend and the defeat of the Jūbi, sending the forming Hidden Village’s into a frenzy of power grabbing with her husband the main distributor. He ignored her warnings, spouting equality and peace, and Mito’s second greatest regret was refraining from punting that idiot through a wall.
When Uchiha Obito brought about the Kyūbi Attack on Konohagakure, Mito watched and thought back wistfully to the day of the Kyūbi’s first sealing, imagining she had secreted away Madara’s soul in a teakettle instead much like those lunatics in Sunagakure. It would have solved so many of her issues.
Today, though, she had no regrets. Watching tiny Uzumaki Naruto carefully etch out a kanji with a worn calligraphy brush, Mito was even proud of her actions. She felt a pang at the loss for Kushina, even when that the little spitfire had just been a stepping stone for her plans, and she even despised the tinge of relief she felt at Kushina's passing. Mito hated the phrase ‘for the greater good’ due to the unwieldy nature of the future, but for her and the Kyūbi’s plots, this was a preferred outcome. There was no interference with their plans for Naruto other than maltreatment and patrolling ANBU.
That they were patrolling for threats against Naruto’s continued survival and not actually bothering to interact with the toddler was even better, if damaging to the his psyche.
“Hey, hey, Mito-baa, did I get it?” Naruto suddenly chirped, holding up the paper he had been working on.
Mito’s violet eyes met Naruto’s cerulean and she couldn’t help the fond smile edging across her lips. Naruto was a tiny clone of Kushina with Minato’s coloring, the Kyūbi’s influence barely noticeable until one focused on the whisker marks decorated his cheeks or the elongated canines so reminiscent to the Inuzuka. He was Konohagakure’s gift of sunshine, and Mito truly loved the little boy, even if she and the bijū within his soul planned to use him as a catalyst for the world’s survival.
Maybe in one life Mito had passed on to the Pure Land, leaving Uzushiogakure’s history to rot and ruin. In this life she collaborated with a demon so that her last Konoha-bound relative could see her and be taught the ways of her lost home. So that she could impart to Naruto knowledge long lost and guide him down of road of fūinjutsu mastery and unleash the change she had been restricted from causing.
It was fine, though. Mito was of seashells and towering cliffs, bound inside a village of forests and lies. Her origins were found in sun and surf, and she would teach Naruto how to laugh, how to be happy, even among the malcontent of Konoha.
If most forgot that the Uzumaki clan could be as turbulent and unforgiving as the maelstroms that protected Uzu Village, Uzushiogakure, for countless centuries, then it would only be to her benefit. It was only fitting that Uzumaki Naruto would gain the knowledge of his ancestors and reign punishment on those that had forgotten the Rikudō Sennin’s legends. She would encapsulate him in good cheer, a figure blinding in his brightness, a shell within the leaves that no one would expect. He would become a legend that nobody would see until it was too late.
A crooked grin marred her features and Mito resisted the urge to cackle. “It’s good, Naruto-chan. Now do the next one.”
Groaning echoed around the small, dingy apartment and this time Mito’s ghostly body shook with cheerful laughter.